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[Japan] Nuclear power radiation threat following Earthquake and Tsunami

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by robsalvv, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. The king hit delivered by mother nature against Japan has been almost incomprehensible. The devastation is truly tragic. I don't want to focus on that though, but feel free to start another thread.

    What I'm interested in in this thread is that the disaster has reignited the Nuclear power debate.

    All the fail safes and redundant systems didn't perfectly survive the king hit. Two reactors are in a bad way. One has experienced two explosions (I might have the details wrong, but there's been reports of two explosions) and is threatening to lose containment. Two partial meltdowns have been reported.

    Given the predictions of impending doom and loss of containment, has this kiboshed nuclear power for the foreseeable future?
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  3. Yes. Even though this is one of MANY that have never had a problem, that wont stop the wowsers using it to stop Aus building any more. Just yesterday night i was thinking the exact same thing
  4. I guess it depends on how much you need the power generated by nuclear means.

    We are lucky in Australia that we have huge reserves of coal and natural gas for power generation backed up by hydro schemes and wind generation.

    With the amount of brown coal on hand we will not have to worry about nuclear generation in the foreseeable future.

    Other countries don't have that option and need to generate power by other means. If the people need power and the only way to generate it is by nuclear means then you have no choice.

    With the amount of nuclear generation going on around the world is a major accident every thirty years all that bad?
  5. I don't know although it's not over yet, it seems pretty well contained considering how much damage it's taken...
  6. A second reactor at fukishima just exploded. I don't know how well contained it is...

    I agree with greenys and the left on most things except for this. I think nuc power is certainly an economically viable alternative to coal that can provide baseload power that minimises greenhouse gasses.

    IMO Australia is one of the safest places to produce nuc power. We have minimal techtonic activity and there is no danger in transporting nuclear material overseas. We also have vast uninhabited, ecologically insignificant, stable areas to dispose of the waste.

    I hope this doesn't disrupt the debate here, but I think we all know it will.
  7. Have to wait and see whether it is as bad as the media is making it out to be or not. There is a big difference between "detectable radiation" and creating giant, radioactive lizards. This is pretty much the absolute worst possible scenario for a reactor short of deliberate sabotage though, so if they do contain it safely it goes a long way to justifying nuclear power (at least based on rational argument, rather than emotive).

    Worth noting that there's been more than a few coal powered stations explode in the past, and they also emit a considerable amount of radiation daily (thanks to the uranium present in coal shales). Yet the only objection anyone ever has to those is the CO2 emissions.
  8. Also worth noting is that Japan has 54 nuclear reactors (source here), has just been hit by a colossal 8.9 magnitude offshore earthquake, and is facing the possibility of meltdown of two reactors at its second oldest plant located close to the epicentre, when one might have expected worse.

    In comparison, the most damaging earthquake Australia has experienced (in terms of life and property lost) was the 1989 Newcastle earthquake of 5.6 magnitude (source here). The most powerful earthquakes typically occur in WA. The Melb/Sydney region seems to be geologically stable overall.

    In Australia the biggest problems seem to be attracting the necessary investment, and educating an unintelligent public constantly subjected to scare tactics and disinformation.
  9. Yeah, I tune into 2GB to get news updates throughout the day. This morning, they were saying that it's a build up by media, 'experts' were saying that on a scale of 1 to 10, it's about a 4 and they also said to put it in perspective, it's about as much radiation as a hospital xray will give out.
  10. Actually I see it as an argument for it here:

    - We are never going to see an earthquake of that magnitude here
    - The nuclear disaster hasn't been that bad (not yet anyway and I do suspect they are not telling us everything)
    - The plant is an older design and newer designs are likely to be better
    - There will be lessons learned out of this for future construction

    I think a lot of people will be looking at and thinking "well it wasn't as bad as we thought it might be"

    Touch wood
  11. I think that (so far) for a forty year old plant copping the biggest quake to hit japan it's done well. So far the threat level is still one grade below Three Mile Island (which was never as bad as some of the anti-nuclear people hoped).
  12. If anything if we do go the nuclear way which I think inevitably we will we learn from all the ones that have had issues and build them accordingly, short of a volcano erupting underneath the thing it should be supersafe.
  13. They've already learned a lot from previous reactor designs. The Fukushima plant is a boiling water reactor (BWR) design:

    More recent installations in Japan are of the advanced boiling water reactor (AWBR) design:
    Which can be made far more resistant to earthquakes.

    And of course that's just two of very many styles of nuclear reactor:

    Most of the anti-nuclear groups seem to think that all reactors are the same, because of course very few people ever bother to properly research what they're vehemently opposed to. Far easier to just let someone else tell you why you're opposed to it.
  14. I'm on record as being anti nuke power stations, primarily from the waste point of view and also from the plant incidents / industrial accidents point of view.

    A few years ago, I was really interested in nuclear power pros and cons and had news feed searches active for several years. It was pretty interesting. New Nuclear power stations were on the boards in many places. Those same news feeds also recorded quite a few industrial incidents and a general decline in things over in the US. Some big fines were metered out. Coming from a heavy industrial background (petrochem & paper with ties to coal power), I could read between the lines and figured what I was seeing was tip of the iceberg stuff. It just seems like really big stakes stuff - sometimes the swiss cheese holes in the layers of protection line up disastrously.

    I fundamentally think there are strong base case reasons not to go nuclear, BUT I think it was JD who pointed me to a 2007(?) Oz government report, linked someplace on NR, which gave a big thumbs up to a very new reactor type. It had many advantages and few disadvantages - plus it solved many of the waste problems or significantly reduced them. I was quietly impressed and my stance to future nuke power softened a bit.

    IIRC the report concluded that it was the most promising type of reactor, that Australia should pursue it and take advantage of our uranium deposits, however it was still too early in technology's infancy and the anti nuke forces would take quite a bit of effort to convince, so don't do anything yet. It'd still be 10years between the go button and providing power though... not a quick fix.
  15. Rob, of all the countries on Earth to go nuclear Australia makes the most sense. We have a very large proportion of the world's nuclear fuel, the oldest and most seismically stable rock strata on Earth, ample locations for waste disposal, and also produce a substantial proportion of the world's mineral resources (which could be converted to metal here rather than overseas if power was cheaper).

    I've seen a very interesting proposal from a highly regarded expert suggesting building a nuclear reactor at Olympic Dam. This would be combined with a 20km exclusion zone which fuel and waste never leave, and only authorised personel would be allowed to enter (not that different from what currently exists with the Olympic Dam site). On the perimeter of this exclusion zone a wide variety of smelters and heavy industry could be established with a direct rail link to the port in Adelaide. The benefits to this country in terms of emissions reduction and GDP would be immense, the risks very minor.

    Lets face it, if countries like France and Japan can safely operate nuclear reactors in relatively close proximity to major population centres then setting one up in the outback of SA should be a piece of piss in comparison.
  16. Have you heard? I read in MX today that a volcano in Japan just exploded. Apparently this is the first major eruption of Shinmoedake volcano in 52 years.

    Damn the Japanese are seriously getting an onslaught.
  17. So they chose to ignore the January 19 and February 1st eruptions?
    Not really a surprise, far more exciting if you can somehow link it to the recent earthquake.
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  19. JD, they're (nuclear power stations) safely operated until they're not - which is the point... and then things can go FUBAR and remain FUBAR for a long time. That should give thoughtful people pause for thought... however I appreciate that it can be used to feed the fears of the naive.

    My concerns are fairly pragmatic ones. Nuclear power is under the same economic stresses that all industry is, with maintenance budgets under pressure and corners cut as a result - the incidents that make it into the public domain are just tip of the iceberg. I expect to hear of a major disaster or two before my time on this earth is done. Probably out of France.

    I get your point with the Olympic Dam example. The siting of a reactor out of sight is a double edged sword though because you need to pay well to get good people to go to the out of the way places (built in cost pressures), people turn over is high (continuity issues) PLUS getting parts and supplies for basic maintenance can be problematic. But you'd want the thing out of the way to appease the sensitive NIMBY's...

    Though France hasn't had any major incidents, I honestly think it will be a matter of time.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7522712.stm (one of the probably more trustworthy links, going back to 2008 so a bit old, but plenty more rabid links that could be listed)

    and France is definitely on the nose in some circles with respect to how they handle nuclear waste.

    Having said all that, I'm not against the nuclear proposal in principle with these latest types of reactors and very good engineering. Australia is pretty stable tectonically - it certainly has that going for it.
  20. Same here. I can accept that it's safe enough, that's fine. But people try and tell me it's green energy. Until you can dispose of the waste in a manner that has as little impact to the environment as a propeller knocking some birds out of the sky, it's just not green energy.