The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi powerplant has worsened significantly as it becomes clear that one and possibly two reactors there have suffered a breach in primary containment, making the incident definitely the second worst nuclear accident yet seen. Nonetheless its human consequences seem certain to remain …
Declaration of interests
Lewis, could you please declare your interests. Are you being paid by the nuclear industry to post upbeat messages about this nuclear disaster?
Re: Declaration of interests
I'd like to point out at this juncture that opinions of all strengths are often made with no money changing hands whatsoever, and anyone who assumes that there must be some interest to be declared whenever a controversial view is aired is a twit. Thanks for listening.
RE Declaration of interests
Mikew, could you please declare your interests. Are you being paid by the wind turbine industry to post downbeat messages about this nuclear incident?
.. wow, this Ad Hominem 'declare someone to be a shill' stuff is piss-easy, isn't it?
On the other hand...
Doommongers and assorted smugholes might be beholden to The Green Lobby, who knows.
Awaiting commentards referring to incomprehensible garbage written by Nostradamus any moment now.
Right you are...
... I would think that is quite obvious at this point; the Japanese PM is evacuating tens of thousands of people, the severity has been upgraded to 6 (just one notch below Chernobil but there is no chance for a solution in sight). What I question is why The Reg lets these ridiculously biased articles being published; it seriously undermines the credibility of an otherwise fine publication...
been upgraded to 6
This is absolutely fair enough.
But there is typically _some_ editorial control exercised when opinions stray over the line from, say, "strongly supportive of nuclear power" into "smugly patting oneself on the back while japan is still suffering aftershocks, when there are people being evacuated, and when the infamously taciturn emperor of japan is making almost unprecedented public announcements"
I happen to sit in broadly the same pro-nuclear camp as the author. But the timing and the tone of these two articles is astoundingly poor.
I don't care what lobby is paying Lewis, but if he's being paid for these incredibly crass articles then somebody is chucking their gold into a pisspot.
Likelihood of passing moderation 4% and falling ...
Agree, not really journalism let alone IT stuff
As a long standing naysayer, obviously the multi billion effort is now taking huge amounts of resource that could probably be useful elsewhere.
For what? My local nuke powerstations (Scotland) generally only work a couple of months a year (there is a small problem so one hot water heater gets shutdown - fixed - started up while the other was offline for several months for routine maintenance, we're lucky if there ever work and they cost a fortune). And then they cost billions just to take them slowly apart and bury bits in concrete and stuff.
If Japan didn't have these steam engine generators they would be in a much better position. I hope they get there as quickly as possible.
Don't forget that like the earthquake magnitude scale, the IAEA scale is logarithmic, meaning that a '6' as recently suggested by French authorities is supposedly one tenth as severe as Chernobyl.
The IAEA has yet to rule on the INES level. Lots of people have speculated though.
Also the level has very little to do with the amount of radioactivity released. Three mile released more curies than Windscale but it was almost all radioactive gas with a half life of a few hours. Windscale actually released bits of fissile material and burnt fuel into the countryside. The fallout from windscale was far worse than TMI. If this is a level 6 then windscale should have been a 7.
And at all of the Fukushima reactor the steel pressure vessel is still in place. Even at TMI the fuel never made it out of the pressure vessel and something like 1/3rd of the fuel is sat in a solid lump at the bottom of it because it had a meltdown under power. The crack in the pressure supresion ring is not really any different to them venting steam, there are still many layers between the fuel rods and the outside world. The Chernobyl scenario where the core itself is exposed to fresh air and daylight (which pretty much happened at Windscale given the cooling method!) would require some pretty spectacular failures to achieve. It would also take some pretty huge fire to breach the fuel rods stored in the cooling ponds as zircaloy melts at over 2000degC. (if you believe the 9/11 nuts, they claim even a jet fuel fire won't damage steel so zircaloy should have no issues)
Safety is no accident.
"... I would think that is quite obvious at this point; the Japanese PM is evacuating tens of thousands of people, the severity has been upgraded to 6 (just one notch below Chernobil but there is no chance for a solution in sight). What I question is why The Reg lets these ridiculously biased articles being published; it seriously undermines the credibility of an otherwise fine publication..."
Are you really that daft?
While the odds of anything really bad happening, and luckily no serious injuries have occurred, don't you think that it makes sense to still take precautions?
Here in Illinois there are something like 6+ active nuke plants where 2 of the oldest plants are near a fault line. (Not a very active fault line since we don't get many earthquakes in IL that are even noticeable.)
Since these plants have the same design, the local nutters are wiggin out.
Common sense points out the following:
1) Illinois (USA) hasn't had a *major* earthquake in years.
Largest earthquake recorded was measured at 5.3. Note the scale is *logarithmic*
That was back in '68 I think.. well before you were born. 5.3 vs 9.0, big difference.
2) Tsunami? If Illinois got hit with a Tsunami, either you'd be dead, or this guy Noah really existed...
The point is that as Lewis brilliantly pointed out in his first article that the safety features worked, albeit that the plant took a hit at 9.0 harder than it was initially designed for, and that if the back up generators and their backups hadn't failed, we wouldn't have had this problem in the first place.
What I find troubling are twits like yourself. You want electricity but you don't want to be realistic about what it takes to generate it. Nuke plants being designed today are safer that the plants designed 30+ years ago. But they wont get built because of the FUD being created by these mindless twits who protest anything at a drop of the hat.
Fossil fuels? Yeah, we've got one of the oldest and dirtiest coal plants just across the state lines in Indiana that supplies power to Chicago and beyond. This plant was grandfathered so that it didn't have to shut down or put very expensive upgrades to reduce their emissions. (The power companies exploited a loophole that allowed older plants that should have been phased out from getting these mandatory upgrades.) But again, protesters about the CO2 emissions. Solar? Not good enough? Wind? Not good enough and many would protest about the ecological damages that Solar and Wind generators do to the environment. (Yes, they do have an ecological impact too.)
Do the math. Nuke power is necessary and cleaner and safer than other forms of energy. In fact, I'll wager that you have had more deaths involved in the production of non-nuclear energy than you do from nuclear energy.
Why read this dude?
Mike is 100% correct. This Lewis cupcake has been unerringly blatantly 180 degrees wrong about every single aspect of this debacle since it began to unfold.
Every prognostication he's made has been completely refuted by facts at ground zero within 6 to 24 hours. This is irresponsible, not just dumb.
Why is anyone even bothering to read this guy?
He should demand a refund for that Cambridge degree in Engineering.
Is it only me
Is it only me that is getting really bored of trolls:
1) Accusing authors / other commentards of being paid corporate shills
Sure - it does happen, but when you accuse someone of being a shill, just because you disagree with them, kinda makes you sound like a shill.
2) Moaning in your (published) comment that your comment is unlikely to pass moderation ('cos their out to get you).
My God - Have you never read any reg comments before? Seriously go read some; criticism of an article or author pov, or just bat-shit crazy conspiracy ramblings are all a-ok as far as the mods are concerned.
>But the timing and the tone of these two articles is astoundingly poor.
Yeah updating your readers on a unfolding major international story really is bad form.
and pointing out that although this is serious almost no-one has died (1 crane op in an accident last I heard) but some scummy jurnos we getting this confused with the huge amount of dead from earthquake/tsunami is really terrible. Its almost like Lewis wants to get those facts recognized.
re: Is it only me
Firstly, you don't appear to understand what the term "troll" means. It's pretty common ... look it up before you next pluck it out of your ad hom basket.
Secondly, you mean "they're" not "their".
And thirdly, I made the moderation comment because my response to the previous article /was/ moderated. It clearly didn't include enough bat-shit conspiracy theory rambling.
If you're genuinely bored, you could always turn off your interwebs and do some work.
Anyone who seems to assume that someone is off base asking for a declared interest in todays world is not paying attention. Just because you agree with the original post does not mean it should be taken as fact without question. You feel that opinions should be allowed. You are correct. You feel that controversial views are allowed. You're correct again. You and the original posted however seem to be losing track of the distinction between advocacy and reportage. Mr Pages articles all read like they are written by a flak or nuclear fan-boy. They are littered with not just opinion, but rah-rah cheer leading. I admit that I feel strongly that perspective on "safety" from outside the containment of the nuclear industries echo chamber seems seriously lacking from The Reg. Time after time there have been nuclear accidents including many injuries after full assurances have been given about safety. Those injuries are not counted because they were not "commercial" power plant accidents. Still nuclear accidents don't make distinctions about who they kill, or leave homeless. Bottom line - "We almost lost Detroit" in a nuclear accident that almost no one knows about (there is a book about it). And every time you look under a rock, you find deception in the so called safety as it is proposed and implemented by the nuclear industry (and TEPCO in particular). Please think about how many times TEPCO has already been caught falsifying safety records. Don't believe me - read another author for The Reg - Rik Myslewski. His article at the following link is required reading. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/15/fukushima_reactor_shell_reported_breached/
Now is name calling really how you want to spend your time...?
by France ... Japan's main business rival in exporting nuclear technology.
Correct question: Mr. Page, could you please tell us where the spent fuel ponds are situated and - once you found out and told us, could you please also tell us why that placement is highly worrying indeed?
Re Declaration of interests
It's good to read the truth, rather than the FUD the media is spreading.
The BBC has just reported some US official saying that it was worse than Three Mile Island. True, but meaningless.
Three Mile Island resulted in no deaths,injuries, or dangerous radiation exposure. Most people nearby got about 1% of a year's background radiation. Nobody got more than a year's worth.Yet nowadays, it's seem as a major disaster. Total nonsense.
You think so?
"If Japan didn't have these steam engine generators they would be in a much better position."
If Japan hadn't built nuclear powerstations, they would not have gotten their economy to what it was just before the quake. Japan has few natural resources, and hydro, wind and solar can't cover their current needs by a long shot.
Good points Ian. I like how you summed it up and pointed out that Nuclear in the long run is actually better for us than fossil fuels. Job well done. :)
His first article was certainly full of enough zeal to make folks a little uncomfortable, but the point is sound.
"Nonetheless its human consequences seem certain to remain insignificant against the horrifying backdrop of the earthquake tragedy elsewhere in Japan"
Media's focusing on the wrong tragedy.
Six of one ...
"[...] anyone who assumes that there must be some interest to be declared whenever a controversial view is aired is a twit."
Something several of your journalists seem to be guilty of, no?
Jumping on the band wagon
If you are talking specifically about the nuclear plants, how much of a disaster is it? We don't know yet. Fear mongering speculators will say it's horrific, more calm and less pant wetting types will say it's bugger all. As far as the world is aware so far no one has died of radiation poisoning, the only people to die at the plant have been caught in explosions.
I also love how all the countries are talking about seeing if their nuke plants could withstand an earthquake like that when Fukushima sustained very little damage from the earthquake. What caused all the problems was the huge tsunami which came in.
It really doesn't help with the US saying it's all going to blow up and everyone should run for miles when their people know less about what is going on at the plant than the Japanese government. Damn fear mongering yanks, If one of your nuke plants went up like this you would just abandon it and let it melt down.
Media Focuses on the now not the past.
Yeah, its a cynical position.
But the Quake and Tsunami have passed.
Unlike Katrina, the Japanese people are handling the lack of food/supplies like normal rational people.
Until there are riots the only news is that the recovery process is happening. So what does it take to report on the sad number of fatalities?
But the nuke disaster is happening now.
So the reporters are like vultures watching a train wreck happening and reporting on it.
They are just pandering to us, the viewers and readers.
"just because you disagree with them, kinda makes you sound like a shill"
Lewis is dishonest by omission, whether he is in the pay or not, look at this example of careful manipulation
"Edano stated this morning that efforts to get water into the pool are to begin shortly using pumps on the ground, an earlier plan to drop it from helicopters having been abandoned. Edano said it was important to add water gradually "as there are safety concerns" with dumping a large amount in at once."
Note, he does not mention the reason why first attempt to use the helicopters was abandoned - why does Lewis omit that.
Secondly, an worse, the next sentence is very deliberately places to suggest the first attempt was abandoned because of the concerns with dumping water.
So, it is not disagreeing, it is despising news manipulation, it is be dishonesty by omission. Lewis is not reporting news at all, he is promoting the nuclear agenda - paid or not it does not matter.
A lone voice crying in the wilderness
Thanks again, Lewis, for another calm, dispassionate look at the risks and outcomes of the Fukushima incident. Unfortunately, I think you will be drowned out by a chorus of doom crying commentards, as usual.
I don't think it means what you think it means.
Hello. My name is...
Game The System
Submit some burbling nonsense about doom crying ecotards. Instantly win 40+ upvotes.
"Thanks again, Lewis, for another calm, dispassionate [...]"
... thumb me down, but Lewis isn't being dispassionate, and the OP is guilty of burbling nonsense.
If you find yourself in ready agreement with such a manifestly inaccurate statement, do us all a favour, hop off the bandwagon, just for a minute, and give yourself a good, hard kick in the clue gland.
I'm not attacking nuclear power (if anything, I have been impressed by the plants withstanding a 9.0 as well as they have ); I'm attacking your obvious group think.
While I'm here. Learn some politics. If you think that nuclear power is safe and wish to convince others of that thesis, wait for all the ecotards to be proven wrong by events and then give them both barrels. Light up your pub talk / dinner party / chess social / facebook / twitter / blog with "I told you so you stupid hippie freaks". When the reactors and emotions have cooled.
As the moment you are driving people away from your cause, with some very ill-timed hubris.
Sounds like a PR exercise
This entire episode has come across like a PR exercise in damage control. With every passing day, the news is progressively worse, and things we were assured "couldn't possibly occur" are now happening. The plant operators are either incompetent or dishonest.
Perhaps this won't turn out to be a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl, but the constant revision of the facts and ongoing uncertainty about the real state of the reactors has seriously undermined my perception of the safety of nuclear power.
Yes, but that's the nature of facts isn't it?
Perhaps if they'd released a press release the day after the first explosion entitled 'HOLY SHI T WE ARE FUCKED' we'd all be laughing about it now, eh?
If you take the balance of reporting in the mainstream media, most of it is focused on the nuclear power station as it's far more exciting and less depressing than watching people pulling their dead relatives out of collapsed houses.
Plus you can have much sexier graphics and make it far more scary. I mean the earthquake was like, days ago, right?
the constant revision of the facts
You mean, like, real science?
As more information becomes available you adjust your model and your hypothesis.
It's only religions and the frothinggreenies* that refuse to adjust their stance regardless of any changes to the observed facts.
*Frothinggreenies is copyright of me and I waive all rights to royalties now and future for its use.
You mean, like, real science?
"You mean, like, real science?"
Apparently you wouldn't be able to recognize real science if it was biting you in the elbow.
I mean, last time I checked no journal editor published my any of my papers the day after I had an idea...
Ah, I see, you were being "analogical" there. Bad analogy anyway. Very bad. Not even getting into the whole testing thing.
revision of the facts
@Ian Stephenson: "As more information becomes available you adjust your model and your hypothesis. It's only religions and the frothinggreenies* that refuse to adjust their stance regardless of any changes to the observed facts."
I'm not talking about the observable facts as they actually unfold - I'm referring to the "facts" we have been given about the design of powers stations, disaster planning, and the projected implications of the inflicted damage.
For example, I recently read an article by the same author describing this as a 'triumph' for nuclear power. Let's be frank - it isn't. I was alarmed to read that they had not planned for an earthquake of this magnitude, or for a tsunami to sweep away the emergency generators. The "science" that assured us this was a safe design was wrong. The "science" said there was a planned management process for the disaster was wrong. The "science" that initially told us there was no cause for concern was wrong. Am I now supposed to feel confident about future assurances from this "science"?
There's a disturbing arrogance to this "science" that gives us these assurances, and ploughs ahead without due diligence. How do you think the people living near this reactor would have felt if the designers of the power station had admitted it might completely fall apart if a really big earthquake hit? I'm all for science (and nuclear energy), but I think we need a lot more transparency in future. Even now, I get the impression there has been every attempt to disguise how serious this could have been (and might still be). If we try to shout down people who complain about this dishonesty, we will only give science a bad reputation.
"I mean, last time I checked no journal editor published my [sic] any of my papers the day after I had an idea..."
Perhaps they read your first few sentences and noticed that you don't even proofread, and chucked your papers for that reason. :)
I dunno. I think they'd be much more interested in pictures of
them pulling out the dead bodies if only there were more pictures of that to be had. The Japanese people seem to have done a generally good job of evacuating areas that allegedly could not be effectively evacuated in the case of a event of this magnitude. So I'd say the so called mainstream journalists are just fuck-all pissed that the Japanese are screwing up the templates for all of their tear-jerker stories. But the radiation scare works better for the new stations anyway because they get to keep asserting that experts can't KNOW there won't be significant ill effects because most of the ill effects will occur in the far future.
Seeing cars race away trying to outrun that tsunami is not 'evacuating'. There was hardly any time for that, between the 9.0 quake and the wave, and the results are clear: 3500 confirmed dead is the latest figure I heard, and at least that number missing. And if you aren't seeing Japanese rescue workers pulling dead people out of piles of debris, you're simply not looking.
Evacuating is what was done afterwards to get people away from a *potential* second disaster, which plant workers and others are working very hard keeping it as small as possible.
I did think it, but I thought it would look like sour grapes if I said that.
Plus I have a habit of littering mistakes on any grammar nazi post i make....
He's entitled to his opinion of my post, though I would like to point out I made an analogy, I was not being "analogical" though given the spelling of recognised I put this down to him being American.
@ Ralph 5
"For example, I recently read an article by the same author describing this as a 'triumph' for nuclear power. "
Do you not understand that the reactors survived a quake that was upgraded and registered 9.0?
That is beyond the designed rating. And yes, 9.0 is an order of magnitude worse than an 8.0.
The reactors failed as planned.
What didn't go as planned is that they they got hit by the Tsunami and both series of back up generators failed.
Let me be clear. The back ups failed, and the back up generators to the back ups failed. (That's two levels of redundancy)
Its the lack of water pumping to continue the cooling process is what's causing the trouble and danger.
The point is that the quake and tsunami combo punch was a disaster beyond what the designers comprehended.
Lewis is right. The fact that the plant survived the quake intact and the disaster isn't worse is a bit of a triumph.
"The "science" that assured us this was a safe design was wrong. "
You appear to be labouring under the misapprehension that it was "science" that decided how resilient to make the plant, when it was actually the bean counters. The scientists designed it to survive the level of quake and tsunami they were told to - five times weaker than the one they actually faced in the event. That the plant has survived at all means you could criticise them for over-engineering, but that might seem a little churlish if you do it at the same time as screaming at them for the problems the plant is now facing.
@Ian Michael Gumby
"Do you not understand that the reactors survived a quake that was upgraded and registered 9.0?
That is beyond the designed rating. And yes, 9.0 is an order of magnitude worse than an 8.0.
As has been said several times -- 9.0 at the *epicentre* is different to 9.0 at the site. Most sources claim the quake was within operating margins at the site of the power plant.
The reactors failed as planned.
"The point is that the quake and tsunami combo punch was a disaster beyond what the designers comprehended."
Q. What is the main cause of tsunamis?
If you plan for an earthquake in coastal Japan and don't plan for a subsequent tsunami, you are demonstrating a massive lack of judgement.
Real science is OK
@teacake: "You appear to be labouring under the misapprehension that it was "science" that decided how resilient to make the plant, when it was actually the bean counters."
I agree with you entirely - please note that I enclosed "science" in quotation marks when I made those statements because I see many of the assurances about this plant as a PR exercise by bean counters masquerading as science. Real science will be harmed if we tolerate this kind of nonsense. The reality is that this plant was poorly planned (no allowance for a tsunami??) and the response to the disaster was poorly executed. Trying to pretend that this was a success will only make everyone suspect every assurance made by the nuclear industry as a whole.
@ @AC: Published
"I put this down to him being American"
Hey, no need to start the name calling! I'm a South American though, does that count?
And doesn't your computer show quotes, like "this"? You know implying a bad "analogical" joke? Does not know science OR sarcasm, I see.
By the way...
Nitpick, I know, but I keep forgetting to mention also (in the 1st AND 2nd post) that science does not usually "revise facts". It revises hypotheses, and later theories, derived from the increasingly accumulating facts. See, you learn so much on these forums it's not even funny.
"I put this down to him being American"
Nope purely spelling recognised being English and recognized being the American spelling
I just assumed it was a word used in America, because I have never come across it here in the UK.
As a South American it would probably make for sense for you to have learned the American spellings than our spellings.
Please accept my humble apologies for any unintended slight. The post was more to make sure you knew it was not me who posted as AC.
I am not getting into the whole "There is no such thing as American English" argument. That I save for installing new software.
Again, this propaganda is just ridiculous: the "expert" you are talking about has been debunked as a member of the business management department; MIT has retracted the paper as the credentials of the author (who usually writes about topics such as "Human resource management practices in China") render his views no more relevant than mine (or even worse - yours). Demagogy at it's finest!
Experts? Or students?
From the about page of the MIS NSE blog: "This is a blog written by the students of MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering department, with the support of our faculty." http://mitnse.com/about-2/
RE: Experts? Or students?
Hmmm, it is a quandary who to believe. Students of Nuclear Science and Engineering or the average el Reg Commentard...
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