NBC New York – Brian Thompson – 6 hours ago
AP Rutgers University scientist and radiation safety officer Patrick McDermott says he would not hesitate to drink a glass or two of Tokyo water, or even water closer to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. …
from Scientific American – today
By Davide Castelvecchi | March 25, 2011
Orbach and other physicists warned about the current “hysteria”—caused in part by human errors and a lack of transparency on the part of plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company—and the possible consequences of abandoning nuclear power, such as the environmental impact that would result from producing the same electricity with fossil fuels. Instead, more research and better engineering are called for, he says, adding: “I’m hopeful that cooler heads, wiser heads, will prevail.”
Nuclear engineers have long promoted intrinsic safety features that could make future reactors safer, but retrofits at existing nuclear power plants could make intrinsic safety features available at old reactors, too, Orbach said. Such improvements would particularly pertain at 23 reactors in the U.S. that are based on the same 1970s General Electric design as the Fukushima reactors.
So, the U.S. should learn lessons from that ongoing disaster and seriously consider retrofitting at least some of its reactors, Raymond L. Orbach, former undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy, said here this week at a meeting of the American Physical Society.
My Note –
It has actinides in it – which is uranium and stuff like that.
So, that is apparently okay to drink according to Rutgers University professor and radiation safety officer Patrick listed above. Hmmm ……….. Thank God he isn’t teaching any of my kids but God help us for the ones who have been taught by him and his kind. They want us to believe all is well, there is no danger with radioactive isotopes like Cesium and Iodine and Strontium in the water. In fact, there have been eight different isotopes found in the water at the basement of the Fukushima reactor facility, but the scientists on the news assure us that it must have come from the turbine and not the reactor itself – because they figure we wouldn’t know that the turbine isn’t supposed to have radioactive isotopes in it at a million times the normal background radiation levels and these specific isotopes.
Hell, what could I know – they are getting paid, I’m not.
But here – Happy Friday after you’ve finished watching whatever Snooky says in a drunken stupor on the tv –
Posted on 26th March 2011
Seventeen workers at the plant have been contaminated since the plant was damaged in a March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami, Kyodo news agency reported Saturday.
That figure includes only those who have been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation, the maximum exposure for a nuclear plant worker for an entire year.
The highest levels found in the water in block 1 of the plant were of caesium 137, a radioactive isotope that was released into the environment in the Chernobyl disaster. It appeared at levels of 1.8 million becquerel.
Caesium 137 (Cesium 137), in contrast to radioactive iodine, has a relatively long half life of 30.2 years. It is created during nuclear fission. The water also contained Caesium isotopes 134 and 136 as well as iodine-131.
Now I don’t care who you might be or how many degrees are coming at the end of your name, or how much the people are paying you to sit on some damn commission on nuclear stuff or if you have four degrees in that –
The above information is a serious indication that this is not some fluffy small accident. I don’t know how you are going to tell America that and convey those facts in a task appropriate manner – but saying you’ll drink the water there is stupid. And, I’m ashamed of Scientific American for promising a highly regarded critical scientific look at the situation by virtue of their reputation and then sticking a fluff piece with their name behind it to express that we shouldn’t give up on nuclear plants in our “hysteria,” as Mr. Orbach told everyone . . .
Found this too –
Video of a Japan Defense Forces flyover – of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors –
And, I kept thinking all the way through it that they are too close – why isn’t that a drone with a camera rather than a helicopter with men in it?
Totally bizarre – like the workers who were sent into a plant known to have radioactive contamination without heavy boots on their feet. Apparently the Japanese government scolded TEPCO for not taking the radiation readings correctly before the workers were sent into the plant, as well – according to the discussion from AC360 on CNN tonight about the mid-way through the hour. I think that when our professors are talking about this as if it is nothing and our ex-energy officials are looking and talking about it like “hysteria” has overtaken anyone demanding that our nuclear plants be made safer, and our financial news sources have talked about it like the problems weren’t that bad and nearly fixed by Saturday – that it isn’t helping anything.
That’s what I think.
And, further – after having a friend over to my house who is literate but could not put the letters for “real estate” into the computer using its typewriter keyboard, (and the recent overwhelming information about how “most people in America” don’t care about this stuff and don’t know anything about it – from my family and friends) – I think maybe as science geeks, we need to explain all this in simpler terms – which I thought about it awhile and then wrote them down –
Yes – I’m being shitty and mean because it isn’t funny anymore. That the men around where I live and that I’ve known in the last thirty years mostly can’t cook for themselves and are required to go out to eat after they retire, is not funny. That they can’t use a keyboard on a computer to type out the simple words for a google search to look up something they want to know, isn’t funny. And, having the whole damn lot of them judging me from the community around me, while the only thing important is what snooky said this week – also isn’t funny. To say to somebody about nuclear power plants, that they are essentially boiling water – and then have the person say, “oh, I don’t understand anything about that.” And, then I say – “I’m telling you, they are using it to boil water so it turns the turbine and makes electricity. They are boiling water with all that.” And, they tell me that none of that is anything that they can understand because they were never any good with math and science. So, they can’t understand it right now even though I’m telling them right there that this expensive science contraption called nuclear power is just a big thing to boil water . . .
Okay, so I’m over it.
Here is an easy way to understand nuclear power.
Yes, it is dangerous.
Yes, it would be safe if it weren’t dangerous.
It can go along quite awhile looking pretty reliable until it is suddenly really dangerous.
That danger down’ there at the nuclear plant doesn’t stay down there at the nuclear plant.
No, that fence around it down there at the nuclear plant doesn’t do much good . . .
And, the terms we use about this can be understood better like this –
A Nuclear Reactor Is A $10 Billion Dollar Steam Kettle.
Nuclear Physics (as it involves nuclear power plants) –
they are using radioactive uranium to boil water.
The “Radioactive” part – gets hot.
That boils the water around it and makes steam.
The steam turns these big fan things in the “turbine” to make electricity.
The only part we want is – the electricity.
Here is what happened at Fukushima –
When the electricity went off and the water wasn’t moving at the nuclear power plant reactors – it boiled dry in places and went boom the same way a steam kettle will do on the stove when you forget it was there . . .
If you forgot that steam kettle on the burner with the burner on till the next day, the pool of metal would greet you where it melted all over the burner and the stove along with whatever was nearby . . . (it would probably be black too and the air would stink.)
When the same thing happens in a nuclear power plant and it goes boom, that usually means there was a lot of really weird radioactive stuff that doesn’t show up anywhere else on the planet which gets out of wherever they originally had control of it.
If you step in it, that kind of radioactive stuff can make you very sick and die.
If you fly through a cloud of it in a helicopter, even though you are there for a good reason – it can still make you sick anyway.
And, when a Rutgers University professor or anybody else who is expert in this “officially’, tells anyone that it is okay to drink the water which has been found to have Cesium (one of those funky radioactive things) or radioactive Iodine in it – neither he nor they will be the one who gets sick or gets cell damage from it.
When there is a choice about who to believe and who to trust and who to listen to that could know what they are talking about and be right about it – (and you are reading this) –
Please remember these three things –
1. It isn’t going to hurt them if you do things based on their information and they are wrong.
2. Don’t trust any of them to have the same agenda that you think would be the first priority, like “public good” in the same way you or I would think about that.
3. If you wouldn’t stand near a burning fire that is out of control and you wouldn’t stand nor allow anyone else to stand next to a building that is damaged by an earthquake and about to fall down – then consider radioactive dangers in the same manner and take every reasonable precaution.
(and I’ll add a fourth one, just for me because I want to)
xxx – Just because someone has a portion of authority or education, even a seat on the nuclear regulatory commission or the university professorship, or the seal of expertise about something – or college degrees in it – that means they passed a number of classes with at least “C” – but not necessarily all of them even in their major – and that they got through it sober or not – but they were passed and given that piece of paper on the wall.
It doesn’t mean they ever truly understood the principles involved in any of it.
And, I really wish that were not so, but it is.
You are just as capable of understanding what these experts know about these things and applying common sense to the things they may have missed or may have never truly understood about it.
Any of us would have known to make sure the workers had heavy boots on to protect them . . .
Any of us know that we want water, milk, juice, fruits and vegetables free of radioactive isotopes which have been manufactured at some nuclear power plant and don’t want radioactive isotopes of Cesium 137 in our children’s water, milk and foods.
Any of us know that we also don’t want to breathe that either.
And that isn’t rocket science – that is common sense.
So I had one of those truly great ideas – at least I thought it was – and my daughter was laughing so hard over the phone when she heard it that she couldn’t hardly talk – and that is saying something. But, then I said – now what? Who could be advantaged? Who could benefit? and obviously, how could money be made with it?
Well, the idea has to do with nuclear energy and the nuclear power plants specifically, and after thinking about it awhile – I decided to send an email to the Union of Concerned Scientists to ask how to work with them on it. I would have to say that the likelihood of anyone there getting back to me on it is probably somewhere very close to nil – however, I did it anyway.
Here is what I wrote to them –
Sent to – onsite form – 03-23-11
I’m not a member. I have an idea. It would make a viral video to make an immediate influx of income to your organization and increase membership. It isn’t vile nor violent. It would get press coverage and YouTube viral hits – and give you the opportunities to tell the public about what you do as you deserve to have – especially right now. It is a good way to get the public involved in what you have been working hard to do about nuclear power plant safety and reasonable preparations for it, to have a knowledgeable citizenry with an edge for science, using intelligence, and good conscientious engineering – things like that.
I don’t know how to make arrangements quickly with you to sell the idea to you or do it for your organization. It could yield positive air time on the news and other talk shows as well as getting the viral video status (in all likelihood.) It wouldn’t cost much to do it and could be done on a weekend – like next weekend, in fact – while people are still thinking about what happened at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. I would like to be able to tell you about it. Please tell me how to work with you on it and who would need to decide. Thankyou, cricketdiane
(I have a blog at wordpress – at cricketdiane and have been trying to share information about the nuclear power plant in trouble over the last few days.)
This idea isn’t stodgy and I think maybe it’s time to change the glassy-eyed stare people get when nuclear reactor talk starts up . . .
It went to this on-site form here –
Union of Concerned Scientists
Maybe it would be worth calling them and trying to find out who would need to work with something like this. They probably pay a small fortune already to the consulting firm that does their public relations and advertising or fundraising.
Too late –
CNNI 3.39am ET
TEPCO holding press conference – Reactor No. 3 being evacuated – grey black smoke pouring out – There were 500 or more workers at the facility (earlier today / yesterday Japan time – there were 660 workers reported at the facility.)
Earlier today, I didn’t get to post because for some reason my administration on this blog was blocked – maybe it was a denial of service attack or just a snafu on the server or something I’ve mucked up – but I only found it was fixed a little bit ago after sending the email to the Union of Concerned Scientists. (Note of great thanks to the support team at Happiness Central wordpress, thankyou.)
The wikipedia page about people interested in activism where it comes to nuclear plant safety are mostly ready to shut them all down rather than do something with the problems that still exist in them. It was also kind of unnerving to look at those people who might be served by my idea for a viral video that could be organizations that I know very little about. At least, the Union of Concerned Scientists is one whose information I’ve seen over many years and noted that it is of merit and trustworthy in its manner of peer-review, science and engineering approaches.
Unfortunately, that is probably about the same reason they won’t consider my idea, too – they have a lot of “prestigious” people involved with what they do with a great deal of seriousness about the subject matter, which well they should. These are serious matters. But – – –
But, we can’t afford for people’s eyes to glaze over as we talk to them about nuclear physics anymore. The cost has been too great to leave these matters in the hands of those we elect or the ones they appoint, many of which come from the same industries they are intended to regulate. The price for doing it that way with little understanding of the workings of it ourselves has left us at the mercy of those who may very well be serving some other agenda besides the public interest and public good. That price has become too high.
As I watched the 82 year old lady in Japan who looked younger than her years and who had toiled over the planting of her garden which now she cannot eat nor sell that I saw on a CNN segment, I thought how wrong that is for her and her neighbors – and how wrong it will be for us, as well. It is unnecessary for things to get to that stage – and in the case of Fukushima Daiichi reactors – it was definitely unnecessary for it to get to critical points that we’ve all seen.
There was a comment on a news article from an Asian news source that said, “but France sent 95 tons of boron to them at Fukushima on Thursday”. And, another comment said, “GE had offered to come in and shut the plant down on the first day. To stop it.” I couldn’t confirm whether their information was accurate because very little of those kinds of things have appeared in the Western journalism about it – however, I think it probably is correct in both statements. And, after awhile thinking about it – I have been thinking that the TEPCO decision-makers made a choice – or rather a serious of choices to not stop the plant in those ways because they were trying to save the massive amounts of fuel rods – around 80 – 90 tonnes per reactor plus as much as five times that amount per spent fuel rod cooling pool within each building.
And, maybe they entertained that fantasy about restarting the machines and the reactors with a little cosmetic work to the outside of the building and they thought the system would be as good as new to continue in the days ahead. Or – maybe it was the money, because I just read an article or three about the $35 billion dollar loan guarantees the Japanese government leaders are considering giving to TEPCO right now. Maybe it the plant were “killed” as done in other places during a critical event, they wouldn’t have been able to acquire money to fix it and stay in a healthy financial position or something.
Whatever it was that prompted their decisions, I can honestly say that the radioactive trash that is floating into drinking water, onto the land, on the gardens that have already been tilled and in some cases, are at the point of harvesting, and the cesium137 and iodine 131 that is showing up everywhere it isn’t supposed to ever be – all are the direct results of the decisions made or not made properly about this nuclear facility. The first day, before the explosion – problems of a significant nature were already known. And, there is a trail of press coverage, briefings and information concerning that with the facts which told them the event was significant and could be dire, as well.
So, instead of stopping these disasters from developing any further, they actually made them worse at a number of points along the way.
What is also bizarre in all this is the way that some press coverage has offered a happy, happy picture even while there was every evidence that something else was occurring.
ftenergysource FT Energy Source
Energy headlines: Tepco closer to restarting nuclear pumps http://on.ft.com/i5Gdx3
But, in real time – this has just happened –
Reuters Reuters Top News
FLASH: Japan nuclear agency: Smoke at Fukushima no.3 unit is from building that houses reactor
Well, at first I thought it was only not having seen the last bit of what happened or the latest bit of information – but then it became obvious over the last couple days especially, that nearly every economic or financial oriented news source had articles and headlines indicating the problems at the Fukushima plant were all but solved . . .
Of course, I just had to save those to compare with what everything else was saying and it is really quite phenomenal. On bloomberg news broadcast yesterday, there was a lead-in to the reporter’s story that sounded as if the power had been restored to the plant and everything was stable, then the reporter in Tokyo said the truth of it which is that the plant’s reactors No. 2 and 3 had smoke pouring out of them still and there had been high radiation readings at one point at least through the day with increased smoke. The reactors No. 1 and 2 were actually found to have more damage than was expected (by anyone looking from here, I can’t even imagine how they expected anything less,) and then he mentioned the continuing discoveries about the radioactive isotopes being found in drinking water, foodstuffs, milk and on vegetables.
People were to stop drinking the tap water in a number of areas as of yesterday, and I can’t imagine what the people have been doing to survive in the zone between 20km and 30 km who were told to stay in their homes for the last nine or ten days with the windows and doors closed, air off – probably without electricity and now, no tap water either. It is cold there and at night, very cold – over these last ten days.
And, contamination of the water supply has been found as far away as Tokyo. The drift that can happen with this radioactive “stuff” is obscene and should’ve never happened. At the very least, the plant operators and decision-makers should have treated the situation and its gravity with the seriousness due to its lethal nature.
Reuters Reuters Top News
FLASH: Japan agency says radiation level at Fukushima plant had been 435 microsieverts 2 hours before smoke seen
1 minute ago
(4.32 am EDT)
High levels of radiation have been found in tap water in Tokyo according to the CNN reporter quoting the Japanese officials just now.
The situation is unmanageable now. It is too much release and too late to stop the damage it has already done. I hate that. I really, really, really hate that. It shouldn’t have happened.
NatureNews Nature News&Comment
Picture post: workers toil inside Fukushima’s control room http://goo.gl/fb/fmhEd
Tsunami wave that hit a coastal city in Iwate Prefecture was 23.6 meters (77 feet, 5 inches) in height. http://n.pr/fF3rD6
Spent Fuel Rods stored in pools at nuclear reactors Fukushima
from Union of Concerned Scientists – Fukushima Daiichi plant
physorg_com PhysOrg Science News
Researchers create self-strengthening nanocomposite http://tw.physorg.com/220107667
BreakingNews Breaking News
Neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, has been observed 13 times at Fukushima plant since tsunami – Kyodo http://bit.ly/gI0r2I
The failure of backup generators used to pump cooling water helped cause explosions in at least three of the buildings surrounding Fukushima’s six reactors.
My Note –
Gee, clean out my oven or national security? Hmmm………
Yes, electricity across the world.
Yes, electricity for the US and cheaper, more reliable, safer.
If I had a choice in it – what do I want the nuclear plants to do?
1. Run a schematic systems analysis on these plants. Then fix what is not set up well. (if that is the locations of the backup generators, then move them to higher ground. if there is a fault line under the plant, then consider the real possibility that there may an earthquake there which could put cracks in the building or affect its instruments, its electricity requirements, its integrity.)
2. I want the worst case scenarios on the list of everything that can go wrong – going wrong at the same time. I want that included on the list of possibilities – and for that to have plans to accommodate it.
3. No more cost to benefit type of planning – real plans instead. If there will need to be a fifty mile radius of evacuations in the event of many things going wrong at once and it to be done quickly – then how will that be accomplished? I don’t want to hear after the fact that my daughter and grandbaby were called “acceptable collateral losses” in their estimation of what was worth doing or not doing. That’s true for every living person, in fact – including right now the people of Japan who may be in harm’s way.
Here are some things I’ve noted about nuclear power generally –
- It is used to boil water.
- It serves the mining industries.
- It has industries that have built up around nuclear power, specific to it.
- It costs $10 billion dollars or more to build each plant? or per reactor?
- It serves the financial industry that helps set up the financing for it and sets up the sales and trades of bonds to finance it, etc.
- It makes $2 million dollars in profits per day (per nuclear facility or per reactor – according to a man on Charlie Rose yesterday that was pro-nuclear power) – and not one dime of those profits return to the taxpayers / states / government who funded its initial requirements for capital building / startup.
- It gets the lion’s share of grants to operate.
Some of my questions –
Why can’t we do something to fix these plants?
Because now they are a business not owned by us? Is that it? And the “owners” of the plants who are now corporations don’t consider it economically viable to do a better job with it? But they make $2 million in profits a day, and we paid for the plants to be built . . .
Why did officials speaking to an educated Japanese and International audience earlier today (Japan time – middle of early a.m. – our time) – say that to potentially drill into the outer containment vessel on a reactor (No. 3, I think it was) – say it would release “air” possibly – and used the term “air” several times? (carried in part on NHK World news english).
Why would they have built these nuclear plants in the US (any of them), on faults? Was it not known at the time?
How did the designers make these safe for earthquakes? Are they like the buildings’ codes in Japan or did they make the concrete thicker – or what?
Why don’t they have pictures / video from inside the reactors at Fukushima?
I found and posted just before this post about things that were not checked for many years at the Daiichi plant complex and its reactors. If there were over 300 “engineers” at the plant as the Japanese news media has quoted and TEPCO insists – then what kind of “engineers” are they, if the degree of damage from not checking things as required isn’t known by them?
How many times are the industry’s own attitudes about not wanting to be bothered by all this required “safety stuff” getting in the way of safety and safe operations?
I have heard and read all over the news around the world and throughout many news sources in small town papers – in large broadcast programs on cable and in op-ed pieces everywhere from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to the Scottish Herald and Hawaii News and Malaysian News – these same ideas promoting the safety and shining record of the nuclear power industry, the shaming of other industries competing with them (all of which is true by the way – the whole damn bunch of them have things that need fixing), and how if anyone says to fix some things in it – they are anti-nuclear tree hugger liberals, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum . . .
That is quite a sentence to say this –
1. It is not acceptable to consider human lives as potentially “acceptable collateral losses.”
2. It is not acceptable to look at the cost-to-benefit ratio as a way of making choices about what is “safe enough” or not.
3. It is not acceptable to send long-term damaging effects from any kind of plant into the environment surrounding it that will impact the health and well-being of the populations living today and those living tomorrow.
4. It is not acceptable to say we can’t do a better job of it nor to say that to demand some things be fixed is to say everything is wrong with it so therefore it is to say “scrap it all”. No, just fix it.
5. It is not acceptable for “safety” and “safe operations” to be a “bother” to the industries whose unsafe practices can impact large populations and at some point impact populations around the entire world.
6. It is not economically feasible to continue to get this wrong. The damages in Japan right now from the nuclear operator TEPCO getting it wrong are not only physical damages to the people of Japan and the rest of the world that can result – but financial damages to the entire world as well. The multitude of businesses that had to shut their plants during rolling blackouts, the tainted products of food for export that have been found, the tainted food supplies locally – the possibilities that the cloud of radioactive remnants will float over China and Russia – which will have some negative impacts whatever they are. It is an economic, financial, physical and long-term health nightmare, all at the same time – simply because of a lack of respect for the magnitude of danger inherent in this particular industry and its safe operations.
7. It will never be acceptable to downplay the risks involved by excusing those risks based on the drawbacks inherent in some other industry providing electricity or whatever competitive alternative. That all of them need cleaning up doesn’t excuse the magnitude of stupidity and foul choices made by any category or individual of the group.
A power board distributing electricity to a reactor’s temperature control valves was not examined for 11 years, and inspectors faked records, pretending to make thorough inspections when in fact they were only cursory, TEPCO said.
It also said that inspections, which are voluntary, did not cover other devices related to cooling systems including water pump motors and diesel generators.
Okay – so the plant inspections are voluntary? In how many places around the world is that true? How about across the states in the US where nuclear plants are built or being built right now?
Is that voluntary too?
And, if they feel like doing it they can – and if not – well, too bad . . .
I don’t get to do that if I’m playing with nuclear materials at my house . . .
Or if I create any business that uses nuclear materials in some way . . .
Or studies them . . .
Or thinks about studying them . . .
Who are these people?
I do want to note right here – that all this is being done to heat water – to boil water and make steam.
Japan, for instance – sits on volcanoes in a very active area of the world. Why would $10 billion dollars per plant be needed to create steam on a volcanic island? They already have heat in excess of 10,000 degrees sitting in the ground below them – as we all do in many places. If the only point is to produce boiling water for driving the same old kind of turbines that have been in use for over a hundred years – then what is the point of using nuclear materials at all? Why not just run a pipe with water through the side of a volcanic cauldron – or near it – or above it – or around it – or below it – these materials are supposed to withstand earthquakes and extreme heat anyway – why not just do that and they can run the steam through the same turbine systems which are already sitting there around the country?
And, the Charlie Rose segment with the three guys discussing nuclear power on bloomberg this weekend was very informative, very interesting and very annoying all at the same time. I want to say here that the problems with the nuclear industry start with the same attitudes of the nuclear industry which the oil industry has, the natural gas hydrofracking industry has, the mining industry has and the pro-whatever supporters have. Those attitudes are doing almost as much damage as the industries’ shaky consistency about safety and safe operations. Otherwise intelligent and educated adults are so baffled by the bullshit of specialists talking over their heads about it that they never stop to ask the right questions or to use their own minds to analyze how the situation is set up or might be indicating needed changes.
And, to be honest – the old “all or nothing” thinking just doesn’t work for any of us anymore – whether it is “all-in pro whatever” or “all-in anti whatever.” They are both wrong for the same reasons. Neither one can see the answers to the simple questions like, “what have we learned from this industry that can be taken into a hybrid of the best parts for doing it in a better way,” and “what can we change to make it significantly safer, better and more dependable over the long-term and short-term?”
I’ve heard contempt for everyone that is trying to learn more about nuclear power under these circumstances and get up to speed about it. Well, contempt right back at them – because it is high time more people do understand how these things work. There is never another day that I want to turn to an adult near me where I live and say, “did you know there are nuclear plants in Georgia?” – and them not know that.
One other thing – there is a long list of accidents that have caused meltdowns and taken lives in the nuclear industry – the people who are pro-nuclear power want to say on tv, in news articles and even during the roundtable on Charlie Rose this weekend, that the nuclear power industry has had no deaths attributed to it. That is just not true.
There are pages and pages of incidents which have taken human lives, which have left families without their loved ones, which have yielded horrors in people’s lives and that have left suffering in their wake. There is no doubt in any way, shape or form – that nuclear power, nuclear radioactive components, nuclear systems, nuclear materials and nuclear power reactor processes deserve the respect and fear for their degree and magnitude of danger. The environmental consequences are extreme – the dangers to those nations nearby are extreme – the dangers to the long-term survival of our species are extreme – and the dangers and suffering to individual families, communities and lives are extreme – and long-term.
Nuclear power deserves its “bum rap” as a Georgia professor said it doesn’t deserve when he had his moment to say it on CNN last week. (and as many news articles and op-ed pieces are continuing to say it doesn’t deserve.) Yes, nuclear power deserves to be treated with consummate respect for the magnitude of danger it is and treated with an educated, healthy fear of what that can be at any moment if it isn’t done correctly, analyzed accurately, and its dangers accommodated properly.
I listed the Santa Susanna accident which happened in Los Angeles when I lived there and before – it was a sodium reactor complex. They went to burn off the radioactive dirt, leftover components, junk sitting around the old plant where the meltdown occurred – and did it in open pit burning – as in, to make a dip in the ground, stick everything in a pile and set it on fire with some accelerant. The people sent to do it, didn’t have a science background obviously nor did they understand the basics of meteorology – as in, which way the wind blows. carries the smoke and chemicals and radioactivity from whatever is being burned to those areas where that wind goes. But, this is only one of many stupid choices involving nuclear / radioactive materials and not the “only one singular event that ever cause damage or loss of life.”
There were the military fires set for open pit burning of materials left on bases or from equipment which contained just about anything and everything specific to sophisticated military equipment. None of which was ever intended to be rendered into something else nor become airborne or water borne by being burned in a large open area exposing those within the wind’s reach to those chemicals, radioactive substance, rare chemical compounds, extreme metallurgic alloys, etc.
And, then – there is a list or two or three, if people really believe the only nuclear accidents have been Chernobyl and Three Mile Island . . .
Here is one where an industry’s accident left a wasteland – (not nuclear)
PROCEED WITH EXTREME CAUTION
Familiar with the “Silent Hill” video game? Consider visiting Centralia. After all, it’s pure desolation, the remnants of infrastructure in coal country: house-less driveways complete with mailboxes, lonely fire hydrants, and smoke swirling about graveyards.
Beer bottles and discarded condoms are proof folks still stop by, but it’s dangerous. Feel that warmth? That’s the town’s famous mine fire, practically the fires of Hell, that has been burning for years. (It’s supposed to stop burning in about 250 years.)
Pondering how easy I could’ve died here – it’s an easy feat to fall through the unstable earth or inhale toxic fumes – I’m lucky I didn’t, and I have no plans to return anytime soon.
My Note –
And, a little off the subject but important to note here nonetheless – is that where Japan in Tokyo, I think it was – had reclaimed land from the sea – liquefaction occurred during and after the earthquake. That will potentially happen also where the nuclear plant, hydro-electric plants have been located on “reclaimed” or built up land naturally part of waterways or river basins or the sea – and in San Francisco where part of the land was at one time, part of the ocean rather than ocean-reclaimed property – and in New York, where part of the Rivers were made into reclaimed land instead.
There are airports around the world on “built islands” and now other properties including residential ones, offices, neighborhoods – which had once been part of the sea or part of a river. Hydro-electric plants down river from dams and nuclear plants near the rivers which are sitting in flood plains in order to be close to the water – all have significant drawbacks in their design for events of natural disasters – including flooding, earthquakes, forest and wildfires nearby, tornadoes, extreme weather events including blizzards, Nor’easters and hurricanes, excessive rain, excessive wind damage, and excessive flooding disasters.
So, there isn’t really just one problem which needs to be fixed. There are some choices which have been made that need remedies concerning potential loss of life and impacts to human life in scope and nature. That includes, these “reclaimed” lands, the handling of nuclear wastes in extreme diverse accidents and natural disasters, the potential for catastrophic failures in any and all of these at the same time, as we’ve seen happen in Japan recently.
As I said, there are lists of nuclear accidents over the course of many years – from those at experimental facilities leading up to the designs that are in use or prior to them, including radioactive releases of different kinds, including loss of life or permanent suffering caused to people either inside of outside the facilities, releases into groundwater and streams and soil – (and into the air occasionally) – of radioactive by-products and wastewater. One such list can be found here –
- 1959, 1964, 1969 – Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Los Angeles, California. Partial meltdowns.
- September 1957 – Mayak nuclear waste storage tank explosion at Chelyabinsk. Two hundred plus fatalities, believed to be a conservative estimate; 270,000 people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels. Over thirty small communities had been removed from Soviet maps between 1958 and 1991. (INES level 6).
Another list –
Experimental breeder reactor EBR-1 experienced a core meltdown due to operator error.
26 July 1959
A clogged coolant channel resulted in a 30% reactor core meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (now known as the Boeing-Rocketdyne Nuclear Facility) in the Simi Hills area of Ventura County, California. Later discovery of the incident prompted a class-action suit by local residents, who successfully sued for $30 million over cancer and thyroid abnormalities contracted due to their proximity to the facility.
2 September 1944
Peter Bragg and Douglas Paul Meigs, two Manhattan Project chemists, were killed when their attempt to unclog a tube in a uranium enrichment device led to an explosion of radioactive uranium hexafluoride gas exploded at the Naval Research Laboratory in Philadelphia, PA. The explosion ruptured nearby steam pipes, leading to a gas and steam combination that bathed the men in a scalding, radioactive, acidic cloud of gas which killed them a short while later.
21 August 1945
2 July 1956
Nine persons were injured when two explosions destroyed a portion of Sylvania Electric Products’ Metallurgy Atomic Research Center in Bayside, Queens, New York.
A radiation release at the the Keleket company resulted in a five-month decontamination at a cost of $250,000. A capsule of radium salt (used for calibrating the radiation-measuring devices produced there) burst, contaminating the building for a full five months.
30 December 1958
A chemical operator was exposed to a lethal dose of radiation following an incident involving the mixing of plutonium solutions, dying 35 hours later of severe radiation exposure.
Whistleblowers at the Isomedix company in New Jersey reported that radioactive water was flushed down toilets and had contaminated pipes leading to sewers. The same year a worker received a dose of radiation considered lethal, but was saved by prompt hospital treatment.
International Nutronics in Dover, New Jersey, which used radiation baths to purify gems, chemicals, food, and medical supplies, experienced an accident that completely contaminated the plant, forcing its closure. A pump malfunctioned, siphoning water from the baths onto the floor; the water eventually was drained into the sewer system of the heavily populated town of Dover. The NRC wasn’t informed of the accident until ten months later — and then by a whistleblower, not the company. In 1986, the company and one of its top executives were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy and fraud. Radiation has been detected in the vicinity of the plant, but the NRC claims the levels “aren’t hazardous.”
The NRC revoked the license of a Radiation Technology, Inc. (RTI) plant in New Jersey for repeated worker safety violations. RTI was cited 32 times for various violations, including throwing radioactive garbage out with the regular trash. The most serious violation was bypassing a safety device to prevent people from entering the irradiation chamber during operation, resulting in a worker receiving a near-lethal dose of radiation.
about Nuclear Power Plants’ accidents –
3 January 1961
The world’s first nuclear-related fatalities occurred following a reactor explosion at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Three technicians, were killed, with radioactivity “largely confined” (words of John A. McCone, Director of the Atomic Energy Commission) to the reactor building. The men were killed as they moved fuel rods in a “routine” preparation for the reactor start-up. One technician was blown to the ceiling of the containment dome and impaled on a control rod. His body remained there until it was taken down six days later. The men were so heavily exposed to radiation that their hands had to be buried separately with other radioactive waste, and their bodies were interred in lead coffins. Another incident three weeks later (on 25 January) resulted in a release of radiation into the atmosphere.
24 July 1964
Robert Peabody, 37, died at the United Nuclear Corp. fuel facility in Charlestown, Rhode Island, when liquid uranium he was pouring went critical, starting a reaction that exposed him to a lethal dose of radiation.
19 November 1971
The water storage space at the Northern States Power Company’s reactor in Monticello, Minnesota filled to capacity and spilled over, dumping about 50,000 gallons of radioactive waste water into the Mississippi River. Some was taken into the St. Paul water system.
Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska submitted to the Congressional Record facts surrounding a routine check in a nuclear power plant which indicated abnormal radioactivity in the building’s water system. Radioactivity was confirmed in the plant drinking fountain. Apparently there was an inappropriate cross-connection between a 3,000 gallon radioactive tank and the water system.
27 July 1972
Two workers at the Surry Unit 2 facility in Virginia were fatally scalded after a routine valve adjustment led to a steam release in a gap in a vent line. [See also 9 December 1986]
Another list –
The Clinch River Breeder Reactor (CRBRP) Project was a joint effort of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (and its successor agencies, the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy) and the U.S. electric power industry to design and construct a sodium-cooled fast-neutron nuclear reactor. The project was intended as a prototype and demonstration for building a class of such reactors, called Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactors (LMFBR), in the United States. The project was first authorized in 1970. After initial appropriations were provided in 1972, work continued until the U.S. Congress terminated funding on October 26, 1983.
The site for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor was a 1,364-acre (6 km2) land parcel owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) adjacent to the Clinch River in Roane County, Tennessee, inside the city limits of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but remote from the city’s residential population. 35°53′N 84°23′W / 35.89°N 84.38°W
One issue was continuing escalation in the cost of the project. In 1971 the Atomic Energy Commission estimated that the Clinch River project would cost about $400 million. Private industry promised to contribute the majority of the project cost ($257 million). By the following year, however, projected costs had jumped to nearly $700 million.
By 1981 $1 billion of public money had been spent on the project, and the estimated cost to completion had grown to $3.0-$3.2 billion, with another billion dollars needed for an associated spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility. A Congressional committee investigation released in 1981 found evidence of contracting abuse, including bribery and fraud, that added to project costs. Before it was finally canceled in 1983, the General Accounting Office of the Congress estimated the total project cost at $8 billion.
There are other lists – I will go get them from my documents – however, I want to repeat here a response I sent to an article published in the international news – that was pro-nuclear without any questions to be asked, no changes made, no reviews done, no considerations for design flaws to be fixed – I sent the author of the article and email of this a couple days ago –
Are you saying it is unreasonable and unsustainable to require nuclear power plants to place the backup generators away from possible flooding from natural disasters (including in Europe and across the US)? Can’t they just do something beside placing those generators in the basement?
And, it seems that you took all of that space and opportunity to speak for something without speaking to the actual problems that have been made obvious. There is an international watchdog organization that takes money to do a job which has been nearly completely ineffective to protect the public welfare – IAEA – partly because they wait for the member states to ask for help when there is an incident and only come into a situation when the member state allows it. That is a problem.
And, it seems that it is not unreasonable that simple design flaws be fixed – such as putting backup generators in the basement at a plant where the complex itself sits at sea level. There are a number of older plants which sit in flood plains in order to be close to rivers and water sources. Well, maybe they need to have another backup system installed which is above that and protected from flooding.
Maybe there needs to be a better understanding of what can be done for cooling with an additional backup system to bring water in during an emergency event with the nuclear plants – both older ones and newer ones.
That is not unreasonable.
What you said is unreasonable. It can’t be left without a real look at fixing some of these simple things – all of which are reasonable, can save lives, are safer, and can be done for very reasonable costs.
And, all the money available doesn’t need to be tied up in nuclear power. There are other options. There always have been other options. While all the money it ties up provides for more nuclear power plants, they don’t want anything else to get any funding at all and lobby against it. That has got to stop. There is evidence that nuclear power can be made safer. That needs to be done, as I suggested above. Secondly, there needs to be the development of other options – whether the electricity that can be generated by ocean currents, geothermal sources or whatever else with a fair balance of funding provided to develop those sources.
I wish I had never seen your article. It is just wrong.
Why can’t we just for once – face the problems that exist in the nuclear industry – make them fix it and move forward together instead of pretending that somehow they’ve done everything right and anyone saying otherwise is just “anti-nuclear” or whatever. How hard was it for them to know that putting backup generators in the basement was plainly wrong?
Why didn’t any of a number of “experts” make them simply put those generators in the hill behind the Fukushima plant? Was that so unreasonable?
(from my email to them – but maybe the author of the article received, maybe not – it still needs to be said to the nuclear power industry and regulators and IAEA and international parties concerned with this – and the pro-nuclear people and the anti-nuclear people and everybody else . . . )
That last part in parens written just now as I thought about it. The other list of nuclear accidents can be found here –
Bob’s list of nuclear radioactive / radioactivity accidents –
Database of radiological incidents and related events–Johnston’s Archive
Radiation accidents and other events causing radiation casualties–tabulated data
compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 22 May 2010
This is a listing (incomplete) of radiation accidents and other events (e.g. intentional acts) that resulted in acute radiation exposures to humans sufficient to cause casualties. For sources and for details on specific events see individual pages at Database of Radiological Incidents and Related Events or follow links in table. (affectionately called, Bob’s List).
|17 Jun 1997||Arzamas-16, Sarov, Russia||criticality accident with uranium assembly||AC||4,850||1||0||* U|
And that is an amazing set of lists of criticality accidents, radioactive releases, meltdowns and other radiologic releases and events – but not a complete list – some things are still not available to the public from governments, documents and files around the world about such things for one thing, and for another, there have been multiple times when one event spurred other events and only part of that is known . . .
It ends up with the documents and facts about it appearing somewhere else. And, then there is the shell game of secret documents as played by the Bush administration and other administrations around the world in which the same documents and files get renamed and shuffled into different or renamed programs to make them classified again at the point of or just before they would be required to become public . . .
Well, that and the fact that some of them can only be acquired by the public through Freedom of Information suit filings and not by automatic public dissemination of the information contained within them, even after the point of date in which it is supposed to become accessible to the public.
The IAEA also has a database of criticality incidents, deaths, harm done to individuals employed by nuclear facilities and to the public nearby, accidents, meltdowns of a critical or subcritical nature, disasters that are now buried literally under the ground somewhere as a last resort when it happened, and numerous other information that is valuable about accidents during transport of fission materials, mis-handling of nuclear fissionable materials, smuggling of nuclear materials, smuggling of equipment for rendering nuclear materials, creation of experimental reactors and labs which handle the materials along with some of the accidents which were finally reported surrounding the handling of those materials in those environments.
I could look it up – you could look it up – anybody could look it up, but it would have to be important to bring some of these lessons from the events mentioned above into the mix of discussions occurring now – or it would not make any difference at all.
So, some of the things to round this out – which I’ve thought about today are –
1. How did the nuclear operators do that to get the plant facilities built for them using our tax resources, the transmission lines fixed for them by our tax money, their equipment researched and manufactures and installed for them using our money and then get to make the thing into a profit-making enterprise for themselves without returning any of the grant money, facilities money, taxpayer money, state money, federal money, local money and other costs that we covered as taxpayers or are still covering – back to us when $2 million dollars a day in profits are being made now.
We all have higher electric bills we pay? We still cover their costs in our taxes that are paid out – to supposedly help them do this part or that part. We pay for them to be regulated, inspected, registered, compliant with safety regulations for the common good, re-equipped when needed, and covered the costs for facilities that had to be shut down after being built – along with the remediation of the environment that was required. So, I don’t get it – how is it that these operators and their “share-holders” got control of these plants and why do they get to leave out the public which supported it financially all along and still is financially supporting it to this day?
2. Why didn’t they build these reactors in the ground rather than above ground? Why are the boiling parts of them above ground? Why would the backup generators be below ground where flooding could affect them? Why would the nuclear regulators allow the plant designs to have been made that way? And, why do they not have software that can analyze various event horizons including the ones listed here which have happened, the flooding that might happen, and the tsunami/earthquake that did happen?
There is a nifty software that is being offered to analyze noise pollution which I’ll have to get from my email. I went to look at it and thought what a shame that it isn’t being used for this “nuclear stuff” to be analyzed. It could be – it is called, “Sound Plan” and is intended for use by city planners and local officials when determining where to put airports and other noisy industrial facilities. It could be used to analyze the lay of the land surrounding nuclear plants. It is dimensional – it can accommodate real time affects against a given scenario which can be input. I don’t own it – I just saw it a few weeks ago and it is brilliant. But, why doesn’t the nuclear industry and the nuclear analysts / plant designers and engineers have access to that or something very similar?
That is the part I just don’t understand. Why is it that I can go online and see photos and videos of nearly every plant design, every containment vessel, every core fuel rod assembly being loaded, refueled or repaired – but the nuclear plant operators in their control rooms can’t at Fukushima? Why is that – how is that even possible?
Which leads to my third question –
3. What does it take to convince the nuclear industry to put everything available in the twenty-first century right now to work for them even on plants built in the last century? That includes robotics, robotic fire extinguishing rigs like those used in other manufacturing and the oil industry, extreme conditions sensors and cameras, extreme conditions new materials science, extreme conditions backup systems for battery power and for secondary backup cooling systems to operate when the primary ones fail, etc. – and how is it that only sixteen hours worth of batteries were on site anyway. Sixteen hours or even twenty-four hours may commonly be less than what is needed for a criticality event, or a natural disaster. Why is that? How much could they possibly cost that there would not have been a better supply nearby or at the plant facility?
That definitely needs to be fixed.
And, since it is known that boron in various combinations and compounds is known to slow or even stop the neutron activity in the reactor – SCRAM notwithstanding – why aren’t there supplies of that in particular required to be kept near enough to a nuclear facility to be massively used in the event that it is required? Or whatever else will work without having to truck it in, fly it in or find it from somewhere during a time that everything is going wrong at once with possibly, as has been the case in Japan at Fukushima Daiichi, with the roads, railways and surrounding landscape devastated and impassable?
For a list of lists on wikipedia about nuclear accidents – check civilian nuclear accidents, civilian nuclear incidents – and this page – (also the discussions pages behind the entries found on the tab above, know that the nuclear industry and their lobbyists are trying to influence what can be found or not about these particular subjects that reflect negatively on them.) –
Note – that some lists are made of nuclear accidents which concern commercial applications of nuclear materials, some have military uses of nuclear materials or experimental research accidents – and some have the civilian nuclear accidents and incidents (such as the civilian nuclear power plants that make up the greatest number of nuclear power reactors now around the world for scope, scale, proximity to human life, and to amount and degree of nuclear materials on site – compared with research facilities which are more numerous but have lower supplies of actual materials kept on site or within the confines of their labs) –
However, some other massive errors are made at those numerous and scattered research and university facilities by the cavalier handling of the materials and waste products because the facility designers of the school around it can accommodate those materials without the added care of engineering specialists, such as putting a cask for radioactive materials on the floor of the lab above the school cafeteria that exists on the floor below it, etc.)
Somebody really needs to check on some of those kinds of things – both in the chemistry labs and the radioactive materials handling along with the waste products of both at universities, research facilities and medical facilities that use them.
At least they are doing something about the Fukushima Daiichi plant right now – what is it going to take to fix these other things at the nuclear power plants and facilities which use radioactive materials around the world and throughout populated areas of the United States? Surely we don’t have to wait for a disaster in order to do something now . . .
Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents
These are lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents.
- List of articles about Three Mile Island
- List of articles about the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents
- List of Chernobyl-related articles
- List of civilian nuclear accidents
- List of civilian nuclear incidents
- List of civilian radiation accidents
- List of crimes involving radioactive substances
- List of military nuclear accidents
- List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll
- List of nuclear tests
- List of sunken nuclear submarines
- List of books about nuclear issues
- List of films about nuclear issues
- List of inquiries into uranium mining in Australia
- List of nuclear whistleblowers
- List of states with nuclear weapons
- Nuclear and radiation accidents
- Nuclear and radiation accidents by country
- Nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll
- Nuclear power accidents by country
- United States military nuclear incident terminology
- International Nuclear Event Scale