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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bad to Worse at Fukushima

A report on Aljazeera takes a detailed and hard look at the current situation at the tsunami-damaged power plant in Fukushima, and things there don't look good, by a long shot.

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

That is what Arnold Gundersen, a senior vice-president in the U.S. nuclear industry, says, and this man ought to know.   He has almost 40 years experience in operating 70 nuclear reactors, and a man with those credentials is very unlikely to paint such a dismal picture of a nuclear disaster if there is any way out of doing so.

  I had thought that a meltdown is the ultimate nuclear power plant disaster and that just one was plenty enough,  enough, that is, to put a large amount of territory off-limits for a great many years.  But at Fukushima there have been not one but three meltdowns..   The Japanese  authorities have come out and said so.  And there have been not only these three incidents, meaning the nuclear fuel melting down into a big blob on the bottom of the reactor container, with more meltdowns in the offing, but also there's been one "meltthrough," meaning, besides melting to the floor, the fuel has also burned through several layers of the bottom of that "thermos bottle.".   Even worse, all this stuff is still percolating and hot, and not much of anything else can be done until a way can be found to get the whole mess down to a decent temperature.   Pouring water on it is the only way to do that, because of the half-life thing, but then you end up with thousands of tons of radioactive water, and ways have to be found to dispose of that safely, and no one knows yet how to do that.

Meanwhile the equivalent of 17 Manhattan Islands (minus all those monstrous skyscrapers, naturally) of Japanese territory is "likely" uninhabitable so far, which means that that land is uninhabitable, and that amount of lost Japanese real estate that is not seriously mountain can only rise, maybe sharply.  Also these meltdowns have released a large amount of radioactivity in the air, at least as much as during Chernobyl, with as many as 19 more Chernobyls highly in prospect there at Fukushima, and already the U.S. Pacific Northwest is being affected, as shown by a 35 percent increase in infant mortality, which means that there is no telling what it is in Japan and in places close to Japan, like Korea, China, and the Philippines, though I guess that depends on which way the wind blows.  The curvature of the earth must make Japan closer to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. than it would seem, though those trips on  several kinds of ships that I took from Seattle to Yokohama and back, in the 1950's and '60's, seemed pretty long, taking two weeks of non-stop chugging across the ocean, one way...

I suppose the rest of the world wishes that this disaster would just go away, so that it can once again lift its head safely from the sand.   But all the signs are that it is not going anywhere anytime soon except farther down into the toilet, because there seems to be much more hot water in Fukushima (and vice-versa) than can possibly be dealt with, short of digging a hole to China, and unfortunately China is right next door.   But maybe a few of those Chinese ghost cities, you know, for the Japanese ...and their neighbors, to live in temporarily ... till all this is over.....

The Japanese are some very resourceful people, so you never know.   After all, this problem is not just in their back yard.   It's inside their HOUSE.  They have probably just decided to take their lumps and their casualties, while declining, politely or otherwise, to sip from any more nuclear cocktails.

The article also said that it wasn't too late for aftershocks to the big earthquake that kicked up Fukushima's tsunami.   As if in response, yesterday a magnitude 6 to 7 quake hit in that vicinity.   The reports speak of not much in the way of damage, deaths, or another tsunami so far, but they leave plenty of room for the usual ultimately more grievous truths to come out later.



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