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Nuclear power, clean, safe, too cheap {er… complicated} to meter
Posted: 12 March 2011 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I read the news today, oh boy.  A nuclear power plant had just been blown…

Nuclear reactor explodes
Radiation 1,000 times above normal detected;
By REUTERS, AFP, AP, and ELLSON A. QUISMORIO
March 12, 2011, 7:04pm

— Radiation leaked from an unstable Japanese nuclear reactor north of Tokyo on Saturday, the government said, after an explosion blew the roof off the facility in the wake of a massive earthquake.

The developments raised fears of a disastrous meltdown at the plant, which was damaged by Friday’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan.  {...}TV footage showed vapour rising from the plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo…

The magnitude 8.9 quake sent a 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami ripping through towns and cities across the northeast coast. Japanese media estimate that at least 1,300 people were killed…

The blast came as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) worked desperately to reduce pressures in the core of the reactor.

NHK television said the outer structure of the building that houses the reactor appeared to have blown off, which could suggest the containment building had already been breached…

One reactor at the plant is facing a possible meltdown after its cooling system was knocked out.


http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/308997/nuclear-reactor-explodes

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

{update}
It is finally time to come clean.

From my original post beginning this thread, I have been ‘plagued’ by my conscience; seeing as I lifted the title for this thread from Harry Shearer’s NPR radio program Le Show

The man’s got the ballziest weekly news program going and his nuclear energy news segment shares news you won’t hear anyone else from the corporate media broadcast.


On many occasions I have almost started a thread centered around his irreverent romp through the news, but alas never did. 

See the guy drives me crazy, he spent too many youthful years listening to Paul Harvey, he delivers his program as he wants too - pushing whatever envelope he wants. 

One of those precious talents that can drive one to distraction, while leaving me unable to stop listening to his program since it actually makes more sense than most of the other crap being beamed out at us.  http://harryshearer.com/news/le_show/

[ Edited: 06 August 2011 02:03 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 12 March 2011 08:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think that when we see news agencies say that the nuclear plant has “blown” it means that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and are using inflammatory language to sell the story.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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d5043e1191255964794522d936923803.jpeg
AP Photo/NTV Japan via APTN
In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke raises from Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s Unit 1 in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Looks like it blew up in that picture.

Now they are assuring us that the reactor vessel hasn’t been breached, though they also say pressure levels are dropping… hmmm.
Apparently what blew up was the building around the reactor core.  The building that houses all the plumbing and cooling, many controls and who knows whatnot.  So why are we worried?

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Posted: 12 March 2011 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well they are safe when they are not in earthquake zones or designed and controlled by Russians.

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8454419-japan-moved-25-meters-due-to-earthquake

When hundreds of square miles of land move 8 feet what is a reactor supposed to do?

It reacts!

psik

[ Edited: 12 March 2011 11:07 AM by psikeyhackr ]
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Posted: 12 March 2011 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m glad this topic was brought up because I am reading and hearing a lot of conflicting reports on this subject, which makes me think someone is spreading misinformation. I read a report from a site on Twitter that claimed a meltdown worse than Chernobyl is likely while another says everything is under control. Moreover, some sites are reporting one reactor at risk while others report two or even three. Is there a credible site that we can trust?

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Posted: 12 March 2011 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Probably not, we’re still looking at a active crisis and reports tend to be confusing during them.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Colour me cautious on this one. No nuclear accident is ever a good thing but by the same token, the news media goes by the “If It’s Hysterical Or Bleeds, It Leads” principle of reporting. CNN appears to be a bit more even handed in dealing with this which doesn’t mean that they aren’t blowing things way out of preportion.

For wahatever it’s worth, it says a lot about just how ruggedly that plant is constructed that it took a massive earthquake to cause a problem.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Meltdown - the fission material gets so hot, due to lack of cooling water or whatever error, that it melts flowing downwards.  So hot, that it melts through anything it touches, starting with its containment vessels.  This is not an explosion.  Although if it were to touch other objects that explode when heated or penetrated, surely they’d explode.

If we’re going to build fission reactors, we should probably protect them from earthquakes, build them away from active earthquake zones, do it safely.

“Nuclear power could play a role in reducing global warming emissions because reactors emit almost no carbon while they operate and can have low life-cycle emissions. Partly for that reason, advocates are calling for a nationwide investment in at least 100 new nuclear reactors, backed by greatly expanded federal loan guarantees. However, the industry must resolve major economic, safety, security, and waste disposal challenges before new nuclear reactors could make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions.”  Union of Concerned Scientists

[ Edited: 12 March 2011 12:29 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 12 March 2011 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Psi:

Well they are safe when they are not in earthquake zones or designed and controlled by Russians.

And Three Mile Island?

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Posted: 12 March 2011 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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It sounds like the earthquake “only” shut down the power supply, as opposed to damaging the building.  Of course circulating cooling fluids requires electricity.

Here’s a fairly knowledgeable article:

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent 9:00PM GMT 12 Mar 2011
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/nuclearpower/8378277/Japan-earthquake-Battle-to-avert-disaster.html#

I myself don’t trust big nuclear power plants.  I do trust small reactors that run navy ships and submarines, because they are smaller, and run by thoroughly trained and dedicated highly disciplined staff. 
Big and driven purely for profits makes for mistakes… although I will admit all in all their record has been better than I suspected it would be as a kid. - but still Russian Roulette is Russian Roulette.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Here’s the deal.  The plants in Japan are Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and are at least 30 years-old.  Modern designs are almost all
Pressurized Water Reactors and are inherently safer, note safer, not safe, based on certain design guidelines, specifically they will shutdown, scram, automatically
when power is lost, unlike BWRs which require a constant flow of coolant and thus electricity, which as we’ve seen in Fukushima I and II
cannot be guaranteed even with redundant cooling systems. 

This will make it harder to start nuke plants in the USA though the design in question (BWR) is an old, outdated technology.  Modern designs are
undoubtedly safer than the old types and the Chernobyl type is a joke.  check out the most advanced reactor design currently under construction at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000

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Posted: 12 March 2011 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The problem is that any major, centralized source of energy may be susceptible to catastrophe.  We can’t forget the BP disaster in the gulf, or the Exon Valdeze in Alaska.  I think we have to balance a number of factors such as present availabliity, likelihood of catastrophe, and ongoing damage.  Wind, solar and tidal pass the second and third but fail the first factor.  Petroleum passes the first but fails the second and third, coal passes the first and second, but is even worse for failing the third, nuclear passes the first and third but fails the second. 

However, as TeachScience points out, the probability of a specific new nuclear facility failing the second criterion is diminishing.  That’s why I’ve changed from anti to pro nuclear, at least as a stopgap, until we can begin to get significant energy from solar, wind, and any other clean source.

Occam

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Posted: 12 March 2011 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 12 March 2011 02:45 PM

I do trust small reactors that run navy ships and submarines, because they are smaller, and run by thoroughly trained and dedicated highly disciplined staff.

The navy has never had a nuclear accident with one of its ships.  This is because they have an almost unlimited budget that allows for layers and layers of safety features that would never be profitable for a civilian power plant at the same time in the past with the old technology.  I’ve heard the new reactor designs for power plants are safer.  I haven’t heard if they have also brought the price tag down.  Simple price used to be a big downside to building nuclear power plants.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Yes they have. It happened to one of the early ones in the North Atlantic. I can’t remember the name of the sub off the top of my head anymore, but everyone died.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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>>And Three Mile Island? <<

Compared to Chernobyl, I’ll take the technology used at Three Mile Island any day. Even with all the multiple failures and the partial meltdown to the core, the very worst of it was still contained and remains contained to this day.

The Russian counterpart on the other hand didn’t contain much of anything and actually blew it out all over the countryside.

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Posted: 12 March 2011 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I thought so too, Asanta.

Occam

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