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Third Blast At Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant 691

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-luck-over-there-guys dept.
iamrmani was one of several people reporting updates on the Fukushima Nuclear plant that has been struggling following last Friday's disaster. A third explosion (Japanese) has been reported, along with other earlier information. MSNBC has a story about similiar reactors in the US. We also ran into a story which predicts that there won't be significant radiation. But already Japan is facing rolling blackouts, electricity rationing, evacuating the area around the plant, and thousands dead already.
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Third Blast At Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant

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  • Re:Journalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday March 14, 2011 @08:58AM (#35478146)

    regular natural disaster deaths aren't as sexy as nuclear ones.

    last I heard they were pumping seawater+boron into the reactors, anyone know how's that working out?

  • Re:Journalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredjh (1602699) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:03AM (#35478190)

    It's disgusting; CNN.com's current main page headline is "Japan's reactor problems mount; death toll rises."

    WTF?

  • Unfortunate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:06AM (#35478208)

    Much like Three Mile Island (which also didn't release any significant radiation), this will set nuclear energy back years. And with the carbon problem and increasing dependence on fossil fuels, we need it now more than every. Solar and wind aren't ready, and so much progress has been made in nuclear plant safety.

  • Re:Third blast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsj5j (1159013) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:10AM (#35478252)

    This is correct.

    From my limited understanding of Japanese, the article refers to reactor #3, not explosion #3.
    I know Slashdot has limited editors, but shouldn't you at least click and check the links before posting such an important piece of news?

    Many local news outlets will pick up and spread this piece of disinformation.

  • Re:Journalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RobertLTux (260313) <robert AT laurencemartin DOT org> on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:16AM (#35478322)

    small correction

    the CORES are slag but they will be doing a more or less normal refueling after the rest of the plant has been repaired/upgraded.

  • Re:Third blast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishexe (168879) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:19AM (#35478354) Homepage

    Many local news outlets will pick up and spread this piece of disinformation.

    You think local news outlets read Slashdot? Really??

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:24AM (#35478386) Homepage
    I think the opposite. If Japan manages to get through this with only minor radiation problems (as so far) I think it will be a positive for nuclear energy. I mean, WTF more could you possibly do? A Mag 10 quake right under the reactor core? One thing that will come out of this is that both Japan and the US currently require backup power for the cooling system of only about 12 hours while the Eurolanders require 24-48 hours. There will definitely be a push to try to up this to 72 hours though of course practicalities may get in the way.
  • Re:Journalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredjh (1602699) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:35AM (#35478474)

    Of course, it could be that, but it's far more likely he's trying to link the two (otherwise it's a completely inappropriate use of the semicolon). Bias in the news is not about lying, it's about creating emotional responses one way or another and getting people to link things together in a way that suits your agenda... in this case, an anti-nuclear one.

    CNN.com are not the only ones, and there is even a link to an article insinuating American plants aren't safe (even though they come out and say it). This is persuasive writing... not necessarily factually incorrect, but not journalism, either.

  • Re:Read this first (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rotide (1015173) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:40AM (#35478514)
    Not saying the guy isn't smart, but read the disclaimer at the top. He works for MIT, sure, but he's no nuclear physicist. In fact, it's basically stated that his "nuclear credentials" are based on his _father's_ expertise, NOT his. Essentially "my dad was a nuclear physicist so I'll write like I'm an expert too!". Again, he's smart and accomplished, but I'd submit he's sorely under qualified to make _any_ statements about the situation at hand.
  • by Joehonkie (665142) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:44AM (#35478540) Homepage
    Don't forget that they don't ever discuss the levels of radiation released, because then they might have to admit they are minimal.
  • Enough already? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hartree (191324) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:54AM (#35478638)

    So, let's see. So far these plants have endured an earthquake 10 times what they were designed for (8.9 Richter earthquake. Design was for 7.9. Modulo distance/ground transmission from epicenter.), a 23 foot tsunami that took out backup generators and the switchyard taking out all but battery power, failures of the RCIC backup cooling system, and 2 massive hydrogen explosions that took out the buildings around the containments.

    And thus far no significant release of radioactivity.

    And we've got people saying the plants are fragile and unsafe?

    What do you want? The North Koreans hitting it with bunker busters? A meteor strike?

    Godzilla and the smog monster duking it out on the grounds?

  • Re:Read this first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rotide (1015173) on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:01AM (#35478722)

    To that I will not disagree, but there are Pro-Nuke shills and Anti's screaming on both sides, this one looks more aligned with the Pro side. The article basically states that nothing bad will happen and no radiation will leak. The gas that was vented has a half-life measured in mere seconds, blah blah blah. Meanwhile, US naval ships 100 miles off the coast are being moved due to detected radiation and people are being admitted to hospitals for exposure.

    This article states "nothing to see here, move along" when it's obvious there _is_ something going on.

    In short, this is just another fluff article written by a non-expert and people are gobbling it up like it's 100% fact. I mean look how it's being waved like a flag of truth and unbiased information when clearly it's already off the mark.

    Note: I'm all for nuclear power and nuclear reactors. This situation is basically unprecedented and it's not surprising they are having serious problems. But I'd still take a nuclear reactor in my back yard over any of the fossil fuel plants _any_ day, anywhere.

  • Tree hugging hippies?

    No.

    Hysterical, science illiterate journalism?

    No.

    The greatest enemy of nuclear power is 1960s era nuclear plant technology. It is an active safety model, rather than a passive safety model:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Safety [wikipedia.org]

    The future of nuclear power, if there is any, is something like a pebble bed reactor, which is passively safe: all of the support equipment, all of the nuclear plant personnel: it can all fail and they can all leave, and nothing bad will happen:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor [wikipedia.org]

    The DESIGN PHILOSOPHY of 1960s era nuclear power is what is killing nuclear power as a viable alternative in this world. Yes, people react in fear and panic and hysteria. So? Did you honestly expect any other reaction possible amongst the general populace, ever? Panic and hysteria is a CONSTANT of humanity. Their impression of nuclear power has been, uh, contaminated, and that's just simple human psychology, there's no getting around that.

    So I blame one group here: 1960s, 1950s era nuclear engineers. It is their fault why nuclear power is becoming politically unacceptable. They designed plants that needed to be actively safe. THAT is the real reason we are having problems in Japan now, why we had problems at 3 mile island, why we had problems at Chernobyl: someone has to be there, certain equipment has to work, or there will be trouble. BAD DESIGN. It's just a matter of time before operator error or a geological/ meteorological event causes the active safety system to fail. Nuclear engineers of the '50s and '60s honestly should have foreseen that. Nuclear plants, from the beginning, should have been designed that should something bad happen, the system just naturally gravitates to a harmless state. But in the 1960s, they put in plants that naturally gravitate to a harmful state, and require constant effort to keep safe. Really, really bad design.

    Nuclear engineers from a half century ago genuinely failed us. They genuinely fucked up, and we are paying for their shoddy design. And so is the future of nuclear power. Because we have passively safe nuclear designs like pebble bed reactors now. But we may never see them in full use, ever, because public opinion has been poisoned, maybe irreparably. You can't blame the common man for that. He cannot shrug and forget being irradiated. But nuclear engineers, they should have known, they should designed better systems. It is their fault.
     

  • Re:Enough already? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:11AM (#35478828) Homepage

    So, let's see. So far these plants have endured an earthquake 10 times what they were designed for (8.9 Richter earthquake. Design was for 7.9. Modulo distance/ground transmission from epicenter.), a 23 foot tsunami that took out backup generators and the switchyard taking out all but battery power, failures of the RCIC backup cooling system, and 2 massive hydrogen explosions that took out the buildings around the containments.

    One thing you can take from that is, whatever scale of disaster you plan for, nature (or potentially mankind) can go one better. Build your nuclear plants to withstand a 7.9 and along comes an 8.9 accompanied by massive flooding. Build a bomb proof pair of skyscrapers, and lo, someone flies passenger airliners into them. I can't predict any better than you what the next surprise will be.

  • Re:Read this first (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:23AM (#35478970)
    The choice isn't between nuclear scientist vs random PhD, but between random PhD and sensationalist churnalism. The guy's writeup was a lot better than what I've read anywhere else over the past couple of days and his assertions seem to be supported by the small number of specialist sites that provide reasonable information.
  • Fallout (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:29AM (#35479082)

    The real fallout that Japan needs to worry about is that they have permanently lost a substantial part of their capacity to generate electricity and won't be able to replace it anytime soon. The US and other countries with these high power nuclear plants should learn a lesson. It is better to build several smaller plants instead of a few megaplants. That way, if one of them is out of commission, it is not a total loss to the power grid.

    The lack of power in Japan will be a significant issue as the country tries to react to the quake and tsunami and will hamper long term recovery efforts, too.

  • Re:Enough already? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:37AM (#35479204)

    Build for a 7.9 when the nation gets 8.5s approximately once a decade.

    That's a screw-up waiting to happen, and I'd be interested to see how the design event was decided upon.

  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:59AM (#35479448) Homepage

    Nuclear Insurance [wikipedia.org] would be a big one, no?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:14AM (#35479676)

    This is the last article I will ever read at this website. Absolutely ZERO editorial standards.

  • Re:Meltdown? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionaryNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday March 14, 2011 @11:46AM (#35480174) Journal

    Wait a second, so you are saying that according to the writeup, it is absolutely impossible for anyone to die... unless they were caught in one of several very large uncontrolled hydrogen gas explosions. Do you, ah, do you simply not see the inherent ridiculousness of that statement? "Look, as long as you manage to avoid the terrible dangers, you're perfectly safe," is really stretching the definition of 'safe.'

  • Re:Enough already? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danlip (737336) on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:26PM (#35480726)

    The largest earthquake ever recorded was 9.5 in 1960 in Chile. The Japan quake was only the 5th largest. Any nuke plant built after 1960 should have been designed to withstand at least a 9.5, especially in a place like Japan. Designing for 7.9 is accepting an inevitable disaster.

  • Re:what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catmistake (814204) on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:27PM (#35480746) Journal
    Yeah, a total overreaction, only 2 nuclear power plants are failing, of 6 reactors, only 2 are in partial meltdown; less than 200 people were irradiated, less than 200,000 were evacuated. Why is this even news? Sensational journalism makes me nauseous.
  • Re:what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:28PM (#35480752)

    I would like to understand clearly and concisely why it has not been possible after so many days to maintain levels of coolant.

    It's because contrary to what all the overconfident pro-nuke techies that infest this site seem to believe: In the real world, shit happens.

  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:04PM (#35481286)

    Much like Three Mile Island (which also didn't release any significant radiation), this will set nuclear energy back years. And with the carbon problem and increasing dependence on fossil fuels, we need it now more than every. Solar and wind aren't ready, and so much progress has been made in nuclear plant safety.

    Your post is almost entirely false. Three Mile Island killed people. [counterpunch.org] The radiation released wasn't catastrophic, but it was most certainly significant. What happened at Three Mile Island shouldn't be dismissed like it was nothing at all, and this is a major reason (dismissive attitudes) why many nuclear proponents should be dismissed. You, sir, are dismissed.

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