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The world's largest nuclear power plant demonstrates inherent safety

Those opposed to nuclear power have long raised doubts over its safety.  Often raised is the question, "what would happen if major earthquake struck one?"  Would a radioactivity release endanger millions?  

This morning, we got a chance to find out. A 6.8 earthquake struck northern Japan, almost directly underneath the massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Plant, responsible for a third of the Japanese residential electricity supply. The quake leveled hundreds of homes, left fissures 3 feet wide in the ground, and swayed buildings in Tokyo, 300 km away.

What happened at the plant itself? An electrical transformer caught fire and was quickly extinguished. And a tiny amount of mildly radioactive water was released -- one billionth of the safe amount allowed under under Japanese law, or 1/1,000,000 of what is generated from a single dental x-ray. Not even the workers actually inside the reactor were exposed to a dangerous dose, much less the general public. All reactors were shut down for inspection purposes, and initial reports indicate no damage or safety issues. 

And that's it.  Nothing to see here folks, move along.

The western world's nuclear safety record remains unbroken. Over five decades and thousands of reactor-years later, not one person has ever been harmed by commercial power generation. Nuclear power generates no greenhouse gases, and operating costs continue to drop, reaching a level of 1.66 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2006 -- one twentieth the cost of solar power. Despite all this, the U.S. and most of Europe continue to shy away from nuclear power, and pursue pie-in-the-sky energy approaches that, even if they eventually become feasible, will remain forever more expensive to operate.

The West may be ignoring nuclear power, but others are not. Last year, China announced plans to build 30 new reactors, in a bid to reduce air pollution and provide cheap power for its burgeoning economy.


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RE: Too Soon To Say
By W T F on 7/16/2007 6:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
Now the reports have been revised to say:

"Tokyo Electric Power Co. said a nuclear reactor at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant in Niigata was ruptured. Two cracks opened in reactor No. 6, leaking radioactive water into the ocean, the company said on its Web site."

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&si...

Don't you just hate it when that happens?


RE: Too Soon To Say
By Ringold on 7/16/2007 6:27:35 PM , Rating: 2
That's still insanely vague, and "rupture" seems to invoke an image similar to that of a warp core breach rather than simply dealing with some borked Klingon dilithium crystals, but anyway, still says the water was harmless.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By GaryJohnson on 7/16/2007 10:50:13 PM , Rating: 2
They changed that paragraph to read 'leaked' rather than ruptured':

quote:
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radioactive water leaked from its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant in Niigata. About 1.5 liters (0.4 gallons) of water leaked from a container of used fuels, entering into a pipe that flushed it with other water into the ocean, the company said on its Web site.


It seems like what it's saying is that the 1/2 gallon (which may have been significantly radioactive) mixed with 350 gallons of waste water and the combined 350 gallons, which was flushed into the ocean, is safe.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By W T F on 7/17/2007 9:38:48 AM , Rating: 2
This keeps getting more interesting:

CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/07/17/japan....

"But while TEPCO had initially said that the lethal earthquake had not caused any leaks, it revealed later on Monday night that 1,200 liters of radioactive water had sloshed into the sea from its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata."

What's 317 gallons of radioactive water between friends?

"The company added that the quake was stronger than its reactors had been designed to withstand."

Oh, really? Aren't they lucky that none of the reported 3ft fissures open up beneath the reactors.

"Then on Tuesday, a TEPCO official told a news conference that about 100 of the 22,000 drums containing nuclear waste at a warehouse had fallen over and "several" lost their lids."

Shucks.

"Also on Tuesday, the company admitted that a small amount of radioactive materials -- cobalt-60, iodine and chromium-51 -- had been emitted into the atmosphere."

Nothing to see here... move along.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By TomZ on 7/17/2007 9:46:22 AM , Rating: 2
Japan also seems to have a bit of a history of cover-ups of Nuclear power plant accidents. Therefore, you have to wonder if all the information is coming out or not.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/15/business/nu...


RE: Too Soon To Say
By porkpie on 7/17/2007 10:14:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"What's 317 gallons of radioactive water between friends?"
What's a few million trillion gallons of radioactive water between friends? All the water in the ocean is mildly radioactive, and not much less so than this tiny amount that spilled. At the level released, they could have spilled a billion times as much, without any risk to the public.

Really, learn a bit about the subject before posting on it.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By TomZ on 7/17/2007 10:25:06 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
At the level released, they could have spilled a billion times as much, without any risk to the public.

Let me correct that, "At the level reportedly released..." It should be pretty clear by now that they appear to be "managing" their press releases very carefully to avoid a sense of panic or a loss of confidence in the plant and/or its ability to withstand earthquakes like this.

Therefore, I don't think you can claim there was "no risk to the public." All the facts are probably not known.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By porkpie on 7/17/2007 10:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
"Clear" in the basis of no facts to support it, except for general paranoia? Look at the news reports of ANY accident or natural disaster. Early and later reports never correspond perfectly.

So a couple hours after this happens, the press calls somen exec in Tokyo and asks him exactly what happened and he doesn't know? And this is evidence of a vast managed conspiracy? Come on now...


RE: Too Soon To Say
By TomZ on 7/17/07, Rating: 0
RE: Too Soon To Say
By porkpie on 7/17/2007 11:11:43 AM , Rating: 2
Don't be silly. A major earthquake strikes, it takes more than a couple hours to fully check out a facility the size of five football fields, and you call that "organizational incompetence"? What sort of crazy standard is this? Especially when les than a day after their first statement, they VOLUNTARILY released a followup. Well guess what? In a few weeks when the formal inspection is complete, they're going to release another one. And it'll likely be just a little bit different too. That's not even close to a "coverup". Are you even sure what the word means?

You can try to breed fear all you want, but the fact is eating one banana would give you a larger radioactive dose than what happened at this plant.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By TomZ on 7/17/07, Rating: 0
RE: Too Soon To Say
By porkpie on 7/17/2007 12:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
when did I say I expected a cover-up in this case?
You said its "clear" the information was being "managed". That means things are being held back. Withholding damaging information is a coverup. You even used the word itself, in relation to a past incident in Japan, implying those sneaky Japanese were likely to do it all again, eh?

YOU wrote this stuff. Not me.

quote:
Having the ability to quickly assess the situation at a nuclear power plant after an earthquake is part of basic safety protocols
And they quickly did that, and (correctly) assessed there was no risk to the public. Nothing even close. Anything dangerous or critical was intact. That doesn't mean they can track every nut and bolt within 30 minutes time. They don't NEED to. Its not important from a safety perspective.

The "big picture" is the highly radioactive material itself, not a little waste water thats less radioactive than a shipment of bananas. Nor do they need to know within 30 minutes whether a storage drum fell over or not.

In fact, I'd be more concerned if they DID know all this so soon. It'd mean security was lax in the plant, if people could so freely run around checking every little nook and cranny. Some areas take hours just to get into, by the time you clear all the security checkpoint. You want to remove all that?


RE: Too Soon To Say
By TomZ on 7/17/07, Rating: 0
RE: Too Soon To Say
By porkpie on 7/17/2007 1:30:28 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
"it is clear that information was held back
Make up your mind. First you claim a coverup, then you claim there isn't one. Now you claim there is one again.

There was no coverup. There was just a few thousand idiot reporters all piling on, screaming, "Come on! Tell us what you know NOW!". Of COURSE they're not going to know every detail immediately. The fact that information is coming so fast- in sometimes contradictory amounts-- proves they're not managing it.

quote:
You think they just noticed on Tuesday that the drums fell over?
Most certainly. You think they have people standing around in rooms full of radioactive waste, day and night? You think they can even GET INSIDE those rooms in a couple hours? A guy has to clear a couple security checkpoints, put on special protective gear, then open a few locked doors to even look at those drums.

Now, put the shoe on the other foot. You think the big bosses in Tokyo knew immediately those drums fell over but refused to tell us...then, less than 24 hours later, changed their mind? What's their motivation? Just to feed the paranoid delusions of nuts like you?

A drum fell over during an earthquake. Big whup. Neither that or the little water spill broke the safety limits. They didn't even come CLOSE to risking public health. Thats the real point here. Everything else is just fear mongering.

quote:
Why do you think he would make statements like that?
Um, because he's a politician, and he's saying what the public wants to hear. He could give a rats ass about whats right or wrong. He's trying to build his reputation as someone whose not going to let those sneaky little industry guys pull the wool over his eyes! No way! He's going to demand information right away!

So a grateful public says whew! Thank god for Shinzo Abe! Things would really be in the shitter if it wasn't for him!

I'm surprised to find you buying into it though.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By TomZ on 7/17/2007 2:17:15 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not buying into anything, all I'm saying is there is some concern about the information coming out, and that is what the PM is expressing.

I'm also not saying there is a cover-up - they put out some bad information initially that adds to the concern about whether everything is really coming out.

Stop thinking only in black-and-white. It's not that crisp as you are trying to make it.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By Hare on 7/18/2007 11:25:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Then on Tuesday, a TEPCO official told a news conference that about 100 of the 22,000 drums containing nuclear waste at a warehouse had fallen over and "several" lost their lids."

New information.

Close to 500 had fallen over and about 100 had lost their lids...


RE: Too Soon To Say
By greenchasch on 7/18/2007 11:48:54 AM , Rating: 2
But none actually leaked any radiation. I dont really see this as news.


RE: Too Soon To Say
By Hare on 7/18/2007 1:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
If you look at the original post (TomZ) you'll see my point. First they told that everything was fine, then they told that there are some worries. Then they told that this and that was broken. Now they are telling that infact this that and n+1 other things are broken. What happens when the whole mess is sorted out?

It's too early to draw conclusions about the plants condition or the damages in general.


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