There's an amusing little video making the rounds, and receiving a largely positive response. Which is unfortunate, because it's little more than government-industry propaganda that glosses over the colossal abrogation of responsibility that led to the Fukushima crisis.
At first glance, the cartoon does an exemplary job explaining the situation to Japanese schoolchildren too young to understand half-lives and the role of water as a coolant and moderator in boiling-water reactors. But there's a gaping omission right at the beginning. Nuclear Boy has a stomach ache. No kidding. Why? This is never answered. Could it be because the government of Japan let the Toyko Electric Power Company build a series of nuclear reactors next to a seismically active fault line?
Sticking with the bowel-malfunction metaphor, perhaps the video's creators could have produced a few frames testifying to the reality that Nuclear Boy's parents fed him some poison because they forgot to read the label carefully. Something along those lines.
Is that too much for Japanese kids to swallow (so to speak?) I don't think so. Responsibility is something we all try to teach our children as early as possible. It's important that Japanese leaders acknowledge the real reasons why they (and their children) are going to have to spend tens of billions of dollars to replace the Fukushima reactors years earlier than expected. Reactors that require an independent source of electricity to maintain coolant levels are, of course, a bad idea, and one that today's generation of reactor designers have abandoned. But building them in an earthquake zone is tantamount to lunacy.
That reduces the list of adequately safe sites for Japanese reactors, making the replacement task that much more challenging. But too bad.
Same applies to the reactors built in the U.S., of course.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everyone_Poops is the obvious first thought at watching this video, but this metaphor sucks. Nuclear boy wouldn't poop if he was dead, or if he never poops he will certainly die. What the heck?
Electrical control wiring and electric control equipment is especially sensitive to moisture. Minor failure in electric control system can disable power circuits. The problems in control wiring are very difficult and time consuming to find. No doubt there are serious problems with electric system because it took 8 days to bring in power; they say from 1.5 km away, and restore equipment to working condition and it is not all done yet. Once more, there is evidence that electric back up system is not reliable source of power for emergency reactor cooling.
James, your criticisms are almost spot-on.
The risk-shifting start with 'limited liability' corporations that frees shareholders from responsibility, escalates with 'public companies' (regulations isolate managers from shareholders and create barroirs to entry), and is ramped up even more for utlities, which are effectively granted monopolies and guaranteed returns on investment by government. Operators of nuclear plants are then given express liability caps for damages that radiation releases may cause others.
None of the utility managers/executives will have PERSONAL liability, of course.
Given all of these government policies that truncate responsibility, can there be any surprise that risk analysis and decision-making produces obviously flawed results -- and ongoing efforts to cover up and hide blame?
Here are some recent tweets on this:
Nagao versus TEPCO:Case of now dead nuclear worker reveals how Japan protects corps that exist to fulfill state policy http://bit.ly/hModQE
Japan megabanks to extend TEPCO $25 billion lifeline,as Govt is sure to limit TEPCO's liability for damages http://bit.ly/e9tBnw #eqjp #p2
These days,it's 'capitalists' who r the biggest socialists:'Japanese Gov prepares to protect TEPCO frm liability' http://bit.ly/hpx8Eb #jpeq
Moody's on the obvious:"business risk of operating nuclear pwr plants in Japan is higher thn previously contemplatedâ http://bloom.bg/e8TIlm
Cato's Jerry Taylor: Nuclear power is "solar power for conservatives"+needs "a policy of tough love" TT's Lost in Tokyo http://bit.ly/h07XHj