Good news from Japan: Situation ‘fairly stable’, says IAEA

IAEA= International Atomic Energy Agency – update here

Story below from the Register:

The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, badly damaged during the extremely severe earthquake and tsunami there a week ago, continues to stabilise. It is becoming more probable by the day that public health consequences will be zero and radiation health effects among workers at the site will be so minor as to be hard to measure. Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.

Seawater cooling of the three damaged reactor cores (Nos 1, 2 and 3) at the site continues. US officials and other foreign commentators continued to remain focused on a spent-fuel storage pool at the No 4 reactor (whose fuel had been removed and placed in the pool some three months prior to the quake).

Despite this, operations by Japanese powerplant technicians, military personnel and emergency services at the site focused instead on cooling the spent-fuel pool at the No 3 building, and on restoring grid electrical power at the plant. Japanese officials continued to contend that water remained in the No 4 pool and the situation there was less serious than that at No 3. Police riot vehicles mounting powerful water cannon and fire trucks were used to douse the spent-fuel pool at No 3 with water, causing steam to emerge – confirming that some cooling at least was being achieved. One of the fire trucks was reportedly lent by US military units based locally, though operated by Japanese troops.

World Nuclear News reports that radiation levels have generally decreased across the plant, though they remain hazardous in the immediate area of reactors 2 and 3; levels also climb temporarily when technicians open valves to vent steam from the damaged cores in order to allow fresh seawater coolant to be pumped in, prompting teams to retreat before venting is carried out. Nonetheless 180 personnel are now working within the site where and when radiation levels permit them to do so safely.

An external power line has now been laid out to the plant and latest reports indicate that this will be connected to its systems by tomorrow: final hookup has been delayed by steam-venting operations from the cores. Powerplant technicians hope that this will restore cooling service to reactor cores and spent-fuel pools across the plant, in particular to the pools at reactors 3 and 4. If normal water levels can be restored to the pools high levels of radiation above and immediately around the buildings will be cut off by the liquid’s shielding effect. The buildings’ roofs would normally help with this, but both have been blown off in previous hydrogen explosions.

Meanwhile, plant operator TEPCO said that on-site diesel generation serving units 5 and 6 – which are safely shut down, but which also have spent fuel in their storage pools – has been restored. The plant’s diesels were mostly crippled by the tsunami which followed the quake: the wave was higher than the facility’s protective barriers had been designed for. The prospect of any trouble at these reactors now seems remote.

The IAEA seems to accept that things are settling down: a senior official at the agency tells Reuters that the situation is now “reasonably stable”.

Radiation readings at the site boundary remained low through Friday morning in Japan, dropping to 0.26 millisievert/hour. Personnel at the site are normally permitted to sustain 20 millisievert in a year: this has been raised to 250 millisievert owing to the emergency.

Normal dosage from background radiation is 2-3 millisievert annually: a chest CT scan delivers 7 millisievert. The highest radiation level detected anywhere beyond the site was a single brief reading of 0.17 millisievert at the boundary of the evacuation zone, but on average (Japanese government PDF/72KB) readings at the zone boundary are hardly above background.

Read the complete and detailed report here

h/t to Bernd Felsche via Facebook

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124 Responses to Good news from Japan: Situation ‘fairly stable’, says IAEA

  1. John F. Hultquist says:

    Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.”

    And with good reason. Examples are being collected:

    http://jpquake.wikispaces.com/Journalist+Wall+of+Shame

  2. Bernd Felsche says:

    The h/t passes to MikeW, whose comment on Ira’s guest post Nuke Tsunami Makes Clean Coal Look Better drew my early attention to ElReg this morning.

  3. John Whitman says:

    The info in the article is consistent with info that I am periodically getting.

    Stable is a correct assessment.

    John

  4. Doug in Seattle says:

    Doesn’t sound like CNN or FOX News at all. Imagine that!

  5. Phillip Bratby says:

    It was obvious to expert nuclear engineers from the start that the events at Fukushima Daiichi would not and could not lead to a Chernobyl-type accident. It was obvious that the doses to the public would be negligible and harmless. Yet again the media and alarmist greenies have to ask themselves questions. Why do they try and scare the public unnecessarily? Alarmism can cause panic and deaths.

  6. Bob Diaz says:

    RE: Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.

    I don’t think that today’s news media could tell a fair and balanced story if it kicked them in the face. Everything is always made out to be far worse than it really is. Remember Y2K, Killer Bees, … ?

    News Media Creditability = ZERO!!!!

  7. crosspatch says:

    They are going to apply one of these:

    http://www.everything-about-concrete.com/images/putzm.JPG

    It is one of those concrete pumps with an articulated boom. They can position it pretty accurately. They can probably even mount a camera on the end of the boom if they wanted to in order to get a better idea of where they are putting the water and what impact it is having. I would recommend one of those “self cleaning” cameras they mount on NASCAR vehicles during a race, though.

  8. crosspatch says:

    “And with good reason. Examples are being collected”

    I am glad they are including the name of the “journalist” and not just the outlet. I too often hear people who say things like “AP says …” or “Reuters says …” without mentioning the name of the journalist who actually wrote it. This is one of the reasons articles have bylines — so the writer has to take responsibility for the content.

  9. George Turner says:

    John Hultquist, I can’t believe Fox and CNN only scored 5 and 4. I thought they were bad enough.

    Anyway, we haven’t seen the last of this by a long shot. The Japanese were pumping raw seawater directly into the cores, along with lots of tiny little marine organisms, including larvae. Certainly 99.999% of those were killed immediately by the heat and radiation, but a tiny fraction surely survived the intense cellular assault have no doubt grown stronger, their DNA split apart and recombined into fantastically improbable configurations, and their mitochondria adapting to use the atomic energy in radioactive isotopes instead of ordinary chemical compounds. Those larvae where then flushed out to sea, where they will grow – and grow.

  10. crosspatch says:

    Sadly, Drudge Report has been probably the absolute worst I have seen with regard to the reporting. While Matt Drudge is only a news aggregator, he seems to have selected all of the most sensational, outlandish, hysterical articles in a quest for even more page views.

  11. jcrabb says:

    If things are stable then why has Japan’s nuclear safety agency increased levels of nuclear danger from level 4 to level 5?

  12. Roger Sowell says:

    Stable is as stable does. Don’t believe a word of what they say.

    Believe only what the videos are showing.

    Examples:
    Explosions — I believe we’ve got a problem.

    Fires — that’s a problem.

    Workers scrambling like hell to get out of there — that’s a problem. Same with evacuating 800 workers.

    Helicopters aborting water dropping missions – that’s a problem.

    Confucius had an apt saying for this situation: “I used to listen to what [a man] said, and trusted him to keep his word. Now, I still listen to what he says, but I watch very carefully what he does.”

    Nuclear industry people cannot be trusted – they know that they have one narrow escape after another and have gotten by solely by sheer luck and a tight code of never talking about the hazards and near-misses.

    There’s no guarantee that those grid-powered pumps will even run with the new power from the new lines, after tsunami flooding, after multiple aftershocks, and after multiple and close-by explosions and debris raining on them.

    It ain’t over, folks.

  13. It looks like it was the water cannons and not really the helicopters that, both, brought this level of stability and saved the workers from having to go in close to the areas being targeted. Despite reports (by some) that radiation was never high enough to harm humans the need to use helicopters and water cannons shows that it was.

    There was also this report, that the Japanese government did say radiation became high enough to kill humans:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367684/Nuclear-plant-chief-weeps-Japanese-finally-admit-radiation-leak-kill-people.html

    It is true that every story from the media had been hyped. But it is still true that radiation became dangerously high at times. That report was not from the media or blog commenters. It was from the Japanese government. But again, the distance that was kept by workers during the time radiation became that high may have saved them in the long run.

  14. Tenuc says:

    Here’s the up-to-date status of the two troubled TEPCO plants…

    “Fukushima Daiichi plant
    Reactor No. 1 (Operation suspended after quake)
    Partial melting of core, cooling failure, vapour vented, building housing containment of reactor damaged by hydrogen explosion, roof blown off, seawater being pumped in.

    Reactor No. 2 (Operation suspended after quake)
    Damage to reactor containment structure feared, cooling failure, seawater being pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapour vented, building housing containment of reactor damaged by blast at adjacent reactor No. 3, blast sound heard near suppression chamber of containment vessel.

    Reactor No. 3 (Operation suspended after quake)
    Partial melting of core feared, cooling failure, vapour vented, seawater being pumped in, building housing containment of reactor badly damaged by hydrogen explosion, seawater dumped over spent-fuel storage pool by helicopter Thursday, water sprayed at it from ground three days in a row through Saturday.

    Reactor No. 4 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
    Renewed nuclear chain reaction feared at spent-fuel storage pool, fire at building housing containment of reactor Tuesday and Wednesday, only frame remains of reactor building roof, temperature in the pool reached 84 C on Monday.

    Reactor No. 5 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
    Cooling resumed Saturday in spent-fuel storage pools.

    Reactor No. 6 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
    Emergency power generator restored Saturday, some fuel rods left in reactor cores.

    Fukushima Daini plant
    Reactors No. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Operation suspended after quake)
    Cold shut-down, not on emergency status any-more.”
    (Courtesy allvoices.com)

    The nuclear safety authority are optimistic that power will be restored in reactor buildings 1-4 by Sunday. Status of reactor cooling pumps and associated equipment is not known.

    Large satellite image of plant…
    http://img198.imageshack.us/img198/6145/japanearthquaketsufukus.jpg

  15. Roger Sowell says:

    Not to mention evacuating everyone for 20 km radius.

    Not to mention dooming another large group of people beyond the 20 km radius to “shelter in place” inside hermetically sealed buildings, for day after day after day.

    Or the US decision to have all US nationals withdraw to at least a 50 mile distance from the glowing nuclear cores and their overheating spent toxic fuel pools that sprung a rather large leak. The leaks that, oh by the way, came as a complete surprise.

    Or the US decision to evacuate any US personnel from the country.

    Or the Seventh Fleet moving out to sea to a safe distance.

    When everyone is allowed to go home, and school children are given tours of the oh-so-safe nuclear power plants at Fukushima Dai-ichi, then the situation will be stable. Until then, don’t trust a word the nuclear advocates have to say. Their credibility has long ago been completely shot.

  16. Bill Hunter says:

    “international hysteria” . . . . Now that is scary!

  17. crosspatch says:

    Re: evacuations.

    That is the law in Japan whenever a “level 4″ event is triggered. It isn’t to be taken to mean “there is a problem that will contaminate the local area”, it means “this could possibly develop into a problem that could contaminate the local area”. If you wait until something actually bad happens, you aren’t going to get the people out in time, especially when there is no train service, the roads are blocked, little electrical power, people might not be able to listen to radio, etc. So you evacuate ahead of time.

    Radiation levels inside the evacuated area are currently only a little elevated from background. Even 20x background is a tiny amount. 20x “almost nothing” is still “almost nothing”.

    I read an article today that the health impacts of the irrational radiation hysteria is actually worse than the actual health impact of the radiation. Yes, radiation can be dangerous but so can the electricity, natural gas, and gasoline that you come into daily contact with. About 100 people a day die in automobile accidents in the US, too. Nobody died today from radiation in the US and believe me, if ONE person had, it would be in every paper on the planet. The hysteria sells papers and generates ad views on web sites. That is the point of it.

    Once upon a time, over 30 Chinese workers were killed when they were digging a railroad tunnel in the Santa Cruz mountains. They sparked methane gas from naturally occurring gas in the tunnel. But we didn’t give up building railroads, or tunnels. This incident has killed exactly 0 from radiation and made exactly 0 people sick from it. Yet we have a great hue and cry. It is irrational.

  18. crosspatch says:

    “Or the US decision to evacuate any US personnel from the country. ”

    That is actually a pretty stupid decision because you are going to expose them to more radiation on the flight out than they would if they stayed. You get more radiation on a high altitude airline flight than you would get sitting in a park in Tokyo. If you have to endure a TSA scan along your way, you end up with much more radiation than you would get sitting in a home inside the evacuated area.

    And about the fleet. There is no sense sitting directly downwind of the plant when you can just move a few miles and get out of the way. Radiation exposure is cumulative. Why expose your people now when they might be needed later if something bad happens? Better to keep their exposure down in case they need to be exposed later.

  19. Roger Sowell says:

    @crosspatch, interesting. And the school children’s tours? Are the reactors safe enough for the children?

    Did those explosions occur by divine intervention? Spontaneous combustion of air and … and… well, nothing?

    Why didn’t the helicopters fly directly down onto the spent fuel pool, and gently and slowly pour the water into the pool? No cause for alarm surely!

    This is a disaster of epic proportions. All nuclear people should realize that the party is over. The nuclear experiment is over. Now the world must find a way to safely clean up the toxic, deadly, radioactive mess that the industry has created. And somehow do it in a way that does not kill people or shorten their lifespans or give them horrible cancers.

    Even if natural hazards are properly identified (unlikely), and those hazards are quantified properly (unlikely), and nuclear plants are designed properly (unlikely), and built to specification (unlikely), and maintained properly (unlikely), and all personnel are properly trained (unlikely), and all personnel exert adequate vigilance (unlikely), one is left with a toxic mess of spent radioactive fuel that must be dealt with.

  20. Roger Sowell

    It could be they stopped using helicopters because they had to fly so high above the radiation that when they dropped the water the wind would blow it so that they couldn’t be accurate.

    By Wednesday afternoon it looked like the situation was only getting worse. That’s when the US government started getting worried and all the talk about evacuating Americans started. But by late Thursday night and Friday morning things came a little bit under control. The talk by the Japanese government about pouring cement on the most dangerous areas must have started before Friday morning. I wonder if they have put that plan on the back burner now.

    The leak in the cooling pond may be from the collapse of the cement lining that left only the steel. But if the reports can be believed that pool’s radiation level is in better shape now.

    There’s still a big mess there.

  21. Alexej Buergin says:

    “Doug in Seattle says:
    March 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm
    Doesn’t sound like CNN or FOX News at all. Imagine that!”

    I do not know about CNN-TV, but their homepage was one of the least hysterical (honest!) compared to what european media were publishing; and these were almost “cool” compared the the supergreatest Germans, who were completely out of their supergreatest mind about the Supergreatest Accident ever. The supergreatest soccercoach of Schalke 04, which consider themselves the supergreatest club of them all, was fired (and hired by Wolfsburg the next day).

  22. crosspatch says:

    Ok, lets get things in the proper perspective:

    It has now been a week since shutdown of reactors 1, 2 and 3. The decay heat is much less now than it would have been the first few days afterward. They were able to dump the first critical hour’s decay heat normally. That is what saved this from becoming a disaster right off the bat. The heat that is being generated now an be safely eliminated with the current process of flood and vent. Last report I read was that temperatures inside the reactors are dropping. This is probably evidenced by it taking longer to build pressure that needs to be vented. As long as they can continue with the pump and vent process, they can maintain temperatures indefinitely inside those reactors. At this point there aren’t likely to be any more hydrogen explosions in those units.

    The primary problem now is spent fuel rods in the holding pools on the refueling floors of the reactors. Unit 1 would have the least problem as if there are any rods in there, they are at least a couple of years old. Unit 4 would be the worst as it was only recently unloaded (about a month ago). Units 5 and 6 had been about 1/3 unloaded but those units now have power to manage the water level and circulate the water to eliminate heat.

    Also note that there are about 200 total workers on the site right now. 50 are directly involved with the management of the reactor cores in units 1 – 3 and the other 150 or so are working on repairing infrastructure. This number will probably increase if radiation levels continue to subside. Radiation levels are subsiding. It will subside further if one source of that radiation is gamma radiation from exposed fuel rods in the pools and the pools are refilled with water.

    So … the problems with the reactors are stable and manageable. The main problem is the spent fuel. Last information I read said that there is likely cladding damage to the fuel rods but if there is any fuel melt, it would be a very small amount, less than 5%, and not nearly anything as bad as Three Mile Island which had 85% melt and a puddle of core material on the concrete containment basement floor.

  23. Daniel H says:

    We had beautiful spring-like weather here in Tokyo today. I went jogging over by the imperial palace and it was packed with other runners. There were also tourists and retired couples out for a stroll. Then I went and bought some groceries in the busy Shinjuku district where there was plenty of food available despite the hoards of shoppers.

    When I got home I turned the TV to CNN International and learned that most Tokyo streets are deserted due to the fear of radiation. I also learned that food supplies are dangerously low (as I unpacked the several bags of food that I had just bought). Then they announced that fuel supplies were also critically low and they showed a random gas station with a long line of cars waiting to get their gasoline rations. I peeked out the window at the gas station across the street and noticed that there were two cars waiting for their turn at the pump.

    Does CNN International exist in a parallel universe?

  24. Roger Sowell says:
    March 19, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Until then, don’t trust a word the nuclear advocates have to say.

    I do agree with you in that nuclear advocates do have their own product to sell thus making very difficult for them to be unbiased. And I think also those that feel nuclear is a good way to go will be biased in their defending of nuclear advocates.

    If Fukushima doesn’t scare someone about nuclear power then they have a bias. To me it’s the similar the global warming believers that were unmoved by ClimateGate and found ways to explain it away.

    There is also a bias in the people that say newer nuclear plants are safe. They leave the letter ‘r’ off the end of the word safe. Newer plant are safer than the older ones. But they are not safe. How much safer than the older ones can be debated. But it cannot be said they are safe. To be that convinced as to say ‘safe’ is to be as convinced as the global warmers that say the science of global warming is ‘settled’.

  25. Allan M says:

    Phillip Bratby says:
    March 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Yet again the media and alarmist greenies have to ask themselves questions. Why do they try and scare the public unnecessarily? Alarmism can cause panic and deaths

    As usual, follow the money. The greenie organizations make their money from speading panic, not from spreading facts. So they won’t ask themselves questions.

  26. Sean Houlihane says:

    The fudamental problem is that the scientists are speaking in possibilities (like the pumps might not restart), and the media seize on this as the only important thing to report. Precautions are taken so that even very unlikely scenarios will have minimal impact. The ‘failed’ helicopter probably achieved their target of washing out the localised air-borne radiation which allowed the fire trucks to get closer.

    Yes, it’s serious, but apart from the people actually on site, there is no real risk at all. It also massively increases the data we have about how these things can go wrong meaning small changes can be made at other sites to reduce risk even further (and I’m not talking about better protection for the generators – risk assessment is usually based on surviving multiple points of failure. Rather than working out which weak points need to be made bomb-proof, they need to be made non-essential)

    Still, it seems that we get no more data on the dangers of low dose levels since the population of workers is too small.

  27. Al Gored says:

    crosspatch says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

    “Re: evacuations… the law in Japan whenever a “level 4″ event is triggered. It isn’t to be taken to mean “there is a problem that will contaminate the local area”, it means “this could possibly develop into a problem that could contaminate the local area”. If you wait until something actually bad happens, you aren’t going to get the people out in time…”

    This confusion about what these evacuations actually mean versus what they are preceived to mean reminds me of the “Endangered Species” lists. Relatively few listed species are actually Endangered. Most are at lower ‘at risk’ levels, Threatened (with becoming Endangered) or most of all, Vulnerable (to becoming Threatened). Most people assume everything listed and their scary totals represents the worst case Endangered scenario but it doesn’t.

    Anyhow, hope it doesn’t get worse in Japan.

  28. sHx says:

    “The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, badly damaged during the extremely severe earthquake and tsunami there a week ago, continues to stabilise. It is becoming more probable by the day that public health consequences will be zero and radiation health effects among workers at the site will be so minor as to be hard to measure. Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.”

    Oh, yeah! The bomb might have been big, the fuse might have been lit, people might have been asked to leave the immediate vicinity (30 km), and the clock might have ticked tick, tick, tick.

    But nuclear experts went in, all was taken care of in a timely and orderly fashion, and no harm was done in the end.

    Yeah! Why is all this hysteria?

  29. Ralph says:

    >>Bernd Felsche says: March 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm
    >> Makes Clean Coal Look Better drew my early attention.

    But nobody has explained to me how this new CO2 industry can prevent a CO2 blowout, and a Like Nyos disaster of epic proportions.

    .

  30. Ralph says:

    >Roger Sowell
    >>This is a disaster of epic proportions. All nuclear people should
    >>realize that the party is over. The nuclear experiment is over.

    And the sky is falling, run for the hills……

    Roger. You have to understand that energy production is dangerous, it is in the nature of the beast, because it contains – well – lots of energy. The coal mines in China were killing 6,000 workers a year, until recently. Do we close down all coal fired plants too?

    You also have to understand that the most dangerous thing if all, is not having any energy. Each barrel of oil contains 100,000 man-hours of work. Rome was built upon slave labour, the West was built upon the slave energy of oil. Remove those slaves, and the empire collapses. And just ask the Romans what happens to your standard of living and the fate of your children, when an empire collapses.

    Your option, of running for the hills, will kill hundreds of millions of people and bring poverty and destruction on an epic scale. Nations – like Japan is finding out – do not work without energy. Google the US Northeast blackout (2003?) to see what happened to New York when power was cut for a couple of days. Now multiply that chaos by 100 or 1,000.

    Ralph

  31. kwik says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:32 am

    “This is a disaster of epic proportions. ”

    Yes, the Tsunami is surely a disaster of epic proporsions.

  32. Leg says:

    To Roger Sowell

    There are two things that were happening that create problems
    1) The release of radioactive chemicals/particles are a PUBLIC concern. This occurs during the ventings and should there be something to cause the fuel rods to be destroyed in a fashion that causes particles of the fuel rods to be thrown into the air. I’m not seeing a lot of information that indicates the latter occurred at these plants.
    2) When fuel rods that have been in use (e.g. spent fuel rods) lose their shielding there is nothing to stop the gamma emissions and this becomes a serious WORKER problem. It is not a public problem because if you are far enough away, you will get little or no dose.

    Here’s an example. I helped install a 12,000,000 Curie Cs-137 irradiator in Thorton Colorada back in the ’80′s. I moved every single rod of cesium into a pool of water. I was twenty four feet away from the rods with 20 feet of water between me and them. I got no dose. None. I calculated, that without the water, at this distance I had 1.85 seconds to get a lethal dose of radiation. I also calculated that if the unshielded cesium was just sitting someplace, a person needed to be about 1/2 mile from them to be at the 2 mR/hr (.o2 Sv/hr) line which is relatively safe if you do not sit there for a year. Anyone at a mile was very safe.

    I suspect at Fukishima that the water levels in the spent fuel pools kept dropping, thereby increasing the gamma radiation dose in the area. Until they could get more water shielding on the spent fuel, workers were in big danger. It sounds like this happened more than once with workers pulling back until the water levels (shielding) were restored.

    I keep seeing folks try to make a big deal about the US Navy moving around. Well, DUH! Would you stand downwind of the smoke from a fire? Same basic question, would you stand downwind of a potential radioactive material release? It is one of the first basic rules of any kind of chemical (and radioactive materials are chemicals) emergency response – Get upwind from the source of the problem. The Navy is not stupid. However, those who are making this an issue have zero common sense.

  33. Jim says:

    The British Prime Minister David Cameron was one of the first to cry wolf, offering flights out of the country to UK expats. The guy causes trouble no matter where he is with his seriously pretentious “overly concerned” routine. Always trying to be one step ahead of all the other world leaders, regardless the cost to the Japanese or anyone else who gets in the way of his ego.

  34. Tenuc says:

    The real problem is that you simply can’t believe a word the MSM or governments across the world say about serious situations, like the current situation in Japan.

    Spin has become the new paradigm and good investigative reporting and responsible government has become the victim.

    Luckily we now have the web and can speak to people living through the event. We can also find out how things work and also good quality pictures from the event. We no longer need to listen to the meaningless babble of commercial and political advocacy groups, who ‘own’ the MSM.

    We just need to spend a little time digging around, then apply some critical reasoning to the evidence of what is happening…

    Fukushima Daiichi plant situation…
    http://img198.imageshack.us/img198/6145/japanearthquaketsufukus.jpg

  35. Pete H says:

    Phillip Bratby says:
    March 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm
    “It was obvious to expert nuclear engineers from the start that the events at Fukushima Daiichi would not and could not lead to a Chernobyl-type accident.”

    There you go Phillip. Lets keep our eyes on the Daily Mail and Telegraph for the next few days so we can catch their apology for scaring the public!

    To be fair, there were some comments here at WUWT talking the same garbage!

  36. Leg says:

    I hope you all say a prayer and offer a thanks to those workers who are battling the problems at the plants. They have to work in full gear: anti-C clothing and respirators or self-contained breating apparatus. They have been working in confined spaces that are hot and without lights. You have no idea how brutal this can be. I’ve only been in a few situations where I had to dress out and do moderate work and it wasn’t dark, confined and hot (well, one time it was hot). Two hours was my limit. I have so much respect for these men who are working so hard to keep you and I safe.

  37. Ian Wallace says:

    When the Japanese apologise it is about protocol, rather than guilt, according to this site:

    http://japanesecultureandlanguage.blogspot.com/2009/03/japanese-business-culture-and-applogy.html

  38. Verity Jones says:

    @Leg

    Good point. I reckon 99% of people have not even the faintest idea of the conditions they are working in and have not even thought about it. Confined spaces training is bad enough – it is horrific how quickly you use up the oxygen in the breathing apparatus when the only stress is the training itself (only had to use it once ‘for real’ and then, ironically it was above ground, but suspended on a tripod above water working in the entrance to a flooded entry point (and didn’t need the BA then)). Utmost respect for them.

  39. amicus curiae says:

    10pm aussie abc reported another 6 grade quake.

  40. Laogai says:

    We have a saying: “As safe as houses”.

    But are houses really ‘safe’? Or are they merely ‘safer’? After all, a house consists of tons of wood, steel, brickwork, and concrete suspended a few feet above your head. That sounds dangerous to me. Let us apply the same standards that we do to nuclear power.

    In Japan, we see examples of houses that were hit by a 9.1 earthquake followed by a 10 m high tsunami, and a nuclear power plant hit by a 9.1 earthquake and a 10 m high tsunami. People in houses? Thousands dead. In the nuclear power plant? None so far.

    Magnitude 7 counts as a big earthquake, and each unit is 32 times the previous magnitude, so that’s a thousand times bigger than what most people would count as ‘big’. The nuclear power plant survived that with no damage. I bet your house wouldn’t! But that’s not enough. It also got hit by a 10 m high tsunami – a hundred thousand tons of water moving at 30-200 km/hr – and the place was still standing!
    Personally, I’m very impressed.

    It is perfectly true that things are not fine at the power plant, and while nowhere near as catastrophic as some want to paint it, it does still counts as a dangerous and very serious situation. But the safety measures *worked*. Compared to houses, nuclear power is very safe.

    It is the double standard that is so revealing. Nobody is proposing we evacuate our homes, even though thousands have collapsed and been washed away in the Japanese quake, and even though millions of lives could be potentially affected, because nobody expects them to stand up to that sort of thing. But all the reactors in Germany, not previously well known for its frequent earthquakes and tsunamis, have been shut down because… well…, I suppose there’s always a first time. How is this sensible?

    Yes, nuclear power is dangerous. But so is everything else. Life is dangerous. Accidents happen. What matters is that it’s far less dangerous than the alternative of going without power.

    It’s the same stupid, deranged politics as in global warming. Real and current dangers that could be solved with cheap energy are ignored, while nebulous and doubtful dangers at the extremes of the probability curve demand instant priority. And as with global warming, if you argue then you’re a corrupt shill for the nuclear industry, and can be safely dismissed. I don’t know what the answer is, or even if there is one.

  41. R.S.Brown says:

    From:
    http://apnews.excite.com/article/20110319/D9M28FVO0.html
    Mar 19, 5:40 AM (ET)

    By SHINO YUASA and ERIC TALMADGE

    FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) – Japan said radiation levels in spinach and milk from farms near its tsunami-crippled nuclear complex exceeded government safety limits, as emergency teams scrambled Saturday to restore power to the plant so it could cool dangerously overheated fuel.
    The food was taken from farms as far as 65 miles (100 kilometers) from the stricken plants, suggesting a wide area of nuclear contamination.

    Since the contamination has spread inland, I’m wondering
    how much contamination has gotten into the seawater they’ve
    been spraying on the reactors and holding ponds… which turns into
    steam and goes back into the atmosphere.

  42. M White says:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9429347.stm

    “Yesterday in Tokyo I met a group of young British teachers who had just been evacuated from the disaster zone.

    They were visibly upset at leaving behind Japanese friends and students, and irritated that we all seem more concerned about the nuclear power plant.

    Please tell the outside world that the people up in the north need our help, they said, they do not have enough to eat, they are cold and in shock – they need help.”

  43. Jack Jennings (aus) says:

    @ Sowell
    That’s just inane drivel not worth the measured thoughts of the folk who took the time to respond. 
    People go on about ‘Big Oil’ but this is just the latest example of ‘Big News’. They’re just selling a product and I don’t understand how people are still prepared to pay them for the lies and deception. Maybe someone should start a class action and sue them for all the expense and suffering they are putting people through. How many dead from this latest scare story ?
    Thank you to the blogsphere where you can find information that can be tested as @ Tenuc suggested. Here’s a couple I found helpful. 

    http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/03/13/some-perspective-on-the-japan-earthquake. A great report by Patrick McKenzie. 

    bravenewclimate.com Prof Barry Brook’s blog about nuke. Anti coal but seems sensible about the nuke engineering. 

    Cheers Jack
    Chrs J

  44. Jim says:

    In response to Leg’s excellent comment. I think there are a lot of people who feel the exact same way.

    Those nuclear workers and emergency service personnel are taking heroic actions, as are the men and women who go down the mines all over the world to keep electricity flowing to the masses, only to be castigated above ground by the cowardly green movement that benefit so much by their actions.

    It really is time for true greeniacs to go off grid and show commitment to their beliefs, it would only be a tiny commitment by comparison to these modern heroes who give life and limb to keep reliable energy systems running all over the world.

    Japan has been held to a massive disservice by a cowardly MSM who promote catastrophe propaganda. It is no wonder that the public at large are moving away en masse from the MSM towards more accurate niche news services like WattsUpWithThat.

  45. John Marshall says:

    The BBC are not immune to the hysterical reporting either or the reporting of supposition by so called science correspondents.

    This is good news and should continue to improve over the week end. Well done Japan.

  46. fp says:

    Whenever the media talks about “nuclear contamination” your first question should be, how much? Because there’s radiation everywhere..

    “Edano said someone drinking the tainted milk for one year would consume as much radiation as in a CT scan; for the spinach, it would be one-fifth of a CT scan. A CT scan is a compressed series of X-rays used for medical tests.”

    “The tainted milk was found 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the plant, while the spinach was collected between 50 miles (80 kilometers) and 65 miles (100 kilometers) to the south, Edano told reporters in Tokyo.”

  47. 1DandyTroll says:

    @Sowell

    That the plants started to have problem has, I’m sure been explained: Major earth quake and major tsunami.

    That there was an explosion has been explained: The venting of hydrogen.

    That the water cannons “failed” has been explained: Not enough electricity.

    That they used helicopters has been explained: The water cannons “failed”.

    That was why they raised from 4 to 5 for reactors 1 and 3. They where following protocol. Not unlike US does every time North Korea shouts they gonna nuke South Korea or some such.

    Today the surface temperature, apparently, is below 100˚ C at 1 and 4 reactor. The water is again circulating in the spent fuel pools at reactors 5 and 6, and the pool for reactor 3 is somewhat stable.

    The problem with the spent fuel pools seem to just contaminated water. The cooling water need to be extra clean so the neutrons don’t have anything to interact with. And it takes time for the spent fuel to cool down, that’s why they need a separate cooling pool.

    All that was needed was electricity and it is getting restored more and more by every passing day.

    Even though the plants wasn’t designed for this massive natural disaster, there has yet to be a cause for hysterical alarm.

    Natural disasters themselves kills more people per year than has all the nuclear crisis ever done, yet hysterical people tremble with fear of potential nuclear disaster but venture happily to places like south east asia where during a couple of days several hundred thousand people perished from one natural disaster, in 2004, alone.

  48. Cory says:

    Roger Sowell says:

    “Nuclear industry people cannot be trusted – they know that they have one narrow escape after another and have gotten by solely by sheer luck and a tight code of never talking about the hazards and near-misses”

    Every incident that every plant has had is out there for you to read. Just go to http://www.nrc.gov and look under the event report link.
    It’s not sheer luck that the nuclear industry has gotten by. The standards that a nuke plant has to maintain is extremely high. Already every plant in the US is being required to review and verify the operability and feasibility of their disaster plans, making sure all equipment will work as is claimed.

    If you want to know how the nuclear industry works spend some time reading the links at the nrc’s website. There is also a detailed summary of what happened at TMI since that has been brought to people’s attention lately.

  49. R.S.Brown says:

    Another release from the Japanese government:

    Japan officials: radioactive iodine in Tokyo water

    Mar 19, 8:29 AM (ET)
    TOKYO (AP) –

    The Japanese government reports that trace amounts of radioactive iodine were detected in tap water in Tokyo and five other areas, amid concerns about leaks from a damaged nuclear power plant.

    A government ministry reported Saturday that small amounts of the iodine was found in tap water in Tokyo and five other prefectures. The ministry says the amounts did not exceed government safety limits but usual tests show no iodine.
    But the findings add to public concerns about radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear power plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami.

    http://apnews.excite.com/article/20110319/D9M2AVJO0.html

  50. ew-3 says:

    “Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.”

    Problem is will the media cover the condemnation. I suspect not.
    In the end, the image most of the public will have is what the media has presented.

    Last night at work quite a few customers, upon CNN on the TV, asked “Has it melted down yet?”

  51. Jeremy says:

    …Police riot vehicles mounting powerful water cannon and fire trucks were used to douse the spent-fuel pool at No 3 with water, causing steam to emerge – confirming that some cooling at least was being achieved

    Say that again? Japan owns police riot vehicles with water cannons?

    When does Japan ever have to deal with riots? I swear there is no such thing as a Japanese riot.

  52. maelstrom the magnificientic says:

    Maelstrom’s media time-line of the quake/tsunami/Dai-ichi mashup:

    1. Quake was a 7, tsunami might’ve killed 1000 people, radiation monitors at the daiichi fukushima plant registering normal background radiation.

    2. Quake was 8 point something maybe, might be more dead from tsunami, slight increase inside the plant, no worries.

    3. Quake was magnitude 8.9, there might be 10,000 dead, minor release of radioactive steam, no worries…

    4. Quake was mag 9.0 or 9.1, dead might be 10,000, minor release of radiation outside plant, no worries….

    5. 9.1, ~10,000, some reactors exploded, no worriers, no breaches…

    6. “, “, previously unmentioned spent fuel rods above reactors are fissioning…

    7. “, “, plant has 30 years of accumulated spent rods plus 10 years of plutonium oxide mixed fuel…

    8. Hundreds of civilians found contaminated, Japanese PM declares 10 km exclusion zone around plant as radioactive cloud hits Tokyo, Austrian embassy evacuates to Oosaka, USS Ronald Reagan reverses course 100 miles out to sea due to plutonium pollution.

    9. Situation according to Japanese PM now “grave,” TEPCO president weeps on international television admitting there will be human deaths (there already have been), TEPCO withdraws personnel from plants (they actually refused to go but that’s not reported) except for 50 kamikaze rescue workers who make a splendid media distraction.

    10. Radiation officially, according to anonymous Test Ban staff, reaches California, Washington state admits xenon isotopes from Fukushima detected two days earlier, Japanese flee country, Russia considers offering aid to Japanese refugees, Japanese public fully understands they were lied to by their unpopular PM, meltdown in reactors continues, Fukushima reactors 5 and 6 thought secure, four other reactors elsewhere in Japan still in danger.

    Some of the details might be slightly achronological, but the official media have alternated between horror and “nothing to worry about” during the whole event, sometimes in the same paragraph. I, for one, see nothing strange in the nuclear industry’s attempt to downplay the danger to the public. That’s just what they do.

  53. _Jim says:

    Core exposed; satellite image catches glow from reactor in building #3:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/presenting-latest-digitalglobe-satellite-photos-fukushima-thermal-imaging-continues-be-top-s

    Zero Hedger calls “Core Meltdown”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/presenting-latest-digitalglobe-satellite-photos-fukushima-thermal-imaging-continues-be-top-s#comment-1074565

    Looks like the reactor core in reactor bldg #3 is showing through in this high-res satellite image (it is that bright object three over and one up from the left on the sea-side facing side of the reactor building):

    http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/von%20havenstein/japan_earthquaketsu_fukushima_daiichi_march18_2011_dg.jpg

    .

  54. _Jim says:

    A crop (and magnification) of Reactor bldg 3 with the area thought to be the ‘core’ showing as a bright spot in the picture:

    http://oi53.tinypic.com/dz9jj6.jpg

  55. Olen says:

    The Chase.
    Watching the news media reporting impending disaster at Japans damaged nuclear plants I got the impression I was watching a rerun of Charlie Sheen’s movie The Chase where the media hyped, lied and made every move to report the story as anything except what it was. Rather than report the event they attempted to create their own event.

  56. Roger Sowell says:

    To all: I fully understand the nuclear power plants, as I’m a chemical engineer by training (attorney now). I also fully appreciate the need for safe, clean, affordable energy in the world. I give formal lectures on the subject. On my blog, I write on this under the subject of the Grand Game.

    I am also fully aware of the various nuclear incident reporting sites. What is never written there are many of the near-misses – because they are not required to be reported.

    As to “Each barrel of oil contains 100,000 man-hours of work,” that is ludicrous. A barrel of oil is priced at approximately $100 today. A man-hour of work would be worth $100 divided by 100,000 if that statement were true, or $0.001 per hour. Clearly, in Western societies, a man-hour of work is worth more like $10 per hour. One could use $10 per man-hour and conclude that a barrel of oil contains only 10 man-hours of work. But that is completely irrelevant. Work is not the only component of the price of oil. The cost to produce a barrel of oil is a more appropriate measure, or metric for those who prefer such labels. The cost to produce a barrel of oil depends on many factors, and ranges from less than one dollar per barrel, to more than $20 per barrel. If we were to use a nominal value of $10 for the cost of production, then the barrel of oil “contains” only one man-hour of work. Even that is a flawed conclusion, because the cost to produce is not limited merely to man-hours of work. There are capital costs, energy costs, maintenance costs, overhead costs, taxes, insurance, and many other components of the cost of production. As I stated above, a claim as “100,000 man hours of work” for a barrel of oil is ludicrous.

    I stand by each and every statement I made above. Nuclear is finished. The hue and cry and public demonstrations and loss of votes for incumbents who vote for any approvals will be beyond anything seen to date. The reason?

    The mothers of the world are VERY unhappy over this Japanese disaster. My email and facebook accounts are full of missives from concerned mothers. They vote. They march and demonstrate and are very vocal.

    This post is about the reactor situation being “stable.” I hope that is true, and continues to be true. I hope the workers, and those making decisions, can and do cool everything down safely and in a timely manner. I hope there are no radiation exposures, and no workers’ lives shortened or made worse from illness. I hope the US West Coast, where I live, does not have harmful levels of any radiation. Other than some Pacific islands, California is first in line to receive the wind-blown radiation. I hope the same for all the countries, that no one has to live in fear of a radiation dose. I’m pulling for the Japanese on this one, go, guys, go!

    And when this is over, if indeed the Japanese pull this off with no loss of life or illness, the rest of the world with nuclear power plants can ask themselves, could we have done that? After all, they are the Japanese, with incredible work ethic, world-class engineering talent, and they barely pulled this off. What will the other countries do when the earthquake occurs at their nuclear power plant? What will California do when a massive tsunami inundates their four operating reactors? California has far more spent fuel rods stored at their reactors than does Fukushima Dai-ichi.

    And if the Japanese fail to stabilize their disaster, and people are harmed domestically and abroad, what then? Which country can honestly say to itself, well, we would have done better than the Japanese.

    We live in interesting times. A key indicator is the stock price of companies in the nuclear world, and those in the fossil-fuel world. Investors are a savvy bunch. I would not be at all surprised to see the nuclear stocks falling, and fossil-fuel stocks rising.

    Nuclear has had its chance, its day in the sun, and it has failed via meltdown. Or perhaps 3 meltdowns plus two spent fuel pools running dry. Watch for new orders for natural-gas fired power plants to increase.

  57. TomRude says:

    Yet the NYT fearmongers with their map…

  58. Leg says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:49 am

    I have so much respect for these men who are working so hard to keep you and I safe.

    There are commenters saying it was never unsafe. It looks like there are exaggeration about it being safe just as there was exaggeration about how bad it was.

  59. Ralph says:

    >>Jim
    >>It really is time for true greeniacs to go off grid and show
    >> commitment to their beliefs

    Agreed, I have said this for a long time. All those in favour of wind and other renewables, should be disconnected from the fossil and nuclear electrical grid.

    After the second week without power, they would be begging for more oil and coal, and praying for nuclear power.

    .

  60. 1DandyTroll says:
    March 19, 2011 at 6:34 am

    That the plants started to have problem has, I’m sure been explained: Major earth quake and major tsunami.

    Earthquakes and tsunamis aren’t supposed to happen?

  61. _Jim says:

    Not news; the bright image has been identified as a new ‘rice cooker’ brought in by a work crew early yesterday … they were just re-heating something one of the workers brought in …

  62. Ralph says:

    >>Roger Sewell
    >>As to “Each barrel of oil contains 100,000 man-hours of work,” that is
    >> ludicrous. A barrel of oil is priced at approximately $100 today. A
    >>man-hour of work would be worth $100 divided by 100,000 if that
    >>statement were true, or $0.001 per hour. Clearly, in Western societies,
    >>a man-hour of work is worth more like $10 per hour.

    Roger. For an intelligent man, you are now just being plain stupid.

    Was my comparison in dollars? Did I mention dollars? Is the dollar the only unit you understand?

    The comparison between oil and manpower is quite obviously in energy. A 100 acre field once took 100 workers 1 day to plough (the definition of a acre, assuming a 12 hour day). It now takes a JCB tractor 3 hours and 25 gallons of fuel.

    This is why we are rich, and Medieval society was poor. 95% of farm workers are now free to produce other goods. Andnthe reason why you cannot make the comparison in the price of labour, is the reason why the Romans plateaued in theirwealth and abilities. There was a finite limit to manual labour, whereas the oil slave can be throttled up as much as one wishes (until the oil runs out).

    But the problem is that the oil WILL run out, sometime. And if, when that time comes, the Greenies have directed us down the renewable cul-de-sac, then civilisation as we know it ceases to exist. That, Roger, is the future you are suggesting for Western society – a slow and painful death through energy strangulation.

    .

  63. Ralph says:

    >>Roger
    >>Nuclear has had its chance, its day in the sun, and it has failed via meltdown.

    And I will have to remind you, Roger, that wind, wave, solar and geothermal power is only nucler power by proxy.

    In other words, dear Roger, you are an ardent supporter of nuclear power. I am glad you made that point clear. Hooray for nuclear power, eh?

    .

  64. On the price of a barrel of oil:

    It’s not just the production process that goes into the price. Speculators/hedgers drive up the cost. This video is an easy to understand explanation from a reporter that actually investigated the 2008 gas price spike when a barrel of oil went to $147.00. He also talks on why the housing bubble happened :

    :

  65. Daniel H says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:41 am

    We had beautiful spring-like weather here in Tokyo today.

    An unrelated question:what are the Japanese women like? Are they as friendly toward men as I have been hearing?

  66. John Phillips says:

    A situation can be stable but still dangerous. Some commenters don’t seem to get that.

    The earthquake and tsunami exceeded the design basis accident and overwhelmed the defense-in-depth provisions of the reactors. The plant was outside the envelope of normal and emergency parameters, procedures, and training. So at that point, management of the emergency becomes on-the-ground information gathering, analysis of information, decision-making, and action. An element similar to the fog of war most likely existed and likely still exists to a lesser degree in this situation since the normal installed instrumentation was probably useless.

    It is almost for sure that after this emergency is over and a full investigation can be done, it will be revealed, with 20/20 hindsight, that not all decisions and actions taken even by technically competent persons were perfectly optimal.

    Hopefully, when the plant staff were in the fast moving, fog of war stage of the emergency they kept focused on managing the emergency and not feeding the news media beast aside from advising on evacuations.

  67. Doug Badgero says:

    Roger and others,

    I also have an engineering degree (Mechanical), I also have 25+ years in nuclear operations and training. I was a licensed operator for 8 years and senior operator for another 8.

    Some have downplayed the significance of this event but FAR more have overplayed the significance. Yes there are areas on the site that have lethal doses of radiation if you spend enough time standing in that location. For instance if you stood in the 40R/hr field for ten hours you would incur a dose approximately equal to the LD50 dose. There are areas of any plant that have lethal doses of radiation if you are dumb enough to stand there long enough, these areas are locked at commercial plants. Dose rates off site have NEVER been immediately dangerous to life and health.

    This is a serious nuclear accident and I concur with the INES scale rating of 5 based on what we know. However, it isn’t the nuclear or public health catastrophe you , and others, are making it out to be. If, as it seems, the contamination off site is primarily I-131 then it will be gone in about 1 month because radio iodine has a half-life of 8 days. As others have pointed out, the rest of Japan’s infrastructure is responsible for far more deaths than these nuke plants during this event.

  68. Roger Sowell says:

    @Ralph on March 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

    (the name is Sowell)

    You wrote, “The comparison between oil and manpower is quite obviously in energy. A 100 acre field once took 100 workers 1 day to plough (the definition of a acre, assuming a 12 hour day). It now takes a JCB tractor 3 hours and 25 gallons of fuel.”

    Ok. Let’s analyze this statement for accuracy. Even granting that the assertions are true (100 workers? 12 hours? What type of field? Stony, sandy, loamy soil, wet clay, dry clay, with sod or without? What type of plowing? How deep? Spacing?). And, that one can plow said 100 acres by using 25 gallons of diesel fuel. The numbers just don’t work out.

    You assert 100 workers who labor for 12 hours to achieve the plowing task. That then is 1200 man-hours of work. Also, 25 gallons of fuel, which is barely more than one-half of a barrel (there are 42 US gallons in a barrel of oil). The actual number is 0.59 barrels and change. Dividing out, (1200 divide by 0.59) yields 2,016 man-hours per barrel. That is a far cry from your original assertion that a barrel of oil contains 100,000 man-hours of work.

    As to the larger point, that oil is a good thing for society, I could not agree more. see this for my views on that: http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/oil-industry-saved-planet-from.html

    As to the world running out of oil, I disagree. It never has, and never will. All such predictions are wrong, and are based on a flawed model of how the world operates.

    And, I disagree that renewables are a cul-de-sac. Hydroelectric power works quite well and is cheap. It is also renewable. The oceans are the true and ultimate energy source for the planet, with wind, wave, thermal differences from top to bottom, and the most important of all, ocean currents. Renewable energy that converts sunlight directly to oil, via algae is also quite promising. Renewable energy that converts sunlight to hydrogen by splitting water via synthetic photosynthesis is also viable.

    There is zero need for a nuclear powered earth, other than military ships and submarines. The nuclear power advocates are desperate in their frantic efforts to prolong the radiation nightmare they have produced all around us. The geeks are winning, and they know it.

  69. tmtisfree says:

    The level of professionalism in the reporting of the nuclear events in Japan by Register’s Lewis Page is very high.
    I just registered there to express my thanks with such good job of him. Very good journalism. Thanks also for WUWT for pointing it to us.

  70. Billy Liar says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 19, 2011 at 8:15 am

    That horse you’ve been relentlessly flogging. Is it dead yet?

  71. Billy Liar says:

    _Jim says:
    March 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

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

  72. Billy Liar says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 19, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I hope the US West Coast, where I live, does not have harmful levels of any radiation.

    Bad news, Roger. It has widely occurring and extremely harmful levels of UV radiation. One can wear a protective suit but but the ‘birthday suit’ is not recommended.

  73. TrueNorthist says:

    Thanks for posting this Anthony. Once again proving that yours is one among but a few places where truth matters.

    Cheers!

  74. Richard Sharpe says:

    Roger Sowell says:

    As to the larger point, that oil is a good thing for society, I could not agree more. see this for my views on that: http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/oil-industry-saved-planet-from.html

    Indeed, and one can view the vilification of the oil industry by partisan political hacks as an attempt by the non-productive to destroy the political power of productive people.

  75. Roger Sowell says:

    Re Japanese nuclear industry cover-ups and screw-ups:

    ” “Everything is a secret,” said Kei Sugaoka, a former nuclear power plant engineer in Japan who now lives in California. “There’s not enough transparency in the industry.”

    Sugaoka worked at the same utility that runs the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant where workers are racing against time to prevent a full meltdown following Friday’s 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami.

    In 1989 Sugaoka received an order that horrified him: edit out footage showing cracks in plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators. Sugaoka alerted his superiors in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., but nothing happened. He decided to go public in 2000. Three Tepco executives lost their jobs.” [bold added]

    source: http://news.lp.findlaw.com/ap/f/1310/03-17-2011/20110317005000_19.html

    Note that this is from AP. If they’re lying, they could be sued for defamation.

  76. Scott Brim says:

    A question for Roger Sowell:

    Suppose that a national policy decision were made this year to phase out nuclear power in the United States in an orderly fashion, but with all deliberate speed. What specific plan would you offer for implementing that decision in terms of: (a) your proposed schedule for plant shutdowns, (b) your proposed disposition of spent fuel and nuclear infrastructure, and (c) your proposed contingency plans for coping with power shortages while alternative sources of power are being implemented?

  77. rbateman says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Good call on safer.
    Nuclear Plants are only as safe as thier operators follow the rules and the regulators that make them comply with such.
    Allowing defective fuel and control rods to be used anyway. Try getting away with defective equipment on your car or semi while stopped by a patrol officer.
    Allowing ponds with spent fuel rods as your primary means of permanent storgage is like giving 9 year olds a case of firecrackers and matches.
    This is 2011, not 1960. Geez. We still have plants & fuel sitting on top of known faults.
    It’s not the nuclear power so much that bothers me, it’s the unassuming in charge all too willing to look the other way.
    Sound like Wall St & Regulators?
    Same game, different business sector.

  78. There is a series of interviews with a Navy (ret) nuclear engineer and nuclear power instructor. He also has worked at a plant like the one at Fukushima. The first part is from last Saturday, 3/12/11. And there is one part from each day through the week. He gives his view from the news he was able to gather. He knew a few things that clearly were not available in the media. Though he doesn’t tell everything because, he says, he can’t.

    in 8 parts starting with

    PART 1

  79. Doug Badgero says:
    March 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I also have an engineering degree (Mechanical), I also have 25+ years in nuclear operations and training. I was a licensed operator for 8 years and senior operator for another 8.

    Doug,

    I am wondering if you’d take the time to listen to the series of 8 videos I linked to in my previous comment. It’s approx 4 hours total. I know it would take up your time. And you might not have the time to. But I am curious what you would think of what he had to say.

    I also wanted to make a suggestion to you, and the other fellows talking in tech terms that most people are not going to understand. It will just be blah blah blah to most people. It’s a sort of rule of thumb to always try to talk at a 5th grade level when addressing the general population. And that’s not because people are dumb. It’s because most people just don’t have time to pay attention to anything beyond a 5th grade vocabulary. There’s too many things on their mind. If something is stated to them in a simple to understand way they may stop and listen for a while because most people really do want to understand.

  80. rbateman says:
    March 19, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Nuclear Plants are only as safe as thier operators follow the rules and the regulators that make them comply with such.

    I can agree with that. The Navy has never had a nuclear accident. But I’m pretty sure it’s only because the Navy is soldiers. And soldiers have 24 hour a day vigilance.

    My biggest concern with nuclear is the smaller countries that may not have a level of caution required to run a nuclear plant. You could bet good money there will be more nuclear disasters somewhere.

    What happens when a coal fired power plant has a serious breakdown? You repair it and start shoveling coal again. No water cannons needed.

  81. Max Hugoson says:

    Roger Sowell says:

    “Nuclear industry people cannot be trusted – they know that they have one narrow escape after another and have gotten by solely by sheer luck and a tight code of never talking about the hazards and near-misses”

    Response to Sowell: Every incident that every plant has had is out there for you to read. Just go to http://www.nrc.gov and look under the event report link.

    It’s not sheer luck that the nuclear industry has gotten by. The standards that a nuke plant has to maintain is extremely high.
    —————————–

    Response from Max:

    Talked with my industry contacts this week.

    Re-affirmed that all the plants in my state had additional Diesel generators put in during the ’90′s. They are in earthquake, bomb, flood, tornado, hurricane proof buildings. They are ELEVATED (about 40′ above the ground).

    They contain 2 weeks worth of fuel. Part of a program known as “station black out” from the NRC.

    Japan CAN be faulted for NOT having this level of defense in depth.

    Max

  82. Roger Sowell says:

    @Scott Brim on March 19, 2011 at 11:10 am

    “A question for Roger Sowell:

    Suppose that a national policy decision were made this year to phase out nuclear power in the United States in an orderly fashion, but with all deliberate speed. What specific plan would you offer for implementing that decision in terms of: (a) your proposed schedule for plant shutdowns, (b) your proposed disposition of spent fuel and nuclear infrastructure, and (c) your proposed contingency plans for coping with power shortages while alternative sources of power are being implemented?”

    Scott, I earn a part of my living providing advice such as you requested. So, I won’t answer in any detail here.

    However, I will say regarding point (c) that there would be no power shortages. An orderly plan, by definition, would have no power shortages involved. Secondly, state utility regulators are required under law to ensure a safe, reliable supply of electricity so any shut down plans and new construction plans are given ample time for design, regulatory review, construction and startup. A utility will ordinarily advise the state regulators years in advance of a plant’s planned shutdown and removal from service, and advise or request permission to construct a similar long time in advance, perhaps 10 years depending on the type of plant and the size.

    As to the alternative power sources, there are presently only three economically viable sources: coal, natural gas, and purchased power from others where available. For example, New England states can and do purchase hydroelectric power from Canada.

    Each state must make its own economic choices and follow whatever laws exist.

  83. lanceman says:

    @ Roger Sowell

    Roger, I went to your blog. You have a plot of Average Power Price vs. Percent Nuclear in State. A few comments:
    1. You have drawn a line through a swarm of bees.
    2. You present no statistical information on the correlation coefficient or any other indication on the statistical significance of your “results”.
    3.You don’t account for any factors like in-state regulations, interstate power trading etc.
    4. You were a chemical engineer (or have a degree in Chemical Engineering) but are now a lawyer. I am not surprised.
    5. As much harm as lawyers have done to this nation, based upon the level of analysis you have presented, I am personally very relieved at your career switch. The thought of you designing or maintaining a chemical facility is frightening.

  84. _Jim says:

    Billy Liar March 19, 2011 at 10:10 am :

    _Jim says:
    March 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

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

    Nice nic (gives real confidence and inspiration); suggest there is NOTHING present in that area to present specular reflection

    gees … do you not notice the position of shadows on the interior of the building wrt to the position of the glowing light source, or the fact the area should is covered 100% with concrete dust? Have you forgotten about the aftermath of 9-11-2001 and the tower collapses?

    Have you calculated the probability of an anomaly in EXACTLY that position?

    Take a really, really good look at that glowing – note the position of that source from the camera: run a line straight down into the reactor building and after having spent some time studying the GE Mark I containment system and building construction tell me that line does not intersect what would be the ‘plug’ area atop the internal ‘drywell’ containment structure …

    Noting a critical lack of thinking skills on the part of some individuals; maybe it’s more a lack of your having studied every detail that has become available for study on this subject, including the reactor building physical layout, schematics of systems, and the available photos with which to perform some crude photogrammetry to determine position in structures …

    Does not also the absence of steam form the damaged core in Rx building 3 mean anything – are they circulating seawater into/trough Rx 3 at the moment (not with AC power on site they aren’t, and last report they were still sans AC power)? With a lack of cooling, WHAT do you think is happening to temperatures in that reactor vessel?

    I didn’t think this would have to be defended in any way … it is a piece of unbiased evidence that should be added to the mix in determining what is taking place at Fukushima I. Apparently not. So sad …

    .

  85. George Turner says:

    @Roger Sowell,

    Try this one. A barrel of crude can produce about 10 gallons of diesel and 20 gallons of gasoline. Let’s just treat it all as diesel and put it in a semi truck (getting about 7 mpg) hauling 20 tons of cargo about 210 miles. The cost of the fuel is about $100 and the truck driver gets paid for 3 hours of travel, say $50.

    Or you could use 200 men pushing wheelbarrows at 3 mph, each loaded with 200 pounds, taking them 70 hours to deliver the same load the same distance. Even if I pay them half as much as the truck driver (because it’s unskilled labor) the delivery cost still tops $110,000, and they’re working 16 hours days with no overtime and having to cover four nights and food out of their own pocket.

    So even though I’m spending a hundred thousand dollars instead of $150 to deliver the load, all I’ve done is throw 200 people into backbreaking labor and poverty, taking four days and a small army to deliver what I used to get in 3 hours from a guy named Ralph. The $100,000 in wage-slave labor is what sits in the barrel of oil.

    The oil doesn’t cost $100,000 because it long, long ago drove the human-powered competition out of business, and now it only competes with other barrels.

  86. Gerald Machnee says:

    Anderson 360 may soon do a 180 and go home.

  87. Roger Sowell says:

    @lanceman on March 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Re: statistical analysis.

    Ah, you have noticed what many others have, also. Don’t be too enamored of statistical tricks and oddities. Of course there is much more to any analysis than simply plotting points on a graph and drawing a trend line. (and re your snide comment about my engineering abilities, my clients were and remain highly satisfied with the engineering I performed for them. I made millions of dollars per year for them.)

    But the simple truth remains: more nuclear power does NOT, in general, reduce a state’s average cost of power. Surprise! The data clearly shows that.

    And a digression for a moment about noisy data, and whether or not it could or should be used in the real world. If one were to accept your premise, that noisy data without an r-squared of at least 0.8 is useless, then the engineers would get little accomplished.

    I work in the real world. I took terabytes of data in my time, or received it from others, and was tasked with making sense of it and making decisions based upon that data. Multi-million dollar decisions, some of them. Life-threatening decisions sometimes, too. Real world data is noisy. Sometimes it is pure junk and must be rejected, sometimes it is useful. The key is to have the background and knowledge to know which is which.

    Most of the data we obtained from real-world operating plants has an r-squared somewhere between .5 and .8. Seldom did we see higher than 0.8. Yet we designed and built and safely operated thousands of complex process units that produced on-spec material round the clock for year after year. So, carp all you want about my engineering skills. What your comments show is something about your level of understanding of the real world.

    I’m reminded of another pretty good engineer, Burt Rutan I believe, who once made a video of himself holding up a graph of what the theory said about some parameter, and what the test pilots’ data showed. The theory had a smooth line across the graph, and the actual data was scattered all about the graph. Yet the airplanes fly. Imagine that!

    The broader point about my graph of power costs vs nuclear power percentage is that any new nuclear power plants would not only increase the nuclear percentage, but dramatically increase the state’s power price because of the very high cost of a new nuclear power plant – at about $10 billion per reactor, probably more like $12 to $13 billion per reactor.

  88. Roger Sowell says:

    Re the point “lanceman” was making on a graph, this link below from wikipedia has a fairly good diagram that illustrates the difference between data sets with a correlation coefficient of 1.0, 0.8, 0.4, and 0.0.

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

  89. lanceman says:

    “that there would be no power shortages. An orderly plan, by definition, would have no power shortages involved.”

    So there will be no shortages because the plans won’t call for them. Sounds like a plan to me!

  90. Roger Sowell says:

    @ George Turner, thanks for that, good example. Labor-saving devices (the original LSD) freed mankind from sheer human drudgery and exhaustion. Even a wheelbarrow is a LSD. Before those were invented, men carried things in sacks on their shoulders, or suspended on a pole resting on the shoulders. One can still see such ancient carrying devices in underdeveloped countries.

    I worked in some fairly primitive, remote locations where human labor was used to do things. One instance was a heavy lift, several tons, of a distance of about 10 feet. No crane was available, so a structure was built to hold a chainfall hoist. A chainfall hoist has a series of pulleys and a latching mechanism. One pulls on a length of chain that turns the pulleys and the load is lifted. Two men were assigned to the lifting task, each pulled about 5 times on the chain, then rested while the other one pulled. That was their job, 8 hours per day. It took them about 3 weeks to lift the load in this manner.

    A diesel-powered crane could have lifted the thing into place in a matter of minutes. The diesel consumed would have been trivial.

  91. BenfromMO says:

    One of the things that makes nuclear cost so much is the two-fold amount they pay for storing radioactive waste. 10+Bil for a plant? Probably because of the numerous safeguards they have in place and all the regulations that makes the plant actually have lower radiation levels in its working areas then background radiation. That takes serious shielding..you would end up getting less radiation working inside one then anywhere else.

    Common sense is needed there. I highly doubt that the Japan nuclear incident is going to be on par with TMI with issues as they are in reactor 3, but its not going to be much worse at all and no one ever died or suffered from TMI. I doubt anyone will suffer from this incident, but I do deem it possible that some workers might be affected due to the contrainsts on radiation exposure being lifted so high.

    Other then that, I doubt we will see anything at all.

    But back to the two-fold expenses paid for by nuclear plants: On one hand, they are required to pay for and have for over 30 years for the Government to store nuclear waste permantly. This is money they already spent which the Government (in the US to be precise) has not followed through on its promises.

    On the other current nuclear plants have to store that spent fuel and this costs money to maintain the facilities to do so safely.

    That is a large chunk of change right there. Now if the Government would actually store the spent fuel like it promised, this might cut the cost a little bit for nuclear power. It would also make nuclear power safer, but the Government does not seem to care about that aspect, they seem to enjoy playing a heavy hand for no particular reason.

    I am all for safety regulations and rules to make sure nuclear plants are safe. But are the regulations just making plants impossible to approve and as such impossible to build or do the regulations serve a purpose?

    Gen 3 reactors are quite safe from what happened in this particular case or even at TMI or Chernobyl. Passive cooling goes a long way to making sure that this is not an issue.

    And Gen 4 reactors would make this even less of an issue with thorium.

    All I am saying is not to go overboard. Maybe full fledged nuclear is not a solution to power the US or any other country…but I doubt simply cutting it out is a good solution either. Let the earthquake effects settle down, let the rebuilding start in Japan, and then lets come to a conclusion on what this means for the future.

  92. lanceman says:

    Roger, I plotted your data ( I eyeballed the graph, but I got a slope close to what you did). My results indicated an R-Squared correlation of 0.05 which means almost zero correlation. Furthermore, there are a few data points that, any one of which once removed, make a significant difference in the slope (yet little change in correlation). You are seeing phantoms. The person using this method of supporting nuclear power economics is equally nonsensical.

  93. Doug Badgero says:

    The economics of existing nuclear plants depends almost entirely on when they were built. They all have low variable operating costs. The difference is in levelized capitol cost…………..dominated by the cost to build the plant. Plants completed in the 1970s were cheap, plants completed in the late 1980s cost a fortune.

  94. Roger Sowell says:

    @lanceman onMarch 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Sorry, not what those data show. R-squared is 0.11. It does not matter what you think about such correlations and the statistics. Complain all you like, the facts are clear: nuclear power plants increase the price of power. New nuclear plants will increase the power price much more than is the case today.

    Not that anyone has to worry about that in the USA for the next few decades, as no utility will obtain financing for one. And if they do, we the attorneys are ready to tie them up in court for a very, very, long and expensive battle. Only a foolish utility executive would dare risk building a new nuclear power plant in the USA. And they know it.

  95. Scott Brim says:

    Roger, the generalized approach you have outlined for shutting down the nuclear industry in America could take anywhere from thirty to fifty years to fully implement.

    That’s a lot of paying work for the anti-nuclear lawyers, no doubt. And, of course, it is the public that eventually ends up paying for the cost of your activities.

    In the meantime, let us note that Southern Nuclear is moving ahead at the Vogtle plant in Georgia to construct two new AP1000s, with the prospect of a federal loan guarantee to support it, in addition to their own financing.

    Moreover, TVA has brought one previously mothballed reactor on line, they are working on another, and there are prospects they will go after a third.

    Naturally, I am very curious as to what specific strategy you will be using to prevent these near-term projects from going forward.

  96. harrywr2 says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    ” about $10 billion per reactor, probably more like $12 to $13 billion per reactor.”

    $12-$13 billion is for a twin reactor. I.E. One nuclear plant with twin 1.1 GW reactors.

    The ‘quad’ nuclear plant being build in UAE will cost $20 billion. It will have Four 1.4 GW reactors. FOr a cost of less then $4billion/GW.

  97. Doug Badgero says:

    Some basics on power generation economics:

    Costs can be divided into three categories; Levelized capitol costs, fixed operating (O&M) costs and variable operating costs. These costs are generally expressed as dollars per unit output, for power plants usually it is in dollars per megawatt hour.

    Levelized capitol cost is the cost of the capitol to build the plant. It is determined by the cost, in today’s dollars, to build the plant and the “cost of capitol” to obtain financing. Cost of capitol can be thought of as the interest rate on the loan for borrowed capitol. Nuclear costs a lot to build, coal somewhat less and nat gas is the cheapest of the three. When someone is attempting to make nuclear look expensive find out what their assumed cost of capitol is. Assuming an absurdly high cost of capitol is usually the modus operandi.

    Fixed operating costs are those costs that must be paid whether the plant is operating or not. Some of these costs are labor and certain maintenance activities. Nuclear costs are again highest with coal second and gas cheapest.

    Variable operating costs (are those costs that depend on how much the plant operates. This is dominated by fuel costs for coal and nat gas. This cost is very low for nuclear.

    This link, http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/electricity_generation.html, provides estimates from the US Energy Information Administration for these costs for new generation in 2016. Note this is a snapshot of costs in 2016 not the costs throughout the plants lifetime. The link contains a table the last column of that table is total cost. The disadvantage of nuclear is they cost a lot to build the advantage is they provide some long term insurance against increases in fuel costs for nat gas and coal. Take a look and decide for yourself.

  98. harrywr2 says:

    Roger Sowell says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    >>Not that anyone has to worry about that in the USA for the next few decades, as no >>utility will obtain financing for one. And if they do, we the attorneys are ready to tie >>them up in court for a very, very, long and expensive battle

    I always trust math challenged attorneys that don’t know the difference between a single nuclear reactor and a twin nuclear power plant to give me financial advice and represent me in court. /sarc off

  99. Leg says:

    I am always curious as to why some people can get so angry about nuclear power. I ask a series of questions,
    1) Have you been hurt by nuclear power radiation? Naturally the answer is always – no.
    2) Do you personally know anyone that has been hurt by nuclear power radiation? The answer is still – no.
    3) Can you point me to anyone in the United States that has been hurt by nuclear power? Again -no
    3) So where does this anger stem from that drives you to hate nuclear power so much?
    I often tell these folks that they really need to reassess their anger. It is unwarranted by their own admission. This line of questioning brings some people up short. It takes awhile (I’ve seen months later), but some folks change their minds about nuclear power. Many will try to argue with you anyway, but I do not argue. I just leave them with these questions and thoughts. Plant a seed and it may grow.

  100. Roger Sowell says:

    @harrywr2 on March 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Re costs of nuclear power plants — dream on. Not here in the USA, those costs don’t apply. Ask the South Texas expansion project guys.

    @ Scott Brim re Vogtle plant — not going to happen. Costs way too much and they know it. Re specific strategies, not willing to say. But, the usual plaintiffs’ issues will likely suffice – improper compliance with nuclear codes, inadequate environmental reviews, endangered species act violations, shoddy construction, shareholder derivative suits, and other such things as were used in the previous round of nuclear construction madness. Each nuclear plant will have its own unique characteristics that will dictate the lawsuit strategy. There are hundreds more lawyers now compared to the 1970s, and we have far more laws on the books upon which to base lawsuits.

    Re 30 to 50 years, nope, more like 10 years tops to get them all shut down in an orderly manner. Unless an executive order is issued that shuts them down immediately based upon some urgent public health concern. One never knows…

  101. lanceman says:

    @Scott Brim “That’s a lot of paying work for the anti-nuclear lawyers, no doubt.”

    Well, Roger IS a lawyer….

  102. Roger Sowell says:

    I’ve posted this before, but here it is again.

    An excerpt from the Executive Summary: “. . . there is a major business risk nuclear power will be more costly than projected. Recent construction cost estimates imply capital costs/kWh (not counting operation or fuel costs) from 17-22 cents/kWh when the nuclear facilities come on-line. Another major business risk is nuclear’s history of construction delays. Delays would run costs higher, risking
    funding shortfalls. The strain on cash flow is expected to degrade credit ratings.
    Generation costs/kWh for new nuclear (including fuel & O&M but not distribution to customers) are likely to be from 25 – 30 cents/kWh. ”

    http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/nuclear-costs-2009.pdf

    These costs estimates do not include the costs to comply with new US regulatory requirements for the reactor, cooling system, and spent fuel storage area ALL to withstand a direct impact from a large commercial aircraft. That requirement will increase the costs of nuclear-generated power 10 to 15 percent above Severance’s estimate. Thus, fully-costed power from a new nuclear power plant will be 28 to 35 cents per kWh.

    Re the average cost of capital, lenders charge more when the risks are greater. Nuclear power plants incur significant risks of late completion, enormous cost over-runs of 2 or 3 or 4 times the initial estimate, materials and labor shortages and price escalations, legal fees, regulatory changes to incorporate lessons learned from ongoing nuclear disasters, public protests and construction disruption, and others. Partially mitigating all those is the government’s paltry loan guarantee for approximately one-third the cost at $8 billion per project.

    Not only lenders, but bond issuers will charge more for the same set of factors.

  103. Roger Sowell says:

    @harrywr2 — not sure if that crack at “math challenged attorneys” is directed at me or not. If it was, I’m confident in my math skills. So are my clients. Both engineering and legal clients. I might just surprise you with what I know about nuclear power. Or maybe not. It really is irrelevant.

  104. Doug Badgero says:

    “But, the usual plaintiffs’ issues will likely suffice – improper compliance with nuclear codes, inadequate environmental reviews, endangered species act violations, shoddy construction, shareholder derivative suits, and other such things as were used in the previous round of nuclear construction madness.”

    Finally, someone who is anti-nuclear who admits that the anti-nuclear movement is the reason nuclear construction costs exploded. So then, nuclear costs a lot to build because of you and yours. Kinda makes your anti-nuke ranting kind of a circular argument doesn’t it?

  105. Scott Brim says:

    Roger, my personal opinion is that you have no chance whatsoever of shutting down all of America’s nuclear reactors within a ten year time frame, unless the shutdown is dictated by the Congress or the Administration.

    That being said, I will say also that upfront capital costs are the biggest driver impeding new nuclear construction.

    America is no longer an industrial nation, and the costs of doing any kind of large-scale and complicated industrial project have grown substantially over the last two decades, for a host of specific reasons. These costs have grown at possibly 1-1/2 times the general rate of inflation over these last two decades, and are the primary reason why the next generation of plants will cost what they will cost.

    You say, ” ….. But, the usual plaintiffs’ issues will likely suffice – improper compliance with nuclear codes, inadequate environmental reviews, endangered species act violations, shoddy construction, shareholder derivative suits, and other such things as were used in the previous round of nuclear construction madness …”

    There are a wealth of lessons-learned from the project management mistakes made in the nuclear construction industry in the 1970s and early 1980s, and all of those lessons learned have been incorporated into the engineering and project planning for the latest generation of plants.

    And so when I hear that the kind of strategy that has been outlined above will be used once again to fight new construction; and knowing myself that these issues have been dealt with very effectively in the planning for new construction, I can only conclude that anti-nuclear lawyers are simply shaking down the nuclear industry for their own cut of the action.

  106. Roger Sowell says:

    @ leg re reasons for opposition to nuclear power:

    1. Costs too much to construct. Costs far too much to decommission.

    2. Is unsafe

    3. Creates a toxic legacy of spent nuclear fuel for future generations to deal with. Spent fuel is stored in crowded, unsafe water-filled pools.

    4. Produces plutonium, a fuel for nuclear weapons

    5. Cannot be built on schedule, forcing project owners to pay very high costs for substitute power until the plant finally does come on-line. (see e.g. City of Austin, Texas and City of San Antonio, Texas during the South Texas Nuclear Project fiasco).

    6. Consumes far more cooling water, a scarce resource and usually a river, compared to any alternative thermal power plant. Typically a nuclear power plant rejects 2000 MW of heat into the river, for each 1000 MW of electricity delivered. This is compared to only 800 MW of heat rejected to water for a natural gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant of 1000 MW electrical output.

    7. But most importantly, it creates huge problems for the little guy, who I defend as vigorously as I am able. The little guy who is typically struggling paycheck to paycheck, may be elderly and/or on a fixed income, or has a low income, and who has no options but to purchase grid power from the utility, even when that grid power price is zooming because of nuclear power.

    I refer to the Nuclear Death Spiral, see my blog at

    http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/2009/06/coming-nuclear-death-spiral.html

  107. Seriously Confused says:

    By the way, did anyone besides me notice that an oil refinery and gas storage facility caught fire during the first couple of hours of this crisis?
    Didn’t it cause massive destruction in its surrounds? Didn’t it kill some people? Has anyone yet started the call that oil refineries world wide be closed down? If not, why not????

  108. Roger Sowell says:

    @Doug Badgero on March 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    “Finally, someone who is anti-nuclear who admits that the anti-nuclear movement is the reason nuclear construction costs exploded. So then, nuclear costs a lot to build because of you and yours. Kinda makes your anti-nuke ranting kind of a circular argument doesn’t it?”

    Doug, no doubt some of the anti-nuclear sentiments and the higher costs in the first round of nuclear power plants (1960 – 85) were motivated by peaceniks and others. Perhaps even a few attorneys. I was not in that group, as I was off learning my craft as an engineer until 1978 then started my career as an eager engineer. The nuclear plants were all built and the lawsuits were in place long before I ever became an attorney.

    The shoddy construction was a major force, though. Would you, as a nuclear advocate, really have wanted nuclear plants built and operating that did NOT have all the welds properly x-rayed? That was exactly what went on in many plants. Would you like to have the nuclear plants built to standards less than the governing nuclear codes? The owners tried that, too. Would you like them built without the upgrades, and safety systems that the government dictated must be installed? That slowed them down a bit, also. That’s all I want, to have them built according to code, have them inspected properly as they are built, and incorporate every single safety feature required by law. If their owners and construction companies would do that, there would be few delays.

    The Finnish nuclear power plant being designed by Areva apparently cannot do any of that, and that is neither a US plant nor under US regulatory authority, nor built back in the 70s or 80s. It is under construction now. Their project is so far behind, the contractual parties are suing each other and have not set a completion date. That means they don’t even know when it will ever be complete, nor the final cost, either. What an industry… never can learn any lessons from previous projects.

    Makes me just a bit skeptical of the claim that lessons learned in the 70s are all applied to new designs.

  109. Doug Badgero says:

    Rejecting heat to water in a once through cycle is not “consuming water”.

    “7. But most importantly, it creates huge problems for the little guy, who I defend as vigorously as I am able. The little guy who is typically struggling paycheck to paycheck, may be elderly and/or on a fixed income, or has a low income, and who has no options but to purchase grid power from the utility, even when that grid power price is zooming because of nuclear power.”

    While fighting back the urge to BARF, I feel it necessary to point out that recent increases in electricity costs have been driven by commodity price increases and environmental costs. Nuclear costs have changed very little, quite frankly I think you already know this.

  110. @Roger

    Now let me get this straight. Dealing with radioactive materials does involve very real but well-understood dangers (I’ve worked in nukes, worn the protective clothing, been through decontamination, the whole nine yards). Activists of one sort or another greatly exaggerate these dangers, and in response regulators specify required actions that are, by any sort of rational risk analysis, grossly overcautious. Then because the nuclear industry complies with these regulations, that in itself is used as evidence that the nuclear engineers are understating the peril.

    Have I got that right? Circular logic, anyone? Would you rather trust a) a spokesman for the nuclear industry, or b) a lawyer? (Would you rather be eaten by a] a shark, or b] a tiger?) This is all nonsense; it’s not a question of whom you trust, but of what are the facts. If you have no time or inclination to dig out the facts, then just accept the result that your opinion is meaningless.

  111. Cory says:

    1. Costs too much to construct. Costs far too much to decommission.
    Costs are high due to safety analysis, safety systems installed, redundancy built into every system in the plant to make it safer.

    2. Is unsafe

    Relative to a cocoon yes, relative to something like the coal industry, its not even close. Just the mines alone have damaged the environment more than all nuke plants, much less all the pollution (of the particulate type) that they have expelled over the course of their existence. Counting numbers of people killed, its much the same.

    3. Creates a toxic legacy of spent nuclear fuel for future generations to deal with. Spent fuel is stored in crowded, unsafe water-filled pools.

    Fund Yucca mountain to finish it so the industry has somewhere to put the waste, or better yet, lift the ban so the industry can recycle and enrich the fuel to use it again.

    4. Produces plutonium, a fuel for nuclear weapons

    The US is reducing their nuclear weapon supply not expanding it. Should we also be scared of hydrogen creation since it is used in the more powerful hydrogen bomb?

    5. Cannot be built on schedule, forcing project owners to pay very high costs for substitute power until the plant finally does come on-line. (see e.g. City of Austin, Texas and City of San Antonio, Texas during the South Texas Nuclear Project fiasco).

    Refer to #1

    6. Consumes far more cooling water, a scarce resource and usually a river, compared to any alternative thermal power plant. Typically a nuclear power plant rejects 2000 MW of heat into the river, for each 1000 MW of electricity delivered. This is compared to only 800 MW of heat rejected to water for a natural gas-fired combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant of 1000 MW electrical output.

    Many plants also use cooling towers, man-made lakes, the ocean, or large cooling lagoons which have a closed loop cooling system. Also, how is adding heat to a river “consuming” water when everything taken in is discharged back to the river?

    If any new plants come online you will see a higher efficiency so there will be a higher electric output relative to the heat put in the river. Comparing efficiency of gas plants designed in the past 10 years to a nuke plant designed in the 60′s or 70′s is comparing apples to oranges.

    7. But most importantly, it creates huge problems for the little guy, who I defend as vigorously as I am able. The little guy who is typically struggling paycheck to paycheck, may be elderly and/or on a fixed income, or has a low income, and who has no options but to purchase grid power from the utility, even when that grid power price is zooming because of nuclear power.

    Nuclear power is by far from the most expensive input into the grid. If you want to argue cost, go after solar, wind, and taxes.

  112. Lorraine Lister says:

    Whether there has been an over reaction by the media or not is irrelevant. The fact remains that no-one can say that a nuclear power plant is safe, particularly in a country like Japan, so prone to earthquakes. The nuclear energy industry was a quick fix solution to supply countries with electricity. I would not trust a spokesperson from this industry anymore than I would trust one from the solar power or wind turbine industries to give an unbiased opinion. Nuclear power will probably turn out to be the scourge of the 20th and 21st centuries in one way or another. No nuclear power plant can be declared earthquake and tsunami proof because we cannot predict what would happen in an even more powerful earthquake than this latest one in Japan. Then there is the ongoing issue of nuclear waste, something else that will eventually have to be tackled in the years to come.

  113. Daniel H says:

    Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    An unrelated question: what are the Japanese women like? Are they as friendly toward men as I have been hearing?

    Yes, especially in the Kabukicho and Roppongi districts. But seriously, it depends on the man, like anywhere else. It’s easy for me because I’m 6’4″ and Japanese women are often in awe of my height, which naturally leads to friendly conversation (unlike say, in the US or Europe, where tall stature is not at all uncommon).

  114. Roger Sowell says:

    RE nuclear plants consuming cooling water, or river water. That probably is not clear until one knows the facts. I refer to one example, the South Texas Nuclear Plant which is located on the coast of Texas near Victoria, and the mouth of the Colorado River.

    Despite being near the Gulf of Mexico, the plant has a fresh water cooling system ( an evaporative pond) that is replenished by the Colorado River. The STNP has first call on water supplies from the river, and thus prevents anyone upriver from taking the water for any purpose. The amount of water the STNP takes is not for once-through cooling, it is for evaporative cooling in their cooling pond.

    As an aside, STNP required 13 years from start of construction (1975) to first commercial power generation (1988), and 14 years for the second reactor to generate power. The initial cost estimate was $974 million, the final cost to complete was around $5 billion. The cost overrun was approximately 6-to-1. Even after all that time and money, the plant was not right. Five years after startup, it was out of service for more than one year to resolve problems with the feedwater pumps.

    Steam-driven water pumps are a known, not difficult technology. One must seriously wonder why something as simple as steam turbines and water pumps could not be constructed properly the first time and had to be resolved later.

  115. Roger Sowell says:

    @ Cory: nope, I’ll stand by my statements. Let’s look at some of the cost differences between a nuke and a gas-fired power plant, for the same output of electricity.

    Heat Generation Area

    Natural gas: has a fire-box with multiple gas burners along the bottom or side wall near the bottom. Interior is lined with refractory for heat reflection. Exterior of walls lined with insulation and a metal weather-barrier. Viewports are provided to have a direct eye-view of the flames from the various burners. Steel or alloy tubes filled with water running vertically (usually) inside the firebox. I have personally stood next to hundreds of these, wearing only standard industrial safety gear and looked through the viewport right at the gas flame. Only the plastic eyeglasses were between my eye and the flame.

    Nuclear: nuclear pellets contained in multiple vertical alloy tubes arranged in geometric designs, spaced precisely so they don’t overheat and melt down. Moderator rods protrude between the rows of tubes to absorb neutrons and damp the reaction. A mechanised control system (VERY reliable) is installed to insert and remove the moderator rods. The reactor tubes are encased in a high-alloy steel shell made many inches thick to contain the nuclear fuel in the event of a meltdown (the reactor vessel). The reactor vessel, steam generators (if a Pressurized Water Reactor Design) are all enclosed in a thick reinforced concrete structure many feet thick and with a seriously thick floor, the Containment. Water is circulated through the reactor vessel to remove heat and produce steam.

    Steam generator is present for a PWR system. Steam for the turbine is produced here and sent off to the high pressure steam turbine.

    Note that none of this equipment is present in the natural gas power plant.

    Steam Generating Area

    Natural Gas: a boiler mud drum or steam drum exists to separate out the steam from the water. Analog in the PWR is the steam generator. The steam drum is smaller in the natural gas design because not as much steam is needed due to the much higher pressure.

    Nuclear reactor: steam generator, or the reactor vessel if a Boiling Water Reactor design.

    Turbine Area

    Natural Gas: a high pressure turbine and a low pressure turbine, with both being smaller than in the nuclear counterpart because less steam flows due to the higher initial pressure. In a power plant, higher steam pressure equates to less steam flow for a constant power output.

    Nuclear: a high pressure turbine and low pressure turbine, larger than in the natural gas design. If a BWR, the turbine is subjected to radiation from the steam. PWR this is not the case.

    Steam Condenser Area

    Natural Gas: smaller condenser due to less steam rate required.

    Nuclear: larger condenser due to more steam required.

    Boiler Feed Water Pumps and Motors or Steam Turbines

    Natural Gas: smaller pumps but higher pressure. Multiple pumps are required with backups.

    Nuclear: larger pumps due to higher water flow but lower pressure. Multiple pumps are required with backups.

    Generator Area:

    Both technologies have roughly the same size generator.

    Reactor Coolant System

    Natural Gas: does not exist, no need for this.

    Nuclear: is present to cool down the reactor after control rods are inserted.

    Cooling System for Condensers (typically a cooling tower)

    Natural Gas: cooling tower is smaller because less steam flow is required.

    Nuclear: cooling tower is larger because more steam flow is required.

    Spent Fuel Assembly Storage Area and coolant system

    Natural Gas: not present, not required.

    Nuclear: present, is required.

    Construction Details: x-ray required for critical welds in a nuclear power plant, not required for natural gas fired plant.

    Summary: there is much more equipment, and it is larger equipment, more expensive materials, and built to nuclear codes for the nuclear plant. It is not simply the lawsuits that make the nuclear plants more expensive, they are inherently much more expensive due to having much more equipment, much larger equipment, the design, the multiple redundancies required by law.

  116. lanceman says:

    @ RogerSowell

    “Sorry, not what those data show. R-squared is 0.11.”

    Twice nothing (0.05) is still nothing (0.11). Try defending a heat transfer correlation with an R-squared of 0.11 in a nuclear safety licensing presentation or a thesis defense (assuming your adviser would allow you to have his name associated with it).

    Hopefully, the plant instrumentation was working in the first few hours of the earthquake and tsunami and that data is retrievable. The tentative conclusions are:

    1. The plants performed extraordinarily well OUTSIDE THEIR DESIGN BASIS.
    2. For the degree of core damage and containment damage, remarkably low levels of activity escaped.
    3. This was not attributable to luck (other than the units that were already shut down). In fact, all the luck so far has been BAD.

    This accident was equivalent to a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle at 70 mph having a head on collision with a tractor trailer, its (backfitted) air bags deployed with the passengers badly bruised only to be hit by another tractor trailer. The paramedics have yet to get the passengers out.

    Having said this, I think the US nuclear renaissance was in trouble even before this event. No one will risk (their own) precious capital of $10 billion for plants that will take years to build to possibly face depressed electricity demand from a prolonged economic slump. Possibly, the few plants getting loan guarantees will actually go on line. No matter how rational the arguments are, the events in Japan have probably sowed enough doubt among the US public to withdraw support for nuclear power.

    I think the nuclear industry made a big mistake in climbing on the global warming bandwagon. Another mistake was the continuing emphasis on the large, light water reactor concept. These designs need large amounts of capital that make them too risky for private enterprise. And if an energy source needs subsidies, to me that is an indication that something is wrong.

    What I would like to see is some sort of “X-Prize” competition for a small (< 100 MWt) nuclear power design that culminate with scale tests in the Idaho desert that simulate (after 1 year of "normal" operation to get economic/performance data) an earthquake (using hydraulics?), loss of coolant, loss of electrical power or whatever challenges the specific design. One of evaluation the criteria would be the radiation released as measured by prepositioned dosimeters. This may be the only way to convince the public to accept them.

  117. Roger Sowell says:

    @lanceman: re data correlation coefficient.

    Again, perhaps this is not making sense, the data is what the data is. You mention heat transfer coefficient data – I have considerable experience with that and know that the data from operating heat exchangers is all over the map. Drawing trend lines is questionable, and only our engineering experience would show the proper path through that data. Many times the R-squared was less than 0.1.

    You might be interested, as you appear to be an engineer, in the original Fanning friction factor charts. Our professor in undergrad produced Fanning’s hand-drawn and plotted chart and showed it to us in class. The chart has a series of smooth lines in all the textbooks, yet had data all over the chart on his original document. The renowned professor not only accepted his work but awarded Fanning an “A.” R-squared was on the low side. Fanning did the work at University of Texas in Austin, on the lawn right outside my classroom. So much for only high r-squared work having any value. The Fanning friction factor is fundamental in any fluid flow calculation.

    Obtaining heat transfer results from an operating cooling tower also has notoriously scattered results. Yet, design engineers produce acceptable designs for these systems time after time. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop.

    R-squared is highly over-rated. You and I will obviously not agree on this point, so I suggest we leave it at that. My experience (very successful) is that r-squared is not of much importance. Yours is apparently the opposite. My work with such data allowed refineries and chemical plants and power plants to operate smoothly and much more profitably – in spite of having low r-squared valued for almost all of the data.

  118. Chuck Blandford says:

    …….not to mention the depletion of the iodine pill reserves.

  119. Glenn says:

    Breaking news, air is to be released from the suppression pool of the #3 reactor as a result of rising pressure, it is expected that this air is radioactive and fire and power cable workers are to be evacuated.

    What is air doing in the reactor?

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20_18.html?play

  120. Glenn says:

    “The IAEA seems to accept that things are settling down: a senior official at the agency tells Reuters that the situation is now “reasonably stable”.”

    One thing that has been reasonably stable is that winds have been almost exclusively blowing offshore for the last week.

    That has changed, westerly winds are forecast to be predominate for the next few days. Can wind direction ever be “stable”?

    And now there are concerns that the #3 reactor might blow if pressure is not released, leading to the release of more radioactive gas into the air.

    “Reasonably stable” is an expression that appears to be motivated by either propaganda or ignorance of the status of at least one reactor.

    Hopefully this race to restore function to the plant will be successful before surrounding areas are poisoned even more.

  121. Glenn

    I have heard that a power line from the grid has been run to #1 and #2. They are first planning to use that for pumping water for reactors and cooling ponds–if the report I heard is correct.

    Thanks for the update about #3.

  122. Ralph says:

    >>Roger Sowell
    >>Dividing out, (1200 divide by 0.59) yields 2,016 man-hours per barrel.
    >>That is a far cry from your original assertion that a barrel of oil contains
    >>100,000 man-hours of work.

    You forgot to add in the work done by the horses – the plough does not plough itself. Add in four horses per ploughman (or 50 extra men per ploughman) and I think you will end up with about the 100,000 man hours of work per barrel of oil I mentioned previously.

    In other words, oil and nuclear power are tremendous energy sources that sustain our society. Without them, civilisation would wither and die, and 99% of our population would have to die with it.

    So when you are out there, campaigning for an end to nuclear power, consider yourself to be a proponent of genocide by proxy.

    .

  123. Andy Dawson says:

    “Breaking news, air is to be released from the suppression pool of the #3 reactor as a result of rising pressure, it is expected that this air is radioactive and fire and power cable workers are to be evacuated.

    What is air doing in the reactor?”

    It’s not. It’s in the primary containment/suppression system, just as it’s meant to be. Which, incidentally was feared daamged earlier. Since it’s holding about 2-3 bars pressure, I think we can discount the idea it’s breached.

    And they’ve subsequently postponed/ cancelled that. Which, I suspect is because it’s now anticipated that they’ll have power back even to reactor #3, which would allow them to get the secondary heat removal systems back on line, and depressurise it that way.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Stabilisation_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_2003111.html

    <>

  124. Roger Sowell says:

    @ Ralph, nice try. Changing the goalposts is a classic tactic of those who…. well…didn’t win. Add in horses! Next, why not add in the labor to make the plows! Then the labor to grow the food for the horses, and the men! And the labor to construct the harnesses! And the labor to make the men’s clothes! And their shoes! And can’t forget the horseshoes, all that iron and coal and blacksmith labor! And the labor to bring water to the horses!

    Oil is required, nuclear is not. It’s as simple as that.

    As to promoting genocide, that’s hilarious! One can only wonder how the world managed in the millions of years before the first nuclear reactor came online. Surely, it was impossible because, per your belief, no nuclear power equates to genocide.

    In the alternative, starting from 1945 with the first nuclear reactors, only those states with nuclear power plants can possibly prosper. All the states without nuclear reactors are doomed, doomed I say! to full genocide of all their citizens. Why don’t you send the alert to them. Here’s the list: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. You’ll be doing them a favor, alerting them to the imminent peril of perishing. Good luck with that.

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