Mar 14, 2011

Nuclear myths erupt in Japan

It has taken less than three days for Japan's notoriously dishonest and evasive nuclear industry to concede the seriousness of the crisis affecting its nuclear power plants, including the "fail safe" cooling process which was a risk analysis bet gone wrong.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

It has taken less than three days for Japan’s notoriously dishonest and evasive nuclear industry to concede the seriousness of the crisis affecting the Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini plants NE of Tokyo with six and four reactors respectively. But the ferocious debate over nuclear power that has erupted in the media outside Japan is completely missing several key points.

The first is the failures of “fail safe” cooling processes at each plant is a risk analysis bet gone wrong by Japan’s nuclear power regulators and the Fukushima plant owner Tokyo Electric. And secondly, the calamities unfolding at the nuclear plants will not kill anything like the 10,000 or perhaps far more people now officially believed to have died in the massive tsunami that ravaged low lying areas of Honshu’s northern Pacific coast on Friday afternoon after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred near Sendai at 2.46pm local time.

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121 thoughts on “Nuclear myths erupt in Japan

  1. Tom McLoughlin

    Even so, Ben, the extensive wikipedia entry on the hard fought analysis of the Chernobyl legacy is very revealing how political this area is. Apparently in 2009 the UK govt were still testing for radiocativity in some very isolated farms 23 years after. That in itself is scary and a warning to primary producers here.

    This might sound lame, but I like eating Aldi chocolates but since I heard rumours – right or wrong – about bushfire release of contamination around Chernobyl in the northern summer, I’ve been a bit more careful of my diary products.

    Also there is hot debate over how many thousands were hurt afterwards including the “liquidators” in their thousands, who cleaned up.

    And to hear Andrew Bolt’s emotionalism on Sunday in the face of obvious trauma of Chernobyl appalling. Obviously his editors thought differently leading with the issue today.

    There was a study of childhood cancers before and after closure of the reactors in New York State and the results were not very encouraging. The rates dropped after the closures. Mmm. One can expect similar studies to follow in Japan before and after Fukishima.

  2. Sir Lunchalot

    It could put clean nuclear power back a bit.

  3. shepherdmarilyn

    Look closer to home. Maralinga will never be safe.

  4. Captain Planet

    Awful as the Fukushima incident is rapidly becoming, hopefully it will act as a timely deterrent to all those who have been duped over the last decade or so, by nuclear industry propoganda.

    In direct contrast to those who parrot the official nuclear industry line about countries in Europe “reverting to nuclear” or constructing new nuclear plants, tens of thousands of protesters in Germany on Saturday formed a human chain 45 kilometres in length, protesting about their governments recent ill – advised decision to prolong the lives of their 40+ year of nuclear reactors for a few more years.

    The 17 nuclear power plants in Germany are scheduled for decommissioning, and it would appear that the German people, wisely, want to see this happen sooner rather than later.

    The real problem is that Nuclear power plants have only been in commercial existence for a bit over 50 years, and in most cases, after a spate of construction activity in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the rate of installation of nuclear power facilities has been virtually nil for decades. Consequently the world has a large and very old fleet of nuclear power plants due for retirement, and precious little by way of expertise, planning or long term funding, for the very expensive, hazardous and very little understood process of shutting the aging beasts down.

  5. Steven McKiernan

    Monte Bello Islands will never be safe.

    Ask yourself this, would you live next door to a nuclear power plant? Would you live next door to a coal fired power station? Would you install solar panels and also make changes in how you consume electricity?

  6. zut alors

    ‘…Japan’s notoriously dishonest and evasive nuclear industry…’

    My guess is that Japan is not unique.

  7. Sir Lunchalot

    @ Steven McKiernan

    I have solar panels, lots of them, and I am ruthless on saving power and cutting waste.

    But solar power is a drop in the ocean. It provide power on certain days at certain times, but during the peak load times of 6pm – 8pm and 4pm – 8pm in winter it does not.

    The answer is only nuclear. We have a big country with a vast desert, we have lot of space for these plans, in areas safe from earthquate and tsunami’s.

  8. shepherdmarilyn

    Lunch, what is the point of nuclear plants in the desert when they need millions of litres a day of water?

    Hionestly people like you talk the most insane crap.

  9. Sir Lunchalot

    @ Marilyn

    We have pipes carrying water, they are not new, the Romans invented them.

    There are vast expanses of area in Australia, that are not inhabited, that are close to water and a long way from population centres and close enough to RAAF bases for security.

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