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Author Topic: A bit off topic...Bernard Languillier  (Read 14428 times)
UlfKrentz
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« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2011, 01:05:19 PM »
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Yes, emphasis on imagine. The realistic worst-case scenario is nothing like that. The nuclear reaction at Fukushima reactors was successfully stopped within seconds of the earthquake, as designed. It means that the reactors are now cooling, and have been doing so since the event.
snip

You don´t really believe what you posted? Without any hysteria, I´d suggest to get some basic information about nuclear technology and what happened in Japan.
You might find yourself worried about CA.

Cheers, Ulf

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feppe
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« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2011, 03:22:56 PM »
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You don´t really believe what you posted? Without any hysteria, I´d suggest to get some basic information about nuclear technology and what happened in Japan.
You might find yourself worried about CA.

The control rods are supposed to be dropped into the reactor core in the case of an earthquake, and they stop the nuclear reaction. I'm not a physicist, but I've read there's about 3% activity left even with the rods in, though. All 3 units had the control rods successfully inserted/dropped as designed right after the earthquake.

Care to cite sources for your "basic information about nuclear technology" which conflicts with anything I've said?

I don't know what CA means.
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Schewe
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« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2011, 03:52:32 PM »
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Even with the control rods in place, there still needs to be cooling in the reactor or else the risk the build up of heat and pressure which can lead to explosions (which has already happened) and severe damage to the reactor vessel (which is thought to have happened). But worse is the spent fuel rods which also needs to be cooled or else risk over heating and potential meltdown and massive release of serious radiation.

While the reactors did what they were supposed to do and insert the control rods, unfortunately the backup cooling systems failed-which is why they are going to the trouble of streaming seawater (which will ruin the reactors as I understand) and even the extreme measure of dropping water from helicopters (which didn't work).

Increased levels of radiation is already showing up in local food and water which considering the whole area is one of Japan's largest agro area is serious.

Unless you read (and understand) the implications, I would be very reluctant to trivialize the serious problems Japan is having...no, the radiation won't cause a major calamity for the US or other places, but on the ground in Japan it's a very serious situation. I really hope they have success addressing the problems and wish Japan well.
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UlfKrentz
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« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2011, 05:19:12 PM »
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The control rods are supposed to be dropped into the reactor core in the case of an earthquake, and they stop the nuclear reaction. I'm not a physicist, but I've read there's about 3% activity left even with the rods in, though. All 3 units had the control rods successfully inserted/dropped as designed right after the earthquake.

Care to cite sources for your "basic information about nuclear technology" which conflicts with anything I've said?

I don't know what CA means.

I recently read something about the next "big one" in CA lifornia. I don´t feel very comfortable with these power plants next to expected earthquakes.
These men in Japan that are cooling the reactors in Fukushima to prevent a complete meltdown probably more than risk their lifes. (Any idea of what is 3% activity without cooling? One of these reactors is containing plutonium and I heared each plant might have those spent fuel rods that also need to be cooled placed right above the reactors.)
I am sad. I wish them well.
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feppe
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« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2011, 07:13:26 PM »
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I recently read something about the next "big one" in CA lifornia. I don´t feel very comfortable with these power plants next to expected earthquakes.
These men in Japan that are cooling the reactors in Fukushima to prevent a complete meltdown probably more than risk their lifes. (Any idea of what is 3% activity without cooling? One of these reactors is containing plutonium and I heared each plant might have those spent fuel rods that also need to be cooled placed right above the reactors.)
I am sad. I wish them well.

Last I checked (earlier today) the reactors were at 65 degrees Centigrade. Again, I'm no physicist, but that's not exactly schorching hot, especially since the melting point of plutonium appears to be around 600 degrees higher.

As I've been saying from the beginning, the nuclear reaction was successfully and automatically shut down within seconds of the earthquake in all three affected reactors, which means that the reactors will cool down eventually. Cooling them with water will speed the process, but it will happen. The reactors will not restart or get hotter, unless there's a "worst case scenario" and Michael Bay directs.

Once again: yes, it's a tragedy. But there are much more dangerous man-made and natural tragedies on-going, and the Fukushima tragedy is getting wildly disproportionate mind share, fed by ignorance, sensationalism and irrational fear. There is a civil war in Libya, a brutal gunning down of 40+ civilians in Yemen, and 800,000 people living in camps for years in Haiti, one of the poorest countries on earth. And don't get me started on the economy.

I'm done with this.
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Schewe
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« Reply #25 on: March 20, 2011, 12:24:26 AM »
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Last I checked (earlier today) the reactors were at 65 degrees Centigrade. Again, I'm no physicist, but that's not exactly schorching hot, especially since the melting point of plutonium appears to be around 600 degrees higher.

That's for the reactors...not the spent fuel rods (which may or may not be exposed). And while the temp isn't too bad now (since they have apparently gotten water on the reactors), something must have happened (the build up of hydrogen) that caused the explosions (and released radiation) earlier in the week.

Any way you look it it, this situation is serious...not to say that other situations aren't but that's a different discussion. Don't try to mitigate a serious situation...
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #26 on: March 20, 2011, 02:30:49 AM »
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Hi,

I essentially agree with what Jeff is saying. There has been little loss of human life at the plant, but that is no reason to marginalize the accident. Hopefully the environmental effects can be contained and the evacuees soon return to their homes, but:

1) Situation is very serious
2) Major problem is loss of electric power due to tsunami, auxiliary power wiped out and backup systems flooded.
3) Even after shutdown electric power is needed to cool the fuel because of residual power to avoid meltdown. Electric power has not been available for most of a week. Signficant damage to core is believed to occurred on the plants that were in operations. Those plants are gone forever.
4) Oxyhydrogen explosions blew of the top of several reactor building indicating overheated fuel reacting with water and releasing hydrogen.
5) Spent fuel is stored in pools below massive amounts of water. This fuel also needs cooling. My impression is that oxyhydrogen explosions have occurred in storage pools indicating low water levels and overheated fuel.
6) The low temperature reported are storage pools as far as I know.

On the bright side:

It seems that radiation doses for workers are kept reasonable under the conditions. The levels this far would not cause acute radiation sickness. Also radiation levels outside the plant area are not very high (as far as I know and depending on definition of very high).

It seems that some progress has been made on cooling the spent fuel pools.

It also seems that the staff at the site successfully restarted at least one backup diesel and they start to connect electricity to the plant, so they can hopefully restart cooling systems instead of using makeshift cooling solutions.

Best regards
Erik

Even with the control rods in place, there still needs to be cooling in the reactor or else the risk the build up of heat and pressure which can lead to explosions (which has already happened) and severe damage to the reactor vessel (which is thought to have happened). But worse is the spent fuel rods which also needs to be cooled or else risk over heating and potential meltdown and massive release of serious radiation.

While the reactors did what they were supposed to do and insert the control rods, unfortunately the backup cooling systems failed-which is why they are going to the trouble of streaming seawater (which will ruin the reactors as I understand) and even the extreme measure of dropping water from helicopters (which didn't work).

Increased levels of radiation is already showing up in local food and water which considering the whole area is one of Japan's largest agro area is serious.

Unless you read (and understand) the implications, I would be very reluctant to trivialize the serious problems Japan is having...no, the radiation won't cause a major calamity for the US or other places, but on the ground in Japan it's a very serious situation. I really hope they have success addressing the problems and wish Japan well.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #27 on: March 20, 2011, 04:41:47 AM »
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Hello my friends,

Just a quick message to confirm that my wife and I are indeed doing well. I do appreciate your concern! We have been in Osaka for a few days and currently intend to move back to Tokyo on Monday.

Our own situation is comfortable in absolute term and shamefully so compared to what folks in Northern Japan are now facing. We are now looking at ways to help.

Regarding the nuclear thing. The situation in Fukushima has indeed shown some signs of improvement but remains serious. We have now basically accepted the fact that there would be no clear cut miracle with a sharp transition from disaster to normal. It is going to take more time and there are going to be a certain level of impacts that will vary gradually depending on the distance from the source. I do not believe that Tokyo will be affected in a major way, it seems more likely to have a limited increase of ambient radioactivity for some time. How much and how long is unclear but most experts do not anticipate any negative effect on health outside a narrow area surrounding the Fukushima plants.

Today, there is a growing irritation in Japan regarding the cheap sensationalism of the WW media. We are getting tired of reading mild disappointment in the eyes of commentators when there is no new explosion to report on or a drop in radioactivity. Let's face it, it looks like CNN would really prefer this to stay hot as long as possible. BBC World is once more the international media outlet coming very far on top of the rest of the herd.

Many people from different nationalities and background I have spoken with these past few days consider this crisis to seal the death of journalism as we have known it, more so than the death of Nuclear technology. I know understand how millions of people have felt all these years about being reported upon that way. We do of course understand though that some of that is the result of the work performed by different lobbies with vested interests, for or against Nuclear energy, for or against a healthy Japanese economy,...

A lot of positive things can also be seen though. Many countries have really tried to help Japan in various ways, we do feel a huge solidarity from citizens from various countries that have started to provide huge amounts of money to help with the reconstruction. That really is moving.

Cheers,
Bernard
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eronald
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« Reply #28 on: March 20, 2011, 05:06:56 AM »
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Population density in Japan is extremely high. If radioactive materials get released into the atmosphere to a significant degree, then the 20 million or so people living in the Tokyo area 200 miles away are in trouble. This is the elephant in the room.

Edmund

Yes, emphasis on imagine. The realistic worst-case scenario is nothing like that. The nuclear reaction at Fukushima reactors was successfully stopped within seconds of the earthquake, as designed. It means that the reactors are now cooling, and have been doing so since the event. The event to a 5 on the INES scale, same as Three Mile Island accident, and two steps below Chernobyl.

The hysteria started immediately, nevertheless. As Erik points out, there are countless column inches dedicated to an isolated, minor incident when compared to the deaths caused by coal or oil power, the death and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami elsewhere - not to mention the on-going recovery and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. The hysteria is Germany announcing an inspection of all nuclear plants - Germany is not exactly known for catastrophic earthquakes. Similar hysteria is everywhere in Europe, and I'm sure elsewhere.

Rob has it right: there's very little to do with reality and science in what politicians (and media) say, it's mostly about salesmanship of votes (and newspapers).

Your anecdote about hydro-fracking is entirely irrelevant: it's a new technology AFAIK, not related to nuclear power in any shape or form, in a country on the other side of the world.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #29 on: March 20, 2011, 08:46:00 AM »
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A very coolheaded, technical, detailed, and non-sensationalistic breakdown of the power plant crises can be found at http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/03/understanding-japans-nuclear-crisis.ars

I found it a very interesting read and much better than most of the dribble the main networks have been putting out.

Wishing Bernard and the rest of Japan the best,

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #30 on: March 20, 2011, 09:27:24 AM »
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A very coolheaded, technical, detailed, and non-sensationalistic breakdown of the power plant crises can be found at http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/03/understanding-japans-nuclear-crisis.ars

Wishing Bernard and the rest of Japan the best,

Thanks Doug, this is indeed a well researched write up.

One small mistake perhaps is the mention that the plant had not been designed to withstand tsunamis. It seems that it was designed to take a 5m high tsunami, the one that occured on March 11th was apparently around 10m in that area.

Cheers,
Bernard
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PdF
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« Reply #31 on: March 20, 2011, 09:32:14 AM »
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Très heureux - et rassuré - de pouvoir vous lire à nouveau !

PdF
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bradleygibson
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« Reply #32 on: March 20, 2011, 09:56:39 AM »
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Glad you are all right, Bernard.

Thanks, Doug, for the link.

Also, here is a good article (although not without its own mistakes as well--be sure to read the comments afterward) on how (ionizing) radiation impacts health.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-radiation-threatens-health&page=1

Update: SciAm has re-edited the article to address all of the inaccuracies that have been raised in the comments--it is a worthwhile read.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2011, 10:05:14 PM by bradleygibson » Logged

Doug Peterson
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« Reply #33 on: March 20, 2011, 10:19:31 AM »
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That was a good read as well, including your comments. Thanks Bradley!

Always good to see actual scientific reasoning in the analysis of world crises.

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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Mitchell Baum
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« Reply #34 on: March 20, 2011, 10:21:08 AM »
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Of course there are many reasons for the fascination with the nuclear crisis in Japan, and it is undeniable that the non-nuclear tsunami effects have caused way more death and misery than the reactor problems. It is also true that the media makes unwholesome sensationalism for financial gain, and the public reaction is often irrational.

That said, I don't think it's surprising that people are very concerned about the nuclear crisis. Unlike the tsunami which we can't control (and killed less people than the recent one in Indonisia), it is man made. Nuclear power is not easily understood, and requires trust in "experts" and a powerful industry, a trust which seems to have been betrayed. The more powerful the technology, the greater the unintended consequences. Can powerful industries be policed by governments? Are they, like Wall Street blinded by herd mentalities?

Unlike coal mining, it threatens everyone in an area. It's threat is unseen, insidious, and long lasting. Land at the reactor sites (we won't know how much for a while yet, hopefully not much) will be unusable for hundreds of years in a country where land is at a premium. It highlights our difficulty with risk assessment and balancing. Should we plan for the 100, 1000, or 10,000 year event? What's the difference in cost?

It also goes to the heart of our strategy for living on earth. I heard an expert in nuclear power discussing the crisis say that we must have atomic reactors because we will require 50% more energy by 2020. For me, this pervasive attitude, that we have no choice about the increased amount of energy we will use, is the most frightening thing about the world situation. Of course we have a choice though not an easy one. We can use less energy by conserving more, being more efficient, and dare I say it, consuming less and having less children. We could even find more satisfying ways to live. If our "energy requirements" continue to rise at the present rate, the world will become a very unpleasant and difficult place to live.

My thoughts are with the people in Japan coping with so much devastation and loss.

Best,

Mitchell
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #35 on: March 20, 2011, 12:11:13 PM »
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Hi Edmund,

Hopefully you are pessimistic. The first couple of days were most critical, IMHO.

Best regards
Erik


Population density in Japan is extremely high. If radioactive materials get released into the atmosphere to a significant degree, then the 20 million or so people living in the Tokyo area 200 miles away are in trouble. This is the elephant in the room.

Edmund

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NikoJorj
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« Reply #36 on: March 20, 2011, 05:18:08 PM »
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It seems that it was designed to take a 5m high tsunami, the one that occured on March 11th was apparently around 10m in that area.
Sorry to post a link in french, but http://isterre.fr/article482.html explains well the problem with tsunami risk management : to put it simply, such an earthquake wasn't expected.
More exactly, it wasn't expected that several segments of the fault could break together (think about a surface of 500km by 100km, and a displacement of a few to 10m).
The earthquake itself was distant and deep, and so the paraseismic buildings could reasonably cope with it, but the tsunami itself was proportional to the hugeness of the seism, without much to dampen it.

NB Glad to hear you're well!
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #37 on: March 20, 2011, 05:25:38 PM »
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Sorry to post a link in french, but http://isterre.fr/article482.html explains well the problem with tsunami risk management : to put it simply, such an earthquake wasn't expected.
More exactly, it wasn't expected that several segments of the fault could break together (think about a surface of 500km by 100km, and a displacement of a few to 10m).
The earthquake itself was distant and deep, and so the paraseismic buildings could reasonably cope with it, but the tsunami itself was proportional to the hugeness of the seism, without much to dampen it.

NB Glad to hear you're well!

That's a curious point. I wonder if geologists are reconsidering their risk models and structural engineers preparedness like economists are due to long tails. If an event is expected to happen every 10,000 years it is rare, but inevitable.
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« Reply #38 on: March 20, 2011, 05:50:52 PM »
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Thanks, Doug.  Smiley  I appreciated your post for its appeal to reason as well.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2011, 07:05:03 PM »
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To put things into perspective, a radiation dose chart:

http://xkcd.com/radiation/

The chart contains Fukushima plant radiation as well.

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