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Japan’s Nuclear Accidents Just Spilled Milk

March 14, 2011

5/10 update: more from Automatic Earth on Fukushima.

5/3 update: a good counter narrative arguing Fukushima is a deadly serious accident and where it stops nobody knows.

3/28 update: How powerful was the tsunami? note: video is a little bit long but worth the time.

3/22 update: Wondering why the nuclear catastrophe has fallen out of the news? Here’s a good chart to show why.

On rare occasion one has the privilege of encountering knowledge on an issue of public interest which overturns and discredits all alternate reports.

My blog is on real estate prices, but I hope you will not mind that I ask you to take a look at this post on Fukushima. The report is slightly technical, explains the accidents definitively, and will leave you deeply proud of engineers and scientists.

Japan is in a crisis after the earthquake, but the nuclear accidents are a side show that prove nuclear energy is safe.

“You will know more,” the author says, “about nuclear power plants after reading it than all journalists on this planet put together.” Don’t know about you but I believe him.

8 Comments
  1. March 24, 2011 6:50 am

    David, lets ask the rescuers who are going to the hospital if there are any health effects, Lets ask the farmers with contaminated produce and dairy products if there is any effect, lets
    ask the mothers of children who cannot be given tap water. We are talking millions of people effected by this supposed health crisis(your implication).I dont want to kill the nuclear industry either but to call this anything other than a very serious nuclear and possible health event is just plain irresponsible. I cannot take anyone seriously that already has determined there will be no health effects from this disaster (especially someone not living thru it) when it clearly has not completely unfolded. I talked to a person in Tokyo yesterday, I can tell you that this article would not convince them that they are not living thru a very serious health event. From the tone of your post I am guessing that the possible cancers or other health problems that the Japanese could see in the future from the elevated levels of radiation, are not counted by you or your expert.

    • March 24, 2011 5:01 pm

      Hi Jo, You are talking about health effects which you do not understand and which many of your news sources do not understand. It doesn’t mean there will be no harm from the nuclear accidents, but the primary point of the MIT prof from the beginning of the crisis is that the reporting will be a deluge of errors. As a result I’m very skeptical of the views of those who start their argument with a committed opposition to nuclear energy. I know many reporters even from big-name publications will fail to grasp the subject. I’m waiting for the work of a serious reporter who will dig deep for the consequences of the accident. Thanks for your comment. Michael

  2. David permalink
    March 21, 2011 10:48 am

    It would appear now, another week into this catastrophy, that the MIT scientist is wrong. Eliminating human error in site selection, engineering, construction, and managing nuclear power stations, still leaves much to be desired. Nuclear power can not be an answer for a country like the US where private enterprise runs the plants because cost cutting to increase profit comes before caution. Always. That’s what private enterprise is about.

    Plus, in US the heavy costs are socialized and the profits privatized by virtue of the govt taking the spent fuel for storage forever, and providing the new fuel at govt expense. Indemnifying by US govt the corporations who build and run the plants because no private insurer will insure the plants. TAx credits and tax exemptions to cover the costs of contruction… it goes on and on. Nuclear power is socialism for the power corporations, pure and simple.

    • March 21, 2011 8:19 pm

      Hi David, the MIT guy predicted the future. the nuclear catastrophe which hit front pages as a crisis is going to be a non-event for human health – a zero reading on the Geiger counter. if you have evidence to the contrary please send a link. thanks for your comment. Michael

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 30, 2011 9:49 am

        David, I did not say one word about health effects, cancer soon or late, or forcast anything about how this nuclear tragedy will turn out in Japan.

        I played a small part in killing the Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant in Oklahoma, a project proposed by the Kerr-McGee Corporation. There were demonstrators protesting every weekend in big numbers and a few devoted anti-nuke activists occuplying the proposed site, all of them focusing on health issues. My group, headed by PhD economist Gene Tyner, killed the plant when we demonstrated with a thorough economic analysis to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that the plant could not be built or operated without very significant taxpayer subsidies. After the OCC concluded the same and sent their report to the OK Legislature, the plant’s future was killed in committee once it was clear to the lawmakers that the subsidies required from taxpayers and increased rates from ratepayers would go on forever. The plant would have never been profitable, much less paid back to the taxpayers, without the taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies. With the subsidies and increased rates it would have been extremely profitable to Kerr-McGee.

        All that said, Black Fox may have been unique. Kerr-McGee had a very strong lobby in OK at nearly every level of govt and may have overreached with their proposal to OCC and the legislature. OR… maybe not. It has never come up again.

        I have not looked at rate plans, nor taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power plants in other states in any detail, although I know generally that all plants that have so far been built in US have been recipients of govt subsidies, by the very fact that US DOE has to indemnify every project because the private sector won’t, and I roughly remember the tables Dr Tyner develooped that showed levels of govt subsidies of every plant built in US – which, admittedly, varied from a little to a lot.

        And I don’t know very much about France’s successful nuclear/electricity system, except that rates are low, about 80% of thier electricity come from nuclear, and that the govt owns the system. And one other thing that I read years ago in a French journal, to wit: each plant is built with improvements learned from construction and operations of preceeding plants. Perhaps it could be a model for US, or anywhere, but having minimal profit motive is central to making the French system work.

  3. March 16, 2011 12:42 am

    Michael,

    Thanks for the excellent link. I’m afraid that the press is going to blow the whole thing out of proportion and here we go again – another 30 years without any nuclear plants being built in the US. The Three Mile Island incident was used to make the average Joe fear nuclear power, even though there was no dangerous radiation leaked into the environment and nobody died or even had serious radiation poisoning. Since nuclear power is the only dependable clean way to generate electricity you would think it would be embraced, yet the ignorance and fear continue. Anyways thanks for all the great data you provide, much appreciated.

  4. March 15, 2011 3:45 pm

    Hi Greg, it’s possible the expert is wrong, but it’s also possible the reporters are both wrong and trying to sell newspapers. we will know in the next few days. thanks for your comment. Michael

  5. March 15, 2011 3:37 pm

    I appreciate the heads up and directions to a well thought out article on the state of the Japanese nuclear situation. I read the article last night, and awoke this morning to see large headlines of a worsening catastrophe. I really want to believe the author of the article, but I can’t really reconcile the two view points. Where do we stand? Are current headlines correct, and the other guy simply smart, but wrong in this instance? Or are the headlines really that far off? And how can a non-nuclear expert in the American mid-West tell the difference?

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