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Japan Earth

Further Updates On Post-Tsumami Japan 369

Posted by timothy
from the virgin-mobile-was-evidently-affected-too dept.
DarkStarZumaBeach points out a frequently updated page from the International Atomic Energy Agency with updates on the situation at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which reports in terse but readable form details of the dangers and progress there. The most recent update says that the plant's Unit 2 has been re-wired for power, and engineers 'plan to reconnect power to unit 2 once the spraying of water on the unit 3 reactor building is completed.' Read on for more on the tsunami aftermath.
Reader srwellman writes "A large plume of radioactive smoke is heading from Japan to the West Coast of the US. Officials claim the plume is not dangerous."

dooms13 suggests (by way of The Register) that the disaster in Fukushima is nonetheless a demonstrated triumph for nuclear safety: "If nuclear powerplants were merely as safe as they are advertised to be, there should have been a major failure right then. As the hot cores ceased to be cooled by the water which is used to extract power from them, control rods would have remained withdrawn and a runaway chain reaction could have ensued – probably resulting in the worst thing that can happen to a properly designed nuclear reactor: a core meltdown in which the superhot fuel rods actually melt and slag down the whole core into a blob of molten metal. In this case the only thing to do is seal up the containment and wait: no radiation disaster will take place, but the reactor is a total writeoff and cooling the core off will be difficult and take a long time. Eventual cleanup will be protracted and expensive."

Something to contemplate while the rescue effort continues: imscarr writes "The coastline of Japan has drastically changed since the earthquake & tsunami. New bays have formed and many areas are completely flooded. These interactive before-and-after images show you the magnitude of devastation. Other photos here."

Adds reader madcarrots: "The Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics (LAB), a unit of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), directed by Professor Michel Andre, has recorded the sound of the earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, March 11. The recording, now available online, was provided by a network of underwater observatories belonging to the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and located on either side of the earthquake epicenter, close to the Japanese island of Hatsushima."
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Further Updates On Post-Tsumami Japan

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  • by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @04:10PM (#35521508) Homepage

    Reader srwellman writes "A large plume of radioactive smoke is heading from Japan to the West Coast of the US. Officials claim the plume is not dangerous."

    The linked source does NOT validate that assertion whatsoever. [nytimes.com] The 'plume' is a forecast of the way a plume would take shape across the pacific, if it were to exist. No-one is saying that there is a radioactive smoke plume of any magnitude, including undetectable. It is a weather forecast, meant for internal consumption by various national nuclear agencies for contingency planning and leaked to the NYT, nothing more.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @04:16PM (#35521596)

    From New York to Germany, politicians are proposing shutting-down nuclear plants.

    Talk about jumping to rash conclusions. What are we supposed to use for power once the oil/coal becomes scarce and as expensive as silver? We need nuclear power as a replacement fuel (and supplemented by solar).

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Thursday March 17, 2011 @04:20PM (#35521672) Homepage

    Welcome to media hype and the anti-nuclear nuts run amok. By the way, next time they trot out the "experts", jot down the names and do a search. You'll find most of them are linked to anti-nuclear groups.

  • by ahodgkinson (662233) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @04:21PM (#35521684) Homepage Journal

    The MIT Department of Nuclear Engineering has a web site, updated regularly, which acts as a hub for information about the nuclear crisis, including helpful background information.

    See it at: http://mitnse.com/ [mitnse.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2011 @04:27PM (#35521778)
    So weather forecasts are automatically NOT predictive? I understand weather pattern estimates don't always pan out, but they are generally more accurate than not. What point are you trying to make, other than just being needlessly contrarian?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:25PM (#35522680)

    1) It's taken an 8.9 scale earthquake to start causing problems with these reactors

    2) They have not "exploded", there have been several explosions around the reactors.

    3) The local residents have been given many days warning of the problems. If anyone gets hurt it will be because they were not listening.

    4) "simply keep something cool" is a stupid thing to say. These are some very powerful materials reacting, the facilities are damaged and the rest of the country is in disarray. Just one of the three (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactors) problems would be a major undertaking for most countries, never mind all three at once.

    5) Did you not notice that more people were injured in the oil refinery inferno than the nuclear reactors so far? When it comes to safety the nuclear reactors are far safer than other forms of energy production. In the history of civilian nuclear reactors, Fukushima, should it melt down, will be the third meltdown. That's an incredible safety record. And to add to that, it will only be the second to actually cause radioactive material to leave the reactors and contaminate the surrounding area.

    For me, nuclear power has shown just how robust it is. You really have to kick the crap out of a reactor to make it fail and when it does you get a week to pack up your things and evacuate.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:39PM (#35522912)

    Bad Oehmen: Confirmation Bias, Sources & Astroturfing

    Describes the curious case of how a reassuring first time web post ("Why I am not worried about Japans nuclear reactors") from a guy working on a liason project at MIT in a non-nuclear engineering or physicist role somehow got reposted 30,000 times in one day.

    Indeed. Do you want another example of confirmation bias and astroturfing? Have you ever heard of Banqiao? It was a Chinese nuclear plant which in 1975 suffered a severe accident. The Chinese covered it up for 30 years and quietly admitted it to the world in 2005. So quietly that most people still haven't heard of it. The toll compared to Chernobyl is just staggering:

    26,000 immediate deaths (57 for Chernobyl)
    145,000 long-term deaths (4000 estimated cancer deaths for Chernobyl)
    11 million people relocated (336,000 people relocated for Chernobyl)
    Nearly 6 million homes and buildings made uninhabitable
    768 km^2 rendered uninhabitable (489 km^2 exclusion zone for Chernobyl)

    Horrific, isn't it? Worse than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Clearly proof that nuclear power is too dangerous to use, right?

    I'm sorry. I lied. Banqiao wasn't a nuclear plant. It was a hydroelectric dam [wikipedia.org]. Everything else I said is true though. In 1975, during a typhoon and torrential rainfall, it filled to over capacity. After several attempts to lower its water level by opening sluice gates, the dam above it burst. The swell of water overwhelmed the Banqiao dam, and it too burst. 700 million tons of water were released, and it precipitated a cascade failure of dams beneath it. In all, 62 dams burst or were deliberately destroyed in attempts to divert water into flood plains, with a total of 15.7 billion tons of water released.

    26,000 people lost their lives in the flooding. Over 1 million people were left stranded by the waters, cut off from disaster relief, and had to have food and water airlifted to them for weeks. An estimated 145,000 of them (Chinese govt figures) died of the famine and disease caused by the disaster. Nearly 6 million buildings were destroyed, and 11 million people had to be relocated. When the dam was rebuilt, 768 km^2 was flooded to form the flood catchbasin.

    Horrific, isn't it? Worse than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Clearly proof that hydroelectric power is too dangerous to use, right?

    No? Why not? It's the exact same evidence. When it was presented against nuclear, you were probably in full agreement. But when told the truth and you find out that it's really evidence against hydro, your mind rejects it. Hydroelectric is more dangerous than nuclear? Can't be! Why not? Confirmation bias against nuclear power. You hear all those terrible things that happened, and when nuclear power is to blame, you accept it. But then you find out that hydro power is to blame, and your mind rejects it. You have an anti-nuclear bias. A double standard created by astroturfing propaganda from anti-nuclear activists.

    Let me address all the objections you're probably going to bring up. The same ones you dismissed when the pro-nuclear side brought them up with Chernobyl.

    But Banqiao was a clay dam. Western dams are typically concrete.
    Chernobyl was a dangerous and unstable reactor design never used in the West.

    It was Chinese. They had shoddy building and operating standards. (My apologies to the Chinese)
    Chernobyl was built and run by the Soviets with substandard construction and operating standards.

    Banqiao was one incident, in fact the only hydroelectric dam failure in history with a large number of deaths up to today.
    Chernobyl was one incident, in fact the only nuclear accident in history with a large number of deaths up to today.

    It was built in 1951. It was 25 year-old technolog

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @05:50PM (#35523074)
    From the same article you linked to:

    President Reagan lifted the ban in 1981, but did not provide the substantial subsidy that would have been necessary to start up commercial reprocessing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2011 @09:15PM (#35525038)

    Only nuclear, huh?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_Fossil_Plant_coal_fly_ash_slurry_spill
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Pennsylvania

    That's just off the top of my head. Oh yeah, I think there was some kind of oil disaster recently too, somewhere near Mexico, but I can't remember..

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