March 31, 2011

"My son and his colleagues have discussed it at length and they have committed themselves to die if necessary to save the nation."

"They have concluded between themselves that it is inevitable some of them may die within weeks or months. They know it is impossible for them not to have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation."

51 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward, ...

chickelit said...

I read this with sadness, and it made me want to reread the stories about Glenn Seaborg synthesizing and isolating plutonium back in the 40's. The best account I've read was in Richard Rhodes's "The Making Of The Atomic Bomb".

Seaborg lived well into his 80s. I think what saved him was the small doses from such small amounts.

Quaestor said...

This is the kamikaze spirit alive and well in the 21st century. Historians who interviewed divine wind survivors revealed that they were not motivated by some kind of fanatic desire to emulate legendary samurai, but to satisfy their deep sense of obligation to family.

ricpic said...

...their deep sense of obligation to family.

Plus the extreme shame each would bring on his particular family if he did not go back into the place of almost certain death.

The Drill SGT said...

I understand the committment is there and am impressed by it. However from what I have seen, the worst dosages recorded have been the 3 guys in the water and their doses were beta burns (sunburn type) amounting to 170mSv, which is 3 times the US annual radiation worker limit of 50, but under the current japanese threshold of 250. For comparision, in some parts of Europe and the ME, you can get 50mSv in each year just walking around and living in your mud brick house.

Thus far, a lot of the stuff has been pure press hype.

Further, the Pu238 traces outside are a distraction. That needs to be sorted out however is the high readings in the trenches which could (only could) mean a containment leak.

The Drill SGT said...

...their deep sense of obligation to family.

The Japanese might be different in this fashion, but my guess, the shame is not oriented relative to relatives (pun required), but rather oriented on not abandoning his virtual siblings, the other 49 workers. In other words, peer pressure. That is what motivates men on the battlefield. Losing the respect of their peers, not god, mother, or sushi.

Freeman Hunt said...

I can't find any news from the last few days that indicates how many millisieverts (or microsieverts) per hour the workers are being exposed to.

And I haven't seen any information from older news that would indicate they are receiving lethal doses of radiation.

But I did see this.

So are they really going to die or is lack of sleep, supplies, and support making spirits run low?

Freeman Hunt said...

There was also this bit of hysteria.

traditionalguy said...

Japanese see themselves as one big family all descendants of the Sun God (The Emperor). As a result dying to save Japan seems honorable. We all die one day anyway.

Freeman Hunt said...

As a result dying to save Japan seems honorable.

It is honorable. Isn't it?

Harry Phartz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

The most noble fate a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war's desolation.
Source: Lt. Col. Jean V. Dubois (Ret.),

traditionalguy said...

Freeman...Yes, men who are not afraid to die are honorable. Scripture speaks of the victory that comes to men do who not love their lives unto death.

David said...

Banzai!

David said...

There were quite a few brave Russians who did this at Chernobyl too, under even worse conditions.

edutcher said...

Disagree with Quaestor in that this has less to do with kamikaze than the samurai code.

Others in other nations have done as much (Thermoplyae, the Alamo), but it's breathtaking to see it in our own time.

bagoh20 said...

Knowing that we all will die soon anyway, you would think that dying for a good or necessary cause would be sought out by more of us, and accepted anxiously, but every year, every moment is invaluable to us even if it means dying a slow useless death or even living a life less valuable than a single act of selfless sacrifice. I envy the heroes, but have no idea if I would be able to join that club if the opportunity demanded it. I hope I would.

Harry Phartz said...

I'm way outta my depth in the field of nuclear engineering, and when I had the opportunity to speak with a consulting nuclear engineer 10 days ago I was eager to hear his insight. Members of his firm had consulted at that reactor site. He indicated the the critical failure was the disruption of pumps that should have pumped diesel fuel to the diesel powered backup generators. He also remarked that earthquakes and tsunami's were factored into the design of the reactor - but that the anticipated design level for a tsunami was one of 3 meters, where the acutal incident was more like 10-11m.

Ooops!

My question for him was this - hypothetically, if the plant melts down, instead of a long slow release of radiation - couldn't a nuclear explosion be utilized to fuse or transform/consume some of the materials, and, with the wind blowing in the right direction (i.e., east), couldn't it be possible to reduce the overall impact by destroying the the core of the reactors with the million degree temperatures achieved in a nuclear burst? I mean, uranium decays slowly where it ultimately becomes lead (after millions of years). At least that's what I recall from high school chemistry. Isn't the idea of containing it for eons (as at Chernobyl) a bad idea when you are talking about a densely populated island? Since much of the surrounding area has been evacuated/displaced by the tsunami effects, it might be the time to drop a big one on this thing. Unless of course it only had the effect of disbursing the existing radioactive materials and not transforming/reducing it.

I guess that question was more out-of-mind thinking than out-of-box thinking, because the consulting nuclear engineer had a very long laugh at my suggestion.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

"Others in other nations have done as much (Thermoplyae, the Alamo), but it's breathtaking to see it in our own time."

That it is, times being so different and all.

edutcher said...

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Others in other nations have done as much (Thermoplyae, the Alamo), but it's breathtaking to see it in our own time.

That it is, times being so different and all.


Precisely. How many acts such as this have we seen in the last 20 years or so?

Damned few, if any.

And excluding the Islamic crazies.

The world has become jaded, apathetic, and self-centered. This kind of selflessness has been quite rare.

The Drill SGT said...

My question for him was this - hypothetically, if the plant melts down, instead of a long slow release of radiation - couldn't a nuclear explosion be utilized to fuse or transform/consume some of the materials

LOL,

understand that Fission bombs are very inefficient. On the order of 25%for modern Fission bombs. . For comparison, Little Boy, the Hiroshima bomb had an efficiency of 1.5%.
The 25% efficiency of modern bombs is near the max design. Understand, we're talking about extremely well refined materials, and magnificent engineering achieving 25%.

That means that 75% of the actual bomb material becomes fallout. That implies to me that all that radioactive junk you want fissioned is just also going to end up in the mushroom cloud, downwind. duh....

The world's dirtiest bomb....

The Crack Emcee said...

THEY ARE MEN.

EDH said...

Maybe one of them can become a realy lame president some day.

Mr. [Jimmy] Carter was a young U.S. Navy officer based in Schenectady, New York, who was working closely with Admiral Hyman Rickover on the nuclear propulsion system for the Sea Wolf submarine. He was quickly ordered to Chalk River, joining other Canadian and American service personnel.

“I was in charge of building the second atomic submarine … and that is why I went up there,” said Mr. Carter. “There were 23 of us and I was in charge. I took my crew up there on the train.”

Once his turn came, Mr. Carter, wearing white protective clothes that probably, by today’s standards, provided little if any protection from the surging radiation levels, was lowered into the reactor core for less than 90 seconds.

When he was running for president in 1975-76, Carter briefly described this Canadian experience in his campaign book, Why Not the Best?

“It was the early 1950s … I had only seconds that I could be in the reactor myself. We all went out on the tennis court, and they had an exact duplicate of the reactor on the tennis court. We would run out there with our wrenches and we’d check off so many bolts and nuts and they’d put them back on … And finally when we went down into the reactor itself, which was extremely radioactive, then we would dash in there as quickly as we could and take off as many bolts as we could, the same bolts we had just been practicing on.

“Each time our men managed to remove a bolt or fitting from the core, the equivalent piece was removed on the mock-up,” he wrote.

Years later, he was asked if he was terrified going into the reactor. He paused, growing quiet, before answering.

“We were fairly well instructed then on what nuclear power was, but for about six months after that I had radioactivity in my urine,” Mr. Carter said. “They let us get probably a thousand times more radiation than they would now. It was in the early stages and they didn’t know.”

The Crack Emcee said...

NotYourTypicalNewYorker,

"Others in other nations have done as much (Thermoplyae, the Alamo), but it's breathtaking to see it in our own time."

That it is, times being so different and all.


The times, the risks, nor the sacrifices, are different - people are.

And it doesn't speak well of us that is so.

E.M. Davis said...

This is Japan. Where are the robots?

The Drill SGT said...

How many acts such as this have we seen in the last 20 years or so?
Shughart and Gordon, the Delta shooters that volunteered to jump into the Mog street to protect the crew of Blackhawk Super 64, knowing that they were going to their deaths.

Gary Gordon requested to be inserted on the ground in order to secure the crash site and protect survivors, despite the fact that large numbers of armed, hostile Somalis were converging on the area.

Mission commanders denied Gordon's request twice, saying that the situation was already too dangerous for the three Delta snipers to effectively protect the Blackhawk crew from the ground. Command's position was that the snipers could be of more assistance by continuing to provide air cover. Gordon, however, concluded that there was no way the Black Hawk crew could survive on their own, and repeated his request twice until he finally received permission.


RIP.....

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause....

edutcher said...

Fair enough, Sarge (we can also add the police and fire on 9/11), but how many people view duty and honor in such a way these days?

More of that spirit and what we're seeing from the self-seekers in Madison and elsewhere would not be tolerated by most people.

The Drill SGT said...

Fair enough, Sarge (we can also add the police and fire on 9/11),

You are right, I've cited them before, but forgot tonight. Particularly the Firemen. With no disrepect, most of the Police were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the guts of the Firemen, and they all were men, who suited up, loaded up with those hose packs and started up 80 floors worth of stairs into an inferno. That takes huge brass ones.

Just sayin....

George Grady said...

Kirk: Spock!
Spock: The ship... out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh...
Kirk: ...the needs of the few...
Spock: ...Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
Spock: I have been and always shall be your friend.
[Holds up his hand in the Vulcan salute]
Spock: Live long and prosper.

Ken Mitchell said...

Most of what we read in the press about this is nonsense on stilts. Drudge is ESPECIALLY bad these days, but most of the other MSM news sites aren't far behind.

The MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering web site at http://mitnse.com/ is east to read, and not especially technical; definitely worth a look.

The real question is, between TEPCO minimizing things and Drudge going hysterical, where in the middle does the truth actually lie?

rcocean said...

Hello? The Soviet workers at Chernobyl did the same thing - actually even more dangerous - to prevent the spread of radiation.

So much for the "Kamikaze", its a "Jap thing" comments.

bagoh20 said...

How about martyrs, who choose death, often in horrible fashion, to save no one - on principle only. That is the pinnacle of seriousness.

enicar333 said...

There have been breaches in some of the containment vessels, at least one partial meltdown and the #3 reactor has MOX fuel which contains plutonium. Radiation is pouring into the sea, land and air. It will take them months to control it, before they can entomb it. There is a possibility Tokyo could become uninhabitable. A very serious situation.

The Battle for Chernobyl. You will be amazed, learn about "biorobots" and the huge sacrifice of lives. 1hr.32min. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiCXb1Nhd1o

A very interesting tour of post meltdown Chernobyl area with a Russian Lady - via motorcycle, you will find it fascinating.
http://www.kiddofspeed.com/chernobyl-land-of-the-wolves/author.html

enicar333 said...

The link below provides an insight to Japanese culture. The material is introduced by a Japanese American.

Castration - The Major Goal of Japanese Education and its Relationship to Government Deregulation - Masao Miyamoto M.D.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/castration-part-ii

Robert said...

Brave yes, trained definitely. Nuclear Plants in the US train for emergencies expecting that only 1/3 of the employees will stick with the problem. This does not mean that 2/3 will not show, it is just how the training occurs. If you want some real information, non hype, non headline, their are two easy to read sites that have lots of information and daily updates minus the wow factor.
The nuclear energy institute has a great site.
http://nei.org/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/

and, MIT's nuclear engineering and science program not only posts the information from above, but easy to understand general information.
http://mitnse.com/

Headlines sell but hype breeds more hype

Quaestor said...

Isn't the idea of containing it for eons (as at Chernobyl) a bad idea when you are talking about a densely populated island?

I doubt that a Chernobyl-style concrete tomb is in the cards, since the area is proven to be seismically unstable. Rather than an in situ entombment the damaged reactors will be filled with high-density concrete (assuming that the fuel hasn't actually melted and run together) and then craned into specially built barges. The barges will be towed out to sea to a place above an abyssal depth. The barges will then filled with additional concrete and be allowed to sink to the bottom.

Class factotum said...

There were quite a few brave Russians who did this at Chernobyl too

The book "Notes from Chernobyl" describes the men who tried to contain the fire and the horrible deaths they died soon after.

One of the stories that has stayed with me from the book is of little girls playing with deformed dolls and then having baby doll funerals.

LarsPorsena said...

The Crack Emcee said...

THEY ARE MEN.

3/31/11 9:17 PM

Nowadays few and far between.

Thanks, Crack

enicar333 said...

An excellent site and source for information on what is happening in Japan at the reactors.
http://www.fairewinds.com/

E.M. Davis said...

but how many people view duty and honor in such a way these days?


More than you'd think.

The Drill SGT said...

The Crack Emcee said...

THEY ARE MEN.

And the only reason nobody will say it is the misandry that's dished out, by a feminized culture and an untrustworthy world-wide media, every day. Women, and the entire society that allows them to get away with this gender sleight-of-hand, ought to be ashamed.


When you don't respect a group's contribution, why should anyone be surprised if you get less men willing to contribute.

Whether it's at the Nuke plant or in a foxhole, or in parenting, if you tell a group that what they are doing isn't respected, you won't get as much next time.

The Military learned that long ago with it's Regimental Colors and those itty bitty colored ribbons.

If we want men to be better fathers and husbands, we need to do less celebrating of women who don't need men, because even if wmoen don't, children do need fathers, if only to break the cycle.

enicar333 said...

Japan must be in serious trouble. They are looking for US workers to solve the Japanese problem.
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/exclusive-wanted-u-workers-crippled-japan-nuke-plant-20110331-165506-832.html

Balfegor said...

I was in Tokyo when the quake hit, and watched for a week afterward, day after day, the news on the situation in the north and the reactor. I am deeply grateful to these men for their sacrifice. The doses may not be lethal now, but dosing is cumulative, and it is looking like this will stretch on for a long while to come.

Original Mike said...

The potential for significant risk is obvious but if, in fact, the dose level we are currently talking about is 170 mSv, none of them are at immediate risk. LD50 (the dose at which 50% of an exposed population will die of acute radiation sickness) for whole body exposure is 5 Sv.

Luke Lea said...

Without even reading the story I am willing to bet this is just one more example of radiation hysteria generated by the Fukushima incident. No one was exposed to a lethal dose of radiation at Fukushima, even inside the fence line, and no one is about to die as a result.

P.S. As for those radiation levels in water "10,000 times" above normal, they forgot to tell you that normal is infinitesimally small. 10,000 times almost nothing is still pretty close to nothing. Coverage of this story in the mainstream media, echoed by government officials and anti-nuclear environmentalists -- has been disgraceful. E.g., the New York Times had a tabloid headline, "Nuclear Reactor Blows Up." Anything to hook the reader. Ochs would roll over in his grave.

Balfegor said...

The potential for significant risk is obvious but if, in fact, the dose level we are currently talking about is 170 mSv, none of them are at immediate risk. LD50 (the dose at which 50% of an exposed population will die of acute radiation sickness) for whole body exposure is 5 Sv.

I don't think the dose is as high as 170mSv/hr -- I think it is much lower most of the time (probably measured in micro Sv). If lethal is 5 Sv = 5,000 mSv, though, we'd be looking at about a day of exposure => lethal dose.

Original Mike said...

Balfegor - I was referencing The Drill SGT's 7:33pm post and took it to mean the highest integrated dose to a plant worker was 170 mSv.

On a related note, virtually all of the media reports I've seen of dose levels are worthless; they report a dose, rather than a dose rate, and give no clue as to the sampling period. More likely, they (the journalist) were given a dose rate and are too ignorant to know the difference. Why do the major media outlets think it's acceptable to hire reporters who couldn't differentiate y = x, and then send them to report on technical issues?

Balfegor said...

On a related note, virtually all of the media reports I've seen of dose levels are worthless; they report a dose, rather than a dose rate, and give no clue as to the sampling period.

At least when I was in Tokyo watching the TV, the Japanese media were actually quite good about communicating hourly dose-rates and showing plots of how the measured hourly dose was varying at various measurement points surrounding the plant, over time. There were a few screw-ups over milli-Sievert vs. micro-Sievert, early on, but it was pretty well done, I thought. Possibly because every channel seemed to have a panel of nuclear experts on hand pretty much constantly, just to provide explanation every time some new development came in from Fukushima. Print media have also been communicating doses per hour, although they're not reporting every single time a new measurement comes in anymore.

US reports probably suffer from (a) translation problems, and (b) ignorant reporters.

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