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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The BBC’s disaster

I watched the BBC today with disgust. Because of the Japanese reactor problems, (I won’t call them a disaster, as I’m amazed that the power plant could withstand simultaneously, an 8.9 Richter scale earthquake and a tsunami at the same time,), their green credentials were shining through like a world war two searchlight. They were in a state of near hysteria in trying to get the message across that Nuclear, was the spawn of the devil. However it was  their own choice of nuclear experts that did much to scupper their aim at taking us back to the stone age. Twice I saw experts calmly state that the radiation releases were what was to expected when you prevent a dangerous over pressurising of the containment vessel, by releasing gases to the atmosphere. And more so that the levels were no cause for alarm. The presenters hated that.

When I consider that the 50 or so plant operatives and the local emergency services must be working in such hard and dangerous circumstances, I’m amazed at what they’ve accomplished.

Of course you hear nothing from the BBC of the heroism that is going on by the minute.

Then again the BBC only has one agenda. It doesn’t do normal.

And before you tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I passed,  first in my class in NBCD (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical warfare, and damage Control). And I held a Nuclear Secret vetting until I retired.


  1. Nuclear Secret vetting?

    You were the guy with the bike padlock key then?

  2. No QM, the top brass had chain cutters. Keys can be lost.

    I've watched TV off and on today too FE, between Sky and the BBC. Both channels seem desperate for a massive leak - that would fit their agenda perfectly.

    It was quite chilling at times to watch their enthusiasm yet they didn't appear to have any compassion for the thousands dead or many thousands completely homeless. I do hope the Japanese recover from this as quickly as possible although I won't be contributing to any of the charitable pleas for cash that are now appearing as I knew full well the money won't be going to where it should.

  3. Yes, I listened to the World at One and wasn't Martha trying hard to trip their studio expert! I didn't catch his name but he spoke a lot of sense and put the low risk into perspective despite her attempts to make him say otherwise.

  4. Here's the point at which my piss boiled over to evaporating point with the BBC:

    Japan's Nikkei plunges more than 10% on radiation fears

    Just the headline and the byline are by far the worst, most blatant piece of propaganda that I've ever seen on the BBC.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I'm *sure* something else happened recently that would cause the Nikkei to crash?

  5. Subrosa.

    It was a shameless act of trying to milk a disaster out of suffering. Truly a despicable act of two outdated monoliths that needs to be disbanded.

    I donate to the red cross and the RNLI and just hope that they spend my largess wisely.

  6. Indeed. But if you want some real heroics look at what Tom Tuohy and others did during the Windscale fire:

    Some highlights:
    - trying to push white-hot fuel elements throguh the pile with a bit of old scaffolding.
    - climbing on top of the reactor building to have a look down on the fire.
    - eventually extinguishing the fire by flooding the whole thing.

    Here's Wikipedia's descripiton of the end results:

    'Finally he [Tuohy] managed to pull the inspection plate away and was greeted with the sight of the fire dying away.

    "First the flames went, then the flames reduced and the glow began to die down," he described, "I went up to check several times until I was satisfied that the fire was out. I did stand to one side, sort of hopefully," he went on to say, "but if you're staring straight at the core of a shut down reactor you're going to get quite a bit of radiation."

    Water was kept flowing through the pile for a further 24 hours until it was completely cold.

    The reactor tank itself has remained sealed since the accident and still contains about 15 tonnes of uranium fuel - which, due to the presence of pyrophoric uranium hydride formed in the original water dousing, could still reignite if disturbed. "Nobody has touched it for almost 50 years because of a fear that it could either catch fire again or go critical and explode."[6] The pile is not scheduled for final decommissioning until 2037.'

    Amazingly Tuohy lived until 2008.

  7. A few years back when there was a dispute going on over the Israel border, I was tuning into some of the live satellite "feeds" from reporters camped on an adjacent hillside. During a lull in the bombing, a female reporter came out with a comment to the effect that she wished someone would drive a tanker full of petrol down to the nearby town and set fire to it, as she was "bored".

    Unfortunately I didn't have the recorder running....

    This sort of thing is nothing unusual, but you won't see any of it on TV "out-takes" programmes.

  8. Hang on a mo. Journalists use sensationalism and scaremongering as tools of their trade - just as spanners and AutoCad are an engineer's tools.

    You or I might build a 'safe' boiler or aircraft, but a nuclear power station in an earthquake/tsunami zone comes at a very very high price. Too high, and politicians must and do decide that some deaths in the event of a rare event are 'acceptable'. Without the BBC et al 'some' becomes 'many'.

    As for the next nuc - "If in doubt, make it stout, out of things you know about and bugger the cost" is my advice.

  9. Generation 3 Nukes are much safer than generation 2 as they use natural circulation of the coolant. The Japanese ones are level 2.

    Just for info.

  10. From various articles I've read it seems the main problem was the failure of the back-up diesel generators, which prevented the cores from being cooled down properly. The actual earthquake didn't seem to do too much damage?

    One hopes that whatever replaces these units will have a backup that can survive both earthquakes, AND any subsequent flooding...

  11. Hi FE, since you are nuclear trained, could you please comment upon this item...>
    There is a worse problem though. Probably in an effort to keep the problem of nuclear waste hidden from the public, these plants feature huge pools of water up in the higher level of the containment building above the reactors, which hold and store the spent fuel rods from the reactor. These rods are still “hot” but besides the uranium fuel pellets, they also contain the highly radioactive and potentially biologically active decay products of the fission process–particularly radioactive Cesium 137, Iodine 131 and Strontium 90. (Some of GE’s plants in the US feature this same design. The two GE Peach Bottom reactors near me, for example, each have two spent fuel tanks sitting above their reactors.)

    As Robert Alvarez, a former nuclear energy adviser to President Bill Clinton, has written, if these waste containers, euphemistically called “ponds,” were to be damaged in an explosion and lose their cooling and radiation-shielding water, they could burst into flame from the resulting burning of the highly flammable zirconium cladding of the fuel rods, blasting perhaps three to nine times as much of these materials into the air as was released by the Chernobyl reactor disaster. (And that’s if just one reactor blows!) Each pool, Alvarez says, generally contains five to ten times as much nuclear material as the reactors themselves. Alvarez cites a 1997 Nuclear Regulatory Commission study that predicted that a waste pool fire could render a 188-square-mile area “uninhabitable” and do $59 billion worth of damage (but that was 13 years ago)
    Peter Melia (steam, oil-fired only), no nuclear background)

  12. Yep, the reactors coped with the quake. They shutdown properly. They also survived the tsunami. What didn't survice the tsunami was the diesel generators. The backup backups then kicked in, but being batteries they only lasted eight hours. Then they brought in fire engines. But they couldn't keep up and a reactor blew. Even that didn't harm the reactors themselves. What is destroying the reactors is the lack of cooling. But even then the nuclear fuel will at most make a mess at the bottom of the reactor. And any radiation that escapes is minimal. An increase of 5 times normal levels in Tokyo is nothing when the normal level is 0.02mSv, it's still way below levels that could cause problems even if you had a long exposure.


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