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A year after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began in Japan, the world has a historic chance to end one of the biggest-ever frauds played on the public to promote a patently unsafe, accident-prone, expensive and centralised form of energy generation based upon splitting the atom to boil water and spin a turbine. Candidly, that’s what nuclear power generation is all about.
The promise of boundless, universal prosperity based on cheap, safe and abundant energy through “Atoms for Peace,” held out by US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, was deceptive and meant to temper the prevalent perception of atomic energy as a malign force following Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Eisenhower was a hawk committed to building up the US nuclear arsenal from under 1,500 to over 20,000 warheads. He sought to “compensate” for this by dressing up nuclear energy as a positive force and camouflage the huge US military build-up. The nuclear promise was based on unrealistic assumptions about safety and being “too cheap even to metre.” The US Navy transferred reactor designs developed for nuclear-propelled submarines to General Electric and Westinghouse for free.
The US also limited the nuclear industry’s accident liability to a ludicrously low level.The world has since lost over $1,000 billion in subsidies, cash losses, abandoned projects and other damage from nuclear power. Decontaminating Fukush ima alone is estimated to cost $623 billion, not counting treatment costs for thousands of likely cancers.All of the world’s 400-odd reactors can undergo a catastrophic accident.
They will remain a liability until decommissioned (entombed in concrete) at huge public expense one-third to one-half of the cost of building them. They will also leave behind nuclear waste, which remains hazardous for thousands of years, and which science has no way of storing safely.
All this for a technology which contributes just 2% of global final energy consumption!.
Even the Economist magazine, which long backed nuclear power, calls it “the dream that failed.”
Last month, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency OK'd the results of stress tests on the first two of dozens of idled reactors to check their ability to withstand disasters. Kansai Electric Power Co. submitted the stress tests results on reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture, and got a tentative NISA nod. The two-phase stress tests were mandated by the government after Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 power plant suffered three reactor core meltdowns triggered by the plant's loss of power due to the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and crippling damage from monster tsunami.
Industry minister Yukio Edano, who is one of four ministers in charge of the decision on whether to authorize the restart of idled reactors, said: "The basic policy is to reduce Japan's dependency on nuclear power over the medium to long term.
This means that, for the near term, we would use (reactors) once their safety and security are assured." But some voice doubts over whether the stress tests introduced amid the Fukushima crisis are adequate to resume reactor operations and whether it is truly possible to confirm the safety of nuclear plants.
While the government says the initial test will be used to decide whether to restart reactors idled for routine inspections and maintenance, Hiromitsu Ino, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said the safety assessment on the two Oi reactors should be based on the results of both the first and second round of stress tests. Utilities were supposed to submit to a second round of more comprehensive reactor stress tests by the end of last year, but so far none has done so.
"How can the agency say that the reactors can withstand the same sort of quake and tsunami that hit the Fukushima No. 1 plant when the examination of that accident is still incomplete and the cause remains unclear," Ino said.
The second is that chloride in the salt may be creating holes in the outer zirconium oxide layer of the fuel rods' zirconium alloy cladding. This "corrosion pitting" could potentially eat right down to the radioactive fuel, forming holes and cracks that would allow volatile radioactive elements to escape
The chemistry of seawater mixing with nuclear fuel is little known.
Previous studies haven't accounted for the conditions in a core.
In a paper published today in Science, Peter Burns, a professor of civil engineering at Notre Dame, and his co-authors note that it is not clear exactly what kinds of chemicals were released.
There have been studies of the effect of water on nuclear fuel, Burns said, and on what kinds of elements get released when a reactor core melts.
"They either focused on the gaseous products -- you melt the fuel, and see what gets released -- or they focused on the interaction of used fuel with the geologic environment. In our study we're pointing out that neither of these gives us the insight we need," they wrote.
Nuclear fuel at Fukushima was largely uranium oxide (UO2), with a small portion of the fuel containing plutonium. The cladding of the fuel rods is made of zirconium alloy.
When the seawater hit the reactor core, it heated up and evaporated. That likely left salt deposits. Another factor was the extreme heat near the fuel rods. Burns said at those temperatures and in the presence of radioactivity seawater can form peroxides, which are even more likely to react with the elements in the core and do so differently from water.
Burns said there is a need for more experiments that would tell us about the complex chemistry that happens in disaster scenarios like that at Fukushima. He added that there are a number of ways to do this kind of research.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government revealed on March 21 that it deleted five days of early radiation dispersion data almost entirely unread in the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The data from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) -- intended to predict the spread of radioactive contamination, information vital for issuing evacuation advisories -- was emailed to the prefectural government by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
According to the prefecture's disaster countermeasure office, just after the March 2011 quake and tsunami, its dedicated SPEEDI terminal was unable to receive data due to effects of the disasters. Therefore, prefectural officials asked the Nuclear Safety Technology Center, which operates SPEEDI, to send data via email on March 12, 2011 -- one day into the nuclear crisis. The Nuclear Safety Technology Center then sent the data hourly starting at 11:54 p.m. that day. The Fukushima Prefectural Government, however, deleted all the data it received from March 12 to about 9 a.m. March 16.
Originally posted by zworld
As is now becoming obvious, plutonium contamination is everywhere. This is why Tepco and the Japanese government have banned foreign counters, and told people to wrap plastic around the counter or probe to protect it when really it was blocking alpha and low energy beta detection.
Originally posted by Aircooled
It looks like Raleigh NC had quite a bumb, three days ago.
The study was conducted with 10 people in Tokyo and 10 people in Fukushima prefecture, all of whom were asked to wear polyester-and-paper face masks for approximately 60 hours per week, and then send the masks back to the center in plastic bags.
So far, the researchers have analyzed masks only from one week: the week of Feb. 19-25. Eight of the 10 masks from Fukushima contained cesium-137, a radioactive form of the element cesium that’s commonly released after nuclear accidents.
Five of those eight also tested positive for traces of cesium-134 another radioactive cesium isotope. On average, the study found the masks from Fukushima contained radioactive cesium in the amount of 4.3 becquerels (Bq) –- a common way of measuring radioactive emissions from a material. That was comprised of 1.73 Bq of cesium-134 and 2.52 Bq of cesium-137. If a person inhaled this amount of radioactive cesium, they would get approximately 0.082 microsieverts of radiation exposure per week, explained Shogo Higaki, the researcher from the Radioisotope Center.
That would be a tiny addition to what people are normally exposed to anyway, he said. For comparison, a person in Tokyo is now normally exposed to about 0.06 microsieverts per hour of radiation, Mr. Higaki said. That works out to around 10 microsieverts per week.
They detected 854 becquerels of cesium per kilogram in echinocardium cordatum, or the sea potato, which is a kind of sea urchin, and 471 becquerels per kilogram of cesium in sand worms. The researcher conducted a similar research in the same area in October 2011 and detected 582 becquerels of cesium per kilogram in echinocardium cordatum and 328 becquerels of cesium per kilogram in sand worms. The research results were unveiled in Tokyo on March 21. Deep-sea fish such as flounder feed on sand worms.
The poll of 21 mayors and 13 governors whose localities host Japan's 54 nuclear reactors showed that nine mayors were willing to approve restarts on condition of added safety assurances or steps. Eight mayors were undecided but also want similar steps.
Six mayors, including four of the above, cited a thorough probe of the causes of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (Tepco) Fukushima plant as a precondition for restarts. All 11 governors who responded also wanted safety assurances and/or a complete investigation of the accident. Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato declined to reply, but has stated he wants his region to become a model for a nuclear-free society.
"The government must give clear answers about the impact of the earthquake and the age of the nuclear units on the (Fukushima) accident, the reasoning for demanding the shutdown only of the Hamaoka plant and not others, and provisional safety guidelines reflecting findings from the accident," Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa said in a written reply to the survey.