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8.9 Magnitude Earthquake in Japan (7.4 aftershock/tsunami - April 7th)

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They managed to get power restored to two of the reactors, from there they can probably restore the others. After that, if they can make sure the cooling system pipes and all that are in working order, they can completely cool it all down. In the mean time they're using fire hoses and it seems to be working just enough. A little bit of radiation has been found on some spinach but so far nothing harmful. If they can finish the job quickly then we'll be fine, but if tons more radiation goes into the food, there will be a big problem.

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That's a shame, it would be so awesome if the situation were exactly as the before/after implied.

Even so, the fact that they're so far along in starting to get things repaired is remarkable in itself. I'm sure that section of road that is shown to be in the middle of repairs wasn't much better than what was shown in the Before picture, after all. Imagine this had happened in the US. Imagine how long it'd have taken to get to the point of even starting repairs.

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Because we have UNIONS, and those are soo much more efficient than your Japanese road-crews... right?

That's great that they've managed to prevent it from melting down! Hopefully the repercussions will be minimal; Japan has enough on its plate without radiation issues.

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Because we have UNIONS, and those are soo much more efficient than your Japanese road-crews... right?

Who's talking about unions or the workers themselves? I'm talking about the bureaucracy here that would delay any start to repairs significantly due to all the typical fuss in the federal and state governments about where the money would be coming from and things of that nature. It can be weeks before that gets resolved, in some cases. There, they have repairs started almost immediately. A stark difference.

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There's more than one contributor to the problem. ;)

I'd actually bet, though, that in the case of an actual emergency, any critical repairs (such as making roadways viable) would occur rapidly; it would be the beautification and non-critical systems that would take a very long time to set back in place. I'm kind of curious, now, what happened after the '94 Cali. quake. Nowhere near as bad as this one, but I do remember there was a large amount of damage done; it'd be interesting to see comparisons.

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In Japan, they use water as a neutron moderator. As the core heats up, the neutron moderator becomes inactive, which makes the reactions stop, which should in turn stop the core from heating up at a rapid pace. Also water won't EXPLODE from getting too hot.

Darkesword could probably clarify, but that's just the situations as I understand them.

Pretty much on the ball. And it's not just Japan. Pretty much everyone uses water as a moderator.

Anyone who seriously brings up Chernobyl when talking about Fukushima really has no business talking about the situation.

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Anyone who seriously brings up Chernobyl when talking about Fukushima really has no business talking about the situation.

That makes me feel better.

One thing I've been curious about: When they talk about people going in close to these reactors to do the ground work trying to keep them under control; how many people are we talking about? Also, how well trained do they have to be to do this type of thing? Is it like they're calling in technicians from other countries? I know they can wear high-tech suites and that kind of thing but how dangerous is it for them, really?

Basically, what is the procedure for the actual personnel who respond to this type of a crisis?

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There's a sushi restaruant up the road from me. The owner has family in Japan. As far as I know, they're okay, but still...

Oh damn. Forgot all about my local Japanese resturant. I should go and see how they are doing.

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That makes me feel better.

One thing I've been curious about: When they talk about people going in close to these reactors to do the ground work trying to keep them under control; how many people are we talking about? Also, how well trained do they have to be to do this type of thing? Is it like they're calling in technicians from other countries? I know they can wear high-tech suites and that kind of thing but how dangerous is it for them, really?

Basically, what is the procedure for the actual personnel who respond to this type of a crisis?

Those people are heroes. I think they had about 180 people rotating for the helicopter water dumping mission. And that wasn't enough for them to do it as much as they wanted to. I don't know about training. I'm sure anyone who is related to the plant and nuclear work in general is involved though. Yes, they are wearing suits but my mother believes that they are certain to ALL get cancer in the future.

Here's a map of Japan's prefectures.

japan-map.jpg

I live in Niigata which is RIGHT next to Fukushima. Just yesterday they found small traces of radiation in some spinach and milk in the prefectures of Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Gunma. It's kind of nerve-racking to think about how nearly all of the prefectures surrounding Niigata are being affected by radiation. The only thing that's saving, I think, is the wind. Luckily, the wind almost never blows from East to West in Niigata.

They are at the point where, in order to restore power to the plants, someone needs to go directly to the reactor to do some work. Everybody knows how deadly it is. There was just a nuclear worker crying and telling the camera that now they need to decide who is going to do it. The word "hero" is no understatement here.

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Some observations following the quake/ tsunami:

- I live in Osaka which was only lightly shaken by the quake and unaffected by the tsunami. It is very much 'business' as usual here -- no days off work or major interruptions of infrastructure. That said, there is a general specter of despair and worry that sneaks beneath the normalcy. People here have a vivid recollection of 1995 and they are holding their breath...

- Nevertheless, people are out shopping, partying, laughing, etc. There's an odd patriotism to it: "We must shop to support the economy" they say. I was on Dotonbori last Sunday and it was fucking PACKED.

- I'm not privy to the nature of conversations outside Japan, but I do think there has been a rush to panic, particularly in the English-speaking media, with fears surrounding the Fukushima plant. Don't get me wrong, it's not be taken lightly -- radiation is scary & scary -- but the nature of news comes in a way that really eclipses the tragedy here: the 10,000+ deaths and devastation of one of Japan's most beautiful regions. I assure you that the quake and the tsunami are (so far) much, much, much worse in realistic terms than the trouble at Fukushima Dai-ichi.

- The sense I get from the foreign community here is this: There was a massive quake. There was a horrible tsunami. There are thousands of people dead. An entire region is devastated. And yet, in spite of all this -- no one panicked. People looked left and right and wondered where the panic was. There is a "panic to panic" as the crisis at Fukushima develops and afterhsocks keep people up at night. Now people are glued to the news and are getting out while they can. There doesn't seem to be much good news or relief.

- I knew more than a couple of people that came to Japan and essentially saw it as a playground -- magic anime vidyagame Naruto land. Suddenly the earth shifts and it's a horrific tragedy -- bodies wash up on shore and the world feels likes its fucking ending -- fun's over. This is reality -- this is really, really, really real. "I thought Japan was safe -- but holy shit! Let's GTFO."

I think this and then I think I'm being too critical, though. Honestly, I can't blame them. It feels lucky enough not to be in the center of such a messy situation -- or to feel any direct, negative impacts. No one I know died, and there isn't much of a chance I'll be irradiated by a windy day. Can't say for sure what I would do if I were in Kanto or further north. My heart goes out to those that are.

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Thanks, The Xyco. Although I do realize that 10,000 people dead by tsunami is a bigger problem than the current reactor situation, I think the reason we all worry about reactor more is because it's not "over" yet. I'm guilty of this way of thinking, too. Since the tsunami and earthquake are all over, I want them to hurry up and get the reactor situation taken care of because that still has the potential to kill. I know that there are still a million things to worry about regarding thousands of evacuees' health but since that doesn't directly affect OTHER people, those other people tend to worry more about the reactor. Of course, I could be wrong. It could be that I'm the only selfish one here and everybody else just doesn't realize which is the more dire situation. But if they get the reactor under control, it will probably relieve some pressure from the rebuilding effort.

So now spinach and milk of certain areas can no longer be shipped out to stores to be sold because there were traces of radiation in them. Did I say that in my last post? I don't remember.

I really don't know how much worry I need right now. When I hear it on the news it's pretty emotionless fact that I get. When I get updates from my company or talk to you guys, it's like "yeah there's a bit of radiation but it's not enough to hurt anyone so no worries." Simultaneously, I get emails from my mom who does know a lot about radiation basically saying "that radiation is gonna MESS you guys up!" Ugh. Anyway, they found VERY SMALL traces of radiation even here in Niigata. Perhaps the wind is not protecting us as much as I thought it would

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I was hoping that this would all be cleared up by now but since it's continued for this long, the water in Tokyo and Fukushima contains a level of radioactive iodine that is beyond the allowed limit. I don't know how dangerous it is but it's worrying.

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Another 7.4 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan moments ago, so Miyagi and Iwate have warnings that they're gonna get hit with another tsunami. Japan's really taking a beating.

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