Nippon’s Nuclear Curse

As the Japanese desperately try to cool down two overheated nuclear reactors, damaged in the massive earthquake, Nippon’s nuclear curse rises like a ghost from the grave, haunting that brave nation like a demon out of hell. It is a demon seed of the war god, Satan’s spawn, threatening the uniquely austere beauty of a country with a pronounced sense of place.

An explosion has been reported in one of the reactors: the outer shell that houses the reactor has blown off, leaving its pulsing heart exposed — and on the brink of an eruption, a tsunami of fire. The experts are comparing it to Three Mile Island, to ward off the specter of another Chernybol.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and now this. Japan’s nuclear curse is coming back to haunt us all, and the ripples are sure to spread far and wide. A mighty blow has been delivered against the second largest market in the world, and world markets are already reacting to what some analysts are calling a “perfect storm” of ongoing bad news. A nuclear meltdown in Japan could set off a global financial meltdown — so that more than just a few foolhardy tsunami-watchers in California are swept out to sea.

  • Liveload

    You keep hearing about "The Perfect Storm®" over and over. Are they all perfect? Maybe it's not the weather. Maybe it's the sh!tty boat.

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  • Wootie Berster

    Ecoboffins have pointed out for many long years that our nuclear generators are intrinsically unsafe. For a country like Japan (Nippon?) which seems to be one of the more (most) earthquake vulnerable places in the world, building all these deathbombs onshore near population centers is frankly mad; but of course, greed trumps all and the fundamental greed of rich old men (psychopaths? Narcissists?) pushes all considerations aside. Chernobyl.. a good example of expedience defeating sanity.

  • Wootie Berster

    "By MARI YAMAGUCHI and JEFF DONN, Associated Press Mari Yamaguchi And Jeff Donn, Associated Press – Fri Mar 11, 11:53 pm ET

    TOKYO – Japan declared states of emergency for five nuclear reactors at two power plants after the units lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday's powerful earthquake. "

  • epppie

    Thank goodness for the 'pragmatists'. There's no hole they can't dig deeper.

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  • jeff_davis

    Just to keep it sane, here. Those reactors are just fine. Their operation to produce electricity has already saved the planet from thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants (coal for example emits substantial quantities of radioactive thorium and uranium when burned in power plants; there's your radioactive plume, folks; the nukes on the other hand are clean as a whistle).

    Yes, Japan has earthquakes. They just had the biggest one in recorded history. And their nuke plants? Damaged? Yes. But what all you technically clueless people fail to realize is that real engineers take their jobs seriously, and design all sorts of multiply redundant safety features into these facilities, so that even in the event of damage, ***CATASTROPHIC FAILURE*** is prevented.

    But the anti-nuclear hysterics, the Henny-Penny shriekers are only interested in political/emotional masturbation. In their ignorance and looming feeling of irrelevance, they need to feel important, want to don the tiara of heroism, want to be lauded for their crusader passion to save the world. Grow up. The scientific types — the geeks and nerds you so disdained in school because of their social incompetence, and to whom you felt oh so superior, well, they now own the world and your silly tra-la-la asses right along with it.

    In ten or fifteen years when the Chinese have finished off your lunch, and the US economy craters totally, those geeks will be the new middle class, and you anti-nuke flakes with your degrees in French literature and sociology will be commuting to geek homes to clean the pool, mow the lawn, and scrub the floors.

    Sweet.

    • jasonditz

      Personally I've never been "anti-nuclear" when it comes to power, and my degrees are in Physics and Mathematics, not Sociology, but I'm pretty appalled at how badly this plant, in one of the world's most nuclear-advanced countries, is handling itself. Makes me wonder what would've happened if the earthquake was closer, or if it hit a country with less advanced plants.

      Light water reactors are supposed to be safer than this, and it makes me wonder if the "best case" safety systems in place at these sites the world over aren't being over hyped.

      • Mark

        http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-

        "As many people here are well aware, the [Tokyo Electric Co] has a history of not being forthcoming about nuclear safety issues, particularly those surrounding earthquake-related dangers. In 2003, all 17 of its nuclear plants were shut down temporarily after a scandal over falsified safety-inspection reports. It ran into trouble again in 2006, when it emerged that coolant-water data at two plants had been falsified in the 1980s."

    • Hacklheber

      I will frame this as a motivator with the heading "YOU ARE NOW THIS MAD"

    • politicalreviewonline

      Perspective and Wit are the two words that came to mind when I read your post. Well done sir.
      http://politicalreviewonline.com/

  • andy

    I think its a stretch to compare the atomic bombing 66 years ago to a tsunami caused event today.

  • Sean2009

    Let's keep attacking those evil environmentalists who are trying to prevent this sort of scenario from happening here. Don't they know the market will fix this problem?

    • In a free market, there would be no government-created nuke plants like in Japan. No one would insure them. The only reason they exist in the US — owned primarily by GE, the pro-Obama company that runs MSNBC — is because of the Price-Anderson Act, which exempts them from liability. This is not the Huffington Post, bud: you can't get away with that stuff here.

      • Sean2009

        I take it that a non-government created nuke plant poses no threat, then? In a free market, you could build a nuke in a residential neighborhood, pass the costs on to customers who would have little choice but to pay and if it ever melted down, who exactly would call you on it?

        You only need insurance when the people have some meaningful way of suing you.

        Edit:

        I forgot to mention, here's Ron Paul complaining how the lack of a "free market" and environmentalists keep us from building nuke plants or drilling for oil. No need for Huffpo.
        http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2011/03/08/ron-paul-l

  • Hacklheber

    "An explosion has been reported in one of the reactors: the outer shell that houses the reactor has blown off, leaving its pulsing heart exposed — and on the brink of an eruption, a tsunami of fire. The experts are comparing it to Three Mile Island, to ward off the specter of another Chernybol."
    http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate

    "Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that the explosion at Unit 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant occurred outside the primary containment vessel (PCV), not inside. The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has confirmed that the integrity of the primary containment vessel remains intact."

    So, no it didn't — and there won't be "another Chernobyl". This is *NOT* an RBMK ready to blow itself up, though it is an old-school (40 y) reactor that might yet cause widespread problems while going down. Not safing oneself when the power goes out is less-than-perfect design.

    We do not need anti-nuclear fearmongering of the worst sort, thank you very much.

    The worst so far is the dearth of good information about what's going on. One would think Japan is on the other side of the iron curtain.

    Still, Wikipedia is pretty current:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_Nuclear_

    And for those who can recall when this came out:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078966/

  • James Wilson

    Ok being on the right side of the former iron curtain makes Japanese reactors safe. I have heard it all now. This sounds like metaphysics not physics, ie that being part of the 'free world' means that you build intrinsically better reactors. All governments and institutions hype their policies and supposed national virtues and cover up their mistakes. Why should we have more confidence in the Japanese authorities than those in the former Soviet Union or even in the USA where the federal government with the usual supine conivance of the supposedly free press went to great lengths to minimise collection of data and recording of the scale and spatial dimensions of the contamination beyond the immediate area to protect the nuclear industry. Oh and for the record, just so you can assign my comments to a general category of incompetence, I lecture in sociology and politics and can speak a few words of French.

  • Mr. Raven

    Yes nationalism is always helpful "ze reich will prevail!"

    Sigh!

  • Bob Jackson

    II must regretfully comment that while Japanese nuclear design and engineering may well be top drawer, their construction is often faulty. I personally have seen numerous examples, including at nuclear facilities.

  • Mark

    @jeff davis: "In the face of a giant earthquake AND a giant tsunami the plant has been reduced to garbage, yes, but the people are safe. That's success. "

    – 3 plant workers have *severe radiation sickness*
    – 160 people close to the power stations were exposed to *dangerous radiation levels*, according to the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency

    This is from exposed fuel rods and resulting explosions. A complete meltdown, should it occur, would result in even greater health risks. Nothing about this situation is "safe" or a "success". Only someone with an ideological committment to the nuclear industry could say otherwise.

  • liveload

    It's always the people who least deserve these things that end up having them happen to them. Why can't we have a useful natural disaster? How refreshing it would be if Washington D.C. was swept out to sea by an enormous tsunami. Instead of wiping out entire generations, entire bloodlines, of fishermen and other normal folk, why can't we be blessed with a disaster that wipes away thousands of politicians, lawyers, lobbyists, generals, etc?

  • Mother nature causing a chain reaction that could cause a man made disaster, unfortunately when we build things like nuclear power stations in a known earthquake zone this is going to eventually happen.

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