Carnival of nuclear energy bloggers #303

It’s time for another weekly roundup of the best of the pronuclear blogs.

Last week included the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 twin natural disaster that included a 9.0 earthquake and a 15 meter tall tsunami. Those two closely linked forces of nature resulted in widespread infrastructure devastation over a 150 km long swath of the northeast Japanese coast. As of February 10, 2016, authorities in Japan have identified 15,894 bodies while 2,562 people remain unaccounted for.

Of those victims, not a single one came as a result of the small amount of radioactive contamination spread over a relatively narrow wedge of territory inland from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. That station, located on the devastated coast, survived the earthquake and mostly survived the tsunami.

Three of the six nuclear power units on the site, however, were operating at full power before being shut down at the time of the earthquake. They slowly succumbed to the effects of internally generated heat after the earthquake and tsunami knocked out the electrical power needed for their primary and secondary means of cooling and because the operators at the station had been trained to wait for permission before releasing high pressure steam and gases inhibiting the use of a tertiary means of providing some cooling.

The fuel cores of three large nuclear reactors ended up melting to a still unknown extent, three hydrogen explosions severely damaged significant parts of the reactor buildings, and the power plant site is undergoing what will be a multi-decade long clean-up. Outside of the plant boundaries, the maximum first year radiation dose avoided by any member of the evacuated public was on the order of 20-50 mSv, about half as much as has ever been proven to cause a slight increase in the lifetime risk of contracting cancer.

Because the world’s attention was rapidly realigned from focusing on the victims of the natural disaster to fretting about the far less consequential events at the power station, far too many people around the world remember 3-11-2011 with the single word of Fukushima. It is unfortunate in the extreme that the Fukushima Frenzy overshadowed the real catastrophe and caused an enormous misalignment of resources.

Many of the entries in this week’s 303rd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers look back on the frenzy and the events of the five subsequent years to elucidate available lessons that can and should be learned.

ANS Nuclear Cafe

Japan Moving Forward – Needs Nuclear

Margaret Harding writes about the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on Japan, and explains why the island nation needs nuclear energy if it is to ever regain its place as the leading industrial manufacturer and exporter that it once was.

Atomic Power Review

Five Years from Fukushima – Where Are We Now?

In this post, Will Davis takes a look back at what has transpired since the Great Eastern Japan (Tohoku) Earthquake in 2011, compares what’s going on now to what we might have expected, parallels earlier accident events and looks toward the future.

Hiroshima Syndrome

Fukushima Commentary 3/11/16 – Fukushima at Five Years: Rampant Radiophobia Ham-strings Japan’s Recovery

Rampant radiophobia infects millions of Japanese citizens, and it is allowed to fester virtually unabated. Its impact has reached the point of national catastrophe… not one caused by Mother Nature. But rather, a calamity fostered from fear itself.

Forbes – James Conca

After Five Years, What Is The Cost Of Fukushima?

The direct costs of the Fukushima disaster will be about $15 billion in clean-up over the next 20 years and over $60 billion in refugee compensation. Replacing Japan’s 300 billion kWhs from nuclear each year with fossil fuels has cost Japan over $200 billion, mostly from fuel costs for natural gas, fuel oil and coal. This cost will at least double, and that only if the nuclear fleet is mostly restarted by 2020. Since 2011, Japan’s trade deficit has become the worst in its history, and Japan is now the second largest net importer of fossil fuel in the world, right behind China. Strangely, the costs that never materialized were the most feared, those of radiation-induced cancer and death.

Atomic Insights

Why haven’t world leaders learned the most useful lessons from Fukushima?

Of all of the costs identified by Jim Conca in his excellent summary of the costs of Fukushima after five years, more than 2/3’s could have been avoided by a more risk informed response to the event from a public health point of view. Moving people from their homes and shutting down unaffected nuclear plants for extended periods of time have imposed enormous, virtually unrecoverable costs on the people and the communities affected.

As a society, we must learn how to more effectively and efficiently deal with radiation as a hazard with known effects. That effort must include learning how to avoid overreacting.

Canadian Energy Issues

Accurate and inaccurate predictions, garbage dumping, and death threats: an easy lesson about nuclear power, still not learned after 1,827 days

Amongst the horrendous destruction in northeast Japan caused by an earthquake so strong it knocked our planet off its axis, was a predictably innocuous event that should have been recognized as a non-event. This was, of course, the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi generating plant. The earthquake raised a 10 meter tsunami which when it collided with the coastline, moving at about 100 kilometers an hour, killed nearly 20,000 of our fellow human beings and made half a million homeless. It also flooded and rendered useless the backup pumps that circulate cooling water through F-D’s reactors. This caused the meltdowns.

Having studied the outcomes of other nuclear meltdowns, notably the Chalk River incident (1952), and Three Mile Island (1979), Steve Aplin quickly realized that while the destruction of three nuclear reactors would be a major problem for the company that owned them and the millions of people who relied on their power, it was little more than a local issue. The real problem at the time, as he saw it from Ottawa Canada, 13,000 kilometers away, was helping the survivors of the tsunami.

Nuke Power Talk

NRC Principles of Good Regulation: Compliments and Critiques

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus reflects on a session at NRC’s Regulatory Information Conference (RIC) this past week (March 8-10) highlighting 25 years of the Principles of Good Regulation (PGR). The speakers at the session both complimented and criticized the PGR, sometimes for the same principles! What was clear from the session and from other discussion during the meeting is that the concept of the PGR has spread and continues to spread, both in the US and abroad.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Marcus is too modest. You have to read the full article before finding out that she played a major role in writing the internationally influential Principles of Good Regulation when she was serving on Commissioner Rogers’s staff.

Yes Vermont Yankee

The Oddness at the Heart of RTO (Regional Transmission Organizations)

Meredith Angwin summarizes some of the increasingly complicated rules that have been developed to ensure reliable electricity supplies in the differently regulated “markets” that no longer have integrated monopoly utility suppliers.

Open letter to advisory bodies about LNT consequences – revised

Last week I pointed out that Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI) had submitted a letter to a number of scientific advisory groups requesting that they provide clear guidance to governments on the lack of harm associated with exposure to the residual radioactive materials released from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. That initial post also provided […]

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From the HPS President – Health Physics News November 2014

This is a reprint of an article published in HP News, an official publication of the Health Physics Society ( Neither the Health Physics Society nor the author of the article have any affiliation with Atomic Insights. Barbara Hamrick, CHP, JD, HPS Fellow At 2:46 p.m. Japan Standard Time (JST) on 11 March 2011, the […]

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The Godzilla Movie and the Parallel with Fukushima

By Les Corrice I’ve seen every Godzilla movie ever made. I was an adolescent when the first one hit America, and I immediately fell in love with monster movies…a passion I have held to this day. Needless to say, when the latest Godzilla movie hit the big screen a few weeks ago, I was there. […]

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Stories from Tohoku – too often forgotten in Fukushima Frenzy

The above trailer for Stories from Tohoku is both heart-rending and heart-warming. It reminds us of the tragedy that struck the northeast Japanese coast on March 11, 2011 that has been too often overlooked in all of the discussion about the temporally-related, but far less devastating, events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Atomic […]

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Tracking down and squashing “5 lethal doses” myth

Several times during the past couple of days, I have encountered comments from a variety of people who have claimed that a document released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request proved that the accident at Fukushima resulted in 5 people receiving lethal radiation doses. That claim does not match the […]

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Video tour of Fukushima Daiichi as of September 2013

Though I would dearly love to have the opportunity to visit Fukushima Daiichi to obtain a first hand view of the efforts being undertaken to clean up after the effects of the tsunami and earthquake, this video is the next best thing to a personal site tour. It is less expensive and far more convenient […]

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Relaxed approach to protective action in case of radiological release

After deliberating for a period of time approaching a decade, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new draft Protective Action Manual that includes Protective Action Guides (PAG) for people responsible for responding to radioactive material releases that might come from one of the following sources: a fire in a major facility such […]

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Atomic Show #199 – Fukushima happened 2 years ago

Before March 11, 2011, “Fukushima” was the name of a relatively unknown prefecture in Japan. Now it is a shorthand reference to an event in which three large nuclear power plants melted and released a small quantity of long lived radioactive material that has not harmed any human being. Here is a brief synopsis of […]

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NRC Chairman writes about enhancing safety after a visit to Fukushima, Japan

On December 21, 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blog posted a letter from Chairman Macfarlane titled A Visit to Japan: Reflections from the Chairman. She has recently returned from a trip to Japan and a visit to the evacuated areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Here are her concluding thoughts: On […]

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Atomic Show #190 – Nuclear plant performance during Hurricane Sandy

There are 34 nuclear reactors located in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Of those, 7 were shutdown for planned maintenance. Three units tripped due to disturbances on the grid or issues with one of their redundant cooling systems. The other 24 remained operational and supplied as much power as the grid could accept. On Sunday, […]

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Nuclear plants performed well during Sandy – as expected by professionals

One of the best things about nuclear energy is that the fuel is cheap and densely concentrated. That characteristic enables facilities to be hardened against external events, and has the potential to reduce the vulnerability of nuclear energy facilities to infrastructure damage that happens outside of the facility. The low cost fuel also enables a […]

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