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Spontaneous Fission In Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the gone-fission dept.

Japan 266

Kyusaku Natsume writes "Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that some of the melted fuel in reactor 2 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have triggered a brief criticality event. Tsuyoshi Misawa, a reactor physics and engineering professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute, said that if Tepco's data are correct, 'it's clear that the detection (of xenon-133 and -135) comes from nuclear fission.' Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said the test results suggest that either small-scale fission occurred in the melted fuel, or conditions to trigger criticality were temporarily met for some other reason. He said the same thing could also happen at reactors 1 and 3. But because the reactor's temperature and pressure level have not changed, the fission would not have been large-scale, Matsumoto said, adding that it would not thwart Tepco's schedule for achieving a cold shutdown at the reactors. In response, boric acid water was injected again on November 2. On the plus side, the concentration of radioactive materials in the air is low enough that workers inside some areas of Fukushima Daiichi workers soon will not have to use full face masks."

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266 comments

Sounds great. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37936944)

I love it when they fix stuff.

After so much disinformation... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937008)

I'm half expecting Godzilla to emerge from off shore and stomp the rest of the plant to bits.

Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it seems to be bound up and stuffed into a file cabinet in a disused lavatory in the basement of a building with a sign "Beware the leopard" on the door, when there's a disaster and a business involved.

Re:After so much disinformation... (3, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937074)

Heaven forbid a moth would land on that fissle material...

Re:After so much disinformation... (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937106)

Heaven forbid a moth would land on that fissle material...

Rather a good thing that (so far) radiation tends to kill things, rather than mutate them like good ol' fiction suggested for 70, or more years.

but all it takes is once ...

Re:After so much disinformation... (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938860)

Actually, the field mice around Chernobyl have a much higher rate of mutation including a 300% increase in fertility rates compared to those outside the exclusion zone which more than makes up for the slightly increased morbidity rate. It was one of the more interesting tidbits in a recent PBS show on research in the exclusion zone.

Re:After so much disinformation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937100)

Am I the only one getting tired of all this nuclear talk when we are ignoring the real Godzilla threat?

Re:After so much disinformation... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937138)

Am I the only one getting tired of all this nuclear talk when we are ignoring the real Godzilla threat?

You mean, like *shudder* a sequel to the American version?

the horror! the horror!

Re:After so much disinformation... (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938142)

I keep hearing of complaints about TEPCO misinformation etc. Reading the IAEA and NISA reports has seemed fine to me, where is all this disinformation coming from? None of it seems to be filtering though to anywhere reputable.
Of course, newspapers reporting headlines like "Japan secretly enlarges evacuation zone" after the government invites international media to a press conference on expanding the evacuation zone probably doesn't help.

Re:After so much disinformation... (2, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938186)

I'm half expecting Godzilla to emerge from off shore and stomp the rest of the plant to bits.

Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it seems to be bound up and stuffed into a file cabinet in a disused lavatory in the basement of a building with a sign "Beware the leopard" on the door, when there's a disaster and a business involved.

It's so quaint when people are surprised that the nuclear industry lies to the public about the risks involved, or that the government is almost always complicit in the perpetration of those lies. The truth about nuclear energy, they way it is typically delivered (as cheaply as possible), is that it is staggeringly dangerous. Incidents are, happily, fairly rare, but they are catastrophic when they do occur. That truth is bad for business if it is dealt with honestly, by anyone, in the public square. So yeah, duh... They are going to lie about it, always.

Re:After so much disinformation... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938886)

No, deaths per MWHr for nuclear are by far the lowest of any power source available, including things like wind, solar, and hydro. This is true even if you take the worst case cancer numbers which are probably off by at least an order of magnitude.

Re:After so much disinformation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938484)

I know this is random, but now that I think of it, Godzilla was supposed to be a dinosaur (before he was mutated by radiation) but we now know that dinosaurs are more closely related to birds than lizards... Would a real-life Godzilla have feathers?

Subject (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937058)

Obviously it's fake, we all know that after shutdown there CAN'T be uncontrolled fission going on. It's physically impossible, you dumb hippies!

Re:Subject (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937178)

Obviously it's fake, we all know that after shutdown there CAN'T be uncontrolled fission going on. It's physically impossible, you dumb hippies!

I dunno .. with what happens when all hell breaks loose in a reactor losing cooling, superheating and such - granted the period would likely be very, very short, but you could get just about anything from it (much of which will have very short half-lives) but the unpredictable nature of the event and outcomes shouldn't be underestimated.

Also .. rather like this bit: inside some areas of Fukushima Daiichi workers soon will not have to use full face masks." Right. Do I have any volunteers?

Re:Subject (5, Interesting)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937272)

Right. Do I have any volunteers?

Actually the elderly in Japan volunteered to be the workers early on in the crisis since they were already old and wouldn't be much more adversely affected by radiation cancers in 20 years...

Re:Subject (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937300)

Right. Do I have any volunteers?

Actually the elderly in Japan volunteered to be the workers early on in the crisis since they were already old and wouldn't be much more adversely affected by radiation cancers in 20 years...

There were also some very heroic company workers. Though I wonder how many of them performed their tasks out of a sense of duty versus told they had nothing to worry about, the levels were safe and their suits would protect them.

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937666)

There were also some very heroic company workers. Though I wonder how many of them performed their tasks out of a sense of duty versus told they had nothing to worry about, the levels were safe and their suits would protect them.

You write as if those conditions have been proven untrue.

Re:Subject (5, Informative)

DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly (655625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937784)

I'm trying to work out if you're being sarcastic or not. Of course you can have uncontrolled criticalities in a shutdown reactor. All you need to do it put enough fissionable material together and you'll get a criticallity event. They're usually just flashes and last fractions of a second, but it does happen. History is littered with these events. A shutdown reactor with the right levels of boron, still with core geometry intact will not have un-controlled criticalities, in that you are correct. However, this reactor does not have core geometry anymore and you can therefore not prove that the boron is getting everywhere and that the fuel hasn't managed to arrange itself into fissionable quantities.

Not due to criticality (3, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937132)

From Mainichi Daily News [mainichi.jp]

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday the detection of radioactive xenon at its stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant, indicating recent nuclear fission, was not the result of a sustained nuclear chain reaction known as a criticality, as feared, but a case of "spontaneous" fission.

Re:Not due to criticality (4, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937216)

From Mainichi Daily News [mainichi.jp]

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday the detection of radioactive xenon at its stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant, indicating recent nuclear fission, was not the result of a sustained nuclear chain reaction known as a criticality, as feared, but a case of "spontaneous" fission.

Do you believe any explanation from Tokyo Electric at this point? They have told enough lies about Fukushima that I now assume they are lying every time they open their mouths. Has this been verified by an independent 3rd party?

Re:Not due to criticality (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938202)

Do you believe any explanation from Tokyo Electric at this point? They have told enough lies about Fukushima that I now assume they are lying every time they open their mouths. Has this been verified by an independent 3rd party?

I would tend to agree about TEPCO. Anything they say needs to be taken with a healthy dose of Potassium Iodide. Given that, I'm not sure it's been 'verified' - one explanation is that the readings are spurious, but for another, less panicky take on the issue, read this [nature.com] .

Re:Not due to criticality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937438)

It's funny how Slashdot called it "spontaneous fission", because that's exactly what it was, even if Slashdot couldn't be bothered to not use a technical term when they didn't mean to.

It was spontaneous fission of curium.

No (fission) Nukes (4, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937140)

I was a proponent of expanding nuclear fission electricity generation until Fukushima. Fission is a zero-carbon system and cheap at massive scale. However, my enthusiasm also assumed that the industry was regulated and transparent enough to be safe. Clearly it is not. The bigger nail in the coffin for me, however, is that the first month or more of issues with Fukushima were clouded with lies from the utility that runs the plant and from the Japanese government itself. Why should we ever trust anything the utilities say about nuclear safety ever again? They don't have the moral integrity to handle the responsibility of running a safe nuclear fission industry.

I still hold out hope for the safe cold fusion dreams. It may not be a rational hope but it would be awesome.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937268)

I was a proponent of expanding nuclear fission electricity generation until Fukushima. Fission is a zero-carbon system and cheap at massive scale. However, my enthusiasm also assumed that the industry was regulated and transparent enough to be safe. Clearly it is not. The bigger nail in the coffin for me, however, is that the first month or more of issues with Fukushima were clouded with lies from the utility that runs the plant and from the Japanese government itself. Why should we ever trust anything the utilities say about nuclear safety ever again? They don't have the moral integrity to handle the responsibility of running a safe nuclear fission industry.

I still hold out hope for the safe cold fusion dreams. It may not be a rational hope but it would be awesome.

In my childhood I lived in an area where a proposed nuclear plant was to be built. The power company behind it started with a barrage of PR about clean, safe energy. Eventually, after years of changing regulations and legal battles they scrapped the nuclear plans and turned it into a natural gas plant.

That preceeed Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and, of course, Fukushima.

Want to conserve energy? Increase rates.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (2)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937876)

Nuclear is probably the most regulated industry in the world. You do realize the issue was not caused by lack of regulations. I seem to recall that is was a really big freaking earthquake, and shortly thereafter a really freaking big wall of sea water. Certain I read that somewhere. No excuses for lying afterwards. Can't regulate mother nature, she'll kick you in the jimmy every time. LIke it or no, nuclear is still the safest and cleanest way to go.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938016)

Plus *any* modern plant uses much safer designs than these 40 year old plants that were about to be decommissioned because they were so old and considering what they were hit by did surprisingly well since it was well outside of what they were originally designed to handle.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938366)

Now that's some serious spin there. Just what "issue" are you referring to, then? Here is the "issue" according to the OP:

the first month or more of issues with Fukushima were clouded with lies from the utility that runs the plant and from the Japanese government itself

I agree with you, lies are not caused by lack of regulation; absence has never been the cause of anything. But a monopolist colluding with the government to obfuscate the details of a crisis is not a sign of a healthy system either. So if, as you say, nuclear is the most regulated industry in the world, how can that happen? Is the regulation still not enough? Is the regulation failing? Should we abandon all efforts involving nuclear fission? Should we kill all the greedy bastards?

I want nuclear energy. I accept it as an acceptable interim source of energy while we work on better solutions. But I don't want nuclear energy without full disclosure. Quite frankly, I want it enforced that in the case of emergency, the entire company management do their work on-site. At least that way, we can be assured that they believe their own lies.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938562)

That assumes the OP was correct. I have yet to see evidence of this "lying". What I think happened, is that someone took at look at the hesitation and confusion surrounding TEPCO announcements early on in the disaster and concluded without cause that it was lying.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (5, Insightful)

shish (588640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937280)

my enthusiasm also assumed that the industry was regulated and transparent enough to be safe. Clearly it is not

And other industries are?

Burning coal does far more, further reaching damage - it just does it slowly and constantly as part of normal operating procedure, so nobody cares. (Other sources like solar / wind would be best, but I don't see them being able to fill the whole planet's energy needs any time soon)

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938322)

Burning coal does far more, further reaching damage - it just does it slowly and constantly as part of normal operating procedure, so nobody cares. (Other sources like solar / wind would be best, but I don't see them being able to fill the whole planet's energy needs any time soon)

Citation needed

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938698)

Citation NOT needed. Seriously, how many times do you need to see citations about the relative destruction of coal vs. nuclear power. Just look at any other Slashdot story about nuclear power or possibly look further down this very page. Just pretending you don't know the answer doesn't change anything. I suppose you need a citation to back up claims that the Earth orbits the Sun too.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (2, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937292)

Fission is a zero-carbon system.

In other news, apples are a zero orange food...

Re:No (fission) Nukes (2)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937394)

Fission is a zero-carbon system.

In other news, apples are a zero orange food...

While I agree with your point (That is to say, that the damage from Fission is not carbon-based but clearly still exists) I will point out that the difference is that fission and carbon fuels output in the same way. I can measure the output of both on the same scale, whereas when I try to measure the flavor of an apple in units of "citrusy goodness" people look at me funny.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937508)

The difference is that fossil fuels do damage during normal operations due to the CO2 and other emissions.

Nuclear (generally) does it's damage when something goes wrong.

You can plan for and mitigate the former, you can't plan for and mitigate disaster on the level necessary for nuclear. When a coal plant blows up, it just blows up and you go right back in and rebuild. We just choose not to plan for and mitigate the normal operation aspects of coal.

- yes I know nuclear waste is an issue but again that is normal operation issues that you can plan and mitigate...but not the disaster of a plane crashing into those storage ponds.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938668)

You can plan for and mitigate the former, you can't plan for and mitigate disaster on the level necessary for nuclear. When a coal plant blows up, it just blows up and you go right back in and rebuild. We just choose not to plan for and mitigate the normal operation aspects of coal.

See, that's where I disagree. I mean, we build dams. Do you have any idea what would happen if Hoover dam were to collapse?? You CAN plan for and (to some degree) mitigate disasters. That said, the primary prerequisite for this is honesty, and I"ll admit that the fuukushima incident was depressing largely in the sense that honesty seemed to be lacking. Without honest risk assesments you can't do anything (granted an honest risk assessment is not the same as a wholly accurate one, but any honest risk assessment dealing with nuclear power plants includes a plan for 'and we totally fucked up somewhere and it all came apart on us anyhow'.) You can make serious arguments about the impacts of major oil spills vs. nuclear power plant events when it comes to world-wide environmental impact. And coal mining incidents, while they don't have massive environmental impacts, per se, have killed many more people than nuclear power plants have.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (2)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937466)

>>Fission is a zero-carbon system.

It is not
Typically, extraction, transport, refining the fuel is done with oil power. The same applies to building and discarding all the plants (which is HUGE, especially with a lot of concrete, which is very negative from carbon point of view)

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937574)

Infrastructure and ongoing operations are different animals.

The basic point being that both fossil fuel and nuclear have 'roughly' the same infrastructure requirements so those negate each other. Nuclear does not have CO2 emissions from it's normal operation.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938100)

Extraction and transport of coal is done using oil and other forms of power as well. Are you adding that to the regular emissions of the coal plants? I can assure you, A LOT more coal is needed to produce the same electricity from a coal plant than uranium is required from a nuclear plant.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938386)

WE can fix that by replacing the heavy equipment in the mines with human slaves.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938824)

and of course, by preventing them to breathe, too.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937354)

Because the japanese government is the same as our German government or the fucking americans?

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937376)

Maybe if the world would start shutting down the existing obsolete designs for much safer ones like Gen4 Thorium reactors that are infinitely safer things like this wouldn't happen.

Thorium ? bullshit ! (1, Flamebait)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937658)

Thorium is not safe. It needs insane quantities of sodium, which will disperse in the air as soon as the first fire happens. Also it needs chemical reprocessing 24/365 together with each reactor, which pollutes, and is highly dangerous.

>> Nuclear power has caused fewer deaths per TWh
Absolute lies. This takes in account 30 deaths for Tchernobyl while there were ca. 1 million.
It does not take in account the health of million of people affected by chemical and radiological pollution in countries like gabon. It does not take in account the future deaths resulting from leaking fuel storage, which is inevitable on the long run. (leaking, spreading, and deaths are all inevitable).

Re:Thorium ? bullshit ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937890)

It does not take in account the health of million of people affected by chemical and radiological pollution in countries like gabon.

Do you have cites, or are you (likely) posting out your ass?

Re:Thorium ? bullshit ! (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938432)

Posting out his ass? he has explosive, high pressure diarreia that paints walls with that feceies coming out of his ass.

Re:Thorium ? bullshit ! (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938212)

The Liquid Floride Thorium Reactor doesn't use sodium. It uses a salt. And one was even built 50 years ago. Of course since you can't make bombs from the by products it was abandoned by our government.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937450)

"cheap at massive scale"

Yeah, because 30 year decommissioning and decontamination jobs cost naught.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (5, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937452)

Judging nuclear power's safety by a first generation reactor design that was built nearly 40 years ago, and that despite a M9 earthquake and 15m tsunami has not killed anyone, and is predicted to eventually cause up to 100 deaths from cancer is foolish. It's like judging hydro power by the dams that have burst and flooded and killed thousands, or by natural gas pipeline explosions that have killed hundreds, yet you're not protesting those types of power.

Nuclear power has caused fewer deaths per TWh [nextbigfuture.com] generated than any major power source, including wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, or fossil fuels. Nuclear power is the safest power source yet tried, and that's even with the older reactor designs and the Russian RBMK design (e.g Chernobyl) that is inherently unstable and should never have been built.

Gen III reactors have passive safety designs that allow full cold shutdown with no external power. And thorium fueled reactors don't produce usable quantities of plutonium so they're not a proliferation concern, and doesn't require uranium enrichment (which is itself expensive and dangerous). And using fuel reprocessing dramatically lowers the nuclear waste (by a factor to 10 to 100).

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937738)

>> Gen III reactors have passive safety designs that allow full cold shutdown with no external power. And thorium fueled reactors don't produce usable quantities of plutonium so they're not a proliferation concern, and doesn't require uranium enrichment (which is itself

Welcome to the barbie world of nuclear reactors. Too bad it does not work that way.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937944)

Instead of making a bland, unsubstantiated statement and walking away, would you care to elaborate on why it doesn't work that way? You could start by explaining where the commenter is wrong or is being too simplistic.

If you're short on time to explain or if you don't wish to be redundant, include links to information that prove your point. But contribute something to the discussion other than a pointless statement.

Just saying something pithy does not a discussion make. You've given me nothing, so I have to assume that the grandfather comment is correct (or more correct) than yours. Prove your point (with facts!) and get me on your side.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938096)

What doesn't it work that way? I thought the parent post was insightful. Yours is more of a troll.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938104)

One more time... do you have a cite? (S)he does. You don't. STFU or back it up.

No kidding (0)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938118)

This was basically the worst natural disaster that could happen to it, short of getting hit by an asteroid. On top of that, there were problems with planned backups (like having the wrong kind of generator on hand). Also, it was using old technology as you noted. For all that, nobody died.

Sounds pretty safe to me. Was there damage and contamination? Yes. Can we do better in the future? Hell yes. However over all this sounds pretty good.

Life is not a no-risk game. As you accurately point out, other power technologies cause deaths too. We need to stop being so scared of nuclear radiation just because it is invisible and look at it from a practical standpoint.

Yes, nuclear power will cause deaths sometimes. Get over it. Unless it causes a high number, it isn't a problem. We do not live in a safe world.

Re:No kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938298)

People need to keep in mind that Life causes Death 100% of the time, You can take that to the bank!

Re:No kidding (2)

Thagg (9904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938770)

> People need to keep in mind that Life causes Death 100% of the time, You can take that to the bank!

So far, for humans, it's only about 90% of the time. At least 10% of the humans ever alive are still alive.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937500)

So you stopped being a proponent because:
1) A seriously outdated nuclear power plant has some problems after it is hitten by an earthquake and a tsunami that would level to the ground any american city;
2) The specific company that owned the plant lied about security in case of an tsunami of that scale;
3) You are ignorant of the past 30 years of advancements in nuclear power generation;
4) You are ignorant of what negative temperature coeficient of reactivity means;

Welcome to the world where advanced technology is stopped by idiots that can't and don't want to understand it.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938146)

You are just affirming that it's all Politics and zero facts. Most people seem to go with what they are told and don't care to research anything for their own.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937588)

I'm a Reactor Operator at a UK nuclear power station, and I can vouch for our transparency. The regulator has full access to all our data systems and so it's impossible for us to cover anything up, not that we would want to anyway. The nuclear industry is one of the most mature industries out there. We're constantly sharing experience with other utilities in the hope that they don't suffer from the same issues that we do. Other industries hide this information because of competitive advantage. This doesn't bother us, just the safety of the public.

I don't recall any lies being spread by the Japan government or the operator of that powerstation. There was some mis information at the start, due to the extent of the event not being widely understood, but most of that was due to the non-understanding media.

Thorium/LFTR (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937636)

Don't get down on nuclear. Thorium is the future. We have enough supply of it to replace the entire world's energy needs, and the salt based solution is the safest there is. It does not require the reinforced meltdown containment of traditional nuclear.

If any nuclear power could be called safe, Thorium is it. Or LFTR, specifically.

https://plus.google.com/u/1/107403602702342125509/posts/VFLzb7rzByx [google.com] - All about Thorium and the WH.gov petition link.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (2)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937754)

How many people have died from this incident (or any nuclear-related event) compared to number of coal miners and oil rig workers who are killed each year? As far as long term health effects, like increased cancer rates, time will tell. However, let's compare that to coal miners contracting chronic lung disease and that the many deaths attributed to respiratory distress caused by air pollution. What about coal mine explosions or oil spills? Please explain to me how nuclear power is somehow more dangerous than the alternatives. Don't bother bringing hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, etc into the argument. When practical, I fully support those sources over nuclear.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938028)

I'm all for nuclear, but its fuel has to be mined as well.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938372)

It does, but some order of magnitudes less needs to be mined for the same amount of energy. Add in breeder reactors and drop that by some more orders of magnitude and you have a much, much smaller problem.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937834)

Are you kidding??

You think the biggest, most huge-est, gianormous-est earthquake/tsunami that ever hit (note the use of Idiocracy-speak since you clearly are a moron) Japan is something that the people that can 'do something smart, like Not-Sure' have ever considered??

The only cold fusion you're gonna get is my frozen steel-toed boot kicking you in your namby-pamby balls!! Go hug your teddy bear you loser!!

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938232)

I was a proponent of expanding nuclear fission electricity generation until Fukushima. Fission is a zero-carbon system and cheap at massive scale, if you can manage to keep the government regulators off your back with all their useless "safety" requirements.

TFTFY.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938314)

So should we stop the reactors that make the arterial used in nuclear medicine? That way when we shut down all reactors cancer deaths will increase.

Re:No (fission) Nukes (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938368)

Why? Because we cant make reactors withstand 9.7 earthquakes and being slammed buy a 60 foot tall wall of water?

Sounds like you have unrealistic expectations. To me They did a fantastic job and are proof that Nuclear energy is safe. Even with the worst the planet was able to throw at them in natural disasters, it was still mostly contained.

You make it sound as if the plant was fine and then Kim Kardassian walked by and it exploded.

Thorium would address your concerns (1)

sgrover (1167171) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938684)

http://youtu.be/N2vzotsvvkw [youtu.be]
Thorium reactors would address your concerns. The plants become self regulating - reaction stops itself if/when needed. That, and the actual thorium elements are a) more common than uranium, and b) generate much less waste. Lots of videos on YouTube explaining the details, but the link above is a good introduction. It also explains the differences from the current Uranium based reactors.

Spontaneous Propaganda: +4, Radioactive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937258)

"workers soon will not have to use full face masks." => More propaganda

However, they will HAVE to wear LEAD SUITS => PRICELESS

Yours In Hiroshima,
Kilgore Trout.

Cooling itself a danger (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937536)

Colder water increases the chance of a criticality. Colder water is denser, therefore a better neutron moderator. As the temperature in the core drops, it probably crossed the threshold for a (briefly) sustained reaction, which probably then melted or reformed into a shape no longer capable of sustaining the reaction. As the shape and condition of the fuel is currently a complete unknown, this could happen again at any time until all the way down to room temperature. /former US Navy reactor operator

Re:Cooling itself a danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938452)

I was going to reply with supporting statements about being a former RO as well aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, but then I realized that two AC comments probably wouldn't convince anyone of anything.

how about that (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937630)

So there was spontaneous fissioning still going on in these reactors, yet not enough of it to contribute to the heating of the core. I apologize to whoever claimed this was going on. I however don't apologize for downplaying it, because we now see it wasn't a significant.

Not too surprising (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937692)

Down at the bottom of Reactor 1, they have a melted core. It's not surprising that they have a criticality event once in a while. Nobody seems to have a clue how to get in there, remove the core bit by bit, and transport the mess in small pieces to some disposal location. TEPCO is saying that in 10 years, they might be able to start on that. Meanwhile, they have to continuously remove about 2MW of heat or things get worse.

One bright spot in this is that the plant is built on bedrock, and the containment vessel seems to have held. It needs to hold for another decade or two.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37937844)

and the containment vessel seems to have held

No one knows what has happened in those reactors. Engineers are always surprised when they finally observe the result of nuclear incidents. It's always worse than they expect. There were credible claims that fuel damage at TMI-2 was zero or very minor right up until they dropped the camera into the pressure vessel and the core was ... elsewhere.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937880)

>> and the containment vessel seems to have held
Don't think so

if the containment was intact, we would not have all the water down in the basement, and radionucleides measurable even in Europe.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938880)

One bright spot in this is that the plant is built on bedrock, and the containment vessel seems to have held.

At least one of them didn't, hence all the iodine and caesium isotopes spreading over a large area. From what I've read it's pretty certain that reactor 2's containment failed, the status of the others is less clear.

A lesson to be learned from train braking (3, Informative)

goffster (1104287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37937780)

One of the best inventions for a train was its braking system.
You have to apply energy to *prevent* a train car from braking.
This prevents run-away cars.

A successful nuclear reactor would have something similar
where you have to apply energy to keep the coolant at bay.

i.e. The core is at the bottom of the ocean and energy
is spent by the reactor to keep ocean water from rushing in.

Re:A lesson to be learned from train braking (1)

RCC42 (1457439) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938164)

One of the best inventions for a train was its braking system.
You have to apply energy to *prevent* a train car from braking.
This prevents run-away cars.

A successful nuclear reactor would have something similar
where you have to apply energy to keep the coolant at bay.

i.e. The core is at the bottom of the ocean and energy
is spent by the reactor to keep ocean water from rushing in.

First thing: When you abruptly end your paragraphs like that it looks like you're writing poetry

Second thing: Ocean water is FULL of stuff that would absorb radiation from the core if you flooded it like that. That ocean water is going to be a mess and that area of ocean won't be a very good area after that.

Re:A lesson to be learned from train braking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938256)

the problem with this is water is a energy carrier when used as a coolant. even if lots of water rush in, there is a limit in the amount of energy it can absorb without it being pumped (still water). If they could get a constant flow of water already, they wouldn't need the pumps for the water.

there are lots of improved designs for reactors in terms of safety, the problem is that many of these reactors are old relying on older technology (there is a limit on renovations that can be done and few wants to put them offline to do them as well)

Ice containment (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938434)

That's been tried. One GE design had huge blocks of ice with boron as an emergency cooling system. Sequoyah Nuclear Generating Station in Tennessee uses that technology. It's not considered a good idea any more. There's a finite supply of coolant, but the waste heat from the reactor keeps on coming.

Re:A lesson to be learned from train braking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938638)

Usually, that is the case. A nuclear reactor has neutron-absorbing control rods that are able to stop the chain reaction when inserted into the core. They are kept above the core by electric motors against their weights. When power is interrupted, they suspend the nuclear reaction. That worked in Fukushima.

But even after the nuclear reaction is suspended, the core still produces heat, that should be removed else the rods and their casing can melt. That's also what happened in Fukushima.

Actually, in Fukushima, there is a cooling mechanism based on convection (isolation condenser) that didn't need any external power to operate. It started automatically, but it was turned off as it was cooling the reactor to quickly, which could stress the steel walls of the pressure vessel.

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/24-hours-at-fukushima/0

Re:A lesson to be learned from train braking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938862)

Which is exactly one of the benefits of LFTR's . They require active cooling of a freeze plug. If it melts the molten salt drains automatically into cooling/holding tanks where it can be safely and passively cooled.

http://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/p/benefits-of-lftrs.html

Why do you people NOT understand TRUTH yet? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37938030)

This should be the smoking gun that ends nuclear anything forever! Mankind simply cannot be trusted with this great of a power. From weapons to power, every time it is applied it is misused. Nuclear technology must be abolished and destroyed, and anyone possessing it must be put to death for the greater good of mankind. Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Several atolls in the Pacific... How many more places must be contaminated before we admit defeat? WE CAN STILL MEASURE RADIOACTIVITY AT HIROSHIMA! THE OLDEST NUCLEAR EVENT IN HISTORY!

NO NUKES!
NOT NOW!
NOT EVER!

Re:Why do you people NOT understand TRUTH yet? (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938750)

WE CAN STILL MEASURE RADIOACTIVITY AT HIROSHIMA! THE OLDEST NUCLEAR EVENT IN HISTORY!

NO NUKES! NOT NOW! NOT EVER!

I'm pretty sure they dropped a test bomb long before it ever made it to Japan... that *might* be older than the first drop of a weaponized bomb. Because no one takes a brand new weapon to battle without making sure it works, first!

stop calling it 'critical' (5, Informative)

e3m4n (947977) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938254)

As a former navy nuclear enlisted personnel; I can tell you that reactors operate at criticality all the time. The mere definition of critical is when all the thermal neutrons born from fission go on to cause more fission reactions. Critical = steady state. 'Prompt critical' or 'supercritical' is when its critical without the contribution of thermal (delayed) neutrons.

Every single reactor startup, we calculate exactly what rod height we expect to reach when the reactor goes critical. Once we are critical we then allow steam demand and thermal coolant temperature to drive reactor power output. higher temps are less dense thereby thermalising fewer neutrons lowering reactor power. If steam demand or load increases coolant temperature subsequently lowers making the coolant more dense in turn thermalising more neutrons increasing reactor output. Its all driven back to steady state. This is commonly referred to as a negative reactivity coefficient. Critical = steady state and Steady state is a good thing.

Re:stop calling it 'critical' (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938790)

Critical = steady state and Steady state is a good thing.

Not trying to argue with you about this, but in this case they do not have any (or much) control over the reactor. Having it continue to produce a reaction is likely an undesirable condition.

Spontaneous fission (2)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938578)

This article confuses me a great deal, and IAANP (grad student). They say "one hundred thousandth of a becquerel per cubic centimeter of xenon-133 and xenon-135 was detected in gas samples.", that means one decay per second in every 1/10 of a cubic meter. This is a very low rate. U-238 undergoes spontaneous fission in about 1 in 10^5 radioactive decays whether it is in a reactor or not,and about 1% of those fissions produces a Xe-135 (either directly, or after decay of one of its parents like I-135). If I do a back of the envelope calculation, I find that for 10 tons (a guess) of U-238 sitting there being nice, about 100,000 Xe-135 will be produced every second. Thus, unless the air volume they are sampling from is much larger than 10,000 cubic meters, this sounds like what I would expect WITHOUT criticality.

Am I missing something here?

ERROR - Mod me down (1)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | more than 2 years ago | (#37938820)

Sorry, error. The spontaneous fission branch isn't 10^-5, it's 10^-5%, so decrease my result by a factor of 100.
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