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Thread: Fukushima: Chernobyl Redux?

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    Fukushima: Chernobyl Redux?

    Excerpted from “Fukushima: Chernobyl Redux?” Posted by EBEN HARRELL, “Ecocentric: A blog about all things green, from conservation to Capitol Hill,” TIME, Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 11:38 am
    Shan Nair is a British nuclear safety expert who was part of a panel that advised the European Commission on its response to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. For almost twenty years, he worked within the UK nuclear industry for Britain's national energy supply company analyzing both waste arising from spent nuclear fuel and also the consequences of what are called LOCAs--Loss of Coolant Accidents, which is precisely what officials are battling against at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Northern Japan. I spoke to Nair by phone to learn his thoughts on the incident.

    Ecocentric: In the aftermath of Chernobyl, Europe faced a radioactive cloud that drifted over the continent. Is that your concern here?

    I do not think that a Chernobyl-style cloud is the biggest concern. My main concern is contamination of the water table. If the entire fuel has melted the odds are it will go straight through the pressure vessel and therefore through the ground until it gets to the water table. Then it will cool down, but the problem is that the water table will start leaching actinides and fission products from the melted glob of fuel into the environment. So you will end up with some radioactive contamination of water supplies and ultimately crops and other products. That's a major problem because radioactive particles are much more dangerous when digested—they cause internal irradiation of organs with resulting increased cancer risks. …
    Interesting read.
    “Real environmentalists live in cities, and they visit what's left of the wilderness as gently and respectfully as possible.” — Donna Moulton, letter to the editor, Tucson Weekly, published on August 23, 2001

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    Re: Fukushima: Chernobyl Redux?

    We are still a bit short of the Chernobyl example and there is some hope. All we can do is pray is doesn't happen because it will permit those who don't know that this type of incident is now not possible with the new technology available today, to go nuts with protests etc.

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    Re: Fukushima: Chernobyl Redux?

    Chernobyl had graphite walls and no containment dome; which mean that the building was combustible and not built to sustain a meltdown event. The Daichi Plants are not graphite, and have containment domes that have thus far exceeded their engineering specs. My worries are:

    1. reactor 4 had it's rods not in the main reactor chamber, but in the cooling pool itself; which the NRC now says is empty. TEPCO swears it's not, but TEPCO also has a long and now documented history of lying to put a good face on things. Cooling pools have no containment dome, so while the rods remain inside the building (and thus under the larger dome), if they go into a meltdown, there is alot of damage they can do on their way down. furthermore, the US is now saying that reactor 4's pool is breached, and all the water that they have been pumping in there has simply been filtering away. the two possibilities for this are A) the earthquake, as reactor 4 hasn't had a hydrogen explosion or B) those rods have already started to melt their way through. obviously B is the very bad scenario.

    2. TEPCO and the Japanese government seem to have hung their hopes on this plan for bringing the reactors back onto the grid and getting their internal, closed, coolant systems back up and running. they don't seem to have adapted this idea to deal with potential breaches in the coolant or condension pool structures (NRC says 3 and 4 are breached), nor am i seeing any indications that they have given much thought to the fact that they have been pumping massive amounts of seawater and boric acid into this 'closed' system.... and that dehydrated sea water leaves behind salt and all other manner of corrosive elements. the rush to bring the plants coolant systems back online could easily break them further, causing the long-term solution to this problem to be much worse. It's also worth noting that the success of the "just hook in an extension cord" idea is dependent upon - among other things - these plants' electrical systems having sustained no major damage from a 9.0 earthquake, a Tsunami, partial core meltdown, and multiple hydrogen explosions. I'm just saying, that may be a bit of a bridge too far.

    3. The winds shift on Sunday here; and will begin to push that radiation West. light levels will be falling into the main Tokyo urban area; and the terrain to the west of those reactors is mountainous. that means once the radiation is blown in, it sinks into the valleys (especially if it rains, which it very well might), and it can't blow back out. up until this point the plume has been getting pushed out to sea; starting tomorrow it get's pushed onto hundreds of thousands of homeless, exposed, starving, dehydrated civilians.

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    Re: Fukushima: Chernobyl Redux?

    Dirty little secret, Fukushima #3 is a plutonium breeder plant.

    That's the reason why they are talking a containment dome.
    Climate, changes. It takes a particularly uneducated population to buy into the idea that it's their fault climate is changing and further political solutions can fix it.



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