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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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  • Journalism (Score:5, Informative)

    by bogeskov (63797) on Monday March 14, 2011 @08:56AM (#35478128)

    Poorly constructed sentence that last one, insinuating the deaths are related to the nuclear plant.

    • 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, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:00AM (#35478164)
        Destroying the reactors beyond repair. Turning to seawater cooling means they have given up all hope of salvaging the reactors in a working state, and will settle for just non-exploding.
        • Re:Journalism (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RobertLTux (260313) <robert@@@laurencemartin...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:Journalism (Score:5, Informative)

            by CnlPepper (140772) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:45AM (#35478556)

            Sorry to dampen you optimism, but these reactors are going to be totally useless after this. The reactor vessel will almost certainly be beyond repair and it is central to the entire plant. Economically it would be easier to just build a newer design of plant.

            • Re:Journalism (Score:5, Interesting)

              by vlm (69642) on Monday March 14, 2011 @10:24AM (#35478986)

              Sorry to dampen you optimism, but these reactors are going to be totally useless after this. The reactor vessel will almost certainly be beyond repair and it is central to the entire plant. Economically it would be easier to just build a newer design of plant.

              They were planning to build two new reactors onsite, # 7 and #8. They'll probably end up with new ABWRs to replace the old clunkers. Note that a single ABWR outputs as much power as three BWR-3s or two BWR-4s so yanking three 40 year old dinosaurs does not necessarily mean they need to build three new ABWRs to take their place... My guess is they'll get one.

              I'm hardly on their board of directors but most likely instead of adding 2 new ABWRs they'll probably simultaneously build the currently planned two, decon the old units 1 / 2 / 3 and build a nice new ABWR on top of the old site of 1 / 2 / 3.

              Its is possible, that after this excitement, they'll yank all the old BWR-4s and the one decent BWR-5 and replace the whole works with ESBWRs. A pity GE gave up on the SBWR... That design would have been pretty much inherently safe in this situation. Of course I'm a little fuzzy on dates, I think the SBWR design was done a decade or two after the BWR-3 and BWR-4 were built at Fukushima and I don't remember why GE gave up on the SBWR design anyway (maybe the navy or other govt considered it too "sensitive", despite the navy's fondness for PWRs?)

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents#Reactors [wikipedia.org]

    • 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?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by toQDuj (806112)

        Well, there were more injured in the second blast, perhaps that is how they spin it. There is a powerful anti-nuclear lobby active at the moment.

    • by toQDuj (806112)

      Quite, that is some nasty reporting from someone who either has an agenda or who doesn't understand fuck-all. Also the rolling blackouts are due to the power plants having been shutdown. What do they expect? I have not heard about rationing, merely the president asking for people to conserve what they can. Lastly, most of the US does not suffer from earthquakes or tsunamis, so those similar reactors should be fine.

      Someone is trying to blow this story sky-high. Why do they not focus on where the actual death

    • by fishexe (168879)
      Journalism? We don't do that here, go look somewhere else.
  • correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @08:58AM (#35478150)

    Is not the third explosion.
      means number 3 which refers to the number 3 reactor in the plant.
    Up to present there were 2 explosions in the plant and not 3.

  • Third blast? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Steve Max (1235710) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:00AM (#35478170) Journal

    As far as I can tell, TFAs are about the SECOND blast, which happened on reactor 3 of the plant. NHK has nothing about a third blast. Am I missing something? Was there a third explosion, on reactor 2?

    • by acoustix (123925)

      As far as I can tell, TFAs are about the SECOND blast, which happened on reactor 3 of the plant. NHK has nothing about a third blast. Am I missing something? Was there a third explosion, on reactor 2?

      Correct. The title is completely wrong. I hope it is updated soon.

    • 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:Third blast? (Score:5, Informative)

      by siddesu (698447) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:10AM (#35478256)

      There is no explosion. There will be one tomorrow though.

      About 2 hours ago Tokyo Electric Co reported that they've decided to flood reactor #2 after its cooling died earlier during the day. It is not clear when and why it died. Anyway, since it died, flooding procedure was begun. However, they are so far failing to cover the whole active zone with water. TEPCO's official said that that is suggesting the reactor core has melted to some extent.

      Just 10 minutes ago it was confirmed that water is flowing in slowly, and about half of the fuel is covered.

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

        by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:24AM (#35478388) Journal
        Indeed. It would help probably the global set of journalists to just refresh this page every hour or so [tepco.co.jp]. It was obvious for quite a while that an explosion outside the third reactor was likely, since it was experiencing exactly the same sequence as the first reactor.
      • There is no explosion. There will be one tomorrow though.

        Well, of course. There's always boom tomorrow.

      • by siddesu (698447)

        The theory TEPCO is peddling is that the employee who was in charge of the pump that supplied water to the reactor allegedly left the pump while on inspection. During that time, the pump used up its fuel and stopped.

        In the same sentence, the Minister of the economy, trade and industry said, that there is a serious chance of a partial meltdown of the active zone.

        JUST NOW FROM THE TV (0:00 AM) : Currently, the water has again lowered and the core is again uncovered (and not cooling).

  • Read this first (Score:5, Informative)

    by kylegordon (159137) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:05AM (#35478204) Homepage

    Before commenting, try and understand the design and facts

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/ [bravenewclimate.com]

    • by hipp5 (1635263)

      Before commenting, try and understand the design and facts

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/ [bravenewclimate.com]

      Mod parent up. That was a really interesting read.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rotide (1015173)
        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.
        • 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.
          • by catmistake (814204) on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:37PM (#35480884) Journal
            Quite. Three lowsy hydrogen explosions, merely 2 of 6 reactors in partial meltdown at only 2 plants, hardly 200 irradiated and barely 200,000 evacuated... this is all bullshit, is it not? Slashdot has really turned into the Weekly World News of nerdy fear-mongering sensationalism. Thank God for the pro-nuke commenters that are setting the record straight. Nothing to see here.
            • by BeanThere (28381)

              And if all this had happened in the US and not some faraway country where it's all abstract? Still not news? Still all bullshit? You don't have to be "anti-nuke" to admit that yes, this is a serious crisis. I am heavily pro-nuke, but because it's not a religion or a cult to me, I don't close my eyes and blindly pretend this isn't actually, yes, a Pretty Bad Situation. I can admit that. Is it the end of the world, no, of course not, but sticking your fingers in your ears and going "la la la it's just a norma

        • by Lucidus (681639)
          I object to your assumption that credentials are more important than competence. He does not misrepresent his background, and his clear, simple, and dispassionate explanation justifies itself. It's not as if the facts are really in question.
  • 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.

    • I think for living memory, many decades, is more likely.

      The greens are going to be playing those videos on a continuous loop every time the word "nuclear" is used. It's pretty much irrelevant how safe the current designs are.

      The global nuclear industry is effectively dead as of now.
       

  • First the Chernobyl clusterfuck turned nuclear power from The Answer To All Our Problems to A Scary Thing, then the non-event of TMI combined with some shitty old movie was enough to scare America off of it forever...now these events might be enough to damage nuclear power's reputation beyond repair with the rest of the international community. And what's left to take its place? All the fossil fuels you could ever want*, including lots of filthy, filthy coal.

    The Chinese will probably push forward with their nuclear plans. On one hand, it's good that it will reduce the coal use of one of the planet's biggest energy consumers, on the other hand, China has a reputation for not giving a fuck about the environment or safety (they're in the middle of their Gilded Age after all), and the last thing anybody needs is another Chernobyl, plus any improperly set up Chinese nuclear waste sites won't get a super-funded cleanup any time in the forseeable future. Maybe they'd get some political prisoners to do the cleanup work to save costs on hazmat suits and decontamination gear.

    *Until they run out

    • First the Chernobyl clusterfuck turned nuclear power from The Answer To All Our Problems to A Scary Thing, then the non-event of TMI combined with some shitty old movie was enough to scare America off of it forever

      FYI, the TMI event was long before Chernobyl.

  • A while back I was watching World's Toughest Fixes and they would not show the cooling buildings at the nuke plant where the show was filmed. I guess that now makes sense (one can argue it is theater). Why blow up the reactor proper when you can go after a much softer target and achieve basically the same effect. I am all for nuclear power but this needs to be addressed IMHO.
    • Pebble bed reactors (the same design as the micro-reactor concepts that keep popping up lately) always fail safely by design:

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

      The downside is the greater volume of waste - it's safer waste, but because of that there isn't much use for the spent fuel.

  • by melstav (174456) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:37AM (#35478480)
    All of those people who died were killed by the tsunami or the quake. Okay, technically, there have been a VERY SMALL (like on the order of a few dozen) number of injuries and a few fatalities directly related to the reactors. But those were all among people who were actually *working in* the power plants.
    • And that is the main reason why all that is interesting. Those reactors are quite old and unsafe (by today standards), they were hit by one of the biggest quakes ever measured, and submerged after that. Yet, just a few died from an hydrogen explosion, and the radiation level looks quite workeable. It seems that safe reactors should be quite safe indeed.

      Ok, but I'm still waiting for the truthfull assessment of the situation after everybody calms down.

  • by onlysolution (941392) on Monday March 14, 2011 @09:52AM (#35478626)

    I live in Japan and have been following this news all day. The info in the headline and summary about the the reactors is complete incorrect. As to what has actually been happening:

    First, the linked article is from 7 hours ago and is referring to the second explosion at Fukushima Daiichi of Reactor #3. The current situation as of 8PM Japan time was that the cooling system of Reactor #2 finally died and they just recently started filling it with seawater like the other reactors. This reactor is likely to cause another hydrogen explosion like the other two failed reactors before it. Also like the other reactors, this one may have suffered from some partial melting of its fuel rods.

    Secondly, the article implies that thousands have died as a result of the problems at the Fukushima reactors. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! There have been reports of non-serious injuries and VERY mild radiation contamination but nothing that warrants any kind of panic yet.

    Slashdot editors, please rewrite or delete this article, it is just spreading misinformation!

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

      by slim (1652) <<ten.puntrah> <ta> <nhoj>> 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      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.),

      The richter is base-10 logarithmic, but it is measuring amplitude. However, the destructive power of an earthquake is related to the energy released more than the amplitude, and the energy released is a function of the 3/2 power of the amplitude.

      Hence a 1 point increase is actually 10^3/2 or about 32 times as powerful.

    • by loshwomp (468955)

      So far these plants have endured an earthquake 10 times what they were designed for (8.9 Richter earthquake. Design was for 7.9.

      The Richter scale is pretty much obsolete, and you have the base wrong; a 1.0 difference in magnitude is more like a ~32x difference in energy.

  • 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.
     

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Shoddy design? You mean, like those poor excuses for engineers who didn't equip 1904 cars with basic safety necessities like airbags and crumple zones? How could they be so careless!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @12:18PM (#35480594)

      Third generation plants (the kind who's design is currently being held up in congress by idiocrats) use a passive emergency cooling system that circulates cooling water using natural convection, and it does not require electric pumps to function.

    • by data2 (1382587)

      This might have been said in one of the many other replies to this comment, but the German pebble bed reactor was one massive fuck-up. The pebbles did not move as planned, temperatures were way higher than thought (and this was only discovered about 10 years _after_ shutting it down), and there were cracks in the foundations where pebbles got stuck due to this, all of this without being noticed. Also, some radiating leaked due to this. So inherently safe is not necessarily true, one can still screw thinks u

    • by sjames (1099)

      Don't blame the engineers. We were just figuring out what constituted a good plant design at that time. Considering the lack of experience, it seems they've done a damned good job of it too. For all of the fearmongering headlines, no plant of this design has ever lost containment or even suffered a complete meltdown (which, contrary to the brightest engineers in hollywood, does not lead to loss of containment, much less a ball of nuclear waste destroying the earth's core and such).

      There certainly are better

  • 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.

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