1. Rod – not related specifically to this post, but I thought I’d give you a heads-up. If you haven’t seen it yet, you soon will: MSNBC (and probably others) are running a story of a state of emergency at a Japanese Nuclear Plant in the wake of an Earthquake and Tsunami.
    It’s not clear from the article that any radioactivity has been released, or that this is a major problem in terms of a large safety crisis, but be prepared for all the anti-nukes to latch on to this and milk every bit of panic they can out of the situation. Might want to start finding out the facts of the situation, such as are available, and be prepared to answer the panic with reality.

      1. I’ve been thinking about this, and if the nuclear reactors come through this without any big problems (there will, of course, be ‘problems’ of the sort to be expected due to an event like this, but not necessarily ‘big problems’ beyond what the design can handle), this can server as a real example of the safety of nuclear reactors – this is pretty much a record earthquake, nearly a worst-case scenario, and if japan’s nuclear reactors come though this relatively ‘ok’, to me that’s a resounding endorsement for the safety of nuclear power.

        1. @Jeff. Exactly the same could be (and has been) said about Three Mile Island; A worst case situation resulted in damage to the reactor but no deaths, no injuries, and no damage to the environment. This incident will incorrectly be used the same way TMI was.

    1. I thought that was a GE BWR? What “special coolant” do they need the US Air Force to haul in? Our emergency plan allows the use of city water and even fire water if need be.

  2. When the Earth moves without warning….or did it warn us? Along the west coast continental plate margin is a warm pool at depth which is the remnant of the last time the upper Earth mantle shifted. The Earth has flattened in times past in response to water melt and migration to the equatorial belt. Well, once again the Earth is moving in strange ways in Iceland and Japan and soon the west coast of the US. Modular nuclear whether fission or fusion that is portable will soon become important in preserving life in remote places. Dealing with volcanic ash and lava flows and earthquakes is one thing but the Ice Sheets are, over extended time periods, a killer. Cuddle up to a warm reactor? Any port in a storm eh? Well, it may come to that and I for one prefer a sexy little warm machine that I have talked to Rod about for a couple of months.

  3. Rod – thanks for the Mechanics Illustrated story. That one was published before I was born, but it takes me back to growing up with MI and Popular Science.
    On the Japanese tsunami story – where’s the news on possible hydro issues, dam failures, fossil fuel power plant shutdowns, or fossil fuel pipeline and distribution issues, if any? It’s the ‘nuclear exceptionalism’ principle all over again. ‘Nuclear’ in a headline grabs attention; it sells viewer eyeballs in print, on television, and on the web.
    I haven’t searched for news of any other energy related problems, but I’m sure there are some.

      1. Wow! That didn’t take Mr. Wasserman very long now did it? No words of encouragement for the operators in Japan, no sympathies for the victims…no, he went right for that attack. Then he breaks out a link to an overlay of Chernobyl fallout on the US (I assume that’s what it was, I didn’t waste my time looking) and as usual makes no statement about how US plants are fundamentally different than Chernobyl. Before I had no respect for him as a writer, now I have no respect for him as a human being.

        1. “Before I had no respect for him as a writer, now I have no respect for him as a human being.”
          A lifetime of heavy drug use will do that to you. Wasserman is the Charlie Sheen of energy policy.

    1. The problem with today’s nuclear power plants is that they have been retrofitted with so many safety devices/features that, although safe in the micro sense, they are no longer safe in the macro sense. The slightest quiver of the earth sends a signal to shut to down the reactor. That reactor trip overloads the grid and those plants that made it through the quiver trip off line from overload – and the whole grid goes black. Then there is no power to perform an orderly cool down. I know of no comprehensive analysis or study that looks at the total effect of the various safety features on the typical NPP. The prevailing philosophy is “If it is shut down – it is safer!” New “safety” features are added simply because the NRC require them and no analysis is performed to determine the total impact.
      How would you like a feature that shutdown the engine in your car, automatically – without warning (until it happened) while you were driving 70 MPH on Interstate 77 in West Virginia? That is the situation in many NPPs. An airplane with 1/10th the “safety features” required for a NPP could not get off of the ground! The probability that you or your children will suffer any form of harm from an airplane is many orders of magnitude greater than that of a NPP, even if you live next door.

  4. To dispell doubt about the morphology of a flatter Earth refer to data sets from the GRACE satellite. Next look up hot spots in the upper mantel. It is not hard to see that the techtonic margins and subduction zones account for a rather static Earth morphology. Add a changing shape due to ice melt and mass distributions complicated by a center of mass for the Earth/Moon system bashing the upper viscous mantle around and then keep the results to your self. If you don’t some REMAX agent may terminate your blog input. That having been said, modular reactors or other yet to be realized fusion steam machines seems to be a good thing to consider as mother nature tries to do retroactive abortion on us.

    1. “a good thing to consider as mother nature tries to do retroactive abortion on us.”
      Forget to take your meds today, Michael?

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