March 11, 2014

Now I Am Become Death, The Destroyer Of Worlds

Three years ago, a horrible disaster hit the coast of beautiful Japan, the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl (which took place in 1986).

What some may not know, however, is that the Fukushima plant was not the closest plant to the epicenter of the earthquake.  No, that title goes to the plant at Onagawa which, like its fallen brethren, had to endure the brunt of the Tohoku earthquake and following tsunami, but is a much more populous city to boot.

The hero behind the Onagawa plant is Yanosuke Hirai.  In 1968, Hirai retired from his position as VP at
Tohoku Electric Power and joined a committee for the construction of the company's plant in Onagawa.
 The man wanted the plant to be built 50 ft above sea level, that it should have a cooling system that would provide water even if a tsunami's receding waters temporarily left the plant dry, and should be protected by a 49 ft seawall (other had planned for this wall to be a mere 10 ft tall).

Despite the critiques he received from the company's bureaucrats who wanted to save money, Hirai held firm (incidentally, he believed bureaucrats to be "like human trash...who never take final responsibility.").  The company's then president finally agreed to Hirai's design, and the wall ended up being 46 ft high (since the tsunami, the wall's been raised another 10 ft).

So what about the Fukushima plant?  That plant also had a seawall, but it didn't go over 19 feet high, so that the 43-ft tsunami that had traveled 112 miles to get there had no trouble getting over it, knocking power out, creating meltdowns, explosions, and ensuing release of radioactive matter in the ocean.

Corporate compliance is different from compliance.  Just being 'not guilty' is not enough. ~Tatsuji Oshima

But without counting all the deaths brought on by the tsunami, here's another scary aspect of this terrible incident:  the radioactive pollution that will affect/is affecting the rest of the world.

I really hope that, after all the disasters we've had in recent years (Gulf of Mexico Oil spill for instance), we've finally learned that cutting corners for a little bit of extra profit is just not worth it.  But I'm afraid history does have a tendency to repeat itself... Sigh.

Full Article:
How tenacity, a wall saved a Japanese nuclear plant from meltdown after tsunami, by Richard Read

The title is a quote from the Bhagavad Gita which was brought to J. Robert Oppenheimer's mind after he witnessed the results of the first atomic bomb detonation.


  1. Hallo, this is Shinya. I see that you have the interest in Fukushima. The public opinion in Japan is is divided. One opinion is that Japan should maintain atomic power,for industry and life. Another opinion is that Japan should stop atomic power, because atomic power is dangerous. Large enterprise and politisian are inclined to restart to use atomic power. I think they want to cut the cost of energy. Japan must import every resouse from foreign country. Oil, gas, mineral.
    But I do not agree their opinion. By the accident in Fukushima, the pollution spread . We must recover Fukushima. So I think that Japan should not take the same policiy. We must think aother way to live.

  2. Hi Shinya! Yes, I agree with you, I think it would be much better if instead they concentrated their resources in finding clean energy. Granted, in the short term it might be difficult because, as you say Japan has to import all other types of energy sources... But, if they manage to become the leader in clean energy, that would be great for them too!! It's really tough.