Home > Earthquake > Last 50 workers evacuated from nuke plant

Last 50 workers evacuated from nuke plant

UPDATE: The Tokoyo Electric Power Co. says workers have returned to the plant.


Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant where multiple explosions have kept 50 workers fighting day and night to cool fuel rods and prevent a total meltdown has been evacuated, according to breaking news reports.

The plant was heavily damaged in the March 11th 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

The unstable situation at that and other nuke plants has caused a run on potassium iodide along the California coast in the western United States, which can guard against the effects of radiation.  This news will probably accelerate the demand.

  1. 06em
    March 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Really sensational diary. There is mixed info getting out. Either 50 workers are evacuated, or they were temporarily removed due to a radiation spike, or some of the 50 left and only the ones fighting fire were removed or they were just rotated out in favor of a ‘fresh’ group. It is irresponsible, IMO, to post this sort of ‘torn from the headlines’ type diary without checking multiple sources. Sorry, H, my take.

  2. March 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    There has been conflicting information for days. Multiple sources say the workers have been evacuated.

  3. March 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    From the Christian Science Monitor:

    Fukushima fire: The fire that began on Tuesday has led to extreme radiation leaks that have forced officials to withdraw all crews from the nuclear plant. The Fukushima fire can not be confirmed to still be burning in the now-unmanned plant.

  4. 06em
    March 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    And multiple sources say other things. I think most of the multiple sources reporting evacuation (not temporary) are US media sources.

  5. March 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    BBC: Staff have now been evacuated from Fukushima because of a spike in radiation levels, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

  6. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    It’s not looking good. The only question at this point is just how bad it’s going to get.

  7. 06em
    March 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    This is from a comment from someone in Japan at this diary on dailykos:

    The 50 workers are being rotated out and replaced with another 50 in order to minimize radiation exposure. The plant has NOT been abandoned. Workers earlier were forced to retreat from reactor 4 when radiation levels spiked, but again, a crew is still there.
    I’m in Japan and reporting from local news sources.
    The reporting from US news sources in this crisis has been nothing short of deplorable. Everything they write is OH NOES and DOOM… the situation is dire but is not imminently catastrophic. Try BBC World for accurate and less sensationalized coverage.

    It’s worth reading the whole diary.

  8. March 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    BBC quotes Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano as saying the workers have indeed been evacuated.

  9. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Al Jazeera reporting that all staff have been “temporarily evacuated.” Mr. Edano is shown at a press conference making that statement. But no word on how long the temporary abandonment might last.

    At this point I don’t think anyone (including the plant operatiors or the Japanese government) knows, whether the evacuation will be turn out to be “temporary” or not. But they are keeping their options open, and presumably if the radiation levels were to drop far enough, workers would be sent back in. The danger, of course, is that in their absence things will only get worse.

    It’s getting harder to see how they are going to keep any kind of control over the situation in the reactors without any staff left on-site to intervene as problems continue to arise.

    But they may be running out of options at this point and they probably didn’t have any choice but to withdraw those workers. A bunch of workers who are dead or suffering from acute radiation sickness wouldn’t be able to do anything anyway.

  10. March 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Workers struggling around the clock to contain this growing problem are also likely to burn out if the radiation sickness doesn’t get them first.

  11. Anonymous
    March 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Good luck getting potassium iodine pills. The time to buy was Saturday. Web stores are sold out and ones that aren’t produce complaints from people buying, then being told the pills are on back order.

    Oh, and demand isn’t up just on the coast. The plumes will reach across the western US. The people claiming that the radiation levels will be harmless by the time they reach North America are making huge assumptions, erroneous assumptions about plume concentration, travel time and atmospheric conditions. The bottom line is, do you trust your government? Act accordingly.

  12. March 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Rueters live blog post said:
    The Japan nuclear safety agency says TEPCO is attempting to build a road to Fukushima Daiichi No.4 reactor to allow fire trucks into site

  13. Plain Jane
    March 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    The heroism of these nuclear plant workers is incredible. Will Japan abandoned them when they contract life threatening illnesses from their efforts today like the US did the 9/11 first responders?

  14. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I don’t trust our industry-dominated Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but there are many other experts saying that we are unlikely to receive any significant fallout here in North America. Meanwhile, I trust the likes of Alex Jones even less.

    I’d say “better safe than sorry” is an appropriate response, but panic and hysteria is neither appropriate nor helpful — except to those profiting (and profiteering) on the basis of that panic.

  15. March 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I agree tra, those that might need to move fast are the people in Japan. They have to closely watch the wind currents and take the potassium iodide if they can’t get out of harms way fast enough.

    We on the US coast have more time to asses the situation.

  16. Ponder z
    March 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    WalMart in Crescent city has KI pills. Lots of customers have thyroid issues up there. So they have lots on hand.

  17. Mitch
    March 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    The new worst-case scenario involves something called re-criticality, which means a restart of the nuclear chain reaction in the melting material.

    Australian Broadcasting Company: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/16/3164949.htm?site=sydney

  18. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I’m going to reiterate what I said yesterday:

    I wish they could explain the likely radiation levels we’re at risk of (maybe) receiving over here in terms that Americans might be able to relate to, like “Tanning Bed Hour Equivalents.” I expect that might calm things down a bit.

  19. March 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Yeah tra, tv’s versed tanning beds verses an international flight in a jet at high altitude.

  20. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm


    Great. So now we’re not just talking about the “worst-case scenario” of a total meltdown, but a “worser-case scenario” of an out-of-control chain reaction. Makes you wonder what the “worstest-case scenario” will be. I’m afraid we may find out before this is over.

    But let’s not forget that just yesterday a leading spokesman for the U.S nuclear industry assured us that it’s a “clean, safe, emission-free” source of power. So I guess there’s nothing to worry about, right?

  21. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t mean to dismiss people’s concerns. If it ends up being worse than Chernobyl (!!!) then all bets are off, and perhaps the idodine hoarders and fallout shelter-hiders will have the last laugh.

  22. March 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    There are 6 reactors at the site. 4 are compromised and the crews are gone. What’s keeping the other two cool?

  23. Wonder Bred
    March 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Hey, are they done decommissioning and decontaminating the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant? Last I remembered they had yet to remove the spent rods but were about to do so. Anyone know?

  24. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Workers have returned to the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant after an evacuation order was lifted, Tokyo Electric Power Company said.


    So there’s still a fighting chance to avert those worst-case scenarios, thanks to these heroic workers.

  25. Humboldt Politico
    March 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Reactor 3 is fueled with a mixture of uranium and plutonium extracted from nuclear weapons. This is the one to watch closely as the potential for a disaster far exceeds the other two reactors.

  26. March 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks, tra.

  27. March 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I think Japan just got smaller. Habitable Japan that is.

  28. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm


    At the time of the quake and tsunami, reactors #1, #2, and #3 were in operation, while reactors #4, #5 and #6 were shutdown for maintenance. All three of the operating reactors were automatically shut down, but even when shut down, they still require a whole lot of cooling water to prevent a meltdown, and the cooling systems failed in all three. Then all three experienced what were apparently hydrogen explosions, and they’re now saying that both units #1 and #3 are suspected to have damage to their containment vessels(a crack, a hole, they’re not sure).

    Meanwhile, the spent fuel pool in reactor #4 lost cooling water, rods were exposed, a fire / explosion ensued, and a large cloud of radioactive material was emitted, leading to yesterday’s sudden “stay inside” orders. Then something similar happened today – more fire and more readioactive release, which is what led to the workers being evacuated (apparently they’re back now).

    Meanwhile, the spent-fuel pools in reactors #5 & #6 are also heating up, and they are apparently pumping more water into those as well, to replace water that’s steaming/boiling off, because otherwise those two could suffer the same fate as #4. And unlike the reactor cores themselves, these spent-fuel pools have no containments systems, so any explosions/fires in those spent-fuel pools could spread a whole lot of radiation around.

    All in all, that seems like a whole lot of very serious problems for a crew of 50 workers to try to keep on top of. Really it’s quite remarkable that they’ve been able to keep on top of it as well as they have…at least so far.

  29. March 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    There is good coverage on Common Dreams with a live twitter feed and live BBC video going at the same time.

  30. Richard
    March 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    My understanding is the greatest risk of exposure to radioactive iodine comes from drinking milk from cows grazing where the radioactive iodine has fallen from the sky.

    An important deterrent to reduce or eliminate internal contamination from I-131 is to find an alternate source of food outside the contamination zone. I-131 falls on vegetation and pastures where cows feed contaminating their milk. Other contaminates are from the air, eating eggs and leafy vegetables.

    No way to avoid all of the many other radioactive particles that are being released.

    Here’s a site that shows domestic levels:

    FYI, our local spent rods are in dry cast storage. Not as dangerous as the still cooling rods now melting in Japan, but still not safe in a catastrophic disaster.

    There must be a better way to boil water.

  31. walt
    March 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    “Are they done decommissioning and decontaminating the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Plant? Last I remembered they had yet to remove the spent rods but were about to do so. Anyone know?” As far as I know they are still there, being cooled by seawater until OUR mega quake takes out the generators. Where else can they go and how can they be gotten there safely? Hope PG&E is paying attention.

  32. tra
    March 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    The one glimmer of hope at this point is that as each day passes without a full-scale meltdown in the active reactors, the fuel in those reactors should continue to gradually cool down, and then continuing the cooling process becomes easier.

    We’re definitely not out of the woods yet — far from it — but the worst-case scenarios are not yet inevitable. There is still some hope that they will be able to keep this already very serious situation from sprialing completely out of control and becoming a full-scale Chernobyl-style catastrophe. At this point, if it ends up being “only” a Three-Mile-Island type “mostly-contained-partial-meltdown,” that will be defined as success, and understandably so.

    On that kinda-sorta hopeful (yet still rather depressing) note, I’m headed off to bed.

  33. March 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Walt, the rods are contained high on the PG&E property above historical tsunami zones, according to Jimmy Smith at today’s Supervisors meeting.

  34. E. Percival Ne'er-do-well Esquire III
    March 16, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Last I heard the spent fuel rods at the Humboldt power plant are being stored in dry CASKS, in a storage facility on Buhner Point. They are no longer stored in a pool under water. Doesn’t anybody remember the big stink when they inventoried them and came up short? It’s definitely safer but still in the liquefaction zone for a megaquake. So are the above ground bulk storage tanks that the gas barge offloads to. That’s a major risk during a quake/tsunami scenario for Humboldt Bay. You could have the whole bay on fire right after a catastrophic earthquake.

  35. Rick Khamsi
    March 16, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Maybe other people can benefit from my experience: I checked my multi-vitamin tablets. What do you suppose I found there? 100% of my daily recommended dose of Potassium Iodide (150 mcg).

  36. March 16, 2011 at 12:19 am

    tra, the man in charge of Three Mile Island at the time of that incident said Monday that the problems in the three (now 4) reactors are EACH worse than Three Mile Island. Japan is having multiple Three Mile Islands and then some.

  37. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 12:32 am

    And the danger is that they could end up with multiple Chernobyls (maybe even worse?) but thankfully we’re not quite there yet and there seems to still be at least some chance that the worst case scenarios will be avoided.

  38. skippy
    March 16, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Good reporting (and thinking) Tra, Mr. Sebourn, and others. Thank you.

    The following is not the condition of the Fukushima reactors– but of Japan itself during the early hours of our morning: from Mark McDonald and Kevin Drew of the New York Times “Emperor, In Rare Address, Expresses Deep Concern Over Crisis:

    “… (Emperor) Akihito said that he was “deeply worried” about the ongoing nuclear crisis at several stricken reactors. The address was the first taped video message by a Japanese emperor… A huge rescue and relief operation continued as hundreds of thousands of people prepared to spend a sixth night in temporary shelters amid freezing temperatures.

    Before the emperor’s address, the crisis took another turn for the worse. Authorities said a containment vessel in a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan might have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam. That would be the second vessel to be compromised in two days…

    The death toll climbed inexorably. More than 3,600 people were confirmed dead and more than 7,800 remained unaccounted for by Wednesday afternoon. Authorities say the number of dead is likely to exceed 10,000. Aftershocks kept people across northern Japan on edge Wednesday. The United States Geological Survey recorded 54 earthquakes by midafternoon, four of them with magnitudes higher than 6.0. A strong morning shock caused buildings to sway in central Tokyo for about 30 seconds.

    An estimated 440,000 people are living in makeshift shelters or evacuation centers, officials said. Bitterly cold and windy weather compounded the misery as survivors endured shortages of food, fuel and water. Weather forecasters predicted a cold front moving into the region would send the overnight temperatures in northeast Japan below freezing, and the government said the cold posed a health risk for evacuees.

    Rescue teams from 13 nations continued to search for survivors, and more nations were preparing to send teams. Helicopters shuttled back and forth, part of a mobilization of some 100,000 troops, the largest in Japan since World War II, to assist in the rescue and relief work. A no-flight zone was imposed around the stricken nuclear plants.

    Some foreign embassies have suggested that their citizens head south, away from Fukushima Prefecture — which is near the epicenter and home to the worst of the crippled reactors — or leave the country, directives that have led to a rush of departures this week at Narita Airport, Tokyo’s main international gateway…”

    What’s very ugly just got a lot uglier. Japan is getting hammered on mulitple fronts. They need help. Now.

  39. Lassic
    March 16, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Just wondering if everything happens to go wrong in
    Japan, what would be the difference between that and
    when we bombed Hiroshima?

    March 16, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Only one reactor uses plutonium pellet mix. Cesium is what I keep reading.

    Either way, I am thinking AGAIN about how President Jimmy Carter got rail-roaded with regard to alternative energy sources. Further, if wind and solar energy won’t produce enough energy for consumer/industrial needs, then maybe consumers need to “cut-back” on their consumptions which will “cut-back” productions?

    Too many people overcrowding the globe and battling for limited resources. Apparantly, earthly destructions must be acceptable to society because more and more people are allowing such earthly destructions aside for whom they cast their vote to represent destruction.


    March 16, 2011 at 5:38 am

    So, did Japan rise or fall into the sea? Quake shifted the island 13 feet, but did coastline go up or down? Atlantis?


  42. 06em
    March 16, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Morning update. This is from the Al Jazeera live blog and was reported here. We have to remember the language barrier can create miscommunication really easily:

    Joi Ito blogs about how the change of location of workers at Fukushima plant was misreported as ‘evacuation’ -as it simply got lost in translation – here is Joi’s blog post

    “This morning at 8:30AM March 16 JST Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano held a press conference to talk about the smoke billowing from Reactor 3 at Fukushima.

    “At this press conference, he explained that the radiation levels spiked and that TEPCO staff would be temporarily moved to “a safe region”. He probably should have said “location” as Hiroko Tabuchi pointed out to me.

    “The foreign press misunderstood this and started reporting that the TEPCO staff had evacuated the reactor causing a broad panic. Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times contacted the Nuclear Industry Safety Agency and TEPCO directly to clarify and confirmed that they had not in fact been evacuated, but just moved temporarily to a safer area during the spike.

    “Jun Seita then reported that as of 11:30AM, NHK was reporting that the staff were back to work.

    “The frustrating thing was that once this corrosive and sensational misinformation was in the main stream media via the wires, it was very hard to get them to fix it.

    “Al Jazeera was the first that I saw to edit their news story to reflect that indeed they had not been evacuated.

    “At the same press conference Edano accidentally said 1000 millisievert instead of 1000 microsieverts causing further confusion in the media.”

    –Al Jazeera liveblog

  43. Anonymous
    March 16, 2011 at 6:37 am

    The deadly irony is that our salt is already iodized and many people should have enough iodine in their system to provide a level of protection. Your thyroid will absorb it and then block the uptake of subsequent exposures to radioactive iodine. When your thyroid is filled, the radioactive material will be excreted from the body.

    The irony? Chlorine and fluoride cause a depletion of iodine in your body. Fluoridated tap water could lead to many deaths.

  44. Anonymous
    March 16, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Just wondering if everything happens to go wrong in Japan, what would be the difference between that and when we bombed Hiroshima?

    The difference is, today public health officials will calm the masses by telling us that the radiation poses no threat to our health. Imagine the panic of millions of people clogging our roadways driving south-eastward trying to escape the plume. It’s safer to lie today, and then lie again in 10 years from now as cancer rates soar.

    I suggest you check the plume projections if you value your life. I’m off to Texas on Saturday. Think I’m overreacting? Health officials are making such claims without even knowing how much radiation has been released into the atmosphere.

  45. 06em
    March 16, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Do you have links for any of these health officials statements, 6:58?

  46. Hopeful
    March 16, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I am praying for the situation, throwing my hands up in the air is useless, pray For Gods intervention.Pray that no one else dies.

  47. March 16, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Japan is facing the very real possibility of a massive release of radiation following three explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where workers are frantically trying to cool the overheating reactors before they completely melt.

    Perhaps more alarming to our readers in the United States is a map circulating on the Internet that purportedly shows the fallout from the ongoing disaster will expose the U.S. West Coast to 750 rads of radiation. The map, allegedly from the Australian Radiation Services, doesn’t say what exactly that means, but it sure sounds bad.

    Fortunately, the map is a hoax, according to the real Australian Radiation Services, which has put a disclaimer on its website letting readers know it had nothing to do with the map.

    One of the giveaways is that the “rad” is an outdated unit of measurement and is no longer widely used, said Joe Young, managing director for the service.

    …THE RUMOR DOCTOR’S DIAGNOSIS: This map is a fake, but the situation at Fukushima is real. Still, U.S. citizens — like those in Japan — should remain calm.

  48. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 7:43 am
  49. Anonymous
    March 16, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I don’t know what map you’re referring to Rose, but the one I’ve based my travel decisions upon came from NOAA via NOAA’s website.

  50. Anonymous
    March 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I am praying for the situation, throwing my hands up in the air is useless, pray For Gods intervention.Pray that no one else dies.

    Sky cake won’t save you. Place your trust in human knowledge, and your own ability to take the actions necessary to protect yourself and your family. Superstition will kill you in this circumstance.

  51. Mitch
    March 16, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Rose is 100% correct. At the very least, use snopes.com to check whether something you encounter on the internet is a fraud.

    For those frustrated by the media’s coverage and the internet’s rumor mill, one alternative is going to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a highly-respected anti-nuclear group. (It was anti-nuclear 20 years ago; I don’t know if climate change has affected their stance.)

    They have been offering press conferences and put the transcripts on-line.

    Here’s an extract dealing with potential radiation exposure outside of Japan (link below):

    REPORTER: And just a follow-up question. So, if you do have these higher levels — and, of course, there’s a range, one doesn’t know what might happen — can you give us some idea of how far this radiation could spread in the environment, given the prevailing winds? Would it affect Tokyo? Other parts of Southeast Asia? Could it conceivably drift across the ocean to the U.S. West Coast? How far could this go if there is a full-scale melt and a significant amount of cesium and other nuclear materials are, I assume, released into the environment?

    DR. LYMAN: Well, modeling generally shows that for that kind of event, you know, you can have significant dose rates several hundred miles downwind. I would think that on the order of thousands of miles, that the actual concentrations would have decreased to the extent they would not be a significantly higher dose to the public, although you might be able to detect that radiation.

    From the weather maps I’ve seen, the prevailing winds would generally blow toward the north and east, so I don’t think Southeast Asia is at great risk, but, again, I think Tokyo — I think the fact that they’ve already detected elevated radiation levels in Tokyo is an indication that at least some part of the time, the wind is blowing and that it’s toward the southwest. And so I think that is a an indication that if there is a larger plume, that there may be additional risk to Tokyo.


    March 16, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Map or no map – prevailing winds flow from west to east most of the time along the Western coastline. Not to mention the fisheries and other aquatic ecosystems that will get “dusted” between the two continents. Reports are coming out as well that these nuclear reactors have had toxic releases in the past…I wonder if the fishing industry has anything to share with us about the seafood being served on the consumers plate??? Are schools of fish affected to a degree where reproductive cycles are fracked with or the fish simply die without reproducing? Cesium, plutonium, uranium, etc…. ain’t good when being eaten. Same holkds true for milk, grains, fruits and vegetables, etc…. Somebody forgot to eat their Wheaties when consideing nuclear power generation – as if mankind controls mother earth, pffffft.


  53. Mitch
    March 16, 2011 at 9:53 am


    If you’re going to worry about seafood, you should worry about the toxic plastic byproducts and other chemicals before you worry about radiation. Otherwise, it’s like ignoring the military budget while worrying about foreign aid.

  54. skippy
    March 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Kym Kemp’s Redheaded Blackbelt site is following developments tirelessly. She has a New York Times link, found below, and worthwhile viewing to understand the utter devastation. Yours truly did– and very shocked.

    Kym writes: “If you don’t look at anything else, take
    a look at this before and after shot(s) of the Fukushima nuclear power site (and surrounding areas)”.

    (Drag your cursor in the middle of each picture from side to side to interactively engage the before/after effect. The pictures tell a thousand words. Thanks, Kym)

  55. Mitch
    March 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    The latest is now at sfgate.com: the head of the US NRC is contradicting the Japanese official statements, and asserting that all water is gone from the cooling pond at unit four.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Public Works (?) is grandstanding and drilling a new one for some poor engineer shmuck from the NRC.


  56. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Still some room for hope.

    2014: A special police van equipped with a water cannon – normally used to disperse rioters – meanwhile arrived at the power station early on Thursday. Tepco plans to use the cannon to spray water onto reactor 4’s spent fuel storage pond. The cannon is thought to be strong enough to allow engineers to remain a safe distance from the complex and limit their exposure to radiation.

    And even some hope that a more lasting solution to the cooling problem might be within reach:

    2010: More on the power line being laid to the Fukushima Daiichi plant to help restore the reactor cooling systems: Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) spokesman Naoki Tsunoda has said it is almost complete, and that engineers plan to test it “as soon as possible”, according to the Associated Press. Reviving the electric-powered pumps might allow the engineers to finaly cool the overheated reactors and spent fuel storage ponds.


  57. skippy
    March 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Nice catch and update, Mitch and Tra.

    Mitch’s link to the Associated Press/SF Gate article above “NRC: No Water in Spent Fuel Pool of Japan Plant” reports:

    (03-16) 12:57 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —
    “The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that all the water is gone from one of the spent fuel pools at Japan’s most troubled nuclear plant, but Japanese officials denied it. If NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko is correct, this would mean there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shell of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area. He said the spent fuel pool of the complex’s Unit 4 reactor has lost water.

    Jaczko said officials believe radiation levels are extremely high, and that could affect workers’ ability to stop temperatures from escalating…”

  58. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Now some more on the bad news front —

    Spent fuel pool boiling off in the number 3 reactor, the one in the number 4 reactor may already be bone-dry.

    I hope they manage to get those cooling again, because it sounds like otherwise there could be a huge release of radiation. Remember, unlike the reactor vessels themselves, the spent fuel pools do not have any containment and, they contain hundreds of highly radioactive spent fuel rods.

    I haven’t heard any official source use the phrase “worse than Chernoby” yet, but I think we’d better brace ourselves for that possibility.

    2035: US officials have concluded that the Japanese warnings have been insufficient, and that, deliberately or not, they have understated the potential threat of what is taking place inside the nuclear facility, according to the New York Times. Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, earlier said he believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at reactor 4 had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed. “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” he told a Congressional committee.

    It’s not just the U.S. saying that the number 4 reactor’s spent fuel pool may have boiled out entirely, leaving it bone-dry.

    2027: Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has said it is also concerned about the spent fuel storage pool inside the building housing reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi. The pools at both reactors 3 and 4 are reportedly boiling – there may not even be any water left in reactor 4’s pool – and unless the spent fuel rods are cooled down, they could emit large quantities radiation. Radioactive steam was earlier said to be coming from reactor 3’s pool. If cooling operations did not proceed well, the situation would “reach a critical stage in a couple of days”, an agency official told the Kyodo news agency.

  59. Mitch
    March 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    From today’s Union of Concerned Scientists press conference this morning… Pointless panic buying of potassium iodide (my interpretation) in the United States may be screwing up Japan’s ability to get it to the people who will actually need it.

    [audio src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/UCS_Audio/japan-press-intro-3-16-11.mp3" /]

  60. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I have been thinking the same thing, Mitch. Japan isn’t likely to have an adequate supply for such a widespread exposure and people buying it in a panic are depleting the supply available. It’s really appalling.

  61. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    ABC news is reporting on some U.S. criticism of the Japanese handling of the situation:

    U.S. officials are alarmed at how the Japanese are handling the escalating nuclear reactor crisis and fear that if they do not get control of the plants within the next 24 to 48 hours they could have a situation that will be “deadly for decades.” …

    “We are all-out urging the Japanese to get more people back in there to do emergency operation there, that the next 24 to 48 hours are critical,” the official said. “Urgent efforts are needed on the part of the Japanese to restore emergency operations to cool” down the reactors’ rods before they trigger a meltdown.

    “They need to stop pulling out people—and step up with getting them back in the reactor to cool it. There is a recognition this is a suicide mission,” the official said.


    Frankly, this strikes me as some rather unhelpful second-guessing and armchair quarterbacking. If they have critiques, it seems like communicating them directly to the Japanese officials would be more appropriate.

    It seems to me that these sorts of comments by “unnamed” U.S. officials may be a bit of CYA in advance, and maybe an attempt to boost the U.S. nuke industry and it’s “don’t worry, it couldn’t happen here…and if it did we’d handle it better” argument.

  62. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    This is an interactive slide show of how a reactor shuts down, what went wrong and what happens if a melt down occurs.


  63. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    “WASHINGTON — The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Gregory Jazcko) gave a significantly bleaker appraisal of the threat posed by Japan’s nuclear crisis than the Japanese government, saying on Wednesday that the damage at one crippled reactor was much more serious than Japanese officials had acknowledged and advising to Americans to evacuate a wider area around the plant than the perimeter established by Japan.”

    “It also suggested a serious split between Washington and Tokyo, after American officials concluded that the Japanese warnings were insufficient, and that, deliberately or not, they had understated the potential threat of what is taking place inside the nuclear facility.”


  64. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Ah, yes. So, first the unnamed U.S. official quoted by ABC news attacks the Japanese for not sending more workers into what that official acknowledges as a “suicide mission.”

    And now the public face of the U.S. nuclear establishment fulfills my above prediction within minutes, pushing the “don’t worry, WE could handle this” theme:

    2116: The head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commision, Gregory Jaczko, has told lawmakers that he strongly believes the US could “mitigate” the impact of a nuclear crisis similar to the one unfolding in Japan, Reuters reports.


    O.K., is it just me, or is this really starting to look like an orchestrated PR campaign by U.S. nuke industry promoters in Congress, the NRC, and the Obama administration?

  65. Not A Native
    March 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    tra, you posted that identical message over on SoHum Parlence. Why don’t you get a real life, giving up your assumed role as Town Crier? Or at least just give links to your other numerous and repetitve postings?

  66. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    When you give up your job as county dickhead, he’ll apply for that position, Nan.

  67. longwind
    March 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    tra, it may just be our culture. We sent a whole fleet including the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan to the nuke site 3 days ago to help. But the copter they sent overhead returned with–brace yourself–traces of radiation! So the fleet scrambled to safety, announcing they’d go help somebody else.

    It had been speculated the Reagan could power the pumps to douse the rods–but that would have been dangerous. Kind of like our banks, it seems we only help those who don’t need help.

  68. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Okay, now I’ve just seen the first mainstream media use of the phrase “worse than Chernobyl.” ABC is saying that “many experts” are concerned about that possibility.

    “Events unfolding in the Japan incidents appear to be more serious than Three Mile Island. To what extent, we don’t know that. They are unfolding hour by hour,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said earlier today at the hearing.

    Chu’s assessment is in line with views expressed by many experts, some of whom even believe the Japan crisis could be worse than the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine that left hundreds sick and killed several from radiation.


    By the way, please note the massive underestimation of the death toll due to the Chernobyl disaster. In addition to the “several” people killed immediately and the “hundreds” sickened immediately, there were many more deaths and illnesses due to cancers, birth defects and other health problems in the years that followed that accident.

  69. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm


    Yes, I’ve been posting identical comments and links about this Japan nuclear disaster story on the Herald, on Sohum Parlance, and on Kym’s Redheaded Blackbelt site.

    Why? Because not everyone reads all three of those sites, and some folks may be interested in the topic. I’ve already composed the comment, added the quoted text and the link, so it only takes about 10 seconds more to post it to all 3 of these blogs instead of just one.

    Anyone who has already seen the comment can simply scroll on by. I don’t think we’re really runnning out of space in cyberspace, so I don’t really see what the problem is.

    As usual, I just can’t quite figure out what you’re so upset about NAN. Do you have any emotions other than anger and resentment? If so, you seem to do a pretty good job of keeping those hidden.

    I’m going to go posting comments where and how I want, until such time as the proprietor of some blog asks me to do otherwise. In the meantime, feel free to MYOB. Or keep whining about other commenters if you like. Or, here’s a thought, make some substantive comment of your own.


  70. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Nan is such a control freak. Why does anyone care how often anyone posts about anything? Nan posts more posts to bitch about other people’s posts than anyone else, other than maybe OldPhart under numerous names, and certainly more often than he posts something relevant to the thread.

  71. Oldphart
    March 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    And how many times have you posted today? Count ’em up babe. And what is you point in reference to the thread on that last post? You are irrelevant.

  72. Plain Jane
    March 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    It’s just post envy.

  73. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    There’s a potentially massive nuclear catastrophe underway in Japan. At this point that is undeniable. The only question is just how bad it’s going to get.

    The U.S. nuclear industry and their supporters in Congress, the NRC and the Obama administration are are no doubt concerned that the inconvenient truths being revealed in Japan might interfere with their taxpayer-financed plans to build lots of new nuclear plants in the U.S. So they continue to push the “safe, clean, emission-free” line, now accompanied by the “it couldn’t happen here, but if it did, we’d handle it better” line.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in Humboldt, NAN obsesses over other people’s blog comments.

  74. Not A Native
    March 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    NO its not post envy, its disgust at diarrhea, especially when nothing is added except, look at me and gee I just thought of something else. Thats OK for a 3 year old, and its only a blog here, the bits don’t use up resources.

    But let’s call it out for what it is, an excess of narcissism and a deluge of inanane repetitive posts. Spam is also just ’email’. But it comes in tsunami amounts and with drivel as content, thats why its considered an abuse on the ‘net.

  75. March 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Not-a-Native also suffers from blog post incontinence, tending to make a point and then repeat it.

  76. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Well, that’s your opinion, NAN, but with all due respect, you don’t run the blog.

    Heraldo hasn’t complained about my frequent comments, quotes and links on this topic or any other. On several other topics he’s used my comments to create a front-page post. So apparently the proprietor of the blog sees some value in what I write. Sorry you feel differently, and if you start your own blog I’ll be happy to avoid it.

    Meanwhile, Kym, the proprietor of Redheaded BlackBelt blog, has repeatedly posted her thanks for all the updates and links that, for some reason, annoy you so much. And Eric Kirk often converses with me in his comment threads and seems interested in some of what I have to say.

    In fact, you’re the only one who seems to have this problem of perceiving my little contributions as attention-seeking or useless, or both. I’m sorry you feel that way, but your opinion is just that — your opinion. I’m interested in this topic, following it fairly closely, and I don’t see any harm in posting comments, quotes and links here, and people can check them out or pass them by as they see fit.

    If it’s causing such a problem for you, all you need to do is avert your eyes and scroll on by.


  77. beel
    March 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    i would like to contribute a minor correction to the original entry. Potassium iodide not potassium iodine is the substance that can protect thyroid glands from radioactive iodine.

    Mitch at 1:50 and PG at 2:02 are right on that the premature US consumer run on KI may hinder the availability of the substance for those folks in Japan who actually need it.

    Rick at 12:11 noted that his vitamins contain 150 mcg or µg of KI. according to the dose chart on the Wiki page, an adult dose associated with exposure to radiation is 130 mg. there are 1000 mcg in one mg, so one would have to consume almost 1000 tablets (actually 867) to get the recommended dose.

    Anon at 6:37, according to the same Wiki page,

    The potassium iodide in iodized salt is insufficient for this use as 80 tablespoons would be needed to equal one dose

    of KI in a radiological emergency.

  78. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, tells CNN that water had served to both cool the uranium fuel and shield it. But once the uranium fuel was no longer covered by water, zirconium cladding that encases the fuel rods heated, generating hydrogen.

    That caught fire, resulting in a situation that is “very, very serious,” Alvarez told CNN. He said the next solution may involve nuclear plant workers having to take heroic acts. Asked to be more specific, he said, “This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives. … It’s very difficult for me to contemplate that but it’s, it may have reached that point.”


  79. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Helicopters just dumped 4 loads of seawater onto the number 3 reactor. Each load somewhere in the range of 7 tonnes of water.

    Meanwhile, Japan’s NHK tv reports 11 more water cannon trucks are en route to the site.

  80. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Sounds like they dumped two loads of seawater onto reactor 4 also. Then had to bring the crews in before their exposure to the radiation got too high. Not clear if they’ll be trying it again, with a new crew, or what.


  81. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    NHK reports that in the recent helicopter seawater-drop operation on units 3 and 4, hitting the targets has been “challenging.” I don’t know if that means they missed with all or some of those drops, or whether they aren’t sure, or what.

    BBC points out that due to the high level of radiation, the helicopters cannot stay hovering above the reactors while they aim and drop, they have to drop it “on the fly,” which is no easy feat.

  82. skippy
    March 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Yours truly, for one, is appreciating Tra’s commentary (and Plain Jane’s, and others) lately. First, he’s sifting through the mess of news bringing it up to speed with clarity. Second, he conservatively provides some thoughtful insight, some critical thinking, and the links. Third, he cares.

    In all fairness, it’s a heckuva lot better and interesting than the brief T-S national news buried in section C-3. Anyone can be a critic so disregard it as one sees fit. That’s the beauty of choice.
    Toodles, indeed.

    … Where’s Owl? Did he fly the nest, split the coop?

  83. tra
    March 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks Skippy,

    Here’s another update from the BBC live blog:

    0355: Pressure is rising again at Reactor 3, the power station operator says – Reuters. That reactor includes plutonium and uranium in its fuel mix.

    0352: The temperature of Reactor 5 is now a growing cause for concern, a Japanese official reports. “The level of water in the reactor is lowering and the pressure is rising,” he says


  84. March 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Chernobyl’s Lessons for Japan
    Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health


  85. March 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Here’s an NYT article on plumes blowing to our shores. While they say: “radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States”, that’s based on current fallout.

  86. Anonymous
    March 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    CNN had a report on their website with a list of US reactors and their chances of failure from an earthquake. Ironically the worst are in the East and South where the possibility of major quakes wasn’t understood when the facilities were built. One close to New York City had something like a 1/10,000 chance of a quake related failure per year. I think the NRC needs to read Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan.

  87. March 17, 2011 at 8:49 am

    No Nukes Is Good Nukes:

  88. Mitch
    March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Probably a moot point, as nuclear is probably dead by now, but it’s not as simple as Robert Scheer’s article from commondreams would suggest.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists was a leading anti-nuclear power organization when I was in school. They are now officially neutral on nuclear power. There’s a reason.

  89. March 17, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Don’t count on it. The Republican spin machine is in full gear.
    Sen. Lamar Alexander just said that despite the tragedy in Japan, it’s important to continue building more power plants, noting that nuclear power has been very safe in the United States.
    He equated it to when a bridge collapses, that we don’t stop driving.
    If you listen long enough, what always come out, in the end, is that alternatives are too expensive.
    The need for profit for a privatized energy industry is the true cause of these disasters, both when it came to building cheaper nuke plants (like the Mark I), cutting corners on safety (same in the gulf disaster), and not investing in renewables instead.

    Meanwhile, here’s the plume video graphic from the UN:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/16/science/plume-graphic.html?ref=science

  90. Mitch
    March 17, 2011 at 11:44 am
  91. tra
    March 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm


    I’m not sure if this is what you were alluding to, but one “reason” that some previously anti-nuke folks has begun to flirt with (or in a few cases actively support) nuclear power, is because of the role of fossil fuels in the global climate change crisis. But I think the move toward acceptance of a new generation of nuclear as something that might be desirable and/or inevitable has been a misguided response to the climate change issue. With the current reminder we’re getting about the true risks of nuclear power, I suspect we’ll see a major realignment of public opinion against the idea of building new nuclear plants in the U.S.

    Decades of pouring federal aubsidies into propping up the nuclear power industry has created a situation where nuclear is a significant source of electricity in this country, and meanwhile safer, cleaner renewable sources like solar and wind have received nowhere near the subsidies that have been dumped into the nuclear industry.

    The nuclear industry and supportive politicians have continually repeated the claim that we can’t do without nuclear power and that alternative sources and conservation can’t get the job done. Acting on that claim by providing massive subsidies for nukes, while conservation and alternative sources of power have received a pittance, they have created a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy and now we are indeed somewhat reliant on our current nuclear plants.

    However, that dynamic is a result of government policy, not technological or economic necessity, and it’s not too late to change our path now, before we commit to a whole new generation of expensive, unreliable, radioactive waste-producing, meltdown-risking boondoggles.

    The sooner we decide to move on from our nuclear past, and into our renewable and conservation-oriented future, the better, even in terms of replacing fossil fuel generated electricity. Major increases in generation by wind and solar, and major decreases in demand through conservation and energy efficiency, could be completed in just a few years — as opposed to a timeline of decades to build a new generation of nuke plants.

  92. March 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm
  93. tra
    March 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    The NRC’s chief spokesman said yesterday that all U.S. nuke plants are “designed to” withstand the kinds of earthquakes or other natural disasters that are “likely” at their location.

    To which the critical thinker might respond that the Titanic was “designed” to be unsinkable, and that “unlikely” events do happen.

    The basic problem with trying to wrap our heads around the risks posed by nuclear plants is that it is that a nuclear meltdown is a classic example of a low-probability/high-consequence event.

    The possibility of a meltdown is exceedingly “unlikely,” at any given plant on any given day, but given enough plants at enough different locations, it gets to be more of a question of “when and where,” rather than “if,” a lesson the Japanese are currently learning the hard way. Hopefully we won’t have to wait and learn it the hard way, too.

  94. Mitch
    March 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Here’s the Union of Concerned Scientists “All Things Nuclear” web site, which right now has as its top item the danger (or lack of danger) to the U.S.


    tra, Richard,

    I know all the anti-nuclear arguments. I protested at Seabrook and was the news director of a college radio station during Chernobyl, which happened shortly after I saw The China Syndrome. I don’t disagree that nuclear is awful, and it scares the living daylights out of me. I just wonder if it’s the most awful of the politically-attainable choices.

  95. Mitch
    March 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Make that Three Mile Island, of course.

  96. E
    March 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Our likely saving grace, ironically, is that we find ourselves in one big protection racket, and no one will want to insure these plants.

  97. Mitch
    March 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm


    As TRA has pointed out, YOU AND I insure the damn things. But that may change.

  98. Plain Jane
    March 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    We help pay to build them, insure them, and guarantee them a profit. What a deal…for the nuclear industry.

  99. March 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    E, I wish that were true, but in fact you and I insure them with socialized liability insurance. Good enough for the Nuke industry, but not for our own health care.

  100. tra
    March 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm


    Which Seabrook protests were those — the big ones in ’77, when construction was beginning, or the big ones in ’89 when the reactor was about to come on-line?

    At the ’89 demonstrations, I climbed over the fence and was arrested, along with something like 1,000 other people. Just curious, were you one of them? If so, we might have shared the same police pen for a few hours!

    As you probably know, they never did manage to finish the second reactor at Seabrook, due to massive cost overruns and the ongoing opposition from the Clamshell Alliance.

    Shortly after finally bringing the first reactor online, Public Service of New Hampshire went bankrupt, but the plant has continued to limp along with the one reactor under a succession of different owners, providing semi-reliable electic power at a ridiculously high price (not even including the subsidies, indemnities, risk of meltdown, waste issues, etc.)

    Whatever your position on nuclear power is now, you and I did the right thing by trying to stop that boondoogle. Had even a fraction of the money that was poured into that fiasco over the decades instead been put toward conservation and alternative sources of generation, New Hampshire could be a leader in clean and renewable energy today, with lower electric rates and without an aging reactor and a bunch of radioactive waste haunting their little slice of coastline for generations to come.

  101. tra
    March 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm


    My hope is that what is considered “politically-attainable,” will change as the voters are reminded of true risks of nuclear power.

    In light of what’s going on in Japan, I’m not sure that most Americans are still going to buy the “safe, clean, emission-free” line that is still being pushed by the U.S. nuclear industry and their promoters/apologists/enablers at the NRC and in Congress and the Obama administration.

  102. pessimist
    March 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    tra, I wish I could agree with you that “In light of what’s going on in Japan, I’m not sure that most Americans are still going to buy the “safe, clean, emission-free” line that is still being pushed by the U.S. nuclear industry and their promoters/apologists/enablers at the NRC and in Congress and the Obama administration.”

    Sadly, I don’t believe that will be the outcome. I’ve learned to never underestimate the magnitude of lies that FOX and Fat Limbaugh will tell, or the stupidity and gullibility of their viewers. I expect them to promote nukes and call anyone opposing them anti-American, cowardly wimps, or something of that nature. Time will tell.

  103. skippy
    March 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    One of the best, clear explantions to date of the current few hours is this highly recommended link by Rachel Maddow, “On a Scale of Three Mile Island to Chernobyl, Where are We Now?”

    An excellent primer, she breaks it down simply and succinctly as you can see here.

    (Thank you Kym Kemp for culling this from the many sources screened for readers)

  104. tra
    March 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I hope you’re wrong, “pessimist.” Otherwise, sooner or later, something along the lines of what we’re watching unfold at the Japanese nuke plant will be bound to happen here in North America.

    Aside from the operator error factor, and the potential for poor engineering and/or construction, even if all that stuff goes right, and even if every plant is “designed” to withstand any natural disasters that are “likely” at a given location, the fact is that “unlikely” natural disasters do happen from time to time, and given enough time and enough nuke plants, it’s only a matter of time until the right set of circumstances hits the right plant…and then the radioactive shit hits the fan.

    There’s a reason most people don’t want one of these in their neighborhood. I don’t mind if my neighbor wants to put solar panels on his roof, though. Chances of those solar panels causing a catastrophic meltdown? Zero.

  105. beel
    March 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    On the West Coast, a Paranoid Run on Iodide Pills

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2059408,00.html#ixzz1GtbPj5cT

  106. skippy
    March 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Subject: Fact Sheet 3/15/11
    To All:
    Attached please find a Humboldt County Health and Human Services Division Administrative Department fact sheet regarding Japan’s nuclear emergency. In addition to this fact sheet, additional information can be found on the Humboldt Health Alert web site and the State EPO preparedness site.

    Humboldt Health Alert.Org (http://humboldthealthalert.org/)

    Be Prepared California.Ca.Gov (http://bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov/epo/)

    Humboldt County
    DHHS-Public Health Branch
    529 I Street


    • Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to California at this time, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

    • State and Federal agencies continue to monitor the situation. These include the NRC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, FEMA Region IX, and the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA). CalEMA has a plan of response for radiological emergencies if one were to arise.

    • There has been local interest in potassium iodide. Potassium iodide (KI) tablets are not recommended at this time, and can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems. This information is from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

    • Potassium iodide (KI) tablets are useful in blocking some types of radiation in the thyroid. However, these tablets should not be taken unless directed by authorities. KI tablets or liquids do not provide any protection to radiation other than to radioactive iodine. They provide no protection to any organ except the thyroid. KI tablets and liquid are not routinely stockpiled.

    • A Public Information Response Line has been established by the California Department of Public Health. That number is (916) 341-3947. The line is staffed 8 AM to 5 PM daily.

    • Informational material is also available online at http://www.cdph.ca.gov Local information is available at http://www.humboldthealthalert.org

  107. Mitch
    March 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm


    ’77 (or at least late seventies). Showing my age.

  108. skippy
    March 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Tra? Where are you, Tra? And Owltotem? Owl seems to have split the nest, folks. Maybe he’s ahead of the curve. Hope he turns up before we all glow radioactive. If Hi-Fi stays we’re probably safe.

    On that happy note, not sure what news to believe is blowing in the winds but it doesn’t sound good:

    “Radiation Plume Reaches U.S., but Is Said to Pose No Risk”

    “Sacramento Sensor Detects Trace Amounts of Radiation”

    ‘America on Nuclear Alert: Could Fallout Reach U.S. West Coast?”

    …pay attention to recent news, people… peace, skips

  109. tra
    March 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    “We have thrown everything except the kitchen sink at this reactor, and have failed. ”

    “The time has come to throw in the kitchen sink.”

    Famous physicist Michio Kaku tells CNN that the Japanese govenment should be acting now to prepare for the “Chernobyl option” of “entombment,” where the air force is called in to drop massive amounts of sand, boron, dolomite and concrete to bury the reactors.

    Kaku says it would take several days to prepare for that operation and then several more days to complete it, but that the Japanese government and military should be preparing for it right now, so that they will be ready to put that plan into action quickly if need be.

    It sounds like Kaku thinks it is very likely that this approach may be needed, and he’s concerned that an unwillingness on the part of non-scientist in the government to face up to the seriousness of the situation may be getting in the way.


    The video clip is posted bewteen the 9:39 blog entry and the 10:38 entry.

  110. tra
    March 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    To be fair to the Japanese government, it may be that they are already preparing for this, I don’t know. And of course it’s another massive use of manpower and resources in a nation that is already strained to the breaking point with the need to respond to the massive devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

  111. Random Guy
    March 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    FYI, been spot checking radiation monitors since the day of the quake…until today, there hasn’t been a blip on Humboldt. Today, there’s a blip on Humboldt. Stay outa the rain!

  112. 06em
    March 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    What blip? The only monitor I’ve seen for this area looks normal. Do you have a link?

  113. Random Guy
    March 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    soprry -06edm.,,.canh’t ty[pe.,../..radfiation suitt tooo bhulky….

  114. Owltotem
    March 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Owl here Skip, I have been able to find no local monitoring data. It is nuclear radiation man, small doses will *&^& you up way later. Call me an Ostrich, not an Owl on this one, what do you do, it is atmospheric, when it falls out it contaminates the ground, the water, and the whole food chain. I remember when I was a little kid, a family member worked in the industry. He used to have an apple on the corner of his his desk, I thought he went to work and put his apple from his lunch on the corner of his desk every day. Turns out, it was the same apple, I was little, I don’t remember how long it had to be at least a year, he finally changed offices. These guys used to play with radiation, he irradiated the apple (maybe with spent fuel who knows) and it killed everything that would have biodegraded the apple. Another acquaintance was at Eniwetok as a civilian for the AEC, He said his badge turned black the first day, they just issued him another one. He finally died with 11 different types of cancer. When I was a little kid I knew 3 people in my elementary school who died from Leukemia, I thought it was a common childhood disease. I remember all the milk butter and cheese getting pulled off the shelves. Growing up, the guys who joined the plumbers, steamfitters and pipefitters union, welders, etc, they made bucks they all had stories about leaving work and getting hung up in decontamination. No freaking joke, so many of my friends are dead or suffering the effects now. You know, we live in a sick society, it is so hard to prove it attacks you later. What the (*&^ do you do Skips, freakout and worry, make yourself sick? Tell the people you love you love them, do what is right by your values, be true to yourself and your community and pray that the human race opens its eyes, heart and mind and thinks about the future of all life on the planet. Yep Skip, there are times I want to fly the nest, just live a simple life with as little impact as possible, I half limp my talk now, but not very well, disasters like this one, man made, sure there was an earthquake but this is man made this is about energy this is about how we live as humans and where we are going, this shit shakes me up a little skip, I would rather light heartedly read fake newspaper articles and chop wood. Owl

  115. skippy
    March 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I understand, Owl. You spoke very well. Yes, a simpler life has it’s merits. Being true to yourself, ourselves, and our community. Everyone should be loved. We live on a beautiful planet with everything we need and– well, we know how this goes, don’t we, Owl?– accepting the things we can’t change, changing the things we can, and having the higher intelligence and wisdom to know the difference. It’s a fine line at times. Like chopping wood. You have a very observant eye, Owl.

    Owl, you’ve just given me an idea. Let me think it over, work on it. We need to spice things up here a bit. Maybe some fun? The news has been dreary, the weather, too. More details to follow… thank you, Owl.

  116. skippy
    March 20, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Taking a break from disaster news, folks. Owl’s right. It’s been dreary. So much information overload. Let’s harken back to olden days only for a moment, away from science and nuclear fuels when times were simple with mirth and glee, fledgling humor, and a thoroughly ripped off Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Then back to our normal disaster after this break:

    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Who goes there?
    King Arthur: It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, Sovereign of all England! I am, and this is my trusty servant… Patsy. We have ridden the length and breadth of the land in search of knights who will join me in my court at Camelot. I must speak with your lord and master.
    1st soldier: What? Ridden on a horse?
    King Arthur: Yes!
    1st soldier: You’re using coconuts!
    King Arthur: What?
    1st soldier: You’ve got two empty halves of coconut and you’re bangin’ ’em together.
    King Arthur: So? We have ridden since the snows of winter covered this land, through the kingdom of Mercia, through…
    1st soldier: Where’d you get the coconuts?
    King Arthur: We found them.
    1st soldier: Found them? In Mercia? The coconut’s tropical!
    King Arthur: What do you mean?

  117. skippy
    March 20, 2011 at 1:01 am

    1st soldier: Well, this is a temperate zone
    King Arthur: The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin or the plover may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
    1st soldier: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
    King Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
    1st soldier: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
    King Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
    1st soldier: It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
    King Arthur: Well, it doesn’t matter. Will you go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here?
    1st soldier: Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?
    King Arthur: Please!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Am I right?
    King Arthur: I’m not interested!
    Second Swallow-Savvy Guard: It could be carried by an African swallow.
    King Arthur: Will you ask your master if he wants to join my court at Camelot?
    1st soldier: Oh yeah, an African swallow, maybe, but not a European swallow. That’s my point.
    Second Swallow-Savvy Guard: But then the African swallow’s not migratory… Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

    … and now back to our regularly scheduled disaster news…

  118. walt
    March 20, 2011 at 1:47 am

    You don’t frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called “Arthur King,” you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

  119. skippy
    March 20, 2011 at 2:05 am

    King Arthur: Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest. If he will give us food and shelter for the night, he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.
    French Soldier: Well, I’ll ask him, but I don’t think he will be very keen. Uh, he’s already got one, you see.
    King Arthur: What?
    Sir Galahad: He said they’ve already got one!
    King Arthur: Are you sure he’s got one?
    French Soldier: Oh yes, it’s very nice!
    King Arthur: Can we come up and have a look?
    French Soldier: Of course not. You’re English types.
    King Arthur: What are you then?
    French Soldier: I’m French. Why do you think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king?
    Sir Galahad: What are you doing in England?
    French Soldier: Mind your own business. You don’t frighten us with your silly knees-bent running around advancing behavior! I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
    Sir Galahad: Is there someone else up there we can talk to?
    French Soldier: No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.
    King Arthur: Run away!

  120. skippy
    March 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Brightening Owl’s spirits before the fowl dawn of our Atomic Age:

    Roger the Shrubber: Are you saying Ni to that old woman?

    King Arthur: Um, yes.

    Roger the Shrubber: Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.

    King Arthur: Did you say shrubberies?

    Roger the Shrubber: Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies…

    …and now back to the continuing tragedy…

  121. tra
    March 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Bipartisan foolishness:

    “President Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget includes about $2 billion for renewable loan guarantees and $54 billion for the nuclear industry. The $6 billion appropriated for renewable loan guarantees in the Recovery Act has been whittled down in recent years to $2.5 billion, with considerable money not yet fully committed. Republicans are trying to go even farther than Obama, eliminating the Recovery Act funds (Section 3001 of HR 1) as well as the ongoing renewable loan guarantee program (Section 1425), while agreeing with Obama’s risky nuclear push.”


  122. African SwallOwltotem
    March 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks Skippy :)

  123. African SwallOwltotem
    March 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    “Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest.”

    Jake: First you traded the Cadillac in for a microphone. Then you lied to me about the band. And now you’re gonna put me right back in the joint!

    Elwood: They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God.

    Hmmm,a perfect day you can nuke me now I have already found eternal bliss!

    Ni Ni

  124. walt
    March 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    It can happen here. . .it DID happen here:

    Along the trail you’ll find me lopin’
    Where the spaces are wide open,
    In the land of the old A.E.C. (yea-hah!)
    Where the scenery’s attractive,
    And the air is radioactive,
    Oh, the wild west is where I wanna be…

    I’ll have on my sombrero
    and of course I’ll wear a pair of levis
    over my lead BVDs!

    –Tom Lehrer (and he was there)

  125. August 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Hi, its good paragraph regarding media print, we all be aware of media is a wonderful source of facts.

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