Why Fukushima melted down

I think an important clue is in unit 4; the unit that was not in operation at the time of the earthquake and tsunami but blew up anyway. The NRC maintains to this day that a breach of the primary containment is impossible even though we have three possible examples of it happening at Fukushima Daichi in units 1,2,3; we know that at least one of them is leaking core contamination through primary containment into the ground. The thing that is interesting about unit 4 is that they shutdown the reactor and took the partially used nuclear fuel out of the reactor vessel and primary containment and put it in the unprotected spent fuel pool. Now, why is that OK? We must conclude that primary containment is meant for fuel that is undergoing criticality and is unnecessary for fuel that is not critical. Fukushima introduces a number of contradictions to these operational processes.

First, fuel outside of the containment caused an explosion and release radioactivity and there is reason to believe that there was a “critical rearrangement” which is double speak for “small atomic explosion” in the spent fuel pool of unit 3, whence the different kind of explosion and massive damage to unit 3; it seems a hydrogen explosion can provide inertial confinement; who knew? The point is there was no primary containment around this fuel because … we are left to come up with our own guess … it is inconvenient? Impossible to run a plant any other way? What engineer would say this is OK? I would like to hear one explain it to me; right here in this forum: why is it OK to remove used fuel from containment unless it has cooled for at least five years? I am an engineering manager; OK software engineering manager but this is just the kind of thing that management has to push engineers on. How can hot extremely radioactive fuel be taken safely out of primary containment? EVER? The answer is not a surprise when you think about it. The answer is not an engineering answer it is an operational requirement that the fuel be removed or these reactors cannot be practical. What? They put fuel in the reactor and leave it there five years after the reactor shuts down until it is cool enough to store safely? It takes five years of reactor down time to refuel? There would be no nuclear plants unless we take the hot dangerous radioactive fuel out of containment. It’s not an engineering decision it’s a business decision and that’s why every nuclear reactor should be permanently shutdown immediately.

Second, three reactors that melted down and at least one breached primary containment. Let me repeat, “breached primary containment”, what cannot happen, happened. The breach happened even though the fuel was not in a critical arrangement i.e., we are told the reactors shutdown because the fuel rods dropped. Fine, the primary containment could not even contain a non-critical accident. If primary containment is not used for non-critical fuel but it cannot even contain a non-critical accident for which it is supposed to be unnecessary then what is primary containment for? Again, we are left to guess … psychological comfort? Brownie points for a good try? Maybe I am missing something … any nuclear engineers want to help out here?

Third, the whole plant is designed to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake. Curious, so are the California plants. Now why is that? Why not 8 or 9 or 6? The reasoning in both Japan and California is that magnitude 7 is the largest quake possible in that area based on faults near the plant but we know that the California coast could be subject to the same kind and magnitude of quake that hit Fukushima; a 9 not a 7. Why 7 though? We are left to guess … its impractical to engineer for a quake 8 or larger. The energy in those quakes are orders of magnitude larger and so is the cost of engineering the nuclear plant to withstand them so magnitude 7 it was and now we are told, at least with unit 1 that the quake not the tsunami was the cause of the meltdown but there are pictures of cracks in the primary containment of all the units.

Fourth, a similar problem with the siting of the plant vis-a-vi the possible amplitude of a tsunami. Even a 32 meter wall (100 foot) would have been topped by the tsunami at some places along Japan’s coast. Well why a 10 meter wall then? We are left to guess … 32 meters is too expensive? Too impractical?

Nuclear accidents cannot happen. I am learning now the Pacific NW of the USA is possibly contaminated by an accident 8,000 miles away; my home. How long will that go on? How much worse will it get? My son is just a child :(

So you fuckers who work for the industry and have been saying these plants are safe but knowingly compromised the engineering on them along the way; I want to hear from you NOW in this forum. Tell me why we should not shut down every one of these stupid things.

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  • Tell me why we should not shut down every one of these stupid things.

    The radioactive materials need constant cooling, in the reactor and in the spent fuel pond.

    There is nowhere to take or place the fuel after is has decayed somewhat in the spent fuel point.

    There is no “off” for the fuel or the plant. Only on (cooling) and on more (generating power). It is always “hot,” both radioactively and thermally.

    It is inherently unsafe.

    An analogy is a car or truck, where the engine is always running at full power, and to stop, park, or load, constantly needs a driver to step firmly on the brake. That is shutdown requires active, vigilant, constant management – which is no problem because we all know and believe management is competent, vigilant, and always fully in control…

    Shut them down you say? There is no “shut down” condition. That requires safe disposal of the spent fuel, safe disposal of the radioactive containment vessel and steel structure, and safeguarding the site to keep people away from the million of tons of radioactive concrete, for a thousand years.

    Shut down? How?

  • As an engineer (software, not nuclear) I’d have to say that the plant doesn’t seem to be very well designed.

    A lot of the design choices certainly seems beyond comprehensible. Earthquake magnitude and tsunami amplitude design requirements is one obvious problem.

    Another OBVIOUS design problem is that the plant requires constant active intervention (power, cooling water, etc), NOT to explode. That’s just crazy.

    A third obvious design problem seems to be spent rod storage. Storing spent rods high up in a building, in a configuration where they may go critical if no longer covered by water seems very strange indeed.

    It seems extremely obvious that nuclear plants should have at least similar safety standards to say, large buildings containing people (which in general are built to much higher specs in these areas).

    Same with the two other problems. I know modern reactors are built to shutdown safe if there is a lack of intervention, and I suspect handling active spent rods in a more safe manner should not be a major problem either. Grinding them up and mixing them with enough passive materials to be rendered inactive enough to not require cooling is one obvious solution, but there probably are better ways.

    btw, this is not a problem with the plant operator and/or their engineers as much as it is a problem with regulatory oversight. When the government allows people to mess around with nuclear reactions on a massive scale there should be some regulation and oversight, and completely stupid ideas like those mentioned above should not be allowed. Since the Japanese government has obviously allowed this it’s a bit hard to place much blame with the company and engineers that designed this mess. It’s not profitable to build a safe plant if the next guy gets to cut cost massively by building an accident waiting to happen.

    Also, you should not worry to much about the little bit of radiation that arrives over in the US. It may be measurable, but it certainly isn’t dangerous. Radiation is a very natural thing, and every living thing on this planet can tolerate quite a bit of radiation. Except in the immediate areas surrounding places like Chernobyl and Fukushima, people should worry a lot more about things like Radon, which is magnitudes worse, and also easily preventable.

    Personally I grew up in a high fallout area from the Chernobyl disaster, but like all risk you have to consider proportionality, and the radiation from Chernobyl just isn’t on the top 500 list of things to worry about, even if the cows around here still occasionally get their milk discarded due to high radiation levels after grazing in the mountain pastures.

    On the other hand, global warming and energy shortage are very real and imminent risks that are very serious, and for that reason I strongly hope more nuclear power will be built. I’d easily choose a Chernobyl-style accident somewhere every 10 years if that meant we could rid of much of the oil/coal energy we use currently, and nuclear allready has a track record better than that. Btw, did you know that coal and oil plants continuously release huge amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere (much more than nuclear plants)?

  • Regarding the risks of injury due to contamination, I understand a slight increase in probability of cancer due to a fractional increase in background radiation but that is NOT what is happening here. Now, they are measuring a kind of fallout in Seattle that is 50% of what is being measured in Tokyo. It’s the fuel threads mentioned by Mr. Gunderson that are lodging in peoples lung tissue. Under normal circumstances, people are not exposed to this kind of contamination at all.

    Regarding the Spent Fuel, the pools are at the top of these reactors including the similar Westinghouse BWR reactors in the U.S. because there is an operational requirement to move hot fuel between the reactor and the SFP. This is done completely underwater by opening the top of the primary containment and reactor vessel and flooding the top area. The fuel is always submerged even as they move it between the reactor and the SFP; thus, the SFP is at the top of the reactor. This is a response to various operational requirements that I contend make these plants fundamentally unsafe.

    Regarding the bad design at Fukushima, I agree the Japanese have their problems but looking back on the history of these plants I have to think that the original operational requirements for nuclear plants make them all fundamentally flawed because to make them safe would make them impractical to build and operate so there were compromises made. I am sure that the primary containment for all of the plants in the United States are marvels of engineering but they just can’t be made good enough. As another poster here mentioned, you can’t really turn a nuclear power plant off even though all of three plants achieved shutdown “safely” they melted down and all three breached the reactor vessel and at least one but probably all three breached the primary containment.

  • Under normal circumstances, people are not exposed to this kind of contamination at all.

    has a way of pushing systems outside “normal circumstances,” that is, outside design limits. This is called “failure” in engineering.

    Most failures are caused by management imposed “design limits,” otherwise knows as “cost constraints”.

  • Off is not really off just kind of turned down a bit by turning off criticality. The analogy I heard was turning the heat down on a frying pan; it takes longer for the food to burn but the food will eventually burn.

    Can a nuclear plant be made safe such that it does not need constant attention to keep contamination out of the environment? I don’t really know the answer but I think they can be shutdown in a way that limits the chances of contamination to erosion of the containers and dry casks which could take centuries. Still not acceptable but it gives time to research alternatives.

    What I find interesting is that people are willing to listen to the industry talk about breeder reactors and thorium reactors that have dubious or non-existent ways to shutdown criticality; just one of those minor problems, I’m sure there’s a work around.

  • Some engineers are asked to build the safest car possible that can travel 60 miles per hour; injury to its riders is considered unacceptable. The only design the engineers can come up with that meets the requirement has no doors and windows; it’s a steel frame and and cushioning system that has to be built around the passengers who must live out their lives in the car. The whole thing weighs as much as an Abrams tank and get’s one mile per gallon.

    The business people are obviously displeased, there have to be doors and windows and better mileage or the project has to be cancelled. So those compromises are made and you get something that looks like a Subaru.

  • OpEdNews, By Lila York, June 11

    Remember Chandra Levy? Her disappearance following an affair with her congressman was the national obsession in the summer of 2001 – until we awoke one Tuesday morning to see the World Trade Center towers on fire In the summer of 2011 the nation, or at least the nation’s media, seems similarly obsessed with the murder trial of Casey Anthony and the twitter account of a New York congressman. Meanwhile, the crisis at the Fukushima Daichi plant rages on with no resolution in sight and a cold shutdown now projected to be years away.

    Until last week there was an apparent media blackout on the crisis, although some Americans, this writer included, have followed the status of the reactors daily at Energy News and Fairewinds, the website of nuclear energy expert, Arnie Gundersen. The Fukushima reactors were built by General Electric, which also owns Comcast, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC, so the absence of timely information is not surprising. One article early on in the crisis suggested that the reinsurance on Fukushima was held in part by AIG and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, a supposition I cannot substantiate, but that may be true. There is no doubt that we live in a time when corporate profits trump human safety and well-being, and we are seeing that manifest in this current crisis. The best MSM sources for information over these last months have been Bloomberg, online and on television, and The Wall Street Journal, which have tracked the crisis primarily because it affects investment in Japanese companies.

    Last week the Japanese government made startling announcements. Three of the five reactors experienced total meltdowns on March 11th, the day of the initial earthquake, and all three reactors have “melted through” leaky containment vessels, molten masses of melted fuel rods now fissioning on the basement floors of those reactors. The statement further confessed that levels of radiation released from the explosions were actually twice as high as initially reported, blaming the miscalculation on bad math. (Indeed in the days after the March explosions plutonium was discovered on the ground in northern California and tritium in Vermont.) In light of these revelations Arnie Gundersen did an interview on CNN last week, recommending that Americans wash produce thoroughly and stop drinking milk and eating dairy products. He also suggested that any Americans wealthy enough to relocate to the southern hemisphere consider doing so, adding that Seattle residents were inhaling 5 “hot particles” or “fuel fleas” per day in the weeks following the explosions. Democracy Now, Amy Goodman’s radio and television news program, which has not ignored the story over these months, did an extensive update on yesterday’s broadcast.

    Is the Dramatic Increase in Baby Deaths in the US a Result of Fukushima Fallout?

    A 35% Spike in Infant Mortality in Northwest Cities Since Meltdown

    Counterpunch, By Janette D. Sherman, MD & Joseph Mangano, June 10-12

    U.S. babies are dying at an increased rate. While the United States spends billions on medical care, as of 2006, the US ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality, more than twice that of the lowest ranked countries. (DHHS, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics. Health United States 2010, Table 20, p. 131, February 2011.)

    The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:

    4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 – 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week)
    10 weeks ending May 28, 2011 – 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week)

    This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In 2001 the infant mortality was 6.834 per 1000 live births, increasing to 6.845 in 2007. All years from 2002 to 2007 were higher than the 2001 rate.


    Tepco, the corporate owner took more than two months to confirm the meltdowns and admitted lying about the levels of destruction and subsequent contamination, resulting in “Public Distrust.” Over 100,000 tons of radioactive waste [radioactive water] are on the site.

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

  • Just How Many People Showed Up at 6.11 No-Nuke Demonstrations on June 11?

    Even the Japanese MSM had to report the events somewhat, which means the number of participants throughout Japan was probably significant even for the MSM.

    That doesn’t stop them from downplaying the number, though. Just like the US MSM.

    The best (for MSM) coverage goes to Asahi Shinbun, who treated the news of the nationwide events as one of the top news. The article at Asahi has pictures and videos of the protests in various parts of the country, and pins the number of participants as follows:

    20,000 in one demonstration in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, quoting the number by the event organizer;
    200 in Koriyama-City, Fukushima Prefecture.

    No other information on any other events. There were at least 14 events in Tokyo that were carried live on the net. Including the events that weren’t net-casted, there were over 20 events in Tokyo alone. Throughout Japan, the 6.11 No-Nukes site lists 174 events worldwide.

    Via ENE News: 20,000 attend one Tokyo anti-nuclear protest, says organizer — 13 other events across city

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

  • Millions Fewer Girls Born Due to Nuclear Radiation?

    Nuclear radiation from bomb tests and power plant accidents causes slightly more boys than girls to be born, a new study suggests. While effects were seen to be regional for incidents on the ground, like Chernobyl, atmospheric blasts were found to affect birth rates on a global scale.

    The result: Millions fewer females have been born worldwide than would otherwise be expected, researchers estimate. And given Japan’s current nuclear troubles, another boy boomlet could be on the way, experts say. More at the link

    Sexual inequality is “The Mother of all Inequalities”.
    Liberate female sexuality and you will eliminate racism, homophobia, financial greed, and violence.

  • I’m pretty sure there is no dangerous level of radioactivity being measured in Seattle. 50% of the current Tokyo level is a completely normal radiation level. In my town, Oslo, the background radiation is HIGHER than what is being measured in Tokyo.

    If you could provide a source showing the normal radiation level in Seattle, and then data showing a sudden spike related to the Fukushima timeline I’d be more worried. I am not.

    This page shows hourly, live measurements over the last year in Oslo

    Notice that radiation the last year is completely flat/normal. There is a dip in the radiation level over the winter, but I’m sure that is a normal annual variation. No spike after fukushima, just a normal steady rise back to the normal summer level, which seems to be seems to be about 0,12 µSv/h


    If you google the radiation levels in Tokyo you’ll find that the current level there seems to be about 0,08 µSv/h, twice the normal. At the worst point in the crisis it was about 0,30 µSv/h


    So if your claim is correct the radiation level in Seattle is about 0,04 µSv/h, wich is exactly the normal background radiation as Tokyo, and 1/3 the background radiation level in Oslo. I would not be extremely worried.

  • Arnie Gundersen at Fairewinds has been an honest voice throughout this crisis. This weeks video discusses the increased estimate coming out of TEPCO, and how, in fact, most of these had to be “hot” particles. What can be measured in the air, apparantly, doesn’t eminate from this type of particle – they’re much heavier and non-gaseous – yet they were in fact released in abundance – and they’re the most insidious and carcinogenic of all. In Tokyo this month, folks are ingesting (breathing, eating, etc) these particles at the rate of 10/day.

    In Seattle, the rate is only half that.

    PS – hot particles arent found in “background” radiation.


  • Not background radiation but fallout: Hot Particles From Japan to Seattle Virtually Undetectable when Inhaled or Swallowed

    Original estimates of xenon and krypton releases remain the same, but a TEPCO recalculation shows dramatic increases in the release of hot particles. This confirms the results of air filter monitoring by independent scientists. Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen explains how hot particles may react in mammals while escaping traditional detection. Reports of a metallic taste in the mouth, such as those now being reported in Japan and on the west coast, are a telltale sign of radiation exposure.


    Discussions at the Dept. of Nuclear Engineering U.C. Berkeley:

    Cancer causing ‘Hot Particles’ detected in Seattle

    “Hot Particles”

  • I posted a couple of links in response Incy request but from what I gather you have to use a filter to catch the “fuel fleas”. Undetectable by normal radiation monitoring. How nice.

  • It’s roughly 100 metres east of Unit 4.

    “For the most part, when people discuss international law they are using it as a tool in a broader policy debate…. Very few people, it turns out, care about international law for its own sake.” ~ David Bosco

  • A nice google chart:

    What are the symptoms of such a dose:

    0 – 0.25 Sv (0 – 250 mSv): None

    0.25 – 1 Sv (250 – 1000 mSv): Some people feel nausea and loss of appetite; bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen damaged.

    1 – 3 Sv (1000 – 3000 mSv): Mild to severe nausea, loss of appetite, infection; more severe bone marrow, lymph node, spleen damage; recovery probable, not assured.

    3 – 6 Sv (3000 – 6000 mSv): Severe nausea, loss of appetite; hemorrhaging, infection, diarrhea, peeling of skin, sterility; death if untreated.

    6 – 10 Sv (6000 – 10000 mSv): Above symptoms plus central nervous system impairment; death expected.

    Above 10 Sv (10000 mSv): Incapacitation and death.

  • This video does a good job of demonstrating the fact that these particles aren’t in the air.

    But they’re definitely on the ground. Arnie’s recommendation last week was to make sure to take off shoes when going inside (I believe the Japanese already do this as a rule), and naturally, avoid anything grown locally. Most importantly, dont do anything that stirs up dust (building, renovating, etc).

    Presumably, that would include marbles and sandboxes, but maybe Japanese kids dont play with those, either.

  • …”instrument failure”. Why would radiation emissions fluctuate to this extreme in the absence of the instrumentation issues? The other five instruments are showing pretty consistent readings…

    “For the most part, when people discuss international law they are using it as a tool in a broader policy debate…. Very few people, it turns out, care about international law for its own sake.” ~ David Bosco

  • Thanks for providing your source.

    I’ve watched Gundersens assertions, and read through a lot of the comments.

    It seems to me that Gundersen relies on different methodology than other scientists in this field. Also, science papers supporting his assertions doesn’t seem to be quoted/be public.

    This, coupled with results that are VERY different from other measurements make me skeptical to his claims. Given that the claims have extremely serious implications I’d expect these results would have been widely published and peer reviewed, but I find no indication of this (I did not do a wide search).

    btw, I do buy into the idea that ‘hot particles’ do exist and that breathing them in is very probably quite unhealthy. Mostly I’m skeptical to the claim that only this one guy can detect them and all others (including national agencies) can’t. If Gundersen et al would publish how they detect and then others could independently reproduce their results I’d feel much more convinced.

    Here’s a snippet from the comment sections of one of the sources that is indicative:

    You know, I am in Emergency Management in the Seattle Area, and I’ve been keeping close contact with all of the scientists in this area that have been monitoring and filtering, and not one of them then or now has mentioned detecting hot particles, the opposite in fact, quite the opposite, at the time that everyone was discussing a potential fuel rod fire, they were able to confirm that they weren’t receiving the particles they’d expect from it: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/71900/title/Japan_nuke_accident_seen_from_Seattle

    I wrote one of the key ‘scientists monitoring the air on the West Coast’ about this and he literally laughed. If Gunderson has data about 5 particles a day he should share where he got it from so others can verify the data.

  • For example Andreas Knecht, a nuclear and particle physicist from UOW in Seattle. Here’s a quote from the source in the response I quoted above:

    “We haven’t seen any of the heavier stuff that would come right from the core, which people saw 30 years ago during the Chernobyl accident,” says Andreas Knecht, a nuclear and particle physicist at the University of Washington in Seattle who published the new data online March 24 at arXiv.org.

    Starting March 16, Knecht and his colleagues saved and analyzed the air filters that clean 100 million liters of air every day in the ventilation system of the University of Washington’s physics and astronomy building. Using a detector originally designed to spot neutrinos coming from outer space, the researchers searched for gamma rays originating in the by-products of nuclear fission. On March 18, the first nuclear isotopes arrived from Japan.

    Obviously many scientists use a bunch of different types of filters when testing for radiation, it’s the only obviouis way to go about it. Knecht was able to detect 5 different isotopes with his filters, and was also able to conclude that other possible isotopes were absent, so he must have had some conficence he could capture these if present.

    If Gundersen would be so kind to provide some information about the kind of special filters he is using that can detect particles where others fail completely, maybe scientists like Knecht could try to reproduce the results Gundersen is sitting on.

  • At first Tepco claimed it must be a malfunction and took the server offline but put it back online after it appeared to be accurate measurements. It is evidence that nuclear fuel pellets are in the dry well, which we all know to be true.

  • This however looks like charcoal and there is a fire glowing to the right of the pinkish looking debris near the lower middle right edge.

  • He is using data from other researchers. I too have been trying to find out exactly where that data comes from. I know that detecting certain levels of isotopes that are dangerous but 10 particles a day requires a chemistry lab and special sensitive radiation measuring equipment and not a dosimeter.

  • …and stable temperatures, shouldn’t the geometry be stable – determined by the bottom contours of whatever primary / secondary containment the fuel is puddled on?

    “For the most part, when people discuss international law they are using it as a tool in a broader policy debate…. Very few people, it turns out, care about international law for its own sake.” ~ David Bosco

  • Because of the news blackout and the fact that everyone in the nuclear industry has gone completely silent we are left with a very few people reporting the news. I would love to know where Gunderson is getting his data. If there is evidence to the contrary then we need to understand WHY it is different and Gunderson needs to release where he is getting this information.

  • Scientific experts believe Japan’s nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public.

    Al Jazeera, June 16

    “Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

    Japan’s 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

    Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed.

    “Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” he said, “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”


    Dr Ramana expects the plant reactors and fuel cores to be cooled enough for a shutdown within two years.
    “But it is going to take a very long time before the fuel can be removed from the reactor,” he added. “Dealing with the cracking and compromised structure and dealing with radiation in the area will take several years, there’s no question about that.”

    Dr Sawada is not as clear about how long a cold shutdown could take, and said the problem will be “the effects from caesium-137 that remains in the soil and the polluted water around the power station and underground. It will take a year, or more time, to deal with this”.

    Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking radiation.

    “They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid,” he said. “It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it’s going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids.”


    Gundersen believes it will take experts at least ten years to design and implement the plan.

    “So ten to 15 years from now maybe we can say the reactors have been dismantled, and in the meantime you wind up contaminating the water,” Gundersen said. “We are already seeing Strontium [at] 250 times the allowable limits in the water table at Fukushima. Contaminated water tables are incredibly difficult to clean. So I think we will have a contaminated aquifer in the area of the Fukushima site for a long, long time to come.”

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

  • I still don’t have a complete identity of the source but from what Gunderson says it is being done with automobile engine air filters. Drive around for a while and bingo.

  • …himself via good chains (i.e., basically direct). This sounds like pretty constructed data. Knowing the density of hot particles in a given environment is dependent on knowing the total volume of air run through the filter (as well as bunch of other things, but this is a biggie). When “found” auto air filters are used as the collection medium, how do we know that critical measure? I’ve read the source quote attributed to Gunderson and it sounds clear from what says that that is unknowable from the data available.

    “For the most part, when people discuss international law they are using it as a tool in a broader policy debate…. Very few people, it turns out, care about international law for its own sake.” ~ David Bosco

  • Gunderson needs to direct us to his sources although it could be that they are confidential for a good reason. Either way, I really don’t feel confident that I know what is going on.

  • If their are changes in water level, steam, or other neutron absorbing materials, as the water leaks through the container, changes in the fuel geometry as it leaks out of the reactor vessel, or there is criticality which can actively rearrange the fuel.

  • Bloomberg, By Yuriy Humber, Sangim Han & Shinhye Kang, March 25

    Within months of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the worst in 25 years, Germany, Belgium and Italy vowed to quit atomic energy. Twelve months on, the nuclear industry says it’s almost back to business as usual.

    “Fukushima put a speed bump on the road to the nuclear renaissance,” Ganpat Mani, president of Converdyn, a company that processes mined uranium, said at a nuclear industry summit in Seoul last week. “It’s not going to delay the programs around the world.”

    As Japan mourned this month for the 19,000 people killed or presumed dead from the earthquake and tsunami that also wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station, India last week overrode six months of local protests to approve the start of its Kudankulam plant. In February, the U.S. gave the green light to build the nation’s first reactor in 30 years. China is “very likely” to resume approval of new nuclear projects this year, said Sun Qin, president of China National Nuclear Corp.

    With 650 million people in China and India living without access to electricity, the nations are looking to the atom to provide power without raising emissions and fossil fuel costs. Nuclear is not the only alternative to fossil fuels, but the use of renewable energy for now is restricted by technology and costs, according to South Korea’s Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik.

  • …exceeded their definition of traffic calming measures.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Forbes.com, By Jeff McMahon, March 29

    Nuclear power is no longer an economically viable source of new energy in the United States, the freshly-retired CEO of Exelon, America’s largest producer of nuclear power, said in Chicago Thursday.

    And it won’t become economically viable, he said, for the forseeable future.

    “Let me state unequivocably that I’ve never met a nuclear plant I didn’t like,” said John Rowe, who retired 17 days ago as chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, which operates 22 nuclear power plants, more than any other utility in the United States.

    “Having said that, let me also state unequivocably that new ones don’t make any sense right now.”

    Speaking to about 5o people at the University of Chicago‘s Harris School of Public Policy, Rowe presented a series of slides comparing the economic viability of various energy portfolios, including the “King Coal” scenario favored by Republicans, the “Big Wind” scenario favored by Democrats, and a “Playing Favorites” scenario that shuffles and selects from various energy sources.

    All were trumped by a portfolio that relies heavily on America’s sudden abundance of natural gas, which has flooded the market since the boom in hydraulic fracturing of shale gas. Natural gas futures dropped to a 10-year low today—$2.15 for 1,000 cubic feet—on abundant supply, the Associated Press reported.

    “I’m the nuclear guy,” Rowe said. “And you won’t get better results with nuclear. It just isn’t economic, and it’s not economic within a foreseeable time frame.”

    Expert: Nuclear Power Is On Its Deathbed

    US News & World Report, By Jason Koebler, March 30

    A new report from a University of Vermont researcher says the cost of the safety measures needed for nuclear energy will eventually make the power source economically unviable

    After the Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan last year, the rising costs of nuclear energy could deliver a knockout punch to its future use in the United States, according to a researcher at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment.

    “From my point of view, the fundamental nature of [nuclear] technology suggests that the future will be as clouded as the past,” says Mark Cooper, the author of the report. New safety regulations enacted or being considered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would push the cost of nuclear energy too high to be economically competitive.

    The disaster insurance for nuclear power plants in the United States is currently underwritten by the federal government, Cooper says. Without that safeguard, “nuclear power is neither affordable nor worth the risk. If the owners and operators of nuclear reactors had to face the full liability of a Fukushima-style nuclear accident or go head-to-head with alternatives in a truly competitive marketplace, unfettered by subsidies, no one would have built a nuclear reactor in the past, no one would build one today, and anyone who owns a reactor would exit the nuclear business as quickly as possible.”

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