The Fukushima Fifty

Discuss

120 Responses to “The Fukushima Fifty”

  1. Flashman says:

    Looks like the Fukushima 50 have been pulled out:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/03/15/japan-residents-nuclear-worries.html
    Nothing anybody can do now but watch it burn.
    Damn

  2. mack says:

    sorry, “… learn what’s reported to us FROM official inquiries and journalists …” I need to use that preview button.

  3. awjtawjt says:

    VERY VERY BAD JUJU. These things are about to spew. I don’t know why we haven’t called in the armies yet to contain this thing and sandbag it.

  4. Patrick Dodds says:

    Not to be unduly negative or anything and INANE and so forth, but I’m 100% certain this company is finished whatever happens next. Also, a pity coercion is being used when these people could / should / might instead be considered heroes.

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      My sense is that the strong words are directed at the executives of TEPCO, who are not going any goddamn where near the risk zone. Not the workers, who are most certainly heroic for facing likely injury and/or death.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      TEPCO finished? Why? Beside their own workers and equipment, what have they harmed? Who’s gonna sue them? For what damage? How was the tsunami/EQ their fault?
      What evidence of negligence due you have on the part of this company, that they should be ‘finished”?

      What are you talking about?
      Why shouldn’t TEPCO survive?

      • genre slur says:

        Perhaps because they’re not using a thorium fuel cycle, which would eschew the risk of a meltdown.

        • Niklas says:

          Does Japan have any laws against not using Thorium reactors in power plants? I would have guessed not.

          • RedShirt77 says:

            There are lots of occasions where business does something dangerous but legal and pays through the nose when it hurts people.

            Is it illegal to serve hot coffee? well that didn’t effect some lady for getting millions for the third degree burns all over her legs and crotch.

            The design of the reactor has been brought into question since its inception. Designers resigned because they thought it was faulty.

            I am sure this company has produced reports over the years that said this plant was perfectly safe. Dig a little deeper, there will be internal docs talking about the flaws in the design.

            Not to mention that, just their share of the cleanup is going to be huge.

            But if global corporatocracy in Japan is like the American system, these bastards will be just fine.

          • genre slur says:

            Indeed :)

          • RedShirt77 says:

            There are lots of occasions where business does something dangerous but legal and pays through the nose when it hurts people.

            Is it illegal to serve hot coffee? well that didn’t effect some lady for getting millions for the third degree burns all over her legs and crotch.

            The design of the reactor has been brought into question since its inception. Designers resigned because they thought it was faulty.

            I am sure this company has produced reports over the years that said this plant was perfectly safe. Dig a little deeper, there will be internal docs talking about the flaws in the design.

            Not to mention that, just their share of the cleanup is going to be huge.

            But if global corporatocracy in Japan is like the American system, these bastards will be just fine.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      When people talk like that, i usually look into buying the shares of the company they are talking about.

      • Poet says:

        Heh, I somehow doubt you will be investing in Tepco anytime soon. Not like you can anyways yet, the stock has a bottom limit set which I think it reached the first moment the market opened after the quake hit.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          The cheaper it gets, the better…. being the monopoly electricity supplier, amongst other activities, to the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area would seem to be a way to earn some money.

          Anyway, an tsunami and EQ caused this, not human error.
          People ought not to be d so quick to assign blame to other people for the things which arise as a result of “acts of God”.

          I shall be watching TEPCO closely for an entry point.

  5. Prozaclady says:

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” — Mr. Spock. I’m not sure thought would help we walk into the radiation zone, but I do appreciate the validity of the statement. Of course, the plant workers don’t have the Genesis project to look forward to.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know enough about working in radioactive areas, but is it really a winnable scenario for those workers over the long term? Is protection against radiation, “protective gear”, really protective? All I know is from Hollywood movies…

  7. efergus3 says:

    Bushido is not dead in Japan.

  8. awjtawjt says:

    @Mods:

    Can you make a perma-thread at the top of the main page as a clearing-house for all things Japan for a while? BB has become a point of contact for a number of folks and we keep having to jump threads all the time and conversations and connections get lost.

    THANKS IN ADVANCE
    awjt

  9. Dicrel Seijin says:

    I just saw an interview on MSNBC. The scientist stated that in no uncertain terms that the fifty there will all likely die from radiation poisoning or cancer. It was one of the few times that I choked up, feeling like my heart jumped up into my throat.

    • Manooshi says:

      It’s horribly tragic. The executive should ALL be there assisting these workers, and yeah, risk dying of radiation poisoning and cancer as well.

      • JoshuaZ says:

        Manooshi,

        The executives likely do not have skill sets that would be very helpful in this situation. Sending them into a dangerous situation might make us feel good but it wouldn’t help much.

        • Jack says:

          Actually after a disaster of this scale, politics mens A LOT. Executives of TEPCO avoiding the area are this disaster doesn’t make them look good.

          You can’t be a leader hiding in a cave.

        • mulveyr says:

          The execs might not have any useful skill sets, but there’s always value in making a gesture.

          At my company, we often have to do long, tedious software installations in the wee hours of the morning. The execs are as useful as tits on a bicycle, but even so, they’re still with us. And we engineers appreciate the gesture – when we’re running out of steam at 3:00AM in the morning, the execs know exactly what we’re going through.

          That’s leadership, pure and simple.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Robots. Robots. ROBOTS. Where are all those industrial robots that should be helping with dangerous tasks?

    • goodfinger says:

      Zactly!

    • bcsizemo says:

      From what I remember about seeing documentaries on Chernobyl most robots can not handle either the heat, or the radiation.

      Perhaps in a case like this where you have more localized radiation they would work, but a robot isn’t going to last 30 minutes in an area that is +700F…

      I’m not saying something couldn’t be built to do it, the question really is do we need to build some “just in case”?

  11. RedShirt77 says:

    CNN is reporting that the last 50 were pulled out. or maybe that is 48 with the two missing.

  12. paogle says:

    This really isn’t funny. There are good odds a lot of these people might not survive.

    • dodongo says:

      Yeah, stocks, and film rights. Keep it classy guys.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      Japan has historically had a culture that venerates noble self-sacrificing deaths. I wish those brave men well.

      the lulz are directed at the ridiculous idea of making this a lifetime move.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Remember the workers at Chernobyl? Almost all of them died in the efforts to entomb the destroyed reactor.

  14. TheCrawNotTheCraw says:

    You want executive responsibility?

    Lash the CEO and top management to the side of the reactor building until the emergency is resolved.

    Won’t save the current crop of execs, but I expect to see different attitudes in the next bunch…or else.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I sense we’re moving beyond the “now now… don’t get your silly little public psyches in a twist of this. the *experts* don’t see any significant danger here. so you shouldn’t either. go home… watch gleeâ„¢… nothing to see here [pat on head]” …and we’re closer to “@#$! there’s economies of scale that could be lost here! wall-street may have to panic” …after that the ice-weasels come.

  16. Mitch_M says:

    So does that mean they have to sacrifice some workers if they want their company to survive?

  17. Patrick Dodds says:

    Hi UC – thanks, honestly, for the different take and the effort you seem to be putting in to trying to dampen down what might be considered growing hysteria and a simplistic view of the situation: your posts here and elsewhere are interesting and thoughtful. I do think, though, that this disaster will stick to the name of the company for years. Add in the following from the same Guardian story and, well, it is possible TEPCO may be in trouble:

    Tepco has a history of covering up safety issues. In 2002, seventeen of its reactors were shut down and the firm’s senior management resigned after it admitted hiding problems and obstructing inspections.

    As I said above, INANE so obviously give my opinion the weight you think it deserves – just my thoughts on the matter.

  18. rebdav says:

    I worked for a Japanese manufacturing firm in the early 90′s so had the opportunity to be fitted into the Japanese work mentality. I was a bad match for me in the end but it was a real cultural education.
    It may surprise you that I think many people raised in Japan would actually prefer death to the shame of being fired, but that is not at all what is happening here at all.
    Community is still the most important thing in society, the cult of the martyred hero, especially a non-violent hero is very strong in Japanese culture, and when required rightly so, any good society should honor and remember those willing to lay down their lives for the good of the whole community when there is no other option.
    I just hope they took good bone marrow and sperm samples from these guys before they sent them into the breach.
    It makes me sad since I had thought Japan was running mostly modern fail safe reactors, but wold wide resistance to nuclear progress prevented reactor upgrades and left us with 40-50 year old designs as the most common and least safe reactors.
    Does anyone have a breakdown of percentages of radiation types being measured at this plant(alpha, beta, gamma, neutron)
    Anyone in the surrounding area have either a Geiger counter or a a DIY Kearny Fallout Meter https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Kearny_Fallout_Meter to get distributed readings.

  19. awjtawjt says:

    “If you don’t kill yourself for your country, you’re fired!”

  20. sdaris says:

    #30 comment pretty much a win. Be reasonable and think about the core facts (pun intended). Earthquakes happen. Nuclear fission is pure science. Worry about coal ash (beyond toxic), fossil fuel dependence and deforestation, all of which are millions of times more deadly, yet accepted because they’re “not nuclear”. I support nuclear energy because it’s clean and the technology is rapidly advancing. No Nuke 80s….snore. Read up on it (MIT, Caltech, etc)

  21. Anonymous says:

    it doent matter if this company is going out f business or not. the more than 50 helpers are truly doing something beyond human imagination. i wish i could get to know every single one of them. to thank them for whatever they try to do and believe in!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dear Friends

    I’m amazed that Boing Boing has suddenly become a major clearinghouse for information on the Japan reactor disasters and nuclear power in general. And amen I say for that.

    In further news, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plants One and Two on the Pacific coast near the town of San Luis Obispo are currently being considered for relicensing to operate another twenty years. For everyone who approves nuclear power by pointing out that the Japanese problem is based on aging nuclear power plants rather than plants built with the latest technology, here’s your chance to join a coalition to deny a license to the aging Diablo Canyon reactors before they become truly ancient.

    It might be remembered that at one point the Diablo Canyon reactors were delayed in becoming radioactive because the plant’s earthquake supports had been installed backwards. Someone apparently misread the blueprints.

    In closing, Diablo Canyon stores a considerable number of spent fuel rods onsite. One wonders if they are contained as securely as those at the Fukushima site.

    Christopher Beaver

    • Rayonic says:

      here’s your chance to join a coalition to deny a license to the aging Diablo Canyon reactors before they become truly ancient.

      How about we finish building the replacement plant before we shut down the old one. You know how these things can get tied up.

    • Grumblefish says:

      Anon – if you’d all cut your electricity usage per capita by 15%, you wouldn’t need nuclear at all (and don’t say it’s too hard – my usage is less per capita than California’s is, and water turns solid in winter around my 80 year old house).

      Otherwise, you’re just creating the same problem California had before – you don’t want the power plants, but you want the electricity to keep flowing.

      • rebdav says:

        You can get that up to 100% and return to the stone age if you eliminate the polluting hydrocarbon power sources like petro, natural gas, and coal, don’t forget to eliminate hydro which chops up salmon.
        You mentioned eliminating nuclear even though it is a realistic zero carbon power source where the main problem has been environmental groups holding back upgrades to modern safe designs.
        Wind, and solar are actually good way to save money on sunny or windy times but NIMBY has made even those difficult to deploy with a few exceptions.
        Geothermal has not taken off except for a few places.
        Human civilization thrives on energy, cut back the supply too far and we will drop back to feudalism and slavery to replace the work once done by machines and powered tools. Until we can get a positive power ratio out of fusion modern fail safe fission reactors should replace nearly all existing power plants.

      • Anonymous says:

        Grumblefish,

        You might want to look at the relative rankings of the states in per capita electric energy usage before making statements like that. This touches a nerve because in 2001 when we in California were having the rolling blackouts because of the Texas utilities *cough* Enron *cough* messing with our energy market, we were 50th, only Rhode Island used less. The meme going around, though, at the time was that we were energy hogs. We’re now 48th, behind TN, GA, and CT and just ahead of RI. Washington DC is #5 and TX #15 This car culture state does even better (51st) when it comes to gasoline. We use about 10% less per capita than the next thriftiest state and 10% of the (weighted) national average.

        Source: Statemaster.com

  23. Laroquod says:

    Anti-nuke protesters responsible for non-upgraded reactors? Let me tell you what’s wrong with that reasoning. Anti-nuke prostesters didn’t fly in from Mars. They are part of the equation on this planet. And the protesters aren’t assigned the duty of keeping us safe from their toxic output — the nuclear industry, however, has arrogated that duty to itself. Thus any failure to operate safely due to political protests is a failure of the nuclear industry, not a failure on the part of the protesters, who are just doing what people in a democracy do. What’s more, that there would be people who do what they do in a democracy is perfectly predictable. If the nuclear industry is so politically fragile that it can’t operate safely in the presence of some democratic opposition, then it shouldn’t be allowed to operate at all in a free society.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t California’s “Big One” long overdue? I mean, we DO know its going to happen right? Why wouldn’t we start dismantling your power plants NOW? being downwind from you guys after a major earthquake scares the shit out of me. the last thing we need is more Californians, not to mention RADIOACTIVE CALIFORNIANS.

  25. mack says:

    Correction on my #30 – GE designed all six reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi, according to Wikipedia:

    The reactors for Units 1, 2, and 6 were supplied by General Electric, those for Units 3 and 5 by Toshiba, and Unit 4 by Hitachi. All six reactors were designed by General Electric. *

  26. fewz says:

    “Prime Minister Kan today warned the company”

    This was basically a preemptive effort to force the TEPCO bosses to commit the workers lives to saving Japan, as opposed to himself (demanding worker suicide.) There is plenty of blame to place, on human arrogance and greed.

    Secondly, though the root cause was a natural disaster, the risk has been well known for at least two years (if not 25) when the Intl Nuke Assoc told them their “safeguards” would be insufficient.

    The Gulf of Mexico oil leak last summer, was also caused by human greed and cutting corners, but of course, they also tried to “blame nature.” I once had a boss at a restaurant, who when we’d get really busy and overwhelmed would remind us, “you _knew_ this was coming and you didn’t prepare well enough, I don’t want to hear your crying now.”

    And thirdly, yes, when the plant workers are sure to die to accomplish their efforts, I want to see some overpaid “white collar” bastards in there too, getting soaked with radiation as well!

    • TEKNA2007 says:

      fewz said:

      > This was basically a preemptive effort to force the TEPCO
      > bosses to commit the workers lives to saving Japan, as opposed
      > to himself (demanding worker suicide.) There is plenty of
      > blame to place, on human arrogance and greed.

      BBC Live says:

      #
      1324: Japan has raised the maximum radiation dose allowed for nuclear workers, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts. It described the move as “unavoidable due to the circumstances”, AP reports.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      The blame goes to the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami.
      This is not an “accident”, it is the consequence of one of the largest natural disasters in recorded human history.

      “Plenty of blame”, indeed!

      I distrust all those who demonstrate a strong predilection to blame and to punish.

      i recommend that attitude to all.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mw 9.0 or greater are more common than people think. So are tsunamis. It’s just that we forget to soon. [e.g. see McCaffrey, "Global frequency of magnitude 9 earthquakes" for an estimate]

        While I agree that fission power must be considered as an energy source– it really should be designed to withstand such an event, specially in seismically active places like Japan (and the U.S.’ west coast).
        I live in a place which was struck by an Mw 8.8 earthquake and tsunami just last year and our government is talking about nuclear plant construction.

        Just remember, 7-point-something quakes are not by far the “worst case scenario”. Those plants should have been built to resist a Mw 9.5 quake + tsunami + fire, at least. The possible consequences are far too terrible to not be on the safe side.

  27. goodfinger says:

    Why even endanger a single worker when Japan is at the forefront of robotic technologies?
    Where are the mecha-emergency responders?
    If only Honda had spent more time teaching Asimo how to tighten a nut instead of learning to dance all of this could have been avoided.

  28. asuffield says:

    Is protection against radiation, “protective gear”, really protective?

    No, there’s no such thing as anti-radiation gear. What they have is protection against exposure to the various toxic things that lurk around a reactor and are more immediately dangerous at this stage. If the radiation level goes up from “likely to cause health problems over time” to “dangerous in the short term” then they’ll have to abandon the site.

  29. Anonymous says:

    shame on domain name buyer’s!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    lots of nutty comments about an article trying to be cute about a life or death mission that will likely kill most of the personnel. gamma rays go through anything.

    analogies are pointless. It’s a black swan event. They’re endemic to complexity. And complexity only increases.

    the next few days are critical to the Japan people and the world’s economic recovery (what happens if Tokyo and Yokahama are evacuated when the winds turn South) and, by the way, Asian dust lands on America every day.

  31. holtt says:

    Agreeing with the “send in the robots” comments. The danger isn’t really fire or heat, it’s radiation.

    I’d say the only reason for example you don’t send a helicopter in to dump water (assuming it would help) is that you don’t want to endanger the pilot. So why not a remotely controlled unmanned heavy lift helicopter? The only reason you don’t send a fire truck with high pressure sprayer in close to douse things is because of the human crew. Why not a remotely driven and controlled robotic fire truck with attached sprayer?

    • rebdav says:

      You really don’t want to accidentally crash the helicopter into an already weakened containment vessel. I don’t know of any remotely piloted heavy lift helicopters, meaning anything sent would be an untested improvisation.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The guys on the ground there should be given their equivalent of a congressional medal of honor… they know what they are sacrificing, and yet they do it anyway….

  33. cservant says:

    Did anyone else thought of The Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai when you read the title The Fukushima Fifty and glanced at the paragraphs?

  34. asuffield says:

    So why not a remotely controlled unmanned heavy lift helicopter?

    Probably because they don’t really exist. Unmanned helicopters are still developmental.

  35. a_user says:

    Just heard the wives of one of the workers in Fukushima was interviewed on tv saying she’d talked with him by phone and he was basically saying he believes he probably won’t be coming back but he has a job to do.

  36. Poet says:

    10 MILLIsievert NOT the 1000 translated by NHK on the English broadcast.

    Any Japanese speakers out there that can explain how easy it is to confuse 10 with 1000?

    • taj says:

      It’s all in the number of zeros before the comma.

      In the arabic numeral system, you jump up a unit after 3 zeros. In the Chinese system it’s after 4 zeros. so to you ten thousands is to me one “man”.

      (Which is why 10,000 is a much more important/frequently used number in East Asia. (BANZAI! 10,000 years. A journey of 10,000 ri, begins with a single step. Etc.)

      When doing simultaneous interpretation or translation, it is a MF to try to sort it our in your head. In a rush, and under the strain of worry and lack of sleep, such slips happen very easily.

    • Suginami90 says:

      I’ve been watching NHK in Japanese and they have commented that on occasion some announcements seem to have conflated milli with micro. They themselves have pointed this out in subsequent announcements.

      Please note that in column 3 below that the only recent monitoring has been at the main gate. Other previous MP (measuring place) do not appear in recent data.

      From the Tokyo Electric Power Company:
      http://www.tepco.co.jp/cc/press/betu11_j/images/110316c.pdf
      Column 1: date
      Column 2: time
      Column 3: measuring place: MP-6, MP-7, etc.; 正門 = main gate
      Column 4: MICRO Sieverts per hour
      Column 5: ?
      Column 6: wind direction
      Column 7: wind speed

      • Poet says:

        That’s bloody brilliant Sihinami90, thank you! Do you know if it keeps getting updated at that same address?

        Also, if I’m reading this right 10850 Microsievert at 12:30pm which translates to 10 Millisievert.

  37. awjtawjt says:

    MODS: please see my comment #98! THANKS!!!

  38. fewz says:

    I love being called a “tree hugger,” thanks! Every penny we’re spending on “new” energy sources, should be directed toward wind, solar, and waves. Because even one “extremely low risk” nuke “accident” can poison the earth irreparably, for centuries. That’s also to say nothing about the radioactive waste always being generated.

    If we keep building plants, the risk just keeps going up. It’s a fool’s game. Yes, we desperately need the electricity, and have already hit “peak oil” on the charts, but nuke is not the answer. Same reason I oppose the death penalty – one innocent man hanged is one too many. One Chernobyl, uh, one Three Mile Island, uh, … too many already!

    I had thought “pebble bed reactors” were the new hope. Read-up last night. Nope, similar disasters could occur when the cooling systems fail, for whatever reason, anticipated or not.

    • awjtawjt says:

      These things are almost always at sea level. I wonder why they don’t dig huge emergency pits under these reactors, filled with sea water. Emergency happens, core ejects downward into a mega-reservoir of water and will cool down on its own in time. Yes, contaminated steam will be ejected, but doesn’t that happen anyways? At least the cores would not be exposed. Reactor Core Escape hatch design, copyright awjt 2011, swiss bank account # 89654590867450823456087234578906248762397864, all profits go to Japan disaster recovery effort.

  39. DeWynken says:

    Hey QT:

    Irradiated Basterds, The Movie.

    just give me credit, and it’s all yours.

  40. Poet says:

    Six hours later Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says he was given 1000 MILLIseavert number but it was really 10 so evidently the translation WAS RIGHT originally.

    1500 MICROsievert as of 4pm March 16, 2011 Nihon time. NHK Summary of Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano’s news conference.

    Armed forces have also stopped their efforts using Helicopters to dump water on Unit 3. NHK

  41. Noodle says:

    Nobody here knows the doses these workers are being exposed to, or for how long. Without that, there is very little you can say about their prospects, good or bad.

    But. Unless they are spending a lot of time looking directly into the core, It is unlikely to be chernobyl-levels. Just saying.
    They will get healthcare for life, I’d expect.

    • Anonymous says:

      Japan has UHC.

    • Grumblefish says:

      Everyone in Japan gets healthcare for life anyway. It’s a civilised nation.

    • Jack says:

      They will get healthcare for life, I’d expect.

      Really? Are you positive of that? I hope so because even if they are not exposed to one ounce of radiation the psychological trauma of having to deal with this on top of the earthquake and tsunami are mind-bending.

      • dghenke says:

        > exposed to one ounce of radiation

        Jack? Honey?

        No more having opinions, for you, on anything technical, at all, ever again, until you complete some basic courses on (at least) physics, chemistry and SI units.

        P.S. Srsly.

        • Jack says:

          Did you read what I wrote? Here, let me clarify:

          Really? Are you positive of that? I hope so because even if they are not exposed to one ounce of radiation the psychological trauma of having to deal with this on top of the earthquake and tsunami are mind-bending.

          Let me restate that for the snarkos among us: Of course they are being expose to radiation. More than normal and not levels to physically harm as of yet or that we no of. But even if 100% nobody receives physical damage because of this event, the psychological trauma is going to be nasty and last for years.

      • emmdeeaych says:

        I am sure of that, because in Japan everyone has health care coverage.

    • SamSam says:

      They will get healthcare for life, I’d expect.

      Right, sure they will. Just like the 9/11 responders, who breathed in huge amounts of toxic ash and other particulates, got health care for life. Except they almost didn’t get any health care at all, a vast proportion of them got cancer, and it took John Stewart making a stink about it to make anyone remember them.

      Heros get pats on the back and medals, but, unless Japan is a very different place from the US, they don’t get any real help or benefits afterwards.

      • Jerril says:

        As pointed out, Japan isn’t a backward nation that sees sickness as punishment from an angry god for the sin of not being rich. One of these days, y’all will grow out of that and join the rest of us in seeing sickness as one of those things that happens to everyone, deserving or not.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          i hasten to add that my references above to any deity are not meant to imply any judgments of such are revealed by natural forces…i am amazed that such simple-minded superstition yet finds a voice.

          indeed, my reference to the deity only uses such as a shorthand for the immense natural forces which sometimes lose their usual placid and/or known characters, and become immensely destructive of humanity and our works.

          I use any such reference as merely a kind of shorthand term: used for situations which are not justly attributable to human agency.

      • chip says:

        The entire developed world is a very different place than the US. As previously pointed out, ALL Japanese citizens get excellent health care for life.

  42. TEKNA2007 says:

    As far as I can tell, the spent fuel in Fukushima Daiichi Unit #4 is not contained at all. In other words, in an intact containment scenario, the only thing between the spent fuel and the environment above is the cladding on the rods, the water it sits in and the metal shell of the outermost structure. No concrete, and now the metal shell is open. Anyone know differently?

  43. TEKNA2007 says:

    Where in the Fukushima Daiichi plant are the control rooms physically located? Can someone point to them on a map / diagram?

  44. DeWynken says:

    Some people are just heros when the time calls for it, without worrying about compensation. I assume they doing this out of honor.

  45. mack says:

    Jesus, people. We’re blowing a lot of hot air here trying to assign blame.

    The cause of all of this was a horrifically powerful earthquake, followed by a tsunami, both of which exceeded the very strict thresholds for which the Fukushima Daiichi plant was designed MORE THAN 30 YEARS AGO.

    Engineering has advanced significantly since then – in both nuclear plant design and earthquake-mitigation. But in the end, it was a magnitude-9.0 earthquake, hundreds of 6.0+ aftershocks and a 10-meter-high tsunami that knocked the thing on its backside.

    And some of us here are playing little classism-driven finger-pointing games about the execs not joining the grunts in a suicide mission to basically save most of northern Japan and anywhere else the fallout drifts?

    Are we so conditioned by the 24/7/365 punditry cycle to figure out either who’s at fault for every catastrophe, or who can make money off it – even this?

    As the cartoon Russian says, What is point?

    Consider: Would YOU go into a dead, hot nuclear plant with nothing but a flashlight, some pumps and a plastic suit if your entire world had just been shaken apart and you had no idea whether your family and friends were okay, let alone still alive? Yes? Then go ahead and point fingers at the execs.

    Shall we blame General Electric, the U.S. company that designed three of the six reactors? Care to swipe the blame brush across that big, fat target?

    Great, because those designs are in operation all over the globe. I spent the first 20 years of my life living within 5 miles of one. I’m un-radiated, my kids all have the requisite number of fingers, toes, eyes and braincells, and my hometown had light and power that it needed to grow and evolve.

    Shall we blame TEPCO? For what – storing spent fuel in the same buildings as the reactor vessels? No, can’t really do that because they did so in compliance with international nuclear-industry regulations.

    Oh, wait – that means we can blame the IAEA, right? No, they didn’t have the idea in the first place …

    I know, let’s blame the Albert Einstein, the Manhattan Project, and the U.S. nuclear industry for even coming up with the technology in the first place!

    Feel better yet? No. Me neither.

    That’s because … It. Was. A. F@&#ing. EARTHQUAKE. Chaos is a bitch, but it rules the universe, and this planet just isn’t safe. Horrible things happen to good people and when we’re at our best, more good people help the survivors to soldier on.

    Debates like these are pointless and lead only to ludicrous screeds like this one. Don’t even get me started on the “who’ll star in the movie” meme.

    If you’ve read this far, I hope it means not merely that you plan to point out how much hot air I just blew (too much, to be sure) but that you’re deeply engaged in the issue and you want to help us as a species find our way past it all.

    Here’s how to help:
    - Lobby your representatives for investment in cleaner energy.

    - If you want to help physically, do some research first.

    - If you live in an earthquake or tsunami zone, prepare your home and your family.

    - And please, donate to the relief effort.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      You know, your “process of assigning blame” seems a lot like my “process of determining what happened” so it can be avoided in the future.

      To learn from history, you have to know history. The history of the company involved is absolutely relevant, today. The history of the reactor design, also important.

      Finding responsibility is not assigning blame.

      • mack says:

        @emmdeeaych: There’s a difference, of course. But can average citizens “determine what happened?” No, we can learn what’s reported to us about official inquiries and journalists, and then by so doing have the information we need to push for prosecution and/or legislation that helps prevent such events in the future.

        @RedShirt77: I saw that too. See the above paragraph.

        Until then, what we average citizens CAN do is help the people suffering from the event and its aftermath.

        • RedShirt77 says:

          Average citizens can also stay informed so when it is determined what happened it doesn’t get swept under the rug and those with blame don’t walk away scott free.

          No reason we can’t do that and give to reduce suffering at the same time.

        • emmdeeaych says:

          what average citizens can do is look out for being screwed, and having been screwed, survival reflexes which you seem to be complaining about.

    • RedShirt77 says:

      “Shall we blame General Electric, the U.S. company that designed three of the six reactors?”

      http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fukushima-mark-nuclear-reactor-design-caused-ge-scientist/story?id=13141287

      Fuck yes we should.

    • spejic says:

      I understand your anger, but the problem is that the Japanese didn’t do the things that we know should have been done now that what should have been done in the past is known to us. The question is why? I mean, it’s obvious that at some point in the future it will be clear what we should have done in the past. And yet, despite many of the posters here possessing of the superpower of hindsight, no one listened to the things that would have been said about them in the future in the past.

      But I guess I can be blamed as well. I could have had $12 million to give to the Japanese aid effort if I had only guessed 11 25 26 33 45 in the California lottery. It’s just so obvious now.

      • mack says:

        So – what, retroactive oopsies? Any real-world take-aways here?

        My point is we’re all conditioned to blame and bloviate rather than cope. So, we have assumed bloviation as a coping mechanism for unforeseen events, and it helps no one.

        Even if you’ve never survived a big quake or other disaster (and I have, twice) then you can at least imagine what the Japanese are enduring right now – and imagine practical ways to help.

  46. ecologist says:

    No one has mentioned Heinlein, “Green Hills of Earth”, so I will. It’s what I thought of when I read this.

  47. Anonymous says:

    According to reports:

    “Two workers inside the unit were missing after the first fire, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said.”

    I think that means it is now the Fukushima 48.

  48. Anonymous says:

    “Chaos is a bitch, but it rules the universe”

    Thank you 1000 times. Some people will try to turn anything into a class argument or use it to advance their position no matter if we are too close to the TRAGEDY to really know any thing other than what you so eloquently stated; the world is a crazy unpredictable and dangerous place. And sure we’ve had better designed reactors since this plant was built. But the people who would obviously have us rip out and replace our entire energy infrastructure every 10 years (the same way you’d have us change our cars every 2 and yes the same is going to go for hybrids when someone gets a wild hair about how HORRIBLE (oh the shock) the batteries are and how much energy is needed from the GRID to plug them in (of course we can’t get enough there because you oppose every form that actually delivers it.) are obviously advocating for energy for only the lucky (richest) 15-20% of the population. And don’t come in saying that there are safer alternatives until you can come siting where they have actually been proven as a replacement, as a supplement sure … replacement … no time soon.

    /rant off

  49. a_user says:

    The workers left for 45 or 1 hour only, depending on the source you find.

  50. jonathan_v says:

    @mack #30 is the best public comment i’ve seen on this situation to date.

  51. Suginami90 says:

    Its civil war in Japan, and the enemy is Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi. If only the government could admit that to itself.

  52. efergus3 says:

    (腹切り

  53. Poet says:

    1000 MILLIsieverts measured at main gate, ALL people have been evacuated from the plant.

    Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano

Leave a Reply