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Fukushima and Chernobyl Side-by-Side

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the holy-super-pollution dept.

Japan 284

gbrumfiel writes "It's now been six months since an earthquake and tsunami sparked a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. New data from the Japanese government is now allowing a closer comparison of the fallout from the disaster with the Chernobyl. In terms of Cs-137, the contaminant of greatest concern, Fukushima appears to be about a fifth as bad as Chernobyl. Nature News has a Google Earth mash-up that lets you see the two accidents together. Nature also reports that chaos and bureaucracy are slowing efforts to research the crisis." (Note: There's plenty left for Linux users in the accompanying text, but the Google Earth plug-in is for Windows and Mac OS X only.)

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284 comments

As a Linux user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339342)

I am disappoint.

Re:As a Linux user (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339352)

As a windows users on a PC with Limited access I am disappoint as well.

Re:As a Linux user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339412)

As a windows user, with a mild hangover, I'm simply not in the mood for installing plug-ins.

Re:As a Linux user (1)

Alworx (885008) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339756)

As a Chrome user on Windows having to *install* the plugin... I am dissappoint(ed)

Re:As a Linux user (1)

alcarinque (1534085) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339414)

When I read your comment I thought I would find a silverlight plugin thing in that page. Instead I find the same message, but with a google logo. Things do change fast.

Re:As a Linux user (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339698)

It's especially surprising since they actually provide a decent Google Earth binary for Linux, but not the plugin for some reason.

I say it loud and I say it proud, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339470)

fuck Linux users. Fuck you up your tight, puckered, conceded assholes.

Re:I say it loud and I say it proud, (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339516)

Unless they received their assholes due to some sort of concession, I think you mean "conceited".

Re:I say it loud and I say it proud, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339520)

Seems to me that once the asshole is conceded, it is no longer tight.

Re:I say it loud and I say it proud, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339664)

For being proud, you seem to be hiding behind the coward label. Log in and say it.

Re:As a Linux user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339508)

Remeber this moment the next time you rant against the iPhone and Flash.

Re:As a Linux user (1)

ThisIsSaei (2397758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339592)

Even as a part-time windows user, installing a plug-in that's only going to work while I'm booted into this partition to view a single map doesn't seem appealing to me.

Re:As a Linux user (1)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340196)

Are you really suprised that they don't offer a plugin that will benefit 1% of all computer users?

Windows (and Microsoft) sucks ass. OSX/Apple is no better. But stop pretending that Linux (on the desktop) actually matters to anyone but the 100 of us here on /. that like to bitch.

I use linux, and if this article was important to me, I'd view it on my work Windows box or my own Windows partition. You can do the same. We have choices here, and if we choose to limit ourselves to an OS that doesn't do what we want it to, its our own stupid fault for being arrogant assholes.

Accuracy in the article. Wow (3, Insightful)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339374)

"The total radioactive release from Fukushima is currently estimated at about 5.5% of Chernobyl, which spewed an incredible 14x1019Bq. "

Finally a story, (from something called the Nature News Blog no less), that doesn't try to say that the Japan incident is as bad a Chernobyl. Responsibility in reporting? I am shocked.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339436)

The real Fallout from Fukushima is renewed fear of Nuclear power as if dumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere is LESS hazardous.

What's the half-life of carbon again? Oh yeah! FOREVER

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339562)

Carbon doesn't cause the green house effect. CO2 does. If you have a bunch of carbon in the form of diamond or graphite, that will have no effect on global warming what so ever.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (2)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339588)

I didn't realize that graphite and diamonds were the byproduct of power generation.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339652)

Missing the point. He said it dumped C. It does not dump C. It dumps CO2.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339722)

Missing the point. He said it dumped C. It does not dump C. It dumps CO2.

Yes, because adding Oxygen to Carbon is the well known exception to the law of conservation of mater that lets CO2 not count as containing Carbon.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340110)

Carbon doesn't cause the Green house effect. How much carbon a power plant emits is nonsense. How much CO2 it emits matters.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340090)

I didn't know carbon vaporized into the air in power generation. Maybe he assumed people would understand he meant various carbon-based greenhouse gases?

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340278)

I didn't know carbon vaporized into the air in power generation.

It doesn't it combines with oxygen and becomes CO2

Maybe he assumed people would understand he meant various carbon-based greenhouse gases?

No he meant Carbon and his point about it's half life is meaning less because power plants don't produce carbon. The carbon was there before hand will would always exist regardless of if there is a power plant or not. What a power plant can do is release it in the form of CO2 and other forms. Only the percentage that forms as CO2 plays any contribution to the green house effect.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (-1)

KiwiCanuck (1075767) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339670)

The half-life of carbon-14 is 5730±40 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon-14). All elements move towards iron (Fe).

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339774)

What the hell are you talking about?

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339984)

What does "All elements move towards iron (Fe)." have to do with your first sentence? What does it even mean? Could it be you have no clue?

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340286)

Hmm, all elements move towards iron if they're inside of a massive star. Remember the context of a factoid before you use it.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339726)

Carbon-14 has a radioactive half life of 5,730 years.

Oh, that's not what you meant? Oh, well in that case, atmospheric CO2 has a half-life of 38 years before it's scrubbed by plant life. Oh, I'm sorry, was that not alarmist enough for you? Here, try rephrasing it! "CARBON DIOXIDE WILL BE AROUND FOR OUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN!". Better?

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340068)

But the Fallout from Fukushima while more hazardous, but the hazard is contained, as it just doesn't spread across the world by air, and it can be collected and moved for the most part Carbon from fossil fuel spread everywhere. Someone living Countries away who do not have Cars or Power is suffering the same consequences as someone who does live in a country doing so. At least nuclear energy when there is a problem, the people who benefit the most from the power are also the ones taking the most risk.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339614)

Depends on your point of view. Compare the population densities around Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339848)

Do you think Ferzerp gives a fuck about people!? As long as it is no one he knows, he does not give a fuck about the people in Fukushima and is more than happy to parrot his beliefs, as it costs him nothing. Besides, nuke power is still the cheapest and cleanest for HIM.

We are doomed as a species, but Ferzerp's belief system is more confident than ever.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340006)

Most of the Fukushima fallout went straight out to sea where the population density is usually around zero.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339686)

Yea, the fear-mongering by the TV media for Fukushima was pretty bad. They seemed to be calling the game when the first play was still running. I don't expect much from news media anymore when it comes to disasters. At the hint of uncertainty, they'll spout that the sky will likely fall at any moment and they'll still be reporting on it as they're crushed. Idiocy has been taken to new levels there....

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339690)

Nature [wikipedia.org] is one of the oldest science journals.

It's nice to see proof that the accident was not really on the scale of Chenobyl. It released only around 5% of the radioactive material, and lacked the dangerous and long-lived heavier isotopes of Chernobyl. The one downside is the proximity to the ocean, which could hurt the local fishing industry and is expected to spawn 1.5–2 horrific monsters bent on destroying Tokyo.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

stillnotelf (1476907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339784)

The only thing more horrific than a horrific monster is HALF a horrific monster climbing out of the ocean and destroying Tokyo. I guess they can't call it God so it would just be Zilla, a pair of giant stomping legs and a tail, with nothing above the pelvis...

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (2)

troc (3606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340264)

Zilla, a pair of giant stomping legs and a tail, with nothing above the pelvis...

Reminds me of a girl I once went out with.

*shudder*

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

Rakshasa-sensei (533725) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339706)

I'm more interested in the accuracy of the summary, when did Cs-137 suddenly become 'the contaminate of greatest concern'?

I was under the impression (correct me I'm wrong) that radioactive cesium was the _LEAST_ dangerous one, due to the long half-life and that is spread pretty evenly in the body. That plutonium and uranium where the most dangerous, despite the difference in ratio, and that more than cesium the radioactive iodine would be of concern.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339988)

Radioactive iodine is bad because it collects in your thyroid. When people talk about radiation tablets, all that is is concentrated non-radioactive iodine. The idea being that you can fill your thyroid up with that stuff, leaving no room for radioactive iodine to collect there. The big thing with plutonium and uranium is that they tend to emit alpha particles when they decay (since they are so big). If you inhale either of these, then they'll be in your body a very long time, bombarding sensitive tissue with helium nuclei sans electrons...highly charged, "massive" particles that don't do good things to cells. The good news is that since alpha particles are highly charged, the outer layer of dead skin tends to stop them, so external contamination isn't so much of an issue.

IIRC, rather than getting collected in the thyroid like iodine, cesium tends to go throughout the body. IANAChemist, but I think it forms a soluble solution in water, so that may be why it's considered the 'greatest concern'...if it contaminates the water supply, suddenly a lot more people get internal exposure. Nothing deadly unless there's a LOT of cesium, but most people don't seem to understand that.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340044)

Cesium is one of the most problematic ones, because it has a half-life that is long enough that it will stay around and remain a problem, but short enough that it is still very radioactive. It is also problematic because it is taken up and concentrated by biological processes.

Iodine is a great concern in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, but its short half-life means it disappears quickly and is not a problem in the long term.

Uranium is not much of a problem in general. Plutonium is pretty bad, but neither of the two are usually spread very far.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340240)

Uranium and plutonium are more harmful as toxic heavy metals than radioactive materials at the doses you'd receive from fallout. So, like you said, not much of a problem.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339806)

Well, are you sure enough you can trust the Japanese government?
Time and time again, the Japanese government has proved that it will distort or hide facts just to suppress public fear and outrage,
It has constantly been downplaying the consequences and denying facts.
I live in Japan approx. 200 miles from that plant.
Daily we still experience the consequences of a failing burocracy that was more interested in getting luxury dinners and gifts from the electric companies rather than demanding safe power plants.
It's easy for you to say that 'it wasn't so bad after all' because you're probably not living here. I can't drink a glass of water from the tap, use tapwater for cooking, have my kids play outside because the soil is too contaminated, don't know what I can eat because farmers/fishermen only care about making money and give a sh*t about safety. You don't see the radiation anyway so screw the customers. If they get cancer within 10 years, nobody can prove it.
Only when independent organizations measure products in labs, suddenly all hell breaks loose because stuff is exceeding even the ridiculous new standards.
If you were to take those products to Europe, all trade would be suspended immediately.

Besides amounts of radioactive material, also the landscape plays a role. Japan has much mountains so a lot of the stuff bumps into the mountains and came all down with the rain. In Chernobyl, the material was able to spread over a much wider area due to a lack of a lot of mountains. But you probably didn't know that up until this day some areas in Scotland are too poluted for keeping cattle.

Very funny when the government just raised all health strandards so high that most issues just could not be labelled as problematic. Everybody is hiding behind the goverments standards or is just acting as if they are stupid. (we-didn't-know-that).
The soil round our house is 30 times as radioactive as before. No matter if you remove it, after it rains, radiation levels are up again within no time.
Our drinkwater is slightly radioactive but since the health levels were raised 20 times, you can't complain with the water company because they insist level are below the government limits. The problem is that you hear 2 weeks afterwards that levels were too high for consumption.
Rice, vegetables, fish, everything is slightly contaminated but farmers keep on trying to ship their stuff because all they are interested in is making money.
Large departmentstores check their products but all the goods that come in through secondary channels are unchecked.
Officials from the farmers association JA look at vegetables with absolutely unsuitable radioactive measurement equipment and all conclude that it is absolutely safe.

And don't be surprised that the figures will be disputed by other organisations. In the first days after the tsunami, the government tried to cover everything up and for weeks was claiming everything was allright and no meltdown could have taken place. They have all melted down and up until this day, the plants are leaking radiation in the air because they are still not covered in anyway. So what didn't disperse during the initial explosion or leaked in to the sea through cracks, is still bit by bit leaking into the air.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339838)

Accuracy? Those numbers are based on what Tepco and the Japanese government provided. So far every estimate they have given has vastly understated the actual levels. They have done that through this whole thing and may still be attempting to hide the true impact.

Until there is a legitimate 3rd party that can verify all this then we just don't know.

Re:Accuracy in the article. Wow (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340416)

Ok, so there is less radiation spewing from Fukushima than Chernobyl, but Chernobyl was not leaking radiation into the ocean either! I think the Fukushima accident is much worse for the environment.

Side by side (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339400)

State operated nuclear power plant, designed to produce weapon grade nuclear material and operated without complete theoretical understanding of the underlying principles and mishandled due to political pressure

vs

privately operated, but State regulated power plant, designed to provide power while withstanding extreme weather conditions, but a plant that should really have been decommissioned and newer designs should have been put into operation.

--

A reactor explosion due to build up of extreme pressure

vs

A reactor breach without an explosion but with hydrogen exploding subsequently around the reactor.

--

Well, I want privately operated power plants with new types of design, that's what I want all over the place. I want private money being allowed into the field, letting up on the government regulations, I want a tiny nuclear reactor in my house and in my car and at some point in my lightsaber, how about that?

Re:Side by side (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339542)

If you're pinning your hopes on private money to build nuclear power plants you're going to be disappointed.

Nukes are a horrible investment for a private company. They take forever and a day to build and start recouping your investment, they require massive up front capital expenditures, and the nuke industry has shown nearly no ability to build them on time or on budget. Which is why nuclear power plants stopped being built in the US years before Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The only country which has fully exploited nuclear is France which did it through the government, not private industry.

Re:Side by side (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339590)

They take forever and a day partially because of the administrative costs of building the plant. As I understand it, regulations, insurance, and whatnot contribute a significant amount to the cost.

Re:Side by side (1)

bakarocket (844390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339800)

I live 240km from Fukushima. Though I'm far from the irradiated area, my claim to fame is the black-ish rain I had to walk through to get to work a few days after the earthquake. Anyway, I believe that nuclear power should be a part of our future power generation strategy, but because of the potential dangers surrounding nuclear power in a seismically unstable region, the industry should be heavily regulated.

So, I am very happy that there are enough regulations surrounding nuclear power to increase the cost of energy production.

Expensive nuclear > cheap coal.

Re:Side by side (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340178)

I was born in USSR, in Ukraine, and I believe many people who had to go through the Chernobyl experience here would rather have Fukushima experience. So AFAIC State ran nuclear power plants are much more dangerous than private ones.

Re:Side by side (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339600)

My point is that we don't know because we haven't tried doing all sorts of things that individuals could try. Sure, 99% of them would fail. What if somebody figures out a different way to get to the energy stored in the nuclear material without building a gigantic power plant and without exploding a bomb?

Re:Side by side (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339748)

They take forever and a day to build and start recouping your investment, they require massive up front capital expenditures, and the nuke industry has shown nearly no ability to build them on time or on budget.

Part of that (not all, but a significant part) is the lawsuits that inevitably arise whenever an anti-nuke group hears that a nuclear power plant has been proposed.

It's hard to get something done on time when you're constantly fighting off lawsuits rather than actually, you know, building a power plant.

Re:Side by side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339824)

You forgot to mention the magnitude 8.5 earthquake + resulting tsunami which was greater then the worse case scenario envisaged for the Fukushima side. I am sure that if Chernobyl had a earthquake like that, it would have been worse then what it was...

By the way, do you really want unregulated nuclear power plants? Just look at what the effects of un-regulated hydrolic fracturing has on the surrounding environment. What we really need is government run nuclear power plants. Screw the private industry, they will do almost anything to make a profit including cutting corners with safety standards and waste management.

I do agree upon the need for newer designs and more nuclear reactors though. Just stick them away from population centres to allay public fears and use the previously posted sapphire superconductors to transmit the power...

Re:Side by side (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339886)

By the way, do you really want unregulated nuclear power plants? Just look at what the effects of un-regulated hydrolic fracturing has on the surrounding environment.

- well, shit. Exactly. You want more and more nuclear power plants, so that your soil can be left alone, because it will not be economically viable to get more hydrocarbons out of the ground even with fracking, because nuclear power would be so abundant.

What we really need is government run nuclear power plants.

- you should read my first comment again.

State ran power plant - Chernobyl.
Privately ran power plant - Fukushima.

Excuse me if I am not adventurous enough for you to want a State ran power plant anywhere near me.

. Screw the private industry, they will do almost anything to make a profit including cutting corners with safety standards and waste management.

- no no. Private industry will not do "almost" anything to make a profit.

Private industry will do anything to make a profit. Government has a role - enforcing liberties, private property and all other rights. That's what government is really for, and this is enough to keep any business from abuse as long as government cannot be bought off.

Government can only be bought off if it's allowed to regulate the private industry. What is needed is more private involvement into everything and less government, what we need is to get innovation and invention back, and it's not done with public money, it's done with private interests as long as there are few barriers to entry constructed by the government.

There need to be inventions in nuclear power, which will not come from government. There need to be inventions that will miniaturize nuclear power generation.

Re:Side by side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339930)

You're forgetting that the agencies that were to control and enforce standards for the nuclear companies in Japan, were just lame ducks.
Everytime someone would propose measures that were too complex or costly, their careers would be terminated.
Long before the tsunami there were reports of major ruptures in the casing which hold the nuclear rods and water.
All ignored by these so called independent state regulated inspectors.
Long before the tsunami came it was clear that it was a possible scenario that had to be taking into account.
Civilians have been sueing the government for years to revoke the licenses of several plants because of these safety issues.
But it was all set aside by the independent government bodies which were supposed to ensure absolute safety.
The Chernobyl plant did not have anything to do with weapons or politics. It was just an old reactor that blew up due to old equipment.
But that could just happen in Japan or the US. Google for Three Miles and you can read all about it.
To make nuclear reactor safe costs money. Much more money than the industry is willing to spend.

Re:Side by side (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340092)

The Chernobyl plant did not have anything to do with weapons or politics.

- oh?

Nothing to do with weapons [wikipedia.org] -

The RBMK was the culmination of the Soviet nuclear power program to produce a water-cooled power reactor based on their graphite-moderated plutonium production military reactors. .....
The refueling machine is mounted on a gantry crane and remotely controlled. The fuel assemblies can be replaced without shutting down the reactor, a factor significant for production of weapon-grade plutonium and, in a civilian context, for better reactor uptime. When a fuel assembly has to be replaced, the machine is positioned above the fuel channel, mates to it, equalizes pressure within, pulls the rod, and inserts a fresh one. The spent rod is then placed in a cooling pond. The capacity of the refueling machine with the reactor at nominal power level is two fuel assemblies per day, with peak capacity of five per day. .......
RBMK reactors were designed to allow fuel rods to be changed without shutting down (as in the pressurized heavy water CANDU reactor), both for refueling and for plutonium production (for nuclear weapons). This required large cranes above the core.

Nothing to do with politics [damninteresting.com] -

In his book âoeThe Legacy of Chernobylâ, Zhores Medvedyev reveals that the turbine rundown test was to have been completed at the end of 1982, before the reactor was brought into a commercial regime. It was on a list of things, in typical Soviet fashion, that was agreed by the various ministries involved âoeto be completed laterâ notwithstanding the point that it was a requirement for the reactor to pass inspection. These kinds of oversights were typical to make sure that various projects were completed on or before deadlines, especially when there were bonuses at stake.

As to Fukushima - definitely there were some problem, I am still convinced that a privately operated reactor stands better even under these disastrous circumstances than a State operated one. It's right here, black on white.

Re:Side by side (2)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339960)

Well, I want privately operated power plants with new types of design, that's what I want all over the place. I want private money being allowed into the field, letting up on the government regulations, I want a tiny nuclear reactor in my house and in my car and at some point in my lightsaber, how about that?

Do not delude youself.
Tepco knew that the Fukushima plant had serious design flaws from the start, but they chose to operate it nonetheless to not lose money, they even operated it beyond its projected lifespan to maximize their revenue.
At Chernobyl an ambitious and inexpert junior chief engineer tried to run an experiment for his personal prestige, while the senior chief engineer was absent. The very old design of the plant made the rest.
The worst industrial accident of all times is still the Bhopal disaster in India, where a privately operated chemical factory (owned by a US company) blew up a few thousands indians.

Privately operated companies are subjected to greed, and greed is not compatible with security and safety.

Re:Side by side (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340140)

Don't blame a "young and inexperienced engineer" for something, that the political system was responsible for [slashdot.org].

I don't trust State in this much more than I don't trust a private company. Sure, a private company will find ways to screw up. However a private company also needs to continue making profits, and this means more reactors to be built and brought on line and this means looking at ways of improving the business by cutting costs. But cutting costs is a good thing if it can be done, because in case of such complex machines, it means investment into some types of new tools, research that allows to cut costs.

Cutting costs is not about letting the reactor stand there - rot in the dust, it won't make you any profit.

Intel increases profit by designing and building new processors, not by cutting costs where processors become unusable. Same with any business. I want to cut costs, and it's a good thing. I want to cut costs and government does not, because government is not looking at the economic side of this.

From cost cutting comes innovation, that's the real reason to do any innovation. When James Watt came out with the new separate condenser for a steam engine, he actually cut costs of energy expenditure and he increased efficiencies of the engines, making them better and more useful for everyday purposes.

Sure, some cost cutting when done indiscriminately can be dangerous, that's why gov't should be protecting private property and other rights of individuals - to allow recourse and prevent stupid things before they even happening by not letting the companies to run liability free.

Re:Side by side (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340180)

If security and safety can be made critical parts of the profit making equation, greed is wonderfully compatible with security and safety.

The airline industry, for instance.

Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339420)

I had a friend who was actually considering buying a radiation detector back when this was in the news (he lives in Virginia, mind you). Of course, this is the same friend who also thought bird-flu/SARS/the West Nile Virus/ebola were going to sweep the world in a pandemic and Y2K was going to cause all our computers to explode. Some people are always looking for a reason to panic.

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (4, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339492)

Some people are always looking for a reason to panic.

On no! Who!? Tell me, quickly!

yer .sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339622)

If humanity is to survive, we must pledge to eliminate all carbon dioxide from our atmosphere by 2030

Do you have a citation for that asshat statement, or did you come up with it all by yourself ?

Re:yer .sig (2)

tmarsh86 (896458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339656)

Do you have a citation for that asshat statement, or did you come up with it all by yourself ?

Apparently, your sarcasm detector is broken or you have no sense of humor. Either way, you must be pitied.

Re:yer .sig (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339820)

If humanity is to survive, we must pledge to eliminate all carbon dioxide from our atmosphere by 2030

Do you have a citation for that asshat statement, or did you come up with it all by yourself ?

Poe's Law at work... if we removed all CO2 from the atmosphere, then all the plants would die. Obviously, the author was not being serious.

Re:yer .sig (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340050)

I was questioning whether he acting the ignorant jackass or was pointing out the ignorant jackassery of someone else.

Much like /. only allowing me to post AC once an hour despite my having "Karma Excellent".

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (1)

yourlord (473099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339724)

I find it comical that this post was made by someone with the following as their signature, "If humanity is to survive, we must pledge to eliminate all carbon dioxide from our atmosphere by 2030"

Panic much? I hope that sig is a joke..

My trees would all cry if they knew of your insidious plot to suffocate them.

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339794)

Of course it's a joke. If there's no CO2 in the atmosphere it means none of us are breathing the air anymore.

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (0)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339744)

he lives in Virginia, mind you

The backwardness of the south with the conspicuous consumption and self-importance of the north, and the distinct charms of neither. The worst of both worlds.

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339808)

Sounds like my dad. It wasn't until I started living on my own that I realized it wasn't normal to have a year's stock of canned foods that no one ever eats in the pantry.

My dad actually told my mom that he didn't want to recarpet the house, but that "if we're still here after 2012, we'll look into it then."

Needless to say, my dad is a nutjob. (Just part of the reason I don't talk to him anymore.)

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340136)

I guess being prepared isn't just for boy scouts anymore; now it's a apparently a sign of mental illness...? Seriously, I agree that the whole "2012 thing" is a sign of serious gullibility on the part of your father but your disdain for his wanting to be prepared is a serious sign of your own. Perhaps you might benefit from turning off the state-run TV (it is, you know, beneath the surface), read (and perhaps even understand!) some history (Weimar Germany in '23, Argentina in '89) and learn to think for yourself a bit. Being smart enough to have a year's worth of food on hand paints anyone in a negative light, unless you've been thoroughly indoctrinated and/or are a complete retard...

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340158)

Being smart enough to have a year's worth of food on hand paints anyone in a negative light...

Pardon me; that should have read "Being smart enough to have a year's worth of food on hand HARDLY paints anyone in a negative light"

Who's the retard, huh? :p ;)

Re:Nuclear?!?! Oh no's!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340014)

I had a friend who was actually considering buying a radiation detector back when this was in the news (he lives in Virginia, mind you). Of course, this is the same friend who also thought bird-flu/SARS/the West Nile Virus/ebola were going to sweep the world in a pandemic and Y2K was going to cause all our computers to explode. Some people are always looking for a reason to panic.

And votes Tea Party/Republican/Libertarian doesn't he?

Meanwhile . . . (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340154)

The Japanese are forcing their kids to live in contaminated areas as part of an unprecedented experiment, while jackasses like yourself try to play the whole thing as some kind of comical joke. Well, on behalf of the victims of the accident, including myself, fuck you.

Just keep thinking nothing like this could ever happen in your backyard . . . just fucking keep thinking that . . .

Japan's nuclear disaster "on par" with Chernobyl (5, Interesting)

debrain (29228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339538)

The Stackexchange Skeptics web-site has a relatively thorough and well cited wiki, Is Japan's nuclear disaster "on par" with Chernobyl [stackexchange.com]), that compares the two disasters using a number of objective metrics.

It seems fairly apparent based on that wiki that while Fukushima is a serious nuclear event, it is a fraction of the calamity that Chernobyl was, using the available objective data.

Bit early to start comparing . . . (1, Interesting)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339962)

When new estimates are constantly coming out [nhk.or.jp]. And, "available objective data?" You have never fucking heard of TEPCO, have you?

I think anyone seriously trying to do comparisons at this point is clueless, especially when radioactive particles are continuously spewing out from the Fukushima site at rates that can only be guesstimated.

It doesn't matter how severe Fukushima was... (3, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339714)

People who don't understand and don't want to will view it as ample reason to oppose every new nuclear plant for *another* 40 years.

Never mind that Fukushima, as a BWR-type reactor, was designed in 1955 and that a new reactor would have practically nothing in common but the presence of uranium and steam. Never mind that a pebble bed reactor could, as far as I understand it, be left completely un-managed for months at a time or suffer a complete core breach and still be incapable of reaching the level of contamination caused by Fukushima.

No, nuclear power is bad. We need to wait for biological engineering or material physics or fuzzy starshine power to advance to the point where we can construct new capacity for $0.05/watt with no environmental impact and no space requirements. Huzzah!

Re:It doesn't matter how severe Fukushima was... (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339840)

People who don't understand and don't want to will view it as ample reason to oppose every new nuclear plant for *another* 40 years.

Or worse, in a country that gets a significant part of their energy from nuclear power already, will backpedal, and close down all their nuclear plants and become "nuclear-free"!

Re:It doesn't matter how severe Fukushima was... (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339940)

Never mind that Fukushima, as a BWR-type reactor, was designed in 1955 and that a new reactor would have practically nothing in common but the presence of uranium and steam. Never mind that a pebble bed reactor could, as far as I understand it, be left completely un-managed for months at a time or suffer a complete core breach and still be incapable of reaching the level of contamination caused by Fukushima.

I agree. Given that, why in the hell was TEPCO continuing to run 55 year old gear ? Why were the old fuel rods not containerized ? The nuclear industry has known the problems here for decades; what is the sign that the responsible people are being fired and the new managers are taking appropriate measures ?

Re:It doesn't matter how severe Fukushima was... (0)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340198)

Given that, why in the hell was TEPCO continuing to run 55 year old gear ?

JUst a guess, mind you, but I suspect the Japanese anti-nuke movement has prevented the building of any nuclear plants since Chernobyl....

Re:It doesn't matter how severe Fukushima was... (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340250)

Given how badly the loss of Fukushima affected the Japanese power grid, I'd wager that they didn't have a replacement and as a result didn't have a choice but to keep running 55 year old gear.

Japanese Glasnost (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339716)

In my opinion, after a initial period of secrecy, the Soviet Union did a lot better job with openness and communication on Chernobyl than the Japanese Government / TEPCO is doing with Fukushima.

That should say something to the Japanese Government, but I fear it will not.

Re:Japanese Glasnost (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339880)

Japan has a culture of denial, in some ways. The fact that they're not talking more doesn't mean they're worse than a conspiratorial communist government or that they don't care about environmental or human impact.

I realize there are some serious downsides to being so reticent, but don't assume it's automatically and always better to be more open. That's just cultural imperialism talking.

Re:Japanese Glasnost (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340022)

If it is cultural imperialism to believe that truth is better than lies, than so be it.

Re:Japanese Glasnost (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340084)

Have fun not understanding 95% of the population of the planet. Or even better, wasting your time trying to force them to think the way you do.

You desperately need to take a basic anthropology course. The belief in an absolute right and wrong, appropriate for all people in all places at all times, is completely laughable.

Re:Japanese Glasnost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339914)

Hahahah! That was actually funny..

Yes, Soviet Union was really open about Chernobyl! HAHAHA!

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html [iaea.org]
http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11090809-e.html [tepco.co.jp]

Yes, they are really secretive about it. HAHAHA! Seriously, your post is funny.

Re:Japanese Glasnost (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339996)

I was around at the time, and followed both stories. If you don't think the Japanese government and TEPCO have not
been secretive about this accident, you have seriously not been paying attention.

Complacency Misplaced (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339936)

One definition of stupid is to look with undiscerning eyes.. not understanding what is right in front of you in plain view..
This comparison to Chernobyl is hollow - radioactive Cesium has a half life of.. how long? 30 years ? the 6-half life rule means that this material is of concern for 180 years?

Radiation is still leaking out of that plant, and there is no 'cure' for it.. it collects in the food chain..
If you don't appreciate what a food chain is, time to go back to middle school science.

Should have been much less (5, Informative)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37339982)

The problem I have with Fukushima is that the only criticisms of the safety mechanisms of the plant referred to two things: namely the lack of tsunami protection and the how people dealt with the aftermath. Otherwise it was stressed that Japan is a modern country with state-of-the-art technology. But those were literally the least of the problems. The whole Japanese coast in the area had tsunami protection after the devastating tsunamis of 1933 and 1896 ... which was overwhelmed, wiping a dozen towns off the coast. Either you criticize all of Japan in that regard, or none of it. And the way people are dealing with the aftermath is of much less concern than they dealt with safety before the accident.

In fact, Fukushima Daiichi could be found on the third last position in a world wide safety ranking of nuclear power plants in 2010. (Mostly concerned with on-site radioactivity that was pretty high due to leaks.) It lacked emergency generators (13 generators for 6 reactors - I've seen 12 generators in place for one reactor. At least 4 per reactor is common). It lacked redundancy in those generators. They were all the same kind of sea-water cooled diesel generators. And because of the latter, they lacked protection against common cause failure, which demands that you distribute emergency equipment over as wide an area as possible ... which is obviously very limited if you have fixed installations dependent on sea water.

It also lacked filtered containment vents. Those filters can filter out at least 99% of the Caesium and Iodine (I remember a figure of 99.99% but don't know if it was Cs-137 or I-131). It's somewhat expensive (although just a fraction of the cost of the whole plant), but was adopted in Europe in the 1980ies. Further, safety protocols didn't take account of the finding that the Mark I containment didn't properly seal in a test at a prototype plant at a pressure of about 70 bar. (In emergencies it is supposed to be tight up to 72 bar, but regular testing is only done up to 62 bar.) Which was what allowed the massive quantities of hydrogen to get into the buildings in the first place.

Finally, because hydrogen getting into the buildings couldn't be ruled out in 100% of the cases during simulations, at least European plants were equipped with passive autocatalytic recombiners in all closed rooms of the reactor building. Those are catalytic converters that burn hydrogen with oxygen in the air before it can reach concentrations in the buildings, where it can ignite and either burn or (as we've seen) explode. Those are pretty cheap (about $5 mio per reactor bulding) and were installed in the 1990ies.

None of what happened was a surprise to anyone who dug out the freely available descriptions and research on the safety of the Mark I containment after the earthquake. But of course, that is something that the media couldn't be bothered with. Because they are "reporters" and as such doing research or actually understanding what they are reporting is clearly beneath them. All that reporters are there for, is to "report" (that is: parrot) the statements of politicians and whatever "experts" they feel will give them the answers they want.

Overall, the containments used in Fukushima are a great demonstration of what engineers of the 1960ies could do. They did a remarkable job in preventing a major disaster like Chernobyl. But it also shows what happens when you ignore all further developments. There were flaws in the models of what happens during a meltdown that became obvious only years or decades after the development of those containments. In engineering on the one hand and in radiology on the other - namely, that the dangers of I-131 were under-appreciated until about that time. (Exposure limits were cut down to about one thousands of the previous limits some time in the late 1960ies.)

But given the way reporting was and is being done, nothing of that will ever be known to a wide audience - because it doesn't square with the scare stories that controlling nuclear power is absolutely beyond mere human beings and that the anti-nuclear lobby wants to push through. All failures had been anticipated and mitigating efforts were in place wherever people actually cared about making them. In Japan, they didn't care before the accident.

You think that is bad . . . (2)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340246)

Just wait for China and India to double their reactors. We all know that their safety record is even MORE stellar.

It would be nice if we could push energy technologies that would not pollute the entire Northern Hemisphere every time our not so smart foreign counterparts have an "oops" moment . . .

Re:You think that is bad . . . (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340418)

It would be nice if we could push energy technologies that would not pollute the entire Northern and Souther Hemisphere every time they are switched on.

Re:Should have been much less (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340274)

I hear you - the problem with the plant was that they did not implement all safety features as they should and that cause the leak (albeit after a MAJOR disaster) and the incident was still contained pretty well. It is management that is responsible for making sure that all safety systems are implemented as they should and it is the International Atomic Energy Agency (I think) that is responsible for inspecting and noting such problems.

So to iterate: Not all safety systems were in place as they should. The plant was aging and it was KNOWN that it has those problems (as shown in reports earlier). But nobody fixed them. A major disaster occurred and the plant started leaking radioactive material. Several people dead (I don't remember the count) due to exposure/working in the plant. Many more will probably develop cancer/other medical conditions due to it. All in all 100-200 people impacted negatively. The TSUNAMI it self caused thousands of deaths/injuries.

Misleading map. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340096)

The map featured in the Nature is quite misleading. Both maps use the same colors to indicate severity but the actual Cesium levels are quite different. The corresponding colors on the map of Chernobyl represent a far greater range. If the color coding had been applied consistently it would show that Fukushima is much less severe than Chernobyl. But then that would contrast with tone of the article.

Not to downplay the seriousness of the situation, but the Fukushima event has been blown out of proportion. It's not even close to being a Chernobyl.

Um... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340354)

Considering the well-known lengths the establishment (US gov't, Nipponese gov't, "state-run" mainstream media) has gone to to hush this whole thing up (shutting down and doctoring the output of rad detectors all over the country for one, though that's just the beginning of a long list), I suppose "tone" of this discussion will be a good indicator of how much Slashdot has succumbed to the legions of Army/NSA trolls sitting in their cubicles at Fort Meade... (^5's, boys!)
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