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Japan braces for nuclear meltdown March 12, 2011

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science, Uncategorized.

The earthquake and tsunami, as horrendous as they were, might be only a prelude to a much bigger nightmare. Five nuclear reactors have been heating up, without enough electricity to run their cooling systems. Their backup diesel generators were damaged by the tsunami, and batteries don’t last long. Mother Nature is about to show these cocky humans who think they can play with hellfire and get away with it the consequences of Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong, will. The odds may seem to be astronomical, but here it is, nuclear meltdown, about to happen once again. At least one of the reactors may already be past the point of no return, and the situation at all five reactors is far from under control. Japan has declared a state of emergency, but there is little anyone can do, besides hope that man’s folly won’t bite too hard, this time. Radioactive steam has been released and people in the neighborhood evacuated, but these are desperate measures with little chance of preventing catastrophe. There is little doubt there will be a catastrophic meltdown; the question is how far will the radioactive material go after it spews into the atmosphere.

There are stories all over the web, as the situation escalates. Here’s an excerpt from Al Jazeera.

Japan fears nuclear plant meltdown
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2011 06:48 GMT

Japanese nuclear authorities say there is a high possibility that nuclear fuel rods at a reactor at the Daiichi plant in Fukushima prefecture may be melting or have melted.

The cooling system of the plant was damaged in the massive earthquake that struck norteastern Japan and triggered a tsunami, killing at least 703 people.

Kyodo News agency said on Saturday that radioactive caesium had been detected near the plant, citing the Japanese nuclear safety commission.

A state of emergency has been declared for five nuclear reactors at two different sites in Fukushima, located about 250 kilometres northeast of greater Tokyo.

Steam containing low-level radiation were released to relieve pressure and tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from surrounding areas.

Radiation 1,000 times above normal was detected in the control room of one plant, although authorities said levels outside the facility’s gates were only eight times above normal, spelling “no immediate health hazard”.

The 8.9 quake and the tsunami cut the supply of off-site power to the plant and diesel generators intended to provide back-up electricity to the cooling system.

“The events that occurred at these plants, which is the loss of both offsite power and onsite power, is one of the rarest events to happen in a nuclear power plant, and all indications are that the Japanese do not have the situation under control,” Edwin Lyman, a nuclear expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US-based nonprofit organisation, said.

As usual, the authorities are downplaying the possibilities, but they are whistling in the dark. If they get the situation under control, it will be a matter of luck. This is what happens when cocky scientists play with dynamite, thinking they know what they’re doing. Sooner or later, the piper must be paid.


1. angryscientist - March 21, 2011

Here’s a priceless gem from the American Nuclear Society’s Top 10 Myths about Nuclear Energy

Myth # 4: Nuclear energy is not safe.

Truth: Nuclear energy is as safe or safer than any other form of energy available. No member of the public has ever been injured or killed in the entire 50-year history of commercial nuclear power in the U.S. In fact, recent studies have shown that it is safer to work in a nuclear power plant than an office [4](Nuclear Energy Institute nei.org).

It’s this kind of self-serving malarkey that makes me ashamed to be a scientist. If Japan is lucky enough to avoid massive radiation poisoning, which will travel with the winds and rain to poison much of the world, I shudder to think how the nuclear industry will brag and gloat over how it survived the worst disaster Nature could deliver. It’s a matter of luck now, just as it was at Three Mile Island, which could have been like this. Scientists who defend this mad science will never learn, shielded by the incredible arrogance that allows this kind of abuse of technology to live long and prosper. They actually think they know what they’re doing, they understand and know how to handle everything, no sweat, they’ve got it down how to deal with every contingency. As long as they have the public snowed, they’ll continue to live long and prosper, while the rest of humanity and other life forms suffer and die for it.

Come here and defend yourselves, you alleged scientists!

al - April 7, 2011

where are you’re counterarguments? Link studies to dispute it. If you’re a scientist, how about you quantify how other sources of energy also poison the world. Plenty of studies show that nuclear is as they say “as safe, or safer than other forms available”
Ain’t perfect of course, there are costs and risks.

2. Ms T - April 7, 2011

You’re a scare-mongering idiot and obviously not a scientist. Same applies to the blog author.

3. angryscientist - April 7, 2011

Oh, so nuclear energy is as safe or safer than solar or wind energy? How do you figure that, Al? You cite me one study that makes such a nonsensical claim, and I’ll tear it apart. You left out a key word in the quote, “any other form of energy available.” Only coal is remotely comparable in terms of spreading poison, and that’s primarily because coal plants are not required to remove all toxic elements from their exhaust fumes. They could, but it would cripple their efficiency, so it isn’t done. They have scrubbers, but those only filter out some of the toxic exhaust. And please note, I’m not referring to carbon dioxide, which is dangerous when emitted at levels sufficient to increase its concentration in the atmosphere and oceans, but is not toxic in any other way, shape, or form.

How do you figure no member of the public was killed or injured as a result of Three Mile Island? There were swarms of cancers, miscarriages, low birth weight babies downwind, but the statistics were altered. Same story with Chernobyl. The nuclear industry doesn’t want the truth to come out. Like the scientists who brought us the “Green Revolution,” they’ve done a nice snow job to convince people they know what the hell they’re doing. Now nuclear apologists are scrambling to convince people who are finally starting to have some doubts that there’s nothing to worry about. Like hell there’s nothing to worry about. The situation is out of control and getting worse. People need to realize this kind of disaster could happen anywhere, anytime. All it would take is a prolonged power interruption. The backup generators are notoriously unreliable.

Ms. T, you’re having trouble distinguishing between me and the blog author? Would you say Helen Caldicott is obviously not a scientist? John Gofman? Jay Gould? Gary Null? Michio Kaku? Anyone who thinks I’m scare-mongering, and is foolish enough to believe mainstream scientists, I have a bridge to sell you.

Is this the quality of debate I can expect from nuclear apologists? I might have known.

4. angryscientist - June 20, 2011

Some truth is coming out about this avoidable disaster. This is the nuclear industry in action. This comes from AP, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle:

New report shows early chaos at Japan nuke plant
By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press
Sunday, June 19, 2011

A new report says Japan’s tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant was so unprepared for the disaster that workers had to bring protective gear and an emergency manual from distant buildings and borrow equipment from a contractor.

The report, released Saturday by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., is based on interviews of workers and plant data. It portrays chaos amid the desperate and ultimately unsuccessful battle to protect the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant from meltdown, and shows that workers struggled with unfamiliar equipment and fear of radiation exposure.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant’s power and crucial cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and causing several explosions.

When the Unit 1 reactor lost cooling functions two hours after the quake, workers tried to pump in fresh water through a fire pump, but it was broken.

A fire engine at the plant couldn’t reach the unit because the tsunami left a huge tank blocking the driveway. Workers destroyed a power-operated gate to bring in the engine that arrived at the unit hours later. It was early morning when they finally started pumping water into the reactor — but the core had already melted by then.

Government reports released this month said the damage and leakage at the plant were worse than previously thought, with some of the nuclear fuel in three reactors likely having melted through the main cores and inner containment vessels. They said the radiation that leaked into the air amounted to about one-sixth of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 — double previous estimates.

Those estimates will go up again, but regardless, this article contained a bunch more examples of crass carelessness and the devil may care attitude of the nuclear industry. It’s no better in this country; the NRC is in the pocket of the industry and coddles it no end, regardless of which party is in power. This is the way the industry conducts its business. The risks are always claimed to be negligible, even when the situation is utterly out of control, as TEPCO still tries to pretend it knows how to deal with the hell on earth it created, just waiting for a big test it was bound to fail. Think it won’t happen here? Why not? Suppose a tornado drifted over a spent fuel pond. Would the risks of that junk spread over hundreds of miles be considered negligible? These alleged scientists disgust me, but they’ll continue to get away with murder, and I use the word deliberately. This isn’t just a scandal. This is deliberate scientific fraud, and the poisonous results are again spread across the planet, at least the northern hemisphere.

When will people realize mad scientists are destroying the planet and public health, just to make money? How much BS is enough before people realize they’ve been had? Many people in Japan have learned the hard way. Is that what it takes? Come on people, wake up and smell the coffee! These are not scientists, they’re hacks who cook the books and throw around jargon to snow the public! What the public doesn’t know is hurting everyone!

5. angryscientist - September 8, 2015

Here’s a long list of links compiled from Enenews.com to articles describing some of the horror stories coming true as a result of Fukushima. Read some and weep, if you care about this planet or your own health.

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