Archive for the ‘spinbuster’ Category

The argument that nuclear energy “has always been inherently safe” is absolutely wrong.

April 7, 2019

Fukushima, Chernobyl, And Three Mile Island Prove Why Nuclear Power Will Never Be Inherently Safe, March 22, 2019 By Grayson Webb, Maggie Gundersen, Blog Editor Recently, after Forbes Magazine published an opinion piece entitled, It Sounds Crazy, But Fukushima, Chernobyl, And Three Mile Island Show Why Nuclear Is Inherently Safe, a number of Forbes’ readers called and continue to write Fairewinds Energy Education to ask us if this opinion piece is true. Quite frankly, the article is an infoBefore we delve into the article itself, note that the author of the article, Michael Shellenberger, has a degree in cultural anthropology, not nuclear science or nuclear engineering, environmental science, or any other educational background related to the energy production methods and their impact on the environment, human lives, or the global economy. He is not a scientist or a doctor (don’t be fooled by his twitter handle @shellenbergerMD).mercial for the nuclear industry: it twists data in order to paint a rosy picture of nuclear energy.

Mr. Shellenberger is the president of a pro-nuclear lobbyist group called Environmental Progress that advocates for extending the life of the old and soon-to-be-retired nukes for an additional 40-years, even though each atomic power reactor was only designed for a 40-year lifespan. On its website, in addition to its pro-nuke work, Environmental Progress claims that they are independent and not funded by the nuclear industry because their only funders are Rachel and Roland Pritzker, of the Pritzker Innovation Fund (PIF). For those that are unaware, the large and extremely wealthy Pritzker family includes 11 billionaires. All together the various family members have a net worth of more than $30 billion!

The Pritzker Innovation Fund backs various pro-nuclear ventures and supporting nuclear energy is part of its mission. In fact, Rachel, the president of the fund, gave a pro-nuclear TED talk in 2015 using many of the recycled arguments the nuclear industry and the Forbes article relied upon. While Environmental Progress (EP) likes to claim it is independent of any financial manipulation, receiving money from a pro-nuclear foundation paints a quite different picture. While Environmental Progress is listed as a nonprofit, it just became a 501c3 nonprofit during the fall of 2017. Since it incorporated as a nonprofit so recently, there are no public financial 990s available to delineate what other corporations may underwrite EP’s astroturfing pro-nuke posture with large sums of nuclear industry money, and of course many individual nuclear employees may be donating with the encouragement of their employer incorporation and then could write it off as a tax-deductible donation.

Now that we’ve addressed the lapses in Mr. Shellenberger’s nuclear power engineering and environmental science education, let’s look at the false facts raised in his pretend science article.

First, this puff piece for Forbes Magazine tries to discredit the assessment of noted pediatrician and children’s advocate Dr. Helen Caldicott, who projected close to 1 million people died due to the Chernobyl meltdown. Mr. Shellenberger uses nuclear industry numbers to attempt to claim that the impact of Chernobyl on the environment and to all species involved was minimal, a typical follow the playbook created by industry lobbyists. However, independent scientific research published by the New York Academy of Science in a book entitled Chernobyl: Consequences of a Catastrophe for People and the Environment proves that Dr. Caldicott’s estimate is far more accurate than the fake data that Forbes Magazine allowed Shellenberger to promote. In Chernobyl: Consequences of a Catastrophe for People and the Environment the New York Academy of Science confirms and discusses the real scientific data as it was prepared and studied by Dr. Alexey Yablokov, Dr. Vassily Nesterenko, and Dr. Alexey Nesterenko.

A separate scientist, Dr. Yury Bandazhevsky, was jailed after publishing his scientific report on radiation induced heart disease in children. The disease, aptly named Chernobyl Heart, brought to light the cover-up by the Government of Belarus and has taught doctors around the world about the impact of Cesium, which is absorbed into muscles and damages children’s hearts and other muscles. Cesium also crosses the placental barrier and damages babies in utero. Dr. Yury Bandazhevsky was imprisoned for four-years in Belarus until the public outcry from the European Union sparked his release. He currently lives in the Ukraine where he continues his work.

An entirely different scientific study conducted by noted United Kingdom scientist Dr. Ian Fairlie, who completed his PhD at Princeton University, shows that 5-million people still reside in highly radioactive areas and that there has been an increase of 700% in cases of thyroid cancer and a 200%-500% increase in Leukemia cases. All one needs to do to see the lingering effects of Chernobyl and the damage that radiation has caused in Chernobyl is to look at the haunting photo gallery entitled Chernobyl Legacy: Radiation Poisoning taken by photographer Paul Fusco a little more than a decade after Chernobyl. Mr. Fusco also narrates a video of his photographs from his trip to help to provide context. There is also a short documentary by the name of Chernobyl Heart which chronicles the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the health of children in the area of the plant. The film won the Best Documentary Short Subject award at the 2004 Academy Awards. You can watch the heart wrenching film above. Unfortunately, instead of speaking truth to power, Forbes Magazine has allowed self-promoting industry data to be used in this infomercial while actually discarding real scientific independent peer-reviewed research.

Another discordant note that appears in the Forbes accepted opinion piece ­discredits real medical science in its attack on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimate of premature deaths caused by Chernobyl. In his published opinion in Forbes, Shellenberger claims that because the WHO uses the “linear no threshold” (LNT) model, its estimates are exaggerated. In a rush to meet the desired growth of major nuclear corporations, there has been a recent push by a fringe group of pro-industry scientists to change the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules away from LNT, thereby increasing the amount of toxic chemicals and radiation that industries in the United States would be able to place in products and dump into the environment. Unfortunately, this ill-informed science is popular with the current U.S. Administration. However, according to a recent story in the LA Times,

This view — that pollution and radiation can be beneficial — has many experts worried. The fact that such a position may become EPA policy, they say, portends a future in which corporate desires outweigh public and environmental health.

“Industry has been pushing for this for a long time,” said David Michaels, former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration who’s a professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University. “Not just the chemical industry, but the radiation and tobacco industries too.”

If the EPA ultimately adopts Calabrese’s proposed new regulations, researchers say it could change decades of standards and guidelines on clean air, water and toxic waste. It could also fundamentally alter the way the government assesses new chemicals and pesticides entering the marketplace.

“This is industry’s holy grail,” said Michaels.

Later in the Forbes Magazine nuclear industry sponsored opinion piece by Shellenberger asserts another falsity when it asks:

Why were they destroying Fukushima’s precious topsoil in order to reduce radiation levels that were already at levels far lower than posed a danger? Why was the government spending billions trying to do the same thing with water near the plant itself? Was nobody in Japan familiar with mainstream radiation health science?

The soil is being removed and the water is being purified because it is highly radioactive. The pro-nuke Environmental Progress organization claims it endorses mainstream radiation health science, yet it does not. The LNT (Linear No Threshold) model is mainstream science that has been repeatedly endorsed by scientific bodies like the National Academy of Sciencesthe National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and  the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

The next fallacy Forbes Magazine continues to market in this fake news pro-nuke industry promotion is calling the meltdown at Three Mile Island (TMI) a dream,

What about Three Mile Island? After the accident in 1979, Time Magazine ran a cover story that superimposed a glowing headline, “Nuclear Nightmare,” over an image of the plant. Nightmare? More like a dream.

The 40th observance of the March 28, 1979 meltdown at TMI begins tomorrow, Saturday March 23rd at the Pennsylvania State House and culminates in a presentation at Penn State on March 27th. The first of the commercial nuclear power meltdowns was anything but a dream for the real people living nearby. Many residents were exposed to high levels of radiation because the plant owners outright lied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, President Carter, and Pennsylvania’s own governor, so that all those government officials failed to issue a timely evacuation because they did not know that a meltdown was even in progress!

While the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission data claims that no one died from radiation emanating from TMI, independent research shows this is simply not true. Studies by epidemiologist Dr. Steve Wing show that cancer rates in the surrounding area significantly skyrocketed following the meltdown at TMI. You can listen to Dr. Wing talk about his studies and the implications from a video taken at the Pennsylvania State Capitol on March 26, 2009. Fairewinds Energy Education also has a video of the 38th commemoration presentation Arnie Gundersen gave in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on its website []. In this video, Mr. Gundersen discusses the significant errors in data claimed as accurate by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Yet Shellenberger relies upon the scientifically refuted data promoted by the NRC for his Forbes Magazine nuke power promotion piece.

The U.S. government was the first agency in the world to call for people within a 40-mile radius surrounding Fukushima Daiichi to be evacuated, which again the Forbes’ Shellenberger pro-nuke industry fiction claims was unnecessary. This unscientific hit piece by Shellenberger in Forbes Magazine goes even further to blame the evacuation itself for the resulting misfortune of the refugees – instead of accurately reporting that the nuclear power industry, the government of Japan, and atomic power with its daunting risks are to blame for the hardships faced by refugees and the communities surrounding the Fukushima site.

“While some amount of temporary evacuation might have been justified, there was simply never any reason for such a large, and long-term, evacuation. About 2,000 people died from the evacuation, while others who were displaced suffered from loneliness, depression, suicide, bullying at school, and anxiety.” The victims of Fukushima Daiichi and the hardships that they have endured during the past 8-years, as well of the physical and emotional traumas they have suffered, are facts the refugees will live with for the remainder of their lives. The fact that the triple-meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi was foreseen and preventable and proves that the blame should be firmly placed on TEPCO and the nuclear power industry for allowing TEPCO to get away without constructing the government mandated seawall. More than 1,000 years of documented history about tsunamis were ignored when an entire mountain side was cut down so the Fukushima atomic power reactors could be built near the shoreline giving them easier access to cooling water. Now tens of thousands of refugees are facing decimated cities and farms, and the destruction of their families and communities as they struggle daily to protect themselves, their children, and even their grandchildren from extensive radiation exposure. As Fairewinds peer-reviewed research shows, as well as a separate study, highly radioactive hot particles that are severely dangerous, are present in many parts of Japan and continue to be inhaled. As discussed in our recent blogpost Atomic Balm Part 2, even after areas have been cleaned of radioactive material, it is only a matter of time before radioactive particles born on the wind or washed down from radioactively contaminated areas migrate back.

The first problem is with the government of Japan’s clearance criteria that only areas in and around homes have been allegedly decontaminated. I measured radiation along highways and then 50-feet into the surrounding woods, only to find that the woods remained highly contaminated, so that when it rains or snows, or the wind blows the dust or pollen from the woods, that radiation migrates back to people’s supposedly clean and radiation-free homes. I went to the top of 4-story high rooftops in Minamisoma that had been completely cleaned and repainted following the meltdowns. These rooftops were recontaminated by dust on the wind, blowing in radiation from the surrounding mountains. Peoples’ homes and communities that were claimed to be clean are indeed being recontaminated every day.

Why on earth would someone willingly want to live with their families in an area known to have high levels of radiation that damage DNA and cause cancers and other long-term illnesses?

The nuclear power that originated with President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program is not what many people envisioned when the concept was first created in the early 1950s. Atomic or nuclear power, whichever moniker you want to give it, is extremely expensive, takes a long time to build, releases small amounts of radiation into the environment daily during normal operation, produces highly toxic waste with no proven technology for storing it for more than 100-years, and must be stored for 250,000-years until it becomes safe as normal soil.

For the last 70-years using nuclear power to produce electricity has unveiled all of its flaws and proven that it is not an energy source for the future of humankind because it simply is not up to the task.

The argument that nuclear energy “has always been inherently safe” is absolutely wrong. There have been five meltdowns during the last 40-years resulting in a ratio of one meltdown every eight years. Look at TMI, Chernobyl, or Fukushima; people have died, each disaster has been worse than the one before it, and at Chernobyl and Fukushima, once pristine farmland and entire cities will never be habitable again.



Busting Barry Brook’s uninformed propaganda about Fukushima nuclear disaster

November 3, 2018

Prof. Brook is probably, in my opinion, clearly very inadequate when he researches things such as nuclear industry. He claims academic privilege when he communicates his mere opinions related to a field he possesses no training or little training or qualifications in. He can’t have it both ways. The privilege which springs from his actual qualifications may give him status in other things on campus. Away from the lecture theatre though, his opinions of the nature of nuclear industry have zero academic weight….“I’m an academic and therefore I am right” does not wash with me

2003 saw Prof. Shimazaki speak at the first meeting of the government’s Disaster Management Council. This council formed government disaster policy. He urged the council to study the Jogan earthquake of 869 and warned the Japanese Trench could generate earthquakes anywhere along Japan’s Pacific coast.

since 2008 TEPCO management had been busy suppressing THE SAME CONCLUSION of grave risk of 15 metre tsunamis hitting the Fukushima coast, made by TEPCO’s own engineers using simulations and mathematics. 

Expert fore warning of the 2011 Tsunami Ignored and Suppressed by Nuclear Authorities. Nuclear Exhaust 12 Oct 18 

this post is in progress. Not finished.

I am again going to contrast the statements made by Barry Brook in regard to the tsunami defences at Fukushima Daiichi with the facts as presented by Mark Willacy. These facts are published in Willacy’s book, “Fukushima – Japan’s tsunami and the inside story of the nuclear meltdowns”, Willacy, M., Pan Macmillan, copyright 2013, Mark Willacy.

An interesting aspect of the work of Barry Brook is this: The views expressed by Barry are very frequently attributed by Barry to people who are, according to Barry, experts in nuclear industry. I have heard Barry’s public broadcasts in which Barry makes this attribution. I have not heard Barry give the names of his advisors and friends in the nuclear industry. However it is extremely likely Barry is correct in his attributions. Barry’s statements of opinions and claimed facts can reasonably be assumed to have been provided to Barry by unnamed – as far as I am aware – experts in the nuclear industry. The credibility of Barry statements ride therefore upon the credibility of the nuclear industry.

Of course it is no surprise to hear Barry Brook mirror the statements of nuclear experts from around the world in 2011. The narrative of the global nuclear industry as broadcast by the mass media and the narrative provided by Barry Brook were, as I recall, mutually re-affirming.

Here again is a selected, partial transcript of Barry Brook’s Australian ABC TV interview (please watch the complete interview at the youtube link

“Prof. Brook: “I think they (events) show the vulnerability of any human infrastructure to the forces of nature. Especially when they are unleashed with such fury as they were with that massive earthquake, the largest one to hit Japan in recorded times, and a 10 metre tsunami. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any infrastructure along a coastline like that to survive an event like that. But what it does highlight is that decisions were made back in the ‘60s, when that nuclear power plant was planned and built, they did not anticipate the scale of the natural disaster that occurred here.”

Prof. Brook: “They predicted up to a 6.5 metres tsunami and protected against that. But of course, as events turned out, the tsunami was even bigger than that………

In a previous post I pointed out that Willacy had found that Dr.Yukinobu Okamura, the director of Japan’s Active Fault and Earthquake Research Centre, had, in 2007, found evidence in the geologic record that the Fukushima coast had been hit by massive tsunamis in its past. (Fukushima, page 26)

I also pointed out that in 2008 TEPCO engineers using simulations and calculations discovered that tsunamis as high as 15.7 metres were possible at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. (Fukushima, page 29)

This discovery by TEPCO engineers was suppressed by TEPCO management from the Japanese people and Japanese government until 7 March 2011, or 4 days before the 3/11 quake and tsunami disaster. (Fukushima, page 29) (more…)

Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’

November 3, 2018

Science Direct 18 May 18 

Scientists refute Ben Heard’s paper opposing reneweable energy

November 3, 2018

Can we get 100 percent of our energy from renewable sources? New article gathers the evidence to address the sceptics LAPPEENRANTA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY 

Is there enough space for all the wind turbines and solar panels to provide all our energy needs? What happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? Won’t renewables destabilise the grid and cause blackouts?

In a review paper last year in the high-ranking journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Master of Science Benjamin Heard (at left) and colleagues presented their case against 100% renewable electricity systems. They doubted the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with so much variable generation.

Now scientists have hit back with their response to the points raised by Heard and colleagues.The researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and Aalborg University have analysed hundreds of studies from across the scientific literature to answer each of the apparent issues. They demonstrate that there are no roadblocks on the way to a 100% renewable future.

“While several of the issues raised by the Heard paper are important, you have to realise that there are technical solutions to all the points they raised, using today’s technology,” says the lead author of the response, Dr. Tom Brown of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

“Furthermore, these solutions are absolutely affordable, especially given the sinking costs of wind and solar power,” says Professor Christian Breyer of Lappeenranta University of Technology, who co-authored the response.

Brown cites the worst-case solution of hydrogen or synthetic gas produced with renewable electricity for times when imports, hydroelectricity, batteries, and other storage fail to bridge the gap during low wind and solar periods during the winter. For maintaining stability there is a series of technical solutions, from rotating grid stabilisers to newer electronics-based solutions. The scientists have collected examples of best practice by grid operators from across the world, from Denmark to Tasmania.

The response by the scientists has now appeared in the same journal as the original article by Heard and colleagues.

“There are some persistent myths that 100% renewable systems are not possible,” says Professor Brian Vad Mathiesen of Aalborg University, who is a co-author of the response.

“Our contribution deals with these myths one-by-one, using all the latest research. Now let’s get back to the business of modelling low-cost scenarios to eliminate fossil fuels from our energy system, so we can tackle the climate and health challenges they pose.”

For more information, please contact:

Tom Brown, Young Investigator Group Leader, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology |

Kornelis Blok, Professor, Delft University of Technology |

Christian Breyer, Professor, Lappeenranta University of Technology |

Brian Vad Mathiesen, Professor, Aalborg University |

The research papers for further information:

T.W. Brown, T. Bischof-Niemz, K. Blok, C. Breyer, H. Lund, B.V. Mathiesen, “Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, DOI:10.1016/j.rser.2018.04.113, 2018.

B.P. Heard, B.W. Brook, T.M.L. Wigley, C.J.A. Bradshaw, “Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, DOI:10.1016/j.rser.2017.03.114, 2017.

There’s money in denying the science about ionising radiation – it’s useful nuclear lobby spin

November 3, 2018
Recently, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) – scientists who provide guidance and recommendations on radiation protection under a mandate from Congress – supported the LNT model. NCRP analyzed 29 epidemiological studies and found that the data was “broadly supportive” of the LNT model and that “no alternative dose-response relationship appears more pragmatic or prudent for radiation protection purposes.”
In fact, the National Academies’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, the International Council on Radiation Protection, and other international bodies and regulators all use the LNT model for guidance and radiation protection.
Scientist-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, October 19, 2018 The Takata Corporation sold defective air bag inflators that resulted in the death of 16 people in the United States and a massive recall of cars. While it was rare for the air bags to fail, the brutal consequences of this defective device in even minor collisions was easy to recognize. But the effects of low-dose ionizing radiation – high energy waves or particles that can strip electrons from atoms and physically damage cells and the DNA within – on people’s health is much harder to see, and prove.
When the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency solicited the advice of a controversial toxicologist, Edward Calabrese, to consider changes to how it regulates radiation, it sent shock waves through the radiation protection community. Calabrese is well known for his unconventional and outlying view that low-dose radiation is not dangerous.It is important to note that the health effects of high doses of radiation are well established. We all know about the horrific effects based on studies of the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs were dropped. Then there was also the recent case of Russian defector Alexander Litvenenko who quickly sickened and died 23 days after being poisoned with the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in 2006.However, the effects of low doses of radiation are not well understood. Part of the reason is that these low doses are difficult to measure.

Current understanding of the health effect of radiation relies primarily on a decades-long study of the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks. That population was exposed to a one-time large dose of radiation, with individual exposure dependent on where they were at the time of the explosion.
In those high-dose radiation studies, researchers found that there is a proportionate relationship between dose and effect. The way the EPA gauges the effect of low doses of radiation draws from these studies as well as studies following other incidents. The current guidelines for the EPA adhere to what is called the linear no-threshold (LNT) model, which implies that even low doses of radiation have an effect across a population. Some scientists dubbed it to be a “reverse lottery,” where an unlucky few within a given population will get cancer during their lifetime due to their exposure to radiation.

There have been questions as to whether the LNT model is appropriate for measuring cancer risk from low doses of radiation. That’s because when the radiation-induced cancer rate is low, and the sample size is small, there is more statistical uncertainty in the measurement. This allows more wiggle room in putting forward alternative dose-response models such as Calabrese’s, which have little scientific backing but that promise financial benefits for regulated industries.

Overall, the general feeling in the radiation protection community is that for now until new research proves otherwise, the LNT model, because of the lack of understanding of the effect of low doses, is the prudent model to use to set protective limits.

Also, not being able to determine the effect of a low dose of radiation is a problem in measurement, not in the underlying linear threshold model. As doses of radiation decrease, fewer cases of radiation-induced cancers occur, making it more difficult to identify those specific cases.

This is especially true given that cancer is already a common occurrence, making it nearly impossible to disentangle radiation exposure from many other potential cancer risk factors. This is where the analogy with Takata air bags fails, because it is not possible to prove that a specific cancer death is due to ionizing radiation, but this does not make it any less real or significant.

Who profits if radiation guidelines change

The EPA issues guidance and sets regulations to “limit discharges of radioactive material affecting members of the public” associated with the nuclear energy industry. The EPA defines what radiation levels are acceptable for a protective cleanup of radioactive contamination at Superfund sites. It also provides guidance on the levels of radiation exposure that would trigger a mass evacuation. It is not surprising that certain stakeholders would welcome modifications in EPA assessment of low-dose radiation exposure given the high costs involved in preventing or cleaning up sites and in compensating victims of such exposure.

Recently, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) – scientists who provide guidance and recommendations on radiation protection under a mandate from Congress – supported the LNT model. NCRP analyzed 29 epidemiological studies and found that the data was “broadly supportive” of the LNT model and that “no alternative dose-response relationship appears more pragmatic or prudent for radiation protection purposes.”

In fact, the National Academies’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, the International Council on Radiation Protection, and other international bodies and regulators all use the LNT model for guidance and radiation protection.

From my perspective, as someone who has worked with radioactive sources, the EPA should be cognizant of the warning by the late Harvard sociologist Daniel Yankelovich that just because an effect can’t be easily quantified does not mean it is not important or does not exist.

The nuclear industry’s deceptive narrative about Fukushima earthquake in March 2011

November 3, 2018

The status of “Station Blackout” is a serious one.

“it will be many years before the Japanese people know exactly what happened at Fukushima Daiichi on 11 March 2011. One of the key mysteries was role, if any, the magnitude 9 earthquake played in damaging the plant’s reactor cooling systems. Until lethal levels of radiation inside the reactors fall and workers can carry out comprehensive investigations, the truth about the tremor’s impact will remain a subject of conjecture and contention”

Mr. Takamatsu states with expert authority that the pipes of cooling system ware not designed for the 50 second vibration of the magnitude quake. Barry Brook, kangaroo expert, disagrees and tells the world the quake caused no damage at Fukushima. Yet Mr. Brook must surely know the earthquake caused grid blackout. For reactors are all shut down by earthquakes. A solar plant would have kept generating until the last panel shattered. No one would have been evacuated from such a solar plant.

I submit that Prof. Barry Brook’s description of the effects of earthquake upon the Fukushima Diiachi on 11 March 2011 is totally ignorant of the facts as presented by many qualified experts and fly in the face of the independent commission set up by the Japanese Parliament (Diet). It is confirmed that expert investigators concern aspects of TEPCO’s explanations regarding the quake are “irrational”.

Thus any narrative based upon the nuclear industry view, in line with TEPCO’s may fairly be said to be “irrational”. For the industry view is that there is no possibility of quake damage to any structure or sub structure, such as coolant pipes and valves.

Earthquake Damage At Fukushima – is Industry’s Narrative Truthful or Certain? Nuclear History, 16 Oct 18 I am again going to contrast the statements made by Barry Brook in regard to the events and outcomes at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 with the facts as presented by Mark Willacy. These facts are published in Willacy’s book, “Fukushima – Japan’s tsunami and the inside story of the nuclear meltdowns”, Willacy, M., Pan Macmillan, copyright 2013, Mark Willacy.

However, I will also include information related to the events which were first published and discussed in 2011. ………..

The earthquake generated the tsunami. What else did the earthquake cause?

In this blog I have included posts which give the IAEA considerations for the electrical grids which are connected to nuclear power plants. The IAEA states that the level of engineering and resilience built into such grids may be a significant additional cost for any nation considering generation to nuclear power.

It comes as no surprise then the electrical grid connected to the Fukushima Daiichi NPP failed for two reasons. 1. The earthquake caused all the nuclear reactors connected to the same grid to rapidly shut down. Thus the earthquake caused a blackout due to cessation of electrical generation. 2. The physical grid infrastructure – poles and wires – were damaged by the earthquake. At Fukushima this meant that more than one of the reactors was physically separated from the grid by the earthquake.

It can therefore be seen that the earthquake meant A. Fukushima Diiachi could not generate nuclear electricity as the quake had shut the reactors down. B. The Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant was in Station Blackout for one reason: earth quake damage to nuclear infrastructure – the electrical grid.

The only hope for the quake affected nuclear plants (those in quake caused shut down, including Fukushima Daiichi) was the layered (defence in depth) multi systems which were supposed to the keep the reactors safe. These included A: Emergency Diesel generators. B. Rechargible batteries C. In the case of GE reactors, an emergency steam turbine attached physically to each reactor pressure. This turbine powered an emergency pump which pumped emergency coolant through the core via a part of the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS). D. Other ECCS systems. These systems included heat exchangers (radiators) located on the roof of each reactor.

It is at this level of hardware that we must look for physical quake damage to structures. Among the most vulnerable are coolant pipes. The status of “Station Blackout” is a serious one.

I will now turn again to Mark Willacy and the people he interviewed, as recorded in his book:

“But it will be many years before the Japanese people know exactly what happened at Fukushima Daiichi on 11 March 2011. One of the key mysteries was role, if any, the magnitude 9 earthquake played in damaging the plant’s reactor cooling systems. Until lethal levels of radiation inside the reactors fall and workers can carry out comprehensive investigations, the truth about the tremor’s impact will remain a subject of conjecture and contention…..” Wallacy, M., “Fukushima”, page 112.

In its public statements the nuclear industry is adamant that no nuclear disaster would have occurred had the plant not been hit by a tsunami so huge and so powerful that nothing could have been done from the late 1960s until February 2011 to defend against it. Because no one could imagine such a tsunami to have been a rational and predictable threat to the Nuclear Power Plant. Not even Barry Brook could imagine it. Apparently. And therefore, no one who, due to their relevant academic qualifications and experience, could imagine such a thing, would not be listened to by an industry which, since 1945, has claimed that it KNOWS EVERYTHING about nuclear reactors. The industry can’t imagine a tsunami which did occur, it can’t imagine piping and valve damage which might or might not have occurred, it can’t, despite the findings of the Ergen report of 1968 in ECCS and meltdown, imagine the mass production of reactor core meltdowns from a single event, and it claims everything done since has been roaringly successful. At the time of the disaster the British Chief Scientist claimed that the meltdown would be insignificant and would be of concern for just a few hours and for a few metres around the plant. Yet, five years after the disaster this was written in an academic paper by a qualified expert: “More than 5 years since the disaster, internal exposure levels on the order of several thousand or several tens of thousands of becquerels are still being detected in those who regularly consume wild boar, wild birds, wild vegetables, or mushrooms that are highly contaminated, with a frequency of about several persons per 10,000 people (Tsubokura et al., 2014).” Source: Exposure and current health issues in Minamisoma M. Tsubokura Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, 2-54-6 Takamicho, Haramachi-ku, Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan; e-mail: …………..

………. I turn again to Willacy’s book:

“Reactor 1 at Fukushima Daiichi was the first version [of its type] , and it is possible that its earthquake resistance was a little more vulnerable than the other reactors,” Naotaka Takamatsu. Takamatsu was the deputy general of the Seismic Safety Division of JNES, one of the main government agencies charged with carrying out reactor inspections.” (Willacy, Fukushima, pages 112 and 113).

Takamatsu spent the 25 years prior to that designing quake proof piping and other things for nuclear reactors. This included the piping systems for reactors 2 and 3 for the Onagawa Nuclear Plant. This person was Japan’s leading expert on the impact of earthquake upon nuclear power plants.

Willacy says this of Mr. Takamatsu “He was deeply concerned that not enough that not enough investigation into the possible damage caused to the Fukushima Daiichi reactors by the earthquake.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 113).

Willacy quotes Takamatsu thus : “TEPCO has not assessed how equipment … at Fukushima Daiichi shook during the earthquake and whether they were functioning after the earthquake or not…I regret this has not progressed….I just think they should make more effort.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 113.)

On the same page Willacy points out that the Japanese Diet (Parliament) had considered the question of earthquake damage. Willacy reports Takamatsu considers the piping to be the most vulnerable structures to quake damage in the reactors. “When an earthquake damages the piping, the system collapses. Then radioactive water flows out. So piping damage is a possibility, yes”. (Willacy, Fukushima, page 113, quoting Takamatsu.)

Water continues to be pumped into the Rukushima Daiichi reactors for cooling purposes. It continues to leak out as contaminated water. Only about a million tons of this radioactive water has been stored in the water containers at the TEPCO site at Fukushima.  The rest has flowed into the Pacific Ocean. Which is perfectly safe according to nuclear authorities. Such people appear to be the only ones happy about this. Then again, such people promised such an event would never happen. (See the NRC short history, the chapter entitled “The ECCS controversy”. Download form here: Search for “ECCS” in Chapter 2. Read from : “The report offered assurances about the improbability of a core meltdown and the reliability of ECCS
designs, but it also acknowledged that a loss-of-coolant
accident could cause a breach of containment if the ECCS
failed to perform. Therefore, containment could no longer
be regarded as an inviolable barrier to the escape of radioactivity.
This finding represented a milestone in the evolution
of reactor regulation. In effect, it imposed a modified  approach to reactor safety.” (Source: US NRC, “A short history of Nuclear Regulation 1946 -2009”, USA.)

If a pipe breaks, reactor containment could be breached. No wonder TEPCO and the rest of the industry is bothering very much to study the matters of critical interest. Is that why some of those water tanks had to be hurriedly erected at the Fukushima site? Why is the water leaking out???? Sill no worries, Barry reckons there is no quake damage at Fukushima Diiachi. There is no account of the tsunami damaging any aspect of the reactor pressure vessels or the attached fitments, including ECCS pipes.

It will take more than 3 decades from now before humans can tolerate the radiation exposure involved in entering the reactors. By 2050 the world may know what quake damage actually did occur on 11 March 2011 at Fukushima Diachi. The expert Mr. Takamatsu is one who is worried that the quake caused critical damage which made emergency core cooling systems inevitable. He cannot prove such damage occurred. He cannot prove it did not occur. He doesn’t know. He states TEPCO has not put the study in required to discern what damage was likely. Mr. Takamatsu states with expert authority that the pipes of cooling system was not designed for the 50 second vibration of the magnitude quake. Barry Brook, kangaroo expert, disagrees and tells the world the quake caused no damage at Fukushima. Yet Mr. Brook must surely know the earthquake caused grid blackout. For reactors are all shut down by earthquakes. A solar plant would have kept generating until the last panel shattered. No one would have been evacuated from such a solar plant.

Turning again to Willacy: “The (Japanese) Parliamentary report into the nuclear disaster found that one very violent tremor had shaken the plant violently for more than 50 seconds – far longer than than its design standard.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 114.)

The parliamentary report states that the safety agency NISA was “careless” and illogical in its conclusion that the quake had no negative effects on the reactor cooling systems. (bidi).

The parliamentary investigators needed to get inside the reactor building for reactor 1 to visually inspect the emergency core cooling system isolation condensers for quake damage. For “It was known that they (the isolation condensers) had stopped working soon after the quake hit, and that it was believed to have led to the early meltdown of Reactor 1. But TEPCO would have none of it. It would do everything in its power to thwart their inspection.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 114).

When parliamentary investigator Mr Tanaka questioned Mr. Toshimitsu Tamai about conditions inside the reactor building for reactor 1, Tamai stated that the building was in complete darkness. The was a risk of injury. They might stumble into a high radiation area, etc. TEPCO refused to guide the investigators in their inspection tour. Due to the evidence given to investigator Tanaka by TEPCO’s Tamai, the tour of reactor 1’s building and isolation condensers (part of the ECCS) was called off.

Willacy obtained a copy of the discussion between Tanaka and Tamai. Willacy’s observations of the exchange are compelling. Anyone who had to accept the statements of Tamai as truth could not allow anyone to enter the building.


“But, much later, Mitsuhiko Tanaka learned the truth. The building was not in darkness. The cover was not blocking the sunlight. Not only that, but a series of powerful mercury lamps had been installed and could throw as much light as the headlights of 40 cars. The investigators could have easily accessed the Reactor 1 building. TEPCO had misled the official panel appointed by the nation’s parliament.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 114).

Willacy goes on to describe Tanaka’s rage at being lied to by TEPCO. There are many people around the world and in Japan who share the rage, for repeatedly TEPCO and the world nuclear industry lied and gave false and inadequate narrative of the events. By now, most people will have forgotten about the mass production of a rank of reactors which all demonstrated ECCS failure and meltdown. Events predicted as far back as 1969 by non-industry experts and denied by industry experts, including government lackeys of the nuclear industry. I recall that when reactor 1 exploded, the Australian SBS tv news report of the event included the voice over of an “expert” from the Australian National University which stated “This is normal.” It doesn’t get much blacker than that. As for the danger of nuclear plumbing and loss of containment, Ralph Lapp explained that in the early 1970s in his essay in the New York Times.

Nuclear authorities must think the people of the world have the memory of goldfish. They are confident in their lies but there is very little variety in the way they go about things. They would have it that:

“in any sort of major accident in any industry there’s a period of introspection afterwards. Looking at what went wrong. Just like in anything in our lives. And trying to take the salient lessons and use that in future is a …I see the announcements of governments around the world to re-look at the safety of their current nuclear power plants. That’s an eminently sensible thing to do because you can look at all of the contingencies that they have allowed for and say well, what if the situation in Japan had happened to us, are we prepared? That’s learning from the lessons of history.” Source: ABC TV One Plus One: Barry Brook on nuclear power’s future after Fukushima, posted Published on 18 Mar 2011.

TEPCO is caught lying to the lead investigator of the Japanese committee charged with investigating the Fukushima nuclear disaster. How is this enabling ANYONE to “learn lessons of history” Prof Brooks? What is your bias and preference doing in this “learning” process? Are you simply so inculcated yourself that you can’t think independently? What are you trying to teach us? Is a nuclear compliant population so important to you that you feel contrary evidence can just be ignored by you as you “teach” the Australian population? You are not my lecturer sir. I am not subject to your assessment. As an Australian sir, you are subject to mine, to the extent that I can communicate with government and government bodies.

“TEPCO denied that it had intentionally lied but admitted ‘a mistake had made..’ But, by this time, the investigation commission had released its final report, without confirming whether the emergency isolation condensers had been damage or not. The report did rule that there was a possibility that pipes had burst during the quake, causing what is called a ‘small break loss of coolant accident’…” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 116.)

In the book Fukushima Willacy records TEPCO’s point of view. Based on its inspection of reactor (un fuelled) at the time of the disaster, TEPCO concluded that none of the reactors suffered earthquake damage. “The Parliamentary Committee dismissed ‘such results and conclusions [as] very uneliable’. (Willacy, Fukushima, page 117, reference 44. Which is: The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, page 26.

The Executive Summary of the report is here: On page 31 of the Executive summary the following is stated: “However, according to several
workers involved in the manual suspension of IC who responded to our investigation, they stopped IC (isolation condensor) to check whether coolant was leaking from IC and other pipes because the reactor pressure was falling rapidly. While the operator’s explanations are reasonable and appropriate, TEPCO’s explanation is irrational.
6. There is no evidence that the safety relief (SR) valve was opened at Unit 1, though this should have taken place in the case of an accident. (Such records are available for Units 2 and 3.) We found that the sound of the SR valve opening for Unit 2 was heard at the Central Control Room and at Unit 2, but no one working at Unit 1 heard the sound of the Unit 1 SR valve opening. It is therefore a possibility that the SR valve might not have worked in Unit 1. In this case, a minor LOCA caused by the seismic
motion could have taken place in Unit 1.” end quote.

I submit that Prof. Barry Brook’s description of the effects of earthquake upon the Fukushima Diiachi on 11 March 2011 is totally ignorant of the facts as presented by many qualified experts and fly in the face of the independent commission set up by the Japanese Parliament (Diet). It is confirmed that expert investigators concern aspects of TEPCO’s explanations regarding the quake are “irrational”.

Thus any narrative based upon the nuclear industry view, in line with TEPCO’s may fairly be said to be “irrational”. For the industry view is that there is no possibility of quake damage to any structure or sub structure, such as coolant pipes and valves. This is based upon TEPCO’s inspection of reactor 5, which was neither fuelled or hot at the time of the quake. TEPCO could have and still lcan examine the Isolation Condensers of reactor 1. As far as I know, it still has not done so. It has lied to the independent investigators in order to keep the investigators away from those condensers. At least that is my opinion of TEPCO’s motive for its claimed “mistake”.

Yet Prof Brook still considers the industry provided narrative the best one available for his purposes.

Interesting that. I would have thought the actual evidence would have been more important than the mere opinions TEPCO which him and everyone else wants and needs us to have. After all, it takes a lot of effort to suck local populations into the position where they trust nuclear industry. There is now a real problem in that regard in Japan.

And Port Willunga.

Another nuclear film advertisement – “The New Fire”

November 3, 2018

Film review:  ‘The New Fire’ and the old Gen IV rhetoric  Author: Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor NM866.4751, October 2018   The New Fire is a pro-nuclear propaganda film directed and produced by musician and film-maker David Schumacher.It’s similar in some respects to the 2013 film Pandora’s Promise.1,2 The New Fire premiere was held in October  2017 and it can be streamed online from 18 October 2018.

Promotional material claims that the film lacked “a supportive grant” (and celebrity endorsements and the backing of a major NGO) but the end-credits list numerous financial contributors: Berk Foundation, Isdell Foundation, Steven & Michele Kirsch Foundation, Rachel Pritzker, Roland Pritzker, Ray Rothrock, and Eric Uhrhane.

The film includes interviews with around 30 people (an overwhelming majority of them male) interspersed with footage of interviewees walking into buildings, and interviewees smiling. The musical underlay is a tedious drone ‒ a disappointment given Schumacher’s musical background.

A highlight is hearing Eric Meyer ‒ an opera singer turned pro-nuclear activist ‒ bursting into song at various locations around the COP21 climate conference in Paris in December

2015, while he and his colleagues handed out free copies of the pro-nuclear book Climate Gamble  Interviewees are mostly aging but the film’s main  message is that young entrepreneurs may save the  planet and its inhabitants with their Generation IV reactor projects. The film’s website states: “David Schumacher’s film focuses on how the generation facing the most severe impact of climate change is fighting back with ingenuity and hope. The New Fire tells a provocative and startlingly positive story about a planet in crisis and the young heroes who are trying to save it.”3

Schumacher writes (in the press kit): “These brilliant young people – some of the most gifted engineers of their

generation, who in all likelihood could have cashed in for a fortune by doing something else – believe deeply that nuclear power could play a key role in saving the planet. And they are acting on that conviction. They did the research. They raised the money. They used cutting edge computer technology to perfect their designs. They are the new face of nuclear power, and to me, the newest and most unlikely climate heroes.”

These climate heroes are contrasted with anti-nuclear environmentalists. One interviewee says that “people of our generation are the first ones that have the opportunity to look at nuclear power without all the emotional baggage that previous generations have felt.” Another argues that anti-nuclear environmentalists are “very good, decent, smart people” but the “organizational DNA … that they have inherited is strongly anti-nuclear.” Another argues that environmental organizations “have been using nuclear power as a whipping boy for decades to raise funds”. Another interviewee attributes opposition to nuclear power to an “irrational fear of the unknown” (which surely poses a problem for the exotic Generation IV concepts promoted in the film) and another says that “once people sort of understand what’s going on withnuclear, they are much more open to it”.

The film trots out the usual anti-renewables tropes and falsehoods: 100% renewables is “just a fantasy”, renewables can contribute up to 20% of power supply and the remainder must be baseload: fossil fuels or nuclear power.

In rural Senegal, solar power has brought many benefits but places like Senegalese capital Dakar, with a population of one million, need electricity whether the sun is shining or not. A Senegalese man interviewed in the film states: “Many places in Africa definitely need a low cost, reliable, carbon neutral power plant that provides electricity 24/7. Nuclear offers one of the best options we have to do that kind of baseload.” The film doesn’t explain how a 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant would fit into Senegal’s electricity grid, which has a total installed capacity of 633MW.4 The ‘microreactors’ featured in The New Fire might help … if they existed.

Accidents such as those at Fukushima and Chernobyl get in the news because they are “so unusual” according to interviewee Ken Caldeira. And they get in the news, he might have added, because of the estimated death tolls (in the thousands for Fukushima5, ranging to tens of thousands for Chernobyl6), the costs (around US$700 billion for Chernobyl7, and US$192 billion (and counting) for Fukushima8), the evacuation of 160,000 people after the Fukushima disaster and the permanent relocation of over 350,000 people after the Chernobyl disaster.9

Most people understand that it’s impossible for a nuclear power plant to literally explode in the sense of an atomic explosion”, an interviewee states. And most people understand that chemical and steam explosions at Chernobyl and Fukushima spread radionuclides over vast distances. The interviewee wants to change the name of nuclear power plants to avoid any conflation between nuclear power and weapons. Evidently he didn’t get the memo that the potential to use nuclear power plants (and related facilities) to produce weapons is fast becoming one of the industry’s key marketing points.

Conspicuously absent from the film’s list of interviewees is pro-nuclear lobbyist Michael Shellenberger. We’ve taken Shellenberger to task for his litany of falsehoods on nuclear and energy issues10 and his bizarre conversion into an advocate of worldwide nuclear weapons proliferation.11 But a recent article by Shellenberger on Generation IV nuclear technology is informative and insightful ‒ and directly at odds with the propaganda in The New Fire.12

So, let’s compare the Generation IV commentary in The New Fire with that in Shellenberger’s recent article.

Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor concept The film spends most of its time promoting Generation IV reactor projects including Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor (MSR) concept. [Ed note. recently failed and abandoned] .

Scott Nolan from venture capital firm Founders Fund says that Transatomic satisfies his four concerns about nuclear power: safety, waste, cost, proliferation. And he’s right ‒ Transatomic’s MSRs are faultless on all four counts, because they don’t exist. It’s doubtful whether they would satisfy any of the four criteria if they did actually exist.

Shellenberger quotes Admiral Hyman Rickover, who played a leading role in the development of nuclear-powered and armed submarines and aircraft carriers in the US: “Any plant you haven’t built yet is always more efficient than the one you have built. This is obvious. They are all efficient when you haven’t done anything on them, in the talking stage. Then they are all efficient, they are all cheap. They are all easy to build, and none have any problems.”

Shellenberger goes on to say:12 “The radical innovation fantasy rests upon design essentialism and reactor reductionism. We conflate the 2-D design with a 3-D design which we conflate with actual building plans which we conflate with a test reactor which we conflate with a full-sized power plant.

 “These unconscious conflations blind us to the many, inevitable, and sometimes catastrophic “unknowns” that only become apparent through the building and operating of a real world plant. They can be small, like the need for a midget welder, or massive, like the manufacturing failures of the AP1000.

“Some of the biggest unknowns have to do with radically altering the existing nuclear workforce, supply chain, and regulations. Such wholesale transformations of the actually existing nuclear industry are, literally and figuratively, outside the frame of alternative designs.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face,” a wise man once said. The debacles with the AP1000 and EPR are just the latest episodes of nuclear reactor designers getting punched in the face by reality.”

 Shellenberger comments on MSR technology:12

New designs often solve one problem while creating new ones. For example, a test reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory used chemical salts with uranium fuel dissolved within, instead of water surrounding solid uranium fuel. “The distinctive advantage of such a reactor was that it avoided the expensive process of fabricating fuel elements, moderator, control rods, and other high precision core components,” noted Hewlett and Holl.

 “In the eyes of many nuclear scientists and engineers these advantages made the homogeneous reactor potentially the most promising of all types under study, but once again the experiment did not reveal how the tricky problems of handling a highly radioactive and corrosive fluid were to be resolved.”

In The New Fire, Mark Massie from Transatomic promotes a “simpler approach that gives you safety through physics, and there’s no way to break physics”. True, you can’t break physics, but highly radioactive and corrosive fluids in MSRs could break and rust pipes and other machinery.

Leslie Dewan from Transatomic trots out the silliest advantage attributed to MSRs: that they are meltdown-proof. Of course they are meltdown-proof ‒ and not just in the sense that they don’t exist. The fuel is liquid. You can’t melt liquids. SMR liquid fuel is susceptible to dispersion in the event of steam explosions or chemical explosions or fire, perhaps more so than solid fuels.

Michael Short from MIT says in the film that over the next 2‒3 years they should have preliminary answers as to whether the materials in Transatomic MSRs are going to survive the problems of corrosion and radiation resistance. In other words, they are working on the problems ‒ but there’s no guarantee of progress let alone success.

Dewan claims that Transatomic took an earlier MSR design from Oak Ridge and “we were able to make it 20 times as power dense, much more compact, orders of magnitude cheaper, and so we are commercializing our design for a new type of reactor that can consume existing stockpiles of nuclear waste.”

Likewise, Jessica Lovering from the Breakthrough Institute says: “Waste is a concern for a lot of people. For a lot of people it’s their first concern about nuclear power. But what’s really amazing about it is that most of what we call nuclear waste could actually be used again for fuel. And if you use it again for fuel, you don’t have to store it for tens of thousands of years. With these advanced reactors you can close the fuel cycle, you can start using up spent fuel, recycling it, turning it into new fuel over and over again.”

But in fact, prototype MSRs and fast neutron reactors produce troublesome waste streams (even more so than conventional light-water reactors) and they don’t obviate the need for deep geological repositories. A recent article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‒ co-authored by a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‒ states that “molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues.”13 It also raises proliferation concerns about ‘integral fast reactor’ and MSR technology:

“Pyroprocessing and fluoride volatility-reductive extraction systems optimized for spent fuel treatment can – through minor changes to the chemical conditions – also extract plutonium (or uranium 233 bred from thorium).”

Near the end of the film, it states: “Transatomic encountered challenges with its original design, and is now moving forward with an updated reactor that uses uranium fuel.” Transatomic’s claim that its ‘Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor’ could “generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor” was severely downgraded to “more than twice” after calculation errors were discovered. And the company now says that a reactor based on the current design would not use waste as fuel and thus would “not reduce existing\stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel”

So much for all the waste-to-fuel rhetoric scattered throughout The New Fire.

Michael Short from MIT claims MSRs will cost a “couple of billion dollars” and Dewan claims they will be “orders of magnitude cheaper” than the Oak Ridge experimental MSR. In their imaginations, perhaps. Shellenberger notes that “in the popular media and among policymakers, there has remained a widespread faith that what will make nuclear power cheaper is not greater experience but rather greater novelty. How else to explain the excitement for reactor designs invented by teenagers in their garages and famous software developers [Bill Gates / TerraPower] with zero experience whatsoever building or operating a nuclear plant?”12

Shellenberger continues:12

Rather than address the public’s fears, nuclear industry leaders, scientists, and engineers have for decades repeatedly retreated to their comfort zone: reactor design innovation. Designers say the problem isn’t that innovation has been too radical, but that it hasn’t been radical enough. If only the coolant were different, the reactors smaller, and the building methods less conventional, they insist, nuclear plants would be easier and cheaper to build.

“Unfortunately, the historical record is clear: the more radical the design, the higher the cost. This is true not only with the dominant water-cooled designs but also with the more exotic designs ‒ and particularly sodium-cooled ones.”

Oklo’s sodium-cooled fast neutron microreactor The New Fire promotes Oklo’s sodium-cooled fast neutron microreactor concept, and TerraPower’s sodium cooled fast neutron ‘traveling wave’ reactor (TerraPower is also exploring a molten chloride fast reactor concept).

Oklo co-founder Jacob DeWitte says: “There’s this huge, awesome opportunity in off-grid markets, where they need power and they are relying on diesel generators … We were talking to some of these communities and we realized they use diesel because it’s the most energy dense fuel they know of. And I was like, man, nuclear power’s two million times as energy dense … And they were like, ‘Wait, are you serious, can you build a reactor that would be at that size?’ And I said, ‘Sure’.”

Which is all well and good apart from the claim that Oklo could build such a reactor: the company has a myriad of economic, technological and regulatory hurdles to overcome. The film claims that Oklo “has begun submission of its reactor’s license application to the [US] Nuclear Regulatory Commission” but according to the NRC, Oklo is a “pre-applicant” that has gone no further than to notify the NRC of its intention to “engage in regulatory interactions”.16

There’s lots of rhetoric in the film about small reactors that “you can roll … off the assembly line like Boeings”, factory-fabricated reactors that “can look a lot like Ikea furniture”, economies of scale once there is a mass market for small reactors, and mass-produced reactors leading to “a big transition to clean energy globally”. But first you would need to invest billions to set up the infrastructure to mass produce reactors ‒ and no-one has any intention of making that investment. And there’s no mass market for small reactors ‒ there is scarcely any market at all.17

TerraPower   TerraPower is one step ahead of Transatomic and Oklo ‒ it has some serious funding. But it’s still a long way off ‒ Nick Touran from TerraPower says in the film that tests will “take years” and the company is investing in a project with “really long horizons … [it] may take a very long time”.

TerraPower’s sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor remains a paper reactor. Shellenberger writes:12

“In 2008, The New Yorker profiled Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft executive, on his plans to re-invent nuclear power with Bill Gates. Nuclear scientist Edward “Teller had this idea way back when that you could make a very safe, passive nuclear reactor,” Myhrvold explained. “No moving parts. Proliferation-resistant. Dead simple.”

“Gates and Myhrvold started a company, Terrapower, that will break ground next year in China on a test reactor. “TerraPower’s engineers,” wrote a reporter recently, will “find out if their design really works.”

“And yet the history of nuclear power suggests we should have more modest expectations. While a nuclear reactor “experiment often produced valuable clues,” Hewlett and Holl wrote, “it almost never revealed a clear pathway to success.” …

“For example, in 1951, a reactor in Idaho used sodium rather than water to cool the uranium ‒ like Terrapower’s design proposes to do. “The facility verified scientific principles,” Hewlett and Holl noted, but “did not address the host of extraordinary difficult engineering problems.” …

“Why do so many entrepreneurs, journalists, and policy analysts get the basic economics of nuclear power so terribly wrong? In part, everybody’s confusing nuclear reactor designs with real world nuclear plants. Consider how frequently advocates of novel nuclear designs use the future or even present tense to describe qualities and behaviors of reactors when they should be using future conditional tense.

“Terrapower’s reactor, an IEEE Spectrum reporter noted “will be able to use depleted uranium … the heat will be absorbed by a looping stream of liquid sodium … Terrapower’s reactor stays cool”.

 “Given that such “reactors” do not actually exist as real world machines, and only exist as computer-aided designs, it is misleading to claim that Terrapower’s reactor “will” be able to do anything. The appropriate verbs for\ that sentence are “might,” “may,” and “could.” …

“Myhrvold expressed great confidence that he had proven that Terrapower’s nuclear plant could run on nuclear waste at a low cost. How could he be so sure? He had modeled it. “Lowell and I had a month-long, no-holdsbarred nuclear-physics battle. He didn’t believe waste would work. It turns out it does.” Myhrvold grinned. “He concedes it now.”

 “Rickover was unsparing in his judgement of this kind of thinking. “I believe this confusion stems from a failure to distinguish between the academic and the practical,” he wrote. “The academic-reactor designer is a dilettante. He has not had to assume any real responsibility in connection with his projects. He is free to luxuriate in elegant ideas, the practical shortcomings of which can be relegated to the category of ‘mere technical details.””

Authorities deceive the public on radiation from Fukushima Daiichi

October 9, 2018
Dr Yamashita is only one among a host of politicians, bureaucrats, experts and advertising and media consultants who support the post-3.11 safety mantra of anshin (secure 安心), anzen (safe 安全), fukkō (recovery 復 興). Through public meetings, media channels, education manuals and workshops,54 local citizens in Fukushima Prefecture were inundated with optimistic and reassuring messages.
At the same time, to reduce ‘radiophobia’ and anxiety, while focusing on the psychological impact from stress, health risks from radiation exposures have been trivialised and/or normalised for the general public.
This approach is backed up by international nuclear-related agencies. As stipulated on 28 May 1959 in the ‘WHA12-40’ agreement, the WHO is mandated to report all data on health effects from radiation exposures to the IAEA, which controls publication.
Nevertheless, it is no longer possible to ignore a significant body of research, including 20 years of scientific studies compiled in Belarus and Ukraine that show serious depopulation, ongoing illnesses and state decline.

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management Adam Broinowski {extensive footnotes and references on original]  September 2018, “……… (Official Medicine: The (Il)logic of Radiation Dosimetry On what basis have these policies on radiation from Fukushima Daiichi been made? Instead of containing contamination, the authorities have mounted a concerted campaign to convince the public that it is safe to live with radiation in areas that should be considered uninhabitable and unusable according to internationally accepted standards. To do so, they have concealed from public knowledge the material conditions of radiation contamination so as to facilitate the return of the evacuee population to ‘normalcy’, or life as it was before 3.11. This position has been further supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which stated annual doses of up to 20 mSv/y are safe for the total population including women and children.43 The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) also asserted that there were no ‘immediate’ radiation related illnesses or deaths (genpatsu kanren shi 原発 関連死) and declared the major health impact to be psychological.

While the central and prefectural governments have repeatedly reassured the public since the beginning of the disaster that there is no immediate health risk, in May 2011 access to official statistics for cancer-related illnesses (including leukaemia) in Fukushima and southern Miyagi prefectures was shut down. On 6 December 2013, the Special Secrets Protection Law (Tokutei Himitsu Hogo Hō 特定秘密保護法) aimed at restricting government employees and experts from giving journalists access to information deemed sensitive to national security was passed (effective December 2014). Passed at the same time was the Cancer Registration Law (Gan Tōroku Hō 癌登録法), which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues including evaluation of medical data obtained through screenings, and denied public access to certain medical records, with violations punishable with a 2 million yen fine or 5–10 years’ imprisonment. In January 2014, the IAEA, UNSCEAR and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University (FMU) signed a confidentiality agreement to control medical data on radiation. All medical personnel (hospitals) must submit data (mortality, morbidity, general illnesses from radiation exposures) to a central repository run by the FMU and IAEA.44 It is likely this data has been collected in the large Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation, which opened in Minami-Sōma in late 2015 to communicate ‘accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety’. This official position contrasts with the results of the first round of the Fukushima Health Management Survey (October 2011 – April 2015) of 370,000 young people (under 18 at the time of the disaster) in Fukushima prefecture since 3.11, as mandated in the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act (June 2012).45 The survey report admitted that paediatric thyroid cancers were ‘several tens of times larger’ (suitei sareru yūbyōsū ni kurabete sūjūbai no ōdā de ōi 推定される有病数に比べて数十倍の オーダーで多い) than the amount estimated.46 By 30 September 2015, as part of the second-round screening (April 2014–March 2016) to be conducted once every two years until the age of 20 and once every five years after 20, there were 15 additional confirmed thyroid cancers coming to a total of 152 malignant or suspected paediatric thyroid cancer cases with 115 surgically confirmed and 37 awaiting surgical confirmation. Almost all have been papillary thyroid cancer with only three as poorly differentiated thyroid cancer (these are no less dangerous). By June 2016, this had increased to 173 confirmed (131) or suspected (42) paediatric thyroid cancer cases.47

The National Cancer Research Center also estimated an increase of childhood thyroid cancer by 61 times, from the 2010 national average of 1–3 per million to 1 in 3,000 children. (more…)

Desperate nuclear lobby goes bananas over bananas

October 9, 2018

The pro-nuclear lobby goes bananas

Saudi Arabia and crimes against humanity

May 11, 2018

Is Saudi Arabia also amongst the terrorists? 

The News, Nigeria Dec 1 2017 By Owei Lakemfa.

I am fascinated by Saudi Arabia. It does not care what others say or think. It simply pursues its own goals and policies, submitting to no other than its master, the United States of America. To it, women are legally inferior to men and no amount of human or women rights campaigns will change that………

When I was in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body, there were constant complaints against Saudi Arabia violating all known labour laws against migrant workers. They simply sack or deport tens of thousands especially Indians, Filipinos, Ethiopians and Pakistanis, without paying them backlog of salaries. In one operation, after rounding up migrant workers for deportation without salaries, the Saudis simply forgot them for days, leaving them stranded without water or food.

Many do not sanction capital punishment, but for the Saudis, it is a way of life. A human being can be beheaded for a sundry of reasons including murder, treason, espionage and rape. But there are others like apostasy and blasphemy. If you are an atheist, and so disclose, your head is severed. It is difficult to prove sorcery and witchcraft, but if a person is in possession of talisman, according to the Saudis, he is guilty, and is a candidate for execution. Execution is primarily, beheading with a sword called SULTHAN and the most infamous star in that art is Muhammad Saad al-Beshi, who described his first execution in 1998: “The criminal was tied and blindfolded. With one stroke of the sword I severed his head. It rolled metres away…People are amazed how fast [the sword] can separate the head from the body.”……….

the Israeli Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz disclosed that Israel had held covert meetings with Saudi Arabia on how to jointly fight Iran. There is no love lost between Saudi Arabia which sees itself as the custodian of the Sunni Movement, and Iran which sees itself as the guardian of the Shiite Movement. So can this be the policy of ‘My enemy’s enemy, is my friend’? It should come as a surprise that a Muslim country is working out an alliance with a Jewish state to attack a sister Muslim country.

Saudi Arabia does not waste time rolling out its military might to achieve political goals. For this, it invaded Bahrain in 1994, and when there was a popular revolt against the Al-Khalifa Monarchy, Saudi Arabia on March 14, 2011, again invaded Bahrain and crushed the protests.

But it is in Yemen Saudi Arabia has most displayed it its military prowess. There had been an uprising against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A combination of Houthi rebels and Yemeni military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had removed Hadi. An angry Saudi Arabia fell on Yemen bombing large parts into near extinction. Everything is game to the Saudi bombers which first obliterated schools and hospitals then turned its fury on any gathering; markets, weddings, even funerals. It also imposed a blockade. Over 12,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed. 3.3 million children and nursing mothers are suffering from acute malnutrition, and cholera is rampant, yet Saudi Arabia and its allies will not relent. The cemeteries are over flowing so much that a good foreign investment in Yemen would be the building of new cemeteries.

Nobody is talking about crimes against humanity because the Saudis have powerful friends in the United Nations and “international community’ Many want a slice of the huge Saudi arms budget. When American President Donald Trump visited Riyadh this May, he smiled home with a $350 Billion arms contract for his country. With this, it was not difficult to get America endorse Saudi Arabia’s illegal blockade and sanctions against tiny Qatar who was told to either accept a 13-Point Saudi Demand including the closure of Al Jazeera, or face annihilation……….