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Old 03-12-2011, 06:55 PM   #41
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Reactor 3's cooling systems have failed. They have now started to release steam from it.
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:08 PM   #42
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I just looked up the trade-wind patterns from Asia to the West Coast. There is a straight shot from Japan toward Canada, and then down the entire West Coast, before looping back toward SW Asia and North again to Japan. Right now I am seeking more clarity, and am mildly concerned.

I don't trust that there won't be a meltdown - or, that there will.
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:14 PM   #43
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I don't trust that there won't be a meltdown - or, that there will.
Much of Western Europe took a direct hit from the Chernobyl fallout and, 25 years on, it seems like the effects were greatly over-stated. (Of course, at the time, we were all lied to - especially in France, where the cloud officially stopped at the border, but then with 70% of French electricity coming from nuclear sources, the government probably didn't fell able to knock it.)
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:14 PM   #44
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We've got free access to Japanese news on our tv until the 17th of this month. Unfortunately there are no subtitles.

Ahhhhh....so sad and scary.
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:57 PM   #45
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When I see people going through horrific events like we are seeing in Japan, it really gives me perspective on how trivial our day-to-day problems are.
I've been visiting the Red Cross site for updates on search-and-rescue and aid efforts. I got a good feeling about those airline miles I donated to the Red Cross a few months ago. I hope they are being used.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:10 AM   #46
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Reassuring: this article seriously downplays risks from the nuclear issues:
https://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com/2...lear-reactors/
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:15 AM   #47
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Reassuring: this article seriously downplays risks from the nuclear issues:
https://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com/2...lear-reactors/
I've heard the belief is that the major nuclear fallout risk is minimal, but still... I'm not an enemy of nuclear power in the general case, but I lived in California long enough to question the wisdom of a nuke plant in earthquake country, especially having been five miles from the epicenter of the 1989 quake there. And this one, if it remains classified as 8.9, is about 100 times stronger than the '89 quake in CA.
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Old 03-13-2011, 10:52 AM   #48
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Reassuring: this article seriously downplays risks from the nuclear issues:
https://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com/2...lear-reactors/
Here is another good article at one of the sites linked on your original blog post.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS...s_1203111.html

It is very hard for me to understand much of what is going on, but it appears that for sure this is no Chernobyl, and it is likely no Three Mile Island either.

It appears that many of the Japanese citizens interviewed are somewhat sceptical that they are getting the whole story, but this may of may not mean anything. Some people are always frightened and suspicious about events like this, and often but not always their scepticism is warranted.

Ha
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:43 AM   #49
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Just horrified by this. Words can not express...and am praying for all.
Am watching what is unfolding with the nuclear reactors.

For all Japanese friends... as a suggestion and if you have not already done so....please see if you are able to get your hands on some iodine tablets or liquid iodine pharmaceutical grade. It will protect your thyroid...preventing or limiting any radiation uptake. Disclaimer: Please talk to your doctor or medical personnel about this prior to taking... regarding dosing and timing.
In the event you can not get your hands on any...eat as much fish and shell fish as possible as the iodine in it...will also help.

Stay as safe as possible.
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Old 03-13-2011, 12:31 PM   #50
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I can't imagine being one of those engineers working on saving those damaged reactors. Not only are their own lives on the line but they know that if they're not successful, then who knows how many people may die and how many more may die early deaths due to radiation exposure. Talk about working under pressure.

They had prepared for earthquakes such that when they lost power the generators were there to provide backup power but then the generators were taken out by the tsunami. An awful one-two punch.

I'm rooting for these people working under extreme pressure at a time when most of the infrastructure for many, many miles around them has been destroyed.
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:10 PM   #51
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I spent 18 years in the control room operating a nuke plant. The guys there are dealing with consequences of multiple events that are outside the realm of what anybody thought was probable The good news is that even when you are out in uncharted territory there are still processes, procedures and a world full of expertise to draw on. It is a very serious situation and I pray that they are able to keep the reactor pressure vessel intact.

Billions of dollars of power plant becoming scrap metal right now.
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:22 PM   #52
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I've been disappointed, but not too surprised, at the lack of good technical reporting about what is going on at the reactors.

Thanks for the previous links to more detailed reports.

This site was also useful to me. The author obviously is sympathetic to the nuclear power industry, but I don't think it detracts from the technical aspects of the report.

This event is going to set us back years in reestablishing safe nuclear power in the US. It doesn't matter that other designs (pebble-bed, etc) are "walk-away safe", or that this mess might actually prove how good the containment designs are. The number of people killed mining coal and the environmental damage caused by any power generation will be swept aside by emotion, I'm afraid.
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Old 03-13-2011, 02:16 PM   #53
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This event is going to set us back years in reestablishing safe nuclear power in the US. It doesn't matter that other designs (pebble-bed, etc) are "walk-away safe", or that this mess might actually prove how good the containment designs are. The number of people killed mining coal and the environmental damage caused by any power generation will be swept aside by emotion, I'm afraid.
There ya go.......

Yep, sensationalistic journalism coupled with emotional reaction leads us to most of our decisions regarding public policy.

One airplane crashes and 150 folks are killed. Big deal. Investigate. Make changes. Etc.

400+ folks die in auto crash fatalities on a holiday weekend, many due to drunk driving. Yawn.
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Old 03-13-2011, 02:32 PM   #54
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Received the following letter from a friend of ours with experience in the nuke industry. Not that it erased all my concerns because we could run into something completely new in this disaster. Here's his letter to us today:

"With over 32 years of experience in operations and maintenance in the nuclear power business, including the cleanup of Three Mile Island, this is being way overblown, thanks to the media as usual. In this connection, the total amnount of radiation released from TMI amounted to one x-ray per person and that was after a significant meltdown from decay heat only hours after shutdown. In Japan, the longer they prevent meltdown from occurring, the lower the decay heat. I don't mean to minimize the dangers they face over there but taking Iodine pills on the Pacific coast is way off the deep end".

Even this letter doesn't release all the fears for me. We may be far removed, but what about the people in Japan? They will have consequences for years to come.
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:02 PM   #55
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And remember that the Richter scale is logarithmic - a 9.0 is ten times more powerful than an 8.0, one-hundred times more powerful than a 7.0, and so on.
Just to nitpick ...

A magnitude difference of 1 on the "Richter Scale" actually translates to a difference of about 32 (10^1.5) in total earthquake energy or power. So for example, the 2011 Sendai earthquake (M8.9) was 1000 times more powerful than the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (M6.9).

The original Richter scale was developed by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg using relatively small earthquakes from southern California. This was based on measuring the amplitude of ground shaking as a function of distance from earthquakes. Using this scale, often referred to as the local magnitude scale, the amplitude of ground shaking for a magnitude 5 earthquake is 10 times larger than that for a magnitude 4 earthquake.

But the amplitude of shaking doesn't increase much for larger earthquakes (say, greater than magnitude 6). Other magnitude scales were developed to assess the size of larger earthquakes, sometimes using different types of seismic waves such as waves traveling along the surface of the earth. But these methods also had drawbacks.

In 1979, Thomas Hanks and Hiroo Kanamori developed what is known as the Moment Magnitude Scale (often called Mw). It is a true measure of the size or energy of an earthquake. The 8.9 (or 9.0) magnitude of the recent earthquake in Japan is based on this scale (this earthquake might have a magnitude of only 6.5 or 7 using the original Richter scale). The specific equation from Hanks and Kanamori is

Mw = Log(Mo)/1.5 - 10.3

where Mo is the "moment" of the earthquake in units of dyne-cm (energy). The moment or total energy is computed by multiplying the area of fault rupture times the slip (distance one side of the fault moves relative to the other side) times the rigidity (strength of the rock along the fault). Mw is still tied to the Richter scale, although it has different implications from the original Richter scale (e.g., 32 factor difference in total energy, not 10, for a difference of 1 in magnitude). Probably more than anyone wants to know.

A key point, though, is that the ground shaking for a very large earthquake (M8.9) is not necessarily stronger than the ground shaking for a more moderate event (M6.9) (although the shaking tends to last longer for the larger event). For the most part, a M8.9 earthquake is larger because it occurs over a greater geographical area (in addition to other factors, such as type of earthquake).
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:17 PM   #56
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I've been disappointed, but not too surprised, at the lack of good technical reporting about what is going on at the reactors.

Thanks for the previous links to more detailed reports.

This site was also useful to me. The author obviously is sympathetic to the nuclear power industry, but I don't think it detracts from the technical aspects of the report.

This event is going to set us back years in reestablishing safe nuclear power in the US. It doesn't matter that other designs (pebble-bed, etc) are "walk-away safe", or that this mess might actually prove how good the containment designs are. The number of people killed mining coal and the environmental damage caused by any power generation will be swept aside by emotion, I'm afraid.
Thanks for the link Samclem. As I think I may have previously mentioned here, before I went to law school in 1989, I was an engineer at a nuclear plant. I certified as a Senior Reactor Operator on the General Electric BWR-6 boiling water reactor, which is an upgraded version of the Japanese plant having the problems now. Prior to that I was a Navy nuke (submarines).

The report you linked to is excellently written for a general, non-technical audience. Based on what I have read, it appears that the zirconium cladding was breached at the Japanese plant, since the fission product cesium was detected. As the author notes, however, the zirconium alloy cladding melts at a lower temperature than the fuel itself, so the fuel may or may not have melted. In any event, it does not appear the reactor vessel has been breached. If they have been able to inject water (seawater or otherwise) and can keep injecting, it is unlikely that the situation will get any worse as far as fuel melt goes.

To place things in perspective, in the Three Mile Island accident, the fuel actually did melt down, although it did not breach the reactor vessel. There was a comparable small atmospheric release. As far as I know, there were no immediate or long term health effects suffered by even the people who were located immediately downwind in Pennsylvania.
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:35 PM   #57
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Just to nitpick ...

A magnitude difference of 1 on the "Richter Scale" actually translates to a difference of about 32 (10^1.5) in total earthquake energy or power. So for example, the 2011 Sendai earthquake (M8.9) was 1000 times more powerful than the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (M6.9). ...
Thanks for the correction and full explanation. I should have looked it up, I was just going by my recollection of general comments that it was logarithmic.

On nuclear safety in general - I do find it hard to imagine how you would build such a large plant to withstand these kinds of disasters. I did re-read a bit on the pebble-bed reactors, I feel much better with something like that since it tends to shut down on its own if you lose power. But there seem to be faults that can occur with the construction of the 'pebbles' themselves (described as the size of a tennis ball). The coatings can get breached or damaged in other ways. But that was just a quick skim of some articles on wiki - probably no more accurate than my description of the Richter scale! But something like that.

-ERD50
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:39 PM   #58
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We have found this station provides a more detailed and less US/biased viewpoint of this disaster:

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/r/movie/

NHK news
it's a japanese/english news station
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Old 03-13-2011, 04:15 PM   #59
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A key point, though, is that the ground shaking for a very large earthquake (M8.9) is not necessarily stronger than the ground shaking for a more moderate event (M6.9) (although the shaking tends to last longer for the larger event). For the most part, a M8.9 earthquake is larger because it occurs over a greater geographical area (in addition to other factors, such as type of earthquake).
That's why the public characterizations of structural earthquake safety always seem lacking to me. When they say that this dam/hospital/school/nuclear site has been built to withstand an earthquake of X on the Richter scale, it doesn't tell us much. How far away? I'm sure the actual engineering accounts for various types of lateral/vertical acceleration and displacement over a stated period, and maybe that can be roughly associated with a quake size/type at a certain distance, but we never hear about that.

People are already saying the problems at the Japanese reactor are proving the design was inadequate. I don't see it that way. It has certainly shown where some improvements might be made (more redundancy in provision of core cooling) but has the containment been breached?

A cement truck plows into a car. The crumple zones compress in a controlled manner, the hood-hooks stop the hood from coming into the passenger compartment, the shoulder harness tensioners keep the occupant in place, the airbags inflate to reduce the acceleration of the occupants, the electrical system deactivates to reduce risk of fire, etc. The entire "defense in depth" works. Do we say the car engineering failed because the car is totaled and the driver is bruised?
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Old 03-13-2011, 04:20 PM   #60
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It has certainly shown where some improvements might be made (more redundancy in provision of core cooling) but has the containment been breached?
Those improvements have been made. The BWR-6 design, one of which you have right there in Ohio, is a substantial improvement with respect to emergency core cooling and containment. Don't forget that Fukishima #1 is a 40+ year old plant.
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