Fukushima Open Thread - Tue 3/29

Despite 2 weeks of following this in the news I am still unclear about the implications of this crisis. Some people I respect think it has major global implications while others think it will be confined to local impacts with largely non-harmful radiation. Right now I'm in the former camp, based on the current paucity of resilience in the global economic/trade system. But there are a lot of unknowns.

Here are some of the questions that come to mind:

What is the plan regarding containing the radiation at the Fukushima plant?
Will Japan nationalize TEPCO? What would be implications of that?
Given their debt levels how can Japan pay for business-as-usual rebuilding?
If international governments/IMF support Japan, does this accelerate currency 'discovery'?
As suggested in yesterdays thread, what does this imply for global supply chains?
What will be the psychological impact on the Japanese people?
What would happen if they announce a wider evacuation area - say 50x50 miles?
What does this mean for the future of nuclear? And future energy mix/social trajectories?


This article from NHK English is a little amusing (note the use of sandbags and the term puddles to describe meter deep water):
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 08:03 +0900 (JST)

Here are some of the better statements:

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Monday that TEPCO has to strike a balance between injecting cooling water into the reactors and preventing radioactive water from seeping out.

On Monday, The power company scaled back its operation to cool the No. 2 reactor, injecting 7 tons per hour, reduced from 16. The reactor's temperature rose by more than 20 degrees Celsius.

…The power company detected radiation of more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour on the surface of puddles in the No. 2 reactor's turbine building and in a trench outside the building.

Puddles of water were also found in the trenches of the No.1 and No.3 reactors.

The No.1 reactor's trench will overflow if the water rises by 10 centimeters. TEPCO has blocked the trench outlet with sandbags and concrete… The water in the trenches of the No.2 and No.3 reactors is reportedly 1 meter from overflowing.

I have no special expertise, but the idea of filling vessels with water when those vessels are leaking, and what leaks out is poisonous and keeps moving you back from the area where you need to be to direct water, and the run-off is poisoning everything around you, and, and...

This is a situation that doesn't seem to offer much hope. How long can this go on? Are there any choices left besides doggedly pursuing the drenching of these broken vessels?

I agree. There seem to be 2 branches in the strategy tree and they end up in the same place:

1. They stop pumping coolant and the cores collapse completly.

2. They keep pumping in coolant, which leaks, which makes the area radioactive, which drives people away, which makes it impossible to maintain the coolant flow, which results in the cores collapsing completely.

I thought if they could restart the coolant systems they could cool the cores for the 2 years required to reach dry cask stage and then do a cleanup job. But that is just not possible. Too many leaks. To many cores next to each other.

Nor can they rebuild the secondary containment to capture the dust off the spent fuel should they boil dry and crumble. Too much radiation at those spent fuel pools. Perhaps some kind of multi part structure could be lifted into place and pinned together.

I wonder if the equipment for water purification could be used to filter the leaking fluids. Concentrate the particles. Especially if that could be done somehow in replaceable steel casks below water level. Something like a spent fuel pool, with a filtration system several feet under water. Pumps suck up the leaking water, filter it, and re injected. As the concentration of particles rise, the steel container is removed (under water) and another is moved into place. This continues for years until the cores have cooled enough the material can be removed and placed into dry casks for semi permanent storage.

This is like the gushing oil well nightmare in that whole new techniques need to be invented on the fly. Yet far worse because the window for implementation is much shorter and soon it will be too lethal to take any steps.

Couldn't they move up some sort of pumper barge, with water storage tanks. Insert hose into trench, and siphon it into the tanks. Once the tanks are full, you gotta bring up another one. Figure out what to do with the tanks later on. The alternative is let it leak as directly as possible into the ocean.

Indeed, supposedly two US Navy barges filled with water are there now.

The arrival by barge of 1,890 cubic metres (500,000 USgal) of fresh water was expected within two days (as of 3-25).
Source: http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=59318

Radiation levels are too high for this. Workers exhaust their accident response exposure limits in 15 minutes standing beside this water. Hoses and pumps would be permanently contaminated by operation (and would add to material for disposal), and barges lack shielding for this level of radiation (and would pose a significant exposure risk to anybody on the boat).

Dangerous relative to what – the worst case situation? It should be possible to connect lines prior to flow and then simply stick a pipe into the trenches, pump a little water to fill the lines and then reverse pump flow. Most of the radiation appears to be from beta particles which do not travel far.

Source of Radioactive Water in Trenches

Issues related to multiple posts below: First, distinguish the reactor vessel from primary containment (drywell). The drywell (concrete) surrounds the reactor vessel (steel) and excess pressure from the reactor vessel is first released into the drywall. The drywall is connected to the torus (aka suppression chamber, wet well) by multiple valves that release drywell pressure (steam) into the torus/suppression chamber where the water condenses UNDER NORMAL OPERATION. Primary containment of reactors 1 and 3 appears to be flooded with water (JAIF summaries: http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/ and other sources) while containment vessel of reactor 2 appears to be broke.

TEPCO has been adding water to the reactor cores, which is assumed to be automatically venting to drywell and perhaps into the wetwell (I don’t think the later is occurring). However, they have suspended most containment venting (except for reactor 1 containment yesterday) so the steam/water must escape somewhere i.e. uncontrolled venting (from containment or from the reactor vessel past closed valves into the turbine building).

Explanations on normal and emergency cooling flow are currently problematic but this is the best I have found: http://gramercyimages.com/blog1/tag/mark-i-reactor/

Don’t let the second image fool you, the water near the core is not isolated from the water that exits to the turbine plant as steam under normal usage. In an emergency the pipes to the turbines are supposed to be shut via two redundant valves.

At least two separate inputs to the reactor core have recently been used:
Quote: On 23 March it became possible to inject water into the reactor (1) using the feed water system rather than the fire extinguisher line, raising the flow rate from 2 to 18 m3/h. Source: WIKI Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents (identified TEPCO as original source).

P.S. please correct any mistakes I may have made, I must go to work

To D. Morris - Relative to worker radiation exposure limits.

Areva recently announced they are sending a crew that may be able to handle this clean up job.


Thanks for the links to those graphics ... I wish someone would do something similar to help explain the venting system. I'm familiar with the pathways to the torus (shown in the gramercy images). But what about the vents to the outside environment (or secondary containment structure, as suggested by some). There seems to be considerable uncertainty about this. And since this is one of the main ways radiation has been released to the environment, it seems we should know "something" about this ... beyond that it is taking place.

I think the barges are the best bet (although my information is certainly incomplete). Distance counts as shielding too.

Fill the barges with isotope soup. Put another barge with seawater between the tug and the softly glowing barge, and push it out to sea. The question then is sink the barge (ick) or anchor it out several miles until you find enough ion exchange beads to try to clean up the water, and hope nothing more goes wrong in the mean time.

No good answers to be had. And you will need a lot of barges either way, unless you pump it out once you are far enough from the beach. That's even worse. If you sank the barge intact at least the soup would stay put while the hull rusted out, by which time the short-lived stuff would be gone.

Normal procedure with contaminated water @ a reactor is to filter contamination onsite. Right now there is too much water to process or to take to other reactors. (Other reactors is where the waste goes, too.)

The flow of water is cooling what is left of the cores, the ground is a heat sink and the water is the heat transfer mechanism.

There is little pressure in the cores and the large amounts of water being pumped into the reactors indicates leaking rather than boiling/venting as the cooling dynamic.

Any water that gets into the soil or basements will wind up in the ocean.

The Japanese management has been completely lost from the beginning. The operators cannot even conceive of the scale of effort needed to render these plants safe. (Hint: Chernobyl and the hundreds of thousands of 'Liquidators'.)

The Wall Street Journal's plan diagrams are wrong, so the information they carry is also wrong. A better diagram can be found here, originally from GE.

What the managers must do is fill the reactors and spent fuel pools with reactor poison such as boron w/ sand. They can create working areas by making walls of lead bricks and sheets and inch toward the cores so that concrete pumps can direct the boron onto the fuel. More leaded areas can be built so workers can use grouting pumps to seal cracks and leaks.

Liquid nitrogen can be piped via directional drilling under the reactors to prevent corium from reaching the water table. I don't know why the Japanese aren't doing this right now. It would solve the water leaking into the ocean along with cofferdams built into the turbine hall which is between the cores and the ocean.

They need lead pathways up the stairs onto the service decks so that debris can be cleared from the spent fuel pools and so more boron can be pumped into them along with sand. Sand melts and fuses with the uranium trapping it for a long enough period so that it can be dealt with later. Lead, sand and boron are also cheap: using it won't bankrupt Japan, unlike the onrunning fiasco taking place right now where 50 men and wheelbarrows pretend to 'fix' the (irrelevant) 'pumps' while the hot fuel spews garbage everywhere.

Soon, the site will be too radioactive for the crews to work. I guess that is when the bosses will get serious. Then again, maybe not ...

The cores have likely already melted down so 'saving the cores' is a farce.

What the plan should be is to get to the point that the reactors and pools are stably evaporation cooled, with close enough calibration that water doesn't much leak out. Once it's closed-loop controllable, this isn't a bad solution except for radioactive steam -- funny how that suddenly seems like a "good" option! Goal: two weeks

Then, find a way to do closed loop circulation through a cooling tower or sea-water condenser, and move from evaporative cooling to recirculating heat exchanger cooling. Goal: One reactor or pool every two weeks for a few months. Done in 90 days.

Then rig construction cranes to disassemble the super structures and gain access to the spent fuel pools, and move the rods to a new pool (or maybe the shared pool, if it's big enough), to separate the issues between intact rods and melted ones, and then scoop up the sludge into some sort of intermediate storage (also probably needs cooling). Goal: One reactor every six months. Maybe start with the undamaged building first, and do it in a couple of months and learn a lot.

Then rebuild the cap cranes, and start popping the tops of the reactors -- by then a few years will have passed -- and see what you have to deal with. Again, start with the undamaged building.

Once you figure out the reactor contents and how to deal with that, then plan in 20 or 50 years to deconstruct the shells and dispose of those.

What would it take, (or What do we already have?) to make a standard tower-based construction crane remotely controlled, so that that catbird seat wouldn't have a person with a dosimeter as a time-bottleneck for work progressing? How many crewpeople have to be in place to run those constr. cranes in regular use?

I also wonder what kind of decay the cabling that gets the closest to the Hot stuff would be subjected to, but it seems you could easily minimize that by using a sacrificial extension, and keeping the Hook/Pully point at a reasonably safer distance.. perhaps shielded if necessary.

They used to have a hot cell at the Idaho national lab that had remote cranes. These were 50 years old so its old technology. The controls looked like the remote heads they use on remote operated railroad locomotives. The Idaho national lab also has some remote operated excavators and a telehandlers. Although they never were brave enough to use the remote feature. It is possible to use them. They were using them to dig transuranic waste. The had high contamination levels but the rad fields are pretty low.They are set up with air bottles for the operator to use.

Would the steam be radioactive? Wouldn't it be (crossing fingers) distilled?

The steam will contain H2O plus various elements and compounds that have a high vapor pressure at these temperatures. Iodine, in particular, is highly volatile.

The solution is very simple and it has been suggested many times:
Fill the reactor with tin

Then let the reactor cool off passively over time by transferring the heat to its outer walls and to the air outside - a simple calculation shows that at 9MW thermal the outer walls will be transferring ~50 kW/sq.m. This can be safely handled by natural external air flow, for example a household electric oven can transfer as high as 100kW/sq.m. and hardly overheat
- Unlike water, tin does not evaporate (not prior ~2600C - at which temperature everything would have melted anyway) and will not release the radionuclides from the damaged fuel it contains
- if there are cracks in the corpus tin will not leak and evaporate, but rather fill up the voids and freeze, thus sealing them up (or worst case - freeze on the floor)
- tin does not dissolve in explosive mixture of hydrogen and oxygen
- In Chernobyl, they used lead to isolate the fallout and do the same job; tin has the same properties as lead but is non toxic
- In the first months external fans may be installed to help cool reactor walls

Now there maybe some engineering challenges associated with that, but this is the only thing they can do to fix a leaking reactor IMO.

On another point: reducing the amount of water pumped strikes me as exactly the wrong thing to do. If you reduce the amount of water you raise the coolant temperature and thus increase the pressure inside the vessel - which naturally should increase the amount of leaking instead of decreasing it.

You are making a lot of assumptions that the fuel/debris can not be retrieved. This would be a very bad place to leave this leaking reactor debris.

You can build fixtures which fit over the reactor, which is surround by water for shielding, and pull parts and pieces up into the fixture. You then transfer it to shipping cask. Then you take it and reprocess it.

Your's is the most coherent and complete plan I have seen so far ... Kudos ...

Use some sort of gelling agent in the water, something to increase its viscosity, perhaps that and borax as well, that will chelate any particles - then you've got lots of highly radioactive goo which can be pumped to a containment area to cool off...

There is a very standard method used for cleaning radioactive water; the use of ion exchange resins. It's proven, highly effective technology that has been used in many radioactive waste cleanup projects that I am sure will be in use for many years at Dai-Ichi.

Zeolites, clays, synthetic resins, etc have all been used for this.

Works great.

It sounds like they need to be putting in a big order for water storage tanks to a nearby fabrication company, pronto! Otherwise, they'd better get ready to either have a major radiation pollution event in the ocean, or a major radiation pollution event on the shore. Let's hope they can pump the water out of the buildings and tunnels as fast as they can safely pump it into the reactors.

Or they could just order up one of these!


Evaporation of 7 tons of water per hour requires 4.4 MW thermal. They can't pump slower, 7 tons per hour will simply completely boil over and evaporate. ( 7,000,000 grams * 537 cal/g * 4.19 cal/Joule / 3600 sec = 4375000 W = 4.4 MW)

That's around 1500 gallons/hr, right? About 20 bathtubs worth? Doesn't seem like an insurmountable amount...?

The energy to evaporate water is 2.5 MJ/kg, to make it one degree warmer takes 4190 J/kg.
7.000 kilos from 20 to 100 degrees is 2.346,4MJ and evaporation 16.500 MJ total 19846,4 MJ

The energy to heat water from 20 to 100: 7000 kg * 4.19 kJ/kg * 80 = 2346.4 MJ = 0.65 MW*h
The energy to evaporate water: 7000 kg * 2257 kJ/kg = 15799 MJ = 4.39 MW*h

5 MW*h to evaporate 7000 kg of water. It seems they estimate the thermal power of the reactor to be 5 MW.

TEPCO announced they reduced the rate to reactor 2 from their previous 16 tonnes per hour to 7 because too much water was leaking. Temperature began to rise at that point.

According to the MIT data for this type of BWR reactor core posted in previous thread the thermal output of reactors 2 and 3 should still be about 9MW.

16 tonnes per hour

That's not a lot of water - 70 gpm for the 16 tonnes/hr, and now it's only about 30 gpm. A good sump pump from the hardware store puts out that much. I agree with a previous poster - they need to put up some temporary water storage tanks ASAP and pump the water out from the trenches.

Actually, if they put up some double-walled tanks or tanks-in-tanks and filled the annular space with water, they would get some shielding. Once the trenches had been drained, they could even circulate the water from the annular space through a heat exchanger to cool the overall tank and the radioactive water enough to send it back to the reactors as cooling water if they were running out of storage.

They could use cargo containers with bladder tanks inside. They could also add containers around them for shielding. The thing is they can move them later.

Could supercritical CO2 be used instead? How many more would that watts could that remove? Greater air despersion of radiation risk?

You come up with the craziest ideas, your handle is appropriate. Supercritical CO2 is only liquid at very high pressures (7 atmospheres): how are you going to maintain that high pressure in an obviously leaky system? If it can't hold water, it sure ain't gonna hold supercritical CO2.

There's an old medical school adage regarding diagnoses: "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras". There ought to be an engineering school equivalent. Focus on practical solutions involving pumps, water, trucks, dirt and concrete, rather than niobium, liquid helium, and free-electron lasers.

sponge bob square pants.

The Idaho national lab had an incinerator that processed dry waste. They had some liquid waste to process. They added a corn cob absorbent then burned the corn cobs in their rad waste incinerator.

This water seems to hot for this though.

F is for Flood that flows through the town
U is for Uranium....leaking.
N is for No survivors

When you're having FUN.

Apologies to sponge bob.

Regarding obviously crazy ideas, I bet at least a few people will waste time tracking down these leads and find out they go nowhere. TinHatFoil is not doing anyone any favors by asking these questions, and he cops out by not doing the grunt work himself.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Monday that TEPCO has to strike a balance between injecting cooling water into the reactors and preventing radioactive water from seeping out.

Really? What does that mean?

To me it means that either outcome:

(A) allowing the reactors (or do they mean used fuel pools?)to get so hot that something really bad (like, what?) happens,


(B) allowing large quantities of radioactive material (how much of which isotopes?)to enter the ocean

is about as bad as the other.

Otherwise they would already have decided to either:

(A) walk away and let it do what it will (burn, baby, burn?),


(B) forget about balancing this against that and just commit to doing everything they can to set up long-term cooling capability, and let the radioactive material wash into the ocean.

I suppose the decision has already been made, and the public statements comprise the spin filter used to try to minimize political damage.

Currently the decision is clearly to minimize the water flow and thus minimize amount of radioactive material leaking, but providing bare minimum cooling (see calculation above).

That sounds correct. But what else? Do they think they can do this for months/years until things cool? Won't the density of radiation ultimately cancel this activity?

Do they have a choice?

What, they're going to hose these things down for two years while trying to deal with the runoff and rising radiation? If that scenario plays out you couldn't get financing to build a nuclear cigarette lighter!

I read they are barging in fresh water so as not to end up trying to cool down a bunch of salt blocks. They will do that for a couple of years? This isn't going to end well.

Do they have a choice?

It seems Chernobyl could be covered with sand/lead/concrete, because the reactor melted, part of it blew up and there was less residual heat. Here there is more and sand would glass and concrete would crack (as it actually did in Chernobyl)

Broken piping and/or vessel rupture has poured highly radioactive water into the turbine hall basements. This is infinitely worse than previous. I think it's an urgent priority to make a seawall (sunken barges loaded with cement, infill with rock, scrap metal, debris from tsunami damage) and close/shut down the underground heat discharge loop.

Blow the roof off #2, air drop boron and shredded tin, repeat.

Destroy turbine halls and build 20-ft dike from concrete rubble of nearby outbuildings. Start serious water flooding of reactor buildings immediately to cool everything down. Add boron and shredded tin to absorb neutrons. Water will pour into contained seawall, evaporate. Add concrete, cement, sand. Cover the cold reactors first. Then the demolished turbine halls. Then the trapped lagoon.

I wish I thought this was outlandish and totally over the top. But I don't.

Since Plan A was "Don't Worry" and Plan B is "Conduct Keystone Kops Fire Drill" -- and since two weeks of that brilliant work leave us on the brink of losing the whole shooting match -- I sincerely hope that someone is considering something like this, seriously.

TEPCO must go and disaster management grownups must take charge, ASAP.

(Edit for missing punctuation.)

Since the west side of the reactor buildings is up hill, there is no need to build a dike there.

Flooding the reactors with large flows of water to cool everything off will not help because heat is continuously generated from decaying radio-isotopes. Applying a certain amount of water at a certain flow rate to remove the appropriate amount of heat is the best they can do.

Injecting boron and tin will not stop the existing radio-isotopes from decaying and releasing heat. I am not sure how effective they would be at stopping fission in a damaged reactor core.

I do not think TEPCO has the ability to pump water into the reactors faster than it turns to steam using the pumps in the fire trucks. The steam then leaks out and condenses flooding the reactor buildings.

Learn the lesson from Chernobyl: it is a bad idea to bury a core until it has cooled off enough to be buried. The reactor cores would turn to corium and possibly melt their way through their foundations into the shallow water table beneath creating a steam explosion blowing the dirt/sand off and directly exposing the corium to atmosphere. Very bad idea.

TEPCO's idea to pump the water out of the basements into a tank and then recirculate it through the reactors is a better idea.

Eventually Japan might build a concrete sarcophagus to enclose all 4 reactor buildings, but that's not working so well in Chernobyl after a mere 25 years.

"TEPCO's idea to pump the water out of the basements into a tank and then recirculate it through the reactors is a better idea."

This seems to me to be not so good an idea. The recirculated water will be warmed by thermal contact with whatever it is cooling. Eventually the water in the 'puddles' will start to boil. Again, I think this is not so good an idea.

OTOH, there must exist on site heat exchangers that were used to condense the steam exiting the low pressure end of the steam turbines. These heat exchangers used sea water cooling. They must be very large because they were designed to transfer 70% of the thermal power of the nuclear reactors into the ocean. They must be brought back into operation, or replaced with new, functioning replacements, because the heat must be removed from the disaster site. The ray of hope in this comment is that this suggestion involves doing something, steam to seawater heat exchangers, which they surely already know how to do. And maybe, hope maybe, already have a major portion of the required equipment on site.

Alternative heat removal idea is to direct the water into evaporation ponds and reject the heat into the atmosphere. (Only two choices, either ocean or atmosphere, no third option exists in real world) But the ponds don't currently exist, and there does not appear to be enough level space to construct ponds of sufficient size.

Alternative to vast cooling ponds, but less practical, Build terraced rice-paddy ponds on the sides of nearby hills. Maybe can be done. The construction workers can be sufficiently far away from the damaged reactors that they will live long enough make some progress on the retaining walls before having to be replaced.

Or perhaps, they build, really really quickly, hyperbolic cooling towers of the type used at nuclear power plants that are not located close to an ocean or a river. Again, really really quickly.

To conclude this little discussion. I think the water that is being sprayed onto the reactor buildings and is accumulating in various basement areas will be allowed to flow back into the ocean form whence it came. It will mix with ocean water and be diluted to a point which will allow continued existence of Life on Earth. And it will allow continued existence of some humans, enough humans to support a really long battle of recrimination about whose fault it was to allow this to happen.

The heat exchangers are inside the turbine building, along with the controls and everything else. They can't work in there because of the radiated water, but they've got to get the radiated water out before they can do anything else. It's a Catch-22 situation; they have to keep pumping water to cool the reactors, but the water is leaking into places they need to operate so they can clean up the water. If they stop pumping all hell breaks loose.

I doubt any nuclear plant has ever been tested for this kind of disaster scenario.

"It's a Catch-22 situation"

You can say that again!

"I doubt any nuclear plant has ever been tested for this kind of disaster scenario"

This and variations of it seem to be the predominant theme of our time:

No one could have predicted a major hurricane in the GOM.

No one could have predicted that a bunch of drunken trillionaire gamblers would take down the whole global economy.

No one could predict that drilling oil a mile beneath the ocean could pose any regional risks........

To paraphrase W. Churchill, we are now living in the age of consequences of our (and our leaders') failures to imagine very imaginable risks.

Yes, this is so true. Tokyo (where I have spent many hours and days) is just a feast of electricity (or it was, rather). There was no thought about it, no questioning. More? Sure, have more. Load up more fuel rods I guess is what they did. NO matter how old the plant, no matter how unsafely...we need more!!!

The deepwater drilling too...no questioning, no admitting that there are limits to what can and should be tried.

Of course the financial crisis is another good example.

Hitting the limits seems to be a broad theme.

no questioning, no admitting that there are limits to what can and should be tried

Obama to set ambitious goal to curb U.S. oil imports

The plan itself sounds like it is going to be an exercise in BAU maintaining futility:

Democrat Obama will lay out four areas to help reach his target of curbing U.S. dependence on foreign oil -- lifting domestic energy production, encouraging the use of more natural gas in vehicles like city buses, making cars and trucks more efficient, and encouraging biofuels.

But read some of the comments and weep!

Really all you need is access to the hot reactor water -- they already can inject more, it seems, so that part of recirculation should be possible. If you have access to the heated coolant, then you have options. You can drop a pump in it and push it through a fairly large liquid-to-air exchanger. You can dump it into a large evaporative-cooling pool. You can put it through a liquid-to-liquid exchanger with single-pass seawater cooling for the other side. Or some combination of all of the above.

Once it's cooled -- by whichever mechanism -- you could then re-inject the isotope-laden water.

It would be even better if you could keep the contaminated water inside the pressure vessel, and cool it in-situ via boiler tubes with isolation from the contaminated water. I assume these do not exist, which is funny, because a solar hot water heater tank for my house is required to have two barriers between the anti-freeze for the solar loop and the house piping output, while the reactor design apparently has only one boundary (the zirconium fuel rod shell) between the nuclear fuel and the pipes going outside of the reactor vessel (and a second one between that and cooling seawater). If the designers had simply included exchanger tubes in the pressure vessel good for 20MW of single-pass water cooling via an external standpipe, none of this would be happening.

Note that cooling of unmelted rods via evaporation (even if boiling) should not emit much radiation, so freshwater filling of unmelted spent fuel pools or any undamaged reactor cores should be much less hazardous than those with damaged rods. It would be very useful to know if there are ANY for which rods are still fully intact.

"TEPCO's idea to pump the water out of the basements into a tank and then recirculate it through the reactors is a better idea."

And even better if it is a double walled tank and you do the liquid-to-liquid heat exchange in the annular space.

A simple heat exchanger is a long hose either laying on the ground or running out into the ocean. At the rate they are pumping water a 2 inch diameter hose for each turbine building basement should be plenty. Attach filters to keep debris out of the water, pump the basement water through a long hose and into a tank on a barge. Some of the water being pumped into the reactors is being lost as steam because the cooling system has leaks. Therefore the basement contains less water than was pumped into the reactor. Attach a hose from the tank to the reactor cooling system, reduce the flow of fresh water and pump in the recycled water along with fresh water. Keep people away from the hose and tank because they are radioactive.

A coil of hose in the ocean would work fine, as would a metal barge with lots of ocean surface area contact. Pump it full, then pump it empty again, and ping-pong between two. Every once in a while add a new boat because a lot of water goes up as steam.

Access to the hot water must be the hard part, else sure something like this would be underway already?

"It will mix with ocean water and be diluted to a point which will allow continued existence of Life on Earth. And it will allow continued existence of some humans, enough humans to support a really long battle of recrimination about whose fault it was to allow this to happen."

Best funny of the day.

They will not be able to replace the heat exchangers that fast. You don't find them in Walmart. They are custom built to order. you should be able to repair the existing ones, once you get to them under the debris, pop the manways, and water lance them to blow out the mud. By that time would should have the new motors for the pumps. That assumes the tsunami left them in the same place and failed to rip the seachests off.

Certainly continue "injecting" deionized into the reactor, get water up over the fuel assemblies if you can (that's a big if). But please please close up that breakwater and make a lagoon. Poisoning the shore is no solution at all. Look at the currents.

Flooding the reactor buildings won't help. The reactor cores are inside steel pressure vessels inside the buildings. Flooding the buildings, even if that were possible, won't get water inside the pressure vessels so it can remove heat from the reactor fuel rods. And if the rods are not covered with continuously cooled (or continuously replaced, if open-loop) water, they will melt and burn. Melting and pooling of fuel elements could lead to renewed criticality (nuclear fission), which would generate additional heat, perhaps melting through the pressure vessels (the famed "China Syndrome").

Neutron absorbers aren't effective either. The reactors shut down when the earthquake happened, meaning that neutron-absorbing control rods were inserted into the cores to stop the neutron-driven chain reaction that occurs when the reactors are in operation. And crews have already introduced boron-containing water. What they're fighting is residual decay heat - not heat driven by neutrons fissioning nuclei, but heat from radioactive materials created during normal operation that are fissioning on their own and liberating heat without needing external neutrons. Neutron absorbers don't shut off residual decay processes.

If these pressure vessels were to be opened, the remaining water would immediately flash to steam and vanish. Fuel elements would rapidly (we're talking minutes, not hours) heat to the point where zirconium combusion would start. This would expose the uranium (or in the case of one of the distressed reactors, the mixed uranium and plutonium) fuel and would disperse a lot this radioactive material into the air. The remainder would be available for a meltdown scenario.

I don't think there's a fix that doesn't involve keeping the reactor cores and the adjacent spent fuel elements immersed in water. And if the suspicions of compromised structural integrity in at least one reactor pressure vessel are correct, it won't be possible to keep the core submerged and cooled. The likely outcomes are becoming more and more ugly with time.

If the flooded water level is maintained above the height of the reactor, won't the current leak pathways in the closed loop cooling system (or rumored cracks in the reactor, or that donut thing [lol]) ensure that the core of the reactor remained covered with water...?

and if you went to that plan...wouldn't you just briefly stop water flow, let things drain down, then break open whatever fittings were accessable, then run like hell and flood that puppy...

I believe you are generally correct but they can continue to run water into the core without containment. The mystery has been where is the water going thereafter, whether it leaves as water or as steam. We now know a large part of what was not lost to the atmosphere is in those trenches, which appear to be quite large: Size of trench passages

from Reuters:

engineers are literally working in the dark. Lights have only recently gone on in the control room, but electrically powered monitors and gauges -- workers' eyes and ears inside the reactor -- are still off. Radiation readings outside the reactors are still taken via a moving car, because the monitoring posts are not powered. Temperature and pressure readings from backup systems are all that workers have to "see" what is going on in the reactors.

Workers remain hampered by broken pipes, debris, flooded equipment and a scarcity of replacement pumps and water tanks. Work has also been interrupted by hosing operations to lower rising temperatures in the reactor cores and spent fuel pools, as well as by an occasional fire and radiation injuries.

Because of the high levels of radiation in the water, experts suspect damage to the containment structures around the No.2 reactor core. They said it may take as long as a few months to bring that reactor to a cold shutdown.


The main risk comes from the radiation that will continue to seep, or burst, out each time a pipe leaks or rising pressure forces workers to vent steam. Leaking water from within the nuclear pressure vessels could find their way into the soil and the ocean, while spikes in radiation could contaminate crops over a wide area.

The risk that the spent fuel pools could reach recriticality seems remote, as long as there are workers and firefighters willing to douse the reactors with water each time temperatures start to rise. [emphasis mine]

The same could be said of a small, hypothetical risk of a corium steam explosion, particularly in the No.1 reactor, which is the plant's oldest and which is believed to have a weak spot. If workers are unable to continue hosing operations, and if the nuclear fuel manages to melt through the bottom of the reactor and fall into a water pool below, this would result in a high temperature burst and a sudden release of a huge amount of hydrogen that could, in an unlikely "perfect storm" scenario, breach the containment vessel.

Lights have only recently gone on in the control room, but electrically powered monitors and gauges -- workers' eyes and ears inside the reactor -- are still off. Radiation readings outside the reactors are still taken via a moving car, because the monitoring posts are not powered. Temperature and pressure readings from backup systems are all that workers have to "see" what is going on in the reactors.

How Much Does Japan Know About the Status of its Reactors?

A - Computer monitors are blank.

B - Clock out of service.

C - Annunciators seem to be de-energized: no alarms reported despite many plant parameters off-normal.

D - Equipment status indicator lights not available.

E - Instrument gauges all downscale (not reading parameter values).

Still despite all the instrumentation being dead, TEPCO workers seem to be staring at it.

Sadly, a broken digital clock isn't right even once a day..

Is there really a risk of the corium (after melting through pressure vessel) coming into contact with the water in the suppression pool? This just sounds like a really idiotic design when you look at it. I always thought the risk of a steam explosion was from contact of corium with moisture in the ground (after all core containment efforts had failed)? You (or Reuters) are telling me there's enough water inside the primary containment structure, and located close enough to a pressure vessel containment breach, to actually make a steam explosion a high probability event. Are GE engineers really this stupid!!

The secondary containment structures can be flooded to help cool the reactor or to try and cool off any melting material after it penetrates the steel vessel. I'd guess the steam would be vented into the torus or into the outer building, but on Reactor 2 both of those are damaged. Not having water there means it sits on the concrete floor and starts eating its way downward even faster, though.

dump in EDTA or some other chelating agent to trap iodine and whatever other particles are present and maybe a gelling agent to increase viscosity, reduce vapor coming off...

Do you really think they did a good job at Chernobyl?


The oceans have already absorbed a lot of nuclear dumping:



"Between 1964 and 1986, some 7,000 tons of
solid radioactive waste and 1,600 cubic meters of liquid waste was
pitched into the Kara and Barents Seas from the base in Murmasnk
which serviced the Soviet fleet of nuclear powered naval and
merchant ships. Likewise, nuclear reactors from at least 18
nuclear submarines and icebreakers were dumped in the Barents sea,
and an entire nuclear sub was deliberately sunk after an accident
in May 1968. Another nuclear submarine, the Komsomolets, sank 300
miles of Norway with the loss of 42 sailors. It went down with two
nuclear warheads. Finally, the Russians were dumping unprossed
nuclear waste into The Sea of Japan. As late as October 1993, the
Russians confirmed that one of their ships discharged 900 tons of
radioactive water from scrapped nuclear submarines."



I can't say that makes me feel any better, but the leaking radioactive water seems less of a worry.

I guess.

The ocean has been the ultimate sink for man's nuclear waste from the beginning. Not only have there been many reactors dumped into the ocean over the years, but of course most of the fallout from the nuclear test era fell into the ocean, and the runoff from land inevitably carries fallout to the ocean.

But wait there is more - the oceans are the repositories of leachates of natural deposits of radioactives into solution.

And of course finally there is the continuous bombardment of the earth's surface by cosmic radiation, which produces various nucleotides, most of which inhabit the oceans.

No offense :-) Specific kinds of atoms are called nuclides - just like pieces of DNA are called nucleotides. We all know what you mean, obviously.

The "toxic pools" article suggests that the contaminated water might be run back into the plant as coolant. This seems to make sense--how would it work?

Now that I think about it, that's the only real way out of the catch-22. Catch-33, to be precise:
* Can't stop cooling or the reactors will be damaged and start leaking worse.
* Can't keep cooling or the reactors' leaks will spill into the ocean.
* Can't fix the leaks because the leaks are too lethal to get close to.

Run a length of fire hose through the wreckage, from the cisterns in the basement to the spent fuel pool and the reactor core. Connect to a very reliable electric pump. Turn on pump and never ever come back: the water's only going to get more radioactive as it recycles through the damaged fuel rods.

You need to drop a few MW of refrigeration in the basement too. That should be possible, but it might take a while to manufacture the evaporator. That pool is nastily corrosive and I doubt you will find a heat exchanger that you can drop into it available off the shelf.

I think the main problem would be corrosion of the injection pipepwork. At the moment they are pushing fresh water in there, but if they switched to reinjecting radioactive oxygenated brine, I think it might not take long before that pipework fell apart and they lost the ability to inject anything.

If this were going to be the approach, you'd have to treat all plumbing and these evaporators or condensers as sacrificial, and build it as two or three parallel systems, replacing a worn-out one when another is on line.

They could gradually introduce fresh water--recycling the radioactive water indefinitely seems too good to be true--but recycling it for the short-term would give them a little time to figure out something else.

With all these open pools of water and fire hose plumbing running around, you shouldn't need a secondary cooling system, you should be able to disperse the heat via air circulation through the building and evaporation of exposed water surfaces. 5 MW is roughly the heat output of the furnace in a large office building.

I understand the desperation, but at those levels (and rising, no doubt..) the hoses wouldn't last and the pumps wouldn't last. Can someone convince me they'd go more than a couple weeks? Maybe a couple months?

There is NO, 'Walk away and don't come back'

This is the bed WE made, and we must sleep in it- as it burns.

By "walk away and don't come back", I don't mean ignore the problem, I mean don't stand right next to the pump and hose or it will kill you.

the hoses wouldn't last and the pumps wouldn't last. Can someone convince me they'd go more than a couple weeks? Maybe a couple months?

Might be okay for the short term at least. I'm guessing that rubber seals and linings in the pumps and hoses will be most sensitive to radiation damage. I found this article which talks about radiation damage to tire rubber: exposures of 1-10 megareps (roentgen-equivalent-physical) start to seriously damage the rubber. Assuming reps and rems are similar, this would be roughly 10,000-100,000 Sieverts.

If the water's irradiating its surroundings at 1 Sv/hour, the rubber should last 1-10 years. Big caveats of course: different kind of radiation, different dose rate, lots of different materials, but it's the best I can do.

Fair enough, but your initial statement sure did come across that way..

"Turn on pump and never ever come back: .."

.. anyway, not trying to totally dump on you.. we're all spitballing, maybe we'll give somebody in the right place a fresh angle to look at it from .. ?

Turn on pump and never ever come back: the water's only going to get more radioactive as it recycles through the damaged fuel rods.

IIRC, it's not the water that becomes radioactive - it's all the debris and solids in the water that absorb the radioactive particles.

And dissolved molecules and ions in the water too, yes I know. But all that stuff is flowing through the pumps and hoses, in increasing quantities, and it will ruin your day.

The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has no impact beyond the local area. It consumes resources that might be used elsewhere and it keeps the power plant off-line, but the effects are limited.

The tsunami disaster has global implications. Flow sensors for automobiles and adhesives for IC packaging are manufactured in the region in a very concentrated way, and a high percentage of their production has not been restarted. Partly this is due to power shortages, but the shortages result from several fossil fuel and nuclear plants besides Daiichi being out.

There are further disruptions looming in IC manufacture due to about 20% of 300 mm silicon wafer production being out. Renesas has not restarted MicroController Unit production in affected plants and this puts several Japanese and global automakers at risk. There is also a plant that produces an aluminum oxide flake pigment used in metallic auto paints that is within 30 km of Daiichi, but auto makers could probably reformulate their colors if it can not be restarted.

The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has no impact beyond the local area.

That's likely to be too glibly dismissive.

I suppose it depends upon one's definitions of "impact" and "local."

Is Tokyo local?

Is the end of the nuclear era in Germany an impact?

I worry about Japan's economy (if?) once the wind starts blowing the radioactive crap inland--and I mean for more than a couple days. If they start picking up 50%-70% of Chernobyl emissions for a few days over Tokyo, I don't think even the "stoic" Japanese will stick around. If the crisis gets to the point that Japanese are leaving Tokyo, you could start to see *soft* trade embargos...where everything Japan tries to sell abroad will be refused or avoided by consumers afraid of contamination (irrational or not). Maybe the strongest brands can still sell product but even their margins will take a hit.

Recovery from the natural disaster shouldn't be a problem as long as the economy can function normally...but if trading partners feel they can trust the Japanese government. So far w.r.t. Fukushima the government has not projected a very open/forthcoming image (in fact it hasn't even shown that it "knows" what is happening yet).

Should Japan nationalize TEPCO? It should have done so a week ago when building 4 blew-up.

I mean by then it was clear TEPCO couldn't handle the situation. Like Obama with BP, the Japanese government wants to have someone to blame/shame for what goes wrong, but with Fukushima (like Macondo & the gulf) it is the people that live in Japan that will suffer. Of course Japan government knows it can't handle the situation, but upon nationalizing TEPCO it could have turned over authority to a) IAEA, or b) the Japanese military or c) some council of nuclear "experts"/industry heavyweights. No option is good and no-one would necessarily know what to do either but at least Japan would not be at the center of the ameteur Kubuki dance that TEPCO is currently performing.

Glow-in-the-dark paint?

The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has no impact beyond the local area.

Do you have actual proof to back this statement up?

The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has no impact beyond the local area. It consumes resources that might be used elsewhere and it keeps the power plant off-line, but the effects are limited.

The tsunami disaster has global implications. Flow sensors for automobiles and adhesives for IC packaging are manufactured in the region in a very concentrated way, and a high percentage of their production has not been restarted.

Nice try, but wrong.
I think some of those Automobile & parts factories are inside the exclusion zone. Note the Tsunami damage is coastal only, whilst the exclusion zone is circular, so goes a LONG way inland.

So correcting for that oversight, we can say :

"The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has global implications"

The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has no impact beyond the local area

@Merrill. I don't think it really helps to be overly optimistic at this stage in the crisis. IAEA recorded cesium levels at twice the levels found in Chernobyl exclusion zone 40 km from power plants near Litate. Readings are 3.7 million becquerels per square meter. Full body counts are around 42 microseiverts at the site. Iodine-131 contamination in ocean appears to be rising 25% daily, and is now at 4,385 the statutory limit. Even the Prime Minister stated: "Situation does not warrant optimism."

As I said before, I think it's pretty unlikely they will get conventional cooling restored to three severely damaged power plants. I think the best we can hope for is the status quo for the coming weeks and months. If the wind had been blowing fission products over land for much of this period, I have not doubt we would have several thousand workers at the site, growing alarm and involvement from the international community, and much of NW Japan under a hard evacuation order (and strict bans on food and water). Luckily, the wind has been working in our favor. The feed and bleed will likely be successful in cooling the cores to some extent, resin will prevent some of the radiation from blowing around, and they are going to have to find a way to stop the flow of radioactive water to the ocean. Otherwise, the next steps of this crisis moves to the phase of liquidation.

As suggested in yesterdays thread, what does this imply for global supply chains?

Growing evidence indicates that the effects will be fairly widespread and long-lasting. The EE Times piece linked earlier is illustrative.


I wonder if this catastrophe might be sufficiently disruptive and costly that the assumptions underlying our globalized, consolidated, hyper-specialized, JIT models of "efficiency" might be revisited.

The supply disruptions could lead to a change to:
- multiple-source supply arrangements instead of sole-supplier arrangements,
- an insistance on geographic diversity of suppliers,
- more inventory in pipelines, and
- a trend back to vertical integration of industries.

If so, it likely would be the largest economic effect of the tsunami.

The supply disruptions could lead to a change to:
- multiple-source supply arrangements instead of sole-supplier arrangements,
- an insistance on geographic diversity of suppliers,
- more inventory in pipelines, and
- a trend back to vertical integration of industries.

Exactly. These are the things I would expect over time due to energy depletion/credit overshoot - but the tsunami/nuclear situation might accelerate them. Such a system that depends more on local and regional inputs will cost more, but be more resilient. I.e. there is a chance that some positive trajectories arise from this situation, though I expect we'll get 'everything would be OK if not for the earthquake -we're not going to change direction based on a black swan' type responses..

Spot on.

I'm not sure how thoroughly the BAU tendency will prevail, though. Japan itself is a big piece of the globalism puzzle and there are already some indications of an awakening, there, to new realities.

We'll see, but they've had the mother of all wakeup calls.

There will be major impediments to increasing local content and vertical integration, not the least being a generation of managers who simply don't know beans about manufacturing and inventory - other than that it is something to get rid of to reduce costs. Next, it takes a lot longer to build up the industrial and manufacturing capability to product parts locally than it does to shut it down. Capable groups that know what they are doing are disbursed, and you don't just replace them by wanting to. Lastly, it will take a lot of capital investment, just like everything else we wish we had done (or not destroyed and now want to fix), and so will suffer the consequences of being too far behind the curve.

This is no different than saying we'd like to return to the manufacturing system we had in decades past, or the rail system we used to have. Yes, we'd be a lot better off if we hadn't destroyed it, but now we're into that territory that Hirsch described so well. And besides, even if we still had the industrial capability of the heyday of industrial manufacturing, we'd still be running into the the little problem of peak oil.

So in the end this comes down to a discussion of better ways to continue BAU and run an industrial manufacturing based society, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant. I've worked for some 25 years at a company that designs and manufactures electronic equipment at a single facility, and we've tried very hard to preserve local content and vertical integration - we've got our own machine shop, we make our own fixtures and tooling, etc. But our circuit boards and electronic components come from abroad, and it's likely we'll suffer supply shortages from this event. What I'm trying to convey is that we've worked hard to do exactly what is suggested here, and it has given us some advantages but it will not be enough. Whether this event is the one that does us in or not I know this gig will not last.

This is how it will be as we descend. Unforeseen problems create surprising effects with the end result being the same. Instead of gasoline shortages this year, we get auto shortages, starting with the newest cars with the most chips. Cuba prizes its oldest cars, as you can fix them without the needs for chips from the supply chain. That fancy new $50K SUV spinning break-up slush into my windshield today may stop running chip by chip, if the $150 fill-up doesn't get to the owner first.

I no longer buy anything with an electric plug if I can avoid it. My 13 year old car still has too many chips for my taste. The most complex things with the most emergy will be the first to go. Did anyone notice the paucity of internet information recently from bloggers in Japan?

As populations shift and migrate during descent, how does the pressure affect the electrical grid, and how long can it hold out?

edit to add: We've been lead down the garden path by technology to the point where fundamental, mundane parts of the system require overly-complex, high emergy parts and pieces as part of a sophisticated global supply chain, all supported by layers and layers and layers of fossil fuel amplification. Chip by chip, things will stop working.

I wonder whether the military are having a cow right now. They have been lead down the same said garden path into incorporating massive amounts of the same said overly-complex technology into all of their tools. I wonder if a lot of their equipment would just stop working if used in battling this blaze, revealing their inadequacies.

It was interesting to note that the US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan was ordered to immediately leave the area of airborne contamination offshore just after the first Fukushima reactor explosions. Later there were photos published showing the crew scrubbing the flight deck with brooms and detergent, plus technicians checking air intakes and ductwork for radiation. Aside from the obvious crew health issues, the problem seemed to be that the ship's internal radiation detection systems, designed to warn of leakage from the onboard nuclear power plant, could be confused by external radiation sources.

What would have happened if the Reagan had been involved in a military operation that involved fallout from nuclear weapons? Wouldn't these types of conditions be considered within the 'normal' design parameters of a modern warship?

Different operational standards or procedures might well apply in combat, but is this not reminiscent of a certain nuclear power station that had its backup generators located in a flood zone?

If the Reagan had been involved in a military operation that involved fallout from nuclear weapons, it is unlikely that they would be worried about whether the ship's internal radiation detection systems would be confused as to whether the radiation was coming from the ship's reactor or from other sources.

The Reagan was built to be risked at war, not in a humanitarian exercise. What excuse could a captain have for putting his ship at risk of radiation damage, even at non-hazardous levels?

I would imagine that preserving his ship, crew, and reputation was far more important than lingering about doing not much at all.

just because you see them cleaning the deck does not mean it was contaminated. Drill drill drill. Got lots of people...clean the ship. Just in case we need to.

A clean deck is a happy crew, you do NOT want 5000 bored sailors under your command. The level of mischeif that could result is frightening.

I'll suggest that the EU passes laws/guidelines for the electronics, and transportation, industry, that are require for "national safety & security" considerations
and prioritize the location of supply chain manufacturers (for them) in stable political and geological locations. Appropriately codified this sidesteps WTO
agreements and brings back manufacturing/jobs to Europe.

Gaming the WTO will continue on this and other new fronts. As few could imagine the Berlin Wall falling, the WTO will eventually fall as well.

I would like to add on this: there is an auto site I go to often, The Truth About Cars (ttac.com). Since the disaster, it has had articles, often multiple per day, on the effects of this disaster on the auto industry.

Basically, I think this year is going to be a painful awakening of how interconnnected we are. Some things will be replaced fairly easily (paints from Japan can be replaced), but other things will prove severely more difficult due to the expertise involved in their design and manufacture. This is not going to be a walk in the park for the global community, as much as the idea of a disaster in mostly rural northern Japan seems abstract to many people.

Again, the car site is


Where is Mr. This-Isn't-As-Bad-As-Chernobyl. New Scientist and many other scientists keep pointing out that daily releases are on same level as Chernobyl, maybe only 1/2 as much per day. Chernobyl only burned for eight to ten days.

Here's what I don't understand. Russia dropped 2600 tonnes of sand, 2400 tonnes of lead, and 40 tonnes of boron in a few days. Why aren't those storage pools been filled with boron or some type of heat conductive metal, like in Unit 4. I guess TEPCO doesn't care because their liability is beyond the worth of the company, so it no longer matters to shareholders if they do nothing at all. Other than watch the basements fill up with 1 Sv/hr radioactive water.

From what we know for at least two reasons: the reactors are putting out too much heat and condition of spent fuel rods is too shaky.

This is shaping up to be much worse than Chernobyl

Chernobyl only burned for eight to ten days

Exactly. Chernobyl blew up, vaporized most of the water in the reactor, splattered radioactive particles all over the inside of the wrecked containment buildings & over the immediate landscape (now the 30 km exclusion zone). The rest of the radiation went skywards & dispersed around the northern latitudes.

Fukushima is now too radioactive to allow work to remove the melting fuel rods or repair the leaking buildings or water containment systems. And how are they going to perform the largest cement job in history to cover at least 4 hot reactors. And how much radioactive water is going to get into the ground water even if they can cement in the reactors?

Unlike the 8 day disaster of Chernobyl, the Fukushima crisis will eat away like a cancer for weeks & months.

"months and years"!!! not just weeks and months. The first time I read that, I thought it was an error in translation. Now I've read those words again and again - in many places.

This is only comparable to Chernobyl with respect to the short lived isotope levels.

Chernobyl blew out it's complete inventory of nucleotides including billions of curies with half-lives in the 1000 year+ category. This is not happening at Dai-Ichi.

Chernobyl was MUCH worse.

The main consequences from Chernobyl are due to I and Cs. I in the immediate aftermath for the cancers and Cs for the condemned land.

Both I and Cs are escaping here, in amounts comparable to Chernobyl. The only reason for expecting less land to be condemned in Japan, is that a lot of them are going into the sea rather than onto the land.

One of the interesting problems associated with this sort of event is measurement. Since cancer affects the general populace at a rate of about 25%, it is quite difficult to measure an increase of say 0.1% with any degree of statistical confidence. Yet a 0.1% increase in the incidence of cancer across a population the size of Europe is 300,000 additional cancers.

In the case of some specific cancers like thyroid, yes we can say that Chernobyl had an impact that we can point to. And fortunately the cure rate of this sort of cancer is quite high, so the actual lives lost is pretty small.

So I don't think you can really say with any sort of confidence that the impact is restricted to I and Cs. We just don't have a good measure of the impact.

But I think you have to consider it a cost that additional people have to deal with cancer that wouldn't have had to otherwise, even if they don't die. In addition, there's the cost of medical care to cure the cancers.

You run over a pedestrian with your car and only break their leg, do you say it's not that big a deal because after all, broken legs can be healed? No, you still try not to run over them in the first place.

That's a good question. I feel the tsunami is a part of that answer. Back before at Chernobyl, there was no infrastructure damage and nothing else to check for.

Remember, there is only 50 people working here, we saw far more at Chernobyl.

Maybe it's a good sign of perspective: they are using their resources on the tsunami victims, not on the power plant. Which, lets admit, it better to save yourself from the earthquake disaster than the small plume you may received.

Who will care if they won't get cancer but will die right now?

Reconstruction efforts require centralized headquarters, strong local representation

(Mainichi )Debate is taking place over the government's approach to the reconstruction of areas in eastern Japan that have suffered grave damage from the recent earthquake and tsunami. One of the ideas that have emerged within the government and ruling party is the establishment of a reconstruction agency.

To rebuild the vast number of communities that were wiped out by the massive tsunami on March 11, such an organization must be able to propel various ministries and agencies to come together, as well as conceptualize progress from a mid- to long-term perspective. It would not be in our best interests to expend more energy than is necessary in creating the organization. What we are aiming for is a flexible control group that is quick on its feet.

Brilliant, add another layer of complexity to a system that is breaking down due to excess complexity.

Obama has many Czars he could loan, LOL!

Edit: Not a Barry hater either.

Edit: I am going to go buy some pot. No it's OK.
Smoke seen, controlled at New Hampshire nuclear plant
Reuters – Mon Mar 28, 3:12 pm ET.
Smoke billowing from an equipment elevator at a New Hampshire nuclear plant briefly triggered an "unusual event" on Monday but did not impact operations or affect any employees, officials said.


Oops. Someone may be learning the wrong lesson.

People are really shaken by this here in Japan. There is a new TV commercial from the govt with popular singers: Japan will be all right, Japan is strong! They intone. But meanwhile Tokyo is rather dark and I think lots of people are leaving from there never to return.

People are drawing their own conclusions. The power load from Tokyo was immense; the tons of rods used in Fukushima attests to the "obesity" of electricity consumption that seemingly had no consequences......until the system weakened and the consequences, backed up like water behind a cracked dam, gushed forth.

In a sense it seems like it was only a matter of time.

I have a friend who worked in Tower Two of the World Trade Center, and when she retold her tale to us, she said.. 'We heard a sound, we started smelling Kerosene.. I was on another floor and was going back to my desk, when the intercom announced "Everybody stay calm, and stay at your desks. Everything is under control." .. and that's when we knew it was time to go.'

By the time she was getting to the bottom few floors (from the 80's somewhere), the concrete walls around the staircase were starting to crack and pull apart.

Boy, Pi, your description makes these rods seem like they are 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', the real decay and ugliness that we have kept swept out of view so we'd have our nice 'Front-Office Appearances'

Maybe this idea is even more techno than you want to hear at this point, but I'm thinking I might take my two unmounted Solar PV Panels and set them up as Picnic Tables in our City Square for Earth Day, in conjunction with a group called 'Local Sprouts' that always produces some great Natural and Local Eats for the event. I'd like to show people that you can actually eat your lunch right on top of a Solar Panel.. and even then, make sure that the lunch is really what it's all about.. the PV is just background. TANSTAAFL.

"Everybody stay calm, and stay at your desks. Everything is under control." .. and that's when we knew it was time to go.'

Yeah! Nuclear is safe, it's the only solution to our energy problems, solar and wind are intermittent and too expensive. I think I'm now thoroughly convinced it's time to leave BAU and switch to intermittent expensive renewables. The rest of you can go live in Tokyo, I hear they have some really cheap apartments for sale there...

I might have to mount a couple Kerosene Hurricane lantern-holders out at the ends of my PV Picnic Tables, as my own little 'Fossil Fuel Extenders'.. wink, wink, nudge, nudge..

Stay Calm. Return to your homes. The Television will not be Revolutionized.

That is all..

And people in Tokyo are experts at living simply compared to people in North America.

I have a cousin in Tokyo--he seems determined to stay but it doesn't seem like a very practical decision, especially if the no-fly zone comes to include Tokyo and it becomes very difficult to leave.

Can you elaborate on who is leaving/staying and their reasons? Does it tend to be an emotional or financial decision? (Sorry if this seems OT but if we're talking about Japan's economic future it's important to understand what the population might look like in a few months or years.)

Of course thousands of foreigners left. Narita Airport was a mad scene of desperation...planes were full leaving Japan, empty coming back (That may still be the case...millions of tourists canceled plans to come), Wealthier and more mobile people left. I read about how many companies that could (i.e. they are just offices, not manufacturers) closed in Tokyo and reopened in Osaka and Fukuoka. All the people just moved. It is not hard to move, just buy a train ticket and go. (Trains are on reduced schedule but still it is not hard to get a seat; the Shinkansen stilll runs a lot of trains). There are rolling blackouts in Tokyo, lots of escalators, stoplights, department stores, all kinds of shops, homes, offices have no electricity for hours at a time. So it is now a little tough to live there.

There was tons of overcapacity of offices and apartments built before all over the place so other cities can absorb the refugees I think. After all, the population is shrinking now for five years.

Tokyo has lost its mojo and it will probably never come back again even after they find the electricity to power it again (if they do). Will it be like Detroit even? With large areas abandoned? Perhaps if the crisis can't be resolved or gets worse.

The economic future? That is unchanged....it was bleak before this happened. This speeded up the process a lot. Probably in some ways it will be good for people to not be living in Tokyo when oil becomes much more expensive. This event got me out of that area, for example. I find that buying food is so much cheaper in the country! And it tastes better.

Fuku= "lucky" shima= "island". Is the name totally wrong for now? YEs, but if this gets people away from nuclear power, if only just a little, then that is good.

Thank you very much for providing this.

Hi, Pi. Sorry to hear about your losses, but glad to hear that you are relocated and busy relocalizing. I appreciate your taking the time to share with us; your comments in the past few days have been very helpful. Do you feel as though you are better off having the mental model that you do for what is coming?

We're all Downwinders now.

While I understand the cause for pessimism, people forget bad stuff amazingly quickly.

Don't count anyone out as long as they have legs.

Have we grown soft?

We used to blow up pounds of plutonium
in the open air
just to scare each other.*

All metal melted since WWII is radioactive.**

My mom died of cancer.
My love from young days died of cancer.
Her mom has cancer.
My dog died of a tumor.
Both my current dogs have tumors.
My neighbor's dog just died of cancer.
My neighbor's remaining dog has cancer.

Your dogs?
Your friends and lovers?
Your family?

*Above-ground weapons testing:

Low-Background Laboratories page 132

I think I remember Diane Sawyer telling me today cancer gets 50% of men and 40% of women. As in % dead from cancer. How can that be correct?

It's not, it's about 25% of all deaths. Heart disease and related is about 30%. Also don't forget that cancer strikes more as you get older. Somethings gotta kill ya!

I remember discussing this with an evolutionary biologist once. As I remember it, his main point was that organisms spent an optimal amount of energy on cell-level maintenance — most cancer is the result of maintenance failures at the cellular level — based on their niche in the ecology and expected life span. Some short-lived breeds of mice will get cancer if you look at them hard. It's almost impossible to get long-lived tortoises to develop cancer. The mice spend almost no energy on cell-level maintenance, it's all used for fast reflexes and high rates of reproduction. The opposite is true for the tortoises.

His claim was that for most of human existence, if you got through childhood you could reasonably expect to make it to 40. So one would expect cell-level maintenance to begin to go to hell around then, and after another decade the consequences would begin to show up: rogue cells leading to tumors and various sorts of breakdowns of the sophisticated protein chemistry that keeps us all going.

He speculated that if we had a magic pill that did away with those degenerative illnesses and pushed the average lifespan out another 30 years, we'd find that there were a whole new set of limitations. For example, hard limits on the amount of memory storage available, so that it would become impossible to learn new things.

The thing is, ALL of these tests and leaks and 'near misses' and outright f=ups have just added and added to the mess. All the Russian fuel and waste in the Ocean.. what has the US military contributed? Everything except the DU is probably 'classified'..

Then you have all the carcinogenic compounds we employ in our electronics and plastics, clothes and food-storage materials.. and we keep talking as if it's probably 'This and not That', while we swim around in the soup that contains ALL of it.

What an elaborate way to commit suicide.

The US managed to lose quite a few nuclear weapons over the decades. IIRC some of them were never found, lost at sea, etc.

I would guess that figures for industrial countries are rather similar.

In Sweden (2009) the cause of death for women was in 23 percent of cases tumours. For men the corresponing figure was 27 percent. Of course far from everyone that gets cancer dies from it.


"Of course far from everyone that gets cancer dies from it."

And is death/dying the only cost we consider?

And we've also paid out $1.5 billion to 21,629 claimants for the health consequence associated with these exposures. Do we really want to keep buying people off for contamination of their drinking water (fracking), loss of jobs and contamination to Gulf (Deepwater Horizon), relocating residents in New Orleans (because hurricane preparations were inadequate), and all the rest. Or should we just spend a little bit extra to do things right in the first place, and actually prevent these designed based accidents.

"Later that day, TEPCO corrected that analysis, saying it was highly possible that cobalt-56 was mistaken for iodine-134 when compiling the earlier data. Early Monday, the company again made a correction, saying it should have referred to cesium-134, not cobalt-56."


Well, that makes more sense in terms of misidentifying the isotope.

But, now, I need the nuclear experts to explain where all that cesium 134 came from. It's not produced in large quantities in reactor fission,is it?

From Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 74th ed. page 11-80:

half-life: 2.91 h
decay mode: I.T. / .139 MeV

half-life: 2.065 yr
decay mode: β- / 2.059 MeV
E.C. / 1.22 MeV

I.T.: isomeric transition from upper to lower isomeric state
E.C.: orbital electron capture
β-: beta particle, aka high speed electron

Small amounts of cesium-134 are produced directly by fission, but it is mostly produced by neutron capture in cesium-133 which is a main fission product.

ASTM E219-80(1995):

Cesium-134 is produced by neutron capture on fission product 133 Cs and grows at a rate proportional to the square of the exposure.

More evidence supporting a partial core meltdown resulting in fission.

Fission Products in Seattle Reveal Clues about Japan Nuclear Disaster, Technology Review, March 27, 2011:

What they found was small amounts of iodine-131, iodine-132, tellurium-132, iodine-133, cesium-134 and cesium 137.

Finally, there are a huge number of possible breakdown products from nuclear fission in a reactor and yet the Seattle team found evidence of only three fission product elements--iodine, cesium and tellurium. "This points to a specifific process of release into the atmosphere," they say.

Cesium Iodide is highly soluble in water. So these guys speculate that what they're seeing is the result of contaminated steam being released into the atmosphere. "Chernobyl debris, conversely, showed a much broader spectrum of elements, reflecting the direct dispersal of active fuel elements," they say.

You know you're old when the most recent edition of the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics on your bookshelf is the 47th edition (1966-1967). FWIW, I had one of the old "fat" editions when I was working on my BS so the 47th was a real "improvement".


I have the 4th edition from 1916 too which originally belonged to my grandfather.

Here is a fun one:
The image is too big, so here is the link:

Some kids wanted to see the arrival of the radioactive debris.
So they made a collector of the physics building air inlet!
The green line is the lead shielding all by itself: nothing.
The red line is the day before: March 16 2011: nothing.
Blue line is March 17 2011: Very nice, clear signal for Iodine 131.
This is a spectrogram of particle energies:
The vertical axis is how dense the signal was.
The horizontal axis is how energetic the particle was.
Different materials have different sets and amplitudes of peaks.

This is an exquisitely sensitive instrument.
It demonstrates the fact of the arrival of the debris.
The amount of debris is vanishingly small.

The experiment:

All things that radiate radiation radioactively:

There are more measurements at the U.S. EPA's RadNet Air Monitoring Data. Beta and gamma detectors are reading levels indistinguishable from background. The Air Filter and Cartridge Results for March 28, 2011, shows the highest detection in Alaska:

EPA RadNet Air Concentration Measurement Data - Air Filters
Issued: 3/28/11
Radionuclide (pCi/m3)
1 Ci = 37 GBq

State location date collected Ba-140 Co-60 Cs-134 Cs-137 I-131 I-132 I-133 Te-132
AK Dutch Harbor 3/19/2011 ND --- 0.0371 0.053 0.66 0.17 --- 0.19
AK Dutch Harbor 3/19/2011 ND --- 0.0431 0.063 0.69 0.29 --- 0.4
AK Dutch Harbor 3/20/2011 ND --- 0.0098 0.014 0.20 0.034 --- 0.028

The largest detection of 131I is .026 Bq / m3 which is about 1.6 decays per minute per cubic meter. Not much, yet, but it accumulates.

To add a provocative question to the list above, is it not conspicuous that Japan is mostly alone in dealing with what is really an international catastrophe? Within Japan many are asking why there is no obvious foreign help in dealing with Fukushima whilst externally the press have caustically blamed Japan, laid waste by a beyond-biblical series of events for not doing more to resolve the issue. The US appears to be only peripherally involved, merely delivering tap water and fire engines. This lack of support is broadly conspicuous given our military presence on the Japanese mainland AND the biggest US base in Asia at Okinawa. Obviously, this will never be confirmed but discussions in the DC area among certain circles suggest that Bernanke himself offered up US forces and technical ability to provide a solution and deal with the cleanup if the Japanese increased their purchases of US treasuries. The Japanese government said no to the Banksters and immediately the media went into control mode blaming the Japanese for a mess actually created by US-led postwar re-construction efforts and GE who built 6 reactors on the wrong side of Japan, the one adjacent to an epic faultline in the same country that named the concept of tsunami.

Purchase? They are going to have to either sell a bunch of what they hold or start printing money with no thoughts about inflation, or both. They will be buying none of our paper.

Really. It would be difficult to believe Bernanke had even floated the idea, if we didn't know that those guys have a very tenuous grasp of reality, to accompany their lack of scruples.

I don't know why Japan (apparently) continues to resist internationalizing this effort, but it seems a worse choice with every passing day.

We in the U.S. are too busy bombing carrying out a precision, limited, non-lethal, humanitarian intervention in Libya.

RC do you have a source for that re:

discussions in the DC area among certain circles suggest that Bernanke himself offered up US forces and technical ability to provide a solution and deal with the cleanup if the Japanese increased their purchases of US treasuries.

From correspondence I have seen, there is extensive American participation in this at the commercial level, including on site. American engineering firms and American
nuclear cleanup companies are involved. Engineering proposals both for quick temporary moderation of release of nuclear material including partial wrapping of buildings
in plastic, paint to slow alpha, beta impact are coming from the US.

Radioactive water is showing up in multiple places outside containment, as in Daniel Morris link above and also this link that describes the radiation injury of the workers at the Turbine building next to Reactor 3.


Normally only radiation from 7 second half life N-16 is present in the Turbine Building during reactor operation as reported in this link so the workers did not expect radiation after shutdown, but TEPCO should have checked:


I have been wondering how radioactive water from the reactor pressure vessel got into the Turbine Building and lower tunnels.

I am a research materials scientist who has worked with reactor designers , but I am not a BWR reactor designer, so this post is a hypothesis to be considered by better experts on BWR piping design and reactor operation.

In the following link I found from Arizona State University is a very good animated generic Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) piping and water-steam flow chart :


1. In normal operation deionized pure water boils in the core, the steam goes out the top of the reactor vessel and then OUT of the primary containment into the Turbine Building, passes through the turbine-generator and exits the bottom into to the condenser. where the steam becomes water again. Injection pumps then pump the water back into “Containment” and then back into the pressure vessel to continue the reactor steam generation. .
2. After the reactor shutdown all these pumps stop and the water flow stopped too. TEPCO first used pressurized seawater from fire trucks to restore water flow, and more recently is pumping drinking water into the reactor pressure vessel to cool the core. Where do they connect to the pressure vessel to inject this water?


Start with this question.

Is it possible during the emergency water injections under pump pressure , that the pump pressure caused the saltwater in the reactor (filled with fission products released due fuel cladding failure) to flow backwards through the normal cold feed-water line into the turbine building through the normal operation feed-water pumps and into the condenser? IS there a check valve that would block this reverse flow?

It has been reported that the condenser is full of radioactive water. This hypothesis would explain how that happened.


Since this condensed water system is normally cold deionized water, filling it suddenly with boiling water from the reactor would cause the piping to thermally expand and stress the pipe joints and flanges and valves. This piping may not have been designed to run at boiling temperatures. Further, it is possible the seals used in this cold water piping probably were not rated for boiling water temperatures and could be heat damaged causing leaks in the warped overheated piping, This could cause leaks of this radioactive water into the turbine building and its lower areas filling them with fission product containing water. Further elastomer seals are easily damaged by gamma radiation.

Thus, as they pump water in to the pressure vessel, it pushes radioactive water into the Turbine Buildings cold water feed-water system into many other places, even outside the buildings. I don't know if this is possible without knowing where they pump the emergency water into the vessel.

If this leak hypothesis is the cause of the radiation water leaks I would judge this much less serious than a breech of primary containment being occasionally mentioned in reports and probably controllable.

What do others think? A favorite saying of mine is "So many beautiful hypotheses are destroyed by ugly facts!" So I don't mind if I learn new facts.

Also see these two GE reports about the Turbine building and Mark I containment:


How it works: White Paper on Mark 1 Containment

Your process raises too many issues for a single discussion.

My go to info source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents

Very complete (currently 300 references) and updated more than 3 times/day

Lot of effort into Backsourcing info as far as possible and I have not caught many errors.

Thanks for the link. I will do some more reading. My seawater pitting corrosion/ stress cracking damage to stainless piping causing leaks is more probable anyway.

There is picture of Japanese and American (oh surprise) soldiers (at wikipedia website referenced above) working (most likely practicing) on some hydraulic coupling. Any body knows what kind of rank and forces are displayed on his uniform?


I can't make out the insignia on the Japanese uniform, but that's a USAF Technical Sergeant (E6).

Another thing to remember about a condenser is they are designed for vacuum. Any pressure above 14.7 psi may have destroyed it.

Thus, as they pump water in to the pressure vessel, it pushes radioactive water into the Turbine Buildings cold water feed-water system into many other places, even outside the buildings. I don't know if this is possible without knowing where they pump the emergency water into the vessel (donshan)

Feedwater is heated (to 350F) before it returns to the pressure vessel in low pressure feedwater heaters (to promote efficiency), so this piping can withstand some thermal expansion it would seem. There are also two pumps along this pathway: a condensate pump (that raises pressure to 350 psi) and feedwater pumps (increasing pressure to 1200 psi), and these were presumably shut down (and would likely prevent backflow). So this is a high pressure and high temperature pathway along the feedwater line. Interesting theory.


>Where do they connect to the pressure vessel to inject this water

They connect to the 'Fire Extinguish Line', see the conceptual schematics of the improvised injection system here :

(these are cached copies of Tepco documents)

Excellent data at fairewinds.com re likely leaks source, apart from holed/cracked containment.


Control Rods are below reactor core and driven up into core thru graphite seals to stop chain reaction. The seals degrade above 350C/hi-rad conditions and thus will leak hi-rad core water into piping that passes thru containment "penetrations". Outside containment, any broken/breached piping will spill the hi-rad water.

Arne Gundersen is long-time expert. See his Mar 29 video.

Thanks for the link,
some good disambiguation from an expert source not afraid to say it how it is. His other videos are worth watching too.

I want to thank all the posters who each provided additional information and links that I have read and each led to other sources too.

My objective in the original post was to explore if the radioactive water leaks were due to back flow of highly radioactive water out of existing piping that normally penetrates containment could somehow leak radioactive water out of containment, rather than media reports implying worst case scenarios.

There are many reasons I found to show the hypothesis I posted above would be unlikely including, the fact that the feed water inlet to the pressure vessel is above the fuel core, but under the top water level during operation. During the time the core was uncovered water levels were below the feed water inlet. In addition I verified check valves are in the feed water system to prevent back flow, but also I found feed water check valves have been known to leak, and some leakage is allowable. Check valves could have been blocked open by core damage fragments in the boiling water propping the valves open. So while not impossible feed water back flow is not a likely scenario. Hypotheses are designed to be revised when new facts appear.

The excellent post added by reddot about the Fairwinds link with expert analysis by Arnie Gundersen is a better hypothesis than mine. He showed water lines leading to the control rods go back out of containment to the same purified water system as the feed-water inlet I explored. I found two Japanese reports that have many useful diagrams, which show changes in the design of the control rod actuators over time that are different from the one posted by Gundersen. These later reports show the control rods still have water lines which are hydraulic pressure lines to operate the control rods in or out. It does not really matter which design is the culprit in this leak scenario, since with any seal failure in the control rods creates the potential for highly radioactive water to come off the bottom of the pressure vessel and be be transported outside the containment by these water lines.

Yes, this is bad "loss of containment" radiation leak that can only get worse. However if these control rod water lines are the source of the leaks, these lines could be crimped shut, and the radioactive water flows could be slowed or even stopped . That is a better outcome to stop the environmental radiation spread, than major unrepairable damage to the pressure vessel containment systems that might leak radiation for many years.

My post is aimed at to TEPCO's response plans for the future. They are very reluctant to release much specific data, and even what they release is garbled by the reporting media. I think a chemical/radioactive isotope analysis of each external water pool, along with analysis of samples from each reactor pressure vessel and spent storage pool and the ocean leak, along with chemical analysis of the seawater they were spraying on top by fire trucks could pinpoint the probable leak source or sources. That could focus work to stop the leaks at their source if possible, rather than just react after the fact, like adding sand bags to contain the radioactive water.

I want to see TEPCO get proactive and get robots in there!

See control rod water lines on page 7:


See later control rod design and water piping diagram Fig 2.3 page 11:


Edit added: Highly radioactive water samples can be taken remotely into bottles, which are then transported in portable lead casks to a shielded chemical analysis laboratory with filtered air to prevent any radiation exposure to employees or the public in the process. I have personally done these tests back in the late 1950s. Any country doing fuel reprocessing such as France could do the analyses. For example boric acid was added to some reactors in the early stages. A boron analysis of leak water vs. the boron content of each reactor and spent fuel pond along with a radioisotope survey could pinpoint the source of the leak or might show it is just runoff from the firetrucks that sprayed water on the reactors washing off limited radioactivity.

It would be a sub task in their plan probably costing $1 million+. If that cost bothers anyone in TEPCO they don't understand how serious they are in trouble. When Red Adair was called in to put out an oil field fire, the contract always was on the basis " I will put out the fire and send you a bill later after the fire is out for whatever it cost and you will pay me- no estimates up front!"

Well re: the impact on nuclear energy for the future - in Germany Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered their worst electoral defeat in what was widely regarded as a referendum on her support for nuclear energy. In one German sgtate - after holding power for 60 yrs Merkel's conservatives were booted out in favor of a Green party candidate who will be the first Green party member to hold a governorship. The majority of Germans are strongly opposed to nuclear power and suspect the current moratorium is temporary and that Merkel remains commited to nuclear energy - hence the desire to vote her party out.


Right. And there's about to be a major backlash against the plans of the coalition in the UK.

In the US, where land use is substantially subject to local control, it's going to be a long time before any communities permit construction of new reactors. Even if some were permitted, the costs of the additional safeguards and redundancy that will certainly be required by regulators at all levels would likely make them uneconomic.

As for the 23 existing GE BWR Mark I units, I'm glad I'm not one of the operators. The natives are gonna be very restless.

In the US, where land use is substantially subject to local control, it's going to be a long time before any communities permit construction of new reactors.

Nuclear power in the US is largely an eastern phenomenon. In the West (by which I mean west of the Great Plains — sorry Texas, most of your population is not in the West), there are a total of eight commercial reactors: three in Arizona, four in the southern half of California, and one in Washington. Roughly 25% of the country's population lives in those states, but they have only about 8% of the reactors. Nuclear provides about 20% of the total electric power in the US, but much less in the West — 25% of Arizona's power, but only 16% of California's and 8% of Washington's, and essentially none in the remaining states. The western states are (relative to their population) much richer in fossil fuels and renewables.

If you assume that no new nukes will be built, and existing nuclear licenses will not be renewed, the East is looking at (in really round numbers) 25% of their current power output disappearing in the the next 20 years or less. That's an enormously bigger problem to handle than the West will have if its eight reactors are decommissioned on schedule. I suspect that the eastern states will face either very sharp price increases or relatively draconian conservation programs (two ways of achieving the goal) in order to meet that decrease in power output. I expect to see some painful regional frictions when eastern politicians attempt to impose the conservation and/or price pain uniformly across the entire country.

Seems like Merkel's quick shutdown of their older reactors after Fukushima was her Gov't trying to Jam some control rods down and Scram their Nascent Boostering of Fission in recent years, before the Elections went too Critical.

I'm not sure exactly what people are getting at in the discussion trying to determine the timeline of power source availability at the plant...BUT...what I've never understood is why the game was over when the back-up generators failed???...Cost?...Shock?...Shame???

If power supply was mission critical then there's NO excuse for not having power supply, is there? How far away is Dainni and their possibly operational back-up generators...? What about the Army...? What about the Navy...

Are ya'll implying that they possibly couldn't even utilize the power supply...?


Dainni: 7 miles away.

Are these guys even predisposed or capable of utilizing brute-force if need be to shut this thing down?

Does the International community have ANY legal rights whatsoever to say "step-aside"...?

To usurp a nation's national sovereignty is an act of war.

I was meaning the "international community" including Japan...as in Japan's membership in x guarantees their agreement to x

"why the game was over when the back-up generators failed???...Cost?...Shock?...Shame?"

I'm thinking it had something to do with most of the attention being focused on the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and all that other damage.

Probably a good bit of institutionalized incompetence within TEPCO and also between TEPCO and the authorities.

Plus as the nuclear "experts" were telling us even a week after (and some still are): TEPCO survived the disaster with flying colors, that the reactors scrammed, that a meldown is impossible, nuclear is safe, that this is no big deal, not even one of the plant workers will get hurt in this, oh and anyway radiation is good for you--better than fiber really.

I'm thinking it had something to do with most of the attention being focused on the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and all that other damage.

Shock...an unfortunate excuse...i can hardly look at the photos & video myself...

The nuclear industry and its regulators are pushing the meme that the Fukushima facilities "survived" the quake itself. The Richter 9 quake was beyond the design specifications for everything in those plants, and only 10 minutes were available to survey the damage before the tsunami wave hit. The control room crews couldn't even keep their footing during the quake and the upper levels of the buildings were probably shaking even more.
Of course after the wave and the later hydrogen explosions, we'll never know what damage was seismic and what wasn't.

The tsunami was generally reported to have hit 50 minutes after the quake, not 10. The quake was centered 100+ miles out.
The other plant 7 miles down the coast, Da-ini managed to do OK somehow.
What happened at Da-ichi that didn't at other plants?

Did the diesel generators fail because they got wet?

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake at the epicenter, not at the plants. The magnitude of the earthquake at the plants did not exceed their design parameters.

Dai-ni is only 7 miles away with 4 reactors of the same design as Dai-ichi. No meltdowns, no leaks, no explosions.

Reason? The backup generators were on higher ground so they survived the 15 meter tsunami.

Probably a good bit of institutionalized incompetence within TEPCO and also between TEPCO and the authorities.

The Peaceful Atom effort is filled with cost cutting, violations of established policy to attempt to be profitable, and outright lying.

The late 1980's revelation of a flawed fission reactor #4 and its coverup is an example of why fission is a poor plan.

"Are ya'll implying that they possibly couldn't even utilize the power supply...?"

Yes. Not only did the tsunami wipe out the emergency backup generators, but it submerged critical switchrooms under salt water. This meant that even if alternate power sources had been available, they would have been useless because the infrastructure needed to get power to the cooling pumps was clobbered. Power distribution gear just doesn't work well after it's filled with electrically conductive seawater.

right right - that's what's been discussed and actually seems most probable but these guys are angling at something more sinister...like TEPCO liked the excuse of not having power...implying they maybe did what they could to NOT have power... i dunno...

Lame excuses for gross incompetence. TEPCO couldn't afford to pay for 300 feet of high voltage cable to station the generators and their fuel tanks on the ground right behind the plant that is 70 feet above sea level? Apparently the tsunami did not render the electrical system in the plant useless, otherwise they would not have bothered to connect the power a few days ago. Also cutting and pasting the US building design and putting the control room in the basement is absurd.

Power distribution gear doesn't work ...

Any news on what equipment it was? Or the list of suspects?

IIRC they did bring in portable generators from a nearby US military base after the diesels went down, but they found they produced the wrong phase of electricity for the plant to use.

At that point it appears everything went off the tracks, probably because the cores were still really, really hot and hadn't been getting circulated water for several hours. By the time they had generators running all three cores were at least partially exposed. Reactor 2 was apparently not being monitored and became fully exposed before they began reflooding it.

I've got no idea why they didn't bring in generators from every nuclear plant in the nation. IIRC the nearby Dainni plant had problems of its own right after the tsunami though, so getting generators from it was probably not a good idea.

There is no evidence or reporting to back up this comment! It is entirely speculative or fabricated.

Switch rooms for electricity generation were located in flooded basements. You need high voltage power to run a coolant pump the size of a VW bus, and not a portable generator that many people have in their garages to run lights and refrigerators during a power outage. The conditions of the cores at the Fukushima power plants did not deteriorate because they didn't have an adapter or inverter to use on diesel generators obtained from a US military base, and brought in on impassible roads during the early stages of the accident (as Bendal seems to imply in his comment).

That was what I'd heard back when this crisis began; that Japan has power in two different phases, and the generators brought in were the wrong one for the plant to use. I see now it was a problem with underground electrical panels being flooded out (great idea, that), so the earlier reports are no doubt in error.

Reference for "the underground electrical panel"?

The above reply is rubbish any engineer would know that all that was required to drop or raise the generator RPM from 1800rpm60Hz to 1500Hz with a slight derating.

No need to run an extension cord from Dai-ni. That is what a transmission network is, and is for.
Dai-ni was getting its power from the grid.
I assume that Dai-ichi also had power at the grid. So .... what's the story?

You are a little more irate than I am. You are saying whether there was power at the grid or not, you still need power. That's all there is to it. Or forget nuclear.

This thread makes me wonder, if an economic case could be made for siting small co-gen, gas or oil (say 100-200MW) plants very close to existing nuclear sites. With the infrastructure already in place to deliver the power (switch/transformer yards at or near existing plants) this extra layer of backup might also produce revenue for the operator.

Not too close, or they'll be inaccessible or inoperable if there are big problems at one of the nukes.

Which is a problem they've got at Fukushima. The nukes and waste pools are all too close to each other.

You are getting at a design objective for nuclear plants: reliable power to ensure that essential equipment operates. And the fact that it is worth spending some money on, however you manage to do it.

Better to use the spent fuel in some kind of sterling engine.

The promise of breeder reactor technology is dying and that means
fission will die on schedule in 75 years leaving several million tons of radioactive waste worldwide. Without breeding there can be
no 'thorium' reactors and no fast neutron reactors.
Nature has given humans a certain amount of U-235 and when that 'fossil fuel' is exhausted it is the end of this fission technology.
OTOH, a somewhat cleaner nuclear fusion still is a possible technology to be developed.

Also damaged by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake was the nearby Rokkasho Fuel Reprocessing plant 2005 used in part to make MOX, which is situated on top of an active fault. During its planning, the builder continually downplayed site dangers. Many of Japan's reactors have been damaged by earthquakes over the years.


Bush was talking about building a fuel reprocessing plant at Barnwell, South Carolina also in a seismic zone along with the
Savannah River complex but that was cancelled along with the seismically challenged Yucca Mountain site. The city of Charleston, SC suffered a 7.3 earthquake in 1886, the 1811 New Madrid quakes were 7-8 scale.
The 2011 Haiti quake was 7.0.

Nevada ranks fourth in the nation for current seismic activity[49] Earthquake databases (the Council of the National Seismic System Composite Catalogue and the Southern Great Basin Seismic Network) provide current and historical earthquake information. Analysis of the available data in 1996 indicates that, since 1976, there have been 621 seismic events of magnitude greater than 2.5 within a 50-mile radius of Yucca Mountain. Reported underground nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site have been excluded from this count.[49]

DOE has stated that seismic and tectonic effects on the natural systems at Yucca Mountain will not significantly affect repository performance. Yucca Mountain lies in a region of ongoing tectonic deformation, but the deformation rates are too slow to significantly affect the mountain during the 10,000-year regulatory compliance period. Rises in the water table caused by seismic activity would be, at most, a few tens of meters and would not reach the repository. The fractured and faulted volcanic tuff that Yucca Mountain comprises reflects the occurrence of many earthquake-faulting and strong ground motion events during the last several million years, and the hydrological characteristics of the rock would not be changed significantly by seismic events that may occur in the next 10,000 years. The engineered barrier system components will reportedly provide substantial protection of the waste form from seepage water, even under severe seismic loading.[50]

In September 2007, it was discovered that the Bow Ridge fault line ran underneath the facility, hundreds of feet east of where it was originally thought to be located, beneath a storage pad where spent radioactive fuel canisters would be cooled before being sealed in a maze of tunnels. The discovery required several structures to be moved several hundred feet further to the east, and drew criticism from Robert R. Loux, then head of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, who argues that Yucca administrators should have known about the fault line's location years prior, and called the movement of the structures “just-in-time engineering.”[51][52] In June 2008, a major nuclear equipment supplier, Holtec International, criticized the Department of Energy's safety plan for handling containers of radioactive waste before they are buried at the proposed Yucca Mountain dump. The concern is that, in an earthquake, the unanchored casks of nuclear waste material awaiting burial at Yucca Mountain could be sent into a "chaotic melee of bouncing and rolling juggernauts".


IMO, the radical expansion of nuclear power is inherently reckless
and existing units should be gradually phased out.
The worse case economic estimates are that CCS coal is no more expensive than nuclear power.

Not to mention...

Power group: China lowering nuclear target
BEIJING – China's government has made changes in its policy on nuclear power that likely will result in a scaling back of ambitious plans for building new plants, an industry official said in comments reported Tuesday by state media.

The announcement came as Japan struggles to control a nuclear plant that was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami earlier this month but there was no announcement that the change was prompted by that disaster.

Beijing is promoting nuclear power to curb surging demand for oil and gas, but analysts say the industry's rapid growth is straining China's ability to supply equipment and technicians.

Recent policy changes are likely to result in a reduction of about 10 gigawatts in nuclear generating capacity from the 90 gigawatts previously expected to be built by 2020, said the deputy director of the China Electricity Council, Wei Zhaofeng, according to newspapers.

Government plans called for nuclear to supply up to 5 percent of China's power by 2020 but Wei said that was likely to be closer to 3 percent due to the policy changes. The reports by the China Business News, China Daily and other newspapers gave no details of the changes.

Employees who answered the phone at the CEC, the group for China's power utilities, declined to confirm Wei made the comments or give any details or their names.

The communist government is in the midst of finalizing a blueprint for nuclear power development over the next five years and Tuesday's reports suggested officials might be more conservative after a decade of aggressively expanding the industry.

The Cabinet suspended new approvals for nuclear plants just five days after the March 11 disaster in Japan. But the nuclear safety director of China's Environmental Protection Ministry, Tian Jiashu, said in a statement Saturday the government had faith in its technology and would go ahead with expansion plans.

Wei said China should "pay a high degree of attention to nuclear power safety" in light of the Japanese disaster, according to the China Business News.

The Japanese disaster might prompt Chinese officials to be more conservative about their nuclear plans but the technology still will play a key role in energy plans, said Xianfang Ren, China economist for IHS Global Insight.

"The country has basically been at its top capacity building nuclear power plants in the past few years, which is causing shortage in supply of nuclear equipment and technicians," said Ren in a report.

"There is a likelihood that policymakers may take a more conservative approach in the short term, taking into account both the safety issue and the supply constraint for nuclear power plant equipment and technicians."

China currently has 13 nuclear reactors that provide about 10 gigawatts of generating capacity and plans call for expanding that to about 40 gigawatts by 2015. If the government sticks to its earlier target for 2020, that would give China the world's biggest installed nuclear generation capacity.

Beijing says it is reviewing safety at China's nuclear plants following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima complex. Few details have been released but state television said last week technicians were assessing safeguards at the coastal Daya Bay nuclear plant north of Hong Kong, including sea walls to shield against a tsunami.

Beijing is promoting nuclear, wind, solar and other alternative energy as part of efforts to curb surging demand for imported oil and gas and to reduce environmental damage from heavy reliance on coal. Its latest economic plan calls for alternative sources to supply at least 11.4 percent of China's power by 2015.

The promise of breeder reactor technology is dying and that means
fission will die on schedule in 75 years leaving several million tons of radioactive waste worldwide.

No. You can wash Uranium out of seawater. There are approximately 4 billion tons of U235 in the oceans. No need for the Thorium-cycle or breeders. Just go one with Titanic-style Mark-I's and RMBK's quite a while.

Remark: I do not say here nuclear energy is good / the solution or anything that like, just saying the often quoted depletion argument about Uranium is not really true. Of course the current price of Uranium has to be higher by a factor of 2-3 to make this economic, but that's of course not the biggest issue with nuclear plants.



You may remember the famous story of Nobel Prize winner Fritz Haber that he could practically extract gold from seawater?


That's not the same. The big advantage of Uranium is it's high energy density. I did'nt say it is economic at the moment, but it is practicable and has a positive EROI!

Earth to dare1000em, Earth to dare1000em!

Gold costs $46 million dollars per ton while uranium at ($50 per pound)costs $100000 per ton.


What makes you think uranium will be extracted from seawater if gold is not?

You also neglect the fact that uranium must be enriched to be used in reactors so that it takes 8 tons of uranium to make 1 ton for uranium nuclear fuel?

Sorry for popping your balloon.

@ Majoran

Why are you doing as if i'm a folish child? "Earth to dare100em..." Stop it.

You can discuss if the mining of Uranium from seawater is economic (for a higher price of course) or has a positive EROI, but stop making pre-judgments as if i had asserted something totally lunatic!

PS: See Bill Hannanan or Nojay, the mining of Uranium from seawater and the concentration is totally different to that of gold. At least there is no doubt - as i stated - that it would have a positive EROI by at least 3 to 5. So it is definitely an option. Like wind + photovoltaics + biomass + geothermics + solar-thermics + tidal + hydro. That does not mean there will be BAU of course...

The uranium concentration in seawater is about 3.3 parts per billion, or about 3.3 tonnes of metal per cubic kilometre whereas the highest gold concentrations in seawater close to the mouths of rivers fed from gold-rich mountains are in the parts per trillion region, a thousand times less. There's roughly a billion cubic kilometres of seawater on Earth.

The mining of uranium ore worldwide produces about 50,000 tonnes of metal a year which I assume matches the current consumption or thereabouts. There's also tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of tonnes of unburnt fuel in spent fuel rods in storage which will eventually become cost-effective to reprocess when mined uranium becomes scarcer and the price rises significantly. Currently the price is about 60 dollars US per kilo of uranium metal on the open market since it is common and easy to mine in high concentration ores (1-2% metal content).

BTW if anyone actually had a viable technique for extracting gold from seawater the last thing they would do, assuming they wanted to make a lot of money from the process, is to tell people they're doing it.

The usual number for gold in seawater is 13 parts per trillion
so using your number of 3300 ppt that's 250 times more not a thousand times more and a ton of gold at $46M USD would still beat
$25M USD or $12500 per pound up from $50 a pound.

High grade uranium ore is 20,000,000,000 ppt.

BTW if anyone actually had a viable technique for extracting gold from seawater the last thing they would do, assuming they wanted to make a lot of money from the process, is to tell people they're doing it.

The Japanese are claiming they can do it.


They must be lying because who in their right mind would tell anybody they had an effective method for doing so.


Ah, not so easy to mine it all from seawater you know.

Mr. Ugo Bardi, the man behind that awesome post and the reason I came here (his study of Peak Minerals), has disproven the idea that there is an EROI efficient/costeffective way of extracting uranium. Didn't mean to burst your low concentration-containing seawater bubble :).

The conclusion in the post is not really plausible. The calculation are vague and seem to be supposed to deny the possibility of extracting Uranium out of seawater. Even in his calculatin the EROI was about 2,5 (electrical energy only) with the very early membran design. The first windmills had also EROI 3-5.

I'm not saying it will solve our problems but for me it seems plausible that the extraction from seawater is possible with a long-term EROI of at least around 5. That's all.

Didn't read the article when it was originally published - thanks for posting the link. There is one question I had while reading it. The analysis appears to be based on processing a single commodity at a time. What would happen if there were multiple membranes in a single tower extracting a variety of different commodities? If you were extracting 10 commodities then wouldn't the energy used for pumping be 1/10th of the estimated?

Mr. Ugo Bardi, the man behind that awesome post and the reason I came here (his study of Peak Minerals), has disproven the idea that there is an EROI efficient/costeffective way of extracting uranium. Didn't mean to burst your low concentration-containing seawater bubble :).

Unfortunately Ugo was not searching for the truth about uranium, he was trying to support his anti nuclear position. Ugo never answered the tough questions that went to the heart of his analysis.


Bubble intact.

Breeder reactors are not dying out. There is at least one country where they are in the process of being deployed by 2020. The current spasm of anti-nuclear hysteria in the west will be quickly forgotten when the fossil fuel pinch sets in. All the "concern" is from people who assume that their lifestyles do not depend on nuclear power. This delusion will get harder to maintain in the future.

My lifestyle depends on soil, wind, rain, and sunshine. It's called a farm, and the 300 or so acres of family farmland has the capacity to produce 70,000 bushels of corn, and at least 10-20 MW of nameplate wind capacity, and I can provide you with about 5MW of baseload power generation for total project upfront capital cost of less than what the *permitting & engineering* for a nuclear plant will take. (This is with ammonia production from wind energy, and using biomass (ethanol) & ammonia as fuel in a combustion engine)

As for delusions, when nuclear advocates can wake up to reality and indemnify/underwrite an insurance policy to cover any losses in the farm or energy production that result from radiological contamination, then we can talk.

"This delusion will get harder to maintain in the future." - Just like the delusion that humans are responsible or competent enough to harness nuclear energy has become harder to maintain over the last weeks?

dissident, the 'lifestyles' are the problem. The lifestyles are what need to be corrected. Nuclear energy simply allowed us to ignore this fact since about 1970, and allowed an increase of the baseload, thus creating a short term new normal. Especially US Americans have grown so spoiled and lazy that they actually believe each new years trinkets and baubles are required to be happy, while gulping down antidepressants by the ton (30% of the population last I checked, at least, probably more if you add in alcohol etc).

When I take commuter buses or trains, I don't see a single happy or even content looking person, not in the US anyway.

Really, we don't need to live on this new normal, we can live on another new normal. This notion that humans must consume more every year in order to exist is a bizarre idea, to put it mildly. The people who are building this new normal today don't talk about such ridiculous ideas, they are building it, and supporting it, so it's not a mystery to them, and it's real, since they are building it. Some people just can't change or adjust until society forces them to, others can look ahead and do things that may just create ways ahead that do not involve more destruction.

Maybe we'll need to change economic systems, by necessity, maybe we'll have to wait for the older generation to die so they stop obstructing the younger generation, who from what I see are quickly adapting to new ideas of how to live around our ecosystem.

By the way, great to see Germany demonstrate that there is still democracy active out there in the world, like Spain did after its terror train attacks, voted the guilty party out of office a few days later and dealt with the new realities.

Moving towards renewables will only happen when we have to do it, it's not easy and will almost certainly require a reduction in consumption, but luckily we are getting a good preview in Japan of the costs of not doing so.

It's not 'hysteria', it's 'intelligent and profound concern', which is being counteracted by pro-nuke spin of the most absurd and aggressive nature. Given the fact that nukes don't exist without their true costs being socialized, the social body has the full right, and responsibility, to direct those resources towards thing that do not have the potential of destroying or contaminating that same social body for monstrous amounts of time.

Labeling this is 'hysteria' is somewhat disgusting, there is an entire nation at risk, here, now, because of the failure to critically examine the true dangers and risks of running these power systems that are almost impossible to maintain under even the semblance of control.

What are you supposed to be a dissident of anyway? Looks to me like you're just advocating BAU in your posting, that doesn't strike me as a particularly dissident viewpoint. Generally the term dissident is used to indicate a strong principled opposition to the status quo. The status quo, in our case, would be ongoing destruction of the ecosystem via dependency on consuming raw materials and non-renewable fuel sources. Why not change your nick to be more accurate?

Hear hear! Well said.

It isn't the lifestyles, it's the sheer number of people.

It's both.

"When I take commuter buses or trains, I don't see a single happy or even content looking person, not in the US anyway." - h2

I'm sorry that you didn't see me on the train, fellow traveller. I'm certain that I was displaying a content smile.

All the "concern" is from people who assume that their lifestyles do not depend on nuclear power. This delusion will get harder to maintain in the future.


The promise of breeder reactor technology is dying

Because, like the League of Nations, it never worked as hyped.

At least Canada was willing to admit it and didn't turn on their medical isotope reactor when it failed to meet the design criteria.

As usual the devil is in the details. There are faults, and then there are FAULTS. Slip faults don't generate 9.0 earthquakes and large tsunamis. The nearest subduction faults to South Carolina are a long ways away.

So now we are getting oh no it's on a fault. Well the fact is no place on earth is far from some kind of fault.

It really doesn't have much to do with risk until you get into the details.

Radiation dose chart

Looks big, but size is 'only' 89k and will end up in cache at first load .... but it may help to put radiation into some sort of context. Credentials below.

What would be the dosage difference between say, buying a bag of contaminated spinach, sitting next to it on your drive home, thinking hard about it and then throwing it in the dumpster versus eating that spinach?

In the latter case, the rats in the dumpster would be exposed to radiation that would otherwise have been avoided. Further, since this scenario entails the actual ingestion of radioactive isotopes, as opposed to brief exposure to alpha or beta radiation from passing spinach, the risks would be somewhat higher.

It is likely, however, that levels would be in the relatively safe zones of the "blue chart," but we can't be certain, because rats and spinach aren't specifically covered.

Don't we have to consider WHAT the radioactive isotope is that's involved? Let's say the same size particle of Iodine versus Cesium. Will the hourly external rate for the same size particle of the more dangerous Cesium be greater...or is it just that if you put that Spinach in a picture frame on your nightstand, the iodine would die off in a few more days BUT the Cesium would continue dosing you for the rest of your life...?

And if you ate it and the particle passed through you, was excreted and progressed along into the public sewage system and away from you, would it really matter what isotope it was...? Or do you break down, absorb and retain the isotope in some manner...?

Iodine & caesium are both readily absorbed by the body.

These two isotopes caused & to this day are still causing the majority of cancers in the Chernobyl explosion.

Iodine 131 causes Thyroid cancer which is treated by removing the thyroid gland and putting the patient on thyroid replacing hormone treatment for the rest of their life. The scar from the thyroid removal surgery is called the Chernobyl Necklace in the regions surrounding Chernobyl.

Caesium is not able to be distinguished from potassium by the body & is readily absorbed. Strontium is also absorbed by the body which confuses it for calcium. This just gets better & better doesn't it?

Cesium's Genetic Assault: the 300 Years War

Cesium-137 contamination is probably Chernobyl's most devastating and ominous consequence. The body can't distinguish cesium from potassium, so it's taken up by our cells and becomes an internal source of radiation. Cesium-137 is a gamma emitter and its half-life of 30 years means that it stays in the soil, to concentrate in the food chain, for over 300 years. While iodine-131 remains radioactive for six weeks, cesium-137 stays in the body for decades, concentrating in muscle where it irradiates muscle cells and nearby organs.[16]

Strontium-90 is also long-lived and, because it resembles calcium, is permanently incorporated into bone tissue where it may lead to leukemia.

The Soviets acknowledged in 1986 that the influence of cesium-137 on cancer death rates would be nine times that of iodine-131. They said that the effects of strontium-90 would "perhaps have, along with cesium-137, the most important meaning."[17]

From http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Chernobyl/Chernobyl@10p2.html#fn16

When this information gets to be disseminated in Tokyo that city could become the worlds biggest Ghost Town.

And as for the Radiation Dose Chart above, the MSM & the Nuclear Lobby are happy to confuse "Radiation" with "Radioactive Particle"

The average Joe doesn't know the difference. Charts like this when published by the MSM give a false impression of the nuclear nightmare of radioactive particle leakage.

Not trying to infer that paal myrtvedt is trying to confuse the issue. But time & time again when I talk to friends about the difference the ignorance is astounding even in well educated friends like lawyers, journalists, etc.

Not trying to infer that ...

The standard narrative in theoretical physics has been for many years that there is something called 'the wave-particle duality'. As an aging professional physicist, I claim that the actual state of knowledge among the professionals is confusing.

If we aspire to an ideal of informed consent of the citizenry in matters of public policy, that aspiration alone should justify rejecting nuclear power. One cannot give informed consent to that which one cannot understand.

This same line of reasoning might also be usefully applied to finance and fractional banking. Although in the case of finance there is an element of intentional fraud and deliberate obfuscation.

Thank you for this important point about "informed consent"! If something is terribly complex, then one has, I think, probably 3 options. Trust the "expert" - but which one? Trust your own brain - but how will I know when I'm no longer competent to process the info sufficiently? And the final option is something I'd call the garbage heap of denial, no longer caring, or passive-aggressive refusal.

But basically, I like your point. Indeed it's so important that it merits much more discussion. You point out the importance of honesty in the mix. As well as the importance of info being understandable, either because the process is not terribly complex or because it's capable of being explained in such a way that people do more than recall they had an explanation of it once upon a time.

If only points such as yours were taken into account across the board. I'd put medical decisions up there too.

If we aspire to an ideal of informed consent of the citizenry in matters of public policy, that aspiration alone should justify rejecting nuclear power. One cannot give informed consent to that which one cannot understand.

This logic dooms us as a civilization.

No citizen, not even the best informed, can possibly understand every element of his civilization in order to provide consent. I know a lot about power plants, computers, and industrial processes, but there are other technologies, such as medical devices, economics and financial systems about which I'm pretty ignorant. These technologies might be just as dangerous as nuclear power, but I can't say for sure.

Your logic implies that we cannot take any action unless everyone is well informed, but gives us no way forward if people refuse to be informed, or just don't care enough to learn. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. The public *could* understand nuclear power if they wanted to, but physics is hard work, and Dancing with the Stars is on.

Civilization is made possible by the existence of experts. The general public must know enough about the issues to be able to vet the experts, and the experts must have access to all the information needed to make an informed judgement.

But to demand that everyone know everything about everything before we do anything lets us do nothing at all.

goodmanj: Wasn't it Will Rogers who said " Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."

Thanks for this wotfigo. There is a big difference between whole body doses of gamma radiation, and internal emitters (which are dangerous when they are inside the body, and whose radiation doesn't penetrate the skin). This is why the workers are wearing tyvek suits and respirators. At this stage in the crisis, and with plutonium discovered on the site, they really need to be doing quite a bit more.

That health care practices can now effectively treat many cancers that show up 5-60 years after initial exposure (and that evacuations zones are effective in protecting populations from health impacts of higher than background levels of radiation) seems hardly to be a relevant point in minimizing the risk of exposure to fission products that have not remained within containment systems at a nuclear facility. The job of any nuclear engineer is to keep this stuff contained within the power plant, and not spread it out finely over sea, land, farms and cities so that it may generate health concerns, and require mitigation efforts in the form of exclusion zones for next 30 to 300 years.

The average Joe doesn't know the difference.

I'll bite. What's the difference?

Nuclear radiation is the emission from the decay of a radioactive particle. The following things are nuclear radiation:
alpha particle (α) = high speed helium nucleus
beta particle (β) = high speed electron
gamma radiation = high energy electromagnetic radiation
high speed neutron

A radioactive particle is an unstable atom or molecule containing at least one unstable atom. These can accumulate in the environment, in food and inside people.

The unit Becquerel measures the number of radioactive particles emitted per second. For example, if there are .026 Bq / m3 of Iodine-131, then how many atoms of Iodine-131 are present in that area?

h = half-life of 131I = 8.040 days
t = elapsed time in days
D0 = .026 Bq / m3 = 2,246.4 decays / day / m3

D(t) = D0 .5(t/h)

The total number of atoms equals the sum of all the decays from time 0 to infinity:

∫ D(t) dt = ∫ D0 .5(t/h) dt
 0           0

Skipping the details of the mathematics, the answer is:
- D0 * h / ln(.5) = 26 thousand atoms of 131I / m3

Thanks! You're way better at that explanation than I am, so I'll be plagiarizing yours for the benefit of my non-techie friends.

Written by BlueTwilight:
The unit Becquerel measures the number of radioactive particles emitted per second.

I made a mistake here. It should be:

The unit Becquerel measures the number of nuclear radiation particles emitted per second.

Skipping the details of the mathematics, the answer is:

Oh come on it's nothing that your average 13 year old couldn't handle

But time & time again when I talk to friends about the difference the ignorance is astounding even in well educated friends like lawyers, journalists, etc.

I agree with geek7. :)

And apart from that, I have my own theory of this ignorance you mentioned. I did actually observe this many times and I think I figured it out how it works. :))

You see, it's not particularly ignorance. And as you mentioned yourself, those friends of yours were lawyers, journalists, etc. The thing is, these people, they might be very intelligent, have very high education, but they are wired differently than you. They have hard time to understand the essence of what you are trying to tell them. They are good in their field, but are not so good in yours and for them it all might be just noise.

I was explaining some astronomical stuff to a friend of mine (he is great in engineering!), because he had this belief of his that wasn't fully correct. So I took the time, explained him stuff, making sure that he understands it and that he now knows how things really are. Fine, I thought myself, finally a little victory. :D

Sadly, in a few days I caught him spreading his old concepts again, and I asked him politely:
- Steve.. Do you remember what I told you just few days ago?
- Uh... oh... sorry, I forgot... :((( How was it again..?

He just plainly wasn't wired that way that he could really understand. Astronomy was way out of his field of interest and he had no... I'm trying to find the right words to describe it... He had no deep connection with it.

Sooo, I think people might understand the difference at the time you are explaining it to them, even find it logical and whatnot, but they soon forget the details and are back to their old [mis]conceptions.
As they say, old habits die hard. :))

It's incredibly difficult to create change in people's beliefs and habits, even when you're trying to do it on a purely intellectual level, with someone who probably considers himself a fact-based person. Good for you for keeping at it, though, and for being pretty compassionate about the guy's difficulty in hanging onto the new ideas in a meaningful way.

Now, when you hear your friend telling somebody what you told him and passing it off as his own long-held position without giving you any credit, that's when you'll know you've succeeded! So it goes...

The reason it is near impossible to alter another's view is that to do so would cause them to lose their identity.

We humans observe and incorporate 'stories' from the culture at large, religion, and our particular upbringing. These stories, or social memes, define who we are. They are honed and repeated, and reinforced by those around us who share stories in common.

If these narratives are threatened, no matter how logical the evidence, the resultant required change in thinking causes the individual to loose their sense of self. The auto-response is to revert to the comfort zone of our favorite story, the self.

It's true--people do have a hard time finding themselves in the "new" picture--hence the reversion to the old one.

This is why I sometimes cringe when people talk about how we're all gonna need to change our lifestyles and embrace austerity in response to overpopulation or the upcoming fuel crisis...I just don't see myself in that line of tired grey people working grimly for a better tomorrow. (So, like many of us, I hum and haw for a bit, make a couple of changes on the periphery, then go back to my deeply shallow life.)

It would be good if the post-peak life could be presented as a little more...fun.

It would be good if the post-peak life could be presented as a little more...fun.


Greetings Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage

You have likely heard about, are interested in, or have questions about BCA’s April encouragement campaign “Freeze My Keys”. We hope so!! Because we are knee deep into organizing this event.

What is Freeze My Keys? And, why is the BCA board organizing such an event?

Freeze My Keys is a month-long event designed to give you two options:
Option 1—encourages you to freeze your keys (in the literal sense) for April and not use your car;
Option 2—if you are like most of us “freeze”(in the surreal sense) your keys for a couple of hours, days or weeks and turf as many commuter errands or trips to your bicycle as possible.

Freeze My Keys is designed with the support of a number of small, local businesses that you most likely already visit. These business have made micro-donations ($100) to help purchase locally produced and available, participation prizes. You will accumulate points by visiting these business.

To find out more information visit http://bicycleanchorage.org/wordpress/2011/03/24/freeze-my-keys/

Here’s some teaser information to satisfy your curiosity:

What: Freeze My Keys, two grand prizes and and many participant prizes;
Woman grand prize for Option 1— $500 gift certificate to The Sport Shop
Man grand prize for Option 2— we need a business to offer something of equivalent value
Price: free!
When: April 1-May 1, 2011
Why: Encourage more bicycle commuting
Who: Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage
Kick off party: Friday, April 1 5:45-6:15 at Bike First Friday. Meet at Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge (midtown).
Register: Send an email to ****** In the subject field type “freezemykeys”. On March 31 your scorecard will electronically be sent to you. Scorecard is still in development phase as we wait for businesses to sign up. For those of you who want to imagine what the card looks like, imagine a bingo card with about 70 different business and commuter locations that you typically need or want to visit in a month.
Wrap-up celebration: grand prizes and participation prizes given out only at University Mall, May 6th 5:00-8:30pm during the Bike to Work Bike Festival.

Scorecard: On March 31 the scorecard will be electronically sent to all participants and participating businesses.
Local Businesses already committed: Doriola’s, Cafe Amsterdam, The Sport Shop, Bosco’s Comics, Organic Oasis, APU Spring Creek Farm, Denali Dreams Soap Company, Dos Manos. Please visit them to say “thank you”.

Integrating Chickens Workshop

Chickens can be a lot of work, or they can work for you! In addition to fresh eggs, they can eat your slugs, till your soil and fertilize your garden. Find out how chickens can be integrated into your backyard garden using permaculture principles tried and tested right here in Anchorage.

Red Edge Design is hosting this backyard chicken workshop on Saturday, April 2nd from 9am to noon at the Williams Street Farmhouse in mid-town Anchorage. Space is limited. Call ****

And don't forget, if you are a chicken owner, or care about building local, healthy food systems that connect you to your neighbors, then please take a few minutes to contact your representatives on the Anchorage Assembly in favor of making backyard pets legal in Anchorage. Click here *****

The final destination is a given. It's a journey, might as well enjoy the ride.

Boy, that one deserves the tagline from that Cartoon about Global Warming..

"But what if it's all a hoax and we make a better world for Nothing?!"


Thank you!

Now, when you hear your friend telling somebody what you told him and passing it off as his own long-held position without giving you any credit, that's when you'll know you've succeeded! So it goes...

My mom does that. :D
I'm explaining her things, while she has this... interesting look on her face, expressing something like: "yeaaah, riiiiight, and the Earth is flat!" or sometimes she just listens, because she has me in high regard, so it's polite to do so, or sumthin... :oP

Then time goes by and after a few weeks she tells me these "news" she has just found out and of course, it's what I had told her back then. But now she is presenting it as her own idea. :D
I don't even try to remind her that it was actually me who told her about those stuffs, because she would insist: "No way! I probably heard that on the radio."
Once I tried, it was a no-go. :))

But then again, I'm always glad when she changes her mind like that. :)

PS: I just wanted to say, I agree. :)


I am curious. What was his wrong idea, and what is the right idea?

His personal experience was, that the Moon is always up only through the night. Yes, it's a popular "myth", I concede, and quite romantic one at that - Sun goes down, Moon goes up. Very easy. So I explained the whole stuff how Moon orbits the Earth and how it nears the Sun (seemingly, on the sky) it is pretty much out throughout the whole day. Here the "day" meaning the bright part of the day, of course. He seemed to get it. It's easy. Orbiting, "getting near" the Sun, that's why the eclipses happen now and then, so it's quite logical. And then, after some time, there he goes again with his "Sun goes down, Moon goes up" stuff. :))

But now, as I try to recall the situation... I think I was too slow to understand his reasons...
It's getting too personal, so I should probably stop writing and leave it as it is. :-S
Cuz, now I think it was his... um... how it's called in the US...? Pick-up line...? :-/
Poor Steve (not his real name, of course), he got busted in front of his potential victims... :(((

Now I feel bad about it... :(((((

Oookay, let's forget about it, shall we...? O:-)

On the other hand, I had to explain one person at least two times that light year (LY) is a length unit and not a duration unit. He kept saying that he won't get there in a light year...! *hmppppf!!!* :P

But...but...I thought a light year was how long it took light to get from there to here... ;-P

Eclipse! Good counter example.
You don't even need to go outside and point, which is fun children.

Sooo, I think people might understand the difference at the time you are explaining it to them, even find it logical and whatnot, but they soon forget the details and are back to their old [mis]conceptions.

I disagree! If you really understand a concept, even if the the intricacies of the details are not something that you are passionate about and after some time they become a bit fuzzy again, it is not possible to to go back to old misconceptions unless you are indeed ignorant. To be clear, I have met many highly intelligent educated individuals who were shockingly ignorant of science and mathematics and didn't seem to have much of an understanding of how at least a basic literacy in mathematics and physics and chemistry is absolutely necessary if one is to attempt to understand our universe. Disclaimer: I myself am just barely literate in these fields.

But in science, at least, either you get something or you don't. Perhaps in the softer disciplines such as law, literature, philosophy, economics and social sciences there are many acceptable interpretations and you can argue and convince someone with an opposing interpretation of your views and be declared victorious in the debate!

However, should you, say, decide to step off the edge of a tall building because you disagree with g = 9.81 m/s2 having an impact on the speed of your arrival at the sidewalk below, the fact is, that someone will still have to collect your crumpled remains... it won't change the inevitable reality of that final *SPLAT*!.

So while I will never be able to personally understand the intricacies of say QED, at least I'm able to understand that there exists a methodology, called the scientific method that if applied to any problem will allow those who apply it together with the necessary fluency in higher mathematics to be able to conceptualize and possibly convey that understanding to someone such as myself. Once that occurs I can't imagine how it would be possible to retreat into a non scientific misconception.

We must not run in the same crowds... ;^)

The same old scaremonkering crap. Yes, there were a lot of thyroid cancer cases but most of the victims recovered.

"Among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there had been up to the year 2005 more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades. Notwithstanding the influence of enhanced screening regimes, many of those cancers were most likely caused by radiation exposures shortly after the accident. Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure two decades after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure."

And why should NOT there be any major increases anyway:

"Average effective doses to those persons most affected by the accident were assessed to be about 120 mSv for 530,000 recovery operation workers, 30 mSv for 115,000 evacuated persons and 9 mSv during the first two decades after the accident to those who continued to reside in contaminated areas. (For comparison, the typical dose from a single computed tomography scan is 9 mSv). "

The limit is now set to 250 mSv total in Fukushima rescue workers.

"The ICRP bases its recommendations for protection of the public in radiation accidents on the LNT. These recommendations—the lifetime limits of 350 mSv and 150 mSv—were used by the Soviet decision-makers, even though they are lower by a factor of 4 to 40 than the natural lifetime doses in many countries of the world, which have been inhabited for thousands of years.

People who were evacuated in 1986, received an average, whole-body radiation dose of 20 mSv, and a dose to the thyroid (from iodine-131) of 470 mSv. Inhabitants of the most highly contaminated parts of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, where deposition of cesium-137 was higher than 555 kBq per m2, received the whole body doses of 47 mSv, 36 mSv, and 83 mSv, respectively. The average doses to the thyroid in the most contaminated regions were 177 mGy in the Gomel district (Belarus), 37 mGy in the Bryansk district (Russia), and 380 mGy in the 8 most contaminated districts of Ukraine."


I do not regard thyroid cancer as "scaremongering crap". FYI

Dear friends

Randall Munroe is openly pro-nuclear as are many of the people linking to his chart around the blogosphere (such as Mombiot) - as 'evidence' that "radiation levels" from the Fukushima accident should not be of significant concern.

Such charts and their language suggest to their audience that radiation is some invisible force floating around in the air - rather than actual physical particles of matter. Particles blown in to the wind, carried by water, deposited and finally bio-accumulated in the food chain. Finally inhaled or ingested these particles, depending on their chemistry, will give a completely different magnitude dose to their victim then any externally metered dosimetry of contamination might suggest.

From their ideological-trench with an ego-driven zeal these people have an interest in equating 'radiation' with only the external dose - all the while ignoring the far greater danger: contamination of the land and water - and the eventual ingestion or inhalation of radioisotopes by the population.

Putting it very bluntly: sitting next to a particular radioisotope for five minutes might be perfectly safe - put ingesting that same particle is lethal. It all depends on it's chemistry: what does it do in the body, its half-life, type of decay, decay product decay and so on... and energies of the decay elements.

Putting it even more bluntly: a radioisotope next to you needs to aim very precisely to hit you - a radioisotope INSIDE YOU is like trying to hit a barn - from inside the barn!

Further more, types of decay elements, specifically alpha-particles might not even reach you from the outside - being blocked by a layer of clothing for example. However inside you there is always something next to them to hit.

There is a reason why the FSB (the sequel to KGB) could use a highly radioactive polonium-210 isotope (with half-life of 138 days) for their political assassinations. As an alpha emitter it can be handled with great care in the field - as most alpha particles reach only the epidermis of exposed skin. However being given Polonium internally is quote a different matter:

The median lethal dose (LD50) for acute radiation exposure is generally about 4.5 Sv. The committed effective dose equivalent 210Po is 0.51 µSv/Bq if ingested, and 2.5 µSv/Bq if inhaled. Since 210Po has an activity of 166 TBq per gram (4,500 Ci/g)[37] (1 gram produces 166×1012 decays per second), a fatal 4.5 Sv (J/kg) dose can be caused by ingesting 8.8 MBq (238 microcuries, µCi), about 50 nanograms (ng), or inhaling 1.8 MBq (48 µCi), about 10 ng. One gram of 210Po could thus in theory poison 20 million people of whom 10 million would die. The actual toxicity of 210Po is lower than these estimates, because radiation exposure that is spread out over several weeks (the biological half-life of polonium in humans is 30 to 50 days) is somewhat less damaging than an instantaneous dose. It has been estimated that a median lethal dose of 210Po is 0.015 GBq (0.4 mCi), or 0.089 micrograms, still an extremely small amount.

The maximum allowable body burden for ingested 210Po is only 1.1 kBq (30 nCi), which is equivalent to a particle massing only 6.8 picograms. The maximum permissible workplace concentration of airborne 210Po is about 10 Bq/m3 (3 × 10−10 µCi/cm³).[44] The target organs for polonium in humans are the spleen and liver.[45] As the spleen (150 g) and the liver (1.3 to 3 kg) are much smaller than the rest of the body, if the polonium is concentrated in these vital organs, it is a greater threat to life than the dose which would be suffered (on average) by the whole body if it were spread evenly throughout the body, in the same way as caesium. (Wikipedia: Polonium)

These kinds of figures are true for ANY radioisotope of sufficient activity - one needs only to convert them to dose rates according to their energy, decay type, bio-availability and longevity in the body factors.

However do the Randall Monroes of the internet have an interest in providing the public with such "general education"? Apparently not.

Instead they smugly announce their superiority over any "scaremongering ignoramus" who would like to know actual facts about radioactive fallout instead of fooling themselves with these external dose charts.

Their favorite distraction tactic currently is arguing over the interpretation of various studies and publications related to the Chernobyl incident as well as nuclear industry's and military's own studies on their own exposed personnel. Distractions because for any honestly thinking individual it is self-evident that some fallout somewhere will be dangerous - and some contamination will travel to humans eventually - it is a question of scale, factors and physical quantities which can be calculated and charted.

Arguing over the epidemiological and statistical methodologies used in measuring such exposure was the tobacco industry's great triumph - which was/is closely tied to the nuclear lobby. Cancer rates are especially nice subject to waste peoples time since pretty much anything these days causes various cancers and any increases in target populations can be buried under the statistical uncertainties - which can be made so high as to hide just about anything. For those who get sick, the only comfort then is to know that their sickness cannot be traced to any specific source. Convenient for everyone, except the victims.

There are a bunch of these people here on TOD too. I refuse to argue with them since even as they manage to quote various experts - even sometimes link to studies - their angle and attitude is always suspect. Their track record proves they are not honest: they just want people to shut up! "Here see this study, how it shows there is no danger, please stop thinking and go away".

Well I'm not going to. Instead I will keep posting these messages to each and every blog and list on the net so that people can start to recognize the lies and misinformation they are being fed. And demand that we are given the real facts about the contamination levels, types of isotopes, and their chemical and biological factors - honestly - and without the spin and smugness - which is always highly suspect where ever it is being shown.

(hint: a really clever pro-nuclear shill would portray himself as concerned about the dangers as his audience - and talk to them in their own language - all the while feeding them charts and statistics which on closer examination showed that nuclear was all safe and harmless - well, waiting to see one those... might take a long time though)

PS: These people are not (necessarily) paid shills - certainly not Mombiot for example, whom I know from my previous life in the UK - these are mostly people very much convinced about their conviction - and the ignorance of others. Over the peaceful accident free years, they have dug themselves into a deep pro-nuclear fox-hole of smugness which their ego now refuses to vacate. The level of self-delusion and the hostility towards the doubters is directly proportional to their desperation. But for those who openly question or admit doubt to their earlier pro-nuclear stance - I commend. They have managed to get out of the trenches with us to find something better. Let's not get too distracted by those we leave behind. They will follow us eventually, like happened with the climate issue. Honesty will prevail.

Sincerely to my fellow travelers

- Ransu

PPS: for those who doubt my sincerity - no i am not just another couch commentator - I've actually visited Japan many times - prayed in Hiroshima - and now I'm having to comfort friends there who were just about to start a farming business (a rare occurrence for young couple in Japan) - all the while I work in a military physics lab back here...

This is kind of a spin-off from your excellent and respectful letter to anyone reading here.

To me the key is not just where a person "stands" in terms of their attitudes, preferences, or views but how honest they are about any agenda and how respectful they are to others. Thus someone can present info, even info we might disagree with, in a way that is not provocative or sarcastic or hostile and we might be able to have a useful conversation. Respect for others and honesty thus contribute to a positive experience for all.

For whatever reason, however, nuclear power almost takes on messianic or religious overtones. So that promoters or even detractors can sound like a gospel revival tent meeting. We need to all be vigilant over ourselves - and actually most of us are patient and respectful. Hard as that may be at times.

My last point is that something like nuclear power becomes a source of division because we can't all pick up and move to a place that either has it or doesn't have it. Plus, we are stuck with the results of decisions made already. As h2 said already on this thread, it relates to "lifestyle":


We are stuck here on this planet. Stuck here together. To the degree we work for the good of all of us, not just today but for future generations, we can find peace and fulfillment, I think. This is not just about how we get electricity. It is about civil discourse and civic trust, personal fulfillment in the context of social, economic, (and I would add spiritual) well-being.

To me the key is not just where a person "stands" in terms of their attitudes, preferences, or views but how honest they are about any agenda and how respectful they are to others.

And on that note, after years of reading Randall Munroe's work I have found him honest, respectful, and accurately informative in every regard. He may have his own goals, but his primary agenda is clearly to inform and entertain. Ransu's post, on the other hand is hostile, dehumanizing, and politicizing, with the primary agenda to attack an opponent's ideology, and a secondary goal to inform.

The chart's stated goal is to clear up confusion regarding external radiation doses reported in the media: this is why the chart talks mainly about external radiation doses. The authors (Randall Munroe and Ellen McManis) include a link for more information, which includes information on calculating internal radiation doses -- more detailed and useful information than Ransu provides.

While the authors of the XKCD chart may be pro-nuclear, to suggest that they are deliberately deceiving the reader to promote their agenda is ridiculous.

The chart itself is not deceptive, but the way it is often used in a discussion of the dangers due to a nuclear disaster without qualifying it by mentioning other issues is. It focuses on specific radiation doses, ignoring contamination and ingestion of radioactive isotopes as a major aspect of the danger of nuclear power, as well as ignoring the problem of sustained doses. Now, perhaps the people posting this chart recognize the danger and don't care - maybe they smoke 2 packs a day too, and plan on homesteading in the zone of alienation around the Chernobyl plant. However, when talking about the dangers of nuclear power, if you don't mention the possibility of a disaster leading to a zone of alienation and contaminated food and water, you're not telling the whole truth.

Of course, what's going on at that Fukushima I is on the far, scary end of the chart. So it is very instructive - perhaps it will help people realize the level of contamination on site and why they seem unable to do much.

Yes, the primary goal of my post was to try to expose the motives behind pushing the external dose angle. I also explained very briefly the reason why. As a fan of Munroe I was disturbed when he made that chart with things like "eating a banana" as amusing but highly suspect examples. I don't think he has 'an agenda' as such to push nuclear - but he has the ego-trench-foot that I described in my post that causes him take a certain point of view on the subject - in a way that makes him feel he is on the side of angels - a display which includes the external dose and not contamination.

Where his reference links lead to are an irrelevance to the purpose of the intended display. The link you provide actually leads to more of the same: a great explanation about external radiation - and at the bottom a small paragraph - almost an apology for ignoring the big issue. The paragraph in no way informs the reader about the effect - and eventually just links a large NRC regulation standard manual - urging the reader to do the math himself "if they want to know more". Great effort at informing indeed!

As for politizing the debate - I stand accused. As I explained, arguing the matter in the terms of the adversary with the motivation I described plays straight into their hands. Exposing their motive and methods is precisely what I was trying to do. Being quite specific about it. I wouldn't call it 'an agenda' since I was quite in-your-face about it.

I admit to being a bit over the top but it was late and I was very angry. Having just gone off the phone to my Japanese friends - I found myself in the absurd situation of having to carefully explain to them how it's not so bad as they fear - how there is still great uncertainty, very little actual data - and the effects of fallout need not be the end for their dreams - the wind pattern might not have hit their area - and even then there are ways to remediate the soil - or at least take into account the isotopes and their uptake by certain types of farming by certain types of plants.

Not speculating on the risks to them felt very dishonest - something I despise greatly when people do it to promote their pet preference of power generation. Not to mention accusing people of "fear mongering".

And yes, I could be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. I would greatly enjoy anyone's essay on how radioisotope fallout from this accident plays out in the soil and food chain. Or how to convert specific isotope concentrations in soil -> plant -> diet into ingested doses. Even just a chart or list of limits in grams or curie for the most commonly talked about isotopes: caesium, strontium etc. for internal doses for a start.

Anything but this pointless point-scoring exchange - with people who's interest in the subject is totally different from mine.

- Ransu

Kind of a long post. I think you are overreacting, but I could be wrong. Would you be happy if he added a disclaimer to his chart that said
WARNING: This chart deals only with the health consequences of external radiation to which you have been exposed. It does not assess the dangers of nuclear contamination, which is the potential inherent in some materials to emit radiation at some future time. This chart should not be used to assess the safety of radiation emitted from radioactive materials located inside the body.

Several of the sources in the chart are for radiation inside the body.


Thanks for taking the time ransu, that was very informative.

Putting it even more bluntly: a radioisotope next to you needs to aim very precisely to hit you - a radioisotope INSIDE YOU is like trying to hit a barn - from inside the barn!

If the barn if built out of builders mesh and it has a very small glass window that you need to chip and not break.


Putting it very bluntly: sitting next to a particular radioisotope for five minutes might be perfectly safe - put ingesting that same particle is lethal. It all depends on it's chemistry: what does it do in the body, its half-life, type of decay, decay product decay and so on... and energies of the decay elements.
These kinds of figures are true for ANY radioisotope of sufficient activity - one needs only to convert them to dose rates according to their energy, decay type, bio-availability and longevity in the body factors.

Which is exactly why Munroe gave figures in sieverts, a measure of the biological effect, rather than grays or becquerels.

FYI you can use height="180" width="380" parameters in the HTML img tag to resize. Or whatever numbers you like.

I'll try to keep that in mind, but since my resolution is 1920x1080 there is 'never' any problems in displaying the whole image.

Not everyone has the same monitor, and some of us want to have multiple windows visible at the same time, etc.

A good Internet rule of thumb is, never use an image wider than 800 pixels, unless the image is the only content on the page.

The dose chart above is HIGHLY misleading, as it makes no mention of INHALED doses or INGESTED doses.

The purpose of this kind of chart is to appease the public, and minimize the risk. The unstated assumption of this chart is that you will only ever be exposed to an external dose. This implies you will be living in a sealed hazmat/radiation suit with a self-contatined breathing supply 24/7, and will have absolutely no need to either eat or drink.

Talk about unstated assumptions!

Thanks for all replies- AND let it be clear :
I had no agendas at all in posting this chart. I just found it "informative" in a sense at first glance and felt it belonged in a Fukushima-post for discussion / enlightenment..

The ADDED enlightenments following this chart is making it all worth while as I see it - as the the discussion underscores the difference between EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL (INHALED) RADIATION.

Before 'Fukushima' I was sort of undecided on the topic of more atomic-power......... after 'Fukushima' I have a bad feeling towards the whole idea, b/c anyhow safe they make those things 'on paper' the reactors will still produce the same 'sh*t' inside those reactors ... and the Caveman of future has to keep an eye on those yet to be constructed longterm storage facilities and that is a grim outlook on their part.

And even prior to the Neo-Cavemen showing up for their Watch, we've still got many well-dressed and well-educated folk around today who wouldn't even shrug their shoulders at the thought of bombing 'someone else's' lands that happen to have reactors on them. (Iran's nascent plans as both giver and receiver come to mind) ..

This series of Fukushima threads, along with the Libya/N.Africa situation has really nailed that point home to me this month.

In other words, 'the stone age is alive and well.. we just use fancier stones'

Tens of thousands of Japanese farmers and fishermen from areas closest to a stricken nuclear power plant are starting to face a dire possibility: they may never go home.
. . .
Each bit of bad news fans alarm in Japan and beyond but the anguish strikes much closer to home for the more than 200,000 people who live near the plant.

"These lands have come from their ancestors, and their affection for it is enormous," said Tom Honda, 36, a member of the Fukushima Assembly.

"The first step is to actually tell these refugees that they can't go back but people are not facing that reality yet," Honda said.


This seems to be the big unanswered question to me: what land is already contaminated to the point of being unusable, and how much will be in the end? What will be the size and shape of the exclusion zone?

I think the reason it's unanswered as of yet is because it's unanswerable so far. If the wind shifts for a week, the shape of the endangered zone may change substantially. Until contamination stops spewing from these reactors, the end result is unknown. But at the very least, it should be acknowledged that within the 30km zone, people will have to leave and they won't be going back. That's 200,000 people, a very serious number. Sadly, it appears the government is unwilling to talk about this seriously. Nobody wants to admit their will be a basically permanent involuntary park ala Chernobyl zone of alienation. They might as well suck it up soon, though, because they will have to eventually.

The specter of Tokyo being contaminated is the real kicker, and probably keeping the government and TEPCO people awake at night even more than the idea of 200,000 people becoming internal refugees on top of how many already are due to the quake and tsunami. Ultimately, until the reactors are sealed off and the spread of contamination stops, the situation is up in the air. Unfortunatly, it's increasingly clear that they have no idea how to stop the process and isolate the reactors.

"The first step is to actually tell these refugees that they can't go back but people are not facing that reality yet,"

A few are facing reality:

...the disaster claimed another life. A 64-year-old Fukushima farmer hanged himself last week after saying “our vegetables are no good anymore.”


Hysterical radiation deniers will not count this man's death as related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Did he die of radiation, or the fear of radiation?

Who's hysterical here?

Please stop the talk of hysteria.
The man died, killed himself, because his work, his life was destroyed, and he saw no future for himself. Like men jumped out of buildings on Wall Street in 1929.
If you don't accept the idea that the disaster was responsible for his death, just say that. That other factors or actions would have led to a different result. If you don't think that a nuclear plant accident should cause anyone to give up, just say that.

Or did he die because of milk and spinach being found as contaminated and as such, nobody wanted to buy/eat them?

Would you eat some spinach from 12-mile Fukushima exclusion zone, r4ndom..?

Can he be, without labeling me as being hysterical here, categorized as "indirect victim of radiation"?

These were all rhetorical questions, but feel free to answer them. ;)

If you would eat contaminated spinach, then you're a brave man (and you have my respect), you are walking your talk and we, not willing to eat it, are all hysterical sissies. :P

Somebody commits suicide, and fearmongers are in a rush to exploit their personal tragedy to their own ends.

You are selling fear.

I'm not buying it, and I want to make it clear to others that it is what you are doing.

It was exactly the fear of the consequences that you describe above that caused his suicide. Those consequences are not yet concrete so it wasn't the actuality of them, but the fear of them.

And that is a mighty powerful fear if a man is willing to end his own life over it.

OK. I understand. You are saying that if your spinach gets tainted by radioactivity, you are willing to eat it. :)

Fine. Thanks for answering my questions. :)

Depends on how tainted it is.

It would be pulled from the market long before it would be actually unsafe to eat.

You should check the story in Ramsar, Iran, the levels are far worst (100 mSv/year) and people didn't wanted to leave.

I can't say the radiation destroyed their lives. Why that disaster did so?

It's like generalising capitalism on the behalf of 1929. It may be part of the cause, but capitalism is not the sole responsible.

P.S. I would certainly eat Japanesse food on the premise they would cost 0$, being all dumped as garbage. (take KI tablets if you are unsure, use you geiger, pff, all that food wasted)

This 50 year old technology has many deficiencies that will come out in future reports, but it has one system that intrigues me.

There is a high pressure injection pump that uses reactor steam to drive a small turbine that drives the pump. The pump takes cold water from the condensate storage tank and injects it into the reactor at high pressure. When the CST runs low they can take water from the torus. This system requires a small amount of battery power for instrumentation and control.

Reports indicate that these systems worked until the batteries died after 8 hours or the torus water became to hot to recirculate. You cannot suck boiling water up a soda straw; the vapor pressure of the hot water vapor locks the pump.

Designers could have included an alternator on the steam turbine. That would keep the batteries topped off continuously as long as it runs and provide power for plant instruments and lighting. They would only need to call in water trucks to fill the CST periodically. In the absence of fresh water they could go to sea water.

A better option than direct injection of sea water into the core would be to spray or flood the torus outer surface with sea water to absorb decay heat and recirculate clean water from inside the pressurized torus to the reactor.

The pressurized torus would be condensing steam at well above 100 C, like a pressurized car cooling system, maintaining sufficient pump suction head while providing high heat transfer to the seawater. Warm seawater could be returned to the sea without boiling to avoid a buildup of salt.

That system could run for a very long time. The fuel rod cladding integrity could be maintained keeping radiation levels low, preventing H2 buildup and keeping plant emissions negligible for an extended time without external power or fresh water.

I have likewise wondered if the steam-pump could be restarted. It would seem easier to cool the torus or other pools with a secondary loop (that had to have been considered in the original design for the steam pump mechanism???) than the pressure vessel itself.

Recirculating the reactor coolant would seem to be a key improvement. After that there is time to work on further improvements.

This 50 year old technology has many deficiencies that will come out in future reports,

Would that be the technology of how to cover up a manufacturing flaw?


Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. (6501) in 1974.

I am less concerned with it being 50 year old technology than that it was created so soon after the beginning of the atomic age. The old technology may well be an advantage as much of the controls will be low tech and electrical rather than high tech and electronic. As for the early design much information was probably not available to the designers and certainly a lot of knowledge has been gained in the subsequent years especially in the first 20 or 30 of the industry. It is worth noting how much the BWR changed with time.


It's something that needs thinking about, when we talk about more modern things being better, the main way things get better, is that things go wrong, at which point we observe the modes of failure and re-design round that problem. I don't know as we build enough, and enough fail for us to ever effectively improve the technology.

What is the plan regarding containing the radiation at the Fukushima plant?

I don't they have a plan at the moment, but I suspect quite soon the bull dozers and the cement mixers will be out.

Will Japan nationalize TEPCO? What would be implications of that?

I think the State certainly needs to take control of containment and clean up.

Given their debt levels how can Japan pay for business-as-usual rebuilding?

Once you get so far into debt, going that little bit further makes little difference. Don't forget the carnage from the tsunami.

If international governments/IMF support Japan, does this accelerate currency 'discovery'?

Japan lends money to IMF to lend to Japan?

As suggested in yesterdays thread, what does this imply for global supply chains?

I heard that Ford were offering cars in just 2 colours now - paint made in Japan. Supply chain issues will emerge in coming weeks as stocks and goods already in transit get used up.

What will be the psychological impact on the Japanese people?

The WHO report on Chernobyl suggested that many more died worrying about radiation than from radiation itself. They will have to deal with aftermath of tsunami, nuclaer disaster and potential accelerated financial decline. Huge impact on those affected directly. Less impact on those who are not.

What would happen if they announce a wider evacuation area - say 50x50 miles?

I think we are one explosion away from catastrophe. If they have to abandon site then who knows what may happen once they lose all control, e.g filling fuel ponds with water.

What does this mean for the future of nuclear? And future energy mix/social trajectories?

I am much less pro nuclear now than I was. If we see 50*50 mile+ exclusion zone in Japan, and the socio economic costs of that become known I think we see a moratorium on new nuclear build and widespread closure of old nuclear plants. Increase in demand for gas and coal.

The psychological impact on Japanese people? It's profound.

For a long time there was always not enough of everything. Food and fuel were scarce. I guess all through history, up until after WWII people were always worried about not having enough.

Then from post WW2 until the end of the bubble there was a big fun party. Then a sobering up, but still the true spectre of famine and want was not yet at hand.

But now it is. This spectre basically is known by almost everyone, by hearsay..."in the old days, we ate one sweet potato all day and that was it...we didn't have shoes....we carried down sticks from the mountains...."Everyone has heard these stories. Old buildings with their simplicity, cold temperatures, rustic appearance and lack of all sorts of amenities tell the story too.

I think this is a total shock to most people, but also it is the shock of recognition....the old "ghost of scarcity" of the past is haunting here again...."Here you are, we recognize you, we know you."

It is almost like a binary transformation---from a mentality based on "abundance" to one based on "scarcity" over night. Talk about a "discontinuity"!! But seriously, the austerity and the plainness of lifestyles and lack of attachment (perhaps through Buddhism) to material goods that some have here is helpful. People are reaching backwards to a past they have only read about and heard about. And they are trying to use this knowledge to help them get through a tough crisis.

Well the land that several countries have banned exports from amount to around 6% of Japans food requirements. Unfortunately, before this event Japan only produced 41% of its food requirements, so in effect its around 15% Of the countries farmland out of use, if other countries aren't overreacting. And that is before summer winds blow whatever is spewing from the reactors over the land. At the same time there are reports that Japanese exports have contracted by 25%, so less money to buy replacement food. None of this looks good

Beautifully worded, pi. I'm personally confident the Japanese will indeed draw strength from their traditions and mentality to handle the impact.

In respect to Japanese economic prospects, I suggest that yesterdays "The Burning Platform" blog drscribes the situation very well in no uncertain terms, and without the sugar coating.

Quinn's one of the best, he shoild be on the blog list here at TOD.

Re: many more died worrying about radiation than from the radiation itself...

As in, being distracted while crossing a busy boulevard?

Stress from worrying about things you can do nothing about is a known health hazard.

Sorry, that's reaching. Yes Stress kills, but 'Fear of Radiation' has very clear foundations, it's not magical any more than the invisible power of the Atom is Magic.

And the last thing that people, already deeply traumatised by a huge earthquake, need is the fear of a nuclear plant meltdown.

Who needs Al Qaeda when our own technological follies are so much better at creating terror?

Who needs Al Qaeda when our own main stream media are so much better at creating terror?


Sigh. So in times of peril, we need to rein in the First Amendment. Echos of The Shock Doctrine.

Is there not some point about shouting 'fire' in a theatre not being covered? With rights come responsibilities. Should there be some reckoning of responsibility instead? Was it not Fox News that won the right to lie in news?


What if the theatre IS on fire?

Meh, just asking, forcibly if needed, for people to leave may be a better idea anyway, but enough of this.


Instead of shouting fire in the theater, the management is saying to the audience: ignore the smoke. It will do you no harm. We have the situation under control. Someone was smoking a cigar. Meanwhile people are falling unconscious in their seats choking on fumes as the fire destroys a wall causing the flaming roof to collapse upon them.

I'd say that most of the damage from nuclear power is the equivalent to vodoo curses, which can *&^% well kill people who believe in them.

If it is a "known health hazard", we need to add those to the casualty count for nuclear.

Or add them to the casualty count for anti-nuclear activism.

Interesting. How to allocate the casualties equitably. I assume some people would worry more if nobody talked about it. That's the monkey wrench.

As in the highly insulting: your symptoms are all in your head, suck it up, move along, don't waste government funds and don't spoil our artificially minuscule Chernobyl radiation impact report.

It's probably all irrelevant now, but one has to wonder whether mixing commercial interests and nuclear power was/is such a good idea. Safety must never be compromised by commercial considerations, but in essence this is the entire point of commercial considerations, higher efficiency, a constant thriving to maximize profits and cut costs.

As opposed to Chernobyl, run completely by the state? Neither governments nor corporations are very good at assessing low-risk, high-damage situations. And that's because humans are bad at it in general.

There is an inherent disconnect between the corporate time frame and the nuclear time scale. I worked for many years in corporations that lived and died by their quarterly results, while nuclear waste needs to be handled over a scale of centuries, basically many times the corporate life span.
So while governments are certainly imperfect too, at least a democracy like France has a government that will likely exist for many centuries and normally operates on a much longer time scale than a publicly traded corporation, that can change management or even cease to exist from the events of an afternoon's trading. If the corporation winks out due to normal capitalist creative destruction, the nuclear waste and contaminated areas do not wink out synchronously.
We are seeing this dynamic with Tepco, which will probably soon be bankrupt, or even non-existent, but that will have no impact on the physics of boiling pools of spent fuel rods.

The current French government is less than a century.

I cannot think of any modern government that is older than three centuries and most have had fairly disruptive events - civil wars, foreign invasions, large scale natural disasters, epidemicsm etc that may have made simultaneously handling a nuclear "event" quite challenging

While that may be the actual timeframe of many Governments, I'd say his point still applies, since governments and their identity is based in a strategic thinking of having long futures.. (even if simultaneously constrained tactically by the shorter periods of elections)

In either case, I don't trust humans with Nuclear Power as a widely spread out form of energy production. It's Held together about as long as NATO so far, and I'd argue for similar reasons, but what does that say really?

The French government denies there is any fallout from Chernobyl in France. The corporate and governmental indifference for human safety are indistinguishable when the public get in their way.

I should add that there are some really intelligent and informative posts around here that I for one am really grateful for and admire. Thank you.

I was thinking about Macondo impact on industry and one result was a new regulation called NTL-06. This regulation required exploration plan to include a blowout scenario description. The description would explain the worse case events and impact. Also, it requires explanation of remedial actions to be undertaken to remedy these events.

I was curious if nuclear industry has any regulations of this nature. If not, should there be discussions for such a regulation?

A problem I see in many industries is the proclivity to prove worse-case scenarios have a very low probability of occurring. And because of the low probability, resources for these low probability events are unnecessary. I would hope we have enough experience and history with nature, both environmental and human, to realize this proclivity of neglecting worse-case scenarios does more harm than good.

It's beginning to dawn on me that no sort of sophisticated engineering is of any avail if environmental *and* social stability are not taken into consideration. Imagine for a moment what this crisis would be like if there were concurrent civil disorder, political upheaval or an environmental catastrophe - or a state of war.

I brought that issue up - and was told that war's effects were so much worse, that the nuclear catastrophe was insignificant! NOT!

The fact that during a war the flow of diesel fuel to keep generators running at a shut down plant won't exist should bother some. Look what happens when the grid is shut off and there are no backups. Wars tend to shut down power grids, that seems to be one bombing objective.

Yes -- The vulnerability of these plants to disruption is amazing. Mindless brittle design stupidity.

A quick skim of history should bring to one's attention the fact that Business As Usual for civilization includes war. It's part of what we do, and has been entirely left out of the equation.

I expect that in the end, most of the 400-odd nuclear plants around the world that are not proactively shut down in the next few years will instead be 'decommissioned' by 500lb bombs -- the kind we have been raining on each other quite regularly since the mid-20th century. No need for bunker-busters when conventional dumb mayhem will do the trick.

The opportunity to turn a cheap conventional bomb into a WMD that permanently denies access to several hundred square miles of 'enemy' territory will not be overlooked by resource-strapped militaries fighting resource wars.

I wonder what kind of patchwork planet we are left with after 300 or so of these white white swans come in for their predictable landing?

"I wonder what kind of patchwork planet we are left with after 300 or so of these white white swans come in for their predictable landing?"

Hardly anyone will ever know, since those conventional bombs will likely fly togheter with their more powerful nuclear similars, and nobody will be able to tell what part of the disaster comes from what source.

I guess that is why they left wars out of their planning. In a big war we are all toasted, whatever they do.

A quick skim of history should bring to one's attention the fact that Business As Usual for civilization includes war. It's part of what we do, and has been entirely left out of the equation.

Indeed, and I think there's a reason why my generation (born in 1949) for many years turned a blind eye to to the possibility of war between nations that have nuclear reactors. We grew up with the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction, which we knew by the charmingly ironic acronym, MAD. On the surface, MAD is frighteningly apocalyptic (attractively apocalyptic to a few zealots), but once you get past that, there was the underlying reassurance that war between nations that possess nuclear arms (the MAD boys, if you will) had been abolished.

Initially, only the mad boys had nuclear reactors for power generation, and their nuclear power plants were protected by MAD. Of course that changed long ago, but by then nuclear power was BAU.

Now, with yet another undeniable piece of evidence that unacceptibly severe accidents do sometimes occur at nuclear power plants, it would be unthinkable to fail to add the possibility of intentional human actions, be they war or otherwise, into the equations when assessing the risks associated with nuclear power. Not just to decisions about whether to build new reactors, but also to keeping existing reactors in service.

This catastrophe happening has showed me that nuclear power plant have lots more failure modes that can be initiated by seemingly unrelated actions than I ever thought. On TOD we constantly hear people say that we're going to have resource wars over water, oil, etc., and an unreliable grid, but until now, it wasn't made clear that power lines being taken out during a war, for example, could initiate such a catastrophic failure in a nuclear power plant.

Once you have a war going on, you aren't going to have all the resources that you have at this moment, in Japan, even though they had the quake and tsunami. Bringing in diesel fuel, Fire trucks, line crews to re-build downed transmission lines, and so on, won't happen. It doesn't take a strike on the power plant itself, just the disruption of war and the power grid going down and poof! Instant nuclear mess.

What kind of idiot builds a power plant that self-destructs if it doesn't get power from another power plant? Not just for, say, an hour or two, but for years? Not only that, it creates a no-man's-land around itself!

Think India (20 reactors in 6 power plants) vs Pakistan (7 reactors in 3 power plants) over oil or water, or whatever else...

we kill ourselves
and everything else
over small molecules

H2C is acetylene. EDIT Oops. Its H2C2. My bad.

It's okay. He has a poetic chemistry license.

I've got my poetic license right here!
See? Thumbprint and everything.
Oh... A l l r i g h t . . .
Diesel is the 17 unit long polymer of CH2 monomer units. Or so.

Hi augjohnson,

re: "until now, it wasn't made clear that power lines being taken out during a war, for example, could initiate such a catastrophic failure in a nuclear power plant."

I was just wondering the same thing about the electrical input to nuclear plants and what's exactly required, and how long back-up systems are designed to operate.

For a particular grid blackout of say, long-term, are some of the following in the list of possibilities: dam failures (aging infrastructure), deliberate hacks, problem with internet leading to problem w. grid, lack of maintenance (finance problem?), storms, "mega-floods" (as in the one apparently coming to CA any decade now), interruptions in NG/coal supply (for plants that use those as inpu), and... perhaps solar flare? Just curious.

I was just wondering the same thing about the electrical input to nuclear plants and what's exactly required, and how long back-up systems are designed to operate.

I find this SciAm Youtube Video: The Earth Without Humans, especially ironic because of the nuclear power plant depicted in it shutting down and New York quickly flooding because the pumps no longer work... The consequences of that plant itself melting down are not even considered in their scenario.


The book "The World Without Us", by Alan Weisman, -- which I assume was the inspiration for that video -- does consider reactor meltdown.

But honestly, the world without us doesn't much care about reactor meltdown. For humans, a 10% increase(*) in cancer worldwide would be a horrific tragedy. But a natural ecosystem might not even notice.

(*) for example only.

Once the Macondo blowout had occurred the oil men knew what to do. They called up 2 rigs and started relief wells.

Once the Japanese reactors cooling failed the nuclean men......er......


I just realized that "environmental catastrophe* in that previous post was an unconscious irony.

Very high resolution images of the site taken by unmanned aircraft have now been shown on NHK. Anyone have a link to good quality versions of these images online?

This is the latest Japanese Defense Forces helicopter fly-by of the plant:


The unedited version (which has far greater detail) used to be located here, but was blocked on YouTube ("on copyright grounds," they describe).

No it wasn't that. This was extremely high resolution still images. NHK spent about ten minutes earlier showing the images with their resident expert highlighting areas of interest. They haven't repeated them that I've seen but said they were taken by a remote control plane (and showed a video of what looked like a toy radio controlled plane). Whatever it was, the images were like the satellite photos in scale of coverage but at very high resolution.

YouTube copyright blcoking is done automatically by a very poor algorithm. I had a cartoon I made blocked the same way.

If you can contact the original uploader, there is simple 5-click process they need to go through to get it unblocked (basically you tick a box saying 'no it is not copyright')

I could see it, using the link you marked "Used To Be Located Here". Pretty nice, but it is edited, sorry to say.
Is that a hole in the roof? Yes, turbine building 3.

Here's a link to the NHK's english site *describing* the photos, but not showing them. It's possible there may be a link forthcoming.


Could you repost this with some info so that members know this is not spam?

Thank you - Community Moderator

That's still no the high res images I am looking for. NHK showed them again but I still can't find them online anywhere. Described as being taken on the 20th and 24th March by remote controlled plane.

Yes, that's them. However still can't find links to the actual images.

Seems the spreading radioactivity is severely disrupting supply chains.
Looming Loss of Billions - Automobile industry is Setting up Contingency Plans (German)

A summary of the most important points:
The global automotive industry is bracing for the impacts of supply disruptions. Could lead to losses of billions. Shipping companies are avoiding the ports of Tokyo and Yokohama which handle 40% of Japan's container freight. Hongkong's OOCL announced on Friday they will reroute their ships to Osaka. If radiation is detected on one of their ships, they will face month of delays due to inspections. A Japanese ship showed radiation in the Chinese port of Xiamen although it had kept at least 120km away from Fukushima at all times.

The infarction for supply chains is just a few days or weeks ahead. The first test will be a ship with 2,500 containers landing in Long Beach, CA on Friday. It's the first that set sails from Japan after the quake. It's arrival is a sign that the automobile factories in North America and Europe only have two weeks before the supply pipeline (from before the quake) is empty.

Japan is a premier source for car (consumer) electronics - 35% of the global market, chips are $7.3b annually. Top management in car companies is fearful since the lack of highly specialized parts from Japan could stop production. 20,000 individual parts are needed for a compact car alone. E.g. Hitachi Automotive produces 60% of the global supply of a part that measures air flow in motors. The factory north of Tokyo is now closed.

Merck produces the glossy pigment Xirallic 40km away from Fukushima. Production has been halted. Consequences: Chrysler has limited its retailers to ten colors. Ford eliminated some black and red tones.

Mayhem is brewing in the auto parts pipeline from Japan to the rest of the world. 40 suppliers of the three largest Japanese car companies have halted production due to quake damage, rolling blackouts, or radiation danger. Japan produces 13% of the world's cars. Toyota has closed 11 factories, Honda has 110 suppliers in the quake area, ten of them can't say when they will restart production.

According to iSuppli, if the affected suppliers can't restart production within six weeks then a third of production could be cut in the worst case. "It would be very difficult for every big manufacturer to escape this disaster." says Michael Robinet of IHS. IHS has marked the calender at the beginning of the third week in April. It could be the start of serious production delays.

Commerzbank analysts say if Japanese production closes down for a month it will reduce profits of European manufacturers by 2.4b Euros; 22-30% loss of revenue or more. Production losses will become larger when the first factories in North America start closing down, i.e. when the pipeline is drained. The world has so far produced 320,000 cars less because of the Japanese disaster. Through the third week of April it could be 1.2 million. Half of the cars not built would be from factories outside of Japan.

Toyota has prepared staff in the US for production cuts. Honda says from April 1st production in Ohio, Alabama, Indiana, Canada and Mexico will be compromised. Subaru has eliminated a shift in Indiana. Nissan will fully produce till April 1st - what comes next is unknown. GM has stopped production in Louisiana and NY. Mazda is not taking orders of its US retailers for two of its Japanese plants. China could benefit from the crisis. Manufacturers could shift more of their production to China.

I'm wondering if Merrill would care to comment on this, in light of his opening round,

"The Daiichi nuclear installation disaster has no impact beyond the local area. "

I would concede a tiny amount of wiggle-room for your statement of 'It's effects will be limited'.. but not much. I think it affects all sorts of things that wouldn't be an issue if it had 'just' been a terrible EQ/Tsunami ... There would be shore-based support throughout that whole area right now, if there wasn't a very reasonably place 'exclusion zone', and considerable resistance by those not wanting their ships to later become glowing pariahs at other ports.

(Yes, I know they won't actually 'Glow'.. much. I hear that Dogfish can see them, though.)

At present the statement is still essentially true. Other shippers are calling normally at Japanese ports. Production halts are still due to tsunami damage in coastal cities, mostly north of the Daiichi reactors, due to earthquake damage inland over a wider area, and due to unreliable and limited electrical power over a much wider area of Japan. The latter is due mostly to the outage of other generating stations than Fukushima and it may be due to refinery and fossil fuel supplies.

The only critical component produced by a factory within the 30 km evacuation zone is the Merck auto paint pigment plant. The weight of products such as air flow sensors, fine adhesives, and IC wafers is such that it can be air freighted, and probably would be in order to fill emergency orders following the resumption of production.

Undoubtedly another factor is the loss of over 10,000 lives and the displacement of over 400,000 people from destroyed homes. BusinessInsider.com has an email from a worker at Daiichi which reads in part:

My parents were washed away by the tsunami and I still don’t know where they are. Normally I would rush to their house as soon as I could. But I can’t even enter the area because it is under an evacuation order. The Self-Defense Forces are not conducting a search there. I’m engaged in extremely tough work under this kind of mental condition…I can’t take this any more!

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/emails-from-workers-inside-the-fukushima-...

People in northern Japan are suffering from the reality of physical destruction, not theories about the spread of radioactive materials.

TEPCO restarts 1,000MW gas-fired unit at Japanese power plant

Japanese electric power supplier Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has resumed operations at the No 1 unit at its Higashi Ogishima thermal power plant in Kawasaki, Japan.
The damage caused by the 9.0-magnitude quake forced the company to shut down several nuclear and thermal power generating units with a total capacity of about 14,903MW.

The company is also trying to ease power shortages in Tokyo by restarting other generating units.

This appears to be the first of their FF plants to be brought back on line. It was restarted on 3/24 and then shut on 3/24 due to a leak. Restarted again on 3/28. It is on Tokyo Bay, so this will help the rolling blackout situation, which is also helped by warmer weather.

That's the beauty of radiation, no? It flows over them just the same, now at rates that are a considerable percentage of the Chernobyl disaster, but doesn't announce it self or cause any visible or audible trouble in the least.

'Essentially Still True' .. well that's adequate for the short-term forecast (of course, we're not just talking about the short term now, right?). It's giving us merely the weather, we need to understand the climate it will have to operate within.

For Merill, are you including restrictions on food exports to your list of local impacts? This is also increasing local demand, which leads to much higher prices in Japan. Over the course of many months to years, do you anticipate there will only be a low impact from this?

Food exports of some crops from some prefectures have been restricted. It is still local to the prefectures adjacent to Fukushima. The system of sampling, measurement, and restrictions needs to be improved.

Food safety inspections flawed / Critics say system inconsistent, inequitably applied, lacks oversight

Other countries are testing products from those prefectures, but it is unclear from the media whether much is being restricted as a consequence of high readings. There was a flurry of MSM commentary around 3/21, but this has since subsided.

There are at least 3 other Prefectures currently experiencing radiation levels above the food and water safety guidelines established by the government. Today, a storm offshore sent a short burst of wind out of the east moving radiation (and rain) once again back over land, but weather report looks good for next several days.

Report today on impact of food bans (from Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Australia, and many others) to local economy and area farms: "Japan depends heavily on foreign suppliers for most food, but up to 80 percent of all vegetables are locally grown. Fukushima’s 70,000 commercial farmers produce more than $2.4 billion worth of spinach, tomatoes, milk and other popular foods a year."

Any predictions on when this crisis will end, and if the weather be kind enough to keep this contamination (now including plutonium and some indication of a reactor breach) off shore.

Why am I not all that bummed out by the prospect of fewer cars being built?

Maybe there is something seriously wrong with your world view >;^)

Is it possible to use a liquified (gel form), boron-doped polymer to slow the super-critical process? Once the temperature stabilizes, the polymer would solidify and encapsulate the reactor internally.

I keep wondering if there are any stable particulates that could be flushed in with the cooling water to progressively clot up the leaks?

(Yes, sort of like a 'Junk Shot', or Innertube sealant..)

You mean like a tanker load of "Radiator Stop-Leak" :-)?

I suspect the holes we are dealing with are large enough that they would be tough to plug.

I'm not an expert but the H2O seems to be reactive; they need to gain control by disrupting the nuclear process.

Install a prefab poly(ethylene?) "box" around the building, fill it with boron doped poly-fluid. Probably need to circulate it, IF the vaulves and pumps are operational. Polyethelyne is realitvely light weight but I'm not sure if polyethelyne is the correct, non-reactive composite.

I'm not an expert but the H2O seems to be reactive; they need to gain control by disrupting the nuclear process.

Install a prefab poly(ethylene?) "box" around the building, fill it with boron doped poly-fluid. Probably need to circulate it, IF the vaulves and pumps are operational. Polyethelyne is realitvely light weight but I'm not sure if polyethelyne is the correct, non-reactive composite.

My understanding is that it is the
inexorable decay of the fission products
made within the fuel as it was used
that propels these dangerous aerosols
of low boiling point Iodine and Cesium
into the air.

Boron would be useful for stopping
a neutron-exchange reaction among fuel pellets: criticality.
Boron would not stop decay fissions within fuel pellets.

This is more like a tire fire.
A nuclear tire fire.
That smolders and smokes for a long time.

Many sources say it has produced vaporized contamination
of the same scale of magnitude
as Chernobyl
to date.
...But fukushima continues to spew
past this date.

Speaking of Sprinfield and the Simpsons (w/video)

Networks Across Europe Are Pulling "Simpsons" Episodes With Nuclear Energy Gags

Viewers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland won't be hearing much about the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant for the foreseeable future.

Television stations in those countries are pulling or editing episodes of "The Simpsons" that contain jokes about nuclear disasters or radiation effects.

Plastic (polyethylene) is a really good moderator. It is made out of hydrogen atoms and carbon atoms. Anything of low atomic weight is a good moderator tho boron will absorb neutrons and lithium will fission.

When beryllium is irradiated with alpha particles it produces neutrons. Or is it the other way around? Anyways, in the real world when they want a moderator they use graphite (carbon) or water (hydrogen).

When they want to not moderate the neutrons (a fast reactor) they use liquid metal for the coolant. Liquid sodium, liquid lead. There are folks here who like molten salt but I digress.

Anyways boson, the problem isn't that they have holes in the reactor (tho they don't help). The problem is that the daughter neucleides are radiactive so the reactor continues to produce heat so it will (has) melt through the bottom if not cooled. The problem isn't that water is a moderator because we believe there is no more fission taking place. Tho with the fuel melted in non-spec shape who's to say.

I was thinking of using the polyethelyne, not only as a moderator but also as an insulator. The rods in the pool will heat up again if exposed to air which could restart fissle (endothermic reaction) correct? As I understand it, the rods take months to cool down under normal conditions.

It's a two part problem, the reactor and the pools. If both can be insulated and brought to an ambient tempurature, the poly will harden. Then open a hole next to each of the inoperable reactors, slip them in and bury them.

Again, I'm not an expert in this kind of thing; just thinking outside the box, so to speak.

The temperature of the fuel doesn't make a difference as to whether fission occurs or not; in a nuclear weapon fission is still occurring for the few nanoseconds while the fuel is a small ball of superheated plutonium vapour at hundreds of thousands of degrees in the centre of the device.

Fuel pellets inside the fuel rods in a reactor typically reach a temperature of about 400 deg C when the reactor is running with nearly all of the energy (95% plus) coming from fission. The rest of the heat energy results from decay from fission products. That heat is conducted out through the fuel rod casing (made from a zirconium alloy) and transferred to the boiling water to make pressurised steam at about 300 deg C which drives turbines and makes electricity.

Fission was stopped in all the reactors when the control rods were fully inserted a few seconds after the earthquake was detected and several minutes before the tsunami hit the coast. What was left was decay heat from the fission products and that amount of energy, while only a small fraction of the thousands of thermal MW of energy in an operational reactor is easily enough to cause serious damage to the fuel elements and the reactor.

It takes a lot of heat to damage a fuel rod; I've seen figures that 700-800 deg C is required before the zirconium alloy casing starts to fail and split to the point where the fuel elements are exposed to the water and steam in the vessel. To actually melt down the fuel pellets requires much higher temperatures, typically over 2000 deg C and at that point the metal structures inside the reactor holding the fuel and control rods will also start to deform and melt. Substantial fuel element melting is very unlikely to have occurred at Fukushima given that fission was stopped several hours before the cooling systems failed and there is at least some water and steam coolant remaining in each reactor vessel. It is possible that small amounts of fuel did melt in rods protruding out of the top of the water in the vessel but the engineers won't know until they get into the reactor vessel with instruments and cameras and that probably won't happen for several years.

Once the rods are in a situation where the decay products alone can't raise their temperature above 700 deg C then they're never going to melt down. The decay products burn themselves out over time, the hottest going most quickly -- some decay products have half-lives of microseconds and are non-existent in a day, the most common ones like iodine-131 have half-lives of 8 days. The objective of the engineers right now appears to be to manage this decay heat process by adding coolant to keep the temperature stable at about 300 deg C; they don't want more oxyhdrogen explosions and the less coolant they add now the less they have to clean up afterwards.

Highest readings yet of iodine-131`reported today. Now over 3,300 times safe levels in the sea 300m from plant.

"Substantial fuel element melting is very unlikely to have occurred at Fukushima given that fission was stopped several hours before the cooling systems failed"

With respect Nojay, you don't know what you are talking about.

Have you read a press release from Tepco/IAEA in the last ten days?

What happened to the 140 Kcal/mole generated by highly exothermic zirconium oxidation?

Substantial fuel element melting is very unlikely to have occurred at Fukushima given that fission was stopped several hours before the cooling systems failed and there is at least some water and steam coolant remaining in each reactor vessel.

Physics pop quiz! Assume a 5 MW heat source is surrounded by a concrete cylinder 6 meters in diameter by 40 meters high, with walls 1 meter thick. If the thermal conductivity of concrete is 1.6 W/m-K, and the temperature outside the cylinder is 25°C, calculate the temperature inside the cylinder.

The answer is thousands of degrees C.

(The dimensions of the concrete drywell are just eyeball estimates, but prove the point nicely.)

You mean the equilibrium temperature, I assume? Obviously it's a function of time until then, with a long dwell at some fairly constant intermediate temp until the water all boils away.

But that's the point they should be trying to maintain, so it's really "equilibrium point sans water injection".

But if you cannot inject water but can spray the pressure vessel, you get a different intermediate temperature.

In the end, it all comes down to where you can make water go.

No, I meant ambient; equilibrium wouldn't experience changes when isolated from it's surroundings. In this instance, cooling of objects inside of the reactor/pools and building is necessary.

If they used gel-like, boron-doped polyethylene, the idea is to:

1) pump it into areas where it displaces/replaces water and insulates various object from one another, potentially allowing those object to cool down faster. Maybe add an external means (refrigeration) to help the poly set/harden/cool.

2) boron-doped polyethylene could absorb/trap neutrons - helping to cease any new fission reactions.

If no thermal reactions are able to occur because the internal objects are being insulated from one another, if it's buried - it will remain at ambient temperature - which will always, hopefully, be less than the temperature needed to produce fission.

Shrug, shrug.

Considering the 'worst case' news pitches are actual meltdowns based on the large radioactivity reports - the chemistry would have to deal with rather high heat and the effects of radioactivity on that chemistry.

And I'm guessing the radioactivity would be the killer on the boffins noddling that out.

Just for the record:
Any talk of using explosives of any sort at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor site demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the risk factors, the nature of the incident, and the effects of high explosives.

What I hear from the abundance of posts suggesting such is: "It's scary! Blow it up!"

This is even worse than: "It's scary! Bury it forever!" because it plays right into the real risk factors.

Agree. We got a lot of the same thing here during the Gulf oil spill.

If your answer involves explosives, you're asking the wrong question.(*)

* unless your question is "how can I spread tiny pieces of this thing all over the landscape?"

The problem is getting a bit clearer.
According to nuclear experts, steam is an efficient means to mobilize iodine and cesium emissions from damaged fuel rods.
The need to use as little water as possible to avoid rinsing out the damaged fuel from the reactors ensures ongoing steam generation.
The effect is that massive amounts of airborne cesium and iodine radio nucleotides are sent into the wind and out over the Pacific.
The crunch comes when the winds shift inland. Then the choice will be massive coastal water pollution from water cooling many tons of damaged nuclear fuel or massive and long lasting land pollution of central Japan.
The most promising option seems to be to bring in some large runoff storage capacity, perhaps some empty tankers, and pump the contaminated water into them. That would buy some time to cool the reactors further and maybe reduce the emissions.
However, this is well beyond the competence of TEPCO.
There needs to be a manager with real authority to make things happen before this becomes a Chernobyl plus event.

Wind the next days are mostly towards sea.
HOWEVER Wednesday afternoon and evening winds towards land, a few meters per second.
Light light rain possible.

So stay indoors Wednesday evening and night, up to some 50 km west, landside, of Fukushima plants.

Aren't we past Chernobyl in terms of total radiation released from Fukushima. This is the world record right?

I know it is a little early, but the die is cast.

No. Extrapolations based on limited data suggest that a few of the most-easily-released isotopes may be at Chernobyl levels.

But the release of other, less volatile isotopes is far lower than Chernobyl.


The die is not yet cast. The future of Fukushima plant is not yet determined. Folks might prognosticate, and their futures look near and bleak to me, that's another story.

While Chernobyl was sudden and explosive, the story of Fukushima is slow to unfold -- and far from told.

Chernobyl was an orange -- this is a peach.

Yes. And the Chernobyl orange was in a comparative backwater, while the Fukushima pear is in the midst of a densely-populated nation that is one of the key pieces of our global puzzle.

Just for starters: Evacuations from the area surrounding Fukushima Daiichi already effect more than twice as many people as the zone of alienation at Chernobyl. And they probably won't be going home any sooner.

If this slow-motion reactor wreck is still unfolding when the seasonal wind patterns change...


And not to forget that this (these 'several Peaches', spoiling against each other in the same basket) represents a potentially daunting percentage of their very limited landmass if the contamination is anything compared to the spread of Chernobyl.

The story of the farmer hanging himself now is very haunting.

(ADDED.. I have those scenes from Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro running through my mind, where the girls, Satzuki and Mai are eating 'lots of good fresh vegetables' with Grannie, and saving some to bring to their mom in the hospital to make her better. )

I mentioned this on the other thread, but it got closed shortly after that.

NHK last night interviewed a TEPCO nuclear official (he didn't sound like a bureaucrat or management type) who said the Pu found on the site was in two places, both fairly close to the administration building (the big one between Reactors 1-4 and Reactors 5-6), radiation strength at both sites at 0.54 Becquerels/kg. Three other sites tested were negative for Pu. He theorized that these Pu sources may have come from the old Soviet aboveground nuclear testing, since that level of radiation is typical of other sites found all across Japan.

We were watching it live so I don't have a link for that, sorry.

What he was likely saying was that it is possible that samples from 3 sites could have been fallout from nuclear bombs. However the quantity and plutonium isotope ratios at at least the two most worrying locations are indicative of reactor waste.

TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto told reporters that the levels of plutonium found from the samples are at a level seen in soil in a regular environmental setting. "It is not at a level that's harmful to human health," he assures the public. "Of the samples from five locations, we believe that there is a high possibility that at least two of them are directly linked with the current reactor accident."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations—spokesperson Denis Flory said that the detection of plutonium in soil samples around is something that is to be expected.
"It is a reactor-grade plutonium which is formed into the reactor as far as we can see," he said. "It means that there is degradation of the fuel, which is not news. We have been saying that consistently for so many days."

Would one of the spent fuel ponds be a likely suspect for where the Pu may have come from? They're not shielded and both 3 and 4 are in buildings that were heavily damaged by explosions/fires. An explosion or fire might have thrown isotopes all over the place.

A.Gundersen of Fariewinds (video above) says they found Pu in 5 locations. Didn't say (or know?) how many places they looked. He figured the Pu came from unit 4.

The quoted comments seem so emotionally bizarre. "Nothing new here."

*There needs to be a manager with real authority to make things happen before this becomes a Chernobyl plus event.*

I've read this morning that experts are on their way from France to advise. IMHO, they might have their brains picked, but it is unlikely that any more use will be made of them. It is obvious that the Japanese do not wish to see outsiders prying
into sensitive areas.

BS. The NRC has 250 people working on this. as testified in Congressional sub committee this morning. 11 in Japan


Ah, the NRC. I guess we can rest easy.

During the campaign in 2007, Barack Obama said the agency had become "captive of the industries that it regulates." That same year Joe Biden was asked what confidence he had in the NRC, and he responded: "None, none, none."

Ex-regulator flacking for nuke industry

"BS. The NRC has 250 people working on this"

Yeah, there are about a half dozen working the oil drum boards as we speak...

Map and analysis for the Pu sampling. Three of the five samples http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110328e... are showing old Pu, no surprise given the locations. Two of the samples are showing isotopic ratios indicative of the material's origin being fuel rods http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110328e... .

The one site showing fuel Pu is 0.5 km NW of no 1.

Interesting article of accidental radiation and humans:

"The conventional approach for radiation protection is based on the ICRP’s linear, no threshold (LNT) model of radiation carcinogenesis, which implies that ionizing radiation is always harmful, no matter how small the dose. But a different approach can be derived from the observed health effects of the serendipitous contamination of 1700 apartments in Taiwan with cobalt-60 (T1/2 = 5.3 y). This experience indicates that chronic exposure of the whole body to low-dose-rate radiation, even accumulated to a high annual dose, may be beneficial
to human health.

Approximately 10,000 people occupied these buildings and received an average radiation dose of 0.4 Sv, unknowingly, during a 9-20 year period. They did not suffer a higher incidence of cancer mortality, as the LNT theory would predict. On the contrary, the incidence of cancer deaths in this population was greatly reduced – to about 3 per cent of the incidence of spontaneous cancer death in the general Taiwan public. In addition, the incidence of congenital malformations was also reduced – to about 7 per cent of the incidence in the general public. These observations appear to be compatible with the radiation hormesis model."


Have taken a very cursory look at the article. Appears it has not been published.

Figure 1 looks extremely strange. A very small number of yearly cancer death in exposed population, still no (!) variation between years in number of deaths. This looks extremely strange, as if the curve was drawn according to some prespecified function, without random variation between years. Have never seen any data like these.

Here is a little bit more:


Figure 1: Thyroid cancer incidence per 100000.

How is that possible. The higher the dosage (but low enough), the less cancers? Two totally different studies.

Elm, there are several published examples of what looks like radiation hormesis. It is important to realize that human DNA is protected by a number of repair processes. Under some circumstances (long term low doses of gamma) some age groups (older) have apparently had these repair processes stimulated and experienced lower cancer rates during the time periods looked at (one or two decades). At this point there is not nearly enough published research to make conclusions about the Taiwanese incident, and certainly not about radioactive particles being ingested.


I have not read the arguments for the hormesis hypothetis in a very long time so I will refrain from having any opinion on that hypothetis. Maybe there could be such an effect - maybe not. However the study I commented on above seem to be a hoax. There is an extremely unlikely absence of random variation in the data. Furthemore the number of cancer deaths decrease with time - as the subjects get older. Most surprising. If this is correct the effect (hormesis) must be extremely strong. So strong it would seem unlikely it had not been proven without doubt already.

Is that how do you do science? Did you check the references in two minutes flat? Wow, you are fast! Or maybe not...


Why should I check the references I have only commented the data presented.

Shaky looking study, the major flaw is that they started with a cohort of clearly exposed people and then lumped them into a larger cohort of possibly exposed. A good method to dilute any effect. I also love how figure 1 has no labels on the axes. Also note that the paper is not peer reviewed. I wouldn't even bring this paper to a journal club for fear of being laughed out of the building...

Reading this more closely it seems they are claiming to be able to prevent cancer if the results are true. In fact it seems you can probably chain smoke cigarettes from birth to old age if you simply irradiate yourself everyday. This does not seem likely.


This so called study is crap. No chance this will be published in something remotely similar to what is now presented. To give you some examples. How is the cohort formed? They mention people living in these apartments where exposure occurred. But how have they actually traced those people/individual – what are the sources of information to establish residency for the actual period? (Maybe there could be some information in one or the other of publications in the reference list. If so unclear which. Since this is central information for a cohort study it should have been reiterated here.) How were deaths due to cancer traced, not a single word about this? The report state (Discussion): “the age distribution of the exposed population has not yet been determined”. How is it possible to have a cohort which you follow for health outcome (death) without knowing the identity of the individuals and hence the age distribution in the cohort?

Figure 1 has been mentioned above. Zeigerpuppy correctly notes that the information is so scarce it is hard to be completely sure on what it is showing. The only reasonable interpretation show data that actually are not just improbable (lack of random variation). Actually the data are impossible. Incidence of cancer death is reported as non-zero for 20 years, while in another table they state there was a total of 7 cancer death during these 20 years.

And so on. Actually, this report is on a level where it is hard to review because it is just not possible to comprehend according to normal epidemiological standards.

Elm it is at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477708/ so it has at least been published it seems.


But again I see no reference to the residents being exposed internally.


After entering a living mammal (such as a human being), most of the 60
27Co gets excreted in feces. A small amount is absorbed by the liver, the kidneys, and the bones, where the prolonged exposure to gamma radiation can cause cancer.

Another Cobalt-60 unexpected exposure.


In 2000, a disused radiotherapy head containing a 60
27Co source was reportedly stolen from an unsecured location in Bangkok, Thailand. Unaware of the dangers, some scrap collectors dismantled the head and extracted the source, which remained unprotected for a period of days at a junkyard. Ten people, including the scrap collectors and workers at the junkyard, were exposed to high levels of radiation and became ill. Three of the junkyard workers subsequently died as a result of their exposure, which was estimated to be over 6 Sv.

This research was not MADE by ecolo.org, they just published that research paper on their web site.

So who paid for this 'research'?

"Clean Nuclear" Catchy.

Timmy Tim Tim Tim...

"In 1989, a small capsule containing highly radioactive cesium-137 was found inside the concrete wall in an apartment building in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. It is believed that the capsule, originally a part of a measurement device, was lost sometime during late 1970s and ended up mixed with gravel used to construct that building in 1980. By the time the capsule was discovered, 6 residents of the building died from leukemia and 17 more received varying doses of radiation."

...How many banana equivalent units, (BEU) IS that?
(But ...you are perhaps some TOD regular having a joke, yes?)


*Yes -- The vulnerability of these plants to disruption is amazing. Mindless brittle design stupidity.*

I had a conversation in DC with a Congressional aide from an important committee in 1991, while the SU was collapsing. People in Washington were conscious of the possibilities for disruption and worse, and desperate expedients were being considered. Fast forward to any number of countries around the world.

We are in dire need of two abstract commodities: Political stability and honesty, neither one of which is obtainable without the other.

Two questions if you don't mind from newbie/non-expert (I am a workers' compensation attorney - totally as far from your field as you can get).

1) With regard to cementing, even assuming there is eventually enough time for cooling, how can they cement any of the buildings when the spent fuel rod pools are on the FOURTH floor of the building (stupid idea)? Wouldn't everything have to be on the ground floor to cement over it? They would have to demolish building, let spent fuel pool fall everywhere and then cement over it?

2) I read that they don't know for sure where the contaminated water is coming from (i.e., overflow from spent fuel rod pools or from reactor core). Wouldn't they be able to tell if the water tested is SALT water, and if so, that's clear indication of overflow from the hoses of sea water aimed at the pools? I could not read anywhere if this was fresh or seawater sample.

Thank you for taking your time, and I promise I won't bother you often with questions :) I love reading these discussions.

1) Cementing over is a stupid idea. A lot of ideas like this are voiced by people who simply do not understand. But some people also voice a stupid idea in the mistaken belief that it is obvious to the audience that it is stupid and not to be taken seriously. I have not read any ideas as to what to do that I think are a GOOD idea. In this situation it is very easy to criticise --- so many ideas are really really bad.

2) Taking samples and transporting them back to a laboratory for chemical analysis is very dangerous and probably involves a workman being willing to sacrifice his life. It may even involve sacrificing more then one worker because the first may trip and fall and may not make it outside of the building. To be a reliable indicator of the chemical content of the water, several samples are needed from different places in a 'puddle'. The puddles tend to be up to a yard deep. (Hardly what I think of when I hear the work 'puddle', but that is likely a problem in translation.)

But I question why they want to know where the water is coming from. Do they a plan for either source? I don't think so. More likely, they were asked that question by a reporter, and out of a excess of Japanese politeness, they refrained from remarking that the question was a really stupid question.

What are the constraints on a "good solution".

Ummm, folks... red alert (allegedly).

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor
Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but 'no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe'

Absolutely correct. It will not be Chernobyl-style.


Somebody said about Chernobyl: It was a nuclear weapon reactor rigged with steam generator. Totally different beast.

It's starting to look like a Chernobyl style dirty bomb with reactor fuel burning for several days and melting. As I remember there was only one explosion in one reactor(#4) at Chernobyl, here we have breeches at up to 4 reactors. When some contend that Chernobyl 'wasn't that bad'--I wonder what 'bad' would be like?

This disaster is taking longer than Chernobyl and refusing to make comparisons is a form of denial.



re: here we have breeches at up to 4 reactors
I think "up to 3". Unit 4 doesn't seem to be in the same trouble. Maybe different trouble.

Totally different beast.

Yes, but not even a little bit less dangerous (potentially) for children and other living things.

Just different.

There must be at least a dozen different ways nuclear reactors can fail in spectacular fashion. This is the second way. No doubt "we" will eventually witness all of them...

Yeah Fukushima is a harder nut to crack. Chernobyl was the warm-up.

Yes, totally different, they speak Russian in the Ukraine and Japan is an island. How could anyone make any meaningful comparisons?

Somebody said about Chernobyl: It was a nuclear weapon reactor rigged with steam generator. Totally different beast.

Are you trying to pack as many logical and rhetorical fallacies as possible into one sentence? To start, quoting someone else's hyperbolic jest is not evidence. Second, you assertion that Fukushima is unlike Chernobyl without proof. Finally, "A is bad, B is not A, therefore B is not bad" is not logic.

Maybe we use a number scale to indicate how the comment should be taken.

"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."

I hope he's wrong too.

That's been suspected at reactor 2 for quiet some time now that fuel melted through the RPV and the Containment Vessel. Reactor 3 pressures are also very suspicious. Reactor 1 looks like it might blow up at any moment if they miscalculate (or possibly even if they don't).

Undertow, you appear to be tracking the broadest range of information available on the status of the reactors. Could you clarify the status of No 2 any further?

Given, Corium has very likely melted through the pressure vessel bottom. How are they circulating water to it? Is it possible it is eating through the bottom of the containment? Any further information on the original reports that the torus was damaged (edit) by a hydrogen explosion?

As the Guardian says

At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what exact configuration the fuel is in now and how well it is actually being cooled.

And I wonder if they are worried of a repeat of the reactor 2 event at 1.

It might help if the floor below the reactor was sloped. Probably if they designed it that way, somebody would scowl, though.

Reactor 2 is worst, has atmopsheric pressure in containment and reactor, despite freshwater pumping and boiling (should increase pressure). 29th.
This has been a while (2 days?) and means where the pressure sensors are it is open quite big paths to the atmosphere, somewhere (pipes, cracks, basement). Or the pressure sensors are off, but there are no reports on that.
So it follows with reasonable logic that vapor goes out, and also liquid water might leak. Which we have noticed.

Good news is still that reactor 1 holds, pressure and so is "tight", also no high radiation in its "trench" see http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110329-7-1.pdf

Reactor 3? maybe containment tight(er)? OK.

Strangely, noone has sppoken about spent fuel pool 4 lately. Are reporters too scared to ask? Let us put it this way, if noone has gone there to have a look, and some tens of tons of water has been sprayed on top the last days, without knowing the effect, we can assume it is a mess up there. Strangely the heat cameras carefully avoids mentioning what they measure around the pool 4. But THE WALLS of all buildings were fine, below hundred degrees, no problem, as well as THE OTHER POOLS. Spit it out folks, what is going on up there?
There is coming steam from the building (white smoke) as per NISA.

Latest IAEA update (as of today):


Unfortunately all it says about #4 is:

It is planned to begin pumping fresh water into the spent fuel pool of Unit 4 today, on 29 March.

This paragraph may be relevant from yesterday's briefing:


The pumping of contaminated water from the basement floor of Unit 1's turbine building into its main condenser is in progress, whereas at Unit 2 that process has not begun because the steam condenser is full. At Unit 3, the pumping of contaminated water and in particular where it is going, are under consideration. The issue is also being examined for Unit 4.

Sounds like they're both trying to keep things cool and figure out what happens to the water they pour in. Is it contaminated? And if so where's it leaking to? (if it leaks)

There's lots of info there. I just extracted these bits related to your query on #4. (and I didn't extract everything on #4)

Possibly someone could figure out [leak vs boil] based on the elapsed time to the fire.
1. How long to boil away a pool of water assuming no fire?
2. How long till those assemblies would burn if uncovered suddenly?

Yes, but the tone of the reporting (and the "expert analysis") is shifting rather markedly. This is the first "reputable, mainstream (well, leftish mainstream)" media coverage I've seen that suggests that the battle has been lost.

Yep, that's one troubling article.

What is to be expected next if this is true?

They say the water reduces the radioactivity, but doesn't it boil off spewing even more radioactivity and radioactive isotopes? Where does the water flow out to?

How does the core react with concrete?

Where is this going from here?

Lots of conflicting reports and opinions:


"Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant “continues to further stabilize,” said Bill Borchardt, the executive director for operations at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

"Radioactive water found in the basement of a turbine building that serves one of the reactors is “a result of the water that they’ve been injecting” to keep nuclear fuel rods cool, Borchardt said.

“The water is the result of the ‘bleed and feed’ process that they have been using to keep water in the reactor cores and in the containment of the units,” he said. “The exact flow path of that leakage has not been determined.”

ISTM more likely the water's coming from leaking pipes than a ruptured pressure vessel.

“The water is the result of the ‘bleed and feed’ process

Surely "leak and feed".

ISTM more likely the water's coming from leaking pipes than a ruptured pressure vessel.

Even the JAIF lists reactor 2 "containment vessel integrity" as "damage and leakage suspected".

From a TEPCO source! Moved from above.

Japan nuke reactors` pressure vessels punctured`

MARCH 29, 2011 08:20
A Tokyo Electric Power Corp. source said Monday that pressure vessels in nuclear reactors Nos. 1 and 3 at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant 1 are believed to have punctures.

The corporation previously admitted that nuclear fuel rods were damaged by the overheating of nuclear reactors, but denied damage to pressure vessels. A pressure vessel is a core sealing device that blocks radioactive materials from leaking, and if punctured, radioactive damage could become uncontrollable.

Sorry, but that info looks strange. The source is a tad sketchy? Has anybody got the original info released from TEPCO about that, should have been Monday 28th according to "donga"?

The Dong-a Ilbo (literally East Asia Daily) is one of three major South Korean newspaper with over 2 million daily circulation. Founded in 1920 by Kim Sung-soo, who undertook Korea University during the Japanese occupation of Korea and later served as the second vice-president in 1951, it was a nationalist paper but today it avows in its company motto to be critical and honest in reporting the news.

It has partnership with 6 foreign newspapers such as The New York Times of the USA, Asahi Shimbun of Japan and The Times of the United Kingdom. It also publishes global editions in 90 cities worldwide including New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt.

The author's email is 김창원 (changkim@donga.com)

Thanks. one can always learn something. I have at least once visited Korea, I checked a distillation column, plant was next to the Chinese (?) sea.

However, the reactor 1 and 3 have not holes, confirmed, no? I do not see that in data, and I cannot find confirming info... I am getting tired, it is after 22:00 here.

I will email the author and ask for you. I have a feeling he will respond, in Korean.

"Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant “continues to further stabilize,” said Bill Borchardt

What a load of crap. And this is one of the people in charge of REGULATING our nukes?

REGULATING = helping the industry

Yep, laxatives regulate bowel movements too. Guess what really happens.


Only when I do not run fast enough!

It seems we (humans) are not running fast enough anymore. So what will be the unavoidable outcome?

Borchardt's "regulating" is full speed ahead on another 20 years of pure profit for the utilities operating 40-year-old, amortized reactors, including the Mark Is. The NRC also OKed the dense-packing of spent fuel ponds, which doesn't look like much of a good idea now.
Of course it all made a lot of money for the nuclear industry and allowed it to avoid total bankruptcy.

“continues to further stabilize,”
I wonder if he is worried about the effects of over-stabilization?

Bendal: your credibility is going down. Are you trying the old trick: "all experts are uncertain, so it cant be decided what is happening (and certainly you as an individual can't think on your own)". You are of no help here posting the above. If you do not have facts please quiet down!

Start by looking at JAIF and NISAs info tables on the reactors and go from there.

The proper TOD term of art, familiar to veterans of the Macondo static kill, is "lubricate and bleed" not feed and bleed. It is an established part of the well control syllabus. The techique was used to extinguish the fires in the spent fuel ponds, where the fuel rods did get yellow hot for a while, before the water cannons were put to use.

'Hot' water removal going slowly / Flooded steam condensers in reactors hamper workers' efforts

Steam condensers at the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are flooded, making it difficult for workers to remove highly radioactive water from inside the turbine buildings, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday.
In the case of the No. 1 reactor, TEPCO could not ascertain when it would be able to completely pump out the water because of a huge quantity of water in the basement of the turbine building.

Referring to radiation of more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour that was detected on the surface of the radioactive water at the No. 2 reactor, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Monday the high level of radiation was caused by water overflowing after coming in contact with nuclear fuel rods that had temporarily melted.

Reactor 1 looks like it's going to have a 'Seldon ' crisis , by which I mean that the outcome has already been determined and only a few paths are open to steer the final result towards the next phase ...
(quoting Asimov , from his Foundation series , where nuclear tech was to be the saviour of civilization , first written in the 1940-ies)

Reactor 1 has been the only reactor with a pressure buildup sofar , so presumably no containment breach ,
despite an explosion , steam , smoke and water in the basement :

The pressure vessel was build for 4 atmosphere max , has reached 6 ,

my thoughts go out to those unfortunates that have no choice but to battle this cataclysm ,

and if it were possible to dump the entire site into the ocean , it would be my choice outcome.

source for data : http://www.gyldengrisgaard.dk/fukmon/uni1_monitor.html

Hi, thanks! Now we are talking. Nice data, good link. Yeah, but sure, the reactor is going to hold. Good quality it is. It will hold 5 atmospheres (500 on your scale?), for sure... it will be nice to see that the technicians cool a bit more until tomorrow to bring the pressure down.
I - hope - so.

I see now the time axis is "inversed" going to present moment at the LEFT of the figure...! Yeah sure it looks nasty. Cool it, please.

thanks , I'll try and keep it more 'sterile',
being a vegetarian , I wouldn't mind a bit when a whole fishing industry was to be suspended because of fear for and of the consumer , while any airborne fallout would of course more directly impact my source of sustenance.
Thats why I can imagine others choosing for the opposite option of letting it burn and sinder , just to save those whale and tunas from a long and prosperous life.

In the end its all natural of course

"The pressure vessel was build for 4 atmosphere max , has reached 6 ,"

6 atmospheres is 90 psi, so you must be talking about the containment around the pressure vessel. The pressure vessel is designed to contain high pressure steam, as in 75 atm, or about 1000 psi.

There has been a lot of confusion between the pressure vessel and the containment which has been creating even more confusion. Please be careful in your usage. And yes, I wish the pretty faces in the news media understood the difference. They don't care if they are right as long as they sell ads and it can't be proved they knew they were lying.

Its the D/W which the rating is for. (i.e. the yellow line on the graph is the one to watch)

I don't like the look of the FNT. I thought that's where they say they are injecting water into 1, so it ought to be cold.

Thanks very much for that correction !
That gives me a lot of relief !

I got the number from a pressconference by a former Japanese designer of the plant ,
it had a simultaneous translation from japanese to english ,
and I probably mixed it up due to the translators problems with the terms ,
and my lack of attention no doubt ...

I had fears of the vessel rupturing , now I'm a lot more content on a less severe outcome !

( I can't edit my post however due to the timeout )

"Temporarily" melted? As in "but now they're back in their original form?"


But it is a fun one to come across!

"Fun," of course, is a relative term in this context.....

Came across an interesting fact during my readings:

The Dutch spice trade was terminated by a massive volcanic eruption that created a roughly 4 meter tsunami that wiped out the spice islands around Java.

This was in 1815.

A quick look at your maps will show that is on the same rough ring of fire that Japan chose to build its nuclear power plants on.

So we're not really looking here at a 'thousand year' or '10 thousand year' event, we're looking at very recent history, about 150 years give or take prior to the construction of the Fukushima plants.

I'm increasingly starting to believe that these thousand, ten thousand, once in a century, etc, terms, are totally invented out of thin air, and used just to justify certain initial design compromises to save money on the project in order to make it economically viable.

It's too bad it is taking a disaster of this magnitude, ongoing for this many days, to start to drive people away from the near hysterical pro-nuke positions they were starting to try to adopt in order to escape the requirement of reducing consumption of non-renewable energy sources. Good for Germany, good for even China, which is proving itself more responsible than what is clearly becoming revealed as an almost fully corporatized political system in the US.

As always skip the spin doctors and speculators and go to the responsible,. coherent voices, who have access to whatever information is out there, and who understand it, found at the press briefings of the USC:

Yesterday's briefing: http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/safety/nuclear-cr...

The 25th by the covered some of the questions raised here re where the standing water radioactive materials might hav come from (venting possibly? but too little data yet to know they report).

Fukushima was built to withstand a 6m tsunami; what they got was a 14m one.

Which is a 500 year event, apparently.

And a magnitude 7.8 quake, when they got a 9.0.

Sorry for lack of references, forgot to bookmark the TEPCO paper published last year about the tsunami-readiness of Fukushima Daiichi.

What I'm questioning is these made up once in century, once in 500 years, once in a thousand years, etc, notions.

My point is that these terms, 500 year event, or whatever, have zero predictive meaning or value, they are fictions that we create to enable a desired outcome to occur. Say we have a record of a so called thousand year event. Then say, we do not have a record of the event that preceded it, 1200 years ago. Etc.

They also failed to calculate the amplifying affects of the ocean / bay floor, discussed in some other threads here, that created that 14 meter surge out of the tsunami height. See Mavericks big wave for examples of this type of amplification.

Basically what engineers/planners/budget makers, etc., are doing here is just making stuff up, like this: the next earthquake will be 7.8. That's what I mean that I am increasingly suspecting that they are literally just making up these rules as they go along, nudging their data and predictions to FIT the price point they need to hit. A friend of mine who is an engineer on very large scale infrastructure projects assures me that this is always (note the term always, he repeated that several times, adamantly. Not 'usually', 'often', but always) the case, they bend the requirements until they fit the budget, thus, they make up what wave height and earthquake magnitude will happen to fit their needs.

That's just absurd, the next earthquake is going to be what it's going to be. Same with tsunami wave heights. One doesn't put these type of facilities on active earthquake/tsunami zones precisely because the next one is totally unpredictable, there is no way to know what magnitude or height will be encountered, only that they will be encountered.

California is playing the same games by the way, and apparently, according to the USC reports, the nuclear plants here would have only about 1/2 the backup power, and some don't even have earthquake preparedness plans at all.

By the way, California is long overdue now for its next big one, the longer that takes to occur, apparently, the bigger it will be.

So if I say: the next major slip of the San Andreas fault is going to be 8.9, my prediction has roughly as much value as any other guess, since nobody knows what it will be when it really slips. If this is confusing, note the 9.0 Japan earthquake.

I wasn't trying to be pedantic. Once is enough to wreak huge devastation. It just seems we need reminding every [insert imagined time period here].

It's too bad it is taking a disaster of this magnitude, ongoing for this many days, to start to drive people away from the near hysterical pro-nuke positions they were starting to try to adopt in order to escape the requirement of reducing consumption of non-renewable energy sources. Good for Germany, good for even China, which is proving itself more responsible than what is clearly becoming revealed as an almost fully corporatized political system in the US.

For me its about having lots of people and culture surviving and living a good life thuroughout the post peak oil era.

The notion of 'good life' is what requires examination and thought. What our new normal today considers a good life will almost certainly not be considered a good life in the future, nor will our new normal consider that future good life a good life, except for some people who maybe have seen it already and know what it looks like, give or take.

'Lots of people' are going to survive, that's a given. Unsustainable populations are not going to survive, that's also a given, since any non-sustainable thing cannot be sustained. Efforts to sustain the non-sustainable will I believe reduce the numbers significantly as we use up the resources that could have been used to sustain larger numbers.

So there's some values that have to be adjusted here, and they will be adjusted, but slowly, as values generally are.

I'm happy to see young hip people now thinking that a good life means having a slick track bike type one speed instead of a boring car.

Good life is a very loaded term though, I don't think it has much, if any, predictive value, since it's totally dependent on what the social system values in general, region to region. A good life in Somalia today I think means being a successful financier of pirate expeditions, or having control over a small militia group and arming them, then taking bribes to allow dumping of toxic materials in the surrounding oceans. Europeans, and other toxic waste producers, also enjoy the benefits of that good life, since they get to dump their wastes for $2.50 a ton instead of $250. So good life, that's a weird idea, I think we'll need a lot of changes before that idea really takes on any long lasting meaning in our worlds.

Fed, clothed, warm, water&beer, having spare time, having access to internet and cultural institutions like schools, reasonable transportation via ergonomic shoes, bicycle, tram and train and when needed a car and good enough health care and retirement to not worry all the time. I imagine the Swedish 1950:s with better houses, railways, electronics(vastly better) and hospitals as a worst case while still beng a good outcome.

It should be physically possible for most nations to reach that level during the next century minus the housing stock and other heavy long term capital investments.

It could work out to becomme better then this, I am optimistic about the physical possibilities and scared about them not being used.

Internet is really an extreme requirement, it's only about 15 years old now, at least the one you or I use, with graphical browsing etc. I much prefer books, that's why I buy and read them, they will be here long after the dream of the always on internet is just something you tell your grandkids about when you are telling them bed-time stories.

One day I was walking down the street and found a book that was over 100 years old, it had never even been read, its signature leaves had not been correctly cut, so I had to slice them open to read it. A great history of the dark ages in Europe and surrounding areas. I feel absolutely safe in stating that nobody is ever going to find a wikipedia entry at random in fully usable condition in 100 years from now, walking down the street.

People who do not work with high tech have a lot of magical thinking about the amounts of energy and hardware required to maintain an always on global network of nodes. I've seen the levels of complexity required to run and finance chip fab plants, and I know the power consumption roughly of each data center we pretend doesn't exist when we access google or nrk or whatever.

There is nothing sustainable about high tech, nothing. Nothing is more wasteful, nothing has a shorter product life. And nothing is less important to achieve real human happiness.

My grandparents lived in a wood fired log house without running water initially, outhouse in the barn, horse drawn plows and sleighs under the barn, their children live in the high consumption life style, and their great grandchildren will probably live close to the way we lived in the 50s, at least in Scandinavia.

I agree, imagine Sweden in the 50s, that's a fine model, but don't then expect to also have Sweden in the 2010s, that's known here as 'having ones cake and eating it too'.

I believe Sweden in the 50s, if it was like Norway in the 50s, used probably about 10% of the raw materials we use now, if you exclude cars etc.

It is most certainly not possible for most nations to reach this level, that's an idea only a Scandinavian can have, so I assume you must be a Scandinavian. Scandinavians, for those who follow such things, are always sincerely puzzled by why their attempts at foreign aid are such failures, the problem of course is they are supplying that aid to non-Scandinavians, who just don't deal with reality the way Scandinavians do.

It is possible for Scandinavian countries to do this, and I have a fair amount of faith that they will do so, since they are not openly hostile to allowing the government to handle things that private industry cannot or will not handle. These are functioning socialized states, that is. If you want to visit us here in the USA, I will show you how it's going to happen in the real world, massive grabs at wealth and power leading to vastly inequitable distributions of wealth, which then generate even more political power, which is used to siphon even more wealth into the pockets of the wealthy, while the people who suffer the costs happily vote for more of the same.

So it's very important to see what is happening and not get confused by regional/localized situations that do not translate well to more second world type cultures and economies, like Russia, USA, China, etc.

Your comment about finding a book brought to mind a short piece I wrote while living in France. Hope you enjoy it:

Digital History

One of the fascinating things about living in Europe is reading from time to time about the discovery, usually by a lay person while cleaning out an attic (or going through a trunk purchased at a car boot sale), of some historic treasure - letters written by Napoleon to Josephine, for example. Such a find is then carefully examined by handwriting experts, the paper is carbon dated and analyzed, the formulation of the ink is tested against known examples etc., then a determination is made as to authenticity.

Fast forward 50 or 100 years and tell me what you think will happen when such a person finds a shoe box filled with computer floppy disks? Even if the person is interested, there is nothing immediately recognizable about the disks or what they might contain. There are other problems - is the data encoded as Octal, BCD, EBCDIC, Hexadecimal, ASCII? Was the data produced using WordStar, Word, XyWrite, or something else? Is it even readable anymore without special equipment to extract the weakened encoding? Where would such a person find a floppy disk drive that matched the physical media? Are these the long lost manuscripts of some famous 1990's author? Were the documents encrypted? What encryption algorithm was used and how long is the key? Crackable? What about authenticity? Digital Signatures? And now, just how many family photos are being stored on various and sundry media?

I would like to think the finder could trot on down to his/her local "Digital Antiquities Shop" for the discovery process, but that's probably wishful thinking. The pace of change in terms of equipment, formats and applications available today is frightening. What is authenticity in such situations? Digitally speaking, you can create and/or alter anything. Governments certainly know this. Think twice when someone begins a public briefing with the comment, "This digital photograph shows exactly…"

Are we destroying our history as fast as we create it by making its digital storage obsolete in 2-3 year cycles? This must be worrying archivists and librarians - at least I hope so. Email is convenient, fast and cheap. Who's saving it? Where? Why? May I have access?

Papyrus and its derivatives held up for thousands of years. What exactly are we doing to safeguard 0's and 1's on magnetic media? Does the average user have any idea how transitory such digital storage is?

I've been in the computer business for 35 years, and I know how valuable computers can be, but in terms of information persistence and archiving we are letting things run out of control. Something's gone very wrong, I think.

As you have clearly worked in with IT decades longer than I have, I might not have nothing new to contribute but just to pass the time I share my own experience anyway:

a shoe box filled with computer floppy disks? is the data encoded as Octal, BCD, EBCDIC, Hexadecimal, ASCII? Was the data produced using WordStar, Word, XyWrite, or something else? Is it even readable anymore without special equipment to extract the weakened encoding? Where would such a person find a floppy disk drive that matched the physical media?

I have store rooms full of all generations of magnetic tapes and floppies. And have the drives still working for reading them. However I recently lost a whole system when a critical disk with irreplaceable code had not been backed up and it got severely scratched due to a mechanical failure of the drive. This was an early HP-80 system, with a HP-IB bus disk drives and instrumentation control over the bus. It was hard enough to get the tools for linux to actually try to read the disk in raw mode. It turns out HP at that time (early 80's) used a completely non-standard way of handling bad sectors, and disk sides (these were brand new fancy double-sided 3.5" disks back then) - so called '710k -format'. Oh well - code under the scratch turned out to be irreplaceable so no use recovering the undamaged sectors even if I knew how to arrange the data.

Fortunately magnetic media tends to be quite durable in terms of the magnetic signature lasting a readable for decades at least. That is why we archive our backups still on magnetic tapes (LTO-4). Tape media begins to be rarer as people have got the idea that hard drives are cheap and USB-hard drives even cheaper - so they opt for a disk based backup solutions. Also when you have peta-bytes of stuff (libraries of raw video for example) it begins to be quite expensive to have tape backups of that scale.

Indeed many of the early footage of many public broadcasting companies was lost already before the digital age because film media was in short supply (as well as climatic controlled storage of the media). Now that we can store the media in digital format - we produce so much, at such resolution - that the technology can't keep up.

Another story - another time - early 80's database - a complete mess - had to write a program to parse it all together into a cvs table. Encryption? Its not a question of if you have the key or the brute force - first you need the documentation of the algorithm and the file system - otherwise you are just as lost as with some of these binary arranged datafiles created with 80's measuring instrumentation - a lot of guess work and luck is needed to find out what byte belongs to where.

And yeah, technologies for signatures for data exist - but no clear system for authorization for them - at least not until very recently - and even then how long will the current authorities stay in business (or not get corrupted as happened with the iranian infiltration).

We are professionals - yet we begin to struggle going back just a few decades. For the average consumer the 'horizon' is much closer - it could be that he can no longer access the files created just a few years ago. I get calls from relatives all the time related to issues with MS Office version problems and the TIFF file mess - and these are problems they have created just by recently replacing their computer.

What is authenticity in such situations? Digitally speaking, you can create and/or alter anything. Governments certainly know this. Think twice when someone begins a public briefing with the comment, "This digital photograph shows exactly…"

Email is convenient, fast and cheap. Who's saving it? Where? Why? May I have access?

As government officials, we are ordered to store all our 'email' - at least the ones dealing with official business - as external files (copy paste into word for example) just because email isn't being stored - there is just too much of it in the world (not the emails themselves perhaps - but the file attachments combined!)

Thank you for your comments. The following is from George Glaser's Keynote at the 1974 AFIPS Conference. Enjoy:

"...By contrast, the profession of infor­mation processing developed rapidly ‑ it can be considered, at most, three decades old. Its motivations have rested largely on finding uses for novel, powerful, and versatile types of machines. This reverse approach has permitted us little time to develop professional maturity.

Our profession differs, too, from engineering and medicine in that we provide tools for others to use. This confronts us with a problem of communication. Unless we know the user's problem, can speak precisely about the abilities and limitations of computers, and can intelligently relate the two, unrealistic expectations may be aroused and wastefulness may occur. Furthermore, our inability to communi­cate effectively dooms us to continued frustration in accomplishing our profes­sional and personal objectives.

Professional maturity requires that we start with people and their problems much as engineers and physicians do. We must view computers as tools which can some­times help them and sometimes not ‑ but always with the idea of helping people and not, per se, advancing the use of computers.

Maturity in a profession requires that the good it does be obvious. Here we have a very difficult challenge. Data processing equipment worth approximately 9.5 bil­lion dollars was shipped by U.S. manufac­turers last year. But this does not give us a measure of the good accomplished with it, especially in managerial fields. To the extent that we can, we should evaluate benefits and willingly agree to critical auditing of results. For the glamour will wear off of computers, as it has done with electronics, and then our profession will stand naked before the world, except as it can be clothed with demonstrable utility."

It would be no problem what so ever to run almost everything the net provides on 1/10 or 1/100 of the current number of serves by sorting the information more like libraries then brute force searched trash piles and use years of time to optimise services instead of doing them fast and sloppy. Some online games would be limited but there would still be games.

I am indeed a Swede and one of our best assets for the post peak oil era is that we trust our government and I know that our governing institutions listen to scientific advice, they however not run amok on a sigle issue even if it is a big one but the limitations in the available fossil fuels is known.

The 2008 financial crisis were a great test-run of a post peak oil crisis, the message from our government were not that all is good and things soon will be good, the message were that this is terribe and can get worse and we can not bail out everybody. The result of these negative messages, a little hardship and actually doing things that made sense were a reelection if the same governmnet in 2010. Estonia had a worse crisis and their government got reelected on it. Such things gives me hope.

I am sure that also I live in the real world. I hope we can handle these problems in a rational way like we did with the pension system and nuclear waste and then help a lot of other countries thru trade. Neither of the above examples is perfect, they are only fairly good and can be improved. Btw, I hope that Sweden can attract more high tech industry like chip fabs that needs stable infrastructure in a stable country, geologically and politically...

I grew up on a farm in the upper midwest in the '40s and '50s.

We heated with wood in the kitchen stove until it became really cold and then used a coal-fired space heater in the living room. Later, the space heater was oil fired, so it didn't have to be tended at night.

Electricity reached the farm a couple of years after I was born, so I don't remember being without it. I do remember the pipes being trenched from the well to the house and barn, which meant indoor plumbing.

Some of the field work was still being done with draft horses until the mid-50s.

We raised and butchered our own chickens, ducks and geese and had a large garden and some fruit trees.

We were in a far-fringe TV reception area, and did not have a television. I saw maybe 5 or 6 movies before I left the farm. So my views are not the result of being blighted by television in my youth.

But do you feel that you yourself personally were 'blighted' by having been brought up in such 'backward' circumstances?

If we all just had a bit of electricity, but lots of "chickens, ducks, geese and a large garden and some fruit trees" do you think it would be an unspeakable tragedy? Or might we all be living much richer, if somewhat more strenuous, lives?

I don't think that the circumstances were particularly "backward". My father was somewhat cautious and frugal about getting new things (as were many after the Depression), and we might have been 5 years behind some of our neighbors.

I personally think that having "chickens, ducks, geese and a large garden and some fruit trees", but I'd also note that a teenage girl who hatched out 6 ducklings has been brought before the town council by her neighbors who consider domesticated animals to be a public nusciance and a health hazard. The matter has been referred to the zoning board for their consideration.

Municipalities have been hard at work recently on ordinances to control the installation of solar power and wind turbines. The latter seem no more welcome than were cell towers.

Suppose that during the 21st century there is a nuclear accident every 10 years and that there are 100,000 victims of each accident who have their lives shortened by 40 years each. The total burden for nuclear energy is 40 million person-years of life.

Suppose that with nuclear power we have:
- a 10% chance of "muddling through" and reaching 2100 pretty much unscathed (buildout of nuclear + alternatives + population controls allows a mid century population peak of 10 billion with a gentle decline thereafter),
- a 10% chance of getting whacked by an epidemic, loss of antibiotic effectiveness, etc., that thins the herd so that we stay within resource limits, and
- an 80% chance of collapse around 2050 with the exhaust of oil, competition for resources causing a global conflict resulting in a collapse to pre-industrial population levels, say 1 billion.

Suppose that abandoning nuclear power results in:
- a 5% chance of "muddling through",
- a 10% chance of epidemic, and
- a 85% chance of global conflict in 2040.

So the person-years lost due to giving up nuclear are 0.05 * 9*10^9 * 40 + 0.80 * 9*10^9 * 10 =
(0.05 * 40 + 0.80 *10) * 9*10^9 = 90 billion person years.

90 billion lost person years without nuclear energy is a lot larger than 40 million lost person years due to nuclear energy.

These are all made-up numbers, and have no meaning. Suppose you just say what you mean and stop making up numbers that have nothing to do with anything?

Suppose we start looking ahead to the future in our decision making, and suppose we start taking more responsibility in our short term actions, so they also are successful long term actions, and when we are not able to do this, suppose we then do not do those actions.

Suppose we stop generation of a wide range of long term toxic waste products, and suppose we stop putting our short term industrially generated desires in check and start acting like responsible mature humans? Suppose we start to question if we really really need all the garbage we are trained to think we need, or if we even need corporations in the first place? Suppose we pass an amendment here in the USA that bans corporate person-hood, so we can stop having progress blocked by these sociopathic entities?

Anytime someone starts making up numbers like this, or even worse, then graphing those made up numbers, I roll my eyes and ask myself, is this process of endless negotiation, as in the negotiation phase of denial, really really required so we can move on to a more positive future?

Now, suppose we all move on to do something more productive than typing in made-up numbers to prove made up points, and instead set about trying to actually fix things and work on changing the situation, not negotiating endlessly to try to avoid change and improvement.

Something about these nuke threads just brings out the very worst in at least one or two people every time, it's as if nuclear energy actually contaminates the mind, and creates long term waste disposal issues of bad ideas etc. I know I feel majorly contaminated by these, by the way, that's why I have to drop out of them more and more quickly as time goes on, it's just not a positive direction, but that's no surprise for something as pathologically unconsidered and selfish re our decedents as nuclear power, coal, or whatever other heavily non sustainable, toxic, wasteful, thing we come up with as a culture.

Now I have to non-supposedly move on to do some actual work.

Suppose we pass an amendment here in the USA that bans corporate person-hood, so we can stop having progress blocked by these sociopathic entities?

I have stubled over that idea before, it is truly alien for me, it must be a genuine american thing.

Myself I wish for a better functioning market with more competition and the creationa of new small and big businesses that do the things that needs to be done to fulfill needs in new ways.

Magnus, no need to speculate: Germany, immediate halt of license extensions, immediate re-evaluation of nuclear project in general. And Germany is not a non corporate state.

The US, nothing. Our supreme court, which no longer merits or deserves capitalization, just allowed a landmark political action that enables all corporations to spend as much as they want, without admitting it openly, on political propaganda.

You can see the results, this is again not theoretical: the US has I believe the highest percentage of so called global warming skeptics in the world, maybe UK, which strives to emulate the US in some ways, is close. That's thanks to Exxon, and the Big Coal industry, power plants etc.

What is extra perverse here is that after these people are brainwashed voluntarily as they absorb endless corporate media campaigns, they then, in discussion, have the incredible audacity to suggest that their views are somehow more 'critical' than those of people who actually know what they are talking about. That's a very difficult political base to overcome, and that's exactly as planned by the corporations here.

Enjoy the freedom you have in Scandinavia, but remember you too can lose it if you give too much of your real power away to these entities. It's very hard to get that power back, and they are very patient, they just consider these as small costs with huge financial rewards.

Sweden: No hasty changes in energy policies, the deal to support alternatives while allowing old nuclear plants to be replaced by new ones if utilities choose to do the investment stands.

We have since a while an investment boom in wind power, biomass power, grid investments and upratings and life lenght extensions of the current 10 nuclear reactors. It is very close to intensifie to a higher level with even larger investments in wind, biomass, grid and new nuclear powerplants replacing old ones.

It will probably take a while before the Fukushima accident changes anything. This is of course a nervous time for our nuclear powerplant owners, they realy need to do a damn fine job and absolutely not hide any problems.

I realy hope it will hold togeather since we actually are doing and soon are doing even more of the things needed to handle the post peak oil era in a smooth manner, we are powering up the electrical infrastructure and investing it to last for a couple of generations.

Lots of countries could do this and it is now becomming politically impossible in country after country, at least for a couple of years, terrible, terrible damage!

A problem has been rearing its head, in that many of these mega companies have become very adept at fulfilling needs, Their Own.. while evading responsibility and taxes.

The market seems to have grown greatly addicted to selling addiction, be it Sugar, Caffeine, TV or Bare Butts.

"suppose" your probabilities are plucked from thin air to make your pseudo-scientific statistical game come out with the answer you want.

I'd give that a 99% probability :-)

A global population crash is a virtual certainty. It is like the "big one" in California. It's not a matter of whether San Francisco and Los Angeles will be destroyed by an earthquake -- it's just a matter of when.

Same with global war. Since the Black Death, the Wars of the Reformation, the Thirty Years War, the French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars, and WW I&II occurred with shorter interregnums and greater death tolls and geographic scope. This regularity is reason to believe that the next in the series will occur mid-21st century and that it will involve everyone to the same degree that only the core combatants (e.g. Germany and Russia) were involved in the last one. Given the exhaustion of oil and other fossil fuels, the ability of biological weapons to enhance the death toll, and collapse phenomena described in several other threads on TOD it is likely to be a big step down in population.

Eliminating nuclear power as one of the mechanisms to cope with resource exhaustion and population overshoot is likely to make more certain and to hasten the crash. Neither the probability nor the timing have to change much in order to more than offset any safety gains from abandoning nuclear power.

Merril, suppose you start applying your thinking with even the slightest amount of rigor? You just correctly noted the social systems are expected to fail over the coming century (and you're right, they will, history shows us this), while then suggesting that we institute a buildout of nukes, which require a high degree of social cohesion to handle, and which cannot even be considered as something a failed or failing state can handle?

All nuclear energy does is raise our current level of consumption, as it has, making the readjustment even more difficult. It raises, not lowers, the bar to reach renewables, that's the exact opposite of what is needed, something I have come to realize during these TOD nuclear power threads.

I am astounded by the degree of negotiation against reduction in current consumption levels encountered among some minds who I have to assume have literally never lived in any different world than one of US style excess and waste.

It appears that for some, the ideology of 'free, too cheap to meter', nuclear power is something they just cannot let go of, must be that sci-fi from the 50s and 60s, Star Trek with its dilithium crystal magic power source, etc.

You even note the danger of war, while advocating building more nuclear power plants in those war zones.

You have all the pieces mentally, but apparently you have some mental glitch that doesn't let you connect the dots you already see clearly. This is a frequent indication of magical thinking and ideology blinding one to the reality one sees and understands just fine.

I have to admit, over the past years reading TOD, I have always skimmed over all the postings by those I consider to be 'nuke nuts' (my term I use to let myself avoid wasting time with people who aren't using critical thinking skills for whatever reason they have), this recent Japan disaster makes me kind of which I'd just kept to that policy, and focused on positive things we can do, not perpetuation of bad ideas held non-critically, a waste of time if there ever was one.

The "Return to the Solar/Wind-Powered Shire" scenario is an attractive one.

But with population rising to near 10 billion mid century, and with the resource and energy constraints that are clearly in view, I do not think that it works.

The global civilization is too complex and too interconnected for it to reverse course according to that scenario. It is like an airplane that is well down the runway and past the point where stopping is possible -- from here we either fly or crash. Stepping on the brakes means that we just crash.

The trouble is, there's one more problem happening in your airplane analogy

The runway you're on terminates in a cliff at the ocean, and as you were waiting to take off, the waves were washing it away. A few, not many, passengers were screaming "Look at the waves! The runway's vanishing!". You as the pilot, didn't hear them, or said to yourself "What do they know, I'm the pilot." Now that you're past the "tipping point" (the runway is way too short to take off), you will crash if you put on the brakes, and you will crash if you keep going.

What you do is prepare yourself for the crash, not delude yourself and say "We'll make it anyway."

Maybe you should have listened to those few who were screaming.

Years ago, overpopulation, resource limits, etc.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are about to be hanged...

Rosencrantz: That's it then, is it? We've done nothing wrong. We didn't harm anybody, did we?
Guildenstern: I can't remember.
Rosencrantz: All right, then. I don't care. I've had enough. To tell you the truth, I'm relieved.
Guildenstern: There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
The Player: Till then.

We crash anyway.

Let's make the crash as humane as possible, and skip problematic technological "quick fixes".

Merrill, I can't comment on your science, but I believe I see something odd in your rhetoric.

1. Supply impractical vision.

2. Mention scary facts that make impractical vision appear even more extreme.

3. Say it's too big for anyone to figure out and therefore we should embrace a high-risk plan that allows little room for further analysis or moral debate.

I wonder why.

I apologize for calling you out directly, but are there personal beliefs/cynicisms/vulnerabilities that prompted this "full ostrich" stance--because it seems out of sync with your (at least to my uneducated eye) pretty good grasp of and open approach to the facts. (What is it about the Solar/Wind Shire that's attractive and yet bugs people?????)

I have seen the "It's too big to understand so we better just do this" plan go bad a number of times, most notably in the financial system/mortgage/derivatives markets, and also in the runup to the Iraq war--during which otherwise intelligent people actually said that it was way too hard to figure out what was going on so we'd best just bomb the country.

Maybe it has to do with the informed consent issue that someone brought up earlier--in which the process is "Informed is too difficult, so I'm gonna go all out on consent." (Or with refusal, as the case might be; either way there's a strange shortage of logic in there somewhere.)

I hope this won't be seen as too O/T, but when disagreements arise and can't seem to be resolved by the facts/numbers at hand, it's usually worth it to look at why we hold the views we do.

[Bendal, who has been taking some heat, has decided (according to him, anyway) to examine the relationship between the facts and his assumptions. It's a good thing--here's hoping it works out for him.]

You have all the pieces mentally, but apparently you have some mental glitch that doesn't let you connect the dots you already see clearly. This is a frequent indication of magical thinking and ideology blinding one to the reality one sees and understands just fine.

He is most definitely not alone in having this glitch in his thinking and in this case it probably isn't connected so much with magical thinking and ideology...

That particular 'glitch' might just be an instance (pun intended) of what Daniel Kahneman calls the inside-outside view of the planning fallacy.

...there are two ways of looking at a problem; the inside view and the outside view. The inside view is looking at your problem and trying to estimate what will happen in your problem. The outside view involves making that an instance of something else—of a class. When you then look at the statistics of the class, it is a very different way of thinking about problems. And what's interesting is that it is a very unnatural way to think about problems, because you have to forget things that you know—and you know everything about what you're trying to do, your plan and so on—and to look at yourself as a point in the distribution is a very un-natural exercise; people actually hate doing this and resist it.


Edge Master Class 07
Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, CA, July 20-22, 2007

It is very important not cloud one's thinking by considering how one might want things to turn out. That is only daydreaming.

If the alternatives are:
A. stop new nuclear power projects and decommision plants at the first license expiration or
B. continue with nuclear power as operated and planned,
then both alternatives have consequences to be predicted, assigned risk probabilities and given estimated impacts.

The risks and impacts have to be set in the context of an overall model of the future within which they will happen. We know that one componenet of the overall model is the prediction that population will rise to about 10 billion by mid century while oil production will decline more or less rapidly from the current level of production. The consequences of various rates of decline have been debated, but they range from pretty early and complete catastrophe to a more hopeful view that we might scrape through the assiduous employment of alternative energy sources and considerable conservation. Hardly anyone thinks there will be abundant energy supplies and there is a lot of debate as to whether the organizational requirements, economic burdens, or necessary volumes of critical materials will defeat the more optimistic plans.

To which I will add that we also know that Western Civilization has periodically self destructed over the last several hundred years, and the last episode involved a global self destruction of considerable severity. The cyclic nature of economic development and shortages of resources at cycle peaks has tended to drive these episodes.

Within this global model, Alternative A increases the probability that more people will be killed sooner by collapse and war, while Alternative B increases the probability that more people will be killed by radiation and cancer.

"the prediction that population will rise to about 10 billion by mid century"

Well, for one thing that prediction is probably off by quite a bit. The world is already running up against food shortages, and the effects of GW&PO are just getting going.

You might not have noticed it (unless you are a total demographics geek, like me '-) but the long-term decrease in the death rate has stalled (at least) and the rate of drop in the birth rate seems to have picked up:



If these trends persist and even slightly accelerate, we could have the peak in world population within a decade (perhaps not completely for pleasant reasons).

Meanwhile, if you actually look at what happens to large energy projects in much of the world where the large population increases are happening, the vast majority of the benefit does not go to the starving masses--it goes to the elites, so they can try to emulate American or European lifestyles at the expense of the desperate populations.

So moving hard to nukes in most cases will not do anything to prevent people being killed by collapse, but it will surely increase the ones being killed by the horrors of cancer and other effects of having radioactive isotopes riddling your body.

If these trends persist and even slightly accelerate, we could have the peak in world population within a decade

Never ever without a very serious global disruption (large scale war, AGW, asteroid). That the death-rate goes up in one year does not break the trend for now. The death rate will go up, but the main reason is the fast aging of the world population (which is not that bad). I do also belive we will peak much before 2050 because of all the reasons discussed here at TOD. But never-ever within 10 years or even 15.

Alternative B increases the probability that more people will be killed by radiation and cancer.

Merrill, how many people are still driving a 1965 Ford Fairlane? Predicting the future based on old technology leads to inaccurate results.

"It is very important not to cloud one's thinking by considering how one might want things to turn out."

This is only partially true. It's important to give weight to hoped-for outcomes and positive/moral/beneficial actions, if only to allow the most possible opportunities for success to arise. It's quite difficult, at the moment when calculating probabilities morphs into charting a course, to re-insert hoped-for outcomes in the face of what seem like overwhelming odds. This leads to odd conclusions and acceptance of risks that would be unacceptable if hoped-for outcomes had been considered.

For example, a father: "There are a hundred thousand ways my newborn daughter could be unhappy in her romantic life as time goes on. So I'm going to send her to be a nun." It's a perfectly fine objective analysis, and the conclusion appears to match up with the father's goal of preventing unhappiness for his daughter. But as an actual plan, it's not so good.

Your example is not a "a perfectly fine objective analysis" because it does not objectively enumerate and evaluate all of the available lifestyle choices and their consequences. An objective analysis would also evaluate both the risks of unhappiness and the chance of happiness associated with each lifestyle.

Your example actually demonstrates the follow of the procedure that I've argued against - selecting a hoped-for outcome and then marshalling evidence to provide a rationale for it.

(Fathers also have limited influence over the romantic life of their daughters, at least in my family.)

My point is that when the analysis/planning part gets too complicated, people tend to fall back on a set of steps that lead logically to an outcome, even if the outcome is unsatisfactory--rather than work their way through something that would be murkier and include more human variables.


Of course there is a hoped-for outcome in your analysis of the nuclear situation. Every analysis attempts to shed light on a problem in hope of finding a solution. I suspect that your analysis is less objective than you think it is, precisely because of the lifestyle choices and consequences you mention in the father/daughter example.


JMO, but I believe your analysis is weighted toward the fathomable yet unsatisfying. Only you can decide whether it's true. ;^)

Yes, well... given a lot of suppositions, AKA wild-ass guesses.


Amid increasing fears of workers being exposed to high levels of radiation at the plant, hospitals in Tokyo called on the workers to provide samples of their blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells ahead of possible massive exposure.

''Anything could happen at the nuclear plant, so preparation is important,'' said Shuichi Taniguchi, head of the hematology department at Toranomon Hospital.

A person's ability to form blood, when lost through radiation exposure, can be restored by transplanting his or her hematopoietic stem cells. Such a procedure is better than receiving a bone marrow transplant from another person as it avoids the risk of rejection.

Toranomon Hospital in Tokyo's Minato Ward said it is making preparations to take samples of the stem cells of around 50 to 100 workers on the front line at the plant. The cells will be preserved in a frozen state.

I dug through the JAIF documents (in PDF form, unfortunately) looking for a historical trail of radiation exposure data at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini reactor sites. The documents give exposure readings taken at various times at both reactor plants; the earliest one I looked at was March 17 for the Daini plant.

For background, the Daini plant is situated across the bay, several kilometres SW from the Daiichi site -- it has four BWR-5 reactors which shut down successfully after the earthquake and continued cooling operations through the following tsunami, although Daini reactors 1, 2 and 4 are listed as having had IAEA class-3 incidents occur during shutdown.

To complicate matters the readings given at various times in the docs for the Daiichi plant come from 3 different locations on the site -- The Main Gate, the West Gate and one location just described as north of the Service Building. I presume the gate locations are on the plant boundaries some distance from the reactor buildings. The Daini site reading location is not pinpointed. Here's a summary of what the readings show:

West Gate Daiichi -- at 11:30 19 March the reading was 313.1uSv/h. The next reading given for this location was 146.6uSv/h at 11:00 26 March. After that it decreased with a spike upwards at 09:00 28 Mar to 140.4uSv/h to the last reading I've found at 15:00 29 March which was 116.0uSv/h.

Main Gate Daiichi -- 06:00 22 March the reading was 264.6uSv/h and the last recording for this location was at 11:00 26 March which was 170.7uSv/h. There was a spike to 259.0uSv/h at 11:00 28 March but otherwise the data shows an apparently regular decline in radiation dosage.

Service Building north -- only a couple of readings, both over 2000uSv/hr around the 19 March period. I presume these readings were taken quite close to the reactors.

Daini site -- 12:00 17 March the reading is 15.9uSv/h. The readings decrease generally to today's reading of 6.2uSv/h although there is an anomalous spike to 26.4uSv/h at 15:00 22 March. Note that this spike is bracketed by a reading three hours earlier of 12.0uSv/h and 11.2uSv/h 15 hours later; it may have been a glitch in the instrumentation or transcription.

Source: http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/

I would tend to confirm the decreasing readings of radiation on site, at least to the West. I interpret that as during the explosions and fire there was a fair amount of shortlived material thrown about, which is now decreasing in activity. However, beware some longlived isotopes might hang around in soil.

Do not forget to consider winds locally, while looking at that data.

Also see http://www.targetmap.com/index.aspx?searchinput=Japan&page=1&category=#
Select: "Japan Radiation Maximum by Prefecture" the timeseries of Ibaraki prefecture south of Fuku is slowly decreasing gradually the last week too.

Wind the next days are mostly towards sea.
HOWEVER Wednesday afternoon and evening winds towards land, a few meters per second.
Light light rain possible.

So stay indoors Wednesday evening and night, up to some 50 km west, landside, of Fukushima plants.

NHK-World just announced that smoke could be seen rising from the Fukushima Daini (yes Daini) plant as of 6pm Japan time (about 1hr ago). No further info given. Edit: Reactor 1 turbine building said to be source of smoke at Daini.

Nuclear Crisis Stopped Time in Japan

The problems at Japan's Fukushima-1 nuclear plant have had an unexpected impact on the country's ability to keep time: a transmitter that sends the national time signal to many thousands of clocks and watches has been forced offline making the timepieces a little less reliable than usual.

The transmitter is on top of Mount Otakadoya in Fukushima prefecture, about 790 meters above sea level and 16 kilometers from the stricken Fukushima-1 power station. The radio station, called JJY, sends a signal that reaches most of Japan including the capital, Tokyo.

The site is well within a government-mandated 20-kilometer evacuation zone and engineers were forced to abandon it on the evening of March 12 (at 7:46 p.m. JST to be precise -- they were keeping time).

As they left, they powered down the transmitter and that left some devices without a reference time signal.

Latest plan. Maybe the new supertanker deliveries can pick up a few million gallons of radioactive water after they drop off their oil that makes up for the lost nuke plants. Another twofer! Notice the reactor building tents.

Draft Cabinet covered with buildings, special cloths, radioactive material dispersal prevention in

Can somebody whip up a translation for that?

I can give a quicky, but I can't give a pretty redone translated picture.

The top says "Image of the plan to prevent diffusion of radioactive particles"
The top left black box says "Specially coated cloth temporary cover"
The bottom left black box says "Pressure control reservoir tanks"
The white box pointing to the yellow thing is "temporary hoses are attached and (water) is recirculated"
The bottom is "empty tanker"
The long grey building is the turbine building
The round things are "return water storage tanks"
The other obvious things labelled are the four reactor buildings and the ocean.

Hope it helps.

Confucius say picture worth 1000 words. Thanks for the labels. Confirmed what most guessed.

Fabric structures are a goo0d idea. they go up fast and they make good colds containment structures.


The ARP retrieval in Pit 4 involves a tent-like enclosure placed over the area from which waste is removed. ARP’s enclosure keeps contamination from the environment. Heavy equipment used to retrieve waste does not leave the enclosure.

they keep the tent at a negative pressure and run it through a hepa filter bank.

Their problem is radiation spread through leaking water. These structures do zilch to address this problem.

[Firstly, can I ask people to refrain from ad hominem attacks and rudeness? TOD used to be a really civilised place to hang out. Now we seem to have gained a new batch of trolls and/or aggressive debating styles, I'm not so sure this improves things. (How do we deal with this as a community? Are people remembering to use those 'flag comment' links?)]

I wanted to come back on the question of global supply chains. It is very complex! I'm sure the effects will be (1) large and (2) unexpected.

Just a tiny example. We sell vegetable seeds, and quite a lot of our Oriental-type salad seed is purchased from The Netherlands in NE Europe. But I happen to know it comes direct from Japan (When I order it , they say 'oh it will be a fortnight before the next shipment from Japan sir, so delivery won't be til next month . .')

So If the wind changes onshore, or even if it doesn't, I can see it would be hard to sell that seed to a skeptical public in a years' time or so when they have realsied that actually eating radioactive stuff isn't good for you, even if TEPCO say so. What to do???

We are looking at our planting schedule now - it's two years from sowing to cropping - and will try to produce in the UK. But in the meantime we have ordered a geiger counter to test imported seed.

So definite effects on our small bit of the supply chain. No mizuna, mibuna, pak choi, kailaan, red radish, perilla, etc etc. Could be a gap in grocery stores worldwide in 12 months time.

You have any lemon seeds? All the seeds from lemons here come up crappy, inedible, oranges. Hybrids, no?

Japan nuclear plant gets help from US robots

The Obama administration is sending a squad of robots to Japan to help efforts to regain control over the Fukushima nuclear plant, it has emerged.

"A shipment is being readied," Peter Lyons, who oversees nuclear power in the department of energy, told a Senate committee. "The government of Japan is very, very interested in the capabilities that could be brought to bear from this country."

The department of energy has developed a number of remotely operated robots designed to clear up radioactive waste from department of energy test weapons sites, Lyons said.

The earliest versions were developed in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 when robots were sent in to get a view of the damaged reactor, and to suck up radioactive water and partially melted fuel

Nuclear Power - Not Now, Not Ever.

This essay consists of three sections: First of all, the recent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan urgently brings the science of plate tectonics into the debate, and raises the question of whether the promoters of nuclear power are willing and able to take the long-term implications of that technology into consideration as they select sites for these facilities.

In the second section, we ask whether it is possible to accurately and reliably assess the safety of nuclear reactors. A failed attempt to do so thirty years ago suggests that such an assessment is impossible, not simply because of a lack of scientific knowledge and technological capacity, but more fundamentally, because of the insurmountable inability to anticipate all possible circumstances that might occur in the operation of the plant.

Finally, these and other considerations lead to the conclusion that nuclear power is not economically viable and sustainable without massive government subsidies that are unavailable to its competing technologies.

Several years ago I purchased what is probably a 1980'2 Russian civil defense radiation detector. I turn it on for amusement when I move to a new neighbourhood; it has always given about 20-30 cpm. A week after the Fukushima incident it has been consistently around 150 cpm here in central BC.

So my question is: what is the failure mode of a typical Geiger-Mueller tube? I opened up my KVARTS DRSB-01 (in it's elegant 1980's polystyrene case it looks like the original walkman, gotta love the lightning bolt, not all of them come with that option...) and it looks fine, the G-M tube has no mica window so it will not tell me any α information.

There appear to be two equally improbable events: either one of these would fail in this way, or the radiation count could increase 5x without my benevolent government making a general announcement.






Any thoughts from the ToD continuum?


I wish I knew how that counter would react normally, or what it means that it gives 150 counts instead of 30?

Edit: If your counter measures what EPA calls total beta (?) then I do not see any of EPAs data on the west coast giving much more than background. At best, is your instrument too sensitive to a small increase? Some calibration possible, any info on that in manual?

EPA is keeping things under control, right?
Nothing to see here, move on folks...

A GM tube typically fails by not counting. I think it's extremely unlikely that it will fail by increasing it's count rate. A GM tube is usually filled with a mixture of an inert gas and a halogen. Usually failure is by a leak that lets the gas out and air in and it stops producing counts. A particle passing through the gas mixture ionizes the gas and it momentarily conducts, shorting out a voltage of 300-600 volts that's across the tube. I haven't ever heard of one becoming more sensitive, failure is either radically less sensitive or non-sensitive.

There is one way that it might count more, if the high-voltage supply in the counter increased and moved the tube up off it's plateau region and produce counts due to avalanche, not just particles. It would probably have to increase by more than 20% to make this happen and then the tube won't last too long before breaking down and going dead.