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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 13, 2011 3:19 AM. The previous post in this blog was Wipe out. The next post in this blog is The birthday party. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

No big deal?

Here's the Fukushima nuclear reactor yesterday. And another one of these events is likely in the next day or so:

That's a nuclear power plant, folks.

Twenty-two people have been hospitalized for radiation exposure so far --

as many as 160 people may have been exposed to radiation around the plant, and Japanese news media said that three workers at the facility were suffering from full-on radiation sickness.
At least four people were injured in the explosion seen above. On top of everything else, God help Japan with this.

UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: As predicted, another plant has exploded in much the same way. Here's the video.

Comments (17)

I hope the spin-meisters who are trying to advocate for nuclear power during this crisis by discussing deaths from coal, etc...know how ridiculous they sound. It's like comparing apples with radioactive oranges.
For example, the tons of depleted uranium we dropped on Iraq have a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Once this stuff is out there it goes on killing so to compare it with the smoke from coal is a little bit of a stretch.
There's a reason Chernobyl is still basically an abandoned city. If the same number of people had died there because of coal, at least we could go back.
We need something a lot slicker than fission power or burning coal if the human species is going to survive. I'm hopeful that can be found - or shared if it's already been found. If we ever have that available to the public, these fission plants will be shut down as soon as possible. Of course, they'll go on being a dangerous wound on the earth for thousands of years.

So much for public sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and any other red state that needs a little cover for their own nuclear option.

And this is supposed to be "clean and safe"?
NOT!

I'm not going to say that nuclear power is "safe"...

But the largest death toll from a power plant failure was actually a hydroelectric dam in China, built directly upstream from a city. When the dam failed causing a massive flood, up to 230,00 people lost their lives.

Cherynobyl had 56 direct fatalities from the actual meltdown, but possibly 4,000 deaths from radiation poisoning. And of course tens of thousands of victims had other health effects, including cancers caused by the radiation.

Coal...of course spews pollution causing all sorts of breathing ailments and even lung cancer.

Wind is reported to have had effects on humans and animals, but the pro-wind folks are downplaying any impact (hmm, sound familiar?) Solar...not sure what impact there is, but as a realistic energy source is simply too intermittent, and too low producing.

I think we need to realize that there is no true "safe" form of energy and that we humans must accept certain risks for living the lives that we have. Just like driving a car or riding a bike has risks, so does energy production. So the question is, what risks are we willing to accept and to what extent? Are we willing to have nuclear - given that 99% of the time it has zero environmental impact, but that 1% of the time it does have an impact it's a HUGE impact? Are we willing to accept hydro, which has a much larger footprint (remember Ceilio Falls?) and a much larger impact to aquatic life? Coal is easy and cheap but has air pollution and requires mining the coal which also has a large footprint. Natural Gas is better than coal but much more expensive to extract.

Or...we can have wind and solar, but have power only 25% of the time.

Just in from the NYT via the IAEA.
Now a 4th nuke plant is suffering from problems.
Eric, many of your points are valid, and one solution to the power use, could be that we all use less?
Do we all need instant on anything?; that leaches about 30% of total power consumption.
As far as solar goes, on a grand scale it may not be possible to gain a lot of power. But if everyone had a couple of solar panels on the roof and a couple of batteries, it could make a difference even in this climate and at this latitude. We use supplemental solar power and it works, even here! In places like CA, AZ, NM, WY, TX, CO, and lots of other sunnier areas, it could make a huge difference in consumption of fossil fuels. Of course the fossil fuel lobby will never allow that!
There is no one answer, or a finite solution.

Erik,
There's another choice: Something new. We should be focused on a breakthrough on the energy front that will make any of these options seem like a horse-and-buggy. Instead we are spending our trillions to prop up a bunch of bankers who need new chips for their gambling addiction.
Oh, and one criteria for the new energy source machines: They should have a simple on-and-off switch. It's ironic that we haven't even made it past the horse-and-buggy phase on this. In Japan, we are seeing a horse that has bolted and we are frantically trying to reign it in before it pulls the buggy over.

Bill McDonald: I hope the spin-meisters
JK: I don’t hear you denouncing the sky is falling crowd that comes out from under their rocks every time something technical goes wrong.

Bill McDonald: who are trying to advocate for nuclear power during this crisis by discussing deaths from coal, etc...know how ridiculous they sound.
JK: Yeah,
* how ridiculous is 5-6000 coal miner deaths ENERGY YEAR compared to under 100 in the world’s worst nuclear disaster?
* how ridiculous is tons of radioactive material put in the air every year by coal and damn near NONE from nuclear.

Bill McDonald: It's like comparing apples with radioactive oranges.
JK: No, a trainload of poisoned apples to one radioactive orange.

Are you seriously saying it is better to kill thousand of miners per year and put tons in radioactive material in the air each year than to take a chance on nuclear?

Or are you one of those extreme greens that think we should just shut off electricity that isn’t from wind? And turn off the heat in our homes? And walk or bike everywhere. (No mass transit because that uses oil too.) And all live in Homer’s bunkers 20 stories tall as far as the eye can see?

Bill McDonald: For example, the tons of depleted uranium we dropped on Iraq have a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
JK: Of course it does. Common water probably has a half life of hundreds of billions of years.

You should learn some basic science:
Radiation is the result of atoms’ self destruction. The faster that happens the more radioactive it is and the SHORTER half life it has. Things that are not very radioactive have long half lives. If you read beyond the green propaganda, you would know that the “depleted” in depleted uranium means it is depleted of radioactivity - most of the radioactive stuff has been removed. (according to wikipedia it is used as radiation shielding! And aircraft counterweights - 800lb or more is some 747s)

Bill McDonald: Once this stuff is out there it goes on killing so to compare it with the smoke from coal is a little bit of a stretch.
JK: Tell us how uranium with the radioactivity removed kills. (Other than has a poisonous heavy metal)

Bill McDonald: There's a reason Chernobyl is still basically an abandoned city. If the same number of people had died there because of coal, at least we could go back.
JK: Pardon me, 400 times as many people die from coal EVERY YEAR as died from Chernobly.

And quit comparing a primitive reactors WITHOUT CONTAINMENT to our newer safer designs. It’s a cheap scare tactic.

Bill McDonald: We need something a lot slicker than fission power or burning coal if the human species is going to survive. I'm hopeful that can be found - or shared if it's already been found. If we ever have that available to the public, these fission plants will be shut down as soon as possible.
JK: Let us know as soon as you find it. So far all we get is false alarms like wind solar.

Thanks
JK

"Common water probably has a half life of hundreds of billions of years. You should learn some basic science."
Jim, excuse me, I need a moment to marvel at that.
Okay, now where was I?
See, there was this war, and these shells were fired with depleted uranium on the tips because they could penetrate things like tanks easier than lighter metals. Unfortunately, these shells spread radioactive material into the environment where many people - including American soldiers - got sick. You ask me to "Tell us how uranium with the radioactivity removed kills." That is a loaded question, because you - as a man of science - know the radioactivity has not been removed. It's been depleted.
These shells were radioactive and the dust clouds from them after they explode are dangerous to humans breathing this radioactivity in.

I thought your discussion about nuclear power versus coal was ridiculous against a backdrop of fire trucks pumping sea water into the plant over there in a desperate attempt to regain control. It just didn't seem like the time to take the "accidents happen" route. I thought you and Aaron came off as hopelessly tone deaf. Not even the paid corporate spin-meisters are rushing to the media to marvel at how great nuclear power is right now. It seemed ridiculous to me.

I think I see the problem. You take my discussion of a new energy source and turn it into a "green progressive" thing about solar and wind. That's where the serious vitriol comes in. Maybe that's why you got my position so wrong:

I'm talking about a real breakthrough here involving zero point energy, anti-gravity, or maybe even cold fusion. Something new. Something extremely slick. Something that transforms our energy picture. I believe it's out there and I believe we better start finding it for the general public or we are in serious trouble. I wish we had spent the 14-trillion on that - rather than financial shenanigans. If we had succeeded, it would have been a bargain.

I think I know why you reacted like this with the Homer bunker references, etc...You are thinking small and it makes you sound small-minded. It's like you're talking out your butt.
Wait, there's an energy solution for you: Remove your head from where it currently is and stick a turbine up there. You'll be able to power your entire block.
P.S. The bold fonts look ridiculous too.

Bill McDonald: That is a loaded question, because you - as a man of science - know the radioactivity has not been removed. It's been depleted.
...
a real breakthrough here involving zero point energy, anti-gravity, or maybe even cold fusion.
JK: Depleted!! Anti-gravity!!! This tells us all we need to know about your science and logic skills.

Bill McDonald: Remove your head from where it currently is and stick a turbine up there. You'll be able to power your entire block.
JK: I suggest you practice what you preach.

Thanks
JK

Jim,
Deplete: to lessen markedly in quantity, content, power, or value.

The depleted uranium shells are still radioactive. If you don't know that, you haven't been paying attention since the Gulf War. That's a long time to be stuck on stupid.

Bill McDonald: to lessen markedly in quantity, content, power, or value.

JK:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deplete
Definition of DEPLETE
transitive verb
1 :to empty of a principal substance
2 :to lessen markedly in quantity, content, power, or value

JK: Sorry for assuming you meant its primary meaning.

Thanks
JK

Jim,
I'm going to tone it down and apologize because you're obviously one of those people who is right no matter what the truth is.
I think you do owe it to the veterans who fought in the Gulf War and Iraq to find out what a depleted uranium shell is. We send them into harm's way and expose them to the effects of these weapons. The least you can do is find out what is going on.
But I do apologize for letting you irritate me. I wish you the best.

Mr Karlock, you need to calm down!
And your bold fonts are pretty silly IMO. You don't need to scream at us to hold our attention. Your comments do that.
And what is wrong with thinking about what may now seem like unconventional means for power generation?
At one time the concept of electricity was considered heresy. Galileo was excommunicated for asserting the earth revolved around the sun. And nuclear fusion existed only in the imagination of a few scientists.
Open your mind to endless possibilites for the betterment of us all.

Portland Native: And what is wrong with thinking about what may now seem like unconventional means for power generation?
JK: Nothing. I just object when people’s statements show they know nothing of basic physics and thus promote things that are theoretically impossible or have huge practical problems. Those nasty little practical problems are just now starting to be admitted by the wind power promoters. And some European countries are finally starting to realize that green jobs harm the economy and thus hurt people. In the meantime they have wasted billions of dollars that would be better left in people’s pockets.

Portland Native: Open your mind to endless possibilites for the betterment of us all.
JK: I am far more open than you appear to be, because I understand basic physics.

Because of that I recognize the inherent limitations of many of the alternative energy proposals being touted as the salvation of man. Many of these unworkable schemes are being promoted by the green organizations and published by scientifically illiterate reporters, creating the impression that endless power is readily available if only the oil companies (or some other boogeyman) would get out of the way. This spreading of false information is harming us all.

Why don’t you tell us which of the proposed energy schemes have a real chance of serving as our base load generation.

Thanks
JK, a Portland native

A very useful article to read is here: http://theenergycollective.com/barrybrook/53461/fukushima-nuclear-accident-simple-and-accurate-explanation

Summary: Uncontained failure does not appear to have occurred and is unlikely to occur.

The Chernobyl explosion happened within the reactor core, while these Fukushima explosions have occurred outside the reactor containment vessels and are thus an entirely different kettle of fish. Partial meltdown has almost certainly occurred, but the immediate shutdown of the reactor when the earthquake struck followed by seawater cooling after backup power failed should be sufficient to prevent any uncontained failures.

Also, for what it's worth, seawater cooling almost certainly means these reactors will never operate again.

No one will mistake this for a good situation to be in, but it sure could be worse.

Bill, (and everyone), there IS NO 'new' energy source.

There is NOT going to be one 'invented.'
There is NOT going to be one 'come along in the course of time and applied research.'

It takes a lot of Science learning, indeed ALL that Science has learned up to now in order to understand why there is NO 'new' energy source.

In essence, when it was learned how to do nuclear energy, it was the smallest unit there is, the tiniest 'whole' 'particle' that exists. Think of it as 'the quantum.'

Nuclear energy 'splits' the atom, or rather splits 'the quantum' inside the atom. And energy comes out.

Within the quantum there is no smaller 'particle' to split, nowhere else out of which energy can come. Because the definition of 'quantum' is the smallest 'thing' there is, the smallest 'thing' that can exist (on the 'physical plane').

Science has 'hit the wall', reached the physical limits (of energy), or rather, the limits of the (energetic) physical world. Physics can not 'advance' further. (But then, metaphysics might offer you additional 'other' energy; for example, levitate yourself by mental ferocity and you don't need a 'mechanical' (physical) device generating anti-gravity for you ... which is good thing that you can 'float' in air without an external device since such a device isn't going to exist because it's a physics impossibility, as you can confirm when you do the Science.)

The unrealistic hope for an anti-gravity device is like the unrealistic hope to have a time machine. Gravity goes one way, like time.

It is not possible to 'anti-' or 'do backward' gravity, the same as it is not possible to 'backward' (or 'forward') in time. Well, in a way, gravity IS time. Also, time IS gravity. Gravity and time are two expressions of an 'invisible' (or 'supernatural') force.

And if you did have an anti-gravity machine or a time-travel machine, you then cease to think of any important interest in getting energy out of the machine to heat your house or drive your car. Heck, in cold winter you just set the Time dial for summer and then you don't need heat.

Oh, let me leave it at that. 'New energy' device is a conundrum: If you had it then it wouldn't work because you wouldn't need it.

It's just really hard to explain. Study ALL of Science and you can 'get it.' Meanwhile, believe it: There is NO 'new' energy 'out there somewhere' waiting to be discovered or invented. Forget that.

Sorry.

Meanwhile, believe it: There is NO 'new' energy 'out there somewhere' waiting to be discovered or invented. Forget that.
JK: Now you are trying to predict the future. You are saying there will be no new discoveries. You cannot know that. That is a very inaccurate endeavor and quite different from looking at a proposal from a knowledge of physics.

An economical way to use the waste hear of an automotive engine can double or triple gas mileage. That is as good a new energy source. Same for power plants.

Known, but impractical energy sources might become practical with further development.

Thanks
JK


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