Fire at fourth reactor complicates effort of last 50 workers to cool multiple nuclear plants

Reuters: Japan crisis now seen worse than Three Mile Island

A second fire was discovered Wednesday in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the latest in a series of setbacks at the stricken plant that has heightened fears that the incidents could lead to widespread radiation contamination.

The 50 workers who have stayed behind to stave off catastrophe are true heroes.  But they now have 6 reactors to focus on.

As the NYT reported 8:39 pm EDT, beyond the “the three stricken reactors, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, where overheated fuel rods continued to boil away the water at a brisk pace” during much of the day, “Concern remained high about the storage pools at that [4th] reactor and at two other reactors, Nos. 5 and 6.”

For Japan news junkies, here is the live stream from NHK WORLD TV, a 24-hour English language news channel:

Streaming .TV shows by Ustream

It can get quite repetitious, but I suppose that’s the point.

If you want more background on the issue of the spent fuel ponds, here is the audio of a news conference from Monday, which I thought was pretty good.

Reuters posted a piece at 8:51 pm EDT, “Analysis: Japan nuclear crisis now seen worse than Three Mile,” which I think was kind of obvious by Monday morning:

Conditions at a stricken nuclear power plant in Japan have deteriorated so much that there is a growing consensus the crisis is greater than the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, and there are fears that it could get significantly worse.

Academics and nuclear experts agree that the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors are grave, and the solutions being proposed are last-ditch efforts to stem what could well be remembered as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

All six reactors at the complex have problems — be it blown-out roofs, potentially cracked containment structures, exposed fuel rods or just the risk of explosion that has been great enough to force emergency measures.

Of particular concern are a fire in a massive pool holding spent atomic fuel rods and a blast at the building housing the pool and reactor No.4. The pool is exposed to the elements unlike the reactor core which is protected in steel and concrete.

“I would say that it has now eclipsed the Three Mile Island accident but it is not a Chernobyl,” said Keith Holbert, director of the Nuclear Power Generation Program at Arizona State University and an associate professor there….

Several experts said that Japanese authorities were underplaying the severity of the incident, particular on a scale called INES used to rank nuclear incidents. The Japanese have so far rated the accident a four on a one-to-seven scale against Three Mile at a five and Chernobyl at a seven….

“This is a slow-moving nightmare,” said Dr Thomas Neff, a research affiliate at the Center for International Studies, which is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This could be a five or a six — it’s premature to say since this event is not over yet.”

Experts said that international politics is starting to become evident in the international pressure being put on the Japanese. France’s nuclear safety authority ASN said Tuesday it should be classed as a level-six incident.

So right now there are 50 exhausted and probably irradiated workers standing between the world and another Chernobyl.

44 Responses to Fire at fourth reactor complicates effort of last 50 workers to cool multiple nuclear plants

  1. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    My thoughts go these workers, who have most likely sacrificed their lives at this point, if they’re irradiated. It may hit them sooner or later, but major health complications they will most likely have.

    This will also contribute to qualified hands-on people running from the industry, lest they suffer a similar fate.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    They briefly mentioned to use boric acid and helicopters.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    You could have a ship “evergreen”, stuffed with water pumps and cover the cluster. This is in everybody interest because smoke and fire means high altitudes with radioactive particles.

  4. adelady says:

    Not so sure about people avoiding this particular danger. Plenty of people work as firefighters, and in Australia, volunteer for very dangerous work in local fire and emergency response groups.

  5. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:


    Not the same kind of danger. You can escape from fire, but radiation is forever.

  6. for our international friends: Germany has just shut down 7 of its 17 nuclear power plants. As far as we see the lights are still on and the trains are running. Seems like our economy is surviving without. Wouldn’t it be interesting to try the same in other places?

  7. Zetetic says:

    Per the New York Times, things may have just gotten worse. The workers have been puled due increasing radiation levels.

    Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, is holding a news conference that is being broadcast live on Japanese television. Mr. Edano said radiation readings started rising rapidly Wednesday morning outside the front gate of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “All the workers there have suspended their operations. We have urged them to evacuate, and they have,” he said, according to a translation by NHK television.

    Latest Updates on Japan’s Nuclear Crisis and Earthquake Aftermath

    Here is a Petition for USA registered voters to ask Obama to stop any further nuclear development and to use renewables instead and end nuclear subsidies.
    End Taxpayer Subsidies for Nuclear Power
    Petition to President Obama

  8. Joan Savage says:

    In the US, many nuclear plant operators got their training on nuclear submarines. Two personal friends who worked in nuclear safety came from EMT (ambulance) experience and from the US Air Force, respectively. They are true-blue go-down-with-the-ship kind of folk, the best.

    They get stuck with the design flaws. I find it hard to adequately express my contempt for the stupidity of putting the diesel generator controls in a vulnerable location. The 1923 tsunami had reached 35 feet, so there was no excuse for pretending there could not be a similar repeat event. It is also reprehensible to keep a plant going at 40 years when it was designed to be retired at 25, which compounded the generic problem of accumulated nuclear waste.

    My heart goes out to the valiant 50 and their families. They don’t deserve to have to give their lives just because others have blundered.

  9. fliptop says:

    oh sorry, my previous post which remains in moderation had what I thought was a link to fukushima, but instead was a link I believe to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station monitoring stations, which also have wild fluctuations in radiation. As I said, we are not getting complete infromation…

  10. Deborah Stark says:

    As Zetetic indicated above, the last 50 workers have just been pulled from the Fukushima reactor site. It is difficult to imagine what is going to happen over the next 24 hours. It’s going to be a long night.

    I’m opposed to nuclear power plants as an answer to our “energy” problem and always have been – and for exactly the reasons we are seeing so graphically demonstrated in Japan. As far as I’m concerned the current situation is simply beyond the capacity of even the most advanced of the world’s scientists and engineers to control. That is the point. Human beings cannot control everything and it’s about time we realized that.

  11. fliptop says:

    Kashiwazaki is directly opposite Fukushima, on the other side, west coast of the island

  12. Zetetic says:

    Some good news.
    It appears that the initial report that the all of the workers may have pulled off the site was incorrect. At least there are still brave people there trying to get things from getting any worse.

  13. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    It is indeed a tragedy this Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The rescue operations by Japanese Government and public is great.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  14. adelady says:

    It wasn’t a mistake – they did leave, they’ve now allowed them to go back

    Ominous. You and I and many others might see it that way. There are some who’d be willing to take such a risk – obviously not as many as those who prefer the urgency of fire or law enforcement or emergency response, but some.

  15. paulm says:

    whats the probability of a separate nuclear incident happening somewhere else due to another earthquake event?

    The last major incident for Japan was not long ago….2007 only 4yrs ago.
    Seems to me Japan really should shutdown all their N-plants as soon as possible.

  16. The media, for its own interest of gathering viewers and readers is blowing up the nuclear tragedy in Japan above any justification. The public is fearful of nuclear power because they still feel it is similar to a nuclear explosion. It is not. Nuclear explosion can not occur in nuclear power stations. The explosions at the nuclear plants are pressure explosions from either high pressure steam, or other gases created in the aftermath of the loss of cooling waters. The danger is from release of radiation material.

    Here is some background:
    Japan was very sensible in developing nuclear power since they have no energy sources of their own. They produced 30% of their electricity from nuclear power, the rest mostly coal. Japan is the largest coal importer in the world and depends on the Australians to sell it to them, and the US to secure the oceans. In addition, all their oil come from the unstable Middle East which Iran can stop at will by controlling the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
    In addition, much of Japan’s economy depends on both raw material inputs and energy inputs from not always a stable world.

    Looking at all of these, the Japanese wanted some energy security by producing their some of their own electric power. True the nuclear material comes from abroad but you can store several years’ supplies in Japan itself, thus approaching some measure of control on their electricity.
    With all of these considerations you can not fault the Japanese for relying also on nuclear power.
    They might have done better if they designed and built their nuclear safety systems to be more self-sufficient and less easily destroyed by a Tsunami. The magnitude of the earthquake was also beyond expectation being one of the largest in recorded history. More recent nuclear plants have higher level of backup safety systems than the Japanese may have. New nuclear plants will incorporate the lesson of this tragedy. The damage to Japan would be much larger from its economic slow down due to this event than from these unfortunate nuclear accidents.

    China and India will increase their reliance on nuclear power to satisfy the increase demand for their impoverished population.
    We in the US will be one of the few large nations that want to reduce our nuclear power. And it is a mistake. We will simply increase the amount of CO2 over the globe in the process.

    Think about the total global picture. Think about the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gases. Try to subdue the raw emotions regarding nuclear power to assess the positive global impact of nuclear power. It is beyond this review now. Think how many thousands of people have died from this earthquake and its tsunamis? The amount suffering from the nuclear release would be considerably smaller than the total suffering. Almost half a million people, again, half a million people died from the tsunamis after the 2004 Sumatra earthquake. Hundred of thousands died in Haiti without nuclear power.

    We need to look at it in global terms and the green alternatives we dream about but are not real, at least for the foreseeable future. And we are doing nearly nothing to reduce our energy waste via conservation and efficiency- the most cost-effective and easily available economical approaches.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    This handout picture, released from Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on March 16, 2011 shows damaged third (L) and fourth reactors of the TEPCO Fukushima No.1 power plant in Fukushima north of Tokyo. A fresh fire broke out at the quake-hit Japanese atomic power plant in Fukushima early on March 16, compounding Japan’s nuclear crisis.

  18. Anne says:

    The coverage on MSNBC has been superb, I think – very impressive. Arnold Gunderson, Frank Von Hippel, Bob Alzarez, and others explain very clearly what is happening. Rachel Maddow’s program last night (March 15) was worth downloading and playing as an educational tool for your kids, as her explanation of how nuclear power works is simple and clear and interesting. The spokespersons for Beyond Nuclear are also very good. The US is getting a long overdue education on the perils of nuclear power, at a good time. It is time to take another hard look at nuclear, out in the open. I must add this — Mitch McConnell’s statement that an emergency is not the time to be making energy policy cracked me up, as the 9-11 emergency was used as the perfect excuse to pass the Patriot Act. Hypocrites!

  19. Anne says:

    Correction – Bob Alvarez!

  20. Paul K2 says:

    There have been roughly 450 commercial nuclear reactors in the world. There were four destroyed at Chernobyl, one in Slovakia, one in Pennsylvania, and now at least three in Fukushima, for a total of nine destroyed. Of the nuclear plants over half are less than 30 years old, and the expected life for most of these plants (after the operating licenses are extended) is between 50 to 60 years.

    The failure rate is thus 2% per 30 years, or almost 4% per operating lifetime. So a nuke has about one chance of 25 that it will destroyed before decommissioning.

    This seems like a high failure rate.

  21. Jeandetaca says:

    K2 comment is extremely powerfull. It is a pity I cannot copy and store it for spreading this view (a little technical flaw, or a volontary feature , for which purpose?, of this indispensible blog).

  22. Richard Brenne says:

    Those 50 are about as heroic as it gets….

    The helicopter pilots and others who poured the concrete over the burning Chernobyl plant were also incredibly brave and heroic, and had to know they were sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

    As the Titanic was taking on water and sinking, the coal stokers kept shoveling coal even as water entered the hull to keep the ship’s electricity going so they could continue to send out SOS messages.

    Also during WWI a large ammunition ship caught fire in Halifax harbor, and the English crew worked to put out the fire even when it appeared hopeless and they knew the largest human-caused explosion in history up to that time (and I’m sure up to the A-bomb test in New Mexico 28 years later) was inevitable.

    Hopefully it won’t be as bad for the Japanese 50, but they’re in the same kind of class.

    Also Zetetic thanks for the useful links, and Paul K2 for those very helpful calculations.

  23. Leland Palmer says:

    What I wonder about is this:

    From Wikipedia: Natural nuclear fusion reactor:

    Natural nuclear fission reactor
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A natural nuclear fission reactor is a uranium deposit where analysis of isotope ratios has shown that self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions have occurred. The existence of this phenomenon was discovered in 1972 at Oklo in Gabon, Africa, by French physicist Francis Perrin. The conditions under which a natural nuclear reactor could exist had been predicted in 1956 by Paul Kuroda.[1] The conditions found were very similar to what was predicted.

    Oklo is the only known location for this in the world and consists of 16 sites at which self-sustaining nuclear fission reactions took place approximately 2 billion years ago, and ran for a few hundred thousand years, averaging 100 kW of power output during that time.[2][3]

    OK, Uranium 235 has a half life of 700 million years, and these events occurred 2 billion years ago, so there was a larger proportion of U235 back then, approximately 8 times as much.

    But, uranium is dense- very, very dense, with a density much greater than lead.

    Suppose the fuel in the spent fuel pool melts, and starts pooling in the bottom of the spent fuel pool. Could a layer of liguid, very dense uranium, with a lower but still significant proportion of U235 in it, form a critical mass in the bottom of the storage pool?

    Could such a critical mass of partially depleted uranium explode in an atomic explosion?

    If such an explosion did occur, wouldn’t it spread very deadly fallout very widely? Wouldn’t this combine the worst aspect of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, resulting in wide dispersion of the huge amount of very deadly radioactive substances?

    Whatever they need to do to keep the spent fuel safe, they should do now…while they still can.

  24. ToddInNorway says:

    It is easy to focus on the immediate status. This is now a waste of time. Nothing can be done to avoid the worst-case scenario, it will happen over days or weeks but it will happen. With 4 reactors emitting radiation from breached containers, no living creature will be able to get within working distance-including a helicopter trying to hover over with water. Not sure what the spent fuel piles at the reactors previously idled will add to this disaster, but it cannot be good. My suggestion: develop a cement-lead slurry that can be sprayed by remote-control from a ship with extra lead barriers for ship personnel. Park the ship about 50-100 meters distance from the reactors, and feed it with raw material from “feeder” bulk ships and ship-mounted processing units, and continue for months until there is about a 25-35 meter thick layer of concrete/lead/protective over the whole mess. Here is a clue: you have to manage without structural rebar that we normally use in engineered concrete structures.

  25. Tafari277 says:

    Just do it the African way. Call on the ancestors. Are these guys brave or they have been forced to do this job? Japanese culture is raw on the workfront. Number of work related suicides in Japan is high due to high demand for commitment from workers. They are not yet heroes. Their mission is to stop a catastrophe, and the jury is still out.

    Good luck to all Japanese people. The grass is greener on the other side!

  26. Richard Brenne says:

    In several recent posts I’ve been called “silly” and numerous other attacks for stating that I thought it would take a WWII-type effort to derive 10 per cent of ALL ENERGY from SOLAR AND WIND ALONE in 10 years.

    No matter how tireless and utopian the comments, I stand by what I said.

    As of 2008 solar supplied less than 0.02% of the world’s total energy supply.

    Wind is now around two per cent of total energy, which is three times more than the energy that goes into generating electricity and over seven times as much as usable electricity due to inefficiencies.

    If there are 100,000 large wind turbines now, there would need to be 500,000 in 10 years to meet my goal. At first this might seem impossible until one sees that during WWII both sides produced over 900,000 planes, which are also metal tubes with a propeller at one end.

    We can’t pretend that converting our economy from 80 to 0 per cent fossil fuel use will be easy or happen overnight or with current free market forces alone.

    Virtually every American agreed that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, but now somewhere around half don’t seem to feel climate change or peak oil are anywhere near as serious, though they’ll prove to be far more so.

    We have to be honest and realistic and work as hard as we can, like every Allied leader, soldier and citizen had to, in order to succeed.

    Anything less and we’re just being silly.

  27. Tony Noerpel says:

    20 Paul K2: I believe you but do you have a reference? The one I’m not familiar with is Slovakia. Also I would say that 6 reactors are destroyed at Fukushima for a total of 12. Others?

    Also to factor in is Paulm #16 information about downtime on just one installation of a very modern design. How much of its life time is a nuclear reactor actually generating power? If we compute failure rate over only operational life time, adding the other 3 Fukushima reactors, increases the failure rate.

    Looking at Colorado Bob’s photos from MSNBC I’m wondering where the 50 brave technicians are and what can possibliy remain of control infrastructure (valves, pipes, cables, pumps…). There could be triply redundant control cables but failure would appear to be highly correlated.


  28. C. Vink says:

    Video (in German): The professor who got it about right in a relatively early stage:
    (March, 13)

  29. catman306 says:

    Where’s Homer Simpson, Mr. C. Montgomery Burns, and their Fox TV enablers? They could fix this in less than 30 minutes. You DO watch TV, don’t you? Tea Bag Party members and Republicans sure do.

  30. Richard Brenne says:

    I hate war as much as anyone I know, in fact I dare you to find a working screenwriter who never glorified war, violence, revenge or guns but instead only satirized them (and satirized my way out of being a working screenwriter as a result) as much as I did, so I’m sorry for the strong WWII metaphor, but the Apollo project (itself largely a product of the Cold War) and everything else doesn’t come close in terms of the transition we need to make from a fossil fuel to a renewable energy economy.

    The metaphor is just about changing out an economy, not in any way endorsing or glorifying war. We get metaphor, don’t we?

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2009 the U.S. derived less than 1 per cent of its TOTAL ENERGY (not just electricity) from wind and solar:

    This USA Today article never mentions percentages of total energy usage or electricity but instead pulls a bunch of comparatively meaningless dollar amounts just as others here have thrown avalanches of percentages without addressing the key global percentage I’m talking about. (I might like what you’re selling and even sell it myself, but if you want to sell effectively look at the calm, measured tone of Matania Ginosar at #16 – even if you might not agree with him it’s a winning style.)

    In this article the leaders of renewables hope to double the 2 per cent (or so) of solar and wind in 10 years. So on the track we’re on that would mean that in 10 years we’d be getting 4 per cent of our total energy from wind and solar, but I’d like to see that increase to at least 10 per cent, thus I suggest the WWII metaphor.

    Zetetric, on another thread you did make a good catch about the 26 German coal plants being planned in Wikipedia coming from an outdated 2007 article, but you failed to provide any links to what the current state is. Here is a March 10, 2011 Reuters article that lists 9 coal plants moving forward and 6 others converting to natural gas:

    While I’m certainly not rooting for nuclear in Germany (which buys power from France and their 78 per cent nuclear when they need it, but quietly), I’m rooting for them to burn more fossil fuels even less.

  31. ToddInNorway says:

    Richard @26, offshore wind turbines will soon be 5-10 times larger than current products being installed. The capacity of offshore wind will potentially grow 5-10 times faster than what your “energy model” assumes. Furthermore, PV will reach some form of “grid parity” in more and more areas (the best PV has already reached “grid parity” for building-integrated or end-user installed in sunny areas). There will be a massive commercial pull to accelerate PV because it will be preferable from a business opportunity view. Nuclear will never ever achieve this, if anything it will only get more expensive as projects will be forced to design against their worst-case scenarios and risks effectively, because they do not do this today.

  32. adelady says:

    Joan @8.
    It may be the placement of the generators. Or. Placement may be irrelevant if this bloke’s experience is representative of the problem.

  33. Raul M. says:

    In Japan, they could think of setting
    Something under the stored nukes
    to ketch it if it falls through where
    it is now. And after it falls, maybe
    Then it could be covered.

  34. Zetetic says:

    @ Matania Ginosar #16:
    That still doesn’t change the fact that nuclear is both very expensive to deploy, and very dangerous if anything goes wrong. That is unavoidable with nuclear. It is not a problem with most renewables.


    @ PaulK2 #20:
    Good point!


    @ Jeandetaca #21:
    I’m not sure what the issue is, but maybe it’s your web browser. I can copy and paste from here just fine. Maybe try another browser?

    Richard Brenne #26 said:

    In several recent posts I’ve been called “silly” and numerous other attacks for stating that I thought it would take a WWII-type effort to derive 10 per cent of ALL ENERGY from SOLAR AND WIND ALONE in 10 years.

    There are a few problems though wioth the way you are coming to your conclusions. You are already ignoring that many places have made a bigger change than just 10% in less time without even trying to make a WWII style push. So right off the bat your premise is demonstrably incorrect.

    Secondly you keep ignoring that you are using an illogical extrapolation from data you found on Wikipedia (although the source doesn’t matter in this case, it’s the trying to extrapolate from a slow and mild push to what would be possible with massive effort).

    It’s not that you are silly, it’s that the argument is since it’s based on false logic and is easily shown to be demonstrable false. It’s easy to let oneself be trapped by a bad argument if you get too emotionally attached to a position, such as nuclear.

    We can’t pretend that converting our economy from 80 to 0 per cent fossil fuel use will be easy or happen overnight or with current free market forces alone.

    Now you are making a straw-man argument. Who here has said this?

    Virtually every American agreed that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, but now somewhere around half don’t seem to feel climate change or peak oil are anywhere near as serious, though they’ll prove to be far more so.

    Agreed and hence the reason why most people aren’t taking it as seriously as they should. This is also why it blatantly false reasoning to extrapolate from a gradual renewable build-up where most people don’t see an immediate need, to a massive WWII style build up.

    All of which ignores that a nuclear buildup of the same scale would be even more expensive and far less safe. You seem to keep ignoring that point.


    Richard Brenne #31 said:

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2009 the U.S. derived less than 1 per cent of its TOTAL ENERGY (not just electricity) from wind and solar:

    As was already pointed out (repeatedly) that is with most of the build up in wind an solar having been recently and with trying to overcome major obstructionism from the nuclear and fossil fuel groups.

    Like I said before, “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

    Fighting renewables slows down the deployment in some countries. The slow deployment then becomes the justification that it can’t be done in spite of the fact that others (California, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, etc., etc.) are already doing just that. Do you really not see a problem with this line of reasoning?

    Here is a March 10, 2011 Reuters article that lists 9 coal plants moving forward and 6 others converting to natural gas

    Good! You found an even more recent article than the one I found. Did you catch hwo in your own article how the coal plants keep getting pushed back (let alone from 26 down to 9) and how other groups in Germany are fighting them? If you didn’t catch that from your own article, then why not?

    What you really found was an article about how some people in Germany want them, but others are fighting and delaying them. Just like in the USA there are different factions with their own vested interest fighting for control, but as renewables catch on more in Germany (even without a WWII style push there) the coal plants become increasingly redundant.

    Respectfully, it seems as though you have (for some reason) gotten emotionally attached to the idea of nuclear power, and are therefore attempting to justify it ways that both unfairly play-down renewables while ignoring the cost and risks of nuclear while using the specter of more coal as a sort of boogie-man. Perhaps you should investigate the source of this bias?

  35. catman306 says:

    Will someone please ask James Lovelock if he’s reconsidered nuclear power in the past few days?

  36. Prokaryotes says:

    Nuclear plants are nowhere safe once you factor in the geomorphological aspects of climate shift.

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    As an immediate precaution, both California’s nuclear plants should be shut down and other which would be affected of an major earthquake.

    Never in the history have 2 of the top 10 earthquakes appeared so close in time (Haiti & Japan). And this is a worldwide order, to immediately shut down plants in danger zones and start to phase out nuclear energy and put WWII affords to aim 100% solar & wind etc.

  38. Richard Brenne says:

    ToddInNorway (#35) – Again, this USA Today story that was also posted here at CP is quoting a company that is a leading proponent and voice of renewables. They’re saying that they expect them to double in the next decade, and solar and wind together are now around 2 per cent of total global energy usage. Wouldn’t your knowledge about offshore wind (that I hope is true and support, by the way) be reflected in the wind industry’s own estimates?

  39. Richard Brenne says:

    Zetetric at #35 writes to me, “There are a few problems though with the way you are coming to your conclusions. You are already ignoring that many places have made a bigger change than just 10% in less time without even trying to make a WWII style push. So right off the bat your premise is demonstrably incorrect.”

    What nations get 10 per cent of their TOTAL ENERGY (not just electricity, which produces 1/7 total energy as a global average after loss of efficiency) from solar and wind alone, which is my metric that you’ve repeatedly tried to twist? Please provide links.

    You have constantly confused total energy with electrical energy, and worse, I feel that you are trying to confuse us as well, which is the last thing we need.

    Zeteric also writes “Secondly you keep ignoring that you are using an illogical extrapolation from data you found on Wikipedia (although the source doesn’t matter in this case, it’s the trying to extrapolate from a slow and mild push to what would be possible with massive effort).”

    Yes, I used Wikipedia (Since when is this a crime?) and also the World Wind Energy Report from the World Wind Energy Association from 2009 (their last complete year). Here is their quote in that report:

    “All wind turbines installed by the end of 2009 worldwide are generating 340 TWh per annum, equivalent to the total electricity demand of Italy, the seventh largest economy of the world, and equalling 2 % of global electricity consumption. “

    They proudly and appropriately state that the world leaders in wind energy as a percentage of all electrical generation are Denmark with 20%, Portugal with 15%, Spain with 14% and Germany with 9%. I trust them and these figures, which seem at odds with some of yours. Since the world consumed 15 terrawatts of total energy and 2 per cent of that was electricity (output, not input), that would mean that each of these four model countries produces an average of about 2 per cent of their total energy from wind (much, much more than solar). Also these model countries combined have a population of about 143 million, around half that of the U.S., a tenth of that of China and one-fiftieth of the world.

    Here is the link:

    Zeteric writes “It’s easy to let oneself be trapped by a bad argument if you get too emotionally attached to a position, such as nuclear.”

    I am not emotionally attached to nuclear, but you obviously are. I first became aware of your posts here at comment #131

    when you called Edward “ignorant” and “stupid” for his supporting nuclear. While Catman306 at #33 makes a good point that James Lovelock, (and by extension James Hansen and James Howard Kunstler and some other relatively bright and caring people) might want to re-examine their support for nuclear, I don’t consider any of these three “ignorant” or “stupid.”

    I’m no supporter of nuclear (and please don’t tell me or anyone else what they are or are not supporters of), I’m just a supporter of honest, full-cost accounting and I’m not a fan of fact-twisting, obnoxious selling and unprovoked insults (While I might disagree with him also, Edward at #99 on that thread above had said nothing insulting to you or anyone else, and I took his advice and did evacuate Denver, or at least Boulder).

    The funny thing is that I agree with your vision and where you want us to go, I just think that you could improve your messaging with an accurate statement of facts.

    Obviously we got into a situation like Maggie Simpson found herself in when she and the monobrowed-baby scowled at each other for reasons not even known to them.

    Responding to your CP-record Gish Galloping, even for a very good cause that I wholeheartedly agree with, is a little tiring, like researching and writing until 6 am tiring.

    We agree about renewables being the answer, I just think coal and other fossil fuels will prove to be infinitely more dangerous than nuclear energy, as dangerous as it is.

    Now I think we need to agree to disagree about the finer points. Please don’t respond, and I won’t either.

  40. Raul M. says:

    Fire hoses spraying misty water
    could help keep the radiation
    level down and sucker machines
    could help clear it away.

  41. Chris Winter says:

    Leland Palmer wrote: “Suppose the fuel in the spent fuel pool melts, and starts pooling in the bottom of the spent fuel pool. Could a layer of liguid, very dense uranium, with a lower but still significant proportion of U235 in it, form a critical mass in the bottom of the storage pool?”

    I can put your mind at ease on this factor at least. The fuel in the Fukushima reactors in uranium oxide. It won’t melt at any temperature likely to occur in the core. I read someone today describe it turning into crumbly chunks. Also, with the low enrichment (3%) and the other debris mixed in, there’s no chance that critical mass would be reached.

    The big potential problem is large amounts of radiation getting spread around the countryside. There’s still hope this can be avoided.

  42. Raul M. says:

    They might want to fix the water canons
    to spray in a set direction and to glue
    Lead shielding to the firetrucks and over
    windows and drive by camera and video

  43. Zetetic says:

    Since my last (admittedly too long post) seems to have fallen into a moderation black-hole a few days ago, I figured I’d give this a shorter and hopefully better worded second try. (@ JR: if my last post is still in your system, please delete it.)

    @ Richard Brenne #40:
    I don’t mind if you don’t want to respond to me any further, but I don’t like the idea of false accusations about myself (and others) going unchallenged.

    You claim to not like “unprovoked insults” but that didn’t stop you from calling those that support renewables instead of nuclear as “misrepresented by three characters who’ve apparently escaped from the Pollyanna novel“, I even tried to make light of your implication that I and others are out of touch with reality. As to claiming that I wasn’t honest in the numbers I gave before, I find that odd since I clearly stated that the number I gave were future targets and not current day estimates as you gave at #40. So how does that make the numbers I cited wrong?

    You claimed that I was being dishonest in referring to electricity generation, in-spite of your constant use of the incorrect “26 coal plants in Germany” line and then incorrectly stating that your other article claimed the plants were still moving forward when it stated that they were on hold and being opposed. Not to mention your changing at #26 the argument to using wind and solar alone, when no one said that before. Now instead of focusing on replacing coal (as we were arguing before) now you want to argue other energy use? I had though that you focused on using nuclear to replace coal since you understood that to replace most of the other forms of energy (aside from bio-fuels) you need large amounts of electricity, apparently I assumed too much. In the meantime please search how Sweden plans to be oil-free by ~2020, or synthetic fuels, or bio-fuels, or electric cars, etc. When you use the term “WWII style push” you seem to mean that enough people think that it’s a good idea to through some money at the problem. You don’t seem to mean a massive restructuring of production, government spending, and public attitudes and behaviors…as in the real WWII.

    Also, I find it odd that you deliberately insult those that support renewables, but at the same time find that referring referring to some one that supports nuclear power as a “nuclear supporter” is somehow insulting. As to Edward, if you go back and read what I said (while I grant it was rather snarky) I didn’t call him/her those names but rather used it to illustrate the obvious dishonest arguments employed. I do find it odd though, how when a person makes a dishonest pro-nuclear statement, you don’t seem to point it out, why not? Finally for my posts to be a “Gish-gallop” I’d have to be throwing out lots of inaccurate statements for you to respond to. Instead I have been the one responding to your inaccurate statements and insults.