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Fukushima reactor explosion

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
2 explosions have occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power complex since the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11. As a result of the destruction from the 8.9 magnitude quake, 3 of the 6 reactors at the Fukushima building were damaged, and two have experienced small explosions. Analysts fear that the incident signals a possible conclusion of the nuclear energy industry. What do you guys think? I hope everything will get better soon enough for our Japanese fellows.
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    People always have overreactions to nuclear power. According to official government figures, 5000 people die from mining accidents every year in China. I think those figures tell you one thing: way more than 5000 people probably die each year from mining accidents in China every year. And that's China. Imagine how many die in African countries doing the same job, where safety standards will be even lower in many cases. But nobody uses these figures to justify the "end" of the fossil fuels industry. And yes, I'm aware that uranium needs mining, but I don't think it needs to be done on the same scale as coal. It's also largely done in Canada and Australia, which tend to have better safety standards. And in terms of environmental damage, I think even the combined efforts of Chernobyl and nuclear waste would struggle to compete with the shit the oil industry has unleashed on nature in its lifetime. If a nuclear power station did anything approaching the damage of the Gulf coast oil spill (or the countless disasters we don't hear about because they didn't effect Europeans or Americans), everyone would be talking about shutting the entire industry down. But it's only the oil industry doing it, so there's no talk of it.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I'm actually quite impressed that some of Japan's oldest nuclear power plants have stood up to the biggest earthquake in the countries history, followed by a tsunami, and not gone into meltdown (which btw, wouldn't be a Chernobyl situation). The real debating point about nuclear fuel is how to deal with the waste, not the possibility of disaster, imo.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think the problem in this case is the negligence or risky behaviour of a private company not nuclear power itself.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Nuclear powers biggest problem is it's repuatation. Because when it goes wrong it goes badly wrong. Which don't get me wrong, really sucks if that affects you, but over an extended time period it's actually really safe compared to other forms of power. But rare and big has a bigger impact on public perception than little and often.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    minimi38 wrote: »
    I think the problem in this case is the negligence or risky behaviour of a private company not nuclear power itself.

    I would hardly call a tsunami negligence.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    No, but it was hardly unpredictable either.

    It's worth noting that there are plenty of other installations in that area, operating just fine, or only shut down safely because of superficial damage, to reduce risk of incident or because they are manned down as a result of being in the exclusion zone.

    The earthquake may have triggered the incident, but the cause is likely to be negligent management and inadequate design. (As is so often the case)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I wouldn't say it was negligence or bad design. Condersing the state they are operating in, they're doing a grand job - from shutting down the remaining reactors safely and even evacuating hundreds of thousands of people quickly. Sadly the only thing they can do now is trying to prevent a melt down. Also to mention just how old those reactors are, I would seriously say it wasn't a bad design.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Why isn't it a bad design?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Explain why it is, everything seems to be happening like it normally would when a reactor is dangerously unstable. I would say it was a bad design from the date they were created (1970's, but designs of 1960's) but that isn't a point considering how long they have lasted. The future always brings improvements, so in comparison is the only way it would be a bad design.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I :heart: nuclear power. I'd put a uranium rod in my bum-bum if they'd let me.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's a poor design, because it wasn't designed in the first place to handle the kind of earth quake that could be reasonably expected in the area.

    Yes, to a certain extent it's a heritage facility, but that doesn't mean you can't make modifications during it's operating life to improve the safety of the design. And if you operate in an earth quake zone, then you sure as hell shouldn't be storing waste ponds on top of your reactor buildings. Actually, you shouldn't be doing that wherever you operate. Even an old facility can keep up with technology and have reasonable back up systems for emergency equipment. And have enough fuel for the back up pumps to run.

    Yes, it's not just bad design, it's poor maintenance over the years, and poor operational discipline and practises as well.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's a poor design, because it wasn't designed in the first place to handle the kind of earth quake that could be reasonably expected in the area.

    Yes, to a certain extent it's a heritage facility, but that doesn't mean you can't make modifications during it's operating life to improve the safety of the design. And if you operate in an earth quake zone, then you sure as hell shouldn't be storing waste ponds on top of your reactor buildings. Actually, you shouldn't be doing that wherever you operate. Even an old facility can keep up with technology and have reasonable back up systems for emergency equipment. And have enough fuel for the back up pumps to run.

    Yes, it's not just bad design, it's poor maintenance over the years, and poor operational discipline and practises as well.

    I think people are still forgetting the fact that the reactor/plant could have stayed in the exact same state, but none of this would have happened if it hadnt been for that pesky tsunami.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Or an extended power cut.

    Or an oversight by an operator.

    If you put something in a tsunami region, you need to account for that. It's not like they come without warning.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Or an extended power cut.

    Or an oversight by an operator.

    If you put something in a tsunami region, you need to account for that. It's not like they come without warning.

    How feasable was it to foresee that this was ever going to happen? It is always great commenting on things with the benefit of hindsight.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To be fair to them they had diesel generators in case of this, and they were working, until the tsunami took them out an hour later.

    This isn't the only nuclear reactor on that stretch and the others aren't having the same problems.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    That in the pacific baisin you were going to get an earth quake? Very.

    That earthquakes cause tsunamis? Very.

    As slarti points out, there's only one nuclear power plant having a problem. It's not hindsight, it's decent design and management. Yes, there are plenty of cases where it doesn't happen but that doesn't mean it should.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My point being that you cannot expect a tsunami to take out the diesel generators in the way that they did.

    Shit happens and sometimes it isn't foreseeable. In this case the implications are potentially high, although the media are hyping things as usual. I get the feeling that several editors will orgasm if the plant goes up.

    The real issue in Japan at the moment is the lack of food, accommodation and water for the survivors but that isn't getting half the coverage. Not to mention the murderous regimes in Bahrain and Libya using this as cover to kill as many political opponents as possible.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I understand it was a 1 in a 1000 year event. In all things we have to balance risk vs likelihood, which unfortunately means that sometimes shit happens
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My point being that you cannot expect a tsunami to take out the diesel generators in the way that they did.

    Shit happens and sometimes it isn't foreseeable. In this case the implications are potentially high, although the media are hyping things as usual. I get the feeling that several editors will orgasm if the plant goes up.

    The real issue in Japan at the moment is the lack of food, accommodation and water for the survivors but that isn't getting half the coverage. Not to mention the murderous regimes in Bahrain and Libya using this as cover to kill as many political opponents as possible.
    Yes you can. It's really not rocket science. It might not be super cheap, but it's not that hard to do. The other facilities along the coast managed just fine. If you look closer at what else was in that region in along the industrial plant line, it wasn't the earth quake or the water that was the problem. It was inadequate design and procedure to deal with that situation.

    There's a big LNG plant down the road, with huge liquified gas tanks. Much more vulnerable to seismic activity than nuclear power plants, but absolutely fine because it was designed and managed right.

    There are lots of other problems currently in Japan, but blaming nature for nuclear meltdown makes much sexier headlines.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The final couple of slides in this presentation make for interesting reading...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yes you can. It's really not rocket science. It might not be super cheap, but it's not that hard to do. The other facilities along the coast managed just fine. If you look closer at what else was in that region in along the industrial plant line, it wasn't the earth quake or the water that was the problem. It was inadequate design and procedure to deal with that situation.

    There's a big LNG plant down the road, with huge liquified gas tanks. Much more vulnerable to seismic activity than nuclear power plants, but absolutely fine because it was designed and managed right.

    There are lots of other problems currently in Japan, but blaming nature for nuclear meltdown makes much sexier headlines.

    Well I would say that nature was a pretty big factor.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There's a big LNG plant down the road, with huge liquified gas tanks. Much more vulnerable to seismic activity than nuclear power plants, but absolutely fine because it was designed and managed right.
    .

    In the wastelands that have appeared there are solitary houses that have been left untouched in the middle of the devestation. I'd argue it's less to do with design and far more to do with luck, or lack of.

    As can be seen from the identical reaction further down the coast, these stations were built to withstand earthquakes like the one they had. As can be seen from the other reactor they were also built to withstand tsunamis. Sometimes, shit happens. In this case the backup generators got knocked off line long enough to cause an explosion. If it were an inherent design flaw the other reactor would have suffered the same fate but it didn't, and why is that?

    The Japanese know how to build stuff to withstand earthquakes, look at Tokyo. A few buildings swayed and that was it. New Zealand's earthquake was orders of magnitude weaker and destroyed most of a city.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I understand it was a 1 in a 1000 year event. In all things we have to balance risk vs likelihood, which unfortunately means that sometimes shit happens

    If it's a one in one thousand year event then the lifespan of a nuclear power facility makes the chance of it happening very high.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    minimi38 wrote: »
    If it's a one in one thousand year event then the lifespan of a nuclear power facility makes the chance of it happening very high.

    Though one would assumne they would decommission them....
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    1 in 1000 year events with that consequence should be part of the design case. Failure of back up generators should trigger the emergency shut down.

    Shit happens is a very poor excuse. If you want the world to be a safe place, we need to not accept 'shit happens' as the explanation behind major industrial incidents. The inadequacies may only have been a problem because shit happened, but that doesn't mean that they weren't already there. It also doesn't mean that they aren't currently there in other nuclear plants in Japan or other parts of the world that need to learn from this experience.

    If you don't take a critical view of the causes of incidents, how can you try and prevent their recurrence?

    (I should probably mention, inherently safe design is somewhat linked to my day job so probably have more specific perspective than most)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Though one would assumne they would decommission them....
    If you work on a 50 year lifespan of a facility, then there's a 1 in 20 chance of a 1 in 1000 year event happening during the lifetime of the facitilty.

    5% chance of causing nuclear catasrophe aren't odds many people would think are reasonable.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The joy of a critical review of incidents is that it highlights previously unseen risk. Mainly because of the benefit of hindsight.

    As this has never happened before, there has never been a similar critical review.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If you work on a 50 year lifespan of a facility, then there's a 1 in 20 chance of a 1 in 1000 year event happening during the lifetime of the facitilty.

    5% chance of causing nuclear catasrophe aren't odds many people would think are reasonable.

    Just because 50 goes into 1000 twenty times, doesnt mean there is a 1 in 20 chance of it happening in the lifetime of a reactor.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The joy of a critical review of incidents is that it highlights previously unseen risk. Mainly because of the benefit of hindsight.

    As this has never happened before, there has never been a similar critical review.
    Previously unseen, or unaddressed risk.

    There's a lot that can be learnt from hindsight.

    And as 50 goes into 1000 20 times, that does in fact mean that there's a 1 in 20 chance of it happening in the lifetime of a reactor. That's exactly how probability works. I'nit.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Id say it was more like 1:950

    Year 0 to year 50
    Year 1 to year 51
    Year 2 to year 52
    Year 3 to year 53
    Year 4 to year 54
    Year 5 to year 55

    As opposed to
    Year 0 to year 50
    Year 51 to year 100
    Year 101 to Year 150

    See where I am going here, yes you can only fit 50 in 1,000 twenty times if you do it back to back, but there are a lot more variations that a 50 year period can fit in than just doing it back to back.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yes, but if you do it your way, you can get 50 into 1000 far more different ways than sequentially, but each one of those ways still carries a 1 in 20 chance of having the 1000 year event in it. The maths comes out the same in the end.

    Look at in another way. This might be easier to make sense of. Each year, there's a 1 in 1000 chance of event happening, if you're running a plant for 50 years, then you've got 50 years worth of that 1 in 1000 years. Which is 50 in 1000, which is 1 in 20.
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