Japan: Radiation leak confirmed, meltdown fears, evacuation near nuclear plant widens (UPDATED)

Discuss

228 Responses to “Japan: Radiation leak confirmed, meltdown fears, evacuation near nuclear plant widens (UPDATED)”

  1. prentiz says:

    Further to previous from BBC news ticker:

    1202: Government spokesman says the nuclear reactor container at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant has not been damaged, and the level of radiation has dropped following the explosion earlier on Saturday, AFP reports.

  2. eli says:

    Is James Lovelock available for comment? Did someone try to reach him? Please, let us know.

  3. Mister44 says:

    Efficiency comes with the advancements in the the technology.

    Geothermal I think is the most viable of the ‘green’ energy sources. But my point still is – are those technologies ready for the ‘big show’ now? 50-100 years down the line I have little doubt that they will be major players.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      The only reason that I see that they are not, is subsidies and interference from “profitable” (read: centralized) technologies like nuclear, gas, and coal.

      Why make a million on waves when you can make 5 million on gas? How would you -ever- justify it to the shareholders?

  4. betatron says:

    since we’re all mentioning it, i have the nucular creds, with lots of criticalit time and have integrated many many EFPH, I have more than three decades of control room time, running giga$$ facilities.

    So…just to clarify in a few minds what that exploded. That was the containment building not the containment vessel that we saw on video. The containment vessel is also called teh pressure vessel, its’ made of steel. The containment building is concrete, much much larger, and designed to contain all of the evolved gasses and steam from the reactor.

    Obviously it failed. This is something of a “what else can go wrong” moment, the CB was obviously weakened by the quake. This was certainly a hydrogen explosion. The main effect here is that any further RX venting will discharge basically straight into the air; otoh, there won’t be any more H2 booms.

    There has been some deterioration of fuel elements based on the detection of Cs et alia isotopes, but we still have pretty good circumstantial evidence that a full-blown meltdown hasn’t occurred.

    Venting gas, while normally an unforgivable breech of op procedure, helps by removing a lot of energy from the core; if they can inject enough water into the plant to keep the core covered, the venting will, in and of itself, be sufficient to carry off the decay heat. Very suboptimal, but sufficient.

    On a sober note, the situation is approaching the boundary where men may have to give their lives to save the plant. It is difficult to know when/if, or whether it would even help, but it’s becoming an increasingly more likely possibility.

    At this point, success will be defined by keeping the containment vessel intact, and i still have every confidence that they will succeed.

    • Cowicide says:

      I have more than three decades of control room time, running giga$$ facilities.

      Homer Simpson? Is that you? But seriously, thanks for your input!

    • Antennapedia says:

      So… Okay, I’m not an expert at all, but I have had to do some research on fission reactors for my job. Do you know why the reactor wasn’t scrammed immediately? Shouldn’t shoving the control rods all the way in have stopped the reaction and allowed the temperature to drop, obviating the need for coolant? Or was it scrammed and this is carryover heat that, with no coolant circulation, has over pressurized the containment vessel?

      • betatron says:

        The Rx scrammed immediately. But in a reactor, decay heat of the fission daughter products continues for days. And its a _very_ significant source of heat.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        i’m no expert, but fwiw the problem seems carry-over heat, as the control rods are fully inserted….the power systems for the circulation of coolant either failed, or were otherwise compromised in their operation.

        I’m hopeful, but then again, I always am.

  5. TEKNA2007 says:

    It’s hard to see how the remaining frame could have been part of the concrete containment shell .. it seems like anything blasting apart that much concrete would have taken the frame with it. It makes sense that that would just be an outer building to keep the weather off the equipment.

    However .. where did the explosion come from? Could an explosion that violent come from venting through a valve, without destroying the valve?

    • betatron says:

      Boom came from H2+O2 disassociated in the Rx, vented through pressure relief valves into the containment building. very high heat, very very very intense radiation — water will just fall apart. (this is a process that normal un-fucked reactors deal with all the time as part of normal process ops)

      Now what caused to to go boom? probably a spark. But maybe NOT from whence you think… not necessarily a wire.

      The spark could have come from static electricity buildup from the intense radiation field.

      • TEKNA2007 says:

        @betatron: Thanks for that. It’s nice to have speculative curiosity answered by someone with actual .. what’s the term .. knowledge.

  6. Martin_L says:

    German public broadcast (ARD) just stated that the Japanese agency for nuclear facilites security has confirmed a meltdown at the plant

    http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/fukushima126.html (German News)

  7. George William Herbert says:

    I think that it would be useful to take a step back.

    The reactor didn’t explode. Part of the building it’s in – a machine room above the reactor’s concrete and steel containment block itself – exploded from a hydrogen / air mixture released in the emergency cooling process. Didn’t keep them from continuing to cool the reactor itself. Radiation releases so far are nothing to laugh at, but also nowhere near catastrophic. People should move away but not panic.

    The reactor still could melt down, but having operational pumps and putting boron and seawater in should manage it.

    The reactor disaster is worthy of attention, but more important is the actual loss from the tsunami. There are whole villages and medium cities which are largely gone – tends or hundreds of thousands of people. It’s not as bad as Haiti probably, but it’s pretty bad.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      You are spot on…the nuclear accident, though interesting, is very very far from being the whole story here.

      This is a truly mournful day.

  8. George William Herbert says:

    The slow-motion closeup of the explosion shows both a clear shockwave going upwards (you can see the condensation front) and a flash within what was the structure. Those are consistent with a hydrogen gas explosion within the outer building (not the reactor container itself, but the building that is inside).

    Heat and chemical reactions in this type of cooling event create hydrogen gas, from the water within the reactor. This is normal and a known risk. There are usually systems to handle and vent it safely. With the degree of trouble they were having apparently it remained within the outer building here, and something sparked it off and it exploded.

    Hydrogen in air has an explosive range of something like 3% to 90% concentrations (my copy of the data book is in another room, but that’s from memory). So anything more than a trivial amount, up to any realistic quantity, and you can get a gas explosion, with the oxygen in the air.

    Pressure is going to be relatively low – hundreds or thousands of PSI blast front pressure, versus millions or tens of millions of PSI for solid chemical explosives. But that’s energetic enough to blow the sheet steel roof and walls clean to oblivion, about what we saw there on video.

  9. Joseph Hertzlinger says:

    In order for nuclear waste to be unacceptably dangerous, we must make the following two assumptions:

    1) There is no safe dose of radioactivity.

    2) We should be concerned about future generations for the indefinite future.

    If we accept both of those, it is easy to see that we must use up the dangerous natural uranium in reactors as soon as possible. Each uranium atom will release 50 MeV before it decays to lead over the next few billion years. The nuclear fission products will release half that.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      We’ll eventually just fire our nuclear waste – if indeed we don’t keep re-processing it – into the sun using magnetic rail guns.

      True, it would be a little difficult to get the permits for that at present.

      We’ll need to improve the safety factor first i suppose.

  10. George William Herbert says:

    The translated tagesschau page does not claim a meltdown. Nor do the Japanese pages.

    The chief cabinet minister was on NHK a bit ago, stating that the explosion was in the outer building and not the reactor container itself, which was confirmed still intact.

    I’ll take straight from a senior government official over an apparently mistranslated other country source.

    It COULD surely melt down or breach. Nobody with any experience will deny that that’s possible. But rumors of much worse than what’s actually happened do not help anyone. The Japanese are being clear that it’s not a meltdown, as of the TV I’m seeing now live.

    • Cowicide says:

      But rumors of much worse than what’s actually happened do not help anyone.

      Right, but I think we can both agree it’s probably a very good idea to get the hell out of that area.

  11. Martin_L says:

    I hope you are right and there is no meltdown. However, the link was to an older news, latest news translated via Google is here: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tagesschau.de%2Fausland%2Ffukushima126.html&act=url

    • Martin_L says:

      Update speaks of “conflicting” news:

      “Conflicting data on meltdown
      The Japanese authorities publish conflicting information on the situation in the Fukushima nuclear power plant first It is currently unclear whether there was in the schedule to a meltdown or not.

      Several Japanese television reported, citing a government spokesman said that a “meltdown started,” did. This information is also called ARD correspondent Robert Hetkämper in Tokyo. The government and the competent authorities accuse the other hand, smoke candles.”

      http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tagesschau.de%2Fausland%2Ffukushima130.html&act=url

      • a_user says:

        As I say I’m looking at what the authorities are doing rather than what they say. To be fair they are dealing with the effects of a massive earthquake as well.

        There is of course the angle that the various departments are not communicating effectively and there for hindering progress, which was used by Japanese media as a stick to beat those involved in cleaning up Kobe, which could be being hinted at here though from what I’ve seen the lessons were learned well.

        And I still say 24 hour rolling news needs aren’t helping.

  12. carriem says:

    yeesh, education is important when arguing a point. Someone is making an ass of themselves through ignorance and misdirection.

    Chernobyl is NOT THE SAME as this reactor. 3 Mile Island is NOT THE SAME as this reactor.

    1) Different design (RBMK, PWR vs BWR)
    2) Different radioactive biproducts, including
    3) Different isotopes (leading to different half-lives and different time dependent effects)
    4) Different fault scenario (human error vs natural catastrophe)

    It’s really ignorant to draw comparisons between the three. I understand why one would, but honestly, it’s like comparing The Hindenburg to hurricane Katrina.

    I suppose since hydroelectric dams aren’t “safe” we should get rid of them too. I mean, 1000s of people die EACH YEAR due to swimming into a dam intake or drowning during a dam release. They are SO DANGEROUS we should stop using them. Obviously. THEY CAN’T BE CONTROLLED.

    ..Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

  13. a_user says:

    The feeling I’m getting is that the authorities aren’t being specific because they’re hoping to avoid a mass panic.

    ie the police stopped a bbc journo 60km from the Fukushima plant from going any closer.

    • Cowicide says:

      Yeah, the terminology of about 4-5 hours ago from TEPCO that “it was determined that a specific incident stipulated in article 15, clause 1 has occurred“. That’s rather cryptic.

      So after some minor digging, I found this:

      Specific incident stipulated in article 15, clause 1 has occurred = “First Level Emergency”

      Last they updated, seems radiation is increasing as there’s off-site loss of power and even the backup generator has failed. How do they remedy this situation without any power? Have they fixed the backup generator yet, and if they can’t do it soon… well, that can NOT be good. And white smoke is coming out after another aftershock.

      Once again, I wouldn’t hang around that area and I wouldn’t rely on the United States media who appears (on the most part) to be downplaying the threat at this point. It’s never good to panic, but it’s obviously a good idea to calmly GTFO.

      • Cowicide says:

        Speaking of which, I wish the U.S. media downplayed the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the buildup to the Iraq war as much as they are collectively downplaying the nuclear threat in Japan right now.

        I’m sure this nuclear “problem” doesn’t fit the narrative we’ve been presented about the safety of nuclear power, but um…. aren’t lives at stake here?

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Come on now, no body’s been “hiding” Chernobyl for the past quarter of a century, and the US builds no nuclear plants, anyhow.

          And btw, the US Media has never determined reality, although they may studiously ignore or refuse to discuss such, at times.

          And this is not the time for discussions concerning the differences between “perceived” and “actual” reality.

          Media studies can wait, until after the physics of the current situation have been dealt with.

          Never complain about a situation while it is yet ongoing, because it never helps. Usually quite the reverse, in fact.

          Once the bad situation no longer obtains, then let the criticisms rip.

          But so far, as far as i can see, this incident merely reinforces what was known already: that the power supplies for the shut-down coolant systems must be very very robust, and remain capable of local on-site generation throughout whatever circumstances may arise.

          Quadruple redundancy?

          • Cowicide says:

            so far, as far as i can see, this incident merely reinforces what was known already: that the power supplies for the shut-down coolant systems must be very very robust

            And nothing else was learned.

          • travtastic says:

            If you have to have quadruple redundancy to ensure that you don’t create a no-man’s land tens of kilometers wide after an accident, shouldn’t that tell you something?

          • Cowicide says:

            If you have to have quadruple redundancy to ensure that you don’t create a no-man’s land tens of kilometers wide after an accident, shouldn’t that tell you something?

            Right, I doubt they expanded the evacuation area to 20 kilometers for nothing.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Done out of a laudable abundance of caution.

          • travtastic says:

            Here’s video of the explosion. (Scroll down a screen or so)

            I can tell you that had I seen that, I would not have needed an abundance of caution to get out of there.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Yeah.

            For some, a little dab is enough.

          • travtastic says:

            Apparently the old evacuation radius, which was I believe 9,000 feet or something similar, necessitated the evacuation of 51,000 people.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            it simply tells you you need quadruple redundancy as a safety factor.

            To be sure, the richter scale is open-ended at the top: and asteroids may strike too.

            Are you seriously suggesting that France shut down the source of 80% of its electricity?

            Or that all nuclear power units everywhere be shut down, and their use forbidden?

            We have always had to, and ever will have to, work around the so-called “acts of god” which afflict us from time to time on our little planet.

          • travtastic says:

            Are you suggesting that I’m suggesting that we stop all nuclear power plants at once, without waiting for an immediate replacement to be engineered?

            Because that would be kind of silly, wouldn’t it?

          • travtastic says:

            Dude, do you work for the industry all of a sudden or something?

            Nuclear power is a non-renewable resource, running off of fuel so hazardous it can kill you in seconds if you get close enough to a reactor’s worth. There is no known way to make the waste less hazardous once you create it. It then has to be buried under a mile of rock. I live in what would have been the Zone of Exclusion around Three Mile Island, which is a high-tech US reactor that came within maybe an hour or less of full or partial meltdown. This would be a depopulated wasteland right now if it had.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            3 mile island was high tech in 1975 – we’ve come a long way babym , and fast, since then.

            i am, perhaps, more aware than you about global warming and how we shall have to change our ways of life as a result.

            http://www.climate4you.com/

            Nukes are necessary as a power source to replace fossil (co2 generating) fuels.

            it’s that simple.

            If not this century, then in the next.

            May as well get on with it now.
            The longer something is allowed to roll down a hill (increased co2 concentration in the atmosphere, in our case), the harder it becomes to get it back up to the top.

            And the USA in particular has been almost criminally tardy in addressing its co2 emissions per capita, and Canada has been no better.

            No nukes?
            Then on current trends, then temperatures on earth = temperatures on venus, in five hundred or a thousand years’ time.

            if it is a case of “pick yer poison”….i’ll go with the nukes.

          • Cowicide says:

            No nukes? Then on current trends

            Fear mongering, how quaint. There are green alternatives to nukes. They aren’t nearly as efficient and will be tremendously expensive and won’t be fun, but they also aren’t as efficient as killing machines, are they?

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            The power engineers know the numbers much better than I do.

            “Alternative” energies are inadequate for our supply by at least an order of magnitude, perhaps more, iirc.

            There is at present no alternative.

          • travtastic says:

            “Alternative” energies are inadequate for our supply by at least an order of magnitude, perhaps more, iirc.

            First off, they are alternative energy. You don’t have to put quotes around the word.

            Second, what do you mean by inadequate? Current generation levels? That they will never produce enough electricity? Your nuclear plants have gotten a bit of a head-start in progress, no? Is it fair to compare them?

          • Cowicide says:

            Well, with solid evidence like that, who can argue… sigh….

          • travtastic says:

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

            The low cost of nuclear power is a pipe dream. It may be cheaper than our current alternatives, but the cost of the alternatives has been dropping dramatically for years. And the alternatives do not kill you when they fail.

          • Cowicide says:

            That was basically my point, yes.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            It ain’t a question of $$ cost (what would oil cost if there were profound peace throughout the Middle East? How much lower than today?), it’s the broadcast pollution from the petroleum burning….the environmental cost…nuke waste is a problem, but it is point-form and local, by contrast.

            i’m for nuke power, because I am an environmentalist:

            http://news.cnet.com/From-ecowarrior-to-nuclear-champion/2008-13840_3-6228461.html?tag=st.num

            I once felt differently about nuke power but started changing my mind when i first heard about global warming, back in 1982.

          • travtastic says:

            You know that I’m not an oil-executive, right?

            I don’t like oil. I don’t like coal. I don’t like nuclear.

          • Cowicide says:

            That’s exactly what an oil-executive would say. ;D

          • travtastic says:

            Damn! I guess this alias is shot now!

          • travtastic says:

            Has Canada been made aware that there are non-nuclear, renewable energy options available?

            And please, I’m an American named Trav. Not George W. Bush. I do understand how climate change works.

          • Ipo says:

            Fukushima nuke plant was built in 1971, and was hi-tech a few years before then.
            Phasing out of radioactive power would be nothing but necessary for the survival of most species. Why are you nuke supporters such technophobes?

            Renewable energy would certainly suffice eventually. Germany would make that jump by 2030 at the latest – but let’s see how hard the nuke-lobby fights it.

          • Tzctboin says:

            Not only that. It is uneconomical.

            Pretty much all nuclear power everywhere (yeah, even in the US, the commies have won and USians don’t know it) is subsidied by the state.

            Somebody above commented about France’s dependency on this source of energy like if it was a good thing ….

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            And petroleum-based transportation systems have not been subsidized?

          • travtastic says:

            Unless you have a breeder reactor in your car, I don’t understand what you’re getting at.

            Subsidies should be used to speed up the introduction of better technology. When that tech is mature, they should be removed. It doesn’t matter what the industry is.

          • Bevatron Repairman says:

            It does not need to buried at all. The French don’t bury it. They have it in a very well designed warehouse about 30 miles outside of Paris. And they get, what, 80% of their baseload from atomic power?

          • travtastic says:

            Storage sheds are an excellent long-term solution to waste disposal.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            No they are not: and you have indeed put your finger on the problem, as far as I am concerned – the long-term disposal or processing of the waste from nuclear power generation, not earthquakes or mad bombers.

            OTOH, it is good to see the engineers properly challenged.
            In my experience, they can get up to mischief otherwise.

          • travtastic says:

            So why should we partially solve a near-to-intermediate term problem like climate change (which we can fix a dozen other ways) with a solution that will continue polluting for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years?

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Polluting a cave, not the entire planet. This stuff doesn’t move much, judging from the fossil nuclear reactors of Oklo, Gabon:

            “A remarkable thing about the Oklo reactors is that the highly radioactive waste products stayed put without the elaborate containment we use today on nuclear power plant waste. More than a billion years later, everything is contained within a few meters of its source.”

            From:

            http://tucsoncitizen.com/wryheat/2011/03/11/a-nuclear-explosion-on-mars/

            The scientific paper from which that quote comes, is available via a link at the article just cited.

            Nuclear waste is a compact solid, while the pollution from burning fossil fuels is broadcast indiscriminately.

            Which makes the former seem worse than it truly is, and the latter seem better than it truly is, in their effects on the health of our eco-systems.

          • travtastic says:

            I honestly don’t understand why you think it’s a great idea to replace a globally polluting technology with a locally polluting technology.

            We have alternative energy available. You can go out and buy it for your house right now.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            that ‘local;pollution’is the ONLY pollution…and taking energy from the wind may also have some consequences on the health of birds, and others too, if it is to be adopted on the massive scale which you are advocating.

            Do you propose to run aluminium smelters using wind-generated stored battery power?

            I’m not talking about running a beer fridge…..

          • travtastic says:

            I have this crazy idea that we should simultaneously produce clean energy, and not waste so much of it. I don’t understand what individual point-sources of power use have to do with the grid as a whole.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            well i do use wind/solar power on the boat, and solar at the cottage….but i am thinking about the whole grid, and the whole earth, in my comments here relating to nuclear power.

            Residential and personal power use is not really what I’m getting at.

            Nature has provided us with a uniquely energy-intensive substance, energy already bound into a stable form…and we ought to free it, use it.

            But yes, the waste is a problem, and yes, these plants must be properly engineered to a very high very robust standard.

            Nevertheless….

          • Ipo says:

            Do you propose to run aluminium smelters using wind-generated stored battery power?

            I’m not talking about running a beer fridge…..
            Ooh, that was naive, how embarrassing. I bet you wish you could take that back.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Only somewhat.

            Some activities require far more power than others…and as stated, i actually DO use alternative tech to help power MY beer fridges.

          • travtastic says:

            So you’re defending nuclear waste disposal by comparing it to a natural but similar site, which the article compares to one that detonated on Mars with an equivalent force of a Gigaton.

            And I’m wondering how this “It’s the best we have in the short term!” conversation would compare to one spoken in the 1950s, if we replaced “nuclear” with “oil”, or “coal”.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            The full costs of oil and coal use are only now becoming apparent.

            And those costs are why nukes are essential to the future.

          • brain0naut says:

            i´m really sorry to write that; but what the heck is wrong with you? you really don´t get it, arent you? dont get me wrong but how you argue here is quite silly.
            or is the question: who the heck pays you?
            & thats just a simple question.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Nobody pays me; the energy density of a pound of uranium is the same as that of 20000 pounds of coal.

            Paid?

            On the contrary: nature herself has dictated my opinion – imho, of course.

            Why should i need to be paid, for simply seeking to repay what i owe her, for simply doing what my duty requires that i do for her?

          • Bevatron Repairman says:

            The oft-heard criticism I’ve heard of Yucca Mountain is that water tables might change over the next 30,000 years or what have you. Fair enough, but it seems a far better bet than what we’re doing now: storing high level nuclear waste at 100+ facilities around the country.

          • travtastic says:

            Or you could, you know, not produce the stuff.

          • Ipo says:

            They store nuclear waste in Castor containers in “barns” untill they find a safe place to put it for it’s final rest. They’ve been looking for one of those safe places all over for 40 years or so now.

          • Cowicide says:

            You tried this yet?

          • Cowicide says:

            But so far, as far as i can see, this incident merely reinforces what was known already: that the power supplies for the shut-down coolant systems must be very very robust, and remain capable of local on-site generation throughout whatever circumstances may arise.

            So…. here we are… March 15th…. would you like to recant that statement now or be completely delusional?

            http://www.news24.com/World/News/Japan-nuclear-reactor-cooling-system-fails-20110314

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            I stand by that statement…had the coolant system power supply been robust enough to have withstood the quake/tsunami, this plant would not be going through what it is now.

            The coolant system failed: these are the consequences of that failure being played out.

            in what ways was my statement you quoted “delusional”?

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            in fact, you change the word “merely” to “strongly”, in my passage which you have quoted.

            So now in the light of the past few days, it ought to read thusly:

            “This incident strongly reinforces what was known already: that the power supplies for the shut-down coolant systems must be very very robust, and remain capable of local on-site generation throughout whatever circumstances may arise”

            For had those coolant systems remained operational, the subsequent series of events would not have transpired, nor be yet transpiring.

        • Anonymous says:

          To our Nuclear physicist friend …. there was no redundancy built into their system, as evidenced by the core breach that just happened.(Duhhh, adjacent to a major tectonic plate – idiots thought they were bullet proof, arrogance).

          Even a low-grade Chernobyl-type incident is significant. Not a nuclear physicist, but a good enough engineer / biologist to suggest that, “this isn’t a small problem.”

          This nuclear fallout is now airborne, headed to the US western seaboard. Lots of baby boomers in the US with reduced or low thyroid production/insufficiency, as evidenced by lots of obesity – radioactive iosotopes injury throid/adrenal glands. Do the math here Doc. Would you personally get within one mile of this disaster? Please.

          I’d say that’s a damn sight more important than speculating, and using a minimalist approach. We have lots of young people in the US with poor iodine intake. It’s like the sixties weapons shots in Nevada. Lots of folks exposed, no long term follow up on thyroid insufficiency /cancer/obesity statistics. Conjecture? Hardly. Doc

  14. travtastic says:

    Man, I can’t wait until we get some more of these things in the US!

    Coal is nasty, and renewable energy is for hippies, I want my power from sources so dangerous that you have to bury them under mountains when you’re done!

    You know it’s good energy when you have to develop signs warning people of fatal exposure after the future fall of civilization.

  15. a_user says:

    good info here

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

    they just had a expert on explaining what caused the explosion which was confirmed by Japanese government tweets

    1320: Noriyuki Shikata, from Japanese PM’s office tweets: “TEPCO’s [Tokyo Electric Power Company] efforts to depressurize the container was successful. Additional measures are now taken tonight using sea water and boric acid. ”
    #
    1318: Newsreader on Japan’s NHK says: “Right now we are feeling an aftershock.”
    #
    1316: Noriyuki Shikata, deputy cabinet secretary for public relations for the Japanese prime minister tweets: “Blast was caused by accumulated hydrogen combined with oxygen in the space between container and outer structure. No damage to container.”

  16. Cowicide says:

    1320? You mean, 1:20 PM? Much has happened since then (see above).

  17. a_user says:

    that’s UK time – 10 mins ago Japan time

  18. Cowicide says:

    Japan nuke plant ‘in meltdown’

    Japan warned that one of its nuclear plants may be in meltdown after a record quake and tsunami wiped out a swathe of the northeast, leaving more than 1,000 people feared dead.
    Reactor cooling systems failed at two plants after Friday’s record 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit, unleashing a terrifying 10-metre (33-foot) high wave that tore through coastal towns and cities, destroying all in its path. Kyodo News agency said radioactive caesium had been detected near the Quake-hit atomic plant Fukushima No. 1, about 250 kilometres (160 miles) northeast of Tokyo, citing the Japanese nuclear safety commission. The plant “may be experiencing nuclear meltdown”, Kyodo and Jiji reported.

    • a_user says:

      The problem is the lack of clear information being given out by the media vs the level of trust the general public has over TEPCO and government issued statements, due to less than stellar performance in the past.

      This is compounded by the 24 hour rolling news business which needs dramatic bylines.

      • TEKNA2007 says:

        The problem is the lack of clear information

        Right, and there are plenty of sources of confusion here. Apparently there are two separate nuclear plants having problems:

        Fukushima Dai-ichi, a.k.a. Fukushima No. 1 or Fukushima I
        Fukushima Daini, a.k.a. Fukushima No. 2 or Fukushima II

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

        There’s also the fact that each of those two plants has multiple reactors, referred to by unit number or sometimes just by number in news reports, which is very confusing.

        According to Wikipedia, Fukuskimi No. 1 has a total of six units, with two more planned/under construction

        Apparently the explosion in the video was at Fukushima No. 1, Unit 1.

        And, some number of other units at Fukushima No. 1 are also having cooling problems. (Maybe just one other.)

        There’s also the way news reports talk about the various containment structures without really having a vocabulary. This calls for a diagram showing the structure of those tall rectangular buildings. (Anyone?)

        Finally there was the first press release from Japanese officials about the situation at Fukushima No. 1: nothing to worry about, everything under control, go about your business. As soon as I read that, I was thinking “omg theyre screwed now.” (I looked again .. that first press release has been disappeared.) Why scientists have learned not to trust politicians: because scientists use words to convey useful information, but politicians use words to influence the behavior of others.

  19. a_user says:

    you know what’s wierd? watching live tv when the news reader comments on feeling an after shock at the same moment you’re feeling it.

  20. IrishmanErrant says:

    As a radiation worker myself, this is very bad. It’s not Chernobyl, but it’s bad. If they can’t cool these plants down as soon as possible (not an easy thing to do in a cracked containment facility) and the core gets too hot, this will be a meltdown, and one of the worst ever. People more than, say a mile out really don’t have anything to worry about, but it’s scary as hell for us in the know.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, I don’t believe your a “radiation worker”. They vented the plants and there was some radiation in the steam. As you should notice there is no mention of the level of radioactivity but its most realistic to assume it’s not much higher if at all over normal background radiation. Most of the reporting on this situation has been completly sensational and is playing off peoples lack of knowledge of how nuclear power works or what radiation is. The media seems to think big quack and tsunami arnt enough of a story this time. The facts are the plant is not going to and can not explode in any way, radiation is not leaking from the building because of some uncontained reaction, steam was only vented and the worst case is the reacktor becomes unusable but all radiation comeing directly from that will be contained.

      • Mark Dow says:

        Not according to TEPCO, who presumably know the situation best. They report above background radiation outside of the plant.

        “Measurement of radioactive material (Iodine, etc.) by monitoring car indicates increasing value compared to normal level. One of the monitoring posts is also indicating higher than normal level.”

        It seems they are the only party that is up-front without official double-speak.

      • IrishmanErrant says:

        Believe it. I work at the research reactor at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Not a power generating plant, but we go through the same safety indoctrination. My point above is not that it’s currently “leaking radiation”, which is a concept that the media overplays, as if radiation is a thing that can spread, rather than contaminated material, which is the real danger. But I’m digressing. This plant is lacking any form of coolant, backup or otherwise (although I read that the US has been supplying emergency material?). If’d you have read my comment more carefully, I said this wasn’t Chernobyl. There probably won’t be an explosion, but a coolant failure like this is still a bad thing. The fact that they have to vent the plants means something has gone seriously wrong.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Too bad, earlier reports seemed to indicate that everything would be ok. Our hearts are with you Japan, and we hope this disaster ends soon so the rebuilding can start.

  22. benher says:

    This is the old reactor – not one of the newer ones. The cooling system has failed and the internal pressure is over 200% past the safety limits. They are slowly releasing pressure (and radiation) to try to prevent an even worse disaster, but things are already going in a terrible direction.

    Thanks to BB for all your support of Japan and your coverage of the unfolding disaster. (Danny Choo, former BB guest blogger has also been providing a helpful English twitter stream of events and information) Once again, if anyone here has any more thoughts, prayers, or positive feelings to spare, please send them our way. We are going to need them.

    • lewis stoole says:

      not to denigrate your appreciation of this blog as i appreciate it as well, but blogs are “coverage” of coverage. i blame the cable news networks with their “coverage” of others coverage to elevate “coverage” to the point of seeming to be coverage. it is not. it is just “coverage”.

  23. insert says:

    I believe I speak for everyone here when I say,

    OHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCK

  24. jtegnell says:

    Fuck! I have to teach at a three-day English Camp in Fukushima in a couple of weeks!

    I wonder how that’s going to pan out. Hopefully there won’t be any radioactive monster attacks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, since everyone have been evacuated 20 kilometers away fro Fukushima, your camp would be moved. You should contact someone to find out if it is canceled or moved.
      Though I am only 15, I had planed my whole future in Japan and now my father says there might not be a Japan to go to before it is all over.
      Good Luck!

    • Anonymous says:

      Consider backing out. WIth mass evacuations, everything is going to get jacked up for a while, including food supply lines. Sometimes going to a country in the middle of a crisis, just creates an additional burden on them.

      But good luck either way.

  25. Jack says:

    And the giant Gundam status has toppled:
    http://plixi.com/p/83217406

  26. Anonymous says:

    @travtastic Uranium can be extracted from sea water. Rivers ‘renew’ this source of Uranium all the time. Renewable energy.

  27. adamnvillani says:

    The Autobahnen are per mile and person one of the safest modes of road transportation in existence. Weak example.

    And yet many more people die on the Autobahn every year than in all the nuclear power accidents ever in history.

  28. Anonymous says:

    The incident is trivial. The fission product and actinide heat is declining rapidly as the isotopes decay. If the fuel melts, it’s in Zirconium alloy cladding. The clad fuel is in a steel pressure vessel (TMI’s fuel melted and the pressure vessel contained it). Some pressure vessels have additional steel liners (not sure about this one. The pressure vessel is inside a steel reinforced concrete bioshield. All that is inside a metre or so thick steel reinforced concrete containment building (with rebar as thick as your arm). The building is inside an area the public isn’t allowed in, and they’ve evacuated the surrounding area. And Japan has iodized salt, unlike some of the area around Chernobyl before the accident (which means lower absorption of any released radio-iodine isotopes).

    The UN estimates that smoke from fossil fuels and biomass energy is about 2.5 million people per year (many of them children). That’s around 6,850 deaths every day. We have bigger things to worry about than Japan’s reactors. Be glad they weren’t natural gas plants or hydro dams.

    • Cowicide says:

      The incident is trivial.

      Let me guess, you stand to gain money through nuclear power interests in some way or another or you’re just kind of sick… or maybe both?

  29. Mark Dow says:

    “…venting has been suspended at the plant because of high radiation levels”

    Just to be more clear than most official reporting, the TEPCO update states that it wasn’t safe for humans to open a second valve because of radiation levels near the valve. They would still like to vent gas (and radioactive material) if they can.

  30. Kerov says:

    Can we have some real science reporting here?

    Because the “leak” is not really a leak. It’s exactly how the reactor is supposed to work when primary and backup electrical power fails: the coolant water boils off, and is replenished, by a steam-driven pump if need be. A trivial amount of deuterium is vented in this emergency mode, in order to prevent the immensely more serious release of uranium that would occur in a meltdown.

    The real story here is that even after the worst earthquake in Japanese history, after the power failed, after the emergency backup power generators were swept away by a Tsunami, the backup to the backup is working exactly as designed, keeping the core from melting down.

  31. a_user says:

    1336: Levels of radiation in Tokyo spiked on Wednesday morning to around 20 times normal levels, according a spokesman for Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government, quoted by the Japan Times. Shintaro Ishihara, said though raised they would not cause health problems.

    BBC live

    time stamp 22:36 15/03/2011 Japan time

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Yesterday’s releases from the stricken plants have reached Tokyo.

      The crucial bit is present, or future, radiation releases from the plant: that may provide some clues to how things are going in there.

      I remain optimistic – but you already knew that, eh?

      wrt releases of more radiation from or at the plant itself , no news really is good news.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Oh hey, the Finnish nuclear security center says that there’s no further risk.

  33. Anonymous says:

    From Al Jazeera, who seems to be batting 1000 lately:

    – — – — –

    However, Naoto Sekimura, a professor at the University of Tokyo, said a major radioactive disaster was unlikely.

    “No Chernobyl is possible at a light water reactor. Loss of coolant means a temperature rise, but it also will stop the
    reaction,” he said.

    “Even in the worst-case scenario, that would mean some radioactive leakage and equipment damage, but not an explosion. If venting is done carefully, there will be little leakage. Certainly not beyond the 3 km radius.”

  34. Ugly Canuck says:

    All true environmentalists support more civilian nuclear power generation. Not less!

  35. Cowicide says:

    i’m for nuke power, because I am an environmentalist:

    Sigh… still haven’t done THIS yet, correct?

  36. travtastic says:

    The average reactor output at Fukushima is 783MW.

    Each of those reactors could be replaced with 500-ish standard US wind turnbines outputting 1.5MW a piece. It should be noted that these are far from the peak of efficiency. State-of-the-art turbines like Germany’s Enercon E-126 are comparatively rated at 7.5MW. You would require 100 of those.

    These could also be augmented with solar AND distributed solar.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      irrc, there are four reactors at Fukushima, so 2000 turbines to replace that complex alone…and there are what, thirty such in Japan….258 billion kwhrs per year generated from nukes…

      http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C_Japanese_nuclear_fleet_performance_0704091.html

      30% of all Japanese electric power.

      i don’t think there is enough land in Japan for all the turbines you’d need to replace that generation.

      • travtastic says:

        I virtually guarantee you that there is. Turbines also work equally well in water. Solar panels go onto roofs just fine.

        I really don’t think you’re understanding here. Nuclear energy will kill you if not handled exactly the right way. It is not renewable. It is not as cheap as you think it is, anyway.

      • travtastic says:

        Or 400 high-generation turbines for that facility. Times thirty, you say? That’s 12,000. Still want to use low-generation equipment? That’s still only 60,000.

        How many cars do they produce again? Seems like a lot of steel.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          They gone back to using steel in cars now?

          • travtastic says:

            Yeah?

            They’ve always used steel in cars. Just because they use aluminum doesn’t mean they don’t use steel, too. If you don’t like that, pretend I said “Seems like a lot of aluminum.” It’s the same thing, one is just stronger and melts faster.

      • travtastic says:

        There’s also geothermal. There’s wave and tide turbines. In a few decades to a century, space-based solar. Pick your poison.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          All experimental, and all presently inadequate for the supply of our current needs, never mind those of the future.

          We need to increase our supplies of power, as well as substituting for the fossil fuels which we now use.

          At the same time.

          But the forms which you mention ought indeed to be rolled out.

          And the sooner the better too…but it’s not an either /or situation.

          Just stop burning the fossil fuels. That’s what counts, most of all.

  37. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Meltdown indeed. Seldom have so few said so little so many times.

    Anybody have anything new or interesting to add?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      It ain’t over ’till it’s over.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Here’s my summation of this thread: everyone has entrenched beliefs about nuclear energy and vulgar factual information has no place in the discussion. Either A) every country must convert to entirely nuclear energy or B) DO NOT WANT.

        What about the (admittedly quaint) notion that energy generation should be tailored to local circumstances. We have 355 days of sun per year and it gets into the 120s in the summer. My roof could power a city block. Some areas have lots of wind. Perhaps nuclear energy is a good idea in seismically stable areas and a bad idea in area with frequent, large earthquakes.

        But, no, that borders on moral relativism. We can’t have that.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          No no, that is precisely what I’d like to see too: the prime aim must be to reduce the overall generation of co2 and other pollutants, both atmospheric and solid.

          Even should the consequences of this accident prove graver than they seem at present to be, nuclear power shall continue in use, and it use will increase over time.

          I hope that that shall also be the case with all other forms of generation too: always provided, of course, that they do not increase the burdens on our atmosphere.

          My proposed motto for our human society is quite simple:

          “We need more power!! Unlimited power!! *”

          (Optional part of motto: Bwah-hahahahahahahahahaha!)

          * = But with no increase at all of atmospheric pollution, including co2.

          …and it’s that last limiting bit that makes achieving that goal so difficult, imho, and necessitates our use of this form of power generation.

    • Patrick Dodds says:

      160 exposed to radiation (as of 2215 GMT) and 2nd reactor has lost emergency cooling. Unfortunately, it is as Ugly Canuck said – it ain’t over ’til its over.

  38. a_user says:

    #
    0426: Japanese government spokesman Yukio Edano says radioactive meltdowns may have occurred in two reactors at the plant – AFP.

    #
    0406: More on the specific dangers of Fukushima 1 plant’s reactor 3: The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Toky says the reactor is fuelled with uranium and plutonium, meaning the consequences of a meltdown are much more severe than at the other reactors.

    last time stamp is 10 minutes ago Japan time

  39. Cowicide says:

    Just a head’s up to those who don’t know:

    In 2002, the chairman and four other executives resigned, suspected of having falsified safety records at Tepco power stations. Further examples of falsification were identified in 2006 and 2007.

    Once again, I suppose if we were to live in a fantasy world where human nature and greed wasn’t in play, nuclear energy would have the potential to be safer than it is today.

    Time to wake up, Dorothy.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Safer? What is wrong with you?

      “To keep things in perspective, no nuclear accident has caused anything approaching the 1,000 fatalities stemming from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.”

      From:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12723092

      Far far more people die EVERY year from the illnesses brought on by exposure to air pollution caused by automobiles and coal-fired power generation, than have EVER died as a result of use “unsafe” nuclear power generation, in the decades since the time that such was first used.

      • Cowicide says:

        Safer? What is wrong with you?

        What’s wrong with you? Spewing corporate lies and ignoring (over and over again, I’ve noticed) the widespread implications of Chernobyl, etc.

        Once again, if we put as much energy into green energy as we did with the manhattan project and had an old-school american “git er done” attitude in that regard, we would not NEED nukes that are not safe (unless you ignore the larger ramifications as you continuously do for some reason).

        Quit lying that nukes are some sort of safe “alternative’ to green energy. That’s ridiculous and it’s been proven so. You’re just making an ass out of yourself.

        Once again… green energy (if finally taken seriously) is the only SUSTAINABLE way to go forward and not that human lives matter or anything to bean counters like you, but it’ll save lives… oh, and be much cheaper in the long run.

      • travtastic says:

        The dead citizens around Chernobyl would beg to differ. And probably the deformed fetuses, too. Maybe also the tens of thousands who had their homes rendered uninhabitable.

  40. Ipo says:

    1,015 Millisievert around the reactor. 2,4 Millisievert are average background radiation per year that people are exposed to. That means a years dose every 2 hours.
    Iodine and cesium are materials, not radiation. The fact that they have increased in Fukushima shows that the containment shell leaks.

  41. Mister44 says:

    I dunno, something like, “OK, we build this thing, which costs money. But get this – we don’t have to pay for any of the fuel! That’s right, the energy is basically FREE! And we get to charge people for it. Its a gazillion percent markup!”

  42. Ipo says:

    I like oil.
    Keeps hinges from squeaking.

  43. Anonymous says:

    were getting stationed in Japan is it safe to travel down there with the radiation leaks ? i have a 1 yr old daughter as well

  44. Anonymous says:

    There are only fifty human deaths attributed to the Chernobyl meltdown, most from inside the plant.

    • travtastic says:

      Sure, if you don’t mind glossing over the thousands who died of cancers they wouldn’t have otherwise developed, and the fact that an area thirty mils in radius was abandoned.

    • Cowicide says:

      There are only fifty human deaths attributed to the Chernobyl meltdown, most from inside the plant.

      Yah, it was nothing. Just ask the people living in Chernobyl right now.

      • TEKNA2007 says:

        Yah, it was nothing. Just ask the people living in Chernobyl right now.

        And Google “children of Chernobyl”

  45. Ipo says:

    Wind turbines don’t actually take up much space. The base is a few square yards. Farmers farm around them.

    The space that this nuclear disaster will take up, for possibly thousands of years, is immense. Cesium 137 is pure evil, taken up by plants through the roots, making the produce dangerous for consumption.

  46. JayByrd says:

    Conservatives have a blind, religious-like faith in nuclear power and will never be persuaded otherwise by mere facts of economics or risk assessment. That’s why they support a technology that is one of the most socialist institutions on the planet.
    What will stop the nukes is Wall Street — same thing that happened in 1979 at Three Mile Island. (It wasn’t Jane Fonda.)
    When billion-dollar assets turn into $2 billion liabilities overnight, well, no one wants to invest in that!
    If 50 years ago we had decided to put all that money and engineering talent into conservation technologies and renewable energy development, we’d have a decentralized, robust energy system that — like the Internet — is immune to Acts of God.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Economic facts like oil at more than 100$ US the barrel?

      Risks like the planet becoming uninhabitable due to global warming brought on by burning fossil fuels – or trees?

      • Anonymous says:

        You try to make it sound as though you’re the only true environmentalist here. Yet not word one about solving our power needs through energy efficiency. Tut.

    • Ipo says:

      Ugly Canuck is not a rightwhinger, he is smart and means well. He is capable of understanding, and just got off on the wrong fork of this debate.
      Or so I think.

      Btw. Japan buys electricity from Russia for their regular supply. I can easily imagine they could lease some cheap land in Siberia or some other near unpopulated area to put up windmills too. If they did run out of space, which i doubt.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        Nukes are part of the solution, there really is no doubt of that. The numbers for our power consumption, and the numbers associated with the types of generation, dictate the response.

        It is true that until the waste problem is properly sorted, it cannot be THE solution.

        And of course the future is unwritten. The tech may be a-borning. but it just is not here yet. The costs are still out of line….

        So for now, we’ll (humanity as a whole will) need to build more nuke plants, even if the USA feels that it does not presently need to.

        • travtastic says:

          They could just be plopped down on top of the Alberta tar sands, so that you wouldn’t even notice a meltdown.

          For all your insinuations that American’s don’t know or care about climate change and pollution, I have to remind you that Canada is no Ecotopian paradise.

        • Ipo says:

          Germany uses incredibly much power per capita, sort of like the US of A. Much of that comes from producing waaay more stuff for export per square mile than any other country. (smaller than California – more export than any place but China). It is far from the windiest or the sunniest place and doesn’t have much opportunity to create hydroenergy. Yet they decided that, starting january 1st. 2000, a maximum of 2.62 million gigawatthours (GWh) of electricity may be produced by nuke plants until all of them are permanently shut off. Yes, they’re phasing out, because by 2030 ALL of Germany’s energy could be made “alternatively”, from renewable sources.

          And here some numbers for you:

          nuke electricity 32 gramm CO2 per kWh
          winpower 23 gramm CO2 je kWh
          hydropower 39 gramm CO2 per kWh
          photovoltaik 89 gramm CO2 per kWh

          Mining for nuke fuel is in no way carbon neutral, neither is building plants.

          You and I agree that we have to quit fossil fuels.

          If the krauts can do it, so can you. Have some guts!

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            There is nothing to say that they can – and much to suggest that they cannot – achieve their very laudable and entirely appropriate goals.
            Good luck to them, though. Sincerely.

            And good on them for trying!

            Of course, other nations, some who do not consult popular opinion about such technical matters, have decided otherwise, after consultation with their engineers and technocrats.

            Time as ever will tell.
            But who can now say who will be there to hear its statement?

            As the Japanese say: An inch ahead, and you’ll find darkness.

          • Ipo says:

            At this point 14% of their electricity, but it would already be much more if the power grid was up to par with necessity. By 2020 just wind energy will be 25%. More could be done, but nuclear tech still eats a lot of the available money.
            On a side note. Germany’s and Japan’s nuclear power technology is leading in the world. It really hurts many conservatives feelings to give up on that.

  47. Ugly Canuck says:

    Wind and solar are good, but they are in the testing phase….

    http://www.renewablesinternational.net/

    And if conservatives are so “hot-to-trot” for nuke power, as some claim, how come the USA has built NO new reactors over the past thirty years, despite having some of the most “conservative” Administrations and Congresses ever, during most of that same time period?

    The rest of the world does not share the in USA’s cheap natural gas supplies; and perhaps you did not see the footage of the conventional fuel/LNG plant/depot blazing at Chiba….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAm9yDAfUy4

    As said above, pick yer poison, while we continue to work on the antidote….

    • travtastic says:

      Wait, huh, what? Wind and solar have been around for decades.

      • Ipo says:

        The first electricity generating wind turbine, was a battery charging machine installed in July 1887 by Scottish academic, James Blyth to light his holiday home in Marykirk, Scotland.
        Quite a few decades.

        • travtastic says:

          Not to mention that it’s just a generator tied to a windmill, which have been around since the 12th century. Windmills just being a change in power source and slight design change from water wheels, which have been around since the Romans.

  48. jtegnell says:

    Watch how fucking awful American news is:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42025882/ns/world_news-asia-pacific/?GT1=43001

    That meathead just fills me with shame.

  49. Major Variola (ret) says:

    They should just burn coal. No one ever gets hurt mining or
    breathing its fumes.

    Or, they could stop using energy. That also works.

    A quake of that magnitude is awful. Did you know that Richter was
    a nudist?

  50. Jack says:

    And now, the BBC reports explosions have been heard at the plant. Lalalalala…. Everything is fine. Don’t panic. Lalalalala…

  51. jtegnell says:

    Now they’re saying the walls of one of the buildings — it’s unclear if it houses the reactor — has crumbled: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110312/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_earthquake

  52. Ugly Canuck says:

    …and here’s an APOD picture of the day featuring the said fossil, all-natural nuclear reactors:

    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100912.html

    World of wonders, eh?

  53. TEKNA2007 says:

    It looks like the TEPCO website is undergoing a … meltdown.

  54. Grimnir says:

    If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sound of executives from companies angling to build new nuclear plants in the US shouting ‘Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!’ in the distance.

    No, wait, that’s a crazy homeless person, never mind. For a sec there I forgot I was too poor to live near executives with government ties.

  55. a_user says:

    This is directed an no-one in particular.

    Since the quake hit on Friday I’ve been seriously worried about the reactors in Fukushima, for purely selfish reasons, I live close enough to be severely affected by fall out from the plants.

    While I tried to asses the threat facing myself and my family, I found the foreign commercial media reporting almost hysterical, while the Japanese media concentrated on the human drama of the tsunami survivors, treating the catastrophe at Fukushima as simply part of a bigger picture.

    Thus I started posting information I felt walked the middle ground between the hysterical and complacent.

    And now today, now that the radiation levels rose in Tokyo the Japanese commercial media is asking the questions they should have been asking on Friday.

    My point? Stick to the facts, whatever you may feel about nuclear energy, the fact is there is so much BS being flung about for whatever reasons, but important, literally vital, information is in danger of being buried in BS.

  56. TEKNA2007 says:

    BBC video of massive explosion at one of the Fukushima reactors. A hydrogen explosion is suspected. Regardless, this is very serious because it’s a high-energy explosion with a possibility of breaching containment.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12720219

  57. emmdeeaych says:

    1) Consistent – Geothermal. Tides. Efficiency.

    2) Reliable – Efficiency, geothermal, tides.

    3) Affordable – efficiency, tides, geothermal

    4) Able to provide adequate power – efficiency efficiency efficiency, geothermal, tides.

    5) Footprint – efficiency, geothermal, tides.

    Is that what you were seeking in terms of takig your points on directly. And hey, we can supplement with solar and wind. True, we might not be able to make as many bright pretty lights as we might like, but really, we probably would still be able to.

    Also, does your cost of nuclear power include the future disposal/decomissioning costs? Assuming none of the nuclear plants have ‘failures’?

    I tend to support nuclear power, especially pebble bed reactors. I do not support shoddy arguments made by people who are so sensitive to being called names that they can’t even take a step back to see that their ass, from the VERY FIRST comment of the thread, has been on their head.

  58. Anonymous says:

    this is a super-GAU (german for beyond worst case in nuclear plants)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFwsyD1ZCVc

    this is EXACTLY what happend in chernobyl…

    its time to shut off EVERY nuclear power plant on the planet, NOW!

  59. a_user says:

    1439: A 30km (18 mile) no-fly zone is in place around Fukushima, says the IAEA.

    1436: The IAEA says Monday’s blast at Fukushima may have affected the integrity of the containment vessel – there are fears of more serious radioactive leaks if happen.

    BBC live

    time stamp 23:36, 23:39 Japan time

  60. Mister44 says:

    Earthquakes? Radiation? If I were in Japan I’d make sure my Godzilla insurance was paid up.

    • Mark Crummett says:

      Oh snap! I was just about to make a Godzilla comment!

    • Cowicide says:

      Have you ever lost a loved one in a tragedy? And, if so, would you appreciate jokes about it?

      I dunno, maybe I’m just being over sensitive, but I’m just having a hard time finding any humor in all of this.

      • taj says:

        We just had 3 more jiggles in the last 10 minutes in Tokyo. Mister44′s comment made me laugh.

        Maybe I’m just too tired to cry. It’s hard to get any sleep.

      • Ipo says:

        Forgive him/her. Humor is a great valve for emotion. Often the people with insensitive seeming humor are the only ones functioning in disastrous situations, the ones that keep it together. What irks me far more is the willful ignorance of commenters here and there, tossing out hifalutin terminology, pretending understanding and\or knowledge of the situation at hand while obviously failing at logic.

        Impossible!
        You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

        A meltdown certainly is possible. It normally would be highly unlikely.
        Just be aware that these facilities have been designed to withstand “worst-case-szenarios”, but couldn’t.

        The Richter scale is open to the top.

        I don’t think sufficient redundancy can be planned.

      • Tzctboin says:

        Shortly after 1985′s Mexico City’s earthquake (a Richter’s 8.1 monster, which killed 6500 if one is to believe the official figures, most specialists think the figure is too conservative) lots of jokes began to circulate, it was a legitimate way to cope.

        My favourite one:

        Q: “what do Mexico City and a doughnut have in common?”
        A: They don;t have a centre.

        (making reference to the fact that downtown Mexico City was badly damaged).

        • Cowicide says:

          Thanks, I really don’t care any more if people want to joke about it, I was just expressing my opinion that I’m not finding much humor in this situation right now. If that’s what it takes for some of you to mentally cope with reality, then have it. I find it a little weak, but hey… that’s just me.

      • Mister44 says:

        It’s called black comedy.

        • Cowicide says:

          It’s called black comedy.

          Right, sorry, just wasn’t particularly in the mood for black comedy at that point wondering how many more people were going to die… you know, right as it’s happening. To me I feel like it’s easy to be flippant and not deal with the horror laid before the world and it’s harder for some people to actually express outward feelings/compassion in forums such as this. So, to each his own, it doesn’t really matter in the end, at all. But I do hope you got some money to give to relief organizations to go along with that black humor of yours there.

        • travtastic says:

          Not to be a buzzkill, but we generally try to wait more than one day to start up the comedy.

  61. adamnvillani says:

    Anon:
    The facts are the plant is not going to and can not explode in any way,

    Now it has.

  62. Anonymous says:

    One of the reactor houses has had an explosion. No word on what happened, but the Japanese media is showing it.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12720219

  63. taj says:

    Evacuation radius just upped to 20km. (NHK news flash.)

  64. Ugly Canuck says:

    The reactor indeed proved to be eathquake-resistant, as the shaking and faulting of the earth during one of the strongest quakes ever recorded was not the cause of the problem.

    The diesel generators, the back-up power system for the cooling systems,
    failed – because they had NOT been made TSUNAMi-resistant.

    One lesson learned.

    This is not Chernobyl – Chernobyl had NO “containment structure” around the core….this one does.

    And so far, it is holding, from all accounts.

    • brain0naut says:

      sorry, you behaviour is kinda ignorant, u DONT get the point.
      nuclear.power.is.dangerous.as.hell.and.NOT.controllable.

      • Mister44 says:

        HAHAHA – everyone throw their hands in the air and run around screaming! It’s dangerous!

        Look at that, it appears me and Ugly Canuck agree on something.

        I am not saying we shouldn’t pursue other energy sources, but we should have a lot more of our energy via nuclear plants. Places like France have eclipsed us. In the future we might (probably will) have super efficient solar cells or perfect other technology, but this is something we can do between now and then.

        I will say I think wind technology isn’t a great one to pursue. It’s ugly, it disturbs wildlife, especially birds quixotic knights, it takes a large area, it isn’t consistent or reliable, and at the present there isn’t a good way to store energy for when the wind isn’t blowing. Maybe we will have something better in the future, but I would think there are a 1/2 dozen more promising venues.

        And I have mentioned in recent threads Thorium reactors. Wired had a great article on them a few years ago: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_new_nukes/

        It’s cleaner, takes a smaller foot print, its waste is less and less radioactive, and the waste can’t be weaponized (which is probably the reason Uranium won out over it.)

        The amazing thing about the article is the technology was basically forgotten in a book o_0

        • brain0naut says:

          you know exactly what i meant: radiaton for example.nukes.the complete contamination of earth.stuff like that.
          ja, right, i read about this thorium reactors as well (called traveling wave reactor.a concept of the ´50) and fusion reactors.
          and fast breeders.
          and the end of all energyproblems.
          sure.

          • Mister44 says:

            re: “the complete contamination of earth.stuff like that.”

            Oh noes! I just read the earth is full of radioactive elements like Uranium. Radioactive Radon gas could be leeching into your home as we speak!! It’s too late! God already contaminated the earth!

            You contaminated it! You maniac! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!

            ——–

            Technologies greener than nuclear power are still many years off to be:

            1) consistent
            2) reliable
            3) affordable
            4) able to provide adequate power

            Who knows where the future of our energy will come from. I am sure 200 years from now will look as bizarre and unfathomable as it did 200 years ago.

            While we continue to pioneer and innovate new ideas, we should utilized what we know works to come up with solutions for NOW. Once something else better comes along it will be embraced when it becomes feasible.

          • brain0naut says:

            “Oh noes! I just read the earth is full of radioactive elements like Uranium. Radioactive Radon gas could be leeching into your home as we speak!! It’s too late! God already contaminated the earth!”

            is that so? wow! you figured that out for yourself? i´m impressed.

            “…Technologies greener than nuclear power are still many years off to be…”

            pardon me? there right here, in the present.

            i see… completely useless to argue with you…

          • Mister44 says:

            You should have read below that. Here, I will add a bit.

            Technologies greener than nuclear power are still many years off to be:
            1) Consistent (It’s no good if you suffer brownouts because the wind isn’t blowing or you have had clouds for a week. Massive energy storage technology will help achieve this.)

            2) Reliable (As above, but also that the tech isn’t so bleeding edge that there is down time for repair/maintenance.)

            3) Affordable (If the energy cost is 10X what coal or gas is, no one is going to pay, or be able to afford, that cost. No one is going to invest in personal technologies on a grand scale, such as solar panels on their house, because the cost is too great.)

            4) Able to provide adequate power (If your running at peak power, and Scottie is givin’ her all she’s got, yet you still can’t match the output a coal plant provides or meet the demands, then it isn’t going to work.)

            5) Footprint (I’ll add one more. I think the footprint of the size is an issue in some of the cases, like wind and solar, if solar means miles of cells in the desert somewhere.)

            Until it is all of those things, it can’t be the primary power source of a large metropolitan area.

          • brain0naut says:

            1. there is nothing more consistent than the sun (for the next 4 billion years)

            2. do you really think nuclear power is reliable?

            3. cost of alternative energy (and thats of course not only wind and sun for christs sake…) is not 10X times higher than nuclear energy, thats a bill from the ´70,
            & btw nuclear energy is one of the most subsidized form of energy at all, so is coal and gas as well.

            4. adequate power like a hydro-electric power plant for example?

            5. footprint is pointless in case of a nuclear accident

            please stop bullshiting, nuclear energy is a fading out modell. it IS fucking dangerous with the ability to kill most of the planets life.
            and if you want to see how many serious accidents happen in the last 50 years just look at:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_nuclear_accidents
            and if this isnt enough:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_nuclear_disasters_and_radioactive_incidents

            and for the record; i dont argue with you any further cause you and Ugly Canuck sound like some lobbyists from the ´50s.

          • Joseph Hertzlinger says:

            “btw nuclear energy is one of the most subsidized form of energy at all, so is coal and gas as well.”

            Do you mean in terms of total amount or the amount per energy generated?

            I have seen the same activist discuss nuclear subsidies in terms of the total amount since nukes were invented and wind power in terms of cents per day.

            Is that what you have in mind?

          • brain0naut says:

            both.

            good link, thanx.
            and for you mister44+UglyCanuck, you should read this articles.

          • Mister44 says:

            Way to make a list, like you are trying to address my points, yet side stepping them completely.

            1) The sun may be there, but it isn’t always sunny. Solar cells are too inefficient to be used to power something like a large city. That should catch up to us eventually, but there is still the vast expanses needed, and the problems of storing (probably with heavy-metal laden batteries, which present their own contamination issues) energy for when the sun isn’t shining (1/2 the day).

            2) Yes, it is. Much more than any ‘green’ energy source AFAIK.

            3) And? People want free health care, why not free energy? The fact is other technology would require even MORE subsidies. Wind and the Sun are free (uranium isn’t THAT much, but anyway), but the infrastructure, cost of maintenance and energy storage isn’t free. And you have to have ‘more’ of the actual devices.

            4) If we all had a large river to dam up nearby every large city, that WOULD be great. In fact we are already doing that to most of the rivers worth doing. Of course that has messed up massive ecosystems, but hey, progress and all.

            The fact is we do NOT have that luxury through most of the US, and we have to worry about things like the Colorado who is drying up from a long drought.

            5) Footprint is what you will see everyday and affect everyday lives. The shear volume of space costs money as well. Yes there have been a few nuclear accidents, but when you weigh risk vs reward, I find it completely acceptable.

            And for the record, I am all for newer ‘green’ technologies. They simply are not up to the tasks yet. In the mean time, nuclear is better than coal, I would hope one would agree.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Jesus Cripes! yer right….but that’s the way I see this particular issue, but it is a most reluctant position on my part. Distasteful necessity forces our hand, imho.

          Just to e remind you of our differences, here’s an old American country song you may find it healthy to listen to, Mister 44:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F9l-Wp4itQ

          • Ipo says:

            You shouldn’t link to vids with content from sony or bmg unless you want to assure that only persons in the US or complicit countries can view them.

    • carriem says:

      i’m with you, Canuck.
      brain0naut, there’s no need to get aggressive. You know what else is dangerous as hell? Automobiles, cigarettes and screech. only one of those is illegal.

      The truth is, of COURSE it’s dangerous – that’s why you build them RIGHT. Which, apparently, the Japanese have done. Amazing to think that after an earthquake, after a tsunami, after losing 3 redundant systems, AND losing the ability to properly cool, AND the bloody building blowing up to smithereens – there has been no so-called “meltdown”, very little release, and only one possible death on site (according to TEPCO).

      How many people have been injured or died as a result of nuclear energy, compared to, say the Autobahn, for example? The number is very small.

      Nuclear IS controllable, obviously, and the Japanese have done a commendable job in following procedure during times of stress. The design of that reactor is amazing if you think about it! The friggin building EXPLODED and containment is held. WOW. I would have to say that, yeah, that’s wayyy better than say – the Sendai oil refinery? …That’s still burning, right?

      • brain0naut says:

        thats not agressive, thats mildly angry…

        • Cowicide says:

          thats not agressive, thats mildly angry…

          I don’t know, I think they all saw you puff out your e-chest in a threatening manner… very scary indeed…

          [/sarcasm]

      • Ipo says:

        Funny! The Autobahnen are per mile and person one of the safest modes of road transportation in existence. Weak example.

        So, according to you, the Fuk u shima plants were built RIGHT?
        Which is proven by the fact that after 36 hours after a natural disaster the worst case scenario hasn’t happened yet? (Oh please don’t!)

        Being built right means that there is no functioning cooling system, they used up their 3 redundancies, it blew up to smithereens, as you say, there still hasn’t been a meltdown, some radiation and some radioactive materials have escaped at least one person has died, at least an additional 20.000 people have become homeless, only a minimum of 7 peops are radiation sick for certain at this point? Really? That is admirable? This was done RIGHT?

        • carriem says:

          Ipo, I respectfully disagree that was a “weak example”. It may be a mixed metaphor but my parallels hold true. The Autobahn is a very safe stretch of road, but there are more deaths upon that road than there are attributed to nuclear. By some people’s logic, death = technology not worth using. I disagree, and anyone using the Autobhan might also disagree.

          I stand by assertion that they were done right. The worst-case scenario HAS happened: ie loss of electrical bus, loss of diesel back up, loss of cooling…etc. But none of this has lead to the WORST worst-case (if I may), which is a lot of people dead and/or poisoned. Reports say one man is dead (for whose family I earnestly grieve for) and three people had a high uptake with no visible signs of poisoning.

          This. Is. Amazing.
          If it wasn’t done right, 20M people would be dead, and not temporarily homeless. And those guys working 24 hours in the plant are heroes.

          By the logic I assume you are employing (and forgive me if I presume), technology this powerful should not be used. By that same logic, anything run on ELECTRICITY should not be used. Honestly, how many people per year are electrocuted? How many people per year die by car accidents? What about bursting dams? You know, boilers are pretty damn dangerous too. And for that matter, so is natural gas (that refinery is still burning right?).

          What is the basis for this reasoning?

          Is it the effect on the earth then? Because it’s not like damming a river has no long term effects on the environment – or building a gas station for that matter. All the Japanese hydro dams shut down after the earthquake too – you think it wasn’t done for safety? What if one of them broke – would we be crying for the immediate cease of all hydro dams?

          I think it’s a matter of education. What one doesn’t understand, one fears.

  65. RHK says:

    Scratch nuke off as an alternate energy source in the USA. No way in hell will another plant ever get a license to operate.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Nonsense…when was the last time the USA had a 8.9 quake?

      This will allow our new designs to be even more robust.

      Oh right, you Americans don’t believe in science, and feel that anthropogenic global warming is a myth.

      Back to the coal mines with you, then!

      • Cowicide says:

        This will allow our new designs to be even more robust. Oh right, you Americans don’t believe in science

        Combine this: http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactor/

        with this: https://geohazards.usgs.gov/eqprob/2009/index.php

        Fun with American science! You too can play!

        ;D

      • Ipo says:

        I can’t tell you exactly when, but I know that there is geologic evidence of quakes with far greater magnitude than 9 on the north american continent.

        Yeah, millions of years ago. Whatever.

        Who has ever heard of an earth quake with a magnitude of 9.0 in Japan?
        I know, everybody, I should have asked that a couple of days ago.

      • AnthonyC says:

        As an American scientist, I completely agree with your sentiment. Facts and reliable research hold very little sway in public debate here, and are unlikely to convince most people. And although I have no ties to the nuclear power industry, I really do want to see more nuclear plants built here and around the world.

        I’m reading the articles now, and here’s what I see: loss of coolant. Possibly melting fuel rods. Attempts to relieve pressure may have released some radiation or radioactive material in the steam. An explosion in one of the buildings at the plant. These are obviously bad.
        But I see no indication that the containment structure has been breached. So far it looks like any radiation release has been due to steam as part of a controlled choice to reduce the chance of a serious release.

        In one linked article above, they say that radiation levels outside the plant are eight times normal. They don’t say if that means eight times the normal level given off by the plant (a miniscule change as far as health is concerned- normal radiation levels at the fence of a plant is just a couple of millirems per year) or eight times natural background in the area (a much more significant change).

  66. Yamara says:

    Just uploaded two screenshots to the BoingBoing Flickr pool off of NHK (thanks again, Time Warner!)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/60541996@N04/5519742509/in/pool-boingboing#/photos/60541996@N04/5519742509/in/pool-41894168726@N01/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/60541996@N04/5519742503/in/pool-boingboing#/photos/60541996@N04/5519742503/in/pool-41894168726@N01/

    The first one shows the “after” shot of the reactor, with its roof blown off. Don’t know if it’s blown off from within or without.

    The second is a diagram for NHK viewers showing the exposed fuel rods.

    Apologies for the liminal quality of my screenshots. Prayers for Japan.

  67. AirPillo says:

    BBC is reporting that nuclear fuel is now exposed to the air following the explosion.

    Do they use graphite control rods? This could get bad if they ignite. Radioactive smoke and further loss of control.

    • prentiz says:

      Airpillo, I don’t know what BBC you’re watching, but just turned on BBC News 24, which had an expert from Imperial College London on who said 1) it looked like a steam explosion 2) it was very unlikely that the core was exposed.

      It is far too early to see whether this will actually result in anything serious – I suspect its too early even to call it a meltdown.

      • AirPillo says:

        I heard it second-hand through the ticker of another broadcast.

        However, reuters is also reporting that the containment structure may have been destroyed, and the containment structure is the only thing between the core and the atmosphere in the event of a pressure vessel breach.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/12/japan-quake-idUSL3E7EC07M20110312

        It is possible that the explosion was from steam pressure but it is also possible that it was the ignition of hydrogen, which is produced inside of the core during meltdown conditions. In either case it is possible that core containment is now lost, if the containment superstructure is compromised.

      • AirPillo says:

        See also:
        http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/51647000/jpg/_51647710_011507498-1.jpg

        This image showing a before and after of the plant. Circled is the containment superstructure which visibly appears to be damaged.

        • prentiz says:

          BBC are reporting that as “a building containing the reactor” – not a meltdown. Japan’s nuclear safety agency reporting that the explosion is “unlikely to have caused damage to the reactor itself”. Apologies for lack of links – am typing as the 1200 news reports it…

          • AirPillo says:

            Yes BBC and Reuters are now saying that the outer structure was damaged but the core itself is intact and radiation levels are dropping rather than rising in the surrounding area.

            I am happy to be wrong.

          • Cowicide says:

            Not so sure they’re out of hot water just yet…

            There is a falling trend (in water levels) but we have not confirmed an exposure of nuclear fuel rods

            TEPCO(aprox. 2 hours ago?)

  68. Anonymous says:

    Reports are surfacing that it has already melted down. Send whatever you can to Japan. We’re all in this together.

  69. Ugly Canuck says:

    Radiation has now dropped to below the level harmful to human health at the factory gate:

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

    Readings were taken at 2:30 am ET Tuesday.

    Or so it is reported.

  70. Ugly Canuck says:

    From the nuclear side of energy street:

    http://nuclearstreet.com/

    fwiw

  71. Mister44 says:

    Good lord man. Nuclear power isn’t a scary boogie man to hide under our beds from.

    Using your source from above, before this month we had over 20 years with 3 minor accidents world wide (1 accident in 32 years in the US). I can’t recall any thing other than Chernobyl that had a wide, long lasting impact. And that was the “We don’t have money for shit-Russians”.

    When you compare the amount of energy produced, the production from that energy, and the number of lives enriched, I think it has a CLEAR mark in the ‘win’ column in term of risk vs reward.

    You could even extrapolate that risk some more, by saying that with nuclear you will have less coal miners whose health suffers from their work. Everything has a risk and a cost.

    People died building the Hoover Dam and other infrastructures. People die all the time from accidents at power plants. Is their level of risk worth it too? With your line of thinking, we should just stop using electricity because it is too dangerous. (Easily more people have died from electrocution than from nuclear or any other plant accidents.)

    Furthermore, other than your perceived danger, you haven’t given any other compelling reason not to, nor listed another VIABLE alternative. Scoffing, calling me names, and saying something has danger involved does not an argument make.

Leave a Reply