Monday, October 7, 2013

Fukushima: Japan sends aid call to the world community

Yesterday, I started getting a large (for me) number of hits from a site in Germany about Fukushima.  Turns out that they were coming from a very sober site dedicated to economics.  This worried me a bit because I haven't been following Fukushima as closely as the subject deserves.  Worse, the post they were linking to was from March 28, 2012 a year and a half ago.  When I looked at my post again, it made perfect sense because I had embedded a German-language (with captioning) documentary clip about a Fukushima engineer who was trying his best every day to figure out what to do next.  He was doing this even though his work is killing him with radiation poisoning.

This is different—the Japanese are calling out for help.  The folks who can build Lexus and bullet trains are admitting they cannot solve this problem by themselves.  The Japanese are famously proud of their self-sufficiency.  They would't be asking for help unless they were utterly overwhelmed.  This, folks, is scary stuff.  And surprise, surprise, some of this disaster has been caused by Tepco trying to fix things on the cheap.  Well, Mr. Abe, you wanted to stimulate your economy—here's a good reason to spend a LOT of money.

Anyway, the site that sent me those page views has a compelling story to tell.  I am extremely flattered to be mentioned in association with such important journalism.  Here it is, translated by Google (which does a damn fine job with German.)

Fukushima: Japan sends aid call to the world community

German Economic News | Posted: 6:10:13

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked the international community for help in the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima on Sunday. The operator Tepco company can not secure from their own resources the ruin. Experts speak of "systemic problems". Apparently, the recent visit to Fukushima has startled the Japanese Premier: In a few months the damaged fuel elements must be removed. Failing that, the situation may get out of control.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now calling it the world community for help: His government and the operating company Tepco are hopelessly overwhelmed with the situation in Fukushima.

In Japan, the government is increasingly nervous about the situation in Fukushima.
  • Two and a half years after the disaster no problem has been solved.
  • On the contrary: Every day we see new messages that give cause for concern.
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked at a conference of scientists in Kyoto for international help in averting a disaster in the destroyed nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Abe said : "We are very open to take the comprehensive knowledge from abroad to claim to get the problem under control." Abe told the scientists from the fields of environment and energy: "My country needs your knowledge and expertise. "

Thus, for the first time Abe has admitted that its previous strategy has failed: Japan has been claimed to have the situation at Fukushima under control. There would be no risk to health. The Olympic Games in Tokyo could be carried out without any concerns.

Abe then:
"There was some concern about the leakage of contaminated water at Fukushima, but the government will play a leading role in helping to find a complete solution to this problem. I declare that we will do our best with firm determination that in 2020, that in seven years, will be absolutely no problem. "

The dramatic appeal Abe comes after another incident on Friday, where again a leak was discovered in a container with radioactive irradiated liquid. Abe had Fukushima 27 September last visited. He said to the technicians from Tepco that Japan's future is in their hands - but rather a massive announcement for an event that has been portrayed as quite manageable. Abe had also include a tank that at the earlier leakage occurred. Apparently, the Premier has now gained the impression that the operator Tepco company is unable to secure the broken system sothat another disaster can be prevented.

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen criticized in an interview that Tepco is responsible for repairing the damage. Gundersen: "Tepco is an operating company. You can operate nuclear power plants, but they do not have engineers who can solve such a problem. Abe did not tell the public the truth. "

In Japan, the criticism of Tepco is getting louder. The engineer Tetsuro Tsutsui told the Associated Press that the previous measures were completely inadequate: it was "inconceivable" to fill the tank with the fuel rods. The Tepco had previously reported as the most important measure. But without a new foundation this was completely ineffective. Tsutsui: "I must say, these are not accidents that happen because there must be a systemic problem, as the take things in attack.."

The Japanese nuclear agency is horrified. A scientist from the authority said: "The Tepco people seems the basic knowledge of radioactivity to be missing. You need to get help from abroad. "

One of the reasons why Fukushima is heading for a disaster, is the enormous financial cost that is necessary to secure the reactor and foreclose. Gundersen says Tepco had absolutely no budget to perform the backup: "Premier Abe conceals from his people what it would cost to remediate Fukushima.  $500 billion it cost, and Japan does not have the money, just as Tepco" (see video at end of article)

The problem of 1,300 partially damaged fuel elements could become a global disaster. An explosion that would put that of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in the shadows, could be the consequence if only happens the small error in the operation (more here ). Tepco wants to raise the fuel elements in the next two months from the container to secure it elsewhere. The scientists also called the German Öko-Institut ( here ).

But the problem: This is a highly complex operation. It has to be controlled by computers, in order to prevent that the fuel contact each other. Tepco has no such computer and want to perform the action manually.

It is unbelievable how amateurish bypass the operators and the government, given the dimension of the disaster with the situation in Fukushima. A government spokesman said that the measures were insufficient to plug the leaks though, Tepco admitted that it was true but that the company had found the error this time earlier than last time.

However, the Japanese government is increasingly uncertain whether TEPCO Fukushima really can solve the problem. Therefore, as the Japan Times reported currently considering, Tepco split: In a bailout is the part that deals with the elimination of the damage will be covered by Japanese taxpayers.

Conclusion: The supervisory authority shall certify the rescuers that they lack the basic knowledge about radioactivity.

The clock is ticking.

For two years of all those responsible for the disaster to solve the problem.They have been technically rudimentary facilities.

The money is missing.

The worst thing that can happen to Tepco, is that the company is relieved of the burden of the crisis defense - and the Japanese taxpayer bear not only the consequences but also the cost of the disaster.

The Japanese government has recently consulted experts from France, Britain and Russia to discuss Tepco in the rescue measures.

But the international nuclear industry has little interest in becoming too involved in the events at Fukushima. The doctor and author Helen Caldicott said in an interview that the companies that operate nuclear power plants themselves, want to prevent the full extent of the accident at a nuclear plant to become widely known, because it would represent a massive threat to the domestic industry.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe did not comment specifically on Sunday on the acute situation in Fukushima. His government had been criticized because they had so far resisted any help from foreign experts. Such was the tender for solution suggestions of how to deal with the contaminated water masses was first published in Japanese only.

Only after protests was there an English version.

It comes late.

Hopefully not too late. more

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