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Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

  I have the distinction of living 12 miles from the Davis Besse power plant which had the closest incident to 3 mile island.  All the safeguards worked as they were supposed to.  The Japanese plants more or less held together in an incident 7 or 8 times more destructive than designed for.  Sun and wind power is a farce.  A reliable power generator is still needed when no sun or wind is available, adding to the costs.  People seem to be scared of their own shadow these days.  Nothing is without risk.  As Sarah Palin says "man up"

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Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Jim, I would never judge these people in their suffering, which is both deepening by the day, and far from over. 

I did find myself wondering what happened to the emergency generators.  If fuel tanks indeed sat empty, someone needs to fall on his sword. 

Engineering for a 500-year natural disaster is hardly ever done.  We had one here in 1999 in Hurricane Floyd, and I truly feel for anyone encountering that sort of challenge.   It scares you half silly, without the unfolding terror of radiation run amok. 

For anyone to suggest that you can site a nuclear facility by the sea and not expect a tsunami, in a nation that sits smack astride the Ring of Fire, is beyond irresponsible.   

I missed all the news reports, appointments, etc.  Just asked Mike how it is going, and he says worse by the minute, really.  Harks back to the gulf oil spill, and all the brains in the world stumped as to how to stop that destruction. 

This is what worries me more as time goes on. We are stretching systems and people so far past a reasonable point, when it all blows up in our collective face (it's not a matter of "if" anymore, is it...when we can all see these things coming) no one on Earth knows for sure how to solve the problem of the unintended consequence of carelessness. 

When does carelessness become recklessness? 

Here we sit and try to double- and triple-safeguard a farm full of someone else's pigs.  For their welfare, we have provided better than is prepared for probably 99% of the people on the planet. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

@JIM Meade / Iowa City wrote:

One thing that bothers me about Japan is that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The Kobe earthquake was a disaster of poor preparedness and then poor execution.  There is no doubt that the Japanese are very strongly acting this time, including the unprecedented announcement by the emporer.  But, I've heard rumors that some of the diesel generators did not have fuel.

Other news I've heard (uncorroberated) is that the earthquake did not major damage ot the reactors, it was the tsunami that destroyed the cooling system.  But, more info to come.  We'll be learning for years.  I hope.

Rumours are plenty. Straight forward honest news is hard to come by as I think most who know all the details are too busy to answer many questions.

I have not been available to follow all the reports but from our radio I understand the diesel generators were knocked out by the tsunami. They were protected by a sea wall but the wave was higher than the wall was engineered for.

I also recieved an email which is quoted as being from MIT.

The article is quite long an goes through a complete description of how the Fukushima reactor works, describing it as a "boiling water reactor" then provides the following description of what happened

What happened at Fukushima (as of March 12, 2011)

The following is a summary of the main facts. The earthquake that hit
Japan was several times more powerful than the worst earthquake the
nuclear power plant was built for (the Richter scale works
logarithmically; for example the difference between an 8.2 and the 8.9
that happened is 5 times, not 0.7).

When the earthquake hit, the nuclear reactors all automatically
shutdown. Within seconds after the earthquake started, the control
rods had been inserted into the core and the nuclear chain reaction
stopped. At this point, the cooling system has to carry away the
residual heat, about 7% of the full power heat load under normal
operating conditions.

The earthquake destroyed the external power supply of the nuclear
reactor. This is a challenging accident for a nuclear power plant, and
is referred to as a “loss of offsite power.” The reactor and its
backup systems are designed to handle this type of accident by
including backup power systems to keep the coolant pumps working.
Furthermore, since the power plant had been shut down, it cannot
produce any electricity by itself.

For the first hour, the first set of multiple emergency diesel power
generators started and provided the electricity that was needed.
However, when the tsunami arrived (a very rare and larger than
anticipated tsunami) it flooded the diesel generators, causing them to

One of the fundamental tenets of nuclear power plant design is
“Defense in Depth.” This approach leads engineers to design a plant
that can withstand severe catastrophes, even when several systems
fail. A large tsunami that disables all the diesel generators at once
is such a scenario, but the tsunami of March 11th was beyond all
expectations. To mitigate such an event, engineers designed an extra
line of defense by putting everything into the containment structure
(see above), that is designed to contain everything inside the

When the diesel generators failed after the tsunami, the reactor
operators switched to emergency battery power. The batteries were
designed as one of the backup systems to provide power for cooling the
core for 8 hours. And they did.

After 8 hours, the batteries ran out, and the residual heat could not
be carried away any more.  At this point the plant operators begin to
follow emergency procedures that are in place for a “loss of cooling
event.” These are procedural steps following the “Depth in Defense”
approach. All of this, however shocking it seems to us, is part of the
day-to-day training you go through as an operator.

It goes on with more about the emergency procedures.

I found it quite interesting but can not find a link on any MIT site to prove it is authentic. Could post more if anyone is really interested.


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Senior Contributor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Gasland is a total fraud.  Not a spec of triuth in it.  Want links ? Fox' family burned a trailiar on their proterty, illigally but he is worried about fracing?

The Barnett shale  has 10,000 fraced wells without incident.

PA marcellus is producing 2 BCF of natty gas/ day! In just two yrs.

Thousands of wells going in.

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After I posted below...

...I went to my news homepage, and found out that the US has advised its citizens to evacuate a fifty-mile radius of the problem plant.  Some nations have gone so far as to inform their citizens to evacuate Tokyo, several times over that distance. 

It's not getting any better....

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Senior Contributor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

No ground water is harmed.


That is our age.


makestuff up, others need to believe.

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"Dilution is the solution."

Cannot remember which of the numerous enviro-nerds I hang out with in my volunteer work taught me this maxim.  I have certainly quoted it many times over the years. 

It is, indeed, the only effective means we have to deal with most of the toxic boo-boos born out of human hubris.   Water it down enough, so we cannot detect harmful levels anymore.   

Our own President is reassuring West Coast citizens that radiation from Fukushima will dissipate to harmless levels before air currents cross the Pacific.  I sure hope he is right, or there is going to be a backlash generated by a directional shift in public opinion when that mess hits the fan at, say, Malibu. 

It will make that tsunami look like a ripple.  Americans are kind, but get testy when you send your troubles home to roost in our coop. 

Reminds me that I once read that we are running out of "out," as in "throw it out." Almost everywhere is home to, "out" ends up being "in" someone's home territory.  It will be a test of our good graces if any real impact starts to register here. 

I truly hate to see the nuclear option taken off the table, too.  It's worked successully in our region of the country.  If risky sites were taken out of consideration, I'd still be in favor of future development. 

Agree that solar (which is the basis of wind, thus wave as well) is not the sole answer; nor is staying dependent upon dwindling fossil fuel reserves.   We need at least a bridge technology to "get us there from here."  I thought nuclear had a good chance to fill that role, until about two days ago. 

Now, warranted or not, it will be harder to site a plant than ever in the history of the world.  Chernobyl was a Russian nightmare, but we never really thought the Russkys had their act together to start with....  TMI was a case mostly of disaster averted, so not a true cautionary tale.  

If there was anyone I thought would have had their act together, it was Japan.   If this can happen there, with their recognized penchant for caution, what could transpire in places where people have a sort of daredeveil attitude and run reactors, too? 

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Esteemed Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

I haven't heard anyone 's idea of the nuke waste disposal---lets solve this like put ti in lunar orbit or on the moon ?

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Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

  I had always heard there was a site in Nevada but Harry Reid must be using his political power to keep it from happening.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative? nuclear or poverty

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