Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Ice Wall? Phase 2

Entire post from NHK below- with not one single mention of the ice wall.  Instead- the regulators think TEPCO really should DO something about the problem - since - they haven't.  They are doing a study, though!  Thank goodness.  Oh, and this press release points out they are still pumping water into the melted down reactors to cool them.  And the water then goes - where?  They're not sure.

"TEPCO urged to cut risk of radioactive water leak

"Japan's nuclear regulator has urged the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to reduce the risk of leaking of highly radioactive water from the facility into the sea, in case of another tsunami.

"About 60,000 tons of such water is believed to have pooled in reactor buildings at the plant. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is injecting water into the buildings to cool melted nuclear fuel, and groundwater is flowing into their basements.

"The Nuclear Regulation Authority instructed TEPCO at a meeting on Tuesday to urgently study measures to lower the amount and radiation levels of the water.

"The authority proposed 2 measures to TEPCO. One is building more tanks to store the water, even though the plant has about one thousand tanks. The other is treating the water using a system designed to filter out radioactive material, and circulating the water in a cooling system.

"NRA member Toyoshi Fuketa said the utility cannot keep the water in the buildings forever. He said TEPCO should handle the water problem either along with that of other radioactive water or first of all.

"Following the NRA's instruction, TEPCO is to report the results of its study at a meeting next month or later."

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Whole Truth About "Economics".

Buckle up.  Exactly how often these days do you have a chance at "the whole truth"??  But here it is.

A couple days ago, Ilargi over at The Automatic Earth posted a cartooned short lecture from "legendary economist Ha-Joon Chang" on - Economics.

Back in the dark ages of blogging, around 2008-2010, when I was posting frequently, I tracked the "rank" of my blog using the now extinct Technorati statistics.  I was pleased when I eventually ranked up in the top 4% (as high as I got, but darn good) - but surprised to find that their measure of my "authority"; a statistic I don't understand at all, had me ranked pretty high for ecology - but higher for economics.  What? A surprise to me; though both fields have the same Greek root in oikos, house, they notoriously don't talk much.

Apparently though, if you are trained in the study of resources, their uses, values, and flows - it becomes easy to notice when Economists are talking total nonsense.  Which is often/always; as every study has always shown.  Look up 'monkeys are smarter than investors" if you want to get into that topic.  Ha-Joon Chang has noticed the nonsense from inside the field - a considerable recommendation.  Take a look; not while you're distracted, because between the ironic narration and the double-entendre animations, this is packed tight:

Then; if you have the urge; take the time to search this blog right here for the simple word "economics".  You'll find I made many of the exact same statements about economics and economists, years ago.  Alas that I can't claim to be a legendary economist, though.  (No disparagement of Chang intended, I actually think he is truly brilliant - and speaks the truth.)

And the Moral Of The Story: according to both a legendary economist and Greenpa; Economics is a meaningless field of study.  Really.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Way Forward

At the moment, everyone on the planet is greatly afraid that we have no way forward.

I certainly don't know what will happen; but I do know these things: time will pass, we will change, and it is possible to try to find a "better way."

It would be good to remember at this point that History does have examples of times when we found a better way.  The abolition of slavery, for example and women's suffrage.  It would also be good to remember that both those events were painful; and neither resulted in completely solving the problems; slavery most certainly still exists, and many situations exist where great chunks of the populace have no say whatever in their governance.

But the effort was made; by millions of us, and the outcome was better.  Hang on to that.

A few more things we know.  In all cases where we found better ways, the truth, and fairness (not quite the same thing as justice) played major roles.  Truth, because any path based on untruth must fail by the laws of physics; and fairness - because somehow, we creatures of Earth are built to expect it.  Not only humans, but most species ever tested—primates, dogs, horses, crows, ravens— expect fairness, and resent its absence - sometimes violently.  (Google 'sense of fairness in ... ' if you want to check.)

Right now, our major social battles seem to be very short on truth, and very short on fairness.

There are some major truths we all know- which are not allowed to be uttered publicly.  Like.  Some police are racist.  All of them?  No.  But some, yes.  And the cops are not doing anything about it.

512 people have been killed in the USA by police so far this year; 990 were killed last year.  How do we know?  The Washington Post decided someone should look into the matter- since no federal agency keeps statistics on police related killings; nor do local police report them.  Here is the WaPo database.  59 police officers have died in the line of duty this year; 29 by gunfire.

Just so we know.

And - people, and parties, on all sides of everything — are afraid.  And fear makes us blind and foolish — and dangerous; to others and to ourselves.  Also untruthful; and unfair.

Just saying those things out loud, as part of the conversation, is a first step.  What to do about it can come later.

Speak truth.  Work for fairness.  I'm afraid.

If you're looking for common ground- there it is.

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Oh, you mean THAT ice wall. Well..."

"Since the ice isn't stopping the water, now we're going to pump cement into the leaks."

Um.  Hey, if cement was going to work, wouldn't it have been cheaper to just pump cement in the first place?

Nope, not going to work, either.  If water flow is reduced here- the pressure, and flow rate, will go up there- making a new leak in a place where the ice was - sort of- working.

Which is why they didn't try cement in the first place.  It's a game of whack-a-mole; where the moles dig new holes as fast as you whack.  But hey- we're doing something!


"TEPCO expands ice wall operations at Fukushima

"Tokyo Electric Power Company has expanded operations to create an underground ice wall at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to stop the volume of contaminated groundwater from increasing.

"TEPCO on Monday began injecting a liquid refrigerant into more pipes that make up the 1,500-meter wall surrounding 4 damaged reactor buildings. The operation now covers 95 percent of the wall.

"Groundwater flows into the buildings and becomes tainted with radioactive substances. Reducing its volume is a key to decommissioning the reactors.

"The operation started in March on the downstream side of the wall because lowering the water levels too much could cause tainted water to leak from the buildings.

"Workers began freezing the upstream side after making sure there were no leaks.

"The ice wall project still faces challenges. Ground temperatures have not fallen in some places, and groundwater levels outside the wall have not gone down.

"Also on Monday, workers began injecting cement into the ground where temperatures have not fallen."


Particularly fun is this bit:

"Workers began freezing the upstream side after making sure there were no leaks.

"The ice wall project still faces challenges. Ground temperatures have not fallen in some places, and groundwater levels outside the wall have not gone down."

Translation: They started freezing the other side after making sure there were no leaks.  But there are leaks - with no measurable effect on water levels anywhere.................

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"Ice wall? What ice wall?"

You can learn a huge amount about how to obfuscate everything using Public Relations, just by reading, sequentially, the press releases about the Fukushima "incident".

Today, from NHK (as usual, copied in toto here)  "They believe that water is leaking from a hole near the cooling system. .. Water injected to cool the melted nuclear fuel continues to leak into the reactor building."

And there is not a peep here, in this article about water leaking, about any ice wall, intended to stop water from leaking...

What they are not explicit about is that they are still pumping water directly on to the melted reactor core; in order to keep it from reaching "prompt criticality" - as soon as it's hot enough.  That's a little mini-nuclear explosion; not a bomb, but an actual chain reaction fission event powerful enough to blow the melted core all over the prefecture (and into the ocean).

So, we don't want that, do we, so, we keep pumping water in- and it keeps disappearing somewhere (i.e. leaking out- after having been in the reactor core... and not just "into the reactor building".

Oh, and, in the following story they neatly avoid mentioning that THREE reactor cores melted down entirely- they just want to talk about #2 here.  Oh, and, it wasn't really their fault; the reactor, and all its safety devices, didn't work right.  Can't blame us for a bad machine, now really.


TEPCO:Cooling water leakage likely caused meltdown

"The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says a water leak in the number 2 reactor emergency cooling system may have contributed to its meltdown.

"The plant lost power following a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11th 2011.

"The emergency cooling system began operating right away, driven by steam generated in the reactors. The system's pumps were designed to inject coolant into the reactors during an emergency.

"The number 2 reactor's emergency cooling equipment lost its function on March 14th, 3 days after the disaster.

"The exact cause of the failure remains unknown more than 5 years after the accident.

"Workers tried to inject water from outside, but were unsuccessful in cooling it down. This led to the nuclear fuel meltdown and release of radioactive substances into the air that spread across the region.

"Experts at Tokyo Electric Power Company analyzed the level of contaminated water inside the number 2 reactor, as well as the amount of leaked water.

"They believe that water is leaking from a hole near the cooling system.

"The experts suspect that cooling water began leaking from the system after the pumps had operated beyond the 8 hours for which they were designed.

"They believe the water leakage was the major cause of the reactor heating up.

"Water injected to cool the melted nuclear fuel continues to leak into the reactor building. This contaminated water is hampering decommissioning work at the plant."


We can all be grateful they continue to work so diligently on the "problems".

And actually; if you read the above in one particular way, what it says is: "The meltdown caused the emergency cooling system to break down, which caused the meltdown."   Yeah, it can be read differently; but.

The experts suspect.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

It's Official. The Ice Wall Isn't Working.

I'm going to just paste the entire article from NHK below, since they disappear so regularly and the links expire.

There was another TEPCO press release a week ago, which I did not repeat here; with the (approximate) headline "Ice Wall Is Proving Effective".  Actually, nothing in the article supported that headline; they were reporting that around 80% of measurements showed soil now at 0° C - ignoring all kinds of stuff like - 20% unfrozen is equal to - total failure.

"More measures needed for Fukushima ice wall

"The operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is considering conducting additional work to help freeze the ground around the crippled reactors.

"Tokyo Electric Power Company began freezing the soil in late March to build a 1.5-kilometer underground ice wall around the 4 reactors. The utility wants to reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings, because it becomes contaminated with radioactive substances.

"TEPCO says the ground at multiple locations along the barrier has yet to reach below zero degree Celsius and one checkpoint remain at around 10 degrees.

"It says those areas contain more gravel and that the accumulated groundwater may be hampering the freezing process.

"It is studying additional measures, such as pouring chemical compounds to solidify the ground, and will discuss its ideas with Nuclear Regulation Authority.

"TEPCO had hoped to expand by this month the areas to be frozen but say it will examine the timing carefully, taking into consideration the problem facing the project."


One specific point: "TEPCO says the ground at multiple locations along the barrier has yet to reach below zero degree Celsius and one checkpoint remain at around 10 degrees."

That would be where water is running fast through gravel, keeping the temp high- inevitable, as I predicted.  The more the water is constricted elsewhere; the faster this water will flow.  And there are multiple other factors that also still make this pointless.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ice wall won't work- will anything?

This post updated next day:

Comment on the last post:

 Lynx said...
I am wondering, do you have any thoughts or ideas about what CAN be done to fix/take care of the radiation problem in Japan? Things that will actually work.
April 30, 2016 at 6:11 PM

The answers are no fun; and scientifically "not established" - which is why they just gave up on Chernobyl and have tried to bury it in concrete; and keep people out of the contaminated areas.

General consensus among those who know is that Fukushima is at least as "dirty" as Chernobyl; it's just that the Japanese government spends most of its disaster funds denying that, so tourists won't disappear.  It's really bad.

Here are 3 really good links for you to dig in to- with the caveat that they all have unstated biases, and you need, always, to be reading between the lines.  But- here is very good information; like the actual cost of the ice wall, just the construction?  Around $330 Million.  Oh; and- to run the refrigeration machinery; for the next 200 years, at least- the wall uses enough electricity to power 13,000 Japanese homes.  Every day.

This is the Japan Times, Japan's largest English language newspaper, owned by a company that manufactures "automotive fasteners"...

That article was cited here: "Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years",,, —   in an online source that struck me as maybe a bit fanatical - until I saw their major supporting testimonial  comes from this guy:

Arnie Gundersen - a real, live, certified nuclear power engineer and past nuclear industry executive- who was the only one speaking up and speaking the truth during the primary Fukushima events.  He does tend to speak mostly technical answers- really technical. But he also does not speak with a forked tongue.  How do I know?  He pretty much always agrees with my own analyses from the data.  (That's supposed to be a joke; but it's also true.)

Quick bottom line?  The stuff in nuclear reactors is just way too dangerous for humans to ever deal with.  Do humans make mistakes?  The entire nuclear power industry is predicated on the idea that we can operate insanely complex machines - perfectly.  Forever.  The radioactive stuff inside will get out in time- and it has more time than we do- and then it's unbelievably dangerous.  Humans simply do not have ANY way to cope with it.  Japan is busy pretending to be busy- because they have no idea what to do.  Nor does anyone else.  Should have thought of this stuff before building all those reactors?  Nah.  "Trust us, we can make this work just fine."  According to the engineers hired by the guys making all the profits- which are huge for those doing the construction.

My solution?  Start shutting the power plants down, as fast as we can (just like Germany) - hopefully before the stuff comes out, via terrorist bombs, computer hacking, or stupidity- and then what can we do with it?

Not a single "repository" in use or planned is vaguely functional or adequate; it has to be "kept secure" - for 10,000 years.  Yeah really.

Here's the ONLY place I think we should put it: continental plate subduction trenches.  You put the waste into a scrap submarine (for example) - fill the sub half full of radioactives in sealed casks, the other half of the sub filled with lead - guide it into the deepest ocean trench you can find -which is also a subduction trench - and sink it as deep as it's possible to go.  A) terrorists can't reach it.  B) it's all so heavy, lead and uranium; that if it starts to leak, it's not coming out of the trench anyway, and C) geology will carry it, about 8 centimeters a year, down into the Earth's mantle; below the crust.  It won't be coming back to the surface for a billion years or so; if ever.  Guaranteed by physics.  Even the half-lives of that crud will be expired by then.

Why aren't we doing this?  Money.  This would actually be incredibly CHEAPER than anything else; but doesn't involve $Billions/year in very reliable income for the companies currently babysitting all the nuclear waste.  They love their jobs - put up a fence and watch.  And it's SO easy to scare folks with "oh, gosh, no, we should NEVER put it into our sacred OCEAN!!  Horrors!"

Not a great solution. But- probably better than anything else.  And not my idea- it's been kicked around for decades- and discussion is always quietly squashed.

Tripped on this today; the evidence for the "money" connection to bad nuclear waste storage:

Newsweek - an article on "The American Fukushima?" - by which they mean the old Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington; where plutonium for bombs was produced:

   "The 177 underground tanks were never a permanent solution, and the government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion, according to estimates, making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away."

Italics mine.  Really good profit margins; and zero risk, the taxpayers will pay for any cost overruns, delays, etc.  My off the top of my head cost for constructing guidable barges, loading the waste on them, and sinking it in the nearest deep subduction zone - a paltry $10 billon, perhaps.  Oh, and it could all be done in maybe 20 years; not 50, for another temporary "solution".