Setback at Fukushima

“Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”, said Einstein.

The latest setback facing workers and technicians who are trying to alleviate the damage is a function of how nuclear power works. Heat is the product. In this crisis there was no better alternative than to pump tons of water into the plant to cool the nuclear core. The problem of radioactive water was kicked down the road, and is proving more complicated than anticipated.

Officials at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant suspended an operation to clean contaminated water hours after it had begun because of a rapid rise in radiation.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is investigating the cause and could not say when the clean-up will resume, company spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said.

Fresh water is being pumped in to cool damaged reactor cores, and is becoming contaminated in the process. Around 105,000 tonnes of highly radioactive water have pooled across the plant, and could overflow within a couple of weeks if action is not taken.

Water itself is hard to control. The world is in desperate need of clean energy, and current sources are all unsustainable, but nuclear is not the way. Human error and unforseen events are the rule, not the exception.

Human beings are living in the path of radioactive fallout, and human beings are doing drudge labor to literally bail out the mess. From the Daily Yomiuri

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday released a revised version of its timetable to bring the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant under control, in response to reports that workers dealing with the crisis at the plant were overexposed to radiation.

The original timetable in April was revised once before–on May 17.

Taking into consideration that several workers at the nuclear power plant may have been exposed to levels of radiation exceeding emergency dosage limits, TEPCO added “radiation control and medicine” to the timetable.

This section pledges the utility will establish a new clinic with state-of-the-art medical equipment within the grounds of the power plant and increase the number of doctors.

Slow to act. Another certainty of human nature– fear and dissembling.

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2 thoughts on “Setback at Fukushima

  1. For example, Thanks for keeping us up on the nuclear troubles in Japan.

    One phrase I hear too often is “clean energy.” I think no such thing as all sources have problems. For example, wind poweris well known to have impacts, from manufacturing, transmission lines, scenic impacts, blades killing flying animals, disturbing natural areas, especially on the coast or on ridgelines. Similar with solar where large-scale desert solar farm proposals can threaten endangered species. Hydro can disrupt river life, flood forest, farms and wildlife habitat

    That said, the best we can hope for is to develop energy sources that are affordable and have the least impacts. Ir is also a reminder we humans have to do more to control our skyrocketing population that adds to energy demand.

    • It is perverse that we don’t make family planning available to everyone. When girls are able to get an education and have access to safe birth control couples generally choose smaller families.
      Conservation is also overlooked. I don’t think we really enjoy the culture of waste we live with now, and it won’t continue. Already prices at the supermarket are way up. I was just watching TV, some insurer has commercials that show cars being smashed. That might not appeal to people who are struggling to keep their old car going.
      I think we have to look to multiple, local energy solutions and smarter use. Jimmy Carter got flamed for wearing a sweater. Well, duh. The ‘American way of life’ is not keeping your house at 80 degrees in January, no matter what Dick (oilman) Cheney said.

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