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Japan

Japan Widens Evacuation Zone Around Fukushima 483

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-out-of-town dept.
mdsolar writes "Japan has started the first evacuations of homes outside a government exclusion zone after the earthquake and tsunami crippled one of the country's nuclear power plants. 5100 people are being relocated to public housing, hotels and other facilities in nearby cities."
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Japan Widens Evacuation Zone Around Fukushima

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  • Nuke power (Score:3, Insightful)

    by M. Baranczak (726671) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:03AM (#36133160)

    If the Japanese can't do this shit safely, then who can?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Flipstylee (1932884)
      Anyone else apparently, that plant was due for replacement/shutdown many years ago.
      • Anyone else apparently, that plant was due for replacement/shutdown many years ago.

        Anyone else? Including those who ran the reactor in Chernobyl?

        • Re:Nuke power (Score:4, Informative)

          by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:13AM (#36133210) Homepage
          The Chernobyl reactor was brand new... If you're going to be all panic mode about stuff at least get the easily verifiable facts right.
          • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Informative)

            by plopez (54068) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:28AM (#36133274) Journal

            Chernobyl was new but read this:

            http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~pbawa/421/ETHICAL%20ISSUES%20CHERNOBYL.htm [purdue.edu]

            And before you vilify the Soviet system for fraud, incompetence, corruption etc,; read up on the Diablo canyon reactor. It had serious quality issues as well. Such as the shock absorbers on the foundation which were intended to protect it from, IIRC, 7.3 magnitude earthquakes being installed in reverse. Quality issues abound in all construction even reactors. I don't even trust the Germans to do it right.

            Diablo canyon and Chernobyl also points out that if a good reactor design can be made, building it to spec is still a problem.

            Trivia tidbit: I do believe that the author of the Chernobyl memo is Uri Andropov who chose Gorbachev as his successor to the post of General Secretary of the CP of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev who instituted Glasnost and Perestroika, which eventually led to the peaceful downfall of the Soviet Union.

        • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Python (1141) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:18AM (#36133588)

          The Soviets sucked. But lets review the three power reactor accidents that have presented any potential or actual risk to the public and lets see how those accidents shook out:

          1) Chernobyl: A soviet designed reactor with no containment that had a steam explosion because the operators were not trained for the experiment they were running, and they lost control of the reactor by disabling all the safety systems and doing things all the other reactors in the USSR said no to. No shock there that it had a steam explosion. (Operator error, design flaw)
          2) Three Mile Island: A faulty pressure relief valve on the PWRs pressurizer and a bad design for the indicator, plus poor location of the indicators on the back of a panel, no release but core damage. (Operator error, design flaw)
          3) Fukushima: a Tsunami induced beyond design basis accident, where the Units survived the earthquake and apparently the safety systems were working until the Tsunami took out the Diesel generators knocking all but the RCIC safety system out. (Beyond DBA)

          Effects:

          1) Chernobyl: Core Damage and exposure plus release plus fire. Worst case accident. Expected because the soviets just didnt give a fuck, they built a faulty reactor, had no containment and they blew it up with faulty procedures and an arrogant approach to Nuclear engineering. Big shocker to no one that they had a loss of containment accident and killed a lot of people trying to bring it under control. Classic Soviet Engineering Fuckup.

          Actual Measurable Effects: Unit destroyed, lots of deaths of personnel involved in controlling the accident. Area contaminated, but effects have been much less over time than expected, tours are available of the area now. Worst case loss of control accident.

          Cause: Experiment coupled with Operator Error/Arrogance. Soviet reactor design was unstable at low power, Night shift was untrained for the experiment that they were told to run. Plant tried to run experiment during the day, but was told to stop due to Brown Outs and passed this on to the junior night shift. Shift lost control of reactor, steam explosion took the lid off the uncontained reactor. Because Soviet reactors were designed to be refueled while running it had no containment and the rest is history. No one builds reactors like this except the Soviets, so this kind of accident can not occur with non-soviet designed reactors.

          2) TMI: Core damage, no known release. It scared a lot of people at the time because it wasn't clear, at the time, what was wrong or what the effects were. Communication was poor and people understandably were panicked. No known release was measured, and a number of studies have looked into this. Increased rates of cancer were not detected, but its possible it did occur. Unfortunately, at the time the accident occurred the movie China Syndrome came out and this may have also had some impact on public perception of this accident.

          Actual measurable effects: Core Damaged, Unit unusable, No deaths, no known direct health effects although there is some debate from residents on this point. Scientific studies so far have concluded that if there was any release (and there is no evidence of , it did not have any impact on public health and safety. The material than ended up the aux building did not contain solids at room temp, so any release was likely xenon (and maybe some argon or krypton), and possibly some radioactive iodine. Data at the time of the accident indicates that the release was less than 2 mrem, or 1/40th the natural dose for residents of a high altitude city. In short, not above background levels and no evidence of I-131 or C-137 in mammalian milk in the surrounding areas. So, the actual effects were scary sounding, but not anything that would have adverse impacts on health.

          Cause: The Babcock and Wilcox valve indicated it was closed if the solenoid was de-energized, not when it was actually closed. It stuck open, and the indicators said it was closed. There were sensors on th

          • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Insightful)

            by thermopile (571680) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:56AM (#36133850) Homepage
            A fantastic summary, but I quibble with the "no evidence of any significant release of radiation" quote for Fukushima. Two months ago, I would have said it was impossible for a reactor in Japan to contaminate the drinking water in Tokyo, but that's exactly what happened. To the detriment of the industry (and I'm a nuclear engineer), there was a significant release of radiation.

            That said, in the grand scheme of things, it has not presented a harm to the general public that is greater than other risks: look at the poor folks in the spillways of the Mississippi. Or the coal ash spill from the coal-fired plant in Kingston, TN.

            Three incidents like you describe above, over thirty-two years, is a pretty darned good safety record, with the 440+ commercial power reactors around the world. Why does nuclear have a bad rap? One possibility is it stems from fear [anengineerindc.com] since it all started with a few mushroom clouds, but whatever the reason, it seems awfully visceral.

            • by Python (1141)

              >I quibble with the "no evidence of any significant release of radiation" quote for Fukushima

              I did say significant (not no release, I'm a Nuclear Engineer too!). :-)

              So yes, there certainly should have been noble gas releases, and probably C-131 radioisotopes. Possibly others with cladding damage, but its hard to know all the facts at Fukushima right now (we sent people, and the Japanese have not been really that cooperative), including release so I agree that a release of some radiation occurred. We ca

              • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Interesting)

                by thermopile (571680) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @02:55PM (#36134972) Homepage
                I'm really not trying to get into a debate on semantics, but releasing a few TBq of radiation counts as "significant" in my mind. At the very least, it's way more than background.

                This article by some nuclear engineers at NC State [blogspot.com] is an excellent, fact-based breakdown of what the effects are of the Fukushima accident, with known numbers to date.

                Bottom line: Three cancers.

                Three cases of cancer that would not otherwise have occurred, and this is using the (very conservative) linear-no-threshold assumption.

                Others in this thread have been bleating about how bad nuclear power accidents have been. The following quote from the UN's final report on the Chernobyl accident (a summary can be found here [21stcentur...cetech.com] ) doesn't support their claims:

                "Apart from the increase in thyroid cancer after childhood exposure, no increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality have been observed that could be attributed to ionizing radiation. The risk of leukemia, one of the main concerns (leukemia is the first cancer to appear after radiation exposure, because of its short latency time of 2 to 10 years), does not appear to be elevated, even among the recovery operation workers. Neither is there any proof of other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation. However, there were widespread psychological reactions to the accident, which were due to fear of the radiation, not to actual radiation doses."

                People's fear is very real and important. But it's not substantiated by facts.

              • by Shihar (153932)

                >I quibble with the "no evidence of any significant release of radiation" quote for Fukushima

                I did say significant (not no release, I'm a Nuclear Engineer too!). :-)

                So yes, there certainly should have been noble gas releases, and probably C-131 radioisotopes. Possibly others with cladding damage, but its hard to know all the facts at Fukushima right now (we sent people, and the Japanese have not been really that cooperative), including release so I agree that a release of some radiation occurred. We can messure that, but the amounts so far appear to present no threat to public health and safety, hence the use of the words "significant release of radiation". Thats why I mentioned the WHO quote, they seem like the best non-nuclear source, so it seems reasonable they probably aren't trying to spin it and there conclusion was no threat to health at this point.

                As an aside, going back on GE BWR training I would have expected some release of nobles and C-131. Until we have cold shutdown and we can all study the events its all just inference at this point, so this could all change.

                >Three incidents like you describe above, over thirty-two years, is a pretty darned good safety record, with the
                > 440+ commercial power reactors around the world. Why does nuclear have a bad rap?
                > One possibility is it stems from fear [anengineerindc.com] since it all started with a few mushroom clouds,
                >but whatever the reason, it seems awfully visceral.

                Yeah I agree. I think you have it right, mushroom clouds and nuclear weapons. That and general ignorance of how power reactors work coupled with a general misunderstanding of the health effects of ionizing radiation, and that we are all exposed to it all day long. As Arthur C. Clarke said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

                I wonder if we still called them something else, like "atomic steam generator plants" instead of "Nuclear Power Reactors" if people would be less irrationally afraid of them.

                Eh, and if people were perfectly rational we would hit the snooze button in the face of the absurdly small danger that terrorism represents and spend our money on something useful that will save lives, like choking prevention courses, or trying to teach people how not eat yourself to death. To bad people are stupid.

                Nuclear suffers the double edged blade of stupid fears and rational fears. You are not being stupid if you decide you don't feel like living next to Fukushima right now. The area is irradiated

              • by Rakishi (759894)

                Your facts are out of date, measurements have been done and data has been released. Not of the reactor, which is irrelevant to those not involved in the cleanup unless bad things happens again, but of the area around the power plant. Decent quantities of radiation (cesium-137) have been detected in some areas. Enough to essentially leave the areas uninhabitable without significant cleanup costs. I think I've read estimates of up to 200 square km being unsafely radioactive but don't quote me on that. Not ins

            • by Animats (122034)

              A fantastic summary, but I quibble with the "no evidence of any significant release of radiation" quote for Fukushima. Two months ago, I would have said it was impossible for a reactor in Japan to contaminate the drinking water in Tokyo, but that's exactly what happened. To the detriment of the industry (and I'm a nuclear engineer), there was a significant release of radiation.

              Right. The number of casualties is small, but the area evacuated is large, and may be evacuated for decades.

              For actuarial purposes, insurance for nuclear plants now has to be repriced. Total power reactor years worldwide is now about 14,000, with two major evacuation incidents. So an assumption of one evacuation of a 30km circle around the plant and acquisition of that real estate per 7000 reactor-years is appropriate for insurance purposes.

              The insurance cost will vary with location. That's a big probl

          • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Insightful)

            by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday May 15, 2011 @12:07PM (#36133946) Homepage
            How is it NOT a failure of engineering for the earthquake and tsunami threat to be minimized? History and tsunami stones pointed to real dangers that would lead one to think it is retarded to put generators that require fire, and for which water is a fatal enemy, at sea level. You cannot dismiss Fukushima because it wasn't designed for the event -- the earthquake and tsunami are an indictment of the engineering, not a reason to excuse the engineering.
          • by XSpud (801834)

            So seriously, lets stop the fear mongering, four accidents of significance and only one - due to a terribly stupid design - resulted in actual threats to the public. Nuclear power is safe, and if people would just take the time to actually understand it they would know it.

            It is statements such as this that contribute to the public suspicion of the nuclear industry IMO. Nuclear power is not "safe", it has risks like any other industrial scale power generation. The public knows there are risks, it knows that the nuclear industry has a history of trying to hide the risks, and it knows that human factors are often more significant than reactor design when safety is concerned.

            At some point the industry needs to hold their hands up and say "yes we have been doing it wrong", and

          • by lennier (44736)

            3) Fukushima: a Tsunami induced beyond design basis accident

            People keep repeating that phrase "beyond design basis" as if it's some kind of positive thing.

            All it means is that the designers got their design basis dead wrong as it didn't reflect the actual real-world conditions.

            Since the designers in this case weren't some fly-by-night Soviet outfit but General Electric, who built a whole load of reactors based on the same flawed design basis, and neither the company nor the nuclear industry as a whole nor any of the international nuclear regulatory agencies called t

      • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Informative)

        by SquirrelDeth (1972694) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:39AM (#36133346)
        So is Chalk River in Canada. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalk_River_Laboratories [wikipedia.org] But our Prime minister fired the nuclear watch dog when she said to shut the plant down after the last time the reactor had a spill. http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/303953 [thestar.com]
        • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Informative)

          by plover (150551) * on Sunday May 15, 2011 @12:19PM (#36134016) Homepage Journal

          And I'm glad Chalk River is still on line. My wife needed the isotopes they make to help treat her cancer.

          Their "spill" was 47 liters of heavy water. No damage, nobody harmed. If they stopped making radioisotopes, they'd kill tens of thousands of patients due to lack of treatment options. And it's not like they can stockpile those compounds. The half life of the useful ones are all pretty short.

          There's this fragile thing called perspective. I don't know why so many people lose it when they hear the word "nuclear".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SquirrelDeth (1972694)
            The spill you are referring to was 47 kilo's not liters. There was also a 800 liter spill and a 7,000 liter a day spill that lasted over a month that was pumped into the Ottawa river. They need a new plant and since they take a while to build sooner is better than latter. If the plant gets shut down for good how many years would it take to start producing isotopes again? As for perspective why shouldn't people drive 50 year old cars that pollute like a bastard and leak oil once in a while?
      • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:09AM (#36133530)

        Anyone else apparently, that plant was due for replacement/shutdown many years ago.

        Every time there's a nuke plant disaster, some people argue that the particular situation is a special case that can be safely ignored. Undoubtedly, the same arguments will pop up the next time there's a major accident, sabotage or attack (which will undoubtedly be yet another special case).

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Every time there's a nuke plant disaster, some people argue that the particular situation is a special case that can be safely ignored.

          Welcome to slashdot.
        • by slyborg (524607)

          Exactly. I'm not "scared" of nuclear power, I'm an engineer and I understand the concepts of risk and failure mode effects analysis. The problem is primarily management failures in most of these high-profile accidents, as summarized by the poster above. There is no way to eliminate those on long enough time scales because human beings make mistakes. The problem with nuclear power is that the catastrophe scenario is very, very bad, and the timescale to react is very short. The latest update from Fukushima is

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Except they didn't shut it down or replace it. Just like everyone else. Including the US, where practically any time our 104 plants is due for replacement/shutdown, instead it just magically gets relicensed.

        So no, nobody else can either.

    • Re:Nuke power (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:18AM (#36133236)

      Obviously it is impossible, which is why we have yearly meltdowns and hundreds of huge exclusion zones around the wo...

      Wait a second. We don't. It seems that, unlke oil or coal, the total number of major disasters is way lower on the nuke side.

      It's too bad we can't actually build the newer, safer designs. People might protest. It reminds me of the protests when the Cassini probe was launched, all because it had a plutonium RTG on it.

      • How many oil plant and coal plant explosions did we have in recent years?
        According to you they seem to be far more dangerous than nuclear plants ... just wondering.
        angel'o'sphere

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Zulkis (839927)
          How about oil spills? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills [wikipedia.org] Or mine disasters? http://www.usmra.com/china/disasterwatch/ [usmra.com] (just China)
          • This are not power plants.

            How do you dare to compare a nuclear power plants safety with 3rd worlds mining accidents?

            Are you completely nuts?

            angel'o'sphere

            P.S. how many ppl died in oil spills? And again: what has that to do with a power plant and its safety?

          • by Velex (120469)

            Intriguing. Coal kills.

            Oh well. Not too different from self-driving cars. The first self-driving car that even injures someone will be a media circus. Yet I guess we're ok with human drivers: http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx [dot.gov].

        • A natural gas plant in CT blew up a year ago due to improper purging of the gas lines during testing. Managed to rattle windows 30 miles away and if I remember correcltly, it registered as a 2 or 3 on the nearest seismograph. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/02/07/us-energy-explosion-idUSTRE61619Q20100207 [reuters.com]
        • Re:Nuke power (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Rising Ape (1620461) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:41AM (#36133716)

          How many oil plant and coal plant explosions did we have in recent years?

          You don't need explosions for those to harm people. Air pollution, mining incidents, global warming... if all the consequences of coal were piled into a single, per-decade event it would be an appalling accident, far worse than Fukushima.

      • Re:Nuke power (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mellon (7048) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:43AM (#36133374) Homepage

        We can't build the newer, safer designes for two reasons. The first is that the nuclear industry, by which I mean both the operators and the regulators, have utterly failed to be honest and diligent. By this I mean that they generally do their best to try to paint a happy face on any problem that may come up, rather than saying "here's what's bad about this, and here's what we're doing about it." Consequently, each time something genuinely bad happens, public trust is further undermined. And they do their best to find the cheapest possible solution to any problem, rather than actually trying to solve it, because if they had to actually solve it, it might be cheaper to simply shut down the plant.

        The root of this problem is that nuclear, like solar, is not actually economically competitive with carbon sources. We'd like to stop using carbon sources of energy, but it's difficult because it's cheaper (partially because we never count the cost of the externalities). The difference between nuclear and solar is that in the case of nuclear, there's a temptation to cheap out on safety so as to make it more economically feasible, or to simply not account for externalities, like the cost of exclusion zones when a serious accident like the ones at Chernobyl and Fukushima happens.

        So the point is not that nuclear is inherently unsafe, or inherently a bad idea, but rather that the economics of nuclear power tend to increase risk, not decrease it, and that what is being risked is an outcome like the ones in Fukushima and Chernobyl.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Nuclear energy is quite cheap once the plant is up and running they can be run indefinitely with proper maintenance. Cost wouldn't be an issue if we required the coal and oil industries to pay a fee for the pollution they produce as a byproduct of production.

          • Re:Nuke power (Score:4, Insightful)

            by PNutts (199112) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:12AM (#36133552)

            Nuclear energy is quite cheap once the plant is up and running they can be run indefinitely with proper maintenance.

            Fukushima Dai-ichi's energy was cheap until 3/11/2011 and it was properly maintained as much as any of them. Also, the Titanic was a great ship that provided excellent transportation until halfway across the Atlantic.

            • by JSBiff (87824)

              "Also, the Titanic was a great ship that provided excellent transportation until halfway across the Atlantic."

              But, we didn't stop sailing because of the Titanic.

          • The same is true for wind, water and solar plants, or more even for sea wave power plants.

            angel'o'sphere

      • It seems that, unlke oil or coal, the total number of major disasters is way lower on the nuke side.

        Of course, the "way lower" number of nuclear plants may have something to do with that. But on you also have to consider the lack of evacuations around a coal plant in the event of disasters - and I don't know of a single coal plant that has a sarcophagus over it, or a vast area around it where people are forbidden to live.

        • by Microlith (54737)

          I don't know of a single coal plant that has a sarcophagus over it

          Good catch. Mostly that's because its toxic materials are either blown into the atmosphere or end up in large reservoirs on site, which have a habit of breaking.

          a vast area around it where people are forbidden to live.

          I suppose that's mostly because we're ignorant of the hazards of coal plant output. I hear the health effects are quite drastic, let alone living downstream in the event of a fly ash spill.

          • I suppose that's mostly because we're ignorant of the hazards of coal plant output. I hear the health effects are quite drastic, let alone living downstream in the event of a fly ash spill.

            You should not believe everything you hear. There is no fly ash anymore in a modern plant since 15 - 20 years (in EU especially, not sure about USA, the last discussion with a /. er from there revealed that they "should" have even stricter limitations but seem not to be enforced).
            I don't really know what you mean with a s

            • There is no fly ash anymore in a modern plant since 15 - 20 years

              Surprise, surprise, there are no nuclear plants operating commercially that were designed within the last 15 to 20 years. It's all old reactor designs without passive safety. Thanks to the insane selective fear of physics that some people have, it's far too expensive (in the short term) to test and build the new reactors.
            • Re:Nuke power (Score:4, Informative)

              by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 15, 2011 @01:55PM (#36134610) Homepage Journal

              You should not believe everything you hear. There is no fly ash anymore in a modern plant since 15 - 20 years (in EU especially, not sure about USA, the last discussion with a /. er from there revealed that they "should" have even stricter limitations but seem not to be enforced).

              I personally know a guy who was paid to climb stacks here in the states and you can find out-of-spec plants as fast as you can pay people to climb them.

              Anyway, regarding fly ash: it is separated in a way that most of it can be used as building material, e.g. for roads or as hard plaster in buildings. Only a very small amount gets deposited.

              We did actually have a case with some sheet rock from china sweating radioactives and toxics, as you may recall; it was made from fly ash. A great deal of fly ash seems to be made into concrete, which seems like a decent way to entomb radioactives if it's sufficiently uniform, except that the suckers who are working with the stuff are going to breathe a certain amount of it past the sides of their respirators, assuming they're even in the first world where they get to use them. Here in the USA you can track increased radioactives downwind of pretty much any coal plant. I would guess that it's worse in China. The jet stream brings a crapload of Chinese pollution here. There are now days where there's more Chinese pollution in Los Angeles than there is of the local kind.

      • by ildon (413912)

        I was in highschool at the time and some girl was trying to get people to sign a petition to prevent the Cassini probe from launching in one of my classes. I told her I wouldn't sign it and when she asked why I basically explained how it was statistically impossible for it to hit the earth during the slingshot maneuver and even if it did, and the containment of the plutonium failed in a worst case scenario, the increased nuclear exposure would be so small as the be statistically insignificant, and since we

    • by Python (1141)
      Thats easy, there have been three reactor accidents for power reactors that have any significance, so lets leave those three countries out, which means these countries are operating Nuclear Power plants just fine: Argentina Armenia Belgium Brazil Bulgaria Canada China Croatia Czech Republic Finland France Germany Hungary India South Korea Mexico Netherlands Pakistan Romania Slovenia South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Ukraine United Kingdom And they haven't had accidents. And the Japanese are ha
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:24AM (#36133262)

    Hey, this is Slashdot, nukes can do no wrong! Clearly this must be propaganda from the bleeding heart eviro-nuts who don't hold the same opinions as me!

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Nobody here says that, at least not that I've seen. But a bunch of us do point out that under normal circumstances and ones in which nuclear reactors are supposed to be engineered to handle, things like this don't happen. If you've been paying attention, this wouldn't have been much of an issue had the reactor been properly designed, it's beyond my comprehension as to why they did not have a proper contingency plan for tsunami, given the plant's location and the general likelihood of such a disaster. Had th

      • under normal circumstances and ones in which nuclear reactors are supposed to be engineered to handle, things like this don't happen

        Well, thank goodness! For a while there, I thought we had a major disaster on our hands.

      • Fact is: they had planned for a Tsunami.

        Only not for such a big one.

        And: they did not even do it properly, instead of putting the emergency power into a truly save spot they had them standing outside on the field. The cheapest solution.

        Imho it can't be so hard to make an air tight building with lets say a 30 yards high chimney and air take ins and put the emergency power diesel generators into it. However, if they do that, they surely mess it up as well and it will break exactly in the moment where it is ne

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      power and money grubbing corporations with lawmakers in their pockets, like Tepco, can do much harm with "nukes". Japan's corporations seem especially gifted with this, for example untrained workers actually unknowingly making a crude nuclear reactor in 1999 by adding one too many buckets of 18% enriched uranyl nitrate to a precipitation tank, with two deaths and a survivor severe radiation poisoning.
    • I can only assume you're reading a different Slashdot, because there have been a large number of anti-nuke comments on every Fukushima story.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @11:13AM (#36133556) Homepage

    Much of this is TEPCO's fault, and specifically the fault of their CEO, Masataka Shimizu. A few weeks after the hydrogen explosions, it came out that the CEO had ruled that only he could authorize any release of radioactive material, including venting hydrogen to the atmosphere to avoid an explosion.

    When that decision needed to be made, the CEO was not present when wanted. [reuters.com] When the earthquake occurred, he happened to be in another part of Japan and had trouble getting to TEPCO HQ. But there was no backup plan if the CEO was unavailable. Nobody took over and made the decision. (In the US, policy is that the on-site plant manager can make that decision.)

    The CEO wasn't seen in public for weeks after the disaster. He was rumored to have fled the country, that he'd committed suicide, or that he was in a hospital. The Prime Minister of Japan personally went over to TEPCO headquarters to demand answers and action. Even that didn't help, and his office had to directly take over management of the disaster.

    Masataka Shimizu is still CEO of TEPCO.

    Japan used to have a tradition of seppuku in such situations.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      He doesn't need to kill himself. He just needs to be on-location at the plant, 24x7, alongside the workers of the plant who are putting themselves at risk, until the problem is solved.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @12:52PM (#36134208) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if the next logical step will follow the Chernobyl pattern.

    After the Chernobyl disaster, a common effort by all soviet republic to give relief to victims of the disaster resulted in building a new city from scratch. Slavutych [wikipedia.org] is the city of people from the Chernobyl zone. Employees of the power plant, veterans of liquidation of the disaster, foresters, guards and scientists maintaining the zone of exclusion live in a city 50km from Pripyat, and these currently employed in the zone are going the 60km to work by a train every morning. The town, population 25,000 is divided into 8 districts, each with unique style and character given by a chosen soviet republic that lead building it. The design was specifically intended to give people new hope, a consolation and compensation for what they lost. The plan mostly worked: the standard of living is one of best in Ukraine, and there is outstanding number of children in the town, making its average age the lowest in the country.

    Now I wonder how would the counterpart in Japan look like, if Japan chooses a similar solution. A modern town built in a year or less from scratch, designed with keeping spirits up in mind, done by the Japaneese may be very interesting...

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 15, 2011 @02:20PM (#36134718) Homepage Journal

      Now I wonder how would the counterpart in Japan look like, if Japan chooses a similar solution.

      The problem is, they're not exactly swimming in land in Japan. (They're swimming in radioactivity.) They'd have to build it on the side of a mountain [nydailynews.com] or something. Seriously though, the best option is to expatriate as rapidly as possible. Spend some of their money while it's worth something to secure some land for their citizens in some other nation and send them packing. Whole towns are now flooded at high tide since the 'quake [sfgate.com]. Japan is facing a chronic land shortage.

      All this comes off as insensitive I'm sure, and I'm sorry, but it doesn't make sense to build anything in Japan any more. I'd be talking real seriously with Brazil. They already have lots of Japanese and surely they could benefit from lots more. The Japanese are very serious about protecting the environment in their own country [greenpeace.org.uk], so it might actually improve their environmental conditions to import them all.

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @03:53PM (#36135310)

    It seems that the quake itself damaged the #1 reactor, well before the tsunami took out the power system:
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110515p2g00m0dm007000c.html [mainichi.jp]

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