Et kritisk øjeblik for atomkraft

Diverse — Drokles on March 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Jordskælvet i Japan har, som måske bekendt efterladt et atomkraftværk i en noget kritisk tilstand. Og bortset fra at nogle har set jordskælvet, som endnu et tegn på global opvarmning så har reaktionerne selvfølgelig fåret debatten om atomkraft og sikkerhed til at blusse op igen. Ulykken i Japan kan være afgørende for debatten, men der vil ikke helt være tale om et “make or break” for atomkraftteknologiens fremtid.

For det første er teknologien alt for rationel til at lade ligge på grund af noget vesterlandsk hysteri og en eventuel ulykke vil blot sinke en masse projekter i vores del af verden. For det andet er ulykken udløst af en ekstrem og udefrakommende faktor - et kæmpe jordskævl og efterfølgende en kæmpe tsunami. Men hvis japanerne formår at holde atomulykke fra døren vil a-kraften have bestået en gevaldig og helt urimelig prøve, for hvad ville alternative have været? En læser på Pajamas Media giver et bud

If the tsunami had hit a solar farm instead, “10,000’s of Lbs of lead and cadmium telluride would have been swept into the Sea of Japan poisoning just about everything”.

Den tanke vil næppe dominere debatten i øjeblikket, hvor Merkel - baseret på de japanske jordskævlserfaringer tyskerne aldrig vil gøre sig - vil slukke en række atomkraftværker. Men ulykken i Japan er uheldig i mere end en forstand. Fra Slate

Japan’s plants were designed to withstand quakes and tsunamis, but not a combination of this magnitude. At the affected facilities, the quake knocked out the primary cooling systems, and the tsunami wiped out the backup diesel generators. Then a valve malfunction thwarted efforts to pump water into one of the reactors. Everything that could go wrong did.

Despite this, the reactor containers have held firm. The explosions around them have blown outward, relieving pressure, as designed. Meanwhile, plant operators, deprived of their primary and secondary power sources for cooling the cores, have tapped batteries and deployed alternate generators. To relieve pressure, they’ve released vapor. And in some cases, they’ve pumped seawater and boric acid into the reactors, destroying them to protect the public. Cooling systems are back online at two previously impaired reactors, and a backup pump has averted cooling problems at a third plant.

The reactor where the crisis began, Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1, is one of Japan’s oldest. It was two weeks from its 40-year expiration date when the quake hit. Similar plants in the United States have been upgraded to ensure that in the event of power failure, water can still be pumped in to cool them. And nuclear plants are indisputably getting safer. Since 1990, worker radiation exposure and automatic reactor shutdowns worldwide have declined by a factor of three. According to an analysis last year by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, plants being constructed by today’s standards are 1,600 times safer than early nuclear plants, in terms of the predicted frequency of a large radiation leak. Even if a reactor core is damaged, as in Japan, the NEA report notes that today, “the probability of a release to the environment is about ten times less than that of core damage,” thanks to improvements in fuel, circuits, and containment.

Mon ikke japanerne med deres lange erfaring med jordskælv har en del ekspertise at trække på? Men har iranerne også det? Fra Bloomberg

A shattered cooling pump at Iran’s only civilian nuclear-power reactor, forcing a shutdown during its initial start-up phase, has renewed safety concerns about the hybrid Russian-German power plant on the Persian Gulf coast.

The 1000-megawatt power plant at Bushehr combines a German- designed plant begun under the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in the 1970’s and Russian technology installed over the last decade. Safety questions have raised concern among some nuclear-power experts and in neighboring countries such as Kuwait, which is vulnerable in the event of a radiation leak since it is downwind about 170 miles (275 kilometers).


Nuclear experts cite potential safety issues due to the hybrid design, Iranian nuclear inexperience, the Islamic state’s reluctance to join international safety monitoring programs, and the unknown reliability of some of the original components.


Bushehr also sits at the junction of three tectonic plates, raising concerns that an earthquake could damage the plant and crack its containment dome, or disrupt the electrical supply needed to keep it safe, said Dr. Jassem al-Awadi, a geologist at the University of Kuwait. Bushehr was hit with a 4.6 magnitude temblor in 2002.

En trøst for iranerne og deres naboer er at konsekvenserne af radioaktiv stråling og nedfald fra atomulykker er stærkt overdrevne i den offentlige debat, som Spiegel fortæller.

Groups of researchers have set up shop at all of the sites of nuclear accidents or major nuclear contamination. They work at Hanford (where the United States began producing plutonium in 1944), they conduct studies in the English town of Sellafield (where a contaminated cloud escaped from the chimney in 1957), and they study the fates of former East German uranium mineworkers in the states of Saxony and Thuringia. New mortality rates have now been compiled for all of these groups of individuals at risk. Surprisingly, the highest mortality rates were found among the East German mineworkers.

In Hiroshima, on the other hand, radioactivity claimed surprisingly few human lives. Experts now know exactly what happened in the first hours, days and weeks after the devastating atomic explosion. Almost all of Hiroshima’s 140,000 victims died quickly. Either they were crushed immediately by the shock wave, or they died within the next few days of acute burns.

But the notorious radiation sickness — a gradual ailment that leads to certain death for anyone exposed to radiation levels of 6 Gray or higher — was rare. The reason is that Little Boy simply did not produce enough radioactivity. But what about the long-term consequences? Didn’t the radiation work like a time bomb in the body?

To answer these questions, the Japanese and the Americans launched a giant epidemiological study after the war. The study included all residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who had survived the atomic explosion within a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) radius. Investigators questioned the residents to obtain their precise locations when the bomb exploded, and used this information to calculate a personal radiation dose for each resident. Data was collected for 86,572 people.

Today, 60 years later, the study’s results are clear. More than 700 people eventually died as a result of radiation received from the atomic attack:

  • 87 died of leukemia;
  • 440 died of tumors;
  • and 250 died of radiation-induced heart attacks.
  • In addition, 30 fetuses developed mental disabilities after they were born.

Such statistics have attracted little notice so far. The numbers cited in schoolbooks are much higher. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, 105,000 people died of the “long-term consequences of radiation.”

Miners in an East German uranium mine were heavily exposed to radon. ”For commendable reasons, many critics have greatly exaggerated the health risks of radioactivity,” says Albrecht Kellerer, a Munich radiation biologist. “But contrary to widespread opinion, the number of victims is by no means in the tens of thousands.”

Especially surprising, though, is that the stories of birth defects in newborns are also pure fantasy. The press has repeatedly embellished photos of a destroyed Hiroshima with those of deformed children, children without eyes or with three arms. In reality, there hasn’t been a single study that provides evidence of an elevated rate of birth defects.

A final attempt to establish a connection is currently underway in Japan. The study includes 3,600 people who were unborn fetuses in their mothers’ wombs on that horrific day in August 1945. But it too has failed to furnish any evidence of elevated chromosomal abnormality.

In Germany, where nuclear fears have coalesced with the fear of dying forests and mad cow disease into a general psychosis of threat, the degree of concern over nuclear radiation remains high. To this day, some are so fearful about the long-term effects of fallout from Chernobyl that they refuse to eat mushrooms from Bavaria. Even 20 years ago such behavior would not have made sense.

Officially 47 people — members of the emergency rescue crews — died in Chernobyl from exposure to lethal doses of radiation. This is serious enough. “But overall the amount of radiation that escaped was simply too low to claim large numbers of victims,” explains Kellerer.

The iodine 131 that escaped from the reactor did end up causing severe health problems in Ukraine. It settled on meadows in the form of a fine dust, passing through the food chain, from grass to cows to milk, and eventually accumulating in the thyroid glands of children. About 4,000 children were afflicted with cancer. Less well-known, however, is the fact that only nine of those 4,000 died — thyroid cancers are often easy to operate on.

Eller “More people died at Chappaquiddick than 3 Mile Island”, som et valgkampsslogan angiveligt engang lød.

6 Kommentarer »

  1. “More people died at Chappaquiddick than 3 Mile Island”,

    Hehe, det er god værkstedshumor. Det må da være et slogan der bragte det libreale USA helt op i det røde felt. For den Amerikanske venstrefløj var Ted Kennedy nærmest et ikon. Hvem fandt på dette slogan??

    Comment by JensH — March 17, 2011 @ 11:05 am
  2. Jeg vile have sendt igår, Ann Coulter er en der har en skap hjerne, så jeg læser det med alhvor, jeg har ikke hørt det før. men det er intersant.

    (er lidt orblnd) og meget træt.

    Comment by Per N — March 19, 2011 @ 12:49 am
  3. Også en om olje.

    Comment by Per N — March 19, 2011 @ 9:54 am
  4. Video: Climategate ‘hide the decline’ explained by Berkeley professor Richard A. Muller

    Comment by Universalgeni — March 19, 2011 @ 4:41 pm
  5. Det undrer mig ikke at du har den mening om a-kraft…a-kraft fortalere siger jo altid at man tager højde for alle eventualiteter og risikoer! D.v.s. at man i et land som Japan hvor jordskælv er hverdagskost, selvfølgelig ved at en stor skælv i havet udenfor Japans kyst sandsynligvis vil medføre en tsunami, og derfor bygge værkerne så højt op at de er udenfor vandets række vide…men nej, det havde man ikke regnet med! Let’s face it, børn skal ikke lege med tændstikker!

    Comment by Maarten Bijl — March 22, 2011 @ 12:41 am
  6. Stråmanden med at atomkraftfortalere siger at man tager højde for alle eventualiteter og risikoer kan du godt pakke sammen. Det man siger er at atomkraft er sikrere end alle alternativer. Dokumentationen henviser jeg jo til så hvor vil du hen?

    Comment by Drokles — March 22, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

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