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back to article Fukushima on Thursday: Prospects starting to look good

The story of the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant continues to unfold, with reports suggesting that the situation with respect to the three damaged reactors at the plant may soon be stabilised without serious consequences. The focus of attention has now moved to problems at a pool used to keep …

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proof by blatant assertion

Continually throughout this thread there seems to be an assumption that TEPCO are accurately reporting the situation.

I think, bearing in mind not only their track record, but also that of the nuclear power industry in general that you should wait

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting article ...

... in that lefty, ecotard rag the WSJ about TEPCO falsifying their safety records:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703363904576200533746195522.html

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Yes.

And thereby hangs the seed of people's distrust of nuclear plants and their "overestimation" of the risks when they go wrong.

While the first Page missive on this unfolding fiasco was rather condescending to the worried masses and very reasoned in the argument as to why they were worrying needlessly, it was inevitable that the real situation would devolve around people's lying about what was going on and how bad things are, and that the situation would turn into a word-eater for anyone not screaming that the sky was falling.

And all because the people who should be dealing with the issue are more concerned with making it all look fine. It was those concerns that caused the confinement of the hydrogen that resulted in multiple explosions (and in terms of public panic I would think that radioactive steam is bad, but exploding radioactive steam is much worse).

The real issue here isn't how undangerous it will all turn out to have been 20 years down the road, it is the seeming gravitational attraction the industry has for unmitigated liars when it all starts to go pear-shaped.

There's really no place for optimists in the nuclear power generation business.

And for what it's worth, I am a long-time proponent of nuclear power generation. But not when it's being run by these bastards.

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Anonymous Coward

First hand information

My step-son, who is a USN reactor specialist, has been on site at Fukushima. While he refuses to be specific, he tells me the reports are largely soothing fictions to calm the public, and we should not believe anything we hear or see on the news.

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Flame

How very dare you?

We don't want your steenking 'facts' here.

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wim
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funny how Lewis swings

Needless to say this is not the general perception around the world - but hopefully the facts speak for themselves.

the negative reporting is perception

the positive reporting are facts

I think it would be prudent to wait a month or six before we establish what is a fact and what is PR spin.

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What a river in Egypt!

Lewis is displaying truly remarkable denial. Perhaps he'd like to visit the site and, using kitchen tools, take out the spent fuel rods from the boiled-away pool and take them back to his house. On a remote island somewhere.

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Sigh

One thing a lot of people have overlooked in these articles on El Reg is that Lewis is basing his articles on the information available to him, whether its from World Nuclear News, science journals or astrological predictions. If a statement he makes today turns out to be incorrect due to a lack of information on his part, like a government witholding certain details for example, it's not really fair to crucify him because of it.

I've been following events closely through a number of articles on a number of websites and while there's no denying it does take a pro-nuclear stance, at least it doesn't seem to revel in the destruction while crying about the Hugh Manatee.

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@ Fred Goldstein ...

... what on earth do kitchen tools have to do with this? Lewis has not once over-simplified the difficulties being faced with once this unprecedented crisis is over. However, he has countered the ignorance being spouted elsewhere, including by American "specialists". If you wish to call that denial, then fine, and I shall wear the badge with pride.

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I don't know about the kitchen tools ...

... and I can't speak for Lewis, but if all those angry Reg readers who support Fred Goldstein's suggestion will club together to sponsor a couple of tickets I'd be delighted to go to Japan.

For a few decades now I have been on record as saying that I'd be happy to have a suitable quantity of vitrified nuclear waste in my garden; or even under the house, come to that. (Somewhere in the region of 2 to 5 kW with a suitable heat-pump seems appropriate.) Distributed storage could make it too difficult to use for nefarious purposes and domestic central heating from the decay heat would be close to carbon neutral.

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He is downplaying the risk

and acting as if press reports, from practically everyone else, are exaggerated. Radiation is escaping and the local radiation is preventing people from getting in and fixing things. His wild-eyed optimism is unjustified, and brings disrepute on the news coverage here.

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Dead Vulture

Lewis is *deliberately* self-deluded, so it's not an excuse.

Choosing to take only information that agrees with your pre-judged conclusions, aka "cherry-picking the evidence", is the essence of self-delusion. It's not an excuse that he failed to inform himself from multiple sources, it must have been the consequence of some deliberate choice. WNN and IAEA are just reporting what TEPCO tells them with about a 12 hour delay (and it should have been obvious to anyone who compares the press releases that that's what they were doing - when I checked all the sites, at Lewis' suggestion, neither of them had anything beyond what was stated in TEPCO's releases and a bit of commentary based on the assumption that TEPCO's information was truthful and complete), and TEPCO's statements have very obviously been deliberately vague and omitted vital pertinent details at times, details that nonetheless did make it into other news reports. For example, the news that they were relying on a bunch of passing fire-tenders that they flagged down and begged to help has been available(*) since Sunday (not through TEPCO, but through other news sites easily googled), but there was no mention of it in Lewis' first article posted lunchtime Monday: it just says ...

"The plant operators thus bit the bullet and fell back on yet another backup system: they injected seawater mixed with boric acid"

Well, sorry. Begging up a few passing fire engines to pump water around for you is not "yet another backup system"; it is the equivalent of pissing on the warp-core to stop it blowing up, it is evidence of final last-ditch desparation measures. That information was available, but Lewis failed either to find or to report it. Similarly, this very article says "TEPCO admits that portions of fuel rod continue to be uncovered at times", when in fact what TEPCO have admitted is that at two reactors the entire cores have been at least 50% uncovered for a prolonged time.

It is hard to see these as anything other than deliberate omissions for the sake of spin. That's not an unfortunate lack of information, it would be a voluntary decision to ignore inconvenient facts. If you kid yourself, *you* are responsible for your subsequent errors.

(*) - Earliest reference I could find to fire tenders being relied on for pumping: Sat 12th. -

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/japans-earthquake-hit-nuclear-plant-may-be-in-meltdown-say-experts/story-e6frf7jx-1226020327791

I didn't read it myself until Sunday, but it was certainly no secret by Monday lunchtime when Lewis' first article went up; many people reported it, but not Lewis.

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Nuclear FAIL

If this is a nuclear "triumph" I hope i'm nowhere near if there is ever a nuclear "catastrophe"...

Where did it all go right, Lewis?

The reg has seriously discreditted itself with poor analysis and shoddy reporting of this appalling situation. Shame on you!

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releisum fail

the earthquake was a disaster

the why the plant was engerneared and maned was a triumph that prevented a catastrophe

but are the oil refinarys still burning? I would like to see ANY other moden power plant or isdustral sector hold up and not release toxins or the like

radaition is not realy much more dangrouis than hear and fire it is just we can not sence radioactivity so do not know to move away

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Wow, you are full of it

El Reg are one of the few media outlets reporting this story with any level of calm or scientific analysis. Most places are just banging on about explosions and nuclear material without putting any of it into context.

People seem to have decided that the situation is all down to this being a nuclear reactor, and not a nuclear reactor hit by several extremely powerful natural disasters. Given the extraordinary circumstances, the facility seems to have performed astonishingly well, and desperately trying to claim that this is a "catastrophe" makes you look like an imbecile.

With the country in ruins and tens of thousands dead, you're all pointing to another potential incident and screaming about how appalling it is. As if nothing else happened in Japan that day... Way to miss the real catastophe, moron.

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Safer than coal

2,433 coal miners died last year in China alone. Nuclear power is safer than it appears.

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Happy

Triumph ...

... no deaths due to radiation, no long-lasting damage to land, four reactors all in one, albeit very second-hand, piece. All this following one of the worst earthquakes in recorder history and a tsunami that would have been unbelievable if it had been seen in a movie. Add in the possibility that this happened at the worst possible time, i.e. just after one of the reactors had been de-fuelled for maintenance, and the possibility that there may have been some corner-cutting with the back-up systems, and this is a serious, never-to-be-forgotten triumph.

Failure - well, you know what failure would have been. Don't be silly.

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Troll

Safer than ...

This from the same people who brought us -

"Good News - Chernobyl cleanup provides huge boost to USSR economy providing jobs for 500,000!"

"USSR donates 1400square kilometres as nature park in goodwill gesture to plants and animals, wishes to thank Chernobyl."

"Doctors and Genetics researchers offered once in lifetime research opportunity thanks to enourmous radiation leak."

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FAIL

Loss of electricity = extreme?

I agree that there is a fair amount of hysteria, but calling the loss of electricity supply "several extremely powerful natural disasters" is revisionist in the extreme. ALL the problems at Fukushima are directly related to the loss of power to the cooling systems. NOT damage caused by the earthquake and NOT damage caused by the tsunami - just plain and simple loss of power. Yes, the back-up generators were flooded, but had there been an alternative power source we would not be facing this disaster. Go back and look the sequence of events again!

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Gav
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How safe does it appear?

When those 2,433 coal miners died in China, who else died? Was there any threat to the health of millions of uninvolved persons many miles away? Was there any danger that those who tried to save them may die years from now, as a direct consequence of simply being in the near vicinity? Were acres upon acres of farmland put out of use due to coal dust? Did they have to fill the mine affected with concrete and encase it in lead for the next thousand years, just in case anyone else stumbled over it?

Didn't think so.

Nuclear energy may be unavoidable, and other energy sources may have their dangers, but a body count of miners is a facile argument.

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Dam nation

>With the country in ruins and tens of thousands dead, you're all pointing to another

>potential incident and screaming about how appalling it is

Strange how nobody has been shouting about the real loss of life from renewable energy in the region.

Hydroelectric Dam + massive quake = Actual death.

But even the few news reports that feature it rapidly run away to scream about the nuclear disaster unfolding

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FAIL

@Lomax - You are kidding, right?

"I agree that there is a fair amount of hysteria, but calling the loss of electricity supply "several extremely powerful natural disasters" is revisionist in the extreme. "

To me, calling a force 9 earthquake a "loss of electricity supply" seems revisionist, but OK then, let's call it an initial loss of electricity, caused by...? Oh, and by the way, I love how:

"ALL the problems at Fukushima are directly related to the loss of power to the cooling systems. NOT damage caused by the earthquake and NOT damage caused by the tsunami"

...is followed immediately by...

"Yes, the back-up generators were flooded"

Hmmm. Was that by the tsunami, by any chance?

", but had there been an alternative power source..."

There was. Mains, followed by generators, followed by batteries and mobile generators (the latter of which was where it went really wrong). Partly because of that event. Oh, what was it again?

"Go back and look the sequence of events again!"

Perhaps you should.

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The generators had a backup...or don't you read well?

The site had battery power for 8 hours. i believe that is approximately twice the norm for the industry. So, let's get this straight. Earthquake happens. External power is lost, reactors scram, cool down begins, backup generators kick in to continue cooling. Then...Tsunami hits, 7+ meters, generators are flooded, and fuel supplies are destroyed. On-site battery backups kick in, cooling continues on reduced power until the batteries fail.

Remember, the severe earthquake and Monster tsunami essentially destroyed all the local infrastructure around the plant, you know, useful things like power lines and roads. So, it has taken some days to get to the point where external power can be restored and where external equipment can be brought in. It's not like you can simply fly it in either, where do you land? A landing zone has to be established first. So the Nuclear facility was essentially operating without any external support for 72+ hours, which is far longer than the possible duration of it's battery systems.

The true heroes on site managed to rig a temporary cooling system using the site's fire fighting equipment, creative thinking considering all the other cooling systems were no longer usable. The primary concern was the scram'd reactors, which were still comparatively hot. Te spent fuel pools are concerning, but early in this saga, they were not the top priority. the fact that they now are the top priority suggests that the reactors themselves are now safer than they were some days ago.

Look, it's easy to say that the plant should have been over engineered for a larger earthquake or larger tsunami. that kind of hindsight is really easy. The point I think is that the plat survived the single worst natural disaster that has ever befallen Japan or any industrialized western economy, a twin strike from a huge earthquake and a huge tsunami. If you would like to tour the US west coast and examine the preparedness of our nuclear facilities, I don't think you'll find any as prepared as Fukushima Daiichi was.

As others have pointed out, the horrible distortion of coverage of this issue has distracted the world away from a humanitarian calamity. The people of Japan need our help. The entire country has rolling blackouts because of the national shortfall in electrical production. Areas in the north east of japan are running out of critical supplies and whole towns have been washed away. That's not even including the hydro electric dam that failed during the earthquake and the subsequent flooding. Fukushima Daiichi is a huge story, yes, but compared to the scale of the disaster and calamity on-going, it's really not the biggest story there at all.

What distresses me most about the media coverage of the nuclear power plant issues is that the media in general has displayed an absolute lack of integrity. they simply exist to funnel the latest sound bites from various commentators to the screen. There is very little research, investigation or analysis of the information available. I guess it's easier to lead with scare stories about clouds of nuclear material than it is to research and evaluate. Whatever happened to objective reporting and analysis of facts? I've endured story after story in the news which are nothing more than second hand reports of other media stories that are scare stories based on second hand reports of statements made by 'experts' who are briefed on the situation by people who take their information from the media reports...talk about a vicious cycle.

Twice now major media outlets have reported breaking news about fires at one or other of the facilities, and yet the 'breaking news' was 6-8 hours out of date, and the fires were already extinguished. It took more than 4 hours for any western news source to report on the helicopter water dumping operation happening, I watched it live on NHK online. The western media seems to love running self referential stories about how they are withdrawing to such and such a safe distance, or how one western government or another is advising it's citizens to flee the nuclear fallout. It's all bogus crap.

You and others may not like the more positive spin given the facts here, but it does counter the overtly doom laden information and false-hoods elsewhere.

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WTF?

@Lomax - Stop talking out of your arse and come back to planet earth please

Yes, the loss of electrical power to the cooling pumps is the proximal cause of the problems, however your other two statements must have been muffled by your trousers.

"NOT damage caused by the earthquake" - Well, except that three of the four reactors were online and generating power when the quake hit and tripped the safety systems which took the reactors offline and dropped the control rods - removing primary onsite power generating capacity - ooh look, loss of electrical power.

"NOT damage caused by the tsunami" - Well, except that the backup diesel generators and their backup generators were taken out by the Tsunami wave and any remaining diesel fuel on site now has rather too much sea water in it - ooooh, look, another two losses of electrical power.

Now of course you missed out on blathering "NOT due to the loss of power grid connections to the site" - which of course was another act of the earthquake driven Tsunami.

So returning to your mindless drivel of "but had there been an alternative power source we would not be facing this disaster." - Which of the alternate power sources are you moaning about precisely?

1) The other nuclear generators on site

2) The main utility power grid connections

3) The backup diesel generators

4) The backup backup diesel generators

5) The backup batteries in case all of 1, 2, 3 and 4 simultaneously fail which didn't hold out for long enough to let the onsite staff recover enough of the site infrastructure from the earthquake and tsunami damage to sort out replacement power.

Whenever a site like this is built there are a set of criteria determined for what scale of event(s) the site must be able to ride through with minimal external damage, they didn't predict an event of this scale so the site was not designed for it. Presumably you would also be moaning if Godzilla had marched up the coastline smashing up reactors with an American submarine he found in the water and saying that was also due to negligence in the design and that they should have Godzilla detectors and Godzilla guns on the reactors?

Perhaps you think they should have a helicopter on permanent hover above the site with a containerised generator set and a sub in a hardened bunker with a nice big extension cord to connect up to its onboard reactors next time there is an enormous earthquake and tsunami wave?

Now of course in a modern reactor design (not a 40 year old design) there are additional backup backup backup backup passive safety features such as large gravity feed tanks of coolant water which can trickle feed the cores during their secondary decay period but then, we know a bit more about reactors now than they did then.

So far these effected nuclear sites have done less damage since the earthquake than Goldman Sachs do before breakfast.

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Grenade

How safe does it appear?

Try drinking the water down stream from a chinese coal mine, and then see how long you live.

There is a reason for all the discoloured rocks in the river beds in our old coal mining towns.

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Flame

Actually, there was

Read a proper and unbiased article somewhere on the amount of _RADIOACTIVE_ material which is dumped into the atmosphere by a coal burning plant without proper filters (which is the case in China). That is besides all other pollutants.

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Actually, there japanese engineering has also been supreme

Frankly, once again, the japanese have shown some spectacular feats of engineering there as well. The amount of damage to hydroelectrics is spectacularly low as well.

When all is said and done they should put up a few monuments to the people who designed their infrastructure. They deserve them.

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WTF?

Backup to the Backup

So that sequence again for you folks:

Unprecedented, massive earthquake and Tsunami cause three things at the same time:

1 power supply to cooling pumps is knocked out

2 backup diesel pumps are damaged

3 roads and transport infrastructure messed up, lots of folks wake up to find themselves dead

At this point the backup to the back diesels kicked in, battery powered pumps (they would be the alternative power source you are screaming about).

The plan was always that should the power fail and the diesel generators fail the batteries would tide the plant over until replacements or repairs could be used. Because of point 3 it is tricky to get the replacements on site or to repair the generators.

So what part of this whole thing was not caused by the earthquake Lomax?

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@Lomax

The quake caused the loss of power, the tsunami caused the backup generators to be flooded out. So no, it was not just a simple loss of power. You may be entitled to your own (wrong) opinion, but you are NOT entitled to your own set of facts. The diesels WERE the backup.

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Silver badge

You might not be familiar with a little coal place here in the US.

Goes by the name of Centralia. There's been a coal fire in the abandoned coal mine for going on a century now. Odorless carbon dioxide has killed entire families as they slept in their homes. Some homes have suddenly collapsed into pits opened beneath them by the fire. So yes, coal has in fact caused at least one known disaster on par with your examples, but very few people cry about it the way they do potential nuclear threats.

Frankly, I think it is the denial by people like you of actual realities worse than potentialities that causes the vehemence of responses to your posts.

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A Bright Light in a deluge of darkness

@Highlander ... Thanks for your common sense post.

3 out of 4 posts in this thread are done by fools that cannot dispute the information provided, so they attack the author. This is either ignorance or cowardice on a scale usually attributed to a poor education or inadequate parentage. I don't know about the UK but in the US we call it trolling a thread.

I have seen a lot of "what does this have to do with tech?" posts, Folks it doesn't get much more high tech than a nuclear power plant! About the only thing higher in technical issues are nuke powered colliders and manned space missions.

And as highlander stated, if you are relying on the media for your information, you deserve to be mislead and misinformed, they are in over sensationalizing high gear and are hours if not days late in their "reporting" and 8 times out 10 their information is false, misleading or outright lies.

Lewis has been getting his information from reliable and accurate sources. I can tell from reading them that the sources are from NEI, TEPCO, The Japanese Govt., MIT and quite a few others.

What purpose would any of these entities have in downplaying any hazards? If they lied it would come out eventually, and contrary to some of your "opinions" they do care about their reputations. Unlike the present day media they depend on their credibility to earn a living or maintain their status as a credible regulating body.

You can automatically exclude any UN sources or the US NRC (except for on the ground personnel) The NRC is run by an Obama political appointee who hates the nuclear industry, he was put in place by Obama to wreck it, not improve it.

Good fact sources:

MIT: http://mitnse.com/

NEI: http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/

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Happy

Actually...

"Read a proper and unbiased article somewhere on the amount of _RADIOACTIVE_ material which is dumped into the atmosphere by a coal burning plant without proper filters (which is the case in China). That is besides all other pollutants."

That's a good idea.

About 6 decades ago Otto Frisch wrote a short piece on the safety of coal burning plants, pointing out the very severe pollution with radioactive material that they generate. At the time he held the Jacksonian Chair of Natural Philiosophy at Cambridge University, and a few years earlier he was one of the authors of the Frisch-Peierls memorandum (which described how to use conventional explosives to obtain criticality at lower mass, and the effects the resultant fission explosion would have, including a good description of the fallout) so he should probably be regarded as fairly well qualified on topics like radioactive pollution. Maybe Lomax could read his "On the safety of coal burning power stations" (I think that was the title) if he can find a copy and the words aren't too long for him.

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Reasonable answers to the wrong questions

Higlander's case is that the plant staff has done an excellent job, given the circumstances, and I do not wish to argue with that. The issue, however, is whether inadequate preparation and complacency exacerbated those circumstances and created significant additional risk, turning what could have been a demonstration of the safety of nuclear power into a reason for continuing concern over how it is managed.

He says that hindsight is easy, but in this case, so too would foresight have been. Earthquakes and tsunamis of this magnitude and greater are expected, and their consequences are well-known; as another commenter pointed out, the 2004 Indonesian tsunami should have acted as a wakeup call, even if Tokyo Electric Power had underestimated the risk to that point.

We also have credible reports from the Wall Street Journal that TEPCO delayed taking effective action to stabilize the situation out of concern for its investment in the plant. If confirmed, this would also confirm that TEPCO was unable to manage the crisis effectively, as prioritization of concerns and decisive action are important parts of crisis management.

Highlander questions whether US plants are as well-prepared as were the Japanese ones. It is simply a logical error, however, to think that any alleged lack of preparedness elsewhere justifies TEPCO’s lack of sufficient readiness: it is the wrong measuring-stick. Furthermore, Highlander has apparently missed the irony in his questions about nuclear safety elsewhere, given his pro-nuclear stance.

I, too, am unimpressed by the quality of journalism. One issue is that the media failed to pick up clues, from the factual evidence, that TEPCO’s public assessment of the state of the plant was repeatedly and unrealistically optimistic, so the bias has not been uniformly pessimistic. Nevertheless, I am prepared to accept that is has been pessimistic on balance, but, once again, it would be a logical error to conclude that there is consequently nothing to be concerned about.

Mr. Page’s questioning of apocalyptic, disproportionate and uninformed reporting is valuable, but his unfortunate practice of responding to speculative, biased editorializing in a like manner has robbed him of the chance to be the voice of reason here, and puts him in the same camp as the people he claims to despise.

Even if things turn out as well as Mr. Page predicts, it does not mean that concern is unwarranted. For every technological disaster, there are an order of magnitude or more of incidents that betray the risk without themselves turning disastrous, and there are risks that are predictable even if they have not been realized yet. As a former worker in the nuclear industry who believes it could be our best response to global warming, I am concerned by the frequency with which that industry tends to downplay these warnings. TEPCO’s failings do not, of course, prove that other operators are unprepared, but there is other evidence on that issue.

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yes, but even so ...

... does this mean that the team that wrote Stuxnet is going to get fired because their product failed to deliver?

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Unhappy

Good News but still not Great News?

As they say in the aviation industry...

A GOOD landing is one you can walk away from,

but a GREAT landing is one where they can use the plane again

Should my brakes fail while descending a long and steep hill, I might be grateful to the designers of the car's airbags and crumple zones - but I'd still be mad as h*ll at whoever under-specified that braking system.

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Anonymous Coward

No, mate. You're in the nuclear industry now.

If some people die of cancer in a few years, it's a triumph for nuclear power (because cancer is a big killer in the civilised world, so according to our author it's fine to kill a few people with it, so long as it can't be statistically and directly tied to the event).

If the situation is still partially out of control, it's good news.

One shudders to think what the situation would have to be for the article's author to label it 'a disaster'. Rivers of molten plutonium running through Toyko probably wouldn't cut it.

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Flame

Analogy Wrong

The Nuclear plant was the victim of the crash. To use your car analogy, the situation is not like that of a cars brakes failing, its like the car was hit side on by a monster truck at 80mph.

In those situations, you thank God and the car manufacturer if you walk away unharmed, even if your car is a write off, not blame the manufacturer for being there in the first place.

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@Aged Cynic - Poor Analogy

If you want to stick with the car-down-a-hill analogy then you'd better add some black ice and a runaway articulated lorry pushing you from behind. The disaster here was a massive earthquake and a tsunami, the brakes on this car were not under-specified.

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Stop

known hazards

What if you live on an icy hilltop with heavy lorry traffic?

What if the reactor had been built on a fault line and an unprotected beach? Oh wait.

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Coat

Starting to talk about the real issue at last

A very good point but I must take issue with Lewis for making me sound like David Icke.

Is nuclear power is "good" or "bad" is the wrong question.

"Are nuclear power station designs from the 1950s appropriate today?" would be better.

Man + dog are calling to block all new NP build and they have got a point because the real informed debate is not taking place.

Another aviation parallel. From 1903 to 1913 John Dunne built primitive aircraft with swept wings. His aim was to produce aircraft with inherent stability. This approach was ignored by the mainstream aircraft industry until the 1950s. Today, the vast majority of passenger airmiles are flown in airliners with swept wings (inherent stability!). It took the aircraft industry 40 years to learn this lesson.

What's the IT angle? The code I gouge out today can be obsolete tomorrow. It's time that nuclear power station designers learned that lesson and started seriously looking at designs with inherent stability (negative thermal runaway - no more excursions) LFTR - PBMR to name but two.

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FAIL

"the brakes on this car were not under-specified."

The specification called for survival after a 6.5m tsunami.

The real tsunami was a little bigger than that.

How on earth is that NOT under-specified?

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It's about the nature of engineering

This disaster — remember, there have only been 4 recorded 9.0+ earthquakes in the last century — was a larger magnitude than had been considered likely to happen in the life of the plant. And, for the first 40 years of its life, it was perfectly valid. Even now, when it was utterly overwhelmed, it demonstrated graceful failure and was thus a triumph.

However, in the light of 2011 events, I bet all Japanese plants will have to withstand a design earthquake in the 9.0–9.2 range in the future; and also perhaps an 8 metre tsunami.

As inadequacies in current design become evident, design procedures are updated. This is what China's announced it's doing, and that is a good thing, isn't it?

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FAIL

"demonstrated graceful failure and was thus a triumph."

You are Lewis Page under a pseudonym. It's statistically impossible for two people to be that brainless in one hundred years.

"As inadequacies in current design become evident, design procedures are updated."

That would be a good thing if it actually happened.

What more often happened in the late 20th century was that PHBs and beancounters said "The odds of (xyz) occuring are negligible, you're wasting money, don't cater for it". Sometimes it worked OK for a while, sometimes it didn't.

Three reasonably well documented examples of when it didn't work are the space shuttle Challenger, the Nimrod crash in Afghanistan, and flight AF447.

Go away, sad man.

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Headmaster

Inherent stability?

While I largely agree with the thrust of your post, I have to say you're off the deep-end aerodynamically speaking. Swept wings are not, of themselves, inherently stable - hit up Wikipedia for "dutch roll" - and the reason they are used on airliners is efficiency at transonic speed, not stability. Do note that virtually all light aircraft, gliders, and pretty much everything that doesn't travel at appreciable fractions of Mach 1 are still built with straight wings. The F14 even has variable sweep wings, and it UNsweeps them for landing - for extra lift and stability. Engineers are not stupid, and they don't ignore good design through sheer dogma.

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Happy

Ref: "whoever under-specified that braking system."

One of the issues is that this quake was of a higher magnitude than was previously thought possible for this area.

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FAIL

"remember, there have only been 4 recorded 9.0+ earthquakes in the last century"

That's one every twenty five years. And these plants were intended to have a 40-year life span. So they should have been designed to expect it as a fairly high probability during their operating life.

Therefore underspecified.

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Anonymous Coward

"Therefore underspecified."

It's bad enough when folk try to confuse the issue with logic, but when you add arithmetic into the picture too, how on earth can hopeless cases like Poor Coco (4 events in 100 years vs 40 year operating lifetime = nothing to worry about) be expected to cope?

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Figures please

> given the undisputed fact that both quake and tsunami

> hugely exceeded the levels

> the powerplant had been designed to take

Can you give some figures for that please, rather than just announce it is ”undisputed” ?

The relevant figures are the magnitude of the quake as it was experienced AT THE FUKUSHIMA SITE - (not at the quakes epi-centre), on the one hand and the size of quake STRIKING THE SITE DIRECTLY, that the plant was designed to withstand, on the other.

Your article didn't mention them, but since you regard them as undisputable, I can only assume you have them.

I would be grateful if you would share them with us.

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Silver badge
Stop

Try looking at the past analysis articles...

All the details are mentioned in the previous reports... Try reading them...

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