Events at the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan went well at the weekend, with two reactors there successfully brought into cold shutdown under off-site power, power lines hooked up to other cores being cooled using seawater and some progress in refilling spent-fuel storage pools. Initial …
Shortage of food and aid
Shortages which are a direct consqeuence of the media scaremongering and (non-Japan) government cowardice, which are preventing people from bringing much needed, and available, aid into the area.
So the earthquake and tsunami caused no problems.
Irrespective of whether there is an evacuation or partial quarantine around the plant, people all over North Eastern Japan are suffering from lack of food and water not just at Fukushima. This believe it or not is because a 12 metre tusnami hit the North Eastern coast probably damaged or destroyed water pumping stations, water treatment plants and as well as causing major damage to the road and rail networks. It also destroyed many harbours.
So far I can't see any reason to blame the nuclear power plant for people lacking food and water but I think I can see major logistical problems causing serious issues for the transportation of food and water into not only Fukushima but every other place hit by the tsunami.
@ Jon Green
Are we talking about the precautionary evac zone set by the Japenese or the knee-jerk 80km evac zone stipulated by the yanks?
How can the situation be improving? According to Lewis there has never been a real problem...
@ Chris Cartledge
Umm let's see, well there was no nuclear disaster last week and the plant is now starting to be made safe (or more safe at least), therefore the situation is improving despite there being no "problem"
The writer comes across as a shill for the nuclear power industry. Basically his recent articles have been attempts to sell the party line that "nuclear power is safe", look it even withstood an earthquake and tsunami.
However, the reactors did not survive undamaged. It has taken major efforts by humans to keep them from going critical.
Lets ponder what would have happened if the aftermath of the disaster had been a little different, and humans were NOT able to rush to the rescue? Then what?
What many proponents of nuke power fail to realise is the short-lived nature of human society. How many communities have not been attacked in war for more than 100 years? Nuke reactors are a prime target for any enemy.
If they Romans had built nukes, would they have been able to ensure continuity of "due care" for their projects, and the resulting highly toxic waste, for the last 1500 years?
What makes anyone think modern warlike humans will be any better?
There is still no safe permanent disposal for nuclear waste. Who is going to look after it for the next 100k years?
irradiating the land you aim to occupy is such a good plan.
I think we can do at least as well as the Egyptians did a few thousand years ago when they buried their kings/gods. That would be a legacy ;)
Think about a couple of reinforced concrete pyramids ;) Of course we could also go for deep, deep sea storage, or (when we finally build a space elevator) we could chuck it back at the greatest local nuclear reactor of all - the sun.
Oh, and the minor point that most fission power stations have some quite significant defences (in the form of concrete and steel).
Looking around the area one of the safest places to be was inside the power plant - new information indicates that the tsunami was twice the height of the defence design specification. There have been a handful of "normal" deaths (i.e not related to ionising radiation sources).
The buildings survived rather well - the shutdown was well in progress when the tsunami took out significant amounts of the infrastructure (but still not the buildings)
We should carry on building nuclear reactors as safely as we know how, we should look at non-weapons tech to build safer reactors still. We should look at mini plants (substation sized).
..."It has taken major efforts by humans to keep them from going critical."
Please be careful with your use of 'critical'. As far as operating nuclear reactors are concerned, 'critical' is normal. Misusing the term may lead those who do not understand the terminology from becoming needlessly alarmed.
I admit that a reactor being shutdown should not be critical once the control rods are inserted, but I seriously doubt that in this case, the cores would have become critical in the nuclear sense even if the cooling had completely failed and they were damaged by heat.
The design is such that if a complete meltdown could occur, that resultant puddle of radioactive mess would be distributed over a large enough area such that a critical mass would not pool in any one place to allow an uncontrolled nuclear reaction to happen.
It's a funny thing....
But as soon as I see someone using "going critical" as loosely as in this post, I immediately assume they're not the sharpest tool in the box.
Critical has a strict meaning in nuclear matters - it means the number of neutrons generated "generation to generation" is greater than one. Geeting hot isn't "going critical". Being short on coolant flow isn't "going critical".
At least have the decency to get the terminology right.
"It has taken major efforts by humans to keep them from going critical."
No, it hasn't. The moment the quake hit, the control rods went home, the reactor scrammed, and the critical reaction stopped. That part of the failsafe worked perfectly.
What has caused the problems since is the decay heat due to the radioisotopes in the fuel rods. Even a major meltdown is unlikely to allow a critical reaction to restart.
Are you sure?
"There is still no safe permanent disposal for nuclear waste. Who is going to look after it for the next 100k years?"
The Romans didn't have the ability to launch things into space. 100,000 years is a long time not to be able to (say) fling some major tonnage of radioactive waste into the sun. Sure, currently it is akin to Ferdinand and Isabella having Christopher Columbus load raw sewage as cargo to bring to the mid-Atlantic for dumping, but you're the one waving around historical precedent.
Re: It's a funny thing.... → #
> But as soon as I see someone using "going critical" as loosely as in this post,
> I immediately assume they're not the sharpest tool in the box.
Erm, I got that from the moniker "poohbear"
Sigh, I know I'm prejudiced ...
Complain to the Media about their misleading coverage
This 'hompage' (sic) is where you can explain to the BBC what you think about the quality of their investigative journalism.
The BBC is the single most influential news service in the UK, and one of the best funded on the planet, yet is one of the worst offenders in the misleading media hysteria.
The irony is that up till now, they've been dutifully promoting the idea of climate change. In one short week they have managed to scare the public into embracing fossil fuels again. What plonkers.
So everything is fine?
And the japanese are just plain stupid to stop delivery of food from the region?
@So everything is fine?
Errr why take food from an area that has been badly hit by a tsunami and the people there are badly in need of supplies....
whats "safe" ?
Well apart from that old favourite, the "precautionary principle", remember what happened with BSE over here? Beef sales dived through the floor, so the government brought in any number of checks and restrictions in order to restore confidence both within the UK and internationally.
I'd be more concerned about the food (and people) under those carcinogenic clouds from the oil refineries and the long term effects from flooding agricultural areas with heavy metals from the ruined industrial complexes.
@ Volker Hett
No that's what's called a precaution; you know, something you do "just in case". They're not stopping the food leaving because it IS glowing but because there is/was an albeit tiny chance that it MIGHT be.
If you can't make simple distinctions like those you're going to have trouble seeing the facts
Meanwhile, in the real world...
Smoke is rising over units 3 and 2. Sea-water cooling of unit 3 is being delayed. TEPCO admits having no idea about the cause of these smokes.
Sure looks both « improving » and « firmly under control ».
No, "sea water cooling" isn't delayed.
for someone who's posted so much on here, you've not yet got much grasp.
Sea water cooling is ongoing on reactor 3. What was under discussion was venting of pressure in the suppression chamber. It's risen to about 2 bar (gauge), against a design pressure of 5 bar.
It's been decided to postpone it, because the pressure's now stable - and has been since around noon yesterday.
I suspect they're in no hurry, because as power comes back, they'll get back the residual heat removal systems, which will let them cool - hence depressurise - the chamber without releasing more short-lived products.
Incidentally, you were assuring us a few days ago that the R3 suppression chamber and containment were breached. For something with a hole in it, it's obviously doing remarkably well holding pressure.....
« Sea water cooling is ongoing on reactor 3. [...] It's been decided to postpone it »
So, is it ongoing or postponed? Anyway, AFP says that it has been delayed (news line from 13h05 GMT -- you can check by yourself), and I'll stick to that until further news.
« you were assuring us a few days ago that the R3 suppression chamber and containment were breached »
Nope, I didn't ever mention unit 3 before that message you replied to. You must be somehow confused.
« for someone who's posted so much on here »
Now, you have to be joking...
cooling, or venting - rather different things, you know. Or perhaps not.
Note the dates and times.
"During the day, the company had noted a pressure increase within unit 3, warning that venting may be required. Preparations were underway to open the relief vale on the torus suppression chamber, or if that had proven full of water, another valve on the reactor containment. These operations had been expected to release a more significant amount of radioactivity than earlier venting, but Tepco has since said the higher pressure is stable and it does not need to vent."
I worked on a former nuclear site for many years, and in a former Plutonium production facility for 3 years.
I'm still alive and in fine health.
That's very helpful. I'll add that my friend worked at Cadarache. He drank only mineral water, ate salad every day and died of pancreatic cancer before all of his children reached adulthood.
I really don't think these small parcels of anecdotal evidence add a great deal to the debate.
Would any alternative have been better? There was a sodding great fireball from an oil refinery too. This oil refinery was the opposite side of Tokyo from the earthquake and wasn't even touched by the tsunami. How well do you reckon an oil-fuelled power station would have survived at Fukushima?
As regards the grids - that's just crazy stuff from the Japanese. Not so much the different supplies, although that's pretty bonkers, but the fact that they've not done anything about joining the grids. I was sponsored through uni by a company (now called Alstom Transmission and Distribution Power Electronic Systems Limited - we needed small writing on business cards!) who amongst other things specialised in building back-to-back high-voltage DC links to join AC transmission grids, rectifying one grid to DC and then regenerating an AC sine-wave with the right frequency and phase. They'd been doing it for a while, and they're not the only ones in the market either. If the Japanese hadn't the nous to get one of these in place any time in the last 20+ years, they're mad.
It would have survived fine
I reckon that if an oil-fired powerstation had been shut down in a controlled manner then it would have been OK 2 days later. Unlike a nuclear power-station there would only be a couple of days worth of fuel on-site so the amount of energy available to make nasty things happen is just orders of magnitute less.
Shill, shill, conspire, tin foil. Ass hats.
Oh look, someone has a different opinion than me and it is based on facts, therefore rather than enter into an argument based on facts - of which I have none - I will simply take the most intellectually lazy and dishonest route of deciding that they are therefore in the pay of/conspiring with some massive global cartel which is massively inimical to the interests of humanity in general, and to me personally in particular since I'm so damn important.
This will save me the bother of having to listen to them or modify my opinion in the face of any facts that don't fit the coherent but utterly uninformed view of the world I have manufactured from whole cloth.
In the mean time, people are dying in their thousands as a result of all the other fucktards like me doing the same thing, but that's nowhere as near as important as the fact that my ideology is intact.
"people are dying in their thousands as a result of all the other fucktards like me doing the same thing"
Sorry, are you saying paranoid Reg readers are killing people in Japan by over-reacting to Lewis Page articles and calling him a shill?
Way to miss the point Bluenose
If you see the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, do say hello.
Spin works both ways, of course...
Isn't it WAY too early to say "Ah, but food grown in the region"? The quake/tsunami was barely over a week ago, ffs, and even then it took a couple of days for the reactors to start having their fun'n'games.
Those are some seriously fast-growing crops to have gone through a complete growing cycle and be harvested in that time.
The contamination is presumably dust that has fallen on the leaves. Until you teach cows to wash the grass before they eat it then they will ingest the dust on top of the blades of grass. So their milk will be contaminated within a day. I seem to remember the same stuff happening when Sellafield burped...
But the food contamination is something that has been measured, its not something that is being done just-in-case.
Reading these articles, and then reading the NYT.BBC etc articles - well, its like there are two different events being described.
I admire Lewis' writings, but I can't help getting the slight feeling he's got an agenda here.
Still, I chose to believe his reporting over the babble being spewed by the more mainstream press, which we know, for sure, has many agendas.
This is actually a report from TMI
...an event with minimal radiation release. Xenu icon because alternate realities.
"When I got up Saturday morning my lips were burnt more. And they were blistered. I couldn’t blow my nose, it was sore. I never had this before.
Sunday morning I was blistered more. You know how you get sunburn blisters. (But) I never got blisters in the sun. I never had blisters on my lips before then. Down in like your throat was really hot. It’s like you couldn’t drink enough. My chest. It was like putting hot towels on you, except the heat came from inside. This is something you can’t explain. It’s just like you were burning up inside. And you just wanted to drink. I don’t know if my getting sick with this heart condition was related to the accident, but that burning feeling in the chest was located right over where that valve went wrong. (Bill had to have a heart operation in December 1980.)
Now, it didn’t affect everybody the way it did me. Now my son, he was like that. My wife stayed in most of the time. She got a little bit. She could taste it, and got a little hot, but she didn’t get like I did.
We were gone seven days. We had a four year old male German shepherd. He was healthy when we left. He knew how to take care of himself because we go to Florida every winter normally, and he would stay in the garage. We had food prepared. We had 200 pounds of Purina Dog Chow separated out in boxes. I had ten five-gallon cans of water that he always used. Same cans he ever used. And, we left a window cracked in the garage, and he had a mattress in the back. When we came back, he was laying on his mattress dead. And his eyes were burnt white. Both eyes burnt white. He didn’t eat no food, hardly any food. He drank a whole five-gallon can of water, and he threw it up all over the garage. He was dead a lot more than a day. We walked in, we were sick. And you could still taste this like burning galvanized steel, metal.”
Amazing what you find....
when you search on a quote from the post above.
It apparently comes from a website called "Three Mile Island alert" which also treats us to gems like:
"“I went to the barn around four, four-thirty (in the morning). We were milking cows. And the barn started to shake. And I heard a rumble like underground. Well, I wouldn’t say an earthquake. But it was going like ‘brrup, brrup, brrup.’ And then it shook and shook and we didn’t hear the big rumbles. But every now and then you could hear a rumbling in the ground. And Paul, my brother, was with me and he says, ‘That’s an earthquake.’ I said, ‘Paul, it don’t sound like an earthquake. Earthquake, it just rattles. But you don’t hear the noise, the brrup, brrup.’ It just (was) like there was boiling water coming underground. "
"And so, about ten after seven, I started for the house, ‘cause I’ve been working since early morning. And I looked outside. It was so blue! It was so blue! I couldn’t see ten feet ahead of myself! I got scared"
opaque poison gas, eh?
Any alien abductions?
What are these people smoking?
Didn't it used to make people mellow?
I'm off to buy shares in each and every nuclear co.
But really - they're down ~20%
Channel 4 news
Channel 4 News was doing a sort of retrospective from Jon Snow who had gone to Japan shortly after the quake and toured around a bit to report on the extent of the damage. what I got from it was that they thought the nuclear situation was worrying and may be worrying long term, but they couldn't believe the UK news was spending so much time on what was happening at Fukushima Daiichi when most of the north-east of Japan's main island had be flattened and probably tens of thousands were dead and there was snow, too, falling on people with no homes.
I will undoubtedly get shed loads of flames from the Anti Brigade but bring 'em on! ;-)
I have thoroughly enjoyed Lewis's balanced reporting of this issue.
He has never indulged in scaremongering, he has reported based on the available data, not on hype and hyperbole, his writing is careful and considered and he hasn't once risen to the bait that all you trolls have thrown out there. Keep up the good work Lewis.
If any of you had ever visited a Nuke and seen how they are built you'd realise why they were still standing after an 8.9 earthquake and a 12m tsunami hit. Reinforced concrete walls several meter thick, foundations sunk down into the local bedrock, airlock doors everywhere.
I'd far rather work in a Nuke, even a 40 year old one, than work in any other type of power station.
RE: Balanced Reporting
I used to live just down the coast from Sellafield/Seascale/Windscale call it what you like. I've been there on school trips and as an adult. It is a fascinating place with its own single man on site police force. No longer generating electricity but is reprocessing the nasties from other nuclear sites.
I doubt most of that would still be standing if struck by an 8.9 earth quake... you are right though, the actual reactors would likely still be intact. But cooling towers and the like probably wouldn't.
My current local nuclear installation Winfrith on the other hand... I would give that a fighting chance. Mainly because it was shut down a decade ago and is currently being decommissioned. (I say currently, but a lot of that has stopped due to lack of money).
El Reg's reporter turns up with "Events at the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan went well at the weekend" and "sampling of food from farms in Fukushima province revealed that so far, in line with expectations, no dangerous radioisotopes have been released from the plant in significant quantities" - no source, no attribution - but it doesn't look much like this to me:
"Engineers at the Fukushima Daiichi facility, 155 miles northeast of Tokyo, had been racing to restore power to cooling systems at its six reactors to reverse the overheating that triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years."
"Tokyo's tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has caesium as well. Rain and dust are also tainted.
"In the province of Ibaraki, a centre of vegetable production, tests found radioactive iodine levels in spinach that were 27 times the accepted limit.
"Milk in Fukushima was found to be contaminated with radiation 17 times that limit. "
These are all from journalists who verify their sources and do not try to emulate Dr Pangloss.
Here's more, from Auntie this time:
"The crisis has still not been resolved and the situation at the [plant] remains very serious," Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, told an emergency board meeting."
El Reg's editorial staff needs to get a grip. Even if the intended readership is likely to have a pro-science bias, it is laughable to claim that there's no problem, and then that the problem is near to a solution: it reads like the pronouncements of a deluded dictator telling everyone that all the people love him.
re. Informative reporting
I don't think anyone is trying to say it isn't a serious situation, but it is true to say that the global effect of "the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years" is nil, and the local effects are almost nil. No-one has died as a result of "the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years".
In the context of the thousands of deaths caused by the earthquake and tsunami, the nuclear incident is insignificant and the way in which it has become the media focus has meant that relief efforts for the survivors of the earthquake are being hampered.
re. So everything is fine?
It isn't that the Japanese are stupid, it is just that, worldwide, the nuclear industry is subject to more scrutiny than any other human activity. Whether or not the precautions being taken are overkill for a given situation, the regulations have to be adhered to (unlike many industries where there is blatant flouting of rules), so with nuclear "safe" isn't good enough, it has to be "very safe" and so foodstuffs from a "contaminated" area are subject to restrictions (even though it might be safer than food produced near an asbestos plant).
The over-reaction of world governments to the "contamination" doesn't help (fuelled by poor reporting of the facts) and there will probably be a bit of a political element to some of the calls for restrictions (similar to the UK's BSE affair when some EU countries took the opportunity for an outright ban on imports of UK produced beef for years; using a health scare to support their own producers).
"The Fukushima Daiichi and Daini plants ... seem to have been very, very safe places to be compared to just about anywhere else in the stricken region."
Excepting those moments when the buildings exploded, and when radioactive crap intermittently burped out. This is "safe" in the same sense that the (well-managed) Hawaiian volcanic eruptions are safe -- civilians are kept well away from the excitement, and nobody gets hurt.
As in didn't collapse (except the crane) or suffer significant structural damage from what we can only describe as an $EXPLETIVE big earthquake followed by an $EXPLETIVE big tsunami.
Following that there have been a couple of explosions, and the occasional evacuation for limited time.
Seriously - that's what's good about this place, you can see and predict the dangers which are happening.
If I was outside the plant at the time of the quake/tsunami then I'd likely not care what was going on - I'd be on a cloud with a harp already...
Yes, ok, but what about.....
....Libya? Come on Lewis, there's a crazy tent dwelling evil dictator being spannered by some quite exciting sub launched missiles. What's more half of the pounding is coming from you favourite RAF/BAE makework scheme the GR4 Tornados. That's before we get the whole USA operation 'Lockerbie Payback' angle on it. Get typing Lewis.
On a related question.
Coal fired power stations release radioactive materials.
Does anyone know who much Drax [which generates similar amounts of power to Fukushima No. 1] emits?
Or Liddle and Bayswater [similar combined GW] in Australia?
Partial info here
Note the distinction between with, and without scrubbers, and the problems of incorporating fly ash into concrete.
Read dispassionately and without regard to previous articles, this one is almost balanced. It is still leaning on the pro nuke side but keeps that to a minimum, spoiled by trying to shoe horn in your opinion that "It has to be one of the safest forms of activity undertaken by the human race". I would counter by suggesting there are innumerable other things that are safer, stroking fluffy kittens for example. Though anything can be shown to have some danger, however remote or ridiculous that danger might seem. Say, catching Bartonellosis from fluffy kitty when kitty gets angry and scratches you, and being immuno-suppressed you fall horribly ill, contract pneumonia and die. Far fetched I know, but then so is my office being struck by a meteor.
I'm also sceptical of the notion that (in respect of the power plants) "they have not and will not harm a hair on anyone's head radiologically". Thankfully there have only been a handful of contamination cases reported with little detail of the doses received. The one case of exposure that stated a dose over 100mSv (100mSv/yr being the limit over 1 year in normal circumstances for a Japanese nuclear worker, 250mSv/yr in emergencies) didn't state how quickly that dose was received but it is safe to speculate it was hours rather than a year. Unfortunately (or perhaps more appropriately fortunately) not enough data exists about the consequences of doses below 250mSv/yr so it is not simply enough to say that there are no side effects because we haven't seen enough data to know one way or the other. It would be more responsible to say any exposure over 50mSrv in a short period of time carries a likely risk of increased susceptibility to ill health, with regular medicals being made available to that person for their lifetime (I would also add, at the expense of, but not provided by, the nuclear authority whose plant emitted the radiation).
As is the nature of radiation exposure to complex organic life, the effects are not always immediately apparent (except in high doses over short periods of time or concentrated doses), nor does every organism react in the same way or suffer the same damage. It is a complex interplay relating to the type of radiation exposure, the energy level and duration, the area affected, the age and general health (including pre existing cellular or genetic damage) of those exposed. Then you need to consider the effects of the exposure on a cellular level, is it directly damaging cell structure? Causing chemical changes? Or is it damaging DNA. In the case of DNA, effects depend on whether the radiation damage causes a single or double stranded break and the individuals ability to repair the damage. Another factor in successful cell replication is where in the DNA strand the damage occurs, Not to mention the number of incidents of damage within the body. Pre existing risk, such as family history of disease and previous exposure to radiation sources also play a part in long term outcomes of radiation exposure.
Stroking fluffy kittens?
Have you never heard of toxoplasmosis? It can send your children BLIND.
I am measurably more paranoid* about the cat shit in my garden than any nuke plant.
*fekked off as well....bloody cats
Fluffy kitten disease bigger risk than radiation
Antibody reaction tests suggest 2 billion people worldwide have been infected by toxoplasmosis. It presents a much greater risk than present levels of man-made nuclear radiation.
This ghastly disease that makes rats lust after cat piss appears to cause stillbirths in humans as well as in sheep.
"Dr Joanne Webster, a lecturer in infectious disease at Oxford ... also says we are likely to find more evidence of the parasite's impact on children."
"There is some initial research that has found hyperactivity and low IQ in children with high Toxoplasma levels..."
Apparently toxoplasmois can re-surface when the immune system is weakened. Anyone for autism?
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