From CNN World today (April 10th, 2011) (http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/08/japan.nuclear.crisis/):
‘A month into the crisis, the utility acknowledges, there is no end in sight.
The problems are so far “beyond the design capacity” of the plant that the Japanese are working in uncharted territory, said Michael Friedlander, a former senior operator at U.S. nuclear power plants.
“No nuclear power plant has ever considered the inability to get on long-term core cooling for more than a week, much less three weeks,” Friedlander said.
Some Japanese experts now say the effort is in danger of failing unless Japan seeks more help from international experts to bring it to an end. Tetsunari Iida, an engineer-turned-industry critic, said the situation is “beyond the reach” of Japan’s closely knit nuclear establishment.’
One can only hope that this is a case of things appearing darkest before the dawn. It appears to me to be a candid assessment by those in a position to make accuate assessments — the only qualification I would add is that there is a paucity of information. Nobody has full information. Still, it is possible to make the judgments above on general, nonspecific information.
I don’t know what to say. Kicking the problem up to the international level doesn’t do much more than make it a call for help. Many others echo what the former nuclear power plant operator Friedlander indicates in the above excerpt, that this is not just beyond Japan’s capability, but it is beyond the scenarios that anyone in the US — and maybe anywhere — has considered. There is no analog of calling the fire department or the ambulance, or the ER staff for this.
There is no emergency plan anyone has ever developed that applies to this situation.
I don’t know what to say. Well, there is one thing; we must keep this visible in the news (without eclipsing all the human needs that need to be addressed, too) for the following reason: the temptation to take desperate measures that negatively impact the health, safety, and long term status of the oceans and environment will become more and more intense. One thing the media and watchdog groups can do is make it easier to resist that temptation.