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Things Get Worse at Fukushima

CmdrTaco posted about 3 years ago | from the good-luck-out-there-guys dept.

Japan 1122

An anonymous reader writes "Radiation levels are skyrocketing around Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant as reports indicate that a radioactive core has overheated and melted through its containment vessel and onto a concrete floor. Radiation levels inside reactor two were recently gauged at 1,000 millisieverts per hour — a level so high that workers could only remain in the area for 15 minutes under current exposure guidelines."

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1122 comments

F*ck You, Shima! (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 3 years ago | (#35656386)

This has been drearily and horrifyingly predictable.

I'm nearly certain when this is all said and done, Japan will have an uninhabitable zone, comprising 10% of the land mass on the principal island.

And 3-headed babies.

Re:F*ck You, Shima! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656440)

Then why didn't you predict it?

Re:F*ck You, Shima! (2, Funny)

Xunker (6905) | about 3 years ago | (#35656612)

He didn't have to. Have you SEEN the ANIME that has been coming out of Japan for decades? Thousands of Manga authors already predicted it! Let's hope the predictions of two-wheel-drive electric motorcycles and sexy, sexy robots also come true.

To heck with the robots: (0)

Hartree (191324) | about 3 years ago | (#35656812)

I want my harem of 18 year old Rei Ayanami clones!

Although a few cat girls would be a groove too.

Re:F*ck You, Shima! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656716)

My favorite post was about changing the nuclear rating scale to number of Godzilla's produced.

Before everyone freaks (3, Informative)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | about 3 years ago | (#35656404)

This is part of the planned failure mode of the reactor. To be sure, it's fairly far on the "stuff is breaking" scale, and there are definite consequences (such as fears of leakage into groundwater). But this is not going to be a Chernobyl-level catastrophe.

However, fingers crossed that nobody else dies. Japan's already had enough fatalities this month.

Re:Before everyone freaks (-1)

LordStormes (1749242) | about 3 years ago | (#35656424)

Bury the whole damn thing in concrete, and be done with it. This crisis would have been resolved two weeks ago if TEPCO wasn't more interested in repairing and reusing the reactor than the public safety.

Re:Before everyone freaks (5, Informative)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | about 3 years ago | (#35656470)

TEPCO has a history of coverups and other shenanigans that the cynical jaded type would come to expect from a large corporate-type organization. However, this is just coming back to bite them in the ass on the international stage, so I get the feeling they won't be so lucky this time.

Re:Before everyone freaks (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 3 years ago | (#35656574)

TEPCO has a history of coverups and other shenanigans that the cynical jaded type would come to expect from a large corporate-type organization.

"Cynical jaded type"? Come on! All you have to do is to keep your eyes open for a while to see that this is indeed typical behavior.

Re:Before everyone freaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656490)

Obviously you do not know what that implies.

Re:Before everyone freaks (4, Informative)

fishbowl (7759) | about 3 years ago | (#35656848)

If you have a concrete that can set in that environment, and maintain integrity versus the decay heat that under that blanket of concrete, you should be up for a Nobel Prize.

Re:Before everyone freaks (2)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about 3 years ago | (#35656496)

Exactly. Sometimes when things break, or someone talks too much, just gotta bury them under a shitload of concrete. Im waiting for the day where we can blast our problems into space.

Re:Before everyone freaks (4, Interesting)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 3 years ago | (#35656854)

Human history is littered with, well, litter. We just push stuff over the next hill or into the river and forget about it. We're starting to run out of room to do this without having side effects of leeching into soils etc.

What I find ironic is that by blasting stuff into the sun, we might just be able to 'push it over that hill' in a manner that won't be an issue for literally billions of years.

While our early ancestors surely said "you don't think we can possibly pollute the entire ocean do you?".

Could we possibly produce enough stuff from this planet that we actually effect the sun in any meaning full way? In terms of scale it seems like we might just be able to get away with blasting our refuse into the sun and not see any significant consequences.

Re:Before everyone freaks (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656522)

Nice troll, but no cigar. If they were that interested in repairing and re-using those reactors, they would not have been so quick to pump seawater into them in an effort to cool them down. Seawater is not nice to reactor components, and renders them pretty well unuseable. Not to mention the reactors were scheduled to be decomissioned in the next couple of years anyway.

But still, "Cool story, bro!"

Re:Before everyone freaks (2)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | about 3 years ago | (#35656578)

Except that they weren't quick to pump seawater. They held onto that as a last resort for a couple days while they tried to get the internal pumps going again. When that didn't work out and it was clear that they had absolutely no other option, TEPCO began pumping seawater in. They did everything they could to avoid writing the reactors off.

Re:Before everyone freaks (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 3 years ago | (#35656744)

When that didn't work out and it was clear that they had absolutely no other option, TEPCO began pumping seawater in. They did everything they could to avoid writing the reactors off.

And that's unreasonable because...?

Re:Before everyone freaks (0)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | about 3 years ago | (#35656856)

* AC claims TEPCO acted in the public interest and went for the most efficient method of cooling.
* AC is wrong, TEPCO did everything they could to avoid losing the reactor, even at the risk of catastrophic failure.
* TEPCO is more concerned with profits than irradiated citizens.

If you see that as reasonable, get out.

Re:Before everyone freaks (-1, Flamebait)

bstender (1279452) | about 3 years ago | (#35656654)

except they WEREN'T quick to pump the seawater. It was many days LATE, obviously to protect that significant investment.

Re:Before everyone freaks (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#35656586)

The entire complex was being shut down in just a few months, why would they spend all the extra money trying to save the reactors if they were going to be decommissioned anyway?

Re:Before everyone freaks (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 3 years ago | (#35656882)

If they were so unconcerned with saving them, why did they wait on the sea water? they could have done that days sooner but didn't because it would render the reactors useless.

Re:Before everyone freaks (2)

fishbowl (7759) | about 3 years ago | (#35656624)

Ok, if you have a material science background, can you describe the concrete that would work in this application and how it would be applied?
 

Re:Before everyone freaks (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35656734)

That was my thought, you can block or reduce the radiation being emitted from the plant with a thick concrete barrier, but that does absolutely nothing for the radioactive water leaking out the bottom or to prevent the other problems that are present. And that's even if you do manage to get the concrete barrier in place like right now.

Re:Before everyone freaks (5, Interesting)

arkhan_jg (618674) | about 3 years ago | (#35656748)

Reactors 1-4 will never be used again. But burying them in concrete is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Right now, the cores are still hot enough to melt through the reactor vessel if not constantly cooled by constant pumping of (now) fresh water through the coolant system.

Worst case scenario (though not hugely likely) - water stops getting in, or stops cooling the fuel rods, they melt down through the reactor into the outer containment vessel, and there's not enough left of the control rods mixed in to prevent the molten fuel reaching criticality again, and it then gets hot enough to melt through the containment itself, then either contaminate groudwater, or even worse, hit enough water to cause a steam explosion, spreading radioactive elements for miles around.

It's going to take *years* to decommission these plants after the damage they've suffered from the quake and tsunami. No doubt some sort of concrete shroud will be part of the final solution, but right now, keeping control of the coolant flow in both the reactors and the used fuel ponds is the top priority, closely followed by patching any leaks from the containment vessels caused by the multiple hydrogen fires/explosions.

Re:Before everyone freaks (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 3 years ago | (#35656756)

Except that you can't bury the 'bottom' of the thing only the top/sides. Radiation leakage still gets into the soil by going down through the nicely melted pathway.

Re:Before everyone freaks (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about 3 years ago | (#35656844)

Those plants cost billions of dollars, are incredibly expensive and hard to build (and time consuming and parts of limited supply), and you're even remotely surprised they don't try to salvage them? You do realize that if they just "shut off all plants" when the crisis started Japan would be essentially without power permanently, right? Sure, the nuclear aspects would be safe, but they would be permanently shutdown. Multiple years of investments and infrastructure gone.

Hell, forget capitalism and realize that there are indeed things that happen in this scenario outside of just the nuclear plant, such as "who else is going to provide power now?" (if enough are shut down).

Re:Before everyone freaks (5, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 years ago | (#35656862)

Bury the whole damn thing in concrete, and be done with it. This crisis would have been resolved two weeks ago if TEPCO wasn't more interested in repairing and reusing the reactor than the public safety.

Each reactor was written off the moment they pumped seawater into it. The corrosive nature of salt means the steel containment vessels will never pass inspection to allow them be used again to house an active reactor. Reactors #1, #2, and #3 will never be used again. TEPCO deserves criticism for waiting too long to pump in seawater (long enough to allow the rods to become exposed and melt), but refusing to use concrete has nothing to do with it.

They aren't encasing it in concrete because doing so would compromise their ability to continue cooling, and thus practically guarantee the core melting through the steel containment vessel.. TFA is speculation that this has already happened based on one industry expert's interpretation of the reports he has seen. He's apparently forgotten that reactor #2 suffered a hydrogen explosion inside containment early on (near or in the suppression pool, or "torus"). They've been suspecting for a while that they have a containment breech there, allowing water from the core to leak out. The high radiation readings from the water near that area are consistent with that scenario.

Re:Before everyone freaks (2)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 3 years ago | (#35656866)

This crisis would have been resolved two weeks ago if TEPCO wasn't more interested in repairing and reusing the reactor than the public safety.

              You think that running out of electrical power while trying to recover from a stupendous natural disaster is not a public safety issue? And I might add, getting some of the reactors running helps the recovery effort for the rest of the plant, substantially.

        I would also point out that you don't just let a reactor core melt, and pour out on the floor, and cover it with concrete without carefully considering the long-term criticality issues and the long-term durability of the fix.

       

Yup, sure! (0, Offtopic)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 3 years ago | (#35656488)

Yes, and when the World Trade Center collapsed, killed thousands, that was part of the "planned failure mode" of the buildings.

Re:Yup, sure! (1)

operagost (62405) | about 3 years ago | (#35656644)

Please don't betray your ignorance. Really, there's a reason that there is concrete below the containment vessel. Even Glenn Beck gets this. Pulling out snarky red-herring analogies to skyscrapers as if their design has anything to do with a nuclear reactor is childish.

Re:Yup, sure! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656660)

Actually, the failure mode was that both buildings withstood the initial impact. It was the heat melting structural components that was not planned for. If the material could have withstood more heat, the towers may have been standing today.

Re:Yup, sure! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656688)

In what way was a massive collapse into the crowded streets of Manhattan planned? Idiot.

Think before you write next time.

Re:Yup, sure! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#35656790)

Tsunami killed 10,000
Reactor so far 0
My local natural gas power plant killed 3 workers when they fell from the smoke stacks while hanging giant snowflakes for Christmas.

Too bad there is no -1 for I don't get it. It could be applied to your post.

Re:Before everyone freaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656544)

How do you know what is happening? Almost everything we have heard so far about this incident has been lies.

Re:Before everyone freaks (0)

fishbowl (7759) | about 3 years ago | (#35656674)

The big surprise to me is that other governments appear willing to be lied to. I'm surprised China hasn't threatened to take over the operation. I'm surprised North Korea hasn't taken the opportunity to finish off Fukushima with light artillery, which would be a better dirty bomb against Tokyo than anything they could make and deliver. I'm surprised the USA hasn't taken the diplomatic gloves off.

Re:Before everyone freaks (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#35656602)

But this is not going to be a Chernobyl-level catastrophe..

I really hate that the above statement is becoming the bright side at Fukushima. No matter what corporate greed or human error is uncovered in the coming years/months, the masses are going to remember the hysterics of this tragedy and remain opposed to nuclear energy for some time.

Amazingly the damage and deaths caused by Deep Water Horizons and the rigs burning in Japan don't get near the hype. And the number of deaths caused by coal are virtually ignored.

Re:Before everyone freaks (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 3 years ago | (#35656788)

This is part of the planned failure mode of the reactor.

Apparently earthquake and tsunami's were part of the planned failure modes of the reactors as well. We've all seen how well things have gone so far. Why should we believe the company now? How do we know that this is really all part of some planned failure scenario and not simply another unexpected disaster beyond their control and indeed understanding?

But this is not going to be a Chernobyl-level catastrophe.

They say there's no danger of a Chernobyl style catastrophe, but what credibility do they have? These people--and quite a few nuclear proponents around here--told us all that there was "no danger" of any major leak in the days after the tsunami hit. Three weeks later the reactor is a molten puddle on a concrete floor, and now they're telling us we don't have to fear something else. Do you believe them? Would you beleive them if your home was near the exclusion zone?

Need I mention that four weeks ago, all involved would have scoffed at the notion of even the possibility of a meltdown.

Even the Japanese Prime Minister has lost patience with the plant owners and their slipshod operations [latimes.com]. How much credibility can we give these people, give to nuclear power? How much can we afford to give?

No!!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656406)

Wait! I learned everything I know from Slashdot, and Slashdot says nuclear power is safe and no one will get hurt.

None of this leaking stuff can be happening. La-la-la-la . . . I can't hear you!

Re:No!!! (4, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | about 3 years ago | (#35656452)

the oil and coal lobby certainly want you to fear nuclear so the can continue to kill you slowly with coal plants that emit radiation and smog. Oh, and the wars for foreign oil.

Re:No!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656554)

The oil and coal lobby want to continue their profits, they don't want to slowly kill anyone and they don't care about war. They simply want their flow of money to continue, nothing more, nothing less.

If war and slow killing does that, so be it.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656410)

Speculation, followed by may's, possibilities, and the usual unknowns. Glad to see that journalism continues to reach greater heights by failing to actually know what it's talking about.

"Containment vessel" (5, Informative)

Dr. Cody (554864) | about 3 years ago | (#35656430)

Just to be clear, they are absolutely not implying it has melted through the containment, but, rather, the reactor pressure vessel.

Re:"Containment vessel" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656770)

But isn't that considered secondary containment? (primary being the fuel rods, tertiary being the concrete shell?)

Re:"Containment vessel" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656792)

well.... the reactor core is inside the steel pressure vessel and the pressure vessel is in the containment vessel that is the actual concrete building you see from outside. the the sad thing is that the concrete building has already exploded, blown of the plug and probably cracked here and there too. so its ability to contain radiation is now very much under question

the interesting thing is that the article does not mention the most significant bit of information - what number reactor melted through

also there doesnt seem to be other articles around with the same information, bbc nor cnn has this information. so i wouldnt take this acticle all that seriously and would even call [citation needed]

The *real* shame in all of this (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#35656456)

They've set back nuclear energy for decades, at a time when we most need it.

Guess we had better get used to more carbon dioxide.

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656494)

Not true, because now we have artificial leafs!

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#35656616)

Yeah, now all we have to do is find a way to manufacture them that doesn't produce more waste than they will ever clean up.

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (2, Interesting)

Prikolist (1260608) | about 3 years ago | (#35656606)

Yea, now people will finally stop arguing for it and give solar, wind, etc. more attention. Awesome.
I'm sorry, but I'll never be a proponent for something that has a good chance of causing horrible diseases and mutations and birth defects, regardless of how good the technology protecting it is (you could blame Chernobyl on outdated and weak Soviet tech if you want, but a modern plant by the gods of technology, Japanese, is faring no better). And there is the matter of having to bury the leftovers for thousands of years.

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (2)

colinnwn (677715) | about 3 years ago | (#35656704)

Fukushima reactors are by far NOT a modern plant. It was about the oldest design still considered safe to operate in the West. Chernobyl was such a dangerous design, and omitted so many safety systems, that it NEVER would have been licensed to operate in the west, not even in the 1960's.

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (2)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#35656762)

Yea, now people will finally stop arguing for it and give solar, wind, etc. more attention. Awesome.
I'm sorry, but I'll never be a proponent for something that has a good chance of causing horrible diseases and mutations and birth defects, regardless of how good the technology protecting it is (you could blame Chernobyl on outdated and weak Soviet tech if you want, but a modern plant by the gods of technology, Japanese, is faring no better). And there is the matter of having to bury the leftovers for thousands of years.

It's a GE designed plant that is nearly 40 years old. At least one of the reactors were scheduled to be decommission within the next couple of months. It's neither a modern plant nor "by the gods of technology, Japanese".

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656776)

Seriously, we better get fusion working fast.

Or use the nukes to reduce the world population.

Re:The *real* shame in all of this (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35656852)

That's really not a fair comparison to make, the Chernobyl incident could have been completely sidestepped had they operated within safety guidelines. In fact the other rest of the site was in operation until 2000, even with the outdated and weak technology that the Soviets had used during construction.

This however was unavoidable, well once the decision to build a nuclear reactor in such an earthquake prone area was made. Other types of reactors are less prone to such issues, but for this type of a reactor building it in an earthquake zone is a bad idea.

Plus, a lot of the rest of that stuff is FUD, the total deaths from nuclear energy are significantly lower than the total deaths from coal power, but ZOMG teh nucular poewr will k1ll uss !1!!eleventy11!!!

More information from the project chief (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656468)

Rough google translation:

I've got your picture of me and you
You wrote "I love you" I love you too
I sit there staring and there's nothing else to do
Oh it's in color
Your hair is brown
Your eyes are hazel
And soft as clouds
I often kiss you when there's no one else around

No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark
Everyone around me is a total stranger
Everyone avoids me like a psyched lone-ranger
Everyone

That's why I'm turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
I'm turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I'm turning Japanese
I really think so...

Media Hysteria? (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 years ago | (#35656506)

There are, as well, media sources that say this *isn't* so, and that this is mostly a Media Hysteria. For example: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/29/tv_news_goes_hollywood/ [theregister.co.uk]

Re:Media Hysteria? (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 3 years ago | (#35656672)

Why the register is engaging in this I can only guess. I presume these articles generate a lot of traffic an comments, and are thus a good idea for them to post. These are factually inaccurate howlers full of cynism and stupidty.

I guess people have to make a living somehow.

a radioactive core has overheated and melted (2)

wiredog (43288) | about 3 years ago | (#35656508)

Or, from the Beeb:

Theories for the leak centre on two possibilities: steam is flowing from the core into the reactor housing and escaping through cracks, or the contaminated material is leaking from the damaged walls of the water-filled pressure control pool beneath the No 2 reactor.

The End of Nuclear Power (1)

NotAGoodNickname (1925512) | about 3 years ago | (#35656510)

This is truly the end of fission Nuclear power plants. Even if this doesn't turn out to be as big a disaster as the media makes it out to be, many people will say hell no - not in my backyard. Already countries, including China and US, are canceling projects. Good time to sell the uranium companies short I think.

Re:The End of Nuclear Power (2)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about 3 years ago | (#35656598)

Or this will lead to stronger safety regulations. Oil drilling is a very messy process with recent negative impacts but we will still continue that as well.

Re:The End of Nuclear Power (1)

colinnwn (677715) | about 3 years ago | (#35656738)

You are very optimistic. I wish this were the case. But the level of hysteria and misinformation of public is so high with nuclear, I think Fukushima will retard nuclear reactor development and construction by at least a decade.

Re:The End of Nuclear Power (2)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about 3 years ago | (#35656784)

I really hope that isnt the case. Kind of off topic but do all these people in the "green" movement support nuclear energy? Kind of retarded to push clean electric cars that are powere by electricity generated from coal burning plants.

Re:The End of Nuclear Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656768)

China I could see, but I didn't think that any Nuclear power plants were made or planned for in the past couple decades in the US due to the cost of making them being more prohibiting than other options.

Re:The End of Nuclear Power (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | about 3 years ago | (#35656840)

Good, and while all those NIMBYs are spouting off their uninformed opinions, I will be looking into burying a small reactor from toshiba in my back yard.

Nuclear technologies (3, Interesting)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 3 years ago | (#35656512)

This disaster will very likely change the way that nuclear power generation plants are approved and evaluated in the future. Unfortunately, a promising technology will almost certainly be set back, perhaps irreparably. The silver lining, however, is that alternative nuclear technologies may finally get a fair shake. Alternate fuels and reactor types offer so many possibilities to possibly exceed the efficiency and safety levels that we put up with today but have thus far been unable to obtain funding compared to the currently developed reactors. That confidence in our current strategy is being eroded rapidly. This isn't some second-rate system like Chernobyl, it is close-to-state-of-the-art.

Re:Nuclear technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656588)

If by "state-of-the-art" you mean reactors built forty years ago, then, yes.

Re:Nuclear technologies (3, Informative)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | about 3 years ago | (#35656680)

Here's the thing: The reactors at Fukushima are ~40 years old and contain a design flaw that essentially caused this to happen. Newer designs for water boiler reactors have the water flow in via gravity feed instead of requiring manual pumps running on external power. While it's certainly possible that other problems might've caused a newer reactor to suffer potential meltdown, it's very likely that we would've never seen this occur if Fukushima Daiichi had a gravity-feed water cooling system. The takeaway should be that nuclear power plants need to be upgraded to keep up with the times, but unfortunately I think you're right, and the takeaway will be "OMG NUCLEAR BAD."

Re:Nuclear technologies (5, Insightful)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | about 3 years ago | (#35656684)

The reason they've been unable to obtain funding is because they've been unable to obtain authorization to build it. If you come up to me asking for money to build a plant that is illegal to build, I'm not going to give you any money.

And the reason it's illegal to build safer plants is because the public lumps ALL "nukyulur" into the same "oh shit it's dangerous" boat. It doesn't matter what tech you use, or how safe it is: to the public, you're building Chernobyl Mile Island Daichi and must therefore be run out of town.

Hell, when they started irradiating food to kill bugs that could kill people, they found that they couldn't sell it. They had to coin a new marketing word (picowave!) so that the mouthbreathing morons that make up most of the public wouldn't think someone had slipped plutonium into their frozen peas.

So until we get the public over its irrational fear of anything radioactive, we will never see nuclear technological advancements applied. Ever.

And as I said yesterday, once we get the public over that fear, we still have to address the *real* problems of Nuclear: What to do with the waste, and how to stop cheap bastard energy corporations from cutting safety corners in the name of profits.

Re:Nuclear technologies (5, Insightful)

0WaitState (231806) | about 3 years ago | (#35656842)

The reason the public lumps all nuclear power technologies into the same hopper is that they are all run by the same corrupt management culture. Management cuts safety margins, defers upgrades, miscategorizes more frequent natural disasters as once in 1000 years, all the while paying themselves performance bonuses for having improved operating margins. Then the "nobody could have foreseen" event happens, and we the taxpayers have to spend 10s to 100s of billions cleaning up the mess. If the nuclear industry had to post an insurance bond against their future screwups there would be no nuclear industry.

This isn't a technology problem, it's a regulatory and human problem.

Re:Nuclear technologies (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | about 3 years ago | (#35656890)

That's what I was getting at yesterday. Nuclear would be fine as long as it was strictly regulated by a 3rd party uninterested in profits (read: the government). And even then you'd have to worry about some asshole inspector taking kickbacks not to notice the corner cutting.

Really, one interesting way to address it would be "if your company causes a disaster, or even a near disaster, because you decided to cut costs by cutting safety corners, the entire upper management of your company goes to jail for life."

Of course, that philosophy would work well extended to all corporations, not just the nuclear industry ;)

Re:Nuclear technologies (3, Informative)

Iskender (1040286) | about 3 years ago | (#35656778)

That confidence in our current strategy is being eroded rapidly. This isn't some second-rate system like Chernobyl, it is close-to-state-of-the-art.

I see your point about investigating alternative reactor technologies. However, the Fukushima reactors are certainly not state of the art. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_boiling_water_reactor [wikipedia.org] reactors for instance are already in operation. Generation III reactors are currently the state of the art of reactors in operation, and the Fukushima reactors are firmly in the generation II category.

The Fukushima reactors have no doubt had safety upgrades during their lifetime, but there's only so much you can do when the fundamental reactor design is antiquated.

Re:Nuclear technologies (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | about 3 years ago | (#35656876)

"Close to state of the art"? Not even. The plant is over 30 years old, the design closer to 40. It was one of the oldest still-operating nuke plants in Japan.

And then it was hit by an earthquake 10 times more powerful than it was designed for, and a tsunami twice as high as it was designed for, and two weeks later, NO ONE has died because of it.

Still speculation (2)

toppavak (943659) | about 3 years ago | (#35656520)

"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."

Sensationalism and denial (3)

gatkinso (15975) | about 3 years ago | (#35656540)

This is what I see on this board.

It is an interesting mix to be sure.

The situation seems very bad, but headlines screaming "radiation at 10,000,000 times the safe limit" (which turned out to be wrong) are not helping.

Worse seems to be the nuclear fanboys ignoring the fact that that plant is fsked, in precisely the manner that antinuclear folks said could and eventually would happen.

Re:Sensationalism and denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656832)

This is not the way the anti-nuke folk said it would happen. They predicted people dying in their hundreds or thousands, and massive swathes of land made uninhabitable. Here we have neither of those things happening.

Can someone clarify this? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 3 years ago | (#35656550)

Can someone explain this to me? I didn't think it was ever possible to walk inside a reactor vessel. I didn't even think the "reactor vessel" itself was large enough for a person to "walk inside" I thought the "reactor vessel" was thousands of degrees.

Re:Can someone clarify this? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 3 years ago | (#35656630)

Nevermind, I misread the summary as saying "inside the reactor vessel" but it really says "inside reactor two."

The radiation level at a pool of water in the turbine room of reactor two was measured recently at 1,000 millisieverts per hour. At that level, workers could remain in the area for just 15 minutes, under current exposure guidelines.

Also:

"My recommendation is they should consider establishing a small commission to independently convert the data into comprehensible units of risk for the public so people know what they are dealing with and can take sensible decisions," he added.

Best recommendation I've heard so far.

Testify (1)

bstender (1279452) | about 3 years ago | (#35656552)

Calling all blowtards from the past 3 weeks confidently predicting that containment breach was inconceivable.

Re:Testify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656714)

The containment is no longer intact however, there is 8 meters of concrete under the reactor. That might be enough to contain the corium. Or it might not.

Re:Testify (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656760)

Calling all blowtards from the past 3 weeks confidently predicting that containment breach was inconceivable.

Sorry about the use of "inconceivable" ... I did not think that word meant what I thought it meant. Continue your search for your fathers six-fingered killer.

More Appollogists please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656568)

I can see the comments on Slashdot a year from now "The people of Tokyo are not glowing AS BRIGHT as light-bulbs! They only give off a light green glow visible late at night. This is all just mass Hysteria by the green movement!

Look at the State of Baden-Württemberg! (2)

Kensai7 (1005287) | about 3 years ago | (#35656576)

Most probably Fukushima Daichi will have to be sealed. The nearby communities will eventually be safe. But uncertainty about nuclear power travels FASTER than the nuclear fallout in all cases. A state election in a premium German state was lost by the reigning government because it supported nuclear power plants...

It's a bitter sweet evolution, if you ask me. Yes, current last generation plants are unsafe and should be closed down the sooner the better, but this will definitely hurt industrial research for future IV generation power plants which are definitely safer than any other form of major power generation...

Re:Look at the State of Baden-Württemberg! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656836)

sorry, but the worst thing that can happen with a wind mill is, is that it hits a frog or something.

Low probabilities of high damages is something we should finally accept as not acceptable.

And yes, windmills are quite a major power generation by now. Just look at Germany for that.

1000 millisieverts were a wrong measurement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656584)

It really were 10 millisiverts per hour but the workers had to abort, before they could confirm it.
See e.g. here [eimai.in] for a start.

Nuclear Energy (2, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 3 years ago | (#35656632)

Nuclear (and coal) energy always seemed to me like old mainframe computers and renewables like Internet (distributed), modern, interesting, R&D. We just need to jump to new and abandon old. It will be difficult, but I think it is FAR from impossible. I know there are lots of people here on /. hypnotized by how great nuclear is. but I just prefer distributed everything better (including risks) as opposed to centralized.

so where are all of the fools (-1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 3 years ago | (#35656638)

to tell us how unimportant and ridiculous the concern is, and everything is perfectly fine, its all just media hype?

let me be clear: the false alarmist is, indeed, a form of fool. hysteria, fear: it's adrenal glands on overload, not intelligence

but i assert that there is a second form of fool, that you often see posting on slashdot, on a number of different topics. "the sheeple are running and screaming about this, hahaha": the falsely complacent. equally foolish. the sky is not falling, indeed. but have you heard of hail? tornadoes? hurricanes? blizzards? lightning? rare. but not nonexistent

true intelligence rides a delicate moderate path between alarmism and complacency. the guy who freaks out too easily, and the guy who never worries at all: equally foolish idiots in my book. unfortunately, you often see the latter posting on this website smugly, all the time, on a range of topics. not intelligent people

Easy to fix? (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 years ago | (#35656652)

Radiation levels inside reactor two were recently gauged at 1,000 millisieverts per hour — a level so high that workers could only remain in the area for 15 minutes under current exposure guideline."

So the right thing to do would be to change the current exposure guideline. Right?

Cue for the following response (2, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 3 years ago | (#35656658)

1. This is actually proves nuclear is so resilient.

2. We should build more nuclear plants.

3. It was designed for the biggest quake we ever thought could happen.

4. It was the big bad tsunami that caused the damage, not the earthquake.

5. Nothing has happened, nothing is happening, and nothing is going to happen.

6. We can trust whatever TEPCO is saying.

7. People fall off of roofs.

8. Windmills kill people.

Re:Cue for the following response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656752)

Is this a quiz?

True, True, False, True, False, True, True, True

Any other questions? (I always like getting extra credit.)

Re:Cue for the following response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656766)

..People actually do fall off roofs.. It's called gravity.

Remote Extensionals? (2)

Zelig (73519) | about 3 years ago | (#35656696)

I've been wondering, as we watch this problem evolve, why they didn't insert robotic remote hands ASAP. This is Japan, after all. What am I missing?

Re:Remote Extensionals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656802)

Radiation will interfere with the up/down link to the robot, making it impossible to control.

It's already in the UK (1)

Tasha26 (1613349) | about 3 years ago | (#35656764)

Heard something on BBC News this morning. From the Guardian "radioactive iodine have been detected at its air monitoring stations (in Oxfordshire and Glasgow) over the last nine days ..."

O.S.R. (Obligitory Simpsons' Reference) (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | about 3 years ago | (#35656794)

"...bravery and quick thinking have turned a potential Chernobyl into a mere Three Mile Island"

This is corroborated by nobody (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about 3 years ago | (#35656804)

This is speculation by ONE guy in an article in the Guardian, hardly a bastion of calm, rational, journalism. NONE of the other usual online sources have corroborated this at all.

An actual meltdown, with the core sitting on the floor of the building, would be front page news across the world, yet only this one article says this is the case.

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