Saturday, March 26, 2011

I am starting to have this same feeling of unreality about the Japanese nuclear disaster that I did about the oil spill in the Gulf.

This is a very serious situation and I believe that we don’t know half of what is going on. Here is a short description via DailyKos about what the people on the ground are dealing with.

The world today got its first glance of the 50 workers, until now an anonymous group of lower and mid-level managers. Pictures from inside the plant show staff in full protective suits and masks working in debris-strewn control rooms lit only by torchlight. They are also pictured working to reconnect power supplies and trying to make the towers in the plant safe.

Five are believed to have died and 15 are injured while others have said they know the radiation will kill them. At first light today officials were alarmed to see steam pouring from reactors 1, 2, 3, and 4. It was the first time that steam has escaped from the No 1 reactor.

I have heard about the two or three workers that got radiation burns on their feet and legs by walking in radioactive water. But this is the first time I have heard about people actually dying and receiving enough radiation to know that they are going to die. I also did not understand the true devastation because of the hydrogen explosions. The controlling mechanisms, even if they get electrical power restored, may not actually function. And we are now hearing that one of the main containment vessels has a very large crack in it and that was probably the source of the radioactive water that burned the workers as they valiantly attempted to do whatever they could to help the situation.

Remember, also, that these plants are on the shoreline of the ocean. All this radioactive runoff is going directly into the ocean.

I know this is poor taste and I think many people have been avoiding making these comparisons just for that reason. But I can’t help but notice that the situation now resembles many of the mutant monster sci-fi films of the 1950’s, both Japanese and American. No, I don’t expect a giant whatsits to come lumbering out of the sea and start crushing cars. The giant monsters were just metaphors anyway. The real monster, the unknown entity that we were all totally unprepared to deal with, is radioactivity. The only real differences here are the fact that an earthquake and tsunami were act the heart of the disaster, not an atomic bomb. Otherwise, those filmmakers were very prescient.

I keep hoping that this will all just go away. The situation can’t possible be as dire as I am thinking it might be. I was having some pretty awful thoughts about not being able to cap an oil gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The situation in Japan is much, much worse. I really don’t even want to consider the possibility of the “worst-case scenario.”

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