Documentary “Nuclear Ginza” by Channel 4, Great Britain, 1995

March 25, 2011

A Japanese documentarian friend recommend checking out the insightful and timely documentary “Nuclear Ginza” (with English subtitles) by Channel 4, Great Britain, 1995. [HT Soda]


The 5th interview – Nuclear engineer father explains Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents to daughter

March 16, 2011

Have a listen to the 5th daily interview (with transcript) of nuclear engineer Mark Mervine by Evelyn Mervine about Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents. Here is an excerpt from the transcript (emphasis added),

“Q: Thank you, Dad. Moving on to another question. I do like this question. “So
imagine if your dad were to interview the top TEPCO officials, or could be a reporter
at a TEPCO press conference. What would his top ten questions be? Or put it
another way, what significant data would most clarify the reactors and the extent of
the damage?”

A: I would- well, first off, I would have more than 10 questions. But I think the
important thing that I would ask to receive is that they need to assume that
the general public is intelligent and they need to provide them with as much
information as possible. I think there’s, at times, a tendency when things happen,
whether it be nuclear or some other event, to filter the information, because we’re
afraid of the reaction, or we’re afraid of panic. But in this case, they’re at the
opposite end of the spectrum, where they’re providing not enough information, and
very little information, that people are starting to get very upset and panic, because
they feel like they’re not being provided with enough information. And I would
agree with those people – not enough information is being provided and y’know,
I would need more than- I’d need more than 10 questions for them, but the main
question I would have would be, “Please tell us exactly what is happening and treat
us as if we’re intelligent and give us as much information as possible.”

For links and some info of the first four daily interviews, see “Nuclear engineer father explains Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents to daughter“.

Meltdown looms as errors mount at Fukushima nuclear plant

March 16, 2011

For the record.

Meltdown looms as errors mount at Fukushima nuclear plant
OTTAWA— From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2011 7:55PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2011 9:22AM EDT

The nuclear industry uses a “defence in depth” approach – having backups for your backup systems – but cascading disasters and human error have overwhelmed those safety systems in Japan and pushed the country to the brink of a nuclear meltdown.

Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station was clearly designed to withstand the worst earthquake to hit the country in modern times, but key backup safety systems failed under the resulting blackout and a massive tsunami that inundated the area.

That’s left a razor-thin margin of error for emergency crews working under enormous stress to prevent a meltdown that could spread radiation across their homeland. They’ve survived catastrophic natural disasters and explosions at the plant, but the failure to close a pressure gauge could lose the war.

The see-saw battle to regain mastery of the crippled plants has been hobbled by some design shortcomings at the 40-year-old facility – though the critical containment vessels appear to be intact. And there is a residual lack of trust in its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which has an unfortunate history of hiding trouble from the public.

But the fundamental question is whether the global nuclear industry designs reactors to withstand a “perfect storm” situation, in which multiple calamities and human error conspire together to create what the industry calls a “low-probability, high-consequence event.”

Former nuclear regulator Linda Keen said the industry is often inadequately prepared.

“In my experience, I found the nuclear engineers extremely optimistic,” said Ms. Keen, former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

“They’re optimistic about everything: how fast they’re going to do things, the cost, the idea of whether you are going to have an accident or not.” Read the rest of this entry »