The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear Hysteria

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 13, 2011

Okay, this has been one helluva weekend for science (specifically, physics) and skepticism because of the earthquake in Japan, subsequent tsunami, and the ongoing situation with the nuclear power plants in the region.  In this post, I am going to focus on the nuclear power plant question, because that is where the most amount of misinformation is being spread.  And, sadly, because much of this misinformation is being spread by a horribly irresponsible media, I will not be referring to any media articles in this post.

First of all, let me say that I’m pretty mad at the manner in which this whole situation is being framed: while there are likely many tens of thousands of dead & dying victims in the wreckage of the earthquake & tsunami, much of the media focus is on the supposed “danger” posed by the nuclear power plants.  Folks, this “danger” – while not completely fictitious – is being way, way, WAY over-hyped.  In fact, it is being so overly-hyped that many people turning to most of the media are getting the impression that this is about to occur in Japan…

[**Update: Speaking of misinformation, there is a bogus “Nuclear Fallout Image” going around the Internet.  More on that load of crap here.]

Let me continue by listing some reputable, scientifically accurate sources of information & updates on the situation with the Japanese nuclear plants and radiation in general.  I strongly suggest that you turn off the TV and go to these sources for your information on the question of all things nuclear power & radiation oriented:

The World Nuclear News website (an outlet put together by nuclear engineering professionals and science journalists to get accurate information out to the public)

Nuclear energy 101: Inside the “black box” of power plants (one of the few mainstream media outlets that gets it right – kudos to you, Boing Boing! :) )

A Conversation with My Dad, a Nuclear Engineer, about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Japan (from Skepchick Evelyn Mervine, who did an excellent job of cutting right to the chase regarding the scientific & technical issues involved)

Calculate Your Radiation Dose (from the United States’ EPA, which takes into account the natural & artificial sources of radiation around you all the time)

Now, having listed some reputable sources on the topic, let me take some time to address some of the more misinformed & outlandish claims being tossed all over the Internet and media landscape regarding what’s happening…

1) This could be another Chernobyl disaster!

No, that’s just plain wrong.  First of all, it is important to note that the Chernobyl and Fukushima power plants are of a fundamentally different design; in fact, because of this design difference, I’m willing to go so far as to say that there is no way that the Fukushima plant could explode and disperse radioactive material in a large plume such as what happened with the Chernobyl incident.  The primary difference lies in the fact that the Chernobyl core was graphite cooled, and graphite is a material which could burn & subsequently explode when heated enough by the reactor core (which is what happened, in part, at Chernobyl); whereas the Fukushima plant is a boiling water reactor, wherein the water cannot explode in a manner similar to what happened at Chernobyl.

In addition, it should be noted that the Chernobyl disaster rated a level 7 event (the highest rating) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, and it is the only such rating in history.  By comparison, the Fukushima incident is ranking a comparatively modest 3 or 4 on the INES.

[**Update (3-16-11): I have seen some references around the Internet, and on the comments to this entry, that the INES rating for Fukushima has been upgraded to a 6 (or even to a 7).  A 6 or 7 on the INES? That seems really high in light of the most recent events, the only source I can find for that is the Wikipedia page on the Fukushima plant, which references this German article.

And when I went to that article, the only thing it said in reference to the INES is this…

ATOMIC ACCIDENT (INES SCALE): An international scale, in order to evaluate the weight of nuclear accidents. It is enough from zero (event without or with small meaning in terms of safety) to seven (catastrophic accident). Starting from stage two one speaks of incident, starting from stage four of accident. The explosion of the nuclear reactor in Tschernobyl before scarcely 25 years was so far the only event of the stage seven. The partial core melt-through in the reactor Three Mile Island in the USA 1979 was arranged on stage five. With the misfortune in Japan stage six is to be expected at least after today’s conditions, if there is and in its entirety disaster control measures is introduced a substantial release of radioactive material. Of Japan atomic energy authority in the nuclear power plant Fukushima classifies the incident so far however less badly than the incidents in the US nuclear power station Three Mile Island 1979 and in Tschernobyl 1986. The classification of an event takes over the operator of the power station, it however by the national atomic supervision and the international atomic energy authority in Vienna is examined and possibly corrected. (emphasis mine)

And that page doesn’t reference anyone for where they got those estimates.  So this is yet another example of sloppy reporting, because it basically says “if the absolute worst case scenario happens, it will be a 6 on the INES, but right how it ranks as a 4 according to the nuclear experts on site.”]

2) The news keeps on talking about the danger of a meltdown!

True, but at the same time the news media are not telling people what exactly is and isn’t a meltdown.  Unlike what some people fear, a meltdown is not – I repeat, NOT - something that would lead to a nuclear explosion!  What a meltdown basically means is that the reactor core gets so hot that it… melts.  While this makes a real mess of things – and is really expensive and time-consuming to clean up – it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is going to be a huge release of radioactive material into the environment.  As long as the primary containment vessel at Fukushima holds, and all evidence indicates that this is indeed the case, even with a meltdown the core material will be kept separate from the outside environment.

So, in this particular case, a core meltdown would most likely lead to more of an economic disaster than an environmental one, due to the massive expense of cleaning it up.

3) Why didn’t they prepare for an earthquake?

They did.  In fact, all Japanese nuclear power plants are specifically designed to withstand earthquakes, because – surprise – Japan rests in a highly earthquake prone region.  In fact, taking into account the raw power of the earthquake (which apparently shifted the coastline of Japan by 8 feet and the Earth’s axis by 4 inches), I am rather surprised that the nuclear plants are holding up as well as they did.

Some people think the current trouble at Fukushima is a direct result of the earthquake, but it isn’t.  First of all, as soon as the earthquake hit, the nuclear reactors went into automatic shut down mode.  Now, please understand that shutting down a nuclear core is not as simple as turning off a light switch; even after the shut down procedure is initiated, it takes many days for the core of the reactor to cool because of the presence of so much residual heat (see the Boing Boing article above for an excellent analysis of this point).  This is why the cooling system is so important, and in the case of Fukushima this is where the real problem came along once the tsunami hit.  From what I understand, the water cooled system there was run by a set of diesel engines which failed after the tsunami flooded them.  Once that happened, there was no way to effectively cool the core.  Of course, there are now efforts underway to cool the core using seawater, and as long as the core temperature can be decreased – by whatever method – then in a few days the reactor core will be completely shut off.

Now, some people have made an argument that the danger of the diesel engines being flooded by a tsunami is an obvious design flaw, and I might agree.  Regardless of whether or not there are design flaws, you can be rest assured that nuclear scientists & engineers will definitely learn from this incident and design better power plants.

4) The radiation inside the Fukushima plant control room is 1000 times greater than normal!

While I do not dispute this claim, I take issue with the fact that the media are not providing any context for the claim.  What is a dangerous level of radiation?  Why aren’t the media mentioning to people the question of radiation exposure, which incorporates both radiation intensity levels as well as exposure time?  Why aren’t the media taking any time to mention to people that there are natural & artificial sources of radiation around all of us all the time?  If you want to get a better idea of what this claim does and doesn’t mean, then I suggest you visit the link I referenced above about calculating your own personal radiation dosage (some of the sources will surprise you) in addition to reading up a bit on related health effects.

Once you take some time to actually learn about nuclear radiation, its sources, how much you’re exposed to on a regular basis, and so on, much of the fear regarding the issue goes away.  Knowledge is power, folks.

5) Part of the nuclear plant blew up!  How much radiation was released?

From what I understand now, the portion of the Fukushima plant that exploded did so because some hydrogen generated by reactions within the core was vented into the surrounding area and subsequently mixed with oxygen in the air, making it highly explosive.  And yes, it did explode, causing much of the building around the primary containment vessel & reactor core to be destroyed.  While this is problematic, because much of the pumping & cooling mechanisms are now gone, it isn’t as much of a disaster as some are claiming since the primary containment vessel is still intact.

**ETA: Here is an excellent diagram which outlines the situation…

In addition, if you’d like to know more basic information on how boiling water reactors work, I suggest taking a look at this material. [end edit]

As for the issue of radiation released, there was some radiation released in this event, but from the measurements I’ve read about it wasn’t that dangerous.  The radioactive materials in this release have effectively been 1) dispersed by the wind, and 2) seem to have been composed mostly of short half-life materials which quickly decay away into a harmless state.  Thus, any radiation hazard posed by this explosion would be both confined to a small area and relatively short-lived.

[**Update (3-16-11): It seems that within the last 24 hours there was a temporary increase in radiation coming from the Fukushima site, perhaps due to a fire at unit 4 - it is documented here. It should be noted that while those radiation readings did spike to about 400 milliseiverts/hour, they settled back down to about 0.6 milliseiverts/hour.  The last time I checked (via World Nuclear News) it was still around 0.6 milliseiverts/hour = 60 mrem/hour, which is equivalent to about 2-3 chest x-rays per hour, which is a pretty hefty dose of radiation.

However, those are the readings on site at the Fukushima nuclear plant, not 30+ km away where civilians are located. And you must remember that the people on site are likely wearing protective gear, and they probably are not remaining on site for an extended period of time (I would guess they are rotating teams out to be safe & to keep dealing with the situation). It’s serious, which is why they’re dealing with it, but the sky is not falling.

Here’s an analogy: think of firefighters battling a nasty blaze. The firefighters in the hottest part of the fire have to wear protective clothing, and they don’t stay there for too long because it is too hot. Thus, they rotate out teams on a regular basis for both safety and to keep battling the blaze. Now, while it probably really sucks to be the firefighter doing this job, the rest of us can pretty much safely watch what is going on via TV without fear of suddenly bursting into flames :) ]

[**Update (3-17-11): If you want to get more regular, reliable updates, I suggest using the World Nuclear News website – here’s more from that site in a recent update…

… peaking at 400 millisieverts per hour (40,000 mrem/hour) on the inland side of unit 3, and 100 millisieverts per hour (10,000 mrem/hour) on the inland side of unit 4. At the highest exposure rate, a nuclear worker or soldier could remain in the area for less than 40 minutes before leaving the site, unable to return. …

… Despite high levels of radiation close to the units, levels detected at the edge of the power plant site have been steadily decreasing.

17 March, 4.00pm  — 0.64 millisieverts per hour (64 mrem/hour)

17 March, 9.00am — 1.47 millisieverts per hour (147 mrem/hour)

16 March, 7.00pm — 1.93 millisieverts per hour (193 mrem/hour)

16 March, 12.30pm — 3.39 millisieverts per hour (339 mrem/hour)

It should also be noted that if the radiation levels are that low at the edge of the power plant site, then they are most likely well within acceptable levels by the time you get to the edge of the evacuation zone, 30+ km away.  And there’s certainly no danger to people far beyond that point, including here in the United States.

In addition, a good reference on the levels of radiation exposure (and related health effects) can be found here – http://www.epa.gov/radiation/understand/health_effects.html#anyamount – note that those values are in rems, whereas most of the exposure I’ve been referencing in these reports is in milli-rems (mrems).  Bottom line: the people who are going to be affected the most are the workers right there on site, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are getting a potentially lethal dose; as for everyone else, I think the danger is practically non-existent.]

6) If there’s no danger, why are they evacuating so many people?

In one word: precaution.  It isn’t that there is no danger involved with a scenario such as that at Fukushima, but the level of danger involved; it is a sensible precaution to simply move people away from the nuclear plants.  This doesn’t then automatically translate into the “worst case scenario”, whatever that is.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to know that another reason people are being evacuated from the area has to do with the danger of earthquake aftershocks and subsequent tsunami.

7) This disaster proves that nuclear power is dangerous!!!

Wrong.  What this disaster proves is that nuclear power plants are built to be very rigorous & tough.  When most other buildings in the region have been leveled by the earthquake and tsunami, these plants are holding up remarkably well. [**ETA: I really like how this article – Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now! – puts it…

Japan’s nuclear powerplants have performed magnificently in the face of a disaster hugely greater than they were designed to withstand, remaining entirely safe throughout and sustaining only minor damage. The unfolding Fukushima story has enormously strengthened the case for advanced nations – including Japan – to build more nuclear powerplants, in the knowledge that no imaginable disaster can result in serious problems.

Let’s recap on what’s happened so far. The earthquake which hit on Friday was terrifically powerful, shaking the entire planet on its axis and jolting the whole of Japan several feet sideways. At 8.9 on the Richter scale, it was some five times stronger than the older Fukushima plants had been designed to cope with. …

[end edit] In addition, as has been outlined above, once you get past all of the media hype & scaremongering out there, the situation is not nearly as serious as many people think.  It is serious, but not that serious, folks.

Last, but not least, if you really want to put paid to the “nuclear power is dangerous” argument, let’s take a look at the number of fatalities associated with nuclear power over the decades as compared to other power industries…

Deaths per TWh for all energy sources

Coal – world average               161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal – China                       278
Coal – USA                         15
Oil                                36  (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas                         4  (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass                    12
Peat                               12
Solar (rooftop)                     0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind                                0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro                               0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)    1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear                             0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

In closing, let me reference a little humor… some people like to say “No nukes!”  Personally, I like to say “Know nukes!” because once you start to understand the science and engineering involved, the topic becomes demystified and you can examine scenarios like Fukushima in a more calm & rational manner.

As for much of the news media & other scare mongers who are overly-hyping this thing, you get an extra special facepalm award…

About these ads

44 Responses to “Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear Hysteria”

  1. Spin It said

    You can say that again Matt! Even when they have experts in their field speaking about this thing, the media tries to push for the worst. I almost (sadly) think they would rather get a good story than this thing continue to turn out for the better in Japan.

    As you stated, these plants are extremely robust and the Fukishima plant verifies this. Considering this plant was built back in 1970 and is 40 years old (originally only supposed to have a lifecycle of 25 years and only to withstand an earthquake 5 time less than what hit it)! — It is doing remarkably well and is a testament to modern engineering marvels. It also shows that the modern plants we have today wouldn’t have (or at least barely) been phased by the disaster considering they have 3 – 4 underground backup generators as opposed to just one above ground.

    Hopefully they can get the rest undercontrol within the next 48 hours or so and get everything shut down fully.

  2. Sean said

    Is there a way to tattoo this article in Arial Bold font onto the face of every news anchorperson in the world?

    • mattusmaximus said

      Well, you can spread it and other responsible articles around as much as you wish. Cut n’ paste is a wonderful thing :)

  3. Tricynical said

    “In addition, it should be noted that the Chernobyl disaster rated a level 7 event (the highest rating) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, and it is the only such rating in history. By comparison, the Fukushima incident is ranking a comparatively modest 3 or 4 on the INES.”

    Guess what? The INES just classified the Fukushima incident as a level 6 and says it may very well become a 7. Does this cause you to re-think your concern about the severity of the situation?

    • mattusmaximus said

      A 6 on the INES? Do you have a source for that estimate?

      The only source I can find for that is the Wikipedia page on the Fukushima plant, which references this German article.

      And when I went to that article, the only thing it said in reference to the INES is this…

      ATOMIC ACCIDENT (INES SCALE): An international scale, in order to evaluate the weight of nuclear accidents. It is enough from zero (event without or with small meaning in terms of safety) to seven (catastrophic accident). Starting from stage two one speaks of incident, starting from stage four of accident. The explosion of the nuclear reactor in Tschernobyl before scarcely 25 years was so far the only event of the stage seven. The partial core melt-through in the reactor Three Mile Island in the USA 1979 was arranged on stage five. With the misfortune in Japan stage six is to be expected at least after today’s conditions, if there is and in its entirety disaster control measures is introduced a substantial release of radioactive material. Of Japan atomic energy authority in the nuclear power plant Fukushima classifies the incident so far however less badly than the incidents in the US nuclear power station Three Mile Island 1979 and in Tschernobyl 1986. The classification of an event takes over the operator of the power station, it however by the national atomic supervision and the international atomic energy authority in Vienna is examined and possibly corrected.

      And that page doesn’t reference anyone for where they got those estimates. So this is yet another example of sloppy reporting, because it basically says “if the absolute worst case scenario happens, it will be a 6 on the INES, but right how it ranks as a 4 according to the nuclear experts on site.”

  4. Leslie said

    EXCELLENT treatise on the nuclear situation in Japan! I have cut and pasted it and sent it to the media. I want to know your continued reaction in the face of worsening reports. Please continue to write on the subject.

  5. Kevin Ulysses said

    When you breath in coal smog your DNA DOES NOT MUTATE RUINING YOUR GENES FOR GENERATIONS.

    • Actually, uranium and other radioactive trace elements exist in the ground along with heavy metals. We dig up the coal and burn it. You get three times the radiation living near a coal plant compared to a nuclear reactor. Also, you get quite a bit of alpha from smoking cigarettes. Most people don’t know that.

      Its funny how people talk about the detection of radiation in the US from Japan (1 million times less than normal background) and then continue to smoke their 1 to 2 packs of cigs a day.

  6. Ben said

    The problem is that we have pursued our nuclear technology based on recommendations of the military in its desire for weapons grade byproducts. Not based on the science. These older light water reactors are dinosaurs.

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2006/04/22/a-brief-history-of-the-liquid-fluoride-reactor/

  7. Tricynical said

    Here’s one source for you: http://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/isis-statement-on-events-at-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-site-in-japan/

  8. Uh.

  9. bobdroege said

    Kevin, that doesn’t happen with nuclear radiation either.

    9 months after Nagasakit and Hiroshima, the birth defects went back down to normal levels.

    Your testes are more resistant to radation than your bone marrow.

  10. […] Another blog post with corrections to some common misconceptions about the disaster in Japan. […]

  11. sid said

    The nuclear reactor situation does not seem to be improving. Hope it will soon. They are now teaching kids in Japan about the situation through this cartoon

    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/cartoon-explaining-the-fukushima-nuclear-reactor-problem-to-kids/

  12. […] Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear Hysteria […]

  13. […] Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear Hysteria […]

  14. […] Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear Hysteria […]

  15. […] more, none of that is really true, the disaster isn’t really all that bad, the radiation levels are relatively low and Japan is […]

  16. […] more, none of that is really true, the disaster isn’t really all that bad, the radiation levels are relatively low and Japan is […]

    • tricynical said

      Headline: Japan: 27,437 people died or reported missing after national calamity

      Just more overreaction and hysteria? Another example of sloppy reporting? What will it take to convince you that this disaster really IS that bad? How many deaths will it take? How many dollars? How many deformed babies? How long are you going to continue to defend an industry that is indefensible?

      http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=16134577&PageNum=0

      • mattusmaximus said

        Yes, and how many of that 27,000+ died as a result of the earthquake? The tsunami? Your own link states clearly:

        Fatal casualties and the number of missing persons as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan have reached 27,437. The Chief Police Agency of Japan reported those specified figures on Friday.

        [emphasis mine]

        Hmmm… and how many died from radiation leaked from the Fukushima nuclear power plant? Perhaps… 2… maybe (from the limited reporting I’ve seen on this point). Let’s assume that is accurate.

        So let’s see… 2/27,437 = 0.0000729 = 0.00729% of the casualties in this disaster can even be partly tied to the problems with the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

        Take your ignorance of math and your petty “moral outrage” somewhere else, moron. Or keep posting comments here displaying your stupidity for all to see – either is fine with me.

      • maren said

        You are not figuring in all the people who got radiation who aren’t dying tomorrow, but will in decades. Just like quality of life, there is certainly also a quality of death. I’d rather die instantly in a tsunami than get radiated and die slowly and painfully. These people (and there will be alot) will have it much worse than the 27,000. I agree with Tricynical. You can’t defend an industry that is indefensible because of the huge, irrepairable inherent danger of it all.

      • mattusmaximus said

        So the 27,000 people who were killed by the earthquake & tsunami have it “easier” than some people exposed to a bit of radiation which, while more than their usual environmental exposure (from both natural & artificial sources), is still within acceptable limits and will – in all likelihood – not be a detriment to their health?

        Dude, that’s just plain sick.

        Wow, for those people reading these comments, this kind of idiocy is a perfect example of ideological zealotry trumping not only reason but basic human decency as well.

      • tricynical said

        The estimates for deaths from Chernobyl range from 93,000 to 200,000. They did not all happen immediately; deaths directly attributable to the disaster were recorded from 1986 through 2006. Like Chernobyl, the Japanese will be watching their people sicken and die for many years to come. Produce and livestock will likely have restrictions for decades (The UK still has restrictions on 369 farms and 200,000 sheep). Chromosomal damage will produce birth defects, and a spike in Down Syndrome and Neural Tube defects can be expected. According to the Greenpeace report, “intestinal problems, heart and circulation problems, respiratory problems, endocrine problems, and particularly effects on the immune system,” will also cause fatalities.
        Huge areas will have to be evacuated, local fishing will likely be curtailed for many years, and industry, commerce and transportation will take decades to rebuild.
        I think it’s admirable that your calculator can do division. But you certainly aren’t up on your nuclear disasters. Educate yourself by reading the Torch Report, the Greenpeace report, the IPPNW report or the UNSCEAR report before you make statements about how nuclear disasters “aren’t that bad”. As a society, we have opted for a irresponsible short term solution to our energy problem that has a very real potential to sicken the entire globe for centuries to come.

      • mattusmaximus said

        tricynical said:

        The estimates for deaths from Chernobyl range from 93,000 to 200,000.

        How about providing a source for your rather outlandish claim?

        Btw, I call it outlandish because it seems to be quite exaggerated compared to more scientifically valid analyses. Not to mention, to claim that Chernobyl ultimately killed just about as many, or more, people than were killed in the direct atomic bombing of, say, Hiroshima seems to be a pretty stupid claim.

        Incidentally, did you miss the entire section of my article which stated quite clearly why the Fukushima situation wasn’t anywhere close to the Chernobyl disaster? Or did you intentionally ignore it in an attempt to spread rampant fear-mongering?

      • tricynical said

        Actually, the Fukushima disaster is very much like the Chernobyl situation in that the net damage will most probably equal or exceed the Chernobyl totals. One important contributing factor is that the Fukushima plant is located in a much more populated area. Just today, the Japanese government upgraded their situation to a level 7, base on the continuing severity of the leaks and the uncertainty of any near-term control. Tons of highly radioactive water continue to flow into the Pacific ocean unabated.
        As far as sources for the “outlandish claim” are concerned, I gave you several which you obviously didn’t research, or you would have seen that there are lots of numbers out there, some as high as 985,000, the point is that the death toll is in the tens or (more likely) hundreds of thousands. FYI, it’s estimated that the final death toll for Hiroshima was 200,000.

        http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/chernobyl-deaths-180406/

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20908

        http://thecomingcrisis.blogspot.com/2011/03/chernobyl-death-toll-grossly.html

        http://www.chernobylreport.org/?p=summary

      • Tim said

        Tricynical: Care to actually post something from a group that ISN’T both horribly biased and horribly misinformed?

        Greenpeace always skew the facts to get their point across. Why go with the real numbers when lies are more compelling?

        A UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests it could reach 4,000. A 2006 report predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout. A Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more.

        Here’s a more reliable link about the Chernobyl disaster:

        http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html

  17. maren said

    Funny how the author doesn’t mention where to store all the spent fuel rods…..It’s simply not worth it. The planet is better off on curbing the human population to sustainable levels so we wouldn’t need all these nuclear plants…

    • mattusmaximus said

      I have to wonder if the person who wrote this stupid comment would be willing to volunteer to be among the “curbed” population.

    • tricynical said

      Actually, I see that my post is “awaiting moderation”. What does that mean?

  18. maren said

    obviously I was talking about BIRTH CONTROL. People in 3rd world countries who want it can’t even get it due to access problems, for example. A lower earth population would solve almost all our problems.

    • Tim said

      Firstly, third world countries use very little power compared to developed countries like America or Japan. Secondly, lowering power use in third world countries does nothing to help power shortages in Japan.

      Due to frequency differences, the North of Japan has trouble receiving power from the South of Japan, let alone from Africa!

  19. maren said

    mattusmaximus why don’t you just admit you’re pro-nukes no matter what the consequences?

  20. tricynical said

    So Mattusmaximus, I posted the links you asked for. Why did you suppress my post? Embarrassed?

    • Tim said

      He didn’t suppress your post, WordPress held back your post because it contained so many links and looked like spam. Matt had to manually approve it, which he has done.

      You are not only paranoid about Nuclear energy it seems. There’s probably some medication you can take for that you know?

      • Tricynical said

        post contained links because Matt asked for links. I’ll just post one here now, from IAEA, although perhaps maybe Matt thinks that’s another radical anti-nuke group??? http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html
        I continue to be amazed at those who ignore the rather large implications of this disaster. Countries are re-thinking their nuclear programs (except, of course, Iran and South Korea), Safety measures are being re-thought across the United States, and the idea of alternate sources without such potential for catastrophe (even if less efficient) are getting much more scrutiny. Maybe you guys don’t get it, but it looks like the rest of the world does.

      • Korru said

        Things I would like to point out:

        First, we shouldn’t blame all this to nuclear power for this incident. The location for this plant was a bad one, It was built close to an active fault line and a coastline vulnerable to tsunamis.

        Second, nuclear power is far more efficient than these alternative sources. Air and Solar? Ha. You’ll need large amounts of land to generate as much power plus it’s expensive to build. Hydroelectric and Geothermal are efficient but are very limited due to location. Gas and Oil? It’s getting expensive and we should save them for cars. Coal is cheap but it pollutes a lot. Hydrogen costs a lot and takes more energy to produce than to recover. Fusion is a likely candidate but it’s still in development but hell that’s “reversed nuclear power” we’re talking here.

        Third, good luck banning nuclear power, we will be better off with it as the demand for energy rises. Doing so would resort more to these more expensive and polluting alternatives like coal and fossil fuels. Yeah there is solar and wind but just as I said, inefficient and expensive.

        Fourth, Nuclear power has the least body count than other energy alternatives.

        Coal: 161 deaths/TWh
        Oil: 36 deaths/TWh
        Biofuel 12 deaths/TWh
        Natural Gas: 4 deaths/TWh
        Wind: 0.15 deaths/TWh
        Hydro: 0.10 deaths/TWh
        Nuclear: 0.04 deaths/TWh

        So who is the winner here?

        People are overreacting with this. Accidents happen and this is because of human error and not purely nuclear power. If something has to be banned, it would be ourselves but we can’t do that. I’m not saying we should stay with nuclear power all the way, I say that we should stop being ignorant and look for more safer and efficient solutions like fusion power I mentioned earlier. Hopefully people can learn from this and Chernobyl and BUILD and MAINTAIN a much safer nuclear power plant in the future.

      • maren said

        Korru,
        Where would you put all the spent fuel rods? No place is safe for them, and we’d be transfering our problems to future generations. When you say “Hopefully people can learn from this…” well what if they don’t? You cannot say that power plants will never have another accident. Statistically, they will at some point. Ukraine still has to give up like 15% of their GNP every year just maintaining Cherynobl, which is radiating exactly the same as it did when the accident happened. I’d rather pay more for alternative, safe energy than live with the possibility of a unbelievably expensive cleanup if an accident occurs. Not to mention all the slow deaths all the people had to endure after exposure. And don’t foget about those spent fuel rods, which no pro-nuke people ever seem to mention. It’s just not worth it! NO NUKES!!!

      • Tim said

        @Tricynical:

        Firstly, that link doesn’t work. Secondly, what are the “rather large implications” of this disaster? Obviously it is terrible for those who have had to work in and around the nuclear plant, and also for those within the 30km zone in Fukushima prefecture. Apart from that the effects of the earthquake and tsunami were far more devastating and we should not forget that.

        The only country that I know of that is seriously considering stopping its nuclear programme is Germany, but good luck to them trying to replace nuclear (25% of their power) within the next 15 years. Its just a knee-jerk reaction from people far too influenced by media hysteria. Unless I’m mistaken, Germany isn’t at much risk from Tsunamis!

        The carbon cooled Chernobyl was terribly designed. Fukushima is 70s technology but still survived an earthquake and was only taken out by the tsunami. Modern nuclear power plants don’t need external power to cool their reactors so even a Fukishima isn’t possible, let alone a Chernobyl.

        @Maren

        Assuming their is nuclear waste produced, there are two options:
        a). Recycle the waste into new fuel (the only reason the US doesn’t do this is it is worried about other countries getting hold of radioactive material).
        b). Store the fuel in deep underground storage facilities.

        Bear in mind that in many types of nuclear power plants, such as those using molten salt or thorium reactors there is virtually no long-term nuclear waste produced.

        Also remember that other types of power plants, such as coal and gas, are hugely polluting during their whole cycle. Seeing as replacing nuclear with renewable energy isn’t an option right now I know which I’d rather have.

        PS. Can we stop referring to nuclear power plants as “nukes”? Nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants are very different and it invalidates your argument when you make such basic mistakes (yes, I realise the title of this article uses the term).

  21. […] High-Energy Physics Record… Earth SurvivesALERT: Demand That CBS Not Air Outdoor Anti-Vaccine Ad!Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear HysteriaWilliam Shatner Sets Phasers for "Debunk" and PWNs John EdwardPsychic Gary Spivey Mega-Fail on Jimmy […]

  22. maren said

    Tim, storing the fuel deep underground is not a solution. There is no guarantee that it will never leak; in fact, that is one of the reasons Germany is trying to get away from power plants. What happens when a deep flood comes or an earthquake and the stuff gets uprooted? You cannot say that that will never happen. Then we have a huge problem. Burying the waste is like sweeping dirt under a rug. What I do not understand about your post is how would recycling the fuel enable other countries to get ahold of it easier?

  23. A lot of misinformation, Mattusmaximus claims media hype. The hype is in ignorance of the dangers of radioactive nuclear power. 1) In the United States there have been over 40,000 known dead sick and dying from the nuclear fuels process, costing U.S. taxpayers over 7 billion dollars, since 2001. (DOL Stats, there have been more casualties but National Security prevented the sick and dying from telling anyone about their dilemma until after 2001 when the “Energy Workers Health Act” became law.) Reference: http://radioactivepoison.blogspot.com/ 2) No where have I seen any reference to a nuclear bomb like explosion, however the Fukushima disaster has resulted in 2 reactor containment vessels being breached, this occurred after the first two explosions. The radiation contained within a nuclear reactor is much more intense than the small nuclear weapon detonation picture that was shown above. 3) Nuclear power is not safe, it is not reliable, it is not clean nor green and it sure as the heck is not cheap. Quote: “If you were a utility CEO …You would never do nuclear. The economics are overwhelming.”– Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric.
    4) The corporate executives managing nuclear facilities are extremely deceitful concerning the actual risks of nuclear power, deceit is not a character trait acceptable of managers of nuclear programs. 5) The NRC has weakened safety standards for the nuclear industry, compromising public safety. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110620/ap_on_re_us/us_aging_nukes_part1

  24. […] Know Nukes The Japanese Earthquake Anti Nuclear Hysteria The source […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers

%d bloggers like this: