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Japan Power Robotics

Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Its Reactors' Melted Uranium Fuel (gizmodo.com) 220

An anonymous reader quotes Gizmodo: Earlier this year, remotely piloted robots transmitted what officials believe was a direct view of melted radioactive fuel inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant's destroyed reactors [YouTube] -- a major discovery, but one that took a long and painful six years to achieve... Japanese officials are now hoping that they can convince a skeptical public that the worst of the disaster is over, the New York Times reported, but it's not clear whether it's too late despite the deployment of 7,000 workers and massive resources to return the region to something approaching normal.

Per the Times, officials admit the recovery plan -- involving the complete destruction of the plant, rather than simply building a concrete sarcophagus around it as the Russians did in Chernobyl -- will take decades and tens of billions of dollars. Currently, Tepco plans to begin removing waste from one of the three contaminated reactors at the plant by 2021, "though they have yet to choose which one"... Currently, radiation levels are so high in the ruined facility that it fries robots sent in within a matter of hours, which will necessitate developing a new generation of droids with even higher radiation tolerances.

Friday a group of Japanese businesses and doctors sued General Electric of behalf of 150,000 Japanese citizens, saying their designs for the Fukushima reactors were reckless and negligent.
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Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Its Reactors' Melted Uranium Fuel

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  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @04:43PM (#55582775) Homepage Journal

    I always like to remind people that this thing was older than Chernobyl. This was NOT a modern nuke plant with decent safety features that went meltdown. There is no comparison.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And BWRs were chosen at the time for performance and efficiency, not safety. Plus I am pretty sure those reactors were about 20 years past their accepted usable life, so claiming they are unsafe after operating them far longer than their expected lifespan without doing your own retrofits seems pretty negligent on the part of the owners to me.

      If this had failed a few years into the reactor's life, maybe I would agree with them, but they've had 30 years of warning on these exact reactor designs to shut down a

    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @04:58PM (#55582847)
      Holy cow, I thought you were trolling! [wikipedia.org] Thank you!
      • by Mkkby ( 4973999 )
        They didn't mention the stored fuel pools. The region is still in grave danger until they get the stored fuel to higher ground. This is many times the amount of material as the cores, and it's not well contained.

        Another quake/tsunami can happen at any time. Six years is already a lot of risk taken. Are they going to take decades for this too?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:06PM (#55582867)

      I like to remind people that practically all nuke plants are old and don't have decent safety standards, and that it will always be this way because nobody likes to decommission an expensive nuclear power plant if it can be kept online just a little bit longer. Hence Fukushima.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Which is another good example of why we need effective government oversight, and regulatory agencies with actual enforcement power - despite it being trendy in some circles to claim things would be better if only the government would get out of the way.

        • Or just mandate that nuclear power stations be fully insured against meltdown etc on the private insurance market. Which would make then instantly uneconomic to operate, if they could even find an insurer willing to take on such insane risk.

      • by farrellj ( 563 )

        Practically all *American* designs are old, and don't have good safety standards. On the other hand the CANDU reactor design is *very* safe, and this has been proven time and again.

        • You’re aware that this discussion isn’t about an American reactor... right?

        • CANDU does not describe a single reactor, or single reactor design. There are hundreds of CANDU and CANDU-derived reactors in the world and all built 2 or 3 at a time, meaning dozens of variations on this theme.

          They are safe designs, and I'm not disputing that. I'm saying that we can't say CANDU is any more or less safe than an American reactor unless we narrow that down some.

          This safety of CANDU comes at a cost. They use heavy water which adds to the capital cost, that initial charge of heavy water is v

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          Americans have plenty of new designs as well. The problem is the existing reactors that were supposed to be decommissioned 20 years ago but just get continually retrofitted instead because money >> lives or the environment.

          • They would have been replaced 20 years ago if the federal government would just issue licenses to build new reactors. I recall reading how a single reactor was held up in getting it's license issued for more than 40 years. FORTY YEARS !!!!!

            We can get a natural gas power plant approved in a week, a new hydro dam in a couple years, but it takes a decade to get a nuclear power plant approved. This is not acceptable and we should no longer accept it. We should see these plants get approved in months, not

      • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer.earthlink@net> on Sunday November 19, 2017 @07:34PM (#55583669)

        Nobody likes to decommission an operating nuclear power plant because they know it will be difficult to replace it once shut down.

        As it is now the USA has about 1000 GW of electrical generation capacity, and demand is growing (slowly). A single nuclear reactor will produce about 1 GW of power. No big deal, right? So what if we shut one down? Well, that might be true but there are about 100 nuclear power reactors in the USA, we can't shut them ALL down or the lights go out. Due to the near 24/7 operation of these reactors they have a much larger impact on the grid than just the generation capacity alone might indicate. Even though the generation capacity is 10% of the total they produce 20% of the electricity we use.

        Shutting down 2 GW of nuclear capacity is like shutting down 3 GW of coal, 5 GW of natural gas, 7 GW of wind, or 8 GW of solar. If we start to shut down nuclear reactors, and with no new reactor in it's place, that means a lot of windmills need to be erected. That's ignoring the difference between base load nuclear to unreliable wind and solar. We can manage base load nuclear pretty well on a daily and seasonal scale with a few pumped hydro storage dams like the Tennessee Valley Authority does at Raccoon Mountain. Managing this on a hour or minute scale like wind and solar, is a quite different problem. This would be a very expensive problem.

        If we want to shut down old nuclear we need to build new nuclear. Anything else means lots of natural gas getting burned, very expensive unreliable energy from wind and solar, or rolling blackouts.

        • That's ignoring the difference between base load nuclear to unreliable wind and solar.
          You still don't know what base load actually means but continue to torture us with your rants.
          Hint: the axis of "base load" to "peak load" and the axis of "undispatchable (unreliable is simply wrong)" versus dispatchable are two axises that don't even cut each other and don't form a coordinate system.

          • undispatchable (unreliable is simply wrong)

            I know that English is not your first language but what else do you call an energy source that you cannot rely upon to be there when you need it? That's unreliable. Calling it "undispatchable" is just happy mouth noises trying to cover up that it cannot keep the traffic lights running at night.

            The word "undispatchable" shows up as a non-word in three of the spell checkers I've tried. A more appropriate word might be "intermittent" which is also just happy mouth noises that mean the same as unreliable.

            I h

      • Fukushima wasn't dangerous because it was old. That's just dumb. It was dangerous because the operator, TEPCO, didn't re-site the backup generators to higher ground or raise the seawall when the regulator told them to. And, as another poster here points out, their protocol for (not) venting was just dangerous. If the operator had done any of these things the way they were supposed to, the accident would not have happened, despite basically the worst possible tsunami disaster, though there might have bee
    • I like to remind people that 23 of the same stupid GE Mark I reactor design are in use in the USA

      • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:32PM (#55583009)
        The design wasn't terrible -- placing it and its backup generators in a tsunami zone was the terrible part.
        • design IS terrible, billed as not needing containment building which is the real issue. sure another reactor facility could have failed if put in same place, but would have proper containment. that stupid design was the problem

          • BWR Mk. I reactors have a containment.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by iggymanz ( 596061 )

              yes, a containment *vessel* and it failed 3 out of 3 times in Fukushima, because the design including that vessel is stupid.

              Again, no containment building + stupid design = disaster.

              • by ChumpusRex2003 ( 726306 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @06:54PM (#55583423)
                The BWR 1 containment is a small containment. The small volume has the advantage of smaller diameters, hence supposedly the hoop stress should be smaller under hydrostatic load, making it relatively material efficient and easy to build. However, this was a very early design, and when the Mk3 containment was being designed, more robust analytic techniques revealed some significant concerns in the overall containment strength. In the US, the BWR operators formed a consortium to investigate and mitigate these problems, which they subsequently incorporated into their plants. In turn, this led to a number of lawsuits against GE as the cost of the upgrades were substantial.

                Additionally, the small containment volume and small volume of in-containment water to act as thermal mass gives very poor performance against prolonged, simultaneous failure of containment cooling, and failure of reactor cooling, resulting in heat being dumped into containment. Prolonged total electrical failure was not anticipated at design time, and led to exactly this situation at all 3 fukushima plants. This led to rapid rupture of the containments once reactor cooling was lost. The latest designs of reactor in construction at present have containment volumes approaching 10x that of the BWR1 containment, as a result, pressure rises in accidents would be substantially lower and slower.

                This risk was recognised by the manufacturer and the NRC (in their document NUREG-1150), and in 1987, the NRC published a circular to all BWR plants in the US, giving instructions to plant operators, that if reactor cooling is threatened, the plant operators should initiate containment venting as a matter of the highest priority; this would result in a controlled filtered release, but prevent containment rupture and long-term uncontrolled release.

                In Japan, this risk was not acted upon. Whether it was communicated by the manufacturer to the government is not public. However, the TEPCO management had a policy where reactor operators were not authorized to initiate containment venting on their own, and required direct authority from senior management. Due to difficulties in communication, it took hours before the request was acted upon. At that point, rather than authorize venting, senior management decided to refer the matter to the government. Logs from the plants show that in all 3 cases, containment pressure dropped substantially before venting was finally authorized, indicating that the containments had ruptured during the delay for authorization.
        • No, they only needed to put the walls high enough.

          Every coast is a Tsunami region, even if they are more common in some areas and less common in others.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Yeah, what were those bastards thinking! They should have been able to foresee and use 60 years of future reactor technology development to ensure plants still operating 20 years after their designed lifespan don't have problems!

        • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

          Yeah, what were those bastards thinking! They should have been able to foresee and use 60 years of future reactor technology development to ensure plants still operating 20 years after their designed lifespan don't have problems!

          The above pretty much sums up the fatal flaw of nuclear power -- a nuclear plant must function reliably for decades and sequester its nuclear byproducts for centuries. Human designers simply aren't up to the task of planning that far into the future, hence even the best-designed reactors sometimes fail due to unforeseen circumstances. That's true of every other technology as well, of course, but in most other technologies the costs of an occasional failure are acceptable.

    • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:29PM (#55582989)

      Even so -- it melted down. It didn't catch fire and burn for weeks like Chernobyl, because GE designers weren't insane enough to put graphite in close proximity to superheated steam. C + H2O -> H2 + CO

      Chernobyl was actually an older class of reactor, even though it wasn't physically older than Fukushima. Based on 1940s plutonium production reactors (and likely, a secondary design consideration was production of plutonium from natural uranium), not really a civilian design.

      The Chernobyl design has a few advantages like ability to be refueled while in use (each fuel element had its own steam/water tube that could be isolated) and ability to run on unenriched uranium. But those were outweighed by the disadvantages of the basic design, lack of containment, and poor execution (control rods that increased power when first inserted due to poor design!).

      Interestingly, reactors with the same design as the failed Chernobyl plant are still running in Russia proper, though the plants in the former republics and satellite countries have been shut down.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Waffle Iron ( 339739 )

      Indeed, no true Scotsman would ever run this kind of reactor.

      • Indeed, no true Scotsman would ever run this kind of reactor.

        That's not a no true Scotsman fallacy. You just wouldn't build a reactor like this anymore period. It wouldn't pass any government regulators, IAEA regulations, or any hazard analysis. The only reason these shitty old things are still running at all is because the entire industry was hamstrung into being unable to modernise by greeny psychopaths.

        • No matter what issue is raised with any nuclear reactor technology, somebody on this site pops up to say that would never happen if we only used reactors with some different element as fuel, some different physical layout, some different size, some different cooling scheme, yada, yada, yada.

          Or they'll blame lack of progress on the "greens".

          • Or they'll blame lack of progress on the "greens".

            That seems like blame that is well placed. Or have the "greens" changed their minds and support new nuclear power construction now? I do know such exist, I'm pretty sure they are still rare.

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @09:12PM (#55584133) Homepage Journal

            No matter what issue is raised with any nuclear reactor technology, somebody on this site pops up to say that would never happen if we only used reactors with some different element as fuel, some different physical layout, some different size, some different cooling scheme, yada, yada, yada.

            That's because they're almost always right. Whenever a problem is identified in a nuclear reactor design, manufacturers work to update the designs so that future power plants won't exhibit those problems. As a result, the known flaws in existing reactors have been solved in new designs, and the only thing standing in the way of replacing all those old reactors with reactors based on newer, safer designs are NIMBY pseudo-environmentalists who have somehow convinced themselves that if they prevent new nuclear generators from being built, the need for base load will somehow magically go away.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              the only thing standing in the way of replacing all those old reactors with reactors based on newer, safer designs are NIMBY pseudo-environmentalists

              Really, it has nothing to do with the huge cost of writing off those older reactors and decommissioning them, and then building brand new ones?

              To give you an idea, the new nuclear plant at Hinkly in the UK is the most expensive object on earth. They couldn't find anyone interested in building it until they offered unprecedented subsidies for its entire lifetime, and even then it wasn't until the Chinese decided to invest that it went ahead. During that time, environmental protests were almost non-existent a

      • by rl117 ( 110595 )
        All the Scottish power reactors have graphite cores, actually. They are CO2-cooled graphite-moderated AGRs, a much safer design than BWRs.
    • by boudie2 ( 1134233 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:39PM (#55583043)
      The following 23 U.S. plants have GE boiling-water reactors (GE models 2, 3 or 4) with the same Mark I containment design used at Fukushima, according to the NRC online database:
      Browns Ferry 1, Athens, Ala., operating license since 1973, reactor type GE 4
      Browns Ferry 2, Athens, Ala., 1974, GE 4
      Browns Ferry 3, Athens, Ala., 1976, GE 4
      Brunswick 1, Southport, N.C, 1976, GE 4.
      Brunswick 2, Southport, N.C., 1974, GE 4.
      Cooper, Brownville, Neb., 1974, GE 4.
      Dresden 2, Morris, Ill., 1970, GE 3.
      Dresden 3, Morris, Ill., 1971, GE 3.
      Duane Arnold, Palo, Iowa, 1974, GE 4.
      Fermi 2, Monroe, Mich., 1985, GE 4.
      FitzPatrick, Scriba, N.Y., 1974, GE 4.
      Hatch 1, Baxley, Ga., 1974, GE 4.
      Hatch 2, Baxley, Ga., 1978, GE 4.
      Hope Creek, Hancock's Bridge, N.J. 1986, GE 4
      . Monticello, Monticello, Minn., 1970, GE 3.
      Nine Mile Point 1, Scriba, N.Y., 1969, GE 2.
      Oyster Creek, Forked River, N.J., 1969, GE 2.
      Peach Bottom 2, Delta, Pa., 1973, GE 4.
      Peach Bottom 3, Delta, Pa., 1974, GE 4.
      Pilgrim, Plymouth, Mass., 1972, GE 3.
      Quad Cities 1, Cordova, Ill., 1972, GE 3.
      Quad Cities 2, Moline, Ill., 1972, GE 3.
      Vermont Yankee, Vernon, Vt., 1972, GE 4.
      This was from five years ago. Didn't check to see how many ar still operational but they're definitely old.
    • I always like to remind people that this thing was older than Chernobyl. This was NOT a modern nuke plant with decent safety features that went meltdown. There is no comparison.

      So often we've been reminded that the 'positive void co-efficient' safety feature of these reactors made a Chernobyl style explosion impossible, yet it happened. Rendered ineffective because TEPCO by-passed requirements to operate the reactors safely.

      It's reasonable to remind people it's the same type of reactor installed at Fukushima [wikipedia.org] is operating in many locations throughout the U.S. [nrc.gov]

      • Nit to pick --

        for maximum safety, you want a negative void coefficient.

        i.e., you want output power to reduce by design when voids (from steam bubbles) develop in the cooling system.

        Chernobyl actually had a positive void coefficient, one of many design issues that lead to the accident.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Old it may be, but to this day a number of reactors similar to the GE model that melted down continue to be run around the world and in the US. In fact there's one not far from where I live: the Pilgrim Nuclear Power station has the same GE BWR-3 with Mark 1 containment as Fukushima Daichi 1.

      Chernobyl's vintage is neither here nor there; it is an entirely different Soviet design in a completely different design lineage.

      But where both Fukushima and Chernobyl are relevant is the role that managerial miscondu

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Which is why much of the development in nuclear reactor technology has focused on physics-based shutdown modes rather than relying on human or even mechanical intervention when something goes wrong.

        But none of that helps existing reactors that are still using previous generation technology too much.. and yeah, human error is a huge ongoing concern with those. I'm sure people are a lot more cautious in the wake of Fukushima, and will be as long a Fukushima keeps popping up in the news once in a while.. but

    • I always like to remind people that Fukushima is located in an earthquake friendly zone, near a subduction zone, facing the pacific ocean where it's prone to tsunamis that might be huge.
    • The plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima are completely different designs and based on completely different technologies.
      It does not matter which one is/was older.

      This was NOT a modern nuke plant with decent safety features that went meltdown.
      That is completely irrelevant. Fukushima melted down because it hat no cooling, due to misplaced emergency power generators. It bottom line had nothing to do at all with the design of the plant itself.

      However it is astonishing that they where not able to bring a ship in f

  • Watched the video but there is no annotations or sound. Does anyone have any better ideas as to which bits are fuel?

    To me they could just be driving around a sunken ship for all I can identify.

  • they'll keep it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:07PM (#55582869)
    rename the plant as an experimental facility for radiation testing electro-mechanical systems. Like a wind tunnel but for radiation exposure
    • Re:they'll keep it (Score:4, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@NosPam.world3.net> on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:32PM (#55583013) Homepage Journal

      The idea was to make it possible for the residents of nearby towns to go back. Aside from anything else that is the cheaper option; if people can't go back then they will have to be compensated for everything. Property, businesses, jobs, farms...

      Until the plant is safe that can't happen. There is also the decontamination, which has been going pretty badly. But since legal decisions are making it look like full compensation is the only option anyway you could be right, it might just become a write off. I'm not so sure though, I think national pride will require it to be cleaned up.

  • We need an international effort to resolve this issue. The international community can bring a lot more resources and focus to resolving the issue than TEPCO can.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      Resolve what issue? TEPCO is perfectly capable of handling the local clean up (whether they want to or not is another question..) Of course there's only so much that can be done no matter what resources you have (for example, trying to relocate the reactor core is probably not a thing that will ever happen.. trying to move it would expose the environment to far more radiation than just leaving it where it is and capping it in concrete like they did at Chernobyl.)

      The larger issue of ancient reactors still

  • Info... (Score:5, Informative)

    by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:18PM (#55582927)

    I'll just repost my comment from Gizmodo here, some info to kill some potential myths.

    It’s bad, and it’ll probably take a long time to be solved... ultimately getting to some point similar to Chernobyl. Not in the same scale I mean, but like years from now they’ll just encase the whole thing in concrete and abandon it there because there’s not much else to do.

    Let me tell something about this for people that might be reading and getting a wrong picture out of it, because I also did and just learned recently about some stuff. People should know that for the vast majority of Fukushima prefecture, life remains going like normal. The area affected that people had to evacuate was a radius of around 20 to 30km (12 to 18 miles), which is of course still a lot, but just a small fraction of Fukushima as a whole, which has almost 750 square kms (288 square miles).

    It’s nothing to laugh about, but I think some people imagine something like the entire prefecture, or half of Japan being a radiation infested zone or something. Fukushima is the 20th out of 47 prefectures in terms of population, 3rd in area, the capital city wasn’t affected.

    I was watching a channel that made a tour around major onsen cities in Fukushima, awesome stuff. Radiation wasn’t a concern, even when they went to a coastal city about an hour away from the power plant.

    Again, it’s not to diminish how serious the disaster is, but the thing is, we get a whole lot of reports talking only about the disaster zone, so much that it seems that it’s a huge area that is unlivable. It’s not.

    • Re:Info... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by suutar ( 1860506 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:25PM (#55582965)

      I'm afraid your numbers are off. The prefecture of Fukushima has about 13,750 sq km. 750 is less than the area of that 20km evacuation circle.

      Your point, however, is well taken.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Fukushima had other interesting effects that are hardly ever mentioned.

      The "nuclear renaissance" died that day. It was already looking shaky because of high costs and increasing competition from renewables, but Fukushima really was the death knell. In the short term everything paused while people tried to figure out what went wrong and make sure it couldn't happen again, and in the longer term it caused the focus for clean energy to move elsewhere.

      Japan lost all its nuclear power in one day. All plants offl

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        I'm going to go ahead and disagree with you on that. Sure there was a couple of panic buttons pressed when Fukushima happened, especially in Europe, but at the same time China is constructing a huge number of new plants to meet their ever-growing energy needs without further damaging their environment (barring their own meltdown of course, but I'm going to assume that they're using one of the more modern designs that significantly reduce the possibility of that happening.)

        At the end of the day we still hav

      • Of course given the choice you wouldn't do it that way, but it proved something important. It proved that nuclear was not essential, which greatly strengthened the anti-nuclear movement's arguments.

        If nuclear was not essential then why is Japan building new nuclear power reactors now? They expect to have 20% of their electricity from nuclear by 2030, at least that's what I read on Wikipedia.

        Large nations like the USA, Canada, and Russia, can spread wind and solar power over large tracts of land to avoid localized effects like weather and daylight shifting. Japan is an island nation that is on not so friendly terms with the nations on the nearest large land mass. Their hydro power is limited and wav

        • That is the problem with you americans.
          To (1) dumb to look on a map and not informed about (2) technology that is developed outside of the USA.
          1) Japan is a chain of islands that is about 2000km long. It is impossible that they have not enough wind ... e.g.
          2) Their hydro power is limited and wave power is not a developed energy source yet. Both wrong.

          • I actually wrote a (short, I''ll admit) report in college about the power grid in Japan. They barely have the infrastructure now to keep the north islands connected to the south islands reliably. To get them to produce enough wind AND have this transmitted reliably across their nation would be quite expensive. The north and south divide is actually two separate power grids, one running 50HZ and the other 60HZ.

            This is far from trivial. You can claim that the wind always blows somewhere in Japan but that

          • In fairness, The US has vast amounts of essentially flat space where you can easily build and maintain large solar or wind farms. Japan doesn't have that feature.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          There are no new nuclear plants being built in Japan at the moment. Everything was put on hold in 2011. There was one plant that was due to start construction in 2016 as an extension of an existing one, but it is still paused.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      It’s bad, and it’ll probably take a long time to be solved... ultimately getting to some point similar to Chernobyl.

      They will have to dismantle the reactors.

      Not in the same scale I mean, but like years from now they’ll just encase the whole thing in concrete and abandon it there because there’s not much else to do.

      The main issue is the ground water and the amount of highly radioactive water the site leaks. Encasing the site in concrete will not solve that problem so it has to be dismantled.

      The site continues to leak about 400 tons of highly radioactive water into the Pacific each *day*, that's 876000 tones of radioactive water so far, and climbing.

      Inevitably this accumulates in the food chain so the sooner we resolve the situation the less damage will be done to the human g

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        The Pacific weighs, as a very rough estimate from some Googling, around 7.5x10^17 tons. Your 876000 tons of waste is a bit over one ten billionth of a percent.

        I certainly wouldn't want to eat any local fish from that region (dissipation rates certainly aren't that fast!) but the overall effect outside of that region is minuscule.

      • Inevitably this accumulates in the food chain so the sooner we resolve the situation the less damage will be done to the human genome and our foodchain.

        What elements are producing this radioactivity? As I understand it the largest source, as far as the ground water is concerned anyway, is tritium. Tritium has a half life of 12 years. Tritium is a naturally occurring element, life evolved with it in the environment, so it's not near the risk that other radioactive elements might pose. It exists as heavy water and so it just mixes in the ocean, with all the rest of the heavy water on Earth.

        All the radioactive iodine in the water, which had people freakin

        • As I understand it the largest source, as far as the ground water is concerned anyway, is tritium.
          That shows exactly how dumb you are. You _understand_ nothing about anything that has something to do with "nuclear".
          Tritium ... in a burned down reactor?
          Tritium ... in the ground water?

          Hint: you can look up what Tritium is on Wikipedia. Or in a book about Chemistry.

          All the radioactive iodine in the water, which had people freaking out at the beginning, is effectively gone now.
          Wow ... and how does the Iodine

          • Rather than just mock my ignorance how about you inform me?

            How does the iodine know my ideas? It doesn't know, it tells me. The half life of iodine means all but trace amounts decayed to inert xenon by now. I say "effectively gone" because any radioactive material cannot be said to every be truly gone but it's "effectively gone" because it would take the most sensitive instruments we have to see it's there.

            Go look up tritium on Wikipedia yourself, there's a section on Fukushima there. This tells me you

    • there’s not much else to do.

      They could throw a clean carefully designed H bomb in that area, radiation will be gone.

    • http://fukushimaontheglobe.com... [fukushimaontheglobe.com]

  • by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) <dfenstrate@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:19PM (#55582935)

    Fukushima's site was dug down to make it easier to build. Just up the coast, closer to the epicenter, Onagawa was built higher above the water line, and they even included a basin to maintain an ocean water supply to the safety related pumps for the duration of a tsunami. They escaped the Earthquake and Tsunami largely undamaged. In fact, Onagawa [thebulletin.org] actually served as shelter after the Tsunami.

    • If they had just put the backup generators on higher ground, things would not have been as bad.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The problem is that nuclear plants are so expensive there is great reluctance to shut them down when it becomes apparent that they are not as safe as was originally thought. It's still happening with other plants, where re-examination after the March 2011 disaster has determined that there were previously unknown faults or flood risk in the area.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )
        That's why SONGS was shut down, and they have a lot more fuel in their storage pools that Fukushima does.
  • by LeftCoastThinker ( 4697521 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @06:08PM (#55583171)

    The two questions I have is why was Fukushima still active after 30 plus years? What exactly is the warranty period for nuclear power plants.
      I would love to get a 30 year warranty on my car or phone. I see they are trying to sue GE... Who issued permits in Japan for this plant? Typically responsibility shifts to the operator after power plants are completed and functioning well since regardless of design or workmanship you can easily destroy a power plant through incompetence or insufficient maintenance.

    It is also interesting that the reactor survived the quake it'self but was essentially destroyed by the tsunami.

    There is this concept in liability law called Act of God. The Japan Tsunami qualifies if anything ever did. That event killed 15,894 people in a first world country, and as far as I am aware is the highest death toll event in a first world country in at least 70 years outside of war. The Tsunami wave reached a peak height of 133 feet. That is Biblical level apocalyptic disaster right there.

    • Licensing time in the US is typically 40, often extended to 60 years.

      With expensive items (buildings, factories, trains, aircraft, etc), lifespans of this type are typical.

      • by WoTG ( 610710 )

        IIRC, extended to 60 years, but only after a major refit and re-licensing process.

      • License to operate and expected lifespan I can agree should be long as you describe, but I would be shocked at more than a 5 year warranty period from the builder. Things wear out and in capital equipment especially it is up to the owner to follow the PM schedule or suffer the consequences.

        • but I would be shocked at more than a 5 year warranty period from the builder
          Then be shocked.
          In Europe by law large constructions have a warranty of minimum 30 years.
          A nuclear plant falls in that category. Actually every power plant or bridge does. So does a sea going ship or an air plane.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      The two questions I have is why was Fukushima still active after 30 plus years? What exactly is the warranty period for nuclear power plants.

      TEPCO voided any implied warranty by not operating the installation according to the criteria GE specified. Thus they exposed two Design Basis issues, which created hydrogen and caused the explosions.

      There is this concept in liability law called Act of God. The Japan Tsunami qualifies if anything ever did.

      Not really, the reactor was rated to 600Gal for earthquakes and survived the quake. The operator installed back-up generators where they could be flooded and did not perform the upgrades to the sea wall to protect it from a Tsunami.

      Not an act of God, it's an act of Criminal Negligence by the board of TEPCO

    • The 2004 Tsunami in Asia killed close to 300,000 people, in various countries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      That is Biblical level apocalyptic disaster right there.
      There were higher tsunami in Japan ... in old times they marked the hight with marking stones. It was well known that the walls/dams of Fukushima were below the marks.

    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Monday November 20, 2017 @02:32AM (#55585187)

      If your car or phone was built to the same standards, and had proper maintenance applied throughout its lifetime, it would last a lot longer as well. Of course you would be using a 30-year old car or phone, something you would probably consider to be completely unacceptable: the car uses far too much fuel and doesn't have any modern safety features, and the phone doesn't do any of the things you'd want a phone to do. The same is true for nuclear plants: we have much safer designs now.

      Unfortunately we cannot build them, because of the great success of the anti-nuclear lobby.

      It's a bit of a shame really. If we had continued building nuclear plants we might even have avoided the whole climate change discussion - or we might have been worried about global cooling, and discussing how much CO2 we need to release into the atmosphere to keep the temperature comfortable. But hey, at least the environmentalists won that round...

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