Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lemming Tracks: This Time, the Doomsayers are Right

The Lemming didn't hop on the bandwagon, equating the Three Mile Island accident with Chernobyl: and both to an obviously-serious situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

That's because, a month ago, information in the public domain didn't warrant that sort of response. In the Lemming's opinion. As facts started filtering out, it looked like the reactors at Fukushima might be melting. That was bad economic news for TEPCO, the power plant's owner. But it seemed to the Lemming that damage to the confidence folks in Japan had in their government might be a more serious problem than the reactors.

The situation has been staying about the same; or getting worse: depending on what aspect of the debacle you looked at. This evening (Monday evening - I'm posting this a bit after midnight), Japan set the seriousness of their melting reactors at seven: the top of the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). They've now, in that way, equaled the Soviet Union's Chernobyl blowout.

Finally Being Right - and 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'

Sooner or later the doomsayers will get it right. It's like 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf.' Eventually there really was a wolf: but by then the neighbors had gotten tired of hearing the same false alarm, over and over. I've used the old "wolf" story a few times in this blog:
This time, finally, the doomsayers got it right: at least in terms of that INES scale.

Here's what got the Lemming started:
"Japan nuclear disaster tops scale"
Matt Smith, CNN World (April 12, 2011)

"Japan declared the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant a top-scale event on the international system for rating nuclear accidents Tuesday, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

"The decision to bump the accident up to level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale came after a review of the amount of radiation released in the month since the accident, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, chief spokesman, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The Fukushima Daiichi accident is now at the top of that scale and two notches higher than the rating Japanese officials assigned to it previously.

" 'Right at this moment, we are still trying to control this accident, and the nuclear reactors are not stable yet,' Nishiyama said. 'We are dealing with all our might and resources and try to minimize the impact of the radiation to the people around this nuclear plant.'..."
"Radiation evacuation zone to be extended beyond 20 km"
asahi.com (April 12, 2011)

"The government said Monday it will issue new evacuation orders for areas with high levels of accumulated radiation that lie beyond the 20-kilometer radius of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, despite complaints from two local mayors.

"The orders will cover certain areas within the 20- to 30-kilometer radius in which residents have been instructed to remain indoors. It will also include some areas that lie beyond the 30-km radius.

"Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the new orders will apply to the villages of Iitate and Katsurao, the town of Namie and parts of the town of Kawamata and the city of Minami-Soma, all in Fukushima Prefecture.

"Edano said at a news conference Monday afternoon the government will ask residents to evacuate in about a month.

" 'We will not ask residents to evacuate immediately,' he said. 'But we have decided on the policy, taking long-term risks into consideration.'...

"...Edano explained the new evacuation orders will apply to dispersed areas, unlike the current concentric zone extending from the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

"The new evacuation zone, called a planned evacuation area, covers areas projected to suffer an accumulated radiation of 20 millisieverts or more annually...."

Millisieverts? The Lemming's posted about that before. (March 18, 2011)
"Japan nuke crisis 'static' but not yet stable"
Associated Press, via FoxNews.com (April 11, 2011)

"The top U.S. nuclear regulator said Monday he will not change a recommendation that U.S. citizens stay at least 50 miles away from Japan's crippled nuclear power plant, even as he declared that the crisis in that country remains 'static.'

"Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that the month-old crisis in Japan has not yet stabilized. But he said conditions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have not changed significantly for several days.

"We describe the situation as static but not yet stable,' Jaczko said....

"...The March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power at the Fukushima plant and reactors have been overheating ever since. In Japan on Tuesday, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan raised the severity rating of the crisis from 5 to 7, the highest level and on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster...."

Bottom line, as the Lemming sees it:
  • What's happening at Fukushima's power plant is a very serious problem
  • Japan's government could have handled the disaster better
    • Or worse
Related posts:
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5 comments:

Brigid said...

At least they didn't say 'hey, let's see what happens when we take the safeties off.'

Is this the way it's spelled? "equaled the Soviet Union's Chernobyl blowout."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

prasad said...

Every country and every one knows that earthquakes are common in Japan so why did they built nuclear power plants? they know very well if they blasts what will be happened. Now they facing that situation it is very bad and unfortunate. Most powerful countries in this world like Russia, America, China and other European countries should help Japan to come out from this situation as soon as Japan come out from this situation they will fulfill their needs as well before this Nuclear blast in fukushima no one dont know where this city and what is the advantage of this city. Now every one can easily identify fukushima.

prasad said...

The people where the Nuclear Plant blast occurred should be shifted to safety zone where they can live without any deceases without radiation. Japan government take the help from other countries like America, Russia so they can come out as early as possible.

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

About "equaled the Soviet Union's Chernobyl blowout" - yes. "Chernobyl" is the name as expressed in the Latin alphabet in American English, of course - but that's the default language for this blog.

As for safety protocols - TEPCO didn't do a daft test, but they do seem to have bungled their maintenance and inspection procedures.

Brian Gill said...

prasad,

Japan also has refineries, one of which caught fire. I'm not going to claim that folks in Japan should leave the country, or abandoned contemporary technology.

And - although there were explosions at the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, none were a "Nuclear blast."

Although I wouldn't put it past a Hollywood studio to make a movie based on that premise.

As for international aid for Japan?

It's happening.

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