Posts Tagged nuclear power

Big Japan trade deficits? So? We don’t need no stinking nuclear plants!

Asian trade deficits seem to be talk of the markets at the moment, with China and Japan both reporting notable trade deficits in recent days. Chris Martenson wrote a piece published in the Analysis section of this website yesterday, noting that Japan is now recording record trade deficits as a result largely of a surge in energy import costs.

Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country relied on nuclear power for 30% of electricity production. But by the end of this month, that figure will stand at 0%. Resource-poor Japan is having to spend enormous amounts on importing oil and natural gas.

The fact that China and Japan are now both running trade deficits has troubling implications as far as heavily-indebted western countries are concerned. After all, if large Asian countries are no longer running large trade surpluses, then there will be less demand from them for western bonds, which will compound the already tricky financial situation that Europe and the US face.

However, mercantilism remains the dominant trading preference as far as both of these countries are concerned, so we shouldn’t expect the authorities there to sit back and watch these deficits increase. CNN reports that officials at the People’s Bank of China are already hinting at halting the yuan’s appreciation, while Japanese efforts to weaken the yen in recent years have been persistent – though unsuccessful on a relative basis

So in one form or another, China and Japan will both look to weaken – or at the very least in China’s case, suppress – their currencies. Whether or not they succeed on a relative basis is tricky to predict, given that they’re squaring off against the heavyweight money printers of Europe and America. But one thing is pretty much certain: the yen and the yuan will weaken against gold, and gold will continue to benefit from these competitive devaluations.

via Asian trade deficits: prelude to more money printing?

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Japan Trade Deficit Due To Special Factors, Including Quake

Tepco said earlier it will raise electricity rates for corporate customers by around 17% on average beginning in April, its first hike in more than three decades, to address soaring fuel costs following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

The rate increase will be used to help the embattled utility cover the cost of buying more fossil fuels, as many of its nuclear plants remain offline following last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The minister [of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Motohisa Furukawa, graduate of prestigious Tokyo University’s Law Faculty] also said the government aims to propose several ideas about a future energy plan by spring. “For the long term, we would think about alternative energy like solar, but in the near term, I think it will be natural gas,” he said. “We have to think about how we will rely less on nuclear power.”

via 2012/02/12 17:18 – Furukawa: Japan Trade Deficit Due To Special Factors, Including Quake.

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Without Nuclear Power, Supply Crunch Still Looms

TOKYO Nikkei–Kyushu Electric Power Co. 9508 managed to avoid blackouts Friday, but precarious power supply conditions will continue among Japanese utilities as long as their nuclear reactors remain idle. Just three reactors in Japan are operating today, but they will join their idle counterparts by the end of April, moving the nation completely off nuclear power.

But if utilities are forced to continuously operate fossil-fuel-burning plants to make up for dormant nuclear power stations, it would likely increase the chance of breakdowns, as one of Kyushu Electric’s plants did Friday.

Boosting the reliance on fossil fuels will also result in higher power rates.”We want to get through this summer without issuing any power conservation orders,” Economy and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said. But his comment is merely wishful thinking since it lacks any hard numbers to back up its feasibility.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is holding discussions toward finalizing by around early May measures to address power issues.  But it is becoming clear that conservation will have only a limited effect. To avoid creating hardships for citizens and disrupting businesses, the government must stop kicking the nuclear can down the road and present a clear road map for ensuring a sufficient power supply as soon as possible.

The Nikkei Feb. 4 morning edition

via 2012/02/04 05:40 – ANALYSIS: Without Nuclear Power, Supply Crunch Still Looms.

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GE-Hitachi Proposes to Burn U.K. Plutonium Stockpile | The Energy Collective

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has proposed to the U.K. government to build an advanced nuclear reactor that would consume the country’s stockpile of surplus plutonium.

The technology is called PRISM, which stands for Power Reactor Innovative Small Module. If accepted, it would be very different than the other proposals to process plutonium, including those that would turn it into mixed oxide fuel (MOX).

According to GE Hitachi, the PRISM reactor disposes of a great majority of the plutonium as opposed to simply reusing it over again. This process takes it out of circulation forever.

The UK government had considered building a MOX plant at the Sellafield site where the plutonium is stored, but it canceled those plans as the Japanese government stopped orders for MOX following the Fukushima earthquake.

via GE-Hitachi Proposes to Burn U.K. Plutonium Stockpile | The Energy Collective.

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Anti-nukes: do they know what they are doing?

As I came out of the train station last night, I saw a group of people petitioning to end nuclear power in Japan. They were collecting signatures. Do they know the consequences of what they are pushing for, I wonder?

The latest report estimates that Japan’s real GDP would be pushed down by 0.4% to 0.6% if increased use of fossil fuels to offset energy lost due to idled nuclear reactors raises power generation costs by 10%.

via 2011/12/22 06:01 – Deflation Robbing Japan’s GDP Of Y1-2tln A Year: Report.

The article also mentions “in-house unemployment”, something I’d never heard of. Worth a read.

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UPDATE 3-Japan power firms’ LNG use at record | Reuters

Some facts and figures on Japan’s energy use since March ’11: 15% more LNG, 12% less power (mouse-tip to AtomicRod).

TOKYO, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Japan’s 10 regional power firms used a record 4.81 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas in August to help offset a record low nuclear utilisation rate in the wake of Fukushima.

LNG use was up 15.4 percent from the same month a year earlier, power industry data showed. While using 7.1 percent less coal than a year earlier, the 10 firms used more fuel and crude oil last month despite the sixth straight month of year-on-year decline in their power production after the March earthquake and tsunami.

Only 11 of the country’s 54 nuclear reactors are operating

via UPDATE 3-Japan power firms’ LNG use at record | Reuters.

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Japan to sack top officials over nuclear disaster – Yahoo! News

Will this do any real good? Or is it just whitewash, to try and recover lost public trust? Will it work to do even that, I wonder?

TOKYO Reuters – Japan will replace three senior bureaucrats in charge of nuclear power policy, the minister overseeing energy policy said on Thursday, five months after the world’s worst atomic crisis in 25 years erupted at Fukushima.

The move comes as Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls for enhanced nuclear safety accountability and an overhaul of Japan’s energy policy, with the aim of gradually weaning it off its dependence on nuclear power as public safety concerns mount.

It also follows a series of scandals in which government officials in charge of safeguarding the operations of nuclear power plants tried to influence public opinion on atomic energy.

Trade Minister Banri Kaieda, who played a key role in handling the Fukushima crisis, vowed to carry out major changes in the ministry’s personnel, including the three top officials. Kaieda has also said he intends to eventually step down to take responsibility for missteps.

“I’m planning to breathe fresh air into the ministry with a large-scale reshuffle,” Kaieda told a news conference. “I’ll have new people rebuild the ministry.”

via Japan to sack top officials over nuclear disaster – Yahoo! News.

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The Nuclear Green Revolution: Were the Japanese Engineers Who Built Fukushima Incompetent?

Don’t be fooled by the polite tone at the beginning of this article, which starts by questioning someone who questions the competence of Japanese engineers for building a nuclear power plant right in the path of a tsunami and earthquake. How could they be so foolish! As the article progresses, he takes the gloves off. It’s long. Not for those with short attention spans. It comes with lots of links, which don’t show up in this extract.

A news item in the June 2, 2011 issue of Nature, (page 10) which may be the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, reports that 2010 carbon emissions have reached a new record level, 30.9 billion metric tons per year, roughly 1,000 tons per second after the world’s miraculous “economic recovery.”

Um, um, um…

The World Health Organization reports that 2 million people die prematurely each year from air pollution, which is about one person every 15 seconds, with almost all of this pollution resulting from dangerous fossil fuel and “renewable” biomass burning.

In other news:

Approximately 3,700 workers at the Fukushima nuclear complex have been exposed to radiation since the recent 9.0 earthquake and 15 meter tsunami that struck March 11. Of these, 3514 have had medical examinations in which their exposure limits were recorded. Of these, 124 of the workers have exposures exceeding 100 mSv, which is the normal regulatory lifetime load for nuclear workers, although Japan raised the level for this event to 250 mSv. Of these 124 workers who exceeded 100 mSv, 107 had exposures between 100 and 200 mSv, 8 had exposures of 200-250 mSv, and 9 had doses exceeding 250 mSv.

A list of radiation exposures from the 9.0 earthquake and 15 meter tidal wave.

According to the Radiation Health Physics Society, which consists of, um, health physicists, the most aggressive diagnostic medical procedure there is involving radiation (other than radiation treatment for cancer which often can, and does induce radiation sickness) is a Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty, (PTCA) which results in radiation exposures of up to 57 mSv. Radiation Health Physics Society: Common exposures to radiation from medical procedures.

One of the major causes of needing a PTCA is, um, eating cows.

The somewhat familiar effects of radiation sickness are generally observed at 1,000 mSv exposures received over a short interval, and the symptoms include alopecia, nausea, vomiting and severe depression of the immune system (the latter being similar in many ways to full blown AIDS.) The chances are overwhelming that if you have ever encountered someone with radiation sickness – and I certainly have – it was as a result of that person being treated with radiation for cancer.

Of course, anyone receiving successful radiation treatment to treat cancer will face a continual risk of getting a new cancer, but the probability of getting such a cancer is not 100% – not even close – or else radiation treatments for cancer would not be attempted since they would be, by definition, futile.

But let’s not talk about medical procedures but say something more about Japan.

The Japanese utility Chubu recently asked for help buying what will ultimately be $31 Billion (US) worth of dangerous fossil fuel to replace its other nuclear plants that have been shut by fear, ignorance, and superstition. All the waste from all those burned dangerous fossil fuels will be dumped into earth’s atmosphere, almost certainly killing many thousands of people from air pollution.

Chubu receives emergency loan.

We can estimate how much dangerous fossil fuel waste will be dumped into earth’s atmosphere by (with extreme generosity and self delusion) that all of this $31 billion dollars will represent dangerous natural gas, although, in fact, it won’t, by looking at dangerous natural gas prices.

Natural gas prices have recently run about $631 per metric ton in Asia.

This suggests about 180 million tons of dangerous natural gas waste dumping for Chubai alone, although the time period is not specified. (Chubai may need this loan for a period of years.)

For the observed record, in April of 2011, Japanese imports of dangerous natural gas rose by 1.25 million metric tons in April of 2011 to 6.65 million metric tons per month. If we assume that this gas was mostly methane and correct for the molecular weight of carbon dioxide (as I did above) relative to methane, we see that the increase for dangerous fossil fuel waste dumping in Japan to shut it’s nuclear plants amounts to a whopping 45 million tons for Japan, resulting in a total of around 230 million metric tons just for natural gas annually.

via The Nuclear Green Revolution: Were the Japanese Engineers Who Built Fukushima Incompetent?.

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Arnie Gundersen going international | Atomic Insights

I wish I hadn’t started reading this at 10 pm. The comments are fascinating. More proof that Marxian polylogism  is rampant. C.S. Lewis’s send up of this type of “thinking” (from Book Three, chapter VIII of “Pilgrim’s Regress”) :

Jailor: “You there… what is argument?”

Master Parrot: “Argument is the attempted rationalization of the arguer’s desires.”

Jailor: “Very good… What is the answer to an argument turning on the belief that two and two make four?”

Master Parrot: “The answer is ‘You say that because you are a mathematician'”.


For those readers unfamiliar with Marxian polylogism, a little clarification might be in order. If you go to the article I quote from below (click here), and after reading, peruse the comments, you’ll see a number of trends or patterns.

Here’s one. The blog author (Rod Adams) challenges a number of assertions made by Gundersen on the Internet. One of them is about so-called “hot particles”. Gundersen asserts (I quote here from Rod Adams’ blog), that these hot particles are so tiny that they cannot be picked up by regular radiation detectors and because of this they are extremely dangerous. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fukushima, IFRs and an MIT debate « BraveNewClimate

I think the lesson of Fukushima is that natural disasters cause deaths that we can’t always avoid.

via Fukushima, IFRs and an MIT debate « BraveNewClimate.

Some good sense being talked in this article at Brave New Climate science blog. What else has been learned?

4) We learned that 40 years ago, people didn’t design reactors as safely as we do today.

5) We learned that if the reactor closest to the epicenter sustains no damage, the press and public will completely ignore it when they should be telling people that this proves that the technology itself is inherently safe even in disasters beyond the design specification.

6) We’ve always known that having a reactor shutdown process that is dependent upon electricity is a bad idea. Having waste lying around is a bad idea. Not being able to reprocess that waste is a bad idea. Cancelling the IFR project that could have reprocessed the waste was a bad idea.

8) We’ve learned, once again, that people are irrational. When 8 members of the public died in a natural gas explosion in a town near where I live (San Bruno), there was not a single editorial or protest calling for the end of natural gas. When any single plane crash kills more people than nuclear has in its entire 50 year history, do we hear about anyone calling for banning air travel and shutting down the travel by air? Absolutely not! When 115 people die in car crashes every day, do we hear cries for banning automobiles? Nope. Yet when no member of the public dies due to the disaster in Japan, instead of people talking about how, even in the roughest cases, nobody in the public was killed, we talk about the end of nuclear power in countries around the world. If a 40 year old car exploded, killing its occupant, do you think there would calls to end the manufacture of cars worldwide? Or do we learn what we did wrong and not repeat that mistake next time?

[ED: Add the Chinese fast rail accident to the list — do we give up on high-speed rail now, a favoured tech of BZE?]

9) No member of the public died from nuclear radiation in the Japan quake. Unsafe buildings caused untold thousands of deaths in the same disaster. Why isn’t the priority on making safer buildings that can withstand tsunamis? Why aren’t countries closing down all buildings because building technology has proven time and time again to kill people when an accident occurs? Buildings are an unsafe technology.

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