Daily Archives: March 21, 2011

A Young River in an Old Valley

The Red River in Minnesota flows backwards in its channel, in a northerly direction. Its course is backwards not because it’s going north (many people in America do think that rivers flow south), but rather, because its channel is part of a larger channel that historically carried more water than any other river on this planet has ever carried. This was the Warren River, which emptied Lake Agassiz (the largest fresh water lake ever) via the Red River Valley, then on to the Minnesota River Valley, then to the Mighty Mississippi. Much mightier then.

Now, the Red River flows north into Lake Winnipeg, which ultimately links to Hudson Bay. It forms the border between North Dakota and Minnesota, passing by Fargo (the very same Fargo that had nothing to do with the Coen brothers’ film of the same name). This region gets a lot of snow some years, and when there is a lot of snow and a quick warm-up in the spring, the river carries quite a bit of extra water. This happens often enough that it is rarely a surprise but nothing close to every year. The flooding, in turn, often causes a great deal of property damage and threatens people’s well being.

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(Originally posted at Quiche Moraine)

An outstanding example of Authority, Conspiracy Theory, and Confirmation Bias

Former USGS geologist Jim Berkland links tides, whale beaching, magnetic fields, lunar cycles, earthquakes, and stuff to predict that there will be a major earthquake on the North American west coast between March 19th and March 26th.

The following video is rather mixed up but it will amuse you:
Continue reading An outstanding example of Authority, Conspiracy Theory, and Confirmation Bias

Fukushima smokes, steams, puts self out again.

There are new fires at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plants. There was a fire on the roof of Reactor Unit 3. It burned for several hours causing workers to pull out of the area to have radiation levels tested. The radiatoi levels did not, however, change. About 6:00 PM local time fire went out (on its own) something like steam or smoke (said by TEPCO to be most likely steam but not from the fuel storage pool) started coming out of the building housing Reactor 2. There is no explanation at this time for either incident.

Both reactor buildings were damaged by the same hydrogen explosion (in Reactor 3’s building) soon after the quake and tsunami.

Reactor 3 has had problems with its fuel storage pool which contains some fuel rods with the somewhat more dangerous “MOX” fule. Reactor 2 is thought to have suffered a partial meltdown in the core.

Reactor 2 hasn’t been mentioned much in the news. Some time after the aforementioned damage, there was a second explosion heard somewhere in the vicinity of the reactor containment vessel.

The fire department has stopped spraying water on the plants for the day, and will await a safety reassessment.

Continue reading Fukushima smokes, steams, puts self out again.

Japan quake, tsunami, nuke news 06

Continued from here

Ana’s feed starting Friday 8 PM

TEPCO has raised the occupational limit of radiation for its workers to 150mSv/hr. Some workers have already been exposed in excess the old limit of 100mSv/hr. Workers who have been exposed to the limit will not be sent back in. -NHK morning broadcast


Those in the 20-30km evacuation zone have been advised that if they need to move, they should do so in vehicles, rather than on foot, they should cover their mouths, cover their bodies, and stay out of the rain. This new advisory was issued when it was learned that people thought they could not leave their homes. – NHK

Kyodo news, breaking: Spinach near nuke plant found with high radiation levels: gov’t official 15:13 … Radiation-contaminated spinach poses no immediate health risk: official 15:20 … Edano to talk about contaminated food issue around 4 p.m.: vice minister 15:25 …

Notes on water-spraying: 100 additional firefighters have been brought into the rotation. As of today, 60 tons of water have been sprayed at reactor no.3 – much of it is assumed to have evaporated already. In order to beat the evaporation curve, a 7 hour shift must be completed. … The batteries of the water-cannon truck have been depleted – it is now drawing energy from the US pump truck which has “very strong batteries.” … A new vehicle, made in Germany and used for high-pressure concrete spraying, is on the way. It is the same type as was used at Chernobyl. … (all above from NHK midday broadcast)

Edano presser: “I should mention milk and spinach.” … n Fuk. Pref. at 5:30pm yesterday, emergency monitoring detected high levels of radiation in milk production. This morning, 11am, in Ibaraki Pref., enviro. monitoring center detected high radiation levels in 6 samples of spinach. In both cases, amounts exceed the limit stipulated in health safety law. … The ministry of health instructed that investigations should be conducted as to whether these products have been transported. … A task force will collect data and send it to ministries to decide if limitations are necessary. … If consumed for a year, total radiation taken into the body would be equal to a CT scan. If consumed for a lifetime, this may cause a health hazard. But only if consumed over a lifetime, “so I ask for your calm behaviors.” …

Details on contaminated food samples:

  • Milk samples were taken from Kawamata, just outside the 30km evacuation zone. All samples contained iodine 131, at 3-7.5 times the health standard of 300 becquerel.
  • Spinach samples were taken from 80-100km to the south of the Daiichi plant.
  • Cesium 137 was found in one of the samples.
  • TEPCO apologizes for high radiation levels in some food.
  • Also, traces of radioactive iodine were found in tap water in and around Tokyo.
  • Correction: Iodine 131 found 3-5 times over the limit in milk, 3-7.5 times the limit in spinach.
  • (NHK evening broadcast)

(Ana’s Feed is a collection of Analiese Miller’s facebook status entries posted as she takes in the news live in Japan.)

News and blog Links:

Continue reading Japan quake, tsunami, nuke news 06

The Story of Nuclear Boy

So that Japanese children can be traumatized by the Fukushima in a more appropriately Freudian way and never really learn to love properly:

Personally, I think this would be more accurate if Nuclear Boy was sitting next to three or four Diaper Genies on fire.

See also this post at Class:M … “At first glance, the cartoon does an exemplary job explaining the situation to Japanese schoolchildren too young to understand half-lives and the role of water as a coolant and moderator in boiling-water reactors. But there’s a gaping omission right at the beginning….

Hat Tip Ana and The Intersection.