A glowing irony

As I write this, I’m told that there are eleven water cannon vehicles heading to the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to attempt to cool down nuclear material that is exposed and exuding (I dare not use the word “leaking” lest I be thought an alarmist) radiation at a rate that seems to be as alarming to the engineers and nuclear experts on the scene as it is assuaging to the arm-chair nuclear engineers in the US and elsewhere who are telling us that Fukushima is no more dangerous than eating a seedless grape.

The following conversation was heard in the Japanese Police Department’s motor vehilce shop where the water cannon vehicles are kept.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m arming these water cannon vehicles.”

“What for?”

“The police have been ordered to take these 11 vehicles out. They need to be ready immediately.”

“What are they use for?”

“This:”
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“We use the water cannon on protestors. Government bought several new water cannons during the big protests here several years ago.”

“What were the protestors protesting?”

“The New Nuclear Power Plants”

“Good thing there were a LOT of protesters!”

“Why?”

“So that they bought a lot of water cannons. They’re going to need them all to keep this nuclear power plant from Going Chernobyl!”

For more information and essays about the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Reactor problems in Japan CLICK HERE.

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Comments

  1. #1 Azkyroth
    March 16, 2011

    I think the people who are arguing Fukushima is “only as dangerous as eating a seedless grape” are basically nonexistent.

    On the other hand, a handful of us have had to reassure people that Fukushima is not in fact on the verge of a historical re-enactment of the Permian Extinction Event. >.>

  2. #2 Ellie
    March 17, 2011

    I wrote a post, and then took some deep breaths, calmed down and tried again. This is my cooler headed response to this post and the others preceding it:

    What is your main point Greg?

    I get that you are anti nuclear power; and that’s great – me too. But I’m also finding it quite hard not to read what you have written so far as meaning that you think this situation could lead to high levels of radiation poisoning to those at some substantial distance from the plant (eg Tokyo, or the West coast of the US). Further more, when others appeal for calm and rational decision making, based on facts and not press repots, you seem to be interpreting that as a defence of nuclear power and a claim that it is safe.

    I hope I’m reading it wrong, but if I’m not, would you mind pulling your head out of your backside? Thanks.

  3. #3 Giliell
    March 17, 2011

    @Ellie
    There are things in between. I also don’t think that this poses a major threat to most of the western world or even most of Japan indeed, but that doesn’t mean it’s no threat at all.
    I actually have yet to see people screaming for the evacuation of all of Japan or, on the other hand, people who call for sensible measures to be attacked.
    What I have seen so far is:
    -people telling me that this proves that the safety-meassures worked perfectly
    -that this just means you shouldn’t build nukes in Japan (and those were people who would three weeks ago have used Japan as an example of safe nukes)
    -that this really isn’t any threat at all for anybody.

    But I can see the irony of that story: Equipment that was bought to be used against the own population (something that is apparently OK if done by western governments) that was warning against the exact dangers they are facing now, is now being used in a desperate fight against the disaster.

  4. #4 Ellie
    March 17, 2011

    @Giliell

    Oh I know, I got the irony too and Japan’s lack of tolerance to protestors is one of it’s less admirable traits.

    It was really only the one line in Greg’s post (and more than one line in some of the previous ones) that made me cross, and that was the reference to “exuding”. No one… Not. One. Person*. is denying there is radiation leaking from that plant, probably in quite large amounts and in all likely hood about to get worse, but of 10000 civilians checked for contamination today, 6 were found to have been exposed and none of those at levels high enough to be a risk to their health. Six.

    I am certain the workers actively battling this will have received higher levels, but even they are obviously being rotated out before they reach really dangerous levels of exposure – we know that because the helicopters dropping water can only fly fro 40 mins at a time. We are not going to see unprotected workers shovelling flaming radioactive waste into containers for burial as we did with Chernobyl.

    I’m not trying to down play this situation, it is very VERY bad indeed. But it genuinely poses very little risk to the public, even those in the immediate vicinity.

    The news agencies the world over are spreading panic and Greg doesn’t seem to be helping matters.

    I live in Japan, and it is breaking me heart watching my adopted home being torn apart. The last thing the people suffering here need is bollocks like this being spread. You may be able to tell that I feel quite strongly about it, and I make no apology for that.

    * I’m sure in the whole of internet crankdom there will be at least one person, but not one sane person.

  5. #5 Phillip IV
    March 17, 2011

    Ellie @ #6:

    that you think this situation could lead to high levels of radiation poisoning to those at some substantial distance from the plant

    Sorry, but could you please take that goalpost and put it back to where it was a week ago: no level of radiation poisoning at any distance from a nuclear plant? Thanks!

  6. #6 Giliell
    March 17, 2011

    The news agencies the world over are spreading panic and Greg doesn’t seem to be helping matters.

    That’s not an observation I share. I’ve been watching a lot of news these days. OK, I mainly watch the more respectable public TV ARD and I agree that the private TV and news channels are a bit more hyping, but so far I must say that they’ve been very careful to report calmly and to let scientists explain matters, not pundits. And this in the middle of a country where a political debate about nuclear power is raging that by now is probably emitting radiation itself.

    but of 10000 civilians checked for contamination today, 6 were found to have been exposed and none of those at levels high enough to be a risk to their health. Six.

    That is good news and shows that the evacuation seems to be working. You’re right, this is not Chernobyl, at least in that respect.

    But it genuinely poses very little risk to the public, even those in the immediate vicinity.

    I would add “at the moment”.
    I think if we can say one thing safely about the whole situation then it is that we have too little information at the moment to make a good prognosis. I don’t know whether Tepco has more and doesn’t release it or whether they don’t know either.
    We also know that the radiation will take time to spread and also that the situation might be different if the wind hadn’t been so kind to blow into the right direction.

    I’m sure in the whole of internet crankdom there will be at least one person, but not one sane person.

    Sorry, but that’s a “no true Scotsman”.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    March 17, 2011

    This is political satire, folks. Relatively low level, nearly devoid of meaning. Yet steeped in … something. Has much less to do with nuclear power than it does with state sponsored control of public opinon.

    I’m not against nuclear power, by the way. I’m all for it. I just want the safe version, not the cheap and risky version we usually end up with, and I see it as a very poor alternative to wind and solar and conservation.

    If you want to know what I think is important about what is going on now at this nuclear disaster site, look at my raw news feeds (part 3 will be up soon) … because that really is all we have right now, raw news … ad this post: http://tinyurl.com/45z2vpn in which I decry the bullshit that so many people are throwing around.

  8. #8 NewEnglandBob
    March 17, 2011

    I took this post as gallows humor. Frustration to be sitting on the sidelines with no way to help.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    March 17, 2011

    Gallows humor may actually be a better description than political satire.