Even as the situation at the troubled Fukushima Nuclear Reactors … well, remains troubled … the post-game analysis of what went wrong and what could have been done better develops. It is becoming clear that the plant had no real plan for the event of a tsunami even though it was built at an elevation within that affected by historically known and documented tsunami waves, and there is post-hoc confusion and denial related to early screw ups in trying to avoid a meltdown in the reactors (which ended up occurring), for instance.
Highly radioactive water continues to leak out of at least one reactor vessel, and no real progress appears to have been made in securing cooling mechanisms or containing damage to the environment around the plant. The level of radioactivity at the ocean outlet of the plant has increased rather than decreased. It was news when a broken pump in reactor 5 was repaired, but Reactor 5 is stable and was quietly and uneventfully shut down until this pump broke and the reactor started heading for a meltdown (objections that these reactors can’t melt down in three … two … one …). It became especially clear over the last few days that the situation is very far from under control when a regionally typical tropical storm threatened the area and there was no plan for how to address flooding rains and winds or other inclement storm conditions.
Monitoring for radiation exposure of people, plants, landscapes, etc. continues within a climate of increasing uncertainty about the dangers of ionizing radiation. Cattle are being moved out of the area, the snow in the mountains near Fukushima is found to be radioactive, and junior high students are being urged to wear long sleeved shirts, just in case. The Prime Minister is facing a no confidence vote.
The estimated cost of the cleanup (and it is a bit early to estimate, but still..) is about four or five percent of Japan’s GDP.
Continue reading Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 26: “My head is full of question marks”