Japanese Nuclear Emergency: workers at the sharp end

Disclaimer/Uncertainty: We are running a Chernobyl script where it seems not to be accurate (cf the media’s transparent desire for a ‘Chilean miners’ sequel in New Zealand last November at Pike River.

The Age had a story yesterday that made me shudder, and weep.Heroic 50 sent in to save millions by Keith Bradsher and Hiroko Tabuchi

A SMALL crew of technicians, braving radiation and fire, have become the only people remaining at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power station – and perhaps Japan’s last chance of preventing a broader nuclear catastrophe.
They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their torches, listening for periodic explosions as hydrogen gas escaping from crippled reactors ignites on contact with air.
They breathe through uncomfortable respirators or carry heavy oxygen tanks on their backs. They wear white, full-body jumpsuits with snug-fitting hoods that provide scant protection from the invisible radiation….
The workers are being asked to make escalating sacrifices that so far are being only implicitly acknowledged: Japan’s Health Ministry said it was raising the legal limit on the amount of radiation to which each could be exposed, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for nuclear plant workers in the United States.

I am not that brave. I am glad some people are. I said it before, it’s glib and doesn’t address the whole baseload issue, but

When an earthquake flattens a wind farm, what have you got? An adventure playground for the kiddies or perhaps a giant Antony Gormley conceptual art installation. You do not have an unfolding catastrophe that will screw people for months/years/decades. But of course, windfarms don’t let your technical boys play God, and they don’t have weaponisable spin-offs…

If we spent a fraction of the money on renewables R & D that we have thrown at nuclear, maybe we wouldn’t be relying on these people (as Russia needed its liquidators who, you will be shocked to learn are being screwed ), and holding our breath?
See also Club Troppo with a nuclear roundup.

And a site maintained by the students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.
Looks good, but then, “Brave New Climate” is on its blogroll. And guilt-by-association, that was being plugged by “Arthur Dent”.

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Below the surface...
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