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Japanese nuke plant run with help from yakuza (mafia) / Two dogs rescued from nuke plant (video)
June 28, 2011 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Tepco, the Japanese nuclear power company, is still battling multiple core meltdowns including one complete "melt-through" (breach of containment). The news gets worse, except for one hopeful story of two dogs.

First the bad news.. from the link:
Former and current workers within the plant testify that many of the hired hands are yakuza or ex-yakuza members. “When we’d enter the plant, we’d all change clothes first. The cleanup crews were staffed with guys covered with typical yakuza tattoos, a rough bunch”. A former yakuza boss notes, “we’ve always been involved in recruiting laborers for TEPCO. It’s dirty, dangerous work and the only people who will do it are homeless, yakuza, banished yakuza, or people so badly in debt that they see no other way to pay it off.”

Sugaoka scoffs at the company’s use of the word “unprecedented” when describing the recent disaster. “TEPCO knowingly used a defective, misaligned piece of equipment for over a decade and doctored video footage showing massive problems. Is it any surprise that the reactor would eventually break down? The containment vessel was never designed to withstand an earthquake. Reactor one is 40 years old, it should have been shut down ten years ago.”

“It seems very clear that TEPCO knew that an earthquake would probably damage the reactors and result in a meltdown. They failed to take preventive measures and their response in after-math was negligent, insufficient, and under Japanese law, they will be held criminally responsible. The question is who will take the fall and how far the investigation will go.”

90,000 people have been evacuated.. the number is expected to rise as early as this week, as radiation “hotspots” outside the 20 km evacuation zone emerge.
Now about the dogs:

Two Shiba Inu dogs were observed on a Tepco surveillance camera roaming nearby the reactor. Animal rescue "guerilla" Hiroshi Hoshi of the Hoshi Family trespassed onto Tepco property and got the dogs, who are now hiding in an "underground bunker" at an undisclosed location. A plant manager at Tepco saw the above video and demanded the dogs, "He sounded that those dogs actually belong to TEPCO, because they were found at privately owned area of the plant," Mr Hoshi said. "We will never give them away -- we are the guardians of those two dogs." Hoshi has rescued other dogs, including this one (caution: dead dog scene). More on the Hoshi family organization The Hachiko Coalition.
posted by stbalbach (129 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mad props to the Hoshi family.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:47 PM on June 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


"The Hachiko Coalition would also like to unveil our new theme song — the song for the Lost Animals of Fukushima! "
posted by stbalbach at 8:49 PM on June 28, 2011


Well, you know, if cancer risks and uninhabitable land and inedible, irradiated crops and fish and the still-unsolved problem of what to do with nuclear waste that'll be toxic for thousands of years is still not enough to make government and industry rethink nuclear power, maybe the dollars and cents of it will.

38 years of nuke profit up in smoke?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:00 PM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The news gets better: this story is by Jake Adelstein. You can pretty much disregard it as sensationalism.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:01 PM on June 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Japan Times: Yakuza eye cleanup profits (Yakuza tattoos)

Reuters: Japan Reports 15 Tons of Radioactive Water Leaked Into Ground Near Fukushima nuclear power facility

The Atlantic: TEPCO has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with the nation of Japan

CBS: Japan's radiation dilemma: Leave or live in fear

Yakuza, Lies, and Danger Are Only a Few Reasons to Hate TEPCO: After decades of sterling grins and nuclear juice, TEPCO is finally being realized as the crooked, careless atom-monger it is. : TEPCO: Will Someone Turn Off the Lights?

Related nuke reactor mess news:
(Water has leaked into building containing radioactive material at Ft. Calhoun nuke plant )Arnie Gundersen on WBAI: Intake Structure that cools reactor and spent fuel pool is probably most vulnerable part of Ft. Calhoun nuke plan — Critical that it stays dry

In NJ: Cooling pump fails at New Jersey nuclear reactor, plant shut down — Remains in ‘hot shutdown’ Salem Unit 2 nuclear reactor shuts down after cooling pump failure

Greg Mello on US Nuclear Weapons Renaissance & Wildfire Threatens Los Alamos Nuclear Lab | Radioactive tritium very close to Los Alamos fire, about half a mile away — Lab would be the last to tell you if there was a serious problem
posted by nickyskye at 9:11 PM on June 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


So to totally divert this, does anybody else feel like this sort of thing completely validates the "Wikileaks worldview", that it is just unacceptable for powerful entities to have secrets?
posted by SomeOneElse at 9:17 PM on June 28, 2011 [19 favorites]


The news gets better: this story is by Jake Adelstein. You can pretty much disregard it as sensationalism.

Actually, knowing what I do about Jake Adelstein (surely one of the most knowledgeable reporters on Japanese organized crime and the culture that surrounds it) I'd be far more likely to disregard your comment, which is essentially baseless.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:19 PM on June 28, 2011 [24 favorites]


The news gets better: this story is by Jake Adelstein. You can pretty much disregard it as sensationalism.

I'm not sure about your ongoing beef with Adelstein, but how is this any kind of sensationalism:

TEPCO has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with the nation of Japan: cronyism, collusion, gentrification, corruption, weak regulation, and entropy. Despite being in the spotlight for the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, TEPCO continues to engage in questionable labor practices...

TEPCO just recently admitted that they couldn't find some of the day laborers they'd hired in order to give them the health screenings mandated by the Japanese government. Health checks TEPCO had to be ordered to carry out. They can't even maintain records of who they've got working to clean up their mess. They've blamed the gaffe on the subcontractors they're using to get workers, which, if you've been following along, includes companies that advertised for work in Gunma and elsewhere, and then the workers found themselves in buses pulling up to the gates of the plants.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:19 PM on June 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm struck by the parallels with BP. I feel like a lot of the pro/anti nuclear power debate obscures a basic truth: when we live in a world where governments are in regulatory capture to corporate money, these things will continue to happen. Oil, coal, fracking, whatever, whenever there's a major energy disaster you're sure to see reports of how the companies in question cut corners, dodged the rules, and bullshitted their way to exorbitant profits.

Its not nuclear power itself that's dangerous, its any dangerous endeavor in the hands of cowboy hyper-capitalist scofflaws. I wish I could believe that this situation will improve, but I don't see any evidence of that.
posted by chaff at 9:20 PM on June 28, 2011 [44 favorites]


Can't tell whether this is parody or real. The technitian cat who voided the waranty has me confused. This RT video is worth watching for the surreal side of the nightmare: Nuclear Trouble Intensifies in Japan and USA 6/26/11

Spittin' Cesium's [love his name, entertainingly disturbing posts] comment: 'Yakuza sending debtors to Fukushima as Cleanup Workers' | Fukushima Tepco WORKERS reveal REAL work conditions & FRAUD

Nuclear event in Matsue, Japan, caused by jellyfish (wtf?).
posted by nickyskye at 9:32 PM on June 28, 2011


Actually, knowing what I do about Jake Adelstein (surely one of the most knowledgeable reporters on Japanese organized crime and the culture that surrounds it) I'd be far more likely to disregard your comment, which is essentially baseless.,
Eh, you can pretty much disregard comments by 'charlie don't surf' as a general rule. Here's Jake Adelstein's Wikipedia article if you want to know more about the guy.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


nickyskye, it appears that you are linking to the conspiracy forum Godlike Productions and YouTube videos by a man calling himself "MsMilkytheclown" to attempt to convey some sort of factual information. Would you like advice on that subject?

As for your links to Nebraska and New Jersey, they don't seem to actually indicate that anything is happening at either of those places. Like all types of power plants, parts of nuclear power plants occasionally break down and are repaired. That doesn't mean they aren't the safest form of energy known to humankind.
posted by shii at 9:48 PM on June 28, 2011


Okay! Some legitimately better news: The operation to extract a cylindrical 3.2-tonne mechanism that had fallen through a hole in the roof of Japan's insanely troubled, incredibly toxic Monju breeder reactor was a success.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:53 PM on June 28, 2011


was a success.

What is that word? It is unfamiliar and strange.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:09 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


shii, it appears you are linking to a website called "NoTricksZone" run by someone who is a "sceptic of the AGW hypothesis" as a way to convey factual information about energy policy. Would you like advice on that subject?
posted by stbalbach at 10:21 PM on June 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


I want an "open-source" government. Shine a light on it all.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 PM on June 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd also really like it if the "filter" part of MeFi were applied to the sites people are choosing to promote here. Conspiracy theory loon sites are No Fucking Help.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:27 PM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


This sentence in the article caught my eye:

TEPCO has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with the nation of Japan: cronyism, collusion, gentrification, corruption, weak regulation, and entropy.

There are indeed many things wrong with Japanese society, but "gentrification"? And TEPCO being a symbol of this alleged gentrification?

While Adelstein is an engaging writer, the fact that he is doesn't live in Japan means that he's one step removed from the situation on the ground and must rely on what others tell him (and his co-author). In my opinion that lowers his legitimacy a notch or two below that of other local journalists such as Hiroko Tabuchi or Norimitsu Onishi of the NYT or David Pilling of the FT (prior to 2008).
posted by armage at 10:28 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


But don't you know, the conspiracy loons are in on the conspiracy, they are the conspiracy, they are working for TEPCO
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:34 PM on June 28, 2011


Fucking Jake Adelstein and his goddamn yakuza schtick.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:36 PM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, there are numerous small errors in the article that make me wonder about the veracity of the piece as a whole (e.g. radiation levels are not reported on NHK for cities across Japan but only for those in the Kanto region; Shigeaki Koga was not asked to resign in the future on July 15, but rather was asked this past May to step down July 15, etc.). The devil is in the details, IMO.
posted by armage at 10:37 PM on June 28, 2011


The news gets worse,

By the way, the news really does get worse. Radioactive debris is being shipped to different parts of Japan for incineration, for example. There's also about 800,000 people living in Fukushima City and Koriyama who are being exposed to unsafe levels of radiation. There are food safety concerns. There is no effective government monitoring of background radiation levels in Japan, which causes people to do their own monitoring with Geiger counters, creating confusion, fear and panic. Just nuts.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 PM on June 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


nickyskye, it appears that you are linking to the conspiracy forum Godlike Productions and YouTube videos by a man calling himself "MsMilkytheclown" to attempt to convey some sort of factual information. Would you like advice on that subject?

So what if somebody's username is funny? The video linked is hilarious except that it refers to actual events with mischievous humor thrown in. the RT vid an excerpt of an actual -serious- newscast with stuff like LOLCAT thrown in, which, when it comes to some of the insanity of the nuclear messes in Japan at the moment, may be a good way to express the utter strangeness of some of these events, like a nuclear reactor catastrophe caused by jellyfish.

I stated that I thought it was a parody, or were you unable to comprehend that term? Also said Spittin' Cesium's comments were "disturbingly entertaining". Guess you didn't read that part of my comment?

If you bothered to watch the Fukushima Tepco WORKERS reveal REAL work conditions & FRAUD linked to by Spittin' Cesium, it includes footage from a Japanese interview with Fukushima workers, which I thought was interesting. Perhaps somebody here who speaks Japanese can verify if it's credible interview footage?

As for your links to Nebraska and New Jersey, they don't seem to actually indicate that anything is happening at either of those places. Like all types of power plants, parts of nuclear power plants occasionally break down and are repaired.

In case you hadn't noticed where the nuclear reactor is in Nebraska is flooded and that flood came close to causing a serious nuclear reactor mess, as commented on by nuclear reactor expert, Arnie Gundersen. There was potential for the dam breaking because of the flooding, which could have caused a Fukushima-like disaster.

And it's fishy when a NJ nuclear plant that has a problem immediately goes offline. It doesn't generate any confidence in what's really going on. It's an example of the lack of transparency that has been typical, for example, of Tepco. When nuclear reactors have a problem there is the chance that the mess may impact literally million of citizens living nearby and to not have transparent communication when an emergency occurs does not engender confidence in the nuclear industy in general.

That doesn't mean they aren't the safest form of energy known to humankind

Oh puleeeeez. *rolls eyes. Riiiight. Sure. Not. Just for starters: Japan's Atomic Energy Agency says radioactive caesium leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant will spread 4,000 kilometres through the Pacific Ocean in the next year and reach Hawaii in three years.
posted by nickyskye at 10:40 PM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


To address the "deaths per terra-watt hour" argument, it's flawed on a number of levels.

1. The 'deaths from nuclear radiation' number is too low. So called official figures are tainted, more neutral numbers are available.
2. Radiation causes cancer, and radiation stays in the environment forever (basically) so it continues to kill forever - those future deaths are not factored in, time like interest on money has a way of magically compounding.
3. Even if not killed, radiation causes genetic mutations that express as birth defects which can continue for multiple generations even if there is no longer any radiation exposure from the initial event.
5. Coal workers can't be equated with innocent citizens - coal workers know the dangers and sign up for the job. Their loss is terrible, but a calculated risk. They should be removed from the calculations in the same way people in the military are not included in the deaths from oil.
posted by stbalbach at 10:40 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


the safest form of energy known to humankind.

Yes, idiots falling off roofs installing solar panels is just like blowing up nuclear reactors contaminating vast swaths of terrain with radioactive material.

On a straight up dollar for dollar basis, I doubt nuclear energy even costs less then solar when you include the cleanup costs of Chernobyl and Fukushima. It's probably not even cost competitive when you consider decommissioning costs.
posted by delmoi at 10:45 PM on June 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


may be a good way to express the utter strangeness of some of these events, like a nuclear reactor catastrophe caused by jellyfish.

Did you step into the sphere?
posted by clavdivs at 10:45 PM on June 28, 2011


Did you step into the sphere?

Reality is oftentimes stranger than any fiction. Behold, [Reuters] the jellyfish that almost caused a nuclear catastrophe.

Almost as bad as The Eggplant That Ate Chicago.
posted by nickyskye at 10:52 PM on June 28, 2011


Actually I went back and looked through the sources for that supposed "Nukes are safe" thing and the number people killed by Chernobyl seems to be 9000

However, according to wikipedia:
A 2006 report predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout.[11] A Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more.[12] A Russian publication, Chernobyl, concludes that 985,000 excess deaths occurred between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination.[13] The 2011 report of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) calculates a total of 1.4 million.[14]
So when you consider long-term increased cancer deaths, not just radiation poisoning, the number of people killed by nuclear power is actually three or four orders of magnitude higher. Putting nuclear on par with natural gas and biomass on that chart, and ten times worse then Solar.

and remember, the chart is based on estimating diseases caused by pollution for coal and oil, not simply the number of people killed in accidents.

So the comparison between coal/oil and nuclear are using different methods: People killed directly in accidents for nuclear power, and people killed by increased disease risk for solar. It's a typical lie with statistics move.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on June 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reality is oftentimes stranger than any fiction. Behold, [Reuters] the jellyfish that almost caused a nuclear catastrophe.

The jellyfish in question, Nomura's jellyfish (aka Echizen kurage) weigh more than a metric tonne and their population in the Sea of Japan has exploded thanks to climate change and agricultural runoff from the Yangtze River.

Totally easy to see them clogging cooling outflows.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:57 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Adelstein is paranoid about the Yakuza and sees it everywhere. He's a one trick pony. His fashion editor-coauthor doesn't impress me either.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:16 PM on June 28, 2011


And it's fishy when a NJ nuclear plant that has a problem immediately goes offline.

Why is it fishy? Isn't it prudent? Should the article have read "Reactor stays online even after pump failure"? Do we get news articles about any of the thousands of oil and coal plants when they shutdown a boiler due to a minor issue?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:18 PM on June 28, 2011


Fun-time Fukushima Meltdown mementos

Why is it fishy? Isn't it prudent?

Prudent to be secretive when there is a malfunction at a nuclear plant? No way. A nuclear reactor is not some trivial thing when it comes to a crisis. Why should a pump failure that is inconsequential cause that reactor's site to stop communicating with the public that it impacts in the event of crisis? Lack of transparency engendered corruption, collusion and is exactly what got Tepco in the mess that created the catastrophe in Fukushima.

And when these nuclear plants are secretive about malfunctions the mess that ultimately happens is paid for by the citizens whose lives are effected the worst - and with the citizens' tax dollars. If citizens' lives are in danger and they pay for the clean-up I think the citizens have a right to know about the health of the nuclear plant without any cover-ups.
posted by nickyskye at 11:31 PM on June 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Worthy of it's own FPP is Safecast.org, a site where official and unofficial radiation data is being aggregated.
posted by gen at 12:35 AM on June 29, 2011


So, In 15 years, 2 jellyfish incidents with a result of a 6% loss in power for how long? Is that really a "catastrophe'.



Totally easy to see them clogging cooling outflows.

Like a volcano or perhaps a Flock of Seagulls. The better question in light of the jellyfish's sudden increase is that the problem is known about and a counter measure is used or a better one will be invented to combat and filter out these jellyfish.

or even better, the most logical solution, shut them all down for a 3 month inspection.
posted by clavdivs at 12:53 AM on June 29, 2011


People are still fussing over this crap?
posted by nightchrome at 1:02 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


and remember, the chart is based on estimating diseases caused by pollution for coal and oil, not simply the number of people killed in accidents.

Yeah, the numbers of people affected are completely whacky; the solar numbers are from injuries and deaths from people falling off roofs installing panels, for pete's sake. That said, it's pretty clear - and measurable - that particulates in air pollution, including a large quantity from fossil fuel use in the home, in power stations and in transport has direct and serious health effects.

In the year 2004, indoor air pollution from solid fuel use was responsible for almost
2 million deaths (3% of all deaths) and 2.7% of the global burden of disease
(expressed in disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs*). This risk factor is the second
largest environmental contributor to ill-health, behind the combination of unsafe
water with poor sanitation.


(That does include smoking, and biofuel burning, i.e. wood & dung, so it's not just coal etc)

In the year 2004, outdoor air pollution in urban areas was responsible for almost 1.2
million deaths (2% of all deaths) and 0.6% of the global burden of disease.


Outside pollution though, is much more to do with fossil fuel power generation, industry and transport - and the burden is most heavy on the world's poor.

Note also, this WHO report only addresses particulate pollution, it doesn't factor in the large amount of radioactive isotopes dumped into the atmosphere by coal. Nor the damage caused to the environment by more CO2 generally.

While I'm certainly not going to defend TEPCO in the slightest, I'm still not convinced that fossil fuel plants aren't EVEN WORSE than ancient, cowboy-run accident-waiting-to-happen nuclear plants. If we are going to use nuclear, it should be generation III and IV plants properly run, transparent and heavily regulated, and ideally by a not-for-profit agency. More renewables would be great of course, but they're not economically suitable for replacing base-load plants on a large scale yet alas, so we have to do something in the short term to get us to kick the oil and coal habit.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:25 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


People are still fussing over this crap?

What?
posted by delmoi at 1:37 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the numbers of people affected are completely whacky; the solar numbers are from injuries and deaths from people falling off roofs installing panels, for pete's sake. That said, it's pretty clear - and measurable - that particulates in air pollution, including a large quantity from fossil fuel use in the home, in power stations and in transport has direct and serious health effects.
I didn't say it didn't. The problem is that he didn't count long-term health effects from Chernobyl
posted by delmoi at 1:38 AM on June 29, 2011


What?

The doom & gloom seems a bit over the top and axe-grindy.
posted by nightchrome at 1:45 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't say it didn't. The problem is that he didn't count long-term health effects from Chernobyl.

Which is fair enough; only allocating 9000 deaths to chernobyl is ludicrous. But even if we take 1.4 million people killed by Chernobyl between 1986 and 2004, particulate pollution from fossil fuels kills more than that every year, and god knows how many more are killed by radioactive isotopes from coal pollution. But if your point is that solar and other renewables are far, far safer than nuclear - unlike that rediculous chart says - I entirely agree.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:13 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are still fussing over this crap?

The doom & gloom seems a bit over the top and axe-grindy.

Yeah, people are still 'fussing' over this 'crap.' Like, say, the millions of people affected by the disaster, the hundreds of thousands of displaced/refugees. They tend to be fussy. Or, maybe, the people who've already lost any trust they had that their government would keep them safe, and now they have to look at whatever food they eat with skepticism, hoping it's actually okay.

How would you feel, let's say, if you're government told you that you had nothing to worry about, go ahead, let your kids play outside, and then a couple months later (after they've actually done the testing they should have in the first place) and said, "oops, hey, you folks there, you need to evacuate too. Sorry about the long term effects on your childrens' health. Totally our bad."

I live well south of the plants, and thought things would be all right. That is, until farms and grazing fields south of where I live (middle Chiba and Kanagawa) were found to have unacceptable levels of radioactive material in their crops. Mind you, the tea plantation owners tried to argue technicalities with the government, saying they shouldn't have to discard their crop because, as vegetation it was over the limit, but it would be under the limit as a beverage?

Outright lies from TEPCO, lack of information or competence from the government, and of course, companies doing whatever they can to take care of the bottom line first? You bet I'm 'fussing.' Sorry if it's over the top and axe-grindy. You listen to your wife tell you she's decided that she doesn't feel safe trying to have a kid because of what might happen because of the meltdowns, and tell me you wouldn't get 'fussy.'
posted by Ghidorah at 3:24 AM on June 29, 2011 [32 favorites]


On further review, noticing that you're here in Japan, I'm actually kind of astonished that you think of this as fussing. Are you that totally unconcerned about the effect this is having on you? On the people around you? Are you totally fine with this most of the blame for this falling on corruption and incompetence spreading back decades? That quite possibly a lot of this could have been avoided if, say, the government, TEPCO, and everyone involved had actually done what they were supposed to have been doing all these years?
posted by Ghidorah at 3:33 AM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Adelstein is paranoid about the Yakuza and sees it everywhere. He's a one trick pony. His fashion editor-coauthor doesn't impress me either.

I think it's safe to say that you don't impress anyone much around these parts either, Mr. don't surf.

People are still fussing over this crap?

This comment leaves me speechless.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: The news gets worse, except for one hopeful story of two dogs.
posted by HeroZero at 5:01 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


38 years of nuke profit up in smoke?

The world hasn't finished paying the billions for Chernobyl yet. We're going backwards.
posted by anonymisc at 5:08 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'all who are arguing the safety of nuclear versus the safety of coal, keep in mind (whichever side of the argument you're on), your opponent in this debate has heard all the arguments and discussion, in spades, over the last 3 months. If their mind hasn't changed yet, unless you have some amazingly new and completely novel and amazing angle that no-one has every brought up yet, you're very, very, very unlikely to change their mind.

Now, I know the argument goes that it isn't the person you're arguing with, but the non-commenting person in the middle whose mind you're really trying to change, and I totally believe that, but in this case, this topic is new enough, and big enough, that there are no longer any fence-sitters. There are pro-nuclear people, anti-nuclear people, and "I'm not undecided, I just don't care" people. There is nobody in the middle to convince. Maybe in a year or two, there will be folk who were too young to have an opinion, who have grown up and are on the fence, but for now, you're just retreading old ground without an audience.

(Mind you, not that I'm telling you to stop. It's a free Internet, after all. Just putting in my own two cents.)
posted by Bugbread at 5:16 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If their mind hasn't changed yet, unless you have some amazingly new and completely novel and amazing angle that no-one has every brought up yet, you're very, very, very unlikely to change their mind.

It's why I'm not posting. Nuclear is evil and wrong, no sense trying to change that now. By the time the carbon load is killing the biosphere, it'll be too late, but frankly, I don't care anymore.

Everything ends, everybody dies. It's the one rule of the universe that's closest to certainly and universally true. It may even be true of the universe itself.
posted by eriko at 5:23 AM on June 29, 2011


What a clusterfuck.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:29 AM on June 29, 2011


Ding ding ding!

Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


If we can stop attacking people here because we don't like their opinion, that would be, you know, pretty great.
posted by cavalier at 5:35 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Welcome to another meeting of the bi-weekly MeFi nuclear debating club.
posted by smackfu at 5:43 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are still fussing over this crap?

If the long-term thinking required to fully understand the scope of a nuclear disaster is too much for you, you should probably just stay out of threads about nuclear disasters.
posted by mediareport at 5:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


By the time the carbon load is killing the biosphere, it'll be too late.
posted by bonehead at 6:25 AM on June 29, 2011


The doom & gloom seems a bit over the top and axe-grindy.

Perhaps if you thought of the problem in human terms:

Fukushima, nuclear refugees
posted by KokuRyu at 6:45 AM on June 29, 2011


The doom & gloom seems a bit over the top and axe-grindy.

It may seem that way to you. But it's not. And it's not "doom & gloom" either. It's just some hard fucking reality, that's fucking up a lot of lives right now. And it's gonna fuck up a lot more. And it has nothing, repeat nothing to do with axe-grinding.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:49 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why should the rich guys have all the fun? Fiddle lessons for everyone!
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:05 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


NYTimes: Cuomo Takes Tough Stance on Nuclear Reactors: One of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top advisers met with the operators of the Indian Point nuclear plant last week and told them that the governor was determined to close the plant.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War re Fukushima [pdf]

Simply Info: The Fukushima Project : news roundup

The Atlantic: Could Radioactive Fukushima Debris Land at California?

NYTimes: Elders Offer Help at Japan’s Crippled Reactor
posted by nickyskye at 7:24 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many sources were tortured and killed for this Adelstein piece.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:38 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


While Adelstein is an engaging writer, the fact that he is doesn't live in Japan means that he's one step removed from the situation on the ground
-- by armage

His Twitter page mentions that he is back in Japan.
posted by eye of newt at 7:55 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, these jellyfish now have me seriously worried they're launching a global assault.
posted by edd at 8:03 AM on June 29, 2011


The news gets better: this story is by Jake Adelstein. You can pretty much disregard it as sensationalism

I just started reading Tokyo Vice and have been enjoying the shit out of it. But, I've been taking Adelstein's words as truth, if embellished slightly. Why shouldn't I?

Don't ruin my book, man!
posted by jstef at 8:05 AM on June 29, 2011


Just keep reading to the end. Adelstien ruins it well enough imo.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:06 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah: "Are you totally fine with this most of the blame for this falling on corruption and incompetence spreading back decades? That quite possibly a lot of this could have been avoided if, say, the government, TEPCO, and everyone involved had actually done what they were supposed to have been doing all these years?"

That feels like a very....American thing to say.

Yes, we should be fussing about fixing the problem, and building a regulatory body that prevents it from happening again.

No, we shouldn't be fussing about pointing fingers, and making sure that people go to prison for what happened. As much as I don't think that TEPCO should be let off the hook, I'm not entirely sure that the alternative (ie. a show trial and lynch mob) will be productive or constructive.

Hell. The Senate hearings on Fukushima here in the US were damaging enough as it is. Barbara Boxer asked for the NRC head's personal assurance that the US would never be hit with a large earthquake, and that our plants were all designed to handle one if it was. When he started to say "Well, that's a complicated question, and as a scientist I can never answer 100% in the affirmative; but we're reviewing the designs of our plants..." Boxer interrupted him, and was practically screaming at him to "turn off" every nuclear plant in the country until he could be 101% certain that a Fukushima-like disaster could never happen.

Look forward, and only look to the past to fix your mistakes.
posted by schmod at 8:14 AM on June 29, 2011


NYTimes: Cuomo Takes Tough Stance on Nuclear Reactors: ...

He is kicking so much ass right now.

No, we shouldn't be fussing about pointing fingers, and making sure that people go to prison for what happened.

Yeah. Yeah they should. It's not my country, and I really don't have any horse in this fight, but the only way to get rid of a culture of systemic corruption and regulatory capture is to have a series of public hearings and punish the people responsible.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:22 AM on June 29, 2011


Ideally, the Japanese should first quickly digitize & publish all TEPCO's internal emails, correspondences, memos, phone bills, personal schedules of executives, etc. And hold the trials only after various news organizations, anti-nuclear activists, etc. have poured over them.

There is a very good chance that any trials will simply crucify some convenient fall guys. Yet, real transparency has good chances for unearthing the deeper connections between TEPCO and the Yakuza bosses.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boxer interrupted him, and was practically screaming at him to "turn off" every nuclear plant in the country until he could be 101% certain that a Fukushima-like disaster could never happen.

The problem is that rational discussions are not possible in politics or the media. Expert opinion is alsmot immediately discounted as bias, even when there's virtual unanimity. Look at the "debate" around climate change for an example, or the "controversy" about the origin of HIV.

I'm convinced that nuclear power issues can not be solved rationally, through a cost-benefit-type argument, especially as risks are significant and not completely settled technically. Risk assessment and cost-benefit analyses don't survive the spolight of attention. Human politics are too driven by reaction to the last major crisis and the distance from it.

Disasters are visceral things and the reactions to them are strong. Humans respond to their immediacy. We are much less capable of dealing with severe long-term risks, even if the consequences are equally severe. There's not a lot of difference between a human and a frog whern it comes to pans of hot water.
posted by bonehead at 8:32 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


real transparency has good chances for unearthing the deeper connections between TEPCO and the Yakuza bosses.

To be quite honest, that would at most sacrifice three or four more TEPCO managers and a similar amount of Yakuza middle-management. It's tough to comprehend from outside their system just how corrupt everything is. It makes the US's big-business lobbyists/politician revolving door look simplistic, mainly because there is always the organized crime element and the crazed nationalists at or near the top of various deliberative bodies. Keiretsus evolved, among other reasons, to make the connections more difficult to trace but all the old relationships are there.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:51 AM on June 29, 2011


OK, these jellyfish now have me seriously worried they're launching a global assault.

LOL. Yes. “When jellyfish populations run wild,” the NSF jellyboffins warn, “they may jam thousands of square miles with their pulsing, gelatinous bodies.” It seems that no less than half a billion “refrigerator sized” slimy horrors weighing 450 pounds each invade the Sea of Japan daily, while Australian waters are plagued with “deadly, peanut-sized” Jellybabies of Death". Photos.

Those scheming jellyfish are up to no good. And, apparently, they plan on more and more sabotage.
posted by nickyskye at 9:34 AM on June 29, 2011


I just read this whole page as someone on the fence about the issue and I just don't know what to think. Can anyone refer me to some actual science on the issue: peer reviewed articles or secondary articles sourcing them?

I'm unconvinced that the costs of cleaning up this and previous nuclear disasters literally negate the otherwise safe energy produced by the thousands of nuclear plants functioning worldwide. I mean literally, as in the net health, environmental, or fiscal cost becomes as bad as coal.

Simultaneously, I don't have much context for how bad this disaster actually is. You can show videos of people moving from their homes and talk about trace contaminated food, but what does it mean? There has been a great degree of contaminated food and displaced citizens from coal (see: West Virginia), too. How bad is it? In 20 years, how many "standard Chernobyls" will one Fukushima equate to?

I'm not sure if these answers exist. As with many (fucking unnecessarily political) debates, piling on the links does nothing. Where's the data?

And this isn't a rhetorical post. Please, please, someone with a level head refer me to some honest attempt at quantification of a) this nuclear disaster and b) global net nuclear cost v. gain for i) health + environmental costs and ii) fiscal costs.
posted by Buckt at 10:20 AM on June 29, 2011


Everything ends, everybody dies. It's the one rule of the universe that's closest to certainly and universally true. It may even be true of the universe itself.
posted by eriko at 8:23 AM on June 29 [+] [!]

Would you feel this way if this nuclear crisis were happening right now, right where you are?
posted by sweetkid at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2011


LOL sabotage
LOL "catastrophe"
here s some real data LOL
been problem for a while LOL
working on a solution LOL

Expert opinion is alsmot immediately discounted as bias, even when there's virtual unanimity.

I hope the sky captains in this thread read that.

LOL
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 AM on June 29, 2011


"The Fukushima Warning", Wall Street Journal, June 30 (click through Google for full access)
While planning for unusually serious natural disasters would tax any management team, it seems fair to say Tepco was further behind the ball than it should have been.. the backup diesel generators for cooling systems, which should have been placed in an elevated location, were positioned in a basement
posted by stbalbach at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2011


Human beings really are fundamentally incompetent, hard-headed schmucks. Most of the time, we've already missed the bus by the time we're just getting around to arguing about what shoes to wear.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2011


Everything ends, everybody dies.

Whenever I see this, I know the person is intellectually defeated, they are no longer using reason. It's sad in a way, because if we give up reason, we've given up being human (in the humanistic sense) and revert to fear, like animals, and that's when the terrible things happen. It's sort of self prophecy. The important thing is to remain rational and use reason to solve problems.
posted by stbalbach at 11:16 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


The important thing is to remain rational and use reason to solve problems.

not bad, though how does reason play into an unrational decision prompting the problem in the first place.
posted by clavdivs at 11:35 AM on June 29, 2011


maybe things seem rational at the time and irrational in hindsight?
posted by stbalbach at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2011


Can't tell whether this is parody or real. The technitian cat who voided the waranty has me confused. This RT video is worth watching for the surreal side of the nightmare: Nuclear Trouble Intensifies in Japan and USA 6/26/11

The LOLcats image was just an insert, I'm sure, but the over-the-top line of bullshit trying to pass as journalism is typical of the Russia Today "news" channel.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:03 PM on June 29, 2011


That feels like a very....American thing to say.

Seriously? Either way, the Japanese way? It isn't working. There is a regulatory body. It's filled with government workers who know that as long as they don't rock the boat, when they retire they'll have a position waiting for them in the same industry they're overseeing. It's called amakudari, and it's a freaking standard way of doing business here, in nearly every industry. The people in charge of regulating are essentially being bribed with the promise of future ghost-payroll positions.

Your idea of setting up boards to study the problem? That we shouldn't be calling for prison terms? That's exactly why things have gotten this bad. I can name one politician who's actually been sent to prison over money scandals, even though most of the recent Prime Minister's have been investigated, as have many of the biggest names in politics here. The most likely replacement for the current TEPCO president is the guy who was in charge last time they had a nuclear incident due to an earthquake. He stepped down and apologized deeply, and five years later, he'll be running the company again.

Things won't change until the people responsible realize there will be consequences for their actions or lack thereof. Asking for people to be held accountable is American? How utterly bizarre.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:32 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any newscast about a life and death catastrophe, Fukushima, impacting millions of people on the planet with LOCAT inserts must be telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
posted by nickyskye at 4:32 PM on June 29, 2011


if this nuclear crisis were happening right now, right where you are?

Guess what? It is.
posted by banshee at 4:46 PM on June 29, 2011


I'm still on the fence about nuclear energy, but I'm not exactly looking to get off of it. Lovely fence, really. More comfortable than the pickets would make it seem.

I was born shortly after Three Mile Island, and not all that long before Chernobyl. I was raised to think that nuclear energy carried inherent and insurmountable risk. Even if the plants operate perfectly 99.99% of the time, that .01% can still seriously impact a human population, and damage the surrounding environment. Not to mention the fact that there's no great answer for how to deal with spent fuel. And let's not even talk about proliferation or sabotage. That said, I'm utterly fascinated by nuclear engineering, and the science behind it.

Then global warming came along, and made traditional fossil fuels look a shit ton more hazardous than they already did. And alternative energy failed to catch up to either nuclear or fossil fuels in terms of its ability to serve large, concentrated populations. And someone cut the top off of West Virginia, as Centralia burned, and BP crapped up the Gulf, and the sun barely reached the streets of Beijing.

I don't think there's an easy answer, and I'm suspicious of anyone who suggests that there is. Nuclear may have a better track record overall, but I'm not entirely sure it would if it was implemented on as large a scale as fossil fuel. It requires a lot more of manufacturers and operators, who aren't always up to the task. It also involves a lot more uncertainty; as we've established in previous threads, governments end up insuring plants because even an eager-for-risk private sector won't. At some level, design ends up being about trial and error. You plan for as much as you can, and you learn the rest as you go. Newer plants will be safer, because they will have taken a number of older problems into consideration. They will also be less safe, because they will introduce new and as-yet-unknown issues.

We can't keep doing what we're doing, but the only viable alternative carries a lot of risk. It's an important debate, but for me, the continuing crisis takes precedent. I am more interested in Fukushima-as-Fukushima. How people are living. How the cleanup is proceeding, and who is being hired to do it. How the industry could be better regulated. And whether punishing the company, or its executives, would help get other companies in line. I think that's plenty to consider, and hate to see it to get lost in the larger debate.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:06 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


His Twitter page mentions that he is back in Japan.

Thanks -- last I heard he was in the US with his family, hiding from gangsters. Is he permanently back in the US or just alone in Japan?

[if this nuclear crisis were happening right now, right where you are?]

Guess what? It is.


In suburban Sacramento? Sorry, but I (and millions of residents of Kanto and southern Tohoku) aren't buying that.
posted by armage at 5:49 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


How people are living. How the cleanup is proceeding, and who is being hired to do it.

Well, bluntly, no one is living there. There are still hundreds of thousands who've been displaced, and thousands of them are still living in gymnasiums and shelters. Who's being hired to clean up? Day-laborers, people living in abject poverty, unable to secure regular employment. The absolute dregs of the nation are being used to clean up a mess that, under the existing rules and regulations, should never have happened. Mind you, these people are all being hired through subcontractors, and TEPCO can't even tell us the names of several of them. It's business as usual, before, during, and after a catastrophe that we won't be able to say is "finished" for years, if not decades.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:28 PM on June 29, 2011


Are new plants anything at all like the old ones? I'd think that after 40 years there've been improvements.

And what of the freezer-sized self-contained units? Surely they're a much lower risk.

Nuke has a way to go before it's as threatening to our species as coal and petroleum. Climate weirding is going to kill several orders of magnitude more people than all the nuke disasters combined. We are well and truly fucked.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on June 29, 2011


Better late than never:

Metafilter: Would you like advice on that subject?

People are still fussing over this crap?
The doom & gloom seems a bit over the top and axe-grindy.


See, way back when this disaster started, the nuclear critics and people suspicious of TEPCO were scolded for spreading doom and gloom. It was the opinion of the pro-nuclear experts on Metafilter that nothing would come of Fukushima, everything would be fine. The finest engineers in the world built these plants! Japan has a strict regulatory system!

Turns out, the plants have had critical flaws known to the nuclear companies since the 70s. In addition, the regulation environment wasn't quite as enforced as some thought.

And this crap has caused the leakage of 15 tons of radioactive water into the ground, and who knows how much more in the ocean itself.
posted by formless at 7:48 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


See, way back when this disaster started, the nuclear critics and people suspicious of TEPCO were scolded for spreading doom and gloom. It was the opinion of the pro-nuclear experts on Metafilter that nothing would come of Fukushima, everything would be fine. The finest engineers in the world built these plants! Japan has a strict regulatory system!

Exactly!
posted by nickyskye at 7:53 PM on June 29, 2011


See, way back when this disaster started, the nuclear critics and people suspicious of TEPCO were scolded for spreading doom and gloom. It was the opinion of the pro-nuclear experts on Metafilter that nothing would come of Fukushima, everything would be fine. The finest engineers in the world built these plants! Japan has a strict regulatory system!

Yup. Hate to say I told you so, but I fucking told you so. And man, there were some really self-righteous and accusatory comments from some of those folks, aimed at us who were saying from the start that TEPCO couldn't and shouldn't be trusted, that this was really effin bad, and so forth.

But I'm just thinking that several of those people really were, you know, born yesterday. It's the only possible explanation. maybe they didn't grow up with the Vietnam war, they didn't know about Watergate, they'd hardly heard of Three Mile Island or Bhopal or even Chernobyl. Bless their little trusting hearts, they just didn't know that governments and utilities lie to people. As a matter of course. Also, those poor babes in the woods, they didn't know that utility managers can really fuck up, make really bad decisions, and not do what they're supposed to do. And that people in positions of responsibility, guardians of public health and safety, would (gasp!) often place more importance on making a buck. Put our safety last on the list.

One assumes, after all this, that there has been some learning done. One hopes, anyway.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:47 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, and, I assume that there has been, for the fact that some of the most vociferous pro-nuke voices back in those earlier threads ain't coming around so much anymore...

Hell, I'd be embarrassed, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:51 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the standbys of the early days after the quake were the times where the announcer or some official would rattle off a worst case scenario, and say, "Hey, things aren't that bad. Of course, within a day, or perhaps hours, that 'worst case' would be confirmed as the new reality, but with a ready-made newer 'worst case' (that would, of course, not be even close to worst case.

Seriously, the early spin on the first explosion was that it was a good thing. We were told that the leaking water was from thecooling system, and that it was highly unlikely that the reactors could even slightly have been breached. Of course, now we know that the explosions scattered radioactive material pretty much all over the area, and that the reactors were not only breached, there were meltdowns occuring as we were being told things were under control.

Now, of course, the heavily sold image of the 'brave TEPCO employees' is being replaced with poor saps who, best case, are so desperate for work that they'll take the job. Worst case, they've signed up for a job 200 miles away then find themselves dropped off at the gates of the plant.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:07 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now, of course, the heavily sold image of the 'brave TEPCO employees' is being replaced with poor saps who, best case, are so desperate for work that they'll take the job.

On March 17th Asparagirl made this comment:

A German member of another messageboard I read says that German state TV channel ARD reported that the "Fukushima Fifty" may actually be made up of about 10 engineers and 40 temporary workers -- former drug addicts, homeless people, and prostitutes whom TEPCO has a policy of hiring for short manual labor stints to help them get back on their feet. The job pays well and when they hit their limit for radiation exposure, TEPCO fires them.

Can anybody with access to German state TV confirm this report? It sounds like some of those plant workers are even bigger heroes than we even thought.


Googling now I see the New york Times confirmed this: Some workers are hired from construction sites, and some are local farmers looking for extra income. Yet others are hired by local gangsters, according to a number of workers who did not want to give their names.
posted by nickyskye at 9:21 PM on June 29, 2011


The original "Fukushima 50" were more like 205 employees who were rotated in and out of the plant during the first few weeks of the crisis in March. By the end of March, the "Fukushima 50" had swelled to 1000 people. The original core group was composed of engineers and regular employees and subcontractors at Daiichi. Some worked for Tepco, while others worked for subcontracting outfits. All were professional, and most came from the communities surrounding the facility. Many people had lost their homes and members of their family because of the tsunami. They felt a sense a responsibility for what was happening.

Once the reactors were somewhat stabilized (once the grid connection was re-established, and seawater injection was started), more and more workers were needed to carry out basic repair work, such as reconnecting switches and fixing plumbing.

You may recall the first hibakusha as persons exposed to radioactivity are called in Japanese, were contract labourers who had been sent into the basement of one of the turbine buildings with little or no protective gear or dosimeters, and promptly stepped up to their knees in a pool of water that had been exposed to highly radioactive core elements.

In short, the original "Fukushima 50" were actual employees and locals, but as the workforce has swelled over the past three months, more and more subcontracted labour has been recruited from other parts of Japan.

It's unlikely there are many drug addicts, because the working conditions are already nearly lethal for healthy workers.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:43 PM on June 29, 2011


205 employees = 250 workers
posted by KokuRyu at 9:43 PM on June 29, 2011


Googling now I see the New york Times confirmed this..

No. The New York Times reported this. They did actual reporting, including interviews with the workers.

If you read Adelstein's article carefully, all he has is quotes from a book by Kei Sugaoka, written in 2000. He also has quotes from other publications, and conflates them so it sounds like the old book is happening now.

This is why Adelstein is a bad reporter, he merely translates and reports secondhand what other people reported. He has no way of verifying his facts. I am appalled that The Atlantic would publish such sloppy work.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:44 PM on June 29, 2011


No. The New York Times reported this. They did actual reporting, including interviews with the workers.

If you read my comment and weren't on your high horse about journalistic purity, you'd have seen I was referring to Asparagirl asking for confirmation about the Fukushima 50 being as actually described by the German journalist.

Asparagirl said: Can anybody with access to German state TV confirm this report?

I posted Asparagirl's comment because I thought she was savvy in her comment and months ahead of the now more commonly known information about the reality of those who've been working at Fukushima during this crisis.
posted by nickyskye at 10:22 PM on June 29, 2011


Japan Times: TEPCO having trouble injecting nitrogen to avoid explosion at Reactor No. 3 — Expert concerned about possible explosion at No. 3 June 29th, 2011 at 09:37 PM

Nuclear reactor messes elsewhere. One yikes after another. Time mag: Q&A: Is New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory Really Safe?:

Peter Stockton, expert on nuclear materials and a senior investigator for the independent watchdog Project on Government Oversight (POGO) :

[POGO] got tipped off in 2009 by a whistleblower that in PF-4—where the six metric tons of plutonium is [...] they’ve painted over the sprinkler system so many times that it doesn’t work [...] then it was determined that LANL had never tested the fire hoses in the building [...] They found out about a year later that the pressure in the system isn’t great enough to get to the entire building, so they had to do something to mitigate that problem. [...]

TA-54 contains 20,000-30,000 drums of waste, but just because it’s low-level waste doesn’t mean anything. If that becomes airborne, and just a speck of plutonium gets into your lungs, you’re going to end up with cancer down the road. It’s the most toxic substance known to man. It would be very nasty if those drums blew apart, and the wind carried them downwind. [...]


Pics of the fire near Los Alamos

Fire Chief at Los Alamos: “God I hope not… God I hope not” — “I seriously think it will be up to 100,000 acres” June 29th, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Residents worried about radioactive smoke plume if fire reaches radioactive waste: “If it gets to this contamination, it’s over — not just for Los Alamos, but for Santa Fe” June 29th, 2011 at 08:30 AM

High potential for “major calamity” at Los Alamos if fire reaches 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste in fabric-type building, says former top security official
June 29th, 2011 at 07:47 AM: [...] “It contains approximately 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste,” former top security official Glen Walp said. “It’s not contained within a concrete, brick and mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume.

“Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas,” he added. [...]


Six Moldovan 'uranium smugglers' arrested
posted by nickyskye at 10:24 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you read Adelstein's article carefully, all he has is quotes from a book by Kei Sugaoka, written in 2000. He also has quotes from other publications, and conflates them so it sounds like the old book is happening now.
This is why Adelstein is a bad reporter, he merely translates and reports secondhand
--charlie don't surf

Actually he quotes Kei Sugoaka's recent comments about what happening now, and includes a number of quotes from various other officials and executives that he spoke with, which is pretty much what reporters are supposed to do.
posted by eye of newt at 11:58 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


High potential for “major calamity” at Los Alamos if fire reaches 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste in fabric-type building, says former top security official


Seems like they could just move it. Chopper it out of there.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 AM on June 30, 2011


On the NHK 7pm news just now, there was a story about how the government has just informed over 100 households outside of the evacuation zone that they should, you guessed it, evacuate. NHK mentioned that the mayor of Date City has asked that the central government stop doing a household by household evacuation and just declare whole districts unsafe, but they're still checking house by house. In one of the interviews with people who'd been asked to evacuate, the man said he doesn't plan to go anywhere because

wait for it

he has to tend to his crops, which appeared to be cucumbers. Yup, he's been informed that staying where he is will put him above the government's 'safe' limit for a yearly radiation dose, but he can't leave because he's got to take his crops to market.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:46 AM on June 30, 2011


Oh, and, I assume that there has been, for the fact that some of the most vociferous pro-nuke voices back in those earlier threads ain't coming around so much anymore...

Congratulations: your hyper-aggressive attitude has given you the purity of thread commentary you desired.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:57 AM on June 30, 2011


your hyper-aggressive attitude

Stop being ad hominen fff.
posted by nickyskye at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2011


*hominem
posted by nickyskye at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2011


your hyper-aggressive attitude

Many thanks for stepping in to answer fff's comment directed to me, nickyskye, but that's actually not worth answering. It's beneath you. In the future, just save your breath.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2011


That's a nice display of passive aggression. You win the thread, champ!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:15 PM on June 30, 2011


Thank you, fff. You're very kind to say so.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:43 PM on June 30, 2011


Stop being ad hominen fff.

fff was only replying to a three-paragraph ad hominem post... tu quoque might have been a better rejoinder.

I did not stop following the news. I merely stopped writing about it on Metafilter because I hate the drama. I don't like that conspiracy theory forums have become citeworthy, that we've entered a universe where Three Mile Island (death toll: 0) spelled misfortune for any future nuclear endeavors. I don't like that the UN report on Chernobyl's aftereffects is considered untrustworthy by the paranoid element.

I don't like that Germany is replacing all its nuclear plants with coal plants that are guaranteed to pollute the air and kill people regularly without the need for any meltdown. I don't like the dog-whistle racism in Europe that led to calls for the United Nations to seize Fukushima by force.

I'm disappointed in some aspects of Japanese leadership, of course-- I'm aware that TEPCO worked hand in hand with prefectural governments to place nuclear plants in places they did not belong, and that Japanese activists helped to prevent those plants from being restarted in April. Today's Saga Shinbun reveals similar problems at the Genkai #1 plant, which was scheduled to be the first one restarted in Japan later this year.

It's good to know people are investigating this. I appreciate how things are happening in Japan. I don't appreciate the way they're being discussed online. The leadership in Japan has both good and bad elements. Why was Genkai #1 shut down? It was not affected by the quake. The power company shut it down voluntarily after the quake and sought a renegotiation with the town that hosts it and the prefectural government, which led to an extended discussion over nuclear safety throughout the area as well as this newspaper investigation. This was a cooperative process that involved no conspiracy, no protests, and no legal fight.

I'm struck by how one Japanese poster described the situation: "Religion pursues a dream. Politics finds a middle ground." In this case, "throw the bastards out" is religious slave morality. It doesn't even make sense in the real world. There needs to be reform, sure, but the power companies won't be able to do their job if they're attacked from all sides. What I would like to participate in is a reasonable, ongoing discussion about how nuclear energy can be replaced with hypothetical safer options in the future, a discussion of the sort started by Prime Minister Kan a few weeks ago.

But I know better than to demand that from MeFi.
posted by shii at 10:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed in some aspects of Japanese leadership, of course

That's what shii said.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm struck by how one Japanese poster described the situation: "Religion pursues a dream. Politics finds a middle ground." In this case, "throw the bastards out" is religious slave morality.
Religious slave morality? What?

Anyway, revolutions happen from time to time and thinks work out in the end, and a revolution is the ultimate manifestation of "throw the bums out", so it's not as if it somehow can't happen.

The other problem is anthropomorphizing a corporation. You can get rid of the leadership of a corporation without shutting down their power plants and causing blackouts, for example.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, thanks for the smart tip flapjax. :)
posted by nickyskye at 6:18 AM on July 1, 2011


WSJ: Design flaw fueled Fukushima nuclear disaster; TEPCO engineers knew about if for years

Guardian: Revealed: British government's plan to play down Fukushima
Internal emails seen by Guardian show PR campaign was launched to protect UK nuclear plans after tsunami in Japan


NYTimes: On this fourth day of the devastating Las Conchas fire which is threatening Los Alamos, New Mexico, the night sky finally cleared enough to see the flames licking all around the labs and the city.

This time-lapse video is comprised of 113 photographs taken 30 seconds apart. Each photograph is shown for one second. My vantage point is from my home on a ridge just to the north of Santa Fe. [...] The brightest lights are the headquarters of the Los Alamos labs and other technical areas are to the left. [...]


AP: First 24 hours shaped Japan nuke crisis

Natural News: Fukushima in the US? Flood berms break around Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, ten-mile evacuation zone declared
posted by nickyskye at 11:03 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


CNN: Nuclear cover-up in Japan
posted by nickyskye at 11:08 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the WSJ report but the CNN one is a good example of how ridiculous this can get. I have no idea how people expected the government to double the total radiation estimates before the Fukushima team was able to obtain the full data about the release of radiation. Should they simply have made up random numbers? Whenever people say that, they make it sound like the government lied about the readings it took from March to June, which is false.

The CNN report, like other international reports, creates paranoid stories like this without touching on the real stories, such as:
- Edano instructed TEPCO to vent hydrogen from the reactors immediately, but TEPCO did not listen. Nobody knows why.
- Radiation was detected immediately on March 12 by a multimillion dollar nationwide warning system, SPEEDI, but for some reason the emergency response group never considered telling the public about it throughout March. The areas reported by SPEEDI were evacuated in April and the SPEEDI data was released in May.
- Nuclear-free Germany will be importing nuclear power from France.
posted by shii at 12:27 AM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems like they could just move it. Chopper it out of there.

Chopper out 20K barrels of nuclear waste in the middle of a massive raging fire? No problem!
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:42 AM on July 3, 2011


Wow, from nickyskye's Guardian link above, basically showing that UK nuclear regulators work for the nuclear industry:

"This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear."
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:46 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's not the nuclear regulators; it's the government department responsible for promoting british businesses abroad and generally doing all the pro-business liaison stuff.

The regulator for the civilian nuclear industry is the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

The BIS are running with the same plan as the previous government; to replace old nuclear reactors with new ones and some renewables, rather than coal and natural gas.

If you want the scary pullquote, it's this one:

Other documents released by the government's safety watchdog, the office for nuclear regulation, reveal that the text of an announcement on 5 April about the impact of Fukushima on the new nuclear programme was privately cleared with nuclear industry representatives at a meeting the previous week. According to one former regulator, who preferred not to be named, the degree of collusion was "truly shocking".
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:08 AM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Atlantic Wire July 2nd: Meltdown: What Really Happened at Fukushima?

In spite of MeFite hate for RT, there is still some good info worth knowing. Example: Daily life in Fukushima: 'It was like visiting another universe'. Details: Jan Beranek, part of Greenpeace team investigating Fukushima fallout

Hotspots up to 500-700 times what is normal.
This is just unbelievable, at those levels of exposure this is certainly risking the health and lives of people.
Soviets decided to evacuate everyone that was living in areas where radiation was 3-4 times lower than what is found in Fukushima City.

posted by nickyskye at 5:53 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


TruthOut: New Exposé Reveals Nuclear Regulatory Commission Colluded with Industry to Weaken Safety Standards

Google: Delaying Clean Energy Transition “Only 5 Years Could Leave Trillions on the Table”
posted by nickyskye at 6:39 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Another sample taken from a street ditch — where nuclear fallout often accumulates — registered as much as 931,000 becquerels per square meter, surpassing the 555,000 becquerels per sq meter limit for compulsory resettlement in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Samples from the other three locations measured between 326,000 and 384,000 becquerels per square meter."

from the Japan Times article: 45% of kids sustained thyroid radiation.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:29 PM on July 5, 2011


Shit.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on July 5, 2011


from the Japan Times article: 45% of kids sustained thyroid radiation.

From the same article: "..although in all cases in trace amounts that didn't warrant further examination.."
posted by nightchrome at 8:35 PM on July 5, 2011


From the same article: "..although in all cases in trace amounts that didn't warrant further examination.."

Whether or not something "warrants further examination" is always a judgement call, and given the track record of such judgement calls and pronouncements up to now, I wouldn't put two yen worth of trust into it. Myself.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:49 AM on July 6, 2011


Less than half the value at which one sees 0.5% increase in the chance of cancer seems like it shouldn't even make it past error margins, let alone be a cause for concern. Your mileage apparently varies.
posted by nightchrome at 1:06 AM on July 6, 2011


Well, unshit, then. Guess I was stupid to trust.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on July 6, 2011


Yeah. Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:14 PM on July 6, 2011


Another muckracking TEPCO story that was ignored in favor of travelers' tales and outlandish rumors:

When Fukushima Daiichi was built, TEPCO purposefully dug 25 meters into the ground in order to build right at sea level. In the article, they grudgingly admit (without appearing to apologize) that this design involved no consideration of tsunamis whatsoever. So much for "unforeseeable", this is just common sense.

I missed this story, as did nearly everyone in Japan, because TEPCO buried it on a news holiday inside of the national holiday Golden Week, when I was traveling abroad along with many Japanese people. Why didn't RT or Greenpeace pick it up? Well, there's no need to hide your kids or hide your wife, so I guess there's not much to say except "damn".
posted by shii at 9:15 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another muckracking [sic] TEPCO story that was ignored in favor of travelers' tales and outlandish rumors

As far as why Greenpeace didn't "pick it up", well, they're not exactly a news agency, are they? I'm glad they're out in boats catching fish and hauling in seaweed for radiation checks, instead, which is more the kind of thing that they do.

And forgive my ignorance, but what is RT?

As far as TEPCO, and this buried revelation, well it's just one more nail in the coffin that holds whatever shriveled and dessicated respect that anyone ever had for them. The company is sick, broken at the top. They have been inveterate liars and corner-cutters and obfuscationists* for decades. I'm so furious at that company. I'd like to think that there will be top people there held accountable, but I doubt if anyone will ever receive any kind of real punishment at all.

*apparently that's not a word, but it should be.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:45 AM on July 8, 2011


If you're just blaming TEPCO, you're beeing too narrow.

What's the process for environmental review and risk assessment? Who approves plants and how? Is it an open process, with a way of asking questions of the proponent company and of other participants (like the government ministries)? Who decides on final approval?

This is a question of democracy, transparentcy and accountablility, though not one a lot of people think about. I'll bet no one considered a tsunami in the 1960s risk assessment because: (a) nobody thought about tsunami risks at all; or (b) nobody around the table thought the risk could be that severe. That's a symptom of closed-door politics. too few heads around the table. The best way I know of to avoid that is a public process. Open the risk assessments to the public and force all the participants to honestly answer any questions. Then decide.

This disaster is, in many ways, a failure of not enough democracy. That's one of the main things people should be advocating for, imo. Clean-up operations need oversight too, but it's more important to change the way the original plant approvals get made.
posted by bonehead at 10:38 AM on July 8, 2011


If you're just blaming TEPCO, you're beeing too narrow.

I'm not just blaming TEPCO, and I certainly agree with the points you make in your thoughtful comment. But enormous blame does rest on their shoulders.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 PM on July 8, 2011


No argument from me there. The responsible party isn't just the only one to blame.
posted by bonehead at 5:28 PM on July 8, 2011


I've been thinking it should be the top TEPCO execs and top government "regulatory" overseers who should be appearing all over town in these dickhead hats.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:14 PM on July 8, 2011


Japanese government killing its own people in Fukushima
posted by unliteral at 9:29 PM on July 27, 2011


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