Thursday, July 04, 2013

Nuclear Meltdown at The Nation

The July 8/15 issue of The Nation features a dialog between journalist Mark Hertsgaard and writer and activist Terry Tempest Williams, discussing a recent pro-nuclear-power film, Pandora's Promise.

The article is headlined

Pandora's Terrifying Promise: Can Nuclear Power Save the Planet?

I won't review the entire article here, but will zero in on Hertsgaard's claim that

Germany, the world's fourth-largest economy, is well on the way to leaving nuclear and fossil fuels behind as it embraces a panoply of noncarbon energy sources.

What is really happening in Germany? Back in 2011, two Der Spiegel journalists, Laura Gitschier and Alexander Neubacher (G&N) refuted Hertsgaard's claim, under the headline

Greenwashing after the Phase-Out: German 'Energy Revolution' Depends on Nuclear Imports.

G&N go on to say that

Germany's decision to phase out its nuclear plants by 2022 has rapidly transformed it from power exporter to importer. Despite Berlin's pledge to move away from nuclear, the country is now merely buying atomic energy from neighbors like the Czech Republic and France.

G&N also report that Germany also imports electrical power from Poland, whose electricity is "generated from brown coal in Europe's dirtiest CO2-belching facilities."

Contrast these facts with Hertsgaard's claim that "Germany is well on the way to leaving nuclear and fossil fuels behind".

Hertsgaard clearly doesn't understand what is actually happening in Germany in the last few years.

What really made my hair stand up on end was when Hertsgaard wrote

"If our options really were as simple as Pandora's Promise maintains - either go nuclear or incinerate the planet with more coal - it'd be a tough call."

A tough call? Really??

According to his website, Hertsgaard has written for Vanity Fair, The Nation, Time, The New Yorker, NPR, Die Zeit, and Le Monde Diplomatique. He is the environmental correspondent for The Nation.

The Nation deserves credit for raising the issue of nuclear power and climate change.

The Spiegel story is available in English for those of us who don't understand German.

168 comments:

Russell Seitz said...

Journalists who divide their time between Vanity Fair and The Nation risk falling into the journalistic spectrum midway between red and green.

Neven said...

"Back in 2011"

Gee, what year are we living in now?

Here's something from last month:

Kemfert argues that a loose coalition of neo-liberal politicos, conventional energy companies, and energy-intensive industries are pulling out the stops to discredit the Energiewende. Their bending and twisting of the truth has been hugely successful in the course of two years, she writes, turning a population that had been understandably frightened of nuclear power to one wrongly frightened of the Energiewende itself. The battery of pseudo-arguments include stoking fears about run-away costs, the danger of blackouts, the unreliability of PV and wind power, the undermining of German industry, the complexity of connecting new transmission grids, and other red herrings. Kemfert debunks them one after another, and traces their source back to the mighty fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies, who are fighting a rear-guard battle – and this very effectively, Kemfert argues, as they’ve manage to stop this government’s progress on progressive energy policies in its tracks.

Be careful, John. There's a lot of propaganda (from high quality media sources such as Der Spiegel) because renewables are killing coal in Germany, especially when the Sun shines bright around noon. What is true, is that they really need to upgrade their grid.

And of course we need to get off of nuclear, unless it's Gen IV. That's only logical.

GRLCowan said...

Germany is now a net exporter of electricity. In 2012, according to https://www.entsoe.eu/db-query/exchange/electricity-exchange-of-a-specific-range-of-time/ , it imported 1.416 gigawatts from France, but its exports to other countries summed with this made a net export of 1.93 GW.

According to http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/green-energy-bust-in-germany the increase in electricity production is being driven by a surcharge of 5.3 euro-cents per kilowatt-hour on all electricity except that consumed by large industrial users.

According to http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/how-fast-are-the-costs-of-solar-really-coming-down/ , the surcharge is $0.069/kWh, and is expected to increase again to $0.079 next year.

Florifulgurator said...

Wow. Quting the SPIEGEL on energy is as mightily naive as quoting it on climate science...
1) In 2011 Germany's total electricity export/import balance was 3.7TWh export, if you count the whole year. That's down from 16.9TWh in 2010, due to the missing nukes.
2) Quoting stuff from 2011 is a bit behind the time, given the speed of change in German energy.

Martin Gisser

Florifulgurator said...

This is really ridiculous classic coal/nuke propaganda.

Interesting counterexample: In the cold February of 2012 nuclear France was saved from blackouts by imports from UK and Germany (the energy minister was quick to stress that they imported more from UK (yet just a little more)). French energy system is notoriously shaky despite (or perhaps because of) their having 80% nuclear. E.g. in 2009 they had to switch off the Eiffel tower lights.

Neven said...

France has no clue about what they're going to do about their nuclear waste.

A couple of months back I translated a news programme on this issue. They decommissioned their first nuclear reactor 20 years ago, but aren't even halfway cleaning things up. The reactor will have to be dismantled with some technology that still has to be invented. Clean-up was projected to cost 25 million euros, but has already surpassed 500 million euros.

Who's paying for that? Not those stupid greenwashing Energiewende-Krauts, that's fer sure.

---

BTW, John, how does Eli feel about you pulling a Kloor on Rabett Run? ;-) :-P

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Der Spiegel, and Alexander Neubacher in particular, for years presents a very peculiar point of view on the subject of energiewende. Very negative and often twisting the story to fit the narrative.

In all seriousness, I think it shows a lack of knowledge about trustworthy sources when someone quotes Der Spiegel on energiewende questions.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

Gen IV reactors are expensive vaporware.

Neven said...

Could be, but in theory they're the only decent nuclear technology. Gen II and III are psychopathic.

Martin Vermeer said...

It's a complicated picture. Having been in Germany and following the German-language media, I can report that there is a spirit similar to what must have existed in the States after Kennedy's commitment to the Moon landing: the're going to pull it off, come hell or high water. And not just among greenies: it's a national thing.

Of course there are vested interests trying to confuse the issue, and elections coming up in September. And real issues...

To get a taste:

This, this

Florifulgurator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Florifulgurator said...

It's not only vested interests like RWE (who have bought the infamous Fritz Vahrenholt and perhaps convinced some clueless SPIEGEL reporters).
There's also higher management laggardness and cluelessness combined with megalomania, as I witnessed at the less criminal E.ON last year, where things are decided without asking their experts, who are seen as "Kopfkosten" (head costs) only.

Still it seems in Germany things are going way more effective and less corrupted than in the U.S.

David B. Benson said...

More untruths about matters nuclear, this time from Hertsgaard. I'll only mention: plutonium created by a nuclear power plant is the wrong isotope for making a bomb; one would just obtain a fizzle; the Indians obtained their bomb plutonium in a largish research reactor, not a power reactor.

David B. Benson said...

Gen III reactors are certainly safe enough; about 100 times safer than eating peanut butter:
http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter8.html

Russia has at least one Gen IV power reactor, is building another and has plans for a third. GE- Hitcahi has complete, detailed plans for the Gen IV S-PRISM as this is just a modern version of the EBR-II which ran without any problems for 30 years.

John Baez said...

Will Boisvert has an interesting article on energy in Germany, full of numbers. A quote:

"The Energiewende is building as much coal and gas capacity as it is wind and solar capacity—more, in fact, by the proper metric of average capacity. In 2012 Germany commissioned new coal-fired generators with combined nameplate power of 2.9 GW, which can run at capacity factors of 80% or better. That’s an average capacity of perhaps 2.3 GW—nearly twice as much as all the solar and wind power added in 2012. According to utility consortium BdeW, another 4.6 GW of coal power will come on line this year. Of a planned 42.5 GW of major power plants to be built by 2020, including offshore wind, pumped storage, hydro, and biomass, fully two-thirds—28.5 GW—will be new coal and gas generators. Taking into account their high capacity factors, in 2020 these new fossil-fueled plants will have more average capacity than all of Germany’s wind and solar generators combined. Partly they will replace older, dirtier coal plants, but there will be an overall expansion; a study by the German Energy Agency forecasts a net rise in coal and gas capacity from 76 GW in 2010 to 83 GW in 2030."

Steve Bloom said...

Re Spiegel, I've certainly noted them engaging in Daily Mail-style climate denial over the last five years or so.

David, power reactors can easily be subverted to produce weaponizable Pu or U, albeit at some cost of efficiency.

Anonymous said...

Price per kWh for exports is also higher then for imports

http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-power-exports-more-valuable-than-imports/150/537/61663/

Jan

Anonymous said...

John Baez, what Will Boisvert has left out of his writing is that the new coal plants in Germany are built to replace old inflexible/inefficient coal plants. An important detail that begs the question why it was overlooked?

The old (soon to be closed) and new plants overlap for a short period but the total coal capacity will eventually not change much by these new additions.

--cynicus

Martin Vermeer said...

...and, cynicus, don't forget that capacity is not the same as generation. GW != TWh.

At this stage renewables replace almost one-for-one the TWh, i.e., fuel burned, AKA CO2 emitted. The climate doesn't care how many fossil back-up plants stand still ;-)

A rather essential point, don't you think?

Martin Vermeer said...

David, power reactors can easily be subverted to produce weaponizable Pu or U, albeit at some cost of efficiency.

Yep, in my understanding it's only a matter of taking out the fuel rods more frequently, before the 'poisonous' Pu-240 accumulates.

BTW I'll believe nuclear power is safe when the UN Security Council loses interest in Iran's "nuclear power programme"

Anonymous said...

Martin Vermeer, indeed: capacity does not equal generation. Coal and gas plants can run 80% of the time but increasingly renewables force these offline, especially gas.

Another detail is that over the past year soon-to-be-decommissioned old coal plants have been running @ full load to benefit from the low carbon/coal/capital costs. Some somehow argue that this temporary situation proves that the energiewende does not decrease carbon emissions.

BTW, afaik, not one country has produced nuclear bombs from civil power reactors but from 'research' reactors instead. Why go the hard way when there is an easy one...

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/France/#.UdaqeRZtuS0

Martin Vermeer said...

...and if you're happy with a uranium bomb, forget about any kind of reactor: all you need is an ultracentrifuge array. Civilian technology that too

Florifulgurator said...

Testing crappy software eating my comments and time...

Florifulgurator said...

On Will Boisvert's article mentioned by John:
1) The rethoric paints a different picture than the numbers. Example: "the 10 GW of wind and solar nameplate capacity added in 2012 really amounted to a measly 1.24 GW of average capacity. Compare that with the average capacity of, say, the Brokdorf nuclear reactor, whose 1.37 GW nameplate capacity would have an average capacity of 1.28 GW, generating as much carbon-free electricity as all the wind turbines and solar panels commissioned in 2012."
So, Germany built the equivalent of 1 big nuke in one year, as renewable average capacity. Who (except perhaps China) builds one real nuke per year? And, of course the average capacity of intermittent wind and solar is naturally lower than the average capacity of fossil/nuclear baseload generation. This is nothing surprising.
2) What Boisvert (like any other nuke fan) forgets to mention is subsidies to nuclear power. There are/were massive direct subsidies, plus there are indirect subsidies. What about waste storage? What about decomissioning old nukes?
3) Regarding the dangers of nuclear power: Sure, coal plants kill and poison many more people. Has anybody any experience with aging and leaking nuclear waste repositories? Germany has: The Asse repository has a saltwater intrusion problem and contaminates groundwater. Official cleanup cost estimate is 4-6bn€ (and don't be surprised when it turns out more). Here we got the real danger and some of the hidden costs of nuclear power.
4) Regarding the costs of nuclear: Just read the news about current constructions, e.g. in Finland. And then there is the decomissioning and cleanup of old reactors (Neven mentioned a French case). Not quite cheap.
5) His all-nuclear scenario can't work: There are fast daily fluctuations of electricity demand. Nukes are too slow to edge these out. Nuclear power is for baseload only. That's why you need other sources, like hydro, gas turbines, and fastest of all (gasp!) photovoltaics, which can be switched on and off within milliseconds without exploding or melting the machine. My rough pictorial estimate for an industrial nation: max. 30% nuclear. Above 50% you get problems like the French.

(Actually I'm all for nuclear power, but it needs to be serious GenIV to eat all the waste from the old contraptions. And that's the major reason for nuclear.)

Florifulgurator said...

Main problem is currently that grid construction lags behind. (See Martin Vermeer's first link for the fascinating technical challenges of the badly needed HVDC backbone.) Here's one reason for usage of coal and nat gas - to balance the grid. It happens that there's lots of wind in the North, and then a coal plant needs to be fired up in the South to balance the grid.

What's also lagging behind is making the market adequately price reserve capacity and storage. The distinction between production and grid balancing seems not yet clear to industry. E.g. 1) E.ON owns the world's most efficient (60%) gas turbine plant. But it's no longer economic in the usual sense, for its real use should be grid load balancing. So E.ON wanted to close it. Meanwhile there seems to be an informal political solution, and grid operator Tennet pays E.ON some millions. 2) E.ON scrapped a pumped hydro project 2012. We need of course more of it. Currently that job is mostly done by Switzerland and Austria. But Bavaria has mountains, too. 3) As of January E.ON management seems to have no clue about the importance of precise daily load and renewable production prognosis (which was my short job for E.ON Bavaria last year...).

So, German Energiewende hasn't solved all problems yet. Plus, it needs to be a European project, actually, to average out wind/sun fluctuations. But the ship is full steam and maximum speed: It took some decades and some subsidies to build all the nukes. Now renewable energry is built faster, and I guess it's not much more expensive. I'm still waiting for complete numbers of the costs of nuclear, including storage, decomissioning, and military subsidies.

(Ugh sorry for lots of text. Now I go offline for weekend.)

Hank Roberts said...

"Podoloski advani" is a spambot.
Google it.

Russell Seitz said...

Der Spiegel is harder to classify than Steve Bloom implies- at once vernacular and pretentious .On the one hand it employs serious investigative journalists, on the other it takes both popular culture and the Frankfurt School at face value, with occasionally weird results.

Martin Vermeer said...

(Actually I'm all for nuclear power, but it needs to be serious GenIV to eat all the waste from the old contraptions. And that's the major reason for nuclear.)

Actually I think one has to know when to throw in the towel. Nuclear power has now had over half a century plus to show its mettle, seriously subsidized along the way, and being a major share of electrical power in several countries. And come 2013 it still cannot compete...

What I do think is that existing power plants should continue to run as long as is technically defensible. Closing plants prematurely as Germany is doing, is major capital destruction, throwing away money for nothing. And those running plants' GWhs continue to replace one-for-one fossil fuel generated GWhs with their emissions.

Postponing their closure is also good because the cost of decommissioning will not depend much on how long the reactor has run -- actually I would expect technological progress in robotics to make decommissioning easier with time.

And as for the fissionables in old waste, just bite the bullet and extract them by reprocessing. That doesn't "eat all the waste" -- no, not even GenIV does that -- but addresses the risky bit.

GRLCowan said...

Martin Gisser asks,

Has anybody any experience with aging and leaking nuclear waste repositories?

This seems to present a strength as a weakness. We have much experience with nuclear waste repositories.

In the case of nuclear power waste caches, we have five cubic-miles-oil-equivalent experience, none of it the least bit discouraging.

The arithmetic of spent fuel radioactivity diminution is such that if imperial Rome had been nuclear-powered, and archeologists had dug up their spent fuel rods, some of these would now be on display in museums, walked past by bored but unendangered schoolchildren on school trips.

~1995 years earlier, Romans might have posed like this: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152583249985451.

If I recall correctly, the gamma-ray intensity those cask walls are protecting them is 1800 times more at 5 years than at 2000. The cask walls definitely have to be there.

Five years before that, the rods would have been as they are in the photo of man pretending to tow the boat here: 1000 times more active again.

I notice the same commentator who calls conventional, life-saving Gen II nuclear "psychopathic" here has a Yamal-to-the-rescue article. Not its first rescue.

Jay Alt said...

4.02.13 WSJ: Germany Remains a Net Power Exporter in 2012 Despite Nuclear Exit

Germany exported about 22.8 terrawatt-hours of electricity more than it imported in 2012, the Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Tuesday in a written statement.

How much is that? French large reactor complexes often feature 4 units rated at 1.3 GW. Such a complex, Cattenom, produces 34 TW-hr annually.

The German exports therefore amount to the annual output from 2.7 such large reactors.

Neven said...

Hey, I never said psychopaths can't occasionally save lives!

David B. Benson said...

Steve Bloom & Martin Vermeer --- I believe you are wrong on several accounts, but I am now going to go have dinner with an expert. He is a retired physicist who was a consultant for GAO regarding Hanford operations. Before that he worked for General Atomics for about a decade.

quokka said...

In an above comment it is claimed that "France has no clue about what they're going to do about their nuclear waste."

This claim has every appearance of belonging in the "just making stuff up bucket" as is fairly evident from this report:

Plans for the Cigéo facility to dispose of radioactive waste at Bure in France have reached the stage of final public consultation.


As also reported, and in contradiction to claims above, EDF get to pay for disposal of it's nuclear waste and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. About EUR 40 billion is currently set aside for that purpose.

For me, encountering the constant repetition of false claims from the anti-nuke crowd was a major factor in abandoning my former (moderate) opposition to nuclear power. If the case is strong, then resorting to this kind of stuff is not necessary. Climate science may well be difficult but the energy problem is only just short of intractable. Dealing with it on anything less than an evidential basis is not acceptable.

David B. Benson said...

I just finished having a pleasant dinner with George Hinman, who certainly knows his matters nuclear. He thinks it would be extremely difficult to make unpoisoned bomb grade plutonium in an ordinary light water reactor.

I will also point out that there are currently about 70 power reactors under construction around the world with at least another 100 in various planning and site preparation stages.

David B. Benson said...

A 1996 interview with Dr. Till, co-inventor of the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor):
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/till.html
valuable reading for those interested in matters nuclear.

Anonymous said...

Re quokka: "For me, encountering the constant repetition of false claims from the anti-nuke crowd was a major factor in abandoning my former (moderate) opposition to nuclear power."

It would take at least a thousand years of silence from the pro-nuke crowd for the anti-nukes to even begin to catch up to the pile of constantly repeated false claims accumulated by the nuclear power industry. It would take decades at least of TEPCO silence for the anti-nuclear crowd to catch up to the constant stream of false claims TEPCO has made since the Fukushima meltdowns. It's a virtual certainty that any statement by TEPCO should be assumed to be a flat-out lie. You might be right that nuclear power has a role to play, but go tell TEPCO that "dealing with it on anything less than an evidential basis is not acceptable."

There is precious little that has been told to the public by the US nuclear power industry or by the NRC, its toothless lap-dog, that can be relied upon. The nuclear power industry is simply incapable of telling the truth about anything that affects their bottom line and has zero credibility.

Re: George Hinman, if he's so damn good, why hasn't he cleaned up Hanford?

Neven said...

In an above comment it is claimed that "France has no clue about what they're going to do about their nuclear waste."

This claim has every appearance of belonging in the "just making stuff up bucket" as is fairly evident from this report:


I don't know how good your French is, but according to the French Wikipedia page for nuclear dismantling cleaning up their 68 nuclear installations will cost tens of billions of euros. But this, of course, is the estimation from EDF. Other reports speak of hundreds of billions to trillions of euros.

Remember, cleaning up Brennilis which started in 1985 (still not done 30 years later, not even half way) has already cost more than 20 times what the owner of the nuclear plant had estimated.

They badly need some robots over in France. But who will be paying? Are these costs already accounted for in the price of nuclear energy? And more important: are EDF's shareholders happy? And most important of all: will nuclear saves of from the hardship of having to do something about overconsumption and overpopulation? Can it solve the symptoms of the illness?

Neven said...

Correction: "will nuclear save us from the hardship of having to do something about overconsumption and overpopulation?"

Anonymous said...

Like Josef Oehmen, Der Spiegel is hardly the definitive source for information on nuclear issues (though some at Rabett Run seem to believe otherwise)

This is supposed to be a "science blog", right?

quokka said...

In a 2012 estimate the European commission placed the decommissioning cost at between EUR 160-900 million per reactor unit

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/downloads/events/20120911-decommissioning/jrc_20120911_decommissioning_vesselina_ranguelova.pdf

All of France's 58 operational power reactors are PWRs. PWRs at Maine Yankee and Connecticut Yankee have been decommissioned to greenfield status at a cost of $635 million and $820 million respectively giving real world actual numbers for decommissioning PWR projects.

These numbers are also in broad agreement with IEA estimates of 15-20% of the capital cost.

"Other reports" of "hundreds of billions or trillions" are wild hand waving.

And no, costs of cleanup at Hanford or the rather infamous buildings B30 and B31 at Sellafield are not representative of light water technology decommissioning costs. Completely different technology and engineering from a previous era. In particular a lot of the costs in the UK are due to Magnox reactors and fuel. One of the downsides of Magnox (which alone would almost certainly prohibit it's use ever again) is the lack of integrity of the fuel cladding which corrodes in water releasing fission products. This is the sole reason for the mess in B30 and B31. Such is the price paid for being a pioneer and haste in producing Pu for weapons. Neither of these factors are true today for civilian nuclear power.



Martin Vermeer said...

This is worth watching

yea-mon said...

On 5/7/13 8:55 PM Anonymous said...

It would take at least a thousand years of silence from the pro-nuke crowd for the anti-nukes to even begin to catch up to the pile of constantly repeated false claims accumulated by the nuclear power industry. It would take decades at least of TEPCO silence for the anti-nuclear crowd to catch up to the constant stream of false claims TEPCO has made since the Fukushima meltdowns.

Do you have any examples of these 'false claims'? Living in Japan I have come across a lot of misunderstanding in the press over TEPCO updates on the situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi that supersede earlier ones, due to the evolving situation there. The press seems to think that this reflects lies, and don't seem to understand that constant updates with new information are to be expected in this situation. It also does not help that there seems to be little or no scientific journalism in Japan.

Anonymous said...

"constant updates with new information are to be expected in this situation"


So, you are saying why posit lying when when it could be that TEPCO simply (STILL, over a year later) has no clue what is going on in the reactors?

Is the latter supposed to give us all a warm and fuzzy feeling about Fukushima in particular and nuclear power in general?

Thanks for assuring like everything is under control.

Maybe you and Josef Oehmen can get jobs doing PR for the nuclear industry (if you are not already). You are doing a great job of it.

Thanks.





GRLCowan said...

Nuclear power saves the lives of unimportant people, but deprives senior civil servants and other important people of very large amounts of fossil fuel revenue. If Pandora's Promise makes this point in a non-egghead, approachable way, with good theme music, this is a big public service.

The egghead case is made by, for instance, Kharecha and Hansen (open-access paper at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es3051197: "Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power") and Weissbach et al. ("Energy intensities, EROIs (energy returned on invested), and energy payback times of electricity generating power plants", paywalled, but there is an associated open-access spreadsheet here).

Martin Vermeer said...

Nuclear lies:

Will shill for nukes.

Just one example.

TEPCO made me a liar-in-commission. My sister phoned me immediately after the tsunami to ask if she needed to worry about anything happening with the reactors in Fukushima, and I put here at ease pointing out that they were built in a known earthquake zone, and thus earthquake and tsunami proof by design.

Lies/misrepresentations also by the GenIV crowd, who like to claim that those "burn up nuclear waste", when they only take care of the (admittedly most worrisome, because long-lived) transuranics but leave the fission products alone. This seems to have fooled even Jim Hansen.

...and then of course there are the LNT deniers.

In the slide set I linked to earlier by Spencer Weart there is one slide at 9:33 with one word in big letters: TRUST. That's what's killing nuclear. The other arguments are more or less proxies for this.

Turboblocke said...

In France we've had nukes being obliged to shut down because the river that supplies the cooling water was too hot.

Because of uncertainty over nukes, there may be a shortage of qualified technicians as the risk of starting a career with no future, discourages people from following the appropriate training.

Anonymous said...

yea-mon: "Do you have any examples of these 'false claims'?"

TEPCO's history of lies and misstatements is so lengthy I feel quite confident in stating that if TEPCO has ever made a truthful or accurate statement about its business it was entirely inadvertent or unintentional. The same can be said for the Japanese nuclear "regulatory" (read: promotional) authorities. Where should we begin? How about a simple search for *TEPCO false statements*? Out of the first 15 results, I get these:

"TEPCO botches apology for misleading Diet investigatory panel"

"TEPCO lied to Fukushima meltdown investigators"

"As with BP, Japanese TEPCO had 'long history' of false reporting of problems"

"TEPCO Misleading Public Over Nuclear Crisis"

"TEPCO official gave false testimony"

(Kyodo) "Fukushima: TEPCO 'Blocked' Nuclear Accident Investigation"

"Fukushima plant operator reverses claim groundwater is not contaminated"

"TEPCO's Flip-Flops Increase Confusion at Fukushima"

"TEPCO admits Fukushima groundwater contaminated with radioactive cesium"

Hank Roberts said...

My favorite airline pilots' blog -- pprune.org -- has many posts by pilots who are quite safety-conscious and quite critical of the safety culture in several parts of the globe, not uncommonly pointing out that flying an airliner and operating a nuclear power plant require a very, um, active and assertive stance by the young, junior, recently trained operators who are apt to be sitting in the second chair, junior to and next to the old high-seniority high-respect guy in charge -- who may be just a little bit slow in reacting to unexpected and/or rapidly changing conditions.

e.g.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Ugh, pilot error. The reports that I read initially in the NYT seemed rather odd, this helps to explain it..l

Anonymous said...

Speculation of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if air traffic control and/or runway confusion contributed to it, and the pilot may have attempted to abort to avoid a collision too late. The attitude of the plane suggests a stall; some reports by witnesses indicated a very close call with a UA plane on the ground, and SFO is one of the worst laid-out airports for runway confusion, with two active, parallel runways operating simultaneously. Visibility was very good today, however.

David B. Benson said...

I don't respond to anonymous commenters.

David B. Benson said...

Martin Vermeer --- The fast reactors do indeed fission all the actinides into fission products, many of which are radioactive. All but one, technetium-99 in small amounts, have half lives of at most some tens of decades. Chemically separating the cesium, strontium etc. result in radioactive wastes which are only 3.5% of the original actinide metal feedstocks. Glassify those radioactive wastes and store underground for 300 years; this is easy to do. The remaining wastes are not radioactive and can be disposed of normally (possibly some might have industrial uses).

You can read about this in "Plentiful Energy" by Till & Chang. Some chapters are available online as threads of the Brave New World website.

Martin Vermeer said...

> are only 3.5% of the original actinide metal feedstocks

Yep, which are again only a fraction of the original "old" waste. The remainder of which thus also has to be glassified, etc.

(Wasn't the Hanford stuff supposed to be glassified? OK, very old waste, so likely not comparable)

quokka said...

Nobody ever claimed that Gen IV reactors do not produce fission products that must be disposed of. That's just more making stuff up.

It's plainly obvious in GE-Hitachi's material for it's Advanced Recycling Center (PRISM reactors + pyroprocessing)

http://www.usnuclearenergy.org/PDF_Library/_GE_Hitachi%20_advanced_Recycling_Center_GNEP.pdf

The (huge) advantage is that the mass of the waste stream is greatly reduced (< 5% of that from LWRs), with much shorter half lives and removal of the TRUs which because they are alpha emitters present a potentially higher biological hazard if they are inhaled or ingested.

Burning > 95% of the waste from LWRs surely qualifies as "burning nuclear waste".

And I find it extremely unlikely that Jim Hansen than been "fooled". It's kind of an insult, really.

Anonymous said...

quokka: "In a 2012 estimate the European commission placed the decommissioning cost at between EUR 160-900 million per reactor unit."
"PWRs at Maine Yankee and Connecticut Yankee have been decommissioned to greenfield status at a cost of $635 million and $820 million respectively giving real world actual numbers for decommissioning PWR projects."
"These numbers are also in broad agreement with IEA estimates of 15-20% of the capital cost."


Some more real-world numbers (although it remains to be seen what the final costs will be, in 2045-'55 dollars): "Nuclear Power Plant in Limbo Decides to Close"
"The two reactors at San Onofre had not run since a small amount of radioactive steam escaped from new tubes damaged by vibration and friction. Coming months after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan, the event prompted a wave of public opposition and set off a legal and regulatory battle that included Southern California Edison, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which manufactured the parts that leaked."

"Those parts, called steam generators, cost more than $600 million. In the end, uncertainty over the plant’s fate 'was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs,' said Theodore F. Craver Jr., chief executive of the utility’s parent company, Edison International."

"Mr. Craver of Edison International said that the prospects for license renewal were uncertain, following the three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011, and the demand by regulators for a re-evaluation of San Onofre’s vulnerability to earthquake."

"The company has $2.7 billion saved up for decommissioning, which is about 90 percent of what is required, he said. Edison shares ownership with San Diego Gas & Electric, which owns 20 percent, and the city of Riverside, which owns 1.79 percent."

"Edison has about $2.1 billion invested in the plant, the fuel and related assets. Division of costs between Edison’s shareholders and ratepayers, its insurers and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which supplied the heat exchangers, has not been determined."


So, $3 billion, or 142% of the capital investment, is the currently estimated cost of decommissioning, which one can reasonably assume is a significant underestimate without taking into consideration inflation or the cost of lawsuits borne by ratepayers. If one assumes that the $0.6 billion invested in steam generators that failed is included in the capital investment, then had the plant been decommissioned instead of wasting the money on replacing the steam generators with faulty equipment, the cost of decommissioning would have been 200% of the capital investment, again without considering inflation or cost escalation.

The only thing that distinguishes the incompetence of the U.S. nuclear industry and regulatory authorities from that of TEPCO and Japan is a magnitude 9 (or perhaps smaller) earthquake and tsunami. Given TEPCO's record to date, I wouldn't be comfortable giving them a permit to operate a laundromat or a dog-walking service. In northern California, PG&E can't safely or responsibly operate a system of natural gas pipelines (San Bruno). Why would anyone trust these clowns to operate a nuclear power plant?

Martin Vermeer said...

Quokka, how do you arrive at > 95%? Counting the U-238 as "waste", are you? Do you think that's fair, when it has a radiation level not much above the natural background (to which it contributes), and for current-generation reactors it passes through unchanged?

Sure you can compress the waste volume a lot by removing such filler material. That's what reprocessing already does. An you can burn it in a fast breeder -- also been done. But do you really, honestly not see that presenting the numbers in the way you do is misrepresentation?

Neven said...

What's a little misrepresentation when we need to make consumer culture available for 7 billion people?

Martin Vermeer said...

Neven now you're being a bit unfair. As I know quokka (as well as you can know a handle) he is honest in his beliefs.

Neven said...

Martin, I apologize for implying that quokka isn't honest. I rather wanted to express my sarcasm when it comes to the arguments pro-nuclear folks employ (those who think Gen II and Gen III aren't psychopathic).

I guess Terry Tempest Williams expresses it well in the piece John links to in his blog post at the top:

The fracture line that I do believe is present and widening within the green movement is a philosophical one that cuts to the core of Pandora’s Promise. Given that our species numbers 7 billion and rising, there are those who believe the only practical way we can sustain an energy-rich future is to commit to more development, more technology—nuclear energy included—as we continue on the trajectory of progress to fuel more consumption. The energy-poor deserve what we have in places like the United States and Europe. There is no turning back. We have no historical evidence of stopping the arrow of progress. Developing nations deserve America’s privilege. This is a core belief that saturates the logic of this documentary and its converts.

The other side of the movement is less human-centered: it asks for restraint, seeing ourselves as a species among a cacophony of other species, interdependent and interrelated, where what is called for is not new technology but a new planetary consciousness. This includes the choice to embrace an ethic of conservation that honors biodiversity, wild lands and wild lives. That includes plants and animals—all living species, not just our own. Allow me to quote Robinson Jeffers: “Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty…the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man/ apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his days darken.” The question becomes not how can we further promote a lifestyle of living beyond our energy means, but how can we live more lightly on the planet?


Now I'm not one of those folks who want a return to the Middle Ages and back-breaking labour, but I do believe in a mix energy efficiency (a lot of it) and appropriate technology. Centralized large-scale power generation is a recipe for keeping business-as-usual going, not even speaking of the fact that some of that centralized large-scale power generation poses serious risks.

Let's work at eliminating the root cause, instead of wasting our energy at promoting symptom cures. And if developing nations are blinded by our ads for a diseased culture and society, maybe it's time to set another example?

EliRabett said...

Rather late to the bun fest (Eli has been in the US equivalent of nowhere) but perhaps a small contribution. Nuclear and coal electricity generators cannot be rapidly spun up and down. They are real baseload beasts. Gas OTOH is very agile.

EliRabett said...

The problem with glassifying the crap at Hanford and Savannah River is no one has a clue about what is in the tanks, and no one is stupid enough to sample them. (slight exaggeration)

David B. Benson said...

Martin Vermeer --- The usual accounting begins with an assumption of (nearly) pure actinide metals. If one has oxides + junk as in once through nuclear pins from Gen 2 & Gen 3 operations first one refines to metals + junk. Running that in a fast reactor produces just junk which is treated as I described.

David B. Benson said...

EliRabett --- I fear you are decades out-of-date. The tank contents are moderately well characterized, enough that a processor was design and largely constructed. Unfortunately, that design left out an important component, so everything is in limbo; Montz claims he'll have an action plan a bit later this summer.

Anonymous said...

...Montz claims he'll have an action plan a bit later this summer."

We'll be looking for that report.

Meanwhile, at least six of the 28 double-walled steel tanks that have outlived (or not) their 20-year anticipated lifespan have been revealed to be leaking:

"For nearly a decade, the Energy Department had claimed it had found all potential leaks and had been eliminating risk as workers drained liquid from the single-shell tanks into the newer and much safer double-shell tanks. A handful of the 149 are now nearly empty."

"But last week [February 15, 2013], Energy officials acknowledged for the first time since 2005 that they’d found a new leaker."

"The department admitted Friday it had found five more and that analysts hadn’t properly reviewed information about how tank volume had changed."

"It appears 'they were looking at the data over a more narrow time frame,' Dahl said."


As it turns out, however, a technician working for the private contractor hired to manage the tank farms had detected the radiation leak over a year earlier, in October 2011, than the DOE's announcement.

Since the leaking tank, designated AY-102, was intended to be used as the primary feed tank for the vitrification plant, the over one-year delay in confirming the leak wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer money and will further delay the startup of the vitrification plant, already plagued by multiple technical problems, as David Benson has alluded to.

Bechtel has just announced that the vitrification plant will be getting a new director.

Yes indeed, everything's under control, nothing to see here, move along. Just keep rearranging those deck chairs, and everything will work out just fine. Trust the experts.

Captcha: 573 hareHer

Martin Vermeer said...

I won't comment on David's spherical cow ;-)

But Hansen deserves one further comment. This paper shows him (page 4 left column) to be in serious denial about LNT. Of the two references he gives, the first is an obvious crank paper (citing Calabrese? Really?), the other doesn't say what Hansen thinks it says (it confirms the standard LNT model). No reference to any meta-studies, no awareness of any hierarchy of evidence. In climatology, such a paper would be slaughtered, and it's sad to see someone I otherwise respect, so lost in a discipline he is no expert in.

I'll leave Hansen's views on Gen IV as an exercise for the reader

GRLCowan said...

But Hansen deserves one further comment. This paper shows him (page 4 left column) to be in serious denial about LNT.

If that were true, the black trace in the chart in his and Kharecha's abstract would be minutely closer to the top edge, because the 4900 human deaths he attributes to nuclear power, divided by the 40 years covered, would not be counted.

Martin Vermeer said...

Yes GRLCowan, Hansen includes LNT in his calculations using numbers from his source 16 -- and then argues that he shouldn't have. It's this argument that shows him to be out of his depth.

The qualitative conclusions of the paper are undoubtedly correct, and the numbers at least order-of-magnitude correct -- but think of the broken-clock metaphor.

Anonymous said...

Although this might have been mentioned in the comments, let's be very clear on the following.

The waste materials at Hanford and Savannah River, and in fact all nuclear waste materials that are not located at utility-operated nuclear-electric generation plants, are there solely as results of atomic weapons activities over past decades.

No civilian nuclear waste materials are involved. None.

Additionally, the weapons wastes that are in liquid form are derived from processing materials from production reactors: nuclear reactors specifically designed to produce isotopes suitable for making atomic weapons. These plants did not originally produce electricity for civilian use. Some were later modify for this application.

The so-called waste materials that result from plants designed to produce electricity, fuel rods stored at utilities, have approximately 98% of the original available energy remaining within them. One reason that Japan, Russia, and France and other Europa countries recycle Used Nuclear Fuel ( UNF ).

The United States of America has the world's most stupid "energy policies".

Anonymous said...

Eli and Barry Brook showed their knowledge of nuclear reality -- and situation assessment in general -- when they quoted Josef Oehmen's "Nothing to worry about" piece just after the tsunami, before any real information was even available about the situation.

Needless to say, blind assurances ain't the way to approach disasters (or any other problem).


Neven said...

Well, I don't know about Eli, but I stopped reading Barry Brooks' blog after Fukushima. I know he's honest, but due to his lack of objectivity and my lack of time to check everything he says, there was no point in reading there any longer. I think Barry's a great guy though.

Martin Vermeer said...

Anonymous, Neven,

As I already described, I volunteered the same explanation to my sister before the true scope of the nuclear disaster came out. So don't knock Eli for this. There are depths of human stupidity that gentle bunnies just cannot fathom.

About BNC, the less said the better. You're a way too gentle bunny too Neven.

Anonymous said...

Martin,

It is certainly legitimate to "knock" Eli, barry and yourself for providing assurances before there was any real information about the scope of the disaster at Fukushima.

That's simply not a legitimate approach to disaster assessment and can actually have very detrimental results.

Imagine if you had been living in the vicinity of the Fukushima reactors after the accident and were trying to decide whether to evacuate yourself and your family.

reading what an uninformed idiot like Oehmen said could easily lead you to beleive that there indeed was nothing to worry about -- and therefore no need to evacuate.

Providing 'assurances" based on no data is a very unscientific approach for a scientist to take and is certainly grounds for legitimate criticism.

Saying that "lots of people did it" is no excuse.

Sorry, Martin but that is the reality.

Hopefully you an others learned that lesson.

EliRabett said...

David, having talked with people who were evaluating the process for removing the radio stuff from the sludge, no, they have not a clue, the stuff is not homogeneous and the process is sensitive to things like pH which varies. It is a bear of a chemistry problem and physicist are the last persons to believe about chemistry.

OTOH, the Hanford and Savannah River tanks are a legacy problem and not relevant to the current waste situation.

EliRabett said...

Compared to the number who died from the Tsuanmi, how many have died from the reactor meltdowns?

Reactor accidents are rare and sudden events. Bunnies flee. OTOH air pollution kills slowly and surely.

The only reason to hold back nuclear is weapons proliferation, which is one of Barry Brooks' drivers to thorium.

Anonymous said...

"Compared to the number who died from the Tsuanmi, how many have died from the reactor meltdowns?"

Trying to change the subject, Eli?

That's a different issue from what you and Barry were criticized for above, which is that you weighed in with an assurance that there was nothing to worry about BEFORE there was even any reliable information on the accident to speak of.

That's an exceedingly foolish approach to take on ANY issue, especially on a disaster and especially for a scientist.

To his credit, Barry Brook at least admitted he was wrong, albeit only after it became painfully, embarrassingly clear that his cited "MIT expert" Oehmen was clueless.

Perhaps you can point me (and everyone else) to where you admitted you were wrong, Eli.

Anonymous said...

Anonymice are multiplying.

I'm sorry, Eli, but I can't agree with your rationale that because relatively few deaths can be directly attributed to nuclear, that we should build them now now now. Not until we've wrung a great deal more efficiency out of our wasteful use of energy, and not until we have operators and a regulatory system that put safety ahead of their bottom line, and that there's little evidence of that happening any time soon.

"Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country."
http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/

Accidents might be sudden and rare, but with the incompetence and lack of a safety culture exhibited by operators like TEPCO, which is hardly worse than those in the U.S., we'll have many more such accidents as more nukes are built, possibly even if they use newer generation plants (which I'd like to support, if nukes must be built).

There are other metrics to consider besides the number of deaths directly attributed to nuclear accidents. You have economic and social disruption, psychological effects and trauma, and large areas of land rendered more or less permanently uninhabitable. There's no point in arguing that the risks of living on contaminated land are less than you face when driving to work. Human psychology doesn't work that way. Tell your kid it's ok they have thyroid cancer because he gets to play video games on the latest Playstation. Yes, I know the consequences of climate change are worse than a hundred Fukushimas, but that doesn't lead me to embrace a hundred Fukushimas.

I'm well aware that Hanford wastes aren't representative of nuclear power generation, but the same incompetence and sense of entitlement exhibited by Bechtel and other contractors at Hanford pervade the nuclear industry. It's hard to keep up with the bad news from Hanford, but you'll notice the latest follows a similar narrative arc as many such accidents: warnings by lower-level technicians are routinely dismissed, minimized, and ignored, leading to cascading problems until there is a major accident, for which of course, ratepayers and taxpayers are on the hook.

Martin Vermeer said...

> Anonymice are multiplying

Give yourself a number then!

Number one is taken (and believe me, you don't want to be him!)

And I agree with Eli that weapons proliferation is the big thing; but I don't believe the same folks that blew proliferation with uranium should get a second chance with thorium.

There's another issue. As we clean up our power infrastructure ecologically, we might as well also clean up its power structure: get rid of the lying and cheating corporate "persons" and think tanks, the dark satanic mills polluting their landscape as much as smokestacks do theirs. Nuclear is just more of the same.

Anonymous said...

I'll be Anonymouse #2, then, and these are my previous comments here:
AM2-1, AM2-2, AM2-3, AM2-4, AM2-5, and AM2-6.

GRLCowan said...

Martin Vermeer writes,

"I don't believe the same folks that blew proliferation with uranium should get a second chance with thorium.

That should leave a fairly wide-open field for persons who did not blow proliferation with uranium to do good with thorium.

Who blew proliferation with uranium?

Anonymous said...

" . . . exhibited by Bechtel and other contractors at Hanford pervade the nuclear industry."

You say pervade the nuclear industry and then fail to give a single example other than Hanford. Plus if it is pervasive, there should be many many examples.

No one has presented an example of proliferation with uranium. Not from legacy weapons stuff and especially not from electric power generation. None.

I'll be AMn. Don't know how to link here.

Anonymous said...

AMn, I gave many examples in my previous posts here (i.e., TEPCO and San Onofre). A comprehensive list would require many volumes and months of effort to compile. If you aren't aware of many more examples, you haven't been paying much attention.

AM2

Captcha: ### orKseer
You bet I see orks.

2nd Captcha: cSwithu ##
Yes, I can see orks with you (not referring to AMn). We can see them together.

Anonymous said...

AMn, I gave many examples in my previous posts here (e.g., TEPCO and San Onofre). A more comprehensive list would take volumes and many months to compile. If you aren't already aware of many examples, you haven't been paying much attention.

AM2

Captcha: ### orKseer
You bet I see orks.

2nd Captcha: cSwithu ##
I can see orks with you (not referring to anyone in particular).

Anonymous said...

P.S.: I can't speak to proliferation; not my topic.

AM2

Link syntax:
text

Anonymous said...

Oops, tried to be helpful, but it didn't work. AMn, if you're interested, here's a reference for html tags.

AM2

Anonymous said...

Check out 10 CFR Part 21.

It applies to all aspects, all hardware all software, and all persons who touch any part of any hardware, software, operating procedures, everything, totally and completely.

Http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part021/full-text.html

AMn

David B. Benson said...

LNT, defined in BEIR VII, is wrong. The simplest model of DNA repair shows it is wrong. A proper Bayesian analysis of the data used in BEIR VII would show that the quadratic-linear approximation is the better hypothesis; the BEIR VII statistics was wrongly chosen.

"Radiation and Reason" by physicist Wade Allison is a reasonable, more popular source of information; he wrote the textbook on medical imaging. For a more technical treatment, try
Hormesis by Low Dose Radiation Effects: Low-Dose Cancer Risk Modeling Must Recognize Up-Regulation of rotection
Ludwig E. Feinendegen, Myron Pollycove, and Ronald D. Neumann
Therapeutic Nuclear Medicine
Springer 2012 ISBN 978-3-540-36718-5

David B. Benson said...

DoE contractors are govenment contractors of a similar nature to DoD contractors. Do not mistake that form of action and attitude with that of the civilian nuclear power industry.

Anonymous said...

AMn and DB, 10 CFR Part 21 is a nice document, but is only as effective as the commitment of the operators and regulators to support safety as a primary goal, even when this imposes significant costs to investors. One gauge of this commitment is the NRC's record of enforcement actions. An example is a Confirmatory Order issued to Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear plant operators, covering all of their facilities "fleet-wide" in August 2011, notably five months after the Fukushima meltdowns:

"On August 24, 2011, the NRC issued a Confirmatory Order (effective immediately) to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. and Entergy Operations Inc. (collectively Entergy) to formalize commitments made as a result of an ADR mediation session held on July 18, 2011 in Washington DC. By letter dated May 20, 2011, the NRC identified an apparent violation of 10 CFR 50.7 to Entergy Operations Inc. based on the NRC’s Office of Investigations, March 17, 2011 report (OI Case No. 4-2010-053). Specifically, the NRC had reached a preliminary conclusion that an employee at the River Bend Station was rated lower in his/her 2008 annual performance appraisal based in part on the employee questioning the qualifications necessary to perform certain work activities in compliance with applicable plant procedure(s)."

"...As a result of the settlement agreement from the ADR mediation session, Entergy agreed to take a number of additional fleet-wide actions. A summary of those fleet-wide actions are: (1) reorganizing the quality control organization’s reporting structure; (2) reinforcing the company’s commitment to a safety conscious work environment through a written communication from a senior Entergy nuclear executive; (3) reviewing and, as necessary, revising the existing general employee training on 10 CFR 50.7 to include insights from the circumstances giving rise to this matter; (4) reviewing and, as necessary, revising training to new supervisors for 10 CFR 50.7 to include insights from the circumstances giving rise to this matter; and (5) conducting an effectiveness review of the Employee Concerns Program enhancements and training that were implemented relating to the underlying matter. Entergy also agreed to conduct a plant wide safety culture survey at the River Bend Station prior to December 31, 2012."


It's not exactly reassuring in 2011 to find one of the largest nuclear plant operators in a remedial oversight program for having a deficient safety culture and engaging in workplace retaliation. I found only two examples of enforcement actions by the NRC that involved criminal prosecution of individuals in all the cases posted at the NRC's enforcement website.

AM2

Anonymous said...

DB, I also presented numerous previous examples of statements and actions by the civilian nuclear power industry (TEPCO and San Onofre) that contradict the idea that there's a major difference in attitude between these companies and DoE and DoD contractors. I'd really like to believe you, but...

AM2

Anonymous said...

DB, I also presented several previous examples of statements and actions by the civilian nuclear power industry (TEPCO and San Onofre) that contradict the claim that there's a significant difference in attitude among these companies regarding safety than there is among DoE and DoD contractors. I'd really like to believe you, but...

AM2

Anonymous said...

Re Hansen and nuclear.

I admire Hansen hugely for his contributions to climate science and his communications to curb carbon emissions, but I won't consider him an authority on nuclear the same way I won't consider a nuclear engineer to be an authority on climate science.

--cynicus

Martin Vermeer said...

> Who blew proliferation with uranium?

Actually it was blown from the start; human nature. You cannot have a uranium economy that doesn't leak. Read these and weep:

Ultracentrifuge technology

How Israel did it.

Both stories tell about the leakage: of technology, of yellowcake.

Martin Vermeer said...

David B. Benson, thanks for spoiling my day. Wade Allison, are you f*king serious?

Next you're going to tell me the IPCC is wrong and I should read Lindzen instead.

How can I snap you out of it? Grr.

yea-mon said...

Some Anonymous Person wrote:

It is certainly legitimate to "knock" Eli, barry and yourself for providing assurances before there was any real information about the scope of the disaster at Fukushima.

There was information on radioisotope releases.

That's} simply not a legitimate approach to disaster assessment and can actually have very detrimental results.

As can the flip side - we certainly had enough news sources telling us we were all going to die, and fools on the US west coast buying up all the potassium iodate they could. Eli and Barry certainly helped me put thing in perspective, especially in terms of the radiation releases and consequences of exposure. My other foreign friends, without a background in science, were panicked into fleeing their homes - some just had to pay for tickets to the Japan Sea coast, but some had to shell out for tickets out of the country.

Imagine if you had been living in the vicinity of the Fukushima reactors after the accident and were trying to decide whether to evacuate yourself and your family.
reading what an uninformed idiot like Oehmen said could easily lead you to beleive that there indeed was nothing to worry about -- and therefore no need to evacuate.


The government had mandatory evacuation orders in place for the areas closest to Fukushima Daiichi. As I detailed above the problem was idiots leasing people to believe there was something to worry about who were the problem.

Providing 'assurances" based on no data is a very unscientific approach for a scientist to take and is certainly grounds for legitimate criticism.

So you'll be criticising Sir John Beddington, the UK's Chief Scientific Officer for providing reassurances on the scale of the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi on May 16th 2011? Reassurances that not only stemmed panic, but proved accurate?

yea-mon said...

Anonymous said...
yea-mon: "Do you have any examples of these 'false claims'?"

TEPCO's history of lies and misstatements is so lengthy I feel quite confident in stating that if TEPCO has ever made a truthful or accurate statement about its business it was entirely inadvertent or unintentional. The same can be said for the Japanese nuclear "regulatory" (read: promotional) authorities. Where should we begin? How about a simple search for *TEPCO false statements*? Out of the first 15 results, I get these:


And of the nine links you post, 4 are about an incident where a TEPCO official told a member of an investigating committee that the cover over Reactor 1 rendered it too dark to investigate safely. That was mistaken, but not necessarily a lie. TEPCO says it mistook a picture of the light levels after the installation of the cover for one before. Given that it is a large organisation that sounds feasable to me.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/topics/1224624_2266.html

Two links blow cold water on the cold shutdown plans after the true extent of the meltdowns in Reactors 1 to 3 were revealed. Still the cold shutdown was achieved on schedule, though with some contesting the definition.

Two more links on reporting of groundwater contamination, Condemning TEPCO for having the nerve to update the public when new information comes to light.

One concerns a safety check coverup in 2002, which was worrying, and dealt with back then. That is really the only link of note.

So, nine links, one of note - and old news to boot.


Martin Vermeer said...

> dealt with back then

Perhaps dealt with as we speak?

''There was a culture of efficiency, not a culture of safety,'' Judge told The Associated Press on Friday, during a trip to Tokyo for meetings at TEPCO. ''There was no safety culture. There was an assumption of safety.''

One may hope...

Anonymous said...

You are indeed a very credulous fellow, yea-mon. You wouldn't happen to be a former PR spokesperson for TEPCO, would you?

Like I said, the links I provided were just what appeared in the initial search results. I didn't go searching for the most egregious examples, such as when decontamination workers were forced to cover dosimeters with lead shields.
"A Tokyo Electric Power spokesman told Reuters on Saturday the company was aware from a separate contractor that Build-Up made the lead shields, but that they were never used at the nuclear plant."
There are a number of very troubling aspects to this story that strongly suggest that attempts to falsify dosimeter readings were not limited to the discovery of this incident. The subcontractor claimed he told the workers to use the lead shields because he was "frightened" by an alarm indicating an increase in radiation. Are we supposed to believe that the lead shields just happened to be laying nearby when the alarms were triggered? TEPCO admits they were aware of the existence of the lead shields, but did nothing to stop them from being used, and continued using the subcontractor despite TEPCO's knowledge. The subcontractor's executive who ordered the use of the shields "denied the covers had any palpable shielding effects, telling The Asahi Shimbun, 'The way the dosimeter sounded the alarm (to indicate high radiation levels) was hardly different from when no cover was applied.'". Has this person been arrested yet? Were there any consequences for TEPCO, other than promises to improve?

In the days immediately following the start of the accident, we were treated to extensive imagery of what I'd call "safety theater," with thousands of residents being "screened" using radiation detectors, as if this provided any measure of their exposure to radiation, which it would not. It was pure theater, designed to provide false reassurance to the population. It apparently worked well in your case. Nothing to see here, move along everyone.

There is a persistent pattern of TEPCO making statements of reassurance to the public based on limited data, which is often found to have been gathered using false and optimistic assumptions and faulty methods. The storage of highly contaminated groundwater from the plant is another example. I haven't found the article, but I recall reading that TEPCO had been warned much earlier to take steps to reduce the flow of groundwater into the plant. Instead, they decided to build a tank farm to contain the groundwater after it had become contaminated. They assumed that they'd be able to treat the groundwater. Now the treatment plant isn't ready , and they're dumping excess contaminated groundwater into the ocean. TEPCO routinely avoids taking steps that would prevent future problems, and they wait until a serious problem develops into a crisis. Then they act surprised, and whine that they couldn't have known any better. You're welcome to your illusion that TEPCO is a benign and benevolent, safety conscious corporation, yea-mon. Just lay back and enjoy the ride.

AM2

Anonymous said...

yea-mon,


At the time Oehmen made his claims about expected radiation releases from Fukushima, there was almost no information available.


Otherwise, he would certainly not have made the claims because they turned out to be gross (to the point of absurd) underestimates.

Did you actually read what Oehmen claimed about how small the radiation releases would be?

No, I don't suppose you did.

Here's what he claimed:


I repeat, there was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity from the damaged Japanese reactors.

By "significant" I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on - say - a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.



And you can't actually be defending "Providing 'assurances" based on no data", can you?

That's just idiotic.

And the claim that TEPCO made no false claims about the accident certainly stretches the bounds of credulity.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/02/08/national/tepco-misled-diet-nuke-crisis-panel-member/#.UdxR5zu1GSo



Your comments make it clear that either 1) you are as clueless as Josef Oehmen was (and that's pretty damned clueless) or 2) you are a shill for the nuclear industry.

I lack the necessary information to make a definitive determination, but I'm leaning toward 1 because I think a shill woud have much better arguments (or at least ones that are not completely dumb)

Anonymous said...

It's called Stockholm syndrome, yea-mon. You'd better get checked, and not with one of those radiation detectors.

AM2

Anonymous said...

Eli: "Compared to the number who died from the Tsuanmi, how many have died from the reactor meltdowns?"

Really, Eli, I must protest and offer you a chance to retract this ridiculous comparison. Do you really believe we should use one of the worst natural catastrophes in Japan's history as a benchmark for evaluating the safety of nuclear power? Please tell us that you're not becoming a cranky old bunny!

AM2

David B. Benson said...

AM2 --- I assure you that however bad nuclear power operators appear to be that DoE and especially DoD contractors are worse.

You are wrong about Tepco intentionally dumping radioactive water into the ocean. Perhaps you should consider reliable sources of information such as World Nuclear News.

David B. Benson said...

Martin Vermeer --- Yes, Wade Allison's book. It generally has favorable reviews and Professor Allison is highly knowledgeable about medical effects of radiation.

Your comment makes it appear you are prejudging; i.e., are prejudiced.

Anonymous said...

David Benson,

Apart from the 11,500 tons of contaminated water previously intentionally dumped into the ocean by TEPCO in 2011, and the unintentional and unquantified discharges,

TEPCO to dump groundwater to ease crisis at Fukushima nuclear plant

"After a series of blunders, miscalculations and unresolved problems, Tokyo Electric Power Co. adopted a new strategy to avoid a total collapse of its system for handling radioactive water at its crippled nuclear plant."

"As a trial, TEPCO has pumped out about 200 tons of groundwater using the wells. Its density of radioactive substances was 'the same as rivers in surrounding areas,' according to company officials."

..."An estimated 120 tons of radioactive water leaked into the ground from the faulty underground tanks."

"TEPCO officials have yet to determine the cause of the leaks. One factor may have been the fact that they did not follow Environment Ministry guidelines for industrial waste. ...TEPCO officials apparently felt that a double layer of polyethylene waterproof sheets would be sufficient."

"...Handling radioactive water was often an afterthought for TEPCO officials."

"...TEPCO officials apparently never considered 400 tons of groundwater would flow into the reactor buildings on a daily basis."


AM2

Martin Vermeer said...

Wade Allison, and book review.

Try to accuse Bob Applebaum or Keith Haverstock of prejudice. I've had it arguing with denialists.

Anonymous said...

The thing I love about this site is that if you wait long enough, someone will inevitably defend the indefensible

Like Josef Oehmen and his idiotic "there was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity from the damaged Japanese reactors", which was questionable enough when he made it because it was made despite an almost total lack of information about the actual situation at Fukushima but was later proved wildly wrong by actual radiation releases.

of course, that did not prevent some folks from pushing Oehmen's nonsense here at RR (then or now)


and David Benson's claim to AM2

"You are wrong about Tepco intentionally dumping radioactive water into the ocean. Perhaps you should consider reliable sources of information such as World Nuclear News.

LOL

It's really no secret to anyone who has paid ANY attention whatsoever that TEPCO quite intentionally dumped radioactive water into the ocean.

TEPCO even has a press release about it, for God's (or at least the emperor's) sake


and pretty much every news source on the planet also reported it, including "Time"

“There was no choice but to take this step to prevent (other) highly radioactive water from spreading into the sea,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said of the decision to intentionallydiscard radioactive water. “The fact that radioactive water is being deliberately dumped into the sea is very regrettable and one we are very sorry..."


This site has really become a joke.







Anonymous said...

Incidentally, for context, it's worth pointing out that TEPCO has a long and glorious history of falsification on Fukushima that precedes the accident and, while some might claim that the resulting forced resignations changed the (lying) culture at TEPCO, others might say that "old habits die hard."

From wikipedia

1976: Falsification of safety records by TEPCO[edit]
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex was central to a falsified-records scandal that led to the departure of a number of senior executives of TEPCO. It also led to disclosures of previously unreported problems at the plant,[43] although testimony by Dale Bridenbaugh, a lead GE designer, purports that General Electric was warned of major design flaws in 1976, resulting in the resignations of several designers who protested GE's negligence.[44][45][46]
In 2002, TEPCO admitted it had falsified safety records at Fukushima Daiichi unit 1. As a result of the scandal and a fuel leak at Fukushima Daini, the company had to shut down all of its 17 nuclear reactors to take responsibility.[47] A power board distributing electricity to a reactor's temperature control valves was not examined for 11 years. Inspections did not cover devices related to cooling systems, such as water pump motors and diesel generators.[48]






yea-mon said...

Martin Vermeer said...

"dealt with back then"

Perhaps dealt with as we speak?

''There was a culture of efficiency, not a culture of safety,'' Judge told The Associated Press on Friday, during a trip to Tokyo for meetings at TEPCO. ''There was no safety culture. There was an assumption of safety.''

One may hope...


Well, Lady Judge seems to have no scientific qualifications. She might not also understand that in a "shame culture" like Japan it is not necessary to be caught doing something wrong to be judged by society (we could argue that is the case in the West too to an extent), it is just necessary to be perceived as doing something wrong.

I have no doubt that there are safety failing at TEPCO, but I doubt that they are much different from the safety failings of your average Japanese company.

FYI, I believe TEPCO should have been nationalised a couple of years back, but this will not happen as the JGov would then be taking on responsibility for any future problems, and past problems revealed in the future.

yea-mon said...

AM2 said...

You are indeed a very credulous fellow, yea-mon. You wouldn't happen to be a former PR spokesperson for TEPCO, would you?

Nope and nope. I just try and avoid confirmation bias, and living in Tohoku try to get get my news from more than blogs or the unreliable Japanese press.

Like I said, the links I provided were just what appeared in the initial search results. I didn't go searching for the most egregious examples, such as when decontamination workers were forced to cover dosimeters with lead shields.

Not TEPCO, a subcontractor, the covered dosimeters were not used at the plant.

FYI, I don't think subcontractors should be used - because in Japanese society they are solely responsible for their actions.

In the days immediately following the start of the accident, we were treated to extensive imagery of what I'd call "safety theater," with thousands of residents being "screened" using radiation detectors, as if this provided any measure of their exposure to radiation, which it would not.

Really? I would have thought it would have provided some indication of surface contamination?

It was pure theater, designed to provide false reassurance to the population. It apparently worked well in your case. Nothing to see here, move along everyone.

Nope, I just checked on the daily radiation readings from the monitoring sites in our prefecture. Double baseline. I guess you would have preferred major panic? People flooding the roads in an attempt to get away from the radiation? Good luck to the US and Japanese forces trying to help those in the disaster areas then.

There is a persistent pattern of TEPCO making statements of reassurance to the public based on limited data, which is often found to have been gathered using false and optimistic assumptions and faulty methods. The storage of highly contaminated groundwater from the plant is another example. I haven't found the article, but I recall reading that TEPCO had been warned much earlier to take steps to reduce the flow of groundwater into the plant. Instead, they decided to build a tank farm to contain the groundwater after it had become contaminated. They assumed that they'd be able to treat the groundwater. Now the treatment plant isn't ready , and they're dumping excess contaminated groundwater into the ocean.

Really? The plan to divert the groundwater was TEPCOs, from a few months back. It is currently nixed by local fishermen as they believe that even of the groundwater that would be diverted to the sea was clean, society would believe it was not.

The plans http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/04/25/national/groundwater-flooding-reactors-to-be-diverted/

You're welcome to your illusion that TEPCO is a benign and benevolent, safety conscious corporation, yea-mon. Just lay back and enjoy the ride.

AM2, I'm sure TEPCO has flaws, I just don't believe most of the stuff said about them in the press and on the web is as definitive as is claimed. This is Japan, where innuendo and gossip are king, and if society believes you are guilty of something you had better apologize, not try to explain yourself*

*Defendants in court cases often get penalized for not admitting their crimes and apologising for them. Innocence does not enter into the equation.

yea-mon said...

AM2 said...

It's called Stockholm syndrome, yea-mon. You'd better get checked, and not with one of those radiation detectors.

Don't worry AM2, I'm not in the TEPCO-covered area, I get my electricity from Tohoku Denroku.

yea-mon said...

Eli: "Compared to the number who died from the Tsuanmi, how many have died from the reactor meltdowns?"

Really, Eli, I must protest and offer you a chance to retract this ridiculous comparison. Do you really believe we should use one of the worst natural catastrophes in Japan's history as a benchmark for evaluating the safety of nuclear power? Please tell us that you're not becoming a cranky old bunny!


A better comparison would be the collapse of the Fujinuma dam: 8 deaths versus zero radiation deaths.

Info here: http://www.jcold.or.jp/e/activity/FujinumaSummary-rev.120228.pdf

Martin Vermeer said...

Not only TEPCO.

Anonymous said...

Yea-mon, you clearly have the most extreme form of Stockholm syndrome ever observed on RR, and possibly outside a clinical setting. I'll mention just a few points among your ridiculous statements, non sequiturs, and irrelevant responses:

"Not TEPCO, a subcontractor, the covered dosimeters were not used at the plant."
According to TEPCO, who admitted they knew of the existence of the lead shields, and yet took no action and continued using the subcontractor. You are hopeless if you find TEPCO's statement believable, yea-mon.

"FYI, I don't think subcontractors should be used - because in Japanese society they are solely responsible for their actions."
See above. If TEPCO bears no responsibility for its subcontractors, even when it has knowledge that the subcontractor is not following health and safety protocols, then all quality control and health and safety plans are worthless. No large business in Japan, much less a nuclear operator, could be operated responsibly under these conditions (but we sort of already knew that). Good luck doing the cleanup without subcontractors--perhaps you'd recommend recruiting school children for the job? No worries, you can just leave it up to the Yakuza.

"I have no doubt that there are safety failing at TEPCO, but I doubt that they are much different from the safety failings of your average Japanese company."

Nuclear power generation is not your "average" industry. The current estimated cost of stabilizing the plant and cleaning up the contaminated areas is now estimated to be $125 billion, double the previous estimate. Many of TEPCO's failings have led to massive increases in damage, costs, and risks to the public.

Following the loss of cooling water to the reactors, "...only prompt flooding of the reactors with seawater could have cooled the reactors quickly enough to prevent meltdown. Salt water flooding was delayed because it would ruin the costly reactors permanently. Flooding with seawater was finally commenced only after the government ordered that seawater be used, and at this point it was already too late to prevent meltdown." [emphasis added]

"As of September 2011, six workers at the Fukushima Daiichi site have exceeded lifetime legal limits for radiation and more than 300 have received significant radiation doses."

"According to a 2012 Yomiuri Shimbun survey, 573 deaths have been certified as "disaster-related" by 13 municipalities affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster."

Yes, many of these were due to the evacuation and stress, not radiation. They are disaster related deaths and could have been avoided if TEPCO had prudently designed and operated the reactors. GE also bears responsibility for the poor reactor designs. The Japanese government bears responsibility for misleading the public, which it continues to do. The largely passive population bears responsibility for buying into the lies and false promises of TEPCO and the Japanese government. Yea-mon bears responsibility for enabling and encouraging these propaganda efforts.

"According to a June 2012 Stanford University study by John Ten Hoeve and Mark Jacobson, the radiation released could cause 130 deaths from cancer (the lower bound for the estimater being 15 and the upper bound 1100) and 180 cancer cases (the lower bound being 24 and the upper bound 1800), mostly in Japan. Radiation exposure to workers at the plant was projected to result in 2 to 12 deaths."

AM2

Anonymous said...

The point, yea-mon, is that much of this was avoidable and should have been avoided, but the passive, gullible, and encouraging attitude of people like you assures TEPCO and the Japanese government that no matter how stupid, irresponsible, dishonest, and incompetent they are, they will never be held accountable for their decisions.

AM2

Anonymous said...

I should add that although these consequences could have been avoided, yea-mon proves that Japan is totally incapable of safely operating a nuclear power plant.

AM2

Captcha: Axcuter 1

Anonymous said...

Eli,

How many die immediately or in the near term from a nuclear accident that releases radiation is not the only (or even most relevant) factor.

other factors:

Potential increase in cancer incidence, which can only be reasonably assessed with epidemiological studies over the long term and then only by studies that have carefully followed adequate numbers of people exposed to well-documented radiation levels. Even the best such studies can be flawed, but they are certainly superior to theoretical "projections" which are highly dubious at best.

Forced abandonment of homes and agricultural land.

Economic losses (eg, on fishing, agriculture and industry in the Fukushima area) due to real or even perceived radiation threats.

Either you are being purposefully restrictive with your "How many have died?" comparison or you actually have no clue of the repercussions (current and potential) of an accident like Fukushima, which is far from "over" at any rate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous seems to be unaware that there are experts who do estimate the long-term radiation risks. WHO estimates 1300 excess cancer deaths from Fukushima.

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/78218/1/9789241505130_eng.pdf

The 15,000 who died in the tsunami IS a relevant number, as it indicates which factors should be mitigated and how. How many Japanese people moved from the coast because of the tsunami risk?

Rib Smokin' bunny

Anonymous said...

can you read, Rib smoker?

Your comment seems to indicate otherwise.

For one thing, I never said or even implied that no one attempted "theoretical projections".

That "experts" (at WHO or anywhere else) make such projections does not mean they are accurate (though you are free to believe otherwise)


And I somehow doubt that even WHO would claim such projections are as reliable as well executed epidemiological studies.

But more importantly, that was not even the main point of my comment -- that there are other considerations besides what Eli's comparison indicated, which did not even include potential increase in cancer incidence. (which actually makes your comment humorous)

Please try to at least read the comments in the future before making it clear to everyone that you did not.

Anonymous said...

Any estimate of the long-term effects of radiation from Fukushima should come with an asterisk:

*Actual exposures to the workers and population are unknown because TEPCO and its subcontractors may have covered the detectors and dosimeters with lead shields. Due to TEPCO's history of falsification of documents and lack of oversight of subcontractors, none of the radiation data from the accident can be considered reliable.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the monitoring equipment they were using to "screen" the evacuees were nothing more than empty plastic dummy shells, or maybe dressed-up Wiis.

AM2

Anonymous said...

Anonymous thinks his pronouncements of WHO's quantitative analysis as dubious is somehow an argument. The WHO projections are based on past epidemiology research of exposure to radiation, people will not respond differently to radiation in the future than they have in the past. The uncertainties are in the estimates of exposure. Fukushima could have been far worse, except for the rapid response, bravery of many responders who did expose themselves to high levels for a short time, and the fact that it is on the east coast of Japan meant most radiation went out to sea.

Your saying that my comment was not addressing the main point of your comment is ridiculous:

"How many die immediately or in the near term from a nuclear accident that releases radiation is not the only (or even most relevant) factor.

other factors:

Potential increase in cancer incidence [blah blah blah snipped]"

Too bad you seem to be incapable of making a clear argument.

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Anonymous said...

rib smoker

A projection of future events based on what happened in the past is not as accurate as an actual study (after the fact) of what actually transpired.

If you believe otherwise, more power to ya.







Anonymous said...

A projection of future events based on what happened in the past is not as accurate as an actual study (after the fact) of what actually transpired, but a helluva lot more accurate than feelings. Whoa, whoa, whoaoa, feelings!

FTFY

Rib Smokin' Bunny

EliRabett said...

If we had data from the future we would not need models.

David B. Benson said...

Martin Vermeer --- Yes, I read the critical review by Baverstock and his co-author. They are just flat out wrong about LNT. It is not biologically based and by now enough studies have accumulated to see it is a poor model for low dose irradiation. BEIR VII clearly states that extrapolation of that studies conclusion below a dose of 100 mSv is unwarrented.

The Feinendegen et al. study I cited independently comes to the conclusion that there are no harmful effects of irradiation of adults at less then 100 mSv (with some notable exceptions).

Wade Allison's suggested dose limits seem high, but he does do medical imaging via irradiation, having written a definitive textbook about it. I'm sure that "Radiation and Reasosn" is not without defects (Baverstock and co-author) point out some. Nonetheless I'll have to say, based on my readings, he is closer to right than wrong.

David B. Benson said...

Thanks to those who corrected my oversight regarding Tepco.

I will point out that World Nuclear News (WNN) quite dispassionately reports all the news; good, indifferent, bad and ugly. Unlike MSM there is (almost) no editorializing nor (obvious) axe to grind. Nor does WNN sensationalize in order to sell its rag; it is free.

David B. Benson said...

Wade Allison's "Radiation and Reason", critique?
http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=energy&action=display&thread=312

yea-mon said...

Anonymous

yea-mon,


At the time Oehmen made his claims about expected radiation releases from Fukushima, there was almost no information available.


Really? This is the information I used, from my prefectual government:

http://www.pref.yamagata.jp/ou/kankyoenergy/020072/radi/radiation/file/2011.zip

Note it starts the day after the accident.

Did you actually read what Oehmen claimed about how small the radiation releases would be?

Not his original post, as we had no electricity then.

And you can't actually be defending "Providing 'assurances" based on no data", can you?

That's just idiotic.


I mention Oehmen nowhere in my post. I refer to Eli, Barry Brook and the UK's Chief Scientist.

And the claim that TEPCO made no false claims about the accident certainly stretches the bounds of credulity.

And you know, I did not say they made no false claims - just asked for evidience and was presented with a Google Link list. The links, which the poster might have hoped would not be looked at was not solid proof of wrongdoing.

From your linked story:

A Tepco spokesman claimed Thursday the official in question had simply misread the situation inside the building and had not intended to mislead the panel.

But Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a member of the Diet panel, said Tepco had deliberately misinformed the group to block its activities. On Thursday, he requested the heads of both Diet chambers to green-light further probes.

So, more a he-said she-said situation. FYI, I certainly wish to see further investigation of the situation inside both Reactor 1, and 2 and 3. So good luck to Tanaka-san there.

Your comments make it clear that either 1) you are as clueless as Josef Oehmen was (and that's pretty damned clueless) or 2) you are a shill for the nuclear industry.

Your comments make it clear that you are abusive and put words in people's mouths.

I lack the necessary information to make a definitive determination, but I'm leaning toward 1 because I think a shill woud have much better arguments (or at least ones that are not completely dumb)

Dumb? This coming from someone who says that there was no radiation information available. ありえないほど

yea-mon said...

AM2

You are indeed a very credulous fellow, yea-mon.

On the subject of credulity, I checked your link and quote below and found that they don't match:

Like I said, the links I provided were just what appeared in the initial search results. I didn't go searching for the most egregious examples, such as when decontamination workers were forced to cover dosimeters with lead shields.

"A Tokyo Electric Power spokesman told Reuters on Saturday the company was aware from a separate contractor that Build-Up made the lead shields, but that they were never used at the nuclear plant."


Deliberate misinformation, or just a mistake?

Anonymous said...

yea-mon,

I may be accused of many things, but providing a list of "Google" links is not one of them. I would never use that infernal NSA spying service. If hadn't intended for others to look at the list of links, I wouldn't have provided them. The list was a selection of initial search results, which I didn't attempt to curate for the most egregious examples, as I've said earlier. I didn't say they each represented "lies" or "wrongdoing," only that I executed a simple search for *TEPCO false statements*. You acknowledged yourself that one of these links was "worrying" because it involved an actual cover-up. You are indeed very gracious and accepting of TEPCO's explanations of their "mistakes," and extraordinarily willing to believe in their empty promises to improve their old habits.

At some point, it is very hard to avoid recognizing a pattern of TEPCO's incompetence and dishonesty, when so many examples arise. You apparently attribute most of these examples to unreliable media reports and give TEPCO the benefit of any doubts, even if finding room for that doubt requires casting aside mountains of evidence. I find it hard to reconcile your impression with the overall weight of evidence against TEPCO. You seem to think they have no responsibility to operate with more care than one would expect of a garbage collector.

FYI, I also tried a search for *TEPCO "true statements"* which also turned up mostly examples of TEPCO false statements. Even when TEPCO occasionally makes a truthful statement based on the facts as they are currently understood, they are frequently (far more often than not, I'd contend) later determined to be false statements, because they were based on faulty data collected using unreliable methods under faulty and unreasonably optimistic assumptions. In fact, it is very difficult to find a single example of a substantive, accurate, and truthful claim by TEPCO that hasn't been refuted, because they have so poorly understood the nature of the accident, the condition of the reactors, and the extent of damage throughout the history of the accident.

At what point do you hold TEPCO accountable for their "mistakes", yea-mon? As I said earlier, I wouldn't feel comfortable giving TEPCO a permit to operate a laundromat or a dog-walking service. I hope you enjoy all future Japanese nuclear melt-downs as much as you've enjoyed the last 3.

AM2

Anonymous said...

Here's the corrected link for the quote you questioned, yea-mon:

Japan probes under-reporting of Fukushima radiation dosage

My mistake. I had too many open tabs with examples of TEPCO's "mistakes." The article I linked to earlier is hardly exculpatory of TEPCO or its subcontractor, either.

AM2

yea-mon said...

AM2

Yea-mon, you clearly have the most extreme form of Stockholm syndrome ever observed on RR, and possibly outside a clinical setting. I'll mention just a few points among your ridiculous statements, non sequiturs, and irrelevant responses:

Oh good. let's see how many of them hold up to reality.

"Not TEPCO, a subcontractor, the covered dosimeters were not used at the plant."
According to TEPCO, who admitted they knew of the existence of the lead shields, and yet took no action and continued using the subcontractor. You are hopeless if you find TEPCO's statement believable, yea-mon.


On this subject there are a few points:

TEPCO was alerted by the main contractor July 19th.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/topics/1206781_2266.html

Measures against misuse of APDs.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/roadmap/images/t120730_01-e.pdf

Update: Suits with a transparent pocket to allow visual inspection of APDs to be used. Legal service available to all workers to query APD usage, working conditions and business ethics.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/roadmap/images/m120924-e.pdf

Details of the APD misuse countermeasures.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/images/handouts_120731_05-e.pdf

Report to the Health Ministry on Improved Dosage Controls.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/images/handouts_121130_02-e.pdf

IAEA Update on Fukushima with information on APD issue.

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/fukushima/statusreports/fukushima31_08_12.html

And here, a news story from the Asahi Shimbun reporting on the initial story. No word of collusion:

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201207210069

In fact, it is noteworthy that the very anti-nuclear Japan Times never even reported on this story.

"FYI, I don't think subcontractors should be used - because in Japanese society they are solely responsible for their actions."

See above. If TEPCO bears no responsibility for its subcontractors, even when it has knowledge that the subcontractor is not following health and safety protocols, then all quality control and health and safety plans are worthless. No large business in Japan, much less a nuclear operator, could be operated responsibly under these conditions (but we sort of already knew that). Good luck doing the cleanup without subcontractors--perhaps you'd recommend recruiting school children for the job? No worries, you can just leave it up to the Yakuza.


See above, your claims of TEPCO turning a blind eye to safety problems do not seem to be supportable.

As for not using sub contractors, has it occurred to you that a direct hiring procedure is possible? As for recruiting school kids, wow you really are throwing muck, aren't you?

End of part 1

Anonymous said...

yea-mon,

I apologize and retract the statement that "I hope you enjoy all future Japanese nuclear meltdowns as much as you've enjoyed the last 3." I hope you don't have any more nuclear accidents or any other such accidents or disasters. I was simply frustrated at your casual attitude towards TEPCO's terrible safety record.

AM2

Anonymous said...

yea-mon: "See above, your claims of TEPCO turning a blind eye to safety problems do not seem to be supportable."

We have 3 nuclear meltdowns and a $125 billion (and rising) cost of cleanup in support of my claims.

AM2

yea-mon said...

Part 2, for AM2

"I have no doubt that there are safety failing at TEPCO, but I doubt that they are much different from the safety failings of your average Japanese company."

Nuclear power generation is not your "average" industry. The current estimated cost of stabilizing the plant and cleaning up the contaminated areas is now estimated to be $125 billion, double the previous estimate. Many of TEPCO's failings have led to massive increases in damage, costs, and risks to the public.

And the failings are?

"Following the loss of cooling water to the reactors, "...only prompt flooding of the reactors with seawater could have cooled the reactors quickly enough to prevent meltdown. Salt water flooding was delayed because it would ruin the costly reactors permanently. Flooding with seawater was finally commenced only after the government ordered that seawater be used, and at this point it was already too late to prevent meltdown." [emphasis added]"

And where did you get that?

Nothing on delayed saltwater injection in the Diet report:

http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/naiic_report.pdf

Nothing in the final government report:

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/icanps/eng/finalgaiyou.pdf

And nothing in any other report I have been able to find.

"As of September 2011, six workers at the Fukushima Daiichi site have exceeded lifetime legal limits for radiation and more than 300 have received significant radiation doses."

And I and the other residents of Japan owe them, the Fukushima 50, and all others who work tirelessly at the plant a debt of gratitude.

"According to a 2012 Yomiuri Shimbun survey, 573 deaths have been certified as "disaster-related" by 13 municipalities affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster."
Yes, many of these were due to the evacuation and stress, not radiation. They are disaster related deaths and could have been avoided if TEPCO had prudently designed and operated the reactors. GE also bears responsibility for the poor reactor designs.


The disaster could have been avoided if there was a crystal ball, as the tsunami was unexpected.

The Japanese government bears responsibility for misleading the public, which it continues to do.

How does it continue to mislead the public?

The largely passive population bears responsibility for buying into the lies and false promises of TEPCO and the Japanese government.

And these lies and false promises are?

Yea-mon bears responsibility for enabling and encouraging these propaganda efforts.

Wow, that all, especially the end, reads like the final judgement of a Stalinist show trial!

"According to a June 2012 Stanford University study by John Ten Hoeve and Mark Jacobson, the radiation released could cause 130 deaths from cancer (the lower bound for the estimater being 15 and the upper bound 1100) and 180 cancer cases (the lower bound being 24 and the upper bound 1800), mostly in Japan. Radiation exposure to workers at the plant was projected to result in 2 to 12 deaths."

Well, seeing that the researchers are civil engineers, it's hardly conclusive stuff. Even then, those deaths are pretty low compared to deaths from other power sources. Official reports on the results of exposure give low or no deaths from cancer. Deaths from hype are a different matter.

Anonymous said...

yea-mon, the links you provided do not support your statements, either:

ym: "Not TEPCO, a subcontractor, the covered dosimeters were not used at the plant."

From one of your links: "The president of Build-Up acknowledged on July 21 that the senior official had nine people work at the nuclear plant for about three hours on Dec. 1 with their dosimeters shielded by the lead plates."

Regarding my comment, "perhaps you'd recommend recruiting school children to do the job?" This is obvious hyperbole, yea-mon. You can suggest any hiring procedures you want for TEPCO, but that doesn't change TEPCO's policies. TEPCO and most large companies use subcontractors for temporary work and often use them for long-term projects. That is in fact the predominant trend among corporations, world-wide. Under OSHA regulations in the U.S., a contractor must take responsibility for their subcontractors' compliance with health and safety protocols at hazardous waste cleanup operations, and I can't see how you would not hold TEPCO responsible for overseeing their subcontractors. It's a ridiculous and dangerous attitude, even if it's widely believed in Japan. If these are TEPCO's policies, they can't possibly operate a nuclear plant safely.

ym: "TEPCO was alerted by the main contractor July 19th."

According to the same link you provided, the meeting in which the subcontractor told the employees to use the lead shields took place on December 2, more than six months earlier. Regardless of when TEPCO was "alerted," this demonstrates a lack of oversight and quality control over its subcontractors that would be considered grossly negligent in any nuclear operation.

The links you provided showing TEPCO's policies after the incident are not at all persuasive, yea-mon, given that TEPCO has such a poor record of oversight and falsification of records.

AM2

Anonymous said...

ym: "Wow, that all, especially the end, reads like the final judgement of a Stalinist show trial!"

No, it's just my opinion, which I thought was obvious, yea-mon. Don't get too worried.

AM2

Anonymous said...

ym: "And where did you get that?"

From the same source as the link I provided (Wikipedia). I couldn't find a non-paywalled version of the the article cited there (F. Tanabe, Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology, 2011, volume 48, issue 8). It has been reported elsewhere, for example,

"Tepco 'hesitated because it tried to protect its assets,' said Akira Omoto, a former Tepco executive and a member of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, an official advisory body involved in the effort to tame the plant. Both Tepco and government officials had good reason not to use saltwater, Mr. Omoto added. Early on, nuclear fuel rods were still under cooling water and undamaged, he said, adding, 'it's understandable because injecting seawater into the fuel vessel renders it unusable.'"

"Tepco spokesman Hiro Hasegawa said the company, 'taking the safety of the whole plant into consideration, was trying to judge the appropriate timing to use seawater.'"

"'This disaster is 60% man-made," said one government official. 'They failed in their initial response. It's like Tepco dropped and lost a 100 yen coin while trying to pick up a 10 yen coin.'"


Which goes back to a more fundamental question, which is, does it make sense to invest so heavily in massive, centralized power projects that require operators to make decisions under pressure with such costly and dangerous consequences in the event of an unforeseen sequence of events? You may think so, and I would expect that Japan will have more of such incidents if it continues to to rely so heavily on this source of electrical power, especially with such a lax attitude toward safety, subordinating the safety of the public to the bottom line of the company.

AM2

Anonymous said...

ym: "And the failings are?"

From the conclusions of the Diet report you linked to, above,

"The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual."

"The Commission believes the root causes of this accident cannot be resolved and that the people’s confidence cannot be recovered as long as this “manmade disaster” is seen as the result of error by a specific individual. The underlying issue is the social structure that results in “regulatory capture,” and the organizational, institutional, and legal framework that allows individuals to justify their own actions, hide them when inconvenient, and leave no records in order to avoid responsibility. Across the board, the Commission found igno-rance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power. We found a disregard for global trends and a disregard for public safety. We found a habit of adherence to conditions based on conventional procedures and prior practices, with a priority on avoiding risk to the organization. We found an organization-driven mind-set that prioritized benefits to the organization at the expense of the public."


yea-mon, I would like to apologize for the tone and the harshness of some of my words and statements. I would welcome further discussion of these important issues with you (if Eli and the other bunnies can stand it). Frustration and emotions got the better of me in several instances, and I'll try to moderate myself better. I don't think you're intentionally trying to mislead anyone, but we each have a different opinion about the reliability of press reports vs. TEPCO's own statements. I'm sure the employees of TEPCO tried very hard to do the best they could under extreme and unprecedented conditions, and made huge sacrifices to save the plant and their fellow countrymen. I just don't think they had their eyes fully open about the nature of the risks involved with the nuclear technology that exists today, and it's natural to follow habits that have worked in the past. I don't think they have their eyes fully open today, either, at least I don't see evidence of it.

AM2

Anonymous said...

ym: "And I and the other residents of Japan owe them, the Fukushima 50, and all others who work tirelessly at the plant a debt of gratitude."

I agree, and feel gratitude as well as sadness for them, because I believe their sacrifices would best be honored by a very careful and deliberate re-thinking of Japan's energy needs and the best way to meet those needs going forward. Japan's commitment to embrace the same technology that placed those workers and the public in danger hasn't changed a bit, as far as I can tell, and I haven't seen the studies that led them to this decision.

AM2

Anonymous said...

yea-mon

Allow me to remind you of my original statement that you challenged above:

"It is certainly legitimate to "knock" Eli, barry and yourself for providing assurances before there was any real information about the scope of the disaster at Fukushima."

Note that word "scope" because it is key.

Apparently you think it's fine and dandy to weigh in (and give assurances on) a situation before you know the true magnitude/gravity of it.

I don't.

You may be the only one commenting here who does because I don't see Eli or anyone else defending that proposition.

That, my friend is simply idiotic and the longer you insist otherwise, the bigger fool you appear.


yea-mon said...

Some Anonymous person replied:

Apparently you think it's fine and dandy to weigh in (and give assurances on) a situation before you know the true magnitude/gravity of it.

I don't.


Well, anonymous person, since March 13th 2011 I have been keeping abreast of the situation, as the reactors in question were around 100 km from my home. There certainly wasn't any need for us to evacuate.

You may be the only one commenting here who does because I don't see Eli or anyone else defending that proposition.

Eli made 3 comments on this post, the last 5 days before your post. I see no one popping up to defend you.

That, my friend is simply idiotic and the longer you insist otherwise, the bigger fool you appear.

As I pointed out, I had information on radiation releases from my local government - but I see you ignore that little fact. You try to link me to Josef Oehmen, when I didn't refer to him as a source. I referenced local, UK government, and Barry and Eli's sites for some information. You seem to like putting words into people's mouth's.

You seem to think snide comments can carry an argument, and maybe they can on the street, but in a scientific blog twisting word or misattribution are unlikely to prove your points.

yea-mon said...

AM2 wrote:

yea-mon, I would like to apologize for the tone and the harshness of some of my words and statements. I would welcome further discussion of these important issues with you

Sure, I have no problem with that - things can come to the boil very quickly on the web. I haven't been at my best either

And on that topic:

I apologize and retract the statement that "I hope you enjoy all future Japanese nuclear meltdowns as much as you've enjoyed the last 3." I hope you don't have any more nuclear accidents or any other such accidents or disasters. I was simply frustrated at your casual attitude towards TEPCO's terrible safety record.

No problem, I hope we don't have any more megaquakes, and if we do - I hope we will be prepared for them. As for my attitude, I'm not exculpating TEPCO at all, though I do have a different viewpoint on the level of evidence brought against them in many media cases. I think that TEPCO are likely to have made a lot of mistakes, one that springs to mind is not requesting Self-Defence Force aid early. Definitive evidence of lies are harder to prove, in my eyes. That's not saying that there are indications - but not proof.

Once I get a bit of time I'll review my posts and your replies and post (hopefully) snark-free replies. Please feely free to call me on snark if you see it.

Anonymous said...

yea-mon,

Keep drinking the Cool-aid.

The reactors are STILL leaking.



Anonymous said...

Or, more precisely, something at Fukushima (storage tanks?) is STILL leaking.

It does not appear that TEPCO even knows where the leaks are coming from more than two years later.

Perhaps you can inform us all, yea-mon.

Martin Vermeer said...

Let it rest, anonymous. You made your point.

Of course Fukushima will continue leaking in unknown ways for years to come. We know that, it doesn't add significantly to the scope of the disaster, so please stop squeezing that lemon.

Heck, three reactor cores melted down, and blobs of molten reactor-core stuff glowing incandescent (temperatures of 2000-3000 K!) sank through the bottom of the vessel into the concrete well below. Hydrogen produced from steam reacting with zirconium blasted the reactor buildings and everything in them from the inside. The radiation level makes approach by humans impossible -- forget about doing useful work there. How can you expect anything else than the unpleasant surprises continuing?

That being said, TEPCO is slowly getting better at this. They'll have to.

Anonymous said...

AM2 asks the question: Which goes back to a more fundamental question, which is, does it make sense to invest so heavily in massive, centralized power projects that require operators to make decisions under pressure with such costly and dangerous consequences in the event of an unforeseen sequence of events? "

Because the alternatives are inadequate (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal as far as meeting demand) or also have dangerous consequences (carbon intensive).

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Anonymous said...

MV: "That being said, TEPCO is slowly getting better at this. They'll have to."

I don't know how much of TEPCO's "getting better at this" we can stand.

RBS: "Because the alternatives are inadequate (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal as far as meeting demand) or also have dangerous consequences (carbon intensive)."

Except that they aren't, at least not so much as is often claimed by lovers of large, shiny, expensive, heavily subsidized, dangerous, and uninsurable objects.

And I wouldn't assume that "demand" is a fixed and easily predictable quantity, either. To some extent, nuclear advocates have historically relied on the the old "build it and they will come" theory.

AM2

Anonymous said...

To expand a little, it's clear that far too much of our current electricity and fuel demands are being met by heavily subsidized and dangerous fossil fuels. The fossil fuels are the main problem, and they should be replaced by non-carbon based sources of energy as rapidly as we can safely do it. Before we start building nuclear plants hand-over-fist, however, I'd like to see the removal of heavy subsidies for the fossil fuel industries, including making them responsible for more of the costs of externalities through taxation of carbon. This would make the price of carbon far higher than it is currently and make other sources of energy more competitive. This would drive efficiency and innovation for improving grid and transportation infrastructure and developing renewables.

If the newer nuclear reactor designs address all of the above-mentioned problems with the old designs, that would be great, but I don't believe that "clean, safe, too-cheap-to-meter" nuclear power, if it existed, would solve all of our sustainability worries. Our carbon footprint is only the biggest and most immediate of many human footprints we need to deal with. We need to reduce a myriad of other human impacts that also threaten our survival, which means rethinking our priorities while we take what are admittedly desperate measures in the short term. Poorly considered desperate measures have a tendency to make things worse and drive even more desperate measures in the long run. That's the path we're on, I'm afraid.

AM2

Anonymous said...

Oops, that earlier quote was from "RSB" not "RBS."

AM2

Anonymous said...

"TEPCO is slowly getting better at this. They'll have to."

"Getting better" at what?

Compared to what?

"They'll have to", or what?

People (including Eli) talk about the Fuskushima disaster as if it were completely in the past (How many died?)

"Of course Fukushima will continue leaking in unknown ways for years to come. We know that, it doesn't add significantly to the scope of the disaster, so please stop squeezing that lemon."

Please explain to us all how you know that, Martin, especially when TEPCO can't even say where the radiation is leaking from or where it may be leaking to (eg, into groundwater) or when (if ever) it will stop.

Among other things (economic losses, unusable land, loss of homes, etc), the "scope" of a disaster covers the number of people who may die or be injured over the long term by cancers, which in turn, is dependent on how much radiation (particularly cesium 137) is leaked and where it is leaked.

Please explain how you can know these things.

Also please explain to everyone how you know the "scope" of the disaster won't get any worse if there is another earthquake that might impact cooling of the spent fuel pool(s) and lead to additional radiation releases.

I eagerly await your answers to the above questions, but I suspect that you are merely providing false assurances (ie, assurances without adequate information) which is precisely what my original criticism related to.

But no need for concern. I won't depend on any information I get here.


Anonymous said...

Or, let me keep it simple, Martin:

If, as you say, "Fukushima will continue leaking in unknown ways for years to come" how can you say that it "doesn't add significantly to the scope of the disaster"?

That strikes me as an untenable (and unscientific) claim.

yea-mon said...

Let it rest, anonymous. You made your point.

Of course Fukushima will continue leaking in unknown ways for years to come. We know that, it doesn't add significantly to the scope of the disaster, so please stop squeezing that lemon.


Thanks for that Martin.

However, addressing Anomymous' one-liners:

The reactors are STILL leaking.

A possibility. There is also the chance that what is escaping the reactor buildings are radioisotopes that were blown from the reactors in the hydrogen explosions. Either way, preventing groundwater getting into those buildings would be a good idea.

Or, more precisely, something at Fukushima (storage tanks?) is STILL leaking.

The underground storage tanks have been pumped out. Ref: http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/233586.html

The above ground tanks, I'm sure, will still leak - the question is, will the leaks be significant?

Finally, Anonymous (Can't you at least use an identifier like AM2?) what is you solution to the current situation?

yea-mon said...

AM2

Except that they aren't, at least not so much as is often claimed by lovers of large, shiny, expensive, heavily subsidized, dangerous, and uninsurable objects.

In Japan at least renewables have a high hurdle to reach - two different grids: east and west Japan, no power links to any neighbouring countries and no likely hood of those due to intractable political problems.

yea-mon said...

I hope you don't mind me contributing my take on these points Martin.

Please explain to us all how you know that, Martin, especially when TEPCO can't even say where the radiation is leaking from or where it may be leaking to (eg, into groundwater) or when (if ever) it will stop.

Leaking from the reactor buildings, leaking into the groundwater. As for it stopping, I don't know - but there are plans to manage the flow rate.

the "scope" of a disaster covers the number of people who may die or be injured over the long term by cancers, which in turn, is dependent on how much radiation (particularly cesium 137) is leaked and where it is leaked.

Actually, Iodine 131 was the big issue. Cancer deaths are not expected to be great, according to organisations like WHO, IAEA, and the Japanese governement.

Also please explain to everyone how you know the "scope" of the disaster won't get any worse if there is another earthquake that might impact cooling of the spent fuel pool(s) and lead to additional radiation releases.

SFP4 has been reinforced, fuel has been cooling for over 2 years now, fuel pool heat levels are such tat an extend outage would be needed for damage to occur - and that assumes people doing nothing about it in the meantime.

I eagerly await your answers to the above questions, but I suspect that you are merely providing false assurances (ie, assurances without adequate information) which is precisely what my original criticism related to.

Hope my answers help.

Anonymous said...

ym: "In Japan at least renewables have a high hurdle to reach - two different grids: east and west Japan, no power links to any neighbouring countries and no likely hood of those due to intractable political problems."

I trust you've looked at this issue and are much more familiar with Japan's challenges than I am, yea-mon. How about geothermal and wave/tidal energy, which aren't so intermittent? Perhaps with further advances in energy storage, some of these hurdles can be reduced. Administrative changes could also lead to greater efficiency and reduce the need for new generation capacity, for example, equalizing the value of energy saved to energy consumed and allowing customers to get paid for their energy savings (i.e., demand-response, also known as "negawatts"). I confess I'm not aware if Japan is already pursuing these alternatives, although I'm sure they are investing in research. In the near term, perhaps Japan has no choice but to make the best of the existing nuclear infrastructure in which they're already invested so much capital. I wish Japan well in transitioning to clean sources of energy, yea-mon.

AM2

Martin Vermeer said...

> how you know the "scope" of the disaster won't get any worse if there is another earthquake

Which would be a new disaster.

About TEPCO (now state-owned) getting better, this would have been unthinkable before. It's finally an admission that the safety culture is the core problem and must be addressed. Otherwise of course old habits die hard.

You remind me of someone who kept whining on about Solyndra and what it had cost the American tax payer, going on and on and on, never mentioning that the programme it was a part of actually had earned the tax payer money. I cannot stand politically-motivated whiners. Give it up already.

Martin Vermeer said...

Already happening.

Anonymous said...

Martin,

You avoided answering my most basic question to you (not to yea-mon, who seems to pipe in on everything and say nothing)

If, as you say, "Fukushima will continue leaking in unknown ways for years to come" how can you say that it "doesn't add significantly to the scope of the disaster"?

Let me make it even simpler for you, if you don't know how much longer radiation will leak and how much the total will be, how can you say what you did, particularly as a scientist?

Do you actually believe statements like that are "science"?

Do you believe it bolsters your credibility?

Your last comment about Solyndra is just a red herring and a cheap shot. Pathetic, really.




Martin Vermeer said...

Anonymous,

that's very simple. The original disaster happened because a reactor that scrams doesn't immediately stop producing heat, as it contains "hot", short-lived fission products. Since then, the heat production has gone down and down as these short-lived nuclides disappear in reverse order of half-life, and will continue to do so, at an ever slower rate. That's physics for you, AKA science. The quantum theory of radioactive decay by tunnelling, in fact.

At the same time, also the amount and level of activity of radiating material leaking out of the reactors, and the damage it may cause will go down. Perhaps not monotonously, there will be incidents along the way -- just as a warming climate will seem to cool down from time to time. But the long-term trend is down. And the amount of water that has to to be used to keep things cool will drop, eventually to zero.

The net conclusion is that the potential for remaining mishaps at this point in time is small compared to what we have already seen, just like the radiation coming out of a 100-year old piece of Sr-90 over its remaining history is a fraction of what has already come out. The math of decay processes. Surely you know that the integral over (1/T)*exp(-t/T) from a positive t to infinite is finite, and small if t >> T?

It's really very simple. And perhaps now you should stop playing Solyndra poker.

Anonymous said...

the potential for remaining mishaps at this point in time is small compared to what we have already seen,'

Nice try, Martin, but that doesn't answer my question.

You claimed it[radiation leaks] "doesn't add significantly to the scope of the disaster"

The fact is, radiation levels measured just recently at the site and in the vicinity are still relatively high.

For example, the tritium level near the port side water intake for the reactors was recently measured at its "highest concentration since the nuclear crisis began to unfurl in March 2011."


"The government has set an upper limit of 60,000 becquerels per liter for seaborne tritium concentrations outside a nuclear facility.

'TEPCO had said June 19 that 500,000 becquerels of tritium was detected in late May per liter of water from a well on the sea side of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors."

from http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201306250085


and this from reuters

SITUATION WORSENS

Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima station, hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, said that an observation well between the damaged reactor No. 2 and the sea showed levels of radioactive caesium-134 were 90 times higher on Monday than they had been the previous Friday.

Tokyo Electric, also known as Tepco, said it detected caesium-134 at 9,000 becquerels per litre, 150 times above Japan's safety standard. A becquerel is a measure of the release of radioactive energy.

The reading for caesium-137, with a half life of 30 years, was some 85 times higher than it had been three days earlier.

The latest findings, 25 metres (yards) from the sea, come a month after Tepco detected radioactive caesium in groundwater flowing into its wrecked plant far from the sea on elevated ground. The level of caesium found in June was much lower than the amount announced on Tuesday.

The spike, combined with recent discoveries of high levels of radioactive elements like tritium and strontium, suggest that contaminated water is spreading toward the sea side of the plant from the reactors sitting on higher ground.

"We don't know what is the reason behind the spike," [Tepco]


**************************




martin, for you to effectively claim that you know how things will work out in the future when you obviously don't even know what is happening right now is simply ridiculous, not withstanding your claims about 'quantum tunneling" and the rest (so you understand how radioactive decay works. Congratulations)

If you are trying to impress, you failed, just as you failed to answer the question I asked.






Anonymous said...

AM2 said:"RBS: "Because the alternatives are inadequate (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal as far as meeting demand) or also have dangerous consequences (carbon intensive)."

Except that they aren't, at least not so much as is often claimed by lovers of large, shiny, expensive, heavily subsidized, dangerous, and uninsurable objects."

Your link is about the possibility of 80% energy in US from renewable sources by 2050. I do not live in 2050.

I am all for a concerted push to do as much renewable energy as possible, and conservation, it is climate denial and other foolishness that prevents such a government commitment. I do not wish to minimize the drawbacks of nuclear, but I do not wish to exaggerate them either. That is why quantitative risk assessment is better than feelings.

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Martin Vermeer said...

Anonymous, you're just doing a transparent Gish gallop, and the 'if we don't know everything, we don't know anything' nonsense so well known from climatology denial.

I don't debate with denialists, especially not anonymous ones. I made my point, and the additional point of your dishonest rhetorics, to the satisfaction of the other readers here. That's good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those links, Martin.

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between Lady Barbara Judge's statements in that article about TEPCO "getting better" and the other article about installation of a 1 GigaW wind farm to replace the Fukushima reactors. While Lady Judge is improving safety practices, she's also pedal-to-the-metal for nuclear power. It seems she's going beyond her remit by advocating for nuclear energy as a policy and advising TEPCO on public relations. Of course, she's entitled to her opinion, but it makes me concerned if she was hired, in part, as a spokesperson for her strong views as well as a safety manager. The two roles aren't necessarily compatible. For example,

"Judge's answer to such skeptics: TEPCO should do more outreach to answer people's questions and show how nuclear is the superior choice."

"She has advised TEPCO to 'apologize profusely' for the accident..."

"...She pointed to Germany as seeing costly energy imports, worsening carbon emissions and higher electricity prices, while it's buying nuclear power from France, after opting for a nuclear phase-out."

"'It's a mess,' said Judge. 'Life without nuclear is the Emperor's new clothes, as far as I'm concerned.'"


Would someone with such a strong viewpoint in favor of nuclear power be likely to reveal current safety shortcomings? I find it very hard to be convinced that she has single-handedly changed decades of lax safety culture.

Your links provide an interesting juxtaposition, and I'm curious to see how it turns out.

AM2

Martin Vermeer said...

AM2, yes, that struck me too. But remember she is a banking person with little science/technology background, where she seems out of her depth. I don't expect she'll actually have any much influence on Japan's energy policy, but she's quite outspoken on the safety culture issue which is within her remit, and must be resolved for there to be any future for nuclear at all in Japan. And being so clearly pro-nuclear may actually help making the nuke folks listen -- tribal identity and such.

BTW the 1GW wind farm 'replacing' Fukushima seems a bit premature, as surely this is nameplate not average power. But you have to start somewhere...

Anonymous said...

RSB: "Your link is about the possibility of 80% energy in US from renewable sources by 2050. I do not live in 2050."

Nuclear energy might be able to meet 80% of US energy needs sooner than 2050, but I'm doubtful that the public is willing to accept it, or that investors will be willing to build that amount of nuclear capacity, without strong government support and liability protections (from which nuclear has admittedly benefited greatly in the past). I think this assessment of the relative capacity and costs of various currently available technologies is useful in making comparisons. This isn't my area of expertise and I don't mean to quibble with you, it has just been my observation that the relative benefits of nuclear power vs. other technologies is sometimes presented as very clear-cut, while I think the picture is more multi-faceted and rapidly changing.

Regarding quantitative risk assessments vs. feelings, I'm in general agreement with you, having prepared and reviewed many quantitative risk assessments. I'm also aware of their limitations, and how they can be steered to meet their clients' objectives, particularly in the absence of reliable data, which is a big question for the Fukushima accident.

I can see that with Japan's existing commitment and investment in nuclear infrastructure, it would be nearly impossible for them to discontinue using nuclear power without further damage to their economy. I still have questions about their ability to safely manage and operate their old plants. Pretty much the worst-case scenario, which they said could never happen, has already occurred (well, it could always be worse), and I hope there won't be any more such accidents.

AM2

yea-mon said...

AM2,

I trust you've looked at this issue and are much more familiar with Japan's challenges than I am, yea-mon. How about geothermal and wave/tidal energy, which aren't so intermittent?

My sources for geothermal is largely the “2010 Country Update for Japan,” by H. Sugino and T. Akeno. It gives a figure of 23GW, but the authors say this would need a technological breakthrough. Abesnt one they estimate 1 GW available to develop - equivalent to one nuclear reactor. Their results don't prevent Lester Brown from concluding that 80GW is easilt do-able, using their paper as the apparent source: http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2011/update94

Energy storage could be complicated. Japan already has a lot of pumped-storage, which is good - but future sites are limited. Ref: "Electrical energy storage systems for energy networks," J. Kondoh et all

Wave and tidal do not seem to be well-developed, at least in Japan. The Environment Ministry's 2009 report on renewable potential in Japan does not even deal with it. Ref: http://www.env.go.jp/earth/report/h22-02/full.pdf


Perhaps with further advances in energy storage, some of these hurdles can be reduced.

Better and cheaper energy storage would certianly be a game-changer.

Administrative changes could also lead to greater efficiency and reduce the need for new generation capacity, for example, equalizing the value of energy saved to energy consumed and allowing customers to get paid for their energy savings (i.e., demand-response, also known as "negawatts").

Smart networks would be good, but negawatts (which should really be negawatt hours) seem a very hard concept to put into practice. Who judges the average power use that the savings are measured against?

Also, in Japan we are having a surge in heat-related deaths at the moment, and people not using their air conditioners, either out of a desire to save electricity or money, is a big factor.

I confess I'm not aware if Japan is already pursuing these alternatives, although I'm sure they are investing in research. In the near term, perhaps Japan has no choice but to make the best of the existing nuclear infrastructure in which they're already invested so much capital. I wish Japan well in transitioning to clean sources of energy, yea-mon.

There are projects underway, notably a battery storage system with a 60 MWh capacity in Hokkaido for smoothing solar power there. Some "smart buildings" and "smart neighbourhoods" have been reported in the news, but I am not familiar with their performance.

I look forward to Japan expanding its low-carbon power generation economically, and trying to maximize use of existing facilities and technologies. I do worry though about over-sell of 'clean power', notably the use of nameplate power output being sold as "equivalent to X nuclear power plants", something which Martin addressed here earlier.

As it stands though, our renewables target, inherited from PM Naoto kan, is 20% renewables, and lower nuclear. The original plan however, was 50% nuclear generated electricity, and 20% renewables - so it's still a loss for limiting CO2 emissions for me. Ref: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/data/pdf/20100618_08a.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thanks, yea-mon, I appreciate your references and your thoughtful responses to my questions.

It seems my concerns regarding Lady Judge's progress toward changing the safety culture at TEPCO are not ill-founded: TEPCO Delayed Informing Public Of Contaminated Water Leaking Into Sea

"Hirose apologized for the delay and said that he and TEPCO executive vice president Zengo Aizawa would take a 10 percent salary cut for one month over the matter.

"'Rather than proactively inform the public of potential risks, we retreated to negative thinking and tried to gather more data to ensure there was a problem because it was going to be a major announcement,' Hirose said. 'We've been trying to reform, but we repeated the same mistake. Obviously, our effort is not enough. We are really sorry.'"


TEPCO's reform monitoring committee was not impressed at the quarterly meeting on Friday:
"The head of the reform committee, Dale Klein, said he was disappointed and frustrated by TEPCO's handling of the disclosure of the leaks.

"'These actions indicate that you do not know what you're doing, and that you do not have a plan, and you're not doing all you can to protect the environment and people,' Klein, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said at the meeting."


I understand that TEPCO is in a tight bind of its own making. Announcing preliminary findings before they are confirmed risks further deterioration of public confidence in their management (if that were possible); however, delaying the release of results also erodes public confidence when it appears that TEPCO is withholding critical information that could affect the public's safety. As often happens, TEPCO's delay in taking important steps that could help mitigate problems (such as increased monitoring and dissemination of information), compound the problem because of their fear of the public's reaction:

"On Thursday, the chief of Japan's national federation of fisheries, Hiroshi Kishi, said TEPCO had betrayed the public by denying the leaks for more than two years and demanded the company take steps to stop the leaks immediately and step up monitoring of radioactivity in seawater near the plant.

"TEPCO last detected spikes in radiation levels in underground and seawater samples taken at the plant in May. The company says the contamination is limited to just near the plant, but the extent of the contamination is unknown."
[emphasis added]

How could TEPCO possibly claim that the contamination is limited, when the extent of contamination is unknown, as it has been during the two years since the accident occurred?

AM2

Anonymous said...

What could possibly go wrong?

"Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.

"'They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,' said Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies.

"The operation, beginning this November at the plant's Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts.

"That could lead to a worse disaster than the March 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the world's most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.

"No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: 'Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.'

" '...if you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs," said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.

"...Spent fuel rods also contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances in the universe...

"INADVERTENT CRITICALITY

" 'There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other,' Gundersen said.

"He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn't designed to absorb.

" 'The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can't stop it. There are no control rods to control it,' Gundersen said. 'The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction.'

"The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said...

" 'Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don't have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods,' Kimura said....

"And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about [sic] Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.

"When asked what was the worst possible scenario, Tepco is planning for, Nagai said: 'We are now considering risks and countermeasures.'"

See, nothing to worry about!

AM2