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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Japanese nuke operators seem out of their minds

You've got to wonder why the world is letting a soon-to-be-bankrupt private company preside over potentially the worst environmental disaster the human species has ever known. Especially since they are showing that they are completely out of touch with reality. The CEO just checked into a hospital for "exhaustion," and one of his underlings is babbling somewhat incoherently:

"We have no choice but to scrap" the No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 units at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Tsunehisa Katsumata told a news conference....

He said the No. 5 and 6 units were still operational, but said any restart of those would depend on consultation with the government and local residents.

The fact that this fellow is suggesting even the remotest possibility of ever reactivating two of the reactors at Fukushima shows that his company is lying, crazy, or both. It's going to have to be nationalized, and the sooner the better.

Sadly, the pool of money to pay for suicide mission workers is not endless. At some point, the desperate work of preventing an even more major nuclear catastrophe is going to have be done by people who must follow orders, in high-risk situations, at low pay. I believe that's what they call the military. And don't be surprised if they're wearing U.S. uniforms -- the World Police Force® will probably be involved. Heaven help those service members and their families -- and all those who have died and are about to die in the name of "cheap, clean, safe" nuclear power.

UPDATE, 4:45 a.m.: Oh, and now they're going to cover the damaged reactors with cloth to keep the fallout down. Whatever, guys -- that should be really interesting during typhoon season.

Comments (22)

Not saying it's going to stay this way, but I'd like to point out that "all those who have died ... in the name of cheap, clean, safe, nuclear power" numbers to 63, worldwide, since the first accident at the experimental reactor in Idaho on January 3, 1961.


Yes, it's 61 too many, but 53 of those were in one accident: Chernobyl.

For perspective, that many people die on average mining up coal per year.

Yeah, Chernobyl killed only 53 people. Right, Fred.

21st-century kamikaze.

A tangent, but it's interesting to compare Mr. Shimizu's response to the situation to Tony Hayward's reaction to the gulf oil spill. Hayward went to the yacht club. Shimizu apparently worked himself into a breakdown. Unfortunately, neither were effective.

As far as impacts, there is also what a Fukushima or Chernobyl does for the living. Can you imagine seeing the value of your home destroyed, your employer put out of business or place of employment shuttered and your family uprooted overnight? Anyone got an irradiation rider on their homeowner's insurance? I think not. Productive, secure citizens one minute; refugees the next. That is what is happening for many.

What happened in the Gulf of Mexico last year was pretty much a single-season impact. Fukushima's impact is generational.

Although on a closer read it seems that nobody knows what Mr. Shimizu has been up to.

Yeah, Chernobyl killed only 53 people. Right, Fred.

If you have other numbers, I'd love to see them. I like adjusting opinions much more based facts than FUD.

Fred, from wikipedia...

The worst nuclear accident to date was the Chernobyl disaster which occurred in 1986 in Ukraine. That accident killed 56 people directly, and caused an estimated 4,000 additional cases of fatal cancer

Link please, Jon?

MachineShed Fred,
Right, and that time the vending machine fell on the delivery guy? That was the only death directly caused by cigarettes.

It's stunning really. The fact that the radiation from a nuclear accident spreads so far, provides cover for the industry to say, "It wasn't us." And this rhetoric - the defiant claims that it's all so safe, really is reminiscent of the tobacco industry circa 1950.

Fred, check out the spikes in baby deformities where depleted uranium was used in Fallujah. Look at the pictures. You've been programmed by corporate merchants of death. They've made you feel smart and proud to carry water for them, but you have to get past all that. You're not in their club. They're using you.

Well there you go. I'm sure the estimates are based on research and statistics, and I'm not saying that in any snarky or sarcastic way.

According to EPA statistics, 13,000 people die in the US each year from fine particulate pollution from coal power; which is actually down from 2004. Here's a nifty map that shows your estimated risk:

The point I'm trying to make here, is that by shouting "NO" to every proposal for nuclear power, it's just going to cause the existing plant operators to squeeze every last nickel out of what they already have, making the statistical probability of a horrifying accident that much higher.

Example: Vermont Yankee - a BWR plant built in 1972 which is functionally the same as the Fukishima plant. There have been reports in the last year or two about leakage of radioactive tritium into groundwater testing wells. It's 40-year EPA license was set to expire next year, but it's been extended until 2032 because this facility generates almost 72% of Vermont's electricity generation, and 35% of that state's overall requirements. Oh, by the way, they are currently operating at 120% of the original designed thermal capacity under the NRC's Extended Power Uprate licensing.

They *can't* just shut it down without having something to replace it, or telling 1 in 3 people in Vermont that they no longer can use the Internet or have electric light and food refrigeration. The question we should be asking is: do we want to keep running plants built 40 years ago (designed 50 years ago) until they have a major catastrophe or break down beyond repair (if not both), or do we want to replace them? The next question after that: what do we replace them with?

Is it going to be newer, better designed nuclear base-load? Coal that ejects billions of tons of waste into the air we breathe? Perhaps natural gas, which causes LNG pipelines that everyone in Oregon is protesting against, let alone the environmental damage caused by "Fracking". Wind and solar, of course, would be the best answer; but it's not base-load generation, and it doesn't have nearly the energy output necessary to replace one of these things yet. Fusion power is still 50 years away, just like it was 50 years ago.

This is a problem for solving right now. Not 20 years from now. Waiting for the "next great thing" isn't a good answer when you need a solution today.

Don't start with Vermont Yankee. My family lived around 7 miles from it. What you're doing is directing your concerns towards the wrong people. If an industry continually misrepresents the truth and cuts corners for profits, you can't blame the citizens for not trusting it.
I also disagree about "waiting for the next great thing." Our national mission should be to find it. Max brought up thorium reactors. One article said, "Imagine how many of those we could have had for 14 trillion?"
I still maintain there is a great discovery yet to come in the field of zero point energy, cold fusion, etc...Something with dark energy? I don't know but that's what we should be focusing on rather than bailing out derivatives gamblers and launching these wars.
There's even the possibility that we already have a new system but it's so deep in secrecy that the actual People can't get it.
I think you're being melodramatic with phrases like, "telling 1 in 3 people in Vermont that they no longer can use the Internet or have electric light and food refrigeration." I do think you'll get further if you try not to stick to the ridiculous claim of only 53 deaths from Chernobyl. It's interesting how you quote the EPA on how many people die from coal pollution. How come you trust that number but ignore the studies of thousands of deaths from Chernobyl?
The EPA has no great credibility. After 9/11 the head of the EPA said being near the rubble of the Twin Towers was safe. A lot of those workers have died since too.
Stop cherry-picking your data and admit that this accident in Japan is going to kill a lot of people. If you stick to that number that only 61 people total have died from nuclear accidents you're not going to persuade anybody about anything.

Bill, I accepted the 4,000 caused cancers figure already in the very first sentence of my reply. If it wasn't clear then, I hope it now is.

As I said, I'm looking for facts, and I'm sure that is one that can be verified rather easily since radiation-caused cancers are quite different from naturally occurring cancers.

Save your data "MachineShedFred" This is a "no logic" zone until the panic subsides.

Starbuck, the link got that info from was given by Fred at the top.

When the nuclear people give you cancer (as they have and will to many thousands from Chernobyl), they smirk and say, "How do you know you got your cancer from us? You can't prove it."

They are devils.

From the section of the 2008 report by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) regarding the health implications of Chernobyl:

With regard to the incidence of thyroid cancer:

"The contamination of milk with 131I, for which prompt countermeasures were lacking, resulted in large doses to the thyroids of members of the general public; this led to a substantial fraction of the more than 6,000 thyroid cancers observed to date among people who were children or adolescents at the time of the accident (by 2005, 15 cases had proved fatal)."

Ironically, the same feature of the thyroid that makes it so susceptible to cancer from radioactive iodine (being the only part of the body to use iodine) makes it the easiest form of cancer to treat. This, plus the fact that the hormones from thyroid can be replaced pharmaceutically, account for the very low mortality rate that appears in the report.

Yeah, screw it. You don't need a healthy thyroid when General Electric has money to be made.

I've worried about this for a long time. Not nuclear power specifically but the percentage of human beings who seem to need an authoritarian figure telling them what to believe rather than think on their own. That noted liberal John Dean had a book about it and the data's pretty tough. The ironic part is that the pro-corporate business side is sold as a way for an individual to show he or she is smarter than the hysterical public. Then they become spokespersons for the cause. It's like a person with a giant snake constricting on them using their last breaths to proclaim how wise and noble the snake is. It's given us the Wall Street meltdown, and plenty of unnecessary wars. Humans are way too susceptible to being fooled by a message delivered in a certain way. In this case, the nuclear power industry has all kinds of motives to lie. They lied about Chernobyl and they're lying about this. Yet an army of robots steps forward to defend them. Correction: I like that one video clip where the guy says robots won't even work in this radioactive environment so you have to use humans. That says it all. This acceptance of a message delivered from above is going to be our downfall. It's very disappointing and by that I mean, the kind of species flaw that leads to extinction.

Don't put all the power generation in a big expensive central location -- not all the eggs in one basket.

Spend those infrastructure investment billion$$$ house-by-house, block-by-block, $10,ooo homemade electricity equipments X 1,ooo,ooo houses. Then a home (or block) that goes black is a homemaker (or blockparty) who didn't do equipment maintenance.

This relates to Bill's observation about uninformed nonthinkers desiring Authority Figures who can be obeyed without questioning. In this case of making electricity, the 'obedient consumer' personalities desire an Electric Power Authority who makes it somewhere else and distributes it through 'The Grid' (whatever that is) along a wire, into the home, for a monthly fee ... so they don't have to know or think about it.

Yeah, Bill, there is a "great discovery" in the 'field of zero point energy'.
This: You start at the zero point, which is the point where you are standing in a field, then you do manual labor. Put your muscle into it, there's your 'energy' right there.

My spit splattered my laptop screen at the predicate about 'when the panic subsides'
... so, like, 50 years? 100? 7 generations? Hey, I know: dead men don't wear panic.


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