back to article Sixth Japanese nuclear reactor loses cooling

Yet another reactor in Japan's Fukushima nuclear-power complexes has lost its cooling, bringing the total number of problematic reactors in northeastern Japan after Friday afternoon's megaquake to six. This information was provided in a one-line advisory by Japan's Kyodo News, which is closely montoring developments at …

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Anonymous Coward

Sixth Japanese nuclear reactor loses cooling

There's also some interesting info at the following link from The World Nuclear Association (a London-based industry body):

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Battle_to_stabilise_earthquake_reactors_1203111.html

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ancient reactors

"Daiichi means "first". "Daini" means "second.." Reactors 1,2, and 3 at daiichi" were commissioned starting in 1970, and reactor 1, the one that failed first, was scheduled to be decomissioned this month after 40 years of operation. It was first designed less than 20 years sfter the start of the atomic age. It failed because the diesel backup generators (used only to run the emergency pumps) failed after an hour of operation after the worst earthquake in a thousand years, and the failure mode (so far, at least) means only that this reactor which is at its end life anyway, will need to be scrapped. The containment vessel did not (and probably will not) fail, and at worst a few workers will get a small amount of extra radiation. The new problems are at reactors 2 and 3, which share the same (failed) generators.) 2 and 3 are only slightly newer and have only 2 and 3 years of life, os the loss is small.

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Jobs Halo

Looks like the Pro Nuclear crowd are out to lobby.

Yeah, nothing like have a few partly melted down nuclear reaktors in your back yard. I've lived for most of my life just around 15 miles from a nuclear plant. I even get 7% of my electricity from nuclear power, or so the electricity bill says.

Nuclear fission plants are complex things made by lowest bidding subcontractor. To be quite honest I think the people who are having their homes exposed to radiactive gasses, don't really give a damn that the plants were old and and and..

Lets get some serious science into fusion research and in the mean time try to be a little more energy efficient.

// jesper

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Gates Halo

Nope.

Nahh.. you got that wrong. the people you describe there are usually PRO nuclear.

// Jesper

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Stop

@ norfolk

You make it sound like it's a case of nuclear or nothing - that couldn't be further from the truth!

In any case, surely putting a big explosive thing like this in Japan, a heavily populated high risk eartquake area is a bad idea?

I can see a place for nuclear in central Australia where it's nice and stable, and let's face it, noone would really notice if it went boom, but I think this event wasn't a case of if, it was always going to be a when.

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Go

instead of talking bollock , try this

you clearly didnt live through the 1070's power cut's up north http://century.guardian.co.uk/1970-1979/Story/0,,106893,00.html

and have no idea what your talking about

instead of talking bollock's , put your hand in your picket and try this Norfolk 'n' wank

http://www.outdoorgb.com/p/12_v_travel_kettle_18095/

and many more actual useful power saving devices today that can run off any reasonable PV and a few large 12v battery's , im sure the many people around the world including effected Japanese would welcome as many of these simple things as they can get right now

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Boffin

Dinner parties?

I don't know which dinner parties you've been to, but if that's the topic of conversation then maybe you should find a different circle of friends?

There are 2 major fallacies around the whole subject of power generation.

First is the idea that nuclear energy is somehow "clean" or even "green". This notion is both hilarious (because of how wrong it is) and terrifying (because of how many people in politics seem to actually believe it).

Second is the myth there is such a thing as "renewable" energy, and that if we only had enough wind farms and wave barriers then the whole world would be unicorns and rainbows. "Renewable" energy doesn't exist. All energy "production' consists of changing energy from one form into another, and to put energy into one system (e.g. the power grid) you have to take energy from another system (wind patterns, sea currents etc.) and as soon as we start doing that on an industrial scale we will see just what a folly the whole green energy scam is.

There are already wind farms in the US that are showing changes to the ecology and evidence of land erosion downwind because of changes to the wind patterns.

The only answer is greater efficiency. That and big fuck-off mirrors in space that could collect some of the solar energy that otherwise streams off into the vacuum.

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Roo
Silver badge
Welcome

Re: The anti nuclear lobby must be jumping for joy

I think David Cameron has had just such an Epiphany. Just over a year ago he was video-bogging while washing dishes and now he's PM who presides over a government that is in the process of ushering in a new bunch of nuclear power plants with huge reactors that will be a PITA to build, a PITA to fix if they go wrong, a huge PITA to decommission and a very long + expensive PITA to bury afterwards.

I doubt that DC et al will be anywhere to be seen when it comes to picking up a shovel and burying the waste at the bottom of his garden afterwards. For that matter I suspect very few of the Pro-Nuke lobby will be volunteering to bury the waste at the bottom of their gardens for 1K years either (and no, you don't get to pick and choose which kind of waste gets buried there either).

Norfolk - are you up for having a ton of assorted nuclear waste (eg: some of the stuff they can't find a home for at Drigg) buried at the bottom of your garden to further the nuke cause ? All you have to do is construct a appropriate storage facility that will keep it in the right conditions for 1000 years - with zilch leaks to the water table or atmosphere. I am sure the grateful nuclear industry would stump up for a spade to help you along.

I for one welcome our pro-Nuclear shovel-wielding nuclear-waste-disposal overlords.

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dishwasher vs handwashing

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/built-in-dishwasher-vs-hand-washing-which-greener.php

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What an absurd comment

Highly amusing that drivel like that is being uprated. Truly lame.

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Perhaps

Because we are cynical and sensible enough to understand what a bad idea it is. We can see what can go wrong..

Just like building on a flood plane, and not being surprised when it .. well.. FLOODS..

The same people who are against bringing "modern comforts to tribal people" is debatable, but look at the hard evidence. Western society is fine for western environments, but wearing clothing that will rot in a few months is not really practical for Amazonian rainforest dwellers. Moving to a village of a few hundred people will remove all the game in the local area quickly. Small nomadic family units will preserve it.

Western lifestyles and western appliances do not work in extreme conditions like this.

History is littered with the misery caused by heavy handed, sometimes well meaning westerners coming in and totally screwing up the lives of whole tribes on pretty much every continent.

Take a look at the Inuit tribes in Canada around the turn of the last century, who had kids kidnapped so they could be brought up in "a civilised way" the unprecedented cost in life of the slave trade. The exploitation of Aborigines in Australia, the poverty stricken Amazon tribes who existed for thousands of years undiscovered and unhindered, living with their environment, not fighting it every step of the way. Yet as soon as western society gets involved, they live in poverty and are usually exploited in one way or another.

Please.. Stop being so superior. Ignorance is nothing to be proud of.

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WTF?

Huh?

I have yet to see anyone jumping with joy. Actually, I have not even seen (13-3-11, 12h32 GMT+1) a post resembling a "told you so".

You are absolutely right however in hinting that given our current level of wastefulness husbandry might be our largest source of energy.

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Boffin

Cough, cough

A dishwasher uses less water and less energy than an average manual wash for the same quantity of dishes. 25-30l (and energy to heat it up) vs 50l+ for wash and rinse. Same for clothes and washing machine, etc.

Even if we account for the energy required to produce the appliance it is still more energy efficient than human washing stuff with water heated in a boiler.

While I agree with your general sentiment that people should really understand where the energy comes from and what is required to keep modern society functional, your particular argument and example is incorrect.

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Silver badge
Flame

This article is about damage to nuclear reactors ...

... and loss of life. None of the comments, at the time I write this, are the 'anti-nuclear lobby jumping for joy' - your comment is certainly not a reply to such a comment, in any case. It is extremely difficult to respect your opinions because of the timing, context and manner in which you express them.

Many of the workers who have been - and will be - exposed to radioactivity and other dangers will be in that position because they are working to keep other people safe. Show some respect FFS.

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Flame

I guess I'm one of the people you say are jumping for joy....

but I don't feel particularly happy. The people of Japan have enough to deal with at the moment without their technology turning on them. As I write potasium iodine tablets are being issued to parts of the population and engineers are struggling to contain the situation instead of dealing with the aftermath of earthquake and tsunami. I agree that the tech is old but at the time it was built it was hailed as completly safe the same as the plants we are about to build. Our new plants will be 40 years old at some points and I bet we will hear the same excuse then. Centralising electricity generation into a few nukes is building failure points into your electricity grid, in the UK it won't be earthquakes that take them out, but I bet something or someone will have a go in the next 40 years. I wash my dishes by hand and ration my own electricity because I can't afford the bills, nukes will not make uk electricity cheaper or safer. (Flames for core meltdown)

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Unhappy

Japan's a third-world country?

If the Japanese can't build and operate a nuclear power station safely (within easily foreseeable levels of risk), then what does that tell you about the safety of nuclear power worldwide?

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Nuke or oil?

I'm sure the people with the burning refinery in THEIR backyard just love it, and think it's peachy cool. Nobody got hurt there, after all.

Never mind that the smoke plume off of the refinery is far more dangerous to life than any gas that could possibly be vented from a reactor, including radioiodine.

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Silver badge
FAIL

To be fair, not many people alive in the 1070's are alive today...

and I thought energy product then was a cut-your-own-firewood affair.

And I can't see a 12V kettle as an "energy saving device" - once you calculate the efficiency of the PV cells and the battery storage, you'll find that a few mirrors to focus the heat directly will boil your kettle a lot faster.

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Go

there's always the alternator option if you dont like or cant afford the PV option too

there's always the alternator option if you dont like or cant afford the PV option, not ideal but good for limited emergency use,of which this clearly qualify's.

you might not have a clear sunny day when you need it most, or dont even have access to an expensive PV panel, but you more than likely have access to many broken cars and other engine transport, and lots of bikes parts in Japan especially.

you can strip out the alternator and battery's of these broken car's , and rig up a bike gear and hand crank to turn that alternator and re-charge the battery bank you lashed together and collectively run all these 12v devices that way if there's no working engine and fuel to power it.

OC the bigger long term problem is the cost of buying the full kit required to make use of the PV and mico wind turbines etc and the fact that you cant actually buy self contained portable battery and all the kit that goes with it in reasonable places or prices today.

also think about the things that use the most electric today in your average home, the average family sized fridge and freezer uses 240v AC just for the compressor to pump the gas around now and then, replace that as standard on all these with a simple and cheap 12v 2amp compressor and you save lots of grid power and get to use it off grid to in emergency power cuts for a long time off one single car battery for instance with no effect on the stored food.

the same for your LCD monitor/TV, even the desktop PC running off 240v and no 12v option to use directly, its simple to do gradually if they actually gave you the option to buy these 12vDC off grid optional backup today, they dont so you have no choice but to always use the grid or pay through the nose for for direct 12v home use kit or waste some of that battery reserve in heat as you invert it with an expensive 1000watt 12v DC to 230v AC inverter.... make them available and make them cheaper and we can start using them , even if we choose to run them on grid power most of the time, it still saves more power long term.

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Go

not good in the uk

LOL , should have guessed the typo would set me up for that ,but it did include the right date in the link.

i up voted you anyway even though your focused solar is indeed another cheap option for some parts of the world but not good in the uk on a pissy day even down south never mind anywhere past the rainy city, other than on a clear high summer's day.

the weather in the effected area's of Japan isn't to clever right now ether and OC focused solar has the instant sun requirement, PV/battery store helps you spread it locally.

remember that's why the average eastern chap's invented the heavy duty wok centuries ago due to having no reliable fuel source at the time, and focused solar was known about even back then.

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Anonymous Coward

please

Mirrors in space? Are you kidding me?

I live in Dubai and in this part of the world (and much of the rest of it) the sun shines 360 days a year. Do you know how much it costs to put a kilogram in orbit? Do you know how much CO2 that releases? One small installation will cost BILLIONS and yet you could build a similar installation in numerous places on earth. There really is no shortage of large empty land where the sun shines a lot.

Now of course, the mirrors will get dusty from time to time. They won't catch as much sun due to the atmosphere. So what? Build it five times as big and it will still be less than 0.1% of the cost of the equivalent mirror in orbit. And when something breaks, you need a man with a jeep, not a 10 million dollar space servicing mission.

If you want to lose credibility for anything technical you say, then suggesting mirrors in space as an efficient solution to world power is definitely the way to do it.

And before anyone says "oh, but why are various governments looking into this", the reason is obvious. A big mirror in Arizona isn't going to be able to melt Beijing or Riyadh. The mega-bucks are only ever reserved for military development.

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Badgers

Dreamer?

"the average family sized fridge and freezer uses 240v AC just for the compressor to pump the gas around now and then, replace that as standard on all these with a simple and cheap 12v 2amp compressor"

You think you can get a fridge to run on 24 watts? Are you going to wrap it in 3' of fiberglass and only open it once a week?

Charge an old car battery with an old car alternator? Have you ever tried that? I rigged up an alternator to a bike and I can tell you that just to light up one headlight (55 W) you have to peddle like hell. you can just about forget human power for anything that draws more then a simple radio or flashlight. What next? Run your oven with a hampster wheel?

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Go

non dreamer, you obvously did it wrong tom

first of all no one said run it directly off the alternator , but rather charge the battery pack's and use them.

as it happen's i also did this experimental prototype, admittedly it was a larger truck alternator, and

a 10 geared racer frame i lashed together with spare parts i had in the garage , i did power my old micro PC using one of these http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT , my wireless 11g router and a newer 15" LCD for quite some time off the 4 large battery's

as for the "get a fridge to run on 24 watts?" im not sure , but lots companies today supply lots of 12v powered fridges and freezers of various sizes including home/boat etc so it can be done at a price...

http://www.reliancemarine.com/Product/10816/Isotherm-Cruise-195L-Cabinet-Combo-Fridge-Freezer/View.aspx

Power Consumption (Average/Max at 12V: 2.3/6.2A

Danfoss Compressor Type: BD50F

Freezer Temperature: -21°C/-6°F

http://www.kingslockchandlery.co.uk/wn/mio/d/12volt+fridge+freezer+2+door+99dw3+12+volt+fridge+cz/pid/10678047?afid=88888

99DW3

This unit uses the Danfoss compressor and electronic unit so is energy efficient using approximately 1.5amps per hour in ambient conditions

http://www.skyblueleisure.co.uk/acatalog/info_K201208_45L_Compressor_Fridge_Freezer.html

etc

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=12v+freezer+fridge&hl=en&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbs=shop:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=b1h_Td6DFN-T4ga79qCTCA&ved=0CEYQrQQ

i can also find 12v DC standard (and ceramic) ovens and also microwave oven's too, but ill leave that as a exercise for you as clearly you are to weak right now to power that headlight and so need the exercise to improve your lower body strength :P

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Anonymous Coward

@Norfolk 'n' Goode

Tell us more, please.

Apart from washing up by hand, what do you do to help indigenous natives in primitive parts of the world?

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Sixth reactor ?

I read the message qoted as meaning Reactor number 6 , so third reactor looses coolant.

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I've said it before....

...and I'll say it again; the Japanese nuclear industry is now terminally *fscked*.

Even if nothing worse happens, what has happened already - and appears to be happening as I write, now reports of cooling failures at FOUR different power stations - mean that the program is finished. Give it a month maybe, for the dust to settle and people to gather their wits, and every single reactor in Japan will be shut down permanently; the people won't stand for anything less. Relevant or not, they remember Hiroshima.

I'm not cheering this; we *need* nuclear. Gen IV. Sooner rather than later. But by their appalling emergency preparedness, the Japanese have shot their nuclear industry in the head - and the rest of us in the kneecaps.

Mike

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Go

Probably not...

These events are unlikely to halt Japan's nuclear programme, in my opinion. Firstly, they don't have much of an alternative. Japan doesn't have vast fields of coal, oil or gas, and importing is an expensive business. These alternatives could also be politically unpopular (think Kyoto Protocol).

Secondly, what's happened here is a meltdown of a handful of reactors, some of which were reportedly approaching retirement anyway. This is a *long* way off any kind of large-scale nuclear disaster like Chernobyl. I understand at least one plant worker has lost their life, which is always a tragedy, but compared to the death and destruction elsewhere in North Eastern Japan it seems these nuclear plants might statistically be the safest place to be.

Finally, the Japanese know better than anybody how quickly technology progresses. There can't be many people who believe that a 40-year-old reactor design is the pinnacle of what they can achieve now. If anything, I predict this natural disaster will spark *more* investment in nuclear power in Japan.

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I really hope..

...this doesn't start more scaremongering about nuclear power (and that noone else dies of course). As others have said, nuclear power is overall one of the safest methods of electricity generation. Sure, when it goes bad it goes bad in a horrible way. Thing is it so rarely goes bad. A 9,0 richter scale earthquake is pretty damn bad. If a 40 year old reactor can survive that and not explode, come on...the rest of us are surely fine.

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Anonymous Coward

@Simon Neill

Did you really mean to imply that it's OK for a few locals to be contaminated with radiation while the "rest of us are surely fine"? Perhaps it was an unfortunate turn of phrase, but to me it makes you seem like the most self-centred, self-interested, right-wing extremist little shit that ever walked the face of the earth.

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Silver badge

I'm sure he didn't.

On the other hand, one does not imagine there are many people who moved into the neighbourhood BEFORE this reactor was planned or built. I find that most Left-wing supporters are very much in favour of abdicating individual responsibility from the people and placing it in the hands of the government - as if the rest of us were too bloody stupid to realise the implications of living in the shadow of a nuclear power plant - or any power plant, for that matter. Do YOU live next to Sizewell B?

Since it probably needs to be spelled out for YOU, no, it's not okay. But if people choose to live next to the sea, one should not be surprised if they are the ones most affected by cliff erosion* or, in more extreme cases, tsunamis. That doesn't make it okay or "fair" (the sacred chalice of all Lefties), but it's pretty much expected. That's life, funnily enough.

Real props to the Japs for building such resilient cities, though. Tokyo was hit quite badly, but I imagine that if the building design had been Western, the carnage would have made 9/11 look like a picnic. I have little doubt that similar attention to detail was given to the reactor design - if they have a meltdown, I do not think it will be that big an issue.

The unfortunate thing for Japan is that they have quite a vigorous anti-nuclear lobby. My wife and I were accosted by an extremely aggressive guy outside a JR railway station (by the Ghibli museum, oddly enough) who practically demanded 1000 yen and our signatures. We refused. Eventually, these guys will win, but I wonder what kind of victory it will be: With no significant oil, gas or alternative energy - and an insane demand for electricity - the Japanese will be forced to return to nuclear, if they do not wish to wind the clock back 150 years and live like the Amish.

* The last Labour government was quite happy to adopt a policy of "managed erosion" - basically, let nature take its course, and abandon any effort at preventing the land from falling into the sea. Many hectares of populated land were lost to the sea, and this will never be recovered. That should indicate just how much the Lefties really put their money where their mouth is. Unsurprisingly, their response consistently fails to impress: They're good at idealistic rhetoric; not so good at action.

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Anonymous Coward

Thank you for trying to educate me, Oliver

I had never before understood that not expecting people to die for my convenience was a leftist stance.

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Silver badge

Like any psychopath, you avoid the real issue.

It was the rabid jump-down-your-throat response that alerted me to your alignment, not your so-called moral superiority (which happens to be wholly self-imagined, by the way.)

Do you really think that everyone who supports nuclear power expects people, consciously, to die for their convenience? (Because if you DO, it tells us a hell of a lot about YOUR psyche.) Compared to, say, the deaths attributed to hydroelectric dams failing, mining conditions for coal, uranium, thorium, rare earths - used in those precious wind turbines the greenies love, by the way - plus the usual bunch, oil platforms and refinery explosions, wars in the middle east, et cetera?

The fact of the matter is, anyone who owns/uses pretty much anything of value (including materials, by the way) is responsible for the deaths of hundreds, or thousands, per year. Actually, I'll amend that: If you are a member of an industrialised society, it's pretty much guaranteed that your convenience is built on the deaths of others. By sitting in front of a computer, you are using the result of quite a fair bit of mining (which will have been responsible for many fatalities). You probably also drive a car - do you use an alternative to petrol to fuel it, by any chance?

Now, when the concept has finally sunk into your head, perhaps you will realise what an utterly stupid argument you have made. The irony is, funnily enough, that nuclear power has been responsible for far LESS deaths per megawatt-hour than pretty much any other form of power generation - including wind turbines (which kill in the region of 5,000+ Chinese miners every year).

By arguing loudly that you do not expect other people to die for your own convenience, you are neither enlightened nor moralistic. You ARE, on the other hand, displaying breathtaking ignorance, hypocrisy, and a dangerous amount of misguided idealism. Attitudes like yours belong in a Star Trek episode - they do not belong in real life.

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Anonymous Coward

Regulatory woes

From what I remember, the biggest problem with TEPCO is that the Japanese regulatory body has great difficulty imposing compliance.

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Joke

leftist tsunami wipes out nukes - global plot

"you'll be the first ones storming down to Westminster to demand more nuclear reactors."

Nah, they'll be trampled underfoot by the nuclear industry shills

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Megaphone

my ha'peth worth

I'd say I think we have backed ourselves into a corner regarding nuclear power generation. It's not “Green” in reality, due to the emissions and energy required to mine, transport and refine the oar. It has an horrendous legacy of waste for future generations and if accidents occur they are likely to have a major impact on the environment. But, easily available hydrocarbon resources are becoming more and more expensive to exploit as we use up the low hanging fruit that propelled us through the plastic & silicon boom of the later 20th century.

Add to that our growing populations and growing thirst for energy to power the dishwasher and all the other 'must have' items we are told (so easily persuaded) to buy and which don't last any way because they are built on the cheap to increase profit margins. So I am kind of agreeing with you on something I think. Our first washing machine (c. 1984) was built in Europe and was so easy to maintain (i.e. clean hoses, replace motor brushes, access any part you wanted too), we made it last over 25 years. (Washing was done in the bath / sink by hand up until that point). It was as if it had been put together with the mind of an engineer who understood longevity and maintenance. But equipment like that isn't going to make money for the makers nor are we encouraged to either get our hands dirty fixing things or even try to understand how things work.

I'm just trying to say that there does need to be a change in mind set all round, with the emphasis being on our impact on the environment (waste), whilst we wean ourselves off the goal that profit / money must be King. We have become unwitting slaves to Money and Energy Resource.

As a naïve kid in the sixties I remember watching one of those information films (when TV wasn't on 24/7), one of which described the efforts western engineers were putting into developing hydro-electric generation in Africa. It portrayed the west in a glowing light, monitoring the environmental impact, building new schools and villages for the displaced people (as a consequence of constructing damns) and generally bringing well-being and goodness to the people of a less well off developing nation. I bought into the story and believed we were right to export good governance, knowledge and development in this way. Now though I expect the benefits largely impacted on the richer echelons of African society.

There are two ways for a group of people to climb a mountain; they can trample over each other in a race to the top, or, the stronger ones can turn around and help the weaker ones up the mountain first. Which model best fits human behaviour do you think.

In our (western) race to the top of the mountain money is king. If you've got some you can afford; education, medical care, good housing and a 4x4 to take the kinds to nursery school in (you are a four-star consumer and get all the applause). If you don't have much, it must be your own fault and you struggle to afford even half decent food, clothes and warmth.

In the developing world money is also king; you can afford arms and ammunition and suppress / exploit those weaker around you. It brings political power and you can sell off your nations resources to the hungry west to line your pockets whilst the rest of your people starve in poverty.

I say we use our combined ingenuity to level the playing field, but that's pushing up against the weight of all those weaker people who were trampled on and against the power of the top-dogs who all ready made it to the top - not at all easy. We would also need to push against the weight of our own avarice and reliance on energy.

We seem to make our history by the millisecond these days, with all the channels of communication that abound. All the ephemeral, transient, trashy information we ping back and forth between us distorts / shortens our perspective, such that we become blind to the real problems before us and blind also to the lessons that history can teach us. We can however, watch ourselves plunge into the information vortex and be damned!

We can drill relatively microscopic holes through miles of this crust that we cling to, in order to sip out hidden pools of nectar (oil and gas). We can put so much trash into space we then moan when a piece takes out a lovely shiny expensive communication satellite.

SURELY then we can put our collective minds to making the whole world a better place for all, and, who knows, we might even find that we behave better towards one another, quite naturally apply limits to our population, rid ourselves of a superiority complex or two (religion) and bathe in the warm glow of sharing equally in the very best things that our planet earth has to offer.

BUT, that's not going to happen any time soon and I am probably guilty of letting my childhood naivety cloud my vision.

So we are backed into that corner I mentioned earlier, with nations like Japan, (for all it's ingenuity and technical prowess), having to rely on nuclear power because it lacks available alternatives in sufficient quantity.

Backed into a corner because we deal with dodgy dictators who happen to be sitting on huge reserves of oil and gas.

Backed into a corner because we will even make up excuses to fight illegal wars over such reserves and throw away so many young lives.

Nature, of course, has her own solution to all this and it's not nice. There's no point us hiding from the fact that the forces of nature have to be lived with, not fought against. Our present course will see us plunged into; global warfare, starvation, thirst, disease and, ultimately, a dramatic reduction in our numbers – natures way of saying STOP, that's enough now.

We have, I'm afraid, probably gone too far along this road and we will continue to exploit each other right up until we almost reach the dizzying, unobtainable, mountain summit that we so ardently believe is our goal.

The only hope for future generations is that they can somehow learn from our mistakes, because it doesn't look like we are man-enough to do it NOW for ourselves.

The party is over folks, it's time to clear out the empties and freshen the place up a bit.

For those of you inclined to accuse me of being just another nay-saying pessimist, I think it's actually a POSITIVE thing to believe that we could actually get ourselves out of this mess – we do have the where with all and the know-how to do it. And, ok, a near-utopia isn't the most the most exciting, adrenaline-pumping, prospect, but maybe we could give up on the hunter-gathering stuff now and nurture a little more instead.

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Anonymous Coward

The current reality, but not the only future ...

Can we please get over the fact that nuclear power generates huge amounts of waste. Some forms of it do, but critically others do not. Let's not check the entire industry in the bin because the military types wanted a reactor which can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. It's like claiming all cars are doomed and could never do more than 6 MPG just because the Hummer needs a 6 litre engine.

An alternative reactor type was proposed back in the 1940's, and actually went as far as a working prototype which ran for a couple of years, but was canned because it didn't produce nuclear material suitable for weapons.

Why? Because it burnt too much of it as fuel (it actually burns > 90% of the nuclear material as fuel, compared to only a few percent in the typical "conventional" reactor designs). The upshot - it needs much less refining to produce the fuel in the first place, you need much less volume of fuel (less mining) to run the reactor, what you get out has a half life of only a few hundred years, and utterly useless as a nuclear weapon, so less "terrorist" risks.

Oh - and the reactor is much safer and less likely to go kabloey because it can self regulate, unlike a water cooled reactor.

Downside - the nuclear industry has sold fuel supply and spent fuel rod reprocessing as the equivalent of an IT services contract, and use that to subsidize the cost of the initial plant. All of their $$$ come from the fuel supply, so actually getting them to propose such a thing to the UK government is exceptionally unlikely.

Google "Thorium cycle" and "Molten salt reactors" for the details ...

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

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IT Angle

and your problem is ?

What have you got against Darwins atheology being put into practice ? Anybody would think you wish to return to transcendant values, like right and wrong and all that old stuff. BTW, Plato got there first, but in this pig ignorant age, really old guys are not probably read any more for what they had to say.

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Go

ALART!

Japanese anime has always extra-cool display and visualization magic of various tooling [which mainly works because the purported visualization software is imbued with the intelligence of the animation designer, a thing similar to what happens Microsoft concept demos, but I digress..]

Why is it I haven't found not even a distantly related cousin of such coolness to update me on the momentary status of them there NPPs?

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Badgers

in deference to Verka Serduchka

Because at least three orders of magnitude more people are involved in the extremely competitive realm of animation/graphic design, and thus the lazy/stressed/clever have/had to trim every corner and 'leverage every advantage' to survive, never mind be successful.

On a side note, check out Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 that was aired in 2009. The forthought and prescience is eerie, and it was very detailed in it's basing on several seismologist's warnings that something this bad was going to happen in the next five years or so.

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Megaphone

i doubt that anyone is jumping for joy over this

and I haven't noticed any posts to that effect.

so who, exactly, are you shouting at? the voices in your own head?

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Anonymous Coward

it's not the radiation they have to worry about

it's the giant mutated lizard monster that will stomp all over Tokyo.

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Yes indeed!

Quite a few engineers have suggested that in the past, and there are many things to recommend it.

Uranium / plutonium fission was picked in the early days to generate plutonium for bombs, and to kick off the nuclear fuel cycle (which is what Sellafield was originally all about). Going back to first principles and choosing not to make bombs from the waste products means thorium is surely very viable.

I know that the EU got asked by CERN to fund thorium reactor research. The EU, bless 'em, pushed the proposal over to some Frenchie for evaluation. His view was meh, won't work, so it wasn't funded. Turns out he worked for the French nuclear industry with a uranium PWR design to flog. Conflict of interest or what.

India is putting some work in to it too. India has HUGE reserves of thorium...

Getting back to the situation in Japan, things are pretty bad. But it is pretty impressive how so far, despite huge levels of abuse thrown at these things, the actual vessels themselves don't seem to have been breached. Let's hope it stays that way.

There are going to be some interesting design reviews coming out of this. One is surely why was all the emergency cooling systems sufficiently low down to be affected by the tsunami (I am assuming that inundation is the root problem here). Put it on the roof out of water's way. Another is that these problems are seemingly arising because of insufficient electricity to run the cooling gear. One does wonder what would the situation be if they had just kept them running? Of course I don't know if that was even a viable option after the tsunami struck, and might certainly have been a gamble after the quake shook it all about in the first place.

Also I wonder how well the staff themselves are coping. They must be under a lot of stress, and people don't often make the right decision under such circumstances. I wonder how long it took to transition from an attitude of 'can we save the reactor intact' to 'can we just stop a containment breach no matter what the cost'? No one wants to be the one to make that call, especially when such a transition inevitably means an acknowledgement of some sort of failure, some deviation from the acceptable norm. It is especially difficult to make such an admission in Japanese society.

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Boffin

Not just that, but it can 'burn up' existing waste products

Thorium power reactors have a few more advantages.

The first and MAJOR advantage to my thinking is that they can safely 'burn up' existing high level nuclear waste and the waste products produced only need to be stored for a few decades at most.

Another nice thing is that thorium is pretty much evenly distributed so no country would be depending upon any other for energy. For instance the US has enough thorium resources within its borders to last 1000 years if thorium reactors were to be used to fully replace fossil fuels.

There is no energy *shortage*, only an artificially created crises.

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hmm no, that to is a rare earth commodity, fail.

hmm no, that to is a rare earth commodity, fail.

plus OC china as the worlds largest exporter of rare earth's around 95% of the global market have

put a massive limit on that export growth for 2011

http://www.automatedtrader.net/real-time-dow-jones/52403/china-to-issue-additional-quotas-for-2011-rare_earth-exports-_-report

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@C 2

"There is no energy *shortage*, only an artificially created crises"

I like that line a lot. You are quite right of course. Energy productions is riven by vested interests, human ineptitude and profit motives.

Given that a reliable large scale source of clean electricity would make most of the world's political problems go away, one does wonder why the politicians don't put more money into getting it. Of course, they only look 4 to 5 years into the future.

One place I am permanently puzzled by is France. Forty to fifty years ago they decided to do nuclear power, high speed rail and space. They have the cheapest and cleanest electricity in Europe (mostly nuclear, no major accidents so far), they have a high speed rail network that is marvellous to use, and they have the worlds most successful satellite launching business. So how on earth did all that survive the intervening 40 years without becoming a victim of political infighting and economic downturn? Never mind the stereotypical views of the French, they have clearly got the ability to actually make these grandiose projects actually work. ITER is in France, and maybe that is a good thing.

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@ Norfolk 'n' Goode

Hmmm.

What about those of us who have severe doubts about the ethics of passing on the disposal problems of nuclear waste to our distant descendants?

You know what, some of us don't have central heating/air conditioning set to max.

Some of us don't have the latest electronic toy.

Some of us run the most economic car we can find (which we need for going to do real work where there are no public transport routes).

Oh. Almost forgot. Some of us do, indeed, wash the dishes by hand (we also dry clothes on a washing line - or clothes airer if it's raining).

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Stop

Nuclear or not nucleur?

There is an obsession with this question which will run on and on until human's no longer roam the earth.

But is this the wrong question?

The question should surely be: Do I really need to use so much electricity? If we can somehow reduce the demands of our power-crazed society it will mean that we don't need to give governments such wide-ranging scope to make decisions which will have a detrimental effect on our society as a whole.

The lesson we should learn from this disaster is that we are too dependent on ENERGY. Not whether it is generated by nuclear or non-nuclear means.

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