Japan earthquake

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Mark.
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Mar 12 2011 10:25
Japan earthquake

Reports now talking about a possible meltdown

Quote:
News of the leak was confirmed by the Japanese government after the walls and roof at Fukushima Number 1 nuclear power plant were destroyed in the blast.

Plumes of white smoke were sent billowing into the sky and several workers at the station are thought to be injured.

Residents of the region have been urged to stay indoors, turn off air conditioning units and not to drink tap water.

Radioactivity in the control room at the plant is 1,000 times the normal level - and eight times the normal level in the area immediately outside the site.

It comes after Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission said the plant may be experiencing meltdown….

Mark.
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Mar 12 2011 11:26

EA liveblog

1050 GMT: The evacuation zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant has been extended to 20 km (12.5 miles) by the Government. There is frustration and worries that the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plants, has not released new radiation readings.

0803 GMT: Al Jazeera English has just reported an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant --- not in the reactor core --- which has injured several workers.

0720 GMT: While officials reassured that pressure has been successfully released from the Fukushima No. 1 reactor, Japan's state television NHK says rods in the reactor have begun their meltdown. Cesium and radioactive iodine, have been detected near the reactor.

MT
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Mar 12 2011 11:31

ehm, do we need this to be reported on libcom? I have fresher news from mass media on this and see no class perspective in any of it.

Mark.
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Mar 12 2011 11:39

I'm not sure really - I'm open to people's opinions.

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Mar 12 2011 12:08

Well I for one am very worried about the workers at the plant. They're working in what could become (in the worst case) lethal conditions.

Also, if it turns out that Tepco were running an unsafe facility, that potentially changes the whole story.

From the Guardian:

Quote:
"Getting information out of the nuclear industry is never easy (a legacy perhaps of its Cold War origins) and the Japanese political system is also notorious for keeping a tight lid on unwelcome news. This all means it will be hard to know what is exactly happening at any one time at Fukushima.

"But I have been talking to a top British nuclear engineer who visited that plant in Japan and he says it was built in the 1970s and is not as earthquake-proof as later models. He also said there had long been speculation about how strong was the containment dome over the top of the reactor - the final barrier for any radioactive emissions to be released into the environment.

"It is also not the first time there have been problems at Fukushima. There have been reports of a loss-of-power incident in June last year. I have also seen suggestions that one reactor at the complex began using MOX (mixed plutonium-uranium) fuel starting in September."

Samotnaf
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Mar 12 2011 12:44
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if it turns out that Tepco were running an unsafe facility

There's no such thing as a safe nuclear facility, so there's no "if" about it. Constructing a nuclear facility on a faultline is doubly stupid, but then bourgeois science never cares about the use to which it is put. And let's hope we don't hear from all those strawmanners who justify bourgeois science that an attack on nuclear power is primitivist or hippy.
What we shall probably hear from the nuclear power lobby is that the levels of radioactivity are not too dangerous (the nuke industry is always upping the amounts of becquerels the human body can "safely" endure). It might be worth looking at Semprun's text on Chernobyl - "Abyss" (not available online yet, but reproduced in this book here) for the propaganda war that the Japanese State and the nuke industry will roll out (eg - "this is not going to happen in any of the post-70s nuke facilities, because the industry learnt from 3 mile island", blah blah etc.), and for the more obviously ridiculous aspects of this propaganda that they won't repeat (eg in France, it took the media and the State 3 weeks to admit, in effect, that radioactivity could cross the Italian border without a passport).

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Mar 12 2011 13:02
Sam wrote:
It might be worth looking at Semprun's text on Chernobyl - "Abyss" (not available online yet, but reproduced in this book here)

It's been in the library for a long time; http://libcom.org/library/abyss-encyclopedie-nuisances-1986

Semprun wrote:
“The Ukrainian disaster was followed by a veritable bacchanal of unreason wherein not a sober voice was to be heard. For more than a month, as the winds from Chernobyl continued to blow, power's experts, who in France regretted having upset us at first by saying nothing, now undertook to reassure us by saying anything at all. Flanked by their communications people, they put on a show that defied parody...
Indoctrination of this kind, so poorly disguised as information, always bears the clear marks of its origin. Uncontrollable statistics and unverifiable figures are solemnly trotted out, for all the world as though the whole of society consisted of docile civil servants; and incomprehensible acronyms - designating obscure but presumably powerful institutions - are pompously produced one after the other, like the litanies of a self-satisfied cleric who can be sure of awed respect from his audience. "
Mark.
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Mar 12 2011 13:18

Report from nuclear industry source

Battle to stabilise earthquake reactors

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jesuithitsquad
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Mar 12 2011 13:31

has anyone heard from mike harman? he is there right?

Samotnaf
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Mar 12 2011 14:51

RedM:

Googled it, but it didn't come up, but maybe because I put in "Semprun" rather than the "Encyclopedie des nuisances".

Quote:
has anyone heard from mike harman? he is there right?

PMed him about 8 hours ago, but no reply so far; still, Japan's a fairly big place...

Sir Vile Minds
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Mar 12 2011 14:53
Mark. wrote:
Report from nuclear industry source

Battle to stabilise earthquake reactors

Call me an idiot but it says that seawater is being injected into the plant. Is this just a fancy word for leaking or a technique they're using to try and prevent/lower the meltdown?

Just watched the explosion video here. Let's just hope it doesn't catch the reactor.

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Ed
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Mar 12 2011 14:59

Yeah, he's okay. I wrote a panicked message to internal but thankfully all is well with him.. smile

radicalgraffiti
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Mar 12 2011 15:22
Sir Vile Minds wrote:
Mark. wrote:
Report from nuclear industry source

Battle to stabilise earthquake reactors

Call me an idiot but it says that seawater is being injected into the plant. Is this just a fancy word for leaking or a technique they're using to try and prevent/lower the meltdown?

i think they are going to flood the reactor area with sea water to keep it cool, this means that they cant use there normal water supply and have abandon any idea of salvaging the reactor, because sea water is vary impure and will really mess up the reactor.

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 12 2011 16:31

in Germany, there were today ~ 60.000 at a "human chain" between the city of Stuttgart and the nuclear power station of Neckarwestheim; the demonstration was planned some weeks ago against the extention of operation time of nuclear power stations by the government, before the incidents in Japan, the organizers of the demonstration had expected only 10.000-20.000. Today in the evening and tomorrow, there will be more (unplanned) anti-nuclear demonstrations in more than 15 cities in Germany

Mark.
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Mar 12 2011 16:43

A reassuring article from the World Nuclear Association ('Representing the people and organisations of the global nuclear profession') on nuclear power plants in Japan and elsewhere and the risk from earthquakes and tsunamis. I guess it will need updating now.

Nuclear power plants and earthquakes

Samotnaf
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Mar 12 2011 19:24

From "Nuclear power plants and earthquakes":

Quote:
In France for instance, nuclear plants are designed to withstand an earthquake twice as strong as the 1000-year event calculated for each site.

But they don't need to have earthquakes to have significant leaks; a couple of years ago there was a big leak in one of the reactors (forget where) and Areva, the company owning it, didn't inform anyone in the area for close to 24 hours, during which several thousand had been drinking the contaminated water. But, of course, the effects won't be felt for years yet, and who will be able to prove the cancer was due to the nuclear industry? With at least 59 nuclear power stations, France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy, and nuclear power has been pushed by the scientific socialists of the French Stalinist Party, as well as the right-wing, ever since 1945 when the Stalinists were in coalition with the Gaullists. When the Greens joined Jospins' Socialist Party govt. in the 1990s they justified supporting the continuation of the nuclear power building programme with the ideology that if the programme was stopped, the companies would just start building a lot more in India to make up for their losses, and that just wouldn't be fair to the third world.
Bit of a diversion from the Japanese "serious accident but not a nuclear catastrophe" as one leading French government minister (Besson) reassuringly called it today.

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subprole
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Mar 12 2011 19:46

http://signalfire.org/?p=8486

Valeriano Orobó...
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Mar 13 2011 09:46

Attention, japanese government warns about a second explosion (i'm frankly amazed about the extraordinary advantages of nukes power):

http://www.rtve.es/noticias/

(You have a japanese telly live-stream too)

Samotnaf
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Mar 13 2011 09:53

Japan's contribution to the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, which is in 6 weeks time. Pity that much of the critique of nuke power is so liberal, but the article previously mentioned on this thread, considering particularly that it was an instant response, is a good radical critique.

Valeriano Orobó...
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Mar 13 2011 10:17

Good article, yes, pretty semprunesque (not a fault at all) In spanish has just been released a text by semprun (maybe a posthumous one) that insists in the same position called "Catastrofismo" (pehaps "Catastrophism" in english?) I still remember i think it was in Anselm Jappe's account of Debord that he reproduced an oppinion expressed in the Nuisances bulletin saying that for the first time in history, survival instinct could be counted among the ideas supporting revolution.

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Noa Rodman
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Mar 13 2011 12:29
Quote:
ehm, do we need this to be reported on libcom? I have fresher news from mass media on this and see no class perspective in any of it.

This liveupdating is obscene and in this case it's better to 'go watch the birds outside'. But it's all so predictable that leftists are gonna try to give things a "class perspective". You already see with the example Entdinglichung mentioned in Germany how they cash in on this disaster. Next there will be stories of cleanup workers receiving too little pay, working long hours, wearing not enough protection, etc. All true, but is this really the best time to display your undoubtedly sincere care for safety of working conditions.

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I still remember i think it was in Anselm Jappe's account of Debord

cry

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Mar 13 2011 13:37

**COMMUNIQUE FROM UNCONTROLLABLE THREAD-READER**

Dear users of libcom, as I am unable to stop clicking on new threads even when the title is quite clear that its content is something I'm not interested in, I am demanding that:

1. You ONLY write about things I am interested in
2. That you under NO circumstances write about things you are interested in unless it has a direct relation to the struggle for libertarian communism, as I have no wish to converse with you about other topics.
3. That you DISCIPLINE yourselves when writing so that you do not inadvertently venture an opinion on aspects of any event you are writing about that I might find annoying.

If you collectively FAIL to abide by these demands, I shall whinge at the admins! For liberty!

Valeriano Orobó...
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Mar 13 2011 13:47
Noa Rodman wrote:
Quote:
I still remember i think it was in Anselm Jappe's account of Debord

cry

What's up rodman, don't like old guy or young jappe's work on him?

gypsy
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Mar 13 2011 15:45
Ed wrote:
Yeah, he's okay. I wrote a panicked message to internal but thankfully all is well with him.. :)

I pm'ed him but didn't get a reply. So glad to hear hes allrite.

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Mar 13 2011 16:58

Commode Failure

Sunday, March 13---I've been asked to provide a brief primer on the situation in Japan. I have no special access to news and up-to-date information is scarce so I will not attempt to encapsulate the rapidly changing reports. I will address some background issues and give some prognostication of what might be expected.

Both affected reactors are US-made light-water reactors of the Three Mile Island type, manufactured by GE in the 1960s. The good news is that we are dealing more with a TMI-type disaster than a Chernobyl-type disaster. Chernobyl was not a light-water reactor and its meltdown consequences were of a much greater scale than anything we might expect here, at least in terms of long-range fallout. (Short-range could be very nasty.) That is, the dramatic effects will be limited geographically and we probably will not see problems like the post-Chernobyl contamination of Mediterranean grapes and olives.

The bad news is that the TMI accident in 1979 was relatively easy to control because there had not been a massive earthquake. So TMI could be limited to a partial core meltdown with most infrastructure and some monitoring systems remaining intact. The real problem in Japan as I understand it is that the infrastructure is gone -- general power failure, mucked up roads inhibiting the movement of generators, etc. may mean that it's not even possible to get on-site monitoring systems to function. This is self-escalating because the worse the problem gets, the more impossible it becomes to keep personnel on site. Staying on-site becomes a suicide mission.

In that sense it is like Chernobyl in that Chernobyl was saved from becoming a much greater calamity by the literal sacrifice of about 200 employees, who stayed on-site knowing their radiation doses would be lethal. I interviewed a number of those workers -- such courage is not a trait of the post-industrial world. An open question is whether that will be possible in Japan, given cultural factors, etc.

Whether or not the kamikaze mentality remains in Japan, we could well see a full core meltdown, or two -- essentially TMI if the worst case had unfolded. Refer to the eerily prescient film China Syndrome for the judgment that an area "the size of Pennsylvania" would be rendered uninhabitable -- meaning all northern Japan. But once again, if there's a silver lining -- we would not see as dramatic long-range fallout as we did with Chernobyl, probably. Different isotopes are involved. Californians need not panic.

That two reactors are in crisis suggests we are dealing with that old bane of the nuclear industry -- Common Mode Failure or Commode Failure for short. The nuclear industry fended off safety critics by building in redundant safety systems. The problem, as critics have charged for forty years, is that such redundant systems are subject to common causes of failure -- like massive earthquakes. You can put a fire alarm in your house, and a second, and a third, but if your house is hit by a meteorite, all bets are off.

It has been an intellectual argument since TMI as to whether the new redundancy systems really solved the Commode Failure problem or not, since engineers got very creative at exorbitant prices. That debate may now be considered resolved.

So beyond the human suffering issues -- which I can't yet estimate or fathom -- all those "Nuclear Renaissance" projections are now looking pretty Dark Age. Look for nuclear stocks to tumble like a tumbleweed in a hurricane on Monday.

This is especially true since the accident happened in Japan, which was ballyhooed as the world leader in achieving "safe nuclear power." "Why can't we do it like Japan?" -- the slogan actually used by the US nuclear industry, now will have quite a different ring. This is even more especially true since the reactors involved are US-made.

From a policy perspective this will be a big challenge for the Obama Administration and Congress, since Obama just proposed in his State of the Union Address a batch of $36 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. For the federal government to offer a loan guarantee after this Japanese disaster would be like having the government invest treasury funds in an incandescent light bulb factory run by crack addicts.

One might hope that the loan guarantees for this industry will disappear. Then again, I hope for world peace.

If the worst-case scenario does unfold in Japan, we will also see an unprecedented wave of calls for the shutdown of operating light-water reactors, all of which are aging beyond design specifications. The NRC is just now considering issues related to extension of reactor lifetimes. Neither TMI nor Chernobyl involved the full meltdown of a light-water reactor. Certainly such reactors near major cities, like Indian Point, and those in earthquake zones, will have to be shut down. The resulting sudden loss of generating capacity may be one of the biggest effects of this calamity, coming at a time when oil prices are at a peak.

How Japan will now produce its power is an open question, since it had gone to nuclear in desperation. I suppose the possibilities are that Japan might generally "dedevelop" from the combined effects of the earthquake, lack of energy options, and financial crisis. Or Japan could rapidly become a powerhouse of renewable energy, a direction in which it was already heading.

Yet another possibility is that Japan will place the blame on the US light water reactor type and move to shut down only those reactors. In that case this could feed a general world renunciation of US nuclear "assistance" agreements, which would be most interesting in many ways.

-- Geoffrey Sea

Quote:
Geoffrey Sea, with a training in nuclear and reactor physics, long experience inside both the US nuclear-industrial complex (working for the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union) and the downwinder communities of the Western United States and Kazakhstan, helps us think clearly about the news, and the silence, coming out of Fukushima.
Intifada1988
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Mar 13 2011 17:01

Oh god here comes the Anti-nuke people

Two words: Boron Reactors

Also, Japanase gov't knows what it needs to do to cool the reactors down. Up until this point I feel they've been trying to simply salvage the instrument. This plant is way safer than Chernobyl was if you read into it.

Samotnaf
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Mar 13 2011 17:40

Hieronymous - very interesting article - where's it from?

Intifada88:

Quote:
Oh god here comes the Anti-nuke people

Oh human - here come the Pro-Nuke apologists.

Quote:
Japanase gov't knows what it needs to do to cool the reactors down.

You sure? I mean, do you believe all that reassuring propaganda - or do you know something different?

Here in France, endless discussions are taking place between the nuclear unclear experts trying to get their story right and provide the Japanese nuclear industry and the Japanese State with the "reassuring" scripts to pacify the population, and not cause a massive exodus from the areas hit.
Everytime I hear those sweetly calming words "Don't worry - there's nothing we can't handle" I think "Get the fuck out as quick as you can".

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Mar 13 2011 22:50

Also in the library - on the nuclear industry, disasters and the 1970s anti-nuke movements; http://libcom.org/library/strange-victories-midnight-notes

Sir Arthur Stre...
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Mar 13 2011 23:20

Nuclear power plants malfunctioning has nothing to do with the fact they are nuclear. The industry involved will cut corners safety wise and will mislead the public over all sorts of crucial details, but that's not exactly unique is it?
Nuclear is very risky, but only because of shoddy implementation and the obvious pursuit of profit.
In other words it's a terrible idea under capitalism, but not scientifically.

radicalgraffiti
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Mar 13 2011 23:27

i fully agree with that, there are no technical reasons why nuclear power is unsafe, only capitalist ones.
This is something scientists tend to forget, they realise that nuclear power could be safe, but they rarely realise why it isn't

Valeriano Orobó...
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Mar 13 2011 23:36

Perhaps that's true:

Quote:
Quote:
Nuclear is very risky, but only because of shoddy implementation and the obvious pursuit of profit.
In other words it's a terrible idea under capitalism, but not scientifically.

But actually the arguments in this thread that tried to support nukes made no effort to put it that way. To defend science today in a totally detached way, separating it of the conditions it is put into practice it's socially totally useless and it explains or says nothing about the consequences to human beings.