Thursday, March 17, 2011

Still Very Exceptionally Bad Things

Got Transparency?


A spokesperson for the Japanese Prime Minister told the BBC he "couldn't understand [the] behavior" of foreign governments which have directed their citizens in Japan to leave the country, or of individual foreigners leaving on their own. The inference was that there was no reason to do so.

At the same time, attempts by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government to affect the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have (again, by the BBC) appeared "increasingly erratic and desperate".

For a second day, U.S.-built Chinook helicopters dropped seven-ton containers of water on Reactor building Number 3 -- however, they had to fly at around 1000 feet in the air to avoid high levels of radiation; videos of the drops showed most of the water missing the building and drifting away.


Video also showed police and fire department trucks with water cannons, brought in to fire water into building number 3... but again, couldn't get close enough to deliver much water due to high radioactivity.


Video To Explain The Nuclear Crisis To Japan's Children: The Sick
Nuclear Plant Needs Help From Doctors To Stop Pooping -- But He's
Better Than Mr. Chernobyl, Or Mr. Three-Mile Island (UTub)

The focus of activity is on Reactor 3, in particular the spent fuel rods stored in a pool just below its badly damaged roof. It was revealed today for the first time that these spent fuel rods are filled, not with pellets of Uranium-238, but of a higher-grade nuclear fuel called "Mox" -- a mixture containing Plutonium Oxide.

If these fuel rods aren't kept submerged in water, they will overheat and begin to burn. The smoke from that fire will be amazingly radioactive, and will release particles of Plutonium, which has a half-life of 25,000 years.
In Tokyo, They're Detecting, Uh, Something
From Western news reports I've read or have listened to today, my impression is a consensus is developing that, since the crisis began last Saturday, TEPCO has not been fully honest with the Japanese government or the media about how bad the situation actually was as the danger developed -- an example being the "Mox" spent fuel mix in Reactor Building 3; why did TEPCO or the Japanese government delay in revealing a fact that critical?

Infographic Of Plant Damage (As Of March 16, 2011), Via Reuters

By not being forthcoming, TEPCO's position has delayed and deflected resources and advice which, applied earlier, might have made a difference. As a result, the crisis is moving from something like Three-Mile Island swiftly into Chernobyl territory.

Not that it matters now, but shares in TEPCO on Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Exchange have lost 62% of their value since March 11th.