Monday, March 21, 2011

Fukushima crisis is over

The electric utility company managed to connect all six reactors in Fukushima to the grid, so they may cool the reactors under business as usual. The crisis is clearly over. Bombing of the power plant by concrete, as proposed by Michio Kaku, wasn't really needed.

I don't claim that such a step would be unimaginable; under certain circumstances, it could even be the best solution. However, the idea that it was needed was an artifact of the hysteria in the media rather than a sane appraisal of the options. As I predicted, the power lines were connected within a day or two and they helped to eliminate the crisis almost immediately.

I say it despite the fact that the radiation in Tokyo has increased from 17 CPM to something slightly above 20 CPM as the winds became less favorable for Tokyo. Some food could have been contaminated - Japanese readers are strongly advised to buy imported food for some time - but the negative trend of the threat level is obvious.

The Japanese people have reacted calmly to the effects caused by the earthquake because they have been trained by intelligent games such as the game above.

The tsunami has made a far more devastating impact on the land of the rising Sun. Gene has estimated that in 2 years, the fatalities from the tsunami will be between 50,000 and 60,000 while the fatalities from radiation will be strictly zero. It's a bold claim that Gene has offered but so far, the first figure is unfortunately getting closer to his estimate while the second figure remains strictly zero, indeed.

I think it's remarkable that an unexpectedly huge earthquake and tsunami in a land filled with the nuclear reactors doesn't kill even 1/10,000 of the people who are killed directly, even though many things went wrong in Fukushima. If we should learn a lesson here, it's that nuclear energy is de facto safe even under extreme circumstances.


  1. I've read it here. When will I read it in the press?

  2. Well, there were some people that were killed at those plants, but they were killed for the same reasons as they would be at other plants. Explosions, mainly. None by radiation, though I've heard that a few got some exposure. How are they doing?

    I've been reading a few things recently that say that low level background radiation is good for us. I don't expect that will get much media play.

    As far as safety goes, isn't it true that the safety standards for nuke plants tend to be far higher than for other plants, just because of the fear of the radiation?

  3. all so self evident. But feynman realised years ago that we live in world of superstition and mythology. That isn't going to change any time soon

  4. Wow, you really crossed a line with this one. Totally misguided and premature. Of course Fukushima isn't "over". Look what happened yesterday. Rising levels of radiation dozens of miles away. Used MOX (incl. plutonium) tanks in fire at Reactor 3, and what little water is left is boiling away at an accelerating pace. Have you even taken a look at the pictures ?? Do you think there are still working pumps and sensors to be salvaged in reactor 3 ? You must be joking, right. The crisis is not over, and it won't be for years, and years to come. For an Eastern European man, you could have spent a little more than 5 minutes studying long and far-raging consequences of thre Tchernobyl disaster for inhabitants of Ukraine and Belarus, for example, even hundreds of miles away from the plan. Children are born deformed and mentally ill in incredibly high proportions. Certain kinds of cancers have gone through the roof. What a careful examination of history has told us, is that a nuclear crisis such as this, with radiation being continuously released over days and days, is NEVER over. People will suffer because of this.

    Oh, and btw, nuclear hermosis has been properly debunked by numerous physicists and doctors, Greg. And it has gotten "quality airtime" very recently with Ann Coulter @ the O'Reilly Show on Fox News. Are you happy ?

    This is just vile propaganda.

  5. Thanks, Harlow, well, some press does cover the Fukushima events fairly. I would even say that it's the case of most of the press in my country.

    Right, Greg, one must be careful to distinguish the fatalities that actually have something to do with the adjective "nuclear", and they remain very small. All those cases are being re-painted and overhyped - and the driving force is an irrational fear of the "invisible". However, using tools of science, nuclear energy is not really "invisible". It's as real as any other form of energy.

    Dear Vlad, come on, don't be silly with this hysterical screaming. Yes, I watch what's happening in Fukushima every day, and have seen hundreds of pictures and dozens of videos, too. It would be OK to call some of those things "local crisis" but none of those things over there have ever been a global crisis. To talk about a crisis that will "last for years" is just absurd.

    Yes, I've seen some birth defects from Chernobyl etc. and many of them were very hard things to watch. Still, it wasn't a global catastrophe by any stretch of imagination. It was an event that has affected the health at most of tens of thousands of people. I think that the most trustworthy international estimates talk about 4,000 indirect deaths due to Chernobyl but even if it were 50,000, it wouldn't be a global crisis.

    Fukushima has so far been a smaller accident by several orders of magnitude - in fact, it seems that there's not a single fatality at this point (compare with the 20,000 likely tsunami deaths) - and I think that one must be a complete denier not to take notice.

    OK, you may define a crisis so that it will be here for years, it will effectively never go away. Then the word "crisis" in the way in which you use it is totally vacuous and shouldn't be paid any attention to.

    I don't think that there's any research that *disproves* nuclear hermosis. That doesn't mean that I claim it has been proved to be right. However, it's a question about very rare phenomena that are very hard to measure and establish and chances are that it will remain a matter of beliefs for quite some time. As I like to emphasize, the evaluation of hermosis may be different among the original population and the surviving one - for the surviving one, I am ready to believe that the effect of low-dose radiation may be positive.


  6. I've been an avid reader of your blog, especially on the topic of the CO2-induced AGW scam. I'm no greenie. But your coverage of this event has been a thorough disappointment. It seems you don't buy Al Gore and friends' Kool-Aid, but you have no problem believing everything a crooked company, that has been pinned multiple times for falsifying safety reports, and a panicked government will say. What does this tell about you ?

    I'm also surprised, and thoroughly disappointed by your refusal to publish my (second)critical, but respectful comment. Considering today's events (including heavy black smoke, a new alert and withdrawal of emergency personel because of heavy black smoke, a neutron emission, and substantial amounts of Iodine 131 in Tokyo tap water), You are still very wrong. It looks like the "return of electrical power" was no solution after all. As a scientist, it should have been obvious that bringin back LIGHT in the control room would not necessarily contribute to getting the core and spent fuel pools under control. It's still time to withdraw this ridiculous article, and admit the Fukushima crisis is far from over.

    By keeping on this line, you are discrediting everything you wrote before, and you only end up looking like an anti-greenie ideologue. Are you ?

  7. Dear Vlad, apologies, but you are encouraged to never read this blog again if you feel about your anti-nuclear zeal as strongly as you apparently do. I am sure that your presence would lead to problems in the future.

    I have no idea what "company" you're talking about - in the very same way as obsessed far-left anti-corporate green mujahideens. Nuclear energy is not one company. Nuclear energy is one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century physics and a discovery with some of the most far-reaching applications. It's no trick.

    Here in the Czech Republic, I am actually getting 1/3 of my electricity from the nuclei, believe it or not. It's been working like this for decades and it's been safe. There hasn't ever been any security issue threatening a broader public and there won't be one in the future, either.

    Even in the nightmare scenario of Fukushima, there have been essentially no serious problems and as far as I know, there is not a single fatality at this point - an amazing comparison given the 10,000+ casualties of the tsunami.

    Your desire to sell a smoke in a building as a reason for the world to abandon the second most important source of electricity is just a sign of irrationality that has run amok.

    Well, I am undoubtedly anti-green-ideology but this fact - that I am surely not going to be ashamed of - has nothing to do with any particular company. The reason is that the green ideology is a pack of lies and those who genuinely believe it are brainwashed simpletons, and please feel free to take this remark personally because it's unlikely that after what you wrote here, I may change my opinion about you sometime in the future.

    What you have presented is the same kind of anti-industrial and anti-corporate hysteria that the green nuts are offering us every day. These emotional feces can't change the fact that nuclear energy is a great scientific and technological achievement and an important and a relatively safe energy source; and that nicely functioning projects are usually realized by corporations that want to maximize the profit.

    If you don't understand these points, then you misunderstand either the modern technological world, or capitalism, or both. At any rate, I think that it's too bad.