"China has labelled [this] a selfish and highly irresponsible action,"
Yeah, and China knows all about those actions.
Japan last week commenced the release of water from the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, and the neighbors aren't pleased. Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno today complained of harassment from China – incidents characterized by local press as over 200 phone calls to restaurants, hotels, local governments and even …
There's a 2-year old one, that says things have indeed changed:
"The Philippines accounts for more than one-third (36%) of plastic inputs – unsurprising given the fact that it’s home to seven of the top ten rivers. This is because the Philippines consists of many small islands where the majority of the population lives near the coast. But it’s an important update on our previous understanding of where China and India were thought to dominate. India accounts for 13%, and China for 7%."
Interesting stuff. Thanks for the link.
You can't add the Yangtze river to the graph so I do find it a little odd that it has gone from number one by, supposedly, a large margin to not even top 50. If it was the source of 55% of the plastic you should be able to walk across it without getting your feet wet :)
There was a huge drive a few years back by the Chinese government to stop the use of single-use plastic bags. Those truly ubiquitous, and the term "single-use" is barely enough to describe how thin and fragile they were. A finger could go through without pushing (so of course, they would put your things in more than one in shops, so it's not even possible to argue that thinness meant less plastic). You would not be able to walk on them, unfortunately, but they certainly flew off and ended up in rivers.
The situation is still far from perfect, of course, When I was there recently, I heard some local government tried to have people sort their trash by type but failed, because they didn't get the idea.
Good on them if they have really managed to cut the plastic in the rivers by that much. You'd imagine it being a nightmare for shipping if it gets sucked into cooling systems.
Now if only the UK can stop dumping poop into the rivers...
"Faith in Japanese authorities may be hard to sustain given they allowed construction of a nuclear plant by the sea, in an earthquake-prone country, and gave it redundancy rigs that did not survive a foreseeable combination of events."
You build it close to the sea because of the cooling required.
The redundacy rigs didn't survive a tsunami resulting from a double earthquake which moved japan a few metres east and half a metre down. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan.
The tsunami overwhelmed the (now lowered by the earthquake) defenses - and destroyed the pumps which cooled the generators - as well as external connections.
To call it forseeable is trivial in hindsight.
Ran out of edit time...
The second part is that to fail to apply lessons learnt in this and other locations worldwide would be very silly indeed.
And the third part is that TEPCO, and the Japanese authorities, should have thought more after the '99 flooding in France, and after the '02 revision of tsunami safety methodology.
- Had they considered more waterproofing, or higher elevation, for the cooling pumps etc, then this discussion might not be taking place - but note that the tsunami was still twice as high as even the updated methodology suggested.
You are missing one very important detail....
It was not only foreseeable that the plant would have to deal with a tsunami, it was actually foreseen.
"note that the tsunami was still twice as high as even the updated methodology suggested."
No, that was the modelling that Tepco published to justify locating it's plant equipment where it did, and they stuck to that even after stronger earthquakes were registered. They ignored newer models of potential tsunamis done by it's own scientists, based on which the generators and pumps should have been located on the roof of the building (or in any case at a higher level). Instead, they used the old model which predicted a lower maximum possible tsunami height, based on which they claimed that the plant was safe. (and of course, probably saving themselves millions in potential equipment relocation costs)
And the Japanese regulator allowed them to make that call themselves, instead of doing the proper calculations themselves. I guess it was just cheaper to install the equipment lower down.
It was very much a case of the swiss cheese model. In addition the GE Mk1 was known to be vulnerable to earthquakes as the cooling pipework is basically the main support for the pressure vessel and there were some basic lessons learned from three mile island that were never made mandatory, such as hydrogen recombiners.
I could be wrong, but wasn't the single biggest lesson from Three Mile Island to have control room indicators that mimicked the ACTUAL position of valves rather than the "commanded postiion", i.e. the position they were SUPPOSED to be in?
Many mistakes were made because they failed to realise what was actually going on due to control room indicators showing valves were closed when they were actually open.
It is an interesting case study of human factors. There was an indicator showing the temperature of the pressure relief outlet BUT it was not on the primary display panel and no-one thought to check as 'there is no way the valve could not be stuck open!'. Added to the fact the valve had actually been leaking since pretty much day one so high readings on the outlet temp were 'the norm' so were disregarded.
The final nail was the people running the place were ex navy and had been trained on really small reactors and the way you run them is very different to really big reactors. They were obsessed with the water level in the pressuriser as in the naval reactors that normally also indicates water level in main pressure vessel. I think the term is situational fixation or something like that. A plane crashed due to the entire flight deck crew trying to decide if an indicator bulb was faulty OR one of the landing gear legs wasn't locked down. They forgot to keep flying and hit the ground.
While many would blame nature for last year’s Fukushima nuclear accident, a Japanese parliamentary committee report has concluded that culpability really lies with Homo sapiens.
After 900 hours of hearings and 1100 interviews over a six-month period, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission – chaired by Kiyoshi Kurokawa, an academic fellow at Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies – said that the accident was “a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented”.
Hindering that process were a lack of regulations as well as “a collusion between the government, the [nuclear] regulators and [plant operator] Tepco and the lack of governance by said parties“, Kurokawa’s panel said in an English-language summary.
"and destroyed the pumps which cooled the generators"
Uhhhmm, no, not quite. The reactor cooling pumps were mostly fine and could be run once (external) power was restored, in fact they're still running now. The tsunami flooded the backup diesel generators that were located in basements below sea level and destroyed the external power supply to the station. This meant a full station blackout. For a while the backup (independent, steam driven) cooling systems were sufficient to keep the reactors cool but after a while they started having trouble keeping water levels in check due to quake and tsunami damage causing leaks. Water injection through the normal high pressure pumps couldn't be done due to lack of power. Disaster could have been averted if it hadn't been for an aftershock destroying the backup generators hooked up to the main distribution board. At that point their only option was venting the reactors and using low pressure (relatively) pumps from fire trucks to inject (sea) water into the reactor.
The amount of tritium released into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima is much less than one percent of the amount produced naturally every year in the atmosphere by cosmic rays:
Perhaps people should be protesting about the Milky Way.
Surprising anyway that China should grumble about a batch of tritium being released into the Pacific after ten years of storage when over the same period they themselves seem quietly to have released at least as much from their facilities at Fuqing and Sanmen - into the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea repectively:
Talk about teapots calling kettles!
> The amount of tritium released into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima is much less than one percent of the amount produced naturally every year in the atmosphere by cosmic rays:
> Perhaps people should be protesting about the Milky Way.
One year of global production compared with a single location probably relatively short duration - so the concentrations will be substantially higher... but just because we can measure something doesn't make it significant.
The post I was replying to used the past tense of discharged, implying that they had already discharged that much - if it's over 30 years then it's less significant, but still probably higher than the naturally generated concentrations (which also are several kilometres above the sea, not under it).
To be honest it doesn't make a blind bit of difference, just because something can be measured - that doesn't mean it's significant.
"Faith in Japanese authorities may be hard to sustain given they allowed construction of a nuclear plant by the sea, in an earthquake-prone country, and gave it redundancy rigs that did not survive a foreseeable combination of events"
Ummm. First part, next to the sea is a very good place to build nuclear plants. Look at where all the UK's are.
But the second bit, yes, the problem with that one was the engineers allowed for a once-in-a-hundred-years sort of earthquake and tsunami, when they should have allowed for a once in a thousand years event. There was another nuclear power complex a few miles away where the engineers built adequate earthquake/tsunami defences, which explains why I can't remember what it's called
I wouldn't call a plant that ran on only it's RCIC system for several days as over 2000 personnel worked nearly round the clock to restore power and functionality to other plant systems and bring the reactors to a controlled cold shutdown state "fine" to be honest. (good enough summary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daini_Nuclear_Power_Plant#2011%20earthquake%20and%20tsunami)
Daini was saved by the flood wave leaving a single mains line connected to the plant. If that had gone too, Daiichi might well have been even worse than Daini (since they had 4 running reactors to deal with while Daiichi unit 4 was in cold shutdown for refueling, so only had 3 running reactors).
A better remembrance, and comparison here, is an unwelcome release of highly radioactive 'gas' but was tempered and reduced from absolute disaster by an originally-mocked addition to the design.
The addition was "Cockcroft's Folly" filters, and the event was Windscale.
Which goes to show that if TEPCO had heeded both expert opinions and history, [we / they] wouldn't be in this situation right now. They knew the risks of keeping the generators in the basement but did nothing, as nothing was easier and cheaper; "Cockcroft's Folly". But whilst [a] British engineer[s] at least well considered the risks of failure, TEPCO (as usual) couldn't care as long as profits were high.
The rest is history.
You are of course welcome! It has been opined, in at least one story regarding the accident, that if the filters had not been there the Lake district and Cumbria today would be a radioactive toxic wasteland, off limits in the same manner as the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Of course the problem with that is that the UK Lake district & Cumbria have a vast population compared to Pripyat and its surrounding forests; it would have truly been a nuclear disaster of [then] unprecedented proportions.
Sir Cockcroft was given a Nobel prize for his work in nuclear sciences plus numerous awards of merit and knighthoods; I think the accolades were well founded all things considering!
The Windscale pile fire was bad and would have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the filters and the efforts of the staff to control the fire. But comparison to Chernobyl is not valid. The Windscale fire involved only a small section of the core and was brought under control within days. Some chunks did actually escape as the filters were not perfect and some chunks were located and recovered by teams with detectors. Most of what escaped was vapour and that is hard to contain. Quite a bit of the escaped elements condensed in the tower which is why it is taking so long to demolish it.
Chernobyl was an uncontrollable and completely uncontained fire of the entire core. Many tens, if not hundreds, of tonnes of fuel was burning. Estimates are that about 6 tonnes of the total fuel in the reactor was released into the air during the fire. The Windscale release was measured in kg.
I'd say Windscale was not even as bad as the fallout from all the Nevada testing. The cases of odd cancers in Utah and other states to the east are a result of that.
Well, according to the BBC article
Windscale's severity and impact were downplayed in a political move to get the Americans to agree to share nuclear secrets; an admittance of an almost-disaster at the UK's only working nuclear plant would have given the American's cold feet about sharing even more scientific data.
Yes, Chernobyl is far worse the Windscale is a smaller version of it, a graphite moderator fire open to the environment. The only thing that saved the British countryside from sharing the same (yes, lower) effects were the filters; again, my point was population impact, and the UK countryside surrounding Sellafield is far more densely populated compared to the area around Pripyat, meaning a greater impact even though the overall measurement of square kilometers of impact zone would have been less.
If Chernobyl had happened in an area just outside Kyiv - ouch. This is the reason why Three Mile Island is considered rather high on the INES (5), even though very little was released; why Shoreham was completely halted even at the very last minute; and why Indian Point was a constant source of nervousness and contention - all are way too close to population centers for [modern] comfort. Nuclear power was sold as, and thought, to be "safe", but then events started happening and people...reconsidered.
The beeb are very much anti-nuclear so take their story with a pinch of salt. The two are still very different in scale by a factor of 4000-5000x. There is no way Windscale could have ended as badly as Chernobyl as they were defueling the reactor around the fire very soon after discovery.
TMI is much lower as only some iodine and xenon escaped the containment. No metallics were released such as caesium or strontium.
Part of the reason the UK govt didn't want to fess up to the yanks was that they'd warned us an air cooled graphite moderated reactor was a really stupid idea and we'd done it anyway.
They seem to only ever mention the Tritium. Which suggests to me it is the Carbon-14 that is the most damaging. 2% over regulatory standards. So 102%.
My question is, how often do other radioactive releases reach near to 100% of these maximum standards? Are they quite high bars to reach already?
You have some logical problems. One is reading "2% of" as 102%, when it actually means 2%. The other is assuming that, if people are complaining about one thing being dangerous, then the one that is actually dangerous must be the one they're not complaining about. People tend to complain about the things they think are worse. Neither is dangerous, and this should be obvious, but they're not focusing on the carbon because it's really quite safe and there's plenty of it all over the place, including in your body, right now. There is, in fact, plenty more in your body depending on your age because when we were doing atmospheric nuclear testing, we put a lot more of it up there. It's not the only thing we put up there, which is why we should not do any more atmospheric testing, in fact we can just not do any testing, but the carbon wasn't the dangerous part of that pollution.
"There is, in fact, plenty more in your body depending on your
age weight because when we were doing atmospheric nuclear testing, we put a lot more of it up there."
With a half live over 5k very little of it will have decayed so it's still in circulation. However the more carbon you have the more C14 you have.
IIRC C14 provides about 12 disintegrations per minute per gram of carbon in your body (or in any other biological material).
Not really as the carbon 14 absorbed into things that gets used for the dating is usually absorbed initially as carbon dioxide from the air and this is going into the water. It may eventually end up in the air but not all at once.
The rampant testing of nuclear bombs in the 50s and 60s has doubled the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere so this is nothing in comparison.
No, Carbon dating is useless for anything that died since 1945 as the release of C14 into the atmosphere by all the nukes detonated in the atmosphere have totally screwed it's usefulness. This is why some companies are taking steel and other metals from older shipwrecks for use in building certain instrumentation as it has a WAY lower C14 content than new steel.
As for the nutters throwing their toys out of the pram over this,... there are far worse environmental releases going on all over the world so perhaps they could highlight those rather than crying about what is effectively water being released into water.
"taking steel and other metals from older shipwrecks for use in building certain instrumentation"
This used to be true. Kinda. Sorta. Ish.
They did make "isolation rooms" out of scrap pieces of steel armor plate salvaged from pre-Bomb warships, yes. This was to minimize background radiation when measuring exposure of various folks for various reasons. But that was then, this is now. Today, they just use normal metals & correct for instrumentation error. Computers are kind of handy when it comes to that sort of thing.
One other bit of marine salvage that I am aware of ... SLAC, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore all have lead shielding that was salvaged from centuries old ship's ballast. Most of the stories included pirates of the Caribbean; some included lurid tales of how the ship was sunk. Allegedly this was because of the old lead's lack of man-made radiation, which would skew the data. Again, modern computers make this kind of thing pointless ... One of my older mentors wrecked the romantic stories by telling us that the real reason they used it was because it was the cheapest lead they could get their hands on at the time.
"Again, modern computers make this kind of thing pointless"
Not really. You still need a measurement of background to subtract from the counts.
In the Belfast C14 dating lab the methane counter was in a pit with some old steel sheets above that and concrete paving slabs (not reinforced) sitting on top of the steel and forming the floor of an office. Eventually the office was repurposed to house the scintillation counter for the benzene system. The methane counter was 1.5 litre, a much bigger target for cosmic rays then the few mls of benzene in a vial so the scintillation counter didn't need that shielding. The problem with the scintillation counter was K40 in the vials. The vials had to be individually calibrated for background.
Salvage of steel from shipwrecks is unfortunately definitely still a thing. Most shipwrecks in the Java sea have been either partially or completely scavenged by illegal salvage operations. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/16/british-second-world-war-ships-illegal-scavenging-java-sea) Whether or not this is specifically about low background steel is unknown (because it's illegal salvage, nobody is keeping track of where it ends up) but I've seen calculations that economically it wouldn't have made sense to salvage these wrecks at the time for just "normal" scrap steel prices.
"Whether or not this is specifically about low background steel is unknown"
It's not, it's about bulk scrap steel.
"(because it's illegal salvage, nobody is keeping track of where it ends up)".
It's winding up at places that use a lot of steel, mostly China, South Korea and Japan.
"but I've seen calculations that economically it wouldn't have made sense to salvage these wrecks at the time for just "normal" scrap steel prices."
Not here in the West, no. But once you can ignore little things like taxes, insurance, shareholders, minimum wage, minimum age, working hours, unions, government safety checks, pollution and the like (and the office buildings full of staff to handle the paperwork for the above) it becomes surprisingly lucrative.
"No, Carbon dating is useless for anything that died since 1945 as the release of C14 into the atmosphere by all the nukes detonated in the atmosphere have totally screwed it's usefulness."
On the contrary... Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 years, so it is anyway not very precise to date anything (normally speaking a few decades precision). That makes it very useful for anything between a few centuries to many millennia old. For anything less than a century old, there are other ways to reliably date with better precision. Ironically though, the increase of C-14 in the atmosphere from nuclear tests is a known quantity, and therefore means that carbon dating CAN be usefully used to test if organic material dates pre-1945, between 1945 and 1960-something (when nuclear test ban was enacted), or post 1960-something, with greater precision than would be the case than if no nuclear bombs were ever detonated in the atmosphere.
The precision depends largely on how long you're prepared to count* sample, background** and standard.*** The possibility of fractionation - changes in isotope rations between photosynthesis and the preparation of the sample for counting - meant that C12/C13 ratios were measured by MS and that precision of that measurement had to be factored in to the overall calculation. Somewhere I probably still have a listing of my program to calculate all this.
However the calculation of calendric dates assumes that the C12/C14 ratio in the atmosphere remained constant. It didn't. Practice now seems to be to use "calibrated" dates corrected by dendro/C14 measurements. At best the calibration curve carries the error bars due to the precision of the C14 measurements used to construct it and this widens the precision of the calibrated date. Even worse, the non-linearities of the calibration curve can widen them much worse for certain dates. This, unfortunately buggers up the answer to a fairly basic question: are these two dates different? In essence that means: do the net counting rates differ? It may well be the case that a calculation on the bare dates would have shown that they do but the extra baggage of calibrated dates could hide that.
* I'm harking back to the days of measuring radiometrically. Since my day mass-spectrometry came to be used for the actual C12/C14 measurement. I'm so long out of that I've no idea what the present day practice or mix of practices is.
** i.e. the background due to cosmic rays and any emissions from the equipment. It's done by filling the counting chamber with inert methane, benzene or whatever.
*** Back in the day this was - maybe still is - a sample of oxalic acid distributed by the US NBS. 95% of this was supposed to correspond to "present" which was set at 1950. Why oxalic acid was chosen I have no idea. It was inconvenient, at least for us and I suspect for most if not all labs. We started by charring any sample that wasn't already carbonised to prevent getting tar from one sample deposited in the pipework and then getting into later samples. The sample was then burned in a stream of pure oxygen for the methane system or heated with lithium to produce lithium carbide for the benzene system. AFAICR the oxalic acid was burned directly without charring. I suppose the NBS expected us to release CO2 chemically**** but even if it had been feasible to introduce an alternative wet chemistry process into the system I doubt we'd have wanted to.
**** Yes, Iknow burning is a chemical reaction.
"Of course, it's a little absurd that South Korea and Hong Kong are testing seafood that may have been caught before the release of water started on August 24, caught far away, or spent very little time anywhere near Fukushima's discharge."
Their actual thinking might be absurd. If they were thinking rationally they might still do this - as a control to compare with subsequent measurements.