Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
News

Fukushima: Myth of Safety, Reality of Geoscience 206

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-the-low-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' has published a special Fukushima issue with interesting/deep/new pieces written by leading experts on the nuclear disaster in Japan. Fukushima: The myth of safety, the reality of geoscience, which shows that in the decades after the nuclear plant was built, the authorities discovered historical records that showed Fukushima was vulnerable to a giant tsunami, but they did nothing to protect the plant. But there's a globalized twist to the issue: The Bulletin has also translated these lengthy expert analyses of the disaster into Japanese. As Bulletin editor Mindy Kay Bricker explains: 'Those in genuine need of erudite analysis are, of course, those directly affected by the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese population. Stellar coverage by Western news outlets might win awards, but what is the point if those who most deserve the information never benefit from reading it?'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fukushima: Myth of Safety, Reality of Geoscience

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:55PM (#37473342)
    This confirms it.
    No nuclear power plants can handle a tsunami.
    All of them must be shut down.
    • Re:Close them all (Score:4, Interesting)

      by siddesu (698447) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @05:16PM (#37473566)

      The problems in Fukushima had jackshit to do with tsunamis, and a lot to do with incompetence, greed and political pressure, during plan construction, during operation and, finally, during the disastrous handling of the incident after the earthquake. Those problems are universal problems that tend to plague the nuclear sector everywhere, because many view it as prestigious, there are "national security" concerns, the orders are large and a lot of money is swapped under the table in deals that cut various corners, etc.

      Since fission nuclear power, if done for safely and accounted for properly, is insanely expensive to begin with, and the costs multiply many times over in the case of a nuclear fuckup, coming up with better alternatives is not a bad idea.

      • Since fission nuclear power, if done for safely and accounted for properly, is insanely expensive to begin with

        The funny thing is that when nuclear power was first being developed in the 1950s there was talk of unmetered billing. The electricity from nuclear would be so cheap that you would just be charged a flat rate each month.

        Slightly off topic. We've all heard how as soon as fusion is developed it will solve all our energy problems but is it going to be any better? I've heard the design of a fusion reactor will be very similar to a fission reactor. There will be a nuclear core that generates heat and drives

      • In short, there is nothing wrong with nuclear technology. It, of itself, is safe.

        All the problems arise from the use of human beings in the design, implementation, and maintenance processes. We know that human beings are flawed in half a hundred different ways and to such an extent that there is no possibility of applying any kind of credible quality assurance to these modules. We can extrapolate from history and recognize that so long as human modules are involved in the nuclear power industry, there will

        • by hedwards (940851)

          There hasn't been a major accident in the US in decades. And worldwide the two major incidents in my lifetime were the result of negligence and incompetence. The risks are known and the US Navy has had nuclear reactors in much of its fleet for decades without problems.

          The problem is one that can be solved, throwing out the industry and eliminating humans isn't going to solve the problem, and it just means that we'll have to go back to coal and oil power until we do find another replacement. Chernobyl wouldn

          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by bursch-X (458146)
            Yes sure and let's just forget about the fact that we have no idea what really to do with all the nuclear waste. We'll just tuck it away underground for 10.000 years? Well how well have we been doing conserving any critical information for just a tenth of that time, say, 1000 years? How much of the buildings and information from 1011 is still in a good shape? Nuclear fission has no future.
        • Re:Close them all (Score:5, Insightful)

          by siddesu (698447) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:19PM (#37474158)

          there is nothing wrong with nuclear technology. It, of itself, is safe.

          In short, this is a very simplistic way to put it. All I am saying is that even before the issues of technology come into play, there is the issue of having a good enough social framework to ensure nuclear safety. This is the necessary condition to get right before it even makes sense to consider the technological issues of nuclear safety, and this condition is rarely satisfied even in developed countries, as the Fukushima debacle has shown beyond doubt.

          The technological issues at hand aren't trivial either -- there is no such thing as "nuclear technology" per se, there are all kinds of reactors, built by all kinds of groups, connected to all kinds of control equipment and operated by various organizations with complex vendor relations, etc. Saying "it is safe" without context is rather meaningless.

          • Now this post I can agree with. Well put.

            And yes I am in the commercial nuclear industry. Have a strong culture of nuclear safety is of paramount importance. Everything follows from it.

            • by siddesu (698447)

              Well, my experience is probably influenced by me being too close to the two worst disasters - I happened to be within few hundred km of both Chernobyl and Fukushima when they happened, and have to bear the cost of the consequences of two nuclear disasters myself - but my observations of the way nuclear industry and regulators operates worldwide don't exactly inspire my confidence in the safe handling of technology.

              Japan has always had a bad culture when it comes to nuclear safety, but the depth of Fukushima

              • by mug funky (910186)

                do you regularly get screened for cancer? not to worry you, but in the worst case scenario you could be a valuable data point, and in the best case scenario, we're all gonna be fine.

              • And yet, somehow, despite the bold claim that human society is not yet capable of handling nuclear power in an appropriately safe manner, France has managed to do pretty well running a whole slew of nuclear plants. Hell, even the U.S. has managed to keep a number of different reactors running safely for quite awhile now. These designs range from 40 year old technology to some relatively new designs closer to the East Coast.

                I keep seeing folks claim that human society isn't capable of responsibly handling
          • there is nothing wrong with nuclear technology. It, of itself, is safe.

            In short, this is a very simplistic way to put it.

            Yes, this is a very simplistic assertion. But it is also very useful to posit this to get it out of the way. Because until the fatal problems with human failings are solved, there is no need to discuss the much simpler problems of the science, engineering, and technology.

            As so many who seem to object to GP post keep pointing out, Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Fermi fast breeder reactor failure, the incident at Hanford where control rods were blown out of the core with such force that they w

        • by grumbel (592662)

          All the problems arise from the use of human beings in the design, implementation, and maintenance processes.

          The problems aren't humans, but the systems in which they have to work. Just like any mechanical or computer competent, humans tend to fail from time to time and just like with any other failure you can prevent that from causing catastrophic failure by building redundancy and checks into the system. Those redundancies and checks of cause have to be forced by regulation, as nobody is building them in when they can save a bit of money leaving them out.

    • Well this confirms it.

      Big waves are bad for nuke plants;

      All must be shut down.

      FT(haiku)FY

    • SNPP needs to be shut down or at least sector 7g.

  • Experts? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:57PM (#37473360)

    leading experts on the nuclear disaster in Japan

    Experts? They don't know anything. Everyone knows the definitive word is with the armchair commentators here on Slashdot!

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      TFS isn't much better:

      leading experts

      According to whom? In my cat's opinion I am a leading expert.

      This is what peer reviewed journals are for, and even then you have to wait years while others do their own studies and check each assertion carefully. People don't want to wait for that though.

  • If you're going to run a nuclear reactor, you are definitely going to make all of the money back from building it, and a mountain of profits over the lifetime of the plant. Ignoring things like historical Tsunamis, and not making the plants prepared to deal with that situation is gross negligence, and the company should be punished. Making their plants resistant to the effects of a Tsunami would have been bad for the bottom line for a year or two, but I'm sure now the investment seems trivial.

    I'm not
    • by foobsr (693224)

      the company should be punished

      FTFY: The individuals who profited, aka shareholders.

      However, this will not happen in these days of public risk and private profit.

      CC.

    • by mug funky (910186)

      Private companies have proven over and over again, that they do not take public safety as a serious issue, until it's too late.

      at the risk of sounding like a neo-con libertarian tea partier, governments haven't exactly been too good at this. as i recall, the Pripyat facility was run by the government.

    • If you're going to run a nuclear reactor, you are definitely going to make all of the money back from building it, and a mountain of profits over the lifetime of the plant.

      Hmm... then what's the reason for the massive goverment subsidies poured into every single commercial nuclear plant ever built? How come these large injections of capital are never returned? You'd think plant builders would be grateful for all the billions government already poured into hammering out all the R&D... but they also always seem to take the subsidies anyway. Just seems... odd... Most businessess that make mountains of profits give some kind of return on investment other than astronomical cle

  • The major lessons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @05:07PM (#37473484) Homepage

    This isn't a reason to be worried about nuclear power. This shows that bad things can happen when political decisions override science engineering or when bad engineers don't do a good job.. At the end of the day, what you want can't override nature. Nature doesn't care about politics. This is true with many different technologies

    At this point, more people die from coal related problems every year than nuclear power. One interesting metric to compare power types is to look at deaths per a terawatt hour. http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html [nextbigfuture.com]. By this metric, nuclear power is one of the safest forms of power out there. The primary reasons that nuclear power stands out to people is because a) it associated with nuclear weapons which makes it scary b) it is a more advanced technology which makes it seem more risky and unnatural c) when something does go wrong is goes wrong in a spectacular fashion. This last is probably the most important- humans react to how much they hear about disasters not how likely they are to impact them. This is why people are afraid of airplane crashes and shark attacks more than car crashes and heart attacks.

    Unfortunately, few people are likely to pay attention to this. We are already seeing the fallout as Germany and other European countries turn away from nuclear power. France right now is being surprisingly calm in continuing to use it. Unfortunately, there's some indications that this issue is also making people more worried about fusion power. There's been a long-running problem with scientifically ignorant environmentalists who don't understand the difference between fission and fusion. A lot of them have tried to protest fusion research in the past and Greenpeace has an anti-fusion stance. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/22/fusion_greenpeace_no/ [theregister.co.uk]. The whole situation sucks.

    • by metageek (466836) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @05:26PM (#37473652)

      This story that coal kills more people than nuclear is rather misleading. The issue is much more complicated than simply counting deaths --- though, of course, coal is no nice energy source at all.

      The problem with nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima is that they leave large portions of land unusable for millenia. (besides having the risk of killing lots of people too.) The effects are not just to the poor people who work on those plants (just as the poor miners) but that they leave a severe risk of exposure for many generations to come. The cost of maintaining those patches of land unusable are very large. Much larger costs than even those needed to keep an undamaged power plant secure beyond its productive life; this is already so high that no private company wants to do it without support from large government subsidies (besides they are all helped by not being help legally liable for any accident).

      So, even though coal has indeed killed many people, that is not to say that nuclear is not a very large problem to society. In my opinion larger than coal. To support this, find out how much it costs to insure a nuclear power plant, versus how much it costs to insure a coal mine.

      Before anyone says that we need some form of energy so we must to take up these risks, let me say:
        * direct solar source
        * increase in efficiency of use
        * and please keep the population down.

      • "but that they leave a severe risk of exposure for many generations to come."

        You didn't study logarithimic mathmatics in school did you?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by metageek (466836)

          Plutonium spent fuel has a huge half-life, apply your logarithms to it and check for how long it has to be kept. Strontium, which is extremely toxic as it is absorbed into bones (same chemistry as calcium) has a very long half life too. Even Cesium is 30 years, so it will be around for much longer than that.

          • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
            Strontium-90, the primary dangerous isotope of strontium has a half-life of 29 years. That means that in 200 years you have about one 70th as much left. Moreover, these isotopes spread around over time. So in practice most areas with these isotopes become less dangerous faster than their half-lives suggest. This is less true for plutonium because it isn't that easily metabolically active, but lots of living things will pick strontium and use it where they would use calcium. So it might suck to be them but
          • Plutonium spent fuel has a huge half-life, apply your logarithms to it and check for how long it has to be kept.
            Yes, and that huge half-life implies that it breaks down very, very slowly. You do understand, don't you, that with the exception of Uranium, long half-lives mean a low level of radiation and those isotopes that are highly radioactive have very short half-lives? (Why Uranium is a special case will be left as an exercise for the reader.)
      • by blair1q (305137)

        >This story that coal kills more people than nuclear is rather misleading.

        If you mean that coal doesn't kill more people then nuclear, then it's not misleading, you're just wrong.

        If you mean that the story overestimates the extent by which it does, then it may be misleading.

        if you mean that the story underestimates the extent by which it does, then it may also be misleading.

        Nuclear is unsafe only if you don't make it safe. The means to make it safe are simple acts of design and maintenance. Coal is not

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          Nuclear is unsafe only if you don't make it safe

          Bingo! We don't make it safe. And when we have problems, we either blame it on the press, or tell people that they are stupid, and make up excuses fro the accident.

          A big hint to the pro-nuc's (which I am one) is that the accident at Fukishima is not a nuclear fault. This isn't an excuse - it's a fact. It is the fault of a stupid decision about tsunami heights - there have been several tsunami that would easily top their walls. Then their emergency generator plan was criminally inadequate. Locating the

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            We can design to contain that energy density. Will we?

            How much are you willing to pay for your energy?

            The economics of energy are all messed up. Coal kills a lot of people, but the price is largely unaffected because it happens in poor countries or to a few people down a mine, not to random voters. Nuclear is heavily subsidised, not least because until recently there was no alternative to meet our energy needs. Plus the consequences of an accident can be very expensive, so only a government can effective insure the operators against them. Wind and solar are ch

      • by ultranova (717540)

        The problem with nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima is that they leave large portions of land unusable for millenia.

        Chernobyl is already usable right now (and in fact people live there and it's heavily forested), it's simply pointless to take the risk in a country that does not lack space.

        Also, a radioactive material that's still present a thousand years after in significant quantities would need to have a half-life of at least a century, which in turn means it produces so little radiation per

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          That only works so far before the laws of physics come calling.

          0.3% of the energy that falls in the Sahara in a day could power all of western Europe for a year. With solar thermal that is very doable. If it helps you can think of the sun as a nuclear reactor.

          On the other hand nuclear waste needs to be refined, transported and stored safely for a long time. Sorry, but those are the laws of physics.

          • Good luck maintaining a solar farm so large that it covers 0.3% of the Sahara. Or did you think that producing, transporting, maintaining, and supplying infrastructure for acres of solar panels in a relatively unsettled, remote location would be as simple as waving a magic wand?
            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              You don't need 0.3% coverage because that is for an entire year. The infrastructure issues are resolvable, and are seen as a good way to invest in Africa. I don't know where you got solar panels from, I specifically said solar thermal. Mirrors are very cheap to produce and require very little maintenance.

      • Re:The major lessons (Score:5, Informative)

        by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @07:19PM (#37474650)

        The problem with nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima is that they leave large portions of land unusable for millenia. (besides having the risk of killing lots of people too.) The effects are not just to the poor people who work on those plants (just as the poor miners) but that they leave a severe risk of exposure for many generations to come. The cost of maintaining those patches of land unusable are very large. Much larger costs than even those needed to keep an undamaged power plant secure beyond its productive life;

        Wind turbines suffering blade failures and ice throws have killed many people, more per MWh generated than nuclear has. Consequently, France has established 500 m exclusion zones [caithnesswindfarms.co.uk] around wind turbines, where people are prohibited from entering. Germany has a 600 m exclusion zone. For a given amount of average MW generated, the area of this mandated exclusion zone for wind farms far exceeds the evacuation zone caused by the Fukushima accident. You can reduce the size of the exclusion zone by putting turbines closer together, but it's still far worse than nuclear.

        The Fukushima plant had a nominal production capacity of 4696 MW. Multiplied by nuclear's average 90% capacity factor and that's 4226 MW average for the year. It currently has a 20 km evacuation zone, and let's ignore that roughly half of that zone extends over the sea. A 20 km radius encompasses an area of 1257 km^2. So the evacuation zone (which is by no means permanent, nor likely to be permanent) works out to 0.297 km^2 per MW average.

        The largest wind farm in Europe is Whitelee Wind farm [wikipedia.org] in Scotland. It has a nominal generating capacity of 322 MW. Onshore wind typically has a 20%-25% capacity factor, but Scotland's winds are strong and consistent, yielding an average capacity factor around 40%. So that's 128.8 MW average for the year. The farm covers 55 km^2 [cskills.org] in a 13x8 km rectangle. Add a half km exclusion zone around the periphery and you get a total area of 76 km^2. So its exclusion zone works out to 0.590 km^2 per MW on average.

        So just the regular operation of the largest wind farm in Europe renders about twice as much land uninhabitable as the second-worst nuclear accident in history, MW for MW. Hydroelectric dams create a lake behind them, rendering that land uninhabitable. Itaipu dam [wikipedia.org] has a 1350 km^2 reservoir. It generates 91.6 TWh annually, which works out to 10449 MW on average, for an uninhabitable area of 0.129 km^2 per MW average. Solar (pretty much the most expensive power source) actually fares well by this metric. At 125 W/m^2 and a 15% capacity factor, it weighs in at a featherweight 0.053 km^2 per MW on average.

        But wait, we looked at pretty much the worst case for nuclear, while looking at average or better-than-average cases for other technologies. What happens if you look at nuclear on average? After all, the vast majority of nuclear plants have operated safely for decades. The world's nuclear capaicty is 351 GW. The evacuation zones around Fukushima (20 km) and Chernobyl (30 km) work out to 4084 km^2. The average land area rendered uninhabitable by nuclear works out to 0.012 km^2 per MW on average. In other words, nuclear is the technology which renders the least amount of land uninhabitable per MW generated. If you replaced all nuclear power with solar, you'd render 4.6x as much land area as Fukushima + Chernobyl uninhabitable. Hydro would be 11x as much. And wind about 51x as much land area uninhabitable (about 100x for a more typical wind far than Whitelee).

        • by Zoxed (676559)

          > Germany has a 600 m exclusion zone.

          As I live in Germany I would be especially interested in a reference for this. Please.

          http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2421220&cid=37362382 [slashdot.org]

          > I quick read of your linked article suggests that only France has the 500m exclusion zone, and it seems unclear to me whether this refers only to buildings. Certainly where I live in central Germany I have not seen 500m exclusion zones: even many roads are that close !!

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        The problem with nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima is that they leave large portions of land unusable for millenia. (besides having the risk of killing lots of people too.)

        Wow, you have absolutely no idea whats going on in the area around Chernobyl do you?

        You need to learn the difference between FUD and reality, and add to that the time thats lapsed since Chernobyl and the fact that it was until recently (last year?) an active power plant. Or the fact that while the area was evacuated, all indications and tests of the area now show it to be normal and you'd be unlikely to know anything happened if you weren't told. See just because you're afraid of something doesn't mean it

    • This shows that bad things can happen when political decisions override science engineering
      Thats one way to look at it. Other way is "This shows that bad things can happen _because_ political decisions override science engineering".
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Coal-related death is not socially disruptive.

      Humans have all sorts of accepted casualties, usually those which the system is evolved to process. I

      Death is not a problem. We ALL die. DISRUPTIVE death is a problem.

    • by ozborn (161426)

      This isn't a reason to be worried about nuclear power. This shows that bad things can happen when political decisions override science engineering or when bad engineers don't do a good job.
      How well an energy source performs in a variety of political environments from well funded enlightened governance up to civil war and social breakdown needs to be considered when evaluating an energy source. Blaming politics doesn't cut it, some energy sources are much more sensitive to bad political environments - nuclea

    • This shows that bad things can happen when political decisions override science

      Sadly that's the entire history of the civilian nuclear industry.
      Almost every time something has been put forward which will improve safety (eg. thorium reactor project) or deal with nuclear waste (eg. synrock) it has been vehemently opposed for political reasons. Saying that safety can be improved is seen as a criticism that the status quo is not good enough, and there is a lot of money riding on maintaining the existing gravy

    • This isn't a reason to be worried about nuclear power. This shows that bad things can happen when political decisions override science engineering or when bad engineers don't do a good job.

      This is the exact reason that we should worry about nuclear power. As an engineer, I know that politics and price are generally involved in making engineering decisions.

      - All engineers make mistakes. I'm sure that there were many good engineers involved with Fukushima.
      - Software programmers make mistakes.
      - Natural disasters happen.
      - Corruption happens.
      - Builders make mistakes and swap parts for cheaper parts to save money.
      - Lack of oversight happens.
      - Maintenance gets cut to save money.
      - Safety measures get

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      There's been a long-running problem with scientifically ignorant environmentalists who don't understand the difference between fission and fusion. A lot of them have tried to protest fusion research in the past and Greenpeace has an anti-fusion stance

      Yes, and there has been a long running problem with people who think renewables won't work, or only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. That is despite the fact that there are already large scale projects demonstrating that they do work. Basically both sides are as bad as either other for rubbishing the competition.

      Overall nuclear is pretty safe, but frankly I don't trust the people running it not to cut corners or put profit before safety. There is a long history of people doing that, desp

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This isn't a reason to be worried about nuclear power. This shows that bad things can happen when political decisions override science engineering or when bad engineers don't do a good job.

      Yes, those are things that happen in the real world, things that therefore make nuclear power undesirable. If it weren't for bad politics, or bad engineering, then I would be 100% behind nuclear power. Unfortunately, both abound. Further, the geniuses of today will be dead tomorrow and there is no guarantee that the people who slide into their chairs will not be idiots, assholes, or idiot assholes.

  • ... too stupid to read English journals, or analyze their own disasters rigorously and tell their population.

    Seriously, is this "Mindy Kay Bricker" person coming off like a racist to anybody else?

    • Only on the internet could a company making an honest effort to make their content open and accessible to other nations be labeled as racist.

      Can much of the Japanese population read English?
      Probably.

      Do people often prefer to digest information in their native language?
      Yes.

      Can Japanese scientists rigorously analyze their own disasters?
      Probably.

      Does it often help to have independent sets of eyeballs analyzing a problem in a scientific field when those eyeballs belong to people who are experts i
    • by geekoid (135745)

      No. Only to you because you are a bitter ass.

  • by Relic of the Future (118669) <{dales} {at} {digitalfreaks.org}> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @05:44PM (#37473824)

    And still zero deaths attributable from the disaster due to radiation.

    Did you know that in March--the same month as Fukishima--that a worker at an aging US power plant, scheduled to be closed and currently down for maintenance, was killed in an explosion? But it wasn't a nuclear plant (it was coal) so no one cared. The company's been fined, but no government is committing to shutting down 100% of its coal plants.

    And yeah, it's still too early to detect any increase in cancer rates, but by the six-month mark, Chernobyl had killed about 300 people via acute radiation sickness, so I don't see how anyone can claim this either IS worse than Chernobyl or WILL BE worse. 300 versus zero.

    • by Uberbah (647458) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @05:56PM (#37473940)

      I suppose you would think that's a great point, if you also think that nothing's wrong with smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day while eating a diet entirely composed of Big Macs is perfectly healthy because it wouldn't kill anyone within six months....

      • by mug funky (910186)

        read it again and you'll find this:

        "And yeah, it's still too early to detect any increase in cancer rates" ...maybe read it again AFTER wiping the special sauce off your glasses (man, how does it even get there?).

      • That's a strawman. Did he say it was 'perfectly healthy'? Or that there was nothing wrong with it? No. He said that it wasn't on the same scale as Chernobyl because by all measurable data it isn't worse than Chernobyl.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well that remains to be seen. The Japanese population is currently eating last year's rice crop. The current year's harvest post Fukishima will not be on the market till next year. For what it is worth, the food regulation process in Japan mandates that any food that contains radioactive traces must be labeled as such. If the radioactivity has migrated via the underground water tables it may have contaminated many of this year's crops. IF Japan loses a significant portion of this year's rice crop which they

    • by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:35PM (#37474290)
      Of course, a >1000 square km area in Fukushima has been officially declared uninhabitable, and is expected to remain so for a couple of decades. How large an area was made uninhabitable by that coal plant explosion? It seems to me the two are just a little bit different in their impact...
      • by geekoid (135745)

        1000 sq, Km?

        Citation needed.

        • Here you go. [dailymail.co.uk] More precisely, they've banned anyone from going within 20 km of the plant. Using area=pi*r*r gives an area of 1256 square km.
          • by quenda (644621)

            OMG you just cited the Daily Mail. How desperate can you be?
            Anyway, they have banned people from living in that zone, which is bad, but a long way from banning anyone from entering.

            • OMG you just cited the Daily Mail. How desperate can you be?

              Ummm... what is that supposed to mean? You're clearly trying to imply something, but I honestly don't know what. Anyway, it was just the first hit that came up in a Google search for "fukushima uninhabitable area". If you prefer a different news source, I'm sure you can find lots of them with very little difficulty. This story was reported by almost every major news agency in the world.

              Anyway, they have banned people from living in that zone, which is bad, but a long way from banning anyone from entering.

              Absolutely false. From the article: "Japan has banned people from entering within 20 km (12 miles) of the Fukushima pla

    • by debrain (29228)

      Sir – Here's a comparison Is Japan's nuclear disaster âoeon parâ with Chernobyl? [stackexchange.com] that you (and others) may find interestig.

    • Those 300 people were basically exposed to high radiation while the disaster happened. You dont know what will happen over time since radiation unless it is a really high dosage can take up to 10-20 years to develop serious diseases. (Unless you are a child then things might just take a handful of years)
      The cancer/death rate among children will be the first we will see increase in the upcoming years.
      Believe me I live in an area which was exposed 2000 kilometers away from Tchernobyl with radioactive rain, an

      • Btw. speaking of long term consequences, there recently was a testing of wild boar in southern germany. And the meat tested still was way over the radiation limits. The reason for that simply was that the area of southern germany was washed heavily with radioactive rain, and the soil which hosts the radioactivity simply is in layers where truffels grow. So go figure what the wild pork eat and how they got contaminated.
        Although the dosage if radioactive content you will get by eating such a pork wont kill yo

    • by egarland (120202)

      Exactly! No deaths! Nuclear Power is dangerous and can kill you which puts it in the same category as breathing and eating. The question isn't is it dangerous: the question is, how dangerous is it.

      Air travel is dangerous. Plane crashes kill people spectacularly and when something goes wrong it's a media field day, but thanks to tireless championing by the industry with definitive statistics backing them up, most people know air travel is extremely safe.

      Nuclear power is in a similar predicament. When so

  • And why are people really mad at him/her.... ;-)
  • It isn't so much whether the plants themselves can be designed to be safe, sited in safe areas, built safely or operated safely; it's whether we can trust the people who are involved not to take kickbacks or falsify records because they're too lazy to x-ray all the pipe welds or be bullied by politicians or miss what turn out to be obvious problems. And the it's not so much the body count after an accident as the resultant loss in credibility of the systems themselves. Not many of us want to live next to a nuclar plant for very good reasons: the consequences of a problem are devastating and the people running them keep lying to us.

    Other power generation facilities lie about things too but they don't require that everyone living within 40 miles of them abandon everything and run... and not come back for a century or two.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      It isn't so much whether the plants themselves can be designed to be safe, sited in safe areas, built safely or operated safely; it's whether we can trust the people who are involved not to take kickbacks or falsify records because they're too lazy to x-ray all the pipe welds or be bullied by politicians or miss what turn out to be obvious problems.

      That's an advantage for nuclear, not a disadvantage. What you say about safety is true for all power plants. Coal plants, wind turbines, and hydroelectric da

      • Nuclear is scarier in the same way that people are more afraid of airplane crashes then car crashes. It's the big spectacular events that scare us the most, even if they are extremely rare. Nuclear also has a real public relations problem. You can't tour a plant. You might even get detained by police for taking a picture of one. The whole issue of what to do with the waste hasn't been worked out (sure it's mostly politics but the fact is it hasn't been taken care of). The average person doesn't have a Geige
      • So how is this an advantage for nuclear? Because nuclear's power generation is so concentrated, it's much easier to enforce stricter building codes, maintenance schedules, and inspections for the same amount of energy generated. Instead of amassing a small army to monitor 10,000 wind turbines being built, inspected, and maintained over 1000 km^2 of land, you can have a dozen inspectors do the same at a single nuclear plant. The statistics bear this out [nextbigfuture.com]. Historically, nuclear is the safes

    • it's whether we can trust the people

      You had me at "whether we can trust ... people"

      I wish everyone was of the quality of the gung ho bravery of the stereotypical NASA astronaut, with the intellect of the Rhode scholar... and raised in the mid-west and having a sort of a innocent bafflement of evil or corruption or falsehood. And from what anyone can tell, the Japanese have a far superior sense of morality than any other modern people (low crime rates, no looting... all the cash and valuables found that has been turned in), but even within t

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      I don't care to live next to a large industrial facility, but if I had to I would readily pick a nuclear plant over almost any other industrial operation. Coal plants would be at or near the bottom of my list. With a nuclear plant there is a (almost, but not quite) negligible chance that I would have to evacuate and never go back home, while with a coal plant I would dread every day that I lived there.

      You can only use "I don't want to live next to a nuclear plant" as an argument against nuclear if you wo
  • for years.

    Use modern reactors, and the government should build and operate them. remove profit gained from skimping on safety and EOL procedures.

    • by Hentes (2461350)
      Indeed, I am a supporter of nuclear power but i do think that boiling water reactors should be closed and replaced with safer modern ones.
    • by guruevi (827432)

      Who does the government hire to build them then? Government contractors and employees are more likely to skip safety procedures (see the BP oil rig disaster and just about any other environmental disaster out there) for profit or out of laziness. They also know they can't get fired or reap any consequences so why would they care?

      What we need is companies that want to be liable when stuff goes wrong. Companies need to be liable for their coal plants and liable for their nuclear plants. Right now our taxes th

  • A PhD Told Me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ..that nuclear reactors are complex systems, and therefore subject to chaotic behavior.. further, the culture of security does not breed increased response to threats, quite the opposite. Long periods of stable energy and profits lead predictably to cozy relationships with regulators and "asleep at the wheel" operators.. industry-wide! This was someone with no political axe in hand, simply advanced training in physics..

    • ..that nuclear reactors are complex systems, and therefore subject to chaotic behavior.. further, the culture of security does not breed increased response to threats, quite the opposite. Long periods of stable energy and profits lead predictably to cozy relationships with regulators and "asleep at the wheel" operators.. industry-wide! This was someone with no political axe in hand, simply advanced training in physics..

      Well said.

  • For every thousand people wringing their hands about all of the "coulda shoulda woulda(s)", there seems to be only a voice or two that really comprehends the size of either the quake or the Tsunami. Yes, TEPCO and the government regulators should have paid attention to what other researchers were saying about the likelihood of a big tsunami hitting the Tokai plain, including the area where Fukushima Daiichi, etc. were located.

    I lived in three of the areas hardest hit: Ishinomaki, Northeast Sendai, and Fu

He who steps on others to reach the top has good balance.

Working...