Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Japanese Scientist Explains The Fukashima Crisis

I just got this email from my friend Dr. Hogetsu in Kobe Japan. He explains the crisis and events at the Fukashima nuclear plant. I want to thank Dr. Hogestu for his contribution to Green Explored. This is a very trying time for the Japanese people and we should all pay our respects to those who died, those who were injured, those who became homeless, and the whole country that grieves.

Here is Dr. Hogetsu's email to me

Nuclear Power Generation and Tsunami

The North East Japan was devastated by triple tragedies of earth quake, tsunami, and radioactive contamination. One of the serious problems is collapse of nuclear reactor and auxiliary facilities by tsunami.

A lot of people say that tsunami this time betrayed human expectation. However Asahi News Paper dated March 25, 2011 disclosed that gigantic tsunami had been pointed out by Mr. Okamura, the Active Fault and Earthquake Research Center (AFERC) of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) at the meeting of Reviewing Credibility of Aged Nuclear Power Plant against Earthquake held by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in September, 2009.

His warning was based on two evidences of (1) an ancient writing told huge tsunami had devastated the same area in 869, (2) AIST found the trace of muddy soil in the same area from several kilometers from sea coast, which was washed out by huge tsunami from sea in around 1,500. These triggered to study how to strengthen the safety measures of nuclear power plant for tsunami and the Seismic Research Committee of Japanese Government watch dog started the survey. However, industrial companies involved in nuclear power generation business persuaded government not to revise the safety standard in order not to be interrupted the contracts under the construction rush of nuclear power station.

Of course there were nuclear power plants which followed AIST advice. Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant of Tohoku Electric Power Plant which is located 120 km north from Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Plant (TEPCO) wasn’t broken by tsunami this time because this power plant provided seawall with 9.1 m. On the other hand Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant of TEPCO has seawall with only 5.4 m. The tsunami this time exceeded 3 times higher of this seawall.

The electricity is indispensable for industries and our life style being used to electrification so that the countries like Japan without energy sources of oil, coal and gas have to keep the nuclear power plant from now on. The safety measures should be learned with sincere attitude from this disaster and then the necessary money should be invested in the safety measures both hardware and system, which is a wisdom of human beings, I think. The lost money this time exceeds not only several thousand times of these safety measures but also will cause a lot of causalities.

It is not accepted for me that a lot of people are saying only “ we are against nuclear power” . If against, alternative idea of energy sources shall be proposed and discussed its feasibility from the stand points of economics and environmental impacts.

March 29, 2011

Dr. Akihiko Hogetsu
Kobe International technologies


  1. For me, It is a question of the risk we the people who will be affected are willing to accept. As long as we use nuclear reactors to boil water to make steam to drive turbines to generate electricity, there will always be a risk of accidents, radioactive leaks, radiation poisoning and increased incidences of cancer. People will die. (Frankly I know there has got to be a simpler way to boil water, cleanly. We haven't put the same level of energy and resources into developing those kinds of technologies as we have into nuclear energy for private financial reasons and weapons development.)

    Are we willing to accept those risks to continue our current level of consumption/lifestyles?

    Do we wait till we can no longer extract oil and uranium cheaply enough?

  2. Watching the outcome of how the earthquake and tsunami affected Japan, George Monbiot, a well-known environmentalist and columnist for the Guardian, says he's convinced that nuclear is better than coal. He contends, and I agree, that coal-fired power is the most likely alternative to nuclear power, especially in countries like China. He asks those who are opposed to nuclear power to look at the number of deaths from Fukushima, which has to be seen as a worst-case scenario, and compare that to the deaths associated with coal mining. Over 5,000 folks are killed every year in the mining of coal, not to mention the 10,000 to 15,000 new cases of "black lung" disease from mining. More renewable energy? Absolutely. More natural gas? Of course. But more coal instead of nuclear? Not so fast.


  3. Yeah Blair let us choose our poison, cyanide or strychnine? Of course we can simply wish we can have unlimited renewable fuels and that we have the money to pay the VCs and industrialists about a $1,000 as the marginal cost for each avoided ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Or we can get smart and simply use 15% less energy and pocket the negative avoided cost of carbon dioxide emissions. Thermodynamic idiots like George Monbiot who works for some Pommy newspaper that pretends to guard us should not be our guiding light. Mr. Mono Bio is the plankton of thermo.


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