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fukushima power plant update

radiation-resistant workers recruited

Tmsuk Co.'s rescue robot T-53 Enryu image: TMSUK/KYODO
Tmsuk Co’'s rescue robot T-53 Enryu image: TMSUK/KYODO

“Japanese robots designed for heavy lifting and data collection have been prepared for deployment at irradiated reactor buildings of the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power station, where U.S.-made robots have already taken radiation and temperature readings as well as visual images at the crippled facility via remote control.

“At the request of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Tmsuk Co., a robot builder based in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, has put its rescue robot T-53 Enryu (rescue dragon) on standby at a dedicated facility in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, about 170 km southwest of the power plant in Fukushima Prefecture devastated by the March 11 magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami.”

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plans for mitigating the post-tsunami problems at fukushima

“Tepco has released more information about their plan to stabilize the Fukushima reactors. Their table of measures to be taken is hard to read, but the schematic of the plan is quite enlightening [...].

overview of major countermeasures at Fukushima power station. Image: Tepco
overview of major countermeasures at Fukushima power station. Image: Tepco
Original image.

“They are basically facing 4 problems, ensuring long term cooling of the cores, ensure cooling of the spent fuel pools, prevent release of radioactive material and mitigate the consequences of the releases that will continue for a while.”

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nuclear and coal - a totally muddled, innumerate soup from the groaniad

The whole point is that the standards of the nuclear industry are vastly higher than those of the filthy fossil fuel industry.

the filthy fossil fuel industry just dumps their filth on the rest of society. That amounts to a huge subsidy.

Talking of nuclear subsidy is thus completely dishonest and irrational.

“Monbiot, Brand and others rightly point to the heavy health and environmental costs of coal power. Researchers from Harvard recently published a study titled "Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal" (pdf) that calculates the full health and environmental costs of coal power in the US to be $175bn to $523bn annually. The costs in China, with its lax or nonexistent health and environmental protections, may well be much higher. Reducing the use of coal is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to reduce air pollution and protect our climate.”

“ ...The first estimate of entombing the Fukushima plant is $12bn....”

$175 billion upwards, year after year after year as opposed to $12 billion nuclear costs. Can none of these people count?

Meanwhile, no-one is against other carbon free energy. However, the costs of such energy sources remain extremely expensive. The moment the real scale of human energy use is factored in, it is even more costly in lives, within human knowledge with present data. And that is despite Chernobyl and Futaba/Fukushima.

Finally, the greatest killer of humanity is … poverty. Without energy, billions of lives will be put at very high risk.

To pretend that worries over nuclear power is a matter of concern for humanity, stretches credibility well beyond breaking point. Most of such ‘concerns’ remain in the realm of panic and ignorance.

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futaba/fukushima - earthquake 10 times design parameters, allegedly

“The site was designed to withstand a tsunami of 5.7m, and the reactors and back-up power were located 10-13m above sea level.

“According to TEPCO, the plant operators, the tsunami that inundated the site and knocked out back-up power was 14m high.

“The plants were designed for a magnitude 8 earthquake but were staggered by an earthquake 10 times stronger, with its epicentre just offshore and with 40,000 times the energy of the atomic bomb which devastated Hiroshima, according to a Cosmos Online editorial.

“That the plant remains largely intact is extraordinary given most structures in that area are severely damaged.

“The earthquake and tsunami cracked dams, exploded oil storages, ignited coal and gas-fired power stations and killed many people.

“But at this point, there is no report of a nuclear-related fatality nor any case of radiation sickness from exposure to elevated radioactivity.

“CRITICS of nuclear energy now insist that this extreme event has exposed fatal flaws in the technology and signals the end of the nuclear era.

“Yet the countries directly affected by the Chernobyl accident in 1986 - Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Belarus, Finland - are all increasing their commitment to nuclear power and building more reactors.

“Much depends on progress over the next few weeks. The reactors and associated spent fuel ponds must be stabilised, emergency workers remain safe, radiation releases contained, community and food exposure to excess radioactivity eliminated, and residents returned to their homes in the exclusion zone.

“Sensibly, most countries will defer new reactor starts to learn more from the Japanese experience.

“The volume of construction will continue - especially in China, India, central Europe and North Africa.”

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safety weaknesses at futaba/fukushima

“Fuel tanks for the generators, positioned at ground level just yards from the sea front, were among the first parts of the facility to be destroyed by the huge tsunami wave that swept inland following last week's magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

“Officials from TEPCO said the plant was designed to be resistant to an 18 foot wave but was struck by a wall of water more than 22 feet in height.

“Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said backup power systems at the plant had been improperly protected, leaving them vulnerable to the tsunami that savaged the northeastern coast.

“ "I cannot say whether it was a human error, but we should examine the case closely," he said.

“Dr John Large, an independent nuclear engineer and nuclear safety expert, said: "These plants should be designed to be resistant to tsunamis, but it appears they did not consider that a tsunami would hit the plant when they were using the back up generators.

“ "The buildings will have been built to withstand a tsunami, but it appears the back up generators were not." "

“Fears about the spread of radiation continued to grow as the Japanese government reported that trace amounts of radioactive iodine were detected in tap water in Tokyo and five other areas. Traces of radioactive caesium were also found in tap water in two areas, although none of the levels detected exceeded safety limits.”

Unfortunately there is no indication of tests prior to the problems at Futaba.

“The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare also ordered a halt on the sale of all food products from the Fukushima prefecture after radioactive iodine was found in milk from a farm 18 miles from the nuclear power station and in spinach grown the neighbouring Ibaraki prefecture between 50 and 65 miles to the south.”

Care should be taken with fossil media reports of this type. Both milk and spinach take up strontium.

“Strontium-90 is another form of strontium. It is a radioactive isotope that is fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Current levels of strontium-90 are very low and do not pose health risks at low doses, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Although strontium-90 levels in milk are small, they contribute half the total strontium-90 intake in the adult diet. Strontium-90 averages 15 micromicrocuries per liter of milk.

“The amount of strontium in vegetables varies according to the region they were grown. Lettuce from California is a rich source of strontium. Stable strontium levels in vegetables are high. Vegetables with the highest amounts of strontium include spinach, lettuce, carrots, peas, beans, potatoes and celery.

“Radioactive strontium is found in small amounts everywhere...” [Quoted from livestrong.com]

Meanwhile, power is steadily being restored to cooling efforts.


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containment and safety standards at fukushima/futaba

Complaints about Japanese standards and secrecy at nuclear generators have been a perennial source of concern and complaint for decades.

Article worth a scan.

“The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a Mark 1 nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment.”

It has been bought to my attention that this power station has also been built below the tsunami danger zone, a near incredible idiocy in one of the coasts most effected by tsunamis in the world. The unit appears to have had little problem from one of the biggest earthquakes since modern measuring started (1935). It’s the tsunami what dun it.

Meanwhile, the Cosmo filthy fossil fuel plant continues to burn.

In the meantime, the nuclear containments are mostly holding, with one or two vessels maybe cracked.

updated: hysteria over futaba/fukushima nuclear power unit continues to look well overdone

“The Japanese government says that there is water covering the fuel rods in the spent-fuel pool of reactor #4 at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.”

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useful summary of nuclear nonsense

Some oft repeated allegations against nuclear power:
nuclear power is a very expensive way of generating power, taken over the lifetime of the plant, and taking into account construction costs.

A great deal of the cost is the planning times and the legal challenges. This slows the planning by (often) several years. Money costs, both financing loans that can show no return until the plant is up and running and vast legal costs, are a good part of the expense of nuclear power stations.

A reasonable cost on carbon would make nuclear power easily competitive. Remember that the fuel for nuclear power is relatively cheap. Among other things, you do not have to truck vast quantities of coal around the world because you get in the order of a million times the energy from a tonne of fuel!

Nuclear power stations come in many designs.

Decommissioning and waste storage costs are utterly trivial.

  1. The carbon footprint of a power station is relatively small.
  2. You can build again on the same site.

The problem of finding a long term solution to storing the nuclear waste still hasn't been solved.

Again it’s trivial. The prime reason there is no long-term store is because the dangerous waste is miniscule. It simply has not been economic to build a store yet. Compared with the devastation from coal, it is laughable.

The consequence of another major nuclear explosion would be catastrophic.

There is just about no relationship between nuclear explosions and nuclear power (other than governments that use them to feed the bomb industry). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), if used sanely, does very well,
controlling this. The consequencces of the Chernobyl disaster have been greatly exaggerated, and Chernobyl was run by a socialist empire. Safety and building standards were next to non- existent. There is more radiation coming from coal power stations and slag heaps. Nuclear power is the safest power available on direct comparisons by a country mile.

It is Lefties that spread most of the disinformation, but I expect the filthy fossil fuel industry does not want the competition!

Note that politics and corruption infect everything. The quoted prices, like all government prices, do not bear close examination. Then there are ‘not in my back yard’ attitudes. China can build a plant in about five years, or better. The West talks and acts in terms of ten years plus!

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