Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On!

 

I live to the West of Washington DC, near the mountains. So we got a pretty good jolt a few hours ago, as a 5.9 earthquake struck…

At first I thought it was caused by thousands of conservatives heads literally hitting the wall after figuring out Obama’s Libya strategy was a resounding success.

 

Third Reactor at Fukuchima Dai-ichi Goes Into Meltdown

There has been another explosion at the stricken Japanese Nuclear Power Plant in the last hour or two. This is the third explosion in the reactor complex since the earthquake. The complex is made up of 8 reactors. By some reports, this one is by far the most serious explosion – with the fuel rods exposed, releasing highly radioactive material.

This video is from the second explosion -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dytttMoivoQ&feature=player_embedded#at=155

New Explosion Rocks Japanese Nuclear Plant

An explosion that released radioactive material occurred in reactor No. 2 at the nuclear center at Fukushima, in northeastern Japan, on Monday.

The blast damaged part of the primary container surrounding the reactor’s core and caused an escape of an undetermined quantity of radioactive material, the Nuclear Security Agency said.

The Kyodo news agency reported that radiation levels in the vicinity “exceeded the legal limit” after the explosion, which occurred at 6:10 a.m. on Tuesday local time (2110 GMT on Monday), shortly after the Japanese government admitted that the reactor continued to be unstable after it suffered damage in Friday’s magnitude-9.0 earthquake.

The operating crew at the plant worked all night to inject seawater into the secondary containment structure in an attempt to cool down the core and prevent a meltdown that could emit radioactive material, but that did not have the desired effect and the reactor was not able to be stabilized.

If the nuclear fuel in the core begins to melt down, that would constitute an emergency situation of the highest order because of the potential for a severe radioactive leak that could contaminate the area.

Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima on Monday suffered a failure of one of the 10 valves associated with its cooling system, something similar to what occurred before reactors 1 and 3 at the same center exploded after the quake.

 

Japanese Reactor Goes Into Meltdown in Japan After Quake

This one is going to meltdown. The big question is whether they can cool the core off fast enough to prevent any (additional) major release of radiation… Hopefully, they can prevent another Chernobyl. Apparently, they have already lost some workers, either badly injured or killed courageously trying to get this back under control.

This is despite the best building codes and system in the world to prevent just the sort of damage we are seeing from an earthquake or natural disaster. Because earthquakes are so common in Japan, major structures and buildings are designed to extremely high standards – higher than the US California Standards, which are the best in the US and generally accepted in much of the world. The fact that (possibly) only a few thousand people have been killed in an earthquake an order of magnitude stronger than that which hit Haiti is due to that. Most of the victims are likely from the Tsunami, despite the fact that a number of the towns and villages in the area have 10-30′ seawalls designed to protect them from just such an occurance.

To understand how violent this earthquake was, geographic sources are now reporting that the coastline of Japan was actually moved 8 feet! And shifted the entire planet on it’s axis by 4 inhces!

25 Years ago, a reactor outside of Detroit, Michigan had an “incident”…

 

Huge Earthquake, Tsunami Strike Japan

Our prayers go out to the Japanese people.  The scenes of devastation are incredible… The 10 Meter waves sweeping inland they are talking about are as high as 3 story building…

 

 

Haiti – “A Real Motha For Ya!”

Don’t know if Mr Nicholas D. Kristof over at the NY Times will ever read this – but here goes…

Haiti, Nearly a Year Later

Ultimately what Haiti most needs isn’t so much aid, but trade. Aid accounts for half of Haiti’s economy, and remittances for another quarter — and that’s a path to nowhere.

The United States has approved trade preferences that have already created 6,000 jobs in the garment sector in Haiti, and several big South Korean companies are now planning to open their own factories, creating perhaps another 130,000 jobs.

“Sweatshops,” Americans may be thinking. “Jobs,” Haitians are thinking, and nothing would be more transformative for the country.

Let’s send in doctors to save people from cholera. Let’s send in aid workers to build sustainable sanitation and water systems to help people help themselves. Let’s help educate Haitian children and improve the port so that it can become an exporter. But, above all, let’s send in business investors to create jobs.

Mr. Kristof  – I have been working on various projects in, and for Haiti now for 10 months. I have been there a number of times to meet and work with Haitian officials. By and large I have had the same experience with the Haitian people as one of your commenters, CK (#46), who said:

These are an entrepreneurial, industrious people. However, I can tell you that individuals can’t clear the rubble in any reasonable time frame. I spent 4 hours with 200 people trying to clear out the rubble in one large, collapsed building. We were in lines of 4 passing down the bricks and stones. We didn’t finish. An excavator and dump truck could have done the job in 30 minutes. No one was being paid for that work, and given the workload of day-to-day survival, I think that most people can understand that clearing by hand for nothing that brings clean water and food to families isn’t particularly viable. Though plenty of people are trying…

To be honest – seeing the Haitian people’s perspicacity on my first trip there reduced me to tears.

Your idea to “send in investors” is a good idea…

Except for one little thing.

To create any sort of modern business in Haiti (or anywhere else in the world today) you need functional infrastructure. I mean in terms of the United States and other first world countries it isn’t asking for much to have reliable electricity, clean water, high speed communications, passable roads, specialized facilities, and a large cadre of educated people.

Haiti has none of those in adequate supply. Which means few investors.

You are right that simply sending in doctors, food, and aid isn’t going to ultimately result in creating a better country…

But it keeps people alive until those of us working on building the infrastructure can get the core stuff done from which some sort of economy can be leveraged. And no, Mr. Kristof – you don’t build a septic plant handling 2.5 million people in two months… Or even 12 months. Or power plants, or an electric grid, or an internet backbone, or marine ports, or airports. Some of these projects are on the scale of years.

You don’t train 5 million illiterate people to be Rocket Scientists in 6 months.

Ain’t that a “Real Motha For Ya!

It’s going to take 5-10 years… Maybe more.

Haiti on the Edge

Been to Haiti several times now, working on various projects. Never seen anything like this, short of walking through a war zone. The Haitian people are an amazingly resilient group. Unfortunately, after 300 years of failure, much of it induced by larger, more powerful countries – there just aren’t any easy fixes.

The Cholera issue has been a disaster waiting to happen – sans any human malefactor, the tent cities are unsustainable. The earthquake which destroyed so many buildings didn’t do the creaky, antiquated, already overwhelmed infrastructure any favors. If you know what to look for driving down the street (not recommended for the faint of heart!) you will notice huge chunks of the core infrastructure are just…

Gone.

Whether storm drains, septic line, water mains, telecom facilities, or electric lines there are just huge missing chunks – some of which have been patched over with makeshift fixes which would make McGuyver proud by ever-inventive Haitians. The good news is that work crews are steadily removing the rubble. The bad news is that there isn’t anywhere to put it, and the roads system, designed for light commuter traffic now have potholes the size of Grand Canyon everywhere you go from the heavy trucks. Getting from place A to B is an adventure in spinal readjustment.

The even worse news is that sans the myriad of other problems – to fix these core infrastructure components takes years. Building a new septic plant, water treatment facility, underground distributions system, power plant(s), etc. aren’t things that, even if all the other problems went away and you could start tomorrow…

Could be done in a few months. Projects on that scale tend to take YEARS.

Did the Earth Move For You?

Geez – BTx3 was jolted awake by an earthquake this morning  at 5 AM. This stuff may be old hat to you Californians – but in this part of the country it’s fairly rare. Only lasted a few seconds, but it sounded like a 747 was landing on top of the house. with things vibrating and shaking. Reports this morning say that it was 3.6 magnitude, centered just northeast of where I live across the border in Maryland. No damage, except to a few nerves…

Shaken not stirred… Indeed!

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