Japan Nuke Page 2

As the prior posting had run out to over 330 comments and was getting a bit “long to load”, I’m starting this as a follow-up thread. Folks wanting to revisit the older comments can hit this link:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/japan-nuke-plant-explosion/

If you would like to “catch up” on the quake maps, they are here:
Quake posting along with some historical pictures of the quake maps as it happened.

The diagram of the GE Mark I reactor as in Japan:

BWR Mark I Containment cutaway

BWR Mark I Containment cutaway

Original Full Sized Image

A short “catch up” summary of the present status, as I understand it:

They have found the 2 missing workers, killed in the original earthquake by the looks of it. Radiation most likely not involved, just the usual “stuff in the basement flying around” that a 9.0 quake would give.

The present “scare story” in the news is the “9 inch crack” in a concrete holding tank / sump and “radiation / radioactive water leaking into the ocean”. Somehow the MSM have forgotten that during the 1940s to 1960s we blew up dozens of nuclear bombs in the sea and air, spreading loads and loads of radioactivity all over the place. (Most of the radioactives in a nuclear bomb are not consumed in the detonation, and loads of the surroundings are “activated” in the process). The same folks who are presently having a cow over the trivial levels of “stuff” in the air and sea were often alive when tons more of it were being made via nuclear testing. They certainly have lived and eaten food growing in the “legacy” of those times. So you will hear a lot about barges and storing water and “radioactive water” and “radiation in the ocean”. By and large it is meaningless. The total radioactive material being dumped is near nothing and the size of the ocean is gigantic.

A real problems are that so many people have been displaced from the coast; and the food for a long ways around is subject to either of:

1) Some real contamination, so needs testing and / or validation.
2) A whole lot of scary stories.

Of the two, the scary stories are likely the worst.

At any rate, food and electricity shortages will likely do more damage and injure / kill more folks than the nuclear plants and any radiation they may leak.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Radiation-discovery-fans-food-apf-2716949632.html?x=0&.v=7

Radiation discovery fans food fears in Japan
Discovery of radiation in spinach, milk fan fears about safety of Japan’s food supply

Kelly Olsen and Joe Mcdonald, Associated Press, On Sunday March 20, 2011, 6:26 pm EDT

TOKYO (AP) — At a bustling Tokyo supermarket Sunday, wary shoppers avoided one particular bin of spinach.

The produce came from Ibaraki prefecture in the northeast, where radiation was found in spinach grown up to 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Another bin of spinach — labeled as being from Chiba prefecture, west of Tokyo — was sold out.

“It’s a little hard to say this, but I won’t buy vegetables from Fukushima and that area,” said shopper Yukihiro Sato, 75.

From corner stores to Tokyo’s vast Tsukiji fish market, Japanese shoppers picked groceries with care Sunday after the discovery of contamination in spinach and milk fanned fears about the safety of this crowded country’s food supply
[...]
On Sunday, the government banned shipments of milk from one area and spinach from another and said it found contamination on two more vegetables — canola and chrysanthemum greens — and in three more prefectures. The Health Ministry also advised a village in Fukushima prefecture not to drink tap water because of radioactive iodine in its supply. It stressed, however, that the amounts remained minuscule and posed no health threat.

There were no signs Sunday of the panic buying that stripped Tokyo supermarkets of food last week. Instead, shoppers scrutinized the source of items and tried to avoid what they worried might be tainted.

Notice that earlier “panic buying”? That is part of why it is good to have a ‘disaster preparedness kit’ with some stored food in it. You never know when The Bad Thing will happen and you don’t want to be getting in line to buy food when it’s just not there…

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/crisis-kits-and-preparedness-packs/

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/food-storage-systems/

Meanwhile, back at the reactors

One of the reactors was “open for refueling” so the containment was not sealed. As near as I can tell, it had no fuel in it at the time of the quake. Exactly what fuel was where is not clear to me. Any “spent fuel” that had been removed would still be very hot and that spent fuel pool would need extra water (IFF that reactor had been fueled and running prior to the event and was not a new startup). Pointers to clarification on that point would be welcome…

In a comment in the prior thread George said:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/japan-nuke-plant-explosion/#comment-15744

Some lights in the turbine buildings of units 1, 2, and 3 were restored yesterday.

Also, not that the employees were lost in unit 4 turbine building. Unit 4 reactor was not running when the quake hit and all fuel had been unloaded a month before.

So it looks like Unit 4 has an empty reactor, but probably a hot spent fuel pool. (As they are dumping a load of water on it…) But at least they are getting the lights and power back to some degree.

There are giant “mud / concrete” pumping trucks that can operated remotely intended for providing safer application of water to the spent fuel pools, and able to entomb things in concrete if needed. IMHO, it would be better NOT to entomb, as then you have a large lump you can not move, reprocess, nor in any way effectively deal with without taking jack hammers to it. Not a desired outcome… it’s just punting the problem to the future.

Electricity has been restored to some collection of the reactors (and some portions of the facilities at each reactor) but that’s just a start. Each one needs to get instrumentation repaired and pumps running, and that means pipes and fittings inspected and / or repaired.

A US team was “en route” but the Japanese had not requested them… That, IMHO, is a “big deal” as it means someone on our side is unsatisfied with the TEPCO response to date.

The government of Japan is not happy with TEPCO either, and the local people are, in some cases, quite livid about it. Death threats to the management of TEPCO have been posted on web sites in Japan.

And some folks have realized that trying to live without both nuclear power and carbon based power might just not work so well:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/04/04/us-japan-co-idUKTRE73233A20110404

By Chikako Mogi and Risa Maeda

TOKYO | Mon Apr 4, 2011 1:42pm BST

(Reuters) – Japan’s protracted nuclear safety crisis has begun to cast doubts over its pledge of ambitious carbon emissions cuts by the end of the decade, which will rely heavily on plans to boost nuclear power generation.

While Tokyo has not said explicitly that it would consider backing away from its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels, the scrapping of at least four reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant and public wariness of new reactor projects could force a greater reliance on fossil fuels than policymakers had anticipated.
[...]
“It is true that our reduction target will be affected significantly,” Vice Environment Minister Hideki Minamikawa was quoted by the Yomiuri newspaper as telling reporters in Bangkok on Sunday.

“The target year and the size of the reduction will be up for review.”

Senior officials from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan were more circumspect, although they did not rule out a rethink of existing nuclear policy and the 2020 emissions target.

Ya think? It was nearly impossible a goal WITH nuclear power. Without it, there is just no way. So what was the size of the plan? And what happens if it goes of the rails?

The environment ministry’s scenarios for achieving 25 percent carbon reduction are all based on a government plan to add nine new commercial nuclear reactors by 2020 to the 54 currently in operation.

So you had a net 9 add to 54. That’s about a 16% growth. But now there are ’4 gone’ and another 2 at that site that are in questionable status. That makes it more like 13 out of 50 just for ‘return to plan’. In 9 years. That’s a 25% build rate. I don’t know how many they were building in the past, but a 25% jump in any industry can be hard to swallow (I know, I’ve done it). Having it in the middle of a great natural disaster and with a complete regulatory review? It just isn’t going to happen. Not on schedule by years.

As of now:

More than three weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan knocked out power sources and cooling systems at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, engineers are still struggling to cool down reactors and spent fuel pools and to contain radiation leaks.

Quake and tsunami damage and high radiation levels have forced a shutdown of the entire Fukushima complex, whose two plants and 10 reactors account for one-fifth of Japan’s total nuclear capacity, while spurring the government to impose extra safety measures against a similar disaster.

So 20% of Japanese nuclear capacity is functionally “toast”, and the natives are not happy… The government is imposing more “safety measures”… ( a good thing, IMHO, like maybe not putting backup generator fuel tanks on the seaward side of a tsunami area…).

Several of Japan’s 10 nuclear power producers have delayed the restart of reactors taken down for maintenance, to implement additional short-term steps to bolster safety.

Some have also tentatively halted preparations for building new reactors but no plans have been formally altered, while senior government officials have talked of an energy policy review that could include promoting renewables.

OK, so more than 20% is shut-in, but might restart someday… after a large group of folks decide what to build to make them “safer”… and after the learn just how many windmills it takes to replace a nuke…

There are also some lessons that Great Britain could learn about shutting down old power plants. Don’t be in a big hurry to tear them down:

Complicating the issue is the prospect of power shortages in the summer, when traditionally heavy demand for air-conditioning could force rolling blackouts in the Tokyo area and deliver a severe blow to Japan’s economic heartland.

“People have now realized the importance of stable energy supplies,” Sawa said. “The government should start with the supply and demand outlook for energy and assess how that would affect its low-carbon policy. The government cannot review climate policy in isolation.”

Tokyo Electric estimates it will be able to supply 46,500 megawatts of power by summer, after bringing some damaged and mothballed thermal power plants back online, but this would still be nearly 10,000 MW short of estimated peak demand, despite extensive conservation efforts since the quake.

Just substitute “freezing in a cold winter” for “smelly and hot at work and home” … That 10,000 MW is going to hurt. I don’t care how many curly bulbs you put in, or how many windmills you order. It’s going to be “cold soba noodles” for lunch and extra deodorant … One TV news report was that Japan was planning for ‘rotating shifts’ with different companies getting power different times of the day as a power leveling method. So you might find your bank running from midnight to 8 AM or your grocery store open from 4 AM to noon… (as a hypothetical for illustration purposes only…)

Somehow the Japanese people don’t impress me as being dumb, and I think they will figure out pretty darned quick that if it is a question of some ephemeral CO2 goal, or having working stoves, AC, trains, and offices; making a living building things… I’m pretty sure they will pick “function” over “political brownie points”…

Tokyo Electric, which accounts for about one-third of Japan’s total power consumption, resorted to rolling blackouts last month after the quake.
[...]
The government, keen to avoid the blow that blackouts could deliver to industries from autos to aluminum, is considering regulatory steps to make it easier for firms to curb power use.

These may include allowing industries to coordinate plant operating hours, to prevent concentration of power use in peak periods, which could require exceptions in enforcement of the antimonopoly law by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.

Land use restrictions that prevent setting up power generators at certain factory sites may also be waived, while labor and building maintenance rules may be eased to allow cutbacks in air-conditioner use.

Expect to see some extra Diesel shipped to Japan, and expect to see price hikes on Honda Generators from a combination of short supply and increased home demand…

IMHO, it’s going to be a long summer in Japan. We can only hope it will be a cooler than normal one.

In Conclusion

While writing this article, George has provided an “update” in a comment on the old thread. I’m going to reproduce it here so it will not get lost in the transistion:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/japan-nuke-plant-explosion/#comment-15820

There actually has been pretty extensive structural damage but not to the parts one might expect. The reactors themselves survived the quake just fine. They were continuing to operate in their normal decay-heat dumping mode for the first hour or so until the tsunamis hit. They continued cooling off for several more hours until the batteries finally gave out.

But one source of damage has been to the concrete serving as the walls of the turbine building basements and various cable trenches. These have been cracked and now we see water migration between units.

Recent pumping of water from the number 3 turbine building basement to the number 4 turbine building basement seems to have resulted in a rise in water levels in a number 3 building cable pit. When they stopped the pumping to number 4, the water in the pit stopped rising. So it appears that cracks in the concrete allow water to flow into the ground and from there, seep into other areas with cracked concrete.

Remember, this is likely the largest EQ this region has seen in the Holocene. It was huge. I also want to point out the inaccuracy in calling this an “accident” as it was not an operational accident, it is a natural disaster.

So currently the plan is this:

Pump the water from the waste water storage tanks and from unit 3 and unit 4 basements to the sea. This water has very low levels of contamination. This frees up space in the waste water storage tank to collect the water in the unit 2 basement that is more highly contaminated and prevent it leaking to the sea. The overall result is hoped to be a net reduction in contamination.

So far, some 40,000 tons of lightly contaminated water have been discharged in order to free up space to contain the more highly contaminated water. Most of these contaminants have fairly short half-lives (with the exception of cesium-137) and the overall radioactivity will be substantially reduced over just a few weeks time.

The “problem child” at this point seems to be unit 2. They need to find the source of the water leak there but they can’t do that until they get the basement pumped out and they can’t do THAT until they have a place to put that water.

I would only add that there are plans to move an old tanker to the dock near the reactors as a place to store the contaminated water they are creating / pumping around. The MSM has stressed over what would then be done with that water, where it would be dumped. They don’t seem to “get it” that the water can be filtered as needed and that dumping that water into the ocean, even unfiltered, is not going to do a thing to anyone. In the past we used to dump tons of radioactive waste into the ocean as a form of disposal. The ocean is a very big place.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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237 Responses to Japan Nuke Page 2

  1. Level_Head says:

    I wish them success. It is bizarre how fixated the world is on the industrial difficulties of the nuclear power plants, and how quickly the world is distracted from the real human loss from the quake and tsunami.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  2. Malaga View says:

    Newly released TEPCO data provides evidence of periodic chain reaction at Fukushima Unit 1
    http://vimeo.com/21881702

    Flashing Blue Light Seen Above Exploded Nuclear Reactor

  3. Malaga View says:

    Remember, this is likely the largest EQ this region has seen in the Holocene.

    This is likely just another BS statement

  4. A good overview EM.
    I tend to be far less confident in the suggested ‘minimal’ nature of the radiation problems, but I am a self-confessed cynic by nature. Time will tell, of course.
    I am wondering, given your reasonable asessment of CO2 as only a minor planetary problem, at worst, why you didn’t mention the continued use and even further development of coal and gas-fired turbines, whilst the radioactive dust is settling?
    The other pollutants need to be limited but CO2 should not be a constraint. (One point of view, of course).
    Water vapour features high on the list of climate modifiers. How does that shape up when comparing nuclear with “clean” coal?
    Best regards.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    You know whats really funny in some way, Japan and Europe started this CO2 crap and climate change rubbish, because they wanted to use their nuclear and penalize us for using cheap coal. Now they have to go back to Coal and gas.

    Lets see if they keep up their Climate change rubbish.

    Come on, Japan should have asked the world before dumping 11,000 tonnes of radioactive waste into the Pacific ocean. Imagine if this was a coal plant.

    The whole problem with the radioactivity is that it enters the whole food chain and lingers there for quite a while.

    Bring back safe coal, as I can’t see fusion coming soon. Or switch to Thorium, you can switch these in a few minutes, Uranium is too hot, Thorium needs to be made.

    This is underplayed, it’s a level 7 incident now. We’ve seen Neutron beams and blue flashes, this is out of control.

  6. Hugo M says:

    Scarlet Pumpernickel said on April 5, 2011 09:03 am:

    This is underplayed, it’s a level 7 incident now. We’ve seen Neutron beams and blue flashes, this is out of control.

    I must have missed this. When and where we saw Neutron beams and blue flashes in Fukushima?

    Regarding Level_head finding the fixation on Fukushima bizarre: I believe the media induced hysteria will continue just as long as the bombing campain against Libya endures.

  7. j ferguson says:

    E.M.

    Thanks for continuing this thread. It has been very educational, not the least part of which is the issue of half-life with respect to leaking radioactive material; and perhaps with the discovery of background radiation in Alabama.

    I’m starting to read Daniel Defoe’s record of the plague in 1664-5 in London. I’t available as an Ebook at Gutenberg.org. It seems a good guide to how to cover a terrifying problem in a factual and sober way.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    The article is mostly about Japan, the disaster, and nukes. The energy aside is really just an aside. As a “power story” I’d advocate for them using coal (but they have bought into the reduce CO2 deal, so coal will be a non-starter). For natural gas, they don’t have any. Shipping it in will be hard to do in the quantities needed. I doubt there is enough free shipping to do it. (LNG tankers are typically on long term leases and treated like a pipeline… 20 year kind of contracts. The available free capacity will be near zero and new builds will be years away…).

    But were I designing a “power solution” for them, I’d likely go for coal combined cycle gassification / turbine facilities… and get all the other nukes back on line in a hurry.

    BTW, my sanguine nature about the nuclear risks is about the stuff leaked into the sea and things far from the plant. For anyone inside 10 miles of the plant, the wind and news of the day can make it a ‘nothing’ or a ‘serious damage’ event. If I lived near there, I’d be 50 miles away by now and upwind. ( 5 miles a day, 10 days..)

    I’m just aware that a tanker of low level water dumped 100 miles out to sea is going to be ‘near background’ right quick. Doesn’t mean I’d eat a spinach salad from down wind nor sleep in the mud pump truck….

    Water is not relevant as a green house gas for the simple reason that it is constantly reaching saturation and leaving the air…. “rain” solves it and you are back at natural equilibrium.

    @All:

    Per “level 7″ blue flashes and neutron beams:

    All “news to me” (part of why I like this kind of thread, it’s a communal barn raising and I get ‘caught up’ on news too…) So I’m going to be reading those links and watching the video…

    Blue flashes is “not good”…

    Still, I’d rather fish the rods out of the pool and haul them off to a reprocesser than cover it all in cement, HOPE that helps, and find out in a decade if anyone can figure out how to get fuel rods out of a concrete tomb that is overheating…. and with cracks letting reaction products leak out…

    @Level_head:

    I find it amazing that folks are fixated on the nuclear issue when so many tens of thousands are dead or lost and even more are homeless, many sick, hungry, lost, etc.

    Where are the stories about those folks?…

    At any rate, the nuke stuff gets to California first, so I pay some attention to it…

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    Existing reactors can be swapped over to Thorium fuel bundles if desired.

    http://ltbridge.com/technologyservices/fueltechnology/designs

    and CANDU reactors can use it directly as well.

    The question of Thorium is orthogonal to the issue of Liquid Metal reactors… or liquid fluoride reactors.

  9. Malaga View says:

    Radioactivity in sea up 7.5 million times
    Marine life contamination well beyond Japan feared

    Radioactive iodine-131 readings taken from seawater near the water intake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 2 reactor reached 7.5 million times the legal limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted Tuesday.

    The sample that yielded the high reading was taken Saturday, before Tepco announced Monday it would start releasing radioactive water into the sea, and experts fear the contamination may spread well beyond Japan’s shores to affect seafood overseas.

    The unstoppable radioactive discharge into the Pacific has prompted experts to sound the alarm, as cesium, which has a much longer half-life than iodine, is expected to concentrate in the upper food chain.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110405x1.html

  10. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Gas they have plenty, it’ll start shipping from Australia, just like the Chinese do. Start loading up on Australian gas plays :P

  11. Malaga View says:

    Anyone good at Maths???
    If 10% in 10 days then 100% in ??? days…

    IRSN publishes assessment of radioactivity released by the
    Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima I) through 22 March 2011

    For purposes of comparison, these values represent on the order of 10% of the releases estimated during the Chernobyl accident for these various groups of radioactive elements.

    http://www.irsn.fr/EN/news/Documents/IRSN_fukushima-radioactivity-released-assessment-EN.pdf

  12. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    Might the LNG carriers presently serving the US east coast and maybe obviated by our recent improvements in extraction of what’s here already, be diverted to the Australia-Japan run?

    I’m sure our guys would be delighted to escape their current commitment to what surely must be a more expensive supply delivered to various points on our east coast.

  13. RonB says:

    How about a synopsis of the radioactivity results, including isotopes, that have been “corrected” by TEPCO and others. I’m starting to get lost in what was measured vs. corrected.

    1. Chlorine 38 levels in released water?
    2. Tellurium (i think with ~35 minute half life?
    3. Weren’t the “neutron Beams” determined to be a translation error as actually Neutron particles, individual, possibly from the small amount of Plutonium discharged?
    4. Did I-131 levels ACTUALLY increase in the leakage in concentration or was it just a higher concentration source of leakage?

    For me at least, If I get bad data, 1 of 2 things can happen, 1. I immediately recognize it as suspect data, or 2. it gets incorporated into my thought processes and causes a bias. It then requires significant new data points to be overcome.

  14. Gary P Smith says:

    .

  15. Adrian Vance says:

    Recent studies show that getting ten times the radiation we normally incur daily greatly reduces the incidence of cancer and many infectious diseases. Radiation was under study for medical purposes before anti-biotics were developed, but when they came along work on it was dropped. Perhaps we should re-examine it now that so many drugs are no longer effective.

    For ideas, science and humor see The Two Minute Conservative at http://adrianvance.blogspot.com for radio/TV hosts, opinion page editors and you. Now on Kindle.

  16. RBean says:

    Marine Life contamination is the reason for the “silt Barrier”. We all know a sit barrier is not going to corral radioactivity, unless it is fuel rods in the water. The purpose is to contain the radioactive fish. Keep them out of the food chain. Nothing they mare doing is inspiring a positive outcome in this casualty.

  17. Malaga View says:

    Plant radiation monitor says levels immeasurable

    A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.

    The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant’s No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.

    Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/05_38.html

  18. pyromancer76 says:

    E.M. and commenters, thanks for the intelligent and careful assessment of the radiation and reactor clean-up/repair in Japan. I haven’t much time except to read quickly these days, but in my family a 4-yr, 3-yr, and 9-month-old are planning to travel with Mom to central Japan in May. Needless to say “we” are keeping a close eye on the situation.

  19. RuhRoh says:

    Today’s news;

    Dumping a lot of low level contaminated water to make room for the bad stuff.

    When ever they report >1000mSieverts, it is because the dosimeter is pegged at 1000.
    From
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Large_release_of_water_0404111.html

    “Now, the Japanese government has approved Tepco’s plan to move the most contaminated water to the central radioactive waste treatment facility. This means that the stocks of water already present there have to be displaced, taking with them low levels of radioactivity.

    Some 10,000 tonnes of this will be allowed to enter the sea, Tepco said, as well as 1500 tonnes from the sub drain pits of units 5 and 6. Subsurface water is running into the buildings of those units and Tepco said this could eventually affect safety equipment.

    The company calculates that a person who ate fish and seaweed from the nearby sea every day would have an additional radiation dose of 0.6 millisieverts per year, but did not say how long this would continue. The additiona dose compares to the 2.4 millisieverts people receive from natural sources each year.”

    George is right, this is no big deal.
    Agreed, ‘entombment’ just makes things worse. Plenty of resources there to make cleanup feasible, albeit expensive.
    RR

  20. RuhRoh says:

    Here’s another take on the situation dujer;

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201104040141.html

    RR

  21. George says:

    Malaga View:

    Flashing blue light does not mean there is any reaction. It is likely Cherenkov radiation caused by the spent fuel rods in the pond.

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

  22. George says:

    Note that spent fuel emits a lot of electrons (beta rays) during the decay of the materials in the spent fuel and would be expected to produce Cherenkov glow.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @J. Ferguson:

    Good point. Were I one of them I’d be looking to “make a deal” where they “allowed me to sacrafice” my contract in exhcange for “humanitarian purposes” ;-)

    That, then, leads to part 2 of the problem:

    Where are the unused LNG unloading facilities in Japan?

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    It’s not the gas that’s the problem. The world is full of gas ;-) It’s the transport and unloading and distribution that’s the issue… How long does it take to build 10,000 mW of added LNG shipping, docks, pipelines, turbine housings, generators with connections… “Lead time, lead time, lead time…”

    Unless Japan was already building something and it can be repurposed, you’ve got a several year lead time issue.

  24. George says:

    There is also this great mystery about how radiation harms people. It does it by creating “free radicals”. Basically, it does the same thing that your body does when you exercise. These free radicals can then cause damage to cells. Free radicals are created naturally in your body when you metabolize food but it has evolved a system of natural anti-oxidants that collect them up.

    If I were worried about the fish, at these low levels of radiation, maybe taking a 300 mg tablet of alpha lipoic acid (available at your local drugstore in the supplements section) might be all you need to sweep up the excess. (but I am not a doctor and am the last person you should take advice from in the field of nuclear medicine)

    Beta radiation is about the same as radiation from your microwave oven. Alpha radiation is stopped by even a few inches of air so isn’t a problem unless you actually eat something that is an alpha emitter. Gamma is the toughie as it penetrates deeply. Think of them like x-rays. Most of the radiation being emitted by these contaminants is beta rays. You can shield against it just like you would shield against radio waves, that aluminum foil hat would be good for those. If you are exposed to too many on the outside of your body, you will get what amounts to a sunburn. Too much on the inside can damage cells so if I thought my intake of beta emitters was high, I would dose up on the anti-oxidants (like the alpha lipoic acid I mentioned above).

    There are other things of note, too. For example, in addition to an isotope’s decay half-life there are such things as uptake efficiencies and biological half-life. If you eat a certain amount of a contaminant, a good portion of it (most of it for most contaminants) will pass right through without being taken up by the body. The extent to which it passes through depends on the isotope. Then once you have taken some up, it gets eliminated over time. For example, the biological half-life of cesium-137 is 70 days. That means if you do ingest some, half of it will be eliminated from your body in 70 days time (on average. It varies. For cesium if you drink more water, you will eliminate it faster). Cesium acts like potassium in your body and will be taken up and eliminated like potassium is.

    One of the most dangerous isotopes, and one we are not seeing any of (thankfully, because it isn’t very water soluble) is strontium. Strontium acts like calcium in the body and is deposited in bones where its radiation can damage bone marrow cells. No strontium has been detected in the contamination from Fukushima at any level.

    A person eating those fish every day for a year would receive less of a radiation dose than a flight attendant on a major airline does during the normal course of their work.

  25. George says:

    Actually, in the above, radiation from a microwave oven is more penetrating than beta radiation so that isn’t a good analogy. A better analogy for beta rays might be a tanning bed though beta does penetrate a couple of millimeters deeper than UV. The damage it causes is analogous, though.

  26. bulaman says:

    I was pricing selling some machinery to Phonpei in the Federated States of Micronesia so went to g earth to see where and what. While I was in the neighbourhood I went to look at Bikini Atoll. Suprise there is a motel on it and you can go there and dive on the wrecks sunk by A bombs and H bombs. Mayhaps the negatives are overstated?

  27. George says:

    On January 1, 1946 a football game was held at ground zero in Hiroshima. Yes, the negatives are *extremely* overstated. That is not to say that radiation can’t harm you as we know it can but the hysteria over such low levels, particularly isotopes that have half-lives of less than a month are greatly overstated.

  28. Malaga View says:

    Bikini Atoll

    Between 1946 and 1958, twenty-three nuclear devices were detonated at Bikini Atoll, beginning with the Operation Crossroads series in the summer of 1946.

    In 1968 the United States declared Bikini habitable and started bringing a small group of Bikinians back to their homes in the early 1970s as a test. In 1978, however, the islanders were removed again when strontium-90 in their bodies reached dangerous levels after a French team of scientists did additional tests on the island.[9] It was not uncommon for women to experience faulty pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths and damage to their offspring as a result of the nuclear testing on Bikini.[10]

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

  29. George says:

    The amount of Strontium-90 would now be about half of what it was in 1978. Bring your own calcium supplement if you are worried about it.

  30. George says:

    Also, this has no bearing on Fukushima as there has been no strontium detected at any level. Bikini was the result of a bomb (one of dozens) where all of the fission products where spewed into the environment. The amount of contamination generated by one atmospheric test is nothing comparable to Fukushima in terms of amount of contamination. US strontium-90 levels also soared in the 1960′s as a result of above ground testing in New Mexico and Nevada.

    Also, a power plant can’t explode like a nuclear bomb and it can’t “burn through” the concrete under the containment vessel. China Syndrome was a fantasy, not any depiction of reality. All US and Japanese commercial water reactors will go sub-critical if they lose their cooling water. The fuel could melt, and in the worst case it could get through the lower head of the pressure vessel, but it would spread out and cool on contact with the concrete below.

    Three Mile Island did just that. 200 tons of melted fuel on the concrete floor of the containment vessel. Radiation released was practically zero.

    Three Mile Island was an operating accident. It happened with a critical reactor. Fukushima had been shut down for a considerable period of time before they developed cooling problems and temperatures inside the reactors are not high enough to melt through the lower head. There is apparently a water leak in #2 somewhere, though.

    There is likely fuel damage. There is no reactor vessel breech. There is possible damage to the suppression pool of number 2 due to a hydrogen explosion and that explosion probably also has caused a water leak in the turbine building (failed valve, seal, split pipe, something).

    But people keep dragging in completely unrelated stuff. It is like you parking your car at the curb and someone hits it and then tries to claim you are a lousy driver. And then they pull out comparisons with incidents of train accidents. It makes no sense. An atmospheric bomb test is in no way even the slightest comparison to what is going on here.

  31. Myrddin Seren says:

    When contradictions become so manifest they can’t be ignored anymore.

    Arch Green George Monbiot pulls part anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott

    Interrogation of Helen Caldicott’s Responses

    Posted on April 4, 2011 by George

    http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/interrogation-of-helen-caldicotts-responses/

  32. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Obama said not to worry about it, so there must be a problem, since he loves being an alarmist, so why is he so non-alarmist on this one? :P

  33. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Obama was not instructed to be alarmed about this. pg

  34. There is much being said here that is accurate and meaningful. However, there is also much that is either speculation, sourced from vested interests, irrelevant, inadequately understood, biassed, personal opinion (mine in this case), and IMHO irrelevant and misleading. Even “expert” opinion can be far from the mark.
    Basically I see this discussion as extremely worthwhile but speculative. I suggest that any conclusions being made are premature, because not enough is KNOWN (really, actually known), the crisis is ongoing and the physical outcome is unknown, therefore the ramifications, particularly health issues, are unknown and speculative.

    I hypothesize, any ionising radiation is bad for health. There are no SAFE levels! Even the background levels, deemed to be absolutely safe by authorities, may be the major contributing cause of cancer rates now being many times greater than 70 years ago.
    I stand on my principles making this statement.
    I don’t think it is wise to stand on a principle based on there being any safe limits of ionising radiation.

    Just a comment on radiation “life”. My understanding of a ‘half-life’ is that the strength decays to half in that time. So each half-life term sees a halving of strength. For a half life of say 1 month, in 10 months the strength has reduced to approx 1000th (1024 actually). So if a radiation dose has a strength say, 1000 times the “safe” level and a half-life of 1 month, it is ‘unsafe’ for 10 months.
    This is one of the reasons not to be blase about the dangers of radiation.
    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.

  35. Sorry to persist, but this is surely of interest.

    Reported in Sott.net blog today:
    “The operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish.”

    This, unfortunately, supports most of what I said above.

  36. bruce says:

    Ken, no doubt, not everything has been known from the start.
    So your reluctance to jump to conclusions has been proved correct. I would wonder if you haven’t jumped to a conclusion about radiation. But no need to start that line of thought.

    I’ll not argue if any radiation is bad or not, I won’t argue any of your points. All I ask is that you propose what you would do for power instead.

  37. Malaga View says:

    @ Ken McMurtrie
    Well written… your statement very much echoes my views.

  38. @Bruce. Thanks for your comment. I agree, no need to labour the point, but I owe you a response.

    I worked with X-Ray equipment fo 10 years. One thing I did learn was of the dangers of ionising radiation, not by experiencing damage, but by the awareness and importance of minimising, shielding and monitoring exposure. There is plenty of evidence of radiation damage to humans, from luekemia to serious burns. It is the quantifying of the ‘safe’ level that I question.

    My comment that even background levels may not be safe was not a ‘jumped conclusion’, but is an extreme viewpoint. Nevertheless I think it would bear scientific scrutiny. (The topic, not my comment!)

    Re alternative power sources, this is a major factor in the whole picture, but not relevant to the specifics about nuclear energy and its dangers.
    {Future designs of nuclear power stations, if not solving all the potential health issues, will continue to be significant threat, but may possibly be justifiable. The biggest mistake would be to continue the vested interest claim that they are “SAFE”. They are demonstrably NOT SAFE. Especially the coastal and fault-line failure prone. Their continued use should be accepted on that basis. No more pretending or hiding heads in sand. Then, maybe they would made ‘safe enough’ to justify the potential dangers.}

    Solutions are not simple, but continued and more use of natural gas and even ‘dirty’ coal, is to be preferred to nuclear radiation contamination.

    I believe that, if the same research resources were applied to solar energy, as are poured into the fossil fuel and nuclear industry, the potental ~1KW/m>2 solar energy might become viable.
    Wind power viability is suspect but nevertheless useful.
    There may be other energy sources so-far constrained by vested interest groups. (Not a conclusion, just speculating!)

    We obviously can’t just shut down existing power sources, but we can review what we do from now on, from a balanced viewpoint.

  39. Malaga View says:

    the major contributing cause of cancer rates now being many times greater than 70 years ago

    Makes me wonder whether the Tobacco Industry was originally used as a fall guy to cover the increased cancer rates… this would explain the need to develop the overblow (mainly bogus) secondary smoking scare to explain the cancer rates in non-smokers.

    My guess is that the Maya Century is drawing to a close… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_(illusion)

  40. Malaga View says:

    April 6 Fukushima forecast

  41. klee12 says:

    Ken wrote

    I hypothesize, any ionising radiation is bad for health. There are no SAFE levels! Even the background levels, deemed to be absolutely safe by authorities, may be the major contributing cause of cancer rates now being many times greater than 70 years ago.

    Denver has a much higher background radiation than New York city, because Denver is at a much higher altitude. One would expect if there there was a linear relation between cancer and radiation levels that Denver would have more cancer due to radiation than most cities located at sea level. But I think I’ve read (sorry, can’t remember source) that is not the case. There are other people who live in an area with high background radiation and they, reportedly, show no ill effects (again, can’t recall sources). If my recollection is correct, would that not indicate that there might be a level where increased cancer (or whatever) due to radiation cannot be detected?

    I drive, and run the risk of dying due to an auto accident. But I ignore the risk. A I take the point of view that I’ll ignore any risk that than seems “less” than the risk I take on driving.

    klee12

  42. Malaga View says:

    Radiation Experts: Radiation Standards Are Up to 1,000 Higher Than Is Safe for the Human Body

    As the National Research Council’s Committee to Assess the Scientific Information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program explains:

    Radioactivity generates radiation by emitting particles. Radioactive materials outside the the body are called external emitters, and radioactive materials located within the body are called internal emitters.
    Internal emitters are much more dangerous than external emitters. Specifically, one is only exposed to radiation as long as he or she is near the external emitter.

    For example, when you get an x-ray, an external emitter is turned on for an instant, and then switched back off.

    But internal emitters steadily and continuously emit radiation for as long as the particle remains radioactive, or until the person dies – whichever occurs first. As such, they are much more dangerous.

    …..

    The current risk model is based upon external acute radiation at high dose rate, the Japanese A-Bomb [i.e. from measurements of the effect of uniform, external radiation on the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki]. It is incorrect for internal and this was discussed at CERRIE but the implications were so alarming that the government sacked the Environment minister Michael Meacher who set up the committee and shut it down before it had finished (or even started) the research it was doing and also brought legal threats to bear on members so the final report is a whitewash, even though it concedes the problem exists and that the error may be as high at 10-fold. In fact, there is plenty of data and studies that show the error is from 500 to upwards of 1000. But this is not for all radionuclides, only some. The ECRR (www.euradcom.org) has studied this issue and provided risk model for internal emitters.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/04/radiation-experts-radiation-standards.html

  43. Malaga View says:

    ECRR Risk Model and radiation from Fukushima

    Using the ECRR 2010 radiation risk model the following guide to the health effects of exposure can be employed.

    Take the dose which is published by the Japanese authorities. Multiply it by 600. This is the approximate ECRR dose for the mixture of internal radionuclides released from
    Fukushima. Then multiply this number by 0.1. This is the ECRR 2010 cancer risk.

    Example 1: According to Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, the dose from exposure to radioactive milk from Fukushima is so low that you would have to drink milk for a year to get the equivalent of a CT scan dose. A CT scan dose is about 10 milliSieverts (mSv) Assuming you drink 500ml a day, the annual intake is 180litres so the dose per litre is 0.055mSv. The ECRR dose per litre is at maximum 0.055 x 600 = 33mSv. Thus the lifetime risk of cancer following drinking a litre of such contaminated milk is 0.0033 or 0.33%. Thus 1000 people each drinking 1 litre of
    milk will result in 3.3 cancers in the 50 years following the intake.

    From the results in Sweden and elsewhere following Chernobyl, these cancers will probably appear in the 10 years following the exposure.

    http://www.euradcom.org/publications/fukushima19032011.pdf

  44. gallopingcamel says:

    scarlet pumpernickel,

    That “Blue Light” story from Fox News was an example of lousy journalism. If there had been even a grain of truth in the story it would have gained “legs” and you would be seeing it 24/7 in the “Main Stream Media”.

    It is true that ionizing radiation can cause a blue glow but for a nuclear power plant to produce such an effect some unlikely things have to happen:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/04/01/fukushima-daiichi-april-1/#comment-122798

    For many years I was responsible for radiation safety and personnel protection systems at a nuclear facility so my BS detector cuts in when “journalists” publish stories that defy the laws of physics.

  45. George says:

    Tennessee contaminated! Two dead. Immeasurable contamination, aquatic life hardest hit.

  46. George says:

    “7.5 million times the legal limit ”

    1. there is no “legal limit”. There is a standard which they are supposed to abide by. It is extremely low. 7.5 million times almost zero is still pretty low.

    2. If a nuclear reactor emitted as much radiation as a coal power plant, it would be forced to shut down.

  47. David says:

    I submit that there is much evidence that the health effets of radiation exposure are not linear. Ann Coulter assembled the following in her opinion piece. BTW, I do agree that the current situation in Japan is evolving, and as tragic as it is, we will learn much from it.

    The New York Times science section reported in 2001, an increasing number of scientists believe that at some level — much higher than the minimums set by the U.S. government — radiation is good for you. “They theorize,” the Times said, that “these doses protect against cancer by activating cells’ natural defense mechanisms.”

    Among the studies mentioned by the Times was one in Canada finding that tuberculosis patients subjected to multiple chest X-rays had much lower rates of breast cancer than the general population.

    A $10 million Department of Energy study from 1991 examined 10 years of epidemiological research by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health on 700,000 shipyard workers, some of whom had been exposed to 10 times more radiation than the others from their work on the ships’ nuclear reactors. The workers exposed to excess radiation had a 24 percent lower death rate and a 25 percent lower cancer mortality than the non-irradiated workers.

    In 1983, a series of apartment buildings in Taiwan were accidentally constructed with massive amounts of cobalt 60, a radioactive substance. After 16 years, the buildings’ 10,000 occupants developed only five cases of cancer. The cancer rate for the same age group in the general Taiwanese population over that time period predicted 170 cancers.

    The people in those buildings had been exposed to radiation nearly five times the maximum “safe” level according to the U.S. government. But they ended up with a cancer rate 96 percent lower than the general population

    Bernard L. Cohen, a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, compared radon exposure and lung cancer rates in 1,729 counties covering 90 percent of the U.S. population. His study in the 1990s found far fewer cases of lung cancer in those counties with the highest amounts of radon — a correlation that could not be explained by smoking rates.

    Tom Bethell, author of the “Politically Incorrect Guide to Science,” has been writing for years about the beneficial effects of some radiation, or “hormesis.”

    Meanwhile, the animals around the Chernobyl reactor, who were not evacuated, are “thriving,” according to scientists quoted in the April 28, 2002 Sunday Times (UK).

    Dr. Dade W. Moeller, a radiation expert and professor emeritus at Harvard, told the Times that it’s been hard to find excess cancers even from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly because one-third of the population will get cancer anyway. There were about 90,000 survivors of the atomic bombs in 1945 and, more than 50 years later, half of them were still alive. (Other scientists say there were 700 excess cancer deaths among the 90,000.)

  48. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    One of THE best free radical scavengers is called “Vitamin C” the other is called “Vitamin E”.

    If exposed to radiation, the potassium iodide pill is nice ( IF there is radioactive iodine in the mix…) but I’d head for the Vit C&E bottles first…

    Oh, and remind folks that Alpha particles are stopped by the dead layer of your skin… Unless you are eating an alpha emitter it just isn’t important at all.

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    Per the “no safe levels”… well, “yes and no”.

    We live in an ionizing radiation field. It is everywhere. Your TV (if a typical tube type common until a decade ago) emits a load of X-rays. Children were warned not to sit closer than a few feet from “Color TV” when it first came out (due to the 25 kV vs 10 kV electron gun and much greater X-Ray production). We have evolved a load of systems to deal with ionizing radiation damage. Everything from anti-oxidant free radical scavengers to DNA repair.

    You can suck up a load of ionizing radiation with “no bad thing” happening.

    At the same time, raising the level gives a higher load, so is to be discouraged. I would not volunteer to eat spinach from 20 miles around the reactor nor would I volunteer to have a ‘sleep over’ in the cab of the mud pump truck.

    Yet….

    I would not hesitate for a moment (well, maybe a moment… just long enough to do a mental cross check on the calculations of exposure) to don a “bunny suit” and haul a hose up to the spent fuel pool and poke the end of it into the place that needed water. Alpha and beta stopped by the suit; gama measured by the dosimeter, reasonable projection of dose inside limit? I’m “good to go” for the greater good.

    Yeah, I’d down about 10 grams of Vit C and about 1000 IU of Vit E 20 minutes before I made the run. Maybe even swallow a potasium Iodide pill. Other than those prudent actions? Not a whole lot.

    Over the next few days I’d likely “over hydrate” to run the fluids through the kidneys and dump anything that got breathed in or swallowed.
    (Think: “Beer… Massive Quantities ;-)

    And then I’d not think anything about it the rest of my life.

    Why? Because the physics is “well characterized” and we live in a radiation field our entire life.

    FWIW the “10000 times the legal limit” implies something that is not true. The implication is that 1.5 x the legal limit is bad. It isn’t. Unless you know exactly what the legal limit is in any legal domain, you have no idea if 1000 x the legal limit is an issue, or not an issue. “Legal” and “Sane” are two orthogonal quesitons….

    Please note that folks in Nagasaki and Hiroshima who were exposed to orders of magnitude more prompt radiation and vastly more secondary activation products often lived long and healthy lives. One of them is a lady who is an M.D. in the USA. She works in cancer radiation therapy and has returned to Japan after this event to teach folks about the GOOD that radiation can do, as well as the bad.

    Like it or not, we are built to live and thrive in radiation. The only questions are “how much” and “how good are you as an individual at living in it”.

    So some folks WILL DIE from this accident. They are the ones least “fit” to deal with radiation damage. Others will have 100 times their dose and live to 100+ years.

    The only sane conclusion is to blame evolution or God.

    The iodine level is only an issue if it enters the food chain. Even then, if it takes enough time to move up the food chain to human food, the results will be nil in people. Worth watching, and worth mitigating. NOT worth a moments lost sleep…

    There is a fundamental fact of radioactive isotopes. Those that are hot enough to be a worry NOW, go away fast; those that are around a long time, are not very hot…

    It’s a necessary byproduct of decay times. You either break down fast and hot, and are gone quick, or you take your time about it and hang around a long time; but by definition are not putting out much radioactivity….. There is no other choice. So Pu has a 25000 year “worry time”. OK, that means I can hold a pound of it in my hand with “no worries”. (alpha emitter so it is absorbed in the dead skin layer; and slow at that…) Take Iodine and I’d not want to be in a room with it. But I’d be fine going into that room a year later….

    So before you decide “Radiation=Evil” and “Radioactive Isotope = Death Drops”; look up the natural abundance of Potasium 40 and what the typical banana means to you… and the typical flight from Sydney to London… or New York…

    If you don’t do the math, you have no clue… This also implies that the “radiation is not a problem” folks are just as wrong. If THEY havn’t done the math, they are just spouting propaganda….

    So on the one hand I agree that the minimum ionizing radiation dose you can get in a lifetime is likely the best; but at the same time going from 1 x background to 1.0001 x background is just not going to make me worried.

    Look at the impact of living in a brick home with an unventilated basement and watching a color Tube TV. It is far worse for most folks than anything from Japan. Toss in an annual trip to another continent via air and you are just soaking in radiation in comparison to someone in a traditional Japanese home on a southern island and not traveling (and with an LCD TV ;-)

    Also, look at the total quantity of Uranium released from burning coal. The total energy in the uranium in coal is more than that from burning the coal. That we let it leave in the stacks is, IMHO, a sin. (but nobody asked me…). Between the uranium and the mercury in coal, it is far worse than nuclear power. (though that does not prevent me advocating that we use coal… it’s worse, but not bad…)

    So in my ideal world, we would burn coal, but scrub the gasses. Then take out the U and use it in nuclear reactors…

    @Malaga View:

    Oddly, it is likely that the major cause of lung cancer from smoking is nuclear… Tobacco plants concentrate a nuclar isotope. Polonium? something like that… and it is the deposition of that radioactive in the lungs via the smoke that is likely a major issue…

    http://www.acsa.net/HealthAlert/lungcancer.html

    (I have no idea who the folks are at the end of that link. It is just the first one to pop up on a BING! search … but is typical of what I remember from more formal stuff…)

    OK, so does this mean I think it’s just dandy to go out and smoke up as it’s just a minor radiation thing and radiation decays?

    No.

    Both of my parents died from cancer. I take it very seriously. My Dad was a smoker….

    But it does mean that I’m not going to go off the deep end if my dentist smokes on his lunch break and I’m not going to be all worked up that I have naturalized tobacco plants around my garden. (They trap ‘leaf miners’ who lay eggs on them that die…) The Polonium that is in my soil will be there in any case. As long as I don’t smoke the stuff, I’m not going to be dying any faster than “normal”…

    And that is sort of my whole point.

    We are all subject to a load of insults our whole life. Some of us will die early, some late. It’s good to get the total insult load down. But the reality is that for most of us: Having a smoke, a bottle of wine, or eating that big beef steak are far more risky than breathing the air wafted over from Japan… or eating a tuna sandwich made from a Pacific Tuna…

    So just “chill a bit”. Pop the cork, have that “tuna salad” and pull a long relaxing one if you like.

    We are all “Dead Men Walking”. Maybe it will take 10 minutes off the end of your life. So what? I’ve seen the end, and it’s not pretty. I’d rather enjoy the now in style than waste this precious moment in worry about the “splat” at the end…

  49. George says:

    Then there were people who survived both bombings and lived to their 80′s. I have no doubt that increased cancers occurred in the US in the 1970′s and 1980′s due to atmospheric tests in the 1950′s and 1960′s. Most of these would have been due to iodine and strontium.

    Of children whose baby teeth were collected during that time, people who died of cancer before age 50 had, on average, 50% more strontium-90 in their baby teeth than the children who lived beyond age 50.

    But that has nothing to do with nuclear power reactors. The only power plant incident to release any appreciable amount of strontium is Chernobyl and we don’t build that sort of reactor here (or in Japan). So again, it is like saying we shouldn’t build cars because planes crash.

  50. gallopingcamel says:

    Malaga View,

    The links you provided are based on the discredited LNT (Linear, No Threshold) model for health effects relating to ionizing radiation.

    While I concede that acute doses of 5 Sieverts (500 Rem) are likely to be fatal for 50% of affected individuals, it does not follow that a dose of 500 milli-Sieverts will kill 5% of affected individuals.

    Our understanding of the effect of exposure to high levels of nuclear radiation rests on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and serious nuclear accidents. Most of the studies to date have concentrated on the negative effects of ionizing radiation while completely ignoring the beneficial effects.

    Here is a link to a study of a serious accident in Taiwan:
    http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&q=Luan%2C+%22nuclear+accident%22&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=d8193e5b46b6707

  51. George says:

    Tobacco plants concentrate a nuclar isotope. Polonium? something like that… and it is the deposition of that radioactive in the lungs via the smoke that is likely a major issue…

    Cancer rates for smokers increased 3x around the turn of the century when phosphate fertilizers containing radioactive isotopes began to be used for fertilizer.

    The tobacco plant takes up these radioactive elements. Po-210 is in the decay chain.

    If one smoked cigarettes made from organically grown tobacco or tobacco grown oneself at home without commercial phosphates in soil low in natural uranium, you don’t have nearly as much of a cancer risk.

    The “second hand smoke” studies are bunk and have been shown to be that several times. Actually, there is really only one study that everyone else cites. Sure, it stinks and some people have an allergic reaction, but lets face it, in the 1940′s through 1970′s practically everyone was exposed to second hand smoke in the normal course of life. Even places like mission control in Houston used to have ash trays at each position. They didn’t exactly have to send in front-end loaders to scoop up the bodies.

  52. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    There is an odd statistic… If you look at children who are very allergic to tobacco, the strongest correlation is that the Dad smoked and the Mom did not. I am one of those.

    Tobacco smoke makes “bad things happen” for me. Very bad.

    The thesis is that that the children like me who had moms that smoked didn’t survive…(thus the higher miscarriage rates among smoking women) while if Dad smokes and Mom doesn’t, the mother develops some immune response and that is transmitted to the fetus. Thus me…

    I would speculate that something similar is behind the present flush of peanut allergy kids…

    There is “cross reaction” between many of the legumes. At least one kid from the USA (where lupini beans are essentially absent) with peanut allergies died in Europe when he / she ate Lupini beans for the first time ever. But that odd case is the clue.

    What happened just before peanut allergies burst on the scene?

    A load of products using soybeans ….

    I would love to do a study of “kids with peanut allergies” and ask: Did you or your mother consume a lot of soy products?

    I think you will find soy milk, soy burgers, soy ‘you name it’ in the home prior to the kid going to kindergarten…

    But back on tobacco:

    It takes about 35 years from the onset of smoking to the onset of excess cancers. Most folks die about 70-80 anyway. Life over 70 is not a real thrill for most folks anyhow. ( I visit with M.I.L. once a week in the nursing home… trust me, it’s NOT on my agenda…)

    So, as someone with 2 parents likely dead from tobacco:

    I defend the right of any smoker to smoke. (Just not near my nose, please, as I’m one of those kids of a non-smoking mom / smoking dad that reacts horridly to the stuff).

    and

    I defend the right of anyone who doesn’t want to have a miserable lingering death from degeneration at 70+ years to decide to “start the timer” and have some added “juice” in the process. (Nicotine is a very stimulating drug… yes, I’ve tried it, but not via smoking.) So if you start at 30, you are choosing to “end it” at 65-75 in most cases. It’s not my place to criticize that choice. If you start at 15 and are looking at 50-60 ‘end point’, well, that’s just a bit dumb and I do think there ought to be laws against that… oh, wait, there are…)

    Folks tend to forget that “life is a wasting asset”… so is to be spent or wasted…

    FWIW, a friend once lit up a cigarette made by some strange company. “Players”? At any rate, it was “just tobacco”, none of the dozens of additives approved for US cigarette manufacture. I did NOT react. (Something that astonished me greatly at the time…) I even inhaled a bit of the smoke. Nothing.

    My suspicion is that it is not an allergy to the tobacco plant itself that is the issue, but is something in the additive package that sets me off.

    For a while I considered packing some of them with me and handing them out to smokers as a pallative so it wasn’t just me being in their grill saying “STFU and STUFF IT with the SMOKES!!!! YOU are KILLING ME!!!” but rather someone saying “Could you smoke these instead? I rather don’t have a problem with them…” but about then the laws started changing to make it a non-issue as smokers were sent out to the parking garage… ;-)

    At any rate, it’s an odd backwater to the Japan nuke thing…

  53. j ferguson says:

    E.M.

    “life over 70 is not a thrill for most folks.” ???

    At 68, i can’t comment definitively, but the gang i hang out with runs from us kids into the mid-90s and includes both my parents 91 and 92 and spouse’s mother at 95.

    I suggest you consider possibility of a lengthy life only because if you’ve gathered the wherewithal, have myriad interests as you certainly do, and have finally outgrown giving a damn about what everyone else thinks – just those few, it may be the best time of your life.

    the only downside is the part from 18 to 61 generated enough experience in construction to provide material for the very realistic nightmares that are the only real downside of this period of my life. They are the phone calls from the field that begin, “Forms and steel are set, we’re ready to pour, trucks are lined up. Fred thought he’s check the lines once more. We’re 8 inches into the neighbors property, what should I do?”

  54. George says:

    No water in No 1 reactor, eh? Whoever put that out is an idiot. Water levels in the reactors are reported daily. Water level in #1 reactor is 1.6 meters below the tops of the fuel rods. Inlet nozzle temperature is 242.8 C and the lower head temperature is 115.3 C

    I wish people would read the information available rather than just make stuff up or listen to some “expert” speculating from their armchair thousands of miles away.

  55. George says:

    Another thing, these “immeasurably high” levels of contamination are caused by the fact that they are using an instrument capable of measuring only up to 1Sv/hr. So what they are saying is “the device we are using doesn’t go that high”. “immeasurable” is how they chose to use to translate the Japanese “off scale high”. If they would simply get a different measuring device, it would be quite easily measurable.

    And my point in posting that link to the contamination in Tennessee was to show that we have, every day, industrial accidents that kill people and contaminate our water with stuff that can sicken or kill you. Yet we hear no hue and cry for the closing of these operations. How many beaches will be closed this year due to bacterial contamination? How many raw sewage spills will occur in the world this month? How many natural biological blooms will occur that kill and contaminate fish and shellfish?

    Are the shellfish in the Gulf of Mexico certified edible yet?

  56. Hugo M says:

    George,

    I would like to understand why they are still unable to cover the fuel rods completely. From the very beginning, I thought they could have established an open cooling loop, i.e. pump sea water in and dump it back to the sea. The current temperatures imply heat is still being dispersed by evaporation.

  57. George says:

    Some radionuclide test results from air samples at Fukushima Dai-ichi:

    Volatiles (gases)

    I-131 0.000420 Bq/cm*cm allowable exposure 0.001
    Cs-134 0.000021 Bq/cm*cm allowable exposure 0.002
    Cs-137 0.000021 Bq/cm*cm allowable exposure 0.003

    Particulate

    I-131 0.000220 Bq/cm*cm allowable exposure 0.001
    Cs-134 0.000031 Bq/cm*cm allowable exposure 0.002
    Cs-137 0.000031 Bq/cm*cm allowable exposure 0.003

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110406e5.pdf

  58. George says:

    Also, consider for a moment all of the other contaminants washed to sea during the tsunami. Solvents, paints, fuels, lubricants, agri-chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. A little I-131 is going to be the least of their worries. It goes away by half every 8 days. Some of these other chemicals that have been dumped into the sea are very persistent.

  59. George says:

    The current temperatures imply heat is still being dispersed by evaporation.

    Probably several reasons why they aren’t putting more water in there. The fuel rods are HOT in the portion above the water and the cladding is likely damaged. If they raise the water level, they risk the water coming into contact with more contaminants. In other words, it will make the water even more radioactive than it already is.

    They probably have only as much water going in there as they need to keep the temperature stable. What they are apparently attempting to do is get power back to the circulation pumps but the pumps and the electrical connections for them are in the basement of the turbine building. The radioactive water in the basement of that building is preventing workers getting in there to restore the pumps to operation. Once they get that water out of the basement and if the pumps still work, things should get much more manageable quickly.

  60. George says:

    More data just posted. Reactor 1-4 outflow channel water analysis:

    I-131 16 Bq/cm*cm (400 * normal operating limit)
    Cs-134 7.7 Bq/cm*cm (130 * normal operating limit)
    Cs-137 7.8 Bq/cm*cm (87 * normal operating limit)

  61. Hugo M says:

    George, thank you for your answer. Do you know what the normal activity is for coolant of this reactor type? I thought they could have swamped the highly active portion out, stored it somewhere and then switch to an open a sea water loop. As an aside, Bq/cm*cm should read Bq/cm^3, as in all cases a volume was measured.

  62. George says:

    oops, you’re correct, should have said cm*cm*cm but ^3 works better.

    The problem is in getting any water out of there at all. The first problem is that all the water storage facility was full to capacity. This is why they had to dump the waste water tank to sea and pump the water in unit 3 and 4 basements to sea. There simply wasn’t anywhere to put it.

    The problem with one-time flush circulation is that it generates a huge amount of contaminated water for probably very little gain. Yes, the reactor temperature would come down somewhat, but they aren’t all that high anyway. What is to be gained by it? Unit 1 reactor is the hottest unit. Unit 2 water feed nozzle temperature is 139C and unit 3 is not operating but the lower head temp is 113.7 C.

    There really would be very little to be gained at this point in doing as you suggest as it would generate a huge amount of radioactive waste water for no real gain. These reactors just aren’t that hot in physical temperature at the current time. There really isn’t any danger of a melting the fuel unless they were to go completely dry for some period of time.

    Remember that this was not an operating accident. Those reactors were not operating at the time of the tsunami. They had an hour of generator cooling and several hours of battery cooling after the reactors had been shut down so the worst of the decay heat had already been extracted by conventional means.

    The main problems have been lack of circulation pumps and lack of ultimate heat sink. Even if they could get the water circulating, they had no place to dump the heat. A few days ago they finally got sea water circulation capability to the heat exchangers in the turbine buildings.

  63. E.M.Smith says:

    @j ferguson:

    YMMV… FWIW, my granddad on Dad’s side lived into his ’90s healthy, spry, and alert. Dad made it to 56, but started smoking at 16… so 40 years on unfiltered Camels is about right, though a bit to the long side.

    As a non-smoker, I’m planning based on a Dad+20 and hoping for a Granddad+20 ;-)

    Unfortunately, my recent evaluation of “quality of life” in aging is biased by the weekly visits to the nursing home… Yes, it is a very biased sample. Doesn’t mean I can ignore it…

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    Love that Obama clip… Doctored Video is a wonderful art form ;-)

    @George:

    Yeah, thinks like lead, mercury, etc. Elements never go away (unless there is a nuclear reaction ;-) so heavy metal poisons have a half life measured in billions of years…

    It just amazes me to watch someone cook chicken poorly without proper disinfection of the cutting area and then complain about radiation on the other side of the planet.

    Bacteria are a far more potent threat to everyone on the planet. The number of multiply drug risistent nasties that are developing is a clear and stark risk of death to billions. So what do we do? Set aside some antibiotics to use on on hard cases? Stop prescribing antibiotics for viruses as a ‘feel good’ prescription? No. We add more antibiotics to animal feeds… something that will eventually lead to drug resistent bugs and the deaths of millions to billions of people. But because it is familiar, nobody much cares…

    My “worry order” is:

    1) Pathogens
    2) Elements and compounds toxicity
    3) Accidents ( I know, low on the list, but I don’t spend much time on the road these days…)
    4) Food poisoning (i.e. bugs, bug products, allergies,…)
    5) Elements and compounds carcinogenicity
    ….
    n where n is large) Radiation issues.

  64. Hugo M says:

    I-131 16 Bq/cm^3 (400 * normal operating limit)
    Cs-134 7.7 Bq/cm^3 (130 * normal operating limit)
    Cs-137 7.8 Bq/cm^3 (87 * normal operating limit)

    Just to put these activities into perspective. In the EU, Cs activity for nutrients was limited to 600 Bq/kg for Cs-137 (well, up until recently …).

    The first problem is that all the water storage facility was full to capacity.

    As of today, yes. But probably not then. That is why I asked you if you know the normal coolant activity.

    The main problems have been lack of circulation pumps and lack of ultimate heat sink. Even if they could get the water circulating, they had no place to dump the heat. A few days ago they finally got sea water circulation capability to the heat exchangers in the turbine buildings.

    It’s good to hear the heat exchangers are at least able to dump some heat again. Does this also mean the cooling system is operating in a closed loop mode now?

    But regarding my primary question, I simply wondered if they could have flushed higlhy active coolant to into a storage tank at the very beginning, and then pump sea-water continuously open-loop, that is while they had running on battery power and while the fuel rods still had been intact. After the Tsunami, they must have known that feed water pumps will not work for weeks to come, due to the salty water which had submerged or at least contaminated all high-voltage power installations, rendering them unusable.

    Today we know that too, but then it was reported as if it was simply that the Diesel driven emergency power aggregates had been taken out by a water hammer, with the media running the absurd story that it would be due to a incompatible switch contact and/or a missing cable that Tepco couln’t restore power from extern generators.

    I can’t believe that the Japanese engineers didn’t see the dimension of the problem immediately. But no one reported that situation then.

  65. George says:

    Just to put these activities into perspective. In the EU, Cs activity for nutrients was limited to 600 Bq/kg for Cs-137 (well, up until recently …).

    Yes. Japan has the tightest standards of any country on the planet when it comes to radiation exposure so things like “1000 times the legal limit” might really mean “perfectly acceptable level in every other country on the planet”.

    Each one of those main circulation pumps requires 4 megawatts of power. There are two per unit. They are 4160 volt, 1000 amp, 3 phase motors driving those pumps. The emergency generators that were brought in could not supply that kind of power and were used only for some lighting and other low voltage (480v if I recall) applications.

    The water inside those reactors is probably extremely contaminated at this point. Drawing any of it out of there would create a huge problem as to where to put it. It isn’t something you would probably want sitting around in a storage tank. It is something you would want to turn into a solid and bury.

    As they had been using salt water, there are other activation products in there such as chlorine-38. These would be normal every day naturally occurring isotopes that are modified when a neutron strikes them. Even though there is no critical reaction, there is a lot of Pu-240 in those spent rods and Pu-240 fissions spontaneously (which is why it is no good for bombs). While there are not enough neutrons flying around in there to sustain a chain reaction (criticality) there are a lot of them in there and when they hit things they can change them.

    30% of the salt in sea water is chlorine-37. If that chlorine atom absorbs a neutron, it becomes chlorine-38 with a half-life of about 30 minutes. It undergoes beta decay to argon-38. At this point the NaCl molecule loses its bond because argon doesn’t bond with sodium and so the sodium is released into the water where it reacts to become NaOH … sodium hydroxide … lye. So the sea water becomes highly corrosive over time.

    That is the reason why you want to use ultra-pure water. If you try to use water with a bunch of other stuff in it, you are going to end up with all kinds of activation product when the atoms of the impurities undergo transmutation from all those neutrons flying around. In other words, what you have after several hours of exposure to neutrons can be quite different from what you put in there.

    So yeah, they do need to get that water out of there at some point. The problem right now is where to put it. Dumping to the sea would not seem like a viable option at this point unless they barged it WAY out to sea and released it very slowly.

  66. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/031978_radioactive_water_Japan.html

    Looks like international law has been broken with the dumping of waste

  67. George says:

    Actually, there is no such thing as an “international law”. Each country is sovereign in its own waters. Some like to “believe in” international laws, but there is really no such thing. Did it break Japanese laws? That is the only thing that matters.

    Nobody elected any “international” legislative body that can pass laws.

  68. George says:

    In any case the story is misleading an inaccurate. The water that was dumped at sea had extremely low levels of radiation. The water that caused the high radiation readings is water that was LEAKING from unit 2. They had to dump the low level contaminants in order to provide a place to store the more contaminated water.

    In other words:

    Say you have water leaking that has 1000 units of contamination and you have water stored that has 1 unit of contamination. You can not capture the highly contaminated water because all of your storage is full if lightly contaminated water. So you decide to release the water with 1 unit so that you can now capture the water with 1000 units.

    The net result is a 1000x decrease in contamination, not an increase.

    These idiots writing these stories are a bigger problem than the radiation is.

  69. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    EPA has to detect CO2, its more dangerous :P

    http://www.naturalnews.com/031963_radiation_exposure.html

  70. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    I don’t know, they crapped on for so long about BP’s little spill, but hey it’s ok to dump nuclear waste into the sea, and nobody bats an eyelid.

    Let me think which one will be there longer, oil or radioactive elements?

    There is no need to use these useless old reactors, we have heaps of coal and oil!

  71. George says:

    It isn’t “nuclear waste”, it is water contaminated with a very low level of contamination. It is likely the reactor water from unit 4 that was recently unloaded. They probably hold the water for a while, let the I-131 and Cs-134 decay, then filter out the Cs-137 with a charcoal filter and re-use it. In this case they probably just dumped it because it is so low in contamination compared to the water that is leaking.

    This from NHK:

    Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says it has stopped radioactive water leaking from a concrete pit outside the No.2 reactor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

    On Tuesday, the plant operator drilled a hole into a layer of gravel around the pit, and poured a hardening agent called liquid glass, or sodium silicate, to stop the leak of highly radioactive water into the sea.

    TEPCO says the flow was confirmed to have stopped on Wednesday morning, and that there has since been no change in the water level in the pit and the nearby turbine building.

    Workers are looking for more possible cracks through which the water could leak out.

    Meanwhile, TEPCO is continuing to release about 8,000 tons of wastewater contaminated with low-level radiation into the sea to make room in storage tanks for highly contaminated water. It says about 6,000 tons of water have already been released.

    The company is also continuing to spray a synthetic resin solution on the plant’s premises to prevent radioactive dust from becoming airborne.

    Debris and dust contaminated with radioactive material have been scattered across the compound by a series of explosions at the No.1 through No.3 reactors.

    On Wednesday, the resin solution was sprayed over a 300 square meter area around a pool for spent nuclear fuel.

    Remember that there are buildings that have been blown wide open. It rains in Japan, often quite heavily. Supposed to rain Saturday, in fact. There is going to be all sorts of contaminated runoff for a while. That stuff in the tank is nothing compared to what is in that unit 2 basement.

    But we aren’t talking about levels of radiation that can hurt anyone here. We are talking about levels that make really great scary news stories but they aren’t going to make anyone sick.

  72. E.M.Smith says:

    @George & Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    Well, there is international law and there isn’t…

    There is an attempt to create international law, and a growing body of it (and of practitioners) along with international courts. But countries have to volunteer to be subject to them…

    Which begs the question of if and when a country can “opt out”… It also begs the question of the US constitutional phrase that says the constitution and treaties signed are both the supreme law of the land if that means a treaty can overrule the constitution. While I think it is obvious the answer is “no”; I’d also thought it obvious the constitution said that paper money was not legal, only gold and silver were allowed… and that only congress can start a war… and…

    So most likely “Yes, international law was broken” and “so what? who cares?”…

    Oh, and the “legislative method” is via treaties signed, not an elected body…

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    You are straying from “news updates” about Japan and into the area of “nuclear politics”. Please throttle it back…

    The “naturalnews” site is clearly an advocacy site with an agenda, and I don’t think we particularly need it here as part of a food fight (the agenda, that is).

    Yes, some iodine is going into the ocean. But equally yes: The ocean is a very big place and it WILL be diluted to irrelevance very quickly. Also, IIRC, the half life of the iodine is shorter than the half life of oil by a large margine. (IIRC its on the order of 30 minutes vs 1 day) so in fact the oil will hang around longer than the iodine. (but both drop to ‘irrelevant’ so fast as to be really amazing).

    So please remember that more people will get more radiation exposure from staying inside a brick building and way more if they go into a cement basement with poor ventilation than they will ever get from Japan. (Radon is the #1 radiation risk for most folks…)

    http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

    * Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes (EPA 402-R-03-003).

    So you’ve got about a 20,000 death hurdle to jump over before it is “a big issue”…

    (For some reason we don’t worry about the familiar that is killing us and do worry about the odd thing that isn’t…)

    Fix your home if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter, or pCi/L, or higher.
    Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced.

    So reduce it to the recommended limit, but realize that still has problems… Gotta love the government…

    In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

    So how many of the folks having a panic attack over Japan are owners of a ‘tightly sealed home’ for energy savings, using cement and / or with a basement that is not ventilated, and of them how many are smokers?

    But they will not mitigate the “second leading cause of lung cancer” nor the first… they would rather panic over some water on the other side of the planet…

    http://www.epa.gov/radon/pdfs/zonemapcolor.pdf

    FWIW, my spouse was given a radiation diagnostic once. I was advised to avoid sleeping next to her for “a day or two”. We’re all still healthy…

    It can be instructive to walk around with a geiger counter some time. All sorts of natural rocks are radioactive. You even get some clicks straight from the sky.

    Maybe I ought to find where mine has gone off to … it takes a strange 20 V battery that may not be available any more… but it would be fun to fire it up again.

    (I once got to wander around inside a nuclear collider. There was a startling ramp up in click rate as you approached the target area. About 5 feet away, nothing much. 4 feet? Ramp starts. 3 feet? Woah! clicky clicky..

    Stuck one hand forward to about 2.5 feet but didn’t leave it there long as the counter it was holding was clearly doing a non-linear ramp with distance…

    Ah, the good old days… having “fun with nuclear chemistry” ;-)

  73. David says:

    George says “…If you try to use water with a bunch of other stuff in it, you are going to end up with all kinds of activation product when the atoms of the impurities undergo transmutation from all those neutrons flying around.”

    Wow, like Rodan and Godzilla??

  74. TGSG says:

    I’m with George. “international law” is a ridiculous idea in and of itself and makes a mockery of humans wanting to decide their own fate.

  75. E.M.Smith says:

    @David:

    Pauleez!

    How could you make a list like that and leave out Mothra!

  76. George says:

    Here is a fairly reasonable article but still has its pieces of speculation.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-fg-japan-reactor-damage-20110406,0,6240900.story

  77. Tim Clark says:

    E.M.Smith
    @George:

    One of THE best free radical scavengers is called “Vitamin C” the other is called “Vitamin E”.

    If exposed to radiation, the potassium iodide pill is nice ( IF there is radioactive iodine in the mix…) but I’d head for the Vit C&E bottles first

    But the best are called flavonoids. Wine, curcubits, brassacas.

  78. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tim Clark:

    OK, so if I’m seeing this right, we want an oyster stew made with canned oysters (iodine prior to nuclear release…) and cream from a Texas farm (out of release path), with a nice red or pink wine, a cucumber salad, and a side of steamed broccoli. Desert to be an orange sorbet with fresh slices of orange / mandarin as a base under the scoop…

    Perhaps a melon appetizer as starter?

    Does that about sum it up?

    “Disaster Perparedness” can be such fun… or (French accent please):

    “Just because it isz a disaster, that does not mean we must suffer, non?”

  79. George says:

    Bonne chance!

    I would probably eat a fish caught right offshore of the plant in about two weeks time, provided there are no additional major leaks of radioactive water.

  80. George says:

    eh, for a while. And then it will be gone. Then what?

  81. Hugo M says:

    In an article of the German journal “eigentümlich frei” (which appears to be a conservative forum, but conservative in the best possible sense; I know them only because they published articles authored by John Laughland in the past) Naomi Braun-Ferenczy presented something like a statistical analysis (I should better call it an educated guess) of the real number of Tsunami victims, which is based upon the relation of the percentage of victims to the degree of destruction in 28 Japanese cities along a (cartographically smoothed) coastline of 1000 km. His conclusion is:

    Based on this projection, the total death toll is 120000. This figure is thus four times greater than the sum of officially reported dead or missing.

    By the way, the determined total number of victims is consistent with the figure drawn from a simple comparison method: Officially, the tsunami made 590000 people homeless, which must now remain in temporary shelters. If one subtracts from the calculated number of about 710000 persons concerned (population less proportionately undisturbed areas of the cities) 590000 homeless people, that still leaves 120000 people, which must therefore be deemed as missing or dead. It is feared that the missing persons who have not appeared yet again three weeks after the quake need to be counted among the dead.

    In context of this thread, the question is

    … as to why the scale of this disaster has so far not even worked up by the Japanese media. On can only speculate: [...]

    In addition, effects of the Tsunami are superimposed by the threat of nuclear disaster in Fukushima in the media. Moreover, the Japanese press as well as the entire economy including the insurance industries, are of a corporatist structure, id est heavily intertwined with state institutions and thus indirectly also subject to direct government control. The estimated total damage of the Tohoku earthquake of 300 billion U.S. dollars would be much too liberal, even if that number represents the largest ever identified damage caused by a natural disaster in human history. The overall extent of human losses and material damage are likely to ruin the Japanese insurance industry completely and pull the world into devastating economic consequences. So there is a huge interest to deal with corresponding figures extremely reluctantly. Possibly the focus of global media on the accident in Fukushima is not exactly inconvenient.

    This somewhat spruced translation was based upon Google’s wash. Here is the article url:
    http://ef-magazin.de/2011/04/05/2943-japan-moeglicherweise-120000-tsunami-opfer

    and here an Excel sheet with data from the 28 cities provided by the author:
    http://www.libertaere-liste.de/japantsuanmi.xls

  82. Hugo M says:

    Compatible with the explication given by Braun-Ferenczy above was the news that a huge effort of the western banks was underway, which aimed to push down the rising value of the Japanese currency after the earthquake. Because they need to buy huge amounts of materials after the wide spread destruction, the net effect was certainly not in the proper interest of the Japanese people.

  83. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    It’ll be gone, what the gas, your kidding, there is 300 years worth LOL

  84. Francisco says:

    Latest video report from Arnold Gundersen

    http://vimeo.com/22062314

    I find the reports from this guy very informative. Calm, clear, certainly not meant to induce anxiety, but not exactly reassuring either.

  85. David says:

    E.M.Smith
    @David:

    “Pauleez!

    How could you make a list like that and leave out Mothra!”

    Oversight corrected. Note; he is just a little guy now, but it has only been a few weeks.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_aQWBPiXvoQE/SsmBV97WcyI/AAAAAAAAAHE/NJ2bHP2G4Nw/s1600-h/07-03-08_1631.jpg

  86. Chuckles says:

    These may be of interest, note the links to further photos at the top –

    http://cryptome.org/eyeball/daiichi-npp4/daiichi-photos4.htm

    And George, a tip of the lead lined hat to you for your informative and useful comments and ongoing attempts to inject a bit of sanity and proportion. Keep up the good work!

  87. Tim Clark says:

    Oops!

    Magnitude 7.1 – NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
    2011 April 07 14:32:41 UTC
    Versión en Español
    DetailsSummaryMapsScientific & TechnicalTsunami Additional InfoEarthquake Details
    This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
    Magnitude 7.1
    Date-Time Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 14:32:41 UTC
    Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 11:32:41 PM at epicenter
    Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

    Location 38.253°N, 141.640°E
    Depth 49 km (30.4 miles)
    Region NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
    Distances 66 km (41 miles) E of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
    114 km (70 miles) E of Yamagata, Honshu, Japan
    116 km (72 miles) ENE of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
    330 km (205 miles) NNE of TOKYO, Japan

  88. George says:

    Today’s headlines are all:

    “OH MY GOD, PLUTONIUM found in the soil!!!!!!111!!!!eleven!!!!”

    Here is a link to the document describing that plutonium discovery:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110406e22.pdf

    Basically, it is the same level that you are likely to find in any back yard in Japan, or the US for that matter. So yup, they did find a few specks of the stuff, but at a concentration consistent with that found in normal domestic soils.

    But see how the “news industry” cranks up a huge story about it? It generates ad views. ABC news, for example, is all:

    Fragments of incredibly dangerous nuclear fuel were blown out of the reactors “up to one mile from the units,”

    Which is patently false. Nothing was “blown out of the reactors” let alone ripped open primary containment and blown debris a mile away. That is just a flat out lie. What is more likely is that bits of contamination that had been caught in various filters, duct work, etc. got blown about when the top floors of those buildings blew up in a hydrogen explosion but in any case, the contamination levels are so low that they are within normal background levels, yet the fear mill goes on.

  89. George says:

    Also, the size and location of today’s quake isn’t all that unusual. Here is a map of M7+ quakes in that location.

    http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eq_depot/2011/eq_110407_c0002ksa/neic_c0002ksa_7.jpg

    The star is today’s quake.

    Note that map is only quakes M7 or larger. There’s been a lot of them in that area.

  90. E.M.Smith says:

    @Hugo M:

    Frankly, that is what really frosts my shorts….

    I was watching this unfold and there was a shot of just ONE very SMALL town on the coast. It was entirely swept away to nothing. It had a ‘sea wall’ and they were interviewing a survivor up on the hillside who said, basically, most folks stayed home because they had the sea wall…

    The town was over 10,000 population and at the time the Japannese media were reporting 1200 or so total dead for Japan.

    Another city of 50,000 was similarly gone.

    I’ve made a few subtile references to this, figuring I’d be polite and let the MSM and Japanese official sources “catch up” their totals as they got confirmation of the reality on the ground. But at this point the failure to recognize what has happened and how big a deal the non-nuclear part of this event truely is; well, it’s starting to wear too thin.

    There is at least a 6 figure death toll, IMHO. Someone needs to put up a list of the cities that are just gone. Entirely gone. And their populations. And ask “Where are these people now?”

    BTW, for the life insurance company to pay out on the dead, someone must make a claim. If you and all your family are washed away and dead, who will make the claim? Your niece 3 removed on the other island who doesn’t even know if you are dead? I don’t know what the statute of limitations might be in Japan for claims, but I’m sure the insurance companies do…

    @Chuckles:

    Spectacular set of photos!

    @Tim Clark:

    See:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/quakes-japan-7-1/

    @George:

    I find it amazing that folks get excited about Pu.

    Yes, it is used to make bombs. That is exactly why it isn’t very much of an issue to folks near it. The 25,000 years to decay is a FEATURE as it means “low radioactivity”.

    Somehow the notion that activity is inverse to lifetime escapes most folks, especially the MSM “story makers”…

    Frankly, I’d love to have a few grams of Pu. I’d probably keep it in a lead-glass jar, for the occasional stray neutron, but mostly it’s an alpha emitter so any old glass beaker or tin can would do for them. The other secondary product is a beta, so also not so bad.

    The most important isotope of plutonium is plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,100 years. Plutonium-239 is the isotope most useful for nuclear weapons. Plutonium-239 and 241 are fissile, meaning the nuclei of their atoms can break apart by being bombarded by slow moving thermal neutrons, releasing energy, gamma radiation and more neutrons. These can therefore sustain a nuclear chain reaction, leading to applications in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors.

    Plutonium-238 has a half-life of 88 years and emits alpha particles. It is a heat source in radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which are used to power some spacecraft. Plutonium-240 has a high rate of spontaneous fission, raising the neutron flux of any sample it is in. The presence of plutonium-240 limits a sample’s usability for weapons or reactor fuel, and determines its grade. Plutonium isotopes are expensive and inconvenient to separate, so particular isotopes are usually manufactured in specialized reactors.

    So one isotope is so stable it just istn’t going to be making much of anything at any given time. The other one spits alpha particles that are stopped by the dead layer of your skin. The Pu-240 would be an issue, so I’d want a low 240 level. Then again, the “high rate” means “gone fast”, so an old sample would likely do… Pu-241 is a beta emitter, but has a 14 yr half life so is gone pretty quick. Some W.W.II Pu is not going to have a lot left…

    Yeah, bad idea to eat the stuff, and it will react with moist air to make “bad dust”, so you need to paint it or keep it in dry air (thus the glass jug).

    More details here:

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

    I’d be far far more worried about the short lifetime very hot things from the fuel than I would be about the Pu.

    There is a curve. On one end is “very hot, gone very fast” at the other end is “very low risk, gone over centuries to thousands of years”. It’s the stuff in the middle that’s the problem. “Hot enought to hurt and not gone for years to decades”.

    OH, and remember that unlike chemical contamination where you have to baically know what you are looking for to find it AND must test every single surface to find irregular deposits: With nuclear contamination you can survey the area with a radiation meter and find every last hot spot rapidly and effectively and non-destructively.

    So all the worry about “It’s radioactive and it’s spread around in pellets” is just silly. I’d be much more worried about “some toxic chemical goo that got splattered around” as the odds you would ever test all the surfaces and subsurface area to “find it all” are NIL. But walk around with your radiation detector and you will find all the hot spots to clean / dig up / pick up and put in a baggy.

    Take a PCB or similar filled electrical transformer. Blow it up. Now you have “splatters” of “persistent toxic chemical” all over. How do you find them all? Swab a 10 block area with chem wipes and Q-tips testing each one in a lab to find the “hot spots”? AND it doesn’t just decay and go away on it’s own. Compare nuclear contamination: It flags where it is to a quick survey with a meter. The “hot stuff” goes away on it’s own very fast, and the “long lived stuff” by definition is not a significant radiation emitter.

    Basically, I’d rather be on a nuclear clean up crew than a toxic chemical clean up crew. And I’d rather be on both of them than on a biological agent crew… A “toxic” that moves on it’s own and that grows given the chance is not on my list of friends…

  91. Francisco says:

    Hiroaki Koide, nuclear researcher at Kyoto University, on April 5

    This is from the transcript of the interview (in Japanese) Koide gave on April 5, 2011 on Osaka’s MBS Mainichi Broadcasting Radio:

    – What was too optimistic?

    “We thought the reactors “cold stopped”, which means the uranium fission stopped. But now I’ve started to think the fission has started again. In other words, the reactor has become “critical” again – which we call “recriticality”.”

    – Professor Koide, you were of the opinion that the recriticality was not happening.

    “Yes, and I’ve changed my mind. It may be happening.”

    – On what evidence?

    “First, the level of iodine[-131] is not decreasing; it is increasing. Iodine[-131]‘s half life is 8 days. It has been more than 3 weeks since the accident, so the level of iodine[-131] should be about 1/10 of the initial level measured. Second, the presence of chlorine-38 was detected from the contaminated water in the turbine building [he doesn't say which one].”

    – What about chlorine-38?

    “Well, if chlorine-38 was detected [according to TEPCO], and that can only mean “recriticality”.

    Chlorine-37 is a stable isotope, and it exists in salt in the sea water. TEPCO had poured literally tons and tons of sea water into the Reactor Pressure Vessels at Fukushima. The way the stable chlorine-37 becomes highly unstable chlorine-38 (half-life 37 minutes) is for chlorine-37 to acquire a neutron.

    The only way for neutrons to be present near chlorine-37 is for uranium to go critical and emit neutrons.

    That’s also what Fairewinds Associates’ Arnie Gunderson said in his April 3 video, and that’s probably why IAEA mentioned the possibility of “recriticality” on March 30 –> http://vimeo.com/21881702

  92. George says:

    The only way for neutrons to be present near chlorine-37 is for uranium to go critical and emit neutrons.

    False.

    There are plenty of neutrons flying around in there. Just not enough to create a chain reaction. The control rods are absorbing them. The water is in direct contact with the fuel rods which are emitting neutrons.

    Besides, they came off the cl-38 claim early on when they said they screwed up the isotope analysis.

    But it doesn’t matter, I guarantee you that there is cl-38 in there.

  93. George says:

    Also there is plenty of Pu-240 in those fuel rods that fissions all by itself spontaneously (delayed neutrons vs prompt neutrons).

    U-238 +n = P-239 +n (P-239 usually fissions but sometimes makes) P-240 which will fission spontaneously and at random and release additional neutrons.

  94. Hugo M says:

    George,

    what about the I-131 activity. Is it really increasing again? I’m a bit confused by Prof. Koide’s statement, because he used the loose term “recriticality”, obviously even enclosed in audible quotation marks.

  95. George says:

    The I-131 is going to increase as they vent gas from unit 1. The water in those units has a LOT of I-131. It is extremely water soluble (cesium iodide which is in an ionic sense a lot like potassium iodide) and will be present in any steam released. So the amount of I-131 contamination on land is going to pretty much depend on which way the wind is blowing.

    Now the total I-131 in those reactors drops by half every 8 days. So there have been almost 4 half-lives pass since the reactors were shut down. We absolutely know the reactors aren’t critical because the temperatures are still falling and are well below 200C without any coolant except pump and vent.

    So there would now be about 12.5% as much I-131 in those units now as when they first shut down. That means they can vent more steam and maintain the same level of release. So I wouldn’t look at changes in I-131 levels to mean much unless viewed in the context of “which way has the wind been blowing” and “how much venting has been done”. So if you have a vent cycle on day one and a vent cycle twice as long on day eight you are going to end up with the same amount of I-131 release.

  96. E.M.Smith says:

    I’d also note that if they were worried about needing to soak up some more neutrons, just dumping a load of borate on the things would soak them up. So “IFF” there were ‘recriticality’ it’s a trivial fix. But you just don’t want to go dumping stuff all over the place and “fixing things” until you know for certain what you are fixing….

    (For example, if the increased I-131 was from a concrete crack letting it leak, dumping some added tons of borate on it would be a ‘bad idea’…)

  97. Bruce Ryan says:

    The videos I have seen are distressing, the cities involved are basically destroyed. Everything other than concrete is going to be replaced and the concrete cleaned. When the bottom three floors of a structure are under sea water everything is called into question. Electricity, plumbing, low voltage wiring. Then you have the total replacement of everything inside that building. Computers, chairs, carpet, sheetrock, coffeemakers.

    Recyclers, haulers and clean up.
    Now, what does a sea dependent city do, rebuild? Increase the sea wall, move up the mountainside? What keeps the sea wall up in an earthquake? How does one build into this environment? Encapsulate every building in a ship shaped concrete vessel?
    So now we are back to the brave or foolish taking on the jobs and locations wiser men won’t.
    A business with the ability though, has to think relocation.

    My question, what percent of Japan do these flooded towns represent. Is it a half dozen towns of 10,000, or less?

  98. Francisco says:

    I suppose it all hinges on the precise meaning of “criticality” or “transient criticality” in this case, and on whether or not there were “bursts of neutrons in large quantities,” a statement that Tepco at some point made but then retracted, like they retracted the statement about large quantities of Cl-38, and the Tellurium 129, as well as radiation measurements in the ocean waters nearby.

    On April 3 there was an article a Time magazine blog quoting Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, a neutrino physicist in Monterey, who also said pretty much the same thing as Koide and Gunersen:

    “Dalnoki-Verress did some calculations and came to the conclusion that the only possible way this neutron interaction could have occurred was the presence of transient criticalities in pockets of melted fuel in the reactor core.”

    The article ends with two updates, the first quoting another nuclear expert who is skeptical about these claims because he doesn’t trust Tepco’s reports, and the second by another nuclear expert from the IAEA saying there may indeed be “re-criticality”.

    Every commenter has an opinion.

    http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/03/30/has-fukushimas-reactor-no-1-gone-critical/

    Update: Edwin Lyman, a nuclear safety expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Ecocentric that he is skeptical of Dalnoki-Veress’s thesis, not because the math or physics was faulty but because he does not trust the accuracy of TEPCO’s reporting of high levels of CL-38. In an email, he wrote, “I think, given the error they committed in Unit 2 (first reporting a huge concentration of I-134, which wasn’t actually there), I’d be wary of attributing too much significance to a single anomalous measurement.”

    Update 2: The IAEA has said that the Fukushima nuclear power plant may have achieved re-criticality. “There is no final assessment,” IAEA nuclear safety director Denis Flory said at a press conference on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg News. “This may happen locally and possibly increase the releases.”

    Assessment seems to fall often along ideological or interest lines, except when they don’t.

    In this video: http://vimeo.com/22062314 Gundersen mentions a large French nuclear corporation called Areva. He says there was an invitation-only meeting held at Stanford University on March 21st (reported by the NYT on the 23rd) where Areva made a presentation. In this report by Areva, which Gundersen got a hold of, it is said that all 3 reactors reached 5000 deg C, which is beyond the melting point of the containment metals. It also says that an explosion in unit 2 (the one that seems intact from the outside) did have a hydrogen explosion that breached the containment. It also says a few other things about food contamination. Gundersen ends the update by quoting from something said by the Areva person who made the presentation:
    “Clearly we are witnessing one of the greatest disasters in modern time”

    So, when you hear a guy from the industry in a private meeting saying things like that, you begin to wonder why on the other hand there is so much emphasis all over the place in insisting this is not that big a deal. I thought so at the beginning. I don’t think so anymore.

  99. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I’m always careful about the proclamations of unconnected EXPERTS as an EXPERT is a former drip under pressure. ;-) pg

  100. E.M.Smith says:

    @Francisco:

    Nobody has a clue what is happening inside the closed structures. They are guessing based on what they see on the outside. Yes, some of the guesses are educated guesses, but still guesses.

    To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever run a reactor on sea water. There will be guesses about what happens then, but the total number of “things” in sea water makes calculating the products darned near impossible.

    Stir in the fact that the exact physical arrangement of the rods (post explosion) in the spent fuel pools is also unknown, and it’s just a large crap shoot.

    So I’d not put much store in anything some guy not on site said. Even the folks who are on site are having trouble figuring out what’s happening.

    Did added I-131 show up because of “recriticality” or because some cladding got corroded from an unexpected by product of sea water irradiation? Or from a more highly contaminated bit of water “communicating” through cracks in the basement? (i.e. did water from pool A leak into pool B and folks now think pool B must have criticality when really just pool A which was way hotter had some leak over?) Or are the guages just all toast from being exploded?

    My guess, and it’s only a guess, just like everyone else’s guess, though based on much less info than the folks on the ground there… is that the tops of the fuel bundles in the spent fuel pools got over heated and then when hit with a load of cold water had some stress fractures. Adding sea water has made the “reaction products” into an unexpected soup and they are trying to predict based on the chemistry / physics they learned with pure water and it’s not quite coming up right. (i.e. add 50 pounds of Pacific Mussles to the fuel pool does exactly what to the I-131 levels again?…)

    That the core temps are ‘way low’ compared to what they were means not a lot of reaction going on. That the containments are holding pressure says they are not breached. IMHO, it’s not about the cores nor the reactors. It’s all about the spent fuel pools…

    THAT is what was ignored until things started to blow up from the hydrogen they forgot about… and I’d guess that is where the problem will be found. A bunch of explosion ‘reformed’ ends where fragments of “crap” in the above deck got blown around in the explosions and landed in the pool on the tops of the rods that had boiled to ‘partly exposed’ and “hot and soft” (compared to cold hardness). THEN a load of cold water dumped on it to ‘cold shock’ and do what to any annealing and cause what thermal cracks? Now add sea water and stir…

    At that point saying “we’ve got a bit high {foo}” does not tell you much at all about ‘recriticality’. (Though temperatures might… IFF they have good monitoring throughout the spent fuel pools that I’m pretty sure they don’t have…)

    IMHO, the best thing they could do is get a large crane in there and start lifting stuff off the tops of the spent fuel pools, then see if they can snag some bundles out and ship them off somewhere… But since the downside of stirring that pool with a large steel stick and / or dropping a few tons on the floor, would be “very bad” I understand their desire to go slow…

    But until we have eyes on that stuff and /or the lids off the containments, folks are just guessing; even if very educated guesses…

  101. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Iodine is not really the problem, its half life is pretty short, Cesium is the problem which has much longer a half life.

  102. E.M.Smith says:

    @Melaga View:

    I’d be pretty careful about that “vimeo” link as Arnold is half of a husband / wife team that are the proprietors of that Fairewinds company. What does the company profile say?

    We specialize in environmental and energy litigation and federal and state administrative law, and we strive to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients. Our technical research and paralegal services are thorough and therefore enable our clients to make timely decisions regarding possible intervention, administrative law hearings, or preparation for litigation.

    So you are taking your ‘advice’ from someone who make a living by suiing folks over things like this and that will in many cases settle for a pile of money for “emotional distress”… so if they help make a load of “emotional distress” they get?….

    I doubt that they would outright lie, but would not expect them to be completely neutral either. More like “as close to the edge of advocacy as you can get away with”…

    Kind of like asking Ralph Nader his opinion of the newest Chevy… or a Honda Motorcycle…

    In his presentation, I spotted a few cases of “he can’t know that”, but they typically are also things where the negative also can not be shown as true.

    For example “If they all shut down at the same time how can they have different Iodine levels? It just can’t happen.” Well, it can. Different fuel histories and different power levels mean different loads of daughter products. Also, the different spent fuel pools will have had different histories and different physical damage in the different explosions. He speaks as though the spent fuel pools were meaningless and did nothing… And did they all get the same amounts of sea water at the same time? And with the same temperature at that time? And the same corrosion or stress fractures?

    Another? The presence of Tellurium ( I think it was). He said nothing at all about “how much”. Nuclear reactions do not drop to zero when the reactor is shut down, just to very very slow. So there will be some of the various daughter products in any case. It’s all about “how much”. He doesn’t say “how much”.

    So maybe he’s the nicest most honest guy on the planet. Or maybe he just expects to be booking a load of ‘expert witness’ fees from all the folks who he expects will file cases based on his “expert opinion”.

    The potential for “bias” is just too high to accept his opinion from the wrong side of the planet without some confirmation from unbiased folks closer to the action… IMHO.

  103. Chuckles says:

    Minor updates and clarifications have been added on the photo page linked in an earlier comment.

    I found this an interesting read as well –

    http://cryptome.org/0003/daiichi-assess.pdf

  104. Francisco says:

    Gundersen was an industry insider who became some kind of whistleblower in the 90s, so from that perspective you could say he does have a little ax to grind. But so do the current insiders who are running the show. You can read some of the details here –> http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2000/nn10410.htm

    On the other hand, blowing whistles in this industry is a preciously rare activity, because it requires unusual levels of integrity and readiness to see your career terminated — for that is the assured outcome. So the fact that he is a whistleblower should not by itself be given as something that invalidates his comments, which should be judged on their merit alone. Unless you believe that only those with an interest to preserve a good image for the industry, because they are inside it, should be listened to.

    Greg Palast was a lead investigator in some kind of racketeering civil suit against a builder of nuclear plants in the 80s, and has recently written an article sharing a few things he learned in those days, while commenting on the fact that Tokyo Electric is going to be building nuclear plants in the US –> http://www.gregpalast.com/no-bs-info-on-japan-nuclearobama-invites-tokyo-electric-to-build-us-nukes-with-taxpayer-funds/

    One of the things he mentions is that whistleblowing, while still very very rare, is at least always a possibility in the US, while in Japan it is rather unthinkable.

    “The US, he says “has a long history of whistleblowers willing to put themselves on the line to save the public. In our racketeering case in New York, the government only found out about the seismic test fraud because two courageous engineers, Gordon Dick and John Daly, gave our team the documentary evidence.”

    “In Japan, it’s simply not done. The culture does not allow the salary-men, who work all their their lives for one company, to drop the dime.”

    “Not that US law is a wondrous shield: both engineers in the New York case were fired and blacklisted by the industry. Nevertheless, the government (local, state, federal) brought civil racketeering charges against the builders. The jury didn’t buy the corporation’s excuses and, in the end, the plant was, thankfully, dismantled.”

    On March 15, Money Week had an article titles “The appalling track record of Japan’s nuclear industry” and some of the stuff mentioned inspires very little confidence in the many songs that keep singing the extraordinary “safety” of this source of energy –> http://www.moneyweek.com/blog/the-appalling-track-record-of-japans-nuclear-industry-00336

    Seldom if ever have I gone through a period of 4 weeks where my views on some topic have been so thoroughly trashed. I started out like many people around here shaking my head at the level of incoherent alram coming out in some of the initial coverage. I now think that nuclear energy, in its present form (uranium fission) needs to be rethought very thoroughly, not cheered on mindlessly out of sheer inertia and belief in the wonders of technology. The world has some 400 nuclear plants that produce some 15% of world electricity. Cheering for this thing in its present form in order to multiply the number of plants by some factor or other, will only increase the probability of these kinds of messes by the same factor, claims to the contrary notwhithstanding. And these are not ordinary messes that can be compared to any other disasters based on immediate damage, immediate deathts and so on. They are on a class of their own for what seem to me pretty obvious reasons, and these reasons I will at some point describe in more detail. For the moment I’ll say this: I keep hearing about the marvelous possibilities of thorium, and also of fusion, which are supposed to eliminate most of what makes uranium fission potentially very messy and costly. I am all for abundant energy. Yes. I don’t think I will ever like to try “living off the grid”, though I have some respectfor the people who do try. So I would not be against anything that appears to me reasonably safe, whatever it is. But I have to say that this industry in its present state seems far from that mark. I shudder at the thought of a world going from hundreds of these plants, to thousands of them, with these kinds of messes gradually becoming an accepted tradeoff for the energy we get out of them, thanks to repeated siren songs about the irrelevance of contaminating more and more of the planet with these kinds of poisons, whose life, from a human timeframe perspective, is almost eternal. I also should say that most of the arguments I keep hearing in attempts to dismiss the two largest messes we’ve had, both in a span of 25 years, on the grounds that they are “exceptional”, seem to me rather ludicrous. Should we only take into account accidents that are “routine” instead of “exceptional”, like the long list of relatively “minor” known accidents and the unknown number of unknown ones that must have been succesfully kept in?

    Same goes for the attempts to dismiss the health effects of radioactivity, and the absurd comparisons between radiation from an airplane trip with what happens when a radiation source gets inside your body from inhalation or ingestion, and it stays there bombing you from the inside. Let’s apply our imagnation to picturing the life of a cell, millions of cells, who happen to be in the tissues that surround radioactive sources inside your body, and have to put up with that kind of vandalism, doing full time repairs for months (in the case of iodine) or forever in the case of most of the other vandals. You guys compare these things with an airplane trip or a chest x-ray?

    I have to go but I may put down some more thoughs later.

  105. Bernie McCune says:

    @ Bruce Ryan
    (a bit off topic but perhaps of interest)

    Iwate prefecture is one of the least populated on the main island of Honshu (close to the density of Hokkaido – the northern island).

    Miyagi and Iwate coastal towns have been truly devastated (Fortunately the cities just a few kilometers from the coast and all the other cities in those prefectures are safe). Most of the rest of the country except for some of the Fukushima coastal areas have been untouched. I know that the city of Miyako, Iwate has some large gates and walls but those folks take tsunamis very very seriously and most would have tried to get to high ground. It is built in a very narrow valley right next to the sea, so the high ground is very close and accessible (but the danger in the bottom of the valley is very large).

    I would not want to downplay the possible toll of misery here and it is clear that 100s of thousands of lives have been directly impacted but I doubt if there is much cover up in the figures coming out of the Japanese government. There are cases still where no one can really know but for the most part I would suspect that the most recent figures are probably getting into the ballpark.

    What I see of the damage to cities in Iwate where I have visited many times (Kamaishi, Miyako, Ofunato, Rikuzentakata and several others) is heartbreaking and terrible. And the people who survived the disaster – we can’t help them enough. Where is the help? Where is the discussion of their needs? It WEARS VERY THIN with me too about how the focus is taken from them and is trained on a non life threatening (at least in scope) disaster such as Dai-ichi PS.

    Bernie

  106. Malaga View says:

    @ E.M. Smith
    but would not expect them to be completely neutral either.
    I don’t think anyone is entirely NEUTRAL… some people are wearing Rose Tinted Spectacles… some are wearing Dark Tinted Spectacles… where the truth lies is a value judgement based upon experience, knowledge and trust… that is why I tried to understand the Chernobyl experience… trying to understand what happened… trying to understand what is known… trying to understand what can be done… trying to understand who can be trusted… while we watch and wait for the Fukushima dust to settle.

    My personal value judgement is towards the dark side… my understanding is that the Nuclear Industry is like the Medical Profession – they very conveniently bury their mistakes… it appears that the Nuclear Industry / Regulators / Governments / Military are all purposely closing their eyes to the truth… if they don’t look it in the eye then it doesn’t exist / hasn’t happened… but others will it differently – no problem… such is life.

    External exposure to radiation is mainly a proximity lottery… ingestion of radioactive particles is a bigger risk and a bigger geographic lottery dependant upon winds, rain and currents… and with each new release / accident there are more lottery winners… it is a prize that keeps on giving… and it is a state run lottery that I cannot control or influence… so it goes.

  107. Malaga View says:

    @ Francisco
    Your well written response very much mirrors my own personal journey over the last few weeks… perhaps my eyes have become more sensitive to the comments of shrills… perhaps the internet has activated my personal BS detector… either way it caused me to do a lot more research and digging… and I find that your conclusion is very sensible and very balanced:

    I now think that nuclear energy, in its present form (uranium fission) needs to be rethought very thoroughly, not cheered on mindlessly out of sheer inertia and belief in the wonders of technology.

  108. David says:

    Francisco

    I appreciate your thoughts, I just do not agree with your assumtions, for instance…”Cheering for this thing in its present form in order to multiply the number of plants by some factor or other, will only increase the probability of these kinds of messes by the same factor, claims to the contrary notwhithstanding.”

    To pretend that there has been no progress in nuclear saftey and the next 400 plants will not be safer then the first 400 is an assertion without evdience. I like others, disagree with your assesment of Chernobyl; do not accept the presumtion of radiation damage being linear; and assert that the effects of the current Japan nuclear crisis will remain far outweighed by the effects of the tusnami damage and loss of life in other areas.

    You state, “Seldom if ever have I gone through a period of 4 weeks where my views on some topic have been so thoroughly trashed.” I saw no trashing, I only saw opposing viewpoints, often presented with numerous links.

    I suggest that intead of re-asserting your position in such conversations, you instead focus directly on the assertions of the posts of those who disagree with you and address the evidence presented. This site is the most pure site I have had the pleasure of entering and calm stated discussions disagreeing with each other are welcome, to paraphrase, “it is not about anybody” In such an enviroment, disparate in viewpoint though we may be, we can grow in understanding together.

  109. David says:

    Francisco, I read the first link in your post and found a story of the trials of your whistle blower. He may be sincere and I feel for what he went through. This does not make him correct. The link ends like this…

    “He and Paul Blanch joined Dave Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington in March in asserting that the radiation release from Three Mile Island 20 years ago was from 4 to 15 times larger than the federal estimate.

    A judge in 1996 rejected all 2,100 claims that people had been hurt by the accident, but the trio and attorneys for the plaintiffs contend that the cases should be revived and tried before a jury, rather than a judge or the NRC.”

    I have not researched how much radiation was released. I have researched the studies of the damage and I am of the view that it was very minor, short and long term. If the radiation was in fact 4 to 15 times, (quite a apread) then it may be 4 to 15 times more evidence of the non linear reduced effects done by radiation.

    Likewise, did you read the WHO report on Chernobyl, involving over 100 international scientist?

  110. David says:

    Francisco here are my up front concerns with your second link…

    “In 1995, there was a major leak at Monju, a fast breeder reactor. The authorities (as represented by Donen which managed Japan’s nuclear programme) said it was “minimal.” It wasn’t. Instead it was the largest accident of its type ever. In the world.”

    Sounds serious, however it does not define, “major leak” and does not define what, if any, were the adverse consequences.
    Nor does it say what is meant by “largest accident of its type ever. In the world.”

    “…However this level of secrecy was nothing next to what happened in 1997. Then drums filled with nuclear waste exploded at the Tokai plant just north of Tokyo. This was – or should have been – a particular worry given that only three years earlier it had been discovered that 70kgs of plutonium (enough for 20 bombs) had been lost in the plant’s pipes at some point.”

    Again, what kind of waste, how much radiation, what were the consequences? The last sentance is odd indeed. I am curious what George would make of it.

    Yet Donen simply pretended everything was fine. Managers pressurized workers to say the fire was under control when it was not and mis-stated the amount of material leaked by a factor of 20. But that’s not all. Incredibly, says Kerr, “on the day of the explosion, 64 people including science and engineering students and foreign trainees toured the complex… and no one ever informed them of the accident.”

    Again such assertions need evidence, but I do belive advocacy can sway people, but again, were the 64 people present harmed?

    …”The list of the madness is almost endless. There was the later accident at the Tokai plant which degenerated into uncontrolled fission (something it took the authorities seven hours to figure out as they couldn’t find a neutron measurer) and revealed that for years workers had been disposing of nuclear materials with buckets (rather than dissolution cylinders).”

    Sorry, again this sounds odd, “uncontrolled fission”, and again no discussion of the harm done.

    …”Then there were the 2,000 drums of radioactive waste stored in drums in pits filled with rainwater…”

    OK, I do not suppose they were wine drums, was it safe, were people harmed?

    …”Many secrets on (included 11 leaks of tritium in two and a half years) Donen was sort of shut down. I say sort of because it actually just carried on as before. Same staff and same ethos. Just with a different name – Genden”

    11 leaks of tritium”, How much, what were the consequences?

    In short Francisco, I find this to be a weak one sided article, begging for a great deal more research before finding a great fear factor justified.

    Sincerely
    David

  111. E.M.Smith says:

    @Francisco:

    It’s not the whistleblower aspect that causes a flag of doubt to be raised. It’s the “make money off lawsuits” part…

    FWIW, I still remember when they found that a nuclear plant had some “issues” as the blueprints were backwards and they had built some of it ‘the wrong way around’…

    So it’s not like I’m all “gung ho, they can do no wrong”. It’s just that given a choice of:

    1) Live downstream of a large earthen dam
    2) Live down wind of a large coal burner
    3) Live next to a nuclear plant

    I’d take #3 in a moment.

    I’ve done #1 … and the quake kind of made me a mite nervous…

    I’ve looked at #2 (and we voted it down).

    I’ve almost done #3 (about 10 miles away, not exactly ‘next door’ but close enough for nuclear work ;-) and it was “not an issue”…

    And while I love the looks of windmills, living near them would drive me batty (I don’t like the shadow flicker and the noise would drive me up a wall…) and the way they make “raptor burger” is nearly criminal when you look at the effort we put into trying to recover birds like the California Condor…

    Per Thorium:

    IMHO a fair amount of hype in it. It’s a nice fuel. We have a lot of it. You CAN make bombs from U233 and to say Thorium reactors are protective from bomb diversion is, er, not true… It changes the ‘waste profile’ in degree more than kind. It’s a ‘nice step forward’, but then again, so is the current generation of reactors compared to the GE Mark I generation…

    Also, FWIW, while I’m of the opinion that the hype over this particular nuclear event is overblown: I’m also of the opinion that TEPCO has managed it horridly and NOT in the public interest. Heard a claim they only have 300 dosimeters and 600 workers so were sending some in without dosimeters. (Don’t know the verasity) Well, one holler and a helicopter run and you’ve got more dosimeters.

    So no, I’m not particularly embracing of TEPCO.

    Furthermore, to put the spent fuel pool a couple of stories up, covered only by a tin roof, and with an “explode the roof off if the power goes out” design is, IMHO, nearly criminal. I know, it’s an old design… BUT it is still in use all around the world.

    I will guarantee you that at this moment (if they have not already got it done) there are terrorist nuts mapping all the GE Mark I reactor locations and plotting the best way to crash a plane of explosives onto the spent fuel pools. Who needs to get nuclear material when you just need to bring the explosives to the pool to make a GIANT dirty bomb?

    Yeah, that’s a BIG problem…

    But at the same time, a decent storage area in a hard rock mine is all it would really take to “fix it”. (I’d be against all the ‘sequester in salt’ and ‘make glass’ systems for the simple reason that there is a lot of energy left in that fuel and in the future it will be important to reprocess it…)

    So I’m of “2 minds” on the thing. “Nuclear is fine and we can use it to power the world, it can be made as safe as anything else and safer than most” along with “How come these jerks keep doing stupid things, and designing systems that crap out so horridly? Then 1/2 the time go for the cover up?”

    (Please note: Those are FEELINGS, no actual data need apply to summary emotional attitude toward things… That comes in the ‘analysis work through it stage’ later…)

    At any rate, I’m pretty sure TEPCO has dealt a TMI sized blow to their own industry and a Chernobyl size blow to themselves…

    @Melaga View:

    Ever visit Nevada? Utah? Then you have breathed in and ingested radioactive materials.

    It’s all about the size of the dose.

    As noted elsewhere: RADON is far more of an issue, by hundreds of times, than anything we will see from Japan.

    How much effort have you and your neighbors put into Radon Mitigation?

    I will have a hard time being in a panic over power reactors as long as folks are happy to smoke and have the kids den in the unventilated basement…

    It’s looking at the 1/10 cent and ignoring the $100 bills…

    Yes, I think it’s a crappy reactor design (almost entirely an issue of the spent fuel pool and dependence on backup power, IMHO) and as new ones are better, I’d be all for decommisioning every single GE Mark I and replacing it with a passive safe design.

    But I see no reason to be in a tizzy over the radiation leak unless you live inside 50 miles of the reactor. And even then, radioactivity goes away all on it’s own. Chemical contamination does not.

    That’s a particularly important point to me as I live in the Serpentine zone of California:

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

    Serpentine soils are widely distributed on Earth, in part mirroring the distribution of ophiolites. Although it covers only about 1 percent of the state’s surface, the state rock of California is serpentine. One such area in California is the Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve. Serpentine soils also are present in small but widely distributed areas within the Appalachian mountains of eastern North America.

    http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/chemistry/Asbestos.html

    Natural asbestos is found in two varieties: serpentine asbestos and amphibole asbestos. Approximately 90% of serpentine is the variety chrysotile, while amphibole asbestos includes crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite asbestos, actinole asbestos, and tremolite asbestos.

    So we have folks who work in “Bunny suits” to “mitigate” that terrible internal carcinogen of asbestos. It is treated more seriously than a minor radiological accident.

    AND it is the state rock of California…

    It is literally the case there there are asbestos particles in the streams and rivers and blowing in the wind. All Natural.

    So tell me again why I ought to be all hot and bothered about a barely measurable increase in I-131 in California that will go away on it’s own over time while ignoring that 1% of the state is covered in asbestos and it does not go away?

    And it’s not just California:

    Serpentine barrens are a unique ecosystem found in parts of the United States in small but widely-distributed areas of the Appalachian Mountainss and the Coast Ranges of California, Oregon, and Washington. The barrens occur on outcrops of altered ultramafic ophiolites.
    [...]
    Unlike most ecosystems, in serpentine barrens there is less plant growth closer to a stream, due to toxic minerals in the water.

    and that is just one of thousands of similar points I could make.

    The point is not to excuse the stupid release of radioactivity from a dumb spent fuel pool design and “exploding reactor buildings”. It is to put it in perspective.

    We are surrounded by $1 and even $10 risks, and we have a panic over fractional penny sized risks…

    That’s just wrong.

    So, how many folks are going to pack up and leave California because of all the “toxic asbestos” in the place?

    How many will stop having basements in the midwest?

    How many will decide that smoking and drinking are over?

    How many will give up their cars? Their hair care products? Potatoes? You do know that solanine in potatoes is a poisonous toxin?…

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

    Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), such as the potato (Solanum tuberosum). It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. Solanine has fungicidal and pesticidal properties, and it is one of the plant’s natural defenses. Solanine was first isolated in 1820 by Desfosses from the berries of the European black nightshade (Solanum nigrum), after which it was named.
    [...]
    Solanine poisoning is primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, headache and dizziness. Death, hallucinations, loss of sensation, paralysis, fever, jaundice, dilated pupils and hypothermia have been reported in more severe cases.

    In large quantities, solanine poisoning can cause death. One study suggests that doses of 2 to 5 mg per kilogram of body weight can cause toxic symptoms, and doses of 3 to 6 mg per kilogram of body weight can be fatal
    [...]
    Commercial varieties of potatoes are screened for solanine levels, and most have a solanine content of less than 0.2 mg/g. However, potatoes that have been exposed to light and started to green can show concentrations of 1 mg/g or more. In these situations a single unpeeled potato can result in a dangerous dose.

    Yet we see bags of potatoes stacked in the supermarket under the nice bright lights…

    And where are the crowds of folks demanding that potatoes be stored in the dark in the stores?

    (I’ve actually had store managers look at me like I’m crazy when I’ve pointed out very green potatoes from being in a display that got sun on them and suggesting they ought not be sold… )

    So on the list of “lifes worries” a nuke disaster in Japan is just not even on the scale.

    Yet everyone is seeing it as a big deal…

    @David:

    Last I looked you could still get “Tritium Sights” for guns ;-)

    http://www.opticsplanet.net/tritium-fiber-optic-night-sights.html

    Somehow I’m not all that worried about the radiation risk from the tritium when compared to the .45 ACP under it ;-)

    BTW, somewhere I have a small bottle of duterium oxide… I thought about buying the tritium oxide at the time, but as it “goes away” on it’s own, I’d not have much tritium left by now… (it was about 35 years ago…)

    When I was a kid, I had a watch with a radium dial, too…

    Guess I’m just doomed to die in my 40s… Oh, wait, too late… already past them.

    The stark reality is that the asbestos dust I’ve breathed and swallowed from living in California and changing my own car brakes (when they had asbestos in them) is orders of magitude more hazardous to me than anything radioactive has been my entire life or is likely to be in the future. Even my time around the “neutron cannon” and the particle accelerator (and it’s activation products).

    The fact that my Dad smoked and for 18 years I breathed that stuff doesn’t help either.

    The fact that I grew up in farm country soaking in pesticides by the bucket is a much larger risk.

    The… the list goes on a long ways before you reach “radiation” risk…

    And you will note that the “Radiation Scary Scary” articles never give relative risk profiles… what’s more likely to kill you is running away from the radiation in your car. (Though, even knowing that, I’d be in the car… people are not rational. I am a “people”… )

  112. David says:

    Re E.M.Smith on 8 April 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Damm it, stop already, you have given me to much to worry about. I think after this post I will close my door, shut my mind and go to sleep. Living is just so dangerous that sometimes people don’t. (-;

    Francisco I did a “little” research on your second link which started with this “In 1995, there was a major leak at Monju, a fast breeder reactor. The authorities (as represented by Donen which managed Japan’s nuclear programme) said it was “minimal.” It wasn’t. Instead it was the largest accident of its type ever. In the world.”

    What does one reading this think? “MAJOR LEAK/nuclear= radiation inferred/largest accident of its type EVER. In the WORLD.” O-MY how terrible, and then the cover up.

    The facts are this, caps are mine…
    Monju is a sodium cooled, mox-fueled, loop-type reactor with 3 primary coolant loops, producing 280 MWe from 714 MWt.

    An accident in December 1995, in which a SODIUM leak caused a major fire, forced a shutdown. A subsequent scandal involving a cover-up of the scope of the accident delayed its restart until May 6, 2010, with renewed criticality reached on May 8, 2010…the sodium was NOT radioactive.

    No one died in the “largest accident of its type in the world” No one even recieved any radiation. There was a cover up.

    IMO when an article starts out with such exgagerated misleading and emotional statements, the author’s credibility rapidily approaches a very non-critical zero.

  113. E.M.Smith says:

    @David:

    Sorry to have disturbed your sleep! ;-)

    The idea was to show how small the nuclear worry is, not to elevate the other worries…

    I’m surprised that 714 MWt only gives 280 MWe… ah, well…

    Never did like liquid sodium reactors much precisely because that stuff is just a pain to work with. It gets “really exciting” if you dump water on it… (My revered High School Chemistry Teacher gave us a ‘float tiny bit of sodium on water’ demo in class… probably would be illegal now ;-)

    Hadn’t realized any liquid sodium reactors were in production… guess I need to “freshen” that personal database as to what tech is currently in use ;-)

  114. Francisco says:

    These are a few excerpts from a New York Times article on April 9 describing working conditions in the nuclear industry in Japan:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/world/asia/10workers.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&sq=HIROKO%20TABUCHI%20japanese%20workers&st=cse&scp=1

    [...]

    Interviews with about a half-dozen past and current workers at Fukushima Daiichi and other plants paint a bleak picture of workers on the nuclear circuit: battling intense heat as they clean off radiation from the reactors’ drywells and spent-fuel pools using mops and rags, clearing the way for inspectors, technicians and Tokyo Electric employees, and working in the cold to fill drums with contaminated waste.

    Some workers are hired from construction sites, and some are local farmers looking for extra income. Yet others are hired by local gangsters, according to a number of workers who did not want to give their names.

    They spoke of the constant fear of getting fired, trying to hide injuries to avoid trouble for their employers, carrying skin-colored adhesive bandages to cover up cuts and bruises.

    In the most dangerous places, current and former workers said, radiation levels would be so high that workers would take turns approaching a valve just to open it, turning it for a few seconds before a supervisor with a stopwatch ordered the job to be handed off to the next person. Similar work would be required at the Fukushima Daiichi plant now, where the three reactors in operation at the time of the earthquake shut down automatically, workers say.

    “Your first priority is to avoid pan-ku,” said one current worker at the Fukushima Daini plant, using a Japanese expression based on the English word puncture. Workers use the term to describe their dosimeter, which measures radiation exposure, from reaching the daily cumulative limit of 50 millisieverts. “Once you reach the limit, there is no more work,” said the worker, who did not want to give his name for fear of being fired by his employer.

    Takeshi Kawakami, 64, remembers climbing into the spent-fuel pool of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant during an annual maintenance shutdown in the 1980s to scrub the walls clean of radiation with brushes and rags. All workers carried dosimeters set to sound an alarm if exposure levels hit a cumulative dose limit; Mr. Kawakami said he usually did not last 20 minutes.

    “It was unbearable, and you had your mask on, and it was so tight,” Mr. Kawakami said. “I started feeling dizzy. I could not even see what I was doing. I thought I would drown in my own sweat.”

    Since the mid-1970s, about 50 former workers have received workers’ compensation after developing leukemia and other forms of cancer. Health experts say that though many former workers are experiencing health problems that may be a result of their nuclear work, it is often difficult to prove a direct link. Mr. Kawakami has received a diagnosis of stomach and intestinal cancer.

    News of workers’ mishaps turns up periodically in safety reports: one submitted by Tokyo Electric to the government of Fukushima Prefecture in October 2010 outlines an accident during which a contract worker who had been wiping down a turbine building was exposed to harmful levels of radiation after accidentally using one of the towels on his face. In response, the company said in the report that it would provide special towels for workers to wipe their sweat.

    Most day workers were evacuated from Fukushima Daiichi after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out the plant’s power and pushed some of the reactors to the brink of a partial meltdown. Since then, those who have returned have been strictly shielded from the news media; many of them are housed at a staging ground for workers that is off limits to reporters. But there have been signs that such laborers continue to play a big role at the crippled power plant.
    [...]

    Working conditions have improved over the years, experts say. While exposure per worker dropped in the 1990s as safety standards improved, government statistics show, the rates have been rising since 2000, partly because there have been more accidents as reactors age. Moreover, the number of workers in the industry has risen, as the same tasks are carried out by more employees to reduce individual exposure levels.

    Tetsuen Nakajima, chief priest of the 1,200-year-old Myotsuji Temple in the city of Obama near the Sea of Japan, has campaigned for workers’ rights since the 1970s, when the local utility started building reactors along the coast; today there are 15 of them. In the early 1980s, he helped found the country’s first union for day workers at nuclear plants.

    The union, he said, made 19 demands of plant operators, including urging operators not to forge radiation exposure records and not to force workers to lie to government inspectors about safety procedures. Although more than 180 workers belonged to the union at its peak, its leaders were soon visited by thugs who kicked down their doors and threatened to harm their families, he said.

    “They were not allowed to speak up,” Mr. Nakajima said. “Once you enter a nuclear power plant, everything’s a secret.”

    Last week, conversations among Fukushima Daiichi workers at a smoking area at the evacuees’ center focused on whether to stay or go back to the plant. Some said construction jobs still seemed safer, if they could be found. “You can see a hole in the ground, but you can’t see radiation,” one worker said.

    Mr. Ishizawa, the only one who allowed his name to be used, said, “I might go back to a nuclear plant one day, but I’d have to be starving.” In addition to his jobs at Daiichi, he has worked at thermal power plants and on highway construction sites in the region. For now, he said, he will stay away from the nuclear industry.

  115. Rarm says:

    Chiefio

    Check out the carcinogenic properties (esp. relating to mesothelioma) of the various varieties of asbestos. I’m sure your ‘concern’ about California’s State Rock is unwarranted. Most people (esp. regulators) confuse ‘wood’ (asbestos- oh noes – PANIC) with ‘trees’ (some [relatively] harmless varieties thereof). Can result in the expenditure of tens of thousands for a specialist contractor when the local handyman with a face mask is more that adequate at less that a hundred.

    (Yes, I know ‘varieties’ can be replaced by a more accurate technical word, and that ‘relatively harmless’ isn’t identical to ‘utterly harmless’ but still ……)

  116. Francisco says:

    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/04/84721.html –> The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan released a preliminary calculation Monday saying that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had been releasing up to 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour at some point after a massive quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11.

    The disclosure prompted the government to consider raising the accident’s severity level to 7, the worst on an international scale, from the current 5, government sources said. The level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale has only been applied to the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

  117. E.M.Smith says:

    @Rarm:

    I’m not particularly worried about it. I’ve sat on large serpentine rocks.

    At the same time, my Uncle died from asbestos related disease from working in a plant in Oregon that took those rocks and ground them into asbestos. Nature does some of the same, and the asbestos particles in the surface water are an issue in some places.

    I’m more making the point that “asbestos in a solid” is not an issue so don’t worry about that asbestos flue on the water heater in the garage. ( I’m pretty sure I have one). As long as you don’t hit it with a hammer you are OK, just like that decorative rock in the yard…

    @Francisco:

    Yes, it has the POTENTIAL to reach a 7. At present, it isn’t.

    They also need to identify which particular isotopes make up that radioactive stuff. If it has a 30 minute half life it doesn’t really matter much in a year.

    However if it is a 30 year half life, it will be catastrophic.

    Or, put another way: If it’s Xe-133 it doesn’t really matter, if it’s I-131 it matters for a little while, if it’s Cs-137 the place is just screwed.

    Also, the use of Becquerels is a bit misleading. It’s a very tiny unit. From the wiki:

    “The average human experiences 4400 becquerels from decaying potassium within the body.”

    That’s fissions per SECOND.

    So in one year you expierience 31,557,600 or about 31 Million Becquerels from yourself.

    If you live to be 100 years old, that will be over 3 BILLION Becquerels. Just from being alive.

    OK, now look back at those tera-bequerels… that’s 27,000 Curies of radiation. or 27 kg of Radium-226.

    Not sounding quite so large anymore…

    Odd point: If I’ve done the math right, it’s about the radiation emmitted by 1/3 of the human population in a year.

    (And, since you seem sensitive on the issue: My purpose here is not to minimize the risks that DO EXIST, it is to put them in perspective. “Tera” anything sounds gigantic. But it isn’t. It’s about the size of a large jug of water. Now, depending on the particular isotope and what it emits, that could make about 1000 lethal sources of radiation if concentrated all in those spots. Then again, if not in “point sources” it can be of no consequence at all. Especially if the radiation emitted is a relativly non-damaging kind. Basically, the details matter. A lot.)

  118. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

  119. Francisco says:

    10,000 terabequerels is 270,000 curies, not 27 thousand.

    Probably mostly I-131, which will be a big problem for about 3 months AFTER the fission and releases stop (whenever that is). And of course a lifetime problem for the thyroids of those unfortunate enough to ingest it.

    Calculations I’ve seen put that rate of release at 2 kg of I-131 per hour. (If it were Cesium-137, then it would be 75,000 kg/h; doesn’t seem possible that Cesium was being released at that rate, but the fact that they’ve had to expand the exclusion zone is due in part to Cesium.
    I suppose Iodine and Cesium are the main sources, and I suppose they can calculate the ratio. Don’t know about Strontium 90…

    The move to a level 7 is based not only on that calculated initial rate of release, but on the fact that the radiation leak has not stopped completely and, nobody knows when it will, and, depending on how long it goes on, could not only reach but far far exceed Chernobyl.

    I doubt they are saying a tenth of what they know.

  120. Francisco says:

    A few minutes after I saw the calculation of 2 kg of I-131/h I saw another one putting it at 2.2 grams/h…
    Maybe someone can get the right number at some point.

  121. Francisco says:

    NHK News

    [The verbe tense below is what worries me. They say: "are being released" instead of the more comforting: "were released"
    Because the problem I've seen here for over two weeks now is: "how long is this going to go on"?]

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/12_19.html

    Japan’s nuclear safety agency has raised the crisis level at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to 7, from the current 5.

    The agency told reporters on Tuesday that large volumes of radioactive substances that could affect human health and the environment are being released in a wide area.

    Level 7 is the highest rank on an international standard and equivalent to the severity recorded after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

    But the agency said the volume of radiation from Fukushima is one-tenth that at Chernobyl.

    The agency said its calculations show that 370-thousand terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131 and cesium 137 have been released from the plant.

    The nuclear safety commission, in a joint press conference with the agency, put the estimated leak at 630-thousand terabecquerels of both substances.

    One terabecquerel is equivalent to one trillion becquerels. Both organizations say the leak constitutes a level-7 crisis.

    Senior agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said 29 people died of acute radiation exposure at Chernobyl but there are no fatal radiation casualties at Fukushima.

    He added that at Chernobyl the nuclear reactor itself exploded in contrast to the Fukushima plant, which was damaged by hydrogen explosions. He said the reactors themselves retain their shape.

    Nishiyama also said the upgrade does not affect the existing evacuation plan, which was made on the basis of the same radiation evaluation.

    The agency is required to announce the severity of a crisis at a nuclear facility based on the international standard from zero up to 7 set by the International Nuclear Event Scale.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011 13:09 +0900 (JST)

  122. George says:

    Ok, so I finally got what is the real poop on why they increased the incident to level 7 from level 5.

    First of all, it is not due to any current hazard. Radiation levels are continuing to drop and the situation at the reactors continues to stabilize.

    It is based on a new calculation of the total amount of iodine-131 released over the course of the accident (most of which is now gone and is no longer in the environment as I-131 has an 8 day half life).

    It is based solely on the I-131 number. There is no increased hazard, things are not getting worse, and there is no increased health risk or risk to food supplies. It is simply based on a number of total I-131 release.

    The change was “not directly connected to the environmental and health effects,” Unesaki said.

    “Judging from all the measurement data, it is quite under control. It doesn’t mean that a significant amount of release is now continuing.”

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan, in a national television address, urged the public not to panic and to focus on recovering from the disaster.

    “Right now, the situation of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant has been stabilizing step by step. The amount of radiation leaks is on the decline,” he said. “But we are not at the stage yet where we can let our guards down.”

    Officials from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that the cumulative amount of radioactive particles released into the atmosphere since the incident had reached levels that apply to a Level 7 incident. Other factors included damage to the plant’s buildings and accumulated radiation levels for its workers.

    NISA and the NSC have been measuring emissions of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137, a heavier element with a much longer half-life. Based on an average of their estimates and a formula that converts elements into a common radioactive measure, the equivalent of about 500,000 terabecquerels of radiation from iodine-131 has been released into the atmosphere since the crisis began.

    That well exceeds the Level 7 threshold of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale of “several tens of thousands of terabecquerels” of iodine-131. A terabecquerel equals a trillion becquerels, a measure for radiation emissions.

    As I-131 has an 8-day half-life and as we are 31 days into the incident (almost 4 half-lives if I-131), most of the I-131 is gone.

  123. Francisco says:

    The NYT reported on March 30:

    The isotope, cesium 137, was measured in one village by the International Atomic Energy Agency at a level exceeding the standard that the Soviet Union used as a gauge to recommend abandoning land surrounding the Chernobyl reactor, and at another location not precisely identified by the agency at more than double the Soviet standard.

  124. Francisco says:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/032048_radiation_milk.html

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to release new data showing that various milk and water supply samples from across the US are testing increasingly high for radioactive elements such as Iodine-131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137, all of which are being emitted from the ongoing Fukushima Daiichia nuclear fallout. As of April 10, 2011, 23 US water supplies have tested positive for radioactive Iodine-131 (http://opendata.socrata.com/w/4ig7-…), and worst of all, milk samples from at least three US locations have tested positive for Iodine-131 at levels exceeding EPA maximum containment levels (MCL) (http://opendata.socrata.com/w/pkfj-…).

    As far as the water supplies are concerned, it is important to note that the EPA is only testing for radioactive Iodine-131. There are no readings or data available for cesium, uranium, or plutonium — all of which are being continuously emitted from Fukushima, as far as we know — even though these elements are all much more deadly than Iodine-131. Even so, the following water supplies have thus far tested positive for Iodine-131, with the dates they were collected in parenthesis to the right:

    Los Angeles, Calif. – 0.39 pCi/l (4/4/11)
    Philadelphia (Baxter), Penn. – 0.46 pCi/l (4/4/11)
    Philadelphia (Belmont), Penn. – 1.3 pCi/l (4/4/11)
    Philadelphia (Queen), Penn. – 2.2 pCi/l (4/4/11)
    Muscle Shoals, Al. – 0.16 pCi/l (3/31/11)
    Niagara Falls, NY – 0.14 pCi/l (3/31/11)
    Denver, Colo. – 0.17 pCi/l (3/31/11)
    Detroit, Mich. – 0.28 pCi/l (3/31/11)
    East Liverpool, Oh. – 0.42 pCi/l (3/30/11)
    Trenton, NJ – 0.38 pCi/l (3/29/11)
    Painesville, Oh. – 0.43 pCi/l (3/29/11)
    Columbia, Penn. – 0.20 pCi/l (3/29/11)
    Oak Ridge (4442), Tenn. – 0.28 pCi/l (3/29/11)
    Oak Ridge (772), Tenn. – 0.20 pCi/l (3/29/11)
    Oak Ridge (360), Tenn. – 0.18 pCi/l (3/29/11)
    Helena, Mont. – 0.18 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Waretown, NJ – 0.38 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Cincinnati, Oh. – 0.13 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Pittsburgh, Penn. – 0.36 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Oak Ridge (371), Tenn. – 0.63 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Chattanooga, Tenn. – 1.6 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Boise, Id. – 0.2 pCi/l (3/28/11)
    Richland, Wash. – 0.23 pCi/l (3/28/11)

    Again, these figures do not include the other radioactive elements being spread by Fukushima, so there is no telling what the actual cumulative radiation levels really were in these samples. The figures were also taken two weeks ago, and were only just recently reported. If current samples were taken at even more cities, and if the tests conducted included the many other radioactive elements besides Iodine-131, actual contamination levels would likely be frighteningly higher.

    But in typical government fashion, the EPA still insists that everything is just fine, even though an increasing amount of US water supplies are turning up positive for even just the radioactive elements for which the agency is testing — and these levels seem to be increasing as a direct result of the situation at the Fukushima plant, which continues to worsen with no end in sight (http://www.naturalnews.com/032035_F…).

    Water may be the least of our problems, however. New EPA data just released on Sunday shows that at least three different milk samples — all from different parts of the US — have tested positive for radioactive Iodine-131 at levels that exceed the EPA maximum thresholds for safety, which is currently set at 3.0 pico Curies per Liter (pCi/l).

    In Phoenix, Ariz., a milk sample taken on March 28, 2011, tested at 3.2 pCi/l. In Little Rock, Ark., a milk sample taken on March 30, 2011, tested at 8.9 pCi/l, which is almost three times the EPA limit. And in Hilo, Hawaii, a milk sample collected on April 4, 2011, tested at 18 pCi/l, a level six times the EPA maximum safety threshold. The same Hawaii sample also tested at 19 pCi/l for Cesium-137, which has a half life of 30 years (http://www.naturalnews.com/031992_r…), and a shocking 24 pCi/l for Cesium-134, which has a half life of just over two years (http://opendata.socrata.com/w/pkfj-…).

    Why is this milk contamination significant? Milk, of course, typically represents the overall condition of the food chain because cows consume grass and are exposed to the same elements as food crops and water supplies. In other words, when cows’ milk starts testing positive for high levels of radioactive elements, this is indicative of radioactive contamination of the entire food supply.

  125. Francisco says:

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/12_19.html

    The agency said its calculations show that 370-thousand terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131 *and cesium 137* have been released from the plant.

    The nuclear safety commission, in a joint press conference with the agency, put the estimated leak at 630-thousand terabecquerels of *both* substances.

  126. George says:

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to release new data showing that various milk and water supply samples from across the US are testing increasingly high for radioactive elements such as Iodine-131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137, all of which are being emitted from the ongoing Fukushima Daiichia nuclear fallout.

    Yup, they have increased from a bazillion times lower than an amount that can hurt you to eleventy billion times lower than an amount that can hurt you.

    Just because the amount is measurable doesn’t mean it can harm you.

    The thing is that these isotopes are measurable in such minute quantities that it is actually not doing the public any service to even produce these numbers. They actually shouldn’t even publish the numbers until they get to something like 1/100 of an amount that could possibly be harmful.

    All this is doing is scaring some people for no good reason.

  127. George says:

    Also, lets say you have milk that has 8.9 pCi/l of i-131

    8 days from now it will have 4.45 and just because it is “4 times the EPA limit” doesn’t mean the EPA limit is sane, either.

    It doesn’t mean that drinking 1000 liters of that milk every day for 100 years will hurt you.

    That EPA limit is the amount considered “safe” (by the EPA) for consumption every single day over one’s entire lifetime.

    Also note the date on that sample … March 30. It is now 13 days since that date. That very same sample of milk will now have about 2.225pCi/l which is 1/4 of the amount it had on March 30.

    Again, you would get a higher radiation dose flying to Hawaii than you would from drinking that milk.

  128. E.M.Smith says:

    @Francisco:

    Fair enough, doing it “in my head” from those obscenely small SI units of Becquerels I “slipped a digit” somewhere along the way. My bad.

    I really do wish they had just left the units as they were in a workable size.

    FWIW, Japanese verb tenses do not map well to English. For example, they have no future tense. There are also a large number of variations for things like honorific and polite forms as well as commands vs something done unintentionally. They dwell on things like that. So without the original Japanese in front of you, it’s not possible to know what was actually said. (Even with it can be hard as there isn’t a straight mapping.)

    For example:

    The te form of a Japanese verb (sometimes called the “participle”) is used when the verb has some kind of connection to the following words. For all verbs, it is formed by changing the -a of the past to -e. Adjectives behave slightly differently.
    [...]

    しまう shimau: This implies something is completed or done, usually unintentionally or accidentally or unexpectedly and sometimes expressing that the action is contrary to right or correct action: 片付けてしまった katazukete shimatta: “I have finished tidying”. It can also suggest a regrettable situation: 私の鍵が消えてしまった watashi no kagi ga kiete shimatta: “My keys have disappeared”.
    [...]
    みる miru: It means “to try doing”.
    いく iku: Can express continuous action or a change of state in the future.
    くる kuru: Can express continuous action or a change of state in the past.

    So notice how the ‘te’ form can be “completed” or “to try doing” or “continuous action” or “a change in the future” or “a change in the past” ?

    Or even “a regretable situation”?

    So if someone were using the ‘te’ form to express ‘regretable situation’ do you place that in the past, or imperfect, or present in English?

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

    So I wouldn’t read too much into the particular English verb tense used in the translation. The speaker was emphasizing a lot of guilt / intention / regret / whatever that didn’t even make it into the English while paying little attention to the time ordering (that English demands).

    BTW, Japanese has no future tense. It is formed from circomlocutions around the present tense (sometimes called the non-past tense)… so don’t expect to see a lot of English future tenses in translations… (Unless the translator was pretty good).

    http://www.japanese-language.org/japanese/grammar.asp

    Verbs are conjugated to show tenses, of which there are two: past and present (also called non-past tense, since the same form is used for the present and the future). The present tense in Japanese serves the function of the simple present and the future tense, while the past tense (or perfect tense) in Japanese serves the function of the simple past tense. The distinction is between actions which are completed (perfect) or are not yet completed (imperfect). The present perfect, present continuous, present perfect continuous, future perfect, future continuous, and future perfect continuous are usually expressed as a gerund (-te form) plus the auxiliary form imasu/iru. Similarly, the past perfect, past continuous, and past perfect continuous are usually expressed with the gerund plus the past tense of imasu/iru. For some verbs, that represent an ongoing process, the -te iru form regularly indicates a continuous (or progressive) tense. For others, that represent a change of state, the -te iru form regularly indicates a perfect tense. For example, kite imasu regularly means “I have come”, and not “I am coming”, but tabete imasu regularly means “I am eating”, and not “I have eaten”. Note that in this form the initial i of imasu/iru is often not voiced, especially in casual speech and the speech of young people. The exact meaning is determined from the context, as Japanese tenses do not always map one-to-one to English tenses. In addition, Japanese verbs are also conjugated to show various moods.

    So as this event is “not yet completed” I would expect it to be in the “non-past tense”… or a “te” form used as discussed above. And, of course, we will have been completely blinded to that terribly important “mood” conjugation…. Was the speaker commanding? Performing an apology? Subservient? Regretting? Indifferent? Who knows… yet critical to understanding what he said and why in Japanese.

    FINALLY we’re getting info on what isotopes!

    OK, the Iodine is not a significant worry if you didn’t drink it in when this started. It will all be gone in a few weeks / months in any case.

    HOWEVER, that they are getting prohibitive levels of Cesium is “a big deal”. That’s the nasty stuff and it doesn’t have a nice half life profile.

    With a 30 year half life, if you have an area at 2 x “safe” it will be a “dead zone” for 30 years.

    THAT is an issue.

    Do you have any info on how large an area that is?

    Saying “Uranium is more deadly than I-131″ is an empty sentence. What isotope is essential. U-238 isn’t even radioactive (and I’ve had natural U including the U-235, in my mouth for over 30 years in a dental cap). So you need to know the isotopes to know what the issue might be. Otherwise it just makes you sound hysterical about U.

    As I-131 bioaccumulates into the thyroid, and without a tyroid gland you don’t function well and die (unless given replacement thyroxin) I’d rank it above any U from the fuel. (Then again, they fed “granny” a dose of I-131 sufficient to fry her thyroid for medical reasons and put her on tyroxin. We were advised to not stay in the room too long at one time… I’ve most likely had more I-131 from that than from any local milk…)

    Isotope and concentration by area. Without those two you can’t make a statement about risk.

    “detected” is also meaningless. HOW MUCH and WHICH isotope or it’s an empty statement about how good our instrumentation is right now.

    On to the milk and water:

    Measured in PICO Curies. I.e. nearly nothing. That’s 1-^-12 of a Curie. At this scale, it actually IS of value to use a Becquerel

    1 Curie is 2.2 x 10^12 disintegrations / minute.
    1 Bq is 60 disintegrations / minute.

    so a Pico Curie 2.2 disintegrations / minute, or 2.2/60 Bq.

    I’m not going to get real excited about 2.2/60 Bq when the potasium inside me is already at 4400 bq.

    Even if it were 10 times that.

    Or 100.

    (At about 1000 times, it would be of interest).

    Cs has a 30-70 day biologial half life, BTW. So if you consume it, you then start peeing it out. Your exposure time is much less than the radiological half life. So a bit on the wind isn’t much of an issue (it will end up in the ocean and diluted to irrelevance).

    A bunch in the dirt IS a big issue. Those parts of Japan will ‘have issues’ for a while…

    I’m not keen on it being a gamma emitter, though…

    I’m also not keen on it being found in Hawaii at those levels. That means a lot of fish have been exposed in the area between them and Hawaii. (Fish hang about near the surface). There is likely to be a bioaccumulation issue with some of the isotopes and I don’t know know which ones or how much…

    Guess it’s time to avoid the sushi for a month or two until I “figure it out”…

    @George:

    Numbers, please! Doing the “does so, does not” without a number on it is not very productive…

    http://www.hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q444.html

    During the last period of “solar minimum,” at an altitude of 30,000 feet, the dose rate was about 4 μSv per hour at the latitudes of North America and Western Europe. During solar maximum, which is occurring now, the dose rate fell to around 3 μSv per hour. For the higher altitude of 40,000 feet, the dose rates were about 8μSv per hour at solar minimum and now are about 6.5 μSv per hour. To put this into perspective, the legal value of “maximum permissible dose” for members of the public exposed to radiation originating from ground-based industrial or medical facilities is 1,000 μSv per year. So an airline passenger flying at an average altitude of 35,000 feet for a period of about 160 hours (75,000 miles) during solar minimum would receive an exposure at about the limit of the current acceptable level.

    As it is about 8,000 miles to “anywhere interesting” from where I live, that’s about 10 trips or 5 round trips in a year. (or a dozen ‘coast to coast’ round trips in the USA).

    As many folks have a ‘once a month meeting’ on “the other coast” it is not that unusual for folks to travel that much.

    Of course, most people who fly 75,000 miles a year or more do so because of their professional responsibilities as business travelers. It is my contention that the almost 450,000 individuals in the United States who fall into that category should be classified formally as occupationally exposed workers and that they should receive appropriate education about their exposures, particularly if they may be, or are about to become, pregnant. In addition to the general cosmic-ray “background” discussed above, there are rare solar particle events (“solar storms”) that can significantly elevate the dose rates at airliner altitudes.

    So pregnant women ought to be warned… and the rest of us informed… about this “over the limit” exposure.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that in an 11-year solar cycle there could be up to three events that might produce a dose rate of up to 200 μSv per hour for a few hours at airliner altitudes. The most recent significant particle event occurred on 14 July 2000. Although an exact value of the maximum dose rate has not yet been established, my estimate is that it was at least 50 μSv per hour extending over the relatively long period of almost a full day.

    And if you fly on the wrong day, you can get 100-200 microSV / hour for however many hours of your flight. ( I once did 18 hours in one go…)

    So, 200 x 10 = 2000 micro-Sv or 2 milliSv for a long flight on a bad day.

    Don’t know how to turn the milk in pCi into a compare with flight in mSv…

    OK, the milk is at a fractional pCi to about 1 pCi per liter. Call it 1, that lets us use our 2.2/60 Bq / minute number.

    We’ve now got a misserable “units problem” that is all over SI units and radiation in particular… but, to press on:

    For X-rays and gamma rays, these are the same units as the sievert (Sv). To avoid any risk of confusion between the absorbed dose (by matter) and the equivalent dose (by biological tissues), one must use the corresponding special units, gray is used instead of the joule per kilogram for absorbed dose and the sievert instead of the joule per kilogram for the dose equivalent.

    So as I don’t know exactly what kind of particle we are dealing with, the shift form Gray to Sv is not going to happen. SO the Gray will have to do. It is the joule/kq.

    So how much is “an issue”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_(unit)

    A whole-body exposure to 5 or more gray of high-energy radiation at one time usually leads to death within 14 days. This dosage represents 375 joules for a 75 kg adult (equivalent to the chemical energy in 20 mg of sugar). Since gray are such large amounts of radiation, medical use of radiation is typically measured in milligray (mGy).

    As experienced from follow-up after radiation therapy, epilation may occur on any hair-bearing skin with doses above 1 Gy. It only occurs within the radiation field/s. Hair loss may be permanent with a single dose of 10 Gy, but if the dose is fractionated permanent hair loss may not occur until dose exceeds 45 Gy. The salivary glands and tear glands have a radiation tolerance of about 30 Gy in 2 Gy fractions, a dose which is exceeded by most radical head and neck cancer treatments, potentially causing dryness. Dry mouth (xerostomia) and dry eyes (xerophthalmia) can become irritating long-term problems and severely reduce the patient’s quality of life. Similarly, sweat glands in treated skin (such as the armpit) tend to stop working, and the naturally moist vaginal mucosa is often dry following pelvic irradiation.
    [...]
    In radiation therapy, the amount of radiation varies depending on the type and stage of cancer being treated. For curative cases, the typical dose for a solid epithelial tumor ranges from 60 to 80 Gy, while lymphomas are treated with 20 to 40 Gy. Preventive (adjuvant) doses are typically around 45–60 Gy in 1.8–2 Gy fractions (for breast, head, and neck cancers).

    The average radiation dose from an abdominal X-ray is 1.4 mGy, that from an abdominal CT scan is 8.0 mGy, that from a pelvic CT scan is 25 mGy, and that from a selective CT scan of the abdomen and the pelvis is 30 mGy.[4]

    So we’ve got a “don’t even think about issues” level of 1-30 mGy. (Honest, they chuck you into the CT scanner at Kaiser just to take a peek at anything that isn’t obvious). and you may get zapped with whole digit Gy if something needs zapping.

    Pretty clear. 30 mGy, not an issue. 1000 mGy starts to have issues.

    So, your Sv is about a Gy other than that need to adjust for the particular particles (that we don’t know). Give it a ‘boost by ten’ just for the hell of it. 3 mSv not an issue, 100 mSv is an issue.

    About in line with the aviation data.

    Now how in the heck to you compare that to drinking a L of milk a week for a month?

  129. Francisco says:

    George, you keep bringing up the airplanes. That was a discussion of a particular isotope in the food chain that has a particular health effect if you ingest it. I am not sure how you get I-131 in flights to Hawaii, unless the crew puts it in the drinks. It’s obvious the stuff doesn’t cause any issues at all, at those levels, unless you ingest it. Your thiroid cannot distinguish it from normal iodine, which it needs to store, so it goes ahead and stores the radioactive kind as well. And even though it may only take 2-3 months for most of it to decay away, that may be enough time to do enough damage for you to get a surprise a few years down the road. Especially if you are a child. What does any of this have to do with flights to Hawaii?
    So you find the EPA safety levels for radioactive iodine in food “insane” and you say they should not even publish the data until it gets really dangerous. Really?? Do you want the function of the EPA to be to collect data in order to keep it to themselves? Me, I’d like to know if I am drinking milk or water with any abnormal high levels of these fellows. That kind of work should indeed be the work of the EPA (what do you want them to spend their time on? declaring CO2 a pollutant? Giving you a fine for breathing?).
    If you like radioactive food, maybe you can put tiny pellets of some radioactive stuff in your food (like they put inside tumors to kill the cancer cells) and feast on it at your heart’s content.
    What’s remarkable really is your compulsive, frantic desire to keep telling everyone: “there is nothing to see here, move along, don’t look, this a non event.” If it is a non event, why are you so worried about others worrying about it.

    Do you think it is abnormal to be concerned that a destroyed nuclear plant has three damaged reactors, with levels of radiation inside the plant that render work impossible, plus huge amounts of spent fuel sitting in various places, some of it damaged, and with no discernable plan to bring this thing to a conclusion? Is it abnormal to be concerned when you keep reading that they may need to continue doing what they are doing for months or years? That the air above some of the water has been measured at “1000 mSv/h and above” (because 1000 mSv/h is the maximum the dosimeters can read)? Or when you read things like:

    “A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.

    The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant’s No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.

    Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility.”
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/05_38.html

  130. George says:

    You get radiation exposure from cosmic rays. The higher the altitude you fly, the more radiation exposure you get. So if you attempt to avoid some very low level of exposure on the ground and decide to fly home, you end up exposing yourself to a much higher level of radiation from cosmic rays.

    Also, to put the recent strontium data into perspective:

    It found 3.3 to 32 becquerels of strontium 90 per kilogram of soil in samples taken from 3 locations in Namie Town and Iitate Village, 30 kilometers from the plant.

    Which is such a tiny amount that your body wouldn’t even notice because you have radioactive potassium in your body right now that on average produces 4400 becquerels.

    In other words, if you ate that entire kilo of soil, your body wouldn’t even notice (except maybe getting sick from some organism in the soil).

    That is such a low level of strontium-90 that it is completely negligible.

  131. Francisco says:

    Just saw the above youtube interview with Christopher Busby, of the European Committe on Radiation Risks, who three weeks ago was already saying this was a level 7 event, as did Dr Tom Burnett in this article on March 27: http://hawaiinewsdaily.com/2011/03/when-the-fukushima-meltdown-hits-groundwater/

    Anyway, just a few seconds past the 5 minute mark, Busby mentions some information he says he just got, to the effect that authorities everywhere are so concerned about what is going on that there are extraordinary disagreements between different advisors regarding what should be done: the US advisors want to “bomb the reactors into the sea”, while the French advisors want to drop concrete on top of them to seal them from above. Busby thinks the option of taking the reactors to the sea water (by bombing them) might not be such a crazy idea as it seems, as breaking them in pieces would stop the fission (he maintains fission is going on and will continue to go on, as can be derived by very short-lived isotopes that keep popping up). He says we are in “science fiction territory”.
    I certainly hope the situation turns out not to be as dire as presented by Busby, but to read all the la la la la in so many other places is mind boggling.

    I’ve also been puzzling abut this from the Japanese Ministry of Education, for Unit 1.

    http://atmc.jp/plant/rad/?n=1

    Notice the spike to 100 (Sv/h?) on April 8 at the D/W (dry well) readings, and then no more D/W reporting after that date. I understand there was an earthquake that day (not sure). But I wonder what this means. Are those really Sv/h?

  132. George says:

    The reason, and the ONLY reason this incident was upgraded to a level 7 event is due to a re-calculation of total iodine-131 released SINCE THE START of the event. It is not due to any new activity or any changes at the site.

    And I would immediately discount ANYTHING produced by anyone thousands of miles away sitting in their armchair talking about what “could” happen.

    This was an administrative change only. Most of that iodine has now decayed. The iodine released during the first week is now 94% gone. The iodine released during the second week is now 87% gone. The iodine released during the third week is now 75% gone and the iodine released a week ago is now 50% gone.

    So the vast majority of the radioactivity that resulted in that Level 7 rating no longer exists in any form.

  133. George says:

    IAEA says the cumulative radiation release from Fukushima is about 10% that of Chernobyl.

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/13_10.html

    And it is also very different. Most of the radiation is in the form of short-lived fission products. Chernobyl spewed nearly and entire reactor load of fuel and fission products across hundreds of square miles of land that is still “off limits” today. People will be able to return to the Fukushima evacuation zone just as soon as they get reliable cooling re-established to those reactors.

    That evacuation is precautionary only.

  134. Francisco says:

    http://llrc.org/

    Monday 11th April 2011 1st paragraph updated 12th April

    Advice for the people of Japan

    Large areas of Japan are contaminated to measured levels around 1 microsievert per hour. This figure is just for Caesium 137; it does not measure the alpha-emitting radionuclides Plutonium and Uranium. These contaminants are the real threat to health. No official sources are saying anything about this hazard although hundreds of tonnes of Uranium and Plutonium are missing from the spent fuel ponds. It’s known that up to 1760 tonnes of spent fuel was stored on site. Some of it was in pools in the roofs of reactor containments which these high resolution aerial photos show to be absent, following explosions.

    “Dose”: the doses the Japanese government is publishing (e.g. here) are not a measure of risk. The data are for Caesium 137 which is easy to monitor because it is a strong gamma emitter. The data should be regarded as a signal for the very likely presence of the dangerous alpha emitting radionuclides like Uranium and beta emitters like Strontium-90 which are very hard to detect.

    Food – LLRC advice: Vegetables and other foodstuffs showing more than 50 Bq/Kg Caesium indicate airborne contamination with other radionuclides. If food shows more than 50 Bq/Kg don’t eat it unless you have absolutely no choice.
    The Japanese government should immediately ask for international food aid supplies to prevent its people eating contaminated food.

    Early signs of health damage: We have received information from people in the Tokyo region stating that they have swollen lymph nodes and sores in their nostrils. These are indicators that they have probably inhaled particles of Plutonium and Uranium.
    LLRC advice: unless it is absolutely impossible to leave, evacuate to areas where there has been no fallout – check MEXT data (English) or MEXT data (Japanese) .

    To evacuate or not? Here is a novel scientific approach to the problem of quantifying the health effects of radioactive pollution.
    Put simply, in an area now contaminated to a level of 1 microsievert per hour the fallout raises every individual person’s risk of getting cancer in the next 10 years by 11%.
    How do we know this?
    The Japanese authorities are publishing data on contamination levels in the form of hourly dose rates from Caesium137. It is therefore possible to calculate the cancer yield using the same criteria as used by Tondel and colleagues in a robust but conservative study of cancer in Sweden after Chernobyl. Sweden is known to have been contaminated with Uranium fuel although fallout mapping generally used data for Caesium, just as in Japan now, exactly 25 years later. Tondel and colleagues found an 11% increase in cancer incidence for each 100 kiloBecquerels Caesium137 on each square metre of ground. The cancers were expressed (diagnosed) in a ten year period; cancers appearing later than 10 years are of course possible but were not included in Tondel’s study.
    The detailed method has been published on this site.
    Simply, to calculate the additional risk from fallout,

    download the charts for your prefecture from MEXT data (English) or MEXT data (Japanese):
    Calculate the average rate; it is given in microsieverts per hour (µSv/h). (Exclude any short-term peaks as these will have been caused by radioactivity landing on the detectors and associated structures; it will since have been washed off by rain.)
    Find the historical background rate for your area, given as Range of past usual figures at the bottom of the charts (typical values are 0.017 – 0.1) Subtract this from your average.
    Multiply the result by 1565. Your new result will be the number of additional, fallout-related cancers expected in ten years for every 100,000 people in the population of your prefecture (This is over and above the pre-accident rate, calculated for all malignancies in the Japanese population.)

    We will post a worked example on this page later and state the assumptions behind the 1565 multiplier.
    We recommend you save the MEXT data sheets in case the government deletes them. It is important to know the true historical levels so that the additional exposure from fallout can be calculated in future.

    We recommend you to download (free) the book on Chernobyl’s effect on human, animal and plant life published last year by the New York Academy of Sciences. All you need is to click on this link. This book tells the facts as scientists have seen, measured and counted them, free of the dogma of “dose”. This means they have not ignored the evidence of their own eyes just because it isn’t predicted by the ICRP model.

    This set of Recommendations from the European Committee on Radiation Risk is also a free download. It provides the scientific material to allow the authorities in Japan to regulate industry discharges on a rational scientific basis and to take precautionary action to protect the public. Unlike the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection the ECRR advice is specifically intended to apply to post-accident scenarios.

    Earlier material from this home page has been removed and will be archived on a separate part of the site. For a few hours it will not be visible. We apologise for the delay – the emergency in Japan has placed demands on LLRC at levels we have never before experienced. For the same reason we are not able to answer all emails. We read them all, but there isn’t enough time in the day to answer them all.

  135. George says:

    Yes, Francisco, there is a lot of fear-mongering idiocy out there.

    Average flight attendant gets 20,000 microsievert per year.

    The notion that the entire country of Japan is at a dose rate of 1 microsievert is flat out incorrect.

    There is a fairly current map here:

    http://www.bousai.ne.jp/eng/

    Note the units are in nanoGray which equates to nanoSievert. A nanosievert is 1/1000 of a microsievert.

    There is not a single place in the entire country that is anywhere near a 1 microsievert dose except the areas inside the evacuation zone. The rest of the country is now at “normal” background levels of radiation.

    Each number shown in the chart is the maximum level in that prefecture. You can click on the prefecture to get more detailed readings for various places.

    There is a LOT of misinformation and disinformation out there.

    ALso, this notion that someone should download a book about Chernobyl for any information about the current event is like asking someone to read up on plane crashes because a tsunami wiped out their car.

  136. Francisco says:

    George, first you dismiss the presence of I-131 in food or fluids (which will go to your thiroid if you ingest it) by calling the EPA insane and comparing iodine 131 with a flight to Hawaii. When asked how you can ingest I-131 in flights to Hawaii, you explain that you get some cosmic rays (suggesting perhaps that cosmic rays are a source of iodine that you drink in flight by keeping your mouth open while you doze off) and then proceed out of the blue to talk about strontium, which goes to your bones, in order to dismiss it by comparing it with higher levels of potassium, which doesnt go to your bones, after spending several posts explaining how beautiful it was that strontium was totally absent from the picture. You sound more and more incoherent.

  137. George says:

    No, I don’t dismiss it generally but at these levels, yes. I am saying that it isn’t at levels that are going to harm you. In other words, at the current levels that are present in drinking water and foodstuffs, yes, I dismiss it.

    Radioactive iodine can harm the thyroid … at doses much higher than we are currently seeing. The water is even safe for infants in all areas of Japan. There was a brief period, about three or four days early in the event, when they recommended not giving the tap water to infants but that has passed.

    Again, the iodine released in the first week of the event is now practically all gone. It no longer exists, it has decayed. If you ingested any during that time, it is gone. It is no longer in your body. It has ceased to exist.

    There are no longer any areas of Japan with unsafe levels of iodine in the water.

    Iodine levels in the sea are also falling. At the unit 1-4 outlet channel, I-131 was 24 times the normal allowable discharge amount at 0.95 Bq/cm^3 two days ago (latest information I have)

    Again, it has a half-life of 8 days so barring any unusual new release, that number will continue to fall.

  138. JDShaffer says:

    I seriously wonder why people keep suspecting that the Japanese government is hiding information pertaining to the seriousness of this situation.

    There are more people here that can accurately measure radioactivity levels than just the government. And there are a large number of specialists here in Japan who know about the effects of radiation and radiation sickness as well as their treatment.

    Don’t forget that Japan is the only country to have experienced two atomic bombs.

    I’m not chiding the people who are concerned about the whole issue, I just hope you’re remember there are a large number of scientists and academics who are more than qualified to monitor the situation.

    Peace from Japan,
    Jeffrey

  139. George says:

    15km from the plant, radioactive iodine is about 2.2 times the limit for radioactive discharge. Note that these limits are what is safe to discharge every day, day in and day out, all year long. So right now it is 2.2 times that limit 15km from the plant.

    Cesium is currently below the limit.

    They are also now saying that the majority of the radiation released was on March 15 and March 16 when the explosion of the Unit 2 suppression pool occurred. So at least 75% of that I-131 has now decayed.

    Also, they are now finally pumping out the cable tunnels and the basement of the Unit 2 turbine building basement. This should *greatly* reduce the amount of radioactive water leaking into the ocean as the source is believed to be the unit 2 turbine building basement.

  140. klee12 says:

    Francisco wrote @http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/japan-nuke-page-2/#comment-16295

    <>

    I would not expect any (OK, very, very little) of the plutonium or uranium would have escaped. Iodine and caesium are volatile, in the sense they turn to gas in the temperatures encountered in the fuel core. Plutonium and uranium are not so volatile so I expect them to stay in the fuel core or in the containment vessel and not present a health hazard. It’s only if they get outside the containment building that they cause problems. Perhaps the experts on this board can correct me if I’m wrong.

    Chernobyl was a different situation. There was an explosion and no containment vessel. Plutonium, uranium and other highly radiative stuff were hosted high in the atmosphere and gradually settled over a wide area. I have not seen any reliable reports of plutonium or uranium in the soil that can be traced to the Fukushima disaster.

    Trying to suppress information about a large release of radioactive elements to the atmosphere is impossible. The radioactivity is up in there air and anyone can measure it. According to

    http://mitnse.com/2011/04/12/new-provisional-ines-rating-a-chernobyl-primer/

    a Swedish reactor 1000 kilometers away noticed the accident before evacuations were begun in Chernobyl.

    It’s a long time since I studied nuclear physics. Corrections welcome.

    klee12

  141. George says:

    There was a very tiny bit of spent fuel damage, likely when the unit 4 hydrogen explosion occurred in the spent fuel pool or something fell into that pool as a result of the explosion.

    There has been an extremely tiny amount of contamination discovered off the site that is consistent with possible physical damage to a fuel rod during that explosion. I am talking contamination levels so low you can literally eat it without consequence. Think of dust specks.

  142. Well, it’s time for me to stick my neck out again!
    @George: You say,
    “The reason, and the ONLY reason this incident was upgraded to a level 7 event is due to a re-calculation of total iodine-131 released SINCE THE START of the event. It is not due to any new activity or any changes at the site.”
    Is this the official reason stated?
    You appear to believe it to be the case.
    Then you later say,
    “So the vast majority of the radioactivity that resulted in that Level 7 rating no longer exists in any form.”
    Thus you are suggesting that their level 7 status
    is without scientific basis.
    If it is, ‘they’ are incompetent or have an ulterior motive.

    Or perhaps they are not telling us everything?
    Perhaps there is a genuine reason for a level 7, and, as I have suggested previously, there is a significant lack of full facts being made public. Even your extensive data source must be subject to scrutiny by the company and/or government.
    They obviously won’t publish dangerously high radiation levels.
    On the official map of radiation levels, they have never given figures for the near vicinity of the reactors, always saying “under survey”.

    It has been noted by another commentor that whistle blowing in Japan is not to be expected. How are we going to get the truth?
    How are we going to know the truth if/when we get it?

  143. E.M.Smith says:

    @Klee12:

    The U and Pu ought to be oxides, so very much non-volatile.

    For Chernobly, also remember that the graphite proceded to burn. So you had a melted core feeding “stuff” into a combustion zone making smoke and heat carrying it up high. As bad as it gets.

    Also, don’t remember where I saw it, but in Ukraine, the people suffered more from the I-131 than most as they were fairly chronic low on I in general.

    For a population like Japan where they eat a LOT of seafood they will be “over the top” on Iodine already and even if they ate I-131 would pee out most of it. Same thing in the USA where most folks eat Iodized salt and are already saturated in Iodine.

    @Francisco:

    You are either deliberatly mis-understanding George as a ploy or you need to pay closer attention. I will attempt to explain, but given your use of sites like that “Low Level Radiation advocacy site” as “unbiased authority” I have my doubts about your willingness to pay attention to the technology.

    George, first you dismiss the presence of I-131 in food or fluids (which will go to your thiroid if you ingest it) by calling the EPA insane and comparing iodine 131 with a flight to Hawaii. When asked how you can ingest I-131 in flights to Hawaii, you explain that you get some cosmic rays (suggesting perhaps that cosmic rays are a source of iodine that you drink in flight by keeping your mouth open while you doze off)

    So this is ether a profound failure to understand, or a stong case of hyperbole. Neither looks good on you.

    The simple fact is that radiation is largely fungible (sometimes with some proportionality factors). So what George is attempting to do is give you some perspective on what is, and is not, a “large dose” and a “small dose”.

    You fail to grasp that, or chose to ignore it as a ploy, and neither is effective.

    So yes, the level of Iodine 131 in the water, milk air etc. of almost all of Japan, of the sea from Hawaii to the USA mainland, of all the air over California to New York and all the cows and their milk IS incredibly low and substantially irrelevant.

    That George then shows a vastly higher does of cosmic ray exposure from flying in an air plane does not mean he expects you to suck Iodine off the stewardess or stare up at raindrops with your mouth open. I do hope you relalize that, or this discussion is quite pointless.

    OK, to address your worries about I-131 directly, we can start with the theraputic dose for Graves Disease and similar problems. This is the dose that reduces the thyroid function and doesn’t do too much else (though there are some other risks) to the patient:

    http://interactive.snm.org/docs/Therapy%20of%20Thyroid%20Disease%20with%20Iodine-131%20v2.0.pdf

    Delivered activity of
    2.96–7.4 MBq (80–200 μCi) per gram of
    thyroid tissue is generally appropriate. The
    thyroid radiation dose depends on the
    RAIU, as well as the biological half-life of
    the radioiodine in the thyroid gland. The
    biological half-life can vary widely.
    b. Thyroid dosages toward the upper end of
    the range (i.e., 7.4 MBq/gm [200 μCi/gm])
    are especially suitable for patients with
    nodular goiters, very large toxic diffuse
    goiters, and repeat therapies. In much of
    Europe, empiric rather than calculated
    dosage strategies are often used.

    So we’ve got 200 Micro-Ci / GRAM of thyroid. That, as they say, is “a lot”.

    Compare that with the “about one” level of PICO-Ci of I-131 per liter you cited above for water samples.

    You have a 10^-12 in that “Pico” and a 10^-6 in that ‘micro” so we’ve got 6 orders of magnetude gap
    and a multiply by 200 and a multiply by the grams of a thyroid.

    The wiki puts it at 18 to 60 grams, so call it 30 as a ‘low average”. That makes it 200 x 30 =6000 for our “uplift factor” for the dose and throid size.

    Overall we are now at 6 x 10^ 9 times the amount in your worrysome liter of water.

    So if you take out that 6 just to get to a ‘lowest dose’ that is not likely to do much more than lighten thyroid function, not do in the whole thing, you still have 10^9 L of water to drink. As a cubic meter of water is 1000 L, that’s only 10^6 cubic meters you need to drink. In less than the time it takes the I-131 to decay away. So take a space one Km on a side, a square kilometer, flooded one meter deep.

    That’s what you have to drink to get ‘low end thyroid damage’. And you have to finish it all in less than a month.

    Yes, that’s an exposure level that is less than irrelevant.

    (And we’ve ignored that the non-radioactive iodine in the salt you will need to eat to avoid hypo-natrimia killing you will totaly swamp the I-131 and cause you to pee it out…)

    AND yes, you will get more damage to your thyroid from flying around in an airplane being bombarded with cosmic rays than you will from drinking a L a day of that water for a month.

    Continuing with your comment:

    and then proceed out of the blue to talk about strontium, which goes to your bones,

    BECAUSE Strontium is one of the most nasty things that can be relased from a nuclear accident and concentrates in milk. IT, unlike Iodine, is one worth worry… It bioaccumulates in the bones and stays there (unlike Cs that you pee out over time).

    in order to dismiss it by comparing it with higher levels of potassium,

    Nope. And it’s that kind of “putting words in someones mouth that were not there” that makes you look a bit, er, “less than honest”… No, I can’t tell if you really believed this or are just “playing dumb for an angle”, but it’s just a pretty poor technique.

    THE reason for discussing Strontium is exactly because it is one of THE most important isotopes to track. Most prone to being “an issue”.

    which doesnt go to your bones,

    Which does not matter. EVERY single cell in your body is ALWAYS being irradiated by K because it is IN every cell of your body. If you “pee out” too much, you must replace it or die, and all the natural K has radioactivity in it too.

    Potasium is a very important point as it sets a foundation level of perpetual exposure to every cell of your body for life and the level only drops when you die.

    IF strontium did not lodge in tissue, like bone, it would just be peed out like Cs and be LESS important as there is not an ongoing source for new radioactive inputs. K DOES have an ongoing source as all natural K is radioactive.

    THAT MATTERS. And that is why George mentioned it and uses it as a benchmark level of “natural and safe” exposure.

    after spending several posts explaining how beautiful it was that strontium was totally absent from the picture. You sound more and more incoherent.

    The only thing sounding “incoherent” is the kind of things you are posting. Links to advocacy sites with hard agendas that are anti-nuke. Panic over levels of exposure that are demonstrably “near nothing”. Misstatements of peoples positions (whether from poor understanding or from deliberate distortion I can not say).

    It simply IS a Beautiful Thing that strontium is absent. In my “order of worry” I’d be telling the family not to drink milk if there were strontium being found in California. Cs is only an issue if it gets too high (as it has a short biological half life so you need enough to keep it in you long enough on an ongoing basis to be an issue) and last on the list is Iodine as I can just use the iodized salt I’ve got and “no worries” (that, and the measured “dose” is essentially “nil” so doesn’t even bear a notice).

    So either learn to assess the risk based on the isotope and its concentration or stop posting a load of “scare story” links that fail to do a rational assessment.

    At present you are ignoring both what the numbers mean (nearly nothing damamging) and what the non-numeric comparisons mean (airline travel is more exposure, your own body is more exposure). That can not be remedied with louder hollering or ever more links to folks who are professional panic mongers.

    Yes, the accident in Japan is bad. I’d go so far as to say “a catastrophe” IN JAPAN. Inside a 10 km radius and potentially with some damage inside a 50 km radius if the wind blew the wrong way on the wrong day.

    But I’d be happy to get on an airplane today (accepting that increased radiation risk of a long flight) and fly to Tokyo and live and work there for the next year even eating the local caught fish. NOT because I have any desire to “downplay” anything (as you have accused me) but because the measured risk is nearly zero.

    “Do the numbers”. Please.

    With that said:

    George:

    We don’t really know what level of damage has been done to the fuel bundles in the spent fuel pools. While I doubt that the reactor cores are a problem at all, those bundles were likely left pretty much dry, then had debris explosively projected at them. The hydrogen explosion ought to have been ‘up high’ and that would send any overhead “stuff” into those uncovered rods in the evaporated pools.

    There is a very real risk of fuel pellets being physically blasted out of the pool into the local area and / or cladding being broken. There is a remote possible that the fuel bundles got crammed together by something like an overhead crane being jammed into them. (No, no evidence that I know of, but a ‘possible until confirmed not’).

    So it is a plausible scenario that fuel bundles had “crap” (a highly technical term for ‘radionuclides of unknown activity and health risks’ ;-) being knocked all over the place. Until there is evidence that the spent fuel bundles are intact, in place, and not damaged, it’s a plausible risk and we need to allow that that could be the source of some really nastly stuff scattered about the site (and potentially down wind a ways).

    With the amount / number of sensors “out” we don’t really know what’s going on near the plant. But at the same time, being at a “lethal dose in days” inside a km or 3 of the station is “not a small thing”. SOMETHING big happened. We just don’t know exactly what.

    So, please post some kind of link / evidence for the assertion that it was some trivial level of damage to “a fuel rod”, as it looks like it managed to cover about 5 km radius with “lethal in a few days” levels (at least if I didn’t screw up the math on those readings from the TV crew…)

    (I’ve lost track of where in what thread those TV jokers did their thing and I calculated what it meant… why I like to keep things in the appropriate thread… but at the 1.5 km point, IIRC, they had about a day to “lethal dose possible”… and God I hope I’m not remembering that wrong… Now their meter didn’t say what it was measuring in terms of particles so there’s some ‘wiggle room’ on that. If it’s measuring Beta’s they could just wear a tin foil suit or sit in the car, for alphas just don’t lick the dog… but in any case, there was a load of SOMETHING belched out all over the place.)

    So both of you, please back down a bit on the hollering at each other and spend a bit more time trying to reach an understanding of what the other one is saying.

    Right now both of you are just talking past each other and it’s getting a bit tedious.

  144. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    I saw the folks in Japan (via TV or course ;-) making the upgrade statement.

    It’s a bit of a “yes they were lying / not really” thing.

    THE biggest change was definitional. Originally TEPCO had counted each reactor as a different “event”. Thus effectively dividing the total radiation release by 4…

    So if you bundle them all into “one event” (as most of us would, I think) it went over the threshold for a “7″.

    OK, on the one hand treating these as 4 different events is just a bit cheeky… on the other hand that may well be what some rule said to do so they did. I just don’t know.

    The redefinition was applied to all the data collected to date, so it was a ‘bump up” based on how the old data were processed, not due to new radiation leaking.

    BUT…

    It still means a load was dumped and they were a bit less than stellar about saying how much… by a factor of 4…

    OK, the “other bit” is that release levels continue to drop, and that’s all well and good; and even with the redefinition they are 1/10 of what Chernobyl dumped and most likey a “softer” set of isotopes (as not fire volatilizing the heavy stuff like actinides…) Again, all good.

    But I’d really like to see an “inventory” of the soil from samples taken on 100 m centers for 1 km and then 1 km centers for 10 km radius… with matching geiger counter numbers and types of particals being detected…

    Not that I don’t trust TEPCO mind you… It’s just that I don’t trust any corporate management in a true disaster…

  145. @EM. Fair comment, but there is little or no information available from a truly independent source.
    There has been much (premature) comment about safety regulations and new plans for preventing and acting-on emergencies that is mainly talk because of the different types of reactors and many variables.

    However, it would make sense for it to be mandatory for an independent authority to have access to the facilities specifically to monitor radiation levels at and near the site. Ground, air and water sites. Whenever an incident occurs.

    How to then have impartial reporting and danger level assessment made public is a question but one which would have to be answered.
    To rely on vested interest reports is to expect incorrect or insufficient information. This includes the international pro and anti nuclear “industry” bodies.
    There must exist a reliable, independent information source.

    Dangerous work? Indeed, but only if the danger is also potentially to the public. Remotely readable monitors could be strategically placed around the area to avoid unnecessary personnel risks. (With security measures to prevent or flag tampering).

    If potentally dangerous facilities exist and/or are to be built, the health and well-being of the workers and the public is a moral and practical responsibility of the industry.

    Then there is the age-old question – is it in the best interest of the public for them to know the truth?
    Short of creating wholesale panic, I say yes.
    Certainly they should not be shielded from the truth if the company/government are the ones trying to shield themselves!

  146. David says:

    “I’ve lost track of where in what thread those TV jokers did their thing and I calculated what it meant… why I like to keep things in the appropriate thread… but at the 1.5 km point, IIRC, they had about a day to “lethal dose possible”… and God I hope I’m not remembering that wrong…”

    E.M. here is the link…
    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dyp9iJ3pPuL8%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded&h=e3f13

    By the way, these people are with JERS, a volunteer group rescuing animals, and people when they find them. There are many wonderful stories of people who lost everything, being reuntited with their pets through their work. The dogs in this video were picked up and tested for radiation. They were in the “no go zone” area for over three weeks. They were fine with very low levels of radiation, unfortuanately I do not know the details, but they were determined not to need any treatment.

  147. Francisco says:

    At the Japanese official site updating the status of the Fukushima reactors, I have been checking the chart for Unit 1, under the category “dose,” here: http://atmc.jp/plant/rad/?n=1

    Two daily readings are given, one for D/W which is described (in the Google-translated page) as “dry well…The main thing containment,” and the other is “S/C”, described as “pressure suppression chamber”

    A sharp spike to the upper limit of the chart (100 Sv/h) is seen in the D/W readings on April 8. It goes almost straight up from about 30 Sv/h on April 7 to 100 Sv/h (or off the chart) on April 8. No subsequent readings are given for D/W after that date.

    I am trying to see what explanation there might be for this, but I haven’t found any.

  148. George says:

    It could be a change in wind direction, or it could be an erroneous reading.

    The readings here have been pretty stable:

    http://www.bousai.ne.jp/eng/

    Also note that radiation readings at the Fukushima site dropped by about an order of magnitude from April 1 to April 12 as reported here (this is airborne contamination both volatile and particulate):

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110413e10.pdf

    Current airborne contamination levels are well within safety standards for workers at the site:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110413e8.pdf

    Also, they have managed to pump some 700 tons of water so far from the cable pit at Unit 2 to the condenser tank so expect radiation leaking into the sea to begin a sharp drop as well.

    NOTE that when TEPCO reports tons of water those are metric tons and one ton is about equal to 1000 liters of water.

  149. George says:

    There might be something to this story. While I am not a nuclear expert, I came to many of the same conclusions. Why would Japan suddenly change it to a level 7 event when the situation is currently barely even rating a 5?

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/russias-nuclear-chief-says-japan-exaggerating-crisis-20110413-061813-594.html

  150. Francisco says:

    George,
    “a change in wind direction” ??

    The drywell is the pear-shaped containment structure around the core:
    http://chiefio.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/bwr_mark_i_containment_cutaway.jpg

    One should hope there arent any winds blowing through there.

    The timeline of the accident in Wikipedia has now included this incident. They say:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents –> “Official measures at Fukushima I reactor unit 1, however, showed a rise in temperature consecutive to the aftershock and a spiking amount of radiation in the Dry Well which exceeded the instrument maximum of 100 Sv/h.[100] Gauge B, in the meantime, has recorded a steady increase of the pressure for the previous ten days, in the same reactor.[101] Reporting the rise to 100 Sv/h up from the earlier 30 Sv/h TEPCO declared that the “validity of the measurement is questioned” both for radiation levels and pressure.”

    The spike is still there http://atmc.jp/plant/rad/?n=1
    And no reporting for the drywell after April 8. If the sensor was damaged for whatever reason, I wonder why they have not said it. In any case, something happened at unit 1 between the 7th and the 8th of April, as the temperature and the pressure also went up at the same time. But the radiation reading just went off the charts – unless again the sensor became damaged.

    The other reading in the chart, the one for the “suppression chamber” is the “wet well”, which would be the ring tubular structure under the drywell in the above image (I think)
    The radiation in both those places (between 10 and 50 Sv/h) is huge, and frankly I can’t see how they would be able to work near them especially if either the dry or the wet wells have fissures with all these quakes.

  151. George says:

    Considering that the dry well is currently about half full of water (i.e. no longer dry), that shaking could have released radioactive gas like shaking a bottle of soda.

    There is so far no evidence of any loss of containment in the wet or dry wells aside from unit 2 which apparently had some sort of explosion in the suppression pool but the extent of any damage is not yet known.

    The containment of units 1 and 3 are still intact as pressure readings confirm that to be the case.

  152. Francisco says:

    As far as raising the level, yes, liabilities may play a role, and also the justification for any drastic or unusual decisions, including pushing the elasticity of current safety regulations, as well as any possible drastic decisions to eventually put an end to this mess. If it gets worse, they may have to bomb the reactors into pieces and into the sea, as the Americna advisors have suggested. If it stays the same, they will eventually have to entomb it. Both decisions would look unseemly to a level 5 accident, but more reasonable in a level 7.

  153. George says:

    Francisco, please. Nobody has even been sickened by radiation let alone died. No worker on the plant has even experienced 50% of what would be an acceptable radiation level for a plant worker in the US.

    You are exaggerating or repeating the exaggerations of others. Please stop. The data are available. Right now you can think of the reactor as nothing more than a spent fuel reservoir that needs cooling. There is no reaction underway, the situation is stabilizing, and radioactivity is declining.

    Nobody is going to need to “bomb” anything, that is simply ridiculous.

  154. Francisco says:

    No dear, nothing is going on. The 10 to 50 Sv/h steadily being measured in those wells are an illusion from the distant past when they wer operating. You can safely go in there and hug those wells and be fried in short order. It wouldn’t be much different from a few flights to Hawaii.

  155. George says:

    Nobody is exposed to that contamination in those wells and it is being pumped to storage as we speak. (I assume by wells you mean the cable trenches on the site). That is not radiation that anyone is exposed to. Did you not look at the radiation survey data I posted earlier today? Airborne radioactive contamination is currently an order of magnitude below the safe limit for workers and is *dropping* steadily.

    Nobody has been killed. Nobody has been injured. Nobody has even received anywhere near the maximum safe dose so far.

    Please stop the exaggerating.

    I listened to an interview just now on the radio with an individual is currently living about 15 miles North of the Daiichi power plant. He’s fine. Radiation levels there are slightly elevated but not hazardous in any way. He’s just fine.

  156. klee12 says:

    Franciscon wrote

    . If it gets worse, they may have to bomb the reactors into pieces and into the sea, as the Americna advisors have suggested.

    But wouldn’t make things much, much worse. The containment building is meant to keep all the bad stuff from escaping to the biosphere. Bombing it would create another Chernobly, not as bad as the original one maybe, but still very bad. Anyone who advocates bombing the reactors is, IMHO, crazy.

    klee12

  157. E.M.Smith says:

    @Francisco:

    The readings inside the reactor containment could easily be the result of a trivial bit of fuel damage all contained inside the containment as it is supposed to be.

    It could be due to one of the many pipe to the reactor vessle getting a crack in it and having the coolant water leak into the dry well (inside the containment) as it is supposed to be.

    It could be due to the gages just being broken from all the {quake | tsunami | water dumping | various power surges in trying to bring power back up } and it could even be that there is no valid reason as the cables from those gauges go through the flooded cable trenches and that is screwing up the reported voltages from the guages.

    We just don’t know. (And please realize that, to me, saying “we just don’t know” is “way more scary” than saying “it’s 50 Sv / hr guage”)

    And yes, it still “doesn’t matter”. People don’t need to go inside the reactor vessel.

    Also missing is “What particle?”. That is a critical thing. If it is an alpha or beta, it means nearly nothing as it just isn’t going to go through the vessel walls. If it is a gama, well, it’s going to cook people “near” where near does not need to be very near…

    So “we just don’t know”. Maybe it’s all I-131 from cold water shock cracked rods and an earthquake broken fitting INSIDE THE CONTAINMENT. In which case, wait a couple of months and open the top to unload the fuel bundle. It could be gama sources from a fuel melt and we’re looking at how to entomb it for a few dozen years. Bad juju. But nobody dies.

    So getting all excited about a guage reading doesn’t answer what needs answering.

    Now, if it’s a gama source, and it’s loose in the ‘core dump’ well (dry well) that communicates with the wet well (the ring) AND there are cracks in the containment from the quake letting it leak outside… then we have a disaster.

    It’s a possible, but has a lot of contingencies yet to fall.

    @George:

    I think what you are calling the suppression pool is what Francisco is calling the ‘wet well’ which is, I THINK, that annular ring in the picture at the top of the thread.

    I could see a case where an explosion orginating in the ring ‘rattles and rolls’ the core along with breaking some of the pipes. I have no idea if that is at all what happened, it is a hypothetical.

    So, I’ve lost track. Any insturmentation data from #2 that shows that as bogus fantasy and the core / reaction vessel is intact and holding pressure?

    (I found the ‘feedwater temp’ in your earlier posting, but have no idea if that pipe could ‘bust loose’ and still read and report even if the pipe lead to the outside of a displaced reaction vessel… I does imply “not much happened” but I’d love to know we’ve got a postive pressure reading from inside the reaction vessel of #2 too… then that whole scenario goes away and you have an intact reaction vessel with MAYBE some crap knocked loose from an explosion in the annular ring ‘suppression system’… but that’s even more specuating..)

  158. George says:

    The suppression pool explosion could have split a pipe, blown a seal, practically anything. But it doesn’t really matter all that much at this point. For example, in that water in the basement they are not finding any strontium, only cesium and iodine. That says that steam has been in contact with a damaged fuel rods but they haven’t melted and fallen to the bottom head or anything.

    We already know or have a strong suspicion that the circulation pump shaft seals have likely failed and that was expected as a consequence of salt water injection. This is because they can’t seem to get the primary vessel water level above the level of those seals.

    This gives a fairly good representation of what is going on:

    http://www.seyth.com/ressources/quake/AREVA-Document.pdf

    though it still contains a few bits of speculation which is to be expected because it isn’t like we can stick our heads in there and take a look.

    There is a lot more plumbing in those things than the simplified diagrams show. If you have a pipe with water in it that is connected to the suppression pool and if you have an explosion in that pool, you will get a pretty nasty water hammer in that pipe because water doesn’t compress. They won’t be able to tell where that leak in the unit 2 basement is coming from until they get that water pumped down.

    The radiation in that water is primarily beta. Had the earlier workers gone in their with proper boots, they would have been adequately shielded. Instead, they went in with regular work boots and the water soaked their feet to the skin. They still didn’t receive any injurious dose or even enough to prevent them from continuing working.

    If that were an American plant, workers would likely have been in there the whole time with proper protective gear. This is Japan and they have very tight standards on radiation exposure.

    The way to think if this is not as a reactor. They are no longer and never will be a reactor again. The salt water injection saw to that. At this point they are basically spent fuel pools embedded in several feet of concrete holding fuel rods having experienced an unknown extent of damage.

    The reactor cores are not really the major issue at this point. All of that debris on the top floors of those buildings is going to need to be cut away and disposed of. A new roof will need to be constructed. They will need new equipment up there in order to get that reactor head opened back up so they can get those fuel rods out. It is going to be a cleanup operation that will take several years but the worst of the danger is long past.

    It is now a matter of finding where the water is leaking from unit 2 and stopping that leak and getting some water circulation going which might involve improvising installation of new pumps and re-routing some of that plumbing in the turbine building. Getting the basements pumped out is the main priority and that is ongoing right now.

  159. George says:

    Primary containment pressures are in this document:

    http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110414-2-2.pdf

  160. George says:

    Maybe this will fix it:

  161. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    Thanks!

    More silly SI units, though… OK a Pascal is about 6894 per PSI, so a Mega Pascal is 10^6. About 6.9 kPa / PSI would be 6.9 * 10^-3 MPa / PSI.

    Pressure in the reactor vessle is about 0.08 MPa so:

    0.08 MPa/ 6.9 x 10^-3 Mpa / PSI… 11.6 psi or nearly no pressure.

    My handy steam pressure table says that at 11.75 Abs (and the link says it is absolute, not guage, pressure) the saturated steam temp is 200 F yet the feedwater is reported as 149 C (or about 300F) that ought to be giving closer to 67 PSI (4.6 Bar)…

    They’ve got a leak somwhere and are not holding pressure or that feedwater cools down mighty fast…

    Reactor 1 has a water depth of: 1550 – 1600 mm
    Reactor 3 has a water depth of: 1900 – 2250 mm
    Reactor 4 has no water as was defueled.

    So Reactor 2 water at: 1450 mm

    is a bit low… between 10 cm and 15 cm ( 4 inch to 6 inch) compared to #1 and 45 cm to 80 cm ( 18 inch to 32 inch )
    compared to #3.

    It’s also cooler than #1 and hotter than #3.

    OK, fair enough,

    My guess would be the explosion broke some seals somewhere. They have intact pipes, so can send in the water, but not hold the pressure. Water is evaporating (and likely condensing outside the seal that’s leaking) and taking some volatile byproducts with it.

    Not good, but not terrible either. As the thing cools, water level ought to rise and leakage drop. Eventually they will find the blown seal and fix it. Until then they need to filter the water from the containment sump.

    A mess, but very manageable.

    OK, I think I can go to bed now ;-)

  162. George says:

    The temperatures of the reactors are due to the status of the fuel rods. Unit 1 will be hottest because it had run the longest and had the most fission products in the fuel rods. It was due to be shut down (and decommissioned) in March anyway.

    Unit 3 is the next longest running on its current fuel load.

    Unit 2 has been running the shortest time and so would be cooler as there are fewer fission products decaying in those fuel rods.

    unit 4 was recently unloaded so it would have the hottest spent fuel pool of the four. Unit 1 was unloaded the longest ago so it would have the coolest spent fuel pool.

  163. George says:

    I think the reason for the higher water inlet temperature of unit 2 is because of the lower water level.

    Before it died, the lower head temperature sensor was reporting 77C but there was apparently a short circuit in an electrical panel and unit 2 lower head temperature stopped reporting.

  164. Francisco says:

    Nuclear physicist Michio Kaku on Democracy Now yesterday (April 13). This is part of the interview.

    [...]
    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, Tokyo Electric has been in denial, trying to downplay the full impact of this nuclear accident. However, there’s a formula, a mathematical formula, by which you can determine what level this accident is. This accident has already released something on the order of 50,000 trillion becquerels of radiation. You do the math. That puts it right smack in the middle of a level 7 nuclear accident. Still, less than Chernobyl. However, radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all. So, you’re looking at basically a ticking time bomb. It appears stable, but the slightest disturbance—a secondary earthquake, a pipe break, evacuation of the crew at Fukushima—could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl.

    AMY GOODMAN: Talk about exactly—I mean, as a physicist, to explain to people—exactly what has taken place in Japan at these nuclear power plants.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Think of driving a car, and the car all of a sudden lunges out of control. You hit the brakes. The brakes don’t work. That’s because the earthquake wiped out the safety systems in the first minute of the earthquake and tsunami. Then your radiator starts to heat up and explodes. That’s the hydrogen gas explosion. And then, to make it worse, the gas tank is heating up, and all of a sudden your whole car is going to be in flames. That’s the full-scale meltdown.

    So what do you do? You drive the car into a river. That’s what the utility did by putting seawater, seawater from the Pacific Ocean, in a desperate attempt to keep water on top of the core. But then, seawater has salt in it, and that gums up your radiator. And so, what do you do? You call out the local firemen. And so, now you have these Japanese samurai warriors. They know that this is potentially a suicide mission. They’re coming in with hose water—hose water—trying to keep water over the melted nuclear reactor cores. So that’s the situation now. So, when the utility says that things are stable, it’s only stable in the sense that you’re dangling from a cliff hanging by your fingernails. And as the time goes by, each fingernail starts to crack. That’s the situation now.

    AMY GOODMAN: What about the food, the level of contamination of the food? They are increasingly banning food exports.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: The tragedy is, this accident has released enormous quantities of iodine, radioactive iodine-131, into the atmosphere, like what happened at Chernobyl, about 10 percent the level of Chernobyl. Iodine is water soluble. When it rains, it gets into the soil. Cows then eat the vegetation, create milk, and then it winds up in the milk. Farmers are now dumping milk right on their farms, because it’s too radioactive. Foods have to be impounded in the area.

    And let’s be blunt about this: would you buy food that says “Made in Chernobyl”? And the Japanese people are also saying, “Should I buy food that says ‘Made in Fukushima’?” We’re talking about the collapse of the local economy. Just because the government tries to lowball all the numbers, downplay the severity of the accident, and that’s making it much worse.

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you think has to be done now? I mean, one of the biggest problems is secrecy, both with the Tokyo company that runs the plants and also the government, the constant downplaying from the beginning. And yet, there are so many people who have been evacuated, who are demanding compensation. There was just a major protest at TEPCO with the people in the area who have been evaluated—no jobs, no money—saying, “We demand compensation.”

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, TEPCO is like the little Dutch boy. All of a sudden we have cracks in the dike. You put a finger here, you put a finger there. And all of a sudden, new leaks start to occur, and they’re overwhelmed.

    I suggest that they be removed from leadership entirely and be put as consultants. An international team of top physicists and engineers should take over, with the authority to use the Japanese military. I think the Japanese military is the only organization capable of bringing this raging accident under control. And that’s what Gorbachev did in 1986. He saw this flaming nuclear power station in Chernobyl. He called out the Red Air Force. He called out helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and buried the Chernobyl reactor in 5,000 tons of cement, sand and boric acid. That’s, of course, a last ditch effort. But I think the Japanese military should be called out.

    AMY GOODMAN: To do…?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Because of the fact that the radiation levels are so great, workers can only go in for perhaps 10 minutes, 15 minutes at a time, and they get their year’s dose of radiation. You’re there for one hour, and you have radiation sickness. You vomit. Your white corpuscle count goes down. Your hair falls out. You’re there for a day, and you get a lethal amount of radiation. At Chernobyl, there were 600,000 people mobilized, each one going in for just a few minutes, dumping sand, concrete, boric acid onto the reactor site. Each one got a medal. That’s what it took to bring one raging nuclear accident under control. And I think the utility here is simply outclassed and overwhelmed.

    AMY GOODMAN: And yet, these workers are in for much longer periods of time.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: That’s right. And we don’t even know how much radiation levels they’re getting, because many areas around the site have no monitors. So we don’t even know how much radiation many of these workers are getting. And that’s why I’m saying, if you have access to the military, you can have the option of sandbagging the reactor, encasing it in concrete, or at least have a reserve of troops that can go in for brief periods of times and bring this monster under control.

    AMY GOODMAN: What about the evacuation zone? Is it big enough?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: It’s pathetic. The United States government has already stated 50 miles for evacuating U.S. personnel. The French government has stated that all French people should consider leaving the entire islands. And here we are with a government talking about six miles, 10 miles, 12 miles. And the people there are wondering, “What’s going on with the government? I mean, why aren’t they telling us the truth?” Radiation levels are now rising 25 miles from the site, far beyond the evacuation zone. And remember that we could see an increase in leukemia. We could see an increase in thyroid cancers. That’s the inevitable consequence of releasing enormous quantities of iodine into the environment.

    AMY GOODMAN: What has to happen to the plant ultimately?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, in the best-case scenario—this is the scenario devised by the utility itself—they hope to bring it under control by the end of this year. By the end of this year, they hope to have the pumps working, and the reaction is finally stabilized by the end of this year.

    AMY GOODMAN: Oddly, it’s sounding a little bit like BP when they were trying to plug up the hole.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Right.

    AMY GOODMAN: “It will happen. It will happen.”

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: They’re literally making it up as they go along. We’re in totally uncharted territories. You get any nuclear engineering book, look at the last chapter, and this scenario is not contained in the last chapter of any nuclear engineering textbook on the planet earth. So they’re making it up as they go along. And we are the guinea pigs for this science experiment that’s taking place. Then it could take up to 10 years, up to 10 years to finally dismantle the reactor. The last stage is entombment. This is now the official recommendation of Toshiba, that they entomb the reactor over a period of many years, similar to what happened in Chernobyl.

    AMY GOODMAN: Entomb it in…?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: In a gigantic slab of concrete. You’re going to have to drill underneath to make sure that the core does not melt right into the ground table. And you’re going to put 5,000 tons of concrete and sand on top of the flaming reactor.

    AMY GOODMAN: Should people be concerned about any food that says “From Japan”?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Not from Japan. But remember, in the area, the sea, we’re talking about levels that are millions of times beyond legal levels found right there. However, as you start to get out further, radiation levels drop rather considerably.

    AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to talk about policy in this country. I mean, we are now seeing happening in Japan this horrific event. Japan was the target of the dawn of the Nuclear Age, right?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Mm-hmm.

    AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki. Your own family mirrors the history of the Nuclear Age. Can you talk just briefly about that, before we talk about current U.S. policy?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Yeah, first of all, I have relatives in Tokyo, and they’re wondering about evacuation. In fact, some of my relatives have already evacuated from Tokyo. They have little children. And radiation has already appeared in the drinking water in Tokyo. And so, people are wondering, you know, especially for young children, for pregnant women, should they leave. People are voting with their feet now. A lot of people are voluntarily evacuating from Tokyo, because they simply don’t believe the statements of the utility, which have consistently lowballed all the estimates of radiation damage.

    AMY GOODMAN: And, though, in the past, in terms of your own family’s history, your parents, being interned in the Japanese American internment camps?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: That’s right. In California, my parents were interned in the relocation camps from 1942 to 1946, four years where they were put essentially behind barbed wire and machine guns, under the supervision of the United States military.

    AMY GOODMAN: And yet, you became a nuclear physicist, interestingly enough, and you worked with the people who made the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Yeah. In fact, my high school adviser was Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb. And he arranged for me to get a scholarship to Harvard, in fact, and that began my career as a nuclear scientist. And Edward Teller, of course, wanted me to work on the Star Wars program. He put a lot of pressure and said, “Look, we’ll give you fellowships, scholarships. Go to Los Alamos National Laboratory, Livermore National Laboratory. Design hydrogen bombs.” But I said no. I said, “I cannot see my expertise being used to advance the cause of war.”

    AMY GOODMAN: And you’ve been very outspoken when it comes to nuclear power in the United States. This, of course, has raised major issues about nuclear power plants around the world, many countries saying they’re not moving forward. President Obama is taking the opposite position. He really is very much the nuclear renaissance man. He is talking about a nuclear renaissance and has not backed off, in fact reiterated, saying this will not stop us from building the first nuclear power plants in, what, decades.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, there’s something called a Faustian bargain. Faust was this mythical figure who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited power. Now, the Japanese government has thrown the dice with a Faustian bargain. Japan has very little fossil fuel reserves, no hydroelectric power to speak of, and so they went nuclear. However, in the United States, we’re now poised, at this key juncture in history, where the government has to decide whether to go to the next generation of reactors. These are the so-called gas-cooled pebble bed reactors, which are safer than the current design, but they still melt down. The proponents of this new renaissance say that you can go out to dinner and basically have a leisurely conversation even as your reactor melts down. But it still melts. That’s the bottom line.

    AMY GOODMAN: And so, what do you think should happen? Do you think nuclear power plants should be built in this country?

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: I think there should be a national debate, a national debate about a potential moratorium. The American people have not been given the full truth, because, for example, right north of New York City, roughly 30 miles north of where we are right now, we have the Indian Point nuclear power plant, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has now admitted that of all the reactors prone to earthquakes, the one right next to New York City is number one on that list. And the government itself, back in 1980, estimated that property damage would be on the order of about $200 billion in case of an accident, in 1980 dollars, at the Indian Point nuclear power station.

    AMY GOODMAN: No private corporation could even build a nuclear power plant: you have to have the taxpayers footing the bill.

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: You have to have what is called the Price-Anderson Act, having the United States government guarantee the insurance. Nobody will guarantee—nobody will sell an insurance policy for a nuclear power plant, because who can afford a $200 billion accident? That’s why the United States government has underwritten the insurance for every nuclear power plant. So the Price-Anderson Act is an act of Congress that mandates the U.S. government, the taxpayers, will underwrite the insurance, because nuclear power stations are not insurable.

  165. George says:

    Milk produced in Fukushima prefecture is now back on store shelves as radiation levels have now declined to safe levels.

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/14_22.html

  166. George says:

    Dr. Kaku is an activist, not an objective observer. He has been spewing that anti-nuclear drivel for year.

    For example:

    DR. MICHIO KAKU: Well, Tokyo Electric has been in denial, trying to downplay the full impact of this nuclear accident. However, there’s a formula, a mathematical formula, by which you can determine what level this accident is. This accident has already released something on the order of 50,000 trillion becquerels of radiation. You do the math. That puts it right smack in the middle of a level 7 nuclear accident.

    That is highly misleading. Practically all of that radiation released at Fukushima was I-131 (and much shorter lived I-132 of which none remains today) which has now mostly decayed. Chernobyl saw a release of much longer-lived particulate fission product. So while a lot of Chernobyl’s radiation is still very much in the environment with hundreds of square miles of land off limits, probably for several more decades, most of Fukushima’s radiation is already gone.

    I won’t even bother with the rest of his stuff as it is pretty much speculation and agitation. It is propaganda. It is misleading and disinformation. In other words, he is trying very hard to mislead you and apparently you have either fallen for it or what he is saying is what you “want” to believe so you cling to it a truth.

  167. Francisco says:

    The notion that it was “practically all” I-131 and that it “has now mostly decayed” is incompatible with the fact that just a few days ago they expanded the evacuation zone. If it was “practically all” I-131 released at the beginning, it would be by now more than 4 half lives gone (1/16 left) and they would not be expanding the evacuation zone. Clearly the radiation is not dropping at anywhere near that rate, is it? And the regular radiation counters cannot telll you the isotope. Either the iodine keeps on coming, or there was a lot of cesium and other stuff at the start. You also must have read this a few days ago:

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/12_19.html –> The agency said its calculations show that 370-thousand terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131 **and cesium 137** have been released from the plant.

    Kaku, a nuclear physicist, is not an “objective observer” because objective observers don’t exist. But what he has to say on the matter is at least as worthy of attention as what a nuclear enthusiast has to say.

    The nuclear safety commission, in a joint press conference with the agency, put the estimated leak at 630-thousand terabecquerels of **both** substances.

  168. Francisco says:

    The Japan Times
    Friday, April 15, 2011

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110415a7.html

    Fish near Fukushima have cesium

    Radioactive cesium 25 times above the legal limit for consumption was detected Wednesday in young sand lance caught off Fukushima Prefecture, the health ministry said.

    One of the sampled fish tested for cesium had 12,500 becquerels per kg.

    It was caught about 500 meters off Iwaki and 35 km from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, it said. The limit for cesium is 500 becquerels under the Food Sanitation Law.

  169. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Sorry, but I would not believe anything Cu Cu Kaku has to say. He is someone that is a prime example of someone that has been educated way beyond his intelligence. Nobel or not. pg

  170. E.M.Smith says:

    @Francisco:

    I sporadically watch “Democracy Now!”. It’s about as fringe “progressive” as you can get without being outright communist. I use it for my “radical left wing” marker / anchor…

    Michio Kaku has become a “media darling” with “all the right views”.

    OK, that’s not enough for me to “toss him” but it does lead to a few very large red flags.

    So what do I run into in his first statement? That doing the math puts Japan “smack in the middle” of a level 7 event.

    One Small Problem: Level 7 is “open ended”…

    How do you get “smack in the middle” of something with an infinite upper bound?

    OK that’s a flag to me…. That’s the kind of thing where one or two of them is maybe OK, but the person is either wrong, stupid, or sloppy, or has an agenda driving them. Not what you want to be thinking about an “authoritative source”…

    But it sends me off to find out just exactly what IS the definition. Maybe I “missed something” that he knew…

    http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/INES-2009_web.pdf

    Page 5:

    Each event needs to be considered against each of the relevant areas described in Section 1.2, namely: people and the environment; radiological barriers and controls; and defence in depth. The event rating is then the highest level from consideration of each of the three areas. The following sections briefly describe the principles associated with assessing the impact on each area.

    Oh, it’s not just a Bq number. It’s also barriers and controls and defense in depth… so there is more wiggle room in it than Mr. Kaku states.

    The simplest approach to rating actual consequences to people would be to base the rating on the doses received. However, for accidents, this may not be an appropriate measure to address the full range of consequences. For example, the efficient application of emergency arrangements for evacuation of members of the public may result in relatively small doses, despite a significant accident at an installation. To rate such an event purely on the doses received does not communicate the true significance of what happened at the installation, nor does it take account of the potential widespread contamination. Thus, for the accident levels of INES (4–7), criteria have been developed based on the quantity of radioactive material released, rather than the dose received. Clearly these criteria only apply to practices where there is the potential to disperse a significant quantity of radioactive material. In order to allow for the wide range of radioactive material that could potentially be released, the scale uses the concept of “radiological equivalence.” Thus, the quantity is defined in terms of terabecquerels of 131I, and conversion factors are defined to identify the equivalent level for other isotopes that would result in the same level of effective dose. For events with a lower level of impact on people and the environment, the rating is based on the doses received and the number of people exposed.

    OK, it’s a bit of a ‘rubber ruler’ that mostly cares about damage done to people, but might also be based on quantity of stuff released. Yet… There is a conversion table that assumes you know what was released. And a choice of using actual doses received and number of people exposed if not much impact actually has happened.

    Looks to me like they are envisioning a choice where on one hand you have so many people impacted and so much damage the best you can do is sample some releases and calculate a probable result. But if it’s not that bad, it’s OK to just say “well, only 20 people died so it’s not a 7″…

    This is more “flexible” every minute…

    Two methods are given for assessing the radiological significance of a release, depending on the origin of the release and hence the most appropriate assumptions for assessing the equivalence of releases. If there is an atmospheric release from a nuclear facility, such as a reactor or fuel cycle facility, Table 2 gives conversion factors for radiological equivalence to 131I that should be used. The actual activity of the isotope released should be multiplied by the factor given in Table 2 and then compared with the values given in the definition of each level. If several isotopes are released, the equivalent value for each should be calculated and then summed (see examples 5–7). The derivation of these factors is explained in Appendix I.

    OK, so exactly how “simple” was that math Mr. Kaku said we could do?… and it depends on a knowledge of exactly what isotopes were released, yet a lot of it went out to sea unmeasured… so now I’m starting to see a whole lot of opportunities for “just making things up”…

    and on page 16:

    For events involving releases that do not become airborne (e.g. aquatic releases or ground contamination due to spillage of radioactive material), the rating based on dose should be established, using Section 2.3. Liquid discharges resulting in doses significantly higher than that appropriate for Level 3 would need to be rated at Level 4 or above, but the assessment of radiological equivalence would be site specific, and therefore detailed guidance cannot be provided here.

    Oh….

    So since most of the radiation released is either in the water on land or washed out to sea or airborne over the sea and rained into it… it doesn’t really fall under these guidelines… as it would be “site specific”… and if any site is ‘site specific’ it is this one… But, while I’d say at this point, just on what we’ve seen so far; the scale can’t be applied numerically, lets assume it can and go on to page 17. What does it say is a ’6′?:

    Level 6

    “An event resulting in an environmental release corresponding to a quantity of radioactivity radiologically equivalent to a release to the atmosphere of the order of thousands to tens of thousands of terabecquerels of 131I.” With such a release, it is very likely that protective action such as sheltering and evacuation will be judged necessary to prevent or limit health effects on members of the public.

    Well, 50,000 “trillion” is 50,000 “tera” and that’s smack in the middle of “Tens of thousands” of TBq. (as they start at 10,000 and go to 90,000) so to me it is looking like a “6″ fits just fine. Even assuming Mr. Kaku has a valid TBq number and gave it the right isotope rating (which is highly unlikely to have been possible.)

    How about Level 7?

    Level 7

    “An event resulting in an environmental release corresponding to a quantity of radioactivity radiologically equivalent to a release to the atmosphere of more than several tens of thousands of terabecquerels of 131I.” This corresponds to a large fraction of the core inventory of a power reactor, typically involving a mixture of short and long lived radionuclides. With such a release, stochastic health effects over a wide area, perhaps involving more than one country, are expected, and there is a possibility of deterministic health effects. Long-term environmental consequences are also likely, and it is very likely that protective action such as sheltering and evacuation will be judged necessary to prevent or limit health effects on members of the public.

    OK, so we’re into the “100,000 of TBq and up range”. With health impacts.

    But we haven’t got health impacts and we don’t have 100,000+ TBq. ( Per his number of “the order of 50,000 trillion becquerels”)

    At this point, I don’t see any reason to spend an hour of my life on each of the additional assertions by Mr. Kaku as his basic first step is screwed up.

    Please take the time to fact check the stuff you are linking to. I don’t like needing to do it for you and clearly it is needed….

    UPDATE: Oh God! I read the second half of that section. He thinks a scrammed cold core can have a melt down from a quake? He’s just wrong and very nutty at that point.

    “Ticking time bomb” at the slightest disturbance? Hasn’t he noticed the persistent series of 6.x and 7.x quakes as things continue to get better.

    I’m sorry, but that’s just trash talk. Complete and unadulterated garbage. Please do not post such trash here again.

  171. E.M.Smith says:

    “Kaku, a nuclear physicist, is not an “objective observer” because objective observers don’t exist. But what he has to say on the matter is at least as worthy of attention as what a nuclear enthusiast has to say.”

    Wrong, and wrong.

    First off, you can find objective observers. Second, if you lack the skill to sort them out yourself, you can at least arrange them on a scale and find the mid point. Kaku is at A WAYOUT FRINGE EXTREME… As such, i don’t care what his degree WAS in, he is presently a MEDIA DARLING POLITICAL ACTIVIST and that seems to involve a “rational thoughtectomy” or a “moralsectomy”, I’m not sure which…

    So no, what he has to say is of no worth whatsowever and even a cursory cross check on his positions and statements shows them horridly broken.

    A cold core with rods scrammed and under water at 150 C is going to have a melt down? That isn’t nuclear physics, that’s what you find in the trash rags at the checkout stands right next to “space aliens impregnate mom”…

    So either find some decent CENTRIST sources to site or I will be truncating this discussion. (Feel free to post “Fear Monger says “foo”, Centrist says “bar”, Industry sop says “foobar” I agree with {pick one} because {…}). My goal here is not “censorship” but “Reasonable balance”. So either flat out drop the “radical” view or present it in a balanced context.

    But just posting the crap from the “When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!!!” folks who act like their hair is on fire does NOT bring any truth or insight to things. This is not a place for endless bickering from a radical end point of the scale.

    The posting on fish is a good example of something beneficial. It has an identified risk, it is found far from the release site, and it is a “nasty stuff” of 30 year half life (though a much shorter biological half life).

    Fact based, clearly showing a danger that has not been surfaced before. Something to think about…

  172. Chuckles says:

    Gotta love those terabecquerels… perfect for an alarmist since it is such a minute unit (one atomic decay per second) that we can add lots of zeros in and make it sound scary.
    Not very meaningful in terms of ‘dose received’ by anything either.

    It seems to me that many people have no understanding of radioactivity and radiation since there seems to be a fear that ANY radiation emitted as Fukushima will instantly make everything in the world intensely radioactive?

    The glow in the dark fish reported (12500 becquerel/kg, snort) are simply evidence that someone took some readings and got those results, which indicate that the fish at some stage ingested or absorbed some caesium. Nothing links it to ongoing events at Fukushima, unless they’re labelling the caesium atoms as they leave the plant?

    An alternative viewpoint, and one much closer to my own, here –

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/12/fukushima_ffs/

  173. George says:

    Not to mention that cesium is water soluble and will be eliminated naturally. In humans, half of any absorbed cesium will be eliminated in 70 days. In other words, it has a biological half-life of 70 days. So that fish, once in waters with a lower cesium content, will begin eliminating it immediately. I don’t know what the biological half-life is in fish, though, but it is generally lower the smaller the organism.

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110415e6.pdf

    Notice that this chart is logarithmic. Each Y axis line is an order of magnitude.

  174. George says:

    Also note that these contaminants (mostly cesium iodide and cesium chloride) are extremely easy to remove from water. Nearly all of it can be removed by simply passing the water through what amounts to a giant Brita water filter. Passing the water through an activated charcoal filter will remove a very large amount of the contamination.

    So the contaminated water being pumped from the turbine building basements can be fairly easily treated to remove most of the contaminants. This is exactly why they have a waste treatment facility on the site. Reverse osmosis can also be used as a final treatment if desired and is used to produce the actual cooling water during normal operations.

  175. George says:

    TEPCO reported to the safety agency that it had released 10,393 tons of water containing a total of 150 billion bequerels of radioactive materials from the plant into the Pacific Ocean between April 4 and 10.

    The operator, which earlier projected that the readings could reach 170 billion bequerels, said it had not detected any substantial changes in the levels of radioactive materials in seawater sampled off the plant’s shore and farther offshore since the release.

    the level of radiation a person would be exposed to by eating seafood caught in nearby waters every day for a year would amount to 0.6 millisievert, which is still lower than the annual exposure limit of 1 millisievert for ordinary people.

    TEPCO reported its third detection of plutonium in soil samples taken March 31 and April 4 at the nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture. The samples had levels of plutonium around the same as those observed in Japan following past nuclear bomb tests abroad.

    –Kyodo

  176. George says:

    And one more from Kyodo:

    The visiting head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency said Friday he will recommend that the Russian Foreign Ministry lift its advisory against travel to Japan as his team has not found abnormal levels of radiation during its trip.

    Vladimir Uiba told a press conference at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo that health checks conducted on embassy officials had detected no problems with their thyroid glands, which are prone to absorbing radioactive iodine, while radiation readings from cars used by the embassy were also normal.

    No problems were detected among Russians who were checked after returning from Japan following the start of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on March 11, Uiba said.

    So it looks like calm is beginning to be restored despite some people’s best effort to inflame hysteria.

  177. Francisco says:

    I may or not say a few things about objective observers later, as time allows. Meantime this is an interview conducted today or yesterday with Arnold Gundersen for his assessment of the current situation.

    GlobalPost: Last month, officials said that the possibility of a large scale radiation release from Fukushima was “small.” You disagreed. You told GlobalPost that there was a “50-50 chance of a catastrophic release.” Now, nearly every day we hear about new releases. Has this added up to a catastrophic release?

    Arnold Gundersen: Yes, Fukushima has released catastrophic levels of radiation. There hasn’t been a single Chernobyl size blast, but there have been three explosions, as well as radioactive venting that will continue into the future. And there are still potential bumps in the road. It’s not over yet.

    This week the Japanese authorities elevated the crisis from 5 to 7. That suggests it’s on a par with Chernobyl. Is this accident as bad as Chernobyl?

    It’s worse than Chernobyl. That accident involved a single reactor. Fukushima involves three reactors. Additionally, there are several years worth of fuel in the spent fuel pools of units 1 through 4. Added together, that’s roughly the equivalent of eight reactor cores.

    Right now, I don’t think any single reactor is as bad as Chernobyl, but they have essentially eight different problems.

    The Japanese government has said that Fukushima has released about 10 percent as much radiation as Chernobyl. Do you think that’s accurate?

    I’d say that’s the minimum that’s been released. It’s possible that the accident has released as much as Chernobyl already. If not, we’re heading in that direction. I think the Japanese have wanted to avoid instilling fear. So as a result they are more likely to downplay than exaggerate the releases.

    Estimating radiation releases is never easy. I’ve studied both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. The statistics on how much radiation was released were made after the accidents were over, by scientists who have skin in the game. During a nuclear accident, all of the radiation detectors are blown to smithereens, so you’re not actually measuring the contamination, you’re calculating them based on sampling. When you do that you can introduce bias.

    So if it’s worse than Chernobyl, is this the worst industrial accident ever?

    I think this and the Bhopal accident in India [where hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the toxic gas methyl isocyanate, killing thousands] are going to be neck and neck for that category. So it’s worse than Chernobyl but in the same category as Bhopal. But certainly from a cost standpoint, this is the most expensive one ever.

    I absolutely disagree with the scientists who say that Fukushima’s not going to hurt anyone. The numbers I’ve seen, from reputable scientists, are that Fukushima is going to kill 200,000 from increased cancers over the next 50 years.

    Is the evacuation zone big enough?

    It’s not a question of size, but of timing. I was saying that it should be 19 miles (30 kilometers) a month ago. They’re now extending it to 19 miles, but they’re giving people a month to leave.

    If there’s any good news from Fukushima it’s that the wind was blowing offshore most of the time. If the wind was blowing onshore, Japan would be cut in half. There would be an uninhabitable zone going right across the island if the wind was blowing the other way.

    Are international organizations effectively keeping an eye on this?

    The International Atomic Energy Agency has been behind in its analysis since the very first week. They were saying that 5 percent of the fuel was damaged when I was saying 70 percent. I don’t have any faith that the IAEA data is accurate.

    How does an independent expert such as yourself get data?

    I’m working with an informal network of independent university professors around the world. I’m actually hoping to get more people providing information through this network.

    My experience with Chernobyl and Three Mile Island is that the government and industry will circle the wagons and try to prevent information from accumulating in private hands. The same happened with France, which gets much of its electricity from nuclear. The government there downplayed Chernobyl releases.

    The difference now is that we have the internet. Independent scientists can more readily share information quickly, and bureaucracies don’t know how to respond to that. So I’m hoping that this will prevent governments from distorting information. Yet I do believe that they are getting away with downplaying the crisis right now.

    This crisis is now labeled a 7, the most severe possible nuclear accident. Does this accurately represent how bad the accident is, or if there were an 8 or 9, would you rate it worse?

    It’s a 7 now. If you’re asking, does it have the potential to get worse? The answer is yes. Let me explain the biggest risks for the future.

    In unit 1, there’s so much mud in the reactor that they can’t get water into the core, which they would normally need to do to prevent it from overheating and melting down. Instead, it appears that they are flooding it from the outside, and cooling it that way.

    That’s working, except that the containment structure on unit 1 was not designed to handle all the excess weight from the water. If there’s an earthquake — not a magnitude 9 on the Richter scale, like the one that kicked off the accident, but one just over 7 — the containment could fail.

    If that happens, unit 1 could become a Chernobyl on its own.

    But my biggest fear right now is the unit 4 spent fuel pool — the area outside the containment where they store the degraded but still-radioactive fuel that they’re no longer using to power the reactor. That worries me a lot.

    There was a report this week that they found iodine-131 in that fuel pool. Iodine-131 can only come from nuclear fission, and because it has a short life, it disappears after about 80 days.

    In other words, the presence of iodine-131 suggests that the spent fuel has started its own chain reaction without any human intervention.

    That tells me that the racks that have been distorted — by the earthquake, or by the crane that fell in, or by the heat that caused the first explosion.

    You’re talking about the racks in the fuel pool that keep the spent fuel apart, preventing the chain reaction that normally goes on in the reactor. And you’re saying that these racks were apparently damaged, enabling the fuel to reach critical mass and re-start the chain reaction on their own, without controls?

    Yes. As workers pour water into unit 4 — which they need to do to keep it cool — they might essentially be creating a nuclear reactor, without control rods used to shut down the reaction, and without a containment building to keep the radiation in.

    So unit 4 is still a significant risk. The fuel could get hot enough from the chain reaction that it will boil the water out again. So we could still get a fuel pool fire. That would volatilize some really heavy elements, sending some highly carcinogenic materials into the atmosphere. This should be a very big concern.

    And that’s not the only problem. Another concern is that as a result of the accident, the building housing unit 4 is very weak structurally. They’re going to have to shore it up somehow from below so it can handle all the extra weight. Right now there’s little or no water in the fuel pool. They need to add water to keep the fuel cool. The pool has a crack in it, so it’s not clear that they can fill it with water. If they do, they will add so much weight that if there’s another seismic event it could cause the building to break, which would not be good.

    How likely is it that the accident will get worse?

    My read is that the accident could get worse if an earthquake impacts unit 1, or if unit 4’s spent fuel starts a nuclear reaction without any human intervention. Both of those are maybe a 10 or 20 percent probability.

    So there’s about a 70 percent chance that the worst is behind us, and a 30 percent chance that things could still get worse.

    There are a lot of balls in the air. As Dave Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists says, “Even the best juggler in the world can have too many balls in the air. They have a lot of critical things in the air, and one wrong move could make the situation much, much worse.”

    What about the risks to units 2 and 3?

    In unit 2, they’re pouring water in the top to cool the fuel. Nuclear reactors are usually cooled using a closed system, in which cooling water circulates through the fuel rods. When the water gets hot, it is cooled via a heat exchanger and re-used in the reactor. Because it never leaves the reactor the radiation stays inside.

    But the water they’re pouring into the top of unit 2 is flowing out the bottom because the containment is leaking. So unit 2 is the biggest polluter of the Pacific. It’s going to constantly pour out water at a terrible level but it’s stable. I don’t think it’s going to get worse.

    What about unit 3?

    Unit 3 is the one that looks the worst, with the most rubble. But the reactor is actually the closest to being cool. It’s almost at boiling, 200 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than any of the other units.

    That said, the spent fuel pool on unit 3 looks from all the pictures to be partially obliterated. And it’s the most highly contaminated because of the explosion. The damage to this facility tells me that the fuel has been scattered, and will be hard to reconstitute.

    Do you think TEPCO and the Japanese authorities are doing a good job handling the crisis, and communicating the risks?

    No. I think they’re doing a better job now than they were at first. But I don’t think they’re doing a good job. Part of the problem for at least the first three weeks was that the data was so poor. You can’t make good decisions based on bad data. I think that affected some decisions that were made poorly.

    Things are better now as far as getting control, but I don’t think they’re really conveying the risks to the public.

    Let’s talk about the impact on people. What does this mean for Japan? When will people be able to go back to their homes?

    Within six miles, I don’t think they’re going back within a generation. There will be so much contamination and it will take too long to clean. They’ve already found plutonium in the form of fuel rods off of the nuclear plant site.

    There are also indications that some areas 25 miles away have cesium concentrations higher than Chernobyl. You’re going to be monitoring dairy and beef cattle for years.

    How will this affect the ocean? And how will it affect fish?

    Here’s how it works: The cesium settles on the seafloor. That gets absorbed by aquatic plants, seaweed and other life. The bottom feeders eat that, and other animals eat them, and it works its way up the food chain. Eventually, it will make it into the larger fish that we and the Japanese eat — the tuna and the salmon, for example.

    You’ll be monitoring fish, I think, for decades.

    Will that be limited to Japan?

    I think most of the contamination will be localized to within 100 miles of the plant. The problem is that fish swim. The bigger fish swim longer distances, and now of course they’re flown around the world for eating. It’s too early for that contamination to show up in these predators. It has to work its way up the food chain. You’re probably safe to eat fish in Tokyo now. I’d worry about it more in three or four months than I do now. They’ll have to monitor fish markets by sampling the meat and putting it in a detector to see if it’s contaminated.

    That said, they’ve already found contamination in small fish 35 miles south of the plant.

    Is it likely that the levels of contamination will be harmful for human consumption?

    Yes. Here’s an example: Chernobyl wafted cesium 137 into Germany. We’re talking about more than 300 miles. Even now, 25 years later, the wild boar that eat the mushrooms on the soil that’s absorbed the cesium 137, can’t be eaten.

    When hunters capture a wild boar, they give it to a state lab to determine whether it’s clean. One-third of the wild boars are contaminated. So with that as an example on an airborne release, I can’t imagine that a waterborne release will be any different.

    What about the many products that are manufactured in Japan and transported around the world? Are they safe?

    Aside from food, I wouldn’t worry about Toyotas or silicon chips for computers or other industrial products. They’ll be fine.

    Will there be health impacts in North America? What are you doing to protect yourself?

    I bought Iodine pills, but I’m not using them. I don’t think the radioactive iodine releases in New England, where I live, are going to be significant enough to worry about. I haven’t looked at California or Alaska or other West Coast data.

    After our last interview, you were criticized as an alarmist by people ranging from a Vermont state senator to Rush Limbaugh. Now that the crisis has been elevated to a 7, the maximum level, how would you respond to them?

    I was really being objective. I think that rather than me being an alarmist, they were being apologists. The record has shown that the alarmists were right and the apologists were wrong.

    Some commentators are saying that even with the Fukushima accident, nuclear power is far safer than coal, which kills thousands of people each year from mining accidents, pollution-related lung cancers and the like. Do you agree with this?

    Coal kills a lot of people, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s a false alternative to say we need more nukes because coal kills more people.

    I think we need to reconsider the central power station paradigm — where big power plants provide electricity to a large area. Whether it’s coal or nuclear, that was right for the 20th century. It’s wrong for the 21st century.

    My thought is that we shouldn’t shut nuclear reactors down immediately because they’re killing people in Japan. You simply can’t do that. Instead, Fukushima forces us to look at this paradigm of putting enormous amounts of money into one plant. The Votgle plants in Georgia — two of them will be pushing $20 billion. I think our money would be better spent distributing the grid.

    With the advent of smart grids and distributed transmission of electricity and power sources like a 2 megawatt windmill or a gas-powered “bloom box” fuel cell that generates electricity very efficiently, I think that by 2040 we’ll be a distributed energy network. New nukes are like the Maginot line of electricity. By building them, we’ll be trying to solve a problem that technology has already surpassed, the way the French built the Maginot line tried to prevent the Germans from invading. Instead, they just went around.

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/japan/110415/fukushima-death-toll-meltdown-chernobyl?page=0,0

  178. Level_Head says:

    It’s worse than Chernobyl. That accident involved a single reactor. Fukushima involves three reactors. Additionally, there are several years worth of fuel in the spent fuel pools of units 1 through 4. Added together, that’s roughly the equivalent of eight reactor cores.
    ***
    I think this and the Bhopal accident in India [where hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the toxic gas methyl isocyanate, killing thousands] are going to be neck and neck for that category. So it’s worse than Chernobyl but in the same category as Bhopal. … I absolutely disagree with the scientists who say that Fukushima’s not going to hurt anyone. The numbers I’ve seen, from reputable scientists, are that Fukushima is going to kill 200,000 from increased cancers over the next 50 years.

    Hopefully, seeing ridiculous comparisons like this — quoting data that you know from other sources to be false and/or ridiculously exaggerated — has put you off the notion that people like Gunderson, Kaku and Palast are to be trusted.

    But these quotes are really stellar examples of fear mongering, and I appreciate your gathering them in one place.

    I’d known of Kaku and Palast’s dishonesty for many years — Greg Palast once wrote about me. But Gunderson I’d paid no previous attention to.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  179. George says:

    Francisco, you aren’t educating anyone here or bringing any useful information to the table. You are simply parroting an agenda without any basis in reality. Please. Stop and think about what you are posting.

    Arnold Gundersen: Yes, Fukushima has released catastrophic levels of radiation.

    How can you believe that? Catastrophic? Have you any idea what a “catastrophe” is?

    Let is recap, shall we?

    1. Nobody has been killed.
    2. Nobody has been injured by radiation.
    3. Nobody has even been exposed to radiation over the safety limit for workers.

    How is that “catastrophic”? On what planet is “nobody hurt, nobody injured, nobody even beyond safety limits” a catastrophe?

    You seem to discount information taken on the ground at the scene yet accept misinformation, disinformation, and speculation from people thousands of miles away.

    Gundersen is talking through his pants. He is making things up. He is not speaking truthfully. I don’t know how many ways I can say that he is lying.

    Here is a simple fact:

    Replacing coal power with nuclear power would reduce radiation in the environment.

    Modern plants with today’s technology should not be compared to 1960′s plant designs. An event such as this one simply would not happen with a modern plant even under the same conditions. Modern plants do not need external power to run pumps to manage decay heat.

  180. David says:

    Francisco, there are many valid reasons to be concerned about Japan in particular and nuclear energy in general. That said, when you link such one sided poorly written propaganda, and do not respond directly to assertions and links provided by others, IMV you very poorly represent the anti nuclear case.

  181. Francisco says:

    My goodness, Chiefio, I did not foresee you could get so easily rattled by Dr Kaku. I didn’t post the second part of his interview, where he talks about the future, because I thought his rosy perspective lacks perspective. The internet, he says breathlessly, will be implanted in our cornea and we will be able to watch Amy Goodman and Bill O’Reilly (or their heirs) by just blinking in a certain way. When somebody talks to us we will be able to check his biography instantaneously online to see what they may be up to. Commands will be given to gadgets directly by our brain. Our cars will have autopilots that will drive us much more safely than we ever could to our destination, while we doze off or enjoy the landscape, and the aging process will be halted at whatever age we choose. So if you like being 30, you can choose to stay there pretty much indefinitely. Ms Goodman looked a bit embarrassed when listening to all this. Still, I never expect anyone, not even myself, to be free of dellusions, I simply take what I deem reasonable and dismiss the rest.

    [long rambling off topic meander deleted. -mod.]

  182. E.M.Smith says:

    Francisco

    My goodness, Chiefio, I did not foresee you could get so easily rattled by Dr Kaku.

    Welcome to the moderation queue.

    Here is clue one: It is not about me. Make it about me, you go to the queue. Got it?

    I’m not “rattled” by any of this. You are the one running around with your hair on fire. But KuKu Kaku is a complete farce. I’ll not have a thread devoted to finding out what is really happening contantly polluted, yes polluted with bilge water like that.

    You were warned, cajoled, given good examples to follow, given all sorts of guidance. What do you do?

    You try to make it about me.

    Clue #2: “Attack the messenger” gets you sent to moderation. Don’t attack the messenger. Present the MESSAGE that YOU have. What do YOU think. No thinking? No message? Then keep quiet.

  183. Gary P Smith says:

    @E.M.

    Thank you! Francisco’s attempts to pick a food fight were getting really boring.

    I would much rather see a detailed analysis of how modern day reactors would have performed in a similar situation.

    From what I’ve read, they would have fared much better, and I think I understand why with regards to many of them. But it would still be nice to catalogue in some kind of organized form, just how ‘fail safe’ the designs currently are, and if the Fukushima incident poses any challenges that weren’t considered in the most current designs.

  184. Francisco says:

    David
    “Francisco, there are many valid reasons to be concerned about Japan in particular and nuclear energy in general. That said, when you link such one sided poorly written propaganda, and do not respond directly to assertions and links provided by others, IMV you very poorly represent the anti nuclear case
    ==============

    Yes, there are indeed many valid reasons to be concerened, and I did address a good number of those reasons yesterday in a long post about certain aspects of the nuclear industry, its promises, its deliveries, its nature, its image and its infirmities. All of which was eliminated by the moderator for being off topic. The nuclear industry is off topic.

    [ No, Franciso, emotional ranting is "off topic". Being all wound around an axil and citing propaganda is off topic. The nuclear industry is very much on topic. Why you ended up in the Moderation Queue was an inabilty to stick to facts, conditions, the issue of what is KNOWN about the Fukushima disaster, and stay away from emotional tirades based on "maybe" "could" "might" "maybe" ... -E.M.Smith]

    Now, for an excellent account of current knowledge of radiation effects, you are urged to read this post at Washington’s Blog yesterday.

    [ Nope, you are not. I read it. A whole lot of "maybe, could, possibly, PANIC NOW!!!!" and some "Be afraid, be very afraid" but other than saying "babies are more damanged by nuclear exposure than others" which is a well know fact, full of emotional tripe and nonsense. Link Deleted. -E.M.Smith]

    Since my own thoughts don’t make it through customs, and since my own thoughts are the only thoughts I can have, there is no point in me trying to send them, at least not until they become sufficiently decontaminated through natural decay, which could take a while.

    [ Yes, it might. So calm down, find some factual data driven things that are of use, and no problem. Link to "hair on fire" folks in an emotional panic, well, that's not going to cut it. -E.M.Smith ]

    As a cheering antidote to the post above, you may watch Ann Coulter in this interview with O’Reilly:

    “With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.”

    [ Which, though you clearly are thinking it will cause folks to erupt in an emotional gusher of disgust as such horrors... actually sites the known reality. SOME radiation does seem to extend life and reduce cancer rates. WHY is not well understood, but "The facts just are. -E.M.Smith". And as much as you may find Ann Coulter a thistle in your craw, the fact is that she does get her facts right far more often than the folks on the Looney Side of Left. That you don't LIKE the facts does not make them go away. And the facts say that not only is there a 'threshold' to get damage, but there is a threshold above which you gain benefit. There is no doubt about it. It has been demonstrated many times. It is your desire to PANIC over exposures that are, in fact, beneficial in many cases; that is why your "stuff" gets held up for inspection. "Don't Panic" and "Look at the DATA and the FACTS" and you will have far less "problems"... -E.M.Smith]

  185. George says:

    The primary difference is that modern reactors are designed to be able to dissipate decay heat with passive systems requiring no operator intervention and no external power.

    Generally they work though regular natural processes such as convection, evaporation, condensation, and gravity flow of water.

    To greatly (over)simplify:

    Imagine you have the reactor containment vessel enclosed in another metal shell. Over that metal shell you place a concrete shell but there is air space between them. There are air inlets at the bottom of the concrete shell and a chimney at the top.

    Now imagine you have an emergency and all power is cut. The primary containment vessel begins to heat up. Water begins to evaporate. The vapor rises and condenses on the inside of the metal shell. Then the water trickles down the sides into a catchment basin. As this metal shell heats up, the air surrounding it begins to rise this pulls in cool air through the air inlets at the bottom of the concrete shell. The hot air rises through the chimney and is exhausted to ambient. So you begin to set up a natural circulation of water which transfers the heat to the metal shell which then sets up a convection flow of air to shed the heat.

    If the metal shell gets too hot, a water reservoir around the chimney can allow water to spray onto the outside of the metal shell cooling it further.

    That external reservoir can be re-filled with standard fire equipment (a fire truck).

    That is a description of the Westinghouse AP600/AP800/AP1000 plant design. There is also the General Electric ESBWR which was, ironically, co-designed with Japan in order to address the very problems the current reactors are having:

    http://www.gepower.com/prod_serv/products/nuclear_energy/en/new_reactors/esbwr.htm

  186. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gary P. Smith:

    I’ll think about it, but I’m a bit swamped at the moment.

    Basically if you look at a modern car, it has a water pump (usually belt driven). Break the pump, or the belt, you have a dead engine pronto as it over heats and burns up.

    Look at an old Model T Ford. TALL and LARGE radiator. No water pump. Hot water rises in the engine, cold water sinks in the radiator (returning to the engine). Can’t lose your engine or have it burn up from water pump or belt failure as it doesn’t have one ;-)

    The “passive designs” are very simple. Put the emergency water up high so it gravity feeds. No need for emergency pump or electricity to run it. Make the valve one that is opened by an explosive bolt that blows if it gets too hot, now you don’t need to do a thing to turn it on either. Make the shell big enough to dissipate the heat (not just hold it in while a pump runs).

    One of my mantras is “A fan is an admission of engineering failure. -E.M.Smith” I apply it to all those whirring monsters folks sell for things like computers. Don’t believe me? Look at a high end audio amp. Several hundred watts of power. No fan… (Aluminum chunks are cheap, just bolt on a larger chunk of finned aluminum…) I’ve lost several computers to dead fans. Just silly.

    Went to one client site (new contract). First thing I did was walk behind the equipment racks with the back of my hand toward the fan height. Found one dead, one dying. Both machines had been up about 2 years non-stop (BSD Unix on a “white box PC”… gotta love it ;-) and the fans had crapped up with gunk. As their entire software build was on one of the boxes I informed them we were doing an emergency shutdown or they could be out of business; their choice. I was granted the shutdown ;-)

    So you look for things that need power to run, or pumps, or fans: then you replace them with things that need natural laws to run, like gravity, heat, convection. Usually means more metal and less electricity. Bigger pipes so a low pressure convection will move the fluids instead of a high pressure pump. Bigger radiators / heat exchangers so they work with lower flow rates or now fans. Stuff like that.

    Need to dump the moderator from the core in an overheat emergency? You put a ‘floor’ in the bucket that is made of something that melts at the “dump temperature”. Now in an overheat, that plug melts and the moderator dumps. No need for a pump as gravity pulls it down into a sump. No need for electricity and opening or closing valves, heat does that. No need for operators to ‘pull the plug’, it self pulls. I’ve seen one that used a refrigerated plug where if you lost electricity it lost refridgeration and melted.

    In the present situation, they would have had a scram, and a passive cooling, and nothing else.

    Now, that business with the spent fuel pool might, or might not, still happen. That would depend on how the spent fuel pool was handled at the newer reactors. I would hope it was in a low elevation such that water could be ‘run down hill’ into it. In that case, about day 3 or 4 a fire truck might have had to delver some water. But since the operators would not have been in a panic trying to deal with broken reactors, they would have had time to check the spent fuel pool and order water. (You could also make a passive pool with a water tank ‘up hill’ and passive delivery of water.)

  187. George says:

    In the Westinghouse AP design the spent fuel is managed in a building next to the reactor building, not in a pool several stories above ground on top of the reactor. With the Westinghouse design, they could simply run a hose into the building to add additional water if needed.

  188. E.M.Smith says:

    Witha h/t to Chuckles in “tips”:

    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2011/04/things-that-make-you-gohmmm.html

    has an interesting perspective on the radiation levels around the reactor site. Would the folks in Japan voluntarily give themselves higher doses?

    There are quite a lot of “Radium Onsens” in Japan, in fact we have been to one in particular a few times (Masutomi-no-yu near Kinpu-san). I had assumed that the radiation level was not high these days but according to this link the water there may be about 11,000Bq/l (and a person here says some other onsen are 10x higher) – compare the recent fuss when Tokyo water briefly reached 200 Bq/l. Ok, the bathers aren’t generally drinking the onsen water and don’t spend very long there, but there are full-time staff and the whole neighbourhood must be (relatively) hot. The radon concentration in the air seems really high too – way in excess of the USA EPA’s “action level” of 4pCi/l = 148Bq/m3.

    It reads a bit better in “context” so I’d suggest hitting the link. Just didnt’ want to repost the whole thing here without permission.

  189. George says:

    There are similar things here in the US where people visit caves with very high radon content for therapeutic radiation.

  190. Francisco says:

    So they’ve sent some robots inside the reactor buildings to measure a few things. What the robots have measured is so far not known. But having to send robots means that the report from NHK about 14 days ago stating that nobody could get inside the reactor buildings 1 through 3 still holds. From the ex-skf japanese blog we learn that Yimiuri online is reporting that workers at the plant have measured the radiation *outside* the door to the reactor 3 building is at 270 mSv/h.

    That’s outside the building. So clearly nobody can yet go inside those buildings to do any work. So they have to keep pumping water in there. Now, depending on what reports you read, there are anywhere between 20 and 30 metric tons of water accumulated inside that plant (somewhre between 5 and 8 million gallons) and this stuff is either coming out as long as you keep pumping water in, or needs to be removed to pump more water. In the best case scenario, this situation is supposed to be maintained for 6 to 9 months in the hope that by that time things will have improved enough to go inside and do something.

    I am trying to make some positive sense out of all of this, but I can’t. Instead, I just get hives of sheer anxiety. And there are other plants outside Fukushima in various states of disrepair. At the same time, earthquakes keep coming every few days. I am supposed to believe that the situation is stabilized because, if we keep our fingers crossed tight enough, maybe they can keep pumping water over the reactors for 6 to 9 months, and maybe by then something else can be done. And the best thing that can happen is that radioactive water and steam will keep issuing out of there for 6 to 9 months.

    A last thought I offer today is just to point out the huge gap between the nuclear industry’s contribution to global energy needs, and its capacity to create big messes. The gap is very big. This thing delivers all of 3 to 5% of global energy consumption. It’s been a pigmey for all of its existence in this regard. But when it feels like messing up, it grows to imposing size. In comparison, the oil industry can also create big messes once in a while, but it can also tell you: “I do a lot of work”. Not to mention the fact that oil spills get (comparatively quickly) assimilated by life (bacteria actually ate up most of the oil in distant past oil sands). Whereas the nuclear industry can only tell you this: “I do very little work around here, but when I throw a tantrum I can give you a huge headache for a very long time.”

  191. Chuckles says:

    E.M.,

    Just to note that the number quoted for the therapeutic waters at the Onsen is 11 000 Bq/l. That is 11,000 Becquerels per LITRE. There are (I think?) 1000 litres in a cubic metre, and some Onsens are 10X that. Do the arithmetic.

    The comments link contains this wonderful copy –

    ‘Radon, or 222 radon isotope, is chemically inert gas that rises in the Ore Mountains depths and dissolves in underground springs. It is a resource of soft ionizing alpha radiation. During radon bath skin is exposed to a sort of energetic shower of radon alpha-particles, and thus a chain of physiological reactions is initiated. Radon penetration into blood circulation is minor and the biological half-life (working radon off the body) is 20 minutes (i.e. length of a radon bath itself).’

    Gotta get me some of that ‘soft ionizing alpha radiation’, much better than those wimpy ‘free radicals’.

    Strange that people actively seek out these places and pay money to attend. Rather than sending round the men in the radiation suits to close the place down and declare 20km exclusion zones?
    And I wonder where they discharge the water?

    Ah, but clearly this is ‘natural’ radiation, not that filthy man made stuff.

    Wildly off topic, but in a similar vein, at Gros Barmen Spa in Namibia, there is a discreetly placed sign next to one of the main pools. It advises guests against swallowing too much of the spa water, as it contains several tablespoons per litre of epsom salts…..
    Perhaps providing them with a pair of running shoes to keep next to the bed would have been more effective?
    And I certainly didn’t see any mention of the free anthelmintics in the glossy brochures. Gros Barmen sets you free!!!

  192. RBean says:

    For anyone who is tuned in: What and where are the most recent power reactors to start operating in the world? Are they this new generation of passive safety? What company? just interested

  193. E.M.Smith says:

    @Rbean:

    See:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf17.html

    BEGIN QUOTE:

    Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily but not dramatically, with over 60 reactors under construction in 15 countries.
    Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Europe, the USA and Russia.
    Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
    Plant life extension programs are maintaining capacity, in USA particularly.
    [...]
    In the USA there are proposals for over twenty new reactors and the first 17 combined construction and operating licences for these have been applied for. All are for late third-generation plants, and a further proposal is for two ABWR units. it is expected that some of the new reactors will be on line by 2020.

    In Canada there are plans to build up to 2200 MWe or more of new capacity in Ontario, and proposals for similar capacity in Alberta and one large reactor in New Brunswick.

    In Finland, construction is now under way on a fifth, very large reactor which will come on line in 2012, and plans are firming for another large one to follow it.

    France is building a similar 1600 MWe unit at Flamanville, for operation from 2012, and a second is to follow it at Penly.

    In the UK, four similar 1600 MWe units are planned for operation by 2019, and a further 6000 MWe is proposed.

    Romania’s second power reactor istarted up in 2007, and plans are being implemented for two further Canadian units to operate by 2017.

    Slovakia is completing two 470 MWe units at Mochovce, to operate from 2011-12.

    Bulgaria is planning to start building two 1000 MWe Russian reactors at Belene.

    In Russia, eight large reactors are under active construction, one being a large fast neutron reactor. Seven further reactors are then planned to replace some existing plants, and by 2016 ten new reactors totalling at least 9.8 GWe should be operating. Further reactors are planned to add new capacity by 2020. This will increase the country’s present 21.7 GWe nuclear power capacity to 43 GWe about 2020. In addition about 5 GW of nuclear thermal capacity is planned. A small floating power plant is expected to be completed by 2012 and others are planned to follow.

    Poland is planning some nuclear power capacity, and may also join a project in Lithuania, with Estonia and Latvia.

    Italy is planning to build substantial nuclear capacity and have 25% of its electricity from nuclear power by 2030, which will require 8 to 10 large new reactors by then.

    South Korea plans to bring a further seven reactors into operation by 2016, giving total new capacity of 9200 MWe. Of the first five, now under construction, three are improved OPR-1000 designs. Then come Shin-Kori-3 & 4 and after them Shin-Ulchin 1&2, the first of the Advanced PWRs of 1400 MWe, to be in operation by 2016. These APR-1400 designs have evolved from a US design which has US NRC design certification, and have been known as the Korean Next-Generation Reactor. Four further APR-1400 units are planned, and the design has been sold to the UAE (see below).

    Japan has two reactors under construction and another three likely to start building by mid 2011. It also has plans and, in most cases, designated sites and announced timetables for a further nine power reactors, totalling over 13,000 MWe which are expected to come on line by 2022.

    In China, now with 13 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the next phase of its nuclear power program. Some 27 reactors are under construction and many more are likely to be so by the end of 2011. Those under construction include the world’s first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant is due to start construction. Many more units are planned, with construction due to start within three years. But most capacity under construction will be the largely indigenous CPR-1000. China aims at least to quadruple its nuclear capacity from that operating and under construction by 2020.

    On Taiwan, Taipower is building two advanced reactors (ABWR) at Lungmen.

    India has 20 reactors in operation, and four under construction (two expected to be completed in 2011). This includes two large Russian reactors and a large prototype fast breeder reactor as part of its strategy to develop a fuel cycle which can utilise thorium. Twenty further units are planned. Ten further units are planned, and proposals for more – including western and Russian designs – are taking shape following the lifting of trade restrictions.

    Pakistan has a second 300 MWe reactor under construction at Chashma, financed by China. There are plans for two more Chinese power reactors.

    In Kazakhstan, a joint venture with Russia’s Atomstroyexport envisages development and marketing of innovative small and medium-sized reactors, starting with a 300 MWe Russian design as baseline for Kazakh units.

    In Iran nuclear power plant construction was suspended in 1979 but in 1995 Iran signed an agreement with Russia to complete a 1000 MWe PWR at Bushehr. Fuel is loaded for 2011 start-up.

    The United Arab Emirates has awarded a $20.4 billion contract to a South Korean consortium to build four 1400 MWe reactors by 2020.

    Jordan has committed plans for its first reactor to be operating by 2020, and is developing its legal and regulatory infrastructure.

    Turkey has contracts signed for four 1200 MWe Russian nuclear reactors at one site and is negotiating similar capacity at another. Its legal and regulatory infrastructure is well-developed.

    Vietnam has committed plans for its first reactors at two sites (2×2000 MWe), to be operating by 2020, and is developing its legal and regulatory infrastructure. The first plant will be a turnkey project built by Atomstroyexport. The second will be Japanese.

    Indonesia plans to construct 6000 MWe of nuclear power capacity by 2025.

    Thailand plans to start constructing an initial nuclear power station in 2014.

    Fuller details of all the above contries curently without nuclear power are in country papers or the paper on Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries.
    END QUOTE.

    There are links to evn more detail at the site. Most are very recent designs. China is building some based on the German Pebble Bed design.

    We in the west are mostly doing lifetime extensions and capacity expansions at existing plants as it is cheaper than trying to get a new design licenced. Yes, the regulatory environment is enouraging us to do more of the old stuff and not build new safer stuff.

  194. Hugo M says:

    Could someone explain why at reactor 4 several machine bolts which are normally fixing the top cover of the secondary containment apparently aren’t thight?

    http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-66983-17.html

  195. RBean says:

    so since 2010, 4 reactors started operating in the world, 3 PWR (Favored US type plant?) and 1 PWHR (Heavy Water Nazi plant?) These aren’t the passive safety type you guys have been talking about are they? The PWR’s sound like what we have been doing for decades. I’m sure they are improved, but are they revolutionary?

  196. RBean says:

    Hugo, #4 was shut down for mainenance, no fuel in it, cover removed.

  197. E.M.Smith says:

    @RBean:

    “Passive safe” is an orthogonal axis to PWR, BWR, PHWR, etc. Those terms have to do with the kind fo coolent and modertator regimine. “Passive safe” has more to do with how emergency systems for core scram and cooling are designed. (Larger pipes, convective flow instead of electric pump, etc.) So you can have a “Passive Safe” tacked on in front of any reactor technology type. (Though some are more passive safe by inherent design factors, such as the “pebble bed” reactors where excess heat expands the ‘pebbles’ until the average fuel density is too low excess power production. Power limited via thermal dynamics.)

    See:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/nuclear-reactor-types/

  198. George says:

    Pebble bed is safe but it isn’t without cost. Pebble bed is a nuclear waste nightmare. The “pebbles” can’t be reprocessed. They will retain their fission products that take tens of thousands of years to decay and will have to be disposed of somewhere. A given amount of fuel will still get just as hot from decay heat. Remember, this is a decay heat incident, not a criticality. A pebble bed reactor with the same fuel load running for the same period of time would still produce the same amount of decay heat. It would, however, not produce the hydrogen gas that was the problem here.

    But overall, once pebbles are spent, they have to be buried for a very long period of time.

    I believe the key is in a better fuel cladding that does not generate hydrogen gas and in recycling the fuel.

  199. George says:

    Ceramic cladding might be the answer:

    http://www.ctp-usa.com/why2.html

  200. P.G. Sharrow says:

    The reactor / hydrogen rocket used a ceramic coating on the fuel units to reduce the erosion caused by high velocity, high temperature hydrogen flowing through the reactor core. pg

  201. Level_Head says:

    P.G. Sharrow:

    The reactor / hydrogen rocket used a ceramic coating on the fuel units to reduce the erosion caused by high velocity, high temperature hydrogen flowing through the reactor core.

    A trivia bit: The Coors Brewing Company was very good at making their own ceramic brewing vats — to the point that they were contracted by the US government to build those porcelain ceramic containment chambers for nuclear rockets.

    That entity ultimately spun off of Coors Brewing, and is now called CoorsTek.

    I just looked — they don’t mention the nuclear rocket business at all. I am not surprised.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  202. Level_Head says:

    On Coors: Not just containment, but the “fuel elements” as well (for project Pluto):
    http://www.amug.us/downloads/Pluto-Phoenix Facility at the NTS.pdf

    The company is well known today for a much different product: while making ceramic-lined vats for breweries around the country, Adolph Coors realized that he might be in the wrong business. Although the Coors Porcelain Company continued to make porcelain — including all of the nearly 500,000 pencil-shaped fuel elements used in the Tory reactor — the brewery Adolph Coors opened near his ceramics factory soon became the tail that wagged the dog.

    This is a little misleading; they were involved in beer in the previous century.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  203. E.M.Smith says:

    @Level Head:

    So, all the best ideas do come from beer, one way or another ;-)

  204. Level_Head says:

    @E.M.Smith

    @Level Head:

    So, all the best ideas do come from beer, one way or another ;-)

    Of coors.

    And I don’t even drink; I have a rare genetic anomaly that makes me immune to every painkiller tried, and (I am told) would require toxic doses of alcohol to get a buzz. Morphine does not touch me, even at ten times the normal dose. I discovered this effect when waking up in the middle of surgery with a 14″ incision in my gut. I even burn through local anesthetics at a multiple of the usual rate.

    I didn’t realize this; my decisions not to use drugs and alcohol were correct by chance; they’d have killed me if I took enough for an effect — assuming that there would have been some pleasurable effect below death.

    So, as you say, good ideas do come from beer. But I will have to make do with my homebrew Snapple iced tea.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  205. Hugo M says:

    George said:

    Pebble bed is safe but it isn’t without cost. Pebble bed is a nuclear waste nightmare. The “pebbles” can’t be reprocessed. They will retain their fission products that take tens of thousands of years to decay and will have to be disposed of somewhere. A given amount of fuel will still get just as hot from decay heat.

    But exactly because of this situation, pebbles are also almost completely safe with respect to proliferation. Some time ago, I read a dissertation concerning methods of permanent waste disposal, which did propose a method for highly active nuclear materials. The method consisted in sinking a mine shaft about a kilometer deep and about a meter in diameter at at petrologically appropriate site. Then a mix of highly active material and medium active material is filled into a specially engineered package, so that temperature adjust at about 800°C (if memory serves me). Many of such packages are then stacked into the mine shaft, filling it up to, say, 500 m below surface. Pressure and temperature then slowly softens the rocks plastically, with the heavy stack pushing forward, up until reaching a depth where either thermal conduction becomes so high or dacay heat dropped so low that the partially molten rock around the stack crystalizes again — enclosing the materials inside a cocoon like barrier for eons to come. Well, even a mice could see that there are also other, less laudable applications of this technique. But I don’t know if it was ever tried.

  206. RBean says:

    Whether N.I.M.B.Y. or just political, IMHO the long term waste disposal is the biggest public obstacle to nuclear power. Need to either come up with a viable reprocessing (NIMBY and Politicaly viable) or with a plant that generates no (or very little) long term waste. Maybe fusion 20 years from now. The waste issue is actually big for me, kind of like the deficit, it just isn’t right to leave it for my kids and their kids.

  207. RBean says:

    E.M. Smith , thanks for the link, definitely interesting, but a bit over my head. Have the last several nuclear power plants achieved passive cooling and Fuku couldn’t happen to them? To much Info passed into to little understanding may have caused a TLBI (temporary loss of brain incident) for me. I am just trying to understand if the reactors actually newly operating are that much better than those built 40 years ago. I understand that if it was built in say 1970, then it ws designed in 1955 or so. have we got to the point where built in 2010 was maybe designed in 2000, when computers and design were “modern”?

  208. E.M.Smith says:

    @RBean:

    The short from: All new nuclear reactor designs are of a very safe form when compared to the ones from the 1970′s and 80′s that are presently in use. (With the possible exception of in China as I just don’t know what all they are doing. Many are the very save Toshiba / Westinghouse design, some a bit more questionable in that they seem to be builing “a few of everything”.

    To some extent that negative worry note is just based on my sloth and not taking the time to find out everything going on in a “thousands of reactors of many designs” program hidden inside China.

  209. George says:

    “But exactly because of this situation, pebbles are also almost completely safe with respect to proliferation.”

    So is on-site reprocessing. I could see the argument against reprocessing when nobody was doing it. Now, practically everybody is doing it. If the fuel is reprocessed on-site and nothing ever leaves, I have no problem with it.

    Actually, neither Fukushima nor Three Mile Island would have happened if we were using the newer ceramic fuel cladding. Both of these events are basically due to zircaloy cladding.

    Hydrogen explosions, cladding damage, cladding melt, etc. Ceramic clad rods would be able to withstand decay heat from rods with no damage and no hydrogen generation.

  210. Hi EM. This is proving to be another successful post for you, over 200 comments.
    In my previous contributions to this post, I was advocating dangers of radiation and the potential disaster from the Japananese NPP radiation.
    Respecting your and George’s technical knowledge, close monitoring of published levels and assessments at the time, I offered to fence sit rather than maintain the debate.
    Now I would like to re-raise this issue.

    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/04/21/1305267_042019.pdf

    publishes a comprehensive range of measurement sites and regular monitoring, together with a chart of relative levels including a global average radiation level in daiily life of 2,400 uSv/Year and a “recommended/suggested dose limit” for the public of 1,000 uSv/Year.

    Looking at the website figures for 19th/20th April a significant dose rate at post #83 is ~45 uSv/Hour at 20Km and a more average dose rate of about 10 in other higher level areas at 30Km.

    These dose rates equate respectively to ~390,000 and ~87,000 uSv/year.
    In fact even a common figure of 1 uSv/hr reaching a very extensive area gives 8.700 uSv/yr.

    Looking at the potential of these dose rates to cause harm, even the small but common rate, (outside the evacuation zone), exceeds the “recommended’ limit by 8 times.
    The worst rate exceeds the “limit” by 390 times.

    I accept there are several variables, weather (wind and rain), types of radioactive compounds, varying half-lives (some “short”) but I put it to you that it is not appropriate to say the radiation does not pose a significant threat to the many thousands (?tens of)of Japanese people outside the evacuation zone.
    Within the zone, I suggest that safe return will not be possible for many many years.

    Unlike yourself, I would not choose to live within 100 Km of a known leaking source. I assess the potential risk of living within say, 50 Km of a known sound NPP to be still be a gamble.

    [PS.Forgive me for not showing the miles equiv., above.
    I realize that the US has a large population and once had a huge manufacturing base, but I can never fathom their decision not change to the metric system like other Western countries.
    I seem to remember some time back you commented on the joys of being able to subdivide 12 into many smaller whole parts, and fractions of 1 are easy, there are certainly some advantages. But to be the only(?) country to stick to the imperial system does seem a bit, trying for the right word, maybe, idiosyncratic?]
    H/T for your blog!

  211. @ Level-Head.
    Re alcohol. Your genetic anomoly is presumably fairly unique, certainly interesting.
    I am only bothering to comment because your reason for not drinking, although sound, deserves a minor comment.
    Of course alcoholic drinks give a buzz, usually.
    But, for me, even the first mouthful of the drinks I like, provides me with pleasure. Only after a couple of glasses does the alcohol come into play.
    There may be some psychological aspect perhaps, the first taste being a fore-runner of the later pleasure, but a mouthful of a nice smooth red wine can be extremely pleasurable.
    Regards!
    Hope EM doesn’t mind a bit of trivia?

  212. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    Don’t mind the trivia.

    “If all your friends jump off a cliff, would you do it too?”…

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/unifying-the-cubits-the-yard-and-the-rod/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/chasing-the-greek-foot/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/making-an-english-foot/

    From the Greek Foot link:

    Somewhere along the line I was trying to find out how they properly located things on the planet, that led to geo – metrology, that lead to the fact that the Greeks and Egyptians had a measure named a ‘foot’ (pous) that is almost the same as the English foot. (Within a couple of mm 304.8 for the Engish, 304 mm for the Minoan, 308.4 for the Attic, 300 for the Egyptian and Phoenician, etc.)

    This lead me to the factoid that if you take the earth’s equatorial circumference in ‘feet’ (English) as 131479724.6 (from the wiki metric number, converted) and divide it by 360 x 1000 (call it 60 minutes x 60 seconds x 100 or call it 360 degrees x 1000) you get: 365.2214573

    Gee, that looks familiar, I think… Dividing by ‘tropical year days’ of 365.2422 gives 99.994% agreement. Hmmmm….

    (If the English foot were 304.7828 mm, which rounds to 304.8, the agreement would be 100.0000% which is inside the error band of 304.8 so it is possible that the original English foot is exact and the metric conversion is not precise enough to capture that…)

    Numerology? Or did those Ancient Greeks & British Druids know something? Is the ‘foot’ perhaps a bit more rational than mythology asserts?

    One can only hope that the Met Office can achieve 99.994% accuracy and that GISS can learn what those digits after the ‘point’ are all about… (“Never let your precision exceed your accuracy”…) and maybe that we can be as good at science as they were 4000+ years ago…

    So you see, there are very rational basis for the “traditional” units and I just see no reason to toss all that away for the metric one.

    Additionally, the traditional system is optimized for doing math in your head with fractions to high precision (whereas metric is better for mechanical means and with precision limited to the digits you can write down or remember… realize that 1/3 is exact. 0.33333 isn’t. Ditto 2/3 and 0.6666 etc. It’s not just ‘fraction of 1′ but all fractions.)

    As I often need to get “close enough fast” using only my head, I find that VERY convenient.

    Furthermore, the units are “comfy sized”. Usually you want a single digit of something. A mile, a quart, a pound, 3 yards. Or occasionally 2 units. 10 acres, 40 acres, one section…

    Then the division thing. I have a pound of butter and would like to split it between, variously, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 people. That is exactly 16, 8, 4, 2 2/3, 2, 1 1/3, or 1 ounce each. Even the odd bits are precise. 3/16, 5/16, 7/16, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16. I know EXACTLY now much to measure and can do it to the limits of my scale. A bit harder with metric (though 1, 2, 5 work ok). Basically, “factor rich” numbers work better for division. That’s why we still use base 60 for time.

    Add in the thing from that first link, that you can recreate this system anywhere on the planet with some string and sticks… well, it’s kind of an advantage if the world “has issues”.

    Finally, I’m very interested in the past. That means I find reason to be familiar with the units used in old texts.

    That it “spits in the eye” of the rest of the planet is just gravy ;-)

    But most folks in America are “bilingual” in units these days. So no need to “convert” for me. Oddly, we sometimes even used mixed systems. For example, every drug dealer knows there are 36 ounce baggies in a kilo ;-)

    I’ve also been known to calculate the Kg / sq ft loading and other useful things…

    On Radiation safety:

    First you must decide “How Long?” then you can choose a standard. If the “How Long?” is from birth to age 120 with that radiation level the whole time; go ahead and use the ultra conservative standards that are guaranteed to be lawyer proof.

    If the “How Long?” is for an adult for about a month or two and as radiation is decaying down to very little, then the more useful approach is to look at “known to cause illness” levels. So 100, 1000, 10000 mSv for the “watch the guage”, “A bit sick”, “gonna die” levels. As I’m a “50 something” which means I’ll be radiation resistant (not a lot of cell divisions left to make cancer) I’d be OK with 1000 of them suckers. (And I sure hope I’ve got those silly SI units right. The RAD was much easier. 10, 100, 1000 for “wake up”, “expect to be unhappy”, “expect your heirs to have to deal with it”… )

    Now you’ve got numbers in MICRO Sv. Chop off 3 digits and compare to those markers. 87 to 390. At the 87 level, I’d not care at all. At the 390, some folks will be getting a bit ill and there is a small increase of cancer risks. Keep the kids and moms out of the area.

    Now realize, that’s if you stayed there the whole year and the radiation did too. You need to know what is doing the radiating to know if this is rational. If it was I-131 it’s basically gone before you can get the OK to move in again. If it is Cs-137, “you have issues” and that town needs to be cleaned and surveyed, or shuttered. If it is Iodine, I’d swallow a KI pill and start cleaning up. If it is strontium, I’d hold my breath, not drink the water, and floor the car headed out of town… (but I might just be paranoid about something that moves into your bones and stays a long time…)

    Notice, too, that most of the other places have very low readings. That’s why I specified “Tokyo”. It’s far enough away to not be a “hot spot” and will be more like the “average of above”. The closer you get, the more “hot spots” can happen, and the more you need to survey the place.

    BTW, I’m pretty sure that the K in your own body will give you a higher dose than the 1000 MICRO-Sv / year recommended dose… but I don’t feel like dealing with yet more funny SI units to “do the math” right now as I’ve some things that need doing. IIRC, you get 4400 Bq and then you get to turn that into Grays and those into mSV and… GOD it’s a lot easier in Curies and RADs… so you get to do the math on that one…

    The “bottom line” is that the “recommended dose” is based on what we can measure with modern equipment and set to as close to zero as we can measure. The “warning / sick” dose is based on what actually happens to people. And the two of them are orders of magnetude apart. It’s fine to use the “recommended” for things like making sure a medical equipment seller isn’t spilling Cs during maintenance, but it’s a lousy unit for deciding if you are actually safe in an accident; even more useless for telling you “how safe, and how much at risk?”…

    BTW, one also needs to go to those “hot spots” and assure that the radiation there is from the reactor and not from someone paving the streets with rocks from a place with a high natural Uranium content… or a broken medical device being hauled to the dump and spilling it’s guts… Hey, it happens… and has happened. It is an unproven assumption that any high reading was caused by the reactor accident. (Probable, but not not a given.)

  213. @EM. Appreciate your answers.
    Very fair comments.

    To summarise, to some extent, there is still a reasonable amount of grey(no pun intended)-area material here so only time will tell if either of us are in error in our projections. So many variables, to draw any firm conclusions at this point in time is risky.

    On measurement systems – my use of uSv/whatever was just reproducing the websites published figures. The main thing is comparing the same units to each other. It is certainly confusing when 3 different units are used for the radiation. Re miles/Km, feet/metres etc., having global universality would make sense to me but its not a matter of great import.

    BTW, I tax my poor brain every time I see your ‘IIRC’, it’s the only abbreviation I haven’t understood, but still cannot imagine the meaning.
    I am reluctant to admit ignorance. Most of the time my brain works at a moderately useful level. I have a feeling this might embarass me.
    Cheers, Ken.

  214. E.M.Smith says:

    “If I Recall Correctly”..

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=iirc

    “Urbandictionary” is useful for that kind of thing…

    “Universality” is highly over rated. How many languages do we use? How many currencies? How many styles of food, dress, religion? What makes “one size fits all” so important for sizes?…

    BTW, I look up a few acronyms a year at urban dictionary… that it exists says a lot of people do it…

    I don’t criticize your use of the units you are handed. Heck, I have to use those silly SI units all the time and against my will, so I understand ;-)

    Now, for a bit of an admission on my part. We had a bit of a “medical issue” tonight and I’ve been playing nurse while sporadically doing everything else. I come back to my screen after a couple of hours and find a panel open in my browser that I don’t recognize (never seen before) and with a URL I’ve never seen… How did it get there? I have no idea…

    Was it in “tips” or a comment and I clicked just before running to a “come here, I need you?”. Did the silly way Microsoft makes a minor touch on the mouse or wheel cause strange and wondrous things to happen manage to open it when I didn’t know it was there? (I’ve had that happen and still don’t know what causes it. Some combination of a minor roll of the wheel when there is a bit too much “grip” on some part of the mouse and I’m off in some semi-random link that was in the page I wanted to be on gets activated…) Who knows… But it’s there, so I’ll use it…

    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/04/21/1305267_042019.pdf

    is a nice little chart of “common” exposures to radiation. The “jp” in the URL says it is from Japan, though it is in English.

    What makes it interesting? It visually shows the point I was making about “recommended” vs “reallly worry at this point”.

    It is in micro-Sv. So directly comparable to your numbers. You have 87,000 to 390,000. What’s on the chart?

    250,000 micro-Sv / year is the upper dose allowed for folks who work in radiation industries for emergency work. It’s what’s OK for them by someones standard, for life saving operations. By my rule of thumb, that’s 250 mSv and puts you above the “start watching the guage” and below the “you are real sick” level. About right.

    50,000 is the dose for workers in “disaster prevention” but not an emergency.

    We already know that Japan has “standards” about half those of the rest of the world, so it would be 500,000 via that rule of thumb, or right about the “Getting radiation sick” marker on my “worry metric”. Not REALLY sick, but ill for sure. Not something you do outside an emergency.

    The one I find most interesting is the 10,000 micro-Sv entry:

    Radiation dose in
    Guarapari(Brazil) per year.

    So just living in Brazil is about 12% of your ‘lower’ dose.

    A chest CT scan is 6,900 micro-Sv. So ten CT scans you are at 69,000 micro-Sv. I think “granny” has had about 10 of those suckers in the last year or two. Some kind of scan, any way, every time she has a passing out issue or bumps her head. For a while we were on the “one a month” plan.

    1000 is the “Dose limit for the public” while
    50 is the limit for exposure at a nuclear plant. The same as one chest x-ray per year.

    Oddly, they list the “natural dose” at 2400 / year. 480 from the earth and 390 from space. So in a 100 year lifetime you will get 240,000 just from hanging around. This starts to get back to that issue of “how long for the stuff spread around to decay?” Which we still don’t know.

    But if you live in Brazil for 100 years, you get 1,100,000 micro-Sv dose. Provided you don’t fly anywhere or get medical treatment. Then it is more ;-)

    The point? Yes, the upper numbers are “an issue” (and are flagged as such on the chart in your link). But the lower numbers (that are by far the majority) are not. Furthermore, if this is to any significant degree short lived isotopes (and it ought to be), you can’t get that dose for a year even if you moved in yesterday.

    And when it rains, all bets are off as alot of this stuff is going to just wash out to sea and be diluted to irrelevance.

    Don’t believe that? At present there are about 4 BILLION TONS of Uranium already dissolved in the ocean.

    Think about it. It’s a very big place…

    So hose down Japan, and wash the stuff out to sea and forget about it.

    Find any soil that has trapped things that are not water soluable and haul that dirt out to drop it into a deep trench. It will either sink (never to be seen again) or disolve (never to mater again).

    You don’t have to just let the stuff lay there for 10 years…

  215. Thanks EM.

    That jp link actually came from my earlier comment.

    Many things to consider re radiation.
    Although on the more pessimistic side of the fence, I still await developments before sticking out my neck too far. I notice plenty of bloggers who are reporting scary things but I agree with you that there is little known or confirmed evidence to support their more extreme views.

    On the other hand (?OTOH) there is great reliance on the honesty of TEPCO and the government, together with the Nuclear Industry who, from experience and their obvious vested interests is a risk if we are making sweeping statements about readings and “safety” thereof.

    Hope your medical issue is resolved without trauma.

  216. Level_Head says:

    @Ken McMurtie

    My reason for not drinking was never properly described here. It was a combination of not being “cool enough” (as an early science geek) to be asked, and a sort of fierce protectiveness of my mind, which I perceived would be not completely under my control under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    Later, my younger brother — who inherited half of my anomaly, and who was capable of spending his entire paycheck to get mildly drunk — died of secondary effects of drug overuse.

    I’m keenly aware that wines and so forth have their own pleasures, and I regularly partake of burgundy flavorings and such in cooking. I’ve attended wine cruises (including one into Napa Valley in California), and was intrigued.

    But the risk seems unattractive to me; I’m successful managing what would have been diagnoses as ADHD or mild Asperger’s, but it requires management — and I’m going to pass on that particular further challenge.

    The rib-eye steak last night in Yucca Valley had to be enough without a nice red wine to go with it — happily, it was excellent.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  217. @ Level Head,
    Thanks for your trouble to explain.
    Seemingly a very wise choice for you, under the circumstances.
    Obviously, life can be good without the alcohol, and is probably better in several ways.
    Many would be better off without the self-indulgence, certainly if addiction is a factor. (Speaking from fringe experience!).
    Steak, medium rare, indeed!, my favourite food!

    On the subject of Asperger’s, which EM has brilliantly expounded on – There is compelling evidence from this and another blog I subscribe to that the ability to understand, and comment on, in great depth and with expertise, complex subjects (Whew!), is greatly enhanced in these cases.

    Is this something that only the individual (and associates) are aware of, or does the medical world recognise it as a gift associated with the condition?
    Perhaps it is only noticeable if the education level and IQ level are already high?

    Best regards, Ken.

  218. Level_Head says:

    The “Little Professor syndrome” is well known among people with Asperger’s, also called “high functioning autism.” I just met with some people heavily involved with autism this evening, and among the things talked about was the gradual blend from high-functioning autism to “normal” without a bright-line separator.

    It seems to me that a larger number of people than is generally appreciated falls into that blend — and I will confess to having the nickname “little professor” from about age 5, until I learned a bit of necessary camouflage.

    Not only our host, but several of the commenters here, would seem to be in the same situation.

    The article linked above gives a dismal outlook on kids with Asperger’s:

    “Frequently,” he says, “they have been misdiagnosed because they’re almost normal. They almost blend in, but not quite. That’s their tragedy.”

    Perhaps. But just a touch of it, well-managed, I consider it an advantage.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  219. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    Ah, nice to know where things came from ;-)

    Per the “medical issue”, the present report is that pain and discomfort is droping quite low and it looks like “it’s all behind her now” 8-}

    FWIW, I wouln’t trust TEPCO to change my lightbulbs. What I trust are all the radiation monitors scattered around Japan. Were I to move to Tokyo now, it would be with RAD meter in hand…

    @Level_Head:

    FWIW, I’ve been known to down an entire bottle of wine and feel, well, almost nothing. At other times I can get drunk on one. One of the major difference is abstention interval. So I spend a fair amount of times drinking nothing (as it isn’t going to do much anyway) and then can “have a weekend” if I want. Then the liver enzymes crank up and I’m back to “what’s the point?” for a couple of weeks.

    During those intervals, I may have a bit of red with medium-rare steak; but it’s only for the flavor. (It does managed to intensify the beefness somehow. I think it dissolves favor agents that would otherwise be coated in grease and not get to the receptors).

    I’ve also had a triple dose of a coctail of Demerol, Nembutol, and Valium and it never did put me under. (It’s very strange to be happy as can be, dead drunk on the drugs, but completely lucid and hear the doctor tell the nurse: “We gave him how much? We can’t give him any more, it will kill him.”

    (They then asked if I was feeling any pain (“No”, I said) and proceeded to take bone drills to my skull and knives to my ear canal… and I remember every step of it… So I “numb up” but don’t go under.)

    I had some other drugs that were supposed to put me out. Got to watch a colonoscopy on the monitor – again “drunk as a skunk but not out”. When they were done and it became uninteresting I “fell asleep”… Had to close one eye to get a clear view of the screen ;-)

    @Ken:

    Those of us “on the line” recognize the advantage. Those who want us to be “not normal” don’t. Those with a bit “too much” sometimes see the advantages, sometimes not.

    So, for example, I was once curious about “Jet Engines”. Read the encyclopedia, went to the library, sucked down some engineering books. Voila! Instant jet engine engineer… I can still see the cover of the book in the UCD Engineering library on Jet Engines and the picture of the hypersonic ram jet just by “asking for the image”. Ditto the cuttaway of a turbine or three that I’ve seen over the years. Someone wants to know “how do jet engines work” I can “dump” the data load starting with the early radial compressor attempts and going through compressor jobs to highy bypass turbofans and on into ram jets, ending with the hypersonic wedge (which is “way cool” because the other half of the engine is “implied” by the shockwave! I

    t’s a great skill that just happens to drive neurotypicals up a wall because they just wanted “Sucks in air, burns kerosene, big fire out the back pushes forward.”

    Thus the “little professor” is part of the diagnostic jargon.

    Also there is a tendency to more formal speech. I think this is due to:

    1) Tending to talk to adults more as they were brighter…

    2) Rapidly reading things like encyclopedias and the collected works of {everybody in the library}. And soaking up some of the style. (I read every Scientific American that came to the town library starting at about age 8 … and that was back when they were a real Science Journal and published formally worded articles.)

    3) Fully absorbing the language grammar and range “way early” and using it as described.

    4) Tending to fix up the “broken bits” and polish the “untidy bits”. “Gonna wanna go t’da store” just makes my skin crawl. “I will want to go to the store”…

    At any rate, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) if you check out “real professors” you will find an extraordinarily high number of “little professors” in their past…

    Yeah, I call that an advantage.

  220. I have nothing but admiration for you guys. You run rings round my presumably ‘neurotypical’ mental abilities.
    I would call it an advantage too!

    It is very pleasing to see your talents being applied to the side of the “goodies”.

    The authoritarian “ungodly” are deservedly copping the label of “Psychopaths”, a totally different area of departure from “norm”. I am now wondering if any of them, say Cheney, or Bernanke, for example, might have these gifts as well and using them for selfish, socially destructive purposes.

    Glad to be associated!
    Regards, Ken.

  221. Hi EM.
    Came across this site which looks very interesting.
    In case you are not aware of it?

    http://www.epa.gov/enviro/facts/radnet/customized.html

    Very comprehensive and complicated to use, for me anyway. But should be useful.

  222. Level_Head says:

    @E. M. Smith:

    Also there is a tendency to more formal speech.

    I chuckled at this. One assistant worked for me for over a decade, and I still referred to him (and he to me) as Mr. . We tended to have a very respectful office.

    I still wear cufflinks.

    But I don’t have your effect from the drugs at all — massive doses of morphine (for example) have zero impact on pain or lucidity — this is true at 10x the normal dose, which is all the hospital would authorize without risking killing me from it. Some systemic anesthesia works, but I go through it very fast indeed — and I had my right eye chopped up and a scleral buckle installed around it while I was fully awake and using injected local anesthetics only. That was interesting — and unfortunate, as the retina tore off during that procedure.

    I’ve offered to be a guinea pig for any researchers who want to work on the “painkillers-have-no-effect” aspect — no takers so far.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  223. E.M.Smith says:

    @Level Head:

    I hope you need not endure more…

    One of the things I’ve come to appreciate as I dabble in “writing a users manual for this thing I inhabit” is just how metabolicly unique individuals are. The number of drugs that work as advertized on, maybe, 80% of the population is quite large. “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” is literally true.

    So I’d suspect that I have one of two traits that you have. I don’t “go under”. But I do get pain relief and the nerves just don’t transmit the signal. Analgesia not anesthesia. (I think I got the better end of the deal…)

    FWIW, back about 1970? Sci American had an article on how anesthesia works and how all anesthetics (then) had the same mode of operation. They dissolve in the cell wall fatty layer and make it thicker. They also have “cross tolerance”.

    That’s why scuba divers get “rapture of the depths” or “nitrogen narcosis”. Nitrogen disolves in the lipid layer under pressure. Nitrous oxide even more easily.

    Thus the reason that regular scuba divers have a reputation for being able to drink a lot. Their cell walls have adapted to be narrower (they have become more tolerant to N2 swelling) so then alcohol has less effect too.

    You might consider taking up being a professional scuba diver… or at least discovering if you can set a world record depth on “plain air”… (Normally, at great depth, they start to blend gasses that adjust the cell wall appropriately to maintain normal function. So N2 out, He in…)

    At any rate, I’m not looking forward to the next time I need some “significant knife time”. While it’s vaguely interesting to see your own insides, it spooks the staff ;-)

  224. Level_Head says:

    @E. M. Smith

    While it’s vaguely interesting to see your own insides, it spooks the staff

    Indeed; I’m famous at the hospital as a result of the first surgery I mentioned above.

    I have been scuba diving, but not all that much, and it was years ago. The deepest I ever got was 820 feet below sea level. Ah, but that last depth was in a research submarine, at essentially sea-level pressure.

    I had bribed someone to take us down; the sub was essentially a large propane tank with a 36″ port in the front, and roughly small-car-sized. It was an interesting opportunity to see the “beach” about 320 feet down where the sea level tends to be most of the time over the last million years or so. (The current high sea level is an aberration, and from the nine or so drops over the past million years, the drop tends to happen fast. Our puny attempt at “doing something about the weather” by adding CO2 will not be enough to stave this off; albedo changes swamp our pitiful impact.)

    In the meantime, how fast are radiation levels falling around Fukushima, and what mixture of radiants can be deduced from that?

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  225. Ruhroh says:

    Oopsie-Whoopsie;

    The old miscalibrated water level gauge schtick again.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Fukushima_fuel_melt_confirmed-1605115.html

    What does this say about the other instrumentation?
    RR

  226. Ruhroh says:

    Also, there is some complication in the plan of how to cool things;

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105150169.html

    Here’s hoping #3 does not collapse and cause spent fuel pool to be no-operable.
    bbContainment options not good at that point.

    Some public comment about Tepco;
    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105140173.html

    RR
    T

  227. Ruhroh says:

    This fellow claims to have looked frame by frame at the flyover video and sees a glowing orange spot that persists through multiple frames.

    http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/fukushima-update-very-bad-situation/57915

    RR

  228. Thanks, Ruhroh. Good information.

  229. Ruhroh says:

    This guy has some interesting analyses of the Unit 3 boomsie and other stuff I’m not hearing on TV.

    http://www.fairewinds.com/updates

    RR

  230. Ruhroh says:

    This roadmap update seems to agree that unit 4 is ‘leaning’ and they feel the need to make sure it doesn’t tip over or claps.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Revisions_to_Fukushima_restoration_roadmap-1705114.html

    Interesting to hear admission that melted core at #1 ‘increases the likelihood’ of similar issues at #2 and #3.

    The video guy does analysis of #3 boom vs. #1 boom to suggest that #3 is supersonic and much more energetic, conveying fuel pool contents (fuel rod pieces) 2 miles from the site. He claims that hydrogen explo can’t make supersonic shock.
    He calculated ~900mph initial velocity to hurl things miles.

    He does speculate about how the sewer water got to be hot, but I think he is probably right about that energetic ‘prompt criticality’ event.

    Why did #4 go boom and why is it so damaged? Hydrogen leak from #3? This seems really absurd, especially if #3 wasn’t really H popping off.

    http://www.fairewinds.com/updates.

    Probably not an accident that it went to Level 7 incident.

    With melted fuel on the floor, the necessity to recirculate the highly contaminated water is ugly reality, but hard to arrange.
    Yikes!
    RR

  231. Ruhroh says:

    New timeline for #1;
    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105160100.html

    Funny how they keep talking about cooling the ‘core’ when it ain’t there anymore.

    They ‘discovered’ 3000 tons of water in the basement of #1.

    “Although it has not measured the radiation level of the water, TEPCO said it is very likely highly contaminated.

    With the discovery of the massive volume of contaminated water, the company is being forced to consider using the leaked water to cool the reactor core. ”

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105150169.html

    If they don’t recirculate the hot nasty bilges, it will overflow into trenches and the ocean like #2 and #3 were doing.
    Yikes! again…

    RR

  232. E.M.Smith says:

    Leveraging off of the comments by Ruhroh, I’ve added an updatged posting here:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/japan-nuke-sequelae/

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