Monday, March 11, 2013

Fukushima revisited

A school with a radiation monitor. You will note the level at .0083. Assuming that's in Sv then the maximum regulatory exposure rate would be reached in about two days.

The two year anniversary of this nuclear power station disaster , but not one to celebrate such things, and the situation has little changed. In fact it is worse. Towns outside the contamination (exclusion) zone are unsafe to return to but for short visits.  Radiation levels remain well above any background levels meaning that these people will never be able to return permanently in their life times.

The sheer volume of contaminated material will make the "clean up" impossible for entire towns have been left uninhabitable for generations to come.

This was however an accident waiting to happen for you see the first three reactors were commissioned in the 1970s some 40 years ago. As anyone knows building materials have a life span. It's true that some concrete and steel can last for centuries but not when they're exposed to such high temperatures. That's why most nuclear plants are designed with a life span of 25 to 30 years. Not a very efficient use of money or materials when you stop to consider the costs to build one, operate it, then tear it down. It takes 10 to 15 years just to get one on line. Fukushima was starting to experience maintenance problems as early as 2009 with valves failing and automatic and manual shutdowns. Much like owning an old car that you're just not to sure if it will get you there. Add to that the relationship between the plant owners and the regulators that give oversight. Regulators get stuck between public safety and corporate profits. Too lax and there's public outcry, too strict and corporations cry foul. But nothing goes noticed until there's an accident and nine times out of ten it's because of greed, a company cutting corners to save a buck.   

This is the legacy of fukushima. Ghost town after ghost town never to see activity again. Eventually nature will take back what we screwed up but that will be a long time coming.


BBC said...

I suspect that monitors can be set to lie and read low.

Randal Graves said...

Someday, we and our green hair will be back to using simple machines only.

toko baju muslim murah said...

Very good article. Congratulations.thanks for that great info

S.W. Anderson said...

In our country most of the aging plants don't get shut down. Doing that costs upwards of $1 billion, with no return on that cost for the company or investors. So instead, they do some refurbishing and the government OK's the plant for another 20 years. Is that safe? I doubt anyone really knows, but I wouldn't be surprised if we were to learn the hard way that it sometimes isn't.

Unfortunately, having the smarts to create advanced technology doesn't equate with wisdom. Even if it did, the profit motive would probably trump wisdom.

billy pilgrim said...

that's why all the keystone protesters are nuts. they should be worrying about the old rotting and rusting pipelines rather than the brand new on being built with the most stringent safety guidelines.

Demeur said...

Stringent safety guidelines? HA! Tell that to BP or Shell or Enbridge.

Billy with all the fly by night subcontractors they use now I wouldn't trust them to build a mouse trap.

Yes SW profit always wins out and people usually die in the process.

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