Archive for Fukushima

World-Wide Electricity Crisis

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Nuclear, Security Council, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , on 26/04/2011 by floroy1942

At 01.00hrs this morning the switches were thrown to shut off the electricity generators prior to taking the nuclear reactor offline at Gundesheim power plant in Eastern Germany. Gundesheim was the last operational nuclear power plant in the world.

Nuclear Electricity Generation By Country – 2008

As a result of the Fukushima nuclear emergency following the earthquake and tsunami, public opinion and daily demonstrations across the globe finally forced nations to come together at the UN. This resulted in Resolution 1992 which demanded all nuclear power plants across the world be shut down within six months. The first country to complete the shutdown was France, followed by India, Pakistan, Brazil the United Kingdom and Spain.

The net result has been a massive 25% drop in power generation across the world. Consequently, cities have been forced to reduce underground rail and tram systems that rely on electricity by 40%, and electric powered train services across the world have been cut by 57%.

Abandoned Subway System:

All electronic or electric advertising signs have been switched off, and a limit of 10Kwh per household per month imposed which necessitated the removal of household appliances such as coffee makers, mixers, high wattage vacuüm cleaners and the like. Gone also is sphere lighting in our homes for we are allowed only one low energy lamp per room.

Production Ceases!

Many of the goods that people have come to rely on like cars, computers and other electronic gadgets are no longer being made because of the drain on power reserves during their manufacture.

In cities across the planet with well known features like Times Square in New York, Tokio centre in Japan and Piccadilly Circus in London have become dark and sombre places after all the electronic hoardings and advertisements were switched off and replaced by the occasional dim street lighting.

Los Angeles in California has become a virtual ghost town after all the lights went out and the casino’s were forced to close their doors in order to conserve energy. The world economy has been turned into chaos, and millions world-wide have lost their jobs due to factory closures caused by the number of ‘non-essential’ goods which may no longer be produced to prevent a final meltdown of the power generating system.

All this has been necessary to ensure sufficient power for essential services, but power cuts are still a daily occurrence in most of the developed world as we are starved of energy.

Anti-Nuclear Protesters

When instigating the plan, the United Nations Leader, Ban Ki-Moon, stated the will of the people could no longer be ignored. After the nuclear incidents at Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, the people of the world became so incensed against the use of nuclear power and its dangers that the question could no longer be ignored.

Anti-Nuclear Demonstrations:

Nuclear Electricity Production – 2008

This is of course fiction, but gives a snapshot of life across the world should we give in to the demands of demonstrators currently voicing their grievances. Rallies in Germany and France last week have shown that many people want to see all nuclear electricity generating plants shut down, sooner rather than later! But those who make such demands do not think past their own ideology and imagine what life without nuclear energy would be like. They are lacking the essential foresight to imagine how we would satisfy our ever-increasing demands for power without it. To quote an old saying: ‘They can’t see the woods for the trees’!

There are currently more than 440 nuclear plants across the world providing in excess of 20% of our energy requirements. It does not seem much when you look at the figures for other sources like coal, but to close down all nuclear plants would be catastrophic for the world economy, business and the people. Some countries are already suffering power shortages as our appetite for energy expands. More and more gadgets in the home, increasing transport requirements and even the introduction of electric cars all take their toll on our energy supplies. We are at the moment locked into a vicious spiral that must burst apart at some time in the future.

The Nuclear Rector – How It Works:

In my opinion, we cannot do without nuclear power, and until some scientific breakthrough is made with something like cold fusion, we are stuck with it. Our efforts would be more usefully channeled into making it safer.

Fukushima – Lessons Learned?

The idea of building a six-reactor plant on the coast in a known earthquake and tsunami area to me was a big mistake, which has been born out by recent events.

Fukshima Accident Explained:

It would have been obvious to me that such things as reactor cooling systems, in their entirety, should have been better protected against the sea. It does not help to protect the reactor core, if the power generators for the cooling pumps are vulnerable. OK! This is all with hindsight, but these are the type of lessons that need to be learned, and measures taken to see it can never happen again. I am sure there are many other safety measures that can be taken to protect a reactor from ‘going critical’ even in an earthquake zone such as Japan.

Typical Nuclear Plant

Perhaps the United Nations should consider gathering the world’s foremost experts in this field and have them inspect every nuclear facility on the planet with a view to increasing safety.

Nuclear power is not a demon, it is a tool in the hands of man that can be controlled and used safely, providing all the necessary safety measures are in place and adhered to. It is only when mistakes are made that things can go wrong, and yes, ‘to err is human’, but with our increasing computer abilities it should not be too difficult to have electronic fool-proof safety measures backing up the operators. We already have plenty I know, but I am sure they could be improved.

2008 Energy Production

There is of course another alternative to placate the demonstrators, and that is a return to coal-fired power stations. But considering we turned to nuclear energy as a relatively clean method of generating power, this seems a retrograde step, and lets not forget the effect it has on our planets atmosphere.

Greenpeace Action Against Coal-Fired Plants:

Nuclear power generation has proven its value when it comes to our atmosphere. It has been calculated that the nuclear energy programme world-wide has prevented 38 billion tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, as opposed to continuing with coal-fired power plants which would have added four times as much. It is also just one-twelfth of the total amount pumped into the air during 160 years of electricity generation using coal, gas and oil.

These people seem to be of the opinion that all our power requirements can be met using wind, solar panels and hydro energy, but the reality is, its impossible!

We Need To Keep The Electrons Flowing

Hydro-energy for example provides us with less than 18% of our needs, while wind energy only contributes approximately 3%. Not all countries have rivers, and how do you provide wind energy across Africa? Are we to cover every free acre of ground on the planet with wind farms? There is little doubt in my mind that we will have to make the best of nuclear power until a scientific breakthrough is made with some other form of energy production.

The Future Of Nuclear Power:

Complaining about it, and demonstrating against it will not solve our energy needs, we just need to use our brains and make it safer for all concerned.

Roy.

Fukushima – A Disaster Waiting In The Wings?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Nuclear, Oceans, Radioactive Waste, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , , , , on 13/04/2011 by floroy1942

Should we be concerned at the latest news of a hike in the severity level at the Fukushima nuclear generating plant to 7, bringing it on a par with Chernobyl?

Chernobyl Reactor Building

We can all remember what happened at the Russian plant, but the experts tell us there is no danger of a repeat. Now that is reassuring news, certainly to the Japanese, and probably for the rest of us too.

The whole episode however leaves me with some questions, most important of which is, why was a nuclear plant built on the coast in an earthquake/tsunami zone? Reactor One was opened in July 1967, and since then another five have been built on the same site.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Noqk78bjE-Q

The Cause Of A Tsunami

It is safe to assume that we did not know as much in 1967 as we do now about earthquakes and the effects, but even so, it seems to me the Japanese were taking a big chance in building such a facility right on the sea shore.

I can well imagine their desire to have a ready supply of water for cooling the reactor, but then surely, better precautions should have been taken to protect the installation against the possibility of a tsunami.

The Tsunami Strikes

History has shown us on many occasions that earthquakes under the sea cause tsunami’s, so it should be obvious, even in 1967, that the site would be prone to just such an event.

I freely admit, I am no nuclear scientist or structural engineer, but it seems to me that building such a plant on the coast at Fukushima, knowing the possibilities, should have received more attention.

The main difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima is that in the former accident the reactor vessel ruptured, releasing large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere, whereas in the latter, this did not happen and the reactor vessel remained intact. Contrary to popular opinion, there is never a chance of a nuclear explosion at a nuclear power plant, even if meltdown does occur.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Z69rtx3YlE0

Fukushima Reactor

Each reactor at the Fukushima plant has a secondary containment vessel which is designed to prevent the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere even in the event of a reactor containment vessel breach. This was not the case at Chernobyl and indeed, very few Russian plants had such a safety facility (lessons learned).

Furthermore, The Chernobyl reactor was ‘fired up’ at the time of the accident while experiments were carried out on the power generators for the emergency cooling system. At Fukushima the reactor shut-down automatically when the earthquake was detected.

Typical Reactor Cooling System Generator

It would seem that the problems began at Fukushima when the various backup cooling pumps, that supply the core with water to keep it from overheating, lost power when the tsunami destroyed the generators supplying the pumps. It would appear that perhaps more protection should have been given to these vital components.

Fukushima Damage

The disaster at Fukushima, though of natural causes, does indicate that more attention must be given to the siting of nuclear power plants, especially in earthquake prone countries around the famous ‘Ring of Fire’ bordering the Pacific. It indicates that all nuclear plants should be inspected to see what improvements can be made to the operating systems when a natural disaster strikes, and most specifcally, protection of the cooling apparatus.

Anyone wishing for a simple straight-forward explanation of the events at Fukushima should visit the following site:

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

Its all well and good for armchair ‘experts’ to give their opinions, and as we all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should hope that some valuable lessons have been learned from this disaster and steps are taken to see such an event is never repeated.

Fukushima Heros

In the meantime, we should not forget the brave men and women who have been working tirelessly to prevent a major disaster at Fukushima at the risk of their own well-being. I salute you!

One thing is sure, we are a long way from doing away with our nuclear power plants despite all the hype that has been generated, for until the scientists come up with something better we are stuck with it. At this moment in time we have no other way of keeping up with the ever increasing demands for power.

Roy. 

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