1. It never should’ve gotten this far. Anti-nuke kooks fresh from their SONGS parties will be showing up to take advantage of another — even if seemingly unrelated because the public sees it that way (the spillover effect) — grand opportunity to slam nuclear power. (Hey, with all things nuclear it’s the Sins of The Father…) WIPP could’ve nipped this in the bug with a full page “ad” in the next day local paper in the sterling example of “turnages,” invited town and state big-wigs and radio station in the facility for an educational Q&A tour, and did a prompt interview on local news TV/radio. To let a tardy response allow speculation to fester and turn into rancid doubt and distrust was amateurish and insane. A hasty public forum after doing zit to mitigate the incident early on only looks like you’re circling the wagons against a lie. They better hire turnages to turn up to balm the visiting savages. It’s really regrettable that nuclear power has to face such an uphill battle in educating public much less turning opinions around just because nuclear-related groups and organizations already in place with the bucks and manpower to won’t cough up the bucks to air a couple of educational nuclear ads at least once a blue moon. Who needs Doc Kaku for an enemy with “support” like that?? Aside, I might sound cold and harsh, but nuclear power is ultimately going to have to take the same political hardball route that the early airline industry took and brushed aside all unreasonable opposition to the fear and protests of planes haphazardly falling from the skies over towns and cites in order to have progress.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. “It’s really regrettable that nuclear power has to face such an uphill battle in educating public…..”

      Well, events such as Fukushima send a pretty powerful message, even if you consider that “message” incorrect. Perhaps if you didn’t have these easily sensationalized “events” occurring every decade or two, your slog uphill wouldn’t be such a steep climb.

      1. @POA

        It is sadly true that having sensationalized events every decade or two makes informing people about the relatively low hazard of nuclear energy difficult. While everyone who opposes nuclear can sing the verse of TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima, no one could hope to remember all of the more immediately consequential events occurring in the fossil fuel industry on a regular basis. (In 2010 in the US alone, the verse of news-making fatal accidents would include Middletown, Upper Big Branch, Macondo (Deepwater Horizon), and San Bruno.)

        It is also sadly true that there is no equivalent of a Life Span Study for victims of PM 2.5 micron particles that lodge in people’s lungs and remain their for years, causing who knows how much damage and risk of early death. There are some estimates, but they are often overlooked or dismissed when nuclear energy advocates try to help people understand that our technology avoids all air pollution, not just greenhouse gas emissions.

    2. The angry villagers with their torches and pitchforks can be quite dangerous. Thats why you wait until they are all in the building before releasing the giant spiders.

      Anyway James I was thinking the same thing but thought id let some A list people comment because I was being too negative. I guess you could turn it around but its a difficult situation to be in. Hopefully they are making it clear this is to address peoples fears with reason and science because they made the mistake of assuming since it was so minor and their testing so sensitive it wouldn’t be an issue. In fact id lay down the law and say this isnt a forum to argue about the facility or kooky low dose theories. (perhaps not in those words). Id also bring a lot more info into the picture. Say the discussion was being videoed and the better and more informative questions would be posted online, with photos of the testing process in the temporary news area are they were setting up.

      But whatever you do dont hand out free pizza coupons.

      If I could be there and their was a extremely low release, or even a significant one, I would ask what was the time-frame and process for getting the place up and running again in a reasonable amount of time. Its sounds moire like a colossal headache for them more than anything. If they also are running diesel trucks and equipment down there they probably have more significant long term pollution issues to worry about as well.

      1. I was one of the Carlsbad residents who attended the town hall meeting and it was anything but pitchforks and torches. This community was and still is very supportive of WIPP- but the mayor and other officials felt a meeting was appropriate. There had been a press conference, but city officials requested the meeting so that local individuals could ask their questions.

        There were only one or two hostile people at the meeting. Overwhelmingly, the questions were sincere and the tone was neutral.

        I came here to thank you (Rod) for combating ene news and some of the other horrible sites. There are a lot of predators out there right now trying to “helpfully” provide links to their doom and gloom sites, and I’m glad to see others countering them. I’m really fed up with them popping in to each discussion with their fake news site.

        I’d like to communicate with this site’s host more about the Carlsbad’s community response, if you don’t mind. I can be reached at news@carlsbadnuclearnexus.com.

        1. I’m curious if you are employed at the site. If not, or even if so, how far away do you live from the site?

          Also, do you feel the town hall meeting was successful in alleviating the fears of local residents?

          If so how? Was it the tone or the substance of the meeting that soothed the fears? Were the leak amounts and possible exposures explained in a manner that was understandable to the residents?

          1. I’m not employed at the site. Like everyone in Carlsbad I have family and friends employed at the site. I live in the middle of Carlsbad- so 26 miles. There are only a handful of ranches closer than 26 miles.

            The meeting was not a revival. People didn’t come in and magically leave diehard believers in all things WIPP. They did, in my opinion, leave happier that they were allowed to interact directly with administrators.

            Plus, I dislike summarizing the collective opinions of 300 people- a single sentence declaration of what residents felt before and after would seem like an oversimplification. I guess I would say it generally bolstered the support felt by those already generally supportive and was at least seen as better than nothing by those more upset.

            Russell Hardy (CEMRC)’s description of the monitoring and filtering process was helpful and the levels of detection were explained fairly well.

            I didn’t attend the press conferences, but based on what I’ve heard the WIPP managers were more relaxed in the public meeting than at the press conferences.

          2. Thanks for your response. I hope you’ll continue to participate here in regards to this. I’m interested in how the local media is responding, and whether or not, in your opinion the “event” is being sensationalized by the local media.

            Also, it may seem like a strange curiousity, but I wonder how it is being dealt with politically. Does there seem to be a partisan slant or spin being attached to the “event”.

          3. By political, do you mean local (mayor/state reps) or statewide?

            I think the very local media coverage (the Carlsbad Current-Argus) has not been that bad.

            I’ve seen, first hand, a little bit of slant from some regional media. For example, a woman in the audience who was a mother of four said something like “When I first heard about this, my reaction was to pray for all of you.”

            The state AP reporter changed the quote to “When I first heard about this, my reaction was to pray.”- significant difference that makes it sound like she was more afraid than she was. In another instance, a TV reporter from Albuquerque asked questions about the community’s desire to expand WIPP. The answers were qualified- “the first thing right now is to resolve this”- but all the qualifiers were edited to make the person interviewed sound more unreasonable.

            One thing from the political side I can say is that as a community I think we feel like the valedictorian that got its first D ever. WIPP has been the quiet success story for a long time, and it stinks no longer being the poster child.

            There has been a lot of objection to the more sensationalistic, completely non-factual blogs, like ene news, Turner Radio Network, etc. People are very upset by what is perceived as fear mongering. Carlsbad is also a conservative community, so there’s also a sense of it being the equivalent to liberal carpetbagging.

    3. It never should’ve gotten this far.

      @James Greenidge.

      Do they have a cause identified for the leak yet?

      An unidentified transient release (the cause of which is unknown) sounds like a concern to me (especially if you live in the area). Even if it’s just a contaminated barrel (and a release beyond a permitted level), they are obligated to do so. You don’t think people should be notified about this?

      1. @EL

        The Joint Information Center that was established when the event happened stood down on Feb 16, once the immediate site surveys had found no evidence of any contamination outside of the facility.


        As far as I can tell, the cause evaluation effort is being hampered by the decision to isolate the facility and wait for the activity to fall. Here is a press release that indicates there will be a careful, expensive, effort to reenter the site and determine the cause of the initial alarm.


        That press release, issued five days ago, is the latest one published under the “breaking news” headline at http://www.wipp.energy.gov/

        It is important to recall that this facility is run by the federal government’s Department of Energy, not by a for profit company that is considering seeking public permission to build additional similar facilities.

        The communication lessons that can be learned, however, are valuable and worth discussing.

  2. Sad but true.
    WIPP has been running well for almost 15 years, but was caught flat footed when there was a glitch. Zero preparation for anything unexpected. So we have radio silence for more than a week along with gradually escalating delays. Meanwhile, the alarmists are free to speculate.
    Worse yet, even now afaik the WIPP officials will be unable to tell the locals anything new that was not known a week ago, because no one has entered the plant since the accident. So we have a pointless meeting where nothing informative is likely to be released, just more BS about the ‘minimal release’. These people desperately need some competent crisis management, but it seems no nuclear operation ever has the resources to support that function. So the supportive community is given the mushroom treatment.
    Great way to win the hearts and minds of the public. /sarc

  3. “Zero preparation for anything unexpected”

    Bingo. Thats not only true in respect to communication, it seems to be true logistically and technically as well. What occured at Fukushima demonstrates that unfortunate reality.

    “Great way to win the hearts and minds of the public”

    Again, bingo. You seem to “get it”. In the PR department the nuclear advocates are dismal failures, and they don’t seem willing to cpnsider a fresh marketing approach. Its all about “conspiracies” launched by the antis, instead of employing the necessary collective introspection to consider what thier own role has been in jaundicing public opinion.

    1. Just what happened at Fukushima — Doomsday? Three rare superquake caused meltdowns in a row killing zero isn’t a fluke or a near miss or luck even in Las Vegas; it’s conservative overbuilt safety design — and it worked. No megadeaths to crow over, sorry! Even if Jane said you only needed one!

      Were you as hot and bothered when BP Horizon blew up and killed many and polluted the Gulf light years more than Fukushima ever did? Or the Mex Gas thing blew up a whole neighborhood? Lots of victims but I don’t see any back posts of you complaining about those. I guess you types just have a grudge in for nuclear, that’s all!

      1. Remember: this was not related to nuclear power. No other energy industry is safer either.

        But just a quick glimpse of the last week on the coal mining scene Mitch:

        One dead in SWVa. mining accident 20 Feb

        Seven Dead In Ukrainian Coal Mine Blast 17 Feb

        Fatal mine explosion part of greater pattern in Kerman, Iran 3 dead 22 Feb

        And that was a slow week, and just in mining. That people can come here with a straight face with the carnage and destruction of the FF industry, the default energy situation, and say NP has a safety issue is beyond comical; or even that its merely a PR thing. I used to say that but it bothers me a lot more now when other people pull it out.

        Its a honesty thing and a advocacy failure on their part.

        1. What gets me about this tsunami discussion is we’re looking a gift horse in the mouth!

          A super quake wrecked lots of big things like dams and oil refineries which then killed lots of people, also wrecked three reactors that killed nobody. Tsunami wall or not, “antiquated” overbuilt design still did its job. Sure, TEPCO should’ve had that wall up to snuff with quake history, but hey, are we going to bash them for not jumping to fix things for rare events? Have we forgotten that meteor scare over Russia last year also started panic talk about meteor-proofing reactors? Are we going to push energy companies to hurry up and fix for that rare event too? (Happened twice just in Russia within 100 years!).

          Sure, TEPCO was slaggered getting that wall up, but hey, bash the dam and oil refineries first. They’re the ones who failed and killed BIG Time!

          1. @Mitch

            The failure of an irrigation dam and an oil refinery fire did not cause the displacement of 180,000 people, unforced shutdown of 50 power plants, government bailout of one of the largest private companies in Japan, a near permanent industrial hazard in a region prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, and rising public costs on the order of a decade in the making national banking crisis.

            I’m not sure what you consider sizeable or significant here. If Fukushima isn’t one of them, you’re going to have a hard time telling that to historians, and the hundreds of thousands of people directly impacted by the accident (and likely their descendants for generations to come).

          2. El, you’re willfully missing a point here. It wasn’t crippled reactors that needlessly drove people from their homes or stupidly shut down fifty perfectly sound reactors which pushed Japan towards the financial brink. It was an excessive knee-jerk ad-hoc emergency response policy that did. The same illogical response that Germany is paying for and their egos won’t admit was wrong. We don’t need historians to add up the nil injuries and environmental impacts of nuclear incidents of the present day which pales to people and property dislocated or wiped out by fossil and dam construction and failures. Our problem is getting enough people and pols rational enough and without green grudges to see it today.

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          3. … excessive knee-jerk ad-hoc emergency response …

            @James Greenidge

            Japanese reactors are situated in active seismic zones (near large urban areas), and review of Fukushima accident (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant previously and others) brought to bear long standing shortfalls in design and safety culture (and specific plants lacking an adequate design basis for probabilistic environmental risks). Breaking up the nuclear village and lessons learned takes time. New independent agencies charged with sufficient (and updated) review of power plants doesn’t happen over night (especially when upgrades are requested). Given the impacts of Fukushima on a region that is somewhat less populated than other areas of Japan, these reforms aren’t ‘illogical” (as you seem to want to suggest), they appear to be long overdue.

          4. “….. also wrecked three reactors that killed nobody”

            YET. Right? Thats really what the debate is about. You advocates claim no harm, just a little foul. Those such as Gundersen claim lottsa harm, huge foul. Those like myself, are simply trying to figure out who to reasonably believe.

            That IS how you people need to see it, and you need to present yourselves as being cognizant of the above mentioned dynamic. When you consider it thus, your post becomes cavalier and pompous in its presentation. As EL points out, tens of thousands of Japanese citizens have had thier lives unalterably changed, FOREVER, (justifed or not, doesn’t matter at this point). Your callousness and seeming fauilure to take that into consideration pretty much destroys your credibility. And it certainly doesn’t garner respect for your opinion.

            This isn’t about big oil or coal, it is about the DIRECT ramifications of TEPCO’s failure to put in place suggested safeguards against KNOWN risks. Seemingly, some of you are not devoting much thought to the manner in which you present your argument. And, as a collective, when posts such as yours go unchallenged by your fellow advocates, it reflects poorly on ALL of you. Particularly at a site such as this one, which claims to be honest, albiet biased.

            On a personal level, the fat lady hasn’t sang yet as to whose avowals are honest and prescient. Is the prevailing argument here credible, or is Gundersen and Caldicott telling the true story about what this event entails in its entirety? Some of us, that so many of you are labeling and attacking, are just trying to find the truth. And if your above post is indicative of your advocacy community as a whole, then just plain common sense has me jumping off the fence as far away from you as I can get, because your insensitivity to the HUGE scale of this disaster in the lives of tens of thousands of Japanese simply doesn’t earn my respect for your opinion, or sway kindly towards your credibility.

            It is my hope that those reading the comment section of this blog can recognize the actual damage a post such as your does to the credibility of the site as a whole, and discourage such cavalier indifference and pompous presentation.

            You ain’t doing this site any favors. And this ain’t an “attack”, its a critique. Hopefully, you and your fellows can tell the difference.

          5. This isn’t about big oil or coal, it is about the DIRECT ramifications of TEPCO’s failure to put in place suggested safeguards against KNOWN risks.

            1.  They weren’t known when the plant was built.
            2.  The response to the discovery was still being considered at the time of the tsunami.

            tens of thousands of Japanese citizens have had thier lives unalterably changed, FOREVER, (justifed or not, doesn’t matter at this point).

            Yet you’re blaming TEPCO for the hysterical reaction of public officials in Tokyo.  It only matters to you when you can blame the utility, or the nuclear industry in general.  You absolve the elected and appointed officials of any responsibility to justify their policies and pronouncements:  nuclear must be perfect even if everyone else is an idiot.

          6. “1. They weren’t known when the plant was built”

            The size of tsunami and quake WERE NOT unprecedented. There is historical evidence of equally sizable events in Japan’s past.

            “2. The response to the discovery was still being considered at the time of the tsunami.”

            So we keep hearing on this thread, with absolutely NO SUBSTANTIATION for the claim. By TEPCO’s own admission, they were not acting to improve seawall integrity. I can find NO evidence that “engineering” was being done, as Sean claims. Certainly, noting the field of “expertise” here on this blog, if such “engineering” was taking place, one of you should be able to produce evidence of that “engineering” through sourcing.

            Circling your wagons around a false claim brings to question the veracity of ALL your claims. I’m extremely suprised to see that happening here. Have you all gone daft? You don’t see the damage that does to this site?

            Isn’t it simpler, and smarter, just to produce the source of your claims, with substantiating evidence through links and actual cited testimony?

          7. Rod…..

            “Like you, I anxiously await Sean’s links”

            Well, Rod, I hope anxiety doesn’t cause you to hold your breath. I’d hate for us to lose you.

          8. 1.  They weren’t known when the plant was built.


            Really? The word “tsunami” is Japanese (after all).


            The plant has tsunami defenses (I presume you know this), they were just insufficient at 5.7 meters. In the 1980s, Tohoku Electric (examining historical records) estimated the tsunami risk for nearby Miyagi Prefecture to be 9.1 meters. The Onagawa plant (as a consequence) was built 14.8 meters above sea level with a 14 meter seawall.

            At Fukushima Daiichi, by contrast, cost cutting prevailed. A bluff was reduced from 35 meters to 10 in order to site the plant on bedrock, and also to lower operating costs: “Tepco decided to build the plant on low ground based on a cost-benefit calculation of the operating costs of the seawater pumps, according to two research papers separately written by senior Tepco engineers in the 1960s. If the seawater pumps were placed on high ground, their operating costs would be accordingly higher. “We decided to build the plant at ground level after comparing the ground construction costs and operating costs of the circulation water pumps,” wrote Hiroshi Kaburaki, then deputy head of the Tepco’s construction office at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, in the January 1969 edition of Hatsuden Suiryoku, a technical magazine on power plants” (here).

            Willful ignorance … seems to be a common theme of late (especially in the absence of a strong independent regulator). I’ll repeat a quote from above: “stupid errors” that are “impossible to overlook by anyone in the field” (here). Perhaps even among industry apologists and engineering poets, it now seems.

      2. “Three rare superquake caused meltdowns……”

        On one of the most active regions of the Ring Of Fire. Such an event was not only predictable and precedented in history, it was inevitable. So too, the tsunami. Perhaps there are places on Earth that building a nuclear powerplant is quite simply, well, idiotic.

        “No megadeaths to crow over, sorry!”

        When will some of you at this site wise up, and stop using such adversarial, accusatory, and obnoxious style of argument?

        “Were you as hot and bothered when BP Horizon blew up and killed many and polluted the Gulf light years more than Fukushima ever did?”

        Actually, quite often I mention BP here in an unfavorable light, and yes, I am “hot and bothered” by the Gulf disaster, which is still ongoing, and being lied about in BP’s despicable fluff ads. But, uh, in case you haven’t noticed, this is a site about nuclear energy, so, uh, it follows that Fukushima is a more relevent topic for discussion than the gulf spill. Eh?

        “I guess you types just have a grudge in for nuclear, that’s all!”

        For a site that deals in science, a few of you sure seem to have an assinine way of expressing yourselves. However, it is enlightening.

        1. To clarify, the quake and tsunami were predictable and precedented . I wasn’t suggesting the three meltdowns were anything other than “rare”, as Mitch so eloquently spit at me in his endearing and convincing manner.

        2. @PissedOffAmerican : Yes, Tepco really *should* have foreseen such an event, they should have realized even if such a bad event was unlikely (we are after all talking about the 4th or 5th strongest ever recorded earthquake, and 2nd most powerful tsunami), it really could happen, and there was a very large number of things they didn’t do.

          But I think that in the US, the Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) organisation created after TMI has really helped the industry maintain a high security standard, with a very different situation from Japan. Through it, chief nuclear officers cooperate directly with each other, and everyone in the industry has a clear vision of how safely the other plants operate. A very important additional point is that the Price-Anderson insurance pool means that, after the first $375 millions for each plants, it’s everyone else in the industry that pays, up to $12 billions. This means that they have the knowledge and they care about what happens in the other plants since it may put them in a very large financial risk, each plant may pay up to $121 millions not because it did anything wrong but because someone else did.

          And INPO last year organized a visit of the Fukushima site for the CNO that I’m convinced has even more reinforced their commitment to put security first :

          1. Not for nothing but Tepco WAS doing something about the tsunami height it was only recently discovered as possible in that specific area and they were in the process of studying and engineering. Unfortunately they ran out of time but to insinuate that they knew about the risk and weren’t in the process of addressing it is at best disingenuous and at worst a lie.

          2. “Unfortunately they ran out of time but to insinuate that they knew about the risk and weren’t in the process of addressing it is at best disingenuous and at worst a lie”

            Interesting. How long had the plant been there? What, they were late in figuring out that they might just kinda oughta figure out that just maybe it was in the realm of possibility they could experience a tsunami?

            “Ran out of time”. Yeah, gee, that is “unfortunate”, ain’t it? Seems to me I read somewhere that it has been known for some time that the seawalls were inadequate for the risk of the FORESEEABLE hieght of a possible tsunami, much less one that was less than reasonably foreseeable in scale, such as occurred.

            And WHAT exactly were thay doing in terms of “engineering” and studying? Do you have a link substantiating that assertion. It is my understanding that TEPCO was resisting inproving thier seawall integrity.

          3. If you can substantiate your claim that…..

            “Not for nothing but Tepco WAS doing something about the tsunami height it was only recently discovered as possible in that specific area and they were in the process of studying and engineering”

            ….I’d like to see that substantiation. Sounds to me like they KNEW the seawalls were inadequate, but didn’t intend to address the inadequacy due to cost and image. I can find no reference to them being in any stage of “engineering” to adress the inadequacy.



            “In a reversal of its insistence that nothing could have protected the plant against the earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 20,000 people on 11 March, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it had known safety improvements were needed before the disaster, but had failed to implement them”

            Another excerpt…

            “The report noted that Tepco had not made any safety improvements to the Fukushima Daiichi plant since 2002, and had dismissed the possibility of it being hit by a massive tsunami, even though it could not produce supporting data”

            “It had, for example, insisted that Fukushima Daiichi’s 5.7m seawall was high enough to withstand a tsunami generated by a large quake in the area, despite a warning in 2008 by its own engineers that much bigger waves were possible”

          4. Not for nothing but Tepco WAS doing something about the tsunami height it was only recently discovered as possible in that specific area and they were in the process of studying and engineering. Unfortunately they ran out of time but to insinuate that they knew about the risk and weren’t in the process of addressing it is at best disingenuous and at worst a lie.

            @Sean McKinnon

            This issue has been throughly documented. There is no factual basis for your claim. It is misleading, or at worse a lie, to suggest otherwise. It is upsetting for you to suggest something that has been so thoroughly investigated and documented. If you don’t know better, please read the accident commission report (or submit some actual documentation other than made up claims to the contrary).

            Thank you!


            “The commission also accused the government, Tepco and nuclear regulators of failing to carry out basic safety measures despite being aware of the risks posed by earthquakes, tsunamis and other events that might cut off power systems. Even though the government-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission revised earthquake resistance standards in 2006 and ordered nuclear operators around the country to inspect their reactors, for example, Tepco did not carry out any checks, and regulators did not follow up, the report said.”

            Details herein:


      3. Mitch, trying to down play Fukushima is a losing strategy, esp. just after TEPCO announced a massive and very hot strontium leak.

        1. Evidence of the possibility of tsunami larger than the design basis of the plant was only discovered in 2008. Tepco did model and simulate possible wave heights but were still analyzing the results. I beleive the final engineering reports were due days after the earthquake and tsunami. (I am traveling right now but will post links and excerpt of my sources which are not the New York Times as I don’t get my technical info from the main stream media)

          Could they have moved faster? Yes. Should they have? We now know that they should have but hindsight is 20/20. The fact remains that they did not know in 1960 and they did not ignore it for 40 years.

          You don’t go making changes to large nuclear plants and their design bases willy nilly every modification needs to be designed. studies, modeled, and vetted for unintended consequences.

          It’s easy to play Monday-morning quarterback but let’s suppose they did build a much higher sea wall without doing a thorough design analysis and the sea wall failed and took out the sea water intake structure I believe you would be just as critical that they “rushed” and didn’t “spend the money” to properly design study engineer and build the sea wall.

          1. @Sean McKinnon

            I’ll await the links to your sources.

            For a timely review of government, industry, and regulatory shortfalls and inactions … you’ll find more here:


            “Stupid errors” that are “impossible to overlook by anyone in the field” is not a matter of 20/20 hindsight, but blind and perhaps even willful ignorance or mismanagement.

            After an advisory group issued nonbinding recommendations in 2002, Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant owner and Japan’s biggest utility, raised its maximum projected tsunami at Fukushima Daiichi to between 17.7 and 18.7 feet — considerably higher than the 13-foot-high bluff. Yet the company appeared to respond only by raising the level of an electric pump near the coast by 8 inches, presumably to protect it from high water, regulators said …

            Even though tsunami simulations offered new ways to assess the risks of tsunamis, plant operators made few changes at their aging facilities, and nuclear regulators did not press them …

            The Japanese approach, referred to in the field as “deterministic” — as opposed to “probabilistic,” or taking unknowns into account — somehow stuck, said Noboru Nakao, a consultant who was a nuclear engineer at Hitachi for 40 years and was president of Japan’s training center for operators of boiling-water reactors.

            “Japanese safety rules generally are deterministic because probabilistic methods are too difficult,” Mr. Nakao said, adding that “the U.S. has a lot more risk assessment methods” …

            Mr. Synolakis called Japan’s underestimation of the tsunami risk a “cascade of stupid errors that led to the disaster” and said that relevant data was virtually impossible to overlook by anyone in the field.

            More here:

            One of those whose warnings were ignored was Kunihiko Shimazaki, a retired professor of seismology at the University of Tokyo …

            Minutes of the meeting on Feb. 19, 2004, show that the government bureaucrats running the committee moved quickly to exclude his views from debate as too speculative and “pending further research.” None of the other 13 academics on the committee objected. Mr. Shimazaki’s warnings were not even mentioned in the committee’s final report two years later. He said the committee did not want to force Tepco to make expensive upgrades at the plant …

            In 2008, Tepco engineers made three separate sets of calculations that showed that Fukushima Daiichi could be hit by tsunamis as high as 50 feet, according to the company. A Tepco spokesman, Takeo Iwamoto, said Tepco did not tell regulators at NISA for almost a year, and then did not reveal the most alarming calculation, of a 50-foot wave, until March 7 of last year — four days before the tsunami actually struck.

            Asked why the company did not move more quickly to strengthen defenses at the plant, he said that the calculations were considered “provisional estimates” based on academic theories that were not then widely accepted. Officials at NISA said regulators followed their standard procedure of leaving it to Tepco to conduct so-called back checks of tsunami defenses.

            Or Tepco’s own admission:

            In the report, Tepco said that before the accident it had been afraid to consider the risk of such a large tsunami, fearing admissions of risk could result in public pressure to shut plants down.

            “There were concerns that if new countermeasures against severe accidents were installed, concern would spread in host communities that the current plants had safety problems,” the report said …

            The company has already admitted, however, that even its own engineers had predicted a far larger tsunami was possible in Fukushima, a finding that the company and regulators both chose to ignore or not make public.

            1. @EL

              Like you, I anxiously await Sean’s links. As he pointed out, one should approach stories told in the commercial media with some skepticism when it comes to the way that the author has interpreted the “facts” provided by sources to weave a narrative. Hindsight is not always 20/20 when it is blurred by time, preconceived notions, and a misunderstanding of technical details.

              Do you have any clue how many calculations are done inside technical organizations every day? Do you understand how long it can take to perform the verification checks associated with ensuring the final answers are accurate, including making sure that the initial methods and assumptions have been correctly chosen?

              In your story above, you describe how government bureaucrats decided to exclude the opinions of a single retired professor but also pointed out that there were 13 other academics who did not object to the committee decision to exclude those opinions. Sure, it’s obviously possible for a single voice to be correct, but it’s also possible for that single voice to be a off base. Is it really a condemnation of Tepco and the Japanese system that the objections raised by the single voice were not pursued? The story’s author obviously thought so and you obviously agree with his interpretation, but isn’t it possible that the issue was not nearly so clear at the time the decisions were made?

          2. “Evidence of the possibility of tsunami larger than the design basis of the plant was only discovered in 2008”

            Actually there is historical evidence of a past tsunami “larger than the design basis of the plant”, that was discovered far prior to 2008.

            Rare. Yes. Unprecedented. No.

            So, what are you advocating? That history be ignored so that you can punt when you assess risks prior to designing safeguards into plant design?

        2. Duh, how are we playing down Fukushima? We don’t make believe what happened, unlike anti-nukers who dream-up stuff that hasn’t just to scare the clueless their way. You say “Massive” and “very hot”. Please drop us the link or name of your news source. No foul on you, just give us a line where you get your fave nuke news from.

          1. “We don’t make believe what happened…..”

            Wonderful. Than perhaps you can substantiate Sean’s claims, while he is busy “traveling”.

          2. Isnt all data from TEPCO NP? Only the bad stuff makes the anti nuclear cut.

  4. There’s really a large communication problem. As I’m just reading here :
    – “They tell us that the levels are not a threat to our health but then nobody can enter thst site for 3 weeks? Wtf?”

    Excessive level of prudence has never made anyone feel safe, exactly the opposite.
    It’s surprising that after so many years, the industry still thinks the first thing it should do is to rise the level of precautionary measures above anything meaningful, and that it will have a positive impact.

    1. Well they detected 4.4mBq of mostly Plutonium at area 7. Because the activity of Pu is so low, that means A LOT of plutonium.

  5. NM nuclear dump officials say environment is safe

    “I’m just a mom,” said Anna Hovrud, “and my first reaction was to start praying. … Basically I am not understanding about two-thirds of what has been said here. Is there a chance we could be exposed to radiation, that we are being poisoned somehow, while we are waiting for these samples?”

    Police were briefly brought to the doors after a man who identified himself as Martin Mills, a mayoral candidate, repeatedly and heatedly interrupted officials as they tried to respond.

    I picked out the most negative of it and I think it actually went better than it sounds. I think they failed to communicate the existence of real time monitoring as opposed to more specific and detailed tests for TRACE readings. Or at least the AP communicated it that way. (more the case I believe).

    The Local News has a much better assessment :

    Carlsbad residents assured on safety of WIPP radiation leak

    Prior to the town hall, the Department of Energy released new data on Monday afternoon that bolstered the agency’s claim that there is no contamination threat for local citizens in Southeast New Mexico.

    Assessment of environmental samples collected in and around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant show radioactive contamination in the air around the nation’s only nuclear repository ranged from 1.3 to 4.4 disintegrations per minute.

    Its rather striking the difference between the AP article and the Newspaper’s.

    I would have thought the AP would have the less knee jerk and less emotional, sophisticated article with much more usable information, but the opposite is clearly true.

      1. @John Tucker

        DOE has invented a new unit of measure for radiation. Apparently Bequerel is too complicated and foreign sounding or perhaps it is too large a unit. Since one Bequerel is a decay per second, one disintegration per minute (DPM) is 1/60th of a Bq.

        It introduces more ways to confuse both supporters and the general public while attempting to simplify.

        1. I dont know but it doesn’t seem wise to fix attention on such a small unit of measure Rod.

          Its kinda ironic or something that it popped up being used at a disposal area for at least some nuclear weapon/study type material.

        2. Totally agree. Discussing biological effects of radiation damage in terms of DPM is about as handy as discussing biological damage from guns in terms of rounds per minute (RPM) out of the gun. But I see the same thing going on all the time using Bequerel in the tritium discussions also. Seems some of these talking heads think the public doesn’t understand bullets; maybe we need to hire Dirty Harry to explain that part. mjd.

    1. This is why it can never be understated that the nuclear energy realm badly needs a nuclear Carl Sagan to properly put calm cool perspective and education to the public in a respectful grass-roots comprehensive level. It’d be well worth their while and image for NEI and ANS and the atomic “industry” to co-sponsor such a person to make the rounds of country and media. Why should Doc Kaku and Bill Nye have a media monopoly slinging FUD on news and “science” programming on TV totally unchallenged? A Walt Disney, James Burke or Don Herbert would’ve been perfect nuclear spokespersons while waiting for Gates and Allen to creep up to the plate, and then today you also have Rod and Ben Heard and Leslie Corrice in a potential running as well. All this FUD-fighting talent in the wings ready to fight on a wider stage if only those by-standing pro orgs with the manpower and bucks would only tap them! I’d love to see an Atomic Show grilling NEI and ANS and atomic union honchos together at one sitting about their roles in the nuclear PR war — or maybe it’s more a perpetual Pearl Harbor.

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

    1. I cant seem to do the whole video. I hate to always sound so negative but the Q & A seems to be a bunch of people asking the same stupid vague questions over and over. Cough Cough Repeat. The answer almost always being another perhaps interesting but irrelevant complexity and some version of “thats not the way it works.”

      Hats off to the professionals. They went above and beyond. But other than that – A Dead horse was savagely beaten for two hours.

      I bet you cant even watch the whole thing EL. No wonder you always hang out here talking to us instead of your anti nuke associates. Did you get to the part the guy had to be escorted out? Where is that. I wanted to see it but didn’t.

      I did like the woman saying “on the Internet they were comparing it to Hiroshima.” That totally made my day.

      1. @John Tucker

        Your disdain for members of the public who live in close proximity to such facilities is amazingly transparent and clear.

        I actually feel sorry for you. It’s this kind of hubris and inattention to detail that makes people want to have nothing to do with nuclear power. Congratulations, you’re proving a point (and doing it exceedingly well).

        1. I know, I am a bad person. I make people hate NP even though this has nothing to do with it too. That makes me wrong about everything and you are a good person for pointing it out. This also means you are right about everything.

          This completely proves it.

      2. Did you know that their initial readings were 42 Bq (2520 CPM)

        After manipulating that number to remove background uranium, radon, thorium, they ended up with

        0.64 Bq. Wow, that means the background radiation is 2480 CPM.

        Assuming Cesium to convert to mSv (since most Geigers use the Cesium multiplier factor) that would be

        182 mSv per year….

        Make me say hmmmmmmm…..

        1. @np: “Wow, that means the background radiation is 2480 CPM”

          How do you figure that? The measurement is not done with a counter laying on a table comparing the sample to background; it is counting the stuff caught by a filter over a period of five (?) days. So the filter was catching U, Ra, Th, etc. over that time period also. This has nothing to do with measuring background.

        2. No that would be 2520 dpm, unless you know of a 100% efficient 4-pi detector.

          And your conversion to mSv is assuming that it is all Cs gammas (and I am guessing still incorrectly using cpm) because that is a reasonable assumption in your skewed mind, right?

          1. The conversion to mSv is to allow some measure of comparison to radiation doses.

            Playing a 2520 DPM or 2480 CPM “game” is not even a starter for a discussion/rebuttal.

            We have a known release, from a facility storing high level waste, 13 people who were up top (sheltering in place) received significant lung doses, and then pretending that the naturally occuring U Ra Th were 50 times more present than the release from the high level storage.

            Sorry, anyone with an objective mind could not buy that.

          2. Sorry but when the cpm number (that is really dpm) is used with a cpm to mSv conversion giving a bogus mSv level, then it isn’t a “game”. It is either massive ignorance or an intentional move to overstate the hazard. Basically just another case of spreading FUD.

            And just where are you getting this claim that 13 people recieved significant lung doses?

            Sorry, anyone with a working mind would want actual data not screwed up math and hand waving.

          3. @ddpalmer, I hope the admin takes due note of your personal attack.

            You should do basic research, especially before spewing personal insults.


            google it

            DPM or CPM the matter is semantics….DPM is what is really there in nature, CPM is how many clicks we got from our monitoring device. My assumption and coversion factors were stated. If you have a problem with those, please attack those directly without resorting to an ad hominem.

  6. “Did you know that their initial readings were 42 Bq (2520 CPM)”

    – where are you getting this number ? The vid ?? – whats the timestamp? As a initial reading that was then used for analysis yielding a 2480 CPM background or is that you assuming and mixing up the numbers ?

    1. where are you getting this number ? The vid ?? – whats the timestamp?

      @John T. Tucker

      Presentation from Russell Hardy, Director CEMRC, starting around 40 minutes (and lasting some 16 minutes). 42 Bq (500 cpm and 2500 dpm).

      1. Oh I thought I asked for a link or the source in context as it appears the reading had little to do with what is claimed.

        Im my “proven” misanthropy I guess dont seem to derive pleasure or have the burning desire to instill great unreasonable fear, lie to and mislead the ignorant masses as proof of my love for them, like you EL.

        1. @John Tucker

          I have no idea what you are talking about?

          You asked a question about a specific number. I answered it. Beyond that … any conversation you are trying to have appears to be entirely in your own head.

          If you have other thoughts on this measurement, please share them. I haven’t mislead anybody (to the best of my knowledge).

          1. EL you live in the nation’s energy chemical cesspool and here you are again pawning off another incorrect and at best vague and tenuous nuclear conspiracy research thing on me.

            Seriously that has to be starting to bother you. Not just that you are a total used up object of the fossil fuel industry but that by now you must know your arguments and technique are less than honest and ethical.

            That would really bother me more than anything and I would strive to set it straight. After everything I think I would rather die than have to live with being more dishonest in this life. Im just so over all of that.

            I may be wrong but I feel you are a good person too trying to make things workout for the better.

            You know its time to step up to the plate, You know what is at stake. Do it. If nothing else you owe yourself honesty, perspective and the truth.

          2. Ok but it didnt seem like much of an “attack.” Especially as he brought up the issue of his location and proximity to recreational fishing and a shuttered NPP in a previous post.

            February 25, 2014 at 10:27 PM
            @John Tucker

            Your disdain for members of the public who live in close proximity to such facilities is amazingly transparent and clear.

            I actually feel sorry for you. It’s this kind of hubris and inattention to detail that makes people want to have nothing to do with nuclear power.

            So it was incorrect of me to respond to that? Hmmm.

            Perhaps you should be addressing the background count thing.

          3. Perhaps you should be addressing the background count thing.

            @John Tucker

            There is no background thing. Gmax137 gave a perfectly fine reply. Anybody watching the video would have been treated to the same. If you think there is any confusion here, maybe looking at the video would have cleared it up for you. Your challenging of the information should have started there (it seems to me).

          4. Your challenging of the information should have started there

            Ok, I see, it was me challenging the experts and information from info I initially couldn’t find that I misinterpreted from the part of a video I didn’t watch. Thank you for clearing that up. Im sorry to have even mentioned it.

        2. John, watch the video before you just start attacking people. We all want to learn and improve our knowledge, but an antagonistic approach is really a non starter.

          1. The statement was incorrect. Not from the video information but from the assumptions of the person challenging the competency/honesty of the professionals featured in the video from which I know some numbers were lifted.

            I see now that some numbers came form the video.

            The assumptions/reasoning still has not been sourced. Evidentially that incorrect analysis is coming from somewhere.

  7. Here is the big problem I have with the unnecessary fear about Nuclear Power. I have been involved with peaceful use of Nuclear power for more than 50 years. I know no one that died because of Nuclear power, I don’t even know anyone that knows someone that has died because of nuclear power. However, I would have to say the complete opposite is true for something that should have similar statistics – Hospitals/Clinics.

    Malpractice Facts (from Wikipedia) –
    “Statistics show that each year, in the United States, approximately 195,000 people die because of medical errors. The study notes that about 1.14 million patient-safety incidents occurred among the 37 million hospitalizations in the Medicare population over the years 2000-2002. Hospital costs associated with such medical errors were estimated at $324 million in October 2008 alone.”

    That means that in one year alone, just in the USA, that many more people walk into a hospital/clinic for a “normal” medical procedure and do not leave the hospital/clinic alive than were killed by Chernobyl, or even the worst case projections for Chernobyl. I can assume (but have not confirmed or even looked for the data), that the total of all malpractice deaths in the world in one year exceeds ALL DEATHS caused by all uses of nuclear power including the use of the two bombs in Japan!


    Why is a NPP safer than a Hospital?
    Why is a NPP safer than the average medical clinic that performs common medical procedures?
    Why is everybody that I know that took the “Once in a life time dose” at TMI still collecting his retirement pay and in good health?
    Why all of the needless fear mongering?
    If any place, facility, on earth should have and practice “Zero Tolerance” for errors why is that not practiced at the medical facilities?
    Why do people accept this?
    Why do the news media accept this?

    1. Good question, I think the answer is largely that people choose to go into the hospital or even choose which hospital to go into; if they don’t like this one they can choose that one instead. The NPP, on the contrary, is simply imposed on them by “outside forces.” If you don’t want to go into the hospital you just don’t go. If you don’t want to live near the NPP your only choice is to move away. It’s just a matter of who is in control. People are obviously much more willing to accept risk if they feel that they are somehow in control of that risk.

      1. Rich Lentz and gmax137 both make very valid points. I would add that control of risk is not the only factor that applies. It is also germane to be able to benefit from the risk. Polls always show the majority of people in communities around NPPs favor the economic benefits the NPP provides.Nye County, NV favors Yucca Mt because of potential economic benefits. Banks are not willing to lend money on new NPPs because they feel “nobody” can control the potential risks to their investment. That’s where our system brakes down. Literally for the price of a postage stamp, someone can make a frivolous claim in a licensing hearing that can cost millions of dollars and months of delay to defend. When a legal proceeding like the ASLB then rules the claim is frivolous (or even technically wrong) the Utility has been financially harmed. If your neighbor did that to you, you can sue and recover damages. I don’t see that happening for NPPs, but it certainly has to add to the feeling that the risk can’t be controlled. mjd.

    2. It seems like no matter how insignificant the news or incident the anti nuke cottage industry is always there to exploit it to the hilt. Even to the point of adding content to make the story more juicy.

      From low dose fear enhancement to high dose conspiracy cover-ups (occurring concurrently of course).

      Get your foreign industry PR, unrealistic renewable advocacy, geiger counters, Zeolite. and anti radiation pills right here folks.

  8. As related to the 13 employees tests coming back yesterday showing some exposure:

    “The release material was predominantly americium – 241, material which is consistent with the waste disposed of at the WIPP. This is a radionuclide used in consumer smoke detectors and a contaminant in nuclear weapons manufacturing.

    Determining employee dose typically involves multiple sample analyses to determine employee’s radionuclide excretion rate over time. This allows the lab to estimate the employee’s accumulated internal dose. The time this process takes depends largely on the solubility of the inhaled particulate, with less water – soluble radioactive materials requiring more samples and time to accurately estimate the dose. Follow – up urine samples may require about three or more weeks to accurately predict dose.” ( http://www.wipp.energy.gov/special/cbfo_mgr_letter.pdf )

    I think you can assume exposures are going to be relatively low as they passed through a initial check with no issues, but its going to become more clear over time if this is significant and/or even related to the recent incident or something else.

    1. No where close to this but a interesting read and some good search and link out sources :

      Harold McCluskey was a Hanford worker that was involved in a industrial accident in 1976 that exposed him to the highest level of americium ever recorded. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_McCluskey )

      He died over a decade later of unrelated causes (he was 64 at the time of exposure). He was a even a supporter of nuclear power and advocated for it after his accident.

        1. 1. No, pure speculation, average life expectancy in the US for men in the 80’s was 78. He was 75 and we do not have his risk factors. I am not going to play the guessing game any longer EL.

          If we not sure we say so.

          BTW : He received a HUGE dose of radiation yet you provided low dose examples. Those are not accepted as contributing by more reputable publications. (BMJ).

  9. (I am traveling right now but will post links and excerpt of my sources which are not the New York Times as I don’t get my technical info from the main stream media)

    Yet, in your “travel” mode you were able to post here. Twice.

    I’m really disappointed in this thread. To be honest, the tone many of you assumed, and the failure to produce any substantiation, (FROM ANY OF YOU), to substantiate Sean’s claim that……

    “Tepco WAS doing something about the tsunami height it was only recently discovered as possible in that specific area and they were in the process of studying and engineering”

    and that…..

    “Tepco did model and simulate possible wave heights but were still analyzing the results. I beleive the final engineering reports were due days after the earthquake and tsunami”

    …has damaged the credibility of some of you, and possibly the site as a whole. It is my sincere hope that someone here takes it upon themselves to find substantiation for Sean’s assertions. Making specious claims, then offering an excuse for being unable to substantiate the claims, rings the death knell for the credibility here, and I sincerely hope that that doesn’t happen. I turned here for knowledge, not poorly presented BS. I hope you’ll make it right.

    Sorry for being so blunt, but trust is earned, not owed.

    1. What is this collective “credibility” thing. I speak for none here and no one speaks for me. Hopefully everyone here has the ability to reason and their own reasoning process for supporting their beliefs. Certainly each has their areas of interest.

      They didn’t expect such a extreme disaster obviously. They were wrong. They made obvious (now) mistakes. Duh. Thats all I need to know. TEPCO pre Fuku no longer really exists anyway. The people involved in those decisions have likely moved on, been forced out, or retired.

      …has damaged the credibility of some of you, and possibly the site as a whole.

      Those types of comments aimed at the entire discussion just definitively position you alone.

      You are not convincing anyone here of anything, you are not even trying. Your target is some other population you wish to discredit this site to.

      I dont want or need your “trust.” Why would I ? Are you going to influence vast multitudes with your argumentative charisma based on your personal feelings, likes and dislikes? Why would I want to be involved in that.

      I also fail to see even the vaguest connection to “WIPP and Carlsbad residents will talk” in discussing this unless they are secretly building a NPP, we are expecting a tsunami there next and they are just ignoring the risk.

  10. “You are not convincing anyone here of anything, you are not even trying. Your target is some other population you wish to discredit this site to”

    The conspiracy thing again? BS. I’m here for my own enlightenment. PERIOD. And if you you are too ignorant to understand how your manner of engagement DAMAGES this site, then I feel for the effort Rod is putting into it.

    “I also fail to see even the vaguest connection to “WIPP and Carlsbad residents will talk” in discussing this unless they are secretly building a NPP, we are expecting a tsunami there next and they are just ignoring the risk”

    Follow the thread, and it becomes apparent how the conversation shifted, (WITH YOUR PARTICIPATION, I might add). But now, when it is pointed out that someone offered a rebuttal with absolutely NO substantiation, (with an exceptionally shallow excuse), you want to pull the “off topic” card out of your sleeve.

    “I dont want or need your “trust.””

    Yeah, well how’s that working out for you and the industry you advocate for? Do you really think offering apparent BS, such as Sean apparently offered, instills the trust of ANYONE visiting this site? If it ain’t crap, then show us the meat. And I’ll apologize to him and to Rod.

    And you? I couldn’t care less whether you want my trust or not. I’ve seen enough of your manner of engagement to have a complete and utter indifference to any of your offerings. Your disrespect seemingly extends even to the host of this site, judging by the manner you continue to address certain participants. I’m supposed to care that you cannot understand the value of instilling trust, establishing credibility, even on a forum such as this one?

    It ain’t about you, as much as that may unsettle your ego, John. I wasn’t addressing you. nor am I happy that I am doing so now, in response to your usual abrasive animous that you have continually spit in my direction.

    Does Sean have substantiation for his claims OR NOT? If so, lets see it. If not, exactly what is it that you are defending?

    1. Yes Im basically over it unless anyone has new links.

      Who were you addressing? What are you even complaining about? There is a lively discussion about it above. Rod even responded and wanted to see some links. Is that “official blog” enough attention for you. You know thats what happens when people talk about a subject here. They sometimes post below the topic by pressing that crazy “Reply” tag and it posts up next to the reference post. As weird as all that seems.

  11. I was a little off it was analysis presented by Tepco to NISA and their plans to mitigate the threat 4 days before the Tsunami.


    Tepco was first informed of possible tsunami activity greater than previously analyzed. Tepco commissioned tsunami simulations for Fukushima Daichi in 2008 that were presented to NISA on March 7, 2011 four days before the tsunami at that time Tepco presented their plan to implement upgraded tsunami protection by October 2012.

    Did they procrastinate and in hindsight not move quick enough? Yes.

    Did they do “nothing”? No.

    1. Sorry should read “was informed of possible tsunami activity greater than previously analyzed in 2002”

  12. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/111202e16.pdf

    See pages 5 through 13 for more information on the years of analysis and study Tepco did on this issue.

    Again, though it was wholly ineffective and clear that they did not act as quickly or in the way that they should have knowing what we know today they clearly did not “do nothing” they may not have done the “right” things but they certainly did not “do nothing” and saying so is disingenuous at best.

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