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I’ve been sharing emails with some friends re the tragedy of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami [See full text here]. It’s been apparent that the talking heads of the MSM including FOXNEWS have been hyping/sensationalizing the Fukushima nuclear event either intentionally or through ignorance.  It is clear that many commentators/anchors have very little understanding of the inner workings and engineering of a working nuclear power plant.  There is a constant drumbeat if this event will surpass the tragedy that occurred in Chernobyl.

 

To be sure the Fukushima event is a very serious event.  In the end this event will not be about the integrity of the nuclear reactor cores after all they survived a earthquake of magnitude 9 and the resultant tsunami but about backup secondary power to continue circulating the fluid through the reactor core.  The tsunami took out the backup generators not unlike the surge water took out the backup generators for the pumps for dikes in New Orleans in Katrina.  This was a foreseeable event.  The newer generation nuclear power plants have water gravity feeds but the US also has many older reactors nearing their useful life of similar designs to Fukushima.

 

More importantly the containment and security of the spent fuel rods stored on site is the real story because of the inability of reaching a political consensus to permanently store these nuclear wastes.  If spent fuel rods in the meantime are to be stored on site then more must be required to do this safely.  We have many sites in the US with many reactor cores of spent fuel rods stored on site that pose many of the same problems that have now come to light in the Fukushima event.

 

There is also a failure of Japanese governmental leadership to quickly address this rapidly developing event.  Some of this is attributable to the change of Japanese culture as William Saito, a LinkedIn.com contact/friend, who is in Japan linked to in this NYT article:

 

Dearth of Candor From Japan’s Leadership

 

TOKYO — With all the euphemistic language on display from officials handling Japan’s nuclear crisis, one commodity has been in short supply: information.

 

When an explosion shook one of many stricken reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Saturday, power company officials initially offered a typically opaque, and understated, explanation. . .

 

Is this an acceptable risk? NO!  There are fixes but will our governmental leaders have the courage to implement them.  This is a ticking time bomb.  Will we learn from this Fukushima precursor?

 

One of the essential functions of government is to prevent/mitigate the tragedy of the commons when externalities of others pose an immediate threat to the safety of others.  Our own government has been less than forthcoming regarding past nuclear hazards in our own country.  Read Larry Shook’s latest piece:

 

The Angel of Fukushima

 

While this is a very serious event as the Japanese work to stabilize these damaged nuclear facilities, the worst-case scenarios in the end probably will not rise to the level of a Chernobyl.  Certain special interests now are seizing on the moment to kill or severely limit nuclear power.  Fossil fuels have there own inherent risks and political consequences. The public debate whether to increase or decrease nuclear power needs to occur in a reasoned forum without this sky is falling is falling hysteria. 

 

Life is not entirely risk free.  The goal is to identify and understand those risks and make reasoned decisions and not to accept unreasonable risks.  Accidents have occurred in the past where the accumulating risk was ignored and or discounted that have cost many lives e.g., the Union Carbide - Bhopal Disaster [Note - correction from 3M] and the Space Shuttle accidents (See The Futurist).  The probability of systemic failure while low is also additive and eventually the dice will come up craps.

 

Below are excerpts from my email posts that link to sources of information in the new social/alternative media that have served the public well - more so than the traditional MSM sources.  These new alternative media sources including my own do have their own specific inherent biases however when these sources are taken as a whole a more clearer picture emerges than the hype the MSM sources are now reporting.  After the dust has settled the proof will be in the pudding regarding which sources of information provided more accurate information as to the extent of this event and the probability of future dangerous events occurring so the readers can take precautions to protect their own families.

 

This latest post in the comment thread of the PJM article I linked to below pretty much sums up this story on the MSM:

 

95. William Power

So…what happened to all the media hysteria? Seems we had almost three days of almost no coverage of the impending China Syndrome / blazing nuclear furnace. Perhaps the “story was exhausted” ’cause they couldn’t create more new fear out of cooling and contained reactors…or perhaps they really think Mohmar(sp? whatever spelling of the week you might choose to use…) getting his bootay spanked was really that dominating of a story.

March 21, 2011 - 4:56 pm   Link to this Comment | Reply

 

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[Other useful sources of information – you decide their worth on this subject]

 

The American Thinker - The Fall of the House of TEPCO

 

WSJ – At Plant, Repair Is Painstaking Task

 

Captains Journal - Status of the Fukushima Reactor Accidents

 

Hot Air - Shep Smith: It’s pathetic that some Americans are popping iodide pills over Japan’s nuke crisis

 

Blackfive - Japanese Reactor(s) Update(d) Yet Again

 

PJM - Fukushima update: get a grip part 2

 

Hot Air - Hope: Radiation levels beyond 12 miles of Japanese nuke plant are near normal

 

Popular Science - As Cooling Efforts Continue, Japanese Officials Consider Burying Fukushima Plant

 

Larry Shook - Fukushima, USA

Read More - [Full text MS Word.doc - emails and other references]

UPDATE I:

LA Times OP/ED piece by Robert Alvarez

These spent fuel rods not only pose a safety risk but more importantly a significant security risk from a well coordinated terrorist attack.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ron Wright
Date: Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 7:31 AM
Subject: Re: L.A. Times: Nuclear crisis NOW

To: Larry Shook

 

YEP - Roger that!  It’s the temporary nature of the storage of these rods that poses the danger.  No one wants to spend the money to ensure the safety and security on site because this is temporary storage.

 

[From Larry Shook]

 

A specter is stalking humanity. Here it is, from today’s L.A. Times. This is nothing less than a mandate for a serious global fact-based discussion–and solution rooted in public understanding and consent. With the “propagating” crisis at Fukushima in mind, I encourage everyone to play a role. If you live anywhere on Earth, this specter has a very personal relationship with you. Larry Shook

Unsafe at any reactor

U.S. nuclear plants are storing increasing amounts of highly radioactive spent fuel in pools that are vulnerable to accident or attack. New safety policies are needed.

(Illustration by Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times) (Illustration by Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times)

By Robert Alvarez

March 23, 2011

The nuclear crisis at the Daiichi complex in Fukushima, Japan, has turned a spotlight on the severe dangers involved in storing spent nuclear fuel in pools. But the danger is not new.

In 2003, I cowrote a report with a group of academics, nuclear industry executives, former government officials and other researchers warning that spent fuel pools at U.S. nuclear power plants were vulnerable. The drainage of a pool might cause a catastrophic radiation fire, we reported, which could render an area uninhabitable greater than that created by the Chernobyl accident (roughly half the size of New Jersey).

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hotly disputed our paper, which prompted Congress to ask the National Academy of Sciences to sort out the controversy. In 2004, the academy reported that U.S. pools were vulnerable to terrorist attacks and catastrophic fires. . .

UPDATE II

This just in according to this WSJ report the failure of the secondary power systems to the cooling water system was not unknown instead the risk was ignored.  As I mentioned before we saw the same flawed decision making re cascading failure risk in Katrina with the failure of the dike pumps:

Japan Ignored Warning Of Nuclear Design Flaw