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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another restless Sunday in Fukushima

There was a 7.0 earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan this morning (late Saturday afternoon Portland time). They're calling it an aftershock of the 9.0 quake of March 11 -- let's hope they're right, and that the two shakers aren't precursors to some larger, more destructive event yet to come. Today's quake was in roughly the same place as the March 11 quake. This time, there was no major tsunami.

And since today's 7-pointer, there have been a series of 4.7 and 4.8 aftershocks close by -- six of them in four and a half hours. You can imagine what all of this is doing to the minds and hearts of the workers at the Fukushima triple-meltdown site. Four nuclear reactors there are in deep trouble, and the delicate work of trying to keep them from even greater disaster has got to be a lot harder when evacuation sirens are blowing and the ground under you is throwing you around. Here's a video of the 7.0 quake, as seen from the videocam posted by the reactor operator, Tokyo Electric (a.k.a. Tepco). Things really get going about 25 seconds into it:

Among Fuku watchers, all eyes have been on reactor 4, which is way in the back from that viewpoint (just to the right of the center of the frame). The plant building is on the verge of collapse, and the spent fuel pool has been shored up by steel posts beneath it, as the walls around it appear on the verge of collapse. If the spent fuel pool in number 4 should fall and go dry, it may be tough getting a plane ticket out of Tokyo for a long time.

Tepco reportedly is just now bringing in shrinks to counsel its employees at Fukushima -- four months into the worst and most prolonged nuclear crisis in history. Maybe the workers could use some counseling, they say. Gee, guys, d'ya think? They'd better keep their heads together -- it may be 10 years before they start working on the trashed fuel itself.

The latest big one in Japan is the third 7-point earthquake around the Pacific Rim in the last 18 days. There was a 7.6 between Tonga and New Zealand on Wednesday of this past week, and a 7.2 rocked the Aleutian Islands on June 24.

Meanwhile, closer to home, there was 4.1 earthquake off the coast of Oregon last evening, just as the 4.7 Japanese aftershocks were going off. The epicenter of the Oregon temblor was about 200 miles off shore, at a depth of about six and a half miles. From the looks of the mainstream media, nobody felt it. Two hundred miles is a long distance. Let's keep it that way.

Comments (3)

If you haven't yet found time for "NHK Presents: Nuclear Plant," a doc running on Link TV (again today, 3-4PM via Dish), you might find the account worth watching. The description is simply: "The radiation from Fukushima's nuclear plant continues to disrupt people's lives."

I've been following this story and NHK World had a different report on earlier that included a qualifier: "The roadmap indicates that removal will start in 2021 if technology essential for the work has been developed before that." So factor that in too.

It's hard to keep calm when you're relying on information from Japan and other governments that you can't trust. I have seen this described as anywhere from a tragedy confined mainly to the farmers, etc... in the evacuation zone to the fall of Western Civilization. By the way, watching this quake footage, made me ache for the People of Japan. How do you keep going? Just psychologically, this is too much.

I wish I was kidding about the second part of the range of damage, but there are theories that the cost of dealing with the health problems from this, will sink the West. We are the down-winders here. Older people could get lung cancer, etc...but the real magnitude of this mega-disaster won't be known 'til we see what happens to the very young.
The problem with being a fetus or baby is that your cells are dividing so rapidly in such crucial ways that a hot particle can cause tremendous damage. Already the death rate for babies is reported to have gone up, but what will the newborn babies be like? How many will be deformed as they are in Iraq from our use of depleted uranium?

As far as the accident's timeline, you might as well say we're in the second trimester.

I had dinner with friends last night. One had just got back from a business trip in Japan. As I have posted before from calls I get from a Tokyo friend, she confirmed that the stoicism of the Japanese is even more pronounced than even a couple of months ago. With internet, many citizens are more informed than what their government provides, but the fatalism endures. We seem to be worrying more than them.

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