Fukushima Commentary 17..11/14/14-1/25/15
January 25, 2015
245th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 245th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by Dan Yurman, Dr. Gail Marcus, Dr. Jim Conca, Meredith Angwin, Rod Adams, Steve Alpin and Brian Wang.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… Enrico Fermi received the Nobel Prize in 1942 for his important work on the world’s first man-made nuclear reactor, CP1 (The Chicago Pile).
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links.
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From Dan Yurman’s Neutron Bytes – (2)
Want to be governor of Idaho? Better learn about spent nuclear fuel
French Energy Minister Royal reverses course on Hollande’s plan to close reactors
Dan’s contribution to this week’s ANS Nuclear Café–
Seven At One Blow
Thanks to Will Davis, the full trilogy of postings from Nuclear Café can be found at these three links… http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/01/19/reflections-on-vermont-yankee-1/ ; http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/01/20/reflections-on-vermont-yankee-2/ ; http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/01/21/reflections-on-vermont-yankee-3/
From Dr. Gail Marcus’ Nuke Power Talk –
Google and Renewable Energy: A Retreat?
From Forbes Magazine’s Dr. Jim Conca –
Attention QVC Shoppers, The Moon Is A Planet
From Meredith Angwin’s Yes Vermont Yankee – (2)
Bloggers Analyze Vermont Yankee Closure: Series Starting at American Nuclear Society
American Nuclear Society Blog: Second Part of Analysis on Vermont Yankee Closing
The Vermont Yankee Series Expands. The "Attitude Post" and more
From Rod Adams’ Atomic Insights –
Suppressing Differing Opinions to Promote “No Safe Dose” Mantra
From Steve Alpin’s Canadian Energy Issues -
Some un-frozen thoughts on humanity, progress, and the dangers of pretending we can run an electricity grid with power that can’t prevent water from freezing
From Next Big Future by Brian Wang – (2)
China's biggest reactor operator will put five nuclear reactors into operation this year
EMC2 Chief Scientist presents a path to Electrostatic Nuclear Fusion
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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fiction. Fermi did win the Nobel Prize, but it was not in 1942 and it had nothing to do with the Chicago Pile. Actually, he won the prize in 1938 “for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons". http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1938/
January 9, 2015
Japan NRA Chief makes no sense about nuke restart safety
Japan’s chief nuke watchdog says 2015 will be a crucial year for nuke safety. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka made his first Press statement of the year on January 6th. He said restarting nukes face particularly dangerous risks of accidents. Tanaka gave two reasons for his statement. First, the units have been idled for a long time. Second, they have a lot of new safety equipment never used before. (1)
Both of his reasons make little or no sense.
Yes, the 48 mandated-idled units have not run in a long time, the most recent shutdowns being the two Oi units in September of 2013. Many others have been off for two years or more. Tanaka makes it seem that all idled units have been left alone and the crews have taken a “Well, we’re shut down. Who’s got a deck of cards” attitude. As a veteran of 15 years in construction and commercial operation of an American nuke, I know that Tanaka’s implied concept is simply not the case.
All of the currently-idled nukes were either already in a refueling outage or subsequently went into one when shut down by Naoto Kan’s moratorium. With any refueling outage, considerable activity occurs to insure that a subsequent start-up will occur safety and expeditiously: e.g. systems are tested, planned maintenance is performed as scheduled, and operation’s systems are kept in peak condition. Since this is actually an extended refueling outage with respect to the systems needed for restarts, the passage of time should not make future nuke restarts any different than the routine startups experienced after every refueling period.
With respect to Tanaka’s second reason, the new safety equipment for each Japanese nuke has essentially nothing to do with the operating systems on any of the 48 units. They are not involved with actually restarting the units. The new safety equipment is specific to making sure another prolonged full-station-blackout, a-la Fukushima Daiichi, does not happen again. The emergency systems are there to keep emergency electricity flowing into a plant in the event that another beyond-worst-case natural disaster happens. The equipment has nothing to do with routine startup and operation of the power plant.
Thus, we need to ask; what would possess Tanaka to believe these two things? I can only think of two possibilities. One is that he isn’t knowledgeable in power plant operations. Although he has nuclear engineering credentials and a long history in nuclear academia, his resume’ does not include any power plant operating experience. It seems he has university and research-level reactor experience, but that is a far cry for a large power plant reactor’s operations. I like to say it’s as different as operating a compact car versus a top-fuel dragster. It would be nice to think Tanaka understands operations at nuclear power plants, but his statements indicate otherwise.
The second possibility is that he thinks he’s demonstrating informational transparency. But, does this include making inexperienced suppositions that can only increase fear in a largely naïve public? I think not. In the words of a famous (now deceased) American sportscaster, “Tell it like it is!” That’s transparency in a nutshell. Don’t tell it like it isn’t! Tanaka’s notion of “particularly dangerous risks of accidents” due to nuke startups is anything but a demonstration of transparency.
To the contrary, it’s a demonstration of naivety.
December 24, 2014
The end of the unit #4 fuel transfer isn’t newsworthy outside Japan
For nearly two years prior to Tepco beginning the transfer of fuel bundles from unit #4 at Fukushima Daiichi in December of 2013, the international Press provided coverage of wild speculations on what might go wrong with the effort. Antinuclear organizations regularly chirped about worst-case scenarios, many of which provoked fears of nigh-apocalyptic consequence for all of Japan, if not the world. It was scary, and fear sells. Press coverage of these wild speculation was good for business.
Well, the project is done. None of the supposed problems manifested. But other than the Japanese Press, World Nuclear News, and blogs like this one, there has been nothing about this significant milestone out of the antinuclear persuasion or in the international Press.
I expected the antinuclear groups and their prophets of doom to ignore the end of a year of uneventful fuel movement. They never admit when they have been wrong (which they almost always are), and anything that might appear positive to their rank-and-file followers is avoided like the plague. Back in the mid-1980s, a co-worker sarcastically offered, “The (insert antinuke group name here) treats their followers like mushrooms. They feed them crap and keep them in the dark.”
But, I did not expect abject snubbing by all of the international Press! Are they treating the public of the world like mushrooms, too? Not reporting on the end of the unit #4 fuel transfer is a prime example of how negative or potentially scary topics about Fukushima Daiichi make headlines, but nothing bad actually happening just doesn’t seem to qualify as being “newsworthy”. It’s as important to the news media as John Q. Public walking the dog. Wait…I take that back. Dog walking occasionally gets coverage. Worst-case speculations that do not happen never gets coverage.
Another instance of this prejudicial practice occurred a few months ago, concerning the child thyroid tests being performed in Fukushima Prefecture. The initial finding that more than 40% of the children were found to have nodules or cysts considered significant (greater than 0.5 centimeters in diameter), about 100 being dubbed “pre-cancerous”, and more than fifty having surgery to remove the suspect thyroid anomalies, made headlines around the world. However, Fukushima University subsequently ran the same testing procedures on more than 6,000 children from three prefectures hundreds of kilometers distant. The researchers found that all three distant prefectures had significantly higher rates of the same thyroid anomalies than the Fukushima kids. In other words, Fukushima children probably have the lowest child thyroid anomaly rate in Japan! (see - http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-child-thyroid-issue.html) Was this reported by any of the international Press? Absolutely not. They didn’t even have the human decency to bury it among the back-end human interest stories!
I was in no way surprised that the antinuclear voices did not acknowledge that Fukushima children actually have less thyroid problems than the rest of Japan. They can’t feed that sort of thing to their mushrooms. But, completely ignored by the international Press? It’s nauseating and repulsive.
When will this odious practice end? Not until the antinuclear lemmings realize their paradigms of nuclear energy doom are as empty as inter-galactic space. Not until the TV news viewers and newspaper readers demand that it stop! But, I’m not holding my breath. Significant fractions of the people of the world like the scary stuff, even if it’s twisted disinformation, misinformation and/or outright fabrication. It’s titillating, and titillation sells. So what if it turns out to be entirely wrong? That’s just not newsworthy.
December 16, 2014
Is the Japan election a nuclear restart mandate?
Sunday’s national election for Japan’s Lower House (i.e. House of Representatives) was carried mightily by PM Shinzo Abe’s LDP (Liberal Democratic Party). Some internet sources are calling this a mandate for restarting Japan’s currently-idled nukes, which has been echoed in a few international Press outlets. While a small fraction of Japan’s largely-liberal Press have tried to make the impending nuke restarts an election outcome issue, the bulk of the election’s Japanese Press have focused on other topics and essentially left the restart issue in the lurch. It is this reporter’s opinion that the lower house election changes nothing with respect to nuclear issues inside Japan.
The Lower House election was called by PM Abe because of wide-spread negative Press over several controversial moves made by his administration. Abe’s reforms include the recent passage of Japan’s first national security legislation since WWII, the weakening of the yen in order to stimulate foreign investment, and a sales tax in April that flattened the public’s spending. Another sales tax increase is proposed for next year, bringing an additional wave of criticism with it. Abe called for the “snap election” to seek a “renewed mandate” for continuing his administration’s reforms, hoping to counter news media criticism.
On the surface, the election was a landslide victory for the LDP and its coalition partner party, the Buddhist-backed New Komeito. But, it actually made little difference in the political demographic within the Lower House. The coalition already held a 2/3 majority, allowing it to chair all seventeen standing committees in the House. This virtually assures the continuation of smooth passage of all bills at the committee level before being put to a vote in the chamber. It also allows to Lower House to over-ride decisions made in the upper house (i.e. Senate). It further means Abe will remain as Prime Minister, which is not a surprise to anyone.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that number of representatives from the ruling coalition increased by only one, and stands at 326 of the 475 seats. One the other hand, only about 55% of all eligible voters actually voted, which was the lowest ever. Most news outlets say the election outcome was largely due to voter apathy. In addition, the LDP garnered only 48% of the total votes cast. As a result, the largely liberal Press is taking a “ho-hum” attitude to the election results. Mainichi Shimbun says the LDP victory is a “mandate that lacks any sense of exaltation”, Japan Times called it a “hollow victory”, the Diplomat dubs it an “ambiguous mandate”, and many other outlets say Abe won by default since there were no other viable parties presenting better options. The Asahi Shimbun went so far as to dub the snap election and abrupt move that caught the opposition parties off-guard, and “the political equivalent to Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941.” It thus seems the Japanese Press’ liberal demographic will likely continue its anti-Abe agenda. This indicates that very little has changed with respect to Japan’s socio-political landscape.
The same can be said about the issue of restarting Japan’s nukes. As was the case before Sunday, restarts will only occur after all new guidelines created by the Nuclear Regulation Authority have been met or exceeded and local public approval has been garnered. Progression toward the inevitable resumption of nuke operations will continue to limp along at a snail’s-pace. To be blunt, nothing will change on the nuclear front due to the election. To speculate otherwise seems unwarranted, either from a pronuclear or antinuclear stance.
It cannot be realistically denied that as the qualified nukes come on-line… one or two at a time with each station’s restart separated from the next by several months… Japan’s treacherous trade deficit will be lessened. This will surely bolster Abe’s effort to affect an economic recovery, but it will be a slow process. Despite a few Japanese news sources reporting to the contrary (e.g. Japan Times, Kyodo News), there is no reason to think the timetable for restarts will speed up or the number of nukes allowed to come on line will swell because of a Lower House election that did nothing more than maintain the status quo.
November 19, 2014
Fukushima Wastewater; Some Good News
The Japanese Press routinely reports on sudden increases in wastewater radioactivity at F. Daiichi. However, they fail to report on what is going right. Tepco has posted a small mountain of wastewater and atmospheric radiation data since early in 2012. (1) One person has written and said it’s all “gibberish” because there is so much of it. It takes someone with a radio-chemistry background, and a considerable amount of patience, to sort it all out. From time to time, I try to do just that for everyone.
One wastewater topic I follow concerns the radioactive concentrations in the four turbine building basements at F. Daiichi of most concern (units 1-4). Un-reported by the Press is the fact that the levels of Cs-134, Cs-137, and Beta radiation emitters in the basements is steadily dropping for more than a year. While it is a slow process, it seems that Tepco’s effort to lower these concentrations is working. Here’s a data breakdown (with specific page links)…
A. Units #1 & #2 –
May 22, 2013… … http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/tb_water_130531-e.pdf (Beta activity was not posted until November of 2013) -
unit #1 - Cs-134 at 1,700 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 3,700 Bq/ml
unit #2 - Cs-134 at 17,000 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 36,000 Bq/ml
January 15, 2014… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb_water_140124-e.pdf (this is the most recent posting by Tepco I can find) -
unit #1 - Cs-134 at 1,000 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 2,700 Bq/ml, and Beta at 3,900 Bq/ml
unit #2 – Cs-134 at 6,800 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 17,000 Bq/ml, and Beta at 69,000 Bq/ml
B. Units 3 & 4 –
Unit #3 - Cs-134 at 7,500 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 19,000 Bq/ml, and Beta activity at 58,000 Bq/ml
Unit #4 – Cs-134 at 1,900 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 4,500 Bq/ml, and Beta at 9,200 Bq/ml
Unit #3 – Cs-134 at 6,100 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 20,000 Bq/ml, and Beta at 40,000 Bq/ml
Unit #4 – Cs-134 at 120 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 360 Bq/ml, and Beta at 590 Bq/ml
For the 8 month period depicted for units 1&2; the unit #1 levels have dropped over 40% for Cs-134 and 27% for Cs-137. For unit #2, Cs-134 dropped 54% and Cs-137 by 53%. For the 8 month period relative to units 3&4; unit #3’s Cs-134 diminished by about 25% and Beta activity by 45% The numbers with unit #4 are literally eye-popping; Cs-134 activity dropped nearly 94%, Cs-137 by 92%, and Beta activity by more than 94%! Of course, unit #4 did not have a meltdown and does not need to cool the damaged fuel (or corium) we have in the other three units. Regardless, all decreases are much greater than can be attributed to radioactive decay. Tepco should be commended for their wastewater decontamination effort.
Does this equate to a significant success story? Without a doubt! Does the Japanese Press consider it newsworthy? I guess not.
1- the Tepco radiological data and archives are entitled Handouts at Press Conference can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/index-e.html
November 16, 2014
235th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 235th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by John Dobken, Meredith Angwin, Dan Yurman, Rod Adams, Will Davis, Brian Wang, Robert Hayes, and Leslie Corrice.
From Northwest Clean Energy (2) by John Dobken -
State Senator Sharon Brown Endorses SMRs for a Clean Energy Future
Columbia Generating Station sets personal best for longest generation run
From Yes Vermont Yankee by Meredith Angwin –
Energy and the Vermont Election
From Neutron Bytes by Dan Yurman (2) –
On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi
How one of Japan’s leading newspapers came to grief getting the story wrong
(same Link as above – scroll down)
From ANS Nuclear Café (2) –
Root Cause of Vogtle and VC Summer Delays
Thorium Shines Brightly at ANS Winter Meeting
From Next Big Future by Brian Wang (3) –
Big Climate Deal Between US and China Would Require China to Build 1000 Gigawatts of Nuclear or other zero emission energy by 2030
Supercritical Water-Cooled Reactor
Supercritical-Water-Cooled Reactor (SCWR) are high temperature, high-pressure, light-water-cooled reactors that operate above the thermodynamic critical point of water (374°C, 22.1 MPa). http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11
November 14, 2014
Podcast on radiological protection makes perfect sense
On October 14th, the World Nuclear Association posted a podcast concerning the issue of radiological protection. (1) Or rather… a collaborative statement on what has happened in the recent past that sent the wrong message to the public – specifically, the unfortunate message sent to the Japanese people due to their government’s mandated evacuation following the Fukushima accident. WNA assembled four of the world’s most prestigious experts on the subject and literally turned them loose on each other. But remarkably, they were clearly all on the same page and sent out a powerful message – reactive philosophy relative to radiation issues is a disaster, and those who really know what the truth need to become pro-active.
The link is at the end of this commentary, but I feel it is important to summarize what I believe are the most critical of the ideas presented in the podcast. Why? Because most people don’t think they have time for a 46 minute devotion of their life for this. I strongly urge that everyone…EVERYONE…reading this MAKE the time. This is incredible stuff. Hey, I had an epiphany or two along the way. Give yourself the opportunity to do the same.
We have met the enemy, and it is us. With official groups reacting to radiological incidents/accidents by saying “we’ll make it safer”, the public rationally believes the subject of the problem must necessarily be unsafe. This is not only the fault of government regulatory bodies, but also the fault of the so-called “industry” involved. We should be asking - are we really making things safer, or are we merely making it seem that way? IF something is already inordinately safe, it makes no sense to say that it can be made safer! Thus, being reactive and cowering in a state of mea culpa is NOT the way to go.
There WILL always be radiological incidents made to seem significant by the press and vote-hungry politicians. They WILL receive Press coverage. Instead of waiting for the foreseeable to happen and reacting to it, become pro-active and educate the public on the realities of radioactive exposures before the inevitable manifests. (aside – antinuclear groups around the world are always in preparation for the next “big one”, and they are immediately ready to preach their fear-mongering gospel as soon as “it” happens. Radiological experts should learn from this and follow the similar preparatory path.)
A severe lack of professional radiation-expert voices in Japan after 3/11/11 resulted in socio-political disaster. Scientists are generally rather timid souls who do not seek the limelight of Press coverage. As a result, the prophets of doom get their gutter-tripe broadcast, and it seems that there is no other opinion existent. What is needed is a professional source (or sources) available to the Press 24/7, always on the ready to get the news media correctly informed as soon as any radiological incident occurs.
The best-possible resolution to this situation is education of the public. How can the education of the public on the real properties and biological effects of radiation happen? Governments won’t do it because making the public feel “safer” wins votes. The “industries” won’t do it because spending money on education never yields a positive return on investment. It’s up to people like me, Dr. Jerry Cuttler (2), Rod Adams (3), and the membership of SARI (4) (Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information) to do it! And we are trying. Tell your friends about us. Tell your local news outlets about us. We are all available.
It is long-past time for the world to find out the truth about the most common phenomena in the universe – radiation!
Now… listen to the podcast (1) and become informed…
November 8, 2014
Cancel the apocalypse – all used fuel is out of F. Daiichi unit #4
On November 5th, Tepco announced that all used (spent) fuel bundles had been safely removed from the Fukushima Daiichi unit #4 spent fuel pool. All are now safely nestled in their racks inside the ground-level common facility. Several Japanese Press outlets, including a handful of the more antinuclear newspapers, have covered the milestone. On the other hand, I have been diligently searching the western Press and have seen nothing, although the report has been released through World Nuclear news service. It seems speculations of radiological disaster are more newsworthy than what actually happens. None of the widely-reported prophecies of apocalyptic cataclysm made a year ago came close to fruition. Despite these claims of catastrophe, 1331 used bundles were transferred without incident.
It’s time to review the numerous unrequited prognostications of doom, many of which were guaranteed to be inevitable. What follows are the most extreme of last year’s false Fukushima prophecies.
1 – Arnie Gundersen… On November 15, 2013, Gundersen released his video “Remove TEPCO Before Removing Fuel” in which he virtually guaranteed that disaster would happen unless Tepco was removed from the entire recovery process. Gundersen asserted that the used fuel bundles in the pool were brittle and the racks holding them deformed to the point that many could not be removed without breaking. He said, “I assure you there are not many surfaces that are vertical and horizontal anymore,” and that there must be rack deformities due to the debris that fell on them from the explosion of 3/15/11. He also said, “And we know that after the accident they [the fuel pools] boiled violently,” warping the plates. (emphasis added) Finally, he said small pieces of rubble must have worked their way between the fuel bundles and the rack side-walls, thus the removal would create so much friction that the bundles would “likely snap” and release enough radiation to force the staff to abandon the operation.
Although none of his guaranteed problems occurred, one prophecy stands head and shoulders above the rest… saying that the unit #4 spent fuel pool boiled violently. That never happened. While much of Arnie’s unit #4 fuel transfer sooth-saying held a tiny kernel of truth, the boiling fuel pool statement was a complete fabrication.
2 – Harvey Wasserman… On September 20th, 2013, Wasserman posted on his Global Research website concerning the impending movement of unit #4’s used fuel, saying, “We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” He asserted that the building holding the bundles was “…tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.” However, there were numerous earthquakes and post-3/11/11 aftershocks during the year of the fuel removal, and the building didn’t move one bit. Wasserman also said it was all right to be afraid because the pool’s bundles contained 15,000 Hiroshima bombs-worth of fallout. Using this gross exaggeration as proof, he asserted, “Spent fuel rods are the most lethal items our species has ever created.” He also evoked Gundersen’s confabulated prophecies (above) as further “proof” of his doomsday claim. Wasserman also cited Australian antinuclear fanatic Helen Caldicott, who said, “The cooling water would dissipate, the fuel rods would spontaneously ignite releasing 10 times more cesium than that released at Chernobyl contaminating much of the Northern Hemisphere and more than 50 million Japanese people would need evacuating.” Evoking the openly nuclear-bigoted Caldicott was a desperate move. Regardless, I predicted that neither Wasserman nor Caldicott would say anything after the fuel bundles were smoothly transferred, and it seems I hit the nail on the head.
3 - Christina Consolo… Consolo is a self-proclaimed nuclear expert with no nuclear credentials. She is a former research supervisor with NIH “credentialing”, a former Member-at-Large for the Board of Directors of the Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society, and a peer reviewer for the Journal of Ophthalmic Photography. She has an internet show called “Nuked Radio”. Because of her utter lack of relevant “credentialing”, I am loathe to mention her. But, Russia’s major news outlet, RT, posted a lengthy Q&A session with her on August 17, 2013. In it, she says, “What could potentially happen is the contents of the pool could burn and/or explode, and the entire structure sustain further damage or collapse. This chain reaction process could be self-sustaining and go on for a long time. This is the apocalyptic scenario in a nutshell.” How fuel bundles that have been decaying for several years, producing so little heat they might not even boil the water in their storage pool, could burn or explode is not explained. It shows she hasn’t a clue concerning radioactive decay and the perpetually-falling nature of heat generated by used fuel bundles. Further, she is unaware that possibility of a chain reaction was nearly zero, even with the worst-case structural collapse. Even if it did happen, the amount of additional heat produced would not be detectible. Lastly, her confabulated and confused notion of a self-sustaining chain reaction and a possible explosion, literally in the same breath, clearly appealed to Hiroshima Syndrome sufferers around the world who hold the false fear of reactor fuel exploding like a nuclear weapon.
4 – Kevin Kamps – In another RT report, we have Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, an obsessive antinuclear group originally founded by Helen Caldicott. Kamps says, “…they have to get them [the fuel bundles] out before a bigger earthquake takes the building down, the cooling water would drain away, and the waste with them will catch on fire. There is no radiological containment around the pool and if this waste would catch fire it could be 10 times worse than Chernobyl.” Exaggerations compounded by speculation without reputable evidence, designed to keep the Beyond Nuclear membership full of apocalyptic angst.
5 – Lastly, we come to an anonymous “foreign nuclear expert” cited by Britain’s The Telegraph on November 6, 2013. "Did you ever play pick up sticks? You had 50 sticks, you heaved them into the air and then had to take one off the pile at a time. If the pile collapsed when you were picking up a stick, you lost. There are 1,534 pick-up sticks in a jumble in top of an unsteady reactor 4. What do you think can happen?” The utter vacuity of his analogy defies adequate refutation. He obviously had no idea what he was talking about. All fuel bundles were in their racks and not jumbled in a pile. Undaunted, he went on, “At the very least, if there was a catastrophic collapse, I assume there will be a major airborne release of radiation. Because of the radiation at the site, the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years." Huh? He had suddenly shifted from unit #4 pool to the ground-level common facility in an attempt to make the situation sound too dire to face! Regardless, this was probably the most overt prophecy of apocalypse of the bunch.
Have any of the above said they were wrong? Absolutely not! The ministers of antinuclear propaganda never admit their mistakes. I speculated that at least one would say, “Whew! That was a close one”? But, even that sort of comment is lacking. They are predators of the nuclear naïve, the radiophobic, and those mortally afraid of all things nuclear. They are little more than common street-corner prophets spouting “The End is Near!” Perpetrators of propaganda never admit to being wrong.
November 1, 2014
Tsunami refugees continue to be treated differently than Fukushima evacuees
Fukushima evacuees are given considerable sympathetic coverage by the Press while tsunami refugees are essentially ignored. The tsunami of 3/11/11 made more than 250,000 Japanese instantly itinerant with no hope of ever returning to their homes…because their domiciles were either swept away or utterly destroyed. In the 3.5 years since that horrible day, precious little has been done to assuage their suffering. A few Japanese Press outlets cover the issue in their March quake/tsunami anniversary articles, but I have seen nothing of any substance about this in the western news media…until now. (1)
Tokyo has provided more than $50 billion in recovery and reconstruction funds to the Tohoku region, but more than $30 billion languishes in local banks. Why? Because of political indifference at the local level to skyrocketing construction costs, greedy landowners trying to get rich, and the siphoning-off of local workers to build facilities for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Of the 29,000 housing units planned by the government in 2011, only 2,700 have been completed. The average cost of building a Tohoku home before the black wall of water hit was $158,000, but it has ballooned to more than $217,000. "We are struggling to keep up with the rise in costs," Michio Oka, a section chief in Ishinomaki's reconstruction office, told Reuters. "Because of the sharp rise in material and labor costs we have failed to attract contractors."
The money to effect recovery exists, but it lays dormant in local lending institutions. One bank, 77 Bank in Sendai, has been flooded with about $17 billion from Tokyo since 2011. But, because the money has not been used, the institution has invested the funds in short-term government bonds. The investments are now worth ~$20 billion. All of the Tohoku banks in this situation are doing the same thing. By buying government bonds, the banks' investments are essentially helping to fund the borrowing that the government undertook to make the allocations in the first place. The Tokyo has issued $130 billion worth of reconstruction bonds over the last three years, but most of it is untouched and collecting interest. Bank officials say the money will not be withdrawn soon because building projects face on-going delays. Ryutaro Katsube, a spokesman for the Bank of Iwate, said, "It's almost certain reconstruction efforts will not be completed within the national government's five-year period. Municipalities are already asking for extensions." Meanwhile, Makoto Kitamura, the deputy director general of the Reconstruction Agency which hands out nearly $1 billion per month for Fukushima evacuee compensation, says reconstruction "is a time-consuming process” and is a “result of going through the necessary process.”
Tell that to the people who suffer! Mitsue Sasaki has been living in a flimsy, prefabricated “temporary” home for three years, and says, "We feel abandoned and forgotten. They think they can keep us here forever.” Mitsuko Muramatsu 67, an ex-tax office official, said, "I was allocated a flat, but so what? Right now it's a cloud, it's an empty space." Ishinomaki Mayor Kameyama says, "I'm worried that many people are becoming weak and depressed. If they don't stay healthy and lose the will to move to a new place, it will be a huge problem."
If the Tohoku refugee situation was the case with Fukushima evacuees, the Press would be screaming bloody murder and media-hungry politicians would be calling for investigations. More than $43 billion has been dispersed to the 75,000 Fukushima evacuees, and tens of thousands of temporary dwellings have been built for them at government expense while they allegedly await permission to return home…if they want to go home. Surveys show that more than half do not plan on going home because they are afraid, but continue to reap the financial benefits of their politically-imposed estrangement. Tens of thousands of others live in rental apartments, also paid for by the Government and Tepco. Tokyo recently approved the continuation of these pay-outs for up to another ten years. Meanwhile, the 90,000 tsunami refugees who have not given up and moved away, all want to go home. Plus their measly $400 per month per person is set to expire in March of 2015.
The overt duality of the situation cannot be stated strongly enough. Those politically ordered to leave their perfectly in-tact homes based on purely hypothetical health risks are given far more support and assistance than those who actually lost everything – forever – to a massive tsunami. It is a socio-political obscenity. Until the world’s other governments and Press place the plight of the tsunami victims under the same microscope as with Fukushima evacuees, this moral and ethical outrage will continue to fester.
October 26, 2014
232th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 232nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by Robert Hayes, Dr. Jim Conca, Dr. Gail Marcus, Brian Wang, and Rod Adams.
From NewsOK contributor Robert Hayes –
Nuclear fallout and modern life
From Forbes magazine’s Dr. Jim Conca –
So You Think We’re Reducing the Use of Coal? – Think Again
From Nuke Power Talk –
The Grid and Solar Power: Getting the Incentives Right
From Next Big Future (3) –
China Cuts 2020 Target for Offshore Wind Power by 20%
Turkey will build a third nuclear reactor and Japan continues to slow process to approve restarts
Lockheed has built its first Compact Fusion Test Machine and fired 200 test shots
From Atomic Insights –
Tour of NuScale control room and test facility
October 15, 2014
Volcanoes and nukes – Japan’s latest Press-driven phobia
On September 27, volcano Mount Ontake suddenly erupted with deadly consequence. As of this writing, roughly 60 people, mostly mountain-climbing sight-seers, have been found dead. The eruption was “phreatic” (1) – caused by water deep beneath the surface of the mountain flashing to steam. It was literally a massive naturally-occurring steam explosion. The risks of such an eruption are flying rocks, the massive flow of choking ash and steam, and the concussive force of the blast itself. There is no lava streaming with a phreatic eruption.
As luck would have it, a large antinuclear demonstration was planned for the next day, protesting the impending restarts of the two nuclear units at Sendai Station. More than half of the speakers included the Ontake eruption in their entreaties against the restarts. I blasted these inconsiderate nuclear-paranoiacs in my Commentary of 9/30, Earthquake fears supplanted by volcano fears with Japanese nukes. (2) Soon there-after, Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanakasaid it is unscientific to compare Ontake to the kind of eruptions possible for any of the volcanos within 160 km of Sendai. This seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Tanaka makes a very good point. The types of eruptions possible for Sendai’s region would probably produce lava flows and “lava bombs”, in addition to the releases found with phreatic eruptions. The worst of the many lava-producing types is called “Plinian”. The Lava bombs could conceivably land as far as a few kilometers away, in a worst-case scenario. Lava flows don’t go very far either, and are not a realistic threat to Sendai. However, a few maverick Japanese volcanologists have said lava flows could stretch 100 kilometers, but actual streams from erupting volcanoes in Hawaii and other locations show this has never been the case. The real threat to Sendai Station is ash falling from the sky, if the winds happen to be blowing in that direction at the time of the eruption. If a projected ash build-up could reach a few tens of centimeters in depth, the station will be shut down, all nuclear fuel removed and shipped far away. Regardless, evoking Mount Ontake relative to Sendai makes no sense.
But, that doesn’t stop the Press from making volcanoes a new nuclear-critical issue. On Sunday, Tokyo’s widely-read Diplomat magazine took up the volcano issue in earnest. (3) The magazine says the eruption of a volcano near Sendai might be many times worse than what has been scientifically considered. Why? Because the 3/11/11 Tohoku quake and tsunami was worse than anyone predicted for the region. The Diplomat says, “Several media and scientific outlets have challenged the reactivation of Japan’s nuclear industry in light of Ontake’s eruption, which Japan’s scientific community failed to predict.” Kyushu Electric Company says they will remove all nuke fuel from Sendai if scientists say a large eruption is possibly imminent, but the Diplomat says “very little oversight” has been built into the planning. Further, “There is so far no mention of how the utility might be forced to reconcile itself with independent research, nor mention of the government’s ability to shut down the facility if it is deemed at risk.”
What the report fails to mention is that the type of eruptions possible from volcanoes in the region pose little or no risk of a Fukushima-type accident at Sendai. In addition, the NRA has fully considered the data submitted by Kyushu Electric, and found it to meet the agency’s regulations.
Mount Ontake is about 125 kilometers from the nearest nuke (Hamaoka Station), and more than 150 km from the next-nearest (Tsuruga Station). It is about 1,000 km from the Sendai Station. The Ontake eruption is in no way, shape, or form a threat to any nukes. Its type of eruption is not a realistic threat to any of Japan’s nukes. The possibility of any of Japan’s stations having a Fukushima-type accident due to any type of volcanic eruption is essentially nil. But, Japan’s Press ignores all of this, evoking the main rhetorical tools of the international antinuclear prophets of doom – uncertainty and doubt. The Diplomat asserts that “The remaining issue is the level of unpredictability still inherent in monitoring volcanic activity” and “Determining what Kyushu Electric deems an acceptably low level of risk consequently remains unclear as well.” The statements drip with appeals to uncertainty and doubt.
Since Three Mile Island in 1979, the world’s Press has bent over backwards to keep nuclear energy-based angst alive in the public mind. After 3/11/11, it was fear of earthquakes. If anything, the temblor of 3/11/11 demonstrated that massive quakes are not a realistic threat to nuke safety. Now, its fear of volcanoes, built entirely on uncertainty and doubt. Let realism and logic be damned. It’s good for business.
1 – Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis; National Science Teachers Association. http://enviroliteracy.org/nsfmod/NaturesFury.pdf
2 – Earthquake fears supplanted by volcano fears with Japanese nukes. http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html
3 - Predicting Volcanoes a Risky Game for Japan’s Reactors; The Diplomat; 10/10/14. http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/predicting-volcanoes-a-risky-game-for-japans-reactors/