back to article Fukushima operator feared shutdown if risks revealed

The operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, TEPCO, has admitted it was ill-prepared to cope with the tsunami of March 2011, and promised to do better in future. That promise is articulated in a new document, Fundamental Policy for the Reform of TEPCO Nuclear Power Organization (PDF), released last Friday. The …

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Happy

I see that Lewis hasn't filed this one.

I wonder why? :P

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Trollface

Re: "I see that Lewis hasn't filed this one." Judging by the thumbs there are at least.......

....two people with no sense of humour at all.

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HMB

Re: "I see that Lewis hasn't filed this one." Judging by the thumbs there are at least.......

I know the deal, an operator ignoring risks is pretty awful... but...

With the political elite forcing the long impellers of wind power down people's throats, driving people below the poverty line in some cases. With an energy policy that could be written better by the Cookie monster, it touches a nerve that some people take very seriously.

You think France has energy problems? No it doesn't. Some smart ass will no doubt make a quip about France having nuclear waste problems, well it doesn't have that either.

All people want is to see sanity follow here. They want cheap, affordable energy and you know what, they might just be OK with reducing their carbon emissions, but when you tell them that we're not going to use shale gas or nuclear....

Someone is really taking the piss.

That's why some people lose their sense of humour.

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@HMB Re: "I see that Lewis hasn't filed this one." "Judging by the thumbs there are at least......."

Hello? My post very clearly was a gentle send up of Lewis' usual gung ho attitude to nuclear power. Going "nuclear" (if I may be permitted to use that pun without you going beserk) because of that appears, to me at any rate, a trifle over the top. I do not dispute with what you have posted in fact but FFS!

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Trollface

Re: "I see that Lewis hasn't filed this one." Judging by the thumbs there are at least.......

>You think France has energy problems?

Lets see how affordable things are in a century when they have to start dealing with decommissioning and or keeping existing plants running. Much of the problem with Fukishima was because it was an ancient plant near the end of its life. To be honest I like more the energy future of the USA with cheap natural gas due to fracking. Yes it is somewhat polluting where extracted (NIMBY but luckily non in mine haha) and gas does put carbon in the air but overall it looks to be a lot less of a hassle in the long term than nuclear. As for climate change at this point its India and China with half the world's population doing most of the carbon polluting anyway.

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HMB

Re: "I see that Lewis hasn't filed this one." Judging by the thumbs there are at least.......

IF (and it's a big if) nuclear decommissioning costs are paid at the beginning of a new reactor and sealed in a bank account with interest for the life of the station, it's actually pretty cheap. Granted you have to be responsible.

Shale gas of course is economically superior to nuclear by today's numbers, I won't deny it! Also transition from coal to shale gas means a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. Shale gas is an immediate solution to our energy troubles that doesn't require government subsidy.

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WTF?

How many more Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plants exist around the world?

When you consider just how many of these nuclear devices are situated near potential problem areas and / or high population centres it seems many are positioned to cause severe problems.

The States has 67 civilian owned reactors and the military has a whole bunch more, Russia has 42 working units, Korea has around 19 working units; India has 18, Canada has 16 with being repaired, China 14, UK has 7, etc.

The Japanese disaster came at a propitious time for VietNam, as it is plans to build a total of 13 new nuclear plants (the first unit was in 1960 built with US help in Da Lat). At least it can re-examine it's plans to see if they need up grading in view of Fukushima

Russia and Japan are signed for construction in VietNam, with Korea expected to join later. The Chinese are building a 'large' complex at Fangchenggang, near the Chinese-Vietnamese border, which will feed in to VietNam..

The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How many more Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plants exist around the world?

"The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?"

At least there is a great deal less toxic waste than that produced by conventional thermal power stations for the same output energy.

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Joke

Re: How many more Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plants exist around the world?

Nah, don't worry, any waste would have been diluted by the tsunami and the backflow of that water.

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Paris Hilton

Re: How many more Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plants exist around the world?

"The Japanese disaster came at a propitious time for VietNam"

Who the hell writes Vietnam in CamelCase?

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P_0

Re: How many more Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plants exist around the world?

The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

Bury it. In lead lined, thick concrete containers. Deep underground. Or in a mountain.

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P_0

Re: How many more Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plants exist around the world?

@Destroy All Monsters

Sorry, Viet_nam.

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The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

As always: reprocess, partition, re-use, and wait.

- Left-over uranium -- hundreds of tonnes per reactor-year. Uranium is stable and harmless if it's kept as the oxide (or, surprisingly, if it's dissolved in the sea, because there's so much there already, it won't make a difference.) It can be used to breed fuel, though, so worth hanging on to.

- Plutonium bred in the reactor -- less than one tonne per reactor-year. Keep it, and save mining uranium by consuming it as fuel in future reactors. Don't be spooked by the name: Plutonium for bombs has to be specially made. A rational terrorist wanting nuclear explosive would use natural uranium and enrich it, as the Iranians are said to be doing.

- Short lived fission products -- hundreds of kilos per reactor year. Handle with great care, for a while, and with caution for longer. These materials are dangerous to be close to for many years and must be kept out of the biosphere for hundreds (but not thousands) of years.

- Long lived fission products -- kilos per reactor year. Obviously much less radioactive than the short-lived products, the rational thing is simply to abandon in the deep ocean. But it appears possible to transmute these products to short lived waste with neutron irradiation, and that would be a more "grown-up" approach!

The point about nuclear waste is the quantities: once the re-useable components are removed, the volumes are million-fold reduced over combustion energy. A year's fission-product waste from a reactor, once it had cooled off for thirty years or so, could sit on a few dozen yards of industrial shelving. A facility to retain the waste of a largely nuclear Britain for the necessary 500 years or so would take up less space than an industrial estate.

The idea of nuclear waste as being dangerous for tens of thousands of years is an Americanism, arising from their reluctance to reprocess. If you leave it all mixed up in the fuel rod, then yes, it is hard to manage. But if you make the sensible choices, then the problem -- looked at on the scale appropriate to global energy generation -- goes away.

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Re: The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

"could sit on a few dozen yards of industrial shelving"

...but the large military encampment to protect it, the aircrash proof dome and air defences might take a little more space. Suddenly spending billions burying it out of reach underground seems slightly more credible...

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Go

Re: The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

Build Integral Fast Reactors and use it as fuel.

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/12/05/a-waste-of-waste/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

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What to do with the waste?

Bury it deep.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onkalo_spent_nuclear_fuel_repository

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Re: The question facing all users: What to do with the waste?

"...but the large military encampment to protect it, the aircrash proof dome and air defences might take a little more space. Suddenly spending billions burying it out of reach underground seems slightly more credible..."

First, who is going to try to break into such a facility when using radioactive components from old medical machinery is a much more covert way of building a dirty bomb? Sure, these things need to be guarded, but a large military encampment is just nonsense. There is no battalion constantly stationed at Sellafield for example. Its security comprises of private guards employed by the site operators and armed members of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. The CNC's entire nation budget is only £57 million (though I suspect a not insignificant part of this is probably pork for the directors at the Civil Nuclear Police Authority,) and they've been praised for their professionalism and efficiency.

Second, why build an air-crash proof dome when modern air defences would never allow an aircraft to even get near the site. The UK's Rapier SAM system costs about £140,000 for a launcher and four missiles. For a million pounds you could carpet an industrial estate sized area with the things. It'd be total overkill but it might give ignorant people such as yourself peace of mind.

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During the meanwhile ...

Regardless of all the hand-wringing, how many people (outside the emergency response team and the clean-up crew, and the locals that the overly-paranoid Japanese authorities won;t let go home ...) are actually going to be affected by what little radiation was released?

Answer: None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: During the meanwhile ...

Does that mean you're ready to eat radioactive fish with your chips, or is that just for other people?

If you're really game, the Japanese have some fish for you, with 25,800 becquerels of Cesium per kilo. It was found 20km from the plant. Or, how about a catch from Aomori, 400km from the plant, that has been pulled from the market?

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Devil

Re: During the meanwhile ...

Quote: 25,800 becquerels of Cesium...

How about some fish with a cocktail of lead, mercury, cadmium and rear earths sprinkled with organic and silicone carcinogenics? Oh, sorry, forgot... Nobody bothers to measure these...

While everyone fretting about Fukushima (and the potential future Fukushimas), nobody is paying attention to the fact that 95% of modern industry has only a fraction of major disaster protection that goes into the design of a nuclear plant. The number of people dead from "bog standard" industrial chemicals washed off by the tsunami in Japan will exceed Fukushima death toll by orders of magnitude. Ditto for the Thai floods (had some Thai rice lately? Checked how much lead is in that?)

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Re: During the meanwhile ...

"how many people ... are actually going to be affected by what little radiation was released?"

That's not the real point - they "got away with it" to a very large degree but it could have been much worse. They disregarded advice on the sea walls during design (which would probably have made the whole thing a non-issue) - and a raft of safety advice during construction. Toshiaki Sakai warned of a significant tsunami risk in 2007, the IAEA warned about serious issues in 2008 and a panel of experts warned them in 2009. They had a minor flood 20 years which knocked out their back-up cooling, but ignored that.

Aside from the humanitarian issues, as a proponent of nuclear power this makes me mad - it's often hard enough to make a case anyway, reckless stupidity like this helps not one bit. The potential for a far more serious incident was there, mainly due to the decisions made by TEPCO - that it didn't happen is hardly the result of planning or just the innate safety aspects of the reactor design. Look at the legacy it has created in the nuclear generation as a whole in Japan - that will recover, i'm sure - in time - but hardly a plus point.

"Answer: None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada."

If you understood anything about ionizing radiation - you wouldn't answer it like that... It doesn't work like Lewis Page seems to imply ("Wow, look, I dodged the radiation bullet - i'm safe now !"). I certainly wouldn't like to be in the shoes of some of the contract workers TEPCO drafted in in 20 years time.

The unfortunately predictable hysteria in a lot of the media was ridiculous and ill informed - please don't add to that mis-information from the opposite view point.

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Re: During the meanwhile ...

So Tim, you claim to understand how low levels of ionizing radiation affect the body over long periods of exposure. Congratulations! Write up your study and get it published - a Nobel for Physiology or Medicine surely awaits.

In the real world, the issue is not well understood (i.e. we don't have much of a clue). In the absence of good information, some people insist on applying the 'precautionary principle', and assume that a few percent increase over background will (in the long term) cause an increase of a few percent in cancer mortality. In practice, no such effect has been observed in areas with naturally raised levels of radiation, such as Cornwall or Aberdeen, or in atom bomb survivors - so the assumption is probably incorrect.

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Re: During the meanwhile ...

"So Tim, you claim to understand how low levels of ionizing radiation affect the body over long periods of exposure. Congratulations! Write up your study and get it published - a Nobel for Physiology or Medicine surely awaits."

Nope - I said it wasn't black and white.

"In the real world, the issue is not well understood (i.e. we don't have much of a clue). In the absence of good information, some people insist on applying the 'precautionary principle', and assume that a few percent increase over background will (in the long term) cause an increase of a few percent in cancer mortality. In practice, no such effect has been observed in areas with naturally raised levels of radiation, such as Cornwall or Aberdeen, or in atom bomb survivors - so the assumption is probably incorrect."

Cornwall has an elevated risk as far as i've read, e.g. from the Cornwall Council August this year

The HPA have recently introduced a new target level for radon of 100 Bq m-3. This level does not replace the current action level . After recent research which showed that the health effects of radon are seen below the 200 Bq m-3 action level especially for those who smoke or are ex smokers the decision was taken to encourage remediation below this new target level.

or the HPA page on the matter. As for A-bomb survivors, how about the 2nd generation NIH report on solid cancers in survivors from Horoshima and Nagasaki here ?

There is a lot of research in the non-linearity effects of low level radiation - there is much to learn, you're right about that, but to pretend we're clueless is - I think - taking it too far.

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Re: During the meanwhile ...

Good reply, Tim, although I think you originally claimed others didn't understand the long-term effects, when the reality is that no-one can quantify them. Cornwall Council made a political move, informed by the dreaded 'precautionary principle' - if you really want to avoid Radon exposure, moving away from Cornwall is probably your best bet.

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HMB

Re: Radioactive Food; Radioactive People

Well all of my food is radioactive. All of your food is radioactive.

We're all radioactive. It's how we can be carbon dated.

So many nuclear explosions occurred during the early days of nuclear testing that normal carbon dating is pretty screwed for us lot. And yet... life goes on as normal.

Life goes on as normal for the people of Ramsar Iran, inhabitants of the most naturally radioactive place on the earth. They have no higher cancer risk or higher risk of birth defects. They live at a yearly dose that substantially exceeds the normal emergency limit for nuclear workers.

Nobody tell Stan Lee. :P

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Re: Radioactive Food; Radioactive People

"Life goes on as normal for the people of Ramsar Iran, inhabitants of the most naturally radioactive place on the earth. They have no higher cancer risk or higher risk of birth defects. They live at a yearly dose that substantially exceeds the normal emergency limit for nuclear workers."

Not quite normal, no...

http://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/high-levels-of-disease-seen-in-high-radiation-areas-of-iran/

..interesting none the less.

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Re: During the meanwhile ...

@Voland: "major disaster protection that goes into the design of a nuclear plant"

...unless they choose to spend the cash on evading regulation and detection instead of disaster protection.

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Boffin

Re: During the meanwhile ...

@Tim Parker

"..from the Cornwall Council August this year - The HPA have recently introduced a new target level for radon of 100 Bq m-3..."

Umm.

Quoting a council ruling derived from HPA advice doesn't really cut it for me. I see a lot of HSE-type advice produced from bodies responsible for safety of various kinds which, on deeper investigation, prove to be founded on statistical misrepresentation. This seems to be a trend - possibly influenced by the Climate Change fiasco.

In this case I went looking for the HPA research which would justify your comments about Cornwall's elevated risk, and couldn't find it. They just say:

"The Target Level has been introduced because research published since 1990 has given scientists a greater understanding of the risks to health of exposure to radon below 200 Bq m-3 and because HPA now has considerably more experience of the effectiveness of remediation measures."

So perhaps they seem to be tightening the targets because they can, as much as because it is advisable? I went looking for radon research since 1990, and found the Wiki quoting the BEIR VI report, entitled 'Health Effects of Exposure to Radon'.

"According to the UNSCEAR modeling, based on these miner's studies, the excess relative risk from long-term residential exposure to radon at 100 Bq/m3 is considered to be about 0.16 (after correction for uncertainties in exposure assessment), with about a threefold factor of uncertainty higher or lower than that value. In other words, the absence of ill effects (or even positive hormesis effects) at 100 Bq/m3 are compatible with the known data."

So my (limited) research (purely checking abstracts) suggests that, at low levels, the statistical noise overwhelms any signal. This means that a positive figure indicating a small risk can easily be picked while staying within the error bands. Which is politically expedient...

Doesn't mean there isn't a problem with radiation at low levels. Does mean, as you say, that the issue is not black and white. And, in my view, it does mean that much current research in any activist-influenced area of science should be looked at very carefully....

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Re: During the meanwhile ...

Again, that same tired old misconception. The real danger in an event like the Fukushima disaster is NOT the direct release of radiation, which is local and brief. It's the spread of long-lived radioactive contaminants, which persist in the soil and poison the biosphere for decades, if not centuries. And which are next to impossible to clean up, one fly-speck at a time.

It's also annoying to see the focus constantly placed on the probable death toll. This number always tends to sound acceptable - as long as you're not one of the people it includes. It's also based on vague probabilities, and hence subject to endless debate. A much better yardstick is economic. The evacuation and possible re-settlement of hundreds of thousands of people around Fukushima carries a massive price tag. Large enough to make even the cheeriest optimist question the economic viability of today's nuclear technology.

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HMB

Re: Radioactive Food; Radioactive People

@Tim Parker

First, a genuine thank you for the link.

The scientists I've heard talk about it are renowned scientists in their fields that have been talking on BBC's Horizon Program and they're in contradiction of the information you're linking to.

Let's be clear that according to the conventionally applied Linear No Threshold model of radiation harm the increased risk of cancer from 250 mSv is around 1.5%. Compare that to smoking which is somewhere north of 400% increased risk.

I'm certainly not saying that you're information is invalid, it has caught my interest and I'd be happy to chat further about things. However, it's quite normal for some studies to show high and others to show low and it tends to be a balance of these studies over time that go into providing consensus.

Here's a study showing a lower risk of cancer for people in higher radiation areas in Ramsar.

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Watermarks/records

'Tsunamis of the scale that arrived last March would not be a problem because “... there were no watermarks or records of one.”

Actually, there were written records and sedimentary evidence from the Jogan Sanriku earthquake of 869. The original General Electric design for the reactors put the emergency cooling equipment in the basement, and TEPCO elected, apparently over the objections of some of its engineers, to follow that design. I don't know about the cancer risk, as that will take decades to reveal itself, but surely there's grounds for charges of criminal negligence here.

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Re: Watermarks/records

>>cancer risk...will take decades to reveal itself

No, it will never "reveal" itself. The increased risk of cancer is so small that it will not show up against the 20-30% chance of people getting cancer anyway. See the various studies on Chernobyl to get an idea of how varied the results can be for the same data.

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Facepalm

Re: Watermarks/records

"The report also says 'There was no awareness that a tsunami exceeding site elevation would directly result in a severe accident.' "

Isn't that a little like saying "Nobody realised that pouring a few million gallons of water into reactor buildings would be a bad thing" which extends to become "Everyone working on site is a &%^&ing short-sighted-moron"

Hardly an encouraging statement. I find it hard to believe that NOBODY working on a site next to the sea EVER thought it would be a bit of a bad thing to be flooded.

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Childcatcher

Re: Watermarks/records

>>cancer risk...will take decades to reveal itself

>No, it will never "reveal" itself. The increased risk of cancer is so small that it will not show up against the 20-30% chance of people getting cancer anyway.

Both of these are a priori arguments. We will not know what the results will be until they are in. Given the nature of the incident, about the only thing I would consider a certainty is that the individuals living in this area and the area itself will be the subject of numerous studies designed to ascertain the long-term impact of the accident. Too, I wonder if being observed in this way will increase the odds of cancer in the test subjects simply due to the long term irritation it is likely to cause.

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operator feared shutdown if risks revealed

When people's job's are their only livelihood then they will make decisions that favour their livelihood. Can this be changed in this case? I don't know, but it's worth trying.

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Still fingering the tsunami

So, TEPCO is starting to fess up to a catastrophic failure in their reactor designs and safety practices, but they are still acting like it all happened because of the tsunami, and they are still acting like this was some kind of freak event.

As @camnal points out, there are records of previous tsunami in the same region. In fact, one doesn't even have to go back to the Jogan-Sanriku quake in 869. There were major earthquakes in 1896 and 1933, and respective tsunami of over 38 and 28 meters in height. (For comparison, the 2011 tsunami measured up to 40 meters.)

More significantly, investigative journalism in Japan now suggests that the Fukushima plants were already crippled by the earthquake, and that even if the backup generators hadn't been knocked out by the tsunami, it probably would have been impossible to avoid the meltdowns.

The bottom line is that nobody knows yet how much it is going to cost to clean up this mess. The numbers are just spinning digits. The operator is facing bankruptcy, and if it gets nationalized the staggering costs just get passed to taxpayers.

With vast areas of land and sea in Tohoku contaminated with Cesium, tens of thousands of people displaced, most of them yet to be compensated, and decades of clean-up work to come, whatever economic advantage there was to nuclear power is now pretty much out the window in Japan.

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Re: Still fingering the tsunami @sunnyskies

Well said. To re-iterate the point, when your coal fired power station explodes you don't have to abandon hundreds of square miles for decades.

If this happened in the UK all you could expect from the government would be £50 and a tent.

If nuclear power was safe they would be able to get insurance, the fact is you cannot insure even a pair of contact lenses against a nuclear incident.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still fingering the tsunami

With vast areas of land and sea in Tohoku contaminated with Cesium, tens of thousands of people displaced, most of them yet to be compensated, and decades of clean-up work to come, whatever economic advantage there was to nuclear power is now pretty much out the window in Japan.

As someone who lives in Japan, I can say that you are absolutely wrong. Due to the government's shutdown of all power stations (with a couple recently coming back online) we have to constantly save energy, get letters sent to homes and businesses telling them of planned power outages, which may or may not occur, depending on the energy use at that time. If you work in an IT company this is just not workable. Car manufacturers have to cut shifts to turn power off, as the country was (in in some ways still is)in a state of energy austerity.

After the accident, I think the majority of Japanese were vehemently against nuclear power. Now they have had time to calm down and think rationally, many Japanese have realized that, yes it was a terrible, and completely avoidable accident, there is no other option. Renewable energy is for countries that don't have heavy industries. Oil and gas can in some ways compensate for the loss of energy output, but for Japan, an island that is used to tragedies, and catch-22 compromises with the elements, the only way is nuclear. You may think that the cost of cleaning up Fukushima far outweighs any benefits accrued by years of steady energy production by nuclear plants, but just to remind you, Japan is in a constant state of fighting some crisis, or preparing for the next one. The great Kanto Quake in 1923 annihilated the capital. The Hanshin quake of 1995 destroyed the largest port at that time, Kobe. In the grand scheme of things, the Tohoku earthquake killed 10,000 polluted thousands of acres of arable land (not with radiation, with oil and chemicals, displaced thousands, destroyed north-eastern manufacturing base, and yet Japan still stands.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still fingering the tsunami @sunnyskies

"If this happened in the UK all you could expect from the government would be £50 and a tent."

I think someone is bring a little optimistic there: I doubt this government would give you £50 and a tent. They might outsource the distribution of tents to one of their partners who will give them out for a fee from each customer and a nice big cheque from the government. Or they might offer you a tent but give you the chance to give up your right to the tent in return for a £50 discount on your taxes spread over the next 10 years instead.

Would have used the troll icon but I'm not a troll, I'm a coward...

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Re: Still fingering the tsunami @sunnyskies

Are you aware of how small the exclusion area currently is? I got close to the reactors last month without entering it and received negligible dose, etc.. The devastation and subsequent land abandonment caused by the tsunami on the other hand was impressive.

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Mushroom

Re: Still fingering the tsunami @sunnyskies

"...To re-iterate the point, when your coal fired power station explodes you don't have to abandon hundreds of square miles for decades...."

The law says you don't have to, but I wonder whether the levels of radiation might actually be quite similar?

There's an article here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste containing the following quote:

"In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy." Our source for this statistic is Dana Christensen, an associate lab director for energy and engineering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as 1978 paper in Science authored by J.P. McBride and colleagues, also of ORNL.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still fingering the tsunami

As someone who lives in Japan, I can say you don't seem to be paying attention.

There were no power outages last summer. Power consumption was down, and it is now clear that the nuclear restarts were not necessary. After all the threats from the nuclear village, it came out that the utility companies wanted the restarts because their profit margins are higher on nukes than on the thermal plants.

Next, I'm not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that "many" Japanese believe "there is no other option", when the latest polls (Jiji Press) are reporting 62% of Japanese oppose use of nuclear power, while only 9.7% think Japan should continue with it. Even the ruling DPJ is trying to appease the public with talk of a total phase out of nuclear power.

Connect the dots, please.

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Stop

Re: Still fingering the tsunami @sunnyskies

It is funny with coal fired power stations - for some reason nobody cares about the million+ dying from the pollution every year, thousands of miners dying every year, cancer causing and IQ damaging mercury and other heavy metals in the smoke and ash, etc. etc. No let us instead worry about some tiny risk related to our clean nuclear plants!

The land that has to be abandoned around Fukushima is small compared to land abandoned on a routine basis when we build hydro power stations - yet nobody really worries too much about that! On top of that you should remember that the land is only being abandoned due to unreasonably high safety standards that are causing more damage than the risk they are trying to deal with.

Please go and worry about something really dangerous instead of nuclear power!

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Re: Still fingering the tsunami

"...many Japanese have realized that... there is no other option."

Simply not true. For starters, inherently unstable Fusushima-style plants can be phased out in favor of newer and safer types. This is an obvious move that should be supported by everyone, regardless of their feelings about nuclear power in the long term.

"Renewable energy is for countries that don't have heavy industries."

A ridiculously simplistic view. Renewables may not be a total solution at present, but there's simply no reason not to include them in any national energy strategy. They're economically viable now (especially if you discount the massive hidden subsidies for nuclear and fossil fuels), and can only become more attractive as the technologies evolve.

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Trollface

And nuclear power is safe?

Sure is - if you can get rid of the human factor. Which is next to impossible.

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Mushroom

The sun is safe; therefore, nuclear power is safe.

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Anonymous Coward

Reprocessing? Really?

"The idea of nuclear waste as being dangerous for tens of thousands of years is an Americanism, arising from their reluctance to reprocess. If you leave it all mixed up in the fuel rod, then yes, it is hard to manage. But if you make the sensible choices, then the problem -- looked at on the scale appropriate to global energy generation -- goes away."

Really? Suppose it was policitically acceptable somehow, then what makes the economics of reprocessing go away too?

If you know how to make the economics of reprocessing go away, some people in Sellafield are waiting for a phone call from you. They tried it, it didn't work. BNFL even tried faking the paperwork to keep the costs down, but just like TEPCO, they got caught eventually.

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Joke

Re: Reprocessing? Really?

...Really? Suppose it was policitically acceptable somehow, then what makes the economics of reprocessing go away too? If you know how to make the economics of reprocessing go away, some people in Sellafield are waiting for a phone call from you....

I'll see your sarky comment on reprocessing economics, and raise you a sarky comment on renewable energy economics...

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Sad to say, but this is probably true

The nuclear industry has no choice but to keep claiming/pretending there is no risk at all with current plants, because doing otherwise just give the anti-nuclear nutjobs something to hang the arguments onto. "If it's so safe, why do you have contingency plans in place for what to do in case a tsunami larger than any in recorded history of the island takes out the backup generators and there's a meltdown?"

This is true in a lot of industries, if for example an automaker thinks there's a chance its cars may be vulnerable to a high fatality rate in a certain type of crash, they're better off ignoring the risk versus doing studies and implementing fixes in future models they open themselves up to liability from relatives of those who die in the older models.

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I'm speculating...

but I suspect this discrepancy:

>As of three days ago TEPCO held to the position it was all the tsunami's fault

can be explained by

1) The government has already agreed quietly to not find anyone criminally responsible.

2) With the legal threat gone, TEPCO's best interest is now in moving towards a mea culpa stance, without which it won't be allowed by the local populace to rebuild or even power back up any nuke power plants, even if it wins all the legal battles.

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