Fukushima: why is vital technology arriving so late?

Fukushima
Fukushima (Photo credit: zigazou76)

Obviously it was a good thing to see a roaring Antonov N-124 cargo plane from Russia flying into Atlanta airport this week, picking up a specially designed 86180 kg concrete pump, retrofitted and mounted on a 26-wheel truck to pour water on the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant.This Putzmeister made pump in Wisconsin is able to shoot water into hard-to-reach areas like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,  and  as it happened in 1986 when two of such pumps have been used to pour concrete over the most “risk parts” of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.

Japanese authorities from the beginning have been facing  the problem to cool the plant’s  reactors after the recent earthquake and tsunami, fully crippling out the backup cooling equipment.

Needless to say that this technology will offer real help. This equipment is both able to pump and spray enough water to cool down an overheated reactor, where fire trucks and helicopters  are not efficient, – but  this equipment is also able to pour concrete over parts of nuclear plants if so required. Really great this technology!  But why on earth is  this technology arriving so late at its proper destination?

This equipment has a boom which can reach out some 70 meter, besides really  the opportunity to be operated at least 3 km away by remote control.

Lets face it,  a more proactive approach with sending this type of equipment in a far more timely way could have prevented excessive radiation and could have limited as such death and morbidity at a large-scale.

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Japan‘s latest estimates about radiation being  released in the air from the Fukushima plant, seems about 370 terabecquerels of iodine 131.  This is about 7-8 % of the estimated 5200 terabecquerels released at Chernobyl. The difference  is mainly caused by  the fact when the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl happened, the reactor had power, – whilst the Fukushima plant had no power at the time of the earthquake. It could have been a worst case scenario if the plant at Fukushima  had full power on impact, which could have been possible.  Of note as well that Caesium -137 levels last far longer than those of iodine and further measurements of Caesium -137 levels and its spreading may give a more detailed indication on the future implications, if full transparency is in place.

Still however  the question after Chernobyl – why international support on the most vital point of attack in scenario’s like the one at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been so slow, with now so many implications for Japan. It is clear that the International Atomic Energy Agency, apart from judging matters of radiation in terms of INES scales in retrospect,  need to seek support at the level of international governments and vice versa. The aim is to have rapid response teams quickly available with the inclusion of pumps as designed e.g. at Putsmeister, and e.g Russian cargo planes at times of such disasters being on stand by, – besides other things. This actually will show proper and proactive support in the future and may cut both damage and danger in any further events down the line. It is clear that Fukushima needs to give lesson’s for the future, like the BP oil disaster in the US needs to be a lesson in terms of specific required international technology being rapidly on the spot. The last simply as a need to combat destructive implications at an early stage, with speed.

Related imageJapan wants to share the lessons it learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster

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If e.g a major bus accident happens on the road with many being seriously injured, – rapid response is vital as the earlier you can pay attention to those who have breathing problems or those who are bleeding, the better the survival rate. In a way this is similar with what happened at Fukushima. If Putzmeister pumps would have been on the spot within let’s say 4 days, if achievable, the implications would have been less dramatic on both the short and the long-term for people who have tried to fight this disaster at the forefront, – now being exposed to measures both discriminatory and reminiscent due to stigma’s being applied – and confusion about radiation.

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It is clear that proactive disaster management plans to the future need to be in place in those areas which could provoke major threats on human lives if disasters of any such kind are not dealt with properly, – with all technology being required in place in the quickest way. This requires on its own international coöperation, which failed Japan in crucial areas, or at least arrived to late.

Thank you!

 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/the-nuclear-energy-dangers-in-our-times/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/

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