Monday, April 04, 2011

Tepco - Japan's most hated company

More stress today at the number 1 Fukushima nuclear plant.  Tepco workers announced that efforts to block leaks from a cracked containment pit with concrete are not working as water entering the pit prevents the concrete from setting.  Officials have still not identified the ultimate source of the radioactive water - though they suspect that the water is exiting the number 2 reactor's turbine building through a cable trench connected to the damaged storage pit.  The latest suggested fix is to string an underwater 'silt fence' outside the drainage outlet in a bid to capture the bulk of the radioactive particles.  This kind of fence is usually used in river and bridge construction work to prevent the spread of muddly water.

Meanwhile it was announced tonight that 11,000 tonnes of low level radioactive water had been released directly into the sea, as waste from cooling the reactors.  There is a continual question of what to do with the radioactive water as cooling efforts continue.

In Fukushima prefecture itself low levels of radiation continues to be measured in different agricultural products.  Today it was reported that tobacco sales from certain areas of the prefectcure would be stopped as very low levels of radioactivity had been detected in tobacco plants.  The levels excede the government safety limits - it was reported that consumption of this tobacco would result in an increased risk of cancer of 0.05 percent.  Well, I think a little perspective is in order here.  This is verging on the ridiculous to tell the truth.  Considering that smokers have a 30% chance of dying from a smoking-related illness, this kind of statistic reveals in my opinion how paranoid the situation is becoming.  If the authorities were really that interested in public health, they would prohibit the sale of tobacco from anywhere.

Tepco itself is rapidly becoming the most hated company in Japan.  Graffiti has been found at their public relations hall.  The company has been forced to alter their signage, including signs outside company dormitories housing employees, in order to avoid abuse.  Complaints about the nuclear accident and the rolling blackouts have flooded the call centre of the Tokyo branch.  Because the number of calls exceeds the capacity to respond, some people have come directly to the call centre to complain to employees about failing to take their call.  Not only that, but people are protesting outside the call centre because the number of people complaining to the call centre staff about staff failing to take their call has exceeded the staffs' capacity to respond to their complaints, so that they have nobody to complain to.

Okay, I made the last sentence up.  The rest is true.  In addition, a male employee of Tepco said, "Not only myself, but my family is also considerably troubled.  My wife told me, 'I feel the neighbours are looking at me in a questionable manner.'"

I feel for Tepco.  They are doing the best they can under infernal circumstances.  It's not their fault they can't supply all the electricity Tokyo needs.  It's not even their fault their nuclear power plant is leaking radioactive water.  Shit happens, even shit like huge earthquakes and 10-metre tsunamis.

An acquaintance told me he was praying for the all the people in Fukushima.  My thoughts were, if God was answering prayers, maybe he wouldn't have sent the tsunami in the first place.

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