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Calm Down; The Japanese Are Not Trying to Kill You

Published by marco on

Seriously, calm down. Stop babbling about how the Japanese are a closed society that would rather immolate our whole planet, taking us all down with them as they refuse to admit any mistakes made in an effort to avoid losing face.

It’s all bullshit, just like all such blanket statements about millions of people are.

I’m going to put this right here: Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors by Dr Josef Oehmen.

Read it. It explains pretty well why a small explosion on top of a cooling tower in no way implies that radioactive rain will be melting faces in LA tomorrow.

First, the earthquake was “5 times more powerful than the worst earthquake the nuclear power plant was built for”. The control rods were introduced and the reactor was shut down. The next step was to get rid of the remaining latent heat. However, the “tsunami took out all multiple sets of backup Diesel generators”, which were transporting that heat away. The engineers had to fall back a few “Depths of Defense” lines and ended up preparing for a meltdown because they could not get sufficient power with which to disperse all of the latent heat. However, this had also been planned for and the “the core catcher and third containment” were built to manage and contain such a meltdown with no radiation leakage. Those parts were not damaged by the earthquake in any way that would have prevented them from doing that job.

Even if there were to be a full meltdown, there would not have been another Chernobyl:

“It is worth mentioning at this point that the nuclear fuel in a reactor can *never* cause a nuclear explosion the type of a nuclear bomb. Building a nuclear bomb is actually quite difficult (ask Iran). In Chernobyl, the explosion was caused by excessive pressure buildup, hydrogen explosion and rupture of all containments, propelling molten core material into the environment (a “dirty bomb”).”

But before we get ahead of ourselves, the engineers were still managing the heat, hoping to be able to get a cooling solution in place before they had to accept a full meltdown. So they “started venting steam from time to time to control the pressure”; that means that huge clouds of white “smoke” (steam and radioactive nitrogen with a short half-life that decayed and was rendered inert within seconds) appeared and the world media went into OMG “radiation leakage”!!! overdrive.

However, periodic venting was not enough and the control rods had just about boiled away enough water that they became exposed to air.

“But Plan A had failed – cooling systems down or additional clean water unavailable – so Plan B came into effect. This is what it looks like happened:

“In order to prevent a core meltdown, the operators started to use sea water to cool the core. I am not quite sure if they flooded our pressure cooker with it (the second containment), or if they flooded the third containment, immersing the pressure cooker.”

The article ends with a wonderful bullet list of how science will save us all (that last was written with no sarcastic intent whatsoever). Of course, you can also believe that nuclear scientists the world over are trying to radiate you just like climate scientists are trying to make you give up your carbon lifestyle.

Those of you who cling to your conspiracy theories like a security blanket as you cower on the bed wondering whether the boogie-man will come from the closet or from under the bed will continue to do so no matter what you read. However, it seems that the Japanese power plants performed above and beyond the call of duty (or, in this case, above and beyond their design parameters). Thank you, science.

Further reading: