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View Diary: U.S. and Japanese Scientists Report Genetic Abnormalities from Fukushima (32 comments)

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  •  Yikes, how sad, but predictable. I've seen some (8+ / 0-)

    scientists argue that because water samples off the coast of California show that the Fukushima isotopes of such a small fraction of background radiation the concern about radiation release was overblown and we should all get back to being gung-ho in favor of nuclear power.

    When solar and wind are not less expensive, and equivalent gigawatts of production of solar and wind can be build in two years, while the delivery delay now just for the containment domes is over 10 years, and total construction time up to 13 years for nuclear, it appears no commercial operators will build them now unless they receive federal guarantees to profitability - something even our own President has been pushing in his "all of the above approach" I find discouraging and even infuriating.

    Plus the cost of solar and wind his coming down fast.  Please do not quote this as an exact number, as I do not have my notes handy, however, the cost of solar plants has fallen by somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% or more in the last four years and the industry learning curve is well established at about a 20% unit cost of production for every doubling of the installed base, which is nearly the same as for integrated circuit  chips.

    So, as the per unit cost of solar and wind energy production is predicted to continue falling, the cost of nuclear has been increasing, as we discover fracture pipes in old plants, and other problems.

    Even given the government has limited corporate liability and assumed many of the external costs.

    We do not have any permanent long term waste storage program or site approved, so all these nuclear reactors have become local nuclear waste dumps.

    At the time of the Fukushima accident I read that the U.S. still has 30 of the kinds of waste storage sites that Fukushima has which are vulnerable to overheat, boil off, and catch on fire releasing far more radiation than a core meltdown would.

    We are supposed to be trying to encase these in an expensive but more secure sheathing, but right now these 30 non upgraded cost are nuclear dirty bombs waiting to  happen and many place near population centers.

    The risk of terrorist attacks either in this country or any unstable ones is not included in any cost calculation, and is yet another external cost  of nuclear energy production not included in any comparative energy cost of generation tables we've seen.

    Amory Lovins, in Soft Energy Paths, and E.F. Schumacher in Small is Beautiful (? do I have this right) also noted an additional external cost of nuclear, has to do with this security aspect.  To the extent we  as a society choose highly centralized power generation, that is highly vulnerable to  terrorist attack, we are simultaneously, without out realizing it choosing a highly centralized, militarized social structure.

    If a single terrorist can be so dangerous to  a society that with a single attack on one plant could wipe out Gigawatts of production, or make half of a state uninhabitable by flying an Cessna filled with explosive into one of these 30 on site obsolete waste containment ponds, (some in Fukushima are on stilts!) then individuals that dangerous have to  be monitored, spied up, and energy production site have to  be guarded by heavily armed solders.

    How do we calculate this social cost?

    We know from the Zimbardo experiments that had to be canceled midstream because the  half to the students playing the role of prison guard became so abusive to those playing the prisoners.

    During the Fukushima incident I got into a debate with a security officer at a U.S. nuclear plant who came her apparently "debunk" these kinds of observations I reminded people of them.

    He angrily started point out that at his nuclear plant they had just in fact substantially upgraded their security perimeters and were do "live fire" security exercises to be prepared against any terrorist.  

    He said he couldn't go into details for security reasons, blah, blah, blah.

    Without realizing it, he was proving Schumacher's and Lovin's point. This military officer now in charge of security at a local nuclear power plant has a small army of highly armed and militarized solders regularly practicing how to fire on intruding civilians, (the potential enemies.) Shot down Cessna airplanes with surface to air missiles (some pilot might be lost.)

    The point was however, unlike fields of solar collectors or neighborhoods with solar collectors on roofs, (many collections of pictures I have for beauty's sake, especially in Bavaria.

    We not need to employ armies around them, with soldier who very quickly develop hostile attitudes towards their target threats.

    Similar to the militarization of the police MB has written much about.

    How can solders who practice regularly shooting down potential enemy civilians, who might be protester in a group, might be some dumb high school kid with bottle rockets, or who lets face it may be a real terrorist who could make half a state uninhabitable -- how can these soldier not develop feelings of contempt for civilians as many of our police have apparently done.

    Someone pointed this out in a Gaza dairy today. If one knows he may have to fire artilliary shells into civilian population centers, or 2,000 bombs on a city block to kill one terrorist who may be visited his children how could one not psychologically engage in a process of villification, dehumanization, and other feedback processes to justify to yourself you were still the good guys not the bad guys.

    So lets shoot them up.

    How do we quantify this real external cost to our social systems so we  can correctly choose as a society what forms of energy production we want.

    One does not have to be a Noble prize winning economist to realize nuclear energy is vast to expensive even without adding up the numbers exactly. Not even ^%$###@ close

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 07:37:56 PM PDT

    •  All of those meta issues (6+ / 0-)

      are so pertinent, and all I can say is I agree with every point you make.

      And beyond that, here we have this example of "unforeseen" natural catastrophe. With these side effects that will take generations to quantify.

      The risk is just too great. Particularly when we can have the same "reward" from clean, cheaper sources in a time frame where it might actually do us some good (re: catastrophic climate change).

      •  It was always a gamble (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ypochris, Sandino

        the [nuclear-infested] government was willing to take with our lives. They wanted the plutonium to build more bombs with which to threaten all life on earth (and every single human being with a lethal dose X400+). Which they were all willing to unleash if it looked like they might lose a political argument. The technology is for killing. Boiling water with it is just an afterthought, and with at least as much overkill as the WMDs represent. Thereby making these facilities WMDs all by themselves.

        It has always been known that once these puppies are turned on, there is no way to simply turn them off.

        It has always been known that they represent attractive targets for anyone out to cause major harm/disruption, giant dirty bombs just waiting for the opportunity to melt down and explode.

        It has always been known that even in 'normal' operation these plants dump radioisotopes into the environment that will cause the deaths of X number of people (usually infants/children) per year per megawatt.

        It has always been known that the odds of a natural disaster striking a nuke could take it out, the wager was that it wouldn't occur during the 40-year operating life of any given facility. Most of our ~103 reactor plants have recently been granted 40-year extensions to those original operating licenses.

        ALL of our reactor plants - including the ones that have been 'decommissioned' (on paper but not in real life) - store many years' worth of deadly high level spent fuel waste in overloaded and unshielded spent fuel pools. 23 of those are just like the ones at Fukushima, glorified swimming pools chock full of death-dealing garbage dangling 100 feet in the air.

        S'okay, we are told by the industry and its pet regulators. We all get to die of something, might as well be nukes.

        There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

        by Joieau on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 08:19:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  As for the small dosage, (6+ / 0-)

      the studies all emphasize how small doses over an extended time add up to major genetic damage.

      You might be interested in some of the speculation in the article regarding why birds and butterflies seem to be the most affected species.

      •  I can't wait to read more, ypochris thanks. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ypochris, Lujane, Sandino, OldDragon, Joieau

        You remind me of another related radiation issue - that of the radioactive  powered dust  from the depleted uranium shell casings the United States uses in bombs and antitank shells to make them extra hard but have been left in a dust all across Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere else we, or our weapons technologies have been used extensively.

        I'm not entirely certain of the physics of this but I've read that by using depleted uranium for antitank shells it not only is one of the hardest material around but when fired at extremely high velocity the physics of the impact turns the forward leading shell casing into a molten mass so hot, it melts its way through the rest of the tank armor so that when the following part of the shell explodes, it does so inside the tank which is so vastly more destructive.

        This is not a radioactive nuclear explosion but I think just the energy from momentum, the mass times the velocity being so large that when it impacts the armor of the tank it achieve almost instantaneous temperatures over several thousand degrees, maybe has high as 5,000 which is as hot as the surface of the sun, however, I could likely be wrong about the exact number - let's just say "really, really hot."

        One uncertainty I had after reading an article on this at the beginning of the war, and posting this as an additional reason the destruction of Fallujah should be considered a war crime, the question of why use depleted uranium, (which btw, is substantially less radioactive than the enriched uranium used in nuclear bomb?

        Is it just because uranium is so much incredibly more dense than most other metals, say lead, iron, steel etc. so having quadruple the mass in the mass times velocity equation makes it worth it, or is they an extra temperature boost due to level fission during the compression of the impact?

        No where near enough, by many, many orders of magnitude to reach critical mass, but perhaps enough to add a thousand degrees of so to the impact temperature such that the forward leading edge of the impact shell melts through the armor rather just try to "bust it pieces" with impact kinetics?

        Sadly, this is just barely beyond my education in physics, and my ability to calculate for myself.

        But, likely something I could teach myself to do in an afternoon or two if I put my mind to it, unlike much of the interesting quantum mechanics of string theory which would require years and years, and years of going back to school, and even that may not be sufficient.

        The reason why the answer is important, not just interesting, is because if it turns out, as I suspect that it is purely I matter of depleted uranium's high density, and not any extra contrabution of low level fission to temperature as I suspect is likely to be true, then we should be able to design a weapon that achieves as effective a result without leaving low level radioactive dust all over the place. Dust of isotopes of both uranium and common other radioactive isotopes found mixed in with depleted uranium I suspect, my understanding is that this residue dust from the exploded shells is going to be around causing mutation to Iraqi children, and wildlife for hundreds if not thousands of years.

        This is probably a war crime in either case, but if it turns out that we are just using uranium rather than some other almost as dense metal for convenience and cost because we have shit loads of it around as waste product from nuclear bomb making and spent reactor cores, so it is cheap and plentiful then it will be a double war crime.

        Similar conceptually to using 2,000 pound bombs in Gaza to kill a single terrorist and taking out an entire city block and a hundred civilians, including children as collateral damage.

        This kind of justification and war protocol is a disgraceful disregard for human life and the laws of war.

        And the fact that the U.S. and Israel excuse ourselves from having to think about the Geneva Conventions because in our minds we are the "good guys" like a superior race of such morally superior beings that we can kill thousands to find a few alleged terrorists on a loose probability estimate or leave radioactive dust all across Iraq for 25,000 years to cause mutations to all DNA, or RNA life forms, (all of it by current knowledge) for the simple reasons that abundant uranium is plentiful and cheap in waste dumps but concentrating sufficient quantities of a non-radioactive alternative would be "inconvenient" and more expensive for us "superior moral beings" only for the protection of the inferior "races" we wish to bomb - would be so horrendously disgraceful I am disgusted and shamed to have any part of it.

        In my opinion, this is just a variation of the same mentality behind so many police shooting of black children, the mentally retard, homeless and other killings we've seen so much of.

        The arrogance of those given exceptional powers warps their psychology that they can commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, incremental genocide and other violations of the Geneva Conventions without wincing and even then wanting to give ourselves medals for our superior courage and virtue.

        In our minds we villify, and dehumanize our enemy in deliberate desensitization exercises and process my father told me about from his experience as a Navy pilot trained to bomb the North Koreans, and potentially even the Chinese and Cubans.

        His chin would quiver with suppressed emotion as he repeated the brainwashing slogans American Navy pilots were encouraged to use, humorously after watching propaganda films showing our pilots have sneaky, cruel, and dispicable the Korean and Chinese soldiers were with the refrain "bomb the yellow bastards," and "well drop so many bombs on this yellow bastards we will bounce the ruble," or "vaporize their sorry asses" which is what the second strikes of "just to be sure" extra nuclear bombs" or even sufficient numbers of conventional warheads might do.

        My non-professional understanding, based on non-classified documents is that these same kinds of depleted uranium shell casings are also used in the advance bunker buster bombs we've given Israel even decades ago, so they could destroy tunnels.

        I've heard no discussion yet, if Israel used them in Gaza, however, we've given them many to be used against Iran in the event Israel attacks the underground bunkers Iran is alleged to do some of their most sensitive nuclear enrichment work.

        But, notice now the latest most popular bigotry and dehumanization can be heard from P.M. Netanyahu, Mark Regev, and former and current Israeli ambassadors in the form of "Hamas and the Gazans are such deplorable and subhuman animals that we should be giving medals to our brave soldiers who kill them because the miserable dogs use woman and children as shields."

        So just to illustrate how much they therefore deserve to be killed we will kill several thousand so called "woman and children" and blame it on Hamas for being such despicable animals.

        My father's chin would quiver with expressed rage when he explained to be how the desensitization videos, lectures, and practice bombing jokes were taught so the pilots could comfort themselves an anyone of their flight crews who might feels tinges of remorse, doubt, or hesitation if ordered to bomb civilian target.

        "Well men, now's our chance to bomb those yellow bastards back into the stone age where they belong."

        "We're going to bounce the ruble today, men."

        "Time to give these commie bastard their due."

        My father became a pacifist, and after leaving the Catholic Church before taking his final vows, after studying in a monastery to become a priest may have had some "unresolved issues" with hypocrisy by those with vast power, combined with a sense of moral superiority and  self-righteousness.  

        Then again it may be genetic and run in the family line as my son seems extra sensitive to the same issues. But it could be nurture as I've told him all of these stories since he was just a little boy, just as my Dad told me.

        I had the advantage of discovering where my Dad hid all of his Navy training manuals which came in blue and white covers with titles like "ABC War Defense" i.e. Atomic, Biological, and Chemical  warfare protocols. which I probably should not have been reading as an eight year old.

        "I am who I am," as Albin used to sing.

        Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

        by HoundDog on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 10:27:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No doubt it has occurred to you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, Sandino, OldDragon

          that using depleted uranium munitions is an easy way to deal with the intractable issue of nuclear waste.

          Just dump it on the sub-human enemy.

          Then look forward, not back on our war crimes.

          Somehow you don't seem to have gotten the memo.

          (P.S. It might be a good idea to stay out of the Middle East for a few millennia...)

          •  depleted uranium has essentially nothing to (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, ypochris, Sandino

            do with the "intractable issue of nuclear waste"

            DU is in fact for all intents and purposes non-radioactive.  In  fact, it is used as a radiation shield (and before paranoia took over, for thinks like counterweights in 747s . .. .

          •  Depleted uranium is the U238 (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, ypochris, Sandino

            left over after they've separated the U235 out of it for nuclear fuel. U235 is fissile (and fissionable). U238 is not fissile, but is fissionable via fast neutrons. It cannot sustain a fission reaction. It decays by means of alpha particle at more than 4 MeV, which is why lung cancers are ubiquitous among uranium miners. And why the contamination spread about by the use of depleted uranium in war leaves a nasty legacy behind.

            Nuclear waste - such as spent fuel - is something quite else. As much as a third of the U238 in reactor fuel rods has been transformed into plutonium 239 by neutron capture, and there are a host of fission products and decay daughters in there too. If not continually cooled for a period of years, spent fuel can melt just like active fuel.

            There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

            by Joieau on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 08:36:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks Joieau. This is generally what I thought (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joieau, ypochris, Sandino

              Non-fissile, but still not good to spread around in great
              large quantities.

              Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

              by HoundDog on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 09:03:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not clear here. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Are you saying nuclear waste is only a byproduct of energy production, but not of nuclear weapons production? Clearly you are stating that it decays energetically - i.e. is radioactive, and we know it is the waste product of U235 production. So what makes this NOT nuclear waste?

              •  Tailings from uranium mining (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sandino, ypochris

                are kept in waste ponds, just like coal ash. It's crushed uranium ore, so somewhat (but not 'highly') concentrated. Processing of uranium ore produces "yellowcake," a much more concentrated mass of finely ground uranium, but it's not kept in tailings ponds or buried in a repository, it's shipped to the fuel processors. There are a couple of ways to concentrate the slightly heavier U235 isotopes in a matrix of relatively 'pure' U238, this is what they make fuel out of. The leftovers - relatively 'pure' U238 depleated of U235 - makes a very nice, hard ammo shell. The US has a rather large full-time ammo-making industry running 24-7.

                Depleted uranium munitions are NOT considered nuclear waste, and the contamination spread about when they're used in a war zone is not something anybody feels the need to clean up.

                Bottom line, it's not "nuclear waste" because it's useful as the heavy metal that it is.

                There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

                by Joieau on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:26:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Oh... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sandino, ypochris

                Nuclear weapons production produces lots of nuclear waste. As does spent fuel recycling (only done at some government facilities these days, no commercial recycling), and fuel fabrication. That nuclear waste is not depleted uranium. It's all the other crap.

                There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

                by Joieau on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:29:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  The density is a main factor (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy, Joieau, HoundDog, ypochris

          but the fact that some contractors would have to dispose of the DU if they couldn't find a way to sell it surely also plays a role. The main problem from a health standpoint is not the weak radioactivity as much as the heavy-metal toxicity og the substance which happens to form the bio-available compound Uranyl Nitrate when it is exposed to very high temperatures in air. This poison hits the targets and destroyed ordnance of the enemy as well as the soldiers firing the DU ammo.

          •  Not sure if that is the case, lead has almost (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sandino, HoundDog, ypochris

            the same density

            But uranium is (somewhat to quite) "harder" of a metal, thus providing it with greater penetrating ability against armored vehicles.

            and you are absolutely correct that the problem with DU is not radiation but with chemical toxicity (something, btw, that is equally problematic with "conventional" lead-based munitions!).  

            In fact the chemical mutagenicity of DU is 1,000,000x greater than its ability to cause mutations via radiation.  IOW, its radiation effects are for all intents and purposes irrelevant.

            •  Thanks Guy (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ypochris, Roadbed Guy

              I probably should have said something like 'Metallurgical Properties' to encompass both the density, which is important for delivering a lot of energy to the target, and hardness, which is critical for penetration.

              I still think if there weren't tons of this stuff sitting around as waste products of nuclear fuel/weapons production, it would never have been used in munitions. It would be interesting to read about the DoD money/procurement trail on this.

              •  Sure, this is doubtless true . . .. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                I still think if there weren't tons of this stuff sitting around as waste products of nuclear fuel/weapons production
                but, and this is a bit but (not to be confused with the more pleasing to some "big butt" meme), if it weren't available, an equally appalling substitute such as lead would have been used.

                The atrocity here isn't DU per se, but the warmongering nature of our country .. .

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