Fukushima – Still Counting the Costs of Nuclear Power……

28 Aug

Japan is located in a geological region collectively known as ‘the Pacific Rim of Fire’.  It is a horseshoe shaped belt where the Earths most active geological processes are taking place.  The histories of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis have been well documented.  It covers a huge area stemming from the far South-Western coast of the Americas all of the way around to the Eastern coast of Australia.

No doctorate in geology is needed to understand the implications of choosing such an area for the construction of Nuclear Power Plants……

As with all potentially dangerous technologies where there is an element of unpredictable parameters beyond the control of the builders or operators, engineers design in a margin of error, should the worst case scenario happen which it did at the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor in Japan in 2011……

The Margin for Error at Fukushima was woefully inadequate.  The truth of the matter is that the parameters upon which any calculations were based were massively underestimated for the reality of the earthquake and tsunami which followed.  Leaving scientists, government officials and those tasked with assessing the damage ‘flying blind’; giving their best available predictions to journalists, hastily calculated on the back of a cigarette packet……

Back to Basics……

 

A nuclear reactor works on the same basic principles of all electricity generators.  Water is boiled to create steam which powers turbines to generate electricity.  It is no different to any other electricity generating plant with one small but very important difference.

In all other power generation systems where water is heated to create steam inside a boiler to turn a turbine; if the steam runs out the turbine grinds to a halt.  Embarrassing and costly but with no irreversible environmental damage.  The difference is where nuclear fission is used to create the heat source which in turn creates the steam means the reactor cannot simply shut off instantaneously.  Control rods are lowered into the core of the reactor to stop the fission reaction but the reactor continues to produce heat, lots of heat, and for a long time.  This is not usually a problem and given a plentiful supply of water a reactor can be safely shut down in around three weeks.  The complicated physics of nuclear reactors isn’t of huge importance to this debate but the only crucial factor is that the reactor core has to be constantly supplied with cold water.  If it stops you are left with ‘The China Syndrome’.  This is where an overheating reactor core reaches such high temperatures it literally melts the base of the containment vessel and the re-enforced concrete structure surrounding it, leading to a highly radioactive laver seeping into the ground below.  When it hits the water table it can spread over enormous distances making the surrounding area unfit for human habitation.

Redundancy……

Nuclear power has a tendency to evoke sensations of fear to the average man in the street but has proven to be a very useful source of energy.  Most of the accidents and near misses that have happened have been caused by malfunctioning monitoring or mechanical systems, or mostly, human error.  For these reasons the nuclear industry has introduced ‘failsafe’ and redundant systems, manually controlled backup systems and multiple layers of computing monitoring.  On the whole this has proven successful but there are events in which no amount of multiple backup will make any difference whatsoever; the forces of nature……

MARCH 2011……

A massive earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale happened off the east coast of Japan.  The practice drills carried out by people who work in Japans’ factories, offices and schools worked as planned and the initial earthquake caused very low loss of life.  The tsunami warning systems also alerted those near the coast of the incoming tidal wave.  Many headed for high ground, many simply went upstairs. A Richter 9.0 earthquake is almost unheard of and the sea defences, some of which were 10 meters high, were still inadequate to cope with the resulting wave, leading to an estimated 20,000 plus fatalities as the sea rushed 5km in land.

At the Fukushima Plant……

The first stage of the ‘fail safe’ system kicked in almost immediately as the first shock waves were picked up, lowering in the radioactive-symbolcontrol rods and beginning the shut down procedure.  It was what happened a few minutes later that no body had registered in their calculations.  The Richter scale is logarithmic; meaning a magnitude 2.0 earthquake is 10 times as powerful as a magnitude 1.0.  Therefore, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, which was the maximum Japan had planned for, is equivalent to an explosion of 15 mega-tonnes of TNT.  The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan was the equivalent of 480 mega-tonnes of TNT, or as scientists sometimes call it, ‘F**k**g massive’.

The tidal wave which hit the Fukushima plant was devastating and all of the precautionary measures put in place turned out to be woefully inadequate.  Remembering that it is the constant flow of cold water running through the reactors that allows them to shut down safely, the plant had back up generators to power the pumps in such an event.  However, these were rendered completely redundant by the sheer overwhelming force of the tidal wave.  The power plant was now facing the worst possible situation.  An attempt was made to bring in generators and pumps and water was dropped from helicopters; somewhat reminiscent of the Chernobyl accident, but despite the Governments protestations they new they had a big problem on their hands.

The explosions which happened within a few hours of the earthquake were a telltale sign that all was not good.  When starved of cooling water the reactors produce Hydrogen, which, when mixed with just the right amount of Oxygen, explodes.  One by one this happened to each of the reactors at Fukushima……

What has Happened Since……

The Japanese Government has done what all governments do when faced with a humanitarian, ecological, financial and potential fatal set of circumstances; they lie.

The Japanese Government has consistently played down the ecological implications of the accident and reassured those evacuated that all will soon be back to normal and they can return to their homes.  Only a small exclusion zone will persist as a matter of precaution.

The Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) have stated that they are unsure how much contaminated water has leaked into the Pacific but have reclassified the incident as a Level 7 (for Spinal Tap fans that like an 11, or maybe 12)……

Questions for Humanity……

 

With the need for energy security and the evolution of the human race near the top of many political agendas questions need to be asked.  Firstly, at what price evolution.  Secondly, with so many of our leaders intimately involved with energy and standing to profit from it; are we being told the truth about energy and is any real attempt being made to reduce our consumption whilst generating it from better, cleaner sources.Rumsfeld & Saddam

It is my personal belief that governments and politicians are just the puppets of the oligarchy running the show from behind the scenes.  These people have no thought for the world they’ll be leaving behind for their grandchildren, they are simply here to make as much for themselves as they can.  They control energy and money, and with it everything else.  Fukushima is just one example of them being caught ‘on the hop’ but they’ll soon paper over those cracks.  Their number one objective is the Military Industrial Complex that brought us 9/11 and 7/7, providing us with a bogey man to fear.  They’re at it right now in Syria with the chemical weapons trail.  Was it Bashar, was it the freedom fighters or was it Al Qaeda.  No, it was the Americans/UK, the Israelis or the Russians; stamping out human lives in an instant for their profit making energy security and the inevitable wars which accompany it, from which they also profit……

Halliburton

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