Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ice wall won't work- will anything?

This post updated next day:

Comment on the last post:

 Lynx said...
I am wondering, do you have any thoughts or ideas about what CAN be done to fix/take care of the radiation problem in Japan? Things that will actually work.
April 30, 2016 at 6:11 PM

The answers are no fun; and scientifically "not established" - which is why they just gave up on Chernobyl and have tried to bury it in concrete; and keep people out of the contaminated areas.

General consensus among those who know is that Fukushima is at least as "dirty" as Chernobyl; it's just that the Japanese government spends most of its disaster funds denying that, so tourists won't disappear.  It's really bad.

Here are 3 really good links for you to dig in to- with the caveat that they all have unstated biases, and you need, always, to be reading between the lines.  But- here is very good information; like the actual cost of the ice wall, just the construction?  Around $330 Million.  Oh; and- to run the refrigeration machinery; for the next 200 years, at least- the wall uses enough electricity to power 13,000 Japanese homes.  Every day.

This is the Japan Times, Japan's largest English language newspaper, owned by a company that manufactures "automotive fasteners"...

That article was cited here: "Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years",,, —   in an online source that struck me as maybe a bit fanatical - until I saw their major supporting testimonial  comes from this guy:

Arnie Gundersen - a real, live, certified nuclear power engineer and past nuclear industry executive- who was the only one speaking up and speaking the truth during the primary Fukushima events.  He does tend to speak mostly technical answers- really technical. But he also does not speak with a forked tongue.  How do I know?  He pretty much always agrees with my own analyses from the data.  (That's supposed to be a joke; but it's also true.)

Quick bottom line?  The stuff in nuclear reactors is just way too dangerous for humans to ever deal with.  Do humans make mistakes?  The entire nuclear power industry is predicated on the idea that we can operate insanely complex machines - perfectly.  Forever.  The radioactive stuff inside will get out in time- and it has more time than we do- and then it's unbelievably dangerous.  Humans simply do not have ANY way to cope with it.  Japan is busy pretending to be busy- because they have no idea what to do.  Nor does anyone else.  Should have thought of this stuff before building all those reactors?  Nah.  "Trust us, we can make this work just fine."  According to the engineers hired by the guys making all the profits- which are huge for those doing the construction.

My solution?  Start shutting the power plants down, as fast as we can (just like Germany) - hopefully before the stuff comes out, via terrorist bombs, computer hacking, or stupidity- and then what can we do with it?

Not a single "repository" in use or planned is vaguely functional or adequate; it has to be "kept secure" - for 10,000 years.  Yeah really.

Here's the ONLY place I think we should put it: continental plate subduction trenches.  You put the waste into a scrap submarine (for example) - fill the sub half full of radioactives in sealed casks, the other half of the sub filled with lead - guide it into the deepest ocean trench you can find -which is also a subduction trench - and sink it as deep as it's possible to go.  A) terrorists can't reach it.  B) it's all so heavy, lead and uranium; that if it starts to leak, it's not coming out of the trench anyway, and C) geology will carry it, about 8 centimeters a year, down into the Earth's mantle; below the crust.  It won't be coming back to the surface for a billion years or so; if ever.  Guaranteed by physics.  Even the half-lives of that crud will be expired by then.

Why aren't we doing this?  Money.  This would actually be incredibly CHEAPER than anything else; but doesn't involve $Billions/year in very reliable income for the companies currently babysitting all the nuclear waste.  They love their jobs - put up a fence and watch.  And it's SO easy to scare folks with "oh, gosh, no, we should NEVER put it into our sacred OCEAN!!  Horrors!"

Not a great solution. But- probably better than anything else.  And not my idea- it's been kicked around for decades- and discussion is always quietly squashed.

Tripped on this today; the evidence for the "money" connection to bad nuclear waste storage:

Newsweek - an article on "The American Fukushima?" - by which they mean the old Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington; where plutonium for bombs was produced:

   "The 177 underground tanks were never a permanent solution, and the government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion, according to estimates, making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away."

Italics mine.  Really good profit margins; and zero risk, the taxpayers will pay for any cost overruns, delays, etc.  My off the top of my head cost for constructing guidable barges, loading the waste on them, and sinking it in the nearest deep subduction zone - a paltry $10 billon, perhaps.  Oh, and it could all be done in maybe 20 years; not 50, for another temporary "solution".


Jason and Michelle said...

It boggles my mind why we still use nuclear power. I like the subduction trench idea. It's the safest proposition I have seen.

Lynx said...

Thank you for your post. I think that the subduction trench sounds actually workable. I wish governments would actually do that. I sometimes think that we all contribute to the problem of using nuclear reactors, because we all use power. I am a contributer. I use a laptop, hot water, light and heat for my apartment, washer, dryer, refrigerator and stove, as well as electricity at work. If everyone would reduce their usage of power and fuel, it would definitely decrease the demand for it. But it seems that the demand is just increasing instead.

Lynx said...

It also sounds like you both answered and did not answer my question. Basically, it sounds like there are things we can do with nuclear reactor plants that have not (as of yet) had (serious) problems. But there's not really a good solution to the current problem in Japan. Did I get that right?

Greenpa said...

Sorry for the lag in response- somehow your comments only just showed up on my "pending' function; though I can see the dates way back. 2 things - There is very little we can do about nuclear plants that are not already in trouble - if you look at what they are doing at Fukushima - it is very, very, clear they do not KNOW what to do with any problem they run into; and repeatedly; there are unanticipated problems. The idea that old reactors can be safely shut down is simply not demonstrated - in anything like the time scales necessary; and the track record for old plants is very, very poor; they leak.

And; it you'll look at one of my very oldest posts - I have long been committed to NOT contributing to nuclear power use. Is it possible to totally not use it? Not if you ever go to town. But on my own land - not one electron; for almost 40 years now; home and business all off grid; and for that exact reason.