Friday, April 01, 2011

Owning Up

There is some bad news for the Japanese people.

According to the Mainichi newspaper Japan's government plans to take control of Tokyo Electric Power Co , the operator of a stricken nuclear power plant, by injecting public funds. However, it appears that Japan has learned a thing or two from Tim Geithner and the concept of partially pregnant: " But the government is unlikely to take more than a 50 percent stake in the company, an unnamed government official was quoted by the daily as saying. "If the stake goes over 50 percent, it will be nationalised. But that's not what we are considering," the official was quoted by the paper as saying."
And that is the problem I have with nuclear power. The profits are privatized and the losses are socialized. By design in America.
The Act establishes a no fault insurance-type system in which the first approximately $12.6 billion (as of 2011) is industry-funded as described in the Act. Any claims above the $12.6 billion would be covered by a Congressional mandate to retroactively increase nuclear utility liability or would be covered by the federal government. At the time of the Act's passing, it was considered necessary as an incentive for the private production of nuclear power — this was because electric utilities viewed the available liability coverage (only $60 million) as inadequate.
So what is the range of potential losses from the accident? Some think as little as $12 billion will cover the losses so far. Others think the numbers will be quite a bit higher.
The company could face compensation claims topping $130 billion if the nuclear crisis drags on, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch estimated this week, further fuelling expectations the government would step in to save Asia's largest utility.
Evidently things are dragging on.
A radioactive substance about 10,000 times the limit was detected from groundwater around the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday.

A Tokyo Electric official said the radiation level is ''extremely high.''
Note that the ratio is no longer with "normal" but it is now with the "limit" which will be quite a bit higher. That is quite a problem. And the fact that it is surface water says that the levels are probably high for a rather large area. If this means they can't keep people on site...... Oh. S**t.

And the problem is with radioactive iodine.
More signs of serious radiation contamination in and near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were detected Thursday, with the latest data finding groundwater containing radioactive iodine 10,000 times the legal threshold and the concentration of radioactive iodine-131 in nearby seawater rising to the highest level yet.

Radioactive material was confirmed from groundwater for the first time since the March 11 quake and tsunami hit the nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast, knocking out the reactors’ key cooling functions. An official of the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said, ‘‘We’re aware this is an extremely high figure.’‘
The radioactive iodine is an indication that debris from reactor #1 has gone critical. But it is not definitive since Iodine 131 has an 8 day half life. A shorter lived isotope (detected previously) would give a better indication. And a Cesium report would be good to get some idea of long term problems.

In any case it is rather obvious that TEPCO is not up to the job.
A series of missteps and mistakes, combined with scant signs of leadership, have undermined confidence in the company.
No kidding.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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