Written By: - Date published: 12:13 am, March 13th, 2011 - 186 comments
Categories: disaster, energy - Tags: , ,

The Sendai Earthquake cut the power supply to the pumps at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. With no cooling water being pumped through the reactors, the nuclear fuel rods heated themselves until reactor 1 melted. But it should have been OK. The containment building should have kept the radiation from escaping. Then an explosion blew the containment building apart.

Radioactive cesium, a product of nuclear reactions, has been detected in the atmosphere around the plant. The Japanese Government says that there is no danger to the population because of the 6-mile exclusion zone that was put in place when the emergency started.

The experts say it was a hydrogen/oxygen explosion. This can happen when molten nuclear fuel rods fall into the water that usually carries their excess heat away. The water molecules quickly disassociate into hydrogen and oxygen due to the heat, with ignition once the hydrogen gets to combustible level. But the experts are still hopeful the explosion didn’t breach the inner containment around the core and is not a sign of a widespread radiation release. It’s possible the explosion occurred between the inner and out containment walls, leaving the inner one intact.

It’s hard to share their optimism.

Five other reactors, two of them at the same plant, are experiencing the same problem of fuel rod heat accumulating, threatening meltdown.

If the core has been breached and radioactive dust is carried into the sky to fall over a wide area, we’re looking at a second Chernobyl.

Update: the Japanese are saying the hydrogen gas resulting from the partial meltdown of nuclear fuel rods, which burnt through their casings into their cooling water. The gas had been pumped out of the steel inner containment of the reactor into the concrete outer containment building and it was between the two containment layers that the explosion occurred. They say the inner containment layer is intact. Their plan now is to flood the reactor with seawater to cool it down, which should take 10 days. If that succeeds, they’re going to be left with an awful lot of radioactive mess to dispose of safely but at least there should be no large radiation release.

Good article
on how a meltdown occurs (written before the partial meltdown).

186 comments on “Meltdown ”

    • burt 1.1

      Highly qualified “Scientists” amaze me sometimes. We have been bombarded for decades about how rising sea levels from global warming climate change will cause plate movements and dramatic weather changes. Now that massive hunk of rock and gravitational force swings by extra close dragging large volumes of water around and they say;

      Still the science community seems to frown upon associating any geological events with the lunar calendar. While the distance of the moon does affect the tides, its gravitational pull is not strong enough to trigger the kind of catastrophic events seen in Japan Friday, they say.

      • Marty G 1.1.1

        Can you point to anything reputable that claims climate change will cause tectonic plate movements?

        Over the long-term, climate change will cause increased volcanism in some places where ice caps melt as the land ‘bounces’ up without that gigantic weight on top of it. But that’s volcanism, not movement of tectonic plates.

      • Zorr 1.1.2

        If the people running around spouting this bullshit could provide scientific evidence for their beliefs then it could go from being quasi-scientific mumbo-jumbo to an actual scientific theory. However they can’t and, as such, they get treated like the whack jobs they are.

        • Lanthanide

          Scientific evidence is:
          1. Difficult
          2. Contradictory to what they want to believe

          • burt

            2. Contradictory to what they want to believe

            Exactly. The “scientists” need to draw a line between science and astrology, they have done that.

        • burt

          They just need some grant money… Might be hard to get an evangelist though, I can’t see a trading market for gravitational pull of orbiting satellites being established anytime soon.

        • vto

          Ok Zorr, how about Isaac Newton and his consequent three laws of motion.

          You know, through this entire Ken Ring drama, not a single scientist has broached the basis on which Ring works and given a proper answer. All every single “scientist” has done is rant on “mumbo jumbo, hocus pocus, quasi-religion.

          As far as I am concerned it is the scientists who are acting like the deluded witch-haters of the dark ages.

          Ken Ring bases his propositions on one simple thing – gravity and its effect on the earth. So for all the witch-hunters out there you can rant and get out the sickles all you like but you take on the scientific might of Isaac Newton. And for those of you who are science-braindead Newton’s law underpin the entire world of modern physics.

          • Armchair Critic

            You know, through this entire Ken Ring drama, not a single scientist has broached the basis on which Ring works and given a proper answer.
            And so the real critics should – a proper demolition of Ring’s methods is the best way to discredit him. The problem, as I see it, is that Ring has not publish enough information to allow a refutation, based on traditional scientific methods. To some extent, any scientist that chose to have a go would be trying to prove a negative, because Ring could always deny that what was disproved was not what he was predicting, or how he was predicting it, etc.
            Ken Ring bases his propositions on one simple thing – gravity and its effect on the earth.
            This is where Ring’s predictions fall over for me. The gravitational influence of other celestial bodies (the sun and the moon, primarily) is reasonably even across the earth. Faultlines around the world are very location-specific, comparatively. I’m keen to know how he works out which faultline is going to rupture, based on the combinations of gravitational influences – ATM I think he’s guessing.

            • vto

              I completely agree that it would be great to see someone debate the actuals, rather than just witch-hunt a-la the john campbell fool.

              Personally his propositions make a great deal of general sense to me. Gravity affects the oceans. Gravity affects everything. Why would scientists accept that gravity affects the liquid water on earth but not accept that gravity affects the liquid rock on earth. Or the solid rock. Or you and me.

              Of course gravity affects all those things and more.

              And it has been known by every civilisation since the dawn of manwoman. Planting by the moon. Fish feed based on moon movenents. And, to stir the hornets nest of witch-hunters more, the December 2012 date has also been known by many civilisations too, and again that is based on planetary movements and gravity. It is simple and old knowledge. Ring’s basis is nothing new.

              It is just gravity. Newton was onto it. Everyone else is still catching up, including the scientists. (just like they had to catch up when it was discovered the earth was not flat, and when Darwin came along just a wee while ago).

              • mcflock

                Personally, I quite liked the bit where Campbell went through the list of dates in february that Ring had predicted earthquakes for, added Ring’s 3 day fudge factor, and pointed out that Ring had in fact predicted earthquakes on every single day of the month.

                So much for “lunar cycles”.

                • vto

                  If only silly john campbell had had that right mcflock. Ring went to correct him and was overrun by campbell’s big head and mouth.

                  Still no decent answer.

                  You know, in the local this morning there is an article about how seismologists are questioning why there has been a super-swarm of large earthquakes over the last ten years. They can’t work it out. It is something new to their science. What does that tell you? … well it tells me that the seismologists have big holes in their understanding of erathquakes, and if they have such holes then how can they possibly be so certain about other things seismological and reach shallow judgments on the affect of gravity on the planet’s earthquakes?

                  The science is nowhere near finalised on Ring’s proposition (detailed planetary and lunar gravitational effect on earth) so how can they know with such certainty about whether Ring is onto something or not? Answer… they can’t. They are simply doing the age-old knee-jerk witch hunt.

                  Happy to be proved wrong and hear a decent answer.

                  • mcflock

                    Funny – that’s not what I saw (8m10s). Campbell was perhaps a bit more mutt than jeff, but Ring’s “correction” was talking about the size of earthquake, not when he was predicting highest risk for. Which was every day of the month.

                    It seems to me that your argument is along the lines of
                    “seismologists sometimes get things wrong, so they don’t have all the answers
                    > Ken Ring claims to be right some of the time so he therefore must have some of the answers
                    >Therefore> Ken Ring is right and seismologists who say that he hasn’t got enough evidence to prove his point are wrong.”

                    • vto

                      No, my argument is lets hear a decent argument in response. And my argument is that the basis of what he says is so bloody obvious. It can be seen in the tides twice every day. And my argument is that seismologists readily admit the science is uncertain yet they claim it is not uncertain when it comes to this part of it.

                      anyways, keen to hear an answer.

                      also, check the roads out of Christchurch from midweek. They will be full again. Many people are planning to leave (and go where I wonder? closer to the Alpine Fault? Welington? Napier? Gisborne? Auckland and its volcanoes?). In fact from what I can tell, the only ones staying are the witch-hunters who simply dismiss Ring with nothing more than a “oh I don’t believe in fairies in the sky and such hocus-pocus”. intersting times.

                    • mcflock

                      A decent argument in response can only come from a decent question.

                      What exactly are you/Ring saying? Thet the moon might be associated with some earthquakes? The GNS guy clearly says that there have been empirical studies that corellate “very small” earthquakes to the moon, but the “large damaging earthquakes, those are the ones that can’t be influenced by the tides, by the moon” (14m03s). That seems to be a pretty definite answer there.

                      Ring is taking a plausible connection/effect at the impractically small level and then upscaling it to make dramatic claims in areas that people might give a damn. It’s not the first time this has been done, and it won’t be the last.

                      Whether he’s a charlatan or merely self-deluded is another question entirely.

                    • vto

                      Yes, I realise seismologists have stated that sort of thing. But there is no detailed explanation or reasoning provided to back up those few statements (which acknowledge the effect of gravity on earthquakes as you say). No substance provided. We are supposed to just trust their word.

                      I guess what thousands of us would like is for real engagement between Ring and the seismomen. But that aint gonna happen I imagine – too much ego and politics and reputation etc for everyone involved.

                    • mcflock

                      If you want detailed refutation or even a reasoned acceptance, put forward a detailed hypothesis.

                      From what I’ve seen on his website, Ring is light on methodology, broad in the location, magnitude and timing of his predictions forecasts, and pretty selective in his earthquake data.

                      But he had not a single article that cross references large numbers of say M6+ earthquakes with lunar phases – seismic data is freely available in a number of monitoring stations around the world, and lunar phases (and planetary locations) are calculable. If you want scientists to listen, put out a testable hypothesis, with your data, so others can verify or refute it.

                      Saying “oooo I knew that was going to happen!” when you predicted it for every day of the month is not the path to widespread regard.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3

        That’s because the scientists have studied it and found that the movement of the moon has no measurable impact upon the tectonic plates.

        • weka

          But does that mean there is no effect on quakes at all? Didn’t we just establish that climate change may affect quakes just not via the plates?

          • KJT

            As we do not know what all the triggers for a quake are it is quite possible that tidal forces have some influence. Obviously not much, otherwise we would have a string of extra earthquakes every full moon.
            A warmer earth may also be more susceptible to earthquakes as more heat means more energy in the system.
            2 degree rises would not be expected to have much effect on plate tectonics, but it may still be a minor trigger when added to others.
            Scientists are not saying there is definite connection. And so far have found no measurable effects, Just investigating the possibility.

            Astrology lost all connection to physical reality when they stopped realigning the astrological Zodiac every year to correspond to real positions of the heavens about two hundred years ago.

            • burt


              Failure to realign the astrological Zodiac would indeed make their reading of the situation invalid, it wouldn’t however negate the validity of the concepts astrology attempts to describe and explain.

              Ken Ring for example, his biggest failing was predicting an event rather than describing a possibility or a potential cause/effect relationship.

              • KJT

                If you look back at Rings predictions, he has predicted an earthquake so often that he would have to hit the jackpot at least once.

                Like the people who have been predicting the end of the world. Wasn’t it to be 300AD. Then 1000 AD, then 1984, then 2012. And almost every year in between. Eventually they will get the right year!

      • todd 1.1.4

        I wonder how much gravitational pull the moon has on the magma within the earth?

        An increase in temperature could theoretically make the tectonic plates expand and thus create forcing or ridge push. With more water in the oceans there would also be more pressure on the plates. The increase in temperature is meant to cause the oceans to increase their mass as well.

  1. Colonial Viper 2

    This poses a serious risk to tens of millions of people in Japan, South Korea and eastern China. The magnitude of this disaster is overwhelming.

  2. Absolutely chilling. The human race needs to realize that nuclear is too dangerous and commit to alternative energy sources AND conservation measures.

    Kia Kaha Japan.

  3. freedom 4

    There are already numerous references appearing in articles all over the world associating the recent disaster to the Nuclear events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Let us be clear, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unwarranted acts of violence perpetrated by man.

    They can not and should not be compared to the immense tragedy wrought by this natural disaster which has damaged Japanese nuclear power facilities. To do so spits on the memories of hundreds of thousands of people who were slaughtered to save the lives of a few hundred American soldiers.

    • Just Me 4.1

      The dropping of the atomic bombs on Heroshima and Nagasaki were good military decisions at a time of war which saves the lives of of hundred of thousands of both Allied and Japanese lives if a ground invasion had proceeded. It is also arguable that because of both of these events the likelihood of a nuclear exchange during the cold war year was significantly reduced.

      While its easy with the benefit of hindsight to second guess these decisions and speculate what may have happened if they hadn’t occurred what can’t be argued with is that those military strikes ended World War 2.

      • freedom 4.1.1

        With all due respect to your opinion, there is a vast amount of verified information that proves there was no justification in the decision as the diminishing ability of Japan to continue in the conflict was inconsequential to the inevitable outcome. The selection of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as targets were basically because they were two of the only Cities still standing after months of Incendiary bombings had already decimated the majority of Japan.

        In regards to the ‘Cold War’ perhaps you should investigate how the American Government actively supplied the Russian Military with all necessary information and materials to launch their Nuclear Weapons program. A process which was already underway whilst the Manhattan Project was developing its ultimate weapons of mass destruction.

        there is simply no justification for the use of Nuclear Weapons

        • uke

          With respect, the situation was not so simple. There are many horrific descriptions of the 1944-45 US attempts to take back various Pacific locations from suicidal Japanese soldiers prepared to fight to the last man and take out as many opponents as possible: Peleliu, Battle of Leyte Gulf & Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa… These experiences probably hardened US government thinking on a land invasion of Japan, especially after 3 years of war and hundreds of thousands of casualties. In a sense, I think the utter disrespect for human life shown by the Japanese – both others & their own lives – infected the Allies in the end. It is an inevitability of war. NZ veterans I have spoken to supported the A-bomb dropping and, from their position, putting their lives on the line to fight a fanatical enemy, I can see their point.

          • freedom

            I never said, suggested or implied that the situation was simple. War never is. Do not extrapolate a generalization from a reference to target selection, which was the only statement i made that could even be remotely looked at as overly-simplifying a situation.

        • Just Me

          Freedom with all due respect to your opinion there is no such information that proves there was no justification. There is a lot of information when looked in isolation or with limited perspective that can be interpreted as removing the justification however looked properly in context to the time and global events they can be realistically discounted. At the end of the day both cities contained viable military targets to either conventional/atomic weapons.

          Your statement re the American Government providing the Russian Military all the necessary information is at least partially incorrect. Yes information was provided to Russia during the Manhattan Project as it was also to other Allies such as the UK however most allies had were making contributions either of a scientific or material nature. Your statement also takes no regard for the large amount of information that the Russians gained through their capture of Nazi Scientists and Research material in particular the fall of Berlin of which they specifically targeted the “university area” to gain this sort of material.

          As for justifying the use of Nuclear Weapons. They ugly, hugely destructive with a long after life, however to say that there is never a justification to use them is simply buying in the political propaganda that surrounds them. There is always a justification to use them (eg the on coming earth killer asteroid scenario) the question is however is the justification worth the cost that their use also brings.

          • Colonial Viper

            Remember that you are discussing a country (the US) which has been shown to have unethically and deliberately exposed it’s own and allied servicemen to nuclear explosion radiation experiments, and to have unethically exposed both civilians and servicemen to biological agents experiments.

            There are also reasonable grounds to think that Nagasaki and Hiroshima were selected as targets because of their scientific and research value to the US military nuclear programme i.e. testing different styles of nuclear bombs detonated at different heights on to cities with different building structures and surrounding terrains.

            US medical, scientific and engineering teams were standing by and gathered huge amounts of on the ground data from those locations, data which helped the US develop their next generation of nuclear warheads and targetting technology.

            • Just Me

              Viper were also talking about a country who without the sacrifice of their service personal New Zealand as we know it probably would exist. For all the wrongs that the US may have made over the years they are far outweighed by the things they have gotten right.

              I disagree that Nagasaki and Hiroshima we selected because of the potential of their scientific research. It certinaly was a consideration however both cities were selected more to do with the military targets they contained.

              Hiroshima was HQ for Japanese 5th Division and the 2nd Army Headquarters and was an important Comms centre in Southern Japan.

              Nagasaki was a major sea port and production center for warships, munitions, and other equipment. Its worth noting though that Nagasaki was a secondary target (Kokura was the primary target however had 70% cloud cover on Aug 9, 1945). Infact Nagasaki didn’t even make the list of possible targets drawn up by Oppenheimer’s scentific committee.

              • Colonial Viper

                You are trying to make the justification that civilian cities were hit because they contained military targets?

                That there were no other worthy military targets which could be hit which weren’t nestled on top of civilian cities?

                That the US had to use two nuclear weapons and destroy two Japanese cities to demonstrate that they had this devastating new technology, and that one was not sufficient to make the point?

                Frankly though I too am glad that the US got involved in WWII and drove the Japanese back out of asia pacific. War is a nasty messy business however I still see it as the role of government to protect civilian life wherever possible.

                • Just Me

                  Not trying to Viper. It is justified. I don’t what rules/conventions that may be in place but when you’re at war then you try to win it as quickly and as effectively as possible. While minimizing harm to civilians should always be a consideration for a commander it should never be the the overwhelming factor when formulating a strategy.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    While minimizing harm to civilians should always be a consideration for a commander it should never be the the overwhelming factor when formulating a strategy.

                    Yeah I know that school of thinking.

                    You’ll notice however that the approach has served US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan quite poorly as it generates significant population resentment. US/NATO forces in Afghanistan routinely kill 500+ Afghani civilians a year, that’s a lot of annoyed tribal families.

                    • Just Me

                      I agree. The Western Forces are taking into consideration Civilian casualties far too greatly with little or no gains either strategically or politically. They would be far better increasing the focus simply on the destruction of the enemy rather than trying to fight the enemy, install a functional government and winning the hearts of minds of the civilian population. The last two functions can be done once you have security.

                      This also means continuing the fight into Pakistan as the regime there has clearly demonstrated they’re either unwilling or incapable of dealing with the enemy forces within their territory.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I suspect the facts on the ground preclude your simple analysis from being workable.

                      They would be far better increasing the focus simply on the destruction of the enemy

                      For instance, where exactly is this so-called enemy?

                      This also means continuing the fight into Pakistan as the regime there has clearly demonstrated they’re either unwilling or incapable of dealing with

                      Yeah, because its such a good idea to send your military in to yet another sovereign country without permission. Come now, even you must realise that your recommendations are not actionable in the slightest.

          • freedom

            You really need to look at more resources than the back of weeetbix cards for your history lessons.

            The USA supplied hundreds of boatloads of data and materials to the Soviet forces. There were weekly freight flights out of Los Alamos full of recently developed technologies and accompanying data, all for the sole purpose of developing Nuclear Weapons capability.

            There are numerous declassified resources showing how the British and American intelligence forces were employed to allow the transfer of data from the Manhattan Project. Including a number of well staged Spygames to appear as if the espionage was unwanted.

            Your archaic war-memoir storytelling supporting old glory ignores many of the fundamental truths of how, why and by whose hand the Cold War was allowed to proliferate. Take for example the incontrovertible fact that if it was not for an American chemical company then the Luftwaffe would not have been able to fly sorties of the distance required to bomb England and thus bring America into the War in the first place. (please do not turn and say it was Pearl Harbour that brought the Americans into the war or else you risk showing how you have not actually learnt history but merely parrot the popular paragraphs)

            By the way, The USof A had a much larger share of Nazi scientists on their books at the end of WWII than the Soviets. Add to this the entire SS operation whom they employed to develop those bastions of civil liberty, The CIA, and of course the NSA.

            I am not going to get into a history lesson as my focus is on the rather more pressing needs of current events, butI certainly hope you research a bit more of the history you so obviously have an interest in.

            p.s. thanks for the ‘killer Asteroid’ bit, laughter is a useful tonic

            • Just Me

              Freedom the “Killer Asteroid” bit is a joke for many scientific reasons however are you saying that that if the best method of “saving mankind” in that scenario was to launch the worlds nuclear arsenal at it that the use of Nuclear Weapons still isn’t justified? The point I was making is that the depending on the scenario the use of nuclear weapons can be justified. In the case of World War 2, the case using atomic weapons against Japan was justifiable.

              As for your history of World War Two I think you and I would have a close approximation of the same outline of events and I agree though the todays events are much more interesting that us debating our differing perspectives of those events. I do hope though you don’t continue to naively look at these historic events with your modern eyes, perspectives and values and instead re-examine them within the context of the period.


              PS Viper for some reason I can’t reply directly to your post. However you and I both know where the enemy are, they’re hiding in the villages, cities etc surrounded by civilians. Therefore if the West want to win the war then they must be prepared the civilian casualties will occur and stop getting upset when they occur.

              As for invading Pakistan the US already have. The of SO guys on the ground, they have UAVs operating overhead, all with the acceptance of Pakistan so why keep up the current bullshit and let the troops fight the war properly instead of one hand behind their backs?

              • neoleftie

                Sorry Justme but the americans had already won the war long before 1945. They were after total unconditional surrender. By 45 the american strength was absolutely overwelming, japan’s military and economy were wrecked by decades of war and politically the internal powers were factionated. Remember Japan had been fighting china etc since the early 30’s.
                The Atomic Bomb was not understood by the politicians and simply overkill…japan was isolated, had little real military strength left and the populous were starving. It was just a matter of time before the military rump surrendered.

        • bbfloyd

          “these military stikes ended world war two”… read your history again… the japanese hugh command, and the man who made the final decision to surrender, the emperer, had no idea what had been dropped on hiroshima.. they thought it was the same sort of blanket bombing that tokyo had been suffering. in fact, they had no idea what a nuclear bomb was. understandable when you consider that it was a completely new science, and the americans had managed to keep it secret up to that point…. it was a “flyover” of tokyo by the whole usaf in the pacific theatre which finally convinced the emperor that the japanese could not stand up against them any more. fact; in one night as many people were killed in tokyo using conventional bombs as in the bombing of hiroshima. without the knowledge of nuclear physics, how would the japanese have the slightest inkling of what had been unleashed… watch the raid on cnn?

          the true true horror of what had happened in hiroshima, and nagasaki and it’s aftermath, didn’t emerge until later,, after the surrender… the story that it was hiroshima being the citcut breaker was promoted by the americans.. rewriting history to suit their purposes,, which were obviously to justify the use of what was purely experimental, and incredibly risky technology..

          • Just Me

            bbfloyd I would suggest you re-read yours.

            On July 26 the Allies issued the Postdam Declaration with outlined the terms of surrender for Japan and stated that the Allies would attack Japan which would result in the “The inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland”.

            As of July 28 the Japanese news papers reported that the Japanese Government had rejected the declaration and on July 31, the Japanese Emperor made clear to his advisor Kōichi Kido that the Imperial Regalia of Japan had to be defended at all costs.

            • bbfloyd

              and your point being? i actually spend a lot of time reading history… so if you wish to give a full timeline, and show me the reports of the discussions the japanese military commanders had with the emperor, which didn’t emerge untill very recently, rather than repeating newspaper articles printed at the time which simply reiterated the government mantra used throughout the war, and before it, then i would be most interested… and grateful for the chance to learn something new.

              • Just Me

                bbfloyd, I doubt you’re really interested in learning anything new.

                The previous post is are undeniable facts, yes there have been some interesting commentaries that have come to light in the past 20 years especially those that originated from the former Soviet Union’s intelligence and diplomatic services though personally I have found the transcripts of interrogations of Japanese officers by the Russians most en-lighting for providing perspective of how the war, progress and the option of surrender were seen by these men.

                However while these new pieces of information add perspective to the period they don’t alter the fact that the Allies gave the Japanese the terms and opportunity to surrender as well as the outlining the consequences if they choose not to. The events that happened afterwards were solely the responsible of the Japanese Leadership.

                • bbfloyd

                  JM… thanks for clearing up any misconceptions i might have had regarding my desire, or lack of, to learn anything….. always pleased to get an informed opinion on my shortcomings….

                  so.. are you going to answer my point, or simply attenpt to dissemble using irrelevant anecdote? and to compound that with what can only be described as a well constructed summary of the thinking behind how the japanese leadership made their decisions is impressive…

                  to be frank though,, this is irrelevant when the post is concerned with events occuring today, but i’m quite sanguine regarding showing another veiw that doesn’t necessarily gell with the “official” history as approved by the americans…

                  logic doesn’t play any part in that view, unfortunately. unless you can reliably credit the emperor with prescience… in other words,, he knew what an atom bomb was before it was unleashed…. and that they fully grasped the difference between the devastation caused by that, and conventional weapons .. add to that the “fact” that the fallout, and radiation damage was already known to be going to occur… if you can’t do that, then i suggest you stop wasting time repeating what is no more than american propaganda…remember the quote”the victor gets to write the history”…

                  • Just Me

                    Whether or not the Emperor had any concept of what an atomic bomb was is irrelevant (though likely the concept of it wouldn’t have been foreign to his scientific advisors as the concept had been around since about 1912-15) I completely agree he would have no idea what the effects of one would have been (hell up until the first test bomb the allies had no idea and some scientific minds worried that once a atomic chain reaction begun it could potentially continue until it enveloped the entire planet).

                    However there is no doubt that the Emperor understood what “utter destruction of the Japanese Homeland risk. The language is clear and precise. Even without the use of Atomic Weapons it would have been foolish not to imagine chemical or biological weapons which would have had a similar (if not more devastating) effect along the lines of what his own forces used in Nanking.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      However there is no doubt that the Emperor understood what “utter destruction of the Japanese Homeland risk. The language is clear and precise.

                      Yeah and it so happens that it means something completely different in the pre-nuclear ‘conventional arms’ age than in the nuclear ‘weapons of mass destruction’ age.

                    • bbfloyd

                      so you aren’t prepared to agree that the reports of the effect the american “flyover” of tokyo had on his thinking? to say that up untill then he had not grasped the true enormity of the war machine japan was facing would be impossible to give any credit to?

                      discounting personal anecdotes from the people closest to the emperor on how his decisions were arrived at is a convenience if you wish to beleive the american version as gospel…. flawed thinking at best, considering their propensity for altering history to suit their objectives…

                • Vicky32

                  Just Me, there’s one thing that springs to mind, while reading your posts.. My Dad used to say “There’s no deaf as them that won’t hear” – or “none so blind as those who won’t see”.
                  I think that those sayings apply to you.

                  • Just Me

                    Vicky you’re welcome to your opinion and don’t disagree with it. However I think it could equally be said of yourself.

                    Sorry Viper and BBFloyd for some reason I cannot reply directly to you.

                    Floyd History has been rewritten by the Americans no more/less that any other group. Just look at the amount of rewriting of history that has occured in Japanese school books, Soviet masacares and treatment of POW’s or even by “Peace Activists” during the 80s.

                    Viper you can argue that the Japanese didn’t understand what the effects of a nuclear weapon was as much as you like but you’re wrong. Humanity has understood those wars pretty clearly from Cathage forward. The Japanese own actions during WW2 would have given them a good starting point for comprehension.

        • Absolutely freedom . In fact it was a war crime. I relalise Japan was very guilty of war crimes but we are supposed to be the “Good guys”and revenge is not at all justified . What perhaps t we should learn from this weeks disaster is that we must never have nuclear power in NZ. There are many in National /ACt who,would welcome nuclear power in Aotearoa. So we need to be vigilant at all times.

      • Vicky32 4.1.2

        “The dropping of the atomic bombs on Heroshima and Nagasaki were good military decisions at a time of war which saves the lives of of hundred of thousands of both Allied and Japanese lives if a ground invasion had proceeded.”
        Ma dai! How can you possibly say that with a straight face? It’s known now (or at least I thought it was) that Truman insisted that the bombs be dropped on Japan even though the Japanese had already surrendered. (I first read that in a book by Robert Jay Lifton in the early 1980s.)
        You’re talking complete and utter shite.

        • Just Me

          Hi Deb,

          There is a lot of revisionist history and conspiracy theories around this subject however there is simply no factual evidence/documentation to say that Japan had already surrendered prior to the Atomic Bombs being dropped.

          • Vicky32

            Robert Jay Lifton would beg to differ with you… I am sure his books are still obtainable, if you care to see what he says on the subject…
            To be going on with…

            • Bored

              Deb, I read the debate yesterday with some interest, lots of different opinions. I wont judge, but for what its worth two sayings are true: that the victors write the history AND that truth is the first casualty of war.

              From there on in its all speculation. I have read speculation that Truman was worried about the Soviet threat to Japan, China and eastern Europe, that a clear and threatening message needed to be sent. Its awful to think that the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the means of delivery. I am not sure we will ever know the full truth.

              Does Lifton comment upon this?

              • Pascal's bookie

                A few quotes here:


              • Vicky32

                Yes, I believe he does – he goes into all the possible scenarios in great depth! That being said, I haven’t read his books since the early 90s…
                I recommend his writings on the subject,

              • McFlock

                My personal impression studying it at uni years back was that there were a lot of reasons for different factions within the US to support dropping at least one bomb, from the diplomats worried about the Soviets, generals wanting to avoid invasion or seal the occupation (trying to avoid the German “Werewolves” at the European peace, which would have been expected to be even more dedicated in Japan), defence scientists wanting to test on real-world cities (Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been deliberately left untouched by conventional bombing for this role, as I recall my studies) and a variety of other factors – even just to justify the massive expenditure with a “success”.

                But to me the key factor was that it didn’t really occur to anyone to NOT drop the bomb. The pacific theatre was total war. Using nukes on civilian cities is the adburd logical reduction of that concept.

    • Robert M 4.2

      Yes but nuclear energy was promoted largely in the l950s to give an acceptable face and whitewash to nuclear bombs and nuclear deterrence. Nuclear energy was never remotely economical and in its present form has never been acceptable.

      At first nuclear bombs were small and no more significant than conventional fire bombing. The Japanese actually considered the 60 Hiroshima sized genocides Le May and McNamara had committed since March l945 as more significant. But gradually the megatonage got larger and then became potentially earth destroying.

      Risks have also increased as nuclear power stations have been built along the fault line in India, California and Japan.

      David Lange of course failed to grasp nuclear power was contaminated , dangerous and a source of nuclear proliferation. Nuclear power can hardly be seperated from nuclear weapons. The American nuclear submarines and carriers that visited here were strategic weapons designed to kill ballistic missile submarines. The visiting carriers that made kiwi port calls in the 60s the America, Enterprise and Shangri La are now known to have been each armed with close to 200 nuclear weapons.

      Tim Grosser should resign and apoligise. The appropriate fate for the Lange biographer , Micheal Basset and the act nuclear defectors would be that greeted the US air crew who were hit by flack and parachuted down on Tokyo, Kyoto or Nagoya.

  4. hellonearthis 5

    Wow that’s sad news, it’s shocking that these old style steam reactors where not decommissioned years ago. It’s a disaster onto of a disaster. I hope Japan calls in some of that money it lent to the USA (882.3 billion USD )to help pay for this tragic happening.

  5. Jenny 6

    Scientific American 40 minutes ago.


    Views differ. Stratfor, a risk consultancy, initially said there appeared to be a reactor meltdown, but others disagreed, dismissing any comparisons with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.

    In an updated analysis, Stratfor said new developments “may suggest positive signs for authorities’ efforts to contain the problem.” But “many dangers and risks remain,” it added.

    Abram, the Manchester professor, said it was unlikely it would develop into anything more serious, though this would depend on the integrity of the fuel. He believed it “pretty unlikely” that the fuel had been significantly damaged.

    “If the fuel is substantially intact, then there’ll be a much, much lower release of radioactivity and the explosion that’s happened might be just due to a build-up of steam in the reactor circuit,” he said.

    Apparently backing this view, the government said the plant’s concrete building collapsed in the blast, but the reactor container inside did not explode.

    The top government spokesman said Tepco, the operator, planned to fill the leaking reactor with sea water to cool it down and reduce pressure.

    Carnegie’s Hibbs said: “If they are suggesting that the reactor vessel is intact and that they have a way to get cold water into the core of the reactor to cool that core down, that is very good news indeed.”

    It is too early to say that a “catastrophe has been averted,” Stratfor said.

  6. QoT 7

    I will say it’s not quite a Chernobyl in that it was the result of natural disaster, not letting the less-trained night shift perform delicate safety drills without adequate supervision or expertise.

  7. Sanctuary 8

    @freedom – “…To do so spits on the memories of hundreds of thousands of people who were slaughtered to save the lives of a few hundred American soldiers…”

    1/ A few hundred? You are an imbecile. At the time, the US estimated the invasion of the Japanese home islands would cost the allies combat casualties of all kinds at anywhere between 70,000-500,000.

    2/ On top of that, you have to add the the number deaths incurred of Allied POW’s, Chinese civilians under Japanese control, and the ongoing combat operations in the South-West Pacific and Burma operations that would have happened during the longer duration WWII an invasion of Japan would have meant.

    3/ I would be interested to know how you think the Allied governments could have explained to their populations (including New Zealands), war weary and loathing a Japanese people that had demonstrated a barbaric fanaticism, that (say) 200,000 of their men had to be killed or maimed across all theatres when the United States possessed unused nuclear weapons.

    4/ It is now known that the Japanese were looking for an excuse to surrender in 1945. The blockade, the air-attacks, the massive superiority of US military power, and the Soviet attack on Manchuria meant they knew they could not go on. A demonstration of the power of nuclear weapons may have been enough. But that is with hindsight, a gift you clearly possess with all the 20/20 clarity typical of a complete idiot.

    • Robert M 8.1

      How could they, the US submarine blockade had starved them-they were already at the point of surrender. The firebombing attacks of Lemay on Tokyo actually had far greater impact on the Japanese emperor and government. The Americans only actually had two nukes at the time and had used them.

  8. Jenny 9

    Nuclear catastrophe averted, say Officials

    If this is true, then it is only by the skin of our teeth that a massive nuclear disaster has been avoided.

    Personally I don’t think this is over yet.

  9. burt 10

    In the past on this blog I have debated nuclear power. In one of rOb’s threads back in 2010 I was torn a new one by Draco (among others) about the earthquake risk with nuclear power.

    Me must always admit our mistakes and move on, it’s not enough to just move on and repeat them over and over. Longer term there will be some harsh lessons from this current disaster, lets hope they are acknowledged and plans for action and mitigation are made and implemented.

    • handle 10.1

      There were mitigation plans for these reactors. The breached containment structure was one of them.

      • burt 10.1.1

        OK, I might be missing something here; are you saying that exploding the containment chamber is a planned mitigation for earthquake damage to the power plant ?

        • Marty G

          no, handle is saying the containment building was meant to contain meltdowns, and it’s not there to do that now.

          • burt

            Right, so we have some lessons to learn about containment then.

          • Jenny

            Frightening – If there is a meltdown, the last means of containment is no longer there.

            • Marty G

              yeah, a full meltdown would melt through the steel inner containment. In Chernobyl, this happened and most of the nuclear fuel solidified as the ‘elephant’s foot’ in the concrete basement but enough of it was released into the atmosphere with the associated explosions to irradiate a huge area.

              Apart from the direct cost in the lives of workers and the emergency crews who built the sarcophagus that now encases the reactor (several dozen to several hundred) there’s been thousands of birth defects in Ukraine and Belarus since and some 50,000 European women aborted pregnancies at the time of the explosion because they feared they had been exposed to elevated radiation levels.

    • Treetop 10.2

      burt I am concerned about Chernobyl “officials say the structure has become unstable and could collapse.” They are referring to the concrete sarcophagus. There is no place for complacency when it comes to radiation leaking.

    • bbfloyd 10.3

      hey burt…. i had no idea this post was really all about you… the things one learns…. or not. have you got some sort of leaning disability? if you have, then don’t be ashamed to admit it. i wouldn’t rubbish you for that. that would be uncharitable at best..but if you havn’t, then it’s time you learn’t that the world, far from revolving around you, actually doesn’t give a crap what you think.

      so why not give listening and considering the views of informed people a go, rather than blowing out of your bugle for your own self gratification.

      • burt 10.3.1


        Are you also (single handedly) posting as ‘handle’ ?

        • bbfloyd

          now you’re just being silly burt…..i suspect you’re enjoying the attention a little more than is healthy..

  10. ianmac 11

    A modern Nuclear plant is safe. The 40 year old plant at Fukushima Daiichi had “fail-safe” mechanisms which failed because the electricity and back up electricity failed, thus failing the vital cooling. The nuclear reactor had shut down automatically as soon as the earthquake had struck.
    The hunger for energy will not be solved with conservation or with significant renewables. The choice is to either build safe nuclear plants with a small risk to the population, or risk loosing huge amounts of low-lying arable land and the huge populations of people there-in.
    The loss of food production and viable living spaces could be far more catastrophic than the faint risk of nuclear failure.

    • burt 11.1

      Right, so we have some lessons to learn about the serviceable life of existing power plants.

      • handle 11.1.1

        Nice try. Any ‘lessons’ about the safety of nuclear power plants are already well known.

        • burt

          Of course, but thanks for the emphasis of my previous point; and implemented.

          Are you the PR person for a nuclear power plant handle ?

          • handle

            Nuclear power is dangerous, despite expensive efforts to mitigate risk. Sorry, is that too many big words for you?

    • Colonial Viper 11.2

      I actually think that the Fukushima reactor has done bloody well.

      For a design from the 1960’s (NZ was just introducing decimal currency), it has so-far stood up well to a nearby magnitude 8.9 *and* a tsunami. Yes, I agree with other comments here, they are by no means out of the woods yet. However, as long as the critical reaction was 100% shut down, every additional hour of cooling they get through the reactor is a big benefit.

      Like ianmac I have a high degree of confidence in the latest Gen III and III+ reactors *however* the problem of nuclear waste disposal remains a huge one. Generation IV reactors are supposed to greatly improve that problem – but they are at least 20 years away.

  11. gingercrush 12

    This article is just as sensational as the fucks on TV. Its pathetic.

    • Marty G 12.1

      what specifically do you have an issue with?

    • Colonial Viper 12.2

      This article is just as sensational as the fucks on TV. Its pathetic.

      I dunno mate, one outer containment building blowing itself apart in a suspected zirconium oxidation/hydrogen/oxygen reaction and at least 5 reactors still on emergency status, I think the facts speak for themselves.

  12. gingercrush 13

    The water molecules quickly disassociate into hydrogen and oxygen due to the heat, with ignition once the hydrogen gets to combustible level. But the experts are still hopeful the explosion didn’t breach the inner containment around the core and is not a sign of a widespread radiation release. It’s possible the explosion occurred between the inner and out containment walls, leaving the inner one intact.

    It’s hard to share their optimism.

    Five other reactors, two of them at the same plant, are experiencing the same problem of fuel rod heat accumulating, threatening meltdown.

    If the core has been breached and radioactive dust is carried into the sky to fall over a wide area, we’re looking at a second Chernobyl.

    • bbfloyd 13.1

      gc..and your point being? i’m going to assume you aren’t just indulging in partisan political sledging caused by an inability to engage your brain with a genuinly serious issue that could well affect millions of people regardless of their political persuasion.

      i have seen it happen(non partisan comment) with other rwnj’s on here over this issue…. try it yourself.

  13. Afewknowthetruth 14

    Japan has been on a downward spiral for over two decades -a declining economy, a share market that is now 1/4 its peak numerical value and around 10% of peak in real terms, an extraordinarily high high suicide rate, a lost generation that stays home because there are ‘no jobs’, 127 million people almost totaly dependent on imports of raw materials and food, and unsustanable public debt levels- so recent events will simply accelerate the collapse which has been underway for a quite a while.

    It’s all very sad, but there is nothing to be done at this late stage in the game, other than try to minimise the misery.

    Industrial age humans may think they are very clever and are in control, but in reality nature bats last and will ultimately win the game.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      I think you’ll find that Japan remains a wealthy, high tech, well employed, industrialised economy. Albeit with a raft of significant social and financial issues to face up to.

      But who doesn’t have those?

      • Afewknowthetruth 14.1.1

        Societies which are in gross overshoot do not normally collapse instaneously, and since Japan is part of the globalised system it may be propped up for a while yet.

        Histrical evidence indicates collapse usually takes one generation. However, since Japan has to import all its oil and the volume of internationally traded oil is likely to decline by around 5% per annum after 2012, that suggests it will be all over for Japan by around 2018 at the latest.

        • Colonial Viper

          he volume of internationally traded oil is likely to decline by around 5% per annum after 2012, that suggests it will be all over for Japan by around 2018 at the latest.

          And that’s one reason Japan has so much nuclear power and electrified rail.

          They are one society which has thought this through a little you know.

          Any modern oil dependent economy i.e. all of them, is going to have a very hard time over the next 5-10 years. Not doubting that.

          • Bill

            …that’s one reason Japan has so much nuclear power and electrified rail.
            They are one society which has thought this through a little you know.

            I’m not so sure it was thought through at all CV. What options were they given? Japan’s expansionism through the 30’s was driven by a perceived need to secure resources (oil among them).

            After WW2, McArthur was basically in charge of Japan, set the parameters of its future civilian government and locked in a certain level of US influence. Now, I don’t know, but I’d guess that the US was anxious to mitigate at least some of the circumstances that led Japan to be expansionist in the first place. One part of the answer? Well, when nuclear power became an option, would it not have made sense for the US to ‘encourage’ or even ‘sponsor’ Japan to adopt that technology as a partial fix to it’s energy deficit?

            I don’t buy that a country with an obvious aversion to things nuclear and that’s sitting on fault lines would embark on nuclear power generation solely off it’s own bat.

            And I think ( And yes, this is in hindsight.) that any influence coming from the US and its massively powerful nuclear lobby vis a vis an ‘energy fix’ represents a lost opportunity for Japan in particular and the world in general with regards the current levels of technological advances made in ‘green’ energy generation.

            • Marty G

              I think that’s a long walk. Japan is poor in energy resources (the driver of the expansionism in the first place). It comes down to importing mega-amounts of coal/gas/oil or importing uranium for electricity.

              I’ve no doubt that there would have been opposition to nuclear in Japan but when they got into it there was an air of great optimism about nuclear power (‘too cheap to meter’ etc) and I think it would have looked like a better strategic option to need small, infrequent imports of uranium than constant, large imports of fossil fuels for their electricity.

  14. joe90 15

    Reuters report that another reactor is having problems.

    The emergency cooling system is no longer functioning at the No.3 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, requiring the facility to urgently secure a means to supply water to the reactor, an official of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference.

  15. Fisiani 16

    Over on Red Alert Trevor Mallard is pleading to keep NZ nuclear free.
    Ridiculous. He knows or at least should know thatthere is a longstanding nuclear irradiation plant in his own backyard in Upper Hutt.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      Trevor probably means nuclear power/nuclear weapons free.

      He probably does not mean that the cancer unit down at the hospital should ditch their radiation treatment gear.

      Think about it for a sec before you write Fis.

      • Lanthanide 16.1.1

        Yeah, lets get rid of all of our smoke detectors while we’re at it! Damn radioactive ores, they don’t provide any benefit to society!

        We should also dig up all of our soil and strain out all of the uranium and other trace elements, we can’t have any nuclear isotopes in NZ at all.

        • Colonial Viper

          Plus stay indoors today. That nuclear/cosmic radiation is dangerous.

          • Akldnut

            Plus remove those pesky power saving light bulbs and these damn mercury ridden computers & screens!

      • bbfloyd 16.1.2

        that’s a lot to ask of a turettes syndrome(fis) sufferer CV.. to think rationally.

        • weka

          Since when does having tourettes equal an inability to be rational?

          • Lanthanide

            Thanks weka, was going to say the same myself.

            My observations of bbfloyd indicate that he very seldom actually adds anything to the debate, instead he just slags people off and tries to insult them, but doesn’t give any evidence for his criticisms. Generally I just ignore him, but this was a bit out of line.

            • bbfloyd

              next time i’ll try to dumb it down for you… it was actually just a joke at the expense of fisi… of course turetttes sufferers are capable of rational thought, but the nature of the affliction is a tendency to blurt out inappropriate expletives etc… sorry if the connection was too esoteric…

              and you either don’t read all my comments, or fail to notice that the recipients of my “slagging” usually deserve it is revealing… i seem to remember taking you to task once when you were making questionable statements of “fact”… i can’t beleive you’ve been holding that against me for so long..

              btw…. i don’t believe that indulging in fisking is a constuctive way to debate ideas and issues… so critisizing those who simply put forward opinions without feeling the need to provide “proof” is churlish. if you disagree then fine. but try not to be precious about it and assume more than is necessary.

              • Bored

                Actually Floyd, you are exactly as Lanth describes you. A LWNJ, ill informed and constantly using abuse when your lack of intellect becomes obvious. A know it all, and incapable of criticism. Check your recent posts. Look in the mirror, see yourself as we see you as..useless. As a leftie having you bat on our side is embarassing.

                • bbfloyd

                  coming from you, i’ll take that as a compliment bored… i won’t bother with the personal retort you were hoping for…. even if your posts are less than engaging…

                  • Bored

                    Get beaten up a bit as a child Floyd? Feel the need to bully people? Inadequate unless you are being agressive? Keep taking the anger pills.

                    • bbfloyd

                      bored..that comment demeans us both… if you havn’t got anything to say apart from nasty personal abuse, i would suggest you say less… maybe kiwiblog would be a better fit for you…

              • weka

                “sorry if the connection was too esoteric”

                It wasn’t too esoterice, it was just ignorant. Using inaccurate portrayals of disability as a put down of someone who you disagree with or don’t like is naff. It also contributes to further public misunderstanding of and prejudice against disabilities.

                • bbfloyd

                  get a life weka……how many do you think actually read my comment? and of that number, how many were likely to assume a factual basis for it? so far only two…i think that’s probably the sum total… of course, there will be some who got the joke, and possibly thought that fisiani is the perfect target for it,, and(surprise) didn’t change their attitudes to disabled people a whit..

                  i would hazard aguess, from knowing e few people with challenging afflictions(family members included) that they would rather be left to speak for themselves.. being entirely capable of that… they don’t need your patronising.

                  • weka


                    I see what you mean Lanthanide.

                    • bbfloyd


                      [With everything else going on in the world right now I guess a sad little flame war on a blogsite really matters SFA. I hope you are all feeling better having got that out of your systems. Failing that take a long afternoon walk and find some perspective. ..RL]

                    • Bored

                      RL, you are right. I will desist. Apologies all round.

    • joe90 16.2

      Wow Fisi!, you’ve left out all the other gamma ray facilities. Idiot/

    • Afewknowthetruth 16.3

      Had forgotten that Daffy Duck was still around.

    • Marty G 16.4

      are you arguing that nz is not nuclear free now? because confusing gamma ray facilities for the nuclear reactions in a power plant is pretty silly.

    • ianmac 16.5

      Trevor didn’t write that and I have asked him who is its author. There is an American being quoted on media and he is the one connecting the Fukushima Daiichi with Chernobyl from the point of view of being an anti-nuclear advocate. Caution. Avoid jumping to conclusions.
      Try adding together global warming, growing over-population, peak oil, and the limits of wind water solar energy production. We will have to confront the problem of energy production because there is no way that we, will dispense with our energy usage so other forms must be considered.

      • Fisiani 16.5.1

        So we all agree that New Zealand has never been nuclear free. It is just a fact free slogan.
        That was the point I pointed out and now you all agree with me.
        Trevor DID write the headline.

        • Marty G

          NZ is nuclear free in that nuclear energy systems and weapons are banned. That is all the phrase ‘nuclear-free’ means.

          If you want nuclear-free to have to mean ‘no radioactive materials at all’ you have to get rid of (inter alia) all the smoke detectors and all the uranium ore that is found in low quantities in some of our national parks.

        • Mac1

          Fisiani, you can distinguish a “fact free slogan?”

          As Obelix once said, with hand over mouth, “Hmgmpfffpfffpfff!” Since you so love references being cited, “le tour de Gaulle d’Asterix” p.17.

          Translation follows………. “Hmgmpfffpfffpfff!”

          BTW, Wikipedia has the description-“A nuclear-free zone is an area where nuclear weapons (see nuclear-weapon-free zone) and/or nuclear power is banned.” So, no, we don’t agree with your definition.

  16. joe90 17

    Meltdown may be under way.

    [5:48 p.m. ET, 7:48 a.m. Tokyo] A meltdown may be under way at one of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear power reactors, an official with Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency told CNN Sunday.

    • Lanthanide 17.1

      From same link (6:30pm ET is 12:30 pm Sunday here):

      [6:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 a.m. Tokyo] At the moment, there is no evidence of a nuclear meltdown at one of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear power reactors in northern Japan, Japan’s ambassador to the United States said.

      “There was a concern about this reactor. We have confirmed that there was a blowup but it was not a blowup of reactor nor container. It was a blowup of the outer building so there was no leakage of the radioactive material,” Ichiro Fujisaki told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

      “We are now trying to cope with the situation by putting salt water into the reactor,” he said. “There are some other issues with other reactors as well, which need also injection of water or taking out vapor because of increasing pressure into the container and we are now working on it.”

      When asked if there may be a nuclear meltdown, Fujisaki said, “we do not see any evidence of that at this time.”

      Engineers have been unable to get close enough to the core to know what’s going on, an official with Japan’s nuclear and industrial safety agency told CNN Sunday. He based his conclusion on the fact that they measured radioactive cesium and radioactive iodine in the air Saturday night.

      “We see the possibility of a meltdown,” Toshihiro Bannai, director of the agency’s international affairs office, told CNN. “At this point, we have still not confirmed that there is an actual meltdown, but there is a possibility.”

      • joe90 17.1.1

        MSNBC uses meltdown but a closer look and the term isn’t clearly defined.

        A “meltdown” is not a technical term. Rather, it is an informal way of referring to a very serious collapse of a power plant’s systems and its ability to manage temperatures.
        Yaroslov Shtrombakh, a Russian nuclear expert, said a Chernobyl-style meltdown was unlikely.

        “It’s not a fast reaction like at Chernobyl,” he said. “I think that everything will be contained within the grounds, and there will be no big catastrophe.”

        In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded and caught fire, sending a cloud of radiation over much of Europe. That reactor — unlike the Fukushima one — was not housed in a sealed container, so there was no way to contain the radiation once the reactor exploded.

        Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes nuclear energy, told Friday that TEPCO was facing a potential catastrophe.

        “What’s critical is, are they able to restore cooling and prevent fuel damage? If the fuel starts to get damaged, eventually it will melt through the reactor vessel and drop to the floor of the containment building,” raising the odds that highly radioactive materials could be released into the environment, he said.

        But Steve Kerekes, spokesman for the U.S.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, said that while the situation was serious, a meltdown remains unlikely and, even if it occurred would not necessarily pose a threat to public health and safety.

      • Marty G 17.1.2

        trying to work out how you get a hydrogen explosion without the nuclear rods melting through their casing and disassociating the hydrogen in the water. No-one’s offered an explanation.

        Generally, the consensus seems to be a partial meltdown that hasn’t breached the inner containment layer.

        and the other comment is right, meltdown isn’t a technical term but everyone is using it in terms of the nuclear fuel assembly melting

        • KJT

          Water disassociates at 2500 degrees C. May be just high temperatures.

          • KJT


            “# (Corium) Relocation to the lower plenum. “In scenarios of small-break LOCAs, there is generally. a pool of water in the lower plenum of the vessel at the time of core relocation. Release of molten core materials into water always generates large amounts of steam. If the molten stream of core materials breaks up rapidly in water, there is also a possibility of a steam explosion. During relocation, any unoxidized zirconium in the molten material may also be oxidized by steam, and in the process hydrogen is produced. Recriticality also may be a concern if the control materials are left behind in the core and the relocated material breaks up in unborated water in the lower plenum.”[7]”

          • Marty G

            yeah but pretty bloody high temperature eh? the zirconium and uranium melt at lower temps

            • KJT

              About 1700K.

              Dosn’t mean there cannot be pockets of higher temperatures in the coolant circulation. I am just theorizing at the moment though.

              No doubt we will get more information as the day goes on.

  17. Marjorie Dawe 18

    This is really scary and I think a good reason to justify why we, as an earthquake prone country, should not be even thinking about nuclear power stations in NZ.

    • Lanthanide 18.1

      More modern reactor designs are smaller, cheaper and safer. They come with protection mechanisms based on gravity that don’t require power to operate, as is the problem with these Japanese ones at the moment – the power supply and backup power supplies both failed.

    • bbfloyd 18.2

      M.D..agreed wholeheartedly. 🙁

    • handle 18.3

      The economics do not stack up for this country to have nuclear power, regardless of safety concerns. It is a sad situation for Japan but this is a red herring for New Zealand.

    • KJT 18.4

      The most modern nuclear power stations are fail safe in that the coolant is part of the reactive material so that when it is lost the reaction cannot continue.
      Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear power reactors date from the 60’s. Considering the forces from this quake were many times the expected loads they actually are doing quite well. Remember it is many times bigger than any previously recorded in Japan.

      Many of us in the unti-nuclear demonstrations were against nuclear arms. Not necessarily against peaceful uses (Opposing X-ray machines, nuclear power generation (Provided waste issues can be sorted) and cancer treatments is daft.
      Not many Aussie’s know there has been an operating reactor in Sydney for years.
      In NZ nuclear power generation is not an option. With the current state of technology, it is way more expensive than the many other generation options we are lucky enough to have.

  18. Marjorie Dawe 19

    Just listening to RadioNZ and there is another nuclear power station at risk so they are going to issue iodine to help prevent thyroid cancer. I dont want us to be taking such desperate measures. Sorry all you greenies but I would much rather have hydro-electric development. At least the lakes left behind are beautiful (when the flora regrows) and couldnt we just relocate the snails etc??

  19. Marjorie Dawe 20

    Also everyone should have solar panels on their houses to power not only their water heating, but we should also be able to supply most of our own electricity needs. These should be affordable to all. The only problem is that the power companies couldn’t screw us for nearly as much money.

    • weka 20.1

      Actually the main problem is that we use to much energy in the first place.

    • infused 20.2

      Affordable to all. Yeah it’s great saying that, but it’s just not possible. You need a shit load of solar panels to power a house. I know as my dads just done it to run his house. $80,000.

      • Colonial Viper 20.2.1

        Yeah its a big, expensive ask. And you also need a whole lot of new appliances as its very difficult to get very much 240V from a solar set up.

        • bbfloyd

          do appliances need to be constucted to fun at 240v? or can they be adapted to run on 110v? i think that’s what the americans are using… (don’t quote me on that) if not, then i suppose that’s another plus the govt may be able to point to r:e; the free trade deal with them..

          • Bored

            Volts need to be balanced with amps and resistance (I = V/r)….better to understand the joules required then work out the energy supply type.

            • bbfloyd

              and? ……can that be adjusted on appliances allready here? i’m completely ignorant on technical data regarding this, but it seems to be relevant.

        • weka

          There’s no reason why every new house in NZ can’t be built using passive solar design and solar hot water. Any additional cost can be met by reducing the house size (we don’t need houses the size we build them now).

          Aucklanders could also learn how to put on a jersey in the winter.

          • Vicky32

            “Aucklanders could also learn how to put on a jersey in the winter.”
            We do! (Or at least I do, and my son did when he lived here). The other son has health issues (he can’t regulate his body temp., or shed waste heat, so he never feels cold! 🙂 )

    • ianmac 20.3

      MJ. Of course we would prefer renewable like Hydro, Solar, Wind, Marine. But the reality is that the wants plus needs are steadily outstripping the ability of the technology to keep up.
      Will more Hydro schemes be possible on any sort of scale? The available sites are full.
      Each house could have a domestic turbine on the roof beside the TV aerial but in the long term the known systems will not be enough.
      So what will the answer be? Nuclear power will have to be addressed preferably in a balanced way.

      • KJT 20.3.1

        We have lots of options in New Zealand. Geothermal, Hydro, tidal, wave, bio-mass, micro-generation locally, wind and solar. All of these plus reducing energy use with green buildings, electric transport, greater use of more efficient shipping and rail, more efficient appliances and sensible urban design could make NZ self sufficient in energy. Saving the overseas costs of importing energy as well as cutting carbon emissions.

        We are very fortunate that we have options and a low population, which do not exist in countries such as Germany or Korea.

        • ianmac

          KJT Yes. I agree with everything you have written. I do not yet understand why but NZ needs to continually increase population. Something to do with the economy crashing unless pop growth happens. It does seem likely that eventually the demand for energy will outstrip the supply. Especially because of droughts and peak oil etc. At some point all of those sources that you and others suggest, will not be enough. I have changed my mind a couple of years ago, from being anti all nuclear power to one of considering its possibility in the medium/long term.
          And that is before we get tangled in the international needs.

          • Pete

            I’ve changed my mind to a possibility of nuclear energy here too. I think it’s still preferable to avoid it if possible, but the choices may be tougher in the future. It’s ok for us to stand up against it in a time of plentiful oil, but future generations may not have the same energy on a cheap plate

        • Afewknowthetruth

          KJT People have been TALKING about all the the things you mentioned since the 1970s and there has been almost NO ACTION in 40 years. That should tell you something.

          A GDP based economy is geared to maximum CONSUMPTION. preferably of stuff supplied by global corporations now that we have a globalised consumer society.

          Right now the prime focus of government is CONSUMPTION of resources via shopping, rugby tournaments and motorway construction. Nothing will change until after the present system crashes. And it will far too late then.

          • KJT

            I don’t know how we can persuade people to do anything without talking.
            If enough of us talk enough the message will eventually get through.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yes NZ have plenty of energy options available, but people will still have to agree to the financial, environmental, visual pollution costs etc. that surrounds each option.

    • neoleftie 20.4

      well once more economic over a ten year period is solar hot water systems as opposed to solar panel systems. the israelis have done amazing work on renewable energy systems.
      We as a nation take ‘our land of plenty’ for granted and will reap our own downfall due to our inefficient and wasteful ways. Take water – turn a tap on and it appears like magic.
      I have noticied that the local city council new housing units have solar hot weater systems on their roofs so at least they are being proactive.

  20. joe90 21

    And the blame game is up and running with allegations that warnings about the plants ‘fundamental vulnerability’ were ignored.

    Several years ago, the seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko stated, specifically, that such an accident was highly likely to occur. Nuclear power plants in Japan have a “fundamental vulnerability” to major earthquakes, Katsuhiko said in 2007. The government, the power industry and the academic community had seriously underestimated the potential risks posed by major quakes.

    Katsuhiko, who is professor of urban safety at Kobe University, has highlighted three incidents at reactors between 2005 and 2007. Atomic plants at Onagawa, Shika and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa were all struck by earthquakes that triggered tremors stronger than those to which the reactor had been designed to survive.

    • bbfloyd 21.1

      from what i’ve been reading lately on this issue, it strikes me that it would be nearly impossible to build entirely “safe”, as in earthquake proof reactors.. even if one could entirely separate the reactor complex from it’s surroundings, thrugh, for instance, an independant suspension system, then how do you ensure thae safety of the necessary interface with the power grid? or would that not be necessary to ensure safety of the reactor itself…

      • KJT 21.1.1

        Again not an insurmountable engineering problem. If they can be built to survive the accelerations in a submarine then they can definitely be built to survive an earthquake.

        I have no doubt fail safe reactors can be built.

        The problem of spent fuel disposal remains however.

        Many countries, who are not as fortunate as us with sustainable power sources and low population, will have to decide which is preferable. Global warming, starvation or Nuclear power plants.

        • Afewknowthetruth

          The chief source of problems is [technological] solutions.

        • bbfloyd

          i read an article a while ago that attempted to explore the possibility of orbiting solar collecters…it’s an idea that appeals to my science fiction preferences as to reading matter, but i assume ther isn’t the level of technology available to make that viable..

          it would solve a lot of problems if it could be made to work..

        • bbfloyd

          so the theory that firing nuclear waste at the sun would eventually cause the earths atomic weight to decrease over time, and eventually create an imbalance that would change it’s orbit has weight?(pun intended)

          the howard govt were trying to set up nuclear waste dumps in the desret.. it got slapped down, but who knows how long before they try it again.

          • Rosy

            “the howard govt were trying to set up nuclear waste dumps in the desret.. it got slapped down, but who knows how long before they try it again”

            If they’re going to mine the stuff they should dipose of it. It might encourage more countries to take on nuclear power but the cost of disposal would be something Australia (and other uranium mining countries) would have to take into account in their decision to mine and pricing of the raw material.

  21. Jenny 22

    Official: ‘We see the possibility of a meltdown’

    “There is a possibility, we see the possibility of a meltdown,” said Toshihiro Bannai, director of the agency’s international affairs office, in a telephone interview from the agency’s headquarters in Tokyo. “At this point, we have still not confirmed that there is an actual meltdown, but there is a possibility.”
    A meltdown is a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release.
    Though Bannai said engineers have been unable to get close enough to the core to know what’s going on, he based his conclusion on the fact that they measured radioactive isotopes in the air Saturday night.
    “What we have seen is only the slight indication from a monitoring post of cesium and iodine,” he said. Since then, he said, plant officials have injected sea water and boron into the plant in an effort to cool its nuclear fuel and stop any reactions.

    But Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in Washington that he did not know of any evidence of a meltdown.
    “We are working on it,” he said. “We are getting information every hour on this issue.”
    And Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, raised another possible issue. “Some of the readings in the measurement equipment were not accurate,” he said without elaboration.
    He noted that since the inside of the pressure vessel has been filled with sea water, radiation levels in the area have not risen, implying that the problem was not worsening.

  22. nadis 24

    This is how nuclear will look in the future.

    and pebble bed rreactors

    • Colonial Viper 24.1

      Possibly, although as far as I can see they don’t have their design under consideration for final certification by the US NRC which to me means that their stated ship date for the first units in 2013 is not feasible.

      In fact I can’t even see if they have any working test reactors up and running.

  23. prism 25

    Will the drive to diminish CO2 be followed half-heartedly till it’s urgency is undeniable and then Nuclear reactors become TINA?

    • Bored 25.1

      Hope not Prism. It would be great if nuclear was safe and sustainable: The record is not promising, check this out.

      If there was just one Chernobyl every 100 years the danger would still be too high given that radiation at a dangerous level can contaminate for 100s thousands of years. Statistically its too unsafe.

      Throw into the mix unstable times with disaffected people, and a supply of uranium at current rate of use of 160 years. Its not an option.

      • Colonial Viper 25.1.1

        With the most modern reactor designs you can still get fairly serious accidents if everything goes wrong at once, but assuming things like gravity still works, Chernobyl type problems become 10,000 times less likely.

  24. Rodel 26

    All I can say say is thanks David and Helen.
    Glad the Brash’s and key’s weren’t in charge of our nuclear policies.
    I’m serious.

  25. bbfloyd 27

    rodel…i second that…

  26. prism 29

    This morning Dutch official was talking to Kathryn Ryan on our Public National Radio Station and he thought that nuclear could become necessary. He sounded thoughtful and considered in his opinion and I think we may have to consider it if we have to weigh up all the possibilities, as he appears to have done.
    10:05 Feature Guest – Yvo de Boer
    Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and former Dutch diplomat, Yvo de Boer speaks to Kathryn about his career. (duration: 35′08″)

    anti-spam – mother (What are you trying to tell me mother? Are you the ghost in the machine?)

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