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Fukushima

  1. Science

    Fukushima’s Radioactive Water to Hit United States Shores Soon, Probably Won’t Make You the Hulk

    "Hey, there's radioactive water coming to your shores," only sounds like good news if you're looking for a really bizarre new origin story for Aquaman. Luckily, it's not terrible news, either. At least in the case of the water from the Fukushima nuclear plant mishap, it's not, because it looks like the water is within safety standards.

    Read on...
  2. Science

    Radiation From Fukushima Could Help Solve the Mystery of Bluefin Tuna Migration

    A team of researchers is making the best of a bad situation and trying to use the lasting effects of radiation at Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor to help environmental conservation efforts. In the years since the meltdown, marine biologists have found traces of radiation from the meltdown in bluefin tuna as far afield as California. That radiation, though, could help marine biologists map the ill-understood migration routes of the tuna. That better understanding of the life cycle and habits of the bluefin could be brought to bear in efforts to protect the valuable food fish from overfishing, a growing concern for pretty much every tuna species.

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  3. Science

    Japan Plans To Replace Fukushima Reactor With World’s Largest Wind Farm

    After the 2011 disaster that shut down it's main reactor, Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant simply isn't going to make a comeback. Like several other reactors across the island nation, it's been shuttered and will likely remain so, leaving authorities there with a problem -- how do they continue to provide the energy that the plant once produced and that residents in the region depend on? This week, we got their answer: rather than reopening the nuclear plant, Japan is looking off their shores, announcing plans for a massive wind farm ten miles off the coast of the area affected by the Fukushima reactor meltdown.

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  4. Tech

    Shut it Down: Japanese Nuclear Reactor On Top Of Active Seismic Fault Will Not Be Restarted

    Like most of Japan's nuclear power generators, the Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture has been shut down in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011. It looks like Tsuruga will never get the new lease on life some were hoping to see for it, though, as recent geological research suggests that the seismic fault the plant sits atop is an active one. That likely means that the two reactors on the site, rather than being restarted, will instead have to be scrapped.

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  5. Science

    23 Nuclear Power Plants are Potential Fukushimas

    Researchers issued a warning that the meltdown seen at the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan two years ago could be far from an isolated incident. Around the world, 23 nuclear power plants housing a grand total of 74 nuclear reactors are situated in areas that are at risk of suffering a tsunami like the one that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, says a study published today in the journal Natural Hazards.

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  6. Science

    Fukushima Site Producing Mutated Butterflies

    Today's reminder that nuclear accidents stay with us much, much longer than we might care to remember them: Butterflies in the vicinity of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan are mutating. A study published online last week in the journal Science Reports found that pale blue grass butterflies are common in much of Asia, but those born near the site of the meltdown are coming into the world with severe physical deformities. Mutations have been found in 12% of the specimens examined by researchers at the University of the Ryukyus in nearby Okinawa. While some of the mutations, like unusual spotting patterns on wings, are mostly innocuous, others are more severe, ranging from forked antennae, to twisted legs, to bent and useless wings. Some are suffering from mutations that leave them unable to even leave their cocoons.

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  7. Science

    Japanese Innovation Could Make Wind Power Cheaper Than Nuclear

    After the damage caused by the Fukushima disaster, it only makes sense that Japan turn its resources to trying to find another efficient form of clean energy besides nuclear. Research into wind turbine development may have lead to a solution with stunning potential. Wind lenses, brims that go around the outside of a turbine's blades, can double or even triple the turbine's power output, bringing wind farms in line with the efficiency and output of nuclear power, without the danger of a meltdown.

    The wind lens was developed at Kyushu University, where prototypes are already in use. The wind lense works by creating a pocket of low pressure in front of the turbine. As a result, air rushes to the low pressure point, conveniently enough, right through the turbine, increasing the speed of the turbine and ultimately, the amount of power that is put out.

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  8. Science

    Germany Plans to Shut Down All Nuclear Reactors by 2022

    The German ruling coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced its intent to shut down all nuclear reactors in Germany by 2022, a major decision for a country that as of last year obtained 23% of its electricity from nuclear plants. While this policy decision was precipitated by the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima following the tsunami and earthquake in March, it's long been the subject of political struggle in Germany, with the country's left-wing and environmentalist parties pushing for a nuclear phaseout well before Fukushima. So where will that new energy come from? Merkel and her allies say that Germany will cut energy consumption while increasing renewable fuel sources, while skeptics say that Germany will simply import energy from elsewhere:

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  9. Science

    TEPCO Releases Photos of Fukushima Nuclear Plant on Day of Tsunami Impact

    TEPCO, the beleaguered energy company that owns the Fukushima nuclear plant that experienced a meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11th, has for the first time released photos of the plant the day it was hit by the tsunami. The photographs present a scene of great chaos and destruction: However, recent evidence suggests that the plant's nuclear reactors may have been critically damaged by the earthquake which occurred hours before the tsunami hit. More photos:

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  10. Science

    Price of Potassium Iodide Pills Skyrockets on Nuclear Contamination Fears

    Potassium iodide (KI) is recommended during nuclear emergencies because it floods the radioactivity-sensitive thyroid glands with "good" iodine, blocking contaminated iodine from entry. As troubles continue at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, it has had a curious effect on the price of potassium iodide tablets everywhere: Normally $10 for a packet of 14 pills, they've been bid up as high as $540 a packet due to fears of nuclear contamination. Huliq:

    With 127 million people in the country of Japan, which is smaller in area than the state of California, there is not enough of the iodine pills to go around. The suppliers of these pills report that getting the shipments of iodine to the area is hampered by the condition of the roads, railways, and airports. One major supplier, Anbex, is out of stock and will not have more of these pills manufactured and ready for shipment until April 18th. This is not a pill most pharmacies and hospitals keep in stock and it is an over the counter drug, according to The Wall Street Journal. It is not only Japan were the rush is on to obtain iodine pills, other countries, such as Russia, is seeing residents buying up the iodine pills. This morning the CBC is reporting that “British Columbians spooked by ongoing explosions at Japan’s power plants has prompted a run on pharmacies, in hopes of boosting immunity to any potential radiation drift.” The government and health officials are encouraging people to stand down from stock piling the potassium iodide, saying no health risks exist.
    Though the $540/packet figure is definitely on the high end, David Tufte calculates what that means in terms of inflation:
    That is a 5,300% increase in the space of 5 days. Annualized, that is 3 x 10126%. Yes, that’s scientific notation. Here’s the rate written out: 2, 915, 710, 944, 820, 310, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000%. Is this the highest inflation rate ever? ‡ Believe it or not, it is only the penultimate inflation rate. It’s more digestible to convert this into a daily inflation rate, which would be 122%. That rate is higher than that in Zimbabwe a few years ago, but it still falls short of Hungary in 1946.
    (Huliq via Marginal Revolution.)

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