“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, March 14, 2011

“It’s way past Three Mile Island already,” said Frank von Hippel, a physicist and professor at Princeton.


  1. At the end of a policy meeting on Monday, the Bank of Japan had also announced that it would enlarge an existing program to purchase government and corporate bonds from 5 trillion yen to 10 trillion yen.

    “The damage of the earthquake has been geographically widespread,” the central bank said in a statement accompanying its decision, adding that the asset purchase extension was done “with a view to pre-empting a deterioration in business sentiment and an increase in risk aversion in financial markets from adversely affecting economic activity.”

    The steps were “very appropriate in terms of dealing with the short-term impact” of the disaster, said Stephen Schwartz, an economist with the Spanish bank BBVA in Hong Kong. “It will take a long time until we can really quantify the fallout on the overall economy, but what is clear is that they are going to have to set aside fiscal consolidation plans for the moment.”

    Worries Over Radiation

  2. Mr. Gundersen said that when he worked at the Vermont Yankee plant, which is nearly identical to some of the crippled Japanese reactors, he had one maintenance task where the “stay time,” in which workers would be exposed to their yearly limit, was three minutes.

    He hired local farmers, trained them on a mock-up for two weeks, and then sent them in for their brief stint. “Then I’d send them home for a year,” he said.


    I volunteered Rufus, and he's on his way.

    Bon Voyage, Comrade!

  3. Winddon'tglowRufusTue Mar 15, 01:56:00 AM EDT

    Do you suppose the "Republican" voters will ever quit blindly believing everything the Fossil Fuel, and Uranium guys tell them?


  4. 83. blert
    The plant operators must be related to Homer Simpson.

    The perfect is the enemy of the good…

    ALL of their troubles revolve around trying to keep a ‘lid’ on the pressure vessel so as to maintain a zero emissions posture.

    That was a terrible mistake.

    The tactic should always be to lower the pressure. They’ve still got the turbine circuit as a mechanism for dumping steam. Even if salt water is injected only steam will reach the turbine set. At the power level now available one would expect the turbine to barely move. The key thing is to permit the steam to condense/ become dead steam. The excitation field of the synchronous alternator would be left de-energized.

    The drop in pressure would permit even fire engines to flood the reactor — using sea water if necessary.

    Pumping against 100 atmospheres of pressure takes medium voltage high performance pumps. Most emergency power plants are limited to 600V, usually less. ( 480V )

    The voltage difference is the reason that the ‘plugs don’t match.’


    The only explanation for the failures is too much pressure in the core — which has been permitted by the operators who have failed to kill the steam via the turbine set.

    What a goof.

  5. 87. blert
    In the hour between the tremors and the tsunami the operators should have gone all out to lower the pressure and temperature in the reactor.

    With fission terminated the only energy of concern is daughter product decay. This heat is a known quantity and you can bet your last dollar that the operator knows what it is. It follows a time-decay curve.

    The first order of business was to lower the pressure — in stages — so that the energy can be bled off.

    By NOT reducing the pressure in the early moments they’ve backed themselves into a corner.

    I still don’t understand why they are not venting steam into the turbine circuit.

    In any event, no outside improvised equipment can pump a single liter into the reactor against 100 atmospheres of back pressure.

    None of the troubles we are now facing would exist if the pressure were low enough to inject water.

    Instead, we have a situation whereby the operators are creating a super scale boiler explosion.

    That’s what Krakatoa was — a steam explosion. It was more powerful than atomics by many orders of magnitude. Krakatoa was heard in Africa! No nuke ever came close to that level of power.

    A steam explosion must be prevented at all costs. The turbine circuit is just sitting there waiting to bleed energy.

  6. A commentor said: "I'm not against Nuclear Power; I'm just against Humans practicing it."

  7. There's gonna be some "hari-karyin'" goin' on.

  8. "Hello again, everybody.
    It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball.

  9. Spent Fuel Pools

    A 1997 study by the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island described a worst-case disaster from uncovered spent fuel in a reactor cooling pool. It estimated 100 quick deaths would occur within a range of 500 miles and 138,000 eventual deaths.

    The study also found that land over 2,170 miles would be contaminated and damages would hit $546 billion.

    That section of the Brookhaven study focused on boiling water reactors — the kind at the heart of the Japanese crisis.

    The threat is considered so severe that at the start of the crisis Friday, immediately after the shattering earthquake, Fukushima plant officials focused their attention on a damaged storage pool for spent nuclear fuel at the No. 2 reactor at Daiichi, said a nuclear executive who requested anonymity because his company is not involved in the emergency response at the reactors and is wary of antagonizing other companies in the industry.

    The damage prompted the plant’s management to divert much of the attention and pumping capacity to that pool, the executive added. The shutdown of the other reactors then proceeded badly, and problems began to cascade.

    Mr. Shiomi of Tokyo Electric said that in addition to the power and cooling failures, some water had spilled from the pools.

    But he said that the company thought there “was relatively little danger that temperatures would rise.”

  10. "Booze, broads, and bullshit.
    If you got all that, what else do you need?

  11. "Drinking beer doesn't make you fat, It makes you lean...

    Against bars, tables, chairs, and poles.

  12. I had no idea GE put the spent fuel on top of the reactor!

    Westinghouse had a separate swimming pool, as I recall.

    Needless to say, they stacked shit and waited for trouble.

    30 years later...

  13. Wouldn't those pools in the tin shack on top of the reactor also be quite vulnerable to a Muslim Kamikaze attack?

    While checking on the Westinghouse setup at Diablo Canyon, I was reminded of this strange but true story:

    Resalinization Pools @ Diablo Canyon

    apraxis said...

    "This is actually Diablo canyon NPP mark-II. The reason it took so long to build wasn’t to do seismic studies-they knew all along they were building it on a fault line.

    The reason is that, when the original was 99% completed, just days before they were going to flip the switch to light the fires, someone noticed that, due to a printing error no one caught, all the pipes and all the electrical systems were installed BACKWARDS!!!

    The whole damn thing had to be taken apart and re-assembled correctly.
    Ah yes, I like the sound of that…Wil E. Coyote, Super Genius


    Well, not exactly, but they did have to do an extensive retrofit of seismic support brackets, and etc.

    Forget how long that took/at what cost

  14. .

    Don't know much about nuclear energy other than the fact that we haven't built a new reactor since Three Mile Island. That was 30 years ago. That's a good and bad thing.

    Excellant, almost perfect, safety record but the facilities are aging beyond their design life. Can they be beefed up to assure safety?

    We have been using nuclear energy in this country for decades, domestically and in the navy, with no loss of life. There weren't even any injuries reported from Three Mile Island.

    Nuclear suppies 20% of our energy needs, 70% of our clean energy production. Where would we be without it?

    At this point, I would have to say the lesson is that everything in life carries risk.

    (Of course, that all discounts the possibility that we might have a nuclear cloud heading for us in the near future.)


  15. The simple addition of an earthquake proof backup water source would have mitigated most of their problems thusfar.

    Hard to believe lack of sufficient water might result in a massive catastrophe.

  16. Opposition to Nuclear Power in California

    "Just as the protest was ending after three weeks of daily actions, a newly hired 25 year old engineer discovered that PG&E had reversed the blue-prints of the seismic supports and had thus installed them backwards on both reactors!!!

    The NRC in embarrassment, pulled the utility's brand new operating license. After several more scandals including one where PG&E was caught doctoring up the final report on the problems at the facility, the NRC forced them to do a massive redesign and rebuild program.

    The Bechtel Corp., the largest nuclear engineering firm in the world and employer of ex-DoD boss Weinberger and Sec. of State Schultz, were then called in by PG&E to finish Diablo in 1982.

    Bechtel, by no means infallable, had perforned a similar goof to PG&E's blue-print reversals at the San Onofre facility, when they installed two reactor vessels backwards, so they of course had plenty of experience in dealing with this kind of problem.

    By 1984 they had found over 6,000 construction errors which left the total construction costs for Diablo at over $5.8 billion."

  17. Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film

    OXFORD, England — Peering at the post-tsunami devastation in Japan on miniature YouTube windows or video-streaming displays from Japanese news outlets provokes not only great empathy and concern, but an unmistakable feeling of déjà vu.

    As a scholar focusing on the place of nuclear energy in Japanese culture, I’ve seen more than my share of nuclear-themed monster movies from the ’50s onward, and the scenes of burning refineries, flattened cities, mobilized rescue teams and fleeing civilians recall some surreal highlights of the Japanese disaster film genre.

    This B-movie fare is widely mocked, often for good reason. But the early “Godzilla” films were earnest and hard-hitting. They were stridently anti-nuclear:
    the monster emerged after an atomic explosion. They were also anti-war in a country coming to grips with the consequences of World War II.

    As the great saurian beast emerges from Tokyo Bay to lay waste to the capital in 1954’s “Gojira” (“Godzilla”), the resulting explosions, dead bodies and flood of refugees evoked dire scenes from the final days of the war, images still seared in the memories of Japanese viewers. Far from the heavily edited and jingoistic, shoot’em-up, stomp’em-down flick that moviegoers saw in the United States, Japanese audiences reportedly watched “Gojira” in somber silence, broken by periodic weeping.

  18. The long string of occasionally fatal nuclear mismanagement lapses over the past few decades in a nation famed worldwide for manufacturing quality control and high-tech achievement is troubling and almost incomprehensible, to say the least. Part of this story is distinctly Japanese, as lack of transparency, insufficient inspection regimes and a sometimes paralyzing inability to make imperfect but practical decisions can leave an industry vulnerable to the sort of dangerous situations that confront the Fukushima reactors.

    The Cruise Ship and the Ferryboat

    Bad time to be in stocks.

    What's next? Caifornia, Oregon or Washington?

    Three of the fours corners gone. Chile, New Zealand, Japan -- what's next -- Juan de Fuca?

  20. The earth moved, causing massive flooding and property loss, in Japan.

    A nuclear power plant, a nest of four reactors, is in dire straits.

    Either due to mismanagement, human error or the distinct risks that nuclear energy present. Perhaps some combination of the fore mentioned.

  21. Four corners?

    It is called the Ring of Fire, not the Rectangle of Flame.

    While leaving out the Christmas quake/tsunami event that caused the loss of over 250,000 lives on the far side of the whirled.

  22. Bloomberg - Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency as a second contingent of forces from Gulf states poured into the kingdom to support its government following persistent protests.

    King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa asked the head of the military to guarantee security across the country, state television said. A Saudi soldier was shot dead by protesters, the Associated Press reported today, citing an unidentified official.

    Troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, moved into Bahrain yesterday, the first cross-border intervention since a wave of popular uprisings swept through parts of the Arab world.

  23. Saudi Arabia’s Shiites, who make up about 10 to 15 percent of the population, have been holding protests every Thursday and Friday for the past few weeks in towns and villages a short drive from the Bahrain causeway connecting the two countries. Saudi Shiites have demanded the release of Shiite prisoners held without public trial since 1996.

    The U.S. State Department urged citizens to defer travel to Bahrain and advised those in the island kingdom to “consider departing,” the State Department said in an e-mailed statement.

    The U.S. is urging Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, to allow nonviolent protests and encouraging Gulf nations to use restraint, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

  24. I have invitation to golf game and kung pao fried chicken with most beautiful Michelle and relax and forget about mutual unfortunate nuisance style of events.

    My good friend Barack is most cool at being a cucumber and can play golf almost as well being president; he can play because he is most caring and can play 18 holes of golf because that's what he do best! Number one.

  25. PRESIDENT OBAMA is taping his NCAA picks today, and they’ll be revealed tomorrow on ESPN. … NATE SILVER’s March Madness bracket ... At 11:25 a.m., Obama will tape interviews from the Map Room with KOAT Albuquerque, KDKA Pittsburgh and WVEC Hampton Roads on education reform and the need to fix No Child Left Behind.

  26. '' Barack is most cool at being a cucumber"

  27. BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A regional showdown over Bahrain is exacerbating the split between Iraqi Shi'ites and Sunnis, who see the machinations of their neighbors through the lens of the sectarian divide that led to years of war in Iraq.

  28. Quirk: (Of course, that all discounts the possibility that we might have a nuclear cloud heading for us in the near future.)

    If it does, I'm sure the President will take time away from watching college hoops to hold a press conference assuring us he's looking for asses to kick.

  29. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marines are steadily Going Solar.

  30. Corners and Circles, Fires of Hell:

    The largest earthquakes occur where plates converge. Stress builds up, and from time to time is released by large earthquakes like this one.

    Earthquakes roughly comparable in size to Friday’s have occurred four other times in the past 100 years: 1952 off Kamchatka, Russia; 1960 off Chile; 1964 off Alaska; and 2004 off Sumatra, Indonesia.

    Unfortunately, predicting the specific time, place, and size of particular large earthquakes is impossible at present, and is probably inherently impossible.

  31. Scientists studying the soil in that Bay estimate that they get one of these 9.0 earthquake/thirty foot tsunami events about every 200 years.

    In other words, when this plant was built there was an approx. 1 in 4 chance that this would happen in its lifetime.

  32. ...and if they had not extended it's lifetime, it would have been shut down for this Megaquake.

  33. .

    In the words of that great philospher Billy Idol:

    "There is nothin' fair in this world
    There is nothin' safe in this world
    And there's nothin' sure in this world
    And there's nothin' pure in this world
    Look for something left in this world
    Start again"

    White Wedding


  34. One EMP burst over Kansas City by, oh, say, Ahmedinejad, and all the US plants go tits up too. Cooling water needs to be pumped with electricity, it seems.

  35. .

    One EMP burst over Kansas City by, oh, say, Ahmedinejad,..



  36. I am back from meeting the diamond with a flaw which is known to be worth more than a pebble without imperfections.

    My friend had good good golf and discussions and cooperation along with the excellent chicken from Michelle. She was festive in red dress and nice new hadbag.

    Obama massive feat in our forlorn political clime broke 90, his wife, Michelle is also doing the magic swing , swaying the massive form to swing the electorate to her husband’s side. Her constituency is the womenfolk. It would appear that until Michelle came on the scene as First Lady, many people had failed to see the enormous power that resides in women big as deciding factor in most electoral contests. Women are known to constitute the highest category of voters to her husband’s advantage.

    Be the first to the field and the last to the couch. i have to go now.

  37. Top 3 most expensive natural disasters:

    1. Sichuan earthquake, China, 2008

    Cost $147bn

    2. Great Hanshin Earthquake, Japan, 1995

    Cost $144bn

    3. Hurricane Katrina, US, 2005

    Cost $137bn

    Natural Disasters

  38. Man sitting in the pub with his wife and he said "I love you"

    She said "Is that you or the beer talking?"
    He replied "It's me... talking to the beer"

  39. The primary containment building, with its massive steel and concrete walls, is housed with various ducts, electrical equipment and other gear inside a bigger building, the secondary containment building. Explosions at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 blew the roofs off those reactors’ secondary containment buildings, which are not designed to contain hydrogen explosions, unlike primary containment buildings.

    The storage pool blast at reactor No. 4 also appears to have ripped a hole in a secondary containment building, based on initial descriptions from Japanese officials.

    A senior nuclear industry executive who insisted on anonymity said that a compromised suppression pool made it much harder to bleed high-pressure steam from an overheating nuclear reactor so as to pump more seawater into it.

    Cooling Fuel

  40. Russian nuclear scientist, who was in charge of Chernobyl's cleanup, slam's Japan's handling of nuclear disasters. Because if anyone's an expert on handling nuclear disasters properly, it's the guy from Chernobyl.

  41. .

    AJDABIYA, Libya — Behind tanks, heavy artillery and airstrikes, forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi routed on Tuesday a ragtag army of insurgents and would-be revolutionaries who were holding the last defensive line before the rebel capital of Benghazi.

    Blasts of incoming fire came every few seconds at the edge of this city straddling a strategic highway intersection where rebels have bulldozed berms and filled hundreds of sandbags around two metal green arches marking the western approaches to the city. As the shelling intensified on Tuesday, hundreds of cars packed with children, mattresses, suitcases — anything that could be grabbed and packed in — careened through the streets as residents fled. Long lines of cars could be seen on the highway heading north to the Benghazi, about 100 miles away.

    The battle was strategically critical, in that Ajdabiya controls access to the highways that would permit loyalist forces to encircle and besiege Benghazi in a campaign for cities whose names evoke the World War II battles of Rommel and Montgomery.

    Another Rebel City Falls


  42. .

    Saudi Arabia’s Shiites, who make up about 10 to 15 percent of the population, have been holding protests every Thursday and Friday for the past few weeks in towns and villages a short drive from the Bahrain causeway connecting the two countries...

    Some argued that the Shia blew this go round by starting to demonstrate early, often, and independently of other dissidents in SA thus allowing the Sauds to play the sectarian card and portray the Shia as agents of Iran.


  43. A coalition of seven Shiite-led opposition factions pledged to demand a UN investigation into the Gulf leaders’ decision to send in the special force for an internal conflict.

    Bahrain’s leaders did not immediately comment, but they have expressed increasing frustration that opposition groups have not accepted offers to open dialogue aimed at resolving the crisis.

    The main Shiite opposition groups have called for the Sunni rulers to give up most of their powers to the elected parliament. But, as violence has deepened, many protesters now say they want to topple the entire royal family.

    Entering Bahrain

  44. amid all the destruction and debris, Japanese are still putting stuff in the three recycling bins.

  45. Handsome Hu!

    How are the wolves in Montaner? I see your governor gave the old wink and nod. Here the county
    Sheriff raffled off a wolf rifle and shovel, a real wink and nod.

    Folks here are going for the poison 1080, and .243s with night scopes and silencers. And pound dogs for bait. Works like a charm.

    I'll be fishing the four rivers of Paradise this late fall, on my list of to do things to do for I go.

    Hope you are still excercising, keep in shape for the little lady.

  46. Also Tuesday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that his department was dispatching a team of 34 experts and 17,000 pounds of equipment to help with the crisis. The team also will help the Obama administration decide what to tell Americans in Japan and at home about the crisis, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

    In response to questions about whether Japanese officials were providing complete information, Carney said American teams on the ground will make independent assessments of the situation.

    When the teams arrive, they will find plenty of work to do. The plant’s reactor cores take about two weeks to lose half of their intense heat, Gundersen said, meaning that the battle between the radioactive cores and Fukushima Daiichi’s badly damaged cooling system will play out for days or weeks to come.

  47. Boric acid contains boron, which helps slow nuclear reactions by absorbing neutrons, but at the same acid it also melts away steel when used repeatedly.

    Radiation levels in areas around the nuclear plant rose early Tuesday afternoon but appeared to subside by evening, officials said.

    Tens of thousands have already been evacuated from within a radius of 20 kilometres of the 40-year-old plant, and people living within 10 kilometres of that zone have been urged to stay indoors.

    Acid On Reactors

  48. A US official said visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal from Cairo, where she was on the first leg of a North African tour, to express her deep concern about the violence and potential for escalation.


    The European Union urged "utmost restraint" and called on Bahrain's security forces to respect "fundamental freedoms including the right to assemble freely and peacefully," a spokeswoman said.

    A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said "governments should respond to calls for change with reform, not repression."

    Bahrain Protest

  49. An Australian scientist has dismissed fears of radiation risk from the spread of dangerous materials at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, saying the particles being released are short-lived ones that die within seconds.


    In the European Parliament in Brussels, Europe's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the nuclear crisis was an "apocalypse" and that Tokyo had almost lost control of events at the plant.


    Dr Jim Smith of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth, said the key issue was public panic, not radiation risk.

    Radiation Risk