Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fukushima Power Plant: Explosion, Yes; Reactor, No

That is not a picture of the Fukushima reactor that exploded.

First, it's not the reactor at all.

Second, the reactor didn't explode.

Third, that's a picture of a petroleum tank in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture. It was destroyed on March 11, 2011, a result of the earthquake. It's a Kyodo News photo, taken March 12, 2011.

It's an impressive photo, and a good illustration of the sort of destruction that Japan's dealing with just now.

It's not, in the Lemming's opinion, a good illustration of what's going on at the Fukushima power plant. The news service whose headline referred to 'reactor' and 'explosion,' over another, larger, version of that picture: changed the article. Good for them.

The Lemming's opined about journalists, news, and emotionalism before.

Fukushima power plant: Explosion

There really was an explosion at the Fukushima power plant. But not at the Fukushima power plant's reactor.

There's a difference.

"Explosion did not occur at reactor: Japan gov't spokesman"
Kyodo News (English) (March 12, 2011)

"Japanese authorities have confirmed there was an explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Saturday afternoon but it did not occur at its troubled No. 1 reactor, top government spokesman Yukio Edano said.

"The chief Cabinet secretary also told an urgent press conference that the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has confirmed there is no damage to the steel container housing the reactor.

"Edano said the 3:36 p.m. explosion caused the roof and the walls of the building housing the reactor's container to be blown off. He said there has been no serious damage to the steel container of the reactor.

"The blast occurred as vapor from the container turned into hydrogen and mixed with outside oxygen, he added.

"As a precaution, the authorities expanded from 10 kilometers to 20 km the radius of the area to be evacuated by residents living in the vicinity of the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2. plants.

"The top government spokesman said Tokyo Electric Power has begun operations to fill the reactor with sea water and pour in boric acid to prevent an occurrence of criticality, noting it may take several hours to inject water into the reactor. In addition, it will take about 10 days to fill the container with sea water, he said...."

More articles with a reasonable amount of detail about the Fukushima power plant's problems:
Elizabeth Piper, who put that Reuters Africa article together, deserves credit for researching the topic. Also for giving the names and positions of the "experts." And letting quite a bit of the "experts' " explanations through - not just the scariest little snippets. Kudos.

Godzilla, Rodan, and New Technologies

Television news here in America is ringing the changes on 'is nuclear power safe.' In the Lemming's opinion, nuclear power isn't safe. No technology is.

Not if "safe" means "absolutely guaranteed to never cause trouble."

We don't hear much about the perils of flint knapping these days - probably because most folks stopped depending on flint tools quite a while ago. It's a dangerous technology, though: a person could get cut, or mash fingers between stones.

As for fire: we've been using that for uncounted generations, and still burn down our dwellings occasionally.

The Lemming can't recall anyone seriously proposing that we stop using fire, despite disasters like the 1871 Chicago Fire, 1666 London Fire, or 1657 Furisode/Long Sleeve Fire. That, in the Lemming's opinion, is sensible. Fire is dangerous, no question about that. It's also very useful. Here in central Minnesota, we'd have a hard time surviving in winter if we didn't use fire - directly or indirectly.

Why no 'anti-fire power' protests? In the Lemming's opinion, it's largely due to folks having grown up with fire - in cultures that didn't exist when fire was first used. 'We've always done it that way.' It's been around for so long that the Lemming suspects that artificially generated, maintained, and directed fire is often regarded as "natural," like rain or sunlight.

There's a political angle, too, in the Lemming's opinion: but this isn't a political blog. Moving on.

Nuclear power isn't, as the Lemming opined, safe. Neither is any technology. Not "safe" in the sense of "absolutely harmless and reliable."

The Lemming thinks that nuclear power plants should be designed sensibly - like the one at Fukushima. That's just common sense, like making sure that LP gas storage tanks don't leak. The Lemming also thinks that, entertaining as movies starring Godzilla and Rodan are, and for that matter Hell Comes to Frogtown, nuclear energy is just one more technology: one that can be used sensibly, and with a reasonable degree of safety.

Although it's getting the bulk of the press, the nuclear power plants affected by the March 11 quake may not be Japan's biggest concern just now. Petroleum storage and processing plants caught fire during the earthquake and disaster - and at least one is still burning today.

And that's another topic.

Related posts:

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory