Ten Thousand Holes in Fuku Dai-ichi

I read the news today (...) and it seems that there are a growing number of holes at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility. Although nobody has actually seen them, much less counted them all, holes from 3cm to perhaps 7cm in diameter are believed to exist in the primary containment vessels for at least two of the reactors. Tepco suspects that the holes were created by molten fuel eating its way through the steel walls. Water is being injected into the containment in an effort to continuously remove heat from the fuel, but the water leaking through the holes is bringing radioactive contaminants along with it while filling up the no-longer-drywell and the basement of the reactor building. A plant to process this water is being designed. In the meanwhile, highly radioactive water is being pumped to a storage facility next door. Unfortunately, this facility is almost full.

But perhaps this is not a problem, as the storage facility is apparently leaking as well.

The operator of Japan's troubled nuclear plant is trying to determine where contaminated water from a waste disposal facility is leaking to, after finding that the water level inside the facility has dropped.

It has been awhile since this all started, and there is still some concern that one or more of the reactors was disabled prior to the tsunami. Although much of the evidence about what transpired in the first hours and days after the earthquake has long been available, Tepco is just now reporting on it.

No. 1 reactor pressure vessel likely damaged immediately after quake

Thinking in the forward (?) direction, Switzerland is going to phase out nuclear. Back in Fukushima, there is some discussion of turning the Dia-ichi plant into a nuclear waste repository.

Fukushima Considered for Nuclear Graveyard

(...probably not a good idea)

Some, however, choose to live in neither the past, the present, or the future -- but rather in some strange world where scientific rigor and clear logic have even less import.

Big Island Dairy Farmers fight radiation with Boron

After much consideration, research, and conversations with much appreciated experts in the field of biological farming and human & animal health, we have found some things which we are able to do to protect our soil, animals, and bodies.
We have remembered our friend, elemental boron and the position it plays on the earth. Boron is the only mineral capable of accepting and ionizing radiation that never changes the innards or the nucleus of the cell. Spoken simply, boron can take radiation and release it without upsetting its own very delicate balance.
Boron will accept radiation and ionize it within our bodies, after which our bodies will safely excrement the boron and radioactivity.

Adding borax to milk!

Most readers are probably aware that boron is a neutron absorber, useful for keeping a large concentration of a fissile material from going critical. It is not going to protect you from radiation internally -- unless you have just swallowed a critical mass of uranium fuel pellets. In that case, it will keep your stomach from functioning as a nuclear reactor.

In a previous post, I gathered some reference and educational materials. Perhaps this will help.

[open thread: Fukushima related comments welcome]

Still don't know how many holes it takes to fill the iron wall.

They'd like to turn U [238] off...

This comment might to to far afield for this thread, but here goes:

Here in Minnesota we have the famous Mayo Health Clinic. The oft told Myth is that because Minneapolis was a manufacturing town and so many people were losing limbs in the machines, the city developed quite a health care industry.

A myth sometimes hides a kernel of truth and I wonder what new skills and abilities the Japanese will invent / create as they cope with this disaster. They already have an impressive skill creating robotic systems.

Or, another thought, what new businesses and industries may be created to reduce / remediate (I don't see repair as possible) this kind of damage. I envision a land based remote vehicle industry, much like the remote well tending robots now used in the oil industry.

What put me in this mind was this radiation reading maps of the facility and the realization that many parts of it are far too lethal for humans to service.


All I saw in that article was that Tepco "thinks" there are holes in the reactor vessels, based on tests and analysis they've made on simulations, and that water pumped in is leaking into the control room basements. Didn't see anything about the size of these possible holes, or that there were more than one or two. IOW, it seems to me that the comments of the original post were rather inflationary, and alarmist (note the "growing number of holes" quote). If there are holes in the pressure vessels, they almost certainly formed in the early days after the cores melted, and there wasn't anything in the article that even implied the number of holes was increasing.

The facts are serious enough here; there's no need to make them any worse than they already are.

Apologies for the wording, but given that no holes were previously acknowledged, any new such acknowledgment is, from the present perspective, a new hole. As for size, Tepco did give size estimates:


"riddled with holes"

A growing number of revelations on how dire the situation was from day 1.(ie. holes in Tepco's narrative).

JW -

You seem to be independently glimpsing a truth about FD-I that the general population worldwide does not, and for this your insight is commendable. Most disasters, natural or man-made, can be characterized as an impulse event that changes the environment and then the rest of the disaster consists of a clean-up, salvage, repair, rebuild etc. operation. Katrina was like that, 9/11 was like that, even the BP Macondo blowout was like that although the "impulse" was something like four months long. FD-I, by contrast, is an open-ended man-made disaster triggered by an impulse natural disaster (the 11 March tsunami). The processes that are going on at FD-I can be coarsely described as ones of decay and dispersion; there is no effective way to apply reconstructive or containment processes so as to counteract what the tsunami has triggered. Perhaps with human help some very dramatic and large-scale counteractive effects can be brought about (I envision burial in a giant caisson filled with boron and tin) but it is clear that "just add water" is not a medium- to long-term solution.

I'd agree with your main point that this is an open-ended disaster, but I'd say that the BP blow-out is also open-ended, until we see that life on the seafloor for the area to shore, including crabs, shrimp, etc., have recovered to some level of their former population.

And until we see a stop to Macondo oil blobs washing ashore with storms in the Gulf.

I don't know where you live, but in many areas, you'll never stop seeing tar balls wash up. Many areas have always been like that.

I was chatting with a kid that spent 4 years going to school in Santa Barbara, and he made a comment about tar balls from the 69 oil spill still washing up. I had to explain to him that it's been like that for thousands of years and will continue like that. At least 300 miles of So Cal beaches always have tar on them. Same at many GOM beaches.

That's right, folks, nothing to see here, move along, move along...


A "hole" isn't necessarily a hole, as in a round penetration completely through the whatever. They are estimating hole equivalents, if you will. A leaking gasket passing x amount of water is equivalent to a conventional hole of size y, as determined by pressure and temperature.

A leaking gasket, a cracked pipe elbow, an instrument line sheared completely off (which is hole, but not in the vessel itself), or even a crack in the vessel big enough to leak) all add up to a leak the same size as you would get from the proper sized conventional hole.

One of the weaknesses on BWR reactors is the multitude of potential holes (which are actual holes (called nozzles) sealed by gaskets, metal o-rings, etc) within the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel. On the PWR side of the fence, I noted in the AP1000 plans, helpfully posted on the NRC's website, that there are no vessel penetrations below the top of the core. Much better in my opinion.

IEEE has some coverage including this article on radiation risks and estimated deaths from Chernobyl (external radiation only).


"Committees of the National Academies... Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation...2006 BEIR VII report...the most authoritative estimates."
Read online for free:

A summary from Wyoming:

"The linear-no-threshold model was first expressed by John Gofman, and rejected by the Department of Energy, according to Gofman, because it was "inconvenient".[3]

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) report, NAS BEIR VII was an expert panel who reviewed available peer reviewed literature and writes, "the committee concludes that the preponderance of information indicates that there will be some risk, even at low doses""

"BEIR VII dose-response estimates... Chernobyl radiation... 20,000-30,000 deaths... to 70,000 or 80,000....best available science...25,000 (deaths)."

"...not all national regulatory authorities have accepted the BEIR VII... among them France's.... a 2008 United Nations report declined to assign any specific number... Some, unfortunately, have chosen to take that as a statement there have been no long-term effects."

"220 cast and crew who filmed a 1956 film, The Conqueror, on location near St. George, Utah, ninety-one had come down with cancer, with an unheard of 41 per cent morbidity rate.[6] Of these, forty-six had died of cancer by 1980. Among the victims were John Wayne and Susan Hayward, the stars of the film."

Little Pu!:

As far as your downwinders link, correlation doesn't always equal causation.

You'll have to excuse me, as I'm one of those guys that prefers valid evidence over con theories or mere speculation.


You're excused. Feel free to come back with data.

(Including some about the Eternal Tarballs on Gulf and SB beaches.)

Unfortunately, this facility is almost full.

But perhaps this is not a problem, as the storage facility is apparently leaking as well.

Problem solved.

Marine life soaking up radiation along Fukushima coast

We sent samples of seaweed, fish, and shellfish collected by our radiation monitoring teams both onshore and on the Rainbow to professional labs in France and Belgium. The results of the details analysis are back – and we can say that the situation in the ocean along the Fukushima coast is worse than we originally thought.

The new data shows that some seaweed contamination levels are not only 50 times higher than safety limits – far higher than our initial measurements showed – but also that the contamination is spreading over a wide area, and accumulating in sea life, rather than simply dispersing like the Japanese authorities originally claimed would happen. ...

Desdemona's collection of Fukushima stories

And we thought that the BP blowout was bad. . .

Yeah the Japanese have a horrendous environmental catastrophe to deal with. But we really need to get our own house in order before moving ahead on any new nuc projects or new oil wars. Its imperative.

"Risk From Spent Nuclear Reactor Fuel Is Greater in U.S. Than in Japan, Study Says"


The risks and costs at Fuk!ishima are unprecedented. But how about the $7-8 billion dollar solution (wait...rephrase this. we've got no solution!) here? We've also got big unfunded decommissioning costs.

This f'ing pisses me off. We're pissing away energy like there's no environmental costs. We've got all this toxic spent fuel all over everywhere. It wasn't designed for this! And as this group knows, when societies fall, they fall hard, and we're on the brink. What an ugly legacy we're leaving.

I usually manage to keep myself under control, but sometimes things happen that make me say "Just what the ****ing hell is wrong with us as a country (USA) and a world! We are D**N stupid people! We have all these problems that are deadly yet we deny that there's anything wrong at all! We need to use LESS! We need to take care of the crap that we've made, not just keep accumulating it and passing it off to our descendants! Doesn't anybody get it? NO! They just keep saying things like "It's not as bad as coal". How about waking up and using LESS????? We could do it if we wanted to!!!!!!

My wife and I live a very different lifestyle than almost anyone we know, use 10% of the energy and produce 10% of the waste since we don't buy as much crap. We've put in PV to cover our remaining energy use. Lots less driving than others. Big garden in and expanding to supply more and more of our food. But does anybody else care or try to do anything (Present company excepted)? No!

Any hope I once had for the human race is rapidly vanishing!

But according to Ayn Rand's followers, using less is immoral! It's all about ME, ME, ME!!!

I liked Rand when I was 16. You could be a hero for being a complete Azzhole, and that is very cool when you are 16!

However, simplistic and embarrassing economic stories and myths become trite as one gains knowledge.

I respectfully ask that the readership keep in mind that Rand was a novelist/cum philosopher, and a damned good one-writer, that is..as a philosopher she sucked.

Everyone I know who has actually read her work has come away impressed and better informed in respect to the nature of the human beast;and having once been a card carrying liberal myself, my acquaintances include many liberals, some of whom have read Rand.

No writer can reasonably be held responsible for what others make of his or her work.History is littered with examples of great writers work being used for less than uplifting ends.

Consider Christ himself, his actions and his words, and consider the history of the Christian church.

Rand was only a writer, not a demoness from hell.

The audience here has always been willing to cut liberal writers plenty of artistic slack.

Rand deserves the same.

What she might have said and supported in her later years is irrevelant to a serious consideration of her literary work-which is a dead on prescient description of the clusterfxxks that happen when govt and industry get too big and powerful.

People are subject to falling for hero worship, status, and money.

"Twilight in the Desert" is no less a serious book, of a different sort of course, for the fact that the author seems to have gone overboard in his last days.

And yes, those of us who have actually read Rand know that some of of the disasters outlined in her novels were based on scenarios involving collusion between big biz and big govt.

It has often been said that if you are not a liberal when you are young, you have no heart;and that if you are not a conservative when you are old, you have no brain.

Those who scorn Rand would do well to actually read her work.

The attitude here mostly seems to be that if you are not a liberal , you are a Neanderthal, or maybe even a psychopath.

Folks should remember that each and every one of us is subject to our own delusions-in my entire life, I have met only one person who seems to have none I have been able to discover-so far.

Interestingly enough, I met him thru this forum!

We make up our minds as to what we believe for many different reasons, most of which have only a tenous connection with physical reality.

Perhaps a personal example would help get my point across.

I try very hard, personally, to be a realist.

Being quite well aware of the economic and physical realities of the energy and resource crisis, as well as fully aware of the dangers associated with nuclear power, I have in the past been an avid supporter of nuclear energy.

I did not adopt this position lightly, but given the risks associated with a catastrophic shortage of electricity due to resource depletion and political bungling including and up to WWIII, the lesser evil, in my estimation, was the nuclear option.

I simply CHOSE to put my faith in the integrity of the industry, and of the engineering profession, given the very high level of scrutiny and regulation to which this industry is subjected.

I was not alone in reaching this conclusion;a great many serious people who frequent this site were , and remain, convinced of the NECESSITY of nuclear power.

Now I have had an eathquake AND a tsunami upside the head in a lethal one two punch that has knocked this fond delusion-meaning the delusion that I can trust industry, engineers, and govt to do the right thing- right out of my head-MY EYES ARE STILL SPINNING CARTOON STYLE, AND THE CUCKOO CLOCK IS STILL GOING OFF.

This is so ironic it isn't even funny-because I basically CHOSE to put my faith( or take my chances siding with) in a profession , and industry, and above all govt, doing things right-this being a black hole sized blind spot in my own thinking, as I am FULLY confident that people, industry, and govt will do the wrong thing as a matter of course, being an intellectual conservative.

(I am NOT a republican!)

Of course, the earthquake and tsunami MIGHT NOT have arrived for another ten or twenty years, and in that case I would probably have died with my delusions intact. ;-)

Now I am as certain of many things bad things coming to pass as sunrise tomorrow-things lightly dismissed, or ignored altogether, or wished off into never never land-like I wished off my earthquake and tsunami-by my liberal friends and acquaintances, including some of my cyber friends here at TOD.

Perhaps most of us will die without these conservative bugaboos becoming reality within our lifetime-if we are lucky.

Maybe we won't lose all our civil liberties and find ourselves living in a police state due to power mad politicians playing on our fear of terrorism- this is a VERY serious concern among intellectual conservatives of my stripe.

Maybe we can bring the troops home from sand country sometime soon and still not have the price of oil jump to three hundred dollars a barrel overnight, if the people who wind up in charge there are willing to sell to us at ANY price-but Barack and Hillary don't seem to think so, given thier ACTIONS, rather than thier words.

As a conservative, my fear is that we are committed militarily for the duration-of either the oil, or of our ability to maintain our forces in the field, whichever comes first.

Maybe all the many millions of people (poorly) educated at prestigious universities who have studied economics and history and believe in growth forever will wake up tomorrow and have the scales fall from thier eyes and see the light in terms of overshoot-excuse me, that is a delusion cherished by a few of my liberal friends, actual and cyber, not one of my fears.

Excepting those of us who are actually seriously intellectually impaired, just about everybody holds to a set of beliefs reasonably consistent with what he or she has found to be consistent with reality-as that person percieves it.

None of us are in a position to go round casting stones willy nilly , as we all live in intellectual houses with at least a few glass windows.

Perhaps most of us will die without these conservative bugaboos becoming reality within our lifetime-if we are lucky.

Well, before I go to bed at night I look under my bed and in my closets to make sure Alan Greenspan isn't hiding there...

On the other hand it's after 11:00 PM and I'm being serenaded by a pair of birds outside my window, there are still a few good moments left to enjoy in this world!

I personally happen to find her writing rather wordy and wearisome, much like that of many of her followers ;) But I suppose that's a matter of taste, like so many other things. As for her philosophy, though, it's not just wrong, it's dead wrong, and that's really the point. Not to invoke Godwin or anything, but we don't judge Hitler by the quality of his prose in Mein Kampf...

Have you read her lately?
Really an atrociously bad writer, but my fiction reading is becoming slim.

Not just Ayn Rand, but Paul Krugman as well. Spend, spend, consume at all costs. GDP must always increase. Etc, etc.

Sounds like you must be living in a single family house which is not really an efficient use of resources.

Also IMO it really doesn't matter what each individual decides if the collective is on a different course.

Sounds like you must be living in a single family house which is not really an efficient use of resources.

Also IMO it really doesn't matter what each individual decides if the collective is on a different course.

You trying to tell me that if I use more than nothing that it's not good enough!!??? I think it's d**n good use of a house that was built over 60 years ago. No resources used to build a new one. While all our neighbors have been running their AC for over a month here in Alabama, we have yet to turn it on. Haven't needed it by bringing the cooler air in at night and closing the windows during the day. Lots of other tricks to be comfortable, too. Doesn't need to be 72 to be OK.

Yes, the collective idiots are on a different course, but that doesn't mean that we're going to abandon our morals and commitment to future generations. We're working daily to reduce our consumption of all non-renewables. We go way beyond recycling. For example, it's amazing all the building materials you can find discarded on the side of the road that can be saved from the landfill. Enough in a year to build two 8 x 16 sheds.

By the way, there was a comment in the drumbeats of the last couple days that said that the definition of a psychopath and a corporation were eerily the same. I have to add that now, given the indisputable evidence of the danger of nuclear power, add nuclear power supporter = psychopath.

Sorry, like fmagyar, I'm fed up with being politically correct, someone needs to step out and say just how freaking stupid we are!

Well, Harry Reid and many others in Nevada didn't want the waste in Yucca Mountain and nobody else wants it.

Personally, I say put it in Yucca Mountain. Or put it in lead caskets and drop it into the bottom of a really deep ocean trench.

As for being pissed off: So then have you started only walking and bike-riding? Have you stopped heating your house in winter and cooling it in summer?

No, we are not about to fall apart. Hard times, yes. Complete collapse? Highly unlikely.

<< So then have you started only walking and bike-riding? Have you stopped heating your house in winter and cooling it in summer? >>

False dichotomy.

"A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and-white thinking or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options."


Also a basic from any high school ethics class. Come on, dude.

People who are living in a Western country enjoying Western living standards are part of the problem that they complain about.

If what we are collectively doing is so terrible then what we are each doing individually is terrible. Who is part of the problem? That person in the mirror.

If we are going very wrong it is not just due to some small evil corporate elite. The vast majority (including most of those who are doing moral tsking) are failing.

Yes, and Junich Matsumoto (the General Manager of TEPCO) would really like to get his life back, so he can stop worrying about all the Little People.

but also that the contamination is spreading over a wide area, and accumulating in sea life,

Well, perhaps to try and get some benefit out of this, all that needs to happen is to come up with some sample results showing that Pacific whales are accumulating radiation (which, unfortunately, they probably are) and maybe that will put an end to the Japanese whaling industry.

Worse even than that

• The French nuclear watchdog, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) has recommended a further 70,000 people be evacuated from areas contaminated by ongoing nuclear radiation from Fukushima. Well, that’s fine but the IRSN is not the Japanese government & as we know, Japanese people are made of sterner stuff. (But unfortunately their DNA is still good old regular DNA & radiation will damage it).
• Further citizen protests are occurring against government policy of withholding vital radiation data & exposing children to high levels of radiation in Fukushima. The government has said it cannot evacuate Fukushima City with a population of 300,000.
• The government has advised that there is “no immediate likelihood the plant will stop emitting radiation” & that it urges voluntary evacuation from high radiation areas. In other words “each man, woman & child for themselves, you’re on your own. Good luck & God bless”.
• Greenpeace could not find any laboratories in Japan to test their collected samples so they sent the samples to France & Belgium. Results show significant (50 times safe levels) radioactive cesium & iodine in seafood (fish & shellfish) & in seaweed collected from the ocean 50 km from Fukushima. The official line from the Japanese government is that radiation discharged to the ocean will disperse. Tell that to the fish & plankton that absorb it (before passing it up the food chain to humans).
• Highly radioactive water is still leaking from Reactor 3 AND the new onsite water recycling plant. Much of it appears to be going into the ocean but Tepco has not admitted to this.
• Remember Nuclear Annie (Anne Lauvergeon the CEO of French nuclear giant AREVA) riding to the rescue week 2 of this mess. She promised French expertise to help control this disaster (not doing too well in this regard yet). And also promised AREVA would build a water nuclear decontamination plant. Fukushima now has over 85,000 tons of highly radioactive water containing all the goodies like uranium & plutonium. Anyhow the good news is that this facility is on schedule to be completed by late June. The not so good news is that AREVA will charge Tepco USD $2.4 million per ton of water to decontaminate. Hhmm! Let’s see, 85,000 tons by 2.4 Mill equals Oops, my calculator says $204 Billion. Well now even the Japanese government can’t afford that, plus all the other astronomical ongoing expenses of this mess. So guess what this means! More radioactive water going into the ocean. Oh well we are told it does disperse in the mighty Pacific.
• Cesium at 100 times above normal levels now detected at Osaka 300 km from Fukushima
• More independent scientists claiming this week that Fukushima will be worse than Chernobyl in release of radiation
• The amount of highly radioactive water onsite has grown from 70,000 tons a month ago to 87,500 tons now. This is projected to grow to 200,000 tons by December. Now nuclear Annie promised AREVA help in building a water decontamination plant & she has come good on that promise. But the cost of $2.4 M per ton to decontaminate 200,000 tons of “hot” water will mean $489.6 Billion (just shy of half a trillion US dollars). Maybe we will get a bulk discount from Annie.
• Tepco finally came clean & officially advised that nuclear reactors 1, 2 & 3 all melted down. What they haven’t admitted to is that i) nuclear discharge from Fukushima will continue until the melted fuel is removed & ii) that no one knows how to remove the melted nuclear fuel.
• This will go on for many many months to come, probably years, possibly decades & perhaps forever. The last scenario is a distinct possibility unless the entire world steps in to supply money AND unlimited technical & engineering support to control this disaster. It is patently obvious the disastrous nuclear scenario is beyond the expertise of the entire nation of Japan. The costs of this cleanup will soon be calculated in the Trillions of dollars. Japan, the world’s third largest economy, will not be able to afford to pay for this. And they do not have the technical expertise needed to fix the problem (not sure anyone does at the moment). Now, also, the high levels of radioactive release, especially into the ocean, are becoming an international concern. Japan on its own will NEVER be able to clean this up. Radical thoughts? Yes. Radical disaster? Yes. From Day 1 “we are in uncharted territory”. Sadly, we move deeper into uncharted territory every day.

And hurricane season is approaching. Fast.

So, they will need radiation-resistant robots that can also work underwater, yes?

Not surprisingly, as soon as any of the new Radiation-resistant Underwater Robots are getting their final programming and training, they become intelligent enough to demand fair wages, collective bargaining and a safe work-environment, which they showed has clearly preempted them from going to their intended tasks.. They are all holed up in out-of-state motels with their Lawyers until firm agreements can be reached. (Some have started sending resume's to Greenpeace..)

You do not need anything special for the robots to work underwater. In the sea the rad fields are not that high. Its the isotopic uptake into the food source which is the concern.

A big problem is no one on either side can believe what these guys are saying. Their response has been less then stellar.

The way you clean it up is cool it and contain the gases. Then nibble away at it. sample it to death.

They have to find a cheaper solution to the water then what AREVA is selling them.

You actually do need some specialized systems to make a useful underwater robot, and they're not cheap. Making them have special tools with which to 'Nibble' and 'Sample' in the conditions at hand might be just challenging, or they might just be expensive. In either case, it's certainly 'special', tho' I do think we'll at least be able to bust any early Labor-organizing these uppity 'droids try to sprout.

With 'all we've learned', I don't see them effecting any magical cures for Chernobyl besides building a bigger carpet to sweep it all under.. and they can't even afford to do THAT just yet. Doesn't inspire a lot of respect for our 'Power over the Atom', does it?

Jokal,I think we are talking about two different things. They already have underwater robots that work at sea so nothing new. No one will use underwater robots to recover the fuel inside the reactor. Once it cools they will pop the lid off the reactor vessel and a fix a fixture which holds water( for shielding) and extend drills into the mass of whats left through this water. They may use remote control tools but no robots. This is off the shelf technology.

concerning Chernobyl. The Japanese are proceeding so they can have a permanent solution and not repeat what the soviets did.

TEPCO is planning to put a plastic tent over the reactors. When they install it, the radioisotopes spewing into the atmosphere will decrease, but the radiation under the tents within the reactor buildings will increase. I suspect no one will be able to work in there for years, and TEPCO's plan is to leave the corium in place for perhaps a decade before removing it.

That's not the way it works BlueTwilight.
When they put a cover on the plant it will be like the fabric on an inflatable raft. This material can be glued and patched as needed. They will ventilate the building through a HEPA filter bank perhaps some rosin beads. so that the isotopes are captured before they leave the building.

Uh Huh.

Do they exist?

How else are they going to clean this up?

The 50 factor is for Iodine 131 only. Iodine 131 will be gone in 6 months time. As the consumption of Seaweed and fish from the region is already prohibited, and will be for a long time, it is not a health issue, only an economic one circa 50 km around the plant.

If Iodine is there so are cesium, strontium, cobalt, uranium etc. And 50 km is 35 miles. Japan prohibited Greenpeace from taking samples inside the 12 mile territorial zone. Now 35 miles is a long way from Fukushima. Greenpeace was surprised at the level of contamination found outside the 12 mile zone.

Also, Tepco has reported Iodine-131 in seaweed at its Kashiwazaki plant on Japans west coast. They are hypothesizing that the seaweed drifted over from the east coast Fukushima plant. However the more likely scenario is that the I-131 was airborne & deposited in the west coast ocean & absorbed by the seaweed. In other words how much Japanese seafood is secure from radiation.

The fact is that this radiation is spreading widely, on land as well as in the ocean. Expect to see it turn up in fish caught off the US west coast & Alaska within 2 years.

If Iodine is there so are cesium, strontium, cobalt, uranium etc.

That doesn't follow. The chemical properties are different for all of these, so how they partition between soil/water/air will differ, also biological accumulation will be different. It will require separate assays for all the longlived isotopes.

Iodine is highly volatile, has a short half life and a high biological effectiveness. This means that:

1) It has a high release fraction from damaged fuel (it accounts for most of becquerels released in a loss of coolant accident);
2) It has a high specific activity, due to its short half life;
3) High biological effectiveness because it accumulates in the thyroid giving very high tissue doses.

Chernobyl resulted in a few thousand additional thyroid cancers, at least a few dozen of which were fatal. I have all of the measured data in my nuclear engineering course notes, but can't be bothered to sift through it all right now. It is the only attributable cancer rise detectable so far, although that doesn't neccesarily mean that others havn't happened, just that they may be lost in the noise.

Ultimately, what you consider to be 'acceptable' or 'legal' levels of anything, depends upon what risks you are prepared to take. There is a 100% chance that you will die from something eventually. There is a huge amount of hysteria other this incident throughout the well fed chatering classes of the left. In the context of the emerging threat of starving to death due to peak oil, I think that people need to get some persective.

The problem with voluntary evacuation, is the people (and Northern Japan is mostly an economic backwater) then don't have a claim on government relocation funds. So mostly the people are trying to hold out until ordered to evac.

Can the water be decontaminated thru distillation? That's got to be far cheaper than $2.4 million per ton. Granted, the stuff left after the water is gone is nasty.

I believe the problem isotopes would vaporize just like the water. you have to chemically separate them first.

I have heard that they use zeolites or ion exchange resins to remove things like Cesium and Strontium from the water. Of course, if they're using seawater, it will have a huge load of non-radioactive salt to remove as well - zeolite is quite selective for Z-number has little selectivity for N-number. Distillation is a pretty big energy hog, but of course their problem is too much energy where they didn't want it.

But it sounds like the French are price-gouging here. You'd think that they'd offer to do it at cost, or at a discount, to make everybody all happy about nuke plants and stuff.

Can't they just drink it? I mean, the ones who don't believe in statistical evidence, studies, and other left/green/academic/in-tel-ect-tu-al pinko-rat-commie socialist latent teacher kinda stuff?

The price from the French is probably a low bid. Think of the liability and exposure they are offering to take on. Everything used in the effort has to be disposed of, safely, with the whole world watching. Their own workers are going to be irradiated. This all has to happen in the middle of disrupted farming country.

The real eye-opener is that this additional cost could help sink the Japanese economy.

If Japan consumes 40 MW from nuclear, the surcharge on the nuclear generated electricity to pay $500 billion for decontamination over 2 years would be 71 cents per kW·hr. Pay for your pollution, Japanese consumers, or TEPCO may take the low road by quietly dumping the contaminated water far out at sea.

Wind, solar and most other renewable energy sources do not look so expensive by comparison.

40mw? seems pretty low.

Try 47,348 mega watts.

Sorry, "40 MW" was a typo. I calculated with "40 GW." The Wiki article lists 47,348 MW capacity, but about half of the Japanese nuclear reactors are currently shut down. I assumed some of them would resume operation soon. Perhaps I was optimistic.

40 GW / 1000 W/kW * 24 hr/day * 365 days/yr * 2 yr = 701 billion kW·hr

$500 billion / 701 billion kW·hr = ~71 cents / kW·hr

If fateth's link below indicating a total cost to clean 250,000 tonnes of water is $656 million, then the price over two years would be ~.093 cents / kW·hr, easily affordable.

AREVA's Water Treatment System for #Fukushima I: TEPCO Denies "Rumor", Says It Only Costs US$2585 Per Tonne

I guess the $2.4 M figure for a cubic meter of water treatment is false.

Paul, My thoughts exactly: Radiation higher up in the food chain could help save tuna, whales, sharks, and lots of fish from capture. Surely nothing short of radiation is going to stop the overfishing of the oceans until yet more fisheries collapse.

Unfortunately, it's Japan's far-seas fisheries that do the most damage, and these will probably get a boost from the actual & perceived local radiation contamination.

Even prior to this, for instance, the marketing rationale for southern-hemisphere whalemeat was that it was pure and unpolluted. I expect that Japan - which has long chafed at any restrictions to its at-sea depredations - may use this to reinforce the already-existing nationalist sentiment in favor of aggressively strip-mining the seas' biota; much as the USA used an attack by Saudi rebels on the WTC to rationalize invading Iraq.

They'll probably get away with it, too; because ecological problems always get trumped by other aspects of international politics. Once "peak net energy" really starts to bite, environmentalism will become unpopular in the mainstream, and vocal enviro's will be deal with sternly by most societies. Society will find a way to blame them for perceived problems because of the high utility of doing so.

Japan is going to demand yummy food, and it isn't going to want to learn to like NZ mutton.

Sadly you are probably right.

But will Peak Oil make fishing for tuna too expensive?

Sushi-grade tuna sells for so much that it's hard to see peak oil denting it much. Earlier this year a 750-lb bluefin tuna sold for nearly US$400,000. That's one fish for .4 million $. Admittedly an extreme case, but the demand for such luxury items is a perfect mechanism to push species to extinction.

Eating tuna as a staple food - or anything on such a high trophic level - makes little sense; it'd be like us raising tigers for burger.

Unfortunately, the cost of acquisition can be fairly low, which is why last time I checked more than 50% of tuna by weight in the world was fed to pet kitties; the sea's new top predators. I expect to see driftnets make a large-scale reappearance since they're so effective at wringing all migratory sealife out of the seas... and I expect Japan to have their hand in it, probably through intermediaries.

It is possible that the economics of eastern tropical pacific tuna fishing could be affected by the loss of Pemex subsidizing cheap fuel for purse seiners targeting dolphins. However, the owners of most of those boats have a dual cargo and a dual purpose for running the ships; the cocaine cartels shipping "atun blanco", find owning and operating tuna fleets a good cover for running large boats in and out of various ports. So the high profitability of cocaine may tend to subsidize that fishery for awhile, which is mostly mexican ships.

What an odd species we are...

"but also that the contamination is spreading over a wide area, and accumulating in sea life, rather than simply dispersing "

Just like Bikini Atoll. Why am I not surprised. Oh wait, I read the report in the Navy base's library. And I had a professional interest at the time.

At least they don't have coconut crabs. I wonder what their local bioaccumulation vector will turn out to be?

but also that the contamination is spreading over a wide area, and accumulating in sea life, rather than simply dispersing like the Japanese authorities originally claimed would happen.

Both will happen in fact, that just depend of the concentration. Right now, it is concentrated, so the radiation will concentrate up in the food chain, but once it is dispersed in the ocean/world, the doses will be too low to sustain intake and accumulation, the reverse will happen, the food chain will decontaminate.

so the radiation will concentrate up in the food chain, but once it is dispersed in the ocean/world, the doses will be too low to sustain intake and accumulation, the reverse will happen, the food chain will decontaminate.
I don't see how that would follow. In both high and low doses the mechanism for accumulating (or not) trace elements should be the same. Only really high concentrations, that kill the organisms should diverge from the linear model.

The mechanism is the same, it's just that the concentration is too low for the intake to be bigger than the biological-half life.

The rate of decontamination is bigger than the rate of accumulation when the doses in the environnment are lower, because you accumulate less if there is less around.

You have me wondering how long the leaks would take to fill the Albert Hall


Ah, you beat me to it. JoulesBurn was clearly thinking of these lyrics:

"I read the news today oh, boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes are rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes
It takes to fill the Albert Hall"

Woke up
Fell out of bed
Combed all the hair
Right off my head....

"And though the holes were rather small,
They had to count them all.."

Just a few more tidbits of information to obscure the truth.

None of those directly involved with this disaster have so far been able to admit that the situation is not under control, and never has been.

The political and economic price would be too high... and not only in Japan.

Is it my imagination, or is it taking an unusually long time for our resident nuclear apologists to work up a spin for this one?

Have no fear, one of them is certainly getting ready to!

Overwhelming evidence of total failure might shut them up .

Let's not get carried away.

I predict many random replies.

Oh, come on! One teensie weensie little trillion dollar, total nuclear disaster, is no reason to conclude that nuclear isn't a safe, long term, clean alternative producer of energy...

I'm with augjohnson up thread: "Just what the ****ing hell is wrong with us as a country (USA) and a world! We are D**N stupid people! We have all these problems that are deadly yet we deny that there's anything wrong at all!

BTW, IMHO, if you're not angry as hell, you are part of the problem and I at least, am really tired of being politically correct!

And don't forget "Too cheap to meter!"

Well to be fair it sounds like it will stimulate the economy, and France must be happy, a half a trillion dollar windfall isn't to be sniffed at!

See, every cloud has a silver lining, probably an irradiated one.

And don't forget "Too cheap to meter!"

Now, come on. Let's be fair to the Japanese nuclear industry.

These reactors are no longer energy producers so the cost of cleaning up the mess should not be included in the cost of the electricity that operating plants produce.

That's how we've played the game here in the US, never account for all the uncompleted and abandoned plants when we calculate nuclear's kWh rate.

That's how we make nuclear energy affordable. That and ignoring government subsidies.

If it's good enough for America then it's good enough for Japan.

That's not how they calculate the rate. They always ask the PUC to over charge the rate payer to decommission any type of power plant. If you have a gas plant explode they put that into their formula. wind mill does not turn or falls over they put that in as well.

from the NRC site


Each nuclear power plant licensee must report to the NRC every two years the status of its decommissioning funding for each reactor or share of a reactor that it owns. The report must estimate the minimum amount needed for decommissioning by using the formulas found in 10 CFR 50.75(c). Licensees may alternatively determine a site-specific funding estimate, provided that amount is greater than the generic decommissioning estimate. Although there are many factors that affect reactor decommissioning costs, generally they range from $300 million to $400 million. Approximately 70 percent of licensees are authorized to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of their plants. These owners – generally traditional, rate-regulated electric utilities or indirectly regulated generation companies – are not required today to have all of the funds needed for decommissioning. The remaining licensees must provide financial assurance through other methods such as prepaid decommissioning funds and/or a surety method or guarantee. The staff performs an independent analysis of each of these reports to determine whether licensees are providing reasonable “decommissioning funding assurance” for radiological decommissioning of the reactor at the permanent termination of operation.

Before a nuclear power plant begins operations, the licensee must establish or obtain a financial mechanism – such as a trust fund or a guarantee from its parent company – to ensure that there will be sufficient money to pay for the ultimate decommissioning of the facility.

.. Fine looking rules. Has the NRC applied them to ENTERGY yet, re Vermont Yankee, whose decom. fund is still seriously short, and they are asking if they can borrow from what's there to pay for spent fuel storage.. ??

I guess they better not shut it down for past small tritium leaks until to earn enough to decommission it.

Stellar logic..

Hey, if they keep it running, then the next set of leaks will show them where some more of their 'nonexistant underground piping' was installed.

These were minor leaks in a place where no one will ever come in contact with it. no detectable leaks in the river.

You do realize that tritium is the same stuff that fusion reactors use as fuel. Its the same stuff that the magnetic blanket is trying to contain while the core is trying to release it.

Which Fusion reactors are we talking about?

The one 93 million miles away isn't as worrying to me as the fission plant sitting on the Connecticut River, whose owners claimed under oath that 'There are no underground pipes..', and whose leaks had not yet reached the River, as far as they could tell.

The main point was that the Owners were either ignorant of or lying about the existence and condition of underground pipes in their facility that had started leaking, and that even after a first set was found and forcibly brought to public attention, that ANOTHER set of underground leaking pipes then later emerged.

This falls well within the claims of 'We've learned a lot since then..', since clearly plant owners are still out there trying to get away with whatever they can, be it on the East Coast of the US or of Japan. Like BP, they've learned to drive the PR and have patience until the next disaster upstages them and takes them out of the spotlight.

... had not yet reached the River, as far as they could tell.

They were too cheap to meter it. Isn't that what they keep saying?

The term too cheap to meter was in a political speech...nothing more.


Yes, I know. I was just playing around with the political meme.

Industry spinmeisters are so eager to make problems go away by not measuring them -- e.g., Japan's refusal to allow Greenpeace to sample seawater within the 12 mile limit. Or the various import and commerce restrictions on G-M tubes or devices containing them.

Most of these newer/smaller (non utility owned) plants negotiate PPA (Power Purchase Agreements) with the utility before they go away with the project. These specify the rates that the power plant owner will be paid. The PUCs will use these rates as inputs for determining utility rates. Note, there is no mechanism other than market competition to align PPA prices with actual cost of production.

Kalliergo, it's not just you. It's actually that they have absolutely nothing left. No spin can save them this time.

It is not a rational argument.
Facts are irrelevant.
The psychopath persists, even when exposed.
"Mask of Sanity" Cleckey:
"The Mysterious Stranger" The Adventures of Mark Twain:

Maybe there is some kind of cosmic balancing force about it. Like for every ounce of rationality and logic, there must be an equal and opposite quantity of insanity and dislogic lurking about somewhere. Would certainly go a long way toward explaining some folks' behavior...

Fine, fine I will bite.

You guys are gloating over a straw man. There's virtually no nuclear proponent that is a fan of reactors the way they were made in the 60ies and 70ies (and the few there are generally ignorant about technology ). Most of us have been saying for years that we ought to replace the old designs with designs employing passive cooling systems and better containment structures. Our argument has basically been that renewables and energy conservation simply won't do the job, and thus the consequence of a no-build policy towards nuclear is thus either:

*prolonged use of fossil fuels
*further life extensions on nuclear plants that we know are flawed.

Now I know many will go on and claim nuclear will never be done safely, that profit will come before safety and so on. If you truly believe that to be true, that government regulation can never work, then the renewables are doomed as well, because burning coal is cheaper.

So gloat all you can now. The real tragedy is that this incident will be used to oppose newer plants, and when the pie in the sky solar panels fail to replace existing capability, we will grant dangerous life extensions to existing plants and continue to burn coal until the climate is fucked.

That is the real damage done by this accident. It will be used to reject proposals of new nuclear technologies, and hence we will continue with business as usual while pretending wind and solar will save the day ( they won't ).

I'm old enough to keep perfect memories that exactly the same wording adopted now by nuclear supporters to declare the intrisic security of the yet to come x-gen new reactor design where in use to describe the beautiful safeness of '60 and '70 technology.

I remember very well those affirmations being a tech-entusiast boy, really avid in reading anything avaliable on this wonderful technological resource.

How can we trust those affirmations once more?

My impression is that as far as our basic level of understanding in physic is now, all the fission nuclear tech is inherently dangerous on multiple level:

- We do not know how to develop processes that avoid producing troubling waste
- We basically do not know yet to do long term waste management (we do not know even if will be possible sometimes in the future and how)
- we do not have theory and tech to manage the statistically inevitable disasters when they happen (es. what to do in a hot site? and how? which tools? )
- for several reason we are not able to univocally quantify the medical risks involved in irradiation/contamination...

Note: I'm not english native, sorry for not to be as readabke as I wish..

So then we will continue to burn coal and prolong the life of existing reactors, because building new ones would be irresponsible unless we can demonstrate 100% safety.

I know you probably want wind power and energy conservation to fix it all. It won't happen. Oil is running out in a few decades at most, if we are to shut down the nuclear plants during the same time frame that means you will end up burning a load of coal.

So what is your alternative? Keep telling yourself that solar will make a major breakthrough any time now? The usual nonsense about a "smart grid" turning intermittent energy sources into load levelling ones ?

The choice at the moment is new nuclear, coal or further prolonging the life of reactor that were never designed to be run this long.

It is easy to criticise one alternative when you're not going to suggest any other.

>It is easy to criticise one alternative when you're not going to suggest any other.

I'm sorry, I do not master english enought, but I never wanted to talk of any alternative between anything...
that's not the issue here (at least for me).
If something is wrong to me I dont want it, dot. If something is gonna kill me and I understand it, there is no choice apart to abandon it.

Then I/we can choose between:
a. Do without - human civilization did until 1940...
b. Find something else among existing (if is not either dangerous)
c. Find something new (maybe is even easier than find how to manage this gross fission thing)

It may take a few time, but if we (as mankind) are alive, who care...


I'm not a big nuclear proponent, but I do think we need to evaluate it fairly. Consider automobiles. We think they are useful. We think they are useful enough that we tolerate a pretty substantial yearly death toll, where recent body counts (around 30,000 -35,000 per year) are "low" compared to the 40,000/year that preceded them.

In addition, there is almost certainly an indirect early-death toll numbering in the (low?) hundreds of thousands because overuse of automobiles for transit results in insufficient exercise, which leads to (increased and earlier incidence of) cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. One estimate, exploring bicycles as an alternative, found that every year of life lost bicycle crashes, is actuarially "paid back" 10x in life extended by "improved fitness". Another Danish study found that the mortality rate was 39% higher (including adjustments for risk factors) for non-bicycle commuters. So these indirect deaths are real.

And as whole society, we apparently think this is okay. Isn't it likely that we would (and will) make a similar judgement regarding nuclear power? Even if you throw Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the mix and only count crash deaths for cars, you get about eight years of auto use. Just counting dead bodies, and including worst case scenarios for nukes (use as a carefully designed weapon), they're still safer than cars.

Just wanted to toss that out there -- if nukes are so deadly, where's all the dead bodies? And if dead bodies are so bad, why are we still driving cars?

We just can't afford the consequences of major nuclear accidents, and despite the assurances of their extremely low probability, we can see that they are happening in our lifetime. The time line is too long and the effects are visited upon generations to come. The biosphere at large is further burdened with long half-life radioactive pollution, and large areas of our precious and limited earth are taken off line forever. All the car (and airplane) accidents our generation brings upon itself will not be a burden to those who come after, but the tons of unapproachable 'corium' and vast quantities of 'spent' fuel will be a burden they will have to bear, while receiving none of the original benefits. No nuclear proponent, or anyone in any position of authority, has been able to come forward with a plan for undoing the damage wrought at Fukushima and restoring the site to habitability. The best they can propose now is to turn it into a nuclear graveyard.

But how bad is a major nuclear accident? Thus far, the cost appears to be more in contaminated land, than dead bodies, and I am not at all clear on how much of (for example) Chernobyl is remnants of the initial accident that will fade over time (some relatively quickly) versus ongoing sources of contamination (current state of Fukushima reactors).

Put it this way, we can look at other technologies, and measure their direct and indirect badness in terms of dead bodies -- 30k/yr for autos directly killed in crashes, hundreds of thousands (a softer number) from indirect causes. Our historical record for nuclear power, warts and all, including weapons, is not as bad as what we already endure for the privilege of driving automobiles. Can you be more specific about the consequences that we "cannot afford"? And remember, I'm including Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the body count for nuclear power, and it still comes out better than cars in the current historical record. We clearly "afford" the consequences of cars, so why not nuclear power?

dead bodies is only one of the multiple (bad) impacts we've to factor in and probably the less significant...
Simple and (maybe)effective for evaluate cars risks, it's nothing more than a statistic tool to fool people to analyze long term effects of contaminations, pollution etc.
Once something is not killing us in the immediate, it became too far easy to play with numbers to mask the real impact.

At least you can shut off your car engine and this specific risk lowers significantly...

let's try to shut off Fuku now....

My (very personal) position is that we "cannot afford" anything we can't manage to shut off properly if needed.


The problem with trying to make these comparisons is the urge to boil it down to some easy to quantify metric such as dead body counts. That method was used by the U.S. back in the Vietnam War and proved to be entirely misleading and meaningless. It's easy and logical to measure traffic safety levels in terms of immediate resultant deaths, but radioactivity defies this logic. The effects even of external radiation exposure may be delayed by months or years. Then there are the similarly delayed effects of internally absorbed and retained radioactive material. And finally, concentrated and highly radioactive material in the environment is "the gift that keeps on giving" for generations; capable of both inflicting radiation directly upon those who get close to it, and releasing smaller amounts into the environment, to be inhaled or ingested and irradiate the surrounding tissue continually.

My point, with raising the body count issue, is that we generally regard death as worst-case. The Vietnam comparison is not a useful one, because that was a matter of using the body count to show that we were "winning" by using up enemy combatants, which is not the same thing at all.

If there are outcomes worse than death, let's hear about them. The secondary effects of excess driving are also delayed, and are also large (probably an order of magnitude larger than the crash deaths, on a yearly basis). And though we CAN turn off our automobiles, the plain fact is that we do not, and we continue to tolerate a death rate that far exceeds the measured deaths from all applications of nuclear power.

<< My point, with raising the body count issue, is that we generally regard death as worst-case. >>

I know we do, and in my opinion this is a huge problem in how research is done in health care. The end point of many cancer studies is often some dubious statistic like 'years cancer free' and does not address quality of life. There are glaring and well-known problems with these kinds of metrics.

<< If there are outcomes worse than death, let's hear about them. >>

What a curious challenge. I can think of so many outcomes worse than death it would be impossible to list them, and many can be caused by cell or genetic damage caused by ionizing radiation. How about end-stage metastatic bone cancer?

Okay, and how many cases of that have we had, attributable to all uses of nukes, including downwinders, including victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Does it come close to 30,000 per year? And do please note, no fair dinging "nukes" with coal's share of the problem.

There's a whole lot of bad in the world, and some of it comes from just plain being poor, and plain old lack of access to electricity. I think people are really failing to make the case that nukes are even in the same badness ballpark as stuff that we live with every day.

50 tons DU dust = estimated 500,000 cancer deaths. That is just from the first Gulf War.


Let's be conservative and pretend that war lasted 10 years, because frankly, I can't even remember which war the US was fighting when, or for how long, it's all kind of a blur at this point.

So that looks like well over 30,000 cancer deaths per year, and this does not include DU used in Kosovo, Afghanistan, etc.

And yes, we absolutely can count DU deaths, this is classified as a weapon of mass destruction even by the notoriously conservative United Nations who brought us the rosy estimates of mortality from Chernobyl in UNSCEAR. Whoops! I forgot-- that's just cancer. Probably plenty of still births, too.

And we're not just counting death, because we're now clear that this is not a satisfactory misery index. We would need to also count birth defects and damage to genetic and cultural heritage.

As you say, these are just ballpark numbers. But I think the case that nuclear is at least as dangerous as coal has been made convincingly and repeatedly. I'm seeing a lot of weak arguments from the pro-nuclear camp-- here and on other sites. Wild leaps of logic, common fallacies, broad, sweeping assertions, often from people who are probably smarter than I am.

Of course, my main priority is figuring out who is at risk, what the public health implications are here and overseas, etc. I think a lot of us are really just hanging out and waiting for the data to come in, and we're probably getting a little cranky.

Pro-nuclear supporters won't like the military references. They keep telling civilian is not the same thing as military. They can point at lots of problem in the military too.

Have you got a better reference for that death estimate? They cite the UK AEA, but provide no link. "Naturalnews.com" does not by itself pass my reliability filter. I went looking at Wikipedia, I tracked down some of their references, it is all very noisy. The defense agencies and their minions (RAND) all say "zero". There are old claims (from the Hussein days, between wars) of high rates of birth defects in Basra, but those are not independently verified, either.

IF DU is that bad, it ought to show up in the mortality stats, loud and clear, in places like Serbia and Kosovo (places somewhat less "disturbed" than Iraq and Afghanistan). If it's that persistent (and I agree that it definitely will persist -- at least until the dust is incorporated into sediment), then the effects claimed a decade ago in Basra by Hussein, ought to still be observable there now.

And do not forget, given that I'm willing to include all uses of nuclear power (e.g., Hiroshima and Nagasaki) that I think you should also ding our beloved automobiles for 1/3 to 1/2 of our yearly death and disability from cardiovascular disease, as well as some fraction of the lack-of-exercise-linked cancers (10-30% of total?). We're remarkably happy with stuff that is plenty harmful, as long as it is status quo.

Ah, yes, but then we would not be talking about "ballpark" figures, I would have to see your research as well, and this would be a different debate. Natural News isn't Lancet, but it's not Alex Jones, either.

The general point you were making is that nuclear is not that dangerous. However, the UN says that DU dust is a weapon of mass destruction. If you don't trust the UN, then I get to start throwing rocks at UNSCEAR and looking at the NYAS studies, and then you've got another half million or million fatalities in 10 or 20 years.

Sure, we could continue this debate with better references. Easily. Don't think it would work out so well for you.

You must be kidding. The US annual fatality rate for automobiles is long-documented and well-known. The link between lack of exercise and heart disease is well-established, and the link with cancers is strongly suggested. Here's one reference finding a 39% higher mortality rate for people who don't ride their bicycles to work: http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/160/11/1621 .

Lack of exercise and heart disease: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/11/us/lack-of-exercise-is-linked-to-heart...

Lack of exercise / obesity and cancer: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/obesity

And wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_exercise

There's no need for bluster, and I will admit that I had not thought of depleted uranium as part of "the nuclear industry" -- if that were the case, I would not have been so generous as to include "wartime uses of nuclear power" for the comparison. But nonetheless, I think my point stands -- we tolerate, even embrace, technologies that lead to hundreds of thousands of early deaths every year (from crashes, heart attacks, cancer, stroke). I don't think it would be hard at all for nuclear power to be less bad than automobiles.

And if I may briefly hedge, I think you need to also be careful about including the most-boneheaded military uses of a technology in the list, even though it was me that initially tossed that out there. We're remarkably good at finding inventive ways to kill each other -- smallpox-infected blankets, just for example.

Your initial statement was that health risk from all implementations of nuclear technology could not come close to 30,000 deaths per year. I think I demonstrated that it could, and plenty of people think it does.

<< There's no need for bluster >>

Point taken, I probably sounded more arrogant than I intended to.

<< I will admit that I had not thought of depleted uranium as part of "the nuclear industry" -- if that were the case, I would not have been so generous as to include "wartime uses of nuclear power" for the comparison. >>

Yes, you did make my burden of proof lighter than you could have. You were attempting to be fair and include all possible collateral damage from the nuclear industry, which I respect and appreciate.

And if I may briefly speak in further support of my argument, do note that in the very second paragraph of the original, I mention the hundreds of thousands of other yearly deaths -- the auto manufacturers might argue with, but doctors and epidemiologists surely would not. Keep us distracted with the bright-shiny, and we'll endure quite a lot for a little convenience.

But I must also admit much ignorance of the scope of the depleted uranium problem -- I knew that we used it in antitank weapons, but I had no idea that we were in the tons and tons and tons range of use. I had this image of heavy-metal-contaminated tank wrecks, nothing more. I don't trust the "zero" estimates, but I did not realize that it was so widespread (and pulverized into dust is pretty much pessimally stupid, whether dealing with heavy metals, or radioactive substances).

I guess my ultimate worry is down to global warming, and not believing that we will spin up renewables fast enough (*), and if we have demonized all-things-nuclear to the point that it is simply off the table, we might find ourselves in a bad place. New nukes are better than old nukes.

(*) Everything from do-we-have-the-grid, to dealing with variability, to social resistance to smart-metering and demand-sensitive applicances. Couple this with the widespread (bullshit) belief that we're-so-poor-we-can't-spend-on-infrastructure, and we could easily fall short. Because seriously, if we were rational, every third vehicle on the road would be a bicycle, and that is surely not what I observe.

I guess my ultimate worry is down to global warming, and not believing that we will spin up renewables fast enough (*), and if we have demonized all-things-nuclear to the point that it is simply off the table, we might find ourselves in a bad place. New nukes are better than old nukes.

I share your worry.

Given that we both worry that we might not get fossil fuels off our grids fast enough, does it not make sense to spend our limited funds on getting the most power on line for the least amount of money and getting fossil fuels off the grid as fast as possible?

Wind is the cheapest generation method we have at our disposal. New nuclear is much more expensive than is wind. And we subsidize nuclear, both old and new, more than we do wind. On a per kWh basis.

Large wind farms can be up and running in a year or two. New nuclear plants take a decade or so to start producing. That means that money spent on wind turbines takes fossil fuels off lines years earlier.

Our current grid in the US is about 43% coal-fed. Our grid could easily accept 20% (30% for the western grid) wind without modification. If we got cooking right now we could get a large part of that 43% coal generation retired in a decade.

Solar prices are falling like lead panties when the fleet hits town. Solar installs quicker than wind. Ramp up our solar installations and we could pretty much polish off coal in a decade or so.

Yes, wind and solar are not 24/365 'always on' sources. We'll have to build storage along with load-shifting to allow our grid to run smoothly. But that's not rocket science. We started building pump-up storage a hundred years ago. We've got plenty of places to install pump-up.

We could have coal pretty much licked before we could get a single new reactor spinning if we decided to. Then we could move toward replacing natural gas and closing the most risky existing nuclear plants.

China does really well with their five year energy plans. We could make a ten year plan and cause a lot of sequestered carbon to stay sequestered.

China is investing in Flow Batteries for peak shifting:

These links come from heisenberg:






There are more references out there...

"Maybe we can use all the Vanadium and Sulfur we will get as by-products from heavy oil/bitumen and use them to make Vanadium-Sulfur flow batteries?" -heisenberg


The battery consists of a porous separator. 1: The plates are liquids which flow from a much larger storage volume. 2: The liquid can be the electrolyte. The liquids are recharged using electricity. The battery only needs to be as big as the current demand, the density of electrons actually used, not the total volume of electrons stored, requires it to be. Electric cars using such an electricity storage means could be recharged by pumping fluid to/from tanks.


My oldest friend was a journalist reporting from Iraq during both Gulf Wars. Two years after the second one, both his retinas detached. His doctors strongly suspected DU dust. Two failed transplants later, legally blind, divorced, out-of-work, he's disappeared off the radar screen. He'll never appear on any nuclear casualty list, but only a nuclear apologist would assert he's not part of the industry's misery index.
In the meantime, is anybody keeping tabs on birth deformities in Iraq over the last ten years?

no one has a plan because no one has enough data to know how to write one.

This world has always been radioactive from different natural sources. When you get diluted enough its hard to measure any difference.

I know you probably want wind power and energy conservation to fix it all.

In my case, what I'd really like, is for people like you to accept once and for all that there is no fix whatsoever for the current BAU paradigm.

Let's accept reality for what it is and start building a new system from scratch. Neither coal nor nuclear can be a part of that new system. They have both been proven beyond the shadow of any doubt that if they are to be pursued, we are doomed!

So what real alternatives do we have other than wind, solar, hydro, geothermal etc...?
That's what we have to work with. If we can't figure out a way to build a civilization on that then we probably aren't quite as clever as we have been pretending to be.

Fukushima and The Gulf of Mexico make us pay attention to the nature of our civilization.

Energy is an aspect of capital. Most of it is spent on wars and on making a few people very, very, very wealthy.

Like George Carlin said: "When you're born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front-row seat."



nuclear is the alternative and you will see china and India will build them like crazy no matter what we choose. So, I would rather drive them to a safety mode of operation. If we bail out of nuclear the world will be totally dependent on the goodwill of the Chinese to do the right thing. They have not been a friend to the environment at all.

nuclear is the alternative and you will see china and India will build them like crazy no matter what we choose. So, I would rather drive them to a safety mode of operation. If we bail out of nuclear the world will be totally dependent on the goodwill of the Chinese to do the right thing. They have not been a friend to the environment at all.

The waste issue is a political and not a technical problem.

It appears TEPCO is lying. That in it self is not surprising they do not want to pay for the damage they have done. But the government of Japan seems to be taking no action to take control of the situation. I once read a book that said there is no strong central authority in Japan, more a loose collection of competing power groups. Their inability to force effective action on Fukushima seems to prove the point.

Their inability to force effective action on Fukushima seems to prove the point.

Well, assuming that the government is, in fact, interested in forcing effective action. I think there is a fair amount of evidence (the joint press releases, tightened control of information, ending dissemination of airborne emissions distribution estimates, etc.) that the actual goal is to minimize the perception of the magnitude of the disaster, to "save face."

If they came out and told the truth what would it achieve, apart from mass panic, financial turmoil, and a real worldwide backlash against nuclear power? If there is no fix there is no point adding to the problem. Let the consumers get on and consume. Limit the information, hide the problem, wait 5-10 years and start building more reactors. /cynic

I have noticed that there has been little to no discussion lately regarding the tendency for serious corrosion to occur when adding sea water, hot temp, some pressure (or maybe not) and stainless steel.

Regardless of the fact that they are no longer using sea water to directly cool the reactor, the equipment has been contaminated.

To add to all the other issues, there has to be "serious" corrosion occuring in the piping, some instrumentation and reactor vessel...

"no discussion lately regarding the tendency for serious corrosion to occur when adding sea water, hot temp, some pressure (or maybe not) and stainless steel."

The pressure is irrelevant, thermal stress and residual welding stress are enough to provide the energy for chloride stress cracking. The chlorides and oxygen are in the seawater. Heat is a given, and the material is most likely 304 stainless. Of all the stainless steels 304 is the most sensitive to chloride stress cracking.

The AP1000 documents reference a maximum chloride level of 0.15 ppm. That's even lower than in my Navy days. Oxygen is zero thanks to hydrazine or hydrogen addition. The welding procedures limit the stress from that source, heatup and cooldown rates limit the thermal stress, so that's in hand. All the above is to minimize the risk of chloride stress cracking.

Now add many tons of seawater, uncontrolled cooldowns (the water is not circulating from the lack of power) and toss in an explosion or two. The pipe is now a spiderweb of little cracks. Fortunately 304 is tough and nothing really big has fallen off. But see the discussion of "holes" up topic.

And yes, I am a metallurgical engineer. An unhappy metallurgical engineer as I contemplate this.

The reactor vessel is carbon steel and not prone to cracking that way. The stainless steel cladding may have cracked, but that isn't mechanically relevant. The bad news is that pressure vessel has 40 years of neutron embrittlement. And brittle steels hate uncontrolled cooldowns. So professionally speaking, I'm less happy about that than I could be.

"The specific environment is of crucial importance, and only very small concentrations of certain highly active chemicals are needed to produce catastrophic cracking, often leading to devastating and unexpected failure."


A guide as to what materials might be used where:

So thats why they are injecting hydrazine into the reactors now? To try to stop chloride corrosion?

"The fuel ponds of these reactor units were a major concern earlier in the Fukushima crisis. Unit 3 is using external power for top-up via the usual cooling and cleanup system, while unit 4 requires direct spraying from a concrete pump truck. Hydrazine is being injected along with water at both units to inhibit corrosion." From May 10th

"From 4:36pm to 8:04pm, on May 25, we sprayed water to Unit 4 by a
concrete pumping vehicle (from 4:42pm to 6:49pm, injected hydrazine
[corrosion inhibitor] at the same time)."

Looks like the hydrazine is being used in the spent fuel pools of #3 and #4 reactor buildings.

#3 fuel pond covered over with debris

#4 fuel pond mostly clear of covering debris



"Only ten minutes were allocated for leaders of the G8 countries to discuss nuclear energy at the summit in Deauville, France."

""Many among the G8 think that there is no alternative to nuclear power, even if we are convinced of the need to develop alternative energy, renewable energy,""

So, there you have it. No alternative, even alternatives. Ten minutes... followed by some blather about better rules from the rulers...



The G8 leaders supposedly don't believe renewable energy is worthy of their time - meanwhile General Electric (designers of the Fukushima reactors) announces: "Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for GE." (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-26/solar-may-be-cheaper-than-fossi...)
Your link begs the question whether those leaders are all hopelessly corrupt, hopelessly lazy or hopelessly stupid.

G-8 differ in reactions to Fukushima:

""Politics and money are the most influential factors in formulating each nation's stance toward nuclear energy," Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano said, explaining that nations such as Germany and some Nordic countries where environmentalists have a strong say in politics would naturally be more reluctant to back the continued use of nuclear energy in the wake of a crisis."

""But nations such as France, which has a strong nuclear industry, will likely remain firm in their reliance on nuclear energy," he said."

In the interest of keeping the number of posts low, here, also, are some informational links:

A floor-plan and photos of the #3/#4 reactors/tools/control room:
Other photos, too, with a bit of alarmist spin:

Another excitable fellow and his site "Asianweek":


Typhoon Songda Weakens, Changes Path to Japan:

Radioactive sources placed directly on top of a windowless CCD?:

The G8 members have large subsidies for solar and wind. Not worthy of their time? They have been spending billions of dollars on it.

Solar innovations and cost cuts: How's that going to work in northern European countries in December? Seattle? Solar power has very a different cost on June 21 at noon in Phoenix than it does on December 21 at midnite in Stockholm.

Your link begs the question whether those leaders are all hopelessly corrupt, hopelessly lazy or hopelessly stupid.

Hey, three out of three ain't bad good!

You all need to calm down, there is nothing to worry about! TEPCO has the cooling system for spent fuel pools 1 - 4 repaired! Let's get out there and build us some more nuclear power plants!



As a welder I know the first rule on stainless steel:

Stainless steel isn't.

Stainless steel is only stainless to a degree and under the right circumstances. Depending on enviornment you need different types of steel. If it don't corode in fresh water it may do in salt water. Or in accid enviornments. Or in extreme temperature enviornment. Or simply because the steel has been tuching ordinary black-steel. I have learnt to never work on stainless steel with tools wich are used to work with black steel. A simple thing like a brush tool has to be made of stanless steel, and my never have tuched black steel. Or else using it on the stainless steel will make it lose its uncorrosive properties. Black and stainless must be kept away from each other.

Then you have such interesting things as spatial corrosion; to pieces of steel tight together, enough to keep air from getting in. Guess what; the surface is no longer stainless, because oxygen do not enter. So if abbration occurs and the protective oxide is removed, you are looking at a piece of coroding steel. Thus we have all kind of stainless corrosion processes such as abrasive corrosion, tension corrosion and off course the above mentioned spatial one.

Bottom line is; the steel is only stainless in the enviornment it was designed for, if it is treated as expected. There is lots of ways to make stainless steel corrode. And I bet those reacors where not built for meltdowns, beeing filled with sea water and left to do its own things for months in a row.

Chlorine is bad for stainless steel. The reactors were designed for meltdowns but no one expected them to fill it with sea water.

Live real time video feed from Fukushima Daiichi (from TBS/JNN - Tokyo Broadcasting System/Japan News Network)


Not quite as exciting to watch as Scandi ROV1. Doesn't seem to be a lot of exciting links on this open thread. Does that mean the Japanese are doing a great job of keeping a lid on this?


Tepco has been withholding data on radiation from Dai-Ichi, Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Japan’s prime minister, said at a press briefing today.


At a press conference Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano denied accusations of a "cover-up," but admitted the government needed to take seriously "the criticism that we haven't done enough to provide and circulate information."

The most exciting or unusual thing I have noted is this account of parents protesting at the MoE.

Now, I am not a Japanologist, just a mild Japanophile. But open conflict is not something that -- as I understand it -- most respectable Japanese people engage in lightly. For these parents to come out in open opposition and challenge to the Authorities, with signs and placards, some with undisguised anger, is a big deal. The health of their children is threatened and a primary human priority has been triggered.


I remain bemused by the pro-nuke shills' insistence that life without "infinite" 24x7 electricity is unthinkable. They remind me of some B-movie comedy character (a composite of many B movies I have seen): the Richie Rich type who due to (amusing) circumstances is forced to live like an ordinary person and has a complete meltdown (pun intended) because he just "can't live" without his custom bespoke shoes, giant Italian espresso machine, 3 sports cars, housekeeper and maid, etc. etc.

I was talking to an old friend of mine last night (we go back over 30 years) and we were agreeing soberly that we would far rather have electricity only 18 hrs a day -- maybe less than that -- than see more nuke plants built or more coal burned. The plain fact is that people can live and have lived quite happily without nonstop electronic stimulation, entertainment, controlled environments, automated gadgets, private cars, etc. Those things are luxuries, not necessities. What we cannot live happily without are much more basic things like food, potable water, healthy children. The nuke shills imho are ranting pointlessly about the imperative to preserve stuff that we don't really need -- not as individuals and not as a civilisation -- while their policies imperil the things that everyone does really need (like democracy, health, glasnost, a place to call home, arable land, potable water, fish, etc) Same goes for the coal shills of course. They are really on the same team (the BAU Infinite Planet Theory working group).

I'm all for electricity. LED lighting sure beats exterminating the last whale on earth for a whale oil lamp. I love the LED lighting on my boat. I think a good use of what industrial plant we can preserve would be to roll out as much LED lighting, solar panels, wind generators, microhydro turbines, etc. as we can. But we *need* so much less electricity and fossil energy than we are constantly hectored and persuaded into consuming. And much of what we now use does us not good, but harm (take "factory food" for example which is tangled in a web of escalating externalised public health costs as well as vastly expensive in energy).

Much of what we (I am just over 50) grew up with, culturally, were the assumptions of a brief blip of massive wealth accumulation and resource extraction, an irrational exuberance like a lottery win, that spawned the equivalent of Pyramids and other colossal architecture, a civilisation at its giddy peak of resource consumption. With resources to burn, wealth to spare, there's no need to count costs or trade off one priority against another. Hey, even the poor can be bribed with bread and circuses to keep quiet while their masters party hearty. But when resources run scarce and complexity reaches the limit of human managerial competence (not to mention the moral decay that seems to set in during periods of exuberant resource-liquidation), suddenly grownups are needed to make mature choices for the good of the whole family. I think the dirigible engineers and their impressive but fragile and costly toys are a reflection of this transient "golden age" of technomanagerial and financial exuberance, like an expensive Italian sports car bought at the height of a stockbroker's gambling successes which becomes an unmaintainable burden and embarrassment after the market crashes.

Continuing the metaphor: enviros are like the anxious, reality-checking wife of the arrogant, hubristic broker, constantly nagging that we should move to a more reasonable-sized house, take the kids out of private school, reduce our debt, sell that damn sports car, get real :-) for our own sake and the childrens'. The technomanagers and their shills are like the broker fantasising that his next gamble will pay off big, quitchabitchin, don't worry your pretty little head about it, just you wait and see, next time he'll really get it right...

Yes, we must all step back and appreciate just how brief the fossil energy blip appears on a time scale of thousands of years.

Like a flashbulb, it has lasted just for an instant.

Our ancestors did fine in the past and our descendants will make do in the future. We are the only ones who have a problem with darkness.

really from


The life expectancies at birth listed below take account of infant mortality but not pre-natal mortality (miscarriage or abortion).

Humans by Era Average Lifespan at Birth
(years) Comment
Upper Paleolithic 33 At age 15: 39 (to age 54)[6][7]
Neolithic[8] 20
Bronze Age and Iron Age[9] 26
Classical Greece[10] 28
Classical Rome[10] 28 At age 15: 37 (to age 52)
Pre-Columbian North America[11] 25-30
Medieval Islamic Caliphate[12] 35+
Medieval Britain[13][14] 30 At age 21: 38 (to age 59) as an average for British aristocrats [15]
Early Modern Britain[9][16] 15-30 ;
Early 20th Century[17][18] 30-45
Current world average[19] 67.2 2010 est.

Sometimes, mainly in the past, life expectancy increased during the years of childhood, as the individual survived the high mortality rates then associated with childhood. Surviving childhood would dramatically affect life expectancy. For instance, the table above listed life expectancy at birth in Medieval Britain at 30. A male member of the English aristocracy at the same period could expect to live, having survived until the age of 21[15]:

* 43 years → 64 years total between 1200 and 1300
* 24 years → 45 years total between 1300 and 1400 (due to the impact of the Black Death)
* 48 years → 69 years total between 1400 and 1500
* 50 years → 71 years total between 1500 and 1550.

While different sample attributes and sizes, methodologies, and theoretical assumptions produce sometimes notable variations, in general, interpretations of the available data indicate that the occurrence of older age became more common late in human evolution.[7][20] This increased longevity is attributed by some writers to cultural adaptations rather than phylogenetic change,[21] although some research indicates that during the Neolithic Revolution there was a selection effect of extrinsic mortality risk upon genotypic expressions favouring increased longevity in subsequent populations.[8] Nevertheless, all researchers acknowledge the effect of cultural adaptations upon life expectancy.[20]

During the early 1600s in England, life expectancy was only about 35 years, and two-thirds of all children died before the age of four.[22] The average life expectancy in Colonial America was under 25 years in the Virginia colony,[23] and in New England about 40% of children failed to reach adulthood.[24] During the Industrial Revolution, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically.[25] The percentage of children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730-1749 to 31.8% in 1810-1829.[26][27]

Public health measures are credited with much of the recent increase in life expectancy. During the 20th century, the average lifespan in the United States increased by more than 30 years, of which 25 years can be attributed to advances in public health.[28]

In order to assess the quality of these additional years of life, 'healthy life expectancies' have been calculated for the last 30 years. Since 2001, the World Health Organization publishes statistics called Healthy life expectancy (HALE), defined as the average number of years that a person can expect to live in "full health", excluding the years lived in less than full health due to disease and/or injury. Since 2004, Eurostat publishes annual statistics called Healthy Life Years (HLY) based on reported activity limitations. The United States of America uses similar indicators in the framework of their nationwide health promotion and disease prevention plan "Healthy People 2010". An increasing number of countries are using health expectancy indicators to monitor the health of their population.

HALE is an interesting and valid metric IMHO.

By this criterion there are now places in China, f'rexample, where HALE is nearly zero for a significant percentage of the inhabitants because most children are born with pre-existing medical conditions inflicted by massive industrial pollution. Medical technology may be able to keep them alive, but they are not born and will never live in health. Their HALE would have been better pre-industrial revolution, in other words, even if "time spent breathing" was shorter. The shell game of industrialism is trading off quality for quantity, and we seem to be making this trade in human life as well as in the quality of goods.

I wonder what Ukraine's HALE is now.

In a paper published by the Chernobyl Ministry in the Ukraine, a multiplication of the cases of disease was registered - of the endocrine system ( 25 times higher from 1987 to 1992), the nervous system (6 times higher), the circulation system (44 times higher), the digestive organs (60 times higher), the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue (50 times higher), the muscolo-skeletal system and psychological dysfunctions (53 times higher). Among those evaluated, the number of healthy people sank from 1987 to 1996 from 59 % to 18%. Among inhabitants of the contaminated areas from 52% to 21% and among the children of affected parent from 81% to 30%. It has been reported for several years that type I diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) has risen sharply amongst children and youth.


I wholeheartedly agree that we should add up the chronic illnesses inflicted by fossil fuel burning as well. The point is that the filth industries (nuke, coal, oil and all their oil-based chemical annexes) make people ill. Period.

Our life expectancy (TSB) may be spectacularly longer than that of our ancestors, but is our HALE any longer? Most of the spectacularly old people I know who are pushing the statistical curve in this rosy direction, are "kept alive" only by frequent medical intervention, cocktails of drugs, prosthetics, etc. This is a huge cash cow for the technomedical nexus, but is it really "life expectancy"? If the age at which this level of ill health becomes "normal" moves lower and lower, are we not (as a culture) *losing* life expectancy in quite a meaningful way (not to mention either taking on medical support costs we are unlikely to afford, or abandoning m(b)illions to die slowly of their chronic industrially-induced pathologies)?

A frequent claim of the alchemists and technomanagers is that their wizardry has vastly multiplied the number of people on earth (a dubious achievement at best) and extended our lifespans. If their works -- and our enthusiastic endorsement of them -- have enabled a multiplication that exhausts planetary resources and simultaneously rendered us and our descendants sickly and chromosomally damaged, how grateful -- how proud -- should we be?

Big Boom followed by Big Crash is not all that impressive. Any yeast colony can do that. What would be really impressive would be steady state prosperity with mature, realistic acceptance of limits: i.e. a climax ecosystem, not a transient succession state.

As we humans slide down the other side of the fossil energy supply curve, our life quantity and quality numbers will head downhill as well. Hopefully not as far down as they were in the Neolithic or Middle Ages, given the medical, technological and social wisdom that we have managed to accumulate during the past few millennia.

Over the course of the next century, it will be more and more difficult to find non-fossil energy and feedstock equivalents for many of our high-technology processes and materials. Nuclear power won't save us in the long run, no matter how well managed any newly designed reactor systems and their waste products may become. The mining, extraction and processing of uranium is too dependent on cheap energy. Besides, uranium and other fissile materials are fossil fuels too, each with their very own depletion curve.

Five hundred years out, our average lifestyle parameters will likely fall somewhere between those of the Iron Age and the Age of Steam, depending on how effective we are in conserving our raw materials and technical knowledge, how determined we are in developing renewable energy sources, and how fortunate we are in adapting to changing climatic and ecological conditions.

Since it seems that it's all the water being pumped into the leaking reactors that is spreading the most contamination, maybe it's time to stop pumping! If the cores have melted, the real damage has already been done and the water is just making it worse.

Cores 2 and 3 are still putting out about 2MW each (somewhat less at 1). What do you think will happen if water flow is stopped?

Why not bury all three reactors in lead and let them simmer under the lead?

At Chernobyl the reactors were buried in lead and the corium mixed with sand and turned to glass.

I think they don't want to do any irreversible things. If there is a risk of criticality (and subsequent explosion), they won't be able to undo the lead thing.

They can't keep pumping water there forever. The Oklo natural reactors in South Africa ran off-and-on for an estimated 100,000 years. Human civilization is on a much shorter time track, maybe decades or less, at this level of complexity. With time, the radiation from the corium will continue to build, and could make these masses completely unapproachable, if not already the case. The risk of a further explosion and atmospheric spread of fuel plus fission products is certainly nonzero and the clock's ticking. Fuku may have been a rare natural disaster one-two punch to "nucular" power, and then maybe not so rare, considering the fragile state of affairs exposed, so to speak.

Globally, the nuclear power industry is in a zombie state, dead but no one has told them. Clock's ticking on decommissioning all these dangerous reactors, as well. Nuclear power is a not an independent energy alternative to fossil fuel. Running out of oil is proving to be a global bitch.

Oklo's natural reactor didn't receive a steady diet of borated water. As the water evaporates at the contact of the corium, it leaves boron inside, so more and more neutron absorbing material gets in. This is like inserting a control bar. At some point, the fission (if there was ever one) will stop.
They will keep pumping water until natural convection in the building is enough to dissipate heat. We are talking about years, not decades, and even less millenia. Fuel can be cooled by air convection in dry casks after a few years in pools.

You're assuming that the water is not running right back out again, which does not appear to be a valid assumption.

They are building a processing plant. Then they can just circulate the water. The problem is manageable now.

They said so, and you believed it.

It's like a perfect, balanced equation! Brilliant!

The Japanese aren't stupid or powerless. While core meltdowns are always bad for you, these ones have passed their best-before date two months ago. I don't see any reason for recriticality, and thus it's a matter of time before this turns into a cleaning operation.

I don't see any reason for recriticality, and thus it's a matter of time before this turns into a cleaning operation.

Oh, I see, no worries then, eh mate? Just grab a mop and a bucket and we'll have this place spick and span in no time.

Ask this guy what he thinks... of Thing One and Thing Two.


Love that Dr. Suess Cat-in-the-Hat analogy! Pink plutonium. The Japanese might tire of paying big money to the French to clean the cooling water after a few years pass. That's assuming no more "Oh no's", which seem to pop up every week or so.

The operation is big, costly and will take a long time, but there can be no doubt regarding the outcome. The fish thing I didn't get.

I think the outcome thing you don't get, either.

There is considerable doubt about it. Your credulousness is just astonishing.

Well, with decreasing radiation trends and cooling fuel, along with two months of improving infrastructure, getting equipment in place, successful fresh water injection, learning, planning and so on, the null hypothesis should be that things will improve further.

The fish thing I didn't get.

Then you really need to educate yourself about Theodor Seuss Geisel's body of work. Hint, he wasn't just a writer of children's books. He was also a grade A political cartoonist and about as politically incorrect as it was possible to be.

You could start here: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax


Here's one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quote:

'Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind

"Globally, the nuclear power industry is in a zombie state, dead but no one has told them. Clock's ticking on decommissioning all these dangerous reactors, as well."

I really cant see us decommissioning reactors on mass, nor stopping the development of nuclear power, it will continue regardless of this disaster.

Our civilisation is based on consumption, consumption requires power. There is no politically acceptable way to transition, the public will always vote to increase their living standards, it's a one way ticket.

Individually we may be intelligent, collectively we are dumb.

In about 10 to 20 years time, if not sooner, when oil gets scarce, I'm predicting the global nuclear power industry will have a difficult time maintaining service to all those reactors. These facilities presume a complex, advanced society will always be there to take care of them. The rapid collapse of the former Soviet Union was a warning shot. I recall many of their nuclear power plant workers continued to show at work on a voluntary basis. What if they did not feel so inclined, or had other pressing matters, like feeding themselves and family? Fortunately, they foresaw the consequences.

Yesterday, I saw a police car in a small California town I'm visiting with the word "volunteer" painted on the side, and an older man driving it. How long can we keep that going? See a trend? It would be prudent to back away from potentially lethal societal endeavors while we still can do so. I don't think reliance upon the government or military to take care of these matters in an emergency is a smart approach. Fukushima is providing us with lots of valuable lessons.

Volunteer police departments are not inevitable -- they are a result of artificially constrained government taxation, which California has quite a bit of (Prop 13, in all its super-majority-requiring forms). We're plenty wealthy and can afford to run our governments well, if we choose to.

I really cant see us decommissioning reactors on mass, nor stopping the development of nuclear power, it will continue regardless of this disaster.

I can give you a scenario in which we will decommission reactors and do it quickly.

One more serious incident, especially if it is in Western Europe or the US.

We're already at a point where wind is cheap power and solar should be there in a few more years. Fill in their 'low points' with storage, load-shifting, geothermal, hydro and gas peakers and then then cook one more nuclear plant.

Glow-in-the-dark game over.

In reality, there will be coal.

In reality, there already IS coal, happily chugging along beside Nuclear.

If two men are pointing guns at me, I'm not going to be satisfied getting away from just one of them.

Then you're not going to be satisfied.

Could be.. I might well even be dead from it.. but the point is, I have TWO objectionable electricity sources, neither one is defensible, and so I will oppose both.

It's a pity that the result of that choice has proven, again and again, to be that we retain the source that is an order of magnitude or two more harmful than the other. That's what Germany is doing now.

We've got spent fuel pools all over the country that are straining with loads far beyond their design capacity. The reactor near Joplin was already determined to be unready for a large Twister, and was just narrowly missed by a large twister.

We get the wrong flood, the wrong drought, the wrong blackout, the wrong reassessment on allowable corrosion thickness for steam-transfer pipes, and we're in the soup with Japan and Chernobyl.

One is harmful all the time and all over the place, the other has left loaded guns lying on the ground all over the place, and you like them because only a few have been picked up and fired so far.. but the longer they're out there, the more coin-flips they endure..

They are building a processing plant. Then they can just circulate the water. The problem is manageable now.

What materials does the reprocessing remove? You have no idea as Areva has not said. And there is a rather large distinction between capturing the water and what you do with it afterwards. If you cannot capture it then it doesn't matter if you could have reprocessed it or not.

They add chemicals to remove the short lived radionuclides to reduce the radiation fields and then they reuse the water in the reactor cooling.

This has all been made pubic if you goole it.

Wonderful. Except that they have uncontrolled leaks, the cores have melted down and there are likely holes in the PV and/or the containment. And the short lived stuff isn't really the big problem.

How does that square with "Then they can just circulate the water. The problem is manageable now."?

The nuclear supporters of today live in the exact same fantasy world as those of the 1960's and 1970's. Both used/use the exact same soothing phrases to assure us that their version of nuclear hell is completely safe and harmless.

And don't think I let the coal plants off either, they have their own fantasy world of "clean coal". We need to use less, MUCH less of both.

Would you prefer they dump this water into the sea after they remove the isotopes? First off you do not know what leaks they have in their basement nor do they. a hole in the pressure vessel is not a hole in the containment which is not a hole in the basement or trench. We do know water is leaking in there and into the trenches and from there or some other spot some is getting to the ocean. any amount of isotopes they can remove will not be going into the sea.

I did not say they had a perfect system only the point that they were keeping everyone in the dark about the process.

I objected to the statement that this is now a manageable problem, which it is not in any way. Your comments support that assertion.

So then do you support completion of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility?

I'd still pick nuclear over coal seven days a week. The climate change thing is threatening to cause damage only evolution can repair, and that in a matter of millions of years. 20 to 100 or so. Even if everything that can go wrong with nuclear go wrong tomorrow, we are still looking at a clanup period only a fraction of that.

I am more worried about stressed societies using guns to remove competing consumers to force the economical contraction to mostly happen to somebody else, that would be the major disaster.

At Chernobyl, the reactor was an open pit, so it was possible to throw solid material. In Fukushima, the only entry point so far are liquid and are certainly no made to get molten lead through.

So in Chernobyl they benefitted from a big blast that removed debree and made the reactor core more easily accessable. Interesting.

You want to remove the fuel eventually. Unless you want it to continue to leak for a very long time.

Adding sand and lead would make a mass of granite or basalt not glass. There is a lot of metal in the mix which would make a very hard rock to crack.
besides, I am not sure you can get access to the core to add sand or lead to it. the vessel still has a lid on it.

Perhaps it's time to reconsider flooding the whole site?

At Chernobyl the reactors were buried

And afterwards analysis showed that premature burial makes things worse. It precludes access to the mess.

You're talking about an incredible volume of lead, and lead is a highly toxic material...no one should even *handle* lead with bare skin. Chernobyl did not have the mass of semi-intact active and spent fuel rods left behind as Fukushima does (in the case of the former, most of the reactor core was simply blasted up into the atmosphere). Another commenter was correct to point out that burial is a final, irreversible act; at what point you do the burial - and with what - would be extremely critical decisions. Some weeks back I contemplated burial with scrap aluminum in what I thought would become a molten environment with a solid perimeter and a hard impermeable oxide shell, until someone pointed out that the ignition temperature and melting point of aluminum are kind of close together and that burning aluminum can reach 5000F easily...never mind...

True, lead is toxic. I can remember some info about lead being vaporised into the air because the reactor was too hot. Chernobyl liquidators had a taste of metal in their mouth for awhile.

Most of the lead missed it's target: a clump of material supported on what had become a ledge or mesa. The lead probably did not boil-off into a vapor in large quantities. This comes from articles tracing lead uptake downrange as versus radionuclide adsorption.

The metal taste in the mouth was from direct radiation. Those who worked on the roof too long sneezed blood. It was screaming amounts of radiation. It ate-up the vacuum-tube based radiation-hardened remote-handlers, telechirs or "robots"... so "bio-robots" were used: people.

The Battle for Chernobyl:

Fukushima is a different situation. Three reactor fuel loads have turned into three lavas and piles of loose debris. They are seriously radioactive. They are protected by steel vessels that shield them from any direct access. If the "cooling" water is stopped, the vapors coming off the lava will loft into the air or bubble through a pile. The water entrains the particulate plume and carries it away into the building basements through the myriad of holes. That is why there is so much radiation coming off of the water. Crud in the water gets activated, too. Is this correct? Boron does nothing for this situation directly. There is little neutron radiation. The heat is from decay of products made during the time the reactor was running normally.

They could just wait for it to cool. The cost of dealing with the scrubbing water may be too high.

The big masses could be divided into many smaller clumps or bars having lots of exposed surface area so that water running past them would actually be able to remove the heat. How?


So the metal taste was coming from blood? That's not what I originally though but works nonetheless.

I know that if they dropped lead on the reactor, the first kg would absolutely reach 2000 C or higher, thus vaporise into the air, not all payloads would vaporise, but the first might have. From there I could imagine a perceptible taste from this.

Regarding activation, I think you need neutron radiation to do so. The water is contamined by fission products however. As long as it's liquid, it's more manageable then in gas1.

Lot of learning will come from this, I feel they are just improvising as they go.

1 http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/04/21/chemist-i-can-clean-fukush...

Yes, you are right, it takes neutrons to produce radionuclides.

I wrote confusingly;

The metallic taste may have come from the direct stimulation of nerves by radiation or by alteration. The taste buds are sensitive to radiation. The radiation was so intense that it would also cause hemorrhaging of the mucosa. Too, it can make flashes in the eye by Cerenkov radiation when the particles exceed the speed of light in water, the aqueous humor that fills the eye. High magnetic fields, when swept at least 2 Tesla per second, also have a metallic taste and can make flashes of light.


Lead is mentioned

"You can taste fission":

Thresholds for perceiving metallic taste at high magnetic field:

no one should even *handle* lead with bare skin

Oh crap, i'm done with.

Take a look at a few pages of recent headlines at the EneNews repository: http://enenews.com/

Ya, as someone commented in the last thread, the links are great, even if the comments are pretty far out in the butterscotch zone.

Or I hope so, anyway. No one here has been talking much about eternal nuclear geysers or ELEs.

Right? I mean, that's not going to happen, correct? Or probably not? (*gulp*)

I did stop by that site last night and try to gently encourage those folks to chill out just a teeny tiny bit-- not that I pretend to have a better idea than anyone else what will happen when corium hits concrete or the water table. A few folks there seemed on the brink of utter, raving panic, and I can't imagine how that would be useful.

I do find myself feeling vaguely affectionate towards even the wildest crackpots over there... probably a sure sign that I need a psych eval myself...

just laff. that's about all you i and we can do :)

So hmmm. We have one, count it, one power plant which, thanks to a cascading failure situation (these things do happen even with the best of planning, and any sketchiness just makes them happen more interestingly), now threatens to inflict management/cleanup costs exceeding the budget of an advanced industrial nation.

How many more of these GE designs are there out there?

Is it the Hindenberg Moment yet?

TEPCO admits 94 percent of fuel melted in Unit 3

Weren't they telling us a month ago that none of the fuel melted, or only a very small amount?


So is the situation stable? getting worst? under control?

It seems to me that things have been under control for a few weeks now, radiation levels are stable.

Is there any release of long lived radioactive stuff?

What are the danger of radioactive sea water being released?

As far as I can tell the following are all unknown:

1) temperature in reactors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
2) radiation levels in reactors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
3) water levels in reactors 1, ,2 ,3 4, 5, 6
4) leakage rates in reactors 1, 2, 3,4 ,5, 6
5) structural state of reactors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Amount of water flushed into the sea to date.
Current rate of water flushing into the sea.
Radiation content of water flushing into the sea.
Radiation content begin vented into the atmosphere.
Map of surface radiation as a function of distance from plant out to say 1000km.

Crap. You're right.

Wasn't some of this information formerly on the IAEA site-- at least the temperatures at the feed nozzle and bottom of the pressure vessel.

I just checked my bookmark for them, and got 403 Forbidden. Tried to google my way in, and same deal.

Maybe it's just me, and y'all are having better luck.

This is pretty useless.
Numbers are not given, just nonsense.
"Stable" pressure means open to the atmosphere.
Temperature is "rising/falling"


Here are some numbers:
Today's press release "Seismic Damage Information(the 150th Release)(As of 12:00 May 26, 2011":
Conditions of Fukushima Dai‐ichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1-6(As of 6:00 May 26, 2011:

Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) 1
Feedwater Nozzle Temperature
(under monitoring of the
change of the situation)
Temperature at the bottom head
of RPV :97.2℃

1,2, and 3 are reported as being about the same.

Hmm. So maybe the FW nozzle and other locations where temperature is measured are not so relevant now, as the fuel is in the drywell or otherwise elsewhere. Something like that? Forgive me, it's late, not thinking clearly.

Thanks for the link, Kali, is cool looking at this and remembering when they were actually reactors instead of whatever they are now.

NewPeak guy

In answer to your questions,

1) the situation has been getting worse from day 1. It has NEVER been "under control"

2) "under control" if you mean pouring in desperation hundreds of tons of water onto hundreds of tons of melted & semi-melted nuclear fuel & watching the highly radioactive water evaporate as steam or disappear into the ocean. Repeat, This has never been under control. Radiation levels are stable: not so. There have been spikes possibly caused by probable re-criticality & reported as such by Tepco itself.

3) Is plutonium with a half life of 28,000 years long lived enough to qualify. Answer: Yes

4) Hundreds of tons of highly (uranium & plutonium) contaminated sea water has been released & continues to be released even as we blog.

I always wonder why when we talk about nuclear fallout from reactors we talk about plutonium. Basically, it's a metal, so it dosen't goes into the air, it's just sits here like any metal you've seen.

In an atomic bomb, that can be different, since its blown up into the air and heated to 10 million degree C, well, enough to trigger fusion. At that temparature, you can bet it's a gas and is dispersed far more easily then in metal form.

Furthermore, ceasiums are far more dangerous, common and are in gaseous forms, why does plutonium keep getting pointed at?

Cesium is good - used for medicine. Plutonium is bad - used for weapons. Mmmkay?

I made a mistake a few threads back.
I have since read the number 150 million degrees C as the temperature achieved in a nuclear bomb blast.

IMHO there would appear to be a 'P' missing after the second 'U' in the 5th word of the title.


What a relief that no one died in the nuclear plant accident, but what a grief that the world will not understand that the threat of missing oil supply is imminent. There is no other way to go than to go nuclear. All green aspirations are dreams in vain.
Some countries have experimented with wind power, Denmark in more than 40 years, and the results are nil.
In order to convince all the world of the usefulness of windmills the windmill industry and attached scientists use the so called EE-values to prove that windmills can pay their invested energy back several times. However, these values only count a fraction of the total energy input. If they dared to use the only value which represents the total amount of energy invested this value - the sales price - would tell us with absolutely clarity that windmills can never return the energy invested.
A windmill park (Horns Rev 1, North See Denmark) was sold at approx 380 million US-dollars (2002). In the upstart year year 2002 the cost of 1 kWh was approx. US-dollars 0.05. Instead of the money you could get 7600 million kWh. Over the years the windmill park produces 600 million kWh per year. Consequently it takes approx. 12 years before all the 7600 million coal black kWh are repaid. But the windmills nearly stand still 100 days a year so they have to pay for backup, too. And for operation and maintenance and decommissioning. And the birds do not like them either!
Instead of green aspirations the world would do better in developing new, small, efficient, modular nuclear plants to be placed in the vicinity of cities so that the waste heat can be turned into useful heat.

He tries again.

"Some countries have experimented with wind power,"

Ahem, Nils, Wind is being installed at a phenomenal rate, all over the globe. 9.3 GW went into the EU last year alone. It's hardly an 'experiment', though parts of it are regularly being tested and refined.

The world will get wise to these glowing, green promises that Nuclear Advocates have been pushing for decades.

Jeez! No words (in keeping with the commenters guidlines) suffice.

OK, Niels, your BAU, growth based society is DYING, and your level of denial is remarkable. Less energy, fewer resources, fewer people is the future, or humans won't have one,,so lay back and enjoy it.

One billion? Is my son among them?

Who knows. However, your denial is not improving his odds, if we fall back that far. I won't live to see that number.

Actually, his denial IS improving his odds. We should shoot for Star Trek. Giving up and going Amish would be guaranteed failure.

False Choice.

When did he say 'We should go Amish'??

You keep painting stereotypes.. it weakens your point.

The library at Alexandria had the basic information needed to go into space. I read this as a kid. They didn't have nuclear power. The Star Trek future didn't have money.

The wind turbines make power. Does anyone care to argue that point? They convert wind energy into electrical energy. Just because the costs of a, presently, limited-volume production engine do not match the costs of digging pure energy out of the earth does not deny the fact that energy is made available into the future for only the cost of maintaining the wind turbines. Wind turbines are not even yet assembled on hard automation or robotic assembly lines.

It is better to have power than to not have power.
It is better to have a garden environment that not.
Nuclear promises both. Humans can't be trusted with it.
Coal for industry and oil for transportation is a short-lived game and kills life.
Los Alamos National Labs U.S. Energy Flow Diagram:
Smaller version:

Green is oil going mostly to transportation.
Black is coal going mostly to make electricity.
Light blue is natural gas.

Here is a site that shows yesterday's energy production in California:
Wind usually makes tens of gigawatt-hours in a day. Renewables, as a group, often outdo nuclear in California.

The lowest number you quote on your site is near 10GWh. It more normally produces about 35GWh per day in California, which you allude to as well.

Yesterday, wind made 44 Giga Watt hours
44,000,000,000 watt-hours
Enough to power 44 million one-kilowatt room heaters.

Renewables outdid nuclear by producing half-again as much power in California with no permanent waste problem.

The worst case drop off I cited at that link was down to 0.5% of nameplate capacity. Suppose average output is 35% of nameplate. Then a drop-off to 0.5% from average is a drop-off to about 1.5% of average. It is an even bigger drop-of from peak.

Daily output: That's going to show less variation than hourly or momentary output. So it understates the problem.

Biggest variation are over days, not during the days themselves:

1- They are relatively predictable and the weather tends to stay the same during a single day.

2- Electricity storage is easier inside a 24 h range than in a 168 h (a week) range, obviously. And further easier inside a 1 h range.

Something you should be considering as a parent. I have two small boys, and frankly I'm getting a little Hanna with them if you know what I mean. Wrestling, firearms, hunting and butchering, that kind of thing (along with art history, vocabulary, music etc.). Your kids and mine will be scratching each others eyes out in 25 years, metaphorically or perhaps literally, in a resource scarcity scenario that's difficult for us to imagine right now.

Have a great weekend!

Clearly most of the water that was pumped into the plant since mid March has gone into the ocean and the ground. The plant has more leaks than a wicker basket and all the talk about plugging leaks and storing water is mostly PR stuff. It may also be lucrative. AREVA has now come up with a system to treat (decontaminate) some stored water. Unfortunately the details of their treatment system and the details of the contract cannot be disclosed. The system may be meant to eliminate cesium and nothing else. The cost is also the subject of much talk. The site http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/ writes: "TEPCO said the details of the AREVA's water processing system were "not to be disclosed, due to the contractual obligation." http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/05/tepco-areva-contract-to-treat.html

"TEPCO claims AREVA's water processing facility will be ready in June and that will solve all kinds of problems. The cost of processing the contaminated water allegedly demanded by AREVA is 200 million yen (US$2.44 million) **per tonne.** (More about the shady AREVA contract later.)" http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/05/highly-contaminated-water-probably.html

So we have a corporation (TEPCO) in complete charge of dealing with a global and extremely serious public health issue, dealing as secretly as it wishes with other corporations, encouraged by its government to withhold information from the public, which of course will end up paying the (so far secret) cost of the (so far secret) treatments. We have the usual choir of industry shills telling everyone that things are okay. We have governments and health organizations refusing to monitor radiation and raising all previous safety levels.

In retrospect, Chernobyl, with all its initial cover up the first few days after the accident, seems now like a model of transparency and expediency once the government took charge of the situation.

Found this chart:

NNSA DOE Dose Map Fukushima

1 mrem = 0.01 mSv, so the red area is > 20 mSv/year which the yearly limit for nuclear worker.

Difficult to compare to Chernobyl, the measurement are in Becquerel:

Chernobyl radiation map 1996

I'm not seeing much discussion of the super-typhoon now bearing down on the area. What kind of damage might that inflict. Won't it blow radioactivity toward Tokyo?


That's not going to be helpful, is it? Big storms were inevitable though, and there will be many more to pass over before they get any kind of containment there. If they ever do.

Of course all containment is temporary, and such storms are one way the waste will be spread from every site where nuclear waste is present to the land surrounding it.

the super-typhoon now bearing down on the area.

Jeff Masters has some. Essentially water temps drop dramatically as you go north, so it should be seriously weakened. It will probably be a tropical storm if it hits the area. So we are talking basically heavy rains. Being that they have beem pours tons of water over the mess for months, will it make any difference? Maybe it means the various storage areas will fill up quicker.

Rinse away some of the contamination.


Or mudslides, or some of the newer support equipment that is holding things together with threads might get shorted, or it washes out a critical access road, or the grid again...

'Maybe it won't be all that bad?' is a hell of an approach for emergency preparation.


"Storm sparks nuclear fears in Japan

...The typhoon has brought heavy rain to Fukushima, prompting fears that run-off water may wash away radioactive materials into the Pacific. Plant operator Tepco has been pouring synthetic resins over the complex to prevent radioactive deposits from being swept away"


"Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan 'unready for typhoon'

..."We have made utmost efforts, but we have not completed covering the damaged reactor buildings," a Tepco official said on Saturday.

"We apologise for the lack of significant measures against wind and rain," the official added"

Fukushima radiation monitoring map to be made

Japan’s science ministry has decided to draw up a map showing radiation levels in soil of Fukushima Prefecture, following the disasters at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The ministry is to start surveying radiation levels at more than 2,200 locations across the prefecture at the beginning of June....

The ministry plans to survey every 4 square kilometers within 80 kilometers of the plant, and every 100 square kilometers elsewhere.

25 universities and research institutions across the country are to take part in the survey.

The participants are to collect soil samples 5 centimeters below the surface and submit results to the ministry.

The ministry plans to release the map by the end of August.

Their sense of urgency is ........?!

It is an experiment that nurishes on subsidies and goodwill - nothing else.

You make it sound like Nuclear is self-supporting.

Besides, windpower and solar have a range that includes countless approaches that (Billions) of people can do themselves in their yards and on their rooftops. The subsidies are only necessary to overcome the unfair advantage of cheap petroleum, and its effect of keeping consumers falsely satisfied. It's advantages are clear.

African Windmill from Bike Parts

Build It Solar - projects.. don't look down!

Homebrew Windmill Designs and Advice - no subsidy or goodwill required

Nuclear is dangerous, and it's a function of monopolistic business philosophy, so I would say it is economically toxic as well... further, it can only be held aloft by big money and big oil, and when it falls, it's all too clear that it falls hard.

You cannot build a modern society on used bike parts or homebrewed windmill designs - yes, nuclear can be dangerous, and so can life - the most dangerous energy is no energy. And you are right, the amount of money to be investede in future nuclear plants is abslolutely gigantic and the development has to funded by governments and big business. But that is much better than deceiving ourselves with The Emperor's New Clothes in form of windmills with a negative energy balance. (A private "house windmill" must have more than 60 years to return the energy invested).

Nuclear plants as we se them today are not at all efficient enough - the can only repay the energy invested 3-4 times. We must achieve a pay back factor of 10. In that respect we need the combined intelligence of thousands of scientists.

Go find your own private planet to irradiate! Leave this one where I live alone!

Why dream of a 10x EROEI when we already have double that in the real world?

EROI = (cumulative electricity generated) / (cumulative primary energy required)

This article reviews 119 wind turbines from 50 different analyses, ranging in publication date from 1977 to 2006. This survey shows average EROI for all studies (operational and conceptual) of 25.2 (n=114; std. dev=22.3). The average EROI for just the operational studies is 19.8 (n=60; std. dev=13.7).


Do note - wind turbines continue to increase in efficiency, so we probably passed 19.8 a few years past 2006.

No, I know these calculations very well - you can se the lastest here - it is a pretty large 3 MW Vestas windmill:


(Refer on the bottom of page: 3 MW onshore/offshore - pdf written in English)

They use EE-values and EE-values do not tell anything at all about the TOTAL energy input in a windmill, these values include maybe only 3 % of the total energy consumption.

If you take the SALES PRICE of the new nuclear plant in Finland with a capacity of 1600 MWe and convert this sales price of approx. 8.5 billion US-dollar into kwh (approx 8,5 billion : 0,076) i.e. 72 billion kwh and then assume that the plant will work with 7000 full load hours a year in 60 years you will get about 670 billion kwh - but of course you have to reduce this number with the costs of the extremely expensive decommissioning + fuel + operation + maintenance and you end up with an eroei of 3-4 which indeed is not very impressive but still much better than the windmill park Horns Rev 1 which will never return ist energy invested as much as 1 single time.

Wind farms tend to get built on the highest quality wind sites first. They also get built closer to existing power lines first. So as more sites get developed quality will go down and that will tend to lower EROEI.

As for 20 EROEI: I find this number skeptical because if it was true then I would expect wind power to be much cheaper than it is. Also, wind needs back-up by natural gas fast spin-up sites. That requires additional energy that ought to be considered in wind EROEI calculations.

Wind should only get charged with back-up when/if it reaches a penetration level which requires back-up.

The US grid can accept 20%+ wind as it now exists, higher in the western grid (25%) and Hawaiian grid (35%).

Beyond that, do we include back-up for other types of energy generation when we create the numbers? Coal plants are only on line 85% of the time. Do we charge them for their 15% back-up?

Right now, even coal, nuclear and traditionnal sources need backup, it's just that the prices aren't that strong. Before the recession, we had a massive imbalance between night demand and day peak load, the price was 2.9 cents per kwh at 4 am and 13.3 cents at 4 pm. Hence the need to manage load between day and night. In that case, they might have used hydro or gas turbines.1

Now, that being said, one should watch the market value of wind power (is it available when electricity is worth a lot of money? or when electricity is abundant and cheap?). That alone will determine it's value and the need for "backup" systems. If we see huge spikes and very low prices, the need for backup maybe high, if not, well that's not the case yet.

Usually, the market value 2 of each kwh should go this way:

hydro > gas > solar > coal / biomass > nuclear > wind

Solar is on during the day but is still non dispachable.
Coal is up a little less time then nuclear, so it's likely to be up when most needed.
Nuclear is always on, so it's a yearly average.
Wind is random.

Now that may change if we have imbalances (too much solar), but this should stay roughtly the same.

1 http://www.thewattspot.com/rtsavings.php (click on "Predicted price", 08/07/2007)
2 You take the total electricity sales (using hourly spots prices) and divide by the amount of kwh sold, thus you get the market value of power generated. If you generate only during night, that is expected to be low. If you sell at air conditionner peak demand, that should be higher. Overall, you just generated a single kwh, but it is not always worth the same amount.

Baseload suppliers pay penalties for failing to fulfill contracts. This makes them angry with wind providers who aren't on the hook with dependability guarantees.

20% of grid without backup? Nope. Jim Detmers of CalISO says wind power drops make it far more expensive. This is a grid operator who has to juggle many power sources talking about his frustrations with wind. Read what he has to say. How can a drop to 0.5% of nameplate capacity (as he mentions occurred) work if wind is supposed to be 20% of the grid? No way without a huge back-up capacity.

Coal plants are only on line 85% of the time. Do we charge them for their 15% back-up?

Bob, you have confused capacity factor with reliability. Imagine that someone invents a small dirt cheap 1kW cold fusion cell that can be reliably and predictably run at rated power 1hr per day, zero watts 23hours per day. Imagine that it produces kWh's at an overall cost of 1 cent. By your definition each cell needs backup power 96% of the time. A utility would simply buy enough cells to reliably supply the grid on its peak demand day of the year, and have a highly reliable grid all year long.

We can build an all fossil powered grid, an all hydro powered grid, an all nuclear powered grid. How would you build an all wind powered grid? That is, how do you back up wind power with wind power? It can only be done with enormous storage capacity, and that is not practical with available technology.

The average coal plant in the U.S. is over 40 years old. They can supply some free load leveling now, but what happens to that unpaid wind and solar subsidy as the fossil plants reach end of life? If we invest in windmills and solar cells now, the cost and emissions of building new fossil plants to backup wind and solar should be included in the wind cost.

If we invest the money we are spending on wind and solar in modern nuclear plants instead, we will not have to rebuild the fossil plants, and we will not have to rebuild the wind and solar plants in 25 and 50 years.

We can build an all fossil powered grid, an all hydro powered grid, an all nuclear powered grid.


If we invest the money we are spending on wind and solar in modern nuclear plants instead, we will not have to rebuild the fossil plants, and we will not have to rebuild the wind and solar plants in 25 and 50 years.

Insanity BAU: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...

Albert Einstein

Written by Bill Hannahan:
We can build an all fossil powered grid, an all hydro powered grid, an all nuclear powered grid. How would you build an all wind powered grid?

At the rate humans are consuming them, the production of fossil fuels will peak this century. There is not an infinite supply. Their ability to generate electricity is a momentary blip on the geologic scale while solar is available as long as Sun shines, ~4 billion years. Since their capacity factor approaches zero on a geologic scale, you are probably thinking in terms of a few human generations and ignoring their pollution.

Hydroelectric stations were constructed using fossil fuels to make and transport the concrete. When the reservoirs fill with sediment, maybe electric dredges and dump trucks could be used to restore them and maybe not.

Nuclear power plants were not constructed and do not run only from the electricity they generate. There were critical diesel powered backup generators at Fukushima Diichi that were flooded and ruined. The battery backup only powered the instruments in the control room for a few hours, and to use your argument, it would be expensive and/or difficult to design a fail safe system without diesel that would last for the months needed to cool the fuel rods after an emergency shutdown. Having multiple nuclear power reactors on site is no good as shown by all 6 at Fukushima Diichi being scrapped. It took weeks to restore electricity from the electric power grid and test the flooded equipment. The fire trucks and helicopters are not powered by nuclear generated electricity. If I recall correctly, half of Japanese nuclear power reactors are still shut down in the aftermath of the earthquake on February 11, 2011. They are only reliable until something goes drastically wrong, which demonstrates they are not reliable.

Your notion of constructing an electric utility grid using a single type of electric generator is a mere thought exercise. We do not have such a mono grid, and it would be foolish to make one. It would be best to generate electricity from many types of renewable sources.

An all wind powered grid without storage is possible if the entire planet is interconnected as a single electric grid and the wind capacity is greatly overbuilt. It would work better if all renewable sources were plugged into it. Solar is more predictable than wind. The world is not a stable place and a global electric grid would be subject to geopolitical disruptions similar to the U.S.'s dependance on a foreign supply of crude oil. The U.S. supply of natural gas and then coal will follow the same pattern this century. You do not seem to understand this nor the need for a proactive conversion to something that will provide electricity in the long term.

Bottom line: fossil fuels and radionuclides deplete and pollute. It is debatable whether depletion or pollution will do us in first. Humans need to learn to live within the sustainable carrying capacity of Earth. Get it?

Bob Shaw's question from Phoenix, Arizona: Are humans smarter than yeast?

There was a study mentioned on The Oildrum a while back where the authors had compared wind power generation data from the UK, Spain and Denmark. They were trying to determine how effective it would be to be able to draw wind power from a larger area. What they found is that quite often if it wasn't windy in one country, it wasn't windy in the other countries either. It may be true that it's always windy somewhere in the world, but the cost of building a large enough grid to take advantage of that would be prohibitive. Also keep in mind that the further you have to transport power, the higher the losses are.

What they found is that quite often if it wasn't windy in one country, it wasn't windy in the other countries either.

Don't say this unless you can give a reference.

Within the last couple of weeks, a few of us on TOD did some interesting research based on geographically separated areas and found a mild anti-correlation. This is opposite to what you are saying.

Without data or any proof, you lose.

I still say you cannot do that without building a whole lot of transmission lines. Beside that, at a good wind site the wind blows 30% of the time(common knowledge). A nuclear plant is up 90% of the time. That means you need 3 times the number of windmills as other power plants. that's 3 times the capital expense. which means the power will cost you 3 times as much. The fuel costs of a nuclear plant are minor and with wind there is no fuel costs. so its a matter of how much time your capital is producing power. This determines your costs.


Waste disposal

Lifetime... Why do people quote as if nuclear plants never needed replacing? Most of them are at their end-of-life slope on the bathtub curve in America. The "New, safer units incorporating all that has been learned" are, themselves, replacements, yes?

Tepco’s Corporate Ratings Cut to Junk by S&P:
"Tepco has sought government aid to help cover compensation costs from the disaster at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant"

A bailout from the people. No insurance. No company is willing to take the risk insuring such a venture.

As a peasant, I can't even drive my car without insurance. When cars collide, the area is not ruined for generations.

Radioactive waste is always a problem. Here are the stories of the moment:

(Fast neutron reactors are not common in the commercial scene.)

Report: Radioactive soil in Japan reaches Chernobyl level:
"where a "dead zone" remains 25 years after"

You are being evasive and avoiding an explanation of the interesting data. Please explain the negative correlation.

Definitely a globally connected or even continent-sized electric grid would require a lot of transmission lines. Combine them with electrifying long distance rail to get revenue from electricity, freight and passengers to help reduce and justify the cost.

When the earthquake hit Fukushima Diichi on February 11, 2011, reactors 1, 2 and 3 were running and the other three were already shut down. The Japanese over-built the nukes by at least double at that site. An electric grid is built to supply the peak power demand which means it is already greatly overbuilt for the average power demand. Presently the purpose of installing wind turbines is to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, not to replace them.

If one overbuilds photovoltaic systems by 4 times, one gets all the power needed on a cloudy day, and one only needs to provide storage for overnight when the demand is already low. If PV panels cost 25 cents / rated watt, then it would be easy to overbuild. In time we will learn how much the price of PV will decrease. If one can shift some of the demand to sunny days, then one can overbuild by a smaller amount.

To live within sustainable carrying capacity of the Earth without using nukes or fossil fuels will require people to stop making babies. Well, good luck trying to convince them of that.

Whale oil is renewable. Nuclear power is not. I would say nuclear power is sustainable/scaleable and environmentally sound, whereas whale oil is not. Biomass and hydro are slightly larger resources than whale oil, but otherwise have similar characteristics.

O.K., so you're nuts.
Or you just like attention.
Are you AKA r4ndom? tim73?
Last response from me.

No. No. No. Ok.

To live within sustainable carrying capacity of the Earth without using nukes or fossil fuels will require people to stop making babies.

Good point let's just nuke everyone! Then no one will have any babies, no need to convince anyone after that...

Written by FuturePundit:
To live within sustainable carrying capacity of the Earth without using nukes or fossil fuels will require people to stop making babies.

Yes, too many people. Because we did it without nukes or fossil fuels for tens of thousands of years with less than 1 billion people, I think population reduction, not elimination, is the necessary prerequisite. There are two means: reducing birth rate or increasing death rate.

Regards the 15% down time of coal plants and lower downtimes of nukes (at least the ones operated by Exelon): That's not all at the same time for all coal plants. Most of the downtime of a baseload plant is scheduled. Plus, it can be coordinated between plants. So you can arrange that a bunch of baseload plants don't all go down at once. These plants are designed to be highly dependable and have rare individual unscheduled downtimes that do not correlate. That's what makes them baseload.

Wind isn't baseload when nearly all the wind generators in California can stop generating at the same time.

The US grid can accept wind to the extent that it also builds out lots of natural gas peaking plants.

EROEI is almost completely useless for evaluating the practicality or fitness for any particular purpose of an energy source.

I'm amazed at the negativity of anti-nuclear people. No technology is perfected the first time around. The norm is for unforeseen problems to arise and be corrected in subsequent generations as our scientific and engineering knowledge improves. For example, todays airplanes are vastly safer and reliable than early airplanes. Airplanes have been through so many generations of improvement that a modern airplane actually bears little resemblance to early airplanes.

The reactors at Fukushima were first generation boiling water reactors. While some modifications would have been made after their construction to improve their safety and reliability they are still basically first generation reactors. A lot has been learned over the 40 years since these reactors were built and no one would build a new reactor the same way today. While no one wants to have an accident at a nuclear plant, they do provide a learning opportunity. The TMI accident showed that some of the assumptions about failure modes for a nuclear reactor were incorrect. It was a very sobering experience for those who design and operate nuclear reactors. A lot of changes in how nuclear plants are designed and operated were made as a result of TMI. The accident at Fukushima will provide more lessons for the design of future nuclear plants.

Here in Ontario, Canada I regard wind power and solar power as a joke. We supposedly have over 1600MW of wind power installed right now but almost everytime I check the amount of wind generated power is nominal. As I write this, we are getting 151MW of power from wind -- less than 10% of installed capacity. Well over half our power, 10011MW, is coming from our nuclear plants. Nuclear has been the backbone of our power system for many decades now and there is no way that wind and solar could replace that.

If there is one concern I have about nuclear power, it relates to management, not the technology. I trust the engineers and scientists to do their best to make nuclear power safe and reliable, but I don't trust managers to always listen to what their technical staff are trying to tell them. Bad management decisions certainly contributed to the severity of the accidents at TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

And those bad managers will be with us producing disaster after disaster, far into the future if there continue to be nuclear plants and the resulting waste materials that accumulate endlessly. It doesn't look like there's anybody who has a clue associated with this current disaster, though. Engineer or scientist. Once you are dependent on the industry for your paycheck, it seems that you lose the ability to think.

Socialist nonsense.

No, observation of fact.


It seems to me that distrust of opaque technomanagerial elites is just as much anti-socialist "nonsense" (if we equate socialism with Soviet-style industrial communism, which most people do) as anything else. Industrial Capitalism and Soviet Communism have a lot more in common than people think: they are both Industrial/Taylorist/reductionist/centralist, which in a long view may be a stronger similarity than the fairly trivial difference of how the loot gets distributed. At heart they share the belief in centralised management, infinite growth, a military-centred economy, and an infinite capacity to liquidate natural resources and dump toxicity: what we might call the Religion of the Factory, enforced by the Army. They therefore also share a faith in the decision-making of highly trained managerial elites who suffer from alarmingly narrow specialisation; these elites share an entrenched insularity and opacity, which in the case of the State is called national security concerns and in the case of commerce is called non-disclosure and trade secrets. The attempts by insular elites to manage systems of escalating complexity, and their panicky resort to authoritarianism, repression, writing-off of "expendable" populations, lying, result-fudging, etc. when they become unable to maintain control, are a universal civilisational pattern which imho has nothing to do with transient ideological fads like capitalism and communism. And I do wish jeppen would give it a rest -- the red-baiting, that is, it's so last-century.

To return to the original point, distrust of detached technomanagerial elites, whether governmental or commercial, is not "nonsense" in my book, but good, historically well-informed common sense. Such elites historically, repeatedly, make all the wrong calls when their civilisations enter into a period of crisis. Vide Tainter, Diamond, Gibbon, et al. We have every reason not to trust them now.

if we equate socialism with Soviet-style industrial communism, which most people do

Most yanks, perhaps. I'm a Swede and we don't.

both Industrial/Taylorist/reductionist/centralist,

Not centralist.

a military-centred economy, and an infinite capacity to liquidate natural resources and dump toxicity

Nope, not at all.

To return to the original point, distrust of detached technomanagerial elites, whether governmental or commercial, is not "nonsense" in my book, but good, historically well-informed common sense.

So what do you recommend? How should we decide on what to pursue in energy and related infrastructure?

Gee... Didn't we hear a lot of that crap during the last election? When you don't have anything intelligent to say, just call your opponent a socialist. Works every time. NOT!

YOU said nothing intelligent. My "socialist nonsense" comment was simply pointing out this fact. The situation didn't call for anything else and still doesn't.

No Jeppen.

He said, clearly enough that any number of foolish management mistakes can undo whatever tech wisdom we possess, and put a plant into a dangerous position' (as we saw with the history of Fukushima in recent years) and that this management level exists as an unavoidable reality throughout the industry.

He says that these businesses have a blind spot, and you call him a socialist.

Yes, a lot of that nonsense gets spouted here in the US, especially during campaign season, that of crying 'socialist' whenever an industry is revealed with some troubling and persistent flaws. Pointing out such flaws naturally can only be done by Marxists.

Persistent ranting about the evils of management and money is socialist in my book. If you don't agree, fine. You don't have to.

It's 2011, and I think you are using the 1950 edition of your book. It's time for an update.

What is evil here is the unresponsive, arrogant, self-serving nature of a centralized/authoritarian regime. Whether you are ranting about "evil government" or "evil capitalists" makes no difference. When people manage their affairs in small local groups, there is a different quality to that management. It's more responsive to individual tastes and needs.

On the other hand, when a large remote organization makes decisions on your behalf, they are not going to care. And it doesn't matter whether the head of the large remote organization is a fan of Karl Marx or Adam Smith.

First, there was no ranting about the evils of money. Second, you took a rant about the evils of management mistakes, which are made by people and turned it into a rant against "Management". Then called that "Socialistic". The complaint is about the people in a large organization, when insulated from outside influence, that always seem to make mistakes in such a way as to maximize their own personal gain while at the same time maximizing the damage to others.

Stop acting like a 1950's "communist fighter". Eugene McCarthy is long since dead. His book, which you still seem to be using, has long since been discredited and discarded.

We're also finding out that the notion, so pushed by the politicians (all of them, but stronger on the right) in the US, that a huge corporation can do no wrong is in itself wrong.

By the way, the actual admonition, stated wrongly so often is not against Money itself, but against the Love of Money.

You are confusing Eugene with Joe McCarthy or Charlie McCarthy.
It is a good thing to act like Eugene McCarthy.
Not so much the other two.

Oops, my mistake. You're right, it is Joe. Just seeing that kind of crap just makes me angry at how stupid we can be.

"Persistent ranting about the evils of management and money is socialist in my book. If you don't agree, fine. You don't have to."

Persistent ranting about things like this is "socialist"??? They've known typhoon season is coming! I truly don't know what planet you are from. Not the one I'm from, that's for sure!

Crippled nuke plant not prepared for heavy rain, wind

TEPCO plans to launch the work to put covers on the destroyed buildings in mid-June.

A TEPCO official said, "We have made utmost efforts, but we have not completed covering the damaged reactor buildings. We apologize for the lack of significant measures against wind and rain."

Oh, come on, jeppen!

Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production are publicly or commonly owned and controlled co-operatively, or a political philosophy advocating such a system.[1][2] As a form of social organization, socialism is based on co-operative social relations and self-management; relatively equal power-relations and the reduction or elimination of hierarchy in the management of economic and political affairs.[3][4]

Socialism is an economic system based upon production for use and the direct allocation of economic inputs to satisfy economic demands and human needs (Use-value); accounting is based on physical quantities of resources, some physical magnitude, or a direct measure of labor-time.[5][6] Goods and services for consumption are distributed through markets, and distribution of income is based on the principle of individual merit/individual contribution.[7]
Source Wikipedia

If you don't agree, fine. You don't have to but I sure as hell don't want people with your world views managing our commons.

Yes, socialism can be formulated in ways that make it sound somewhat nice.

Have you given some thought to the idea of voluntary socialist subcultures in a libertarian world? If socialism is a better system, shouldn't it grow in size and start to dominate in such a system, coming from the bottom up?

Even more interesting, would libertarian sub-cultures be possible in a socialist world? Of course not, because the core idea of socialism is to grab the resources of those who aren't socialists.

I sure as hell don't want people with your world views deciding what is our commons.

<< If socialism is a better system, shouldn't it grow in size and start to dominate in such a system, coming from the bottom up? >>

Circular reasoning. You assume that better systems dominate to prove that the better system has dominated.

Interesting speculation about having multiple political system co-exist, however. It's kind of like trying to balance religion, politics, business and culture... very difficult, maybe not impossible.

No circular reasoning. Just asking.

I sure as hell don't want people with your world views deciding what is our commons.

Ok, I'll bite. What exactly do you consider to be our commons and how would you propose to manage it.

BTW, for the record I'm not particularly hung up on socialism or any other ism for that matter. As for things that grow in size, how about cancerous tumors? Are they better than normal cells?! They sure manage to grow like gangbusters until they kill the organism that they are growing in...

What exactly do you consider to be our commons and how would you propose to manage it.

I don't think I have a nice, clear-cut general answer to that question.

As for things that grow in size, how about cancerous tumors? Are they better than normal cells?!

You switched direction of implication here. Voluntary socialist subcultures should grow organically and eventually come to dominate if they are "better", i.e. gives participants higher happiness/satisfaction in their lifes. Assuming people are competent to decide in matters regarding themselves, of course.

Would Tomatoes naturally dominate in your yard, just because they are what we claim are better plants than dandelions? Because we want and need them? No. They need help, and they need protecting against more aggressive but less beneficial plants..

Political and Economic Systems don't rise to the top naturally, with the best ones in the lead. We've got Oligarchy running rampant throughout the world.. BECAUSE It's the Best at GRABBING and HOARDING.

None of the isms should be the Whole Shebang.. but any programs that emphasize sharing of resources, of minimizing inequalities, these are going to be threatening to those who won't get their accustomed profits from such programs, and they are attacked and vilified.

Tap Water threatens Pepsi.

Tap Water threatens Pepsi

LOL! It's already wiped out bottled spring water...

Would Tomatoes naturally dominate in your yard, just because they are what we claim are better plants

This is not about mindless multiplication. This is about humans choosing association.

but any programs that emphasize sharing of resources, of minimizing inequalities, these are going to be threatening to those who won't get their accustomed profits from such programs

I think non-profits and voluntary collectives are quite non-threatening. It becomes threatening only when coercion is involved, when the socialist groups seek to subjugate others and expropriate their belongings.

"This is about humans choosing association."

Barely. When the Big Money can influence public opinion towards its own interests, and the 'Social Sector' doesn't have the same kinds of resources to spread and manage their messages, then the 'Choice of Association' is not a balanced and healthy process.

But even so, populist and socialist movements do continually regrow, and it takes a liberal, ongoing application of Roundup to keep it down.

Information Management has been used extensively to protect Coal, Oil and Nuclear. (See TEPCO, ENTERGY)

-- Non Threatening? Try to be the President's wife and start a nice little organic garden on the White House lawn.

So, in essence, you are saying "no" to my previous statement: "Assuming people are competent to decide in matters regarding themselves, of course."

This particular "no" is at the core of actual socialist beliefs. That and coercion.

I don't think I have a nice, clear-cut general answer to that question.

Exactly! Probably because there isn't one and nobody else does either.

The answer is most certainly highly complex and necessitates a systems analysis approach, there is no simple cookie cutter response, which is precisely why a simplistic answer based on ideology and irrational beliefs just won't cut it.

That fact that you believe what you do, is not a sufficient guarantee that you are correct about the long term safety of a nuclear based civilization or that socialism is evil. Again, to be clear, I'm not hung up on the merits or lack thereof of socialism but with regards the overall safety of our current nuclear and or fossil fuel based technology I have enough doubt to want to proceed with extreme caution. Therein lies my main objection to facile assertions that one or another technological solution is the ONLY one that will work and is safe. Let alone that we need it!

The proof is in the pudding and right now it stinks to high heaven and looks pretty darn inedible, at least from where I sit.
Bon Appétit!

socialism on a local scale is not so bad. A power company owned by a small city for example. expansion voted on by the local tax payers. power by its nature needs to be government regulated. Things like the TVA and Bonneville power administration are forms of socialism I can live with.

Power does not need to be regulated. Electrons are all alike and are thus commodities that are very well suited for competition on a free market.

However, grids are natural monopolies and those could be government owned (but work on grids should preferably be outsourced).

Electrons are all alike and are thus commodities that are very well suited for competition on a free market.

... Oh, that's why the price of electrons spiked earlier this week on the LEE (London Electron Exchange)...

Good thing photons are still free and can be easily converted to electrons by solar panels, conveniently stored in batteries and used to power low voltage DC appliances such as refrigerators, computers, LED lights etc..

Free Market?! HAHAHAHAHA!

Are electrons not suited for a free market because you have seen an electricity price spike somewhere? That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.


Hint, there ain't no, London Electron Exchange...

Jeez, I think I'll go shoot some fish in a barrel now!


I'll keep my off-grid photovoltaic system and let those who would make decisions about my electricity for their benefit go bust.

"No technology is perfected the first time around."

Wow. Just...wow.

So after all the storage pools in all the existing nukes have melted down and exploded, spewing radioactive materials over vast areas, sickening and killing millions, leaving vast tracts uninhabitable...then we will try harder the second 'time around' and get it a bit more right?

I see no basis for your belief that all the storage pools in all the existing nukes will melt down and explode. Mind you, it would help if our politicians got off there asses and selected a long term disposal site.

The second time around is already here as any recently built reactor will incorporate the lessons learned from the first few decades of commercial power reactor operation.

News flash.

BAU cannot continue.

We will not be able to maintain these facilities very far into the future.

Eventually, every storage pool will be neglected, attacked, hit by any number of natural or unnatural catastrophes...

The alternative scenario is that stable, peaceful, relatively intelligent societies continue forever in spite of peak everything, AGW and all the other cataclysms crashing down upon our heads.

The alternative scenario is that stable, peaceful, relatively intelligent societies continue forever in spite of peak everything, AGW and all the other cataclysms crashing down upon our heads.

That is what I would prefer, everything that generates lots of electricity helps such a development.

That is what I would prefer, everything that generates lots of electricity helps such a development.

No, it doesn't. Well, maybe yes, but only in what is called "wishful thinking" and BAU continuation wet-dreams...

What lots of electricity helps is adding one more fridge to your house, a plethora of new gadgets that gobble up the available electricity and also people having more babies, a.k.a. population overshoot. You don't use newly gained energy to safely powerdown. Nope, you use it to bring more people to this world, so they can enjoy good life and make more babies, too. This is quite the opposite to what we want to achieve - stable, peaceful society. More people means more trouble, more wars, more killed by cataclysms and at last but not least - more pollution.

We like to thing about ourselves as intelligent species. Well, intelligence is also subject to gaussian curve. There is very few of idiots/imbeciles (this is strictly psychological term, not at all meant as insult), then there is very few of geniuses, but the main group is those with average intelligence. Imbeciles don't really know what they want, they are in constant need of help from others, geniuses know what we should do, but nobody is listening to them and the remaining masses want four basic things - eat, drink, sleep and procreate. Most of them probably wouldn't even work, weren't it needed to secure those four basics. Because of Mediocracy (rule of the mediocre masses) slowly devolving to Idiocracy :P , the main course of action is doing nothing that would change our self-destructive path and something that generates lots of electricity would help the final crash being even more nasty. So, the average IQ is quite low, somewhere in 80s, if we are really lucky. :-S

I think we need to use less, much more less..! Phase out the nuclear, coal, simply said all fossil fuels. We should have started that 30 years ago.
The alternative scenario that would ensure our survival is a massive powerdown, not more electricity for the masses to charge their iPhone 10s, because that's the way it would be used.

As BlueTwilight in this thread wrote:

Bob Shaw's question from Phoenix, Arizona: Are humans smarter than yeast?

My answer is: No they aren't, but they like to think they are. And no, they won't be missed. Planet will sigh a sigh of relief and say: "Good riddance!"
Reading posts of people like jeppen I'm more and more inclined to think it's inevitable... :-/

But hey! I'm an astronomer, so I still believe that somewhere in the Galaxy there IS an intelligent life form! :D :P

The wetness I see in the future is rivers of blood, I would like to avoid that future. Having nuclear power made politically impossible in major economies takes us closer to violent conflicts for dwindling resources.

More electricity is needed to replace oil in industrial processes, power trains, trams, trolleys, scooters and cars, replace the trickle of heating oil that still is used locally, produce hydrogen for ammonium fertilizer, to complementing gasified biomass and for upgrading very heavy and sour oil, etc. I also prefer use of electricity intensive luxuries such as nice lighting and saunas before transportation intensive luxuries.

BAU as in people living ok lives and not mass dying is for me a very good thing. And an extreme situation when it is too late for solutions that takes years to build leaves only deperate solutions like mass drilling for thin coal seams and setting fire to them with injected oxygen to get some gas.

You are one of those that don't understand exponential function, aren't you..?

Enough to become depressed by thinking about the current trends.

Well, that's a good start. :)

It is unfortunately hindering me from doing something realy constructive about the situation. I guess you find that to be good thing...

I guess you find that to be good thing...

Only if your "doing something really constructive" would have unintended consequences you are incapable of comprehending, then yes, it's much better that you are unable to do it.

People like to do anything just to make things "better". For them. Without giving a second thought what consequences their action will have on the global environment, especially when done on a large scale. Are you capable of wide risk assessment? Are you sure that you know all the variables you will influence with your doing? If not, then sorry, rather do nothing. Or even better, stop what you are doing now (here is a hint for you: burning fossil fuels)!

If your plans are for powerdown, then of course, go ahead! And I would be the very first in cheering you to do them. :)

PS: I didn't mean the depression being a good thing, but that you understand the exponential function. ;)

My major problem with this suggestion is that the only political systems I find likely to be stable in "powerdown" thru deindustrialization are variants of fascism since those systems are efficient for keeping togeather groups of people thet gets rid of other peoples consumtion or even life.

An interesting story here about Philo T. Farnsworth:


"The article cites this anecdote, which I shared with the author, regarding the manner in which Farnsworth discontinued his fusion work:

After inventing the television in the 1920s, Farnsworth was ready to change the face of society once again. Just as he managed to get his machine to achieve the impossible, his son peeked into the bizarre laboratory. Suddenly a thought struck him, causing Farnsworth to dismantle his machine. He placed it onto a shelf where it could not be reached and never worked on it again.

Farnsworth had a struggle with himself “for several years over what was going to happen to culture and society if we suddenly had virtually unlimited resources of energy at our disposal,” said Paul Schatzkin, 60, who relayed the story of Farnsworth."

The exponential function has nothing to do with this.

The exponential function has to do with everything. Of course, we can always choose to ignore it. For a while... And then be surprised that at 2% growth of our electricity consumption we need to double power generation every 35 years or so.
Ah well, stoopid apes... :(((

The per-capita electricity consumption of California has been flat since about 1975. Germany since 1985. In industrialised countries, electricity consumption is or at least could be flat on a per-capita basis. And the capita numbers are growing sub-linearly now and is about to peak at 9-10 billion, we simply don't follow an exponential function.

As oil becomes more scarce and expensive our total energy use per capita is going to have to drop. Assuming we start to electrify our transportation system, it would certainly be advantageous to increase our electical supply. However, even if we invested a substantial amount of money in electrifying our transportation system, we would be doing a lot less travelling than we do now. Travel would be more expensive and the system would not take us to anywhere near as many places as we can easily access via an ICE powered vehicle now.

You're ignoring convenience -- we piss away an extraordinary amount of energy for the sake of convenience. Riding a bus, with a bicycle in your luggage, will get you most places, quickly enough -- but not conveniently. You'll have to plan, and there may be stopovers and delays.

On the other hand, that bicycle will take you places a car won't go, right now, and you don't hear people moaning and groaning about how they are constrained by the incapability of their cars. See, for example, http://www.ridingthespine.com/videos.html . Try driving your truck to the top of a volcano. Try packing that car on a kayak. Try pushing it across an active mudslide.

Try getting your crops to market using a bicycle and bus.

The per-capita electricity consumption of California has been flat since about 1975.

Oh really..? Interesting. But that means, if population of California went from 17 million in 1970 to 37 million in 2010, which is more than doubling, then also consumption doubled, because you were refering to per-capita consumption.

In 1930 the population was 5.6 million, which is less than half of that in 1970, so more than doubling in 40 years again. What was it you did say? No exponential function..?? We DID follow an exponential function! It's thanks to limits kicking in that we can't and hopefully won't, not because we don't want to or suddenly found some kind of [kinky] pleasure in restraining ourselves... It is the latest trend, because of oil production being almost flat for a few years now and economy on life support thanks to that, but man we would grow like h311 if we could!

When something is flat on per-capita basis it doesn't mean it's flat on global basis. Hopefully you know that...

Does this look exponential to you?

The world population, as I said, has been growing sub-linearly lately. We don't grow like hell if we can, at least not now. Urban life, tv and female education makes total fertility rates drop to below replacement levels quite fast.

Forget about the exponential. We'll top out at 10 billion and draw perhaps 5 KW/capita, all energy sources, for a total of 50 TWt for a first-world life-style for all. With thorium reactors, that would be satisfied with some 20,000 tonnes/year of fuel, which is no problem at all. (Current uranium needs is in the range of 60,000 tonnes/year, but thorium is much more abundant.) How would you like 100,000 small thorium reactors?

Written by jeppen:
Forget about the exponential.

Consider the bell curve or Gaussian function. It is close to linear at the inflection points on the raising and falling edges. One can not distinguish the Gaussian from the sigmoid curve by looking at measured population data on the rising edge. Since humans are consuming finite stored vital resources (fossil aquifers, fossil fuels, fish, arable land, phosphorus rock) and are, as a group, discounting pollution, one must ignore depletion and pollution to project a sigmoid curve (population rising exponentially to a long term maximum). If one of the others does not get us first, nukes will doom us with pollution. Sorry, jeppen, a first order bell curve is more realistic.

The fact remains that the population growth in millions peaked in 1989. It has gone sub-linear by itself, i.e. the reasons neither being depletion nor pollution.

I still believe that somewhere in the Galaxy there IS an intelligent life form!

Hopefully it can sustain itself on dark energy and it doesn't want to reproduce >;^)

Population collapse does not make the yeast extinct because some of them become spores waiting patiently for a favorable environment to return to repeat the cycle. The question allows for both species to survive population collapse.

Just how much brain power or experience does the nuclear industry need to teach them not to build nuclear power reactors near each other. Separate them by at least 80 km so a catastrophic failure of one does not damage or unduly contaminate the other. The nuclear industry will never learn this lesson because greed always trumps safety.

Isn't that something, though! The reactors at Fukushima are so close together that they have to be treated like one huge mess, not four smaller messes. When one blows up, it takes out emergency measures in place for another, as in the loss of the fire-pumps positioned for emergency cooling. They don't really share components with each-other. They are built in farmland: moving them apart would not have had a vast cost impact. It reads as a very poor decision. There is a cliff behind the plant. The reactors are at the base of that cliff so that they can be near the sea. The emergency generators are co-sited. No use was made of the available height, out of range of the sea, to protect either the main or the backup systems. This reads as a poor decision, too. "Trust us" rings so very, very hollow.

<< The norm is for unforeseen problems to arise and be corrected in subsequent generations as our scientific and engineering knowledge improves. >>

The first problem with this argument is that the only data to support this hypothesis comes from a very short period of time-- from the dawn of the industrial revolution until today. It's only been a few hundred years; it's not at all clear we can draw meaningful conclusions about our capacity to correct problems.

Wouldn't it seem more likely that technical problems will become more complex at a faster rate than our ability to solve them will evolve? Our cerebral cortex looks pretty much the way it did 200 years ago, but our culture and instrumentalities have become far more byzantine and incomprehensible over the same time period (and far less efficient in many ways, but that's a different axe I have ground elsewhere and will sharpen again another time.)

We are left with copycat drugs which make people sicker, ghastly operating systems, traction control systems that fail, cars that accelerate madly for no reason, blowout prevention manuals that are too complicated for anyone to follow in an emergency, etc.

That's why we refactor code and designs once in a while, simplifying, improving. New nuclear plant designs are in many ways less complex than previous ones.

Ah-- back from Mars already, are we? (That is where Jeppen was sent at the end of the last thread, tone = playful) To hell with the water, let us know if you found any good bars.

To me, the ideal would be that technology would reach a peak where it would plateau-- similar idea to what Rootless explained far more eloquently-- when an instrumentality is as efficient as it can be or needs to be. From that point forward, the pace of its evolution should slow to the rate of our own neural development. (As you say, you could "refactor the code and designs once in a while.")

But this is not what I have observed has been happening in the past quarter century or so. Again, this is too short a time period to draw sweeping conclusions-- I'm drafting a polemic, not a geometric proof. Recently, we have begun tinkering with designs in ways that do not make them better, and things start going horribly wrong.

At the clinic where I work, almost every client who has attempted suicide is on a psychoactive medication developed after 1980. Obviously, correlation does not prove causation and it's a very limited sample, but I've seen this pattern so many times in so many different industries that I can't help think that there's something very wrong with the way we are defining "progress."

Of course I would be very interested in looking at some sort of design comparison between older BWRs and more modern designs, if someone wants to provide a link to some on the web. I probably lack the technical capacity to make much sense of them, but I'm certainly willing to try. I think it's vitally important to try to build cross-disciplinary understanding, so if I'm asking you to take my philosophical argument seriously, I will certainly take a look at your technical one.

As an engineer, following news, the common pattern I see is breakthroughs introducing new complex tech, followed by simplifications in subsequent generations. I would recommend a quick peek on the AP-1000 official website. They talk a lot about simplifications in design.

A brilliant young student of mine became sad and anxious for valid reasons and then got talked into a moment of the current pharmacopoeia. Now he can't think and just wants to die. He fears it is permanent.

This post is a little off-topic, and I do not want to piss off Elm, Twilight, or anyone else, so I will try to keep this short.

I believe permanent, epigenetic changes in synaptic function can occur from the use of substances that target 5ht receptors, particularly 5ht2a. This has been seen in murine (rat) models with LSD and probably occurs with SSRIs as well. Morphological changes in the brain structure have been observed with the use of SSRIs in adolescent humans.

I also believe that recovery of function is usually possible. The function of neural circuitry is plastic. We know that trauma can alter it quickly; it follows that there should be some kind of reparative experience which would do so as well. Many intelligent students had terrible LSD experiences in the '70s, were convinced they had brain damage, but then went on to do their greatest work.

I feel that powering down and reducing population (while preserving a high standard of living and not descending into savagery) may require not only a massive shift in mankind's belief systems, but perhaps also in the way we process information.

This also might help solve the problem of having the SAME arguments over and over again about coal vs. nuclear, etc.

Anyway, it's a very new area of research, but if your student is having a hard time getting a good referral, let me know and I will start sniffing around.

I am at denkou137 at gmail

I'm amazed at the negativity of anti-nuclear people. No technology is perfected the...

And I am amazed at the blinkered stupidity of the pro-nuclear people. It isn't the technology that is at fault, it is that people cannot manage it. People are not going to guard the waste for 5,000 years after we extract the useful energy from it over the next 100. People are not going to suddenly not develop corrupt bureaucracies around this large source of energy. People are not going to stop the general policy of "socialize the losses, privatize the profit". We are not mystically going to rid ourselves of the sort of arrogant pricks who wish to run the nuke plants. Not gonna happen.

And these things are fragile. There might be a better design than the GE Mark-1 BWR, but then I don't see any effort to shutter the ones that are still running. They are fragile, and when (not if) they are dropped on the floor, they will break.

"There might be a better design than the GE Mark-1 BWR, but then I don't see any effort to shutter the ones that are still running."

They didn't even bother to upgrade these, the ones at Fukushima, to match those in the United States: the country of origin for the General Electric design. There should have been a means, a hardened means, to transport gasses, hydrogen, vented from the pressurized systems, in an emergency, to the outside of the buildings: the containment buildings. Instead, the gasses vent to the inside of the containment buildings in Fukushima Japan, where a fan operating on electricity is supposed to push them out and up those tall stacks: the towers next to each reactor.

Three containment buildings blew up one after another for want of those fans, the electrically powered hydrogen recombiners, and the simple following of pressure relieving procedures. A hatch was opened into the containment building for the pressurized vessel housing reactor core number two. Building 2 still stands.

The reactors are individual works of art. This article explains how #1 has a gravity-fed condensing system while #2 and #3 have steam-driven pumps to supply water in an emergency:

Union of Concerned Scientists:
Fukushima Dai-Ichi Unit 3: The First 80 Minutes
Fukushima Dai-Ichi Unit 2: The First 60 Minutes
Fukushima Dai-Ichi Unit 1: The First 30 Minutes
The lighter side:
Fission Stories #41: Nature Remodels Nuclear Plant

Annotated photos of Fukushima:


While no one wants to have an accident at a nuclear plant, they do provide a learning opportunity.


And some people never learn!

"It is an experiment that nurishes on subsidies and goodwill - nothing else."

Wrong again, Niels. PV and passive have been 'nourishing' my family for 15 years; lots of goodwill; no subsidies.

Things we don't (or do our very best not to) subsidize: The nuclear waste pools (dumps) upwind from your family; the coal plants (and resulting pollution), upwind from your family; preserving the BAU status quo for our children, or deceiving them into believing that their future will be anything like our past.

If I'm wrong, my kids will be OK. If you're wrong ....

Your cannot compare a single family succes story with the failure story of a nation - solid statistics will prevail - at least 10 billion US-dollars in subsidies through 40 years without any progress but with growing desperation and stubburn blindness. And no net energy and no displacement of CO2.

"And no net energy and no displacement of CO2."

This myth never fails to surface! No, get it through your thick heads, nuclear will never displace any coal, it will only be used in addition! Risk A + Risk B, the sum is greater than either of the parts. Don't the nuclear shills ever tire of dragging out the same old talking points?

Of course nuclear displaces coal. How do you think France would've gotten electricity if it didn't have 80% nuclear?

Please note: France and Germany has the same per-capita consumption of electricity. Germany curbed its fossil use somewhat with nuclear during the 80-ies, but failed to follow through. The extreme renewables subsidies since then has so far failed to put a dent in the fossil use.

Perhaps it would have had more modest growth or a steady state economy.

Obviously these are anathema or incomprehensible notions to most economists and other ideologs.

The fact remains: Nuclear replaces fossils. Please don't let my see you claim otherwise again.


Now, replace the human management, design, operations, and maintainance teams with infallible machines and you've got something.

It is saddening that we fail to put a good system to support the safety needed.

Nope, don't need to. A few nuclear disasters are better than the constant grind of fossil pollution and the extreme costs of large-scale renewable alternatives.

I suggest you come and have a look around at what has happened to lives of those living in the areas worst affected by Fukushima Daiichi. After doing so you may find it more difficult to toss off callous statements about nuclear disasters being preferable to x or y.

The food chain in Japan on land and sea is slowly being poisoned for decades hence. This is not a trifling matter.

But how many nuclear power plants in the whole world can get messed up by a tsunami?

How many are on flood planes, hurricane zones, fault lines, tornado areas?

Yeah, I live within 50 miles of this one:


Incident history

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is a twin reactor nuclear power station located on a 3,300-acre (13 km²) site 2 miles east of Homestead, Florida, United States, next to Biscayne National Park located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Miami, Florida near the southernmost edge of Miami-Dade County.

On May 8, 1974, a test was performed on all three of the Emergency Feedwater (EFW) pumps serving Unit 3 while the reactor was operating at power. Two of the pumps failed to start as a result of over-tightened packing. The third pump failed to start because of a malfunction in the turbine regulating valve pneumatic controller. (ref NRC LER 250/74-LTR) In an on-going study (ref NRC Commission Document SECY-05-0192 Attachment 2 NRC.gov) of precursors that could lead to a nuclear accident if additional failures were to have occurred, the NRC concluded (as of 24-Oct-2005) that this event at Turkey Point Unit 3 was the fifth highest ranked occurrence.

In 1992, Turkey Point was directly hit by Hurricane Andrew, causing damage to a water tank and to a smokestack of one of the site's fossil-fueled units. No damage was done to the plant's containment buildings.[10][11] The plant was built to withstand winds of up to 235 mph (380 km/h), greatly exceeding the maximum winds recorded by category 5 hurricanes.

2008 Florida electricity blackout

On February 26, 2008, both reactors were shut down due to the loss of off-site power during a widespread power outage in South Florida, affecting 700,000 customers.[12]

At least 2.5 million people were without power. The blackout was initially caused by an overheated voltage switch that soon caught fire in a power substation in Miami, 23 miles away from the plant. The fire occurred at 1:08 pm which caused an automatic shutdown of the power plant. This led to a domino effect that caused outages as far north as Daytona Beach and Tampa. Power was restored by 4:30 pm. The reason this malfunction caused such widespread outages is still under investigation.[12]

Walt Disney World, Orlando International Airport, and Miami International Airport were among the places affected by the outage.[13]

David Hoffman, a nuclear supervisor at Turkey Point, resigned over the incident and was subsequently sued for by Florida Power and Light for return of a bonus. >Hoffman countersued, claiming he was pressured to restart the reactors while they were in a condition which in his judgement made it unsafe to do so. Upper management wanted the reactors restarted during xenon dead time, which would have caused the operators at the controls to continuously step control rods to safely manage reactor output.

Florida Power and Light responded to the allegation, claiming Hoffman's suit was "self motivated".[14][15]

Emphasis mine...

Can't wait for Hurricane season which is expected to be more intense that average this year!

Every nuclear power plant in the world is within range of an air strike.

You have to note that cost does more damage when they happen all at once, well, that's my understanding of insurance. You buy some because you would go bankrupt if you had a severe accident and needed to pay everything alone. So you are buying insurance to pay a little money, regulary, but no big costs.

That may or may not change the result but can be important to note.

Lol, both nuclear and fossil fuels are dead ends. We humans will kill ourselves with our own pollution, one way or another. It is our nature to grow until we can't and this is why we are all doomed.


Why stop showing data from 2005 onwards? In Germany since then there has been a lot of progress in the percentage of electricity generated from renewables.
I visited there in 2005 and was impressed by the amount of solar, recently I checked again and was astounded on the progress since 2005.

Increases in installed renewable electric power capacity and generation for Germany in recent years is shown in the table below:

Year.......................... 2000----2001----2002-----2003-----2004----2005-----2006-----2007-----2008-----2009
Capacity (MW)..........11,944--14,821--18,321--21,625--24,823--28,249--32,003--35,779--39,934--45,310
Generation (GWh)..... 37,217--39,033--45,647--44,993--56,052--62,112--71,487--87,597--93,269--93,543
% of total of ............... 6.4------6.7--------7.8--------7.5-------9.2------10.1------11.6------14.2------15.2------16.1
electricity consumption
Since 2009 progress has continued there.

And how many good places left?

And what about subsidies, backup, integration in the net, costs of decommissioning?

Give me the price of whatever windmill you want and the kwh production per year and I can easily show you that there is no net return of energy.

Once you had the pebble reactor - now you have windmills!

why all the name calling can't your ideas stand on their own?

"Your cannot compare a single family succes story with the failure story of a nation ,,,"

Yes, I can. Success starts at home, and I resent others enjoying their faux success at the expense of my lungs and environment.

Matters not what you or I think. Failure of industrial society is baked into the cake. It's just a matter of time, so I suggest folks stop bargaining and begin adapting.

First, his family's success is repeated already many hundreds of times throughout the country and the world, and it very clearly shows that households can run effectively with a fraction of the purchased power they currently statistically require. That IS progress, some of it from NREL and DOE subsidies, some not.. but these houses are most certainly able to function with a much lighter carbon footprint, which proves the way.. and just because others have been burning more in their separate lifestyles doesn't negate what has been learned and developed by those who have succeeded.

Getting these successes adopted broadly is a DIFFERENT CHALLENGE, but the challenge of creating a Green Household has been solved. We know how to do it.. we know Many ways to do it.

Fukushima tsunami plan a single page

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese nuclear regulators trusted that the reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi were safe from the worst waves an earthquake could muster based on a single-page memo from the plant operator nearly a decade ago.

In the Dec. 19, 2001 document — one double-sized page obtained by The Associated Press under Japan's public records law — Tokyo Electric Power Co. rules out the possibility of a tsunami large enough to knock the plant offline and gives scant details to justify this conclusion, which proved to be wildly optimistic.

Regulators at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, had asked plant operators for assessments of their earthquake and tsunami preparedness. They didn't mind the brevity of TEPCO's response, and apparently made no moves to verify its calculations or ask for supporting documents.

"This is all we saw," said Masaru Kobayashi, who now heads NISA's quake-safety section. "We did not look into the validity of the content."

... TEPCO's memo was entitled "The Assessment of Effects Related to the Japan Society of Civil Engineers' 'Guidelines on Tsunami Assessment for Nuclear Power Plants' — Fukushima Dai-ichi and Daini Nuclear Power Plants."

This catastrophe will go on for years. Boron is a neutron poison and will only act to stop the fission, which is not the problem because fission stopped a long time ago when the fuel lost its geometry.

The problem is the decay heat from the fission products in the fuel. Trying to cool it with water is a waste of time because the heat transfer from the molten fuel to the water is too inefficient. Even if the fuel was at the bottom of the ocean it would still continue in the molten state.

That's the problem with current nuclear reactor technology. You simply can't control it in "loss-of-coolant" type accidents.

If true, this is probably the most damning thing I've seen yet about the entire Fukushima debacle, pretty much the smoking gun of ineptitude and mismanagement. I can't believe this is possibly true, though. These guys (the Japanese) are the best and the brightest, the futurist technologists with such a strong sense of duty to country and countrymen? Goddamn thing was known to be in both a high quake risk area and, if you take a quick look at it, RIGHT ON THE BEACH in a known tsunami risk area. Sheesh.

Oddly enough, it's the insurance issue that I find the best argument against nuclear. On top of that, if the risks are so great that nukes are not only uninsurable but that their potential (in this case, actual) hazard cannot even be EVALUATED properly because of the enormous scope, maybe not such a great "free-market" idea. It's been said before, but I'd love to see the ROI for a plant that has to factor in the chance of paying for the evacuation and semi-permanent relocation of half a million people.

Tepco Failed to Disclose Scale of Fukushima Radiation Leaks, Academics Say

As a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled nuclear plant today, academics warn the company has failed to disclose the scale of radiation leaks and faces a “massive problem” with contaminated water.

... Tepco has been withholding data on radiation from Dai-Ichi, Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Japan’s prime minister, said at a press briefing today. Hosono said he ordered the utility to check for any data it hasn’t disclosed and release the material as soon as possible.

... “Tepco knows more than they’ve said about the amount of radiation leaking from the plant,” Jan van de Putte, a specialist in radiation safety trained at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, said yesterday in Tokyo. “What we need is a full disclosure, a full inventory of radiation released including the exact isotopes.”

The Japanese utility is trying to put the reactors into a cold shutdown, where core temperatures fall below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), within six to nine months. Ostendorff [a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] rated the chance of Tepco achieving that goal at six or seven out of 10. [that's pretty close to coin toss territory]

Always look on the Bright Side of Death...

The U.S. nuclear power industry, when responding to concerns raised by the nuclear disaster in Japan, leaned on lessons learned from the oil industry's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a top official with the Nuclear Energy Institute said Thursday.

The institute, the main trade group for nuclear power companies, crafted emergency plans and developed a communication strategy after analyzing the events surrounding the April 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Tony Pietrangelo, NEI's chief nuclear officer said.

"We were fortunate, I think, as an industry," Pietrangelo said before a panel of nuclear specialists that works with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Following the BP PLC Deepwater Horizon explosion last year, "we kind of did a lessons-learned on that--how we would apply that to our industry if we had an event like that."

[emphasis mine]

How very lucky for the nuke industry that the oil industry screwed up the GOM so badly, eh?

A clue for us all: it's not the technology that's getting perfected with each round of disasters. It's the spin control :-)

Where is the Cavalry? John had Yoko to patch his holes. In DWH, after a faltering start (see Corporate denial), a team of Pros got together and solved the problem. By this time in the gulf crisis it was obvious that there was an end game with the relief wells.

In Fubarshima, after a faltering start (see Corporate denial), a team of spin doctors got together and continued the Kabuki (see Corporate denial). There is no end game on the horizon. The best case scenario keeps getting worse.

Well, now that the pro-nuclear shills have shown up to take on the rest of us anti-progress Amish, I wonder if we can work on trying to distill the arguments, specifically in the coal vs. nuclear debate. At this point nuclear no longer appears to be all that safe and clean, at least as long as humans are running it, having produced spectacular failures under both soviet and western regimes. Assuming for now some BAU baseline of affordable electrical power for the masses and for current industrial production, what is the price we are paying to have coal generate its share of this? What is the price for nuclear? Are there fundamental differences which prevent these from even being compared? I believe there are:

On the coal side, the negatives include toxic emissions of heavy metals (mercury) and radioactive elements, as well as various other pollutants. I'm not sure how the newer cleaner-burning plants compare with older dirtier ones in this regard, and how many of which ones are operating around the world, how clean China's numerous plants are, etc. So I'm not sure how much room for improvement there is in the pollution area assuming a constant level of coal consumption. But the following are key facts (or reasonable assumptions) about coal:

1) The world's coal emissions are relatively evenly distributed, or at least tend to uniformly affect the populations that use coal plants.

2) The much vilified coal emissions proceed routinely from normally operating plants. If a plant's emissions became noticeably worse than normal, it would indicate an operational problem, and the plant would be shut down - and immediately produce no emissions.

3) As bad as they are, coal emissions have been around for a long time and we can look around and see the effects in the general population. Sure, more cancers than we would like, and other health problems as well, but still not that bad from a historical perspective. And even if we considered half of the non-lifestyle related industrial cancers and diseases to be caused by coal, I doubt that most people would consider the trade-off between affordable electricity and the possible consequent health effects to be a bad one.

4) If we decided to phase out coal, beginning tomorrow, the emissions would gradually phase out as well and the health of the general population would gradually improve from its already not too bad level.

Now, compare with nuclear:

1) While even properly operating nuclear plants emit what we will consider negligible levels of radioactive emissions, the real risk is a serious accident, and these so far have been rare. But when they do occur, the impact is disproportionately inflicted on the area and population around the plant. So it becomes a high stakes gamble. I can live with the statistical probability of a nuclear accident happening as a trade-off for my cheap electricity, as long as when it does happen, it's on the other side of the world and not at the plant in my back yard.

2) Any abnormally high emissions from a nuclear plant indicate operational problems, but shutting it down is only the beginning. The residual and decay heat is massive and requires active cooling and monitoring. Everything had better be working right. And of course there are the 'spent' fuel pools which also require continuous active cooling.

3) Coal is 'the devil we know' as pointed out above. Radioactive contamination is something the general population hasn't had a lot of experience with. There has been a massive amount of human suffering in the wake of Chernobyl, but how many of us posting here actually know any of those people? Japan's experience will be a lot more visible to most of us. Unfortunately radiation cannot be sensed biologically, and its effects may take months or years to be manifest.

4) Even if or when we decide to phase out nuclear, there is still a massive amount of work to be done to manage the radioactive legacy of this adventure. And the places that have already experienced serious accidents are leaving large areas of permanently condemned land that was once beautiful, productive, and highly habitable.

Final note: I am in the camp of those who would try to judge our actions from the viewpoint of future generations, and from that viewpoint I see a lot of room to consume less of everything and still be happy.

I am not sure why "Amish" should be a term of disrespect or derogation. I've travelled in Pennsylvania and interacted with Amish people. They were, on average, healthy and fairly cheerful; also very well-mannered, hospitable, and hard-working. They don't disdain *all* technologies (in fact a good friend of mine is involved in efforts to (re)introduce them to IPM as an alternative to their current enthusiasm for synthetic pesticides). They do tend to refuse technologies or practises which they feel will erode the bonds of family and community: many Amish men, for example, are unwilling to accept jobs that would take them so far from home that they could not walk back to eat lunch with the family. They don't drive, but they sometimes hire drivers with vans to take them to special events (there's a small incoming-producing home business sector in "driving Amish"). Their probity in business dealings is well-attested. They don't use electricity, but they do light with kerosene and carbide lanterns; they run some of their workshops on water (wheel) power. No "shivering in the dark" here -- Amish homes are clean, well-lit, and warm in winter.

What was most noteworthy perhaps for me as a visitor was to see Amish farmers prospering on land which their "English" (non-Amish) neighbours had written off as "hopeless." Neighbouring farmers would be accepting farm-bill subsidies while Amish farmers were flourishing independently (iirc they refuse government handouts on principle). Amish buy "failing" farms and turn them into success stories, partly due to the solidarity and support of their community. Does that kind of ingenuity, hard work, team work, creativity and determination makes them somehow inferior to "regular" folks?

IMHO we could do a lot worse (we are doing a lot worse) than "going Amish". While I don't share their (Anabaptist, schismatic) religious dogma I admire the elegance and practicality of their guarded truce with industrial civ... Amish are willing to ask of each new technology, "Do we really need this," and "What will be the side effects," questions which don't get asked nearly often enough. (They have figured out that happiness does not equal "owning a huge pile of rapidly-obsolete consumer crap," and that also makes them in my book a bit smarter than the average bear.)

Anyway, anyone trying to scare this writer off by using the A-word -- gee, first Commies, then Amish, can Hippies be far behind? -- is kind of missing the mark, since I find them a fascinating and potentially instructive subculture.

Re 'Amish', no offense meant at all. I was only picking up on the previous use of the word 'Amish' in this thread as kind of a light-hearted counterbalance to the word 'shill' used on the other side of the argument. Growing up in south-eastern PA I was around many Amish, and living now in upstate NY, I am still around them. Many have migrated to this area and elsewhere, having found additional land in their original area now too expensive to purchase. I have the utmost respect for the Amish and their culture. Indeed I believe they will have a lot to teach us, and we will have a lot to learn from them, as our civilization is forced to steadily power-down.

what is the price we are paying to have coal generate its share of this? What is the price for nuclear? Are there fundamental differences which prevent these from even being compared? I believe there are:

I believe there isn't. If we measure the external costs in $/TWh, we capture it all. I think the aversion to large-scale disasters and preference for more spread-out damage is very human, but also quite irrational. It IS safer to fly than to drive a car, for instance.

Your decision to prefer the less dramatic damage option (coal) would, if globally acted upon, without a doubt lead to excess deaths in the millions over the next few decades. Ultimately, perhaps even hundreds of millions or billions if AGW fears prove correct.

The flying v. driving comparison is a perfect example of how statistics can distort reality.

When you drive your own car, with your own discipline and on roads and at times you choose, you are making numerous decisions that affect your likelihood of being in an accident, including your awareness of how Others will be driving out there and possibly reducing safety .. but when you fly, there are very few choices in your own hands that will directly improve your safety.

In other words, you can't boil car trips down to an homogeneous mean..

In terms of Nuclear v. Coal, looking at them as bookkeepers and weighing 'deaths per KWH' is similarly blind to numerous factors.

We're seeing how little control we have in containing a nuclear plant that succombed to a major weather event, and now we're looking at a future with a likelihood of more regular, major weather events, of economic disruptions, of grid interruptions, of wars taking place around Nuclear Facilities.. These situations are far worse for Nuclear than for Coal. (While noone should forget that I'm eager to shut both of these sources down ASAP.)

Playing with numbers is fine, as long as you aren't ignoring important ones.

That's the thing! With cars and coal, you think you are in control. With flying and nuclear, you think you are at the mercy of others. I prefer the book keepers' view when making political decisions. I count the beans and make the call. You refuse to, so no Jokuhl for president, please.

But I do concede that the argument of nuclear plants becoming more dangerous with time and in other circumstances has some merit. However, you need to count the beans for me, as I have a hard time seeing nuclear disasters ever getting as bad as coal. (And I don't care about nuclear being a bit of added doom in doomsday scenarios. If it's doom, it's doom.)

A tsunami caused by an earthquake is not a weather event.

For a nuclear power plant on a river what natural event could cause a disaster on the scale of Fukushima? A flood from intense rains? Is that realistic for any current nukes? If so, which ones?

In 1972 I worked for a power company and was assigned to the recovery crew at Brunner Island, a coal-fired plant in the Susquehanna River south of Harrisburg. Brunner Island was completely over-washed by flood waters from the record rainfall of Hurricane Agnes.
Among the debris we found was glassware from the chemistry labs at Three Mile Island, then under construction a few miles upstream.

Nor do we capture the external costs of coal and the radioactive releases from burning coal. The ash waste piles ,acid rain, mountain top mining and the rest of the disruption to the environment that that energy source entails.

You're right, we don't.. and who is paying for the 7% of the Ukranian budget that goes towards ongoing Chernobyl issues?

If nuclear power wants to rest on it's great safety record as an 'average of all the disasters that haven't happened yet/khw', then maybe we should 'allow' the nuclear industry to pick up ALL the costs of the reactors that do fall apart and render lands, waterways and livelihoods unto hades?

Think they'll be willing to take that bet?

Why not? BP seems to take its chances with deep water drilling, for instance. As long as you make coal pay external costs too.

It IS safer to fly than to drive a car, for instance.

But it's far safe than either of those to walk or ride a bicycle: safer for the person doing it (cycling actually increases lifespan on average) and safer for bystanders (who almost never are struck or killed by a bicycle) and safer for everything with lungs.

It is safer to indulge a cocaine habit than a crack habit, but both tend toward similar ends. It's safer not to get hooked in the first place.

See? I knew you were a socialist!

'Not get addicted'.. what kind of Kumbaya pablum is that!?


I agree about cycling, but in some instances, slower transport is a waste of time. And time is what life consists of, in a way.

To not have electricity is not an option. To use money in the extreme to not have to do nuclear is sub-optimal, since money is time, and time is life.

To not have electricity is not an option. To use money in the extreme to not have to do nuclear is sub-optimal, since money is time, and time is life.

Hmm, my guess is that you are neither a physicist nor a biologist, right?

Shorter jeppen:

Slower transport is a waste of life!

I couldn't disagree more...

"I couldn't disagree more..."

Neither could I!

When I read posts like jeppen's, where he says there's no life without electricity, I have no hope for the human race at all. I guess there was no life as recently as 200 years ago!

We lived in a cultural desert 200 years ago, now everybody can have the library of alexandria cubed in their pocket. Electrical lights, communication, tools, etc are usefull enough to trade for a significant risk of death, most people would even die a lot earlier withouth them.

What's the use of having the ability for "now everybody can have the library of alexandria cubed in their pocket" when what actually happens is that they have the complete works of Lady Gaga or Public Enemy in their pocket. I always find it amazing that people can think that, out of the thousands of years we've been on this planet, life has only been worth living during the last 50-100 years or so. What self-centered arrogance!

With all our supposedly wonderful ability to have that library of Alexandria in our pocket, it won't last anywhere near as long as the original, talk to anyone concerned with data preservation. I know professors who can't access their own doctoral dissertation in electronic form anymore because there are no computers with software or hardware that can read it. Look at NASA that has lost access to some Apollo and pre-Apollo photos and data for the same reason. When your data is on old 200bpi 7track digital tape with EBCDIC encoding, analog tape with an obscure proprietary modem encoding, 8 inch floppy disc in PerfectWriter for CP/M format, 12 or 18 bit DECTape you're out of luck. I've worked with all those formats and more in my 55 year life and I can't read any of them now.

I have a wonderful collection of late 1800's to early 1900's books in electronic form but I have no illusions of being able to read them in 10-20 years unless I am constantly vigilant in updating and converting the 1000's of files to the latest system. The paper version have lasted over 100 years to be available for scanning, and they will outlast the electronic versions also. That is, unless they are destroyed after being scanned, as seems to often be done.

We are soon going to see a lot of our knowledge vanish in a puff of digital smoke! This is an advantage?

Having access to huge ammounts of culture is good, wishing that everybody can have that forever and acting to make this possible is not self centered.

People forget to copy data, leave books out in the rain and a long time ago were a bale of pergament dropped of a donkey and rotted away, so what as long as we copy and add to the cultural heritage. Keep the lights on and the computers powered and life is better then it ever were for people who find utility or emotional fulfillment by other peoples new or old thoughts. And what is wrong with enjoying Lady gagas art?

It is a lot easier to produce smartphones and wirelessly connect all populated areas to internet then to stock realy good libraries everywhere and electronic communications can provide more services then books.

I always find it amazing that people can think that, out of the thousands of years we've been on this planet, life has only been worth living during the last 50-100 years or so. What self-centered arrogance!

I'm that arrogant.

However, the problem even for non-arrogants should be that without BAU, 6 out of 7 people or more will die horribly. The only way to avoid that is going forward with more tech, more energy and better living.

Also, I wouldn't be that pessimistic about being able to use old data - I think that problem has mostly sorted itself out. Common image viewers, for instance, can read so many old image formats that it is absolutely astounding. You do need to keep the data physically readable, however, but if you simply transfer it when you upgrade your hardware, you're good.

We lived in a cultural desert 200 years ago, now everybody can have the library of alexandria cubed in their pocket.

Yeah. But did it do us any good? I don't think so. We are still the same "Bunga bunga, giv me all yourz resourcas or I wull killeh ya!!!"-kind of uppity apes. We are the same savages we were 200 years ago. Even worse, because we have nukes now and are capable of global overkill at least 8-times. It was quite a time ago it was 8-times we could kill all the people in the world and this number for sure went up since then...

You can have all the wisdom of all times in your pocket and still be worse than Neanderthal from "coexisting with nature" point of view and I think this is what matters. Your electrical lights (disrupting sleep pattern), communication (killing off bees), tools (I thing people are the "tools" here) are making our lives miserable and will be our undoing.

Disclaimer: I'm not a "back to the caves" guy! But one should assess all the [health]risks our modern technology could pose. I'm for sensible coexisting with the Nature and that is very well possible with low-tech stuff and with some high-tech (PVs, microhydro, wind) thrown in, if you are capable of doing it. And... turn off those f...rigging lights at night, I want to see the stars!!!!1!!1 :P

What kind of backwater do you live in? The improvements in "live and let live" have been huge, although I do live in a very lucky country that has enjoid peace for about 200 years.

What kind of backwater do you live in?

You would have a problem to find it on the map and I don't want to expose you to unnecessary stress.. ;) :D

I don't understand what do you mean by "improvements in "live and let live""...
Countries enjoying peace for about 200 years are very rare, but I'm still puzzled with this. If you are in the US, then your "American Civil War" was some 146 ears ago. If you did mean Australia, then OK. Probably the "live and let live" has improved there, but the US with its involvement in many wars - Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya is not the sing of "live and let live". :-/ And with its GMOs, coal barons, flushing of the unused medication down the toilet polluting the groundwater, GOM blowout.... CCD of bees... not an improvement at all.

Also, high incidence of cancers, strokes and diabetes are not quite improvements. I think it's the Nature's way to tell us: "you're dumba, heheh, and doing it wrong!" but we rather chose to ignore the warning and spewing out all those gadgets and stuff till we choke on it. What I see around me is not an improvement, it's total failure in slow motion.

I understand, you probably don't perceive all that technology around you as dangerous. 99% of people don't, so it's probably normal, but it's killing you slowly and makes sure, that one in his forties or fifties needs at least 3 or 5 kinds of medication. If one is capable of living 90 years without any medication, then we can talk about improvement. Till then you are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. :P

I don't understand what do you mean by "improvements in "live and let live""...

You do not have to follow the state religion and can have any religious or other faith you feel for including none. It is a lot easier to have any sexual preference. (Although nudity has recently started to become more sexualised wich limits some freedoms, probably a US influence. ) Various freedoms of speech has improved a lot. Women now has the same rights as men. Civil society is less violent with fewer youth harmed in brawls.

Oh, there you -have- a point, and I do agree. :)

But aside from that, we are still killing each other rather vigorously (school shootings, Syrian protests, Yemeni protests, crime on the rise) and other species, so there is plenty of room for further improvement, isn't there?

Warfare has trended down since the end of the cold war but it can of course get better. Syrian and Yemeni protests are a good thing, their repressive governments are not, lots of room for improvements. I wish them freedom and power, electricity is the easier thing to get going.

All these good trends are from my p.o.w. treathened due to lack of energy. There are of course manny more problems but this is the one most relevant for this forum.

Syrian and Yemeni protests are a good thing, their repressive governments are not, lots of room for improvements. I wish them freedom and power, electricity is the easier thing to get going.

Well, of course they are better off without their repressive governments and stuff, but electricity is not the easier thing to get going as blackouts and brownouts in countries like Venezuela, now China (due to low levels of water in rivers), Brazil show and I could go on and on with the list. Some of those countries have longterm problems they are simply unable to solve.

I wish those countries freedom and power, too, but someone should tell them that Peak Oil is real and their power shortages will probably get worse, not better, because when people are not told/prepared, they will think that the new government is the culprit here, they will protest again and again and again, overthrow the government(s), until some Hitler-style chap grabs the power and... Well, we already know how that usually ends, eh? :-/

I think shortages or intermittent electricity is inevitable down the slippery slope of PO and we should, same as with AGW, prepare and adapt. If we don't, then... the possible outcome is the real and good reason for depression.

What country do you live in? Here in the USA, we have just exported all our "Bunga bunga, giv me all yourz resourcas or I wull killeh ya!!!" to other countries and taken their resources. I don't call that "Peace". Look at all the wars we've been involved in during the last 200 years.


I do extrastrongly agree with you, Fred, and also with augjohnson, who replied to your post here, but I think jeppen is probably a physicist - a nuclear one. At least here at our university we have 3 years common for every kind of physics and then 2 final years in selected field, being it astronomy, nuclear physics or meteorology. I think nuclear physicists are probably somehow "brainwashed" during those final two years that they forget what makes life a life... :P

Or is it just plain disregard for the life itself that makes them such a zealous proponents of this lethal technology..? I dunno, hopefully jeppen will explain. :oP

As a side note, I just came back from a 20 km (12.4 miles) long bike ride... :D

I've got a masters degree in computer science and engineering. Also, I have DOMS from running the other day.

I think I do know what makes life a life. However, as an engineer, I'm dispassionate in choosing the best solution and it happens to be nuclear power.

Nice appeal to authority. I'm an engineer too, and find the idea of implementing a system that creates waste which we have no means to deal with, and which has a likelihood of creating such incredible damage to be appallingly illogical. No self-respecting engineer would claim the work to be finished unless all the problems are solved, especially one that big. Nuclear power should never have left the concept stage until all the work was done.

Jeppen was saying that he had a case of DOMS, which is essentially muscle fatigue from an intense workout.
What I suggest he take is perhaps some steroids or human growth hormone or something that will allow his body to recover more quickly so he won't get DOMS. It is great stuff, guaranteed to work and will give him a fast recovery.

Will he make the decision to not take the performance-enhancing drugs, yet still push nuclear power?
They both have questionable long-term effects. What makes one "wrong" and one "right", or are they both right in Jeppen's eyes?

What makes one "wrong" and one "right", or are they both right in Jeppen's eyes?

I just count the beans and come up with an expected surplus utility for nuclear and an expected deficit for steroids.

You know, size of risk: X%, magnitude of damage: Y, magnitude of benefit compared to alternatives: Z. For nuclear, Z > X*Y. For steroids, Z < X*Y. (Schwarzenegger might disagree, steroid benefit is not universal.)

Z > X*Y for all professional sports with respect to performance enhancing drugs. The stupid ones get caught and the smart ones know enough to stay under the radar and do enough to gain performance.

Z < X*Y for nuclear when you have alternatives.

About sports, yes, I agree.

Regarding nuclear, sadly, alternatives are worse.

I'm an engineer too, and find the idea of implementing a system that creates waste which we have no means to deal with, and which has a likelihood of creating such incredible damage to be appallingly illogical.

You exhibit perhaps the most common flaw among engineers: Perfectionism, not knowing when something is good enough. Engineers need to be borderline perfectionist and have a passion for architecturally sound solutions. But we should not really be perfectionists, because then we'll miss all windows of opportunities and never get something out the door, and we'll be miserable when management tries to get us to maximize customer value instead of just polishing the product.

Actually, we do have very acceptable ways to handle waste, and despite the "likelihood of creating such incredible damage", it is, all things considered, a big improvement over the current metods.

Nuclear power should never have left the concept stage until all the work was done.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. It would never have left with your attitude, and then we'd be even closer to climate calamity.

OK, figuring out how to solve a basic system problem like how to deal with the highly dangerous waste is perfectionism? Yes, those pesky details. You are twisting around so hard here you've tied yourself in a knot. Even if they'd solved that problem they'd be a long way from perfect.

What are you talking about? The problem has been technically solved ages ago. From day one, geological repositories have been almost a no-brainer and by now, methods are so over-researched and so safe that it is almost absurd. That politicians have a hard time deciding on go-aheads is not a technical problem at all.

It is possible to prevent very close to all the coal pollutants from escaping into the atmosphere. But CO2 is the big exception. If CO2 is going to melt Greenland and the Antarctica then I do not see how coal instead of nuclear is a good idea.

Carbon Capture and Storage would make coal so expensive that nuclear would be cheaper.

Nuclear's problem is the rare outlier event. That's why it is so fiercely debated. Look at Fukushima. A large tsunami is what it took to cause that rare outlier. Since tsunamis do not pose a threat to the vast majority of nuclear power plants the real question with nuclear is whether something else can cause the rare outlier. Okay, what else could cause a nuclear plant failure on the scale of Fukushima?

"Okay, what else could cause a nuclear plant failure on the scale of Fukushima?"

Three Mile Island:
"The mechanical failures were compounded by the initial failure of plant operators to recognize the situation as a loss-of-coolant accident due to inadequate training and human factors, such as human-computer interaction design oversights relating to ambiguous control room indicators in the power plant's user interface. In particular, a hidden indicator light led to an operator manually overriding the automatic emergency cooling system of the reactor because the operator mistakenly believed that there was too much coolant water present in the reactor and causing the steam pressure release."

"Toptunov mistakenly inserted the control rods too far, bringing the reactor to an unintended near-shutdown state. The exact circumstances are hard to know, because both Akimov and Toptunov died from radiation sickness... This restricted any further rise of reactor power, and made it necessary to extract additional control rods from the reactor core in order to counteract the (Xe neutron) poisoning... Since water also absorbs neutrons (and the higher density of liquid water makes it a better absorber than steam), turning on additional pumps decreased the reactor power further still. This prompted the operators to remove the manual control rods further to maintain power...an emergency shutdown of the reactor, which inadvertently triggered the explosion, was initiated. The SCRAM was started when the EPS-5 button (also known as the AZ-5 button) was pressed... The reason why the EPS-5 button was pressed is not known."

"According to NHK, the TEPCO operating manual calls for venting the vessel when pressure is projected to rise to 853 kilopascals—twice the operating limit—in order to prevent damage to the vessel and the release of radioactive materials. According to the data NHK obtained, the pressure was close to the maximum figure 13 hours before the explosion happened at 3:36 p.m. on 12 March. Yet TEPCO did not start the venting procedure until six-and-a-half hours before the explosion. The slow start meant workers sent to do the venting were hampered by dangerously high levels of radiation. Apparently, the fuel rods had already begun melting by then and radiation was leaking from the reactor into the building."

"Okay, what else could cause a nuclear plant failure on the scale of Fukushima?"

Ugly giant bags of mostly water.

The physical situation is just the set-up. The responses to it determine the outcome.


TMI happened when control room design was horrible from a human factors standpoint. That accident was pretty mild in outcome. Nothing approaching Fukushima or Chernobyl. I do not see TMI as having big negative implications for existing reactors of today, let alone for new reactors that have much better designs.

Chernobyl was the worst and was, not coincidentally, a much less safe design imposed by a communist government. The lesson here: communism bad.

Fukushima: This is really the most important of the 3 in terms of implications for the future because in theory it should have been upgraded to incorporate lessons learned. Though the mode of failure clearly does not apply to most other reactors which are not at threat from a tsunami threat. So does it matter even to reactors not vulnerable to tsunamis?

Your point about a flubbing of pressure venting is, yes, troubling. But the response determined the outcome? Maybe the explosions of the venting buildings were avoidable. But it still looks to me like the biggest problems were not avoidable once the wave knocked out the power needed to keep the reactors submerged in water.

I look at the commercial aircraft industry as a parallel for complex engineered devices. The safety rate has steadily improved due to lessons learned after each accident. Does the nuclear power industry still have such a large learning curve to go up that we can't trust them to operate upgraded existing reactors? Leave aside reactors that can get hit by a 40+ foot high wave.

I think the key question that Fukushima raised is whether the reactor systems are sufficient to keep them submerged in water under realistic disaster scenarios.

A good point: in theory they should have been upgraded to incorporate lessons learned. The same models of reactors in the United States had additional means of emergency gas venting and core cooling added to them. The Japanese units were not upgraded. In effect, where it really mattered, nothing was learned. This is the answer to the key question about keeping the cores submerged.

If the buildings had not exploded, it would be a lot easier to work on the reactor systems. The fuel storage pools would be intact. There would not be irradiated fuel rod components scattered over the site.

The tsunami "wave" floated the employees cars to near the level of the roofs, but did not leave any debris on top of the buildings. The notion that the basements have filled with radioactive water implies that they were empty before... which confuses any assumptions about the buildings filling with tsunami water. Here is a video of the tsunami taken from a hillside. It is like a tide that keeps rising rather than a wave or wall of water that hits:

It is not a question of designing reliable enough machines. Chernobyl's lesson is not "communism bad". The lesson is that people are idiots. It was a perfectly fine machine within the safe operating area of its variables. TMI was doing fine. A valve got stuck. Give it a whack with a hammer... works for the old Ferguson tractor, works for the nuclear reactor, works for the Millennium Falcon, too. But, do the wrong things, and you make the six o'clock news. Spin the right valve and knock a hole in the wall 4 (four) places and Fukushima sits largely intact.

My favorite accident is SL-1. A fellow climbed up on top of it, grabbed THE control rod, found it was stuck, unstuck it, and, in the follow-through, yanked it too far out of the core. The reactor hit 20 giga-watts in 4 milliseconds. He was pinned to the ceiling by the control rod passing through his crotch and out through his shoulder.
1st responder part 3
at about 8:15
1st responder part 4

Here is your nuclear burial site marker good for 100,000 years and easily understood by future cultures. Let's see now... prisoner, royal seal, human burial site... the sign says there is a royal burial site and something about a trapped spirit... Dig up the royal treasure!

Designs can be more or less forgiving of human mistakes and thus have massive failures at different rates. If the rate of massive nuclear failures is low enough, then it's a viable technology that should be used, since alternatives, on average, are worse.

The problem with most anti-nuclear activists is not that they assume that nuclear is fallible. It is! The problem is that they regard this as unacceptable. It isn't.

" ...unacceptable. It isn't."

Do you have any references for this statement, Jeppin?

> Produce a cost analysis of Chernobyl.
> Compare this to the financial condition of the Ukraine.
> Draw a conclusion.
> Provide references.

> Project a cost analysis of Fukushima.
> Compare
> Conclude
> Reference

For Japan, already in financial trouble, with people living in tents in riverbeds, this nuclear accident is perhaps the end. TEPCO is reduced to junk-bond status:

Tepco’s Corporate Ratings Cut to Junk by S&P:
"Tepco has sought government aid to help cover compensation costs from the disaster at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant"

A bailout from the people. No insurance. No company is willing to take the risk insuring such a venture.

A bailout from the people.

Such good libertarians they are, the nuclear industries...

I don't blame former Soviet citizens for being members of the communist party - it was simply the only way to get some things done. For libertarians and the nuclear industry alike, it's a similar situation all over the world. We are so regulated, taxed, subsidized that we cannot get anything done if we just accept all the burdens and don't take any of the relief that goes with it.


Do you have any references for this statement, Jeppin?

That depends, dear Katmandu, on what you'll accept. Let's talk big picture here. Nuclear provides 2.5 trillion kWh per year, world-wide. Since the dawn of time, a ballpark figure should be 60 trillion kWh.

Reasonable figures for Chernobyl costs become quite insignificant when divided by 60 trillion. I think it's too early to assess Fukushima costs, however, but I don't agree that this is even close to threatening the financial stability of Japan.

A non answer.
An open-ended invitation to reply.
Simple attention seeking.
Suffering divided by kilowatts.
Quite revealing.
The words are so very ugly.
It makes reading TOD disturbing.
Done with you.

The mysterious stranger:

If you think I seek attention, then perhaps you shouldn't write me poems. :-)

Marketwatch disagrees-- they think it is a fine time to start assessing the cost of Fukushima. Their estimates run from 70 billion to around a quarter trillion.


These estimates make very conservative assumptions-- only reimbursing residents living within a 20k radius, etc. So it would seem likely that these estimates will grow as time passes.

Even so, crap... 250 billion in two months? Isn't that, like, ten times the burn rate for the Iraq war?


The tsunami "wave" floated the employees cars to near the level of the roofs

The YouTube link you have is not of Fukushima, you know. It is of some shallow valley, that has a river with raised banks that runs down the middle of the valley.
I have not seen any videos of the tsunami at Fukushima, aside from a 4 second clip of one wave splashing. I assume that there is more, but it does not paint the correct picture.
Were you saying the the employees' cars were floated up to the roof of the buildings? The employee parking lot was up the cliff, except for a small lot uphill behind reactor 1, which didn't get wet, I thought. Did you have a reference?
There was a video of the Minamisouma Power Plant just up the coast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53rTFZXZW2Q Not much for Fukushima.

Yes, the video is of a town. It shows that a tsunami is a rapid flood, not a crashing wave.

I've seen a lot of images of the power plant facilities flooding. There are cars parked at the buildings that then float. There is a video taken from a distance that shows nothing. There is a video from a surveillance camera that shows the waters rising. There are many stills.

Martingugino, look near the bottom of this Fukushima thread. There I have posted a link to the actual instrument recordings of the power fluctuations at Fukushima... A subject you are greatly interested in. There are other links with drawings of reactor system configurations. There is a set of blow-by-blow descriptions of the first hour, including the power failure/generator start/generator failure.

Post a photo of a floating car at fukushima, please, if you can find them, and also of any video of the tsunami at fukushima 1. I have seen the photos taken at F2 at the southern end of the plant, with the fence, but not F1. Actually I did see a photo, here I imagine, of water just below the level of the vent pipes to the stack. But there hasn't been much.

It's not coal vs nuclear. It's coal AND nuclear and gas and wind and solar... One does not precludes the other. Coal is a bad choice and nuclear is a bad choice. It's misleading to create a false choice between them.

Okay, what else could cause a nuclear plant failure on the scale of Fukushima?

I don't know what else could cause catastrophic failure. I do know that we will find out. That's the rub, you don't know what is vulnerable till it breaks. According the the story up thread the threat of tsunami threat at Fukushima was considered zero, and only one page was dedicated to emergency planning. I wonder how many nuclear plants on flood planes or fault lines have similarly inadequate planning. We will find out. Sooner or later. As long as we run nuke plants we will find the new ways that they can fail.


A large tsunami is what it took to cause that rare outlier.

People who still go on about this just don't get it. They had every reason to believe a large Tsunami could hit the area, especially after the Aceh earthquake (Boxing Day 2004) produced a Tsunami estimated to be ~24 metres in height.

The cost of proper safety standards to protect against Earthquake and Tsunami were too high, so the risk was downgraded. Every nuclear plant around the world has a list of risks but many would have been downgraded in similar fashion. This is the lesson from Fukishima.

The mere fact that there were these old design reactors still in use, clearly indicates that the weakness in the entire system is the human element. Providing foolproof safety in/of nuclear plants is too costly, so risks get downgraded instead.

If bad nuclear accidents have happened on the upslope of energy supplies, how bad will it get on the downslope? As the rate of conflicts increase due to resource depletion, how juicy do the reactors become as targets?

"If bad nuclear accidents have happened on the upslope of energy supplies, how bad will it get on the downslope? As the rate of conflicts increase due to resource depletion, how juicy do the reactors become as targets?"

That's right! It seems that the most strident of the nuclear supporters assume and require that there be a BAU scenario to support their nuclear fantasies. And then we still haven't gotten our act together (maybe because we can't) for storing the waste crap.

I've had to bring this up again and again as it keeps getting forgotten - these nuclear plants are very tempting targets and also very vulnerable to power outages when located in conflict zones. Many are located in countries with long histories of violent changes, they've only been relatively peaceful for a short time. Do we really like assuming a nuclear MAD policy will keep them from targeting each others power plants?

It seems that the most strident of the nuclear supporters assume and require that there be a BAU scenario to support their nuclear fantasies.

Again it seems rather Ouroborean. We need the nuke plants to maintain BAU. And we need BAU ... so that we can maintain the nuke plants...

High radiation found on seabed in 300-km stretch off Fukushima

Radiation levels up to several hundred times normal have been detected on the Pacific seabed in a 300-kilometer-long area off the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the science ministry said Friday.

The ministry said high-level radioactive materials were detected on the seabed in a north-south stretch ranging from Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, to Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, and warned the contamination could affect the safety of seafood. The science ministry said it detected iodine and cesium on the seabed at 12 spots 15- to 50-km from the coastline between May 9 and 14

Hong Kong finds radioactive iodine in fish

A SMALL amount of radioactive iodine-131 has been found in a sample of fish taken from a wholesale market in Hong Kong, the Government said today.

International Atomic Energy Agency Fukushima Update Log:

"To protect against potential damage as a result of future earthquakes, TEPCO started work on 9 May to install a supporting structure for the floor of the spent fuel pool of Unit 4."

"Stagnant water with high levels of radioactivity in the basement of the turbine buildings of Units 1, 2 and 3 is being transferred to the condensers, the radioactive waste treatment facility, the high-temperature incinerator building and temporary storage tanks. Stagnant water in the basement of the turbine building of Unit 6 is being transferred to a temporary tank. Countermeasures against the outflow of water to the sea and to prevent and minimize the dispersion of radionuclides in water have been put in place."

Total cesium distribution map:

Radiation levels from food and water:
Ministry of Health Labor, and Welfare

National: Radioactivity across the country ( preliminary version ) | The Water radioactivity national | national radioactive rain | national food survey data radioactivity
Water Information: Toukyou | Saitama | Kanagawa | Tiba | Ibaraki
Reactor Fukushima: Exposure fuel rod | Water Level | Temperature container | Gas Temperature | dose | pressure containers | reactor pressure | pool temperature | injection volume | situation map restoration
Seawater Fukushima: Seawater (surface) | water (lower) | space marine | radiation dose
Fukushima: Schools such as radiation dose map | Hukuzima 20km-30km zone | Wed Hukushima accumulation of nuclear | nuclear power plutonium Hukushima
Diffusion: Japan Meteorological Agency | Weather Bureau Germany | Austria Weather Bureau | Bureau of Meteorology, UK | Norwegian Meteorological Bureau | Bureau of Meteorology Taiwan
Others: Press Release of Nuclear Safety Agency | Area Primary Ibaraki | Miyagi throughout
IS HERE, WITH GRAPHS where appropriate:

Summery of reactor status, #1, May 18:

360 degree panoramic views of the tsunami destruction:


From the IAEA link you gave, in the section on seawater

"There was a significant increase in levels of I-131 from about 8 to 80 kBq/L from 10 to 11 May, in parallel with the increase for both radiocaesium isotopes. This indicates that there is still some production of fission products. "

Once again I had hoped to find some more good information about what is happening over there, and there has in fact been a little. But just as on all the previous Fukushima threads a couple of posters have filled the comment section with absurdities, arguing about anything and everything just to raise the noise level. To be blunt, I knew that as soon as Jeppen found the thread it would become useless, and it has. It's very hard to find good information, and some here have been very helpful in gathering and referencing it, to which I am grateful. If only the comments could be restricted to the posting of information, but that would require a lot of work to police.

I feel your pain, but there just isn't that much data being released, and there is no single website that posts only data without commentary.

I'm not even sure how helpful that would be, because interpreting the information is equally important. For example, it's very interesting knowing that I-131 is showing up almost 2000 miles away from Fukushima....


But without a detailed comments section, how do we know what that means? Is something weird going on with bioaccumulation? Was the I-131 transported by water or air? Did the decay rate change? The answers to these questions could inform protective strategies. And I feel at some point soon, more vigorous protective strategies will need to be in place, and that is my main reason for being here.

Also, I think it's vitally important to maintain dialogue between people who disagree with each other. The skill set for problem resolution does not reside in one person, or in one discipline.


I agree with you that interpretation of the available information and discussion of such interpretations is most welcome. That is if the discussion focused on what is actually happening at Fukushima regarding release of radiactive substances and what could be inferred regarding the status of the reactors and its implication on future release. However, personally I would be very happy if I could avoid this endless and seemingly meaningless discussion on the future of nuclear power compared to other sources.

Once again I had hoped to find some more good information about what is happening over there, and there has in fact been a little. But just as on all the previous Fukushima threads a couple of posters have filled the comment section with absurdities, arguing about anything and everything

Sadly, I have to agree.

I knew that as soon as Jeppen found the thread it would become useless,

If the moderators were clear on which threads are info-only about current Fukushima developments and which are open for broader discussion, I guess we would have no problem. Some of us think that the discussions we have with each other has some qualities, or else we would not have them. For you it's noise, for me it isn't.

Oh, it has been made more than clear. If you want to discuss your fantasies of libertarian social organization, then that is what the DrumBeat is for (if you can get Leanan to put up with it), not on a Fukushima thread specifically marked as "open thread: Fukushima related comments welcome". But then you've been around here long enough to know that.

Obviously not. People rant about the evils of our capitalist organization and of the "illogical" nature of nuclear power in general and so on. Since I'm targeted now, I guess the rants and the defence of those rants were ok but my objections were not?

However, I'm easily domesticated. If moderators speak up and tell me (and perhaps rootlessagrarian, jokuhl, augjohnson, ramen and so on) to shut up unless what I/we say has immediate and specific (rather than through association or generalization) to Fukushima, I will abide and will generalize this to other threads.

(Btw: What's a "closed" thread, if this one is "open"?)

Governments have been covering up nuclear meltdowns for 50 years to protect the nuclear power industry, says this report at Washington's blog:

And there is no lack of cheerful news from the EneNews site:
"Japan’s science ministry has detected extraordinarily high levels of radioactive cesium in seafloor samples collected off Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures," says NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)

"We almost lost Detroit" (in 1966 due to a partial meltdown) is a book by a John G. Fuller published in 1975.

"If we do nothing, even Tokyo could become off limits," says Japanese polititian Ichiro Ozawa in a Wall Street Journal article.

etc, etc, etc

So this is an industry that has the acknowledged capacity to render large cities like Tokyo uninhabitable, and very large areas (the size of the state of Pennsylvania) uninhabitable. It has so far produced some 300,000 tons of nuclear waste that will remain radioactive for thousands of years and with which it does not know what to do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AWcle6lM_Q And yet this industry is advertised with a straight face as a source cheap and clean energy.

Stabilizing reactors by year's end may be impossible: Tepco

Stabilizing the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant by the end of the year may be impossible, senior officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday, throwing a monkey wrench into plans to let evacuees return to their homes near the plant.
Given that the contaminated water has leaked from the No. 1 reactor's containment vessel, a Tepco official said, "We must first determine where it is leaking and seal it.

Well, this isn't a surprise at all, is it? But of course, it's a completely acceptable occurrence for the privilege of using nuke power!


"In the middle of May 2011, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) posted information such as scans from paper recorders in the control rooms, computer alarm printouts, parameters plotted from highspeed data recorders (the nuclear equivalent to aircraft black boxes), and operator log books online at":
Google web page translation:

A lot of it is big PDFs that the web page translator does not do. Pieces will have to be copied into the text translator.

Fukushima Dai-Ichi Unit 3: The First 80 Minutes:

So, here (above) are the system drawings everybody wanted back in April. I remember all the discussion about steam powered pumps. They exist. But electric pumps were also part of the system. My reading of these papers leaves the impression that the emergency systems still could not function without power.

The final lines are:
"The indicated reactor vessel level was about 250 mm higher after the 30-minute data gap than just before it began. But the indicated water level remained constant for the next three minutes or so – highly suspect and totally inconsistent with the expected water level response due to SRV cycling during that interval.

It appears that neither the RCIC nor HPCI systems were used between 2:52 pm and 4:00 pm. It’s not clear why they were not used to correct the steadily declining reactor vessel level after 3:35 pm."


More drawings. Each picture worth 1000 words.
An interesting design has the reactor makeup water blocked when the turbine steam is shut down.
A similar conclusion at the end of the analysis: What happened?


At the end of this story, the #2 reactor is perhaps not doomed like #1 and #3: There is an indication of water covering the core. By this time cores #1 and #3 are fully exposed. However:
"Around 3:04 pm, a significant downward step change in the reactor vessel water level occurred as shown in the chart above. The level dropped from 1,200 millimeters (47.2 inches) to around 800 mm (31.5 inches) in less than a minute." There may be a problem with the instruments.

I forgot to rant. A formality, you know. Poor form otherwise...

TEPCO and the government had immediate knowledge that at least two reactors had melted down.

"Fuel ballooning and bursting"
"In less than half an hour, the peak core temperature would reach 1,100 K (1,520 °F). At this temperature, the zircaloy cladding of the fuel rods may balloon and burst... In this case, sufficient water addition can cool the core and stop core damage progression."

At 2 degrees F per second, about 1000 seconds, 20 minutes, later:

"Rapid oxidation"
"The next stage of core damage, beginning at approximately 1,500 K (2,240 °F), is the rapid oxidation of the Zircaloy by steam. In the oxidation process, hydrogen is produced and a large amount of heat is released. Above 1,500 K (2,240 °F), the power from oxidation exceeds that from decay heat..."

Timeline from:

Do we know how much of the cooling system was operable by battery power? My understanding has been that the batteries would be able to keep the control room operating, as well as the valves that would enable the steam powered pumps to function, but would not be able to actually run any electric pumps. So even without the back-up diesel generators, there should have been cooling for 8 hours or so. That is assuming no pipe breaks due to the earthquake, and also assuming that switchgear flooding in the basements would not have disabled the battery power.

I've got to admit, it's a bit confusing. It initially appears the cores were completely uncovered within an hour after the earthquake. Reading through again...

Here are some words from the report for #3:

> The available information for Unit 3 does not extend long after the arrival of the tsunami, and does not extend to the point at which fuel in the reactor core was damaged by overheating. Much of the available information ends at 4:05 pm local time, about 80 minutes after the earthquake occurred at 2:46 pm.

> The reactor shut down around 2:46 pm local time
> The water level inside the reactor vessel steadily declined
> By 4:00 pm, the water level had dropped below the bottom end of the level monitoring scale.
> For this instrument, 0 mm corresponds to the bottom of the steam separators
> Zero on this scale is 3,940 mm (155 inches or nearly 13 feet) above the top of the reactor core.

--Ah, so there is still 13' of water to go. My mistake.--

> The feedwater system features steam-driven pumps
> About a minute after the reactor shut down, the main steam isolation valves (MSIVs) closed.
> closure of the MSIVs made the feedwater pumps unavailable.
> Unit 3 had a reactor core isolation cooling (RCIC) system to handle the water inventory loss
> The RCIC system uses a steam-driven turbine connected to a pump to supply makeup water to the reactor vessel. The steam is produced by the reactor core’s decay heat. The connection for RCIC’s steam supply is on the steam piping between the reactor vessel and the MSIVs. The steam exhausted from the RCIC turbine flows to the torus.

--This is a separate feedwater system--

> The RCIC system’s turbine controls and valves are battery powered. ...it can operate when only battery power is available.
> It appears that the RCIC system went in service around 4:02 pm. As shown in the following chart, the water level inside the reactor vessel had already dropped below zero (with zero being the elevation of the instrumentation tap, well above the top of the reactor core) before 4:00 pm.
> The available information does not explain why the water level in Unit 3 dropped below zero by 4:00 pm. The RCIC system appeared to be operable, yet was apparently not operated – except for perhaps during the 30-minute data gap beginning at 3:00 pm. As the following chart shows, the high pressure coolaint injection (HPCI) system apparently did not operate either. The HPCI system is basically a larger verison of the RCIC system with about 10 times the makeup capacity.
> The charts above... suggest that after the MSIVs closed at 2:48 pm, there was little to no supply of makeup water to the reactor vessel until the data ends at 4:05 pm.

So the emergency systems run on steam and batteries but did not seem to completely engage.

How do you read it?

1000 CPS Radiation Reading from Koriyama Sample:

That is one thousand clicks per second. The meter squeels when held to the small sample. Away from the sample, the background is quite low.

"This soil sample was taken by www.Safecast.org at Koriyama on May 17, 2011. That is 60km away from the plants (30km outside the exclusion zone), 2 months after the earthquake and tsunami and over 1000 times higher than the normal room reading (which is between 0 and 1...)."

"Though these samples were found in roof drains and thus would be more concentrated than average levels on the ground, these are extremely high figures: For reference, the forced evacuation level at Chernobyl was 1.48 million Bq/m2 of cesium-137 ground contamination, while the corresponding voluntary evacuation level was 185,000 Bq/m2."