Tag Archives: nuclear power

We fear what we’re told to fear, not what we should fear. Like Fukushima.

Summary: Like obedient peons Americans fear what they’re told to fear (no matter how bogus), and remain blind to obvious dangers. Unfortunately our “good sheep” policy might not work well for us, or for our children. For example, events at Fukushima might turn ugly. Too bad we do not demand accurate reports about the situation, monitoring of the radiation released (and arriving here), and reasonable preparations. But we see ourselves as consumers, passengers in New America, not citizens with responsibilities. For those who care, here is some news about that simmering caldron in Japan.

Angel cries

(1) Fukushima clean-up turns toxic for Japan’s Tepco“, Reuters, 30 July 2013 — Excerpt:

Two and a half years after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima plant faces a daunting array of unknowns.

  • Why the plant intermittently emits steam;
  • how groundwater seeps into its basement;
  • whether fixes to the cooling system will hold;
  • how nearby groundwater is contaminated by radioactive matter;
  • how toxic water ends up in the sea and
  • how to contain water that could overwhelm the facility’s storage tanks.

What is clear, say critics, is that Tokyo Electric Power Co is keeping a nervous Japanese public in the dark about what it does know.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami off Japan’s eastern coast killed nearly 20,000 people on March 11, 2011. It also destroyed the Fukushima plant, causing meltdowns at some of its reactors and hydrogen explosions. Radiation leaked into the air and sea.

… Tepco was heavily criticized by nuclear experts and the government at the time for what was seen as an inept response to the disaster. It has won few supporters since. … the missteps continue.

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Let’s watch the oceans die while we worry about other things!

Summary: While we worry about other things, including the possible fate of the world in 2100, the oceans are dying. Dying right now. The world’s oceans were suffering from pollution and overfishing, destroying the major fisheries. Now we administer another blow, with radiation from the Fukushima reactors flowing into the Pacific. Here we look at some of the sad details. Our indifference to the ocean’s death is more evidence of our dysfunctionality

“The planet’s future has never looked better. Here’s why.”
— “Earth Day, Then and Now“, Ronald Bailey, Reason magazine, May 2000

World Oil

Oil might not be the worst pollutant


  1. Radiation flows on the oceanic highways
  2. “Mishaps Underscore Weaknesses of Japanese Nuclear Plant”
  3. “Japanese Nuclear Plant May Have Been Leaking for Two Years”
  4. “State withholds more than 60% of Fukushima cleanup budget”
  5. “TEPCO’s plan to halt spread of radioactive water based on shaky theory”
  6. Updates
  7. Destruction of the world’s fisheries
  8. For More Information
  9. Another view of the oceanic highways

(1)  The worlds oceans are highways for radiation

NOAA developed a model (see map below) to show where radioactive debris from Fukushima will circulate in the Pacific Ocean. (NPR, 9 March 2012):

Click to enlarge.  From NOAA

From NOAA via NPR, 9 March 2012


(2)  “Mishaps Underscore Weaknesses of Japanese Nuclear Plant“, New York Times, 10 April 2013 — Excerpt:

More than two years after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a series of recent mishaps — including a blackout set off by a dead rat and the discovery of leaks of thousands of gallons of radioactive water — have underscored just how vulnerable the plant remains. Increasingly, experts are arguing that the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, cannot be trusted to lead what is expected to be decades of cleanup and the decommissioning of the plant’s reactors without putting the public, and the environment, at risk.

At the same time, the country’s new nuclear regulator remains woefully understaffed. It announced Wednesday that it would send a ninth official to the site — to monitor the work of about 3,000 laborers. “The Fukushima Daiichi plant remains in an unstable condition, and there is concern that we cannot prevent another accident,” Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at a news conference. “We have instructed Tepco to work on reducing some of the biggest risks, and we as regulators will step up monitoring.”

The biggest scare at the plant in recent days has been the discovery that at least three of seven underground storage pools are seeping thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the soil. On Wednesday, Tepco acknowledged that the lack of adequate storage space for contaminated water had become a “crisis,” and said it would begin emptying the pools. But the company said that the leaks will continue over the several weeks that it will likely take to transfer the water to other containers.

… Tepco stores more than a quarter-million tons of radioactive water at the site and says the amount could double within 3 years. But as outside experts have discovered with horror, the company had lined the pits for the underground pools with only two layers of plastic each 1.5 millimeters thick, and a third, clay-based layer just 6.5 millimeters thick. And because the pools require many sheets hemmed together, leaks could be springing at the seams, Tepco has said. “No wonder the water is leaking,” said Hideo Komine, a professor in civil engineering at Ibaraki University, just south of Fukushima. He said that the outer protective lining should have been hundreds of times thicker.

(3)  “Japanese Nuclear Plant May Have Been Leaking for Two Years“, New York Times, 10 July 2013 — Excerpt:

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How can we save the world from climate change?

Summary: Today we continue our year-end speculations. Here we look at the steps necessary to save the world from the effects of CO2-caused climate change.

Preparing for shockwaves!

Preparing for shockwaves!

The often-hysterical tone of much commentary about shockwaves — low probability, high impact scenarios — makes me wonder about these people’s sincerity. How much of their comments reflect genuine fear, how much is entertainment? How many of the people warning of shockwaves do so for personal business interests, or perhaps because these build support for pubic policy measures they seek for other reasons?

Consider climate change. If the IPCC high-end forecasts are correct, only drastic cuts in humanity’s carbon emissions can prevent severe climate change. Many laypeople (ie, non-scientists) loudly proclaim their concern, often exaggerating the state of current research — focusing on that which feeds their fears, ignoring or denigrating that which does not.

The solutions commonly advocated fuel skepticism about their motives. High taxes (eg, carbon taxes) and a massive increase in government regulation of the economy — both long-standing goals of the Left.

Instead, let’s run the problem the other way. What measures would people advocate who are sincerely concerned about CO2-caused warming — and the resulting climate change? Let’s list the most obvious ones.

GRACE satellites at work

GRACE satellites at work

  1. Expansion of climate science research
  2. Nuclear Power
  3. Mitigation measures

(1) Expansion of climate science research

Right or wrong, a large fraction of the world’s people do not believe that global warming poses an imminent threat to them. As has been amply documented in the IPCC reports and elsewhere, there remains a large number of uncertainties about Earth’s past climate, climate dynamics, and forecasts of future climate. The obvious response is greater funding. Here are two areas of great need.

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About the atomic crisis in Japan – background information and reliable news sources

Update:  This post from March 15 have been moved to the top, as Japan’s nuclear crisis continues — and the radiation spreads.  I recommend using the links in section 3 to learn what’s happening.

Summary:  We might be reading much about radiation during the next few days.  Most of these articles will provide little context.  Here’s some useful background information, and links to reliable news sources.  This is a follow-up to News about the earthquake in northeastern Japan.


  1. About radiation:  units and definitions
  2. Effects of radiation
  3. For more information about the crisis in Japan’s nuclear reactor crisis
  4. For more information about nuclear power
  5. Other articles on the FM website about the future of energy

(1)  About radiation (from the Encyclopedia Britannica)

(a)  Gray (Gy), a unit of absorbed dose of ionizing radiation. 

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An atomic solution to the energy crisis

Great progress has been made over the decades since America built its last atomic power plant.  These solutions arrive just in time to provide clean and relatively inexpensive energy as we convert from liquid fuels (oil, natural gas) after Peak Oil — sometime in the next ten years or so.

This is a brief update about the prospects for atomic power.  For more information about new energy sources, see the FM reference page about Energy.

Small Nuclear Power Reactors

The World Nuclear Association has some excellent materials about small nukes, the cutting edge of the next atomic revolution.  The following are excerpts from a July 2008 report.

  • There is revival of interest in small and simpler units for generating electricity from nuclear power, and for process heat.
  • The interest is driven both by a desire to reduce capital costs and to provide power away from main grid systems.
  • The technologies involved are very diverse.

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An urban legend to comfort America: alternative energy will save us

Summary: This is post #5 in a series examining “urban legends” about energy that comfort Americans. There are solutions, but not the easy ones in which so many Americans have confidence.

This is the last post in a series examining 5 “urban legends” about energy that comfort Americans. 

I.      Our massive reserves of unconventional oil.
II.     We’ll run crash programs to solve peak oil, just as we mobilized for WWII.
III.    Demand creates supply, by raising prices.
IV.    Oil is Oil, even if it is not oil
V.    Demand creates supply, from new technology.

Unfortunately, we can rely on none of these myths to see us through the transitional process known as peak oil.  Certainly these myths do not substitute for intense research and planning.  As dsicussed in previous posts, we know astonishingly little about our consumption patterns, available energy resources, and alternatives.  Nor has the available information been collected, analyzed, and used for models and simulations — the foundation of good planning.  News reports said that the resent satellite interception cost $125 million; one-tenth of that could fund a multi-disciplinary project that would help plan a sound future for America’s energy supply.  Instead we rely on inspired guessing.

Here we discuss three comforting myths about alternative energy sources.  These are excuses for not doing the hard work of gathering information, analysis, planning, and executing programs necessary to prepare for the multi-decade transition through peak oil to the next era (whatever that will be).

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