Letters 4 – 27 – 2011

Correction needed!  

In the Transcript from House Health Care Committee in Tuesday’s True North Reports, the introduction says that Dr. Till “calls out the assistant minority leader and others…”, etc. You should have said the assistant majority leader. In reading your report, one might think you were referring to Patti Komline.


Editor’s note: Thanks for catching that. Indeed, the representative Dr. Till was referring to was Democrat Majority Assistant Leader Willem Jewett (D-Ripton).


Some facts regarding the nuclear situation in Japan

The following may be of interest:

1. Some of the Fukushima-Daiichi plants have GE MK I Containments like many US plants.

True but irrelevant. Any nuclear power plant that loses all cooling ability for long enough will have damaged and melted fuel. The MK I is better than others because the reactor vessel is vented underwater. (Note: A Pebble Bed reactor has fuel that won’t melt when all forced cooling is absent, as tested in Germany years ago.

2. One of the Fukushima plants uses MOX fuel. (Mixed Oxide. Fresh fuel containing Uranium and Plutonium)

True but essentially irrelevant. The MOX fuel may make a small difference in the size of an evacuation zone, but pure Uranium fuel makes (breeds) Plutonium 239 and 240 as it is used. By the end of a fuel cycle up to 40% of the power may be from the Plutonium. (Plutonium 239 for weapons must be bred in specially designed reactors.

3. The plants in Japan are leaking radiation!

Meaningless unless the kinds and amounts are given. What is of importance is whether or not there is a health hazard. Burning coal and smoking tobacco releases radiation too. So do volcanoes and normally operating nuclear power plants. Bananas are radioactive.

4. The Japan plant situation is like Chernobyl.

Not true. There Chernobyl release was about ten times more than that in Japan. That accident was caused by Operators bypassing automatic safety shutdowns. The Soviet government did not notify people for three days.

The American Nuclear Society Public Information Committee prepared 12 Power Points in terms the public uses for the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. These apply in spite of the accident in Japan. Lessons will be learned from it. We know now that the tsunami was much higher than the design of the sea wall.



Howard Shaffer PE



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