Fukushima Dai-ichi status and prognosis

The disjointed news flow from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) continues to provide a confusing picture of the status of the 4 crippled nuclear power stations at Fukushima Dai-ichi on the East coast of Japan. This is leading to a very broad spectrum of opinion on the actual status and future consequences. The spectrum of opinion ranges from those who argue that Fukushima Dai-ichi is on course to become a Chernobyl scale incident or worse, to those who argue this is a storm in a teacup, pointing out that reactors have been hit by a large earthquake, gigantic tsunami and survived with minimal casualties so far. So where does the truth lie?

What do we think we know for sure?

1) The Japanese government have warned of a grave nuclear incident on a number of occasions.

2) The status of the reactors, fuel pools and dispersion of radioactive materials continues to get worse, not better.

3) There are perhaps 7 or 8 reactor loads of fuel in play compared with a single load at Chernobyl and 4 or 5 of those are outside of containment in badly damaged spent fuel pools.

4) This report suggests that daily release of radioactive 131I and 137Cs is running at around 73% and 60% of Chernobyl respectively.

5) The Chernobyl fire burned for 8 to 10 days whilst Fukushima Dai-ichi has been emitting radioactive material for around 15 days with no end in sight.

6) There is a 30 km exclusion zone in place and thousands of residents have become refugees with little prospect of returning home in the near future.

Status of Fukushima Dai-ichi from Japan Atomic Industrial Forum on 30th March. Significance: Red = Severe (need immediate action); Yellow = High; Green = low. Click to enlarge.

Weaknesses and leaks in containment

At this press conference, Dr. Masashi Goto, former Toshiba nuclear power plant designer, provides some explanation for how reactor vessels and primary containment may have developed leaks. Dr Goto explained that both containment and pressure vessels have access hatches for fueling and maintenance and these hatches have flanges, bolted in place and using organic seals. The design temperature is 138˚C and at temperatures over 300˚C the flanges buckle and can leak. The organic seals may have burned. There are also ducts for electric cables, pipes, and valves. etc., that are weak points.

Note that Dr. Masashi Goto also says that the cores of reactors 1, 2 and 3 had already melted, but does not make clear if this was partial or total melt down.

Containment venting

The JAIF status report up top states that containment venting is temporarily stopped. It was this venting to release pressure that caused radiation to spike on a regular basis during the early days of the event. There have been a number of equivocal statements about pressure stabalisation in reactors 1 to 3 and I believe the simplest explanation is because they are now leaking. The JAIF status report says this:

It is presumed that radioactive material inside the reactor vessel would have leaked outside the containment vessel at unit-1, 2 and unit-3, based on the investigation of the water sampled in the turbine building from Mar. 24th to 27th.

Noting that this seems to contradict JAIF saying that the containment vessel structural integrity is "not damaged" in units 1 and 3.

The fact that the reactor pressure vessels and containment seem to be leaking is not necessarily a bad thing since this lowers the risk of a pressure build explosion. But it does mean that these reactors will continue to leak radioactive material for so long as water is injected for cooling purposes. It also raises questions about the purpose of trying to restore the primary cooling loop that is dependent upon a pressure seal to drive steam toward the heat exchangers.

Understanding radiation dosage numbers

Different types of radiation (alpha, beta, gamma) have different effects on the human body and different types of radioactive materials also present different hazard levels depending upon how they are chemically ingested. For example, iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland posing risk of thyroid cancer. The REM (see below) is a measure that attempts to normalise this variability.

REM = roentgen-equivalent man
100 REM ~ 1 sievert

LD50 ~ 4.5 Sieverts or 450 REM

The LD50 is the level of exposure required to kill 50% of an affected group.

The spread of radioactive material

The following unofficial numbers for 24th March posted by commenter schoff, that I have reason to believe are accurate, show high levels of radiation in the dry well (D/W) which is the volume between the pressure vessel and primary containment. These numbers seem to confirm that the pressure vessels have leaked. At these levels workers would receive lethal dosage in 5 minutes and so it is clear that no one is going to be able to enter the dry well area to inspect damage or attempt repairs or remedial work.

The readings from secondary containment (the wrecked reactor buildings) are also high providing a lethal dose in 1 to 2 hours. Again, this is sufficiently high to prevent remedial work or repairs and explains why water has to be cannoned into the fuel pools from the exterior.

Area Rad Monitors

1 "D/W: 4780 rem/hr S/C: 349 rem/hr"
2 "D/W: 5490 Rem/hr S/C: 193 Rem/hr"
3 "D/W: 6000 Rem/hr S/C: 158 Rem/hr"

The S/C is believed to stand for Suppression Chamber Torus. D/W is the drywell.

Heavily contaminated water is now turning up at many locations within and without the reactor buildings and this is now beginning to hamper remedial works around the site.

This report in New Scientist also suggests that very large amounts of 131I and 137Cs are being dispersed vertically upwards from the site. Recall that radiation above the buildings was too high for helicopters to hover at the time spent fuel pools were exposed. 131I has a half life of 8 days and 137Cs has a half life of about 30 years. As a rule of thumb, after about 5 half lives have past, the abundance of the isotopes have decayed to virtually zero. 131I will continue to be a problem for so long as it is leaking from the site but will decay to zero quite quickly once leakage stops. 137Cs may be a problem for about 150 years.

Traces of 131I from Fukushima Dai-ichi have shown up in Scotland and other sites in Europe.

The one thing in favor of the Tepco workers battling to contain the incident is that radiation levels throughout much of the site remain safe enough to enable periodic spraying of water into the spent fuel ponds. I fear this situation will not last for much longer.

Comparison of Fukushima Dai-ichi and Chernobyl

There are a number of key differences between Chernobyl and Fukushima Dai-ichi making comparisons of the incidents difficult:

1) The Chernobyl accident took place at fission power blowing the roof of the core and reactor building while Fukushima Dai-ichi was successfully shut down.

2) Chernobyl had a graphite core that burned, spreading radioactive material far and wide.

3) Chernobyl lacked a primary containment system.

4) Chernobyl involved a single reactor load of fuel while Fukushima Dai-ichi likely has 7 to 8 reactor loads spread between the cores of units 1, 2 and 3 and the spent fuel ponds of units 1 to 4.

5) Fukushima Dai-ichi unit 3 has MOX fuel loads containing plutonium in reactor and in spent fuel pool.

6) Fuel in pool of reactor 4 is not spent and is a 'hot' load outside of containment.

7) Fukushima Dai-ichi is located in the heart of Japan, the world's third largest economy whilst Chernobyl is located in Ukraine which has lower economic standing in the world.

In my estimation, the larger mass of fuel, much of it outside of containment, the geographic location and possible socio-economic impacts on Japan, longer duration and open-ended nature of this event and extant risk of explosion and fire will ultimately make Fukushima Dai-ichi the more serious incident.

Future course and consequences

Notwithstanding the successful filling of the spent fuel ponds with water, I do not believe Tepco has been able to take any action thus far that has halted the decline in condition of the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor complex. Things are getting worse, not better, for every day that passes. The site is slowly but surely becoming too hazardous for operations, and if that happens, remedial work on cooling reactors and filling fuel ponds may have to stop raising the specter of further melt down and fires. All the while corrosion is eating away at the pressure vessels and associated pipes and valves and absent circulation cooling the heat dissipation problem builds (see slow burning issues).

Rational voices point to the fact that most modern reactors in operation as well as those being built and planned are much safer than the aging fleet at Fukushima Dai-ichi. This may be so, but populations around the world fear radiation and it is the public that will have the final say.

Earlier posts

Safety of nuclear power and death of the nuclear renaissance (March 15th)

Fukushima Dai-ichi status and potential outcomes (March 17th)

Fukushima Dai-ichi status and slow burning issues (March 25th)

And open threads that contain archives of news links and commentary:

Drumbeat Special Edition: Fukushima Thread 13th March

Fukushima Thread: March 14, 2011

Fukushima Thread: March 15, 2011

Fukushima Thread: March 16, 2011

Fukushima Thread: March 17, 2011

Fukushima Thread: March 18, 2011

Fukushima Thread: March 19, 2011

Fukushima Thread: March 20, 2011

Fukushima Open Thread 28th March

Fukushima Open Thread - 29th March

From BBC this morning: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12916688

Meanwhile, radioactive iodine levels in seawater near the plant reached a new record - 4,385 times the legal limit.


On Wednesday, radioactive iodine was estimated to be 3,355 times the legal limit, while previously the figure had been put at 1,850 times the legal limit.

That 131I levels are still increasing could be seen as a smoking gun. I concur with Euan that the situation is getting worse, not better.

Yes, and the high 137Cs levels 40 Km from the site, in a direction that has seldom, if ever, been downwind during this event is also very worrying.

There seems to be no work or plan in the offing that is likely to make the environment safe enough to work in, and it's clearly getting worse daily.

Now, we have mainstream scientists and media talking about possible re-criticality and reviving the idea of the sarcophagus option, which would clearly be the ultimate act of desperation.

I, too, think Euan is correct: there's little basis for optimism.

Looking at the weather forecasts, Saturday is the point when the weather situation deteriorates, wind starts heading south and west, although rain is no longer being forecast.

The prevalent winds are going to be towards the ocean for a couple of months, while Siberia is warming slowly. Then winds will become more chaotic with the rainy season in June, and the wind would blow mostly towards the warm continent in later summer.

Plan? The only plan that I see is shooting water, firefighter style, at the hot spots. Can we do this for 150 years until the Cesium levels decrease to the point where we can approach the reactors?

It is ominous indeed.

A feature that seems to have received little attention in the media is that Japan's prevailing westerly wind has, since the 11th of March, prevailed. The Austrian based atomic weapons test ban treaty monitoring organization ZAMG has been publishing daily updated animations of the radioactive plume. They clearly show how lucky Japan has been and how a very different story would obtain if there were to be a north-easterly wind with a little rain.



Yes, weather is critical for fallout deposition, and the soil type subsequently can affect long term consequences. Comparisons with Chernobyl are difficult. I was told at the time of Chernobyl that the measurements of short life isotopes in the West of Scotland (E. Kilbride) indicated that the rising plume near the point of origin some days before must have been so radioactive that had it rolled over onto Kiev there could have been large numbers of prompt deaths. The high temperature however gave sufficient thermal lift for this cloud to be swept away. I presume that neither the thermal lift, nor the density of radioactivity in Japan is remotely comparable with Chernobyl?
When the Chernobyl fallout reached Britain, there was a brief but heavy deposition of Iodine 131 from a 'thundery' rain shower here on the east side of N England - S Scotland, such that had it been a few weeks later and the grass growing and the cows out of doors, any milk would have needed to be thrown away.
For Cs 137 which was the dominant fall out in more persistent rain in NW England and W Scotland, deposition and retention in mineral soils proved not to be a problem, whereas restrictions are still needed for grazing sheep on some upland 'peaty soils' nearly a half-life later.
As a footnote, here in NE England, I found a single microscopic particle of metallic ruthenium in a dung ball from our donkey. Though highly radioactive, it passed through her with apparently no ill effects and she lived another 20 years.

"I found a single microscopic particle of metallic ruthenium in a dung ball from our donkey"

Why, oh why, were you examining your donkey's dung balls with a microscope? /rhetorical

More than you need or want to know, I guess, but I learned some lessons at the time. There was very little official information available in the first week. we were surprised just how poor it was. My lab meter picked up higher than normal activity on our lawn. The donkey was doing a lot of area sampling and I used the meter to check the results and got a startling high reading coming from a point source. No microscope involved. Was easy to use standard exposure of X ray film in a cassette to confirm a point source. Half life measurement pointed to ruthenium. We learned later that very large numbers of metal particles had been discharged because of the very high temperatures and these came out as heavy deposits, especially ruthenium, here and there across Europe (if I remember particularly parts of the Alps and Germany after thunder showers). There was concern in Germany for the hay crop and workers lungs, but absorption / solubility was very low and eventually these 'shortish' half-life metal particles were declared a non-problem.

Iodine exposure, particularly in milk and food, would have been another matter entirely. Double concentration mechanisms on a targeted gland. This is what caused, and is still causing cancers in persons young at the time in Ukraine, Belarus etc. according to follow up studies.

I love the sort of posters who are attracted to TOD. Great stuff.

In some parts of south Germany, still 20% of wild boar meet has to be discarded as it is too contaminated with Cesium to be safe for consumption. So the fallout of Chernobyl is still negatively affecting Germany even decades after the incident. I would guess a similar situation is true in other parts of Europe too.

some lamb in the north of Wales and north west of england too

Oh yeah- even good ol' Norwegian Homos Sapience (.. eating much local food) are being scanned every few years in the worst struck areas. The readings are going down. Thankfully.

Extremely interesting. Would you take the trouble to let us know what your radiation monitoring equipment is, how you keep it calibrated, etc? I wouldn't mnd setting up a monitoring system with automated reporting to the world over the web. I'm not familiar with whose detection gear works well, etc., so your views would be very helpful. Thanks

Only just read your comment.
Not very much useful on my part to offer, I'm afraid.
I found back then that my Lab and safety training manuals for handling isotope tracers on the bench was not up to dealing with fall-out. The monitor I used was for detecting bench contamination, mostly beta radiation in our case from P32. It was not calibrated or suited for other spectrum or gamma radiation, but even so our lawn showed up several times higher than I would have dared leave my bench without doing a clean up.

The point is I think that because of the extreme variation in local deposition, you need wide area sampling for real meaning. It was some relief at the end of the first week in the UK when an Institute (now deceased?) who had been funded to look at radiation in the environment (old fall-out) released to the Guardian newspaper their nation wide contour map estimates of the newly deposited Cs 137 (hot spots). These guys knew what they were doing and already had baseline measurements, and were mostly approaching retirement and disregarded publication rules.
The Swedes did it even better. They had 'look-down' gamma ray detectors in airplanes and got some lovely (sic) data.

However, with Iodine 131 there is a very short time window and without very fast reaction the damage is done. I remember in the first 3 days phoning round everybody locally who was pregnant or feeding young children, and going with our friendly local official to sample milk from small-scale milk producers to send to the nuclear reactor center. (You need the real kit for that kind of measurement).

Wider point is that nuclear fall out needs a functional complex advanced society (lots of coordinated specialists) prepared to invest in advance in 'redundant' capacity to know how to cope with these situations. Ugo Bardi has recently made some useful points about the retreat(s) from the 'Great Technological Wall' http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2011/03/great-technological-wall.html

EDIT In case this has not been already flagged up elsewhere, US NIH has a study showing cancers still appearing in Ukraine, Belarus etc nearly 25 years on.

Its clear that when the wind changes direction and it rains the terrestrial contamination issue may become much more serious.

Tokyo is about 150 miles from the power plants as well as I can estimate. Is the implication here that a major release coupled with wind changes could require evacuation of the Tokyo area? Is this a real possibility? Would such an evacuation be possible and are any plans being developed. A plume could move in a hurry.

This is the unstated question of the experts. No one is willing to ask the question, because there is no solution to the problem. You cannot evacuate a city of 38 million (and by inference everyone in between, plus the populations to the north not already gone from the tsunami). My guess is that eventually, additive effects from fallout will cause Tokyo to become uninhabitable, primarily due to toxic tapwater. Hopefully by that time most will have left of their own volition. How soon this happens depends on prevailing winds.

Almost unimaginable - I guess like the Tsunami

"No one could have foreseen this"...

Where have we heard this line before? Northern Japan will be a Ghost Country. Tokyo will be the City of the Zombies quite soon.

All those now in favor of Nuke Power, raise your hand....

(keeps his in his pockets)
The Martian

From what I've been hearing, it sounds like a lot of people have left already if they can. Check this out:


I received a call from a friend in Osaka last night. It was scratchy, kept cutting in and out, and was barely comprehensible. I think I heard some fish talking in the background. There are so many companies attempting to track down alternative sources of parts in Japan these days that a lot of traffic is being routed away from satellites to the old trans Pacific undersea cables, which are normally used for large data transfers.

Osaka was packed with refugees from Tokyo. Anyone with relatives in this massive city 300 miles west of Tokyo had moved for the duration, at least until the nuclear thing blew over. Tokyo water and supplies were testing positive for radioactive Iodine, infants were limited to drinking bottled water, the rolling power outages were annoying, and there was no food anyway. All trains heading west were packed.

... eventually, additive effects from fallout will cause Tokyo to become uninhabitable, primarily due to toxic tapwater.

I'm inclined to doubt this very much.  I recall reading a USDA report from the 1960's which mentioned removing Sr-90 from milk using ion exchange.  If it was a choice between modern ion-exchange gear in the water purification plants or abandoning Tokyo, which do you think the Japanese would do?  I don't think Tokyo would go dark.

Hi Iaato.
I almost asked if this was possible this morning. Good to know that I'm not the only one whose thoughts are this dark. Of course, there is no solution. There may be some mitigation if they start moving people out now, before there is panic. To where is the question...

It must have crossed their minds that they may need a new home that's not a radioactive wasteland, and that they may need it sooner rather than later. They likely won't all fit on any part of the Islands that are left uncontaminated (they don't really fit on them now), and they all can't go to the same place. Maybe they're in secret talks to move key teams and factories even as we speak, perhaps in exchange for taking less-key individuals as well. Those may be the best bargaining chips they have.

And yeah, I know it's unlikely (and a legal and political minefield)...it's just that the horror of what might happen and be televised from over there could show the western underclasses (and that would be anyone making less than $150,000 a year) that the powers that be (you know, the guys who destroyed the financial markets and sent manufacturing overseas) see them the same way Kadaffi sees the Libyan people.

My reasoning here is that I believe that citizens of the advanced countries feel that the lives of people in the other advanced countries are worth more than those in the third world(This is not my opinion: I am projecting the aggregate behaviour of millions of people here.) That we have common cause with each other. That to the man in the street, globalization is not about foreign oil and producing cheap goods in China, but about German cars, Italian furniture, and Belgian chocolate. Trading with one's peers.

Not to mention the millions of Japanese migrants in our countries.

Millions of Japanese displaced and dying may be harder to sell than the equivalent number in the third world starving to death.


P.S.Just spitballing here. These aren't predictions.

Canuck, someone had to say it. I'm just employing my mental model to arrive at a guess. First, if there is local recriticality, how can they stop the reactions? Cementing the plant in the short term risks further thermal explosions, which they want to avoid at all costs. Even if they try to cement the nuke plant now, there will be escape into the groundwater and ocean in a very significant way. Summer brings onshore winds. Tap water is already significantly impacted in Tokyo, as the water sources are surface water (rivers). Fallout will be additive. Ability to work at the plant will decline dramatically over time without loss of lives--Japan has missed its window of opportunity there. Japan relies almost entirely on imported fossil fuels, and losses of electricity from nuclear outages will result in further declines in emergy, during a time when their economy is already arguably in tatters after 20 years of recession and a major catastrophe. Less aid is available from other countries who are now also experiencing descent in one phase or another. We haven't even begun to discuss the food issue yet . . . .

I just hope the Goldman Sax folks stay in Tokyo and follow their greed.

All over Japan there are empty dwellings. The population is down by over 100,000 'before the tsunami) over the past three or four years. Abandoned houses are all over the place, some in livable condition. Vacant condos are also everywhere, especially big cities. The weather is not so cold in many parts of Japan so people could live in tents. Tokyo could indeed be abandoned without too much trouble....and I don't think that the western parts, some of which are rather rural, and parts of Kanagawa (Yokohama and other side of Yokohama) prefecture would be wholly unlivable. They are far enough away from fallout. The middle of Tokyo is rather banks and department stores and big condos.....if they are abandoned it might be better, the debts are just piling up anyway. As for Ibaraki and Fukushima...that is a nightmare if they can't produce food. Let this be a lesson to pro-nuke people.....don't risk your livelihood so you can have access to cell phones and electric gadgets!!

Speaking of Goldman Sachs; I notice that the stock markets right now are still on the up, and oil too at $107!
The stock markets don't seem much bothered with the global picture, or perhaps they really do believe that this is just a great building opportunity and soon the boom times will be back in Japan and we will all profit?

Oddly many pundits really do believe that oil will have to go to $120 befre it impacts on the economy. Where I live it is impacting already, and that's without Japan.

As someone said on zerohedge - every single nuclear reactor in Japan and the USA could melt down today and the Dow would still be up as it now has super-natural powers.

Even without the contamination problem, Tokyo's future will be a demonstration of what happens when you remove ~20%? of the energy and material/import resources of a major city of a country and world in overshoot.

Y'know, the fact of the matter is - and I'm not at all a general supporter here - that Qaddafi (spell it how you like) has expended rather more of Libya's oil wealth on the well-being of average Libyans than the US government has spent on the well-being of the average American. I just find it odd that the guy who, whatever other faults, lifted Libya from the bottom to the top of the socioeconomic list in Africa in 40 years has become the poster child for "not caring about" his people.

A lot of 'conjuring' going on

I just find it odd that the guy who, whatever other faults, lifted Libya from the bottom to the top of the socioeconomic list in Africa in 40 years has become the poster child for "not caring about" his people.

The oil reserves did that, not Cuhdaphy. I think the Libyan people might be better off socioeconomically, as well as, oh, personal survival-wise, without his paranoia, 40 years of martial law, institutionalized torture, questionable political alliances and actions leading to economic sanctions, nepotism, theft, and, oh yeah, shooting his own people. Cause, like, the oil would still be there without the other stuff, eh?

I just find it odd that the guy who, whatever other faults, lifted Libya from the bottom to the top of the socioeconomic list in Africa in 40 years has become the poster child for "not caring about" his people.

The statistic is both misleading and untrue.

Untrue because 40 years ago, Libya had the highest income per capita in Africa -- in fact, higher than the United States -- due to oil wealth discovered 10 years before Kudaffy took power.

Misleading because culturally, politically, and economically, the Mediterranean African states including Libya should be grouped with the Middle East, not sub-Saharan Africa. And in that peer group, Libya is decidedly middle-of-the-road.

layman question:
iodine increasing = fission going on ?

That's what several people have been asking on the Fukushima threads here over the past few days.

Hard to tell without a full breakdown of the released materials.

I'm a layman, too, but my understanding is that, in nuclear reactors, 131I is a product of uranium fission. Nobody, as far as I'm aware, has proposed a likely alternate source that fits what is known about Fukushima Daiichi.

I wish someone would; it would be very comforting.

If the iodine-131 is being released slowly over time (via venting of the reactor vessels), then also makes sense that the iodine-131 in the environment is increasing but there is still no new iodine being produced by fission. This becomes less likely as more half lives of iodine-131 pass as it would require an exponentially increasing rate of iodine release. But as we haven't passed even 2 half lives yet, it is still a reasonable explanation.

With a 2.83% yield from thermal neutron fission of U-235 & a half-life of 8.02 days, I-131 will be a measurable radioactive contaminant for up to several weeks (~5 half-lives) following the reactor shutdowns on 3/11/11.





5 half-lifes??? Are you kidding. That's just 1/32 of the original amount. no sir.. 20 half-lifes is the usual standard for danger.

But iodine-131 is extremely hot, it will be detectable (and deadly) at 30-50 half-lifes. Deadly at low levels since it bio-accumulates because iodine(stable 126) is fairly rare in nature.

iodine, abundance, 4.5×10^−7 out of 1, both thorium and uranium both have higher crustal abundance numbers.

But iodine-131 is extremely hot, it will be detectable (and deadly) at 30-50 half-lifes.

Me thinks you're getting carried away. Ten half lives is a factor of 1024 lower. 30 is a billion times lower, you would have to start with a heck of a lot to even be able to detect that. At least the Iodine isotopes won't make long term trouble (unless you don't wait for them to decay, and get a Thyroid cancer started).

Thanks, everyone. I guess I haven't been thinking in terms of the huge quantities of "residual" 131I you're contemplating.

I'm still skeptical (of course). OTOH, it also occurs to me that, for much of this to be the product of ongoing fission would require more ongoing fission than seems likely--and they'd probably notice all the flying neutrons, or at least the blue flashes.

...it also occurs to me that, for much of this to be the product of ongoing fission would require more ongoing fission than seems likely--and they'd probably notice all the flying neutrons, or at least the blue flashes.

Actually there has been something similar to "blue flashes" observed at Fukushima Daiichi and the following link describes them as "Neutron Beams" which have been observed 13 times at the site. Even though this report is over one week old, I have heard nothing about it in the US media.


Apparently, at least one nuclear scientist believes that the presence and amount of a certain Cloride isotope (Cl-38) means that salt in the sea water used for cooling was irradiated by pockets of criticality in the melted core material of reactor #1.

Hmmm. Well, IIRC, 38Cl has a really short half-life... checking... Yup, Wolfram Alpha says 37.23 minutes.

OK, nuclear experts: sources other than very recent fission?

131Iodine formed from thermal neutron fission of 235Uranium when the reactors were in operation and does not provide evidence for on going fission - but I'm no expert here.

There are however other reports of sporadic criticality. I believe it is the case that localised criticality quickly shuts down since the energy produced blows the geometry apart.

Intact core geometry has as much to do with preventing criticality as it does in promoting it; it's not an either/or situation. It depends on how a damaged core rearranges itself. To expect that their is no criticality occuring is more wishful thinking, IMO. Once again, too many unknowns.

Some pretty good technical discussions going on here.

From what I know you need water to moderate the reaction, significant losses of water will raise the critical mass needed. Even if the core melt, you need a good water/corium ratio along with specific shape and significant mass to reach criticality.

The fuel rods must be slowly releasing iodine since some of it was inside by the rods since day 1. The pellets should retain about 40% of iodine. The fuels rods, damaged, let iodine escape and thats most likely why the readings goes up.

Any other explanation is possible, but this seem to be the most plausible to me.

I would still like to know why there are no measurements of strontium 90 and tritium being mentioned. Is strontium 90 just a problem from the fallout of nuclear bombs? With all the water and all those neutrons there must be tritium being formed. Are they not looking for it? Can they not measure it?
It appears that the only timely solution is to put a large tent - using inflatable tension design over the 4 complexes and use robots to continue the cooling until it can be deconstructed. The groundwater and the ocean will continue to take a huge hit but maybe the airborne contamination can be contained.

Sorry Gentle people, but I have to disagree. Beyond steady accumulation, the likely reason for the increase in externalized radiation is the large increase in (fresh) water that is being pumped into the core – this is a good thing.

A second reason external radiation appears to have increased so dramatically is that TEPCO is actually investigating structures and machinery it ignored when all focus was on the core. All focus was on the core because the fire suppression system they were using to get seawater into the reactor vessel did not produce sufficient pressure to allow adequate water flow.

Nevertheless, the increase in radiation near the reactors is alarming.

Keeping the cores from overheating and producing more radioactive isotopes is important. So keeping the temperatures down is a primary goal, but it might help mitigate the I-131 problem to let the temperatures in the "puddles" increase a bit. That would increase the evaporation of water from the puddles leaving a higher concentration of iodine behind. Preferably they could then fit the dregs of the distillation process into secure storage. This compaction of the dregs should help. If they still don't have enough room, ask the Navy to sacrifice one of its barges as an emergency containment vessel. If they have been pumping sea water uphill to cool the cores, they have an infrastructure available to siphon the dregs downhill to the barges. They want to get rid of the puddles ASAP so they can get back to fixing the permanent cooling loops.

As to why the iodine has spiked, I'd think the temperature in the puddles was up so the evaporation of both water and iodine increased and those vapors condensed as they met the cooler air around the plant as they escaped and settled back to the surface. One quick reality check would be wind direction. Has the wind been blowing offshore from the plant to the sea? If so, you know how the increased iodine in the sea got there, airborne vapor from the puddles.

Note that spraying a plastic coating over the puddles would cut off the evaporation which has been keeping the cores cool and would make a bad situation much, much worse!!!!

Do we have any chemists out there? Here is an idea, go back to feeding the cores salt water.

Why? The alpha particles are helium ions with two excess electrons. So we need to oxidize the alpha particles to get helium. In sorting through potential oxidizers (hydrogen peroxide ozone etc) I found this in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxidation

Oxidizers Substances that have the ability to oxidize other substances are said to be oxidative or oxidizing and are known as oxidizing agents, oxidants, or oxidizers. Put another way, the oxidant(oxidizing agent) removes electrons from another substance i.e. it oxidizes other substances, and is thus itself reduced. And, because it "accepts" electrons, it is also called an electron acceptor.

Oxidants are usually chemical elements or substances with elements in high oxidation numbers (e.g., H2O2, MnO−4, CrO3, Cr2O2−7, OsO4) or highly electronegative substances/elements that can gain one or two extra electrons by oxidizing an element or substance (O, F, Cl, Br).

So all that NaCl we have been feeding had the potential to oxidize the alpha particles and reduce the radiation. Switching to fresh water caused this chemical reaction to decline thereby increasing the radiation levels. So to reduce the alpha radiation, go back to feeding sea water.


a) Alpha particles are readily absorbed by even a sheet of paper. They're only a problem to humans if the alpha-emitter is ingested or inhaled.

b) The chloride in NaCl is already in a reduced state, it has accepted an electron and is now the ion Cl-.

I think we should point out that evacuation, food orders, and water safety testing have everything to do with preventing ingestion of contaminates (beta and alpha emitters) that can lead to increased risks of health consequences. I think we're destined to hear over and over again that a piece of paper will prevent harm from an alpha emitter, but this shows little understanding for the various pathways for radiation finding it's way into the environment, food, and the human body. We've already seen many charts showing us gamma level full body readings from bananas, air travel, x-rays, and such. Fine if we're not kicking up dust or breathing contaminated the air (gamma may be the full extent of it). But humans breath the air, drink the water, and ingest food for nutrition. A piece of paper isn't going to protect us from getting radiation inside our bodies from any of these sources: air, water, and food.

We could tell people to wrap their food in a piece of paper before swallowing it.

The point is: theses alpha emitters are not airborne, they are not gases. So it become harmless unless you get inside the reactor or you eat dirt at the nuclear power plant.

The 2 airbones emitters are iodine (gamma/beta) and ceasium (low doses, but last longer, gamma). I don't count noble gases since you can't bioaccumulate them.

This is the core inventory released by the Chernobyl accident. From "Chernobyl: Assessment of Radiological and Health Impacts" (2002). Some radionuclides are more volatile than others, which accounts for their different rates of dispersion by the air (and other methods). Some are short lived, others are very long lived. We have already found Plutonium outside of the power plants at Fukushima. Other radioactive isotopes and actinides appear to be present in sea water.

Chernobyl unit #4 was virtually brand new when it the experiment destroyed it, just two(2) years old!!!
TMI unit 2 was just 4 months old !!

Iodine-131 levels in a reactor level out ~16 half lives(~128days) when it is running at full power. (Decay rates balances out new production.)

Cesium-137, not so luckly with a Half Life of 30 years. Same for Strontium-90, HL ~30 years. Thus for every day the reactor is in operation these fuel rods never approach the self limiting decay rate for these food chain isotopes. So both the core and spent fuel becomes extremely dirty over time.

Fuel in the Fukushima reactors and spent fuel rods are just about as dirty and nasty as they can get. Where looking at many multiples of Chernobyl isotopic loading per reactor and spent fuel ponds.

Note: Actual numbers depends on refueling cycle interval and amount of swapped out core material(~1/3 to ~1/2). Expect spent fuel to have full power core time in the range of 5 to 6 years. Fuel still in the core is somewhat younger maybe 3 to 5 years. Verses 2 years or less for Chernobyl.

Chernobyl unit #4 was virtually brand new when it the experiment destroyed it, just two(2) years old!!!
TMI unit 2 was just 4 months old !!

Thanks for that info, Tim. So, what was wrong with Chernobyl - was it an experimental reactor that didn't work out right, or was it just poor workmanship run by amateurs?

I concur that the Fukushima trash has got to be nasty indeed. Hey, sing with me, i-o-dy-y-y-ne (131) ... la la la ...

Cool name for a lethal element, actually.

Mat & Tim. According to Grigori Medvedev in his book, “The Truth About Chernobyl”, on page 34 he states that about 3/4 of unit 4s 200 tons of fuel was from its initial fuel load, and was at maximum burn up. The reactor was left open to the atmosphere for nine days while the graphite burned driving most of the volatile fission products into the air.

Its interesting to note that LFTR reactors do not have any of the failure modes that Chernobyl, TMI, or Fukushima had. No water or Zirconium to make hydrogen. No pumps, valves, or power required for shutdown and safeing. Iodine is removed from the core to a safe location during operation, not left in fuel pins that could melt.

Well a lot of people want to plug LFTR. This would be the reactor that is full of molten ie hot radioactive beryllium flouride? The stuff that exothermically turns into beryllium oxide [ultra poisonous] and hyroflouric acid [eats stuff] when it meets water? What possible scenario could involve a lot of water meeting a nuclear plant? Lets just rubber-stamp that risk assessment - what could possibly go wrong?

I tend to think that the radioactive nobles gases are just being ignored rather than that they are innocuous.

Radon (Rn, atomic number 86) is a radioactive noble gas and is a natural decay product of uranium, actinium, and thorium.
Krypton and Xenon Gases

From the Idealist

Most radioactive products from any fission activity, including a nuclear blast, 'began' as a krypton or a xenon gas. All such gases are radioactive and xenons and kryptons can linger in the air for minutes, hours or years after deliberate or accidental venting from underground shafts.

What very few people know is that some gases that escape during an underground explosion precipitate into 'solid rain'. Krypton 90 is just one of dozens of radioactive noble gases that do transform in mid-air from gas to a solid.

The transformation is unrelated to temperature change or outside chemical reaction. In the 30 minutes from the time it is 'born,' Krypton-90 gas automatically mutates into a solid of the same weight. The solid form is called 'strontium 90,' which is a dangerous carcinogenic, 'bone seeker.'

While many krypton and xenon gases are less radioactive than most solid-form radioactive elements, certain gases, like krypton-87, have rare qualities that are typical of more dangerous types of radiation. But even this rare quality about krypton-87 is rare itself - it doesn't happen that often. Although 39 times out of 40, Krypton-87 decays via emitting a beta particle, about 1 time out of 40 it decays by shooting out a neutron - that neutron can turn ordinary soil, brick, flesh and air into their radioactive versions.

Long-lived krypton and xenon and argon gases, like krypton-85 and xenon-133, are all heavier than air and thus they settle near the ground
Gaseous radioactive waste - Dumped in YOUR neighborhood

Most radioactive products from reactors are or were once a krypton or a xenon gas. Most of these are radioactive and long-enough-lived that they linger in the air for minutes, hours or years after routine or accidental emissions from reactors.

What very few people know is that some gases emitted by reactors precipitate - outside of the reactor walls - into dangerous carcinogens in the solid form like the 'bone seeker ' strontium 90 (and its daughter a pituitary gland seeker, Yttrium-90). Other gases, like krypton-87, are neutron-activators.

About 8 percent of the elements created in the fission process comprise radioactive noble gases of krypton and xenon. These gases include:

(kr = krypton; xe=xenon; m=metastable; β = beta; γ=gamma; α=alpha; n=neutron)
kr85 βγ kr85m kr87 βn kr88 βγ kr89 β kr90 xe131m xe133
γ xe133m xe135 xe135m xe137 xe138
half-life in days 3905.5 11.93 5.24 2.26
half-life in hours 4.48 1.27 2.84 9.17
half-life in minutes 3.15 0.55 15.6 3.9 17.5
conversion: half-life in minutes 5623920 268.8 76.2 170.4 3.15 0.55 17179 7545 3254 550 15.6 3.9 17.5
99% decayed (minutes) 44991360 2150.4 609.6 1363.2 25.2 4.4 137433 60364 26035 4401 124.8 31.2 140
miles traveled on 10mph wind 7498560 358.4 101.6 227.2 4.2 0.73 22905 10060 4339 733 20.8 5.2 23.33
20mph wind 15 million 716.8 203.2 454.4 8.4 1.46 45811 20121 8678 1467 41.6 10.4 46.6
daughter rb85 n->kr86

rb86m rb88 rb89 rb90 ce133 ce134 ce135 cs137
daughter half-life stable stable 17.8 min 15.54 min 2.91 min 3 million y 30.1 y
granddaughter sr88 sr89 sr90
mRad/yr per pci/m3 - gamma to body 1.34E-03 1.46E-03 9.73E-03 2.37E-03 1.01E-02 7.29E-03 4.76E-04 3.06E-04 9.94E-04 1.86E-03 7.11E-04 1.22E-02 4.13E-03
mRad/yr per pci/m3 - beta to skin 1.61E-05 1.17E-03 5.92E-03 1.47E-02 1.66E-02 1.56E-02 9.15E-05 2.94E-04 2.51E-04 1.81E-03 3.12E-03 1.42E-03 8.83E-03

'miles traveled on 10mph wind' is the distance on a flat plain (i.e. Nebraska) that will be traveled by a plume of gas by the time 99% of the gas decayed, see footnote 9 - 'Buoyancy of radioactive gases from reactors' - for more

There's also Xenon -141, -143 and -144, which have half-lives of just 1.73 seconds, 5.11 milliseconds and 3.88 milliseconds, respectively, and decay into solid-form carcinogenic radioactive isotopes of cerium. Krypton gases that are not-radioactive are the stable isotopes of Kr-80, 82, 83, 84, and 86 (see footnote 7 about Kr87). Xenon-133 emits low level gammas and x-ray radiation and is the daughter of Iodine-133 (20.8 hour half life).

Long-lived krypton and xenon and argon gases, like krypton 85 and xenon 133, are all heavier than air and thus they settle near the ground (see section titled 'Buoyancy of radioactive gases from reactors'). Because we breathe in air whether it is radioactive or not, humans routinely intake radioactive noble gases from nuclear reactor emissions and leaks from underground nuclear test shafts into our lungs. In the lungs, these radio-chemicals get absorbed into the bloodstream and because they are soluble in fat they tend to accumulate in our 'fatty' deposits in our bodies where they give off X-ray-like gamma radiation.

Fission also creates radioactive isotopes of the noble gas Argon. Among the longer-lived Isotopes of Argon are Argon-37, with a half-life of about 35 days, and Argon-39, with a half-life of 269 years. Argon-37, uniquely, can only be produced by a nuclear reaction; it is produced when neutrons bombard rock-fortified calcium. Argon-39, on the other hand, is regularly produced by nuclear reactors as neutrons convert potassium-39 (into Argon-39) and is also created by cosmic activity. Although Argon-37 can be a tracer for leaked underground nuclear explosions, it is difficult to detect4 and measure at low quantities (it later decays to chlorine-37).

Fission and fusion nuclear explosions also create Carbon-14, an unstable isotope (stable carbon predominantly exists as Carbon-12) that can be created by natural processes when Nitrogen-14 is bombarded by cosmic radiation in the form of neutrons. In reactors, carbon-14 arises when neutrons bombard carbon-13 (13C), nitrogen-14 (14N) or oxygen-17 (17O), which are impurities in coolant, fuels and/or moderators. Carbon-14 oxides easily into radioactive carbon dioxide, or 14CO2.

Nitrogen exists as either Nitrogen-14 or Nitrogen-15. Elemental Nitrogen, or nitrogen gas, is known as Nitrogen-14, which has an 'isotopic abundance' - meaning it comprises a percentage of total isotope quantity in nature - of 99.643%. [When you look at a periodic table, it is an arrangement of elements only by atomic number, which is the number of protons. The atomic weight, however, is the average weight of that element across all naturally-occurring isotopes, or the abundance-weighted average mass of an element. The word 'Isotope' doesn't necessarily mean anything toxic, or radioactive. Everything created by nature (and human) is an isotope. All elements exist only as isotopes. Many elements exist as many different isotopes, however not all do. Elemental sodium only exists naturally as Sodium-23. There are stable and unstable (radioactive) isotopes existing in nature. The unstable (radioactive) naturally occurring isotopes include all elements with an atomic number of 84 or greater (after elemental Bismuth).]

I don't have time to follow all of this, but:

What very few people know is that some gases that escape during an underground explosion precipitate into 'solid rain'. Krypton 90 is just one of dozens of radioactive noble gases that do transform in mid-air from gas to a solid.

The transformation is unrelated to temperature change or outside chemical reaction. In the 30 minutes from the time it is 'born,' Krypton-90 gas automatically mutates into a solid of the same weight. The solid form is called 'strontium 90,' which is a dangerous carcinogenic, 'bone seeker.'

While many krypton and xenon gases are less radioactive than most solid-form radioactive elements, certain gases, like krypton-87, have rare qualities that are typical of more dangerous types of radiation. But even this rare quality about krypton-87 is rare itself - it doesn't happen that often. Although 39 times out of 40, Krypton-87 decays via emitting a beta particle, about 1 time out of 40 it decays by shooting out a neutron - that neutron can turn ordinary soil, brick, flesh and air into their radioactive versions.

Krypton-90, which is formed in about .1% of U-235 fissions, has a half life of 3 seconds. Sr-90 is dangerous because it mimics calcium and accumulates in the body, not because it can form a solid (combined with other atoms at room temperature).

I don't know where to start with the solid/gas making flesh radioactive thing.

sr-90...that when Godzilla comes in. since he eats all the radiative fish with SR-90 in them and it all bio-accumulates in his bones.

...that when Godzilla comes in

Consume the special cookies, cue the band...

April Fool or incoherent rant?

Alpha particles are absorbed very quickly, supposedly a sheet of paper is sufficient shielding. I think they won't have a problem finding electrons to combine with. The biggest issue is the Cesium137, because of its longer half life, it will be around long after the iodine has decayed.

One bad thing about adding salt water to the reactor cooling water supply is that uranium or plutonium metal in hot exposed fuel pellets in damaged fuel rods can form chloride compounds which may be soluble in the water and steam as opposed to their oxides wich are insoluble. Not only would that solubility contaminate the water with fissionable material (and remember water moderates neutrons) it also exposes more fresh material on the pellet surfaces, liberating previously-trapped decay products.

Seawater was only used initially because there was no fresh water to be had in quantity to cool the reactor cores down when they were very hot with fresh decay products. Now a lot of that heat has decayed away and smaller quantities of fresh water can be applied instead.

The fuel is not metallic uranium or plutonium metal.

See this link to download a 2005 Japanese BWR Safety document that has this quote on page 7 and a diagram of a fuel rod assembly on page 9 showing the sintered uranium dioxide fuel pellets used. In Unit 3 a new plutonium oxide fuel pellet was used. These oxide fuel pellets are already insoluble in water when constructed.

2.1 Reactor
(1) Fuel

A fuel rod used for the light water reactor has a cladding made of zirconium alloy and is packed with sintered pellets of low enriched uranium dioxide. A part of the gaseous fission products generated by nuclear fission will be released from the pellet while most of the solid elements will remain in the pellet so that the pellet itself can be considered the first barrier to contain the radioactivity. Gaseous fission products released from the pellet will be sealed in the cladding. The fuel cladding is the second barrier to prevent the spread of fission products and is designed and manufactured with sufficient consideration to its quality integrity.


donshan, the chemical nature of the melted core is unknown. At higher temperatures, say 2000 degrees Celsius, Zr cladding could reduce U and Pu oxides to produce metallic U and Pu. Chloride is available, the formation of U and Pu Chlorides cannot be ruled out. Both Chlorides boil at below 1800 degrees Celsius.

So the emergency solution to cool with sea water to prevent fuel mobilization, may have resulted in an unexpected new form of radioactive release from a reactor.

Nojay, haven't seen the Chloride idea elsewhere, yours?

My personal experience is with oxidation of the zirconium(Zircaloy-2) in steam and the reaction is extremely fast above 1200C, so I would have expected all the thin Zr cladding to become inert ZrO2 long before temperatures got to 2000C., but I have not studied reactor meltdown scenarios.

There are also zirconium structural parts in of a fuel assembly that might be thick enough to survive as some metallic zirconium so your mechanism is not impossible

I agree that putting seawater in there is a first of a kind nuclear materials experiment at colossal expense, with unknown consequences.

1) Alpha particles are helium nuclei. While it might be possible for them to extract electrons from whatever they are passing through, they will certainly never have two excess electrons.

2) Alpha particles are dangerous because they are moving very fast and they disrupt whatever they hit. It has nothing to do with the electron balance.


Actually, that is not quite correct. There are 4 typical types of radiation which are dangerous, specifically because this is "Ionizing Radiation". Each type has a different value of penetration and damage caused which results in Ionization.

  • Alpha - basically a helium nucleus, with large mass, +2 charge
  • Beta - basically a positron (like an electron with positive charge)
  • Neutron - fast moving same mass as a proton
  • Gamma Ray - aka Photon, high energy electromagnetic wave

    Compared to the others, Alpha is the slowest, but most massive. It interacts readily, hence short stopping distance. This is because as it passes through material, with it's relatively slow speed and large positive charge, it strips off electrons from near by atoms. The problem is that when the electron happens to be shared in a bond between two or more atoms to form a molecule, the bond is lost, the molecule is split and a chemical change occurs. This is the damage mechanism.

    In the case of the Beta particle, it is fast, and very small in mass. When it eventually encounters an electron, it causes "pair production", where the electron and positron will spin down until they collide and annihilate each other. Multiple (normally a pair) Gamma or lower energy photons are emitted from the annihilation. Again, this loss of the electron forms the ionization. Damage occurs when the when the electron was part of a chemical bond such that the chemical change occurs.

    Now in the case of the neutron, since it has not charge, with the second highest mass of the group, it readily transits materials, unless there are atoms of approximately the same mass (ie Hydrogen). When colliding with Hydrogen, the neutron readily imparts some of it's kinetic energy. Striking more massive atoms, the neutron bounces off with less energy loss. In some cases, the neutron may strike heavier nucleus, and in the process, be absorbed while displacing a proton in that nucleus. This transmutes the element and also ionizes the atom (changing it's net charge to a -1 is before it was neutral). This ionization would again break the chemical bonds, and produce the damage.

    In the final case of the gamma ray, these have no mass or charge. Gammas will interact with electrons via compton scattering and the photoelectric effect. In the photoelectric effect, the gamma is absorbed by the electron providing it enough energy to become free of it's binding orbital. At this point, the Atom has been ionized, the chemical bond broken, and the damage done.

    Based upon the different damage mechanisms, each type of ionizing radiation is given a weighted value so the REM is an assessment of damage absorbed, where a lot of time activity is a count of disintegrations per second.

    While it is true that the alpha can be stopped by tissue paper or a few centimeters of air, and the beta would not penetrate skin, the danger is when the radioactive emitters are ingested, they would sit and produce significant damage internally.

    The other thing is that for the most part, the ionizations may make subtle chemical changes within the cell tissue of a living organism, the majority of the time, the "damage" does not have any meaningful effect. In rare instances, the cell damage would cause the cell to die. In even rarer cases, the DNA of the cell may be altered, causing the cell and future daughter cells to divide in an irregular pattern. The resulting irregular growth is referred to as cancer. Finally, In even rarer cases, the impact may be to alter the DNA of cells associated with reproduction. In this case, the damage would result in future genetic mutation.

    Sorry for the long response. I am a little rusty but between time on Subs in the Navy, and working with Radioactive sources for the last 20+ years, I think this is pretty much on the mark.


  • # Beta - basically a positron (like an electron with positive charge)


    In the case of the Beta particle, it is fast, and very small in mass. When it eventually encounters an electron, it causes "pair production", where the electron and positron will spin down until they collide and annihilate each other. Multiple (normally a pair) Gamma or lower energy photons are emitted from the annihilation. Again, this loss of the electron forms the ionization. Damage occurs when the when the electron was part of a chemical bond such that the chemical change occurs.

    Fission products usually (all?) beta decay by emitting beta-minus particles — plain old electrons. (Fission products have too high a ratio of neutrons to protons; beta decay converts one neutron to a proton.) But yes, fast, and capable of knocking electrons off other atoms, ionizing them.

    Photons in the extreme ultraviolet can ionize atoms by interacting with the outer shell electrons. As the energy increases into the X-ray wavelengths, scattering of inner shell electrons begins to occur. You left X-rays out of your list, but they are also dangerous radiation.

    Positron and electron beta particle both occur. The two can be distinguished by their curvature in a magnetic field, even though they leave essentially the same density of ionization tracks.

    Radiation of one type can change to another. Gamma photons above 10 GEV entering the atmosphere can create a cascade of electron-positron pairs. These interact with matter in the atmosphere to produce other particles. Positrons, for example, can combine with electrons to produce more gammas.

    Cosmic rays also include highly energetic protons and heavier nuclei. These produce rather robust sprays of daughter particles, but most may be deflected by the earth's magnetic field or absorbed by the atmosphere.

    First, beta particles can be either electrons or positrons.

    Second, as to what property of alphas causes the most damage, I would submit the following:

    The typical kinetic energy for an alpha particle is 5 million eV. Compare this to the first and second ionization energies for helium (24.6 eV and 54.4 eV respectively).

    While stealing a couple electrons from a molecule or two might cause problems, that is vanishingly small (comparable to an incident x-ray) compared to the effect of the incoming kinetic energy -- which gets completely dissipated in human tissue (or wherever) before it comes to rest.

    (I was sloppy when I just said "speed")

    I thought the point was that the one effect was physical, and that the other effect was chemical.

    You say physics, I say chemistry. Let's call the whole thing off.

    It's all electronic interactions. Electrons interacting with nuclei.

    Someone puts a gun to your head. What are you more worried about: the poisonous lead in the bullet, or the fact that it will put a hole through your brain?

    Gove enough kinectic energy to an atom, and it will break any bound it has. Think on that as very hight temperature "chemistry" (AKA plasma formation).

    "First, beta particles can be either electrons or positrons."


    Beta particles are always, and only, electrons.


    Did you even read the Wikipedia article you linked to?

    Beta particles are high-energy, high-speed electrons or positrons emitted by certain types of radioactive nuclei such as potassium-40.

    No, a beta particle is an electron. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_particle

    A beta particle can be both an electron and its antiparticle, a positron.

    β- = high speed electron
    β+ = high speed positron

    As for alpha particles, a high speed helium nucleus (without electrons), they do not do much damage to tissue if emitted outside the body. They mostly can not penetrate the outer, dead layer of the skin. If an alpha ray is emitted inside the body, it is very dangerous because it will absorb in tissue causing damage. For example, most isotopes of plutonium are alpha emitters which cause lung cancer in small doses when inhaled.

    Alpha particles (2 protons + 2 neutrons) as emitted are helium nuclei with *no* electrons. They very rapidly (microseconds) pick up the two electrons they need for electrical neutrality as part of their collision/deceleration process when they hit other material.

    There's waaaaaaay too many people posting information and opinions without any true ownership of that info...

    I'm trying to grasp things and retain some of the basics BUT some of you guys are making it as difficult as the mass media and THAT's what i come to TOD to avoid... you might be scientifically inclined and technically adept, as am I, BUT a perfect score on the end of the chapter test for chapter 3 of an online Nuclear Physics 101 course AND with Wikipedia as your friend, doesn't give anyone the right to speak with anonymous authority...so please don't...

    What were the iodine levels in the seawater like a day or two after the first steam explosions and release of radioactive material such as the I-131 being reported today? Individual measurements are not a trend.

    I did some data-mining on the JAIF reports that are available at their website, with PDFs going back until just after the tsunami hit and the reactors overheated and released core material. They give measurements of radiation levels at several points within the Daiichi plant although they are not consistent, in that not every report lists the same measurement locations although some reports give more than one sample value.

    For a location described as West Gate, which I presume is on the edge of the plant and some distance from the reactors themselves the reports gave a value of 313uSv/h on March 19th and 70uSv/h on March 31st. The trend is generally downwards although there were one or two upward spikes in the intervening days (on March 25th at 11:00 it went up to 259uSv/h from its previous reading of 193uSv/h at 06:00 but it had subsided to 202uSv/h when measured again at 15:30).

    Another location, "Main Gate" is probably also on the plant boundary. On 22nd March that was reading 264uSv/h and today, 31st March the reading is 150uSv/h.

    The third location is closer to the reactors, "south side of office building" which is at 930uSv/h today. This was, I think, the same location referred to as "north of service building" in previous reports where the reading was 3054uSv/h on March 20th.

    There is another exposure reading listed, on the Daini site across the bay from the Daiichi plant where all four BWR-5 reactors are in cold shutdown (a separate 10km evacuation zone has been declared around this plant too as there may have been some problems during the shutdown). That measurement has fallen from 15.9uSv/h on 17th March to 5.0uSv/h today, 31st March.

    If the Daiichi reactors are still releasing radioactive material into the environment they are doing so at vastly reduced rates compared to the period immediately after the explosions and steam venting, or most or all of it is being trapped close to the reactor buildings (i.e. water bled from the reactors during the "feed and bleed" cooling process).

    First testing of sea water came on March 21, and showed 126 times legal concentration (compared to 4,385 today). Here are the nuclide levels for this sample. And most recently, the updated readings for March 31 (at six different locations).

    They've been hosing down the outside of the power plants pretty consistently for last week or two (which would account for some of the decrease of gamma levels at the gates). They also started spraying resin over the site yesterday (which will further bring this down). As a consequence, much of the contamination now appears to be washed away (as you would decontaminate a person). This doesn't get rid of it, it just moves it around, and it appears to be concentrating in water now (at various locations on the site), and in the ocean.

    So as I see it ... radiation levels aren't coming down, they are just getting moved around on the site in a different way.

    Nojay - right to point out that readings from around the site have fallen but I suspect you are comparing with a time when they were still dry well venting to control pressure in the reactor vessel. If the vessels are now leaking then that is a much worse situation now than then. It is curious though how the contamination of the site is still quite low. What I suspect is that the hot and getting warmer all the time reactor buildings will set up convection cells, drawing clean air in at ground level from surrounding area and setting up an updraft that is carrying particles and aerosols upwards where they are then dispersed more widely by the wind. The other vector is via water into the ocean.

    Wanted: U.S. Nuclear Workers for Japan

    A U.S. recruiter is hiring American nuclear power workers to help get control of the devastated Fukushima plant. The qualifications: Nuclear skills, a passport, a family that will let you go and a willingness to work in a radioactive zone.


    I guess it makes sense to recruit people from a country that has been told, repeatedly, that it is safe to ingest radioactive material. It gets harder to spoof this country.

    I am not sure about your concluding statement:

    "Rational voices point to the fact that most modern reactors in operation as well as those being built and planned are much safer than the aging fleet at Fukushima Dai-ichi. This may be so, but populations around the world have irrational fear of radiation."

    First, I have yet to hear that operating reactor designs other than this one can safely be contained with no cooling and no power. That's what killed the Fukushima reactors. Can we be sure - I mean SURE - that they can always maintain power and cooling? I think people were pretty sure about those at Fukushima, since they had battery back up, diesel back up, and were behind a seawall meant to prevent exactly this sort of event. Not only that, they had a protected reactor vessel unlike Chernobyl, which has repeatedly been pointed to as a key saftey feature missing from that Russian reactor design. Nature sure squashed all assurances of safety.

    Secondly, do people have an "irrational fear of radiation"? I would say fear of having your ancestral home become uninhabitable, of your food and water supply being unsafe, or of getting cancer is pretty rational. All of these are possible outcomes for people near this event, and the first one is certain for many. Perhaps most people who don't understand radiation have these fears to an irrational degree, but in light of the worstening situation that you describe, at the very least ~100,000 people who live in the 30km zone will never go home again. I would say there is some pretty rational fear operating there.

    Of course, the issue is not just radiation per se, but radioactive contamination and long term health effects. In any case, I don't think we need to qualify the article with this particular statement. I think events speak for themselves.

    Want to add an "amen" to adamx's comment. We, as in all of us humans, not just the Japanese, have a worrying situation with increasing radiation leaks and contamination, with no end in sight, and the weather will most assuridly not continue to hold winds to the east and seaward indefinitely. If there is a fix with a cement cap, which appears desperate but may be their best play, Tepco or the Japan government should hurry up and do it before more of Japan becomes uninhabitable for 150+ years, and that includes Tokyo.

    a concrete cap is not a fix.
    It will cause problems down the road. Why do people who fear nuclear want yo do stupid things?

    I believe nothing is a complete fix. The US Dept. of Energy used concrete to cap all the nasty stuff cleared from the islands of Enewetak Atoll which they placed in one of the atom bomb craters in the reef on the north end of Runit Island. You can probably see it using Google Earth. The Russians poured concrete over the ruin of the reactor at Chernobyl. Such procedures contain venting to the atmosphere and the further spread of airbourne radioactive contamination. They probably won't stop the groundwater and coastal water contamination, but these are more localized, and it's unclear to me at least how one could stop the local groundwater contamination at this point. Construction efforts near those damaged reactors will be plagued by radiation for some time to come.

    First, I have yet to hear that operating reactor designs other than this one can safely be contained with no cooling and no power. That's what killed the Fukushima reactors. Can we be sure - I mean SURE - that they can always maintain power and cooling?

    Answering this question "yes" has been the guiding principle of reactor design research in the past 30 years.


    More precisely, the idea is that, rather than making sure power and cooling are always available, you make sure that the reactor doesn't need them.

    From the above link:

    Reactor vendors like to call their new generation reactors 'passively safe' but this term is sometimes confused with 'inherently safe' in the public perception. It is very important to understand that there are no 'passively safe' reactors or 'passively safe' systems, only 'passively safe' components of safety systems exist.

    Suppose 'safe' reactors had been located near Dresden in 1945. Lenningrad? Berlin?


    It's not natural disasters I worry about.

    Most modern reactors are built with the important parts underground, and/or with concrete walls which make bombproof bunkers look like houses of straw. Check 0:45 in this video.

    You could certainly do some damage if you nuked them, but I'm not too worried about a misplaced 500-pound bomb.

    What about a 2000 lb, laser guided bomb designed to penetrate 30' of concrete? Air dropped munitions have advanced quite a bit over what the B-17's carried in WWII.

    But you don't need to bomb the concrete dome/building, just destroy the external sources of electricity!

    Regarding power, and more generally, the backup plan, the "safety system":
    Down the coast the Da-ini plant shut down pretty well. A plant closer to the center of the quake, Onagawa, shut down OK. Some of its pumps failed, but not all of them. But Da-ichi is a disaster.

    So could we go through the safety system at Da-ichi, and understand the role of each element and if it failed, ask why?

    My main interest is why the pumps were not powered from the grid, but there are many other specific failures that, I think, need to be explained.

    (Please don't say the grid was "down" without a citation, or that when electrical things get wet, they stop working, without saying what electrical thing you are talking about, and the difficulty of keeping it dry.)

    My understanding is that at Daiichi the diesel pumps were completely flooded and rendered unusable by the tsunami. Perhaps their fuel was swept away as well.

    Diesel engines work poorly when the air intake is under water, even briefly.

    Explain this.
    Dai-ni had power to each of its four units, on March 12th, no problemo.
    This has nothing to do with diesel.

    I know, I know, everyone repeats that the diesel generators failed, the backup generators failed, because of all the water.
    I am saying "Yea? And?"

    In a limited war, bombing the enemy's nuke plants is stupid. Instant universal world condemnation, you ruin the territory you might be trying to capture, and there's a good chance the fallout will end up contaminating your homeland as well.

    In an unlimited war, the side that has 2000 lb laser guided bombs also has nukes, at which point a little spilled uranium is the least of your problems.

    That said, I can't remember the last time we had a war when nobody did anything stupid.

    Yes, but as we now know, bombing substations, transmission lines, etc. to destroy the enemy power grid will have the same effect. No need to target the power plant. Who's going to be able to keep backup power running indefinitely at the nuke plants during the war?

    I know I keep saying this, but it keeps being overlooked. It is a very serious problem.

    While it is certain that the Red Teams have worked this ground for many years, the last three weeks have revealed large flaws in nuclear power plant safety.

    Ya think?

    Let's assume that just bombing one site would procure enought problems.
    Let's assume too that "bombing" could also mean destroy external subsystem... maybe twice or more times if needed... given that the reactor base technology itself is not hinerently safe their are in (Big) trouble.
    no need for big war tech here, can a cowntry protects all his grid electricity pylon...


    I agree -- I can't think of a war that did not involve serious stupidity and miscalculation on at least one side and generally both.

    I also think "Limited War' has a relatively short half-life -- often only a few weeks. War is full of of positive feedback loops that incline it to become unlimited very rapidly. We don't see this often lately, since our current resource wars are mostly neo-colonial and very asymmetric, but in any future resource wars between declining industrial powers, I think we may experience rapid escalation to unlimited war. Think Iran-Iraq for an example of a recent war that soon became limited only by the technical capacity of the combatants. If reactors had been available and accurately targetable, I expect they would not have been spared.

    The Tsunami in Japan was at least a one in 500 year event. The likelihood of a terrorist attack on an American nuclear power plant cannot be less than a one in 50 year event. A successful attack is nearly certain to involve intentional destruction of containment during the attack, allowing radiation from the reactor and/or waste pools to contaminate the facility almost immediately and to a much greater extent that has happened in Japan. Also, no time to evacuate.

    We need to worry about nuclear plant security more, even if 500 pound bombs are unlikely.

    The Tsunami in Japan was at least a one in 500 year event.

    Please stop repeating this, unless you can defend the calculation.
    Even if it were true, wouldn't it mean that, since 25 years is 5% of 500 years, this event had a 5% probability of occurring in the lifetime of the plant?

    A terrorist is highly unlikely to have access to the destructive energy of an earthquake and tsunami.

    Also, security dudes with assault rifles and SAMs can defend against terrorists; they're not so good at defending against tsunamis.

    I'm not saying the terrorist threat is negligible, but I don't think the Fukushima disaster tells us much about it.

    Witness the guy today in the right wing propaganda truck trying to crash the gates on one of the plants, what should be 20 miles inside the cleared area. There was still enough security to stop him getting in at both the reactor complexes. you'd have thought that security guards would have been some of the first people to get some distance as they werent going to risk themselves in the zone as they were unnecessary.

    Actually, he was stooped at Daiichi, but not at Daini.

    And it doesn't sound like he's a right-winger:

    In its daily status update on conditions at Daini, however, TEPCO characterized Watanabe as "a campaigner" -- meaning anti-nuclear -- who drove a "sound truck" around the complex for 12 minutes before driving out the gate he crashed. The company alerted Fukushima Prefecture police, who stopped Watanabe.


    he was reported as such in the singapore press, but thats just the headline


    Police tracked him down and detained him about two hours later, Sato told AFP. "His identity, motive and affiliation are not immediately clear," he said.

    Sato said the truck resembled those equipped with loudspeakers and often used by right-wing nationalist groups for political demonstrations.

    X-man or Incredible Hulk powers? Bhuddist monk type protest? All I know is it wasn't me, LOL. Serious problems though. I have a new boneheaded idea. Comes from Jan Baptist van Helmont. Who is he?

    Jan Baptist van Helmont (bapt. 12 January 1579[1] – 30 December 1644) was an early modern period Flemish chemist, physiologist, and physician. He worked during the years just after Paracelsus and iatrochemistry, and is sometimes considered to be "the founder of pneumatic chemistry". Van Helmont is remembered today largely for his ideas on spontaneous generation, his 5-year tree experiment, and his introduction of the word "gas" (from the Greek word chaos) into the vocabulary of scientists.
    Van Helmont was a careful observer of nature; it can be inferred that from his analysis of data gathered in his experiments suggested he had a concept of the conservation of mass. He performed an experiment to determine where plants get their mass. He grew a willow tree and measured the amount of soil, the weight of the tree and the water he added. After five years the plant had gained about 164 pounds. Since the amount of soil was basically the same as it had been when he started his experiment, he deduced that the tree's weight gain had come from water. Since it had received nothing but water and the soil weighed practically the same as at the beginning, he argued that the increased weight of wood, bark and roots had been formed from water alone. However, this "deduction" is incomplete, as a large proportion of the mass of the tree comes from atmospheric carbon dioxide, which, in conjunction with water, is turned into carbohydrates via photosynthesis.

    So the question is would a willow tree photosynthesize the radiation emitting particles laden water and allow the offending matter to be chemically separated from the water and thus greatly reduce the volume? It is late but is it that bad of an idea? Maybe a microorganism? Something to get the stuff separated that you just set and forget?

    Bioremediation and mycoremediation would help. Willow and other fast-growing woody plants have previously been used in cleaning up mining sites in the UK. I suspect the transpiration would leave a lot of the radioactive particles locked up in the tree. On a macro scale, it would be akin to a ~10m high permeable 'mop' established around the site.

    Certainly a planned replanting of the exclusion zone would be preferable to simply letting the current flora mix cope with the radioactive load.

    Indeed, the point I was making is that a terrorist does not need the power of a Tsunami. Stealth to get to the reactor (someone snuck up to the reactor where I used to live and hung a banner on it 50 feet up – can’t remember what it said). I know another story of stealth reactor entry as well.

    A few plastic explosives to open the waste pool building and a few explosives in the waste pool and the facility is too contaminated for workers. I could say more but won’t. While the terrorists understand the picture, one will get accused of helping them by others who don’t.

    Overwhelming on-site security can protect a plant, but we (the US) do not have that. Security is expensive and the industry argues it will never happen because there are easier targets and it has not happened. I hope you can appreciate the irony. Much more likely than a 14 meter (40 foot) tsunami.

    Overwhelming on-site security can protect a plant

    Not really, if the attacker can tell the plant to blow itself up over the internet

    (someone snuck up to the reactor where I used to live and hung a banner on it 50 feet up – can’t remember what it said)

    The only two reports of anything like this I can find were a protester who climbed Sellafield in 1992, and some folks who climbed a nearby electrical tower (not the plant) to protest Seabrook in 1989.

    I haven't found any reports of anyone getting near a nuke plant since 2001.

    Overwhelming on-site security can protect a plant, but we (the US) do not have that.

    Have you visited a U.S. nuclear plant since 2001? I have. (Seabrook, 2009). Background checks for all visitors, massive concrete-and-steel crash gates, triple-layer razor wire fencing, squads of black-clad dudes brandishing assault rifles, security towers with machine gun nests, and some carefully-phrased words from our guide about things he can't talk about which seemed to be related to air defense.

    Whether this security is *effective* I couldn't say, but it was definitely overwhelming.

    Whether this security is *effective* I couldn't say, but it was definitely overwhelming.

    .... and seriously expensive!!!.
    (and it will hike upwards, as the Fukushima lessons ripple through, to show you need to harden not just the core, but the Power backups too... )

    Any ideas of how many extra payrolls were added, to deliver what you saw ?

    There were at least 20 visible obvious security guys at the plant. If you assume another dozen less-visible personnel (managers, video watchers, perimeter patrol) and three 8-hour shifts per day, it's probably 80-90 full time employees. Figure they earn $60K a year (they were serious looking guys, not chubby rentacops) plus benefits, and the security detail probably costs $8 million a year.

    How much do you want to bet Homeland Security is paying their salaries, not the utility company?

    I think you missed the point, GoodMan. No power, no water, no communications, no security, no people qualified to properly shutdown the systems. How 'safe' is that?

    Reactor concrete containment vessels are so much tissue paper in front of modern penetrating weapons.

    Here's one video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHKkzuU2qtE

    Notice how the bomb emerges visually intact after penetrating through four feet of concrete - before it then explodes. Another poster has noted that there are weapons that will readil penetrate 30 feet of concrete. And in fact, the more recent systems will easily get through over 50 feet of rebarred concrete.

    No concrete reactor containment vessel in existence would survive a single hit from the least of the penetrating weapons in any modern state's military inventory.

    Bunker busters on Wikipedia. You'd need at most two GBU-15s or one GBU-37 to do the job on that plant.

    Not only should we be concerned about natural disasters, and 'terrorism', but nuclear reactors certainly aren't war-proof. What probability do we attach to a war occurring over the next century in Europe, Russia, Japan, America etc? Probability density functions can be generated for natural disasters but what about wars? A century (the shortest timescale one should be thinking about with respect to nuclear) is a very long time in politics.

    More precisely, the idea is that, rather than making sure power and cooling are always available, you make sure that the reactor doesn't need them.

    That is a good goal. To what extent has it been achieved in more modern reactors that are currently in operation? Are modern boiling water (BW)and pressurized water (PW) reactors designed to be stable in the event of a permanent loss of electrical power to run pumps and controls? How long can the reactors and their associated spent fuel pools remain stable without human intervention?

    I've been looking for specifics on the design basis accident scenarios for BW and PW reactors to try to answer some of these questions. Does anyone have any information?

    To what extent has it been achieved in more modern reactors that are currently in operation?

    Poorly. As I said, this has been a guiding principle for a couple of decades, but most operational plants are significantly older than that.

    Can't give detailed answers beyond that though.

    This film, A is for Atom, gives a good political-economic history of nuclear energy. In particular, it describes (around 21:00-29:00 marks) how the GE and Westinghouse reactors were just oversized simplest reactors for submarines with little adaptation. Containment problems under cooling failure were quickly foreseen. The Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards had warned the Atomic Energy Commission in 1966 that new reactors near NY and Chicago should have improved designs, and their letter should had been published by law. But the chairman Seaborg saw too much trouble for the industry, and vowed to negotiate privately - but pushing for a change in the whole manufacturing system was not a feasible approach for him. So he allowed the industry to bluff that they would stop making reactors if forced to deal with containment issues seriously...

    Good perspective, adamx.

    Would it be an irrational fear of radiation if the 30- or 40-something BWR (or PWR) in your own backyard was in station blackout for a couple/three weeks after a major quake, hurricane, tornado, 100-year flood, or terrorist attack?

    We think not.

    Irrational fears are those that have no basis in reason.

    Rather, it would be irrational exuberance, if not blind allegiance, to believe that a man-made marvel in your neighborhood which contains billions of curies of radioactivity is not without substantial risk in an imperfect world, let alone a half-dozen.




    Euan, you talk about "irrational fear." I would propose to you that if you think people have irrational fears then you have not performed a proper risk analysis. A nuclear power plant has a lifetime of 50 years or more. Projecting that lifespan into the next century we have ahead of us with very high probability of oil crises, resource wars, and depopulation, I can not see why anyone would want to bet on the risk/benefit analysis of nuclear power.

    Then there is the matter of the lifespan of the toxicity of the nuclear waste. Here we are talking about toxicity that lasts for millenia. Given what we know about the human race, are we really willing to bet that we can control that toxicity for that long? If industrial civilization falls then who will ensure the toxic waste is taken care of?

    "Irrational" is people who don't calculate risk in long timescales and are happy to stick future generations with insurmountable problems for our current gain.


    adamx, I'm glad you caught this error: 'irrational fear of radiation'. These types of falsehoods and misrepresentations constitute a steady chipping away at a very accurate human response towards radiation, one that I would suggest is in fact highly rational.

    What I find totally and utterly irrational is that when faced with the total inability to handle a process that was never meant to exist on earth, people continue to pretend that it's a rational decision to create it. This is simply false. It was a refusal to start winding down power consumption, coupled with a military requirement to obtain nuclear materials for nuclear weapons, that was directly responsible for humanity entering this lunatic course of action in the first place.

    The entire nuclear project has always been totally irrational, on so many levels it's really hard to pick just a few, but here's some: assumption, despite ALL history as positive proof against this faith, that societies will. continue to be able to handle these toxic systems as they change in fundamental ways. Poster child for this? Ukraine, today, requiring about 2 billion euros to create a new sarcophagus for Chernobyl.

    Assumption that current, present, financial situation, will enable states all around the planet to keep funding such toxins, and to then have the capital and resources required to do so into the future. This is almost beyond absurd, and seems to involve a willful decision to ignore the economic chaos that TOD posters have been noting for years as an almost inevitable outcome of global production maximums being reached in key raw materials, especially oil. In other words, current US debt levels are about 65 trillion, probably more now. Assuming this economic system will remain viable and able to cope with large scale and long lasting radiation releases from failed plants or improperly disposed of, or, as we have learned, not at all disposed of, radioactive materials, of all types, is totally irrational.

    Next: the assumption, again despite all empirical evidence to the contrary, that financial / political corruption will not work steadfastly and consistently to minimize disaster preparedness and to lower expected danger levels to fit required finance and cost compromises that constitute the essence of especially private industry, but also corrupt government/private connections like we find in China and France. Case studies: Bush group dismantles ability of FEMA to properly function, then Katrina exposes the non-existent privatized fraud that created almost no required response means. Case 2: Diable Canyon reactors in California, sue, successfully, to avoid proper disaster preparedness. That's in the San Andreas fault zone. Case study: Chinese freeway collapses due to contractors cheating; Chinese high rises collapse due to contractors cheating.

    Again, a clear and explicit case of irrationality and magical thinking ignoring reality on the parts of apologists. See the political/tepco ties in Japan that created lax regulations and enforcements as realworld examples of this.

    There are so many others, for example: in case engineers and other such alleged 'experts' we are supposed to have some faith in re nuclear energy were asleep in their required liberal arts classes, history in particular, several major regions of the globe were bombed heavily from 1938 to 1945, these regions today contain hundreds of reactors. They include China, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, etc. This war was not an aberration, these regions have been engaged in a near constant state of warfare since nation states came into existence. Thus, it is massively irrational to assume a precarious peace will last. Case studies, that are more recent than WWII: the former Yugoslavia blows up into violent warfare, that lasts for years, and features brutal and totally ruthless attacks on whatever was there to attack. Georgia, invaded by Russian backed troops, if I remember right.

    Other regions subjected to basically indiscriminate bombing campaigns post WWII: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Honduras, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia/Croatia.

    It is irrational to believe that what has always happened among a set of people will not happen because that makes the ideology that one is attempting to justify impossible to justify rationally. We have not entered into a magic golden age of peace and tranquility. The USA is currently involved in two occupying wars, a situation that makes the people who are occupied very grouchy. Pakistan is highly unstable. It is irrational to assume that when these states fail or collapse further that the world can fix the reactors as they begin to fail there.

    Key and absolutely core: the ongoing failure to engage in proper long term storage of nuclear core wastes as they are created. This is ongoing. Ignoring this fact nullifies all other positives. Pretending this stuff is going to go away when it has not gone away is profoundly irrational, since it ignores a reality that is clear and present for more than 40 years now. A corollary of this irrationality is saying certain wastes with half lives of say, 10,000 years will be safe in 10,000 years. This is of course beyond absurd, Fukushima has I believe 200 tons of this material. This means that in 40,000 years, the storage, should it even happen, will still contain 12 tons of highly radioactive materials. Ignoring this simple arithmetic is another example of the fundamentally irrational quality of the pro nuclear position. France, with their systems, cut this amount to 1/20th, but they do not eliminate it. I don't know the negatives of their methods, but I assume they are significant, since I now assume all propositions put forth by apologists are based on lies and deception.

    I could go on, but I believe it is totally pointless, because the level of irrationality and near willful self-delusion among proponents of this horrifying technology, which resembles in my opinion more than anything else an attempt to make material the notion of 'hell' that has always plagued Christian Western man (not anyone else, by the way, Hell is a fairly unique notion, not found really in the form we see it in Christian dogmas in other non-semitic religions.). One is tempted to note, following Soros, that nuclear bombs / reactors, are nothing more than a reflexive effort to make real the core Christian bias of a thing so evil that it defies all human attempts to control it. Sort of like a nuclear reaction, that is. I think people understand this at some core level, and it is this that makes them have the utterly rational reaction of abhorrance that apologists strive to minimize.

    But I also do not believe that such decisions were ever made rationally, nor do I believe that proponents of these long lasting toxin generators are proponents for rational reasons. This has grown very obvious to me reading these threads. I am heartened however by the fact that normal people continue to have a rational reaction, which PR and spin and self-interested deception and misdirection, internalized by some, propagated by others, constantly is trying to fight and suppress.

    It took a disaster of epic proportions to expose this design flaw

    The fundamental design flaws of both BWRs and PWRs have been known and publicised for over 40 years.

    And still the industry refused to acknowledge them or do anything about them.

    And the regulators weren't any better.

    That's not going to change, believe me.

    Typically on any project engineers don't make the most important decisions. Senior management driven by a focus to keep shareholders happy make the key decisions.

    And even if engineers were to make the "right" decisions those decisions are always based on a certain set of assumptions. As Mr Rumsfeld said "we have known knowns, we have known unknowns and we have unknown unknowns." It doesn't mean that in the face of uncertainty that we do nothing. It means that in the face of uncertainty we don't pretend to have the level of certainty that you seem to possess.

    Do we include non-technical people in technical discussions "over their head" or do we leave it to the really smart, technically competent people to just call the shots? How do we choose between two seemingly competent people who radically disagree? Would you undergo a high risk, complicated surgery without the benefit of informed consent or would just trust the surgeon to make the most important decisions?Albert Einstein said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

    Your post seems more rant than well thought out.

    Thank You mister hydrogen. I was thinking today to say many of those things but having very limited time on the computer for surfing (damn work!) I'm glad there are good people saying good things - keep up the good work and don't get discouraged by the shadows that lurk here.

    I would like to comment on the accusation the other day someone made about the Japanese vegetable Farmer who hung himself out of desperation that suggested it was this kind of irrational fear-mongering that had caused him to take his life.

    Since the people making these accusations are on one hand always reminding us to make civil, objective, factual comments - since emotional ones are flawed with irrationality - I will start with this:

    As a military instructor with over a decade of experience - I can authoritatively say that people's fear comes from uncertainty. Uncertainty is caused by lack of knowledge, facts, information, awareness of what is going on. Now, our mission, at least for most of us, is to find as much of those as possible - discuss them with great detail - and find new ones. It is this process which keep people sane in crisis. Not uncertainty.

    The authorities and the nuclear lobby have nothing to offer to these people but fear uncertainty and doubt, for whom among the educated, or even the uneducated, population these days has any blind trust in what governments or corporation say in their press statements! I mean these people should be the professionals: they have the expertise and the technology for handling mass-media, crisis management, communication to public - books have been written, seminars held - and yet we get these "Don't worry, everything's under control" level statements - cliches by now in our culture for the very opposite. With a track record like that, it is actually a very rational conclusion that the population makes. Unless you get a second, independent source, or indication saying the same thing - these statements are not worth the bits and bytes they are broadcast on.

    Now for the emotional bit (which I like better)

    I have briefly been allowed to take advantage of the warm hospitality of a retired couple in the rural farming area of Japan couple of winters ago. For weeks I was their honored guest and was introduced to their community. A landscape full of life - hill sides, topped with all varieties of delicious citrus fruit hanging heavy and rice paddies as far as the eye could see. And all I could see were people - people working with their hands everywhere. On one occasion I saw a tractor in operation - a very tiny one - Americans or even Europeans would consider it a small lawnmower - but for the Japanese farmer it is sufficient and flexible - a multipurpose tool.

    Those who doubt the rationality of these people - their judgement about their own livelihoods - from the safety of their computer desk - are not worth the manure spread on these fields.

    These people know what the cycle of life is about: pure water, healthy soil, active microbial life, abundant overflowing wildlife everywhere: tori, shika, inoshishi, tanuki … I have seen them all! (also eaten a few). These people know when their ancestral land is threatened - perhaps for generation to come.

    And they also know the hard facts of life - better than anyone living on our city-life magical pay-checks - they are the primary producers of goods - which when tainted, for real or in the minds of the market, they can no longer sell - and it is the only way of life for them. Destruction of that is the end.

    For the Japanese it is considered very honorable way to go to take ones life - it shows great courage and conviction of belief in what they have decided to do - determination and ultimate realization of their situation. It is not a decision people take on a whim.

    Now this is all of course speculation without knowing the details and circumstances of this sad victim.

    However I just wanted to point out why I today again have to explain things on the phone to my Japanese friends - since they have no other source of information whom they can trust - and they are rightfully and justifiably scared. It is now my role to calm them with 'rational' arguments about how there is still hope in the uncertainty - how life can still go on. I would not dream of 'fear-mongering' to them - their hearts are already too heavy with fear and sadness for their beautiful land. Even as I do feel guilty and dishonest, almost lying to them about what I really think, when I'm not speculating the risks for real, giving them the worst case scenarios - but I can feel them making those conclusions on their own - I don't need to voice them...

    So to who ever was the couch potato who came up with this idea should consult a psychiatrist: there is a quiz you can take - I hear your fellow corporate personhoods score very highly on it too.

    Even when a small part of the earth dies, it's the whole world for those who truly live there.

    RE: Thank You mister hydrogen, or Mr. Hydrogen Molecule
    LOL. (or L2O - laughing gas)

    I could go on, but I believe it is totally pointless, because the level of irrationality and near willful self-delusion among proponents of this horrifying technology

    A bit melodramatic but don't give up.

    I have always been a proponent of nuclear power while recognizing the problems associated with "spent fuel". I was maybe an 8 on a 10 scale.

    Fukushima set me back to a 6 and a mind set that older nuclear plants should be replaced with newer, safer versions.

    Your dissertation about the timeline of wars and the destruction they bring gives me an additional data point I had not considered seriously. I am now probably a 4 or 5 and can better see the advantage of many small "mini-nucs", widely dispersed and only storing limited fuel. And the question of long term storage can probably only be satisfactorily answered by almost complete utilization of the fuel.

    I understand we still do not agree as you are probably a -1 on my 1 to 10 scale but the point of the reply is that, as long as your arguments are grounded in fact, you should continue to make them.

    "I have always been a proponent of nuclear power while recognizing the problems associated with "spent fuel". I was maybe an 8 on a 10 scale.""

    If you are such a "proponent"...when does your flight leave for Tokyo, to assist, first hand, in the clean up?

    Choose Wisely.
    The Martian

    RE: A bit melodramatic
    Yea, and long. Focus.

    Great post. I guess "corruption" is the right term to use for when politicians and business people engage in wishful thinking regarding preparation necessary for something in order to save costs or lie about what they have done or what could happen in order to save costs. But it does keep cropping up over and over again.

    I saw a documentary on the Brooklyn Bridge and they caught a contractor giving defective cables and getting away with it by falsely claiming that the good samples that were being tested each time were from the most recent batch. They had a newspaper headline saying the owner of that firm would now be "pounding rocks in jail". I think we ought to jail these people who cut corners, lie or engage in wishful thinking, and of course they should also be pounding rocks while they are there. And that goes for AIG executives as well as TEPCO. Also anyone who failed to heed warnings or were reponsible for the effective operation of the New Orleans levy system. Etc. If someone feels that going to jail is too much in order for them to take the job, there will still be people willing to take the job and I am sure those people will be much more aggressive in taking precautionary actions.

    It is amazing how easy it is to get a nuclear plant meltdown. Just make the cooling system inoperable. Only one system is between catastrophe and safety.

    Punishment should fit crime regardless of the necktie...


    Jan 21, 2009 BEIJING (AFP) — A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced two men to death and gave stiff jail terms to 19 others over a milk scandal that led to widespread poisoning of babies in China and dairy recalls around the world.

    The former head of the dairy firm at the heart of the scandal, Tian Wenhua, a 66-year-old woman accused of initially covering it up, was among three people jailed for life.

    handle a process that was never meant to exist on earth

    Not obvious. I can accept that you feel that way, but ... so what?

    What I find totally and utterly irrational is that when faced with the total inability to handle a process that was never meant to exist on earth

    uugghhh--just what vantage point do you have that lets you see what was meant to exist or meant not to exist on this planet?

    I certainly do believe in trying to have the long view of what 'self' interest really is but as far as the never meant to exist on earth area--very unhealthy place to allow one's mind to roam, in my opinion...

    What I find totally and utterly irrational is that when faced with the total inability to handle a process that was never meant to exist on earth,

    Err, others have commented, but I'll add that radioactive decay is NOT 'man made', but entirely natural, and indeed, you would not be posting this if radioactive decay 'never existed on earth', let alone the more delusional claim of 'never meant to exist on earth'.

    You can debate Man's ability to control the tiger he has by the tail, but the arm-waving claims above do not help your debate at all.

    Try this for some facts :

    The Earth's internal heat comes from a combination of residual heat from planetary accretion (about 20%) and heat produced through radioactive decay (80%).

    At the moment it does not say "irrational fear". Did he change the post?

    This may be so, but populations around the world fear radiation and it is the public that will have the final say.

    Ah, yes he did...

    So its sort of there are rational pros and cons, and even if all that can be resolved in an economically feasible way, there will remain, still, the irrational, and self-interest, and mendacity. We still will have a choice to make.

    Thank you for this substantial overview. Just a minor remark.

    2) Chernobyl had a graphite core that burned, spreading radioactive material far and wide.

    It is discussed controversially if in Chernobyl Graphit fires actually occured. It is not very likely that this was the case.


    Although most reports on the Chernobyl accident refer to a number of graphite fires, it is highly unlikely that the graphite itself burned. According to the General Atomics website (http://gt-mhr.ga.com/safety.php): "It is often incorrectly assumed that the combustion behavior of graphite is similar to that of charcoal and coal. Numerous tests and calculations have shown that it is virtually impossible to burn high-purity, nuclear-grade graphites." On Chernobyl, the same source states: "Graphite played little or no role in the progression or consequences of the accident. The red glow observed during the Chernobyl accident was the expected color of luminescence for graphite at 700°C and not a large-scale graphite fire, as some have incorrectly assumed."

    A 2006 Electric Power Research Institute Technical Report2 states that the International Atomic Energy Agency's INSAG-1 report is
    ...potentially misleading through the use of imprecise words in relation to graphite behaviour. The report discusses the fire-fighting activities and repeatedly refers to “burning graphite blocks” and “the graphite fire”. Most of the actual fires involving graphite which were approached by fire-fighters involved ejected material on bitumen-covered roofs, and the fires also involved the bitumen. It is stated: “The fire teams experienced no unusual problems in using their fire-fighting techniques, except that it took a considerable time to extinguish the graphite fire.” These descriptions are not consistent with the later considered opinions of senior Russian specialists... There is however no question that extremely hot graphite was ejected from the core and at a temperature sufficient to ignite adjacent combustible materials.

    There are also several referrals to a graphite fire occurring during the October 1957 accident at Windscale Pile No. 1 in the UK. However, images obtained from inside the Pile several decades after the accident showed that the graphite was relatively undamaged.

    General Atomic has a dog in the fight (several modern nuclear reactor designs), so one might expect them to minimize the probability of nuclear graphite combustion.

    "A Safety Assessment of the Use of Graphite in Nuclear Reactors Licensed by the U.S. NRC" is interesting reading, and it's at http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/servlets/purl/6102304-MrUjOv/6102304...

    It's extremely likely that graphite burned at Chernobyl.

    The problem is that pretty much anyone who has deep knowledge on nearly any technical subject got there by raising puppies.

    S/C is the suppression chamber (the torus) not secondary containment.

    Will need to wait for schoff to clarify.

    See http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/images/spent-fuel-pool-820.jpg

    S/C pressure from NISA is in Suppression Chamber, which is the torus, wetwell. See also http://www.nei.org/filefolder/Report_-_BWR_Mark_I_Containment_03192011_2....

    Second containment is the whole cement building.

    I believe it is the Suppression Chamber Torus. The German GRS ( http://www.grs.de ) used the word "Kondensationskammer" for these values and I doubt if any sensors are working in what remains of the secondary containment... That said, as values for huge quantities of water completely outside containment have been reported over 1 sievert/hr, I don't think it makes much difference anyway.

    Edit: Found the latest GRS summary in English. See Chapter 4 beginning page 35 of http://www.grs.de/sites/default/files/UE-STC-Stand_1020_300311.pdf

    Latest values they have are given as

    Unit Containment Suppression Pool (sieverts/hr)
    1    33.8        19.7
    2    40.5        1.33
    3    28.6        1.16

    Thy also add that they are not in a position to ascertain if any of the information provided by TEPCO is "reliable or incorrect".

    The numbers from schoff are a week old now. So with about one half life of 131Iodine gone, could explain the small decline in the D/W. But that's a huge jump in the Suppression pool of 1. Maybe they had just done a wet well vent?

    I think there may be a missing trailing zero in schoff's figure. Here is what GRS reported for 24th March

    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)

    I wonder if Schoff's figure was actually 3490 rem/hour (34.9 sieverts/hr) and not 349 for S/C 1

    Maybe Schoff's figures were slightly earlier though before a sudden increase. Don't think GRS has an earlier reading than the 24th data above.

    New update http://www.grs.de/sites/default/files/UE-STC-Stand_1230_310311.pdf

      Cnt  S/C
    1 37.7 18.2
    2 39.6 1.26
    3 26.8 1.09

    I would expect to see higher radiation levels in the suppression pool for Reactor 2 if there was a hole in the vessel itself. Is the containment value for the area between the reactor and the concrete containment structure?

    From the JIAF status report 2100 March 31


    under the heading below labeled: Environmental effect

    Radiation dose higher than 1000 mSv was measured at the surface of water accumulated in the basement of Unit 2 turbine building and in the tunnel for laying piping outside the building on March 27.

    Hi Euan,

    Very helpful summary, but discouraging.


    Hi Dave, I guess for the sake of the Japanese we need to hope that west wind continues to blow. E

    Up to 1,000 bodies left untouched within Fukushima no-go zone

    Radiation fears have prevented authorities from collecting as many as 1,000 bodies of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami from within the 20-km-radius evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, police sources said Thursday.

    This begs the question, how are they going to dispose of the bodies which must by now be radioactive? I doubt that they will just be able to wash them off as they will be in an advanced state of decomposition by now. I can't very well see the Japanese authorities, if the bodies are recovered allowing them to be taken too another place and just buried. Doing that there is the possibility of radioactivity leaking into the ground water, and cremation would definitely be out. Lead lined coffins anyone. I apologize for being so macabre but I think it will be a few more weeks before the real horror of this disaster and its consequences begin to sink in.

    They should just leave them in place. It will be a good draw for tourism when the Fukushima "extreme" tours begin in 30 years.



    The tours will be commence much later than 30 years, Dan. This catastrophe is going to end up a lot hotter than Chernobyl, IMO.

    I know, just trying to use some humor to deal with the scope of the tragedy.

    I am convinced that by the time this is over they will need a new "Level 8" in the currently 7-level nuclear accident rating system to categorize what has happened here.


    Yeah we have ~10-fold more radioactivity that will be released in Japan if this goes on for another couple of months. An order of magnitude seems worthy of a Level 8 rating. No one can stop it so we should get there soon.

    How large areas will become uninhabitable? Considering things are not under control and the possibility of changing winds things could go much worse. Still forecasts on wind direction ( http://www.yr.no/place/Japan/Fukushima/Fukushima-shi/detailed_long.html ) seem to be favorable for the next 10 days.

    Where do we stand now as to depositions of radioactive material? It is very hard to get a grip on.

    IAEA states (http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html )

    Based on measurements of I-131 and Cs-137 in soil, sampled from 18 to 26 March in 9 municipalities at distances of 25 to 58 km from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the total deposition of iodine-131 and cesium-137 has been calculated. The results indicate a pronounced spatial variability of the total deposition of iodine-131 and cesium-137. The average total deposition determined at these locations for iodine-131 range from 0.2 to 25 Megabecquerel per square metre and for cesium-137 from 0.02-3.7 Megabecquerel per square metre. The highest values were found in a relatively small area in the Northwest from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. First assessment indicates that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village. We advised the counterpart to carefully assess the situation. They indicated that they are already assessing.

    Now, at Chernobyl areas above 1.5 MBq/m2 of CS-137 are in principle evacuated/abandoned. Whereas areas above 0.5 MBq/m2 are under special restrictions. (http://www.stralsakerhetsmyndigheten.se/Publikationer/Rapport/Stralskydd... )

    Euan (above) states: “There is a 30 km exclusion zone in place and thousands of residents have become refugees with little prospect of returning home in the near future.”
    That is probably true, but it is extremely hard to figure out what the long-term consequences in this respect will be – even assuming minimal additional release and deposition of radioactive materials.

    Anyone who can add to what we actually know about the present contamination situation for Japan?

    Maybe this document (in Japanese) can give some information:

    The new scientist report refers to (Australian researchers?) worldwide radiation detection and sampling network which has so far shown "daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daichi (FD) ... around 60 per cent of … Chernobyl"

    Could we get the original source and data? Some observations:

    1. The pattern is repeated: in the Chernobyl incident it was foreign (I believe Swedish) detection stations which first notified the world of the event. It took many days, weeks even to get any meaningful info from the local authorities. How much do the Japanese authorities really know about the mass, composition and distribution of the fallout? They certainly aren't releasing that info.

    2. If the daily rates of release are 60% of Chernobyl - is that cumulative or is there a variation? Otherwise: Chernobyl was 8 days of burning vs. FD 15 days of release. This could potentially make them around the same already (as if that actually mattered much … these numbers are roughly equal anyway when it comes to contamination of the soil for the next 150 years!").

    The direction of the wind during those days is critical - but so is the temperature of the released steam - with Chernobyl you had hot smoke going up to stratosphere with global distribution. With FD you have steam possibly going not so high so the concentration of the fallout will be nearer and so worse.

    3. Until we get some real data - here is a possibility of what Japan could look like:

    Exclusion zones due to soil contamination for the next 150 years:
    - whole of Iwate prefecture - 15,000 sq km - 1,3 million nuclear refugees
    - whole of Fukushima prefecture - 14,000 sq km - 2 million nuclear refugees
    Other nearby prefectures effected: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata: let say another 10,000 sq km - 1 million nuclear refugees.

    Cost of the accident (annually): lets say 2% of GDP - 100 billion USD. And I'm not even going to mention the deformed babies.

    But this is just my fear-mongering irrational radiation fear talking. Go Nuclear Go!

    Wind and solar may have a lot of negatives, but at least the babies don't come out deformed.

    I hope TEPCO or whoever has a very large credit card limit.

    Considering birth defects from radiation, an excerpt from John Anjain, Alab of Rongelap, Marshall Islands
    . . . In 1957 the people returned to Rongelap and the DOE promised that there wouldn't be any problems to the Rongelap people. However in 1958 and 1959 most of the women gave birth to something that was not resembling human beings. There was a woman giving birth to a grape. Another woman gave birth to something that resembles a monkey. And so on. There was a child born at that time and there was no shell covering the top of that child's head.

    The American doctors came every year to examine us. Every year they came, and they told us that we were not sick, and then they would return the next year. But they did find something wrong. They found one boy did not grow as fast as boys his age. They gave him medicine. Then they began finding the thyroid sickness.

    My son Lekoj was thirteen when they found his thyroid was sick. They took him away to a hospital in America. They cut out his thyroid. They gave him some medicine and told him to take it every day for the rest of his life. The same thing happened to other people. The doctors kept returning and examining us. Several years ago, they took me to a hospital in America, and they cut out my thyroid. They gave me medicine and told me to take it every day for the rest of my life.

    I think it may have been Austrian, rather than Australian researchers. The world wide monitoring network that they run is to do with the atomic test ban treaty. Try http://www.zamg.ac.at/aktuell/index.php?seite=1&artikel=ZAMG_2011-03-29G...

    "with Chernobyl you had hot smoke going up to stratosphere with global distribution. With FD you have steam possibly going not so high so the concentration of the fallout will be nearer and so worse."

    With radiation contamination found in milk in Washington State. In at least 6 other states in the USA traces of contamination from Japan have been found, the same for Iceland, Russia, Canada and China. Presumably other countries will follow.

    Yes, that definitely sounds like contamination has stayed local to the area and isn't on a global scale...

    The link I gave above to the IAEA report is to the present/latest update/report. The copied text is now substituted and can be retrieved from the "archive".

    In the latest update those extremely high figures of Cs on the ground is no longer included.

    NHK was in full damage limitation mode trying to say that the Japanese people were being confused by the IAEA and should go by the superior Japanese measurement methods. They also claimed that the IAEA had found high levels of iodinde-131 (which would quickly decrease because of its half-life) and not caesium-137.

    The IAEA has perhaps been told to shut-up.

    So maybe radiation embargoes on Japanese food and goods exports are not such a bad idea.

    Excellent post, thanks.

    I do think the final paragraph could use a little tweaking.

    Rational voices point to the fact that most modern reactors in operation as well as those being built and planned are much safer than the aging fleet at Fukushima Dai-ichi. This may be so, but populations around the world have irrational fear of radiation.

    Whether one agrees with them or not, there are perfectly rational arguments for leaving uranium in the ground, as well as pro-nuke arguments that are flat-out delusional.

    Keep up the great work.

    Greenish, on a scale of 1 to 10 I would have placed myself around 8 in terms of being pro-nuclear prior to this. But a large number of unkown knowns have become known knowns as a result and my confidence in the nuclear industry is rattled and I would now place myself around 5 or 6 - i.e. undecided. A curious thing for me is that a number of nuclear enthusiasts appear to not have had their confidence dented at all. They are either extremely clever and logical or lack the ability to learn from experience. There is no doubt different people think in different ways. Geologists tend to be empirically based and will happily revise theories as new evidence comes to light. Theorists I believe find it more difficult to revise and update their positions.

    There are of course a number of different positions on the nuclear debate which are rational - this is a multi polar hugely complex issue.

    I was very pro-nuclear before the accident. And I reserve the right to wait untill this thing ends, and we really know what happened before revising my oppinion. We'll probably learn a lot in the next two years.

    That said, I think it is quite sane to wait before commiting to any plans on extending nuclear power. I just think it is insane to simply abandon them based on such little information as we have now.

    Euan well said.

    Geologists tend to be empirically based and will happily revise theories as new evidence comes to light. Theorists I believe find it more difficult to revise and update their positions.

    Quote of the day
    (and Im a theorist, btw)

    the larger the circle of our knowledge the greater the circumference of our ignorance.

    I really liked this, attributed to Einstein, posted by Razrmon

    Geologists tend to be empirically based and will happily revise theories as new evidence comes to light. Theorists I believe find it more difficult to revise and update their positions.

    I disagree. Geologists as a whole appear very resistant to new ideas in the sense of advancing science. One only has to look at the adoption of plate tectonics theory.

    But when it comes to applying science to further exhaust resources, as in the case of e.g. maximum entropy spectral analysis, then no problem, they get the geophysicists to come up with the ideas.

    Many people do not understand that every discipline in science is divided roughly into two camps of research. In one camp sit the theorists, who dream up the new ideas using the vocabulary of science, i.e. math. In the other camp are the experimentalists, who try to prove or disprove the theories, or occasionally just hack away hoping to stumble across something. Sometimes you find the researcher who does both.

    So by saying that "theorists" are somehow separate from geologists in general, you imply that geology does not follow that traditional division of roles. I kind of buy into that, because the real ideas come out of geophysics and not geology anyways. Geology is essentially a descriptive science that assumes no physics, and so that is why geophysics was introduced as a curriculum.

    The elephant in the room is the unsolvable issue of thousands of tons of nuclear waste. Some people such as Reagan have said that you could store the all the waste under your desk, other contend that radiation at low levels is actually good for you.
    I should concern you that nowhere(France included) has the looming problem of radioactive waste disposal been solved in 60 years of nuclear power.


    One odd idea worth a shot is burning the waste in fusion reactors, but fission reactors will always produce dangerous radioactive products of fission.

    There have also been theoretical studies involving the use of fusion reactors as so called "actinide burners" where a fusion reactor plasma such as in a tokamak, could be "doped" with a small amount of the "minor" transuranic atoms which would be transmuted (meaning fissioned in the actinide case) to lighter elements upon their successive bombardment by the very high energy neutrons produced by the fusion of deuterium and tritium in the reactor. A study at MIT found that only 2 or 3 fusion reactors with parameters similar to that of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) could transmute the entire annual minor actinide production from all of the light water reactors presently operating in the United States fleet while simultaneously generating approximately 1 gigawatt of power from each reactor.[53]


    Maybe not solved but at least plans are completed for a final repository in Sweden.

    The authorities are reviewing SKB's applications for the permit from a safety and environmental perspective.
    The applications for a permit to build a final repository for spent nuclear fuel, and an encapsulation plant, were submitted in March 2011.


    Edit: Note the timing of this application - it was submitted on March 16.

    "The elephant in the room is the unsolvable issue of thousands of tons of nuclear waste."

    This, for me, is the great fission disqualifier. Billions spent, proposals presented, permits issued and revoked .... as of now it is clear that this waste is growing and will outlast our civilization many times. For me, this is unconscionable. "We'll figure something out" is the same as dismissing the problem. I refuse to discount the future to this extent. Arguments that coal is worse, etc., are poor at best, false choices of choosing our poison even worse. Ultimately we will be forced to live within our realtime solar alotment. Best to get started now.

    This alone should be enough to stop fission dead in it's tracks. We are saying to our grandchildren "Here's our deadly waste, it's up to you to deal with it. Tough Luck!" And we don't even leave them an economy or the technology capable of dealing with it. Somewhere I heard this called "The greatest unfunded mandate in the history of the world."

    It is the new Capitalism. Capitalism is the economic theory whereby you steal from the livelihoods of future generations to fund the present unsustainable path. We will not stop until the tipping point is reached, i.e. when the future has nothing to give. This is why I no longer have any faith in humanity. When will the radiation minimums be lifted to higher level for farming so we can all start eating radiowaste filled food that the big-business food processors slip into our pre-fab food?

    Grade U. Radioactive but edible. New FDA labeling practice.

    RPFP: Radioactively Pest Free Produce

    SISF: Self-Irradiating Salmonella Free!

    SPM: Self-Pasturizing Milk (extended shelf life)

    LLFICT: Low Level Food Integrated Cancer Therapy

    While capitalism fits nicely with our past genetic fitness (discounting the future, heuristic thinking, basing reality on myth and story), it is now bumping against its downfall- resource restraints (capitalism needs constant expansion).
    Out fitness traits that have brought success in the past are now liabilities.

    Well, it fit nicely for the winners. That's a minor quibble, however, in the context of the current situation.

    Little question in my mind that the religion of Capitalism is no longer adaptive, whether it previously has been or not.

    When will the radiation minimums be lifted to higher level for farming so we can all start eating radiowaste filled food that the big-business food processors slip into our pre-fab food?

    " Wed Mar 16, 9:22am, AP reports: Japan has raised the maximum radiation dose allowed for nuclear workers, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts. It described the move as 'unavoidable due to the circumstances.' "

    Whenever THEY want...

    This will make perfectly good sense when people would starve next month versus dying next decade. I'm sure somebody, somewhere would gladly eat the forbidden veggies right now. More importantly, I am positive that somebody, somewhere willingly would sell them to the unknowing, misrepresenting them as viable produce. And probably somebody would pay to have them disposed of. Presto! A market!

    "When will the radiation minimums be lifted to higher level for farming so we can all start eating radiowaste filled food that the big-business food processors slip into our pre-fab food?"

    That already happened on the 27th of March[1]. On that date the European Union has increased the radiological limits for food imports from Japan, so that less products are effected.

    It referred to a law from 1987, that allowed to increase limits in case of nuclear emergency.

    A rather sad state of affairs!

    [1] http://foodwatch.de/kampagnen__themen/radioaktivitaet/lebensmittel_impor... (German)

    Actually, the nuclear waste problem is very much solvable, and nearly all of the necessary technology for doing so is already developed and proven. Most of our existing stockpile of nuclear waste can be eliminated by being "burned" to produce large amounts of electricity using Molten Salt Reactors based on Thorium and the fuel cycle of Thorium 232 to Uranium 233. This may be best realized by a design known as the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) which was proven by daily running of a prototype LFTR during nearly 20 years of work at Oak Ridge Nat'l Lab during the 1960's and 1970's. Do a search on "thorium energy" or see the following links:



    Thorium-based reactors can burn most of the existing nuclear waste to produce electricity, and such reactors can be highly efficient, producing very little waste of their own (some estimates say only 1% of the waste from current reactors) and that waste is relatively short-lived.

    Even with existing plants, much of the waste can be recycled, and much of the western European waste is recycled every day (and has been for 30 years) by the French facility at La Hague.

    So, is the amount of nuclear waste going up or down?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Of course that would depend on how many were built and how much of our current waste pile was actually reburned--love to see some credible numbers on the latter. The much, much shorter radioactive life of the waste stream was a big selling point if I recall.

    Build it and they will come.


    "Actually, the nuclear waste problem is very much solvable ..."

    Many 'solvable' problems remain unsolved, including nuclear waste. In case you haven't noticed, we humans are in a world of shit trouble. Time is short; better get your technucopians busy. It seems that this issue isn't much of a priority, but perhaps this debacle will change that. So far: decades late, billions of dollars short.

    Except, if you actually listened rather than go into histrionics, the nuclear waste problem is solvable, and has been for years. The French have had reactors that can burn all fissionable materials and even transmute actinides not used for fuel into useful fuel loads, thus negating the fuel peak for fission that some throw around.

    Histrionics mysterionics. Pay attention now, Valdey. The problem is not being effectively dealt with on the scale required. Saying that it can be is meaningless. I see no sign that the nuclear industry is about to have a nuclear-waste-come-to-Jesus moment and deal with it. Meantime, no support from my quarter.

    For those who think there is an easy solution to Nuclear waste you should spend a few hous reading about clean up attempts at Hanford Washington Site and its 130 odd underground tanks which has been addmitted that 60 odd are leaking and will eventualy enter Colombia river.
    Wiki have a good article and good links.
    It scared me,and thank fully I like on a seperate continent
    It is also the Final resting place for all US Nuclear subs

    Exactly right.

    I would compare this question of Waste to that of the modern, 'Industrial Diet'. It's not hard to create a healthy diet for Americans, let's say .. we know so much about the 'low hanging fruit' (if you will) that has us eating so poorly, and yet competing against the sheer economic attractiveness and profitability of taking cheaper, more addictive and ultimately shorter term options has kept us from moving solidly in a healthy direction.

    You should see the artificial, sugary crap wrapped in plastic and baked with known no-no's that are placed before my daughter and her friends in the school lunch program. One of the girls just told me 'This breakfast is disgusting!', holding a honey-bun in her hand, and taking a bite nonetheless.. Yucka Mountain, indeed!

    Fuel Recycling has probably as many disincentives as it does attractions, or else it would be happening en-masse already. Like deepwater oil wells, I suspect it will ultimately become economically more appealing, but at that point, would probably be an indicator that the overall economics of Nuclear likely are even worse than they are now. Dead End.

    There is a link above to the French recycling and storage efforts. (I'm too lazy to go back and find it) They now have over 81,000 cubic feet of high level waste and 1.5 million cubic feet of lesser radioactive waste that they are planning to bury underground. So, again, what they are "able to do" is really totally irrelevant. What they are doing is pushing the problem off to future generations. Just as the US nuclear industry is doing.

    deep burial of nuclear waste is not pushing the problem off to a future generation. The technical aspects of burying nuclear waste have been researched to death. The waste problem is now mostly political, not technical.

    Thorium-based reactors can burn most of the existing nuclear waste to produce electricity, and such reactors can be highly efficient, producing very little waste of their own (some estimates say only 1% of the waste from current reactors) and that waste is relatively short-lived.

    Please send the Corporate Names and Locations of 5 of these commercially operating Thorium reactors along with the tonnage of waste they can handle each month.

    I would very much like to send each a RFP for proccessing several thousand tons of highly radioactive waste. Since this waste is a fuel source we would expect to be paid on a per kg basis for this waste - say $30/kg. Only serious inquires need apply.

    And as I said in the previous Fukushima thread, they cannot possibly make any significant difference before 2050, if at all in this century. Unless we're incredibly foolish and rush into manufacture and production without doing a full lifespan test of a few scaled up prototypes.

    But doubtless the nuke-crazed technofixers will do their best to rush them into production without proper long-term testing.

    Seraph, let's form a joint venture. It's amazing that the world's operators have overlooked this opportunity.

    We're going to be rich!

    so does that mean ever thing has to be commercial to be worth anything?

    "so does that mean ever thing has to be commercial to be worth anything?"

    No, Ida, it is NOT a restatement of the idea that the only measure of worth is price.

    Seraph is responding to a claim by josserand that spent nuclear fuel can be made harmless by something called a Thorium reactor. The thorium reactor idea has been investigated in research laboratories, but no one has ever actually tried to build one big enough to clean up the waste from a single traditional reactor, much less from all the traditional reactors that have been operating over the past fifty or more years. A big difficulty with ideas like the thorium reactor is that almost nothing but dreaming about them has been done for thirty or more years. The mention of money was, I think, intended as a derisive dismissal of a flawed idea. Seraph can, of course, expand his comment if he wishes, but I think I understand, I agree, and I think his words are about as harsh as can be done in polite conversation, and therefore are entirely appropriate.

    It does when you're making the claim that nuclear power is cheaper than the alternatives.

    Great post and thank you. Thank you for the work and thanks to those techs and scientists for sharing their knowledge.

    I read with great concern the anger and disdain (uphill) of engineers vrs. humanity majors etc., as regards to this accident, and commentaries, thereof. Surely, we are more than our parts and formal schooling. Surely, society needs us all.

    My biggest concern is/was envisioning the time-line of technological inventions; from the wheel, agriculture, written language, etc., and then trying to equate the technology that requires safe storage of materials that have a 28 thousand year half life.

    Possible from an engineering standpoint? of course. Likely to be successful from a historical perspective? Not likely. The nightmare such technical achievements may become for our children? Beyond priceless.

    Technical training is wonderful, but I submit it will be a sense of humanity that will save our species.

    When this accident happened I chose to reread Diamonds "Why societies choose to fail....(or whatever the title is), and I find it much more meaningful. I suggest that how we tackle our energy problems and other technical challenges will require a multi-disciplinary approach, as well as common courtesy.

    With all due respect, as a long time builder I have had to re-design a great deal of engineered specifications that had absolutely no foundation in the real world. I have met machinists who are brilliant designers and certainly lack a formal degree. The degree does not make the person any more than a suit of clothes or the address we live at.

    Cheers, and respectfully....Paulo

    The elephant in the room is the unsolvable issue of thousands of tons of nuclear waste.

    I'm kinda unsure about this. I don't feel it is really an issue. Maybe we'll have to revise some safety measure post-fukushima but other than that, I fail to see any major problem related to waste. It stay isolated from environment, so no harm, and we can do so in a economic way, where is the problem here?

    We might have some problem here but again, I fail to see a problem of the scale of coal ash spill or whatever other waste issues we had.

    I can understand I does feel like a elephant in the room but I think we make it far bigger then it really is.

    perhaps one can say that the waste problem is technically solvable, but the fact remains that in actual practice it has not been solved. all over the world there are nuclear waste in more or less dubious temporary places. and as far as i know in most places waste is likely to remain in these temporary places rather "permanently"...

    nuclear waste has been a POLITICAL problem for a long time. It is not a technical or engineering problem.

    It is not a technical problem, until you notice your wonderful waterproof salt mine where you stored all your waste in was not quite so water tight and the salty brine has corroded through the steal barrier and is now leaking radioactive waste into the environment after less than 50 years!

    It also just costs you a simple estimated 2 Billion Euro (and rapidly rising) to retrieve the wast you thought was safe and start from square zero to figure out what to do with it.

    But otherwise yup, no technical problem.

    As an example of this happening take the Salt mine Asse 2 in Germany as a good example of how storing nuclear waste is not a technical problem...


    Not a technical or engineering problem?

    Key Technical Issues

    American Nuclear Energy Council - The Nevada Intiative - The Long Term Program - An Overview - Kent Oram and Ed Allison (pdf-1.25M)

    MIT Press - Uncertainty Underground--Yucca Mountain and the Nation's High-Level Nuclear Waste - Edited by Allison M. Macfarlane and Rodney C. Ewing

    DOE:IG - Report IG-0708: Inspection Report on "Quality Assurance Weaknesses in the Review of Yucca Mountain Electronic Mail for Relevancy to the Licensing Process" (pdf-284K)

    NRC - Yucca Mountain Review Plan (NUREG-1804, Final Rev. 2)

    NRC - Report on Revised Joint Proposed Protective Order (pdf-22K)

    NRC - Case Management Orders from the PAPO (pdf-157K)

    OCRWM - Evaluation of Technical Impact On the Yucca Mountain Project Technical Basis Resulting From Issues Raised By Emails of Former Project Participants

    State of Nevada - Slides: Final results for C22 corrosion test - Yang Jingfeng (pdf-15.6M)

    State of Nevada - Report: Experiments Devised to Studying Temperature and Geometry Effect of Corrosion of C-22 Alloy - Y. Z. Jia, J. Q. Wang, E. H. Han, J. H. Dong, W. Ke (pdf-2.3M)

    State of Nevada - C22 Corrosion in Dripped Pore Water - J. F. Yang, J. H. Dong, E.-H. Han, J. Q. Wang, W. Ke (pdf-2.5M)

    Links and much more:


    That's what industry says.
    You drive over a bridge to work everyday for 50 years, what is your confidence you could do so for 20,000 years?

    Hannes Alfvén, Nobel laureate in physics, described the as yet unsolved dilemma of high-level radioactive waste management: "The problem is how to keep radioactive waste in storage until it decays after hundreds of thousands of years. The geologic deposit must be absolutely reliable as the quantities of poison are tremendous. It is very difficult to satisfy these requirements for the simple reason that we have had no practical experience with such a long term project. Moreover permanently guarded storage requires a society with unprecedented stability."[8]


    Nuclear waste produces heat as we know from Fukushima. It's only about 2% of fission energy but it is there all the time in concentrated nuclear waste. Heat has to be drawn off storage pools
    and if there's a cooling failure you contaminate the groundwater or start a fire and contaminate the air. After 20 years the radioactivity is decreased to the point where heat is not an issue and the waste can be encapsulated or virtrified but it's still harmful to living things.

    It is believed that a natural fission reactor exploded in Gabon
    1500 million years ago, so a plant meltdown could result in an explosion.

    Right now the US dilutes radioactive fuel in inert but radioactive U-238 because we run a once-thru fuel cycle. Reprocessors would concentrate the fissile radioactive waste plutonium and reuse it
    in their reactor; this is what they were doing at Fukushima#3.
    When the reactor was breeched plutonium was found outside on the ground.

    Should you believe the industry PR machine or actual scientists?

    It should be noted that the long term storage problem doesn't only apply to nuclear waste, but also to Carbon Capture and Storage.

    In the latter case, we have to ensure that Carbon is stored safely, without leakage, for over 1000 years.

    Which is why I regard the grand technofix idea of CCS as totally untenable and a dangerous delusion.

    Strange how it's so popular with the BAU brigade.

    Same thing, however, I feel that right now, we got 100% leak with 0 years as delay. A limited leak with some delay can't hurt.

    However, that's not a reason to forget the alternatives because you think your safe with CCS.

    Actually no.
    Assuming 90% of world fuel combustion CO2 was sequestered, basically
    15 GtCO2, over the next 100 years would total 1500 Gt CO2.
    CCS sites are designed to hold 99% of the CO2 for 1000 years.


    The nature of these sites makes massive gas releases improbable
    as the gas is deposited under 2500 feet of rock, way below water tables in saline aquifers where they chemically react over time.
    If there was actually a 100% leakage in 1000 years, you would still end up leaking 1.5 GtCO2 per year, 20% of current emissions, roughly the CO2 combustion emissions in 1900(800 million tons of coal).

    At Weyburn where 18 million tons of CO2 has been stored there is
    the report of a leak at a farm on which no CO2 wells were dug.
    A rabbit is said to have died.

    CO2 asphyxiation has also been caused by vending machines.



    Carbon capture could be really simple and low tech if BAU was paying any attention. You grow stuff, almost anything will do, heat it up, make charcoal, plow it into the ground, and you're done. Improves the soil, non-toxic, and lasts just about forever.

    That is the best carbon capture technique I’m aware of. Low tech, rather safe, and has other benefits too. It is proven technology and has been used for centuries.

    I don't think we can be sure the stuff will stay safe for 10 000, or 20 000 years for that matter.

    In my view, you just need to keep an eye for, 30-60 years, after that, you can recheck the waste and renew the storage location if necessary. It's inexpensive and safe for that time frame.

    You just have to think only 30-60 years ahead, take one bite at a time, otherwise that's too much.

    Maybe after 300 or 400 years of safe storage, we'll start to be more confident about our methods.

    "I fail to see any major problem related to waste"

    Remove your metiphorical hands from your eyes and your ability to see will vastly improve...

    About 30 miles down the road from where I live sits a mostly decommissioned nuke. It hasn't been run since the late 70's, and all the spent fuel rods have been loaded into casks awaiting transport to Yucca Mountain. Unfortunately it appears that these casks will never leave, and instead must be guarded 24/7 365.

    It stay isolated from environment, so no harm, and we can do so in a economic way, where is the problem here?

    If you have to guard this site for 50 thousand years, and that is an extremely low estimate, it will cost:

    10(?) guards, paid 40K a year, for 50 thousand years = 10 billion

    And this is pretty much best case scenario. I have serious worries about steel casks buried a few hundred feet from the ocean. I'm sure they will be okay for a few hundred years; but there is no way they are going to last until the fuel is no longer 'hot'. It sure doesn't look like Japan is isolating their spent fuel in an economic way. Do you understand the problem now?

    We might have some problem here but again, I fail to see a problem of the scale of coal ash spill or whatever other waste issues we had.

    Yes, we have lots of waste issues, that doesn't make it okay to compound them. 'I have a broken leg, so what's the big deal about cutting off my head?' It's faulty logic.

    Must be non-union labor given no pay raise for 50,000 years.

    No that just assumes a long term Republican majority.

    10(?) guards, paid 40K a year, for 50 thousand years = 10 billion

    Not so fast, remember you can make money out of money. Money change value with time.

    400 000 $ per year can be obtained with:

    5% investment, 3% salary raise/year, you get 400 000 $ / 0.02 = 20 million $
    Only a $20 million investment at 5% you give you $ 400 000 indexed 3% per year.
    (Power plants make ~$1 million a day, thats peanuts)

    Basically, this is like saying: today pains hurt more then tomorrow's.

    Your argument does not work on the required long timescales. Compound interest *requires* exponential growth of the economy, population, resource consumption, etc.

    Punch into your calculator even 0.1% growth of any of above for 50K years and see if it seems doable.

    It is just a basic concept saying 100$ in the 1000 years worth less then 100$ now.

    Same thing for any liability, dealing with nuclear waste in 10000 years, is a far, far away problem, far less signifiant than any other we have now.

    I wonder if a 0.1% loan rate would be humanly sustainable? Why we should care about the waste if the economy is destroyed? Even the lowest "properity", and here I don't talk money, is enought to take care of this. Put the levels too low and you have worst problems.

    If we can't put peanuts aside for waste, then we have others problems we should worry about.

    N.B.2 : Beside 0.1% interest gives us 400 000$/0.001 = $400 million, over 60 years,that's $2.5 million a year for 2% interest, 60 cash flows during 60 years.


    2 million views for an old codger giving a lecture about arithmetic? What's going on? You'll just have to watch to see what's so damn amazing about what he (Albert Bartlett) has to say.

    "We might have some problem here but again, I fail to see a problem of the scale of coal ash spill or whatever other waste issues we had."

    Do the problems of coal emissions justify nuclear waste? I think not.

    Do the problems of coal emissions justify nuclear waste? I think not.


    Either you shut down coal plants, or you shut down nuclear power plants. So it's either one, either the other, that's why I was talking about coal.

    I should concern you that nowhere(France included) has the looming problem of radioactive waste disposal been solved in 60 years of nuclear power.

    Actually waste has been deposited in a multimillion year old salt deposit since 1999.


    Under seabed disposal makes more sense,


    but many options are workable. The correct statement is that nations have not selected and implemented a solution.

    They have the option of not selecting a solution because 10 pounds of fuel can generate a lifetime supply of electricity and it will contain only 6 ounces of waste (fission products). 95% of the potential energy is still untapped.

    We should develop advanced reactors that can extract the remaining 95% of the energy in uranium and thorium, thereby reducing the waste storage time to 300 years.

    Yep, I'm really looking foward theses reactors. The waste coming from these will only last 200/300 years, pretty impressive.

    I can't know, however, which model will come up first. My bet are on the lead-cooled and helium/Supercritical-CO2 cooled reactors.

    I'm waiting too for innovation towards the brayton (Gas tubine) cycles and some supercomputing stuff, this can't hurt.

    I'm at the other extreme, and was in lock down to physically block entrance to Ward Valley.


    It was one of the few victories.

    However, I had migrated to a more open view, but this has brought me back to my senses.

    I just about swoon at name of the company "US Ecology" that is trying to create a nuclear dump site.

    not only that but their waste boxes are painted red white and blue.

    This event is certainly a game changer. I used to think Chernobyl was an outlier, but no longer. There will certainly be a lot learned from this that will make future designs safer. However, the main question going forward is how safe are new designs given no power availability during an accident?. A second question is what is the worst case situation if there also is no additional supplemental cooling water.

    "However, the main question going forward is how safe are new designs given no power availability during an accident?"

    However, the main question going forward is how safe are present (in use now) designs given no power availability during an accident? After all, we still have to live with them for several decades more, too.

    BWRs, fundamentally unsafe; PWRs, ditto.

    Other designs which might be inherently safe have yet to have full-scale prototypes constructed, and hence are several decades away from production.

    My main question here is why they couldn't bring and plug generators from elsewhere or even a condenser for that matter. This should have been though before.

    The whole plant is trashed but since you can bring a generator and a pump/condenser, your are okay. The electrical switchroom, needed for the condenser, complicate the task and the impossibility to bring generators is also a problem.

    In my view that should be the lowest cost option, since you don't need multiple backup safety systems, you just have to keep one ready to be shipped.

    I'm looking foward for more info about the cooling missteps/fixes.

    My main question here is why they couldn't bring and plug generators from elsewhere or even a condenser for that matter. This should have been though before.

    That was my thought from day 1. I guess the electrical and piping systems were not designed to allow easy connection of external power and water. Shoulda been.

    However, the main question going forward is how safe are present (in use now) designs given no power availability during an accident? After all, we still have to live with them for several decades more, too.

    I think we have that answer in front of us.

    For JAIF, read the notes and ignore the table. The table is what TEPCO have said. JAIF add the notes in because they don't believe TEPCO any more. I think NISA is actually the best source for data.

    The high releases of I relative to Cs that you cite are actually good news, because it means the spent fuel is not contributing much to the fallout. (The spent fuel had been in the ponds for long enough for the I to decay.)

    The key thing now is how much of the continuing Cs fallout falls in Japan rather than the Pacific. The IAEA is already telling the Japanese government to stop dithering and evacuate a small area outside the exclusion zone (Iitate village) where Cs fallout is above the level for condemning the land.

    For sure the last few days only JAIF and NISA has data for the public.
    IAEA is glossing, or you really have to read between the lines. OTOH the message about Iitate is clear.

    I am appalled that the Japanese authorities do not move on that issue. The Prime Minister, or someone that he appoints with authority and a big pot of cash, should stand up and show some courage.

    Painful to see that bureaucrats also in Japan want the nice job, but not to do the job when the heat is on. I'd say it is the same in many countries in central Europe.
    Possibly the US system with the President is a bit better when it comes to decisions that has to be taken.

    Japan appears to have rejected the advice of the IAEA to evacutate Litate. They are also ignoring the advice of one of their own special nuclear advisers to the PM who said that Litate should be evacuated. The Japanese Cabinet Secretary was asked about the contradiction and he said that the Professor was speaking in a personal capacity when he said that and not as an official government nuclear adviser.

    You can see from the following map, if they extended the evacuation zone past the initial 20 km range, you are starting to involve some pretty large towns. My guess, this had a great deal to do with the initial limit on the evacuation order (at a time when local officials knew the severity of the accident had the potential to be much greater). There has also been little discussion on the impact of topography of the region, and how this concentrates weather and particulate dispersion from the plants. This is a mountainous region, and the highest levels of contamination so far are showing up along a river valley leading to Litate. Why nobody thinks rainfall patterns (at higher elevations) are also not impacted by topography, and thus elevated contamination readings seems to show a fundamental lack of intellectual curiosity from public officials and radiation experts, to just plain out evasion, denial, and suppression of important information relevant to protecting public health.

    Question on Cs fallout into Pacific - http://www.cityu.edu.hk/ap/nru/pub_j27.pdf and others suggest there will be uptake and bioaccumulation, but i also read that Cs can travel long distances by air, will thus be dispersed across open ocean, so accumulation into any given tuna should be low? And will my geiger counter give a reliable reading thru the tin? (only 1/2 joking) But this is a real problem for seafood, yes?

    Question on Cs fallout into Pacific - http://www.cityu.edu.hk/ap/nru/pub_j27.pdf and others suggest there will be uptake and bioaccumulation, but i also read that Cs can travel long distances by air, will thus be dispersed across open ocean, so accumulation into any given tuna should be low? And will my geiger counter give a reliable reading thru the tin? (only 1/2 joking) But this is a real problem for seafood, yes?

    There will definitely be biological uptake, but probably not bioaccumulation (in the sense that initially non-harmful levels of a toxin can be concentrated to dangerous levels at the top of the food chain). Cesium replaces potassium in organisms, and potassium is taken in and flushed out of organisms fairly quickly, so that the residence time of Cs is about 110 days in humans (probably much less for smaller organisms).

    For bioaccumulation to happen, this biological residence time must be long compared to the organism's lifetime.

    As for bringing your geiger counter to the supermarket, Cs-137 is a gamma emitter, gamma rays should pass through a thin layer of sheet metal with no problem. I doubt there'll be enough Cs-137 in the fish to detect, but the tin won't stop it.

    Here's another study by Kasamatsu and Ishikawa, from 1997.

    Analysis of 6066 stomach contents of fish samples together with 137Cs concentrations in the stomach contents demonstrated that 137Cs concentration increased with rising trophic level and that the biomagnification factor (137Cs in predator / 137Cs in prey) was 2.0 (95% confidence interval 1.8 to 2.2).

    Thanks much! To be clear/if i'm understanding, Cs levels shouldn't increase in top-level fish beyond some low level plateau even if Cs release is persistent, because they excrete it as fast as it would come in. But Cs levels in gut could increase at least temporarily via consumption of Cs burdened prey?

    I was not going to comment on this thread after Euan's statement about irrational fears of radiation, but I feel I must correct some very serious misinformation about "bioaccumulation of radioactive fallout" in general, especially the slower varieties, which is the real danger that we are talking about and dancing around in these discussions. Try Google Scholar.


    The principal diffuse source of radioactivity to the aquatic environment is from atmospheric fall-out and the main point source is from the nuclear reprocessing industry. Estuarine systems, in particular, are sinks for organic matter from both freshwater and marine origins and, as such, accumulate radionuclides that are associated with organic matter. They are also very productive and act as a nursery and feeding area for fish, birds and macro-crustaceans. As such, there is a pathway for accumulated radionuclides to enter the food web where potential impacts may occur and possibly result in the exposure of Mankind to this source of radioactivity. . . .

    Radionuclides are found in measurable quantities in the water column, suspended sediments, sea-bed sediments and the biota (Kershaw et al 1992). . . .

    Radionuclide accumulation in saltmarshes is controlled principally by the physical processes associated with tidal flow and sediment deposition (Horrill 1983), but the type of vegetation present also has an effect on accumulation rates - vegetated areas accumulate radionuclides, such as americium, caesium and plutonium at faster rates than unvegetated areas. A large number of other factors can also affect accumulation rates, to the extent that variability within and between different saltmarshes can be wide. However, the relative stability and high biological productivity of saltmarsh sediments (away from tidal channels) favours the accumulation of plutonium and caesium isotopes, with highest activities often being associated with fine-grained mud flats, such as those in the Solway Firth (Kennedy et al 1988)

    Some radionuclides have been found to accumulate in the biota. In particular, benthic algae, molluscs (mussels, winkles, limpets, whelks, scallops, queens), crustacea (crab, lobster, Nephrops, shrimps) and fish (including plaice, cod, flounder, herring) have been found to accumulate some radionuclides based on monitoring information collected by MAFF in the Irish Sea (Kershaw et al 1992). The principal concern has been to determine the risk to the human population and so the fish and shellfish species selected for monitoring have been commercially important ones. These species have been found to accumulate a number of radionuclides but the most important appear to be 106Ru and 137Cs. Both have been found to accumulate in fish muscle (plaice) and in crab Cancer pagurus hepatopancreas and muscle tissue. Crabs were found to accumulate 144Ce and 95Zr/95Nb in addition to 106Ru and 137 Cs. The most significant uptake route for these species is believed to be via the diet. . . .

    The fate and behaviour of radionuclides in the marine environment is determined by the fate and behaviour of the element concerned. For example, if an element is adsorbed to sediment particles, then the radionuclide of that element will behave in the same way.

    The radioactive elements will not be destroyed in the environment and radioactivity will be emitted from whatever compounds are formed with the element. The duration that the energy will be emitted is governed by the half-life of the radionuclide which can range from hours to hundreds of years. . . .

    In studying the effects of radioactive substances on food chains, the concepts of bioaccumulation and biological magnification were established—later to become intimately identified with Carson’s Silent Spring. Bioaccumulation refers to a process whereby a toxic substance is absorbed by the body at a rate faster than it is lost. For instance, strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope that is chemically similar to calcium and can accumulate in the bones, where it can cause genetic mutations and cancer. Biological magnification occurs when a substance increases in concentration along the food chain. An example of this occurred when radionuclides discharged into the Columbia River in trace amounts from the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington State were discovered to increase in order of magnitude as they were pa! ssed along in the food chain. A number of variables influence such biological magnification, such as the length of the food chain, the rate of bioaccumulation within an organism, the half-life of the nuclide (in the case of radioactive substances), and the concentration of the toxic substance in the immediate environment. Ecologist Eugene Odum noted that due to biological magnification it was possible to release an “innocuous amount of radioactivity and have her [nature] give it back to us in a lethal package!” Carson herself pointed to how biological magnification resulted in dangerously high burdens of strontium-90 and cesium-137 in the bodies of Alaskan Eskimos and Scandinavian Lapps at the terminal end of a food chain that included lichens and caribou.

    In the 1961 edition of The Sea Around Us, Carson, who was deeply involved in protesting the dumping of radioactive wastes in the oceans, raised the pregnant question, “What happens then to the careful calculation of a ‘maximum permissible level’ [of radioactivity]? For the tiny organisms are eaten by larger ones and so on up the food chain to man. By such a process tuna over an area of a million square miles surrounding the Bikini bomb test developed a degree of radioactivity enormously higher than that of the sea water.”


    The paucity of investigations on the presence of artificial radionuclides and their bioaccumulation in Antarctic fauna is due to the erroneous belief that this area is pristine. We report evidence that significant levels of the artificial radionuclides Sr-90, Cs-137, Am-241 and plutonium isotopes can be found in sponges, bivalves, krill and demersal fish fauna of Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea), sometimes with a seasonal pattern. Increasing concentrations of Cs-137 were detected in the bivalve Adamussium colbecki (Antarctic scallop) during austral summer months, as a result of major trophic activity and changes in metabolic rates. Bioconcentration factors for artificial radionuclides in different Antarctic species are presented and discussed in relation to their different trophic strategies. Unexpectedly high radiocesium bioconcentration factors determined in bivalves suggested the particular role played by filter feeding in bioaccumulation, particularly in summer when radionuclide bioavailability is enhanced. The feeding preference of the trematomiid fish Trematomus bernacchii for the scallop A. colbecki is confirmed, not only by fish gut content analyses, but also through radiometric results. Transuranics bioaccumulation by sensitive species allowed some interesting comparisons on the different plutonium contamination of the southern hemisphere with respect to the northern one.


    Radionuclide tracers of heavy metals (59Fe, 60Co, 65Zn, 75Se 85Sr, 134Cs and 203Hg) representing potential contamination from nuclear power plants, industry and agriculture were added to separate basins of Lake 226, Experimental Lakes Area, northwestern Ontario. The two basins were part of a eutrophication experiment and differed in their trophic status; the north basin (L226N) was eutrophic whereas the south basin (L226S) was mesotrophic. Our objective was to determine the uptake of the radionuclides by biota and the effect of lake trophic status on their bioaccumulation. The trophic status of the lakes did not appear to have a marked effect on the accumulation of radionuclides by the biota. This may have been because of a mid-summer leakage of nutrients between the basins which enhanced primary production in L226S, because there is a time lag between primary production and the availability of the radionuclides to the fishes or because trophic status does not affect the uptake of at least some of these radionuclides. However, there was a tendency for faster uptake of the radionuclides in L226N by fish than L226S, but the differences were not significant. Concentrations in the biota generally decreased in the order: fathead minnow>pearl dace>tadpoles>slimy sculpin>leeches. Concentrations in biota generally decreased in the order: 65Zn>203Hg>75Se>134Cs>60Co>85Sr=59Fe. Cobalt-60 concentrations in tadpoles were greater than in the other biota. Radionuclide concentrations in the tissues of lake whitefish indicated that uptake was predominantly from food. Radionuclide concentrations were usually higher in the posterior gut, liver and kidney than in other tissues, whereas body burdens were generally high in the muscle for 75Se, 134Cs and 203Hg; kidney and gut for 60Co; and bone for 65Zn and 75Se. Mercury-203 burdens were also high in the bone and gut.

    As we lower the bar on how much our environment can tolerate, and as isotopes continue to bioaccumulate in our bodies, how much is too much for species as a whole?

    I'm wishing I'd worded that differently now:-(

    Superb. Thanks are due to you for doing the literature search and summarizing it for our benefit. This monograph deserves to be preserved as a document separate from this comment thread, or at least hyperlinked to serve as a reference.

    I've been considering a move from the mid-Atlantic region to eastern Oregon. I'd actually be moving into an area with a lower density of commercial nuclear power stations, but the prevailing weather patterns may end up increasing my exposure to the residue from past events, particularly this one. At the moment the western environment still beats my current situation. I hope that does not change.

    This monograph deserves to be preserved as a document separate from this comment thread, or at least hyperlinked to serve as a reference.

    Yes, please.

    would move you closer to Handford.

    Iitate is inland and to the west of the power station. Looking at the wind directions over the last several days I would guess that the extreme coastal strip to both north and south should have experienced even greater fall-out.

    I hope that everything will get better soon. I know it will take months or years before you can truly recover from that disaster but everything is possible if we are going to help each other. We have to be united for a fast recovery of the nation. Before the Fukushima catastrophe, nuclear energy appeared on the brink of a comeback. Here is the proof: Fukushima disaster lays bare the true cost of nuclear power As Japan deals with its nuclear nightmare in the wake of the quake and tsunami, nuclear plants around the globe have been shut down. Planning and construction of some nuclear facilities has also been suspended. Additional safety features could possibly be required at great expense to prevent future Fukushimas, which might increase the expense of nuclear energy in the future beyond what is reasonable to investors.

    Introducing coal into the discussion of nuclear energy complicates the analysis unnecessarily. The case for nuclear is two fold (a) as a national security issue for countries without fossil fuels and (b) as a source of energy that doesn't generate GHG emissions. (not sure that any process that generates waste that is hazardous for 1000's of year can be considered "clean.) The only comparable source of energy based on those two consideration is renewable - wind solar, tidal.

    Comparing renewable with nuclear has the problem that renewable energy is intermittent. However, that problem can be over come by adding back the cost of storage mechanisms (batteries, pumped water, compressed etc) into the cost of renewable energy.

    Then compare that cost with the true cost of nuclear energy. A true cost that factors in the cost of insurance against a nuclear accident, the capital cost excluding government guarantees, storage costs of spent fuel and the ultimate decommissioning cost.

    If in fact nuclear is cheaper on that basis then the argument is settled. If it is not then the government subsidies currently available for nuclear should then be directed towards renewable energy. Conservation is yet another red herring. There is no way that you can conserve your way to a solution in a plant of 9.2billion people all aspiring to consume energy like Americans.

    I would make one more observation- if in fact the new generation of nuclear plants are so safe why do the producers of the equipment and the utilities need legislative protection from liability for a nuclear accident? Why is the "market" that is invoked so often as the ultimate arbiter of all public policy not prepared to write the insurance at an affordable price?

    "Why is the "market" that is invoked so often as the ultimate arbiter of all public policy not prepared to write the insurance at an affordable price?"

    You're right. Why do all nuclear advocates so totally avoid this question? They are always pushing that nuclear wins in the "Free Market", but then their market isn't "free."

    Because the cost of coal, the main competitor to nuclear, does not include the constant release of CO2 and other contaminants into the environment. Most seafood is toxic to some degree or another due to mercury to the point that you shouldn't eat it more than a few times a week. Much of the environmental mercury has come from coal combustion.

    Coal power has so thoroughly saturated the environment with many forms of pollution that we can't even begin to estimate the costs it has forced on the world's economies. But I am certain that a non-negligable portion of the major health issues (asthma, birth defects and mental disorders, cancers) affecting the population today are due to coal combustion.

    How has the free market priced this little externality?

    Bedtime reminder: "Two wrongs don't make a right."

    Lame dodge. Try again.

    You've just highlighted the best argument for subsidies for renewable technology that exists. Yet people will still moan about them in the name of a supposed free market?

    A thorough analysis of externalities both positive and negative should be done before anyone even dares to suggest economic policies, which are otherwise based on marketability and self interest.

    maybe they could get insurance now-a-days.but price Anderson gives us one other thing. Control and over-site that would not be possible otherwise. Japan does not have price Andersen and you have what you have.An operator not prepared.

    Like Diablo Canyon is prepared with their (non-existent) earthquake plans?

    What would be humorous in another context. This is from a good summary/analysis article by Reuters:

    To reestablish a cooling system, TEPCO may use robots or have to employ so-called "jumpers".

    Jumpers are people who rush into a highly radioactive area, do one job, and then jump out within minutes. Some in the industry even refer to them as "gamma sponges" or "glow boys" because they can absorb a year's worth of radiation in those few minutes.

    It seems incredible that there are no existing, rad-hardened robots just waiting to jump. We're still sending people in!

    At Chernobyl, they were called "bio-robots." They were using mechanical robots for a time, but their circuitry failed and had to switch to expendible human replacements. And all it cost them was an extra 100 rubles in bonuses, and 150 grams of free vodka after each meal. Some of their mechanical predecessors were said to have hurled themselves into the breach when their components failed. They were mainly used to clean up very radioactive graphite debris on the roofs of the buildings before building the sarcophagus.

    Anyone know the pay scale for a "jumper"? I know people that would do crazy things for a bag of potato chips. I'm pretty sure a box full of "hundos" would get them to do cartwheels inside one of these breached reactors. I'll keep my eye on Craigslist for details :)

    The Idaho National Laboratory already sent over a Talon robot with nuclear hardened cameras and gama sensors. The company that makes the talon already has some in country a week ago. they have kits that turn a bobcat into remote control that can use all of the attachments.

    No market: 3 requests in 35 years.

    No return on investment for buying some.

    If you value money, these are the operational truths.

    If you value the common good, then having the means to address an accident has value.

    Thank God we had plans in place to save the Gulf of Mexico walruses.

    Rational voices point to the fact that most modern reactors in operation as well as those being built and planned are much safer than the aging fleet at Fukushima Dai-ichi. This may be so, but populations around the world have irrational fear of radiation.

    I see my concluding comment has caused some debate and perhaps needs some clarification. For a start there are rational voices on both sides. And there is rational fear of radiation, its just that the public at large are not sufficiently well educated to understand the risks. Indeed its quite likely that scientists don't fully understand the risks either.

    Trying to rationalise the nuclear debate, weighing the risks of modern nuclear stations against the risks of an accident happening and the risks of not having nuclear power is extremely complex and I don't know the answer. What I'm trying to say is that the debate will likely be settled by the voice of the public and if Fukushima dai ichi ends the way I expect it to I suspect that public voice will be resoundingly against nuclear power.

    Reason, irrational and non-rational
    Rumi said that Reason is powerless in the expression of love...

    Often a powerful intellect is arrogantly used to shame or silence inarticulate concerns based on feelings that are deeply held. Even when reason is "objective" it may have a blindspot based on a limited understanding of reality. As Einstein said the larger the circle of our knowledge the greater the circumference of our ignorance.

    When the US founding fathers used the word Reason it was more akin to the Greek notion of logos. Analytic (rational) thinking is a useful and powerful subset of this broader concept of understanding and wisdom. This discerning capacity, like a sumarai sword, can cut through illusion or can merely be a scalpel cruelly wielded by a person indifferent to the feelings of others.

    Humans can and do rationalize almost anything and everything. Hasn't Colonel Quadaffi rationalized his role in being the father of Libya? The missing element is not the intellect but the non-rational human heart. At its best, the heart has an intuitive understanding that we are all part of a deeper, mysterious Reality.

    Very nicely put razrmon.

    Yet another great thread Euan, thanks.

    We may be limited in our powers of rationality, but if we simply fall back on intuition we are truly sunk. We are animals
    who have evolved heuristic models of reality to survive in the open plains of Africa. Instinct does not do nuclear decay or radiation damage to dna.

    What we need above all is humility. We are all fallible. Collectively we are at least as fallible as individuals.

    We need to live with the uncertainty of everything we know or do, except our inevitable death and the decay of the universe.

    The way in which arguments are supported also varies across cutures. Some tend to rely on facts, some on ideology or dogma, and others on tradition or emotion. For the Japanese, the kimochi, or feeling, has to be right; logic is cold. The Saudis seem to be intuitive in approach and avoid persuasion based primarily on empirical reasoning. The French have a philosophy; Americans want data and proof of hypotheses. Usineier distinguishes four different intellectual styles: the "Gallic" (French), the "Teutonic" (German), the "Saxonic" (English and American) and the "Nipponic" (Japanese). Saxons prefer to look for facts and evidence. Teutonic and Gallic stryles tend to place theoretical arguments at the center of their intellectual process. Data and facts are there to illustrate what is said rather than to demonstrate it. The Teutonic style includes a preference for reasoning and deduction. The Gallic style is less occupied with deduction; it is directed more toward the use of persuasive strength of words and speeches in an aesthetically perfect way. The Nipponic intellectual style favors a more modest, global, and provisional approach: Thinking and knowledge are conceived of as being in a temporary state, avoiding absolute categorical statements.

    Americans categorize virtually everything. Duality, a way of categorizing, is implicitly and explicitly part of American culture: concrete versus abstract, present versus past, new versus old, past versus future, harmony versus conflict, inner-directed versus outer-directed. Japanese thought is not logical, but intuitive. The Japanese are not familiar with polar thinking.


    So a Japanese decision maker would not necessarily think in terms of "is dangerous" versus "not dangerous", but instead be thinking about "how dangerous" in some broader context.

    I see my concluding comment has caused some debate and perhaps needs some clarification.

    Euan, as one of the first to comment on that paragraph and a fan of your previous posts and body of work at TOD, I actually had a pretty good idea what I thought you intended to say; but I figured you'd take some heat for the way it was presented, so commented. (Actually, by virtue of my time zone in Hawaii, I could have been the first commenter, but I intentionally killed a half-hour so it would appear further down).

    I think it's useful to realize, as many of Nate's classic posts explored, that MOST human support or opposition regarding ANY proposition is non-rational almost by definition. Actual decisions are made in more basic levels of the brain before the neocortex is even aware of them, and the neocortex then constructs a rationalization framework to avoid internal and social dissonance. Thus, even for collective decisions that are slam-dunk logical, a majority of support will not have been arrived at by internal Socratic dialog and shrewd, informed analysis of risk/benefit. That is to say that in any sort of semi-egalitarian process, even rational ends must primarily rely upon non-rational support.

    It would be nice to think that we are the "homo sapiens" of myth and narrative, and I think some of us have moments when we nearly live up to the moniker; but collectively we're a pretty dumb brute, AND are in blissful self-denial about this fact.

    For a hypothetical sentient species with a low discount rate, a reasonable sense of responsibility to the future of life, and actual self-awareness, uranium fission might be useful and prudent. To employ it so a race of pyromaniac apes in drastic population overshoot has baseload power to dry their socks when the sun is down, arguably less so.

    For a hypothetical sentient species with a low discount rate, a reasonable sense of responsibility to the future of life, and actual self-awareness, uranium fission might be useful and prudent. To employ it so a race of pyromaniac apes in drastic population overshoot has baseload power to dry their socks when the sun is down, arguably less so.

    After much deliberation I have edited out the irrational, so anyone reading this thread now won't have a clue what this about - eds privilege. Useful exercise though - making a mistake and learning from it.

    For a hypothetical sentient species with a low discount rate, a reasonable sense of responsibility to the future of life, and actual self-awareness, uranium fission might be useful and prudent. To employ it so a race of pyromaniac apes in drastic population overshoot has baseload power to dry their socks when the sun is down, arguably less so.

    To laugh and cry at the same time is high praise for a work of literature. I never thought I would so describe my reaction to what is essentially commentary on an engineering problem.

    greenish ended with -
    For a hypothetical sentient species with a low discount rate, a reasonable sense of responsibility to the future of life, and actual self-awareness, uranium fission might be useful and prudent. To employ it so a race of pyromaniac apes in drastic population overshoot has baseload power to dry their socks when the sun is down, arguably less so.

    One driving factor that tends to be pretty much off the table in such discussions has to do with homo sapiens (HS) proclivity to reproduce themselves while assuming that any cravings they, or their progeny will have for energy, must be met. Suggestions that the planet is grossly overpopulated with HS is treated as if it was a heretical concept. Perhaps some of us need to consider the possibility that humans happened to evolve into a pathogen that threatens the survival of most current species on this globe.

    We look into the faces of children and see innocence and hope for a better future, a feeling that many of us once had. The craving for them and their presents in our lives my directly stimulate our pleasure centers. We may see in them hope that they will succeed in fulfilling some of the dreams that slipped out of our grasp.

    The primary of a nuclear explosive is a nuclear reactor which is designed to react a portion of its load of plutonium-239 fission fuel in under a microsecond. The result is vaporized spent nuclear fuel (SNF) containing a whopping portion of un-fissioned Pu-239. For the hundreds of atmospheric tests, that came down as radioactive fallout some of which is now broadly distributed around the planet. Some of those plutonium particles were recently sampled near the Fukushima I NPP. The designers and testers of these amazing devices were also children with great hopes and dreams.

    The U.S.A conducted 830-plus underground nuclear test detonations. Most of these took place at what was then referred to as the Nevada Test Test Site (NTS), about seventy miles north-west of Las Vegas, Nevada. In those cases the vaporized SNF was blasted out into the surrounding rock which was often close to, or below, the local water table. The surrounding rock served as the containment structure, a structure which was left filled with radiating fractures. Each explosion was reviewed by a team of containment experts before the tests were approved.

    A report, following the testing period, did a 'boiler plate' type assessment of various clean-up options that might be applied to the vast fields of widely dispersed contaminated rock laying under the NTS. One clean-up estimate came to $ 7.29 trillion USD to excavate the material, process it and then refill the giant conical holes. The internal reviewers of the report decided this was impractical on several grounds. Instead they chose a listed option which was about three orders of magnitude less costly. That option is one that is being increasingly employed at various other sites and it's called Institutional Control. It, apparently, assumes that anthropomorphic controls can be maintained for thousands of years in these situations. A couple of rules in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) section of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations spells out the requirements. Basically, it calls for limiting human access to the contaminated sites. That can include access by researchers who might want to know more about what they are being protected from.

    For the curious, who want to dabble in this bureaucratic arcaneness, here is a couple of citations you may want to look up. This U.S. Code of Federal Regulations section relates to environmental contamination remedies.

    40 CFR 300.430(e)(3)
    40 CFR 300.430(e)(7)

    "if Fukushima dai ichi ends the way I expect it to I suspect that public voice will be resoundingly against nuclear power."

    That is easy to say during ongoing relatively cheap oil era but things will be different soon. Expensive oil era is coming and choices will be much more limited. Trucking costs will skyrocket and electric cars will cause electricity demand to rise even further.

    You have to transport coal somehow to coal plants and even manufacturing wind mills requires a lot of oil. How one is going to arrange the maintenance of thousands of wind mills without cheap oil out there at sea? You have to backup every 1MW of wind power anyway or/and store the energy somehow for high demand, low supply situations.

    There will be soon a panic rush to find more energy later this decade in the West and this "nuclear will kill us all"-attitude will just make it much more difficult. Most western nuclear plants are already very old and those must be replaced soon. No new plants have been built for decades and it shows in recent nuclear plant projects. Thanks to Greenpeace scaremongering, we are running out of time.

    Sweden for example decided to keep and renew if needed all ten nuclear plants despite people voting against in the 80's. That country is environmentally quite "green" but Swedes are also practical people. Germany instead is going to commit economic suicide by trying to give up nuclear.

    Germany will be an interesting test case. They should be able to give up nuclear and still be OK economically.

    The problem for them will be if:
    - France halts its nuclear program and stops exporting electricity, and
    - Russia halts its nuclear programs and consumes its oil and gas, leaving little to export.

    If Russian exports of oil and gas decline markedly, Germany will have a very hard time.

    Drang nach osten all over again.

    Drang nach osten all over again.

    We neither have the demographic power nor the economic and technological-military power to support something like this ever again. We are a fast aging country commiting democraphic suicide. Autochthonous Germans will be less than 35 million in 2050, compared to nearly 75 million in the 1930's (adding about 30 million immigrants and their offsprings).

    We will get a "green" country by killing our industry and get some medium-income agraian state again in the medium run, which is anyway inevitable.

    With large coal power stations due to close in UK by 2015 and the nuclear renaissance stone dead I fear the second half of this decade will be very dark and cold. We will look back and fondly remember the days we used to blog.

    Reading some of the comments here, especially this one


    I sense doom gathering in Japan. If Tokyo is badly affected then I imagine we will see mass closures of old nuclear plant around the world and no new ones being built.

    "I fear the second half of this decade will be very dark and cold."

    Relax, Euan. With a few preps, powering down isn't so hard and kind of nice once one gets past their sense of loss. Who knows, folks may even learn to help each other again ;-)

    right. Powering down, I mean. I grew up during the depression, that was powered down for real, relative to today

    Had no bought toys, but sticks, rocks, discarded tin cans, mud, junk, were all plenty good toys and we had a lot of creative fun with them.

    Very little car, in several meanings- the car was small, and we used it very little because gas was too expensive at $0.25/gal. and half the time it's engine was hanging from a tree while my father ground the valves or something.

    Lots to eat. My mother would sit on the porch with her mob of friends and can food all day, with lots and lots of yakking and smoking and singing and drinking coffee. Good stuff.

    No TV. we all sat on the front steps and listened to the geezers telling and retelling and inventing stories on the spot, with plenty of exercise for our intellects to sort out truths from lies and damn lies.

    Plenty of home made booze.

    Good schools, with real smart teachers, with license to swat.

    Not so good medicine, I almost died several times, and lots of other kids did die. Well, so what, wanna live forever? Or overpopulate the place?

    And very very little power of any stripe whatsoever.

    and, summed over all, happier than kids today, I betcha.

    ...and the nuclear renaissance stone dead I fear the second half of this decade will be very dark and cold.

    Remember, the nuclear renaissance was never going to generate a single kWh this decade anyway. It was only ever going to consume large amounts of money and energy. New nuclear would be significantly energy negative this decade.

    If we decide not to build new nuclear in the UK, the second half of this decade will be lighter and warmer than would otherwise be the case. New nuclear in the UK isn't really part of the 2010s energy security debate in my opinion. The 2020s decade is another discussion though.

    By which time "peak everything" will be really starting to bite.

    The energy problems won't be the only ones. The US will probably:
    - hyperinflate the currency to attempt to solve its foreign debt problems by stiffing the creditors with worthless dollars,
    - international finance and trade will collapse, including energy imports,
    - the social structure will disintegrate along racial, linguistic, and religious lines, and there will be blood in the streets,
    - a dictator will emerge out of the conflict with a promise to restore national pride and prosperity, and
    - the slide to the next global war will be inevitable.

    The process should take a little less than two decades.

    The middle ages were Not That Bad.

    The middle ages were Not That Bad.

    Especially for the 1% of the population which neither starved most of their lives nor suffered infectious diseas or an pre-adolescence dead (about 2.5 out of 6-8 childreen reached adolescence). No to mention 99,9% could not write and read and shivert all day fearing "the almighty Lord".

    Actually, we don't need a ton of energy to escape all of those issues. Argiculture is the biggest issue, but I don't think more SUVs and inefficient McMansions are doing anything to teach us to read, lower our infant death rate, or combat infectious disease.

    adamx, Amen.

    Yes, they were great for the Black Rat.
    Rattus rattus

    Radiation should be no more feared than fire.

    It should, however, be respected and recognized as a powerful and potentially dangerous form of energy (just like fire).

    There is a middle ground between "it's too dangerous to consider using" and "there is no risk worth mentioning". Both of those stances are unsupportable by the available evidence.

    We need to set aside the fears based on ignorance for respect based on knowledge of the dangers and benefits.

    Yair...r4ndom...to most logical people this is an inane idiotic comment.

    Radiation should be no more feared than fire...

    What freak'in world do you live in????

    If there was fire raining down on me from the skies I would be terrified.

    "Radiation should be no more feared than fire."

    Ah, would that it were so. But it is not. There is far too much argument from false analogy in the modern world. This is a false analogy. The similarities of radiation and fire are trivial when compared with their differences. With fire, when it becomes too large to be controlled one can run away, as our ancestors did before they leaned to talk. What is the analogous
    situation for ionizing radiation? Nothing that is meaningful. With fire, when you approach too closely, you feel pain which causes you to pull back. What analog is their for ionizing radiation? etc. etc.

    "Radiation should be no more feared than an adjustable rate mortgage." True, or not true?

    "One child was born without a cortex, another had an upside down heart, and a third had limb anamolies that were indescribable - as if some sort of animal had been attached to her torso instead of human limbs. Another child was born without a spleen and finally - a child who lacked the full compliment of veins and arteries in his circulatory system. I had worked with babies with all kinds of disorders and have never seen anything like these kids. All of them were from Poland - moms had either been pregnant at the time of the disaster or got pregnant shortly after and had been exposed to the contaminated cloud which traveled over parts of Europe but had not been adequately advised of the risks. "

    From yesterday's open thread. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7734#comment-786018 You want to call it 'coincidence' or something, maybe you could talk to Ceil and the thousands of other Pediatric support staff who have faced the birth defects strongly suspected to derive from Chernobyl.

    Those sound like some nasty burns to kids who never even crawled over to examine any flames..

    No, I think it should be understood and respected like we do with Contagion, which travels silently and hits an area without warning.

    There is plenty of reason to fear and work to contain this threat.

    So, someone finally responds to one of my posts with potential damage from radiation, but again not a risk that is unique to radiation damage. Though I must admire the emotional potency of the birth defect argument.


    Got any links to verifiable sources of that information so that I can make a truly informed assessment?

    Google chernobyl birth defects
    for example, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fCCVU4y7oE

    We had a firsthand witness tell us what he/she experienced. They could be lying or wrong, but at that point it's Random's opportunity to challenge Ceil.

    Instead he just insists on a lawyer to have it notarized.


    Written by r4ndom:
    Radiation should be no more feared than fire.

    Perhaps like fear of fire when one is in a burning forest surrounded by flames choking on smoke with no escape or protection.

    Perhaps, if one is surrounded by a similar level of radiation risk.

    How many firefighters would or could work inside a burning building for days?

    In my opinion it takes far more bravery to be a firefighter than a radiation worker, just look at the job-related fatality statistics for both professions.

    Yes, more bravery for the uninformed to fight a fire because the fire can be sensed. Radiation requires an intellectual grasp of the situation because it can not be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt although some of the people at Chernobyl claimed they could feel high doses in their bones. Really high does could be felt as you are cooked alive by the heat released as the radiation absorbs in the body. It is easy for those who do not understand about radiation to stand gawking at the concerns and preparations of those who do. With radiation, those who are uninformed or suffer from cognitive dissonance do not realize the danger until the exposure has passed, if ever.

    Voices from Chernobyl: Lyudmilla Ignatenko, Wife of deceased Fireman Vasily Ignatenko
    She murdered her unborn baby because she wanted to be near her radioactive husband on his deathbed. A fireman being badly burned fighting a fire would not kill his unborn child and make his wife sick just to say goodbye. The danger of, damage by and fear of radiation are on a completely different scale than fire. It's more surreal.

    "Don't sit near me. Take a chair."

    "That's just silliness," I said, waving it away.

    I was under the impression from reports thought the levels of radiation weren’t *THAT* high?

    “Radiation fears have prevented authorities from collecting the bodies of as many as 1,000 people living in the evacuation zone who died in the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

    Kyodo news agency cited police sources as saying the corpses had been exposed to high radiation levels and would probably have to be decontaminated before they could be collected and examined by doctors.”


    Yes, this all adds to the state of confusion and conflicting data. I'm really quite disappointed in the performance of the Japanese government here - though they do have quite a lot on their plate right now. In the case of Macondo it was quite clear that BP was likely best qualified to deal with the situation. I think this is different. Is a nuclear utility equipped to deal with a situation of this gravity and magnitude? Its possible that owning nuclear weapons (Russia / Chernobyl) provides the government / military with the means to take control of a situation like this.

    I question "In the case of Macondo it was quite clear that BP was likely best qualified to deal with the situation." If you meant being onsite and having the technical expertise and ability to drill the relief wells 0K.
    I question the use of corexit to keep the visibility of the spill down and keep the enormity of the disaster from the nightly news. The people of the Gulf and the sealife will be impaired for decades (?) because of this decision. I question using BP being in charge of the cleanup efforts and limiting access to researchers and reporters. this is not to say the government would have done better. It is obvious to me that the well being of the general public was not the prime factor. The US government with its regulatory apparatus has been suborned by the major corporations - look at the handling of the financial meltdown. We have the worst of both worlds - Big government unable to reign in the profit motives of the big corporations and we pay for both.

    I was under the impression from reports thought the levels of radiation weren’t *THAT* high?

    They may well not be, but this has all happened very quickly and a lot of folks with minimal training are probably involved in recovery work. Also not clear what level of protective gear they are working in. "Hot" morgues may not have been established, etc. etc. The key word is "fear", recovery work is grim even without the contamination issue in play obviously.

    Radiation fears have prevented authorities from ...

    So, the authorities are afraid?

    Thanks Euan, nice little REM/sievert reminder. Now all we need is a bit of cross referencing that will tell us how megabecquerel/sq meter relate to REM dose at say 1 thru 100 meters distance from that square meter

    It would be nice if the press (or TEPCO, I don't know the source of the data) started measuring contamination in megabecquerel/m2, or any multiple. The current MBq/kg seems useless.

    Measure radiation in units of cartons of cigarettes
    Measure contamination in units of cartons/day

    A megabecquerel is too small, use curies(ci) or 37000 megabecquerels.
    A one 1 ci source emitting gamma radiation at 3 Mev will
    produce a 1 rem per hour dose at 1.3 meters.
    A years cummulative dose is 5 rem. If you stayed at 1.3 meters for
    100 hours you'd get leukemia, 300 hours there would be an 80% chance you'd die.
    If you breathe in or eat radioactivity however there's a good chance you'll get cancer.
    The effect is cumulative and the longer this goes on the more serious it gets.

    A years cumulative dose is 8,760 rem, the maximum allowable dose for one year is 5 rem.

    Excellent report but a minor quibble. Chernobyl was not running at full power when it exploded. It had been reduced to 200MW thermal, 6% of its rated power when instability set in.

    According to Wiki, they were attempting to run the test at the recommended 700-1000 MW thermal level, reactor levels dropped with production of xenon-135, and they inserted the control rods too far (leading to a further rapid decrease). They removed control rods and power stabilized at 200MW. But the rapid reduction of power and subsequent operation at less than 200 MW poisoned the core, and led to instability in neutron flux. Some also suggest there was a design defect in graphite tipped control rods (which was suppressed from the initial Legasov report from IAEA).

    Here's a bit of background

    "Both commissions were heavily lobbied by different groups, including the reactor's designers, power plant personnel, and by the Soviet and Ukrainian governments. The IAEA's 1986 analysis attributed the main cause of the accident to the operators' actions. But in January 1993, the IAEA issued a revised analysis, attributing the main cause to the reactor's design. A variant theory holds that the operators were not informed about problems with the reactor. According to one of them, Anatoliy Dyatlov, the designers knew that the reactor was dangerous in some conditions but intentionally concealed this information. In addition, the plant's management was largely composed of non-RBMK-qualified personnel: the director, V.P. Bryukhanov, had experience and training in a coal-fired power plant. His chief engineer, Nikolai Fomin, also came from a conventional power plant. Dyatlov, deputy chief engineer of reactors 3 and 4, had only "some experience with small nuclear reactors", namely smaller versions of the VVER nuclear reactors that were designed for the Soviet Navy's nuclear submarines."

    The reactor at Chernobyl had a positive void coefficient. Meaning you remove the water and the reaction goes up. That means when they dropped the control rods the displaced water actually added to the reaction for a time. They designed it that way so they could burn very low enriched fuel.


    You're doing a fantastic job here tracking down the pertinent facts and issues. However, your closing paragraph set off the impartiality alarm, even for someone with over 25 years service in the nuclear industry.

    Rational voices point to the fact that most modern reactors in operation as well as those being built and planned are much safer than the aging fleet at Fukushima Dai-ichi. This may be so, but populations around the world have irrational fear of radiation.

    So voices that contend that many modern reactors in operation are not much safer than Fukushima's are not rational?

    Are not half the operating commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. 30 to 40 years old?

    And what makes ours much more safer than Fukushima's? Because they're ours?

    In light of the horrendous human and economic impacts of the Fukushima disaster, rational voices might question the safety of operating reactors in the U.S., esp. those using the GE Mark I design like at Fukushima Dai-ichi. Or those without redundant cooling systems or adequate containment for spent fuel pools.

    Might we suggest something more along the lines of:

    Nuclear industry supporters argue that most modern reactors in operation as well as those being built and planned are much safer than the aging fleet at Fukushima Dai-ichi. However, many concerned scientists and citizens point to the fact that many of the operating nuclear plants in the U.S. are 30 to 40 years old, and some have GE Mark I reactors similar to Fukushima Dai'ichi #1, 2 & 3.

    thx & goodnite.

    I have no issue with your formulation and have added it to the end of my post. I've tried to clarify my position in other comments on this thread.

    Oh IANVS
    Ours are safer because It Can't Happen Here.
    If It Can't Happen Here, then they are safer, because It Can't Happen.
    It may seem ridiculous, but I think it makes a certain amount of sense all the same.
    It's not just fears that are irrational.

    Japan’s damaged nuclear plant may be in danger of emitting sudden bursts of heat and radiation, undermining efforts to cool the reactors and contain fallout.

    The potential for limited, uncontrolled chain reactions, voiced yesterday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is among the phenomena that might occur, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo today. The IAEA "emphasized that the nuclear reactors won’t explode," he said.


    Tepco share price from the FT

    Tokyo - we have a problem! Tepco mkt cap = 749 billion JPY

    Why is Tepco still worth anything at all? Is the assumption that the Japanese government will pick up most of the costs? Is Tepco TBTF?

    You got it in one. The only reason there is an occasional buyer is the perception that the Japanese gov will not/cannot allow TEPCO to fail.

    But 30% of original value is still quite a bit. I can see picking up shares at say 1% or .1% of previous value, on the odd chance, they will be bailed out enough to survive. I can't imagine their assets are enough to cover the liability from this incident -especially if a hundred thousand people must be relocated.....
    They will certainly pull the viable pieces of the corp together into a new one, but that doesn't mean the current owners are to be made whole or given a stake in the new entity. (At least thats how it should work, maybe in Japan taxpayers making stockholders whole is accepted?)

    Should be worth a buck fifty in the morning. Then BUY BUY BUY.

    Thank you for providing such a high degree of clarity and objectivity to a complex and dynamically changing situation with so many unknowns.

    NHK Just broadcast an interview with a TEPCO worker at the plant. He says that TEPCO is not providing individual dosimeters to all workers. TEPCO admitted this was the case but said that they only sent in workers to low radiation dose areas without individual dosimetsrs. The worker said he would only reliably know what dose he was receiving if he was close to others with dosimeters.

    TEPCO also said that they didn't have enough for everyone as many at the plant were destroyed by the explosions. That doesn't sound like a valid excuse.

    There are 19 or so nuclear plants in Japan, are they suggesting they don't have any either?

    They could have even bought them on ebay by now.

    The people who run the other plants are cruel people.

    No, that excuse doesn't hold water at all. There aren't spare dosimeters at other reactor sites? The JSDF doesn't have any? They can't ask the US for some?

    There were reports back when the firefighters first entered the plant that the chief in charge told the others to ignore their dosimeters, or they wouldn't get anything done. He stayed with his men the whole time and monitored his dosimeter, rotating the crew in and out of the hottest areas, and picked up a year's worth of radiation himself. If the firefighters had them, why doesn't TEPCO have extras?

    Perhaps there are spare ones, but not enough for the 600-700 hundred people incl. Tepco, Gov, fire dept, SDF, local electric sub-contractors, etc working there in 3 shifts.

    Accidents happen. They are trying to cope and they don't have a manual to follow, because pretty much everything they planned for is now useless, because of the scope of things and how things are unraveling.

    I'm sure Tepco people can write a much better extreme simultaneous nuclear crisis manual after this stint is over and done with.

    Till then, it's pretty much a learning experience for them as well.

    Anyone who believes everything TEPCO et. al. say, including professors in Sweden, must be...I just came up short on expletives.

    Sounds credible if today were April Fools Day. LOL. Anyone hiding anything. How deplorable nuclear safety is. Pathetic.

    We were told in 1986 that a Chernobyl accident was impossible in "the west". Now we're being told that a Fukushima is impossible in the UK. I think the word impossible is overused.

    True, we have ageing small to medium gas-cooled reactors, not ageing large water-cooled reactors. Also we have a modern 1.3 GW PWR at Sizewell. The individual sites are smaller, but unlike Fukushima some UK plants are located almost on the beach; we are told there is "no tsunami risk".

    So I read this:

    It looks plausible that a moderate (mag. 5) earthquake, which the UK does get, could trigger a moderate (6 m) tsunami. If this coincided with a storm surge and/or a high tide, the water would be higher than this. There was in fact a freak weather event in 1607 which drowned 2,000 people living on the Severn Estuary. Did design engineers pick up on this? One does wonder.

    In the UK, no-one knows how safe the gas-cooled reactors are in any respect, because official secrecy ruled. They do not have spent fuel ponds as fuel is reprocessed at Sellafield and some of it becomes new fuel rods. But Sellafield's routine emissions into the sea are so high that Ireland sued the UK in the international court in an attempt to get Sellafield closed down. Also no-one even pretends that reprocessing is economic.

    One then starts wondering what the tsunami risk is for Sellafield and its French counterpart Cap de la Hague. Sellafield is where all the UK's nuclear waste is stored. It contains much, much more material than say a twin-reactor power station.

    They do not have spent fuel ponds as fuel is reprocessed at Sellafield and some of it becomes new fuel rods.

    Doesn't seem to be much info on spent fuel storage at UK reactors I can find with a bit of googling but here's a few links I could find.


    Once removed from the reactor the used fuel elements are stored in cooling ponds (with the exception of Wylfa which has dry stores in a carbon dioxide atmosphere) where the decay heat is transferred to the pond water, and then removed by the pond water circulation, cooling and filtration system.


    Interim storage of the AGR spent fuel in a demineralised-water cooling pond, which contains trace amounts of chloride, albeit under strict environmental control, poses a corrosion concern over time,


    Spent Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) and Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) fuel elements are stored for long periods before final disposal.

    Alternatively, if the fuel is left for a period (three years for AGR spent fuel or five years for PWR spent fuel), it can be reprocessed.

    The 2008 White Paper, ‘Meeting the energy challenge’, states that any new nuclear power stations that might be built in the UK should proceed on the basis that spent fuel will not be reprocessed and that plans for, and financing of, waste management should proceed on this basis.


    When the spent (used) fuel is removed from a nuclear reactor it is still emitting ionising radiation and heat. It is placed in large fuel storage ponds or pools of water near the reactor where it can sit to allow it to cool and allow the radiation levels to decrease. After this cooling period, the fuel is loaded into specially constructed secure containers called 'flasks'. These flasks are transported to Sellafield either by road, rail or from overseas customers by sea in purpose built ships.


    I just saw your link to the publication of the study discussed in a previous thread (went back to it). I am highly surprised by this publication. What can I say, the only thing is that at least it was not a journal specialized in epidemiology.

    I think the word impossible is overused.


    To quote Inigo Montoya from "The Princess Bride": "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    We are talking about probabilities here: possibilities, not impossibilities. We have a more useful sample size now than we have had in the past: 6 reactors melted down and two catastrophic loss of containment incidents over 50 years. Or, if you break it down by reactor, five loss of containment and meltdown, one meltdown only.

    It seems that if you go by the statistics, you have a 83% chance of a major loss of containment accident to go with your reactor meltdown.

    And you don't need a tsunami. All you need is a stuck valve.

    These are the real possibilities.


    How many ways can you describe "stuck valve?!" The issues of deteriorating equipment is especially impressive. We are one blackout away from disaster in this country.



    According to a 2010 survey of energy accidents, there have been at least 56 accidents near nuclear reactors in the United States (defined as incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or more than US$50,000 of property damage). The most serious of these was the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant has been the source of two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States since

    Globally, there have been at least 99 (civilian and military) recorded nuclear reactor accidents from 1952 to 2009 (defined as incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or more than US$50,000 of property damage, the amount the US federal government uses to define major energy accidents that must be reported), totaling US$20.5 billion in property damages. Property damage costs include destruction of property, emergency response, environmental remediation, evacuation, lost product, fines, and court claims.[2] Because nuclear reactors are large and complex accidents onsite tend to be relatively expensive.[3] . . . .

    This list is incomplete; please help to expand it.

    Your alarmist references aren't helping here. Sure 99 sounds like a lot of accidents, but if you consider how many nuclear reactors have successfully been built, fueled and operated and been completely and safely decomissioned without a significant accident or major release of radioactive material why it's possible it's almost as many. In which case, the nuclear industry could be near to achieving a 50% success rate.


    So go ahead and keep thinking the glass is half empty when it may be half full. And the spent fuel pools are more than half full. A gift to our children who will undoubtedly come up with wonderous new uses for everything we leave for them.

    SpeedE.. just from 2 or 3 significant failures, we're looking at decades of Toxicity across swaths of Europe, Western Asia, and now a considerable percentage of an Island Nation.

    If your glass is half full of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and the other half is just poo, you don't have anything to be cheering about.

    Treating these overstuffed Toxic Fuel Pools like some Christmas Present to our kids is a tired and offensive twisting of what they really are, a massive burden on generations that may well already have their hands full of other crap to deal with.

    Another idea is that the "cooling system" for the reactor is mostly not used. Mostly it just sits there. Then, all of a sudden, it becomes essential, for a while.

    In the spent fuel pools, it's different.

    Related idea: When a reactor is SCRAMmed, it seems that the generator is also stopped. But what do you think about having the generator continue to run, at least for a while, to pull heat out of the reactor?

    Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant has been the source of two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States

    The references to wikipedia only list the 2002 incident at Davis-Besse. I know there was another expensive forced outage earlier, but it is not listed. What was that?

    The 2002 one is listed as rod corrosion, but the steel lid was being eaten away by zinc acid or some such, and they bought a new lid from a stranded plant.

    It was dangerous of course, but they did manage to catch it. I think the NRC refused to grant their request for a delay of something, and they ran across the problem, while looking for something else. Did you know more?

    You should check out Storegga Slide.


    Storegga Slide is a very interesting case and I can’t see any reason why something similar could not happen again. Especially in the world of warming oceans where melting methane hydrates might trigger something like that. Nuclear power plants can however be designed to withstand even megatsunamis.

    "Can be" is not the same as "were". Discussion of the future of nukes is important but not terribly urgent, but discussion of how best to safeguard the existing deployment is urgent and important.

    Exactly. The existing nukes are at risk. Sea level will rise during this century; storms are most likely becoming stronger -> so even without tsunamis some nukes are too close to highest imaginable sea level. What really amazes me is that a nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan was not safeguarded against a major tsunami. They have had high tsunamis before. There were people arguing that it is insane to leave nukes vulnerable to tsunamis. For example there was an active campaign in EU rising awareness about the risks of coastal nukes and demanding higher safety standards. The initiative was blocked by conservative politicians ;)

    Floating nuclear power plants. Starts to melt... Sink it!

    I say we put all future nuclear plants in the Rose Garden.
    A fairly large river is close by, and safety would be on the mind of people who could carry out the needed political will.

    Each US Senator and billionaire investor has to live within the nuclear plant's grounds. Their children have to eat and drink food and water produced within the plant's facilities. Enforced accountability. Wonder how that would change perspectives on safety.

    I mean these facilities are 100% safe and they never leak radiation or cause accidents. So the billionaires and senators should be therefore 100% safe by extension of this logic.

    And their children may leave only when dispatched to the front lines of the war-of-the-moment.

    Let us not forget the famous floating nuke of the Philippines:


    This web site is a hoot. It's got all the pro-nuclear propaganda in one nice, well-financed site. (The "nuclear myths" it tries to refute have all been proven true.)

    lol....but minutes I will never get back.

    Myth #2: Radioactive waste from nuclear plants is a health hazard

    There is no such thing as nuclear waste. This is a term used by anti-nuclear ideologues to frighten the public, and its elected representatives.

    FYI the Philippines Atoms For Peace site appears to be connected to the LaRouche PAC - check the bottom right corner.

    Or at least tow it far far away from anyone......

    Tsunami risk: zero at La Hague, which, though close to the sea, is on a plateau surrounded by high cliffs.

    However, just down the road, you have Flamanville with a couple of 1MW reactors, and a PWR under construction, which is right on the beach, at the bottom of a cliff. Several other French sites have a similar beach situation, and one (Blayais) had a major incident from storm surge during a hurricane which happened to be outside design specs.

    Wikipedia gives the elevation of La Hague as 5 meters. Is the risk really zero? I wonder.
    Personally, I won't avoid visiting La Hague because of worry about a tsumani, but that is just my irrational lack of fear, or whatever.

    The risk is certainly low. But how low the risk, how high the tsunami, how much damage will be done, and how much impact it might have at some undetermined point in the future are all questions that are hard to quantify. And humans just aren't very good at comprehending something like "3.2x10^-7% of €750B damages over 50 years" even if a reasonable number was developed.

    This tsunami was seven meters high. The plant designed for 6.5 meters.

    The plate that Japan is on subsided about 1.5 meters on the eastern shore, so subtract that from the 6.5 meters to get about 5 meters of protection.

    the Blayais incident mentioned was at Level 2 - from Wikipedia:
    On evening of December 27, 1999, a combination of the incoming tide and high winds overwhelmed the sea walls at the plant and causing parts of the plant to be flooded. [1] The event resulted in the loss of the plant's off-site power supply and knocked out several safety-related backup systems, resulting in a 'level 2' event on the International Nuclear Event Scale.[2]

    At the time, units 1, 2 and 4 were at full power, while unit 3 was shut down for refuelling.[1] The operation of units 1 and 2 were affected by flood damage to a number of water pumps and distribution panels, all four units lost their 225kV power supplies, while units 2 and 4 also lost their 400kV power supplies.[1] Diesel backup generators were employed to maintain power to plants 2 and 4 until the 400kV supply was restored.[1] Over the following days an estimated 90,000 m3 (3,200,000 cu ft) of water was pumped out of the flooded buildings.[1]
    Looking back from Fukushima, it looks like France just barely dodged a large scale incident.
    another serious incident at Tricastin:
    During the night between July 7 and 8, 75 kilograms (165 pounds) of unenriched uranium were released into nearby rivers and ground water. The local population was only informed about the accident hours after it took place.
    Yes, the engineers can in hindsight fix the problems that have happened. However, each new system that avoids the problems of the last design will have its own, not thought of instabilities. Ask any software developer about how one needs real world testing to uncover the unknown unknowns. Real world testing comes with some rather large unmeasurable risks. Also, one can never eliminate human error. Nothing is foolproof as fools are so ingenious.
    I know for myself there are times when I can skate and avoid problems without effort and times when I have to slog through the sludge. Any misstep and I'm in the ****. When you're operating a nuclear plant...
    Basically, using nuclear fission to boil water is a dumb idea. How much of the Earth do we have to ruin for humans before we get it?


    Thanks for another fine post.

    Regarding the rule of thumb that you mentioned:

    As a rule of thumb, after about 5 half lives have past, the abundance of the isotopes have decayed to virtually zero.

    After 5 half lives the radioactivity is reduced to 1/32 of its initial level, which may still be dangerously high.

    Yes. I thought the generally-accepted ROT was ten half-lives.

    Yes. I thought the generally-accepted ROT was ten half-lives.

    That's just attractive because it's convenient for a species that used base-ten numbers and measures: 210 is about 103. So X kilograms decay to X grams.

    Just heard en expert from the Swedish Authorities on the Swedish National Radio (P1). If I had to base an opinion on the situation from that interview I would conclude that the situation is more or less under control. My take is he said the situation is under control presently. Provisionary cooling has been established. This cooling has to be developed to “permanently provisional”. He did not rule out that things could happen that would lead to new emissions, however. Much of the time focused on more or less long-term solutions, like building of a sarcophag.

    The issue has moved away from the "fronpage". The general public most likely have the impression that the acute crisis is over.

    For background information on Tepco:

    See Fukuchima_eng_20110320r.pdf (1.9 MB)

    I back the idea that this is a storm in a teacup, but the teacup is earth and we all have to live in this place. So why can Japan get away with lying about the severity of this situation. Why is a spade not called a spade?

    May I suggest that there is plenty to hide. It's not a matter of Japan being permitted to get away with lying. There is more here than lying underway. IMHO.

    Would you elucidate, please, Pavel?

    From Kyodo news

    URGENT: Radioactivity 10,000 times the limit found from groundwater: TEPCO

    TOKYO, April 1, Kyodo

    A radioactive substance about 10,000 times the limit was detected from groundwater around the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday.

    A Tokyo Electric official said the radiation level is ''extremely high.''

    A Tokyo Electric official said the radiation level is ''extremely high.''

    I call it "Unforgivably High"

    Some interesting videos of the decommissioning of the Three Mile Island core following the accident there.
    Gives some idea of the issues that will be probably be faced in Japan "at some point" in the future:




    Three Mile Island: PWR/intact containment, single core, 13 years to 'clean up'.

    Fukushima: Multiple cores, spent fuel, containment breaches, BWR (cooling system contaminated), unknown levels of meltdown, ??? years to 'clean up'.

    The word "never" comes to mind. Best thing that they could do is build a lagoon to dump the whole works in and fish out fuel rods in about 5 ( or 500) years.

    Here's the answer to one of my questions--how fast do the isotopes sink? Not fast enough. Of course, it depends on current velocities and other variables. So how much of this will mix into Tokyo Harbor over time through countercurrents and eddies?


    Plutonium concentration factors spanning five orders of magnitude have been observed, with no significant dependence on oxidation state. Almost complete excretion of ingested plutonium by zooplankton makes their defecation an extremely important mechanism in the scavenging of plutonium from surface waters. This phenomenon has been well documentated in many field studies using time-series sediment traps to quantify and characterize elemental flux. Plutonium fluxes in the northwestern Mediterranean have recently been shown to correlate well with mass flux and suggest residence times of 24 and 3.5 years, respectively, for 239,240Pu and 241Am in the upper mixed layers, values which are rather longer than those measured previously. . . .

    The joys of zooplankton poop.


    We examined the vertical distributions of 239+240Pu activity and 240Pu/239Pu atom ratio in settling particles and quantified the particulate 239+240Pu fluxes in the water column in the western Northwest Pacific. Settling particle samples were collected using sediment traps. Plutonium isotopes were analyzed using a sector field high-resolution ICP-MS. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that both Pu activity and Pu isotope ratio data have been obtained for settling particles in the Pacific Ocean. The high (>0.18) 240Pu/239Pu atom ratios in settling particles indicate that plutonium from the Pacific Proving Grounds (PPG) source in the central Pacific is transported toward the western Northwest Pacific. Evidence indicates that Pu scavenging onto the settling particles is strongly dependent upon the bulk mass flux. The results suggest that advective lateral transport of dissolved Pu from the open ocean to the ocean margin and removal of Pu into the margin sediments by particle scavenging is a common phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean. Plutonium can be considered as a useful tracer to study the transport and fate of other contaminants that readily adsorb to particles in marine environments.

    I think we're about to find out just how useful Plutonium is as a tracer.


    An Oceanic General Circulation Model (OGCM) including a plutonium scavenging model as well as an advection-diffusion model has been developed for modelling the distribution of plutonium in the Pacific Ocean. Calculated 239, 240Pu water profile concentrations and 239, 240Pu inventories in water and sediment of the Pacific Ocean have showed a reasonable agreement with the experimental results. The presence of local fallout plutonium in central North Pacific waters has been confirmed. The observed 240Pu/239Pu mass ratios confirm that plutonium originating from local fallout from nuclear weapons tests carried out at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls is more rapidly removed from surface waters to deeper waters than plutonium originating from global fallout. The developed OGCM can be used for modelling the dispersion of other non-conservative tracers in the ocean as well.



    There is no clear understanding on the behavior of 239+240Pu in the
    northwest Pacific Ocean proper. It appears that more than 5 folds differences in
    the export flux of Pu between the eutrophic and oligotrophic region explains the
    relative decrease in 239+240Pu concentration in the northwest Pacific. However,
    there are no direct measurements of sinking Pu isotopes in the northwestern
    Pacific proper. We need to confirm this hypothesis by obtaining the sinking
    239+240Pu fluxes in both regions. . . . There is no systematic monitoring of the artificial radionuclides in
    seawater in this region, particularly beyond the 1980s. Therefore we need to
    analyze various geochemical reservoirs that accumulated high resolution temporal
    variation of the surface water concentrations. (Hong, Baskaran & Povinec, 2004)

    And here's a chapter on the history of radio-pollution in northern seas that will raise the hair on your head. The problem is, the bad stuff with the long half lives creates an additive effect. The Pacific is a convenient dumping ground until its not.


    To get the hairs on your head
    to stand straight up:

    consider the impact, within organisms, of radio-actives in combination
    with the chemical stew of poly-chlorinated bi-phenols, dioxin, dimethyl anything...
    with hormone mimics like plasticizers and vinyls...
    with neurotoxins from pesticides
    with defoliants, fungicides, and herbicides...

    These articles are not even written.

    Best thing that they could do is build a lagoon to dump the whole works in and fish out fuel rods in about 5 (or 500) years.


    OK, Alan, I'm convinced your idea should be considered.

    How would the structures be dismantled and the remnants, along with the fuel residue in its various states, be moved to the lagoon without blasting even larger quantities of radionuclides into the environment than would otherwise be the case?

    Unless, of course, they send in thousands of liquidators/sponges--although if many of them are exposed at 1 Sv/Hr it will be hard to maintain institutional memory (or individual short-term memory).

    Seriously. How would you do it? Large explosions not allowed.

    Edit: Sorry, I see now: you want to turn the whole site into a lagoon.

    OK, still need a kinder, gentler way to expose the fuel fully to the new marine environment than cruise missiles. Got more details?

    I've got no clue about engineering but I'll let you guys laugh at me... the buildings fronting the reactor buildings are almost as tall as the reactor buildings. Could you fill in the couple of voids between them, creating a wall, then build a connecting wall where adorfs solid white line is...to create one giant cooling pool...?

    I saw this idea someplace else before.

    More photos of the damaged reactors, taken a few days ago via drone:


    Unit 3 looks destroyed. Unit 2 however is the sickest.

    I think we are owed an explanation for unit 4, which had no fuel in the reactor, and the fuel rods had been out for 2 months in water, and in 3 days, the place caught fire, whereas running reactors at Da-ini were brought to cold shutdown.

    Much of the water in pool 4 poured out over workers at the reactor at the time of the quake. Or so I heard a worker at the pool at the time claim in an interview. It was these workers who ran (and now that I've heard why I can understand that).

    Also according to TEPCO, they estimate the thermal output of pool 4 fuel as currently 2MW although I suspect it is even higher.

    They struggled to bring Daini to cold shutdown and were very close to blowing the buildings up there in an emergency vent.

    And I don't think we are being told the full story about reactors 5 and 6 at Daiichi either.

    Leaving aside for a moment what the Japanese government decides, are there any news about what actual residents of the area are doing? What would YOU do if you happened to live in Itate, or somewhere else within the 40 km range from Fukushima? I, for one, would be getting out of Itate in a hurry, and would be preparing to vacate the area quickly, just in case, even at double the distance from the plant.

    5) Fukushima Dai-ichi unit 3 has MOX fuel loads containing plutonium in reactor and in spent fuel pool.

    This is irrelevant; all reactors which have been running for a while have plutonium in their fuel.

    6) Fuel in pool of reactor 4 is not spent and is a 'hot' load outside of containment.

    Fresh fuel isn't radioactive enough to be a concern. The minor U-234 component has a half-life of a quarter of a million years.

    The IAEA has a map, showing the area affected by fallout:

    *Fresh fuel isn't radioactive enough to be a concern.*

    Suppose it's inhaled in particulate form?

    Suppose it's inhaled in particulate form?

    Then the effect will be swamped by the much more radioactive fission products that have also been inhaled.

    So that's pretty much: swallowing new fuel pellets is probably ok, since they are coated. Of all the dares, if I had to pick one, that would be it.
    Inhaling - who wants to inhale any kind of dust, but a small amount, maybe (2nd choice). Although Uranium is not a treat. These metals like lead and mercury are not so good, aside from any radiological effects. On second thought, I don't think so.

    Why do you say MOX fuel is irrelevant? Yes the standard fuel rods contain plutonium after irradiation but not at a level of that contained in the MOX fuel. Fortunately though it seems there was very little MOX fuel in reactor 3 if the Japanese are telling the truth.

    Also the fuel in reactor 3 pool isn't "fresh" as it has already been in the reactor. According to TEPCO the thermal output of the fuel in the remains of pool 4 is currently about 2MW.

    Why do you say MOX fuel is irrelevant? Yes the standard fuel rods contain plutonium after irradiation but not at a level of that contained in the MOX fuel.

    That there are [however many] kg of plutonium in the fuel is interesting, but it doesn't matter that it was added as MOX rather than created in situ.

    *That there are [however many] kg of plutonium in the fuel is interesting,*


    The fact that there is more plutonium in the reactor now than there would have been if it only started with standard fuel rods is what makes a difference. However reports say that only 6% of the fuel had been replaced with MOX rods containing 6% plutonium. If these figures are correct then it's a lot better than it could have been. 6% of the fuel replaced with MOX rods seems a very low number though.

    The intent of the Mixed OXide fuel is to incorporate plutonium from US and USSR weapons stockpiles into power reactor fuel and burn it up.

    The United States is very keen to see this happen as part of its nuclear arms control and anti-proliferation intitiatives.

    However, there is no MOX in any United States power reactor. It's all being burned in other countries.

    Oh really!. A US company, USEC, is doing the re-processing of the nuclear weapons from the USSR. They refused some shipments because it wasn't profitable enough.
    Joe Stiglitz comments

    What would YOU do if you happened to live in Itate

    Like the song says:

    Nice song.

    ...any news about what actual residents of the area are doing?

    This was originally posted on March 23:

    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."

    Not that I support or endorse this idea, but what would the effects be if a relatively "clean" nuclear bomb were exploded directly upon Fukushima - vaporizing the reactor complex - done on a day with predictable light Westerly winds?

    I wonder, would there be less fallout/danger/consequence than if the reactors were to continue dribbling their poisons into the sea for months and even years? One thing's for sure, the problem would be easier to manage.

    IMHO opinion a deliberate nuclear explosion would never even be contemplated, for a variety of reasons, including observance of international treaties. BTW, *whose* device would be used?

    what would the effects be if a relatively "clean" nuclear bomb were exploded directly upon Fukushima - vaporizing the reactor complex - done on a day with predictable light Westerly winds?

    As I've said before, "if your answer is nuclear weapons, you're asking the wrong question. Unless your question is 'How can I spread small pieces of this thing as widely as possible?'"

    Nuclear bombs don't simply vaporize, they disintegrate, pulverize, and disperse stuff. And in any case, vaporizing stuff doesn't make it go away: it'll recondense from the fireball into a fine dust.

    So the upshot would be the global distribution of several thousand tons of uranium. I can't imagine a worse worst-case scenario.

    That's pretty much what I thought. Thanks for the vivid clarification. :)

    The nightmare I don't want happening: Over the next few months we realize that the Japanese disaster is in fact a fatal poisoning of the planet - and that the world does go out with a whimper not a bang.

    edit: Think "Children of Men" with no salvation.

    "So the upshot would be the global distribution of several thousand tons of uranium. I can't imagine a worse worst-case scenario."

    Maybe this would be a hint:


    How do you spell dirty bomb?

    That one bomb you are proposing would release more radioactive waste into the atmosphere than every single atomic bomb ever detonated put together.

    "on a day with predictable light Westerly winds"

    "Predictable?" Yeh, right. Whose prediction? Would it be "rational" to trust the person who would make such a prediction?

    Exactly. The planners of Castle Bravo thought they had predicted the wind. They were wrong.

    On the morning of August 9, 1945, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, flown by the crew of 393rd Squadron commander Major Charles W. Sweeney, carried the nuclear bomb code-named "Fat Man", with Kokura as the primary target and Nagasaki the secondary target.
    By the time Bockscar reached Kokura, a 70% cloud cover had obscured the city, prohibiting the visual attack required by orders. After three runs over the city, and with fuel running low because a transfer pump on a reserve tank had failed before take-off, they headed for their secondary target, Nagasaki. After initially deciding that if Nagasaki were obscured on their arrival the crew would carry the bomb to Okinawa and dispose of it in the ocean if necessary, the weaponeer Navy Commander Frederick Ashworth decided that a radar approach would be used if the target was obscured.

    A nuclear bomb would add its own fission products into the mix, plus would eject the all the material at Fukushima 1 into the atmosphere. Currently only Units 1-3 seem to be 'in play', which comprise 20% of the total. Unit 4, not yet incriminated, is another 10%. Units 5&6 are safe for the time being, as is the shared pool and the small dry cask area.

    Easier to manage? Everyone could go home you mean?

    Thanks to all for the informed comments. Quick question - several days ago, for a full day's news cycle, there was talk of two "missing" workers. I never heard any resolution to this. Does anyone know what happened? Was there a miscount, are these fellows dead..? It seems a rather small area for two people out of 50 (at the time) to go "missing" for a full day...

    Dear workers,
    I have also continuously looked for information about these two individuals, and have seen no info.
    The radiation in turbine hall is too high to be alive now (and nobody can go look just like that).

    However, a hope is that they defected (well it is the better choice between defeat and die at work, there were in this case ofcourse more options). And skipped away by foot to the south of the facility. Maybe.
    If not MIA RIP.

    I found hi-res images of the damaged reactor. Especially reactor 3 looks totally devastated, the piping broken and the steaming water can be seen.


    Wow. I can't see how they're able to get water into Reactor 3 at all, much less keep it more or less under control. Everything outside the concrete containment structure must be destroyed.

    Btw, when did they remove the roof off of Reactor 4, and how did they do it? ISTR the initial explosion didn't tear the roof off.

    It's reactor 2 that still has the building mostly intact - not reactor 4. Nobody has removed anything from reactor 4 - it did it all by itself.

    "Btw, when did they remove the roof off of Reactor 4, and how did they do it?"

    "they" did it via a presumed hydrogen explosion just like the other two reactor's had their roofs removed.

    The Wall Street Journal has published a story about their investigation into TEPCO's disaster plans. I highly recommend their video that discusses these plans For those with a WSJ online- subscription the story is at:


    I googled this and found India Everyday has picked up the story from WSJ and reprinted it:


    The TEPCO disaster plan explains why the disaster response has been so slow and inadequate. The Japanese view apparently was that the safety and design of the Fukushima was so safe that only a minimal disaster plan was needed, but in fact exceeded Japan's government requirements and was approved by the Government. The plan required one stretcher, one satellite phone and 50 protective suits in case of emergencies.

    These quotes from the India Everyday story:

    In some cases, Fukushima Daiichi's crisis planners exceeded minimums. The plan calls for 49 radiation-detecting meters, versus six required by law, and 100 cellphones on two systems, versus the seven required.

    Still, many of the numbers suggest the six-reactor plant anticipated at most a modest emergency. It calls for a four-man medical team to attend to people exposed to radiation and other victims. Four protective suits with oxygen tanks were to be stocked, as well as a single ambulance and radiation-measuring vehicle.

    Much hinged on the fax machine. One section directs managers to notify the industry minister, the local governor and mayors of nearby towns of any problems "all at once, within 15 minutes, by facsimile." In certain cases, the managers were advised to follow up by phone to make sure the fax had arrived.

    Fukushima Daiichi's own report on its accident-management protocols says: "The possibility of a severe accident occurring is so small that from an engineering standpoint, it is practically unthinkable."

    Banri Kaieda, chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said Wednesday that the ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency plans to tighten scrutiny of emergency plans in light of Fukushima Daiichi. "We are painfully aware" the plans were inadequate, an agency spokesman said.

    Too big to fail. And heck disaster plans cost money to conceive of. Then you need to have equipment and contingencies off site and that costs money. Too much money to make money I imagine. So without regulation, the whole country is devastated and doomed to inhale radiation for another lifetime. Honestly, best of luck Japan -- and you need much luck now. Your leadership and business "professionals" failed you.

    From above: "Fukushima Daiichi's own report on its accident-management protocols says: "The possibility of a severe accident occurring is so small that from an engineering standpoint, it is practically unthinkable."

    ha ha ha. Equally unthinkable to the reductionist mind: limits to growth, peak oil & their attendant economic collapse.

    Many things are unthinkable (e.g., limits) to those trained from birth not to think them.

    They grew up with this. As with all peoples, which thinkers you listen to are just as important.

    Don't click on the link unless you want to listen to a heavy metal band.

    Plans are useless if workers cannot take initiative in unforeseen situations and the culture itself forbids lower level worker to do anything without specific orders from the boss. They do not teach you to think independently in most Asian cultures. Japanese are technically in the 21st century, mentally in the 14th century.

    Most Asian engineers basically memorize things in schools, creative problem solving is not taught. The best learn it all their own. Chinese companies especially are complaining about the quality of engineers coming out of the schools.

    But the biggest problem was the design of the plant per se that allowed the diesel generators to be swamped by the tsunami.

    Once you lost that automatic cooling capacity, there was little that could be done, IMHO.

    I agree. When the diesels failed, they had about 12 hours before the reactors would have boiled most of the cooling water out of the reactor. The steam powered pumps and switching batteries out helped, but nothing but those big pumps working was going to save these reactors.

    The totally inadequate disaster plan, like the inadequate height of the tsunami walls even after they knew much larger waves had hit the area, is a complete failure of imagination and planning. Japan would be wise to nationalize TEPCO immediately before their sluggish reaction to this disaster causes even worse damage.

    I agree completely with your description of " a complete failure of imagination and planning" One other sentence in the WSJ article is quite revealing:

    Critics allege Japan's regulators and operators tend to avoid talking about or preparing fuller disaster scenarios, partly to avoid scaring the public.

    With this culture of not talking about fuller disaster scenarios, any Japanese engineer, manager, or reviewer of documents would hesitate to raise objections or issues for fear of embarrassing someone higher up and ruining their own career. A devastating way to design anything, where peer review and free debate and argument are essential to finding and correcting errors and omissions. It is like the fable of the Emperor with no clothing and nobody will say anything about it.

    Considering that the nuclear industry and its lapdogs have been "spinning" the safety of nukes, it's hardly surprising that the Japanese govt and TEPCo have swallowed the hype.

    No different from the US and UK governments and utilities.

    I repeat what I've said before: hyping up nuclear safety makes nukes less safe. Complacency, hubris, etc.

    Plus the basement location of a crucial electrical switching room to switch from base power to backup. It flooded. So even if the backup generators had worked, they would have been of no use.

    The grid was up.
    here is something

    EPA: Radioactive Iodine Exceeding Maximum Contaminant Levels for Drinking Water Found in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts ... But It's Safe


    Few people collect rainwater to drink, and as the EPA points out the levels defined as being adverse to human health are for chronic (lifetime) consumption.

    Actually, lots of people in the area in question collect rainwater to drink, as surface runoff into local reservoirs. IIRC, storage in most of those places isn't particularly large, because rainfall is expected to be regular and conveniently distributed through the seasons. Thus, a few weeks without rain constitutes a drought.

    I wouldn't expect to find anything alarming, but it would be interesting to see some numbers on mean time in storage vs. 131I half-lives, etc. Just cuz I hate it when "we" dismiss health concerns out of hand.

    I collect rainwater to drink and am concerned about contamination. I also collect it to water a garden and do not want it concentrating in my crops. I have blocked surface water runoff from entering my upper terrace. I will not collect any more water until next summer, but Fukushima 1 might continue spewing radioactive isotopes into the environment all year. If the summer winds blow the fallout westward over Japan, China and Russia, it will be better for me. I estimate the greatest concentration of fallout will be washed out of the atmosphere during the beginning of a rainstorm and therefore should discard the first 1 cm of rain onto the ground. The nuclear mess in Japan causes problems nearly half way around the world in the U.S.A.

    The nuclear mess in Japan causes problems nearly half way around the world in the U.S.A.

    Karma. We had it coming.

    From http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110330e...

    Strange that the ratio of iodine-131 to caesium-137 stays about the same over time is it not?

    By which you are implying that the source is continuously creating these isotopes with different halflifes through fission , and that the refresh rate is high.
    Or that the figures are made up
    I would agree

    I believe that chart is for the water discharge on the north end of the shoreline, which is exclusively for Units 5 & 6, and if so that iodine's coming from their spent fuel storage.


    If true, the spent-fuel pools at 5 & 6 would be sources of large quantities of 131I because...?

    So what are you suggesting? That iodine-131 is being produced by ongoing fission at a high rate in the spent fuel pool of 5 and 6?

    Aw, hell. I've been telling myself that since there's a huge concentration of I131 in water inside the plant, you can explain any variation in ocean I131 concentrations by mixing in varying amounts of contaminated plant water over time, so rising concentrations don't imply recent fission.

    But the Cs/I *ratio* ... that must drop with an 8-day half-life, unless somehow the water is preferentially carrying I but not Cs, or unless fission is continuing.


    The whole concept of containment by small, very-strong pressure vessels and containment structures seems wrong.

    It's easy to see where this comes from. Naive objections to nuclear reactors would include "what happens if it explodes like a bomb?", to which the naive answer is "It won't and besides, we'll put it in this extremely strong building that will contain everything if something goes wrong." Hence the whole design of slamming home control rods and going to emergency cooling in a pressure cooker.

    Actually, what you really want to do is to get the fuel rods out of the core where each one will be non-critical by itself and where it can be adequately cooled. So an alternative would be to pop half the fuel rods out the top, half out the bottom and then disperse them widely in a cooling medium to prevent the individual rods from getting hot enough to melt the cladding. This would also separate the fuel widely enough so that there would be no chance of the dispersed rods going critical.

    Rapid core disassembly seems better than control rod insertion and emergency cooling.

    Something like that was my thought.

    I would envision a dedicated emergency response entity with the capability to quickly arrive on site and remove fuel rods. This entity would not work for nuclear plant under duress and would have contracts with multiple power companies for this purpose. The reactor building design would need to be standardized to accomodate the ability for robotic controlled devices to move in and remove fuel rods. The spent fuel pool would be first and would be somewhat easier since top of pool is open for access. The reactor cap would require more creativity to figure out how to mount a 2nd cap on normal cap. 2nd cap would be filled with coolant and pressurized to match pressure within reactor. Normal cap would be removed within 2nd cap, followed by removal of fuel rods.

    I was wondering do the Mark I plants produce no strontium 90? Nowhere have I seen any reports of it being detected.

    Seeing that the levels of I-131 below reactors 2 3 and 4 are lower than the levels in the ocean ,
    but the lvel of reactor 1 exceeds that of the ocean

    Seeing Tellurium with a halflife of 70 minutes below reactor 6

    Log scale plot will make seeing small changes in ratio difficult over this short time scale - you'd need to get a ruler out and measure this carefully. Data from North channel - units 5 and 6 - why publish that and not South channel?

    Yes but even though it's a log scale plot there is no obvious closing of the quantities. In fact the first reading has iodine-131 and caesium-137 almost on top of each other with iodine-131 well ahead at the end.

    The chart for the South is also in the linked PDF but I picked North of the site because the graph was most striking and I hoped it would be showing more accurate ratios by being slightly further from the presumed source and the water therefore more mixed. However if there is a source at reactor 5 and 6 as well then there is something the Japanese aren't telling us it seems.

    There is something very fishy with these graphs.
    There is no particular logic that

    28/3: I-131 is about 40 Bq/cm3 and Co58 is say 8 Bq/cm3.
    27/3: I-131 is about 10 Bq/cm3 and Co58 is say 3 Bq/cm3.

    It is a logscale. Why would the analytical method produce equidistant ratios on a logscale?

    Probably they analyze one of the substances, and relate the others buy a formula, with a given log ratio.

    However, in the link in the top subthread there are data points which are NOT equidistant. What are the lab guys doing? Complete chaos...

    However, in the link in the top subthread there are data points which are NOT equidistant. What are the lab guys doing? Complete chaos...

    Welcome to the world of oil depletion accounting, which has been a TOD topic of interest forever.

    The data has to be self-consistent in a way that obeys scientific laws and plain logic and probability, and when the numbers vary, there is a possibility that one can either correct for the misinformation or to fill in the missing pieces.

    In this case, we are essentially dealing with the stoichiometry of nuclear reactions. Like oil depletion accounting, one can make some headway but it takes a lot of work.

    Strange that the ratio of iodine-131 to caesium-137 stays about the same over time is it not?

    Yes, nothing about those plots say "Nothing to see here"; they suggest continual release (which I guess is expected in a run-off canal ?) but hey, the good news is they are not exponential upwards !!
    The bad news is the area under those curves.

    It may be that an upward trend could be driven by lower water usage, as they are trying to lower that.
    ie Imagine a constant rate leak, and varying water rates

    Pressures and temperatures for reactor 1 (time-scale from right to left)

    source : http://www.gyldengrisgaard.dk/fukmon/uni1_monitor.html

    RP: Reactor pressure
    D/W: Drywell pressure
    S/C: Suppression chamber(wet-well) pressure
    FNT: Feedwater nozzle temperature
    BHT: Bottom head temperature

    How Japan's Earthquake Is Shaking Up Taiwan's High Tech Sector


    In the following video (part 2 of 3), Mitsuhiko Tanaka (an engineer involved in the design of the containment vessel at Fukushima Reactor #4) describes what he calls irrefutable evidence for a Loss of Coolant Accident at Reactor #1 (and possibly at Reactor #3 as well). This is different from a full station black out (and subsequent pressure build-up and release issues), but has to do with ruptures in the coolant pipes or pumps (that would prevent operation of ECCS or emergency core cooling systems at time of accident, or in the follow-up period once power systems have been restored). He further indicates this information has been known all along by TEPCO and government officials, and has been deliberately suppressed and hidden (which he feels shows a disregard to public safety from the very real risk of a reactor containment breach from this kind of accident). He suggests these systems failed initially at the time of the earthquake, or during subsequent efforts to relieve the pressure from fuel vessel or primary containment structure.

    I took a screen shot of the data he provides (for Reactor #1), but it's not particularly clear. It begins on the second day of the accident (2 a.m., March 12) with pressure vessel and primary containment vessel at identical pressure readings (both elevated from normal pressure). Black line is pressure in the reactor pressure vessel. Purple line is pressure in primary containment vessel. And green line is water level. I don't know if anybody can provide any interpretation without seeing the x and y values, but I thought I would include this here for comment. So far, there has been no discussion of a LOCA event at Fukushima.

    Thanks for this. If his theory is true, this sort of mutes the "reactor survived the earthquake" claim. There would have been problems even if electricity wasn't cut off.

    (edit) The "reactors all scrammed successfully" narrative would be more convincing if there was more information available from the operators.

    Thanks for the post. I always like to hear interpretation directly from a knowledgeable source, rather than filtered through the top officials and then the media rephrasing translations without any technical knowledge.

    I listened to the first third of the video and will get back to it when I have more time, but I do note that the data chart starts on the second day as you state in your post. I would have expected an earthquake LOCA to be most likely during the violent shaking, which occurred before his data chart begins. So if I understood it from my partial listening, the break had to be delayed by something. Of course there WERE several severe aftershocks that could have finished off a system weakened in the first shocks. It would be interesting to correlate the exact timing of his chart with the time of those aftershocks. Did he do this later in the video?

    This is only the beginning of getting the true story of what has happened.

    I think that he says that data is not available. Nothing about aftershocks.

    No he doesn't provide information about aftershocks later in the video.

    Much of my summary contains the information presented in the video, and he relies on the graph to prove his point. He suggests the rapid drop of pressure in pressure vessel, and the rapid rise in containment vessel pressure is "irrefutable" for a loss of coolant accident. I'd actually like some additional commentary on this, because the presentation (or translation) is unclear to me. There are also obvious gaps in the above record. And there seems to be some indication that the gages may already be damaged.

    I suggested elsewhere that it's a futile quest to try and get the coolant systems running, and they are just delaying the inevitable and trying to cool the core as long as possible with feed and bleed (which is clearly contaminating the ocean to a very high level, and to a lesser extend the surrounding area). It would also be helpful to know when the venting is taking place, and if this is coinciding with the time period in the graph? I wrote them to request a more detailed version of the graph (with english annotation), and they said they were going to get back to me. I'll update the image above when that comes in.

    I searched the USGS site going through hundreds of Japanese aftershocks looking for those greater than magnitude 6.0 which are listed below. Since USGS only posts the last 30 days of events in this detail these data will soon be deleted from the USGS site which lists earthquakes world wide. I have copied them here in case they might be useful to you or someone else in the future here on TOD.


    In addition to the 9.0 initial earthquake there were 7.9 and a 7.7 aftershocks within the first two hours , either of which would be major quakes. However most of these large aftershocks came before the supposed LOCA that is discussed in the original post. . During the time period after 2AM with the posted pressure data there are just 3 moderate aftershocks 6.3, 6.0, and 6.2. ( Not sure of the time scale on that chart)

    My research field covered a lot of materials research for nuclear reactors, but not piping engineering. However, looking over this list of aftershocks that first 24 hours shows that the piping got one "HELLUVA Shaking". That suggests to me that fatigue cracking of pipes, hangers, snubbers, bolts, etc, might be involved here. I know they said these systems were designed for about magnitude 8 earthquake . But do they design for a series of about 27 quakes within the first day over magnitude 6.0, including two at 7.9 and 7.7 in addition to the initial shock at magnitude 9.0?

    I don't have much more to add, but I am interested in how materials behave in these extreme conditions. Perhaps someone who has done earthquake analysis on nuclear plants could comment on whether anyone ever models the effect of 27 shocks over Magnitude 6 in a row. Also the location of the quakes is in the original data, but a few of these were WEST of Japan so the earthquake wave would hit the plant from a different direction than most of the aftershocks that were off the EAST coast,

    Is this another part of this disaster like the Japanese said in this quote I saw?:

    Another TEPCO spokesman, Motoyasu Tamaki, used a new buzzword, "sotegai," or "outside our imagination," to describe what actually occurred.

    I copied the Local time from the USGS notes that come up by clicking on the UTC date. However I see what appear differences from Japan Standard Time in a few cases. The time is calculated for "Local time at the Epicenter" and these epicenters were in a wide swath, with some WEST of Japan, however most are East just off the coast. Use the UTC times for accuracy. Tokyo and the Fukushima plant are +9:00 hours ahead of UTC time. Be careful of dates since Japan starts the new day 9 hours ahead of London where UTC is standardized. ( example first entry time UTC =05:46:24 plus 9 hours gives 02:46:23 PM) .

    Date/Time UTC Local time Magnitiude

    2011/03/11 05:46:24 02:46:23 PM local time at epicenter 9.0

    2011/03/11 06:06:13 03:06:13 PM local time at epicenter 6.3

    2011/03/11 06:07:21 03:07:21 PM local time at epicenter 6.4

    2011/03/11 06:15:40 03:15:40 PM local time at epicenter 7.9

    2011/03/11 06:23:07 03:23:07 PM local time at epicenter 6.2

    2011/03/11 06:25:50 04:25:50 PM local time at epicenter 7.7

    2011/03/11 06:33:04 03:06:13 PM local time at epicenter 6.0

    2011/03/11 06:48:45 04:48:45 PM local time at epicenter 6.2

    2011/03/11 06:57:15 03:57:15 PM local time at epicenter 6.0

    2011/03/11 06:58:58 04:58:58 PM local time at epicenter 6.3

    2011/03/11 07:14:57 04:14:57 PM local time at epicenter 6.3

    2011/03/11 07:25:36 05:25:36 PM local time at epicenter 6.1

    2011/03/11 07:28:13 04:28:13 PM local time at epicenter 6.1

    2011/03/11 08:12:07 05:12:07 PM local time at epicenter 6.2

    2011/03/11 08:15:41 06:15:41 PM local time at epicenter 6.1

    2011/03/11 08:19:25 05:19:25 PM local time at epicenter 6.5

    2011/03/11 08:26:37 06:26:37 PM local time at epicenter 6.0

    2011/03/11 08:31:09 05:31:09 PM local time at epicentre 6.0

    2011/03/11 08:33:02 05:33:02 PM local time at epicenter 6.0

    2011/03/11 10:10:34 07:10:34 PM local time at epicenter 6.0

    2011/03/11 15:13:15 12:13:15 AM local time at epicenter 6.3

    2011/03/11 18:59:15 03:59:15 AM local time at epicentre 6.3

    2011/03/11 19:02:59 04:02:59 AM local time at epicentre 6.0

    2011/03/11 19:46:49 04:46:49 AM local time at epicentre 6.2

    2011/03/11 20:11:22 05:11:22 AM local time at epicenter 6.3

    2011/03/12 01:47:15 11:47:15 AM local time at epicenter 6.5

    2011/03/12 13:15:42 10:15:42 PM local time at epicenter 6.3

    2011/03/12 23:24:48 08:24:48 AM local time at epicenter 6.1

    2011/03/13 01:26:04 10:26:04 AM local time at epicenter 6.2

    2011/03/14 06:12:36 04:12:36 PM local time at epicenter 6.1

    [Thanks for the post. I reformatted the info to fit comment field, which meant removing the day of the week. Unfortunately, the spaces between columns will not show here. - TOD Community Moderator]

    I stumbled upon the Oil Drum during the Gulf spill (and became addicted). After the
    resolution of that spill I moderated to an occasional reader. As this latest disaster
    began to unfold I knew right where to come
    (I am binging again).
    I rarely comment at sites like this but I have a question which has been bothering me.
    As I understand it the steam loop is isolated during shutdown/emergency. During normal operation the condenser acts as the heat sink in the loop. What is acting as the heat sink during emergency cool down procedures?

    What is acting as the heat sink during emergency cool down procedures?

    Seems to be evaporation and leaking hot waste water into the ocean.


    Nothing, except the released steam from the spent fuel pools and the pressure vessels, and the water leaking out and carrying heat into the trenches and such. That's much of the problem.

    So "containment" is a joke ?

    No. The question was for in normal shut down mode. The answers are for now.

    I guess my question is, how does the backup cooling system(s) exchange heat without transporting cooling fluids outside of containment under more "normal" situations?

    Good question.

    So, from the perspective of someone on the "Western" side of the Pacific, what are we talking about worst-case here? Do I need to start digging a fallout shelter, or is the worst-case clearly going to be a fairly localized event?

    Or is still unclear on the true possibilities for the worst case?

    In my opinion a fallout shelter will be unnecessary. You need to take precautions about radioactive atoms accumulating in soil (fallout), water, food & pools and radioactive products from Japan.

    Years ago I had a military surplus radiation monitor (Geiger counter) but gave it away to an environmental activist who I figured would get more use out of it than I was. I have been intending to buy a new state of the art one, and finally did some online research into current models last night. Of course all of the high quality suppliers are sold out, back-ordered, and not accepting any new orders for weeks, months, and/or until further notice. Not that I mind; if I did own one now I would consider it better deployed on the other side of the world where the need is greatest. But this will be an interesting metric of the impact of the disaster - How long until normal supply and demand is re-established in the radiation monitor market, around previously normal price levels?

    I noticed this too. Years ago I bought a neat little Russian Geiger counter that displays in μSv/h or μRem/h from Harbor Freight for $50. A Radex RD1503. Now I see the same exact one selling on ebay for $300 to $500. And they're being bought! I do still have my 1960's vintage CDV-700 in Civil Defense yellow, and it still works.

    Japan's national energy plan calls for building 14 new nuclear plants in the next two decades and raising the proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power from the current one-third to one-half.

    Overcoming Public Opposition

    But in the wake of this disaster, citizens are more likely to resist efforts to build nuclear power plants in their back yards. Of course, it has never been easy.

    Purdue University political scientist Daniel Aldrich says government officials and power companies have had to conduct detailed surveys to find communities where labor unions and other civic society elements would not fight back.

    "A critical aspect of what they're looking for are these pockets of weaker civil society," Aldrich says.

    Public Anger Against Nuclear Power Mounts in Japan

    Indian territory.

    Japanese scientist developes new nuclear waste disposal method.

    The Japanese are using a newly developed method for disposing of nuclear waste.
    "There are many subduction zones on the Earth, fortunatly one of them is close to Japan.", said Dr.Hose Minamimoto. "Our plan is to drop the nuclear waste there and let in get subducted into the mantle."
    When asked how the plan was working out, he said "We are still working on the fine details, for now we just dump it into the sea, but in the future, we hope to put it into barrels and dump it into the sea. When we perfect this procedure, we hope to be able to actually dispose of the material somewhere closer to the subduction zone then the coastline."

    Tasteless, but I understand that you'd rather laugh than cry, indeed. :-(

    Hail TOD .

    I was here during the GOM coverage and particularly liked the ROV realtime coverage.

    Where are the N-ROVs ?

    Also , I have seen no mention of structural damage analysis of Fukushima plant due
    to the earthquake ....

    I heard that the structural engineers are demanding ridiculously large fees for conducting the survey.

    The earthquake caused the main problem .

    The foundation is cracked .

    Which foundation and what is the source of that information?

    The ocean leaks suggest to me that the entire plant structural
    foundation integrity was breached on day 1 ...

    As I said , no data .

    From my experience with work where there is radioactivity involved, any job in a radiation zone costs about 10 to 15 times the cost to do the same job in a non- radioactive environment. Fees 15 x normal is where I would expect negotiations to start!

    I was being a smartass. Couldn't resist.

    *I heard that the structural engineers are demanding ridiculously large fees for conducting the survey.*

    Perhaps TEPCO and/or the government are in no position to go bargain hunting, or have the inclination.

    Courtesy of Market Ticker Forum (BigBluffer). (Translated)--sampling point 10 looks to be over 50 km south of Daichi, 5 km east of the coast, 83 m deep?

    Sample #10 = 80 Bq/l.

    Inshore, southerly countercurrent? It's not all going north just yet.


    Anchorage got its first precipitation in two weeks last night; several inches worth of snow. I have to admit, the geiger counter is out and by the door for a daily scan of the front steps before I go to let the chickens out. Nothing but scattered clicks and clear blue skies up here this afternoon.

    Inshore, southerly countercurrent?

    Seems likely. See illustration:


    I consider those measurements a breath of fresh air (so to speak). That part of the ocean should be the worst affected, yet the values are at or well below the natural activity of radioisotopes in your own body.

    I think many of us thought it would be much, much worse. Insert the usual "we ain't out of the woods yet" and "things could be worse elsewhere" caveats here.

    "131I has a half life of 8 days and 137Cs has a half life of about 30 years. As a rule of thumb, after about 5 half lives have past, the abundance of the isotopes have decayed to virtually zero. 131I will continue to be a problem for so long as it is leaking from the site but will decay to zero quite quickly once leakage stops. 137Cs may be a problem for about 150 years."

    Virtually zero? 5 half lives, if I'm not mistaken, is 2 to the -5th power. That's 1/32 or .03125 or 3.125%.

    3 percent is still a threat if the initial or cumulative dose is large.

    More so for delayed health issues.

    Even more so, by far, for fetal development and still less if the negative effects are slight mental retardation (10 IQ points).

    This is a good point. Even I made the mistake of taking the value of ~150a without thinking. You need to know what the starting level is in order to quantify how many decay cycles you need to get below a certain other level (safety, harmless, detectable ... all open to debate also).

    In fact for 137Cs one could almost say that the half-life doesn't much matter - the decay is so slow that other larger factors are more relevant:
    - the initial concentration and distribution of the fallout
    - what chemical form it is in
    - how it is dissolved or accumulated in aquatic and terrestiral systems
    - how it is taken up and accumulated in plant and animal life
    And most importantly
    - how all this plays out over years, decades even ...

    It's a process we are only now beginning to learn about - and the area around Chernobyl one of the few examples from where to try to draw somekind of estimates. There are other ones also mentioned on this tread - the Hanford site and down river from there - various places around the world where nuclear testing or dumping of waste has been practiced etc.

    The late-soviet and early russian state and areas of ukraine had terrible healthcare systems and more terrible statistical and information gathering for the Chernobyl event - part of the reason for the endless tug-of-war over its health effects. Japan on the other hand has one of the lowest infancy death rates and perhaps the best health care system in the world. When people start to get sick in Japan - especially effects manifest in the offspring - and we know how cherished children are held in Japanese culture due to the aging population and other cultural reasons. - I think the Japanese population, despite their obedient and no-fuss approach to politics, will now force the government's hand to get off of nuclear power - especially if they start seeing deformed babies...

    Doh !

    TEPCO shares ?

    Matt Staben - "Not that I support or endorse this idea, but what would the effects be if a relatively "clean" nuclear bomb were exploded directly upon Fukushima - vaporizing the reactor complex - done on a day with predictable light Westerly winds?"

    I don't think you understand the meaning of 'vaporize'. It just means you are going to put all that radiation into the atmosphere along with the radiation from the bomb. It does not mean the radiation just disappears. The purpose of the clean up, should it be successful (unlikely), is to prevent the radiation getting into the atmosphere. Also, there is no 'clean' nuclear bomb.

    Try to hit the 'Reply' buttons, so your comment appears in line below that one you are referring to.. not "Start New Thread" ..


    Seems to be a lot of that going around.

    maybe because of TOD forum's unique format...I've never seen it elsewhere...I think I like it though, the key seeming to be signing up so you can then utilize your cookies and the "[new]" identifier...

    ...if this helps anybody..at first I thought the "Reply in new window" had something to do with where your reply would be placed, being that your reply is itself kind-of a "new window." BUT i'm a habitual right-click "open in new tab" firefox user so i never figured it out...BUT i'm almost positive that THAT's all it is - identical to right-clicking "Reply" then "Open Link in New Tab"... so maybe TOD should change "Reply in new window" to "Reply in new tab" if IE acts similarly...but i dunno...carry on...

    Please do not use the {_n_e_w_} (brackets changed from square) in your post as everyone actually looking for them is being snagged!


    These guys just love to solve every problem by blowing it up. It is vaporized, it's gone, Hell-a-lujah. Some wanted to blow up the seafloor of the GOM last year. Or sink big ships on it. Trouble on land? Sink airships on it. The Hindenburg. Or push that itsy-bitsy power plant into the sea, than those cheapish battleships can be piled on it.
    Hey, I have a great idea to solve the world energy crisis - why not blow the whole Globe into small pieces? That would certainly help us to get rid of all our problems!

    Sarcastically: It is the "think big" attitude.
    What ever happened to "small is beautiful"?

    Seriously: The more I see the future of our species, the more I think that we need to "think small" if we wish to move along.

    Thinking small, and the word "we" in the same sentence? Better forget it. WE, the species of that BIG breaktrough of intelligence and planning, the creators of safety and comfort for not so small populations, inventors of Capitalism and Big "who gives a f#k" Money and, inventors of Socialism and the Big "who gives a f#k" Equal Community would not kneel to our well known godess Mother Nature, noo way, instead we'll think BIG, because we CAN. And fail. Too. Again. Who gives a.. whatever.

    This is totally OT but maybe airships covered with flexible thin film solar cells would be a nice new way of transport. Airships certainly have more than enough surface needed for solar cells but of course night time travel would be problematic. Maybe some kind of opposite use of diesel and electric motors than in WWII era submarines. Go fast during daytime with solar cells and go slow with diesel generator during nighttime.

    And now, for a little uniquely American classical music...


    I was knocked out of bed late last night
    I was woken up by the sound of dynamite
    I ran upstairs to find an Army man
    He says "We gotta blow up those things we don't understand"
    -Dead Milkmen, "Big Lizard in my Back Yard"

    Kan, Sarkozy agree to set new int'l nuclear safety rules

    NANJING, China (Kyodo) -- Japan and France agreed Thursday that they will cooperate in crafting new international nuclear safety standards by the end of this year, following the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the devastating March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

    The agreement was reached during talks in Tokyo between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who became the first foreign leader to visit Japan since the twin natural disasters that obliterated northeastern coastal towns.

    The two leaders told a joint news conference after their meeting that nuclear issues will top the agenda at the Group of Eight summit in late May, when leaders also from Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States will gather in the northwestern French resort city of Deauville.

    I predict they will relax the rules while proclaiming otherwise.

    Fukushima plant disaster reveals shortcomings with Japan's nuclear energy

    (Mainichi)The disaster at the nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan has exposed problems with the road the country has followed in developing nuclear power, including overconcentration of reactors in limited areas, dangerous stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel near reactors, and the inability to easily share electricity across eastern and western Japan.

    Of course, the reason that the eastern Japan is 50 Hz and western Japan is 60Hz is that the US assisted with reconstruction in the west, while the UK assisted with reconstruction in the east, after WW II.