Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fukushima Plant Status as of 7pm March 16th

I've started to come across some other official releases that have been translated into English. I will start with a data sheet outlining the most recent Fukushima plants status.


It seems that the 'time' to start blaming is upon us. The Daiichi plants have suffered damage over the last few days and reports about where to start pointing fingers is now creeping into the recent news reports.

I have witnessed quite a few already saying that there hasn't been enough information coming from official sources; that the government and the company are trying to downplay the situation. I am not in a position to talk about what events happened years ago but I am in a position to speak on what is happening now.

In fact, it is one of the key reasons that I decided to really push any information out in some kind of medium. The events unfolding in Japan are hard to watch and as a nuclear engineer myself I find some small measure of peace explaining what I can to those who care to listen.

The official sources of information are out there. There are enough of them giving updates day in and day out that it's all I can do to try and keep up. Between the three of us, we've found detailed information on the plant status, statements from high levels of Japanese government, our government, nuclear experts, the IAEA, NEI, ANS, NISA, JAIF, TEPCO, .... I mean come on!

We now seem to be transitioning into the next stage where those who have been 'reporting' are now looking how to prolong the story. The uber-hype is probably starting to fall on the deaf ears of the fickle ADHD public.

With that being said, science is a slow, meticulous process that, for some, takes a frustratingly long time. Project time lines are on the order of years. Some spend entire careers chasing for the truth. A physics professor used a saying that, "The more you learn about less and less until you know everything about nothing". In a field like nuclear engineering I couldn't agree more.

It's not that the nuclear engineers didn't do their homework. It's not that the Mark I containment isn't adequate to handle the stresses it was designed to handle. It's that, somehow, at some point in time, someone decided to demand that nuclear energy must operate in the world of absolutes. Is it absolutely safe? Can you guarantee that my child will receive absolutely no radiation dose? Are you absolutely sure? ...Really? This was something that was long established before I was introduced into the industry and I wonder, what will it take to change it?

From the countless hours I have already spent researching the events and keeping up with what's happening over at Fukushima Daiichi I ask what more could people want? These sites are releasing bulletins by the handfuls every day. TEPCO has been releasing updates almost hourly. I guess some expect absolutes. They want to hear that there is no uncertainty; that it is or it isn't. I don't know what to say to this line of thinking other than, "Wake up!" because there are no absolutes.

Science is as science does. Even if there are people to blame or victims to be compensated, none of this will even begin to actually be addressed until the situation at Fukushima is over. Even then, as scientists, we're going to take our thick-rimmed glasses and our pocket protectors and we're going to do our job. Science doesn't require emotion and even if you don't find yourself emotional about science then it's still not hard to understand that the extremely emotional broadcasts don't translate into good science.