Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Six Years On

The Tōhoku earthquake, magnitude 9.1, occurred six years ago off the northeast coast of Japan. The resultant tsunami waves were over 120 feet high. Nearly 16,000 people were killed, over 2,000 more were never found. Massive amounts of debris was washed into the Pacific ocean by the retreating waters of the tsunami. Cities and towns were destroyed. Something lke 25 million tons of debris was left on land.

Two nuclear plants suffered failures. Fukushima Daini was inundated by the tsunami. The plant had a level 3 nuclear event from a loss of cooling water, but the workers at the plant were able to restore cooling and efec a cold shutdown. Some of their efforts, including hand-dragging heavy power cables to crate a six-mile long emergency power feed line, probably should have been classified as heroic.

But what happened at Fukushima Daini was completely overshadowed by Fukushimi Daiichi, which had three reactors melt down.

I can't say that I fully understand how the sievert scale works, but back in the day, they used to tell us that 650 roentgens of radiation would probably kill you. Apparently, 4.5 sieverts will kill you in an hour.

The radiation level inside Daiichi is reaching 650 sieverts, which would probably fry you dead before you had much of a chance to think you'd made a mistake.

The Japanese say they'll eventually clean up the reactor site. If they do, I suspect that it won't be in any of our lifetimes.

Update:

Eight months after the quake:


Thanks, Doug.

9 comments:

deadstick said...

Radiation unit definitions are wildly complicated, but the sievert is a unit of absorbed dosage. If you've received one sievert, each kilogram of your body has absorbed one joule of energy. A joule, in turn, is the energy transferred by one amp flowing through one ohm for one second.

Thomas Ten Bears said...

Cascadia, also euphemistically known as the Pacific Northwest, is no stranger to radioactive fallout measured in sieverts.

Back through the late Forties, Fifties and on into the early Sixties we who were conceived, gestated, born and raised eating game and garden and drinking raw milk and untreated water out in the hinterlands of South/Central and Eastern Oregon as well as Western Idaho and the Bitterroot Mountains and Blackfoot Reservations of Western Montana were subjected to radioactive fallout from open air nuclear testing in dosages on par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Some of us were born with certain oddities…

The question that begs answer is about those nuclear plants that nearly washed away the last time the Mississippi flooded when this past winter's not necessarily historically unusual though none the less extraordinary snowfall begins melting in earnest.

Issaic Asimov wrote a great seris of books keyed on the premise of an abandoned and forgotten planet of origin.grow to radioactive to inhabit.

Thomas Ten Bears said...

grown too radioactive to inhabit.

Stupid smart phone.

dinthebeast said...

I grew up a couple of miles from the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, and while I must have trusted it (enough to fish for ocean perch in the warm water exhaust from the cooling system into the bay) I found out after they decommissioned it that the safety procedures were, well, lax. Like if your radiation badge turned black you just went to the supply desk and got another one.
I feel like nuclear power could be done right (it seems like the military powers stuff with it without too much trouble) but when the making of money gets involved I start distrusting the important details that need to be right in order for it to be safe. Let's just say that when we can maintain our bridges and railroads reliably, I'll start to rethink my reticence toward using fission to boil water.
That said, the earthquake six years ago was something I can barely imagine, and I've lived through some strong ones (the 6.9 one here in 1989, and the 7.3 one in Eureka four days after Reagan was elected) but they just gear up for them in Japan. They look at a seven point earthquake as just something that happens once in a while, and I ran down the stairs in my shorts and hid under the porch waiting for the world to end.
My family back in Oklahoma used to ask my parents how they could live anywhere with earthquakes (as opposed to holes in the back yard to hide from tornadoes in?) so I find it somewhat amusing that central/north central Oklahoma had a lot more (and bigger) earthquakes last year than the East Bay did.
Here's a video about the earthquake and it's aftermath that I sometimes watch to counter the bad news about the reactors I hear:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS-sWdAQsYg

-Doug in Oakland

3383 said...

My doctor told me I would receive about 14 sieverts from a CT scan. After internally cursing SI for replacing everything I knew with measures named for people I never heard of, I looked it up on my phone and was astounded.
Obviously he meant miiliSieverts.

T10B- I'm not familiar with much radioactivity reaching the PNW; Hanford was the largest source.

Doug- The '89 quake happened while I was driving. Half of my radio stations dropped out. I've never felt a severe one.

Stewart Dean said...

The earthquake/tsunami mentioned here, led to research that discovered there'll someday be big earthquake and tsunami that will flatten the Northwest:
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one
"Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover* some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America."

CenterPuke88 said...

Relatively speaking, the Navy reactors would be a better choice, especially if manned by well trained crews. Therein lies the problem, nuclear power as a profit center vs a public need filler. As long as we pay for electricity, there is a race to the bottom in safety.

dinthebeast said...

CP88: That's the conclusion I came to also. I don't actually know how well those military reactors work, but I don't recall anything too horrible associated with them.

3383: I was driving during the Loma Prieta earthquake also. I had driven my Torino over the Cypress structure 20 minutes before it fell down, made a stop in Emeryville, and was on Adeline in Berkeley when it hit. It felt like I had run over a curb at 35 MPH, and I didn't realize it was an earthquake until I saw the streetlight poles whipping back and forth.

-Doug in Oakland

w3ski said...

A shout out to dinthebeast, I fished there too! Best place around for fishing. Hooked something huge there once, but it never broke the surface. It finally swam straight away and took my whole spool of line with it. Always felt funny after eating those, but I made it to 63 now so it can't have been too bad?
w3ski