Saturday, March 19, 2011

Radiation battle continues

Efforts today continued at the Fukushima nuclear plant, this time with a massive unmanned water truck continuously spraying seawater onto reactor number 3.  That is either 'effective in keeping the temperature down' or 'as useful as using a water pistol on a bonfire ' according to which website you read.

For a sober and accurate summary the British embassy website is the best I've found:

http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=569076982

Long-term hopes are pinned on continuing work aim at restoring power to the plant and thus utilising existing cooling systems.  Power has already been restored to reactors 1,2, 5 and 6.  3 and 4 are proving the most troublesome.

In overseas media criticism of the Japanese government continues.  Maybe I just like being contrary, but far from being critical, every day I am more and more impressed.  My sense is of a government doing the best it can under extraordinary circumstances.  The Kan Naoto administration is coping with a recalcitrant media, sensationalist foreign government reports and a paranoid public.  Not only that, there is also an actual disaster that they are dealing with, the humanitarian disaster caused by the tsunami.  But press conferences are frequent and to me anyway seem well-informed.  And today it was announced that trace radioactivity had been found in spinach from Ibaraki and milk from Fukushima.  This is actually extraordinarily reassuring, as the government is not hiding anything from us.  Bad news is not too bad if they tell it how it is.

Indeed this is the kind of stuff Japanese authorities are good at.  There is a dedicated and professional bureacracy.  A huge well of self-sacrifice and good will in the public.  Well-developed transport and logistics systems.   When you compare the tsunami disaster to what happened in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina you can't help but be impressed.  Where after Katrina you had looting, shooting, rape, car-jacking and murder, in Fukushima you get communal rice cooking and face mask distribution.

2 comments:

YerOfficeMate said...

Did you seriously just compliment the Japanese bureaucracy? They're helping how? I understand one reason they can't airdrop supplies into places completely cut off is because of the "paperwork involved" in allowing such a move.

Captaincassowary said...

That sounds pretty grim. You got a source for that matey? I don't doubt it, but more people should know.