Monday, June 27, 2011

More Fukushima

While I'm on the subject...

The situation up there seems to be meandering along with very limited progress. They installed some sort of filter in order to deal with the ever-increasing lake of polluted water but found the cartridge filled up in a matter of hours. No-one stated it openly, but I'm guessing the reason was that the water was a lot worse than they had let on. They are hoping to get it working again, but at the current rate of progress, Kan could plausibly plan to stay in office for the rest of the century, if not longer...

Of course, that's not to say there is any desperate or widespread threat. Fukushima has not caused a 35% increase in infant mortality in the USA, however much some kooks and crazies would like to claim it has :-)

I was pretty disgusted by the smug self-satistfied way in which Beddington recently whitewashed over the UK Govt's response to Fukushima. He gave a presentation in Japan about how wonderful the UK science advice system is. Summarised here as "Japan needs a Beddington", if you watch the video he is full of how sensible the UK advice was that there was no real risk. What he pointedly omits to mention is that the official advice was actually that UK citizens should avoid non-essential travel to the Tokyo area (thus voiding the travel insurance of those who made the rational decision that there was nothing to worry about) and that UK residents there should consider leaving! Advice that I challenged the Embassy to justify and was basically brushed off with platitudes. I realise that the UK advice was less panicked than many other countries, but that doesn't mean it was justified and certainly doesn't explain why they are trying to rewrite history. The ambassador was at that event, and Beddington is the UK Govt's Chief Scientist, so the discrepancy can't be simply explained away as a miscommunication or ignorance on his part. No, they got it wrong, and rather than admitting it just tried to bluster their way out of it. Unfortunately the event happened while I was in the USA or I would have been tempted to challenge him directly.

Incidentally, this is perhaps the most panicked and self-destructive behaviour I've heard of due to radiation paranoia. I suppose I could be grateful it's not another article about the "flyjin", but mostly I'm just sad that people managed to get themselves worked up into such a state of hysteria.

The govt is starting to think about plans for rebuilding, but it's not at all clear how things will work out. Much of the damaged area was already in decline, with the younger generation leaving for Tokyo and other cities. So there are emergency shelters full of the elderly, who want to go back to their home towns just as they used to be...which is hardly realistic. But no-one is going to stand up and say that's not possible, so things will probably just meander along with the refugees dying in large quantities and slowly giving up.

Planned power outages have just re-appeared in my calendar. There has been nothing in the news yet that I've seen, and I don't think any cuts have actually happened, but as the temperature increases so does the prospect of a shortage. We actually had a new all-time June record temp of 39.8C (a full degree and a half above the previous record, no less) somewhere a couple of days ago. It's still rainy season, not even summer! I did see (here) that TEPCO was up to 92% of current capacity on Friday, but many of the planned power savings haven't kicked in yet (eg our computers are still running normally, they are scheduled for a throttling-back) and I think that TEPCO has some more power reserves planned to come on-line for the summer. The Govt has upgraded the annual "cool biz" campaign to "Super cool biz", ie jeans and t-shirts (Jeans? In 30C+? Cool?). I'm already on ultra-cool biz for the summer, and am pleased to report that more than one company doesn't object to shorts and sandals (and unlike Mizuno, I don't have to wear JAMSTEC-branded goods).

Meanwhile, I'm relieved not to be back in the UK (yet), where apparently they are in the middle of a deadly heatwave that threatens civilisation. Or, as we say in Celsius, "28 degrees".


Hank Roberts said...

> get it working again

The link is to the Japan Today story saying "TEPCO said it had replaced the chemicals in the absorption equipment"

Elsewhere in a blog comment:
"netudiant said
TEPCO indicated yesterday that they were replacing the zeolite in the cleanup with silica."

Steve Bloom said...

All and sundry know
flyjin haiku are better
So get used to it