NNadir discusses competence of Japanese reactor builders
One of my favorite participants in the energy conversation is NNadir, who intermittently blogs at Daily Kos. (I have always wondered about the etymology of that handle – it turns out that it is derived from “Not Nader” as in not Ralph.) His most recent post, titled Were the Japanese Engineers Who Built Fukushima Incompetent? is a classic. It is full of his usual heavy dose of science, engineering and frontal attacks on critics. I highly recommend that you pay a visit, read the post and engage in the fray that is always a part of his comment threads.a
If you want to read NNadir’s post but do not want to be tempted to get involved in the sometimes “passionate” discussion thread at Daily Kos, you can visit Charles Barton’s version on Nuclear Green.
Steve Aplin, who blogs at Canadian Energy Issues, has taken note of the fact that another Hiroshima anniversary will be upon us in a little over a week. Like others who strongly favor the use of nuclear energy as a replacement for fossil fuel combustion, Steve is pretty sure that the antinuclear opposition is spooling up to try to link Hiroshima with Fukushima. As he notes, however, it has been 137 days since Fukushima meltdown, and there are still zero casualties from radiation exposure.
There is little relationship between a bomb dropped during a war that ended more than 65 years ago and a casualty that happened at a power station rattled by a very large earthquake, struck by a 14-meter tsunami and hit a complete power outage that lasted for several days. However, that will not stop the people who are professionally engaged in actions to halt nuclear energy development from trying to tie the two together in the public consciousness.
In my opinion, there is some benefit to allowing antinuclear activists to make a link between the long term effects of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and the accident at Fukushima that has not killed anyone. After all, despite all of the dire warnings about the long term effects of the radioactive material that was purposely spread around Hiroshima, the city is a thriving metropolis. It recovered from the bomb’s catastrophic effects many decades ago. Hiroshima is certainly not a wasteland that needed long term evacuation of its citizens.
Interestingly enough, Steve’s post was picked up by “Crisis Jones”, a guy who claims to serve “the most educated audience on the web.” “Crisis” declared Steve’s post to be more nuclear industry propaganda. Within two comments on the thread in response to the post introduced the idea that the main victims of the Fukushima Daiichi events were the children whose thyroids were determined to have detectable levels of radioactive iodine. “Crisis” is striving to spread and sustain fear among his readers by reminding them that the Fukushima reactors are still releasing “one billion becquerels” of cesium every day. I had to point out that, if true, the scary sounding amount is just 0.3 milligrams of material. You can find the math in the comment thread on Crisis’s site – if it makes it through his moderation queue.
Jack Gamble, who blogs at Nuclear Fissionary, has also taken note of the coming Hiroshima anniversary and guesses that Antinuclear Activists Will Try to Equate Hiroshima with Fukushima. Interestingly enough, it looks like Jack has also found Crisis Jones and has engaged in the discussion to help his readers see a different point of view. Some bloggers are reluctant to link to sites like Crisis Jones for fear of helping them to gain greater Google Juice with more incoming links, but as far as I am concerned, increasing their visibility is good for our side.
It is easier to allow them to expose their own prejudices and ignorance than to have to work hard at digging out their life stories. Speaking of which, one of Arnie Gundersen’s fans has been making long winded comments in his defense on my post titled Arnie Gundersen Going International. You might want to check out some of the comments I have allowed him to publish – I find them quite amusing, but then I have a strange sense of humor.
Have an atomic day!
PS – Soon, I am going to start asking you to support a really cool project. Here is an appetizer.
The biggest danger from nuclear power is the profoundly poor risk-management decisions made as a result of government protection and cronyism.
Hundreds of billions are being wasted. With free markets, we’d have lower power bills, greater choice and certainly safer nuclear technology with plants built with much lower risk exposure.
But none of the plants built more recently were damaged. If there is “incredibly poor risk management” why were only the oldest plants affected?
Would you include an exaggeration of the dangers posed by the radiation around the Fukushima plants a part of that “incredibly poor risk management?”
David, because of government’s role in subsidizing and then regulating nuclear power, there is massive waste, cost over-runs and poor decisions.
We need to free our power markets, and force utilities, investors and lenders to bear their own risks, including risks of accidents.
See my comments here:
Well, I glanced at the article by Jerry Taylor and I must say that I disagree. His statements about Nuclear not making financial sense, makes no sense at all. I have studied the electric markets, with the view toward building a power plant. Nuclear makes great sense and the operating costs are lower than any other production except Hydro.
The need for loan guarantees would fade away quickly if the regulations were changed to allow a company the ability to actually build and operate what they paid for without the threat of being shut down after completing the plant.
I am not against regulation. I believe that good regulation sets guidelines rather than picking wining technologies.
Look at the Duke Plant being built in Southern Indiana. They are close to 3 billion now for a 650MW plant. They don’t have any of the “clean coal” equipment installed they are just “ready” for it. The cost of fuel for one of those plants is about 40 dollars a ton right now, but I was talking with one of the coal miners in Indiana who told me that when the economy turns around….. The price of coal could hit 90 dollars a ton. You see, these miners are selling their coal to overseas contracts to stay in business while the demand for coal has bottomed out here from low electric demand over the past 2 years.
The other game changing aspect here are the Small Medium reactors. They are much easier to finance and will not need the huge loan guarantees from the Federal Government. What they do need from the Federal Government is a seat at the table.
So, I politely disagree with your view.
One more about Accidents. I would gladly bear the risk of accidents, if the harm of those accidents were measured in the same way that they are for Natural Gas. That is, Let Nuclear kill about 40 to 100 people a year from explosions and pay the direct costs associated with the deaths. Instead, Nuclear is held accountable for the “possibility” that someone might get sick in the future and so vast swaths of land are evacuated. So, sure, if we get to play by the same rules as the other boys, I am glad to play.
I like the “Have an atomic day!” tagline. I think you should go with that at the end of all your posts. It could be your version of “You stay classy San Diego”.
I wonder if the “Nuclear Literacy Project” would be eligible for listing in the book of charities people can contribute to through Combined Federal Campaign? A NLP poster with a CFC number at the bottom would look good on our ANS bulletin board.
Now to my little nitpick with using Hiroshima:
Little Boy was detonated at about 1,700 feet in order to maximize blast effects, but it also kept the X-ray fireball from intersecting the ground. The result was that almost all of the residual radioactivity on the ground in the city was due to neutron activation of the ground and buildings and some minimal fallout from rain scavenged bomb debris. On the other hand, there are sites in Nevada where the fallout debris of low yield (less than 10kt) detonations can still be mapped from the air using the DOE’s Aerial Measurement System.
The Bikini Atolls and Xmas Island areas (not to mention French and Brit test sites) endured multiple direct on-ground, in-ground (cavern) and underwater A and H bomb detenations, max fallout, yet very normal sea life flourishes there today to the delight of spot divers. You can even eat the coconuts there. I’m not sure but I believe native reidents have even returned to these sites and are having one-headed kids. You can tour Trinity site with permission and no time limit according to Bing. As far as I know, outside Russia, there’re no Planet Of The Apes style nuclear forbidden zones for humans anywhere else. Can we say the same of Love Canal?
The fallout from the Pacific tests was different than NTS shots both in composition and the fact that most of it landed in the water. The Crossroads shot Baker produced and incredible amount of fallout, but the longer lived fission products such as Cs-137 formed water soluble compounds that were easily carried away by ocean currents, which is why you won’t detect anything there anymore.
Trinity was a tower shot (albeit a short one) so instead of the explosion excavating a crater it formed a depression from the air-slap (yes that’s a real term) hitting the ground.
My point is there’s a big difference between rebuilding a city that had very little local fallout from the fission of 1/2 a kg of nuclear fuel and recovering from a nuclear emergency such as what has occurred in Japan.
I’ve had discussions with EPA officials on what type of measures would be taken following an RDD event. Take the dispersal of a blood irradiator containing many Ci of Cs-137. The cesium is in the form of a chloride so if it’s a wet day in the city, the CsCl will transport into concrete which would make cleanup very difficult. The risks would be low for people working near the plume, but how do you tell people it’s safe unless you go break off and removed any building sides or sidewalks that are contaminated?
Chris Jones is a hard-core conspiracy-theorist crackpot. He’s into theories about “Chemtrails,” and he probably thinks that the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami was deliberately caused by the HARRP research facility.
I considered posting comments on “Crisis Jones” in order to correct some of the FUD, but instead I thought I’d have little fun and add to the conspiracy theories. In my post all my facts are correct, just that my story that goes with the facts is way off (in lala land that is).
I came across this “Crisis Jones” fellow last week on HufPo, and from what I can tell, he doesn’t do very well when challenged (by your blog posts, in particular).
Thanks again for all your great posts Rod! I look forward hearing more about the Nuclear Literacy Project.
When dealing with cesium, always compare with natural potassium, 31 Bq/g.
One short ton, 2000 pounds, of potassium chloride fertilizer is 19 MBq. So 1 billion Bq is about two and an half truck-loads of potash fertilizer…
If the Japanese use fertilizer with a lot of potassium it will greatly reduce the uptake rate of cesium.
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