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Fukushima Fate

Nuclear power sounds like a good idea, until something like this happens. The cleanup process at the Fukushima reactors is slow going and high stakes. Humans must in essence give their lives to save the lives of others, and while this sounds glorious in some military venues I don't think many of us would volunteer. The fuel rods need to be removed, the normal systems for their removal have been destroyed, and a mistake could cause a meltdown that would additionally contaminate the immediate area severely and the planetary atmosphere as well, though at what level it is impossible to know. There is talk, and some movement by those who have the means, away from higher risk areas. The southern hemisphere is likely to be far safer than the northern with regard to radiation for the foreseeable future. What interests me is how few people here in the US seem to care one whit about it. Radiation is invisible, and we already have cancer, so how much worse could it get? And will we continue to sell nuclear reactors around the world for the purpose of powering televisions and washing machines? Is there any movement toward less dangerous low tech solutions? I'm not seeing it.

Comments

liveonearth
Sep. 30th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
Maybe you forgot that I grew up in Oak Ridge, TN, completely immersed in the culture of the National Laboratories and the "Atomic Energy City". LOL I do understand half lives.

What's your source for the statement that cesium does not bioaccumulate? I have conflicting info on this point.

Also, can you explain to me further why you think a meltdown is impossible? You say that we won't have a meltdown "without water as a neutron moderator, or using spent fuel, due to the over-abundance of isotopes that poison a chain reaction." Are you saying that the remaining fuel isn't pure/strong enough to push a chain rxn? There are lots of scientists who are saying that no only is it possible, but that if it happened it could set of reactions at neighboring facilities.

Thanks as always for your independent perspective!
ford_prefect42
Sep. 30th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
Actually, I never knew where you grew up.

http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/node/3165

estimates of biological half life vary, but ALL the sources do indicate that it does self-cleans. Albiet it takes a while, however FAR less than it's radiological half-life. I guess that means that you *could* say that it bio-accumulates, meaning that if you keep eating it, your level of it increases over time, at least for a few years. But when you stop, it drops, and pretty fast at that. In any case, it's not an acute exposure risk, only a long-term lifetime exposure one. You don't get apocalypses out of radioactive cesium.


Spent fuel is spent for a reason. The reason being, that it's getting difficult to sustain criticality with it, due to the low proportion of fissile u235 remaining in it, as well as the prevalence of neutron capturing isotopes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_poison

Now, had the fuel pool completely lost all water during the actual incident (when there was very fresh fuel in it), problems would have been possible, because the fuel was still capable of getting hot enough to melt itself, and IF enough of them did that, you *could* get criticality in the puddle of uranium slag on the bottom of the dried out pool. A year out? No. there's no reasonable chain of events that leads to a "meltdown" in a spent fuel pool.

How worried are you about extinction level asteroid strikes?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9943048/Nasas-advice-on-asteroid-hitting-Earth-pray.html

Or an actual, literal zombie apocalypse?
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-02/fyi-could-scientists-really-create-zombie-apocalypse-virus

There are always "scientists" willing to say *anything*. That's why it's important to look at the facts yourself.

As for the "chain reaction meltdown" where a meltdown at fukushima "sets off others? That's just stupid. Consider the mechanics of that. Either they're saying that the chain reaction in the spent fuel of fukushima will emit neutrons *far enough away* through multiple layers of concrete, steel, and water shielding, to start a reaction in those pools (roughly the equivalent of me shining a flashlight in NY and starting a forest fire in Colorado), or they're claiming.... what? What is the mechanism by which a melt at one results in a melt at another? Is it plausible, given real world physics and conditions? No, this is nothing more or less than attention seekers succeeding.


That said, future reactors should avoid putting the spent fuel pools on the top floor of the reactor building. DUMDUMDUM!
liveonearth
Sep. 30th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
Have you heard about the new designer drug from Russia that has arrived in Arizona? It's called Krokodil because your skin turns green before it falls off. The zombia apocalypse is started already.

There are four, or is it five, different reactors at the fukushima site. You sound very certain of your conclusions, however your certainty does not convince me. Too many people with more specialized training in the area of nuclear power generation have come forward with comments too the contrary. I am not easily swayed by anyone's opinion, which is why I'm still mulling on it. I will watch and wait, and continue to study on the medical side of the equation which is where I do have a chance of understanding.

For your risk calculator: People get their highest doses of radiation, and the most lung cancers, from breathing radon gas in their basements. So before you start building anything zombie proof, test the air in your home. =-]
ford_prefect42
Oct. 1st, 2013 12:25 am (UTC)
If you're sitting in your radon filled basement, watching a CRT tv from 2 feet away, using acetone to remove nail polish, wearing freshly dry-cleaned clothes, talking on your cell-phone, and eating saccharine sweetened coffee, do you know which of these things has the strongest correlation to cancer? The answer is sitting.

For the nuclear stuff, I guess we'll see. Still, I find it quite telling that, for all the scare-mongering that was going on during the event, not one person is sick, nor is one person expected *ever* to die. People on the *east coast* were buying iodine tablets!

Krocodil being codeine pills mixed with *gasoline* (or other fuel products), yeah, I can see where that's pretty bleeding harmful! But they don't shamble through the streets biting people, and even if they did, they'd spread aids, not zombieism. Dammit, zombie apocalypse would be SO much cooler than most of the other doomsday scenarios!
liveonearth
Oct. 1st, 2013 03:04 am (UTC)
And since ten out of ten people die irregardless of disasters, perhaps we ought to just enjoy ourselves?

Have you seen the (current) move: The World's End?? Speaking of Zombia apocalypse-----it had me laughing harder than a movie has in some time. I recommend.

You can see the trailer here but maybe it would be better not to spoil it.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1213663/

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