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Dave 03-12-2011 07:00 PM

Japan Earthquake
I thought I'd start a thread about the ongoing disaster and human tragedy affecting Japan. What a horrific thing.

Tonight and for as many days as needed, I stand with the Japanese people and will do what I can to support them and help them recover from this. I once lived in Japan and remember the people as being reserved, yet at times spontaneous. They always treated me with respect and courtesy, which is something lacking in many Americans these days.

Right now I am focused on the events at their nuclear power plants. As many of you know my professional career was in nuclear power and radiation protection. I've been doing it since 1979. I am seeing reports which tell me they are facing a laundry list of worst-case situations, and I have no doubt that substantial damage to the reactor cores has occurred at more than one reactor. This means fuel cladding failure, fuel melting, and the release of several radioactive isotopes. Most notable among them being Iodine-131 and Cesium-137. I-131 has a short half-life of 8 days. Cs-137 has a long half-life of 30 years. However, the I-131 can be the worst since it concentrates in the thyroid. This is why Japanese officials are distributing KI tablets (potassium iodide) to the citizens near the nuclear sites. KI doses up the thyroid and prevents it from absorbing the radioactive iodine.

Strontium-90 will also be released, which is a bone-seeker isotope since it behaves like calcium. Finally, there is also the possibility of Plutonium-239 which has a tremendously long half-life and is also poisonous simply by virtue of being a heavy metal, even if it was not radioactive.

I am overwhelmed by all of this unfolding. It is a nightmare for anyone who knows about or works with nuclear power.

gdjoslin 03-12-2011 10:04 PM

I will also stand with you. It will take years for them to recover from this. It is hard to beleive what destruction was done.

Don't know if you heard the story on your news but we lost a couple surfers on the west coast. You have to wonder how much grey matter they have. Going surfing, looking for the big wave at a time like this.

I am sure that the fear of a melt down will bring out a certain group of people in our county that I would just as soon not hear from.

poormom 03-13-2011 07:10 AM

My brother is the Captain of the APL Thailand, which was in the port of Oita, Japan when the quake hit. While it is well away from the epicenter, and I've heard that the ship and crew are safe, the whole area continues to be hit with aftershocks and unpredictable waves.

The scope of the destruction is incomprehensible. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan. I can't even watch the live footage of the Tsunami waves crashing on the shore. They keep broadcasting it like a Hollywood movie. Those buildings were the lives and families of real people being destroyed and killed.

I can't help but think they're hoping for a meltdown so they can boost ratings. I don't think they have a clue what the realities of that would be.

Dave 03-13-2011 08:28 AM

This will indeed embolden the anti-nukes out there. There are many things to rationally consider though, such as it probably wasn't a good idea to build reactors on or near the Pacific 'ring of fire'. But, Japan has to rely on seawater as a cooling medium. I also know that Japan does not have as rigorous standards regarding safety and training that we have in the U.S. It may be surprising to some, given Japan's hi-tech image, but there have been many accidents over there dealing with radioactive materials. Some of us in the industry have always felt they had a cavalier approach to it.

It will be weeks before they know the extent of deaths. Entire passenger trains are missing. A town is missing most of it's population.

gdjoslin 03-13-2011 03:35 PM

Too bad there isn't a way to harness all that engery created by the earthwave. That would have to be a heck of a lot of juice.

MCPayne 03-14-2011 03:18 PM

This was quite a disaster for Japan, and my hearts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected.

Those of you that follow figure skating may be aware that the World Championships were supposed to be in Tokyo next week, but the International Skating Union (ISU) announced today that they are being postponed, and possibly even canceled. While this may have been a difficult decision for them to make, I think it was the right one.

Dwayne 03-14-2011 04:06 PM

This has been one of, if not the worst natural disasters I remember in my lifetime. My mom was asking me questions about it today and asking what type of bombs we dropped on them after Pearl Harbor. I was so pleased to see her so alert and inquisitive. She was pointing out how at one time we (the US) were one time enemies and now we are friends and allies. I didn't know the answer to her question though. She wanted to know if they were hydrogen or atomic, or one of each. She lived through that time and was telling me things that happened back then.

This level of destruction from nature is a little hard to comprehend. I hope they get any radiation threat contained. I heard that some sailors were contaminated on the Ronald Reagan.

Dave 03-14-2011 04:35 PM

Both of the nuclear weapons used on Japan to end WWII were fission devices, which means they were not H-bombs. What is commonly called an H-bomb is a fusion weapon, which uses a fission device to create the environment necessary for nuclear fusion to occur. In other words, an H-bomb uses an atomic bomb as a fuze. The primary and secondary detonations occur in micro-seconds so it is not very apparent that two of them happened, but they did.

From the scattered news reports - all of which use incorrect terminology - I believe what happened with the Navy people is they flew through the plume of the airborne radioactivity released from the hydrogen bubble being vented at the Japanese nuclear plants. Thus, the helicopter crews were contaminated by having radioactive particles or more likely radioactive gas molecules (probably I-131) which being ionized had attached to the crews flight suits and exposed skin. This is the same process that happens to people with high Radon levels in their homes. The radioactive particles have an affinity to certain fabrics and will attach to them. They can be removed by simply waiting for them to decay, wiping the fabric, or just blowing air over the surfaces. As for skin and hair, a simple washing or showering with soap and lukewarm water will eliminate the contamination by releasing it's chemical bond with the skin or hair (or fabric).

One thing to note - people don't have radiation on them. Radiation is energy. People have contamination on them, and the contamination contains radioactive particles which emit radiation in various forms.

Nadine 03-14-2011 06:02 PM

I do pray for the people of Japan. It is impossible to comprehend what they are going through.


penny3333 03-15-2011 09:53 AM

It is horrific and I do wish there were more I could do besides pray. However, I'm not sure the Japanese are going to take our help. Dwayne, I know what your mom is saying, and it is wonderful that we are no longer enemies.

Gary, I also heard that there were 2 photographers that disappeared in either California or Oregon, they weren't sure. Hawaii and California were very lucky.

Dave, is it possible to cool the reactors down after they have been so heated? The explosions are not coming from the reactors, but seem to be out-buildings. What do they house?

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