Monday, March 21, 2011

Japan: Missed Inspections, Two Colors of Smoke at Fukushima; Years of Rebuilding Ahead

Japan's worst earthquake in recorded history is still in the news. Here's a sample:
"Japan tsunami survivors face long wait to go home"
AP, via The Hindu (March 21, 2011)

"Temporary housing is beginning to go up for the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes in last week's tsunami in Japan...."

It's obvious, in the Lemming's opinion, that folks in Japan will be putting their homes and lives back together for many years.

"Japanese nuke plant operator missed inspections"
AP, via The Hindu (March 21, 2011)

"Japan's nuclear safety agency says the operator of the country's troubled nuclear complex repeatedly failed to make crucial inspections of equipment in the weeks before it was crippled in the quake and tsunami...."

This isn't 'Monday morning quarterbacking.' The report - that 33 pieces of equipment hadn't been properly inspected - came out nine days before the earthquake.

"Japan reconstruction may take 5 years: World Bank"
PTI, via The Hindu (March 21, 2011)

"Japan may need five years to rebuild from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that has caused up to $235 billion of damage, the World Bank said on Monday.

"The March 11 disaster which killed more than 8,600 people and left more than 12,800 missing, and ravaged northeastern Japan will likely shave up to 0.5 percentage point from the country’s economic growth this year, the bank said in a report. The impact will be concentrated in the first half of the year, it said.

" 'Damage to housing and infrastructure has been unprecedented,' the World Bank said. 'Growth should pick up though in subsequent quarters as reconstruction efforts, which could last five years, accelerate.'..."

Maybe it seems cold and calculating, discussing money and economics at a time like this. But that, in the Lemming's opinion, is one way to measure how well folks are doing - or how badly off they are.

News of radioactive spinach aren't going to help food producers in that area - although it'd take a year of eating the "tainted food" to get the same dose of radiation you'd get in a CT scan. (March 19, 2011)

"Workers Evacuated as Smoke Rises From Japanese Nuclear Plant"
VOA News, Voice of America (March 21, 2011)

"Nuclear authorities say workers have been evacuated from an area of Japan's troubled nuclear plant after gray smoke was seen coming from one of its reactors.

"Officials said Monday that no increase in radiation levels has been detected and they are still trying to determine the cause of the smoke...."

That, plus more rain and more restrictions on "certain foods contaminated by the radiation" - Folk in northeastern Japan are most profoundly not having a good month.

About the rain - on top of being somehow connected with concerns about radiation, it makes flying difficult.

"...Authorities said the rain was also preventing helicopter crews from flying food, water and other relief goods to remote locations where tens of thousands of people are housed in makeshift shelters with scant food and heat.

"A spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the smoke was detected in mid-afternoon and that workers were 'temporarily' evacuated until the cause can be determined. He said the smoke was coming from the area of the Number 3 reactor, one of two reactors which are believed to have suffered damage to the containment chambers surrounding their nuclear cores.

"Authorities said earlier that two of the six reactors at the Fukushima complex are now stabilized and that progress has been made in restoring power lines so that water can be pumped to the others. But the government says it may be days before power is restored to the Number 2 reactor, which also is thought to have suffered damage to its containment chamber. Serious problems also remain at the number 4 reactor...."

The Lemming thinks it's a good idea to be careful about potentially-unsafe food. On the other hand, halting sale of spinach and another leafy vegetable, and raw milk, from four prefectures isn't going to be easy on folks who make a living with that facet of agribusiness.

"Smoke spews from 2 reactors at stricken Japanese nuclear plant"
CNN (March 21, 2011)

Smoke spewed Monday from two adjacent reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a nuclear safety official said, setbacks that came despite fervent efforts to prevent the further release of radioactive materials at the stricken facility.

"After 6 p.m., white smoke was seen emanating from the facility's No. 2 reactor, according to Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. About two hours earlier, workers were evacuated from the area around the No. 3 reactor after gray smoke began to rise from the wreckage of its steel-and-concrete housing, which was blown apart by a hydrogen explosion last week.

"The No. 3 reactor has been the top priority for authorities trying to contain damage to the plant and stave off a possible meltdown. Its fuel includes a small percentage of plutonium mixed with the uranium in its fuel rods, which experts say could cause more harm than regular uranium fuels in the event of a meltdown...."

The big concern is the health and safety of folks living and working around the Fukushima power plant. That said, the Lemming also thinks that this is not a good time to be involved with Tokyo Electric Power Co. / TEPCO, the company that runs the facility. Judging from what's in the news, TEPCO is going to have quite a bit of explaining to do.

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2 comments:

Brigid said...

There's another oddly placed comma: "spending years, putting their homes and lives back together."

I say another because I mentioned one in a post from a different blog.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Right you are. I re-formed the sentence while I was at it.

And I think I've spotted your first 'odd comma' comment. Thanks!

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