Drumbeat: March 23, 2011

A global energy war looms

As you can see, demand in China, India and other emerging markets soars, but there is also quite considerable growth from advanced economies too. The big picture is that with an additional one billion cars on the road, demand for oil would grow 110pc to more than 190 million barrels per day. Total demand for energy would rise by a similar order of magnitude, doubling the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to more than three and a half times the amount climate change scientists think would keep temperatures at safe levels.

It scarcely needs saying that regardless of the environmental consequences, energy industries would struggle to cope, and more likely would find it impossible. We may or may not already be perilously close to peak oil – or maximum productive capacity – but nobody believes the industry could produce double what it does at the moment, however clever it becomes in tapping previously uncommercial or inaccessible reserves.

Oil near $105 as traders eye Middle East upheaval

SINGAPORE – Oil prices hung near $105 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as violent uprisings in the Middle East kept traders nervous about possible crude supply disruptions.

Spiraling gas prices causing “economic emergency,” says Hinchey

KINGSTON, NY – Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-Hurley) wants to put a stop to price gougers and financial speculators who he said are the culprits in the drastically increasing prices of gas in recent weeks.

He is calling on immediate action to halt the problem and relieve those who are struggling with already meager budgets.

Middle East unrest will likely drive nitrogen fertilizer costs higher

Middle East unrest could drive nitrogen fertilizer costs up to 2008 levels, according to a Texas AgriLife Research expert. Warm-season grasses used for livestock production in much of Texas and the South are dependent upon large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer.

Airlines, cabs, shuttles raise prices

Travelers to Europe this year are discovering unwelcome ride-alongs: new and heftier surcharges for flights and cruises. They may even pay more to get to their U.S. gateway airport. Blame the rising price of oil, driven by widening world demand and Mideast turmoil, for much of this pain.

Gasoline Shipping Profit Seen Rising 24% After Earthquake

Profit from shipping gasoline to the U.S. from Europe in the second quarter will rise 24 percent as disruptions to Japanese imports divert cargoes across the Atlantic, increasing demand for vessels.

Oil, Grains Will Be Top Commodity Gainers in 2011, Barclays Capital Says

Crude oil and grains will be the top commodity performers this year as investors bet on supply disruptions, a Barclays Capital survey showed.

Twenty-eight percent of more than 100 investors polled this month said oil will gain the most this year, followed by corn and wheat, Barclays Capital said. Gold, which rose 30 percent last year, may be “losing its shine” and was ranked the worst performer for 2011 after natural gas, the bank said.

Russia set to profit from Libya, Japan crises

Only a year ago, Russia's dominance as a global energy supplier was threatened by low gas prices and a reputation as an unreliable trade partner. But with the world now shaken by Japan's natural disasters and uprisings across the Middle East, the country is back at the heart of the market -- and cashing in.

Russia to double oil exports to Japan after quake

A senior Cabinet official says Russia will double its oil exports to Japan to 18 million tons this year to help its neighbor through the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Poland breaks ground on gas terminal to lessen dependence on Russia

Warsaw - Poland broke ground Wednesday on a gas terminal on the Baltic Sea aimed at diversifying energy sources and lessening the country's reliance on Russian gas.

Putin visits Serbia for talks on natural gas pipeline to transport gas from Russia to Europe

BELGRADE, Serbia — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has arrived in Serbia for talks focusing on economic issues and energy — including construction of the South Stream pipeline to transport Russian natural gas to Europe.

How Oil Wealth Undercuts Democracy in Libya

Even as the United States and its allies press their military campaign against forces loyal to the longtime dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, economic indicators suggest that helping Libyan rebels will neither reduce oppression nor result in democracy for Libya.

Libya’s oil reserves are among the largest and most valuable in the world, and that alone is a big obstacle to democracy. Leaders of oil-rich countries almost always enjoy rich economic rewards, and there’s an endless supply of factions that would, no doubt, like to have those rewards for themselves.

Allies Prepare to Attack Qaddafi's Ground Forces, Debate Command Structure

The U.S. and its allies are preparing to direct more attacks against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s ground forces, as the coalition tries to resolve disputes over who will take over command.

Libyan forces intensify shelling of rebels in east

AJDABIYA, Libya – Moammar Gadhafi's forces intensified the shelling of rebel positions outside a strategic eastern city Wednesday as they fought to prevent the opposition from taking advantage of the 5-day-old international air campaign to regroup in the east.

Air strikes silence Gaddafi guns at besieged city

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Western warplanes silenced Muammar Gaddafi's artillery and tanks besieging rebel-held Misrata in western Libya on Wednesday after a U.S. admiral warned his armor was the next target.

Breathing defiance, Gaddafi earlier said Western powers who carried out a fourth night of air strikes on Libya to protect civilians under a U.N. mandate were "a bunch of fascists who will end up in the dustbin of history."

Germany calls for oil, gas embargo against Libya

Germany is calling for the European Union to impose a full oil and gas embargo this week on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Tuesday that no one knows how long fighting in Libya will last and it is important to make sure Gadhafi can't get his hands on fresh money.

Libya strikes complicate Pentagon budget strain

The United States is now fighting in three conflicts -- Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya -- while struggling under a huge budget deficit and national debt. The Pentagon also has plans to cut $78 billion in defense spending over five years.

6 dead in new clashes in southern Syria city

DARAA, Syria – New violence in a restive southern Syrian city killed as many as six people early Wednesday, making it the deadliest single day since anti-government protests inspired by uprisings across the Arab world reached this country last week, an activist said.

BP raising game on risk

BP is taking steps to proactively manage and minimize risk across its operations in response to the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, chief executive Bob Dudley said in the UK supermajor’s annual Sustainability Report.

ConocoPhillips Plans To Sell Additional $5 Billion To $10 Billion Of Assets

ConocoPhillips (COP) unveiled plans to sell an additional $5 billion to $10 billion in non-core assets over the next two years as the oil producer and refiner continues efforts to improve its balance sheet.

Blindsided by Ferocity Unleashed by a Fault: "Nobody expected magnitude 9"

On a map of Japan that shows seismic hazards, the area around the prefecture of Fukushima is colored in green, signifying a fairly low risk, and yellow, denoting a fairly high one.

But since Japan sits on the collision of several tectonic plates, almost all of the country lies in an earthquake-risk zone. Most scientists expected the next whopper to strike the higher-risk areas southwest of Fukushima, which are marked in orange and red.

“Compared to the rest of Japan, it looks pretty safe,” said Christopher H. Scholz, a seismologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, referring to the area hit worst by the quake on March 11. “If you were going to site a nuclear reactor, you would base it on a map like this.”

Japan's Chubu Elec delays nuclear reactor construction

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Chubu Electric Power Co said it will delay building a sixth nuclear reactor at its Hamaoka plant 200 km (125 miles) southwest of Tokyo by one year, until 2016, as it reviews safety and power supply plans after this month's quake and tsunami in northeast Japan.

Japan earthquake: Crisis may force up cost of UK nuclear

The chief executive of RWE Npower has warned that it could be forced to delay plans to build UK plants, especially if any major safety changes prompted by Japan's atomic disaster push up the cost of reactors.

Fuel storage and safety issues vexed Japan plant

TOKYO // When the massive tsunami smacked into Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear power plant was stacked high with more uranium than it was originally designed to hold and had repeatedly missed mandatory safety checks over the past decade.

The Fukushima plant that has spun into partial meltdown and spewed out plumes of radiation had become a growing depot for spent fuel in a way the American engineers who designed the reactors 50 years earlier had never envisioned, according to company documents and outside experts.

Spent nuclear fuel throughout US stored by state

Tons of highly-radioactive spent fuel are being stored at U.S. nuclear reactor sites. The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state data that nuclear power plants voluntarily report annually to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry and lobbying group. The NEI would not make available the amount of spent fuel at individual power plants. Here is a breakdown, by tons, in spent fuel pools, in dry cask storage and total for individual states.

Japan aluminium outlook clouded by power shortages

(Reuters) - Japan's aluminium industry may see only relatively modest production disruptions from power outages in eastern Japan after this month's devastating earthquake, since much of its capacity is in the undamaged west, but demand could shrink from key customers in harder-hit sectors such as autos.

Radiation, Once Free, Can Follow Tricky Path

Experts hesitate to predict where the radiation will go. Once radioactive elements that can harm health are released into the outdoors, their travel patterns are as mercurial as the weather and as complicated as the food chains and biochemical pathways along which they move.

Concern in Tokyo over radiation in tap water

TOKYO – A spike in radiation levels in Tokyo tap water spurred new fears about food safety Wednesday as rising black smoke forced another evacuation of workers trying to stabilize Japan's radiation-leaking nuclear plant.

Radiation has seeped into vegetables, raw milk, the water supply and seawater since a magnitude-9 quake and killer tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant nearly two weeks ago. Broccoli was added to a list of tainted vegetables, and U.S. officials announced a block on Japanese dairy and other produce from the region.

Do not phase out nuclear power — yet

The ongoing Japanese nuclear crisis underscores yet again the risks inherent in this essential energy source. But it should not divert nations from using or pursuing nuclear power to generate electricity, given the threat from climate change, the health hazards of fossil fuels, and the undeveloped state of renewable energy. Instead, the events at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant should turn more attention to ensuring that nuclear power plants meet the highest standards of safety and protection against natural disasters.

Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Causes Run on Radiation Detectors

SAN FRANCISCO — Since Japan’s nuclear crisis started, Tim Flanegin’s phone has barely stopped ringing with orders for Geiger counters, the radiation detectors, to the point that he has no more in stock.

Atomic Cleanup Cost Goes to Japan's Taxpayers, May Spur Liability Shift

Japan’s taxpayer, not the nuclear industry, will cover most of the cleanup cost from the worst accident since Chernobyl, a financial rescue that may spur moves by other nations to make companies assume more liability.

Nuclear Power Loses Support in New Poll

What had been growing acceptance of nuclear power in the United States has eroded sharply in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan, with support for building nuclear power plants dropping slightly lower than it was immediately after the accident at the Three Mile Island plant in 1979, according to a CBS News poll released on Tuesday evening.

Shell Says Japan Nuclear Accident to Support Long-Term Global Gas Demand

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Europe’s largest oil company, said Japan’s nuclear accident will support world natural gas demand in the longer term.

Nuclear Industry in Russia Sells Safety, Taught by Chernobyl

Opportunistic or not, in recent years the Russian nuclear industry has profited handsomely by selling reactors abroad, mostly to developing countries. That includes China and India — whose insatiable energy appetites are keeping them wedded to nuclear power, despite their vows to proceed even more cautiously in light of Japan’s disaster.

And though Fukushima Daiichi provides a new opportunity to stress the message, Rosatom has long been marketing its reactors as safe — not despite Chernobyl, but because of it.

China to Build Nuclear Plant Using Fourth-Generation Technology in April

China will start building a nuclear power plant next month using fourth-generation technology that may be less susceptible to meltdown than Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

Dangers of Leaving No Resident Behind

When the Three Mile Island nuclear generating station along the Susquehanna River seemed on the verge of a full meltdown in March 1979, Gov. Richard L. Thornburgh of Pennsylvania asked a trusted aide to make sure that the evacuation plans for the surrounding counties would work.

The aide came back ashen faced. Dauphin County, on the eastern shore of the river, planned to send its populace west to safety over the Harvey Taylor Bridge.

“All well and good,” Mr. Thornburgh said in a recent speech, “except for the fact that Cumberland County on the west shore of the river had adopted an evacuation plan that would funnel all exiting traffic eastbound over — you guessed it — the same Harvey Taylor Bridge.”

Nearly 250,000 people would have been sent in opposite directions over the same narrow bridge.

Oil Spill in South Atlantic Threatens Endangered Penguins

A major spill of heavy crude oil from a wrecked freighter has coated an estimated 20,000 endangered penguins on a remote South Atlantic island chain, the local authorities and environmental groups said Tuesday.

Natural Gas and Clean Water

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a House subcommittee recently that a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing could be the “Achilles’ heel” that kills the natural gas industry. Like many others, Mr. Salazar sees natural gas, which America has in great abundance, as cleaner and more climate-friendly than coal or oil and a useful transition to alternative fuels. But he also fears, as we do, that public support for drilling will diminish unless the industry and its state and federal regulators do a better job of making sure the gas does no harm to drinking water.

Natural Gas Now Viewed as Safer Bet

Natural gas may be having its day, as its rival energy sources come under a cloud.

The serious problems at the nuclear power plant in Japan have raised new doubts about the safety of nuclear energy. New exploration has yet to resume in the Gulf of Mexico after last year’s blowout of a BP oil well. And coal plants have been under a shadow because of their contribution to global warming.

Meanwhile, natural gas has overcome two of its biggest hurdles — volatile prices and questionable supplies. In large part because of new discoveries in the United States and abroad that have significantly increased known reserves, natural gas prices have been relatively low in the last two years.

Zones set up to boost the remoter regions

Saudi Arabia hopes to bring economic development to remote regions that have been left out of the kingdom's petroleum-fuelled growth with newly exploited mineral resources.

Interesting Prospects for Lithium Batteries

In an article published almost three years ago, I argued that three factors may determine the adoption of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, namely: oil prices, technological development, and resistance to change.

Idle Land Finds a Purpose as Farms for Solar Power

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Since the economic downturn, residents and businesses have been looking for ways to use real estate that may no longer appeal to mall developers or home builders. One option is to build solar energy farms, where thousands of solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity.

Regulatory flux blamed for canceled wind farm

Supporters of renewable energy say a We Energies wind farm now under construction might be the last big wind project built in the state in the near future after a Chicago developer canceled a big project near Green Bay.

Kenya biofuel project opposed

NAIROBI (AFP) – Environmental goups Wednesday protested an expansive project to grow jatropha in Kenya for biofuels, arguing that such production would emit more carbon than fossil fuels.

New studies raise doubts about greenness of biomass

Burning tree trimmings, scrap lumber and other plant material to generate electricity has enjoyed wide political support at least in part because of the belief that it doesn't contribute excess greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. But new studies have some people questioning the merits of such biomass power.

Is nature trying to tell us something?

Was it not just last summer that BP’s engineers were working desperately around the clock to find a way to plug a three month leak from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that spilled 205 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico? Now, engineers and plant operators are braving potentially lethal radiation to avert a catastrophe in the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan.

There's No Such Thing as Ethical Oil (or Nuclear Power)

After the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and now the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima reactors in Japan, it should be clear that oil and nuclear power are not benign forces in our world. Both are toxic, dirty, and insecure forms of energy. It is thus astonishing that the Canadian energy industry proposes combining the two.

The Tipping Point

The conclusion I drew from our conversation was that the reason his message - and indeed the whole message of the peak oil/conservation set - was failing to resonate was because it had failed to articulate a benefit to the individual that was as compelling and comfortable as that of the consumption machine.

Then I started to get really depressed. Because really, how would any kind of message about reducing, living within our means, and consuming less gain any kind of traction without appealing to one's sense of the greater good - a sense fewer and fewer people seem to have?

'For us to survive and thrive in a new century, we must peaceably dismantle the United States of Empire'

Here's a question I hear asked more and more by friends and neighbors in the Green Mountains of Vermont: How might we in Vermont create a more sustainable world for ourselves, and for our children, and for our children's children, in a 21st century Age of Limits?

Are we ready for power rationing?

As Julia Gillard works on her carbon tax and New Zealand operates its own Emissions Trading Scheme, we had better be prepared for a Brave New World of power cuts that renewable energy promises to bring.

Judge Halts California Emissions Plan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) — California did not adequately consider alternatives to its plan to create a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions, a judge ruled on Monday, a setback for the most aggressive effort by a state to combat climate change.

Hundreds rally against Australian carbon tax

CANBERRA, Australia—More than 1,000 Australians protested government plans to tax industrial polluters for the carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere on Wednesday in a grass-roots challenge to the country's bid to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Most of the protesters outside Parliament House were over 60 years old and many said they had never before taken part in a public demonstration. They argue the tax will add to their household bills and damage the economy.

Carbon tax will benefit rural Australia: Sustainable Energy Assoc

While rallies have been held around Australia against the carbon tax, about 400 people turned up a climate change rally in Perth to support it.

Carbon price a 'test of Australia's democracy'

The Federal Government's climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, says putting a price on carbon will be a "test of Australia's democracy".

Professor Garnaut has released the seventh of eight updates to his 2008 report on climate change, this time focusing on technology.

Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster...


Latest emissions plume forecasts http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/weather/news/fukushima?LANG=en&VAR=zamg

Latest plant image

6pm Japan time today

Infants now banned from drinking tap-water in Tokyo 150 miles away. Entire incident probably close to Chernobyl now if it hasn't already passed it in total radioactive emissions. Total emissions estimate for first 4 days of incident (12-15th March) at


In sum, this could amount to about 50% of the Chernobyl source term of Cesium-137 (first 4 days only).

And still it goes on.

"Infants now banned from drinking tap-water in Tokyo 150 miles away."

I would think that this would have lead to an immediate mass exodus out of Tokyo. Any family with small children would certainly not want to stick around if they had any other options. I understand that most foreigners have already left. Have all the Japanese who have the resources to do so already left?

So...if your child is seven years old, "don't worry, it should be fine. More information to come."?

If the radioactivity level in Tokyo did rise further what would the Japanese government do?

It can't ship in enough water for 30M people. It can't ship 30M people out. Telling people that their water is contaminated would cause panic on an apocalyptic scale.

Whatever the real level of contamination, the government will not say more until people start falling ill in the street.

Toward the end of this video, a Japanese expert on radiation exposure recommends that people who can should leave not just Tokyo but Japan:


Video is 6 days old

Yes, thanks. I should have mentioned that. The point is, if she thought the situations was that dire then, one has to wonder what she thinks now.

The other caveat here, though, is that she seems to be addressing an international. In this crisis, the Japanese may thinks it is best for non-Japanese to leave for all sorts of reasons.

Who knows.

I think she was clearly fearing the worst case scenario. It could still happen but TEPCO and the Japanese government are now committed to keeping multiple balls in the air and they can't afford to drop even one. It's bad enough as it is but it could still conceivably reach catastrophic proportions. I feel very sorry for the Japanese people right now.

compare that to this. which is making the rounds in the science blog sphere saying the radiation from the plant is so low, you get more from staying in a brick house.


Thats probably true. However that is direct radiation. Clearly direct radiation (betas, and gammas) from outside the body isn't a real problem outside of the environs of the plant. The real issue, is will you absorb Iodine and Cesium, which irradiates you from inside? It would be nice to get some expert opinion on that aspect.

Perhaps already linked to, but from the interview with Hirose Takashi:


"They compare it to a CT scan, which is over in an instant; that has nothing to do with it. The reason radioactivity can be measured is that radioactive material is escaping. What is dangerous is when that material enters your body and irradiates it from inside. These industry-mouthpiece scholars come on TV and what to they say? They say as you move away the radiation is reduced in inverse ratio to the square of the distance. I want to say the reverse. Internal irradiation happens when radioactive material is ingested into the body. What happens? Say there is a nuclear particle one meter away from you. You breathe it in, it sticks inside your body; the distance between you and it is now at the micron level. One meter is 1000 millimeters, one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. That’s a thousand times a thousand: a thousand squared. That’s the real meaning of “inverse ratio of the square of the distance.” Radiation exposure is increased by a factor of a trillion. Inhaling even the tiniest particle, that’s the danger."


TEPCO, the Japanese Government the media and apologists are just talking about the radiation received if you are near the plant or air containing the radioactive particles. Once you inhale the particles floating in the air, the hazard increases exponentially. It's easy to excuse the hazard of radioactive particles in the air or on your food as long as you don't mention that you are also inhaling them. They are sitting directly on your lung tissue at that point, and likely won't be dislodged.

Also very much a factor re. the vast poisoning of the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.,
with 'depleted' uranium exploded into nano sized particles in our efforts to bring democracy and "save civilian lives" (H. Clinton)

'depleted' uranium exploded into nano sized particles

But it is 'depleted'. The material - radioactive or not - is a heavy metal and has all the mutagenic + carcinogenic features that come with being a heavy metal.

Make it the size of particle that can float on the air and it gets to have the "unexplored wierdness" associated with nano-sized particles.
(Some small configurations of Carbon are toxic to fish and were shown to travel up the neurons from the nose to the brain in 1940's vintage experiments with monkeys)

I think thats a bit too strong. If it is say a dust particle, with lots of radioactive isotopes stuck on it, which won't budge your description might make sense. But Cesium and Iodine are soluble, they will be distributed throughout much of the body. So the effect isn't a trillion times stronger. But it is significant, unless your bodies time to excrete it is much shorter than the half life. This isn't true for Iodine (I read it stays in the body about a hundred days), but it is probably true for Cesium (half life 30 years).
The basic point is correct though. It is avoiding injestion, rather than direct radiation that is important.

Tokyo is a city of millions. Where would they all go? Evacuation is probably not possible.

What I wonder is how long before Japan has to declare martial law and start to triage the situation?


Detroit? Lots of cheap houses for rent. :)

Perhaps then good cars could be made in Detroit?

What about those empty proto-cities in China?

American workers make good Japanese cars in Marysville, Ohio (etc etc etc), so I see no reason why Japanese workers couldn't make good American cars in Detroit. American workers could do it too.

In a related note:

Toyota Motor Corp. may suspend more operations at its production bases in North America as the supply of parts from Japan has been disrupted... company officials said Wednesday.

The automaker has informed employees at all its 14 factories in North America of the possible suspension expansion...

Detroit? Lots of cheap houses for rent. :)

Yeah, but what good is that if you have to stay home to guard your stuff all the time?

No thief is going to take on half a million Japanese to rob a house. ;)
The numbers would be staggering!

Incorrect: Lots of cheap, stripped houses with large tax and water bills attached to buy. Renting isn't really cheap, all considered.

Silly me. I thought the evacuation would go from families with small babies, to pregnant women and children, on up from there. But of course the actual evacuation is happening from the top of the power structure down:


"The influx of newcomers has been noticeable in central Osaka in recent days. Ken Shimabuku, who works for a large executive search firm in Osaka, said he had been surprised Tuesday by the number of people carrying suitcases through the streets. “It was so obvious that people were going away,” he said. “Not just foreigners, the ones coming to Osaka, but the Japanese"


Tokyo responds to announcement of radioactive water

If the numbers I saw were correct, it is 2x the mandated limit. That means if your baby drincks the water for one day he/she gets as much (Iondine-137?) as he/she would with two days of drinking "legal" water. If that is the case, its only a real issue if the situation continues for weeks -or gets worse. But now I fear a degree of general panic will set in. Did anyone try to restrict buying bottle water to those witn infants, I fear it is probably very hard to find. Does anyone know of Iodine filiering options? What about Cesium?

Njae, you are partly wrong.
The limit is set and "normal" tap water is not necessarily near that limit. But can at locations be ofcourse.

The problem now is not YET so big, as only a few samples have had 2x the limit. So a few locations are over the limit.
HOWEVER, would this problem increase the following days and a week, THEN it is worsening, which IS a problem.
It means that you have source of fallout that is increasing slowly over time - bad scenario.

There was some comments from authorities "please do not horde(?) bottle water, buy only what you need".

You can only with difficulty (check for instance MilliQ lab water machines out) get the Iodine concentrations out, nothing you do in a home cheaply, at these low concentrations. You could actually stock up on tap water NOW, say a bath tube, and drink it in a week!

Depends where the safe limit is set. Two days ago I read that the limit set in Japan for not drinking tap water is well below the British (European?) limit - so here there would have been no warnings.

Obviously there are no 'safe' levels for radioactivity, but where the unsafe limits are set seems to be very variable.

Not obvious.

Radioactivity is a natural part of our environment. There must be a level below which our natural coping systems are able to compensate completely, and the lack of notable cancer pockets around areas where the natural background radiation is higher is evidence that this is indeed the case (as well as the fact that several nutrients that we require to live are not naturally available in uncontaminated form).

Of course, that isn't nearly so scary as saying there is no safe level.


There must be a level below which our natural coping systems are able to compensate completely

I don't see why it has to be that way. I do not think it would be so difficult to present one or other argument in principle why it should not necessary be so.

Because potassium is unavailable in nature without radiactive isotopes included and we need potassium to live.

Therefore we must be able to cope with some level of radioactive material in our systems.

Of course, one could try to make do without K, but doing so would do more damage than the legal maximum radiation dose for over-45 radiation workers.

From a biological point of view, it is quite possible that there is NO "safe" level of radioactivity. Your logic is faulty. The fact that we require K is not proof that we can "cope" with radioactive materials. It just means we can "cope" with the damage long enough to have kids. Radiation effects are dose-dependent and cumulative, and evolution doesn't particularly care if you die after you've reproduced and raised your young.

For all we know, dying from "natural causes" might be at least partly from accumulated radiation damage.

Assertion from ignorance is not the strongest argument out there, if "we don't know how much damage it does" is the best you can do then you need to do more research.

Our cells contain mechanisms specifically for repairing damaged DNA, which can result from radiation or (more commonly) chemical action.

Frankly, even the language typically used is too imprecise to be useful. Now, I know that in context most people objecting to "radiation" *mean* "penetrating ionizing radiation", though most of them aren't even all that clear on the definition themselves (hence the hysteria over "irradiated beef"). The term "penetrating ionizing radiation" means radiation capable of breaking chemical bonds directly at arbitrary points in an organism by bypassing the normal defenses of that organism. This can create unwanted chemicals behind the normal defenses for them and directly damage cellular structures (like the DNA damage most people fret about when concerned with radiation damage).

Now all this sounds bad, but it happens even in the total absence of penetrating ionizing radiation because chemicals that our bodies use (such as oxygen) are also destructive agents when they end up where they are not wanted. This happens normally and our bodies repair the damage.

So, an unsafe dose of radiation can be defined as a radiation dose that causes damage sufficient to stress the normal cellular repair mechanisms in a manner detectably in excess of events that occur in the absence of any radiation. This is apparently ~100mSv for a detectable rise in rates of cancer after exposure. It then stands to reason that at some level less than 100mSv the actual damage done by radiation literally gets lost in the noise of the dynamic chemical machine that you are living in.

In other words: yes, there is a safe dose even of penetrating ionizing radiation.

Other types of radiation (visible light, for one) are actually used by our bodies for constructive purposes, like the production of vitamin D.

If you dispute the validity of my argument, you'll have to do better than "but we don't know for sure", or I will be forced to scoff (privately, of course).

Oh come on. I was not making an assertion from ignorance. I was saying that we KNOW that the effects of ionizing radiation are cumulative, and that the body can only "repair the damage" at a certain rate. None of it is good for you.

Yes, there is chemical damage from our metabolism. So what? Yes, it is noisy data.

Your whole mode of "argument" is absurd, especially conflating visible light with ionizing radiation. And of course, UV light is quite damaging, causes skin cancers, etc.

The body can repair a certain amount of damage, for a certain amount of time. I dispute the validity of your argument, because of what we DO know about the cumulative effects of ionizing radiation damage.

You seem to have very little grasp of this. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and scoff.

Assertion from ignorance is not the strongest argument out there

Can you show studies to actual tests with human beings, repeatable and using consistent genetics and living conditions over generations which show this safe dose even of penetrating ionizing radiation you mention?

(The gold standard is a using the same genetic base over man generations with a control and non control group with only 1 variable change you are testing for is it not?)

This happens normally and our bodies repair the damage.

And yet there are Cancer ward filled with people

So, an unsafe dose of radiation can be defined as a radiation dose that causes damage sufficient to stress the normal cellular repair mechanisms in a manner detectably in excess of events that occur in the absence of any radiation.

Sounds like you are all set for that multi-generation testing I mentioned up above. Get the grant proposal written and start crack'n!

If you dispute the validity of my argument

Your argument is flawed. The amount of radiation the subjects now get is baseline_in_the_environment + the_new_radiation_level and will include sources that are not found in the same levels in the big bad real world.

The short term Radioactive Iodine is an example of "not found in any real volume" - unless you wish to argue the natural sources and the 8 day 1/2 life.

Show the evidence that there is harm from radiation doses below the legal limit.

If you have such evidence and publicize it, the people who decide what those levels are would be forced to lower the limits further.

Otherwise you are just displaying your ignorance for everyone to see, and I don't think you want to do that too much.

Although I'm open to the possibility of minimal effects at low dose, rather than the linear exposure/damage model, I don't think sgage's logic is faulty. A few extra cancer deaths are not a big deal as far as nature, and natural selection is involved. So evolution is no guarantee that we are protected against low level environmental hazards. How to interpolate health effects to low dosage is unfortunately controversial. So people end up choosing the interpretaion which matches their agenda, be it pro or anti-nuke.

I completely agree with you there is absolutely no reason to assume that evolution has made us immune to a certain level of exposure.

Furthermore it seems to be very common to make a faulty logic at this point (even if you assume a treshhold under which there is no effect). Say that the actual dosage due to "accident", i.e. causes other than more or less natural, is below this threshold (which tend to be assumed). It would then still not be a guarantee against effects because this exposure should then be added to the (natural) back-ground exposure. The effect of the "accident" would then theoretically be the derivate of the dos response function times the dose. So long as the exposure occuring from the accident plus exposure from other sources is not below the threshold level it does not matter if the pure "accident exposure" is below an assumed threshold level.

Quite a lot is known about the biological effects of radiation because cancer is routinely treated by irradiating the patient with various photon and particle beams. While the primary effect is to kill cancer cells, the tumor is typically irradiated by beams that pass through tissues surrounding it. This irradiation of healthy tissue at lower doses is usually benign, but in some cases secondary cancers develop. Statistical data on the frequency of secondary cancers as a function of the radiation dose given to healthy tissues is approximately consistent with the rule of thumb that 1 Sievert results in a 5% chance of a potentially fatal cancer over a fairly wide range of doses.

The linear extrapolation of this would say that if 1000 people were exposed to 100 mSievert each, then the total number of cancers would be 0.1 * 0.05 * 1000 = 5 cancers. In the United States, the expected number of cancers from other causes would be 200. So the individual's chances of getting cancer go from 200/1000 to 205/1000 or from 20% to 20.5%.

The issue is it linear, or some other function perhaps quadratic which cuts the low dose damage drastically. I don't think that issue is settled.

Radon is natural but it is harmful. The sun is natural but one should not spend all day in the sun. There are lots of things in the so called natural environment that will harm or kill you including oxygen. I think safely is a misnomer as the authorities are really calculating what they consider acceptable risk. And what constitutes acceptable risk really comes down to the individual although he/she doesn't get to set the standard. I wouldn't say flying is safe or driving is safe but there risks are acceptable to me. As my wife, the risk of flying is not acceptable.

On the other hand, the true risks of most of the things we take for granted are not known or understood by the public. If they were, perhaps coal fired plants would be banned.

I really meant that there are no absolutely agreed safe man-made levels. Of course radioactivity is natural, but when we introduce sources that are hugely higher than those found naturally and which can and do cause harm there has to be a safe/unsafe level set somewhere. I understand there are any number of variables here, both as to interpretation of 'safe' and measure of harm.

Fine, get a firm grasp of the variables before making overly bold assertions then.

The legal standards for exposure are set using the linear damage model that assumes that there is persistent damage at all doses (the same assertion you made) because it is the most conservative model, not because there is a scientific concensus that it is the reality of the situation.

Mind you, I'm not saying that there is no dangerous dose, and I am definitely *not* recommending that anyone muck about with radioactive material without a very clear understanding of exactly what they are doing (because that stuff can bite you), but I am saying that the risks as presented from many quarters are overblown because not that many people have taken the time to actually understand what the real risks are and ignorance breeds fear.

There are no measurable health effect below certain threshold. It does not matter the value of the threshold for the point of discussion. Maybe radiation is harmful at any dose. But we can't see any effects if the dose was not exceeding the said value. There are measurable increases in cancer rates, often many years later when exposure is above the limit.

e.g. Pilots get more radiation than general population, but less than "dangerous" level and have same cancer rates (actually lower, but that's most likely because they are positively selected healthy bunch in upper socioeconomic layer.

I often talked with a professor of Atmospheric Chemistry who used to frequent my establishment who research was focusing on the amount of pollutants that made it over to the US from China. She was increasingly appalled by what they were discovering. This is primarily lower atmosphere stuff that comes out of tailpipes and smoke stacks, not something that is projected up high.

This article and many others that google up explain a lot more;

"Chinese Air Pollution Crosses Pacific, Reaches Western United States"

"Previous studies along the U.S. West Coast have detected Asian pollution that contained dust from drought and deforestation as well as sulfur, soot, and trace metals from the burning of fossil fuels. On average, a new coal-fired power plant is built every week in China. Between 1954 and 2001 the amount of sunlight reaching the ground in China fell dramatically despite a decrease in regional cloud cover, a trend scientists attribute to worsening haze. Some experts predict that China may eventually generate one third of California’s air pollution."


Point is I am relatively certain that the US WILL receive fallout, granted in small concentrations but if it is consistent enough the cumulative effect will be harmful.

What I've heard is that there is no level of increased radiation that is so small as to be demonstrably 'not harmful.'

The question is, when is the harm considered significant? Is it at a .0001% increase in your chances of getting cancer some time in your life? Is it at .1%, 1%, 10%...?

Is it when it is the equivalent to using a cell phone once? Or to getting ten x-rays in a row?...

Who can accurately determine what is significant for every person?

There are no correlations between cancer rates and low level doses of radiation. If you are constantly exposed to low doses of radiation (say a period of 20 years) you will have a slightly increased risk of cancer. Slightly increased would be an increase from the average 25% cancer rate to 26%.

Here is a good reference for your doses.


Tell that to the public. It seems obfuscation on the part of the Japanese media and power company will make the public scoff at these types of data. Who did the study? Who funded it? What is the n value? How long were these people monitored? What was the age of the group exposed?

A lot of variables and few have been explored. Likely we wont know the effects.

Tokyo will be the largest scale experiment in human history.

Watch the children. They will show you the answer.

Well the children have a different susceptibility to radiation then the rest of the population so your point is invalid. I'm sure you can find an abundance of studies on nuclear energy workers, airline pilots, oil pipeline workers, etc. In fact there are even studies that suggest low doses of radiation are beneficial as they can keep your immune system active and reduce your likelihood of becoming ill. If you want to see studies, just google "low dose radiation studies".

I would tell that to the public but the media is more interested in getting people hyped into a panic and getting ratings. I find it strange how some of the commenters on this site will demonize the media for their commentary on oil supplies but buy in whole heartedly for their take on nuclear energy.

Like I said. The best data on nuclear exposure are going to come in from Tokyo. We will need the next 30 years to sort out the effects on children especially who bioaccumulate the nasty isotopes.

So that is my concern. We are not sure yet what the effects are on Children, since that study has not been done.

But we will know eventually.

This "experiment" has been ongoing for a while.
Health Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster:

The rate of thyroid cancer in children up to the age of 15 has increased 200 fold in Gomel Oblast, Belarus since the accident. At least 90% of these are curable, but the number of cases is expected to increase, especially in children like Blasa who were younger than three at the time of the release. Thyroid cancer is due to inhalation of radioactive iodine or ingestion from drinking milk from cows that have eaten grass that is contaminated with radioactive particles.....

...The incidences of birth defects have increased in heavily contaminated areas. A condition known as "minisatellite mutation" in the Mogilev district of Belarus is "unusually high."

Most genetic mutations resulting from exposure to radiation are recessive and are not likely to be expressed until the individuals affected have grandchildren. The mutation will be fully manifested when two people carrying the same mutant gene marry and produce a child who receives the identical mutant gene from each parent (a one-in-four chance for each child they produce).

Here is an example of "radiation can be good for you in low doses". http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/nuclear.html

Even if you disagree with the arguments there are a variety of references to studies conducted.

This guy's not even a doctor, and a number of his citations are 'personal communication' (un-checkable) and himself.

To point out that radiation is used to fight cancer as an example of how good it is for you is particularly bizarre--it is good at fighting cancer cells because it KILLS them. It's kind of like saying rat poison is good for you because it makes your house so nice and rat free.

Try using a smidgen of critical judgment in assessing your sources and their arguments.

Hey - don't get so donw on 'em. The poster is busy trying to make fission nuke power look good - and ya don't need facts like the poor safety record at the plants or the charge of flawed plant construction (made public in 1988 it seems) getting in the way of
"Radiation is good for you".

I do wonder - how many of the "radiation is good for ya" folks are taking a trip over to Japan or even Chernobyl to lend a hand? It seems the Chernobyl plant has the largest iron structure ever made being placed over the plant - I'm sure they can use help lifting it into place.

We have natural experiments, caused by local geology. One is an area of India with Thorium sands. There is a village in Iran where background radiation is orders of magnitude higher. Startlingly it is claimed cancer artes aren't higher there. The question is how? When I lived in Los Alamos, the background radiation level was about twice what most flatflanders got. And 99.999% of the increase was due to volcanic soils, and cosmic rays. In most places, the background radiation hasn't been changed because of modern technology, but is simply a matter of the rate of infiltration from the ground and cosmic rays. Our biggest additional sources are medical X-rays. Radon, which is a daughter product from the decay of Uranium, is considered to be a serious health issue in a lot of places. I spent many hours as a younger person in New Yorks Grand Central station. It was later declared to be illegally above the radiation codes, because it was constructed from Granite.

We have to know the numbers, to make any reasonable determination of seriousness.

Ummmmmm, since when is some anonymous poster on some blog any kind of source to cite??

For all I know, that poster could be you, so perhaps you just supported your own argument with a link to your own argument. Not very convincing.

One second of searching brings this:


And this:


Give me a few more minutes, and I'll find many more from even more legitimate sources.

Wiki answers is a much more reputable source of information than anything I linked. I already know the status quo of "no radiation is healthy". But are the cancer rates higher in Iran where the background radiation is higher than somewhere it is lower? My whole point is not to convince you that low doses of radiation may be beneficial (although there is some evidence to suggest it is) but to demonstrate that there is nothing conclusive that says low doses of radiation are equated to higher cancer rates. I'm very certain that if there was a correlation that resulted in a huge spike in cancer rates, that it would be plublished and it would be self evident through observed cancer rates for various professions and locations.



Is any amount of radiation safe?

There is no firm basis for setting a "safe" level of exposure above background

In discussing "low level" radiation exposure, I would refer you to the studies done on the used of DU munitions in Bosnia, Gulf War 1, the Iran war and Afganistan. The U.N and other ids-reputable world health organizations have conducted studies which would add to this discussion. Google DU .

How many of the DU effects are from U being a mutagen VS the U on occasion making like a banana and split'n?

Dartstrip, you a paid shill for the nuclear industry or what?

Here folks is some anti-shill ammo from http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/physics10/old%20physics%2010/physics%2010...

The average dose that it takes to induce cancer is now believed to be approximately 25 Sv = 2500 rem. (It was once thought that it took 4 x more than this, but 25 Sv is the current best estimate.) You will notice that it is very difficult to induce cancer in one person, because to give that person a cancer dose of 25 Sv would give them more than 8 times the dose for radiation poisoning. With a dose this high, they would die within a few days from radiation illness, long before any cancer could develop.

However, we think radiation spread out among many many people will still be just as effective at inducing cancer. Suppose we take 25 Sv and spread it among 25 people, so that each one gets 1 Sv. Each person will probably survive the mild radiation sickness. But within a few decades, we expect to get 1 additional cancer, caused by the radiation exposure. That is, we get 1 cancer per 25 Sv, regardless how it is spread out. (This is called the "linear hypothesis". Now that we understand much about the cause of cancer, there is good reason to think it is true.)

In the Chernobyl nuclear radiation accident, the best estimate that the total radiation dose given the population of the world was 600,000 Sv. Only workers at the plant (the firefighters) received enough to die from radiation sickness. But now we can calculate the number of cancers incuded: just divide by 25. So we expect 600,000/25 = 24,000 additional cancer deaths from the Chernobyl accident.

In a population of 120 million people, we expect there to be approximately 24 million cancers from other causes. Thus the Chernobyl accident will increase the cancer rate by about 1 in a thousand. The probablity that the average person exposed to the radiation will die of cancer will increase from roughly 20% to roughtly 20.02%. It is likely that this small increase will never be detected.

Yet those 24,000 people are all individuals who otherwise would not have died from cancer. There is a strange paradox here. Tragedy is occuring, and yet is almost invisible among the much much larger tragedy of cancer from other causes.


The linear hypothesis has never been tested, and in the case of cancer by the time you get down to what is considered "acceptable dose" levels there is so much noise in the cancer rate from intrinsic and chemical sources that any contribution from nuclear exposure is undetectable *if it even exists*.

If cancer were the sole cause of cancer the logic would hold, but it isn't, so it doesn't.

Of course, people ignore that until very recently most people in the developed world sat in front of a deliberate Beta radiation source for many hours a week. Some of them would even put their faces deliberately less than 2 feet away from the beta source for hours at a time. The same people would then turn around and complain about even less potentially dangerous sources of radiation.

Latest worldwide surface distribution of Caesium 137 projection.


That's one scary looking blob. It gives me a metallic taste in my mouth just thinking about it!

Even at low levels, this shows what a global reach these 'local' accidents can have.

Looks like Los Angeles gets the brunt of it. Wow they are going to go nuts soon. Time to close the nukes in CA. LOL. They are doomed. Glad I am getting my daily chest X-rays here in No. Calif.

BTW. Canada is nicely able to avoid this pollution.

Yes, we in Canada seem to get off easy on this one.

One industry that might not - the Pacific Salmon fishery - the main ocean salmon area, the "Alaskan Gyre" current, is right under that red blob.
As soon as the first traces of radiation show up in wild salmon, we'll see the salmon farming industry take full advantage of that.

I will be curious to see if we get any local news or health notices about any radiation exposure or contamination from the plume here in the Los Angeles area.

I will try to post URLs if they occur.

EDIT 2011-03-24

Los Angeles EPA radiation monitoring URL

Although trace amounts of radioactive particles from damaged Japanese nuclear reactors have been detected in Riverside and Anaheim, federal officials said California residents have nothing to fear and that the levels pose no health threat

Critical thinking: no actual measurements in article, just 'trace'.


Eight of 18 air monitors in California, Oregon and Washington state that track radiation from Japan’s nuclear reactors are “undergoing quality review,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.


To view the monitors, which update in near real-time, go to the "RadNet" link at http://www.epa.gov/japan2011 .

Other filters have been set up across the country.

Sites on the West Coast are in San Francisco, Anaheim, Seattle and Riverside to detect radioactive particles and iodine isotopes, a nuclear byproduct.


"Trace" is an actual measurement. Its just not informative because the units haven't been quoted.

Trace is used rather than 0 for when a measurement is rounded down to 0.

Thus if you are measuring in ppm, the possibilities at the bottom of the scale are: 0 (nothing detected), trace (something detected but rounds to 0), 1 ppm (the smallest possible quantifiable amount detected)

Local news in San Diego says "don't worry". Since I don't usually worry anyway, I won't. I'm gtg, right?

http://radiationnetwork.com/ shows on-line counts from USA. They report 100 counts is a "attention" threshold.

http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/rert/radnet-coloradosprings-bg.html seems to indicate that radiation in Colorado Springs and fluctuations somewhat decreased since Fukushima :-)

Edit: As of now it is all noise (from the media, I guess. Media sniffs a beta decay. They start the news. The government has to do something. So they put a website with total counts. All noise. Unless they detected beta of appropriate energy (and they don't tell us), I don't know how you can claim anything from these graphs of beta counts for western USA. These are all fluctuating lines. :

http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/rert/radnet-corvallis-bg.html (OR)

"potential dispersion"

Considering it is dispersed to that amount, the plume concentration isocontours don't look right. They should show more orders of magnitude variance, but then again it does say "qualitative", which means that the numbers hold no real significance apart from the direction of decrease.

It certainly looks from that animation like Colorado is getting fallout from Fukushima. We have had major Chinook winds on the front range the past few days, which occur when the jetstream drops and the winds are squeezed over the continental divide and down onto the plains, especially near Boulder. We had gusts of 80 mph last night.

I am certain that with NCAR/UCAR/NOAA/NREL/NWTC and all the other atmospheric labs here that someone knows if the background levels of Cesium or any other radioactive isotopes have risen. The question is whether they would tell us.

Well what do you know, buried under stories about Elizabeth Taylor's death and the football team's woes with their defense:

"Tiny levels of radiation from Japan in Colo."


I read it has been detected as far away as Iceland. Within a few days the signature should be detectable over the entire northern hemisphere. But detectable by quality scientific instruments is quite different from what will cause a significant rise in cancer rates.

All it means that they discovered a gamma ray or beta particle of energy matching iodine-131. How many counts? Most likely single counts as they are not able to even able to affect background CPM. All they can claim is "we saw one!!".

Attention! News!~ Denver registers at 1:16pm 30CPM radioactivity!!!!

How does it sound? And it's just background.

I think the statement was that it should be detectable, with suitably sensitive instruments anywhere in the northern hemisphere. In no way does that mean that this level is damaging. Although certain people for whom any level above background means their hair catches fire, will jump to crazy conclusions. Interestingly one nuclear test, was detectable half way around the world, but it couldn't be sampled in free air. But animal thyroids concentrated the isotope enough to be detectable. Again here detectable equals NOT dangerous. But, it does illustrate that it is bilogical concentration, not free air radioactivity that matters.

15 minutes ago, CPM count in Denver was 44 counts per minute at 1:05 and 63 at 1:08, which is just background for Denver. No radiation in Colorado.

Uranium is rather heavy. And used "close to the ground" in bulk.

A shocking new scientific study by British scientists Dr. Chris Busby and Saoirse Morgan asks: " Did the use of uranium weapons in Gulf War II result in the contamination of Europe? "

High levels of depleted uranium (DU) have been measured in the atmosphere in Britain, transported on air currents from the Middle East and Central Asia.

A farther distance and still things get from point A to point B.
Go closed system!

This is along the lines of CFCs are too heavy to reach the stratosphere and contribute to chlorine induced ozone loss.

The only thing that matters for transport is the aerosol particle diameter. Particles a few microns in width can get very far, especially if they are lofted into the upper troposphere by convection (not all them get rained out). The atomic mass is basically a non issue when dealing with extremely small particles.

Mass is meaningless on the nanoscale.

This forms the basis for why biological systems can do useful work! link

"Like macroscopic machines, molecular machines typically have movable parts. However, while everyday macroscopic machines may provide inspiration for molecular machines, it is misleading to draw analogies between their design strategy; the dynamics of large and small length scales are simply too different. Harnessing Brownian motion and making molecular level machines is regulated by the second law of thermodynamics, with its often counter-intuitive consequences, and as such, we need another inspiration."

Basically, thermal fluctuations move particles according to the Stokes-Einstein Law. For diffusion constant, D:

D = RT/N (1/6(pi)Zr)

R and T are gas constant, temperature, and Z is viscosity, and r is the radius of the atom.

Atomic radius really does not change much beyond the third period.
So stuff diffuses without any regard for its own mass!

Undertow -

Every so often I get another glimpse of that huge nasty looking black mushroom cloud generated by the explosion of one those containment buildings.

I cannot envision any scenario in which the spent fuel in the cooling ponds at that reactor are not now scattered all over countryside given the magnitude of that explosion.

This is a complete disaster that they are desperately trying to suppress the information on - it's going to take ALOT of "happy talk" to make this go away now that a preferential impact to children has been noted.


With the rods in pools below the level of the concrete floor, and the explosion being the volume of air/hydrogen in the space above, I doubt they could have been scattered or even thrown out the the pool. The real issue, is what was the effect of the explosion on the ability to cool the reactor, and the spend-fuel pool? Where is that black smoke originating from? Clearly the plant workers are afraid of it.

TEPCO now "corrects" their statement of earlier today. When they said 500 milisieverts per hour in part of the plant forced them to evacuate yesterday, they made a mistake and meant 500 microsieverts per hour forced them to evacuate the plant. Liars. Meanwhile they provide soothing readings of declining radiation levels at the gate upwind of the release. Fabulous :-(

From twitter it seems internationally provided real fallout figures are being re-tweeted all over Japan and virtually nobody believes a word the government or TEPCO says - in fact probably many now believe it is even worse than it is (and that's saying something). Way to go TEPCO/government.

NHK-World now drops the TEPCO press conferences as soon as they go to Q&A because awkward questions are being asked.

For going on two weeks now in every other briefing or excerpt they have been swapping the prefixes milli and micro...

Hard to believe such a technologically advanced nation could have made it this far being continually off by a factor of 1000...

I'm with you - "liars"

We used to call that the decimal demon. I think Tokyo is selling its soul to the decimal demon.

The WORLD is watching Tokyo. Become adults.

I would say that they are in a bit of dilemma. Given that they have little if any control over the situation they can

1) Obfuscate and hope that the health and environmental impacts aren't too great, or

2) Level with the population and try to cope with the resultant panic as 40 million people try to abandon Tokyo.

Can't say that I don't have some sympathy for choice 1.

I'm not sure they would cause more panic if people are told the truth. That just seems to be the accepted excuse for everything these days. I would still be in Tokyo if I was working there right now although concerned. I would not go there on holiday though. And of course the Japanese media knows the truth and they continue to work. Not to mention the Japanese are looking at international websites with hard data. Far more tweets with the calculated release levels in Japanese on twitter than in English.

Situation A: The government says things are okay, the media is kind of wishy washy. TEPCO is probably covering up. Some of the stuff I read on the web seems to suggest things are worse than what I read locally. I'm awfully worried about this, but I guess I need to get to work, maybe it will get better today.

Situation B: The government says radiation is so high I should stay indoors. The media is parading out doctors talking about increased risk of cancer. And my children will suffer developmentally even at current levels. TEPCO admits they can't control the situation. Screw this, I'm heading to my brother's in Osaka / my parents in Biwa / the Nihonkai. Now, how do I get out of here?

And the media, politicians, everyone else that knows the truth and is staying. Are they somehow Japanese supermen who react differently than the ordinary citizen? And if you are not working or are otherwise able to take a convenient holiday away from the region then by all means go stay elsewhere.

We'd probably panic buy during daytime at first then go to the pub in the evenings in Scotland if told. Glow in the dark comic t-shirts would be on sale within days. Yes nobody would like it and many people would go if they could but I wouldn't envisage outright panic.

Your mistake is conflating British culture and Japanese culture.

If TEPCO isn't telling the media the truth, why would they know it? Seems your making the assumption that the entire Japanese media is complicit, that none have broken rank. That's a bit of a stretch if you ask me.

As for the politicians, how many do you think know the truth? Do you think the Diet is getting daily updates? And just what do you suppose would happen if suddenly the PM and his entire cabinet were suddenly all working from Nagasaki and the emperor decided now is a good time for a european holiday?

As for "everyone else that knows" - my bet is that its limited mostly to engineers at the plant and some TEPCO execs desperately trying to save their reactor, their company, their careers and their nation - they have no option for leaving.

Here is an alternative scenario that you may not have considered. It is a bit out there I admit, highly improbable and counter intuitive. The situation is like this.... The media has overblown and sensationalized the event and as a result everyone is a frantic uproar. The situation is not near as serious as the media has made it out to be. The doses to the public are far below anything dangerous.

I suggest that everyone should educate themselves on radiation. In fact people are concerned about higher levels in the spinach when they probably down more dose from bananas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose) than people in Tokyo are getting right now.

If you want some truth check out the IAEA website. I have a pretty good idea of the dangers from reading their information.

You have read this emission estimate http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/cgi-app/reports?ARCHIV=0&LANG=en&MENU=207... ?

It is very lucky most of the emissions have been blown offshore. Unfortunately that still left a lot to hit land.

Besides sounding like a shill for the nuclear industry....

Actually, if you'd read the thread you might have noticed that the general thought has been that the Japanese media has underplayed the story. So, if you're trying to say that even this "underplay" is actually "overblown" than you're going to have to come up with a better line than "the doses to the public are far below anything dangerous."

Indeed, it was not the media that was responsible for announcing that levels of radioactive iodine were twice the safety level for consumption by infants. That announcement came from the government.

Loved your Wikipedia link. It appears you didn't actually read it or you might have noticed this sentence - "The net dose of a banana is zero." Maybe you should read this one instead - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_poisoning

You'll excuse me know, I have to go for my daily radiation treatment to help improve my immune system.

"Besides sounding like a shill for the nuclear industry"

Good call. On here one week--hmmmm.

His first post was a shill posting, I remember that one.

They are still being stupid, I'm glad to see, exposing their methods as the situation continues to worsen.

Here's the secret with shills: go back and read their postings, note how they adapt the line as the situation develops to try to minimize the damage to the public perception of the viability of subsidizing nuclear power, privatize profits, socialize risk, you know the drill, same as in climate denialism: create doubt where none really exists, work on biases to bend support towards desired aim, lie when needed, misrepresent if convenient.

But it doesn't matter, people aren't stupid, they see what's happening, public approval is plummeting, they will not be able to fix this with a few online misdirections and deceptions.

On the more interesting level, what does it pay to be a PR shill? Anyone know? Are there different levels, like there are in tech support, you know, where you escalate the issue to the more proficient ones when the normal method isn't doing well?

Let's review what we've learned: attempt to minimize damage initially: check; attempt to say containment contained: check; attempt to minimize radius of radioactive spread: check; attempt to mislead by pointing to only deaths rather than long term biological harm of various types: check; Minimizing area, saying that it's acceptable to sacrifice a 20x20 mile area (400sq miles - or is it 50x50, for 2500?): check; but now, whoops, it's in the water, and Tokyo is getting too much.

In a way you have to feel sorry for shills, it's not as if they actually care, but their jobs are getting harder and harder every day. And the public is taking notes, and noticing. 3 Mile Island killed nukes in the US more or less, and this is much worse. Now approaching Chernobyl levels as posted above, 20% to date (today's UCS daily briefing today notes a recent Norwegian study that says levels are now 20-50% of Chernobyl). And it's not done yet.

Here's a suggestion to non shills: adapt your views to ongoing empirical reality.

This is my carry away understanding today: it is impossible to safely evacuate a major metropolitan area when a plant or plants fail in their vicinity. It is impossible for private industry to pay for the costs should there be a major failure. Looks sort of like maybe it's not really possible to use this source of energy unless we pay the industry's risks, no? So why should they get to keep any of the profits? I don't see why. Maybe this should be socialized in order to remove that subsidizing of risks? And then a cost benefit analysis can be done without industry lobbyists or shills, and we can determine if the nuclear project is actually a viable way to spend our diminishing resources and vaporizing capital.

And that calculation needs to include the ignored disposal issues, completely, current, backlog, and newly generated. My guess? Huge money loser when true costs and liabilities are added in.

Lots of good resources are available now, if in doubt, check first: UCS daily press briefings to see what's actually going on. I think those people are reasonably trustworthy.

I'm also still adding and updating the Fukushima and related links page as the days go on. Feel free to add a comment with links/brief explanation to that posting, but do not enter into discussion or long comments, just add the link after checking it's not already up. Unlike here, shills are not allowed on that site, so save your shilling time for more productive purposes is my suggestion.

what does it pay to be a PR shill?

I'd bet, most do it for free. If you are a passionate fellow traveler about something, you will be motivated to defend/promote it. A few are probably paid to do it.

Concerning pay of shills.

I believe a few often old science guys get some funding, say in climate change for instane Fred singer comes to mind.
Then you have a few think tanks funded.
From this bad info goes out to a network of confused people annoying real science on blogs like this - they probably work for free,
or just because they get invited to seminars at the think tank with a nice lunch.
Wash and repeat.

Have you seen the film "CO2 - we call it l-i-i-fe" I don not know if I should laugh or cry ;)
But it involves quite some money, that kind of effort.

Besides sounding like a shill for the nuclear industry...

I'd give him the benefit of at least some doubt. Its mainly a matter of which sources of information he judges credible. The first few days of this crisis I thought TEPCO and the government wouldn't me giving out false numbers. So I said all sorts of reasuring things, and some people pinned that label on me. The problem in this situation, is all sorts of numbers are thrown out. Some are lies. Some are mistakes. Some are simply wild rumours. And some are honest attempts by responsible parties. The problem is knowing which numbers are credible, and which ones are incredible. Opinions on the credibility of different sources naturally differ. Eventually we will know the truth. But for now we have to guess about it.

It will be interesting to read about Japan in about 25yrs the way Chernobyl has been documented.

Sad, full of woe to be sure, but interesting.








You can go over 5 + years of TOD and see people claim how safe plants are due to redundant backups, give odds on accident rates and give "don't worry X will not happen" statements and then watch X happen.

The effects of this event have yet to be written - but no matter how bad it is, you'll still have people posting in the TODs of the future how the state showing the effects is wrong and how everything is just tick-ity boo.

OK, have your worst fears been confirmed yet?

The impact on the environment and people from nuclear power is still less over the past 50 years than the impact from petroleum in the past decade. Probably less than in the past year if you include all fossil fuels.

I feel quite confident in saying that no matter how Fukushima goes from here that record will stand for another decade.

Prove me wrong. Use evidence, please.

Errr, I've noticed that folks round here get them mixed up as well :)


Well, I have been following the fukushima reported dose rates for a few days, from JAIF and NISA.
The main Gate approx 0.3 mSv/h - 1 km away
The service building approx 2 mSv/h - 500 m away
Now inside the buildings, there has been no or little data.
It seems completely unreasonable that it should be 0.5 mSv/h to start to evacuate in there - that would be similar dose as the gate - WRONG answer.

Correct is that inside the reactor buildings, the radiation goes up and at spots, like next to the spent fuel pond 4, is horrendous.
0.5 Sv/h, yes half a Sievert per hour is not unreasonable.

And sure I have noticed some careful screening of the data presented, perhaps now we saw the first slip of tongue... there might be more tough data coming out the next days, as it gets difficult to hide.

However, keep that plant under control as presently (what else is there to do - and pray). Hope it stays calm...

I think the international sources like the IAEA are probably your best source. That and the US 80km evac zone seems to be a reasonable choice now. TEPCO and the government have too much skin in the game to be trusted at this point.

Is a neutron beam the one that causes all of humanity to melt into a reddish goo? Because I saw that movie, and frankly I didn't much care for it.

No that's Fox News. A neutron beam is a type of atomic ray.


A neutron beam is a subatomic beam.
Neutrons are stable as part of an atom consisting of 1 up quark and 2 down quarks - BUT free neutrons are unstable as they undergo beta decay (emitting an electron or a positron) with a mean lifetime of 15 minutes, I guess the problem lies here.

neutron decays into proton, electron and antineutrino. in early days these electrons were called beta rays (or radiation) because their nature was unknown. so the neutron itself is not dangerous for health, it is the high energy electron it emits. similarly alfa ray/radiation is helium nucleus and gamma ray/radiation is electromagnetic radiation (or photon).

Time for Superman to take on Atom Man again. (See 2:09 to check out the power of an atomic ray)

Though I don't think Luthor was meant to be Japanese.

Fast forward a few years to the making of King Kong vs. Godzilla.

It's cataclysmic!!!
It's catastrophic!!!
The Titanic Terrifying Battle between
the Mightiest Monsters of All Time!!!...

So Gargantuan in Scope
It Dwarfs every Wonder the Screen has ever shown before!
Don't miss the Battle of the Centuries!

"King Kong vs. Godzilla"
"Heading for their colossal collision"
"Shattering every obstacle that stands between them"
"In the most fantastic rampage of annihilation ever recorded on film."

"See King Kong stomp Tokyo into the ground holding a beautiful girl in his grasp."
"See Godzilla destroy an entire army."
"See King Kong trapped by the blazing barrier of a million volts."
"While nothing, nobody can stop the greatest show down when King Kong and Godzilla meet for the survival of the fittest."

Combine awful sci-fi films themes and bizarrely you get today's headlines.

PS: I remember watching King Kong vs. Godzilla at a local matinee. Those were the days my friend.


Have you seen "Nuclear Boy" Japanese cartoon (English subtitles) about the current situation? Someone posted link earlier. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sakN2hSVxA

Thanks Undertow,

"... with every passing moment, Nuclear Boy is getting better and better. I'm sure of it."

Quite sobering, yes.

Meh . . . it seems nuclear boy's diaper is a leaking a bit and the poo is showing up on vegetables, in Tokyo's water supply, in the soil, etc.

I personally prefer "The Blob" where death comes by simply being incorporated into the body of the monster.

Okay, I was referring to "End of Evangelion", but actually I was quite confused as to what "neutron beams" were supposed to be. I was picturing coherent, visible bursts of neutron radiation, which I had not heard of before. From the article though, it seems like they are saying that there is detectable neutron radiation outside of the reactor, which implies that some release of fissionable materials has already taken place.

Which is really bad news, if true.

If there are neutrons. {You can't reasonably form them into a beam} That would be an indicator of currently ongoing fission. Which would be really bad news. I'm not at all certain how you would identify one from a distance?

You guys are on the wrong thread to post information about the nuclear situation in Japan. When you click on to TOD, read the titles at top and then post accordingly. Thanks.


Leanan requested people to post Fukushima issues in the Drumbeat now as the special daily posts were ending. So thanks for your incorrect advice.

Since nuclear splosions are isolated to Japan (far east Asia according to my 1958 rand mcnally), what are we so concerned about? I'm eating my sandwich and not sweating the problems "over there."

Peak oil - less resources for maintenance - next time around it is YOUR sandwich lettuce being irradiated. Welcome, my friend.

The lettuce will be irradiated for your eating safety - it'll prevent the E Coli outbreaks like with Spinach.

(VS actually correctly composting the material)

In the worst case scenario this is a major global problem. But as they are not telling us we can just go back to the shock and awe in Libya.

'Cause they thought THEIR reactor(x6) was safe. They were assured that even in accidents, that there are backup systems that can maintain control of the toxic potential of this.

"We won't have another CHERNOBYL. That was those RUSSIANS, we're different, and besides, we've learned since then."

Now we are getting to see (from Bleacher seats that are powered by our own Nuclear Reactors) just how deep those promises actually reach, and what's on the other side of the curtain.

Did you see that interview with the Chernobyl cleanup technician who saw one of her colleagues step into an irradiated puddle, and it burned the skin off the soles of his feet? Just happened again yesterday in Fukushima to two of their workers, who were running cable.


But didn't you realize the danger and want to leave?
Yes, I knew the danger. All sorts of things happened. One colleague stepped into a rainwater pool and the soles of his feet burned off inside his boots. But I felt it was my duty to stay. I was like a firefighter. Imagine if your house was burning and the firemen came and then left because they thought it was too dangerous.

History is finding some great rhymes here. Rinse and Retreat!

CANBERRA, Australia—More than 1,000 Australians protested government plans to tax industrial polluters for the carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere on Wednesday in a grass-roots challenge to the country's bid to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
Most of the protesters outside Parliament House were over 60 years old and many said they had never before taken part in a public demonstration. They argue the tax will add to their household bills and damage the economy.

The economy and people's pocket books are always more important than the environment. This is why we're screwed.

"This is why we're screwed."

Pick your reason, but we're screwed anyway. I forget who it is here, but somebody's tag line is "Are humans smarter than yeast?"

That was TOTONIELAS tagline.. he's been somewhat 'retired' for a couple years.. but we'd do well to remember a couple of his lobbying efforts, maintaining an awareness of our NPK options, and developing a Strategic Wheelbarrow Reserve.

Mr. Shaw, you're missed by several other wacky inventors at TOD. Come on back anytime!


Perhaps. Or perhaps they're just more important than the environment for the current batch of over 60 year olds.

The thing for the over-60's crowd is that they have, for the most part, retired, and have few ways to make more income to offset, what is, essentially, a consumption tax. They can, of course, reduce their consumption, but they interpret that as them having to make sacrifices for the benefit of the younger generations. There is certainly an expectation in Australia, if not elsewhere, by many seniors, that the younger generation should support them. if you look at the statistics for the gov health care system ,as to who is paying in, and who is getting most of the health care, the younger generation are already supporting them.

Surprisingly, the carbon tax has a lot of support among young Australia, who arguably, have the most to lose if it really does affect jobs and the economy. But, the young crowd see the negatives as really being for big business (which is true) and no one, especially the young crowd, has any sympathy for big business, especially coal related ones, in Australia. They are there what the oil co's are in the US.

So, this argument is not really about environment, but about entitlement - we can expect to see lots more of this.
Brings up an interesting possibility of the carbon tax revenue being used, explicitly, to fund health care and retirement benefits, pensions etc. That would create some interesting debate...

If people were used to paying for the full negative externalities they caused this wouldn't be a problem. They are now being asked to contribute a tiny amount towards the damage they are causing the world and start protesting.

This is what happens when everyone joins the 'I want a free market as long as I can pass all my costs onto everyone else' crowd.

Normally I would be concerned about the carbon tax (my rough estimates suggest 10-15% bill increase), but my electricity has already gone up about 40% over the last few years ... and the main culprit is airconditioners

Tax uncertainty could mean power crunch

MICHAEL TROY: For household and business consumers, it could mean a double whammy. The power grid is in need of major repair with retail prices expected to double over the next five years. And if there's also a squeeze on generating capacity, wholesale prices could more often go to peak demand rates of around $12,000 per megawatt hour.
TIM BUCKLEY, ARKX: Three and a half days of the year peaking capacity is turned on, it's really only turned on really hot days when we need air conditioners.
MICHAEL TROY: Tim Buckley from energy investment company Arkx says it demonstrates the unfairness of current pricing as each air conditioner adds an extra $3,000 a year to wholesale power costs.
TIM BUCKLEY: It's a bizarre situation where anyone trying to do the right thing by the economy or can't afford air-conditioning is subsidising everyone in Australia who does have air-conditioning.

around $12,000 per megawatt hour.

At that price I could make good profits using a hampster wheel and a microgenerator. Thats about a thousand times the cost of solar PV production.

There are two very interesting articles in the news concerning OPEC this morning:

OPEC ambiguity poses a risk to oil market: think tank

But if the world expected a speedy OPEC response with increased oil production that is nowhere to be seen, CGES said.

"Failure to act in a transparent and decisive way risks a repeat of the 2008 price surge and the subsequent collapse in oil demand and OPEC's revenues," the think tank warned.

And: OPEC: Beginning of The End?

The start of the break up may have been on September 10, 2008, when the Saudis walked out of OPEC negotiating session in Vienna where the organization voted to reduce production...

However, breaking up with OPEC may be pulled off without as much effort as one might think.

It appears to me that OPEC may indeed be in trouble. If they don't increase production in the very near future, not just to replace Libyan oil but to keep very high oil prices from collapsing the economy... again, then people will start to question OPEC's ability to do so. Since at least nine of the 12 OPEC nations are already producing flat out, OPEC actually boils down to only three nations, Saudi, Kuwait and the UAE. In that light breaking up may be rather easy.

Ron P.

I'm rather young, 40's, but I remembered OPEC as being organized so as to restrict oil output, as a group, to keep prices up, and punish political adversaries. They were not organized to stabilize prices, or to make oil cheap. Now that spare capacity is gone, any oil exporting country can play this role, all by itself. No need for a cartel.

Others know this history better than I do, but iirc OPEC did start by jacking up prices in the '70s, but that cause recessions, which lead to much lower oil use and many businesses and utility switching off of oil to NG and other energy sources wherever they could. This hard lesson meant that since then OPEC has tried to moderate sharp rises in oil prices by strategically increasing production when one seems to be underway.

And yes, spare capacity is gone, and that means no oil exporting country has the spare capacity to suddenly dump lots of 'spare' oil on the market to cool things off.

As the nail of this new reality slowly gets pounded through the skulls of all the money wizards, oil futures markets are likely to do some very 'interesting' things.

dohboi - Working in the oil patch during that period I remember it well. Yep...high oil prices starting in the late 70's drove the world into a severe depression cutting oil demand greatly. For a number of years the KSA kept cutting production while most of OPEC maxed their deliveries. Eventually by 1986 the KSA had enough of it and cranked their valves wide open. Analysts at the time said in another 18 months the KSA would have had 100% of their production shut in at the rate they were going. In no time at all they drove oil prices to under $10/bbl in many areas. Good news for US/global consumers. Crippled the domestic oil patch...all part of our normal boom/bust cycle. I spent a couple of years delivering produce and driving a cab to suppliment my very limited consulting. In the old days the cycles tended to run for the better part of a decade or more. These days it's more like every 3 or 4 years. Very difficult to project activity like that. Consider the damage to most of the shale gas players who were spending money like drunken sailors when NG was heading above $10/mcf. In no time at all prices fell to $3.50/mcf and the likes of Chesapeake and Devon were crippled.

It looks to me like any 'boom' part of the cycle now almost immediately creates a spike in oil and another 'bust'. In fact overall it looks more like a gradual bust with little hillocks, or boomettes, which never amount to anything other than in the minds of traders on the exchanges.

If energy was easy to get we would be getting it and the speculators would be concentrating on expanding industrial corporations. They are not, they are constantly speculating on commodities - all commodities - nearly all of which seem to be in chronic short supply.

Include political instability in seemingly rich commodity producing countries, brought on largely by population increase and the high cost of essentials, then add environment destruction with a variety of causes, but mostly human induced, and you have what must be the beginning of the Peak Oil (Everything?) end game.

Ul - It certainly worked that way recently with NG. Something of a perfect storm: rising NG leading to more drilling leading to more NG followed by a drastic demand drop due to the financial bust. I've mention this story before: in spring of '08 Devon conttracted every drill rig it could for the E Texas SG play. Day rates and contract terms weren't important...just get the rigs. Just 6 months later, when NG prices dropped to less than half the peak level Devon cancelled 14 of the 18 rigs they had running. And paid a $40 million penalty for the priveledge of not drilling. Fastest turn around I had seen in 34 years in the biz.

Rockman, Now you get to live it up; soon we will all be delivering the produce to you. ;-)

Oct - I'm in a somwhat conflicted world. With a new start up company we don't benefit much from the oil price run up because we don't have much oil or NG flowing. My owner started a basic contrarian effort to dump a lot of money into the biz as it was heading towards the bottom. But oil has been constanly ramping up in value since then. Our plan was to follow the age old wisdom: buy low...sell high. Even though we're convetional players the unconventional Eagle Ford is really starting to hurt us. Driving costs up and making it difficult to find various services at any price. We would be in hog heavan if the oil patch had completely collapsed with many operators and service companies going under. We have our own funds...don't need to borrow a penny from any banker so don't need to justify our efforts to anyone. Our plan was to turn $'s into reserves in the ground and flip everything in 4 or 5 years when the market peaked again. But the damn market (re: oil anyway) is peaking now IMHO. I never wished hard times for my cousins in the oil patch but we were certainly preparing to take advantage of it.

Rock, been waiting to ask an Eagleford question to someone who clearly knows which end is up. As I understand it [correct me if I am wrong], in the Bakken the dolomite section is the key to getting commercial production from the highly oil saturated shales [which lay above and below the dolomite streak] after massive multistage fracs. The dolomite has the permiabilty that the shales generally lack on a granular level. If the fractures in the shale are open to the dolomite, the oil in the newly created fractures and the immediate proximity of those fractures is now mobile.

In the Eagleford, is the key to productivity a lot of natural fracturing, widely distributed porosity / permiability streaks or mostly just a very high oil saturation combined with the results of the fract? ... or is the Eagleford shale exceptional in some other respect that makes it productive with the technology that has been applied.

Thanks. RWR

RW - You've got a pretty clear picture of the situation. All these fractured plays depend upon a combination of factors. To simplify: the shales have virtually no permeability (the "matrix" perm). But they are typically the source of the oil. The fracture systems have great perm but represent a very small portion of the rock. I'll call the third component "perm streaks" - within the shale or immediately above/below are rocks that have significantly better (but still not great) perm compared to the shale.

So you can have a pure fractured shale reservoir with no perm streaks and have very limited fractures to a great many. And the fracture distribution will seldom be uniform. Geologists are always looking for the "Holy Grail": the key indicator of where these fracture sweet spots are. This is why the horizontal drill aspect of these plays is so critical: much easier to find good fracture concentrations with 5,000' of horizontal hole than 300' of vertical hole through the formation. At the other extreme you can have fractures feeding into a significant perm streak system. From the little I know of the Bakken this could play a major role in that play. I haven't seen any reports of significant perm streaks associated with the Eagle Ford. But some folks think they may have found the Holy Grail: there are sections of the EF that have a high carbonate (think limestone) component that makes the rock more brittle and thus more prone to natural fractures as well as producing more effective man-made fractures.

The EF has quickly turned into one of the biggest drilling booms I've seen in 36 years. Amazing what $100 oil will do. It's sucking in drilling services like a giant black hole. Beginning to have a very serious negative impact on us conventional players. The play is being driven by public companies. The wells can be profitable but not really outstanding as far as profits go. And no significant production life on an individual well basis: 60% to 80% decline rates are being reported. But these plays are tailor made for Wall Street: one completed well allows the company to book proven reserves on 2 to 4 offset locations. This allows a great ability to have y-o-y reserve base increases which WS values much greater than profitability. As stock brokers say: they don't sell steak...they sell the sizzle. And the EF is sizzling like a blast furnace right now. This is what drove the shale gas plays until the crash of NG prices killed the drilling frenzy. At that point the minimal profitability of the SG couldn't be hidden and folks like Chesapeake and Devon were crippled. I don't think anyone is expecting a similar crash in oil prices so they've thrown the drilling throttle wide open.

Rock, thanks for the information. Not certain on a test basis you could even get your lighter fluid back out of some of the shales I have seen even if you crushed them. Might make a good science fair project.

I have some small fractional interests in a few properties in OK. We [using the term loosely] are helping to drive up the prices for the services providers with various workovers involving fracs. Tactics like fracing limestones where in the past, we would have hit the formation with a thousand or two thousand gallons of acid and lived [or in the proverbial sense died] with the results. Our expenditures are small time, but a bill for $100,000 for a 50 foot vertical section in a well drilled in the 80s seems like a lot until [when it works] the potential results become apparent.

Hundred dollar oil has made things a lot more fun. RWR

I think OPEC came about earlier than that - more like September 1960. The founding members were Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Kuwait and Iraq (now there are 12)


No need for a cartel.

While it would almost certainly be techically feasible to produce more oil, OPEC members hope that by acting as a group they can maximize profits as if they were a monopoly. ( A quick refresher on monopoly profit maximization is at http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Profit-Maximization.topicArticleI... ). The imporant thing to remember is that monopolies will produce the quantity where their marginal cost is equal to their marginal revenue whereas a competitive market has producers competing for market share and so produce until marginal revenue is zero.

So you have Saudi Arabia which is able to produce it's current quota comfortably. Likely producing more than it is now decreases marginal revenue and so also profits. ( this would be the more costly to produce oil ) Producing less than it is producing now would decrease marginal cost but also decrease profits.

If OPEC became mostly comprised of members interested in only pumping their cheap-to-produce oil at monopoly prices, then their interests would diverge from those with more cheap to produce oil. OPEC might split. Those with relatively low marginal cost might then form an OPEC2.

What of the other OPEC nations? They would like to produce less to maximize their profits since their marginal cost exceeds their marginal revenue. They must produce closer to marginal cost = marginal revenue or lose market share.

But when you don't have the lowest marginal costs, what good is market share?

Price decreases come directly off either marginal revenue and/or marginal cost. Marginal cost is most easily decreased by producing easier oil but less oil overall.

Does this make for a choice of two possible production levels equally effective at maximizing profits, one high cost high quantity produced path and one low cost low quantity produced path? Which one to choose?

Produce alot now or wait till later. There is no IMMEDIATE profit motivation to decide between them. Wait till later does however have the advantage that you haven't been increasing your marginal costs ( by depleting your resource ) in the meantime.

From the Cliffs Notes link above, you can see that profit is maximized at two points. Why is the greater quantity produced when both points maximize profits equally? Presumably it is because not doing so would open up a market share niche which would threaten the monopoly position itself. However, with a finite resource, why not produce less now when it maximizes your profits just as effectively as fighting for market share would? That is, what's the incentive for those with higher costs, which are guaranteed to only go up not to fork over their market share for now until Saudi Arabia is also out of cheap oil?

At that point in time, rising prices in a more competitive market mean rising costs can more reliably be passed on in the form of increased prices.

Geographically located resources controlled by geographically based entities are a little different than resources controlled by private money. Private money can move around and go where the action is. Oil states can't do that.

Saudi Arabia might maximize profits now, pump less than what would maximize profits or pump more than what might maximize profits.

  • Maximizing profits is it's own reward. ( Saudi power position neutral )
  • Pumping less than would maximize profits saves some for later, and helps maintain position as having lowest marginal cost while tempting others to deplete their resources in the near term.( Saudi power position up )
  • Pumping more than would maximize profits is a card that can be played for influence, and helps prevent financial / political disasters that might adversely effect business. It also depletes the resource. ( Saudi power position down )

Embarassingly, I don't have a point after all.

According to zFacts.com, tomorrow the US National debt will pass through $14.4 trillion. Every 22 1/2 days another $100 billion is added. Off book debt of the Government due to holding toxic mortgage debt should also be added to the National debt. $14.294 trillion is the present debt ceiling.

What I find difficult to wash down is that everyone is talking about the debt to GDP ratio even though GDP counts debt based government spending on the plus side. WTH????

"These are not the droids you're looking for, move along"

The government, and banks, can play shell games for a while with dept and imaginary asset values, etc. But, these tricks don't put diesel in the delivery trucks, or food on the plate. Regardless of the perceived dollar value, someone will have to give up on their share.

No worries - we just launched another 160 cruise missiles at a cool million per...

But then the next headline tells of how unemployment benefits are about to run out yet again for those "hanging on by their fingernails" (see the latest edition of The Automatic Earth for the reference to that expression and many more fingernail hanging examples)

It's all good...

Don't forget that it was that Repug Hero, Reagan who started the ball rolling toward our present situation. When Reagan was just getting started, the Dems pointed out that his plan (cut taxes, raise the DOD budget and balance the budget) couldn't work. So here we are, sliding up the debt mountain...

E. Swanson

Yes, Reagan's term has become some mythical "golden age" for the conservative side of the country. The fact is that cutting taxes and increasing the defense budget didn't work and Reagan (and the congress) went through a period of raising taxes that would make any "tax and spend" dem proud.

Let's face it. Cutting taxes is a redistribution of wealth to the richest 0.1%. That was the plan all along when they were getting their lifeboats in order as the first wave of oil shocks worked through the system.

The defense spending just uses embodied energy faster. Make and destroy stuff repeatedly.

For example: Heat your coffee in the microwave. Let is cool. Heat is again. Repeat 1,000 times.

We are just feeding the entropy monster our energy surplus. Yes we are about as bright as a Box of Rocks.

Aside from creating the Electronic Nuremberg Rally, he really perfected the Charge and Loot model that has dominated all future republican presidencies.

Remember also that his VP when running against him called the plan "Voodoo Economics". Also remember 2-3 days before the election a press release said 'yea, turns out the economic plan we've been running on won't work due to changes in the economy we didn't predict.'

Then said VP, after he earnned the presidency, in part on a pledge of "no new taxes, read my lips", tried to whittle down the deficit by raising taxes, and the repubican base didn't support him fo reelection. Since then all R politicians have known what they have to do to survive politically.

Black_Dog, IMO the roots run a lot deeper than Reagan although I would not argue that the sins you have attributed to Reagan viewed on an ad hoc basis accelerated the debt cycle.

The roots I would point to are clustered in the 1913 time period. The creation of the Fed. The Constitutional ammendment authorizing the income tax. The Constitutional ammendment requiring the direct election of senators. Maybe WWI / Wilson internationalism that made WWII inevitable.

From there, "credit" for acceleration should also be given to Johnson's Great Society programs / the Vietnam debacle [needlessly protracted by Nixon] and Nixon's forced termination of dollar gold convertability which removed any actual limit on debt creation.

In total, mostly "progressive" measures whether undertaken by you lovingly refer to as the "repugs" or what I could "the jackass party."


No matter how we got here though the banks were going to steer the ship until SMACK oil depletion kicked in. And here we are. The idea all along was for the banks to run things in the background and let people think politicians did stuff.

"The idea all along was for the banks to run things in the background and let people think politicians did stuff.

Agreed. Perot miss identified the primary source of his "giant sucking sound."

Fortunately, none of that debt is real. LOL. They printed it all. Everyone is printing. Europe, Asia, USA. Printing away.

The real debt is energy debt. I would instead like to see reported the number of (non-inflation corrected) dollars per physical BTU.

That is the real metric of our doom. Everything else is an imagining.

The UK Chancellor (finance minister) has just announced an immediate cut in fuel (petrol, diesel) tax of 1p a litre. Also promise of a 'fuel price stabiliser' where the tax would be cut as the price rises, and vice versa. Also delayed increased taxes on aviation.

In practice the cuts are trivial, but it is already being hailed as a 'drivers charter'. Since oil is price in dollars, and Stirling fell 1p against the dollar today, the tax cut has already been overwhelmed by reality even before it came into effect.

I always predicted the UK would cut fuel taxes when our government got desperate. Iw won't help in the long run, but it means we can keep our foot to the floor right up to the point of impact.

Exactly the wrong, opposite, response that would have been needed by our politicians.

They should keep their backs straight and hold strong instead, and continue to let energy prices increase "so that the market can find solutions"... were we not told that?

Segel - And there's the problem, isn't it? If they "keep their backs straight and hold strong instead" they won't be "our politicians" very long, will they? They'll be replaced by the next set of politicians who promise the public quick painless solutions. How can we expect our politicial leaders to not satisfy the most common denominator of public sentiment?

Once again: we have met the enemy and he is us.

Sad but true.

POLITICIANS WILL BRING DOOM (on a finite resource planet) They facilitate our inner desires to have a free lunch. We can blame politicians, or we can blame ourselves. When was the last time, Angry Joe said, "It is MY fault"? Therefore, we are screwed. Q.E.D.

The CAFE standards are the answer - ban the porche cayenne or anything that does less than 25mpg to start with .

keep going , markets respond to regulation

get the regulation wrong and the market fails - see banks

just my 2% worth


You can't haul a trailer loaded up with 5000# of cattle to the auction barn behind a "Leaf" or a "Volt". John

Can't do it with a Toyota Camry, Ford Mustang, etc. either. Your Point?

EVs aren't for every application and nobody is saying so.

I'm sure they could provide a vehicle with enough power if the demand's there.

If they can power the Bagger 288 with electricity, they can power anything with electricity.

true but the owners of Porche Cayennes are not hauling cattle - just themselves

its one of what us Brits call a "Chelsea Tractor" .....


here : http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Chelsea%20Tractor

Exactly... that's what trains are for...

Seriously - weren't cattle moved around a whole bunch long before the era of F-350s ?

You could chop 'em up, dry the meat and haul that product to market in such.

Still might have to make 2 trips.

But cows used to walk to market. And at times they were hauled to processing in train cars - hence the phrase "Cattle Car".

And finally, lets make the same car size/power output not electric. It still would not be the proper towing auto-mobile.

You could with hybrid electric trucks. Look at the Diesel electric train engine design. "a huge, 12-cylinder, two-stroke diesel engine, with some heavy duty electric motors and generators, throwing in a little bit of computer technology for good measure. This 270,000-pound (122,470-kg) locomotive is designed to tow passenger-train cars at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour (177 kph). The diesel engine makes 3,200 horsepower, and the generator can turn this into almost 4,700 amps of electrical current. The four drive motors use this electricity to generate over 64,000 pounds of thrust."

Hybrid electric trucks are already here, now. They are just commercial trucks, not showy pickups.

In the class 4 market, Hino will offer the 155 diesel model and the first ever U.S. class 4 diesel-electric hybrid model, the 155h. The 155 and 155h models will carry a 14,500 lb. GVW rating. In the class 5 market, Hino will offer the 195 diesel model and the first ever U.S. class 5 diesel-electric hybrid model, the 195h. The 195 and 195h models will carry a 19,500 lb. GVW rating.


Note that this is not a demonstration project, or any such thing, it is actually a line of production models.

These trucks typically work all day, every day, the annual fuel savings will be substantial.

The truck gearbox maker Eaton, has also been working on hydraulic hybrids, and has been testing them in things like garbage trucks - which are officially the most stop-start vehicles on the road.

The improvements are coming, and will find their way into industrial/commercial applications first. There is not so much payback for a pickup used as a daily commuter (though are are MANY of those)

Drive the cattle to a local market/slaughterhouse

We don't need no stinkin cattle!

The CAFE standards are the answer - ban the porche cayenne or anything that does less than 25mpg to start with.

The Porsche Cayenne is not the problem, it is the Ford F-150 pickup truck. There are far more of them out on the suburban roads guzzling valuable fuel. Maybe they could ban anybody who doesn't own a farm or work in the construction industry from driving one. And limit them to six cylinders, or preferably four. You should only need a V8 if you are driving a semi with dual trailers over the higher Rocky Mountain passes.

Of course many of the guys with the big V8 pickups really aspire to be driving a semi over the Rockies instead. We just need to convince them they don't need that kind of power to go down to the store to pick up a six-pack of beer.

We just need to convince them they don't need that kind of power to go down to the store to pick up a six-pack of beer.

Quite so, but just HOW do we do that? We could just follow the UK/Euro/Japan approach and tax them out of existence, but I don;t think that will fly here.

And, if the midsize trucks were offered with diesels, like they are in the rest of the world, I'll bet many farmers/contractors etc wouldn't be buying F150's either. The regulated opposition to diesels on this continent is mind blowing.

And, if a guy needs to have an F-350 for picking up beer, he is clearly compensating for something...

I've just been down to the store for a six-pack. (Actually 6 different micro-brewery real ales). 8 mile round trip, just on 70mpg (imperial) on the trip computer. Just under 0.5 litres of diesel, or a small beer bottle.

Beer by bike. That will fly. ;-)

How about beer or hand-crafted vodka by sailboat? The Seattle sail transport CSA is considering other options for the 2011 season(just not livestock!)

Sail Transport: Strengthening That “S” In Regional Food Security:

Right now, their small CSA program shipping organic vegetables from Sequim to Ballard is the primary project but the co-op is busily exploring other transport opportunities, such as sailing in oats for Sound Spirits, Seattle’s first legal distillery since Prohibition.

I remember that film actually. Great clip. Yeah. Not for the drunk biker for sure. I would use a trailer. LOL

And, if a guy needs to have an F-350 for picking up beer, he is clearly compensating for something...

Either that or he's one serious beer drinker!

Either that or he's one serious beer drinker!

Granted, here is one example where a bigger truck might have been appropriate;


Is it the 150? Or the 250 and 350? Not to mention the dualies. Seems they were mostly owned by horse people. Gotta transport those horse a couple of times per year, which means it becomes the commuter and grocercy shopping vehicle as well. I wonder how many gallons per mile of recreational horse riding we get in actuality. I'd bet its probably something like 100gallons per mile.

Right - gotta transport the horses 'cuz they can't walk to where they need to get to.

ban the porche cayenne or anything that does less than 25mpg to start with .

Considering the crap we've gotten out of the long awaited plan to phase out incandescent bulbs, that is simply unthinkable.

This is one of my favorites :- (credit Derrick Jensen)

Q : "How many environmentalists does it take to change a lightbulb?"

A : "Ten. One to write the lightbulb a letter requesting that it change. Four to circulate online petitions. One to file a lawsuit demanding it change. One to send the lightbulb lovingkindness (tm), knowing that this is the only way real change occurs. One to accept the lightbulb precisely the way it is, clear in the knowledge that to not accept another is to do great harm to oneself. One to write a book about how and why the lightbulb needs to change. And finally one to smash the f***ing lightbulb, because we all know it's never going to change."

Yeah...I know...signal to noise ratio...

The UK Chancellor (finance minister) has just announced an immediate cut in fuel (petrol, diesel) tax of 1p a litre. Also promise of a 'fuel price stabiliser' where the tax would be cut as the price rises, and vice versa.

That is a move 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Did he not notice that North Sea oil production peaked in 1999 and is now in steep decline? The UK had a free ride on North Sea oil for a few decades, but now it is coming to an end.

A better solution might be to improve the state of British rail transportation. Electric trains work extremely well with the right technology. The infrastructure is there but the Brits need to make it work efficiently and fast, something they have never excelled at. The Germans and French know how to do it, are only a short distance away (by global standards), and these days are even willing to speak English.

The British just need to swallow their pride, forget any idea of trying to make private automobile transportation cheap enough for the common person in their crowded little island, and start working on making their rather extensive but not terribly efficient train system work better.

Well they recently just raised the train ticket prices considerably, much to my personal consternation.


The chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies has defended fare increases which average 6.2% and in some cases are much higher.

Michael Roberts said the rises were part of a government policy to make rail passengers pay a greater share of the cost than taxpayers.

If that's not shooting themselves in the foot, I don't know what is!

We already have a ludicrously expensive rail system compared to mainland Europe - if you don't book weeks in advance you end up paying double, triple, quadruple or even more on the day!

I think you are underestimating political deviousness.

Let's assume the fuel price stabiliser is bought in when oil is over $100. We know that this level will hurt and eventually force the global economy into recession.

So tax rises to 'stabilise' the fuel price....at the $100+ level.

So you throw in a 1p cut in the headline rate, what does it matter if it brings in the tax wonga when the economy collapses and the tax take would otherwise be low? At long as it keeps people focused on the shiny bauble you can sneak the real tax under their noses.

A quick update on the Fukushima reactor.

Tests detect radiation above limits for infants in Tokyo water.
"Government samples taken Tuesday night found 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water -- two times higher than the limit that the government considers safe for infants.
The amount of iodine detected was lower than the level considered safe for adults: 300 becquerels per kilogram."

Radiation could affect people outside 30km zone
"Edano said at a news conference on Wednesday that a computer forecast system has shown that radiation levels in some areas outside the 30-kilometer zone would exceed 100 millisieverts, which is the level that could affect the human thyroid if a person is exposed to it outdoors for 24 hours."

TEPCO: Black smoke rises from No.3 reactor
"The company said that the level of radiation near the main gate of the plant, 1 kilometer west of the No.3 reactor, was 265.1-microsieverts-per-hour at 5 PM. They added there had been no major change in the levels after the smoke was observed."

Last week Tepco raised the permissible amount of radiation exposure for workers to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts. Now they are measuring rates of 265 microsieverts/hour? I sure hope that is a typo.

No no typo, it is the radiation measured at the Fukushima main Gate since days. 265 microSv/h is approx 0.265 milliSv/h.
Thus in approx 1000 hours (40 days) you have received the maximum allowed dose, and should go home (away some 100 km from Fukushima) for a year.
And in the plant buildings radiation is multiple times higher, so you need to go home earlier.

Further, as the wind is not completely from the east, the fact that the smoke does not increase radiation there is a no-news. Let them show a measurement from within or in the vicinity of that smoke plume, and we will see. For example where the webcam is, the plume is moving quite close by, on the image upthread.

It is a lousy situation, but if everything holds and cooling gets going, it will improve...

Regarding the article above

Spent Nuclear Fuel by State, the article says

Here is a breakdown, by tons, in spent fuel pools, in dry cask storage and total for individual states (some numbers are rounded):

When you look at the numbers, the numbers in the first of the three columns (which I understand to be spent fuel pools) is far higher than the amounts in the second column (which seems to be dry cask storage). In total, the columns are

Spent Fuel Pools 54696 tons
Dry Cask Storage 17166 tons

If nuclear production in the US has been fairly level for a long time, and spent fuel pools are temporary (maybe 10 years), it seems like dry cask storage would exceed spent fuel pools. I haven't tried to look at this in detail, but it seems like an interesting subject. How many years worth of fuel are in spent fuel pools? Are there standards as to how they are stored in this country?

This has a bit more info on what states have the fuel in which form and why.

U.S. Nuclear Waste Increasing With No Permanent Storage Available


Plant operators in some states have moved aggressively to dry cask storage. Virginia has 1,533 tons of nuclear waste in dry storage and 1,105 tons in spent fuel pools. Maryland has 844 tons in dry storage and 588 tons in spent fuel pools.

Utilities in Texas, though, have not. There are 2,178 tons kept in spent fuel pools at reactor sites there, and zero in dry casks. In New York, 3,345 tons are in spent fuel pools while only 454 tons are in dry storage.

The article you linked also says:

The U.S. nuclear industry says the waste is being stored safely at power-plant sites, though it has long pushed for a long-term storage facility. Meanwhile, the industry's collective pile of waste is growing by about 2,200 tons a year; experts say some of the pools in the United States contain four times the amount of spent fuel that they were designed to handle.

If 2.200 tons a year are being added and there is a total of 54,696 tons in pools, dividing 54,696 by 2,200 would suggest that there are about 25 years worth of rods in pools. In fact, the quantity of fuel has likely been increasing somewhat over this time, so the amount of fuel probably equates to more than 25 years worth--perhaps more like 30 years worth. At least the extra fuel should be somewhat cooled down, but there certainly is a lot of it.

The earlier article talks about 17,168 tons in casks. If 17,168 is divided by 2,200 per year, there is about 8 years worth of spent fuel in casks. This calculation is also likely understated, because of rising amounts of nuclear fuel used, so maybe it is equivalent to something like 10 years worth of fuel.

Ah, yes - the elephant in the room (or should I say "control room") that isn't being talked about.

There is no "safe" way of disposing of these wastes given their half-lives. Bury them, anywhere, and they will eventually reach the water table. Shooting them into space gets rid of them, but the risk of a high atmosphere explosion is just to great on the impact side. Now if there were some way to "unrefine" them - reducing their purity to a level somewhat close to how they appear in nature, then we could spread them in the ocean or somewhere else.

I have some difficulty understanding why nuclear wastes cannot be stored permanently in deep exhausred oil wells; after all, the cap stone (or whatever the proper terminology is) over the oil bearing strata has held the oil in place for millions of years.

Perhaps some of the geologists who work in the oil industry will enlighten the rest of us in respect to this matter.

I have worked at a plant where dry casks are used, and seen one-They appear to be sturdy enough to withstand just about anything- even dropping them from a considerable hieght onto a concrete pad.

It's a cinch nobody will ever move one without a good sized crane and a heavy duty truck, so physical security in terms of terrorism doesn't seem to be much of an issue.

I doubt one could be breached in short order with anything less than armor piercing ammunition fired from a good sized artillery piece.

Of course my expertise does not extend to understanding what might happen in terms of corrosion from the inside out over a very long period.

Hopefully somebody with knowledge of the chemistry can fill us in in this respect.

For the paranoids who control the dialogue on the disposal process, converting the waste into synthetic rock at a lower density than the original ore and depositing it in the most remote and unreachable places we can is insufficient.

Waste disposal is not the problem.

The problem is left as an exercise for the reader to work out.

I can't answer the question on oil wells definitively. But I can say that the risk of seepage out of a deep well by oil is far less than the risk from seepage by nuclear waste. The closer that well is to a water source, the higher the risk.

Those casks truly do look amazing. They have one fault - the life expectancy of the metal used in making them is not as long as life expectancy of the radiation threat from the materials inside. So cask storage makes sense as long as you have a technologically advanced civilization around that can replace the casks when they begin to wear. Throwing them down a deep whole, however, says that you don't give a $%@! about what happens to those descendents of yours who happen to be around when the metal finally weakens. This is what eventually did in Yucca Mountain - it sits on top of a water basin that eventually feeds into the Death Valley water system.

r4ndom's comment below was meant to be amusing, but he's very right about identifying the solution - dispersal. The problem with radiation is not radiation, per se, it is concentration of radiation. If there were a way to disperse the waste..., but that is likely to prove economically nonviable, or at least economically unpopular.

Now Shaman, I'd have expected better than "The solution to pollution is dilution" from you ;)

But in essence I agree with your assessment, which is why I advocate recycling and active use of as great a percentage of radiactive material as possible.

People aren't perfect, and bad things will happen, but some sort of bad things are going to happen regardless so we might as well do our best and try to get some good out of the whole mess.

not dilution, but dispersal - maybe a small difference, but an important one, I think.

Again, I think the place to start is in recognizing that the problem with radiation is not it's existence, but the concentration. Anywhere that we have concentrated amounts, we must be exceedingly vigilant. And given the time frame that this vigilance must be maintained, this should give pause even to the most enthusiastic supporters of a technically sophisticated civilization.

Our goal should not be to eliminate risk (this is the same game our gov't and media are playing these days with the fear of terrorism, the fear of drugs, the fear of HIV or avian flu or ....), our goal should be to be aware of the risks we are taking and not to raise them unnecessarily.

As a proponent of a radically decentralized, "detechnologized" view of the world, there are risks that I would rather be taking than those that come from nuclear power.

A wise man once told me that more tools are ruined by rust than misuse.

Dispersal of nuclear waste into small repositories is just assuring that many low level releases will occur. If the risk is that great, then it is playing directly into the risk factor. If the risk is not that great then it is an unnecessary effort.

Actually, I was think more along the lines of dispersal over as wide an area as possible so as to approach the levels of radiation that were found before we started concentrating it. Or at least get it down to near those "safe" levels you've been arguing about with others.

Pipe dream, I know.

People aren't perfect, and bad things will happen, but some sort of bad things are going to happen regardless

Perhaps then the solution is to not make the waste then that flawed humans with flawed processes and flawed machines will need to process?

Bingo! We have a winner! :-)

Seriously, has no one heard of the Precautionary Principle?

Too late.

Deal with the world as it is, not as you would wish it to be.

Now we're talking. Look longer term than next week, at the locations of US nuclear plants, the amount of "spent" nuclear fuels in too-concentrated conditions in pools at the site, the Mark I designs requiring active electrical cooling, 4-8 hour battery lives, the downwind ramifications, and you've got the future. Instead of On The Beach or "terrorism", we have met the enemy and it is us. A widely distributed network of overly complex nuclear "dirty bombs" waiting to go off as complexity wanes and the electricity blinks on and off, with one node after another being extinguished, starting with the island nation. Got Geiger?

It's been discussed a while ago that US government is collectinf from the industry fee for permanent disposal. By now it is $24B and the Yucca site idea is off. Essentially gov't collected $24B and did nothing.



Congress created the fee in 1982 to help pay for a permanent geologic nuclear waste repository beneath Yucca Mountain 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The U.S. Department of Energy had planned to use the mountain to bury 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste. The Yucca Mountain site was approved by Congress and President George W. Bush in 2002. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission began licensing hearings for Yucca Mountain in 2009 but they were put on hold when the Obama administration said it would terminate the program. The fee is paid to the Nuclear Waste Fund, held in the U.S. Treasury.

The fee amounts to approximately $750 million in annual revenues for the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has a balance of more than $24 billion

I think Canadian idea of storage in Canadian Shield is also in limbo

Why try to bury it for tens of thousands of years, a hopeless proposition, when you can burn it and get energy? The safety characteristics of lead (no bismuth) cooled fast neutron reactors put every other reactor to shame. They are the only type of reactor that can withstand deliberate sabotage:

Comparison of sodium and lead cooled breeder reactors

The purpose of the Yucca Mountain project is to comply with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 and develop a national site for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste storage. The management and operating contractor as of April 1, 2009 for the project is USA Repository Services (USA-RS) (a consortium of government contractors, URS Corporation, Shaw Corporation and Areva Federal Services LLC). Following the layoff of 800 employees on March 31, 2009, the consortium had about 100 employees remaining on the project prior to all being laid off by the end of the 2010 financial year [12]due to zero funding in President Obama's 2011 budget for the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

It's nice to know that the can is being soundly kicked :-/ That the project was effectively dead, pre-Obama, is ignored by the Wiki article; Senator Reid saw to that. Again, Obama gets tagged with something he had no control over, though it seems he has control over little these days. Perhaps he never learned that it's easier to beg forgiveness (and let history decide) than to get permission.

Maybe the site could be moved to southern Libya, there seems to be nothing much happening there, and would give the US a convenient excuse to have a permanent military presence in a country that (coincidentally) has Africa's largest oil reserves...

It's likely to be an unpopular idea:

The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) is the world’s largest known fossil water aquifer system. It is located underground in the Eastern end of the Sahara Desert and spans the political boundaries of four countries in north-eastern Africa.[1] NSAS covers a land area spanning just over two million km2, including north-western Sudan, north-eastern Chad, south-eastern Libya, and most of Egypt. Containing an estimated 150,000 km3 of groundwater,[2] the significance of the NSAS as a potential water resource for future development programs in these countries is extraordinary.

Then there's the North-Western Sahara Aquifer System :

The System covers more than a million km2 (1,800 km E-W, and 900 km N-S) of which 60% is in Algeria, a little less than 10% in Tunisia, and 30% in Libya. The Saharan Aquifer System has been identified and exploited through close to 8,800 water points, wells and sources: 3,500 in the Intercalary Continental and 5,300 in the Terminal Complex. [see: Aexp1]. The breakdown per country is: 6,500 in Algeria, 1,200 in Tunisia, and 1,100 in Libya.

....maybe somewhere in Afganistan :-/


No worries. Commercial nuclear power plants get to act like the Obsessive Compulsives that let their houses and yards fill up with trash.

(humor) All will be well, until disaster or abandonment!

Perhaps a shortage of casks? Anticipation that fuel from the casks would be buried, freeing the casks for more fuel from the pond.


Peak oil is dead

The drama of peak oil is dead in the sense that the countries with large oil deposits are becoming increasingly motivated to want to constrain price increases due to the threat of innovations spawning viable oil substitutes. Every time there is a price spike, consumption nations invest more in researching alternatives. With each price surge more alternatives threaten to become commercially viable. A crossover point could soon be reached whereby the political and business decision-makers choose to invest much more aggressively in non-oil energy sources.

Okay, peak oil is dead because every price spike causes countries with large reserves to increase production and simultaneously causes consuming nations to invest more in alternatives.

Now that is sound logic if I ever heard it. ;-)

Ron P.

I think they mean that price spikes cause demand destruction due to well people using less and people applying energy saving tech or whatever. But the oil price never quite makes it back to $10 a bbl. Does it? However, this differential equation means peak oil will happen no matter what: d(Oil_made_in_earth)/d(time) <<< d(Oil_produced)/d(time).

They mean the dire consequence of Peak oil is dead. Production of 'difficult oil' will increase because of high oilprices preventing a decline of oilproduction for quite some time while in the meantime railtransport, EV's, etc take over. Won't happen IMO, but in theory it is possible.

So now the differential calculus is this:

d(oil_demand_destruction)/d(time) must be faster than change in d(oil_production)/d(time) or else the economy will collapse faster than the oil replacements can be built.

I guess that is the 64 million dollar question and we all get to see what happens. Are we barbarians or are we inventors?

Presently barbarianism is overtaking the system.

Are we barbarians or are we inventors?

Oct, we are both barbarians and inventors.
The 'collective stupidness' can lead to collapse, and much faster than necessary. It is very easy to reduce, for example, diesel demand: cargo ships reducing their speed with 20% save 40% diesel. But that will happen on large scale at the moment when it is too late to prevent a recession. So it is at full speed to another oil price spike and recession, followed by collapsing oilprices.

We are both as he pointed out . . . but our inventors are limited by the laws of physics and thermodynamics.

I was being a bit philosophical, but alas we could perhaps deal with the energy problem with conservation and invention rather than hoping to grind up every dilute oil-stain rock we can find. we could discuss population controls, but you cannot do that when they overprint fiat cash to support overdevelopment and overpopulation.

So to me the financials are actually in full-scale barbarian mode, trying to control the world by making more of what we do not need.

Meanwhile funding military ops to control the last drops of fossil energy in MENA.


Apparently more oil is washing up on Gulf shores from the "Mississippi river dredging operation".


others who flew over the area last weekend believe there were vast stretches of oil in the water. Mike Roberts of the Louisiana Bayoukeepers was with a group that went up in the air on Saturday and then out on a boat on Barataria Bay Sunday. "It looked like a huge amount of oil in the Gulf," Roberts said. "They could smell it from the airplane and I could smell it from the boat. This wasn't just Mississippi River mud."

Mississippi River dredging? Right. Just like the fat finger that causes flash crashes on WS. I guess TBTP still think the vast majority of Americans are as stupid as a post. John

Hey, when CNBC jumps on the Peak Oil bandwagon...

Oil Will Be Gone in 50 Years: HSBC

There could be less than 49 years of oil supplies left, even if demand were to remain flat according to HSBC’s senior global economist Karen Ward.

"Energy resources are scarce," Ward said in a research note. "Even if demand doesn’t increase, there could be as little as 49 years of oil left."

Bold mine. I heard this on CNBC just a few minutes ago and this article is on CNBC.com. No video yet however. I think the tide is turning. More and more people seem to understand the situation.

Ron P.

Of course, keeping demand flat would mean keeping supply flat, which is impossible if oil becomes harder and harder to obtain per unit time. So they are getting warmer on this but they have not spilled the beans on production decline setting in at some point.

Japan quake: Tracking the status of fabs in wake of disaster

Meanwhile, IHS iSuppli also reported that Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. Inc. and Hitachi Kasei Polymer Co. Ltd. have ceased production of what amounts to 70 percent of the worldwide supply if the main raw material used to make printed circuit boards.
But potentially the biggest supply issue at this point is silicon. IHS iSuppli estimates that two factories that have been idled account for 25 percent of the global production of raw silicon wafers.

Does this affect the rapid buildout of solar power?

Does this affect the rapid buildout of solar power?

Solar power? What do you think it is going to do to the price and availability of computers, cell phones, (x)pads, memory, television sets, etc...?
If you are going to buy a new computer in the near future, this is probably a really good time to do so before the prices go up? Same for a new TV?

Some PV cells are made from amorphous material or polycrystalline silicon. Evergreen Solar produces cells by continuous extraction from a melt, so they don't need to purchase any silicon crystals. Other manufacturers use thin film production techniques and thus don't require discrete crystals at all...

E. Swanson

I suspect it is electronics silicon, which is a lot purer and more expensive than solar silicon. I think the Chinese have agreat deal of solar solicon production.

It doesn't sound like things are stable in these reactors at all.


While the maximum vessel temperature set by the reactors' designers is 302 C degrees, the surface temperature of the No. 1 reactor vessel briefly topped 400 C and dropped to about 350 C by noon, and that of the No. 3 reactor vessel stood at about 305 C, the agency said.

Although the facilities are not expected to start melting at those temperatures, according to agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama, TEPCO increased the amount of seawater injected into the No. 1 reactor by nine times to help cool it down.

Nishiyama said TEPCO will carefully continue to inject massive amounts of water into the No. 1 reactor so as not to raise the pressure in the reactor.

Massive water injection could raise pressure in the reactor, which increases the risk of damage to the facility, and workers would be required to release radioactive steam from the reactor to lower the pressure.

At the No. 2 reactor, workers have been unable to replace a pump to help revive its internal cooling system since Friday as high-level radiation amounting to at least 500 millisieverts per hour was detected at its turbine building, the spokesman said.

TEPCO just seemingly announced they made a mistake and meant 500 microsieverts per hour forced them to suspend work. Their lies just keep getting bigger and bigger. As they have set the emergency workers exposure level up to 250 milisieverts there is no way they evacuated because they got a reading of 500 microsieverts per hour. That would take 500 hours to reach their new raised limit. But wait, read carefully and they have said 500 microsieverts was recorded somewhere last Friday with no mention of what was recorded earlier today.


Agency corrects radiation level to 500 microsieverts per hour, not millisieverts. Corrects to show level was recorded on March 18, not Wednesday; and removes reference to highest level of radiation since crisis began.

(Reuters) - Radiation at the crippled Fukushima No.2 nuclear reactor was recorded at 500 microsieverts per hour on March 18, Japan's nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday.

Engineers have been trying to fix the plant's cooling system after restoring lighting on Tuesday.

When is someone going to forcefully point out to the Japanese government that they are acting like a bunch of ignorant, dangerous, radioactive clowns making things worse. Obama?? Mind you considering where the plant was situated I suppose it is quite obvious that they are monumental idiots. Of course they are not alone in this.

Rethin, have you seen the first official public estimates comparing this in size to Chernobyl ( http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/cgi-app/reports?ARCHIV=0&LANG=en&MENU=207... )?

What do you want the government to do? Right now panic will be far worse than the radiation. What do you think will happen if the 35 million people in Tokyo are told the truth?

Not a whole lot different than if they are lied to.

If a panic starts, they will panic. If a panic doesn't start they won't.

This is, of course, *assuming* that the truth is anywhere near as bad as many wish it to be, and that the Japanese government isn't issuing many of these warnings out of an abundance of caution.

If the truth is anything less than catastrophic a panic evacuation of Tokyo would be worse than the radiation hazard, and if the radiation hazard were that bad it would be *impossible* for people to be working at the nuclear plant itself, as the exposure would be that much worse on the scene.

I think the choice is between telling people its bad and dealing with both the reactor and panic. Or Lying to them and hope the reactor just stays at the bad level with no panic.

If you've ever been to Tokyo you'd understand how bad panic there will be. Its packed, shoulder to shoulder. And there is no infrastructure to move people out. All of the infrastructure is designed to move people from the outside of the metro area to the inside and back out twice a day. There is very very little inter city infrastructure. A couple of shinkansen lines and a couple of small highways.

Already there is panic buying. My mother in law works at a department store similar to Walmart. She's complaining the shelves are empty.

I've been to Tokyo. I can guarantee you, there won't be a panic.

It's just not in the Japanese character to panic. They'll handle the situation the best that they can.

The commentary on TOD has deteriorated noticeably since the tsunami, which has served as an excuse for scared Americans to project their own fears onto the Japanese.

Disgusting, but doesn't surprise me. This is a country that, to this day, believes it did the right thing by instantenously wiping out thousands of Japanese women and children from the face of the earth.

Only a people capable of that type of thoughtless barbarism would believe that others would sink to their level.

Boy, where do you find those paintbrushes? Those strokes are just getting WIDER and WIDER.

Yeah, he seems to think that he is the only one who has ever been to Japan, and the only one to think dropping nuclear bombs on cities is not a great idea.

Meanwhile, people in Tokyo have been doing panic buying of everything from toilet paper to flashlight, and now, to water:


The truth (as to what has been revealed in public anyway) seems to be that this may well be comparable to Chernobyl up to now in terms of release. However we still have no official sources as to whether MOX fuel has also been ejected into the environment and no real independent assessment of the probability of an even greater release and these could be additional issues in telling the truth whole truth I guess. However the longer they say nothing, the more people will assume the worst.

However the longer they say nothing, the more people will assume the worst.

In the west, sure. But not in Japan. Its a culture that trusts authority absolutely. That's why this crisis has been so hard on the Japanese psyche.

Then why am I seeing on even NHK them visiting areas with high readings but outside the evacuation zone, where almost everyone they ask, other than a few very elderly, says they don't believe a word the government says?

"They told us they could never blow up as well."

That's why its so hard on the Japanese psyche.

Fallout seems to be three things presently:
1) what was blown out around plant with the explosions - seems "minor", but some might have made some bad plumes those explosion days into air
2) whatever is rather constantly coming out as/with the white vapour daily. This is water boiling off, and any leaks in containments brings stuff with it from the fuel - this will go on slowly decreasing until reactors cool or leaks are tightened (reactor 2 and probably 3)(aint gonna happen soon, methinks).
and 3) the smoke which is appearing occasionally - what is this? suggestions from pumps oil burning (that would be luck, eh) to some smoldering fire around dry fuel, at your choice. Will in worst case release equally large nasty fallout as the white vapor.

2 and 3 travel with weather situation, and will do so until under control.

Lets hope all reactor calms down and cools down real soon.

Read my reply elsewhere in thread. This "panic" meme is an excuse for everything. Judging by tweets many people in Tokyo are fully aware of the levels anyway and those that aren't are starting to think things are even worse. Maybe your experience is different though as I am only going by what I see online. I repeat, if told the true situation, I would not leave Tokyo if my job was there.

The vast majority of people will do whatever the government says.

Those few who are tweeting, as you say, are already causing problems with panic buying.

Think about the Rita or Katrina evacuation/panic. This would be nothing like it. In a nation already exhausting its resources dealing with the earthquake and tsunami.

Here in the UK where we panic buy everything (petrol, shovels, toilet-paper) at first rumours of anything unpleasant all that seems to happen is that two days later the shops/petrol stations are full because everybody has bought everything already needed.

I repeat I am not suggesting evacuating Tokyo and neither should the Japanese government.

So you suggest telling a city of 35 million people they have a Chernobyl on their doorstep and then not do anything about it?

What possible good can come from scaring people? You suggest the Japanese will assume the worst and react accordingly if they are kept in the dark. I disagree. I think you don't understand Japan at all.

This crisis is already close to breaking Japan. I think you do not understand the magnitude of the problems here.

That would be the assumption of catastrophe that many people seem to have been wishing for since day one because it would shut down nuclear development worldwide.

Today's precipitation where I am would be part of the dispersion pattern.

I'm more concerned about the risk that I might get run off the road by some crazy in a SP-UTE this afternoon on my way home than I am about any radiation risk.

The risk balance in Tokyo isn't as unbalanced towards conventional risks as it is here, but I still expect more people to die in Tokyo over the next year from bathing accidents than radiation exposure. I wouldn't suggest they stop taking baths, however.

I'm not wishing for it. Far from it. I have family in Tokyo.

Having lived and worked in Tokyo for many years, I understand the government trying to keep things calm. I don't know if things are worse than we are being told. I'm not sure the Japanese government even knows for sure.

Panic could be far far worse than the actual reactor accidents.

There is a story going about that TEPCO recommended some very drastic action last Monday but the government ordered them to take another path. That seemed to have been reported in the press as TEPCO wanted to just do nothing and walk away. I have heard other people that seem to be real experts on the design of these reactors (but who can tell on the net) who have said that the government's orders may actually be making the situation worse. I do not know what exactly the drastic action was but the story goes that the government refused to do it because it would "panic the people". So instead they were ordered to begin "Operation Power Cord".

Now the above could be complete nonsense but given everything so far, it would not surprise me.

Dr Michio Kaku said on ABC last week - "workers overwhelmed, leadership clueless"

Do you have a source for this story?

No other than I've seen the same basic story multiple times in blogs of the event and twitter messages. It hope it is untrue but it makes me uneasy.

The JAIF info tonight Wednesday has some new info on it, that the cooling pumps 1 and 2 are in bad shape.
That would be pretty hard to fix, say many days.
That means many days of spraying and pumping water as presently. Which is a tough job, and little results, and polluting site and sea.
Least bad choice.
Maybe they have figured that out.

I guess some nuclear engineer can calculate how long one must cool reactor 1-3 with how much water per day. I guess a good couple of days still.
Tough job and can be depressive for the workforce.

A big improvement would be to get any recirculating flow going, preferably at a pressure well above ambient. If the steam-driven pumps could be gotten working (and who knows how they like salt water -- probably not much), then this part would remove reactor heat.

Ideally you would have some portion of the sea-water exchanger working too, but those pumps are probably dead.

If the pressure vessels will not hold pressure, then options are fewer, but you could still strive to have a recirculation loop at ambient pressure.

The heat is not that great. You could bring in an air exchanger good for a few MW by truck, I would think. With mains power, air cooling below 100C is not unreasonable.

I cannot understand why there is not more in-parallel effort on such notions. It can't be that hard to find where hot water is coming out, suck it up, put it through an exchanger, and pump it back in. If only steam is coming out, then cut open access to the primary loop, cool the steam, and re-inject the condensate like they are the sea water today.

Also, given a kg per second or so, why not use fresh water? That much can be trucked in if necessary.

Wrap the building with a giant coil of copper tubing and pump away.

Where is superman?

300 gpm water to remove 5MW heat at 100% heat transfer, without boiling. If everything is allowed to turn to steam, the number goes down maybe 6-7 times (80cal per gram to heat from 20C to 80C, another 540 to evaporate)

I never heard anything at all about feshwater supply. The plant must have had one pre-tsunami? Or, did it simply recirculate a fixed supply to heat exchangers cooled by seawater?

I would think in the present condition, they gotta circulate water in/out of the cores, and probably the spent fuel pools. Then what to do with the contaiminated water? I presume pump it into the sea is the least bad option. If there were time, there would probably some sort of dispossal, maybe a very deep well? But in a hurry, under present conditions something highly nonideal is probably the best that can be done.

I may not understand but you seemed to say that when they eventually discover they have been lied to it will crush the Japanese psyche? And again who makes the decision that "we" are able to stay but the "people" will panic if told?

And if many in the city are already panic buying because they've seen international data then does that not suggest that they are stocking up but have no intention of leaving?

I would be blazing with fury if something like this happened in Scotland but I had to read international websites for the true info.

Clearly you are right and I don't understand the Japanese. Not sure they understand themselves at the moment.

The panic buying has so far largely been in response to the earthquake.

Not the recent panic buying of water:


So should they NEVER evacuate under ANY circumstances.

My guess is that the announcement that water is unsafe for infants is the beginning of a series of increasingly dire warnings that are intended to get small children and their mothers out first.

The next stage will probably warn that older children and pregnant women should also not drink the water. And on up from there.

When you tell people not to drink water, and grocery shelves are empty, you are essentially telling them to leave.

I have no idea how they will handle this, though. But keep in mind that every year, 135 million Chinese 'evacuate' cities to return to their farm homes to celebrate holidays (see the film "Last Train Home" for an inside look at this largest population shift in human history).

Japan, of course, has far less land to absorb these evacuees. I'm doubting that Korea will be very eager to welcome many of these historic adversaries, but ethnic Korean in Japan will likely be welcomed. On the other hand, it this gets much worse and winds shift the wrong way, Korea could be the next-closest heavily populated region.

China didn't just decide on day to 'evacuate' 135 million people. Instead they have the inter city transportation infrastructure in place that has grown to meet the demand over decades.

There is very little inter city travel in Japan. A few shinkansen lines and highways that run at nearly full capacity during normal time.

And these are not normal times. Electricity shortages. Petroleum shortages. Existing refugees are starving and freezing in gymnasiums.

My opinion is Japan will never recover from this disaster. It doesn't need a nuclear crisis on top of all this.

"My opinion is Japan will never recover from this disaster. It doesn't need a nuclear crisis on top of all this."

I agree, but it's looking more and more like it has one.

It is certainly important to remember that the secondary death toll of the tsunami/earthquake is on-going. Food, water and medical supplies are still in short supply and often not getting to the people who need it most. People are dying from these conditions. Especially the elderly and ill.

I do hope you and yours are doing ok.

So should they NEVER evacuate under ANY circumstances.

Well I should have added I would not leave now - new information could change that. But I'm assuming that almost no matter what's happened, far, far more Japanese will die appreciably early of smoking than radiation over their lifetime.

The next stage will probably warn that older children and pregnant women should also not drink the water. And on up from there.

This is starting to worry me as a possible and maybe even likely scenario. They keep pouring water all over those reactors and that water has to go somewhere. Whether evaporating, seeping into the ground, or going into the ocean, it is getting out and carrying radioactive particles with it. It just seems to be a question of "how much?".

The neutron beams pretty much confirm that one or more reactors have been breached . . . so nuclear boy poo is leaking out. Again . . . how much?

"so nuclear boy poo is leaking out. Again . . . how much?"

And when should we start spelling it "Pu"?

Cmon guys you are the most depressive around in a long time. In a while you will be on par with Darwinian ;) take that as a compliment.

Yeah it sure is tough, but, we humans are really flexible, and the Japanese have a track-record in handling almost things as this. They will pull it off. Society will be different in 1-2-3 years, but wont be much worse. It is the post-peak-oil final test - after this they are home free if they get through.

Fukushima, just might cool down and reduce emissions as we talk. But it is a long walk. And might have accidents still.


I've noticed NHK has changed tone now somewhat. They just ran a story with a Japanese professor where he was comparing the fallout he was finding in some still occupied towns in Japan to be like what had been seen from Chernobyl in some ways. They've also had experts on saying that people should evacuate in a wider area than the official zone. And finally they ran some radiation and wind direction graphics for the first time (that I've seen) of some of the major releases to show where the fallout was likely most concentrated in Japan.

Still we've never seen any plume analysis from anyone though. We're getting limited info on iodine-131 and caesium-137 but what about strontium-90 and the other even more nastier stuff? Seems nobody is saying.

And what was at enough of a concentration in the water in the turbine hall to physically burn workers feet, reportedly with beta radiation? More questions but no answers.

They are going to fully melt down. They have no control. The radiation cloud is very large.

No one cares. The media is worried about LIbya. Looks like the pattern from here on in with disasters.

Look the other way.

Wait until one falls on our doorsteps.

They'll care again.. for a few more minutes.

Care to help think up some strategies for ways one might take advantage of the next 'Oh Crap' moments? Contingencies?

While many here disagree, and others are waiting for the shoe to drop, for TEPCO and the Emperor to make edifying pronouncements at long last, the odds are fair that this could go south. What then?

Can we, should we be making the case before the 'calmers' get the room subdued again, to put this thing to sleep? At least to make it abundantly clear, over and over that these are the SAME questions that have remained unanswered and unsolved for the last 40 years.

As the good lady said in the Top Quotes (E. Roosevelt?), 'It takes as much energy to plan as it does to dream'

You've got to wonder what plans they've drawn up in the past 2 weeks, if any. I figure they'll have to entombed 1,2,all? of them. Maybe they'll see what they can accomplish should they ever get the pumps working (maybe they have, no media attention lately on it)... Pretty large area of Japan is going to become a park in the months/years ahead.

I would be developing a nuclear fuel moving operation to carry fuel onto a ship to move it to a safer site. That way they can defuel 5 and 6 and get spent fuel from the others that are not so radioactive.

But since they have ZERO remote systems to move fuel in and out. It is a fat chance in hell.

Remember to do the sarcophagus at Chernobyl, the used Coal Miners to dig underneath the whole complex. Pour a thick concrete slab. Then they built a dome over the top. The radioactivity was so strong that it corroded all the steel and they had to then build a new bigger dome over top of the old not falling apart one.

To do that they needed to disassemble the old structure with a remote controlled crane system. Tons and tons of steel.

AND who paid for it. Europe. LOL. http://proceedings.esri.com/library/userconf/proc02/pap0658/p0658.htm

Here is the heap of melted mass: http://proceedings.esri.com/library/userconf/proc02/pap0658/65813.jpg

This "fully aware" theme your on strikes me as unrealistic. Not everyone is a twenty something with their head wrapped up in tweets. There is also a substantial cultural bias that would discount info from the outside if it is at odds with what the government says. (We in the US see this, too, in times of "emergency" - but its more pronounced in Japan).

Saudi Arabia: Oil Reserves and Peak Oil

Al Husseini forecasts The Peak Oil high point “a plateau in total output that will last approximately fifteen years,” meaning that soon after 2020 “a slow but steady output decline will ensue and no amount of effort will be able to stop it.”

Al Husseini says we are at peak oil right now? We agree but I predict we will fall off the current plateau well before his prediction. We will fall off by late 2012, or 2013 at the latest. Still, to have the former head of Aramco Reservoir Management say we are at peak oil is something.

Ron P.

I suspect we fell of the plateau in the last three weeks, in Libya.

By the time Libya comes back on line, somewhere else will be off-line...

Which will provide the denialists a convenient reason for the decline. "There would be no problem with oil if it wasn't for these damn uprisings"

"Let's go quell something" (I mean lets help somebody) " Would that be 'boots on the ground"? "I don't know Candy, lets ask the blonde bimbo Elliot lets talk once in awhile".

It is getting pathetically scary out there. Paid dummies in the newsroom embedded up the politicos a**es, owned by the corporations who also own the news...

Help, my soul hurts. Time to order some more Amish products in case the power shuts down. Where do we start?


Meh . . . that article is just rehashing the wikileaks info which was already known anyway.

This is true but all the coverage was about his saying that Saudi reserves were overestimated. The fact that he stated we were at peak oil, or at least on the peak plateau got no coverage at all.

Ron P.

Check out the EIA World's Liquid Fuels Supply on our website at http://www.generalbiomass.com/GOOO1.htm . That graph may be familiar to TOD folks, made in 2009. It shows supply and demand curves diverging starting about 2012. As I occasionally plot recent oil demand numbers on my paper copy of that graph, I note that demand is running about 3 million bpd above the demand line shown in the graph. Divergence of course is the driver of price spikes.

Our company develops cellulase enzymes to make sugars from nonfood biomass, those sugars then being used to make cellulosic biofuels or replacements for oil-based chemicals and plastics. We just received our 16th grant proposal rejection from USDA/DOE. Not enough money to support a princely $100K toward a small bit of tech to start getting off of oil. From this tech entrepreneur's view, it is unlikely that the current bureaucracy will support real alternatives to oil any time soon. Biomass properly done could replace perhaps 30% of our oil consumption without using food feedstocks, but the track record so far is poor because of inadequate technology.

Ron, note the positives here: you have the middle of the road (re peak discussions) admitting peak is now. You have the decline now spoken of as 2020. This is quite an improvement. Then we have US military calling for possible 10mbpd shortages by 2015. So clearly that is no longer really a question, only timing, the only actual 'debate' now is how rapid global total decline will actually be. I asked ROCKMAN this in the last drumbeat, he says he feels it will be a slow bumpy decline, which would put the time at just around 2015-2020. My feeling is this is right, when viewing very advanced peaks and declines, with wide geographical range, like the US, the declines have in fact been very gradual. Individual fields may decline rapidly but as prices stay over 100 a barrel, seems like a lot of work will go into making the decline less steep. I see ROCKMAN having his pick of drilling gigs from now until he decides to hang it up.

So reality is definitely beginning to nudge mainstream bias towards itself, as it of course must do. We'll know reality is fully undeniable when CERA confidently predicts that oil (real oil, petroleum, that is) production levels will be expected to stay at the lower levels, say 68 mbpd in say 2016, for the next 20 years.

Bit by bit it's seeping through to people in the mainstream of this discussion.

The NY Times article about oil wealth undermining democracy is really aggrevating. There's no examination of what role the wealthy oil-consuming nations have in hindering democratic reforms. It's like there's some magic in crude oil, completely divorced from actual international relations, that hinders democracy.

It's not so much that oil wealth undermines democracy per say. It's a little bit more complicated than that.

But basically, there is a socially retarding effect that great natural resource wealth tends to exert upon underdeveloped countries. It's a complex topic and I can't do the subject justice in a short post, but in a nutshell one of the main threads goes like this.

Taking Saudi Arabia as an example: Here we have a country with essentially no economy except oil; no industry, no agriculture, etc. Basically, there really is no private sector economy. There is only the government run oil company and all income for the entire population is really government income transfer payments. This means that there isn't a functional tax base. This is key to understanding the dynamic because without a tax base and a private economy, no effective political process can ever evolve to exert any pressure on the ruling elite.

So, using our "nutshell" analogy; no private economy = no tax base = no effective public body politic = no democracy.

Of course, as I have tried to make plain, it's a bit more complicated, but this is the "Cliff Notes" version. And this basic dynamic tends to operate in many underdeveloped countries which depend upon one natural resource to support the entire population.

The shorter form:
If you can use the resources domestically they contribute to the complexity of your society, if you export most or all of them directly the benefits go elsewhere and the foreign payments tend to congregate with the middlemen.

Oh, I can put it even more bluntly:

You're not going to end up with democracy when everybody is on welfare.

It's sometimes called the resource curse.

The U.S. certainly has a much more diverse economy than that, but we we appear to have at least a mild case of the resource curse, in that we are dependent on oil and shipping $1 billion of borrowed money abroad every day to pay for it. By comparison very little is being spent on developing serious alternatives to petroleum-based liquid fuels. As all TOD readers know well, we must have liquid fuels for jet planes and the 250 million cars and trucks already on the road out there. The harm to our democracy is that oil money buys a lot of politicians, perhaps the majority. If you watch TV you'll have noticed the uptick in feel-good ads from oil and gas companies. Politics is the implementation of policy, and in that sense, our own democracy is heavily influenced by our oil dependence, our home-grown form of the resource curse.

Familiar with Iran and Mossadegh? He was their democratically elected president in the early 1950's, who decided to nationalize the Iranian Oil Assets that had until then been handled by ... bah, here's the Wiki retelling of the story.. contest it if you like.

Early History of BP, British Petroleum.. ( and 'an American plan to abolish Democracy in the Middle East') http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BP

In May 1901, William Knox D'Arcy was granted a concession by the Shah of Iran to search for oil, which he discovered in May 1908.[17] This was the first commercially significant find in the Middle East. On 14 April 1909, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) was incorporated as a subsidiary of Burmah Oil Company to exploit this.[17] In 1935, it became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC).[17]

After World War II, AIOC and the Iranian government initially resisted nationalist pressure to revise AIOC's concession terms still further in Iran's favour. But in March 1951, the pro-western Prime Minister Ali Razmara was assassinated.[18] The Majlis of Iran (parliament) elected a nationalist, Mohammed Mossadeq, as prime minister. In April, the Majlis nationalised the oil industry by unanimous vote.[19] The National Iranian Oil Company was formed as a result, displacing the AIOC.[20] The AIOC withdrew its management from Iran, and organised an effective boycott of Iranian oil. The British government – which owned the AIOC – contested the nationalisation at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, but its complaint was dismissed.[21]

By spring of 1953, incoming U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorised the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to organise a coup against the Mossadeq government with support from the British government.[22] On 19 August 1953, Mossadeq was forced from office by the CIA conspiracy, involving the Shah and the Iranian military, and known by its codename, Operation Ajax.[22]

Mossadeq was replaced by pro-Western general Fazlollah Zahedi[23] and the Shah, who returned to Iran after having left the country briefly to await the outcome of the coup. The Shah abolished the democratic Constitution and assumed autocratic powers.

After the coup, Mossadeq's National Iranian Oil Company became an international consortium, and AIOC resumed operations in Iran as a member of it.[20]

And on a related and timely note: Familiar with the history of Iran's nuclear program? I read we actually pushed them into it. Regardless, we got them going. Here's Wikipedia's opening sentences...

"The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program.[1] The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979...'

And the unconfirmed comments about an Iranian nuclear bomb program from the 1970's.

(Not to be too hard on 'em. Having your own bomb was in vogue in the 1970's. )

"The Last Thing Anybody Needs”: Crude Tops $105, Unlikely to Fall Anytime Soon


In response to the Vermont secession article 'For us to survive and thrive in a new century, we must peaceably dismantle the United States of Empire':

When social security and medicaid and medicare money stops coming from the federal government independent Vermont will have to raise taxes massively to take over these unfunded programs. Vermont is cold can Vermont even grow enough food to feed itself? Vermont has no energy resources except wood and that is slow growing. What percent of Vermont's energy use can wood cover? I agree the federal government no longer serves the interests of the people but resource poor, job poor, cold, cloudy, Vermont may not be the ideal candidate for freedom.

Well nobody gave the Green Mountain Boys much chance of getting those cannons up and over to Boston from Ticonderoga in the dead of winter either but somehow they managed.

Don't underestimate the people of Vermont - an odd bunch at times to be sure but I think there are a great deal many states that will do far worse... (assuming states or "sovereign" territories mean anything if it comes to the SHTF)

Real Vermonters , meaning the ones whose grand parents lived there on farms and in small towns might do ok-they are of a kind, barring only a Yankee accent, with my own people-tough, resourceful, not afraid of hard day in day out work, able to get by without a lot of extras..

The vast majority of the newcomers will either starve, feeeze, or leave Vermont, if there is an economic collapse.

Insofar as this kind of newcomer( WASP office bred retirees mostly) goes in my part of the world, good riddance;they contribute next to nothing useful to our local culture.

They certainly won't contribute anything useful in the event of a hard crash, except more troubles; none of them know the meaning of true physical work or hardship.

The working class coming in from Mexico- now they will do just fine, thier hands will fit around the handles of tools, and they have working sweat glands.If I live a couple more decades, I'm likely to have some Spanish surnamed relatives of the niece and nephew and cousin sorts.They will be quite welcome.

Cambodians, Vietmanese, etc, will also do just fine, but we aren't getting any of them locally;there were a lot of them around Richmond where I used to live, and all of them were doing great.

Insofar as this kind of newcomer( WASP office bred retirees mostly) goes in my part of the world, good riddance;they contribute next to nothing useful to our local culture.
They certainly won't contribute anything useful in the event of a hard crash, except more troubles; none of them know the meaning of true physical work or hardship.

OFM, I think you have hit the head of a well hidden and little discussed nail here. The WASP retirees take over these rural/coastal communities by outbidding everyone else for the land, then go about closing down/opposing any productive industries in the area because they think it might interfere with their peace and quiet. Where I live on coastal BC, a group are opposing a small, locally owned fish hatchery that wants to expand into rasing sturgeon for caviar. A model locall business, 25 employees, and the retirees down the road, who have all come from somewhere else (and have deep pockets), are getting it halted because they are concerned about possible odour, noise, and traffic on the road (which it won;t). Coming from the city to a coastal community and then complaining because someone is doing a fish related business down the road! Like retiring to a country area and complaining about the cattle next door.

This approach is killing jobs and there is less and less for families/young singles, who are leaving, unless they work in health care or "retirement planning".

The area near where my family farm is in Australia is a major cherry growing area but the orchards are slowly dissappearing as they get sold off into "lifestyle lots" to the city retirees who love the idea of a 1-5ac lot with a small orchard and (often) a nice view out over the valley (best orchard soils are along the hills, not the valleys). So all the land goes out of production and people use more oil for mowing their 2ac lawns and driving into town to buy the paper and meet for coffee.

The management class that has never worked up a sweat in their life think retiring to the country lifestyle is great, but miss the point that the country lifestyle was never about retirement - it was about working to provide for yourself. In chasing their part of it, they are gradually destroying the livelihood for everyone else.

It is reminiscent of the people who move into McMansions on newly subdivided farmland to enjoy living in the countryside, and then try to shut down the nearby farms because the smell of manure is too intense for their citified nostrils.

If you want to live in the countryside you should learn to enjoy the smell of manure. It is part of the rural experience.

You could be describing pretty much anywhere S-W-N of Calgary (i.e downwind of farms).

You are right of course, but the problem is, most of those people don;t want the real rural experience, they want a sanitised Martha Stewart style "modern country living" - in nice gentrified country houses *after* you have removed all those annoying sights, smells and sounds from the area. Even in Britain the country gentry knew that you needed to keep the land doing something productive - that's why you had one really nice and expensive mansion, and then somewhere (out of sight) a cluster of cheap tenements, so you didn't spoil the view, or waste productive land, and your workers could afford to live somewhere close.

Of course, the gentry's definition of "productive" might just mean woods suitable for fox/duck/grouse hunting, but even that is better than McMansions everywhere on 2 ac lots ...

Re this suburban fantasy 'farm' living, a lot of people criticize James Howard Kunstler, somewhat accurately, for being a profit of doom. But this really doesn't do him justice, he came into this stuff doing really excellent studies on how suburban living and patterns of thought evolved in his two books: Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere.

He covers that early 'park', 'country living' thing extremely thoroughly, good historical overview, and follows it to the present day. Really good stuff.

These are first rate works, and they are why he is frequently asked to speak at 'new urbanism' conferences and other related areas. He actually understands this stuff well, these are both good reads, and will generally help explain why the suburbs are the way they are, that's of particular interest to those of us who were forced to grow up in one. If you're only going to read one, read Geography of Nowhere.

JHK may have a somewhat dismal track record predicting the future of the stock market etc, but his real strength is in this new urbanism thing, that's where he truly walks the walk of trying to develop a path to the future. I see the results now already, Portland Oregon fixed their zoning laws to allow light rail and urban density to start being developed instead of more sprawl. It's very nice to see what they are doing, makes me have more hope than just giving up and calling it quits.

When I commented on that in Switzerland, my uncle, living there replied that this was the smell of Swiss wealth.

Trade with Canada for food, apply the taxes formerly paid to the central US government to state interests (VT is a net payer into the Fed gov).

They wouldn't too to bad, assuming a peaceful secession were allowed.

Aren't they talking about political disassociation and not complete economic self-isolation?

"resource poor, job poor, cold, cloudy, Vermont"

And don't forget land locked. But hey, if Southern Sudan can do it, why not Vermont?

Vermont has no energy resources except wood and that is slow growing.

The trees have to be growing via some energy input.

Like Photons perhaps?

Too bad there is no way to capture those photons.

The author is writing about Chalmers Johnson's book "The Sorrows of Empire", which I just finished reading. Johnson's theme is that the US has become something like an empire, but not the sort seen in past examples. The Romans, the British, the Spanish, etc, tried to conquer and hold territory using military force, which eventually led to financial collapse, after which those empires faded away.

The US has become the dominate Super Power thru the expansion of our military forces and technologies, but we haven't found the need to actually conquer other nations and turn them into colonies. What we have done is spread our military across the globe with more than 750 "bases" of all sorts, which allow us to project our military power to almost the entire world. We have built military alliances with other nations, especially the English speaking nations, which make it possible to exert strong influence on all nations, whether the peoples in these nations agree with our priorities or not. Johnson's discussion points out that our agreements for basing our troops on the soil of other nations have included agreements which strongly favor the US and tend to remove the actions of our soldiers from any local legal complaint. Ultimately, Johnson thought that the spending by the US, which amounts to roughly half that of the rest of the world's governments, would bankrupt our government. HERE's one of Johnson's essays.

The trouble is, many problems can not be solved by military action or control. That's one reason those older empires failed. The longer the US continues to rely on military power and to make use of surrogate governments (particularly repressive governments or dictators) in other countries, the more the citizens on the street will hate us. The military is very good at destroying stuff and killing people, but building a stable nation afterwords is much more difficult, as we are seeing every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the US appears headed toward some sort of financial collapse, perhaps a breakup into smaller groups of states. Secession is only one way this might happen and we've already experienced what that can lead to. This time, a breakup could be much more painful...

E. Swanson

Speaking as a Mainer, I don't think you'd find Vermonters to be entirely on their own, either.

Lester Brown: The Planet's Scarcest Resource Is Time

This is the latest of The Nation Peak Oil and Climate Change Videos and in my opinion one of the best. Lester talks about Saudi Arabia and their wheat growing project, falling water tables and lots of other stuff. This is really a great video.

Failure takes a long time but collapse comes quickly.

We may be hitting peak oil and peak water at almost exactly the same time.

Ron P.

We may be hitting peak oil and peak water at almost exactly the same time.

Given potable water handling requires energy - peak cheap energy will translate to "peak water".

Agree. Provided enough available energy, desalination plants would remove any issues regarding fresh water.

That is not quite true. You can desal enough water for urban purposes, but you can't for agricultural purposes.
And, most places that are having "water shortages", like LA, the problem is really how to divide up the limited water between urban and agricultural uses. if irrigation farmers have to pay anything close to city rates for water, it is simply uneconomic to farm with it.
And given the trend of almost all cities (except Detroit) to grow, we can expect more water to be taken from agricultural use.

So the city grows, but then how do you feed it?

Transporting the food from somewhere is a less appealing option in a post peak world...

I think the statement still holds - I didn't quantify how much energy is needed. If, for example, fusion was finally proven commercially viable then you would be able to desalinate enough water for agricultural purposes too.

The statement is true - if we had unlimited energy, we could solve our water (and all other) problems).
I just don't think the statement is useful.

Water efficiency is what I do for a living, and while many of the water authorities I have worked with have looked at desal (and most, but not all, have dropped the idea), no one has ever said they'll wait for fusion.

A *possible* breakthrough in decades (as has been promised for decades) does little to help current, or even future, water problems.

It would be wonderful solution, but in the meantime, we have to live in the real world and deal with real issues, and water is a very real one, and will be exacerbated be energy issues.

Haha, yes, perhaps not so useful. I meant it more in terms of most other limiting factors are due to a more fundamental underlying energy problem.

Although I suppose you could argue that fresh water should be treated as a limited resource due to society 'treading water' (geddit?) and falling for the illusion of sustainability by draining underground reservoirs faster than they can be replenished.

Boy, IAWN, you're couching that premise in some pretty big IFs there.

Have you taken note of some of the TOD desalination threads by Debbie Cook, a Californian with a bit of experience on this topic.

I haven't. But I'm always prepared to be enlightened!

Thanks to Lester, a new quote for my list:

Soil erosion is like the tires on your car. You can only wear them down so far before you have a problem, and you may not know you have a problem until you suddenly get a blowout.

On another level that also speaks to resilience, or lack thereof in complex systems. The tire could otherwise be 95% intact, but because of that one tiny weak spot it is now catastrophically useless.

Lester, bless his soul, has been saying much the same thing for the last few decades. Our failure to listen may yet lead to the ultimate "resource substitution":

Living people substituted by dead people.


"collapse comes quickly"----certainly living in Japan I have seen some of the truth of this. I did not understand it until now. But the crisis was waiting to happen since the reactors were old and weak---the rods so many. The lack of cheap oil drove people into the arms of the nuclear game and then the lack of cheap oil drove them to do so unsafely.

There is a stunning lack of willingness to consider the ramifications before, during and after such a crisis.
I am here so I can see it.
Collapse is a response to endless, expensive, horrendous crisis that drive them away from everything they have been told is good. Away from cities, away from technology, away from reliance on far-flung distribution networks (large corporations), away from belief that a central authority can do all. So collapse is really collapse....no one WANTS to go back to a rural area and manage on very little in obscurity. It takes collapse to make that happen.

I would say this crisis is like peak oil on steroids here---the empty shelves, the lack of gasoline, the hyper-inflation to follow. And I think that the thousands of people who have fled the Tokyo area will make it seem pretty empty there at least compared to before. Especially as the school year starts in 2 weeks and I bet that many students registered in universities in the whole region won't go back there to drink irradiated water.

Yes, I have left the area too, and I am now managing on very little in obscurity! (But I can drink the water!) Hello, peak oil! Hello, I have been expecting you but you did not send a note saying when you would come.....

That is what is interesting and so scary--it can be so sudden.

Our heart go out to you and yours. Check in while you can to let us know you're ok and to keep us posted on events on the ground. Do you have a sense of how extensive the exodus from Tokyo is so far? Do you know about the recent report that the water there is no longer safe for infants?

Very well formulated - a peak oil experience recorded. Good luck to you! Enjoy the parts of everyday that has a smile on them.

It is random too, somehow. Like you write, you are surprised, it is sudden. Could happen anywhere, coming soon to a kitchen near myself.
Hmm... sounds familiar like these non-linear systems I did not really study in school. And if it was predictable, it would not exist, right. Proof beacuse it exists. So we must build more resilience and damping into society - more investment in that.
Everything that makes profit at the expense of stocks and safety margins is wrong. You could do efficency, and savings for material and energy elsewhere but not for the sake of a percentage more in profit - then the path of instability is taken.

The stress of relocating, especially if it is under "refugee" living conditions, is likely to result in more negative health effects than staying.

"Likely" perhaps, but we simply don't have enough information to know. And of course the relative merits will be different for different people. Those with family or close friends in other locations where they could stay for an indefinitely long time (or with just a lot of resources--see my link about the flight of CEO's) will probably be seriously thinking of going. With the warning about radioactive water, families with infants and pregnant women have already been essentially told to evacuate--very little bottled water on shelves. Most people with older-than-infant-but-still-very-young kids are probably thinking the same.

If a large enough portion start fleeing, it will quickly become a route, since Japanese like to do what everyone else is doing, as a rule.

I have kids so I didn't want them drinking the radioactive water. That was number one.
Two, I have some savings to do this.
Three, I can work. I have worked for years so I can probably get a job.
Four, I didn't really like the big city anyway. Yes, it is fragile. Suddenly the water is poisoned. The "Oh Sh&t" moment, or when TSHTF....thousands are leaving, by the way! Foreigners, Japanese, etc. Don't be fooled by the lack of stories in the media. Osaka and Fukuoka are getting the refugees. People can just leave their apartments and find others because Japan has overbuilt.
Of course, the poor, working class stiffs cannot leave because they don't have funds. That is not fair, but at least the govt gives free bottled water to families with kids.

I always wanted to leave. I certainly did not expect that it would happen so suddenly and so I am a bit shocked! I certainly did not want it to happen like this.
Anyway, I am here in the countryside; I find it is nice, not at all moribund...the Tokyo area seemed in much worse economic shape before this quake. Not a surprise--there are still lots of farmers and craftsmen here---the ELP people, not the glitzy businessmen I used to see.

I used to live here so I have many friends to help me. It is easy to get around without a car here.
I have found the Oil Drum to be incredibly useful at this time of crisis; there are so many scientists and engineers who can inform and enlighten. I want to thank everyone also for their good wishes. From going through this I have learned just what people have been saying on TOD---you need friends and family to help---this is really key!!

If you are faced with a PO crisis, it helps to have some cash on hand so you can have freedom. Beat the crowd a little out the door. It is better to be early, because you can go back if it isn't a crisis. Be flexible and alert. Keep a sense of humor. Help others and they will help you.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and gained wisdom. Your experience will be a good one to reflect upon a while from now...
1. Get out early 2. Have some cash 3. Head for the land of ELP people 4. ??


Do your best to document what is happening. Take pictures. Post pictures, give reports from personal experience and such.

Many comments and much infotainment is due to spin and indirect 'facts.'

Best hopes for you and everyone in the crisis.

Take pictures.

A picture post card is no substitute for living the nightmare yourself and in the now.

Many pictures have already been posted about the "oil shock" of the 1970's and the lines at the gas stations and the flaring tempers, etc.

But did that change minds?

Most people don't realize they are living one paycheck shy of financial disaster and one earthquake or tornado away from more serious kinds of disaster.

Every day the smiling blonde ladies on Fox TV News give us their squinty grins and pigeon cooing voices to assure us all is well.

(Sorry Pi, there I go being a male chauvinist again. But truth is truth and the media moguls use stereo types to send subtext messages to the masses: All is well, nothing to see here, go about with your ostrich like behavior, shop, watch TV, be happy: [ i.mage.+])

Sad to say-- but here in America we have gone numb from the 1000's of pictures of devastation in Japan.

Our minds now turn to Bombs over Libya, or some other diversion like the latest round of song giving on the American Idol show.

The image of Zirconium fuel rods burning in cracked bottom swimming pools and of Japanese babies drinking Cesium tainted milk quickly fades from memory.

That's "their" problem.
Got nothing to do with us.
We're America.
We're "exceptional". We've got Rush Limbaugh to save us, /sarcasm, begin CAOL (crying almost out loud)

I'm sorry, but I'm not a documenting type! At the moment I have other fish to fry, as it were.

I used to work in a place that used lots and lots of electricity. It was a huge complex, tons of cement, steel, equipment humming. Lots of paper, lots of pork-barrel stuff. Of course, close to Tokyo, so many things are like that there.

My feeling, my intuition, was that this was very vulnerable. Because it was so wasteful, so extravagent, so artificial, so mindless. I remembered what Tainter said: the costs will surmount the benefits of complexity.

Well, Tainter was right.......

The lack of cheap oil drove people into the arms of the nuclear game and then the lack of cheap oil drove them to do so unsafely.

Energy had a history of being expensive.

The artificially low price attached to a one shot bonanza sets a low price floor none could hope to meet.

That is what is interesting and so scary--it can be so sudden.

The interesting retrospective for someone's Masters dissertation would be going though the 5 years of "this will happen" "no this will happen" claims on TOD and then applying 'em to the present situation.

The claims about the effects on energy to the silicon industry - now being played out in small scale sure does exceed what I figured would happen.

The effects on energy and delivery of food to stores - right in line.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 18, 2011

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 18, 2011 U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending March 18, 167 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 306 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 8.5 million barrels per day, 393 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 695 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 192 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 2.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 352.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 5.3 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories remained unchanged and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.4 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 0.9 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged about 19.3 million barrels per day, down by 0.5 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 9.1 million barrels per day, up by 1.2 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged nearly 3.9 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 3.6 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 4.1 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

And this week's contribution to total stocks by "adjustment" is 2.17 million barrels - that's 310,000 barrels per day turning up from who knows where this week.

Help, I fell down and can’t get up

The ongoing fall in total US oil and product supplies since the start of 2011 continued relentlessly onward last week - falling 3.0 million barrels more after falling 6.9 mb, 6.6 mb, 12.1 mb and 8.4 mb in the four previous weeks. More specifically, gasoline inventories have fallen, on average, about 4 million barrels a week for the last week. That is a steepest decline ever seen at this time of year. The total drop in all oil product inventories for 2011 is nearly 43 million barrels.

To review, the drop in oil product inventories can be attributed to three main reasons: 1. A decline in higher quality oil imports from OPEC nations, causing some refineries to slow operations 2. A higher than average number of refinery maintenance problems 3. Higher net exports of finished oil products (about 600,000 bpd over 2010 levels in recent weeks).

To accommodate a marginally increasing US economy, plus strong export demand for refined products – especially diesel and fuel oil – the US would have to import more oil than it has so far, on average, in 2011.

The decline in OPEC exports to the US, which started 4 months ago now, continues. What may be overlooked by many energy analysts now is while total commercial inventories are about the same as last year, 2010 saw a fairly significant pickup in oil imports through the Spring. That is unlikely to reoccur in 2011, largely due to a significant shift in Persian Gulf exports to points East of there. An astounding 85% of Persian Gulf oil exports are headed East in March, which results in even less oil exports headed West in March than February.

To some extent, western African nations have stepped up their oil exports, but that will only replace a fraction of exports that formerly came from Libya.

When I first started warning about the coming fall in oil product inventories early last December, the possibility of inadequate supplies of gasoline and diesel during 2011 and the resulting catch-up phase resulting in an oil price ‘superspike’ probably seemed as improbable as, well, a coalition of nations going to war against Libya.

Now that Spring has arrived, and the summer ‘driving season’ not too far away, odds are now that the US will have to resort to some type of emergency measures later this year. Probably this will be at first a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Note that despite the general expectation that Japan would use less oil after its recent disasters, Japan has already resorted to releasing about 60 million barrels from its strategic reserve (although that may in part be due to impaired port operations).

This seems to be one of those cases where the rate of change is more significant than the current storage value -- those "upper limit of the average range" notes in the report make things feel secure when perhaps they are not.

I think 2011 will be the year where JIT turns into NQIT (not quite in time). Or maybe WTL (way too late).

If home sales are an indication, the recovery may be losing steam already. High prices may help us squeak by on gas while failing in other areas.

Here is a short video from the BBC about Japan's "new wave of nuclear refugees," and the mostly elderly Japanese who can't or won't evacuate their homes in the Nuclear Exclusion Zone.

At one point in the video, an old man living in the exclusion zone gets a call from his daughter, urging him to leave.

"We're fine here," he says. "We have plenty of food. Your mother sleeps all the time and we still have plenty of Saki."


If it wasn't such a sad event - there are so many stories to tell: The man who drifted away on the roof of his house. The firefighter who decides to enter the rescue team at the Fukushima reactor. The woman who desperately searches for her child in the tsunami's wastelands. That old couple that decides to stay in the exclusion zone. And so on...

Well I guess if it's only medium level radiation and you're already batting above the average life expectancy, then why worry?

Sometimes technocrats can be so brutally unspiritual.
An answer to your question is simply because as the old couple looks out the window they experience feelings.

Not knowing if anyone is coming back again, I'm sure many people are finding themselves in Ghost-towns. I have to imagine that to seniors, this might start feeling as if they'd died early.. or their world just died around them. How do you handle that when you're already well settled into what you prepared to be your last home and community? .. and might have been your lifelong one to boot.

And then, you'd be in a place that might no longer even supply the basics. It wouldn't be cancer you'd worry about but starvation.

I think these are the stories to tell, especially in hard timea, these stories are part of our humanity and add to our resilience.

That old couple that decides to stay in the exclusion zone.

What is the danger level of radiation to the elderly? Is it high, because of poor immune systems, and poor health overall? Or it it small, because they are not likely to live long enough for any newly started cancers to show? And cell division is slower in old people, so maybe cancer takes longer to develop? Does anyone know?

There was some talk about the nuclear plant workers being chosen largely from older workers because the experience from Chernobyl was that the older workers were more likely to end up dying from old age than from cancer because of the time it takes for cancer to develop.

Maybe I missed it, quite possible, and it's already been noted, but there a new report out that identifies a stuck pipe as the reason the blowout preventer failed in the gulf.

The solution is new BOPs that won't allow pipe buckling. It begs a question, what is the real threat to all the already installed BOPS of failure due to similar pipe buckling explosions in the future.

there a new report out that identifies a stuck pipe as the reason the blowout preventer failed in the gulf.

not really 'stuck', but buckled

The pipe buckled in a blast, which prevented the rams from pinching the pipe shut and allowed oil and gas to surge to the surface....

The report recommends the drilling industry examine ways to keep pipes from buckling inside the blowout preventer in the case of a loss of well control.

Amazing how it's the simplest details that catch us out.

It sounds like the pipe buckled in the explosion, (no real surprise), and that the shears must have only worked on a 'nicely centred pipe'

You would have expected the ability to shear a pipe ANYWHERE in the shear aperture, would be part of the basic requirement ?

Radiation's Complications: Pinning Health Problems on a Nuclear Disaster Isn't So Easy

Radioactive fallout seems like the obvious culprit behind the negative medical consequences that arose after the explosion at Chernobyl, but it's hard to measure even the dosage those contaminated received, let alone link it to medical problems

Infant radiation dose over 30 km from plant may be over 100 millisieverts

The radiation dose received by one-year-old infants outside of a 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant since Saturday's explosion at the plant may have exceeded 100 millisieverts, a computer simulation conducted by the government showed Wednesday.

''There are some cases in which they could have received more than 100 millisieverts of radiation, even if they're outside the 30-kilometer radius and in the event that they spent every day outdoors since the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, told reporters, ''The figure represents the level that one-year-old infants would have received and accumulated in their thyroids by midnight Wednesday since the explosion.''

Japan: Squandering the Chance for Orderly Evacuation

Unfortunately, the crisis in not over. Given the uncertainty over future releases, we believe Japan should extend that evacuation zone.

...Our assessment is that the Japanese government is squandering the opportunity to initiate an orderly evacuation from larger areas around the site–especially of sensitive populations, like children and pregnant women. It is potentially wasting valuable time by not undertaking a larger scale evacuation at this time.

This might increase the risk of fatal cancer from something like 40 in 200 to 41 in 200 if the infant had been out of doors all days since the tsunami. That's assuming that the Japanese normal risk of cancer is 1 in 5 like Americans.

There is a real danger of minimizing the seriousness of an issue by using deceptively small numbers. Going from 40 to 41 out of 200 sounds like an unimportant amount. But what does that mean on the real scale of this disaster? (for the record, I have no way of knowing if your estimate is correct or not, I'm just exploring the numbers).

The Tokyo metro area has about 40 million people and if it follows the countries age distribution about 5% of them are 0-4 years old (http://www.nationmaster.com/country/ja-japan/Age-_distribution). That amounts to about 2 million children. Increasing cancer by 1 in 200 people would meant that about 10,000 children currently in Tokyo would get cancer who otherwise would not have.

Is 10,000 additional cancers insignificant?

In this case, 410,000 children instead of 400,000 children would get cancer during their lifetime out of the population of 2,000,000 children. That's assuming that Japanese have a 20% chance of getting cancer per the US statistics. It is a pretty small effect that could likely be offset by persuading them to give up smoking, etc.

The Hiroshima survivors had a greater life expectancy than their cohorts because their health was monitored and they received better care as a special group.

Ever met a survivor from Hiroshima? I have. And if you had I'd suspect you'd be a little less cavalier about their "greater life expectancy."

But as to your numbers - once again you try to minimize the impact, first by throwing around the total numbers as if they were nothing, and then making the totally unrelated comment about smoking (offset? are you serious? lives are "offset"?). which would be true irregardless of the current exposure.

But however you want to carve it up - 10000 people dieing of cancer that wouldn't have otherwise is NOT a "pretty small effect"

During the next 90 or so years when these 10,000 deaths occur, at least 10 billion deaths will occur from all causes.

10,000 bodies spaced at 1 meter intervals would stretch for 10 km.

10,000,000,000 bodies spaced at 1 meter intervals would stretch around the equator 250 times.

I'd like to see you explain that in person to the 10,000 people that will die. I bet they won't see it as "a pretty small effect." You can't just reduce everything to dry numbers and leave out the personal side.

Yep, next he's going to tell us that six million killed in the holocaust is no big deal, because billions of people have been dying since the beginning of time. M has really reached a new moral low here.

This is going to warrant its own discussion! In scanning the report, I'm puzzled at how the annular could be so tight around the drill pipe to cause the pipe to buckle under the viscous force acting on it due to upward flow, when the annular ought to be blocking any upward flow when it is closed so tight.

I'm not so sure they don't have it bassackward. The well started blowing, the crew closed the variable ram with the pipe off-center and then the fire caused the cables supporting the drill pipe to stretch causing the drill pipe to sag and buckle under compression from the top. Then the crew closed the annular with the drill pipe buckled (think to a cocktail straw compressed between your index finger and thumb, it bows out sideways). Two days later, when they used an ROV to close the shear ram, the pipe was off-center and they didn't get a clean cut.

This is going to take more study and thought, but my initial response is to be skeptical of their conclusions.


I agree that the upward flow on open ended drill pipe would not be enough to buckle the pipe inside the BOP. I could see, once the rig moved off location and the riser was being pulled at an unnatural angle, that the pipe being restrained at the upper annular could cause the drill pipe to then buckle.

Certainly an unusual situation, especially as closing the annular has been used as a method of centralizing the pipe in the BOP in normal operation.

It seems Cameron and other BOP makes have a job in front of them.

Toolpush - It seems that the pipe is buckled between the variable bore ram and the annular. IIRC the sequence of actions taken by the crew was to first shut the VBR. The pipe was found off-center in the VBR so it was caught between the "vise jaws", not in the V-shaped section. With the rig on fire they would have lost dynamic positioning. So maybe the chain of events would go something like this.

1) Rig lost dynamic positioning and resultant drift of the rig pre-bent the drill pipe.
2) Crew activates the VBR clamping the DP off-center with the "vise jaws' of the VBR held approximately 5-1/2" apart. Well keeps flowing up riser.
3) Crew activates the annular which tries to center the DP thereby producing the buckled section between the annular and the VBR. The annular fails to close off the riser, so the crew increases the pressure to the annular to attempt to shut in the well. It reaches its final closed tight position.
3A) Somewhere along about here, things start crashing down from aloft. The well can continue to flow up inside the DP as flow up the riser is impeded.
4) The crew attempts to disconnect and activate the shear ram but the connection from the rig to the BOP was destroyed by the explosions and the attempt fails.
5) Two days later, the ROV activates the shear ram, but the rig sinks anyway.


Here's my summation of what I read in the report.

A modeling endeavor was undertaken to determine how much lateral force was required to buckle the drill pipe within the wellbore. The model assumed the Upper Annular was closed and prevented upward movement of drill pipe due to tool joint. Also, the Upper VBR was closed and prevented radial movement of pipe. The pipe length was 27.3 ft. The model found a compressive axial load of 113,568 lb would cause buckling such that shear ram would not be able to fully close. This is because non-cutting corner portion of shear ram would contact pipe and be unable to cut thru.

Then bullets are listed as contributions to axial compressive force. These include upward friction force from the flow inside the drill pipe, upward buoyancy force on the drill pipe, upward force from reservoir pressure in excess of buoyancy acting on drill pipe, downward gravity force on the drill pipe and downward friction force on the outside of the drill pipe from seal at the VBR.

Then they just say this force was present based on calculations.

Now, here are some of their conclusions about pipe in wellbore.
-The Upper Annular was closed during negative pressure test 30 minutes before blowout indications
-The Upper VBRs and ST Locks were closed. ROV's did not close and report claims they were closed before EDS activation
-tool joint was located between Upper Annular and Upper VBR

Let's compare that to what we find in the OSC's Chief Counsel's Report 2011 pg 196-198 which gives us some time stamps.

9:41 Crew activates lower annular (or maybe the upper annular per TO's revised testimony, but only to 1200 psi)
9:46 Crew signals VBR to activate
9:49 First explosion from Engine
9:56 Crew attempts to activate the Emergency Disconnect System and it fails to operate.

I understand there is some time delay for a ram to activate, so the actual closing of the VBR may be a bit later than 9:46

There is a lot of evidence the engines were over-revving before the explosion, so the increased engine speed would have defeated both the governor and any dynamic positioning control inputs to slow down. The increased engine speed would have pushed the rig off-center above the BOP causing the riser to bend. So Toolpush's hypothesis is plausible.

1,200 psi is not enough pressure to achieve shut-in. See pg 198

"Data on the drill pipe pressure indicate that the annular preventer did not achieve shut-in pressure. Only 1,200 psi registered, well below what would have been required. Later, the drill pipe pressure climbed above 5,500 psi. That appears to have been due to either tightening of the annular or to activation of the variable bore ram."

Since the VBR was found to have been activated, it seems that the time it got to maximum closure was when the pipe pressure hit 5,500 psi. Was that before or after the engines began over-revving?

The report states at 9:47, the pressure rapidly increased from 1200 psig to 5730 psig. Then it mentions the first explosion at 9:49. Also, the time to close VBR is unanswered. This is kind of peculiar because report did state blind shear ram (BSR) closes in 25 seconds.

We do know that there was some period of time when the engines were still running before the explosion took place. Given the massive inertia and viscous drag an a mile of suspended riser, a quickly accelerating rig will induce a bending moment with the sharpest radius up top. I'd visualize a pole vaulter's pole bending at the box by the pit. Down in the BOP the drill pipe will be swung to the side opposite the direction of travel of the rig, so when the VBR closes, the DP is off-center preventing the VBR from closing completely, as shown by the forensic evidence. To get to 5730 psig you need a considerable dynamic head loss in addition to the hydrostatic head loss given the riser is blowing gas at the surface, so something closed at 9:47!

Haliburton look culpable.

Didn't they move out of the US of A? So what if they are, who's gonna sue 'em and where are they gonna get a judgement?

Regardless of what you think of Rachel Maddow - one way or another - she referenced this report last night and dedicated two segments - about 20 minutes - in the context of the Dept of Interior issuing new drilling permits apparently the most recent - fifth in the last 25 days - on the same day this report came out.

First of two segments - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#42260648

Perhaps it is worth the while to wade through her often "over the top" style in order to submit the alleged "facts" to ToD scrutiny.

One point she made was to focus on all the hype from the DoI about how the industry had improved the safety of deep water drilling (in the GoM) thus - implying - it's okay to let these new permits. In light of this she also pointed out (eventually - be patient) that the on-file "spill plan" from Nobel Energy (first of the five permits) secured from DoI is dated September 2009.

The second segment is with Bob Cavnar where they essentially discuss the real changes (according to him) that have been made (and not made). So, again ToD scrutiny would seem to be in order.



PS - I actually like Maddow for the most part. Don't hold it against me.

I happened to catch those last night. I was impressed she even brought up the subject. Worth watching, IMO.

At least somebody is becoming concerned about salt buildup in the reactors

New Problems at Japanese Plant Subdue Optimism

Western nuclear engineers have become increasingly concerned about a separate problem that may be putting pressure on the Japanese technicians to work faster: salt buildup inside the reactors, which could cause them to heat up more and, in the worst case, cause the uranium to melt, releasing a range of radioactive material.

Richard T. Lahey Jr., who was General Electric’s chief of safety research for boiling-water reactors when the company installed them at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said that as seawater was pumped into the reactors and boiled away, it left more and more salt behind.

He estimates that 57,000 pounds of salt have accumulated in Reactor No. 1 and 99,000 pounds apiece in Reactors No. 2 and 3, which are larger.

Since one gallon of seawater contains about 1/4 pound of salt, reactor one has evaporated about 228,000 gallons of seawater (using the above figures), 2 and 3 about 396,000 gallons. Apologies for the US scales; too tired to do the math. One wonders how dudes arrived at these figures. WAGs, IMO..

He estimates that 57,000 pounds of salt have accumulated in Reactor No. 1 and 99,000 pounds apiece in Reactors No. 2 and 3, which are larger.

Perhaps, but that seems to assume all the sea water evaporates.

There really is not enough steam coming off, for that to be true.

Most of sea water, will be the 'run off' that no one wants to even mention right now.

The Diablo You Don't Know...

On YouTube:


On the Rachel Maddow Show site:


Why aren't we seeing special investigative reports on CNN or Fox News along these lines to follow up on this short teaser?

Are there still shows such as 20/20 or 60 Minutes or have they all given way to American Idol etc?

President Obama could use this nuclear disaster in-progress to speak from the bully pulpit and force an adult energy/sustainability conversation on us U.S. Americans...if he weren't busy with Libya and if he weren't so darn afraid of being unpopular/not being re-elected.

He should finish his term as a hero and go on a 'tell it to us like it is' spree...every day...until he is replaced by Pawlenty or Barbour or Romney or whomever. In this age of InterFaceTubes_Twitter-blogs, the message would go viral and stay out there, even if he was canned...the next President would have to address the issues, no matter what party he/she represents.

But...what we will get is more war, more enormous defense budgets, more undulating plateau of energy supply and prices, and more denial...

have they all given way to American Idol?

I have to confess that I gave in to my inner Diablo and watched AI last night (American Idiocracy)

Sometimes the pain of reality is just too much and digression into TV fantasy land is a welcomed relief valve: [ i.mage.+]

Since president Obama favors nuclear fission power, do not expect him to alter his position. He thinks nuclear power is part of a sustainable energy future.

Fukushima Reactor Emitting More Radiation than Believed - Expert Sees Medical Benefits

Stanley Kotex, a senior nuclear engineer at San Narciso-based Yoyodyne and former Tea Party candidate for Congress, addressed the City Council for a second time to downplay these concerns -- and tout the increased exposure as a potential cure for cancer.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot

(c) 2010 - Bret Bass. All stories published on this site are works of satire and parody.

You spoiled it for everyone now :-)

Republicans want to change Pi to 3 instead of 3.14159...


I cannot believe it.

OK, where's the tongue-in-cheek? It's in the comedy section. As nuts as they are, I don't think they'd try that now. At least not yet.

I thought I would pull a fast one for a laugh, since the other comedy post was up there. Made me laugh.

They do intend to Trim our slice of the Pie, it would seem..

Apparently they have now tried to float a bill that restricts your ability to receive foodstamps if you participate in a strike.


GOP Measure Would Deny Food Stamps for Striking Employees

A group of House Republicans is quietly pushing a measure that would deny food stamps to any household with a family member involved in a workplace strike. According to the website, Think Progress, House Resolution 1135 would bar food stamps to any family where one adult member is involved in a strike against an employer.

It's just until morale improves, of course.

Sounds useful. A law to starve people that are already hungry.

..and notice it restricts the whole household, if even one adult is on strike..

I guess the real message is; No Pie? 'Let them eat cake.'

Sounds nice and tough, until you remember that what follows it is tougher.

Our 'TP' Gov'ner is now trying to have the Labor Murals removed from the walls of the State Dept of Labor. I think the Chavez picture has been winking at him..

He's all about the 'eye-poke'.. probably been waiting for it for a long time. He grew up hearing that liberals are soft and don't hit back.. tick, tick, tick..

At least not yet.

Just wait until the presidential primary season gets into full swing. Then they will be trying to outdo each other in nuttiness.

112th CONGRESS, 1st Session, H.R. 205

To amend the Act titled `An Act to authorize the leasing of restricted Indian lands for public, religious, educational, recreational, residential, business, and other purposes requiring the grant of long-term leases', approved August 9, 1955, to provide for Indian tribes to enter into certain leases without prior express approval from the Secretary of the Interior.

It was a fun read though ;-)

""The 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension used the name, as Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, for a defense contractor whose corporate offices feature the sign, "Where the future begins tomorrow." Yoyodyne is a front for a group of red Lectroid aliens, all with the first name John, that landed in New Jersey in 1938, using the panic created by Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio play as cover.""

Stanley "KOTEX" hahahahahahhahahahahah.

The Martian

He can't possibly work for Yoyodyne, his first name isn't John.

Saudi to boost crude burn for power generation in 2011

Saudi oil industry figures showed the kingdom estimated direct use of fuel for power generation to rise to 540,000 bpd this year from 403,000 bpd last year.

Power generation capacity in the kingdom is likely to grow by about 6 to 10 percent this year, while installed power generation capacity, which now stands at 50 GW, would grow to 77 GW by 2020.

Using more crude to generate electricity allows the kingdom to utilise fresh output from a major new oilfield while holding firm to its OPEC commitments to curb exports. It also helps the kingdom meet stricter environment rules.

How's that for spin. They use oil from a new field to generate power, otherwise it would be dumped on the world market and they would no longer hold firm their commitment to curb exports. And of course they are gravely concerned about the environment so they burn more crude in power plants. How does this help you may ask? Well, I am not really sure but they said it so it must be true.

Ron P.

It could also be that this oil from the new field is very heavy/sour/wet/dirty, and by using it all themselves, they don't have to put any on the market, and thus avoiding more questions about their future as a supplier.

The fact that the sulphur will straight up doesn;t seem to concern them - it will come down as acid rain somewhere else that actually gets rain.

They use oil from a new field to generate power,

And how many people are gonna be in favor of KSA getting fission power plants to meet that need?

(Fission - its only for the "right" kind of people)

Commodities still creeping up:

Crude Oil 106.50 + 0.71%
Natural Gas 4.39 + 1.34%
Gasoline 3.02 +0.12%
Heating Oil 3.05 +0.12%
Gold 1438.24 + 0.01%
Silver 37.68 + 0.69%
Copper 4.41 - 0.29%

Gold, Silver Prices Break Out As Political Unrest Spreads

Equities up as well:

World stocks up despite woes


The UK Just Sent An Ominous Warning To The US About Inflation And The Consumer

Nowhere to go but up, except for...

Portuguese government falls after austerity vote

Portugal’s prime minister resigned Wednesday after Parliament rejected his plan to impose further austerity on the debt-laden country, leaving a power vacuum in Lisbon and casting doubt on the European Union’s efforts to control a persistent sovereign-debt crisis.

Saying he couldn’t govern without support, Prime Minister Jose Socrates handed in his resignation Wednesday evening, shortly after the vote in Parliament.

“Today, I am convinced the country lost,” Socrates was quoted as saying by Dow Jones Newswires.

The gold market really reacted to Portugal. People must be worried about the Euro once more.

Well...we've been talking about the feedback loop of high oil prices creating high prices for food, like wheat, which then create trouble in poor, oil exporting countries.


Worst Texas Drought in 44 Years Hits U.S. Wheat, Beef Supply

Saw that earlier, there are several other factors working besides a Texas drought.

I've mentioned cattle inventories quite a few times. An ongoing problem, with everyone cutting their herd. By last September, it was evident we'd have the smallest herd since '58. This was due primarily to the fact of record low number of heifers nationally held for replacement. Read low cattle prices vs high feed cost.

Same for the grain supplies. Barring the huge plantings of 2007, acreage planted for wheat has been steadily declining, whereas corn has been increasing. Do the math. Say an ave national corn yield of 150 bu/ac, wheat yield about 44 bu/ac. Call an ave corn price $4.50, wheat $6.00. No, it's not all that's involved, but it has steered the trends.

I just payed $700 for heating oil!
I'm glad this winter is over.

I have propane (correct spelling: proPAIN), and I feel your pain, however, in a rare moment of lucidity, I decided last summer to take advantage of the tax credits for efficient furnaces and had my 25 year old furnace replaced by a "96% efficient" condensing furnace. Initially I was not happy, because it is much noisier than the old unit, especially outside where it vents, but after our -25F week and other relatively cold weather, my proPAIN delivery was about half what I figured it would have been with the old furnace. And I got the tax credit on top of that.

Score one for governmental incentives for saving several hundred gallons of proPAIN (so far), and saving me a ton of cash, which I can then turn around and use to stimu....wait, put under the mattress. It will make for good insulation when the crap really hits the fan and proPAIN is $20 a gallon.

The pellet stove ran for two weeks straight during that cold snap, which helped tremendously, also.

Honestly, if not for the tax credit, I would not have installed a new furnace this year. The government made me do it. A successful government program!

Good to hear.

My parents sold there house and had to put in a new furance due to CO leaks. So they wanted to put in el cheapo -- no efficiency -- the furnance that you swipe your credit card in to run ;-)

The service guy said, "No". LOL. We do not have those anymore. We only have the ultra-efficient one that you get the tax credit from.

My Dad said his NG bill dropped like a shot.

He actually is very Republican so I was just giggling at him actually believing that efficiency pays.

He railed against it all my life as a waste of money.

Yes, too bad the D!pSH!ts stopped the program.

My wife and I looked at a 95% condensing furnace in December, but we stopped short since we would also have to get a whole-house tankless water heater (the contractors could not join the metal flue of the present water heater to the PVC flue of the new furnace, and window/door/run length code restrictions prevented other options.

Now we don't have an option to get a tax credit...because we needed more than 2 weeks to make a logical decision and shop around.

Same with new windows...last years' tax credits over and done with, and just a pittance left now.

I will wait until the government decides to move some money from 'Defense' to subsidizing energy efficiency improvements.

Yeah man this is nuts the way subsidies come and go. No market stability. And these improvements are way better than blowing funds on Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Maybe JIT will slow down the military as well. LOL. They need Japan -- don't they?

Magnitude 7 quake Burma/Myanmar (preliminary) seems very deep though (140 miles estimate). Edit: Depth updated to 10km (6.2 miles by USGS). That's a huge change.


OPEC may raise supply in June amid Libya crisis, PFC says

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will give its most serious consideration to a formal supply increase during a meeting in June since announcing record production cuts in 2008, said PFC Energy.

In June they are going to talk about raising production to offset the production lost to the Libyan conflict. And you can rest assured that they will give it the most serious consideration. Whew, what a relief.

The IEA defines spare capacity as the capacity that can be reached within 30 days and sustained for 90 days. Well you can forget about the "30 days" part of that definition. With the price of oil north of $105 a barrel and already having a serious affect on the economy OPEC will, in June, give serious consideration to increasing output.

I have always hated cynicism, but damn I find myself becoming more of a cynic every day. These OPEC clowns could turn anyone into a cynic.

Ron P.

They are stalling because OPEC does not have the ability to increase production.

Doomsday Bunker Sales Up

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A devastating earthquake strikes Japan. A massive tsunami kills thousands. Fears of a nuclear meltdown run rampant. Bloodshed and violence escalate in Libya.

And U.S. companies selling doomsday bunkers are seeing sales skyrocket anywhere from 20% to 1,000%.

Northwest Shelter Systems, which offers shelters ranging in price from $200,000 to $20 million, has seen sales surge 70% since the uprisings in the Middle East, with the Japanese earthquake only spurring further interest.


Yikes !

Which goes to show there are still a lot of people with more money than - er - common sense. How many urban farms could they pay for ?

I always wonder what the 950 people in each shelter imagine they would do after the year is up, and they have to re-integrate back into the "Apocalypse" ?

New use for disused oil rigs - drilling out the shelters.


Evacuation Ordered at Japan Plant as Workers Burned by Radiation

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Engineers at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant were evacuated from one reactor after three men suffered radiation burns, the second retreat from the location in as many days.

The injured workers were contaminated with up to 180 millisieverts of radiation, close to the recommended limit, after working in water 30 centimeters deep while laying a power cable. Two of the workers were hospitalized with beta radiation burns on their feet after water had seeped into their boots. Dangerous radiation levels, fires and explosions at four of the six reactors have hampered repair work since a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out the electricity.

“We’re trying to prevent further deterioration as well as restore the power,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said yesterday in Tokyo. “We cannot let our guard down.”

Good Grief. I work alot with old leaky boots, but I sure wouldn't go traipsing into that mess without tested clothing....

"We cannot let our guard down" Really?

"Two of the workers were hospitalized with beta radiation burns on their feet after water had seeped into their boots." sure sounds preventable.

"Tokyo Electric will stop workers from conducting similar work that led to yesterday’s accident, said Sakae Moto, a company vice president." Maybe there's a little more to the story.

I think the report raises more questions than it answers to be honest. Exactly what concentrations of what were in that water? And, as you say, surely they couldn't have sent them in that badly protected?

Exactly what concentrations of what were in that water? And, as you say, surely they couldn't have sent them in that badly protected?

Badly protected in every sense.

Here are some snippets from a Kyodo News article on the subject (I'm posting more than I probably should. Please read the entire article here.

...The technicians [men in their 20s and 30s] were wearing nonwoven protective suits of U.S. chemical firm DuPont Co.'s Tyvek brand, full-face masks and rubber gloves, but the two later hospitalized were not wearing boots...

...Radiation at the surface of the puddle stood at 400 millisieverts per hour, while the amount in the air reached 200 millisieverts per hour...

...TEPCO said Wednesday there was no puddle at the site and the radiation level was just around a few millisieverts per hour. The workers did not measure the radiation amount before starting the cable-laying work on Thursday, it said...

...The radiation levels the three were exposed to this time are lower than the maximum limit...
...The accumulative amounts of radiation to which they have been exposed are also below this criteria, TEPCO said...

...With the latest exposure cases, the number of TEPCO workers who have been exposed to radiation exceeding 100 millisieverts at the plant comes to 17, the operator said. None of them have been exposed to radiation exceeding a cumulative 250 millisieverts, the [Nuclear and Industrial Safety] agency said.

Let's see... Worker steps in puddle with high radiation level and gets burned... TEPCO says there is no puddle and radiation level is low... Someone's lying, not likely the worker who had to be taken to the hospital. I dare the TEPCO executives to step in the non-existent low-radiation puddle!

The Japanese Nuclear Power Crisis Deepens

The truth is, Japan’s nuclear crisis is far from over. Not buying it? Here’s the evidence:

Check out http://ourfiniteworld.com/2011/03/24/is-loss-of-electricity-a-risk-for-s... .

I fear that this may come to pass: At some future date in this century, electricity generation becomes sporadic. Government/military officials, fearing vaporization of soon-to-be dry & overheating spent fuel, motor it out to some deep oceanic trench & drop it overboard.

My question: I haven’t had time to go into the possible biogeochemistry results of this (not totally unlikely) ocean-ditching ‘experiment’, but could anyone with expertise postulate the possible/likely results over various time-scales (years/decades/centuries/millenia/etc.)

My mind reels & my heart aches with what this civilization may look like as it unravels.

Historically, the Soviet Union and Russia have disposed of radioactive waste in three ways: by dumping it into the Baltic and Arctic Seas as well as into the northern Pacific (primarily the Sea of Japan); by placing it in storage sites on the Kola Peninsula in the Russian North, and on the Shkotovo and Kamchatka Peninsulas in the Russian Far East; and by holding radioactive waste on storage ships servicing the Northern and Pacific fleets.

According to one source, the Navy had dumped 12 damaged submarine reactors, five of which still contained fuel, into the Kara Sea and areas near Novaya Zemlya. In addition, three damaged reactors from an icebreaker and nearly 17,000 containers of radioactive waste was dumped into the Barents and Kara Seas.

...According to the Yablokov Report [White Book], the Soviet Union had been dumping radioactive waste into the seas since 1959. The last known incident of dumping at sea by the Russian Navy occurred in 1993, when approximately 900 tons of liquid radioactive waste were dumped into the Sea of Japan.


Some opinions here about What's next for nuclear power.

This one got my attention.

Those of a certain age may remember Stewart Brand as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the counterculture bible that first appeared in 1968. It's the only catalogue ever to win the National Book Award. Brand is also co-founder of the consultancy GBN and the author of Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, in which he outlines his support for nuclear power as a vital weapon in the war against climate change.

Brand minimizes and rationalizes the impact of the Japanese Fukushima disaster then includes this in his conclusion:

So I was glad to read that even after what's happened in Japan, China and India remain committed to nuclear power. ...

Not one mention of the obscene waste problem. I guess he has faith that these over-populated, under-resourced developing countries will be motivated or even able to deal this ever-increasing legacy of doom.

Calling you out, Mr. Brand; Ecopragmatist Ecodenialist. Shame on you!

[goes out to put his copy of the Whole Earth Catalog in the compost pile.]

Stewart Brand, IMHO, left the path of wisdom many years ago. He styles himself a biologist/ecologist, but he's really a technocornucopian, and has been since the mid-70's.

I remember in the mid-70's he was touting Space Colonies along with Gerard K. O'Neill as a panacea for just about every environmental problem on Earth. Over 3 issues in his magazine at the time, the CoEvolution Quarterly, he had an open-letter exchange with Wendell Berry. WB indicated his extreme disappointment with SB's pollyannish boosterism of Space Colonies, and SB revealed himself to be a not-so-deep thinker after all.

I was very disappointed in him as well. I think part of his boosterism for nukes in the past few years is that he simply likes to appear contrarian just to twit the enviros. Whatever - I don't pay any attention to him any more.

techno-cornucopianism I think strikes people in two ways: one, people who really don't understand the real world of high technology, its toxic wastes, short life span disposable components, energy demands to provide always on google etc. I see especially a lot of second rate academics fall for this, and other catch terms like 'open source', without really having any actual understanding of what these things mean.

The other side is serious tech people, who I think have worked with computers and their virtual realities, where life occurs via lines of programming code and the output is something on a screen, basically. This type of virtual interaction does something wrong in their brains, especially among those who have been in that world since adolescence, and I think they actually start to think that the real world is the same as the virtual one, where you can change things around just be generating some code and popping it onto some server farms, or whatever. Techno-libertarians are a similar offshoot, equally annoying in their virtually complete ignorance of history, politics, or economics.

I've seen a lot of these types over the years, they are all fairly similar, it's hard to say which branch is more annoying, the totally ignorant ones, or the brain damaged ones that actually know almost nothing about the real world, asbergers types to varying degrees of severity.

I think the bottom line is a simple refusal to admit that we can't keep growing, and that our current consumption levels not only cannot be sustained, they should not be sustained, since the cost to the ecosystem is simply too high. Nuke proponency to me is just the last gasp of the attempt to sustain the unsustainable, desperate, ill advise, but very understandable when you consider people think the world they had as kids is the actual world that should be conserved and maintained. Works fine normally in stable situations and societies, not so well in situations, like ours, where boom/non sustainable growth hits limits requiring actual core changes in deeply held value systems to adapt to the emerging new realities, which themselves have been formed by our present value systems.

I know many people in the IT world. A lot of these folks really do seem to confuse the "virtual" with the "actual".

Show some respect. Virtual is simply Meta-Actual!

I think the bottom line is a simple refusal to admit that we can't keep growing, and that our current consumption levels not only cannot be sustained, they should not be sustained, since the cost to the ecosystem is simply too high.

Right on - yet, its not just the ecosystem that suffers. We suffer as individuals. We suffer the hollowing out of our identity (becoming consumers). We suffer from the loss or over-simplification of our spirituality. We suffer through the exaggeration (to the point of being warped) of certain aspects of our personalities (e.g., the asberger like behavior you note in our tech world, the greed and selfishness of our business world). We suffer through the disruption of our social world and communities.

I could go on, but I risk falling off my soapbox.

Space colonies....I realized that was pie-in-the-sky by about age 12.

We only get one Earth...colonizing the stars is utter rubbish.

Even if it was, we would rapidly reach a new population crisis/overshoot limit....just read 'Fecundity Unlimited', an article by Issac Asimov.

Back to the 'One Earth' reality...a good step now would be a gradual, prioritized decommissioning of fission power plants and an accompanying Power-Down through doing less with less and through efficiency gains...keep Jevons at bay with commensurate energy tax increases.

Ouch! I actually have two copies of the Whole Earth Catalog in our library. This makes me see it in a different light.

OPEC Supply Falls to Six-Month Low on Libya, Oil Movements Says

Shipments will fall to 23.03 million barrels a day in the four weeks to April 9, down 1.8 percent from 23.46 million in the period to March 12, the consultant said in a report today. The data exclude Ecuador and Angola. Exports from West Africa to Europe and the U.S. will jump as refiners seek to replace disrupted Libyan shipments, the company said.

“It’s a precipitous drop,” Oil Movements founder Roy Mason said by phone from Halifax, England. “Market tightness will get worse through the spring as refiners are coming out of maintenance now and their capacity is going up.”

Hey folks this is big. It tells us just how much Saudi and other OPEC nations have increased production to offset the drop in Libyan production.

Oil movements were 24.03 mb/d for the four weeks ending February 5th and then reached a recent high of 24.19 mb/d for the four weeks ending February 12th. They are down over 1 million barrels per day from then.

Ron P.

And how did the 1 million barrel per day loss effect the US?
When will Libya go back on line? 3 months?

Well it's not down 1 million barrels per day from the average, only from the recent peak. It is down about .6 to .7 mb/d from the average. When will Libya be back up to last year's levels? No one knows but I seriously doubt it will be in 3 months. A year or more would be a good guess. But when the fighting stops they will begin to ramp back up but it will take some time.

How will it affect the US? What it will do is cause the price of oil to inch higher, or stay at this elevated level a while longer.

Ron P.

Indeed this is big. 'Oil Movements' says average shipments for the month February were 24.01 million, and went slightly higher early in February as Ron P. says. So we are down 1.1 million bpd from the recent high.

KSA actually slightly reduced exports from mid-January to mid-March - contrary to what almost every single media report implied in that time period.

The surprising part about this report is that Saudi Arabia and west Africa actually did increase exports in late March and arrangements have been made for that increase to continue into the first few days of April. Based upon other shipping reports, the surge from KSA and west Africa was concentrated in a narrow time frame, and is now receding. This appears to be confirmed by OM, which is projecting a falloff in OPEC shipments as April progresses.

To be blunt, I haven't seen one energy analyst predict an OPEC export market this weak. Also, other than myself, I haven't seen one person put forth an opinion about the impact of 85% of Persian Gulf exports in March headed East. That rate of exports going to the East is continuing to hold up in shipping plans through April 9.


No one is talking in these terms. Frankly, I've been shocked at the lack of discussion regarding the unloading of floating storage during 2010. It's pretty simple math to see that's a problem. That's a big problem. All that floating storage, gone.

Further, Iran seized an opportunity in the chaos of Egypt and Libya to unload most of its floating storage in the Mediterranean that it held offshore Iran from about mid-2010.

There is still some minor amount of floating storage around, but nothing like there was available last Spring 2010.

Measurements of winter Arctic sea ice show continuing ice loss, says CU-Boulder study

The CU-Boulder research team believes the lowest annual maximum ice extent of 5,650,000 square miles occurred on March 7. The maximum ice extent was 463,000 square miles below the 1979-2000 average, an area slightly larger than the states of Texas and California combined. The 2011 measurements were tied with those from 2006 as the lowest maximum sea ice extents measured since satellite record keeping began in 1979.

The seven lowest maximum Arctic sea ice extents measured by satellites all have occurred in the last seven years, said CU-Boulder Research Scientist Walt Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who participated the latest study. "I'm not surprised by the new data because we've seen a downward trend in winter sea ice extent for some time now."

From: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

Canadians will likely be in the thick of an election this weekend as tomorrow the government of Stephen Harper faces a non-confidence motion in the House of Commons. This will be the fourth general election in under seven years. It should be interesting to see how much public fatigue is out there this time round.

Energy is part of the equation. Tories, Quebec ink oil exploration deal

The Conservatives are getting rid of a long-standing irritant with the Quebec government just days before an expected election call, signing a deal that opens the door to oil exploration in the St. Lawrence and fuels hopes for economic development in poor parts of the province.

The agreement to be unveiled on Thursday in Gatineau, Que., will lead to exploration for billions of barrels of oil and natural gas in the Old Harry field in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which straddles Quebec’s boundary with Newfoundland


The site is considered the largest untapped hydrocarbon reserve in Eastern Canada and a boon for Quebec’s cash-strapped and heavily indebted government.

Quebec Minister of Natural Resources Nathalie Normandeau said last fall that the Old Harry site represented an estimated two billion barrels of oil and perhaps as much as five trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Four in seven years - we are getting close to Italian standards!

As is started to read that thing on Quebec I thought they were getting rid of the Quebec government.
As for that oil, yes,better get it out of there before Quebec separates.

Four in seven years - we are getting close to Italian standards!

Harper get some political tips from Berlusconi? hmmmm... on second thought, scrap that idea...

should be interesting to see how much public fatigue is out there this time round.

Who are these morons that are sooooo inconvenienced by an election every other year. What, they can't be bothered to take about 30 minutes out of that precious single day in 730 to vote? Do they prefer dictator wannabe Harper to vote on their behalf? I haven't met any such people and to me it looks like the "fatigue of the electorate" is propaganda BS of the neocon media (the liberal media doesn't exist). BTW, the election cost harping is also a total crock. Let's not spend the 10 billion dollars for the new gulag network in Canada for "unreported crimes" and we can afford the elections and some spending or tax cuts as well.

dissident, I sympathize with your sentiments. Governments are formed when they can command the confidence of the house - and Harper has browbeat the opposition for long enough, so IMHO its long overdue for the writ to be dropped.

Minority governments have been the norm in Canada since the turn of the millennium although you and I and Paul and others can remember those decades when we went to the polls two or three times at most. This doesn't surprise me. Not long ago, there was gentleman-like civility among party leaders and MPs were held in respect for their decorum in debate. The balkanization of party politics, the bitter internal rivalry between Chrétien and Martin factions inside the Liberal Party, and the pathological partisanship and neo-con leanings of the current Prime Minister have rendered this Italianesque condition BAU.

Speaking as one with leanings to the Red Tory tradition, I rued the day that the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance merged. The way I see it, the neo-cons usurped the Canadian Tory legacy and stole the mantle. It's interesting that since 2003 when the merger took place the new Conservative Party has never matched the combined voting strengths of the former parties on the right. Simply, many traditional Tories no longer vote or, if they do, hold their noses and vote for parties on the left.

Is there bias in the media? All I can say is that, for the moment, it certainly isn't a liberal one. Not CBC nor CTV nor Global seem the least bit interested in pressing the government on the 'contempt of parliament' issue. I guess they are eager for ratings so they prefer for the parties to fight it out rather than being branded "partisan" or "biased" by the ruling Conservatives. Regardless, the good news (at least from my perspective) is that election regulations will soon kick in and the disproportionate and omnipresent attack ads by the Conservatives will have to be curtailed and there should be a semblance of balance in the days ahead.

dissident, take heart. Some politicians are simply lucky - they are in the right place and the right time. Harper, to date, has not been one of them. The 2008 election took place because Harper saw the polling numbers and pulled the plug b/c he was sure the time was right for a much sought-after majority. Then midway through the campaign the wheels came off the world economy. Historically, elections have been unpredictable phenomenon in Canada and events on the ground have lead to surprising results. I don't have a crystal ball and don't want to wager any bets except to say, 'it aint over til the fat lady sings.'


Finally some good news, JAIF reports: Containment Vessel Integrity number 3, NOT DAMAGED.

I could believe them, if they have tested and evaluated that, a quite easy check, pressure is 1.1 AtmABS and which would be tight if stable. But Fukushima is still a dangerous mess, just a little bit less so.

And some bad info, but what did you expect:

NISA reports now radiation levels from the reactors:
Drywell: tens of Sv/h (yes in the tens of Sieverts)
Wetwell (Torus or Suppression Chamber) approx 1 or a few Sv/h.

It is good to have the info published at least. From the wetwell, that is what goes out with any smoke or steam leaking, from there. Not all smoke seen must come from there. How much per day?
Normally filtered, if some of that system still functions...

I want to know the contamination levels in the released steam, which is not what the radiation levels give us.

Here's wishing for some information useful to anyone who doesn't need to be there.

To be honest, there is no one person on Earth today that know that right now.
1) how much steam leaks per hour from how many of the reactors/pools?
1.b) how much cooling water?
2) what does this steam/water contain for isotopes?
3) where does it end up?
No answers.

The smartest might be to sample and check what is the trend in the results - up down or stable? I hope slowly down.

Likely answers

1) Little to none. The pressure vessels have integrity and their pressures are well below their normal operating pressure. It takes a pressure differential to drive a leak and at times the pressure in some of the RPVs has been below atmospheric (i.e. a vacuum) which would leak air into the RPV rather than steam outward.
2) The steam from the pools does not currently contain much in the way of radioisotopes. The boiling point of iodine is 363.7 F http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine and that of Cesium is 1240 F http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesium. Since the pools are open to the atmosphere, the boiling point of water is 212 F (100C), so the water is below the boiling point of both. This is quite different from the time when the rods were at least partially exposed and the temperature rose above 1240 F. So, when there existed a "fire" in the spent fuel pools there was a radioactive plume with both Iodine and Cesium. Once the fuel rod temperature dropped below 1240 F, it would be Iodine only. When the temperature dropped below 363.7 F, it would not be radioactive. The remaining liquid water, would contain both Iodine and Cesium, as evidenced by the burned feet of those two workers who stepped in a spill from the pool. The good news there is that the pool has to be full to overflow!

That Austrian government report claiming Cesium is circulating around the globe was true only for the days during the fires in the pools and during the steam/hydrogen releases from the RPVs. It is not true for recent days when the fires had been put out and the RPVs have not been vented.

Well, Bruce,

When I write "know" I mean "know" and not your speculations above. We have speculated enough the last days, see all threads.

Nonsense: "little to none" steam. So you are telling me that my poor eyes are lying when I look on the webcam from the site. Abre los ojos, compadre.
Nonsense: like if there are no water leaks - so why did those workers yesterday get burned feet from standing in water (reactor 3 building)? Yeah sure, Bruce, tell THEM two that there are no leaks.

Sure, if the temperature measured, on the water of the reactor, is say 150 C (is that some 300F?) then at that point, no cesium is BOILED off. But that tells me absolutely nothing of what is happening 2 m higher up on a fuel rod, perhaps exposed to oxygen and heating a lot more. Further you have certainly from the spent fuel a complete mix of isotopes. When these goes into the water from the fire trucks sprayed, also resulting in steam, well there can be significant emissions of some real nasty isotopes.

When I said "little to none" it was in answer to the question as to whether the current flow of steam coming off the spent fuel pool was radioactive. The answer to that is still that there is "little to none" radioisotopes in steam at 212 F (100C). You also have confused steam coming off the open to the atmosphere pools and steam from within the reactor. You cannot get 150C steam at atmospheric pressure, which is a defining point of the Celsius temperature scale. You are not merely speculating, you are factually incorrect as evidenced by centuries of the global usage of the Celsius temperature scale. As I discussed above, the reactor pressure vessels are demonstrating integrity.

What you need to do is pull your head out of your ass, amigo!

Latest info being broadcast on NHK is that containment is likely breeched to some extent for reactors 1 and 2 (500 milisieverts/hr in vicinity of reactor 2 now re-confirmed by TEPCO) and that the water that burns feet was likely from reactor 3 and not its spent fuel pool (they know that because the iodine-131 and caesium-141 (yes he said 141 unless he made a mistake or I misheard - could have been 140) content is too high to have come from the pool). Although the "containment vessel" itself is said to be intact for 3 - the piping isn't.

This info from recent TEPCO press conference and being reported by NHK as of time of posting. New video just released by TEPCO shows steam coming from No 3. spent fuel pool and the reactor.

Nuclear agency: No. 3 reactor may be leaking

Japan's nuclear safety agency says it is highly likely that radioactive materials are leaking from part of the Number 3 reactor of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spoke to reporters on Friday about an accident in which 3 workers were exposed to radiation in the turbine building of the No. 3 reactor.

It said 3.9 million becquerels of radiation was detected from 1 cubic centimeter of water sampled from the floor of the building. The radiation level was about 10,000 times higher than the water inside a normally operating nuclear reactor.

Clearly containment is not totally blown away but it isn't holding either.

Zerohedge are reporting that "radioactive Zirconium 95 has been found after samples were taken near a water outlet". Which presumably means damaged fuel rods in the pool and the potential risk of fission?

Yes they mentioned the zirconium finding in the press conference as well. As usual they didn't seem to know what the implications were.


Block 1: 46 SV/h (Containment); 31,6 SV/h (Kondensationskammer)
Block 2: 52 SV/h (Containment); 1,8 SV/h (Kondensationskammer)
Block 3: 60,5 SV/h (Containment); 1,75 SV/h (Kondensationskammer)

Lets check the same table in 24 hrs and see where we are heading... the above was 24th 22:00 Japanese time.

From: http://publicintelligence.net/u-s-nuclear-regulatory-commission-bwr-reac...

Back in 1997 the NRC modeled the effect of a nuclear accident and fire in the Spent Fuel Storage Pools of a BWR. They even assumed a seismic event as the primary initiator.

Their figures (from Table 4.2 (pg 39 of 114) suggested prompt fatalities of <2, latent fatalities from 23,600 - 49,800, condemned land from 286 – 784 sq mi. and total clean-up cost, not including long-term health costs from $ 97-113 Billion Dollars (in 1997 dollars).

Today it could easily cost twice as much. This is on top of the $300 Billion in Tsunami & Earthquake Damage. This disaster could easily top Half a Trillion Dollars.

I recall reading one of the reactors was over 450-500°C. This is not good. Also the spent fuel is enriched with nasties (long-lived isotopes)

The Workshop on Transportation Accident Scenarios estimated incipient clad failure at 565°C with expected failure at 671"C, presumably based on expert opinion. Given that the large seismic event is the dominant contributor to the configuration 1 initiator, it is likely that it would take a prolonged period of time to retrieve the fuel, repair the spent fuel pool or establish an alternate means of long-term spent fuel storage. Therefore, we presume there will be a significant period of time that the fuel will be exposed to air. On this basis, BNL has chosen a temperature of 565°C as the critical cladding temperature. This results in critical decay times of about 17 months for the representative PWR and 7 months for the representative BWR.

The concern is that perhaps the MACCS default set of isotopes might not accurately model long lived isotopes that are relatively insignificant for short-term releases, but rise in prominence for spent fuel pool accidents.

Looks like GM can capitalize on Japan's problems:


Toyota parts are getting scarce. JIT business plan = epic fail.

Like being cheap on design. Being cheap on inventory is foolhardy. Glad I do not work for Toyota. Also they make all their parts in a narrow region. Well that is not so robust. Of course, the limiting reagent controls a chemical reaction. It will control industrial output too.

So we have spreading radiation and spreading parts shortages and people fleeing Tokyo, but the markets do not care one iota. LOL.

Meanwhile MENA is a war zone with protests and disruptions breaking out like chicken pox in a kindergarten class.

Good times. I will be digging a root cellar/fall out shelter tomorrow ;-)

"I will be digging a root cellar/fall out shelter tomorrow ;-)"

You are doing it JIT so to speak ;)

Isn't the auto industry a big component of GDP? Seems like we are heading for a recession kicking and screaming.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2009, the auto industry produced $348bn of output, from a total US economy of 24.8 trillion, or about 1.4%.

The industry peaked (as did the economy) in 2007, at 501m out 25.8 tn, or 1.94%.
I would say the glory days of the auto manufacturing industry being a major US industry are long gone.

Now, the auto related industry (repairs, fuel, parking operators, roads, etc) is a big part of the economy, but that is independent of whether people are buying new cars or not.


I've sworn that I'm going to get around to installing a wood stove this year in the house. Build a bit more resilience into our household where it goes to -40C. We did the cold cellar last year. You have to learn how to use it, moisture levels for different things are tricky and maintaining a reasonably constant temperature means monitoring with an indoor/outdoor thermometer and fiddling. But I'm very pleased with it. I think with twiddling, it would allow us to disconnect the fridge for about 6 months of the year. And it gives us a place to store the winter's spuds, onions and garlic from the large garden. Must check rodent screen in air intake now that the weather's warming up.

Yeah, I am not a country person, so I do not know much about root cellars. My garden is fairly small (big for where I live though) but I am growing a bunch of roots this year. My design would be hand poured concrete floor and a 8" block wall. Indeed the level of moisture sounds tricky. Here we get arid and rainy weather. Sounds like fun reading for sure. Rodents are around. They have chewed straight through a pumpkin stored in my garage and gotten into seeds. I keep the seeds I like inside my house now.

Peak Oil Production May Already Be Here

Richard A. Kerr
Five years ago, many oil experts saw trouble looming. In 10 years or so, they said, oil producers outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would likely be unable to pump oil any faster and OPEC would gain an even stronger hand among the world's oil producers. Five years on, it appears those experts may have been unduly optimistic—non-OPEC oil production may have been peaking as they spoke. Despite a near tripling of world oil prices, non-OPEC production, which accounts for 60% of world output, hasn't increased significantly since 2004. And many of those same experts, as well as some major oil companies, don't see it increasing again—ever. Optimists remain. Some experts still see production from new frontiers, such as Kazakhstan, the deep waters off Brazil, and the oil sands of Canada, pushing production above the current plateau in the next few years. But time's running out to prove that newly discovered fields and new technology can more than compensate for flagging production from the rapidly aging fields beyond OPEC.


Water which three workers were exposed to at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant contained radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday.

The finding underlines the possibility that part of the fuel in the No. 3 reactor of the plant or the spent fuel stored in the pool in the reactor building may be damaged.
TEPCO said almost no water was present during an on-site inspection the previous day and also that the level of radiation was low during the inspection.

''Because of this, the workers were believed to have continued their work even after their dosimeters' alarm went off, assuming a problem with the machine,'' a TEPCO official said.

So the workers were standing in water that leaked either from the reactor or the spent fuel ponds. And that water wasn't there yesterday.

And yet the media keeps telling me things are stabilized.

...that water wasn't there yesterday.

Well, maybe. But it wouldn't be the first time TEPCO has "misreported amounts of water released and the radioactivity involved":

...the company admitted that in over 200 instances, between 1977 and 2002 it had submitted false data to authorities. The falsification included, most seriously:

...at least 29 cases of falsified reports on cracks or signs of cracks in devices in the core structure of 13 reactors at the utility's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the No. 1 and No. 2 Fukushima atomic plants in Fukushima Prefecture.

Kashizawa-Kariwa (KK), the largest nuclear power plant in the world with 7 reactors (compared to Fukushima's 5), suffered a 6.6. magnitude earthquake in July, 2007, which resulted in leaks of radioactive substances into the air and into the Sea of Japan.

As in Fukushima, the company was very tight with information...
It also misreported amounts of water released and the radioactivity involved, later coming clean. Among other problems, low level radioactive waste had been stored in 400 steel barrels, 40 of which tipped over, lost their lids, and discharged their contents...

I know these workers are dead men walking but you'd think TEPCO would give them the honor of not blaming them for it.

Sky News are reporting two Japanese travellers have been hospitalised in China with "severe" radiation levels.

Friday evening seminar at Harvey Mudd College regarding earthquakes and nuclear power. Avilable on line:

New Madrid Fault Zone Quake Threat:

Worth worrying about or not so much?


The New Madrid earthquake, from what I understand, is an example of a rare mid-plate earthquake. The fault probably only slips once every thousand years or so.

The real danger zone is the fault system where the Pacific Plate meets the North American Plate on the West Coast. The whole Pacific Plate boundary from the Gulf of Alaska to Southern California is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The magnitude 9 quake in Japan occurred on the Western edge, but there are similar sized earthquakes on the Eastern edge as well - of which the 1964 magnitude 9 quake in Alaska is an example.

The San Andreas Fault, which runs the length of California, is capable of magnitude 8 earthquakes. The Cascadia Subduction Fault, which runs offshore from Northern California to Southern British Columbia, has a magnitude 9 earthquake, plus a 30-40 foot high tsunami about every 300 years, and there are about 500,000 people living in the tsunami zone. The West Coast is the main area that FEMA should be worried about.

Other than that, Hawaii also has big earthquakes, and there have been some fairly big earthquakes in the Eastern US. I would think that the New Madrid Fault should be one of FEMA's lesser priorities.

See also: Damaging Earthquakes in the US (1750-1990)

Not sure it's worth worrying about, since there's not much you can do about it, but the USGS is concerned.

The USGS recently issued a fact sheet reiterating the estimate of a 10% chance of a New Madrid earthquake of magnitude comparable to those of 1811-1812 within the next 50 years, and a greater chance of a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in the same time frame.

The bedrock is more solid in the eastern half of the country, so vibrations travel farther. That's why the 1811-1812 quakes were felt as far away as Maine and Canada.

And of course, buildings aren't built for earthquakes in the east as they are in California. Unsupported masonry - like all those old brownstones - would be especially hard-hit.

HERE IS A GOOD RESOURCE for the Fukushima threads:
Radiation Effects Research Foundation

Two PackBots, two Warrior Robots, and a team going to Japan:


My conclusion is the same as it was after reading here intensely last year:

It is a problem of the human condition.
It is not a problem inherent in oil or in fission.
Matter can be arranged to produce these without insane risk.
But humans are a mess.
It is not a technical problem.
There is no technical solution.

..or as I keep going back to in this quote from the Greeks that Ed Koch put in his book 'Nasty Man' about NYC Mayor Guiliani..

"Everything is Character"