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Anti-nuke

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Protesters hold placards against nuclear power plant during a rally against nuclear power and its development, in Tokyo, on Sunday. See story here.

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a lot of that is water that is waiting to be transported to a storage facility

Over 50 tons of it is spent fuel, not water. And it is waiting to be transported - and not being transported - because there is nowhere to transport it to.

that had to do with the No-nuke lobby using the US court system to halt the storage there. They have other locations in Utah

Considering the Yucca Mountain is America's 4th most currently active seismic area, it's no wonder people get nimby about it.

I know we have earthquakes in Japan, but if you use that as an objection, then we really shouldn't build anything in Japan.

We certainly shouldn't build anything that is vulnerable to earthquakes/power failures, that's for sure. But as I've said before, even if nothing goes wrong and the stuff is stored safely for the requisite 10,000 years, the total cost of safety measures / processing / permanent storage / decommissioning etc is far, far too high for nuclear power to be practical in the long run.

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, 63,000 tons of nuclear waste still sits in 'temporary' storage (in pools of water, as at Fukushima 1) at the power plants where it was created.

@cleo: a lot of that is water that is waiting to be transported to a storage facility.

The plan to store all this waste deep inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain was put on hold because the site was deemed unsuitable as a permanent storage base.

A lot of that had to do with the No-nuke lobby using the US court system to halt the storage there. They have other locations in Utah that they use.

If the US, with all that empty land, cannot find anywhere to permanently store its nuclear waste, how can tiny crowded Japan hope to do any better?

I would recommend that Japan hollow out one of these many moutains around and store it there. If they can build the NORAD complex inside of a moutain that is supposed nuclear bomb proof; and nK burrows into mountains to hide their weapons, I believe with the proper engineering controls it could be done. Yes I know we have earthquakes in Japan, but if you use that as an objection, then we really shouldn't build anything in Japan.

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Alphaape - Shoving the stuff inside a mountain or down a mine gets the job done, as you say, for right now. But the amount of stuff, if we stick with nuclear which I really, really hope we don't, is going to increase by leaps and bounds. You may as well say you don't need the dustbin men to come and take your rubbish away, because you can just pile it up in the back room that you're not using for anything else. No matter how big that back room is, at some point it's going to be full to overflowing and you're still going to be producing the same amount of rubbish every day, week, month, year.

A quick google shows that Germany is not handling its nuclear waste satisfactorily; according to the Der Spiegel website, 'Asse nuclear waste dump has the dubious honor of being the most contaminated legacy of Germany’s nuclear power industry' - the old Asse salt mine contains 126,000 barrels of radioactive waste, some of which are leaking. No wonder the decision was made to phase out all nuclear power plants in Germany by 2036.

As for America, while huge amounts of nuclear waste (most of it from the weapons industry, not from power generation) is being stored inside mountains and mines all over the country, 63,000 tons of nuclear waste still sits in 'temporary' storage (in pools of water, as at Fukushima 1) at the power plants where it was created. The plan to store all this waste deep inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain was put on hold because the site was deemed unsuitable as a permanent storage base.

If the US, with all that empty land, cannot find anywhere to permanently store its nuclear waste, how can tiny crowded Japan hope to do any better?

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@cleo: I think that Japan was trying to do nuclear on the cheap. Germany takes care of its waste by sealing it and burying it in a remote location. In the US, they bury the stuff in old salt mines in Utah and states out west. That is not the best answer, but for right now it gets the job done.

I see with Japan is that they will not make those types of decisions for the long run. Storing the material in open (I should say not hardened pools) is totally unexcusable. As I have always stated when I hear that there isn't enough room in Japan for big building projects or that only a small portion of the land is fit for growing, why not take some of these areas, like hollowing out a mountain and placing it there. They do that in the US and I have not heard of major problems. It is the people who run the businesses here in Japan, in my opinion who are not really thinking this thing through.

If Germany can handle their nuke wastes and they don't have a lot of room to spare, why can't Japan. As many tunnels and caves here in Japan, I am sure that they can find a way to handle their wastes.

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So what are the other major nuclear disasters that have occured?

The problem with nuclear is that there doesn't need to be a 'major disaster'. When things chug along happily and without any gremlins in the works, a plant still produces after three years a pile of spent fuel that is remains highly hazardous and requires 10-plus years of reprocessing/treatment to put it in a safer form that then needs to be securely stored for tens of thousands of years. (Note that in Japan the storage facilities are full and the reprocessing simply cannot keep up - stuff is sent round the world to France or the UK, and the processed stuff sent back again). If you're concerned about the volume of mercury from the bulbs, consider the amount of nuclear waste we already have to deal with; the maths simply doesn't add up. Neither do the economics. We are giving future generations one gawdalmighty headache that they are going to hate us for.

Maybe extracting the mercury from bulbs is easier/less hazardous/more economically viable than storing radioactive waste for millenia?

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And you know, you're going to have a very difficult job convincing me that the hazardous waste from fluorescent bulbs is anywhere near the problem that hazardous waste from a nuclear plant is.

@cleo: I respect your opinions and glad to have this discussion with you. I do hope that those "egg heads" who are making these decisions at least look at all sides like we are trying to do here.

You are right about the differences in severity of what could go wrong comparing nuclear to solar. I don't have the answers but I think that we should keep doing the research. This was a bad situation, but I can only count three major nuclear accidents (this one, 3 Mile Island, and Chernobal). So what are the other major nuclear disasters that have occured? I am sure that there are some, but I think the controls that have been put in place have helped to eliminate them.

As far as fluorescent bulbs, it's all about volume. Think of how many bulbs are in use in the city you are in. At one point, they will have to be replaced. True it is a small amount of mercury in them, but that stuff adds up. Look at all of the hype about the use of plastics (bags, bottles) and its pollution effects.

We are going to have the same thing about mercury. If you remember, there was the scare of mercury in the tuna and other seafood years back, but now those same environmental groups are now saying its ok to use bulbs with mercury in them. I found that hard to believe and think that it will be a big problem once a state like CA makes it mandatory, and the disposal problem will become an issue.

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Alphaape - OK, now I found the story, read the first half and shook my head. Lots of problems, the first of them being the fact that this project was put in the hands of a person who had already shown financial incompetence in that he had filed for personal bankruptcy mainly due to credit card loans. This is not the kind of person I would put in charge of billions of dollars.

I'm anti-nuclear and an advocate of solar power, but I have never once suggested that solar is 'more efficient'. It isn't. Neither is it a stand-alone energy source. It doesn't work on cloudy days, at night or when the roof is covered in snow. Where it beats nuclear hands-down is that when it does go wrong all you lose is a bit of investment; you don't have huge swathes of land evacuated and made unusable, a whole regional economy shot to pot, unseen radiation nasties floating in the air and getting into the water supply hundreds of miles away, and the potential for cancer breakouts a couple of decades down the road.

And you know, you're going to have a very difficult job convincing me that the hazardous waste from fluorescent bulbs is anywhere near the problem that hazardous waste from a nuclear plant is.

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@cleo: I couldn't put the link in, but the story is dated 6 March 2011.

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@cleo: The article was from the LA Times named : "Grand dream loses sheen in glare of daylight"

The point I was trying to make was, that when situations like this come up, the first thing most people who are anti-nuke or fossil fuels do is come up with these plans of "going green" and start stating how it will be easy to convert rooftops and vacant areas with solar panels and how much more efficient it will be. If you get a chance to read that article, you will see that in a city like LA, that probably has more days of sunlight year round than Tokyo (with probably the same amount of smog), they can't really get it done.

I think those who keep going with that mantra are just as bad as the people who say that nukes are the only way. We must be able to make due with both methods, and not just shut something off with no real plan because it sounds good.

Just remember, CA has mandated that light bulbs be changed from the incandesant to the flouresant (sp??). But those new bulbs just can't be thrown away, because they contain mecury (which gets heated into vapors while the light is burning). So in the future we they will have a situation where they may reduce energy usage (I'm still not sure about that), but will create another hazard, the hazardous waste from the bulbs. But at least, they will be going green and they should feel good about themselves.

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Alphaape - I tried a couple of google searches of 'LQ Community College' plus 'green energy', 'wind tunnel' etc., and came up with nothing. But assuming that the story is there, I still don't get your point; are you suggesting that because one person/group got it wrong, all alternatives are doomed to failure?

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@cleo: Do a Google search on the LQ Community College director who wasted almost a $100 million (more I think) on try to get the campus' on the green energy. They invested in a wind tunnel that barely generated enough energy to burn a light bulb (at around couple million), and their plan to put solar panels on the roofs of parking structures was a flop. I think I posted the article here awhile back for another post on green energy.

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brotokyo - Now you're just nit-picking! Solar power (in context) = solar panels.

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Cleo@

The first thing I said is that solar power to the exclusion of all else isn't going to work.

Wow! You speak of "scientific facts" in one breath (earlier comment) and then make a comment like this. ALL energy comes from the sun--that's right, even down to the green beans you eat.

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Those who believe in the scientific community and elsewhere have it in their mind that there is no more debate (to paraphase Al Gore), yet they are not willing to listen to reasons why such things are carbon credits are not going to do anything.

A straw man, and irrelevant. Not everyone who is concerned about global warming (a scientific fact) is convinced that carbon credits (a political measure) is the solution, or even a good idea.

research needs to be done to find out ways to diminsh the radiaton, or if that is not possible, better ways to treat the victims of over radiation exposure. I think that it can be done.

I hope you're right. The people who have already suffered the effects of radiation exposure - from Fukushima, Chernobyl, Windscale - need all the help we can give them. That doesn't mean we should go on building nuclear plants that even if nothing goes wrong will be a virtually eternal and ever-growing millstone around the necks of our children's children's children.

The past month has shown us that even without the power Fukushima and other nuclear plants provided, life goes on. Certainly there have been problems, but people are gradually working their way around them and even learning that we don't need to live in a blaze of light all the time. Without the nuclear crutch propping us up in the first place, we would have a different, more robust power infrastructure in place by now. As it stands, we now have to build that power infrastructure and rethink our attitude to power. Solar alone isn't going to do it. Geothermal alone isn't going to do it. Fossil fuels alone aren't going to do it. Wind alone isn't going to do it. We're going to need a patchwork. When you get dressed in the morning, you don't say, 'Right, I've got my socks on, that's all I need'. Your socks will keep your feet warm right enough and you'd probably feel a bit awkward without them; but to be really warm (and avoid other problems) you also need a shirt, trousers, underclothes, maybe even a hat and gloves and an overcoat. None of those items alone is 'the answer'; it's the whole set that's required. Then if you do happen to lose your socks, it isn't such a big deal, just a minor annoyance until you get them back.

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We are going to have think collectively, not individually. We are going to have to deal with intricacies (see the solar panel debate above) which will work as Nature is anything if not intricate, and eschew the caveman approach of single solutions such as nuclear power.

@Ranger Miffy: Not sure what you mean by "collective thinking" but I thought that the whole point of research is to look at all options and provide the best solution. What we have had on both sides of this issue is single minded agenda thinking. Look at the Global Warming issue. Those who believe in the scientific community and elsewhere have it in their mind that there is no more debate (to paraphase Al Gore), yet they are not willing to listen to reasons why such things are carbon credits are not going to do anything.

Throwing away nuclear power is also single minded. It is dangerous, but the research needs to be done to find out ways to diminsh the radiaton, or if that is not possible, better ways to treat the victims of over radiation exposure. I think that it can be done. If writers back in the 60's can dream up the idea of warp drive (ala Star Trek), I would think that real scientist would be able to come up with ways to minimize the risk of nuclear wastes, and the other problems that we face.

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You know what I think? That this is really a defining moment in the evolution of the human race. We are going to have think collectively, not individually. We are going to have to deal with intricacies (see the solar panel debate above) which will work as Nature is anything if not intricate, and eschew the caveman approach of single solutions such as nuclear power. Cleo is right on the cost of Point of Failure of nuclear power/Fukushima et al vs a solar panel failing. Give it up, people, the future answers are clear...and intricate.

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Adjusting the angle of panels so that they don't reflect directly onto other buildings isn't rocket science.

@cleo, no it is not rocket science, but when you have a crowded urban area like Tokyo, it will take a bit of rocket science to figure out if it will be worth it. Every angle you adjust, you're either deflecting it into someone else's home/business, or will get cut out by the surrounding buildings.

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I am not against solar, I think in areas where it can be used, it should. But I am not going to say that it is the answer to all of our problems.

No single power source is going to be the answer to all our problems. The first thing I said is that solar power to the exclusion of all else isn't going to work. The more single homes have it, the greater the burden taken off the national grid. The fact that solar panels may not provide all the electricity needed by a tall thin block of flats doesn't mean that they can't still be used to reduce the demand for other sources of electricity. Adjusting the angle of panels so that they don't reflect directly onto other buildings isn't rocket science.

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Cripes...."informations"?

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You've obviously never been in central Tokyo during summer. And what does Tokyo being crowded have anything to do with having clear days so they can use solar power?? It's not a city inhabited by 500-meters tall giants.

I have been. Add up all of the roof top areas that are not taken by cell towers, and other obstacles and tell me how much acreage you will have.

or the sides of buildings? The people I know with solar panels on their roofs find them very effective indeed. Tokyo has lots of currently dead space that could easily accommodate lots of solar panels.

@cleo: solar power for a single use home is a great idea, since the demand for energy for the one home will not be as great for a larger building. Take your average 10 story apartment building. I have seen some in Tokyo that are very narrow, so it may have a lot of units, but doesn't take up as much space as a building in the US may. Placing a solar collector on the top of a narrow building will not produce enough energy to take the entire building off the power grid.

Also in regards to putting the panels in the city, look up the story about the LA Performing Arts Center. When it first opened, the reflective qualities of the surface were amplified by the concave sections of the Founders Room walls. Some residents of the neighboring condominiums suffered glare caused by sunlight that was reflected off these surfaces and concentrated in a manner similar to a parabolic mirror. The resulting heat made some rooms of nearby condominiums unbearably warm, caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to skyrocket and created hot spots on adjacent sidewalks of as much as 60 °C (140 °F).

So installing solar panels you will still get some of those glare problems. Would you want to live across from a panel that beams more than normal intense light into your home?

I am not against solar, I think in areas where it can be used, it should. But I am not going to say that it is the answer to all of our problems.

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You are going to tell me that in a crowded city like Tokyo, you will have clear days that will allow you to use solar power?

You've obviously never been in central Tokyo during summer. And what does Tokyo being crowded have anything to do with having clear days so they can use solar power?? It's not a city inhabited by 500-meters tall giants.

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@ retaliatory

Would you be able to provide supporting evidence for your statements?

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If they took the money they spend on nuclear plants and put it into solar research/development I'm sure the efficiency could be improved. There's no time like the present.

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For solar to be truly effective, you will need large areas of open land area so that a maximum number of solar cells can be installed.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by 'truly effective'. Solar power to the exclusion of all else - obviously isn't going to work. But why the need to install them on open ground? What's wrong with rooftops, or the sides of buildings? The people I know with solar panels on their roofs find them very effective indeed. Tokyo has lots of currently dead space that could easily accommodate lots of solar panels.

Another good thing about solar panels - when they break down they don't explode or leak dangerous substances into the environment, disrupting lives and killing the local economy for hundreds of miles around. I'd like to hear the argument that explains, in the light of the Fukushima debacle, that nuclear is 'truly effective'. Even when everything goes to plan with no hiccups, you have fuel rods with a useful life of three years followed by 10 years needed for reprocessing and thousands of years for safe storage. Claiming that nuclear is safe, clean and cheap is like claiming shopping with a credit card doesn't take any money out of your purse. You still gotta pay in the end.

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Also to my previous post, you always here the same old song about Japan: "it's a small country and not enough land for major development."

For solar to be truly effective, you will need large areas of open land area so that a maximum number of solar cells can be installed. Where in Tokyo will you find an area like that, clear of obstructions so that you get maximum sunshine?

I would say grow bio fuel crops in the areas that the J-gov had asked for farmers not to plant, but I guess the burning of the gasohol will probably produce release of contaminated materials.

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Too many dumb people not understanding that nuclear power is actually the safest and most reliable currently possible power source. I would think Japanese are smarter than that and it seems most of them are but there's always a percentage of dumb people.

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In addition to geo thermal, solar is also viable - if you factor in all the costs of each. Kuroiwa-san just got elected for Kanagawa prefecture on a platform of 2 million solar installations in the next 2-4 years. That's 1.5 reactors' worth of electricity.

It's a clear day today (Japan standards), and I still get the haze and cloudy overcast here in Yokosuka. You are going to tell me that in a crowded city like Tokyo, you will have clear days that will allow you to use solar power? I understand that the sun doesn't have to shine directly on the panels, but what is the efficency of the panels when they don't have direct sunlight on them? I can say that on cloudy days, those outdoor solar lights that I have don't burn as long at night on days that had been cloudy. What about in winter, when the days are shorter and you have more chances of overcast? What about during the rainy season, when you get more cloudy days?

Solar is a good step, but it is not an end all. It will take a combination of solar, nuclear, and fossile fuels (coal and gas turbine) to meet Japan's energy needs.

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@ warallthetime

In addition to geo thermal, solar is also viable - if you factor in all the costs of each. Kuroiwa-san just got elected for Kanagawa prefecture on a platform of 2 million solar installations in the next 2-4 years. That's 1.5 reactors' worth of electricity.

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Japan is energy Challenged, hence the optons are few.

However the potential for Geo Thermal is vast and largely untapped.

Long term this could provide a viable alternative to building new nuclear plants.

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Those masks look... unfortunate.

It looks like an invasion of the radioactive vajayjays... very scary!

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3 idiots, the ones with the masks that is.

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Kick ass! I know how to make myself a protective mask thanks to this picture! No more worries about Tokyo's air for me!

"Kan is my best friend" ftw!

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It's understandable that there would be a reaction against nuclear power given the circumstances. However, Japan has few if any options other than nuclear. You could put wind mills and solar panels all over the country and it wouldn't be as viable a solution as nuclear power. The only other option is to become even more dependent upon oil imports. But then there is the "global warming" scaremongering that has been ingrained into the Japanese as if it were a computer program implanted into their heads at birth. The Fukushima nuclear plants problems puts the entire country in a pretty tough spot.

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what is wrong with this picture??? where do i start??? they should be using all their energy to help those in need up north. this is not the time for a protest nor is it a time to be pointing fingers. whatever govt in power or company in charge of electricity, there is no way that this could have been avoided. their cries for reform are a mere whimper and fall on deaf ears, compared to the true sadness affecting all victims of the tsunami, quake and nuclear problem.

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Why don't they hold up signs promoting something like solar power instead of this selfish media mongering.

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What they should be saying is "Stop the cover up of inefficency" and "Get rid of managers who don't follow safety rules in order to keep the profits up."

Those types of signs would be more appropiate. I wonder, how many cell phones those three guys have among them in that picture. But I guess they don't figure that much out.

Once, I did ask a question to someone on how electricity is generated. They couldn't tell me, but they were sure to say that coal and nuclear is not the way to go.

Go figure.

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why are half the signs in English?

Because they are attention seekers who want to get on foreign news.

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Those masks look... unfortunate.

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This hardcore idiocy at its best. Perhaps we should put you on bicycles with a chain and wire with solar panels to juice up the country. 40 years ago there were no other solutions to power your empire. You live on islands and unfortunately you need natural resources to light your capital up like Christmas tree with your little cell phones. Well... at least you made it to Engrish class and Happy Halloween.

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why are half the signs in English?

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What are those, Dixie cups?

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Maybe they shold find some of their own "informations" for alternative sources instead of just looking and acting stupid.

Also, what is "STOP Fukushima" supposed to mean??

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Sarge:

" Is that a picture of Barack Obama with an X over his face on the placard on top of the hat on the right? "

LOL yeah! And Sarkozy. For a moment I thought they are protesting the Libyan misadventure.

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Is that a picture of Barack Obama with an X over his face on the placard on top of the hat on the right?

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In a country with minimal natural resources what is the alternative? These protesters are always short on actual viable solutions.

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