Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Japan Power

Japan To Be Without Nuclear Power After May 5 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the godzilla-would-be-sad dept.
mdsolar writes in with a Reuters article about the continued fallout of Fukushima on the nuclear industry in Japan. "Japan will within weeks have no nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years, after the trade minister said two reactors idled after the Fukushima disaster would not be back online before the last one currently operating is shut down. Trade Minister Yukio Edano signaled it would take at least several weeks before the government, keen to avoid a power crunch, can give a final go-ahead to restarts, meaning Japan is set on May 6 to mark its first nuclear power-free day since 1970. 'If we thoroughly go through the procedure, it would be (on or) after May 6 even if we could restart them,' Edano told a news conference, adding that whether they can actually be brought back online is still up to ongoing discussions. The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered radiation leaks, has hammered public faith in nuclear power and prevented the restart of reactors shut down for regular maintenance checks, with all but one of 54 reactors now offline."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Japan To Be Without Nuclear Power After May 5

Comments Filter:
  • by foobsr (693224) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:26AM (#39711653) Homepage Journal
    Or are they back into the dark ages now?

    CC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *

      > Or are they back into the dark ages now?

      Looks like it. Remember guys, fear is the mind killer.

      Yes, if a record earthquake whips up a wave nobody could have thought possible hits a land that suddenly sinks a foot or two, AND they make several other mistakes.... then a old first generation nuke plant can have a total failure and what? Leak tiny amounts of radiation?

      Suck it up, turn on the frickin' lights and start designing better reactors. Live and learn.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:41AM (#39711885)

        Your comments aren't very insightful, since there were recorded tsunamis that went past the critical threshold that swamped Fukushima. The mistakes they made were managerial/accounting based and not on proper risk analysis.

        If you really think there is a 'tiny' amount of radiation being leaked, why don't you go live there?

        Sheesh, on /. alone there are stories detailing the bungled implementation, why haven't you read those before putting your ridiculous comment in?

        http://politics.slashdot.org/story/12/03/11/0537258/nuclear-disaster-in-japan-could-have-been-mitigated-say-industry-insiders
        http://slashdot.org/story/12/03/31/1955231/why-onagawa-nuclear-power-station-survived-the-tsunami

        • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:53PM (#39712987) Homepage Journal

          If you really think there is a 'tiny' amount of radiation being leaked, why don't you go live there?

          Don't speak the language, don't have a job there, and the services in the area suck at the moment. That's why I'm not moving next to Fukushima. That covers Chernobyl just as well, for that matter.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:01PM (#39713093)

          If you really think there is a 'tiny' amount of radiation being leaked, why don't you go live there?

          Hey--there's some awesome Slashdot logic for you. Even though the radiation probably won't kill me, maybe I should quit my job, sell my house, pack up my wife and kids, and then move clear around the world, and sit in a house near a nuclear reactor and exist for the next 80 years--just to prove to you that the slightly higher amounts of radiation aren't going to kill me.

          In a similar vein, getting kicked in the nuts also doesn't kill you, so why don't you let me kick you in the balls a few times just to prove it to you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There'll always be another event that nobody would have thought possible before. Someone will always make a mistake.
        The only reasonable course of action is to minimize the potential disaster.

        Also: where did you read the nonsense about "tiny amounts"?

        • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:08PM (#39712215)

          > Also: where did you read the nonsense about "tiny amounts"?

          There was no major breach. The Japanese build a lot better than the Russians so there isn't going to be a huge no man's land that will be required to be maintained for generations around the site. Some nasty stuff managed to outgas, some 'hot' water leaked and so yes there are some hotspots to deal with because of that. But lets get a grip on reality here. If that was anything like the worst case scenario it was certainly survivable and always remember that this was a first generation reactor that was ran decades beyond its design lifetime because the anticipated replacements got lost in the paperwork created by the very greens who oppose any nukes at all.

          In other words, this was an own goal more than a natural disaster. Yelling and hollering about no nukes can convince politicians to snarl up licensing on new plants but barring a disaster on this scale it won't push em to shut down running plants and force everyone to sweat in the summer. So the old plants kept running while politicians and greens preened in front of the cameras. And because they control the media they haven't been forced to answer for their actions.

          There isn't a safe method of power generation. And there won't be. No, unicorn farts aren't going to be available someday. Even if fusion, which is fifty years off and has been for the last fifty years, comes along we already know it will also have problems. We all know the problems with fossil fuels and all the 'green' alternatives are flawed in at least one way. So we either accept the risks, doing what is possible to mitigate the worst of them, or declare the whole civilization thing a big mistake and go back into the trees.

          • by tom17 (659054) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:49PM (#39712901) Homepage

            I think even the trees were a bad idea. No one should ever have left the oceans.

          • So we either accept the risks, doing what is possible to mitigate the worst of them, or declare the whole civilization thing a big mistake and go back into the trees.

            Yes. As Cecil Adams once said, "It would be of great comfort to me if the Teeming Millions could learn to think rationally about such things."

            I'm not so good at climbing, myself, so I think I'll just revert to the caveman lifestyle.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:36PM (#39714683) Homepage

            The Japanese build a lot better than the Russians so there isn't going to be a huge no man's land that will be required to be maintained for generations around the site.

            Actually the minister in charge of the clean-up did recently suggest that the area may never be re-opened. The difficulty and cost of clean-up is so great. Currently there is no timetable.

            Think about what that means for the people who used to live there. Imagine not knowing when or even if you will be able to go back to your home, and knowing that even if you do half the other people won't be there anyway and your old job is gone. Most of those people are still living in rented accommodation just outside the zone, unemployed and dependent on benefits.

            this was a first generation reactor that was ran decades beyond its design lifetime because the anticipated replacements got lost in the paperwork created by the very greens who oppose any nukes at all.

            Fukushima Daiichi wasn't a first generation reactor at all, it was a development of the boiling water reactor (BWR), the second most common type in the world. The newer ones in Japan don't differ that much from it. It's lack of replacement certainly had nothing to do with the greens as you claim. Rather it was a simple matter of profit. Building new plants is expensive, inspecting old ones and getting the license extended is cheap.

          • No, unicorn farts aren't going to be available someday.

            Unicorns are nuclear powered anyway. This is why they went extinct all those years ago; none of the other animals felt comfortable around them.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          there are several potential disasters in this equation.

          coal and oil are an ongoing, worldwide disaster.

          gas is nearly as scary as nuke in the public eye - fracking is not the poster child of good PR at the moment.

          renewables are a good supplement, but simply cannot make up the defecit if nuke and coal/oil/gas were abandoned.

          so we're either heading for disastrous increase in average temperature, with associated chaotic weather changes, or we're heading for disaster through failure to provide adequate energy to

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor[ ]et ['f.n' in gap]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:55AM (#39712049)

        Yes, if a record earthquake whips up a wave nobody could have thought possible hits a land that suddenly sinks a foot or two, AND they make several other mistakes.... then a old first generation nuke plant can have a total failure and what? Leak tiny amounts of radiation?

        Suck it up, turn on the frickin' lights and start designing better reactors. Live and learn.

        The problem has never been nuclear - it's a great option. However, it's the management of such facilities that's a problem - in the goal to extract greater and larger profits (bigger bonus!), they start cutting, and the problem is, once you start cutting down maintenance and safety at a nuclear plant, things start going bad.

        Hell, they're even reducing the amount of money needed to clean up after a plant closes (cuts into profits, and they want that bond money back - not have some governement agency spend it "cleaning" - that's a problem for the next guy).

        Nuclear power is great, just it demands that people running it not be money-grubbing profit-seekers. Maybe they should be run like non-profits and forced to spend the excess money they have on improvements and new technology.

        • Nuclear power is great, just it demands that people running it not be money-grubbing profit-seekers. Maybe they should be run like non-profits and forced to spend the excess money they have on improvements and new technology.

          Yes, only Chernobyl was run by not for profit communists. Nuclear has its place, usually where there are no other available power sources, but what JAXA is working on at the moment is solar power satellites. These won't be useful unless space launch costs drop to 1% of their current amount, but happily the startram team are working on a system which reduces launch costs to 0,4% of their current amount. I don't see a big future for nuclear.

          • by chispito (1870390) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:43PM (#39712821)

            Yes, only Chernobyl was run by not for profit communists.

            You and I must be thinking of different communists.

            • Yes, only Chernobyl was run by not for profit communists.

              You and I must be thinking of different communists.

              That's because none of us are actually thinking of communists, but of totalitarians. Regardless, the issue is not one of profit motive but of competence and solid regulation.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            If you even for a moment think that communist party did not have target goals for its companies just like capitalist US did, I have land on the moon to sell you.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            wtf? the russian communist system sure had money and incentives, even what you could call bonuses.

            however the how bonuses and such were paid didn't depend on reality at all, so you had factories just shipping lots of heavy items because their output was measured in tons. and you can bet on what the nuke plants were rewarded depending on - if it was producing matter for bombs then that, otherwise just on output and it was considered a success if you ran 200% of planned capacity(that was overachieving!).

            sure

        • Is the implication that Nuclear power, or any dangerous technology can never work in capitalism?
          I think that may be right but I'm not sure, how do other industries cope with this? e.g. Mining? Chemical Plants? etc

          My understanding was that government regulation (mostly) worked in these fields so why not in Nuclear? Is it just the risk reward ratios are higher and for the moment more unpredictable or is it something fundamental in the technology itself?

          • Regulator Capture (Score:4, Insightful)

            by alexander_686 (957440) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:21PM (#39713455)

            Japan is now moving the regulators to the environment to create more distance. See below on why that is imporant.

            You are assuming that regulators can weigh the pros (cheap power) vs. the cons (rare events ) in a impartial manner. A weakness of regulation can be “Regulator Capture” where the interest of regulators and the industry align, thus diminishing true oversight..

            For example, in Japan, the industrial ministry regulated nuclear power. The ministry pushed nuclear because industry needed cheap power. Bureaucrats graduated from low paying public jobs to higher paying industry jobs. Regulating a technical industry requires hiring technical people, which means hiring from the industry that they are regulating – and of course those people tend of have confidence in the system that they built.

          • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @04:25PM (#39716167)

            I think that may be right but I'm not sure, how do other industries cope with this? e.g. Mining? Chemical Plants? etc

            The same way nuclear does: There is a disaster somewhere and safety standards are improved. Somewhere between a decade and a generation later the lessons are forgotten, and there is another disaster somewhere. Most of the nasty mining and chemical accidents happen far away from the western world though, and they rarely get more than a brief mention in the papers.

            The economy and passenger ships work the same way. Except it seems that when it comes to the economy, memory lasts only a couple of years.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by clarkn0va (807617)

          The problem has never been nuclear - it's a great option. However, it's the management of such facilities that's a problem

          Isn't that like saying that "the problem has never been software, it's the bugs that people keep writing into it"?

        • by eulernet (1132389)

          However, it's the management of such facilities that's a problem - in the goal to extract greater and larger profits (bigger bonus!), they start cutting

          No, you are wrong. In fact, nuclear power is cheap because of the lack of security, not about bonus.
          Building a nuclear plant is costly, and it takes a lot of years to make a profit, so any kind of economy saves a few years.
          Using the correct level of security would increase the delay.

          And there is another bigger problem: dismantlement of the old nuclear plants.
          In France, the cost of a dismantlement was underrated by a factor 20 (expected: 24 millions of euros, reality: 482 millions for Brennilis).

          On the other

        • Nuclear power is great, just it demands that people running it not be money-grubbing profit-seekers. Maybe they should be run like non-profits and forced to spend the excess money they have on improvements and new technology.

          My company does work for various non-profits. Unless salary caps are also required, you'll just see an inflation of salaries for the people at the top with not a whole lot of money left over for improvements.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:57AM (#39712081) Homepage

        Actually the lights are very much still on. I was there in the days after the quake when the power rationing was at its worst and in fact it was never that bad. There is more risk to the supply now due to decreased spare capacity, but obviously efforts have been made to reduce that.

        The "fear" in Japan isn't fear at all, it is pragmatism. Fukushima has cost Japan a hell of a lot and it's still early days in terms of clean-up and decontaminating the affected areas. A lot of people were displaced, lost their jobs and their homes, Japanese food exports were heavily affected and the government has picked up the majority of the bill. Like all countries they never required the plant operators to be fully insured for such an event because it would have made nuclear power uneconomical, so the government took on the risk and just hoped the worst would never happen.

        Japan is lucky enough to have enough natural resources to go completely renewable. People have a choice, spend more money on nuclear in a country that has regular large earthquakes and tsunami or try something else. Keep in mind that most nuclear plants are only rated for a magnitude 7.5 quake so it is more down to luck than design that there were not more serious problems, and in fact some plants were damaged.

        Try understanding the situation before accusing entire nations of being irrational and fearful.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:14PM (#39712311)

          Japan is lucky enough to have enough natural resources to go completely renewable.

          I'd love to see the documentation on this one. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of Japan's history over the last hundred years has been related to its lack of natural resources.

          • by GodInHell (258915)
            Depends on the resource. They've been developing wind and wave powered plants for quite some time. I don't think they have enough platforms built to replace the existing nuclear base (that's FMA though, research might reveal otherwise). Then again, I haven't heard about widespread brownouts there since shortly after the tsunami -- anyone got a closer view?
        • Japan is lucky enough to have enough natural resources to go completely renewable.

          I'm going to have to agree with the AC that posted because Japan hasn't exactly been blessed with much in the way of natural resources and most of the renewable options they have (e.g. tidal, geothermal, wind) are still a ways off from being able to support a city like Tokyo.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Japan has vast amounts of untapped geothermal, and enough off-shore wind to power the entire country easily.

            Unfortunately they are now having to spend hundreds of billions cleaning up Fukushima, which could have got them those renewables.

        • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:29PM (#39712575)

          > Fukushima has cost Japan a hell of a lot and it's still early days in term...

          Isn't it nice how some folks obsess over the reactor in Fukushima and totally forget the trillon or so in 'normal' damage suffered during the same earthquake and then want to attribute almost all of the losses to the nuke part. Japan got it's ass kicked, the reactor meltdown was only a minor part of their problems that horrible day. But being Japanese they have bounced back from most of the rest of it; they buried their dead, cleared the debris away and are getting on with rebuilding. Also being Japanese this incident appears to have increased their existing fear of the N word over their normal practicalility regarding the need to have electricity to power their civilization.

      • Can you also design better humans to run these better reactors? Humans who won't start cutting corners to save a few pennies? Who won't understate risks, won't approve inadequate designs and then build even less than that, won't skimp on maintenance, and won't falsify test results and safety reports?

        Do you not understand that Fukushima's design was inadequate for no good reason? They could have built a higher wall, but they didn't. They're gnashing their teeth and wailing that no one could have expect

    • by gewalker (57809)

      March 28 article [nytimes.com] mentions rolling blackouts

      March 16 article [nytimes.com] the projected power shortfall is around 9.3%

      There is a bunch of older articles that talk about the shortages, and increased prices last summer and that mention the summer of 2012 is likely to be worse. Chicken little would be proud.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        increased prices last summer and that mention the summer of 2012 is likely to be worse

        When they see the increased electric bills staying is when I figure that most of the nuclear plants will be turned back on.

  • by dsmey (193342) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:30AM (#39711715)

    Still haven't seen any good articles about where they have offloaded all that generation to. Are they burning more coal now that 53 reactors are offline?

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      I'm not sure how that would even help. The nuclear reactors supplied 30% of Japan's total power: without building new power plants, I wouldn't expect the coal plants to be able to take up that much extra production, and I don't believe they could have gotten new plants online by now. That means by summer they won't have enough power, not with the extra demands air-conditioning is going to put on the grid. That means rolling blackouts are nearly a certainty.

      In winter/spring, they may have not needed all the

      • Is Japan a tropical country? I thought it was too far north to need widespread aircon.

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          I wondered about that myself. It looks like the main problem is humidity: they apparently have extremely humid summers, and while the temperature varies a bit by location, it looks like it ranges from 20-27C. Speaking as someone who lives in a humid climate, anything over 22-23C or so is hot enough that AC is appreciated, and anything over 30C is extremely uncomfortable without it (that sounds weird if you live in a dry area, since that isn't terribly hot without humidity).

          But, I don't really know for sure

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        That means rolling blackouts are nearly a certainty.

        Since the disaster at least 80% of reactors have been offline at all times. There have not been any rolling blackouts, even during the summer. This year they have had an extra year to prepare and lots of people have been upgrading to more energy efficient appliances. Industry has prepared too.

        There definitely will not be rolling blackouts. Anyway, by then some of the plants that are currently offline will be back on again, assuming they pass safety inspections.

      • by nojayuk (567177)

        The Japanese have several mothballed coal and oil-burning power stations which were decommissioned decades ago as they were too expensive to run and/or highly polluting. These have been rushed back into service, burning bunker oil and even raw crude oil. Some of these plants have been converted to burn natural gas which they are importing in enormous quantities.

  • So simple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raydobbs (99133) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:31AM (#39711729) Homepage Journal

    I love how it sounds so simple. Just shut the nuclear power plants off, stop generating electricity and bury the fuel forever. Of course, for a country with few natural resources - how are you going to make up for the power generation short-fall. Nuclear power plants are really efficient at generating massive amounts of power, more so than any other power generation technique available today (by size, configuration, and technology). They can't just throw up a handful of wind turbines and hope to call it even. They can't erect coal fired or natural gas plants, especially if their reserves of such resources are marginal at best (Japan is an island, after all). All petroleum-based power generation will just make oil and it's derivatives vastly expensive - it STILL won't make up for the gap.

    Are they going to ration power? Black out selected parts of the country to help keep the demand in check with the new available supply? Eliminate enough power generation technology, and you suddenly send your nation back to pre-Industrial Revolution economy... not good for a country that is the current technological leader of the entire planet.

    • Re:So simple? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:33AM (#39711775)

      You do exactly what is being done now: Shift from a trade surplus to a trade deficit as you start buying ridiculous amounts of oil to compensate for the massive loss of generating capacity. On top of power shortages.

    • Re:So simple? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:13PM (#39712289) Homepage

      Are they going to ration power? Black out selected parts of the country to help keep the demand in check with the new available supply?

      Apparently you don't know that almost all of the country's reactors are already offline. There are, IIRC, only two still running and these are the ones that will shut down in May.

      There is no rationing for consumers. Industry had to cut down a bit, and everyone is being encouraged to save power where they can. But certainly there will be no blackouts (nor were there immediately after the quake, in fact apart from a reduced train schedule life carried on pretty much as normal with some slightly less well lit shops).

      Japan has inadvertently proven that a modern high-tech economy (3rd largest in the world) can go nuclear free in a year and not suffer too badly. You wouldn't do it that way by choice, but the idea that we would be thrown back to the dark ages without nuclear has been comprehensively proven to be false.

      Of course, for a country with few natural resources - how are you going to make up for the power generation short-fall.

      Actually Japan has enough natural resource to go completely renewable. Hydro, geothermal, wind, wave and solar. Obviously it won't happen overnight but Japan is also one of the world leaders in renewables.

      • by Creepy (93888)

        or they just might go nuclear [wikipedia.org]

        Of course, that will just prove Alvin Weinberg [wikipedia.org] was right all along, and Nixon and the greedy nuclear companies that owned the patents on light water reactor designs that got him fired were wrong. Nuclear power in today's reactors were always about the most efficient design that resulted in nuclear weapons grade byproducts and never about powering homes. A nuclear reactor that is much safer (can't melt down and byproducts decay faster, for example), burns almost all of its fuel,

    • Re:So simple? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:26PM (#39712501) Homepage Journal

      Nuclear power plants are really efficient at generating massive amounts of power, more so than any other power generation technique available today (by size, configuration, and technology).

      Sorry, but this is not correct. For all thermal plants the same efficiency paramaters ar dictated by the laws of thermodynamic.
      Also there is no reason a coal plant can't be bigger (in terms of output) than a nuclear plant, in fact: they are.

      They can't just throw up a handful of wind turbines and hope to call it even.

      You are talking about Japan, aren't you? Perhaps you should look on the map for once where actually Japan is, and how it looks like, sorry, but that comment is very silly.

      If a country in the world can easy switch to wind only, it is Japan.

      Eliminate enough power generation technology, and you suddenly send your nation back to pre-Industrial Revolution economy.

      This, as well as some posters before you, is complete bollocks. Ever heard about that magic thing called market? Price? Ever heard about the term efficiency? You can compensate lack of energy by reducing consumption. You can reduce consumption by switching stuff off, running stuff more economically (you do change the cooling setting of your fridge in winter, don't you?) or running stuff more efficient (big LCD flat screen TVs e.g. use less energy than CRTs).

      Ofc, if you eliminate 90% of the power generation you obviously are right ...

      • by b0bby (201198)

        (you do change the cooling setting of your fridge in winter, don't you?)

        I've never actually heard of anyone doing this, and it doesn't really make sense to me; the inside of my house is roughly the same temp (within 15 dgrees F) in summer and winter, and regardless I want my frozen stuff frozen & my yogurt & milk at the right temperature.

        I allow the power company to shut my AC off on the hottest days to even out consumption, but I don't see them changing my fridge.

      • you do change the cooling setting of your fridge in winter, don't you?

        Why, do you want your food to be warmer in the winter?

    • by russotto (537200)

      Are they going to ration power? Black out selected parts of the country to help keep the demand in check with the new available supply? Eliminate enough power generation technology, and you suddenly send your nation back to pre-Industrial Revolution economy... not good for a country that is the current technological leader of the entire planet.

      The missing option you're looking for is "outsource even more power-hungry industry to China".

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:33AM (#39711777)
    The industry is busily building new reactors in developing countries like Turkey - even though the local population there really, really doesn't want to live near a nuclear reactor (not that that has ever stopped the shady N-Industry). For every Japan reactor they loose, they'll build 3 - 4 new ones in developing countries eager to join the "prestigious club" of developed nations that use nuclear power. And then we'll probably see brand new Fukushimas/Tchernobyls happening in countries that could have - and should have - invested in renewables like Wind and Solar Energy instead.
    • Or maybe the new reactors will be safer modern designs. (Fukushima Daiichi went live in 1971, Chernobyl in 1977)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Andy Dodd (701)

        Even though it was newer in time, because the Soviets were a bit behind the West in nuclear technology, it was way behind any Western power reactor in terms of safety. Chernobyl was a fundamentally dangerous reactor design that has NEVER been built in the USA. It had fundamental instabilities AND they decided not to bother with a containment building.

        Fukushima was one of the oldest operating reactors on the planet. Unit I was originally scheduled for decommissioning prior to the disaster. For Fukushima

        • I think that's the strange thing about this. The real disaster was the tsunami but a lot of people don't even acknowledge the tsunami and just see it as some nuclear disaster. I think there are a lot of people who are irrationally afraid of nuclear power. These people tend to have very limited scientific knowledge so what they've learned about nuclear technology throughout the years has nothing to do with physics and chemistry and everything to do with Chernobyl and Hiroshima. People think that nuclear fiss

          • by nojayuk (567177)
            Onagawa power station to the north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant was closer to the earthquake focus and also got hit by the tsunami. The reactors in Onagawa were higher up and better protected than the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and there was no drama. They shut down perfectly well and the backup generators took over the cooling load. The Onagawa reactors were pretty much the same design and configuration as the Daiichi units although built later.
        • I happen to carpool with a gentleman who's sister was a lead engineer at Chernobyl. From what he tells me, some Communist party official's son was working on his doctoral thesis. He wanted to do an experiment. They told him it was a really, really bad idea. They were overruled by the father. And the rest as they say is history.

          The son ends up dying and the dad was thrown in prison.

          So even with an unsafe design, everything was working fine until all that political interference happened.

    • by Volante3192 (953645) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:43AM (#39711921)

      No one wants to live next to a power plant but they still really really want power.

      People always forget the 'base line power' argument, too, and all renewables, so far, can't overcome that reliably. Solar doesn't work at night, wind doesn't work on calm days, hydroelectric and geothermal have geographical limits. But we still need power on calm nights far from dams. We're making progress, but it's still not quite there. (Face it, until things like molten salt batteries stop making headlines, it's not ready for prime time.)

      And frankly, I'd rather live next door to a nuke plant (and, I actually sorta do) than be a day's drive from a coal plant.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        People always forget the 'base line power' argument, too, and all renewables, so far, can't overcome that reliably.

        Actually it is nuclear that can't provide reliable base line power, especially in Japan. A reactor can go offline suddenly and without warning due to some problem. Since they experience earthquakes large enough to cause an automatic shutdown at least a couple of times a month they can't rely on nuclear for base line power. Even in the UK which is largely free from seismic events we don't rely on it.

        In contract the UK considers wind to be excellent for base load. If a wind farm is generating 500mW now you ca

        • >Actually it is nuclear that can't provide reliable base line power, especially in Japan. A reactor can go offline suddenly and without warning due to some problem. Since they experience earthquakes large enough to cause an automatic shutdown at least a couple of times a month they can't rely on nuclear for base line power. Even in the UK which is largely free from seismic events we don't rely on it.

          And what happens in the Coal plants? Severe explosions?

        • Solar thermal works 24/7/356.

          It does?!

          On July 4, 2011, a company in Spain celebrated an historic moment for the solar industry: Torresol’s 19.9 MW concentrating solar power plant became the first ever to generate uninterrupted electricity for 24 hours straight.

          Yep, that sounds like battle tested technology right there...solar plants working for 24 hours is less than a year old.

          Although...that's not even what the company is pushing:

          http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/07/05/260438/solar-can-be-baseloa [thinkprogress.org]

      • People always forget the 'base line power' argument, too, and all renewables, so far, can't overcome that reliably.

        The baseline power argument only exists on /. as most people here don't know what base line actually means or is. I suggest to check wikipedia.
        Renewables are very well suited for baseline production (Wind, Solar and flow water hyrdo power). The myth that they are not exists only here on /. again my advice: wikipedia.

        • by mcguiver (898268)
          The baseload power argument is alive though. Yes it is true that if you diversify your renewable portfolio sufficiently and provide for enough grid storage then yes, renewables can handle demand. However, for all the costs of renewables that people are spouting off, no one adds in the extra costs of redundant generation and grid storage. Renewables have a capacity factor of around 20%. This means that they are producing their total rated capacity about 20% of the time. To consistently produce 1MW of el
    • by worip (1463581)
      The local population probably wants to live next to a coal power plant even less. Power stations need to be built somewhere and people usually argues the NIMBY (not in my back yard) principle even though they want what the power station provides. Would you rather prefer developing countries build coal power stations? Because renewables are probably more than an order of magitude off from actually providing the type of power that a nuclear power station provides (GW vs tens of MW) and are typically unable t
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:42AM (#39711897) Homepage Journal

    A while back I left a comment here [slashdot.org] explaining that Japan needs to stop devaluing their currency, because they'll be in a hole without so many resources needed to rebuild their broken infrastructure, and it would be much cheaper for them to buy these resources from around the world if the Yen was valued much higher, than what their government allows. Well, guess what, that comment is still completely appropriate today as it was then.

    Japan needs a lot of raw materials and energy, so they really need to trade with countries at least for those resources, and stronger currency would help Japan immensely, especially now, that they've been hit with too many natural disasters and they need all sorts of materials and energy to rebuild everything.

    Japan needs to rebuild their infrastructure in many places, so they need to allow their currency to appreciate, so that more investments would be put into it, so they could buy more, and they need to stop listening the insane Keynesian charlatans, who really caused their economy to stagnate for 20 years. Nobody should be bailed out and nobody should be protected from rising currency with government intervention. Having currency fall looks good on a quarterly statement due to more sales in devalued currency, but it's terrible for the actual citizens and consumers, who have rising prices because the government destroys the money.

    Maybe the Japanese should think about kicking their government in the balls for these 20 years and taking away their ability to print money in the first place and do something smart for a change and switch to saving and trading in gold and let the investments come into the country, because that's what would happen.

    They would fix the unemployment in a hurry, with more investments coming in and they would be able to fix their infrastructure with strong money and they wouldn't even need to make these cuts in scientific spending.

    Also while the Japanese have to re-evaluate some of their nuclear power plant safety features, such as not all generators being in one basement together, or whatever else, including extra cabling to connect the plants to the grid, they cannot just rely on buying up oil to run their electrical grid. Oil is going to get more and more expensive and if they keep devaluing the Yen, it will be as expensive for them, nominally, as it is going to be for the Americans, and it's not a good example and a path to follow.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      A while back I left a comment here explaining that Japan needs to stop devaluing their currency, because they'll be in a hole without so many resources needed to rebuild their broken infrastructure

      Japan's infrastructure is pretty good actually. They need to devalue their currency because the high price of their exports is hurting them a lot. All those high tech products that the rest of the world laps up have been rising in price since a historic low in 2007.

      It is also a bit of a myth that Japan suffers from not having many natural resources. Even though we in Europe and the US do have more resources we still end up importing large volumes of material from China, especially things like steel. It is s

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Japan's infrastructure is pretty good actually. They need to devalue their currency because the high price of their exports is hurting them a lot. All those high tech products that the rest of the world laps up have been rising in price since a historic low in 2007.

        - yeah, that's what you've been taught over the years. It's complete nonsense.

        Look at Switzerland - it had very strong currency up until last year, when they tied it to Euro (idiots), but they had lowest unemployment and plenty of exports.

        Again and again I have to repeat the same message, because clearly, it's not getting through: devaluing currency as a way to make exports cheaper is idiotic.

        The companies who rely on gov't to devalue currency to make their exports cheaper are simply getting paid less for

  • by oiron (697563) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:46AM (#39711957) Homepage

    ...the trade minister said two reactors idled after the Fukushima disaster would not be back online before the last one currently operating is shut down

    No, they're not going all non-nuclear. They're shutting down and doing an audit of each reactor. The first one to clear the audit and restart won't be able to restart until a few weeks after the last running one is shut down for the audit.

    That's ALL! They're not abandoning all nuclear power, or anything like that. As others noted, they really don't have a choice except nuclear, currently, what with Tokyo's ~40000 megawatt requirements, on top of the whole train network. And that's without thinking of industry...

    Suffice it to say that Japan can't go no-nuke for a while, even if they wanted to.

    • by mikestew (1483105)

      And my mod points expired just yesterday. I read the headline and said to myself, "that can't be right, they can't just build coal and oil plants in a matter of weeks, and the existing ones surely can't handle the extra load." No one else thought the same thing before commenting? No? Because of ./'s pristine track record of headlines matching the facts?

      • Weeks? The tsunami struck over a year ago. If you were ambitious and had a lot of money, you could probably get a power plant up and running in a year.
    • You missed the fact that from 54 reactors only 52 are running right now, and the last 2 will go offline soon.
      So in fact your claim Suffice it to say that Japan can't go no-nuke for a while, even if they wanted to. is wrong.

  • Dam breaches following Japan earthquake [waterpowermagazine.com]

    A dam in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan was breached following the recent earthquake and tsunamis which have devastated the country.
    According to media reports, the dam broke on Friday, with a wall of water washing away 1800 homes downstream.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:55PM (#39713009) Homepage Journal

    Than nuclear has... Imagine if a few months after Deepwater Horizon the USA had said 'We're not using any more oil. Period." How would we make up that considerable energy gap?

    This is essentially what Japan is doing. They are slitting their own throats for a PR move. At least 30% of their electricity comes from nuclear. How are they going to make that up? It's like asking them to go back to the 60's and start all over again in terms of infrastructure.

    For a country that is an industrial giant, it's not a good idea to lose 30% of your energy capacity. I mean, even if you switched everyone over to LED lightbulbs instead of incandescent, I still don't think you'd get 30%

  • by hackus (159037) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @02:37PM (#39714695) Homepage

    After spending several years discussing a wide variety of issues with Engineering departments at various Universities about Nuclear Power I came to some conclusions:

    1) Nuclear power is sort of a term that needs to be described, as more than one possibility. When you think of Nuclear power, you think of Uranium. That simply isn't the case, there are alternatives, including the most promising, which is Thorium.

    2) A decision was made a long time ago, by the government, that Uranium would be the only nuclear power that would be acceptable. This was for cold war reasons, because Plutonium was required for Nuclear weapons.

    3) Besides the by products of Plutonium, to make weapons, there was huge private interests in the University community and research that also had a part to play to insure the Uranium route was the path that the United States would follow.

    These three realizations of the historic Cold War, Military and Private institutional interests is why Nuclear Power is in the horrible state it is in today.

    However, the technology has come quite a long way since the 1950's and through various advancements in materials and ceramic technologies, Uranium power no longer has any advantages economically over Thorium based Nuclear Power plants.

    Besides the problem of refinement and fuel quantity is much more desirable with Thorium than it is with uranium.

    Thorium process technology does away with any sort of explosion, beyond steam, that might occur at a Nuclear Thorium based power plant.

    Including the generation of huge clouds of hydrogen, which as we see at Fukishima, blew highly radioactive parts of the building and infrastructure into half a mile trajetcories all around the plant with the explosions it created when the zirconium casings were melting around the fuel rods in contact with water, producing gigantic releases of Hydrogen gas.

    Thorium is now a very viable energy alternative and with the advancements in ceramics in recent decades, all of the engineering issues are much more easily handled. Cost is competitive, to operate as compared to Uranium plants.

    So as I have been watching the news, I have been wondering why such countries as Iran who is just really beginning on a energy program for their nations, would want to go the Uranium route? Why not just switch to Thorium?

    My personal opinion about the Iran bomb issue, is WHO CARES. I mean lots of countries have the bomb, even wacko's like North Korea who constantly broadcasts every day it will turn the South Koreans into a sea of fire....blah blah...for the past several decades.

    So I don't see Iran with a bomb any different that Iran without a bomb. Like most countries , Iran primarily do these things for national reasons. Anyone foolish enough to actually use one will be turned into a glass parking lot. Historically this line of thought seems to prevent their use....even through the nearly tragic 1960's with the cuban missile crisis. This keep in mind was all through the big terrorist years of 1980's with the CIA even back then publishing papers that the Soviets would use Syrian nationals to plant suitcase size nukes in large US cities.

    Never materialized, although today it is Al Queda that would be doing such things....just another boogey man in my opinion.

    So I am glad to see Japan put down the Uranium Nuclear option, but the country should reconsider Thorium.

    I am also aware, through various research, that there seems to be a strong international reproach, mainly from the U.N. and NATO, to restrict or discourage any sort of discussion or idea of Thorium options for power and to keep them out of the press. (Forbid to publish.) Now, it is in my own mind clear why this would be the case. If the world went Thorium, Nuclear weapons would be a _very_ hard proposition indeed without Nuclear fuel.

    -Hack

Power corrupts. And atomic power corrupts atomically.

Working...