22 March 2011

Partially romanized map of Japan

This map courtesy of Kenn Sakurai at Facebook. Fukushima, the prefecture with the troubled reactors has been circled in red. The Kanto megalopolis is south of there. Major quake and tsunami damage starts in Chiba, on the coast and goes northward, taking in coastal, estuarine and even diluvial (up river) Ibaraki, Tochigi, Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Aomori, as well as coastal SE Hokkaido. Japan HEO is in Fukui, south of Niigata, on the Japan Sea side of Honshu (the other side of Honshu). Radioactivity is polluting the agriculture and waters of Fukushima and surrounding prefectures. It is also drifting south into the Kanto area.

Japan HEO statement about the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disasters in Japan #2

Regardless of all the western media coverage, it is important to remember that the Tokyo/Kanto area was largely spared from earthquake or tsunami damage. The troubled nuclear reactors are in Fukushima Prefecture, well outside the Kanto area. However, it is these damaged nuclear reactors that are threatening to bring an entire country to the edge of collapse.

It seems to me, a non-expert, that they have at least two reactors (out of six reporting major problems after the quake and tsunami) in meltdown (uncontrolled fission) and undergoing 'dirty' fission processes. This means that dumping seawater on them isn't going to cool them (water could actually increase reaction of U-235 because it slows emitted neutrons and helps U-235 to capture them, causing more fission).

It seem that they are simply hoping that the containment underneath holds while they spray sea water on the cores and work to restore power to buildings and pump systems that are largely destroyed and inoperable.

That is to say, they have no other plan that they want to discuss publicly.

If radioactive contamination continues to worsen, at best, they have about a week from today to come out with something that looks like a plan to solve the issues, or they are going to have major panic in the Kanto area, with 35 million people.

Things in Japan are not going well at all.

Charles Jannuzi
Fukui, Japan

Japan HEO statement about the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disasters in Japan

This was written one day after the quake (12 March 2011) and sent out to the Dogme ELT group at Yahoo Groups. I am sharing it with Japan HEO readers here. It looks like premonitions about the nuclear reactors are proving unfortunately correct, if understated:

It started with a very long, strong seaquake. It was strong enough in parts of
coastal Japan to cause quake damage. Minutes later the NE coast of Honshu was
hit with huge tsunami waves, which caused flooding. In many places.

Right now I'm watching horrifying images and reading horrifying reports of what
is going on at Fukushima nuclear power plant. They might have serious incidents
at THREE reactors, but one is approaching 'melt down' (a non-technical term for
loss of containment below ground level--they may have already lost containment
above ground). Back up coolant systems failed because diesel generators were
flooded with sea water (design flaw or human execution flaws).

In a way Japan got lucky yesterday because had this quake hit closer to Tokyo,
we would be looking at the collapse of the entire country in terms of it
functioning as a modern, developed political economy.

I wish they had thought more about nuclear reactor design along coasts that have
seaquakes and tsunami, though. That includes where I live, Fukui, which has had
severe quakes and tsunami and has a lot of nuclear power located here, on the

This is the largest disaster in post-war Japan since the Fukui quake in 1948
(where I live!) and the Kobe-Awaji-Hanshin quake (in 1995). Fukui's quake was so
deadly because post-war construction in 1948 was so shoddy. In 1995 the Kobe
quake was powerful and concentrated in very developed urban areas (but with lots
of old-style wooden houses that burned).

The extent of this disaster could well exceed anything in recent memory in
Japan, but much of that is because it is a country that is over-developed,
over-engineered, and highly dependent on the functioning of a national
government located in Tokyo (and Tokyo has been paralyzed because of loss of
electric power, leading to loss of transport and some communications). I doubt
that it will come anywhere near approaching the human tolls we saw in recent
quakes in S. Asia (such as the tsunami disaster there) or the quake in S. China
(hundreds of thousands dead in that quake!) or the floods in Myanmar.
With one proviso: that is, if they can deal with the nuclear disasters that are
unfolding. These could be catastrophic for the entire Pacific region.

So Japan got lucky yesterday, believe it or not. Just hope the luck holds with
the nuclear disasters (and it's looking very scary right now).

Charles Jannuzi
University of Fukui
Fukui, Japan

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