Tag Archives | Nuclear Power
Reported by a source no less than the New Scientist:
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Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.
The difference between this accident and Chernobyl, they say, is that at Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel. But these substances could nevertheless pose a significant health risk outside the plant.
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 passage of strategic leadership in energy policy from an inert and status-quo West to a rising technological power willing to break the mould.
Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster.
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If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.
China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball.
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.
David Jolly & Hiroko Tabuchi report in the NY Times:
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TOKYO — Japan’s effort to contain the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered a setback, an official said on Friday, citing evidence that the reactor vessel of the No. 3 unit may have been damaged.
The development, described at a news conference by Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, raises the possibility that radiation from the mox fuel in the reactor — a combination of uranium and plutonium — could be released.
One sign that a breach may have occurred in the reactor vessel, Mr. Nishiyama said, took place on Thursday when three workers who were trying to connect an electrical cable to a pump in a turbine building next to the reactor were injured when they stepped into water that was found to be significantly more radioactive than normal in a reactor.
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 quantities of radiation received from various sources — allowing for comparisons between Fukushima, Chernobyl, living near a coal plant, taking a walk, getting an x-ray, flying on an airplane, and the largest and deadliest cases of exposure. Read and learn:
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.