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French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that he is calling for a reform of global nuclear standards by the end of this year

Since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan causing troubles with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, there has been a certain amount of nuclear hysteria. For instance, some journalists have sensationalized Japan's nuclear situation, and despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's conclusion that nuclear plants in the U.S. were safe, two U.S. senators still pushed for an expensive study to determine if these plants are safe. 

Now, it looks like France is showing some concern regarding the use of nuclear power after visiting Japan recently. French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that he is calling for a reform of global nuclear standards by the end of this year.  

"Dear Japanese friends, know that in this appalling catastrophe, the world is watching and admiring you," said Sarkozy. 

In addition, Sarkozy said France would like to host a meeting this May consisting of the bloc's nuclear officials "to fix new norms in the wake of the crisis" in Japan. France is taking it upon itself to lead the assistance of Japan, since, according to Reuters, France is the most dependent on nuclear power.  

"We must address this anomaly that there are no international safety norms for nuclear matters," said Sarkozy.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a U.N. body, sets standards and recommendations, but they are not "legally binding" and member states are responsible for safety.

Japan is certainly having some issues with cooling the reactors' fuel rods, making sure crops grown near the plant are not contaminated, keeping an eye on the amount of radiation in the water, and the increased pressure to expand the 12-mile evacuation zone. But government officials have noted that the situation has become much more manageable as of late, and that levels of radiation outside of the plant's range are low-risk. 

In fact, a reading of downtown Tokyo's radiation levels today showed 0.18 microsieverts per hour, which is low in regards to global standards.  

"All the experts agree that living in Tokyo now does not represent a health risk," said Sarkozy.

But Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan agreed with Sarkozy regarding the call for global nuclear review.  

"In order to avid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience," said Kan.  

According to the report, a total of 28,000 people are either dead or missing due to the earthquakes and tsunamis, and the damage may exceed $300 billion. 

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No secrets
By Samus on 3/31/2011 10:59:40 AM , Rating: -1
At least Japan is ready to share their information, whereas Russia didn't share jack shit about Chernobyl. They didn't even acknowledge there was an explosion for three days, and it took over 20 years for them to release the real story (numbers) including the fact there could have been a second explosion equivilent to a 5-megaton bomb rendering most of Europe inhabitable.

Yes, perhaps the Japanese payed attention to lessons learned in Chernobyl, but some things are just common sense. Tell everybody everything so this field of energy production can become even safer.

RE: No secrets
By MrTeal on 3/31/2011 12:44:47 PM , Rating: 3
the fact there could have been a second explosion equivilent to a 5-megaton bomb rendering most of Europe inhabitable.

Got a source on that one?

RE: No secrets
By Gary Oak on 3/31/2011 1:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
A 5 megaton blast could destroy most of Europe... riiiight

RE: No secrets
By FaceMaster on 4/1/2011 8:19:58 AM , Rating: 2
I thought that it was something to do with a thermal explosion, as a result of the water underneath the plant turning into steam when the meltdown material reached it through the concrete floor. If that happened, there would have been an EPIC explosion and all of the stuff from chernobyl would have gone flying through the air, making vast areas of Europe uninhabitable. There was 10 times the amount of radioactive material in Chernobyl compared to a nuclear bomb (not sure which one), iirc.

Either that or he's just assuming that the Stalker game is real.

RE: No secrets
By cpeter38 on 3/31/2011 2:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
the fact there could have been a second explosion equivilent to a 5-megaton bomb rendering most of Europe inhabitable .

So you're saying that Europe needs at least 5 megatons of atomic reconstruction to be considered inhabitable?

You need to get around more - most of the European cities I've been to are inhabitable without atomic reconstruction

RE: No secrets
By Samus on 3/31/11, Rating: -1
RE: No secrets
By randomly on 3/31/2011 7:47:23 PM , Rating: 3
sorry, it's wrong. It's just not physically possible. Whom ever their 'experts' are they don't even have a rudimentary understanding of nuclear explosions and how difficult it is to get a high yield out of them.

Without getting into all the hoary details you have to assemble the core extremely fast to even get a 1 kiloton yield. If you don't as the core slowly goes critical it heats up and comes apart rapidly, stopping the reaction which limits the yield. The Chernobyl RBMK reactor was a stupid unstable design derived from a 1950's era plutonium production reactor. It suffered a huge run away reactor power spike and exploded with a yield of about 10 tons of TNT. You could never get a yield even approaching 1 kiloton, let alone 5 megaton.

The Chernobyl disaster is not possible with light water reactors such as used in the US, Japan, France, etc. because of the physics of the reactor.

RE: No secrets
By Solandri on 3/31/2011 9:09:35 PM , Rating: 4
Atomic blasts are limited to about 0.5 megatons. Above that, the power of the explosion blows apart the uranium/plutonium fuel so quickly that it can't fission anymore and no more energy is generated. So even if you somehow got the uranium fuel rods in a reactor to somehow collide with each other in the right amounts and right geometry at ~1000 mph, the maximum theoretical yield you'd see is about half a megaton. In practice, they're usually 1-15 kilotons. They had to work really, really hard to get the geometry and masses just right for the Hiroshima bomb (~16 kt).

To get larger explosions, you need a thermonuclear device. That's a fission bomb used to kick-start a fusion bomb. Fusion bombs need high concentrations of tritium and deuterium fuel (as heavy water) contained within a heavy metal casing (usually uranium or lead). The atomic explosion from the fission bomb compresses the casing and heavy water and heats it up. It adds neutrons, which convert more of the deuterium into tritium. That's important because the hydrogen in tritium and deuterium fuses more easily than just deuterium or plain water.

Aside from trace amounts of deuterium and tritium in the cooling water, non of these components nor their geometry are present in a nuclear reactor. So even if you somehow got the right mixture of fuel, geometry, and high-energy explosion to initiate an atomic blast in the reactor's fuel, it simply cannot generate a 1+ megaton explosion.

RE: No secrets
By randomly on 3/31/2011 11:07:53 PM , Rating: 3
ok, I watched the video. It's totally fabricated irresponsible tabloid journalism. Almost nothing of what they say about deaths, dangers, etc. is even remotely close to the reality.

It has nothing to do with the BBC. It's some translated french film of dubious origin. They say 600 helicopter pilots that flew over the reactor all died. Totally false. 1 died in a crash, and a few got cancer in the last 25 years. Even for the 500,000 most highly exposed people the incident rate for cancer is only 3% above the background level.

Even a simple fact like the half life of plutonium they quote as 10 times longer than the actual value. The translations from the russian are extremely suspect.

It's just junk propaganda.
I wouldn't believe anything said in that video without substantiation from a reputable source.

Acute radiation sickness was diagnosed and confirmed in 134 persons, of these 28 died in 1986, another 19 died from 1987-2004. These were all people working at the reactor site.
The incidence of cancer and the mortality rate of 61,000 emergency workers up to 1998 did not significantly differ from the whole Russian population.

If you want accurate information read the UN's World Health Organizations 2006 analysis and report on the incident.

also the IAEA report

and the Chernobyl Forum report

RE: No secrets
By randomly on 3/31/2011 7:06:32 PM , Rating: 5
The possible 5-megaton explosion conjecture is a ludicrous fantasy made up by somebody with no understanding of physics, nuclear power, or nuclear bombs.

It's about as likely as you being able to jump into orbit. You would have to rewrite the physics of the universe.

I used to be anti-nuclear before I started looking in depth into the engineering and economics of alternative energy sources like Wind, photovoltaics , thermal solar, geothermal, and biofuels. It became clear that to me that there is lot of overhyping and unwarranted optimism about these technologies. They all have serious economic and environmental drawbacks that advocates just gloss over or ignore. None of the real world implementations have lived up to the hype and expectations. If you look at the real world performance and costs of real systems the picture gets quite depressing.
Nuclear has its own set of unique problems but it has some incredible advantages as well. Even though fission products need to be sequestered for hundreds of years the amount produced is just tiny compared to something like coal. To satisfy a person's entire energy needs for their entire life only takes a chunk of uranium or thorium about the size of a tennis ball. The amount of waste products produced is also about the same in size. To do this with coal takes a cube 40 feet on a side (like a small 4 story office building). The power plants also take up very little land. Solar farms produce an average of 5 watts per square meter, a nuclear power plant including the total surrounding buffer lands etc. produces something like 10,000 watts per square meter. Biofuels produce around 0.5 watts per square meter of land.

Then there is the matter of water. Because nuclear has the capability of running at much higher temperatures than any alternative energy source not only can power production efficiency reach 50%, the temperatures are high enough to drive chemical reactions directly for synthesizing hydrogen and liquid fuels, and most importantly from an environmental point cooling can be done without using water. Almost all other non-carbon based energy sources need vast quantities of cooling water to obtain reasonable efficiency.

Reactor design has come a long way in the half century since the Three Mile Island, Fukushima reactors were designed. People are smart and they learn from their mistakes. Just like airplanes if you look at the history of nuclear accidents there are fewer and fewer as years go by. Mistakes are not repeated.

I'm guardedly pro-nuclear now. There are ways to make intrinsically safe reactors that can't blow up. There are ways to transmute and/or safely dispose of nuclear waste, even for millions of years if desired. There is an essentially unlimited supply of fuel available. If done properly all this can be done with by far the smallest environmental impact of any energy source known.

We need diligent responsible research, development, a world wide set of safety standards and accurate risk assessments.

We don't need paranoid fear mongering by ignorant fanatics who think atomic clocks are going to explode and poison the planet.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs

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