Tag Archives: meltdown

Scientists last week published a paper claiming that the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown caused 14,000 U.S. deaths.

Junk science: Scientists last week published a paper claiming that the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown caused 14,000 U.S. deaths. You can download the paper here [pdf].

I expect the mainstream television press to push this story in the coming days. The story however is crap. I’ve read the paper, and all it shows is a small statistical increase in deaths in the fourteen weeks after the earthquake/meltdown, compared to the previous year. The scientists provided no context with other years, nor did they factor in changes in total population or a host of innumerable other variables that would influence these numbers. Worse, they presented no direct evidence linking the fallout from the meltdown with the deaths.

In other words, this is agenda-driven science, designed mainly to attack nuclear energy. We should not give it much credence.

One more point: the lead author of the paper is the executive director of Radiation and Public Health Project, an organization whose only purpose appears to be to prove that low level radiation has a negative effect on human health. From a science perspective, this is not a good way to do science. The only way the scientists in this organization can justify their fund-raising and research is to find evidence to prove their theory.

The Fukushima nuclear reactor has reached the state of cold shutdown

Good news: The Fukushima nuclear reactor has reached the state of cold shutdown.

This means that the reactor core has cooled enough that there is no need to recirculate the water to keep the fuel cool. However, because the reactor continues to leak that water recirculation is still necessary, and will be for years.

As is typical of many modern journalists, the article above is also an unstated editorial both hostile to nuclear energy as well as private enterprise, best shown by the article’s concluding paragraph:

Meanwhile, the Japanese public and many of its politicians remained deeply mistrustful of the situation at Fukushima. In this week’s issue of Nature, two members of the Japanese parliament call for nationalization of the Fukushima Plant, to allow scientists and engineers to investigate exactly what happened inside the reactors, and to reassure the public that the decommissioning will be done with their interests at heart. Regardless of whether you agree with the authors, nationalization seems almost inevitable. The lengthy decommissioning process that will follow this cold shutdown, and the enormous cost involved, make it a job for a government, not a corporation. [emphasis mine]

First, he has no idea what the Japanese public thinks of this situation. Second, there is no evidence that the government could do this job better than the company that runs the reactor. Both conclusions are mere opinion, inserted inappropriately in a news article without any supporting proofs.

Power has been restored at all six Fukushima reactors

Power has been restored at all six Fukushima reactors in Japan.

Overall, the situation appears completely under control, so much so that in a rational world it probably would be possible to put several of these reactors back in operation. The Reuters story above, however, is amusing to read in one sense, as it struggles mightily to make things sound worse than they are.

The real disaster in Japan

The situation at the Japanese nuclear power planets continues to improve. Key quote:

It’s hard to imagine, but it’s now been eight days since the Honshu quake and tsunami, and evidence continues to accumulate that while it was certainly a bad industrial accident, the “doomsday” and “worst case” scenarios just haven’t happened. Every day longer makes those scenarios even less likely — the reactors are cooling, the Japanese are getting them supplied with power, and the fuel rods haven’t burned.

Meanwhile, the scope of the real disaster in Japan is becoming more clearly known: No bodies or survivors found in tsunami-hit Miyagi community.

Kobe fire department rescue team members, who also worked in areas affected by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, have been operating in Minami-Sanrikucho. But they do not have any idea of the whereabouts of the legions of missing people swept away after massive tsunami swallowed up houses. In all, 8,000 town residents remain missing.

What is it with today’s modern American press, that is obsessed about a non-problem at a nuclear power plant, while close-by whole cities have been laid waste, with literally tens of thousands of people killed?

My heart goes out to the Japanese people. Faced with such destruction, they still seem undaunted and unbowed. May they rebuild their country quickly and with courage.

Power reconnected to Japanese reactor site

Power reconnected to Japanese reactor site.

Increasingly, the panic over the Japanese reactor problems appears to have been overblown and childish. Meanwhile, the real disaster continues, with thousands dead and large areas of the Japanese northeast coast devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to stabilize

Here’s some good news: The situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to stabilize.

The article has a lot to say about the panicky overreaction of much of the press and political class over this incident. For example:

In summary it appears more and more that health consequences from reactor damage will be extremely minimal even for workers at the site. It will now be a surprise if anyone who has not been inside the plant gates this week is affected by the situation at at all – apart from all the people worldwide who have been taking iodide pills or eating salt unnecessarily. There may also be measurable psychological health effects from the global media-driven hysteria surrounding the situation, of course.

A detailed explanation of what has happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Check out this detailed engineering explanation of what has happened, is happening, and will happen at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Key quote:

The point is that the nuclear fuel has now been cooled down. Because the chain reaction has been stopped a long time ago, there is only very little residual heat being produced now. The large amount of cooling water that has been used is sufficient to take up that heat. Because it is a lot of water, the core does not produce sufficient heat any more to produce any significant pressure. Also, boric acid has been added to the seawater. Boric acid is “liquid control rod”. Whatever decay is still going on, the Boron will capture the neutrons and further speed up the cooling down of the core.