Posts filed under “Science”

Earthquake/Nuclear Accident Warnings Ignored by Japan

“In the 40 years that Japan had been building nuclear plants, seismic activity was, fortunately or unfortunately, relatively quiet. Not a single nuclear facility was struck by a big quake. The government, along with the power industry and the academic community, all developed the habit of underestimating the potential risks posed by major quakes.

“Since around the time of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated Kobe in 1995, however, almost the entire Japanese archipelago has entered a period of brisk seismic activity.”

-Katsuhiko Ishibashi, 2007


Why does it turn out that every single time we have a major “unforeseeable event,” it turns out to have been not only foreseen, but warned against — and those warnings were widely ignored by the people in charge?

In 2006, Japanese Katsuhiko Ishibashi, professor at the Research Center for Urban Safety and Security at Kobe University’s Graduate School of Science, resigned from a nuclear power advisory panel. The reason? The Japanese commitment to building nuke plants in earthquake zones. Ishibashi believed that design standards were too lax to stand up to a major earthquake. Further, he believed that overconfidence in plant engineering could lead to a nuclear catastrophe.

Ishibashi even created the word “GENPATSU-SHINSAI,” which is a combination of earthquake and a nuclear meltdown. He has been repeatedly, explicitly warning the Japanese government about the danger of building Nuclear plants on active fault lines.

The quote above comes from a 2007 article published in both International Herald Tribune and Asahi Shinbun: Why Worry? Japan’s Nuclear Plants at Grave Risk From Quake Damage.

Ishibashi believed that a long period of relatively mild earthquake activity may have lulled Japanese authorities into a false sense of security. Following the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 (the Kobe quake), fault lines seemed to have entered into a new period of activity. Over the next years following the Kobe quake, several major quakes took place in close proximity of three nuclear power plants: the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture (August 2005), the Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture (March 2007) and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. In each case, the maximum ground motion caused by the quake was stronger than the seismic design criteria for the nuclear power plants.

click for larger graphic


Governments Have Been Covering Up Nuclear Meltdowns for Fifty Years to Protect the Nuclear Power Industry.

Why Worry? Japan’s Nuclear Plants at Grave Risk From Quake Damage
Ishibashi Katsuhiko
International Herald Tribune August 11, 2007

Quiet voices must be heeded to avert a future Fukushima
Alister Scott and Jim Watson
The Guardian, Friday 18 March 2011

Nuclear test
Nature 26 July 2007
PDF (93K)

Insight: Where not to build nuclear power stations
Michael Reilly
New Scientist 28 July 2007

Category: Energy, Really, really bad calls, Science

Perigee Moon

Via NASA >

Category: Science, Weekend

Understanding the Radioactivity at Fukushima

A physics and engineering perspective Prof. Ben Monreal, UCSB Department of Physics > Understanding the radioactivity at Fukushima ~~~ > Understanding the radioactivity at Fukushima View more presentations from ritholtz.

Category: Science, Think Tank

Radiation Dose Chart

Via xkcd comes this very informative chart on radiation exposure: > click for ginormous graphic > Sources: > Hat tip Flowing Data

Category: Energy, Science

WeatherSpark Chart Madness

For you hardcore weather bugs, WeatherSpark is sheer chart overload! > click for interactive weather madness! (note the buy and sell patterns!) hat tip Flowing Data

Category: Digital Media, Science

UN: Radiation to Hit U.S. By Friday

Washington’s Blog strives to provide real-time, well-researched and actionable information.  George – the head writer at Washington’s Blog – is a busy professional and a former adjunct professor. ~~~ The New York Times notes: A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across…Read More

Category: Energy, Science, Think Tank

When Plates Collide

Informative eye candy from Good about the various earthquake danger zones. > click for ginormous graphic >

Category: Digital Media, Science

Japan Quake: Interactive Before and After Satellite Photos

Amazing before and after photos via German news magazine Spiegel of numerous Japanese towns and cities. (Can anyone translate the headline/sub hed for me, or point to an English language version?) In the interactive version, you can grab a slider and run it across the full photo: > click for interactive version Hat tip Edward…Read More

Category: Digital Media, Science

Nuclear Physicist on Japan Crisis

Nuclear physicist Kirby Kemper gives us his assessment of the Japan nuclear crisis, including the likelihood of a meltdown and radiation risks. Plus, why global markets are off sharply today after Japan’s Nikkei average tumbled more than 10 percent.

Category: Science, Video

Interactive Graphics on Earthquakes, Nuclear Accident

The MSM has a series of terrific interactive charts, maps and animations: Let’s start with the WSJ‘s Pacific/Australian tectonic plates. Note how many major earthquakes have occurred in this region. click for larger chart, go here for article and interactive graphic > Next up is the NYT, which first looks at both how reactors work:…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Financial Press, Science