How NOT to wear a respirator!

My fellow office mates (rad techs all) agree thIS photo deserves its own post.  (Click to enlarge)

Initially I said no one would die from radiation during this event, and offered to bet my life against anything you care to name.  No one accepted.  Thank you. 

After the fuel pool explosions I chickened out.  The bet changed to my life against yours,  and volunteers for “suicide missions” didn’t count.  No one accepted.

Thank you.

I now retract the bet entirely.  You had your chance.

Because…damn.  Either these are insanely terrible rad workers with no rad tech support whatsoever, or Fukushima is press-ganging people with no idea of what to do.

Respirator goes inside hood, not over.  Tyvex is not airproof! 

And, even if Japanese Tyvex is, it’s still wrong.  Even if it’s also puncture-proof, it’s still wrong.  Unless, along with their annual physical exam and respirator training, they wear the respirators exactly like that during the annual “mask fit”. 

And I’d bet my li…liver…little finger…library….linen that they don’t!

(Just so you know, the “mask fit” is to conclusively prove you can get a good tight seal between the respirator and your skin.  Then it’s your job to ensure your seal at work.  No one else can do it for you.)

This is terrible.  Just terrible.  No, I’m sure it’s not a lethal mistake.  But if there’s airborne stuff present they’ll avoid an uptake only by luck, not skill.  Plus, people going into IDLH (“Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health”) atmospheres must wear SCBAs (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus).

Well, here anyway.

But if they’re pulling stunts like this, what else are they doing?!

Please take care of yourselves, neighbors!  I like almost everything about your people and culture!

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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20 Responses to How NOT to wear a respirator!

  1. DJMoore says:

    The caption under the photo identifies these individuals as “officials”.

    Assuming that’s correct, I kinda believe that to be sufficient explanation.

    From what little I know of Japanese culture, it’s not at all clear that sufficiently high-ranking officials would accept advice on the proper wearing of a respirator, particularly if the right way were somehow more uncomfortable or inconvenient.

    • Dave says:

      They look like ambulance personnel to me. Or maybe they are cops? Notice the flashing light apparatus on top of the vehicle?

      But, as you said… that might be all we need to know.

      It’s easy to imagine that these guys just pulled the respirators out of an equipment locker full of contingency-only stuff and slapped them on, or maybe they were handed to them by an equally uninformed person.

      It seems possible they are a long ways from the plant, and thus maybe a long ways from the nearest RCT (who are all pretty darned busy at the moment, anyway).

    • wormme says:

      I can’t help but want them to get a little uptake. It’s utterly at odds with my profession except maybe it would prevent even more uptake in the future.

      As say,

      “Perhaps the meaning of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.”

  2. Mountainbear says:

    The vehicle has the blue paint that reminds of heavier police vehicles, so I think those are cops. This could be the police water cannon that was used.

    But jeez. Every drafted soldier here learns how to properly wear his ABC mask (A for atomic, B for biological and C for chemical) in bootcamp! First mask, then rain poncho, since we don’t have BDUs like the Americans, except the specialised units at the “ABC Abwehrschule”, the nuclear, biological and chemical defense school.

    • Mountainbear says:

      Okay, not the water cannon, which looks like this:

      So I guess it’s a transport, mobile police HQ, something like that. Paintjob fits for the riot vans:

    • wormme says:

      Yep. If these guys are big-wigs who don’t want to be told how to do something, I have no sympathy.

      If these aren’t trained rad workers (and they probably aren’t) and this wasn’t an emergency, it would reflect badly on my Japanese counterparts. But probably management cut them out of this particular loop. There’s no way an RCT could let this pass.

      And the only Fukushima RCTs not currently busy are the ones passed out from exhaustion.

      • Mountainbear says:

        My guess is those are normal cops. They have the gear, they put it on once per year for some demonstration or other display, maybe the annual police parade of their district, and that’s about it.

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  4. scott says:

    The primary purpose of this comment is to say ‘thank you’ to Mr. Wormme and the rest of those who have been adding good info to this site.

    Being one who lives on the up/down side of the light switch, I appreciate the information.

    Is it possible that this picture was taken of nervous people who went through ABC training without ever expecting to use it and have not yet gotten to the safety check point where some Sargent type will ‘remind’ them as to the proper way to wear the mask?

    When I was a young sailor, I had the dubious distinction of being the one at our repair locker, who got to wear the suit and go look for radiation should the ship go through a radiation cloud. I had a general idea of how to put the stuff on, but you can bet that this 18 year old kid didn’t expect to ever have to actually perform the task.

  5. oldHP says:

    re- Posting this to the current blog post area…

    I’m trying to recollect the one-line-diagram path to the offgas system during an emergency shutdown…

    Is there some other pathway? Maybe they could have opened the fill valve to the Standby Liquid Control system tank and jiggered things to provide a path for escape from the pressure vessel?

  6. oldHP says:

    Comment on why Japanese culture is causing delays & lack of information dissemination:

    Our Richard Smith, who has among his many talents knowing a bit about reactors (he wrote code for some systems for them) has been gobsmacked by the lack of remotely adequate information coming from the Fukushima site. Having worked with the Japanese (I was the first gaijin hired into the Japanese hierarchy at Sumitomo Bank when it was a leading player), let me hazard some informed guesses:

    1. Japan is military protectorate of the US, so we are used to throwing our weight around when conditions warrant. But why is this unseemly display warranted?

    2. Japan is not a high disclosure society. Being explicit is considered rude (it’s seen as self absorbed, talking for the sake of hearing your own voice). So not telling the public very much, sadly, is pretty normal.

    3. Japanese are also not very good in organizing on the fly group responses. When working with foreigners or independently, Japanese are just as adaptable as any other people. But their group/power dynamics impede taking prompt corrective measures when circumstances move outside anticipated scenarios.

    So far, this may seem like tired cultural cliches. But now consider the role of TEPCO. Even allowing for the sluggishness of Japanese decision making in crisis settings, TEPCO looks to be over its head. And the Japanese government is stuck. It doesn’t have a ready source of independent expertise; the plants are TEPCO’s, after all. The authorities really need staff who know the facilities to handle most of the disaster containment measures.

    So why the ugly American noisemaking? It called gaijin pressure, and it has a proud tradition in Japan. Gaijin pressure has often served as the excuse for Japan to push through politically contentious measures that were clearly necessary but opposed by a well placed minority.

    So in this case, the unusually public US expression of doubts were likely necessary to allow the US to monitor the plant and prod TEPCO to consider other plans of action. It would have been problematic in Japan for the government to do so; it might have been seen as undermining TEPCO (and now the self defense forces working with TEPCO). But foreigners, particularly Americans, can act like bulls in the china shop and get away with it.

    • wormme says:

      Synchronicity! I saw this post right after a light bulb went off over my head. A Lesson Learned.

    • jaed says:

      For some reason I’m visualizing all Japanese industrial facilities being mandated to include a foreign expert encased in a glass box, with hammer and sign reading, “In case of emergency situation beyond design parameters, break glass.”

      • wormme says:

        Oh, I don’t want to badmouth those two guys. The simplest explaination is that their skills were badly needed and they got rushed in without proper training.

        If they weren’t trained, that’s an admin roll of the dice. And if they were trained…no. Not by any RCT counterpart. Those respirators were just tossed at them, or their “trainer” had worn one either.

  7. Dustoff says:

    I had to laugh.
    As a retired firefighter the first thing I noticed was the mask. Even if they are cops??
    They should know how to put it on. (I hope)

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