Wednesday, March 23, 2011

As the Wind Blows


As Eli was explaining to James at the Empty Blog, the bunny was innocently (well, somewhat) sitting in Toyland (a local bar complete with Lego) snarfing down an IPA when a hyper under thirties at the bar went on and on about how she was laying in the ever trusty iodine pills. This, of course, in Washington, DC, half a world away.

Well it was happy hour so Eli drank his beer. Even the bunny can't save the world without a second beer but Eli can tell them about Hysplit, an on line trajectory model from the NOAA Air Resources Labs that lets you run trajectories, oh from 37.233 N 141.015 E, which is guess where.


As the image says, this is not a NOAA product, and whether you believe it depends on your view of Eli. OTOH, you can get all sorts of software package versions to do various this and that. An interesting gadget which Eli must bring with him to Toyland (5th and H NE)

20 comments:

John said...

I can understand why the bunnies were drinking beer:
to wash down the iodide capsules!!

Timothy Chase said...

I asked my pharmacist if they were getting a run on iodide. Sure enough. I thought, "Why those self-centered... Don't they realize virtually nothing will make it across the Pacific Ocean?" Turns out there was even a run in Great Britain -- which made even less sense to me.

That was before I had the chance to see what Gregory Jaczko had to say about it.

You will remember he was the guy who said that the problem with the reactors was much more serious than the Japanese government was letting on:

"First, there appears to be disagreement between U.S. and Japanese authorities on the appropriate response to the crisis -- and also possibly on the severity of what has happened. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a congressional committee today that 'the NRC made a recommendation that based on the available information that we have, that for a comparable situation in the United States we would recommend an evacuation to a much larger radius than has currently been provided in Japan.'"

WEDNESDAY, MAR 16, 2011 17:09 ET
U.S. escalates warning on Japan nuclear crisis
http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/16/japan_us_disagreement_nuclear

He thinks conditions in Japan are serious -- but with the Pacific Ocean separating us from Japan we have little to fear ourselves:

"Those fears—which spiked briefly amid news reports of west coast residents making a run on potassium iodide pills to protect against radiation—were quickly debunked in much of the media. As Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an NPR story from March 18: 'Basic physics suggest little risk to anyone in the United States.'"

PEJ News Coverage Index: March 14-20, 2011
The Media Careen from Radiation in Japan to War in Libya
http://www.journalism.org/index_report/pej_news_coverage_index_march_1420_2011

The Japanese are the ones that really need the potassium iodide. Not us. Heck -- a run over here could only make the medicine more difficult to come by for the people that might actually be affected. Like the residents of Tokyo -- who are uncomfortably close to the reactors.

Dallas said...

I knew I should have invested in fallout shelter stock!

http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/22/real_estate/doomsday_bunkers/index.htm

Steve Bloom said...

Bumpersticker slogan idea: "Panic effectively"

Shouldn't that be ~140E, Eli?

EliRabett said...

Steve: Yes...

Dallas, fallout shelters are so 1960s. Today the hutches have safe rooms

John said...

Timothy Chase:

You asked about Gregory Jaczko, chair of the NRC. He does have a physics background: undergrad degree in physics from Cornell, doctorate from Wisconsin (Madison) in theoretical particle physics. Served as assistant to Sen. Harry Reid. Not much background in nuclear engineering or health physics, but I suppose he could have picked it up on the side.

Eli:
Didja see there's a new movie coming out. It's about you. "Hop" is the movie. Check out www.iwantcandy.com

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what emmissions Eli is expecting to come from the Hirono Thermal Power plant at 37.233 N 141.015 E.
Might be more dangerous substances coming from 37.421 N 141.033 E

Johnno

David B. Benson said...

Johnno --- Coal is dirty stuff, so mercury, cadmium and yes, even uranium!

Anonymous said...

Too true David. But more local sources could prabably be found near Toyland.

Johnno

timothychase said...

John wrote, "You asked about Gregory Jaczko, chair of the NRC...."

Actually I hadn't asked about him. As the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission I figured he knew what he was talking about.

PhD in theoretical particle physics? I don't think he would have to acquaint himself with too much literature to know what he is talking about here. And as the chair of the NRC I would assume he has access to an expert or two if needed.

david lewis said...

Jaczko is coming under fire (eg http://theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/54083/fukushima-nuclear-crisis-unwrapped ) - people are asking on what data did he base his decision, and why did he disagree publicly with Japanese authority given that there was potential for panic. Nature reports (http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110317/full/news.2011.168.html ) that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization was providing daily data to all its member states, i.e. the US, that Swedish authority publicly interpreted the day after Jaczko testified to Congress, as a composition of radionuclides over Japan that was at the time Jaczko testified consistent with a conclusion opposite to Jaczko's, i.e. no kablooie, i.e. no meltdowns or dry pools yet.

And bear in mind there are credible authorities, such as Ted Rockwell, technical director of Rickover's program that built the first commercial reactor in the world way way back coauthored a Science article in 2002 (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/297/5589/1997.citation) stating a Chernobyl type release was "not a credible possibility" from an American design in a containment ( see also http://theenergycollective.com/david-lewis/53526/meltdown-japan-how-bad-can-it-get ).

david lewis said...

If the end of the world was not about to come from reactor blowout, what about the pools? The nuke industry has not had a scenario involving a pool going dry top of mind. After 9/11 Homeland Security asked the NAS to think about it given the pools are not in containments and terrorists blundering around with 747s might hit one if they had a big enough supply of planes. If a pool full of rods that went dry was the end of the world and the people on the ground believed things could possibly come to that, the wider evacuation Jaczko ordered appears justified. The defenses were down to one wall of one pool had apparently "fallen away" leaving only the stainless steel liner holding the water in, but water was still there. The public study on pool accidents, NAS NRC 2006 (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11263#toc) says computer simulations that the panel viewed as a "start for understanding the behavior of spent fuel pools in severe environments" which had serious limitations such as "the computer models have not been validated for this application", and "the thermal analysis experts on the committee judge that these simplistic assumptions could produce results that are more severe (i.e. over conservative) than would be the case had more realistic assumptions been used", indicated that "some" of the release estimates provided by a 2003 study ( http://www.irss-usa.org/pages/documents/11_1Alvarez.pdf) saying the big bad event could be forthcoming from a dry pool "should not be dismissed". The big bad event was described by Alvarez was a "worse than Chernobyl" thing where 10 - 100% of the worst fission product in the pool, a cesium isotope, enters the air as a vapor and blows away from the plant wherever the wind goes, which could be "hundreds of miles" downwind which means Tokyo at risk, which threatened "tens of thousands of square km of land lost" due to becoming uninhabitable, depending on how you view unusually high background radiation levels, "hundreds of billions" of dollars lost, and a death estimate that really depends on how well your evacuation goes. A frustrating thing about this report is when discussion gets juicy they "classified" it.

After this I believe the supercomputers will be given a new task - what happens when a pool goes dry. Or at least they should be given this task rather than shutting down a lot of US reactors because of
people's fears. Ten years of German solar subsidy costing $40 billion produced about one reactor's worth of low carbon electricity for their grids. A 1 in 1000 year event hit the Japanese reactor fleet (http://www.world-science.org/forum/unearthing-ancient-tsunamis-brian-atwater/ ) and it came out killing no one it seems. (see this opinion piece from Oz, http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/cancer-deaths-in-japan-will-be-from-alcohol-and-ciggies/ ). And maybe there really never was the threat that was regarded as about to happen all during the crisis.

Dot said...

Actually, David Lewis here.

What that comment up there follows on from is a previous comment I tried to put in but some bug or small animal in the system (rabbit?) trapped it and may have eaten it. And so read this first, then read the above:

Jaczko is coming under fire (eg http://theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/54083/fukushima-nuclear-crisis-unwrapped ) - people are asking on what data did he base his decision, and why did he disagree publicly with Japanese authority given that there was potential for panic. Nature reports (http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110317/full/news.2011.168.html ) that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization was providing daily data to all its member states, i.e. the US, that Swedish authority publicly interpreted the day after Jaczko testified to Congress, as a composition of radionuclides over Japan that was consistent with a conclusion opposite to Jaczko's, i.e. no kablooie, i.e. meltdowns or dry pools as of the date Jaczko was blithering on about how there was a dry pool.


Bear in mind there are credible authorities, such as Ted Rockwell, technical director of Rickover's US Navy program that built the first commercial reactor in the world way way back when, who coauthored a Science article in 2002 (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/297/5589/1997.citation) which stated a Chernobyl type release was "not a credible possibility" from an American design in a containment ( see also http://theenergycollective.com/david-lewis/53526/meltdown-japan-how-bad-can-it-get ).

EliRabett said...

David, take it from Eli, the world will still not end, Eli grew up in the 1950s when bunnies huddled under their desks in schools.

Dot said...

I hear the US government advised bunnies at that time that the best way to protect oneself from nuclear explosion was not to be in the vicinity when one blew up.

J Bowers said...

MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub

News Updates, March 26

Plant Status

The IAEA has shared that as of 05:15 UTC, Japanese authorities reported the following about the conditions of the six reactors:

Unit 1: Workers have restored lighting in the control room, and recovered the ability to use some instrumentation. As of March 25, fresh water is being pumped into the pressure vessel instead of seawater, in an effort to minimize corrosion.

Unit 2: Seawater injection continues and pressure in the reactor vessel is stable.

Unit 3: Workers are pumping fresh water into the reactor vessel, and seawater into the spent fuel pool. Fire fighters sprayed water into the building from outside yesterday.

Unit 4: Workers used a concrete truck to pour water into the spent fuel pool, while simultaneously pumping seawater through the spent fuel pool’s own coolant system.

Units 5 and 6: Both reactors are in cold shutdown, with fuel pool temperatures stabilized at acceptable levels.
__________________________________________________________________

Reposition Pacific Rim backup generators four floors high, and treat them with the same respect that you would a reactor. Don't put used fuel pools anywhere near the reactors. Skimping on the pennies can end up costing you dollars, and your job. Just IMHO.

J Bowers said...

Whoops, should have ended:

Reposition Pacific Rim backup generators four floors high, and treat them with the same respect that you would a reactor. Don't put used fuel pools anywhere near the reactors, and treat them with the same respect that you would a reactor. Skimping on the pennies can end up costing you dollars, and your job. Just IMHO.

EliRabett said...

Dot. Eli took to heart Nikita Kruschchev's point, that after a nuclear war the living would envy the dead. There were many bad dreams.

Timothy Chase said...

Response to david lewis, part 1 of 2

david lewis (lower case in the original) wrote, "Jaczko is coming under fire..."

David, don't know if you were responding to me, but my specific point was with respect to Jaczko's knowing enough to say that the radiation being released by the reactors and drying spent rod pools poses little threat to the US West Coast. He would simply have to know what the radiation levels are or may be in Japan, how the radioactive material would dispersed by atmospheric circulation once the material reached to and what levels would be considered safe here. Nothing particularly complicated as far as I am aware.

Didn't mean to suggest that his estimation of the danger posed to US citizens in Japan (or I would presume the Japanese) is correct. Even if Japanese officials have been "moving in his direction."

Please see:

"'The situation still requires caution,' Mr. Kan, grave and tired-looking, told the nation. 'Our measures are aimed at preventing the circumstances from getting worse.' The authorities said that they would now assist people who wanted to leave the area from 12 to 19 miles outside the plant, and that they were now encouraging 'voluntary evacuation' from the area.

"Those people had been advised March 15 to remain indoors, while those within a 12-mile radius of the plant had been ordered to evacuate. The United States has recommended that its citizens stay at least 50 miles away."

Japan Encourages a Wider Evacuation From Reactor Area
By Hiroko Tabuchi, Keith Bradsher and David Jolly, March 25, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/world/asia/26japan.html

Furthermore, the reactor design being used here have been the subject of criticism for quite some time.

Please see:

"G.E. began making the Mark 1 boiling-water reactors in the 1960s, marketing them as cheaper and easier to build — in part because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure.

"American regulators began identifying weaknesses very early on.

"In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks."

Experts Had Long Criticized Potential Weakness in Design of Stricken Reactor
By Tom Zeller Jr.
Published: March 15, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16contain.html
*
david lewis wrote, "If the end of the world was not about to come from reactor blowout, what about the pools? The nuke industry has not had a scenario involving a pool going dry top of mind.... If a pool full of rods that went dry was the end of the world and the people on the ground believed things could possibly come to that, the wider evacuation Jaczko ordered appears justified...."

I understand the desire of those supporting climate science to view nuclear fission as a credible alternative to the burning of fossil fuel. I can even understand the desire on their part to argue against a strawman where everyone who isn't especially taken with nuclear energy is seriously afraid that what is happening in Japan might mean the end of the world -- although I must say that resorting to this inspires about as much confidence in nuclear energy as the news that has been coming out of Japan. Personally, I wouldn't entirely rule out nuclear energy as part of the climate solution. Don't know enough. But I do have to question the wisdom of relying so heavily upon nuclear energy in such a densely populated country that is subject to volcanism, tsunamis and so prone to earthquakes.

Timothy Chase said...

Response to david lewis, part 2 of 2

david lewis (lower case in the original) wrote, "Jaczko is coming under fire (eg http://theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/54083/fukushima-nuclear-crisis-unwrapped ) - people are asking on what data did he base his decision, and why did he disagree publicly with Japanese authority given that there was potential for panic."

Maybe he knew something of the history of accidents and cover-ups that have plagued the Japanese nuclear industry.

Please see:

"Behind Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses.

"Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all."

Bungling, cover-ups define Japanese nuclear power
By Yuri Kageyama (AP) – Mar 17, 2011
http://www.webcitation.org/5xVoSwQjU
http://www.japantoday.com/category/commentary/view/bungling-cover-ups-define-tepco

... and:

"As this timeline shows, the readiness of Japan's reactors to survive major seismic events has been a growing concern. What's more, the nation's entire industry – not just TEPCO – has an undistinguished history of nuclear accidents and a poor record for transparency when things go wrong...."

Japan's record of nuclear cover-ups and accidents
Updated 18:13 23 March 2011 by Peter Aldhous and Zena Iovino
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20263-japans-record-of-nuclear-coverups-and-accidents.html