This Helps

March 16th, 2011

Like many others in Japan, I am on the mailing list of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and get their warnings, advisories, alerts, and updates. This just came in, from the ambassador:

Since the first reports of trouble with the reactors, American nuclear experts have worked around the clock to analyze data, monitor developments, and provide clear assessments on the potential dangers. While at times we have had only limited access to information, I am personally committed to assuring that our experts have as much access and information as possible, and the necessary resources to understand the situation. I have personally been deeply engaged in these efforts.

After a careful analysis of data, radiation levels, and damage assessments of all units at Fukushima, our experts are in agreement with the response and measures taken by Japanese technicians, including their recommended 20kms radius for evacuation and additional shelter-in-place recommendations out to 30kms.

Let me also address reports of very low levels of radiation outside the evacuation area detected by U.S. and Japanese sensitive instrumentation. This bears very careful monitoring, which we are doing. If we assess that the radiation poses a threat to public health, we will share that information and provide relevant guidance immediately.

That message is also available online here, on the page where all such messages are made public.

I have heard some people worry that the government will hide information to keep the public from mass panic or whatever, but I don’t really accept that. Yes, they’ll try to cover up blunders or foolishness, and they may suggest lame “duck and cover” style solutions–but if a cloud of radioactive vapor is headed our way, I don’t think they’re gonna try to hide it from us.

What may be harder to debate is whether they will let on exactly how potentially bad things can get. I tend to think that the Japanese government may try to hide things that could go badly wrong and would not really help the Japanese people if they knew–but I don’t really see the American government doing that in Japan. I could be wrong. Maybe I am. But I don’t think so.

And so far, I think the U.S. government’s advice to its citizens has been far more helpful and sound than that given by the French and Chinese governments, who seem to be more comfortable with playing it safe and not caring if it gives people the wrong idea.

  1. Troy
    March 16th, 2011 at 04:23 | #1

    I think the US government soft-pedalled the USS Reagan contamination event.

    Granted, they didn’t have to even do a press-release, but getting dosed that far out from the plant tells me that the current evacuation radius is too close.

    Unit 2 is the wildcard now I think. They’ve gotta vent the primary container but lost integrity on the secondary container (the suppression pool pressure vessel).

    This also means any venting they do in 2 is going to bypass the filtering effect of the condensing torus and also the plant’s vent filters. . .

    Apparently this injection is being run by fire department trucks, which require people to be close to the reactors.

    (Unit 2 apparently lost cooling when the truck pumping water to it ran out of fuel)

    Then they’ve got to maintain cooling on all the spent fuel pools. That MIT dweeb conveniently failed to mention that these are probably more deadly than the reactors hemselves, since they have more fuel assemblies that has a lot more nasty crap in it, AND they are just sitting without any containment other than 30 feet of water above them.

    Water that partially sloshed out during the quake and also is heating up due to loss of pump circulation.

  2. Troy
    March 16th, 2011 at 05:44 | #2

    TEPCO’s latest release of radiation monitoring shows (AFAICT) a new semi-serious contamination event starting at 11PM Tokyo time.

    Radiation at the main gate was in the hundreds of uSv for the afternoon but rose to 4 to 8mSv in the 11:00 to 11:35PM period. TEPCO’s latest report stops at 11:35PM with the reading at 6mSv/hr.

    The way these readings decay back to the uSv is good news I guess, since it indicates the radiation is either decaying or otherwise not sticking at the site.

  3. Troy
    March 16th, 2011 at 05:51 | #3

    heh, I (and your other poster) was right about Oehmen:

  4. March 16th, 2011 at 08:02 | #4

    Please click on this link to tell celebrities making jokes about Japan on Twitter, etc. that their inhumane, nationally embarrassing jokes are totally unacceptable.

  5. Z
    March 16th, 2011 at 11:06 | #5

    As far as smoke in reactor 3 (March 16), if it’s indeed from number 3.

    This reactor type is different (MOX), this could be very dangerous…someone with more nuclear physics knowledge please chime in.

  6. Z
    March 16th, 2011 at 12:52 | #6

    With the news Milli-Sievert levels I see no way how humans can operate in the Fukushima control plant and reactors again soon.

    It looks like they may have to abandon the site for now, even the helicopter option seems to be to dangerous at the moment.

    if so, the unattended reactors 5 and 6 will most likely also go the way of the other 4.

    If someone has a more positive view and nuclear knowledge, please post.

    I would love to hear more positive news :(

  7. Z
    March 17th, 2011 at 04:20 | #7

    Update, March 17:

    U.S. asks citizens in 80-km radius of Japan nuke plant to evacuate

    WASHINGTON, March 16, Kyodo

    The U.S. Embassy in Japan has asked American citizens living within an 80-kilometer radius of the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Japan to evacuate as a precautionary measure.

    The advice was issued Thursday local time while the Japanese government currently sets the evacuation zone covering areas within a 20-km radius of the plant.


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