Fukushima Thread: March 16, 2011

Situation at Japan's troubled nuclear plant 'slightly improved' - IAEA source

The situation at Japan's troubled Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has slightly improved, although it still raises many questions, a source in the International Atomic Energy Agency has said.

"It seems that Japanese specialists have managed to solve the problem of water supply to reactors and their cooling. At the same time, the situation at the spent fuel storage of the No. 4 reactor remains a concern," the source said.

UN Nuclear Watchdog Warns of `Serious Situation' at Japanese Nuclear Plant

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

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

Radiation level falls at Japan Fukushima plant-agency

(Reuters) - The level of radiation detected at the Tokyo Electric Power Co Fukushima plant has fallen steadily over the past 12 hours, an official at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Thursday.

Mixed signs coming out of Japan’s nuclear reactors

FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN—Nuclear plant operators trying to avoid complete reactor meltdowns said Thursday that they were close to completing a new power line that might end Japan’s crisis, but several ominous signs have also emerged: a surge in radiation levels, unexplained white smoke and spent fuel rods that U.S. officials said could be on the verge of spewing radioactive material.

U.S. Official: 'Partial Meltdown' at Japanese Plant

WASHINGTON—U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday he believes a "partial meltdown" occurred at the Japanese nuclear-power plant damaged by explosions, malfunctions and radiation leaks following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

Mr. Chu added, however, that Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant has containment systems to prevent leaks and that a partial meltdown doesn't mean the "containment systems will fail."

Japan’s nuclear threat: The danger of information gaps

Naoto Kan pretty much captured what the world has been thinking when he reportedly asked Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) executives “What the hell is going on?” Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that the country’s prime minister lashed out at the company’s officials over the lack of answers and information about the increasingly dire situation at the Fukushima reactors.

House Panel Questions Nuclear Regulatory and Energy Chiefs

The House Energy and Commerce committee takes testimony on Wednesday from two witnesses who are suddenly much more prominent because of events in Japan: Steven Chu, the secretary of energy, the chief administration official addressing the crisis involving the Japanese reactors, and Gregory B. Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has sent personnel to Japan and is charged with preventing accidents here in the United States.

Wind and Rain Steer Radiation’s Reach

So, how bad could it get?

Experts say it is impossible to forecast how events at Japan’s stricken nuclear plant will unfold, whether there will be a meltdown or other crisis at one or more of the reactors that results in a large release of radioactivity into the environment. And even if such a release occurred, the impact in Japan and elsewhere would depend greatly on wind and rain and how long the release lasted.

Q. and A. on the Nuclear Crisis in Japan

New York Times reporters are answering questions from readers about the continuing nuclear crisis in Japan. Readers asked about media coverage of the crisis, health risks from radiation exposure, problems with the reactors and nuclear waste, the question of human error, comparisons to Chernobyl and the danger of building nuclear power plants in earthquake-prone regions.

Meltdown fears spark nuclear debate

The earthquake disaster in Japan has rattled international markets and prompted debate over nuclear power as a major energy source.

Events unfolding in the north-east of the country could still culminate in a meltdown. They are shaping up to be the worst catastrophe the nuclear industry has faced since a reactor explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine in 1986 spewed radioactive material across the northern hemisphere.

Thailand and nuclear: an ongoing debate

Despite strong opposition against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Thailand from many, including Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, related agencies are still pushing forward with the development of the nuclear project, citing the country’s growing demand for energy. However, the final decision has yet to be made. Meanwhile, the debate on the issue has continued to be overlooked by every government.

Despite nuke crisis in Japan, science chief backs opening of BNPP

MANILA, Philippines - Amid the developing nuclear crisis in Japan, Science Secretary Mario Montejo expressed support for the opening of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) but stressed safety precautions should be implemented.

Unlike the power plants in the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plants in Japan, Montejo said the BNPP was constructed to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis.

SNAP ANALYSIS-World to warm if Japan panic spreads

LONDON (Reuters) - Global warming will intensify if leading carbon emitter China drops the world's most ambitious nuclear power building programme and Germany shuts down its nuclear plants amid panic over Japan's atomic energy crisis.

Wednesday's decision by the world's biggest coal burner and largest climate-warming carbon emitter to suspend approvals for new nuclear plants follows a decision by Europe's biggest carbon emitter Germany to shut seven nuclear plants.

Obama Nuclear Policy Plan Takes A Hit

The nuclear crisis in Japan is the latest blow to President Obama's effort to craft a national energy policy. Like last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, troubles at the Fukushima reactors show there's no large-scale source of energy that's free of risk.

Nuclear power lobbyists try to limit damage from Japan crisis on Capitol Hill

Nuclear power advocates are waging an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill this week in an attempt to limit the political fallout from the reactor crisis in Japan, which threatens to undermine already shaky plans for expanded nuclear capacity in the United States.

Japan Disaster Sparks Message Battle Over Nuclear Energy in Washington

Supporters of nuclear energy say it comes down to this: Accept the risk of rare nuclear accidents or face the possibility of catastrophic climate change.

Japan might turn out less catastrophic than we fear right now

Ezra Klein: Should this change our thinking on nuclear power?

Josh Freed: When nuclear goes wrong, it goes wrong big. Though what that means aside from a lot of white-knuckle days and nights for everyone, we don’t know yet. One shouldn’t minimize the dangers faced by the workers, but even something as catastrophic as the disaster in Japan might turn out to be a lot less catastrophic in terms of damage and loss of life than we fear right now.

Backing slowly away from the reactors

For many environmentalists, the decision over nuclear power is a close contest. On the one hand, the consequences of a truly catastrophic nuclear accident are likely to be longer-lasting than even the worst oil spills, and may be more poisonous as well. And we have no truly safe way to store nuclear waste. On the other hand, nuclear power plants are a lot safer than they used to be, and they don't emit any CO2; countries that rely heavily on nuclear power, like France and Japan, are vastly lower per capita emitters of carbon than countries like the United States and Canada. On the third hand, and this is a rather decisive issue, the insurance industry has rendered its judgment on the safety of nuclear power, and it is decisively negative. No private insurer will guarantee the potential liabilities of building and operating nuclear-power plants, leaving the industry dependent on government guarantees, effectively massive government subsidies, for its existence.

Threats Come With Virtually Every Source

The worst-case scenario seems impossible until it happens.

Japan is facing that reality as it grapples with a nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Ten reasons why new nuclear was a mistake – even before Fukushima

It’s hardly a surprise that building nuclear power stations on seismic fault lines, as Japan has done, turns out to be a foolish thing. In the pause for reflection about the safety of nuclear power that the Fukushima disaster is bound to create, here are ten reasons why it’s a mistake to build a new round of nuclear power stations in the UK.

Japan Says 2nd Reactor May Have Ruptured With Radioactive Release

TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear crisis intensified dramatically on Wednesday after the authorities announced that a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan may have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam.

The break, at the No. 3 reactor unit, worsened the already perilous conditions at the plant, a day after officials said the containment vessel in the No. 2 reactor had also cracked.

Such were the radiation levels above the plant, moreover, that the Japanese military put off a highly unusual plan to dump water from helicopters — a tactic normally employed to combat forest fires — to lower temperatures in a pool containing spent fuel rods that was overheating dangerously..

Emperor Delivers Rare Address on Nuclear Crisis

TOKYO — Emperor Akihito of Japan, in an unprecedented television address to the nation, said on Wednesday that he was “deeply worried” about the ongoing nuclear crisis at several stricken reactors and asked for people to act with compassion “to overcome these difficult times.”

An official with the Imperial Household Agency said that Akihito had never before delivered a nationally televised address of any kind, not even in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake in 1995 that killed more than 6,000 people. The address was videotaped.

Timeline: Japan's unfolding nuclear crisis

(Reuters)- Japan is under global scrutiny over the handling of its nuclear crisis after a huge earthquake crippled several reactors at a nuclear power complex, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.

Below is a timeline of statements made by Japanese authorities and the complex's owner, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), after the quake struck on Friday, the strongest tremor ever recorded in Japan.

Japan prepares to restart work at nuclear plant

FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Surging radiation levels forced Japan to order emergency workers to temporarily withdraw from its crippled nuclear plant Wednesday, losing time in a desperate operation to cool the overheating reactors — the most urgent crisis from last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers

A small crew of technicians, braving radiation and fire, became the only people remaining at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday — and perhaps Japan’s last chance of preventing a broader nuclear catastrophe.

They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their flashlights, listening for periodic explosions as hydrogen gas escaping from crippled reactors ignites on contact with air.

They breathe through uncomfortable respirators or carry heavy oxygen tanks on their backs. They wear white, full-body jumpsuits with snug-fitting hoods that provide scant protection from the invisible radiation sleeting through their bodies.

Japan reactor design caused GE engineer to quit

(Reuters) - A General Electric Co engineer said he resigned 35 years ago over concern about the safety of a nuclear reactor design used in the now crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

Dale Bridenbaugh said the "Mark 1" design had "not yet been designed to withstand the loads" that could be experienced in a large-scale accident.

Will the nuclear power industry melt down?

The basic equation here is pretty simple. The only way to deal with climate change is by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which in turns means reducing reliance on the burning of fossil fuels. Conservation, improved efficiency, and "green" energy sources like wind farms can help, but not enough to fill the gap without a significant curtailing of living standards. Accordingly, many recent proposals to address future energy needs have assumed that many countries -- including the United States -- would rely more heavily on nuclear power for electricity generation. It's not a complete answer to the climate change problem by any means, but addressing it in a timely fashion would be more difficult if nuclear expansion is eliminated.

Nuclear power: when the answer becomes the problem

Japan certainly has stricter building regulations than many countries but unfortunately that doesn't mean they are strictly enforced. Some years back many buildings constructed according to these rules were found to be substandard because avaricious construction companies had cut corners.

Nevertheless, there has been widespread complacency that things are OK. For example, last month several Japanese said to Rick that what happened in Christchurch “would not happen in Japan”.

Faith, evidence and tsunamis

When disasters strike, we all jump to conclusions. Big shocks are less likely to change our minds than little ones.

Jeff Rubin: China Syndrome hits Japan

Just as many countries were looking for nuclear power to play a growing role in meeting their future energy needs, the world is suddenly looking at the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The fallout from the crisis in Japan will rewrite climate change debate

THE Japan crisis is likely to be a severe setback for the nuclear industry. It will create a lot of soul-searching about an industry promoted as green, safe and efficient, the perfect model for reducing greenhouse gas emissions because it emits virtually no carbon dioxide. We can also expect more heat on uranium stocks.

Fears aside, our energy thirst is insatiable

If Japan -smart and efficient, conscientious to the point of being anal, the designated driver of the industrialized world - can't be counted on for nuclear safety, where does that leave us hold-my-beer-and-watch-this Canadians? The sight of cooling towers leaves us chilled.

OK then, asks UVic climatologist Andrew Weaver, where does the world expect to get its power, and at what cost? Hydro dams, coal-fired plants, the Alberta oilsands all take a toll on the environment.

"We can't get energy without a footprint."

What are the odds of rector damages from earthquakes in the U.S.?


I saw that article earlier today.
Was a surprise to me. I'm in SE PA and never thought that the TMI nuke plant would rank #3 on the earthquake threat ranking; who-da-thunk-it?
The Indian Point nuke plant was actually not that big of a surprise as I am aware that the Hudson river valley is seismically active; just nothing big has happened there lately.
I'm almost sixty years old and have only felt one earthquake here where I live during my whole life. And that one was really nothing at all. It felt like a heavy truck had driven by the house.

The story says that Limerick 1 and 2 are number three on the list. The Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania is located next to the Schuylkill River in Limerick Township, Montgomery County, northwest of Philadelphia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerick_Nuclear_Power_Plant

Three Mile Island is at number ten on the list.

Ah, thanks for the correction.
For me it's practically six of one half dozen of the other.
But, did you know that a meltdown at Limerick is one of the top most potentially disastrous nuclear accidents possible?
Prevailing winds most of the year blow either from the north west (toward Philadelphia) or from south west (toward NYC).

I'd rather they blow toward NYC;-) (It's a warmer wind)

Yeah what about the 100 year flood of a major river system in the US?

How would all those reactors in the Mississippi Valley fair?

What if a levy collapses? Lots of what ifs for nuclear right now when the reactors actually bust open heads are going to turn.

I know what ifs are annoying but we should ask the questions to make the reactors more safe considering the risks.

What's the probability of a nuclear power plant being hit by a tornado?

In 1998, the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo was hit by an F2 tornado, which took out the switchyard. The reactor shut down, using backup power from diesel generators.

Now imagine if it had been an F4 tornado and it took out the backup generators too.

I don't know what sort of protection is provided to the backups, but it better be able to withstand an F5.

Where do the old fukushima threads go?

In the old drumbeat section: http://www.theoildrum.com/section/drumbeat

Thanks. I never thought to check in there.

Please look at my second coming request. Thanks.

You might want to see before and after pictures of the Tsunami:


(Move the mouse cursor horizontally across the images to see & compare the destruction)

See example:


International rescue teams left speechless by tsunami destruction

OFUNATO, Iwate -- When rescue teams from China, the United States and the United Kingdom arrived in this devastated city, even their most experienced members were left speechless at the sheer scale of the destruction wrought by March 11's tsunami.

There are 150 rescue workers from the U.S. here, together with 70 from the U.K. and 15 from China. On March 15 they consulted the local fire department and citizens on the situation in the city, and began combing the ruins with sniffer dogs. U.S. team member George Carpenter told the Mainichi that he is working hard in the hope that he can rescue even a single survivor, while another U.S. rescue worker said the scene was worse than after the Sumatra earthquake of 2004.

I answered you in the old thread.

Looks like the spent fuel ponds are now the primary concern. I don't know if that means the meltdowns in the reactors are less of a problem or if the ponds just surpassed them in urgency.


NEWS ADVISORY: Spent fuel pool at No. 3 reactor heated, emitting steam: nuke agency
NEWS ADVISORY: Water injection into ponds at No. 3, No. 4 reactors priority: agency

Also, according to wikipedia reactor 3 has only had the mox fuel since sept 2010. I'm going to hope this means there is no plutonium in its spent fuel pond.

This is unlikely. Fuel rods are changed every few years. However, this also means that fresh used rod are in the pool. They should generate more heat. As for reactor 4. It seem that all the rods are in the pool. This might why it is heating faster.

There's plutonium in the spent fuel ponds. Plutonium is produced in all uranium reactors. There may not be MOX in the spent fuel pond so there will hopefully be less plutonium in the spent fuel ponds.

I'll take what I can get at this point.

there is a very good chance either way as to whether there would be mox fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pools if they only began using mox fuel recently as twelve months or so ago- all the first bunch mox fuel assemblies might still be in the reactor.

I know it's not always the best source, but this is what wiki says about plutonium:

"When exposed to moist air, it forms oxides and hydrides that expand the sample up to 70% in volume, which in turn flake off as a powder that can spontaneously ignite. It is also a radioactive poison that accumulates in bone marrow. These and other properties make the handling of plutonium dangerous."

Should we expect spontaneous ignition from the Plutonium in the fuel ponds? Is that what was burning earlier?


"Plutonium is a much smaller threat: If it were to melt, he said he expects it would become a sludge-like substance that wouldn’t be released into the environment. But if it were absorbed in the body, “it is thousands of times more radioactive than uranium"

I don't think so. The reaction products such as plutonium are still in their zirconium fuel rods. The most probable cause I can think of is the zirconium-hydrogen reaction we've seen earlier. Only if these rods burn through your reaction, and the burning of the uranium isotopes still left in he spent fuels rods, will start. Uranium can be a chemical explosive just as plutonium under the right circumstances. This is the cause of the pullution problems associated with depleted uranium ammunition.

About 1-1.5% of standard fuel rods is plutonium. If it's MOX it's probably
8% plutonium which is much worse--reports suggest reactor #3 is running MOX.
Still the U-238 which makes up 92% of fuel would tend to shield the plutonium.
The real danger is from Products of Fission; radioactive caesium, strontium, iodine and radioactive gases which are being vented or are leaving via once-thru cooling. When these are ejected you see the huge spikes in dangerous radiation.

They might be better off letting the core meltdown and sealing the whole thing off. It really looks like they have no plan B.
Chernobyl lasted 10 days, this thing looks like it could last a month.

Should we expect spontaneous ignition from the Plutonium in the fuel ponds?

"MOX" stands for mixed oxide, i.e. a mixture of uranium oxide and plutonium oxide in the ceramic pellets contained inside the zircalloy tubes. So the plutonium has already been "burned" when the pellets were manufactured.

The nuclear reaction doesn't care very much about the chemical form of the fuel, so the plutonium in a reactor can be in any chemical state the designers want (though you have to do some interesting experiments to check that there's room in the crystal lattice for the fission products to sit); in these ones, it's plutonium dioxide. Which is a hard glassy substance; melting point about 2400 centigrade, thoroughly insoluble.


The ponds were always the most dangerous potential issue. They have a much greater amount of radioactive material in them. They just were a more long range as it takes a much monger amount of time before the pool water boils off. But we are there now. Once the material in the pools catches fire it emits a lot of radioactive material into the atmosphere. All cooling ponds everywhere in the world have to have cooling water flow through them all the time. Just like the cores do.

Today 11:24 AM Radiation Levels 'Extremely High' At Reactor 4
According to Reuters:

U.S. NRC chairman says spent fuel pool at Japan's reactor 4 has no water, radiation levels are "extremely high

As the wind shifts away from Tokyo/Hino, radiation counts drop back towards normal background levels (in the metropolis).

Here's another idea. Assuming the roof is blown off, they ought to be able to see the top of the secondary containment. If it is cracked so that steam is escaping, drop a cofferdam around the crack and continuously pump in water.

At the very least it will force the steam to bubble up through the water, stripping off some of the radioactive molecules. That mitigates the off site fallout. As the water cools the steam bubbles, some of them will collapse creating a vacuum. With heavier liquid water around, gravity will draw the water into the collapsed steam. Be persistent and you might be able to create an open "lubricate and bleed" situation where water will migrate downward against the flow of the steam and drip inside the containment. With enough "rain" inside the building you attempt to refill the pool. Refill the pool and the rods will cool down and bring the situation under control.

I don't know about the 'cofferdam' part, but it sounds like the rest is pretty much what they are trying to do with the helicopter drops of water onto the site.

So if we do have meltdown, what exactly happens when that hits the water table?

How big of an explosion might one expect from the hot material hitting the cold water?

Naah, its only a few tonnes of corium. Presumably it will just sit there, fizzing and polluting the water..

So over what range is a radioactive waste polluted water table going to force land to be abandoned? Presumably the water is going to be taken up into the atmosphere and fall as rain over a gradually increasing area.

Dr. Peter Venkman: "That's bad. OK, all right, important safety tip. Thanks, Egon."

Assuming they get the spent fuel rods covered with water again, or do something else that will allow engineers to get close enough to work, what kind of long-term passivation could be employed? I'm thinking perhaps the cofferdam idea is worth extending, coffer the entire complex with a berm or concrete cofferdam & just pump it full of seawater. Obviously it must be high enough to cover the spent fuel enclosures sufficiently to keep them covered by several meters. Yes, that's a big wall, but at least it's something that could be done without getting too close and would assure keeping the stuff cool enough that a phreatic eruption or zirconium fueled fire would not break out.

Come to think of it, is water the only feasible coolant? What else is liquid at the temperatures in the pool, is safe in an unconfined environment, and might not be at risk of boiling off? Whatever they do is going to have to remain in place for at least thousands of years.

The reports I've seen indicated the helicopter water bombing attempts were being aimed at the storage ponds, not the containment structures themselves. The latter sounds pointless to me; dropping water on a meters-thick steel reinforced concrete structure won't cool off the pressure vessel inside it.

Also, I doubt there's going to be a full meltdown of any of these reactors. There's been too much time since the control rods went in, and most of the heat has been suppressed by now. Partial melting is possible and has probably already taken place, but that's not going to melt through the pressure vessel. Basically they've got three TMI's going on at the same time, plus the fuel storage pond issues.

I would really like to get a long term idea of what will happen with these reactors. Will they have to concrete all 4 of them?

I've always been under the impression, that just a few days was needed to avert a full meltdown, so lets hope we are past that point. It really is too bad they don't have a robot army for this sort of thing.

"Just a few days" is definitely the impression that some spokesmen seemed to be trying to put over. I'm starting to doubt that. Consider, what is the difference between a spent fuel rod and an active one? I think it's how much of the fissible uranium has been used, and the amount of the additional radioactive byproducts of the fission that have accumulated. Considering that "spent" fuel rods seem to be generating sufficient heat that they can boil off all of the water in the containment pool in a matter of a 140 hours or so, and that they have been sitting there for years, I'd say that -- depending on how long those rods have been in use already -- the fuel in the reactors must be capable of generating a lot of heat for a long time. So I think it's not just a waiting game. If cooling is not restored then things will go from bad to worse, and then worser than that.

It is impossible to say what will happen because the cores are damaged. The control rods don't poison the reactions and the fuel becomes critical rather than subject to the decay heat which was the original problem.

There is also the criticality issue in the spent fuel tank @ unit 4 and now perhaps unit 3.

If a core winds up dumped into the bottom of its pressure vessel it will interesting to see what happens afterward. If the fuel spreads out and water kept on top of it the reactor will be a kind of awkward, boiling spent fuel pond. There might be enough energy available (at a price) to burn through the bottom of the pressure vessel or compromise its integrity. Doing so might rob the fuel of enough energy to cool it. The PV would be the heat sink that so far the operators have not been able to provide.

If the fuel concentrates it will melt and flow together, burning through the bottom of the pressure vessel. The issue then would be how much water is in the bottom of the containment.

If there is a lot of fuel and a lot of water there will be a tremendous steam explosion that will blow the pressure vessel right out of the top of the reactor along with everything else: concrete, ponds, pipes and pumps, spent fuel and tons of radioactive dust and gases strewn across the landscape, hither and thither.

That would be the end of the plant as the others would melt down or blow up in succession.

The 'cleanup' would require sealing the site in concrete and sand with a roof to shed water (a moderator) and a sea wall to keep out the ocean water. Cleaning up would actually be pretty simple as most of the work can be done with heavy equipment, some of it robotized.

Much of the surrounding area would be 'off limits' for many lifetimes. The half- life of caesium 137 and strontium 90 is about 30 years.

As for plutonium, there is more of that element in 'circulation' in this world due to nuclear testing done in the 1950's and 60's. I doubt there would be much plutonium emitted as a consequence of this debacle.

If there is a lot of fuel and a lot of water there will be a tremendous steam explosion that will blow the pressure vessel right out of the top of the reactor along with everything else: concrete, ponds, pipes and pumps, spent fuel and tons of radioactive dust and gases strewn across the landscape, hither and thither.

Now if that isn't precisely the image that pops into one's mind when thinking of something that's *SAFE* then I can't imagine what would?

Looks to me, more and more, that our current crop of nuclear technology is to safety as the Titanic's was to unsinkablility... At the the time they built her the Titanic was state of the art and produced by the best engineering that money could buy and surely those that built her were absolutely sure that she really was unsinkable. Unfortunately, their self confidence in their own cleverness, turned out to be the epitome of hubris and they were proven quite wrong.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Good thing we called it quits and stopped building ships after that. Obviously they are too dangerous to use for mass transport of goods and people.

The hubris point is dead-on. As is the detrimental power of bureaucracy.

Good thing we called it quits and stopped building ships after that. Obviously they are too dangerous to use for mass transport of goods and people.

Well, if nothing else, we did at least learn that we needed to hold the shipping companies responsible for providing a sufficient number of life boats for all passengers and crew on board.

But most importantly, we learned to stop calling any ships, 'unsinkable'.

Yes, and that's my tongue-in-cheek-point. We should not be viewing nuclear at the cost and EROEI points we have today, but at a design point that is inherently stable ("walk away" safe) and therefore probably less efficient. A design that optimized safety and minimization of long-term waste rather than cost and creation of weapons-grade materials would likely be quite different than what we have today.

Of course as soon as a design is walk-away fail-safe, there is danger of a new level of laxity that will undermine that level of operation as well.

I am not sure it is possible to maintain alertness and avoid complacency while creating a low-effort self-limiting design.

To me, the real societal question is how many meltdowns per decade can we tolerate, and how do we assess the 7th Generation impact in the decision process. Honestly, I don't see that we do that in most other areas of society (certainly not antibiotics or oil!) so I'm not sure it's fair to hold nukes to a much higher standard. Nor do I think we will, as some nations WILL build out nukes, so we will have all of the long-term issues regardless, and our choice is really how to best manage the designs that are used and the scaling point of those perpetual issues.

Fuel reprocessing instead of disposal is a critical need in my view, so that the resulting high-level waste is as small in quantity as possible, and the limited fuel is used as efficiently as possible.

"walk away" safe is not possible with regard to nuclear. We cannot maintain the containment structures or a society that can handle the concentrated radioactive materials for the time period required.

Therefore, what will ultimately happen to all of this material is exactly what you see happening now - it will disbursed over the surface of the earth, eventually to be returned to a much more distributed state as it was when we found it. We have concentrated this material, and entropy will ensure that it becomes less concentrated again. This is just one way that will occur. The other possibility is that life forms will accumulate the material, effectively using solar energy to maintain its concentration or at least to delay its redistribution.

It's too late to avoid the risk.

The material was concentrated together in sufficient quantities to cause the problems before the problems were properly recognized.

The barn door is open, the horses are all out, and we've got people shouting about how dangerous barn doors are and telling us that it is irresponsible to make any more of them.

No, in your analogy it's the horses that are dangerous and the barns are ineffective at containing them. Yet people propose making more horses and building barns that don't work in populated areas.

OK, it was a bad analogy.

I stand by my main point, if we don't find ways to *use* the radioactive material already accumulated in as responsible a manner as possible things will only get worse.

The storage pond in Daiichi 4 is such a problem because there was a bunch of valuable radioactives just sitting there waiting for something like this to happen. If there was an aggressive reuse program for nuclear power fuel rods, all of that valuable and dangerous fuel would be relatively safely ensconsed in a reprocessing facility with containment, or already in service at another power plant giving us some value for the risk we are already taking in having it accumulated to begin with.

I think the big problem is moving the fuel rods after they have been "exhausted". They are too radioactive and thermally hot to move for some period of time, thus the need for storage and monitoring...

E. Swanson

And yet because they are too dangerous to store they sit in these temporary storage pools permanently, waiting for something bad to happen.

The safest option that I perceive is to get them out of storage and into use, where the fuel will get used and we will get some benefit for the risk that we haven't been able to avoid since before I was born.

Eventually the concrete and steel structures we built to contain this stuff will end up like all the ruins of all the previous societies that we can still see around us. Sometime between now and then it would be good if the radioactive material were removed from them, situated as they are in populated areas all around the world. If we keep using it in those same ways and places, it will still be there, and likely will end up destroying at least some of those areas. I do not see much better choice than to pick one spot and write it off, put the stuff there and hope it will stay put in the time after anyone can protect the world from it anymore. Hopefully very deep down.

So your answer is to spend a lot of money and energy sweeping the risk under the rug for some unknown future time.

Money that could be spent on other things, energy that is multiplied by the energy foregone by spending it to hide a source of energy in a manner so permanent that our descendants won't be able to choose to use it later.

I might humbly suggest that not all the consequences of this course of action have been considered by it's advocates.

No, the material is already a risk for a very long time, and there is nothing we can do about that now. You can leave it laying around where people need to be in the hope that someone might be able to derive a benefit from it (and I maintain that we have not been able to drive a net benefit from it), at the (high) risk of eventually having it destroy those places. Or you can try to minimize its danger as best as possible before our ability to contain it and handle it is lost.

The biggest difference between our views is that you perceive some value in the stuff, and I do not. I believe said perceived value is only a consequence of failing to properly account for the true costs.

"If the fuel concentrates it will melt and flow together, burning through the bottom of the pressure vessel."

But it's not likely to concentrate. If it's hot enough to melt itself, it will also melt the other support structures in the reactor, and neutron reflectors, the control rod mechanisms (which are on the bottom of a BWR), the pumps, and eventually the vessel itself. All of this stuff dilutes the decaying fuel. Molten iron is a wonderful solvent, a fact used to advantage in pyrometallurgy. The surface area of the melt grows to the point that the heat production can't keep it molten, and the meltdown stops.

And since the non-melted bits of metal sink to the bottom of the molten pool, it actually starts to insulate itself from what's beneath it. And there it stops. This is what happened at TMI. We are so used to the way water and ice work that we forget how odd they really are.

They didn't concrete TMI; they just let it cool down and then disassembled it for study. They may entomb these reactors but more likely they'll do the same thing; let them cool down and take them apart. Reactor #1 might be too damaged for that (estimated 70% of the core was damaged), but they might try it with Reactor #2 (estimated 33% core damage) or #3. Reactor #4 is unfueled at this time so it's fine; the problem there is the spent fuel storage pond, where both the spent fuel and Reactor #4's fuel rods are being kept. If they get the pond refilled there won't be any trouble there either. If it empties but the rods don't melt or get caught up in a fire, then they might not need to do anything but seal the storage pond and keep the reactor operational.

I heard a nuclear expert (a seemingly real expert) on CNN last night say that using helicopters to water bomb the storage ponds was a VERY BAD idea. Supposedly the spent rods are aligned at an optimal distance from each other in the pond to prevent heat build-up. Haphazard water bombing can move the rods around, moving some closer together, and making the situation much worse.

Haphazard water bombing can move the rods around

Its hard for me to imagine water bombing would be worse in that respect than the earthquake would have been.

I read they are going to try using anti-riot water canons to shoot water in from a distance. Would being inside a riotcontrol vehicle offer decent protection from gamma rays?

Better than anything you could carry.

Certainly they'd be adding ad-hoc radiation shielding to whatever the base chassis provides before sending it in.

You're right. I never thought about the earthquake itself having produced the same sort of movement in the storage ponds.
Perhaps there's some sort of technology that keeps the rods from moving around during earthquakes? I'll see where Google takes me on this.

Hopefully it will be boric acid saturated water that they use.

That was Arnie Gunderson; I've seen his "advice" panned by other people in the nuclear industry as being way, way too alarmist. The fuel rods in the storage pool are sitting in racks that hold them vertically and very stable. The force of water spraying down on them, even from a firehose or dropped from a helicopter, isn't going to shift those around.

And just how stable are they after multiple explosions which blew the buildings apart they were located towards the top of?

Bigger evacuation area needed near Japan reactors: NRC

Gregory Jaczko, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, also said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that the spent fuel pool at Japan's troubled number four reactor has no water.

"There is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures," Jaczko said.

Of COURSE his advice gets panned by people in the Nuclear Industry. He's an active and an informed opponent of Nuclear power.. he's been leading the charge on Vermont Yankee, most recently. And He used to Work for Westinghouse before he found some violations, and was kept from correcting them.. also discovering abuses within the NRC in the process. Bad, Bad Man.

GUNDERSEN: You know, this reactor design, this containment design, has been questioned since 1972. The NRC in 1972 said we never should have licensed this containment. And in 1985, the NRC said they thought it was about a 90 percent chance that in a severe accident this containment would fail. So, that we’re seeing it at Fukushima is an indication that this is a weak link. It’s this Mark I, General Electric Mark I, containment. And we have—essentially one-quarter of all of the nuclear reactors in the United States, 23 out of 104, are of this identical design.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Arnie Gundersen is a nuclear engineer who has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the country.

..("Arnie Gundersen was a nuclear industry executive for many years before blowing the whistle on the company he worked for in 1990, when he found inappropriately stored radioactive material.")


If you watch this video, at times they show a spent fuel pool. (and fuel pellets, rods, etc.)

You can see the racks as others mentioned that keep the fuel from going critical.
After all, light water reactor fuel is meant to be moderated by water, the coolant in the pool,
so they have to keep them apart.

Rachel Maddow "What is spent nuclear fuel?"

pools at about 3:30 and 6:26 in the video
cool to see the Cherenkov radiation move along with a moving fuel bundle at 3:43, repeat at 6:37.

Wonder if the racks have hafnium/boron/other neutron absorbers in them.

The reports I've seen indicate that the racks do indeed contain boron to further neutralize any neutron radiation. I suppose the unspent fuel rods from Reactor #4 got even more boron, or perhaps the water had boron in it. Not that that helps now, if the new reports saying the storage pool is nearly empty are correct.

From the Drudge Report

'Military flying in US Navy pumping equipment in a last ditch effort to cool those rods in the nuke plant. Flying out of Yokota Air Base. Wish us luck!'

DFC's to the man/woman.

Just heard that the USS Safeguard has given a water cannon to the Japanese. It also has very high capacity pumps, so they may have given them one of those too. I also heard that the helicopter pilots can see into the pool on Unit 4. So after suppressing the radiation with the water drops, they may set up the cannon and direct the flow of water into the pool using the extra reach available from the bigger pump and water cannon to refill the pool.

Latest image dated 16th March


Looks like a war zone.

Actually it is.. A battlefield of a war for energy, this time against Mother Nature itself. The toughest opponent so far. Even if this battle is to be lost, the war won't come to an end soon.
I still hope we are able to win such epic battles, for our very future depends on it. Godspeed to all the folks on the field now!

Wouldn't winning an epic battle against Mother Nature inevitably be a Pyrrhic victory?

I think winning the war would be that they call the singularity. Winning this battle would only mean we're not utterly doomed, and there's still some hope for us - provided we're heading the right direction, that only time will tell..

All inventions, all great leaps in technology, all these victories made humanity's path one way closer to some yet unpredictable final outcome - and today our civilization is built on lies and scarce resources, with runaway global processes we unleashed but have no means to control, I think there's no way but the highway.. Already past the point of no return, bad news is that by some means we _have_ to defeat Mother Nature now. If we can manage to, it's just victory - with the Pyrrhic part written already in our history.

""Wouldn't winning an epic battle against Mother Nature inevitably be a Pyrrhic victory?""

That's a good one...Mother Nature always wins.....

One must learn to live within the Natural World, not pretend to try and control it.

Trouble is, Humans are too stupid to stop playing the their game and continue on with their Techno Merry-Go-Round until they are dead.

And if this keeps up, most will be, much sooner than anticipated.

The Martian.

Know a fundamentalist Christian.
His kids mention "Mother Nature"
And he shoots back "Nature is not your mother!"

I'd love to see a thermal image of this scene.

Looks like every one of these replicated that hydrogen balloon experiment everyone's seen in chemistry class... the very definition of a systemic problem with this design.

Damn! Aint collapse fun?

Better than having your own science guy sitting beside you, having to smell his fetid breath.

Katrina showed us how you could build a city below sea level right by the sea.

The Morcondo blow-out showed us how our happy motoring life style could be long, long, prolonged by tapping into those smaller oil fields miles and miles under the sea.

And now we're learning how the miracle of nuclear power can boil water and provide electricity for us all at a price, "too cheap to meter."

I don't know about you, but I just can't wait for our next lesson.

Hopefully people will have seen and learned how dangerous hydrogen is, so we won't see any hydrogen powered vehicles ... can you imagine what might happen in an accident? ... and like it or not, vehicles do have accidents!

Please tell us more about the dangerous modes you see with hydrogen fuel. Perhaps I'm propagandized by industry, but it's my understanding that given a hydrogen "spill" in an auto crash, the hydrogen immediately rises out of the immediate vicinity like hot air or smoke. Unlike gasoline or diesel which will pool around the scene waiting for a spark to set it off. A tank of hydrogen is no more likely to explode than a tank of gasoline. Less so probably, since current engineering calls for storing hydrogen dissolved into a solid substrate. A liquid hydrogen is unlikely to be manageable in a personal vehicle, needing insulation and compression and extremely low temperatures.

I was gonna say similar things. Hydrogen is very light, so will go up. Could be spectacular like when that refinery blew off burning vapour shortly after the EQ. That was one heck of a fireball. But a vertically directed fireball doesn't do too much damage at groundlevel. The biggest danger is that a hydrogen flame is hard to see, so you might walk into one.

But, hydrogen fuel has never really made sense, so I think it is almost a non-issue.

Well, ya gotta admit, there's not much carbon in it. Of course when one considers the full supply chain it's sure to be a different story. The problem with hydrogen still seems to be the low specific energy by volume. Beside of course, it not being found free in a natural state, unlike coal, oil or gas. Or sunlight. Or wind. Or the moon (tides).

Which reminds me, speaking of energy waiting for someone to come and collect it ... considering we are standing (some of us anyway) on a big ball of rock so hot that if you go 10,000 meters toward the center it's 3000 degrees and plastic, why not just dig some real deep holes and mine the heat (e.g. flush water through it and use the resulting superheated steam)? Ya, there's some technological barriers, but it seems to me there's a huge payoff.

I think we saw in Fukushima what happens when hydrogen gas mixes with air...in right proportion.

Accident in a tunnel.
Accident in a parking structure...

But, yes, storing 800 Kilo-Watt-Hours is making a bomb.

1000W (1KW) = 1 1/4 HP @ 750W/Hp
100,000W (100KW)= 125 Horse Power
For 8 hours driving range = 800,000 Watt hours (800 KWH).

Mass Transportation avoids this PER PERSON energy storage.
... Maybe the vision of little corpuscular capsules that join and part.

But it's not sexy and doesn't make $ and we've been cashed-in anyway!?

and like it or not, vehicles do have accidents!

Especially when driven, by people...

What's next?

Dam failure? LNG ship/port explosion? Maybe another offshore oil blowout? Mundane coal mine disaster?

Solar panel dropped on someone's foot?

Japan's LNG terminals seem to have come through the earthquake and tsunami relatively unscathed, at least compared to everything else in the economy - notably nuclear reactors and oil refineries. Companies and exporting countries all over the world are starting to divert LNG tankers to Japan.

One of the advantages of natural gas is that you can build gas-fired thermal power plants very fast. In fact, you can buy them mounted on skids ready for installation at the site of your choice. This may make LNG the fuel of choice as Japan rebuilds.

What about this LNG site?

RPT-Sendai Gas says Shinminato LNG terminal unreachable

TOKYO, March 14 (Reuters) - Japan's Sendai Gas said on Monday it was unable to reach the tsunami-hit Shinminato liquefied natural gas terminal near the port of Sendai in the country's northeast, but the terminal appeared undamaged from a distance.

"We've been unable to reach the terminal because there was a tsunami warning again today," an official at Sendai City Government's gas department said.

The terminal did not catch fire after the strong quake on Friday, but was flooded by seawater after a series of tsunamis, the official said. (Reporting by Risa Maeda in TOKYO, Writing by Rebekah Kebede, editing by Anthony Barker)

I have not seen a status update since this report.

No, according to reports, they haven't been able to reach the Shinminato terminal but it appeared to be undamaged from a distance. The terminal did not catch fire after the quake, but was flooded by seawater. All the other LNG terminals in Japan are in operation.

Yair...RockyMtnGuy. What is the go with LNG generating plants?...are they gas turbine or reciprocating? If turbine why...I always though they were not all that fuel efficient.

I believed the advantage of turbines was lots of power from a light compact package...good for high output portable units but hardly a consideration in a fixed application...and here you pay a LOT more for a turbine technician than you do for a diesel mech.


used gas turbine generating station
Get them while they are still available via alibaba.com.

They are not LNG generating plants, they are LNG terminals. They offload LNG from tankers, store it, regassify it, and put it into the natural gas distribution system. Anyone who wants to run a natural gas power plant of whatever type they want can put it on the system.

The advantage of gas turbines is that they are easy and quick to install. They are also highly efficient. The disadvantage is that they are expensive. If you want a less expensive plant, you might want a more conventional thermal power plant.

Solar panel dropped on someone's foot?

That would probably hurt!

Here in Florida, along the coast, I've seen entire roofs blown away by a hurricane, except for the part underneath the solar panels. The panel support structure, to be up to code, must be able to withstand 150 mph winds, the rest of the roof doesn't... go figure.

Now you should be able to sell them maximal sized systems, even putting panels on the north sides. Call it hurricane proofing with utility savings benefits or some such....

A dam failed after the earthquake, too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujinuma_Dam

By all means, let's stop building dams! It is obvious that the US needs a moratorium on dam construction until safety procedures can be revisited. Hydroelectric power is unnatural anyway -- you can't even see the potential energy in the rain drops!

Let's pause a moment to thank the men who attempted to patch the dam, who did so knowing that they might die striving such that others might live.

The Communist Chinese
when selling their captive populace on all things nuclear
fielded a tiny, cute propaganda cartoon character called "Pu".
"Who's afraid of little Pu?" was the derisive tag-line.
If only Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage Nation knew that one!

Solar panel dropped on someone's foot?

I did that once. Hurt like hell for 1/2 an hour or so. But I'm glad my foot cushioned the blow considering that the panel cost around $800 at the time. A similar panel costs 1/2 that amount now.

"Solar panel dropped on someone's foot?"

I was thinking a tornado hits a house with solar panels, one of the panels whips across the street and decapitates granny.

Result. Solar panels in town are banned as "too dangerous for urban areas."

Hopefully wind and solar will not (do not?) have any such 'gotchas!'

So is this reverse order with 4 on the left? Burned out cos of over heating of spent fuel rods in a cooling pond? And 2 second from right - which is the reactor causing most concern, presumably cos they have not managed to vent H2 in same way and blow up building yet?

The key technical issue now is whether or not fission chain reactions re-start in piles of fuel pellets on vessel floor? If that happens then things get hotter, not colder going forward and worse case scenario could be on scale of Chernobyl - given we have 4 reactors and large population centers near by.

France is advising French to leave Tokyo - and I believe French probably know more about what might happen than anyone else.


Yes, we are looking from the sea towards the plant. So left-to-right 4,3,2,1. TEPCO stated there is a non-zero possibility of re-criticality from fuel in the spent pools (especially at reactor 4). Cabinet Secretary tried to play down that statement when asked about it but did not contradict it. Possibility: Damaged(partly melted?) fuel rods pushed together; water boiled off and/or leaked; add lots of new water; acts as moderator; temporarily reach criticality?

It seems that the primary reaction won't exist (that means, won't be critical) without water cooling the neutrons. That means that if the fuel melts and changes its shape, the reaction stops, even if it has no control rods inserted. That also means that if the water is evaporated away the reactor would also stop.

Now, shouldn't the spent fuel pool have a containment structure like the reactors? Ok, it could be a way weaker structure, but shouldn't it? The concern here is that it catches fire and releases contaminants as smoke? Shouldn't there be a closing valve then?

The spent fuel pools at reactors 3 and 4 are open to the outside now. Not clear of status at 1 and 2.

Now, shouldn't the spent fuel pool have a containment structure like the reactors?

I was thinking the opposite. Shouldn't it be open, and in a place where no matter what happens, you can run a hose up to it to keep it topped off. The problem at Fukoshima is that they are on the 5th floor of a striken building. Kind of hard to get to. Otherwise we wouldn't even be discussing this.

I was thinking the opposite. Shouldn't it be open, and in a place where no matter what happens, you can run a hose up to it to keep it topped off. The problem at Fukoshima is that they are on the 5th floor of a striken building. Kind of hard to get to. Otherwise we wouldn't even be discussing this.

Yes, what has amazed me most, is these pools are ELEVATED ?!

They look to be almost after-thoughts, and certainly placed for least-handling, not highest safety.

I guess calling this 'spent fuel' fooled even those designing the plants ?!

There is even talk of new power lines magically helping, but surely Japan can fly in any MW generators they need, fast ?

2MW seems to be a common container generator size, and that's a lot of water pumping.

The fundamental issue looks to be leaking/damaged fuel pools, and no means to supply/retain water - and a diminishing capability on site, as the radiation pushes back the workers & reduces options.

Keeps the distance down when lifting a hot fuel rod out of the reactor and then immersing it in the water. Some dry risers would have made life a lot easier, simple, inexpensive, retrofitable etc.


Given widespread shortages of food and energy, it would seem to make sense for non-critical foreign workers to leave if they could. If you're not part of the solution, you're probably part of the problem. Radiation hazards simply raise the reasons to leave, IMHO.

Part of the solution is helping the economy to recover and function. Thats probaly what most foreign workers are involved with. The radiological hazard is still uncertain, I'd give 9:1 odds it won't materialize in any substantial way. But the other 10%, well thats why people are leaving. Still looks pretty bad, especially guys lie Indians and such who maybe don't have the financial resources to throw in an extra roundtrip ticket, plus weeks of involuntary vacation.

The radiological hazard is still uncertain, I'd give 9:1 odds it won't materialize in any substantial way.

Perhaps... Fuk-D: radiation monitoring


This Japanese monitoring site's reassurances are almost comical...


How much radiation we receive depends upon where we are. For example, in Japan, the amount of radiation in the Kansai area is generally higher than in the Kanto area. This is due to differences in the earth's composition.
If a person were to move from Tokyo to Osaka, that person would come to receive 0.17mSv more radiation per year, however this would have absolutely no ill effects. Nuclear power plants have established a goal of releasing no more than 0.05 mSv per year; this is lower than what would be obtained by moving from Tokyo to Osaka.
Also, the amount of radiation received from cosmic rays depends upon elevation. For example, if a person were to stand on the peak of Mt. Fuji, that person would receive five times more radiation than when standing at ground level.

Reactor #1 is on the RHS of this photo, which is reversed from the earlier satellite photos. Reactors #3 and #4 look to have sustained much worse damage since the satellite photos after #3 first blew. I think there was a change in design of the walls between #1 and #3 and #4 as the upper gallery above the concrete containment appears to have been made of concrete as well. That's why the photos show large columns on top of the concrete containment instead of the structural steel framework in #1. Here's a photo of the inside of the gallery from the NYT. Notice the large columns and horizontal beams which make up the wall structure...

E. Swanson

The caption is wrong twice in the second sentence, so that makes the first suspect IMO. The containment vessel does not surround the SFP, for one, and secondly, the containment vessel is not "the last line of defense" when cooling fails.

Yes, it looks like an SFP in one of the reactor buildings, except for the large yellow dome on the left, which looks like a permanent emplacement (as opposed to, say, the upper containment head removed for refueling). The picture could just as easily be from the common SFP building they have, and not in a reactor building at all.

I certainly can's say whether the photo caption is correct. HERE's a graphic of a plant which Merrill posted on the 12 March Drumbeat. One might think that the camera taking the photo would have been positioned somewhere on the upper right of the pressure vessel plug in the line drawing. Of course, the cutaway drawing says nothing about what was in the front portion of the building, so that yellow dome might fit into that space. In any event, my main point was about the concrete structure of #3 and #4 being different than the steel framework of #1. Those concrete walls may have contributed to the large upward component of the blast on #3, but that's just a guess...

E. Swanson

It certainly could be from inside one of the reactor buildings, I'm just not convinced that it is beyond the shadow of a doubt, and the caption doesn't do anything to boost my confidence.

Merrill has consistently posted accurate and timely info during this discussion, no quarrel there. That graphic comes from page 16 of this PDF http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/teachers/03.pdf which I was looking at even before Merrill posted the B&W version.

As an OT aside, the color pic on page 16 of that PDF was cut & pasted into the Wikipedia article on this mess early in the week and caused quiet a commotion. After a few days it was deleted due to copyright concerns. Most likely it was drawn by someone at GE, but the document itself seems to have originated at the "USNRC Technical Training Center". It's been getting a lot of attention this week, wherever it came from.

EDIT: OK, I have seen pictures of refueling operations at other plants, and am now convinced that that pic does show a refueling operation underway in a reactor building. That yellow dome thing is the removed "head" of the containment. Most impressive.

While we have so much experience, knowledge and wisdom focused on this disaster, could I chip in and ask for an opinion on the claims of the relative safety of the Thorium fuel cycle?

What would have happened to a Thorium reactor in this situation?



You're not the first person to mention it here this week. It looks like it might hold some promise and yield benefits beyond what we have now. I think the 2 biggest obstacles to it are pointed out right in that article: Only 1 liquid core reactor using thorium fuel has been built, and it has almost no relevance to nuclear weapon technology. The second "drawback" sounds insane to me, but there you have it.

When did reactor 4 explode? Is there a video of it exploding? I missed it in all the news coverage. I remember there was an announcement of a small explosion in reactor 2 which coincided with a loss of pressure in its reactor vessel.

How in the world did a fire in the spent fuel rod pond in reactor 4 cause the concrete wall of its containment building to collapse? Maybe another hydrogen explosion?

We don't seem to have any video or any real info on how reactor 4 building got into that state. Reactor 4 building is where they are worried about "re-criticality". Some suggestions from Russia that fuel pool at reactor 4 is loaded beyond design capacity.

We can be certain that TEPCO/Japanese authorities have video of incident (even if in the dark) but have chosen not to release. Either that or they are incompetent beyond belief.

Bottom left of this image (reactor 4 building). What are we seeing?

Crop of main image bottom left


From which image was that cropped? When was it taken and from which direction? I would guess it's looking at the SW corner, but it's so grainy even that's hard to say for sure.

Circled in image below. Don't know what I'm looking at which is why I'm curious.

Those buildings would be the turbine buildings, I would think. The area you circled appears similar to other spaces seen in the turbine building for Reactor #1 and #2, but the opening is on the other end of the building...

E. Swanson

Blown out door.


Hi U,

Could you possibly be a little more specific?

i.e., (is there something you think it is - or isn't?)

This sounds like someone got the terminology wrong again. The officials have told IAEA they think the Monday hydrogen explosion may have damaged the concrete containment structure around Reactor #3's pressure vessel, but they aren't sure. As long as the reactor vessel itself is intact, it won't matter if the concrete containment structure is damaged or not. Plus, Reactor #3 had backup cooling systems running longer than they did on Reactor #1, so the core would be at a cooler state and much less likely to overheat catastrophically if the coolant was lost inside the pressure vessel. Like the damage to Reactor #2's torus, these are not critical damage concerns unless the reactor vessel itself (the big thick steel cylinder containing the reactor and fuel rods) ruptures, and none of them have done this. Steam has been venting from all three reactors to reduce pressure inside the vessels, and the explosion may have damaged one or more of those valves.

The other concern is the spent fuel storage ponds on both Reactors #3 and #4. The one on Reactor #3 contains plutonium based spent fuel rods, while the one on Reactor #4 contains spent fuel rods and the reactor's complete set of fuel rods that were removed for maintenance purposes and stored in the spent fuel pond. They believe the hydrogen explosion on Monday may have damaged the storage pond on Reactor #3, and the one on Reactor #4 has been overheating for several days now.

This sounds like someone got the terminology wrong again. The officials have told IAEA they think the Monday hydrogen explosion may have damaged the concrete containment structure around Reactor #3's pressure vessel, but they aren't sure. As long as the reactor vessel itself is intact, it won't matter if the concrete containment structure is damaged or not.

I think you're commenting on the quote from the NYTimes story at the top, right? They refer to the containment structure as the "containment vessel," inviting confusion with what you're calling the "pressure vessel," which they call the "reactor vessel." But then the headline says "Reactor may have ruptured," so you don't know what the hell that refers to.

Breaches in the containment structures are a problem, as I understand it, because they allow the release of radioactive steam, which raises the radioactivity levels in the plant and makes it much more difficult for the workers to continue the various emergency procedures to keep things cool inside the reactor vessels, as well as to cool the fuel rod pools to avoid a really massive release of radioactivity if those rods are exposed.

And if they can't keep the reactor vessels cool enough to prevent a full-scale meltdown, it's not impossible the reactor vessels themselves could be breached, also releasing huge amounts of radioactivity. Nobody seems to know for sure whether the reactor vessels can contain a meltdown.

(Corrections welcome; I'm just trying to get things straight in my own mind.)

The usual problem: Complex technical issues translated in the media through English majors.

..English majors who are trying to interpret a variety of pressurized Press-Secretaries, Prime Ministers and Power Company PR People.

Who you gonna lay it on, Shakespeare or the SOP?

"I wanna be a Doctor, Lawyer or Physician, a member of the UMC.."

Containment integrity is officially listed as "Damage Suspected" for both reactors 2 and 3 by the JAIF (Japan Atomic Industrial Forum). See http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/

Yes, that was what I was commenting about. The "reactor" is the device sitting in the steel pressure vessel. None of them have ruptured and none are likely to do so as long as they keep venting steam and circulating water through them. The last reports I saw indicated that Reactors #1 and #3 were considered "stable" for both pressure and temperature. Reactor #2 was considered "unstable" mainly because the coolant pool in the pressure vessel was lower than they liked. Any containment damage has so far taken place in the concrete structures surrounding the steel pressure vessels, or in the coolant rings at the base of the concrete structures.

As for whether the cores could still meltdown if they lost all coolant again, I'm not so sure of that. Reactor #1, the reactor with the longest period of coolant pumping loss, suffered a 70% core damage. Reactor #2, which had two extreme coolant loss events, has suffered only a 33% core damage. The difference? Reactor #2 was under control for about 18 hours longer than Reactor #1, and had already lost a lot of its residual heat.

All of the reactors have had continuous water cooling them for over a day now, and all the secondary isotope reactions should be dead as well thanks to the control rods. A partial meltdown/hydrogen explosion is probably the worst situation that could happen now; bad enough but nowhere near the full meltdown the press appears to be breathlessly reporting on.

RPV (reactor pressure vessel) sits inside a larger steel containment vessel. The larger containment vessel is normally kept dry, as opposed to the RPV which has the fuel inside and water-in steam-out circulation.

The "torus", or suppression pool, is a key part of the containment, and your characterization of it as "not critical damage concerns" is incorrect. It's meant to relieve pressure inside the primary dry containment vessel if steam should escape the RPV. Such steam is assumed to be somewhat radioactive. The "reactor vessel itself", the RPV, most probably has been breached, if not from meltthrough then by fitting/plumbing failure. That could be true in Units 1, 2 and 3 by now.

You say:

None of them have ruptured and none are likely to do so as long as they keep venting steam and circulating water through them.

I think that's demonstrably false since that's the only place the unplanned radiation releases could have come from. If nothing else, they have been admitting for days that they have problems circulating water through the reactors to keep them cool.

Then you've got this:

all the secondary isotope reactions should be dead as well thanks to the control rods

Got anything to back up that assertion? You're doing a bad job handwaving away the extent of the damage. I think every one of your statements is factually challenged, but I'll stop there.

I don't think we should apply the decay heating (cooling off) curves for U fuel to the MOX rods for #3. Does anyone know the decay curves for these. The inventory of fission isotopes must differ because the source is different.

I doubt we have MOX spent fuel rods, probably the first batch is in the reactor. Still virgin (except for possible overheating) MOX that was never loaded is probably in the "spent" rod pool.

Would the "virgin" rods be hot at all? They I would think they have basically only long-lived isotopes (u-238: half-life 4.5 billion years; u-235: 704 million years; plutonium-239: 24 000 years).

They came out of Reactor #4, so they were already somewhat used and enriched with the other isotopes everyone is worried about. I don't know how long they were in the reactor though.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300273535P.pdf has some damage data with non-ambiguous vocabulary.

Besides Charles Hall's & co's presentations and studies (Hall, Charles A.S. & Cutler Cleveland, EROI: Definition, History and Future Implications”. Presentation at the ASPO-US Conference. 10.10.2005. http://www.esf.edu/efb/hall/talks/EROI6a.ppt, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2211, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3877, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3949), what are the best sources on the EROEI of nuclear power? Would need some figures as the discussion is picking up, locally...

Here is a really good review of the many studies of Nuke LCA:


Thanks; really impressive!

nice paper, though I was surprised - was reading LCA as
Loss of Coolant Accident
instead of
Life Cycle Analysis

time to take a break from this crisis I think.
Best wishes to those who cannot take a break.

BEIJING — China suspended approval on Wednesday of 28 planned nuclear power plants while it revised safety standards, making the surprise announcement after Premier Wen Jiabao met with top advisers to discuss Japan’s nuclear crisis.

The government said it was also requiring safety checks at all existing plants.


TEPCO struggling to cool nuclear fuel at quake-struck plant

Officials said radiation levels reached 400 millisieverts per hour following an explosion in the pool where spent fuel is kept in the No. 4 reactor. The sievert is a unit measuring radiation dosage.
The surface of the pool is located on the fifth floor of the reactor building, outside the actual reactor, and stands behind steel-reinforced concrete walls. An explosion occurred at the No. 4 reactor at about 6 a.m. on March 15, and a fire broke out at 9:38 a.m. The walls enclosing the fuel pool were damaged and it is believed that a large amount of radioactive material was released. Parts of the walls on the third and fourth floors of the building were also damaged.
A Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency representative said full efforts needed to be made to cool the facility. When Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in the United States was hit by a hurricane in 1992, power was lost. Fuel was collected from facilities including a nearby hospital and diesel generators were used for a long period of time to cool the pool.

If this is an accurate description of what happened, then this explains where the relatively high radiation levels outside the reactor buildings is coming from. Reactor #4's storage pond contains both spent fuel rods and the reactor's fuel, which was removed to perform maintenance on the reactor vessel. If the storage pond was damaged from a hydrogen explosion, the water level would drop and the rods would begin to heat up, and the rods might have been damaged by the explosion as well.

If I read this paper correctly I think that hydogen is formed AFTER rods have heated up because the zirconium in the casing binds the oxygen from the water.



Some hydrogen is formed from the nuclear decay process. It's a small amount, nowhere close to the rate the cladding creates when it oxidizes, but if it collected somewhere and was ignited by a spark, it could cause an explosion. I've read in a Kyodo News report that the Reactor #4 fire came from a pump that was leaking oil, but that doesn't explain the initial explosion.

Roberto Alvarez says this at the Institute for Policy Studies:

"A 1997 report for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by Brookhaven National Laboratory also found that a severe pool fire could render about 188 square miles uninhabitable, cause as many as 28,000 cancer fatalities, and cost $59 billion in damage. A single spent fuel pond holds more cesium-137 than was deposited by all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the Northern Hemisphere combined. Earthquakes and acts of malice are considered to be the primary events that can cause a major loss of pool water."


The Science Editor of Newsweek wrote a nice piece using that material to explain what could be happening:


Can anyone working in the nuclear industry comment: The spent fuel is normally allowed to cool in these pools for several years allowing short half life isotopes to decay, yes? Won't these pools need to have water levels maintained for some time? And if the zirconium cladding has burned and released the fuel rod material, won't this mean the cooling steam will carry away radioactive material for several years?

With the secondary containment buildings blown apart (and so tall) I wonder how they will get a new structure constructed around it.

Pardon me if I missed this elsewhere, but I'm curious about the following:

1. Where are the hordes of Japanese Robots to investigate the reactors? All joking aside, why haven't some form of remote viewing been used to see whats going on inside? Surely the Japanese SDF have those fancy bomb robots...or drones...or a remote controlled helicopter with a video feed...

2. Or, maybe this has already been done and not released...


The military always had to harden everything for high radiation environments. Maybe it was just another tax. The anti-radiation shots were what, morphine and iodine?

Just a nit, but in my one interaction with that sort of work, the hardening was against intermittent radiation, the kind you get from actual nuclear blasts. Reboot-fast was the design at the time (decades ago). Surviving steady irradiation was not in the spec.

I recall leafing through Harris Corp. catalogs for rad-hardened electronics in the early-90's, the specs definitely included long-term operation in hot environments. That company got out of the business some time ago, but you can still download a description of the specs and designs, for example: Radiation hardened transistor characteristics for applications at LHC and beyond (1997) (pdf)


The U.S. military will operate a Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft over a stricken nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, possibly on Thursday, to take a closer look at its troubled reactors, a Japanese government source said Wednesday.

Photographs taken by the plane equipped with infrared sensors could provide a useful clue to what is occurring inside the reactor buildings, around which high-level radiation has been detected.

Sorry, Gundham is just a cartoon. The only robots in Japan are roombas.

Just a few more years and they might have sent a few of these in there:


Or one of these:


They can use Roombas to clean up this mess.

Gundam Seed mechas are mobile suits.
Honda robots make ours look pathetic... except we don't have any.
Radiation hardened controls are very expensive.
Gamma would whiz right through the Gundam and fry the soft meat filling.
Gamma would send Asimo all atwitch.
... Might be a good idea to develop a realistic solution.
... Perhaps an all fluidic design with a hardened communication means.


Black_dog's Post from Yesterday thread

"After TMI, it took about 8 years to get to the bottom of the damaged fuel rods to fully assess the impact. There was a brief mention of their findings which appeared in SCIENCE, 4 December 1987, p1342-1345. In this article, there were estimates that some 20 tons (40,000 pounds) of fuel had melted and fallen to the bottom of the pressure vessel, which still remained to be retrieved. The clean up wasn't finished until 1993..."

Hard to get you head around what a mess we have on our hands. Decades long live feed while we figure out how to mop it up? like BP / Macondo well head? Or would it all be classified? IF these costs were put in the rate base, it would make PV competitive, but as we are told PV is too expensive. Disclosure - I'm installing > 1MW of very distributed PV per year now and also have signed checks for > $100,000 in electric rate adjustments (manager for plastics molding plant) to cover cost OVERRUNS for Grand Gulf Nuclear facility located in an adjacent state. I can buy > 50kW of PV for that. It's all about cost per kWh, kWh's from PV looking better and better. The panels we are using have a 30 year power warranty, that changes the ROI quite a bit. I harvest enough juice to run my household on most cloudy days, You can afford to install larger arrays now that PV costs have fallen. Economics of PV has improved much in last 12 months. Economics for Nuclear has really changed since Friday. kWh cost from PV is well know +/-10% for any area. ACTUAL kWh cost from NEW Nuclear facilities... +/- 250% ???? We can clearly get to 20% kWh from PV in the generation base easily and economically in 10 to 20 years. Forget the IOU's - Investor Owned Utilities, Just do it.

I read somewhere that it would take 30% of the world's silver production to make the solar PV panels it would take to get us to 5%. Would getting 20% of electricity from solar PV therefore require something like 120% of current world silver production?

I'm asking because I genuinely don't know, not because I'm hostile.

Silver works best, but copper or aluminum can do the job of conducting electrons.

30% of world production does sound high to me...but then PV industry will make ~100 million panels (200W ea) this year. The silver is just used in the little tabs that connect the cells together. So I guess its possible.

The silver is just used in the little tabs that connect the cells together.

No, it's used in:
(1) the "grid lines" that collect electricity from the front (of a typical cell),
(2) the bus bars that connect the grid lines,
(3) and the back contact bus bars (and back grid lines, though almost all are using an aluminum "back surface field paste these days).
(see the nearby post of mine for discussion of screen-printed silver paste).

Front shown in this picture from wiki:

The thin lines running left-right are grid lines,
the two big lines running up-down are the bus bars. (some cells have 3).

The "little tabs" (bus ribbons) and the string interconnect ribbons are made from soft annealed copper coated with tin or some other easy to solder but non-corrosive metal/alloy. Sometimes this is a lead-free solder with some small amount of silver (typically 3.5%) in it.

A manufacturer of these is Ulbrich

Silver (and other PV metallization) paste is mostly made by Heraeus, DuPont and Ferro.

I stand corrected.

The point I had intended to make was that silver comprises very little of a panel by weight, volume, or dollar value.

You are correct about weight and volume,
but I neglected to mention another impetus for seeking better metallization than fired silver/glass pastes:
the stuff is pretty pricey, especially as silver has gone to $35+/oz lately.
(and the particle sizes have to be controlled rather exactly, just the right blend of glasses, etc. etc.)

I wanted a small quantity a while back, got a quote (can't find the exact number now),
minimum quantity was a few kilos, and it was something like 5 or 10 k$!!!
Oh well, I'm not a cell guy, guess I'll just keep making contacts to silicon samples with Gallium-Indium eutectic, 5g lasts a long time, cheap for $50.

Anyway, if you check the graphic (below) from:

Ignore the "TF" gases and stuff, since we're talking "Si" for crystalline silicon,
the lowest (large) dark blue band (that is easily visible - the Poly Ethylene Glycol band historically was large, but wire saw slurry is now recycled, recovering essentially all of the PEG and much of the silicon carbide abrasive) is "Si pastes and inks".
The only items of comparable size are the float glass and backsheets (commonly fluoropolymers).

While this graph is "market size" and not cost per module (aka panel), it gives an idea of the relative costs per module of the "parts" (though it ignores the polysilicon -> ingot costs, which are very roughly half of module cost these days).

If you could figure out how to cut the cost of metallization in half, the cell makers would be very glad to split that Billion dollar savings in 2015 with you.

"cut the cost of metallization in half"

Sadly I won't be much help there. But I do have a simple idea for reducing the cost of solar panels ~10%. Plus a few other ideas that could "enhance" those savings.

Short answer is silver consumption all depends on the rate at which the PV is built (less recycling, but that is decades away).

Long answer -> let's see what can be seen from relatively "hard" data, though of course, as everyone knows, 90% of statistics are just made up ;-)

First - the data:
Here's an article from Kitco, a precious metals house:

18 - 20 Million oz was used in 2009 for PV.

These folks
say 2009 production was 709 Million oz.

says 2009 worldwide PV production was 6.43 GWp (2010 was 18.2 GWp).
I'll trim that down to 6 GWp to account for the thin film stuff.

(n.b. PV is specified as "Watts peak" at Standard Test Conditions - eg. "full" sun, etc.)

World Electricity Generation from EIA
says 19,103.196 Billion kWh in 2008 (2009 numbers not available).
Keep the math simple + add some growth, say 20,000 Billion kWh/yr.

Hard to get numbers on PV electricity generation worldwide.
So I'll estimate: say 1800 hours of full sun/year, x the 21 GWp total installed at end of 2009
is 38 Billion kWh in 2009.

38 Billion / 20,000 Billion is .19% of worldwide electricity generation.

Going to 5%, need 5/.19 = 25x more PV, or 21 GWp x 25 = 525 GWp MORE PV (546 GWp total).

at 20 Million oz of silver/6 GWp , that's 3.33 Million oz/GWp, so we need
525 GWp * 3.33 Million oz Ag/GWp = 1,750 Million oz Ag total, spread over some years.
(That's 2.5x of one year's production of Ag.)

20% is 4x that, or 7,000 Million oz, or 10 years production.

The questions are:
(1) is how long is the buildout of the PV?
(2) how soon do nickel/copper plated lines (or other advanced metallization) replace fired silver paste?

re 1:
assume 50% year-over-year growth from 2010 at 18 GWp, how soon do we get to 546 GWp of PV?

year GWp production GWp installed
2011 27 66
2012 41 107
2013 62 169
2014 93 262
2015 140 309
2016 210 519

210 GWp/yr needs 700 Million oz of Ag/yr, so that's that max limit.
It all depends on how fast the ramp rate and buildout are.
30% of world silver would mean about (.3 * 700 Million oz Ag/yr) / 3.33 Million oz Ag / GWp of solar = 63 GWp solar/year


re 2:
For efficiency (which drives economics), and due to the future silver scarcity problem, lots of people are working on plated grid lines, usually involving electroless nickel as a barrier/contact layer to the silicon, often fired to create a silicide, then electroplated with copper since copper's really cheap compared to silver or nickel.

Currently, most silicon cells are contacted thru the silicon nitride (SiNx) Anti-Reflection Coating via a paste made of glass frit, silver dust and binders. This is typically screen-printed on, then fired in a furnace, which melts the glass, causing it to dissolve the SiNx ARC under the paste, and the silver melts and makes contact with the silicon. But, the silver doesn't make good contact if the silicon "emitter" (the (usually) front part of the silicon wafer that is doped opposite the base material of the wafer to create the semiconductor junction) doping is low (which would make for a higher efficiency cell), so currently most cells are sub-optimal in having highly doped emitters. Also, the frit ends up all mixed in the silver, so the finished conductor is not solid metal, but has insulating voids/blobs, which wastes electricity via resistance.

So to make a more efficient cell, one wants a "selective" emitter - one where the light absorbing area is less doped so it's more efficient, but the area under the grid lines is more highly doped so the electrical contact is better. Once one has a selective emitter, one wants to get the power out without high resistance losses, hence the development of solid metal contacts.

One was is to dope under the grid lines, an example is the Innovalight silicon ink process, where one prints a highly doped ink where one wants the lines to be. Then one can metallize in various ways. One tactic to reduce silver use is to print and fire a fine/thin silver line, then thicken that by electroplating pure metals. Even using silver, that reduced the amount of silver used, since it is used more efficiently (more conductivity for same amount of silver vs. fired pastes).

Another way would be to deposit a layer of nickel or cobalt, and fire them into silicides,
which are low resistance contacts employed in the chip industry. These contacts do NOT need a highly doped silicon layer, and make better contact. Then pure metals are electroplated over to build up the grid line so it has low resistance. These metals form barriers to copper migration, so one can use copper as the main conductive layer (copper will over time diffuse into the silicon and reduce PV efficiency).

When these processes, in limited production/prototype stage now, get rolled out, silver use will no longer increase, and in some years will decline as old equipment gets replaced. Nickel and copper are far more abundant and cheaper than silver, so the silver limit to silicon PV disappears. Aluminum can also be used in certain processes.

Photon International magazine just had a few articles on these processes, Dec. 2010 for the selective emitters, July 2010 for metallization.
Perhaps a university library near you has it.
It's very good, but individual copies are 31 Euro, subscriptions 230 Euro, students 115.

Nice graph of the PV materials market here:

I can't find a nice graph of world PV production year-over-year at the moment,
one would find such info (for a fee!) in reports such as:

An idea of US growth can be had for free here:
link to executive summary is

interesting "ancient" history of solar energy (ends in 2002).

The economics of nuclear power, at least in the US, can't be assessed as long as the industry is insulated from the cost of potential liability. In other words, until they have to buy insurance for their nuclear plants, we can't evaluate the true costs of building and running these plants.

As it stands today, they don't have to buy their own insurance beyond a token amount. The "Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act" makes sure of that. The reason for that Act, which has been renewed in some form for decades, is that they can't GET insurance at reasonable rates. The vast majority of cleanup costs and other liabilities associated with nuclear power will be dumped squarely in the laps of the taxpayers when significant accidents occur. In the meantime, the industry reaps huge profits.


If the risks of nuclear catastrophe and the associated health risks are so overblown and over-dramatized, as many here contend, then why is it so hard for the industry to obtain insurance on the open market? Everyone, on both sides of the debate, should lend their voice to getting indemnity for the industry taken off the table. It's impossible to weigh risks vs benefits any other way. The current situation is artificial and dishonest. That Act also prevents anyone IN the industry from being able to have a frank discussion on the matter. Their profits are of more concern than... well, more important than any other aspect of the discussion.

My own take on this is similar to my take on what's happened in the financial markets over the last few years: We need banks. We don't need THESE banks. We will need nuclear power going forward, of that I am absolutely convinced. We're not going about it in the right way, however. Not even close.

Using a riot control water cannon truck? I gotta give it to them, little McGyvers they are.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and damaged in the earthquake Toukyoudenryoku East (Ookuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Futabachō) for Unit 4 of the 16 police the night, pour water from the ground using the riot police water cannons, a cooling announced plans to aim. Drainage is good to have a vehicle waiting at close range to leave Tokyo already, you can work without being subject to health plans to take 17 every morning for discharge.

According to police officials, have been proposed for use, the only one held by the police in police departments across the country, "high pressure water cannons," believed to be. An ordinary water cannons to be deployed each one by a few riot police, a riot of high-pressure water cannons (Chiyoda), with only. Capacity of 4,000 liters water entering the tank. 12 survive in large hydraulic pressure fire fighting vehicles, that have the ability to fly a short distance, 100 meters.

This has been reported that water cannon at the top of Unit 4, they have a dozen riot police, hit the protective clothing work with the help of the SDF. While we proceed with caution in measuring the amount of radiation could be a dangerous situation if 取Riyameru.

Original Japanese story: http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0316/TKY201103160496.html

I think the Japanese are reporting they are now requesting level 7 status.

The first nuclear power plant accident levels or 7... Administers Seki's opinion
Fukushima nuclear power plant
[Washington = Yamada Tetsuro] U.S. civilian agencies, the International Security Research Institute (ISIS) at 15, Fukushima first nuclear power plant accident information stipulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) international nuclear event scale (INES) level or 7 equivalent Outlook announced.
The Institute pointed out "cannot longer see level and". And that "could reach a level close to the level". Past accident in the history Soviet Chernobyl nuclear accident was level is level 7 and us three mile island nuclear power plant accident.
(2011-03-16 22: 56 The Yomiuri Shimbun)


Google Translate's version:

Yamada Tetsurou WASHINGTON - U.S. civilian agencies, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) on April 15, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) established by the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) 6 level presented the view that 7 or equivalent.

 The institute "can no longer be viewed as a level four," he said. "Near the level 6, level 7 may reach" are trying to. In the past, nuclear accident, Chernobyl level seven former Soviet Union's worst, from the Three Mile Island accident was the U.S. level 5.

Yahoo's Babel Fish:

The American civil organization, the scientific international security laboratory (ISIS) announced opinion that in level it is suitable 6 or 7 with the international atomic energy phenomenon appraisal scale (INES) where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decides on the 15th, concerning the accident of the Fukushima first nuclear plant.  As for the same laboratory “it cannot already see as level 4,” that it points out. “To be close to level 6, perhaps, it reaches to level 7,” that it has done. In the past nuclear accident, the worst old Soviet in history & Chernobyl nuclear accident was level 7, as for American Three Mile Island nuclear accident level 5. (2011 March 16th 09:56 Yomiuri Shimbun Company)

So maybe I am still right? Do the Japanese have an incentive to seek higher status? Does the IAEA even talk to the Japanese when they make their decision? Maybe not for you but someone could say.

I think actually the statement was made by the US think tank ISIS. See here:


ISIS Statement on Events at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Site in Japan

March 15, 2011

ISIS assesses that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has worsened considerably. The explosion in the Unit 2 reactor, the third so far, and the fire in the spent fuel pond in the reactor building for Unit 41 means that this accident can no longer be viewed as a level 4 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Events (INES) scale that ranks events from 1 to 7. A level 4 incident involves only local radiological consequences. This event is now closer to a level 6, and it may unfortunately reach a level 7.

Sure a third party but back to the original question does this number mean anything like special IAEA/IMF dollars or something.

Hmm, I have no idea. I would have thought they'd want to avoid as much bad publicity as possible - Chernobyl has enough stigma surrounding it, I doubt Japan would want to share in it too!

The Japanese may not realize it yet but this is pretty much OJ, pay-per-view, bad press. It does not get worse.

You are correct. The article is only reporting on what the ISIS said.

The classification is for the Japanese to do, and unless they are obviously mis-classifying it, their classification will be accepted.

Its obviously worse than TMI now, so that means the initial classification of 4 has to go, but I don't think its equivalent to the level 6 exemplar yet so top of 5 or bottom of 6 remains arguable either way.

There are so few examples above level 5 that the scale isn't well defined. When it eventually gets classified, it will become the exemplar of whatever it gets classified at, just as Chernobyl is the examplar of 7 at the moment. Since there is something of a gap at 6, I expect this will end up as the exemplar of 6.

The Japanese need a way of justifying the hardships that the evacuees are going through. That would give at least some Japanese authorities a reason to classify it as high as they can.

I think they will need more levels than 7 for this one. Perhaps that is why they left Chernobyl at 7, looks like things can get much worse than Chernobyl.


Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Hmm.. and I was just tossing around,

Quint: "Anti-shark cage. You go inside the cage? Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark." , 'Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies... '

Just a word of caution. Everybody needs to be careful with all these machine translations of Japanese articles. For some reason its very difficult for computers to translate from Japanese to English. These machine translations seem to work much better among the romantic and germanic languages. I'm guessing because they are so similar and share many common roots. Japanese has almost nothing in common with English and that seems to screw up the computers.

So please don't take these translations as any more than very rough approximations of the original. Most of the time if you see something very alarming its probably just a bad translation.

The Kyodo news site is doing a very good job of keeping things up to date in English. I'm watching it more than I'm watching the Japanese sites.

Another good source is the English translation of NHK World.
Although the translators don't seem to have a technical background and seem often to be as confused by the press conferences as I am.

I don't know. "second coming" was scary enough but your translation of it as "re-criticality" is even worse...

This crisis is bad enough without all the engineers and techs being raptured away :-)

i wish there was a "like" btn here. Hysterical.

Agreed rethin most folks can spot it a mile away. What I am consistently seeing time after time is the US version of the stories seem more sanitized, information is left out or wrong, or just plain way late. I feel like I am running a regional news desk from the back of a van. I think most folks know to use multiple sources, translators and such. Like I found out about a gold scam. Seems Japanese criminals are going around collecting gold saying it is for the nuclear effort. No way we get that story through normal channels. The eyewitness testimony was hair raising even with the bad translation. Yes, keep me honest but this is serious. I will keep it coming with links and disclaimers. I was telling folks to check out the communist site yesterday. I am such a patriot too.

Auto production outside Japan starting to be affected:



What appeared to be smoke coming from the No. 3 reactor in the morning led the top government spokesman to point to the possibility of damage to the reactor's steel containment vessel, but it seemed more likely later in the day that the smoke was radioactive steam coming from the No. 3 reactor's spent fuel pool.
The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the first priority should be pouring coolant water into the pools at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, which are apparently boiling. Unless the spent fuel rods are cooled down, they could suffer damage and emit radioactive substances.

If cooling operations do not proceed well, the situation will ''reach a critical stage in a couple of days,'' an agency official said.
The nuclear agency said Wednesday that the water level had dropped in the No. 5 reactor, which was not in service when the killer quake jolted northeastern Japan, posing the risk of overheating. The agency said it will closely monitor data on the reactor to prevent the problems that occurred at other reactors.

My initial impression of the photos suggested that the "smoke" was actually steam - it just had that very billowy, very white look associated with a big steam cloud (although I'm sure there are substances that can release smoke of that color as well)...

Seeing the German and Chinese reactions to this event leaves me to speculate what the future holds for nuclear power. It seems to me that most countries will postpone or cancel new builds for safety/fear concerns leaving the current fleet of reactors to age. As these old plants approach retirement there will be an "oh sh**" moment and there will be a realization that electricity demand cannot be met. This will result in older reactors being pushed past their design date to meet the future demand with a rush to fill the void with new reactors. This seems like an unsafe approach.

As an aside can anyone tell me what the fields are around the plant currently? Can anyone quantify the releases?

See Euan's piece on the main site - he agrees with you. As I posted there, though, I'm not convinced this accident is the political end of nuclear just yet, though it's certainly a setback for the pro-nuclear camp. From my point of view, it actually is the start of the politics of it - it reopens the issue in a particular way by calling Western reactors into question on safety grounds, an issue which the industry had managed to close off, or at least protect from the ravages of Chernobyl ("silly Russkies/Commies were lazy on safety, but we democratic chaps know better"). Both China's and Germany's responses are couched as "checking safety" - which gives them the political leeway to say "Nothing to see here, everything's fine, could never happen here, no earthquakes, new reactors are better, one in a million shot!" after a few months. No doubt those few months will involve intensive lobbying of various sorts, too - we are already seeing the beginning of it with "the reactors held up surprisingly well" vs "we told you so".

It took a long time and a lot of failure to effectively kick new nuclear build into touch in the UK, and a major foreign accident was only a part of the story.

CNN just reported a 10km evacuation zone around Daini. That plant was reported to be in cold shutdown yesterday.

I think I saw that before:
[3:07 a.m. ET Wednesday, 4:07 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] As a safety precaution, the Japanese government is now telling people living within a 10-kilometer radius of the Daini plant, the second nuclear power plant in Fukushima, to evacuate.



That evacuation order has been in place for a few days now. Although the reactors are now all reported in cold shutdown, status of the spent fuel pools is listed as "no-info". Why that should be I don't know. Can't they just go and look? Or is there yet more they are not telling us unless they have to?

Possibly they also vented some of the reactors at Daini prior to finally reporting cold-shutdown.

That evacuation order has been in place for a few days now.

True - but with the extraordinarily bad flow of information on the Japanese part- even CNN has to fall in the pit of multiply recycle already reported messages days apart, there is no time-line in the repostings from say NHK-tv.. and even listening of events happens orally , where a printed list (of radiation with timestamps, name of village/city with nos of missing, etc)) shown on the TV could save 5 minutes of faulty repostings and ease the info-imprint . Jeezz.

In Norwegian news the IAEA boss, Yukiya Amano, puts it in plain words : We don't know what is going on there(!)

Important section translated-
VIENNA (VG NETT) - IAEA has the best atomic experts (in the world), just sitting there looking at what happens in Japan. They are not able to do anything and above all, actually they don't even know what is going on (over there). ( http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/jordskjelv-i-japan/artikkel.php?artid=... )

I think it all is about that "Wont lose face"- complex

Daini also apparently has mains power back online. It should have many options available to control any issues that arise.

I am severely ignorant when it comes to these matters so forgive my elementary question. What's happening in Japan fascinates me so I registered in order to ask this one question. Just say, worst case scenario, there is a full meltdown and corium melts through all containment measures. Wouldn't the lava simply melt through the floor and into the ground thus mitigating the amount of radiation spewed into the environment? I can grasp how melted uranium/mox pellets that somehow make it into an open-air environment would render large swaths of land uninhabitable so perhaps I am underestimating the power of high-energy particles to travel through soil/containment/outer housing.

That's right.
The molten mass would just sink into the ground and be "gone".
Problem solved...............Not!

It's unlikely that the melting core would burn through all containment even in a full meltdown in a well designed reactor, BUT...
The outside possibility is that it does melt through and keep on burning down into the ground until it hits the water table, THEN it would produce a "volcano/geyser" of super heated steam that would blast radioactive contamination into the environment; "The China Syndrome".

It's doubtful that the "China Syndrome" scenario you described would ever happen. Chernobyl was about as close to that as we'll ever see, and the molten core stopped in the reactor basement. The heat transfer ability of the melted material drops as it burns through various materials, and the Fukuyama plants have several layers of containment that Chernobyl didn't have.

The core would have to melt completely to get through the first layer of defense, the 8" thick steel pressure vessel, which has water inside it for additional cooling. If it gets through that, it would have to burn through about 10 feet of steel reinforced concrete (which Chernobyl didn't have), and then into a "core catcher", which is an even thicker concrete bowl designed to spread any molten material out and cool it even further. Both the concrete containment structure and core catcher can be flooded with water to cool the material as well.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't have a core catcher. As far as I'm aware there are only 2 operational plants that have one and they're both in China.

Someone familiar with this particular design said they did have core catchers. Nevertheless, since it is very unlikely any of the cores is going to heat up enough to fully meltdown, that scenario isn't going to be tested. For that matter, the Chernobyl meltdown didn't melt through all the concrete below the reactor, and it had zero cooling on it after the explosion.


Someone posted a link claiming there were core-catchers, but if you read the comments, it sounds like he didn't know what he was talking about there.

Your post was most helpful. Thanks.

The most dangerous stuff is the waste fission products, not the fuel itself.

If the fuel gets hot enough to melt, it gets hot enough to vaporise the fission products trapped in it, and these get released from the fuel.

Its not molten uranium going down thats the biggest problem, its the Caesium, Iodine etc. vapours coming off it and escaping into the atmosphere.

It being right next to the ocean, (and post Tsuname), the danger would be that it gets down there and hits considerable amounts of ground or sea water, and vents, possibly explosively, vast amounts of radioactive vapor uncontrollably into the atmosphere and/or spreading it through the ground water routes..

In theory and in case of Three Mile Island, that is exactly what..did not happen. In TMI part of the core melted and collected at the bottom of the reactor vessel (pressure vessel). So even if it melted through, it still had a meter of concrete to melt through. In Chernobyl corium melted through the vessel and spread on the concrete floor. "chernobyl corium" in google produces bunch of images of Chernobyl and TMI.

Physically, radioactive stuff is separated from the environment by 1. cladding of individual rods 2. pressure/reactor vessel 3. reinforced concrete building 4. external shell Essentially: 1. and 4. are partially gone, 3. is damaged and 2. is holding

http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300273535P.pdf has lot's of details about damage.

Containment pressure at reactor 2 is not holding though and is at atmospheric pressure.

So you mean the steel vessel of the reactor is breached or the concrete structure around it.

I believe they think the pressure suppression system is damaged - that is a rupture in the doughnut shaped thing for want of a better description.

The "torus" I believe is what is damaged.

Yes, they believe the torus has a breach in it. It's outside of the concrete containment structure, but since the torus has access through the containment structure, if a meltdown did get into the bottom of the structure we'd be looking at a possible release of radiation through the breach. I'm assuming there are valves that could be closed between the torus and inside the containment structure but don't know if they could hold up to the pressure generated by molten reactor plus steam and hydrogen.

You make the 'China syndrome' (once viewed as the worst possible case) sound like the best possible case. i.e. where the fuel becomes a huge hot slag that just melts its way all the way to China (if it was a USA reactor . . . and it would never make it to China, it would just stop at the middle of the earth). But that China syndrome was apparently a fiction that just doesn't happen.


I think that the reactor problems after five days of better or worse cooling is the lesser of the worries, compared to fuel rods.

The reactor that I'm building in my back yard is gonna have a 4' deep raised bed of mixed kitty litter and vermiculite underneath the reactor vessel.

Not to worry.
I've got this.

The China Syndrome scenario is where the fuel melts thru the bottom of the steel pressure vessel and then thru the concrete into the ground below, which would then cause steam explosions as the very hot material reaches ground water. The steam explosion would tend to spread the radioactive material over a wide area. Fortunately, every day that the cooling is maintained will lessen the residual heat generation, eventually killing this scenario...

E. Swanson

Hi dolphin558, you may find that responses to your question contain an undertone of snark. The background for this is that, as one of the few useful sources of energy-related information, The Oil Drum is swamped with newbie questions any time a significant energy event happens. They try to be patient, they really do....

That said, it seems to me that during the gulf spill, there were some basic information pages floating around, or links to basic information. Any plans to create some for this crisis? (If there are, my questions would be "How much radiation, and of what types, has already been emitted, and where? How much does it take to sicken people/animals?)

Yes, I do pick up a level of snark. I'll try harder next time to find answers to my base level questions.

I told you they would make it. The YEN goes UP. The locals say it is because the Japanese feel a duty to invest in themselves now more than ever. War bonds. Maybe the world is in on it too.

Why a nuclear power plant accident in the appreciation of the yen? Wary of buying dollars, overseas investment
Companies also secure domestic funding
2011/3/17 0:44
East Japan large earthquakes that occurred this month, is to Japan economic impact is concerned, TEPCO's Fukushima 1st 1 rising yen/US dollar rate in foreign exchange markets are witnessing serious accidents in nuclear power plants, but. 16, In the overseas market temporary dollar = 80 Yen to circle is bought. Summarising why earthquakes after that appreciation of the yen.


The Yen going up is very bad news for the (export-lead) Japanese economy.

Now that the plant failure is approaching level 7, Chernobyl levels, I'm fascinated to see how the various nuclear shills and apologists magically are fading from view here, as each day's spin method has failed as events worsened steadily.

I was hoping that they would have the decency to vanish as the situation worsened, and apparently they are now going to regroup as the nuclear industry figures out how to handle this PR disaster. Clearly, the type of: everything is fine, the defenses are working approach taken here in the first day's threads isn't going to cut it (and that poster, the main one pushing that point, has not made another entry I have seen since then, by the way), neither is the: it's only a level 4 failure, the systems are in fact working.

I was listening to the radio this morning, Thom Hartman show, he's fairly sane and coherent, he was interviewing an Irish author who lives in Tokyo, he said yesterday there was a briefing/new conference for ex-patriots living in Japan. The nuclear expert was asked, ok, say we can't afford to leave the country, what should we do? The expert replied: leave the country. Wish I could source that, but that's the gist of it.

But overall I view the daily progress of these threads as most interesting as exposing the methodology of the nuclear industry's spin and PR methods, whether directly, from paid posters, or from people who have absorbed the message from corporate media sources over the years without realizing it, then internalized it (like the film Inception, for example) until they believe it's their belief/conclusion.

Remember, in the USA, the nuclear industry is a massive lobby, and they were looking at a massive rollout of plants, so now they are looking at a major re-examination, or not, depending on the level of the corruption by corporate campaign funding (bribes) and lobbying (also bribes, usually in the form of the revolving gov->industry career path).

However, as linked to above, even the Chinese are reacting instantly, as would anyone sane, ie, which, considering the degree of corruption in China, says quite a bit about just how corrupt the US now is. Note: the US Republicans want to cut the tsunami warning system, and when asked if they would reconsider that specific cut, being proposed now, they said: no. These are psychopaths, and anyone who is a true Conservative should be distancing themselves from these lunatics as quickly as possible.

By the way, some people ask why people have this strong reaction to nuclear energy when technology x or y kills/maims more people. I think the reason is that some people intuit the qualitatively different type of toxin that these radioactive methods are. The intuition is more valuable than the attempt to rationalize this fundamentally unnatural technology, and runs more deeply. This doesn't make the other toxins we generate less toxic, but it does indicate not everyone is brainwashed, and some trust their feelings, which in these cases are actually far more reliable than any generated rationalization.

Remember, full waste disposal, over the history of the waste, or no discussion to even start the process. Radioactive waste is bad news. One system failure and the waste pools are boiling. Why are we assuming our plants will be in societies that continue to function while at the same time occupying a forum where an ongoing discussion of systems failure due to oil depletion is a constant theme? It's one or the other, either the systems will weaken and fail, as they will, as oil depletes, making the future of maintaining these toxic methods highly questionable, or we will be able to skip hand in hand happily for the life of the planet, with neither natural nor social disasters to disrupt our bright future.

I learned this morning that a Detroit nuclear power plant was only about 1 minute from meltdown, but the industry/media coalition has managed to keep that story suppressed.

Since a 1 minute from meltdown is really getting to the point of pure luck one way or the other, it is totally valid to include that as a full failure, only one that turned out as a best case, just as the Japan situation is becoming one that is turning out a worst case, but both cases are full failures and should be considered as such.

Which is another spin point the shills were pushing, only one failure in the US....

I was pro-nuke before this. I was pro-oil before Macondo. I was pro-defense before Iraq and Afghanistan. I was pro-choice until I saw how happy Ireland claims to be. I was pro-guns until that congresswoman got shot. I am scared to admit I am pro young women, I may not survive the outcome.

Irish girls who get knocked up just take a train/ferry/plane to the nearest country that supports abortion rights. So don't be too impressed by their levels of happiness, which you might also want to revisit now, since the so called celtic tiger economy is in deep shambles, with despair and misery replacing the blind optimism of the recently deflated bubble economy they were in. Whatever our personal views of abortion, those views have to consider our real overpopulation today, which make an ideal world where such things didn't happen simply not the world we now live in. By the way, Christians get this wrong, it's not 'human life' that is of great value, it is all life, especially sentient life.

But overall, anyone who can change ideas based on new circumstances is admirable. That quality is so much more pleasant than blind adherence to often highly negative ideologies, in exclusion of all empirical reality, which seems to be becoming more and more popular around the world.

Here's hoping humans are smarter than bacteria... the comparison to yeast doesn't seem fair to yeast...

I learned this morning that a Detroit nuclear power plant was only about 1 minute from meltdown, but the industry/media coalition has managed to keep that story suppressed.

You need to dig more Gill Scott Heron - he documented it in song.

First this is not approaching a level 7. This is not even close to what is happening in Chernobyl, at the very least it is too early to tell.

The radiation levels at the edge of the plant are around 40 mrem/hr (400micro sievert/hr). Those are levels that you don't want to hang around in but nothing lethal by any means. Inside the plant the levels are obviously much higher but nobody has died from acute radiation poisoning. Injuries from the explosion are obvious. Why don't you tell me how many people died in that massive fire ball that erupted from the gas refinery? Do you even have any sort of statistics on how radiation dose increases cancer rate?

This is not an unnatural technology at all, in fact there is evidence of natural occuring reactors in africa when the natural abundance of U235 was higher. One system failure did not cause the waste pools to boil. Three lines of system failures caused the pools to boil. I question you knowledge of plant safety systems at all. Primary, secondary failed and tertiary battery banks ran out. The secondary systems failed on because their tsunami wall was 5.5m instead of 7m. When everything around the plant is destroyed, we are talking about how the plant is struggling to retain radiation levels. The nuclear industry has a terrible PR problem because individuals like yourself are running around proclaiming the dangers of the technology with absolutely no knowledge of anything except what you hear in the media.

Just because you do not understand how nuclear technology works does not make it inherently unsafe. The Chinese and German reactions are ridiculous and I am glad I live in Ontario where they will be going ahead with the new builds. Now if I lived next to a gas refinery I might be a bit worried.

Hey, we may be saved yet. On the other hand, experts probably with bigger wallpaper than you say otherwise. Anecdotal stories about natural occurrences are not placating anyone. The nuclear industry has a terrible PR problem beaucse of what has happened. The oil industry the same. If I lived next to gas refinery I might be more worried than if I was next to a nuke plant. If I was next to this nuke plant, I would probably kill you to leave if you got in my way. You engineers had your chance. Now we liberal arts guys get to rip you and nukes a new one. Don't feel bad, try working for $10/hr for three decades. Actually though, I have both.

TinFoil; Please reduce the noise/signal ratio. You're virtually hijacking these threads.

I agree, but then again I don't see a lot of complaints so they must enjoy reading the drama-queen commentary.

Oh, good, I was wondering what the next phase of apology would look like, ok.

I'm reading upthread, where the Japanese requested the level 7. Before you type why don't you try reading first?

As I note, the ability to rationalize and internalize then totally ignore the waste disposal issues are key pointers to alert you to the fact you are looking at a non-objective pro-nuke proponent, paid or internalized largely does not matter.

You are trying to use words to deceive here in my opinion, I am referring to the overall system failure, that system is composed of various components, all of which belong to the nuclear generation system. Trying to avoid a systems type view by pointing to individual components then trying to explain those away in order to recreate reality is a method used by lawyers, so I'm going to assume you are in fact a PR person, not a standard poster. I could be wrong, but I think that particular argumentative method is a subtle mental tick that paid debaters tend to utilize.

Saying the system failed because the tsunami was x instead of y meters high is about as absurd as saying someone dies from a gunshot because it was 3 inches to the left of missing the heart, and so being shot by a gun is actually fine. The overall systems failed because they are in an active earthquake zone. There are no magic tv sets that will let us see what magnitude of earthquake will occur in the future, in fact, we don't even have a way to determine if an earthquake is even coming, at any magnitude. So all such predictions are meaningless. The San Andreas fault might find a new way to slip next year, for example, that delivers a 9.0 earthquake, which people like you will then apologize for and say the 7.9 (or whatever plants here on the West Coast are designed for) was totally adequate.

Hopefully this doesn't represent the best you can do as an apologist, but I do understand, it's hard to assemble the new talking points this quickly in real time, but thank God the people who respond to this on deeper levels are not going to fall for such attempts in the short term.

But don't worry, I have full faith in the ability of the nuclear lobby to keep the pressure on and get the plants built where-ever they can succeed.

Also, luckily, crisis mobilizes and alters underlying core biases, as it did here in the US, with 3 mile island, and those core biases are going to be very difficult to overcome with a few typed postings and soothing talk.

The nuclear industry has a terrible PR problem because the people are able to intuit the lies and BS spread by it, not because they are stupid. As usual with all apologists, you totally fail to deal in depth with the long term disposal issues.

I don't need in depth knowledge of the systems in place since I just watched them explode, twice, into fireballs. And we are now watching 50 men donate / sacrifice their lives to lingering slow painful deaths as true heroes. Which makes your "but nobody has died from acute radiation poisoning." so completely disgusting. Please have some respect for those extremely noble and brave souls who knowingly are willing to give themselves and their futures and their families to prevent an even larger disaster from happening.

This is not one of the stronger pro nuke postings I've seen, but as I noted, obviously the industry will need to work overtime to generate its new spin. I suggest you hold off on these types of postings until the situation has stabilized and put under control, then people will be calmer and propaganda will work better.

From BBC live blog, now:

# 1933: Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said he plans to fly to Japan on Thursday to get further information about the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The BBC's Kerry Skyring says Mr Amano is under pressure to demonstrate his agency is informed and able to communicate a clear picture of what is happening. "At daily press briefings he has been unable to explain why the information provided is so sketchy. As well as flying to Japan to what he says are high level meetings he is creating two teams who will also go there, one with expertise in nuclear safety, the other in radiation protection," our correspondent adds. Asked if the situation at Fukushima was now out of control, Mr Amano said: "It is very serious. The government and operators are doing everything they can. I hope their efforts will be successful."

# 1900: Mr Jackzo said the high radiation levels would make it very difficult for workers to get near the reactor. "The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time," he said, but added that the NRC's information on the situation was "very limited".

# 1859: More from NRC chair Gregory Jaczko. He told Congress: "We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures."

# 1843: White House spokesman Jay Carney has said the latest US evacuation order does not signal a lack of confidence in the Japanese authorities, AP reports. He said US officials were basing their recommendations on what they would do if such an incident happened at home, and that they had consulted with the Japanese government before issuing the advice.

# 1837: Gregory Jaczko, head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said there is no water left in the spent fuel pool in reactor four, adding: "We believe that radiation levels are extremely high." Mr Jaczko was speaking to Congress in Washington and it was not immediately clear where his information had come from.

I am not apologizing for a thing. The system as a whole has not failed yet as there has not been a core meltdown. The system as an entirety would include the containment structure to hold the core in the event of an entire meltdown. Radiation dose to the public is minimal. Calling me ignorant for not acknowledging the workers in the plant is absurb, I think I am in a better position to judge what the risks are then you. I am also in a better position to know the consequences, of which you have no knowledge whatsoever. So accuse me of being ignorant but it appears you have little shame in using those men to advocate your cause.

Anyway, the design basis was incorrect and nobody is disputing that. The x metre wall will be improved to y now and the lessons will be incorporated. As long as the containment structure holds and the dose to the public is minimized then the industry can move on. Attempting to declare nuclear power as a whole is unsafe is absolutely ridiculous. I will just wait for the corrective measures to get in place and watch as the consequences are minimal.

I didn't call you ignorant, I called you an apologist who was deliberately trying to minimize the fates of those brave 50, which you did, and which you now pretend you didn't do. Refusing to even take ownership of your own words in this manner is all I need to know about you. You should type and read more carefully, and also keep in mind that as soon as a response is posted, you cannot edit your postings.

You are here also continuing to be an apologist. The fact you can even enter the words "The system as a whole has not failed yet as there has not been a core meltdown." is just as ridiculous as your attempts to ignore the future death of the 50 men.

The system is exploding and failing daily, I seriously suggest you hold off on these postings until the system becomes relatively known and controlled.

We have all watched the reactor plants explode, one by one, two suspected core breaches. Would you please stop this nonsense with word games and weak attempts to redefine systems failure towards a receding horizon? I understand how difficult it is to occupy non-tenable positions intellectually, but try to at least put some thought into words, especially when the thread you are posting in directly negates them?

See, now I see the new method: blame the design basis, but it's ok now. Given a major failure about every 10 to 15 years, I guess we'll see how that goes. Also, ignoring the ages of the world's plants is interesting, aging because the population does not want to permit more, when they can stop it. And of course, after removing all state funded subsidies and the absorbing of all long term crisis and clean up costs, which if privately insured would be astronomically expense, this isn't even an economically viable model in the first place. That means we are looking at yet another crowd of corporate types lining up at the public trough, offsetting risk to the social body while absorbing short term gain, at our expense.

I also note you ignore all key points raised here, which is no surprise.

Just checked, a member for 4 hours, so I'm going with my conclusion, this poster is either a paid PR shill, or is very much like one, the way language is being used I have seen before from other professional shills (break into pieces, then try to minimize each piece until you can get the jury to return a verdict of innocent due to reasonable doubt, all signatures of professional rhetoric types. Happily, while lawyers and such think this is a normal way for humans to operate, normal humans don't so you can almost always tell), who were open and at least honest about their status on those forums, but who used methods that are identical in every way. No surprise, I knew with 100% certainty such types would appear here.

Just checked, a member for 4 hours, so I'm going with my conclusion, this poster is either a paid PR shill, or is very much like one,

Or a troll ? Does too much own-cause damage to be a PR agent, surely ?

No, trolls are different, I am very familiar with that particular pathology, I work around the internet.

This is just your run of the mill predictable action taken by an industry that knows exactly what is coming now, I have seen this precise rhetorical method used before in other areas involving other inexcusable corporate fields of action, only openly, and I recognize the signs.

You can never know for sure online, but I'd guess this is a paid poster. It takes a long time to read these threads, and he probably has to post on other locations too, so doesn't have the time to read the actual content here, which is in real time negating everything he is posting, which suggests but does not guarantee the presence of an external agenda, aka talking points of the day.

The industry and its apologists would be well advised to step back and wait, as you note, the damage at this point will be self-inflicted, and is probably not a wise long term strategy on their part. Things are moving too quickly now to safely make any statements of an apologetic nature.

I certainly waited before concluding this was a massively serious issue, to the annoyance of some posters I think, who had a better sense of the scope than I did at an earlier time.

Anyway, the design basis was incorrect and nobody is disputing that. The x metre wall will be improved to y now and the lessons will be incorporated.

Wow, 'development by catastrophe', and 'incorrect' magically becomes correct, by replacing x with y !!

- I think you did your claimed cause some serious harm there.

However, even with this amazing spin, you still feel the need to add some escape clauses :

As long as the containment structure holds and the dose to the public is minimized then the industry can move on.

Hmm, I wonder what 'hold' really means here ?

So the Spent Fuel issue is neatly ignored, as are such high radiation levels that impact worker access.

but the funniest is left for last as the consequences are minimal,

Yup, Billions of dollars have been wiped off Nuclear infrastructure plans in a few days, and the claim is "the consequences are minimal."

The consequences are already worldwide, and very large indeed.
Do not confuse death-by-radiation counts, as a 'success' indicator.

If you start a nuclear reaction like we have in these power plants and leave it unattended then does it remain "safe"?

If you cannot do this then nuclear power is indeed "unsafe". Pretty simple stuff, dude. Everything else is you trying to make something "unsafe" be "safe".


Are you a PR person though?

Ian Malcolm: "I hate it when I'm right.."

The difference between nuclear technology and oil and gas is that if the Worst Possible Scenario happened at all the world's gas/coal power generation stations simultaneously, and they all blew uncontrollably into little bits, everything would basically be OK except for the consequences of power outage.

If the Worst Possible Scenario happened at Chernobyl or some other such reactor, the result is that Europe would have been uninhabitable for effectively eternity, with the habitability of the rest of the globe in question as well.

At the end of the day, we don't really need the electricity that much. Human civilization continued for over 5000 years without electricity. We could retain virtually all of today's meaningful electric-powered advancements, including computers, televisions, refrigerators, electric trains and lights, with 1/3d of today's electric usage or less.

"if the Worst Possible Scenario happened at all the world's gas/coal power generation stations simultaneously" - well it happened, in part, there, we call it global warming these days. Not as spectacular as exploding reactor roofs, not as fast as a cloud of radioactive debris, but the effect is here with all of us, it is enormous and irreversible. But it's out of interest when people make their judgements.

If all four units in Chernobyl would have burned as #4 obviously it would have been much worse, yes, it would have contaminated Europe badly, but far from inhabitable. And that reactor design was a goddamn pit of hell compared even these 40yr old BWRs. Now Fukushima looks like crap, it will do some harm, it will hurt people, but not to the extent you believe.

Of course nuclear waste from all plants must be taken care of, there is research, I believe there are already finished plans for reactors that besides producing power, burn this "spent" fuel to shorten it's dangerous effects to about ~2 centuries, which, while I agree is a lot of time, still looks somewhat shorter than it would take to remove all those greenhouse gases your gas/coal plants gushed into the atmosphere.

60 years of nukes vs. 120 years of ff power generation, yet the negative effects are hard to compare.

They can be extremely hard to compare, when the Nuke industry,

1) born under the codes of Military Secrecy, and
2) grown out into an industry with some extremely high salaries, and
3) exemplifying our model of 'invisible energy slaves (and their droppings)'

..became particularly good at hiding inconvenient downsides, slipups and irregularities, and playing on the invisibility of the energy source to blame the public for its 'Irrational Fears'.

No known human non-sustainable, large scale, centralized, culture has been able to correctly predict the condition of that human culture 2 centuries in its future.

Just 65-70 years ago bombs were being dropped on all key facilities in Europe, Russia/USSR, China was being bombed, Japan was bombed. That's only 70 years, not even remotely close to 2 centuries. And that's only one way things can and do go bad.

Yes 2 centuries looks shorter, but there is no way this heavily industrialized system is going to exist in 2 centuries, sorry. It's a blip in history, a dip at the bottom of the pit.

The comparison of nuke/coal is false, both are used, and coal is not slowing down, it's speeding up.

I think the thing that is hard to grasp here is that when we started using nukes, this was basically a tacit admission that we had reached the maximum levels, looking at matters from a relatively sane 1 century perspective. All nukes did was let us dig ourselves a bit deeper, with slightly longer lasting toxic waste as the outcome.

Coal alone is being used at full production rates. I realize we have been brainwashed for decades about nukes being a replacement, that was the dream promoted in the 50s, but reality soon showed that the old too cheap to meter dream would never happen. And it never has happened.

In a way nukes are the ultimate toy/gadget, only it's corporations that profit from making these, and so they are understandably reluctant to release the tax payer funded teat. In my view, the actual max happened some time in the 70s, only we are only now starting to see it.

I will repeat my point I made yesterday, not one pound of coal has not been burned, in the long term, from nukes being online, but a massive amount of conservation has NOT happened in the first world because of them. These are just enabling devices, not positive future paths. The developing world is developing on coal, and is adding nukes as well. Besides, uranium is depleting as a resource, and will deplete even more quickly as global demand rises.

I keep seeing this fallacy being typed here, the USA has something like 50% of its energy being generated in coal powered plants. They are adding more I believe, so is China, India, etc. I think even Saudi Arabia is looking to add coal power, because oil is too valuable to burn. If you draw baseline of generation, I will bet that expansion in consumption since the 70s largely matches the expansion of nuclear. Nuclear is digging us deeper, it's not helping us get out of the problem.

Looking globally, coal is produced at top levels, it is rising in price, so clearly demand is outpacing supply, thus no coal use is being saved at all, we are burning coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium, at full speed. There is no surplus coal being produced, no surplus oil, and I believe, no surplus uranium. There is a small uptick in gas because the US market is flooded, so that's probably what we should be using as we try to find a lower level of consumption. This logic isn't complicated so I think it's just mental habits and repeating what we've been told rather than any malicious attempt to deceive here.

In other words, it appears that we are now on the inflexion point of major change. This inflection point can be determined when the key resources are no longer able to keep up with demand, that is demonstrated by the price the market demands to supply them. The only question now is how long the current levels of consumption can be maintained. Once those cannot be maintained, you will see wars, increasing system instability, and it is this that forms the ultimate reason to stop all nuke development now. We will not have the resources to correct the failures in the future. Coal is merely the silent killer that creeps up on us, but is even worse, but adding bad to worse in no case results in better.

These wars and system instability, by the way, are not hypothetical, they are happening now. Iraq is one such, a miserable failure, but still that's what it is. The Mideast convulsions are one way you can see how systems destabilize, often in highly unpredictable, chaotic ways. Those are the weak links, the way the stronger links manifest these instabilities is not yet known, but one thing you can be certain of, there is no safe predictable future for a nuclear power plant in any nation in the world over the next 100 years. Some may do ok, but that cannot be predicted in any meaningful way.

Both Coal and Uranium are non-sustainable, highly toxic materials, neither of which has any place in any sustainable energy mix, but sadly, both are promoted by entrenched corporate interests who do everything they can to keep these profit generators running. Profit for them, not for us, we pay the price, so does the planet.

All true.

Thank you for saying it.

Yes, thanks, h2. You have made the most articulate, logical yet concise arguments against nuclear power that I have seen anywhere. I've copied a couple of your comments from yesterday and today here and sent them to friends.

I'll be uploading some of this material here in the next few days, at least the more interesting posts I've made, in modified and edited forms, including the one above. If you'd like to see a specific post I made, send me a link from here and I'll add it there after updating it to fit as a standalone comment/posting.

Please note that site has been in transition and no longer really is going to deal with most of its old subject matter in the way it did previously. Also, I don't post there very often or consistently, time is an issue. Rather than re-edit the old stuff I'm just going to leave it there, but I should say I no longer view matters the way I did when that started.

Comments that I view as stupid or negative or counterproductive will be removed, so don't waste your time if you're a denialist or apologist for ecosystem destruction.

I'm going to continue exploring some of the more interesting notions raised by people like Soros, and others, along with various other interests I have that don't really fit into TOD stuff.

Those natural reactors in Africa used much less concentrated fuel than a modern power plant. They also burned out long before people arrived on the scene.

Methane gas is natural too, I'm sure you emit it yourself on occasion. Does that mean you are willing to walk into a room full of methane gas and strike a match?

Nuclear power is indeed inherently unsafe. We do everything we can to make it safe. But humans are fallible and make mistakes, and that is why nuclear power will remain unsafe for our use.


h2, I think you weaken your argument by talking about intuition and feelings as reasons why some people reject nuclear power as a viable energy option. The "it just ain't natural" admonition doesn't fly.

Rather, the "feeling" that nuclear power is a bad idea comes from a layperson's appreciation of systems, geography, demographics, probability, and time. The big difference between nuclear and other toxic methods of generating energy--is time. Nuclear power relies on materials that will be hot and dangerous for many years into the future. The idea of tending to these things, feeding and watering them, preventing them from making people sick and keeping them out of the hands of criminals for hundreds of years after they've outlived their usefulness just isn't very appealing. And it's not just the problem of single, horrible crises, it's a problem of many small failures and hidden costs that could continue to accrue for generations. The more we build, the more significant the problem in 500 years, or a thousand, if any of us can think that far ahead.

What I'm trying to say is that this understanding isn't really an intuition or a feeling in the sense of "Running the numbers would change a person's opinion about this," it's more of a practical understanding that even a very rough run of the numbers drops the option out of consideration.

Along the same lines: you don't have to re-run the number of tickets sold versus the odds before any given lottery drawing to know that any effort to make a secure retirement from projected winnings is a bit of a fool's errand. The odds of nuclear energy being a long-term good idea is the same practical calculation run in the opposite direction.

I will no doubt take some heat for this post.

erica mulholland, Since your explanation is really just a more complicated, and rationalistic oriented, way of explaining part of the intuiting process, I don't really see any significant conflict or point of disagreement. There's a large difference between having a semantic disagreement and having a core level disagreement based on deeply rooted and non-debatable biases held by the unreasoning parts of our minds.

So you could well be right, it could be a case of enough bits of data entering people's minds to allow them to then intuit the fundamental irrationality of the entire nuclear project, which is really only about 50 years old now, maybe 60 I guess in terms of public power generation. I continue to be somewhat flabbergasted by the horizons insisted on in such discussions, like: ok, we made this, 10 years ago, now we need it for all future years. Or 20 years, whatever.

I wish some part of our culture would embody the true long term natural processes and timelines which is where these events truly unfold, and skip the deeply egocentric: a long time is the time of my time on earth, which seems to have replaced such wiser methods and views.

Also, when dealing with social attitudes, the apparent logic and reasoning processes you are looking for are unfortunately harder to find in the real world, but they are fine to grant in this context, since it alters nothing fundamentally. However, I believe I give such 'intuitions' far more credit than you do, and I don't do that for a random reason, this is the seat of wisdom, well documented now for millenia. The problem has always been in clearing away the garbage that obstructs this tool.

Your points seem pretty valid overall, but I am comfortable in pointing to non-rational causes for core decision making and bias formation, and I feel somewhat comfortable in doing so because of the very fine companionship I find that supports this position over our centuries here on earth.

It's very important to not mix the two fundamentally non related concepts of 'non-rational' and 'irrational'. The non in Non-rational means the same as the non in non-fiction, not rational, other than rational, just as non fiction is not fiction, other than fiction. Only modern industrial man holds the belief that the rational is the all, and modern industrial man so far is showing a very bad track record as a steward of the earth. Irrational means a failure in the process of applying reason, often caused by such factors/failings as greed, arrogance, pride, lust, laziness, etc, all nicely documented as well over the centuries. The two have no connection, and should not be confused or used as synonyms.

But I can dump this entirely as a rhetorical method and agree with you completely with no alteration at all of my core point, so I will agree in this case, since it makes little difference. Personally I would suggest that there are those who have the ability to do such intuiting, and the way they do it probably mixes what you describe with what I'm looking at, so it's probably a good idea to fine tune the question as you did.

By the way, I continue to be absolutely amazed at my good fortune to have started in on a certain research path, including the Soros book, then being presented with a live, real world verification mechanism, both in these threads and in the world at large, in such an amazingly accurate manner. I cannot recall any time in my past where such things achieved such congruence so neatly, so I'm going with it.

I learned this morning that a Detroit nuclear power plant was only about 1 minute from meltdown...

First and only commercial breeder power reactor in the United States, built and run (briefly) by Detroit Edison. Described in the book "We Almost Lost Detroit" by John G. Fuller. After a near meltdown (that no one heard about at the time) in 1966, it was decommissioned.

It is interesting that the failure of TMI and Fermi 1 were both cooling related. TMI also had a cascade of faults, though much less serious, including human errors. Nuclear really won't be fail-safe ever, most likely, but a focus on inherently stable operation might be a good design guideline.

Maintaining water level shouldn't be that hard -- a big pond gravity feeding through a float-valve would work, once the critical point of atmospheric venting has been reached. It almost appears that more effort has going into preventing modest radioactive steam releases than major core melts.

Regarding the PR of nuke Industry proponents, I am reminded of this gem from Sam Smith:

"5. Don't let anyone -- in industry, government, or the media -- define an "acceptable level of risk" for your own death or disease. They may not have the same vested interest in the right answer as you do."

~Sam Smith, A poker player's guide to environmental risk

I am quite alarmed at the passive censorship in America.
Google has only "Tsunami" and "Nuclear Energy" headings on its NEWS.
Everything to do with the unfolding hazard must be sought by hand.
On the radio, the wholly-owned radio, the Clear-Channel radio,
only praise of nuclear power. Only derision of the concerned.
This is actually scarier than the accident. Americans are kept as sheep.
Baaaaaa. Baa. Baaaaaaaaaaa!
Shame on us for losing our drive, our energy, our outrage!!!!

They order the stories on my two big sites AL.COM and NOLA.COM . They moved me to the back pages by 6AM this morning. I was using terms like animals walking in pairs. Creoles have their own language. The papers will Email me by next week, unfortunately. Same thing happened for the oil spill. No one would give me the time of day there until the folks there started to see for themselves. The Cassandra Complex. Always fated to tell the truth, never believed. Finally consumed by a sea monster.

KalimankuDenku, please don't mistake a for profit ad serving business such as Google for the media.

However, on a technical level, since I have worked in this business, I'll explain how Google works:

They maintain huge calculated databases of search results. These results are based on web scans that run continuously, but not in real time, and these scans are then digested and processed by huge server farms, continuously, then weighting factors are applied to every single web page scanned, then those results are sent back to the search engine itself, which then uses them to return results.

Since this a new event, relatively, the results will still be skewed towards the older web sites and their covering of the key words you entered, based, again, on a complicated set of formulas that try to determine what most users are looking for and what pages best satisfy that.

The News part of google is a different system, what it does is almost the opposite, it scans news from current to less recent, with priority given to current, then returns the results that your key words were looking for. You also will not see anything but news sources returned in the News section of google, mostly, and in the primary section, the attempt is to return the overall best page, no matter the source, to that query.

Clear Channel, like Fox, is a for profit, right wing news / media group, and should never be used for anything in my opinion, unless you enjoy constant attempts to insert false and pro-industry ideas into your subconscious. But you are right, of course you will hear pro nuke spin, that is a huge spender, a massive industry, and they are looking at seeing huge losses and rollbacks now, just as they did in the much less toxic and catastrophic 3-mile island, where the population correctly grasped the degree of danger, the same one I have seen denied here over and over, and said NO.

Thank god we have at least a partially functioning democracy, weak and distorted by corporate media and influence as it has grown.

Hello H2

Thanks for the clarifications. Database management is not my strength.

Google News is part the media, these days... isn't it?
People get a lot of their news online.

Clear Channel and similar radio station monopolies are hard to avoid.
If a channel, a frequency, a station is available
and there is any chance of it becomming a free voice of communication
they will buy it up
and turn it into a sports station or a Spanish-language station.
Here on the central coast of California, in the daytime
(when A.M. radio waves do not propagate or travel so well as at night)
there are about four of each:
4 corporate right-wing conservative stations (Rush/Savage)
4 sports stations 24-hour
4 Spanish-language stations
4 Christian stations 24-hour
0 (zero) free voice stations
1 country-western

After 911, the John Lennon song "Imagine" was banned from Clear-Chan.

Kalimanku Denku, a song

KalimankuDenku, I spent more years than I want to think about learning about how Google works.

Google news is most definitely NOT a part of the media, in fact, many media outlets are banning google news spidering bots (automated web crawlers that send data back to the central processing servers) because they feel they are losing eyeball/adclick revenue because people stay on the google news pages and never go to the news site (google makes its largest percentage of money remember from keeping people there and having them click ads, google ads on outside websites also create profit but most newspapers don't use those).

Other news sources are increasngly beginning to add paywalls and microfee type billing in order to start monetizing their online ventures, which are fairly consistent money losers, with a few exceptions, like The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, ie, sources that have a built in market who needs the news for work and wants it online and is happy to pay for that.

How google works is fascinating, but as a problem it was not hard to solve, so I moved on to more interesting things.

No argument re clear channel, except to suggest just turning it off, that's what I do. I never listen to commercial radio, with the exception maybe of Thom Hartman's show, which is technically commercial but he's pretty objective as these things go. He might even be on clear channel in my area, not sure.

Well, ok, I admit it, I listen to sports radio, but that's a weakness I don't mind since it's somewhat soothing and predictable re what they say, and most hosts are told to avoid most politics etc, and their biases really only extend to not upsetting their potential interviewees, advertisers, and franchise owners in general.

Oh! O.K. ... So what I am observing is the sum of requests?
The public eye has moved on?
A lot of people, even here, burn out, become fatigued, by sorrows.
I have the cart before the horse, as it were...
A confusion of cause and effect...
But I get my news from Google
Because I'm lazy

Part of my problem in seeing what you see is that, having worked with google search issues for years, I know almost exactly how to enter my search queries in order to achieve the results desired. This changes in subtle ways by the way with every core update of their key algorhythms, so one has to watch and update one's methods.

Here's for example a search query I entered to get google news on the japan nuclear issue:

I don't want to go off topic, so I'll keep it brief: google customizes its results based on several factors: one, the value of the key words being searched for. Two different algos are used in this step, depending. Two: the returned results actually clicked on and selected by real google users. Three: your own selections, tracked by a user cookie.

Depending on the search terms, you can see roughly how this works, one by simply removing or disabling google cookies temporarily. Your search results should differ slightly then, since google is giving you what they think you want to see. You are also seeing in real time roughly what searchers are clicking on for the search terms flowing through the google system. Google is smart, very smart.

By the way, one way PR groups determine how to focus their efforts is precisely by seeing which sites are coming up highest for the relevant search terms.

Keep in mind, while filled with news, TOD is classified, I assume, as a forum/blog type site more than a news type site. Google ranks and decides what type of site and page each page it stores is, like, forum page, blog posting, etc. That's why it can know something is a news site, a blog type item, etc. I assume google uses a relatively hardcoded list of news sites it considers valid and real, which is not how they usually do stuff, they prefer to do everything dynamically, with little or no human intervention.

H2, Thank you so much for these insights in to Google.

I do notice that the results are very variable,
even when using the same search term twice in succession.
I had attributed this to being served by different nodes of a
distributed system.

You point out the adaptive aspect of Google.

Thank you

John Lennon, Imagine, with lyrics:

So... who's the non corporate owned media? (Or not-for-profit ad serving business) media?

guardian.co.uk is one. It's funded by a type of trust fund, it's actually a truly autonomous, yet well funded, primary news source. I don't read them that much, but they are real, and are free to print what they want, more or less.

The list is pretty short after that. Thom Hartman I believe owns and distributes his radio show.

Maybe slate, but they are corporate I think, not sure.

There's not a lot, maybe if others know of some they can mention them. Of course, bbc is good, some other state owned or funded like aljazeera are doing very impressive reporting, shaming all of the mainstream sources in my opinion.

In general, I grew up seeing that state funded news tends to be more serious and less flakey than corporate stuff, that's certainly the case in Northern Europe. But news has changed a lot, the days of Murrow etc are long gone, where news departments were loss leaders that actually took journalism seriously, and had a sense of public service and responsibility, now it's pretty faces with good hair that can sell advertising time.

Thanks for your actual response to my mostly rhetorical question. But you did help make my point - it's a short list. In addition to those you name, I'd point folks to democracynow.org, pacifica radio, FSTV and Link TV. Most folks, of course, have never heard of any of them. The big megaphone media is all corporate owned, has the lions share of the audience, and because Fox is so far right, all the rest of them get to be bashed and cower as 'the liberal media', when to a corp. they are owned by Wall St. & Co.

I noticed the passive censorship from Google News also

The default Goggle news search term 'Nuclear Power' gives an entirely different list of articles vs. the search term 'Nuclear Crisis'.

The easiest way to demolish a democracy is to eliminate an informed electorate.

News of the ME isn't leaping off the page either.

Move along; nothing to see here.

I am not surprised that two search terms give two different sets of results. I would be surprised if they did (give the same sets)

But... isn't that what you'd expect as you're entering different parameters?

I'd be more concerned if they were the same!

What I'm concerned about is the selection of a generally positive spin search term as the default by Google. People can be herded very easily.

I use google news every day, and I search specific sites every day. I have seen high profile sites disappear from the search queue (like prior to the previous 2 GWB elections) only to reappear after the election.

Google explicitly removed, manually, the famous GW Bush 'miserable failure' googlebomb result, but only after it had served its purpose. In fact, in my view, they actually left it running for much longer than they needed to do, in my opinion because they thought it was really funny, which it was.

Normally though they prefer to handle things like this algorithmically, it's almost a mania with them. Well, not almost, it is one.

Google is unlikely to be presenting skewed search results, at this point, but they did recently do a massive spam algo redo of their core logic, which resulted in some major changes in the results, and which normal users may only now be noticing the results of, that was just a few weeks ago I believe, maybe month, not sure.

My guess is the way words are being returned is more a function of the for profit part of google, where certain so called 'money' search terms in general trigger a secondary, added on set of results, which is calculated in less live a manner than your generic non money key word terms are, which are not in fact the core results, but may be the results people tend to be looking for with those key words.

In other areas I'm happy to abuse google for various bad things they do, but it's my feeling/opinion, fairly educated, that this is not the case here. Also make sure to not confuse the adword results around the search results, those adwords are almost certainly being bid up by the nuclear industry to drive traffic to the sites they are building now. BP did that too, if you remember.

Send funds to wikileaks, openleaks, and wikipedia, if you want to have access to facts not currently passively available.

The truth may come out via them... someday.

Ha! Like I was trying to tell my wife the other day, once robotic maids, bartenders, cooks, waitresses...etc are perfected, the Masters of the Earth will have no use for us at all. I used to think at that point they would simply eat us like in "Soylent Green", but now I think it is more likely they will convert us into cattle feed for their filet mignons.

My wife told me to shut the hell up, put on my happy face and come and watch TV with her.

Just stumbled across this fascinating Wikipedia entry and thought I'd post it for anyone who might be interested: The Demon Core.

That is a good example of a criticality accident. Blue flash of light, but no explosion, no mushroom cloud.

I remember studying the second event in college. The nuclear engineering professor said they learned a lot about radiation poisoning from the event, because the people in the room were standing at different distances from the core and thus got different doses of radiation.

One of the chief technicians for Chernobyl also saw the exposed core in the flesh and not only didn't die there and then, but is still alive, IIRC.

This is also used as a plot device in Edge of Darkness. And there's only the original BBC miniseries, when I refer to that title.

John Cusak reenacted the event in Fat Man/Little Boy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Zg69OlFOac

Edit: I clenched when I watched it again.

Here is your robot

Pouring water from Fukushima 1 second and helicopters backed securities considering contact U.S. unmanned aircraft launching
Tokyo electric power Fukushima part 1 are we going to do to avoid the crisis of the nuclear power plant cooling. 3 16, raised the white smoke considering dropping water in Eva-self-defense force helicopter from spent fuel to cool off, but as the height of the radiation dose to forego is 16, citing. Piece work from land-based metropolitan police riot water cannon vehicle already arriving on the scene. Preparation starts as soon as the water cannon, machine, such as. There is concern both untreated used fuel rods is overheating dissolve the external high concentrations of radioactive material was emitted.


Hopes new power line may ease Japan nuclear crisis

TOKYO — The operator of Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant says it has almost completed a new power line that could restore electricity to the complex and solve the crisis that has threatened a meltdown.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said early Thursday the power line to Fukushima Dai-ichi is almost complete. Officials plan to try it "as soon as possible" but he could not say when.

The new line would revive electric-powered pumps, allowing the company to maintain a steady water supply to troubled reactors and spent fuel storage ponds, keeping them cool.

Reported from Japanese story. Thanks.

If they can get the offsite power running at the plant again, the primary cooling pumps can be turned back on. They push a lot more water through the reactors than the emergency generators and pumps can handle, so all the reactors should be cooled off even faster once this is accomplished. The spent fuel ponds may still be a problem, especially since the building surrounding Reactor #3 was badly damaged by a hydrogen explosion and damaged Reactor #4's building as well.

UN Calls Emergency Meeting as Japan Nuclear Crisis Deepens

March 17 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations’ nuclear agency will call an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Japan as a breach at the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant increased the risk of a radioactive leak.

IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano is flying to Tokyo to talk with authorities today and will return for the meeting as soon as possible, he told reporters in Vienna yesterday. It will be the first extraordinary meeting of the agency’s 35-member board since his election to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei two years ago.

Don't remember them doing that for TMI

Especial recognition and honors are due to the emergency works for their heroic efforts:

"The 180 emergency workers have been working in shifts to manually pump seawater into the reactors because last week's earthquake and tsunami disabled main and backup power for electric-powered cooling pumps."
New power line almost ready at Japan nuke plant

Japan crisis reaching worst case scenario-Russia

"Unfortunately, the situation is developing under the worst scenario," Sergei Kiriyenko, who presides over the bulk of the former Soviet Union's military and civilian nuclear facilities, told Reuters.

Kiriyenko said Russia still did not have full information from Japan on the situation so Russian experts were having to model the developments at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Kiriyenko, who often accompanies Russian leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin on trips abroad to seal nuclear deals, said the crisis was likely to have a negative impact on Russia's booming overseas nuclear power construction business.

They're probably reading TOD

They are probably writing it.

But unlike the knee jerk politicians in the west they won't shut down their own industry. Seriously, the current reaction is absurd. Are they expecting magnitude 9 earthquakes and tsunamis in Europe and the US outside of California? The failure at Fukushima is the positioning of the diesel fuel tanks and generators. In spite of all the praise for Japanese engineering they made serious blunders installing an off the shelf US design without even moving the control room out of the basement. For California and Japan a magnitude 7.9 earthquake is not an extreme outlier but something much weaker than what can occur in the lifetime of a plant (say 60 years), so who are the intellectual giants who came up with this design value?

Macondo taught us not that we should get rid of oil, it taught us we should spend more money on the safety margin. You could call it more attention to the job and less to the dollars. Maybe a man with an axe was primitive and a another man waiting with another extinguishing substance is silly and historical in today's world, but it was also easily human powered too. I want to see where we all signed off on the change. You ask for the law and the tax tables when you need them and can get them, who said going cold should require generators without another option?

Where Kiriyenko loses, Sechin gains.

US Urges Citizens to Get Away from Japan Nuclear Plant

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has advised Americans to evacuate the area within 80 kilometers of an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant, or take shelter indoors, out of concern that radiation leaking from the plant could contaminate the area.

The evacuation warning, issued by U.S. Ambassador John Roos Wednesday, is more extreme than an order issued by the Japanese government, which has urged its citizens to take precautions up to 30 kilometers from the plant.

Roos said the order was based on the reports of U.S. experts in Japan as well as information provided by Japanese officials.


U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High’ and Urges Deeper Caution in Japan

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave a significantly bleaker appraisal of threat posed by the Japanese nuclear crisis than the Japanese government, saying on Wednesday that the damage at one crippled reactor was much more serious than Japanese officials had acknowledged and advising to Americans to evacuate a wider area around the plant than ordered by the Japanese government.

Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the commission, said in Congressional testimony that the commission believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there completely exposed. As a result, he said, “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

This suckers going down

NRC Statement http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2011/11-050.pdf

Seraph, keep watching these daily threads, you will see how the nuclear industry tries to actively spin this. The pattern I'm seeing is one person per day tries one method of apology, then fades as the more data and developments negates that method, and is replaced by the next day's method and poster. This attempt is a mistake, in my opinion, at this point, the correct strategy is to pull back and say nothing, then apply damage control after the events have settled down.

But this is why I read and like TOD, in times like this, so much real information flows out from highly informed posters, many of whom are scientists and engineers in related fields or disciplines, first and foremost of course Leanan who digs up everything and everything required to have an informed opinion/understanding (how can anyone track so many news sources? I can't, that's for sure, I have no idea how she does it) that it overwhelms the relatively feeble attempts by industry shills to redirect the information flow into more positive pro-industry directions.

I concur h2. I've been watching for the past six years.

I don't think you can EVER spin this in a positive light. This is a disaster, pro nuke or not.

Watch the next six months or so and you will find out if you can't polish the proverbial.

Certainly public attitudes to nuclear are going to have taken a massive knock - The Sun in the UK today (most read paper in Britain iirc): "GET OUT OF TOKYO NOW!!!" But we've already seen the damage limitation guys at work, and it must be nothing as to what's getting poured in the ear of energy ministers around the world, and will be being poured over the next few months.

One explanation/spin/cover-story/to "float a story"/ per day.
This is what was done after 911 when the U.S.A was invading IRAQ.
Every day, a different reason was given as to why, to what purpose.
Until they got "Traction", positive feedback, with "Bringing Democracy".
From then on out, it was a humanitarian mission!:
"They will greet us with open arms."

I'm sure the Tibetans would... but they have no oil.

"No oil, No oil... No oil, No Oil!"
"Yer all gonna die 'cause you ain't got No oil!"
(Sung to the tune of "Noel Noel")

And the war is/was called "Battle for IRAQ" on the corporate happy news.

Via Twitter ( http://twitter.com/#!/AJELive/status/48114779977560064 ):

@AJELive (AJELive)
US #nuclear chief: Outer shell of fuel rods at #Fukushima No.4 may ignite, propelling radioactive fuel over a wide area http://aje.me/i8zNSt

U.S. officials are alarmed at how the Japanese are handling the escalating nuclear reactor crisis and fear that if they do not get control of the plants within the next 24 to 48 hours they could have a situation that will be "deadly for decades."

"They need to stop pulling out people—and step up with getting them back in the reactor to cool it. There is a recognition this is a suicide mission," the official said.


Post Edit:

I'm unfamiliar with this data. Anybody, understand exposure modeling output.


Wow. Is it really a suicide mission?

MSNBC had some stories about the people who volunteered. One of them is just a few months from retirement, but is staying, with the support of his wife.

Dangerous, yes, but I didn't get the impression he thought it was a suicide mission.

Is it really a suicide mission?

No. It's an early retirement plan.

Looks like the US is worried that Japanese cooling efforts are failing. There is simply no option to stop all effort to cool both the spent fuel assemblies and the cores. Left alone, as stated above, you have a variant of Chernobyl with re-criticality and spewage of radioactive isotopes over a wide area.

There is no containment on the spent fuel assemblies so they are a prime concern. But the containment on the reactor cores has been heavily damaged so there will be release of corium into the environment in the absence of cooling.

And yet the English are not? WTH 1936 again?

The Embassy United Kingdom 16th, Fukushima 1st 1 concerning the nuclear power plant accident, nuclear power plant from evacuation of residents within a 20 km radius of Japan Government is "reasonable" British Government expert comments on the website you. Worst-case scenarios to explode nuclear reactors causes RADIUS 30 km or so severely affected by radioactive materials, partly in further away Tokyo has said "no problem".


Edit: Unless you are in the government apparently. Just like the UK to have a two class plan.
Evacuated from the British Foreign Ministry, North of Tokyo, "fear infrastructure mess"

UK advice just changed. Now asking people to consider leaving the area. Hint Hint.


We advise against all non essential travel to Tokyo and north eastern Japan given the damage caused by the 11 March earthquake and resulting aftershocks and tsunami.

... to the evolving situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility and potential disruptions to the supply of goods, transport, communications, power and other infrastructure, British nationals in Tokyo and to the north of Tokyo should consider leaving the area.

Thanks for the update. I just got two different timed stories. It is official, get the hell out of dodge. Still, I will not call PINNACLE FADED GIANT but we are close.

Sorry sir, all the lifeboats have left.

Steerage passengers; Please stay behind the locked gates.

Gandalf the Grey says a very memorable quote when an evil thing from within the deep dark places of the mines of Moria appears:

"Fly! You fools!"

In this case, Balrog -- a massive fire-breathing monster. Uranium from the deep, dark mines may become quite the beast.

Tolkien was a very bright man regarding the excesses of our industrialization.

Ah John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. You can assume that a good liberal arts major is familiar. I always thought Shadowfax was a cool name. The sad part is my flag words are real.

Pinnacle is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff OPREP-3 (Operational Event/Incident Report) reporting flagword used in the United States National Command Authority structure. The term "Pinnacle" denotes an incident of interest to the Major Commands, Department of Defense and National Command Authority, in that it:
Generates a higher level of military action.
Causes a national reaction.
Affects international relationships.
Causes immediate widespread coverage in news media.
Is clearly against the national interest.
Affects current national policy.
All of the following reporting terms are classified Pinnacle, with the exception of Bent Spear, Faded Giant and Dull Sword. AFI 10-206 notes that the flagword Pinnacle may be added to Bent Spear or Faded Giant to expedite reporting to the National Military Command Center (NMCC).

Faded Giant
Faded Giant refers to an event involving a nuclear reactor or other radiological accident not involving nuclear weapons. The most recent Faded Giant incident occurred with the explosion and sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk in August 2000.


3.2.11. FADED GIANT (OPREP-3FG). Used to report nuclear reactor or radiological
accidents or incidents to the appropriate service headquarters. The FLAGWORD

tinfoil -- are you in the military?

Used to be. Many a moon ago. This stuff is old.

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134600420

WASHINGTON March 16, 2011, 03:57 pm ET

The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that all the water is gone from one of the spent fuel pools at Japan's most troubled nuclear plant, but Japanese officials denied it.

If NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko is correct, this would mean there's nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shell of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.

Jaczko did not say Wednesday how the information was obtained, but the NRC and U.S. Department of Energy both have experts on site at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex of six reactors. He said the spent fuel pool of the complex's Unit 4 reactor has lost water.

Jaczko said officials believe radiation levels are extremely high, and that could affect workers' ability to stop temperatures from escalating.

Japan's nuclear safety agency and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the complex, deny water is gone from the pool. Utility spokesman Hajime Motojuku said the "condition is stable" at Unit 4.

How do they know? I'd wager we've a few hi-res spy satellites that are imaging the place. This, coupled, with the State Dept's directive for US citizens/personnel to move 50km away seems telling...

Actually it was 80 clicks. Dear God, look what is happening, I am activating.

Edit: Go to REDCON-2. Navy is on scene.

Edit2: I just read about an explosion of art in Tokyo. I hope it was a translation issue, I would hate to think the headline was meant to convey that thought. I did pucker when I saw it. Ok I am taking it down half a notch but I am still tremendously worried.

Nice picture.



Nice picture...

Reminds me of this, also from GE (via HULU > SNL > NBC > Sheinhart Wig Co.)

The Status Update #7 at http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/
says "water level low", "damage to fuel rods suspected", highlighted in red re storage pool.

Given the blast, and lack of cooling, and the boiloff times in the study from a link that was posted a few days ago, it's hard to image that most/all of the water is not gone.


(for a boiling water reactor's fuel in the spent fuel storage pool)

The time to heatup and boiloff down to 3 feet above top of fuel, per table 2.1 (page 2-1) after 60 days of decay time (the lowest the table goes), is 145 hours (>6 days). Did their "shroud replacement" start less than 60 days ago? If so, heatup then boiloff is faster.

Accident was Friday the 11th, today is the 16th - 5 days + hot fuel + not cooling + seiche? == little/no water in spent fuel pool ==> fuel rod rupture + zircaloy burning ==> radionuclide release + hydrogen (explosion).

I wonder if seiche had splashed out any of the water in the pool, getting a head start on boiloff.
Check out this video of a seiche in a mere 7.2 quake (the Japanese quake was ~100x more power).

I've never seen a cover on a spent fuel pool, and though the freeboard is usually high, it was a 9.0 quake.

Don't forget to add factors that these pools are Elevated (!?!)
and have been shaken, and explosions have occurred.

It seems quite likely, that their ability to hold water is less that it was !!

Japan was reported to have used up all their stocks of Boric Acid, so indicators are these are damaged to the point of leaking like sieves.

How do you keep water in something leaking, that is elevated ?

Do they have conductive foam, or lead-microspheres in foam ?

Out of Boric Acid?
Time to send the 40 Mule Team?


One of the final television roles for Ronald Reagan was as host of Death Valley Days in 1964-65. Reagan also acted in some episodes.

The USS Ronald Reagan has been supporting rescue efforts.

Nope, your mortal enemy, the Koreans. Enemies no longer.
South Korea will send boric acid to Japan to help cope with the possible nuclear crisis triggered by last week's massive earthquake and tsunami, the South Korean Yonhap news agency said citing the country's government.

There's some concern that both spent fuel ponds at Reactor #3 and #4 were damaged in the hydrogen explosion on Monday at Reactor #3, which may explain why some experts think the ponds are now empty or nearly empty.


Thank you for


The report:
Reactor Status Update 8 - NPPs in Fukushima as of 09:00 March 17
has a chart of the status of all 6 and all 4 of the Fukushima reactors.

I imagine an IR camera at 30,000 ft could give a fairly good idea of what is going on, now that nearly every relevant building has blown its top.

I remember a tour for optics professionals where a manufacturer of classified camera equipment showed the crowd two IR pictures. One was of a man reading blueprints on the hood of his pickup--engine was still hot (while drinking a cup of coffee) parked beside a worksite. The second one showed a dozen ducks in pond from which you could tell when duck was swimming in which direction from the "heat trail". They told us the photos were taken at 20,000 ft. And that was ten years ago. I only have the tour guide's word for the distance at which they were taken--but you could practically see the steam rising from the coffee cup!

The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has a nominal 25cm resolution at the surface, with 15cm possible with a couple of tricks and everything set up just right -- from orbit. It's done things like imaging another spacecraft (Phoenix) landing as it enters the atmosphere and brakes for landing using a high-speed parachute; you can see the parachute lines*. There's a lot more atmosphere in the way here than there, though.

* http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00001464/

Watch this fantastic documentary on Chernobyl. Includes extended interviews with Gorbachev, Russian military commanders in charge of handling the emergency, Russian nuclear specialists, Hans Blix (head if IAEA at the time), and people who actually did the grunt work.


Gives some idea of just how bad it was, and how bad it could have been.

The movie K-19: The Widowmaker will give you an idea of what it's like to be in a suicide situation to fix a nuclear reactor.

On the real side; there are several million Japanese who probably do not have the luxury to get out of town. I hope their government takes better care of them than our's after Katrina

Official: Spent fuel rods exposed, heightening concerns


"This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives. ... It's very difficult for me to contemplate that but it's, it may have reached that point."

Fully exposed spent fuel and half spent fuel from reactor 4 is about as bad as it can get outside of a HPME event that would somehow physically escape containment. We're talking full on 100 rem (maybe) gamma shine for anyone that peaks their head over the edge of that pool. Certainly going to make rectifying things much much more difficult. This is now a century defining industrial disaster rather than just a close call.

It's unlikely, but if the spent fuel were to rupture and say, have some pyrophoric plutonium ignite, then we're talking a mini-chernobyl. I didn't think a BWR had the capacity to loft fallout like that, but a dry fuel pool, with a half used core stored in it, covered in twisted metal and debris, a potential path for serious human health implications has arisen.

Apparently this is a link to a webcam close to plant site:


I'm unfamiliar with this data. Anybody, understand exposure modeling output. Looks 10,000's of times higher than it should be.


Ahh, so this will be what "re-criticality" is about: http://www.channel4.com/news/fukushima-the-danger-of-going-critical

"There is a suggestion that fuel rods, stored in a pool at reactor 4, somehow went "critical" during Wednesday. [ ... ]
"A criticality event outside a containment vessel is very serious," said consultant nuclear engineer John Large. "Not only does it liberate an enormous amount of energy, it generates neutrons that con penetrate heavy shielding structures,.. "

"However, evidence is now emerging of a far greater, but so far unforeseen, threat."

Now I hate to be a troublemaker, but prudence demands I ask just how common is this 'unforeseen danger' to spent fuel that's sitting in cooling pools; inasmuch as I know we have similar pools at reactor sites all over the world, and of course it leaves me wondering how extraordinary an event would have to be that might deprive one of these pools of their cooling water supply, and maybe one or two levels of backup?

I know, it was a record breaking natural disaster here.. but these failure modes do seem to have parallel vulnerabilities everywhere else, and I am concerned that these cooling pools seem to have somewhat less stringent attention devoted to them (at least as far as external protections and isolation from the environment..) then does the Reactor Core, and yet look at how this is playing out.. all the assurances I've heard here from the Pro Nuke posters presents the cooling pools as a lower-concern, except for the tragedy of all the potential fuel that these 'still powerful rods' could represent for more advanced reactor designs..

Check out this TIME article ("Nuclear Warriors") from 15 years ago.


The question of what to do with spent reactor fuel has been a nasty little problem for decades, and it's not going away any time soon. Whistleblowers are always demonized.


Galatis tells it differently. In March 1992 he began working on Millstone 1, one of three nuclear plants perched on a neck of land that juts into Long Island Sound from the shore of southeastern Connecticut. He was checking specifications for a replacement part for a heat exchanger in the spent-fuel cooling system. To order the proper part, he needed to know the heat load. So he pulled a safety report that should contain the relevant data.

But they weren't there.

"The report didn't contain the safety analysis for what we were doing," says Galatis. "No heat-load calculations." It was then he realized the plant had been routinely operating "beyond design basis," putting 23 million BTUs into a pool analyzed for 8 million, which is, he says, "a bit like running your car at 5,000 r.p.m."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984206-4,00.html#ixzz1G...

That's so American..

'I look around for the friends I used to turn to to pull me through
I look in their eyes and I see they're running, too
Running on- Running on Empty
Running on- Running Blind
Running on- Running into the sun
But I'm running behind..'

I've already commented, a couple of times, questioning whether the emergency cooling systems were actually up to the job. I am really wondering if they have been fighting a battle that has had all the odds stacked against them and the difficulties in cooling the core would have happened even if the emergency system had worked. Also, from the PDF that was posted above, I fail to see how the high pressure emergency pumps would force circulation through the core as they seem to discharge into the annulus around the core. The only way into the core being drifting through the jet pumps but a core full of steam may block that with back pressure.


plus this..

"When I started in the industry, 20 years ago," Betancourt says, "spent fuel was considered the ass end of the fuel cycle. No one wanted to touch it. Everyone wanted to be on the sexy side, inside the reactor vessel, where the action and danger were. No one noticed fuel pools until we started running out of room in them."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984206-4,00.html#ixzz1G...

A quick sidenote ... I went to the same university Galatis did. The then-head of the NRC at the time that article was written (1996), Dr. Shirley Jackson, is currently the president of that school.

I think that the original idea was that the spent fuel storage pools would just be used for temporary storage, and that a better long-term solution was needed and would be developed.

But we now know that longer term storage solutions were never developed. But even if longer term storage had been developed, I should also point out that the spent fuel rods need to cool down for a period of several years before it is really possible to store them outside of the pools.

I wouldn't be at all surprised that they just expected it to be taken away for use in the weapons program. As that wound down the used fuel backed up.


Now cnn is saying that cesium has been found in the local water supply.


Doesn't this mean that at least some of the core has melted down into the water table?

One thing they have never mentioned, is what happens to the run-off from all this pumping water.

So, it's no real surprise radiation products are entering the local water table (and likely also the sea).
ie this does not need a complete melt-down.

From BBC US alarm over Japan atomic crisis

..."It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors. The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time."

...Some US military personnel in Japan have been given tablets against possible radiation effects.

..."They are leaving us to die," says the mayor of Minamasoma inside the exclusion zone

Just caught some brief live video on NHK. Looks like steam coming from reactor 3 building. Reactor 4 building seems to be more of a mess every time I see it.

Edit: NHK now reports "what appears to be steam rising from reactors 2,3,4"

Edit: Most visible smoke/steam in new shot from 3,2 and 4 - order most to least. Although this is subjective

NHK helicopter providing live video is 30km from plant.

Blow channels from the sea to permanently re-flood the site with sea water - army and explosive experts ... ?

The spent fuel pools are on *top* of the buildings. You would have to build a big circular dam and flood it to a height of at least 50 feet.

Cranes at the top .

The pools are on the top "floor".

BTW, I believe the cranes are gone off of at least two of the buildings, which means they will have a hell of a time dealing with the rods. It will take years and years to get control of this situation. How will they build the infrastructure needed to dismantle what is left when the entire area is contaminated?

Push/pull/drag the whole works into the ocean.

Please, stop saying that!

Chu: Japan crisis could end up more serious than Three Mile Island
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 16, 2011 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)

Washington (CNN) -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu told members of Congress Wednesday that the rapidly unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan may be more serious than the situation faced by U.S. officials during the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979.


Is there any doubt here that it is already many times as serious as Three Mile Island?

Yeah, seriously . . . we passed the 3 Mile Island level many days ago. C'mon Chu, I know you want to be calm but you know much better than that.

Terror at N-plant during quake

Naoko Kagemoto / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
"It was such a powerful jolt I could hardly stand. I was thrown from side to side," he said. "I thought, 'That was no ordinary jolt.'" He also heard loud crashes of a crane, lighting and other equipment being bounced around, he said.

Soon the lights inside the building went out and emergency lighting came on. An announcement came next, telling workers to stay where they were. But seams on metal pipes installed in the ceiling had been broken by the strong jolts and water started flooding out.

Someone yelled: "This could be dangerous water. Let's get out of here!" and they rushed down the stairs to the first floor exit.

That is the proper translation of the story someone posted yesterday

Note the difference between the machine translation and the real story.

Interesting. Despite instructions to stay put at their posts they ran away (unlike Macondo). That seems to confirm an earlier report by Italian tv that NHK had this story but pulled it from broadcast at the last moment. That's if the story is true.

Got this from an ABC news story - thought some might be interested in the extent of US assistance

"TThe United States has deployed thousands of military and civilian staff to assist the Japanese in dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake and the resulting tsunami, which has killed thousands.

To date there have been 113 helicopter missions and 125 fixed wing missions. More than 129,000 pounds of water and 4,200 pounds of food have been delivered .

The Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent teams of U.S. experts to assess the nuclear situation.

U.S. aid to Japan has reached nearly $5.9 million, with total planned assistance amounting to $8 million. USAID says the primary humanitarian needs on the ground remain food, safe drinking water, blankets, medical supplies, fuel, and sanitation infrastructure."

The article also claimed US officials were (anonmous officials) "alarmed" about the Japanese response particularly re: pulling workers out and a comment that "they need to recognize this is a suicide mission".

story here: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-send-special-nuclear-team-japan-nuclea...

I just read this on Fox.

"But an end might be in sight after an electric company says a new power line is almost ready to restore electricity to the complex."

What am I missing here!!!

We have the potential for $100 Billion in damages here plus the needless loss of thousands of lives and all of the governments of the world cannot come up with a solution to an easy problem. If this is the best that the authorities can do, perhaps the world is not really ready for nuclear power.

What could the pumps need to operate, 1 MW at the most? That sounds like 10 ten heavy lift helicopter trips to me with some 100KW generator sets. Again,------What am I missing here.

"What could the pumps need to operate, 1 MW at the most? That sounds like 10 ten heavy lift helicopter trips to me with some 100KW generator sets. Again,------What am I missing here."

They don't have the right adapters.

Perhaps the generators need special certifications in order to operate in a nuclear plant. Without it the company could be subject to fines. What good is a central government if they cannot help and their regulations only get in the way.

I am flabbergasted to learn that Day 6 is the day they get hold of "more" water ..... I mean lack of sufficient water has been THE PROBLEM all the time, no?

HiTec Japan should have the largest monster pumps on the planet nearby all of their nuke plants - at a permanent basis - able to run on all sorts of input. Some movable nat_gas power plants (container sized) should be possible to be deployed anywhere in Nippon within 24 hrs - A plower plant on-board a few fast moving ships would suffice. .

I am really shocked to learn about their methods.

No helicopter can lift the big generators that they need.

"No helicopter can lift the big generators that they need."

So you make more trips with smaller generators and run wires to each group of pumps. This is not rocket science.

Surely there are helicopters and Container type generators that can pair up ?
I see Helicopters can go well over 10 tonnes payload, and 13 tonnes is ~ 3MW from a quick google.

On a wider usage note, this unmanned lifter looks impressive.
Perfect for the tasks ?

The Unmanned K-MAX helicopter being developed by Kaman Corporation and Lockheed Martin has further demonstrated the potential of this type of aircraft in the field by completing a list of airdrop firsts. The milestones in payload weight and altitude were reached during a recent series of tests at the Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona where the KMAX UAS made guided airdrops via sling load at an altitude of 10,000 ft above sea level including a payload of 4,400 lbs.


and the sockets are under water.

Battery, Chip-Wafer Markets Among Most Hurt by Quake, Daiwa Says

Closure of plants at Hitachi Chemical Co., which makes materials used in lithium-ion cells, Sanyo Electric Co. and Sony Corp. will affect the supply of rechargeable batteries, Pranab Kumar Sarmah, Hong Kong-based analyst at Daiwa Securities, said in a report yesterday.

Japan makes almost 40 percent of the world’s electronics and audio-visual components, according to Daiwa. Production has been suspended at some factories in northern Japan because of the damage caused by the 9.0 magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami. It could take one to three months for output to recover fully, the report said.

EPA Deploying Additional Radiation Monitors to Pacific – Public Data Aimed at Alleviating Fears

The Environmental Protection Agency is deploying some of the 40 additional deployable radiation air monitors to Pacific US states and territories that will allow the agency to gather more data and monitor any radiation coming from Japan.

The monitors are part of the RadNet program, which posts the data on a website that the public can access.

The EPA is sending two additional radiation air monitors to Guam, two to Hawaii, and three to Alaska – one each to Dutch Harbor, Nome, and Juneau..


Airlines monitoring radiation, making adjustments to flights in Japan

Here, this also should help alleviate everyone's fears:
The Human Plutonium Injection Experiments (pdf)

The younger you are, the more danger you are in. If you are old, rest easy, you will die soon anyways, regardless of the cause.

Thanks! I've been hoping that's the case.
Hope abides!

'Enormous' run on iodine pills in US: drug firm

The main US manufacturer of potassium iodide tablets has run out of stock after a massive demand generated by the Japanese nuclear crisis, the company's head said Wednesday.

Google trends is going nuts for the term "potassium iodide"

Which shows exactly how bad the nuclear marketing problem will be.

Now many think the reactor near them could blow the same way.

I am a skeptic of nuclear, but see a silver lining too.

I want full accountability and careful engineering like my grandfather talked about. Not this 1970s rush to profits BS that is clearly failing us at every turn.

The public will not fall back in love with nuclear imho. Nuclear is spooky. The public wants the CO2 monster instead.

Politicians can do the head fake and push it along perhaps. How will it fair in the courts? Lots of delays and so forth.

Looking more and more like power down for us.

I would love to see the zipcodes where those pills are headed. My bet is that few are going downwind of major installations, and that most are going to fairly innocuously located areas along the west coast. People who live close to a reactor, and could use such pills in their emergency store, mostly have less concern.

Or at least that's my take, from a small unscientific poll I did among those I know who live downwind of reactors. They say "no tsunamis or quakes around here" and get on with life.

Edit: A quick google indicates multiple stories of pill-buying on the West Coast by those worried about Japanese radiation, not local sources. Medical warning are going out about the possible side-effects and pointlessness of taking the drugs now.

At least during the Cold War people built something physically protective like fallout shelters. Now people think a pill can save them from anything.

There are no Tsunamis or (major) earthquakes where I live, but I'm super freaked out about the 11 nuke plants in my state.

We have just learned (okay I just learned) as a result of this fiasco that all it takes is a sustained loss of water to the cooling pool to create a problem at least as damaging as a reactor meltdown and that it will really mess with interconnected national/economic/financial systems.

Do you think al queada or like minded others have missed the coverage this week? One can hope...

The Fox News poll has only 48% not worried about Japanese radiation reaching the US. 13% are very concerned.

Yesterday a much larger percentage was generally still in favor of US nukes, though.

A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday.


People are going to be flipping off the wall if the meters start jumping in SoCal.

Only a matter of time before we get higher than baseline readings here. Should I put plastic film over my new veggies and are just sprouting?

It kind of pisses me off. I know it is low level and harmless, but it makes you mad, nonetheless.

And heck I understand radioactivity pretty well.

I wondered the same thing. I'm in Wisconsin, buts its suppose to rain early next week... Probably stay out of that rain.

Looks like plants take up Sr90, Cs137 to some degree. Not sure how far particles like that would drift.

The current radioactive plume, as low level as it is, is supposed to whip by the Aleutians and then angle across the Pacific to southern CA. No report on much getting up in the jet stream yet. WI isn't exactly in the flight line at this point. If we get some numbers from Shemya (phased array radar station way out in the Western Aleutians) you can reduce them by several orders of magnitude and figure your potential exposure if you do happen into the path--We are talking some real small numbers.

And straight down my way :( Chernobyl did the same to me as well.


Fox viewers are among the pro-nuke crowd, overall, so plenty of people have flipped out already.

Fox viewers tend to be misinformed about a lot of things. You could look it up. I'd like to see the correlation of pill buyers to Fox viewers. I bet it's a strong one.

What's the Cost of Shifting Away from Nuclear Power?

...what if the U.S did decide to replace all nuclear generation? According to rough calculations from Josh Freed of Third Way—a centrist Democratic think tank—replacing all nuclear generation with coal would add 790 million metric tons to the atmosphere, enough to increase the U.S. carbon footprint by 14%. Even if cleaner burning natural gas replaced nuclear in the U.S., carbon emissions would rise by 330 million metric tons.

There's renewable power, of course, but it would need to be scaled up to an almost unimaginable degree to replace both fossil fuel generation and nuclear power.

Like ...We would need nearly four million five-megawatt wind turbines—i.e., turbines twice as big as those currently on the market. Plus 90,000 large-scale solar farms—for reference, there are only about three dozen in existence now. Plus 1.7 billion three-kilowatt rooftop solar systems—that is, one for every four people on the planet.

What's the Cost of Shifting Away from Nuclear Power?
Less consumption?

and, as an associated cost, end of political career.

"Less consumption?"

Krugman says we can't have that. We need more demand not less, more consumption, not less and all will be well.

Yeah, I know, it doesn't add up in the real world.

Well we can have excess consumption until resources decline I guess. Or pollution increases and chokes civilization ... which will hurt us more?

So first we curb excesses and then we curb people that are eating. And then what?

Maybe we want the whole SHEBANG to collapse faster by excess consumption. Bringing in China and India with their massive annual growth rates is going to keel the economy faster in the end. Steroids kill the athlete at the end of the day faster -- they only help in the short term.

It is another kind of short term profit paradigm where the system is on the verge of catastrophe without nuclear disasters and natural disasters, etc.

The thirst for growth is gong to be the cause of capitalism's implosion in this current only-growth-is-progress incarnation.


The way you snipped and glued together your choice of words from the article led to a blockquote, which, if read by the casual reader (who didn't read the full article at your link), may lead such a causal leader to thinking that the last paragraph described the magnitude of wind and PV necessary to replace U.S. nuclear power-generated electricity, when in reality, those figures refer to wind and PV needed to replace the World's nuclear power electricity generation.

The first paragraph is U.S. centric, but the last is World-centric.

The underlying point that wind and solar build-out would have to be enormous is still valid. Even just in the U.S. But we could probably come up with 20% wind and 20% solar electricity generation, if we made a heroic effort. Wholly overhauled and modernized grid...pumped storage, flywheel storage, flow-battery and EV (at night) storage, perhaps ammonia-from-wind, etc.

Add 20% power-down from efficiency and doing less with less and that would amount to a fantastic accomplishment.

A powered-down but still fine energy-lifestyle without nuke power.


The way you snipped and glued together your choice of words from the article led to a blockquote, which, if read by the casual reader (who didn't read the full article at your link), may lead such a causal leader to thinking that the last paragraph described the magnitude of wind and PV necessary to replace U.S. nuclear power-generated electricity, when in reality, those figures refer to wind and PV needed to replace the World's nuclear power electricity generation.'

H, that was very gently put. One can imagine stronger words for such snipping and gluing, and for those who partake in such activity...but I've promised to play nice.

The US had very little in the way of military planes, ships, vehicles and other equipment at the beginning of WWII. We make prioritized their creation and overcame three major enemies.

The existential threats we face now are even more extreme than those posed at that time. It is long past time to start behaving in a realistic way given this reality.

It could have been an honest mistake.

It's harder than many realize to excerpt text from articles so that it's truly representative.

nearly four million five-megawatt wind turbines—i.e., turbines twice as big as those currently on the market. (China just built its first five-megawatter last year.)

Sorry to be piling on, but The New Republic writer must not bother to fact check.

REpower's M5 prototype was first built in 2004.
The Beatrice Wind Farm, though small (two M5s), was built in 2007 as a test.

AREVA Multibrid's 1st M5000 was installed in the North Sea (Alpha Ventus) in 14th July 2009.

There are 12 5MW class turbines in the Alpha Ventus Offshore wind farm,
completed in 2009.

Thorton Bank 1st phase has 6 REpower M5s, and came online in 2009.
significant expansion is planned - ultimately to 300 MW.

12 (of a planned 80) BARD 5.0 are installed at Bard Offshore 1 as of the end of 2010.
Notable for use of HVDC, since it's 100 km from the nearest land.

There is much to be pessimistic about regarding humanity's energy supply,
but there are also some things to be optimistic about.
The rapid scaling ability of wind and solar for instance.

These numbers for wind turbines and solar panels refer to replacing all world electricity generation, not just the nuclear power plants in the U.S.

Late last year, two engineering professors, Mark Jacobson of Stanford and Mark Delucchi of University of California Davis, published two papers in Energy Policy offering their own detailed analysis of how the world could get 100 percent of its electricity from existing renewables—mostly solar and wind—by 2050. The task would be staggering. We would need nearly four million five-megawatt wind turbines—i.e., turbines twice as big as those currently on the market. (China just built its first five-megawatter last year.) Plus 90,000 large-scale solar farms....

Actually, in 2009 the world installed 80 GW of new renewable capacity and 0 GW of new nuclear capacity:

The wind energy potential in the US is 10,500 GW:

If you only defer 10% of the US defense budget, you can finance 100 GW of new wind power every single year.

Besides new nuclear power plants cannot compete with wind farms:

Needless to say that wind energy does not depend on uranium imports, requires no depositories, no high decommissioning costs and no cooling water

And it doesn't require you to evacuate 13 million people from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world every now and then. Nor does it require that you abandon whole regions for decades or longer after they get contaminated...

When people compare the price of nuclear, do they include the costs that all these people are paying to flee this thing at a time when they are already under so much extreme stress?

More news on those reactors 5 and 6, which have not been getting much attention.

Spent fuel that has been removed from a nuclear reactor generates intense heat and the water is usually kept below 25C. The IAEA says that the temperature of the pool at reactor 4 was 84C on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning, it was 62.7C at reactor 5 and 60C at reactor 6. Current reports say the pools at both reactors 3 and 4 are boiling. Reactor 4's pool may even be dry.

So 3 & 4 are boiling, with 4 likely dry, and now 5 & 6 are overheating too.

Perhaps 5 & 6 are the ones they imagine a new power supply can help ?
They may have the least actual system and control damage.

Anyone know where the temperature sensor is located in the fuel pools?

Hi. Why are you asking, what are you worried about?
Methinks that almost any point where you stick a thermometer in a pool will give a reading which shows the temperature within +/- 5 degrees for the most of that water mass.
Even if the pool is 10x10x10 m and filled with fuel rods. This is because temperature differences from the hot places to the colder, will cause convection, and convection increases with temperature difference, which causes circulation and mixing, so that the temperature remain similar in all of the pool.
Ofcourse in a thin layer of water surroudning a hot fuel rod, the temperature might be a lot warmer, maybe even some vapour bubbles form (boiling), but like said this warm water will be in constant motion, moving upwards and mix with colder water and rapidly be representative of the bulk temperature.
This phenomenon is then all influenced by the geometry of the pool, and where the metal is, and added scrap metal and cement that has fallen into the pool.

Further the ponds normally use pumped circulation, I might add, according to

And their latests was
1) no information updated on the temperature in unit 4's pond since sometime before 16th. (well, IF it is empty, clearly there is no water temperature to debate about).
2) the latest radiation reading, presumably close to number 4 was 3700 mS/h. That is a lethal dose
in 1 hour.

Live footage of helicopter dropping water on reactor 3 building now on NHK.

First drop mostly seems to have missed the reactor building.

Second drop appears on target.

Third drop complete miss unless intended for 4

Wow. Didn't a helicopter go down doing a similar thing at ... you know. Let's hope they are careful....

Chinooks are not hovering but dropping at speed. Preserving crew but reducing chance of success.

0117: A lead plate is attached to the bottom of each chopper and the crew are wearing protective suits - NHK.

Is that for moral support? How thick and big could it be? Good luck guys.

"0117: A lead plate is attached to the bottom of each chopper and the crew are wearing protective suits - NHK."

A lead plate? Are they going to park directly in a gamma-ray beam? It won't help against anything else. A respirator would make sense.


If there is no chain reaction fission going on, wouldn't most of the decay of the waste products of fission be beta and alpha decay? Alpha is easy to shield. A lead plate would be very useful for stopping beta.

A lot of the nastys emit fairly hard gamma along with (or shortly thereafter) the beta.


decays to an isomer, which emits hard gamma when it settles down.

And gammas get shot out and about for almost any high energy process, like absorbing high energy betas, or even alphas with a direct hit.

Cs-137 is a major fission product - 6%.

I would think most of the betas are stopped by a few meters of air, but there will be few fast ones.
Seems like gammas are the big hazard, as long as you're not breathing in anything.

Some neutrons (don't know how many) can come instead of beta decay when the energies are high.

Aluminium foil would do just as well. Plus the inverse square law. Bunny suit and respirator to stop airborne contamination would be best.


They *really* need remote control helicopters for these kinds of jobs. Simpler tasks like dropping water and taking pictures ought to be doable.

Somebody said I am making too much noise so last post for while. Don't supertankers take much to fill and hold much. So who says they have to be filled with oil or at least how do they pump the oil into them? Big world class heavy pumps no? I will not respond but please dissect the idea.

EDit: Would that failed skimmer Whale work?

The US Navy does have a small remote controlled helicopter which might be suitable. It is called the Firescout, but it has a very limited payload. It is intended for surveilance missions, and I have no idea if it would be useful for dropping water.


Personally I am deeply pessimistic about the chances for adding water to these spent fuel pools. I think fuel fires and massive radiation releases are all but inevitable.


The US Navy does have a small remote controlled helicopter which might be suitable. It is called the Firescout, but it has a very limited payload. It is intended for surveilance missions, and I have no idea if it would be useful for dropping water

See the link I gave above,


this is a larger remote controlled model, 4400lbs payload.

There are even quite good toys now, that are helicopters with video ;)

Would someone please explain to the Japanese Cabinet Secretary that looking as if you've come to fix home a home furnace/boiler, does not induce confidence in the west. If you cannot even work that out resign now.

I an becoming increasingly disturbed by the fantasy world of the Japanese government. I hope your gamble wins but this nonsense surely can't even be fooling yourselves.

And where is the US? I hope this does not get deleted but Obama's government is probably the most useless I have ever seen. No wonder Republicans wanted him and not Hilary.

I have the same feeling about US Army Generals giving press conferences and interviews in combat uniforms. Who are they kidding?

Seems Obama is not going to do squat (words wise). Probably after the whole GOM oil disaster he does not want to seem to be on the losing side of this thing. They began to blame Obama for not plugging the oil well all last summer recall.

I am saddened by not only the lack of leadership but the fact that our own military has not been working on means and methods to stop a runaway reactor. Is this not the kind of exercise expected when a WWIII takes place?

If the US military cannot stop one, then no one can. It requires training, forethought etc. No better training than the present real world nuclear nightmare.

Good grief.

People all over the planet are being battered by financial, energy, climate and natural disasters, made worse by the ensuing political turmoil. Throughout the World events are beginning to run out of control. The World's 3rd largest economy is facing meltdown, the Middle East is in turmoil, weather events are creating havoc everywhere, economic contagion is spreading like wildfire. It's now becoming a normal sight to see people fleeing to airports in panic trying to escape the latest existential threat.

Obviously a time when people look for leadership, but leadership seems to be increasingly absent. We're obviously on the verge of political collapse which will become increasingly dire as the global economy slides into an economic depression. World leaders are increasingly becoming like dazed deer standing in the headlights, unsure what to do or unable to do anything but look on as things disintegrate around them.

Good points.

Just as with Deepwater Horizon, there seems to be no plan laid out to hand a catastrophic accident that was predictable, even if it did not seem likely.

That neither the Japanese nor the US military seem to have a game plan ready for it shows just how ill-prepared we are on so many fronts.

Apparently the wise planners of our society decided that the MO should be to assume that, whether pumping oil in extreme circumstances or splitting atoms to boil water, everything will always go pretty much perfectly.

And we're called homo what again?

dohboi - Does make you wonder how well all our systems are backed up. Seems once we design a back up perhaps little thought is given to a backup plan in case the backup doesn't work. That will often mean more expense which I suspect has been criticized as unnecessary since there was already a back up in place. It takes me back to another life time when I was a weapons safety instructor for a brief period. Would simply ask if the weapon was loaded. Common answer: no. My common response: very harsh...maybe with a slap to the side of the head. My simple rule: all weapons are loaded. So I would have them throw the bolt and see it wasn't loaded. After closing the bolt I would ask them again: is the weapon loaded. The common answer: no. My common response: another head slap. One always assume a weapon is loaded whether you know it isn't or not. You always treat it as if it were loaded.

Same thing with drilling rigs: you have a safety system and a back up if it becomes unsafe. And sometimes you have a backup to the backup. BP had a backup in case the cement failed...the BOP. And if the BOP failed what was the backup? Had they kept sufficient mud weight in the hole the well would not have blown out when the cement failed. That was the first backup. That's not fool proof either... wells with sufficient mud weight can still come in on you if you make some other missteps. But in those rare cases you still have the BOP as the second backup. BP's collective ego convinced them that one backup system would be sufficient. They were wrong. Maybe the same thought process was involved with the Japanese safety plans. If so they appear to have also been wrong. All weapons are loaded as well as all backup cooling systems and all cement jobs fail. A rule to live by IMHO.

Oct - I'm going to take a chance on looking like one more foolish armchair nuclear engineer. But every time I see the film of the chopper dumping water (much of which appears to dissipate as mist) I keep wondering: if keeping the rods submerged in water has always been critical why didn't they put in a relief water line? A 10" pipeline (buried so it would be washed away by a tsunami) could deliver millions of gallons of water per day with a sufficiently large pump. And the pump and supply pond could have been located 10 miles away. They had other backup safety systems that failed for a variety of reasons. But even if the wave had taken out the water line pump there are thousands of such pumps that could have been airlifted in place, along with generators, within 24 hours. The costs of such a backup to the backup would have been invisible compared to the cost of a nuclear plant. For all the rhetoric about nuclear safety it's a puzzle to me. Maybe the simplicity caused it to be over looked. That or egos thought they could out plan Mother Nature.

We have such a backup on drill rigs. If the BOP malfunctions there's usually a flow line that will take spewing oil/NG away from the rig...usually out over the reserve pit. An ignition system will set the hydrocarbons afire to prevent a potential explosion. Not much more than a simple valve and a length of dumb iron but it has saved more than on drill crew. But as BP proved such a diverter system isn't completely foolproof.


The divertor may have helped on the DWH but, people forgot the KISS (Keep it simple stupid) principal. What was a last ditch safety devise was hijacked as a environmental mitigation tool by plumbing the divertor into the Poor Boy gas separator. The system relied on pre-selecting the preferred direction, depending on wind, and when the SHTF it was one button hit. Unfortunately due to the fact the divertor was pre-selected to the Poor boy, the one button press directed the the flow to a low pressure system and blew the burst disc, which directed the gas to the main deck. The rest is history.

They had lost the advantage of the last line of defense of a major incident for some protection for a minor incident, and made a simple idiot proof system overly complicated for its intended use.

I agree pusher. But like you know better than nothing. About 20 years ago I was on a well that took a kick, BOP didn't kick in and we had a 150' flare over the pit roaring like a jet engine. Right on the higway out side of Bay City Tx on a Saturday night. Whole town parked on the road waiting to see the rig blow up. Compared to having it blow wild thru the kelly a much better arrangement IMHO.

But as you know better than me: the right mud weight can get the job done (as long as you don't swab it in).

If the main cause of this disaster was the lack of generating capacity, what little faith I had in the governments of the developed world will be completely shattered! As of yet, no other explanation has been offered for these problems. Did Japan not ask for help before it was too late?

Storing spent fuel rods on site has always been a dumb idea. Perhaps this will help push the governments of the world to construct long term storage facilities.

A gravity feed from an upstream pond with a float-valve would allow you to keep the pool full and not overflowing. Add another without a valve in case that gets stuck.

While you're add it, have the steam release vent outside the building, instead of into the containment shell. Probably the goal was to keep the radiation inside for a while, but it also kept the hydrogen inside. If nothing else, bubble it through a small pond on the roof, and then flare it.

I've often wondered, when looking at photos of the site, what those tall towers are for. On the close-ups, it's clear that they support large-diameter pipes. What is meant to flow in those pipes? One logical guess would be that they are for released gases; they are large enough in diameter and could carry high above ground level before releasing it.

Does anyone know what the towers are for?

paleo - I know it's easy to speculate with 20/20 hindsite But is what I'm suggesting much different than the sprinkler systems in commercial buildings? And they don't even need to keep a water supply on hand. Check out a highrise building: they have flow line connections at street level that a fire dept pump truck can tie into and keep water flowing thru the sprinkler system indefinately. Again I know it sound stupidly simplistic but if keeping the cooling pond full of water has always been a life or death proposition how about having two backups...or even three? Again, my backup water line idea would have only costs a few $100,000. And compared to the billions spent to build the plant? And maybe the 10's of $billions if the situation gets completely out of control? I can't imagine anyone letting another nuke plant be built without have half a dozen backup water lines in place let alone some more high tech solutions.

A 10" pipeline (buried so it would (not) be washed away by a tsunami) could deliver millions of gallons of water per day with a sufficiently large pump. And the pump and supply pond could have been located 10 miles away.

I see many factors here : One is they believed spent-fuel, was spent, and never fully worked the cooling numbers, or backups.

Next, it is elevated ?!, which makes for lazy.easy transfer, but very poor damage tolerance, and poor access.

The cooling water I think is approved as a closed loop design, not open (tho of course right now, it is very open-loop, with 'who cares about run-off!') and my guess is they have large refrigeration plants, not just pumps.

Adding a feed pipe as you suggest is simple, but also adds a leak-failure point, and hey, why would they ever need it ?!

It IS very surprising these seem unable to have Generators airlifted in, and plugged in, which makes me think the plumbing is not intact any more.

That makes the claims about new power connection helping hard to grasp, unless the MW/Voltage is way outside airlift generators ?

The pools are placed next to the reactor head so the fuel(remember it is hot in both senses) can be immersed quickly. The later designs move the fuel out of the reactor and into the storage are underwater, I cannot see if this is true for the MK1 from the cutaway. Not lazy.easy transfer but a necessity of the job. Once it has cooled down to a degree then it gets casked and moved out. You want to minimise transfers and complexity of systems.


So what should he have done? Sent the marines in to blast the Japanese out of the way to send his own men in? The US was eventually asked for help and they are helping. I would expect the diplomatic channels have been humming since this started but, after Wikileaks, there would be a very tight lid on them.


Well I have not watched said Cab Sec, but I infer from your comment that he is probably in shirtsleeves & open collar. Fine by me. 'Having confidence' in those who wear suits & ties has contributed greatly to the mess that industrial civ has gotten us all into. Con men=confidence men. What one wears or looks like should have no bearing on how they are trusted. What matters is what they say, even more, what they do. I know it is not thus, I just take the oppty to point out the folly of our giving credence based on appearance.

Drop a fusion nuke on it.

I thought about that. You've got to wonder if you dropped a 10 megaton thermonuke on top of that plant, what would happen? If anything you would have a nice crater full of seawater.

Fight fire with fire?

All you would do is disperse the Uranium and all of that. Dropping a nuke on the thing wouldn't solve anything and really make matters worse.

Earlier this week, I was going to suggest in a snarky way that they could pour oil on the thing. There were some who said the Macondo well could be plugged with a nuke - it only seems logical that one could use oil to fix a broken nuke.

The only real problem with that idea (I realize that you weren't seriously suggesting it) is the flamability of the crude oil. Otherwise it would make an excellent neutron moderator/shield.

We are pouring oil into it. The US Navy is there. Helicopters. Firetrucks. They are scrambling to build power lines to the site.

Lots of oil gonna be used to deal with the nuclear disasters as they happen.

So much for that low carbon footprint.

Fox News just reported that the Japanese are sending in eleven water cannons. That implies they have found a reliable source of water to feed those eleven cannons. Maybe the pump Drudge reported was being delivered has been installed and put into operation to restore the fresh water supply. That would put pressurized water into the hydrants at the reactors' elevation and obviate the need to use a large part of the pump head to raise sea water to that elevation. More available head would mean the cannons could reach higher, presuambly up to the fifth floor and the spent fuel pools.

As someone else said "follow the water". They seem to be making real headway.

Re: Radiation level falls at Japan Fukushima plant-agency

A level of 752 microsieverts per hour was recorded at the plant's main gate at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Wednesday, said the official, Tetsuo Ohmura...

That level was still much higher then it should be, but was not dangerous, and that by comparison absorption of a level of 400 was normal from being outside over the course of a year, Ohmura said.

Once again, officials are comparing apples per hour (radiation levels) with total apples (annual dose levels). For anyone with a basic understanding of math, this means you would get a year's dose of outdoor radiation in a half hour of standing by the gate. To me, that seems pretty bad; I would certainly not want to go inside that gate!

PT in PA

The nost important thing I learned in school was how to work with units. Let's see now, 8760 hours/year......

Your average media type does not know how to factor label. Could be honest ignorance. But notice that the media are generally talking about how harmless everything is here.

Maybe we should report the radioactivity as a number that reflects the number of Press members who would stand at the gates of the Fuku plant for 5 hours without protective gear. Ask 100 journalists to respond. If they all say no then we have a real problem I assume.