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  • Morning Bell: Nuclear Facts to Remember While Following Japan

    The true scope of the devastation in Japan caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami are still unknown. While the official death toll has surpassed 1,000, the police chief of the Miyagi Prefecture said Sunday there is “no question” that at least 10,000 people have died in just his region alone. Japan has mobilized 100,000 troops for rescue missions, and at least three U.S. Navy ships of the USS Ronald Reagan strike group are assisting in relief efforts. Yet, despite the gravity of the situation, some on the left in this country are already politicizing the disaster to score points against the nuclear power industry.

    Representative Edward Markey (D–MA) released a statement Saturday comparing the current situation in Japan to Chernobyl and called on the Obama Administration to impose a moratorium on all new nuclear reactors. What is happening in Japan right now is nothing like Chernobyl, and imposing a moratorium on the nuclear industry would be as big a policy blunder as the Obama Administration’s offshore drilling moratorium after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

    The cable news networks and newspapers are filled with frightening headlines like “Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months” that will aid Markey’s anti-nuclear crusade. But the reality is far removed from the hype. Here are some cold hard facts to keep in mind as news continues to come in from Japan:

    • The low levels of radiation currently being released will likely have no biological or environmental impact. Humans are constantly exposed to background radiation that likely exceeds that being released.
    • The Chernobyl disaster was caused by an inherent design problem and communist operator error that is not present at any of the nuclear plants in Japan.
    • There were no health impacts from any of the radiation exposure at Three Mile Island.
    • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. It already regulates enough.
    • The plant in trouble in Japan is over 40 years old. Today’s designs are far more advanced.
    • No one has ever been injured, much less killed, as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S.

    The danger that Japanese engineers are currently grappling with should not be minimized: what is happening right now with Japan’s reactors could lead to a meltdown and significant release of radiation. You could also get hit by a car on your way to work today. But that is not what is likely to occur. What is likely to occur is that Japanese officials will continue to operate professionally and oversee the orderly cooling of these plants.

    Events unfolding in Japan ought to have no impact on the current U.S. reactor fleet or future plans to expand that fleet. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. We need to remember that nuke plants are privately owned and that their owners have every incentive to maintain safe operations. The government’s role should simply be to set and enforce fair, efficient, and effective safety and environmental standards and allow private industry to meet them. Anti-nuke crusaders like Markey make this balance impossible. If the risk of nuclear power is too great, investors will put their money somewhere else.

    Quick Hits:

    • Litigation and regulation are stalling 351 U.S. energy projects that could create as many as 1.9 million jobs and increase the nation’s gross domestic product by $1.1 trillion.
    • Energy executive tells Reuters: “The deepwater drilling moratorium has been lifted in name only.”
    • Chief State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley resigned Sunday after calling the treatment of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley E. Manning “counterproductive and stupid.”
    • On April 1, the U.S. will have the world’s highest corporate tax rate.
    • ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, and NPR all ignored death threats to Wisconsin Republicans.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    103 Responses to Morning Bell: Nuclear Facts to Remember While Following Japan

    1. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      3-14-11 FROM – Ken Jarvis – LVKen7@Gmail.com

      The FINAL words of a DYING Society -

      "Global warming is a lot of crap".

      ===

      This just in -

      CHINA WILL SHIFT AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUEL.

      ===

      Send me an Email so I can put YOU on my Good Guy List -

      LVKen7@Gmail.com

      There is STRENGTH IN NUMBERS – LOOK AT Egypt.

      When will HF Anti-Climate Change experts

      be going to Japan to inspect the Damaged Nuke Plants?

      B. Eric, Syosset N.Y. on March 11th, 2011 at 11:09am said:

      Can,t believe I agree with Ken Jarvis.

      ===

      *** B. Eric -

      Thanks a LOT.

      KJ

      ===

      Nancy, Georgia on March 11th, 2011 at 11:09am said:

      Ken, I wonder if you can imagine what might happen if we put Congress on minimum wage. Let’s see, they are the ones who set minimum wage and they are the ones who determine their own salaries. Add to that the fact that union salaries are also tied to minimum wage and I think you can figure it out. Burger flippers would be making $200,000 a year.

      *** Nancy – Thanks

      Of course, wages would go up.

      The RICH do not need a Min wage.

      So, maybe we should have a MAX Wage.

      How does THAT SOUND?

      ====

      KJ

    2. George Colgrove VA says:

      Rather than jump on the band wagon and start pushing for reduced dependency on Nuclear power, I feel we need to take all that “energy” of the debate and put it towards studying (using private sector funding and experts) first and foremost what went right in Japan and immediately start implementing those strategies NOW!

      Then we need to study what went wrong: government impedance, human response, structural, logistics, regulations, automatic response, etc. Then get private sector volunteers from the industry across the globe to form task forces to study the core parts that went wrong and what needs to be done to fix those issues. We need to know when to involve governments when it comes to informing the public –ONLY, and keeping them out when it comes to finding and implementing solutions. Remember, in this country it is advantageous for the liberal unionized federal workers to make nuclear to look as bad as it can to shut down the industry, in the same way they did for American oil drilling. They would prefer a meltdown and casualties if it could shut down the industry. Many on the left has said so. You put the feds in charge of finding solutions, we will not have nuclear energy in this country and without oil or coal, we will be literally in the “dark” ages. We should not trust the federal workforce with this serious and far reaching issue.

      What we are seeing in Japan is the worst case scenario (NO WAY NEAR common day dangers) and we need to learn, not negatively react. Nuclear energy is by and large the cleanest and safest means of creating and providing energy. We need to make nuclear power better, more cost effective and even more safe.

      With the massive tragedy that is occurring in Japan, we need to keep our hearts and prayers with the people, but we also have to keep our eyes out for the feds who will take advantage of this crisis and attempt to shut down a vital component of our energy strategy.

    3. H. Springer says:

      The paper-thin "morality" of tabloid sensationalists is revealed by the nuclear-fear bubble being nursed in the media, reducing real loss and devastation in Japan to a rehash of China Syndrome fantasies, as if the only issue of importance coming out of the death of thousands, the povertization of millions , and the destruction of ¼ of a country, is whether Jack Lemmon & Jane Fonda were right in 1979.

      This is callousness of the first order. Let no crisis go unused. Forget real suffering. Exhume pre-staged nuclear fears, thus clearing our view, media-wise, of empathy for Japanese victims, or the true scale of the disaster, to bury us in pet scenarios, & old arguments.

      Here's a headline we did not read: "Fukushima Nuclear Plant Washed Away by Tsunami". With thousands of petrol tanks, chemical tanks, fertilizer plants, fishing boats, railroads, factories, large public buildings, and private homes absolutely obliterated, media ignores 99.9% of the story, and focuses instead on a familiar chestnut… nuclear power.

      Those plants were not harmed at all by the earthquake…. seawater from the tsunami disabled their backup diesels. Still standing, with containments intact, and onsite staff controlling the processes, these plants will be cooled by seawater, and retired. Meantime, shall we forget tens of thousands rendered homeless, or drowned in their beds? Such stories don't have "Legs"…. but a "Nuke" story does. Typical generation-X media sickness.

      See:
      http://click2.info/TUCKER

    4. Linda - USA says:

      I am about as conservative as it is possible to be and generally mostly agree with the Heritage Foundation on various issues. I think we should be drilling for oil and gas right here in the U. S. of A. I have no problem with coal. However, on the issue of nuclear power, I break with the fold. This article makes this statement in regard to mishaps with nuclear plants: "You could also get hit by a car on your way to work today. But that is not what is likely to occur." Here is the difference: If I get hit by a car, it will affect only myself and whoever else is involved in that wreck. It will not release radioactive material that is hazardous to persons for miles around, possibly on another continent even.

    5. Greg Vincent, Spring says:

      Most of the risk to nuclear construction is regulatory. Engineering skill is of no use against the machinations of political opportunists. And we have enough moratoriums already. Should we now have a moratorium on driving due to the continuing carnage on the highways?

    6. Frank, Florida says:

      I keep wondering if our Founding Fathers were alive today, what would they want our Federal Government to regulate? Would they have agreed to the need for the NRC? "The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was created as an independent agency by Congress in 1974 to enable the nation to safely use radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while ensuring that people and the environment are protected. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements." If this is another Constitutional over-reach by the Federal Government, could the States do a better job of it themselves… or would the threat of a nuclear disaster that could spread radioactive contamination across State lines necessitate Federal regulation?

    7. frank trenga says:

      seems as though the left uses any excuse to place more controls on our society, giffords=gun control, horizon=suspend drilling, japan=suspend nuclear plant construction. these congressmen need to focus on the real problems we have in this country. run a way spending and jobs. these type congressmen that will not focus on the important issues need to be replaced.

    8. Phillip Pulliam, Lex says:

      Using phrases like "communist operator error" do not help your case. You certainly don't have direct knowledge of the politics of the Chernobyl plant operators. Do not be like CNN or MSNBC, who use this kind of foolishness to advance their agenda. It is unnecessary.

    9. Monica, Slatington P says:

      In the immortal words of Rahm Emmanuel, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."

    10. Pete, Carson City, N says:

      We all know that with obumble's unerring ability to compound a problem he will definitely slap a moritorium on more nuclear power plants.

    11. Charles Nystrom, Sum says:

      With all respect to Heritage, it is folly to expect the current administration to agree that, regards use of nuclear power plants in the U.S.

      "The government’s role should simply be to set and enforce fair, efficient, and effective safety and environmental standards and allow private industry to meet them."

      My first thought on learnng of the power plant's problems in Japan was "there goes our nucluear future". On cue, the nay sayers have responded.

      Our reality is we are being held hostage to the Executive and Congressinal branches of our government being run, not by leaders, but by politicians.

    12. Steve; Columbus, Ohi says:

      While i am in favor of nuclear power as the only real alternative energy, I am troubled by the points in this article. The conclusion is supposed to be that the reality of the situation in Japan is not what the hype suggests. However, some of the points offered in this article are irrelevant to this point. For example:

      "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. It already regulates enough." — Really? I will admit that i am not familiar with how much the NRC regulates, but this claims is not obviously true and so needs support. Without support, it is merely a dogmatic assertion that avoids facts in the same way the hype does.

      "The plant in trouble in Japan is over 40 years old. Today’s designs are far more advanced." — Again, I am unfamiliar with the nuance of the construction of nuclear facilities, but i would like to know what it is about the "older" design that is different from the "newer" design that makes the newer design more advanced, and so should motivate less concern on my part for nuclear facilities in the US.

      "No one has ever been injured, much less killed, as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S." — Fine, but that does not (by itself) mean that our facilities are safe.

      I subscribe to these emails in the hope that i will garner information to provide an intelligent and relevant reply to much of the left's hysteria and political manoeuvrings. This article could be much better, it seems to me, if it avoided the mention of irrelevant facts as support for a favored conclusion.

    13. NeoConVet says:

      I agree that the Japanese Nuclear Plant problems as a result of recent natural disasters SHOULD have no impact on our expanding power sources here in the U.S. That said…. we all know it will !!! The left will do what it does best…squeal and offer no viable solutions to the power shortfall we face. It will be very much like the left expecting us to buy a GM-Volt as a solution or waiting for windpower in my gas tank.

    14. Kurwastan says:

      Rep. Markey is been known to say some pretty hyberbolic things. What's going on at Fukushima is certainly not Chernobyl, but partial exposure of rods, threat of a meltdown and a Level 4 on the Nuclear Event Scale is serious stuff. Concern about nuclear power is therefore based on reality, not some anti-nuclear leftist conspiracy.

      Critics have long said that building nuclear plants in earthquake zones, while nuclear proponents have been equally confident that it is safe. So what is Mr. Spencer advocating? All is safe with nuclear power and any regulation against, say, building a nuclear plant on the San Andreas fault is too much regulation?

      In order to win the public's confidence, the U.S. nuclear industry must do a lot more than continue to say "nuclear power is safe because no one has died yet".

    15. jim smith yonkers ne says:

      Rep. Markey does what most out of power Congress members do when something happens they don't like. They all demonize events and meddle where they don't belong. They score a few meaningless points with the green whackos and nuclear power is pushed a few steps backward, while the media does its tired two step suck up.

    16. Home--E. Texas says:

      So glad to read Morning Bell each day–helps me keep my sanity in an insane world.

    17. Mary............WI says:

      Most of us figured the liberals would use the horrible disaster in Japan to attack nuclear energy as unsafe….no surprise. Japanese scientists and engineers are doing everything they can to avert meltdowns while scores of volunteer workers from around the world rush to help with rescue. Averting meltdowns, rescue and aid is priority at this time. I'm sorry but, sometimes "slapping sense" into someone is the only way to bring them back to reality.

      And wouldn't it be wonderful if the millions of dollars the unions keep pooring into WI (to recall Gov Walker and the brave legislators) to mantain their stronghold on the taxpayer for power was donated to Relief for Japan.

    18. Robert, North Richla says:

      Great article. I knew the libs would be all over this – they receive a lot of money from the hedge-fund scum that have hijacked our energy industry. Not to mention that nuclear power is cleaner, cheaper and provides a powerful base to support the grid. Plus, the benefit of high-paying construction jobs as well as the operational jobs. Once again, Congress has the power to check this liberal administration, but it will take lions – not the "kittens" we have in John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

    19. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Think of the world's first disaster at a nuclear power plant. Three Mile Island was a catastrophe. The IAEA has a scale of 1-7. On that scale, 4 is Three Mile Island. What's 7, you ask? 7's Chernobyl. Chernobyl's 25th anniversary is coming up later next month. If all three reactors blow at the Fukushima facility near Sendai, Japan, that will be a 7. That's IF there's a containment breach. The differences between Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima couldn't be more striking. Three Mile

      Island and Fukushima have containment. Chernobyl didn't.

    20. marilyn wilkins, Ohi says:

      Thank you, we all need to hear this and read the attached analysis/report of the differences in the Chernobyl/TMI/Japanese events. We are heavy-hearted for the Japanese and this will certainly lift a portion of it.

      This again demonstrates that we cannot depend on the current media or government for truth-in-reporting. Everything has to be sensational and the makings of a cause. I am sick of it and will no longer participate! We all need to cancel any subscriptions and cease any on-line readings of all the media outlets who cannot give the truth and send them that message. And we had better do it before the biased election reportings commence.

      Thank you again for the TRUTH–good and bad.

    21. john Livingston Bois says:

      Why are we not receiving any information about the exact levels of radiation at various distances from the plants? Have local limits been exceeded?

      The news has been very scetchy on the subject.

    22. Steven D. Hoffman, C says:

      Please keep sharing the facts. Data, facts, trends, results, nothing more nothing less. Thank you!

    23. Jim T San Diego says:

      I knew the anti-nuke crazies would "REACT" as they always do! If they were to look at the enormity of the eartquake & sunami, THEYWON'T, and realize how much damage was done and the reactors DID NOT melt down. Yes it is serious, but this juvenile "throw out the baby with the bathwater" is typical of progressives!

      If they had their way there would be NO nuclear plants, NO oil drilling or pumping,. We would all be on windmills & solar, provided we could get by the environmental crackpots who would stop those as well! In their mind, we the people are the problem. Get rid of us and all will be well with mother gaia!

    24. Judith Humphrey, Nap says:

      best comment I ever saw on three mile island:

      bumper sticker in the form of a scoreboard that said

      three mile island 0

      chappaquiddick 1

    25. soopermexican, North says:

      The MSM never lets facts get in the way of good journalistic demogoguery…

    26. Noland, Texas says:

      First, allow me to say that I support the Heritage Foundation and their standards and that I agree with the message of this article. I did, however, have a problem with the author putting a statement under what he describes as "cold hard facts" that "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. It already regulates enough." According to what? If you could please cite your sources when making such assertions, it would allow your readers, such as myself, to access the primary information and let it speak for itself. Otherwise, the "facts" appear more like "opinions."

    27. Doubleace62 says:

      I think we should impose a moratorium in Nuclear reactors and when the oil runs out only those on the left who supported such an idiotic idea should be refused heat for their homes. Do these leftists sit up all night and think these things up or what? What a bunch of morons.

    28. Doubleace62 says:

      It's time we divide the country and put the lefts on one side and the conservatives on the other. Then let them implement their stupid poliicies and wait 2-5 years and see which side is better off economicallty, and enviromentally. Thenwhen the leftists want to come to the other side we make them each sign a pledge that says they will shut the hell up and stop saying stupid things or they have to leave.

    29. Ed B. SC says:

      U R right. In fact, given the uncertainty offered by the uninformed like Markey, it is more likely that more plants fired by Natural Gas will built – for reasons of both short and long term cost and uncertainty of political meddling. While we have a lot if Natural Gas (that Obama is holding) these plants use a huge amount of it to satiate our demand for power, driving up home heating costs unnecessarily.

    30. joe me says:

      yes green agenda whatever method or cost just windmills,solar and electric vehicles allinefficient

    31. Judith in Michigan says:

      I imagine, from the first moments the earth shook last week in Japan, the American anti-energy developers were swooning over this gift of a crisis that would be too great to waste.

      Criminalize oil drilling, bankrupt the coal companies, and now, let's terrorize the country with the horrors of nuclear power.

      The huffing and puffing, the bluster of these fanatics may soon send America back to the days of horse and buggy, but PETA would probably find fault with that, too. Don't think the environmentalists would be happy either. Bicycles? Good luck with that one for any meaningful travel, business, and family chores. Wind power? Yah. I wonder though, does Air Force One have a giant windmill on it's top yet?

      The rest of the global community is moving forward in society and growth, but, for some mysterious reason, The United States is being forced to retreat.

      The most important question that must be asked by every American citizen is:

      "Who is directing this and Why?"

    32. Tommy says:

      Edward Markey's mantra: "Never waste a good crisis!"

    33. C Irmen, Ohio says:

      Exactly what is a "communist operator error" and how does it differ from a regular operator error? Come on, Mr. Spencer – it's gaffes like this that give us conservatives a bad name.

    34. Mehul Kamdar, Des Pl says:

      What the anti nuclear community conveniently hides is the fact that Japan chose to use civilian power to address its energy needs after its experience as the only country in the world that saw nuclear weapons used against it. This is not a decision that the Japanese took lightly, and it speaks volumes about their confidence in nuclear technology. I daresay that the Japanese will continue to use nuclear power well after rebuilding after the current disaster. Would that that shows the anti nuclear campaigners the weakness in their argument, but then, a rational argument is never going to make any headway against an irrational group of people.

    35. Don, Nipomo, CA says:

      The reactors in Japan are very old. They are GE BWR (Boiling Water Reactors). Most American reactors are PWR's (Pressurized Water Reactors). PG&E retired their Humboldt BWR over 30 years ago. It is a very old design. BWR's don't have the containment domes that we see in America. The dome structure is used because the containment is a steel reinforced concrete structure with a liner that is capable of containing the entire volume of all reactor coolant and steam in case of an accident. In addition there are more safety systems including systems that work automatically with no power or control required.

    36. George (an American says:

      you are right – the US needs nukes more than ever, and the disaster in Japan should not make us fearful to build them here – I have every confidence that the current problems with the Japanese plant will be resolved with no harmful radiation being released

    37. Laura says:

      Your title contained next-to nothing for my confidence of feeling safe. Please rewrite and leave politics out of it or don't write anything at all about the so far 3 nuclear meltdowns in Japan. I'll keep looking for a knowledgeable writer on the subject…but prayers go to the population of Japan at this time and their future years of difficult adjustment to their human loss and devastaded conditions.

    38. KC - New Mexico says:

      The overall tragedy in Japan should concern us for many reasons. It is great that this country and others are helping Japan. I wonder when the next big one will hit on this side of the “ring of fire”?

      The nuclear issue should also be a concern but we also must consider the magnitude of the cause instead of just protesting the use of nuclear power. Keep in mind that the use of oil must be decreased, we have too many controls on this already thanks to the politicians in Washington. Maybe we could use smoke signals after we revert to the Stone Age – woops that would be bad for EPA. Maybe communication will have to use mirrors! So before complaining about nuclear power and reducing the need for oil, consider the alternative to your living style!

    39. Harry, Georgia says:

      it's way too early to see how this whole scenario is going to play out. give it a rest for a few months. conclusions drawn in haste often turn out to appear foolish when the dust clears.

    40. Melanie, Virginia says:

      The Chernobyl disaster was caused by an inherent design problem and communist operator error that is not present at any of the nuclear plants in Japan.

      Not sure what the word 'communist' is doing here. How was it specifically a communist error? I'm not a fan of communism, but the description is out of place here.

    41. Sharon Knopping,2120 says:

      I am continually nonplussed that Massachusetts votes for Ed Markey again and again. Ditto regarding Mr. Capuano~but then ,of course,we have renamed the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts "the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts" in honor of both of these men and their friends of a similar thought process like Barney Frank.

      I have moved to Southern Delaware where there are more thoughtful, common sense, compassionate citizens.

    42. Doug Graham Utah says:

      Idiocy mixed with ideology always equals disaster (either intentionally or unintentionally)

      To be fair that could happen on the right or the left. I believe after watching Obama and the Left for over 40 years that these guys want us to fail. They believe that all good flows from the clutches of Socialist control. Which, with simple inspection of the history of Marxism and it's impact on humans demonstrates nothing good.

      Someone once said, "When people fear it's government if is called Tyranny. When a government fears it's people it is called Liberty."

      Which do we have today?

      Doug

    43. Mike, Nevada says:

      The authors of this piece would be well advised to take their own advice and resist making definitive comments or predictions regarding the severity of the nuclear situation in Japan. Already this morning there is news from the Japanese that nuclear rods are suspected of being in the process of melting in three reactors.

      Apparently the temptation is just too great for the pro/con bickering to begin rather than determining what we can and must do to help Japan recover from this terrible tragedy. Get a handle on the facts and don't get hung up in premature rhetoric even if the "opposition" does.

    44. Roger TN says:

      When Markey and his other supporters can use Solar and Wind to supply their needs while traveling around the country, they should be listened to. In the meantime the predominant source of energy that is needed to maintain our way of life is going to be Natural Gas and Nuclear. All the other green sources are a pipedream until technology is developed beyond what it is today. The guy is a radical and a charlatan.

    45. Mrs Aaudrey Enzor says:

      I firmly disagree with your assessment of the Nuclear fall-out which may occur from Japan, I saw what happened during WWII and I question whether or not that is the reason for so many cancer diagnoses since. We have donated millions through the years in finding a cure for Cancer and haven't done it.

      The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico pales in comparison to what is now happening to the Japanese people yet the Obama Administration is still pushing nuclear power and windmills rather than allowing drilling in America which could employ thousands of American citizens and be much safer.

      Please tell me why if you can!

      Thanks.

      Teri

    46. Los Angeles says:

      it costs more money to have a clean home then a dirty home, being lazy creates a dirty home, being responsible creates a clean home. I am to assume that folks who complain about global warming don't care if they live in a dirty home. I am to assume that the same folks don't care about littering in the streets, recycle is way beyond their belief as well.

      Surely they must have a line that's drawn in the sand, Im curious to know what it is? I also guarantee that everybody has a different line, so we all just need to find one that everyone can accept. so let work threw problems like adults and not act like kids in a playground with comments like "global warming is a load of crap" what is that going to accomplish?

    47. J. Guidry, Battlefie says:

      Markey=mularkey. That's an old word for BS. The left is full of it.

    48. Chuck Pelto says:

      TO: Jack Spencer

      RE: Nice 'Pablam' That

      I particularly enjoyed the dose about….

      The plant in trouble in Japan is over 40 years old. Today’s designs are far more advanced. — Jack Spencer

      That would be pre-Chernobyl.

      And the additional business about how….

      No one has ever been injured, much less killed, as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S.

      We're not talking about the US. We're talking about Japan and what would the result be IF…if not WHEN….the steel containment vessels holding the potentially completely meltdown remains of three nuclear reactor cores fail and those radioactive messes get INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN and most especially the HUMBOLT CURRENT which goes north along the eastern Japanese coast, up to Alaska, across to Canada, down the Canadian coast to US.

      I've been asking some questions for the last couple of days and NO ONE HAS ANSWERED THEM. Here they are:

      [1] What is the temperature of a nuclear reactor core in complete meltdown?

      [2] What is the maximum temperature that a ‘steel containment vessel’ can withstand before it ‘fails’?

      [3] What is the expected degradation of a ‘steel containment vessel’ when it is exposed to (1) the temperature of a nuclear reactor core in complete meltdown and (2) sea water being used as emergency coolant?

      Maybe YOU can answer them for US.

      Regards,

      Chuck(le)

      [What they are telling you can be important. What they are NOT telling you can be VITAL. -- CBPelto]

    49. F.D. O'Toole, N says:

      Given their history, I'm sure the Japanese were very sure that their nuclear plants would not fail from earthquakes or tsunamis. They were wrong…and in the weeks to come we will find out why their redundant safety systems failed. The world will profit from this analysis and continue to build nuclear generators that will be even safer than those in operation today. Scrapping nuclear power is not an option and simply won't happen…except maybe, here in the USA where we are blessed with abundant oil, natural gas, and coal…should the Government allow us to extract these fuels.

      In the meantime, it is horrifying that the MSM is making the nuclear issue the big story when the Japanese have a truly biblical tragedy in progress.

    50. S Rubicon, Southcent says:

      I live within 30 miles of TMI. I was responsible for our employees & business operations transfers during that crisis. Turned out, what we were told by the media & anti-nuke forces, was bunk. Everyone over-reacted. Was it a threat? Yes. But not the massive threat we were told.

      Now about energy. Just exactly what are we to use for energy if we also drop nuclear? I mean, the fossil fuels coal, oil, natural gas, are supposedly unacceptable, and now some want to add nuclear.

      Wind and solar can never supply the energy needs of America, unless some want us to live as third world slobs in a gwat nation! Wind works only where there are reasonable sustained winds. The wind energy industry already detailed where it would be feasible. Solar loses its effectiveness the more north you go. Each "might" be able to provide up to 18% of our needs. "MIGHT" Not will!

      Making a nuclear plant reasonably safe is possible. Every human endeavor has risks. Some more than others. I am not willing to become a third class human just because some are afraid!

    51. laurie from hawaii says:

      As long as the feds are in charge of the country, we will end up with no money, energy and no country. Thanks, Commander-in-thief!!

    52. Dana, Apopka, FL says:

      I saw James Carafano on Fox News trying to be a sane, calm voice of reason about the nuclear power plants in Japan. He did his best in the face of determined hysteria. Maybe the best thing for us to do is have no energy infrastructure to maintain, and then, if we have no infrastructure, then nothing can go wrong with that infrastructure when a natural catastrophe occurs. After all, Haiti is a great example of a country that has no coherant energy production, and we see that it has completely recovered from last year's catastrophic earthquake. . .wait, that's not right. Maybe Obama should declare an earthquake/tsunami moratorium–it would make about as much sense and the rest of his energy policy.

    53. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      My ears go up everytime I hear the name "Markey!" This guy is all over the Overcriminalized site, available through Heritage Foundation. Guys! I am getting more than my $50 from HF in entertainment! Ed Markey is a monstrous DINO! Everything he does is Unconstitutional if only someone would bring the Case! Sure enough! These monsters jump on the carrion of what American Nuclear Power Industry used to be! You bet they killed it! Now they will prevent its ressurrection whether or not these Power Plants are safe.

    54. Jim Patterson, Dulut says:

      one comment had the US being divided between left and right. the left gets to use windmill and solar power, electric cars, etc. and the "right" gets to use nuclear energy, gas and fossil fuels. at some time the left will come to right asking for "help" and saying that if the right doesn't give it to them, them we are "killing" the elderly, etc. but it is always the left you have an agenda and it is not for the protection of the people. Just ask the students in WI whose teachers walked off the job to protest. so much for the students and teaching.

    55. Donald R. May, &quot says:

      We must learn from the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown and use the information gained to make nuclear energy production even safer in the future. We must not allow alarmists and politicians on the Progressive Left to use the Fukushima meltdown as an excuse to limit future nuclear energy production.

      The news media and some politicians will try to use the Fukushima nuclear power plant reactor core meltdown as an excuse to limit future nuclear power plant construction in the United States. The Fukushima reactor core meltdown will also lead to efforts intended to more tightly control and even shut down nuclear power plants in the United States.

      It is important to insure that our nuclear power plants are operating as safely as possible. The US nuclear safety record has been exceptional over the past 40 years. The only deaths reported during this time in nuclear power plants have been 3 accidental electrocutions, with no deaths or apparent injuries due to nuclear-related causes.

      We must not allow Progressive Left political agendas to further harm our electrical generation capabilities or to compromise our future economic growth and national security.

      Donald R. May

      “Mr. Conservative”
      http://lubbockonline.com/conservative

    56. Suzanne, Maryland says:

      As others have noted, I'm not sure how the political system in the former Soviet Union is related to the mistake made by an operator at Chernobyl. I'd like a little more information on what makes a mistake "communist." Does this mean he turned the knob to the left, when he should have turned it to the right?

      I have a bigger problem with the post's claim that nucear power would be more competitive in this country if only it weren't so highly regulated. First, I think something that can be as deadly as nucear power should be regulated. As we've seen with the Massey coal mine, absent regulation, corporations can tend to cut corners to save money, but then get people killed. The order of magnitude for potential deaths is so great for a nuclear accident, that it should not be left up to a market that discounts lives and puts a premium on profits. Beyond that, however, this article shows a total ignorance of the nuclear power industry in this country. Nuclear power is not economically competitive, and would only be so if reactors were built with very little safety in mind. The government may regulate the reactors, but it subsidizes the industry quite heavily. Specifically, it subsidizes the insurance that the industry must carry in case of nuclear accident. Without government subsidy, the market would find nuclear power too risky to insure…If you are looking for a market-based solution, nuclear power won't be it.

      Finally, the author's immaturity just oozes through with the idea that this is just a little nothing-burger of an accident. It may not be Chernobyl (although a catastrophic explosion that breaches containment is still possible, particularly since the cooling ponds are now in danger, too), but three reactors in partial meltdown with no answers for how to sustain cooling is a BIG DEAL. It would be helpful if Heritage had some quality control in its writing. While some may overstate the risks, dismissing them totally just completely undermines the case you might be trying to make.

    57. Suzanne, Idaho says:

      I agree with Steve from Columbus, OH. Very well put! I too appreciate this source as a place to go to learn about "the other side of the story." However, I am finding that more and more these articles are really about pushing the right wing agenda rather than informing with facts. What's that saying about the pot calling the kettle black? Please back up statements with facts and examples. Thank you!

    58. Dale Athanas says:

      Could this be a blessing in disguise? From what I have read, the cost per kilowatt hour exceeds the price being charged per kilowatt hour for electricity generated by nuclear – not to mention the fact that there is still no satisfactory way to dispose of nuclear waste. We would be far better off to get serious about drilling for our own oil and using our coal reserves.

    59. Joe, Atlanta, Ga says:

      From what I have been reading, the big problem is the cooling systems and generators. They have gone to great lengths with the hardened steel and concrete around the reactors, but haven't protected the weak links in the chain. I would have thought the designers would have cooling systems that could withstand a 9.5 quake, and locate the generators where the expected tsunami wouldn't put them out of commission.

    60. Bippy New Jersey says:

      I guess we'll be seeing Jane Fonda next. The Nuclear DRAMA, encouraged and abetted by the fools in the Obama Regime, will use this natural disaster to take away more rights. The Japanese people will survive this catastrophe and will once again show the world of their resilience. They will need the help of all good minded men and women. Saddling the rest of the world with needless regulations and road blocks would be like putting Al Gore in charge of clean up. An absolute joke! By the way, has anyone seen or heard from Biden since he was exiled overseas.?

    61. Pingback: The inevitable call by the left to shut down nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s quake « The Greenroom

    62. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      I don't really care about our nuclear plants, right now I would like to know how Japan's problems will effect Kuai's western side, I have a son there and we heard very little about the tsunami and nobody is saying how far this can drift and to what extent. BHO as usual made comments and so did Biden showing they really do not know very much, all he seems to worry about is Lybia but yet says nothing concrete. I agree, send all the Liberals to California and west coast, Coservatives on the east coast, they can make Hollywood their capital, let states vote which way theywill go, if you live in a Liberal state you can see if you can switch with a liberal in a conservative state.

    63. Chris says:

      Ox carts, mud huts, and cow dung fires for all! Let's hug the slugs and become one with our planet once again!

      Or, as noted, we can acknowledge that nuclear plant technology/design has improved dramatically since Three Mile Island (let's see, how many lives adversely impacted was it again?). Unfortunately nuclear power still can't compete with the endless carbon-neutral and fragrant energy to be realized some day from pixie-dust-fed unicorn flatus.

      So, just as with deep water drilling (done primarily because dry land and shallow water drilling are effectively nixed by the enviro lobby), advances that make the nuclear power inherently safer (compare against loss of life of coal mining over the last 40 or more years) will continue to hamstring a realistic "now" effort toward any hope of energy independence.

    64. mike hutchings says:

      i can't imagine a scenario that the left wouldn't take advantage of if it served the interest of their socialist…did i do good daddy…masters in the media and class rooms…speak to me puppets when you have something to offer that doesn't make others less so you can be more….by the way how does that thing about dipping water from one side of the bucket raise anyone's boat…hmmmmm

    65. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      There are experts in nuclear energy, as in the Heritage article, stating factual information. There are a few reporters providing realistic information about the nuclear situation in Japan. What do we have? A community organizer, surrounded by a group left-over 1960 left-wing academics. Keep Barry in the White House talking about bullying.

    66. ckirkland says:

      Jeanne, I love your idea of West coast lefties and East Coast Conservatives, plus I love the idea that someone said they would have to sign a pledge to shut up if they finally saw the light and changed to Conservative. This is ideal for the whacko enviromentalist who want to make us live with wind mills and solar. Why don't they start their own country since they seem to hate America so much??? Just asking ck

    67. Mike C. WA State says:

      US hysteria concerning Japan's troubled nuclear plants is just that, hysteria. Independent government officials and legislators need not incite folks with rhetoric that would lead us to believe that nuclear power plants in the US are any less safe today than they were last week. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were the result of poorly constructed fail-safe engineering and human error. Japan was hit my two natural catastrophes within minutes of each other. Keeping in mind the the plants in Japan are nearly forty years old and the technological advances currently available there is no room for hysteria and questionable motives of US leadership in curtailing future construction of nuclear power plants. The congressmen from the State of Massachusetts is in no way lending himself to sound reasoning nor is he perusing cool-clearheadedness as he spouts rhetoric that insights but adds little to aid problem solvency..

    68. Phil Cooper says:

      I just read Rep. Ed Markey's biographic sketch — BA (1968), JD (1972); no BS or MS, no engineering training or background, no experience working in the power generation industry, much less nuclear power and no background in seismology or geology. He hardly sounds qualified to be calling for a moratorium on construction of nuclear plants. The proper thing for Mr. Markey to is to defer to the experts.

    69. BioBob says:

      The FACT is that there is NO SAFE RADIATION EXPOSURE LEVEL – period. It;s like lead poisoning, the more you get, the more hosed you are. Simplification in this case = inaccuracy.

      All you can say is that at some point of exposure you reach the probable Lethal Dose for some percentage of the population. Radiation doses less than lethal still have effects like mutagenesis which can ultimately result in cancers, etc, and it is all a question of probability, not on or off.

      I am for nuclear power if it makes economic sense but there is some considerable dispute about that, given the questionable energy return on investment of many types of nuclear plants in our regulatory environment.

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    71. Hermes C Liberty New says:

      Japanese are a great people of honor and hard work. They survived the atomic bomb; they will easily, with our help, eradicate the engative effects of this very special tsunami. As if Rats attracted by cheese tried to destroy the box they cannot open. China was colonized once by Japan.

      As of the politization, thanks to our vigilance. Let them not do so. In this respect it is refreshing to see the realism describe the real facts and combat the alarmists. The tsunami will be overcome and it is a good signal for Japan to renew its nukes.

    72. Michael Guy, Canonsb says:

      Do the environmentalist , especially those non-elected and unConstitutional bureaucrats and the EPA, work for communist China, the Socialist International or the EU? it goes beyong mere liberal ludditism. the EPA and the environmentalist seem intent on fettering or destroing our productive factories and the means of energy production ( Cap and trade is a prime example) The beneficiaries of the environmentalist shutting down means of production, including energy production only benefit three groups. 1) Communist China and the sSocialist International 2) The despotic Bureaucracies of Washington and soon the UN and 3) The plutocratic financiers of wall Street who will receive Mercantilistic, chartered nonopolies and control of energy ration cards

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    76. Bobbie says:

      Chernobyl was a man-made disaster. Japan was a disaster caused by nature, beyond the control of man. Both learning lessons for further research and continuance of nature's nuclear power.

      When something goes wrong the first things dems do is run and hide and disregard the intelligence and integrity of those that have much more.

      FORGET ABOUT IMPROVING IT! WE'RE DEMOCRATS!

    77. Pingback: Fermi II shares design with Japanese plant that exploded :

    78. Dexter60, San Franci says:

      Thanks Jack –

      If one is led by what worries them, they will live in constant worry; hate and fear are ugly masters. Radation? well, it is all around us in a broad spectrum, some of it within us.

      So the uninformed give us their 'facts' about what to be afraid of, whle they are then able to live a comfortable life above the madding crowd they help create — we should be able to let them wwork for a living instead.

      You are doing your part 'before the oil (we can;t touch) runs out,' to get the Masters of the Universe to walk to work and actually do rather thn undo something.

      Thanks again.

    79. William Rehkow, Scot says:

      It is disheartening to witness the hysteria the press has drummed up regarding the problems at the Japanese Nuclear plants due to the recent earthquake/tsunamai. It reminds one of the same hysteria surrounding the incident at our Three Mile Island plant in PA that effectively shut down our nuclear industry for over 30 years.

      What really happened at Three Mile Island? There was an operator error that caused a problem and the safety systems shut down the reactor. No one hurt, no appreciable radiation leak, a big $$ loss as the unit affected is still shuttered, but you could argue NOTHING happened..all systems worked. I suspect the same will be the case in Japan but let's derail the idea of nuclear power IN THE US for another 30yrs while the rest of the world relies more heavily on it. Are we stupid or what? God help America.

    80. John, Albany, NY says:

      It's time to get the nuclear industry away from water reactors and go to liquid fluorine thallium (LFTR) reactors- a proven design that's safer, cheaper to build, more scalable, easier to site, less of a radioactive waste issue, and less of a threat of terrorists gaining fissionable material. It's a no-brainer. We just need an educated and courageous leadership to do what's best for the country without morphing it into a political football for their own aggrandizement. Don't hold your breath.

    81. Freddel, Walnut Cree says:

      What if an 8.9 earthquake hit Hoover (or some other) dam, ruptured natural gas lines feeding power facilities, destroyed exhaust filtration at coal-burning facilities, name your own disaster. I saw an Internet headline juxtaposing "Japan nuclear plants in peril, 10,000 feared dead." What a bunch hogwash. People are ignorant and irrational.

    82. B Dubya says:

      I despair every time I here one of the news readers open their yap on the subject of what is going on with the Japanese nuclear plants.

      How we could have gone through more than 50 years of commercial nuclear power operation and retained the incredible levels of ignorance on the subject of nuclear power and its attendant risks and benefits is a mystery to me.

      Even their rented talking heads are effing clueless as to what has happened and as to what the probable outcomes of heavily fuel damged GE BWR 1 reactor plants. If you notice, the news presentations are one small nugget of fact, followed by 20 minutes of made up crap and speculation, none of it remotely accurate.

      Basically, the tragedy in Japan is really about the fact that 10000 people from one small community are missing since the tsunami wrecked the place. And that is only one of the coastal towns uinundated. One.

      If anyone outside of the affected nuke plants staff is killed as a result of the station blackout/loca accidents they have undergone, I will be surprised. On the other hand, 2000 bodies have aleady washed up on the beach; perhaps you'll remember the initial reports of only six hundred dead or missing…

    83. Aconley, Denver says:

      The US detonated over 60 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands before we dropped one on Hiroshima. The Islanders were neither told of the effects of radiation nor removed prior to the testing. Predictably, cancer is now wide spread among the Marshallese people and they have one of the world's highest rates of severely deformed children, including "jellyfish babies" who have no heads, arms, legs, or human shape.

      And at Chernobyl, the error was not ideological. That is, that disaster did not happen because of a communist regime. Instead, the two explosions there occurred as a direct result of safety violations and faulty linear thinking. Decisions were made one after the other without deliberation of the long term consequences of each decision. This being said, Chernobyl mirrors so many of the recent oil rig and mine disasters dotting the US as well as the rest of the world. Our ideology does not save us from disaster any more than does our hope that our towns don't blow away in a tornado or fall in an earthquake.

      • B Dubya says:

        Sorry to dampen your garden of mushroom clouds, friend, but the US detonated 1 (one) test apparatus in WWII in Nevada before we expended the total nuclear weapon arsenal of 2 (two) bombs on Japan. Little Boy was U235 based abd Fat Man (carried by Bock's Car to Nagasaki) wasa plutonium weapon.

        In the 50's the US detonated a big one at the Bikini Atoll, but most testing was underground in the continantal US. Some testing was done in the Pacific and a repository of some of the collected waste is still on one of the islands in the Marshall group.

    84. John, NYC says:

      It appears that at least one of these reactors cannot be cooled. And Japan is the leader in nuclear energy safety, so if they can't do it, no one could.

      Hopefully you'll respect my first amendment rights and post this comment, since it complies with your stated standards.

    85. D, EARTH. says:

      Looks like You Have An "OPINION".

    86. Don Vander Jagt, Gra says:

      We have been going about this all wrong.

      We should have factory built smaller reactors something like those in navy ships. Relatively mobil to reduce damage in earth shifting aeras.

      Placed in local grids, so as to eliminate high powered transmission lines.

      Each reactor should have on sight a fossel fueled generators capable of cooling the reactor in case of emergencies.

      Positioned so as to hide the position from enemies.

      With enough generating power to light, heat, and cool our dwellings.

    87. A physicist says:

      Confirmation: The concrete vessel around the No. 2 reactor at Japan’s Fukushima plant, designed to contain radioactive debris, is ‘no longer sealed’, Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), said on Tuesday.

      Lacoste was speaking at a press conference in which he also said the accident at Fukushima now rated six on a seven-point international scale of gravity, placing it second to Chernobyl as the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

      —–

      The gross malfeasance, dereliction of duty, and stonewalling on the part of TEPCO’s corporate executives has taught the world (yet again) a vital lesson about the importance of acknowledging mistakes.

      It is dismayingly stupid of the Heritage Foundation's lead post to focus upon "communist operator errors" at Chernobyl … as many posters have noted.

      The question that needs to be asked is more sober: the disastrous failures of TEPCO's corporate leadership surely provide a lesson to conservatism regarding the role of regulation in the nuclear power industry. What is that lesson?

      After all, a conservatism that cannot acknowledge mistakes, and that deals with harsh realities and real-world complexity via futile denialism, abuse, and stonewalling, is merely willful ignorance and prejudice that masquerades as conservatism.

      No one wants that. The world cannot afford that.

      As for global warming … ditto. Absolutely, ditto.

    88. Rick Beltran, Spring says:

      Hi Jack-

      Big fan of Morning Bell. However — if you are going to list an item as a fact, please keep your opinions [i.e...."It already regulates enough"] to a minimum and stick to the facts. Not sticking to facts detracts from the point you are trying to advance.

      Otherwise — your article was very informing.

      Thx

      Rick Beltran

    89. Michael Mayhew, Prof says:

      The Heritage Foundation, has never been accused of having a scientific outlook, and isn't highly regarded in technical circles. Your lack of understanding of data, climate change and other critical issues make your institution worse than background noice.

      If you want to promote energy jobs, renewable energy is the solution. Stay away from nuclear power discussions as your ingorance is appalling.

    90. Pat Shadis, Edgcomb, says:

      On Saturday, Japanese officials declared a state of emergency related to the damaged nuclear plants and ordered 200,000 people within 16 miles of the plant to leave their homes and evacuate from the area

      On Tuesday Japanese officials ordered another 150,000 to stay indoors to protect themselves from radiation as things worsened and a new explosion and fire occurred in the spent fuel pool where used highly radioactive fuel is stored. The reactor has a protective dome over it that hopefully will stay in tact even if there is a meltdown, keeping the radioactive materials contained. The spent fuel pool does not have a protective dome. It is located 8 stories from the ground, is relatively vulnerable and if the highly radioactive spent fuel burns, which I understand is happening, it presents a grave new threat of radioactive materials being released into the atmosphere.

      Why in God's name would anyone be remotely interested in downplaying any of this? To what end? For the protection of the suffering people of Japan? I don't think so. For the protection of the nuclear industry. I think so.

    91. Bill, Louisiana says:

      The Media needs to take a deep breath and have someone explain to them there different types of Radiation: Gamma (the dangerous one, need a lead for protection) Alpha, and Beta.

      Alpha is a positive Neutron particle that can not penatrate even our skin. However it can be breathed in and is damaging to the respiratory system in high concentrations. This particle expends its damaging energy after it contacts other Atoms forming an isotope, and never travels far before it is dissapated. This can be water atoms or dust in the air. So Alpha is not very hazardous unless you are near the release of a thick cloud like that coming out of the Nuclear Plants. So a particlate respirator mask will filter out these particles. Beta is a negative charged particle and can be filtered with a dust masks.

      Maybe some training in order for our Media.

    92. Dustin Hecker, Bosto says:

      Mr. Spencer,

      How can anyone really project what will or will not happen with the now at least four reactors at risk in Japan? I am generally a supporter of nuclear power, and I believe that the expressed fears about civilian nuclear power production are (usually) overblown. But the situation in Japan hardly seems to be stabilizing and seems pretty darn serious from where I am sitting.

    93. Brett Rappaport, Man says:

      If the true intellectual response by Germany, the media, and Ed Markey is to halt energy produced by Nuclear facilities, then in the same use of logic, I suggest the following. The United States government has been extremely irresponsible in their use of taxpayer money and accumulation of debt. We should immediately halt their checkbook and credit lines, until some time as we deem it safe for the taxpayer.

      Seriously, I feel very badly for the Japanese people. This will impact upon them for many years, socially, economically, and psychologically. In times of such catastrophe, leaders must be measures in their response, understand the facts, and proceed accordingly.

    94. Tracy O'Brien B says:

      Your facts look right to me except for 1! The immediate residents in large numbers were afffected by the accident at Three Mile Island Pennsylvania! My husband and I drove to Belmar,New Jersey from Akron,Ohio to pick up a new car and stopped in at Three Mile Island for dinner. We stood in line for 1/2 hour waiting for a table and overheard conversations among the locals and finally began talking to people around us. Everyone told of cancer treatments throughout the entire community. We were so sickened by all of the conversations that when it was finally our turn to go in and be seated we were overcome with grief and trust me we did not read about any of this in the paper at the time! I taught school in Rainier,Oregon in the late 70's directly under the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant that since was imploded. Frequently I would hear the warning signal go off and never knew what was indicated by these warning bells! These were not on our local news in Longview,Washington across the river nor did we see any news on the television about the Power Plant during the 3 years that we lived there.It was eerie.We did get a flyer in the mail once a year giving instructions for how to proceed in case of an accident but while we lived there we knew that as close as we were that there was no real answer except to drive to Portland pronto that is if everyone were home at the time and not at work or school or asleep! I believe we will learn so much from the Japanese from this disaster and that a local resident of the Japan tragedy stated we will build better and be even more prepared.The Japanese have records that 300 years ago on the West Coast an earthquake and tsunami of the same magnitude on Jan.26th killed trees and caused erosion all along the Pacific Coast.Tracy O'Brien

    95. Al Reasin. Conowingo says:

      As a retired NRC licensed senior reactor operator, listening to the on air experts and Japanese government announcements is disconcerting. We have been told there is no breach of primary containment (the vessel), they have had reportedly hydrogen explosions and a limited release of radioactive isotopes. These are BWRs or boiling water reactors. The steam piping penetrates the dome (secondary containment) close to and over the reactor vessel head and its steam penetration. The building around the turbine, generator, reactor and support equipment is not a containment as is usually thought of but is sufficient to contain the slightly radioactive steam to drive the turbine; however it is not designed as a secondary containment for a nuclear accident. But the BWR is a more efficient system.

      The domes one sees in the usual nuclear facility picture is for PWRs or pressurized water reactors enclose the reactor and associated equipment and is design to withstand a nuclear accident. A PWR uses steam generators (heat exchangers) that take pressurized water from the reactor piping and convert the secondary water in the steam generator into non radioactive steam for the turbine.

      So in a BWR any hydrogen produced in the core can escape into to the building that houses it if the steam piping is damaged and cannot be isolated by the shut off valves, as well as any radioactive Iodine 131 and radioactive isotopes produced by the previous fission process in the collapsed core. So if that, the hydrogen, is the source of the explosions, the vessel is effectively open to the building via the steam piping penetrations and easily to the surrounding area.

    96. Bobo, California says:

      I wonder if Mr. Spencer or most of the commentors clicked the link to read what Congressman Markey said?

      –Imposing a moratorium on siting new nuclear reactors in seismically active areas until the completion of a top-to-bottom review of seismic and tsunami reactor design resiliency, emergency response and evacuation plans.

      Mr. Spencer is not truthful here with his statement that Congressman Markey calls for a moratorium on all new nuclear reactors. I don't see that in Markey's statement.

      I can't imagine that taking a look at what worked and what did not in Japan, making corrections to the U.S. programs and regulations is a bad idea. Particularly since I live not too far from the San Onofre nuclear power plant and this could happen easily here in California. For those of you not familiar San Onofre is on the coast and California has earthquakes.

      Personally I'm all for new nuclear power in this country. It beats funding fossil fuels. I don't understand the love the conservatives have for fossil fuel? It's old dirty technology that should be replaced by nukes and renewable energy. Isn't that free market capitalism to let them die out and be replaced by more efficient technology? We would not be fighting a war in Iraq right now if we were not so dependent on foreign oil. We have been spending $1.2 trillion a year on the two wars in the middle east. Most of it in Iraq and the war was explained by the Bush administration and the right to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and keep stability in the region to keep the oil flowing. Isn't that $1.2 trillion dollars another oil subsidy? Worse, fine American men and women are dying to subsidize the oil industry with this war!

      I did a search on this site for "oil subsidies" articles and found none. If this is truly a conservative group how come there is no mention of the GOP rejecting two bills this month that would have cut billions of dollars of subsidies to the oil companies? Oil is $100 dollars a barrell and gas $4 a gallon in California. Big oil has had record profits since the policies of President Bush helped them out so much. Where are the true conservatives who have the moxy to speak up against giving tax money to rich oil companies? Perhaps I was just not able to find the article against this in my search.

      Thanks!

    97. Tracy O'Brien B says:

      My husband and I drove to Belmar,New Jersey to pick up a new car in 1989. We stopped in ThreeMile Island,Pennsylvania. We ate at the local best restaraunt there and waited in line outside to get in.To say that there was no impact on the health to the immediate residents of Three Mile Island is incorrect and this is not the first that I have seen and heard these statements since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Everyone that we overheard and then spoke with had family members with cancer.It was a mourning line and we were so sickened by all that we heard it was hard when it was our turn to go in and eat! I agree with everything else in your article and we are learning so much from the Japanese,they have records of an earthquake and tsunami dating back to Jan 26th 300 years ago of the same magnitude that occured on the West Coast.Tracy O'Brien

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    99. Oscat T. Unger, San says:

      Your article is a necessary response to the hysteria that prevails in the media – including my beloved Fox News! However, NOBODY is talking about the nuclear technology that exists – now. Ever heard of the Integral Fast Reactor? Dr. Charles Till? This space is limited but I will suggest that you Google "Integral Fast Reactor" and discover what we have been denied but other nations are beginning to employ – Russia, China, India and others.

      The Integral Fast Reactor solves most of the problems that exist with the current reactors. The Integral Fast Reactor system will shutdown itself if any part of the reactor cycle is interrupted. It produces no plutonium. It uses spent fuel rods from the existing reactors for fuel. It is very efficient – 98% where as current reactors are less than 10%. The isotopes remaining in the used fuel rods have half lives in the years range – not hundreds of years as current reactors. The public should be made aware of these devices.

    100. Joann says:

      Initially outraged at the idea of Congressman Markey "comparing the current situation in Japan to Chernobyl," I clicked on the link and found that he said "I hope and pray that Japanese experts can successfully bring these reactors under control and avert a Chernobyl-style disaster that could release large amounts of radioactive materials into the environment.” Not exactly a comparison in my mind, merely a reference to something to be avoided. I also found that his call for a moratorium referred to seismically active zones; you conveniently left that part out. I expect objective commentators to be truly objective and not slant their references to fit their own viewpoints.

      Regardless – you are clearly an expert in this field and I would appreciate an updated column with your objective viewpoint on the situation today, as the Japanese are still having trouble getting this under control.

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