Newsbytes: Gas Burning Bright As Nuclear Renaissance Melts Down

From the Global Warming Policy Foundation


Throughout the history of Japan, its cities have been destroyed again and again by war, fire and earthquake. After each catastrophe, the Japanese have rebuilt, bigger and better. One hopes and expects that they will do the same again. –Lesley Downer, The Daily Telegraph, 15 March 2011

The Japanese disaster “will put new nuclear development on ice,” said Toronto energy consultant Tom Adams, the former executive director of Energy Probe. He said the nuclear industry was already facing challenges, noting that vast shale gas resources in North America and other parts of the world were starting to make cheaper gas-fired plants the electricity generators of choice. – Eric Reguly, The Globe and Mail, 15 March 2011

Neither new nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, wind nor solar are economic. Natural gas is queen. It is domestically abundant and is the bridge to the future. – John Rowe, The Globe and Mail, 15 March 2011

Obama’s energy plan relies heavily on nuclear power to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions harmful to the climate as well as to reduce dependence on imported oil. The president proposed tripling federal loan guarantees to $54.5 billion to help build new reactors in the 2012 budget plan he sent to Congress. — Jeremy van Loon and Mark Chediak, Bloomberg 15 March 2011

President Barack Obama’s energy agenda appears to be jinxed. While Japan’s nuclear meltdown may be an ocean away, the industry has quickly become the latest example of a policy in peril not long after the White House embraced it. –Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, 15 March 2011

Despite Japan’s crisis, India and China and some other energy-ravenous countries say they plan to keep using their nuclear power plants and building new ones.  With those two countries driving the expansion — and countries from elsewhere in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East also embracing nuclear power in response to high fossil fuel prices and concerns about global warming — the world’s stock of 443 nuclear reactors could more than double in the next 15 years, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry trade group.—The New York Times, 14 March 2011

New data suggests Israel may not only have much larger gas resources than believed, but also the 3rd largest deposit of oil shale in the world. As a consequence of these new estimates, Israel may emerge as the third largest deposit of oil shale, after the US and China. –Dore Gold, The Jerusalem Post, 11 March 2011

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155 thoughts on “Newsbytes: Gas Burning Bright As Nuclear Renaissance Melts Down

  1. I think Prof. Muller’s video (link below) is having a profound effect upon climate believers. After all, Muller is one, but he’s saying he now cannot trust the data because of the “hide the decline” If there is one video to break the camels back, I believe this is the one. I think “the team” may actually be sidelined/fired/demoted/not heard anymore, thrown under the bus etc…, shortly because of this video.

  2. Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming ;)

  3. I have written a blog on this topic

    ‘Meltdown’ blog
    Posted: Mar 14, 2011 3:34 PM PDT
    Updated: Mar 14, 2011 3:56 PM PDT
    Monday morning, March 14, 2011

    There is deep concern about “nuclear meltdown” at one or more of the nuclear power plants in Japan. While that concern is certainly valid, there is a general misunderstanding of what is meant by “nuclear meltdown” and what consequences follow such an event.

    The entire blog is at:

    http://www.kusi.com/story/14250073/meltdown-blog

  4. Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel. Natural gas is the preferred chemical feedstock for almost all plastics and a wonderful fuel for transport vehicles.
    Like helium, it is a limited resource that should be used with respect, not simply stripmined to exhaustion.

  5. This is such a load of hooey anyway. Even if worsed possible case were to come to pass in Japan, nuclear would still be safer and cleaner by orders of magnitude than gas.

    I particularly liked drudge headline photo showing radiation of 2 microsieverts and hour (OH PANIC!) Here we have this enormous panic over radiation levels lower than people get when they go to the spa. A 500,000 hour dose recieved all at once has a slight chance of making you have nausea. Heck I have nausea just from reading this BS.

  6. I did love that term ‘energy ravenous’ – because, in truth, that is precisely what the world has become – certainly the developed world, with the less developed world harbouring high hopes of attaining the same level as the major economies!

    And what is the cause of all this energy demand? No matter how you cut it – it is you and I, our lifestyles and families! There is no getting away from it. Even those in 3rd world countries, supposedly recycling our secondhand PC’s and mobile phones are starting on the long road to energy ‘demand’!

    The greenies can wave their arms as much as they like, Joe Average can save as much energy as he can – but the end result WILL be the same – we are heading for an energy crisis. (Yeah, I know it’s largely a population realted thing too..)

    Until the world population begins to level out, there is no point in even thinking about a final guestimated level of energy ‘demand’ – it will simply keep rising UNLESS we all move back to mud-huts and raw meat! It doesn’t take a genius to see that when you add in all the products made and widely sold to make our lives ‘better’ – the energy demand is simply massive – and those aspiring to better lifestyles want it too!.

    On the reasonable assumption that the worlds population is not about to ‘give it all up’ – and go back to the trees/caves. We must source more energy……..

    Realistically, renewables can do their bit – but it simply cannot be enough. Oil is most definately a finite resource and Coal too (but obviously there is a good wedge of coal around). So ultimately, we WILL require nuclear power to supply our energy demands.

    The green argument that says we should transfer to alternatives and save FF’s now is equally valid for application to nuclear power. The argument that alternatives will get more efficient with ‘practise’ and improved technology is again, equally valid for nuclear power.

    One cannot ride a bike without falling off – make an omelette without breaking eggs, etc, etc. The oft quoted greenies favourite of the ‘Precautionary Principle’ is entirely valid for nuclear power. We must maintain and develop nuclear power even if only as a precaution against the failure of other energy sources to meet demand!

    Hence, as you may suspect, I am pro-nuclear – BUT with the obvious caveat that it needs careful consideration, design and implementation – after all, we can’t simply have unstable countries holding the keys to nuke power stations, can we? It seems the nuclear age has been forced to rest on its laurels over the last few decades because it fell out of favour. This kind of incident in Japan is a valuable lesson – but it IS a lesson – it simply cannot be seen to be a ‘nail in the coffin’ for nuclear power just because of a problem – and those that would do that are severely myopic. God forbid that anyone dies from radiation exposure in Japan – even one death is regrettable – but what would the world say about the number of people dying from electricution every year? Are we about to ban electricity?

    I am suddenly reminded of a quote about electricity when I was a young lad in a Physics lecture. It was ‘Electricity is a great slave, but a terrible master’ – nuclear power is the same! (but obviously much worse in potential disaster!)

    The development of nuclear programs is paramount to the long term energy demands of the world and needs to be encouraged – albeit under very very strict controls and designs. In the actual theme of global warming – how much long term production of CO2 would have been cut if all the resources used by AGW research had been ploughed into R&D of better future nuclear power stations?

  7. Mike M says: March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm
    Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any?
    ————————————————-
    Mike: You’re using logic and numbers. Western governments are getting further away from that. For example, the German government is calling to shut down 7 nuke power plants. I guess they’re afraid of an imminent tsunami in central Europe.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/15/germany-nuclear-idUSLDE72E17620110315

  8. Mike M says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming ;)

    Well, it’s like this, most fuels get a complete pass on CO2 because it really doesn’t matter. CO2 is not a problem. Even the minute bits of ash from coal fired plants aren’t the problem that melted fuel rods are.

    The sad thing is that we’re having to have any debate at all about nuclear energy. Had the U.S. Government not insisted on BWR for strategic military purposes in the 50s, and instead had gone forward with the safer Thorium reactors, we wouldn’t be having discussions about “green,” “purple,” or any other color of energy.

    Personally, I hope that the Japanese turn rapidly to LNG fired powerplants. They can quickly be brought online.

  9. We need more research into thorium reactors which could have a dramatically better safety profile.

    I used to live in a country where we would set out to do big, ambitious things — build the Hoover dam, create an interstate highway system, go to the moon. Occasionally, our rockets would blow up. We would learn from our failure and build better rockets. We would get to the moon.

    Now we just wet our pants when things go wrong.

  10. There has not been one new nuclear reactor constructed in the US in the last 30+ years.

    I have long believed that if – somehow – the political will could be summoned, and pressure-group and NIMBY opposition overcome – a new nuclear power plant could be built in the US, we would not be able to bring it online – a single nuclear plant – for less than 50 billion dollars.

    And yet our need for electricity will increase. How will our needs be met?

    We already saw how, in the recent winter storm in Texas. OUTSOURCING!

    We will buy power from Mexico.

    Mexico will build coal, and maybe even nuclear plants, with little threat of enviro-activist oppostion, and sell us their electricity.

    Mexico will get the architect jobs, the engineer jobs, the construction jobs, the power plant operator jobs, the repairman jobs and the supplier jobs, and lots and lots of our money; and in return, Mexico will rescue us from our self-inflicted cold and dark (dark green) future.

  11. etudiant says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel. Natural gas is the preferred chemical feedstock for almost all plastics and a wonderful fuel for transport vehicles.
    Like helium, it is a limited resource that should be used with respect, not simply stripmined to exhaustion.

    I would suggest that you do a little more research on the subject of natural gas. The amount currently available on the market has caused prices to drop below $4/mmcf. And stay there, with oil up from $60/bbl to $104/bbl. Remember at the time of the oil price spike ($150+/bbl) in 2008, it was at $15/mmcf. It’s low because there is plenty of it.

  12. I would point out that the latest generation of co-gen power plants using natural gas can get very high thermal efficencies (60-70%) and are ideal for electrical power generation … they are a very efficient way to generate electricity which is and will continue to be the primary power source for non-transportation power consumers …

  13. I would also point out that these nuke plants is question are of 1970’s design and are actually old designs from a safety perspective yet they have thus far managed to avert an actual disaster … (fingers crossed of course) …

  14. Mike M says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming ;)

    Not exactly true, the Norwegian government resigned in 2000 over this issue

    http://articles.cnn.com/2000-03-09/world/norway.govt.01_1_coalition-government-power-plants-vote?_s=PM:WORLD

    Obviously, the CO2 emissions don’t affect the climate in any measurable way, even if they said so then and say so now.

  15. Meanwhile the Guardian, the UK’s green propanda tabloid is lapping up the horrendous event in Japan:

    “Japan nuclear crisis puts industry revival in doubt

    Disaster described as a colossal setback for industry at a time when climate change is sparking a renaissance”

    The bed wetters are out in force, the cause of the accident was the diesel engine generators were flooded with salt water from the Tsunami(something that can be remedied in future).

    The greenest nastiest bed wetters are rejoicing the devastation in Japan, in particular the problems with the cooling system. Really and truly the greens have a hatred for the advancement of the human race.

  16. The problem with this situation is that the debate if being framed by the media. They have paraded one after another “expert” to create fear. Have been checking up on these “experts” by googling on them. Many are poli-sci majors with their own agenda.
    The congress needs to fire up some meetings to discuss nuclear power and particularly how to replace older gen 1 nukes in the US with gen 3 or gen 4 nukes.
    Get the word out that the issue in Japan is largely due to it being older technology and if we’re smart we’ll swap out some of our older units with newer ones to improve safety. This might get the ball rolling again.

  17. The disaster in Japan has made conventional nuclear power untenable. Fortunately we have natural gas to use as a bridge, while thorium LSR’s are developed. Three mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and two weeks ago it was looking like nuclear power was an acceptable alternative. In another 15 years, memories will fade, fossil fuels will be more expensive, and nuclear power will once again start looking good. Hopefully we will not waste the time in between.

  18. Etudiant,

    “Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel.”

    You are right, but this is happening because of the market distorting effects of anti-co2 measures. Coal is cheaper, and more suitable for electricity generation. It would free up gas for domestic use and transport. Whenever governments get involved in markets they create a disaster. Ronald Reagan once said, “if the government ran the Sahara desert, there would be a shortage of sand.”

  19. “Smart” Germany is shutting down the nuclear plants because of Japan – no earthquakes seen so far, and tsunamis not very frequent there too. Will anounce
    to go green and then buy French or Czech, or Russian nuke power. Hmmm.
    Some NIMBYies do live in the States, but in Germany they are all over the place.

  20. They should ban water, considering its the killer here. First there was too much of it and it got everywhere, smashing homes, cars and people, then it went away when it was needed to cool the reactor core. Water is completely unreliable and needs to be banned.

  21. Kev-in-UK

    “So ultimately, we WILL require nuclear power to supply our energy demands.”

    Not a prayer. Ultimately we’ll harvest whatever we need from sunlight. We’ll make our own fuels pretty much on demand and they’ll be the same fuels we get out of the ground now. The technology is less than 20 years away which is how long it would take to get any commerical thorium reactors online. No one is going to invest their hard earned capital into new nuclear technology when something far cheaper, non-polluting, completely safe, and renewable is going to be mature at the same time.

    Synthetic biology is the future for energy, agriculture, manufacturing, medicine… pretty much everything. It’s just a couple decades at most away now. Pilot plants are already being constructed that can produce transportation fuels at the cost equivalent of $30/bbl oil. Synthetic biology can produce methane (natural gas) as easily as ethanol, diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, you name it.. pretty much any carbon compounds you want. Living things are masters at it. We just have to continue building up our knowledge of the molecular machinery in bacteria so we can modify and reprogram them to do exactly what we want. It’s getting close. The first fully synthetic bacterial genome was created and brought to life just a year or two ago. The rate of progress in the field reminds of semiconductors and Moore’s Law.

  22. Plenty of media beatup. But the reality is that a 40 year old power plant using a now unpreferred BWR technology, successfully shut down when faced with a magnitude 9 earthquake only 50 km away.
    It was the tsunami which caused the problem, by disabling the backup diesel generators hence being unable to cool the shutdown heat. BWR’s are vulnerable to negative voidage, other systems such as SGHR’s are not.
    This is no argument at all against nuclear power. Modern designs are inherently safer, and the reactor shutdown worked anyway.
    Nothing against gas fired power stations – they are the best power technology in terms of cost, reliability and for that matter also CO2 emissions as compared to wind power on a full project cycle basis.

  23. John-X says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    There has not been one new nuclear reactor constructed in the US in the last 30+ years.

    Actually, that’s not entirely correct. Even as we speak, a “nuclear reactor” is being built in Miami, Florida. In this particular case, the design is revolutionary–so revolutionary that had the Japanese been using this approach, they wouldn’t have any of the difficulties they currently face in the aftermath of their earthquake/tsunami. The design is so revolutionary that there won’t be any radioactive feedstock and no radioactive waste products. And during operation, moderate shielding is all that’s needed to keep everybody safe; once they throw the “Off” switch, the reactions die down without a melt down. Revolutionary. Unprecedented. Absolutely amazing!

    http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/energi_miljo/energi/article3081694.ece

    Additional tests confirm original demonstrations:

    http://pesn.com/2011/02/28/9501774_Future_Impact_of_Rossis_Cold_Fusion/

  24. It is pathetic how the Western media has switched from coverage of a major, major natural disaster with, as yet, unknown numbers of deaths and millions of displaced and bereft people to concern about radioactive releases.

    Even if the latter becomes worst case the destruction wreaked by nature is fa, far worse.
    The decision by Germany and others to suddenly institute safety reviews of their nuclear plants is spineless reaction by the politicians. As said above, how many tsunamis are we expecting in the middle of Europe?

  25. What do the events in Japan have to do with new nuclear development? Nothing. I don’t thing anybody plans to build more 1960s nuclear reactor designs. The media attack on nuclear power is simply a way to keep people stuck in green energy.

    Green wind and solar sources deliver unreliable power and require monitoring of what we do in our homes (Home Area Network, autoresponse). It is much more expensive. We will be certain of third world conditions where even industries will have to wonder whether power will be available today. More people will be out of work.

    Green energy will lead to the certainty of grinding poverty, depression, illness, malnutrition and death. And all this because of a fear of the possible problems with nuclear power? What are the actual problems? Very few people died as a result of even Chernobyl. And those were mainly the heroes who built the containment and fought the fire. Nobody died because of TMI.

    New nuclear power is not the same as the aging Fukushima reactors. We need to build Integral Fast Reactors, the probable best case being liquid fluoride buring thorium. The current disaster scenario simply can’t happen. And an added benefit is the vastly reduce quantity of high-level waste produced.

    I hope these recent events lead to a more complete discussion of the future of nuclear energy. We must achieve independence from foreign energy sources. Nuclear energy can power the world for several centuries. By then I hope we have fusion working.

  26. It is silly to be having this debate now before the full extend of the problems being encountered in Japan are known. A proper and full investigation of what went on and how the reactors coped is needed. After that investigations, lessons must be learnt.

    One has to bear in mind that these reactors were subjected to one of the most terrible natural disasters imaginable. This was on a scale which is extremely unlikely to ever incur in the vicinty of most reactors in use today. I suspect that in many ways, it will be found that the reactors stood up very well to this natural disaster.

    We must not over react. It is likely that the only significant lesson to be learnt is not to site a reactor where it could be adversely affected by a Tsunami. Whilst, I envisage that it will be found that the reactors stood up reasonably well to the earthquake, a further lesson will be that it would be imprudent to site reactors
    near to fault lines or in known earthquake zones. Taking this approach into account, it would be imprudent to site a reactor in te shaddow of a volcano. Of course, there will also be lessons to be learnt to safety/fail safe features which features can then be improved upon.

    We must not over react (as Germany has already done so by closing down all reactors built before 1980). Nuclear is still a viable option.

    I am not against using natural gas, shale gas, or coal (without carbon capture sequestration), for energy production but as other have pointed out gas has useful chemical applications and should not be wasted when better alternatives are available.

  27. The panic over all this “nuclear meltdown” is based entirely on bald faced, flat out lies. Want to see what really happened? Read here http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/14/fukushiima_analysis/
    and here (original source) http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/03/13/some-perspective-on-the-japan-earthquake/ (from actually inside Japan).

    Shutting down nuclear reactores based in bald faced lies in the press is basically criminal, the offending “news” sources should be charge and convicted, it’s people who wrote that jailed, it itself should be put up for sale to any new owner with the cash. At the very least, if you see panicy reportage on the front page of your local newspaper, you should call them up and tell them that if they do not put an immediate retraction also on the front page, you will cancel your subscription immediatly and tell all your friends and neighbors to do the same and why.

    Lies should be challenged.

  28. A 40 year old light water reactor. Why are there any of this type of designed reactor still in operation ? High tech modern Uranium and Thorium reactors are critical for modern western civilized countries. For those who wish a third world standard of living go the eco-extreme and oil/gas route.

  29. It’s the perception of nuclear hazard that matters, not the facts. So nuclear will be out of favour in the USA and in Australia for another decade or so. But our Oz politicians have never heard of the boom in availablility of natural gas due to new extraction techniques. They don’t ever read blogs like this. They haven’t heard of ‘fracking’. They are more afraid of the ‘Greenies’ than either nuclear or coal with their cheap energy and powerful enemies and anti-coal and anti-nuclear lobbies.

  30. “The disaster in Japan has made conventional nuclear power untenable.”

    Why? It has clearly shown exactly the pitfalls that nuclear safety design must avoid. If you change sources you will need another disaster of this magnitude to reach the same level of knowledge in that field.

  31. The greener nuclear alternative (Thorium).

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/45178.html

    “For one, a thorium-powered nuclear reactor can never undergo a meltdown. It just can’t. This is because thorium is slightly lighter than uranium and is not fissile – meaning you can pack as much of the stuff together as you want and it won’t undergo a runaway chain reaction.”

  32. Mike M says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming ;)

    Mike, you gave the answer to your question in the remark that you appended.

    Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons (as is ethanol, by the way).

    The combustion of coal produces a lot of CO2 and very little H2O, while the combustion of natural gas produces far less CO2 and much more H2O per BTU. Gasoline is somewhere in between, while ethanol may be a far more copious source of H2O than natural gas is, although it still produces CO2. (A chemist may be able to put, with relative ease, exact numbers on all of the constituents of the respective combustion product per BTU for each of those hydrocarbons.)

    CO2, a prerequisite for life to exist and thrive, has been assigned the role of a villain in the game people play for world domination and control; the ultimate aim of which is to squeeze the rubes — the end consumers, that is — for every nickel they’ve got.

    The other combustion product, H2O, is of course also a prerequisite for life to exist and thrive, but the rules of the game require that H2O as a combustion product not be mentioned, even though is should be considered a far greater cause of global warming due to industrial, transportation and residential emissions.

    Without those rules there is no game, therefore it is the bad luck of CO2 and everyone having to pay for using fossil fuels that CO2 has been capriciously labelled the villain.

    For that reason, natural gas is considered saintly. By the rules of the game and by the amount of CO2 produced per BTU, coal is a greater offender than is natural gas, even though, objectively, natural gas put much larger volumes of global-warming-producing H2O into the atmosphere.

    Of course, that is only if one believes the doctrine of post-modern science that truth it relative, that reality is subjective and that neither can be judged by old-fashioned, objective standards.

    By the way, in cold climates like ours in central Alberta, people who used their old chimney flues for injecting exhaust gases into the atmosphere found that the much-lower exhaust temperatures caused the H2O exhausted from high-efficiency furnaces to form ice that builds up on the inside of the chimney, closing the chimney off entirely and filling their home with exhaust gases (not detectable by smell), a good portion of which would have been CO2 and at times enough CO to kill them through carbon-monoxide poisoning.

    Fortunately, provided that the occupants are sufficiently awake to still be able to notice it, all of the windows in their home would fog up — due to the high H2O contents of the natural gas combustion products of their furnace.

    The misery and possible deaths that result from those circumstances can thereby be avoided.

    I need a bit of funding to enable me to explore that in more depth.

  33. This is what frustrates me:
    -Yes this is a problem of a design issue in older reactors.
    -But, no this was not an unforseen problem. It was indentifed as an issue long ago and they have gone to great lengths to remove this issue from new reactor designs.
    -People saying we are not learning from this, are ignorant of reality. We learned from the possibility of this event even before it happened. New reactors do not suffer from this problem.

    Do you decide if it is safe to drive a new car based on crash tests of 40 year old cars? Do you decide if a new building is safe, by looking at the design of one built 40 years ago? Do you decide if it is safe to build a new reactor based on an obsolete 40 year old design? I guess you do, if your an idealist. Hard to make informed choices when your not informed. Nothing is perfect, but we have come along way in the last 40 years. Reactor designers have not quit working and learning for the last 40 years, even if the anti-nuke crowd has.

    Anyone that comes here regularily will already know that opinions not supported by facts will not stand up on sites like this.

  34. @Jeff Carlson said:

    I would also point out that these nuke plants is question are of 1970′s design and are actually old designs from a safety perspective yet they have thus far managed to avert an actual disaster … (fingers crossed of course) …

    Actually, the failed Japanese reactors were designed in the 1950s and every reactor in the USA is at least thirty years old. These things only have a 50-year life span. If the US gummit had not had its head up its proverbial, we would have a proven breeder reactor design by now. Instead, two presidents started the necessary research and two idiot presidents later canceled that research.

  35. mpaul says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    “We need more research into thorium reactors which could have a dramatically better safety profile.”

    We (the United States) had a liquid flourine thorium reactor running for 5 years at Livermore National Research Laboratory. The only one in the world – ever. It was operating from 1964 to 1969.

    What more do you think we need to learn about LFTR? Restarting a 50 year old research reactor is no big challenge for the U.S. I’m sure the design and procedures and data are still kicking around in some classified storage closet somewhere. I suspect those classified documents contain the reasons we aren’t jumping all over LFTR. From what little I could learn of that working LFTR I think it’s simply too difficult/expensive keeping the composition/chemistry of the liquid fuel in the proper state to make it economically feasible. The liquid fuel mix is constantly changing due to transmutating fission reactions. The fuel doesn’t burn spontaneously. It’s like having a pile of wet logs in your fireplace and you can only get them to burn if you keep sticking bits of dry kindling in amongst them and without a continuous supply of kindling in the right place at the right time. Then adding insult to injury wet ashes start piling up making your kindling not burn right unless you periodically remove the ashes. None of these problems exist with solid uranium fuels. The problem with them is they burn so fast and hot it can get out of control and burn down the house really easy and possibly release so much toxic waste that the neighbors for miles in each direction have to abandon their homes too.

  36. Pebble Bed, Thorium walkaway reactors, all advanced not these GE-Designed throwbacks to another era. Thousands of people were killed in the days of Sail
    no one quit. We shouldn’t quit now…..

  37. @R. de Haan who said:

    Business as usual: Russia, Belarus sign 9 billion nuclear power contract.

    Oh great, the US fails to support 4th generation reactor design and the world is forced to buy ancient Russian reactors.

  38. Juice says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    “Until US nuke plants are threatened by tsunami, I don’t see the connection.”

    You’re kidding, right? California is one of the most earthquake prone regions in the world. The recent earthquake in JAPAN caused $17 million in damage to Crescent City California when the tsunami hit. The San Onefre nuclear power plant in southern California is so close to the ocean you can hear the waves (not kidding).

  39. President Obama was warming up to increased offshore drilling when the BP spill happened.

    I seem to recall that he was more recently warming up to Nuclear Energy as a green alternative.

    Let’s just hope he doesn’t start promoting natural gas.

  40. Stephan says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you so very much for this video from Muller. He places some hard kicks on the guilty butts. This is a revelation. Because of Climategate and the non-response of mainstream science to it, I had become distrustful of any of them who addressed these matters. Now, Thank God, I believe I was wrong.

    Maybe Muller and friends will restore integrity to mainstream science, though that might be impossible for the Royal Society, NASA, and the NAS. I really want to see apologies from Monbiot, the Pit Bulls on the Guardian Boards, Real Climate, Al Gore, and all the dogged defenders of intentional scientific lying. I hope the guillotines fall and the careers of all Climategaters and fellow travelers are ended. Such action is necessary across the board if public trust is to be restored to science.

    I hope Muller and friends will explain why they are doing this. That explanation should be a best selling book.

  41. Problem with gas is the recent abundance is the result of new processes that involve pumping chemicals underground at high-pressure to fracture the rock formations. This is causing localized seismic activity resulting in non-trivial damage to property. Plus, this will obviously wreck havoc on the water table all over the country. Even if it were safe (which it can’t be), the Obama EPA, and state level regulators, are already making noises like they’re going to clamp down on the new techniques. This new technology is basically a scheme to get in quick, make lots of money, with no regard for the environment, get out, and plead ignorance (after damages are done to our biosphere that are far greater than any that might be inflicted by nuclear power).

    Oh. Any burning natural gas emits CO2, not that there is anything wrong with that.

  42. msinillinois says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm
    “The disaster in Japan has made conventional nuclear power untenable.”

    Please read something posted by rational people. Go to Nationalreview.com/TheCorner and read the posts. There are definitive posts from experts who explain that all danger of nuclear release has long passed and that the so-called fires that are reported at this time are ordinary detritus from a shut down.

    There is going to be major blowback against the MSM, now including Fox, for their childish, hysterical ranting about nuclear holocaust. There should also be a huge humanitarian blow back against the MSM for taking the focus off the Japanese people and placing it on technology.

  43. Following the news the absolute worst case scenario evolving from the reactor problems in Japan will produce less than ~5-10 deaths (including long term cancers).

    Meanwhile a thousand times that many are dead in the tsunami.
    More die in a bus crash in Brooklyn.
    A thousands times as many die in coal mines every year.
    And a large proportion of the greenster dickheads of the world continue to smoke.

    Makes me ashamed to be a westerner.

  44. ew-3 says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    “Get the word out that the issue in Japan is largely due to it being older technology and if we’re smart we’ll swap out some of our older units with newer ones to improve safety.”

    I am all for newer technology, but the problem in Japan was the site of the facility. You do not want to build a nuclear reactor on top of an earthquake hotbed where tsunamis are likely. Before we discuss anything else regarding existing or future nuclear facilities, we must evaluate the relative risks of the sites available for such facilities.

  45. Can any one tell me, within a factor of 10 how many natural gas fires there have been in Japan in the last 5 days?

    It’s seems the spin doctors are out in force, but sooner or later the pictures of the towns and villages that burnt to the ground due to natural gas leaks are going to come out.

  46. You know what the French will do about this. After all, they have the largest quantity of nuclear power plants in Europe.

    I’ll tell you what they will do. Nothing. Nothing at all. They have the safest, most reliable generation systems in Europe and probably the world. They will set a couple of investigations in progress that will report back in 2015 and say how safe they are.

    I hate the arrogant French government, but I did buy a place in France as insurance for when the lights go out in the UK.

  47. Dave Springer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm
    Kev-in-UK
    “So ultimately, we WILL require nuclear power to supply our energy demands.”

    “Not a prayer. Ultimately we’ll harvest whatever we need from sunlight.”

    Do you know the length of the average day in the Highlands of Scotland during January? The sun rises at nine and sets at three. How about London? The sun rises at eight and sets at four. You could cover your house with solar panels and not have hot water for a shower all winter long.

  48. One year from know we will be talking about how this was the disaster that wasn’t. This is a VERY SERIOUS nuclear accident and it will be a huge radioactive mess to clean up AT THE SITE. I see no evidence that this will have any long term effects on public health or the ability to utilize the land that is around the plant. My hope is that it is also not a health issue for those who are fighting to establish long term cooling.

    That said, politically the pundits may be right about its effect on the industry, we shall see.

  49. Lets focus on the real tragedy which is the aftermath of the tsunami, and its impacts on the people. There has yet to be a significant nuclear incident, and hopefully there will not. Even if there is, its cause will be thoroughly investigated, and as is the case with airline crashes, appropriate changes will be made. We do not stop flying every time there is an airline crash, because the subsequent investigation makes flight safer for us all. So it should be with this incident.

  50. @Dave Springer

    Rather than go the synthetic biology route, we might as well go on a building spree building cheap reactors and not bothering with any safety features. At least that way, some of us will survive.

  51. @Dave Springer

    The San Onefre nuclear power plant in southern California is so close to the ocean you can hear the waves (not kidding).

    Yes Dave. You can also hear the cars go by on I-5. Every year, more people die on that one highway than have died from TMI, Chernobyl, and will from this disaster’s final tally.

    What’s your point?

    Oh. By the way, do you have any idea what a 9.0 would do to southern California? That’s about 50 times bigger than the big one every one is waiting for. San Onofre and Diablo Canyon would be the least of your worries. Also, they could both withstand a 7 meter tsunami.

    I also think American ingenuity could deal with this kind of crisis a lot better than Japanese culture permits. Not sure about California ingenuity, though.

  52. Dave Springer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Ah – so you don’t think genetic engineering is potentially dangerous? I am not saying that I don’t like the idea of synthetic fuel generation – just that there are an awful load of people fighting that kind of stuff from getting started. It will require just as much control, design and implemenation as nuclear power if you think about it. If the greenies don’t like genetic engineered crops, how the flip will they ‘approve’ of genetic engineered bugs? What if a crazy genetic virus mutant was released? It will need potentially far more control that nuclear power if you think it through…..because we know what nuclear problems can be created – but we have no idea what genetic mutations could be produced?

  53. Interesting aside on this story.

    Energy Probe, the anti-nuclear group cited secondly is actually one of two online homes author Lawrence Solomon, who most of us here know from the National/Financial Post and The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud (and those who are too fearful to do so).

    There might be some reconciliation though, Lawrence’s writings in the Post in the last years have at least twice touched on re-examining the real threats of nuclear technology based on changing knowledge.

    from http://ep.probeinternational.org/about/our-staff/

    Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada’s leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday), which popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s, became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life.”

  54. Alan Wilkinson –

    When I said nuclear power has become untenable, I meant from a political standpoint. Engineering has nothing to do with it. From an engineering standpoint, recycling wastewater into drinking water is perfectly feasible. The masses would not accept it, anymore than they will now accept new nuclear reactors. For now. Get thirsty enough, however, and people will drink anything.

  55. Jeremy says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Apparently I need to move to Mars to get away from all the luddites.

    I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that most people are too stupid (technically- challenged) to live in the modern world.

  56. “From an engineering standpoint, recycling wastewater into drinking water is perfectly feasible. The masses would not accept it …”

    The Dutch, at the mouth of the Rhine, have been doing that for decades. Price the alternatives fairly and see what people buy.

  57. My understanding of the problem in Japan is that is was the standby diesel generators which were swamped by the tsunami water that were the main problem. When the power to the station was disrupted and stopped the pumps for the cooling system the standby power was not able to operate. If the deisel generators were operable the power plant would probably be still working now. So the reactors etc did initially survive as designed.
    Also I have read to day there has been a massive error in the reported radiation levels because the wrong units have been report— the reports say micro sieverts where is should have been milli sieverts. Can anyone confirm this ??

  58. Who is this Prof. Muller from the video at the beginning of the responses and what college is he from?

  59. I suppose what bothers me about this whole thing is that someone watching the news would be led to believe that three reactors are melting down and spewing radioactive waste all over Japan. They aren’t, and they aren’t.

    I expect all three reactors to be in “cold shutdown” by Saturday. Unit 1 might take a little longer. The spent fuel rods in “the pool” in unit 4 might pose a problem as they were just pulled from the reactor last month but it looks like they are going to get that under control, too.

    This is going to be the most massive non-crisis crisis the world has ever seen.

  60. Sun Spot says:
    March 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm
    A 40 year old light water reactor. Why are there any of this type of designed reactor still in operation ?

    Profit. Why replace something that is still making $$$?
    And that is why the plants that are now damaged got thier licences extended in February.

  61. You guys are still arguing as if there was actually a nuclear meltdown/disaster in Japan, there was not, as I pointed out before, see here http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/03/13/some-perspective-on-the-japan-earthquake/

    Some quotes:
    “The instant response — scramming the reactors — happened exactly as planned and, instantly, removed the Apocalyptic Nightmare Scenarios from the table.
    There were some failures of important systems, mostly related to cooling the reactor cores to prevent a meltdown. To be clear, a meltdown is not an Apocalyptic Nightmare Scenario: the entire plant is designed such that when everything else fails, the worst thing that happens is somebody gets a cleanup bill with a whole lot of zeroes in it.”

    But how about all that dangerous radiation leaking out?? Well, another quote : “When you hear news reports of people exposed to radiation, keep in mind, at the moment we’re talking a level of severity somewhere between “ate a banana” and “carries a Delta Skymiles platinum membership card”.”

    In short, NO dangerous levels of radiation have leaked out, and I don’t see any possibility of any leaking out in the future. It is only a frankly bald faced lying press that associates small radiation leaks of such things as N16 which has a half life of seconds (let me repeat, SECONDS) with panic.

    Discussing the dangers of “old” style reactores here, and how dangerous they are, on this site, is just stupid. Those “old style” reactors, with their mutiple redundant safty systems, have simply proved that even those older reactors are completly safe, dispite being through a record breaking earthquake AND a tsunami on top of that (and it was the tsunami that is the only part that caused any concern at these plants, and that not a concern of real danger, only of an expensive rebuilding). Really people, I thought this was a SCIENCE site, you know, FACTS. Read the FACTS before you jump to any conclusions of the dangers, if any, of nuclear.

    Number of people so far harmed by radiation in Japan, ZERO.
    Number of people killed in the “nuclear accident” in Japan, 1 (a crane fell on him).
    Now compare that to the number of people who were actually killed by the earthquake ( smaller than you might think, they are very prepared for earthquakes over there) and the tsunami (lots, as many as 10,000).
    Conclusion, nuclear deaths (from radiation), zero, natural causes deaths, 10,000, comparative danger from radiation cpmpared to natural causes (like tsunamis), infinitely small.

    Conclusion, the “dangers” of nuclear power, even in the worst possible disaster that could possibly happen, are literally SHOWN (by FACTS) to be mathematically infinitly small. And yet, the press keeps coming back to them again and again. And people on this supposedly science based blog are acting as if those “dangers” are real. Here’s an idea, name me one person, ONE NAME, of ANYONE killed or even injured in Japan by radiation.
    I’m waiting…
    Still waiting…
    Anyone?
    Anyone?
    Beuler?

  62. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    …There are definitive posts from experts who explain that all danger of nuclear release has long passed and that the so-called fires that are reported at this time are ordinary detritus from a shut down.

    I’ve got bad news for the ‘definitive posters': The spent fuel pool in reactor No 4 has a non-zero chance of achieving criticality due to lack of water (it is apparently boiling). TEPCO are considering using boracic acid on it. The spent fuel pools in reactors 5 & 6 are increasing in temperature.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/15/fukushima-15-march-summary/#comments

  63. As much as I love nuclear for the long term, 3 billion year, solution to energy, the capital markets and price should be the deciding factors. If gas is the winner, for the next few decades, so be it. Oh, and somehow get gasoline down to the 31 cents per gallon of the 1960s. And don’t forget the gas wars when it was sold for 12 cents a gallon.

  64. Alan Wilkinson –
    The Dutch are a very practical and pragmatic people. As are the Japanese. I fully expect that Japan will continue to utilize nuclear power. That a population with a history that includes destruction of two of their cities by nuclear weapons would accept reactors in their country is an indication of just how pragmatic they are. We in the US – less so. We are obsessed by attractive, but impractical ideas like solar and wind which will never produce a meaningful amount of useful energy. We have government programs to encourage electric vehicles, then burn fossil fuels to generate the electricity to charge them, and this is “green”. Nuclear power will return to favor in the US, but I think we will have to hit bottom first, unfortunately.

  65. kramer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm
    Who is this Prof. Muller from the video at the beginning of the responses and what college is he from?
    ———-
    A physicist from Berkeley I believe.

  66. Dave Springer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    The recent earthquake in JAPAN caused $17 million in damage to Crescent City California when the tsunami hit. The San Onefre nuclear power plant in southern California is so close to the ocean you can hear the waves (not kidding).

    Crescent City has been repeatedly hit by tidal waves. It has something to do with the slope of the ocean nearby. I’ve read that such waves are less of a problem where the offshore slope is steep–as it is around much of Washington state and BC. I think that California is less at risk than Japan for this reason. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

  67. Tony K
    The daily mail is a mini poll of public opinion,because they allow the comments to be voted on and conveniently sort them into best rated.
    The best rated comment on that article is one by Kate who says”candles not cancer”with 1,031 votes.(1,030 now I voted hehe)
    Not looking good for nuclear in the UK.

  68. kramer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Who is this Prof. Muller from the video at the beginning of the responses and what college is he from?

    He’s the chairman of the recent BEST team (temperature reconstruction effort), which has been the subject of three recent WUWT threads. Put Muller in the search box and you;ll get them at the top of the list. He’s also a prof. at Berkeley where he teaches a popular course. And he’s the author of various books, the most notable being Physics for Future Presidents, here (check the reader reviews to get an idea of his position):

  69. Dave Springer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm
    biosynthetic industry

    Get our fuel from bacteria? Don’t count on it. Bacteria and other organsims are masters at doing amazing things. However, it can take a long time to optimize a process. Have you ever tried to do protein engineering? I have. You might be able to select for bugs that do something interesting. You might assemble the pieces of an unoptimized process then you have to hope that the bugs somehow fix your misunderstandings and do what you want. If you can set up a way to add selective pressure, you might get what you want. That is not always easy to arrange.

    Add to that the joy of biotech bozos who don’t know how to cross-license IP. Moore’s law is applicable to semiconductors but not necessarily to biotech. The early semiconductor industry happily cross-licensed patents and the industry exploded. Biotech with greedy and small-minded players like Affymetrix, in my opinion, who want to rule the world by patenting everything in sight will stifle biotech for a while. Unfortunately, they have set the precedent and the tone for the rest of the industry. Don’t expect much from it.

  70. The nuclear plants being built now are safer than at Fukushima Daiichi? Yes they are. But they are still not safe. I am certain that there are accident scenarios that have not been planned for in newer plants. Why do I say that? Because humans aren’t smart enough to foresee all scenarios. There will be more nuclear plant disasters. And apparently “the world’s stock of 443 nuclear reactors could more than double in the next 15 years”. With an increase of them there will be an increase in accidents. It is conceivable that nuclear fall out from some of them will be horrible.

    But no one who approves of and builds them want believe that. So we will see more of these horror-movie-accidents-waiting-to-happen be built.

  71. Cars are far, far better and safer today than they were even twenty years ago. Would anyone disagree?

    There is no reason to think that modern nuclear power plants would not be much better and much safer than plants designed in the 1950’s.

  72. Billy Liar says:
    March 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I’ve got bad news for the ‘definitive posters’: The spent fuel pool in reactor No 4 has a non-zero chance of achieving criticality due to lack of water (it is apparently boiling).

    I was wondering when someone would reach the “non-zero probability” level of scariness. Let’s put it into perspective:
    If you lean against a wall, there is a non-zero probability that you will quantum tunnel to the other side of the wall and appear on the other side. Do you worry about that, too?

    Come on people. Stop with the panic and try to stay rational.

  73. I’ve got bad news for the ‘definitive posters’: The spent fuel pool in reactor No 4 has a non-zero chance of achieving criticality due to lack of water (it is apparently boiling). TEPCO are considering using boracic acid on it. The spent fuel pools in reactors 5 & 6 are increasing in temperature.

    There is a lot of conflicting information relating to what is occuring at the plant. I cannot comment on the spent fuel pools, or other aspects of the plant but the focus until now has been on the reactors and the reactors have all achieved cold shutdown:

    Unit 1 (shut down at 2:48pm on Mar 11th)
    – At 10:15am, Mar 14th, it has been confirmed that the average water
    temperature of the suppression chamber has continuously fell bellow 100
    degrees.
    – At present, the unit has achieved reactor cold shutdown.

    Unit 2 (shut down at 2:48pm on Mar 11th)
    – At 3:52pm, Mar 14th, it has been confirmed that the average water
    temperature of the suppression chamber has continuously fell bellow 100
    degrees.
    – At present, the unit has achieved reactor cold shutdown.

    Unit 3 (shut down at 2:48pm on March 11th)
    – We decided to prepare implementing measures to reduce the pressure of
    the reactor containment vessel (partial discharge of air containing
    radioactive materials) in order to fully secure safety. The preparation
    woke started at around 12:08pm, Mar 12th and finished at 12:13pm, Mar
    12th.
    – At present, the unit has achieved reactor cold shutdown.

    Unit 4 (shut down at 2:48pm on March 11th)
    – We decided to prepare implementing measures to reduce the pressure of
    the reactor containment vessel (partial discharge of air containing
    radioactive materials) in order to fully secure safety. The preparation
    woke started at around 11:44am, Mar 12th and finished at around 11:52am,
    Mar 12th.
    – Restoration work in reactor cooling function that was conducted to
    achieve reactor cold shutdown has been completed and cooling of the
    reactor has been commenced at 3:42 pm, Mar 14th.
    – At 7:15pm, Mar 15th, it has been confirmed that the average water
    temperature of the suppression chamber has continuously fell bellow 100
    degrees.
    – At present, the unit has achieved reactor cold shutdown.

    The recent fires are concerning but there is very little information about what is happening other than they are not involving the reactors themselves and the source of radiation has not yet been determined, but from the above reports the chance of say a meltdown in any o fthe reactors seems to have passed. This is interesting in that the first story I read on mainstream news was that there were fears of meltdown in three of the reactors – there is an aweful lot of misinformation going around.

    I think a detailed view of what has happened is just going to have to wait till things settle down and recovery begins.

  74. etudiant says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel.

    What’s more is there a good chance that natural gas is not a fossil fuel at all but produced but natural processes in the earth’s mantle. If true that would mean there is not a “peak” natural gas.

    Freeman Dyson talks about how natural gas may not be a fossil fuel starting at 0:59 of this video

  75. Kev-in-Uk says:
    March 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm
    Dave Springer says:
    March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Ah – so you don’t think genetic engineering is potentially dangerous?

    ______________________________

    The real problem is when companies like Monsanto design GMOs that can’t produce seeds and then spread pollen that contaminates natural crops. Next, these bast*rds sue farmers claiming that somehow they stole proprietary seed because the genetic signature indicative of Monsanto IP is in the farmer’s seed. And on top of that, it seems Monsanto lobbyists got the government to regulate small farmers and organic farmers under the guise of “food safety” and send out food police to arrest innocent farmers who want to share food.

    What is the goal? Apparently, Monsanto wants to take over all food production. In that world, none of our food can produce seeds. You would have to buy Monsanto seeds that work only for one generation. Now imagine a catastrophe that is worse than the Japan earthquake. If civilization hit a serious bump in the road, in the past people could survive by growing their own food from seeds they kept. In the future, that option might not be possible.

    We need to sue the pants off of Monsanto for failing to contain their lousy pollen that contaminates traditional crops. How are farmers supposed to keep their own seed if they might be sued by a big corporation that can’t be reined in?

    It isn’t the modified bugs that I worry about. I worry more about scheming corporations that have a great idea and can’t tell themselves no. I worry about a government that writes regulations that cut competition to protect their favored corporate partners (corporate slaves actually). I worry about a judiciary that must write opinions on questions they have little hope of understanding in sufficient depth.

    It’s all about money and power. The ideals of science are useless on that level. However, the big miscalculation the power-mad elites forget is, Nature doesn’t care a bit about their money and power. Legal, regulatory, and monetary constructs can’t overcome physical and natural laws. Sometimes reality bites.

  76. wsbriggs says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Even the minute bits of ash from coal fired plants aren’t the problem that melted fuel rods are.

    It should be exceptionally easy for anyone to agree with that. What is mind boggling to the point of tears is that there are people who will not agree with it.

  77. Legatus

    Ya, things have gone just great in Japan. The last ditch effort of using sea water mixed with boron to cool rods in the reactors to keep them from runaway melting, while calling on help from the American designers, was just a fabulous testament to just how wonderful things are going there.

  78. I don’t believe anybody when they say that because of this, nuclear power will lose its standing. If that was true, we would stop using coal after every coal mine collapse. Or oil after every gasline explosion, and so on.
    The only people who are calling for an end to Nuclear power are the people who didn’t like it in the first place, and now think they have a reason to cry even more.
    While the situation in Japan is tragic, lessons will be learned from this, new technology and safety systems will be developed, and life will go on and nuclear power will recover.
    There is no advancement of life without risk. The same applies to energy. Think of the millions of people’s lives made better because of oil, coal, and nuclear development. Think of the lives saved due to these energy sources because people no longer freeze to death in the winter, or starve because they have no fuel to cook their food.
    We didn’t stop selling the automobile after the first fatal car accident, nor did we stop selling alcohol after the first case of alcohol poisoning.
    Bad events will occur, but society as a whole can grown and learn from these events. We just need to let cool minds prevail, and think rationally, not emotionally.

  79. So we will see more of these horror-movie-accidents-waiting-to-happen be built.

    I did some checking yesterday and found out that the estimates of deaths caused every year to the production of fossil fuels for power generation dwarfs the total amount of deaths + radiation sickness cases from all the Nuclear Power incidents in history combined by a factor of 50 – 100 depending on which figures you use.

    Time and again I see people talking about the “Safety” or lacktherof of Nuclear power yet I do not see the same fear mongering and “safety” fears on that side of the fence. You and others may get all miffed when you see people talking about the relative safety of Nuclear and go on about the danger, and how many people were exposed to radiation but from my side of the fence by overexaggerating the risks to such a degree and not having the same standard for all power generation you are saying you are fine with several hundred thousand people dying each year to bring fossil fuel sourced power because it’s only alternative scares you too much.

    From where I am standing, it is one of the most ridiculous assertions I have seen come out of the disaster that is the Japan earthquake.

    At present, there are 100 times as many deaths from the Earthquake and Tsunami that have nothing to do with the Nuclear Reactors and that figure is apparently going to jump to astronomical figures and all I see on the front page of the news is story after story about the Nuclear Reactors – which have already all achieved cold shutdown.

    How about a little more attention to he thousands that have died in the disaster and a little less histrionics over the Nuclear Reactors.

  80. John Coleman says: (March 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm)
    I have written a blog on this topic

    Which I read with real interest until I reached your words: “The consequence that bothers me from a radiation release instead of instant death, is the long term impact. People would breath in radioactive particles and those particles would become lodged in their bodies and years later a cancerous tumor would result.”

    At that point our paths diverged and I left you to go on gathering nuts in May whilst I headed back to the main drag and some reality.

  81. Kev-in-UK:

    “So ultimately, we WILL require nuclear power to supply our energy demands.”

    Dave Springer March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm:

    Not a prayer. Ultimately we’ll harvest whatever we need from sunlight.

    Dave, God love ya, but you just blew any credibility you had with me going forward … you have NO idea of the energy requirements to air condition a house in Tejas in the summer …

    .

  82. Low cost, low sulpher, Australian coal is best for electrivity generation.
    But then, I’m not in the least biased;
    or not too much anyway.

  83. Smokey March 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm :

    Cars are far, far better and safer today than they were even twenty years ago. Would anyone disagree?

    I would, but, not everyone could drive (afford) a Mercedes (S-class) … my ’83 (European grey-market car) came equipped with airbags for instance, my ’85 Chev Caprice did not …

    .

  84. Anthony, when I first heard about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, WUWT was the first place I turned to for information and commentary. You and the other commentors have, as usual, not let me down. I congratulate the level of discussion seen here.

    I teach about nuclear power, in the context of twentieth century scientific technology and society, and will have to do a serious rewrite of the relevant lectures, but agree that the technology has held up well with an enviable safety record for the most part, especially US and Canadian designed reactors. There have been problems, but relative to other energy generating technologies, nuclear holds up well. I also borrow an analogy from Richard Rhodes, that nuclear power was commercialized way too quickly – imagine if airplane manufacturers tried to produce jumbo jets 15 years after the Wright Bros. first flew. Yet that is what happened with nuclear power. Even with the hasty exploitation of this new technology, it has held up well. I intend to continue defending this technology, and am delighted to learn from the experience of commentators here and from the information they have provided in the nuclear threads.

    Hoser says:
    March 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Monsanto had to end its terminator gene policy because that really crossed the line of food security; the terminator gene policy would have solidified opinion against GM crops and probably would have ended up in anti-trust action in the US. Indeed that was the most horrifying threat to food production ever imagined by a major corporation. However, had this genetically modified crop continued to be produced, probably the pollen of such plants would have been sterile, and would not have contaminated non-GM crops – except perhaps if it somehow lowered seed productivity through some biochemical interaction at the level of contact with the plant ovule. No fertile seeds would have resulted that farmers could have planted that would therefore be the target of Monsanto litigation.

    The cross contamination of natural crops by Monsanto Roundup Ready pollen as you have described is indeed the cause of some dreadfully iniquitous lawsuits against farmers who are most likely innocent. Monsanto has used the worst strong-arm tactics of intimidation, spying and setting court trials in distant states, making the expense of defense too great for farmers to bear. Too many farmers have been driven into bankruptcy by Monsanto bully-boy tactics.

  85. Jim says: [ ... ]

    I should have known better than to phrase it like that. But the fact is that current autos are better than those of 20 years ago. Progress marches on.

    On a somewhat related note, anyone who wants protection provided by non-radioacitve pills can go here.

  86. I already quoted the relevent passges but I shall also give you links – it is from TEPCO the power company that runs the reactors, there address is:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html

    They have been maintaining hourly updates on the 4 reactors and all have registered cold shutdown and have maintained that status for some time now:

    Most recent status link:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11031507-e.html

    detailed status link:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11031501-e.html

  87. Jeff Carlson March 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm :

    I would also point out that these nuke plants is question are of 1970′s design

    In the “worse than we thought” category –

    Fukushima Daiichi reactor #1 started construction in 1967, 1st criticality in 1970, commercial operation in 1971 …

    More than you could ever possibly want to know about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex:

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

    .

  88. Smokey

    You’re exactly right. For those people who don’t know, it’s called ” Progress.”
    ( For the small-minded, compare your IPhone 4 to the 3’rd model.)

    The reactors we build in the future, just like all technology, will undoubtedly be safer, cheaper, and more efficient then the ones we used today, just the technology we used 20-40 years ago is now outdated as well.
    Or perhaps the doomsayers would like to go back to a horse and carriage? I could give them a diaper…

  89. “Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm
    Michael R says:
    March 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    already all achieved cold shutdown.

    Cold shutdown? Would you link the story that tells this?”
    __________

    Amino,
    I was wondering the same thing.

    I found this but it is apparently from another source:

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/IT-All_Fukushima_Daini_units_in_cold_shutdown-1503114.html

    And would balance it (discard?) with this in-depth report:

    http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2011/03/15/spent-fuel-pool-threatened-by-new-fire-at-fukushima-daichi-unit-4_2c00_-radiation-exceeds-healthy-levels031504.aspx

  90. Ooops, I see Michael R. responded, thanks Michael, and sorry about that. Guess I jumped the gun. :0)

  91. Ooops, I see Michael R. responded, thanks Michael, and sorry about that. Guess I jumped the gun. :0)

    No problem. Personally I a not well versed in reactor design nor do I obviously have a lot of information to go on – just the same everyone else is getting. I have not yet been able to reconcile why some reports are so conflicting but I considered a press release from TEPCO directly stating that they had achieved cold shutdown on all four reactors was a more reliable source then say ninemsn or yahoo news reporting 2nd, 3rd or 4th separation relayed comments.

    Having said that while cold shutdown certainly prevents the type of disaster that happened at Chernobyl it is clear it’s not an “all clear”. There are fears there is a hole in teh suppression chamber of one of the reactors and the firee are also a concern. Mostly it seems the concern is about radiation on site from expose fuel sources which is compatible with the reactors having been shutdown. Thankfully if that is the case then there is a good chance that any dangerous radiation will be kept within or close to the facility and the likelyhood of human health impacts outside the exclusion zone are low – and several news utlets have reported officials stating much the same thing.

  92. “Because humans aren’t smart enough to foresee all scenarios.”

    Nor is a turtle, but he pokes his head out of his shell and walks.

    Is the turtle wrong?

  93. Michael R March 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm :

    I already quoted the relevent passges but I shall also give you links …

    Are you aware the links you just provided are for Fukushima Daini (also known as Fukushima II in some circles); this site has few issues at present.

    Do you have similar links for Fukushima Daiichi (also known as Fukushima I)? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_Nuclear_Power_Plant

    Links such as this:
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11031504-e.html

    – which describes issues with Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building fuel storage pool?

  94. Michael R

    Gaylon also supplied this from 1 1/4 hours ago:

    Radiation levels are too high for workers to approach the reactor building, so it is unknown whether if smoke and/or vapor is coming from the pool storing partially spent MOX fuel.

  95. The latest releases from TEPCO appear to be coming in Japanese and its taking time for the translations to come through. There was an update released within the last few hours located at their website located here:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/index-j.html

    That includes a link to data collected from monitoing stations on curent radiation levels. It’s also Japanese however. The direct link is here:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/index-j.html

    With a google translate of it here:

    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tepco.co.jp%2Findex-j.html&sl=ja&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

    Which appears to have the current radiation levels at the site as:

    1:10 pm : Portal : 2538.0 μSv/h0.01 μSv/h under : Wind Direction – West-southwest
    Wind Speed 1.0 m/s

    It also looks like they had a spike with Radiation levels about 5 hours go hitting 10,850.0 μSv before falling back to current levels of 2538.0 μSv.

    There is also a good link that begins to explain how the spent fuel pools work and the possible danger involved in the fuel being exposed (which appears to be the major concern at the moment) :

    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/16/a-primer-on-spent-fuel-pools/

  96. Just saw the front page story “explosion increases fears of major radiation leak”. Now this headline is completly true, fears are increasing. HOWEVER, the CHANCE of a “major radiation leak” was zero yesterday, is still zero today, and will be zero again tomarrow.

    Why, because all three reactors have “scrammed”, they did so immediatly after the earthquake, exactly as planned. “Scrammed” means that rods of neutron absorbing material inseted themselves into the core. Once that happens, the chance of the core releasing any noticable radioactivity (as in danagerous to anyone anywhere, even inside the plant) is ZERO. It still takes a while for the core to cool, however, and if, as happened here, the backup diesel generators, and even the backup backup generators (yes, they all have them) are damaged, by, oh, say, a huge tsunami, then they may have to bring in portable generators to cool the core while it is shutting down all the way. If they cannot get it cool fast enough, the only “threat” is small amounts of radioactive gas by products, with half lives so short that they would have to hurry to get out of the reactor to even still be detectable (maybe a bananas worth of radioactivity, if that).

    But, you say, what about the explosions? The explosions are purely caused by the publics irrational, not to say just plain stupid, fear of even small and completly harmless amounts of radiation. The plants, due to this irrational fear, shut the steam inside the plant, to try and avoid bad publicity (result, even more bad publicity). Due to the way things work in reactors, this resultes in some of the water being converted into oxygen and hydrogen, result, explosion. They could have released it right into the air with no danger, since the half lives of the radioactive parts are so short (seconds for N16, the major source) that it cannot hurt anyone even if it started out radioactive enough to do so (which it didn’t, although it lasts such a short time I don’t think one could even detect if it did). Thus, this irrational fear, and the current desire of plant officials to coddle this irrational fear, are what caused the explosions.

    There is also spent feul there which needs to be cooled also. Since it is, after all, spent, the danger of it releasing any harmfull (to anyone, enywhere) amounts of radiation is also zero. It is there because we promised the Japanese we would get rid of it, and then, because of irrational fears, decided not to bury it (there are a number of ways to do so, all work 100%), thus nuclear plants are forced to keep their spent feul in conditions a lot less secure than they would be if we were allowed to properly dispose of it. Do the people with this irrational fear know this, do they realize the actual RESULT of their plain stupidity? Do they realize that the people who stimulate this irrational fear in them for their own gain know the result of this fear, and don’t care if the feul is saftly disposed of or not? Perhaps they know, as I do, that the feul, being, after all, spent, is pretty safe, no matter where it is. Perhaps the irrational fear they stimulate in the stupid sheep people (what else can you call them?) is known by them to be a bald faced lie, as shown by the results. Perhaps they just like stampeding the herd, gives them a great sense of power.

    Oh, by the way, this headline shouting out irrational fear (even though not ONE person has died from it) had, like, an actual article after it. It mentioned, after going on about it’s irrational fears for a while, that, oh, say, 2000 bodies has washed ashore, and oh yes, perhaps as many as 10.000 had died. But, of course, THOSE don’t really count, expecpt as a sort of afterthought. After all, death doesn’t really count unless it’s death from radiation exposure, right? In fact, even a trumped up zero percent chance of radiation, even harmless radiation, counts FAR more than a mere 10.000 dead, right? And who cares about the homeless (in winter), injured, bereaved, without power or water people, anyway. They are just the masses, the herd, usefull only when you want a nice stampede, that’s all.

    I have heard it said that “free speach” does not allow the shouting of “fire” in a crowded theatre. Stimulating irrational fears that can result in major power outages, so major that civilization could collapse (first the economy, then civil order, then civilization) could kill millions, or even billions. It is thus equivilent to shouting fire. The people who do this should be locked up in an unlighted, unheated, uncooled cell, where they will drink bad water (like many people who have no power in this world do every day) and given raw food only to eat (which should not, of course, ever be refridgerated). If they complain, and want the results of electricity they are missing, give them the bizness end of a cattle prod till they learn to SHUT UP. Now THAT would be justice!

    And as for those who vote that they would rather have candellight than nuclear power, note that the above description of a cell is what they will be actually getting. Do they even know what it takes to make candles, especialy to make that many? Will their place of employment also operate on candlepower? Can you run a farm on candlepower, how much food can it grow, ship, and store without it perishing on candlepower? Can you build a house, a road, anything, on candlepower? How many of these people know how much hard (and dangerous) manual labor it takes to run a world on candlepower? How many people can this earth support if we only use canclepower? A LOT less than we have now, so, ok, who is going to have to die so that the rest of us can live this “wonderful” candlepowered life? You? You? THINK!

    (Answer, the fat ones will have to go, you can make a lot more candles out of them.)

  97. What is the explanation for this?

    Ok this is a direct result over a lot of confusion about what the current status is, what the danger is and what the possible danger could be. I am going to attempt an explanation to the best of my ability.

    The reactors achieving cold Shutdown is the point at which the reactor’s coolant water no longer boils from contact with the fuel – essentially meaning that provided the reaction chamber remains sealed and coolant levels don’t plummet there is no longer the stressful need to bring in constant additional water for cooling – ie provided no further incidents occur to the reaction chamber, and there is no loss of coolant, the heat generated by the fuel is kept under control. In this state, they could effectively be left “as is” without further risk of harm.

    However, the decay of radioactive particles still occur in the fuel rods and continue to do so long after they are no longer being used as fuel however the heat generated is actually quite small (comparitively speaking) and once fuel rods are used, they are stored in pools of water that absorb and remove the excess heat and also absorb the radiation comng from the rods.

    In this respect it is still possible for the rods to “meltdown” as it were and additionally if they are exposed directly to the surrounding air start leaking radiation.

    From what I have been able to determine, all of the reactors did achieve cold shutdown which means that provided the pressure in the system remained stable, there was no further imminent danger of meltdown however further incidents have hampered the efforts to ensure the systems remain stable.

    There have been reported to be several fires located at or near the spent fuel reactor pools (. In addition, it has been reported that there is a hole in reactor 2 (the one that was reported to have had an explosion heard)http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Possible_damage_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_2_1503111.html.

    What exactly does this mean?

    If there is a hole in Reactor 2 and coolant has leaked exposing the core and most particularly if the workers have been evacuated and no longer ensuring the reactor is stable, radiation can leak out of this reactor. How much will depend upon where it is, how much shielding has been left around the site. However if there is a hole in the reactor then while it is possible it will have a direct impact on the local area, the chance of it affecting a greater area than the exclusion zone are remote unless core material is somehow ejected from the reactor which with little pressure on the coolant from a hole is unlikely to happen. Best guess here is that you will have (effectively) exposed radioactive material that will need to be locked down and removed when safe to do so – or alternatively entombed.

    The fuel ponds pose the greater risk for the most part because if their fuel rods are exposed then they have a much greater chance of radioactive particles reaching further distances (through fire/wind/explosion) but for the most part, as with the reactors their radiation will be affecting the local area more so than at any great distance.

    This link : http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_japan_earthquake

    Is another example of how second hand information combined with news reports putting a very dire spin on everything coming from the plants leads to misleading conclusions. That report was about 1 hour ago, and 30 minutes ago it was reported that :

    All those remaining were pulled out for almost an hour because radiation levels were too high, but later allowed to return, officials said.

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/03/16/idINIndia-55547920110316?pageNumber=1

    The reason for pulling out was a surge in radiation which they have not yet determined the cause.

    Please note I am not downplaying the severity of the situation rather trying to convey meaningful information that is no jaded by the sensationalism of the media.

  98. Dave Worley says:
    March 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    “Because humans aren’t smart enough to foresee all scenarios.”

    Nor is a turtle, but he pokes his head out of his shell and walks.

    Is the turtle wrong?

    No, he’s just fine. and as he pokes his head out radiation is released. All the animals in the area die of cancer 2o years later. The ones closest handle the job of covering the hole of the shell with cement as soon as he pulls his head back in. Those die within 8 months.

    Thanks for asking.

    But in saying what you said you agree with me that not all accident scenarios will be planned for and there will be more accidents at nuclear power plant in the future. Some may be as bad or worse than any reactor accident that has happened up until now. Can you say I am wrong?

    But that’s fear mongering because nuclear power is safer than it used to be, right?

    Or wait, better yet, I’m against progress. Because the only way the world can progress is with nuclear power. Any other option means we go back to the stone age.

    Yes, some people in this thread are really thinking tonight.

  99. several hundred thousand people dying each year

    I still would like to know where you got this number from.

    It was taken by a /sarc “Reputable Source” /sarc much like GreenPeace makes it’s declarations. Essentially it took the values of a study located here:

    http://www.mei.gov.on.ca/en/pdf/electricity/Cost%20Benefit%20Analysis%20DSS%20Report%20-%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

    That had figures for deaths based on Fossil Fuels for the Ontario, which found an approximate number of deaths as result of Fossil Fuel usage as a ratio for the amount of power consumption then extrapolated a best guess on a larger scale.

    Obviously I am not going to argue the facts are conclusive, it would be pointless, but when the WHO says that there were only ~ 5000 confirmed cases of death and illness due to Chernobyl on the last 25 years, and this article:

    http://www.capecodtoday.com/blogs/index.php/2011/03/02/4-000-deaths-in-2010-in-the-northeast-fr?blog=53

    Shows already 4000 deaths in one year in one section of one contry using, obviously while not having exact numbers I still cannot see the comparison to the mortality of Nuclear Power generation and Fossil Fules.

    If I wanted to be totally inaccurate I could just make a linear addition back 25 years since Chernobyl and would reach 100,000 just in that one site alon – and that’s one country. This is getting into murky waters as it related to fact or fiction however there are at least enough studies out there that show a ridiculous number of deaths attibuted to Fossil Fuel power plants and their associated pollutants that there is a reasonable chance my “Serval hundred thousand” was looking on the bright side…

    Oh and the link the “reputable source” http://www.green-blog.org/2008/06/14/pollutants-from-coal-based-electricity-generation-kill-170000-people-annually/

    ;)

  100. Is there an underexaggerating? A justrightexaggerating? That word, along with saying I am miffed, gave me the impression you didn’t know what you were talking about.

    Sorry I type fast and have a tendancy to not proof read >.< I noticed in some of my epic posts above I have made a number small errors.

  101. It could be there’s a leak. Shorter answer.

    True. I believe however that I am physically incapable of giving an explanation on anything without it taking 3 paragraphs however. I think it is left over from my old job where there were issues with people taking things out of context so now I like to pile and pile context around it instead.

    I think I was also getting irritated with the fact that so many other issues are also happening over there – not to mention the death toll already – and this seems to be the only story the mainstream media is running with. Yahoo’s front page earlier today had a bright red picture of one of the explosions at the plant that I am prety sure they intended to be reminiscient of an atomic bomb which I think is going just a little too far.

  102. This post makes very clear your reasons for finding it impossible to believe in the science of global warming. Is there a financial reason for your love of fossil fuels, or is it totally irrational?

  103. _Jim says:
    March 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    “Dave, God love ya, but you just blew any credibility you had with me going forward … you have NO idea of the energy requirements to air condition a house in Tejas in the summer …”

    Really? I’ve lived in Austin for almost 20 years. Last summer I built a small house from the ground up doing everything myself including the electrical wiring, plumbing, air conditioning, and heating. I use “My Use Energy Analyzer” on the Pedernales Electric website to monitor my electrical usage on a daily basis to assess how well things are performing.

    I think you’re confusing residential solar technology with what’s possible using centralized biotech. I agree that grid independence via solar isn’t a viable option. Storage is the main problem. The amount of energy storage to run your air conditioning through several days of cloudy weather is prohibitive. It becomes feasible, barely, with a grid tie and net metering so you don’t store power but either use it immediately or sell it back onto the grid and when you aren’t producing enough to meet your needs you buy it from the grid.

    However, when I say synthetic biology I’m talking about things like the pilot plant like they’re building in Leander about 20 miles from me. It uses municipal waste water rich in nutrients to grow a genetically modified (patented) cyanobacteria on land that isn’t otherwise suitable for agriculture. The cyanobacteria have been modified to produce diesel oil with very little in the way of refinement. They’re basically oily little suckers and all you need to do is crush them like so many tiny grapes and separate the diesel oil from the water. By substituting different genes into them they can produce just about any hydrocarbon desired including ethanol and methane. The pilot plant is expected to produce 20,000 gallons of diesel per year per acre at a price equivalent to $30/bbl crude oil.

    These fuels can directly replace all the liquid fuels used in transportation and methane is a direct replacement for natural gas to fuel combined cycle natural gas electrical power plants. Basically no existing infrastructure changes at all. The only thing that changes is the fuels are coming out of fuel farms instead of from holes in the ground. It’s perfect, it’s real, its beginning to happen right now, and synthetic biology is just beginning – it’s about at the point where the computer and electronic technology was at right when the transister was invented and began replacing vacuum tubes. It will progress at a similar pace – Moore’s Law appears to apply to biotechnology just as well as it applied to semiconductors. Synthetic biology is the future and it’s ultimate potential to improve living standards is as big as the discovery of fire, metallurgy, agriculture, electricity, division of labor, and mass production. Maybe bigger. Cheap clean renewable fuel is just the first little step. Cheap clean renewable almost everything imaginable is what we get when the technology is mature.

  104. Roger Carr says:
    March 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    re; particles lodged in lungs causing cancer many years later

    “At that point our paths diverged and I left you to go on gathering nuts in May whilst I headed back to the main drag and some reality.”

    Can’t handle the truth? I suppose you don’t believe that inhaling asbestos causes cancer many years later either? How about tobacco smoking – is that not a health risk in your book either?

  105. The real message of the Japanese earthquake is that when you run into power shortages the whole economy suffers.

    I was also surprised how safe nuclear was – compare the recent Gulf of Mexico oil disaster with that of Japan. Lives lost zero vs ??, affect on accident on others: a few thousands moving home for a short while compared to a whole coastal economy shutting down for months on end. Effects on wildlife … it’s like comparing apples and supernovae.

  106. It says here that the earthquake has caused the earth’s spin to increase a mini bit, but also that it has altered the earth’s axis by several inches. Does anyone know more about this?

    http://news.discover.com/earth/japan-earthquake-time-sped-up-110314.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1

    Who keeps track of such things? Is there data for these effects from previous large quakes? I’ve also come across the idea that the weight of water now being held in massive damns in the US has a similar effect of changing the earth’s axis.

  107. I think this new incident with Fukushima Daiichi will set back the nuclear industry for decades. I’m old enough to remember the problems caused by the Windscale nuclear disaster in 1957, and the way our government tried to put a smokescreen over the enormous impact of the affair and how many people had been seriously effected.

    A brief summary of what happened can be found on the link below. The final paragraph has many parallels to the current disaster…

    “In the aftermath of the accident, the true scale of the event was concealed from the public, and the majority of the blame was apportioned to the plant operators. For 50 years, the official record on the accident has been that the very men who had averted a potentially devastating accident were to blame for causing it. ”

    http://sonicbomb.com/modules.php?file=article&mode=thread&name=News&order=0&sid=76&thold=0

    Here’s a link to a good resolution satellite picture showing the recent state of four of the huge Fukushima Daiichi reactors – things not looking good :-(

  108. Dave Springer says: (March 16, 2011 at 12:43 am)
    Cheap clean renewable almost everything imaginable is what we get when the technology (synthetic biology) is mature.

    Sounds good, Dave… and exciting!

  109. Dave Springer says: (March 16, 2011 at 1:36 am) to me: “Can’t handle the truth?”
          You’re stretching there, Dave. In the context in which the remark was made it was way over the top. Things get out of hand, the plundering of a single asbestos company to make big bucks for the promoters with the victims the also-rans is a nice case in point. There has to be a balance (and my heavy smoking for 50 years and continuing does not convince me smoking will not harm others).
          This is the point where even the forever changing of climate on Earth has been wrangled into something unique to our time, and therefore worth paying a price in cash and loss of freedoms to have some bandits fix for us.

  110. For those interested in a status update from TEPCO they recently posted an updated series of events as to what has happened so far and the response:

    *Reactor cooling function was restored and cooling of rectors was
    conducted. As a result, all reactors achieved cold shutdown: Unit 1
    at 5:00 pm, March 14th, Unit 2 at 6:00 pm, March 14th, Unit 3 at
    0:15 pm, March 12th, Unit 4 at 7:15 am, March 15th.

    * (Unit 1)
    As it is confirmed that the temperature of the Emergency Equipment
    Cooling Water System *1 has increased, at 3:20 pm, March 15th, we
    stopped the Residual Heat Removal System (B) for the inspection.
    Subsequently, failure was detected in the power supply facility
    associated with the pumps of the Emergency Equipment Cooling Water
    System. At 4:25 pm, March 15th, after replacing the power facility,
    the pumps and the Residual Heat Removal System (B) have been
    reactivated.

    * (Unit 4)
    As it is confirmed that the pressure at the outlet of the pumps of
    the Emergency Equipment Cooling Water System*1 has been decreased,
    at 8:05 pm, March 15th, we stopped the Residual Heat Removal System
    (B) for the inspection. Subsequently, failure was detected in the
    power supply facility associated with the pumps of the Emergency
    Equipment Cooling Water System. At 9:25 pm, March 15th, after
    replacing the relevant facility, the pumps and the Residual Heat
    Removal System (B) have been reactivated.

    *1:emergency water system in which cooling water (pure water) circulates
    which exchanged the heat with sea water in order to cool down bearing
    pumps and/or heat exchangers etc.

    Latest source readings of radiation were:

    50 minutes at 3:00 pm : Portal 1591.0 μSv/h 0.01 μSv/h under : Wind Direction – West : Wind Speed – 2.6 m/h

    http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http://www.tepco.co.jp/cc/press/betu11_j/images/110316e.pdf&rurl=translate.google.com&usg=ALkJrhguM296MMwiOdTJmcqR9bdYvUgfCA

    Thankfull radiation levels have approached half of what they were in the last post and there has been no radiation spike for almost 12 hours.

    No further incidents since the spike in radiation that temporarily forced the skeleton crew to retreat earlier. Hopefully this is a good sign…

  111. The prospects for massive radioactivity releases from this disaster are close to 100% imo.
    The problem is the spent fuel pool in reactor 4, which appears to be drying as its cooling water boils away. The hydrogen fires in this shut down reactor building must mean the water in the cooling pool has started to decompose from reacting with exposed spent fuel rods, producing that hydrogen.
    That spent fuel pool contains several reactor cores worth of old fuel rods, heavily contaminated with volatile fission products such as cesium. These volatiles will be vaporized as the rods overheat and will leak out through the numerous holes in the walls and roof. There is several times the Chernobyl amount of cesium in that pool and it will be boiled off fairly rapidly.
    The ray of light is that the wind is offshore and expected to stay that way for a few days, so hopefully the worst of the contamination will drift out to sea, rather than contaminating large areas of the countryside.

  112. “Who keeps track of such things? Is there data for these effects from previous large quakes? I’ve also come across the idea that the weight of water now being held in massive damns in the US has a similar effect of changing the earth’s axis.”

    Your link was wrong. The correct link is:

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/japan-earthquake-time-sped-up-110314.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1

    As for “who keeps track of this”, it’s not radically difficult Newtonian physics, just large numbers. Take your example of a dam’s retention of water altering the Earth’s spin. A large amount of water gathered at a higher point than previously, as is the case with a dam, is similar to a figure skater twirling at a certain speed, and then holding a small weight in her hand and twirling with the same effort. Her mass has increased by that small weight, and, by being at her hand instead of at her center of effort (somewhere in her hips, I would imagine), she spins fractionally faster.

    The same principle is seen in steam engine governors, those little rotating balls on hinged arms. The faster the engine turns, the more they try to fly out. If they fly out far enough, a valve releases pressure and the engine slows. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_%28device%29).

    Similarly, if a chunk of the earth’s crust is thrust away from the core 30 metres due to an earthquake, you’ve got that much more mass held “away” from the center of effort, and this changes all the recorded numbers.

    Personally, I have yet to see if this slight change in rotational speed will be compensated for by the GPS constellation, which is predicated on the Earth rotating at a known speed. I have heard that parts of Japan have physically moved up to four metres from where they were on March 10th, so I can only assume that was figured out by static GPS beacons in the ground.

  113. Did anyone hear the total b******t from the leader of the Greens on the Biased Broadcasting Corporation this morning?
    She seems to think that “renewables” will provide all the power we need and that nuclear power is very very dangerous! Her wild assertions were not challenged by either of the presenters who would not let the scientist even finish a sentence as he was continually interrupted by Ms watermelon i cant remember her name; i was too busy throwing up!

  114. The results of the earthquake and tsunami are simply heart wrenching. Lest anyone think I’m anti-nuclear, I am not. I am in favor of using best practices, which I don’t believe we’ve done in the past.

    I love the idea of getting everything from the sun, but it’s not going to happen as long as all the schemes are subsidized. Not now, not ever. When people/entrepreneurs can start businesses, on their own funds (with real investors) and no government funds, then there is a chance that we’ll get what people are talking about, but not before.

  115. Shows you what 24/7 lamestream media hype can do, stop people from thinking.

    Take Japan’s quake … Deaths by nuclear exposure — None reported. Deaths by earthquake and tsunami … now over 3,000 and expected to be over 10000.

    Haiti earthquake deaths estimated over 220,000. Indonesia deaths were reported(?) to be over 500,000.

    Folks we need earthquake control quick. As far as glacial melt, updates are your friend, not science fiction movies set on scissor jacks.

  116. Folks in Miami need to stop riding bikes due to bike riders in Lake Tahoe skidded to the ground when hitting black ice and snow. This is the logic of anti-nuclear morons who point to our plants far from any coast. Also, no more fire, too dangerous, do you know how many deaths occur due to fire every year? How many die each year from the local nuclear power plant?

  117. You won’t be seeing me on your “side of the fence”.

    Maybe not, but I am able to both acknowledge when sources are not the most trusted and will at least post the sources when I make a claim. I see you do not share that trait with much of what you post so maybe try less judging of “my side of the fence” before removing the mud your already standing in hmm?

    I also note that despite me both claiming and backing it up (whether you like the research or not) you have

    1: Disregarded it on principle; (wheres your source)
    2: Disregarded it by putting your fingers in your ears and going “la la la”. (oh that source who cares)

    There are a lot of people at the moment that use the same tactic in their discussions on climate change, is it meant to instill confidence?

    In fact as much as I really do not like going to wikipedia, even they have a whole section on it:

    Many direct deaths happen in coal mining and processing. In 2007, 1,084 out of the 3,770 workers who died were from gas blasts. Small mines (comprising 90% of all mines) are known to have far higher death rates, and the government of China has banned new coal mines with a high gas danger and a capacity below 300,000 tons in an effort to reduce deaths a further 20% by 2010.

    Thats more than 2/3 of the supposed death attributable to Nuclear in one year alone followed by a lovely gridded box at the bottom which contains death totals for China per year due to accidents at mines and plants for fossil fuels:

    2000 2,863
    2001 3,082
    2002 4,344
    2003 4,143
    2004 3,639
    2005 3,341
    2006 2,945

    In 6 years, in one country, just for getting the fossil fuels, that a total of 24, 357 deaths. And we have not gotten to air pollution or follow on effects from the use of fossil fuels in any other aspect. Indeed I haven’t even left China

    I understand that we do not have a huge choice at the moment in having to use Fossil Fuels. There is also some aspects of Fossil Fuels which I also think are exaggerated or under-publicized in much the same way Nuclear tends to. My whole point on the matter is that it is at best naive and at worst ignorant to use the argument of “how dangerous it is” point to how many people have died that refuse to acknowledge the human cost of bringing our current power into our houses.

    I saw someone in another thread getting pissed because he perceived someone to be “belittling” the cost of human life in the Japan earthquake, isn’t that the very same thing you are trying to do now?

    At the end of the day all I am trying to point out is that if we judge Nuclear to be too unsafe and we use the judgment of loss of life to do so, then how about we judge them both fairly and rationally. I mean, I thought the overriding principle is to save lives?

    (Incidentally I used the green link because it was the only source I could find that actually made an attempt to catalog the total deaths based on the myriad of individual sources – something I note is not the case when searching for how many people have died to Nuclear Power plants)

  118. Michael R, March 16, 2011 at 3:36 am :

    For those interested in a status update from TEPCO they recently posted an updated series of events as …

    Attention readers: Michael R is either thick or just plain intentionally misleading by repeatedly posting the conditions at Fukashima II (Daini) and NOT Fukashima I (Daiichi). Maybe he just doesn’t understand their are two facilities named somewhat closely.

    I gave him an opportunity to gracefully correct his error/misinfo further upthread, so a thorough trashing had been warranted.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/15/newsbytes-gas-burning-bright-as-nuclear-renaissance-melts-down/#comment-621541

    mods take note.

    .

  119. Michael R

    You should already know to not trust Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Since you would have ever quoted from them in the first place says something about you. This is my last comment in our exchange.

  120. Amino Acids in Meteorites, March 16, 2011 at 5:50 am :

    If you believe Michio Kaku ..

    You, well, I think Michael R, has wires crossed –

    It would help if you could keep the players, sites straight.

    See post above ref Fukashima I and II

  121. The Japanese are no more going to switch to gas-fired power generation than they are going to switch to coal-fired generation, and for the same reason: they’d have to import all of the fuel.

  122. ****
    Legatus says:
    March 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    But, you say, what about the explosions? The explosions are purely caused by the publics irrational, not to say just plain stupid, fear of even small and completly harmless amounts of radiation. The plants, due to this irrational fear, shut the steam inside the plant, to try and avoid bad publicity (result, even more bad publicity). Due to the way things work in reactors, this resultes in some of the water being converted into oxygen and hydrogen, result, explosion. They could have released it right into the air with no danger, since the half lives of the radioactive parts are so short (seconds for N16, the major source) that it cannot hurt anyone even if it started out radioactive enough to do so (which it didn’t, although it lasts such a short time I don’t think one could even detect if it did). Thus, this irrational fear, and the current desire of plant officials to coddle this irrational fear, are what caused the explosions.
    ****

    That’s what I’ve noticed. If the units had simply been able to vent the outer-building “shell”, the hydrogen would have simply dispersed upward instead of accumulating in the top of the shell (just waiting for an ignition source). Much less chance of a big explosion, then.

    A very simple design problem to correct. The rest of the plant design has worked as intended.

  123. “A very simple design problem to correct. The rest of the plant design has worked as intended.”

    I’m pretty sure whatever bright engineer decided to put the diesel back up gensets on the ground floor instead of above the water level of a worst-case tsunami didn’t intend for the system to melt, or be well on its way to melting.

    Ditto for the insufficient battery backups.

    I find it interesting that the buildings (aside from being flooded at ground level) of Daiichi did pretty well…until they blew up.

    There have been other designs that essentially are self-extinguishing without pumps or backup, but this isn’t one of those.

  124. ****
    Alchemy says:
    March 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

    I’m pretty sure whatever bright engineer decided to put the diesel back up gensets on the ground floor instead of above the water level of a worst-case tsunami didn’t intend for the system to melt, or be well on its way to melting.
    ****

    I agree — there are other obvious problems. The diesel backups & their fuel supplies should’ve been put well above any possible flood level. Still, relatively simple to correct.

    Overall, the plants should not have been built at sea level in a high-risk earthquake zone — they should’ve been elevated above any possible tsunami. Still, they survived a 9.0 earthquake mostly intact.

  125. Attention readers: Michael R is either thick or just plain intentionally misleading by repeatedly posting the conditions at Fukashima II (Daini) and NOT Fukashima I (Daiichi). Maybe he just doesn’t understand their are two facilities named somewhat closely.

    No I was not trying to mislead and incidentally from Amino’s noise and other arguments had not even seen your posts.

    I said from the beginning that there was a lot of confusion over the status of the Plant (Daiichi). Way back over a day or so I had not initially noticed that there were two (there is not a lot of press over Daini).

    After realising there were two, I endeavored to ensure posting links for the correct one and I had been intending on ignoring Daini because it was not an issue – and indeed was checking titles to try to ensure that it was the correct plant however from what I can see on the last update it appears that the copy pasted sections are from Daini’s update.

    The problem is I work upwards with facts (build upon them). I had initially made a mistake that I didn’t catch and as a result everything else was based upon that.

    On the strange side, I couldn’t even double check that release to make sure because the press release that I quoted has vanished. In addition, because the latest releases are in Japanese, I have been translating on order to get most recent info and unfortunately in those the name of the plant is not translated (it appears as :Current status of 福島第二原子力発電所) which didn’t help me.

    Consequently, assured that I had verified the correct plant all posts stemmed from that one.

    The descriptive updates appear to combine multiple plants in one, I must have missed the change in title part way down, apologies. What I was saying originally would be true (I was trying to convey better information) it’s just the basis for it appears to be wrong.

    I most certainly have no intention of misleading anyone, was just trying to convey most recent information.

    The latest update – (and just to be sure we are talking about Daiichi) this starts it off:

    [Nuclear Power Station]
    Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station:

    * Unit 1
    The explosive sound and white smoke was confirmed near Unit 1 when the
    big quake occurred at 3:36pm, March 12th. We have started injection of
    sea water at 8:20 pm and then boric acid into the reactor afterwards.

    * Unit 2
    At 1:25 pm, March 14th, since the Reactor Core Isolation Cooling System
    has failed, it was determined that a specific incident stipulated in
    article 15, clause 1 occurred (failure of reactor cooling function).
    At 5:17 pm, while the water level in the reactor reached the top of
    the fuel rod, we have restarted the water injection with the valve
    operation.
    At approximately 6:14 am, March 15th, the abnormal sound was confirmed
    near the suppression chamber and the pressure inside the chamber
    decreased afterwards. It was determined that there is a possibility that
    something happened in the suppression chamber. While sea water injection
    to the reactor continued, TEPCO employees and workers from other
    companies not in charge of injection work started tentative evacuation to
    a safe location.
    Sea water injection to the reactor is still under operation.

    * Unit 3
    At 6:50 am, March 14th, while water injection to the reactor was under
    operation, the pressure in the reactor containment vessel increased to
    530 kPa. As a result, at 7:44 am, it was determined that a specific
    incident stipulated in article 15, clause 1 occurred (abnormal increase
    of the pressure of reactor containment vessel). Afterwards, the pressure
    has gradually decreased (as of 9:05 am, 490 kPa).

    At approximately 11:01 am, March 14th, an explosion followed by white
    smoke occurred near Unit 3. 4 TEPCO employees and 3 workers from other
    companies (all of them are conscious) have sustained injuries and they
    were already dispatched to the hospital by ambulances.

    As the temperature of water in the spent fuel pool rose, spraying water
    by helicopters with the support of the Self Defense Force was considered,
    however the works today have been cancelled.

    * Unit 4
    At approximately 6:00 am, March 15th, an explosive sound occurred and
    the damage in the 5th floor roof of Unit 4 reactor building was
    confirmed. At 9:38 am, the fire near the north-west part of 4th floor of
    Unit 4 reactor building was confirmed. At approximately 11:00 am, TEPCO
    employee confirmed that the fire was off.

    At approximately 5:45 am, a TEPCO employee discovered a fire at
    the northwest corner of the Nuclear Reactor Building. TEPCO immediately
    reported this incident to the fire department and the local government
    and proceeded with the extinction of fire. At approximately 6:15 am,
    TEPCO staff confirmed at the site that there are no signs of fire.

    * We will continuously endeavor to securing safety, and monitoring of
    the surrounding environment.

    The current radiation levels, as far as I can determine (they are once again in Japanese) are being posted for the correct site.

  126. Hu McCulloch,

    Thorium reactors are unproven, they require considerably more reprocessing and they produce U233 which is as good as PU239 for nuclear weapons.

    Major downsides.

  127. Some more reportsd on the completly irrisponsible, in some cases bald faced lying, on the “nuclear disaster” in japan:

    http://genkienglish.net/teaching/japan-earthquake-and-the-irresponsible-foreign-media?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GenkiEnglish+%28

    ” Forget any pretence of informative news, this was purely emotionally driven exaggeration on the part of the BBC. ” and “Then today we have the nuclear reports with the press completely misreporting the science. Google News at one point yesterday had a picture of an atmospheric atomic bomb detonation, the daily mail today had a full colour picture of the the Hiroshima nuclear attack. That is just not on. Yes radiation can be dangerous but a light water reactor is not a nuclear bomb. This is just irresponsible reporting.”

    But wait, there’s more!:
    http://m.cnbc.com/us_news/42105046/1?refresh=true “Foreign bankers flee Tokyo as nuclear crisis deepens” Morons! No wonder we have a banking crisis!

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/15/japan.nuclear.reactors/?hpt=T1

    “That dose quickly diminished with distance from the plant, and radiation fell back to levels where it posed no immediate public health threat, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.” and “Radiation levels in Tokyo, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of the plant, were twice the usual level on Tuesday. But the concentration — 0.809 microsieverts per hour — posed no health threat, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.”

    These “reporter” types should go back to reporting real crisises, like oh, say, this http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110316/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_squirrel_attack “Squirrel attacking residents of Vt. neighborhood” I think thats about their speed…

  128. Alchemy
    March 16, 2011 4.05am

    Thanks for the URL fix. I just wondered if there was any tracking of such land movements affecting Earth’s spin, or if anyone had collated/calculated past changes. Considering the many large earthquakes just in the last century it could be quite a dance if the Earth’s movement was affected even some of the time.

    Perhaps weatherpeople would have interest in this if these events alter the wind patterns?

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110316-japan-earthquake-shortened-days-earth-axis-spin-nasa-science/

    Seems they’re only just beginning to get to grips with such shifts, since GPS. Perhaps someone will do a model over the past centuries.

  129. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    “Do you know the length of the average day in the Highlands of Scotland during January?”

    Doesn’t really matter. We’re talking about fuels that can be easily stored and transported. You can make enough fuel in the summer to last the rest of the year and if you can’t do that it can still be imported. If you have local fossil fuel sources that are less expensive than farm-grown imports then use those instead. Most regions in the world have adequate sunlight and enough non-arable land. If the remainder choose another route it’s not going to make much difference. What will make a big difference is it will drive down the price of fossil fuels. Imported fossil oil at $100/bbl can’t compete with farm-grown oil at $30/bbl so unless the fossil source can operate at a profit at $30/bbl they’ll have to close up shop.

  130. Roger Carr says:
    March 16, 2011 at 3:19 am

    I read your comment as a general denial that radioactive particulates don’t lodge in the lungs and cause cancer many years later. If non-radioactive asbestos dust can substantially raise risk of lung cancer it seems like radioactive dust would be even worse as energetic particles emitted by radioactive materials damage DNA. That’s as settled as settled gets in science no different than how high or long term exposure to ultraviolet light increases the incidence of skin cancer. The mechanism is the same. UV from the sun has sufficient energy and penetrative power to break chemical bonds in DNA which eventually breaks a replication inhibition mechanism in a damaged cell and a malignant tumor starts growing from it.

  131. Dave Springer says: March 17, 2011 at 4:15 am If non-radioactive asbestos dust can substantially raise risk of lung cancer….. The mechanism is the same.

    I don’t believe it is the ‘same’? Asbestos is very chemically stable/inert substance. The type of lung cancer associated with it seems to be limited to a range fiber lengths that are physically short enough, (generally unnaturally so), that your body treats them /reacts to them differently in some way.

    Example from NIH:

    Length-dependent differences in toxicity were, however, striking. EC50 values (concentration in fibers/cm2 that reduced cell proliferation to 50% of unexposed control cultures) plotted against fiber length produced a hyperbolic curve, demonstrating that toxicity increases with fiber length up to 20 microns. All fibers tested fell on this hyperbola. These data suggest that: (a) the primary toxic effect of fibers on CHO cells is the induction of nuclear morphologic alterations resulting in cytostasis; (b) fiber diameter has little or no impact on in vitro toxicity when concentration is calculated as fibers/cm2; (c) fiber length is directly proportional to in vitro toxicity; and (d) toxicity of asbestos and vitreous fibers to CHO cells is not affected by composition.

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