When Duty Called …

377mWhen Duty Called …

We know today that during the disastrous meltdown at the Fukushima facilities, most of the nuclear plant workers, those highly trained individuals, bold and brave, willing to stay when everything is going wrong and a possible disaster threatens us all, when confronted with an actual nuclear disaster decided to take a day off and fled the scene.

Goodness! Does this call into question all those scenarios where the nuclear plant is in trouble and the steely eyed, workers (who will be played by Tom Cruise in the later film) work those controls, klaxons sounding in the background, and bring that reactor back from the brink?

The government and TEPCO kept this from their public and us until now. It’s embarrassing. After all, if you’ve telling a story of courage and stalwart endurance in the face of nation-wide danger, the revelation that the last ditch defenders against nuclear disaster were searching their pockets for car keys may be less than edifying.

If you think this constitutes an argument against nuclear energy, you’re right.Those systems designed to stop nuclear disaster aren’t all automatic. They need human guidance, and if the workers flee, only the thinnest of chances protects us from disaster.

James Pilant

Business Ethics Implications –

The workers violated their duty to their nation, friends and relatives by leaving their stations. It seems obvious that TEPCO, the utility company, did not properly prepare for the incident and its management handled the events poorly. The Japanese government and TEPCO have actively suppressed information regarding the incident and its aftermath.

If you are a student writing a paper about an incident in which a lack of business ethics actively contributed to the disaster, this is a good topic with abundant sources.

James Pilant

Panicked workers abandoned Fukushima as the nuclear disaster unfolded, report reveals


As a nuclear disaster began to unfold at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, a full 650 of the 720 workers on hand panicked and abandoned the scene, a previously undisclosed report reveals.

That’s a very different version of events than the one put forward by TEPCO, the plant’s operator, which has said that it evacuated most of its workers, leaving a small, dedicated team behind to risk their lives fighting to contain the crisis. …

When Duty Called,

They Did Not Hesitate,

They Ran Like Hell.

(my thoughts, not in the original article, jp)

The Japanese government confirmed the report, but did not explain why it had been kept secret. TEPCO countered only that Yoshida’s vague order to withdraw to “low radiation areas” technically could have referred to the No. 2 plant, and said that it therefore didn’t consider those workers to have violated orders.

That the plant experienced such a severe breakdown in its chain of command during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami becomes all the more relevant as the Japanese government moves to restart the country’s other nuclear reactors, which were temporarily shut down after the disaster. As the Asahi article notes, “Yoshida’s testimony raises questions about whether utility workers can be depended upon to remain at their posts in the event of an emergency.”

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Japan Safety, Nuclear Power Updates.


Tepco under-calculated radiation exposure for 142 Fukushima workers — RT

” Tokyo Electric Power Co. underestimated internal radiation exposure of 142 workers involved in immediate emergency operations at the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, according to Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

After reexamining exposure records provided by TEPCO, the Ministry said Tuesday it had increased the 142 workers’ radiation data by an average of 5.86 millisieverts, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

The Ministry said one male employee was exposed to 180 millisieverts. He was initially reported to have been exposed to around 90 millisieverts.

Two other workers were exposed to radiation of 50 to less than 100 millisieverts, the Ministry found.

According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection a person should be exposed to no more than one millisievert per year from all sources of radiation, though it says only doses of more than 100 millisieverts are associated with a higher risk of cancer.

Holding Nuclear Power Plants to Strict Standards (via U.S. NRC Blog)

I hope the NRC is serious about that. The willingness here to refer to earlier enforcement efforts I find encouraging.

Since, nuclear power seems to be beyond any effect of public opinion, in fact, immune to all expressions of human intelligence and judgment, the NRC is our major line of defense.

Nuclear plants are built in America because the industry pays out a lot of money in political contributions and has superb lobbyists. No public concerns can carry such weight. All other issues are not worth consideration.

James Pilant

It’s not uncommon for regulatory agencies to be accused of being too cozy with whatever industry they regulate. It happens to the FDA, the SEC, the FAA and other federal regulators. And it’s happening to the NRC with some vigor recently, especially since the public’s attention to the Japanese nuclear emergency. As an independent regulatory agency, the NRC has a robust and comprehensive approach to holding U.S. nuclear power plants to strict safet … Read More

via U.S. NRC Blog

Japan: green tea exports banned due to high radiation levels (via The Crisis Jones Report)

I present a new post from the ever crusading web site, The Crisis Jones Report. I want to remind my readers that the crisis continues. Fukushima is going to be with us for years and the crisis continues with bad things happening almost daily generating more solid evidence of government and industry incompetence. That the Japanese Prime Minister survived a confidence vote was astonishing.

James Pilant

Japan: green tea exports banned due to high radiation levels The Japanese government has banned shipments of green tea leaves in four regions after high levels of radioactive caesium were found. Workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant are shielded with tarps  Photo: AP By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo 7:00AM BST 03 Jun 2011 A swathe of Japan’s tea making regions including parts of Tochigi, Chiba and Kanagawa prefecture as well as the whole of Ibaraki were included within the ban, according to the Ministry of … Read More

via The Crisis Jones Report

Bloomberg: Fukushima Radiated Water May Overflow Trenches in Five Days (via Japan Earthquake & Related Info)

This web site covers the Fukushima crisis on a daily basis. If you have any interest in this situation I recommend you subscribe. I do.

James Pilant

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-06-02/fukushima-radiated-water-may-overflow-trenches-in-five-days.htmlRead More

via Japan Earthquake & Related Info

Tepco head quits after $15bn loss (via moneyblogforexblog)

Accountability, how strange. I have doubts that such a poor performance would always cost the job of an American CEO. We have learned to insulate our governing and corporate classes from the petty pain of suffering for their actions.

The president of Tepco, which operates the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, resigns as the firm reports a $15bn loss.ge finance business intelligence … Read More

Here’s a news story about the resignation.

Here’s another take on the issue, discussing whether or not the company can continue.

Dose rate reduction actions (via Mark Foreman’s Blog)

Removing top soil from school grounds to reduce radiation is a positive step. It does however provide a small harbinger of the enormous cost this disaster is going to impose in Japan for as much future as humans can reasonably foresee.

Generally nations recover from floods, chemical spills, rock slides, etc. and dare I say it, combinations of tsunami and earthquakes. Japan may recover economically but the damage to the land is permanent unless you look at history in terms of periods like the Jurassic.

It is questionable business ethics to promote PR that claims such disasters unlikely or impossible. It is questionable business ethics to subvert the government into downplaying or covering up incidents at your nuclear plants. It is questionable business ethics to pretend certainty when you don’t have any.

I expect giant corporations to lie, exaggerate and steal if at all possible. (Small corporations are much less likely to have these faults and are in many cases, excellent examples of morality and patriotism.) But permanently destroying the landscape has to considered unethical in an extreme sense.

James Pilant

Dose reduction actions It looks like the Japanese have started to take actions to lower doses and dose rates. One action has been the removal of the top layer of soil from school property. Due to the fact that children are still growing they are regarded as being more sensitive to the induction of cancer by radiation. I hold the view that this is the reason why no person under the age of 16 is allowed to become a radiological worker, also up to t … Read More

via Mark Foreman’s Blog

Fuk-U-shima (via VA Shipbuilder)

This seems to be a day in which post after post has thoughtful comments. That makes it a good day. I appreciate thinking especially critical thinking.

This author has some thoughts and some questions. Should spent nuclear fuel rods be stored on top of currently operating reactors? I believe that is the practice in many countries including the United States.

However, I am not an expert on nuclear plants and if any of my kind readers would like to lend us a hand with this question, I will be happy to thank him and publish his thoughts.

James Pilant

Special thanks to VA Shipbuilder.

The nuclear industry (and to some extent, my small shipyard) is in the fight of its life.  This assessment is true whethere you are for or against nuclear power in general.  40 years ago, a group of people made a decision that would have lasting impacts.  For whatever reason, the Fukushima Dai Ichi plant was designed in such a way that the storage pools for spent fuel rods were placed directly above the reactor cores.  I like to call this design … Read More

via VA Shipbuilder

9.1 – Nuclear Energy Continued (via nimerd)

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked about Congress’ decision to increas the United States’ reliance on nuclear power.

There’s no question in my mind that the power plants are going to built either with private money or private money guaranteed by the treasury. The second course is the one chosen by the government.

Congress has acted to guarantee loans used to build these plants and indemnified the industry from damages over a certain point.

It doen not give one faith in the financial security of such an investment or the safety of the plants. But that’s how it’s going to be done.

The author is asking some important questions. Please read his post.

James Pilant

A few weeks back I blogged about the post-tsunami nuclear meltdown in Japan, and predicted it would impact the use of nuclear energy worldwide. However, a month after the event, this does not appear to be the case. An article from an investment article I read today cited several prominent nuclear energy companies in several countries, including the US and Japan, that are saying they will continue to use nuclear energy as usual. Japan, which curre … Read More

via nimerd

The anguish people in Fukushima prefecture have to face (via Aoumigamera)

This guy is measuring his radiation and deciding on the level of risk he finds acceptable. This is from someone on the ground in the area. I’m sure if you read Japanese, you can find hundreds, probably thousands of blogs from the area, but I only speak English. I imagine more than a few of you are in the same situation.

So, get a view from near the disaster from an independent soul with his own ideas.

James Pilant

I have often had nappa cabbage and lettuce harvested in Ibaraki prefecture, which is just next to Fukushima prefecture, in the last few weeks. Some of my friends knew this and they told me I was a reckless guy. I don’t care about that. They are quite cheap now, hehe. I’m not a vegetarian but I eat a lot of veges because I love them. If there’s no meat or fish for a couple of days, it’s no problem to me. If, however, there’s no veges in one meal, … Read More

via Aoumigamera

Japan Earthquake Tragedy and its Message (via A Fool’s Wish)

I’m more convinced of the toughness and resilience of humanity than this author. Nevertheless he has an interesting point of view. It is always possible to look at humans at the top of the food chain or at the very bottom. It’s a matter of perspective.

Is the glass half empty or half full? (Is that the champion cliche or what?)

James Pilant

Having no access to outside world for a month due to the mandatory military training, it’s joyous to be back in front of my laptop and catch up what I’ve missed. Facebook, Gmail and ESPN are my natural stops every morning, but I surfed away from those sites rather quickly and sought for articles on Japan Earthquake. It is extremely surreal that I still do not realize to my senses how serious of a tragedy this natural phenomenon has been. As final … Read More

via A Fool’s Wish