Some quotes & news bytes on the nuclear energy Tsunami

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Via the GWPF – After Tsunami Disaster, Expect Nuclear Delays & Global Run On Cheap Fossil Fuels

Forget wind. Forget solar. Forget green energy. Japan’s nuclear disaster will only intensify the global race for cheap fossil fuels while most future energy R&D will go into nuclear safety. –Benny Peiser, 14 March 2011

Any potential switch away from nuclear power is likely to favour gas-fired generation, the most practical low carbon-emission alternative. –David Musiker, - Reuters, 14 March 2011

Nuclear power should have a part to play in cutting carbon emissions. But safety fears could kill its revival – at least in the west. Although support for new nuclear construction has been creeping up in the US and Europe, it remains brittle. Even one serious accident could shatter it. –Financial Times, 14 March 2011

Germany’s federal government intends to check the operating time of each of the 17 German nuclear power plants. The question of coal energy is newly emerging. –Die Welt, 14 March 2011

Cost remains the biggest obstacle for any revival of nuclear energy. Momentum for a nuclear comeback also has been slowed because other energy sources remain less expensive. Natural gas is cheap, especially with the expansion of supplies from shale rock, and there’s been no legislative action to tax carbon emissions. — Jia Lynn Yang, The Washington Post, 13 March 2011

Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that delays in offshore oil and gas drilling permits are “ridiculous” at a time when the economy is still rebuilding, according to attendees at the IHS CERAWeek conference. –Darren Goode, Politico, 11 March 2011

Other headlines:

Japan’s crisis may have already derailed ‘nuclear renaissance’

The world has seen a surge of nuclear reactor projects recently, and President Obama has made a push for nuclear power. But the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear plant may abruptly halt those efforts.

The nuclear crisis in Japan, even if authorities are able to bring damaged reactors under control, has cast doubts on the future of nuclear power as a clean-energy solution in the United States and around the globe, - Los Angeles Times, 14 March 2011

Japan Earthquake Holds Lessons and Warnings – Science Insider, 11 March 2011

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166 thoughts on “Some quotes & news bytes on the nuclear energy Tsunami

  1. One of the worst earthquakes in history, and of 55 nuclear plants only 11 damaged. And it’s still too early to understand the extent of the damage. I’d say that’s pretty damn amazing, and something to build upon for the future.

  2. @Joe Di S: Media and clue should never be used in the same sentence without an odd number of negating clauses. Yours had 1 so it’s ok.

  3. Can there be a pecking order among headless chickens?

    So how do the mainstream media (MSM) establish any sort of reliability standard when it comes to reporting on scientific or technological issues, anyway? It’s become unavoidably obvious that they don’t get above the “ignoramus” level when discussing nuclear power systems.

    Would anybody care to assemble a “Media Idiot Glossary” listing all the ways in which these bloody fools expose their stupidity in science reporting?

    I propose that we start with the expression “partial meltdown.”

  4. The doubts that Fukushima cast are the result of fear, fuelled by grandstanding opponents of nuclear power. What is needed is perspective. To begin with, BraveNewClimate carries a simple explanation of the Fukushima situation here:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

    And surprisingly, there is bipartisan support for rational perspective. Here are posts from the British left-wing blog Spikedonline, and the right-wing journalist James Delingpole. They are on the opposite sides of the political spectrum, but in this they take remarkably similar lines:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/10292/

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100079664/did-climate-change-cause-the-japanese-earthquake/

    Here’s the 2005 UN perspective of the consequences of the Chernoble meltdown:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article563521.ece

    At that point, they found that 56 people had died as a result of the disaster, and estimated that over time, perhaps 4000 premature deaths in total might be attributable to it. And even that estimate was carefully couched:

    ‘Total eventual deaths due to radiation could reach 4,000, including those of evacuees, a statistical prediction based on estimated doses they received. But, “as about a quarter of people die from spontaneous cancer not caused by Chernobyl radiation, the radiation-induced increase of only about 3 per cent will be difficult to observe”.’

    Perhaps. And this from the UN, which has a tendency to hype risk consequences.

    In fact, there are many deaths that result from non-nuclear energy sources – oil rig explosions, hydro dam accidents, gas and oil pipelines, even windmills, the darlings of the urban greenies.

    Fukushima is not even in the same league as Chernoble. The reactors are better-designed and well contained. The overheating problem is so far under control, and expert assessment is that the control measures will succeed.

  5. Our news media are generally perverse. They take troubles caused by a tsunami and treat them as a reason for being suspicious about nuclear power in general. The rational response would be to focus on the special safety needs of nuclear facilities built in areas that are prone to flooding by tsunamis. Obviously, a nuclear plant in Nebraska is safe from tsunamis.

    Why do we not hear about the safety record of the French? Doesn’t the French nuclear program provide some powerful evidence for the safety of nuclear power?

  6. 14 passengers died in a bus accident in New Jersey this week. This is more deaths in a single incident than those who have died in the history of the US nuclear power industry.

    Should we immediately stop driving buses as a result. No. However, the nuclear power industry is tarnished due to the invisibility of radiation, and the connection between nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation.

    No matter what happens in Japan, this could be a serious blow to the entire global nuclear power industry.

  7. @ Tucci78 says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Can there be a pecking order among headless chickens?

    So how do the mainstream media (MSM) establish any sort of reliability standard when it comes to reporting on scientific or technological issues, anyway? It’s become unavoidably obvious that they don’t get above the “ignoramus” level when discussing nuclear power systems.

    Would anybody care to assemble a “Media Idiot Glossary” listing all the ways in which these bloody fools expose their stupidity in science reporting?

    I propose that we start with the expression “partial meltdown.”

    I was watching Anderson “Catastrophe” Cooper last nite on CNN and he actually admitted he flunked science. As if we didn’t know that already. ;)

  8. I knew nuclear power is not save…
    (unless they use thorium, but I’m not sure how far they are with implementation. Does somebody know?)
    Also, as it stands at the moment, it uses a lot of water for cooling which causes
    1) more GHG
    2) the returned warm water (minus O2& CO2) kills all the fish and other ocean life
    better go for coal (minus (CO, SO2 and heavy metals) or even better, gas.

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/more-carbon-dioxide-is-ok-ok

  9. Hindsight would dictate that an earthquake zone like Japan is the wrong place for an uranium pile. Thorium piles might be safe though. I do not know much about these so let the engineers decide. Nuclear power is fine in places like France, UK, some parts of America and many others which do not have such large quakes. So keep them away from subduction zones.

  10. Curiousgeorge says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I was watching Anderson “Catastrophe” Cooper last nite on CNN and he actually admitted he flunked science. As if we didn’t know that already. ;)
    =============================================

    lol, it’s starting to become clear as to why they believe big Al. He only did poorly in science, as opposed to failing.

  11. yes i am not sure the public is going to buy this safe and sophisticated technology BS any more, what it looks like to the average Joe is that the nuclear experts started throwing buckets of sea water on it to cool it after the lid blew off.

  12. IMO, these safety concerns would be greatly reduced if we could just develop the safer fuel… Thorium. Accelerator driven systems can be turned off like a switch, and although they require extra energy to drive the process, it might finally satisfy the safety concerns.

  13. OH BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MELTDOWN?!?
    WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE MELTDOWN!?!?

    It is both a sign of human technological maturity and an endless source of humor that so many people love to find new reasons to get hysterical outside of religion and superstition. It’s also quite sad, but why feel shame at how other humans represent their species? Best to laugh at them and vote against them whenever possible.

    BTW, Fox News this morning is painting a ridiculously grim picture, saying fuel rods in a separate reactor are now “fully exposed”.

  14. Forget the science and engineering behind nuclear plants. The public, the politicians, the banks, the insurance companies will be done with them. Fortunately, we are swimming in natural gas, and that is what our future electricity is going to come from.

  15. @HenryP: Actually, there was a Scientific American piece many, many years ago when they were still talking about science, that showed that the fish loved the Ct. River water warmed by a nuke plant. All thermal steam based generation including geothermal releases water vapor to some extent in their cooling towers. I fail to see your point. Sorry.

  16. “Obviously, a nuclear plant in Nebraska is safe from tsunamis.”

    Earthquakes, too. You’d think that, after Bodega Bay, the world’s fascination with combining nuclear powerplants with fault lines would have ended. You’d have to protect against tornados in Nebraska. Build the plant underground in what amounts to a massive tornado shelter, I suppose.

  17. I’d like to see a post about the thorium reactors that Mike Smith advocated here recently. There’s no reason to think that new reactors would still use 40-year-old designs.

  18. Nuclear power should have a part to play in cutting carbon emissions.

    I still haven’t seen a good case for why carbon has to be cut.

  19. If gasoline (petrol) was discovered/invented now, it would be deemed far too dangerous for use. My maternal grandfather was a pioneer motorist in NZ and most of his contemporaries saw him as unhinged due to his championing of the Horseless Carriage.
    The great mass of humanity are frightened by what the are ignorant of; my generation grew up under the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but the mechanics of nuclear power were a closed book to most of us, therefore the 1940s Atomic Bomb was the mental construct of atomic power and still is for most who are frightened of it due to their own ignorance.
    But, given time, we grow up and learn stuff. ‘The Wizard of Oz’ movie scared me witless at the age of five; now I know the storylines I apreciate the movie as a wonderful piece of alegorical storytelling, but the movie is wildly unsuitable for five-year-olds who don’t have the maturity and concepts to understand it.
    Many journalists and alarmists are not very adult.

  20. The Japanese will learn from this and build stronger and safer. The Fukushima facility performed beyond its design specifictations and all but survived an earthquake far bigger than anticipated. Strange that none of the media latched onto that little factoid…

  21. I watched the late news in Canada cover the situation at the reactors in Japan. The first night the CBC had a sound byte from Michio Kaku, the string theorist, who is Japanese American (presumably, from a media perspective, this makes him qualified), then they had an interview with a guy from ‘Friends of the Earth’ whose qualification appeared to be that he was available. Geography was not this guy’s long suit: he warned of a potential radioactive plume (implying it would reach North America – 5,000 miles to the East). CTV had no scientist, just an environmentalist.

    Last night CBC had an environmentalist, then an extensive interview with the guy running Bruce Power who is an expert on nuclear reactors. CTV had one or two more environmentalists.

    I was impressed that CBC at least managed to find one person who knew something about the situation and nuclear reactors. Nonetheless, the coverage has been strongly directed towards the opinions of unqualified environmentalists, rather than the well informed.

    All this goes to show that the media are, at a minimum, pig ignorant. Not just about science, but in general. Its a shame, really.

  22. Chinese officials have requested extra compensation for the families of Chinese students killed by the Christchurch earthquake. They say China’s one-child policy means the families will face long-term economic hardship.
    I guess if you don’t believe in God, then there is no such thing as an “Act of God”
    Some “climate scientists” are saying AGW causes earthquakes. New Zealand ratified Kyoto on 19 December 2002. China never did, so China brought on this earthquake by not ratifying Kyoto. China has only themselves to blame. China should pay the families for their failure.

  23. Senator Lieberman (I-Conn) has called for a moritorium on nuc plants. We know what that means.

  24. I’m sure that the Japanese will feel a lot safer with more of this from “safe” natural gas, when the next big one hits.

    Natural gas, the “most practical low carbon-emission alternative” — just don’t get too close when one of those tanks or pipelines bursts.

  25. The following URL sent from a colleague in Japan has a video of the shape of the tsunami as it struck Japan. It seemed to be almost perfectly lined up with the coastline so that it struck the entire coastline almost simultaneously.

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/

  26. What amazes me is that an estimated 10,000 people are dead as a result of the earthquake and tsunami and the press is focusing on the troubles at a nuclear plant which, as near as can be determined, has not harmed anyone and is being safely shut down .

    Perverse.

  27. Its too soon to make any clear and factually supportable judgements about global nuclear plant safety until much more information is available on what actually happened to the nuclear plants impacted by this huge event in Japan. The antinuclear people will always attempt to take advantage of such events to push their nuclear fear agenda but at this point most everything said is based on speculation. From an energy availability and utilization perspective the world is no position to abandon 500 nuclear plants today or any time soon. There are no doubt lessons to be learned from these unfortunate events in Japan but that process will need to unfold in the coming months and years hopefully through rational and thoughtful deliberations.

  28. The technical merits of nuclear power, the “need” to switch from coal for electrical power generation, and the safety record of commercial reactors will get lost in the fog of perception.
    Even if the Japanese themselves build new, safer, reactors, I suspect this crisis will kill the promising re-birth of nuclear power in the United States. It won’t matter that we have plenty of land that is geologically stable or that current reactor designs are far better than these older reactors. What will matter for the next decade or so, what will only matter, are the current reports of meltdown(s) in Japan—a technology giant using US-designed reactors.

  29. stantonn says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:08 am
    “telegraph now reporting the fuel rods are exposed in no.3.”

    I wonder which Telegraph reporter went and had a peek!

    Pure unadulterated speculation!

  30. I think Algeria just announced 1000tcf of shale gas under their country, Poland 80tcf etc etc.

    The world uses 2.9tcf per yeat.

    NG is the fuel for the next 1000 years.

    Already the US plastic industry (which was moving overseas) is expanding because cheap NG is a good feedstock.

  31. I think this disaster should be an advertisement for Nuclear Power.

    When it’s all said and done, no loss of life due to nuclear radiation after a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

    But the pro-nukes will be forced to defend what will be easily defended, or else the anti-nukes will turn it into a poster child, a la Three Mile Island.

  32. All that has to be done, since most reactors are near the sea because of cooling water proximity, besides building them away from fault lines, is to elevate the backup generators. If they were elevated, the reactors would be all still functioning perfectly.

    As to the heating of the coolant water and harming fishes? Facts are completely contrary to that speculation. I live in Florida, and our reactor nearby is a haven for fish and manatees. Wildlife authorities say that this situation saved thousands of large fish, manatees and alligators from the recent cold spell. So, reactors save endangered species, without a doubt.

    Nuclear reactors save lives, in many ways.

  33. mkelly says:
    March 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Lieberman has always shown that he is the master politician. He only lies when his lips are moving.

  34. I’d be willing to bet that far more off duty nuclear workers were killed in the tsunami than will ever be killed by radiation from the plants.

  35. Like it or not, perception vs. reality is what trumps, and nuclear power will take a hit from this event. Alternative energy, especially solar will be a big winner, and with cheaper, more flexible, and more efficient solar coming on-line, this will be the biggest winner in the next few years. Look for the “off the grid” movement to gain momentum from this as well. Even so, all this alternative energy will not replace oil or coal for many decades, and (except for any new major incidents), nuclear will come back as well, eventually, but it will take some time…

  36. The problem with nuclear power plants is that they are designed by technicians who are thinking in operational efficiency as the standard for the design of the plants , whilst the safety of the citizen should be paramount in the nuclear design . Technicians are tending to put complicated technological solutions above simple common sense thinking , which probably is less influenced by cost efficiency thinking. Two examples from other industrial designing may elucidate the difference here . Based upon staying competitive in the market-place , mainly in the eye of the consumer , cars are manufactured in all sorts of attractiveness for the consumer and not like the famous trabant from a complete technological point of view with the lowest possible costings .
    40 years ago i coordinated the design of a horsestall for the b747 and we incorporated nearly all available experience and asked all experts in this field to improve the original design . The result was a horsestall , which was 100% safe for the horse and a dream for every horse-owner , but a technological very average design . It could be improved by any engineer who looked with an eye for best technical solutions . That is exactly what our competition did and they went absolutely no place as we kept nearly all the business by guaranteeing a safe journey for all horses that we carried . Yes put the customer first and let the technicians do the job there after . The reactor would have cost probably double the price , but human life would not have been in danger .
    Sometimes setting some absolute standards may look a bit overdone , but there will always be a moment that murphies law is being played out .

  37. has not harmed anyone and is being safely shut down.
    Well, not exactly. There are people injured from the explosions and contaminated. And the reactors are not save yet. But that is indeed nothing compared to the casualties of the earhquake and tsunami.
    By the way, as I understand the explosions were caused by hydrogen. Is that not the fuel of the future?

  38. mkelly says:
    March 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

    “Senator Lieberman (I-Conn) has called for a moritorium on nuc plants.”

    Senator Lieberman called for a temporary moratorium on nuke plant construction until the ‘lessons learned’ from Japan could be digested.

    Since there are no nuclear plant currently under construction all it really means is a possible temporary delay in the start of construction of Vogtle Unit #3. Site prep is going on at Voglte #3 but actual full scale construction wasn’t expected to be commence before late this year anyway.

    Congressman Markey who is the biggest pain in the nuclear industry’s backside has called for a temporary moratorium on construction of nuclear plants in ‘seismically active’ locations. The last I checked no one in California is looking to build a nuclear plant anytime soon anyway.

    There are going to be ‘lessons learned’, nothing wrong with pausing to learn those lessons.

  39. Henry P and John Marshall both mentioned the Thorium MSR reactors, the ones China is hot to implement on a large scale.

    I did some additional reading on the ThMSR reactors and am pretty convinced that they would be smaller and NOT likely to threaten meltdowns. Smaller is good. It sounded like the Chinese might even be able to make them modular. Modular is good, as it affords the possibility of mounting them with flexible connections which would be good in quakes – and if the building can absorb most of the impact of a tsunami, the equipment would fair well. It is something engineering can deal with readily.

    I could be wrong on this, but that is my take for the moment. If anyone has learned something that would contradict this POV, give a holler.

  40. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:44 am
    Like it or not, perception vs. reality is what trumps, and nuclear power will take a hit from this event. Alternative energy, especially solar will be a big winner,

    Living as I do in a three storey house, whose upper floor outside windows have not been cleaned in the 25 years that I have owned it, because of the perception of window cleaners that the elevation might be too dangerous to justify the financial return, I have accepted the reality that at the age of 71, I am unlikely to install solar panels that readily accumulate a green algal bloom, on the surmounting roof.
    This despite my govt. charging me a renewable tax with which to bribe me by paying many times the going rate for any power that might be produced.
    In my experience very few people in the UK are aware of the annually increasing Renewable Obligation tax on their power consumption, but when they are, the retribution on the incumbent party will be swift and sure.
    Needless to say, I spend some of my time informing a number of incredulous acquaintances and I hope all UK sceptics do the same.

  41. On a biz trip this morning I listened to Limbaugh. He has commented on same specific info sent him by Dr Spencer we know.

    He also said the death rate for wind turbines is many times as high as nuclear.

    Then he was gratefull since we have never had a nuclear accident in the Navy vessels. As we speak, a great aircraft carrier is near Japan and serving helicopters loaded with water. The carrier desalination services are 400,000 gallons per day.

    Aircraft carriers can also deliver electricity, lodging, medical care and so much more.

    Rush I rarely listen to. He said Japan will rebild this community before we will have our trade center area rebuilt.

  42. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:44 am
    “Like it or not, perception vs. reality is what trumps, and nuclear power will take a hit from this event.”

    That is the call to action of the MSM. It is perverse. If the media had reported the facts or, failing that, had simply supplied reasonable perspective, nuclear power would not be an issue in this matter.

    This particular perversity demands some specifics. The MSM’s approach is to adopt the story line that they can expect to cause the greatest reaction from the fearful, the hysterical, and the programmatically hysterical. They behave as if Al Gore were the one editor watching over all of them. Now, that is dangerous. If ever there was a use for the Precautionary Principle, it is here. The media must realize that their hysterical reporting prepares the ground for disaster.

    The MSM are creating the news, not reporting it. That is what you get when postmodern ideology drives home the message that reality is socially constructed.

  43. How well do these anti-nuclear advocates think a coal mine and it’s workers would survive a level 9 earthquake or a gas or oil storage facility? One of the biggest blazes was in an oil refinery. Nuclear has the advantage of being compact and relatively easy to over-engineer for safety.

  44. bubbagyro says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:29 am
    “As to the heating of the coolant water and harming fishes? Facts are completely contrary to that speculation. I live in Florida, and our reactor nearby is a haven for fish and manatees.”

    I live in the world and my experience there has shown me that every heat source in a river or coastal area is a magnet for fish and all aquatic creatures.

  45. Many thousands could still die as a result of these “accidents”. Not from the radiation release but from lower standard of living and increased poverty due to nuclear plants not being built.

    In this regard the fear mongering about the nuclear plants may kill more people than the Tsunami.

  46. So lemme get this straight. A 30-odd year old nuclear plant survives an earthquake 100 times more powerful than it was designed for, it fails safe, is managed according to a plan, and that’s somehow an indictment of nuclear?

    If fear of potential future fatalities is the concern, forget nuclear accidents; think about earthquakes and tsunamis. How about we abandon the entire west coast of the US and Canada before the Cascadia fault lets go, as it very well might within a generation. No, I didn’t think so.

  47. R. Gates says:

    “Like it or not, perception vs. reality is what trumps…”

    And Gates’ perception of non-existent CAGW trumps his thinking process.

    True dat.

  48. http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

    Why not get the news from the IAEA – the monitoring authority?

    3 reactor is cold and the other two are now getting there.
    Hit by an earthquake, sunami both sets of redundant generators wiped out and still shut down keeping the safety of the general public held above there own – These guys deserve a medal!

    The explosions are because they vented extreemely hot steam into the buildings to alow for short half life elements to decay before releasing the steam into the atmosphere. Of course steam that hot tends to break into hydrogen & oxygen which is rather explosive. Knowing that it was likely to blow if released inside they still took the risk rather than exposing any public to short lived radioactive elements.

    Fly more than twice a year or eat to many bananas and you’ll get a bigger dose.

  49. I guess GE is to blame. It is their mess. They are the new BP and Halliburton. We need to sequester 25 billion from them to pay for destruction.

  50. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 14, 2011 at 9:23 am
    R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:44 am
    “Like it or not, perception vs. reality is what trumps, and nuclear power will take a hit from this event.”

    That is the call to action of the MSM. It is perverse. If the media had reported the facts or, failing that, had simply supplied reasonable perspective, nuclear power would not be an issue in this matter.
    ______
    Governments, Corporations, and individuals all assess risk vs. reward ratios on decision they make. Yes, the MSM color that perception to one degree or another, but perceived problems with nuclear safety, real or not, will alter those risk vs. reward ratios. As, alternative energy sources, especially renewable solar (which is growing by leaps and bound in terms of efficiency vs. cost) appear to offer a higher reward for a lower risk and lower cost, you will see the shift that direction, MSM or not. Solar energy stocks are soaring today, and and their sales are booming this year. The price of oil plus now this nuclear issue in Japan are all pushing these alternative energy stock and sales higher higher. That’s where the momentum is, and is likely to continue to be for quite some time, MSM hyperbole or not…

  51. Someone on another blog commented that if ignorance of basic science were a fissile material, the AP along could power the US.

    Fox News is going on about “a possible meltdown,” repeating it three times in thirty seconds. SIGH. I’ll stick with reading the TEPCO press releases for my news, thank you.

  52. “All this goes to show that the media are, at a minimum, pig ignorant. Not just about science, but in general. Its a shame, really.”

    I’m wary of giving them the “benefit” of stupidity. While they take a position that is easy to defend through ignorance, part of me feels that they know very well what they are doing. As Rahm Emmanuel so eloquently put it, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

    Environmentalist reactionaries are a lot easier to put up on-screen next to looped images of fire, destruction, and dismay. When you’ve got an optic of a skyline with a large plume of smoke rising, the desired audio to put with it is an agitated voice describing either how terrible the situation is, or how potentially terrible the situation could be. Putting on an actual expert in the field telling you that everything is going according to plan / procedure simply doesn’t make for nearly as entertaining a television product.

    Besides, for years and years now, we’ve been told through fictional entertainment that expert scientists are generally lying, evil, and in the pocket of whatever global-industrial complex is making their Gulfstream payments. Is he in a suit or a labcoat? He’s lying. Is he in plaid flannel with dishelevel hair and a 5:00 shadow? THAT’S the guy with the truth!

  53. Am I alone in thinking that this might be good for nuclear? The fear of the unknown is always worse than reality. Up until now all sorts of horrendous outcomes could have been postulated as a consequence of an earthquake or sunami. Now we have power plants that have withstood both of these at levels never before experienced. And these are the old generation plants which could surely be improved upon now. It puts my mind at rest at least.

  54. The bbc are almost crying with relief, they finally found a catastophist who`ll spout any b******s that supports the bbc catastophist,anti everything agenda.
    He tells us it`s as bad as chernobyl many people will made ill and there is a likelyhood of a nuclear explosion.
    Then againBusby was also the National Speaker on Science and Technology for the Green Party of England and Wales.
    From wiki
    Christopher Busby (born 1945) is a British scientist and activist known for his work on the health effects of ionising radiation. In addition to his academic appointments he is the director of Green Audit, an environmental consultancy agency,[1] and scientific advisor to the Low Level Radiation Campaign which he set up in 1995.[2] Busby was also the National Speaker on Science and Technology for the Green Party of England and Wales,[3][4] and the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks, based in Brussels.No particular axe to grind there then!
    Of course the bbc failed to mention that they, and he sing loudly ad nauseum off identical hymn sheets.
    And he is indeed still wearing that ridiculous beret.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Busby

  55. It really sucks that the “China Syndrome” thing is keeps popping up. Given what happened, the designs are doing what they should do. I mean really, first a near 9 quake, then a tsunami, it is kinda hard to get the portable generators on site with all that is going on, and you can’t keep making power when there is no use for it.

  56. R. Gates says: “…Alternative energy, especially solar will be a big winner, and with cheaper, more flexible, and more efficient solar coming on-line, this will be the biggest winner in the next few years.”

    Solar power is the wave of the future. And always will be.

  57. The late Michael crichton,

    States of fear,

    In a speech Crichton claims:

    But the shock that I had experienced reverberated within me for a while. Because what I had been led to believe about Chernobyl was not merely wrong-it was astonishingly wrong. Let’s review the data.

    The initial reports in 1986 claimed 2,000 dead, and an unknown number of future deaths and deformities occurring in a wide swath extending from Sweden to the Black Sea. As the years passed, the size of the disaster increased; by 2000, the BBC and New York Times estimated 15,000-30,000 dead, and so on …

    Now, to report that 15,000-30,000 people have died, when the actual number is 56, represents a big error. Let’s try to get some idea of how big. Suppose we line up all the victims in a row. If 56 people are each represented by one foot of space, then 56 feet is roughly the distance from me to the fourth row of the auditorium. Fifteen thousand people is three miles away. It seems difficult to make a mistake of that scale.

    But, of course, you think, we’re talking about radiation: what about long-term consequences? Unfortunately here the media reports are even less accurate.

    The chart shows estimates as high as 3.5 million, or 500,000 deaths, when the actual number of delayed deaths is less than 4,000. That’s the number of Americans who die of adverse drug reactions every six weeks. Again, a huge error.

    But most troubling of all, according to the UN report in 2005, is that “the largest public health problem created by the accident” is the “damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information … [manifesting] as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state.”end of quote

    Is this true? How many really died from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl?

    http://www.michaelcrichton.net/video-speeches-independent.html

  58. Nuclear is safer than solar, in which solar cells during manufacture generate tons of toxic waste and utilize poison gases, such as chlorine and fluorine. What if the fluorine gas escapes from a tanker en route? What happens if an earthquake (many solar manufacturing plants are in California near faults) breaks containment at a solar cell manufacturer? How many must die before we abandon this hazardous, deadly business? Death from chlorine gas poisoning is excruciating and fast.

    I live on an island in the Gulf of Mexico where we have 300 days of sun a year. Even with that favorable environment, the economics does not work out. Of all the well-to-do people here, I have not seen one solar cell house yet, although I have heard of a couple. They are not durable. The improvements in efficiency in the last ten years are pitiful. Without 50% efficiency, and they are far from that—if it is even do-able—they never last past the pay-back life. They cannot withstand even a moderate hurricane. The list goes on.

    We get most of our power here from the Nuke on the mainland. The manatees and dolphins are all for it.

  59. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 9:51 am
    Theo Goodwin says:
    March 14, 2011 at 9:23 am
    R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:44 am
    “Yes, the MSM color that perception to one degree or another, but perceived problems with nuclear safety, real or not, will alter those risk vs. reward ratios.”

    Color their perception to a degree? R, they are flat-out scare mongering. They are turning a non-event involving nuclear reactors into a nightmare the size of Armageddon. They are replacing fact with their perception. They are lying or, perhaps, they are incomprehensibly stupid.

    By the way, R, you have never actually responded to anything I have said when commenting on your posts. Would you please address what I say and the words that I use when I comment on your posts? We do want an even playing field, right?

  60. jorgekafkazar says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:15 am
    “Solar power is the wave of the future. And always will be.”

    In Central Florida, I run my hot water heater on solar power. That means cold showers December through February. How much good is solar power going to do in New York City?

  61. It’s a pity that we can’t find a way to store solar power that’s as efficint as plant life.

  62. Theo, I’m curious about solar panels in a hurricane path. Were you affected by any of those hurricanes that came through and across central Fla a few years ago? If you were, how did your panels do? My sister also had solar panel water heating, but she wasn’t in the paths of any of them.

  63. The BBC is as usual giving too much air time to Greenpeace with their myopic view of nuclear energy to quote the Goons ” we’ll all be murdered in or beds” again.
    It is most likely that when all this is over the the Japanese will have lost 3 possibly 4 reactors and that the consequent release of nuclear material will be minimal. Was anybody actually harmed by the 3 mile Island incident? yet it features large in American history and condemned fission reactors for a generation. Nobody in their right mind will build a Chernobyl type reactor again ( or indeed one like the UK’s Windscale reactor). Of course we should continue to research nuclear power and look to safer and more efficient reactors ( Candu type: intrinsically safe or the Thorium cycle like China) but lets not condemn nuclear power because in the 6th strongest earthquake and Tsunami 4 reactors died with minimal effect on human health. In terms of loss of life and damage to the environment coal is much worse and dare I say so might be those inefficient windmills

  64. SfrNfr says

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/14/some-quotes-news-bytes-on-the-nuclear-energy-tsunami/#comment-620232

    1) I have heard several reports of sealife being damaged by nuclear plants. True, I will have to look for it. You think this is not so?
    2) The point I was making is that, apart from the safety hazards, nuclear power releases a lot of H2O (g) which is a much stronger GHG then CO2. If indeed CO2 is a GHG. That still has to be proven (to me,

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/more-carbon-dioxide-is-ok-ok)

  65. jorgekafkazar says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:15 am
    R. Gates says: “…Alternative energy, especially solar will be a big winner, and with cheaper, more flexible, and more efficient solar coming on-line, this will be the biggest winner in the next few years.”

    Solar power is the wave of the future. And always will be.
    ________
    Not the future…it’s happening now…big time. Some amazing advances in the technology are right at our doorstep with decreasing costs and increasing efficiences that are truly amazing. See for example:

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-graphene-electrodes-solar-cells.html

    Solar power will be a part of every home and every office energy system mix in the near future. Going “off grid” for at least some of the power in homes and offices will be the norm, with atachment to the smart-grid to get credit for your excess power also a part of the mix.

    _______

    Theo Goodwin says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:42 am
    “Yes, the MSM color that perception to one degree or another, but perceived problems with nuclear safety, real or not, will alter those risk vs. reward ratios.”

    Color their perception to a degree? R, they are flat-out scare mongering. They are turning a non-event involving nuclear reactors into a nightmare the size of Armageddon. They are replacing fact with their perception. They are lying or, perhaps, they are incomprehensibly stupid.
    _____

    The media have always been sensationalist, so the issue of nuclear safety is just one easy mark for them the make money on by attracting readers and viewers. This is nothing new. There is no changing it, so why whine about it? Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and now Japan have become iconic reasons for the public to be generally hesitant about wanting a nuclear power plant in their neighborhood. For better or worse, right or wrong, nuclear power is going to take a hit from this latest event. Bemoan the MSM as sensationalist all you want, but it will do you no good. Solar power is a rising star that is getting better and better every day in cost vs. benefit ratios and this event, rightly or wrongly, will only boost that momentum for solar.

    By the way, R, you have never actually responded to anything I have said when commenting on your posts. Would you please address what I say and the words that I use when I comment on your posts? We do want an even playing field, right?

  66. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

    ‘As, alternative energy sources, especially renewable solar’

    The Saudi’s have been working on solar for 30 years. To the best of my knowledge they’ve never managed to solve the abrasion problem. I.E. Places with exceptionally good solar potential are deserts, sand is an abrasive. For solar panels to be viable they need to stand up to heavy abrasion. Thermal Solar needs water, water is in short supply in deserts(pay attention to the arguments over building a solar park in Southern California).

    So the places where solar is most cost effective either have an abrasion problem or a water problem.

  67. Solar power ?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

    Or more MSM scaremongering ?

    Chernobyl ?

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/chernobyl.html

    “In its final conclusions on the health effects of the Chernobyl accident, the UNSCEAR report stated the following:

    “The number of thyroid cancers (about 1,800) in individuals exposed in childhood, in particular in the severely contaminated areas of the three affected countries, is considerably greater than expected based on previous knowledge. The high incidence and the short induction period are unusual. Other factors may be influencing the risk.”

    One of these factors are what are called “occult” thyroid cancers, those detected at autopsies by histological studies, and which do not cause visible clinical disturbances during the person’s lifetime. These occult thyroid cancers occur en masse all over the world. For example, in Canada their incidence is 6,000 per 100,000 population; in Poland it is 9,000; in the United States 13,000; and in Finland 35,000. The highest incidence of thyroid cancers in children found in Russia, before the Chernobyl accident, was 26.6 per 100,000; in Belarus, 17.9; and in Ukraine, 4.9. Thus, the potential for the discovery of “excess” thyroid cancers, after the intense health screening that took place after the accident, is enormous”

  68. Rhoda R says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

    It’s a pity that we can’t find a way to store solar power that’s as efficint as plant life.

    Growing wood…..and burning it?
    Of course,that would impact on foodcrops

  69. The nuclear disaster in Japan seems to be largely an artifact.
    The reactors were safely shut down immediately on the first shocks from the earthquake.
    Thereafter, the problem becomes primarily financial.
    Shutting down a reactor permanently is easy, just drop the control rods and walk away. The residual heat will boil off the water in the reactor and once uncooled, the fuel will then disintegrate. Some modest radioactivity may be vented, but nothing like Chernobyl, where a good fraction of the core was blasted into the air by a reactor briefly generating a hundredfold multiple of full power, because all the control rods had been winched out of the core.
    TEPCO, the utility that runs these reactors, can at most be blamed for not recognizing early enough that much of this multi billion dollar facility was a total loss, so that the only priority was to minimize the perception damage, regardless of equipment losses. That would have had the sea water and boron cooling, which ends a reactors service life, started immediately, with the focus on keeping the reactors cooled enough to avoid emissions. They might have saved unit 2 then, with the resources spent on 1 and 3.
    As is, all three are lost, but with the accident 3 days ago, the residual heat in these reactors is now too low for any massive outburst.
    The crisis has passed, even though one could not tell from the headlines.

  70. The more I read the real facts about this disaster from a nuclear standpoint, the better I feel about nuclear power’s potential safety. I look at the media going alarmist, and I just laugh sadly at the stupid lies. Dr Kaku should be [snip] ashamed of himself, by the way. That guy is clearly fully intoxicated on the cool-aid of selling books instead of writing on research. The fact that “China syndrome” even came out of his mouth on air is shameful.

  71. Before this incident I thought melt downs lioek happened at Chernobyl were always catastrophic, watching the Japanese meltdowns I am learning that modern technology keeps all the mess in a sealed flask and meltdowns from now on will be minor events that do not impact on the environment. These events make me more inclined to accept nuclear energy as part of the mix.

    Even my Japanese wife, who gets emotional when nuclear power is mentioned, has understood that meltdowns can be controlled and dealt with safely; she is flying to Japan on Friday and is more concerned about this earthquake triggering a Tokyo earthquake while she is there than being poisoned by radioactive cesium.

    This could be good for the nuclear industry, it wipes out bad memories of Chernobyl

  72. harrywr2 says:
    March 14, 2011 at 11:28 am
    R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

    ‘As, alternative energy sources, especially renewable solar’

    The Saudi’s have been working on solar for 30 years. To the best of my knowledge they’ve never managed to solve the abrasion problem. I.E. Places with exceptionally good solar potential are deserts, sand is an abrasive. For solar panels to be viable they need to stand up to heavy abrasion. Thermal Solar needs water, water is in short supply in deserts(pay attention to the arguments over building a solar park in Southern California).

    So the places where solar is most cost effective either have an abrasion problem or a water problem.
    _____
    Solar energy technology is evolving rapidly. We are on the cusp of many cheaper, more efficient technologies that will make replacing a solar panel as easy and cheap as replacing a window in your house. Take for example, this kind of research:

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-method-molecule-reactions-breakthrough-chemistry.html

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-faux-trees-co2-o2.html

    I’m not saying there aren’t problems with putting current solar panels in certain parts of the world, but just as they have many glass skyscrapers in buildings in hot dry areas, so too, the cities in these areas in the near future will have millions of solar panels that will be as ubiquitous as glass windows.

    But thought the solar energy revolution is really only getting started, fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, hydro, etc. will all play a role in the total energy mix in the decades to come. The current negative press that nuclear is getting will only serve to give an an extra push to momentum that is already building for solar and other more green energy sources.

  73. Two generations ago, perhaps less, MSM would have reported entirely differently. The paucity of scientifically minded (let alone qualified) journalists today is demonstrated by the utter trash that some reporters spew out, which, unfortunately, is believed by the ever-growing multitude of like-minded members of the public, much to the ghastly delight of the water melons.

  74. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 11:27 am
    “The media have always been sensationalist, so the issue of nuclear safety is just one easy mark for them the make money on by attracting readers and viewers. This is nothing new. There is no changing it, so why whine about it?”

    Nope. False. The media once was a bunch of professionals with self-respect. Then anchors became stars and all hell broke loose.

    The MSM’s behavior cannot be explained by sensationalism. The tsunami was sensational and its effects are even more sensational. But the MSM is not covering those. Something else took their focus off the people and put it on the nuclear plants. There is an agenda at work here. Finally, this is not a case of “boys will be boys.” The results of this behavior are seriously harmful.

  75. Well Juliar Gillard has stated that Australia doesn’t need nuclear energy, coming from her that means we’ll have Russians out here building the old graphite burning/moderated type in four months. ; )

  76. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Solar power is the wave of the future. And always will be.
    ________
    Not the future…it’s happening now…big time. Some amazing advances in the technology are right at our doorstep with decreasing costs and increasing efficiences that are truly amazing.
    =========================

    It doesn’t matter how efficient they become – well actually, the upper theoretical limit is 100% – because they will never capture more energy than arrives from the sun. So to take your scenario to the extreme, and you could by thousands of square metres that you can unroll like a carpet for a few dollars, where can you put it? Roof top panels yield derisory amounts of power. My leisure centre has covered every square centimeter of the roof with hundres of square metres. I check the power readings every time I go there – all those hundreds of metres have never generated more than 3kw – about enough to boil the kettle.

    But if you unroll thousands of square kilometres all over the countryside, you will kill everything that depends on sunlight. See what the Greens will have to say about that.

  77. Don’t know about anyone else but I have been totally impressed with these reactor’s robustness. I had always thought them to be much more fragile.

    It always amazes me how easily mankind is blamed when it is nature that so regularly kills thousands upon thousands. Our world is better now than at any time in the past, despite our shortcomings.

    Thanks for all of the expert information supplied by fellow commentators here at WUWT throughout this unbelievable natural disaster.

    But one aspect of nuclear plant design I don’t understand. Why were the rectors scrammed in the first place. Why were the generators disconnected. If the reactor and generators were built as an entire integral system, the only problem would be what to do with the excess electrical load as power lines around the countryside broke their tie to the grid.

    To me every plant needs an acre of ni-chrome artificial load, basically a huge toaster outside the plant. Somewhere to dump the excess electric power being produced while a more controlled winddown is performed. That way the heat would be electrically transferred to the environment temporarily. Don’t shutoff the generators unless other problems occur, but instead, dump all of this excess energy to the air outside.

    The normal now is to disconnect the generators and then you always have the problem of huge heat buildup in the reactor. Never understood that logic.

    Just a thought.

  78. R. Gates says:
    Look for the “off the grid” movement to gain momentum from this as well.

    “Off the grid” seems like a better idea every day. Mainly because I think the grid may not remain functional too much longer.

    Madman2001 says:
    Perverse.

    That pretty much says it all.

  79. I’m in Australia. Two things over the last two days:

    The radio station that I listen to had people calling in voicing their opinion on whether Australia should have nuclear power “now that we know the risks of an earthquake.”

    I heard on the radio this morning that Julia Gillard has said that Australia will never have nuclear power because we don’t need, she said, “we have enough geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, you name it we have enough renewable energy.”

  80. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    “Solar energy technology is evolving rapidly. We are on the cusp of many cheaper, more efficient technologies that will make replacing a solar panel as easy and cheap as replacing a window in your house.”

    Jimmy Carter’s 1980 State of the Union Address

    http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/documents/speeches/su80jec.phtml

    Our Nation will then have a major conservation effort, important initiatives to develop solar power

    Affordable solar power has been ‘just around the corner’ for 30 years.

  81. Julian in Wales says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    “Before this incident I thought melt downs lioek happened at Chernobyl were always catastrophic, watching the Japanese meltdowns I am learning that modern technology keeps all the mess in a sealed flask and meltdowns from now on will be minor events that do not impact on the environment. ”

    “This could be good for the nuclear industry, it wipes out bad memories of Chernobyl”

    Exactly my thoughts too.

  82. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Nuclear is taking a hit, via WAGS in the press as to what is going on inside vessels that cannot be viewed.
    Depends on the end result. The current problem is with old reactors. Once built, they tend to become monoliths and are not easily given up to new units which are far safer.
    I would look for Thorium reactors to come of age given pressing needs.
    But, you are correct that for now, Nuclear takes a hit.

  83. “The highest incidence of thyroid cancers in children found in Russia, before the Chernobyl accident, was 26.6 per 100,000; in Belarus, 17.9; and in Ukraine, 4.9. Thus, the potential for the discovery of “excess” thyroid cancers, after the intense health screening that took place after the accident, is enormous”

    If I gathered data saw a 5:1 differential in incidence of a certain cancer in children in adjacent countries I would
    1) question my methodology and/or
    2) look for another cause of the cancer

  84. R. Gates alternative sources of energy will only catch on if only as easily accessable as the flip of a switch. As someone already mentioned there is only so much solar energy per square meter. Oh another thing there is life out in those so called bare desolate deserts.

  85. It is reassuring that the new NRC-certified “Standard Designs” will not need any re-engineering as they ALREADY ANTICIPATED ,and were designed for a similar but worse problem than occurred in Japan to one or two of the 53 Japanese reactors after the Earthquake and Tsunami. All 53 shut down as designed, but one or two had partial problems providing coolant while the huge and hot reactors cooled down over 72 hours or so. Now that 72 hours have gone by,e all the cool-downs have occurred, so there is no longer even any partial concern.

    There were designed to be so-called “Passive” and not need any power from commercial or standby emergency generators, although they have them, too. They are designed to place the emergency coolant water tank above the reactor, so the water will flow down into the reactor without any pumps or the electric power needed to run them. Instead of electric pumps they rely on “passive” Gravity which causes water to flow downhill.

    Further they are designed with much larger reactor coolant volumes, so little more will need to be added, in the up to 72 hour cool-down period. Meanwhile, the urgency to do so has been extended from 45 minutes, to several hours, allowing more time for operators to respond appropriately. In addition, these new “Standard Designs” have been modified so that natural thermal convection will circulate sufficient coolant throughout the reactor vessel without needing any pumps, or electric power for them. They use the “passive”‘ fact that hot water rises and cool water falls, creating a natural circulation.

    In short these new reactors are already proving to be what all wanted the reactors of the time to be,even the critics, and were not.

    For sure we will always have idiots and demagogues, like demagogue Ed Markey who simply want to hear themselves bray.

  86. Obviously there are systemic problems with these particular reactors. Whether of design or operational maintenance or a combination seems unclear. The worst aspect of the disaster management has been the evident lack of clear information and uncertainty of outcome.

  87. If 1/50th of the money that has been put into developing hot nuclear energy had been put into developing low energy nuclear reaction, LENR, most of the problems with energy production would go away. And there would be no more real life horror movies from nuclear energy. Instead the government says it doesn’t work. The government also says “greenhouse gases are pollution”. ;O)

    For those who don’t know what LENR is this documentary will give an introduction to it:

    “Fire from Water, hosted by Scotty from Star Trek”

  88. There are reports coming out of official Japanese sources of damage to the bottom of one of the vessels and drop of pressure. In short there are reports that one of the reactors might be leaking. Does this mean the meltdown is going through the bottom of the reactors and we have a worst case scenario? Reading through the comments I have felt reassured the reactors are designed to contain a total meltdown, is this a wrong assumption?

  89. Julian in Wales says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    This could be good for the nuclear industry, it wipes out bad memories of Chernobyl

    Man, the opposite is happening. Everyone is reminded of Chernobyl and how much of a nightmare nuclear energy is. If this thing in Japan is contained why are they scrambling with desperate measures? There’s safer ways to make electricity.

    The only reason the Navy hasn’t had any nuclear power accidents is because of the vigilance they have in watching over it. That is the vigilance of a soldier. But that vigilance is paid for by tax dollars. With budget cuts that MUST take place in the next decade in America there is going to be less soldiers. There are cheaper and safer ways to make electricity.

  90. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 11:27 am
    jorgekafkazar says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:15 am
    R. Gates says: “…Alternative energy, especially solar will be a big winner, and with cheaper, more flexible, and more efficient solar coming on-line, this will be the biggest winner in the next few years.”

    Solar power is the wave of the future. And always will be.
    ________
    Not the future…it’s happening now…big time. Some amazing advances in the technology are right at our doorstep with decreasing costs and increasing efficiences that are truly amazing. See for example:

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-graphene-electrodes-solar-cells.html

    How efficient are these solar panels under a layer of snow?

    These things are fine if you live somewhere with continuous sun as I do and I have solar heating which as another poster stated leads to cool showers in the winter. But put them in upstate New York under a few feet of snow and you have to be ‘on grid’.

    Of course you could rely on your windmill that has frozen in the still cold frosty air and which needs power from the snow covered solar cells to keep its oil warm and liquid.

    I have a suggestion – instead of talking theoretically go to upstate New York, Minnesota or the Dakotas and set up an ‘off grid’ house and show everyone how its done.

  91. I read tonight, with some astonishment, an acknowledgement from Geoffrey Lean (for it is he), in an otherwise fairly predictable article, that shale gas was a likely contender against nukes now … fell off me chair, nearly. Maybe he was too exercised about nuclear to bother carping …

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/nuclearpower/8379926/Japan-earthquake-Nuclear-power-under-fire.html

    ‘Natural gas, one of the causes of the initial decline in nuclear, is becoming cheaper with the development of new technologies to wring it from shale rock. And the failure of the Obama administration to get climate legislation through Congress has dealt the US industry a particularly severe blow: the defeated “cap and trade” proposals were expected to spur the construction of another 100 reactors. ‘

  92. Julian in Wales says:
    March 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Reading through the comments I have felt reassured the reactors are designed to contain a total meltdown, is this a wrong assumption?

    With Japan calling on the US for help that shows there is something seriously wrong. I cannot see how anyone can say everything is under control and there’s nothing to worry about. This is actually a nightmare. And I hope and really pray it is over very soon. I want to hear some good news soon.

  93. nc says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm
    R. Gates alternative sources of energy will only catch on if only as easily accessable as the flip of a switch. As someone already mentioned there is only so much solar energy per square meter. Oh another thing there is life out in those so called bare desolate deserts.
    ____
    The idea that solar energy can only be useful by vast arrays of solar panels in the desert is pretty old school. New technologies right around the corner will allow your roof, walls, windows, sidewalks…really almost anything anywhere to become a solar energy source. These are also vastly more efficient than the first and second generation solar cells and this efficiency, combined with new low energy use technology such as organic LED’s etc. will allow many people to begin to go “off grid” for much of their power. This decentralization of electric power is big deal and will be something to pay attention to.

  94. CPS Energy suspends talk about nuclear expansion
    Monday, March 14, 2011

    CPS Energy [San Antonio] and NRG Energy have agreed to suspend talks about CPS possibly buying [additional] power from the proposed nuclear expansion at the South Texas Project while Japan deals with its ongoing nuclear disaster, CEO Doyle Beneby said Monday.

    NRG has a partnership agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, to invest in the STP expansion if the project secured U.S. loan guarantees. NRG was also counting on loan guarantees from the Japanese government.

    CPS is a 6.7 percent owner in the proposed expansion, and was set to get $80 million from NRG once the project is awarded a federal loan guarantee. That was expected in the next few weeks; it’s unclear how the disaster will affect that process.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/energy/article/CPS-Energy-suspends-talk-about-nuclear-expansion-1128743.php

  95. There was serious damage to an adjacent reactor from the second explosion. There is a report that there is beginning of melt down in that newly damaged reactor. I’m looking for confirmation.

    So someone tell me this is not a friggin nightmare.

  96. Ian W says:
    March 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    “I have a suggestion – instead of talking theoretically go to upstate New York, Minnesota or the Dakotas and set up an ‘off grid’ house and show everyone how its done.”
    ____
    I find it interesting to see the types of people who seem to think that living “off grid” is impossible. There are many ways to do it…in update NY, there’s lots of small hydro power potential with plentiful water. Many small hydropower facilities were abandoned over the past 50 years in favor of big centralized power. Small, decentralized hydropower systems are just one example of what could be done over many regions of the NE U.S. and into Canada. Of course, the Dakotas have plentiful wind so one could easily go “off grid” or nearly so just through small decentralized wind farms.

    Of course the big money centralized power generation related corporations who stand to lose a lot as going off-grid really starts to catch on would like to preach the never-ending world of big centralized coal, gas, and nuclear plants, and the idea that people could be more independent in their electric power usage bother’s them greatly as it could hit their fat and happy little profit margins rather severely.

  97. harrywr2 says: March 14, 2011 at 9:07 am
    Congressman Markey who is the biggest pain in the nuclear industry’s backside has called for a temporary moratorium on construction of nuclear plants in ‘seismically active’ locations. The last I checked no one in California is looking to build a nuclear plant anytime soon anyway.
    ————————————————
    California has a law on the books that no new nukes shall be built until the waste storage problem is solved. Since the waste storage “problem” is political and not economic, technical, or safety related, it’s gonna be a long time before California sees additional cheap safe reliable power. I’ve been watching the addition of 740 MW of wind turbines a few miles of my house, and they turn about 1/3 of the time. That does not meet the definition of reliability.

  98. Jammed valves, sea-water flooded electricity control rooms, critical diesel generators running out of fuel, terrible public communications, successive explosions injuring or killing staff, instrumentation failures, … all on top of mass evacuations – it has to be a nightmare.

  99. Nightmare is too strong a word. Thus far there have been no deaths from this.
    Hopefully there will not be any in the future either.
    It is however an horrific industrial catastrophe.

    The damaged containments will have to remain closed for a long time, probably entombed like the Chernobyl reactor. There is no way that the remains can be easily cut up and removed. They are too inaccessible and too radioactive inside.
    It is likely that there will be continued emissions of radioactive gas from the debris for months, but not in massive amounts. The nuclear vessel has been injected with enough boron to neutralize most of the reactions.
    It will be a mess, but not a Chernobyl type wipeout with an exclusion zone of hundreds of square kilometers, because the reactors are off and the residual energy in the cores is not enough to blast debris into the stratosphere or far around.
    The accident leaves 3 severely damaged reactors at the site, probably making the whole complex unusable. A $15-20 billion loss.

  100. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    There was serious damage to an adjacent reactor from the second explosion. There is a report that there is beginning of melt down in that newly damaged reactor. I’m looking for confirmation.

    So someone tell me this is not a friggin nightmare.

    It is not a night mare!

    It is an industrial accident no more no less.
    Other industrial systems have caused far more damage and death than nuclear power ever has.

    Dam failures — too many to list
    Train derailments with bleeve explosions
    Mine tailing pile collapses no fewer than 91 since 1960 http://www.wise-uranium.org/mdaf.html
    Cleveland East Ohio Gas Explosion October 20, 1944
    coal mine fires that have been burning for decades such as Centralia Pennsylvania May 1962
    Texas City Texas Grandcamp explosion April 16, 1947
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917 and the SS Mont-Blanc explosion
    Bhopal India methyl isocyanate release
    Chlorine gas release accidents such as Macdona TX, June 2004
    Norfolk Southern Train Derailment Graniteville, SC January 6, 2005
    Tenerife airport disaster in 1977 — 569 killed
    Boiler explosions — to many to list
    sugar mill and grain silo explosions — too many to list
    oil refinery explosions — to many to list

    Each of the above have killed far more people than all the nuclear reactor accidents in history combined. Some of them like the Centralia coal mine fires have permanently destroyed an entire town and made it uninhabitable for a life time.

    Larry

  101. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm
    “The nightmare of nuclear power gets worse:”

    No, Amino, the nightmare at that particular nuclear facility in Japan gets worse. Focus on the facts, please. The facts are all at this particular nuclear facility in Japan.

    The only criticism of the nuclear industry that can be inferred from this particular problem is that the nuclear industry sometimes places nuclear plants in the wrong place. No one expects a nuclear plant to survive the conditions created when a tsunami destroys all its resources and so devastates the region that resupply and repair are all but impossible. To generalize from this particular situation to the entire nuclear industry is simply unjustified.

  102. hotrod (Larry L) says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    There was serious damage to an adjacent reactor from the second explosion. There is a report that there is beginning of melt down in that newly damaged reactor. I’m looking for confirmation.

    So someone tell me this is not a friggin nightmare.

    It is not a night mare!

    It is an industrial accident no more no less…
    _____
    It quite clearly is a nightmare…it may or may not be “catastrophic” (only time will tell) but it clearly is a nightmare for the Japanese people. The people in Japan are going through the worst nightmare that most of them will ever experience, and the nuclear meltdowns are certainly part of it. To try and minimize this nightmare they are going through is quite an insult to that nation.

  103. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    No one expects a nuclear plant to survive the conditions created when a tsunami destroys….

    You mean they didn’t plan for this scenario? How many other scenarios have not been planned for in nuclear power plants?

    There will always be nightmare scenarios like this in nuclear power. There will always be something that was not planned for. Hot nuclear is the most dangerous way to make electricity. There are safer ways.

  104. To try and minimize this nightmare they are going through is quite an insult to that nation.

    No it is you and the folks that are trying to magnify an already terrible situation into something it is not that is the insult.

    They are currently struggling against terrific difficulties, and I wish them the very best possible outcome, but inflating everyone’s fear about the circumstances does absolutely no one any good. They have been hit by a combination of events that are completely outside the planning envelope.

    Disaster planners look at both the likely and the unlikely scenarios and then combine the highest impact and most likely situations as their planning limit. They know full well that no nation and no planner can contemplate all possible and incredibly rare scenarios. They spend their time money and effort protecting against the situations that are reasonably likely to happen that have the highest impact and the most effective mitigation strategies.

    This combination of events was not a “reasonably likely event” by anyone’s experience. We would be wise to pay very close attention to how this works out since we are in exactly the same situation with California, Oregon and Washington state. We have a predictable likelihood of a similar intensity earth quake in the north west and a great deal of population and technological infrastructure at risk to locally generated tsunamis.

    That said — taking the legitimate focus off of the disaster recovery efforts and the rescue of the people buried in the rubble from the earthquake and tsunami and inciting unjustified panic over an industrial emergency that is of local impact, is literally killing people.

    The countries disaster situation is certainly a night mare, but the nuclear plant problems is not a night mare it is simply a very small component of a much larger picture. It is not even remotely comparable to the damage already done to the nation of Japan by the earth quake and tsunami and the sooner people focus on legitimate constructive actions to serve the recovery and rescue of the trapped and injured and provide them shelter, water and food and quit the mental masturbation over imagined catastrophes the better off everyone will be.

    Having worked as a disaster emergency planner for nuclear facilities and having been intimately involved in the creation of one of our countries FEMA sponsored disaster rescue teams (two of which have already been dispatched) I know full well the challenges they are dealing with.

    One of the things that they absolutely do not need is out of control media reporters, and back seat coaching from uninformed pundits, whipping up fear and anxiety.

    The sooner folks step back and start looking at the facts of the situation and quit trying to incite panic the better off everyone will be.

    My point was this situation at the nuclear plant is not any different than thousands of other major industrial accidents, many of which have caused hundreds of more fatalities than the Nuclear Power industry. In every case they were managed by people that took the best information they had at the time and made the best decisions they could based on what they knew and what resources they had available. The only difference between the nuclear reactor situation and a burning chemical plant or oil refinery or a shipload of potentially explosive cargo is the mechanism of the threat, the results of a miscalculation in both cases can be very serious, and there is absolutely nothing “special” about nuclear energy in that regard.

    Larry

  105. Unfortunately more bad news

    cooling effort at one reactor failing

    The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said late Monday that repeated efforts to inject seawater into the reactor had failed, causing water levels inside the reactor’s containment vessel to fall and exposing its fuel rods

    link to article

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Emergency-cooling-effort-failing-at-Japanese-reactor-deepening-crisis/articleshow/7705671.cms

  106. It quite clearly is a nightmare…it may or may not be “catastrophic” (only time will tell) but it clearly is a nightmare for the Japanese people. The people in Japan are going through the worst nightmare that most of them will ever experience, and the nuclear meltdowns are certainly part of it. To try and minimize this nightmare they are going through is quite an insult to that nation.

    Is the nuclear situation part of the nightmare? Yes of course, but the comment you just quoted was specifically reffering to whether the reactor incidents occuring right now are a nightmare and even I, with 10 seconds of reading, can understand that the comment was directed solely at quoted passage where “nightmare” in this case is inferring that the whole situation with the reactors has been blown out of proportion – and it has.

    Whether or not the issues here have been overstated or not has no bearing on the devastation that was caused by this earthquake and I saw no attempt to belittle or diminish what is happening in Japan or what the people are going through, only pointing out that irrational fear and knee jerk reactions should not be tolerated.

    The media is kicking this into a frenzy with no purpose than to scare the crap out of people and by this, are contributing to the overall “nightmare” that is this earthquake. By attempting to put the issues in perspective and having people understand the risks through better understanding can only assist in helping people and stopping the spread of unwarranted fear and overall lessen the nightmare which at this point in time is the best thing that can be done and far more helpful then in perpetuating a higher level of danger then there actually is.

  107. Theo Goodwin, I don’t agree placement is the issue. The issue is inadequate fail-safe shut-down facilities including inadequate protection from flooding plus I expect operational deficiencies and certainly very poor frankness and communications.

  108. “nightmare” is probably too strong – but the developments on reactor #2 aren’t good.

    According to WNN, there is damage to a system associated with the containment.

    BWRs are designed to vent excess steam from the reactor into a toroidal structure which is connected to the containment. This is normally kept part full of water, and used to condense the steam.

    It seems that this is no longer holding “above atmospheric” pressure, suggesting it’s leaking somewhere. However, at the time that pressure dropped, it wasn’t singificantly overpressured, so the cause isn’t obvious. There was a spike in radiation readings outside the plant (which subsequently reduced) at about the same time, suggesting venting.

    At the same time, there’s the ongoing problem of getting the exposed rods covered with water. According to media comment, it’s now about the top 1/3rd uncovered. There is some fission product contamination being detected in the steam release, suggesting at least some fuel damage (BWR fuel is designed to spend at least some time exposed, with stam cooling).

    What would be telling is an indication of reactor vessel pressure.

    There’s no indication at the moment of a breach of the reactor presure vessel.

    This is now a matter of timing. Normally, BWRs are opened up for refuelling about 4-7 days after coming off line, in a refuelling outage. At that time, in normal circumstances, decay heat production is low that pressurisation isn’t required in the reactor, and there’s adequate heat removal possible without boiling. pobviosly, no-one’s about to lift the lid on reactor #2 without having a good idea as to the condition of the fuel.

    I know we’ve some people who post on WUWT who have significant Light Water Reactor experience, and even specific BWR backgrounds, If any of those read this, can they advise:

    Can excess steam be vented via filtration without using the wetwell for condensation?

    Is it possible to isolate the wetwell from the rest of the containment?

    Is that 4-7 days figure right?

    During a refuelling outage, it is usual to flood the entire containment? I ask this because, on the numbers as I see them, within a day or two, provided the fuel can be covered, if the RPV can be submerged, it ought to be able to achieve adeqate heat removal without further pumping, relying just on convection from the RPV walls.

  109. So it is far from incredible that a whole chain of command at a nuclear power plant in America solemnly passed procedure to follow in the case of sudden loss of gravity, unplanned or inadvertent, as the spoof procedure said.
    The engineers who put the procedure together, with their tongues well into their cheeks, scattered enough clues that it was a hoax, they thought. References quoted included the Old and New Testaments and even stated that during partial or complete loss of gravity, operators were cautioned not to move about or jump excessively. The emergency was to be signalled by visual indication on a gravity meter or a Moon drift indicator showing excessive drift away from Earth and symptoms would be inability of loose objects to stay in place. Emergency gravity generators were to start up and as off-site fravity was restored, they were to come under manual control and their induced gravity gradually tapered down, although the operators were cautioned of the dangers of passing into negative gravity range.
    All this, to the mingled horror and delight of the perpetrators, went through the solemn routines and was caught out only in an audit of emergency procedures much later.
    — New Scientist Feb 5, 1981

    I remember reading this procedure. Besides having acronyms like EGGs (Emergency Gravity Generators), there was also some that spelled out items that go with eggs, like bunnies or such (I forget now).

  110. R. Gates says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    … in update NY, there’s lots of small hydro power potential with plentiful water. Many small hydropower facilities were abandoned over the past 50 years in favor of big centralized power. Small, decentralized hydropower systems are just one example of what could be done over many regions of the NE U.S. and into Canada.

    About a year (??) ago on WUWT there were comments on this topic stating that the permitting of small hydropower installations has been blocked nationwide by greenie lawsuits.

  111. Japan has asked the US for help to stop the American-designed reactors plunging into uncontrollable meltdown. The latest blast occurred after cooling water dropped repeatedly in unit 2, with the nuclear fuel rods partially exposed – risking an overheat of up to a temperature of 2,200 degrees Celsius. Damage to the hermetically-sealed reactor container dramatically increases the risk of serious radiation leaks…… A top Japanese official said the fuel rods in all three of the most troubled nuclear reactors at Daiichi appeared to be melting……Specialists are now considering spraying water directly on the damaged container in an attempt to cool it externally.

    Link to story at SkyNews

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Video-Japan-Quake-And-Tsunami-Plea-For-US-Help-After-Second-Explosion-At-Nuclear-Plant/Article/201103215951706?lpos=World_News_Carousel_Region_0&lid=ARTICLE_15951706_Video_Japan_Quake_And_Tsunami%3A_Plea_For_US_Help_After_Second_Explosion_At_Nuclear_Plant

  112. Larry, with due respect I think your position is quite untenable. Clearly a tsunami was foreseeable and it was unreasonable to think a facility on the sea front was immune to flooding via breach of a sea wall – so flooding of the electrical control room as well as diesel generators was foreseeable. Likewise disruption of electrical and transport links subsequent to an earthquake of sufficient local severity to cause automatic shutdown. Moreover modern design improvements to nuclear power stations highlighted the deficiencies inherent in this one long ago.

    Forced evacuation of such large areas surrounding a plant are not experienced in other kinds of major industrial accidents excepting such extreme events as Bhopal. Yes, the loss of life due to the tsunami is far, far worse than will be caused by this nuclear disaster. It is, nevertheless, a nightmare for very many thousands of people who cannot accept assurances from their leaders and experts at face value when these assurances have successively proved unreliable – to the point when even the media you deplore are leaving over safety concerns.

  113. There seems a good case for Thorium reactors as from what little I know they would always fail safe and then be relatively easy to restart having been inspected.
    James Bull

  114. I am not a conspiracy theorist – but that doesn’t stop me being suspicious about the way this has been portrayed by the Japanese Givernment and the power company.

    Does anyone not think it strange that days after supposed full control rod insertion, these reactors are taking a lot of cooling? The way I see it, either, they never got full ‘shutdown’ or the coolant system has been failing from the outset – e.g. via a leak?

    I was under the impression (perhaps wrongly) that once shut down was properly initiated, the core will cool down after some residual heat has been dissipated. Now, it seems that this cooling simply hasn’t been sufficient from the supposed shutdown and that this has presumable been allowing a continual heat build up. But for this to be disastrous, wouldn’t the heat need to be continued to be generated (i.e. from non-full shutdown?) We were told that temporary battery powered cooling did work (?) – so surely in the hours whilst that was going on, someone could have organised backup power? The pieces of the puzzle don’t seem to fit….

    Overall, it seems that we have not been told the truth – whatever that may be – or more simply, the power company are a bunch of idiots who have not done the proper job and are relying on the blame being placed squarely on the tsunami/quake to cover their backsides!

  115. Anthony,

    There is power generation technology that is so efficient that the difference in hemispheres has a big effect on the power output.
    It harnesses individual energy and not the current nonsense of bulk energy harvesting.

  116. It is all to easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. At the time these reactors were being built, did anyone suggest that they ought not to be sited where they were because of the risk of a Tsunami? Or the risk of an earthquake?

    When was the last time Japan experienced a Tsunami of such magnitude? How frequently does Japan experience a Tsunami of broadly similar magnitude?

    I seem to recall reading that in Japan, they experience an earthquake every day. Japan is situated in probably the most siesmically active region of the world. Of course, it is a matter of scale but obviously, earthquake resistence must have been part of the design and presently none of us know precisely what damage was sustained and how the reactors have stood up to the extreme forces to which they were subjected.

    When one sees the extent of damage that a Tsunami can wreak, it is no surprise that this caused considerable operating problems to these reactors and it is not that surprising that back up safety features have been compromised.

    Humans learn from experience. It is now clear that nuclear reactors ought not to be sited in places where there is more than an insignificant risk of Tsunami damage.

    I wish the Japanese well and hopefully they will get these reactors under control without further significant contamination.

  117. “Does anyone not think it strange that days after supposed full control rod insertion, these reactors are taking a lot of cooling? ”

    No, not particularly. It normally takes 4-7 days after operation heat production in a BWR to drop sufficiently for the reactor to be depressurised for refuelling – and when the lid isn’t taken off temperatures will still be about 80C. I posted the numbers on another thread, but for Unit #1, after a week or so it’ll still be generating about 5MW.

    The good news is, at that point, heat removal by natural convection from the outside of the reactor vessel is entirely sufficient.

    On a different point, I’m starting to get a little irritated by the IAEA, who are jumping just a little too much to the media’s tune. They’re not admitting it, but they started one scare this morning, when they were still telling the BBC about a fire in the #4 reactor fuel pond, some time AFTER they’d already been told the fire was nothing to do with the pond/fuel, and had already been put out.

    And now it turns out that the 400mSv/hour reading that’s been made so much of wasn’t at the plant boundary, as is usual. It was one “hot-spot” between two reactors. The radiation level at the plant boundary was about 12mSv, and by 06:00 GMT was 0.6mSV/hour. Still high, but three orders of magnitude different.

  118. The extension of the damage to include the previously uninvolved reactor 4 is bad news. That unit had been offline for maintenance.
    Apparently, the reactors spent nuclear fuel was held in a cooling pool on the 5th floor of the building. This pool has apparently not been replenished because of the pump failures. Probably the pool has begun to boil dry and the fuel elements are reacting with the steam to produce hydrogen, which caused a fire in that building. While that fire is now out, the spent fuel pool is apparently now too radioactive to visit or to reconnect to another water source.
    It seems likely that the site will have to be entombed, because the likelihood of intolerable local levels of radiation, from exposed nuclear fuel, is becoming much greater. The overall damage will still be fairly modest, as only the volatile radioactive material will disperse, but it is certainly the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

    [they are saying that all reactors are now "safe and stable" according to SKY]

  119. Michael R says:
    March 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm
    It quite clearly is a nightmare…it may or may not be “catastrophic” (only time will tell) but it clearly is a nightmare for the Japanese people. The people in Japan are going through the worst nightmare that most of them will ever experience, and the nuclear meltdowns are certainly part of it. To try and minimize this nightmare they are going through is quite an insult to that nation.

    Is the nuclear situation part of the nightmare? Yes of course…
    ______
    Let’s just stop you right there because you’ve got the truth of it. The comment that I was referring to in my post was the insensitive statement that the nuclear meltdowns in Japan were “industrial accidents…nothing more…” as though someone had simply spilled a bit of bleach on the floor of a factory or something. They are NIGHTMARES, and are part of the larger NIGHTMARE that the Japanese people are going through right now. While it does no good to blow these meltdown out of proporation by making it seem as though the world was coming to an end, so too, it is absurd to label them as simply “industrial accidents”. The Japanese people are going through a triple-headed earthquake-tsunami-nuclear nightmare and to try and downplay one those facets by calling it an “industrial accident” is insulting to the Japanese and I will not let it pass without comment…obviously.

  120. Alan Wilkinson says:
    March 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Forced evacuation of such large areas surrounding a plant are not experienced in other kinds of major industrial accidents excepting such extreme events as Bhopal. Yes, the loss of life due to the tsunami is far, far worse than will be caused by this nuclear disaster. It is, nevertheless, a nightmare for very many thousands of people who cannot accept assurances from their leaders and experts at face value when these assurances have successively proved unreliable – to the point when even the media you deplore are leaving over safety concerns.

    A couple of problems here. With 500,000 people evacuated into emergency shelters overcrowded and very lacking in supplies, refrigeration, medical care, electricity, and heating the elderly and those with other health problems are going to experience far greater mortality rates.

    Nuclear accidents are even more insidious in that it’s hard to tell what will happen with cancer rates among those exposed over the next several decades. Even a small uptick amongst a large population can add up into a great loss of life.

    So between the stress of large scale evacuation and some smaller number of permanent displacements into less than adequate facilities, emotional and physical stress, and long term uptick in cancer rates the death toll from the nuclear accidents could easily equal or exceed the number killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami. Then again maybe not. One thing is for sure though – it’s far too early to tell. They have hardly even begun locating the dead or clearing out the emergency shelters. In fact the emergency shelters are still filling up as the evacuation zone around the nukes keeps expanding as they fail to quench the meltdowns and other plants get added to the critical list.

  121. I woke up in the midwest this morning to reports that people were fleeing Tokyo (while others were remaining) due to radiation drifting there. Now, not so much a story. Apparently, mostly from a fire at the used fuel pool of an inactive reactor that has been extenguished. To me, it indicates that the people at the site are partially overwhelmed. I can only think that the initial loss of cooling was worse than they understood or worse than they thought they could recover from. I was told on Saturday by someone who knows that industry that if hydrogen had come from the reactors, then they had problems. They knew where the hydrogen came from, but they never really applied that publicly to conirm the level of the problem .

    We should leave ourselves room for change , because available information keeps changing and the situation is developing. Still, news is a business and fear sells. Those reactors will eventually cool, they’ll regain total control of the site, and the three remaining reactors may or may not be used again. Japan certainly needs the electricity badly for survival.

  122. There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to the health hazards of nuclear power – uranium mining and refinement.

    Talking about the health hazards of nuclear power plants without examining the health of the miners producing the fuel and the environmental damage in the vicinity of them is like talking about the cleanliness and safety of coal fired plants without taking into the account the people and environments where the coal is mined. I imagine the number of people who die in coal power plant accidents is miniscule but the hazards and environmental damage incurred during the mining process are notoriously poor. The exact same thing applies to nuclear power – you have to include the people and places where the fuel is produced. Same goes for oil exploration, production, and refinement. Nobody dies producing wind or sunlight as those fuels require no mining. Biofuels similarly just about free of risk from end to end in the process.

  123. David,

    There is no such thing as risk free energy or a risk free existence. Risks have to be quantified and acceptable levels of risk determined. It would be nice if everything was simple and risk free, then even that would lead to other risks, like your mother-in-law living forever :)

  124. Kev-in-Uk says:
    March 15, 2011 at 3:51 am

    I was under the impression (perhaps wrongly) that once shut down was properly initiated, the core will cool down after some residual heat has been dissipated. Now, it seems that this cooling simply hasn’t been sufficient from the supposed shutdown and that this has presumable been allowing a continual heat build up. But for this to be disastrous, wouldn’t the heat need to be continued to be generated (i.e. from non-full shutdown?) We were told that temporary battery powered cooling did work (?) – so surely in the hours whilst that was going on, someone could have organised backup power? The pieces of the puzzle don’t seem to fit….

    Spent fuel rods have to be cooled in liquid storage for about 5 years after they are removed from a reactor. Shutdown, which happens automatically given a set of predetermined parameters (such as the vibrations from an earthquake of a given strength), reduces the heat output from the reactor to 7%. After one day, given proper cooling this drops another 5%, then down to 1% after about 48hrs. That last percent then takes a lot longer to cool off. This is due to the nuclear reaction continuing inside the rods plus the radiation from the fuel rods.

    A few points then to consider: First of all, 7% of the heat output of these generators is still a huge amount of heat, requiring a continuous, massive cooling effort.

    Secondly as the cooling system had failed, the fuel rods most likely did not cool down on schedule as they should have and might still be giving off 5% or 2%, we just don’t know exactly.

    Thirdly, the roads are unpassable, the port unusable, there is a limit to how much stuff one can helicopter in under such circumstances, so this is not a screwup by the power company blaming the tsunami for their problems – the tsunami has made bringing in the equipment needed very difficult indeed.

    Lastly, even though the seawater cooling as a second level backup is mostly working as intended, the engineers are basically chasing the heat, trying to catch up with a cooling schedule they have fallen far behind. Hence the build of of heat and pressure, the attempt to release said pressure, bringing with it a buildup of hydrogen which tends to blow up with little encouragement needed.

    Overall, it seems that we have not been told the truth – whatever that may be – or more simply, the power company are a bunch of idiots who have not done the proper job and are relying on the blame being placed squarely on the tsunami/quake to cover their backsides!

    I am certain the Japanese government is releasing only the information they feel absolutely compelled to release and no more. I am equally certain mistakes will have been made, especially with engineers desperately trying to cope with an unprecedented emergency, but this is nowhere near a Chernobyl style cover-up. The nuclear emergency was declared immediately, with frequent updates issued even if they contained nothing but bad news, the population has been evacuated in a progressively larger area and Iodine tablets have been distributed to prevent the population metabolising radiactive Iodine. Hardly the signs of a cover-up or the denial shown by the Russians.

    These engineers and technicians, this “bunch of idiots”, are knowingly risking their lives and their potential offspring – I suggest they deserve your respect and your sympathy not your contempt.

  125. Alan Wilkinson says:

    March 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Larry, with due respect I think your position is quite untenable. Clearly a tsunami was foreseeable and it was unreasonable to think a facility on the sea front was immune to flooding via breach of a sea wall – so flooding of the electrical control room as well as diesel generators was foreseeable. Likewise disruption of electrical and transport links subsequent to an earthquake of sufficient local severity to cause automatic shutdown. Moreover modern design improvements to nuclear power stations highlighted the deficiencies inherent in this one long ago.

    Yes you are correct the likelihood of a tsunami was foreseeable, that is why they designed in protection for a 6.3 meter tsunami. Unfortunately they got a bigger one.
    We learn from experience. In the period from 1850-1862 there were over 600 boiler explosions in England that killed hundreds. As a result of that sort of experience standards of construction and operation changed so that today we routinely operated super heated steam plants at 1000 psi plus pressure levels and boiler explosions are rare. Same thing happened with bridge construction (we are still learning lessons here regarding on going maintenance requirements). The same will happen with coastal nuclear facilitates, elevated cooling water storage will become mandatory, sea wall protection will change from perhaps the 90% likely tsunami to 1.2x the 90% likely tsunami. Off site pumping facilities set back from the shore will be required, etc. etc. etc.

    There is not a single major technology you can think of that did not go through the exact same learning process, ranging from natural gas or producer gas piped to homes, to nuclear power, they all have had problems as the technology got more wide spread and matured.

    Larry
    Larry

  126. Mr. Springer said something that is patently false thusly:

    “Biofuels similarly just about free of risk from end to end in the process.”

    Evidently he neglects the same things he accuses others of neglecting.

    Let’s see if he can find the mistake in that statement.

  127. “Many journalists and alarmists are not very adult.”

    Don’t kid yourself. They are cold, calculating adults. They see in real time that viewers switch channels when a qualified scientist gives factual no-nonsense information.
    On the other hand, when Michiu Kaku speaks….ratings climb.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=13138100

    A very simple formula.

  128. Maren says:
    March 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

    It is interesting to find out about the cooling regime/timescale. But of course that would beg the question of poor coolant system redundancy design? Surely, if one knows that it will take many days and many thousands of gallons of coolant required to finish the cooling after shutdown – this would be designed into the system more effectively than that apparently used in Fukushima? Maybe a simple gravity fed system?

    You also kind of confirm the point I was trying to make in that the government and power company have been stalling in respect of openly disclosing the real situation. The declaration of an emergency – but with the clear statements that it was purely ‘precautionary’ – were clearly incorrect. I would strongly suspect that the engineers on site knew full well they would be unlikely to restore adequate cooling after the batteries were gone if their other systems were non-functional (and unlikely to be so)?

    As for your last comment – you missed my meaning, which I thought was fairly clear – in that it was the ‘bunch of idiots’ running the power company – who, no doubt like most corporations, have considered profit above design or maintainence expense? I made no reference to the folk on site – who, as you say, are doing their utmost at great personal risk – again, who will likely get little thanks from the bosses in Tokyo!

  129. It is unclear whom the Sky report is quoting saying that all 4 reactors are safe and stable.
    The Japanese news reports make no such claim. They do note that the reactor 4 control room is so contaminated that workers can only stay for 10 minutes. As this was one of the reactors that was shut down for maintenance, this indicated that the damage and radioactivity have spread. Worse, the fuel from reactor 4 is held in a pool on the 5th floor of the reactor building, along with spent fuel from earlier use. This pool is inaccessible and may have boiled dry. That leaves the fuel to melt, oxidize and vaporize, possibly contaminating much of the downwind area.
    The suggestion by the utility that water be dumped into the pool from helicopters indicates their desperation. The pool is 40×40 and 45 feet deep. It would take 2-3 thousand tons of water to refill it. Even assuming the roof over the pool were removed and the pool accessible, it would require a massive fleet of equipment that does not exist and that could not be supported in this damaged area to do this job.

    The workers on this site are heroes, true Japanese. They are working in a destroyed facility, surrounded by devastation and radioactive debris, unsure of the fates of their own homes and families, yet they remain on the job trying to prevent a greater disaster while recognizing that they are the most at risk.

  130. What usually happens in this sort of situation, is that the emergency responders get tunnel vision regarding one issue (the reactor core heating) and lost focus and touch with the issue of the spent fuel rod cooling pool also needing water level management.

    My guess is that as a result it got over looked until bad things happened. Exhausted crews working long hours under high stress make those sort of mistakes unless their response system provides crew rotations or an outside reviewer that during shift turn over takes a fresh look at what has been done and what still needs to be done.

    This is why the incident command system was developed, so there is a systematic process to make sure secondary issues don’t get lost in the shuffle and come back and bite you later as major issues. Large complex disasters are too big for any central control system to manage, they must be managed near the site, with a constant review and planning cycle to catch missed issues and anticipate the next crisis before it happens.

    I am sure the Japanese will discover all sorts of interesting systemic issues in managing a disaster this complex.

    This is in no way a criticism of their response, just an unfortunate learning process that every emergency management community goes through periodically as they lose focus on what is important.

    As always it is the poor grunt in the field that puts it all on the line and eventually through extraordinary effort, courage and willingness to push through to completion that gets the final job done. All the folks with boots on the ground at the reactor site should be commended for their efforts, but as always there are (or should be) lessons learned that will make the next emergency of this magnitude resolve more efficiently.

    America should pay very close attention to these lessons or we will at our peril re-learn them when we have “our” major earthquake and tsunami in the north west and California. It is not a question of if but when we will face exactly the same sort of challenge.

    Larry

  131. Kev-in-Uk:

    I agree with your comments re an inadequately designed the cooling system. An emergency generator on battery power backed up with a diesel engine sounds like far too little redundancy, given the savage consequences of failure. As you say, cooling must be possible, independent of a power supply in an emergency, and so the new generations of reactors (III and IV) have been designed with passive safety systems, such as cooling tanks placed on top of the reactor building and the use of convection. This together with the potential of using Thorium eventually changed my opposition to nuclear power. I must say as well, that the fact that the plant in question has withstood an 9.0 earthquake and a ten metre tsunami has not changed my new position, on the contrary, I believe it’s quite impressive. These reactors have been let down solely by their power dependent pumps (that is as far as we know, of course).

    But if the management of the power company was led purely by the bottom line in deciding what to do, neither you nor I can say with any surety right now. Given that the usage of seawater has rendered these reactors irreversibly unusable, one must assume that company orders will have revolved around attempting other measures first. Whether they tried for too long and worsenend the problems, whether it was irrelevant what they tried or whether they swiftly abandoned measures designed to save the reactors and sacrificed them in order to deal with the emergency, it’s simply to early for any judgement on that.

    Fair enough, though Kev, I misunderstood your criticism being pointed at the management not the staff battling the emergency. It’s certainly not unthinkable that greed and/or incompetence might eventually be found to be the crux of the worsening situation. Still disagree on the information policy by the government. I think they did exactly what was needed. I’d expect my government to evacuate in a timely manner, and to me it doesn’t matter whether they call it a precaution or whether they say “run for your lives”, I’d go in any case, but to the local government it could change an orderly evac to panic induced, unmanageable chaos, especially given that the area in question is already a disaster zone.

  132. Maren says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Kev-in-Uk:

    I agree with your comments re an inadequately designed the cooling system. An emergency generator on battery power backed up with a diesel engine sounds like far too little redundancy, given the savage consequences of failure. As you say, cooling must be possible, independent of a power supply in an emergency, and so the new generations of reactors (III and IV) have been designed with passive safety systems, such as cooling tanks placed on top of the reactor building and the use of convection.

    It is possible that relatively simple pre-positioned equipment and pre-installed hardware could have largely prevented the entire issue.

    For example on the spent fuel rod cooling pools. If they had pre-plumbed stand pipes reaching to the ground, that would feed water directly to the cooling pool fitted with standard fire engine hose connectors, they could have simply hooked up a fire engine and pumped any source of water to top off the pool.

    The other option for alternate power which has been used in the past is to bring a Navy ship in to shore and lay power cables from the ship. Many Navy ships can provide high kilowatt class power to shore with a little cabling.

    Larry

  133. Maren

    I would concur with the apparent competence of the installation being able to withstand the earthquake and the Tsunami (the latter to a lesser degree because of the cooling system failure) as being commendable. However, as an engineer, I would be looking for all possible ‘failures’ in either design or operation to provide pointers for design and implemenation at other existing and future sites.
    It happens in aeronautical engineering – flights crash, lessons are learned – service schedules altered, parts changed, etc, etc – all to try and make future flights safer. Obviously, people tend to forget how ‘safe’ nuclear power is in real terms, but that nothing is perfect, and with so ‘few’ major incidents it can be somewhat overhyped in the public eye.
    I’m still not convinced on the press release line though. I feel they probably knew they had issues from the start and were trying to ‘break it gently’ – it’s just how it seemed – especially with all the initial ‘it’s nothing serious’ stance. I am sure most folk whenever they hear their prime minister say ‘it’s not serious’ – the first thing they think is ‘yeah right!’ – I mean, if it was just some minor official saying it, you might believe them – but when the top guys come out to speak it’s usually a sign of intent!
    I guess I am just too damn cynical, but I do agree that only time will tell.

  134. Japan’s Reactor Risk Foretold 20 Years Ago in U.S. Agency Report

    By Makiko Kitamura and Maki Shiraki

    March 16 (Bloomberg) — The earthquake disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant north of Tokyo was foretold in a report published two decades ago by a U.S. regulatory agency.

    In a 1990 report, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency responsible for ensuring the safety of the country’s power plants, identified earthquake-induced diesel generator failure and power outage leading to failure of cooling systems as one of the “most likely causes” of nuclear accidents from an external event.

    While the report was cited in a 2004 statement by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, adequate measures to address the risk were not taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant in Fukushima prefecture, said Jun Tateno, a former researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and professor at Chuo University.

    “It’s questionable whether Tokyo Electric really studied the risks outlined in the report,” Tateno said in an interview. “That they weren’t prepared for a once in a thousand year occurrence will not go over as an acceptable excuse.”

    http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=a6M9Jc_nWdXc&pos=12

  135. Here’s a quote from the thread whose link I just gave:

    by Paul Bogdanich

    The fear is that the rods in reactor 4 that were in the pool above the reactor for maintenance at the time of the earthquake are not “spent” rods but are in fact live rods and that dear friends is a huge problem. If / when those slag they still have active fuel content and no containment. No danger of a nuclear explosion but the chemical explosion that will occur once the molten mass outside the containment structure hits water will be an exceedingly large blast. Water is explosive at those temperatures.

  136. IAEA Chief Warns of ‘Serious Situation’ at Japan Nuclear Plant
    By Jonathan Tirone, Stuart Biggs and Aaron Sheldrick

    March 17 (Bloomberg) — Japan faces a “serious situation” at its crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station, with the three reactor cores containing fuel damaged, Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

    The fuel in storage in units 4, 5 and 6 is exposed and releasing radiation, Amano said in Vienna as he announced he’ll hold urgent talks today in Japan.

    “We are now in a serious situation,” Amano said, adding that “too many elements are not known yet.”

    http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a1p.sGUiEjYs&pos=8

    The following massively cynical financial-news site has had the most up-to-date reports (mostly alarmist) on the situation, as well as a few informed comments. If you can discount the bias and the numerous strange commenters, it’s worth following.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/

  137. Roger Knights says:
    March 16, 2011 at 11:53 am
    “The following massively cynical financial-news site has had the most up-to-date reports (mostly alarmist) on the situation, as well as a few informed comments. If you can discount the bias and the numerous strange commenters, it’s worth following.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/

    Sometimes a “massively cynical” approach is appropriate.

    What’s wrong with being “massively cynical”?

    The situation at the nuclear plant is clearly out of control at this point, no?

    Aborted helicopter missions, the latest satellite imagery showing the roof blown off, reports (from BBC) that they might use a water cannon on it. Sea water. Is it just me?

  138. hotrod (Larry L) said

    “If they had pre-plumbed stand pipes reaching to the ground, that would feed water directly to the cooling pool fitted with standard fire engine hose connectors, they could have simply hooked up a fire engine and pumped any source of water to top off the pool.”

    That seems a rather low tech solution. Buckets next?

    Andy

  139. AndyW says:
    March 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I agree – it would appear to be rather low-tech! But on the other hand, where has all the high tech got them?
    In my humble opinion (though I know little of nuclear reactors) – if I was asked to design a multilevel failsafe system, I would think the most simplest low tech solution would always be at least one of the levels (and in this kind of tech, probably the last level?).
    Considering this a bit further, I wonder how grateful the tech guys at Fukushima would be to have a decent store of water at or near the site and able to be gravity fed to the reactors/containment vessels last week? – perhaps through a simple fire sprinkler type system, or even a basic gate valve which could be opened to flood the reactor chamber? I know I am being mind-numbingly simplistic – but I really do wonder if such a basic system could/should have been installed?
    For example, there are many larger sized industrial units in the UK where they have to have a fixed on-site water store available for fire fighting as water supply may not be available. On the basis that the water cooling of these type reactors is an absolutely primary requirement (as I understand it?) – you would think that at the very least, a decent fixed and protected water supply would be available (and also able to be replenished from a distance)?
    I am not decrying the valiant efforts in Japan – merely posing a question.

  140. That seems a rather low tech solution. Buckets next?

    Andy

    Don’t under estimate low tech.

    Most heavy rescue of the trapped in collapsed buildings are rescued with ropes, pulleys, sledge hammers, simple hammer drills, sledge hammers feather and wedge splitters — technology that were in use during Roman times.

    The guiding principle of emergency response is KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid!

    Larry

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