Three and a half years after the most devastating nuclear accident in a generation, Fukushima Daiichi is still in crisis. Some 6,000 workers, somehow going about their jobs despite the suffocating gear they must wear for hours at a time, struggle to contain the damage. So much radiation still pulses inside the crippled reactor cores that no one has been able to get close enough to survey the full extent of the destruction
26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico and 2,150 feet underground, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
(WIPP) brings new meaning to the phrase "built to last". The world's third deep geological nuclear waste repository, WIPP was designed to house radioactive material for 10,000 years.
The primary challenge (keeping hazardous waste IN) was tackled by engineers. But for the secondary challenge - keeping living creatures OUT - the goverment recruited a team of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers. The job description included the words "the knowledge necessary to develop a marker system that will remain in operation during the performance period of the site - 10,000 years"
. Stymied by inevitable linguistic and orthographic drift
, the group has discussed a wide array of ideas, some more fabulously demented
than others (artificial moons, a nuclear containment-centric priesthood, a landscape of massive granite thorns). They intend to submit their final plan by 2028. [more inside]
wants to better inform Colorado residents about the history of the Rocky Flats Plutonium processing facility and recommends this brief YouTube documentary
as an introductory primer. [more inside]
Swimming on the Hot Side:
An elite team of nuclear divers are risking their lives to help save a troubled industry.
The Life of a Nuclear Diver
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power
"A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High"
by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan
magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously
How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race
. The excellent Modern Mechanix
brings us Mechanix Illustrated's uninformed 1953 article on the effects of nuclear fallout.
But why, then, don't we have our superintelligent bobblehead beagles?
A Review of Criticality Accidents (3.7 MB pdf)
Do you like reading comp.risks
, or CVR transcripts
from famous plane crashes? Then you may enjoy this technical analysis of 60 accidents where improper handling of fissile materials led to unexpected critical mass. [more inside]
Jonathan Golob at Dear Science.org
has a series of posts up about nuclear power
. Topics include: The physics
behind nuclear power, the inner workings of a reactor
, nuclear radiation
, nuclear waste
, the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl
, and the future
of nuclear power.
Also in a truncated podcast
form. [more inside]
is now understood
to have many medical consequences
unique to its modern application as munitions
, due to its incendiary, aerosolizing behavior
when pulverized. (Rosalie Bertell explains
, youtube) It has become a leading candidate for the cause
of Gulf War syndrome, and was associated with massive increases in cancer and birth defects in Basra
. The EU has called for a moratorium
on its use four times, and WHO is deeply concerned
with its consequences, but the USA (with Canadian complicity
) and Russia continue to use it in Iraq and elsewhere. (prev: 1 2 3 4 5
"From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were dug and blasted from Navajo soil, nearly all of it for America's atomic arsenal. Navajos inhaled radioactive dust, drank contaminated water and built homes using rock from the mines and mills. Many of the dangers persist to this day." A series of articles and photo galleries examines the legacy
of uranium mining
on the Navajo
(previously discussed here
.) [Via Gristmill, BugMeNot.]
Three Mile Island -
a study in bad human interface design
. Chernobyl in text
, pictures (posted previously)
, and eyewitness accounts
. Those are two of the most famous incidents involving mishaps with radioactive material. There have been many more (see also) including suicides
and motives forever unknown
. But US citizens need not worry - the NRC
is on it
. What do you know about radiation poisoning? Take the test
Need a power source for your electric car
Be careful building a nuclear power
in your back yard
, or you could be the center of the next suburban
And it is perhaps best that he does not work on the ship's eight reactors, for EPA scientists worry that his previous exposure to radioactivity may have greatly cut short his life. All the radioactive materials he experimented with can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact and then deposit in the bones and organs, where they can cause a host of ailments, including cancer.
Nuclear power for the home...
A group of woodcutters found an object that had melted the surrounding snow, so they drag it back home to warm the camp unfortunately turns out it was jam packed full of Strontium90...
Of the three ways in which the A-Bomb can hurt you, RADIATION IS THE LEAST HARMFUL.
An earlier post
reminded me of this pamphlet from the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency. Not as much fun as Duck & Cover, to be sure, but terribly earnest. Remember: Stay down for at least one minute.