Guest Post: Japanese, Russian and Indonesian Volcanoes Erupt … 5 Japanese Nuclear Reactors In Danger … 1 Is Leaking and May Melt Down Within 24 Hours

Update: It’s possible that a meltdown may already have occurred at one nuclear power plant. As AP wrote 4 minutes ago:

An official with Japan’s nuclear safety commission says that a meltdown at nuclear power plant affected by the country’s massive earthquake is possible.

Ryohei Shiomi said Saturday that officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which had lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday’s powerful earthquake.

Volcanoes have reportedly erupted in Japan, Indonesia, and Kamchatka Russia today, presumably due to the massive Japanese earthquake. There have been no reports of damage from the eruptions.

In addition, there are problems at three Japanese nuclear power plants.

The Fukushima plant is leaking radiation, and a nuclear expert says that things are getting worse, and “Fukushima has 24 hours to avoid a core meltdown scenario”.

MSNBC reports:

“The situation is still several stages away from Three Mile Island when the reactor container ceased to function as it should,” said Tomoko Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics

Two other Japanese nuclear reactors are now in trouble as well.

As MSNBC notes:

Coolant systems failed at three quake-stricken Japanese nuclear reactors Saturday, sending radiation seeping outside one and temperatures rising out of control at two others.

Radiation surged to around 1,000 times the normal level in the control room of the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daichi plant, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. Radiation — it was not clear how much — had also seeped outside, prompting widening of an evacuation area to a six-mile radius from a two-mile radius around the plant. Earlier, 3,000 people had been urged to leave their homes.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the temperatures of its No.1 and No.2 reactors at its Fukushima Daini nuclear power station were rising, and it had lost control over pressure in the reactors.


About an hour after the plant shut down, however, the emergency diesel generators stopped, leaving the units with no power for important cooling functions.


Hours after the evacuation order, the government announced that the plant will release slightly radioactive vapor from the unit to lower the pressure in an effort to protect it from a possible meltdown.

And see this.

Good luck to the Japanese scientists bravely trying to avert catastrophe. As MSNBC notes:

Japan has a “tremendous amount of technical capability and resources” to respond to the issue ….

UPDATE: It is now up to 5 nuclear reactors.

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George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. Anon

    While the focus is currently on the safety of the two facilities at Fukushima, the history of the Kashikawazi plant in Niigata is notable in this regard, since according to The Scotsman, a nuclear industry lie got it built in the first place:

    Japan is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. After a quake hit the Sea of Japan coast in 2007, the nuclear reactors at Kashiwazaki-kariwa were found to have been damaged. The operator, Tokyo Electric, denied there was a seismic fault in close proximity to the site. This proved to have been deliberate deception to secure approval for construction.

    (“Japanese earthquake analysis: Alarm bells for nuclear power plants”, 12 March 2011,

    1. attempter

      Possible core explosion.

      Here’s the text of two e-mail alerts from Stratfor:

      Red Alert: Japan Warns of Possible Nuclear Meltdown
      March 12, 2011

      Japanese officials are cautioning that a nuclear meltdown may occur at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant near the town of Okuma. According to Japan’s Jiji Press, some of the reactor’s nuclear fuel rods were briefly exposed to the air after the reactor’s water levels dropped through evaporation. A fire engine is currently pumping water into the reactor and the water levels are recovering, according to an operator of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the plant. A TEPCO spokesman said the company believes the reactor is not melting down or cracking and that workers are currently attempting to raise the water level.

      If a meltdown takes place — essentially the core of the reactor overheating and damaging the fuel rods themselves — it would be the first since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and the Three Mile Island incident in 1979.

      Red Alert: Explosion Reported at Japanese Nuclear Plant
      March 12, 2011

      An explosion occurred March 12 at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, Japanese news agency Jiji reported, citing local police. Reports of an explosion and smoke come after Japanese officials cautioned that a nuclear meltdown was possible. Officials at the plant had reported that part of the reactor core was exposed to air for a brief moment and that they were attempting to raise the water level to continue cooling the reactor. Officials later stated that steam was vented from the power plant to release the pressure built up by evaporating water. If an explosion occurred, it would indicate that the additional water pumped into the reactor has been unable to stave off the meltdown reaction inside the reactor core and that the plant is experiencing a far more serious crisis than initially reported by the Japanese authorities.

      1. attempter


        At this point, events in Japan bear many similarities to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Reports indicate that up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) of the reactor fuel was exposed. The reactor fuel appears to have at least partially melted, and the subsequent explosion has shattered the walls and roof of the containment vessel — and likely the remaining useful parts of the control and coolant systems.

        1. Chris M

          I don’t see how this is all that similar to Chernobyl. Chernobyl didn’t have a chance to lose the cooling systems. It blew up from a huge power surge (30GW) while the control rods were all the way out. The Japanese reactor has the control rods all the way in, and is generating minimal power. But without any coolant circulation, even that minimal power is enough to boil the remaining water and fry the reactor core. The Japanese reactor building probably exploded from the steam pressure. It is a dire situation, but it’s happening in slow motion compared to Chernobyl.

        2. Binky Bear

          Chernobyl was a graphite pile reactor, basically a giant stack of charcoal briquets with nuclear material inside which caught on fire. Very few reactors of that type are still around. Japan and most countries use pressurized water reactors. these may melt down without coolant or neutron blockers to stop the fission, but they don’t catch on fire.

  2. James

    Whirlpools, Volcanoes, and an Island whose back arc basin is spreading from the mainland, and slab of rock which is supposedly sliding underneath the island via some sort of flat sub-duction theory.

    I am sorry but they really need modify the way they explain geological processes.

    I am no scientist, but I would guess there was some rifting happening.

  3. James

    Yes, first give safety to the people who struck their. I saw on TV some people are still trying escape from this natural calamity. God help them

  4. John L

    It’s not really known if the reactor would meltdown if they can’t get it cooled off. If they can’t get the pressure vented (latest reports was that the valves were in the control room and the radiation was too high for men to work in there), then getting cooling water inside the vessel will become more difficult to get past the building pressure. Also, the water in the vessel will keep lowering as it boils away.

    Once the core is exposed, it may overheat and begin melting, but it’s already had a day to start cooling off so that may not happen now. What might happen is if the cladding on the fuel rods overheats. In the presence of steam and high heat, the cladding causes a chemical reaction with the steam to form hydrogen and oxygen, which could definitely create an explosion. That would spread radioactive steam and material through the containment structure, and other explosions could breach the concrete containment building as well. It’s a race against time right now.

  5. g kaiser

    I hope the Japanese are on top of it. But don’t ever come again and try to make fools out of us who are generally worried about nuclear energy. All your calculations and your explanation have not prevented this, Cherrnobyl or Three Mile.
    And, these are just the ones we have been told about!

    1. svaha

      There’s no ‘upvote’ available so I’ll write a quick comment to affirm what you have already written.

      Can we please squelch the idea of nuclear energy now? Iran, if you want to illuminate the world, do it with scientists dedicated to solar energy… not with a poorly designed nuclear reactor.

      If the Japanese with their incredible experience and knowledge have these problems… what can we expect from developing countries once their nuclear power plants start to age and they no longer have the resources to maintain them?

      1. Antifa

        But whocouldanode there could be an earthquake? In Japan, of all places?

        And whocouldanode the earthquake could cause a tsunami?

        And whocouldanode the tsunami would come onshore?

        And whocouldanode the water could submerge the diesel generators providing pump and valve power to the reactors?

        And whocouldanode backup batteries should already have been on site?

        And whocouldanode the cladding can produce explosive mixes of hydrogen and oxygen?

        Why, a nuclear accident at this location is as unlikely as a big green lizard rising out of Tokyo Bay and fighting to the death with, I dunno, a giant moth.

        Only environmental wackos would consider such a thing.

    2. bmeisen

      Demonstrate for massibe investment in renewable energy sources now! Demand a stop to nuclear power now!! It’s been a military/corporate scam from the start! Hundreds of thousands of deaths are attributable to Chernoble. We’re the ones who pay when it goes wrong. Renewable alternatives are the answer!

      1. Chris M

        So you’re in favor of using more fossil fuels? Because that’s what your advocacy will result in. Wishing for renewables will not make them feasible.

        1. bmeisen

          Are you willing to store nuclear waste in your closet for the rest of your life? Do you like subsidizing big energy so that they can continue to underprice responsible alternatives? What would you do if the reactor next door threatened meltdown? There is a place for the gereration of substantial amounts of energy using nuclear technology. That place is not on this planet.

    3. joel hanes

      No one was hurt by Three Mile Island.
      You could look it up, if you cared about facts.

      Hundreds of people are killed every year by the coal-fired power generation industry.

      I don’t like nuclear power, but I like mindless hysteria even less.

      1. YankeeFrank

        Ever heard of Chernobyl? The potential devastation of a nuclear reactor is not worth the risks.

        1. John L

          Chernobyl was the result of a crappy, antique Soviet reactor design based on the original Chicago graphite pile, and operators that turned off every single safety feature on a functional reactor. The Japanese reactors aren’t anything like the Chernobyl one, other than that they too use nuclear fuel to generate power. Everything else is different, including the amount of damage this reactor failure will cause.

        1. aet

          Nuclear power = the future

          Get over it.

          This accident will allow the design of even more ri obust safety features in the future.

          Japan, France, China, and the rest of the wordld need nuclear power.

          There is no alternative.

          1. Omitted Kindgom

            Karl Rove has always been proponent of “nukular” power. Ok, I want to know when he leaves to go to Japan. Rove should be dropped onto the scene to experience first hand what “mukular” meltdowns are like. I bet Karl’s ass is stateside this morning.

            The Democrat idea of nuccear power is that you find out who profits from it, then you bury the wastes in those peoople’s basements, so their wives and children are the first in harm’s way.

    4. John L

      Uhhh, right. You’re basing this anti-nuclear power opinion on yours on what? That an old, 40 year old reactor failed after a historic 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a 25′ tsunami?

      Do you see how improbable that is to generalize it over to every other nuclear reactor? From all accounts, the nuclear reactor has not been breached. The concrete containment structure around the reactor has not been breached. This despite the loss of the primary and secondary cooling systems. Yes, it appears the reactor has experienced a partial meltdown (much like TMI). The only radiation release was deliberate, from steam vented to reduce the reactor pressure. Newer reactors are safer and have more safety features than old 40 year designs, and this one still performed very well in containment.

  6. Paul Tioxon

    Of course the police state faction, led by the newly purged republican party do not a have a stand to take on act of a cruel and uncaring god. Unlike global warming, which can be contributed to by thermal heat from the core of the earth, devastating earthquakes in the midst of a technologized industrial nation is not a matter of debate, the deaths, the destruction of the best constructed, earthquake proof building codes still is no match for a momentary exhale of nature. Why we can’t depend on nukes, oil or natural gas, is that they are disasters within disasters, waiting to happen. Solar energy is not only the immediate economic answer to creating jobs and prosperity, it is also not an evolutionary dead end. We have the means and the political will to push this forward in America before it is too late.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Atomic Energy Tyranny… Physics, it used be, Solar electricity would be like Brazil, the country of the future and always will be. It used to be said not commercially available for a another decade, that was in 1976. Now physics is in the way? Ha HA HA. At the rate things are going, capitalism may not be economically viable for another decade, that is, if it does not completely disappear altogether in the next election cycles. Oil and gas need to be preserved for industrial uses, commercial manufacture of plastics for the computer and IT industries and the military. We do not need it all for fuel in the entire residential sector for cars, heat, AC or BBQ. We are going back to real wood for BBQ. Wood is eternal. The past, the present and the future of outdoor cooking. And, America will lead the way with forestry reclamation up 220% and wood chip production growing at a geometric rate. Please see histograms from AWE(American Wood Enterprises).

    1. gordon

      AS I read Pres. Obama, he’s a successful, upwardly mobile guy from a disadvantaged background who’s worked hard to “make good”. It’s the American Dream. Trouble is, he’s focussed not on controlling the oligarchs, but on joining them. Well, that’s the Dream, isn’t it?

  7. TC

    I pray these problems are resolved without catastrophe. Nuclear power represents a fast track forward were this so-called beacon of hope that is the United States, first, to rid its politics of advocates of death (in both parties), then to continue on its national mission elevating the human condition. No other technology presently available provides such power for so little cost, as does nuclear. Yet the benefits go far beyond dollars and cents. You want to end dependence on fossil fuels? There is no other SANE alternative. As we slide deeper into our post-industrial pit and despair seeks answers holding promise of offering abundant opportunity, such as would relish chance to lead rather than merely “compete,” then nuclear power must be a centerpiece. Indeed, founding member of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, sees it this way, too.

    (No link to my blogger blog; it appears my Google account has been hacked!)

  8. Psychoanalystus

    Sorry for the Japs, but we “cannot let a crisis go to waste”. As such, the “Chicago Boys” better be en route to Tokyo pronto, because it looks like Japan is ripe for a full-spectrum neo-liberal shock doctrine cure. Expect reconstruction provided by Bechtel, food services by Halliburton, and security by Blackwater. Also expect privatization of the entire city of Tokyo, union bustings, and firing of all teachers, damn it!


    1. Psychoanalystus

      I forgot to mention that in addition to all that neo-liberal stuff listed above, Sarah Palin’s new book “Drill, Baby, Drill” will be released in Japan tomorrow. It sports an Asian-looking Sarah on the front cover and a foreword written post-mortem by Ronald Reagan…


    2. attempter

      That was my first thought, too. But my second was that the Japanese are neither impoverished brown people nor enervated, cowardly Americans and Europeans. So the Shock Treatment might not work on them.

      (But I did see how, to the NYT, the big story is the US military’s “humanitarian assistance”. See, the ongoing Japanese occupation is good for something after all!)

      1. skippy

        WTF are_you two on about_people are dead and dying, yet its an opportunity to sledge…anything!

        Skippy…any respect I ever had for the_both of you_is rescinded…I would not let you cover my back in a game of marbles. Save humanity, the planet may ass[!] more like caught up in your own mental cages w/out a key!

        1. attempter

          Skippy, you’re going to give yourself a stroke getting so close to everything like that.

          But evidently the nuke shills upthread who considered this a good time to chime in are acceptable to you.

        2. Psychoanalystus


          I wrote that ironically, not because I believe in it. I stand totally against those policies. But I am sure what I described above is exactly what they will do next (where “they” are the neo-liberal criminal corporations and their bought-and-paid-for governments that have done the same thing in South America, Eastern Europe, Russia, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, repeatedly in Haiti, and now are doing in Greece, Ireland, Wisconsin, and almost half of the US states). To them human life is irrelevant — all that matters is profits and control of people.

          These very recent interview with Naomi Klein and Michael Moore’s speech a week ago in Wiconsin explain it better than I could:

          We all need to start resisting and boycotting these criminals, else we are all doomed.


          1. skippy

            Guys I’m fully aware of your positions, yet, under the present circumstances find any irony laden prose to be in total disrespect for those that are getting their ass kicked like you could not believe.

            Friends of mine work in disaster management, on the ground and command and control. The floods here in Australia, quake in New Zealand and now off to Japan, have permutations that are not reported (toxicity/legacy) which will live on long after the so called rebuilding is done. The modern flood bares little resemblance to its historical brethren. On top of that I’ve worked for Bectel (mining), built chemical factory’s, food processing plants grain/meat/poultry etc. There is a hole lot of bad, that some day soon, will come back to roost. Personally I don’t give a crap about the economy, I give a crap about people, especial the ones that have zero clue as to what goes on in this world (kept in the dark) and what will befall them (no survival skills) when the system casts them off.

            Skippy…I’ve seen so many body’s, just don’t want to see more piled to the sky, with the epitaph…shit happens.

          2. attempter

            I’m sorry an expression of irony in this particular case rubbed you the wrong way. But to me this is an acute example of the same chronic cataclysms I have to watch playing out on a daily basis. I have to daily experience all the chronic cataclysm involved in the economic manifestation of a civil war which I think has an excellent chance of turning into a literal physical one (more likely in one direction, i.e. fascism), as well as the looming physical cataclysms of total crop system failure caused by GMO vulnerabilies (or the running amok of intentional ecocide like the Terminator genes) and pandemics breaking out of the bioweapons factories known as CAFOs.

            Then there’s the ever more frequent incidence of acute events, purely man-made like the Gulf Oil Eruption, partially man-made and totally exploited like Katrina, or natural but exploited like the 2004 tsunami. Now we have this earthquake: Natural event, triggering a manmade event (the meltdown) whose magnitude we can still only speculate, and who knows what exploitation will follow, but there can be no doubt about the intent.

            Putting all that together, I think anyone can see why ironic detachment would be a frequent recourse for anyone who cares about this stuff. If I had to be “on” all the time, I’d have killed myself long ago.

      2. Psychoanalystus

        All day today and yesterday, CNN kept spewing how the US and the US military is aiding Japan. One of the talking heads working for the US government even mentioned FEMA being involved. This is like a bad joke. The corrupt corporate American media just cannot resist feeding into that same self-important imperial narcissistic propaganda bullshit it always has.

        I think the US military better stay with what it does best: cowardly bomb and kill children, torture their parents, and then hand out medals of honor plus 7-figure private sector contracting jobs to those who did it.


        1. skippy

          MacArthur shook hands with his mortal enemy cough Emperor, after the embarrassment of losing his governorship in such an unceremoniously manner.

          Skippy…money makes the bad go away.

  9. Anon

    Is this the once-in-100,000 years event that these nuclear plants could not be designed to resist?

    And it’s happened only 30-40 odd years after they were built?

    1. Cedric Regula

      I’m just an amateur nuclear power plant designer, but here’s my two cents.

      Firstly, I wouldn’t put put one on top of an island that’s there because it is an earthquake fault, not to mention a recipient of tsunamis from offshore quakes. But they have no oil, and even today, solar doesn’t work so good with it’s 10%-18% conversion efficiency.

      It does sound like these early (1970s vintage), admittedly inadequately designed plants, did withstand shock well. The failure mode of the plants in danger of meltdown has to do with how emergency cooling is provided. In one case there was an emergency standby generator to run reactor cooling pumps and it had an electric prime mover connected to the grid. The quake took out the grid, and the standby generator was useless. In another case, the standby generator had a diesel prime mover, and it was flooded by a tsunami, making it useless.

      So these are some rather boneheaded design and siting issues that indicate serious lack of considering possible failure modes.

      Luckily for fans (no pun intended) of energy and modern living, the nuclear corporatists have learned a lot over the past 50 years, and we are now up to Generation 3 designs which address all these shortcomings and should be much safer. In fact, Japan was the first to build a couple of these new designs and these came on line, on budget, in 1997. Off hand, I don’t know where in Japan they are located, but they don’t seem to be on the list of problem plants.

  10. Anon

    A potential historical reference point is the catastrophic cooling system failure at storage tanks at the Mayak nuclear facility in the then-Soviet Union [now Russian Federation] in 1957. (see “Inside the Zone”, 17 October 2007,

    From its inception, the nuclear adventure and lies go together like peanut butter and jelly.

    1. aet

      Not even one generation in, and you wish to give it up?

      No risk, no reward.

      And the oil monopolists would dearly love to set the price of energy all by themselves, for the next few centuries, so that they may become the sole proprietors of the earth.

      1. Anon


        The legacy problems of major contamination events are substantial, and always glossed over by the PTB. Read the piece about Mayak – the locals were accused of incest when birth abnormalities began to appear.

        I have a friend born in Nagasaki in 1946 who did not have children as a result of that circumstance. A known concern for Japanese families like hers is about problems skipping one generation, and appearing down the line. Current Japanese population crash? Maybe it’s somewhat related (no pun intended).

        Global conditions are changing (IMO, they are changing very fast indeed). I sat through the Canicule in France when there was a front-page picture in Libération of fire brigade hosing down nuclear reactor to keep it cool as the mercury went off the chart. The juxtaposition of hi and lo tech would’ve been funny if it hadn’t been so serious, since thousands of people, particularly the old, died across Europe as a result of the heat that summer.

        The reactors at Fukushima were designed in the 1960s, before the current level of seismic activity in the region kicked in (and is that in itself global warming related? Yves links to BBC story above, which says combined Poles losing 475Gt/yr ice, and that was in 2006. The ice is bouncing up and down like crazy at the Poles as glaciers move towards the seas and melt. This isn’t stopping anytime soon. Christchurch, Santiago de Chile, Japan – the Ring of Fire is going to go beserk.)

        Was earthquake + tsunami was ever modelled for Fukushima (given that tsunami is Japanese word)? And while all emergency generators are presumably designed to resist flooding – these didn’t.

        One other thing: where are the wastes generated by Fukushima stored? Are they all now sloshing around in the Pacific next to the plant? (According to a Susan Watts report some years back on BBC Newsnight, in France wastes sit in vats in depots in the middle of Champagne country and – well, that’s it.) Because somehow the problem of the wastes never gets solved. Like AI, the solution’s always going to appear in the next 10 years or so.

        The great hope of nuclear generation is currently thorium (see China). Don’t know much about that, and I don’t give a **** if it’s Homer Simpson or the Soviets in charge, but what us scarcity-is-the-natural-order-of-things old-school European types know is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

        Meanwhile, the Pacific Plate just slid forward 59 feet instead of its usual 3 inches, and those 55 reactors slid with it.

        Nien danke.

  11. Sufferin' Succotash

    What we really need right now is an action movie with the theme of energy conservation. It’s not exactly the sort of topic that keeps you glued to your seat, but it’s still the cheapest and safest energy source available at the moment.

  12. Tau_Cety

    It is NOT dangerous !!!!
    Simply they don’t know what they talk about.

    The worst case scenario could be similar like the one happened a few years ago in Hungary.
    In that case during the cleaning of the fuel elements due to the malfunction of a pump the top of thirty nuclear rod damaged.
    It created a small leakage (due to the release of the gases from the cladding) but otherwise the biggest issue was the damaged fuel palettes.

    At here the trouble is the not working pump system.They replaced it with a pump from the local fire brigade,and it will do the job.What they doing is just to pump and evaporate the water,and with it cooling the rods.

    The critical time period is the first 24 hours.After that the heat emitted from the core will be only the 6% of the energy released after the shut-down.

    So,if the reactor not melted in the first hour,then it will not melt any time.

    Check it here:

  13. Tau_Cety

    Explosion:that was nothing else just the cooling loop of the generators.
    They are cooled by hydrogen,and all big generator is cooled by that,in every power plant .

    So,that accident is not connected to anything nuclear.

    Probably it could be interesting to know how many people has been evacuated around the liquid natural gas terminals

  14. Septeus7

    Here’s a quote from Rod Adams (Atomic Insights) on how this is the least of Japan’s problems right now.

    Quote: “There are fires at refineries, breaks in hydroelectric dams, explosions associated with natural gas systems, and massive quantities of contaminated land where the water overturned or damaged what were thousands of well designed containers full of hazardous materials. (For example, every automobile and truck that you see overturned by a wave contains a lead acid storage battery and tanks containing somewhere between 10-200 gallons of hydrocarbons. There is a 100% chance that some of that material has been released in an uncontrolled manner to the environment.)”

    The fires from the fossil fuel sources are polluting and radioactive than what is taken place at the nuclear power plant. Coal fire plants release radioactive contents over 800 times normal during regular operation. Yet, I don’t here story about the end of world every time there’s fire a coal-fired plant (which happens a lot).

    The hysteria caused by the anti-nuke greens I fear will cause peak oil situation that will resulting in “self imposed energy” decline at an accelerated rate due to false safety issues of nuclear when fossils fuels are so much worse.

    Another quote from Rod Adams:

    “As the Japanese economy recovers from the quake and power customers get their supplying wires restored, the demand for power will be met by importing more fuel oil, importing more Liquified Natural Gas and importing more coal.

    Those additional demands on an already stressed fossil fuel market will cause world wide prices to be even higher than they would have been. There are already investors who are working hard to figure out how to play that very predictable consequence of the accident for their own gain. If you do not believe that statement, I recommend reading Bloomberg’s March 11, 2011 article titled Japan’s Post-Quake Energy Import Surge Will Boost Reliance.”

    Go long on fossil fuels as Greens do the bidding of Big Coal and Big Gas. *Sigh*….

  15. sidelarge

    Seriously, all of you who are trying to evoke Chernobyl are quite opportunistically talking out of your ass. You have to actually put a lot of ill-intended effort to make that kind of a serious meltdown to happen with the modern reactors, especially Japan’s.

    It’s one thing to be a nuclear skeptic, and it’s another thing to be a fear monger based on ignorance.

  16. sidelarge

    I think I put it too mildly above:

    It’s practically impossible to go Chrnobyl with the modern Japanese reactors. Hell, even nuking the nuke reactor itself probably wouldn’t be able to re-produce what happened there (silly hypothesis, but that’s how widely off-the-mark those doomsday claims are).

    1. Paul Repstock

      Thank you for a note of reason sidelarge, Nuclear is an emotionally charged issue. I don’t think anyone here will deny that money on both sides of the debate is doing more to muddy the water than to resolve issues. If Ced rreally has the abilities he alluded to, I have a few qestions I need help with.

      1. Cedric Regula

        These aren’t “modern japanese reactors” to start with. These were plants built in the 70s and have been criticized as being unsafe for various reasons for decades, but the Japanese government has allowed them to run anyway.

        The current state of the art is called “3rd generation” and the first such plant was completed in Japan in 1997. It used a GE-Hitachi reactor. The other big modern reactor suppliers are Toshiba-Westinghouse and Avila (France).

        Here’s some info on what improvements are in 3rd gen designs.

        1. kate

          Read about the Gen III and IV thorium salt reactors a while ago – not only much safer in accidents but little/no proliferation risk (no Pu). But last I heard research funding had been killed by manufacturers of standard fuel rods/other parts?
          Don’t european (japanese? canadian?) plants use much less-enriched fuel than US plants?

          1. Cedric Regula

            Gen III is a go now. In fact, Toshiba-Westinghouse licensed the design to China and China is in the process of developing the entire supply chain and have a couple plants in construction. Avila is building plants too. We have 3 projects going in the US…although I was a little miffed to see our construction cost went up something like 500% over what Japan did the theirs for in 1997.

            One of the advantages of Gen III is it makes much less waste. I’m not sure whether it lessens nuke proliferation concerns or not… but I have heard from knowledgeable sources that nuke power plants never ran off of bomb grade plutonium.

            I’ve heard people are excited about the the potential of thorium designs, but that’s a ways from construction yet.

  17. Mike D

    Still early, but this looks like a LOCA–loss of coolant accident. When a reactor suddenly goes down, it is vital to continue to pump water into the reactor core until it has cooled down. This is so important that there are several redundant systems powered by grid power, steam power, and by the diesel generators. Well, the grid went down and it appears that the diesels were swamped by the tsunami.

    That explosion tells me that the core has over heated because the water level could not be maintained. You see, the fuel is protected by a surrounding tube of zirconium metal and when it gets very hot, the zirconium reacts with water and air to form the oxide and releases hydrogen gas. Eventually, the hydrogen explodes from the heat source (reacting or burning zirconium) which is glowing red to white by this time.

    The best we can hope for is a repeat of Three Mile Island in which the radioactive products are contained. This is so sad.

    I am a former materials scientist who used to work in this industry.

  18. moslof

    Cesium137 already detected in the surrounding area indicating fuel rod failure. Instead of trying to end this with a salvageable plant, they are now using fire trucks to pump seawater into at least one of the containment vessels.

  19. Firean

    If the situation is as serious as some think will the USA not evacuate the Misawa Air Base not far up the road ?

  20. skippy

    Did anyone else notice the pressure shock wave_small arch_(mach 5+) going straight up, and not a half sphere as one would expect with a hydrogen explosion.

    Skippy…pure speculation but, it looked like the top being blown of a pressure cooker.

  21. hangayi

    Guys very bad news near 5000 people are dead and more than 8000 people are still missing. There is another threat from the N-plant as they keep blowing their self.

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