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Japan

Fukushima Actually "Much Worse" Than So Far Disclosed, Say Experts 274

Posted by timothy
from the don't-drink-the-water-and-don't-breathe-the-air dept.
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that experts are casting doubt on the veracity of statements from both the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government regarding the seriousness of the problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Not only are the constant leaks releasing radioactivity into the ocean (and thus into the food chain), but now there are also worries that the spent fuel rod storage pools may be even more unstable than first thought. An external consultant warns, 'The Japanese have a problem asking for help. It is a big mistake; they badly need it.'"
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Fukushima Actually "Much Worse" Than So Far Disclosed, Say Experts

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  • Pride Always Sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:21AM (#44644011)

    Yet nobody cares about your pride except you

  • Rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:25AM (#44644053)

    Any "bad" news from government should be assumed to be much worse, and any "good" news from government should be assumed to be not nearly as good. That's just common sense when dealing with an organization that takes money from you by force, promising to spend it on things which benefit you, and then turns around and spends billions each year on self-promotion.

  • too bad actually (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:33AM (#44644181) Journal
    A lot of these isotopes are being shunted aside and stored (from which they are leaking), are useful ones. In particular, st-90 is a beta- and can be used to create long-lived batteries (20-50 years) without worrying about mechanical issues. These are ideal for putting on rovers on the moon/mars. Basically, a company should be filtering that water quickly and getting all of those isotopes out for use.
  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:34AM (#44644205)

    s/government/big corporation.

  • by tgd (2822) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:42AM (#44644309)

    .... now! "Fukushima is just the same as eating ten bananas, see? I saw it on xkcd!"

    Radiation exists in the environment. Fukushima being worse than they're disclosing is, generally speaking, a very localized problem. There's lots of radioactive stuff in the "food chain", and only nebulous comments about potential "health concerns" in the article.

    The oceans are big, and the radioactive tanks there are small. Its the radioactive equivalent of homeopathy, when you look at things on the global scale.

    So, XKCD (although I don't recall the comic you're talking about ) would be absolutely correct if they're mocking the overhyped concern about the food chain.

  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akirapill (1137883) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:45AM (#44644345)

    s/government/big corporation.

    Mod AC up. If anything, this incident shows that corporations are _at least_ as bad as the state when it comes to managing nuclear power. Nuclear may be scientifically safe and sound, but the lumbering bureaucracy (public or private) required to actually build and operate a plant guarantee that this type of disaster will keep happening for as long as this technology is in use.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:52AM (#44644441)

    And what would the rate be if we examined all kids that thoroughly?

  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by runeghost (2509522) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:54AM (#44644457)
    Sadly, I'm coming to around to agreeing with your point of view. On paper, nuclear should be the solution to the world's power needs. In practice, we as a species don't seem to be able to create and sustain the requisite human and material support structures for truly safe nuclear power.
  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:57AM (#44644497)

    I dont believe cancer generally develops that fast, and would highly suspect an agenda from any organization that tries to claim it does-- particularly when the estimates for radiation exposure even for the 3 workers most seriously exposed are just on the fringe of "elevated risk of cancer".

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:03PM (#44644585)

    Just like the soviets were after chernobyl..From the locals at the plant doing the 'safety' test, to just after the initial accident, to the delays in evacuations, to the kremlin's international response..

    Pride is ok, but it's gotta be rational.. There's no reason to feel prideful when you fuck up. Now, I could see the argument for 'honor' (It's our mess, we should be the ones to clean it up), but for something like this, if you need help, you should ask. Governments with strong ideological bias often have trouble accepting that the laws of physics don't care about political borders.

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:15PM (#44644759)

    The only reason there are so many water tanks to begin with is the perfunctionary insistence that "no radiation must be released into nature". The problem is: It's too late. Any of the releases that are reported as if it were a disaster completely pale in comparison to what happened in the days after March 11th 2011.

    The water from the reactor is being filtered and cleaned of Caesium and Strontium. The process is good, but not perfect. But since absolute perfection is being demanded, none of the water is allowed to be released into the environment. Hence it must be stored in thousands of tanks, safely, which is as impossible a task as the ludicrous targets for radioactivity in the water.

    Those tanks are necessarily makeshift in nature. The tanks cannot be individually monitored 24/7 by a limited number of people on the ground whose time in the contaminated area around the nuclear power plant is further limited by the maximum radiation dose of 20mSv per year. Yet, the government, the media and of course the usual activist groups demand the impossible. Each for their own petty reasons.

    How about asking people in Fukushima Daiichi to do the possible instead of the impossible? Clean up the water as much as possible and release it into the sea. Yes, there will be some Tritium and trace amount of residual Cs and Sr - it will be a very small fraction to what was released into the sea in 2011. This would allow the people there to concentrate on actually making sure that the core equipment is running and the site as a whole is making progress to being in a better more workable state - instead of setting up new water tanks every day and worrying about leaks.

    It is a marvel all of its own that workers there were at all able to keep up with setting up all those water tanks. But you should keep in mind that this isn't actually what they should be doing. They should have concentrated to bringing the plant back into a stable stead state. This will include allowing for some minor emissions of radioactive water. Provided that this is done in a controlled and closely monitored manner, this does not pose any problem that even approaches the scale of rainwater washing Caesium from the countryside into the sea (thus being part of natural decontamination processes). It will be diluted to levels that will not be harmful to the population.

    Dilution is a temporary solution to pollution. And I'm not saying this should be anything more than a temporary emergency measure. I'm very surely not advocating this to be a general way to dispose of radioactive waste. But given the circumstances, it is the most reasonable solution. You should remember that the old way of diluting pollutants was not in itself false. It was just the case that it done by everyone in ever increasing scale, to the point where dilution was perfectly meaningless. But as a temporary, local, emergency measure - instead of a permanent, global and general way of doing things - it is perfectly viable.

    Nobody demanded that no oil must leak from the Cosmo Oil Refinery [youtube.com] either and for some reason nobody demands that water below that refinery conforms to drinking water standards either, nobody asks wether any of the oil that contaminated the ground there will seep into the sea (it did and it will continue to do so) - while they do demand that the water below Fukushima Daiichi must not exceed limits for driniking water safety.

  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rwise2112 (648849) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:25PM (#44644865)
    It's called spin. Apply spin to either under- or over-estimate to make the government/corp to look better.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:48PM (#44645137) Journal
    With the exception of ones specifically designed for the purpose (which remain mostly theoretical and definitely unused), Nuclear bombs aren't really designed for radiation release, and definitely not the loads of messy decay products that you see with nuclear fuel rods that have been stewing in their own neutrons for months to years.

    The initial blast is pretty dramatic, and certainly spreads whatever nuclear fuel isn't converted into energy all over the place; but for them to release as much radiation, and cause as much contamination, as a defective nuclear generator they'd have to be so large that they wouldn't fit on anything short of heroically large transport aircraft.
  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @12:54PM (#44645243) Homepage
    Or better yet reprocess it until all the hot waste has been used to make power and all that is left is stuff that is about as radioactive as bismuth [wikipedia.org]. If it is so radioactive as to be dangerous then it is radioactive enough to be making electrons do useful work.
  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday August 22, 2013 @01:05PM (#44645379) Homepage Journal

    Nuclear may be scientifically safe and sound, but the lumbering bureaucracy (public or private) required to actually build and operate a plant guarantee that this type of disaster will keep happening for as long as this technology is in use.

    Yeah, this technology should have been completely replaced by now. We have two political problems here: first they won't permit the replacement technology to be used commercially, and second, they declared a State monopoly on the nuclear insurance market, ensuring the corporate owners would never have to worry about liability.

    If the insurance were underwritten according to risk and the safer technology allowed, the last of the light water reactors would be coming down in the coming decade. Instead we're stuck with, essentially, 1950's technology and concomitant risks.

  • Re:Wat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @01:24PM (#44645641)

    address the points he makes directly

    I think the GP did address the, erm... "points", which all amount to "it's bad, they're lying, it's getting much worse," etc.

    This is BBC fear-mongering. There isn't one new substantiated fact in the whole story. Its 100% pure US Grade A hyperbole. That the hyperbole coincidentally aligns with the worldview of BBC anti-anything-bigger-than-a-hobby-farm readers doesn't make this story or the fact-free activists/experts they quote any more credible.

    And Mycle Schneider is an activist. He isn't "something" of an activist. He is a die-hard professional anti-nook and has been so for decades.

  • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @03:36PM (#44647157) Journal

    But on which paper is the solution to the problem of nuclear waste material? Or the problem of finite raw materials? On paper, Sir, it's renewable energies.

    We won't run out of uranium on any timescale that matters. Like the Sun, out uranium is material leftover from a supernova long ago. Both will run out eventually, neither on a timescale that matters to humanity.

    We only keep spent nuclear fuel because it's valuable. As nasty industrial waste goes, there's so little of it that it shouldn't matter ... on paper. We do insanely stupid things, just crazily handle this stuff in a way that makes it more dangerous by far than it needed to be. Leave spent fuel in place for ~5 years, and most of the storage problems go away. Contamination in old reactors is a different, and IMO larger problem, but one that has had enormous engineering effort invested in solving. But since we like won't build a new-design reactor in my lifetime, we're stuck with designs that predate the personal computer.

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