Well, it looks like things have improved a bit on the “nuclear incident.” It looks like power is being restored to the reactors and the somewhat comical measures of spraying the reactors with crowd control hoses and dumping water with helicopters have worked, at least to the point that the fuel rods aren’t overheating. Allegedly. I’m sure Fox News will be disappointed that the entire nation of Japan isn’t glowing green. Sorry, Fox. Go find something else to over-exaggerate.
The ‘crisis’ is not over yet but it looks like we’re moving to a more stable situation. I just hope the foreign media stays around just in case something else happens. TEPCO will most definitely try to cover any further accidents/malfunctions up, so it’s good if there are other news agencies around.
TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power) has been in trouble for safety cover-ups long before this one, including not reporting criticality events and “minor” radiation leaks at their other plants. At Fukushima, they delayed getting help, failed to report the seriousness of the situation to the government, and basically tried to pretend everything was all right. They didn’t want to cool their machinery with seawater because they knew it would render them permanently inoperable. So….they just let the fuel rods get hotter, and hotter. For two days or so. I guess they thought they would magically cool by themselves? By the time they stated the truth about the problem and got outside help, their lack of action and transparency had placed hundreds of thousands of people in jeopardy. These TEPCO executives were pretty much trying to save their own bacon. And then, 50 technical workers have to stay behind and clean up the disaster they let happen. I am quite sure that none of those 50 workers who risked their lives in the plant are TEPCO executives, though they should be. It’s only fair.
The TEPCO spokespeople and executives are just looking worse with every passing news conference. Their stance is, “Well, we did our best to prevent disaster, and we did, so what are you still complaining about?” These are the same people who turned down assistance from the US and Japanese military until things almost went into full-blown disaster. They’re still grumbling about the US exclusion zone of 50 miles, rather that the mere 12 miles they say is safe. The way they’re downplaying it in such a self-serving manner has caused major bad feelings even amongst the usually apathetic Japanese. TEPCO is saying “It’s becoming stable and safe,” to which the whole nation is saying, “No thanks to you, jerks!”
This is how I visualize the whole situation: Some hot ashes fell on TEPCO’s house. They quickly shovelled the ash onto their neighbor’s porch. When the neighbor’s house caught on fire, they stood and watched for awhile, then stood near the neighbor’s front door and then poured a cup on water on their neighbor’s burned body as they fled the flames. Then TEPCO announced to the world that they had bravely risked their lives to save their neighbor.
It’s true the tsunami was just an act of nature. But the bungling thereafter was all human error and greed on the part of the folks who didn’t want to destroy their own power plant, out of greed, ignorance or denial. Or probably all three. I think if this was the US, the executives would be facing criminal charges. We’ll have to see what will goes on from now. At least things appear to be getting better rather than worse.
I think everyone has breathed a sigh of relief that there wasn’t a breeder reactor at the Fukushima plant. Breeder reactors are capable of producing more plutonium than they use (up to 30% more) and only three nations use them: Japan, India and France. The big advantage is that the fuel can be recycled and you can make more with every cycle, hence the term “breeder.” It was actually at the Monju breeder reactor reprocessing facility that the infamous “bucket reaction” took place in 1999, where the workers were mixing uranium salts by HAND in buckets, which set off an controlled “nuclear event.” Good thing we have capable folks overseeing the nuclear industry here.
I still have the heebie-jeebies over everything that has happened, and I’m keeping an eye on the events, but I think I can stop holding my breath.