Monday, March 14, 2011
Most interesting to me this morning are the financial implications of all these things and let's start with Japan. Monumental doesn't seem to describe the unholy mess there, just the sheer awfulness of all that mud, twisted steel, radioactive trash, and decomposing human bodies scattered amongst and within it. The cost of it seems beyond calculation, but the first questions might be how does a deeply-in-debt Japan raise some cash to begin digging out and (possibly) rebuilding (and I add that qualification because I don't know that a lot of this lost stuff will be rebuilt at all). But it will be cleaned up and sorted out. The obvious answer to the funding question is that Japan sells foreign bonds, namely US and European.
And now the third
The third of the three operating Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants -- the one that hasn'tblown up yet -- is now reporting that its cooling system has stopped, according to Reuters.
At some point, this situation is likely to overcome the people trying to deal with it. Several of the workers have been hurt, many have been exposed to radiation levels beyond any reasonable measure of safety, and probably a few have been killed. Even if there's a way to prevent a catastrophic total meltdown, or two or three of them, there may not be enough crew on hand to get it done.
Meanwhile, the big U.S. aircraft carrier in the area is reporting elevated radiation levels offshore -- 100 miles away. But hey, everything's o.k. here on the West Coast of the United States -- don't worry 'bout a thing.
UPDATE, 3/14, 12:41 a.m.: Some additional food for thought:
More steam releases also mean that the plume headed across the Pacific could continue to grow. On Sunday evening, the White House sought to tamp down concerns, saying that modeling done by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had concluded that "Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity."Notice -- no assurance that you won't get any radiation, just that the government is going to tell you that it's not "harmful."
But all weekend, after a series of intense interchanges between Tokyo and Washington and the arrival of the first American nuclear experts in Japan, officials said they were beginning to get a clearer picture of what went wrong over the past three days. And as one senior official put it, "under the best scenarios, this isn’t going to end anytime soon."And as for the effectiveness of the seawater pumping effort:
To pump in the water, the Japanese have apparently tried used firefighting equipment — hardly the usual procedure. But forcing the seawater inside the containment vessel has been difficult because the pressure in the vessel has become so great.Triple meltdown has real potential here.One American official likened the process to "trying to pour water into an inflated balloon," and said that on Sunday it was "not clear how much water they are getting in, or whether they are covering the cores."The problem was compounded because gauges in the reactor seemed to have been damaged in the earthquake or tsunami, making it impossible to know just how much water is in the core.