This has to be the worst possible way of sharing information; a video of 2 still images and a computer voice reading a text.
Right up there with images inside a word document, inside an email.
Some were CC text from CNN articles with random "war pictures". It was surreal - like a badly done brainwashing video. It had the eerie qualities of belonging as perverse art exhibit.
I have also seen these in "alt"/neonazi/kkk politics channels. There's not much worse than showing pictures of the KKK and black people while a robotic voice throws curse words and racial epithets. There isn't much else to say other than "WAT?"
How much of this decision is simply about space? Russia is the largest country by area, with 21 people per square mile, while Japan is much smaller, with 873 people per square mile. If you compare GDP/area the difference is even greater.
Fundamentally, Chernobyl is a much larger (order of magnitude) event with 6 tons of radioactive material burned and released. Frankly, for all the coverage Fukushima gets, it's amazing that you rarely hear about the associated tsunami and the damage it caused... 22k direct casualties with 2.5k still missing, 230k people still displaced in 2015 with ~400k structures destroyed.
The displacement is mostly due to radioactive contamination still being high in several zones around Fukushima.
The tsunami was a huge catastrophe but it's over. There is no breaking news to get coverage.
Fukushima on the other hand is an ongoing disaster producing news from time to time which, naturally, get coverage.
Sendai is some 50km away from Fukushima and the population center is well outside the evacuation area. Tamura and Minamisoma are the only cities within it.
The tsunami destroyed 400k structures and decimated Sendai, which (note that the figures in the linked article are in 10s of people and structures as indicated at the top of the figures). Some 300k people and 100k homes were within the inundation, ~25% of the local population.
In the Fukushima evacuation area the majority of the surface is less than 4x background radition ~1uSv/hr. In discussing an ongoing disaster please look at this video:
It's certainly true that the Soviets, and after them Belarus and Ukraine, did/do use the "just leave it alone" strategy for part of their Chernobyl response. But it's by no means the whole story.
Don't insult people with ignorance.
If you want a better analogy, it's like referring to Massachusetts as England when discussing colonial America. Semi-accurate at the time, main difference being Massachusetts was part of the British Empire along with England, but was not actually owned by England itself. The fact that there was a long and bloody war that followed between the two doesn't change that mostly-accurate history.
Yes, Ukraine wasn't part of Russia. But it was part of the USSR, which split into several countries, the most powerful and influential of them being Russia. It's a colloquialism just as much as it is an inaccurate statement.
I’m not appreciating the situation, but let’s not fall into Evil Axis delusions.
“I’ve been a robotic engineer for 30 years, and we’ve never faced anything as hard as this,” said Shinji Kawatsuma, director of research and development at the center. “This is a divine mission for Japan’s robot engineers.”
That is so cool. I'd love to see some kind of "lessons learned" summary from the robotics people.
I’m sure as they learn techniques and technology for building these robots it will progress quicker. A small robot with a camera is the first step.
Besides the Fukushima and Chernobyl type issues with organizations skimping on design, there's still an outstanding problem of nuclear waste storage. The current nuclear power statistics haven't factored in a major waste storage incident because one hasn't happened yet. Until we've witnessed multiple lifecycles of nuclear fuel consumption to full waste breakdown, the safety stats could still swing against nuclear power. Maybe all it'd take is a terrorist incident involving nuclear waste. From what I understand, breeder reactors can vastly reduce the quantity of a power plant's waste and produce waste with a much shorter half life. This isn't widely implemented or shared because that technology can also be used to produce weapons grade material. I think humanity will be ready if/when we can sort out our differences without violence and greed/corruption are no longer problems for most large orgs.
Additionally, renewables seem to have better scalability today than they did in the 90's when I formed my initial opinions. Right now, the worst case situation with a renewable power source is probably a large dam bursting. That's certainly possible due to corruption or terrorism too. If the three gorges dam suddenly burst, that could take out most of Shanghai. For most other renewables, the potential worst case is much milder though.
There are so many radiologic sources out there, used for many purposes (medicine, gammagraphy), very dangerous but taken with much less care than nuclear wastes from the nuclear power industry. Stuff like this  happen all the time …
 (in French) https://www.asn.fr/Controler/Actualites-du-controle/Avis-d-i...
I kinda agree with your point: terrorists already have considerable access, theoretically, to radioactive materials. In fact, the materials used for medicine and science are in many ways much more dangerous from a public health perspective given their short, energetic half-lives.
The only substantial, long-term danger from terrorists is to the financial viability of nuclear power. Nobody cares about incidents like the above. But if it were tied to terrorism somehow it would be all over the news and nuclear stocks would plummet. Similarly, for a terrorist incident involving medical use even anti-nuclear activists would have more nuanced reactions, whereas if it involved nuclear power such an incident would herald the end of the world.
The terrorists won't do a better job of slandering fission than the oil & gas companies have done, and nuclear facilities and fuel storage make horrible terrorist targets. The facilities are explosion hardened by design, and spent fuel is essentially rocks. It would take a lot of work and explosives to make a weak, uninteresting, highly traceable, not too dangerous "dirty bomb". That requires supplies generally unavailable to terrorist cells, much less cells inside a nuclear nation. It also requires hazardous materials training and technical skills generally unavailable to terrorist organizations, much less embedded in a target area.
As has been the case for decades: the largest genuine threat from an action like that would be panic, and overreaction, from a riled up and ignorant population.
As for your dam bursting scenario, something like that actually happened in the 70s when the Banqiao Dam burst. Nearly 200.000 people died. Fukushima had 0 radiation deaths.
Dams do have the potential for massive loss of life as you say, and they also suffer from the problem of massive centralisation of capacity (unlike e.g. solar or wind). On the smaller upside, the models related to fatalities are pretty well understood.
Perhaps an instant move away from nuclear may need coal, although here in the UK it's gas that has been taking up the slack while the government dilly-dally on whether to build out new nuclear or invest in renewables research (successfully doing neither).
I see over the longer term renewables coming up as nuclear is naturally retired at the end of the current plant's lifespan. Solar is now cheaper than coal to built-out in many places, there are other impediments but (generally) lack of public support isn't one of them (compared to coal/nuclear).
Besides, I'm pretty sure you just copied the argument about low level exposure from the Fukushima disaster wikipedia page, but you conveniently left out the next sentence: "given the uncertain health effects of low-dose radiation, cancer deaths cannot be ruled out. However, no discernible increase in the rate of cancer deaths is expected."
Scare-mongering about nuclear radiation doesn't help anybody but the coal and gas industry.
I'm afraid you were wrong to be "pretty sure" that I copied the argument from Wikipedia, I haven't read that page (until you pointed it out now). My comment comes from what I've picked up working for 10 years in epidemiology at Oxford. I didn't "conveniently" leave out the next sentence, and I wouldn't have quoted it anyway as its effectively tosh. There is no discernible increase expected on current models, but the current models are accepted (by most experts) not be useful predictors, as described in my initial post.
It's not "scare-mongering", it's being open to scientific discussion and exploration. Blind-adherence to your view-point doesn't help anyone but the nuclear industry.
Let's have open and honest debate. Even when that means we say "we don't know".
I think making that statement or even the comparison to other types of disasters is a little disingenuous. With most disasters they happen and then they're over in very short order. A nuclear disaster is very slow to unfold and the deaths from radiation related illnesses are not yet fully realized for quite some time.
The Chernobyl disaster is still unfolding and even with the latest containment, NSC, having been installed. It will take hundreds of years before we're done with it.
Is it not possible for us to build out renewable energy on a large scale? My impression was that we're reaching points where it's very cost effective to do so.
When the contaminates reach the Columbia River, every where downstream becomes uninhabitable. eg Portland OR.
Fukushima was built when the nuclear power industry was 13 years old. Now it's 63 years old.
You are seeing the folly of youth, with consequences delayed 60 years, not a design that would be typical of new construction.
A great article about another plant, closer to the epicenter, owned by another company that did things right.
It breaks my heart that these guys also have to be in a shutdown state. TEPCO should be forced to hand over all undamaged nuclear plants and responsibility (minus financial) to this company.
If any, I'd guess this correlation to be negative vs. the general population
Sure the design could've been better; However by your logic they had 50 years to take extra safety pre-cautions and improve the structure.
In-fact, it still absolutely amazes me it was even running at the time of the disaster and built on a coast in a country notorious for Tsunamis.
The key question is: Who would have paid for it?
Once running, much of the structure is considered to be radioactive. Work in active radioactive areas is expensive and time consuming. Without shutting down the reactor entirely followed by an expensive cleanup, doing major structure upgrades to the reactor chambers is virtually impossible.
They also couldn't just decommission it once they realized their errors and rebuilt another one somewhere else - again the costs would have been astronomical.
People are terrible at managing (what was then) theoretical risks. If you can't convince people and companies to move out of proven high-risk earthquake areas, imagine trying to convince tax payers to pay billions to upgrade or move a functional-but-theoretically-vulnerable power station.
The disaster could have been prevented by the simple expedient of elevating the backup generators, or putting them in flood-resistant bunkers. Cheap.
The actual tradeoff would have been not just this one mitigation, but all the mitigations for all the equally probable risks. Including all the assessments to find out what those risks would have been.
Unfortunately, given I have only second-hand knowledge of these reports' existence, and given they are probably not in my native tongue, I'm not really in a position to validate what the situation was vis a vis the generators. However, generators positioned on the coast, behind a low seawall, in a country that is regularly inundated by tsunamis, appears to be an entirely predictable failure mode. Not quite to the degree of not bringing a parachute on a skydive, but in that direction.
It's like in New Orleans, where the emergency generators were located in the basements below sea level. There's nothing subtle about that. Sorry, but how daft can one get?
I disagree. Failure analysis does not start with "assume the seawall will never fail." It starts with "assume the seawall fails. What are the consequences?"
Given the location of those generators, it was obvious that a breach would take out CRITICAL generators, and it would have been cheap to remove that vulnerability.
Another cheap remedy would have moved the hydrogen vent pipe to vent outside, rather than INSIDE AN ENCLOSED SPACE FILLED WITH SPARKING ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT.
Every industry makes severe mistakes early on and eventually irons them out with time. Are you arguing that's not the case?
> However by your logic they had 50 years to take extra safety pre-cautions and improve the structure.
Economically retrofitting an old reactor with safety mechanisms is a much more challenging task than designing new reactors correctly. The industry quickly learned how to build reactors that could handle neglect and abuse, but by then the reactors under the ground were out of their control, and were essentially ticking time-bombs. Everyone in the industry knew it. The IAEA had been complaining about ancient, unsafe reactor designs in the ring of fire for decades when Fukushima happened. So it goes.
Given that they already knew this could happen when they built it, what could you plausibly claim has been learned?
There’s nothing very complicated about the EDG buses that supply safety-system components.
Upgrades to such systems, including flex interfaces, has occurred across the US fleet in the years following Fukushima, while exactly zero new reactors have been designed and built.
Sure, there are better designs for EDG siting and support system integration. This is completely besides the point. The point is, even moving the whole safety support system kilometers away is cheaper than designing a new reactor, which I think should be a pretty uncontroversial statement to engineers familiar with the complexity of license approval for power reactors.
Not only scientists but the whole humanity is acting like "naive teenagers" here.
I'm sure they can prevent the concrete from cracking in an earthquake.
But not sure this really points to lack of caution?
Personally, I think we need low carbon power sources, but emotionally (irrationally?) nuclear fission always feels like "apes toying with God's fire"
Regarding the radiation, I think you've fallen victim to ignorance of basic facts about the nature of radiation and the oceans. Pretty much anywhere in the Pacific, radiation from Fukushima quickly dropped far below environmental background levels .
1 - http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=127297
Here's a good quote from the source above: "The highest levels of cesium (10 Bq/m3) attributable to Fukushima that we have measured were found 1,500 miles north of Hawaii. Swimming every day in the ocean there would still result in a dose 1,000 time smaller than the radiation we receive with a single dental x-ray."
On a related note, I live in Chiba, which is a fair distance south of Fukushima. The rain and wind drove the radiation into my area after the accident. I still have interesting radiation readings in my rain gutters and spouts.
Contamination isn't as dramatic as you'd think, it's mostly superficial : you have radioactive dust sticking on the robot, and you "just" need to wash it thoroughly to remove the contamination.
People usually have a wrong vision of radioactive contamination : they think being exposed to radiations makes you radioactive in return. In fact, it doesn't : being exposed to a radioactive material (which means you get struck by gamma rays, alpha and/or beta particles) doesn't make you radioactive. You can get contaminated with radioactive dust (which is a real problem if you ingest or inhale it, since it's hard to wash there) but you don't become radioactive yourself.
The mistake didn't appear out of nowhere though : things exposed to neutrons becomes radioactive (they become activated) and neutrons are emitted by nuclear fission, which occur in a exploding atomic bomb or a working nuclear plant. But when the plant shuts down, the chain reaction stops and so does the neutron emission. All that remain is radioactivity, as fission products keep decaying.
That being said, in practice I'm not sure the electronics in the robot is in a good enough shape to be used again …
More info on MAL here: https://myanimelist.net/manga/61341/1F__Fukushima_Daiichi_Ge...
Was this a thing people were doing? Going to a nuclear disaster site as part of a game?
Source. Went through Japan playing Pokemon Go.. saw many many Japanese people playing Pokemon Go. And signs.. signs with Pokemon everywhere.
reminds us that nuclear kills much less than regular earthquakes, car accidents, or air pollution due to the burning of fossil fuels...
Just for reference, the number of people worldwide who died due to contamination from atmospheric atom bomb testing is estimated to be 430 000 by the end of last century:
"Radioactive Heaven and Earth, The health and environmental effects of nuclear weapons testing in, on, and above the earth", pages 163-165
Those were also tests where the escape of massive amounts of radiation into the environment was a planned, even if indirectly, effect.
Also, as a sibling comment said, that numb is probably overstated by a large amount.
The point is that it remained contained... that's good. With prpoer monitor wells even the ground water need not be badly contaminated.
Personnel had an insufficiently detailed understanding of technical procedures involved with the nuclear reactor, and knowingly ignored regulations to speed test completion
And a Japanese reactor that didn't melt down:
Before beginning construction, Tohoku Electric conducted surveys and simulations aimed at predicting tsunami levels. The initial predictions showed that tsunamis in the region historically had an average height of about 3 meters. Based on that, the company constructed its plant at 14.7 meters above sea level, almost five times that height. As more research was done, the estimated tsunami levels climbed higher, and Tohoku Electric conducted periodic checkups based on the new estimate.
There's just no good reason for either Chernobyl or Fukushima. Both were preventable by following simple safety procedures.
Yes, and rightly so. Engineers must design around human fallibility. They don't get to blame human error and claim the whole system is otherwise perfectly safe. Either the system is safe under conditions of human fallibility, or it is unsafe.
>> There's just no good reason for either Chernobyl or Fukushima
Of course there is reason. Humans are part of the system and a relatively weak part at that.
Politicians' influence wanes, while engineers' waxes.
Stupid comment. Would you relocated near Fukushima or Chernobyl? Maybe you should. You would educate yourself and change your mind. And you would have to life with the related health issues. (The same for evil greedy owners of such energy companies)
Estimates on the number of deaths related to coal generation vary from around 13,00 to 30,000 per year in the US  and 500,000 per year in China . The current world population is 7.6 billion, of which the US and China account for approximately 1.8 billion people. Let's round the coal-related death rate way down for easy math: 10,000 per year in the US and 100,000 per year in China. Then, multiply that rate by the world's population, and you have, let's say 450,000 coal-related deaths per year worldwide. This is a really squishy number, but we only need approximations here.
You were concerned about how many people would die every hundred years from nuclear disasters, so let's see if we can work today's 450,000 per year estimated deaths backwards for the last hundred years.
The world population was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.8 billion people in 1917. Assuming linear growth (I know, I know) and a strong r-value correlation for population vs. coal-related deaths (arguable, but again, Fermi estimate), we have to sum .00006 * population from 1.8 billion -> 7.6 billion, and we end up with approximately 28 million people.
Which is to say, if we could gather up all the deaths, worldwide, from coal, over the last hundred years, and convert it into a single disaster, it would kill the entire city of Shanghai, and New York for the apple on top.
That would have to be one hell of a nuclear disaster.
Now, there are arguments to be made that the energy we've received from coal has also powered hospitals and technology which have saved or improved people's lives. There are also arguments to be made that the side-effects of coal (hospitalization, environmental disasters) cause the death toll to absolutely pale by comparison.
And again, I've rounded these numbers down at every stage of the calculation.
: http://www.catf.us/resources/publications/files/The_Toll_fro... [pdf]; it includes its own numbers, at the 13,000 estimate, and the EPA's, at 14,000 to 36,000 range.
: https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-ener... (blog, but includes lots of supporting links; I'm open to alternative sources that give vastly different estimates).
Even ignoring renewables, gas solves many of the worst problems with coal.
In a world in which we must choose the lesser of evils for energy, nuclear is among the least evils, yet faces the greatest overall public resistance to new installations.
I'd also note that the very low rates of death from nuclear power do not appear to include construction deaths, which are the only source of death measured from wind and solar.
the difference here is that no event can significantly change the death rate from gas or solar whereis one wrong cough by nuclear power plant worker and we have Chernobyl with thousands of deaths (in particular in Belarus which took the majority of the Chernobyl hit - about 5000 extra thyroid cancer cases (normally a rare cancer) in the people who were children at the time plus doubling (and in some areas tripling) of the rate of the most frequent cancer - breast cancer (typically 1 in 7 women would get it during lifetime, so doubling means additional 15% of all the women in the affected area would get it) in the areas close to Chernobyl like the Gomel and Mogilev regions plus very significant increase in other frequent cancers of internal organs like colon,etc.)
Or counting it the other way - Russia and Ukraine both have the same - 0.0034 - incidence rate of cancer per year (despite the war and economic differences it is the same people with the same behavior/habits :), while Belarus where people are basically the same as in Ukraine and Russia and drink and smoke and eat the same - has 0.0052 incidence rate, ie. 50000 new cases per year instead of 34000 if they were to have the same incidence as Russia and Ukraine. 16000 extra cancer cases per year for several decades with mortality higher than 50% ...
>nuclear is among the least evils,
hardly so, giving the numbers i referenced above (compare it to coal - the coal's 700K/year deaths means "only" 1K/year for Belarus) and potential of any nuclear power plant to repeat Chernobyl - i'm aware about technical improvements of modern reactors, yet "stupidity will find a way"...
> yet faces the greatest overall public resistance to new installations.
still wondering why ? :)
Elon Musk would disagree.
If you believe in a quick solution for energy issues then you shouldn't halt all nuclear development and leave fossil fuels for the next couple decades.
Nuclear plants take 30 years at least to get through planning and building. Gas fired plants or pump solar can be deployed within a year, Wind + Solar in even less time.
I like nuclear, but her view makes a lot of sense to me.
(Also, nuclear is not a renewable by an sensible measure)
I've seen it before, but trying to trace it down is... troubling.
There's this report, where they only count accidents where more than 5 people were killed. This coincidentally manages to avoid counting all accidents in nuclear plants, where in the US alone there were 8 deaths. I assume other energy sources would see a jump too, but that doesn't give me great confidence. The number from that report is different anwyay.
 http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/2513/2574258/pdfs/... references some authors which appear to have this 0.04 number, but I can't find the source.
This is where probabilities bite us. If the probability is small enough then the expected death toll will drop to almost zero which merits little worry, despite how horrific said event mightt be. It sounds like you're doing the natural, intuitive thing of picturing a very scary scenerio and then wanting to avoid said scenerio at all costs.
The problem is, while you're busy avoiding some almost-zero probability event, you're also nuking your ability to mitigate events with actual high expected deaths and loses.
Fossil fuels already kill on the order of millions per century , so if you think nuclear power does the same, it means we should expect several Chernobyl level events in the next few decades. Are you sure your probabilities are well-calibrated here?
Also, some of the rough skimming I've done has me believing that cycles without possibility of medown can be built, cf. liquid salt reactors. IIRC, some of these even have really nice waste profiles with the worst stuff only having half lives in the decades and very low volume at that [citation badly needed].
Anyway, fear of nuclear power reads to me like a fear of planes over cars. Chernobyl and Fukushima were single, isolated events making them visible and viscerally scary like plane crashes. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, pick us off one by one, relentlessly, but never so loudly as to evoke that gut-level fear.
Likelihood of such disaster is estimated to be too minor to not care about, say, “an asteroid kills the planet” movie scenario.
Most of the scary charts were fake: https://www.snopes.com/photos/technology/fukushima.asp
The smaller some piece of electronics is, the smaller the charges in there are, and the easier it is to introduce errors with ionizing radiation.
(Some server Power cpus seem to run parallel in pairs, comparing the output at critical parts to detect cpu errors)
I used to be a product manager for radiation measurement electronics, and we used platinum-doped diodes for the part intended to go in the beam.
See for example:
welph, that's my eyes rolling right out of my head. I mean really, "space particles"! The might as well call all metals "supernova remnants" -_-
EDIT: Though I guess, now that I think of it, it's a bit unfair to refer to muons as 'exotic'. People will typically encounter thousands of them in a day .
 "Muons arrive at sea level with an average flux of about 1 muon per square centimeter per minute."
Honestly "space particle" to me sounds to be the same sort of suspect phrase as "space pen".
They ultimately (and not in the we're all space dust sense, more like 2.2 microseconds ago sense) are caused by interactions with particles from outer space, so calling them space particles, isn't that bad. :) But yeah; it's does elide that aspect of them.