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    I’m just burnin’ doin’ the neutron dance

    (Susanna and Toren, you’ll like this one.)

    With fantastic timing, another nuclear power plant has developed a water leak. Good thing no one is, like, spooked from any other such recent incident, or anything. And this time it’s not Reuters but the Mainichi that has the misleading headline. It reads, “Nuclear Water Leak Delays Plant Reopening,” which sounds to me like a problem with radioactive water (though would you call that “nuclear water”?). In any case, the article says:

    A water leak found at a nuclear power station has forced Tohoku Electric Power Co. to delay the scheduled reopening of the plant, officials at the firm said.

    The leaked water was not radioactive and there was no chance of radiation leaking outside the plant, officials said.

    These things are important because worries that radioactive water actually will leak from a power plant are more than just theoretical. This past spring (the same day Atsushi and I found out he was being transferred to Kyushu, actually), the Ikata nuclear power plant disgorged one and a half tons of radioactive coolant water in Ehime Prefecture. And then–I can’t believe that in my previous posts on the subject, I forgot to mention this–there’s the fact that TEPCO (the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which as you might guess serves us here in Tokyo) falsified years of inspection reports, including those pertaining to the presence of cracks in its containers and equipment.

    3 Responses to “I’m just burnin’ doin’ the neutron dance”

    1. Toren says:

      It really says something that Japan has a worse nuclear power plant safety record than France and India.
      India fergossakes.
      They really need to clean up the industry, just as the US did after Three Mile Island (number of US nuc plant accidents in the 25 years since TMI: 0).
      The only good thing is that the accidents are not a big problem. No, really. All forms of power generation produce pollution and accidental deaths–all you can do is minimize them. For example, no coal-fired plant could ever pass certification as a nuc plant. They discharge far too much radioactive material (in the form of radon).
      Note that the articles don’t describe the relative radioactivity of the coolant water. That’s because it’s so pathetically small it would make the story sound like a joke. You could, quite literally, drink it with no health effects (except, possibley, positive ones–radiation hormesis is a scientific fact).
      If one puts on a thinking hat and comes up with a Tom Clancy-esque scenario, yes, you can imagine a series of failures that would lead to a release of a dangerous amount of radioactivity. Perhaps as many as a few hundred people would die early deaths from cancer (remember that there were only 31 immediate deaths directly attributable to Chernobyl, the worst possible nuc plant accident imaginable…other than a direct strike by a meteor).
      In the meantime, how many die each year mining and transporting coal, and as a result of pollution from coal-fired power plants? 8000 to 10,000 in the USA alone, according to OSHA.
      Nucs remain the safest form of power ever created, even with the potential for a catastrophic release of radiation…a potential that grows smaller every year as technology improves.
      Don’t get me started on nuclear power…you see how I get! (^_^)

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I know that, except for the Tokaimura accident, nothing that’s happened has really been dangerous. It’s just disquieting because, as you say, it betrays a lack of controls. The article about the Ikata leak does make it plain that nearby meters didn’t pick up any radiation in the surrounding area. It’s darkly funny to read these nuclear industry organization web-based newsletters with links to nuclear events and see that 90% of them, back almost a decade, have been in Japan.

    3. Amritas says:

      What is it about nuclear power that scares people? Because radiation can’t be seen, and people fear the unknown? Then again, it’s not as if lots of people see coal plants right before their eyes, which is why few realize that coal kills (now there’s a sign-ready slogan: COAL KILLS!!).