kitchen table math, the sequel: Le Monde on the damaged nuclear power plants

Monday, March 14, 2011

Le Monde on the damaged nuclear power plants

The Times has just this moment posted a story headlined "Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Workers Leave Plant" (the Times sends sound alerts to the iPad -- a couple of nights ago both the Times and Drudge woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me ---- what was it that night? Hosni Mubarak? Colonel Gadahfi? nuclear meltdown? I don't even remember at this point ---- )

Ed's reading Le Monde out loud; Le Monde is saying the Japan situation is worse than Three Mile Island, not as bad as Chernobyl. There's a French blogger on the scene, who says the Japanese government is not giving out very much information.

11 comments:

Catherine Johnson said...

French blogger says it's extremely difficult to know what's going on. It seems there are 3 reactors that present serious problems, but nobody knows how serious those problems are.

Catherine Johnson said...

Evacuation zone is same size as land from bottom to top of Manhattan.

Catherine Johnson said...

The sound alerts from the Times are a whole 'other' way of living your life ----- very strange.

Catherine Johnson said...

Japanese are saying Level 4 accident; French say Level 5.

Catherine Johnson said...

French believe it can't become as bad as Chernobyl because as soon as they felt tremors they shut down the plant.

Allison said...

Look, Chernobyl was a disaster of a different kind--a totally different reactor type, no safety design in the first place, no safety practices planned, no engineering "best practices" in place whatsoever, staff that abandoned their post, party officials who lied to everyone, etc. etc. etc. Their problems were caused by negligence in the first place.

It's very difficult to get good information on what's happening in Japan. It's also difficult to get people to understand what the actual problems are with an uncontrolled plutonium reaction. I'll post more later, but while the situation is very bad for Japan, it's not yet clear if radiation is really the problem. Gamma rays don't travel far in water.

Allison said...

I'm deeply frustrated by the articles I've read, none of which tell me what "radiation" they mean: what are the sources of radiation? Plutonium 233? 239? Plutonium 241? Cesium 137?

Half life here matters: just sitting there, an isotope with a long half life isn't terrible, not even blowing in the wind. Shorter half life means a lot of decay is happening quickly, and that means a lot of energy is being put out.

But the type of decay matters too.If something gives off gamma rays, which can ionize things in your cells, that's bad, but if it gives off alpha particles, which can't, it doesn't matter as long as you don't ingest it. It matters whether it's something like cesium that moves through the environment or not, too.

I can't find nearly anything that tells me the type of reactor, the materials in the reactors, etc. And even then, finding out what is known is still speculative.

But the radiation damage is extremely extremely unlikely to be even remotely like the actual dead from the tsunami.

Integrated Feezer said...

Even Japan is considered as a high-tech country, but no one could ever survive if the environment will attack. It is now time to change. These calamities are the effect of too much damage that men made on the environment. No one would ever suffer but us if we don't make a step for a change.

cranberry said...

You can turn off the alerts feature on the iPhone. I assume you can also turn it off on the iPad, as they're so similar.

Catherine Johnson said...

I like the alerts!

Just got a new one while Chris & I were taking an SAT math section.

Very hard ignoring it---

wholesale cellular accessories said...

I'm so worried now what the world is facing today. Libya is in a great war and Japan had stroked by calamities. What could be the next to be happen? Is this the end of everything?