Seven Tons of Radioactive Water an Hour (via New York Times)

My father tells me that the news from Fukushima is all over the cable news. I wouldn’t know. I’m careful not to watch. I prefer my sources, BBC, Reuters, the New York Times, McClatchy, AP and a few others. The 24 news programs generate a lot of nonsense and I only occasionally use clips.

For my taste there should be more news about these events in the more regular media.

James Pilant

From the New York Times –

Experts estimate that about seven tons an hour of radioactive water is escaping the pit. Safety officials have said that the water, which appears to be coming from the damaged No. 2 reactor, contains one million becquerels per liter of iodine 131, or about 10,000 times the levels normally found in water at a nuclear plant.

“There is still a steady stream of water from the pit,” Mr. Nishiyama said, but workers would continue to “observe and evaluate” the situation overnight.

The leak underscores the dangerous side effects of the strategy to cool the plant’s reactors and spent fuel storage pools by pumping them with hundreds of tons of water. While much of that water evaporates, a significant portion also turns into dangerous runoff that has been discovered in various parts of the plant, endangering workers at the plant and hindering repair efforts. On March 24, three workers were injured when they stepped into a pool of radioactive water in one of the plant’s turbine buildings.

In recent days, workers have tried to clear the contaminated pools, but have struggled to find places to store the water. Meanwhile, levels of iodine 131 that are over 4,000 times normal, as well as levels of cesium 137 that are 527 times normal have been detected in seawater taken 1,080 feet away from the plant, raising fears of damage to sea life.

Tokyo Electric has said it has little choice but to pump more water into the reactors at the moment, since the normal cooling systems at the plant are inoperable and more radioactive material would be released if the reactors were allowed to melt down fully or if the rods caught fire.

Wolf Creek nuclear plant among three in U.S. that need more oversight, NRC reports (via McClatchy and The Kansas City Star)

You might want to make a copy of this post. When someone is carefully explaining to you as if to a small child that while there have been  problems, this kind of thing (meltdowns, leaks, etc.) couldn’t happen in the United States – While he is consigning you to the ranks of the unrealistic tree huggers who unlike him don’t deal with the “real world,” you might wave this in front of his often unseeing eyes and watch a momentary doubt pass like a wedding veil briefly over his face. He’ll think for a moment about claiming that the NRC is also a bunch of tree huggers but decide against it. Then smiling he will regain the offensive by saying, “Thats why it can’t happen here. Our guys are better than there guys when it comes to safety. See right there in the paper. You’ve proved mycase.”

At this point, give up on persuasion. Give up on logic and reason. You are dealing with a religion, a belief that the real world involves cruel often vicious decisions and when someone raises a moral or ethical question or even a simple fact, they are to be considered, “unrealistic.”

They believe that we must be cruel and unflinching, ever striving to be tougher and less principled than our enemies, who are everywhere.

I am willing to consider nuclear power as a part of an energy policy but I want careful safeguards and real assurances. The PR nonsense and hack formulaic writing gives me that impression that once I am consigned to the anti-nuclear wackos, my concerns are irrelevant.

If that is going to be the level of discourse, then I don’t want any nuclear power anywhere on this planet.

The concerns of many that there were problems in safety have been ratified cruelly by events. And yet I read over and over again how this is just a bump in the road while listening to the insults directed against those who committed the greatest crime possible in the dispute over nuclear power, being right.

James Pilant

By MIKE McGRAW From the Kansas City Star

The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant is among three in the United States that need more intensive oversight, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Congress on Thursday.

NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko stressed that all 65 nuclear generating stations, which have a total of 104 reactors, are operating safely. But Jaczko said Wolf Creek and two others need a higher level of review because of continuing problems with safety systems and unplanned shutdowns.

Jaczko told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the three plants “are the ones we are most concerned about.” The other two are the H.B. Robinson plant in Hartsville, S.C., and the Fort Calhoun plant near Omaha, about 180 miles northwest of Kansas City.

Japanese nuclear plant’s containment vessels remain suspect as radiation levels spike (via McClatchy)

Courtesy of The Market Oracle

This crisis just keeps on going. I want an end to it. I want everybody to be okay, unhurt, undamaged. But I am not going to get my wish. The people who created this disaster were so smart, so well placed and so well financed that all warnings no matter how factual bounced off of them.

Those who opposed nuclear power from the fringe to the most respectable were consigned as unrealistic tree huggers.

Well, the treehuggers got it right.

But I tell you, I feel pain every time I come across another article that talks about how this is just like getting another chest x-ray a year and that compared to stepladders and animal attacks the casualties have been few.

There comes a point at which this kind of commentary moves from the average to the mediocre, from opinion writing to caricature.

Even when they admit some unfortunate fact, they still conclude with, “It can’t happen here.”

It can’t happen here. It can, does and will. Human stupidity is a common characteristic. Add human stupidity to the semi-eternal capabilities of radiation and you have a very bad mix indeed.

Tens of thousands of Japanese may never be able to return to their homes and possessions. A thousand of the dead from the tsunami and earthquake cannot be gathered from the area. They rot uncared for.

This is the reality, a reality which will be denied over and over again. It’s already being denied.

The advocates of nuclear power will hope that in time this will all go away. Memories will fade, new PR, friendly hack articles will appear and nuclear power will be heralded as the cure for our problems.

And then some more will be built – until the next “accident.”

James Pilant

From McClatchy

Radiation levels spiked inside and outside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Thursday, slowing work on the facility once again and once more throwing into doubt the integrity of the containment vessels that hold the fuel rods.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said levels of radioactive iodine in water at the plant spiked to levels 10,000 times permissible limits, preventing workers from getting near the water.

Engineers have been pumping water out of the tunnels in the basements of the facilities and into holding areas in an attempt to permit access to areas where workers are trying to restore electricity to the cooling pumps that could ultimately bring the situation at the stricken facility under control. But they cannot do so when radiation levels are that high.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Hi-Res Photos | Cryptome (via DFTF)

I thought you might like to see this picture.

My thanks to DFTF.

James Pilant

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Hi-Res Photos |  Cryptome If you’re wondering why trace amounts of radiation has been found in Washington state, check out these photos. The most trashed reactor, No. 3,  above, is actually in reasonable shape while the one that looks the most undamaged, No. 2, has probably already melted down. Draw your own conclusions about the safety of nuclear power. View Photos. … Read More

via DFTF

There Are Holes In U.S. Radiation Monitoring Stations

From Associated Press

Parts of America’s radiation alert network have been out of order during Japan’s nuclear crisis, raising concerns among some lawmakers about whether the system could safeguard the country in a future disaster.

Federal officials say the system of sensors has helped them to validate the impact of nuclear fallout from the overheated Fukushima reactor, and in turn alert local governments and the public. They say no dangerous levels of radiation have reached U.S. shores.

In California, home to two seaside nuclear plants located close to earthquake fault lines, federal authorities said four of the 11 stationary monitors were offline for repairs or maintenance last week. The Environmental Protection Agency said the machines operate outdoors year-round and periodically need maintenance, but did not fix them until a few days after low levels of radiation began drifting toward the mainland U.S.

What do we measure it for anyway? So, the government can explain with a tiny bit more credibility that they have no idea what is happening in Japan but that there is no danger here? The governments both state and local are committed to nuclear power. It doesn’t matter how much radiation is in the air. It’s what is going to be done.

Not to mention the simple fact, that no matter what radiation is out there, we will be assured it is safe and that it couldn’t happen here anyway.

Do you get tired? Does this get old? The Japanese government lies. The Japanese utility company lies. Our government assures us everything is fine. The nuclear industry hires and persuades every half wit hack to write a pro nuclear piece assuring us that everything is just wonderful.

It’s not wonderful. Changes have to be made in the light of what has happened. You cannot dismiss this as an anomaly.

Nuclear power may be a part of America’s energy future, but this is about as far away from an intelligent discussion as can be imagined.

I cannot tell you how many articles I have had to troll through talking the company line.  And to make it more thoroughly, wretchedly disgusting, pretending it is their original thinking and work.

When is there going to be a real national debate not based on corporate PR and a generous helping of campaign money? When is there going to be at least an attempt at deciding with reason and judgment what should be done about nuclear power?

James Pilant


Japan reactor crisis on a knife’s edge, expert warns (via markellis4)

The crisis is on a knife’s edge.  The media has moved on to the Libyan bombing. Unfortunately, the reactors have not gotten all better. In fact, they’re like drunk, old former professional baseball pitchers throwing curve balls all over the park.

Keep an eye on this stuff, guys. Everyday is a guaranteed surprise.

James Pilant

Japan reactor crisis on a knife’s edge, expert warns After workers at the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant were hospitalized yesterday, Japan’s prime minister cited his grave concerns about the unfolding crisis. One nuclear expert believes the situation is close to the point of no return, which could mean a catastrophe larger than Chernobyl. “This is huge,” Physicist Michio Kaku PhD, a professor at City University of New York, told David Muir on Good Morning America. “For the first time, the … Read More

via markellis4