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Japan Earth Power

The Status of the Fukushima Clean-Up 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
doom writes "Ian Sample at the Guardian UK does a really thorough write-up of what's going on with the Fukushima Clean-up. From the article: 'Though delicate and painstaking, retrieving the fuel rod assemblies from the pools is not the toughest job the workers face. More challenging by far will be digging out the molten cores in the reactors themselves. Some of the fuel burned through its primary containment and is now mixed with cladding, steel and concrete. The mixture will have to be broken up, sealed in steel containers and moved to a nuclear waste storage site. That work will not start until some time after 2020.'"
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The Status of the Fukushima Clean-Up

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  • TL;DR version (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gravis Zero (934156) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @06:44AM (#45606287)

    it still sucks and it's going to take forever to clean up.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I thought this was the Windows news item for a second.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      To be exact, "forever" is probably equal to enough half-lives of most active and dangerous materials so that they become relatively harmless.

      Same idea as in Chernobyl. Unlike chemical waste, radioactive waste destroys itself over time. It makes sense to contain it and let most of it destroy itself to manageable levels before cleaning it up.

      • Well I hope the Nuclear Waste Storage site isn't being designed by the same bozos who built a Fission Reactor over an active fault in a tsunami zone otherwise they'll build it on top of Mt St Helens!
        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Nothing wrong with this. Another reactor that was closer to epicenter and got hit by larger tsunami survived just fine. Of course, it was a generation newer, and not 60s tech with better seawall to boot.

          • by Andy Dodd (701)

            Yup. The reactor sustained no damage from the earthquake itself.

            It was the following tsunami they didn't properly plan for.

            Also - more modern plants would have weathered this tsunami without problems. Newer plant designs have significantly improved passive safety, rendering the diesel generators (which are safety-critical in older plants) non-safety-critical.

            • by Megane (129182)
              Actually, there was some evidence that the Fukushima reactors did have containment damage from the earthquake. It's just that the problems caused when the tsunami took out the cooling (and these reactors need active cooling even for weeks after being shut down) were much worse.
              • by Luckyo (1726890)

                Again, the generation newer plant was closer to the epicenter, took the bigger hit and bigger tsunami. It survived it just fine.

      • by Megane (129182)

        Unlike chemical waste, radioactive waste destroys itself over time.

        And the longer it takes to do so, the less of a problem it was to begin with. If it takes a million years, it's not very radioactive. If it's really, really radioactive, it will only last for days, weeks, or months. The main problem is with stuff with a half-life of decades, and likes to take the place of other elements in your body, such as the calcium in your bones, where it can irradiate you for the rest of your life.

    • >> it still sucks and it's going to take forever to clean up.

      Those crazy Japanese are making this way harder than it needs to be. Just dig up all that crap and leave it on a truck in Mexico someplace. Ta-da! All clean.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "it still sucks and it's going to take forever to clean up."

      No, not forever. People can go back to their homes from 12 pm January 5th 186013.

  • by Suiggy (1544213)

    And I've stopped eating Sushi.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      And I've stopped eating Sushi.

      Me too, but who cares [infiniteunknown.net] what we're doing?

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:27AM (#45606617) Journal

      And I've stopped eating Sushi.

      So you were happy when the coal plants were dumping untold amounts of mercury and other crap into the sea (it all winds up there eventually), but now you've stopped eating fish because of Fukishima?

      You need to evaluate your risk assessment strategies.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And you need to eat more sushi.

        Please. You can have mine.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why is this upvoted? it is a blatant strawman argument.

        • by khallow (566160)
          Because the previous poster claimed that they stopped eating sushi, implying that they had eaten it before. That meant that they found toxins in sea animals from coal burning plants (and other sources) acceptable, but not the trivial extra amount from the Fukushima accident.

          It's not a straw man argument, if it directly and appropriately applies to the person being spoken to.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Implying that he was happy with the mercury caused by coal is the fallacy. nothing in anything said implies that he was happy nor aware of the previous situation. the entire post is argumentative and does not belong on slashdot. It is being upvoted because people here like nuclear power and are feeling defensive of it. I'm not arguing over the correctness of of one power system over the other. Just trying to improve the quality of slashdot.

            a none sensationalist way to say the same thing would be"I fee

            • by khallow (566160)

              Implying that he was happy with the mercury caused by coal is the fallacy. nothing in anything said implies that he was happy nor aware of the previous situation.

              Changing one's behavior based on a trivial increase in risk implies ignorance of the previous state of affairs. And "happy" is used sarcastically.

              the entire post is argumentative and does not belong on slashdot.

              You would be wrong here. Slashdot's whole business model revolves around argumentative geeks collecting in one place and writing argumentative posts.

              It is being upvoted because people here like nuclear power and are feeling defensive of it.

              Given the unthinking libel that gets throw around (like assuming right after the accident that TEPCO has to be incompetent without information), I think that's a reasonable concern.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                You are correct, it is slashdots business model and does belong here, poor choice of words on my part, What I should have said it does not deserve a plus 5 insightful rating. As for fighting libel with libel I strongly disagree,
                hence my first post. I like to see logical arguments. (Like you are doing with me) Responding to ridiculous claims with more ridiculousness does not further any cause, it only serves to make everyone look stupid.

    • Most fish used in sushi doesn't come from the Pacific.
      It comes from fishing farms, where the fish have so little room that most are sick, so pesticides and anti-biotics are used to keep them alive until they're good to harvest.
      No need to tell you eat that stuff as well.
    • by quenda (644621)

      And I've stopped eating Sushi.

      The Pacific is kind of big. The ocean water naturally contains about 100 million tonnes of uranium.
      And while the reactor isotopes will cross the ocean in detectable quantities, that takes years.

      • by rapidmax (707233)

        I would not be that certain. If the waste is distributed evenly then it should not increase the natural radiation much. But it may come in concentrated bubbles:

        http://www.ingenieur.de/Fachbereiche/Kernenergie/Radioaktive-Wasserblase-Fukushima-treibt-amerikanische-Westkueste [ingenieur.de]

        • by quenda (644621)

          What a load of alarmist and deceptive nonsense. Carefully worded to make harmless or irrelevant things sound scary.
          That is immoral behavior.
          Worse, the sub-edit has taken those deceptive words, and made headlines which are outright lies. So if the editor is fooled so badly, the general readers must be even more so.

          e.g. OMG Fukushima put more radiation into the ocean (100x claimed) than Chernobyl!! (But less into the Caspian maybe?)
          But this leads to the headline: "Released 100 times as much radiation as Cher

    • I love sushi, but what I fear about it is the possibility of parasites. I would be a lot happier if sushi were routinely irradiated.
  • Why did they continue to run the plant after the tsunami incident? There has been little malfunctions all the time since then.
    • by AlecC (512609)

      They didn't. The malfunctions have all been in containment and cleanup systems. All Japanese nuclear reactors were closed down after the tsunami, and only two, a long way from Fukushima, have restarted - against considerable protest. None of the reactors at that site will ever run again.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... org minus author> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:04AM (#45606529)

        All Japanese nuclear reactors were closed down after the tsunami, and only two, a long way from Fukushima, have restarted

        They haven't actually restarted yet, fwiw. The operator has applied for permission to restart them, and after some controversy, the government has decided in principle to consider the request, so the relevant agency has started a safety assessment [japandailypress.com]. Even if approved, they are unlikely to restart before 2016 [japandailypress.com].

        • by nojayuk (567177)

          Two reactors at Ohi were restarted back in 2012. Japanese nuclear regulations require a shutdown and inspection of all reactors every thirteen months, usually done as part of a refuelling operation. The Ohi reactors have been shut down again after operating for thirteen months but are not restarting after inspection and refuelling for various reasons, mainly bureaucratic and local-political.

      • by quenda (644621)

        None of the reactors at that site will ever run again.

        The Japanese are such wimps. The three remaining reactors at Chernobyl continued operating for 10 to 14 years after the #4 reactor incident.
        Fukushima may have lost 3 reactors, but there are still another 3 perfectly good ones on site that happened to be shut down for maintenance when the Tsunami hit.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      It's not still operating; they shut it down completely after the incident. The subsequent incidents, like this one [reuters.com], have been related to the containment/cooling/cleanup operation.

    • by Calinous (985536)

      The plants were stopped. Unfortunately, stopped nuclear plants still produce heat, so they need cooling (lots of cooling at that).
      The tsunami broke the cooling installation, so the heat from the "non-functional" reactors (or storage pools or whatever) had nowhere else to go fast. If I remember correctly, two of the nuclear plants were to be decommissioned, and were kept at "zero operating power" (that is, as low as possible). As they weren't cooled enough, they had a heat buildup that

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:26AM (#45606929) Homepage

        That a simplification but essentially correct.

        In fact both the earthquake and tsunami damaged the cooling system. They could have recovered from that using emergency pump trucks, which in fact they did try to do. The problem was that all the monitoring equipment was out of action due to lack of power, so they were unaware that a valve was open and syphoning off the water they were pumping in before it reached the reactors. The tsunami damage made getting near enough to make manual checks difficult, and then things started to explode as well.

        The plant was designed to survive flooding and tsunami, it just didn't work in a real emergency situation. That is why when operators claim that their plants are safer or they have some new design that can't possibly go wrong people are sceptical. The same reassurances have been made before.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

          The plant was designed to survive flooding and tsunami, it just didn't work in a real emergency situation. That is why when operators claim that their plants are safer or they have some new design that can't possibly go wrong people are sceptical. The same reassurances have been made before.

          That's because the plant was not designed for Tsunamis of a height that has occurred in that area, and was known to have occured in that area. That's the real criminal element of this whole sad story.

  • by fullback (968784) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:10AM (#45606547)

    And I have two things to say.

    1. It's an incredibly difficult job where new challenges have to be met with new thinking every day.

    2. The people who are doing the difficult work deserve a huge gratitude of thanks for their effort. Working in full radiation suits and masks in 35C temperatures in summer took extraordinary strength of purpose and determination.

    All of you that are going to make jokes about glowing whatever and Godzilla can go fuck yourselves. And I mean it. Go Fuck Yourself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Humour is a coping strategy. If people are not allowed to make jokes about stuff that scares them it gets much scarier for them.

      Live with it.

      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        It's not a "coping strategy" when you're 10000 miles away.

      • Humour is a coping strategy. If people are not allowed to make jokes about stuff that scares them it gets much scarier for them.

        Oh, fuck off.

        Most of the time I see that argument parrotted on Slashdot, it's being intentionally misused some borderline sociopathic asshole that's just made an insensitive joke about something that happened on the other side of the world and been called out on it.

        Sure, we all know that you made that sick joke about that tragedy in the Philippines/China/wherever that'll never affect your home in Buttfuck, Illinois (which you'll have forgotten about by the time you move on to the next news item) as a "c

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)

          Joking about such a tragedy is not a nice and cheerful thing to do. I've never claimed to be a nice and cheerful person, though.

          Japan is the only country to have a nuclear bomb detonated on civilians. A significant percentage of the population was directly affected by those blasts and the fallout, and in the decades that followed those same victims got to see the terror of radioactivity go from being a horror to a power source... but the trauma isn't forgotten. Godzilla was a horror movie, exhibiting the te

          • by Dogtanian (588974)
            Not sure which direction you're coming from here. Are you the AC who I was replying to, or someone who lives near to the Fukushima plant, or someone else just making a point?

            What you say may all be true, but I already acknowledged this:-

            We all know that people closely affected by events (or feel themselves likely to be affected) often take solace in black humour- fair enough.

            That wasn't what was being argued against.

            What I *was* very clearly calling BS on was people who blatantly aren't remotely near, affected by nor even genuinely concerned by the events they're "joking" about- quite the opposite- making sick or insensitive jokes (i.e. the

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        It's a coping strategy to joke about the threat, not the victims. If you're joking about people glowing in the dark and those people lost access to the very ground their home used to stand on, you're a dick.

    • 2. The people who are doing the difficult work deserve a huge gratitude of thanks for their effort. Working in full radiation suits and masks in 35C temperatures in summer took extraordinary strength of purpose and determination.

      I hear that, and it is an effort to do it for long, I've worked in full plastics, rain gear, pants, top, hood it's no joy, and damn hot work.

    • I think it's great that someone close to the site posted something like this. It could have opened up a wonderful dialog. However, you really diluted your message by adding those last two sentences.
    • All of you that are going to make jokes about glowing whatever and Godzilla can go fuck yourselves. And I mean it. Go Fuck Yourself.

      Hey, I strongly recommend anger management classes there, bro. Those classes really helped old Godzilla.

    • You have the luxury of being 90 miles away from the nuclear plant, but I understand that you are sensitive to any remarks concerning this disaster. It's comparable to Americans being upset at people who make light of the September 11 attack on the twin towers. Fukushima is a national concern for Japan.

      I don't particularly care for your "fuck yourself" comment because not only does it take away all the positive energy you projected on the people working at the site, it squashed most chances to have a positi

  • by TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:15AM (#45606555)

    I am held AGHAST by the biblical-level hysteria that is circulating about Fukushima these days. It is being served up and replicated with the relish of the street-corner preacher with an end-of-world sign. Every die-off of fish is related (ignore the Atlantic), the melting starfish (never mind it's happening worldwide), from mammals to narwhals there is some serious confirmation bias being stirred.

    The computer model plume of currents has DEATH arriving at the United States West coast; mere detection of miniscule amounts of Cesium -- which science is capable of to an extraordinary level of precision -- is being fronted as a radioactive death sentence.

    There seems to be no deference to expert or even medical opinion on true risk factors; and in the tired vein of disaster porn, any appeals to consider such generates a (predictable) backlash of conspiracy coverup allegations. At times it is literally a no-think zone.

    Radioactivity is the new whipping boy of disaster porn.

    NO-HYPE Fukushima information:

    Fukushima Accident Updates [hiroshimasyndrome.com]. Leslie Corrice has done an excellent job chronicling the accident from 2011. Following the latest posting thread backwards in time (some 60 pages so far) is a detailed account you will find nowhere else.

    Fukushima Accident Commentary [hiroshimasyndrome.com] Leslie Corrice again, exhibiting a level of journalistic integrity that is fast-fading on today's news and Internet sources, has maintained a separate thread of personal opinion and commentary. It is as fascinating a read as the last, here you will find topics of politics, culture and status and observation of the Fukushima victims' compensation fund and resettlement.

    Nuclear Industry source: Nuclear Street tag: Fukushima [nuclearstreet.com]

    Rod Adams' Atomic Power Review [blogspot.com] has scaled down its Fukushima coverage as of late, but in the archives you will find some detailed articles with week-by-week coverage.

    Do add more!

    • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:29AM (#45606633)

      The hysteria is whipped up by the more extreme hippy enviromentalists and their patsies in the ignorant media and governments (hello Germany). The hippies have a deep seated hatred of anything nuclear simply because SOME power stations in SOME countries were used to generate plutonium. So regardless of its benefits they damn the best form of power generation we have to offset climate change - and don't anyone bloody start about fucking stupid windfarms that cost a fortune, blanket god knows how many square miles and produce sod all power most of the time - simply because of their political leanings and their mindset being stuck in the 1980s along with whats left of CND.

      Frankly these people are a disgrace and should be ashamed of themselves, but instead they just make more and more noise. The only consolation is they'll all be dead in a few decades and hopefully sanity will prevail once more. And anyone who still thinks nuclear power is dangerous should think twice about visiting France. Though I'm not aware of it being radioactive yet.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        I thought the hippies hated nuclear because it increased energy production which increased human population which leads to the rape of earth as they likely call it.

      • by hey! (33014)

        Yes, dagnebbit. If only them long-haired hippies with their free love, LDS and bell-bottom trousers would go away, TEPCO would have this licked.

      • The problem is not in Japan, which is a place where science and engineering are respected and which will, after appropriate safety checks and emergency procedure redesign, restart most of its reactors. It's Western media, riddled as it is by ex-hippies who were fricasseed in Seventies anti-technology culture, that keeps crying Wolf about the imminent death of the Pacific.
      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Yup. In fact, this accident could be blamed on them.

        At least one of the Fukushima reactors was originally scheduled for decommissioning prior to the accident. However, because it's so damn difficult to get new modernized plants with improved safety features built, and the population still needs electricity - the end result is that old clunkers like Fukushima (which consisted of some of the oldest operating reactors on the planet) get service life extensions.

        • by nojayuk (567177)

          Actually no. The oldest reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, no. 1 was about 40 years old but still operating problem-free and it was likely to get a ten-year licence extension after inspection. The average working life of 1970s-era reactors looks to be about 50 years or more; in a few cases economics and the dash for gas are getting some smaller facilities like Vermont Yankee (a 600MWe single-reactor plant) shut down. Reactors 2, 3 and 4 at Fukushima Daiichi were more modern designs and had at least ten years lif

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        The hysteria is whipped up by the more extreme hippy enviromentalists and their patsies in the ignorant media and governments

        Don't forget the fucking socialists and liberals, who have an innate desire to see everything good in this world fall to ruin so that they can place as many people in concentration camps and then execute them in their pursuit of thir desire to see as much death as possible. You left that out. My point is that your statement is perhaps a tad hysterical itself.

        Now try to have a couple less espressos each day.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I cant believe I had to scroll this far down to read a reasoned comment. After all the people who died that day through natural disasters the people seem to be looking for more people to die to appease their blood lust. The zero casualties from radiation seems to mean nothing and the blown up assumption that people will suddenly die off from cancer is ridiculous.

      What is worse is that this second only to Chernobyl incident that killed nobody will be blamed for every instance of cancer from now on (to the ig

    • Another comment that ought to be modded up. I read a lot of those sources, Rod Adams' blog in particular.
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:51AM (#45607613)

      I'm sorry but where is this hysterical coverage? The Guardian article you're critiquing here ends with:

      "Two years ago there was a huge earthquake and tsunami that killed around 20,000 people. But every day when I read the paper, it said, 'nuclear disaster, nuclear disaster, nuclear disaster'. In actual fact, not one person has died of radiation, nor is anyone likely to. The straight story is the Japanese didn't have a nuclear response plan. There were a lot of human errors during what happened at Fukushima. It was old technology, badly maintained, and the regulator was not respected. Those are the facts. They have to be faced and dealt with."

      • by doom (14564)

        Hey, someone actually read the article. Cool.

        Yeah, that quote complaining about anti-nuclear hyperbole is one of the things I liked in the story. (You know, I thought that reputable newspapers had standards for words like "disaster", and they would refuse to use it if they didn't have evidence of massive deaths... but the rules are different on anti-nuclear news).

        But I've been gradually coming to the conclusion that you want to be careful about making a claim like "no one died because of Fukushima",

    • I am held AGHAST by the biblical-level hysteria that is circulating about Fukushima these days. It is being served up and replicated with the relish of the street-corner preacher with an end-of-world sign. Every die-off of fish is related (ignore the Atlantic), the melting starfish (never mind it's happening worldwide), from mammals to narwhals there is some serious confirmation bias being stirred.

      And that's just the 'calm' comments here on /., everywhere else it's much worse.

    • I am held AGHAST by the biblical-level hysteria that is circulating about Fukushima these days. It is being served up and replicated with the relish of the street-corner preacher with an end-of-world sign. Every die-off of fish is related (ignore the Atlantic), the melting starfish (never mind it's happening worldwide), from mammals to narwhals there is some serious confirmation bias being stirred.

      It's like global warming. Probably the same people are whipping up the hysteria, too.

    • by Uecker (1842596)
      Hysteria or not, as a physicist, I am more AGHAST by the fact that you think the blogs you cite somehow provide an impartial account of the facts. For exampe, it is the predominant scientific opinion that radiation is harmful at all levels. While this subject to discussion, your first blog simply claims this is a myth. Therefor it is misrepresenting the state of scientific knowledge and I would personally not trust this source even a little bit.
      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        For exampe, it is the predominant scientific opinion that radiation is harmful at all levels.

        If you're actually a physicist I'd expect you to comprehend the fact that there are different definitions of "harmful". Most people would not consider the radiation your body naturally produces or the radiation from a TV to be "harmful". According to the US government, 5,000 millirems/yr is safe -- i.e., "not harmful".

        Also, that blog doesn't seem to actually says that low levels are not harmful. It says they are "essentially safe". Those are somewhat distinct concepts.

        • by Uecker (1842596)
          Ofcouse a very small dose will not be very dangerous. Still it is believed to be harmful. This is the basis of the "as low as reasonably practicable/achievable" principle which is a guiding principle with respect to protection from ionizing radiation. Above website claims this a myth, i.e. there is not even a very small risk whatsoever from a small amount of radiation. This is not the mainstream opinion, which assumes that there is a risk proportional to the dose. And yes, this makes a difference: I.e. on
      • For exampe, it is the predominant scientific opinion that radiation is harmful at all levels. While this subject to discussion, your first blog simply claims this is a myth. Therefor it is misrepresenting the state of scientific knowledge and I would personally not trust this source even a little bit.

        Lissen up party people! DJ Galileo is in the house!

        Do you choose your area of residence upon careful consideration of a map showing natural background radiation sources, which vary significantly? Would you refuse a medical procedure such as an X-ray? Have you ever refused to spend 4 hours in an airplane at 30,000 feet? If any of these are a NO, then whilst in the comfortable state of belief in the Linear No Threshold Hypothesis (LNT) [wikipedia.org] you are living your life on a principle that there is such thing as 'a

  • by vix86 (592763) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:30AM (#45606637)
    This will get little coverage in news outlets around the world, but its worth spreading and this article is as good as any to mention it. The Japanese Lower House, in the Diet, passed a bill which set up a National Secrets law. Essentially it is an anti-whistleblower law. It has many of the usual sections present in other countries save for one. The bill sets forth that all information dealing with "nuclear energy" will be considered a national secret and releasing any information without the oversight of the government will basically be illegal.

    This means that if something bad is happening at the Fukushima plant, then we have to rely on someone doing the moral thing and telling the world and then going to jail.

    The bill still has to go through the Upper House but it's likely to pass without much opposition even though the media and the public have been strongly opposed to it. It seems very likely that the bill is there to cover up any bad information that might tarnish Japan or TEPCO's image.

    Japan state secrets bill on track to become law despite protests [yahoo.com]
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      It's a good thing that all such findings can simply be passed over internet to journalists over the border of the country anonymously. Or just posted on twitter/pastebin.

    • Let me use my 5-ring divination technique ... Yep, no bad news at all starting 366 days before summer 2020.

  • Should it be the Cleanushima fuk-up instead?

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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