Why you should not be worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors

I really hate idiocy of any kind, especially in news and current affairs shows. Well no, I tolerate idiocy in small doses and am guilty of idiocy myself, as anyone who reads my blog or is a facebook friend of mine knows. But there’s a few places where idiocy should not be tolerated, and one of those places is between the hours of 5 and 7 on the nightly TV news.

There is a lot of hype and even some stupid nonsense being thrown around in the media about the nuclear situation at Fukushima, Japan. If you don’t understand nuclear power, seek out discussions on the topic from the retired Navy communities, many of whom work on civilian reactors today and are discussing this issue in numerous places all over the interweb. A good place to start is the comments of this post at Bubblehead. Also see Dr. Josef Oehmen’s comments here, a very useful read for context and perspective.

A few details that everyone needs to know:

The reactors that are being discussed in the news were successfully shut down. The problems are related to post shutdown safety.

People who compare Fukushima and Chernobyl don’t know anything about Fukushima or Chernobyl. This is like comparing the safety, survivability, and resilience of kayaks to battleships. Everything that made Chernobyl a disaster (lack of safety, redundancy, political pride etc) is what is making Fukushima a successful containment of a serious problem.

This event in Japan is the worst case scenario. First you have a 9.0 earthquake, then you have this massive tsunami, then you have the freezing weather that compounds your water problems. In the case of Fukushima the earthquake knocked out the power, forcing them to move to generators. The tsunami came along and knocked out the generators, forcing them to move to battery power.

The battery power has very limited life, somewhere between 8-24 hours, and we are somewhere north of 54 hours on battery power now at the nuclear plants. Obviously that creates a serious problem with these old reactors that require electricity for cooling. By the way, it’s worth noting, the new nuclear technology does not require electricity to cool.

Observing that this is the worst case scenario and that Fukushima is Japans oldest nuclear power plant it’s worth highlighting that there is still no evidence that there has been loss of containment or a leak that represents a public health concern. The leaks to date have been controlled and regulated as part of the safety procedures. Keep your heads, people; all of the public safety being done from iodine to evacuations is part of the predetermined Japanese nuclear safety plan which can be found online (I have not found an English version).

The Fukushima plant situation is serious, but it is not some emerging catastrophe some are making it out to be. And not, it’s never going to become a mushroom cloud. NUCLEAR REACTORS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!

The only catastrophe is going to be for the nuclear power industry where sheep who don’t know any better believe the tripe fed to them from news services, who are in the business of making money from hyperbole and scaremongering. The sheep will vote for politicians who play on their fears, promising to not allow nuclear power to progress. Don’t believe the hype.