Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Voyager One »

JamieLei wrote:At least some people outside Japan know that the nuclear situation is not as bad as the media is portraying it. The actual disaster is the tsunami, which has very sadly gotten disproportionately little coverage.
As said before: the tsunami is a huge tragedy. A nuclear disaster would be be a very interesting huge tragedy for the media. I apologize for being blunt.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by JamieLei »

Voyager One wrote:
JamieLei wrote:At least some people outside Japan know that the nuclear situation is not as bad as the media is portraying it. The actual disaster is the tsunami, which has very sadly gotten disproportionately little coverage.
As said before: the tsunami is a huge tragedy. A nuclear disaster would be be a very interesting huge tragedy for the media. I apologize for being blunt.
No it's true. Exactly that. Noone cares about the death toll now. It's over 5,000. That's far more than the sacred 9/11.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Voyager One »

5000 as the best scenario. And what about those 10-15000 still missing? What about hundreds of thousands (or maybe even millions) that have lost everything? Those with no food or water or a warm place to stay with snow and rain pouring down...
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by buckethead »

Who cares about global warming and tsunamis? Terrorism is far more entertaining for the ones who watch it on CNN!!
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by michael blunck »

JamieLei, Voyager One wrote: ["numbers"]
Oh well, it´s not about numbers, there´s even a much higher death toll in everydays traffic. The point is that this is a totally inapt technology, which is yet again demonstrated par excellence.

Meanwhile, the workers on-site are exposed to quite high doses, and if it is necessary that people should face preventable sickness and an untimely death, just to protect the public from bad damage, then this is a bad technology.

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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by John »

JamieLei wrote:The actual disaster is the tsunami, which has very sadly gotten disproportionately little coverage. There is little that we can do except donate money and pray.
Speaking of praying, I found this image quite moving: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/5 ... 7386-1.jpg


I can imagine that that isn't an isolated incident - every body found will be treated with dignity and a little prayer held for the life lost.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Chrill »

John wrote:Speaking of praying, I found this image quite moving: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/5 ... 7386-1.jpg

I can imagine that that isn't an isolated incident - every body found will be treated with dignity and a little prayer held for the life lost.
The Japanese also do have their.. spirit, shall I say? Nobody's looting or stealing, it just does not occur (according to media). It makes for an easier situation for the people trying to solve this, perhaps making it easier to keep your spirits high(er).

A problem now is the weather. People left with no home and no food are being attacked by snow.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Kogut »

John wrote:The reactor vessel isn't the last line of defence - the containment structure is. Chernobyl wouldn't have been anywhere near as bad had vessel had melted, but the containment structure remained in tact (which it didn't, and was what they had to hastily rebuild after they put the fire out to keep the radiation in).
Chernobyl was constructed WITHOUT containment vessel
Wikipedia wrote: The burning graphite moderator increased the emission of radioactive particles, carried by the smoke, as the reactor had not been contained by any kind of hard containment vessel.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Nagyzee »

michael blunck wrote: Oh well, it´s not about numbers, there´s even a much higher death toll in everydays traffic. The point is that this is a totally inapt technology, which is yet again demonstrated par excellence.

Meanwhile, the workers on-site are exposed to quite high doses, and if it is necessary that people should face preventable sickness and an untimely death, just to protect the public from bad damage, then this is a bad technology.

regards
Michael
Excuse me? And I thought that we had relatively few nuclear accidents. I don't remember a single major one since Chernobyl which was 25 years ago. And now we have a 40 year old nuclear plant that whitstood a 9.0 earthquake in good condition and only succumbed to the following 10 meters high tsunami and even now it looks like it will "only" produce a local disaster. By the same standards you could declare lots of technologies inapt. (For example fossil fuels are way worse with all the pollution, oil spills, coal mine disasters, etc.)

Also could you please propose a cleaner, less dangerous technology that is readily available and can produce the needed amount of electricity? In the short to mid term it can only be substituted with coal and gas firing plants and the like. Which is a lot worse. I don't really understand all the greens in Germany who'd like to shut down nuclear plants at once. What would you do afterwards?
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Kogut »

In France it is even more funny (78% of France's electricity production is nuclear power).
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

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We need nuclear power today. If we abandon the technique, what are we to replace it with? Coal and Oil? Solar plants? I don't see a solution to that equation right now. Some 30 years ago, Sweden held a referendum regarding nuclear power. All 3 options spoke against expansion of the nuclear power (1: Abandon it now. 2: Abandon it within 25 years. 3: Just don't expand it). Now, 30 years later, there is talk to rebuild some of the older nuclear power plants and, while doing so, also building some of the most energy-producing reactors in the world. I like it, we need more electricity on the Swedish grid (today, it's very overpriced and we import from Germany among others)
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by Purno »

I've been reading this topic for a while, let me start my first post here by saying how terrible this is for anyone involved.
JamieLei wrote:There is little that we can do except donate money and pray.
I wonder, is it really money they need? So far, in our country there hasn't been a mass collective yet, and from the media (which I know is as unreliable as hell) I understood Japan didn't even ask for our help. Though I don't know much about Japan, it looks like a wealthy country to me, so I'd be surprised if money is the issue. I could be terribly wrong though.
michael blunck wrote:Meanwhile, the workers on-site are exposed to quite high doses, and if it is necessary that people should face preventable sickness and an untimely death, just to protect the public from bad damage, then this is a bad technology.
Well, it's not like conventional power plants are very healthy. Though I know nuclear energy isn't the best solution, we're rather far from spamming the world with enough windmills or solar panels to supply the energy we need.
JamieLei wrote:No it's true. Exactly that. Noone cares about the death toll now. It's over 5,000. That's far more than the sacred 9/11.
The only difference with 9/11 though is that this Tsunami is a force of nature. Nobody could help it and nobody wished this upon anyone. 9/11 was an act done by humans.

The scale of the Tsunami disaster is unimaginable. My best wishes for anyone involved, though I guess that makes little difference.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by John »

Purno wrote: I wonder, is it really money they need? So far, in our country there hasn't been a mass collective yet, and from the media (which I know is as unreliable as hell) I understood Japan didn't even ask for our help. Though I don't know much about Japan, it looks like a wealthy country to me, so I'd be surprised if money is the issue. I could be terribly wrong though.
According to Wikipedia Japan asked specific countries for assistance (quite quickly as well I think) and the rest of the international community offered assistance (offers from 103 countries).

I know Japan took up the UKs offer, with our ISAR team of 50-60 members currently being in the country.

It's not so much Japan that needs the money, but the charities that are providing support to those affected (particularly the likes of the Red Cross) will need to replenish their stores and equipment.


The scale of the Tsunami disaster is unimaginable.
Just a reminder that the 2004 Indian Ocean (Boxing Day) Earthquake & Tsunami killed an estimated 230000 people.

Someone who knows more about geography than me (Jamie? Or are you a human geographer?) will probably me able to explain some key differences between the two, but I think the biggest difference (and thus life saver) was Japan's functioning tsunami warning system.


Also, the damage hasn't just been done in Japan - if you have a look at the wikipedia page properties were damaged in Indonesia, Hawaii, USA and Peru. Hawaii recorded a tsunami surge of 2.3m.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by michael blunck »

Nagyzee wrote: I thought that we had relatively few nuclear accidents. I don't remember a single major one since Chernobyl which was 25 years ago. And now we have a 40 year old nuclear plant that whitstood a 9.0 earthquake in good condition and only succumbed to the following 10 meters high tsunami and even now it looks like it will "only" produce a local disaster.
Chernobyl was indeed the last "major event". Thanks for reminding us that it´s only 25 years ago instead of the 100,000 years usually claimed for the chance of a next "major event" in the nuclear industry. And o/c it doesn´t mean that nuclear technology is a good and clean technology when NOT taking Chernobyl into account. There´s still a bunch of (even more serious) problems linked with nuclear power, e.g. proliferation or waste management, which BTW, hasn´t been solved in any country.

And yes, at Fukushima there´s a 40 year nuclear plant which had been built w/o taking into account the foreseeable natural catastrophes in connection with its location. It´s just by fortune that the facility withstood the earthquake in relatively good condition. Meanwhile, there´s evidence that planning did NOT take tsunamis in account[*], and for me that´s a grossly negligent fault.

W/r to "local disaster", we´ll have to wait how the whole thing develops. But as can already be seen, placement of nuclear reactors in close vicinity to a town/region with >30 million people is NOT a responsible choice.
Nagyzee wrote: By the same standards you could declare lots of technologies inapt. (For example fossil fuels are way worse with all the pollution, oil spills, coal mine disasters, etc.)
Yes, o/c. Some of those technologies are also "outdated", but I don´t think that a coal mine disaster would ever threaten that large number of people as Chernobyl did or like Fukushima does, though on a smaller intensity level, but on a larger zone of influence. And all this was avoidable (o/c, not the earthquake or the tsunami as such, which were obviously not man-made).
Nagyzee wrote: Also could you please propose a cleaner, less dangerous technology that is readily available and can produce the needed amount of electricity?
There ARE zero emission technologies available, some of them since decades. The fact, that they aren´t able to "produce the needed amount of electricity" today, is a fake, insofar that those technologies have been hampered by political and economical "decisions". Yet, they exist.
Nagyzee wrote: In the short to mid term it can only be substituted with coal and gas firing plants and the like. Which is a lot worse. I don't really understand all the greens in Germany who'd like to shut down nuclear plants at once. What would you do afterwards?
Nobody wants to shut down all "nuclear plants at once". The real problem is that after a standstill in upgrading nuclear technology after Chernobyl, there´s increasingly planning for a "revival" of nuclear technology in many countries. W/r to investments into renewable energy this is clearly a bad thing.

Talking about Germany, it´s obvious that in this country there exists a vivid discussion about the use of nuclear energy since the 1970s. This is quite different from France, where there´s no such discussion, simply because the use of nuclear energy is linked in some intimate way with the French self-conception as a (military) nuclear power. The downside of such a position is concealment of the problems with that technology, as has been seen during the Chernobyl disaster, where the radioactive fallout stopped right at the French border.

Meanwhile, in Germany there´s an increasing surplus of electric energy (because of the increasing proportion of renewable energy), so that approximately 8 of the (older) nuclear plants would be dispensable. That´s where the "Atomic Consensus" of 2000 came into play. Now, with the conservatives cancelling that "exit" from nuclear energy on behalf of the big energy providers, the discussions are starting anew, o/c.

In such a political situation, it should be obvious that the nuclear disaster in Fukushima is an important incident. And in contradiction to a previous speaker, this is not because of a specifically German "Angst" (fear), but the wide-spread position of refusal results from a thorough discussion and a gain in understanding since decades. Personally, I prefer this attitude over the French´s or British one.

For most people in Germany the situation is clear: w/o an "exit", the bigger problem of nuclear waste cannot be tackled seriously (13,000 tons of high and medium radioactive waste, at the time being). The decision for establishment of a central radioactive waste repository in the early 1970s has been invalidated by time, with its location at the former GDR border meanwhile more or less in the middle of the country, and the geological conditions more than questionable, with all the nasty experiments with the "Asse" provisional
waste repository. It´s obvious that a predominant part of the Germans are "sick" of nuclear energy with all the billions of Euros of extra cost and high prices for electric energy as well.

As discussed numerous times on this forum, there are indeed alternatives for nuclear energy. In principle there´s neither a need for usage of fossil fuel or fusion gimmicks in the foreseeable future, with such a tremendous amount of energy available on this planet.

And don´t tell me about cost. With so many billions/trillions burned in failed banks, expenditures for a new energy production scheme would be just peanuts, and profitable!

[*] interview with Shiro Ogura, ex-Toshiba engineer, by Citizen's Nuclear Information Center

regards
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by CommanderZ »

The 2004 India Ocean earthquake was stronger (9.1 - 9.3 vs. 8.9 - 9.0) and the tsunami was said to be 30m vs. 10m.

Of course Japanese preparedness and advanced architecture also played enormous part.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by rdrdrdrd »

JamieLei wrote: No it's true. Exactly that. Noone cares about the death toll now. It's over 5,000. That's far more than the sacred 9/11.
Lets be respectful here, The Sunami is a horrible tragedy, but the difference with 9/11 was that was an act by humans against the USA, while the sunami is a horrible natural disaster.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

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michael blunck wrote:Meanwhile, the workers on-site are exposed to quite high doses, and if it is necessary that people should face preventable sickness and an untimely death, just to protect the public from bad damage, then this is a bad technology.
If we'd gone by that principle than human kind would still be living in caves. How can the development of something as recent as cars of trains ever have taken place if they stopped at the first sign of people getting into accidents with them. Also you are a lot more likely to be run over and killed by a car than even getting killed by a nuclear fall out of this world. You could actually conclude from this that it might be better to run cars on nuclear power because those fossil fuel powered cars kill way more than nuclear plants!
The human cost of the nuclear problem will be a lot less than, lets say the human cost of the rest of the entire earthquake episode. Actually the amount of human years lost would be negligible compared to the mere death toll of the tsunami.

On the note of money, Japan can cover most of the cost itself I reckon. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without borders) and the red cross on the other hand might not and they will actually need your money, although I am not entirely sure if MSF will operate in a 1st world country.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by oberhümer »

Still, it would be better to look for (or simply use - they're there, as M.B. said) better alternatives as much as possible. Why not? I agree it's probably impossible to entirely prevent damage pretty much everywhere, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to minimize it.

I think that's pretty much the point that M.B. was trying to make.
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

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michael blunck wrote:And yes, at Fukushima there´s a 40 year nuclear plant which had been built w/o taking into account the foreseeable natural catastrophes in connection with its location. It´s just by fortune that the facility withstood the earthquake in relatively good condition. Meanwhile, there´s evidence that planning did NOT take tsunamis in account[*], and for me that´s a grossly negligent fault.

[*] interview with Shiro Ogura, ex-Toshiba engineer, by Citizen's Nuclear Information Center
Whilst I agree that generally you don't build nuclear reactors on fault lines, I find the above totally wrong - is it by fortune? Or is it by good design that whilst buildings around it have been smashed to pieces, the reactor's downfall was the ensuing tsunami killing the generators rather than imploding during the earthquake.

I think if you plan for an eventuality that, although catastrophic, is a once in a lifetime event and not in the slightest bit common, you'll never get anything done. It's not grossly negligent, it's grossly unlucky. There are hundreds of reactor sites around the world where the same thing could happen; a 9.0 magnitude earthquake is not plannable for in any circumstance. Would the same earthquake have brought the same issues to the plant if it had a magnitude of 7.0 for example? 9.0 is beyond the reasonable level that any building should withstand. The fact the reactor was still intact to then meltdown is much less luck and much more excellent design. What else survived, exactly?
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Re: Japan Earthquake (Fri 11th March)

Post by JGR »

At the end of the day, the demand for energy is only going to keep going up.
Hydrocarbons have major future availability, political and environmental issues. Renewables have limited output/availability and significant cost issues.
Nuclear is quite cheap, and the *vast* majority of the time, just sits there quietly providing energy without requiring huge amount of land or putting crap in the air.

Not a single person has died or fallen ill from this nuclear incident, and even in the worst case scenario it's unlikely that anyone would. People just fuss about this because of the nuclear buzzword.
Oil and gas fires in refineries/towns/etc razed big chunks of the Japanese coast to the ground, at a great loss of life.
To make another comparison, the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is orders of magnitude worse than the nuclear problem. No one seemed to mind about the dozens of people dead/seriously ill along the coast over in the US and damn near extermination of marine life.
Most importantly 5000+ died in the earthquake/tsunami that triggered the issue.
Compared to all that, nuclear doesn't really look so bad any more.

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