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emma's bee 1
Thank you for posting this, and thanks to them for their brave actions. Here's hoping that medical countermeasures are unnecessary (but available and successful, if needed).
Posted by emma's bee on March 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM · Report this
2
I don't understand. A couple days ago it was reported that external power units had been flown in to get coolant pumps working again at Fukushima. I turn on Slog the next day and it's all fires and meltdowns and explosions, what happened between now and then? Was an attempt to restore cooling ever made, or was it just too late?
Posted by Brandon J. on March 15, 2011 at 8:21 PM · Report this
3
The workers left for 45 minutes and returned. Very bad but they haven't abandoned the plant yet.
Posted by Mugwumpt on March 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Jonathan Golob 4
@2: Too late, with fatal flaws in the design of the plants (with the diesel backup generators in the now flooded basements), in too big of a disaster zone, with too late involvement of the military in one of the least intrinsically safe reactor designs.

The real last straw were the waste storage pools, as I wrote about just a few posts down.
Posted by Jonathan Golob http://dearscience.org on March 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM · Report this
5
Jonathan, what now?

The spent fuel ponds have been the joker from the start. They were supposed to be good for a week or so . . .
Posted by ravenraven on March 15, 2011 at 8:40 PM · Report this
7
Thanks for the clarification. I've been following Slog coverage of the disaster pretty heavily for the last few days, and it's been bizarre watching things progress from an "abnormality" to a full scale meltdown. Hopefully this incident will trigger reforms in the nuclear industry, the phase out of this reactor model in particular.
Posted by Brandon J. on March 15, 2011 at 9:05 PM · Report this
prompt 8
It's their job - I wish them the best. It's not unusual for nuclear workers to be called upon sacrifice themselves for the safety of others.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_subm…
Posted by prompt on March 15, 2011 at 9:32 PM · Report this
9
@5 -- At this point in time, the only likely solution is insert teams who can assess the current state of damage to help determine and recommend fixes.
Posted by Fairhaven on March 15, 2011 at 9:32 PM · Report this
10
Fairhaven, you must be making a macabre joke. "Fixes"?
Posted by sarah68 on March 15, 2011 at 9:45 PM · Report this
eclexia 11
My guess is that there are translation issues. I'm not a Japanese speaker, but it appears that the English press first used "evacuated", and then "withdrawn". There seems to be a sheltered area they pulled back to during a radiation spike.

Nearly the same thing happened yesterday. At first the English press reported that all the workers had been evacuated. Only after about 2 hours did they correct the stories to say that 50 emergency workers remained.

The press seems to be silently correcting themselves. I have yet to see one "we reported A earlier, but it was a mistake, and actually B happened" type of article. It all just goes down the memory hole.
Posted by eclexia on March 15, 2011 at 9:45 PM · Report this
eclexia 12
@9-- who would you suggest? Elvis? The A-Team? Doctor Who?

I'm pretty sure the need is known. Get water into ponds. Now we just need a plan to levitate a swimming pool into an area no human can work. Actually, forget Elvis... Scotty can do it with the transporter.
Posted by eclexia on March 15, 2011 at 9:50 PM · Report this
13
Many many thanks to those brave workers that have been working endlessly at great sacrifice for the benefit of others; I am awed at their self-sacrifice and honor. Nuclear engineer bushido.
Posted by jambalaya on March 15, 2011 at 9:50 PM · Report this
14
This is where decent remote-control robots would come in handy. The site is likely too "hot" for any kind of human occupation. 4000 millisieverts is a likely-fatal dose. At 400 mSv/hr, that's 10 hours worth. And the damage is cumulative. Your body doesn't recover that quickly that you can go for another shift without several weeks off after a significant dose.

It's interesting that a day or so ago, they were reporting levels in micro-sieverts. Now, it's millisieverts. Ouch.

For those that are wondering what the heck a Sievert is, it's 100 Rads, or if you want to be more modern, 100 REM. There are 1000 micros in a milli, and 1000 millis in a unit. The rates cited are units per hour. The dose accumulated by the body is a function of the rate and the total time of exposure.

And, all that exposure is external. If you ingest any material, either through your lungs or mouth/stomach, it's an entirely different, and potentially worse, ballgame.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on March 15, 2011 at 9:54 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 15
So, seriously--what now? Are they just staving off the inevitable? Is most of Japan basically done for and at the whim of the wind now until... what?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://twitter.com/joeszi on March 15, 2011 at 9:56 PM · Report this
16
At 10 and 12:
What's your solution to this problem? Perhaps you should clarify for us what you think is an acceptable cost to human life and environmental degradation.
Posted by Fairhaven on March 15, 2011 at 10:03 PM · Report this
17

I would be considering exploding a tactical nuclear weapon on Fukushima (after evacuating just about everyone) to preemptively vaporize the whole mess. About 10 kilotons would do the trick.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 15, 2011 at 10:10 PM · Report this
WFM 18
It certainly does look merit a massive effort to spin off rescue and industrial cleanup versions of the remotely-operated robots and aircraft the military has been deploying.
Posted by WFM on March 15, 2011 at 10:11 PM · Report this
19
Well put.
Posted by Spindles on March 15, 2011 at 10:21 PM · Report this
Captain Wiggette 20
@17: Right. Because spreading it all into the air in a massive dust and debris plume is a fantastic idea.
Posted by Captain Wiggette on March 15, 2011 at 10:21 PM · Report this
Captain Wiggette 21
@9: Right. What they need now are assessment teams to come back and release a report of their recommended "fixes." That is totally reasonable right now.

Are these, like, unicorns that are going to be "inserted" in there? And where are you inserting these unicorns?

What the fuck are you talking about?
Posted by Captain Wiggette on March 15, 2011 at 10:26 PM · Report this
22
@ 21. You know exactly what I am talking about.

Posted by Fairhaven on March 15, 2011 at 10:45 PM · Report this
sirkowski 24
@20 You missed the Aliens reference.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on March 15, 2011 at 11:00 PM · Report this
svensken 26
@8

It's not unusual for the military, police or firefighters to sacrifice themselves. All of those jobs cannot be avoided in our society, but nuclear power can through hydro electric, solar and wind power or newer forms of plasma technology. All of the previous have very minimal effects on the environment and human lives, while nuclear fuel is stuck with us for thousands of years and directly effects innocents lives.
Posted by svensken on March 15, 2011 at 11:32 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 27
(A few others have made the observation about the staff there and their sacrifice) The staff are the REAL Heros of human history. Not those who collectively take human life in the name of conflict and nationalism, but those who collectively and actively save human life in the name of humanity. Should they have made the ultimate sacrifice I shall count them as such.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 15, 2011 at 11:34 PM · Report this
prompt 28
@26 I know. It used to be my job in the Navy.
I'd be all for solar and wind if it could actually produce enough power to run this country. I really would. But last I heard, we'd need a solar farm the size of Arizona to power LA. We haven't built a plant in 30 years and it still accounts for 20% of our power (I'm not positive on the numbers, but it's something like that.) It's 70% of our noncarbon producing power.

Imagine how much better it'd be if they didn't have to store waste onsite because they devoted some mountain in a desert miles from civilization to house it, or if there were more modern plant designs. There is a design that I heard about years ago that was in development that couldn't melt down, using something similar to a gumball machine system.
Posted by prompt on March 16, 2011 at 12:19 AM · Report this
biju 29
Thanks for making this post
Posted by biju on March 16, 2011 at 12:24 AM · Report this
svensken 30
@26

They haven't come up with a new design because we as a community havent pressured them. It's the horrible truth of our modern politicians and scientists that we must push them into better ideas and safer realities.

There was an experimental technology I heard of years ago in France that would reproduce the suns plasma reaction through deuterium. Deuterium is a low radiation and high energy output way of making a tiny sun on earth for all of our needs that uses the deuterium found in seawater, while supplying an immediate shut off when needed. But like every other experimental project, I haven't heard the slightest peep from them in years.

I'm part of the party that believes nuclear is fine, but only when we've discovered a way of directly drawing energy from the radiation decay instead of this archaic steam production which only gives us a small percentage of the energy these wonderful nuclear materials (a limited resource) produce. Supposedly a new form of panel has been theorized that could absorb the nutron decay like solar panels, instead of us using 100 year old technology which relies on the limits of water.

But enough of my babbles and drunken misspellings, I hope to god that your right and this doesn't become anything like another Chernobyl.
Posted by svensken on March 16, 2011 at 1:11 AM · Report this
svensken 31
OMG becky!! I was blackout drunk when I wrote that. Rather impressed with my drunken grammar, even if i wrote nonsense.
Posted by svensken on March 16, 2011 at 5:04 AM · Report this
32
It is disturbing that there are a few people (judging from reading these comments) who rely on the Stranger as their primary news source.
Posted by ian on March 16, 2011 at 8:56 AM · Report this
33
@14 -- I was thinking the same thing. Amidst all the terrifying craziness over the last few days, it seems strange that Japan, a country with the most advanced robotics research in the world, doesn't have something useful for this scenario.

Or is all the technology just for getting funky, being creepy and, ummm, other stuff.

(Donate to recovery at Seattle Japan Relief!)
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on March 16, 2011 at 9:19 AM · Report this
34
"Some mountain in a desert miles from civilization."

Just where would that mountain be? And would the people in the thousands of miles of civilization you'd have to cross to get the stuff to that mountain be wildly enthusiastic about that little nuclear disaster train moving through their areas?
Posted by sarah68 on March 16, 2011 at 10:22 AM · Report this
36
Can anyone clarify what the picture in the post is from?
Posted by Blech on March 16, 2011 at 12:12 PM · Report this
svensken 37
Chernobyl
Posted by svensken on March 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM · Report this
prompt 38
@34 Nevada. We did use to blow it up for shits and giggles, I'm sure putting a warehouse in the middle of nowhere would be ok too. Disaster train? Are you saying that a train carrying nuclear material will ... I don't even know what exactly. Have you ever seen the shipping casks for spent fuel? They're pretty damn tough.
Posted by prompt on March 16, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this
39
Isn't that photo from Chernobyl, circa the day after it blew up? The film looks like it's been irradiated.
Posted by Toe Tag on March 16, 2011 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Captain Wiggette 40
@22: I do not think anyone knows what you're talking about. Why don't you elaborate on your magical solution to this situation...
Posted by Captain Wiggette on March 16, 2011 at 6:35 PM · Report this
41
First, I never suggested any solution to these problems faced at these reactors.
If you had been carefully following the events at these reactors you would have understood my brief comment. At the time it was being reported that ALL the workers had been withdrawn from the site, and frankly, that was unbelievable.

No magic about this, but it does require incredible individual sacrifice, and it appears the Japanese have beefed up the crews on site beyond the 50 or so individuals that Golob reported. That would suggest they are responding to the urgency of the situation, however there are unanswered questions about events that have taken place at these sites. Investigation and review beyond TOPCO efforts is likely overdue and is just now being voiced. Different sets of eyes sometimes have a different perspective on problems and their solutions.

I believe every effort must be made to cool and contain the unshielded, spent fuel rods and the reactors. This is a problem and a solution (temporary or premanant) to a problem is often referred to as a "fix" in the venacular. One does suspect you have never turned a wrench.

Hopefully this spells it out for you in a manner you can comprehend. You might may disagree with me to the urgency of the problem, however the idea of cesium 137 being spread by burning, spent fuel rods into a dense, Japanese landscape is
not an acceptable outcome.

As I asked in @16 above, what's your solution? Why don't you clarify for us what you think is an acceptable cost to human life and environmental destruction.
Posted by Fairhaven on March 16, 2011 at 10:05 PM · Report this
Captain Wiggette 42
@41: What on earth are you babbling about? I have been following the news nearly 24/7. I cannot even begin to decipher your post here.

I'm not sure if you're just too dense to catch the sarcasm in posts 20 & 21, but if you missed the news: THE SITUATION IS ROYALLY FUCKED. And Tepco appears to have their thumbs up their asses worried more about PR than ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION.

They need to be FLOODING this site with EVERY GODDAMN WATER PUMP AND GENERATOR AND FUEL SOURCE they can find in the country. NOW.

And they need to be preparing massive loads of concrete, sand, and boron to dump on top of exposed core if they have to. They need to be preparing to build massive concrete structures to contain what's left of these reactors if possible.

At the moment they making a couple of trips with a helicopter to dump a few tons of water onto pools that are apparently empty, which should be holding 2,000 tons of water.

So what the FUCK are you talking about? "Fixes"? FIXES TO WHAT?!?
Posted by Captain Wiggette on March 17, 2011 at 9:09 PM · Report this

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