There’s a dead cat at the bottom of Unit 1

Fukushima Daiichi (02110055)

Remember when I compared the Fukushima situation to that old joke about “the cat’s on the roof”? Yes, I remember all the reasonable, rational, technically-employed menfolks (not here, over at the other site) explaining to me how irresponsible and crazy I was for saying this was what happened. But it did:

The Tokyo Electric Power Corp. says Unit 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant did, in fact, meltdown during the 2011 accident.

TEPCO released results from a three-day study in February of the Unit 1 reactor building jointly with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. The two companies collected data until March 10. The project used cosmic rays to inspect the interior of the building. By analyzing the flow of muons, which are subatomic particles generated when cosmic rays collide with the atmosphere, TEPCO was able to generate X-ray like images of the interior of the reactor. Muons can pass through concrete and iron, but they are blocked and change direction when they hit high-density substances such as plutonium and uranium, creating a “shadow.”

TEPCO said the fuel had melted because there were no shadows around the reactor’s core, and the fuel had likely melted and fallen to the bottom of the building into a containment vessel. The operator also said there was no accumulation of water in the core of the reactor pressure vessel.

TEPCO said the results confirmed previous assumptions of a meltdown. The utility plans to continue measurement until it gains enough data to conduct a statistical analysis, and said the data gained will help it work out a plan to remove the debris, most likely by robots due to the high amounts of radiation in the reactor.

First of all, it’s not an “accident.” TEPCO cut corners to save money, and this is the predictable result.

And who are they kidding? The containment vessel melted, too. They didn’t scan the containment area because they don’t want us to know that. That fuel is out there. And we can probably assume the same about Unit 2.

It’s frustrating to have the kind of mind I do, because I so frequently get an accurate gut reaction (which is really my brain hitting overdrive and connecting random experience and pieces of information) and I do not know how to download all that data (remember, I’ve read an estimated 60,000 books, minimum, and countless articles) and put it into context for people who don’t have the same data set. I frequently fail, which annoys me. I usually lack the patience to sift through the data in a way that will communicate the same conclusion to others, but I sometimes try.

It is even harder to communicate what’s happening with a situation like Fukushima, because engineer types believe in their fail-safe systems — the system does not fail! But that’s because technical people don’t accurately assess human factors like corruption, company leadership and dangerous cost-cutting until they see it with their own eyes.

So let me remind you: It is a well-established principle in governance that the “responsible” thing to do is withhold information that will cause a panic and other negative social and economic ripple effects. (I seem to recall there’s even a U.S. law to that effect.) So they will never, ever really tell us the actual risks to the U.S. population from this meltdown. To their way of thinking, there’s no need for us to know.

3 thoughts on “There’s a dead cat at the bottom of Unit 1

  1. The radio silence on the harm of that accident alarms me more than anything else. Worse than Chernobyl, yet almost no government even wants to test the ocean waters or find out the extent of the nuclear contamination. Anymore, that tells you all you need to know about how really fucked we are.
    I can’t believe people, especially rich celebrities and politicians, even set foot in Japan anymore. I not only don’t eat seafood (also because of the BP spill and corexit), I worry about contamination when I eat at a place that merely serves seafood (but if I stopped eating at all places that serve seafood, I would basically have to do all my own cooking, which isn’t going to happen unless society collapses and I am forced to, in which case I will probably starve first)

  2. In the days following the meltdown radiation counts at the top of the Santiam Pass [thirty or so miles west of the Oregon High Desert] were hundreds of times higher than ever recorded, higher than even the radiation counts recorded during the open-air nuclear testing days.

    I’ve had two grandchildren born since.

  3. Well, I, never a headache person, now get a skull-splitting headache every time it rains out here in northern California, and I sure in hell know why. I don’t know if radiation rain is the type of rain California really needs, but that’s all there is. My friends/acquaintances/neighbors/family/random people in the grocery store are sick of hearing me rant. This is another yet example of Capitalism run amok and the media being complicit.

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