October 24, 2015 at 12:23 am #44571
Ran across this today.
I lived just south of there in late 1992/early 1993. A friend was renting a place and got sent back to the States on medical emergency. Took me about 6 months to get everything sent back and turn the house back to the owner. Was nice living on the economy for a short while in Japan. Learned how things like central heat and more electricity than 35 watts really made my life easier.
RobinOctober 24, 2015 at 4:47 am #44574
Reminds me of the photos of the area around Chernobyl. Start on the following page and near the bottom, just click on “next page” to continue. So very similar, and equally sad.October 24, 2015 at 5:24 am #44577
You guys ever see pictures of all the mutated vegetables from the farms around Fukushima ? worth a look , wild stuff .October 24, 2015 at 5:35 am #44578
You guys ever see pictures of all the mutated vegetables from the farms around Fukushima ? worth a look , wild stuff .
Got a link?October 24, 2015 at 6:00 am #44579October 24, 2015 at 2:24 pm #44584
Sadly, it turns out all the news outlets that posted such photos were pranked. Most of the photos have been specifically identified as having been taken much earlier, or in very different places from the Fukushima disaster.
What’s even more interesting to me is the lack of apparent mutations, so far, in the rather extensive photos taken by the Ukrainian woman I linked in my previous post above. She’s a very angry (at the Russians) person, and would have been more than happy to show abnormalities in her photos as she traveled on her motorcycle through the “forbidden zone.” Apparently many plants and even animals seem to have a much higher resistance to radiation than do we humans.
That is in no way to diminish the disasters in either Chernobyl or Fukushima.October 24, 2015 at 4:22 pm #44585
Interesting none the less , thank you .October 25, 2015 at 12:10 am #44595
One of the things about Fukushima that struck me was how the authorities downplayed the extent of damage and the radiation risk initially, just like what happened at Chernobyl. There is a lesson there for all of us. The other thing is that Fukushima got built where it did despite the historical record of monumental tsunamis hitting there. For these reasons I see all nuke plants as being ticking timebombs. The fact that there are little to no provisions to secure nuke plants in the event of a cyber attack taking down the grid is the greatest risk of course. My understanding is that most of the spent fuel pools are not hardened against such things as say a jihadi crashing a plane into one of them.October 25, 2015 at 5:17 am #44606
I’m fortunate to have two different friends in the power industry that are also associated with the nuclear end of things. I was pleasantly surprised earlier this evening to learn that two things are true. First, a fully-loaded 747 with full fuel load, passengers and luggage, could hit a reactor building directly, and they’re designed to not melt down. Would there be local issues, yes, probably. But not a core meltdown, thus no widespread, even worldwide disaster. Second, in the event of total power failure (grid as well as facility auxiliary emergency power), US reactors MUST conform to some standards that require the fuel rods to drop out of the core. In other words, they’re held up by means that include electrical power. Without power, they drop down. Would the water be hot? Oh yeah! But a meltdown would not occur.
Of course, that’s all theoretical, because it hasn’t actually happened. And design flaws are sometimes discovered that are catastrophic but entirely unanticipated even though believed to have been accounted for. But fundamentally, US reactors (as well as many around the world, but obviously not all) are specifically designed to deal with total loss of all electrical power as well as a direct hit from a 747. From the source I called and spoke with tonight, I have zero concern that I was being fed the lying “official” answer – I’m fully comfortable that these were two friends just talking honestly.
The downside is from the other question: is the grid itself protected against a major solar event or an EMP from a high altitude nuclear burst? No. They can’t The meltdown of the major power transformers that you see in power substations could not be prevented in that kind of event, and there is no storehouse holding spare large transformers. To order new ones would take several years just for a few – and who could manufacture them if THEY didn’t have power as well (such as a major solar event like the Carrington event in 1859)? And if we had thousands of them go out across the country at once, assuming we even figured out how to communicate internationally to try to order more, it would take a long, long, long time for us to ever get the major transformers in place to restart the grid. Plus, all the electronic devices we’re used to using would be destroyed as well, so we’d be starting from scratch on designing and manufacturing everything we take for granted today. There is no defense against a catastrophic EMP or solar event.
The upside of that is what would happen to the economies of the world if the US was suddenly no longer in the mix, but was suddenly an early 19th century nation with 300+ million people that did NOT possess the living skills of the people that knew how to live in 1800. If the US goes completely down, it would be catastrophic for the rest of the world as well. So, any semi-sane regime has a major incentive to NOT nuke us with an EMP device over the central US at 250 miles of altitude. What to do about the Little Prince in the DPRK? The answers to those kinds of questions really don’t matter, because we don’t have a perfect world where we can guard against every possibility. The odds are that some of our worst fears are less likely than we thought. I know I was somewhat surprised tonight to learn that some of those scenarios weren’t realistic to worry about for the most part.
Now one more downside. If anyone hasn’t been following the fact that we’re in a major transition period with respect to magnetic polar shift, we are. This came from the person I talked with tonight, though I had been aware of it already. I haven’t seen or looked at any info on this subject in probably over a year. But I knew that, for example, the magnetic north pole has been moving at a very significant and accelerating rate over the past few years. And the strength of the earth’s magnetic field is decreasing. This is normal. The poles have “swapped ends” many times in the earth’s history. And it’s unlikely that we’ll live long enough to experience the earth’s two magnetic poles actually swap places the next time it happens – though we’re in the transition period (which is many, many years in the making). The real danger is that without a strong magnetic field around the earth, we’re more vulnerable to what’s coming at us from space. And one of those things is the effects of solar storms. Right now, we can (and have even recently) survive an X-class solar storm. But we’re moving into a period where it will take less in the way of strength in a solar eruption to do us some serious damage. Whereas only Quebec, Canada, lost its grid in 1989, and it wasn’t long-term catastrophic, we’re more vulnerable today in 2015 than we were in 1989 from that particular solar storm. Our protection is reduced, and will only reduce further from here, with a possible (probable?) eventual swapping of magnetic poles again (has happened a number of times in earth’s history).
Bottom line: some of our fears are not worth losing sleep about. And some of the things that COULD happen, will be so catastrophic around the world, that our basic concern will be basic survival altogether, with everyone else in exactly the same boat. There won’t be another country to travel to for refuge. So for me, I ain’t worryin’ about that. I can’t do anything about that anyway, and worrying about that which I cannot control, only loses me quality of life right now.
So, in the immortal words of that great philosopher, Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy!” It might not get as bad as we worry about…. (And we plan for what we can, so we don’t HAVE to worry unnecessarily. As has been said elsewhere, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”October 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm #44607
GS, the core reactors are designed to withstand major impact but the spent fuel pools which are outside of the core reactor containment vessel are not built to the same standards. Without power, the water will boil away within days and then an uncontrollable radiation event will ensue. I have read that as much as 80% of the rods in spent fuel pools is eligible to be transferred to the much safer dry cask storage, but the utilities don’t want to spend the money and the NRC apparently errs on the side of utility fiscal concerns over general public safety concerns. In this era of terrorism, that is a pathetic abdication of responsibility. My understanding is that nuke plants only have anywhere from a few days to a few weeks worth of fuel on hand for their emergency generators, generators which I understand are not protected from say a jihadi crashing a plane into them.
Years ago we lived at the edge of the 10 mile evacuation zone for the Vermont Yankee nuke plant. Though we lived less than 2 miles due north of an interstate highway exchange, our evacuation instructions were to drive north towards the nuke plant and then take a convoluted route that looped us around to the local community college which was only 3 miles outside of the evacuation zone. Our plan was to drive two miles south instead and get on the interstate heading south, away from Vt Yankee. Their nonsensical evacuation plans is what first make me skeptical of the NRC’s wisdom.
In 2007, one of the cooling towers at VT Yankee collapsed. This collapse didn’t pose a radiation risk but in my opinion it spoke volumes about lax safety inspections. VT Yankee (which sits on the Connecticut River, the largest river in New England) also had a tritium leak into the groundwater for years before it was discovered and disclosed. During the investigations, plant officials denied the existence of underground piping, and guess where the leak was found…. in underground piping. In my simple way, I’m thinking that the people who run nuke plants should know how they are constructed and where all the pipes go.
VT Yankee was shut down at the end of last year and will be in the decommissioning stage for decades. By 2020 they are supposed to have transferred the spent fuel rods into dry cask storage. That will be a major milestone in reducing the risk to that area. VT Yankee is located where VT, NH, & MA meet. Having residents of 3 States in the immediate evacuation zone has long been a complicating factor for emergency management.
So, I don’t particularly trust the NRC to be protecting the interests of the American people.October 25, 2015 at 8:41 pm #44617
…but the spent fuel pools which are outside of the core reactor containment vessel are not built to the same standards…
Hmmmm. Good information. I don’t have any reason to suspect my friend of withholding that from me, since I didn’t really know to ask. He was a little pressed for time, so he only really got to address my two questions about EMP/solar storms (i.e. total power loss both grid and emergency/auxiliary), and a direct strike on the reactor building with a 747, for example. He went into enough detail that I think he just ran out of time. So your additional factors are helpful in understanding.
Interestingly, as we talked, I made the comment that everything depended on equipment obtained from and built by the lowest bidders, and he laughed and concurred. He also very briefly shared some things that I would not expect are classified, but are still rather sensitive, so I chose not to share them here. He first shared some things that in general are NOT addressed, and also made the statement that everything depends on all the parts and people working together and as designed. He finished the conversation with an event about which he was intimately aware, in which one of those, “Well, we didn’t think of that possibility” events happened. It was exceptionally problematic as I listened to it, and if widely known, could probably give cyber warriors ideas on things they might try out on our systems. He did agree with me that trusting government bureaucrats is like trusting a body of elected officials to always do the ethically, morally, and legally correct thing. And we both agreed that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real, too….
While we’re certainly not completely safe, by any stretch of the imagination, it is still nice to know that two of the oft-cited vulnerabilities really aren’t as much of a danger as many think (total electrical power failure and a direct hit on the reactor building by a fully loaded jumbo jet). The two of us still ended the conversation with the thought that some things simply cannot be fully prepared for, and there will always be glitches even in the best-laid plans built by the lowest bidders. In those scenarios, it may be so universally bad that it really won’t matter very much if we’re reasonably “fully” prepared. That’s just impossible for all the scenarios that could possibly crop up – even the “experts” haven’t thought of them all. (What happens with another 8.0 in Missouri, for example? There was damage as far away as Columbia and Charleston, SC, back when those quakes hit in 1811/12. Geology in the eastern US permits far wider damage than an earthquake in southern California, for example.)
But I can’t protect against all that. So I drop back to my Bobby McFerrin strategy.October 25, 2015 at 10:30 pm #44622
GS, another aspect of the nukes that doesn’t give me comfort is what happens with the staff in a total collapse scenario? They won’t all stick around if their families outside the plant aren’t safe and otherwise provided for.
I agree that every possible scenario cannot be safeguarded against, but in this day and age of cyber attacks, the grid being taken down is not especially far fetched. The NRC and the politicians behind them suffer from a failure of imagination.October 25, 2015 at 11:10 pm #44623
During the Gemini space program an astronaut was asked what he thought about as he lay in the capsule waiting for lift off. He said “The lowest bidder got this job!”
RobinOctober 25, 2015 at 11:16 pm #44625
I don’t have a lot of confidence in the idea of failsafe facilities. The list below demonstrates things go wrong no differently then with anyother man made contrivances.
Nuclear power station accidents and incidents
Year Incident INES level Country IAEA description
2011 Fukushima 5 Japan Reactor shutdown after the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami; failure of emergency cooling caused an explosion
2011 Onagawa Japan Reactor shutdown after the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami caused a fire
2006 Fleurus 4 Belgium Severe health effects for a worker at a commercial irradiation facility as a result of high doses of radiation
2006 Forsmark 2 Sweden Degraded safety functions for common cause failure in the emergency power supply system at nuclear power plant
2006 Erwin US Thirty-five litres of a highly enriched uranium solution leaked during transfer
2005 Sellafield 3 UK Release of large quantity of radioactive material, contained within the installation
2005 Atucha 2 Argentina Overexposure of a worker at a power reactor exceeding the annual limit
2005 Braidwood US Nuclear material leak
2003 Paks 3 Hungary Partially spent fuel rods undergoing cleaning in a tank of heavy water ruptured and spilled fuel pellets
1999 Tokaimura 4 Japan Fatal overexposures of workers following a criticality event at a nuclear facility
1999 Yanangio 3 Peru Incident with radiography source resulting in severe radiation burns
1999 Ikitelli 3 Turkey Loss of a highly radioactive Co-60 source
1999 Ishikawa 2 Japan Control rod malfunction
1993 Tomsk 4 Russia Pressure buildup led to an explosive mechanical failure
1993 Cadarache 2 France Spread of contamination to an area not expected by design
1989 Vandellos 3 Spain Near accident caused by fire resulting in loss of safety systems at the nuclear power station
1989 Greifswald Germany Excessive heating which damaged ten fuel rods
1986 Chernobyl 7 Ukraine (USSR) Widespread health and environmental effects. External release of a significant fraction of reactor core inventory
1986 Hamm-Uentrop Germany Spherical fuel pebble became lodged in the pipe used to deliver fuel elements to the reactor
1981 Tsuraga 2 Japan More than 100 workers were exposed to doses of up to 155 millirem per day radiation
1980 Saint Laurent des Eaux 4 France Melting of one channel of fuel in the reactor with no release outside the site
1979 Three Mile Island 5 US Severe damage to the reactor core
1977 Jaslovské Bohunice 4 Czechoslovakia Damaged fuel integrity, extensive corrosion damage of fuel cladding and release of radioactivity
1969 Lucens Switzerland Total loss of coolant led to a power excursion and explosion of experimental reactor
1967 Chapelcross UK Graphite debris partially blocked a fuel channel causing a fuel element to melt and catch fire
1966 Monroe US Sodium cooling system malfunction
1964 Charlestown US Error by a worker at a United Nuclear Corporation fuel facility led to an accidental criticality
1959 Santa Susana Field Laboratory US Partial core meltdown
1958 Chalk River Canada Due to inadequate cooling a damaged uranium fuel rod caught fire and was torn in two
1958 Vinča Yugoslavia During a subcritical counting experiment a power buildup went undetected – six scientists received high doses
1957 Kyshtym 6 Russia Significant release of radioactive material to the environment from explosion of a high activity waste tank.
1957 Windscale Pile 5 UK Release of radioactive material to the environment following a fire in a reactor core
1952 Chalk River 5 Canada A reactor shutoff rod failure, combined with several operator errors, led to a major power excursion of more than double the reactor’s rated output at AECL’s NRX reactor
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