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''The moment I entered the reactor building, the soles of my shoes melted.''

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 11:57 AM
Original message
''The moment I entered the reactor building, the soles of my shoes melted.''

Here's what it was like inside the Control Room at Fukushima Daiichi:

Testimony by workers on the site of stricken Fukushima I NPS

"The moment I entered the reactor building, the soles of my shoes melted."

The Demki Shimbun
Nov. 15, 2011

Some statements are coming out from workers who tried to deal with the disaster at the Fukushima I nuclear power station (NPS) immediately after its occurrence. Zengo Aizawa, executive vice-president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO), disclosed them at a symposium held at the University of Tokyo on November 4. This testimony by on-site workers was the first to be disclosed, and threw the emergency response efforts under harsh conditions into sharp relief.

The workers stayed in the main control room and tried to get instrumentation back into operation by putting together batteries from the cars they used for commuting (photo courtesy of TEPCO).


Because the system for pumping water into the reactor was also unavailable, TEPCO began using an alternative pump, but the plant continued to experience big aftershocks. One other worker remarked that every time they felt a big aftershock, the crew ran as fast as they could to high ground without removing the masks that covered the whole face.


In units 1-3, crews decided to vent radioactive steam by opening a containment vessel valve. Ordinarily, such venting can be done by manipulation from inside the main control room. But because the plant had lost all power, workers had to go to the site and operate the valve by hand. The reactor was at high temperatures because of the exposure of the fuel rods. The incredible heat was underscored by one worker, who said that, when he set a foot on the torus (scaffolding) inside the reactor building, the soles of his shoes instantly melted.


While the owners and top management are less than nothings, the team on the scene are heroes.

Press gain access to Fukushima plant

Media get firsthand look at devastation caused by tsunami, hydrogen blasts

Koichi Yasuda / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
(Nov. 15, 2011)

FUKUSHIMA--Reactor buildings ripped apart by explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Facilities severely damaged by the March 11 tsumani. As a member of the press, I saw the crippled facilities firsthand on Saturday while battling my own fears of high radiation exposure.


We had to wear the masks to prevent internal radiation exposure, but I had difficulty breathing because the mask stuck to my face every time I inhaled. I imagined it would be quite hard to work in this clothing.


The No. 3 reactor building was hit by hydrogen explosions on March 14, and it is believed that hydrogen from the site also caused an explosion at the No. 4 reactor building.


Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, was on the press tour. "We've made it to this stage thanks to the great efforts the workers have made," he said to officials at the main building. "Let's achieve Step 2 by the end of the year," he added, referring to the stage stipulated in the road map TEPCO and the government compiled, whose targets include the cold shutdown of reactors.


Two important points to consider: First, TEPCO is trying to make the case to reporters and the world that it was the tsunami -- not the earthquake -- that caused the disaster. Perhaps it has something to do with their liability, although I don't know why since they were warned years ago about both possibilities. Second, TEPCO and the Government of Japan are trying to sell the idea that all the explosions were caused by leaking hydrogen. Arnie Gundersen believes it's possible the explosion at Reactor #3 was caused by the overheated fuel pool -- the one that contained spent MOX and its plutonium. If the fuel did go critical and explode, it's likely many more ears would prick up and take notice to the continuing nuclear danger.
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Donnachaidh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
1. k&r -- this info needs to get out! n/t
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
Here's a mention on the difference from May:

Japans Fukushima Reactor May Have Leaked Radiation Before Tsunami Struck

By Yuji Okada, Tsuyoshi Inajima and Shunichi Ozasa - May 19, 2011 6:21 AM ET .

A radiation alarm went off at Tokyo Electric Power Co.s Fukushima nuclear power plant before the tsunami hit on March 11, suggesting that contrary to earlier assumptions the reactors were damaged by the earthquake that spawned the wall of water.

A monitoring post on the perimeter of the plant about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the No. 1 reactor went off at 3:29 p.m., minutes before the station was overwhelmed by the tsunami that knocked out backup power that kept reactor cooling systems running, according to documents supplied by the company. The monitor was set to go off at high levels of radiation, an official said.

We are still investigating whether the monitoring post was working properly, said Teruaki Kobayashi, the companys head of nuclear facility management. There is a possibility that radiation leaked before the tsunami arrived. Kobayashi said he didnt have the exact radiation reading that would trigger the sensor.

Officials at the company, known as Tepco, had earlier said the plant stood up to the magnitude-9 quake and was crippled by the tsunami that followed, causing the worlds worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. The early radiation alarm has implications for other reactors in Japan, one of the most earthquake prone countries in the world, because safety upgrades ordered by the government since March 11 have focused on the threat from tsunamis.


The tsunami messed up the back up generators, etc. The earthquake deserves attention because San Onofre and a whole bunch more U.S. nuclear power stations are located near active faults.
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arikara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I read something a couple of days ago
that stated that they knew it wasn't strong enough to withstand an earthquake. I can't supply links because I don't remember where I saw it. That would be a very good reason why they are saying the damage was due to the tsunami because even more liability if they are proven to have known all along. The corruption reeks, and as always it is the workers and innocents who pay the price.
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KansDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. Dr. Helen Caldicott referred to these workers as "Dead Men Walking"
Get the fucking owners and top managers in there! And throw in a few investors, too!

Socialize the risks, privatize the profits
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saras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. You have the makings of a good law in there. That actually should be a required emergency response.
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #2
9. They Knew
What KansDem said and what Greg Palast said:

Fukushima: They Knew

"Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake"
The Fukushima story you didn't hear on CNN

by Greg Palast
Thursday, November 10, 2011


NEW YORK, 1986


On March 12 this year, as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew: the "SQ" had been faked. Anderson Cooper said it would all be OK. He'd flown to Japan, to suck up the radiation and official company bullshit. The horror show was not the fault of Tokyo Electric, he said, because the plant was built to withstand only an 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, and this was 9.0. Anderson must have been in the gym when they handed out the facts. The 9.0 shake was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles away. It was barely a tenth of that power at Fukushima.

I was ready to vomit. Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it: Shaw Construction. The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies.

But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company. I'd squirreled it out sometime before the Trade Center went down. I shouldn't have done that. Too bad.

All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasnt sup- posed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the SQ tests.

SQ is nuclear-speak for Seismic Qualification. A seismically qualified nuclear plant wont melt down if you shake it. A seismic event can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You cant run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ.


Absolutely, KansDem: The criminal bosses should be the ones on the front lines. Seeing how paper can be effective protection from alpha and beta particles, perhaps they can make nice, thick radiation shielding from all the money they've "earned."
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 12:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. I think this is the classic case of shaving costs to make the investment
more attractive and/or increase the ROI and profits.

When they were doing the original site surveys and feasibility studies, no one considered the impact of earthquakes/tsunami's in the region? Not the historical record, but a future hypothetical event far greater than past experience? What would have been the additional cost of putting the back-up generators on top of the buildings? Or moving the entire complex to higher ground away from the cost? $10MM...$50MM....$100MM? Whatever that added cost would have been sure seems miniscule when compared to the generational damage that this disaster has caused.
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 08:34 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. It's all in who pays
The capitalist model loves to do that sort of cost cutting and shove the risk on to other people. It's one of the primary flaws of the system and the least talked about when rah-rah'ing the supposed efficiency it brings.

These reactors should not have been built in the first place, let alone in the shoddy fashion that they were and the horrible placement. We may wind up paying in blood for generations for what they did in the name of a "profitable investment."
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-15-11 09:44 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Socializing the risk and privitizing the rewards.
Same as it ever was...
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 09:24 AM
Response to Reply #5
10. It will take generations to rebuild Japan -- a new Japan.
Sorry I can't locate the essay at present, Never Old and In the Way, but a writer in Japan put your thoughts into paper over the last couple of days. He said "it's over" for Japan. The nation will have to be rebuilt and it will take the work of generations. Paraphrasing from memory -- but Fukushima may be a blessing in disguise. Only when starting anew, as Japan after World War II, can something better than the original be created.

PS: I'll post the original if when I find it. Had a serious problem with the computer yesterday. The crash wiped out my graphics card and Balmer knows what else.

PPS: Palast knows, too: It was money.
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Bonobo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 09:28 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. If the rest of the world believed it was "over for Japan" as you say, the yen would not be so high.
While the rest of the world comes apart, like the US and Europe, Japan is actually quite stable.

That is why the yen is so high. It is a reliable, stable place where people put their money while the rest turns to shit.
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Sorry if that's how it came across, Bonobo. It is not over, that is what the writer and I meant.
The writer, a man in Japan, said that the old government, the old system, the old way of doing business was "over."

In its place, the Japanese people would build something better. I will try to find his article and post it.
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. One of my colleagues just returned from visiting his son who lives
Edited on Wed Nov-16-11 02:58 PM by Old and In the Way
in SO. Japan, I think Osaka. His son is an English teacher who has been there for 10 years, married a Japanese woman and has children. I asked him about the after reffects of Fukishima and how the people there are dealing with it. He said that while Southern Japan obviously didn't share in the physical devastation as in the North, there is a huge backlash against nuclear power and a renewed public discussion on the country's energy future. He says that a lot of people want the country to get into geothermal, wind, wave, and solar technologies in a big way. A lot of these people also recognize that such a significant energy policy undertaking will spur on job creation and economic revitalization.

Something we ought to be getting serious about as well.
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-16-11 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
14. K&R
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