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Fukushima: What Happened and What Needs To Be Done

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the hide-in-our-caves-and-fear-the-mighty-atom dept.

Japan 370

IndigoDarkwolf writes "The sometimes confused media coverage around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant left me wanting for a good summary. Apparently the BBC felt the same way, and now delivers an overview starting from the earthquake and concluding with the current state of the troubled reactors."

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Not much and nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786626)

Not much and nothing?

What needs to be done: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786744)

Re:Not much and nothing? (1, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786938)

Slashdot will be swamped with nuclear power industry apologists pretending "Not much and nothing" happened. Dissent will be modded to oblivion.

Reality will continue to disagree.

Re:Not much and nothing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786986)

Slashdot will be swamped with nuclear power industry apologists pretending "Not much and nothing" happened.

You cannot name a single instance of this occurring.

Re:Not much and nothing? (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787000)

Slashdot will be swamped with nuclear power industry apologists pretending "Not much and nothing" happened. Dissent will be modded to oblivion.

Reality will continue to disagree.

Then, as per Slashdot's usual and customary behavior, nuclear power haters will chime in with some hyperbolic argument in the opposite direction, citing such illustrious sources as YouTube, Wikipedia and the Daily Mail.

Meanwhile, someone will opine that it's George W. Bush's fault (or Dick Cheney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or the Easter Bunny). Several hundred posts will go back and forth covering exactly the same arguments and counterarguments as the last 200 times these subjects were brought up.

The minuscule but apparently earth shattering differences between Democrats and Republicans will be brought up again. Op Cit.

An obscure component manufacturer somewhere in the Pacific Rim announces a major order for some bleeding-edge piece of technology that could conceivably become part of an expensive, digital-lifestyle-enhancing nerd toy.....

Re:Not much and nothing? (5, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787104)

We all use electricity. And we're using more and more of it as time goes on. Coal releases tons of radiation and kills miners as well as being horribly dirty (there is no such thing as clean coal). We're running out of oil and it pollutes. Wind isn't always blowing or in the right place, sun isn't always shining or in the right place, water isn't always available for dams or in the right place and kills huge aquatic populations, not all of the population lives where tidal generators are a possibility... we're running out of options if we want electricity. Nuclear is great for providing a base generating capability, and there's not a whole lot else right now that's feasible or economical, especially considering the amount of nuclear waste we're planning on storing under a rock in Nevada.

Hell, the Fukushima reactor mostly survived the 4th largest earthquake since 1900 [usgs.gov] . And that's a 40 year old design. We're talking the same year that the Intel 4004 was released. That's a hell of a testament to the design of modern nuclear power plants that are more efficient and even safer.

Yes, shit happens. Fukushima failing is horrible. But it's like being afraid of flying when you're perfectly ok with riding your bike, even though you're much more likely to die. [wikipedia.org]

It's not "nuclear apologists". It's realists who want to maintain our standard of life, and understand what acceptable risks are. Life is all about risk management, and flipping out about the word "nuclear" is very poor risk management.

Re:Not much and nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787246)

It's not "nuclear apologists". It's realists who want to maintain our standard of life, and understand what acceptable risks are. Life is all about risk management, and flipping out about the word "nuclear" is very poor risk management.

I think I love you a little.

Re:Not much and nothing? (2, Informative)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787248)

>Coal releases tons of radiation

1. Radiation isn't measured in tons.

2. Radioactive coal has been mined, but this is not as common as you have apparently been led to believe.

Priorites, please!!! (1, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787286)

Reality will continue to disagree.

Let me FTFY: fearmongers will continue to disagree.

Apart from the usual "OMG, it's nuclear!!!" there are no valid arguments against nuclear power.

Let's have a reality check: it was the worst earthquake that ever hit Japan, the estimated material damage is $300 billion, the death count at this point is 12000 plus 13000 other people unaccounted for, presumably their bodies are either buried under the rubble or were washed to the sea.

All this, and all you hear about in the press is about four power plants???!!!??

Re:Not much and nothing? (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787300)

put it into perspective will you. to replace all four permanently damaged reactors at fukishma japan will need to replace roughly 3,000MW of generating capacity.

Wind turbines are roughly 25% efficient in the real world. that means on average a standard 5 MW turbine is really only good for 1.25 MW.

which means to replace the 4 reactors you need roughly 2,500 5 MW wind turbines. or three times the size of the worlds largest wind farm built to date which covers nearly 400km2 of used land area.

to replace just 4 nuclear power plants you literally need an area roughly the half size of rhode island.

Re:Not much and nothing? (3, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787604)

I humbly submit the radical notion that instead of a need to produce more electricity, people could learn to use less.

Re:Not much and nothing? (2)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787192)

In fact a nuclear facility near the sea in a seismic zone was not equipped to properly withstand a tsunami.
It was a big quake but it was 200km away, so dispersion of energy occurred.
You're right it's not much. Standard f*ckup. In other places, buildings that should withstand a quake fall down, killing students (Abruzzo quake).

I recall a video interview with a scientist made before Chernobyl. EVERYTHING that the scientist had said was still true and accurate after that disaster. But in practice somebody thought it was ok to run some test disabling the safeguards and Chernobyl happened. In practice somebody else forgot that in case of flooding the backup diesel generators would also fail and Fukushima happened.

Being against nuclear power is silly, as we depend on a nuclear reactor called the sun, but I have no faith that current government are so independent from interested parties (military, builders, and possibly others) that can do responsible and reasonably safe use of the best nuclear technology. Children playing with firearms.

Re:Not much and nothing? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787582)

I recall a video interview with a scientist made before Chernobyl. EVERYTHING that the scientist had said was still true and accurate after that disaster. But in practice somebody thought it was ok to run some test disabling the safeguards and Chernobyl happened. In practice somebody else forgot that in case of flooding the backup diesel generators would also fail and Fukushima happened.

It's not so much that they forgot about flooding, but that it wasn't in the design spec -- they designed for a 6 meter Tsunami but experienced a 15 meter Tsunami.

Engineers aren't (often) given free reign to design for any arbitrary level of safety, they are given design parameters that they need to take into account. And everything comes at a cost - a plant that's twice as safe might cost 4 times as much, making its power unaffordable. Depending on who you talk to, that might be a good thing - some people think that nuclear *should* be unaffordable and replaced with "safe" power plants like fossil fuels, and alternative energy.

That's the news for ya! (2)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786642)

One minute every channel has the exact same thing, then a few weeks later you go "Wait a minute..." and its like it never happened or it would seem so. Good ol'BBC gets it though.

Re:That's the news for ya! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786742)

of course they were just as equally to blame a month ago with hyped stories, but at least they are circling back around to do some clean up.

Re:That's the news for ya! (2)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787146)

Not that the BBC's reporting is any good these days. I stopped reading it after they echoed the Israeli military's line on the boat raid last year. Hell, they were pretty much printing word for word the press release given by Knesset.

I wouldn't trust this article either, it reads like a press release from Tokyo Electric Co. TEC have proven to be untrustworthy as they refuse to have best practice at the centre of their company doctrine - it's now known that they did everything on the cheap and thus why the reactors weren't decommissioned 10 years ago like they should have been.

Re:That's the news for ya! (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787296)

Not that the BBC's reporting is any good these days. I stopped reading it after they echoed the Israeli military's line on the boat raid last year. Hell, they were pretty much printing word for word the press release given by Knesset.

Doesn't sound like the reporting you'd get from Jeremy Bowen [guardian.co.uk]

first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786648)

first?

Re:first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786720)

nope

This was a team name at Geeks Who Drink trivia.... (2, Funny)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786654)

Japanese families are more nuclear than American families.

Re:This was a team name at Geeks Who Drink trivia. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787280)

Fuck you you asshole, the dirty nips know nothing of Glorious American Values.

They blew up and are melted down (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786688)

At least 2 of the reactors blew up and are melted down, spewing radiation into the air, dumping radioactive water into the ocean and they are too proud to let anyone help them to stop it.

Re:They blew up and are melted down (3, Informative)

BillyBurly (674193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786732)

The reactors did not blow up. The reactor vessel is located inside of a concrete containment structure, which is inside of another building. The explosions happened in the outermost building due to vented hydrogen.

Re:They blew up and are melted down (3, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787258)

Technically "meltdown" simply means failure of the primary cooling system. And it most certainly failed, after standing up to catastrophic events far beyond their rated capacity.

So the reactors technically went into meltdown ... and were brought out again before anything actually melted. A number of indirectly neutron-activated elements, secondary byproducts of the fission reaction, were released into the air, and are totally harmless by now. In fact, over 99% of the Iodine-131 is Xenon by now.

In reality, in Japan :
-> Solar power killed dozens of people (people installing them during the quake, and a few people who got smashed by falling panels)
-> Wind power likewise killed a few people, who were repairing a mast
-> Oil based power killed hundreds of people, due to explosions in refineries and power plants
-> Nuclear power actually got close at one point, to (indirectly) kill 1 person. That person is recovering, and will make a full recovery in less than a month's time
Deaths per TWh energy [nextbigfuture.com] (obviously discounting little details like the gulf wars, which only the absurdly naive claim have nothing to do with fossil fuels)

So ... which is the safest energy source ? Nuclear power is FAR safer than solar power. More than 3x as many people have died from the consequences of using solar power than have died from nuclear power. This is taking into account that we have solar for 10 years, and nuclear for 60, and solar power is not contributing significant energy right now. In other words : the number for nuclear power is likely to not rise at all, and the number of deaths due to solar power is very likely to rise phenomenally.

In any sane society or media, Fukushima would be a very strong argument about how extremely safe nuclear power really is, and how it can stand up to disasters far bigger than what it was built for. In a sane media articles like this [notrickszone.com] would be published, because any panic about nuclear effects will easily kill 10x as many people as the nuclear incidents themselves, just due to traffic accidents.

Additionally, without nuclear fission reactors, we would not be able to do half the medical scans that yearly save tens thousands of lives in the US and all over the world ... Tracers in blood are dependant on nuclear power reactors, for example. In reality nuclear power saves FAR more people than it kills.

Any sane society would build more nuclear power reactors, and pour money into further research into things like nuclear fission, fusion, and whatever. Cheap, safety is far beyond any other power source, portable, absurdly small amounts of fuel needed, and, ironically, less toxic than solar panels, and far less mechanically dangerous than wind power, and let's just shut up about fossil fuels and their wars, or coal ... what possible other thing could you ask for in a power source ?

And why the fuck are we focusing on this ? Some 10000 people died due to many different reasons, all of which basically boil down to direct effects of the force of nature. To all of the media their deaths are merely a tool to implement their preferred policy, which is, for reasons I cannot fathom, anti-nuclear.

Re:They blew up and are melted down (1)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787394)

Because we as a species treat a radiation outbreak the same way we treat a potential outbreak of the plague.

Persective (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786696)

Pity that the nuclear problems seemed to overshadow all the vastly more important and tragic aspects of the quake and tsunami.

Re:Persective (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786740)

What quake and what tsunami?

Re:Persective (2)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787020)

you cannot keep killing people slowly with coal and oil if there is a replacement so it was an opportunity to try and demonize it even though statics show it is safer on average.

Re:Persective (1)

borrrden (2014802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787252)

I agree coal and oil are not a valid solution, but I'm not convinced that nuclear fission is either. Accidents are not my primary concern though, it's the waste that bothers me. Hopefully this accident will bring some revived thinking to either how to improve the nuclear process (or at least start replacing such old technology like in Fukushima) or a viable renewable solution.

Persective indeed (4, Interesting)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787602)

The waste is the biggest problem?
1. No civilian spent fuel was ever accidentally or on purpose released into the environment, even though transportation of it is common. Soviet military waste was sometimes dumped directly into rivers, but this is really unrelated to nuclear power.
2. The only person that ever died from civilian spent fuel was a guy that got ran over by a train during an anti-nuclear protest. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_S%C3%A9bastien_Briat [wikipedia.org]
3. If someone used only nuclear electricity (average U.S. electricity consumption) from present reactor technology for their entire life, he would generate about a soda can of waste.
4. Vitrified nuclear waste is completely insoluble in water. It's rather hard to spread it over a large area. Even if it was just dumped into the ocean, there would be no harm to humans - the waste would bury itself in the seabed. We are not using this solution because Greenpeace and other assorted clowns do not understand anything about marine biology or oceanography. http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/96oct/seabed/seabed.htm [theatlantic.com]
5. Even if the waste does somehow escape into the environment, it is very easy to detect this. Radiation detectors are very cheap and compact compared to the laboratory setups needed to analyze chemical pollution - so cheap and compact that every radiation worker has their own detector that keeps track of their exposure. This fact facilitates cleanup operations.

I can understand the uneasy feelings, but let's have some perspective. This isn't even as bad as the hazardous chemical waste we already have to deal with (e.g. from semiconductor production, mining and metallurgy), which unlike nuclear waste will remain toxic forever.

Re:Persective (1)

black6host (469985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787462)

>>Pity that the nuclear problems seemed to overshadow all the vastly more important and tragic aspects of the quake and tsunami.

Indeed. Many people's lives were shattered. Corporations involved did what corporations do but I do not consider the handling of this situation any worse than BP's spill. Actually, I believe that the operators of the plant were more forthcoming and there was a lot of confusion going on related to what was screwed, where the problems were, etc.. Not to mention that knowing the problems didn't mean knowing the solutions. It has, and continues to be a terrible tragedy.

Fact is we are human and as much as we'd like to account for all risk factors I have to agree that given the technology is so old it could have been much worse. It also means that we'll never obtain anything that is 100% fail safe. Six nines maybe but never perfect. Does that lessen the pain of those suffering, or who are going to suffer and don't know it yet? No. But as long as we engineer things (some of which simply boggle my mind) on the edge there will always be a risk.

To address the immediate topic, I read a great deal, from different sources, on what was happening at any point in time and I didn't feel any gaps in the coverage (other than some information wasn't released, some argue for cultural reasons, in quite a timely manner as I might have liked. I read quite a bit though and I'm sure the summary will be helpful tor those that didn't.

Bottom line, it's the people I care about first and foremost.

the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots !? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786700)

Fukishiama has been one disaster event after another. They delayed for days doing anything and now they will screw something else when the the next problem comes up. Fuck ups over and over again for the first time. Basically Japan is a reflection of us in the future. Good luck NUKE heads. Why don't you guys that are pro (IDIOTS) nuke reactors volunteer to do the menial jobs at nuclear reactors in the US and work there until the dosage meter says you no longer can. PLEASE DO YOUR PART !!!! Cancer? Don't worry if they say it's safe it must be. What you don't want to volunteeer to clean the nuclear reactor? You do relaize that everything needs maintenance don't you?

Re:the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786826)

Please rate parent post as troll.

Greenpeace, before anyone knew what was happening and without any scientific basis whatsoever declared that there would be 90,000 deaths from this 'disaster.' Even THEY reported that the Japanese government was producing reliable radiation readings when compared to their own on-site readings. When they, with a long standing history of propaganda against the Japanese vouches for the Japanese government then it's obvious that the Japanese government has some credibility in this area.

Re:the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786846)

Ummm.... Those idiots have the best disaster response in the world. They did not delay and did not screw up. They did the best they could; far better than the US did in Katrina.

But then don't let your paranoia and xenophobia get in the way of the facts.

Re:the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots (2)

leehwtsohg (618675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787062)

I think the biggest mistake in the handling of the disaster was to leave the plant in the hands of the company. While it might be true that they know their plant best, once an incident like this happens, one should immediately bring the best people in the world or maybe Japan to handle the disaster. These should have basically unlimited funds and resources which in the end would probably be paid by the company. The reactor is or can affect a huge area, and it shouldn't just being the hands of the power company to fix it. These people could drop by with good radiation suits and possibly a portable diesel generator. Basically the nuclear fire brigade made up of specially trained Feynmans and McGyvers.

Nuclear Fire Brigage (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787272)

"Basically the nuclear fire brigade made up of specially trained Feynmans and McGyvers."

The "Feynmans and McGyvers" bit made me chuckle, but your point is well taken.

Running a nuclear power plant is one thing. Managing damaged reactors is quite another.

Re:the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots (1)

piripiri (1476949) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787546)

Captain Hindsight [southparkstudios.com] saved the day one more time.

Re:the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots (1)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787108)

> Those idiots have the best disaster response in the world.

Yeah. The Japanese response was so bad that the US was considering a compulsory evacaution of all US nationals:

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110411004893.htm [yomiuri.co.jp]

"Commenting on the Japanese government's slow response, a U.S. government source said Washington had offered immediately after the accident to provide a pump to help cool the reactors, but the Kan administration turned down the offer

Another U.S. government source noted that in the initial stage of the crisis, Japan had taken the stance that there was no room for U.S. assistance when it came to dealing with the problem."

Re:the nuclear disaster handled by JAPanse Idiots (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787438)

far better than the US did in Katrina.

As a resident of N'Awlins, I feel I must point out that the disaster response after Katrina was far better than the media made it seem to be.

Pretty much like Fukushima, in fact. Things are blown out of proportion, much scare-mongering is occurring.

In Before (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786718)

"if you don't think we're all gonna die of radiation poisonning, that the whole world will not become unihabitable due to fukushima, and that the level of contamination 10000km away from fukushima is fine, why don't you go spend a week in fukushima with no protection just next to reactor 2 ?"

Re:In Before (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786822)

So, if I think something 10,000 miles away is not critically affected, I must also think that something at ground zero is uncontaminated?

Please don't post again. You're stupid.

Re:In Before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786874)

That was a parody of other slashdot posts in other stories. Hint: the in before in the title and the quotes. And I didn't even got the "in before" by 2 minutes, see 6:17 post

What 'happened'? (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786726)

It's a generalization, but I can summarize what needs to happen in three words: "Evacuate, contain, bury."

Re:What 'happened'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786770)

What happened? Earthquake and tsunami. Obsolete nuclear reactor containment.

What needs to be done? Contain and clean up.

There. Article is now over. Next?

Re:What 'happened'? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786856)

"Obsolete nuclear reactor containment"

There is no such thing. There is only enough, or not enough. Obsolete is not enough. Once it was determined that the reactor design was flawed and the failure-mitigation systems were worthless, the only correct thing to do would have been to refit the design with failure-mitigation systems that were bulletproof.

There are dozens of this sort of reactor still in use. All of them should be fitted with gravity-fed cooling systems, immediately.

Re:What 'happened'? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786940)

There is only enough, or not enough.

Well, if you want a binary answer, then there was enough nuclear reactor containment.

Re:What 'happened'? (2)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786966)

There are dozens of this sort of reactor still in use. All of them should be fitted with gravity-fed cooling systems, immediately.

Indeed, although I think the more difficult problem is going to be finding a constant supply of pure water to circulate as coolant when disaster strikes. Most disasters are going to cause hell for whatever container you're using to keep millions of gallons of pure water at the ready.

Re:What 'happened'? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787114)

Problem #2 is giving a damn about the reactor once it breaks. You need pure water only if you want to restart it. But when you're trying to prevent people dying by busloads, nobody much is going to care if you can restart it. Whatever coolant you have is fine.

Re:What 'happened'? (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786804)

Maybe not.. Remember that movie where they put out oil well fires by exploding nitroglycerin? Maybe here if they drop a nuclear bomb on the plant, radiation coming from the reactors won't be such a big issue. It's a little like dropping a brick on your foot to forget about your headache.

Re:What 'happened'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786972)

So to avoid the core melting and going through the 8 meters thick concrete floor of the central and contaminating the ground water, you propose to blow up the reactor with a nuke so 100% of the nuclear combustible in the reactor and all the used fuel currently in the pools are blown away in the atmosphere. That's genius, The radiaoctive material won't be concentrated enough to generate enough heat to melt and transform into magma ! So tha magma won't be able to melt through the concrete floor and reach outside of the confinement !

Re:What 'happened'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787274)

Where's the 'idiot' moderation option?

Re:What 'happened'? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787292)

Yeah.. You'd have to be to take that seriously.. *sheesh*

What do you mean, "what happened?" (2, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786746)

There was a massive earthquake followed by an equally massive tsunami that buried the plant under 10 feet of water. That's what happened.

Earthquakes of that magnitude are rare. There have only been 6 in the world since 1900, and none of those were in Japan.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786864)

So we can expect one somewhere every 16-18 years. And we have hundreds of nuclear reactors worldwide. And we still run reactors that are built out of Jenga blocks?

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (2)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786918)

How many of the hundreds of reactors are along known fault lines?

Of those, how many are susceptible to tsunamis?

Remember...if not for the tsunami knocking out the diesel generators, Fukushima wouldn't have been a catastrophe.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787018)

How many of the hundreds of reactors are along known fault lines?

Of those, how many are susceptible to tsunamis?

Two are in California, near (but not directly on ) fault lines.

One is on a high cliffside, so it's likely not susceptible to tsunami, but the other is close to the sea so is vulnerable.

One plant was built to withstand a 7.0 quake, the other a 7.5 quake, but there's a good chance of a 7.5 or larger quake in California over the next 30 years. Oh and one plant had the entire reactor vessel installed backwards, and at the other plant the earthquake reinforcements were installed backwards.

Neither plant uses the same BWR design as Fukushima, but both plants are 25 - 30 years old.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diablo_Canyon_Power_Plant [wikipedia.org]

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787094)

Ok... so you are saying we need to fix and/or refit two reactors to ensure they are more robust than they currently are.

I don't think you'll find anyone here who will argue with you on that, except maybe whoever has to foot the bill of course.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787122)

You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.

Statistics are like that.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787144)

Ok... so you are saying we need to fix and/or refit two reactors to ensure they are more robust than they currently are.

I don't think you'll find anyone here who will argue with you on that, except maybe whoever has to foot the bill of course.

I'm not saying anything, just answering the parent poster's question.

But since you asked, I doubt that retrofitting any additional safeguards into the current reactors would be cost effective, and you still end up with a 30 year old reactor that's a bit safer.

If it were up to me, I'd say scrap the current reactors and replace them with a more modern design that is more intrinsically safe. Oh, and maybe move farther from the shoreline since if there ever was a big radiation release, the proximity to the ocean just provides another avenue to spread the radiation. Although the ocean does provide a convenient and unlimited source of cooling water, some newer reactor designs don't need water to stay safe.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787200)

If it were up to me, I'd say scrap the current reactors and replace them with a more modern design that is more intrinsically safe

I agree wholeheartedly. Newer reactors are better reactors.

Too bad it's been...oh...about 30 years since a new reactor was built in the US.

Although the ocean does provide a convenient and unlimited source of cooling water

Another convenient fact about the ocean: no one lives there. A nuclear disaster will hurt fewer people, then.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787240)

But since you asked, I doubt that retrofitting any additional safeguards into the current reactors would be cost effective, and you still end up with a 30 year old reactor that's a bit safer.

If it were up to me, I'd say scrap the current reactors and replace them with a more modern design that is more intrinsically safe

For sure. I'd said refit, but I'd be even happier with replace too.

Re:What do you mean, "what happened?" (2)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787606)

Fortunately the California quakes come from slip-strike faults that are unlikely to generate anything larger than an 8.3 or so. They're also on land for most of their distance, so tsunamis are unlikely. Of course the plants should be forced to revalidate their ability to withstand earthquake and tsunami. And every plant in the country should be forced to put containment around spent fuel pools or pack their spent fuel rods and move them to a storage site. (The president should be making an emergency declaration opening Yucca Mountain for this purpose.)

The truth (0)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786750)

I think it will take a while for the full extent of this disaster to become known. Tepco and the government have been downplaying everything since day one. When the first plant exploded due to the hydrogen buildup, and they said in effect that "It isn't a big deal - just the superficial structure over the reactors was damaged" I knew for sure that they were painting a totally different picture than reality. The amount of destruction from those explosions was tremendous. What gets me is that after the first reactor building explosion, they still could not prevent the second (and worse) explosion. As an armchair nuclear plant operator, it sure seems like they have done a very poor job trying to reign in control of the situation.

Re:The truth (3, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786890)

The "building" that blew off is just a light screen around the reactor building itself. It's very light weight panels hung on an equally light frame, designed to screen the reactor building from view. Nothing else. A relatively small explosoin would blow the panels off. They did not "prevent" the second explosion; it was a calculated risk necessitated by a release of steam and hydrogen from the overheated core.

If you've been following the IAEA blog it's serious but not out of control.

Re:The truth (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786892)

The amount of destruction from those explosions was tremendous.

What does that mean? What got damaged? Looks to me like they were right, the damage was to stuff outside the reactor which was mostly superficial.

As an armchair nuclear plant operator, it sure seems like they have done a very poor job trying to reign in control of the situation.

Suppose you were in charge. How would you get power for cooling reactors and for the hydrogen discharge systems on these reactors? I don't see you doing any better, because the problem wasn't them not doing a poor job, but being unable to do what needed to be done for several days after the tsunami.

I see your post as an example of confirmation bias. You were looking for them to dissemble or show incompetence, and you saw what you wanted to see.

Re:The truth (1)

cheesecake23 (1110663) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787130)

Looks to me like they were right, the damage was to stuff outside the reactor which was mostly superficial.

From Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]

"An explosion was heard after 06:14 JST on 15 March in unit 2, possibly damaging the pressure-suppression system, which is at the bottom part of the containment vessel."

"On 30 March, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (JNISA) reiterated concerns about a possible unit 2 breach at either the suppression pool, or the reactor vessel."

"On 27 March, TEPCO reported measurements of very high radiation levels of over 1000 mSv/h in the basement of the unit 2 turbine building"

And the money quote: (source [nhk.or.jp] )

"On April 11, the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency officially raised the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi to Level 7 on the INES scale. This makes Fukushima the second Level 7 "major accident" in the history of the nuclear industry."

Re:The truth (2)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787488)

They screwed up venting the the reactor into the containment building because they were afraid of needles moving on radiation detectors half a mile away. They though they were doing good PR, buying time for very short half-life isotopes to decay, but instead they got an explosion. From a structural point of view it doesn't matter, but from a practical point of view it is harder to work in a building in which there has been a recent explosion than one that hasn't. Oh, and the PR backfired, explosions suck more than temporary radiation spikes.

The pressure had to be vented, and they made the wrong call.

The story of Fukashima is don't build nuclear plants in places that can get hit by both an earthquake and a tsunami. Nothing more, nothing less.

Re:The truth (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786942)

Everything depended on the assumption that the coolant had a backup system.

Once that assumption was mooted by the tsunami, the flaws in the rest of the system became known.

One of which is that once you lose cooling and can't get it restarted, you will inexorably have to vent hydrogen into a closed space full of air. Another is that there is no way to vent it to the outside to reduce the effects of an explosion. Another is that an explosion will further damage the plumbing, making it even harder to get the cooling system working again. Another is that if the cooling system is completely bunged, there's no way to throw external coolant on the thing that has any effect. And another is that they stored the "spent" fuel rods in bunches in what is basically an open swimming pool, so that any chance it gets to evaporate the water around it will result in a fire.

What's criminal here is that these things were known to be bad assumptions long ago, but these reactors were operating as originally installed. Newer reactors don't have a dependency on electric pumps for cooling. Nothing was done to make these safer.

They should have active venting to the outside so that gas buildups can be mitigated. And they should avoid explosive-gas generating chemical reactions in all states of operation or disrepair.

Re:The truth (3, Interesting)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787268)

Everything depended on the assumption that the coolant had a backup system.Once that assumption was mooted by the tsunami, the flaws in the rest of the system became known.

Not really. The real assumption that failed was that even if there was a complete loss of power in the plant, power could be reasonably quickly (8 hours) provided from outside the plant. The problems escalated because no supplies were available due to tsunami devastation, not even freshwater. The power grid was so damaged that an extra cable had to be laid to get any external power.

One of which is that once you lose cooling and can't get it restarted, you will inexorably have to vent hydrogen into a closed space full of air. Another is that there is no way to vent it to the outside to reduce the effects of an explosion.

The hydrogen was vented inside the containment on purpose, to allow activation products to decay. It could be vented outside the containment, but this would increase the radiation emissions, which the operators desperately wanted to minimize at that point. Hydrogen explosion was deemed an acceptable risk. It looks like this kind of mindset, "reduce public radiation exposure at all cost", is what caused the situation to escalate.

Another is that if the cooling system is completely bunged, there's no way to throw external coolant on the thing that has any effect.

The design assumption was that once cooling completely fails, the reactor will be drained, sealed and allowed to melt down. But this would necessitate a very costly cleanup which TEPCO wanted to avoid.

And another is that they stored the "spent" fuel rods in bunches in what is basically an open swimming pool, so that any chance it gets to evaporate the water around it will result in a fire.

Storing them elsewhere would necessarily expose the workers to more radiation. The point of the temporary storage near the reactor is to allow the fuel to lose most of its radioactivity before it is moved to a longer-term storage location.

What's criminal here is that these things were known to be bad assumptions long ago, but these reactors were operating as originally installed.

Each of the design considerations had a lot of thought behind it. The real problem is that the nuclear safety regulations are not based on a realistic risk analysis, but on fantasies (e.g. child drinking maximally contaminated water for an entire year, or somebody eating exclusively spinach for an entire year). As a result, the operators focused minimizing public radiation exposure rather than on stabilizing the facility, which was actually counterproductive.

Re:The truth (1)

Golden_Rider (137548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787032)

I think it will take a while for the full extent of this disaster to become known. Tepco and the government have been downplaying everything since day one. When the first plant exploded due to the hydrogen buildup, and they said in effect that "It isn't a big deal - just the superficial structure over the reactors was damaged" I knew for sure that they were painting a totally different picture than reality. The amount of destruction from those explosions was tremendous. What gets me is that after the first reactor building explosion, they still could not prevent the second (and worse) explosion. As an armchair nuclear plant operator, it sure seems like they have done a very poor job trying to reign in control of the situation.

They *intentionally* vented the hydrogen to prevent bigger problems. The explosion was inevitable.

Re:The truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787232)

I am so fed up with pricks like you...read the original sources

TEPCO (in English) http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html
National japanese radiation levels http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/saigaijohou/syousai/1303723.htm
IAEA http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html
WHO http://www.who.int/hac/crises/jpn/en/index.html

Are you seriously saying that every one is covering it up - from the plant operator all the way to the UN ?!

Re:The truth (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787256)

There is quite a bit of independent monitoring:

http://blog.energy.gov/content/situation-japan/ [energy.gov]
http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html [iaea.org]

(Note that those links both use the available TEPCO data, but they also list other data)

So if there is a coverup, it is more than just TEPCO and Japan.

And you have been fear-mongering since day one (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787310)

When the first plant exploded due to the hydrogen buildup, and they said in effect that "It isn't a big deal - just the superficial structure over the reactors was damaged"

That's actually correct. They downplayed other things but that was totally accurate. You and people like you are spreading unwarranted fear, costing the Japanese economy billions of dollars through loss of tourism, and also causing incalculable harm to the environment through the many more years of coal fired plants we will now have to endure, which ironically will spread more radiation than every nuclear accident we have ever had combined.

It has ever been thus, those willfully ignorant of science and facts blocking progress, but humanity will hopefully work around this damage as they have over time and eventually we will progress and fix the damage you have caused.

Re:And you have been fear-mongering since day one (1)

bware (148533) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787550)

When the first plant exploded due to the hydrogen buildup, and they said in effect that "It isn't a big deal - just the superficial structure over the reactors was damaged"

That's actually correct. They downplayed other things but that was totally accurate. You and people like you are spreading unwarranted fear [...] It has ever been thus, those willfully ignorant of science and facts blocking progress

You should have a talk with the professor of mechanical engineering from Caltech, a nuclear reactor safety expert, who gave us a talk on Fukushima last week. You could set him straight. He, in his ignorance, thought that the explosions were an unmitigated disaster, and used the video and photo evidence to show why he thought so. He also thought that due to the poor hydrogen vent design of the plant that they didn't have any choice. But he didn't say that the explosions weren't a big deal. Rather the opposite.

Re:The truth (3, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787514)

There are a couple of issues I have seen in the reporting and comparing the report to the photos.

First is regarding the build up of Hydrogen. Some hydrogen build up over time is what has been portrayed. The actual is Zirconium is flammable the same as Magnesium and Titanium. All burn in water or steam. If you have ever seen a magnesium engine block hit with a fireman's hose, you get the idea. Powdered Zirconium is considered an explosive. Fine Zirconium wool as used in flashbulbs, but in an oxygen atmosphere. The reaction with water or steam starts at lower temperatures. The reaction is exothermic. The fuel itself adds heat. At temperatures near 800-1,000 C the reaction changes to a fire. This rapid oxidization of the Zirconium is the source of the rapid and LARGE release of Hydrogen. In the presence of burning Zirconium, there is no free Oxygen so in the presence of this ignition source there is no ignition of the Hydrogen in the Hydrogen/steam cloud. After the Zirconium burnt, the air in the room was then able to come in contact with glowing fuel pellets. This resulted in the ignition of the hydrogen.

From a few days ago, there was a report of some fuel rods found up to a mile away and was bulldozed under to shield them. They don't say much about the containment in #3 other than to say it may have been breeched. That is an understatement. Look up and spend a good amount of time watching videos of demolitions of buildings. Note the blast and resulting dust. The flash happens first then the building breaks. Explosions in #1 and #4 are consistent with the shell and a hydrogen explosion inside. The flash is over before the building ruptures. The ejected material is limited in distance and the blast shape is relatively uniform.

Watch the video of #3. There are some striking differences from anything already seen. First as the building ruptures, there is a large flash, much of it is OUTSIDE the building. Ignition may have been triggered by the blast and was due to the blast. Second using Newton's laws, look at the stuff ejected in the blast. This blast is far from uniform from a blast in the top of the building. At the end of the video, note the very large amount of heavy objects falling from the top of the blast dome. Unlike the other blasts, there are large holes from large heavy objects falling on the turbine hall. These are not from the roof of the building. The blasts from #1 and #4 do not have large heavy itmes falling out of it.

Examination of the high resolution UAV photos raises some more concerns. The containment may have been breeched, but most reporters are citing a lack of evidence of this. I'll tell you where to look. Look on the two pipes that run along the turbine buildings. Look between the turbine hall for #4 and the #4 reactor. Remember those pipes are about 10-12 feet in diameter each. Look for onsite vehicles for size references. Note the object sitting on both pipes. It is covered with dust from the #4 unit explosion. Zoom in and take a good look at it. Knowing the width of each of the pipes and the fact it is resting on both of them, guess it's width. Now look at he edge of the item. Care to guess how thick it is? Now note that it has a painted surface. Under the dust layer it is clearly Yellow. Care to guess what it is and where it came from?

While looking at the high resolution photos from the UAW, look next to the reactor 3 building where the pile of plumbing is lying next to the building. All that plumbing is uniform is size. I'm thinking that is scattered fuel rods from the cooling pond. I think the cooling pond is gone and the steam rising form #3 is not from the pond, but form the containment known as the dry well. I can not tell from the photo if the reactor lid is in place. I'm guessing either a hydrogen buildup in the dry-well exploded or the lid to the reactor blew off. This resulted in the outer containment breech shown in the video. This breech then released the contained Hydrogen which then ignited, This is seen as the flash outside the building.

decent news source on fukushima plants (4, Informative)

BillyBurly (674193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786792)

http://nei.org/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/ [nei.org] they have good daily updates. at the bottom of the current days update there is a link to the archives

Re:decent news source on fukushima plants (2)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787166)

Nuclear Energy Institute? Isn't that sort of like tobacco health studies from Phillip Morris?

Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acciden (5, Interesting)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786794)

The Japan Times [japantimes.co.jp] reports:

The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan released a preliminary calculation Monday saying that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had been releasing up to 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour at some point after a massive quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11.

The disclosure prompted the government to consider raising the accident's severity level to 7, the worst on an international scale, from the current 5, government sources said. The level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale has only been applied to the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

If the levels they are reporting are correct then every hour (for a few hours) Fukushima was releasing roughly 0.1% of the total release from Chernobyl. If those levels were maintained for a day (which they were not), that would be almost 2% of Chernobyl per day.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786924)

You got modded up to 5 for pointing out that this *is* a Chernobyl-scale situation? Either the nuclear apologists have gone into hiding or they misread your post.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (4, Informative)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35786990)

This comparison is misleading, even if the raw amounts of radiation are comparable. The radioactive materials released from Fukushima Daiichi when those readings were taken have a half-life of minutes and don't pose a health hazard outside of the really close vicinity. The materials released from Chernobyl were much more dangerous, as they have a half-life of a couple hundred years, and only negligible amounts of those have been released from Fukushima.

Bottom line: this accident is not at all like Chernobyl, even though the "OMG RADIATION SPEWING FROM REACTORS!!!!!!" media likes to think so.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (1)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787216)

Short half-life isotopes tend to release a lot of radiation during that short time. They're better long term contamination wise, sure - but saying things are benign because they have a short half-life is just wrong.

The two biggest offenders at Chernobyl were iodine-131, with a halflife of days, and Cs-137, 30 years. It's mostly the Cs now, obviously. Iodine was the biggest contributor to dose at the time of the incident, however.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787278)

The releases from the Fukushima reactors were nearly all highly-mobile radioactive elements such as iodine, a vapour at normal temperature and cesium, a low-melting-point metal dispersed during the venting of steam and hydrogen from the reactor vessels. The Tchernobyl releases included large amounts of everything in the burning core after the entire reactor vessel slagged down and exposed it to the world including strontium-90, a bone-seeker which usually has too high a melting point to be easily released from a reactor.

The good news (if there is any) is that iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days and a stable non-radioactive daughter, xenon. In three months time only 0.1% of it will be left and in a year it will be down to one-billionth of the original release. The bad news is that the major cesium isotope released, Cs-137 has a half-life of thirty years and it's not going away any time soon except through environmental means or a massive hands-on cleanup operation.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (3, Informative)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787496)

According to the Nuclear Energy Agency [oecd-nea.org] the majority of the radioactivity released at Chernobyl was in Xenon-33 with a half-life of 5 days. This was followed by Iodine-131 (half-life 8 days) and Tellurium-132 (half-life 78 hours). The next most active element released (measured in Becquerels) was only 3% of the Xenon released, and it has a half-life of 13 days.

If I read the report from the NEA correctly then ISTM I was comparing apples to apples.

Furthermore, unless one or more of the reactor cores at Fukushima has gone critical again after the shutdown then any direct product of the fission reactions that has a half-life measured in minutes was gone after the first day of the accident, well before the meltdowns and hydrogen explosions and measured releases of significant amounts of radioactivity.

There are certainly very short-lived isotopes that are part of the decay chain of long-lived isotopes. Iodine-131 is a perfect example. The problem is that they will continue to be created for the duration of the longer-lived isotopes.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787060)

What are you talking about? Fukushima radiation is MUCH HIGHER than Chernobyl: "According to reports from Soviet scientists, 28,000 km (10,800 mi) were contaminated by cesium-137 to levels greater than 185 kBq/m. Roughly 830,000 people lived in this area. About 10,500 km (4,000 mi) were contaminated by caesium-137 to levels greater than 555 kBq/m. Of this total, roughly 7,000 km (2,700 mi) lie in Belarus, 2,000 km (800 mi) in the Russian Federation and 1,500 km (580 mi) in Ukraine. About 250,000 people lived in this area. These reported data were corroborated by the International Chernobyl Project."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_accident_effects

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787164)

28000km^2 * 185kBq/(m^2) + 10500km^2*555kBq/(m^2)~= 11 PBq.

And this is only cesium. Iodine is more than 1000 times as radioactive. You can bet chernobyl released quite a bit of that as well.

Re:Japan to raise severity level of Fukushima acci (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787306)

Considering that Chernobyl released several percent of its core directly into the air through a graphite fire, and the reactor that exploded at Chernobyl was rated at 1000 MW (roughly the combined power of units 1 and 2 at Fukushima I), this can only be an extremely pessimistic upper bound.

France detects radioactive iodine in rain,milk (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35786958)

The risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer "negligible," according to CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity. The NGO is advising pregnant women and infants against "risky behaviour," such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves.
CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity said it had detected radioactive iodine-131 in rainwater in south-eastern France. In parallel testing, the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the national public institution monitoring nuclear and radiological risks, found iodine 131 in milk. In normal times, no trace of iodine-131 should be detectable in rainwater or milk.

http://www.euractiv.com/en/health/radiation-risks-fukushima-longer-negligible-news-503947

Re:France detects radioactive iodine in rain,milk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787090)

"consumption of rainwater as a primary source of drinking water should be avoided"

wtf

Important Events Missing from BBC Timeline (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787008)

Day 1 - pro-nuclear activists claim there's nothing wrong, there's no danger, containment is fine, no radiation will leak

Day 2 - pro-nuclear activists claim there's nothing wrong, there's no danger, containment is fine, radiation leaks are minor

Day 3 - pro-nuclear activists claim there's nothing wrong, there's no danger, containment breach hardly matters

Day 4 - pro-nuclear activists claim there's nothing wrong, there's minimal danger
...

Day N - pro-nuclear activists claim nobody could have predicted a Tsunami on the Japanese coastline

Re:Important Events Missing from BBC Timeline (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787050)

why are you posting anonymous then?

Re:Important Events Missing from BBC Timeline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35787138)

day 1: "eva joly" french/norvegian ecologist, announce the containment at fukushima has been blown up and that the core is now exposed to the air with no containment then talk about nuclear explosions.

day2: people politely correct her and tell her that while the situation is dire it's not as dire as she' thinks and that containment is still holding and has not been blown up.

day 5: Announcement that the containment is leaking and that the water in the pools that are outside of the confinement dome is evaporating rapidly.

day N: People interpret the correction on day 2 as nuclear activists telling everyone there was no danger.

Extensive damage and scale (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787012)

I've taken a very good look at each part of the picture, and I'm amazed how much damage was done to the reactor buildings. Each and every building you see on the picture is much larger as it appears to be on previous photo's and video's I saw. Just compare the cars sitting next to the buildings. Then take a good look at each building: every one of them sustained extensive damage. There is a huge pipe that has been broken outside the most damaged building (3 most likely) - some of the pipes seem to have been mended. The power of the second big explosion is pretty clear from the buildings in front and to the back of reactor 3.

The fact that some of the heat is still at 224 degrees or so does not sound good either. How can you cool such a thing well without strong presure is beyond me, it's way above boiling point. And the water will be poluted with all kinds of radioactive elements.

Re:Extensive damage and scale (1)

stevelinton (4044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787096)

Explosions are funny things. An explosion INSIDE a structure does huge damage to it, but an explosion outside a strong structure, especially one that has high pressure inside, does very little. The important structures here are the ones you can't see, the steel and concrete pressure vessels that contain the nuclear reaction. The hydrogen explosions mostly seem not to have damaged those.

Zombie apocalypse (1)

richardellisjr (584919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787048)

I think we've learned that nuclear power has risks but is still much safer and efficient than most of the other possibilities.

On a related note do nuclear plants have the capability to shutdown cleanly? Otherwise the upcoming zombie apocalypse means I need to get the fuck away from any nuclear plants since zombies usually don't make good nuclear engineers.

Re:Zombie apocalypse (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787174)

The real question is this: in the unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse (nuclear or otherwise), and upon meeting a zombie Natalie Portman, would you shoot her in the head, or would you fuck her brains out (if you catch my drift)?

Re:Zombie apocalypse (1)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787342)

They shut down the reaction cleanly, sure. However, decay heat will cause the rods to melt if you don't cool them afterwards.

At shutdown, the rods put out something like 7% of full power, from decay heat. it falls to 1% after a day or so, but you need years for them to be cool enough to not require real cooling anymore.

so yeah, i'd probably just leave during the apocalypse. take a trip out to the boondocks. remember your canned goods.

Understatement of the month... (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787126)

"In the meantime, further subplots would not be helpful."

Nice but a little late (5, Insightful)

EdwinFreed (1084059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787148)

It's nice that the Beeb has released this fairly calm and unbiased recap, but less sensationalistic coverage from the start would have been a whole lot nicer.

I've been watching the coverage of this story on a bunch of different sites for the past few weeks, and this [mitnse.com] is the best I've found - the MIT nuclear science and engineering site. Well written factual articles about the situation, almost entirely devoid of speculation and fearmongering, along with background articles on stuff like how toxic Plutonium is, how radiation doses are measured, etc.

Unfortunately Ivo Vegter [thedailymaverick.co.za] is entirely correct: Every mainstream journalist out there should hang their heads in shame in regards to how their profession has covered this incident.

We can't handle the technology! (4, Insightful)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35787346)

We need to accept that we are not capable of cutting through the BS and making clear decisions where highly toxic, unstable, and corrosive substances are handled in a complex manner for great profit (hundreds of millions of dollars).
Put another way, we need trusted technologists to tell us if things are safe or not. Apparently these can be bought when there is lots of money to be made.
At best, people don't think clearly. At worst, we are being lied to and as a result people die and whole regions are rendered toxic.

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