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Robert X Cringely Predicts More Mininuke Plants

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the make-them-bouncy-and-floaty dept.

Earth 430

LandGator writes "PC pundit Robert X Cringely had a life before writing 'Triumph of the Nerds' for PBS: He covered the atomics industry and reported on Three Mile Island. In this blog post, he analyzes the Fukushima reactor failures, and suggests the end result will be a rapid growth in small, sealed 'package' nuclear reactors such as the Toshiba 4S generator considered for Galena, Alaska. He thinks Japan may have little choice, and with rolling blackouts scheduled, he may be right."

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The only good thing to come from this quake: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498592)

Less Anime and all it's variations of.

Re:The only good thing to come from this quake: (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498878)

no, but there'll be more anime with earthquakes.

i hope there's no drop in anime levels - that shit puts bread on my table. it's okay so long as you don't watch it, and ever now and then there's a good series.

Phillistine: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498896)

I sentence you to be perpetually mobbed by annoying talking animal anime sidekicks.

I'd have said the AFLAC duck, but they fired him.

So Solly Fo Wadiation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499146)

You Raff You Ruse!! [wordpress.com]

I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone els (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498620)

I'd be fine with it. I think it's a way to go.

But nuclear power still has the stigma of Chernobyl. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is going to scream NO at the top of their lungs and most will probably point at Japan's current situation and say "You see why it's a bad idea".

Again, I'm all for more nuke plants. It's cleaner than coal, and going heavily into solar + wind is a pipe dream. Instead of pumping tons of crud into the air I'm fine with some barrels of toxic waste so long as they don't cut costs on the storage.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (4, Interesting)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498644)

It's funny because what is happening in Japan is exactly why Nuclear Power is SAFE!

An earthquake 7 times more powerful than the biggest it was built for hit, and all that happened to the reactors that didn't shut down cleanly was a small amount of radioactive noble gases, which decay within minutes. Even if the cores DO melt, they're safely contained in ... wait for it... containment chambers!

People don't realize the amount of engineering that goes into nuclear to make it safe.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498660)

It's funny because what is happening in Japan is exactly why Nuclear Power is SAFE!

An earthquake 7 times more powerful than the biggest it was built for hit, and all that happened to the reactors that didn't shut down cleanly was a small amount of radioactive noble gases, which decay within minutes. Even if the cores DO melt, they're safely contained in ... wait for it... containment chambers!

People don't realize the amount of engineering that goes into nuclear to make it safe.

Hey, I know it. But Joe Sixpack is gonna say "But look at their problems now, I don't want that here." Bla bla bla

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498782)

Hey, I know it. But Joe Sixpack is gonna say "But look at their problems now, I don't want that here." Bla bla bla

And that's a completely appropriate response. When weighing the pros and cons of nuclear energy, it's crucial to ask yourself if you are personally willing to live next to a nuclear dump. Otherwise you're really weighing the pros (for you) against the cons (for someone else), which is like apples and oranges.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498894)

ask any Victorian about their willingness to live near Hazelwood (note: Moe is near there...)

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498926)

A nuclear dump? Well I wouldn't want piles of crap sitting around in a vacant lot, but if it was miles below ground I wouldn't have a problem with it. And if I was next to a nuke plant instead of a coal plant, I'd get less radiation...

So yeah I'd be happy to live near one. But I'm also reasonably intelligent, and understand pretty well what sort of dangers there are and how they're addressed by safety features and the design of the facility.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499010)

Experience in France and Germany is that property prices near the reactors actually go *up*, not down. People move into the areas around them because of the cheap supply of hot water - it's a pretty big saving on your yearly energy bills.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

moxsam (917470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499254)

That's either a lie or a weird joke. In France and Germany you do not buy hot water from nuclear plants. Almost everyone heats up their water in their home using central heating that runs on gas.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499420)

I think it's conceivable that close to nuclear power plants that generate lots of waste heat, they may use that heat for houses, even if they don't do so far away from nuclear power plants. Especially because that is done elsewhere in Europe even with conventional power plants that also generate waste heat.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499320)

Are you personally willing to live next to a toxic waste dump from a coal fired plant or a petroleum refinery or even a solar panel manufacturing plant? There's this think about the word "nuclear" that makes people automatically assume the worst.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

moxsam (917470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499350)

I live near 5 nuclear plants (120km radius), of which one (KKW Stade) has been taken off the net a few years back. Now my government is going to shut down two more plants (Krümmel and Brunsbüttel) because of the INES 6 event in Fukushima. And I can tell you that with each reactor shutting down I feel more relieved.

The big irony is that it's going to make no difference to the supply of electric energy in my country. That's all bullshit lies. Germany is going to export a little less electricty to other countries now. Which means the electricity cartel is making a little less money. Crocodile's tears.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498798)

Joe Sixpack should also look at the current mess in Libya and Bahrain. Count the number of lives lost there and compare that to the number of lives lost to the reactors in Japan. How many lives have been lost in wars over oil? Tell me again which energy source is a better choice?

At the end of the day, we can learn from what's happening in Japan and build even better reactors. What can be done about the despots ruling oil rich countries?

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

black6host (469985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499342)

"At the end of the day, we can learn from what's happening in Japan and build even better reactors. What can be done about the despots ruling oil rich countries?"

Without a doubt. The Toshiba reactor is the same or related to one written about in a fairly recent issue of National Geographic (within last 12 months.) There was another type int that article as well, and both had different benefits, wish I could drag up a link or two. Point is, these technologies, old and new, are built to run for a long time. So what happens is, before older reactors fail we have come up with so many better designs. Time marches on, technology improves. But, suppliers of power aren't going to EOL plants prematurely unless there is significant monetary gain, or as in this case, there is no better choice.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499004)

Hey, I know it. But Joe Sixpack is gonna say "But look at their problems now, I don't want that here."

I know. How stupid that "Joe Sixpack" would not want what's happening at the Japanese reactors to happen here.

Even if the cores DO melt, they're safely contained in ... wait for it... containment chamber!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the primary...wait for it...containment chambers! in the No 2 Fukushima reactor has been breached. Not because of the earthquake (if I'm reading this correctly) but because of the tsunami which overwhelmed the cooling systems causing the fuel to be exposed to air, causing a hydrogen explosion. That's what caused the mini-mushroom cloud that the Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier. But that couldn't happen here because the corporations that build our nuclear plants would never cut any corners on safety because the "free market" insures that every possible safety measure has been taken.

Personally, I'm going to wait a few months and then eat a bunch of imported Japanese pickles. Maybe I'll get superpowers.

Seriously, I don't have much of an opinion one way or the other about nuclear power. But it bothers me when I hear proponents ridiculing "Joe Sixpack" for being a little alarmed about fuel rods exposed to the atmosphere and breaches in...wait for it...containment chambers!

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (3, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499238)

But that couldn't happen here because the corporations that build our nuclear plants would never cut any corners on safety because the "free market" insures that every possible safety measure has been taken.

Your sarcasm is well placed. The BWR design with a pressure-supression pool was designed so that a weaker containment system could be built as a, you guessed it, cost cutting measure. This design was been questioned in 1972 by S.H. Hanauer. [nytimes.com] Of course, because of the weaker design and the requirement for many valves and backup valves (which are notoriously unreliable), Hanauer concluded that costs are probably about the same as the safer dry containment system.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499430)

Your sarcasm is well placed.

Well, that's a first. But thank you anyway.

Hydrogen explosions (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499252)

What I'd been reading about was damage to the buildings that keep the rain off the containment structure, not to the containment structure itself.

Which of course may have changed by now, and the press coverage is execrable.

Has anyone found a news source covering the incidents that even makes sense?

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499336)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the primary...wait for it...containment chambers! in the No 2 Fukushima reactor has been breached. Not because of the earthquake (if I'm reading this correctly) but because of the tsunami which overwhelmed the cooling systems causing the fuel to be exposed to air, causing a hydrogen explosion.

Negative.

That was the secondary containment chamber that was breached. Lots of hydrogen built up between the primary and secondary chambers, it ignited and exploded.

The primaries is still OK. (Well, maybe not. They lost some pressure in the one of the reactor's primary containment, and they're trying to figure out whether that meant a leak.)

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499366)

Containment breach does not automatically equal massive catastrophe for miles in all directions. It's a bad deal but it's not the worst thing that has happened due to this earthquake. I know we shouldn't ridicule Joe Sixpack (he may be president someday), but the "general public" has a tendency to assume that any nuclear disaster is just like Chernobyl, and we still have members of the general public who don't see much difference between Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499282)

In all seriousness Joe Six Pack is right.

Wahoo it survived the earthquake! But whats next? Did it survive the tsunami? What about the backup systems? Why isn't the sea water working? etc.

A coal plant may rupture and start a big fire but it wont leak radiation and stay hot after a shutdown. It wont have the same hazards as a nuclear power plant. I know Nuclear power is supported generally on slashdot but these problems are real.

No it is not SAFE as workers would not be risking their lives preventing meltdowns if it were.

The fires right now seem to be started by used rods in a pool where the water is boiling away due to the lack of a cooling system. Nuclear power is simply more dangerous. Yes, great advances in technology has happened but the same was true with deep sea drilling. I was in favor of it and still am with proper regulations. We found out bad management and anything that is more dangerous is still vulnerable as technology does not solve all the problems but rather hides the symptoms and gives a false sense of security.

You can not advert risk by simply creating backup procedures and using technology. You reduce them but they are always still there vs the alternatives

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498670)

This actually doesn't seem to be the case. There are some indications of radioactive cesium and iodine [cnn.com] .

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498702)

There are some indications of radioactive cesium and iodine.

Yeah, great. "Some indications" is evidence enough to make them want to shutdown nuclear power entirely, while overwhelming evidence for catastrophic global warming is disputed as "unconfirmed" or something like that.

If the same criteria were used for CO2 generation as is used for nuclear power, burning fossil fuels would have been outlawed long ago.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499018)

Let's not forget things like mercury emission - we only so far managed to pollute most lakes and oceans with coal-sourced mercury. This is actually why governments say to use mercury-containing CFS (compact fluorescent lights), because they will emit less mercury via accidental breakage or dumping of them at landfill, than a regular bulb results in emissions at a coal power plant to supply it.

We are talking tons of mercury vapors emitted every single year. Hell, I remember that most polluted areas of some countries have mercury index for outside air!!! I'd take nuclear with its problems over inability to breathe and guaranteed early death. Cleanest air in Europe is in France for a reason. China, of course, will be building their 160 nuclear power plants, maybe more. 100+ will be passively safe and many orders of magnitude safer than current designs in operation around western world. It is up to the western world if they want safe, secure energy, or rely on the Saudi prince to be kind enough to sell them some.

And of course you are correct w.r.t. CO2 and global meltdown. CO2 is resulting in a meltdown that will affect generations and hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people. Some of us are just too narrow minded to see it.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499054)

If the same criteria were used for CO2 generation as is used for nuclear power, burning fossil fuels would have been outlawed long ago.

What!? Are you telling the that CO2 is radioactive, too? Oh crap, something else for me to worry about...

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499096)

If the same criteria were used for CO2 generation as is used for nuclear power, burning fossil fuels would have been outlawed long ago.

What!? Are you telling the that CO2 is radioactive, too? Oh crap, something else for me to worry about...

No but the uranium and thorium found in the coal and which gets sent up into the air with the smoke from burning coal is...

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498698)

The book hasn't been closed on what is unfolding currently in Japan. Currently there are serious concerns regarding the spent fuel pools in reactors 4,5, and 6, which were offline during the earthquake. These spent fuel pools do not have the same level of containment and could be problematic. This is by no means something I think people should use to stop nuclear power. I think we should look at it and determine exactly what plant designs were good, bad, and completely terrible. An incident like this should allow us to get BETTER nuclear power and not throw away a valuable technology.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499140)

This is by no means something I think people should use to stop nuclear power.

I agree, but can we please maybe put all the unemployed NASA folks in charge of nuclear power instead of the corporations? I'm not so much worried about nuclear power as I am about the same energy corporations who have demanded a cap on liability being in charge of it. And none of this "regulators who used to work for the power industry and who will again work for the power industry when they leave government" crap. I want civil engineers, who are paid by taxpayers and are not being pressured by ownership to skip a few steps to save a few bucks on safety measures. It's one of those areas where I'm OK with a little of that horrible "inefficiency of government" doing the job instead of a "lean and mean" multinational.

Energy is too important to leave in the hands of private industry. Like health care. And education. And national defense. And drug safety. And social security. I'm OK with private industry taking a crack at everything else. If they promise to be good, and none of this "liability cap" and "subsidy" nonsense.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499386)

Wow are you really an American? You're views seem far too balanced and with a distinct lack of over-simplification. I'd mod you insightful but I don't have any mod points =(

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (5, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498712)

Wow, you have a direct feed from the Crack News Network or something?

Puzzle me this, if only radioactive noble gasses were emitted, why did the Ronald Reagan have to move even though it is miles off shore? Why was there a spike of radioactivity in Tokyo, a couple hundred miles away -- are the winds really traveling 240km per couple minutes? What about the breach in in the containment of reactor two?

More interestingly, what about the torus half full of water under the reactor -- will the building withstand a steam explosion when the core at some thousands of degrees hits that level, breaches the container, and releases the water? That's a big question that the US Atomic Energy Commission first asked in 1972. [nytimes.com] Cited from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16contain.html [nytimes.com]

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1, Insightful)

vakuona (788200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498754)

Would you really want to be the President who left his warship close to a nuclear incident and have to explain that to a hostile congress, even if nothing came of it. People don't understand nuclear power. They aren't going to understand that the ship was very safe, therefore it is political madness to leave it there.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498860)

It isn't very safe. Read the 1972 memo by US Atomic Energy Commision member, S. H. Hanauer [nytimes.com] (who appears to have at least one published article under his belt, albeit old ( http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PR/v124/i5/p1512_1 [aps.org] ). His conclusion about this type of reactor design:

Recent events have highlighted the safety disadvantages of pressure-suppression containments. ... If some unexpected event should result in steam generation or flow greater than the suppression capability, then the steam that is not condensed would add an increment to containment pressure. Since the objective of the of pressure suppression is to permit the use of smaller containment, rated at lower pressure than would be required without suppression, then incomplete suppression would lead to overpressurizing a pressure-suppression containment so designed.

Basically, the only advantage reactors like this have over dry-containment, is that they are cheaper to build at the outset, but probably end up costing as much as dry containment systems.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499354)

Funny, I had seen headlines about this, but now that I see it, it is a memo? 4 pages and ample whitespace? "Pressure containment. Bad Idea, Methinks"

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499080)

The President had nothing to do with the carrier moving. If the Reagan's captain feels it is unsafe he/she dictates where the ship goes. The President may set the goal - 'go to Japan and assist' - for example. The execution is left to commanders.

If the President is standing on the bridge of the Regan, he cannot direct the operation of the ship whatsoever.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499392)

The Reagan moved because some personnel were exposed to radiation. The news I saw said they got about the equivalent of 1 month of 'normal' background exposure.

So they moved because of the exposure, which seems prudent, but it makes sense to move something that can move away from pretty much any increase of radiation, so it doesn't really give much information.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498738)

And another thing -- what kind of containment is there for the spent fuel pool? You know, the one that's on fire AGAIN.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498804)

It went out on its own.

Better luck next time.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498970)

No one knows if it is out -- what they know is that flames aren't coming out the side of the building right now, though that has happened twice. What is clear is that there is a lot of material in the pool and if it loses its water, that material will be exposed to air. The last time officials said anything about the pool, they said water temperature was in the 80s (C) -- about double what it is supposed to be (I heard this when streaming NHK last night so I don't have a link). And of course, there is no containment at all in reactors 1 & 3 for the spent fuel (roofs blown off), plus probable breaches in #4 if flames were visible from the outside. As for what passes for "containment" of the spent fuel pools: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0315/Meltdown-101-What-are-spent-fuel-pools-and-why-are-they-a-threat [csmonitor.com]

Spent-fuel pools shielded only by outer reactor building

Spent-fuel pools at the plant sit in the upper reaches of the reactor buildings, near the top of the reactors so cranes have easy access to load and unload fuel. ... As a result, under the right conditions, the spent-fuel pools at the plant potentially pose as large a threat of environmental contamination - if breached - as the multiply-shielded reactor cores themselves. In particular, two of the reactors - No. 1 and No. 3 - have experienced explosions that blew holes in their roofs and upper levels.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498858)

Yes They survived the earthquake fine. The Tsunami is what caused the problems.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (5, Insightful)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498996)

I'm pro-nuclear but i'm sick of this downplaying bullshit. Reactors that require actively powered safety systems ARE flawed.

This entire crises we have had absolute dickheads claiming that the radiation levels are safe at a time when people in the immediate vicinity are being encouraged to evacuate by the authorities. There is a radiation leak. This is a fact. Up to 400mSv/h near the reactor has been confirmed (noticable radiation sickness will happen at 800 and above, but 400 is still very, very dangerous). People need to be acknowledging that fact. Much smaller than Chernobyl but there's no reason to downplay it. There are some heroes right now working in the irradiated zone trying to keep things under control. There are people in the immediate area who should leave for the next few days.

Assholes like the guy who wrote the following "even if you were standing at the top of the cooling tower you would be fine" and "fukushima is currently safe and will stay safe" should be sent to help maintain the reactors without any protective suit. Link: http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/ [bravenewclimate.com]

Enough with the downplaying. The design WAS flawed. People ARE risking their lives to contain it. We should learn from this.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (4, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499114)

Let me preface this by saying I'm pro-nuclear.

An earthquake 7 times more powerful than the biggest it was built for hit, and all that happened to the reactors that didn't shut down cleanly was a small amount of radioactive noble gases, which decay within minutes. Even if the cores DO melt, they're safely contained in ... wait for it... containment chambers!

You've vastly oversimplified what's going on. First of all, it's pretty clear that the first level of containment (the zirco-alloy cladding on the fuel) has failed. There's been radioactive iodine and cesium detected outside the plant, indicating the fuel rods have at least partially melted.

Those two can get outside the primary containment vessel because their primary cooling system is broken. Normally there are two water loops to keep the core cool. The inner water loop is a closed system which carries heat from the core to a heat exchanger. There the heat gets transferred to an outer water loop (ocean water in this case), which does the actual cooling. The inner loop water never leaves the plant, and thus not even the radioactive tritium which gets formed leaves the plant.

When the electrical systems and backups failed, that cooling system ceased to function. The only way they have to cool the core right now is to directly vent the water surrounding the core. Vent the steam, lower the pressure, cool the core. Best case you're releasing radioactive tritium. But since the rods have melted, the water is now in direct contact with the uranium fuel and fission products. That's where the radioactive iodine and cesium come from. Iodine is gaseous (so escapes along with the venting), and cesium is water soluble.

That's where we were at yesterday. It rated a 5 on the INES nuclear safety scale [iaea.org] , which was the same as Three Mile Island. Unfortunately, today has had two very, very bad developments.

First, there's reports that the containment vessel for reactor #2 is damaged. No confirmation and no details. For whatever reason TEPCO and the Japanese government are being tight-lipped about it. Second, apparently some of the debris broke through the wall of building 4 and exposed a huge, huge flaw in the system. They have spent fuel rods and unused fuel rods sitting in storage pools outside of containment. The only thing protecting them is the water in the pool, and the building walls surrounding them. Walls which have blown apart in buildings #1 and #3, and have holes in #2 and #4.

Supposedly some of these spent fuel rods in building #4 caught fire (they're still experiencing nuclear decay, so still generating heat; just at a much, much slower rate than in reactors #1-#3 which were shut down recently). The water in the pool is supposed to keep them cool, but with the electricity gone, they suffered the same cooling failure as in reactors #1-#3. It just took a lot longer for the problem to exhibit itself since the amount of heat they were generating was much lower. Anyway, supposedly some of these rods caught fire, which corresponds to the sharp spike in radiation release yesterday. Those radiation readings dropped back down to "normal" again after the fire was put out.

But if those spent fuel rods have boiled off enough water to expose them to the air, then there is nothing stopping them from heating up. They will melt, possibly catch fire, and worst case they will start fissioning again after melting into a slag at the bottom of the pool. And all of this will happen outside of containment. Basically, the situation right now is only slightly better than what we had in Chernobyl - a hot core exposed to the atmosphere with a fire. That's why the situation was upgraded to a 6 on the INES scale today.

If the rods catch fire, it'll basically be the same as Chernobyl again. Maybe a bit smaller since the fuel isn't as hot as in Chernobyl, but the mechanics of it will be exactly the same - a fire spewing radioactive byproducts into the air as part of its ash and smoke. Rating it a 7 will be a foregone conclusion. The situation is very, very critical right now. They must cool those rods down and fill those tanks with water again. And above all else they must prevent any fires.

Right now I'm afraid they might be too late. CNN is reporting that there's another fire, and they evacuated all but 50 of the workers at the plant. This would be consistent with the rods catching fire. The extra radiation that would release would make it too dangerous to stay, leading to the evacuation. Those 50 who are staying are probably going to get fatal doses of radiation, if they haven't yet already. I hope to God this isn't what's happening, but all the signs I'm seeing strongly suggest it is.

That said, this doesn't change my stance on nuclear. By my calculations, this incident would have to kill something like 10,000 people before nuclear power becomes as dangerous as wind power (the second safest power technology in terms of deaths per GWh generated). But the situation right now is very critical, and very, very dangerous.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499300)

It's commentators like you will move nuclear forward. The "nothing to worry about" fanbois on the other hand, are the ones who will ensure its death.

Personally, I'm divided. I recognize that coal is terrible and disperses its own radioactive elements, but the whole atmosphere of nuclear power boosters makes me think of over-confident people with a deficit of prudence. I could get behind a system that would shut itself down rather than require active cooling, but there would have to be a whole lot of honesty displayed about the risks from its proponents, otherwise I'm going to be incredibly skeptical.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499332)

Your last paragraph raises an interesting issue. The historical safety of an industry is somewhat instructive about the ongoing and achievable safety of an industry, but it is very easy to make improvements in practice that increase safety.

So your calculations should maybe include "nuclear if old plants are kept online" alongside of "nuclear with newer designs that are safer when external power is lost".

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

evilad (87480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499204)

A "minor" release (and don't state it like it's a fact just yet) from an earthquake more powerful than design criteria does not make me think "Nuclear Power is Safe" nor even "Nuclear Power is Unsafe." It makes me question the design assumptions. Never mind what was known at the time. With benefit of hindsight, the design assumptions were clearly wrong.

So. Given what we know now, is it a correct assumption to pay the extra required, such that at-risk plants be designed to tolerate common-cause failures devolving from a magnitude 9.0 quake and related tsunami? That's really one for risk analysis economists to decide, but the consequences of failure are so unbelievably expensive, that my knee-jerk assumption suggests that it is not. The big problem is that the consequences are so expensive that they cannot be other than mostly externalized.

Regards,
Evilad
5-digit /.er, professional engineer, hobby economist, and ex-employee of the nuclear power industry.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499370)

5 digit slashdot UID is a resume builder now?

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499206)

Add to that the lack of media coverage of the oil refineries exploding into huge balls of fire with a tall column of toxic black smoke. How much toxin was dumped into the environment there? And Japan was lucky that they didn't have oil platforms, oil tanks or oil tankers that could've spilled all their contents and caused an even greater disaster...

Think of the BP spill + Exxon Valdez + exploding refineries and that would be the alternative to nuclear power.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499410)

No kidding. 53 Reactors are hit with something people writing the disaster policy probably didn't even dream of. A handful of them are having issues. The survival rate on the sites was probably a near 100%. A lot of places didn't even fair close to that. I would wait though about arguing how bad the situation is though. The record will be set straight eventually and the situation analyzed in great detail. What the news is doing right now is terrible. They are reporting what ever they can get their hot little hands on and a lot of it is probably unsubstantiated speculation and opinions.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499428)

I just have to thank you for posting this because I was seriously starting to doubt there was anyone with common sense left in the world. I've been the sole person in my social circles calming everyone down and reassuring them that Japan isn't about to fall into a nuclear holocaust that will be picked up by the wind and spread cancer to every corner of the earth. Officials in Europe have been calling it a nuclear APOCALYPSE. Seriously... apocalypses? For fucks sake... anyway, thank you for restoring my faith in the intelligence of man.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498700)

Agreed... if you looked at the people inside the Fukushima plant, which was swept by the tsunami; verses people outside the Fukushima plant who're also swept by the tsunami - those inside of the nuclear plant are actually MUCH MORE likely to make it out alive. And that's a 40-year-old plant not designed to handle earthquakes and tsunamis at the same time. That's actually quite amazingly robust.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498942)

I think the Fox News headline I saw this morning sums up why nuclear power will never advance in the US: "Despite Nuclear Explosion, Obama Administration Pushes New Nuclear Agenda"

FYI: I read Fox News for comedy purposes.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499128)

I read Fox News this morning and did not see that headline. That is a lie. Nowhere does it say "Nuclear Explosion". "Explosion at Nuclear Plant", yes, which happens to be true.

Re:I'd be open to it, but good luck with everyone (1)

DrBoumBoum (926687) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499028)

Honest question here, I just read about the David-Besse reactor head hole incident [wikipedia.org] in 2002; from my reading of it it looks like the system passed inches aways of a LOC incident with impossibility to insert the control rods, i.e., full meltdown of a running core. Is this correct? What would the consequences have been then?

But Toshiba stock (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498642)

Now! And anybody else who makes these things

Damn it (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498648)

I used to think that to, but if his track record is any indicator, it means I'm wrong.

NO.. just NO. STUPID IDEA. (5, Interesting)

Zurk (37028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498658)

the toshiba 4S is a sodium metal reactor. take that and shove it 30m underground to produce 10MW of power. awesome.
until you factor in the earthquake and tsunami.
water + sodium = BIG BOOM.
and the fact that regulatory approvals take a shitload of time for EACH reactor.
and you need 1200 of them to even come close to meeting demand.
and 1200 x 100s of days of regulatory paperwork is much more than 2-4 conventional plants with 100s of days of paperwork each.
not to mention environmental impact assessments at EACH SITE for EACH of those 1200 reactors.

the toshiba design needs to use lead and be rebuilt. the legal process needs to change which will take longer than it takes to build conventional plants. in short... NO.

Cringley doesn't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498872)

FTFA:

That’s where this earthquake will probably change everything, at least in Japan, where the process will be streamlined almost to nothing with a 4S soon stashed under every power substation giving Japan a smart grid in the process.

If folks are having to deal with rolling balck-outs, you can bet your Soba noodles that they'll get these things up and running.

Things would be streamlined even in California if they had to deal with rolling blackouts. Just look at the shit storm that happened when Enron was making the fake ones years ago.

Re:NO.. just NO. STUPID IDEA. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498876)

I suspect the reactors might actually be sealed, so water, rodents, etc. don't get into them. Just a thought. You know when you put stuff in the ground there is water in the ground right? Google "water table".

Re:NO.. just NO. STUPID IDEA. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499230)

I suspect the reactors might actually be sealed, so water, rodents, etc. don't get into them.

Soil liquefaction? Causing the position of the reactor to be virtually unknown, possible upside down? Tearing the power lines 30 m underground?

Multiply the same problem with the numbers of reactors affected, see how fast you can dig/replace them to restore the power, especially in the aftermaths of a serious earthquake.

Re:NO.. just NO. STUPID IDEA. (3, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499058)

until you factor in the earthquake and tsunami. water + sodium = BIG BOOM.

You fail sir. The 4S reactor is placed 30m underground in a concrete and steel containment vessel. The sodium is encased inside the reactor and cannot come into contact with anything outside the vessel. It's a sealed unit. There is a transfer loop that you pump water in and get steam out. The earthquake would shake it. The tsunami would damage the above ground equipment. And the reactor would be fine, sitting in its containment. I believe (and I'd have to go look to be sure) the Toshiba 4S uses a neutron reflector ring that's coupled with fusible links to the control rods. If it overheats the links melt, the reflector drops to the bottom of the vessel, and the reaction stops. Of course, now you're sitting on a dead reactor that you'd have to send back to Toshiba for refurbishment. Yes, the thing is designed (in principle) to be recycled and refueled at a Toshiba factory.

Won't happen in Santa Cruz, CA (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498664)

Just over the hill from the Silly Valley is the beach community of Santa Cruz, I used to live in. It will never happen there. They have a big sign on the roads stating "Nuclear Free Zone". You can get a lot of pot there, however.

Re:Won't happen in Santa Cruz, CA (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498728)

You can get a lot of pot there, however.

What do you suppose the gross domestic consumption of butane is to light all those joints. How many houses could that energy light up? or burn down?

Nor on 6th Street two blocks south of Green St.: (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498840)

We have a church near where I work that has a prominent nuclear free zone sign on it.

I wonder what they're going to do about the uranium in the granitic rock that some of it is made of.

But, in any case, I'm sure the sign will make a lot of difference. If someone explodes a nuclear weapon, they'll be sure to do it across the street where there isn't any sign.

Re:Won't happen in Santa Cruz, CA (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499398)

They have a big sign on the roads stating "Nuclear Free Zone".

Phew! I'll be sure to head down to Santa Cruz to keep safe from any fallout, then.

WTF (0)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498666)

You think no power is going to make stream lining installing a nuke reactor Faster??? do you not realize they are undergoing the 2nd biggest nuclear disaster in their country's history???

Crig's your an idiot

Priorities (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498668)

Thousands died from the quake, and all they are writing about is what's happening in those reactors.

Every summer more people die of heat stroke than have died from ALL NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS COMBINED since the nuclear industry began.

With all this melodrama, priorities will be shifted in the public's minds. They will believe that reducing the, so far inexistent, deaths from the Fukushima reactors is more important than reducing the emission of greenhouse effect gases.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498716)

shithead.

comparing a homemade wasteland for decades with a heatwave is just retarded.

Re:Priorities (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498776)

OK, here is another example. Every year, thousands of people die in pretty much every country due to road traffic accidents. In fact, each day, more people die on the roads than have ever died due to nuclear plant mishaps. But no one is screaming at the top of their lungs that cars are doomsday devices. A 40 year old nuclear plant is having issues. after Japan's greatest ever recorded earthquake and tsunami. No shit Sherlock!

Re:Priorities (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498950)

Please turn off Fox-News.
The Chamber is broken and the containment is leaking. They evacuated everyone out of the plant because there *already* is a lethal radiation. There are just a few heroes there that *try* to pour seawater onto the fuel rods. So the plant is essentially abandoned and 4 reactors are about to burn through - just to be clear what you call an *issue* here.

And the thing about the natural disaster is: it doesn't matter what the cause is.
Many people think that if the risk of nuclear energy, the radioactive exposure of Tokio is the price of "unlimited" energy, it is too high (please guess my stance on that one).

and the car analogy, thanks.

Re:Priorities (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499406)

OK, here is another example. Every year, thousands of people die in pretty much every country due to road traffic accidents. In fact, each day, more people die on the roads than have ever died due to nuclear plant mishaps. But no one is screaming at the top of their lungs that cars are doomsday devices.

A 40 year old nuclear plant is having issues. after Japan's greatest ever recorded earthquake and tsunami. No shit Sherlock!

How many single instances of car accidents do you know that have the potential to kill and maim millions of people and lead to deformities and large swaths of abandoned land for generations? Nuclear may or may not be the way to go if we want electricity, but the risk of incidents like this increases with the number of reactors. Denying it or minimising it is just an act of stupid.

I also find the fact that newer safer designs aren't implemented due to protests unfathomable. But all extreme groups make no sense.

Re:Priorities (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498806)

comparing a homemade wasteland for decades with a heatwave is just retarded.

It's not a heatwave, it's a heat *ocean*. It will take thousands, if not millions, of years for all that carbon to be reabsorbed by natural processes. That is, thousands of years after mankind has become extinct, of course, because humans show no sign of even trying to limit their production of CO2.

"Homemade wasteland", indeed, that's what global warming is all about.

Re:Priorities (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498862)

People were dieing from heat stroke long before greenhouse effect gases came along.

Re:Priorities (2)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499050)

In fifty thousand years (or whatever) when the nuclear waste is no longer dangerous, then a reasonable comparison could be made between nuclear accidents and other types of deaths.

Until nuclear industry is capable of planning thousands of years into the future, it cannot make rational statements about the safety of the industry.

On top of that, how can an industry plan ahead that far, when it has trouble seeing past its next quarterly results report.

Nuclear power just isnt suited to our society

Re:Priorities (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499250)

In fifty thousand years (or whatever) when the nuclear waste is no longer dangerous, then a reasonable comparison could be made between nuclear accidents and other types of deaths.

That the spent fuel is "hot" for tens of thousands of years is a purely political problem, not a technical one. The obvious technical solution is to reprocess the spent fuel. That will turn it into more fuel, as well as reduce the time the final waste products are dangerous to a hundred years or so. The reason we don't reprocess is because it produces weapons grade plutonium as a side-effect, and because the anti-nuclear lobby loves being able to say nuclear power has a "fifty thousand year" waste problem. Purely political, not technical.

That said, as I've outlined in my post below [slashdot.org] , the situation right now is very, very dangerous.

Re:Priorities (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499132)

The quake is done, people are already dead. Reactors are still having problems and hence are news.

A quake and tsunami is a purely natural disaster. Nuclear reactors having issues, being man made, can be blamed on people and people's decisions. That makes it news. You know like how a murder is news but someone dieing of old age is not. The story that involves people being bad will win over the story involving nature every time (look at Katrina in the US, the story was mostly about all the human errors and stupidity not that nature made a storm.

And this sets nuclear back just like TMI did. That's how human's work. Just like every year more people die in car accidents than by terrorist attacks, but guess which one people worry about most. Parents worry about strangers abducting the kid more than crashing the car on the way to soccer practice. "The Science of Fear" has huge numbers of examples.

There haven't been any direct deaths from the emission of greenhouse gases either, so how is that any different?

Re:Priorities (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499296)

Every summer more people die of heat stroke than have died from ALL NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS COMBINED since the nuclear industry began.

That's a silly comparison. How many people died the last time the hydroelectric plant ran low on water? Your comparison yields no comparative advantage for any generating technology.

Yeah melodrama. Because the people that do die, die horribly, and large swaths of land become uninhabitable for decades.

That Cringely (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498746)

He's right of course, as usual. After the Fukushima Daiichi event, everyone will want one in their neighborhood.

Cognitive dissonance (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498790)

TFA

These Japanese reactors are old and fairly well understood while Chernobyl was brand new. These Japanese reactors had already been in service for 16 years when Chernobyl melted down. In comparative terms there is no comparison — Chernobyl was vastly worse.

My reading: older, better known reactor designs are safer.

If I were to predict a clear winner in Japan’s new nuclear future it would be Toshiba with its innovative 4S (Super Safe Small and Simple) reactors.

My reading: the solution for Japan is to use a new reactor design.

My mind started to melt down, time for a cold ale to arrest the chain reaction in reaching the level of critical... well... thinking.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498846)

My reading: older, better known reactor designs are safer.

My reading: reactors built by capitalist corporations who face massive financial loss when something goes wrong are safer than reactors built by communist dictatorships to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498918)

Assuming that I accept your reading as the intended meaning, here comes another (milder) dissonance:
1. GM-built reactors are better
2. ... therefore Japan should go with Toshiba's reactors.

;) Stop it already, otherwise I'll bill you for the cost of extra ale ;)

Re:Cognitive dissonance (5, Insightful)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498946)

The only loss experienced by corporations will be lost opportunities. If you actually bother to look at how the nuclear industry is subsidised, you'll see that in every country the risk is underwritten by the state. In the event of a massive catastrophe, all the company loses is the capital invested in the plant, the state is left cleaning up for potentially hundreds of years.

There's no way you could make nuclear power companies liable for the cost of cleanup in the event of catastrophic meltdown. That would require them to put extraordinary amounts of capital into escrow - hundreds if not thousands of times the cost of the plant - and would mean nuclear power would become economically unviable. Even if you mandated insurance, who would underwrite it? The payout in the event of a serious meltdown would cause a meltdown in the insurance sector and.

Financial service companies were dumb enough to play hot potato with sub-prime mortgages, but even they're not dumb enough to underwrite the risk of nuclear power.

And another thing... (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498966)

Most (all?) civilian nuclear power produces plutonium that ends up in nuclear weapons. That's not just something dictatorships get up to.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499074)

But only if those Corporations, and their officers in criminal cases, are actually able to be held accountable; not 'too big to fail'... But in the case of an incident, the politicials would be glad to have a scapegoat.
Nuclear energy can be safer, cleaner, and all around better than other sources... But then I think about them being run by humans....
Both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were caused, or at least made much worse by human operator/manager error. The longer a human controlled system runs the greater the odds that someone, somewhere will be fatigued, complacent, or just make an error.
In the current case, humans have to be put in harms ways from secondary explosions, aftershocks, tsunamis, etc. in order to properly shut down the reactors.
The newest designs (from what I've read) can safely cool down without human intervention or outside power/coolant, and are much more resistant to operator (or even computer) error; so it's essential we start building some of those so that we can take some of the more hazardous (both coal and older atomic) plants offline.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499158)

Yeah, like all those fat cats at the banks - I've heard they are all chewing straw now. Flawed reasoning; it may be disadvantageous to the company, but the short term gains are more important to many people. Just like the fact that keeping those things open is way more advantageous than closing them down at huge cost.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498954)

Exactly. At least with the current reactors engineers know exactly what happens when they are subjected to a massive earthquake and tsunami. They know what works and what doesn't. Existing reactors can be upgraded, protocols and operating procedures refined, etc, to avoid the problems that occurred in Japan.

Personally I think the weakness is regardless of the amount of redundancy and backup systems, they are all physically and geographically together. Thus whatever external event damaged the primary systems will likely damage the backup systems as well. I think the industry needs to standardize on modular power, pumping and control systems that can be flown in by helicopter to provide the bare minimum cooling capability to prevent melt down. These modules would be the size of shipping containers and stored in geographically diverse places from the actual reactors, but within a several hour hauling distance by truck, or a couple hours by helicopter.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498962)

These Japanese reactors are old and fairly well understood while Chernobyl was brand new. These Japanese reactors had already been in service for 16 years when Chernobyl melted down. In comparative terms there is no comparison — Chernobyl was vastly worse.

My reading: older, better known reactor designs are safer.

I think you also need to consider the cold war era Soviet system that designed and built Chernobyl. Public safety may have been a secondary consideration to the state's immediate need for electrical power. If the Russian scientists and engineers had worked in a system comparable to the one that the Japanese scientists and engineers had worked in then I expect that we would never have heard of Chernobyl and it would still be generating power today.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498998)

TFA

These Japanese reactors are old and fairly well understood while Chernobyl was brand new. These Japanese reactors had already been in service for 16 years when Chernobyl melted down. In comparative terms there is no comparison — Chernobyl was vastly worse.

My reading: older, better known reactor designs are safer.

I think I put this in another thread the other day. The Chernobyl reactor, the exact same model was first constructed at Leningrad NPP, 1970. So.. RBMK had been running a similar amount of time when the disaster occurred. Not to mention that the soviets were piddling with graphite moderated reactors since the 50s, indeed their first "peaceful" reactor used the same system.

For as much hate as RBMK gets, it's sort of brilliant, but not without flaws of course. As long as you don't go disabling all the safeties, and having noobs running it.
It can run on raw or near raw uranium, can be used for Pu production, hotswap fuel rods, and cheap, no heavy water or anything like that. And they're gigantic, 1GW electrical per reactor. Some of the later ones were 1.5GW.

Then again everyone has a price for risk vs. reward, just depends where you draw the line.

With a few modifications they are much safer now (at the cost of having to run slightly more enriched uranium, though). Kind of a damn shame that wasn't decided on at the design stage though...
There are around 10 of these still running.

Thorium, dangit, Thorium (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35498820)

Because nothing can go wrong when the reaction is a meltdown to begin with. Thorium is more plentiful than uranium, it is less volatile than uranium, and it can't be used to make nuclear bombs. We need to switch to thorium. All of humanity. Now.

Re:Thorium, dangit, Thorium (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498874)

If Canada's federal government would get off it's Privitize Everything binge, AECL could go back to selling it's thorium based reactor designs en masse. I appoligize for my ignorant country mates that thought that voting for the party that limited AECL's maximum contract value while trying to sell it was a good thing for the nuclear industry internationally, or my country.

Re:Thorium, dangit, Thorium (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499092)

any reactor has a problem when the pressure vessel breaks open and spills hot melting core everywhere.

though less can go wrong, a 9.0 quake and tsunami will be a test for any structure at all, let alone a nuclear plant.

Mininuke? (0)

Dracos (107777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35498928)

Because what the world doesn't need is another crappy phpNuke clone/fork/offshoot/derivative.

Which Cringley?... (1, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499036)

The pseudonymous one, or Mark Stephens, who absconded with the name from Infoworld? The latter has no credibility.

Michael Swaine, an early Infoworld columnist, was better than any of them.

Re:Which Cringley?... (0)

kju (327) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499334)

Maybe you could have just checked the site the article is on. Then you would have found this: http://www.cringely.com/about/ [cringely.com]

Galena = Lead Sulfide (2)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499148)

Just in case ... what minearl would you want to have in plentiful supply near your new nuclear reactor? How about galena [wikipedia.org] . The raw mineral form of LEAD should absorb a few screaming subatomic particles. I think Galena, Alaska is a terrific place for this project.

Much Ado About Nothing (3, Informative)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499202)

The Toshiba 4S is a reactor with a 10 MW capacity. The peak summer load in New England is 28,130 MW (see link below). So you would need 2,813 of these reactors. Get 50% of New England's power from nukes and thats still 1406.5. Whats the cost to protect them by the way?

Sure, its the next best thing for Galena Alaska. For national energy policy, this is completely irrelevant.

http://www.ferc.gov/market-oversight/mkt-electric/new-england.asp#gen [ferc.gov]

"Cringely Confirms It, Mininukes Are Dead" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35499216)

I've never known him/them to be right, why start now.

4S sounds good (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 3 years ago | (#35499432)

Those mini reactors sound like a great idea. Bury some of those around here. I'm in.
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