Nuclear Power

RadiationFlashes of extremely intense radioactivity have become a serious problem, he said. Tokyo Electric’s difficulties in providing accurate information on radiation are not a result of software problems, as some Japanese officials have suggested, but stem from damage to measurement instruments caused by radiation, the executive said. It’s at the end of this NY Times article:

Still, concerns about the plant remain high. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated Wednesday that some of the core of the No. 2 reactor had flowed from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure. The theory implies more damage at the unit than previously believed.

While a spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric dismissed the analysis, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan agreed that it was possible that the core had leaked into the larger containment vessel.

The possibility raised new questions. The Nuclear Regulator Commission said that its speculation about the flow of core material out of the reactor vessel would explain high radiation readings in an area underneath, called the drywell.

But some of the radiation readings at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a western nuclear executive asserted.

This sounds familiar, did they get advice from BP? The Guardian reports: Engineers battling to contain the crisis at Japan‘s Fukushima nuclear power plant appeared to have turned an important corner last…

Can thorium be a safer alternative to uranium? China thinks so. The Telegraph reports: This passed unnoticed –except by a small of band of thorium enthusiasts – but it may mark the…

Nuclear RainVia the Intel Hub:

While the Japanese government continues to say that the yellow rain seen in Japan was simply “pollen,” many have been reminded of a very similar occurrence after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Almost on cue, the Japan Meteorological Agency has confirmed the rain to be pollen after receiving hundreds of calls from concerned citizens.

The ‘‘yellow rain’’ seen Wednesday in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo was caused by pollen, not radioactive materials as many residents had worried, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Thursday, reported the Japan Times.

That’s right, according to so called experts, enough pollen to cause hundreds to report their findings, rained down on Tokyo at the same time as a devastating nuclear disaster has released high levels of radiation at least 20 km from the nuclear plant.

This explanation has reminded many of the yellow rain that hit after the Chernobyl disaster.

3596889720_f52826d665_zIs this list a case of fear-mongering? Possibly, but I would want to be aware if I lived nearby one of these wildcards. The Daily Beast presents a ranking of our nation’s most ripe-for-disaster nuclear reactors, as determined by a panel of experts, with Indian Point (Buchanan, NY), San Onofre ( San Clemente, CA), and Limerick, PA rounding out the top three:

1. Indian Point

Location: Buchanan, NY (24 miles north of New York City)
Reactors: 2
Electrical Output (megawatts): Unit 2: 1020; Unit 3: 1025
Year Operating License Issued: Unit 2: 1973; Unit 3: 1975
Population within 50 Miles: 17,452,585
Relative Safety Rating: bottom third

Randall Munroe of the blog xkcd took the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake tragedy (with its resultant fears of nuclear contamination) as an opportunity to construct a chart putting into perspective the…

For those of you who haven’t already seen this video, currently making the rounds of weirdness aggregation sites everywhere, here’s the Japanese cartoon that explains the Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis to children. Apparently Kazuhiko Hachiya’s “Nuclear Boy” is actually playing on national TV in Japan.

Japan Earthquake 03/11/2011Interesting article from Leo Lewis in the Times from 2007, about how Japan nearly avoided a “nuclear power-quake disaster” back then. It always seems when these great disasters happen there was the one lone expert who no one took seriously. Leo Lewis writes”

Japan’s turbulent history of war and natural catastrophe has already given the world a terrifying vocabulary of death: tsunami, kamikaze, Hiroshima.

But the country now stands on the brink of unleashing its most chilling phrase yet: genpatsu-shinsai — the combination of an earthquake and nuclear meltdown capable of destroying millions of lives and bringing a nation to its knees.

The phrase, derived from the Japanese words for “nuclear power” and “quake disaster”, is the creation of Katsuhiko Ishibashi, Japan’s leading seismologist and one of the Government’s top advisers on nuclear-quake safety. He said that the world may never know how close it came to its first genpatsu-shinsai this week. Luck, as much an anything else, helped to avert it.

Reuters reports:

Opponents of nuclear power formed a 120-km (75-mile) human chain between reactor sites in Germany Saturday to protest against government plans to extend the power plants’ operation.

Around 120,000 peaceful demonstrators, according to police and organizers, linked arms in a chain running between the northern towns of Brunsbuettel and Kruemmel that passed through the city of Hamburg…

This is creepy news from Cyriaque Lamar on on a Der Spiegel report: It’s been 25 years since Chernobyl fallout contaminated flora and fauna in Europe, but German hunting officials are…