Fukushima Thread: March 17, 2011

High Radiation Severely Hinders Emergency Work to Cool Japanese Plant

TOKYO — Amid widening alarm in the United States and elsewhere about Japan’s nuclear crisis, military fire trucks began spraying cooling water on spent fuel rods at the country’s stricken nuclear power station on Thursday, but later suspended the operation, the NHK broadcaster said.

The development came as the authorities reached for ever more desperate and unconventional methods to cool damaged reactors, deploying helicopters and water cannons in a race to prevent perilous overheating in the spent rods.

Moments before the military began spraying, police in water cannon trucks had been forced back by high levels of radiation in the same area, but it was not immediately clear why the military fire trucks had suspended their operation. Police had been attempting to get within 50 yards of the No. 3 reactor The full impact of the tactic was not immediately clear.

Trapped in the radiation zone, and no help in sight

AN AWFUL realisation is setting in for those trapped in the vicinity of the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex: people are afraid to help them.

Residents describe spooky scenes of municipal cars driving down near-empty streets telling people to stay indoors, but they have seen few other signs of outside help.

Aid agencies are reluctant to get too close to the plant. Shelters set up in the greater Fukushima area for "radiation refugees" have little food, in part because nobody wants to deliver to an area that might be contaminated. And with little or no petrol available, not everyone who wants to leave can get out.

Radiation fear hits Tokyo, prompting migration

OSAKA (Japan): Earthquake-induced power cuts, food shortages, and now the intense fear of deadly nuclear radiation has gripped Tokyo, prompting a migration of people 500 kilometres away to Osaka, the third-largest city in Japan.

People in a panicked state are fleeing Tokyo as they worry about the spread of radiation from overheating nuclear reactors in Fukushima, northern Japan, hit hard by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

U.S. working to move citizens from affected areas in Japan

Washington (CNN) -- The State Department announced late Wednesday that it has approved the departure of family members of U.S. government personnel from certain areas of Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear power plant crisis.

Charter flights will be made available to the approximately 600 people, according to Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy.

Long Pause for Japanese Industry Raises Concerns About Supply Chain

Much of Japan’s industry seemed to remain in a state of suspension Wednesday, as the devastation from an earthquake and tsunami, combined with fear and uncertainty over the nuclear calamity, made it difficult for corporate Japan to think about business as usual.

And that has left many overseas customers and trading partners in something of an information vacuum, unsure how soon the effects of any supply-chain disruptions would make themselves felt — and how long they might last.

Confusion in a Crisis: Just How High are Japan's Radiation Risks?

The ongoing struggle to snuff out the nuclear crisis came amid mounting confusion about key elements of risk now in play. At a hearing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Gregory Jaczko, called radiation levels at one of the plant's units "extremely high." He added that "for a comparable situation in the United States we would recommend evacuation for a much larger radius than is currently being provided in Japan." And he said that his information suggested that there was no water left in the pool containing spent fuel rods in reactor Unit 4, an assertion which if true makes a significant release of radioactive gases from the burning fuel rods stored there much more likely.

The Crisis in Japan: A Hunger for Information

The crisis at Fukushima has been aggravated by the spare, often contradictory information issued by the government and Tepco, revealing what at times appears to be their own uncertainty about what's happening in the reactors.

Fukushima nuclear plant owner falsified inspection records

THE Japanese owner of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant falsified safety data and "dishonestly" tried to cover up problems there.

Tokyo Electric Power Co injected air into the containment vessel of Fukushima reactor No 1 to artificially “lower the leak rate”. When caught, the company expressed its “sincere apologies for conducting dishonest practices”.

EU commissioner: Japanese disaster in 'hands of God'

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The nuclear crisis in Japan is now in the "hands of God", the EU's energy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, has said, rattling financial markets.

Speaking to the European Parliament's environment committee on Wednesday (16 March), Oettinger expressed surprise at the "incredible makeshift" methods being used by Japanese technicians to prevent further disaster at the Fukushima power plant. "The site is effectively out of control," the German commissioner told MEPs, a day after he described Japan as facing an "apocalypse".

Patience wears thin at Tepco’s bungling

When the leader of a country asks the company fighting to prevent a nuclear catastrophe “what the hell is going on?”, you know he has departed from the script.

Naoto Kan on Tuesday lost his temper with Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the explosion-prone Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

He could not understand why he had not been told for a whole hour about the first explosion at the plant in the early hours of Saturday morning.


Best source for the timely news: NHK Feed (thanks, Rethin)

(Any other suggestions for links that should be featured here?)

Gov't warns of massive blackout in Tokyo area on bigger power demand

The government warned that an unpredictable massive blackout could occur in the Tokyo area from the evening through the night Thursday as power demand in the region has increased overnight due to cold temperatures, calling for further efforts by businesses and individuals to save power.

A couple of years ago a barge knock out some power lines in Tokyo blacking out parts of the city. It was a disaster. People were stuck on trains, subways, in elevators. This could only be worse.

Also note that most homes in the Kanto region use electric heating.

The nuclear crisis in Japan is now in the "hands of God", the EU's energy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, has said,

Seems about par for the course trying to pass the buck upwards. I presume when the supreme diety doesn't admit responsibility and they find out they cant sue him. The Peons at the bottom will be at the recieving end of all the anal detrious that will be flying about in the next few days weeks years.

I'd say its in the hands of the Weak Force ;)

The blackout possibility for Thursday night has now been lifted. Demand in the evening was not as high as expected.


TOKYO, March 17, Kyodo

The Tokyo area barely avoided experiencing unpredictable massive blackouts on Thursday after the government warned in the afternoon that power demand in the region is increasing too much amid cold temperatures and further pressed businesses and individuals to save power.
The power saving measure is expected to continue until the end of April in areas around Tokyo, stirring concerns over economic stagnation and disruption to people's lives.

They dodged the bullet tonight. But this is going to cripple the Japanese economy if it continues.

One of the ways they conserved power was to cut train service at peak hours. Anybody whose ever been in Tokyo knows the trains run well above 100% capacity during peak hours. Commutes were intolerable before. Now they are going to be impossible.

That is if you still have a job to go to.

BTW, I don't think they'll be selling very many Nissan Leafs in Japan anytime soon.

BTW, I don't think they'll be selling very many Nissan Leafs in Japan anytime soon.

Given the reports I've seen about gasoline unavailability (maybe its just in the tsunami hit NE?), I'd think at this point in time an electric vehicle has the advantage.

I have yet to hear about any damage at Onagawa and Tokai reactors. Daini shut down without major issues, but did it have tsunami damage? What are the prerequisites for restarting those plants, besides grid connectivity?

Were the pumps damaged by the tsunami at Dai-Ichi, or only the generators and grid? Certainly replacing such would be difficult, and months drag into years if parts have to be manufactured and wiring re-run through conduit that needs to be cleaned.

They did actually have major issues at Daini and they have not lifted the exclusion zone (although it is mainly contained within the Daiichi zone). Only one reactor was reported to have shut down in a normal manner and cooling was lost for a time.

And as has been pointed out, if Dai-ichi becomes too hot too enter, it will become difficult/impossible to maintain the Dai-ni plant.

Things could get very, very...interesting.

Does anyone have any insights on the work toward restoring remote station power to the Fukushima nuclear complex? I wonder what all the issues were that prevented earlier restoration. Were transmission lines damaged, were remote substations damaged, was the local substation at the plant flooded? Last night on the news I heard them mention that they are working toward restoring the power but they gave no details on the exact challenges being faced.

Does anyone have any insights on the work toward restoring remote station power to the Fukushima nuclear complex?...I heard them mention that they are working toward restoring the power but they gave no details on the exact challenges being faced.

The original pumping equipment has been damaged beyond repair and will need to be replaced, which is a huge hurdle, as the Japanese government admits.

Not for reactors 5&6, which were offline at the time of the quake, and as far as I know haven't had any explosions. Here again it is the spent fuel pools they are concerned about - they are heating up, but haven't boiled off yet. It is possible that they could get those back under control.

Considering all the seawater pumped into/around the 4 buildings of concern, not to mention the explosions and what they damaged; is it safe (from an electrocution standpoint) to restore power?

Good question.

I had heard that the decision to use sea water basically was a decision already that these facilities would never again be used to generate electricity. I assume there could be a safe way of bringing electricity in, though.

Sendia to Los Angeles is about 5300 miles. 38N 141E 34N 119W


I’m shaking in my boots…, I stocked up on Iodine pills and Geiger counters…

This site has interesting data that I see nowhere else:

This one is useful simply to see how slow and sanitized the official output is:

This page is full of handy links: Japan–Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Energy Resources « INFOdocket.

Mostly I just refresh the latest on Google News, I'm not hanging on to every last pronouncement here.

I've added a page to store news/discussion links of Japanese Earthquake/Nuclear disaster that people have posted here.

If you want to store useful links in one place feel free to add links with a brief comment to explain what they are.

Please avoid any discussion in that thread, you can discuss stuff in one of the other active posts there.

Right now on the radio I heard the term: cold meltdown, which is apparently the latest danger, but the expert noted the situation is very volatile, and changes constantly, which can mean improvement or degeneration.

I've also uploaded a few of comments I've made here that seem to have a wider application.

Reuters news with moderated comments http://live.reuters.com/Event/Japan_earthquake2

This is pro-nuclear by definition but they have official reports and knowledge:


This is what they say about tsunamis on their main site.


Even for a nuclear plant situated very close to sea level, the robust sealed containment structure around the reactor itself would prevent any damage to the nuclear part from a tsunami, though other parts of the plant might be damaged. No radiological hazard would be likely.

Radiation level rises after water dropped at troubled reactor

TOKYO, March 17, Kyodo

The radiation level rose at the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant Thursday after the Self-Defense Forces' helicopters dropped water at its crisis-hit No. 3 reactor, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The level around the plant's administration building rose to 4,000 microsievert per hour at 1:30 p.m. from 3,700 in the morning.

...NPR's Richard Harris, reporting from Tokyo, says it appears from what's being said by authorities that it's most likely that the water dropped from helicopters largely missed the mark and that the water cannons couldn't reach the reactors.

Why do I get the feeling that the spent rods have now melted down?

Edited to remove excessive quoting.

Please don't post entire articles. Post a brief excerpt, and link to the original.

The problem with lack of help with radiation victims is probably a result of the social exclusion of victims of radiation in Japan all the way since WWII - perhaps if there had been more integration this would be different.


I have read about it in "Black Rain" by Ibuse:

Needless to say, if they had not built the nuclear reactor where it was vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, we would not be having this discussion.

Nuclear's EROEI is about 5, and thus, it makes no sense to have nuclear power as long as you dig and precess the uranium as well only use a small portion of the energy available.

Do we figure the energy used to evacuate millions of people in that EROEI for nuclear, I wonder?

Well, I did NOT think about it!

Let me do some rough calculations, i.e. move 1 million people 300 km.

Assuming 1MJ/km per person (i.e train), 10[6]x3x10[2]= 3x10[8]MJ. Assuming 300MW output, it is equivalent to 10[6] seconds of operation = about 12 days.

There are 13 million people in the Tokyo area alone. Not all will use the train. We have also sent an aircraft carrier in...

The point is that there are any number of elements that are not included in typical EROEI and financial estimates for the cost of nuclear power.

I understand you perfectly well.

Furthermore, moving 13 million people is wildly unrealistic, IMHO.

I can see 5 million moving, i.e. elderly, children, etc. See it as when during WWII, the British moved the old and children out of London.

A 9.0 earthquake is unrealistic.

A super-tsunami is unrealistic.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster was unrealistic.

Unrealistic--I don't think that means what you think it means.


The hazards of moving that many people quickly may exceed the risk from the radiation, and currently does.

You cannot do nothing, and you cannot do only what you intend to do.

"you cannot do only what you intend to do"

OK, I have no freakin' idea what that was supposed to mean.

But yes, the growing internal (so far) refugee crisis in Japan already is putting many people at risk--inadequate heat, food and water for days. This is especially hard on small children and the old.

But the government's refusal to tell the truth about what is going on, or even keep any lines of communication open does not inspire confidence. People are ignoring official directives to stay in their houses. There are many videos on line of lines of cars driving south. The movement of "many people quickly" is already happening.

And by the way, do you have some information about the exact levels of radiation and the exact kinds of isotopes people are being exposed to in specific locations around the affected area? If so, please share that information with all of us and explain what your sources are.

If not, then I would kindly suggest that you...(struggling to be kind here)...keep absolute pronouncements of things you could not possibly know based on nothing but your own WAGs to yourself...please (was that kind enough?).

You continually state that shutting down nuclear power is the safest course of action.

I am saying that it may not be the safest course of action because there are consequences that you seem to not be considering.

You continually make absolute assertions based on your own SWAGs.

You now suggest that I should shut up instead of doing the same.

I do not believe that you are in any mood to engage in civil conversation with anyone who disagrees with you right now.

So you are admitting that you have no idea what radiation levels are on the ground or what isotopes people are being exposed to right now.

People are evacuating themselves as we speak. So whether it's a good idea or not to do so is a bit moot.

The people who did not evacuate have been abandoned by the authorities.

At least that is what the mayor of Fukushima is saying--no food, no water, no power, no medical supplies are coming in to the area.

Essentially the authorities are asking people to stay where they are and die.

You have no idea what the risks are there, either, and your knowledge of the situation on the ground there is hours out of date and second hand (just like mine).

Mass evacuation has hazards, staying in place has hazards, I do not know for sure which risks are greater right now and *neither do you*.

I'll go without second-guessing the decisions of the people on the scene. If they have disagreements about the best course of action that is for them to sort out and I will not presume to choose sides (unlike many people here who are in a hurry to do so).

Well, we are going around in circles, so best to quit while we are ahead.

But note that I never claimed to know what these levels were or what the relative risks were.

You made a statement that implicitly claimed that you did know.

But now you admit that you don't know.

Fair enough. We all make mistakes.

And yes, the people on the scene are making their own decisions. Unfortunately, they are mostly making these decisions without anything like full information.

(By the way, there is an interesting conversation on the other thread about comparisons with the Katrina evacuation.)

Please recall the Rita evac -- many people died, as too many fled too quickly. Evac needs to occur with discipline, so that those most at risk can be helped, and the biggest impacts can be mitigated.

I find it interesting that search teams are flying in, when I would think than Army engineering battalions to open roads and railways coupled with air-drops of tents and MREs would be a better use of transport resources. Maybe those are happening as well, but the stories I've seen are interviews with search workers, not heavy equipment operators.

I would think than Army engineering battalions to open roads and railways coupled with air-drops of tents and MREs would be a better use of transport resources.

My thought for trying to put water and boric acid into the structures would have been to use firefighting water-drop planes, for two reasons.

One, the exposure to pilots would be, I think, shorter than a hovering helicopter water drop.

Two, that the volume of water and boric acid solution would probably be bigger per drop.

"you cannot do only what you intend to do"

refers to unintended or unwanted effects. I usually state the principle this way: "You can't do only good."

Thanks for the clarification. But not moving people has risks, too. If the authorities were more forthcoming, people could decide for themselves how to weigh these risks.

According to wikipedia there are 35 million people in the Tokyo Metro area.

Don't forget to include the cost in human lives...


I wonder how long it will take until Chu and Obama take a stand on this?

This from a 1996 article on a whistleblower.. George Galatis, a Nuke Engineer working at the Millstone Connecticut Plant owned at the time by Northeast, now (reactors 2&3) are run by Dominion.

In the end, Galatis believes, the NRC's recent flurry of activity is little more than window dressing. "If they wanted to enforce the law," he says, "they could have acted when it counted--before granting the license amendment. Whatever wrist slap they serve up now is beside the point."

"I believe in nuclear power," he says, "but after seeing the NRC in action, I'm convinced a serious accident is not just likely but inevitable. This is a dangerous road. They're asleep at the wheel. And I'm road-kill."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984206,00.html#ixzz1Gro...

.. and I'm downwind from Several of these Northeast reactors, and their spent-fuel pools.

Seems kind of odd that the spent fuel pools are in the same building as the reactors. Perhaps it offers some advantage? It just seems that if there IS a problem with a reactor, that not having spent fuel in the immediate vicinity to worry about would be nice... I mean, what if the spent fuel were in the building that blew up because of hydrogen? Wouldn't the spent fuel then be scattered around everywhere?

Maybe it's standard practice not to house spent fuel in an operating reactor? Why not have a completely seperate building then?

Recent removed fuel is typically in the same building.

At least one explosion was due to the fuel. All had rod ponds in the building, and all 4 ponds have overlapping issues with their parent reactors, and I think 3 have had heating problems.

It is unclear whether the explosions damaged the ponds or the fuel.

Separate building would complicate logistics and add other risks, which for whatever reasons apparently outweigh those we see manifesting today.

There is another building on-site back from the reactors that has the main spent fuel ponds according to the IAEA but fuel is only moved there after it has been allowed to cool enough in the reactor pools (for a year or so I think he said). Cooling was not lost at main spent-fuel building apparently.

jokuhl, keep pounding and sourcing this message, waste disposal is the weak link and the nuclear industry can only lie about its status globally. This has always been the weak link, but keep up the good research and sources. I hadn't followed this as closely as you but I was aware that waste has never been really handled. Private enterprise gaining profit enabled by means of socializing risk seems to be the new modus operandi of the corporate sector, and I think it's also their achilles heel.

Yes, waste disposal is huge. But as we are seeing and have seen, really bad things can happen at every level even if by some miracle this problem was vanished away.

Go back in time 100 years and see how many wars occurred. Go back in time and see how many unforeseen natural large scale events have happened (a natural event is NEVER a disaster, it's an event, Japan is an island precisely because of these geologically frequent movements that push it out further from the mainland).

I grew up expecting the 'big one' in California, and that big one has not yet happened. The longer it takes to happen, the stronger it will be. When it comes, our plants will probably fail too. And then we will see the same posturing and nonsense repeated explaining how the design was fine, or if it fails, that the design is NOW ok, no further issues.

Now add to these plutonium, cesium, etc, released into the ecosystem with a breakdown of advanced industrial methods. Like we saw in WW II, WW I, I won't list all the other wars in just the 20th century. The sense of exceptionalism we seem to insist on deluding ourselves with really has no historical or empirical grounding. Let's just name a few more: the 100 years war, the 30 years war, the war of 1812, the Viet Nam war. Collapse of Mideast states almost overnight. Attack and bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan. Where is the stability that is posited by the exceptionalist viewpoint? Could it be that we are simply being greedy and irresponsible, and totally failing as stewards of the earth?

Moving danger into the future in order to enable short-sighted present gain is wrong, and is unethical.

These threads are doing good work, exposing other failures the industry didn't want you to know about, exposing bad practices, unsafe methods, ignored warnings, in other words, exposing the true face of humans running technologies that are too complex to be handled by imperfect entities like ourselves.

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California apparently has no earthquake response plan. This is an active earthquake zone. PGE skipped this because the supreme court rules that PGE didn't need to have one. This is via radio just now so if someone has more concrete information post it.

At California Nuclear Plant, Earthquake Response Plan Not Required

The case made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., where a 5-4 majority -- including current Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Clinton independent counsel Kenneth Starr -- ruled that earthquakes did not have to be included in the plant's emergency response plans.

The underlying theory was that the plant's design, which came after years of planning and geological studies, could withstand any foreseeable earthquake in the area -- the same assumption that guided thinking in Japan.


Wow, science by judicial proceedings. This is like some sick joke. Did these clowns determine the earthquake potential based on case law or did they follow the statutes?

Part of the Millstone Waste Storage problem that Galatis had warned his employer about (and became Persona-non-grata for..) was that the piping for these pools were not rated for earthquakes, and were supposed to be..

H2, do you happen to have a blog? I really appreciate your commentary during this historic nuclear incident.

I second that, many many thanks for your efforts!

Yes he does. It's:


Corporations behave as psychopaths (Antisocial personality disorder)
"The Mask of Sanity" by Cleckley: This is a $600 book if you find one!
They consume without empathy. It is written into their rules. They must.

PG&E are psychopaths.
They fielded and lied about a proposition to end alternative sources.


On June 8, voters will be going to the ballot for what many consider a snoozer of a primary with no important issues. However, Proposition 16 is flying under the media radar and threatens to severely curtail future energy conservation efforts by restricting our rights to create, produce and manage our alternative energy resources. The so-called Taxpayers Right to Vote, Proposition 16 is a $32.5 million Trojan Horse effort paid for by Pacific Gas & Electric to deceive the state into shutting down any future opportunities to determine our own local energy futures. Inside the belly of the beast is a sham.

They blew-up San Bruno by redefining federally mandated pipeline inspection procedures in their favor.


And these grotesque monsters run a nuclear reactor at Diablo Canyon!
Just like the grotesque monsters running the reactors in Japan.
Because the human animal is a abomination of nature.
It destroys what it's imagined cartoon characters in the sky, in their own image, create, just for them to use, in exclusion to any other purpose.

Humans must not be allowed to control such energies as
their own science can provide... because...

THEM MONKEYS IS CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark Twain:

The Matrix:

Latest released image from TEPCO. Reactor buildings 3 and 4 I think.

I think that photo is the same one we saw 2 days ago. It was shown in two versions on NHK TV after the evening (US time) press conference. Reactor #4 is the one in the middle of the picture. I think that the main floor of both reactors is just above the large hole in the center of #4. That leads one to think there was considerable damage to #4 below the main floor, which is one reason to suspect damage to the pool for cooling the fuel rods as well. But, we all know that by now...

E. Swanson

Yes, I think so as well now. Reuters put it up as a brand new image then removed it. Still I hadn't seen a jpeg of it before that I can recall. Was it not just yesterday though it was shown on tv? I'm losing track...

Which reactor is which versus an aerial view? I thought 4 was offset from the other 3? Are they all at the same base elevation?

This is the first detailed photo i see: OK this is bad. They can mostly leave it and hope it doesnt start a fire, and that wind is from land towards see the next weeks... keep water on it if possible.

It really makes you wonder if re-connecting grid power is going to be much help... how much plumbing has been damaged by the explosions and fires?

Back on Monday, when we saw that huge black debris cloud shooting up from #3, I had to wonder: how much critical equipment went up in that cloud?

PT in PA

That picture just says it all.

What was on the land under that pile of noxious garbage before?

Fishing communities and villages and nature that sustained people for hundreds of years.

Remember what we have given up----traded---in return for the deadly, ugly, useless, expensive garbage we have all generated: an industrial lifestyle that may hardly bring anyone happiness.

Nuclear power is an appendage of the oil age---it needs a great deal of oil in order to function.


No country can afford to create these wastelands, but there will probably be more to come.

The BP oil spill was another wasteland generator.

Entropy in high gear.

Isn't it to be expected? The entropic process is slow at first, steady, seemingly friendly. Then towards the end (this plant is old and kept open due to cost cutting, the BOP oil spill had a very deep well) of the availability of low entropy resources, the speed of entropy increases.

The stock market is up because of better news about this situation. What exactly is the better news? I don't see it in this thread.

I think the "better news" was in yesterday's thread.

Power and water hooked up, etc.

It seems to have taken a turn for the worse again this morning.

Latest report (NHK) is that they hope to have grid power at site "hopefully as early as Friday". What they will do with that supply remains to be seen. It is now Friday in Japan (just).

They are pouring cash into the markets from BOJ. I bet the real status without that 1 Trillion dollar injection would be dire.

Perhaps people thought the watercannon would work. We all jump to hoping that the latest desperate strategy is going to save the day. Nothing seems to be saving the day in this situation, however.

As one expert said, "There IS not best case scenario, no happy ending here" (or something like that).


By the way, leanan, you might add democracy now to your list of sources. What ever one thinks of their politics, at least they are not run by major corporations that might want to skew things in a certain direction.

Here's their latest:


Not only is the DOW up, but so is crude and gold. They have moved together for awhile now. Is crude the driver here?

Or a weakening dollar?

I believe the big picture has been taken in, and investors are cold-blooded: this will not wreak havoc on the world economy, worst case is a rather large area of Japan unusable; that's it.
This means world stock value is unchanged, or down a few percent, especially Japan, and such a correction has already taken place.
Or in another wording: the market has valued the assets now, under these new circumstances.
The valuation could be wrong, but it was also wrong 2 weeks ago, as well as it could be still higher in 2 weeks. That is the market, it is doing its best (guess).

I repeat: the world is not disappearing, thus the market moves on.

"the world is not disappearing"

haha...that statement reminds me of the scene near the end of the Wizard of Oz "ignore the man behind the curtain"

"the big picture has been taken in"

Assine statement--we are peering thru a keyhole that is located about 50 yards away...how you think this means we know "the big picture" on the other side...*shakeshead*

Fair enough - I didnt say i agree, I simply observe how the market functions.
2 weeks ago everybody looked through the same keyhole - now this has been factored in and investors look again forward - but it is equally unsure. Will be in 6 months time too...
But based on this an index value is determined.

There is no intelligence in market movements. Much like the annoying spontaneous flocking of pigeons.

Speaking of pigeons, is Sendai near any major air/sea migration routes?

Markets have never been rational. They are more movements of mass irrationality grounded in junky mentality, purely emotion driven. I suspect at some point their will be a moment of clarity about the global situation in general and this will be the day of reckoning. Ironically, denial is the only thing that keeps it going and keeps the economy from collapsing into a smoking ruin.

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been pumped into the financial system by the Central Banks to avert financial gridlock. Pump enough money in and stocks rise. When bad news means massive liquidity injections it is good news as far as the financial oligarchs are concerned.

Fukushima to move residents near nuclear plant to neighboring prefectures

FUKUSHIMA -- The prefectural government is set to move all people near a quake-hit nuclear power plant, who want to flee the area, out of the prefecture.

There are an ever growing number of internal refugees in Japan. Many have been short of adequate supplies of food and water and heat for days now.

We are likely to start seeing a secondary wave of deaths from this triple disaster as the very young and elderly, in particular, start to succumb to these difficult conditions.

The government is overwhelmed.

Some good articles at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

There are several experimental treatments for radiation. Hopefully Japan is aware of these -- it might be a good field-trial situation.


Ex-Rad is another drug in development.

The UN says the radioactive plume should hit the US by Friday.

Radiation will be much reduced by then, but it does speak to the global nature of this crisis.

Nuclear power anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.

Well, if you compare a Japanese reactor that has a core meltdown with an ordinary Chinese coal plant, are you sure that the reactor is the big killer? I suspect that the coal plant will kill far more and do far more harm to the environment than the reactor over their respective life times.

These accidents are bad, really bad, primarily because they will set back the nuclear renaissance a decade or two and take a lot of otherwise clean electricity off line. The radiation is not the big, lasting problem here. We cannot even learn very much from these accidents, as we knew of the problem with active cooling and current Gen3 designs such as AP1000 has already taken care of it by incorporating passive cooling.

I have been pro nuclear for exactly the reason that you state- the hazards and health and death statistics favor nuclear over coal. But if we one is going to be honest then the cost of an incident such as this has to included into the cost of nuclear power generation - hat tip to a commentator TOD. I don't know what the probability is of this kind of event but clearly it is not zero and might in fact with widespread adoption of nuclear power be even higher then itcurrently is-even with new technology. Add back the value of the tax payer subsidy for loan guarantees etc and you arrive at true cost of nuclear energy. I think it is that value that should be compared with renewable sources with the appropriate battery back up costs ( to convert renewable energy to something equivalent to base load). I have no idea how those numbers would come out at. But if on that basis renewables in fact the turn out to be cheaper then nuclear then it seems to me that those of us who favor nuclear over coal need to drop their support of nuclear in favor renewables.

Thanks for the insight, (not-so) crazyv.

About the only argument nuclear proponents have these days seems to boil down to:

"Coal power is bad, too."

As if anyone ever said it wasn't.

Coal being bad doesn't make nuclear good.

This thing may get much worse, yet we already have a radioactive cloud drifting halfway around the world. What if the next big cloud drifts over the billion people in eastern China--much closer so much more less time for dilution?

The risks have different contours--nuclear can be virtually risk free for years, then suddenly pose an immediate threat to a significant portion of mankind; while coal's threat steadily builds up in the atmosphere.

Let's not pretend that those who don't like one of these threats is ready to embrace the other.

Powerdown is the only direction to take. I don't call it a "solution"--we are far past any possibility for such cheery talk. But planning and working toward a society which has radically smaller energy requirements is the only mature and responsible course, painful though it may be at times.

Coal being bad doesn't make nuclear good.

Actually, it does, since coal is THE large-scale economic alternative.

What if the next big cloud drifts over the billion people in eastern China--much closer so much more less time for dilution?

A few thousand thyroid cancers and a below-noise-level increase in other cancers, perhaps.

The risks have different contours--nuclear can be virtually risk free for years, then suddenly pose an immediate threat to a significant portion of mankind; while coal's threat steadily builds up in the atmosphere.

Coal cause cancers as well, it's not just about AGW. Coal is much worse than nuclear even if we disregard AGW.

Powerdown is the only direction to take.

No. Powering down is worse than using coal which is worse than using nuclear. Simple as that.

I fully agree, but I do have an idea how the numbers would come up. They would favor nuclear A LOT.

We have an enormous problem here. What we would like to do is try to internalize as much costs as possible and then let the market sort out what to produce and what not to produce. However, this doesn't seem politically feasible, and thus we have a mess of subsidies, taxes and regulation based on the beliefs of those who influence such decisions (and based on inertia of politics and regulation).

We cannot even learn very much from these accidents, as we knew of the problem with active cooling and current Gen3 designs such as AP1000 has already taken care of it by incorporating passive cooling.

Kind of an amazing statement, reminiscent of how so many nuclear proponents wildly overestimate the knowledge they posses (or can feasibly possess). If you deny even the possibility of safety problems, then preventing their occurrence gets much more unlikely. If you are sure there is nothing to learn, learning gets much more unlikely.

Obvious things we can learn from this accident.
1) Siting multiple reactors close together vastly complicates disaster response and even normal operations at reactors which are not experiencing problems.
2) Spent fuel storage needs much more attention, including better containment, redundant cooling & water circulation systems.
3) Spent fuel storage should not be sited above functioning reactors.
4) Backup generators should be sited to be protected from reasonably expected common mode failure events (floods/tsunamis often accompany earthquakes,etc.)
5) Better remote monitoring and radiation hardened robotics should be available for emergencies.
6) Unforeseen failure modes will always exist.

Obvious things we can conclude from this list:

a) all this needs to be addressed even after sixty years of nuclear power
b) there is probably much more that needs to be addressed that we are not even aware of YET
c) This reactor design was known to have problems since 1974 and yet nothing was done.
d) Putting nuclear reactors in geophysically unstable areas (ie all of Japan) causes problems
e) Talking about "costs" is irrelevant when the "cost" is that a big portion of a country, or all of a country, or several countries, might become uninhabitable for centuries.
f) Murphy's Law is inescapable
g) We haven't even seen a Worst Case Scenario yet.

I've been reasonably supportive of nuclear power until now, and the additional self-education prompted by this event, but now I think it is unacceptable. There is no reason to run these kinds of risks just so we can have our air conditioners set at 70F instead of 75F.

Nuclear power accounts for about 30% of Japan's electricity generation. What would an alternative be? Of course there will be hundreds of people saying that wind/solar/natural gas/coal/tidal/whatever is a good solution, but I think a better solution, for Japan, is to just use less electricity. If you reduce electricity usage by 30%, then problem solved.

The best way to do this is simply to make electricity more expensive, by way of what amounts to a tax, of say $0.20 per kilowatt/hour.

This would have negative economic consequences, so it should be offset by tax cuts elsewhere, for example lower payroll taxes and lower corporate taxes.

The end result is that people would set their air conditioners at 78F, and they would have lower payroll and corporate taxes. Not a bad solution.

First, the Japanese stand at 60% of US per-capita electricity use.

Yes, nuclear is/was close to 30% in Japan. Coal is another 30%. If you reduce by 30%, you have to choose between the coal and the nuclear.

Actually, world wide, fossil and nuclear is at 90% of total energy production. These 90% is a matter of life and death - and if you cut it all out, it's death. If you want to cut some out, you have to choose what to cut and what to keep.

The tax cuts negative consequences can't be fully offset by tax cuts elsewhere. You lose efficiency when you distort prices.

"2) Spent fuel storage needs much more attention, including better containment, redundant cooling & water circulation systems."

This one. It also means that recycling is imperative. Not something we can postpone for 60 years while we use stockpiled fuel.

We also learned that the industry is corrupt. But that shouldn't be shocking, altought it was, at least for myself - cognitive dissonance at work.

Maybe it's simplistic of me, but the old saw about 'Absolute Power Corrupting Absolutely' would seem to help explain the kinds of abuses and we've frequently experienced with this industry and their 'Regulators'.


Well, NPR just got defunded from Federal Dollars by our Sweet-Tea Party today, and Diane Rehm just had a couple Earnest Fission Boosters on her show to boot, while seeming a little miffed that one wouldn't come clean when she was asked 'What Kinds of Abuses were the NRC looking at (accused of?)' ..

The answer was initially, "You know towels on the floor, things out of place..", which a teensy bit of Diane's incredulity got upgraded to "Valves left open that were supposed to be shut, or left shut that were supposed to be open.."

Well, I wonder why she wasn't able to find a single Nuclear Opponent to help her put some really pressing challenges to this Status Quo Gang? (Probably similar to why the NewsHour couldn't manage to find any AntiWar voices during the leadup to these Tragedies in Iraq/Afghanistan.) I really need a reason to want to give them my support any more, but they side with Money so reliably, it seems their beds must be made with the stuff.


Chip Pardee -Chief Operating Officer for Exelon Generation, the nation’s largest owner and operator of nuclear plants.

Ellen Vancko -Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Project Manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Charles Ferguson -President of the Federation of American Scientists

Angie Howard -Former executive with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). Now a consultant for companies involved in nuclear and science technology.

.. some good comments managed to make it into the Country Club, though. (at the above link)

NPR, Sesame Street was set in a simple, working class urban neighborhood. If you want to find your soul again, look there!

It's funny that with each new industry that rolls over and the muck comes out, we're all surprised to find corruption and sloth on both sides of the regulatory fence.

One thing they should also plan for is the possibility of having to vent hydrogen gas. They *should* be able to vent it in a flare stack of some sort (not unlike that used in the oil/gas industry) so they can burn it off in a controlled manner and not let it build up until an explosion occurs.

I was talking about design flaws, primarily, not about disaster response. While you have some valid points, most of what you present is mitigated by passive cooling.

The coal will be burned. Better call up Massey Energy and tell them to quit exporting coal do the developing world , cause we have clean, safe nuclear power.

It is all bad. No day in the sun for nuclear, comparing it to dirty coal.
Get a grip. We are on the verge of a catastrophic release of nuclear waste into the environment.
In one giant pulse.

Coal drips out the mercury, heavy metals, and CO2.

Both are bad. Nukes need to be designed by thoughtful engineers.

Nuclear does not replace coal, we use all the coal we produce, nuclear is an additional energy source that allowed us to increase consumption levels over the baseline coal generated. That's speaking globally. This fallacy seems deeply engrained but easily seen to be false, and it appears somebody is going to insist on repeating it daily, so I'm going to note the fallacy daily.

The use of the term 'renaissance' might apply to the wealth the construction of nuclear power plants generates for the corporations that create and run them, freed of the long term disposal and short term insurance costs, which we the people out there get to pay for, but it's a terrible term to use to label the expansion of long term toxic technologies that future generations will go to great lengths to curse us vigorously and frequently for leaving them the mess while we enjoyed our brief 'renaissance'.

Gen 1 accidents show the problems with gen 1 designs, gen 2 and 3 designs when they fail will show the problems with those designs. Since humans and human cultures run these, the gen 2 / 3 plants will age, something will be neglected or not foreseen, or costs will be cut, whatever, a war will happen, the local infrastructure will fail as oil production fails, it makes no difference how this is excused. Please move to the area in question and demonstrate for us that you are really not concerned with the radiation issues. Make sure to take your family along with you since there really is no danger and land prices will be cheap.

You're wrong when you say accidents like this 'set back' anything, what they do is show people that we are dealing with parts of nature that we cannot control when we lose control of them. People see this, and thankfully people understand this clearly, which is why 3 mile island was the stake in the heart in the USA, of course, this is even stronger, since all standard excuses are not active.

Read When the Lights Went Out - A History of Blackouts in America, David E. Nye, to get a sense of why humans trying to convince themselves that the latest safety measures on large scale complex systems do in fact correct the existing weaknesses, but in the process, introduce new, and in general, even more catastrophic failure points, and, most important, totally unforeseeable or predictable, since the system is in fact a new one, which has not yet exposed the failure that will occur, that failure in turn creates the next level, and so on. An excellent conceptual treatment, fully applicable to nuclear energy. Coal is different because we can shut the plants down tomorrow and all we have to deal with are those big slag piles they leave as waste, no long term issues. And they should be shut down due to CO2 emissions. A wrong plus a wrong equals a greater wrong, not an improvement. It's nice to see that really nothing new is being added to the pro nuke apology front, but I expect great things from them in our near future, too much money involved.

All programmers know that failure will always occur after initial testing when new and unexpected combinations of data and user actions expose the new weakness. The more complex the code base, the less predictable the bugs and failures become.

All programmers know that failure will always occur after initial testing when new and unexpected combinations of data and user actions expose the new weakness. The more complex the code base, the less predictable the bugs and failures become.

"given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow"


Certainly makes me wish more activities, like nuclear power, that can affect so many people were always open to public scrutiny. ...Including designs, especially corrections and improvements.

While I am all for transparency, and more eyes can help any designer or engineer, my experience has been that the poor decisions most likely will come from marketing or management. Most engineers I know are "belt and suspenders" types.

I was designing a performance verification routine for a high speed test system, for a high profile aero turbine manufacturer. This was our first contract with them.

The project manager (squint, not engineer) questioned my extensive test.

His concern was that my rigorous approach might detect problems that "would really screw up the production schedule"

I swear I am not exaggerating.

Am I anal? Perhaps, but when it involves keeping large airliners in the air, attention to detail seems reasonable.

We parted company after I was accused of not being a "team player".

Chances are, the engineers will welcome the light. Management?, probably not so much.

No offense, but as someone who has personally wasted weeks of my life on a Linux kernel bug, that claim is total BS. Great eyes trump mediocre eyes by a factor of at least 100 to 1, which is another law all real programmers know. You can have 1000 incompetent programmers look at some complex logic and see all of them fail. It's not numbers, it's skill levels.

My bug, for the record, was never fixed, I gave up and replaced the hardware, after one of the core Linux devs admitted their procedures and debuggers were failing totally, and swore I'd never waste my time with those guys again.

The larger the code base, the harder it is to fix complex bugs, that's the reality of it, because the connections grow so complex and non-predictable with unexpected data inputs or actions, and so interrelated that simple fixes almost always trigger cascades of unexpected consequences. I've seen groups of 'programmers' produce the most possible bugs per line on the simplest of possible code, which is when I stopped working with them and did it myself.

I see many idealize FOSS, but those who tend to idealize it the most I note tend to contribute the least code. Besides, Linus is a terrible example of anything positive, pick something less annoying and more truly open, like the Apache project for example. And this, I promise, will be the last words I ever enter here about this sphere of activity, beyond vague generalizations like the one above.

I found and patched a kernel bug in an unprotected critical section inside a rarely firing ISR, in vendor code delivered only in binary without even assembler available. Once found, I could reproduce it. Once fixed, I informed the vendor (a major, respected, tier-1 vendor) of the patch, and verified that the bug had existed in every release we'd ever gotten of that base. The vendor did not, and would not, admit there was ever a problem because nobody else had ever reported the problem and that was "fully tested" code.

I ended up building a patch to automatically apply to that file for every new code release we got from them. We switched vendor a couple of years later.

The worst bugs are those that are well known technically, but persist due to bugs in the people-process rather than the technology itself. Which is why nuclear will never be "safe", and neither will deep-water drilling, or any other major human endeavor, especially long-term efforts where bureaucracy, sloth, and graft can wend their ways into the technical operations.

The vendor did not, and would not, admit there was ever a problem because nobody else had ever reported the problem and that was "fully tested" code.

Yeah, I experienced that a lot. I was working for a hardware/software company and we did make some serious software (accounting). I was actually in hardware part, so I didn't have direct access to software development/testing, but as IT technician I was often sent out to customers to deal with errors, bugs and stuff. I went to one particular customer who was complaining about application "acting weirdly". I saw it for myself and called back to my company that: "Guys, you have some serious bug here, some floating point operation or pointers are flying through the roof!!".
And the response from the company owner (one of the chief coders himself) was: "No, it has to be OK, because the software has been shipped out to customers."
O. M. G.
How does that make an application bug-free??? :P

So, you see, Paleocon, if app is out, it has to be OK. No exceptions allowed! :D

I would continue with some quite comical stories, but I don't want to bore you to death... O:-) and I'm pretty sure you do have tons of such stories yourself, too.

Nuclear does not replace coal, we use all the coal we produce, nuclear is an additional energy source that allowed us to increase consumption levels over the baseline coal generated.

Not agreed. France, Germany and Britain chose different paths. France chose nuclear and now has some 80% of it. Germany and Britain chose fossil thermal, but has both started to shy away from coal (and let more of it stay in the ground) in favor of natural gas. They all have comparable electricity consumption per capita.

freed of the long term disposal and short term insurance costs, which we the people out there get to pay for,

This isn't correct. These costs and more are taken by the nuclear operations themselves, generally. I don't know the specifics of every country, but it's customary to have laws to set aside money for long term disposal, and it's also most often the case that insurance fees and arbitrary taxes together are larger than a reasonable full insurance fee.

Since humans and human cultures run these, the gen 2 / 3 plants will age, something will be neglected or not foreseen, or costs will be cut, whatever, a war will happen, the local infrastructure will fail as oil production fails, it makes no difference how this is excused.

Certainly. Nuclear plants will fail again, but that's acceptable, as alternatives are worse. This is life - we go out, do the best we can and take our chances.

Please move to the area in question and demonstrate for us that you are really not concerned with the radiation issues.

This type of challenge is worthless.

You're wrong when you say accidents like this 'set back' anything, what they do is show people that we are dealing with parts of nature that we cannot control when we lose control of them.

It does both, unfortunately.

Coal is different because we can shut the plants down tomorrow and all we have to deal with are those big slag piles they leave as waste, no long term issues.

Different, yes. But if you sum it up, coal will come out worse. Your fear of radioactivity isn't rational. You confuse the size of headlines with the size of problems.

A wrong plus a wrong equals a greater wrong, not an improvement.

You have to choose the wrong. It's as simple as that.

You ignored the essence and pick at the details, this is typical.

We use all we produce, you ignored that, which shows me I can safely ignore you.

Consumption levels are increasing of everything, period, nothing is being saved or conserved. You are misrepresenting reality here. Why? All efforts at excuse making strive to avoid cutting consumption, this is a lethal future, and I don't want any part of it.

Always with the fallacious false choice, we use all uranium we can make, we use all coal, we use all oil. Prices escalate now, period. Price escalation because of supply exceeding demand. Why is it apologists won't even use the market unless it suites their agendas? Refusal to admit supply demand pricing happening now shows a refusal to deal with reality and a fantasy based world view, or a view colored by personal material interests.

Your statement ignores everything I wrote, it's not a wrong or another wrong, it's two wrongs. You seem to be unable to grasp that concept that we have hit the real limits to growth here, that's why we used nuclear. We are now stretching those limits. Nuclear saves no coal, it pushes us further away from sustainability and renewable power.

When someone tells me something is not dangerous but will never ever move to the region, or even consider it, it's a demonstration of their hypocracy and deception, it is not worthless. If you tell me living in the ghetto is fine but you refuse to live there I can ignore you totally, which I will do from now on based on the other thread. Tough brave words come frequently from those who would never dream of subjecting themselves to what they don't hesitate to volunteer others for, like the Bush group who loved military action but all of whom had avoided it personally.

I see where you're coming from here, the US is going to have big problems until we fix your type of viewpoint, and that's probably only going to happen by hardcore material restraints and economic failures happening first. So much for intelligent design and planning here I guess.

New image from Digital Globe. Hi-res versions at link. http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalglobe-imagery

Great photo. A bit surprising (troubling?) that there is no visible steam anymore. Does anyone know where exactly in this photo the storage pools are that we have been talking about?

There is visible steam or smoke coming from buildings 2 (from the hole in wall) and 3 if you look at the hi-res versions.

Actually, there is visible steam, headed from right to left in the picture. If you look at the second reactor down, the one with what appears to be the most damage, you'll see it on the left side of the building. I also saw what looked to be steam coming from the third reactor down, again on the left side of the building. I thought I spotted a bit at the top left corner of the top reactor, but photo res or screen res wasn't sufficient to be sure.

Probably not important, but there is a white pipe on the roof of a building just to the right of the tall tower, which appears to be emitting black smoke. Wonder what that is. (Could also be a shadow or water on the roof.)

IAEA discussed this photo in press conf within last hour and said they could see something rising from 3 of the reacor buildings. They identified steam from 3 and a small amount of steam from 4 which they could just see. They used the word "smoke" for what they could see from reactor 2 rather than steam.

Unfortunately I only caught a small part of conference so don't know if they clarified this later.

Thanks. I guess, when the steam stops, that will mean that all the water has boiled off? So not good?

Picked up this link to what is supposed to be a webcam of the site at the Reuters LiveBlog; it's "Too Many Clients" at the moment, of course. One commentor said steam was clearly visible.

Some commentor at Reuters says this is actually the Fukushima Yanaizu Power Plant, so grain of salt time. No response from others commentors or Reuters mods so...?

It does show steam coming out of something.

GE and Hitachi both manufactured reactors which are now currently involved in the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In 2007, the companies’ nuclear divisions merged to form GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

Here's a couple presentations:
Hitachi “High Safety” Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) Design Overview

They made need to update slide 13 ...

...High Safety Features of BWR
- Extremely Low Core Damage Frequency
- No Actual Experience of Accident such as TMI-2 or Chernobyl


GE Hitachi “Overcoming Barriers” to Nuclear Energy Presentation

same for slide 16, 18 and 22

Their motto: "National sponsorship + favorable legislation = nuclear growth and success!"

Related to Fukushima nuclear plant owner falsified inspection records article:

Bungling, cover-ups define Japanese nuclear power

Behind Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses.

Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all.

In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died.

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

In 1989 Sugaoka received an order that horrified him: edit out footage showing cracks in plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators. Sugaoka alerted his superiors in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., but nothing happened — for years.

Noone wants to kill the goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

or as the old Maine story put it,

Maine Guide: "Mister, what that stove needs is a Governor!"
Jack: "'Governer', hell! You put SOFTWOOD into that boiler and the PRESIDENT HIMSELF couldn't have stopped the exploshun! Don't pretend I didn't warn you, but it's got one HECKUVA Draft!"

I have lived in New Orleans, New York and Tokyo. IMHO I rate the corruption as Tokyo #1 New York #2 and New Orleans #3. The biggest difference was the victims. New Orleans almost always targeted the poor.

The author of this article, Lewis Page, has a serious case of Polyanna Syndrome. A few days ago he wrote:

The three worst affected will cost more to put right than the other ones, having been cooled with the backup-backup seawater system and lost their roofs, but the process of sorting them out will not be a lot more onerous than a normal periodic refuelling.

That gives him approximately zero credibility in my books. He doesn't deserve a link on a serious analysis site like TOD.

IAEA warned Japan over nuclear quake risk: WikiLeaks

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned Japan two years ago that a strong earthquake could pose a "serious problem" for its nuclear power stations, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported.

An IAEA expert expressed concern that the Japanese reactors were only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors, according to a December 2008 US diplomatic cable obtained by the WikiLeaks website, Telegraph reported.

...Another cable sent in March 2006 showed that the Japanese government had opposed a court order to close a plant in the country's west over doubts about its ability to withstand an earthquake.

Why do we keep hearing this stuff about magnitudes? They are designed to survive certain accelerations. The magnitude of the quake isn't especially relevant even if it was right under the plant as that still depends on depth. It would be better if we used a scale based on the level of shaking at a location as the Japanese do themselves.

I suppose they need something to latch onto in the press. I am fed up hearing they withstood a 9 when the shake level in the area of the Fukushima Daiichi plant was much less than Christchurch experienced in their 6.3 according to the USGS. (Edited after I looked up latest figures - peak ground acceleration in Christchurch was an astonishing 1.88g in the city and 2.2g at epicentre)


EDIT: After a little googling, I believe no currently operating US nuclear reactor (or Japanese for that matter) is designed to survive the shaking experienced in Christchurch from a 6.3.

Thanks for that information- I had never heard of those measurements before.

The answer to your question - I guess is because most of the reporter's hadn't heard of it either and even if they had they were probably concerned their readers/listners wouldn't have the foggiest idea of what they were saying. I am not surprised that the MSM hasn't picked up on it- they stopped trying to educate their readers a long time ago. However, I am disappointed that I haven't seen this discussed on PBS.

Just found the Huffington Post has an article on this http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kroodsma/nuclear-plants-risks_b_8365...

The bottom map above shows the earthquake risk as measured by "Peak Ground Acceleration", or PGA. During an earthquake, the ground shakes back and forth, and the damage is roughly proportional to the ground's maximum acceleration. The map shows the two percent likelihood that the PGA will exceed the shown values in the next 50 years.

Note that the Christchurch quake is way off the scale.

Add all those 2%s together and you get a rather large probability of a major shake happening somewhere with a nuke on it in the next 50 years.

And some of those would be under cities where lots of people live, which would be even worse. So far, nobody has died this past year of quake-related nuclear radiation that we know of. How many have died of ordinary quake impacts?

I know this is getting tiresome, but we have to stop reacting out of fear and emotion, and spend our money and time where it matters most. Let's arbitrarily assign a value of human life -- I'm going to shoot low and say $100K overall. I'm pretty sure it's not the million or so for workplace accidents, since most people don't insure themselves for that much even in rich countries.

So, let's say every decade there is a melt-down that eventually kills 10K people due to radiation. That's $1B in human loss, which is small compared to the reactor replacement cost.

Earthquakes seem to be killing far more, well over 10K per year. Still, that's $1B per year. Small compared to other damage, but a larger number than nukes.

Now, just for grins, let's up the value of human life 10x to $1M per capita. The cost of people is still much smaller than the insured cost of damages, and a small fraction of the total cost.

The impact of war is of course higher still -- nary a year goes by without 100K Iraqis or Rwandans or somebody dying. And again, often in midst of wholesale infrastructure destruction as well.

Cars kill about that many again. The cost of malnutrition is much higher, too. Cigarettes -- higher still.

And then there are communicable diseases -- the flu alone kills 250K per year.

Most of these last few don't destroy a lot of capital, though -- the cost is mostly in the end-of-life care plus some incidentals in richer nations, and even these offer a quick, cheap death elsewhere.

The greatest savings, though, would be simply be by having fewer people, and thereby fewer people at risk. If we don't reduce population voluntarily, starvation, war, and disease will ever more completely swamp the other causes. I'd say we need effective birth control more than we need safe nuclear reactors. I'd also say that the value of individual lives go down with each new birth. Already the value is significantly negative in many locales, else infanticide, abortion, and child trafficking would be less prevalent.

Again, I'm not trying to be pro-nuke, just anti-knee-jerk, and pushing as always for a reason-based cost-accounting of societal options, with some brushing along the third-rail of human life value for good measure.

Generally people insure themelves just enough to provide an orderly transition for those around them to life without the deceased, perhaps paying down a few medium-size debts in the process. Most people don't insure themselves for a full economic replacement, and most people are worth more to society alive than as an insurance benefit check. To even begin to put a dollar amount on the value of a human life, start by putting a number on human capital. A good rough approximation can be found by calculating the "present value of future work".

The US government agencies routinely use (different!) numbers in the mid-seven figures for cost-benefit analyses. The Columbia Journalism Review treated this in some depth recently; see http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/coming_to_terms_with_the_value.php

Amen to having fewer people. That's a lot of capital equipment to maintain.

I thought about your first point, but last I checked an on-the-job-death here was worth only a couple of hundred $K.

My work insurance is cheap up to about 3x salary. Other insurance companies start getting antsy when you talk about policies over $1M (over 250K you had to have a full physical, too).

And these are all dollar-valued American numbers. I strongly expect a near-starving Kenyan would cost much less. How much did the Indians in Bhopal get, in a less populated world? Glad you asked -- about $2,000.

As for you second point -- worth to society -- that is arguable. Given the fraction not working, say on welfare, how do you value those? I think we like to pretend a life is worth what is paid into it on top of some intrinsic value, but like a project car or house, it's really worth what you can sell it for. The median US net worth is about $100K -- not too terribly far from the Worker's Comp and company-paid insurance amounts for a matching person.

Perhaps one of the reasons slavery was so popular in its time is that people were worth more for the work they could accomplish than any "intrinsic" value of their life. It is possible that now that there are more people, fewer resources, and cheap energy and machines, that people are actually worth less.

I humbly submit that when it comes to dollars, the economy thinks your life is worth what you are monetarily worth. That rather makes sense, from a very cold and inhumane valuation viewpoint.

I personally think the lives of myself and mine are precious, but I am admittedly myopic. I would be more than happy if we as a society valued life more highly, and I think juries try to do that when somebody with deep pockets is paying, but really I don't think that overall we do value the lives of distant strangers very highly at all.

Edit: The article you referenced is a good one, and the numbers are significantly larger than those I stated. However, most of the studies were on what society should pay under various scenarios, not what an individual would pay for somebody else's life (perspective can be very important), and justifying expenditures for cancer or aircraft crashes is like the nuclear issues in this thread -- high on emotional valuation. Anyway, the interesting point to me is that the valuations are so wide, and it's not only the value of the life but how they die that is significant. Some deaths seem somehow "more wrong". This leads to things like hate crime legislation too. Oddly, we tend to value the old (not much life to live?) and the young (not much invested?) less, and those in between more (successful career woman, etc.).

In a dollars-only world, you'd have to pay some fee to have a kid or get some credit for having one (depending on how the curve was based), and other people could buy 'people tags' to hunt individuals, as long as they could pay the societally recognized value. I know it sounds macabre, but I think this what our global economy effectively does, while hiding visibility of the internal workings so everybody can sleep peacefully at night.

"I personally think the lives of myself and mine are precious"

Yes, a better standard would be to assign the same value to those harmed/injured/killed as the executives directly responsible for safety would assign to themselves (or measure from insurance policies).

I know this is getting tiresome, but we have to stop reacting out of fear and emotion, and spend our money and time where it matters most. Let's arbitrarily assign a value of human life -- I'm going to shoot low and say $100K overall. I'm pretty sure it's not the million or so for workplace accidents, since most people don't insure themselves for that much even in rich countries.

So, let's say every decade there is a melt-down that eventually kills 10K people due to radiation. That's $1B in human loss, which is small compared to the reactor replacement cost.

Earthquakes seem to be killing far more, well over 10K per year. Still, that's $1B per year. Small compared to other damage, but a larger number than nukes.

Are you the reincarnation of those auto execs back in the '60s who calculated that human deaths from a flawed design were less costly than retooling the production line???

Leaving that aside, you draw the calculation of "cost" too narrowly. What about the cost to the environment from nuclear fallout - the effects on water, land, food? Do earthquakes exact that kind of cost?


Sure, toss those costs in as best you can. That's the point -- pull off-sheet externalized costs into view as best possible, and then rate opportunities to reduce suffering based on costs and values. We could even be generous and toss in future generations with some discount rate for net-present-suffering.

I suppose you could include animals and even plants and insects it at some level, too, but then you have to value their lives and suffering as well.

I'd much rather see us argue the modeling of all this in some reasonable way than "nukes are bad", "no, coal is worse", "no, wind is better", "no, wind kills bats" in a never-ending spiral. It's just very difficult to discuss birth and death without emotions coming aggressively to the fore. Which is why I worry about the future of humanity.

I just talked today to a friend who has family in Japan, and he said not only can you quite readily note the biological damage in the residents of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, the Japanese actually have specific words to indicate how far you were from epicenter, if you went back into the center after, and so on. He said it's unmistakable. The more of this kind of attempt to minimize the severe long term hazards posed by out of control radioactivity releases, the more convinced I am that the entire debate has been totally stolen by the nuclear industry since at least the 70s, probably much earlier.

So I'd just remove any positive idea you have about nuclear power you might find in your mind and ask yourself, where did I get this idea/bias/notion? Fox news viewers of course need not ask, since you already know. However, much of the other mainstream media has promoted this uncritical and false view as well, to the degree that nuclear energy was magically supposed to save us from CO2 induced global heating.

What I now realize is that what nuclear energy did was enable us to not begin conserving, and to stop wasting energy, and to destroy just that much further our ability to start solving our problems. In other words, nuclear energy is a key culprit in this process, were we not to be using it, we would have already been forced to start finding ways to use less, and we could skip endless tiresome claims that the amount per capita we used in 2010 must now be maintained by any means necessary for the foreseeable future, no matter the price. Rather I would suggest, nuclear tells us that the time to begin conservation was in the 70s. Now we've lost 40 years, but you have to start sometime, you can't put it off forever, as I believe you will see the Japanese quickly decide. And the Germans. And everyone else involved who decides to try to be a winner in this game and not a guaranteed loser.

Nice info. Thanks.
Obviously Tokyo or other places for that matter will suffer extensively with a shallow 7.0 quake just beneath the city.
Hopefully the quakes going on these days are not part of a grand scale tectonic unzipping scheme heading southwards....

"The magnitude of the quake isn't especially relevant even if it was right under the plant as that still depends on depth."

Undertow, though I also feel your frustration, keep in mind that there are many measures of "magnitude" for earthquakes. Some of these measures reflect peak ground accelerations. One of these is ML--local magnitude. I have noticed that, often, the actual type of magnitude measure being cited is overlooked when official sources are being quoted by, say, the MSM. The numbers between different magnitude types are not exactly interchangeable, though they often yield values that are relatively close. I think this creates much confusion among the media et al.

I enjoy your posts.


Yes, I was complaining about the use of Richter magnitude in this case. Interesting watching Japanese tv when they break in with real-time projected shake levels for areas in most cases a few seconds before the quake even reaches their location.

The wording (NHK translated) is something like "This is an early earthquake warning for residents of ... Level 5+ shaking may be experienced imminently. Take action now." Then they switch to a live camera shot from the region and shake maps. A few seconds later you see the shaking start on the live feed. Of course they can't give much warning for a shallow quake directly underneath a city.

Concur in that the Richter scale doesn't tell us anything about the energy release of an earthquake. This more closely corresponds to its destructive power which scales with the 3⁄2 power of the shaking amplitude on the Richter scale.

When I fit the dispersion of earthquake magnitude probabilities, I converted to energy released because that can be treated as an obvious maximum entropy parameter. Faults are essentially masses of mantle shifting with a potential energy m*g*h.

I wasn't surprised that it fit perfectly as an entropic dispersion law because that is how Nature operates. The Oil ConunDrum, Volume 2, Chapter 30. "Environment. Disorder Around Us." Earthquakes p. 575

It would be interesting to see how the energy of hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters relates to the damage incurred. Obviously location matters greatly, so I would expect a loose correlation. Given the dispersion of population in general and relative to likely and known threats, some convolution would appear to apply.

Perhaps, with some constant scaling many such threats and even some human conflicts (wars, epidemics) could be modeled as well?

People are funny. I wonder how many farmers living on the slopes of volcanoes, Californian's living on the San Andreas, or midwesterners in Tornado Alley and downstream from a dam are worrying about radiation versus the nearby and more likely threats?

Paleo, enough.

Radiation is being dosed into our environment from numerous sources, and we get called 'Irrational' for being highly concerned that our OWN PEOPLE are putting this invisible, undetectable, cumulative and LUCRATIVE POISON into the mix in our already Toxin-heavy Biosphere.

I'll walk out onto thin ice and KNOW I'm taking a risk, I'll make fires in my stove, and will rewire my own electric, and can be aware of the stats about how many Maine Homes are burnt every year for just such activities. I will choose when to Run with Scissors, when to forsake my seatbelt or use the Cellphone in Traffic..

BUT I GET NO CHOICE of what these industries are salting the air and water that I breathe with. Look at the epidemiological stats for some truly Bizarre cancers across the globe. Pediatric Cancers and Birth Defects.. This magical 'Background Radiation is natural, and we're just doing a TEENSY bit more than that..' is a LINE. It's their LINE which says "My paycheck and my pride depends on my defending this system with every catchphrase we can muster.. and you well-meaning cavemen just don't understand. "


I will second that Amen, and toss in, as Merrill notes below, that an additional unchosen threat comes from petrochemicals. The stat that sticks in my head is that the average Earthling has 4 lbs of plastic in his/her body, from The World Without Us. So we can't even do a control anymore on what effect those insidious blobules have on us...

"I will choose when to Run with Scissors, when to forsake my seatbelt or use the Cellphone in Traffic.."

But without the industries you would have no Scissors to run with, no seatbelt in your car and no Cellphone to use in Traffic.

The increase in cancer is mostly caused by chemicals in the environment, many of which come from oil via the petrochemical industry. Other causes include smoking, grilling in the backyard, etc.

I think we all apply our own brand of analysis. I see where paleocon is going with this and it is the path stemming from prior evidence. Nothing wrong with this because because without an ontological model that you understand and data to reason with, you have no other choice than to depend on expert opinion. They call this educated scientific enquiry.

Ahem, when you do any of these things you *may* be putting others in danger as well.

Especially your "using a cellphone in traffic" example, there you are definitely putting others in life threatening danger.

So what's your beef again?

None of these are the old and obsolete Richter scale. The 3/2 power was used to make the new scale roughly correspond to it.[Ok, what do you expect from someone who was a seismology grad student once long long ago]

Seismic Moment = Magnitude ^ 3/2 off the moment magnitude scale as a correction

where Seismic Moment gives the energy released

Agreed. But we also have to consider the length of shaking. That correlates pretty well with magnitude, as it is largely a function of the surface area of the fault break.

I am mechanical engineer....and I sitting here for 5 mins I had a few ideas.

We(and the Russians and the Japanese, etc) have many many cold war era vehicles made to survive radiation exposure! Like the M1 Abrams! Why not attach a long water hose to the end of the main bore and drive up close, aim and spray? People, pumps and the water source could be a mile out.....

What about the fire fighting plans we have here in the Southwest US, they could fly over and dump their load, and the exposure to the crew would be 10 seconds, unlike the lumbering helicopters I have seen used up till now.

You are absolutely right- the only thing is that these ideas should be part of the Standard Crisis Plan ..... upfront.
So in case of needing these sort of equipments they could be put into action when needed, that- it shows - was last Saturday and almost a week ago....... In the mean time radiation increases and events needing care have added up.

The ongoing nuke crisis handling is the blueprint describing 'how not to do it'.

Paal, I agree.

A proper "response plan" would have indluded stagging up and getting itmes in place for possible outcomes as soon as this happened.

The sad part is the 5 days of lower radiation/safer conditions was wasted and now we are "here" without what we need.

They are having enough trouble buldozing debris and reconstructing roads and bridges to bring in the pumps, generators and other equipment. The railway (and some roads) go up the coast, which is ocean on one side and mountains on the other. This infrastructure is heavily damaged. The roads from Fukushima city to the coast are probably also not in good repair.

Merrill- you should not focus problems, but solutions.
Those riot-police-water-cannon-trucks coming via road today(or yesterday) could in a different aha-moment be put on a ferry from a nearby safe place, and in doing so reaching the nuke-plant harbor within 12 to 24 hrs. See how easy?

If they have an operational vehicle ferry in a location near enough to both the vehicles and the plant to do so.

Remember, this nuclear disaster is a sideshow to an earthquake and tsunami that have combined to take out almost every docked ship on that side of the island.

The Japanese have a solid reputation for disaster preparedness, if they are doing things that seem suboptimal to us it is probably because that is the best option remaining.

Let it be clear- I feel deeply with the decision-makers and understand that they do all they can, given all the unforeseen stuffs thrown at them.. completely stressed out.
But from my cozy sofa it seems that the upfront planning was not good enough and that they wasted a lot of crucial time after the quake was a fact.
From Day 1 they already knew that "WE NEED MORE WATER!" ... and from that follows "HOW DO WE GET HOLD OF MORE WATER?" ..no?

Here is a solution to your problem r4ndom- I know Japan has some of these - a landing vessel

I know they have them, but where are they right now and in what condition?

Most of the Japanese coast just got washed away, any seagoing assets cannot be assumed to be available and in serviceable shape right now. Any ship is more likely to be upside down 3 km inland than it is to be in the water in a usable state.

I have found myself wondering why they didn't bring in more pumping assets days ago myself, and without any certain knowledge of what is going on there the best answer I have been able to come up with is "they can't bring them in faster".

It is important to remember also that this is just a small portion of the disaster the Japanese faces right now.

To solve the nuke-issues is NOT a small portion, right now it is THE problem, if a worst case take place with that nukeplant it may conterminate large swats of northern Japan for _____ years(you fill in a number), rendering that land uninhabitable.

It is a serious issue, but the entire coast of Japan is a serious issue.

Probably over 10,000 people dead. DEAD, not irradiated, not "can't live there anymore because the soil is radioactive". Crushed, drowned, many of them washed out to sea never to be found.

This is a sideshow, one with far reaching implications, but a sideshow.

Any ship is more likely to be upside down 3 km inland than it is to be in the water in a usable state.

I think thats only true of the NE. Anything on the islands west coast (and probably anything south of Tokyo ought to be fine). A little longer to travel, but not unreasonable.

Mainly true of the NE, where the biggest waves hit, but to a lesser extent true of almost the entire east coast.

If you look at the Tsunami warning diagrams, there were 2m warnings all the way up and down the east coast. Vehicle transport craft are not the most common, so it really is a matter of where they were docked.

I think the military has things even closer to what you want. I remember seeing a bridge building "tank" when we invaded Iraq. The thing had a folding bridge on it. Presumably it could place a bridge under fire.... I could imagine trying to modify something like that for remore firefighting. Add an extra radiation shield on the front, as I doubt the anti-armour stuff is enough to stop Gamma rays, and you should be in business.
But, I suspect modification and deployment takes longer than a day or two. It would be too late, unless the need was planned for.

"nuclear plume" graphic purportedly from the UN, in "arbitrary units".. sent to me by my brother this morning. Interesting visual. Anyone know where it came from?


Not sure, but the New York Times has an interactive equivalent one here:


They say it's a forecast by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

The last stage is identical to the image you linked to.

I find this kind of forecast alarmist for nothing, they did the same for the oil spill in the Gulf. This spatial distribution map must be multiplied by the flux of material at the source, which is unknown, and that will give you an insignificant density of material at the end. Also, what will happen if there are rain storms along the way? most of the radioactivity will end up in the water.

I find this kind of forecast alarmist for nothing

The NYTimes makes this disclaimer on the plume map:

The forecast does not show actual levels of radiation, but it does allow the organization [the U.N.'s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization--SL] to estimate when different monitoring stations, marked with small dots, might be able to detect extremely low levels of radiation. Health and nuclear experts emphasize that any plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States.

Emphases added.

In a related article, the Times notes:

The test ban treaty group routinely does radiation projections in an effort to understand which of its global stations to activate for monitoring the worldwide ban on nuclear arms testing. It has more than 60 stations that sniff the air for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

On Wednesday, the agency declined to release its Japanese forecast, which The New York Times obtained from other sources. The forecast was distributed widely to the agency’s member states.

In other words, it was never intended to serve as any kind of "warning" for people in the U.S.; and the Times was very careful to include information to that effect.

Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed ...that Germany would accelerate the transition to renewable energy as it rethinks its nuclear policy in the light of events in Japan. Merkel, in a speech in parliament today, called for a "measured exit" from nuclear power...

"When the apparently impossible happens in such a highly developed country as Japan ... then the whole situation changes," she said.

Different views from 2 German Sources (think WSJ vs NYT)

From Der Speigel The High Price of Merkel's Nuclear About-Face and Merkel Under Pressure Following Moratorium

and from Deutsche Welle Merkel shuts down seven nuclear reactors and Opinion: German government discovers the risks of nuclear power

"When the apparently impossible happens in such a highly developed country as Japan ... then the whole situation changes," she said.


I know the above is 100% grade A cow manure, taken right out of the pages of the CYA (and probably CIA) manual...

but it infuriates me that these people stand up and lie with a straight face. Worse, no one has the guts to stand up and say "You are a lying sack of, er, used dog food, and you should immediately resign."

The situation was neither impossible, obviously, nor was it "apparently impossible". This 40 year old reactor had several design flaws, in addition to inadequate threat assessment and contingency plans. Even the newest, best designs do not and can not rule out the impossible, only the improbable.

This is the nuclear equivalent of "No one could have seen this coming", trumpeted daily as the financial system collapsed. It's hot button politics at it's very worst.

Cynicism allows this to crap to proliferate, and I am guiltier than most. This results in an open loop system that has no hope of self-correction. Peak Oil is happening now, but we are years past Peak Adults.

IOW, we are so screwed.

To me, this drives home the fact that as things wind down, (how's that for understatement?), the solutions, or mitigations will be local.

The areas that recognize the need for integrity and honesty will fare much better than those that continue to drink the Kool-aid and sit around waiting for the cavalry. To the latter, I say good riddance.

If we declare open season on flim-flam artists and scammers, things should straighten up pretty quick. If we nail a few big fish with lots of publicity, the word will travel fast. The rest will climb under the nearest rock and let us get on with it.

We get the government that we so richly deserve.


Thanks for your time. I feel much better now.

Mark Fiore's latest:


Obama to Address Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

President Barack Obama will address the escalating nuclear crisis in Japan Thursday from the White House.

Mr. Obama... is scheduled to speak at 3:30 p.m.

Let me guess... he's going to announce that his inner circle of advisors suggest that he cut funding for government regulators, increase subsidies to the nuclear industry, and cut taxes for venture capitalists willing to pursue nuclear energy.

As part of a comprehensive response to the disaster in Japan, of course...

LOL at sarcasm! :-D

I wonder if Obama will mention that the EROEI of nuclear is around 5, and thus, not terribly useful.

America and Nuclear: Obama's Forgotten Track Record

When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state's freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.

Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was "the only nuclear legislation that I've passed."

"I just did that last year," he said, to murmurs of approval.

A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators.The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.

Somtimes people don't change.

Yep, the Republicans changed it.


Japan nuclear fears prompt panic-buying around world

As nuclear panic began to spread around the world, supermarkets and pharmacies thousands of miles from Japan ran out of anything and everything rumoured to prevent radiation poisoning.

If people are this skittish about a localized nuclear meltdown then it does't bode well for global PeakOil response.

If people are this skittish about a localized nuclear meltdown then it does't bode well for global PeakOil response.

Well said, and at the risk of getting myself promoted to some sort of DHS watchlist, I can't help but pray this doesn't give terrorists any ideas. What a graphic demonstration that you don't need to kill anyone, or even so much as get someone sick, to spread terror far and wide. Just yell "radiation" in a crowded city.


Terrorists already know that you can fly 4 planes into 3 buildings and cause the United States to waste $2 trillion.

"Terrorists already know that you can fly 4 planes into 3 buildings and cause the United States to waste $2 trillion."

That two trillion was dwarfed by the Banksters Wall Street crash.
Who did more damage to the U.S.? Abu Been Forgotten for allegedly commanding Saudi Arabian nationals to destroy the World Trade Center? Or the business people it represents? Ugly question, no? The spending on war exacerbates decline in this classic scenario where the last generations gamble away the remaining capital of a falling civilization.

QVC, a televised trinket show, offers dolls to the girls and knives to the boys. Big, fancy knives, like the Bowie, suitable for dressing deer.
I would love to sell "The knife that conquered America". The ordering customers receive a box cutter.

Hopefully DHS is also figuring out that spent fuel storage is a much more attractive terrorist target than the reactor itself. No containment or reactor vessel to protect it, can be scattered easily with simple chemical explosive, likely to create self-sustaining zirconium fires if cooling system is disrupted,etc. I guess we should be glad that 9/11 attackers aimed their airplanes at the World Trade Center instead of the Indian Point spent fuel storage.

Even if DHS is not worried, I am. Just as more nuke plant failures are a nearly inevitable consequence of the hubris, dishonesty, and arrogance of the nuclear industry no matter how "inherently safe" their claims, terrorist attempts on spent fuel storage seem similarly inevitable in coming years, especially in and around failed states.

Many years of designing mechanical systems and software has taught me that predicting all failure modes for complex systems in advance is not humanly possible. Despite all the advances in CAD and virtual prototyping, real physical prototypes always give information that cannot be discovered in advance via any process of simulation, analysis, and extrapolation. So several decades of engineering judgement says that the new generations of "inherently safe" reactors will have new generations of failure modes that no one "could have predicted", but will still occur.

Even if people were to die slowly of radiation poisoning, it is not nearly as good theater as people jumping out of 75th floor windows.

To be effective, the terrorist's act must be magnified by modern mass media. The actual horror inflicted by the act itself is unimportant. Before the printing press, there was no Propaganda of the Deed.

You say that now..

It is well known that fears of terrorists with dirty bombs were quite sufficient to justify very substantial expenditures within DHS and elsewhere. Many people seem to have a special fear of unusual ways of dying - this might be why the villain in the James Bond movies can never seem to settle for low tech evil.

It is pretty obvious that the events of recent days already dwarf anything possible with a dirty bomb that a terrorist could conceivably build.


Maybe they should call in Al Quada to get the nuclear fuel out. After all, everyone is so worried that they will just walk into a nuclear station and steal those used fuel rods just lying around. They must have an easy way to do it.


(Snark warning)

Helicopter Overflight Video Showing The Fukushima Nuclear Plant Devastation


Apologies if this has been linked before, I scanned the comments but nothing jumped out at me as being this.

Wow! Thanks for the link.

Radiation Testing Weighed for Japanese Food Imports, U.S. Says

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is monitoring Japanese food for contamination from radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant and weighing steps that “may include increased and targeted product sampling,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement.


Tokyo Passengers Trigger U.S. Airport Detectors, N.Y. Post Says
By Alan Purkiss - Mar 16, 2011 11:08 PM PT

Radiation detectors at Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare airports were triggered when passengers from flights that started in Tokyo passed through customs, the New York Post reported.

One way to get radiation to America from Fukushima.

Fox says powerline connection work is underway.

Who will be the lucky guy who gets to flip the contactors for each pump and control room?

Edit: BBC says the connection work is completed.

Hydraulic breakers. The BEW guys would use a broomhandle.

I keep reading that the onsite team can't tell the state of the pool in Building 4 because they can't see it. I have a hard time believing that in the entire tech crazy country of Japan they have no remote control mini-copters capable of flying through the hole in the building and getting some video. Something like the Dragenflyer X6:


So, either:

1) They are lying and they really do know the state of the pool.
2) The radiation is so high that they can't get close enough for the R/C system on a mini-copter to stay in contact with the operator.
3) The radio signal carrying video from the copter back to the ground would be disrupted by the radiation.
4) ???????

Unless the UAV is hardened against radiation, heat, steam, and smoke it might not keep functioning long enough to transmit any useful information. All the integrated circuits, RAM, and microprocessor, etc., on the UAV might be quite susceptible to radiation and other environmental factors.

Hobby flying in a grassy field is way different from flying into a disaster zone.

Well if you can't fly your RC copter because radiation fries it, doesn't that tell you all you need to know about the amount of water in the pool?

Well, I guess not if the radiation is from reactor 3.

I'd be really surprised if any of these, the R/C gear, the Video Camera or a Video Transmitter would be functional within a few thousand feet of this site now.

I have no idea what that kind of radiation does to the rest of the materials involved..

Gamma can light up pixels on digital cameras. Look at the recently recorded footage of Chernobyl. Pixels turn green in odd flashing ways due to the high radioactivity there.

I guess we will be funding a sarcophagus for Fukushima soon. I can see the US funding aid bill already. Then Halliburton will get the contract, and all will be right.

Charged radiation easily destroys MOSFETs, that compose nearly all of the modern electronics.

Those old cameras were way more resistent. A modern one would be gone in little time, if the circuitry processing the data is hardened enough to last for "little time".

Halliburton and cement hasn't worked out all that well lately.....

"I keep reading that the on-site team can't tell the state of the pool in Building 4 because they can't see it. I have a hard time believing that..."

Actually, perhaps the answer is much simpler. If you look at 1:13 (one minute and thirteen seconds into this film), you will see what I think is a shot down into the top of reactor #4. There is nothing to see. It looks like piles of dirt:

Same thing in this image:

Calcined concrete from the fire?
Tsunami debris?
Nothing to see.

Perhaps there is some similar simple reason emergency generators were not deployed...

Well, Tepco watched the same video and saw a white pixel which they feel may be the surface of the pool:

The insane thing is that is what passes for data gathering? Don't we have telescopes? More helicopters? HD cameras? image stabilization? etc.

There has to at least be a leak. Why did reactor 4 explode & burn at all if there wasn't a problem with the pool? Buildings don't explode at random.

Why do I think they are spinning so hard they've gotten dizzy!

"they feel may be the surface of the pool"

It could be the pool, or it could be a leprachaun. Most likely it is a chunk of wall. That said it is nearly impossible to tell what anything is from the video/pictures.

Isn't the US now flying drones over it to get a better look?

Adaptive Optics

Hyperspectral Imaging

Raman Scattering Probes

See it through turbulence.
See it through veils of smoke and fog and know both temperatures and compositions.
Know what elements the surfaces are made of.

Yes, there could be all kinds of data available.

This from NYT headline story:

Aircraft normally used to monitor North Korea’s nuclear weapons activities — a Global Hawk drone and U-2 spy planes — were flying missions over the reactor, trying to help the Japanese government map out its response to last week’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the tsunami that followed and now the nuclear disaster.

Advice to UK nationals has been updated again.


As an additional precautionary measure, British nationals are advised to remain outside an 80km radius of the Fukushima nuclear facility. This is in line with the advice issued by the US Government to its citizens.

Any British nationals currently within 80km of the facility are advised to leave the area or take shelter indoors

Australia is on the same page

Travel warning upgraded as Japan battles crisis

Travel advice for Australians in Japan has been dramatically upgraded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, with people now being told not to travel to Tokyo, its surrounding areas or northern Honshu.

Australians who want to leave Japan but cannot afford tickets are being offered emergency loans and the department is recommending Australians in the country travel at least as far as southern Japan.

and they may need the 'loans'. From the bean counters at Quantas and Jetstar

Thousands of Australians have been stranded in Tokyo because airlines are refusing to discount last-minute flights.

As of last night there were hundreds of spare seats on Qantas and Jetstar flights leaving Narita Airport in the next three days.

But the cheapest one-way fare was $938, ranging up to $9504. Many expats living in Tokyo, especially low-paid workers and students, rely on discounted flights which must be booked weeks in advance. Those tickets can cost under $500.

Qantas said it would not offer discounts or preferable treatment for Australian citizens.

...ahh, on second thought, about those 'loans'

Aussies told to evacuate Japan - at their own cost

The federal government has urged Australians to consider leaving Japan in the wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami that threatens to unleash a nuclear disaster in the country.

But Australians who heed the advice will have to organise their own flights on commercial airlines from Tokyo or Osaka, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has not organised special evacuation flights for nearly 4000 Australians still in Japan.


(Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) will suspended production at its Shreveport Assembly plant in Louisiana next week because of a parts shortage resulting from the crisis in Japan, the company said on Thursday.

Also Electronics


Most of country’s largest electronic component producers operate factories far south of the quake’s epicentre. However iSuppli said component manufacturers are experiencing problems shipping parts, receiving raw materials and getting workers to their facilities

U.S. Flights Over Plant Gather Crucial Data

The United States, with Japanese permission, began to put intelligence-collection aircraft over the site, in hopes of gaining a view for Washington as well as its allies in Tokyo that did not rely on the announcements of officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company. Officials say they suspect that company has consistently underestimated the risk and moved too slowing to contain the damage.

"Another effort by the Japanese, to hook electric power back up to the plant, only began on Thursday and was likely to take several days to complete — and even then it was unclear how the cooling systems, in reactor buildings battered by the tsunami and then torn apart by hydrogen explosions, would work, if at all."

Those pumps are not going to get electric for "several days" if there are any pumps to operate there.

Has anyone performed a calculation of how long the fuel rods (I'm thinking reactor 4) can go uncooled before...well before things get substantially worse than they already are?

can go uncooled before...well before things get substantially worse than they already are?

A lot shorter than several days! More like, the day before yesterday!

NHK first live video of the day shows steam and/or smoke rising from reactor buildings 2, 3 and 4.

Steam may in fact be a good sign - that they are getting some water up there to cool the things down a bit. NHK is saying:

The figures follow an hour-long operation by police and Self-Defense Forces to inject water from pump trucks into the No. 3 reactor building. It's possible the level of pool water used for cooling nuclear fuel was reduced.

At 11 PM the radiation level dropped again to 289 microsieverts per hour.

The company says it saw steam billowing from the building after the water injection, which suggests the operation had some success.

What If We Look At It This Way?

Remember Now, the 'E' in Ebola stands for energy

..."I understand why people would be concerned about the importation and use of a potentially problematic virus into their communities," said Lyes. "But those concerns are completely unfounded. The engineering behind these new plants is state-of-the-art. Redundant safety features have been built atop redundancies through the system The chances of a leak from one of these plants is so close to zero it might as well be zero."

The Ebola virus, when spread in a populated area, causes death within days from a combination of diarrhea coupled with uncontrollable internal and external bleeding. Like radiation, the Ebola virus spreads easily through the air and person to person, is airborne, odorless and colorless.

Nevertheless the utility and it's contractor, General Electric, remain convinced ViroEnergy plants are "completely safe."

Nukes are fine if you keep the genie in the bottle. But that genie is gonna pop out and do a lot of economic damage over say a wide geographic area.

Even a oil refinery explosion is limited in scope.

Therein lies the rub.

Of Damage and Damage Control

After more than six decades of paying attention I've narrowed down life's central struggle to that between the forces of stupid self-interest and enlightened self-interest.

and on a similar bent

No Word for Meltdown: The Return of Nukespeak

Try this-

Core melt accident
An event or sequence of events that result in the melting of part of the fuel in the reactor core.

I am Creole and Hispanic. HHS has real isssues with those.

Animated Dispersal of Radioactive Iodine and Cesium from Japan (German)

Partial translation Via Babelfish~~~~
"To the color scaling it is to be said that the red scale marks areas, which were burdening since beginning of the accident with an effective dose of maximally 100 milli Sievert per hour (according to information of the IAEO). The violet scale indicates from there maximally 100 nano- Sievert per hour. This value is, even over one year summed up, lower than the natural load, each humans are exposed to which."

Paste the URL into the translator here for an approximate translation from German into English or French:

Helpful reference information from MIT about radiation, and what constitutes a potentially harmful dose:

"Introduction to Radiation Health Effects and Radiation Status at Fukushima"