Friday, March 11, 2011

This could go from bad to worse

In the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck it this morning, Japan appears to be having issues at one of its nuclear power plants.

Radiation levels are a staggering 1,000 times above normal around a Japanese nuclear plant after a deadly earthquake and tsunami damaged the cooling system, it was reported Friday.
Let's look at best case scenario here.  In addition to all of the issues the Japanese people are dealing with here, they're also going to have to protect themselves from localized radiation leaks and add the cost of cleaning it up to the the billions or trillions it's going to cost them to rebuild already.

Worst case scenario?  How about this?

 That's the reactor that blew up at Chernobyl, before the fire was out and the concrete containment dome was built.  The thing that worries me is that the West Coast of North America is downwind of this developing problem.  During World War II, the Japanese military used the prevailing winds to send firebombs on balloons across the Pacific to randomly bombard North America.  One or two may have gotten as far inland as Saskatchewan, which means pretty much any part of North America west of the Mississippi and north of the 4 Corners area can be reached from Japan just by floating on the wind.  Want to bet how far microscopic specks of radioactive fallout from a reactor meltdown in Japan would get on the spring winds over the North Pacific?  Remember, it was a radiation sensor in Scandinavia, almost 700 miles away,  that first clued us to the disaster at Chernobyl.  This stuff travels well.

Is the Fukosmima Daichi power plant likely to completely melt down?  I'd say not.  The government is reacting to the crisis already, and will most likely put this at the top of "Stuff to Take Care Of" list for the time being.  With Chernobyl, appropriate containment and mitigation were hampered by bad planning and a slow reaction from the Soviet government.  The design of the reactor is undoubtedly different, and one would hope that safety controls are better at Fukoshima than at Chernobyl.

Another thing that worries me is the impact that this will have on efforts to expand use of nuclear power in the United States.  I've always believed that the answer to our issue with imported petroleum will be to a large extend made up of nuclear power.  My gut tells me that if this gets bad, the anti-nuclear crowd will use this to club any nascent efforts to build new nuke plants into oblivion.

If you're a praying type, I ask that you keep the people of Japan in your prayers tonight, especially those who are risking their own health to contain this nuclear emergency.  Whether or not you're the praying type, please consider contributing to an organization, such as the Red Cross, which will be working to help those effected by this disaster in their hour of need.


KurtP said...

We're never going to have that kind of 'green' power.
Every time anyone tries to build or expand nuke plants the EnviroNAZIs come out in force.
France has nukes out the butt, and Japan- the one on the receiving end of two bombs has more than we do.

No matter how safe nukes are, Lefties will always use whatever they can to stop them.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

The best commentary on the nuc I've seen so far:

DaddyBear said...

Thanks Wing. Subsunk gives a good perspective on this. I wish this didn't happen to anyone, but if any has to deal with this, I'm glad it's someone as organized, resourceful, and talented as the Japanese. I don't think our government or utility companies would react as quickly to this kind of emergency.

Creative Commons License
DaddyBear's Den by DaddyBear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at