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NRC Releases Audio of Fukushima Disaster 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the sounds-of-disaster dept.
mdsolar writes "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today released transcripts and audio recordings made at the NRC Operations Center during last year's meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The release of these audio recordings comes at the request of the public radio program 'BURN: An Energy Journal,' and its host Alex Chadwick. The recordings show the inside workings of the U.S. government's highest level efforts to understand and deal with the unfolding nuclear crisis as the reactors meltdown. In the course of a week, the NRC is repeatedly alarmed that the situation may turn even more catastrophic. The NRC emergency staff discusses what to do — and what the consequences may be — as it learns that reactor containment safeguards are failing, and that spent fuel pools are boiling away their cooling water, and in one case perhaps catching fire."
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NRC Releases Audio of Fukushima Disaster

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  • by Mr 44 (180750) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @09:31PM (#39132289)

    Most of the comments on the linked site are pretty critical, here's a typical post:

    rfordwm - Feb 21, 2012:

    I don't understand what the point of this piece was. All I heard on the recordings were cool headed honest assessments of what information they had on Japan.

    Yet Ryssdal says such things as "Wow. Scary when nuclear guys start using phrases like alarming language,' betraying a predisposition to distrust in these "nuclear guys." But for those listeners who don't share that predisposition what is it exactly we were to be scared of?

    Perhaps Mr. Chadwick will enlighten us:
      "this is the NRC -- they'e watching YouTube and CNN."

    Huh... So there is a breakdown in information I should perhaps be concerned about?

    Again Chadwick gives us the answer:

    "Because this area is so devastated by the tsunami. So many people are lost, 20,000. The infrastructure is all blown away."

    Well that seems like a good reason for information being sparse. Not to mention the NRC is a national agency, concerned with domestic nuclear safety.

    Again, what was the point of this? Why were Mr. Ryssdal and Mr. Chadwick using words and tones that denote alarm and concern? Perhaps they could clarify?

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @10:13PM (#39132535)

    What's the controversy here? This is a US regulatory agency who regulates US reactors, and the hubbub is that they weren't aware of each detail of events that were going on in Japan? Besides it not being in their job description to keep track of Japanese reactors, I don't think the first reaction of the Japanese was "Call the American nuclear regulators! Otherwise they might have to follow events on CNN!"

    If this were the Japanese nuclear regulators, then I'd be worried.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Then you should be worried because the Japanese nuclear regulators weren't any better informed.
      • ^^^^ This The regulators here(Japan) were uninformed before the accident, because they have chosen to look the other way for a long time. And they were uninformed during the accident for a number of reasons, broken infrastructure, Face saving, butt rescuing, political games etc etc.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      I know, the shear arrogance is almost unbelievable and I'm sure harrassing the Japanese for information didn't help them in any way.

    • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:42AM (#39135449) Journal

      What's the controversy here?

      The controversy is that many of the Nuclear reactors in operation in the U.S are the G.E Mk 1, that Fukushima was. Even the Hitachi and Toshiba reactors are copies of the GE Mk 1.

      The second part of the controversy is that the spent fuel cooling pools in the US are much more heavily loaded with pu-239 than Fukushima is/was.

      The third part of the controversy is that U.S operators are at least as bad as the Japanese counterparts.

      If this were the Japanese nuclear regulators, then I'd be worried.

      I've observed that most people on slashdot don't want their belief systems about Nuclear power challenged. People who do are modded into oblivion. The fact remains that the U.S is at least as vulnerable to these accidents because it has many of these types of reactors *still* in operation itself. Coupled with the spent fuel density in many U.S reactor installation's cooling pools and you have a recipe for disaster that rivals the Japanese situation.

      Unfortunately the lack of observable consensus between those for (pro) and against (anti) Nuclear power leaves the situation deadlocked against any pragmatic solution to the actual situation. Any form of, what I term "Responsible Nuclear Advocacy" is judged by both parties as against "their" argument when, in reality, if you observe both sides from afar you discover that while the end goal of both sides differ, the means to achieving it is the same: A geologically sound spent fuel facility in granite - built like the Rocky Mountains NORAD military facility (which is an ideal place).

      It's actually easier for most people to maintain a certain level of apathy towards the situation so they can remain untroubled by events and not challenge their "ism" and I don't blame them because it's a horrendously complex subject. It encapsulates not only an understanding of physics, but engineering, governance and regulation, political constructs, economics and legislation, medicine and, of course, the Nuclear Industry itself.

      I started off as undecided (well slightly pro) but determined to learn more and as I did became increasingly fascinated by this wonderful but also terrifying technology, after all, it's related to the atomic bomb. I encourage everyone who argues for Nuclear Power to really get an understanding of this technology. How much energy does mining take, what is the toxicity of mine tailings, what are the consequences of uranium enrichment and the relation to du weapons and the effect of CFC114 on the environment, how reactors are designed and their operational life cycle how basis design issues affect reactor operations (which lead to accidents like Fukushima AND Chernobyl) and, most importantly why dealing with spent fuel containment (and maintaining it in the U.S) is the most pressing issue that the faces humanity.

      Simply put, I have long felt that it is up to our generation to deal with the issue of spent fuel containment if we are going to receive the benefits of the energy that Nuclear fuel provides. These reactors have life spans that are measured in decades, while it's "spent" fuel is toxic to life for thousands of years. We have a responsibility to future human generation to deal with this issue permanently. If we can't solve this, the simplest problem facing the Nuclear industry (spent fuel containment) then how can we ever expect to develop better reactor technology (that I completely support), when we are simply rendering the technology pointless. What actual right do we have to this technology if we are too short sighted to see such far reaching consequences.

      I don't care if I'm modded down, I have always spoken to the truth of the Nuclear present and this argument has always been treated too flippantly on slashdot. The truth about the Nuclear industry gets modded down here because the truth about it introduces discomfiture that challenges the established dogma of the Nuclear industry and no one wants

      • by tp1024 (2409684)
        1) Yes, the USA are in many (though not all) regards just as vulnerable as Japan was. There were some improvements in American plants (like hardened, but unfiltered, containment vents, reinforced condensation chambers, hydrogen igniters (of doubtful value if you ask me) etc.), but certainly not enough in terms of redundant power supply and especially the lack of filters. None of which are discussed in mainstream media for political (and entirely wrong headed) reasons - either to avoid the cost of implementi
      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        Actually, storage may not be the best option. Transportation of spent fuel to a central site is sure to lead to accidents. A mobile transmutation facility may be a better option. If we think of nuclear energy as energy that must be repaid to unmake the waste, a sort of deficit spending situation, then the picture of what nuclear energy is may be clearer.
        • by MrKaos (858439)

          Actually, storage may not be the best option. Transportation of spent fuel to a central site is sure to lead to accidents. A mobile transmutation facility may be a better option. If we think of nuclear energy as energy that must be repaid to unmake the waste, a sort of deficit spending situation, then the picture of what nuclear energy is may be clearer.

          Have you examined the work of Dr Phillip Smith, Nuclear Physicist and Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen (MSc)? They talk of the absence of a "Net energy return" of Nuclear power.

          Have you considered any approaches to reducing pu-239 stores near nuclear reactors?

          • by mdsolar (1045926)
            The energy returned on energy invested is pretty low for nuclear power even ignoring the waste clean up. Using centrifuges in the fuel processing can help, but with only about 75 years of uranium left, the whole slug of gas diffusion processed materials from weapons production makes the overall process low quality in energy terms.

            Accelerators can break down plutonium so that is a zeroth order approach. We can expect an overshoot in solar panel production and excess energy available after fossil fuels
            • by MrKaos (858439)

              Accelerators can break down plutonium so that is a zeroth order approach. We can expect an overshoot in solar panel production and excess energy available after fossil fuels and nuclear power are eliminated. Already nanosolar has an energy payback time of under eight months. http://www.nanosolar.com/company/about-us [nanosolar.com] so repaying the nuclear energy debt should not be too difficult.

              No need to convince me about solar and other alternatives, they're the only logical and practical energy selection for the next

            • by MrKaos (858439)

              I argue about Nuclear power because I feel I have an obligation to future generations to do something to raise awareness of the problems the Nuclear Industry has so we can deal with the issues. Maybe in a hundred or so years we may have developed better materials technology to advance it, but right now I believe it's important to contain as much as possible in a granite facility. Granite because it contains groundwater penetration of radionucides.

              This was the original approach by the DOE 'Defense in Depth'

              • by mdsolar (1045926)
                Sorry I did not respond earlier. The solar business I was involved in was a rental model. It had a large growth potential but needed a prosperous economy to work because retaining ownership of the equipment led to certain tax offsets that investment banks could use against other business interests. When tax liabilities fell generally across the economy owing to low profits, the business model fell apart. The company is still going, but in a very limited area, not nationally as planned.
  • I was hoping to hear Japanese at the plant: "Nani?.........Nanka atta no?... CHIKUSHOU! KUSO! SHIMATTA! CHI!
  • Another anti-nuclear energy posting from mdsolar. Color me surprised.

    • its that Slashdot so regularly posts his stories which leads me to believe that there is someone on the staff who is either friends of or supports the same beliefs.

      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        A little under 13% of my submissions are accepted and there are many that are highly ranked on firehose that are rejected (declined these days). You have a higher acceptance rate. So, do you have more friends on staff than I? Is that fair? This piece is a follow up to the one about the NRC email. It is informational. Most of the important points were made in the prior discussion, namely that the NRC should have done the simulations it claims it has done so that it would know before an accident happens
  • I read the article but it just has a Soundcloud (whatever the fuck that is) browser player that will not play for me. Anybody have links to the audio files themselves?

    Oh and kudos to Slashdot for posting another story that links to some synopsis without the actual data the story is about.

  • The problem were the safeguards that failed to exist in the first place. Enough emergency generators, sufficient distance between those to ward off common cause failure [google.com] (you may notice research going on in that area for decades in nuclear power), filtered containment vents (aka safety valves, as you would find them in any pressure cooker) and passive autocatalytic recombiners [google.com] to prevent hydrogen explosions, no matter if the vents work or not (as they also vent the hydrogen from both the containment and the
  • but I could have sworn somebody said: "Gojiraaa!"
    • by ari_j (90255)
      There was also some discussion of cooling off the reactor with "more cowbell." History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.
  • "Run! The canary is mutating!"

    Bob.

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