15 March 2011

Fukushima 50 ~ Strength to Frontline Operators

The Guardian's Tania Branigan and Justin McCurry write how the Fukushima 50 battle radiation risks as Japan nuclear crisis deepens...
"Between 50 and 70 employees -- now known in English as the Fukushima 50 -- all in protective gear, were left at the plant to battle myriad problems. Some are assessing the damage and radiation levels caused by the explosions, while others cool stricken reactors with seawater to try to avert a potentially catastrophic release of radiation. The workers are the nuclear power industry's equivalent of frontline soldiers, exposing themselves to considerable risks..."
And Keith Bradsher and Hiroko Tabuchi of the NYTimes write Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers...
"They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots. [...] Nuclear reactor operators say that their profession is typified by the same kind of esprit de corps found among firefighters and elite military units. Lunchroom conversations at reactors frequently turn to what operators would do in a severe emergency. The consensus is always that they would warn their families to flee before staying at their posts to the end."
Let's hope it doesn't come to that. P.S. It hasn't. Just announced: they were ordered to quit early... This is ridiculous. Why is there no backup control room facility offsite? Where the hell are the teleoperated hazmat robots, including aerial camerabots, repairbots, and more? Come on!

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