The Future of Nuclear Power – Too Dangerous for the Truth

I liked Joaquin’s post so much, I blogged it.
Michael Collins

A poster at The Agonist, Joaquin, published an elegant and important analysis this weekend. His tightly packed, brief post made three key points. We’re headed for an ugly future with nuclear power based on shortages and future fuel cycles more volatile than those imploding and exploding in Japan. Governments, the nuclear industry, and the media are avoiding this issue entirely. As a result, the rulers and technocrats who got us to the latest meltdown cannot be trusted to make any more decisions about energy needs. Image: From the Oil Drum

“The truth is, there is a big fat lie that the nuclear power industry and the media are foisting on the public and that has not changed.” Joaquin

“What is it”, the big fat lie, Joaquin asks.

“This lie has to do with the nature of nuclear power in the future. Everyone is asking, can we make nuclear technology, the current, nuclear technology safe? In truth, the current risks with the nuclear fuel cycle i.e., the risks of contaminating the environment, are not the risks of the future because the current nuclear fuel cycle is not the fuel cycle that will be used in the future. There’s just not that much uranium left to fuel an extensive expansion of nuclear power generation.” Joaquin (See Note 1)

By 2015, the supplies of uranium will be in sufficient decline to limit nuclear energy. Or will they?

“This assessment results in the conclusion that in the short term, until about 2015, the long lead times of new and the decommissioning of aging reactors perform the barrier for fast extension, and after about 2020 severe uranium supply shortages become likely which, again will limit the extension of nuclear energy.” Uranium Resources and Nuclear Energy, 2006

The United States and France, heavy nuclear users, will be out of domestic supply and world supply is questionable. It takes semantic tricks by industry representatives to claim otherwise. (See Note 2)

Joaquin offers up the future of nuclear power, the future carefully avoided by governments, the nuclear industry, and the media. Instead of the current generation of plants, the nuclear industry will give us “improved reactors” and fuel cycles that require less uranium. Supplementing that will be imports from the same type of unreliable suppliers that we have for petroleum (e.g., Kazakhstan, the Soviet Union).

“So, where’s all the nuclear fuel going to come from? The answer has to be that the nuclear industry and U.S. government intend to use more exotic fuel cycles in the future power plants including, MOX (currently leaking our of Fukushima1, unit 3), reprocessed Uranium, Thorium, and breeder reactors of various types (See Note)

“The industry and their government and media proxies don’t want to talk about this fact too much because the waste from these future fuel cycles is far more dangerous than most of the stuff slowly making a large part of Japan uninhabitable for the next few dozen millennium. In other words, the discussion in the media about future nuclear safety is completely dishonest.” Joaquin

The “See Note” link provides more details on the dangers and questionable availability of these future nuclear fuel cycles. We’re witnessing a preview of the future with the MOX cycle. Fukushima I, unit 3, began using MOX in September 2010. Here’s a nuclear engineer formerly with Tokyo Power on unit 3:

“Goto said that the MOX also has a lower melting point than the other reactor fuels. The Fukushima facility began using MOX fuel in September 2010, becoming the third plant in Japan to do so, according to MOX supplier AREVA.” D.C. Bureau March 15

Joaquin’s point on the dangers of new fuel cycles is well taken. One of the fuels of the future, MOX, has a low melting point than the other reactors at Fukushima. Maybe that’s why it had an, as of yet, unexplained hydrogen explosion in MOX fueled reactor 3. The others outlined in the note are no more assuring as a future source. Nevertheless, the nuclear industry persists in acting like it has a viable supply to meet it’s demands and promises.

“We are supposed to believe that this hydrogen explosion (first image above) at unit 3, March 14, is no biggie; of course it isn’t; it’s just a direct hit. WTF, there is a huge amount of concrete flying hundreds of meters in the air not a tin roof; the nature of the damage done by this explosion has proven to be the subject of one lie after another.” Joaquin

The dangers of unit 3 are clear:

“The No. 3 reactor is a particular concern because it is the only one of six at the plant to use a potentially volatile mix of uranium and plutonium.” ABC News, March 26

Joaquin examined a perfect example of media denial in reporting toxic dangers from the disaster.

“The media is confusing everyone about radiation because they refuse or are unable to discern the difference between contamination and direct radiation. That’s because the media are run by people who are either trying to obfuscate what is going on or are just plain idiots; your choice. Look at this picture: compiled from Sources: Tepco (Tokyo Power); International Atomic Energy Agency; Federal Aviation Administration; Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Never-mind that most of the data is missing in the above picture, which seems to say the plant is safe to walk around in anytime as long as you don’t mind the possibility of a CT-SCAN now and then. Today, several plant employees found out the hard way what a dangerous lie this is.” Joaquin

The picture and timeline from the New York Times, March 25 referenced by Joaquin shows how little the media demands from officials sources. The top official in the Japanese cabinet, Yukio Adono, flat out admitted that there was no monitoring for toxic particles, the real danger for contamination. From the video: “Unfortunately we are not able to measure the radioactive materials [in the atmosphere]…That is something we’re trying to work out.”

“When it comes to radioactive materials in general in the atmosphere, we are now trying to measure it and then we will see how much of the ratio active materials are actually emitted from the nuclear power plant. We are trying to come up with an estimate for that.” Yukio Adono, CNN Video, March 23, Starts at 1:06

Where is the coverage? Where are the questions? Measuring “radioactive materials” in the atmosphere is precisely the type of measurement that goes to health and safety concerns.

The inevitable conclusion about the current stewards of energy policy and information is clear:

“Clearly, given the lies coming out of Japan and the media’s willing participation in them, nuclear energy is too dangerous for the truth and that these institutions are too corrupt to act as responsible stewards of such a dangerous existing technology.” Joaquin

If you think Fukushima is bad, just wait for the bright and shining future offered by those who control the levers of power. They’re just warming up.

Extended quotations provided with the permission of the author. Original article first published in The Agonist.


Also see: Joaquin’s original post Is Nuclear Power too Dangerous toTell the Truth About? and
New Scientist – Fukushima radioactive fallout nears Chernobyl levels by Michael Collins

You may reproduce this article entirely or in part with attribution of authorship to Joaquin and a link to the article.

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Michael Collins

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  • You posted a comment like this several weeks ago, and Michael already answered it.

    He always posts attribution and a link for each photo, in the article.

    Maybe you are just used to always seeing attributions and links right underneath the photo; Michael puts them in the text of the article near the photo.

    If you have specific suggestions on how to do the attribution and linking technically the way you are more used to seeing, you could share them.

    I will initiate a discussion among the editors about technical practices for different ways of placing the attributions/links.

  • Show me where there is an attribution in this article. SP already posted about it and emailed me about it. He agrees. It is not there and often it is not there. They need to be posted on the photo. Even if it is just AP/AFP/Getty, etc. A link to the original photo is the best. Do you work for free. I get work by several methods. Editors love to see thousands of views of my photos. They send me to assignments, because of that. And you? You work for free? You don’t get credit for your work?

  • because, like I said I would, I asked him and the other editors to address the issue. That is why he e-mailed you, too.

    In Michael’s original article he had the photo of the reactor as a live link to the source but evidently not in this spin-off article. He usually either does that or has a link in the story to the source where he found the photo.

    If by attribution you mean stating the name of the photographer, that is a valid point, and like I said, we are addressing how to best do all of it.

  • For the last month, I have had photos I have taken, which were not attributed to me and I was not paid for them. WTF do you do? You take photos for a living? Do you go to work each day and expect to get paid for your work? Give me a fucking break asshole.

  • it’s being addressed. Let’s keep it civil. Also, my condolences on your recent tragic loss of a child that you posted about here.

  • That is my point Bill. I have just had a lot of photos stolen and placed in articles the last few months, which were not attributed and which were not paid for. It pisses me off when I see it on other media outlets with respect other photographers. I want to know who took the photo. I was paid for the original photos, but I should have also been paid for the others. Granted, I do put photos out there in the public domain (e.g. I donate photos to FEMEN), but I do that freely. At least, they give me credit. I get work through that credit.

    Apologies for taking this off topic.

  • Thanks. It is has been a tough couple of weeks. If you think I am taking Simone’s death out on anyone, then that is not the case. It was just about the photos. Bill, I appreciate your condolences. I know a lot of people that drink a little, then drive. I am guilty. I don’t have a car now. I live in Kyiv. I just wish people would think about it more. I have lost two young daughters to this BS. Everyone, just think about it. Get a taxi.

  • Monitoring for Increased Levels of Radioactive Material in the US as a Result of the Incident with the Fukushima Nuclear Incident in Japan

    CDC – Summary

    As a result of the incident with the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, highly sensitive radiation monitors operated by EPA and others are detecting very low levels of radioactive material in the air in the United States. These levels were expected and consistent with estimated releases from the damaged nuclear reactors and are far below levels of public health concern.

    Elevated levels of radioactive material in rainwater have also been expected as a result of the nuclear incident after the events in Japan, since radiation is known to travel in the atmosphere. There have been reports received that several states including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have detected elevated levels of radiation in rainwater following recent precipitation events.

    … continued at link

  • Radioactive water in tunnels under Japanese nuclear plant could be spilling into soil, ocean

    The buildup of highly radioactive water in the tunnels beneath the Fukushima complex is hindering efforts to restore power to the facility. Traces of plutonium, which is highly carcinogenic, are detected outside one of the reactors.

    Los Angeles Times, By Julie Makinen and Thomas H. Maugh II, March 28

    Tokyo and Los Angeles — Water with extremely high levels of radiation has been accumulating in a tunnel complex at Japan’s earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility and could be overflowing and spilling into the soil or running into the ocean, officials said Monday.

    The large U-shaped tunnel is connected to the turbine building of the No. 2 reactor, and water has risen to within about four inches of the manhole-type lid, officials with Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

    Officials with Tepco, which owns the facility, said highly radioactive water was building up in tunnels underneath at least three reactors at the nuclear power plant, impairing the ability of workers to reestablish power connections at the facility.


    Engineers have run a new power line to the plant from the electrical grid, but they cannot reconnect the plant’s cooling systems until the water is pumped out of the tunnels. The water is so radioactive, however, that plant authorities fear simply releasing it directly into the environment and are exploring ways to capture and store it.


    Engineers are not sure where the radioactive water is coming from, but say they fear that the reactor containment vessels at units No. 2 and No. 3 have, at the least, been cracked, allowing some radiation to seep out.


    The surface radiation level of the water in the tunnel was said to be 1,000 millisieverts per hour; the annual limit for a worker at the Fukushima plant in this emergency situation is 250 millisieverts.

    “To keep the core of the reactors cool, they have to continue spraying water. If the core isn’t kept cool the reactors could be damaged,” Koji Okamoto, a Tokyo University professor who specializes in nuclear plant design, told public broadcaster NHK. “And if that happens, there’s a possibility that a huge amount of radioactive gas will be released into the air.”

    But if too much water is sprayed, he said, “the water could leak out. It’s an extremely tough situation.”

    High levels of radiation were found over the weekend in the ocean near the plant, although officials said the sea was likely to dilute the radiation quickly and there was no threat to human health. Chief Cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said Monday that Tepco needed to increase monitoring of soil and water.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • New York Times, By Hiroku Tabuchi and Ken Belson, March 28

    TOKYO — Highly contaminated water is escaping a damaged reactor at the crippled nuclear power plant in Japan and could soon leak into the ocean, the country’s nuclear regulator warned on Monday.

    The discovery poses a further setback to efforts to contain the nuclear crisis as workers find themselves in increasingly hazardous conditions.

    In another new finding, Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power station, said late Monday that it had detected an increase in levels of plutonium in soil samples taken from within the compound a week ago, raising fears of yet another dangerous element that may be escaping the crippled reactors.


    All the reported readings are within the normal range of plutonium levels in sediment and soil given by the United States Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. But Tokyo Electric said the highest reading was more than three times the average level found in soil in Japan.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • I saw a video this morning from March 27.

    The narrator basically names the reactors and his orientation as he flies by. No. 3 is the most damaged. At 0:19, you can see the greatest damage on the left. On the right you can see steam rising. I take it that the steam is from the spent fuel pool.

    Considering the energy of the explosion and amount of flying concrete it seems obvious that this explosion came from pressure vessel. I find it hard to escape from concluding that the pressure vessel was destroyed, and that pieces of its fuel assembly litter the site.
    One of the most feared outcomes has already happened! I’ll note that none of the press announcements have described work at this reactor.

    FWIW, I’ll summarize the rest of what I saw.

    At 0:41 you see reactor No. 1, with the metal framework intact. This was reported as a hydrogen explosion, and makes sense.

    At 1:00 you see reactor No. 2. The building is intact; steam is exiting a large rectangular opening on the side of the building.

    At 1:07 you see reactor No. 4. There was obviously a major explosion: the metal framework of the roof is exposed. The red arm of a pump truck is visible, steam is coming off. If there is no fuel in the reactor, the pump is cooling fuel in the spent fuel pool. Another perspective appears at 1:34. Was it a hydrogen explosion here?

    At 1:38 we see No. 2 again. At 1:53 it cuts to No. 3. We see the steam from No. 3; the camera doesn’t look down at the origin of the explosion. Cut back to No. 2. There is some junk strewn on the roof and small holes with steam coming out.

    At 2:30 we cut to No. 4: first a view of boxy green equipment on the right, then the red pump arm on the left. At 2:48 we cut to another angle, a yellow sphere on the left with a large ragged hole.

    At 3:30 we cut back to the destroyed roof of No. 3, seeing steam from the corner of the rectangular pool. Cut to the red pump arm of No. 4, then back to No. 3, a close-up of the mangled mess.

    At 4:06 we see a long rectangular building. Although the title says reactor No. 1, I think it is the common fuel storage building. There are long pieces of metal and concrete fragments scattered about a hole with metal framing across the opening. These fragments suggest the explosion was from inside.

  • You or anyone else can go to my diary and go through each article (my diary) and look at photos – they are attributed as (Image) with a link to the source. In this case, the source is a screen capture that’s all over the internet. So that’s corrected. But you are lying when you say that I don’t attribute photos. The photos that I use are frequently Creative Commons.

    This is a personal attack and I can prove it easily. First, you’re lying about attributions. Second, you don’t make this complaint, or I’ve never seen it (and read a lot of threads here) about anyone else.

    Personal attacks are actually allowed to remain on this site, which i find offensive and discouraging. That’s why I have to write this curt response.

    As for payment, Creative Commons doesn’t require it. Attribution is what they want.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • On a recent post of mine, he castigated me for not paying for Creative Commons photographs. Brilliant. In my response to him on that thread, I pointed out that I attributed the images used with Image and a link to the site. He didn’t show up and complain about your use of the same photo, which illustrates the agitating factor here.

    His statement, the lie, should be removed.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • …constitutes sufficient attribution. Typically when I credit a photo professionally (usually creative commons) I provide a link to the source and specifically acknowledge the individual who took it in the attribution itself, as well as the terms of the creative commons license. The closer it is to the photo (usually as a footer) the better, even though that’s an HTML pain in the tuckus. My understanding is that all of that constitutes best practice, or so my librarian tells me…

    Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent. ~ Pierre Trudeau

  • I have my diary listed. Anyone can go see that in virtually every post there is a link to the or other page for the photo. In this case, the Oil Drum link (where it was posted as an image grab off of a TV tape without attribution) was left out. That was corrected.

    The real issue is that the statement was made that I “never” attribute images. That is a lie and Liquid knows it because I made that clear to him in a previous dialog on his desire to be paid for his photographs (which I have never used). I pointed out that I make attributions to photos. He knows that.

    The issues is that there’s a reply to this article that’s a “big fat lie” to borrow one of Joaquin’s phrases. It needs to go.
    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • Or are there other posters where you do this routine. You know I attribute photos routinely. We had this discussion previously. You complaint then was that I didn’t pay for Creative Commons photos. So, knowing that I attribute images routinely, you raise the stakes by saying that I “never” do that. It’s a like.

    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • We went over this this morning here and on the editors list, please re-read.

    Attribution would be instead of saying “Image” saying the name of the photographer and the source where it came from, not just having a link.

    Ideally this information would be located right underneath the photo, as in a photo caption format, but in the editors list we discussed several other methods for displaying it, and will later make a post about the various coding ways to do it, to make it routine and easy.

  • This misses the point that Liquids reply upthread is a personal attack.

    On a previous thread, Liquid raised the issue of “giving credit” for the Creative Commons photographs/fair use that I post. That was subordinate to his larger point, that I should pay for the photographs.

    I wonder why you talk about such things, but do not give the photographers credit for half the photos you utilized. Basically, you contributed to what you are bitching about. Did you fail to pay a photographer for using his photos? Give the credit and pay the photographer, otherwise you are just part of the problem you are bitching about. If you did, then fine. If you did not, then you just made a contribution to unemployment.

    And don’t give me some BS about Fair Use or some other lame ass argument.

    I like your stories, but your failure to credit photographers is hypocritical with respect to this story about how unemployment is surging. If you are just copying and pasting photos without giving credit, then it is called stealing and you are part of the problem.

    liquid February 21, 2011 – 6:52pm


    I replied at some length pointing out exactly how I do give credit and giving numerous examples of this on The Agonist with links showing that I go out of my way to give crecdit.

    Liquid didn’t reply, you didn’t reply. Nobody replied. There was no clarification of anything and I continued to credit photographers as I had. Now there’s a personal attack and you justify letting that stand by a sudden realization that I don’t follow exactly the guidelines for credit/attribution that are now in place. The belated technicality serves the purpose of allowing the personal attack to stand, it seems.

    Just now you’re taking up the issue, one that you were aware of when the above referenced message was brought to you and the other editor’s attention by me. If you or anyone else doesn’t like how I attribute and give credit, then mention it. But to allow two blatant personal attacks, today’s above, the very first response to my post, and previously, the one referenced here (where I’m accused of “stealing”).

    You reference an editors discussion this a.m. I was not part of that even thought I’m the one attacked and a contributing editor, as it were.

    The Money Party RSS

    They can’t process me. I’m not normal. Charlie Sheen

  • I commented on the possibility of a catastrophic destruction of the pressure vessel of reactor No. 3.

    Listening to the 3/28 press conference at, with a retired nuclear reactor design, they are discussing news that reactors Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are all reported leaking. The water level in the pressure vessels is not rising, and contaminated water is flooding the turbine hall and the ditch below.

    “Where is it leaking from?” Mr. Goto asks. In his training, they studied a couple methods to find leaks. One was to turn off machinery and use the hissing sound a leak to locate it. Another method is to use a soap solution that bubbles where gas leaks out. However those methods aren’t practical in the current high-radiation environment.

    So, explains, we are left at speculating. TEPCO has made no statements aboutthe state of the pressure vessels. There is nothing to ease our worst fears of damage to the containment.

    Most of the pipes for water and steam are on the top half. However on the bottom surface are welded blind pipes for the moderator rods to slide up and down within the fuel assembly. In other words a huge matrix of welds are at the bottom, which would be heated by fallen fuel fragments from damaged fuel rodes. He showed a photo of a next-generation pressure vessel of the same boiling water reactor type. In the rounded bottom, you can see a square array of several hundred holes. These welds are all vulnerable, especially to stresses caused when a hot section of metal is cooled by water and shrinks. This can create cracks.

  • volume of contaminant thereby reducing the storage volume?

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them,and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,or with both~FDouglas

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