Archive for expectations – Page 2

VIDEO- Rachel Maddow: Flood waters threaten Nebraska nuke plant


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Hugh Kaufman (senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response) asked if the Nebraska situation was Fukushima 2.0, here. When I quoted him, I was accused of being an alarmist... for publishing his question.  I was also called an alarmist when I quoted early news reports calling the Fukushima nuclear disaster "out of control."

Now I'm posting a video of Rachel Maddow, who has genuine concerns about the Nebraska plant. There I go, being all alarmist again.

Of course, I’m sure nobody expected any of these events to happen.

FYI, here is more information from about a week ago.


"Nebraska: Fukushima 2.0?"


See the blog title? Before you accuse me of being an alarmist, the wording is a verbatim quote sent to me by Hugh Kaufman, (senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response), who also linked me to the following article from Business Insider:

A fire in Nebraska's Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant briefly knocked out the cooling process for spent nuclear fuel rods, ProPublica reports. The fire occurred on June 7th.

On June 6th, the Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) issued a directive banning aircraft from entering the airspace within a two-mile radius of the plant. [...]

The plant is reportedly at a stage 4 level of emergency, though the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), which owns and operates the plant, denies this.

So, whether or not this turns out to be as dire as what happened in Japan, it is worrisome to say the very least.

Of course, I'm sure nobody expected this to happen.


Shades of BP: Fukushima tsunami plan a single page.


The Fukushima tsunami plan was, well, inadequate. Ring a bell? US Gulf disaster plan anyone?

Which brings us to this AP exclusive:

Japanese nuclear regulators trusted that the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex were safe from the worst waves an earthquake could muster based on a single-page memo from the plant operator nearly a decade ago.

In the Dec. 19, 2001, document _ one double-sized page obtained by The Associated Press under Japan's public records law _ Tokyo Electric Power Co. rules out the possibility of a tsunami large enough to knock the plant offline and gives scant details to justify this conclusion, which proved to be wildly optimistic. [...]

"This is all we saw," said Masaru Kobayashi, who now heads NISA's quake-safety section. "We did not look into the validity of the content."

How reassuring.

And by reassuring, I mean totally irresponsible.

As you may recall, I had a thing or two to say about a thing or two when it came to "expectations" about earthquakes, both here and in Japan. Here is one more reason why erring on the side of caution matters.

Of course, none of this will cause the Republican majority in the House to take a second look at their attitude about federal regulation. That would ruin their 2012 political talking points, and nothing could possibly be worse than that... including destroying lives.


Time to examine worrisome power boosts at old U.S. nuclear reactors


Here we go again, another controversy, this time over whether "uprating" will lead to a nuclear disaster, or whether it's no cause for concern, because as usual, nobody's "expecting" any problems.

"Uprating" is a way of squeezing more electricity out of existing nuke plants by turning up the power on old reactors, or "pushing aging equipment beyond its original specifications." It expands our nuclear capacity "without the financial risks, public anxiety and political obstacles."

But there's no need to worry.

And thank goodness nobody is experiencing any "public anxiety".

Via the L.A. Times:

The power boosts come from more potent fuel rods in the reactor core and, sometimes, more highly enriched uranium. As a result, the nuclear reactions generate more heat, which boils more water into steam to drive the turbines that make electricity. [...]

In an uprated reactor, more neutrons bombard the core, increasing stress on its steel shell. Core temperatures are higher, lengthening the time to cool it during a shutdown. Water and steam flow at higher pressures, increasing corrosion of pipes, valves and other parts.

But there's no need to worry.

"It's beyond the wit of mankind to identify all challenges to a nuclear plant," said John Large, a former researcher for the British atomic energy agency who runs a consulting company in London specializing in nuclear safety. [...]

"The greatest concern is loose parts that you can't find," John Sieber, a nuclear engineer on the NRC advisory committee, said during a 2004 meeting.

But there's no need to worry.

Nuclear industry officials say that even with uprating, the reactors can easily handle the load. Clearly, they have nothing to gain by saying that, right?  Nah, of course not.

Regulators say they're okay with it, too, just as they are with their current "expectations" that I linked to earlier. After all, who in the world would ever believe California could experience an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 7.0? Impossible!  The San Onofre and Diablo Canyon plants are built to withstand a 7.0 temblor in a state where experts predict an 8.1 from the San Andreas fault.

But there's no need to worry.

Nobody "expects" anything like this to happen, because, you know, it would be such a long shot.

You can find the entire article here.


How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation


I may have mentioned in an earlier post that when news was continuing to break about the Japanese nuclear disaster, I was regularly tweeting about it, quoting news alerts and other various news reports. Several of those reports used the words "out of control", and so that's exactly what I repeated in my posts and/or tweets. I was called out by a few people who said condescending things like, "Why are you panicking? How sad." I wasn't, I was passing on what I heard.

Several people tried their best to convince me how far nuclear power has come, and even compared it to coal and oil in an effort to prove its effectiveness, reliability and safety.

My response was that they were all pretty bad, and the severity of the pollution from coal and oil does nothing to lessen that of a nuclear accident or the problems associated with storing nuclear waste.

When I referred to comparisons to Chernobyl, I was ridiculed. At times all of this was amusing, at other times infuriating.

At one point, I was followed on Twitter by the Nuclear Energy Institute, receiving tweet after tweet challenging my views, trying to convince me to change my mind. It didn't work.

I continue to post about the resulting radiation and about lax safety measures at the power plants, including the two here in California; I live in the L.A. area, between them.

I wish I had seen this article from the Guardian before now, but it wasn't published until April 11:

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow's meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term "acceptable levels of external radiation" in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation's hazards. [...]

[A]s the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual's risk of developing cancer. [...]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment", published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion.... 980,000.

There is a whole lot more here. Please read it all.

By the way, I'm still not panicked, just very concerned.

And I haven't heard a peep out of all those critics since it has been confirmed how "out of control" the situation got... not an apology, not a retraction, not an acknowledgment, not a hint of a whisper of a word. Then again, I didn't expect one.

More TPC posts on this topic here.


Japan Reportedly to Raise Nuclear Alert to Highest Level, Equal to Chernobyl


UPDATE, via @Plutoniumpage: This is a handy guide to what this all means. But as our pal VNDNBRG notes, "Chernobyl had only 1 reactor- Fukushima has 4 with problems-scale is worthless in this situation."

Original post:

Rachel Maddow just reported that Japan's official announcement about this is expected to come tomorrow morning.

Via Fox (and an AP email alert):

TOKYO -- News reports say Japan has decided to raise the severity level of the crisis at its tsunami-stricken nuclear power plant to 7 -- the highest level and equal to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.

Nuclear energy! It's safe! It's clean! It's modern! Tell your friends!

Paddy added this in a separate post, which I'm combining with this one. We managed to simultaneously post the same thing:

Quoting sources at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK both said Tuesday (Monday in Hawaii) that NISA would raise the severity level of the nuclear radiation disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to 7 from the current 5.


Japan says it may take months to end radiation leaks


"We have not escaped from a crisis situation," says a Japanese lawmaker. I'd file that under "stating the obvious":

TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) - Japan's government warned on Sunday it may take months to stop radiation leaking from a nuclear plant crippled by a huge earthquake and tsunami three weeks ago, as more bodies were recovered in devastated areas of northeast Japan. [...]

Japan's crisis has rocked the nuclear industry and the European Union said on Sunday it will affect the fight against climate change as energy policies are reviewed. [ID:nL3E7F3049]

Germany and Switzerland have said they will shut older reactors or suspend approvals, China has suspended approvals for new plants, and Taiwan is studying cutting nuclear output. [...]

Japan's health ministry said on Sunday it had detected radioactive substances higher than legal limits in mushrooms from Iwaki in Fukushima, said Kyodo. [...]

Milk and other staples like mushrooms and berries are still contaminated in parts of Ukraine by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, 25 years after the world's worst nuclear disaster, Greenpeace said on Sunday.

Of course, none of this was "expected" to happen.