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Why Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant Survived March

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-that-would-have-cost-money dept.

Japan 193

Kyusaku Natsume writes "In a potentially damning report, the Japanese government panel probing the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has learned that the nuclear power plant Tokai No.2 avoided station blackout thanks to making a 6.1 m high seawall, but TEPCO failed to do the same in Fukushima. From the article: 'The tsunami that hit the Tokai plant on March 11 were 5.3 to 5.4 meters in height, exceeding the company's earlier estimate but coming in around 30 to 40 cm lower than its revised projection. After the tsunami hit, the Tokai plant lost external power just like Fukushima No. 1 did, because the sea wall was overrun, knocking out one of its three seawater pumps. But its reactors succeeded in achieving cold shutdown because the plant's emergency diesel generator was being cooled by the two seawater pumps that survived intact.'"

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Huh? (3, Informative)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827480)

Someone want to translate the summary? Or is this to be more evidence of lousy content and even worse editting? "as learnt" really?

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

chiasmus1 (654565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827520)

Translation:

Researchers: Your walls are too low.
Japan Atomic Power: Oh, okay, we'll fix the wall.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO): Hmm, whatever.

Then the tsunami came. Japan Atomic Power's wall was good enough. TEPCO's wall still was not good enough.

Re:Huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827834)

Translation: Researchers: Your walls are too low. Japan Atomic Power: Oh, okay, we'll fix the wall. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO): Hmm, whatever. Then the tsunami came. Japan Atomic Power's wall was good enough. TEPCO's wall still was not good enough.

Translation: Researchers: Your walls are too low. Japan Atomic Power: Oh, okay, we'll fix the wall. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO): Hmm, whatever. Then the tsunami came. Japan Atomic Power's wall was good enough. TEPCO's wall still was not good enough.

So niggers will be niggers (TEPCO) and chinks will be chinks (JAP).

That's so fucking ... strange. It's almost as though some people make great decisions based on reality and others don't.

This is news? Next!

Re:Huh? (0)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827868)

Then the tsunami came. Japan Atomic Power's wall was good enough. TEPCO's wall still was not good enough.

JAP was lucky. They still had two pumps working after being overrun. TEPCO was not so lucky. You can't just build a bigger wall to avoid tsunami.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828038)

one of the big problems with the diesel generators was fouling of the fuel with sea water

if the sea wall prevented that at jap, then it was effective

Re:Huh? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828514)

You know what else would have prevented a meltdown ? NOT shutting down the reactor. If the tsunami had killed the operators of the plant, the plant would have survived intact. The plants were built with the assumption that it would not be possible during a disaster to cut off the plant's access to the grid. Then the grid connection was made along a single long line built over the sea.

I mean, come on.

I'm not suggesting the following is a good idea, but a nuclear reactor is a hell of a lot more stable than a diesel generator. So in a nuclear power plant, why not have a reactor, running on spent fuel for example, which can run entirely cold (cold meaning ~200 degrees, the point being that the reactor is perfectly safe without cooling), and have that pump provide power to the cooling system for the real reactors ? It wouldn't need to provide more than a few kilowatts.

Something like this would be more than adequate [hyperionpo...ration.com]

That way even if the plant and it's operators are completely cut off, the cooling system will remain in operation for years after the shutdown order is given - and it only needs to run for 24 hours.

Re:Huh? (1)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828996)

except that unlike previous claims from Tepco Daiichi was heavily damaged by the quake itself and certainly not in a proper state to continue operating tsunami or not... It's not even known if with proper diesel generators proper cold shutdown could have been reached...

Re:Huh? (1)

Kleen13 (1006327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828046)

You can't just build a bigger wall to avoid tsunami.

Well, it's certainly something I'd entertain as a plausible solution to that particular problem. That being said though, I'd probably build my reactors inland just a bit.

Re:Huh? (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829102)

While perfectly logical and laudable, your suggestion has exactly two insurmountable problems:

1) Land prices in Japan are insanely expensive. We're talking expensive as in:, it's cheaper to make your own land just offshore. The inland acreage required to park a power plant would have likely cost enough to kill any idea of building one in the first place.

2) The same problem we have here in the US, namely, the little social problem known by the acronym of NIMBY. Except that instead of letters to the editor and rich folks paying politicians and/or lawyers to block it, you get all of that and violent demonstrations.

Re:Huh? (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828082)

JAP was lucky. They still had two pumps working after being overrun. TEPCO was not so lucky. You can't just build a bigger wall to avoid tsunami.

Actually... the point of the article... they proved, as the researchers suggested, yes you can build a bigger wall to avoid a catastrophic failure due to a tsunami.

It is not a certain thing, and it's possible a tsunami will still overcome the higher wall, however, the probability that the higher wall prevents a catastrophe, is sufficient enough that the expense should be made.

At some particular height, there is a point where a higher wall no longer significantly reduces the probability a tsunami will be catastrophic, or the cost increases at a much higher pace, such that at a certain cost, it is no longer worth extra $$s for small reductions in risk, since the $$$ to build a reliable plant has to be utilized to mitigate all risks in the design as well. It is at that height and that cost the wall should be built.

Re:Huh? (0, Troll)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828626)

"You can't just build a bigger wall to avoid tsunami."

I'm not going to use my mod points in this thread, because there is no "-1, Retarded"

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828052)

It is not that easy. Reactor no2 in Tokai mura came closer to disaster than anyone wants to admit. Two pumps may have survived, but only one generator (out of three) was working. Had it failed, the result would likely have been similar to Fukushima. That being said. It is my impression (as someone living in the vicinity) that Japan Atomic Power is running things a lot more responsibly than TEPCO. But then again the TM power plants used to be under direct control of JAEA, and JAP was created only when JAEA came under some heavy criticism after earlier incidents.

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828146)

Translation from original Japanese:

2009:
Researchers: Somebody set up us the seawall.
Japan Atomic Power: Main wall turn on.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO): All our time are belong to us.
2011:
Researchers: You have no chance to survive make your time.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO): For great justice.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828284)

That was Genius, simple pure Genius!

Re:Huh? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828470)

Not to forget. Nuclear power companies, do not rely on pumps for cooling. Pumps should supply cooling reservoirs and gravity should be used to water for cooling purposes.

The capacity of cooling reservoirs should equal the required the time required to replace those pumps upon failure and maintain cooling demands, whether achieving shut-down or full load requirements.

Yes it costs more to do it that way but it is still significantly cheaper than failure of the system. Laws definitely need to be changed to make corporate executives legally and criminally liable for the decisions they make. When those decisions kill they should be charged with man slaughter and spend the appropriate extended time in prison.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828572)

Not to forget. Nuclear power companies, do not rely on pumps for cooling. Pumps should supply cooling reservoirs and gravity should be used to water for cooling purposes.

The capacity of cooling reservoirs should equal the required the time required to replace those pumps upon failure and maintain cooling demands, whether achieving shut-down or full load requirements.

Yes it costs more to do it that way but it is still significantly cheaper than failure of the system. Laws definitely need to be changed to make corporate executives legally and criminally liable for the decisions they make. When those decisions kill they should be charged with man slaughter and spend the appropriate extended time in prison.

And thus you have fallen into exactly the trap that got them into the position they were in.

The power was out. There was a bigarse battery bank to keep things going. But guess what, thepower was out because an earth quake and a tsunami basically screwed the nation and backup generators which could normally easily be sourced and commissioned within a day or two couldn't.

When your reservoir runs out of water you better hope there's someone more senior than you there to take the resulting beating.

The engineering solution is not to propose some contingency to counteract some ludicrous event, it's to prevent the event from happening in the first place and put the pumps in a place not so easily hammered by a wall of water.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828628)

Or alternately, to have some standby gear on hand in a standby location, in case said water becomes unavoidable. (I wonder if I could request procedures for Borssele and Dodewaard someplace)

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829260)

..the real trap is: Don't run a nuclear power plant beyond it's design life, and don't continue running it when it has failed several inspections

The reason the sea wall was not higher : It cost too much

The reason the plant was not upgraded : It cost too much

The reason the plant was not replaced : It cost too much

Re:Huh? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829450)

I'm astounded at how little relationship this has to reality, other than what happened was bad, and what you list sounds also sounds bad.

Re:Huh? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828822)

The capacity of cooling reservoirs should equal the required the time required to replace those pumps upon failure and maintain cooling demands, whether achieving shut-down or full load requirements.

Substitute boron carbide/boric acid slurry for the cooling reservoirs and you might have an answer.

Re:Huh? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829458)

Doesn't help at all with residual heat. That is the solution if you have no working control rods, which was not the problem.

It would seem a heck of a lot simpler to require building the thing below sea level and having the piping for thermosiphon operation.

Re:Huh? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829344)

Unfortunately, negligent executives contain (on average, in rough figures) only about 40 liters of coolant each, with vigorous squeezing. Unless your organization is grotesquely over-managed, it is unlikely that you can solve the problem by those means alone...

Re:Huh? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827542)

Someone want to translate the summary? Or is this to be more evidence of lousy content and even worse editting? "as learnt" really?

I think you should be a bit more understanding when an article has likely been submitted by someone who is not a native English speaker.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827664)

The quality of the original summary is not in question. This is why /. employs editors. They're the ones being criticized.

Re:Huh? (0)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827706)

...and the English language site editors are idiots.

I just noticed that /. no longer shows which mod chose to post a submission to the front page, but my bet's on Timothy.

Re:Huh? (0)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827742)

Correction. "Unknown Lamer" ups the ante as worst editor evar.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827830)

Someone want to translate the summary? Or is this to be more evidence of lousy content and even worse editting? "as learnt" really?

I think you should be a bit more understanding when an article has likely been submitted by someone who is not a native English speaker.

The only place where Learnt is a correct spelling in the English language is in England, but I wouldn't let that colour your perspective.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827980)

Or many of the former British colonies, that use British English.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828156)

The only place where Learnt is a correct spelling in the English language is in England, but I wouldn't let that colour your perspective.

For some reason I find it slightly entertaining that the one word in that sentence that differs between American and Britsh English is a French word.

(OK, fine, it could be more than one. I am one of those who can be described with "someone who is not a native English speaker.")

Re:Huh? (0)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829276)

For some reason I find it entertaining that the sentence with the french words removed sounds quite surrealistic:

"For some I find it slightly that the one word in that that between and english is a word".

Re:Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828730)

The problem was not the submitter, but the original article from the Japan Times. It doesn't make much sense, and has some statements which appear on the surface to contradict themselves.

Basically they built the seawall higher, higher than the waves actually ended up, but it wasn't completely finished so one of the three emergency pumps failed when either it got swamped, or the generator which provided backup power got swamped to it was swamped (the article isn't clear enough to tell).

I believe that the article is just a really bad translation. Case in point- the diesel generators do NOT need seawater pumps to cool them, the seawater pumps are for the nuclear reactor itself. The generators have their own closed-loop antifreeze cooling system just like every other diesel generator on the planet. They power the seawater pumps, which in turn are used to SCRAM the reactor.

The actual point of the article is that Japan is investigating whether or not the seawall extension project saved that reactor from total failure, because it seems that they had revised the Tsunami height estimate some years earlier and Fukushima apparently did not bother to do anything about it. This plant, however, took notice of the revised projection and decided to build their seawall higher. And were almost done with it.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827580)

Leaving out an 'h' in 'has,' adding a 't' in 'editing.' Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Hindsight is 20:20 (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827612)

And we're not due foresight from folks who transmute elements for money, because money corrupts. The first thing money corrupts is expectations.

Re:Huh? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827904)

Someone want to translate the summary?

TEPCO fucked up,,bad.

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828250)

Someone want to translate the summary? Or is this to be more evidence of lousy content and even worse editting? "as learnt" really?

I am the one that submitted the story, but I found my mistake until I saw the story posted. English is my third language. I'm sorry, I will buy everyone a pack of Ned Flander's eye soap.

Re:Huh? (1)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828978)

English is my third language. I'm sorry, I will buy everyone a pack of Ned Flander's eye soap.

Don't worry, we forgive you. Just try to be more careful next time.

Remember, there are no editors here to do basic fact checking and proof reading.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37829088)

What I don't understand, we always perceived Japan as a high tech nation and then this. Emergency workers with protectional equipment from your local hardware store, misinformation about dose levels, and a very stoic and trusting Japanese population, and mobbying against those who leave the country....

http://japan.failedrobot.com/

And the worst of it, the "how could we have known" does not apply. If I am not mistaken one of the international poster childs of classic japanese culture is a painting of a giant wave.

Re:Huh? (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828630)

Someone want to translate the summary? Or is this to be more evidence of lousy content and even worse editting? "as learnt" really?

Really. "learnt" is actually correct in this place, even though in the USA you're trying to get rid of these more sophisticated verb forms.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828748)

"Someone want to translate the summary?"

I'll give this a shot:

Fukushima Daiichi disaster proves the safety of nuclear power because not all the reactors melted down!

*has (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827488)

"...the japanese government panel probing the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown as learnt that..."

They didn't "as learnt" anything you fuck-wits. This is why I don't sign in anymore. Bogosity is off the chart -- even in the basic grammar department.

Terrible. English. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827566)

"In a potentially damning report, the japanese government panel probing the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has learned that the nuclear power plant Tokai No.2 avoided station blackout thanks to a 6.1 m high seawall, constructed in September 2010. TEPCO, however, failed to do build a wall of similar height in Fukushima."

Somebody feel free to do the rest, but that's as much of it as I'm willing to translate.

Re:Terrible. English. (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827844)

"In a potentially damning report, the japanese government panel probing the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has learned that the nuclear power plant Tokai No.2 avoided station blackout thanks to a 6.1 m high seawall, constructed in September 2010. TEPCO, however, failed to do build a wall of similar height in Fukushima."

Somebody feel free to do the rest, but that's as much of it as I'm willing to translate.

"failed to do build" is likely not entirely correct.

Re:*has (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828702)

Note that English is the submitter's third language, so let's just put all the blame on the editors. (Where it should go anyway).

Fail safe versus fail deadly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827504)

Fukushima failed because the design was an inherently flawed, older generation fail deadly reactor. Failure to maintain active cooling led to catastrophe.

This can't happen in newer reactor designs which are currently being blocked by the anti-science kooks inhabiting the public policy debate.

Blame the anti-nuclear movement and their Luddite mentality.

Their position is equivalent to a pathological hatred of newer cars, complete with those new-fangled seatbelts and airbags.

Nuclear policy is made by polls and pundits, not scientists and engineers. We'll always be playing a few cards short of a full deck under such circumstances, whether with nuclear power, or any other significant public policy issue.

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (1)

Time_Ngler (564671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827660)

Their position is equivalent to a pathological hatred of newer cars, complete with those new-fangled seatbelts and airbags.

No, it isn't. It's like a fear of all cars because people are often hurt and killed by cars. Except, instead of confiscating the cars in existence already, they are allowed to remain in use until they succumb to their own deterioration.

In case of nuclear power, leaving the old reactors in use can result in catastrophic failure. But it seems that we can't have it both ways, can we? If leaving the nuclear reactor in use is risky, and the companies in charge of them still do, and do so knowingly, then what assurance can we have that these same companies won't cut corners when produce new modern reactors, resulting in similar or other disasters?

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827840)

Well, in the US, we haven't had an opportunity to find out. Haven't started construction a new reactor since the late 80's because of licensing, environmental, and A-N lawsuits. So, we're left with aging Gen I and Gen II reactors and no newer, safer replacements being built.

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (1, Insightful)

Time_Ngler (564671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827884)

So, we're left with aging Gen I and Gen II reactors and no newer, safer replacements being built.

By the fact there have been so many nuclear disasters in the past, the companies that run these aren't able/willing to do so safely. So, how can we expect any new model reactors to be safe if built and run by these same corporations?

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (5, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828094)

i don't know about "so many disasters", so much as "1 major disaster, 1 medium disaster caused by a much bigger catastrophe and 1 small gas leak and messed up but contained core".

it's not good, but it's not bad either. you write like the world is a pulsating green wasteland without so much as cockroaches surviving.

i agree that greed will fuck up anything. it's up to the engineers to design these things as greed-proof as possible. that's just another safety feature. to that end, i'd rather a new gen reactor designed with a modern nuclear engineer's cynicism than one built in the era of "Peaceful Atoms" and almost sickening faith and optimism.

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828104)

By the fact there have been so many nuclear disasters in the past, the companies that run these aren't able/willing to do so safely. So, how can we expect any new model reactors to be safe if built and run by these same corporations?

Safety is a relative thing... how do you define safe?

It would be better than the current situation, if newer, safer reactors were implemented, and existing ones were decommissioned.

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828652)

So many ~= 1.5?

Chernobyl was a disaster. Actual vast areas contaminated by nuclear material, many deaths. Japan has had about half a disaster. Some contamination beyond the plant, no deaths, no radiation sickness.

If you're counting TMI, forget it. That was a scare. No actually dangerous release of anything.

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827670)

Do you have any idea how many reactors in the world are of this design? You've called doom on a lot.

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827766)

But but but, climate sceptics have taught us we cannot trust scientists, especially industry paid ones so why should anyone believe that nuke is safe?

Re:Fail safe versus fail deadly (2, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828002)

You assume environmentalists don't want meltdowns. The ones I saw, when Fukushima was melting down, seemed happier than had they won the lottery. Some people want to be right so bad they can't see past their own narrow mindset.

It isn't about if nuclear is safe or not, nuclear is confusing to them, and the unknown is always scary. It doesn't help that the vast majority would rather humanity go back to the stone age - what's a few billion dead due to starvation and exposure, if we're "green"?

Nuclear cover-ups again (0)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827532)

So, while fukishima was happening there were 3 other power stations in trouble that no one knew about. There were no news reports about the sea pumps failing in Tokai. Quite amazing that they could surpress the information like this.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (2)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827590)

This is news reporting cherry picking at its best. If everything in the news were true, the world would end next year, and the year after that we'd all have flying cars.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827602)

It seems that since the wall held most of the water out, and the pumps functioned correctly, the plant was not "in trouble" so there was no news to report.

It wasn't a cover-up, because there wasn't anything to cover up.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (1)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827634)

> the wall held most of the water out
Well, I don't see it reported anywhere that it held "most of the water out". All it says it that the sea wall was over run. I could just be that they were lucky

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827708)

According to TFA:

...the absence of the sea wall extension measure would have led to a similar disaster

"Most", being comparative, isn't a perfectly appropriate word here, but that's just being pedantic. The wall prevented the plant from losing power to two of its three pumps. I assume they take one pump down at a time regularly for maintenance. Lucky or not, there is still no newsworthy story in the fact that a safety system did its job admirably, just like it isn't newsworthy every time an airplane lands safely because its tires compressed as weight was applied. Flinging accusations of suppressing knowledge is pure FUD.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827674)

In a major disaster like that, the news literally cannot report on everything. There's thousands of things that, on a slow day, would be newsworthy. In this case, the media focused on the reactors that were failing, and ignored those that merely performed as designed.

The media rarely pays attention to "systems experienced abnormality, performing according to disaster plans".

Case in point: North Anna Power Station shut down automatically due to the recent East Coast earthquake. They're still actually shut down, because the government is overreacting and running additional inspections. And yet the only way I even know that is because my father works for the company that maintains their water system, and they called for information regarding that. There's been almost no mainstream media reporting on it. But the facts haven't been hidden - the top Google result for "lake anna power plant" is the official page by the plant operator, with a header about the earthquake response. The information is there, it's just not widely known to be worth reading.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (1)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827740)

Your response is valid, well reasoned and based in fact.

It does not, however, leave room for a tin-foil hat, and thus there are people here it will never satisfy.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827918)

OK then. Let me try again:

The REAL reason they haven't reported on it? Microsoft, in conjunction with Sony, working on behalf of the MPAA/RIAA, using Republican tax breaks, funded a top-secret re-education camp run by the Westboro Baptist Church to brainwash the entire country of Japan into becoming their mind-controlled cannon fodder for their war against truth, justice, and open-source software. Jack Thompson is rumored to be involved.

We should all immediately panic. Once we finish panicking, we should immediately go out and shoot every lawyer, politician or corporate executive you can find. The revolution begins now.

obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com]

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (0)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827954)

Not bad, though I'll note you missed Apple, Google, the Democrats, and the Taliban.

Otherwise, good work.

PS: You mislinked your xkcd, I believe this [xkcd.com] is the one you wanted.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (1, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828062)

PS: You mislinked your xkcd, I believe this [xkcd.com] is the one you wanted.

No, I deliberately linked to a future one.

If, by some crazy coincidence, Friday's comic is even loosely relevant, it may be taken as proof that I can foresee the future (at least by the sort of person who believes that crap).

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (0)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828098)

Fancy

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (2)

grommit (97148) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827712)

I'm not sure what news stories you were reading but the fact that multiple power stations were shut down was widely reported. Here's a quick link that took me all of 10 seconds to find on Google: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12711707 [bbc.co.uk]

Also, if you bothered to read the article linked in the summary, you'd see that only one out of three pumps failed at Tokai leaving the power station safe enough to do a controlled shutdown.

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (3, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827724)

Newsflash: "suppress" isn't a synonym for "not delivered to your door in the morning paper"

Re:Nuclear cover-ups again (1, Funny)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828740)

In other news tonight, Margarite Johanson of 123 Maple street is just fine tonight. She had been slightly worried earlier when it took two tries to start her car, but it was the first cold morning of the year...

Northern Lights Further South! RIGHT NOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827560)

Northern Lights are visible in large parts of the United States [spaceweather.com] that don't normally see them. Head outside and check it out.

Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37827668)

"The nuclear meltdown was a success. - If you don't think so you should die of cancer."

Poor risk analysis (2)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827680)

What I want to know is why the secondary coolant pumps were housed in tin sheds instead of say a concrete bunker like the primary reactor buildings?

I had just assumed for all these years that something as important as the secondary coolant system would be protected by more then some steel panelling. If they had of placed the secondaries in a concrete bunker on the side of the primary reactor building opposite the ocean then it would take a disaster big enough to crack the reactor building to put them out of commission.

It would probably end up cheaper then building a sea wall.

Re:Poor risk analysis (1)

Graff (532189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827866)

What I want to know is why the secondary coolant pumps were housed in tin sheds instead of say a concrete bunker like the primary reactor buildings?

The generators that run the pumps require venting to operate and even if they had piping for the venting it would still be difficult and costly to build a watertight seal around them. We're not talking about a couple of kilowatt generators here, these are fairly bulky installations.

What you do instead is place them behind walls or on top of high points that would place them out of reach of a anticipated reasonable high-water mark. This is a risk vs reward assessment that should take into account the serious risks involved in the case of a possible nuclear accident.

In this case they chose a level of risk that didn't pay off. Should they have increased the height of the wall, costing them more but reducing the risk? Probably but then again we don't have all the information that went into the decision.

Re:Poor risk analysis (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828162)

The generators that run the pumps require venting to operate and even if they had piping for the venting it would still be difficult and costly to build a watertight seal around them.

Backup generators don't require the venting until they are actually being utilized however.

They could be in a nearly watertight concrete bunker capable of having venting through openings in the bunker.

With maximal independent protection of each individual backup generator until an emergency failure of the primary occurs when they need to be brought into service.

In other words... the bunker would be sealed, except when the backup unit was actually being prepared to start up.

Re:Poor risk analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828764)

Diesel-electric submarines (sealed, watertight) run their main diesel engines while submerged, on periscope depth, using snorkels. Instead of a seawall, it is sufficient to make watertight container building/box with high enough and sturdy enough snorkel tower. It would be easy to upgrade if there is revision of maximum water level expectation.

We shouldn't trust neither sea to lay down, nor land to be firm and still. Build coastal structures like submarines. Build land structures like rafts on a dense fluid. Occasionally, they assume that roles and if they aren't made up to them, they fail catastrophically, break, tip over, sink, slide, flood.

Elevated platform (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828304)

Perhaps an elevated reinforced concrete platform is sufficient, 5m? Keep it simple?

The tsunami at Fuku Dai-ichi was 15m (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827760)

A 6m, or even a 12m sea wall would not have helped. The only thing damning about this is the summary.

Re:The tsunami at Fuku Dai-ichi was 15m (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827912)

A 6m, or even a 12m sea wall would not have helped. The only thing damning about this is the summary.

From TFA

Although Tepco calculated in 2008 that tsunami higher than 10 meters could hit the nuclear plant — a height close to the actual waves seen on March 11 — it only reported its calculation to the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency on March 7, 2011.

I don't recall the wave height to have been measured with any degree of accuracy. However, if the sea wall was 12 meters high and the tsunami actually 15 meters high, the barrier would have significantly reduced the amount of over run. If you watched the video of the wave hitting Fukashima, you saw a brief leading edge slam into and overrun the sea wall, then a mass of water that was not as high. It is certainly possible that the higher wall would have significantly limited the damage.

Re:The tsunami at Fuku Dai-ichi was 15m (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828326)

Not only that, TEPCO know at least since 2002 that they needed to improve their tsunami defenses in Fukushima Daiichi, they had 9 years to do the necessary steps. Tokai 2 still had troubles because they didn't finished their countermeasures, but at least their management shown a better understanding of what was at stake than TEPCO.

Re:The tsunami at Fuku Dai-ichi was 15m (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828536)

However, if the sea wall was 12 meters high and the tsunami actually 15 meters high, the barrier would have significantly reduced the amount of over run. If you watched the video of the wave hitting Fukashima, you saw a brief leading edge slam into and overrun the sea wall, then a mass of water that was not as high. It is certainly possible that the higher wall would have significantly limited the damage.

No, it wouldn't have. A Tsunami is not like a normal wave. Water would have poured over the sea wall for 15-30 minutes, so it would have risen just as high with the sea wall. A sea wall that is 1ft lower than a tsunami height is of little use, one of 1m-5m lower be of no benefit at all.

Re:The tsunami at Fuku Dai-ichi was 15m (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829124)

Wont a 1 ft. too short wall mitigate the impact of the wave? It's quite obvious that a total flooding will occur, but wet concrete is surely better than smashed concrete?

Re:The tsunami at Fuku Dai-ichi was 15m (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828640)

That's why I put the "potentially" at the beginning. TEPCO will need to explain why even if they know for so long that their countermeasures were insufficient they didn't take any action. The credibility of the company was already low with their fake safety reports, they don't need to appear even more negligent to the japanese public.

When will they learn? (4, Insightful)

palmer.dabbelt (1801614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827796)

[Cut to: Ships Cockpit. The room is flooded with red light and the message "Danger" repeatedly flashes on the screens. Bender snores loudly. Enter Fry and Zoidberg.]

Fry: What's happening?

[Zoidberg turns on another screen that displays the extent of the damage to the tanker. There is a huge gash most of the way along the hull. A gauge at one side of the screen drops as the dark matter levels go down.]

Zoidberg: All 6,000 hulls have been breached!

[Fry falls to his knees.]

Fry: Oh, the fools! If only they'd built it with 6,001 hulls! When will they learn?

inapt comparison (5, Interesting)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827802)

Fukushima had multiple hardware failures, correctable design problems, and crappy management. The failure was not just due to a low seawall.

1. Reactor 1's cooling system likely failed due to the quake, not the failure of the backup diesels. This opinion is based on analysis of the remaining sensors, that indicated the reactor was having problems even while the battery-powered cooling was still running. The existing plumbing and wiring had been embrittled from 4 decades of operation in a quake zone and proximity to, well, a nuclear reactor.

2. Design flaw and hardware failure: locating the backup diesel generators in a basement under the reactors, such that they were guaranteed to flood if water entered the area.

3. Design flaw: locating the spent fuel pools directly above the reactors in the same buildings, such that if the reactor had a little problem (hydrogen explosion, or moderated prompt criticality), said fuel would get blown sky-high, which it did in the reactor 3 explosion.

4. Design flaw: no externally located terminals for "connect portable generators HERE", and no rationalization of Japan's two different electrical standards (it's a fucking nuclear power plant that will blow up if not cooled, so support both standards, guys).

5. Management failure: All reactors should have been flooded with seawater immediately after the quake, as soon as the situation on the ground at the site became clear. This might have averted the hydrogen explosion by keeping the reactors cool enough to not oxidize the zirconium fuel-rod cladding. Local personnel correctly identified the situation, remote management denied permission to flood the reactors with seawater (because that basically ends the reactor's productive life). Eventually a local guy did so anyways.

Re:inapt comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828128)

Reactor 1's cooling system likely failed due to the quake, not the failure of the backup diesels. This opinion is based on analysis of the remaining sensors, that indicated the reactor was having problems even while the battery-powered cooling was still running. The existing plumbing and wiring had been embrittled from 4 decades of operation in a quake zone and proximity to, well, a nuclear reactor.

[[Citation needed]]
 

Design flaw and hardware failure: locating the backup diesel generators in a basement under the reactors, such that they were guaranteed to flood if water entered the area.

True, but only in 20/20 hindsight. Nobody expected water to enter the basement.
 

Design flaw: no externally located terminals for "connect portable generators HERE", and no rationalization of Japan's two different electrical standards (it's a fucking nuclear power plant that will blow up if not cooled, so support both standards, guys).

For the first part, pretty much nowhere has such terminals. For the second part, the dividing line is a couple of hundred miles away and irrelevant.
 

Management failure: All reactors should have been flooded with seawater immediately after the quake, as soon as the situation on the ground at the site became clear. This might have averted the hydrogen explosion by keeping the reactors cool enough to not oxidize the zirconium fuel-rod cladding. Local personnel correctly identified the situation, remote management denied permission to flood the reactors with seawater (because that basically ends the reactor's productive life).

A 'flaw' again based on 20/20 hindsight, huge assumptions as to the outcome, and and idiotic assumption that based on scant information, and a huge assumption on your part based on 20/20 hindsight they didn't have they should have just tossed a huge investment into the trashcan.

Re:inapt comparison (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828666)

" Nobody expected water to enter the basement."

Yeah, who knew water flowed downhill?

Re:inapt comparison (4, Informative)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828150)

Fukushima had multiple hardware failures, correctable design problems, and crappy management. The failure was not just due to a low seawall.

The Basis Design Issues of the Mk1 GE reactors ( the Hitachi and Toshiba reactors were based on that design) were known and neither of the two were correctable.

1. The evidence for the Basis Design Issue of the General Electric reactor comes from the tests of the reactor prototype by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in Brunswick in the 1970's where it was revealed in the tests of the reactor prototypes that vented when the reactor reached 70psi internally (they tested it with air).

2. A General Electric Nuclear reactor of that design requires a constant supply of power due to the nature of the refueling gate pairs that separate the reactor head from the spent fuel containment. I understand that, due to the nature of the seals on the gates, they need to be constantly powered to prevent a loss of coolant.

These BDIs are mitigated when a reactor is operated according to the Seismic Design Criteria for Nuclear facilities, S and B class facilities (those that contain radionuclides (S) or attached to pressure vessels that contain radionuclides (B) ) should not be affected by the loss of a C class facility (a support facility like a backup generator). The actual quake measured around 140Gal at Fukushima but the plant was designed to tolerate 600Gal (S class). As evidenced the C class facilities (diesel generators) were not as they were affected by the quake, and B class facilities (the pumps) were inundated by the tsunami indicating at least two obvious cases of negligence that led to the loss of the facility.

Clear cut case of criminal negligence on TEPCOs part. Further evidence is in the amount of heat in the spent fuel in the cooling pools. There is a pool volume of 1300 tons of water, they are 12 meters deep, there is 850 tons of water above the spent fuel in each except for reactor 1 spent fuel pool which is smaller by 400 tons. There is 60 Million calories per hour heating capacity in the spent fuel rods in reactor 1 spent fuel pool, 400Mcal/h in reactor 2 spent fuel pool, 200 Mcal/h in reactor 3 and 1600 Mcal/h in reactor 4.

The failure mode for a loss of coolant event in those spent fuel pools was *exactly* in line with what would happened if plutonium in those spent fuel pools was exposed, hydrogen was produced and an explosion occurred. That is what happened. Without those spent fuel containment pools leaking there should have been several *months* to do something, ergo the reactors were operating out of spec. This analysis is based on the available data and it seems a clear cut case of criminal negligence, because the facility survived the initial catastrophes. The risk could have been mitigated years earlier but it wasn't.

Re:inapt comparison (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828188)

Fukushima had multiple hardware failures, correctable design problems, and crappy management. The failure was not just due to a low seawall.

1. Reactor 1's cooling system likely failed due to the quake, not the failure of the backup diesels. This opinion is based on analysis of the remaining sensors, that indicated the reactor was having problems even while the battery-powered cooling was still running. The existing plumbing and wiring had been embrittled from 4 decades of operation in a quake zone and proximity to, well, a nuclear reactor.

2. Design flaw and hardware failure: locating the backup diesel generators in a basement under the reactors, such that they were guaranteed to flood if water entered the area.

3. Design flaw: locating the spent fuel pools directly above the reactors in the same buildings, such that if the reactor had a little problem (hydrogen explosion, or moderated prompt criticality), said fuel would get blown sky-high, which it did in the reactor 3 explosion.

4. Design flaw: no externally located terminals for "connect portable generators HERE", and no rationalization of Japan's two different electrical standards (it's a fucking nuclear power plant that will blow up if not cooled, so support both standards, guys).

5. Management failure: All reactors should have been flooded with seawater immediately after the quake, as soon as the situation on the ground at the site became clear. This might have averted the hydrogen explosion by keeping the reactors cool enough to not oxidize the zirconium fuel-rod cladding. Local personnel correctly identified the situation, remote management denied permission to flood the reactors with seawater (because that basically ends the reactor's productive life). Eventually a local guy did so anyways.

It sounds like there was only one major flaw.. they didn't spend enough money constructing and maintaining their safety systems.

But I am sure they enjoyed profiting from skimping on maintenance in the years before the earthquake!

Re:inapt comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828776)

But I am sure they enjoyed profiting from skimping on maintenance in the years before the earthquake!

I'm not going to defend them, there were obvious safety steps which were not taken and should have been.

But it's not all their fault. For example, the reason the spent-rod cooling pools were over-full is because there was no other place for TEPCO to put them. We have the same situation at many plants here in the USA- the government was supposed to provide a long-term storage facility (Yucca Mtn, I believe) for keeping them safe. But because the ENVIRONMENTALISTS pissed and moaned, that was never completed, and the result is we have plants using pools designed for temporary, short-term storage as a long-term storage solution.
The same thing went on over in Japan- under pressure from ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS the government has never fully implemented their long-term storage/disposal plans.

Greenpeace and the other anti-nuke idiots need to fess up and take at least part of the responsibility for how bad things got, because they have been actively working to make the plants unsafe for years.

Re:inapt comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37828204)

Question on 4 "no rationalization of Japan's two different electrical standards (it's a fucking nuclear power plant that will blow up if not cooled, so support both standards, guys)"

I thought different regions were on different grids. Is there any way to 'tunnel' X-hz through Y-hz grid to get to Y's reactor, without physically disconnecting a hell of a lot of Y territory to prevent damage to Y clients?

Or did I miss something, like emergency equipment sent to Y didn't work?

Re:inapt comparison (1)

timid3000 (1006661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828332)

1. Reactor 1's cooling system likely failed due to the quake, not the failure of the backup diesels. This opinion is based on analysis of the remaining sensors, that indicated the reactor was having problems even while the battery-powered cooling was still running. The existing plumbing and wiring had been embrittled from 4 decades of operation in a quake zone and proximity to, well, a nuclear reactor.

No, reactor 1 failed first probably because an employee mistakenly shutted the isolation condenser system (a passive cooling system) http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=3572578#post3572578 [physicsforums.com]

2. Design flaw and hardware failure: locating the backup diesel generators in a basement under the reactors, such that they were guaranteed to flood if water entered the area.

Reactor buildings are relatively waterproof, the failure of the diesel generator was due to the fact that they were located in the turbine buildings. For the more recent reactors 5 and 6, the diesel generators were located inside the reactor building and were not flooded.

3. Design flaw: locating the spent fuel pools directly above the reactors in the same buildings, such that if the reactor had a little problem (hydrogen explosion, or moderated prompt criticality), said fuel would get blown sky-high, which it did in the reactor 3 explosion.

No, the spent fuel pools are not located above the reactors, and I cannot remember any report of used fluel rods being blown in the air due to the hydrogen explosions.

4. Design flaw: no externally located terminals for "connect portable generators HERE", and no rationalization of Japan's two different electrical standards (it's a fucking nuclear power plant that will blow up if not cooled, so support both standards, guys).

Nothing to do with Japan having 50hz / 60hz zones. The problem was that all the electric panels were flooded (they should have installed them at a safer place).

5. Management failure: All reactors should have been flooded with seawater immediately after the quake, as soon as the situation on the ground at the site became clear. This might have averted the hydrogen explosion by keeping the reactors cool enough to not oxidize the zirconium fuel-rod cladding. Local personnel correctly identified the situation, remote management denied permission to flood the reactors with seawater (because that basically ends the reactor's productive life). Eventually a local guy did so anyways.

How do you inject seawater in reactors without working pumps ? The response to the accident was delayed because the roads were unpracticable due to the earthquake and the tsunami, even the power plant was a field of debris where it was nearly impossible to drive a vehicle.

Re:inapt comparison (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828466)

The isolation condenser (IC) automatically shut down after the temperature of the reactor core was dropping too fast. This was before anybody knew how big the tsunami was that was headed for them, which is why the employee didn't override the automatic shutdown. He would probably have decided otherwise, had he known that the tsunami was big enough to destroy the pneumatics necessary to open the valve to the IC again.

Re:inapt comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37829110)

If I am not mistaken its the same reactor model as in California, it's a US American model/design. Oh, no, we didn't know there was a risk of earth quakes in California.

The only way is to follow the Germans and ban nuclear energy. Hermann Scheer has interesting views on solar energy [youtube.com] .

Bairly survived (3, Interesting)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#37827872)

It may have survived, but it did so hanging on by a hair. The article only mentions the pumps, but in fact two of the three diesel generators were also out of order. Which means this could easily have turned real bad really fast.
Quoting Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TC5%8Dkai_Nuclear_Power_Plant#Incidents [wikipedia.org]

Following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami the number 2 reactor was one of eleven nuclear reactors nationwide to be shut down automatically.[4] It was reported on 14 March that a cooling system pump for the number 2 reactor had stopped working.[5] Japan Atomic Power Company stated that there was a second operational pump and cooling was working, but that two of three diesel generators used to power the cooling system were out of order.[6]

Also it remains to see if the reactor will survive politically. The Mayor of Tokai Mura has called on the government to decommission the number 2 reactor which is over 30 years old. There is a population of over one million people living within a 30km radius of the plant. And they have lost their confidence in the governments ability to safely run the plant. The well known Tokai Mura critically accidents a number of years ago probably didn't do much to boost their confidence either.

Re:Bairly survived (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828236)

Also it remains to see if the reactor will survive politically.

It was all over years ago.
Large power plants (especially nuclear ones) take a very long time to build, and time spans over a decade have been quite usual. Since nothing of this type has been built for so long in Japan and nothing is planned now the industry is on life support until it's eventual expiry when the existing plants get old (and consequently damaged) enough that they are too expensive to maintain. Problems with Japan's economy signed the death warrant long before the tsunami.

The real reason: Luck (5, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828448)

There is one simple way that would have prevented the tsunami from taking out all emergency generators.

To comply with international standards and have at least four emergency generators per reactor placed around the reactors with adequate spacing between each of them to prevent common cause failure. For purely geometric reasons (to keep the distance between each other) at least one per reactor would have to have been behind the reactor buildings on higher ground. Which exactly how spacing alone mitigates common cause failure.

It would also have been helpful had TEPCO installed Passive Autocatalytic Recombiners in their reactor buildings to catalytically "burn" the hydrogen before it can reach combustible or explosive concentrations. (Those do their job by hanging on the wall. No power required.) Or if they had hardened and filtered containment vents.

Both of those measures were implemented in Sweden, Germany and France some time after the analysis of the Three Mile Island accident, which quite accurately predicted how Fukushima Daiichi turned out, which was deemed unacceptable. Hence the additional safety features. I'm not saying that those are the only countries that implemented such measures, but with those I'm sure. And I stopped making assumptions about those things seven months and two weeks ago.

Re:The real reason: Luck (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37829064)

To comply with international standards and have at least four emergency generators per reactor placed around the reactors with adequate spacing between each of them to prevent common cause failure. For purely geometric reasons (to keep the distance between each other) at least one per reactor would have to have been behind the reactor buildings on higher ground. Which exactly how spacing alone mitigates common cause failure.

This bears repeating to all you engineers and designers out there. If you calculate a failsafe has a 10% chance of failure, you cannot mitigate it to 0.01% by making four of them and calculating the chance of all four failing to be 0.1^4. That statistical calculation only works if all four failsafes are independent. If they are identical, then they are not independent, and an event which causes one to fail can cause all four to fail. Which is what happened at Fukushima Daiichi.

The generators should have been in different locations, at different heights, with separate individual fuel depots, of different makes, etc.

Re:The real reason: Luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37829144)

The same model as in Fukushima was designed for the Californian shore lines. It's a reactor model made in U.S.A., not Japan, Sweden, France, Germany. The Germans are about to completely fade out nuclear energy and switch to renewables.

Foresight, not Hindsight (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37828496)

Try Google Scholar:

http://scholar.google.de/scholar?q=Containment+Hydrogen+Control+and+Filtered+Venting+Design+and+Implementation&hl=de&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart [google.de]

You will find that the first page contains only results between 1979 and 2003. This has nothing to do with hindsight. In fact, lots of people had the foresight to implement such measures. TEPCO was not among them.

wholesale cheaper jersey (1)

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Fukushima also survived (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37829422)

Fukushima Daiichi also survived. Just ask any of the most pro-nuke nutters on slashdot.

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