How things work

A great letter in today’s Cape Times from John Walmsley of the Nuclear Institute rebuffing the concerns of opponents to nuclear power in the wake of the troubles at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan.

I’m trying to get hold of the full text, but there was one thing which I found particularly pertinent, especially while the fracking debate continues on this post.

This quote from the letter:

The anti-nuclear lobby will make alarming public pronouncements that will be quietly trashed by professional health organisations in the technical literature.

Brilliant. Because isn’t this the problem? It was the problem with MMR, where the experts repeatedly stated that there was no link to autism, but the anti-vax groups preyed on the public’s fear and exacerbated the effect of Andrew Wakefield’s lies.

And it still exists with the anti-fracking parties spreading fear through emotionally-laden misinformation to advance their cause.
It closes minds and it means that the real information – the important, factual information – is hidden from the general public. Which, of course, is the aim of these people.

In some ways, analogies can be drawn to the issue that troubles me around the media and their inaccuracies: namely that they can shout about a subject  on the front page – however inaccurate their claims may be – often igniting a bitter, yet worthless debate based on nonsense, but then get away with publishing a tiny correction at the bottom of page 19 two weeks later.

No boom boom

After the recent events in Japan – most notably the er… “issues” at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility following the earthquake – the public in Cape Town and surrounds has been warned not to panic if they see steam apparently leaking from the Koeberg Power Station just up the road from the city.

The public are advised not to be alarmed at steam issuing from the Koeberg nuclear power station during the next few days.

“Given the events in Japan, we want to assure the public that perfectly clean steam will issue from next to the reactor during the routine shutdown,” spokesman Tony Stott says.

He says that this was part of the cool down process of unit two, which began on Monday at 1.30am.
The unit will take two to three days to cool down enough for it to be opened for workers to begin the refuelling, maintenance and inspections.

Stott went on to say that the shutdown would last around 55 days, during which Unit One would continue to operate at full power.

Let’s hope that this operation goes off (poor choice of expression, sorry) better than the tests Eskom ran at the Duvha Power Station (not nuclear), where a turbo generator apparently malfunctioned during an overspeed test, exploded and caught fire in our own little homage to Fukushima. You only have to look at the photos to see that this was a very big bang. Eina.

This has effectively shut down (probably permanently) the 600MW facility at Duvha and with one of Koeberg’s 900MW reactors out of commission for a couple of months, there’s going to be a lot more pressure on a grid which was under a lot of pressure anyway.

So it looks like we must save electricity or once again face load-shedding.
Please help and do your bit, because no-one likes being loadshod.