Nuclear triage.

“Sam E” just reported here,

CNN just reported, disbelievingly, that the 50 last on site workers have been removed. CNN and I both hope that the report is a mistranslation.

I went to CNN and found this, time stamped at 10:46 EDT. Among the uniformly bad news it says:

The number of nuclear workers who remained on site has been slashed from 800 to 50.

But that story could have been composed hours ago. If they’ve also pulled those 50–for now we can assume it’s the makeup water operators–well…I just don’t know. Have they established remote controls for that effort and the reactors?

The worst case is triage. Here’s what I mean. Is the only way to mitigate the onsite situation to dole out life-threatening or outright lethal doses? Say it’s yes.  They can no longer cycle workers in and out and do effective work while keeping dose at 50 rem, or even 100. 

They can easily pull back far enough to lower exposure to non-threatening levels.  Just pulling back to the site fence gets you down to 50 mrem/hour, if I read that earlier summary correctly.  And if it’s not gotten much worse, of course.  But then you just back up further.  Upwind, of course.

But if you relinquish control then you have to assume everything in play goes bone-dry.  All reactor and spent fuels turn to smoldering slag.  And exposure to the populace goes far beyond any previous estimate. 

That will come mostly from the spent fuel inventory, not the reactors.  I’d expect the containment buildings to retain most of the inventory even if it fully melts down. 

But retreating from radiation isn’t the same as retreating from ever-expanding contamination.  The first is easy.  The second is essentially impossible.  The ferocious decay heat will continually discharge particles into the atmosphere.  Fission products are much denser than most day-to-day materials, but they’ll spread.  And winds aren’t constant.  The line will creep. 

So where do you draw the line?  How much increased uptake is acceptable?  How much of Nippon do you abandon?

Nuclear triage.  Do you accept a relatively small number of certain deaths to avoid a  presumably much larger number of statistical deaths?

I wouldn’t.  If that is the situation and it was my call, I’d do what they’re doing.  Pull back.  Explore brute engineering options, automations, even if it takes months to implement them.

No human sacrifice that isn’t voluntary and isn’t saving definite lives. 

Statistics be damned.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Nuclear triage.

  1. Sparkey says:

    Chernobyl heroics in the offing? Dear Lord above I hope not…

  2. effinayright says:

    Don’t freakin believe it until NHK and the government reports it! Japanese do ….not….retreat!!!

  3. Sparkey says:

    Take a look at the first pic in this slide show on the msnbs site, the plant looks like it was hit by an air strike. Ugh…

  4. Pingback: Nuclear Triage? - Transterrestrial Musings

  5. Wowbagger says:

    Reminds me of an old Star Trek episode, where Troi takes her bridge officer test.

    But I admit I don’t know squat about nuclear radiation, except what I read online.

    • wormme says:

      The sound’s out on my computer and the T.V.’s turned off. So I have no idea what Troi’s problem was.

      But I did notice you navigated within a video. Teach me, sensei! What feeble radiation knowledge I have, is yours for the knowledge of YouTube mastery!!

  6. Mountainbear says:

    Current status from two and a half hours ago:

    Click to access ENGNEWS01_1300252224P.pdf

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20110316a2.html
    Japan Times starts to weigh in speaking of “radiation spikes” in Tokyo, which are, yeah… I took more than that last year at my dentist’s. The really surprising thing there is the governor of Tokyo, who, for a politician of his reputation (which isn’t very good), is not jumping to conclusions.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20110316a4.html
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20110316a7.html
    Staff writers trying to explain what’s going on.

    The headline that bugs me most is this one: “3,373 people confirmed dead, 6,746 missing”. That and heavy snowfall has started, which makes the situation for anyone still trapped outside even worse. On the good side, it’s cold and that should prevent bodies from stinking too much. Drowning victims can throw around some odour after a few days… ugh…

    • wormme says:

      Mountainbear, I’m incapable of analysis at the mo. About to hit the sack. But wanted to say, wordpress flagged you as needing approval. That’s weird for already approved posters. Your comments are great, I’ll keep an eye out for you being delayed.

      • Mountainbear says:

        Sleep, rest, then reboot brain.

        Maybe wordpress didn’t like that I called a German green party “politician” who was making fun of this situation a “useless piece of German shit” on his blog. Yeah, not very polite or civilized, but… this is personal.

    • wormme says:

      Yeah, it’s hard not to see red with these guys.

      I’ve proposed an “International Ass-Kickin’ Day”, in which everyone on Earth has to be kicked in the ass. Those of us with pain thresholds will take our whuppin’ and shrug it off.

      And as for “green” German politicians and veryone else…boy, would that make up for it!

  7. Sam E says:

    As hoped the story about the workers abandoning the site was a mistranslation. It didn’t add up with the Japanese Military Personal that I knew in Japan. It didn’t fit the civilians that I knew either.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16workers.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

  8. Sparkey says:

    I’m posting from my Crackberry, so forgive me if the links don’t work.

    The latest reactor status from the Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF is here. The JIAF rates the fuel rod pool situations at Units 3 & 4 as ‘severe’. It indicates the containment for those two reactors as ‘damaged suspected’.

    Lastly, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has a fact sheet on fuel rod pools here. My understanding the real issue is that some of the fuel in the Unit 4 pool isn’t spent.

  9. Sparkey says:

    Correction, the JAIF has the Units 2 & 3 containments listed as ‘damage suspected’.

  10. Pingback: Close to the point of no return? | World's Only Rational Man

Leave a Reply to Mountainbear Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s