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#219640 - 03/18/11 10:47 AM "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
A capsulation of potential mega-disasters from east and west coast earthquakes, EMP, California's ARKStorm scenario.....

My friends who read this article will find it familiar.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/j...ry.html?hpid=z1


Japan’s ‘black swan’: Scientists ponder the unparalleled dangers of unlikely disasters


The next big disaster could be something off the radar of most Americans. A solar flare, for example, could trigger a geomagnetic storm that could knock out much of the nation’s power grid. Or an earthquake could hit an East Coast city not generally considered vulnerable to a major temblor. That sounds like paranoia, but mainstream scientists and government officials research such things.




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#219644 - 03/18/11 11:51 AM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5212
Loc: SOCAL
Hmmmm, was this really a black swan? Both strong earthquakes and tsunamis have been hitting Japan for eons, that a strong earthquake could trigger a very powerful tsunami is simply "A" followed by "B". We're now watching Japan struggle with "C". They knew strong earthquakes could happen and that a powerful tsunami could follow. This should not be considered a black swan.

Faked testing reports on back up cooling for a group of nuclear reactors? Back-up diesel generators sitting by the ocean that can't handle a tsunami. Somewhere in the inadequate back-up design and faked reports is the black swan.

Compare Fukushima to San Onofre sitting between San Diego and Los Angeles (near Camp Pendleton) on the Pacific coast -- Earthquake? Tsunami? It's time to test the back-up systems. . .

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#219649 - 03/18/11 01:12 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Russ]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5212
Loc: SOCAL
After reading:
Originally Posted By: Dagny

Looks like it was less a failure of imagination than a dearth of responsible regulation and ineffectual oversight.


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-17...-accidents.html


Japan Nuclear Disaster Caps Decades of Faked Reports

By Jason Clenfield - Mar 18, 2011 4:52 AM ET

The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan’s atomic power industry.



I think the Black Swan label to this nuclear accident is totally inappropriate.

Quote:
. . .Back-up diesel generators that might have averted the disaster were positioned in a basement, where they were overwhelmed by waves.. . .
Now really, which rocket scientist came up with that idea and didn't think "tsunami"?

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#219663 - 03/18/11 02:48 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Russ]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Russ
They knew strong earthquakes could happen and that a powerful tsunami could follow. This should not be considered a black swan.

This quake and tsunami were far more powerful than anything in Japanese recorded history (which goes back far, far longer than our young nation's history). Should they have anticipated something so devastating? And it's not like the engineers had NO clue that tsunamis were something to consider.

Let's consider another event. Was 9/11 and the collapse of the Twin Towers a black swan event? The Empire State building was designed to survive aircraft strikes and so was the WTC according to sites like this. It was designed to survive being hit by a jetliner. Does that fact make what actually happened in real life any less unexpected and surprising, i.e. a black swan event?

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#219665 - 03/18/11 02:55 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Arney]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I just ran across this and it seemed appropriate to add this to the mix. I don't have a link for the original report of this, but over at the Reuters blog, this was shocking to me:
Quote:
Last Friday's tsunami generated waves at least 23m (76ft) high, according to a study by the Port and Airport Research Institute in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, the Yomiuri daily newspaper reports.

Is there any structure in the world designed with 75 foot tsunamis in mind? Now, I don't know if it was 75 ft at Fukushima Daiichi, but it's an indication of how incredibly beyond anyone's expectations this event was.

Edit: Before anyone is incredulous about that 76 foot figure, I'm pretty sure that these guys are not saying that the tsunami was 76 feet high when it first came onshore like in some Hollywood movie. I'm guessing that what they're saying is due to the moutainous topography and valleys and just the sheer power of the disruption that spawned it, the water was squeezed that high above sea level. That's probably also why it pushed 6 miles inland in some places. In any case, the tsunami was shockingly large even for scientists who study them.


Edited by Arney (03/18/11 03:07 PM)

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#219666 - 03/18/11 02:55 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Russ]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
Well, at the least, when the final investigation report eventually comes out it should make interesting reading.

It appears to me that this incident would have been caused by the tsunami alone. At some point you have to choose an arbitrary level to design to. I imagine this plant was designed to withstand a tsunami of level Y (100 year tsunami?) and this was just one of level Y+epsilon.
_________________________
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

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#219669 - 03/18/11 03:22 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Arney]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5212
Loc: SOCAL
Again:
Quote:
. . .Back-up diesel generators that might have averted the disaster were positioned in a basement, where they were overwhelmed by waves.. . .
The nuclear reactors survived the quake and mostly survived the tsunami . . . except for that little back-up diesel generator glitch . . .

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#219670 - 03/18/11 03:25 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
I gather the phrase "Black Swan" refers to events unimagined or given no credence by the general populace.

"...black swans: calamities from out of the blue, terrible and strange."


For those oblivious to the notion of preparedness, the power outage caused by a tree falling on a local power line could be that individual's Black Swan. Or the legions this winter caught for hours in massive traffic jams during snowstorms.

With 9/11 fading in the rearview, I count many of my friends and colleagues among those who've given little or no thought in years, or ever, to the possibility of a mass event impacting their everyday existence.

People hear that something only happens every 300 years or 1000 years and conclude it's not going to happen in their lifetimes and so they put it out of mind and do nothing to prepare.

I'm absolutely certain that DC will be hit by some significant terrorist attack, someday. Yet I wake up every morning and assume it won't happen today. Certainly not in the next hour. Otherwise I'd run my car up to the gas station right now and top off the tank (currently at 3/4).

I'm trying to light a fire (so to speak) under some friends and family in the PNW with, at best, minimal effect.

So they've got this Black Swan article in their inboxes....



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#219672 - 03/18/11 03:27 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: thseng]
desolation Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 60
Loc: Sonoma County, CA
Originally Posted By: thseng
At some point you have to choose an arbitrary level to design to. I imagine this plant was designed to withstand a tsunami of level Y (100 year tsunami?) and this was just one of level Y+epsilon.


Yes. However, it's problematic to set such a low design threshold (100-year event) when the facility will be housing radioactive waste capable of poisoning the environment for generations (1000-year event). It seems like we need much more robust design for this type of critical infrastructure if we intend to use it.

(I don' mean to suggest you were saying this was an appropriate design threshold.)

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#219679 - 03/18/11 04:16 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: desolation]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
I agree that the design could stand to be a tad more robust. I understand that later generations of this reactor include a gravity-fed emergency cooling system, for instance - probably a very, very good idea.
_________________________
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

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#219680 - 03/18/11 04:16 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

The Fukushima nuclear reactor plant event, which appears to have lost its backup power supply because it was impacted by a Tsunami isn't just restricted to Japan. Take for example the 4 reactors (2 working and 2 planned) in Florida at Turkey Point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_Point_Nuclear_Generating_Station

A similar result could occur if the site was hit by a Tsunami.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lwAt-Wg3uI

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#219744 - 03/18/11 10:22 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Dagny]
capsu78 Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/09/07
Posts: 98
Loc: Chicagoland IL
I am considering it a "Grey Swan" event... Everyone could see the spinning plates, but the "risk assessment" of this perfect storm of events were approaching the "What if Godzilla came up out of the Sea of Japan, an stepped on the emergency generators while getting caught up in the high tension wires.
Every Japanese contingency planner knows things would turn out badly if that happened, but what were the chances/ alternatives???
_________________________
"The last time I had a "good suprise", I was 5 and it was my birthday"

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#219748 - 03/18/11 11:19 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: Dagny]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Don't know if this has been posted elsewhere, but at this link there's a remarkable sound recording of the main quake from an underground monitoring device.

Below that is a video I hadn't seen that's another stunning view of the water pouring into a town.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110318/ts_yblog_thelookout/listen-to-japans-massive-quake

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#219749 - 03/18/11 11:20 PM Re: "Black Swan" - Peril of Mega-Disasters [Re: capsu78]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3193
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: capsu78
Every Japanese contingency planner knows things would turn out badly if that happened, but what were the chances/ alternatives???


A lot of things went right. If they'd set the backup diesel generators up in a more tsunami-resistant way, there wouldn't be much of a story.

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