Nuclear Talk With Ken Bergeron

Thanks to the resourcefulness of my readers, I received the personal phone number of Ken Bergeron within moments of requesting it. Ken is is a physicist and former Sandia scientist who worked on nuclear reactor accident simulation, and the author of Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power, published in October 2004 by the MIT Press. I reached Ken at 11 a.m. Japan time, Tuesday, March 15 and spoke to him for about 20 minutes. The following is my summary of what he told me.

The use of seawater to cool the reactors is unconventional, a last-ditch effort that will be seen in the coming days as either heroic or wrongheaded. We can’t know now, but it won’t be long before we do know.

He characterized the situation as being “extremely dangerous” but didn’t want to unnecessarily alarm people who cannot or will not leave the area. I pressed him nonetheless on the primary risks and what the worst-case scenario would entail.

The biggest risk is that the containment vessel is destroyed or compromised, releasing a radioactive cloud that makes its way high into the atmosphere. Eastbound prevailing winds should carry most of the cloud to sea, but the worry is that the wind will shift south and move the oval-shaped plume into Metropolitan Tokyo. Then, if it began to rain, the worst-case would have developed because radioactivity would rain down upon millions of people. Unfortunately, it’s overcast now and threatening rain around Tokyo.

In the case of radioactive rain, the concern is not the radiation itself, which would be weak, but rather the radioactive chemicals making their way inside people’s bodies and then being assimilated into bones and tissue. It’s very hard to get rid of them. Assimilation is how small quantities of radioactive material can cause a long-term probability of cancer. People would not be getting radiation sickness and falling down in streets and stairwells. The damage would be of a slower-moving variety, but one that could prove to be as devastating over time as the more dramatic death toll we’ve already witnessed from the earthquake and tsunami.

If the containment vessel is breached, the knowledge will be public immediately and citizens will be provided with information on how to protect themselves from radioactive chemicals. The basic procedure is to remain indoors with as tight a seal as possible over vents and other entrances, and keep the home free of dust and other particulates. Now is a good time to stock up on water and other survival goods to facilitate staying indoors for an extended period of time. Nobody knows how extended. I suggest filling a bathtub and other containers with clean water immediately.

Ken wanted to make clear that the likelihood of the worst-case developing is low. The most likely outcome is that the containment vessel remains intact and life continues normally with no long-term consequences. Within a few days, we’ll know and will probably be looking back on these times with great relief. Regarding the container, we’re facing a binary outcome, go or no-go. Either it remains intact and the radioactivity is contained, or it doesn’t and the radioactivity is released.

Ken suggested that we count ourselves lucky that this is not happening in Moscow or another place less capable of handling the crisis, or somewhere with a population less civil than Japan’s.

Thank you to Dutch for sending me Ken’s contact info in the blink of an eye, and to Ken for taking time to offer this insight and allowing me to share it publicly. If any other authorities on the subject have something to add, please use the comment section below to do so and be sure to include your qualifications so we know why we should trust your information. That’s very important to those of us here now. No hyperbole, please.

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  1. Dennis LeGear
    Posted March 18, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    Get this to Ken Bergeron

    We delivered to FDNY three Liquid trans pumps which are floating hydraulic pumps. Along with these pumps is 12 miles of 6” x 100’ rubber covered hose. Each pump is capable of 3000 GPM for a total on 9000 gallons. I don’t know if anyone has asked FDNY but the pumps are small enough for transport by air the total weight is under 4000 pounds each. We have at Key 60,000’+ of 6”x 660’ hose we can provide uncoupled or coupled to support the pumps operation. We also can deliver within a week 4000 pieces of 5” coupled Storz 100’ long.

    I also believe in China there is 30,000’ of 12” used for the support of the Olympics. How it is coupled or if it is still there I don’t know.

    President Key Fire

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    Date: Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 4:35 AM
    Subject: Fwd: Solution Read Please Re: Nuclear meltdown

    ——– Original Message ——–


    Solution Read Please Re: Nuclear meltdown


    Thu, 17 Mar 2011 01:33:39 -0700



    Red line is only 1500 feet…..I think this is very possible using your fire-boats and the proper hose and some helicopters

    On 3/17/2011 12:30 AM, Dennis wrote:

    Subject: Japanese Nuclear Meltdown Solution regarding water supply issue.

    I am not sure who to contact, but I thought this would be the quickest way. I am a sort of water supply geek (google me) and have written on the subject matter, especially regarding the emergency need to move large amounts of water quickly by pumps. The above web-site shows the system that I think would work best for the nuclear incident in Japan. I believe the department of homeland security funded two systems to protect New Jersey’s refinery infrastructure after 9/11/01. I have some very specific ideas on how it could be deployed in a hot zone…with out going in details I believe it could be done. Williams fire control would be the best company to contact (In case of emergency call 409-727-2347 or 281-999-0276) for logistics and rapid response and set-up along with Kidde and possibly myself.

    I picture the below set up on a barge in front of the reactors, the hose on reels with attached nozzles lifted to the proper place by helicopter. Then start the pumps to flood the effected area.

  2. Vicki Kilborn
    Posted March 18, 2011 at 3:26 am | Permalink

    Would it be possible to quickly come up with a very long bucket or attach a wide hose to the existing bucket that the Japanese are using to deliver water to the Fukushimo Nuclear Reactor?

  3. Posted March 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Posted March 16, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    do your research better! this guy is full of shit! a “no nuke” liberal!
    lets power the country only on sunny and windy days,makes alot of sense!?!

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