Fukushima Open Thread Wed - 4/6

The theme for the day is unintended consequences, or perhaps the lesser of evils. A fix of sorts is applied for an acute problem, but the fix creates new problems. After trying for several days, Tepco finally stopped the gushing of radioactive water into the sea. Sort of.

On Tuesday, the plant operator drilled a hole into a layer of gravel around the pit, and poured a hardening agent called liquid glass, or sodium silicate, to stop the leak of highly radioactive water into the sea.

Meanwhile, TEPCO is continuing to release about 8,000 tons of wastewater contaminated with low-level radiation into the sea to make room in storage tanks for highly contaminated water. It says about 6,000 tons of water have already been released.

Thread closed. Discussion moved to http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7776

Of course, the water is still being injected into the reactors or poured into the buildings...

But about 500 tons of fresh water is injected into reactor buildings each day to cool down the reactors. Some of the water is believed to be leaking outside after becoming contaminated.

As we remember, seawater was initially being used in an attempt to cool the reactor cores and spent fuel, and this went on for several days before is was suggested that continuing was a bad idea due to buildup of salt.

Defense Minister Yoshimi Kitazawa said late Friday that the U.S. government had made "an extremely urgent" request to switch to freshwater. He said the U.S. military was sending water to nearby Onahama Bay and that water injections could begin early next week.

Yesterday, the NY Times obtained a copy of a confidential memo, prepared by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which also refers to unintended consequences.

United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable...

One potential problem mentioned, seemingly enough, is buildup of water in containment structures, causing stress problems which could make them more vulnerable to aftershocks. Another hazard identified in the assessment is the familiar problem of hydrogen buildup, which could lead to additional explosions. And while it is not clear that Tepco was responding directly to this suggestion, they have decided to inject nitrogen into the buildings to flush out the hydrogen.

Japan Nuclear Plant Operator Prepares to Inject Nitrogen

The same approach might later be tried for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, but the No. 1 unit was chosen first because the pressures and temperatures in that reactor are higher than in the other two.

The prospect of imminent danger has been denied, however.

The nitrogen, an inert gas, is expected to be injected into the No. 1 reactor's containment vessel, a process that could take several days. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the government's nuclear agency, denied during a morning press conference that there is an "immediate danger" of explosion.

Continued hydrogen production could imply that there has been oxidation of the zirconium cladding surrounding the fuel pellets, which in turn implies very high temperatures. Why isn't this thing cooling off? Possibilities:

  • Poor heat transfer, perhaps getting worse with time
  • Re-criticality, facilitated by damage to the core structure and insufficient borate in the water

Elsewhere, reactors 5 and 6 are being inundated with radioactive groundwater.

And then there are the spent fuel pools. As for good news, we have no confirmation that TCHLTV:

But we don't believe at this point in time that that core has left the vessel.

Martin Virgilio
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

New: View the NRC document mentioned in the NYT here. (A Google Doc, upside down. On left menu, download original as pdf, and then invert -- or not)

Recently on The Oil Drum:

Resources for Nuclear Physics and Engineering

Fukushima Open Thread - Mon 4/4

Just a note of personal prejudice, but why bring fission and fusion reactions into the biosphere just to enable another round of unsustainable growth when we have a huge reactor called the sun at a safe distance. We can't even keep ourselves from destroying an ozone shield that protects us from the dangerous radiation coming from that stellar reactor. MAD (mutually assured destruction) is occurring right now, all around you, and there are about as many solutions for it as there are solutions for Fukushima.

Because we are an energy-greedy species with little care about our future generations :-(

Japanese meltdown highlights energy dilemma as peak oil enters hot phase

Sydney's RTA builds M2 exit lanes for $200 oil

A sad reality I would agree.

A rather negative way of stating it, but true. Somewhere in this discussion someone stated that we don't have political and social systems capable of making the logical decisions and commitments to handle nuclear fission energy systems properly for the long term. Why would that be? PM's statement is why. And why would that be?

To state it in less pejorative terms, very little of what we do is based on rational thought processes. Yes, mathematicians can do it, but who governs their lives by mathematics? We make decisions based on what makes us more comfortable. Not comfortable as is a nice pillow, but comfortable in the sense that our "gut feeling" about the "right thing to do." Even when presented with a choice like which job to take or who to marry, very few people make a list of pros and cons and pick the one with the best score. And if they do, take a look at the list. Many of the items will be related to feelings.

You might say that we are simply allowing our unconscious to process and come up the the right choice for us. And you would be right. But you can't claim that's a rational process.

Given the fact that our brains and behavior evolved and are tuned to dealing with a world rather different from what we are dealing with today, we are probably doing a pretty good job keeping together a global society with the scale and complexity of our modern world. But we need to recognize our limitations. What are the likely failure modes. Sustained, long term structure and action, particularly if it is not in the immediate best interest of those bearing the burdens, is not our strength. We need a better carrot and a bigger stick.

A very sensible perspective.
Anyone have any ideas to offer on how to achieve these goals?
Plato already proposed "Guardians" , who would preserve the body politic from corrupting influences. The someone cogently asked 'Who guards the Guardians?'.

The implication is that it is important to recognize this weakness in our makeup before we launch new technologies.
Clearly the nuclear industry went public well before it was ready for prime time.
Probably Eisenhowers fault, he was the driving force behind the 'Atoms for Peace' effort that saddled subsequent generations with the deficient reactor designs we are still using.
As usual, the worst damage is done by those who have good intentions. We jumped the gun on nuclear, bad mistake.

"The Monitors"

"The Earth is taken over by The Monitors, aliens who run it like hall monitors in a 1950's high school, with overtones of Big Brother. The film follows the progress of the human underground rebellion. The twist is that as the film goes on, the audience's sympathies shift to the aliens, who are basically benevolent. When the humans manage to oust them, it's back to corruption and bribery by the usual suspects."

Song: "We are here to serve humanity, here to reaffirm gentility, wipe away from fear to sanity, care-ful-ly promote tranquility, grant us neither gifts or gratitude."

Song: "The Monitors are here oh boy! The Moooonitooooooooooorrrs! They're loved by young and old- hurray! They cured the common cold- oh boy!..."


Looking at the performance to date of the UN and its initiatives, the idea of a supranational supervisory body seems just demented.
A more corrupt and incompetent crew would be hard to find.
Their gift to the Western Hemisphere was cholera in Haiti, thanks to the "UN peace keeping forces".

Wrll, I dunno, there are the bankers.......

The book you're looking for is "Childhood's End", by Arthur C. Clarke.

A good book read at age 15.

The reference has become obscure:
The Monitors (film), a 1969 film based on Laumer's novel.

"The Monitors" reminds me of a short story I read years ago about aliens that came to Earth. They stopped wars, etc, etc, improved everyone's health. They all carried around a book called "To Serve Man".

It turned out to be a cookbook.

To Serve Man: Twilight Zone
'The story is based on the short story "To Serve Man," written by Damon Knight.'

(quick edit, 5 min)

(Full Episode - part 1, 10 min)

I answered your question in an earlier comment. I didn't get any replies and you haven't mentioned my comment. In a previous thread's comment I mentioned a goal of regulation similar to NTL-06 for oil industry. That comment also received no replies. So, although we see lots of venting of radiation from excess pressure, I am left to believe most are quite content with the status quo.

Punchnrun hits the nail on the head when he states, "...we need to recognize our limitations." We currently use carrots and sticks and I like that method. There used to be a noticeable stench where I live due to paper mills. This problem went away very quickly when county passed an "odor law" ordinance allowing private citizens to file complaints followed by fines of paper mill.

So, the challenge is how do we define the desired carrots and sticks. I would stress this also needs to be done with a need to recognize limitations. The EPA is attempting to change carrots and sticks regarding CO2 emissions for coal-based power plants. And they are encountering serious pushback that may halt their efforts. The limitation regards the negative impact these steps may have. If a nuclear plant is shutdown for the public good, workers at that power plant should receive special treatment to help move on. My opinion is the scope of carrots and sticks is too small. It rarely gives or takes from individual taxpayers and is applied solely to business entities. It would do wonders to add a nuclear surcharge/rebate to monthly power bills. Rebates for those who don't use nuclear and surcharges for those who do.

Anyway, there is no shortage of ideas for what we shouldn't do. We truly need practical and well thought out ideas for what we should do.

Food for thought...

For example, we may drive round and round a parking lot looking for a parking spot close to a store entrance because some primordeal brain algorithm says we'll use less energy. If we used the rational part of our brains, we would park far away and give our technologically coddled bodies some needed exercise. In addition, we're probably not going to buy something we really need to sustain our homeostasis in the environment but rather to get an additional neurogasmic shot of dopamine.

Or you can watch the women who lunch driving around and around at the health club parking lot looking for the closest space, or even better, parking illegally in the handicapped spaces--such efficiency.

You don't think there are men that do that?


IAEA Update: New earthquake in Japan (7 April, 17:30 UTC)
The IAEA confirms that an earthquake occurred in Japan at 14:32 UTC 7 April. The IAEA International Seismic Safety Centre has rated it as a 7.1 magnitude, revised from an initial 7.4 magnitude. The epicenter of the earthquake was 20 km from the Onagawa nuclear power plant and approximately 120 km from the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants.

The IAEA has been in contact with NISA and can confirm the status of the following nuclear facilities:

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
NISA confirms that no changes have been observed at the on-site radiation monitoring posts. The injection of water into the reactor pressure vessels of Units 1, 2 and 3 was not interrupted.

Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant
NISA confirms that no changes have been observed of the readings at the on-site radiation monitoring posts.

Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant
All reactors have been in cold shutdown since the 11 March earthquake.

NISA has confirmed that two out of the three lines supplying off-site power to the site were lost following the 7 April earthquake. Off-site power continues to be supplied through the third line.

Cooling of the spent fuel pool was temporarily lost, but has subsequently been restored.

No change has been observed in the readings from the on-site radiation monitoring post. The status of the plant is currently being checked.

Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant
Tokai Daini nuclear power plant remains in cold shutdown since the 11 March earthquake. No abnormality has been observed.

Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant
NISA has confirmed that the Higashidori NPP was shutdown and in a maintenance outage at the time of the 7 April earthquake. Off-site power has been lost. Emergency power supply to the site is operating. All the fuel had been removed from the reactor core and stored in the spent fuel pool. Cooling of the spent fuel pool is operational.

Tomari Nuclear Power Plant (in Hokkaido)
At the time of the 7 April earthquake Tomari Unit 1 and Unit 2 were in operation. Following the 7 April earthquake, the Hokkaido Electric Power Company reduced the generating power to 90% of capacity.

Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant
NISA confirms that Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant and uranium enrichment facility lost off-site power. Emergency power supply to the site is operating.

The IAEA will issue further information as soon as it becomes available.

When arguments fall into my lap, I might as well pick up my hammer and nails.

"No one really knows the net yield of nuclear power because at present its use is subsidized by fossil fuels in a thousand ways that cannot be estimated until we try to run a nuclear system without them. Will nuclear power have a more concentrated value than the wood output of the solar system, or of coal, or of cheap oil from rich deposits? The new power plant seems to be more economical than the competing fossil plants as long as it is running on the accumulated storages of nuclear fuel and fuel prospecting done on fossil-fuel subsidy. Is nuclear power at this level of net power delivery possible in a culture that does not have the accompanying fossil fuels?" (Odum, 1971, p. 135)

Thanks for this data, but WHY are they keeping us in the dark on the status of the Wind Turbines? I think we deserve to know..

fission and fusion are also vastly different beasts. Energy is a wonderful thing to be able to utilize and I agree that the Sun is the glaringly obvious way to get it. I believe I share your view that fission is a terrible way to get energy due to the current consequences...

However, it's important not to tar fusion with the same brush. If the predictions from ITER prove true, we may have a very sustainable energy source in fusion that produces relatively little and generally short lived radioactive material. I believe the investment is worthwhile, not because we're likely to have fusion as a big part of the energy pie in 20 years but because the possibility of having it available, even if it takes a 1000 years is well worth the return.

For the moment however, taking all the wasted millions from carbon capture and building large scale solar-thermal, wind and geothermal makes sense. However, I suspect the playing field is far from level and the interests far too well vested...

Something I don't understand about fusion is why it can be asserted it is free from the radioactive daughter products that plague fission reactors. As I understand it, a product of the fusion reaction is a flood of neutrons. Neutraons which have the same potential to bang into other atoms, splitting some, being captured in others etc and generally creating the same kinds of radionuclides that are such a problem in the spent fuel rods.

Where am I wrong? What am I missing?

For fission, you need to bang into the right sorts of atoms.

In fusion, the reactor materials will become activated, but the isotopes created are short-lived.

The majority of the worst radionucleides from fission are a direct result of the reaction chain.

The reaction chain for fusion yields Helium.

Neutron activation of structural materials is still a problem, but if you don't have the fission chain radionucleides to deal with at the same time it is much more managable.

So, no uranium, no plutonium means no cesium, strontium or iodine?

and no plutonium, americium or other transuranics with half lives of 25,000 years or so.

Fast-spectrum reactors can essentially get rid of the transuranics; they fission much better with high-energy neutrons, and don't seem to accumulate.

Indeed. There are a few awkward radio-isotope issues - you need the steels used in the exposed bits to be very strongly cobalt-free, which is a pity since that's the alloying element you'd like to use to get the physical properties right - but there's been quite a bit of research into low-activation iron/chromium/tungsten steels.

I think the research has got to the point of deciding that iron-based alloys are usable (there was a period working on vanadium/chromium/titanium alloys, which required lots of very basic metallurgy because nobody thought of vanadium as a bulk structural material before - they turn out, as most elaborate alloys do, to be very inconvenient to weld).

Even if you can't get rid of the cobalt, Co-60 has a half life of 5.3 years. so you a looking at storing the metal containing it for a century at best. That isn't very hard.

Neutron activation of structural materials is still a problem

Not just activation.  At least in D-T reactors, scattering of 14.7 MeV neutrons is enough to displace atoms in the material, causing its properties to change in very unwelcome ways.  This limits the lifetime of the reactor parts inside the neutron absorbers and creates an on-going flow of activated waste materials.

Neutrons in fission reactors don't just have lower energies, they represent a much smaller fraction of the total energy released.  If you have e.g. a LFTR which generates waste that's largely decayed in 500 years, it appears to be on par with a D-T fusion reactor for waste generation without any of the difficult technical issues.

The reaction chain for fusion yields Helium.

Wait. Helium? Really?
That's one of the elements we are going to run out of soon.
So fusion would solve two problems!

Leaving only the fact that we seem to strip every ecosystem we find loaded with resources. Which would still leave us humans in trouble eventually...

Hi PunchNRun,

Before addressing radioactive waste, one of the main differences is that Fusion is really difficult to sustain. So if your setup moves a mm, loses some voltage or your magnetic field changes a bit .. the fusion turns off. That's partly the reason it's so difficult to make it work. In that regard, it's more fail-safe. For fission, if you lose control it can go berzerk and you need to be there, for fusion, it will shut down ... and you can walk away.

In theory, the reaction is very clean, H+H -> He+energy. (the energy from the E=mc^2 where m is the difference of mass between two H and one He).

In practice they'll probably use D+T (deuterium and tritium ... which are Hydrogen isotopes). Producing the "fuel", and combining it will produce various sources of radiation and decay (neutrons, fast electrons, neutrinos ... and depending on how you produce it possibly radioactive carbon or others). But generally they are all short lived (seconds, days) .. or easy to manage (wall, lead, etc).

Now, the problem is that the plasma is at 100-1000 million deg. celcius. At that temperature particles are moving fast, really fast! Even charged ones which should be easy to hold with an electromagnetic field escape as soon as you have a little defect, edge or point in your field. And neutrons are of course harder to hold as they don't have charge.

So basically the problem is neutrons and some H atoms hitting the walls of the reactor. Those walls will slowly (in a controlled way) but surely become radioactive // but a different kind of radionuclides. The details are yet to be resolved. (currently for some designs walls could be radioactive 50 - 100 years ... not a great solution but not as bad as fission). However, if that problem is solved ... it may be incredibly cheap energy (up to you to judge if that's good).

By the way, Fukushima wind farm keeps spinning after the earthquake.
If directly connected to the pumps with a good deal of cable redundancy ... wind could have saved nuclear power. Well, shame it didn't in this world.

Several thoughtful posts in response to my initial question. Thank you.

So there are still some "nasties" produced. We expect that there will be less, but of course we will almost certainly overcome that by scaling up a few thousand fold (snark-off). We expect (hope) that we can learn better how to manage these. Certainly the products will not include the transuranics (plutonium etc) that are particularly hard to deal with.

Still, I think there is an element of doubt there. And there are technical hurdles to overcome. Fusion power always seems to be fifty years away.

But fission is here *now* and presents us with two issues today. First is dealing with the "spent fuel" collections presently stashed in the immediate vicinity of every nuclear installation extant. The second is the cleanup of the disastrously mismanaged spills and accidents we've had in the past sixty years. Like the Hanford Washington plant, the Savannah River plant, the Chernobyl site and now Fukushima. To mention only the ones we know of. Who is to say what is left from the former Soviet Union and Chinese nuclear weapons programs. And unfortunately these will have to be managed for thousands of years, longer than we can find records or evidence of record keeping, human civilization or even agriculture.

But they exist, so being pro or anti is not going to solve any problems related to what is already in place.

Thinking about what I understand was the original topic on TOD, how do we get through the next few decades while the supply of readily available, inexpensive oil is exhausted. I doubt that either fission or fusion are slam-dunk solutions. The one has caused as much or more trouble than it is worth, and the other is not only not here yet, but likely to bring new problems - doesn't everything?

On the alternative energy fron, the problems with photovoltaics are related to the relative inefficiency of conversion, and with wind the total power available, not to mention the need to store power because they are not guaranteed to be there when needed. I understand that researchers are making great advances in PV conversion efficiency using tricks like broadening the spectrum from which power can be converted and other nanomaterials technologies to improve efficiency - though there is a theoretical limit to how far that can go.

I wonder what we could do if we invested the amount of money we've wasted on military adventurism and bailing out the financial industry into improving energy efficiency and facilitating lifestyle changes. Or just dig a very very deep hole and mine the heat. Or two very very deep holes, one for the heat, and the other for the spent fuel currently littering the countryside. I think 100KM might be good for a start. I can think of a few places we could use, one in Ukraine near Kiev and another in Japan on the east coast of Honshu island.

When I was a teenager, and I would hear all the yelling about nuclear waste, I used to wonder, "We have a giant super-incinerator in the sky. Why don't don't we load the waste on rockets and shoot it into the sun for disposal?"

But over the last few years, NASA's success rate for actually getting stuff into orbit- as opposed to getting it off the ground- tells me why :(

Depending on how long ago you were a teenager, you might remember that they were working on a container for rad waste that would survive a launch failure. The moon would be an OK place to store the waste.

The moon would be an OK place to store the waste.

Many simulations were run on this very idea. It did not end well.

Space: 1999 is a British science-fiction television series that originally aired from 1975 to 1977[1]. In the opening episode, nuclear waste from Earth stored on the Moon's far side explodes in a catastrophic accident on 13 September 1999, knocking the Moon out of orbit and sending it and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha hurtling uncontrollably into space. The series was the last production by the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

Science fiction holds zero fascination. Reinforcing my disinterest, placing an explosion at the far side would shift the moon's momentum towards the earth. Really doesn't matter since it is fiction and just an excuse for story-telling. And commenters attaching these to discussions because "science" is in the title. I suppose people choose "Science Diet" for dog and cat food because it has science in its name.

The concept was studied in earnest at the time by mainstream science. I will try to find some articles. The space shuttle was going strong. Without Rodenberry, does Sagan make the same impact? Does Shatner help Hawking spread the word? There is nothing wrong with folks like me discussing pop science. Just for that webs, I am gong to do some calculations to try and disprove your statement, Reinforcing my disinterest, placing an explosion at the far side would shift the moon's momentum towards the earth.
The dark side if the moon is a hemisphere and a directional blast or off center blast would start the moon rotating. In fact right after I post, I am going back to some moon capture math that I learned from evil pop TV science.

Edit: Can't science be fun too, and not so serious all the time. Particle jokes get old.

Orbital dynamics. If the explosion was on the orbital trailing portion of the far side it would increase the velocity of the moon while increasing the eccentricity of it's orbit.

Of course an explosion that imparted enough energy to result in the delta-V indicated in the series would probably have shattered the moon instead of making it fly away, but there were so many things wrong with that series that it is a minor quibble :)

I watched Nova back then for science. Space 1999 was more of social message thing than a science thing, but Martin Laundau. What a legend. It was this and Star Trek that inspired me to get a science degree.
So what would an explosion on the orbital LEADING side do?

Similar distortion of the orbital shape, but unless it was strong enough to reverse the orbit completely it would result in the moon having a smaller orbit.

Who really cares, it's science fiction. I'd rather hear your defense of single radiation events not causing dangerous mutations than some Star Track trivia.

Spock: "Your logic is impeccable, Captain. We are in grave danger." (The Changeling, 1967)

Science fiction never covered
such a situation as this.
The genre embraces rational extensions:
No one wrote about denying mutations...
They wrote about mutants.

Then again, in this movie:
A mysterious radioactive mist sweeps over France.
The French deny its existence.

Even in their wildest dreams
Humans underestimate human insanity.
Instead they glorify themselves
and make a god in their image.

Aguirre the Wrath of God:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQYKDrOs_j8 Monkey toss
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQYKDrOs_j8 Music
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aguirre_the_wrath_of_god ?

John Brunner, "Stand on Zanzibar," "The Sheep Look Up." Walter M. Miller "A Canticle for Liebowitz," Stephen Baxter "Evolution." Anne Patchett "The Magician's Assistant," "The Patron Saint of Liars," Claude Brown "Manchild in the Promised Land"

Good fiction lets us look at the world through someone else's eyes, lets us have experiences we could not otherwise have. It broadens our outlook, makes us question our assumptions, or illustrates ideas so we can examine them and their corollaries.

The systems that persist the longest are the ones with some element of self-preservation. But over time that element comes to dominate, so that the system devotes all of its resources to self preservation and none to whatever purpose was originally intended.

A Canticle for Leibowitz!


"Set in a Roman Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself. The monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz take up the mission of preserving the surviving remnants of man's scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it."

Really good reading for The Oil Drum audience.

Thank you. I copied the list you present to a file. Thanks again.

Asimov's Nightfall and On the Beach have always haunted me.



I wonder if cities will get plunged into a 'Nightfall One' situation if power goes off completely and does not come on again. A little different as there will be daylight but with nothing working........ Reminds me of one office powercut. A rather vociferous data wrangler announced that if she could no longer use her computer then at least she may as well do some photocopying and stomped of towards the photocopying room. 3.. 2.. 1.. she flowed out of the door and away, off down the darkened corridor, face buried in her documents.


You also need to remember the Cost/Kg of lifting payload to begin with. That stuff isn't light.

It's not workable if it isn't affordable. 'No Bucks, No Buck Rogers'

Two words. Space elevator.

So long as we are dealing with speculative "future history" -- and despite the start of this discussion we are veering so far from TOD's purpose I am prepared to see this flagged as off topic -- we ought to consider what might be key technologies that could enable innovative solutions. A space elevator has been postulated by a number of scifi writers, some of whom have strong engineering or scientific credentials. Such a technology may reduce the cost of moving things we don't want hanging around to a place where we feel safer storing them.

I understand a key enabling technology is high strength materials, and that those materials seem to be in sight, if not in hand. In the form of carbon nanotubules. Interesting.

I am continually drawn to the idea of geothermal energy. I have thoughts of running pipes deep enough to extract large amounts of heat, so we can circulate water, boil it, and run turbines with the resulting steam. How deep would we have to go to do this, picking a place on earth where it is reasonable? Yellowstone National Park is out. The heat may be close to the surface but aesthetic concerns trump cheapness. I'll suggest Denver or LA, where the power is needed and fossil fueled power generation is particularly bad due to air quality problems, and maybe geothermal energy is deep underground. Or maybe near Kiev because if we could dig a real deep hole we could dispose of some of the really nasty stuff we would really really like to remove from the biosphere.

So what technical issues will pop up there?

Space elevator - no way. Pity, but do you have any idea what it would entail? And we have had a hard time deploying little solar panels on a clunky station in low earth orbit.

Geothermal - there have been some past posts on TOD that go into it pretty deeply. It should be used more, though there are limitations. Lookin' pretty good next to fission about now.

Like Gregory Beford's Sky Hooks. Great technology as he presented it, but vulnerable to bad weather, alien invasion, asteroid strike, etc.

To the extent that a space elevator is feasible - it's not the existence but the construction I'm not so sure about - my take on the concept is that the nation-state that constructs one first will effectively "own space." I speculate that the future will not see a nation-state per se construct one because the implications of having one will drive other nation-states to put a stop to any construction attempt by force.

I'm not above a little fun speculation.. but around this issue, we have imminent problems to really deal with.

I really can't take time thinking about shooting it into space, or space elevators. I don't see these as viable at all. Even with the math that was offered for lifting.. it's just silly. We're talking about hundreds of flights, all that effort and material, when we have HUGE energy issues to get to work on. Resource limits would change those calcs very quickly.. and what about the pollution and fuel resources for all those launches?

Stay on target.

I was going to say "You need to poke holes in your box" but that's not fair. We need to poke holes in our box.

If there is anyone here who is instrumental in addressing the Fukushima problem, and you are not just taking a break and broadening your own horizons (or looking for a laugh to relieve the pressure), please get back to doing something serious and important.

The rest of us need to focus on brainstorming, because the solutions that have been tried so far are looking very improvable.

Anything else is tantamount to putting into action that old adage "if in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout."

Admirable, yes.

But we are not at the helm.
She's struck a rock
...and the captain is telling us everything is fine.
Run to the lifeboats now, if you want to do something real.
Good advice for those within a hundred miles of the thing.
But the little rafts won't cross the sky.
As a dust alien to nature blows around this earth
...and the captain is telling us everything is fine.
She's struck a rock
but we are not at the helm.

So sing a silly song!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=astISOttCQ0 -117,777,804 views-

Indeedy, let's just pack all the nastiest, most lethal stuff in the universe into one little capsule and blast it up high enough into the atmosphere that when it explodes it will spew it nice and evenly across the planet so that every freakin thing with anything resembling a lung will have a nice little dose of something nice and radioactive lodged deep in some pulmonary crevice where it will stay bombarding neighboring cells till all sorts of nasty carcinogenic cells start to appear.

Great plan!!

Almost as good as the adolescent wet dream plans that got us into the multiple predicaments we now face...

Present proof that a spherical steel container with an ablative heat shield would rupture if the rocket explodes, undergoes an uncontrolled reentry and lands in the ocean or on ground. Attach a transponder to make locating it easy. Hydrazine tanks have fallen from orbit and survived intact.

As for jokuhl's comment about the cost of lifting payload into space, it is a cost that can be calculated and paid by the people who use the electricity, unlike the current disposal methods that externalize the cost and burden onto future generations who will receive no benefit. The cost of launching it into Sun measures the greed of the industry and consumers.

What is the fee to add to the electric bill?

6 million pounds of high-level waste / year in U.S.
Thickness of spherical steel container: 9 inches
density of steel: 7.9 g/cm3
Size of Delta II long fairing: 3 m x 9.25 m
Earth escape payload for Delta II: 1.519 tons = 3,038 pounds
Cost to launch a Delta II rocket: $60 million
Weight of Mars Exploration Rover: 2,343 pounds
Total U.S. nuclear power in 2010: 807 TW·hr / year

Estimated cost to launch payload into space: $60 million / 2,343 pounds = $25,600 / pound

A Delta II rocket could contain 3 spherical containers with a 3 m diameter. The empty spheres would weigh: π*(300 cm/ 2)2 - π*((300-45.7)/2)2 * 7.9 g/cm3 * 3 spheres = 472 kg = 1038 pounds

Fractional weight of containers: 1038 pounds/3038 pounds = 34.2%

6 million pounds/year /(1 - .342) * $25,600 / pound = $233 billion / year

$233 billion / yr / 807 billion kW·hr / yr = $.289 / kW·hr

It would have cost about 30 cents per kW·hr to dispose of high level radioactive waste permanently without externalizing any of the cost onto future generations. Reprocessing and reusing might be cheaper, but that encourages nuclear weapons proliferation.

Back then the expectation was that payload to orbit costs would decline tremendously.

Early cost estimates of $118 per pound of payload were based on marginal or incremental launch costs, and based on 1972 dollars and assuming a 65,000 pound payload capacity. http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/space/Space%20Shuttl...

A 100X difference would make space disposal cheaper, although I really don't like the idea of dropping the stuff into the sun. Talk about unplanned experiments.

Hi BlueTwilight,

I think the math might be wrong. The volume of a sphere is 4/3 x pi x r^3 (not from memory, I had to check wikipedia :)
So the volume of a hollow sphere would be 4/3 x pi x (r1^3 - r2^3). Using a 9 inch wall thickness I get r1 = 150cm and r2 = 127.14cm. total hollow sphere volume is 5,528,513cm^3. with 7.9 g/cm^3 as the density of steel I end up with just over 43.67 tons per steel ball. Meaning I don't think the protection for the radioactive material can go up with the radioactive material...

Russian roulette anyone?

We have some pretty stable granite up here in Canada where we might be storing our nuclear waste (if we can keep it safe for 1000-5000 years we think that future generations will be able to take care of it better than us). Some days I'm about 50-50 with thinking that it might work, but then I look at the news and I think that humankind can't even fix standard problems that require only a little bit of work (nets and medicine for malaria, sand filters for clean water, vaccinations for polio), do we really think this won't blow up in our faces?

I just find "if we can keep it safe for 1000-5000 years we think that future generations will be able to take care of it better than us"
too much.

It is incredibly selfish to think we have any right to demand that from them. Its only OK with me if we get their permission first.

Very nicely put.

I think that should be the official position of all administrations.

You could reprocess to remove the uranium, it would reduce the payload by 90-95%, but again, there are proliferation concerns.

$.289 / kW·hr * 0.05 = $0.01445/kW·hr to $0.0289/kW·hr + reprocessing

Thanks for the awesome analysis. That would have taken a fair amount of time to research.

I try to focus on the goal and search for ways to accomplish the goal. In this case, the goal is to use the sun as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. And the information in your comment is a great draft for discussion of this goal with economic impact clearly shown. With further fine-tuning of draft, the economic impact very well may become acceptable.

...one of the main differences is that Fusion is really difficult to sustain.

I am wondering if someone can attach some numbers to this. Anyone here know the current stats on the longest sustained experimental fusion reaction?

So if your setup moves a mm, loses some voltage or your magnetic field changes a bit.

That voltage is all from an external power source, is it not? I take it that given the difficulties in producing a sustained fusion reaction, it hasn't been practicable to supply voltage generated from the self-same fusion reaction (after start-up, which obviously requires external power).

In theory, the reaction is very clean, H+H -> He+energy. (the energy from the E=mc^2 where m is the difference of mass between two H and one He).

In practice they'll probably use D+T (deuterium and tritium ... which are Hydrogen isotopes). Producing the "fuel", and combining it will produce various sources of radiation and decay

Has an H1 + H1 --> He reaction actually been done experimentally? Or has all the experimental fusion been of the D + T kind?

How much energy is required to produce the "fuel" - i.e. convert stable H1 to unstable isotopes D and T, and how much direct energy is required to run the reaction, compared to the amount of energy obtained from the reaction? (Ignoring embodied energy used to create the equipment, etc.) Has, in practice, the net energy balance ever been found to be positive? If the answer is yes, has the balance ever been found to be positive to an extent large enough to make fusion a prospective boon to civilization, x decades in the future? Or are all such notions based on looking narrowly at what the reaction could produce "in theory" if the reaction could be made self-sustaining? Or to put the last question another way, are we talking about what could be produced "in theory" if the factors on the other side of the equation could somehow be made to drop out of the picture?

Has any other earthly experience demonstrated a net yield of energy from fusion? Specifically, how does the energy that goes into producing a thermonuclear bomb compare with the energy yielded?

These questions have been nagging me for some time. It would be great if someone more knowledgeable about the specifics would care to comment.

...one of the main differences is that Fusion is really difficult to sustain.

I am wondering if someone can attach some numbers to this. Anyone here know the current stats on the longest sustained experimental fusion reaction?

Maybe start the math on sustainable fusion reactions from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_stars to here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergiant .

Edit: And stop here too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddington_limit

Fusion reactions have never been sustained.

The Electrostatic Inertial Confinement reactor has produced fusion for short periods of time at levels far below (orders of magnitude below) a positive return on energy. The EIC is not popular with physicists, maybe for reasons of the politics of funding, or maybe because the technical assessment that the order-of-magnitudes improvement in the rate of fusion cannot be achieved is after all valid. It is hard to be sure. And of course on the other hand no magnetic bottle design such as the ITER has done better than the EIC, or even produced any fusion at all. So magnetic bottles too look like a money hole, and indeed a much, much larger one.

For decades fusion energy has consistently remained 20 years in the future.

The H + H reaction won't go without heat and pressure that are obviously beyond reach, such as inside a star.

D + D and D + T look better. Deuterium can be extracted from seawater. Compare: H2O weighs 18 grams/mole while D2H weighs 19 grams/mole, so separation is rather easy. But D + D still requires very high heat and pressure.

D + T would be easier than D + D. Tritium, however, mainly comes as a free ride (by product) from the nuclear fission industry.

To make the energy return of a thermonuclear bomb positive, make it big and hot enough that you can make use of the D + D = He reaction, for hydrogen is cheap! But this is no help.

I'm not sure you're quite correct in what you're saying here.

JET in the 1997 experiments with a deuterium-tritium fuel produced 10MW of fusion for half a second (peak power 16MW); yes, it took 24MW to run the magnets in that period, but that was definitely power from fusion.

Nobody doubts that ITER will get to break-even - the question is whether it will produce, for few-minute pulses, two or ten times the power required to run the magnets - though it will be terribly expensive. ITER is not designed with tritium-breeding lithium blankets, though some will be tested there.

JET in the 1997 experiments with a deuterium-tritium fuel produced 10MW of fusion for half a second (peak power 16MW); yes, it took 24MW to run the magnets in that period, but that was definitely power from fusion.

Thanks, everyone, for their input on this.

If "in that period" refers to the same half second, this still looks like negative return to me.

Nobody doubts that ITER will get to break-even

It hasn't happened yet, even on timescales of the order of a half second, but still nobody doubts that break even will be achieved. Curious.

I didn't say that there wasn't negative return, I said that there was energy from fusion, which is what the previous post was denying.

JET isn't really designed to run D+T mix; the scientists there reckon that they could get to a bit over break-even if running D+T again, but it would mean spending lots of time and expense on getting tritium residue out of the reactor that they'd rather use on testing ITER component.

We're at about the position in fusion that we were with rocketry at Sputnik: nobody doubted that you could get a rocket to the Moon in 1961 - it was clearly going to be an expensive technical problem, but it was clear enough that there wouldn't be show-stoppers that JFK was willing to rest America's prestige on doing it. It's going a lot slower than the space race, because we're spending a lot less and nobody's resting the prestige of a superpower on it.

JET was not intended to break even but rather was built to prove the confinement system and fusion. This is a stepped program. Other reactors have pushed out confinement to several minutes. ITER is the next step up. Each step builds the data for the next. People expect ITER to break even because that is what it is being designed to do, it is not a shot in the dark hope it will do something.


We'll soon know (unless retrograde Teapot Republicans decide to cancel the whole shebang).

The second mainstream approach uses multiple high energy laser beams to heat and compress a tiny pellet of fuel. This Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) technique is now coming to fruition as a nearly all-American project in California. “Ignition” experiments planned for this year are expected to yield pulses of fusion energy equal to that used by the huge laser array to trigger them—this would be the first achievement of “breakeven.”
None of the systems now in operation or under construction has been designed to yield more energy to the power grid than is put in to drive the process. However both MFE and ICF, and other theoretical designs, define clear pathways to the development of commercial utility-scale power plants for installation around the world before the middle of this century. Such next-generation power sources, built in conjunction with other nearer-term energy sources, could change the world.

NIF is almost ready and it will begin running tests next May.


Moses says he hopes that ignition will take place in 2012. But he is keen not to raise expectations, having had to deal with many technical problems since construction started on NIF back in 1997. Indeed, he and his colleagues had predicted last January that ignition would be achieved by the end of 2010. "We might be able to reach ignition around spring or summertime next year," he says. "But there's a lot of physics that can run us off course in the meantime."

I actually worked in the area from 79 to 84. The current is supplied by induction. Dump a humongous current into the magnet coils. They were also working on injecting extra heat via neutral(ized) beams, or radiofrequency heating. Not sure if they have radio frequency methods to sustain the current, it does decay because the plasma isn't perfectly conducting. The thermal energy in the plasma is maybe a percent or two of the energy in the magnetic field. There is also very little mass in the plasma.

D+T is the easiest reaction to get going. There is also D+He3. D+D would be cleaner, but I think it is a lot tougher to get to go. H+H+H+H=>He4 would be great, but is way way way tougher. Satrs intially burn through their Deuterium and Lithium, before igniting regulat hydrogen. There is a range of brown dwarfs that gets hot enough to burn the Dueterium and Lithium, but never ignite hydrogen.

I think the big hurdle is not getting scientific breakeven (fusion energy released equals electrical energy in), or even engineering breakeven, (electrical energy out equals electrical energy in), but to get reactor economics to work out so the power would be affordable.

D+D yields 3He + n, but with less energy than D+T.  Not the kind of thing we can do without a lot better tech than we've got.

The cleanest option is 11B + p -> 3 α.  No neutrons, all energy deposited in the plasma.

Yes, the power is from external sources.

Magnetic confinement fusion attempts to bottle a bit of star.
Inertial confinement fusion implodes a tiny sphere with a laser.
I've seen the forces of ultrasonic cavitation proposed for same.

Bombs can be built really small.

This one has the yield of 30,000 Lbs of TNT explosive.*
It weighs 60 pounds or so. This suggests the ratio you seek.
A similar device can fuse a hydrogen rich fuel and produce
10,000,000,000 Lbs of TNT (Trinitrotoluene) of explosive force.


Fission and fusion only yield some tiny amount of E=MC2:
The only thing that happens is some neutrons are moved about.
Most of the original mass remains.
The temperature is 10,000,000 degrees C.

Protons and neutrons are made of quarks.
They vibrate on tubules of chromoelectricty with a force of 14 tons.
If the noise of space-time is reduced, the quarks uncouple.
The temperature is 27,000,000,000,000 degrees C.
All that has happened is the glueons have evaporated.
Most of the mass remains.

Relaxing space-time and allowing all the matter to radiate away as energy gives the full amount you had in mind: E=MC2.

Force=1/2 Mass times the square of Velocity.
The highest velocity is the speed of light, C.
Force is, here, equivalent to Energy.
So Energy = Mass times the speed of light, C, squared... if you let it radiate away as energy. What happens to the 1/2 is the subject of another story.

*Taken from the Davey Crocket device.
the 15 kiloton line in "artillery" is not right?


In the third in a series of tests of Rossi’s Cat-E cold fusion reactor, no radiation or even isotopic shifts away from natural abundances have be found in the reactors nuclear waste products.

It's easy to make a fusion reactor produce no radiation waste if it's not actually a fusion reactor.

If this reactor does not operate using a nuclear process, then it must be alchemy, so pick your poison. Whatever, the causation, this reactor produces loads of energy.

why bring fission and fusion reactions into the biosphere just to enable another round of unsustainable growth when we have a huge reactor called the sun at a safe distance.

Because it takes a lot more land and materials to capture the diffuse energy flows than to harness a very compact one, and taking that land away from either agriculture or wildlife has costs too.

Because it takes a lot more land and materials to capture the diffuse energy flows than to harness a very compact one, and taking that land away from either agriculture or wildlife has costs too.

Engineer-poet - you seem to have a very narrow view into your domain for which you are able to spew all kinds of technical jargon - yet when it comes to anything else - your disparagement amounts to either naive simplicities or simply lack of knowledge?

It is a simple and widely known calculation that solar thermal energy (STE) for example could cover world needs (2005 figure) of 18.000 TWh/a with an array covering 300 km² ...

Of the world's gross potential arable area (rainfed) land area of some 41,000,000 km we are utilizing some 15,000,000 for agriculture. So I think we can manage the 300 by covering a few parking lots...

Not that it should need pointing out to you, that the system on my roof doesn't take away ANY agricultural or wildlife area.

And as for the material claim, I can't even be ... to Google it because its just ...

So. What's your angle/point'? Could you explain? another r4ndom-type who 'has done his research'?

- Ransu

One of the problems with these discussions is that most of the ideologues are innumerate and couldn't check their assumptions if they wanted to.  Case in point:

It is a simple and widely known calculation that solar thermal energy (STE) for example could cover world needs (2005 figure) of 18.000 TWh/a with an array covering 300 km² ...

Wrong.  Humanity uses about 4*1020 J/yr of energy.  A square kilometer receiving 1.0 GW at 25% duty cycle gets 7.8*1015 J/yr; even at 100% efficiency, 300 km² collects just 2.3% of human energy use.  A square 300 km on a side (9e4 km²) still falls short even before conversion losses.

you seem to have a very narrow view into your domain for which you are able to spew all kinds of technical jargon - yet when it comes to anything else - your disparagement amounts to either naive simplicities or simply lack of knowledge?

Never let it be said that I don't appreciate irony.

Not that it should need pointing out to you, that the system on my roof doesn't take away ANY agricultural or wildlife area.

I've pointed this out myself.  The problem is that the system on the roof does not stand alone; it requires transmission systems, storage systems, and other things we don't have in anything like the amounts we'd need to rely mostly on such sources, and which require still more resources to build.

There are things that solar does very well.  Heating DHW?  Great.  Supplying power for summer-peaking loads like A/C?  Nearly perfect.  But heating homes in winter?  Not so good, needs substantial backup.  Energy for 24/7 industrial processes?  Best to look elsewhere.

A solar system on my roof requires less transmission systems then a centralized billion watt power station off in the boondocks somewhere with a high voltage power line to a step down substation in the city.

What does it require when your whole state is under clouds and the sun only starts coming down in earnest 500 miles away on the other side of a front?

No, bad Engineer-Poet! Bad!

Robert only doubted your "area needed for transmission systems" with his comment - he did NOT refer in any way to the inherent intermittancy of solar system which we all are well aware here in TOD - dozens of articles have been written about the issue here.

Do I have to spell it out: using a strawman argument doesn't give you any points here. It only makes people think you are trolling the thread for what ever sociopathic or advocacy reasons you have.

It does not contribute in any way. Most of your comments which started appearing just this evening, are drive-by type throws with no thought or consideration given to the subject under discussion - nor any mercy to the people you are supposedly rebutting.

It's as if that account had been hijacked by a lunatic...

Ransu is right that land area is not an issue for solar energy. However, his figure for the amount of land surface needed to sustain it is wrong, while Engineer-Poet's math is correct. (But see below for the final scorecard!)

A note about hidden assumptions: Engineer-Poet is considering *total energy usage* from all sources, while Ransu is talking only about electricity. But Ransu's value is still way off:

Average solar energy input over Earth's surface, averaging over day & night, and all latitudes: 340 W/m^2
Assumption: clouds will lower this average, but building solar plants at low latitude will raise it: assume that's a wash
Solar thermal electricity efficiency: assume 25%

World electricity generation: 18.8 trillion kilowatthours in 2007 = 2e12 watts

Area needed to provide electricity to the world = 2e12 / (340 * .25) = 2.3e10 m^2 = 23,000 km^2. This is a square 151 km on a side -- it's possible Ransu misread "300 km on a side" as "300 km^2".

Down-thread, Ransu cites a link to the "DESERTEC project" for his value, but I can't find this link in any of his comments in the thread.

While Ransu's number is off by two orders of magnitude, a 151 x 151 km square is is a very reasonable amount of land area in the global scheme of things.

In short, Ransu's math is wrong but his conclusion is right; Engineer-poet's math is right but his conclusion is wrong. Wrong conclusions are more serious than wrong math, but I'm not sure either of you are justified in name-calling.

A couple of Nit picks.. 340W/M^2...

1st. Why on earth would anyone choose an average or a below average location? For better ERORI one should place solar installations in locations with very sunny climates. Like deserts, within 30-35 degrees of equator, etc.

2nd. Paving over the land with solar panels is not an efficient use of resources. Flat plat horizontal to ground is very wasteful. You want the panels mounted 5 or 6 meters off the ground, in a dual axis solar tracking scheme. They can collect solar energy from a greater effective area at times when the sun is not directly overhead.

3rd. Unlike paving over, tracked solar technology allows, and encourages dual use of the area underneath the collector. Unlike fixed mounts the area underneath is no longer permanently shaded on a daily basis. (Enhancing habitat in locations where the intense solar flux dries out much of soil & plant life.)

Note: There are many other advantages to solar tracking, but I won't go through them in this response.

In individually sited applications, you put them where you can.
It is amazing how much you still get on a cloudy day.
Dust on the panel makes little difference.
Tracking is nice, but it adds great complication and invites the wind to take your panels.
So, an over abundance of fixed panels is the simplest.
They wire systems of these things in series to 600Volts these days...
So be careful about fooling with the wiring of one if you are invited to.

Neither of the issues you mention (building at low vs mid-latitude, using tracked vs fixed panels) changes my results by much. I'm interested in order-of-magnitude estimates.

Yes, building at low latitude helps, but best-case scenario, building a solar plant in a cloud-free site right on the equator, gives you 430 W/m^2 -- 20% more than what I assumed. No big deal.

Tracking solar panels do increase the intensity of sunlight on the panels, so fewer panels are needed, but they don't reduce amount of land you need to buy for you solar plant. In fact, they increase it. When the panels are tilted to face the sun, they need to be spread out to avoid shadowing each other; when they're catching noontime sun, this means there are gaps between them.

You're right that these gaps allow you to use the land for other things, but they still count toward the solar plant's land "footprint".

I'm posting from Tucson. What's a cloud?

When it is cloudy we don't have the big air conditioning loads and the panels will still produce at half power.

I'm posting from Tucson. What's a cloud?

I'd try to explain but given that you're in Tucson, I'd have to describe what H2O is, first >;^)

But hey, look on the bright side at least you know what stars are!

I lived in Tucson 1961-1993. Lived nearby and visited frequently until 2008. They don't now know what stars are, at least not dimmer than 2nd magnitude. The light pollution is that bad.

I was referring to the stars you can actually see in Tucson itself. Only the very brightest are actually visible in the city limits.

I'm very familiar with the light effects at Kitt Peak, my father was a Professor of Astronomy at the U of A and I went to Kitt Peak many times. Yes, they've finally stabilized the night-sky degradation there but only after decades of ever worsening light pollution. The 1970's and 1980's were times of horrible increases in light pollution.

www.energyadvocate.com/sokal.pdf is a funny but serious rebuttal of the idea of a billion PV panels, millions of wind turbines etc.

There was a series of posting here in July 2010 about problems and issues with moving towards renewable sources

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6641 under title: "The Fake Fire Brigade - How We Cheat Ourselves about our Energy Future" It was comprehensive, composed of a few separate articles:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6704 Revisiting the 'Fake Fire Brigade' - Part 1 - General Issues
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6758 Revisiting the Fake Fire Brigade Part 2: Biomass - A Panacea?
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6910 The Fake Fire Brigade Revisited #3 - The Biggest Part of Business As Usual - Electricity
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6957 The Fake Fire Brigade Revisited #4 - Delivering Stable Electricity


http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7340 Renewables Won't Keep the Lights On

Renewables Won't Keep the Lights On...

But they are better than no lights.

hard to see the future without them

The local renewables:
The solar panels you have access to,
The wood or HDPE gassifier someone nearby made to run a generator,
The butterfly solar cooker bought from China as a lark,
The horses from the riding school...
These are what are available in an emergency
when the stores have long run out.
You'll want some land with that,
preferably with a stream.
The cities will be no place to be, UNLESS
they have renewables too.

It is the fallback position.
It is where the energy decline declines TO.

solar panel access: no
gassifier someone made: no
solar cooker someone bought: no
horses from the riding school: no, the last one just closed down, bought out by a developer
land: not without a million dollars
stream: check

Well, I still have a full set of plowhorse harness

And blueprints to make a solar cooker...

That's the spirit!!!

I think you can get solar cookers online, made in Minneapolis, not exactly the solar capital of the world but they keep trying.

Ok I looked it up: http://www.solarovens.org/index.html

Now if someone could invent a solar dandelion/mosquito zapper all the Minnesotans would be in heaven.

"Now if someone could invent a solar dandelion/mosquito zapper all the Minnesotans would be in heaven."


That wasn't quite what I had in mind....EWWW.

(I was thinking quicker and cleaner.)

"Now if someone could invent a solar dandelion/mosquito zapper all the Minnesotans would be in heaven."

From what I've heard about Minnesotan skeetos, you should be able to hunt them with shotguns and serve them with cranberry sauce for thanksgiving... Hey it's good protein!

I realize this post is somewhat OT.

Having seen links to these posted every other day, I decided to read them--took me more than a day. Very disappointing! Depressing actually. What nattering neabobs of negativity!

The analysis is both static and bifurcated. The premise appears to be that BAU is the only way to run a grid--and stability must be the primary concern--but we will run out of oil so that cannot work. It is assumed that all energy demand must be instantly satisfied at any time--only current "meter" costs are considered, no externalities are allowed to "cloud" the picture. No credit is given to innovation or further improvements in scale for new technologies, or processes, or even generational societal changes. Just full speed ahead until we all fly over the cliff.

According to the author almost any increase in electricity costs will bring modern society to its knees (why is energy unique among costs that cannot increase?)--because smelting aluminum is energy intensive! Yet because fossil fuels are so incredibly "cheap" any solution or mix of solutions (wind, solar, storage, smart grids, conservation) is simply too expensive to implement on its own or combined. [And "cheap" here is partly the conjurer's trick of shifting many true costs to society at large.] Given that fossil fuels are (artifically?) cheap, one might think now is an ideal time to begin the transition, or heaven forbid begin to "artificially" raise the price before we run out...

Well...energy prices will rise, they have been rising for decades! and they will continue to do so. We will have to make do with less (at least until solar becomes too cheap to meter!) Yes it will be painful--no question. And a perfectly stable grid may not be achieveable...konichiwa Japan?

Yes, this completes my diagnosis:

You see if you have followed the link to the article about the DESERTEC project, you would've seen the source where I pulled the 300 number - and IF you have been honest (on the side of angels) then you would've corrected me according to the source and explanation there - it is indeed a 2005 world electricity demand it referred to - I don't know the source of your figures.

But the real crux of the diagnosis is the fact that your rebuttal in no way addresses the original argument which you made - that of the agricultural/wildlife areas:

1. EVEN if we used your 2.3% figure - we would only need 13,000 km2 - still a fraction of the 26,000,000 km2 arable land available.

2. AND we don't HAVE TO use agricultural land! we can use parking lots, building roofs, or the DESERT! as is the case with DESERTEC I linked to...

3. You then make a further claim about transmission systems - similarly flawed, completely out of scale and ridiculous.

4. You then go into talking about heating - which was not one of my arguments. That's what is called a strawman in the business. You can wave all the arguments you like against whatever you like - I did not make those arguments - thus you got caught with your pants down being dishonest - and a dishonest person is a troll.

Basically a troll reveals himself by being too arrogant to consider the other persons point of view or thinking - merely assuming that all and any means are good to 'scoring point' with his audience. He thus makes no attempt to interpret or give benefit-of-the-doubt to the opponent, but is only interested in making any kind of counterpoint. He fails to impress because everyone will be familiar with this way of arguing from the playground in the kindergarten.

So my diagnosis is that you're actually not a very good troll. The people who are paying you should find someone else.


- Ransu

Because it takes a lot more land and materials to capture the diffuse energy flows than to harness a very compact one, and taking that land away from either agriculture or wildlife has costs too.

Some of the Japanese might disagree with that idea today, since Dai-ichi is doing a number on their agriculture and wildlife.

It has been pointed out repeatedly that Japan has abundant geothermal resources, enough to replace fissionthermal with ease. Geothermal in a land of hot springs is by far the more elegant solution.

I have wondered about geothermal. It sounds so great.

But I have read (can't remember where) that if too many household geothermal systems are installed in the same area, the widespread transfer of the ground heat into the houses causes the frost line to get deeper. That can affect winter survival of the plants in the affected area.

If you had tried to sound a warning 60 years ago about carbon dioxide warming the atmosphere, just about every scientist on earth would have said, there's no way man could ever put enough carbon dioxide in the air to change anything. The atmosphere is just too big for us to affect like that.

It's all about unforeseen and unbelievable consequences.

If all mankind were to switch to drawing all that heat from the earth, could we cool the core enough to cause some sort of nasty horrible totally unforeseen and unbelievable consequence?

Something really bizarre, like the loss of the magnetic field.

You've hit on an ambiguity in the common use of the word "geothermal" which really needs to be explained (and there may even be a keypost here on TOD which does it), but really doesn't belong in a Fukushima thread.

Um, yes, I know. Literalness can sometimes hamper conversation.

Insert the word "hypothetical" wherever you wish, and replace "household" with "a kajillion jillion geothermal electrical generation plants all over the world for a bazillion zillion years".

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. So if it is being taken out of the earth's heat and transformed to mechanical work and electron flow and then radiated to space as heat, then energy is coming out of the core faster than the natural rate.

The point was unforeseen consequences, just as we are seeing unanticipated consequences from nuclear power.

I think the quality of the analysis available so soon, and the depth of work behind it, proves that these consequences were anything but unforeseen.  They were just not expected when and where they appeared by people with the power to do anything about them... and that seems to be a management failure.

If by consequences you mean the explosions, I agree that the problem was foreseen. There does seem to be a lot of official concern over cladding fires over the decades, including the recommendations to install vent stacks to conduct H2 and high pressure steam away.

Simplistically, without the Zr, there would have been no massive explosions. Was it management failure to build these devices with so much Zr in them?

Japan has huge resources for electrical generation from deep geothermal heat http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/24/us-geothermal-idUSTRE72N11E201...

The household geothermal you refer to is a different process. The Japanese have some very nice heat pumps, mostly air source. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EcoCute

If you had tried to sound a warning 60 years ago about carbon dioxide warming the atmosphere, just about every scientist on earth would have said, there's no way man could ever put enough carbon dioxide in the air to change anything. The atmosphere is just too big for us to affect like that.

But, in fact there were. Now by not including the exponential increase in energy use, the timescales were a lot longer. Certainly in the mid seventies when I was in grad school, running climate simulations of 2x preindustrial CO2 was very much in vogue.

I think you are confusing two types of geothermal. The type used for winter-heat & summer cooling, is just using the ground+water as a heat storage unit. Real geothermal is deep wells, that use steam to generate electricity. Sometimes this is referred to as heat mining. The effect on frost penetration should be minimal, the geothermal heatflux is about ten thousand times weaker than the solar energy heat flux. But geothermal isn't really renewable, as it is mining the heat in the rock in the upper few kilometers of the crust. Use that up, and you gotta wait a long time (maybe a milion years) for it to be replaced.

"Certainly in the mid seventies"

Try mid-fifties...for video evidence from Pete Sinclair:


Why would you inject nitrogen into the containment structure if the threat of a hydrogen explosion wasn't immediate? Wouldn't the inert gas leak out if it was just left in there, or be dispersed by steam or water being used to cool the pressure vessel?

Also, if NRC doesn't think the reactors are still undergoing some kind of fission, where's the I-131 coming from?

*Also, if NRC doesn't think the reactors are still undergoing some kind of fission, where's the I-131 coming from?*

Someone responding here a few days ago said that re-criticality was not occurring, and as for I-131 - that person offered what seemed to me to be vague comments. Gundersen was excoriated for suggesting that critical processes were still underway.

corr: The vagueness concerned isotopic Cl.

There's an interesting technical report here:


I have been consumed over the last few weeks by the events unfolding in Japan. I keep alternating between complete disbelief and acceptance of the gravity of the situation, but mostly disbelief. And I am not the only one. Most of the nuclear physicists and engineers with whom I have spoken since the incident cannot - will not - believe that it is possible that some of the fuel that is melting could somehow produce little pockets that could go critical. I believed them for the longest time until the following appeared on the Kyodo news website and I did the following analysis.

Where upon he proceeds to the conclusion that the possibility of critical processes can not at all be ruled out.

That report has been discussed quite a bit in the past few days.

One problem is that the Cl-38 should have been accompanied by other species.


The report of Cl-38 is very puzzling. If they were getting activation of Cl-37 (t1/2 = 37.24 min), then they should be getting more Cl-36 (t1/2 = 3E5 yr). More importantly, they should be getting Na-24 (t1/2 = 15 hr).

Whoever "they" are, perhaps they were not looking for Na-24 or Cl-36.

How was the Cl-38 detected? Gamma spectrum? Mass spec? Something else?

It isn't always easy to do an isotopic analysis in the field, and I don't think we are getting complete information from those equipped to do so. Perhaps NASA JPL can supply one of those miniature mass specs they send on Mars missions..

Karl Popper : Knowledge is the set of yet-undisproven theories.

I thought I read that they could not get enough water flow because of blockages - perhaps there's enough flow to get nitrogen gas in there instead so when it overheats due to insufficient water cooling the hydrogen won't explode.

Nitrogen injection can keep the non-condensible gas in the containment diluted below explosive concentrations even when the water is cooled and the steam is condensed.

In light of some of these concerns and unintended consequences, it might be worth finding a good source on seismic information for the area.

LA Times has a graphic and timeline for the first week.

Texas Tech Center for Geospatial Technologies has a continuously updated viewer.

Any other good sources (particularly with visual timelines) please post them here (thanks)!

USGS is the source. Today's 7.1 aftershock, for instance: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usc0002ksa.php

Re: No "immediate danger" of explosion.

NHK had their Nuclear Physics Professor on again today and he was more specific. He said they had to prevent hydrogen and oxygen levels getting above roughly 4% hydrogen and 5% oxygen or it goes bang.

Now just how accurately are they able to estimate the levels right now? If they've got a fairly good idea it's even possible they can pin down the time of the explosion quite accurately unless they do something first. But if they do have an idea they are not telling us.

Also the nitrogen injection is said to have the "side-effect" of increasing releases from the plant for a time so it seems they must have a very good reason for doing it now.

Just a guess but the increased releases are probably because they have to flush the building with nitrogen to get the oxygen level down. Normally there would be about 21% oxygen in the environment. To get that below 5% you would need to replace about 79% of the existing atmosphere out and replace it with pure nitrogen. Dumping that amount out would constitute an increase in emissions.

But that begs the questions as to how much, if any, generation of new radionuclids is taking place and whether the leaks in the containment are allowing diffusion of air into the vessel. If they need to keep positive pressure on a leaky vessel that means a constant supply of pure nitrogen.

There is a H2 pressure vs [O2] relationship. As you increase H2 pressure then the thing gets more and more sensitive to O2 and more and more capable of spontaneously exploding.

So you either lower pressure or you lower the O2 concentration.

Hard to believe that they do not have equipment on hard to throttle back O2 levels. Nitrogen-oxygen separator equipment is pretty easy to work with. You just need a membrane and compressed gas.

Heck, hook up a liquid N2 tanker to the site and let it rip.

Problem with too much N2. You will suffocate the workers in enclosed spaces. Better have O2 monitoring equipment on hand.

What they really need is a bunch of platinum wool around the containment, both the dry and wet wells.  Pt starts recombining H2 and O2 long before they get to concentrations which can support combustion.  This would convert explosive gases to steam, which is a diluent which itself suppresses explosive tendencies.

A bit late for that now.

That might suffice for a slow build up of H2, but given the speed of H2 evolution from the exothermic H2 + Zr rxn, kinetics would prevent the Pt from recombining the bulk of the gas, even before the heating of the Pt is considered. Flammable gas removal is what those 300 meter stacks were for, but apparently they aren't designed to work when the power is out. Huh.

Or when the connecting plumbing is mostly destroyed.

I do not believe that's what the tall stacks are for at all. The addition of vent stacks happened some time in the 1980s as a result of concerns relating to the Mark I torus's ability to withstand overpressure during a loss of coolant event. The stacks were added to allow the torus to be vented directly to the outside atmosphere.

Here's a reference http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/bwrfact.htm

That's not where I first heard it, but it will do. The facts and the timeline are the same. Note that the stacks vent the torus directly, and the torus was meant to condense steam, not contain flammable gas. Hydrogen buildup is normally handled by recombining it with oxygen in other plant systems.

Hardened Vent
In the 1980s, the NRC staff reviewed the potential for accidents more severe than those the plants were licensed and designed to mitigate. In order to enhance the ability of all containments to prevent and mitigate the consequences of severe accidents beyond the design basis accidents,
the NRC requested that all plants install a hardened vent. In the event of a core damage accident, the hardened vent would allow reduction in containment post-accident pressure. Hardened meant that the vent would transport hydrogen , steam and other accident products and release them
outside the reactor building. This would preclude damage to the reactor building and equipment from steam and the possible hydrogen explosions. http://www.nei.org/filefolder/Report_-_BWR_Mark_I_Containment_03192011_2...

The towers are 300 feet tall, not 300m

Thanks for that link. I was aware an industry working group was involved in the effort to beef up Mark I safety concerns, and that report spells out what was done in detail. Some of the dates don't jibe with what I had read before, but the overall scope of the work done matches pretty closely.

I can't help but notice the following passages in the report:

The original design of the Mark I containment system considered postulated accident loads associated with containment design. These included pressure and temperature loads associated with a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA), seismic loads, dead loads, jet-impingement loads, and hydrostatic loads due to water in the suppression chamber.

After the establishment of the original design criteria, additional loading conditions were identified which arise in the functioning of the pressure-suppression concept used in the Mark I containment system design.

In addition to the information obtained from the PSTF data, other LOCA-related dynamic load information were obtained from foreign testing programs for similar pressure-suppression containments.

It's stunning that every time the industry (and the NRC right along with them) proclaims that they've got it all figured out, lo and behold they discover that they, in fact, do not have it all figured out. There are always new data and conditions being uncovered that they, for some reason, never bothered to take into account during earlier design iterations. They demur with the excuse that there's no way anyone could have forseen or predicted what the new data has revealed.

Keeping in mind that the main goal of the Mark I design was to hold down costs as opposed to other methods of containing a large flash steam pressure spike, it's not that much of a stretch to think that maybe they didn't want to be too thorough in their analyses because that would compromise the goal. Cutting corners to save money whenever and wherever possible is the acknowledged gospel of every for-profit corporation in existence today. I'm no longer sure we can live with that arrangement when it comes to nuclear power.

Then we get to this from NRC Information Notice 2006-01:

The NRC staff is aware of several instances where the torus and drywells of BWR Mark I containments have been subjected to pitting and general corrosion. However, this is the first occurrence of a through-wall crack known to the NRC staff.

That was a letter sent to all Mark I operators by the NRC detailing a potentially serious leak in the torus found at the James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant in June of 2005.

And the beat goes on. What possible reason would I have to believe any of their claims, whether they're about the old Mark I design or the fancy new Mark XLV from last year? There is a pattern of behavior here that goes back almost half a century.

We need nuclear power going forward but I would not trust the current industry leaders or regulators to oversee it. Much the same as my feeling on the banks, we need a nuclear industry, but we don't need this nuclear industry.

Last I looked Platinum was more expensive then gold. I can imagine in might make sense to put it into a pipe that air is pumped through. But filling large volumes with it is probably astronomically expensive. If they'd had that sort of money to burn, they coulda but the durned deisel generators on stilts and avoided the whole tsunami thingy.

The density of platinum wool is very low.  Mats of wool on high spots around the containments would do the job of recombining H2/O2 mixtures before they can react in the gas phase.  Suppose Pt is $10,000/oz; what does a few kg of wool cost compared to an explosion which ruptures a containment?

Just deposit a film on a ceramic substrate and increase the surface area by orders of magnitude for the same weight.


I just had to comment upon a post in the last thread by a nuke apologist who thinks a handful of people have died from Chernobyl.

"A couple of useful meta links were provided, finally, and I've actually been asking for this information on and off for years (not just the past couple of weeks)."

Ever heard of a search engine? You couldn't find this stuff for YEARS? I don't buy it. I think you're in the habit of denial and if you looked too well you would find.

"You take the highest incidence group found by the researchers and multiply by the entire population of the region, straight up."

How could you possibly know that's what was done? Now I want a link to prove that claim.

"One might even suspect counting all incidences of cancer as deaths, even if cured or from an unrelated source."

One might only suspect that if one has the reading comprehension skills of a nuke zealot. You think a lot of people in Belarus have access to teams of cancer specialists..? You think that the cancer survival rate in rural Ukraine is good..?

"I think that placing the bar at death is perfectly fair when making safety comparisons."

Insanity. That would not be acceptable in any other scenario. Let's hope you don't design toys.

"When looking at disability you have to start answering questions like "is thyroid cancer worse than emphysema?" When looking at displacement you need to include loss of livelyhood, such as shrimp fishermen in the GoM, and evaluate the relative value of the displacements."

You are precisely the sort of person who should not be evaluating these things for others. Lord help us if you're in any position of authority.

It isn't my job to evaluate things for others, and I provided the support for my perspective from early on.

Simply put, I did the research and came up with a null result where anti-nuclear advocates seemed to be coming up with an infinite result, unless they told me where they were getting that result my best assumption was that they made it up.

r4ndom, surely this is far too simplistic.
The studies on large-scale environmental exposure to radiation are few and generally methodologically poor, I would agree, but that's hardly surprising considering the small number of incidents, difficulty of the epidemiology and secrecy often limiting access to data.

Therefore, from these studies it would be premature to conclude no effect, after all
"absence of (first-class) evidence is not evidence of absence"

We need to look to auxiliary sources of evidence. There are ample studies of radiation exposure in medical imaging. The consensus is that X-rays (including CT) are associated with excess morbidity and mortality from cancer, see for example:

Risk of cancer from diagnostic X-rays: estimates for the UK and 14 other countries
The Lancet, Volume 363, Issue 9406, Pages 345-351
de González, Darby

They found that in the UK 0.3% were attributable to X-rays and up to 3% in Japan (more profligate users of imaging I guess).

The mechanisms of cell damage are also well studied. (let's not get too distracted by the hormesis hypothesis, it is shaky at best and certainly lacks evidence).

Therefore, using the best evidence to hand as well as the balance of probabilities, one would certainly expect more cancers from exposure to radioactive isotopes and ingested radiation combined with increased gamma radiation from major accidents. If diagnostic X-rays have as high as a 3% attributable risk than it would not be unreasonable to expect even more cancers attibutable to Chernobyl or Fukushima.... 50000-60000 deaths over 30 years may be a good lower estimate.
Of course a full analysis would need to track participants for considerable periods and have a viable control group. We'd also have to consider confounders like altitude, diet, flights etc. Non-fatal cancers would also need to be factored by QALYs or similar methods but I guess what I'm getting at is that no research is perfect but that's a poor reason to throw out the most likely finding triangulated by a number of (imperfect) sources...

The questions are likely to be resolved in the most tragic of manners, when "Fukushima babies" start being born at the end of the year, congenital malformations have a background rate, which I would wager we'll see rise over the next 18 months and slowly return to baseline over about 10 years.

- the truth is always between, you just have to get your extremes sorted first!

I can't disagree with your post, but when advocacy is involved the truth is usually closer to one position than the opposing one.

In this case, the best information I have seen indicates that nuclear has a risk level (including incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima) of <1% the risk level of coal and oil.

Some of the risks (like birth defects) are very emotionally powerful, but as you note here there is a background level even of those.

Even taking the worst case estimates of Fukushima and Chernobyl casualties (1.1M over 50 years), at 24,000 deaths per year (in the US alone from coal power plant exhaust alone) coal leaves nuclear power risks in a cloud of choking black dust.

Sure nuclear is better than coal, but the comparison of the day is to renewables.

Coal is facing its own problems (i.e. non-renewable and CO2 and pollution).

Setting aside the technical issues and political for that matter which hold Solar and Wind back, why would you think that nuclear is more safe than Solar and wind.

Why are nuclear folks so hardened for nuclear at the expense of every other power source?

I learned as a kid not to place all my eggs in one basket. Surely we need similar thoughtfulness. Japan should have had more renewables in their mix. Heavy nuclear is leaving them very soft right now.

I prefer distributed renewables myself, but sometimes you need a high energy density.

I support nuclear as an option to the much more dangerous technologies it can replace, not as the be-all and end-all of power generation.

I also support building new plants and actually decommissioning old plants that we know have problems instead of extending the old ones until they break.

Why are nuclear folks so hardened for nuclear at the expense of every other power source?

I learned as a kid not to place all my eggs in one basket. Surely we need similar thoughtfulness. Japan should have had more renewables in their mix. Heavy nuclear is leaving them very soft right now.

Well I'm certainly not an advocate for 100% nuclear. I do believe though, that we need to use technologies that complement each other. Nuclear and hydro work well together with nuclear supporting the base load and hydro handling peak loads. Solar also does a good job of complementing nuclear since daylight hours coincide with peak power demand. Solar also performs at its best on the days when power is needed the most -- hot sunny summer days when the system is strained meeting the demand for air conditioning.

Wind power otoh, doesn't complement nuclear very well at all. Periods of intense cold in the winter or intense heat in the summer when power demand is at the highest are usually accompanied by relatively little wind.

Here in Ontario, Canada, our government has committed to the installation of large amounts of wind and solar with natural gas generation as the backup source. The story we get from the government is that wind and solar will allow us to phase out coal fired generation. The reality given that wind generation provides significant amounts of power perhaps 20% of the time is that we're using gas generation to provide base load. Gas generation may be cleaner than coal but it still represents a dependency on the use of fossil fuels. I would have preferred that more nuclear capacity be added to allow the remaining coal fired generators to be taken out of service.

"Why are nuclear folks so hardened for nuclear at the expense of every other power source?"

A student and friend of mine in the power industry laughs at low density sources. The amount of energy we use is stupefying. So, anything else just isn't going to be worth bothering with, he explains. Plus, you've got to get investors interested in the deal... and they are used to ever exponentially increasing profits, not charity work. Nuclear is probably the only realistic short-term solution if the other sources of energy are really running out. But the lead-time for even that transition has been squandered following carbon resources into the ground. So one solution is to run full-tilt into the wall, the current plan.
Or reform the way of life.
Or get rid of lots of people.

My goal here is to learn as much for myself as possible.

I'm greedy that way.

If I am sure that I have accurate information then I am comfortable teaching others, but if it is evident that there may be a serious hole in my understanding is it not imperative that I fill it?

Point taken. There are many here seeking knowledge but don't have spare time to ferret out original research and documented facts, nor the expertise to recognize which are truly pertinent and which are smokescreen or simply not relevant for not-so-obvious reasons.

Emotional responses are inevitable, just let them slide off like water from a duck's back.

Ok, random,

I will give you the possibility to educate yourself on the consequences of radiation fall out.

Please read the following book carefully:


And please note the source: New York Academy of Sciences
Boston, Massachusetts.


I'll count that as a source to take seriously, for certain.

This would be the "Yablokov" that I have seen referred to elsewhere?

`Contrary to the common view that the Chernobyl plumes contained mostly light and gaseous radionuclides, which would disappear without a trace into the Earth’s atmosphere, the available facts indicate that

even Plutonium concentrations increased thousands of times at distances as far as many thousands of kilometers away from Chernobyl.

Common estimates of the level of radioactivity per liter or cubic or square meter mask´the phenomenon of radionuclides concentrating (sometimes many thousands of times) in sediments, in sea spume, in soil microfilms, etc.,
through bioconcentration (for details see Chapters 9 and 10). This means that harmless looking “average” levels of radionuclides inevitably have a powerful impact on living organisms in the contaminated ecosystems.
As a result of vertical migration of radionuclides through soil, they accumulate in plants with deep root systems. Absorbed by the roots,
the buried radionuclides again rise to the surface and will be incorporated in the food chain. This transfer is one of the more important mechanisms observed in recent years that leads to increased internal irradiation for people in the all of the territories contaminated by nuclear fallout.`

With a halflife of up to 24.000 years and more, this toxic waste will keep flowing through the food chain and keep on killing a lot of organisms over and over again.


As a result of vertical migration of radionuclides through soil, they accumulate in plants with deep root systems.

What I don't like with these is that we don't get doses numbers. You can imagine anything but you can compute a dose number.

Look, radiation from nuclear weapon testing is 0.3%1 and Chernobyl is 0.003%-0.03%2 of normal average background radiation.

I can't find a way to make it that dangerous. You can't say how much you are gonna eat of the particular grass or from that particular fish. Most of the time, you need crazy regimes constitued only of tuna (4000 fish/year for 10 years gives you "some doses" of whatever) or some wierd algua in the bottom of the ocean as sole food for 5 years to reach any significant levels.

Beside, you might get some accumulation, when you have really low levels, but once you raise the threeshold, biological half start to matter, you eliminate most of it.

I gave a quick look to the document above, and levels in trees were 0.6 to 400 times higher than soil level. That however, dosen't mean much. We don't know how long it stayed this way, which species in which area where affected and we don't know if this is likely to continue inside animals and to which level.

I can't see anything else unless you give me higher radiation doses, otherwise, it does not work.

N.B. Of course, I acknowledge that in some places in Ukraine or Belarus, they have really high radionucleides levels. But, however, it is not the concern with everywhere and all the time: the "destroyed trees" where in fact next to the reactor and within month of the catastrophe, now, it is no more the case.

I just found this article, Alex. The problem is, it depends on dose, duration, half-life, organismal uptake, salinity, pH, and even more variables . . . . And marine studies of radionuclides are even fuzzier than terrestrial ones, because marine currents muddy the waters . . . .


Studies from previous releases of nuclear material in the Irish, Kara and Barents Seas, as well as in the Pacific Ocean, show that such radioactive material does travel with ocean currents, is deposited in marine sediment, and does climb the marine food web. In the Irish Sea — where the British Nuclear Fuels plant at Sellafield in the northwestern United Kingdom released radioactive material over many decades, beginning in the 1950s — studies have found radioactive cesium and plutonium concentrating significantly in seals and porpoises that ate contaminated fish. Other studies have shown that radioactive material from Sellafield and from the nuclear reprocessing plant at Cap de la Hague in France have been transported to the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. A study published in 2003 found that a substantial part of the world’s radioactive contamination is in the marine environment.

But what impact this radioactive contamination has on marine life and humans is still unclear. Even the mass dumping of nuclear material by the Soviets in the Arctic has not been definitively shown to have caused widespread harm to marine life. That may be because containment vessels around some of the dumped reactors are preventing the escape of radiation. A lack of comprehensive studies by the Russians in the areas where nuclear waste was dumped also has hampered understanding. Two events in the early 1990s — a die-off of seals in the Barents Sea and White Sea from blood cancer, and the deaths of millions of starfish, shellfish, seals and porpoises in the White Sea — have been variously attributed by Russian scientists to pollution or nuclear contamination.

How the radioactive materials released from the Fukushima plants will behave in the ocean will depend on their chemical properties and reactivity, explained Ted Poston, a ecotoxicologist with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a U.S. government facility in Richland, Washington. If the radionuclides are in soluble form, they will behave differently than if they are absorbed into particles, said Poston. Soluble iodine, for example, will disperse rather rapidly. But if a radionuclide reacts with other molecules or gets deposited on existing particulates — bits of minerals, for example — they can be suspended in the water or, if larger, may drop to the sea floor.

“If particulates in the water column are very small they will move with the current,” he explained. “If bigger or denser, they can settle in sediment.”

If iodine-131, for example, is taken up by seaweed or plankton, it can be transferred to fish, which are in turn eaten by larger fish, as has been seen in the Irish Sea. Fish can also take in radionuclides in the water through their gills, and radionuclides can be ingested by mollusks. But Edward Lazo, deputy division head for radiation protection at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said, “This is not a fully developed science and there are lots of uncertainties.”

Radioactive iodine is taken up by the thyroid in humans and marine mammals — or in the case of fish, thyroid tissue — and is also readily absorbed by seaweed and kelp. Cesium acts like potassium and is taken up by muscle. Cesium would tend to stay in solution and can eventually end up in marine sediment where, because of its long half life, it will persist for years. Because marine organisms use potassium they can also take up cesium. “Cesium behaves like potassium, so would end up in all marine life,” said Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Maryland. “It certainly will have an effect.”

Tom Hei, professor of environmental sciences and vice-chairman of radiation oncology at Columbia University, explained that the mechanisms that determine how an animal takes in radiation are the same for fish as How the radiation accumulates depends on the degree of exposure and half-life of the element. they are for humans. Once in the body — whether inhaled or absorbed through gills or other organs — radiation can make its way into the bloodstream, lungs, and bony structures, potentially causing death, cancer, or genetic damage. Larger animals tend to more sensitive to radiation than smaller ones. Yet small fish, mollusks and crustaceans, as well as plankton and phytoplankton, can absorb radiation, said Poston. How the radiation accumulates depends on the degree of exposure — dose and duration — and the half-life of the element, said Hei.

Depending on its chemical form and by what organisms it is taken up, radiation can also concentrate when it moves through the food chain. A 1999 study found that seals and porpoises in the Irish Sea concentrated radioactive cesium by a factor of 300 relative to its concentration in seawater, and a factor of 3 to 4 compared to the fish they ate.

Please read the following book carefully:


And please note the source: New York Academy of Sciences
Boston, Massachusetts.

Please note that the NYAS did NOT peer-review that book.  Here is what George Monbiot has to say about it:

Like Vidal and many others, Caldicott pointed me to a book which claims that 985,000 people have died as a result of the disaster. Translated from Russian and published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, this is the only document that looks scientific and appears to support the wild claims made by greens about Chernobyl.

A devastating review in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry points out that the book achieves this figure by the remarkable method of assuming that all increased deaths from a wide range of diseases – including many which have no known association with radiation – were caused by the Chernobyl accident. There is no basis for this assumption, not least because screening in many countries improved dramatically after the disaster and, since 1986, there have been massive changes in the former eastern bloc. The study makes no attempt to correlate exposure to radiation with the incidence of disease.

Its publication seems to have arisen from a confusion about whether Annals was a book publisher or a scientific journal. The academy has given me this statement: "In no sense did Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or the New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do we intend to independently validate the claims made in the translation or in the original publications cited in the work. The translated volume has not been peer reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else."

Monbiot continues:

Failing to provide sources, refuting data with anecdote, cherry-picking studies, scorning the scientific consensus, invoking a cover-up to explain it: all this is horribly familiar. These are the habits of climate-change deniers, against which the green movement has struggled valiantly, calling science to its aid. It is distressing to discover that when the facts don't suit them, members of this movement resort to the follies they have denounced.

We have a duty to base our judgments on the best available information. This is not only because we owe it to other people to represent the issues fairly, but also because we owe it to ourselves not to squander our lives on fairytales. A great wrong has been done by this movement. We must put it right.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

`The translated volume has not been peer reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else.`

`Failing to provide sources, refuting data with anecdote`

If you would take the time to actually read the book, you would know that this is absolute nonsense. Do you really think there is no peer review going on in Russian Universities before a scientific publication is made?

Come on Engineer-Poet, from you I would expect a better review on this book than just a quote from a man that says that Fukushima made him stop worrying and love nuclear power....


Already smoked it in the pipe



The NYAS study is firmly debunked there and also:


It would do well to not bring it up given the faulty metanalyses data and methodology. There's a reason the NYAS distanced themselves from the finding, not that membership of the NYAS is a rigorous thing anyway.

Roger, please address the specific claim in the quote: that the Yablokov analysis assumes that all "excess deaths" in the region are due to Chernobyl.

The potential bias of Monbiot, the length of the book's reference list, the reputation of its publisher, and whether it's peer reviewed or not are secondary issues.

What matters is whether the methodology is appropriate.

As there were many millions of excess deaths in the region following Chernobyl/breakup of USSR and the authors suggest up to a million are Chernobyl related how can anyone conclude that they claim "all excess deaths" in the region were due to Chernobyl?

That claim was by the 'Radiation Protection Dosimetry' publication, and referred to by Monbiot.

I have not seen Yablokov suggest that 'All Excess Deaths' are explicitly linked to Chernobyl, only that he has presented fairly exhaustive Time-based and Geographical correlations of these numerous diseases across the FSU and Europe, and sometimes complementary shifts in these statistics globally.. while also using comparable areas with their corresponding radiation readings to show what was possible with the data available.. That it looked like a duck and quacked like a duck.

Further, Monbiot was not shy about making inflammatory correlations and associations himself, to help tar this group of Authors..

"Failing to provide sources, refuting data with anecdote, cherry-picking studies, scorning the scientific consensus, invoking a cover-up to explain it: all this is horribly familiar. These are the habits of climate-change deniers, against which the green movement has struggled valiantly, calling science to its aid."

.. all in a pleasant tone of voice, so as not to be labeled as 'emotional' and therefore invalidated. But still claiming that the data was "Unsourced", when the references in this book are voluminous.

Anyone got a source for this review in the Radiation Protection Dosimetry journal? I'm also curious to know where the book makes the claim that is being refuted, if anyone can point me to it.

Here's one review of the book in this journal:


It requires login to access, so you won't be able to view it unless you have membership. I looked over it quickly. In general, it's not particularly scathing. It mainly reviews the argument, situates it in the literature (which is uncertain in the 40 year opinion of the reviewer), and describes some of the speculations and assumptions (without challenging them). His main criticism seems to be that the book lacks an index. Here are a few quotes that stand out for me (since I can't provide the whole thing without violating copyright):

"The one thing that both the Chernobyl Forum and the Greenpeace reports agree on is the fact that trying to estimate the health consequences from Chernobyl is extremely uncertain and may not, in fact, be possible.

‘It is widely acknowledged that neither the available data nor current epidemiological methodology allows holistic and robust estimations of the death toll caused by the Chernobyl accident’.

The introduction addresses the issue of why assessments of health effects from Chernobyl are so disparate. The authors disparage the approach favoured by the majority of the epidemiology community, which seeks a correlation of health effects with levels of contamination or dose. They believe this approach is ‘impossible’ due to lack of measurements in the first few days, lack of information on ‘hot spots’ and lack of information on all of the isotopes involved. They consider that the USSR authorities distorted links between health effects and radiation exposure and they prefer therefore to rely on what they consider are independent investigations of comparative health measures in various territories that they consider are identical in terms of ethnic, social and economic characteristics and differ only in the exposure to radiation.

The subject is not yet closed. Later in 2010 UNSCEAR are due to publish an update of the health effects of Chernobyl. It will be interesting to see to what extent it can take on board any of the recent new data such as that referred to in this book.

It might be suggested, in light of these comments, that anybody making deterministic and final conclusions (as Monbiot appears to be doing) is simply making a mistake. The uncertainty is just too great (and all of the studies, Yablokov et. al. among them) seem to acknowledge this.

The introduction addresses the issue of why assessments of health effects from Chernobyl are so disparate. The authors disparage the approach favoured by the majority of the epidemiology community, which seeks a correlation of health effects with levels of contamination or dose. They believe this approach is ‘impossible’ due to lack of measurements in the first few days, lack of information on ‘hot spots’ and lack of information on all of the isotopes involved.

Interesting that these same issues will hamper analysis on the effects of the Fukushima accident.

Many books published by academic presses are not peer reviewed. Peer review is a very slow process, and for something as extensive as book length manuscripts, the role and reputation of an editor (or publishing house) is what matters most. The writing process can be very open ended considering the reputation of the scholar, which doesn't take away from it's scientific merit. For junior scholars, or in areas where a publisher doesn't have expertise or wants additional feedback, in many cases a manuscript will be sent out to a small group of reviewers, and comments provided to authors. But it's the editor who controls this process with books (and not reviewers) and they make the final determination (but there are few hard and fast rules about these things). The broader academic community is free to publish a review of a book, which is the main method by which it's contribution to knowledge will be measured.

Journals are typically much more strict about peer review guidelines. It's a bit easier to get feedback on a 20 page paper, which speeds the process along, and some reviewers may be able to stop a work from getting published if it doesn't meet certain disciplinary standards or publication criteria. Weren't many of the papers in the New York Academy of Sciences Chernobyl book published elsewhere (such as the peer reviewed journals)? Another issue worth emphasizing, peer review does not necessarily mean a work is supported by peers. It's possible an article or book is made available for debate, to raise more questions, and to move an issue forward (and with a great deal of hope and expectation that people will buy the book, and it will be challenged and rebutted in subsequent publications).

Not so much academic, but it is up close and uncomfortably recent...

Fearless Motorcycle Girl goes to Chernobyl with Geiger-counter and intrepid camera:


I most sincerely appreciate you, O, tireless, brilliant, and nimble-minded Denizens of The Oil Drum, for the wit and civility of your expert discussions; I will continue to resist an overwhelming temptation to interrupt your work with quotes from "The Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib".

One last thing:

After updating a dear friend with the latest from TOD, she said: "Well, I will hate to lose my teeth, but I am looking forward to growing a penis."

She might appreciate a copy of the owner's manual.. (conveniently set to music by Uncle Bonsai)


Pfew! We thought we were on the right path, but it is such a relief to be validated. I will make sure this valuable Users' Guide is distributed to those who may be affected. Important to learn best practices of care and feeding for optimum...er, uh, growth and results...?

Thanks! Looking forward to advanced instruction with Uncle Bonsai. :D

Many books published by academic presses are not peer reviewed. Peer review is a very slow process, and for something as extensive as book length manuscripts, the role and reputation of an editor (or publishing house) is what matters most.

That is quite obviously apparent. If an author depended on a critical peer review for anything lengthy, they would be waiting forever or the reviewer will truncate when the review is due.

The other type of publications that don't get conventional peer review are government reports. So Robert Hirsch's energy report published through the DOE was not peer reviewed, and neither was King Hubbert's introduction of the technique of linearization, which was in a National Bureau of Standards pub. If the analysis is good or not will eventually be known, regardless of peer review.

Monbiot is an obvious sellout.

I have read his articles, seen the 'debate' with Dr. Caldicott.

He's a prat who tries to sell nuclear on the grounds that is is the only bulwark against global warning. Global warming can only start to regress when we stop using fossil fuels. All of them.

As of now, nuclear shows a high occurence of failure. The first soviet civilian reactor needed more electricity than it produced. The history of nuclear power is one of delays, of going way over budget, of finding out about major problems after the sorry fact (such as the need for a foundation capable of withstanding meltdown). Marie Curie died from a cancer she got from her work with radium.

In Europe, reactors are built to withstand the impact of a cesna two-seater plane. Should a cesna airplane impact impair the function of a cooling pool, no provisions have been made for such an event. As a matter of fact, a small fire caused by a candle could fry enough circuits to make things go on and off quite randomly.

Playing with fission is playing with the fires of hell. Fission generates temperatures that will melt anything. Fusion might be the fire of the heavens, but I doubt we will play with it without burning more than our fingers.

We should be gardeners, and apply all our capacities to that undertaking. Playing at sorcerer's apprentice is leading us straight to hell.

It is a deep source of sadness for me that Monbiot has taken this path.

The voices of anything resembling reason are getting fewer and fewer.

You define "reason" as "that which agrees with me".

Monbiot hasn't lost reason, he's finally applied it properly to this issue.

"Reason" is to not gamble with something that you can't afford to lose.

"Intellectual fraud" is to claim that gambling with something you can't afford to lose is somehow "okay" because risks have been minimized.

By definition, if the risk is nonzero you are still gambling, and if you can't afford to lose something you should not be gambling with it in the first place.

Absolute safety is the reasonable standard when it comes to taking risks that might turn Earth into a twin of Venus, or when taking risks of polluting the food chain of the future for tens of thousands of years when agriculture was invented "only" 500 generations ago. This generation has no moral right to risk ruining the planet for the next 5,000 generations.

After all, when we are talking about billions of yet-unborn living beings, noone has the moral right to cut corners on the absolute safety standard either by taking action that leads to such planet-wide calamitous outcomes, or through inaction, allowing such outcomes to arise.

It is you who is being unreasonable for assuming you have such a moral right, Engineer-Poet.

You are typical anti-nuclear zealot. Mr Monbiot was very much anti-nuclear until he finally saw through the scaremongering Greenpeace BS, which is not based on science of any kind.

Your kind of guys are going to be the firsts to cry mama when peak oil starts really to affect for real. When we do not have anymore the luxury of choosing our energy generation methods.

We should be building tens of nuclear plants NOW all around in the West because soon it will be very expensive and your wind mills even more expensive. Try building something when government vehicles get 20 liters per week of gasoline, like now in Japan.

"Try building something when government vehicles get 20 liters per week of gasoline, like now in Japan."

OK, I'll bite. Try building the kind of structures that will be needed to contain Chernobyl or the sorts of berms, dams and lord knows what else are being talked about to contain the Japanses nuke disaster in that same scenario. All of the numbers I've seen on this site are for massive construction projects.

How much fuel was used to get hundreds of thousands of people to Chernobyl and back, and to move all that concrete, and to dig that mine shaft underneath it?

You seem to be adding another good additional argument for avoiding fission.

Try building about 10 000 wind turbines offshore (required to replace 10 nuclear reactors roughly) plus A LOT of undersea cables with that 20 liters per vehicle limitation. Covering hundreds of square kilometers. Then try to build backup plants for high demand, no wind-situations.

... and we could start that before the spikes in fuel prices/shortages, yes?

How much fuel usage would have to be accounted for in the future for the clean-up of wind turbines being brought down (natural disaster, war, terrorism, mechanical failure) and sending toxic wind in all directions and into the food chain? Should that be a huge budget, for the wind spills..?

Once again how many have died in this nuclear accident due to radiation? None.

How many died in Bhopal 1984? Thousands within days. So according to your own logic you are also against pesticides and those should be banned worldwide. The same goes pretty much with every other industry with known fatalities from mining to car factories.

Nuclear can be dangerous to humans but so is every other type of energy plant and especially chemical factories. Many chemicals released can also cause birth defects (like Agent Orange in Vietnam).

There were hundreds of airborne nuclear test during 1950's and 1960's with even megaton bombs. The radiation from those was a lot of more wide spread and stronger than from nuclear plant accidents. It even showed in background radiation for years. Still we are not today three eyed mutants with four legs.

Thanks for your kinds of pseudo greens, we will be suffering a great deal because most western nations did not ensure the energy supply when there was still time. Eventually even your "green" solar cells and batteries will die without industries replacing those. The real fun will begin when the underground pipes starts to crack and you lose running water.

You are totally right. It is amazing how little people understand about the true status of human productivity and survival with a reasonable quality of life.
Thank you for posting it is refreshing to find someone who "remembers" and isn't a hypocrite.

Against the persistent background of
radiological, chemical, and biological*
man-made pollution
the quality of life suffers. All life.

Fission nuclear energy is a stop-gap technology:
It can get us from here to the next level of resource development.
It can not be a endless solution because the resource will expire.
If carbon resources were to run out right now,
or if global warming were acknowledged as an urgent consideration,
then nuclear offers the energy density perceived by many to be required to allow business a usual to continue without pause.
So far, fine: This is an assessment.

The conflict arises when the arguments are constrained to choosing between one poison and another. Then toxicity is debated hotly.
This is an artifice.

There is a good chance that the time and money to develop a fission nuclear foundation has evaporated anyway in the heat of overpopulation, resource depletion, and acquisitiveness. It also possible that the earth's mechanisms of thermo-regulation have already been pushed into positive feedback**. The ever increasing temperatures and violent weather oscillations driving people off of productive land trumps most contingency plans.
This is how civilizations fall.

It is not a simple game with team colors***.
It is a fight for survival.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria
Manufactured genetically novel organisms

The tundra, in the past, sequestered CO2.
Upon heating, it is releasing CO2.

Reflectivity changes due to ice melting increase warming.

Red, Green, Blue

"Once again how many have died in this nuclear accident due to radiation? None."

... yet. That we know of. Is there any reasonable person who expects zero fatalities from this?

Of course you probably still don't think that more than a few dozen people died at Chernobyl.

"How many died in Bhopal 1984? Thousands within days. So according to your own logic you are also against pesticides and those should be banned worldwide."

That is not vaguely representative of my logic. Again, pick up a lion and a tin man to match your man of straw as you skip down this path.

I would certainly be against any pesticide plant being run as the one at Bhopal was.

Are you absolutely sure, by the way, that the Union Carbide plant actually killed large numbers of people at Bhopal? Do we have exact numbers in peer-reviewed studies as to how many people died, and that the plant was the direct cause? I'm surprised that you don't claim that 43 people died from the plant and that general living conditions in India didn't finish off the others. That's the level of intergrity shown by the nuke-heads in this thread.

Actually the data from the effects of fallout are very clear -unless you are a nuclear power advocate. The studies of Hiroshima or Nagasaki that I have been able to discern what controls they used, show me that they were measuring the effects of exposure to external radiation. They used controls that were exposed to the same or more internal radiation as those that were exposed to the external radiation. Most of the standards for the amount of radiation that is harmful come from those studies. There are fallout studies however that compared the amounts of Strontium 90 in baby teeth to health histories that showed definite harm. The other problem with guessing dosage is that the radiation from nuclear events doesn't just spread evenly but follows the wind and falls out in clumps with the rain. You can move 10 feet and get readings from normal background radiation to threatening in the exclusion zone around Chernobly. People wishing to minimize the effects,like most studies from TMI used things like the people inside a 50 mile radius. It is an easy trick to widen the pool so the anomalies diminish statistical effects. They use the same techniques to prove that non-ionizing radiation (in power lines or cell phones) isn't harmful (the difference being the effects of ionizing radiation are from the fission or decay and highly energetic while non-ionizing radiation effects need long times in the electromagnetic fields produced to generate effects [2hours a day for 10 years for cellphones and effects will show up] - they use all the employees of a power company including the office personnel (a secretary is a secretary) who are the same as anybody else (as far as exposure to electromagnetic fields) rather than just the employees of power companies like low level linemen who actually spend time around high voltage lines.
We probably won't even get good information from Fukushima. Internal radiation is a lot trickier to make good guesses as to what the actual dose was. Aside from the fact that TEPCO wasn't giving out dosimeters to every worker on the plant site, there is no way to know how many particles were breathed in or ingested. Its an easy test to see where people stand on the nuclear issue in whether they acknowledge the difference in internal exposure and external exposure. Kevin Z Morgan was a pillar of the nuclear establishment and became director of health physics at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), serving from the late 1940s until his retirement in 1972. He became a critic of nuclear power - see The Angry Genie: One Man's Walk Through the Nuclear Age - his autobiography. I'll take his testimony as coming from somebody knowledgeable - fallout from open air tests definitely harmed the health of those exposed.

I'm also wondering, while on the subject, how much fuel will need to be budgeted for the transport and storage of the spent wind waste. We'll have to store the spent wind for thousands of years - wouldn't want a breeze leaking out and causing birth defects.

Another option of course would be reprocessing into wind weapons.

We'll be fine. We'll sequester it in politicians, though we may need a bigger legislature to do it.

As if greens could not diversify or hedge

or decentralize instead of centralize

"...the luxury of choosing our energy generation methods."

I've already chosen, Tim. (and there's more on the shelves today, at decent prices.)

I have batteries charging right next to me, I have solar-heating collectors, air and water that I've built myself from dumpster scraps.. I have parts to build a handful of wind or micro-hydro projects, and a good store of insulation that has plenty of places around the house that can use thicker and thicker coats.. I have a couple low-voltage cooler/fridges. Super Low-Wattage lights (look in the RV websites for the better bargains..)

There are a number on your side of the argument here that have chosen to pull back from the name-calling, don't damage their efforts by ranting.

I'm trying to keep my tongue civil as well, even though this is a highly aggravating issue for all of us. This is actually really valuable, to have a site where we're not down so far into the muckraking that we have a chance to keep the discussion truly Adult.


Most of your "low energy" stuff are still INDUSTRIAL products. Solar cells require awfully lot of energy to manufacture in Taiwan or China. The same with microprocessors. Those factories are resource hogs and require tons of different toxic chemicals and a lot of electricity. Not to even mention mining and raw material transport operations required to make those industrial products you use.

Even growing food requires pesticides and fertilizes. Where you get your medicines, even simple paracetamol pills? Once again from another industry.

Greens today are like the people in the movie Beach. Once in a while filling up storages with industrial products from mainland while living "naturally".

Tim, what is a "green"? What are you then? LOL. Throwing around these notions is not going to help you convince people of your positions. What is the science behind your thinking? People here are placing a premium on pollution which has long lifetimes.

You've got me all wrong.

I'm not against industrial products. Just Stupid, Industrial Products. Get rid of those, and there'll be plenty of capacity to make the worthwhile stuff.

Say bye-bye to those Inflatable Christmas Yard Decorations! Sniff!

(and did you fail to hear me say I'm building half my stuff from throw-away junk? We've got a bit of that to go through before that stream runs dry, no?)

(and did you fail to hear me say I'm building half my stuff from throw-away junk? We've got a bit of that to go through before that stream runs dry, no?)

That might be the understatement of the century! I now happen to be bidding on lots of scrap metal at US military bases around the country. The stuff the US military is getting rid of as scrap alone, is truly mind boggling! And I'm talking about the little stuff. When it gets to the heavy duty department that's way outside my league It just makes me, a grown man, want to cry...

If we had invested all the resources that were used to produce all of that stuff we could have built a truly advanced and stable economy and probably be the leaders of the world in myriads of technologies that would have guaranteed our supremacy and leadership role in a respectable and ethical way while remaining true to the principles of the founding fathers of this country. Instead we are a day away from a Government shutdown.

Think about all the useless crap of the entire industrial consumer society and the artificially created needs which ad agencies and marketers ceaselessly push on us in a never ending cycle of obsolescence and then some people have the f**king gall to talk about how renewables are not sustainable because they depend on a fossil fuel based industrial society?!

Then take a trip down the aisles of the supermarkets where the same marketers present the well packaged sugar and fat laden detritus that passes for food and is the end product of Agribusiness factories that if examined in daylight might make even the most stomach hardened pathologist accustomed to performing necropsies on putrescent corpses want to puke!

While we are at it let's also shine the light on our pharmacologically addicted hypochondriac society that was also created in large part by those same unethical marketers and see how many of those drugs are really necessary?

I could call attention to the joke that we call health care in this country or a hundred other aspects of our moribund civilization but I'll stop here for now.

So I'm throwing in the towel and conceding victory to those who argue that renewables are too much of an expensive luxury that we as a society simply can't afford. They're right, there's just is no f**king way that we can afford to power any such abomination, especially when none of us could possibly do without a little less of anything.

It seems to me that we have completely taken leave of what little sense we once had?

I've had a very long day. I had to deal with someone in a supervisory capacity who was absolutely incapable of grasping the concept of using simple subtraction to calculate the weight of a trailer when presented with an official document that specified the weight of both the trailer and the towing vehicle together and then specified the weight of towing vehicle by itself. She insisted that I needed to drive 40 miles back to an official weighing station and weigh the trailer by itself... It's not like I asked her to do calculus or trigonometry just plain third grade arithmetic damn it! /rant off

Think about all the useless crap of the entire industrial consumer society and the artificially created needs which ad agencies and marketers ceaselessly push on us in a never ending cycle of obsolescence and then some people have the f**king gall to talk about how renewables are not sustainable because they depend on a fossil fuel based industrial society?!

I understand your feelings, Fred. I picked up this book, The Waste Makers, back in the mid 1970's at a library book sale. This book was written in 1960!

An exposé of "the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals,"The Waste Makers is Vance Packard's pioneering 1960 work on how the rapid growth of disposable consumer goods was degrading the environmental, financial, and spiritual character of American society.

The Waste Makers was the first book to probe the increasing commercialization of American life—the development of consumption for consumption's sake. Packard outlines the ways manufacturers and advertisers persuade consumers to buy things they don't need and didn't know they wanted, including the two-of-a-kind of everything syndrome—"two refrigerators in every home"—and appeals to purchase something because it is more expensive, or because it is painted in a new color. The book also brought attention to the concept of planned obsolescence, in which a "death date" is built into products so that they wear out quickly and need to be replaced. By manipulating the public into mindless consumerism, Packard believed that business was making us "more wasteful, imprudent, and carefree in our consuming habits," which was using up our natural resources at an alarming rate.

This book was one of the things that started me on my journey to live differently.

My girl friend is a fan of 'The Mad Men' series, I don't think I'll be giving her this book to read. >;^)

Yes, I know, we can thank the likes of Freud's nephew Eduard Bernays

How To: Stupify Society p170 - Dr. Eldon Taylor and Subliminals 4 of 6


Sad little monkey, ain't it? To be free, all it has to do is let go. Yet it clings to it's false prize...

Is that only for solar? You want us to build a lot more nuke plants, right? How much mining does that entail? How much fuel does it take to build a plant, and transport waste, and mine waste storage facilities? How much fuel does checking on and maintaining those storage facilities cost for hundreds or thousands of years into the future?

How much does it cost to transport and store the "waste" from solar cells, all that toxic excess sunshine packed in drums and shipped to (maybe) Nevada..?

Our biological powerhouses will survive peak oil just fine , no thanks to you as you seem intent on creating and sustaining an adverse environment.

Do you have enough energy ? Not nearly enough to restore my image of you into anything more stimulating than the tantrum of someone other's child.

There's a time and place for everything.

"2. To determine the reliability of distinctions among many-fold divergent averages, it is not necessary to calculate “standard errors.” For example, why calculate formal “significance of difference” among liquidators’s morbidities for 1987 and 1997 if the averages differ tenfold?"

That is on the first paper of the second chapter, when argumenting that now we don't need much of the "Scientific Protocols" to reach a conclusion. There is a huge number of problems dispersed there.

I'm reading, up to now it looks like pseudo-science fearmongering. Maybe I discover it is really a serious study by the end, but my hope is going away at each paper.

So why would you want to calculate the formal significance of difference among liquidators' morbidities for 1987 and 1997 if the averages differ tenfold?

Indeed, why in the world would you bother?

Especially if you would be one of the morbid liquidators, you couldn't care less.

I can't decide if you are serious or not. It seems kalliergo is not, but you, I can't decide.

In case you are serious, tell me what difference does it make if two measurements are due to random fluctuation or due to some non-random cause? If you are interested on finding deaths caused by a non-random factor (like radioactivity exposition), should you care at all if the death was caused by a non-random factor?

I'd like you to make some clear examples of how you see what they're doing as 'Pseudo-science', or as 'Fearmongering', as differentiated from simply sharing and fully citing the sources of a truly frightening situation which has, in very many well-documented ways been kept from view by critical eyes.

This is a sidebar from Chapter 2 (page 34) , and it is not only clearly referenced, but describes two examples of how the information was very consciously limited by the Soviet Leadership.


1. “(4) To classify information on the accident. . .
(8) To classify information on results of medical treatment. (9) To classify information on the degree
of radioactive effects on the personnel who participated in the liquidation of the ChNPP accident consequences.” [From the order by the Chief of Third Main Administration of the USSR’s Ministry of Health E. Shulzhenko concerning reinforcing the secrecy surrounding the activities on liquidation of the consequences of the nuclear accident in ChNPP, #U-2617-S, June 27, 1986 (cit. by L. Kovalevskaya, 1995, p. 188).]

2. “(2) The data on patients’ records related to the accident and accumulated inmedical establishments
should have a ‘limited access’ status. And data generalized in regional andmunicipal sanitary control establishments, . . . on radioactive contamination of objects, environment (including food) that exceeds maximum permissible concentration is ‘classified’.” [From Order # 30-S by Minister of Health of Ukraine A. Romanenko on May 18, 1986, about reinforcing secrecy (cit. by N. Baranov’ska, 1996, p. 139).]

Even if this Author's analysis brought in and counted 'too much' evidence (and I don't have any way of knowing where that line is to be drawn), each example is referenced in detail to documents, Doctors and clinical reports, and leaves me quite convinced that we have been denied a chance to see a major portion of the Chernobyl story.

First, the book is written in a way to make people fearfull, so if it is not based on reliable facts, it is automaticaly "fearmongering".

Now, I quoted a clear example of why the book may be based on pseudo-science. It is quite compartimentalized, and that problem (or all the other ones spread at the area where the author says that "science protocols" aren't necessary - it is a small part, entitled "scientific protocols", if you care, you could read all of it, I won't quote all of it) may or may not apply to the actual conclusions. I didn't reach the conclusions yet, so I don't know, but when the author explicitily says on the methodology that he won't follow the "scientific protocols", the oods of it being pseudo-science are quite big.

This is from the introduction,

... there are very concrete data about malignant thyroid disease in children, so even supporters of “radiophobia” as the principal cause of disease do not deny it. With the passage of time, oncological diseases with longer latency periods, in particular, breast and lung cancers’, became more frequent.

From year to year there has been an increase in nonmalignant diseases,which has raised the incidence of overall morbidity in children in areas affected by the catastrophe, and the percent of practically healthy children has continued to decrease. For example, in Kiev, Ukraine, where before the meltdown, up to 90% of children were considered healthy, the figure is now 20%. In some Ukrainian Poles’e territories, there are no healthy children, and morbidity has essentially increased for all age groups. The frequency of disease has increased several times since the accident at Chernobyl. Increased cardiovascular disease with increased frequency of heart attacks and ischemic disease are evident. Average life expectancy is accordingly reduced. Diseases of the central nervous system in both children and adults are cause for concern. The incidence of eye problems, particularly cataracts, has increased sharply. Causes for alarm are complications of pregnancy and the state of health of children born to so-called “liquidators” (Chernobyl’s cleanup workers) and evacuees from zones of high radionuclide contamination.

Against the background of such persuasive data, some defenders of atomic energy look specious as they deny the obvious negative effects of radiation upon populations. In fact, their reactions include almost complete refusal to fund medical and biological studies, even liquidating government bodies that were in charge of the “affairs of Chernobyl.” Under pressure from the nuclear lobby, officials have also diverted scientific personnel away from studying the problems caused by Chernobyl.


The present volume probably provides the largest and most complete collection of data concerning the negative consequences of Chernobyl on the health of people and on the environment. Information in this volume shows that these consequences do not decrease, but, in fact, are increasing and will continue to do so into the future. The main conclusion of the book is that it is impossible and wrong “to forget Chernobyl.” Over the next several future generations the health of people and of nature will continue to be adversely impacted.


Chairman, Department of General Biology, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences,
Chairman, Ukrainian National Commission on Radiation Protection

I can't speak to the methodology, but it seems they have brought together far more than just a coincidental sampling here. That they had to circumvent some accepted approaches in reaching their conclusions has been explained fairly well.

I think the diseases wrought by FEAR are better shown by the actions of Industry and Governments, in this case..

I think the diseases wrought by FEAR are better shown by the actions of Industry and Governments, in this case..

Germany's radioactive boars a legacy of Chernobyl

By JUERGEN BAETZ, Associated Press Juergen Baetz, Associated Press – Fri Apr 1, 5:41 am ET

BERLIN – For a look at just how long radioactivity can hang around, consider Germany's wild boars.

A quarter century after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union carried a cloud of radiation across Europe, these animals are radioactive enough that people are urged not to eat them. And the mushrooms the pigs dine on aren't fit for consumption either.

Germany's experience shows what could await Japan — if the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant get any worse.

The German boars roam in forests nearly 950 miles (1,500 kilometers ) from Chernobyl. Yet, the amount of radioactive cesium-137 within their tissue often registers dozens of times beyond the recommended limit for consumption and thousands of times above normal.

"We still feel the consequences of Chernobyl's fallout here," said Christian Kueppers, a radiation expert at Germany's Institute for Applied Ecology in Freiburg.

Despite the date of April 1st, this is not some April fool's joke. And the Germans don't scare too easily.

As has been pointed out several times here before: in a court of law, the burden of proof would be on the manufacturer of technology to show it is safe. In science it is also the case that it is the one making the claim who should demonstrate an independently verifiable and repeatable experiment which shows the validity as well as the underlying mechanism which leads to it.

Now, the nuclear industry has had ample opportunity to educate the public over the past decades. They certainly aren't short of resources or influence if they wanted an educated public. It is obvious from the small amount of material they have bothered to produce - and the suppression and manipulation of related research - that their interest is not an educated public. Now why would that be?

This is where I have stop and ask myself - as others here have already noticed - am I feeding a troll - since the reasoning in your comments just doesn't follow the laws of sanity. You know, normal people usually are able to display a) emotional empathy towards victims, b) see both sides of arguments, and c) apply the same critical demands on both sides of the argument etc. etc.

I also don't see how one can remain completely polar - and adamant - on claiming that for example that it is the green movement who is responsible for the corruption of data - while the nuclear-side is as white as doves. It is the same twisted argument that was used on climate change - as if the CO2-industries couldn't out-fund these movement - producing biased research and buying up influence.

Have you seen any representatives of the energy industry with collection boxes on the street corners collecting our dimes? How many scientists do you think GreenPeace can buy with that money? Or the struggling solar-panel manufacturers? (And just to cut any associations people might make about me - I HATE GreenPeace - but for completely different reasons...)

You claim the right to call people out on their bias - yet you yourself are immune in your ivory tower to claim all kinds of things - without providing or displaying none of the above.

There is no moderation on this thread - which is in a way good - because that way the thread itself will have to judge and discard the redundant.

- Ransu

I am empathetic to the victims, I just see that the victims of nuclear incidents aren't the only ones to feel sympathy for and there are so many more from other sources.

If anything, I'd say that there is more money available for the anti-nuclear position from the big fossil fuel harvesting companies than the likes of Greenpeace. You know, people who stand to gain big if their cash cows are kept killing people by the hundreds of thousands per year.

If say, Massey Coal and the API are giving a lot of money to Greenpeace, they have to be highly aware that they are Arming the Taliban so it can shoot back at them.

I'm not sure if or how the FF industry competes with Nuclear, but buttering up to the Green Orgs is a tough sell.. have you actually heard of them funding Ploughshares, etc? Your turn to find some tough links, methinks. B)

Big Oil Versus The Dangers of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power’s main energy competitor is of course Big Oil, which had no problem with nuclear weapons, but was not happy to lose its grip on the world’s major source of energy. Nuclear energy was not under their control, requiring by definition major government involvement and regulation of the industry. Its widespread use would leave Big Oil with falling profits, and would mean the end of Big Oil’s economic hegemony.

This led to a bizarre situation where oil companies both founded and funded ecology-related organisations, including the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, Sierra Club and others to protest the peaceful use of nuclear power. These groups have all received backing from the oil industry, notably Atlantic Richfield Oil and BP (formerly the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now employing greenwash by marketing itself as “Beyond Petroleum”). Recall that BP is responsible for the world’s worst environmental disaster in recent times, last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

You're going to have to do a lot better job than that if you want to run a successful smear campaign here, Merrill.

Virtually all of these organizations are not-for-profit, public-interest, registered charities--various terms apply in various jurisdictions. Virtually all of them are transparent about their sources of funds, have their books regularly audited, and publish regular reports, publicly. For instance:

Where does Greenpeace get its funding from?

To maintain absolute independence Greenpeace does not accept money from companies, governments or political parties. We're serious about that,and we screen for and actually send checks back when they're drawn on acorporate account. We depend on the donations of our supporters tocarry on our nonviolent campaigns to protect the environment.

Our books are audited every year, in every office around the world, and we publish our Annual Report on the web every year so you can see exactly how much money we're given and how it gets spent.


Annual reports easily located on the site.

Carl Sagan said so many useful things. Among them: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Surely, we all agree with that, here, don't we?

Do you think oil and coal companies can't launder money through foundations they control?

I'm quite certain they can. That's a long way from demonstrating that they have, in some particular instance, and that, if they have, said money somehow affected the statements/behavior of the recipient(s), which demonstration would also require proving that said recipient(s) knew the source of the funding, it's intended influence, and that they were willing to be so influenced.

As I said, extraordinary claims... Not only haven't you carried your burden, you have yet to even address it.

Do you think oil and coal companies can't launder money through foundations they control?
You mean like getting the French government to blow up Greenpeace's boat?

I'm sure no inducement was required for that.


LOL. I cannot believe what I am reading.

It is as if the whole world is conspiring against nuclear.

Dear Greenpeace --

How about 100 million bucks to kill nukes? We hate anti-CO2 plants.


Charles and David Koch

P.S. you better not come after us ;-)

Well, I'm not the one who is claiming that the nuclear industry is managing to cover up millions of deaths.

Extraordinary claims and all that...

Okay, but now you're sounding paranoid and thoughtless yourself. There's no doubt that big oil is immensely wealthy and, hence, up to some serious shenanigans.

But big oil is actually less important and powerful than cars-first transportation interests. Perpetuating cars is going to take some big new source of electricity production. That means there are very large interests absolutely praying that a wave of new nuclear plants can be built. So, if you're thinking in terms of power and interests, there are just as many pro-nuke ops happening as anti.

Beyond that, big oil knows full well it's approaching or past peak. They are making plans and investments accordingly. Wouldn't they love to be able to shift some of their great wodges of cash into owning the next generation of nuclear plants?

I also don't see how one can remain completely polar - and adamant - on claiming that for example that it is the green movement who is responsible for the corruption of data - while the nuclear-side is as white as doves.

You don't allow for the fact that the nuclear industry is in competition with fossil-fuel interests, who have plenty of money and ample incentive to use "green" organizations as cat's-paws.

Today, gas-industry lobbyists are pushing wind power with gas backup as a replacement for nuclear power.  This would lead to a large increase in power cost and carbon emissions, so it doesn't seem to be good for anyone but the gas industry.  How do you think they get away with this, without "green" organizations giving them cover?

Engineer Poet,
If you believe that large scale wind energy with gas back will generate more carbon dioxide because it will need 100% backup with open cycle gas turbines you are way off course. You need to consider the effect of extra wind capacity within the context of the overall electricity supply framework, not in isolation. Wind energy is fairly predictable for quite a few hours ahead. This is plenty of time for efficient combined cycle gas turbines to be started up. Indeed, since combined cycle gas turbines are being started up and switched off in large numbers to match daily load variation, it can largely be met by delaying or advancing those changes and few extra start ups and swich offs are needed. Only a small fraction of the backup needs to come from rapidly reacting generators which could be open cycle gas turbines but could be from pumped storage or compessed air storage.

As long as wind is only a moderate fraction of the total generation it does not need anything like 100% fast back up. As loads swing up and down over daily and annual cycles, there is a degree of short term uncertainty that must be covered by some fast back up. Since the short term uncertainty in wind generation is uncorrelated with short term load uncertainty, the two uncertainties add in quadrature. If the short term load uncertainty is, say, three times greater than the short term wind uncertainty the combined short term uncertainty is only 5.4% greater than the short term load uncertainty or 16% of the wind short term uncertainty. The amount of extra fast back up increases only by that amount. If the short term uncertainty of the wind is 25% of its predicted value (and in practice it is less than this) the increased fast back up at this level of wind energy penetration is under 4% of its rating. The result is that the carbon dioxide savings are nearly all that would be calculated from simple displacement of output from combined cycle gas generation alone.

Things get less favouable with greater wind penetration but since we are nowhere near this level yet it is no argument agains substantial extra wind capacity.

I think the wind + NG is going to generate a hell of a lot more CO2 than you'd get from extending the license of a nuke plant by 20 years.

Heh, until it breaks... I wonder how much CO2 has been generated in service of the cleanup operation so far, and how much will be over the life of the operation. Don't forget the concrete for the sarcophagus!

Well, yeah... but some of that can be exchanged for the savings resulting from the shutdowns and slowdowns due to rolling blackouts--could be a whole new cap-and-trade market.

Of course, a careful accounting will require counting the emissions produced by villages full of evacuees, as they bus around Japan in search of shelter.

The wind farm requires multiples of the concrete for the whole equivalent nuclear plant, so I'm not worried about that comparison.  Besides, we're not going to have any more Mark I, II or III BWRs built ever again.

It's completely misleading to talk about gas generation providing backup to wind generation. Wind generators only produce significant amounts of power 20-30% of the time, so what you really have is a dependency on gas generation with some fuel savings when the wind happens to be blowing. Our goal has to be to phase out use of fossil fuels for electrical generation completely so use of gas generation is just a stop-gap measure anyways.

The only renewable source I can think of that would do a good job of complementing wind is hydro, provided there is both a large amount of hydro generation capacity and water storage capacity. Unfortunately, not many places meet that requirement. A few Canadian provinces, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba most likely do.

You overlook that 10% of the electricity used in California is to simply pump water from storage tank to storage tank. Water pumping is one of those things that wind did for centuries. Why did we stop? Everybody needs to pump water. Why waste fossils on that task?

You only use fossils when you have to, i.e. when water levels are too low and wind/solar cannot keep up the levels on their own.

The author is the one making the extraordinary claim.*
The author is the only one who must now produce extraordinary proof.
Anything else is just feeding the trolls.
Today's effort, ignoring yesterdays gleanings, suggests phishing:
A psychopath only improves their mask when faults are detailed.

Mark Twain:
"The Mysterious Stranger":


*(of only two-score deaths from the Chernobyl catastrophe.)

The data vast devastation of life is endless.
(They probably killed over 40 people just in additional car accidents.)

"Simply put, I did the research and came up with a null result..."

You "did the research" but you weren't even familiar with the body of work that has been developed over years as the basis for challenge of the ludicrous claims of little effect by industry/officialdom?

I don't think you are telling the truth. I suspect, but have insufficient evidence to prove, that you are deliberately lying.

Yep. I started from the official figures. Not knowing where the anti-nuclear people get their information I figured that they would be more than happy to share their most authoritative sources.

When I met resistance to my inquiries it seemed odd at best.

I mean, no offense, but I don't know any of you any better than you know me. Why should I take your word for anything?

The sources have been scattered through these threads from the beginning and you have consistently ignored that fact while demanding that they be produced.

Now, if you are truthful in your claim of wanting to educate yourself on the subject, you'll go read some of them.

This is just bizarre-- this forum is littered with references, yet you continually claim there are none.

I don't think anyone has mentioned this in a couple of days, but it's also worth noting that the NY Academy of Sciences book is not really just a single source:

"With a foreword by the Chairman of the Ukranian National Commission on Radiation Protection, Dimitro M. Grodzinsky, the 327-page volume is an English translation of a 2007 publication by the same authors. The earlier volume, “Chernobyl,” published in Russian, presented an analysis of the scientific literature, including more than 1,000 titles and more than 5,000 printed and Internet publications mainly in Slavic languages, on the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster."

(Per the NYAS website) So that is not just one source, but a thousand, or 5,000, depending on how you look at it.

It seems like a similar pattern plays out in many different fields, for example with research on SSRIs in mental health. Private sector publishes lots of research showing these compounds are effective. People in the field start noticing, "Gee, this stuff just doesn't work very well, and lots of our patients are having serious side effects or making suicide attempts. Let's review all the research that has been done." And the meta-analysis reveals that there were hundreds of well-designed and executed studies which reveal poor efficacy and significant dangers that the cherry-picked individual studies did not.

I am much more interested in the status of the reactors, and evaluating both short and long term public health risks, both physical and mental. This forum has been a great source of information... and references. (Ahem!)

I haven't had time to read all the comment threads, and while I have seen some of this material referred to, nobody could be arsed to post a link when asked politely.

That does not indicate a desire to convince, it indicates a desire to be followed without question.

"...nobody could be arsed to post a link when asked politely."

You're lying again.


I agree with those who say you couldn't have made a serious search without finding at least some of this material, but if you're being honest about having looked, here is what I think may have happened:

If you were reading "trusted" sources which said things like "no randomized, double blind study has confirmed an increase in cancer rates from radiation in nuclear accidents" you may have taken the statement(s) at face value, and perhaps looked at whatever they linked to....

But these types of studies can't be done...

Well, I read studies that *did* indicate an increase in cancer rates.

It's just that none of the studies I read gave any hint that there was a widespread or great enough increase in the rates to justify a lot of the rhetoric I've been reading here.

You don't just hide that kind of fatality rate behind a bottle of vodka.

Ukraine Annual Death Rate per 1,000 population

1985 11.5
2008 16.3

Wonder why this is?

You've got the impovershment and conflict from the collapse of the FSU, but don't bother looking at confounding factors like that, it'll only confuse you. </sarcasm>

Yes, let's just assume it's entirely due to the collapse of the Soviet Union even though the population drops the most in the order (highest percentage loss first) Ukraine, Belarus, Russia. That this sharp decline began in the late 80s isn't suspicious at all.

But yes, let's just assume and not bother to look properly. Out of sight, out of mind.

Much of the population drop in Ukraine is because there were an awful lot of Russians and Poles living in Ukraine, who moved when they were allowed to. In the same way that you might well expect the population of the state of New Mexico to drop quite significantly were it annexed by Mexico.

Emigration, not democide.

Ukraine has also had the highest average death rate of the three countries. But yes, once again let's assume that no part of this is due to Chernobyl. That way nobody has to look closer.

Or to put it another way, the excess deaths in parts of the former Soviet Union are so large that an enormous number of Chernobyl related deaths could be hidden in there even if most of the fatalities had nothing to do with nuclear contamination. However to really understand what happened and help calibrate internal exposure models it is vitally important to look very closely at this - especially as the huge jump in death rates generally occurred in the parts of the Soviet Union most heavily hit by fallout from Chernobyl. Wouldn't you agree this needs looked at more closely?

For example (death rates per 1,000) (Source: World Bank)

Country    1985  2008
Eu/C.Asia  10.4  10.4 (Europe/Central Asia avg)
Belarsus   10.1  13.8
Kazakhstan  8.0   9.7
Poland     10.3   9.9 (not USSR)
Russia     11.3  14.6
Ukraine    11.5  16.3
Uzbekistan  7.2   5.3

Note: Death Rates appear to have peaked in the worst hit countries between about 2002-2005 and have been slowly dropping since but are still much higher than they started off at.

From Lange, in Yablokov, Undertow. It would be great to compare this image side by side with a country by country fertility/death rate 5 and 25 years afterwards, since deposition was so spotty and the countries have changed since then. In statistics, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The country with the greatest fallout from Chernobyl would appear to be Belarus. However, their death rate increased less than that of Russia or Ukraine.


During the May Day celebrations in Kiev a lot of people were exposed to high ambient levels from a plume over the city. That incident alone seems worthy of more investigation. Also Greenpeace claim that their own measurements in Ukraine suggests that the official Ukraine fallout map omits many areas of relatively high contamination and under-records others. Their most recent tests still found food onsale in the Ukraine above legal limits even today.


KIEV (AFP) – Radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster still affects food sold in village markets in rural areas of northern Ukraine, Greenpeace campaigners said on Tuesday.

The environmental group published the findings of a small investigation into food purchased from village markets in two administrative regions, Zhytomyr and Rivne.

Tests found caesium 137, a long-lasting radioactive contaminant that accumulates in organisms, which were above permissible levels in many samples of milk, dried mushrooms and berries, they said.

Not a direct response to Undertow, but UCS is weighing in on the Chernobyl excess cancer and death statistics today...coincidence?


"The parade of death"

"Disturbingly, all footage of May Day 1986 has now disappeared from the Ukrainian national archives."

The evidence of radio-actives causing harm was systematically destroyed before, and as, it entered the records.

But a more balance perspective would consider all the factors on the ground.

Here is (one aspect, at least) the Author's approach..

Chap 2, p 39

If we truly want to understand and estimate the health impact of the Chernobyl catastrophe in a methodologically correct manner, it will be demonstrated in populations or intrapopulation group differences varying by radioactive levels in the contaminated territories where the territories or subgroups are uniform in other respects.

And here is how one extract of this approach is applied. It would seem to have adequately used a control group that was no less affected by other issues hitting FSU citizens at the time.

Chap 2, p 166 Oncological Diseases after Chernobyl Ukraine
1. Compared to the pre-Chernobyl period, the number of cases of thyroid cancer increased 5.8-fold from 1990 to 1995, 13.8-fold from 1996 to 2001, and 19.1-fold from 2002 to 2004 (Tronko et al., 2006).

2. The prevalence of invasive forms of carcinoma (87.5%) indicates very aggressive tumor development (Vtyurin et al., 2001). Clinically this is expressed by a short latency period, absence of general body signs or symptoms, and high lymphatic invasiveness. Some 46.9% of patients have their tumor spread beyond the thyroid. Regional metastasis into neck lymph nodes occurred in 55.0% of patients and these required repeated operations to remove residual metastases that appeared shortly after the
initial operation. Moreover, 11.6% of patients developed remote lung metastases (Rybakov et al., 2000; Komissarenko et al., 2002).

3. Before the catastrophe, the occurrence of thyroid cancer among children and adolescents was 0.09 per 100,000; afterward, in 1990, it was 0.57–0.63 per 100,000. The greatest increase in morbidity was recorded in young people living in the most heavily contaminated districts of Kiev, Chernygov, Zhytomir, Cherkassk, and Rovno provinces (Komissarenko et al., 1995). In these areas thyroid cancer morbidity reached 1.32 per 100,000 persons, which was fivefold higher than in other areas.

Citation: Komissarenko, I. V., Rybakov, S. I., Kovalenko, A. E., Lysenko, A. G., Demchenko, N. P. & Kvachenyuk, A. N. (1995). Modern approaches and prospects of treatment of thyroid gland cancer. Med. Affair 9–12: 23–26 (in Russian).

Here are my biased poll questions:
Does the nuclear power industry have a need to find that the consequences of Chernobyl to be minimized?
Like the government (pick a nuclear power) have we ever noticed that it has lied about events that might affect us or people we love?
Is the power of the nuclear industry enhanced because of the power of the military industrial complex and 'the bomb'?
Does the IAEA have essentially veto power over WHO investigations of nuclear related incidents?
Do the nuclear power advocate investigations come out with around 2 orders of magnitude of less damage than anybody else?
Do you think we are getting accurate assessments of the radioactive contamination from the Japanese government and TEPCO?
Do you think there were accurate assessments of how much and where the contamination from Chernobly went?
Do you think there were accurate assessments of how much the liquidators were exposed to radiation when it is hard to find hard numbers of how many there were?
How much external? How much internal?
Are the estimated doses of contamination a good basis for determining facts about the effects of Chernobyl?
Do you think that IAEA endorsed WHO study of the effects of Chernobyl is close to reality?

Well, it certainly can't be proven that it has anything to do with radiation; there are just too many potentially confounding factors and many of them, for some strange reason, haven't been adequately accounted for. Only a bunch of innumerate, agenda-driven, hippie-greenies would jump to the conclusion that the little problem at Chernobyl was a primary cause.

I'll have a nuclear renaissance, please. With extra financing guarantees... Oh, and limit the liability.

The effects of Chernobyl aside, after 1991 health-care, education, guaranteed work all went down the tubes in Ukraine and mafia capitalism took over from the Soviet state. The social upheaval has been significant - some have been lifted up, but for many people the standard of life deteriorated significantly after independence. The path to recovery has been slow - rutted and full of potholes. The 'orange revolution' was just another setback. I had a colleague who studied the effects of radiation on the forests outside the red zone. He died before reaching 30. I have no doubt that Chernobyl's effect on health was very significant. I also believe it will be impossible to definitively characterize.

This will also play out in Japan - the seeds of confusion are already in place. It will never be possible to adequately quantify the effects of the accident on health.

Ukraine Annual Death Rate per 1,000 population

     Ukraine     Croatia(added)
1985 11.5	11.42
2008 16.3       11.1 (2005)

Wonder why this is?

I added Croatia, as a rough comparison.

Yes, the stats are easy enough to find, but of course these are not
like bullet wounds, or car accidents - they are 'earlier mortality effects', and as such, they are very easy to pretend do not exist.

There are strong vested interests, in NOT looking too hard, for these numbers.

Croatia did not experience a GDP collapse after 1991. BTW, Yugoslavia was not part of the Warsaw Pact or the "eastern bloc". It had authoritarian socialism and not communism. People were free to travel and emigrate and their economy was for all intents a purposes private and not collectivized. Also, Slovenia experienced stellar economic growth in the 1990s while the ex-USSR collapsed into the worst depression in recent history (worse than the economic damage from WWII).

Ukraine's GDP fell by about 67% from 1991 to 1998. Even more than Russia's. The Great Depression GDP drop in the USA was 25%. If you zealots are going to claim it is all radiation cancer then at least provide numbers showing the cancer rates.

BTW, why are the death rates dropping in the last 10 years when all the cancers from Chernobyl should really be taking off. Even the precious Greenpeace "report" claiming 100,000 deaths is talking about long term casualties.

If you zealots are going to claim it is all radiation cancer then at least provide numbers showing the cancer rates.

I didn't claim that it is "all radiation cancer" and I don't believe that in any case. You just made it up. I would like to see it studied more closely.

And I can only post public data I can find. If anyone has good data on historical cancer rates across the former USSR (it is not in World Bank public stats) going back to the 80s then I'd like to look at it.

Death rates seem to have peaked (so far anyway), as you ask, about 17-20 years after Chernobyl in the countries most affected.

Why wouldn't/couldn't the GDP drop in part be due to the effects of Chernobyl? Sick and dying people, unravelled social fabric, loss of arable land... these are not things that would make for a rosier economic picture.

Because the dips in GDP are perfectly synchronized with the breakup of the USSR in 1991, but don't start until several years after Chernobyl. There could well be a delayed effect of radiation, of course, but if so it's remarkable that the radiation had no effect until the tanks started shelling Yeltsin's palace, and then kicked in with a vengeance.

It's an Occam's Razor thing. You need more special pleading to make the case for radiation impact on GDP than you do for the government collapse hypothesis. Occam's razor doesn't prove anything, but it does give hints.

Of course, there's the unifying theory: that Chernobyl radiation *caused* the downfall of the USSR. But I doubt you'll get a lot of support for that from Soviet historians.


The downfall of communism was due to the relentless pressure of US Reagan administration. For all practical purposes the arms race bankrupted the block. John Paul's II (edit: and CIA's) support of opposition in Poland, the least oppressive regime of them all, created enough force to topple the bankrupt system over. There was no civic system in communist countries, so the whole thing just collapsed under it's own weight.

The less socioeconomically developed the country, the harder the crash. Croatia, Slovenia, Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary went through it significantly better than Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. I am not sure about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but I am inclined to think that they had less impact. DDR was bailed out for a trillion dollars or so.

It was rough everywhere, but in some places it was waay rougher.

"The downfall of communism was due to the relentless pressure of US Reagan administration."

A naive and foolish assertion originally circulated but people who knew better but wished to take credit for themselves. The USSR collapsed due to a combination of corrupt and ineffective management and low oil prices. The Afghan war and Chernobyl contributed to an overall mood of failure and accented the extent of government corruption in the eyes of the general population.

..And the relentless pressure of US administration did not let the system recover. Afghanistan and Chernobyl were big hits, but Russia could/would have recovered if not the hard boot from the US.

I've lived behind the Iron Curtain for 24 years... too many ;-)

..And the relentless pressure of US administration did not let the system recover. Afghanistan and Chernobyl were big hits, but Russia could/would have recovered if not the hard boot from the US.

I've lived behind the Iron Curtain for 24 years... too many ;-)

Not 'the boot', but tiredness and corruption within and the glitter without. Regan was responsible for many things, but the disintegration of the USSR was not one of them.


It could be argued that the severe internal weaknesses may have brought the whole edifice down much earlier if the powers that be (powers that were?) did not have mad cowboy Raygun to point to as a clear and threatening enemy--fear is a wonderful motivator.

Our "war on terror" has served a similar function.

Now we're in my neck of the woods, many years spent neck-deep in socioeconomic stats. Just using GDP to measure socioeconomic conditions would be like flying a plane using one gauge, as my boss at one research institute used to say.

"GDP measures output of goods and services for a certain period, normally one year. A natural disaster that entails destruction of fixed capital (such as buildings, road networks, forests) thus has no direct impact on GDP. On the other hand, actions taken by consumers and producers in response to natural disasters have a relatively prolonged effect on GDP. Examples of actions affecting GDP include reconstruction of buildings and road networks, loss of output and a drop in tourism in the affected areas. Thus, the net effect of a natural disaster is often to increase recorded GDP in the short run, even though the effect on living standards is of course negative."


Do you think that Chernobyl had a positive effect on the socioeconomic strength of the USSR, Ukraine, Belarus etc? Consider the sick and dead, the lost work days, the diverted projects, the dead livestock and inedible food.

I don't dispute that short-term GDP fluctuations are a bad measure of the health and wealth of nations, and I don't dispute that Chernobyl was bad for neighboring countries.

But I was responding an argument that said that the GDP drop was *caused by* Chernobyl. I showed that if you accept the argument's premise that disasters hurt GDP, the timing of the GDP drop lines up well with the Soviet collapse, and poorly with Chernobyl.

If you reject the premise that disasters hurt GDP, the argument falls apart on its own without my saying anything.

Do you think that Chernobyl had a positive effect on the socioeconomic strength of the USSR, Ukraine, Belarus etc?

Of course not. But I question whether it played a major role in the large GDP and population drops in the former soviet union after 1991. It's not impossible, but I haven't seen strong evidence to back up the claim.

Check out the average age of the citizens for 1985 then 2008 in the Ukraine
that 1000 per got a wee bit older.


I can provide a little information that might help you with context as you look at the information. And it comes with a stern warning that anecdote is no substitute for data--but sometimes anecdote can help data make sense.

I had the good fortune to visit the FSU in February, 1983--post-Brezhnev, pre-Gorbachev, definitely pre Chernobyl--and despite the -40 temps and the month it took to recover from drinking the tap water, I count it as a major piece of education.

I was lucky to look a little Russian and speak a little German, and since I didn't mind listening to old people who had learned a little German during WWII, I got some pretty good information about what was happening at the time prior to the Chernobyl incident.

My overwhelming impression was that these were people who were pretty beat up and looked it--bad food, bad medicine, bad pollution, bad teeth, very cliche. I saw a lot of people who looked pudgy yet starving; it was unsettling. Message-wise, the word was that people were fed up with the SU--and were willing to say that the whole thing was falling apart from the inside. (When questioned, they tended to say it wasn't so much the idea of Communism, just a recognition that their actual country didn't work.) They had never recovered from the losses of WWII. They were very concerned about Reagan and "Star Wars," feared being blown to bits. (Best line: "Please, please, please tell the Cowboy that we are not Indians.")

So--proud, nice, extremely smart people, but pretty messed up, beat up and frustrated. Plus fully capable of, equipped for and engaged in drinking themselves, if not to death, at least into a stupor given the opportunity. I offer all this up by way of saying that this was a group of people very used to dealing with the grim realities of their life--definitely not a spoon-fed crowd of central planning addicts, as they're often portrayed.

So, if the already pretty grim fatality rate of 1983 got that much worse by 2008, my anecdotal experience tells me it may have been something more significant than the decline of politics, economics, or a worsening of the non-nuclear pollution which was already pretty bad. So I suspect that Chernobyl carries some weight. I just do. And the data about increases in thyroid cancer--what other factor could cause it? (Note that thyroid cancer is no walk in the park and a person will die without a lifelong supply of Synthroid.)

I think it's always hard to look at data that isn't entirely conclusive and has perhaps been hacked up by agendas from all sides. A person hardly knows what to think. But that's where personal experience can sometimes be helpful, or a story from an observer who at least tries to be objective can provide some insight.


Don't be too upset by the "greenie" rhetoric you hear--some folks did their research long ago and have been doing this a long time. They're understandably frustrated by the fact that the rest of us aren't figuring things out as quickly as they'd like. If you look around, you'll note that most of the poets are no slouches in the science department--it's just frustrating for them to explain how research gradually leads to conviction.....

Well, in my free research before I started asking this time the biggest thing I came up with was this:

I don't have the background to fully judge the quality of the source, but it does indicate elevated levels of thyroid cancer in their test cohort, with the level in the highest cohort significantly above the rest at 3200 per Million. (This is assuming I am reading it correctly, I do not have significant medical training.)

IF this level were consistent across all groups (which the study clearly indicates is not so) it would definitely justify Yablokov's million deaths in the region. This is the study I had referred to previously, sorry about not providing the link at the time.

Amazingly enough, Googling "Cancer Ukraine" comes up with all sorts of interesting links, including clear indications that Ukranian oncologists are advancing the state of the art for cancer treatment. It may not be the Mayo Clinic, but I would not call their medical prowess into question.

There is also a clear indication from the results available that while the Soviet government may have tried to engage in a coverup, their successors have not.

Still looking, Thanks to everyone for the links and additional commentary so far, I am learning quite a bit.

Learning is good.

*"When looking at disability you have to start answering questions like "is thyroid cancer worse than emphysema?"*

Please let us know who it is who feels competent to answer such a question.

*You think a lot of people in Belarus have access to teams of cancer specialists..? You think that the cancer survival rate in rural Ukraine is good..?*

I would say 'no' and 'no.'

How about access to a clean hospital with rudimentary equipment, like IV tubes?


Concern troll?

"I think that placing the bar at death is perfectly fair when making safety comparisons."

Insanity. That would not be acceptable in any other scenario. Let's hope you don't design toys.

Arguments that could just as well be revival sermons with radionuclides traded for brimstone are a likely sign the no-nukes-ever crowd has run out of reason to argue with. The "won't someone PLEASE think of the children" line that I've seen played twice in one day makes me wonder where y'all are getting your talking points and paychecks from.

Note well that I'm NOT saying that the nuke industry isn't paying HBGary or whoever to put their own shills on the board, because certainly they are. You can tell by all the new faces and handles around here.

Anyway. The sad fact is that the rich class will burn everything they can get their hands on to create wealth for themselves, regardless of what the rest of us do or want, unless we can pry their hands from the wheel of government and cut their influence down to size.

Are you accusing me of being a shill? For whom, for what massive, deep-pockets no-nukes entity?

Two points on the "someone please think of the children" comment:

- I picked toys out as dark humor, not link this to children. I find it absurd that death would be where the "safety" bar would be raised for this fellow because a million cancers from one accident were "safe" enough for him, provided that people died of other things first, or had their thyroids hacked out, or what have you.

- As it turns out... yes, indeed, won't someone think of the children. Not just because they have more
at stake from radiation exposure but because they have to live a longer time with the waste storage issue.

The "no-nukes-ever" crowd exists because we have ongoing proof that the costs and risks associated with the industry make it a lunatic endeavor. Things will go wrong and when they do it's very clear that's there's no good plan in place for avoiding harming and displacing people by the tens of millions when an accident occurs. The best case scenario is that we're left with deadly waste no one has any idea how to store safely into the horizons of the future. This against the background of an industry that has a history of cover-up.

I'm also in the "no-driving-into-a-tree-ever" crowd and the "no-injecting-bleach-ever" crowd.

Now, if we could figure out how to do fusion that might be a starter.

[children] have to live a longer time with the waste storage issue.

How long do they have to live with the toxics and heavy metals in coal-ash dumps?

The "no-nukes-ever" crowd exists because we have ongoing proof that the costs and risks associated with the industry make it a lunatic endeavor.

Only if you ignore the costs of the alternatives.  A world without electricity and everything it provides means a life expectancy of perhaps 30, and nuclear has a lower health and environmental cost than coal.

'A world without electricity and everything it provides means a life expectancy of perhaps 30'

That is so tommy-rot it's hard to know where to start..electricity was rare until the 20thC - somehow people lived reasonably well.


30 to 40 would be about right for historical life expectancy at birth. However, a lot of deaths occur in infancy and childhood, so that if you reach 20, you still had a life expectancy of another 30 years from that age.

That's like Junkie-talk, E-P.

"Lose Nuclear electricity, and you'll be DEAD at 30!"

and Stop acting like it's 'Either COAL or NUCLEAR' .. It's both, we have both, and both have to go. I don't know that they will, but they need to.

What happens if France has a SERIOUS drought and heat-wave next summer.. what if there's a 'glitch' as they try to shutter the reactors since the cooling rivers have gotten too warm and are drying out?

We just don't have the tools to control the ways these plants can mess us up. Russia didn't, now Japan doesn't, and each one just adds and adds to the lethal mess.

Do you seriously think that a regulatory requirement regarding condenser exit temperature would keep France from shutting down plants safely?

I used to think you were one of the voices of reason here on TOD.  Now I'm disappointed.

I have no doubt that they'd follow their protocols elegantly..

I'm sure they try to check their backup procedures very dutifully, and aren't nearly as unscrupulous about hiding cost-cutting decisions as some of the NPP operators in my region of the US have been caught at lately.

I think that without a ready supply of cooling water, that a situation might quickly grow 'complicated' in ways that we're seeing in Japan.. even though these are supposedly superior plants.

I'm saying that screwups happen, and if one happened in central Europe, then all the Euro-descendants and Citizens here on this board would suddenly take this question of 'It couldn't happen to US!!' very differently.. but it would hardly matter. I understand there is also an attitude of 'exceptionalism' in Japan, and I wonder how those people are taking this changed landscape.

Your estimation of what is 'reasonable' carries less weight with me as well.

These glowy promises of the Next Generation of plants do little if they don't also offer to quickly erase the dangers of all the aging plants that are out there treading water in a sinking economy and a warming world, a world that is increasingly battling around spent fuel pools over dying oilfields.

A combination of very bad mixes.

I was unaware that I came out against electricity. Maybe you can pick up a lion and a tin man to go with your straw man.


I think you are wasting your time. People like the one you are replying do are not interested in what you have to say. They want to spread their message (if you are not familiar with it google: Adam Curtis, The century of self, and other docus like this one).
There are two reasons for this kind of behavior, IMHO:

First, they believe what they are saying, or
Second, they spread it because they get paid for it or have a vested interest do to so.

In the case of the first reason, they can be likened to the people who riot, because someone in a far away country burned a book. These people are willing to bring great harm to themselves and others because of their believe system, not because of sound reasoning.
In the case of the second reason above, the motive is just blind greed and selfishness. Also beyond reason!

But such behavior is not new. It is probably as old as humanity (or almost).

And this is why I think this form of human society has no chance of survival in the long run (lasted already longer than a lot of people expected).

Just think of PO, peak water, peak soil, etc, etc. We as humans are raping this earth with everything we got! Every invention we make is first and foremost used to destroy each other in warfare - and our planet in the process (nuclear a prime example!) With this kind of thinking in a post PO world what would you think how long it takes to be at the same level of destruction as we are now? Maybe just with less energy, but still trying to kill each other and rape our environment as fast as our resources will allow.

Most people on this forum know, that I am defending the message we can find in an ancient book - the Bible. Not the twisted message organized Religion is conveying, but the message as it is in the book.

Without wanting to go into a debate about religion (otherwise Leanan will delete this comment), just consider two quotes:

(Ecclesiastes 8:9) 9 All this I have seen, and there was an applying of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, [during] the time that man has dominated man to his injury. . .

(Jeremiah 10:23) 23 I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. . .

A lot of people here and in other forums always quote a lot out of books written by knowledgeable people, but I have not seen a lot of quotes from the book that has more to say about human vices and their results on us and the planet than all the other books combined.

And something to think about

(Revelation 11:18) 18 But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time............. to bring to ruin those ruining the earth

Just my thoughts for a brighter future, without doom.


"Every invention we make is first and foremost used to destroy each other in warfare"

I've yet to see the destructive aftermath of a solar panel war...


if I am not mistaken, the first solar panels were invented for use on military satellites = warfare. Does that count?


Oh...well if that is how you score things, water (followed by oxygen and then photosynthesis) is surely the deadliest substance known to man...b/c without it, there would be no man and there could be no war.

Well, 2nd Punic War; 216 BC when the Romans attacked the Greeks at Syracuse. Apparently the
Greeks used mirrors to focus the suns rays on the Roman fleet and set them on fire.
Joannes Zonaras, a Byzantine historian of the 12th century, wrote:
"At last, in an incredible manner, he burned up the whole Roman fleet. For by tilting a kind of mirror he ignited the air from the beam and kindled a great flame, the whole of which he directed at the ships at anchor in the path of the fire, until he consumed them all."


A burning glass or burning lens is a large convex lens that can concentrate the sun's rays onto a small area, heating up the area and thus resulting in ignition of the exposed surface.

Archimedes, the renowned mathematician, was said to have used a burning glass (or more likely a large number of angled hexagonal mirrors) as a weapon in 212 BC, when Syracuse was besieged by Marcus Claudius Marcellus. The Roman fleet was supposedly incinerated, though eventually the city was taken and Archimedes was slain.1

No destructive aftermath, however.

Interesting thoughts you have there ... that's a pretty 'doomer' kind of book in my mind you are quoting there:

John: You must not love the world, or the things of the world, for those who love the world or the things of the things of the world are stangers to the love of the father.

Not that we can't learn from it..

Anyway, it is technology that is our religion, our savior now - but on that criteria it would be interesting to see the results of the delete policy you refer to :P

As for a brighter future, I believe that humans are basically empathic creatures, not fallen or flawed beings as we are being told by every religion in the world. Nor is our future pre-written or destined in our genes (OK, except for laws of physics, biology, psychology etc. - but I would say we still have enough latitude within that framework for improvement...) i believe strongly that the laws of physics abide by the Law of Life ... (but for now its all anecdotal :P

"To each is given its moment in the blaze, its spark to be surrendered to another when it is sent so that the blaze may go on.
None can deny its spark to the general blaze and live forever. Each is sent to another some day. You are sent. You are on your way.
I am sent. To the grasses or the lions or the vultures I am sent. My death is the life of another and I will stand again in the wind swept grasses, see through the eyes of the fox, take to the air with the eagle and run in the track of the deer." - Daniel Quinn


thanks for the link. I would agree with most he is saying, but somehow that message is being lost in all that noise we humans make (just read some of the comments people make on everyday news articles!).

And yes, we as humans have now a lot of "Ersatz"-religion (aka Technology, Money, Greed is Good, Evolution, etc.). If my understanding of the Bible is correct - and all the signs are there that I am on the right track - than I think we (as in you and me) are in a good position to see the effects of the "delete" policy you named so aptly. I am assuming you have a bit off Bible knowledge (judging by your comments) so I think you are also aware that there are some strings attached, don't you?

As I have made clear a few times on this forum, what organized religion has done (past and present) to the message of the Bible is beyond disgusting. Therefore I would not use any characterization religions use. I would say that we are "alienated" from our Creator. We wanted to try it our way. And have failed miserably. All indications - and this forum has given me in the last 5 years many - are pointing to the absolute failure of the systems we have created. If this is all there is, than we have - as a human race - no chance of survival.

Some here came to the same conclusion and ended with saying: God help us all! I always have to smile at expressions like this. Because he reached out his hand so often, but all we did was hitting it and pushing it away. So why should he help us?

His outreached hand is in the message of his book (and by the way, it is not a book of doom, on the contrary it gives hope more than anything else). Reading it and learning what he expects us to do is up to us.


No, unfortunately I'm not a one-book-man - I prefer the thoughtfulness of Tao Te Ching or the excitement of Bhagavad Gita to the bluntness and shear boredom of the books of the Abrahamic religions... And actually my Bible is the HHGTTG! It explains everything you need to know about life, the universe and stuff :P


isn't hitchhiking to dangerous these days? LOL

Hey U;
I appreciate your thoughts.. I also don't begrudge R4ndom demanding links and reliable sources. That is certainly the way it is done. I've posted links in any other argument I've undertaken, as requested, but Chernobyl seems particularly tough, as the Soviet Government, the Nuclear industry and many other National Powers appeared to me to have every reason to bury, disqualify or otherwise discourage this sort of data from becoming readily available.

In a business environment where Microwave Oven tests have been regularly thwarted, and the Cell-phone exposure issue has been so thoroughly 'whack-a-moled', it seems there is a lot of money at stake, and the upstarts have been undercut and ridiculed continuously. I'm just too tired to fight it, sometimes.

It seems to me that the NY Acad Sciences doc could have some overreach to it, so I think it is necessary to go upstream of it and look at the various sourced those Authors used, just to get clear of the taint of suspicion that has been laid on that document, whether it's deserved or not.

Here's a snippet of another branch of 'Ancient Wisdom' that seems worth mentioning within this disaster. .. it harkens a little to 'Understand what Power is.. Understand what Glory is'


Why is the sea king of a hundred streams?
Because it lies below them.
Therefore it is the king of a hundred streams.

If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility.
If he would lead them, he must follow behind.
In this way when the sage rules, the peole will not feel oppressed;
When he stands before them, they will not be harmed.
The whole world will support him and will not tire of him.

Because he does not compete,
He does not meet competition.

-tao te ching

(I hope it's from a decent translation..)

"It seems to me that the NY Acad Sciences doc could have some overreach to it, so I think it is necessary to go upstream of it and look at the various sourced those Authors used..."

Yes, unfortunately, most of those sources (there are thousands) appear to have been published only in Slavic languages.

Maybe the nuclear industry and its captive governments will help us pay for translation--in the interest of transparency and comprehensive evaluation of the data.

I have seen nitrogen blanket on top of a liquid in a tank. How is nitrogen with a Mol wt of 28 going to keep O with a Mol wt of 32 separated from H2. Since hydrogen doesn’t want to be alone for any length of time, would find oxygen in spite of the nitrogen. I guess they think these gases will stay in layers.

The idea is to dilute the gases to below the explosive limit. H2 doesn't mind being alone, and doesn't "seek out" oxygen. And if it encounters it, that doesn't mean a reaction, as there is a high activation energy (a barrier that must be surmounted). For an explosion, you need something to initiate it (could be a spark, or the presence of some surface which could get things started) and then a sufficient concentration of both H2 and O2 to keep the chain reaction going.

As JulesBourne said, the idea is most likely to dilute both the hydrogen and the oxygen in the room so that the mixture isn't explosive. The Wikipedia article on Hydrogen_safety says that the explosive limits of hydrogen in air are 18.3% to 59% by volume. That, of course, assumes that the remainder is air, which is 20% oxygen. Adding nitrogen will reduce the percentage of oxygen.

But then you would also be pushing the existing H2 out of a relatively oxygen free environment into a more oxygenic atmospheric surrounding ? It can go both ways

No, the containment is sealed.  Adding N2 dilutes the fraction of both O2 and H2 in the gas; below a certain concentration of inert diluents it's impossible for a reaction to heat the gas enough to keep a flame going, and combustion (and explosion) are impossible.

Pressure readings show that the containment is not sealed however

Which containment? Never mind: Pretty clearly not sealed at either level. I mean, 50 sV/Hr in the drywell on 3/26, etc., etc. etc...

Unit 1 has pressure readings above atmosphere - I assume from the reactor pressure vessel - state of drywell/secondary containment I regard as unknown following the explosion and the unknown effects of subsequent seawater cooling. As the pressure readings are already quite high I am not sure it is possible/safe to add nitrogen without relieving pressure somehow.

Units 2 and 3 do not have pressurized containment - too damaged by explosions/earthquakes/seawater. No one has a clear understanding of the state of units 1-4 - no one. There has been entirely too much 'happy talk' from the nuclear community since the start of this affair - nearly all of it has proved speculation from ignorance and wishful thinking.

Every one who saw the videos of unit 1 and 3 exploding could immediately understand the seriousness of the situation, and when the aerial photos of the results became available it was even clearer. Now there is finally an admission that nuclear fuel, likely from the fuel storage pools, has been strewn about the landscape.

You state "the containment is sealed" - yet you have no idea what the actual state of any of the hardware is and whether your assurance is worth a wooden nickle.

reactor B unit 1 pressure seems high (7 atm) ,
looking however at the amount of water injected per minute (6000 liter / hr) ,
the pressure increase is just not big enough to warrant that the system is closed ,
so even reactor B unit 1 might be considered breached using the measured data

The nitrogen will seep too. A hazard for those working as well but an explosion spoils your day a lot more quickly. Maybe they should add nitrogen flush lines to all reactor buildings so that, in emergencies, the atmosphere can be changed to a low oxygen one to avoid the hydrogen explosions that have caused so many problems.


Re-criticality, facilitated by damage to the core structure and insufficient borate in the water...

I've posited in the past that some re-criticality is possible in damaged areas of the core and that injected water isn't being effectively circulated, especially if areas of the core geometry have been 'rearranged'. It doesn't matter how much borate is in the water if it isn't reaching parts of the cores. Slow, localized meltdown will proceed, hydrogen produced, and the cores will stay hot. IMO, this is what is occuring and the evidence seems to support this. One way or another, this is a temporary condition, though these things could be in a slow burn for a long time.

One wonders when they'll begin pumping in the concrete.

perhaps the hydrogen production will stop when all the zircaloy is oxidised. Could anyone take an educated guess at the state of the corium in reactor 1?

Some speculation:
- temperature probably reached at least 1200C
- does the corium fractionate or is there too much convection?
- if there's re-criticality, which substances in corium can act as moderators?
- assuming there's no water getting much past the hot boundary layer, what other localised reactions are likely?

I think at the bottom of the RPV there's the whole mess of rod-insertion machinery, as well as all sorts of measurement tubes.

I'm guessing all that stuff tangles and tumbles slowly as it's weight overcomes it's stiffness,
it could clump nicely in a heap or be scattered in uneven varying lumps..

I continue to regret that I didn't bring a camera to the admin building at the Chernobyl site; they have a marvellous fold-out 3D scale model of the best known model of the current state of the reactor there, which is an amazing mess of steel piping bent as though the world's largest kitten had been playing with it.

The concreet will be pumped only when:
the corium and spend fuel rods are cooled down enough so no new re-criticality can occur. Other wise the heat will rise again and the concreet sarcophagus will crack open like an egg.

edit: typo

Once again, if there is ongoing criticality, how do you explain the stable BOTTOM RPV temperatures? Yesterday these were 115oC for reactors 1 and 3. The last time #2 was reported it was lower than 1 or 3, 90oC as I recall.

I personally think the last thing to worry about are the reactors. What concerns me more are all the spent fuel rods outside the reactors.

They could drill a 2000 (or so) foot shaft, drop the remains of the spent fuel rods down to the bottom and then drop a sub-kiloton warhead down the shaft to disperse the remnants to prevent any nuclear reactions. This would be similar to the underground nuclear tests done on Yucca Flats in Nevada.

They could transport the spent core remains to the shaft using a very large airship (dirigible).

The could do this in Pennsylvania and frac the Marcellus shale at the same time.

Glowing tap water!

"They could transport the spent core remains to the shaft using a very large airship (dirigible)."

Well, some of it.

Some of it will first have to be collected from the debris from the hydrogen blasts scattered up to a mile from the site (per "confidential" NRC report obtained by NY Times).

Details, details...

"Once again, if there is ongoing criticality, how do you explain the stable BOTTOM RPV temperatures? Yesterday these were 115oC for reactors 1 and 3. The last time #2 was reported it was lower than 1 or 3, 90oC as I recall."


I'm not sure if we've had a nicely tabulated presentation of the (sea)water analysis from unit 2 posted. Contains data from Apr. 2,3,4 and shows some fluctuation in readings.


The link has a nice table and a link to the actual data (I couldn't read the page with actual data b/c of translation issue I think)

Was just in California, then traveling up the coast visiting friends, and enjoying warm weather. Some rambling thoughts following....

A friend of mine made an interesting comment to me the other day while discussing this. This is Japan, which is a pioneer in robotics: Why haven't they sent in robots into the reactor containments to see what the heck is really going on there?

He's not reassured by what the US and others are saying about minimal risk from radiation in rainwater here on the west coast, and has added lots of seaweed to his diet. Apparently he's not alone. I noted that Wakame and Hijiki, two of the more palatable forms of seaweed (and also some of the lowest sodium) were out of stock at one market down in Mendocino, where some of this is harvested.

Also, he went looking for such items as Geiger Counters and other radiation monitoring devices. These have flown off shelves apparently.

We passed through San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Pretty Country and I would love to live there - if it wasn't for Diablo Canyon. Apparently SLO County is now looking at DC's seismic setting:

Given modern methods of paleo-seismicity, including mapping of tsunami deposits and tsunami modeling, it shouldn't be too hard to assess DC's seismic risk. The news reports that the plant is designed for a 7.5. I wonder if this deteriorates with time somewhat due to aging and embrittlement of core components (sorry about the pun!) such as concrete and steel.

Using various seismic refraction profiling techniques, LIDAR etc. they should be able to get a handle on what faults are active in the area and their potential ground accelerations. The general correlation of fault length with intensity changes if LIDAR detects modern fault traces. One example is the Seattle Fault, which crosses Bainbridge Island. Its not that long, going from the Cascades to the Olympics. Yet sometime around 1100 AD the south end of Bainbridge Island popped up some 26 feet, causing tsunamis in Puget Sound, and some rather large landslide events. One, the Bonneville Slide dammed up the Columbia River for approximately 6 weeks, backing it up as far east as Umatilla (and covering the present day sites of the John Day and Dalles Dams). Another was the collapse of the NW corner of Mt. Rainier, filling in large areas of Puget Sound that we now call the Puyallup River Valley, etc. Much of Boeing's Aerospace manufacturing is located on this particular mudflow. If the Seattle Fault or one of the similar nearby thrust faults moves like this again, expect Boeing to take a huge hit. This might be a good reason to park one of the space shuttles elsewhere, rather than at the Museum of Flight, which is located on the mudflow at Boeing Field. (The Evergreen Museum in McMinneville is all ready for it, with their new building).

Info on the Seattle Fault:

I suspect they will find Diablo Canyon inadequately designed for its seismic and tsunami risk. Hopefully this will be discovered by careful review of the science and further studies, rather than through another Fukushima-type experience of subjecting this reactor to a real earthquake. Its kind of a gamble until then however. Wouldn't it be better and more prudent to put this thing into a safe shut down, etc. before this happens, rather than continuing with business as usual? Ditto for San Onofre?


"...expect Boeing to take a huge hit. This might be a good reason to park one of the space shuttles elsewhere, rather than at the Museum of Flight..."

Not to mention a few hundred thousand folks in the area. I doubt they'll be worried about the Shuttle if things cut loose.

A friend of mine made an interesting comment to me the other day while discussing this. This is Japan, which is a pioneer in robotics: Why haven't they sent in robots into the reactor containments to see what the heck is really going on there?
My answer: http://youtu.be/B7QEU4GDrUk

The real reason is that the electronic boards inside the robots get fried by the radiation. This is what also happened in Chernobyl; the Russians paid a lot of money for robots build by the Germans to clean up fuel rods that were scattered on the plant. But the robots failed due to the radiation. At the end it was all done by hand. Using a lot of "jumpers" of "liquidators" taking turns of 30-40 seconds on the roof (max doses in that time span).
A lot of the liquidators died of course in the years after...

Maybe it is possible to use lead to shield the electronics in the robots.


A friend of mine made an interesting comment to me the other day while discussing this. This is Japan, which is a pioneer in robotics: Why haven't they sent in robots into the reactor containments to see what the heck is really going on there?

My rambling off-the-cuff comment on that would be: the Japanese are obsessed about robots - NOT good at them (there was a BBC documentary about this some time ago...).

They do make very complex industrial robots for manufacturing lines, as well as very sophisticated humanoid toys for the consumer market. But when it comes to remote-controlled or drone type surveillance or EOD-type military-grade robots - I would go to Israel ie. US military funded stuff. That's where the state-of-the-art is as well as existing off-the-shelf and field-tested products one could deploy today.

Unfortunately a lot of them would be unsuitable for radiation environments - see RADHARD. There were remotely controlled robots being used already in Chernobyl - but even they with their robust tube-electronics failed eventually. If you read about todays semiconductor electronics susceptibility to radiation - those things would fail even quicker over there.

Also we need robots that can go into really complex places - the structures on top and around the reactors and pools are mangled and full of rubble. Any kind of conventional EOD-robot with ATW-wheels or even heavy tracks could not be able to maneuver over that. It would have to be something with very flexible multi-axis legs - meaning very complex servo-control. Lots of components to go wrong.

And anyway as there is nothing like that on the market on the shelf right now - speculating further about such is pointless. They need it there last week...

Another failure by the nuclear industry - with supposedly unlimited resources - to invest in advance on developing and producing such machines - indicating just how much we should trust them.

As if nothing was learned from Chernobyl - they just wanted to close their eyes and chant: this won't happen to us, this will never happen to us...

Edit: see above youtube on asimo by tinfoilhatguy - that is exactly what I mean! ;P

those reactors are worth 5-10 billion a piece. you got the check for that?

well at the moment I think they're more likely worth pennies. Cant see them ever producing electricity ever again.

I don't either, but that's because I don't see units 5 and 6 being allowed to operate, not because they're in any way unfit for use.

Again you are merely speculating without any clear knowledge of the state of units 5 and 6.

Rising (radioactive, to boot!)
groundwater (the whole area dropped 1.5 meters)
is flooding in.

This is now offering to destroy the electrical systems
used to monitor, control, and cool reactor cores 5 & 6.


Well there is the report of cracks in the basement of reactors 5 and 6, and radioactive water leaking into the basements. If that is true, then at minimum they are unfit to use until they have been thoroughly checked to see that the source of the water is definitely external to the units. Similarly they have just gone through an earthquake and tsunami, strong enough to wreck four other reactors on the same site you'd similarly want to check every inch of the boilers and pipework before you even thought about fuelling them and turning them back on. (Plus of course you'd want to be sure that the other four aren't due to make their environment entirely unworkable)

It is worth pointing out that reactor 3 at Chernobyl was only closed down in late 2000, and even then as a political gesture by Kuchma; reactor two had a turbine-hall fire and was closed down in 1991, reactor one in 1996.

On the other hand, Chernobyl is an enormous site, the reactor buildings are hundreds of metres apart rather than adjacent as at Fukushima.

Here is a pylon down, in Otsuch1 (north of Sendai).

Ken Bergeron was one source for the grid failure story at Fukushima. He specializes in "station blackout" simulations.

Tohoku Grid around Fukushima

This is the configuration of the transmission lines in the area of the Fukushima plants. Fukushima Dai-ni was taking power from the grid on March 12th. It has one circuit (in red) to the transmission substation (in green). The substation was being energized by two lines (in red) which were energized indirectly by plants that were running; that is, plants far away.
There are three circuits (one red, two orange) to Dai-ichi, and we are told that all three circuits were down, whereas the one to Dai-ni (in red) was up, as was at least one of the two circuits across the island.
The Question: Isn't it at least plausible that Bergeron, who specializes in worst case outages, did not make the distinction between 1) the grid being down, and 2) the connection between the plant's cooling pumps and the grid being under water.
The Motivation:We are being told that there were more or less three failures: the grid was down, the diesel generators were down, and some electrical panel was flooded. What if the only failure was that the "electrical panel" was flooded? Then the grid can be up, but the power can't get to the cooling pumps. And, possibly, the power from the diesel can't get to the cooling pumps either.
Problem: Each pair of units has a connection to the grid. (Did each pair also have its own diesel?) Were there three "electrical panels" that were flooded?


At the Fukushima Daiichi NPS (TEPCO), Fukushima II (Daini) NPS (TEPCO),
Onagawa NPS (Tohoku Electric Power Co.) and Tokai Daini NPS (Japan Atomic Power
Co.), all 11 units that had been in operation when the earthquake struck automatically
shut down, with control rods inserted in each reactor.

At the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, 14 emergency diesel generators all automatically
activated once external power became unavailable. But a large tsunami, far beyond the
maximum expected height of 5 meters, hit the site at around 3:20 p.m., causing all the
AC power sources for Units 1, 2 and 3 (those that had been in operation) to be lost.
The occurrence of a specific incident, pursuant to Article 10 of the Special Law of
Emergency Preparedness for Nuclear Disaster, was reported to the government. At
almost the same time, the oil tanks at the site were washed away by a tsunami.

Thereafter, utilizing emergency DC power sources, steam in the reactor was cooled
using an emergency condenser, and water was injected at Units 2 and 3, using the
Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) systems.

At 4:36 p.m. on March 11, water injection failed to function in the Emergency Core
Cooling Systems (ECCS) at Units 1 and 2, and it was unknown how much water had
been injected. Determining that the situation fell under Article 15 of the Special Law of
Emergency Preparedness for Nuclear Disaster, the government issued a "Declaration
of Nuclear Emergency" for Fukushima Daiichi.

In anticipation of the loss of function of emergency batteries, TEPCO started diesel fire
pumps at 9:00 p.m. on March 11, and got ready to inject water when the reactor
pressure had lowered.

Very nice.

At the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, 14 emergency diesel generators all automatically activated once external power became unavailable.

1. So one guess (mine) for the configuration of the 14 diesel generators is seven sets of two. A pair of generators for each of units 1 through 6, and a seventh pair at the common spent fuel pool. (The common pool also lost cooling.)
2. This set of facts
2a.says that the grid is the first backup power, and the diesel generators are the second (and third the batteries).
2b. reinforces the idea that the loss of external power was a single event; that the "entire site" was the thing that lost power.
2c. says that this loss of external power occurred before the water came onsite

causing all the AC power sources for Units 1, 2 and 3 (those that had been in operation) to be lost.

1. consistent with the idea that each unit has its own diesel generator(s)
2. Why focus on the "units in operation", when all the units need AC power and cooling. Probably just a mild prejudice.

TEPCO started diesel fire pumps at 9:00 p.m.

Pumps for fighting fires...

Also in that JAIF status update:

During that period, power supply vehicles were connected to internal bus bars, but that did not work well.

Internal bus bars. I'd like to know more about that - where they are, and why that didn't work well. Was this (were these) bus bar(s) the target endpoint for the reconnect with the grid?

Further north, ... at the Onagawa NPS ... Unit 1 [achieved cold shutdown] at 12:58 a.m. on March 12; and Unit 3 at 1:17 a.m. on March 12.

Earthquake at 2pm, cold shutdown at 1am next morning, means 11 hours to achieve cold shutdown at the two Onagawa units. At Dai-ni Unit 3 achieved cold shutdown at 12:15pm, taking 22 hours. The three other units at Dai-ni: 75 hours, 76 hours, and 89 hours: 7 times as long rather than 2 times as long as Onagawa.

I don't think the statement supports the narrative that the transmission system failed.
Is the phrasing typical oriental indirection? Is "unavailable" being polite, or don't they know?

At the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, 14 emergency diesel generators all automatically
activated once external power became unavailable.

At the other nulcear plant, Dai-ni, the diesels went on, also, after the earthquake.
However by midnight, when the first plant status was issued, Da-ini was back on the grid, whereas Dai-ichi was not, as we know.
How come?
How come they did not just connect back to the grid too? They had 3 lines unlike Dai-ni's one.
To believe the "grid was down" story, you have to hold that all three transmission circuits were down.

For units 1&2, the connection between the plant and the grid is at the top of a hill. That connection was fine, and is still fine. After that, it is the plant's responsibility, not the transmission company's responsibility. As bad as putting the diesel fuel tanks on the ocean side of the turbine building is, having electrical switches submerged under water is worse.

Here is another pylon damaged (bent over and wires crossed), from Google maps. http://goo.gl/maps/D4v1 It is north of the Fukushima substation, but connected to it normally. The area to the north of this location is wiped away by the tsunami.

Why couldn't the lesser of evils be renewable sources of energy - or reduction in energy consumption? - when we are clearly unable to handle the unintended consequences of nuclear power: contaminated land from accidents - and ever present problem of what to do with nuclear waste.

The nuclear lobby are very keen to suggest that we can solve the problems of safety, cleanup and waste managent with such as such technology and money.

Well then, couldn't we just invest that same money on renewables - to build smart super-grids to handle the intermittent sources, combined with a bit of hydrogen economy for storage example?

I mean those are at least just as 'clouds-in-the-sky' ideas as replacing all reactors with intrinsically safe types still being planned or nuclear waste repositories still being built - for all we will end up producing?

And should this be - not a engineering or economic choice - but a moral choice?

From the documentary A is for Atom an interview with Alwin Weinberg, the Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory 1955-1975:

Curtis, narration: [in the 1960's] there were protests against nuclear power throughout the world. In the public's imagination it was transformed from something good to something bad. Much of the anger was turned on the nuclear scientists. It emerged that they had deliberately concealed many of the risks and uncertainties they had discovered at the very time they were publicly promoting the wonders of nuclear power.

Weingberg in 1966: [with nuclear energy] we could in effect solve the energy problem for ever, permanently, which is in a effect a new extraordinary dimension in the human experience - energy which is the ultimate raw material...

Weinberg in 1992: We recognized the risk but we always deemed the risk to be really acceptable. But now I guess I'm more mature, older. I realized the decision that something is acceptable is something we technologists can't make. It is something the public makes.

Curtis: Why do you think it was something you could make then?

Weinberg: You know I guess it never occurred to me to ask this question. The nuclear enterprise had always been... well it started out as a secret enterprise of course. And the notion of the public being intimately involved in very complicated technical issues. Issues that went way beyond the competence of any member of the public. It just didn't seem that was the right way to do it. And i think the basic question is: can modern intrusive technology and liberal democracy coexist?

TOD is certainly evidence that it can! WE are in charge of how WE solve the problems of the world!

- Ransu

TOD is certainly evidence that it can! WE are in charge of how WE solve the problems of the world!

Could you explain what you meant by that? As far as I'm concerned, the primary purpose of these TOD Fukushima threads is entertainment. There is value in having at least a segment of the population properly informed - that's pretty much the function that journalism used to perform before it was displaced by infotainment, so I suppose we could be positive and say that's what we're doing here. But just like the BP Gulf oil disaster there seem to be a lot of posters who think they're actually accomplishing something here, as if the ideas and suggestions are actually contributing to the mitigation effort - which is pure Walter Mitty daydream stuff.

Well bummer - that's pretty much what my pessimist-self told me. And of course you get the screw-battleship solvers here as well. That the nature of internet.

I was perhaps referring more to our democratic ability (we have one?) to 1. be informed 2. to influence others 3. to participate in decision making - post Fukushima.

Now some might consider Fukushima threads as pure infotainment but I've seen many comments which are informative - and many participants acknowledging that the thread has educational value - if you can filter out the noise (I have a pretty good FFT and detector after several years)...

Also we can influence others - we can make them aware of our thoughts and arguments - and of course preferably check the validity of our own.

And finally we can then go out into our respective worlds - and use the influence we have - even make the decisions we need to bring - about a better future.

Now this obviously is where the pessimist-self already screams and rolls on the floor: that all this is futile...

Also there are people here who obviously have an interest in making this about entertainment and public disparagement - rather than public education and participation.

I'm just saying we can make a choice there too.

- Ransu in positive mood

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead

Right on! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC7ANGMy0yo (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts - Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today) Powerful stuff!

As an educator, I have often found it surprising where the ripples go from the stone you throw in the pond. I am always hopeful. I have to be, or there is no point in my existence.

'...and never doubt that a sufficiently competent individual machiavellian can appear to be a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens.' - Carla Fong

Also we can influence others - we can make them aware of our thoughts and arguments - and of course preferably check the validity of our own.

And finally we can then go out into our respective worlds - and use the influence we have - even make the decisions we need to bring - about a better future.

Bright-sided : how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America by Ehrenreich, Barbara.


TOD helped stop the burial of Macondo spill oily wastes in Baldwin County Alabama and spurred the paving about 1/2 a mile of roadway with oily sands. Not exactly Whale Wars, but it is well documented and it did happen. It also made me realize that the Macondo spill is spit compared to the constant flood of petrochemicals, organic pollutants, radioactive substances, toxins, biohazards and pharmaceuticals that flood in the GOM every month off of USA storm runoff. Others learned similar things and all learned of different places with the same type problems. I could be wrong but TOD is a new generation environmentalist board mainly with boomers on it. The focus is science this time, but for man not for money or the individual. For all mankind. Maybe not Rachel Carson but pretty F'in good in this dumb Creole's mind.

Thanks TOD

Edit: And as soon as Feinberg sends me a love letter, I will donate!

That's the kind of beneficial result that journalism can accomplish, so then I'll recognize that this is the function TOD is providing.

spit compared to the constant flood of petrochemicals, organic pollutants

We need a chart someplace.

The people running the nuclear industry back in the 60s and 70s really believed in their technology as a good thing. It was almost a religion to them, and they had faith that the nuclear waste problem would be solved, etc. I remember Bart Withers, the general manager of the trojan Nuclear Plant speaking and I could tell he was a true believer in Nukes.

The problem with belief systems is that these commonly fly in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It may be that Obama is a believer, along with Stewart Brand (has he said anything since the Earthquake?) along with the rest of the pro Nuke lobby.

Engineers and scientists still seem to have this belief that nukes can be made safe and they are probably correct. However, as soon as you add in the profit motives of the corporations, safety goes out the window as corners are cut. This is the way it has been and this is the way it will always be. There is no way around this.

So combine this nuclear powered priesthood and all the lobbying by GE, and its unlikely we will ever get around to a sustainable future powered by non-nuclear alternatives. That is, until a few more Fukushima type accidents requiring the evacuation of New York or Los Angeles put some traction on this faith. New York would be more expedient, since it would affect Wall Street, where most of the decisions to operate these things are made.

I don't know to what extent our political class are believers and to what extent it's just the money.

Article from 2007:

"The atom lobby during the 1990s had a stranglehold on the Clinton administration and now they seem to have the same suffocating grip around the neck of the brightest star in the Democratic field today: Barack Obama.

Barack, for the second quarter in a row, has surpassed the fundraising prowess of Hillary Clinton. To be sure small online donations have propelled the young senator to the top, but so too have his connections to big industry. The Obama campaign, as of late March 2007, has accepted $159,800 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power plant operator.

The Illinois-based company also helped Obama's 2004 senatorial campaign. As Ken Silverstein reported in the November 2006 issue of Harper's, "[Exelon] is Obama's fourth largest patron, having donated a total of $74,350 to his campaigns. During debate on the 2005 energy bill, Obama helped to vote down an amendment that would have killed vast loan guarantees for power-plant operators to develop new energy projects the public will not only pay millions of dollars in loan costs but will risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default.""


That is, until a few more Fukushima type accidents requiring the evacuation of New York or Los Angeles put some traction on this faith. New York would be more expedient, since it would affect Wall Street, where most of the decisions to operate these things are made.

Or Europe =:-o


A nuclear apologist was trying to tell me yesterday that because Tepco isn't reporting strontium and plutonium that its not there. Six hours later the NYT reports that plutonium got scattered all over the site from earlier explosions. Water is being poured on this mess and it is going into the ocean and into the groundwater, most likely. The worst stuff is heavy and sinks; best to let it deposit in weak currents onshore close to the plant where it could sink and deposit, perhaps dammed by the Kuroshio current, than to dilute it by taking it and dumping it offshore to mix with faster currents and tsunami debris. Besides, barging and dumping is not a sustainable process if we have to continue the "spraying with a garden hose" routine into September or next year before attempting a sarcophagus. But then, each day accumulates more and more toxicity, and we are probably at a point where further interventions of any sort are progressing towards unfeasible. The endpoint will be letting it go.

But the biggest danger here is further explosions which will create much stronger releases, now that the spent fuel pool contents and reactor contents/irrigation drainage are spread hither and yon. It is this thought that sent me back to Costco last week.

Given the unstable political situation, the number of countries now moving from export status to import status on fossil fuels, and the certainty of patchy, progressively lengthier blackouts, how many dirty bombs does it take to wipe out most species on earth? How can the nuclear apologists continue to support nukes in the face of this unanswerable question?

Below is a link to a lot of nuclear dirty regulatory laundry. It's a big file, so don't click on it unless you have a fast connection.


Stewart Brand interview regrading Japan

Thanks for that.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s in Pennsylvania, just downwind of Peach Bottom (and later TMI) so we got the nuclear sales spiel pretty heavy when I was a kid. I remember a high school presentation where we were told by 2000 we'd all have a little nuclear box in our basement.
The OP is right on that nuclear was then seen as a clean alternative. Nuclear "waste" was unheard of, and the nuke plants were big and impressive and CLEAN. The GE Mark Is didn't even have cooling towers, compared to the big nasty coal coal plants with the big nasty smoke stacks.
Environmental concerns were just beginning to take hold in the 1960s, and it wasn't just hippies it was mainstream Americans. Everyone in cities hated smog and if they didn't read Rachel Carson they saw that Sicilian guy who played the Indian crying in the TV commercials. Then Nixon signed the EPA into law.
The utilities were planning then to be close to 100 percent nuclear by 2000, and though they knew they'd make a lot of money I think probably most were sincere that they were doing the right thing for the country. They offered incentives to home-builders to throw in electric resistance heating and a little more insulation in the walls and you had a "total electric home" with a little badge. And even the houses were cleaner -- you didn't have that oil burner in the basement. Trouble was, your electric bill soon passed your monthly mortgage payment. Later they added a new box in the basement, the heat pump, to conserve electricity. Meanwhile, costs soared for construction of new reactors -- regulations sure, but also long-term capital costs.
Anyway, thought channels on energy were created, blind faith replaced scientific realities and we wound up here.

My parents got the electric home. No gas. Resistive heater and heap pump. Electric water heater. Electric range.

Zimmer Nuclear Plant was going to be built.

Then nuclear protests killed the plant and nuclear was dead for a long time after.

The electric appliances were replaced with Natural Gas. The heat pump was removed.

Zimmer was converted to a coal plant.

End of Chapter 1.

Chapter 2. We now have Peak oil.

Not going to be a happy ending is it?

"Iron Eyes Cody"
Espera Oscar de Corti

The ad:


Very effective. I Didn't know. Thank you JayByrd.

Just seeing this. Maybe this is old news to this crowd: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=11RJz6KCYjVa6M8urvzO0tYq1SjbgqQwW5zw8nqu...

Maybe someone who knows things can point out all the places where salt is likely to accumulate during the progression the presentation lays out.

Some discussion regarding the faults of this analysis here.

The salt is accumulating mainly on fuel elements (which are generating heat) and elements moving water or with protrusions (core spray nozzles). NRC technical assessment from 5 different sources provides some additional details. For Unit #1:

Damaged fuel that may have slumped to the bottom of the core and fuel in the lower region of the core is likely encased in salt and core flow is severely restricted and likely blocked. The core spray nozzles are likely salted up restricting core spray flow. Injecting fresh water through the feedwater system is cooling the vessel but limited if any flow past the fuel. GE believes that water flow, if not blocked, should be filling the annulus region of the vessel to 2/3 core height. There is likely no water level inside the core barrel. Natural circulation believed impeded by core camage. It is difficult to determine how much cooling is getting to the fuel.

It is kind of nice - always nice to have the pictures, but a little too general about the beginning - the power failure.
1. It gives an answer to a question asked a few days ago - how the emergency cooling works.
2. He says "Power grid in northern japan fails". Yes but. He does not explain how Dai-ini had power on the 12th.
3. Mentions the flooding, as usual, and says flooding of "diesel generators and/or (sic) essential service water building". And/or? Well, he does say that a lot of information is not available.
4. Nice picture of the emergency cooling system. It raises that possibility that if the pipes went out the other side of the reactor, and through the spent fuel pool tank, it might have added a small bit to the emergency cooling capability?
5. Unit 2 pump damaged in the quake?
6. Page 14 15 and 16 are the same except for the water level in the reactor. Took a while to find that.
7. I will have to read the rest, maybe print it out first. Looks pretty good.

I think this plan to inject nitrogen into the containment building is a rather dubious strategy.

Sure, nitrogen blanketing of tanks and vessels is used all the time in the petroleum refining and chemical process industries. But it is one thing to nitrogen blank a single tank, but it is something else again to attempt it on a huge multi-level building, one with multiple rooms and which already has gaping holes in it due to quake damage and previous explosions. As such, I don't see how they are going to be able to get the nitrogen to even begin to be evenly dispersed so as to bring the whole atmosphere within the building down below the lower explosive limit for hydrogen. There will probably be whole areas that remain untouched by the nitrogen injection.

Furthermore, with all those huge openings in the building, I wonder how they will be able to generate nitrogen at a sufficiently flow rate and maintain that flow rate for a sufficiently long period of time to do any good. They would probably have to use many tank car loads of compressed nitrogen. It seems to me that to accomplish nitrogen blanketing for some indefinite time period, they would have to set up a rather large air separation plant on site to achieve the required flow rates of nitrogen. And that takes time, even under normal circumstance. But to do it near a hot zone would be a daunting task.

So unless I'm missing something here, I doubt it's going to work, and appears to me to be an act of desperation being put into effect because they are running out of things to try.

I think they will inject the nitrogen into the reactors themselves, not into the ruined buildings.

The initial attempt will be just to pump nitrogen into the reactor pressure vessel of reactor 1 although that obviously has to be vented somewhere. NHK pointed out there's a small risk that opening and closing certain valves during the sequence could provide a spark that sets off an explosion. Stand well back time.

Undertow -

Well, it would seem to me that if they are only going to be pumping nitrogen into the reactor pressure vessel, then the hydrogen continually generated by the overheated reactor core will have to eventually be vented from the pressure vessel into the containment building. Thus, the containment building will probably again be subject to explosion due to the fact that the pressure vessel is a relatively small fraction of the volume of the containment building and therefore its being blanketed with nitrogen will not likely result in an atmosphere within the containment building proper that is below the lower explosive limit of hydrogen.

I still have a hard time seeing that much will be gained by doing this.

Hydrogen is the nemesis. If a reactor looses cooling again, the core goes hot, and the Zr + H20 starts up. Whoosh, bang. When #3 went off, it did that site some serious damage. I think it started the problems in #4.

Those reactors are higher than the make shift pumps that are feeding them, and those buildings are no go zones. Loss of coolant is easy to imagine, and they can't go in the buildings to fix the plumbing. Yet.

The N2 might work to displace steam, and without steam, no Zr + H20 reaction. That's my guess, and hopefully the make shift cooling can be kept up until they can figure out how to get into those buildings safely and go to the next step.

(edit) Pressurizing the RPV with N2 would force the steam back into liquid, which would reduce the presence of neutron moderator in a damaged core.

If the pipes are damaged then they may not be able to pressurize the vessel enough to force the steam back into water without risking more leaks somewhere. I'm wondering if that's why the pressures are so low in the reactors; the operators don't want to pour more water into them because the pressure increase may open up more leaks somewhere.

#1 is still holding pressure.

So where did all the water come from under Reactor #1's turbine building?

So if they have to pump a very large portion of N2 in to splint the H2 and O2, where does the highly contaminated gas that it replaces go? I noticed that the last few day have had lesser winds flowing southwest; now the winds are picking up and headed back offshore. Models have a bolus headed towards the Aleutians :-{ Did they wait to do this N2 splinting, and how much of a load of isotopes will be released?

Reactor containment buildings 1, 3 and 4 are blown to pieces. TEPCO cut a hole in the side of reactor building 2 and debris from the explosion of reactor building 3 created holes in 2's roof. Holes were cut into reactor buildings 5 and 6. The secondary containment systems on all 6 reactors are breached preventing hydrogen from building up.

The danger of more explosions is from hydrogen building up in the reactor pressure vessels or the drywells.

The different meanings of "containment" may be causing
confusion about the nitrogen purge.

There are 3 systems that "contain" the active fuel.

Outermost is the outer building, mostly blown apart
for Nos. 1, 3, and 4. This is called "Secondary
Containment." I don't think there are plans to purge this
with nitrogen, as it is mostly open to the sky.

Innermost is the thick steel reactor pressure vessel, the RPV.

In between is a bottle-shaped container surrounding the
RPV that is called the drywell (DW) and below the DW
is a round ring called the torus or wetwell. These two connected
steel and concrete structures collectively, the drywell and
wetwell, form an envelope around the RPV and are what is
known as Primary Containment. They have a controllable
vent system to release pressure.

The Primary Containment area is being purged with nitrogen
to reduce explosion risk.

Primary Containment on No. 1 is thought to be intact, for
Nos. 2 and 3, damage is suspected.

There is a sentence in the NRC report:

"RPV injection can be maximized when the containment has
been purged with nitrogen and vented."

The idea is to turn up the water pressure, in order to
cool better, but only after the primary containment has
been vented. Also, don't vent before hooking up the
nitrogen, to reduce explosion risk.

The NRC also recommends not adding water directly to the drywell,
to avoid unnecessary loads on it. Water is flowing from the
RPV to the drywell, presumably through various leaks.

They have flooded the concrete containment structure for at least one of the reactors to help keep it cool; I think it's #1. That was one of the issues the NRC pointed out; if another earthquake hit, the stresses on the containment structure from all that water in it are unknown and could rupture it.

Have y'all been following the MIT blog at http://mitnse.com/. It seems pretty factual and not too much alarmist. Murray

More on the Trojan Nuke Plant, and the industry's faith in itself. I was also arrested then, along with this author.

see http://www.registerguard.com/web/opinion/26067343-47/nuclear-power-plant...

You took one for the anti-nuke crowd? You are my hero, amigo! I am too much of a diplomat but I am one bad news report away from becoming newsworthy myself. God bless you.

Edit: Casey it is time again isn't it? We gotta take this party to the streets.

Edit2: Wrong song, fixed it. That other song was a for a religious post, LOL. From '77 too.

Edit3: Yep it's time:
Take this message to my brother
You will find him everywhere
Wherever people live together
Tied in poverty's despair
You, telling me the things you're gonna do for me
I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see


In our privatized medical system, disease adds to the
Gross Domestic Product. If someone gets sick, they will
pay to live. At this time, with our Homeland's money
worries, cash-flow is a welcome thing.

Think of the radioactive particles drifting from the sky
as a gentle, healing rain of hundred dollar bills. If
someone collects hundreds of thousands of dollars worth,
they will take them to the system and receive great health.
It is their reward for doing what any real patriot would do.

Why reward the shiftless who shirk such noble duty?
Such as those who used to have a day-shift or a night-shift.
We must, sadly, set them free to forage upon their own.

Let us hope this new radiant bounty is enough to turn the tide!

Now you're talking my specialty, Kalimanku. The dysfunctional US healthcare system is maximally utilized now, even though the incentives are for treating the wrong things, in the wrong amounts, for the wrong people. We have no spare capacity for epidemics or plagues of radioactive contamination. Reengineering the system or starting from scratch will take a massive effort, and it will only occur as a result of collapse of the old healthcare system. And treatments for radiation contamination are expensive and mostly supportive, unless you get into the sexy, all out efforts like bone marrow transplants.

Anyone who thinks that healthcare will be available in a disaster in the US should read the article below. Be sure to put on your own oxygen mask first. I really thing that this is a game-changer, a turning point for the world, much as the Chernobyl event was for the Soviet Union. The difference is that this event is not discrete but continuous.



I did not know readiness had declined that badly.

I guess that's an advantage of war, hot or cold. We used to have fallout shelters stocked with everything, radiation meters, siren tests on a regular schedule...

Then the "Time to Warn" went down to 15 minutes or less with the deployment of SLBM's: Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles. So, it was deemed pointless to test the sirens anymore. From there I guess the rest of the nuclear preparedness underpinnings just faded away, unseen.

I agree with you, Iaato: The Fukushima disaster is a turning point at a bad time. Japan is not ripe with cash. Neither is America or much of the rest of the world suffering from the gambling crisis.

China could just buy its historical enemy Japan.
The oil nations can tighten their grip on a weakened addict.
The financial institutions can shine their fixed, rictus smile.

key concept: Katrina

I keep thinking about the dilemma that they face. Pour water on the thing and end up with radioactive water all over the place. Or not put water and let the thing melt. But as time goes by, the decay heat in each reactor goes down, and at some point they may conclude that letting it melt is the lesser of two evils. I suppose once they are sure that the magma won't melt through.

I think they're concerned that if left alone and uncooled, the core material could become completely uncontained as well, either by causing another hydrogen/steam explosion, or melting through the vessel and into the (possibly damaged) concrete containment structure.

The NRC report mentioned they should try and get the nitrogen injection system repaired, but I've been reading that TEPCO is either almost ready or is injecting nitrogen already. Did they fix the system or are they using some makeshift operation?

Update: The NRC analysis has been made available. See the end of the keypost up top.

Referring to reactor 3 or 4 (they aren't sure which)

Fuel particles may have been ejected from the pool (based on information of neutron emitters found up to one mile from the units, and very high dose rate material that had to be bulldozed over between units 3 and 4...)

If the explosion scattered spent fuel rod material around, shouldn't they be finding more than just Pu around the plant if the fuel rod material was thrown out? The Pu amounts they found were very, very small as well; you'd think a fuel rod would have contained all sorts of high radiation isotopes that would be easy to find and detect.

Yes, you would think that.

OTOH, this "confidential" NRC report, dated 3/26, was just "obtained" by the NY Times and revealed in an article published last night. Doesn't look like the PTB intended to share it with us.

Given this and a whole host of other evidence since those reactors scrammed, it is only reasonable to conclude that what "they" report isn't always what's actually happening.

The report is from 3/26?

Rad levels inside drywell given as around 5,000 R/hr for #1 to #3, #4 unknown. A rad = 0.01 Sievert? 50 Sievert/hr inside drywell?

I haven't seen anyone point out that this means some of those "fuel particles" were almost certainly blown into the ocean next to the plants. What would be the effect on the particles sitting on the sea floor and how long would this last? (not an engineer or scientist here, just following this calamity closely for several weeks)

ddM, dumping the highest level nuclear waste into the ocean went on for many years by many countries. Damaged naval reactors, reprocessing waste, etc. There are a few subs down there, too.

What they can't clean up, will get diluted.

What they can't clean up, will get diluted.

After it gets diluted, it gets taken up by phyto/zooplankton, who are eaten by herring, crabs or some other mollusk or crustacean, who then might get eaten by a salmon, who is then eaten by an orca, a seal, a bear, a seagull, an eagle, or a diner in Seattle. Each step up the foodchain bioaccumulates the radionuclides. The body burden of an organism is cumulative, depending on the organ, and accumulates from different sources, and is sometimes dependent on ocean concentrations of the radionuclide, depending on the element.

Cesium is not as important as strontium, plutonium, and other long-lived isotopes. Heavier isotopes sink, as mentioned previously, but perhaps over 20 years? The last paper below will have to be rewritten after this.




After it gets diluted, it gets taken up by phyto/zooplankton

And most probably get burried after this step and turn to oil many years later.

And most probably get burried after this step and turn to oil many years later.

Quite so, Fateth:

“One suspects that the cycle may be closed
and stable, because 95% of all matter draining to
the sea is estimated . . . to be of sedimentary origin
and is again being deposited as sediments. If the 5%
of igneous matter draining to the sea is equaled by
the sedimentary matter incorporated into igneous rock
each year, the cycle will be stabilized and closed,
not only for strontium and calcium, but possibly for
other elements also (p. 408).” Four lines of evidence
are brought to bear on this hypothesis: the balance
of Sr/Ca ratios in inputs and outputs; calculation of
flux rates; identification of a self-regulating mechanism
(basically, biological uptake); and paleochemical
data. . . .

. . . . Odum proposed a number
of hypotheses in these papers as to the cycling mechanisms
that could be understood by examining Sr/Ca
ratios. Among the important ones: the concentration of
strontium is highly correlated with salinity, and many
organisms take up Sr in some proportion to the environmental
Sr/Ca ratios (a point that had been forgotten
until recently “re-discovered” in fisheries science);
Sr/Ca declines with the age of limestones, through a
process referred to as “replacement,” whereby aragonitic
deposits are dissolved, re-crystallize as calcite,
while simultaneously losing Sr into ground water,
which becomes enriched in Sr as a result. On a global
scale, Odum argued that orogenic uplift eventually
mixes Sr-depleted surface waters with Sr-enriched
ground water to produce a more-or-less constant flux
of Sr/Ca into the world’s oceans.


I guess we aren't going to have to worry about strontium-depleted surface waters or closed, stable cycles anymore.

"I guess we aren't going to have to worry about strontium-depleted surface waters or closed, stable cycles anymore."

I shudder to think.

A few years before he died, I participated in a discussion of energy issues to which Tom sometimes contributed. I wish we still had his incredible insight and analytical ability in moments like this.


Yes, or one of several of Jay's variations.

I guess we might as well get real cozy with strontium: here's more from the Wiki link below:

Because strontium is so similar to calcium, it is incorporated in the bone. All four stable isotopes are incorporated, in roughly similar proportions as they are found in nature (please see below). However the actual distribution of the isotopes tends to vary greatly from one geographical location to another. Thus analyzing the bone of an individual can help determine the region it came from. This approach helps to identify the ancient migration patterns as well as the origin of commingled human remains in battlefield burial sites. Strontium thus helps forensic scientists too.
87Sr/86Sr ratios are commonly used to determine the likely provenance areas of sediment in natural systems, especially in marine and fluvial environments. Dasch (1969) showed that surface sediments of Atlantic displayed 87Sr/86Sr ratios that could be regarded as bulk averages of the 87Sr/86Sr ratios of geological terranes from adjacent landmasses.[28] A good example of a fluvial-marine system to which Sr isotope provenance studies have been successfully employed is the River Nile-Mediterranean system,[29] Due to the differing ages of the rocks that constitute the majority of the Blue and White Nile catchment areas of the changing provenance of sediment reaching the River Nile delta and East Mediterranean Sea can be discerned through Sr isotopic studies. Such changes are climatically controlled in the Late Quaternary. . . .

The human body absorbs strontium as if it were calcium. Due to the elements being sufficiently similar chemically, the stable forms of strontium might not pose a significant health threat—in fact, the levels found naturally may actually be beneficial (see below) -- but the radioactive 90Sr can lead to various bone disorders and diseases, including bone cancer. The strontium unit is used in measuring radioactivity from absorbed 90Sr.

I don't understand the radioactive Sr problem; Sr isotopes have a halflife so short (Sr90 30 years, Sr59 50 days) that can be considered instantenious compared to geological timescales.

Good question--natural strontium, not the isotope.

Strontium has four stable, naturally occurring isotopes: 84Sr (0.56%), 86Sr (9.86%), 87Sr (7.0%) and 88Sr (82.58%). Only 87Sr is radiogenic; it is produced by decay from the radioactive alkali metal 87Rb, which has a half-life of 4.88 × 1010 years. Thus, there are two sources of 87Sr in any material: that formed in stars along with 84Sr, 86Sr and 88Sr, as well as that formed by radioactive decay of 87Rb. The ratio 87Sr/86Sr is the parameter typically reported in geologic investigations; ratios in minerals and rocks have values ranging from about 0.7 to greater than 4.0. Because strontium has an atomic radius similar to that of calcium, it readily substitutes for Ca in minerals.


New York Times:
Nuclear Regulatory Commission document:

"The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors were blown “up to one mile from the units,” and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed."

David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer... General Electric reactors:

“I thought they were, not out of the woods, but at least at the edge of the woods,” said Mr. Lochbaum, who was not involved in preparing the document. “This paints a very different picture, and suggests that things are a lot worse. They could still have more damage in a big way if some of these things don’t work out for them.”

It blew the the fuel rods up into the sky.
The pieces scattered over an area of up to three square miles.



The news came out Monday that the radio-actives have been being sampled and analyzed twice a day everyday in Japan. The results, withheld from the people, have only been being disclosed to the IAEA.

"Japan farmers brave radiation to feed livestock"

10,000 animals largely left to fend for themselves since Fukushima.

Dairy farmer Hiroaki Hiruta has returned to feed his cows regularly since his village was evacuated, but rarely has enough time to hand-feed the younger animals.

On Monday "I found five calves dead in their pens, their bodies just skin and bones. They had died from hunger and their bodies had been ravaged by wild animals," the 43-year-old told AFP.

"Their organs were ripped out, their ears chewed off. Ravens had poked their eyes out. I didn't have time to bury them, so I laid out them the best way I could and left them there."

n their haste to flee a government-mandated 20-kilometre (12-mile) exclusion zone, most farmers abandoned their livestock, locked in their sheds and unable to feed themselves.

A few have ignored the ban and returned to feed their animals, the cornerstone of their lives.

Some farmers have reportedly refused to leave the area at all, but their numbers cannot be confirmed as phone lines remain down.

Once the pride of Fukushima prefecture, prized for their marbled beef and rich milk, most of the 10,000 or so cattle in the exclusion zone are feared dead, a local farm official said.

Thousands of pigs, chickens and other livestock probably also died in their cages or pens with no food or water, he added. The luckier ones escaped electric fences into the wild when the power went out.

Hiruta takes the back roads when he returns, hoisting hay onto his truck and heading out to his farm to fill up feed troughs.

"Although we plead with them that their lives are more important we understand how they feel and so can't ask the Self-Defence Forces to forcefully evacuate them."

He says Nahara is a "ghost town", where he sees no one except the occasional worker in a white protective suit driving to or from the plant.

After only a few hours inside the zone, Ikeda's exposure to radiation was measured at five millisieverts -- five times the normal annual level.

TEPCO said Tuesday it had offered "consolation payments" of an initial 20 million yen ($236,000) to 10 municipalities in Fukushima.
(About $12 per person.)


Scads of Fish, swarming to the new Fukushima 'Hot Springs', claiming wondrous healing powers, and a refreshing break from the chilly, chilly seas!

Actually, I'm referring to the block structure in the water right of center, not the oily sheen. Could this be something blown into the water from the reactor 3 explosion? Could it have hit the building in front of reactor 3, causing the square hole in the roof of that building? Could it be a cause of high iodine readings in the ocean?

The picture below from March 12 does not seem to show that structure in the water

Edit, sorry I removed this picture; it was from Daini, not Daiichi. Here is one from Daiichi. I can't tell if that structure is there or not. There is something close to that location, but it is hard to make out of it is the same structure or just light off the water.



Two things are in the water. An object that is square -- rusty metal looking -- a piece of Reactor #3 perhaps.

I bet there are algae blooms all over the iodine and waste heat. Yummy radioactive goodies to eat.

"Seaweed is macroscopic and multicellular marine algae. Types of algae like red algae, green algae and brown algae are also referred as seaweed. However, kelp and its various types are the most iodine rich seaweed types. Seaweed is an invariable part of diet of people belonging to coastal regions like China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru, Belize, Chile, Scandinavia, etc. Seaweed is most commonly included in Japanese food. Seaweed is one of the iodine rich foods. It also contains high levels of calcium and potassium, which is the reason why seaweed benefits us for the treatment of various health conditions like thyroid problems, osteoporosis, cancer, fat loss, reducing the risk of birth defects, relieving from inflammatory diseases, detoxification, stabilize the rate of metabolism, etc. Owing to these various seaweed health benefits, seaweed should be included in your healthy diet. Here are some of the iodine rich seaweed types."

Who knows? But I bet it is a life form in the brownish-reddish goo.

I'm not worried about radioiodine content in the seaweed. I generally buy mine dried, in bags, that have no doubt been on the shelf for some months. Cs substituting for Ca or K is a bit more of a concern, though.

Seaweed is gonna be radioactive for a while in that Area. It was once a great area to get seaweed.

My point is that the algae are drawn to iodine and they may be on to something near that plant.

I am not talking about food though.

That piece is there after the tsunami and before the buildings explode.

Here are some general tsunami Before and After photos.
Everything is just, erased:


These use the slider in the middle of the photo.

Oil. Fuel most likely - from vehicles, boats, storage containers etc. That's pretty common what you see in any dirty harbor these days. You can try it yourself - put a drop of gasoline into the ocean and see how it expands to a layer few atoms in thickness over something like a tennis-court area - makes for pretty colors too.

edit: of course it could be nuclear sludge - or the bath salts they poured there...

Fuel rack? Blown right out the roof and into the water? That would really be something... ;^)

Nuclear is like asbestos :

As long as it doesn't break or burn , it won't hurt you .


...In the late 1970s court documents proved that asbestos industry officials knew of asbestos dangers since the 1930s and had concealed them from the public.[22]...

So what do we think we might know by now±

The situation is getting totally out of control....

1. Re criticality is likely to be happening

2. The radiation levels with over 1 sV are getting to high to get inside plants. This basically means that it is now impossible to get any form of contained cooling going on in plants 1,2 and 3.

3. There are massive releases of nucleotides in the sea, giving nuclear fish

4. 3 plants are allready at INES level 7

5. Plants 5 and 6 now also in trouble

6. Global Fall Out going on for weeks with no end in sight

Allready reaching the USA in full force

It looks like the only option now is the Chernobyl way...
to dig a tunnel under each plant, fill it with concrete to hold the meltdown. And then force a lot of people to cover all the plants with concreet and steel. It took over 500.000 people to bury Chernobyl.

Any positive thoughts from you would be welcome


Edit: removed "the sky is falling" type of comment

I put my chips behind your position Roger. This is a Chernobyl event in the making. Just a little different being seaside and holding much more radioactive materials. Will Japan do it and admit defeat or will they double down and risk a worsening development?
Heck can it be fixed even? Is the site too big to contain?

Only 43 of us will die.
History proves it.
Authority agrees.

Oh... All Right...
The lady in the radiator song:


There is this from today's JAIF report:

"TEPCO evaluated that eating
fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day for a year would add some 25% of the dose that the general pubic receive from the environment for a year."


The big picture; global earthquake activity since 1973 and nuclear power plant locations:


I am surprised that people here don't know this, but hydrogen is being generated all the time via radiolysis. High energy gamma rays are everywhere in fresh spent fuel, even in the months old spent fuel in the spent fuel ponds. Gamma ray, H2O -> H2 + 1/2 O2. You only need a few electron volts to break hydrogen-oxygen bonds, and gamma rays have thousands to millions of electron volts.

That means you have both oxygen and hydrogen generated in the same circuit, a potentially explosive combination if you don't do anything and let it build up. Inerting more with nitrogen is good common sense.

Regarding information on temperatures, pressures and radiation in the environment, before screaming about how the sky is falling, how about actually looking at the data first? Seawater radioactivity measurements, air radioactivity measurements, all there.


You got to be cynic here, aren't you?

I quote some of the data out of http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/ :

"Fuel assemblies stored in Spent Fuel Pool in plant 3: 514"

Ha! have you looked at the damage to plant no 3? There is NO POOL left!
The spend fuel rods were blown into the sky.
You can even see them lying around on the plant if you look at the detailed pictures. But hey, what do you know, TEPCO is conducting "Continued water spray and injection" at the "pool"of plant 3.

"Pressure / Temperature of the Reactor Pressure Vessel in plant 2: Unknown / Stable." and in plant 3: "Unknown".

Well, unknown is stable too, isn't it?

And my absolute favorite one:
"Plutonium was detected from the soil of the Fukushima Dai-ichi. The amount of Pu is so small that there is no harm to human body."



You're a nutter.

If spent fuel rods were scattered allover the site every worker within viewing distance would be dead by now due to direct gamma shine, the flux would be so intense, let alone inhaled radionuclide's.

Go put your tin foil hat back on. I suppose you also believed the macondo wellhead was blown out the hole as well and was scattered allover the seabed.

Thanks for playing.

It was the NRC who have claimed that portions of the fuel rods have been ejected up to a mile.

The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors were blown “up to one mile from the units,” and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed.

(just click on Roger's link above, eh?)

Enough with the namecalling already.

"When you point your finger cos your plan fell through. You got three more fingers, pointing back at you.." Dire Straits.. dire, indeed. 'Solid Rock'

LOL. We do not need to call each other names now. There is ample data to say your position is soft. The lid blew off of Reaction #3 about 300-400 feet in the air and the fuel ponds are exposed according to two sources now: NRC and Fairewinds Assoc. Inc.

You need to find evidence to the contrary that the spent fuel pool is fully secure and no leaks or fuel have escaped the local site.

hydrogen is being generated all the time via radiolysis

That is true, and the NRC assessment has this:

Hydrogen gas production is more prevalent in salt water than in fresh water. Oxygen from the injected seawater may come out of solution and create a hazardous atmosphere inside primary containment. The radiolysis of water will generate additional oxygen. Maintain venting capability.

Seawater bites again.

Although, it is clear in said assessment that the NRC believes the fuel is piled on the vessel floor, and that the Zr-water reaction has, at some point, produced hydrogen. Whether the temperatures are sufficient for this anymore is uncertain. In any case, if there were another explosion, it wouldn't matter much where the hydrogen came from.

So how does this work under normal operation? Reactors make gamma radiation under normal operation and therefore, according to what you say, create hydrogen and oxygen gas that I assume is in solution with the freshwater in the primary loop. What happens to that gas during normal operation? Is there some apparatus that extracts it?

In normal operation, most H2 and O created by radiolysis recombine into water. In addition, there is an off-gas system to remove whatever does not. Sometimes H is actually ADDED to the mix to scavenge some O and control the chemistry. There have been a couple of H combustion events, described in this link, where things didn't work properly:


The real risk of H buildup is when cooling fails and temperature gets too hot. See wiki on light water reactors, here is a quote:

During this "decay heat" post shutdown period the reactor requires water pumped cooling or the reactor will overheat to above 2200 degrees Celsius where upon the heat separates the cooling water in to its constituent parts Hydrogen and Oxygen which can cause hydrogen explosions, threatening structural damage or even the possible exposure of highly radioactive stored fuel rods stored ready for use in surrounding nuclear storage pools(approx 15 tons of fuel is replenished each year to maintain normal PWR operation). This decay heat is the major risk factor in LWR safety record.



Edit: Second Coming yet?

Edit: Maybe not second coming but Corium no?

That somewhat matches this headline found on breakingnews.com (but no link for it yet)

TEPCO estimates 70% of fuel rods in the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima nuke plant have been damaged, 20-30% in Nos. 2 and 3

Daily Yomiuri

Does the 400 & 548 correspond to known fuel load profiles?

The reactors were of different sizes, gradually getting bigger.
Reactor 1 was the smallest, about 500MWatts, 2 and 3 were about 750MWatts.
So the numbers may reflect # of fuel assemblies in the core.

I believe the different number is due to 1 being a BWR/3 and 2-3 being BWR/4s.

It is the number of Fuel assemblies loaded in Core of each plant.

How did they calculate the amount 'melted'? Interesting.

Guesswork based on a computer model and estimates of conditions during the accident as best anyone can make out. Margin of error? Large.

Margin of hidden and unknown, larger still. Since I said interesting and interested replied, I say hot girls.

This is hardly new news; I remember seeing the JAIF charts showing Reactor 1 with 77% core damage and Reactor 2 with about 30% core damage. The % damage on Reactor 3 is new though, but no one is disputing that all three reactors suffered some partial melting.

The number on the top is the reactor number 1,2,3
The number on the left is how much the fuel is currently exposed. 1.65m for 1, 1.5m for 2 and 1.8m for 3.
The bottom number is the reactor temp 214c for 1, 142.5 for 2 and 78.8 for 3
The red number is how much of the fuel has melted. 70% for 1, 30% for 2 and 25% for 3. The first character means the numbers are approximate.
The black number above the fuel rods is the number of rods in each core.

Thanks sir or ma'am. So is this corium or not? 70%-25% corium?

It says nothing about the state of the damaged fuel.

I forgot one thing. The first reactor is under high pressure. I think that's what the darker red color means as well.

It says nothing about the state of the damaged fuel.
Can the fuel 'melt' and not make corium?

Fuel is normally kept cooled by a mixture of water and steam.
When the water is removed, the cladding that holds the fuel together as a long rod rapidly corrodes into chunks. This allows the actual fuel, which is composed of individual pellets, to fall away and collect at the bottom of the reactor.
If there is no water left there, possibly because the earthquake caused the seals on the control rods that are inserted from below to rupture, that fuel can heat up enough to melt.
It will not explode, mostly because it is quite modestly enriched and needs to be arranged quite carefully even to generate the reactor heat plus it needs water to slow down the neutrons generated enough to fission other uranium atoms rather than zipping into the surrounding containment.
Still, the red hot molten uranium fuel could melt through the reactor pressure vessels and drops into the containment dry well. If that space is filled with water, there would be a disastrous steam explosion, spreading the fuel and bits of containment widely. So there is some urgency to drain the reactor area, as the reactors are not in stable condition.
Apart from that risk, the real worry is that the site is getting gradually more radioactive, from the leaks of very contaminated water, coming from the reactors and the spent fuel pools.
The radiation will continue for years, spreading out to the ocean through the ground water even if the site is concreted over. So the essential is to reduce the amount of radioactive material at the site while that is still possible. It will limit the damage if the site becomes inaccessible to humans.

When the water is removed, the cladding that holds the fuel together as a long rod rapidly corrodes into chunks. This allows the actual fuel, which is composed of individual pellets, to fall away and collect at the bottom of the reactor.
Thanks for the description. I always mentally pictured molten steel that was also 'hot' in the radioactive sense. If this is as you say, how did 30%-75% of 'uncladded' pellets remain in a nice vertical fuel rod shape? From what you describe, I lose the zirconium cladding and frame to release the bottom layer of individual fuel pellets, what is to prevent the rest of the stack falling into the puddle or collection of pellets, The Force?

The damage occurs from the top down as the water level drops. The tops of the fuel rods overheat first and the pellets inside fall away after the zircaloy oxidizes.

Thanks, I thought about that later. Still, I wonder how long a partially damaged fuel rod can maintain structural integrity? Are the percentages given really a Corium percent estimate?

Sorry, my sloppy translation. I shouldn't have written melted. It says damaged.

Are you a sir or a ma'am? Thanks so much for your help.

I still don't know why this has to be a nukes versus no nukes debate. I doubt that anyone here favors malignant climate change, no more than some favor radiation-induced malignancy. Radiation is not benign, and it is possible to plan for relatively non-harmful nuclear power. Why downplay the risks in the interest of rhetoric?

I think this society has become addicted to political warfare, not a great inducement to rational planning.

The amount of money at stake can become a poison.

These are Asians we are dealing with now. It is going to get ugly IMHO. Them nice little fellas got fed after midnight and got all wet. So far the press and government have done a great job suppressing the small amount of protesting going on but folks are rebuilding and surviving. Been there done that. The Japanese government has already said that Kyoto 2 or whatever and nuke power is still on. Dad told me the hills near Tokyo were filled with heavy smoke for all through the 50's from all the war debris being burned. I could be wrong but the way this Asian man sees it, Japanese nuclear anything is done and the Hiroshima Anti-Nuke Museum gets a new huge wing. I say it will be like this by July. Yeah my sample is my Korean kin, but they are so alike sometimes it is sick. Maybe English and Scottish/Irish type parallel.

Edit: How do you think they first got big water on the cores? Water cannon. Who had the cannons, Tokyo Fire or Tokyo Police?

The reactors are not the biggest problem.
Admittedly they are seriously damaged, their fuel is partly melted and may have melted down, but they are in a fairly substantial containment that will mitigate the damage caused by their demise, even if cracked.
There is no such containment for the spent fuel pools, so any events there are shared with the environment immediately.
Moreover, given the long half life of cesium 137 in particular, plus recognizing that the used fuel is especially enriched in this volatile nuclear contaminant, plus noting that the spent fuel pools contain the bulk of the fuel on this site, we have as yet seen but a glimmer of this disaster.

The continued reliance on TEPCO to manage this catastrophe is unconscionable. They are entirely out of their depths and their desultory efforts are only wasting time. Japan has very large and very capable construction companies that should be immediately drafted to start work on the site, expense be damned. But they have not been called on, no contract or jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, the window to clean up the site by removing at least the older nuclear fuel is closing, as the site gets dirtier.
Needing to negotiate the use of a float when Japan may get a sterilized heartland as a consequence reflects the complete refusal by both the political as well as the commercial leadership to recognize the gravity of the problem. The absence of any leadership or useful support from the US simply worsens the situation, because it legitimizes delay.
We all will pay a price for these failures, but Japan will suffer a radioactive burn for centuries.

High values ​​of cesium in soil test
"By analyzing the soil of farmland were taken at 70 locations in Fukushima prefecture, radioactive cesium was detected in the soil contained 150 times the normal concentration in most cases."


units in Bq/kg

【3-13】(About30kmNorthWest of Fukushima plant) 2011/4/4 10:50 I-131=157,730 Cs 137=98,551 uSv=32.7


Lots of scary numbers here.
About 5 km SouthWest of Fukushima plant)Ookuma Town Island Soil Soil 2011/3/31 13:00 I-131=423,000 Cs-137=98,100
As no one has commented on this yet, I guess that no one here knows that 500 Bq/kg is the max for safe food. That means that the food and dirt and dust and water 30Km from the plant is dangerous.
This disaster is not as bad as Chernobyl according to an IAEA official. Why not? He said because the Japanese evacuated the people around the plant earlier then the Russians did. He never said the contamination was not as bad.

500 Bq/kg in the food or 50 Bq/kg in the soil? And how does one measure soil contamination in Bq/kg anyway?

How does one Bq/kg of soil compares to one Ci/km^2?

I think somebody is hiding the truth behing porposely ununseful data.

I'll add to your good points, Marcos, did you notice that they switched from m^3 to cm^3 when the readings got particularly bad? And that their preference has been to report relative amounts rather than absolute--7.5 million times background, for instance. This is a bit deceptive, as isotope accumulation is cumulative. What gets deposited is added to day after day. People who are evacuated now are not going back, ever (also deceptive suggestions of having to leave for "months"). And people who haven't evacuated yet may have to in the future as winds switch and this thing continues to send out its gifts into the atmosphere. Absolute numbers would allow comparisons to Chernobyl that are not at all comforting, which would then create demands to evacuate larger zones with much larger cities (3 million people within 100 km?).


I'd like to steal a little of your attention and point you to http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Essay:Arguments_against_nuclear_power. A long article was created at Rationalwiki by a single user (who now appears to have lost interest) about why every argument against nuclear power is wrong because hippies. That was deemed unacceptable so the article was moved to essay space until it was fixed, but not enough progress has been made since. Any edits to make the article less biased would be welcome. RW is not a super serious place but the more facts, references, images, and numbers the better.

I am curious about the NEW or practiaclly new fuel rods in the spent fuel pool of reactor 4. It's my understanding that the used fuel rods from all the pools could be safely put into dry casks in about 5 years. How long will it take for the new rods to cool down? Same amount of time? 100yrs? or would you have to find a way to reprocess those particular rods?

The amount of medium-lived radioisotopes (HL years to decades) is roughly proportional to the total energy release, so the newer fuel bundles won't be as hot; they're starting with a smaller amount of "nuclear ash".

Oh yea. Right.

When I was 13 in 1961, I wanted to be a nuclear physicist - By college I majored in mathematics. When I noticed all the lies about the Vietnam war and agent orange and many other things I also changed my mind about nuclear power. It's stupid to boil water using nuclear fission. Windscale, Khystem, TMI, Chernobyl, and now Fukushima. Even in France, there have been many close calls and thousands of incidents of lesser damage. Nothing can be made foolproof as fools are so ingenious.
There is the background radiation that was changed by open air atom bomb fallout not to mention the people whose health was damaged. I wonder does the power of the nuclear industry come from its association with the bomb. In the US, Britain, France, etc its connection to the military industrial complexes make it more powerful.
Of course the engineers can fix things so a Fukushima doesn't happen. It's exactly right that Fukushima is not the same as Chernobyl. or TMI or whatever are the different causes for the next catastrophe. What insurance premiums would you have wanted to charge TEPCO for unlimited liability in case of an accident? Nobody in the insurance business with their risk models and actuaries could figure it out.
While many of the plants don't have to worry about a Tsunami, what about this? From Wikipedia:
The Tunguska event, or Tunguska explosion, was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, at about 7:14 a.m. KRAT (0:14 UT) on June 30 [O.S. June 17], 1908. Estimates of the energy of the blast range from 5 to as high as 30 megatons of TNT (21–130 PJ),[6][7] with 10–15 megatons of TNT (42–63 PJ) the most likely[7]—roughly equal to the United States' Castle Bravo thermonuclear bomb tested on March 1, 1954, about 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and about one-third the power of the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated.[8] The explosion knocked over an estimated 80 million trees covering 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mi). It is estimated that the shock wave from the blast would have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale. An explosion of this magnitude is capable of destroying a large metropolitan area.[9
This could happen anywhere near any nuclear plant, and it could happen anytime to any nuclear plant but probably won't. However...
Israel and the United States have already talked about bombing Iran's nuclear complexes (probably using nuclear bunker busters. Just forget about it. Form some little clubs and bitch about us scaredy cats who didn't let nuclear power give us electricity too cheap to meter. Let's figure out to make the rich and powerful change their lifestyles. I know I can change mine.

It seems there is a lot of contention about whether nuclear or coal is worse; I would like to propose a thought experiment to solve this riddle.

First, there are currently 50,000 coal plants worldwide. There are a bit over 400 nuclear reactors. Only counting Chernobyl and Fukushima, there have been 2 major accidents. Now, Fukushima has 4 reactors that are effectively destroyed, but we'll just count the whole thing as 1 for this. That leads to an accident rate of 0.5% - 2 of 400. I don't bother to count 2 mile island, as in comparison it's a minor accident. Assuming (I think quite safely) that this is the catastrophic accident rate with nuclear, now scale it up:

If we had just 10x as many nuclear reactors, that's 4000, and we would likely have 20 catastrophic accidents. Would none of those affect major population centers? Fukushima had not affected Tokyo severely so far only due to favorable winds. On top of that, each accident on this scale leads to a worldwide spread of contamination on a small scale - but multiply that by just 10, an there would start to be serious health effects, especially in areas of concentration. Add to that exclusion zones on a finite planet - I don't think we can afford to lose, for the rest of human history, that much land and poison our food supply to that extent. Now multiply small releases, minor accidents, and waste. Cancer, birth defects, etc - not a lot different from coal's mercury, cancer, and emphysema.

Now imagine 40,000 nuclear reactors.

Could you seriously contend that nuclear used on the scale coal is used today would be "safer"? I think it's clear the death count and environmental damage would easily match (probably surpass) coal and other fossil sources. Global warming is an existential threat, but it is caused by using fossil fuels for EVERYTHING for the past 100 years or so while the planet's population of humans has increased exponentially. Imagine the carnage if nuclear had been used the same way. If there were only around 400 coal plants and we had been using nuclear, we would be saying that coal is safer, that almost no deaths could be traced to coal power, and that we should replace nuclear with coal.

Coal extraction has been and is a very damaging and often deadly business.
Plus the dispersal of heavy metals, especially mercury, from coal plants has polluted large swaths of the US forever. We are not aware of it directly, but pay the price in the damage it does to neural development in children.
A full accounting of the costs of coal might make nuclear look good.
Do note the US gets about 20% of its baseload power from nuclear, France well over 70%, so there is surely no need for 40,000 reactors. A tenth that number would be more realistic.
That said, this accident may force us to curtail large nuclear plants, simply because the failures are so dreadful when they occur.

there are currently 50,000 coal plants worldwide. There are a bit over 400 nuclear reactors

The average nuclear plant is a lot bigger than the average coal plant.  There are economies of scale involved.  If the average of all electric power world-wide was supplied by modern NPPs, there would be fewer than 2000 of them.

Only counting Chernobyl and Fukushima, there have been 2 major accidents.

If you look at the ones long enough ago to be significant (Chernobyl and TMI), neither has been repeated.

If we had just 10x as many nuclear reactors, that's 4000, and we would likely have 20 catastrophic accidents.

No, not at all.  Even if we'd built lots of the same design, after one major incident the systems and operation of the rest would be changed to avoid it.  This is how the FAA keeps air travel so safe:  every accident is investigated by the NTSB, and things are changed to prevent incidents from being repeated due to the same factors.

Could you seriously contend that nuclear used on the scale coal is used today would be "safer"?

In a word, yes.  But not for the reasons you probably think.

NPPs up through the second generation are large, complex affairs:  lots of heavy steel forgings, lots of pumps and so forth.  Gen III reactors have been simplified to make them safer and less expensive, but they are still light-water reactors and they still need heavy forgings to contain big loads of very hot water under high pressure.  That's okay for a few hundred over 40 years, but what if we tried to replace coal in a hurry?

If we were going to build 10,000 (somewhat smaller than current) NPPs to replace coal, a lot of things that aren't possible today become feasible.  Reconsidering some of the decisions of the past (like avoiding LMFBRs and MSRs) is possible because a successful program would produce the sales revenues to pay for the development expenses.  An effort to develop a 300 MWe molten-salt reactor would look pretty good.

Suppose that the Daiichi site had replaced its 6 BWRs with 1 or 2 S-PRISMs (a fast-spectrum reactor design) to burn the spent fuel from the BWRs, and another 10-12 LFTRs for power production.  Neither needs more than passive cooling in a shutdown, so no diesel generators and no consequences from losing grid power.  Then you hit the site with a 9.0 quake and tsunami.  What happens?

So far as I can tell, not much.  The wave trashes the town but the reactors, already shut down before it hits, just sit there.  The S-PRISM design has seismic isolation incorporated in the building, and doing the same for LFTR wouldn't be at all difficult.  The reactors air-cool through chimneys.  It would be a big non-event.

Compared to the people who die every day from mining coal, breathing the effluent or being swept away by floods of coal ash when the landfills burst their banks, the Gen IV nuclear option would be a no-brainer.

If there were only around 400 coal plants and we had been using nuclear, we would be saying that coal is safer

No we wouldn't.  Just the deaths from coal mining, and the nasty stack emissions, would debunk that claim.

Gen III reactors have been simplified to make them safer and less expensive,

The paper reviews the history and the economics of the French PWR program, which is arguably the most successful nuclear-scale up experience in an industrialized country. Key to this success was a unique institutional framework that allowed for centralized decision making, a high degree of standardization, and regulatory stability, epitomized by comparatively short reactor construction times.
Drawing on largely unknown public records, the paper reveals for the first time both absolute as well as yearly and specific reactor costs and their evolution over time. Its most significant finding is that even this most successful nuclear scale-up was characterized by a substantial escalation of real-term construction costs. Conversely, operating costs have remained remarkably flat, despite lowered load factors resulting from the need for load modulation in a system where base-load nuclear power plants supply three quarters of electricity.
The French nuclear case illustrates the perils of the assumption of robust learning effects resulting in lowered costs over time in the scale-up of large-scale, complex new energy supply technologies. The uncertainties in anticipated learning effects of new technologies might be much larger that often assumed, including also cases of “negative learning” in which specific costs increase rather than decrease with accumulated experience. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=22956448

Your response perfectly encapsulates the hubris of the nuclear faction.

First of all, your arguments are based on fiction rather than reality. You claim that it can't happen again - a few months ago, only a few people were saying that BWRs had fatal design flaws and could lead to Chernobyl level disasters. Reality is the ultimate test, and you are assuming theoretical failure rates. Your mention of airplain accidents is very instructive in this case, only you fail to see how - despite the FAA's actions, complete failures still occur and airplanes still crash killing all aboard. You mention that Chernobyl hasn't been repeated - no, instead we have a very different accident. Failures don't always happen the same way every time. You point to 3rd generation + nuclear reactors, which don't even exist yet - no S-PRISM or molten salt reactor is operating, anywhere in the world - one molten salt experimental reactor was built, but it was never followed up on. They are vaporware.

Especially beautiful is how you erase Fukushima, the current crisis, which is occuring with western reactors that were supposedly failsafe, from the argument.

As for coal plants, if the coal industry only had a few, they would say "we have scrubbers on our smokestacks, and look at the destruction and death from mining uranium!" Do you really think no uranium miners die on the job? If coal was an incipient technology, we'd still be mining the easy to get stuff and there would almost certainly be fewer fatal accidents in mines. 400 coal plants worldwide would cause very few deaths. 400 nuclear reactors haven't been all that bad - but scale it up and it's not pretty.

Basically, you're saying "it can't ever happen again". Even NASA was humble enough to admit that the space shuttle would fail every so often after the Challenger disaster. After Fukushima, it's time that nuclear proponents admit that every so often, a reactor will fail catastrophically. However, to admit this is to admit that nuclear is dirty and dangerous, which is the one thing they can't bring themselves to say.

Thanks for that.

It is truly remarkable that the proponents, true-believers and shills for the nuclear industry have so enmeshed their very identities with advocacy and defense of this failed technology that they have glibly written off Chernobyl and seem barely to notice the ongoing deterioration of the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi (note, below, that the NRC thinks corium has melted through the RPV--or a seal, fitting, etc.--at unit 2).

While we watch a chunk of Japan edge closer to uninhabitable, and as unknown-but-vast quantities of radionuclides gush and trickle into the Pacific, proponents have briefly interrupted their "no worries, mate" chant to indulge in a little shop talk about imaginary machines.

It may provide some insight to remember that, the first time our best and brightest were interested in a molten salt reactor it was because... they wanted to use it to power a long-range bomber.

I think cold showers are, yet again, in order.

First of all, your arguments are based on fiction rather than reality. You claim that it can't happen again - a few months ago, only a few people were saying that BWRs had fatal design flaws and could lead to Chernobyl level disasters. Reality is the ultimate test, and you are assuming theoretical failure rates. Your mention of airplain accidents is very instructive in this case, only you fail to see how - despite the FAA's actions, complete failures still occur and airplanes still crash killing all aboard. You mention that Chernobyl hasn't been repeated - no, instead we have a very different accident. Failures don't always happen the same way every time. You point to 3rd generation + nuclear reactors, which don't even exist yet - no S-PRISM or molten salt reactor is operating, anywhere in the world - one molten salt experimental reactor was built, but it was never followed up on. They are vaporware.

No molten salt reactors operating anywhere in the world? Really? There is the BN-600 reactor which has been going since 1980 and has obtained a 10 year extension. Its capacity factor has been over 70% for the last 40 years and nothing like the French disaster known as Superphenix which was politically sabotaged at various stages giving it a capacity factor of about 30% before being killed off by the Green Party as part of the governing coalition. Right now the BN-800 is under construction and will be completed by 2013. Full commercialization will start by 2024 with the BN-1200.

Actually lead cooled designs are superior in terms of safety. The BREST-300 has been funded for construction. Its commercial variant the BREST-1200 is not significantly different and "vapor ware".

Sodium-cooled fast reactors are not the same thing as molten salt reactors. AFAIK only two molten salt reactors have ever operated: the HTRE-1/2/3 and the MSRE.

400 coal plants worldwide would cause very few deaths. 400 nuclear reactors haven't been all that bad

Did you just read what he said?

50000 coal plants = 1200 nuclear reactors
400 coal plants =~ 10 nuclear power plants1

I don't feel, compared to the current electricity mix, that one INES 7 per 25 years is the worst of our worries. Depending of what INES 7 imply: For me, Chernobyl was worst because it was onshore and resulted in much more land contamination with much more type and quantity of radionucleides. Furthermore, the response was mediocre back in the time.

True, renewables have less problems, but I fear they may solve less too.

Nuclear will take time to scale, along with renewables, we'll have to the time needed to asses the risk/benefits of each.

1 http://www.iea.org/stats/electricitydata.asp?COUNTRY_CODE=29

after one major incident, the operation of the rest would be changed to avoid it.
It would be nice if we didn't have to go through the one major incident.

"Even if we'd built lots of the same design, after one major incident the systems and operation of the rest would be changed to avoid it. This is how the FAA keeps air travel so safe..."

There I'll have to disagree. That could happen if nuclear industry regulations were as transparent and efectvie as aviation. The fact is that it isn't. More likel, after a huge accident all consequences would be hidden, and plants would be required to do the minimum spending necessary to fool the public into thinking they are secure.

We need a transparent regulation of the (worldwide) nuclear industry.

Let's expand that to the worldwide power generation industry and you've got a supporter for it.

Ok I have been here before during the BP thang and I see many of you are also riding the TOD saddle.

I few things for thought:

TEPCO is a public utility; generally they operate, they don't construct.

TEPCO has hired 5 Japanese contractors to help with this problem and most of the work that is taking place is demo and removal of damaged structure. Where the earthwork is taking place "pads" are being constructed that allow for quicker access to increase productivity. The "pads" do cover both quake/tsunami and/or radioactive materials because there is no place to put anything right now.

THESE plants will not be recommissioned and that was noted when GE said they would help the Japanese stablize 2 reactors.

The oil sheen seen in some photos. Come on guys there is 250 miles of oil sheen along the Northern Japanese coast right now. They have lost 6 refinries.These people have nuclear power plants, hydro elctric power plant and......fuel fired power plants. There is oil in the water and power problems for the Japanese people.

Nitrogen injection: Nitrogen is 3% lighter than air hence TEPCO is attempting to lay a nitrogen blanket over the reactor and its building in order to lift the Hydrogen which is better than 8% lighter than air.
This is in preparation for entry and construction (using flame).enough said.

Now the robots.....2 countries have robots that can take the radiation and Japan isn't one of them.The USA sent 2 track vehicles on the week of March the 21st. Radiation eat chips. Those robots will be junk after their use because they will be way "hot" but attempts are being made. Also these robots that can take the rads aren't able to crawl across debris. Only JPL has anywhere close to that capability and that isn't practical because of communiction issues.

that what I'm say'n
For all you spelling and grammar critics.........sorry for your pain.

TEPCO is a public utility, as noted. That is exactly the problem.
They are entirely at sea when it comes to managing a nuclear disaster, as they have demonstrated previously. However, they did lie about that one as long as they could and then some managers resigned.
Leaving their inbred and penny pinching management in charge of Japan's biggest postwar crisis is compounding the disaster.
They have no idea what to do and waste time while the situation gradually deteriorates.
This is a world scale problem and the D team is in charge.
The prognosis is correspondingly poor.

The oil sheen seen in some photos. Come on guys there is 250 miles of oil sheen along the Northern Japanese coast right now. They have lost 6 refinries.These people have nuclear power plants, hydro elctric power plant and......fuel fired power plants. There is oil in the water and power problems for the Japanese people.

Not to mention damage to the fuel tanks on site.


The report from NRC is pretty clear why they are using the nitrogen in Unit #1, to restore the inert environment within the primary containment structure. If fuel has leaked out of the reactor pressure vessel, as some have speculated, this is a pretty good idea. Under normal operating circumstances, this is a pretty good idea. So this is what we want more of in this disaster response ... good ideas. Where do you get the idea that they are trying to establish a nitrogen blanket to lift off hydrogen gas from the site (so that decommissioning work can begin)? And where might all this hydrogen filling up the site be coming from?

sorry if i jump in with a question that totally is not in the right place, but all of you ppl seem really smart.
After reading pretty much of all that you fantastic ppl wrought here, it just makes me thing what would happen if ...
the planet would go on a nuclear power refusal by not paying there electric bill, till Fukushima is resolved(stable) and no more nuclear power is used ?
(tepco is dragging there feet and it looks worse then chernobyl)
dont u think that all nations would resolve the problem much faster ?
by being forced to economical disaster?

if europa has the cash to support portugal, greece, ireland, and some country's to come, dont u think the world could withstand like a year or two with out getting paid for electricity ? TO FORCE SOME common sens in to the governments heads around the world?

this place is so full of information thanx to every one that helped me to understand and deal with my fears.
t h a n k y o u a l l

i kinda know i am dreaming but what happened to power to the ppl?
we see it can be done in many middle eastern country's right now!

Nuclear energy was termed a 'Faustian bargain' by one of the nuclear pioneers.
Thus far, people have not risen up against it, despite the risks, partly because the alternatives all have drawbacks of their own and partly because it is a key element in our social fabric.
To illustrate, reportedly the other Fukushima nuclear plant, Dai Ni, is expected to be restored to operations soon to help ease the crisis caused by the power shortage.

the planet would go on a nuclear power refusal by not paying there electric bill
Loved your possible Google translate writing. Many people that write here are saying the price for nuclear power is much more than dollars can pay and there is no avoiding the bill. What you need to do is study for a post oil world. Keep coming here and stay informed. Maybe it is not all written.
Another child of Abraham.

honestly i am here at the oil drum for about 10 hours reading on fukushima.
Not paying for my electric bill was just common sense.
i am sure that other ppl had the same thought though.(i did not google it till u mentioned it, thank you :)

if i would know some electric power company would burn lets say new born babys or handicapt ppl or lets go so fare and say a minorety would u not say this is wrong ?
is fukushima or had chernobyl not bin doing the same thing ?
In a long run are we not living on ppl that we kill in the future ?
Back then we enslaved afrikans or made china opium addicted just so we could live in prosperity?
i think we need to rethink the world we live in and i really like the way BILL MC KIBBEN in the book EAARTH put it.
Small self sustained community i think that is the future:)

If you think that is the best course of action, go for it. Just buy some candles too. This Alabama Creole thinks that a more secular Middle East is more conducive to a nuclear weapon and nuclear power free zone, but what do I know? I found out just this week Louisiana had a 30 meters above sea level reactor within 320 kilometers of my location. The current democracy movements happening there can only help 'the cause.' I fought with Muslim against Muslim in The First Gulf War. To be honest, I personally prefer not to rile you up too much. I am not familiar enough with your culture to even try.

well i am a person that pretty much loves every one :)
i am pretty wealthy but still lives in a 30 square meter apartment.
I drive a smart cdi but i try do do most of my errends with my Bicycle.
i try to buy food and other things that dont stress the environment to much.
so u see i think of the unborn ppl that i could kill in the future.
I hope i dont kill to many, but sadly, i know there will be many that have to suffer for me still being here sadly, but i am not a angel :(
i still fly some times around the world and i still pay taxes that supports death in the future.

i still pay taxes that supports death in the future.
If you live in an oil rich state and are supported by hydrocarbons, you need to be given an award. You prove that we are all just in 'the Matrix' anyhow. You know that Keanu Reeves, Neo movie.
I for one really hope you come back here and post again.

thank u i feel humbled by u words:)
i live in germany

My bad. I saw the middle east reference and I thought I was going to get you beat down by the police or worse. Oh German, no problem. Start working on composting toilet, heating and cooking. Push solar panels. Maybe some LED bulbs. Support Merkle.

Andere Länder, andere Sitten.

On that logic, your electric power comes by the death of coal miners and your computer drips with the blood of the copper miners who dug out the ore, just like your wind power comes courtesy of a massive environmental catastrophe in China from the ore extraction and refining. It's hard to live a simple and safe life.
In a small and self contained community, you live by the slaughter of your animals and their labor. Lots of cripples, because making simple tools and using them is dangerous and very unforgiving.
Be very careful of what you wish for, it may be more than you expect.

I still think nuclear can be a blessing, considering the alternatives, but am becoming deeply skeptical of the current management framework.
There does not appear to be any country that has achieved a clean record in nuclear management, at least in Europe, thinking of Windscale and Sellafield in the UK, Marcoule in France or Asse in Germany.
A new concept focusing the effort on sustained reliability is needed.
It is possible to do this, the semiconductor industry demonstrates superb process quality control daily, so the nuclear industry could too.
Are there any insights on how this example is structured or how to apply this to the nuclear worlds?

"am becoming deeply skeptical of the current management framework"

Thanks for your open-mindedness on this.

We can't escape the fact that these things have to be run and overseen by human institutions, and these will always be subject to greed, corruption, incompetence, ignorance, laziness, shortsightedness, arrogance...all the foibles that plague our benighted race.

And please keep in mind that Germany and France have engaged in horrific wars against each other every 30-60 years or so for centuries. There is no guarantee that they will not do so again, particularly as the great unraveling really gets underway.

You've forgotten to mention the free-market paradigm ensures companies with these management foibles compete with each other. The end result is the most profitable foibles result in the most successful companies and the least profitable go out of business. Companies with a shrewd competitive instinct watch the foibles of other companies and add a newly improved version of the foible to their own company.

France has not solved the nuclear waste problem: In 2002, France stored 978,000 cubic meters of waste. In 2020, the annual amount is expected to be 1.9 million cubic meters. - Denis Du Bois
According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Jul 1994 "Any report of French expertise in waste disposal should be taken with a grain of salt - no independent body is monitoring waste disposal activities."

It would be best to start with a small, reasonably achievable goal to begin a base of support. And work very hard to achieve this single goal. People enjoy success and success with this first goal should be celebrated and will further grow base. Then a 2nd, slightly more difficult goal, should be pursued in like manner. With intelligent planning and a focused path and the patient pursuit of goals of increasing difficulty, the path very well may turn into a highway.

This is how Egypt's protesters waged their battles against opposition supported by the status quo.

While the techno-faithful have been discussing which flavor of fusion would be best (if fusion power were not a masturbatory fantasy), back in the real world, corium is melting merrily through pressure vessels:

Core of Stricken Reactor Probably Leaked, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON — The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that some of the core of a stricken Japanese reactor had probably leaked from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure, implying that the damage was even worse than previously thought.

The statement came as the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, started to inject nitrogen into the reactor containment vessel of unit No. 1 to prevent a possible explosion.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s statement regarded unit No. 2, and the agency underscored that its interpretation was speculative and based on high radiation readings that Tokyo Electric had found in the lower part of unit No. 2’s primary containment structure, called the drywell.

The statement said that the commission “does not believe that the reactor vessel has given way, and we do believe practically all of the core remains in the vessel.”

The agency’s statement was issued after Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, told a House hearing on Wednesday morning that the commission had told him that the core had melted through the vessel.


Don't worry, only a little has melted through, and it's safely in containment. And we were just about to tell you anyway. We were trying to decide between 8 point Helvetica and 6 point Garamond Light for the headline when the congressman made his statement.

In any event, there is no danger to public health, we are helping the Japanese authorities to take all necessary measures, and nothing like this could possibly happen to the reactor(s) in your neighborhood.

You may now return to your favorite reality television program.

Kirsty Alley fell down on DWTS! I almost missed it because I was reading NYT! I gotta get my priorities straight.:-)

So Reactor #2's RPV has "leaked", but it didn't "give way" (whatever that means), and most of the core is still in the reactor? How many ways can they confuse the subject? If the core "leaked" out of the RPV, then there's a hole in the RPV and that's called a "breach". Is NRC saying the hole got resealed by the remaining core material after it cooled? Reactor 2's damage is estimated at around 30%; compared to Reactor 1's 77%, if the 8" thick steel RPV was melted through just a little on Reactor 2, why didn't Reactor 1 melt through as well?

There was an explosion inside reactor 2 that they are desperately trying to avoid a repeat of at reactor 1.

More specifically, within the concrete containment structure around the RPV of Reactor 2. That's why that reactor's torus won't hold pressure.

To the best of my knowledge nobody has said with authority exactly where and how the major explosion was initiated in reactor 2 building.

Indeed ,

but they officially admit possible damage to the torus :


The schematic for reactor 2 shows a red cross through the torus :

"15th 0620 possible damage of(sic) the suppression chamber"

Given that we have three examples of hydrogen explosions --outside-- the concrete containment structure that demolished the outer covering of those buildings, and Reactor 2's building exterior is fundamentally intact, I'd say the explosion taking place within that building had to have occurred somewhere that contained most of the force and kept it from reaching the building exterior.

Since the torus is connected to the interior of the concrete containment structure, and was damaged, my guess is the explosion happened either inside the containment structure or the torus itself. There's not really another location.

Nuclear evacuation zone may be expanded
"The Government says it may order residents of some areas within 20 to 30 kilometers of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to evacuate"

I mentioned this the other day.
This is the info I looked at that led to my speculation that the zone might be expanded.
There are many pages to be looked at to get an idea of what is happening over there.

Radioactive material in excess of standards even after the water stop
"Water is contaminated with high concentrations of radioactive material had leaked from the facility known as Unit 2 pit Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station TEPCO, the morning of August 6 is stopped, then taken around the power plant from seawater, but was about half the day before, the radioactive material has been found to significantly exceed the criteria established by law to continue."
All the US headlines still read "Leak Stopped" But it is still leaking, so the sea is still getting dumped on over and above what they are dumping into it intentionally. I'll post an update on seawater radioactivity as soon as I get it. Here is all I have right now.

A couple a day ago (or maybe even yesterday) someone posted a diagram showing the trend for I think death rates (and possibly cancer incidence rates) for countries like Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The time period covered several years before and after the accident at Chernobyl. The time trends were very interesting.

I can not find that post now. Any one who can give me a link or the the date and "name" of who published it?

I don't know if this is the one you meant,


Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment

(biggish pdf! 350ish pages)

There's some back and forth about it's legitimacy, but I'm not convinced that it's been rightfully discredited. There are lots of references to other sources and institutions with this data, so there's a lot to chew on.

One critique it gets is the difficulty of distinguishing between health-effects of Chernobyl, and those of the crashing Soviet Union.. and yet putting hundreds of thousands of soldiers to work, and God knows what else, right at the tail end of Afghanistan, and it leaves me to wonder how much the Autopsy of the Soviet Union's Death would reveal stab-wounds from this accident as well.

The point isn't JUST how much damage does the radiation do to us, but how much of a burden on a complex, mechanized society is such a failure?

We see the Fuel shortages and Tsunami rescue/restoration efforts in Japan, and then the somewhat minimal number of teams that are available (apparently) to fight the Fukushima-DaiIchi breakdowns, and the costs and worries that that has added to the crisis.

- What would those firefighters and their equipment be doing otherwise right now?

- How much Gas/Diesel has been spent on these spluttering reactors so far, and where else could it have been applied instead?

- How many food supplies are unviable now, (10,000 Dairy cows, I heard)

- How much arable land is now unplantable?

It's a lot of additional straws on the Camel's back.. How resilient was the Camel on 3/11? 4/11?


Thats some heavy readning, but it was not what I was actually looking for.

What I was looking for was just one diagram (deaths rates in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia) someone published here the other day.

Here, try this one..


A national cancer registry to assess trends after the Chernobyl accident
A. E. Okeanov, E. Y. Sosnovskaya, O. P. Priatkina
Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology Research, Minsk, Belarus

Not the most reliable source, but not a bad one:

It should be easy to find the rest of wht you want from here.

"The point isn't JUST how much damage does the radiation do to us, but how much of a burden on a complex, mechanized society is such a failure?"

Excellent point. It seems odd to me that people who are insisting that not many have died as a result of Chernobyl will point to the economic collapse of the region as causal in deterioating health stats... without pausing to consider that the accident itself could give socioeconomic collapse a strong shove. This isn't to say that the former USSR hasn't had other serious problems, but aside from out and out killing people the drain on pretty much all other aspects of the society/ies has/have been massive.

Another biggish quake?

JMA: Earthquake Information





7.2 just outside the coastline of Fukushima

I would imagine those bright lights on the webcam are worklights or such..? I hope..


This is much closer to shore than the big one, so could have quite serious consequences for any structures still standing.

7.4 just 30 minutes ago (9:30 a.m. CST), and immediate evacuation warning due to tsunami risk. Let's hope they don't get a tsunami!

To all, can we get epicenter info and siesmography? What is that, 1/100 of the 'big one'?

NHK just reported partial station blackout at Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture (2 of 3 external powerlines down), lots of emergency vehicles. Live coverage here:


External power also down at spent fuel nuclear re-processing plant nearby (back-up diesel is being used).

Search for missing launched in 10-20 km zone from nuke plant

The Fukushima prefectural police, helped by the Tokyo metropolitan police department, launched the search Thursday as the radiation levels have stabilized there, the police said. The number of missing people in the search area stands at 2,453, or more than 60 percent of all the missing people in Fukushima Prefecture.
The number of people killed stood at 7,680 in Miyagi Prefecture, 3,687 in Iwate Prefecture, and 1,168 in Fukushima Prefecture. The number of missing people came to 6,320 in Miyagi Prefecture, 4,472 in Iwate Prefecture, and 3,951 in Fukushima Prefecture.


"Occurred at 23:32 JST 07 Apr 2011
Region name Miyagi-ken Oki
Depth about 40 km
Magnitude 7.4"

edit: NHK reports no change @ Fukushima. Of course TEPCO would tell us all problems, no?

I just saw this:

Fukushima plant workers evacuated after quake: operator

TOKYO (Reuters) - Engineers working at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was badly damaged by the March 11 quake and is leaking radiation, have been evacuated following an earthquake late on Thursday, operator Tokyo Electric officials told a televised news conference.

The company said there were no irregularities at its Fukushima Daini plant, which has been shut down since the March 11 quake.


NHK reported that TEPCo said "all nine" workers at Fukushima Daiichi were reported safe after the recent quake.
They only have nine people working the graveyard shift? Jeeez!

That sounds quite deep. Does anyone remember how deep the big one was?

So it's weaker and deeper, but much closer to shore. How does that all add up?

And it looks like there were two at the same time:


When do we stop calling them aftershocks? A month later? Two?

Is it possible that Japan is just entering a seismically active period that could go on indefinitely?