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Comment: Re:OMG (Score 2) 29

by tp1024 (#47744069) Attached to: Iceland Stands Down On Travel Alert: From Orange To Red and Back Again

This has very little to do with Eyjafjallajökull. They called the red alert when the harmonic tremor that was being measured reached levels that in all previous cases (like Eyja in 2010 and Grimsvötn in 2011) indicated an eruption in progress, namely, large amount of magma moving through rock. This usually only happens when there is magma moving out of the ground somewhere aka an eruption in progress.

The big problem is, there was no such thing. Yet tremor hasn't died down at all. (This is from a recording station on Askja, which is a volcano a bit further away from the current action, but shows it just fine.)

There is a lot of magma on the move in the ground and by now there is very little reason left to believe it's just going to stay in the ground. Because it's just too darn much. An eruption on saturday would have been preferable to what we are seeing now.

Comment: Re:I think this means (Score 2) 255

by tp1024 (#47625759) Attached to: TEPCO: Nearly All Nuclear Fuel Melted At Fukushima No. 3 Reactor

Cooling down a molten core to the point where it solidfies reduces emissions quite enormously, especially when the containment (such as a Mark I BWR containment), wasn't designed to stay fully sealed after a meltdown. Otherwise, when the hot molten core just sits there, more aerosols (maiinly Caesium) are created and eventually scattered in the environment.

When this containment was designed, back in 1958-1962, it was sufficient to ensure that there would be no catastrophic numbers of casualties after any potential reactor accident. (Something they did remarkably well, given their limited experience.) It was not designed to prevent contamination of the environment during accidents involving a core meltdown, unlike more modern designs or pressure water reactor containments, that just so happened to be large enough to stay sealed with a molten core inside, even though this wasn't a specifically set design goal back when the earliest of those were designed.

All of this could have been prevented, if there had been filtered containment vents that could have kept the containment otherwise sealed.

Comment: Re:already done (Score 1) 133

If all those cities were "fine", 'unscathed" and "perfectly safe from even the largest waves" then how come there were 182 deaths in Namie, 85 deaths in Okuma and 35 deaths in Futaba? And why have all the coastal communities of Namie essentially been scrubbed from the coast? Why has the mayor of Futaba (previous population 7406) said, that 90% of its houses have been destroyed?

As for people dieing during the evacuation. Yes, there have been such reports. But those people died because the evacuation was botched beyond belief. Who would have thought that evacuating a hospital with lots of people who are severely ill, without providing food, drink or medical support could result in dead people? Well, the lancet says there are "lessons to be learnt". I'd say the only lesson to be learnt here is that radiation is completely harmless compared with the gross neglect of even basic human needs as soon as somebody screams "radiation everybody will die!".

Comment: Re:already done (Score 2) 133

a) Nobody died. (Unlike due to the direct effects of the tsunami.)
b) In places like Ishinomaki, Kesenuma, Rikuzentakata or Ofunato the people are essentially in the same situation. People can't just go back, because they now realized that those places are too darn dangerous to live in, because of the tsunami hazard. If history provides any pattern there, the towns will be abandonned for several decades upon which people will start ignoring the danger again, rebuild former settlements and then suffer the next big tsunami. All very much on the same time-scale as for the evacuation zone around Fukushima Daiichi. With the difference that the next tsunami WILL come and WILL NOT be prevented, while nuclear power plants can simply be build properly to modern standards (i.e. designed to contain a meltdown, which General Electric said this containment wasn't designed to do all the way back to 1966, as you can read in the CR-6042 manual).

c) The number of people evacuated because of radiation is a fraction (10-20%) of the total number of people who lost their homes. Most of those will be free to return in the next few years. (There is no statistic that I'm aware of saying how many people's homes were destroyed in the area that was later declared off-limits. Extrapolating from the number of dead people in the area it ought to be about 10% or 50,000, but that could be wrong.)

Comment: Re:already done (Score 2) 133

Go read WASH-1400, that one said 36 years before Fukushima Daiichi what would happen when a tsunami hits a nuclear power plant. The predicted result is easily comparable to what we have seen, because Japan (just like the USA) didn't bother to implement major upgrades that were demanded by law in France, Germany and Sweden. Among those are hydrogen recombiners that the Japanese demanded by law in 2012 and were bought in France where they have been implemented for decades. You may remember the hydrogen explosions? Those were predicted. The same countries also installed filtered containment vents. Which would, by themselves, have prevented uncontrolled venting into the reactor buildings, they would have filtered out 99.99% of the Cs and they also have hydrogen recombines by default. In Germany those were required in 1988, Japan followed in 2013. Japan managed to require all reactors to have at least 2 emergency generators for each reactor in 2002 (before that 3 emergency generators were sufficient for 2 reactors). By comparison, at the same time, Germany required at least 2 WORKING emergency generators for each reactor, even if one generator is out for maintenance and another breaks down due to some technical fault. In other words, they required at least 4 generators and even more, if some of them were put in a place were they might fail due to some other causes (like flooding or a plane crash).

There is no tsunami risk in Europe. But nuclear power plants must be protected against 10.000 year floods. Fukushima Daiichi (along with all the coastal cities) was protected against a rather small tsunami that hit Japan in 1960 and nobody bothered that there were larger tsunamis in 1933 and 1896 (and many more before that).

It's not about hindsight. It's a matter of a complete lack of disaster planning in Japan, which is why you had almost 20.000 dead and 400.000 lost homes (that latter figure is without the additional evacuations due to the reactor accident).

Comment: Re:already done (Score 4, Interesting) 133

If your definition of "reasonable" is "one millionth" you'd be right, but also perfectly unreasonable. There is such a thing as natural radioactivity, it is everywhere. And if you demand that "artificial" radiation must be less than 1/10.000th of natural radioactivity in the worst contaminated areas to be "reasonable", then you suffer from a gross form hubris. Your claims about Iodine-129 neglect to mention that is has 1/ of the activity of I-131. Even by your stupid definition, it's not a problem. This is further compounded by the fact that Iodine is highly mobile, most of all, it is water soluble. This means that it will be dispersed in the environment at a much greater rate than it will be concentrated in humans. In fact, it is not even detectable around Fukushima Daiichi.

You also neglect to say that the total radiotoxicity of all longlived fission isotopes is less than the radiotoxicity of the natural uranium before it went through the reactor. It is LESS than what was naturally there anyway. I know you don't care about such facts, lots of other people do.

Your body is full of potassium-40, carbon-14, thorium, uranium and their decay products. If you're so scared of radioactivity that you must demand Cs-137 to decay to one-millionth of the current concentrations before you feel safe, then go commit suicide. There is no place in the solar system that will satisfy your demands. You, sir, are a lunatic.

Comment: Re:already done (Score 4, Informative) 133

It gets better, all the way back in 1975, the Wash-1400 report listed tsunamis as one of the potential ways to knock out the safety systems of a nuclear power plant, leading to the exact same outcome we have seen. All the way to the point of having to evacuate a few thousand square kilometers, given the BWR Mark I containment. (Actually, it was just one thousand, but the rest was off-shore.)

The main problem was that just about ALL the tsunami protection in Japan (both for cities and nuclear power plants) was based on the 1960 tsunami, that came all the way across the Pacific from Chile. The result was quite a disaster, but the worst part was the completely unprotected population and certainly not the nuclear power plants. Contamination is quite reversible, 18500 dead people not so much.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 2) 212

No, it wasn't by design.

By design (back in 1962) it was supposed to use steel-clad fuel rods. Which didn't work as well as they hoped, so they were replaced by zirconium cladding. The impact of hydrogen being formed during the meltdown of a zirconium clad core was later judged to be non-catastrophic from the point of view that the containment wouldn't be destroyed. But that's about it. There were clear warnings that the destruction of the building around the containment would make handling the situation much more difficult, and of course all of the material that would otherwise be trapped in the building is released in the explosion and subsequent (uncontrolled) venting of the containment. But since such accidents were judged to be unlikely, nothing was done about those outcomes at least in the USA and Japan.

To prevent such outcomes, you need filters installed to vent the containment. While they vent the same stuff that escaped from Fukushima Daiichi, they also scrub at least 99.99% of the Cs and 99% of iodine from the stream/hydrogen/aerosol mixture before releasing it to the atmosphere. (That can be tested. From the filter-point-view it doesn't matter wether the stuff is radioactive or not, so you just use ordinary Cs or I for testing purposes.) Filters always come equipped with hydrogen recombiners (you don't want your filter to explode), which can also be installed in the rest of the containment building. Both has been required by law for more than 20 years in Germany and France - and in Japan since last year.

Comment: Re:The less-energy-for-poor-countries "solution" (Score 1) 385

Solar power is reliably absent for 12 hours of the day and marginal for another 4-6 hours. Wind is reliably unreliable in just about any place with human habitation for at least half of the year. And that is not a political problem, but a simple problem of being unable to sustain power production and anythng you might want to do with that power. Of course, all those problems are on top of the fact that they cost more than the alternatives.

Comment: Re:The less-energy-for-poor-countries "solution" (Score 1) 385

You go to a developing country and tell them they're fine. They don't need development. They don't need electricity unlike all the developed countries.

And what is all the "suffering" you're talking about? You mean like New Orleans where all the politicians were too corrupt to build a couple of levees for a few tens of million dollars, even though engineers had warned them for decades in advance that the city will be flooded the next time cat 3 hurricanes comes along? Or do you mean hurricane Sandy that was a cat. 0 hurrican in New York and nobody was prepared, even though real cat.2 and cat. 3 hurricanes hit the city in 1938, 1896, 1869, 1821 and 1815 and nobody bothered preparing for the next time that would happen for the only reason that the last time was so long ago? Or do you mean hurricane Haiyan that was the third time the city of Tacloban was leveled by a hurricane, after 1898 and 1912? Do you mean the floods in Pakistan in 2010, that were lower than those of 1929? Or do you mean a couple of mild droughts that are the "worst" since the 1950ies, deliberately leaving out the dust bowl in the 1930ies? Or the droughts in California that ignore the geological record? Or do you mean the droughts on the atolls that weren't brought about by lack of rain, but by a three to fivefold increase of population (and thus water consumption) in the last 50 years?

What suffering do you mean?

Comment: The less-energy-for-poor-countries "solution" (Score 1) 385

I'm absolutely sure that you can reduce emissions that way. But at what cost?

Power plants are not being built for fun, they actually serve a purpose, namely that of generating electricity in places that need electricity. In the world today, that happens mainly in places where electricity is scarce and absolutely needed to get out of poverty. It so happens to be the case that fossil power plants are much less expensive on a per-kWh basis and far more reliable than wind and solar. Hydro is a serious competitor but it doesn't matter where you want to build a hydrodam, there will always be greenpeace or some other transnational pseudo-environmental outfit that will organize protests for whatever madeup reason without any sort of constructive suggestions or criticism at all. (To pick the most recent example, Chile could have replaced some 20% of electricity generation with hydro, but protests against the dam prevented it.)

What happens when you invest the money that currently goes to fossil power plants into "renewables" like solar or wind? (Which are the only ones left for the most part.) You'll have less power. You'll have a completely unreliable supply of power. Sure that "solves" the problem, but only if you pretent that electricity really isn't necessary. Which is what our so-called enviromentalists tend to think, because they live in countries where there has never been such a problem.

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries