The Government Spends Trillions On Unlikely Threats … But Won’t Spend a Billion Dollars to Prevent the Very Real Possibility of

George Washington's picture

Studies show that people are worry about the wrong things.

We are terrified of things that will probably never happen, and underestimate the real dangers which face us.

As we noted last year, the extreme vulnerability of nuclear power plants to solar flares is a very real threat which we must address:

Nasa scientists are predicting that a solar storm will knock out most of the electrical power grid in many countries worldwide, perhaps for months. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.


Indeed, the Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the sun’s most violent radiation, and yet the magnetic field fluctuates over time. As the Telegraph reported in 2008:

Large hole in magnetic field that protects Earth from sun’s rays … Recent satellite observations have revealed the largest breach yet seen in the magnetic field that protects Earth from most of the sun’s violent blasts.

I’m not predicting some 2012 Mayan catastrophe. [Indeed, I think the whole Mayan 2012 thing is fake.] I am simply warning that a large solar storm – as Nasa is predicting – could knock out power throughout much of the world, especially if the earth’s magnetic field happens to be weak at the time.


What would happen to nuclear power plants world wide if their power – and most of the surrounding modern infrastructure – is knocked out?


Nuclear power companies are notoriously cheap in trying to cut costs. If they are failing to harden their electrical components to protect against the predicted solar storm, they are asking for trouble … perhaps on a scale that dwarfs Fukushima. Because while Fukushima is the first nuclear accident to involve multiple reactors within the same complex, a large solar storm could cause accidents at multiple complexes in numerous countries.


If the nuclear power companies and governments continue to cut costs and take large gambles, the next nuclear accident could make Fukushima look tame.


I’m not saying this will happen in 2012, or 2013 (although Nasa appears to be hinting at this). But a large solar storm which knocks out electrical grids over wide portions of the planet will happen at some point in the future.


Don’t pretend it is unforeseeable. The nuclear power industry is on notice that it must spend the relatively small amounts of money

necessary to prevent a widespread meltdown from the loss of power due to a solar storm.




Most current reactors are of a similarly outdated design as the Fukushima reactors, where the cooling systems require electricity to operate, and huge amounts of spent radioactive fuel are housed on-site, requiring continuous cooling to prevent radioactive release. [Designs which would automatically shut down - and cool down - in the event of an accident are ignored for  political reasons.]

The head of the leading consulting firm on the effect of electromagnetic disruptions on our power grid – which was commissioned to study the issue by the U.S. federal government – stated that it would be relatively inexpensive to reduce the vulnerability of our power grid:

What we’re proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers’ ground connections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid.




We think it’s do-able for $40,000 or less per resistor. That’s less than what you pay for insurance for a transformer.




If you’re talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We’re talking about $150 million or so. It’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Mechanical engineer Matthew Stein does a good job of reporting on this issue today:

There are nearly 450 nuclear reactors in the world, with hundreds more being planned or under construction…. Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization and the planet’s ecosystems if we were to suddenly witness not just one or two nuclear meltdowns, but 400 or more! How likely is it that our world might experience an event that could ultimately cause hundreds of reactors to fail and melt down at approximately the same time? I venture to say that, unless we take significant protective measures, this apocalyptic scenario is not only possible, but probable.




In the past 152 years, Earth has been struck by roughly 100 solar storms, causing significant geomagnetic disturbances (GMD), two of which were powerful enough to rank as “extreme GMDs.” If an extreme GMD of such magnitude were to occur today, in all likelihood, it would initiate a chain of events leading to catastrophic failures at the vast majority of our world’s nuclear reactors, similar to but over 100 times worse than, the disasters at both Chernobyl and Fukushima.




The good news is that relatively affordable equipment and processes could be installed to protect critical components in the electric power grid and its nuclear reactors, thereby averting this “end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” scenario. The bad news is that even though panels of scientists and engineers have studied the problem, and the bipartisan Congressional electromagnetic pulse (EMP) commission has presented a list of specific recommendations to Congress, our leaders have yet to approve and implement any significant preventative measures.




Unfortunately, the world’s nuclear power plants, as they are currently designed, are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and fires in storage ponds for spent fuel rods.


If an extreme GMD were to cause widespread grid collapse (which it most certainly will), in as little as one or two hours after each nuclear reactor facility’s backup generators either fail to start, or run out of fuel, the reactor cores will start to melt down. After a few days without electricity to run the cooling system pumps, the water bath covering the spent fuel rods stored in “spent-fuel ponds” will boil away, allowing the stored fuel rods to melt down and burn [2]. Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently mandates that only one week’s supply of backup generator fuel needs to be stored at each reactor site, it is likely that, after we witness the spectacular nighttime celestial light show from the next extreme GMD, we will have about one week in which to prepare ourselves for Armageddon.


To do nothing is to behave like ostriches with our heads in the sand, blindly believing that “everything will be okay” as our world drifts towards the next natural, inevitable super solar storm and resultant extreme GMD. Such a storm would end the industrialized world as we know it, creating almost incalculable suffering, death and environmental destruction on a scale not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.




There are records from the 1850s to today of roughly 100 significant geomagnetic solar storms, two of which, in the last 25 years, were strong enough to cause millions of dollars worth of damage to key components that keep our modern grid powered.




“The Carrington Event,” raged from August 28 to September 4, 1859. This extreme GMD induced currents so powerful that telegraph lines, towers and stations caught on fire at a number of locations around the world. Best estimates are that the Carrington Event was approximately 50 percent stronger than the 1921 storm.[5] Since we are headed into an active solar period much like the one preceding the Carrington Event, scientists are concerned that conditions could be ripe for the next extreme GMD.[6]




The federal government recently sponsored a detailed scientific study to better understand how much critical components of our national electrical power grid might be affected by either a naturally occurring GMD or a man-made EMP. Under the auspices of the EMP Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and reviewed in depth by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Academy of Sciences, Metatech Corporation undertook extensive modeling and analysis of the potential effects of extreme geomagnetic storms on the US electrical power grid. Based upon a storm as intense as the 1921 storm, Metatech estimated that within the United States, induced voltage and current spikes, combined with harmonic anomalies, would severely damage or destroy over 350 EHV power transformers critical to the functioning of the US grid and possibly impact well over 2000


EHV transformers worldwide.[7]

EHV transformers are made to order and custom-designed for each installation, each weighing as much as 300 tons and costing well over $1 million. Given that there is currently a three-year waiting list for a single EHV transformer (due to recent demand from China and India, lead times grew from one to three years), and that the total global manufacturing capacity is roughly 100 EHV transformers per year when the world’s manufacturing centers are functioning properly, you can begin to grasp the implications of widespread transformer losses.


The loss of thousands of EHV transformers worldwide would cause a catastrophic grid collapse across much of the industrialized world. It will take years, at best, for the industrialized world to put itself back together after such an event, especially considering the fact that most of the manufacturing centers that make this equipment will also be grappling with widespread grid failure.




In the event of an extreme GMD-induced long-term grid collapse covering much of the globe, if just half of the world’s spent fuel ponds were to boil off their water and become radioactive, zirconium-fed infernos, the ensuing contamination could far exceed the cumulative effect of 400 Chernobyls.




The Congressionally mandated EMP Commission has studied the threat of both EMP [i.e. an electromagnetic pulse set of by terrorists or adversaries in war] and extreme GMD events and made recommendations to the US Congress to implement protective devices and procedures to ensure the survival of the grid and other critical infrastructures in either event. John Kappenman, author of the Metatech study, estimates that it would cost about $1 billion to build special protective devices into the US grid to protect its EHV transformers from EMP or extreme GMD damage and to build stores of critical replacement parts should some of these items be damaged or destroyed. Kappenman estimates that it would cost significantly less than $1 billion to store at least a year’s worth of diesel fuel for backup generators at each US nuclear facility and to store sets of critical spare parts, such as backup generators, inside EMP-hardened steel containers to be available for quick change-out in the event that any of these items were damaged by an EMP or GMD.[12]


For the cost of a single B-2 bomber or a tiny fraction of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout, we could invest in preventative measures to avert what might well become the end of life as we know it. There is no way to protect against all possible effects from an extreme GMD or an EMP attack, but we could implement measures to protect against the worst effects. Since 2008, Congress has narrowly failed to pass legislation that would implement at least some of the EMP Commission’s recommendations.[13]




Citizens can do their part to push for legislation to move toward this goal and work inside our homes and communities to develop local resilience and self reliance, so that in the event of a long-term grid-down scenario, we might make the most of a bad situation. The same tools that are espoused by the Transition movement for developing local self-reliance and resilience to help cope with the twin effects of climate change and peak oil could also serve communities well in the event of an EMP attack or extreme GMD. If our country were to implement safeguards to protect our grid and nuclear power plants from EMP, it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack. The sooner we take these actions, the less chance that an EMP attack will occur.

And see this.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
The Bulletproof Patriot's picture

A funny thing happens whenever "experts" are brought in to consult on potentially nightmare scenarios, such as one which is discussed in this post - solar storms.  This has long been a problem with much of the internet-based "knowledge" regarding EMP and its potential effects.  Most people now believe that an EMP, when properly carried out (an aerial detonation of perhaps 30 mile altitude), will render anything with a plug useless - generators, can openers, and of course radios and microelectronics.  There is an intelligent discussion to be had on both sides of the EMP issue, but it is unfortunate that such discussion is unlikely to be found in the places where EMP prepping is occurring.  In other words, those who fear solar flares and EMP are frequently the least knowledgeable on the matter and have otherwise blindly bought into the hype, frequently possessing no educational background to properly evaluate the threat.  (Not to say an EMP wouldn't be damaging - it certainly would, but the severity is debatable.)

I noticed a similar problem with the comment made within the article by a supposed "expert" regarding the proposed method of protecting power transformers against a large solar storm (which should also be applicable to EMP protection):

"What we’re proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers’ ground connections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid."

I must say, as an electrical engineer who works in the power generation field, this is one of the stupidest ideas I've heard and reflects yet another "expert" who isn't worth his weight in anything.

The purpose of a grounded connection is to provide a low impedance path for fault current to move so that it doesn't damage other elements in the circuit (i.e. your computer).  In order to provide an adequate grounded connection at a power transformer, it is not unusual to find a heavy Copper conductor connecting the grounding (neutral) bushing on the transformer to a similarly heavy Copper grounding grid buried within the substation.  The addition of a grounding resistor or reactor here, even a small one (< 0.5 Ohms), defeats the purpose of the neutral being grounded because it inserts a "choke" point in what is designed to be an unobstructed path to ground.  Since V=I*R, the addition of a resistance will result in an increase in voltage, and voltage is what will likely cause a failure for the very brief instant that a power transformer would be subjected to solar flare-induced current, or those from an EMP, until the overcurrent protection (circuit breakers) have time to operate (about 3-8 cycles). Further, power transformers are not off-the-shelf items and are specifically designed to operate under a given condition.  Adding a grounding resistor without fully evaluating the impact of that addition on normal operation is a fool's errand - unless designed for it, the resistance could result in premature failure of the transformer under normal conditions.

Much to the chagrin of the "experts" who are now apparently so knowledgeable that they are advising utilities how to protect the multi-billion dollar power grid, the designs are not done on the back of an envelope.  The amount of studies conducted to analyze the impact of the addition of new generation, replacement of power lines, or addition of a consumer (i.e. a new neighborhood), is considerable.  There is a reason that utilities employ thousands of electrical engineers - this isn't something that can be done by any guy with a calculator.  It's a precision operation and doing it right takes time.

Ironically, in the case of a solar flare or EMP the excessive current condition could actually be preferred, since it would result in faster operation of fuses and (possibly) circuit breakers.  Copper and power transformers can tolerate a substantial amount of overheating for brief periods, which is a result of current, but overvoltages will break through the internal insulation rapidly, even without overheating.  That is what will cause a transformer failure under this scenario and if one happens it will be catastrophic.

The original author is correct that you would see a reduction in current by the addition of a resistor, but since the energy released by an EMP or solar flare event is massive, the net result with a grounding resistor in place as the author suggests would much more likely be a large increase in voltage rather than a substantial decrease in current.  That voltage increase will damage the transformers worse than they would have been otherwise.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to completely stop the catastrophic consequences of solar flares or EMPs.  Grounding resistors will make the problem worse.  Surge protectors (varistors, MOVs) are the best bet but have a delay in operating time of at least ~50 ns, which is too long to protect against the E1 transient of an EMP that would do most of the damage.  By the time the protective device operated, the overvoltage event would have already done enough damage.

I would suggest that the best option for the consumer is to install a large surge capacitor and matching arrester at the service entrance to their home and to use a surge protector having a high Joule rating (> 3000 Joules) on all sensitive equipment.  This method isn't perfect, but there aren't any options that offer 100% protection against the effects of a massive solar flare or high altitude EMP burst.

Additionally, the assertion that "EHV" power transformers are currently running a 3 year lead time is not true.  Due to economic slowdown since 2008, lead times for all size transormers is currently in the 6-9 month range for major suppliers both in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Ironically, the EHV units might also the least likely to be damaged since they naturally possess stronger insulation due to their normal operating voltages and they are much less common within the grid (those above 345 kV).  The most likely to have problems would be the more common 115/138 kV and 230 kV transformers connected to very long transmission lines.

Not everybody can be an expert in everything, which means we all must rely on quality sources.  Sources who perpetuate the typical hysterical nonsense about CME or EMP without having the slightest clue why simply should not be trusted.

Willzyx's picture

I live in central Connecticut, and we recieved a taste of things to come last October, when a freak early snow storm knocked out power for nearly a week.  The problem was the snow came before the leaves fell from the trees.  This allowed additional snow to accumulate, snapping branches and taking down power lines.  Some regions (including the wealthiest, yuppiest towns) experienced 90% outages for days.

Worked out fine for me.  I had power at home and none at work (free week long vacation), a tank of gas, a stocked pantry, and a few bottles of booze.

Yeah, folks roughed it out and survived without their i-gadgets, but you could see them begining to crack.  Most gas stations were closed.  Those that weren't were mobbed as people stopped daily to buy gas to power their generators.  Generators were being sold at home depot by the pallet load.

By the time I ventured onto the roads mid week, it looked like a war zone.  Streets blocked by downed trees and powerlines.  There was an eerie feeling as you drove down block after block of blacked out residential communities.  I spotted a transformer on fire.  When I called it into the fire dept, they didn't seem too concerned.

Local hotels were booked solid, in part to house the out of state line workers who were brought in.  There were many anectdotal stories of residents venting there frustration on the line workers. 

Folks shacked up with their friends/family who still had power.  I had 5 people staying with me.  The schools were closed too.  I heard from people with corporate jobs that they were bringing their kids into work, setting up makeshift day cares in the reception area.  Ironically, the folks least affected was the Occupy Hartford encampment.  After brushing away the snow, they went back to living without electricity.

mholzman's picture

Dude, take some science classes and some stats. Either you do not know what you are talking about or you are being paid to continue the status quo (i.e., oil and gas industry).

Fact 1: The Bhopal disaster in India, considered one of the world's worst industrial catastrophes:

" The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 3,000 died within weeks and another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries." 

Not one single person has died from the event at the Tepco plant in Japan.

Also,  I think you discredit lots of good information here. Move on.

tim73's picture

GW hysterics as usual. Find an issue some random nutjob is writing about every other day in the intertubes and put few more links pointing to other nutjobs and Voila! Nice little article, based on total bullshit and cow urine.

Humans have been dealing with electricity over one hundred years and we are actually quite good at handling it. There are for example 2000 thunderstorms at any given time and about 100 lightning strikes every second globally. That is 8.65 million strikes PER DAY! A lot of strikes hit the power transmission lines and still no widespread blackouts or nuclear armageddon.

Widowmaker's picture

One word:  CORRUPTION!


Jim in MN's picture

And the hits keep on coming in Japan:


TEPCO: Just 60cm of water in Fukushima reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has found that the cooling water in one of the damaged reactors at Fukushima is only 60 centimeters deep, far lower than previously thought.

The utility confirmed the water level by inserting an endoscope into the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Monday.

TEPCO had thought that the water level was about 3 meters. It has been injecting nearly 9 tons of water per hour into the reactor to cool the melted fuel that has fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel.

But the shallow level indicates that the water continues to leak into the reactor building through the suppression chambers under the vessel.

The utility argues that the fuel is still being cooled, as the water temperature remains at around 48 degrees Celsius.

But the low level suggests that decommissioning the reactor could be much more difficult. The operator may need to repair more parts of the containment vessel so it can be filled with water to block the strong radiation.

The No. 2 reactor's containment vessel is believed to have been damaged on March 15th with the sudden loss of pressure inside the reactor.

Monday's survey was the second look inside the No.2 reactor since January. During the first survey, an endoscope was unable to confirm the water level in the containment vessel. This time, TEPCO used a scope that is 10 meters longer.

Monday, March 26, 2012 21:40 +0900 (JST)

GCT's picture

The goberment does not care.  They probably prefer it this way as military gear is emp proofed as part of the specs.  This includes communication gear as well.

Shazam342's picture

Anonymous, someone needs to 'open' those windows!

Money 4 Nothing's picture

Resign yourself to the fact that they don't care, you will actually sleep better. There is no more shocking news anymore, I'm becomming totally numb to any outrageous stories in MSM lately.

It will come like a theif in the night, and TPTB welcome it, end of story.

onthesquare's picture

CNBC has reported back on the 400 nuclear reactors, damaged from  the solar storm, and now on fire.  Officials have confirmed there is no radiation leaking and everything will be fine.  They are evacuating the area and waring lead lined underware only as a precaution.

And this just in a cat has given birth to a 2 headed kitten.

Hobbleknee's picture

...and prepare yourself for all contingencies.  I started preparing a couple years ago, and now I don't really give a crap; I won't be starving like most sheeple.  Being prepared and independent is empowering.

hairball48's picture

GW should know by now that most American sheeple are more interested in "news" like Snookie's pregnancy, or what the Kardashians are doing, blah blah...

Westcoastliberal's picture

Thanks for bringing this up, GW!

Just because it hasn't happened yet in "modern" times doesn't mean it can't and GW is spot-on.  There are several ways we could lose electricity (aka all our modern conveniences/lifestyle). Given the large transformers used by power companies cannot be easily replaced, the scenario would be one of utter chaos.  Imagine no communication, no refridgeration, perhaps even no transportation if the CME was powerful enough to knock out automotive electronics.  Certainly if the electric grid was out there would be no fuel because the pumps would not work without it.  And imagine this on a prolonged basis (as in months/years). Much death and destruction.  Anyone who requires insulin would be first to expire.  No pumps for the water utility would be problematic not only for fresh water but also sanitation.  Toilets would be backing up.  Imagine a flood of unstoppable sewage back-flowing through your commode.  Yuk!

The other scenario with the same result is from an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse).  This is a secondary effect caused by air-burst of a nuclear bomb.  Does the same thing as a CME.  Could be from a terrorist attack or even a false flag event.  Cheney has a "new" heart after all.  Think about it.

I agree with GW, an ounce of prevention now could be our salvation.  And we've had some recent experience with widespread power outages.  The entire San Diego region was without power for about 5 hours a few months back when (supposedly) a utility worker screwed up and the transmission line from AZ went down, tripping breakers all across Sou Cal; even San Onofre went offline.  All San Diego went dark and it was pretty scary.

Even more recently a freak windstorm hit parts of LA resulting in loss of about 100 power poles; power was out to about 25,000 homes for a week to ten days.  Lots of suffering because it got pretty cold after the storm.  No power, no heat.

A couple of great books have been written on such a scenario, "One second after" and my favorite by R.L. Stirling "Dies the Fire". In the latter not only is the grid down after a nuke attack along with no combustion engines, but gunpowder no longer explodes, resulting in the populus resorting to medevial methods of defense/warfare.

Buck Johnson's picture

I know, and it's horrible.  Radiation everywhere and people having to live and eat in radioactive environments.

TradingTroll's picture

Good job George

By the way, its not the probability of risk but the probability times the outcome

So let's say a financial systemic failure impacts the earth and society with an 50 out of 100 severity strength but can be fixed in 100yrs. The occurrence probability inside 10yrs is 100%, for 50 impact points (1x50x100/100)

Now on the same scale, since the radioactive isotopes from Fukushima take 500,000yrs to dissipate, its a near end of life event, say 98 out of 100 points with 60% probability of occurring in 10yrs for .6x98=59 impact points each 100 years. Now the total is 59x500,000/100=295,000 points

So there you have fat tails. Nuclear is so dangerous, even with a 1/100 odds of occurrence vs financial meltdown, a nuke crisis may still be an end of life event

Yet the nuke industry plays around like a high schooler with his first cube of firecrackers

Vendetta's picture

Yeah, its really time to worry about solar flares ruining our 'way of life'.  Not to be too flippant but I think monetary collapse is a wee bit higher on the list of things to worry about particularly in terms of probabilities and time frame.

robdashu's picture

Would you rather be poor or dead?

AN0NYM0US's picture

George, good news

Wendy's moves to improve animal welfare in chicken suppliers


nothing like sucking the air out a room to lessen the pain of being killed


In Canada they have it down to a science, they just drive  unheated semis packed with live chickens around  for a few hours in sub zero temperatures

Winston Smith 2009's picture

GW - many of the links in your article aren't functional.  It's not that the links are dead, it's that many links you include like "this, this, this," aren't actually links even though they are blue underscored text.

The Mayan thing _is_ garbage.  They simply ended their calendar on the winter solstice.  Big deal...

The Earth's magnetic field has varied greatly and flipped many times in the past.  The pattern normally goes - weaken, flip, strengthen, weaken, flip, etc.  Right now, its' weakening, but the flip could be hundreds or thousands of year away.  And unlike as thought by some of those preppers on the TV show about them, there won't be earthquakes and tsunamis when it flips.  They must be thinking that the angle of the Earth's axis is rapidly changed when they think "pole flip", but that is definitely not the case as it is just the _magnetic_ poles that flip.  However, just before, during, and just after a pole flip, we may lose a lot of the magnetic field that protects us from bad things the sun sends our way.  And that would be bad.

About that destructive solar flare, it could easily happen at any time.  And, from what I have read, the only country that makes the very large transformers used in our national power distribution system, the transformers that would be burned out, is Germany.  They'd have a backlog far larger than they could handle and power could be out in many areas of the US for a very long time as a result since we'd have to reestablish large transformer production in the US from a cold start. 

Such an event could be prepared for and the majority of damage prevented with protective devices and measures but, of course, industry isn't going to spend the money to do so and the government is too busy chasing shadows.  What can be done is shut down the national powert grid in advance of the flare reaching Earth, something made possible by one of those few truly valuable things we get from the spending of our taxpayer dollars - NASA space science satellites.  But who is going to have the balls to make that call?

Had this monster flare happened in modern times, we would have been in very bad shape worldwide:

scrappy's picture

ZHers, Presenting "The Extinction Protocol"

I got this book and it is a very ambitious work that covers pretty much everything we face from manmade to natural threats...


logically possible's picture

I will make sure to add this to my worry list, right at the bottom.

LoneuhRanger's picture

This is going to the top of my list.

mick_richfield's picture

If the X-45 flare of 2003 had been aimed a little closer to us, you would have spent the last 9 years without electricity.


XenOrbitalEnginE's picture

Hey, from the higher level of G-type star sequencing, this Mother's Going to Flare Out Anyway!

There's nothing we can do (tm) about how bumpy the ride will be.   Kudos GW for mentioning the Carrington Event - so bad that they unplugged telegraphs and STILL HEARD SIGNALS through them.

Three levels of EMP sheilding need.  Top level - stuff you don't want to blow up. Low level - Apple I-things.  Middle level - room for argument.



mt paul's picture

muppets dancing

in the radioactive 

moon light

lolmao500's picture

In the same type of news...

A top industry leader has defended nuclear power as the only realistic way to reduce global warming despite Japan’s nuclear disaster last year.

Director-general John Rich, of the World Nuclear Association (WNA), a global nuclear trade group, addressed an industry summit in Seoul on Friday as a small group of protesters from Asian countries rallied nearby.

Asahi: “Officials scuffle with audience members” (PHOTO) — Entire gov’t to be mobilized for Oi nuke plant restart — Strong likelihood Japan could have no nuclear reactors in operation if locals don’t approve — Mayor clearly opposes restart

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would mobilize the “entire government” to persuade local leaders to accept the restart of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant [...]

Aka fuck what the public thinks, we will restart these old nuclear power plants, no matter what.

Reptil's picture

yeah here's a "fun" youtube: the bullshit of the industry shills oozes off the screen. Iraq's nuclear miracle? Pff tell that in Fallujah.

time to end this sharade.

one way or another.


holdingontomypants's picture

EMP collaspe...nuclear attack...biological flare...nuclear meltdown....Iran attack...North Korea attack...federal reserve there anything that we are possibly not under potential attack? I can't prepare for them all so which one is most probable or are we just wasting our time?

Errol's picture

FWIW, Navaho/Apache prophecy says that the reign of the white guys will end after "the stars bleed, which will be visible to all people".  I've read that during the Carrington Event, the aurora in the Carribean lit the whole sky up red, bright enough to read a newpaper by it at night.

Savyindallas's picture

We sure fucked over the Indians -and others. What goes around comes around. I' regret that me and my children will have to pay for the sins of evil white people. If we were smart we'd go lynch those rich fucks who are fucking up the world. Unfortunatley most of us are ignorant morons. -excluding of course, myself and most ZH'ers.

Cast Iron Skillet's picture

maybe, with luck, the flare will touch down right at the Utah Data Center, then take a swath through Facebook & Google.

tony bonn's picture

"it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack"

this is precisely what happened during the 9/11 attacks - buildings 1 and 2 were taken out by small nuclear devices which caused the emp storms following the nano-thermite explosions....

Dan Duncan's picture

GW, if there is a thermo-nuclear holocaust, do you think the toxins from the fallout will contribute to the obesity epidemic?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my question.  And thank you once again for another outstanding article.

JohnKozac's picture

More amazing is the cost of opening military bases in places like Australia (????) while both Barry and Reps push to cut benefits fof Seniors.



Element's picture

The USSA is NOT building new US military bases in Australia.  

The small number of US forces will be utilising existing Australian military bases and their facilities. These will no doubt expand significantly and develop further as a result of this. No one is interested in any stand-alone US military bases within Australia.  Not going to happen.  I have no idea what any of it is going to cost the US taxpayer, hopefully it will be very little.

As I understand it the new arrangement is primarily about forward-basing of US hardware in storage (much as in Europe during the cold war), plus assorted war materials and parts, plus establishing a more robust logistical supply and transport capacity. The remainder of the involvement surrounds dramatically increasing US access to ADF training facilities and weapon ranges (which are already among the largest and best-equipped anywhere) developing them further, war-game exercises, planning and integration.

This is basically an escalation in preparedness, stepping-up readiness, as part of a multi-phase regional defense plan. It is the result of Beijing's PLAN coercion as it actively applies a claim over the entire South China Sea.

The thing stopping the PLAN from enforcing its massively significant territorial claim is the real possibility of ANZUS-ASEAN 'alliance' that decides it's not going to allow China to grab maritime territory from them by force.

So Canberra wants US forces constantly training with the ADF on ADF bases.  Canberra has been pushing for this sort of arrangement for many years.

Given what Obama said just a few months back in Darwin (which sounded a lot like another SEA war is coming), Washington plainly agrees that it's a good idea to prepare for the possibility of a maritime air-and-sea battle in and around South East Asia.

And ASEAN really aren't that keen on the idea of a hot-war with China, where the battlefield is them.

Consequently the US involvement in Australia is going to be kept low-key by Canberra.

But it sure isn't going to stop.

AGuy's picture

What Equipment? I doubt additional equipment can protect theses plants. a severe solar storm has the potential to destroy the HV transformers that tie the plant to the grid. When these are over loaded by a CME, it can cause the transformers to short out, which effectivity isolates the plant from the grid. The NRC SOP states that Nuclear plants must be shutdown when they lose connectivity to the grid. To do this they stop the turbines and switch over to diesel to provide power to cool the reactor.

In a long term Grid down, its will be difficult or impossible to refuel the diesels since the grid is down and there is no power to reload the the fuel trucks to make fuel deliveries. There are a couple of solutions.

1. When a large CME is detected we have about 2 to 3 days to prepare. Which means the entire grid could be shutdown before the CME. With the transformers disconnected from the grid they won't be damaged. The NRC policy can be changes so that nuke plants can keep there turbines spooled up enough to profide power until the crisis is over. Currently this is viewed as an unacceptable solution (mostly do to pride).

2. There is already a back log of 3 years for current HV transformers, so even if money is available. there is no resources to build spare transformers for a CME event. By the time there are sufficent spare are available the peak of the solar storms will be over.

3. All power plants including nuclear plants already have transient voltage protection. This is to address the more common event of lightening strikes which happen frequently.

That said money should me made avail to for nuke plant decommisions, since virtually all of the power companies lost there decommission trust funds from poor investments (dot-com bubble, and then the sub-prime bubble). Many plant operators are filling for renewal licenses simple because they don't have the money to decommission plants. There such also be funds made available so that know issues with these plants are fixed. Probably 2/3s of the operating plants have serious issues, but have no money to fix them.


New World Chaos's picture

No way to unplug everything before a false-flag EMP.

Reptil's picture

Yes! Informative, thank you.

So... given the probabillity of a blackout, shouldn't the Government shut down all nuclear plants that cannot be protected from the solar flare's EMP right now? It takes half a year at least for the fuel to cool down sufficiëntly, so it can be left uncooled for a period of time (days, weeks). 

The diesel generators are a crock. A couple of days at the most, batteries a few hours (in the USA).

The logic of the situation demands inmediate action IMO.

AGuy's picture

They have at least 3 weeks of diesel fuel on site. Waiting size months probably isn't long enough if you consider the spend fuel pools that need cooling for years. The solution is to keep the turbines spinning until grid power is restored.




Reptil's picture

AFAIK the cooling is not linked to the turbines. If it were, turning off the reactor would slow down the turbines, stop them. Would that provide enough electicity? Quite a lot is needed so it seems.

Provided in the spaghetti of processes (1000 x 1000 times probabillity something can go wrong, not even counting cascading faults) everything keeps working 100%. Which it won't, look at San Onofre Plant, it's falling apart right now. Once the vulnerable turbine tract and torus is damaged (or any valve) it's game over, since then you'll have another Fukushima.

So, it all failed in BOTH Fukushima Daini and Daichi. (And where else?) There have been a number of "not so serious" accidents and near misses. A simple flood was enough last summer (in a flood area duh) or some regulator official turning off the cooling of a plant for 12 minutes without anyone noticing (in Japan) and then covering all of this up. Leakage of underground pipes that weren't supposed to be there in a USA plant (see for details). No, those are not growing pains. Those are mistakes that are near misses, and worse, it's evidence of a culture of coverups. Here in France they've replaced vocal trained workers with unschooled seasonal workers, from eastern europe etc. Same in Russia, Spain, UK, USA. They're all covering up the mistakes, everywhere. The industry in Canada, Sweden, Germany and to a lesser extend Holland (for example) seem to be the least ambiguous, but they as well have been caught covering up information about problems. With the purpose not to scare anyone? hmmmm riiiiiiggghhht 

Why not shut down the old leaky Mark 1 BWRs? And the Chernobyl type reactors (without any containment) that are still in use? Because a restart would probably not happen, after a real investigation? 

The public (us) is not stupid. At least not all of the public. And fear is a motivator to spark human beings to action in case of danger. Is that fear justified? The industry says it's not, but they have a PROFIT motivation now. And I'd say the opposite: Let's look at it logically:
In the light of a high probabillity of catastrophic failure, NOT to be afraid is very strange. It's what categorises a psychopathic personality disorder. Its also very strange, in it's complexity and group thinking. I'm not saying EVERYONE in the industry is cookoo. They make risk assesments just like everyone.

This risk analysis would then depend on far worse circumstances than the very positive (and wrong) assesments, based on theoretical models, that were made in the mid-sixties. (see Ernest Sternglass about how wrong these were) Add to the mix the probabillity of EMP because of Sun Flares (high according to NASA), earthquakes near known faults (Diablo Canyon), and it's logical to decommission these old plants or plants in risky locations, and try to secure the remaining ones. At least that would lessen the inmediate problem.

But they won't do it. ANY of it. They'll just cover up the problem, and keep on trucking. In their idea that's prudent action; since they're still "in business" and recieve gov. funds. That's the kicker.

When in the light of previous experience, no action is taken, and the risk assesments are ignored, that is to me a sign of insanity. I'm sorry that's the best word I can come up with. Not such a problem when dealing with bankers high on a bonus "fix", but in the case of Nuclear fission plants dotted around the planet?

They're INSANE! :-(

johnQpublic's picture

doomsday bunker like a motherfucker



pretty confident the .gov wont do anything to address this because it just plain doesnt cost enuf to line a bunch of assholes' pockets

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Will I still be safe in the Hamptons?  Nothing bad ever happens there!  Seriously, when our government is run by imbeciles, we will get all that we deserve...

knukles's picture

The Hamptons will be kinda safe, as in the authorities will swamp the place to ensure the survival of the monied class whilst the monied class panics and begins devowering their neighbor's children between tennis, massages, cocktails and golf.z
Mayhaps one motherfucker of a humongoloid destructive tsunami over a long holiday weekend isn't too much to pray for.

Dear God, blessed are the weak and please STRIKE DOWN all them mofos in a BURNING display of your most HEAVENLY VENGANCE as if they were the FALLEN ANGELS of SATAN HisveryfuckingSelf.

The Alarmist's picture

Seriously? Most people follow the rules and trust that the psychopaths running on promises of values and compassion are not evil control freaks. The people deserve better than what they are getting from those trolls. Makes one wistful for a return to divine-right kings.

Not Too Important's picture

Who says we're not ruled by kings? And are they less suicidal psychopaths than our 'chosen' officials?

Somebody here said there was lots of opportunity to become one of the 1%'ers. Maybe, but the .0004% club is off-limits, royals and royal bankers only. And notice how many of them now marry commoners? Tay-Sachs is a bitch.

Now to have a beer made with Rocky Mountain plutonium water. Cheers!

r00t61's picture

Kings "own" their property - namely, their kingdoms.  They have a vested interest to leave the kingdom in good condition so that it can be passed down to their heirs.  Of course, there's always the chance that the king is crazy and squanders his kingdom, like Caligula.

Elected officials, on the other hand, "rent" their property.  They have every incentive to move in, rape the place for all it's worth, and then get out while the getting out's still good.

They both suck, of course, but there are differences.

Benjamin Glutton's picture

 As soon as I read this elegant solution to solar storms it occurred to me that EMP protection would be an additional benefit.

"If our country were to implement safeguards to protect our grid and nuclear power plants from EMP, it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack. The sooner we take these actions, the less chance that an EMP attack will occur."

 By the the time I finished the article it occurred to me that someone does not want us to have a useful defense against EMP. Surely this low cost project should be a higher priority than the next Aircraft Carrier or any other weapons system for that matter.