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Links With Your Coffee - Weekend Edition

Coffee Cup - Explosion Rocks Japan Nuclear Plant After Quake

TOKYO -- An explosion at a crippled nuclear power plant in northern Japan on Saturday blew the roof off one building and caused a radiation leak of unspecified proportions, escalating the emergency confronting Japan's government a day after an earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of the country's northeastern coast.]

Religious lunatics across the world are already claiming the devastating tsunami that struck Japan this morning has demonstrated God's vengeance in claiming dozens of lives, or God's grace in saving thousands more.



I have family in Japan and some Japanese friends. Some in disaster areas, apparently. Fortunately they're fine and apparently their families too. I have noticed the god language everywhere, even from usually non-theists. It jumped at me, but I can understand it. Of course they don't mean anything bad and are probably shitless scared, but people need to realize how much of a dick move it might be to thank a god in these situations though.

We hope they continue to get good news. This is just about the worst thing that nature can threw at us.

I wonder if this will give anyone a moment of pause in the building of new Nuclear power plants. At least in California and the gulf states.

I would hope new nuclear power plants would be designed to withstand 9.0 earthquakes. The Japanese reactors were engineered to survive 7.9 quakes, and they were all very old designs from the 1970's, I think (at least one of them was scheduled to be decommissioned).

Modern reactor designs might not be anywhere near as vulnerable as the ones currently endangering Japan.

Well, reports seem to be that the plants survived the initial earthquake with minor damage but took some damage from the wave and are unable to cool themselves while the entire energy grid is down around them.

Modern reactor designs might not be anywhere near as vulnerable as the ones currently endangering Japan.

they are "safe" just like deep water drilling.

they are "safe" just like deep water drilling.

Exactly. Perfectly safe, assuming adequate regulation and oversight, or in other words assuming the scientists and engineers are allowed to do their jobs (aye, there's the rub).

I have read that the Fukushima plant was originally designed to have a 25-year lifetime (40 years ago).

"safe" just like genetically modified crops are safe. "Safe" just like anything has been safe since the industrial revolution: safe until some greedy dipshit in a suit decides they want to push it for an extra buck. Safe if only the politicians weren't pimps and whores elected by oversized children with the attention-span of... of...

I don't even know what I'm saying anymore, but I feel really grumpy.

re: RedSeven:"I wonder if this will give anyone a moment of pause in the building of new Nuclear power plants. At least in California and the gulf states."

comment: The huge fight over the Diablo Nuclear plant in California years ago wasn't about nuclear power. It was about the extraordinary hubris associated with building the damn thing dead on the intersection of multiple active earthquake faults. As you know, they built it anyway.

BTW, today would be a really good day for the rest of us to do a bit of maintenance on our emergency preparedness kits. You know, like make sure there are fresh batteries in the emergency flashlights / headlamps in the car, also that the comfy old sneakers are still in there in case you have to hike home, and space blankets, and a few protein bars, water, day back, first aid.

Check the home emergency supplies (some folks put them in 30 gallon garbage cans, others in duffel bags). Make sure you've got water stored. Do you have a home first aid book?

Rancho Santa Fe Fire District in SoCal, has put an excellent emergency response program in place, and their good work is accessible to the rest of us at:

This is for "shelter in place" from wildfire, but good food for thought for other emergencies when we must depend on ourselves.

Of course, the Int'l Red Cross also has good lists of stuff for emergency kits. Most everything needed is sittin' around the house, you don't have to spend big bucks to be prepared to take at least a bit of edge off the next emergency.

Remember, if you are evacuating by vehicle, take a shovel and saw/chain saw with, in case you have to leverage trees or rocks off the road. During the tv commercials in the March Madness, look around the front room. if you have to leave in a hurry, what treasures exactly do you not want to leave behind if you can help it? Write them down on a list. Estimate the space you might have for 'stuff' in your vehicle. Figure out (negotiate) ahead of time what you can take.

Check the file cabinets. Do you know where the flash drives with last year's tax files are? Put any file folder you know you want to take with you in a RED or ORANGE folder. That way they can be filed where they belong but still retrieved in a big hurry.

Oh my. My heart hurts for those poor folks in Japan. The horror of it.

I just bid on a geiger counter on ebay.

I'm ready for the apocalypse, baby! Just need to catch up on my favorite cannibal recipes and I should be all...

its easy, just get some extra feul for your grill and some organic BBQ sauce.

re: "I just bid on a geiger counter on ebay"

oh good. That should take care of emergency planning for ya. Sorry to have gotten preachy about emergency planning. It's a thing with me. Can we say risk adverse?

It sounded as though the problems in the reactors in Japan started when the emergency power systems intended to keep the pumps running failed. Did Tsunami water flow into the basements? is that what happened?

When I worked for a phone company, we had huge diesel generators for the switching centers. Of course they weighed tons, so were put on the first floor. I've been wondering if that's what happened in Japan as well - the backup power wasn't protected from flooding... Anyone heard anything about why the backup's failed?

I fear that there is no 'clean' way to generate and store power. Solar power, once the long lived panels are manufactured, is clean running, but we sure can't say the same for the batteries that store it. Hydro electric is clean, but as we've learned more than once, dams can wreak havoc on native fish populations. Nuclear is just plain scary, AND extraordinarily inefficient. The transmission systems in this country are dreadful, wasting most of the power in transport before we even plug in an appliance.

I conclude that there will be no silver bullet permitting profligate energy consumption. Conservation and efficiency are the key. The mindset in our government is so squirrely tho, that I do despair. As an example - remember the big brouhaha recently over canceling Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)? (LIHEAP helps low income folks pay their heating bills in the winter.) Well people really need that help. And, as a culture, we don't much like finding frozen Grannys cuz the oil company cut off deliveries for non-payment. But was the right solution to pay Granny so she could pay the oil company it's inflated fee? That's not really a subsidy for poor folks, it's a subsidy to the oil company. What SHOULD be happening IMO, is for us to subsidize home repair. Old houses, with gales pouring through warped single pane windows and doors, no insulation anywhere cost a FORTUNE to keep even MARGINALLY warm. Paying once, to button-up those old homes would save heating oil year after year after year, while providing some part time income for local handymen, and more comfort to the home's occupants. The most economical and ecological kilowatt hour of electricity is the one we don't use. It's like, well duh! But that somehow, is an ALIEN mindset. Why is that? I

wonder if energy companies have excessive influence.

re: BatGuano: "I'm ready for the apocalypse, baby! Just need to catch up on my favorite cannibal recipes and I should be all..."

euwwww. too gross. hmmm. any port in a storm I suppose. So best remember, you eat what your food eats. Keep those housemates on Organic feed.

Zombie apocolypse preparedness is one of my hobbies.

From Union of Concerned Scientists, something about the Fukushima Reactors.

Reactor number 2 just exploded, damaged, it appears, by the explosion yesterday of number 3. Only this time it's worse. Evacuation of personnel has been ordered.

Those poor folks just can't get a break.

Maybe anderson cooper should probably evacuate.


Betty Joe,

The nuclear problem.

What Occured is this:

The Power stations scrammed on earthquake warning. Apparently they all at least partly did so before the seismic waves hit. The problem is though a scrammed nuclear reactor is still very hot, in fact they will continue to be heat positive for a very long time. (In fact the rods especially at end of life will be heat positive for 2-5 years, while nuclear waste products decay in the rods. The plant that is detonating is at end of life so all their rods are hot and apparently a decades worth of old rods are sitting in the cooling ponds as well, waiting for disposal.) So although the Reactions have stopped it is still a very hot place.

When the tsunami hit it took out all the reserve power facilities (big ass generators to run the pumps) and swept away much of the external cooling equipment. So the very hot reactors started to boil at high pressure internally. The super hot steam started to seperate into Hydrogen as Graphite combined with Oxygen. Once the pressure got large enough Gas leaked. Super hot (well above ignition point) Hydrogen under pressure slamming into normal air causes the explosions we have seen.

The emergency flights of gear were actually to move the equivalent of long extension leads to allow the cooling plants to be hooked up to a neighbouring plants generators as well. But the damage to the Cooling pumps was too high and the power wasn't enough. The inside of the reactors have melted due to the temperatures of nucleid decay not a runaway reaction. The hope is the emergency dump of sea water will stop a run away due to continued melting and fuel pooling but the water has to be going somewhere and from the damage at the plants and the lack of external containment it is surely being ocean dumped. Fish from the north pacific could be a little 'hot' for the next 2-5 years.

So the Japanese look like they have several very large 2500 ton bricks of very radioactive slag that will be sitting in place for 1000 odd years. The amazing thing is these reactors were due to be turned off last month but due to slow equipment delivery had to be extended for 3 months waiting for the new plant. The plan was then to ship out an entire decades worth of fuel rods for clean up/disposal in about a year and a half after the worst of the heat decay was concluded. If kept to schedule and not being in active generation the limited cooling would probably have been enough.

I would be thinking that a couple of hudred valiant nuclear industry workers have been massively exposed in their attempts to fix things. We can only hope that they will be put on massive heavy metal treatments and calcium supplementation (fed ground bone marrow) or they are likely to be very dead very soon.


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