Poetic name, which I don’t think I’ve seen referenced by the American media. Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian on “The truth about the ‘Nuclear Samurai’“:
To a world that doesn’t know him, Shingo Kanno is one of the “nuclear samurai” – a selfless hero trying to save his country from a holocaust; to his family, Kanno is a new father whose life is in peril just because he wanted to earn some money on the side doing menial labour at the Fukushima nuclear plant. A tobacco farmer, Kanno had no business being anywhere near a nuclear reactor – let alone in a situation as serious as the one that has unfolded after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami in Japan…
Shingo Kanno, who had been hired to do construction work, was released from his duties at Fukushima soon after the declaration of a nuclear emergency. As the crisis at the plant worsened, and the Japanese government widened the evacuation zone, he moved his wife and his infant daughter to his in-laws, where they would be safer.
He also helped evacuate his extended family from their home town of Minamisoma, which is within the 30km exclusion zone, to the sports centre and other shelters. Then, his relatives say, Kanno got a call from the plant asking him to go back to work.
His whole family took turns getting on the phone to tell him not to go. They reminded him that he was a farmer, not a nuclear engineer, that he did not have the skills for such a sophisticated crisis. They said he should think of his responsibilities to his parents and his baby daughter…
But on Friday Shingo Kanno went back anyway. The family have not heard from him since.
And here’s another, contemporaneous story from Justin McCurry at the Guardian:
According to documents from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the company repeatedly missed safety checks over a 10-year period up to two weeks before the 11 March disaster, and allowed uranium fuel rods to pile up inside the 40-year-old facility.
When the plant was struck by a huge earthquake and tsunami, its reactors, designed by US scientists 50 years ago, contained the equivalent of almost six years of highly radioactive uranium fuel produced by the facility, according to a presentation Tepco gave to the International Atomic Energy Agency and later posted on the company’s website.
The revelations will add to pressure on Tepco to explain why, under its cost-cutting chief executive Masataka Shimizu, it opted to save money by storing the spent fuel on site rather than invest in safer storage options.
Fact: the number of deaths from nuclear power per watt produced is 1000’s of times few than from coal.
@sherifffruitfly: The problem with nuclear accidents are more long term. The land is no longer usable for the agriculture industry and the fishing industry is dead. Then you have to think about the long term effects on health.
The coal industry because of their lack of regulations kill miners but doesn’t endanger anyone else.
Nice version, but I prefer a more rockin’ version
@JPL: And we ignore the mercury that is now omnipresent in the environment…
And we ignore the other emissions that contribute to both health problems and climate change…
Perhaps… maybe… perhaps… you should look at the long term effects of coal use and how it endangers MORE than just the miners, whom you apparently feel it is OK to just dismiss.
When will people actually start giving a crap about this pattern? Hmmm. BP had all kinds of violations and cost saving measures increased risks. These guys have violations and cost saving measures increased risks. Yet people persistently believe that corporations are better actors than government. That just out of the goodness of their hearts these companies will not needlessly risk their lives.
It’s been a decade of dying from bad spinach, bad peanut butter, bad pet food, bad toys, etc. Now BP and these clowns. I’m sick of it. Why isn’t just about everyone?
Sure the coal industry endangers others. It spews all kinds of noxious pollution that’s dangerous to anyone who breathes it, and it also contributes to AGW. So the coal plant near you is not just poisoning you and your family but also threatening to flood everyone in Florida and Bangladesh. Not exactly “doesn’t endanger anyone else”, is it?
@Jack: I really did not mean to dismiss the hard life of miners. I just listened to talk radio saying nuclear was safer because of the lack of deaths among the workers compared to the coal industry. In fact I mentioned the lack of regulations for the coal industry. You are absolutely right that we are polluting our world.
I was simply responding to a comment.
FTFY. The rest of us have noticed the pattern and give a crap about it, but that just proves we’re shrill. I think VSP will start caring about it approximately when cost cutting businesses stop paying them off.
The first thing the Japanese government did about the nuke accident was double the amount of radiation a worker could legally be exposed to.
The Wisconsin legislature school of civil engineering.
Worker safety is the most important thing, until it isn’t. Then it’s fuck you buddy, get in there and glow, and if you say no we fire you.
@Roger Moore: I disagree. I don’t think libertarian and conservative voters and opinion-makers care either.
My comment was a response to the first commenter
Fact: the number of deaths from nuclear power per watt produced is 1000’s of times few than from coal.
That is the type of comment you hear on talk radio. There are long term effects to many of the ways we produce energy. I personally think nuclear disasters cause devastating effects that last centuries. I am not negating coal. There is no such thing as clean coal..
Has the GOP gotten around to apologizing to Tokyo Electric for those unhappy people complaining about the radiation leaks?
@JPL: Seems you are rejecting the idea that if, in your opinion, you think nuclear is worse or could be worse given a different perspective that it doesn’t mean you are saying anything dismissive about the relative merits or safety of coal in general.
Enron, Operation Enduring Freedom, Katrina, Goldman Sachs, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima… the metaphors for conservatism in our age.
@gex: Sorta. If you just look at statistics, nuclear power seems safe which is what the first commenter was citing. Miners are far more likely to die rather than those that work for the nuclear industry but there are more things to look at.
Shingo Kanno’s a fucking hero. Hope he gets to be a daddy to his babies in the out years, too.
Independent of the obvious problem that corporations can’t be trusted worth a shit, the other problem is that Japan like the US has resisted solving the storage problem. The upside of nuclear power is that while the byproduct is quite dangerous, it’s also exceedingly small in quantity, and that makes it very possible to deal with safely. Not cheap to do, but not terrible hard either.
The environmentalists have been gambling that if they push hard enough against the problem that we’ll shut down nuclear power forever, rather than just pile this shit up in unsafe conditions. It’s the same failed tactic that the pro-lifers use by pushing against birth control, thinking that people will simply stop having sex when in fact they’re almost certainly making the abortion problem worse, not better.
It needs to get solved for real.
@JPL: Uranium mining is perfectlie safe.
@MikeJ: #1 uranium mining country in the world: the place where the worker is always more important than profit, Kazakhstan.
@MikeJ: Someone needs to send Don Blankenship a study. Of course that might hurt Massey’s profits so he’d ignore it.
@MikeJ: I’d agree with you if they kept it at that level, but I’ll bet anything that they won’t. Are you even aware that we have different legal exposure levels here in the US depending on circumstance? Japan basically just did what we’ve had as policy for ages.
Worker safety is important, unless a situation develops in which you have no choice. Japan unfortunately found themselves in that situation.
I can’t believe we’re criticizing Japanese worker safety policy, which is among the best in the world…
I would like the nuclear plant “heroes” to take a few days off and insist that executives from Tokyo Electric Power get in there and do the dirty work.
@MikeJ: It’s not perfectly safe. But it’s way the fuck smaller in scale than coal mining. Magnitude does matter.
Is this serious? Is this not snark?
@MikeJ: Behold the future, MikeJ: thorium reactors.
I can’t tell if he is brave or a fool. I hope he gets overtime. I’ve seen so few profiles of these 50 men. I’ve been worried that there might be a reason for that.
I think nuclear plants can be run safely, but I don’t trust private, profit-driven companies to do so, especially in America, which probably has the least ethical corporate culture of any developed country. Show me a different ownership model and I will be a lot more willing to consider new plants, or keeping old plants open.
That said, the coal vs. nuke debate is entirely stupid. David Koch has done us the favor of showing that conservation is a lot cheaper than anything else. There’s no point in building any kind of new generating capacity until that is no longer true. And since new nukes will cost around $10B a pop for a 1500MW reactor, conservation is going to be cheaper for a long time.
I found the funniest web site tonight Damnyouautocorrect.com, I’ve been reading these and giggling for hours.Boy howdy can I relate. And man, did I need that after the last few weeks. I’m gonna go giggle and snicker some more like a seven year old boy hearing the word poopy.
And Shingo Kanno is a hero. As was the scuba guy saving his wife and mother you brought to our attention the other day, AL.
@Dee Loralei: According to Colbert (so it may very well be a joke, but after visiting that site ya never know), the iPhone autocorrects “Redcross” to “Reactors”
During college one of my engineering classes studied product and facility lawsuits, primarily to drive home the various pitfalls of safety lawsuits that could follow from one big or years of small poor decisions.
After studying large scale industrial accidents and gigantic lawsuits on contamination cleanup (Superfund-type cleanups), a colleague commented that the common theme in all the pictures and videos we saw of the cleanup projects was of poor young guys doing the work. He observed that most of this work paid much more than local labor rates, so these guys were choosing to earn an extra few dollars knowing that they were probably shortening their lives at the same time.
We tell the engineering students that those are the guys that didn’t study engineering. Their supervisors are the engineers that got ‘C’s in their engineering classes. The guys that created the accident were the MBAs.
I say put the CEO’s on the job cleaning up the reactors.
And you-know-who always is the one to get the blame and the axe.
The Tsukiji fish market is a ghost town. Japan is going to be very fucked for a very long time.
It would seem kamikaze may be the more appropriate term than samurai.
At times like this, heroes are the people who selflessly forsake their dearest possession for the good of others in order to fix the messes created by the Galtian overlords who cut corners to selfishly save themselves relatively insignificant amounts of cash. The surviving families will maliciously be labeled the villains for tarnishing the virtuous memories of the heroes as they seek meager compensation for the sacrifices of their loved ones. Then the cycle repeats …
You can’t send the executives in to clean up the mess because they wouldn’t have the first idea what to do. Sadly, it is the operators and maintenance workers who know the plant who will expose themselves to radiation to read the gauges, operate the valves, and fix the equipment/piping. Plus some grunt labour to do the heavy work.
Hopefully getting the power back on for the equipment, control systems and instruments will help. But there is probably a lot of check-out to do before anything can be started up.
What a shitty job.
As long as the fuckers are not allowed to unionize everything will be just fine. Oh, and the government should get off their backs. Regulation just adds costs.
As for the safety record of the minuscule nuke v. massive coal industry how about the safety record of solar photo-voltaic? Germany’s PV (snowy, Norther Germany) produces more electricity than the entire Fukashima complex:
So much electricity in fact that it is threatening to overload their grid:
You canot build a safe nuke based on a 1950’s sub design and ALL american nukes are based on this design. The CANDU is very safe and if the Japanese had a CANDU instead of the amerikan shit, they’d would have had no problems with all coolent flow stopaged – whether nuke can help (not likely since it takes five to seven years to build those things and lets be realistic – they cost more to operate day-to-day than high-end coal plants (and yes, I am ignoring real cost that coal causes from AGW to coal minner’s health effects and ours from Hg/dust that nukes don’t cause)) and with peak oil getting too close, I think time is up.
Still, those brave workers are far more brave than I realized – no real training in nuclear engineerring (A FARMER!) and he went to the plant to save it! That is courage with a capital “C”!
I don’t have a problem with the technology, per se, it’s the people we can’t trust. Same as it ever was.
@ErinSiobhan: Ok, the CEOs don’t have to clean up, they just need to go with the cleanup crew to provide moral support. Perhaps their only moral act of their lives.
I’m 100% with you, I’m a huge Nuclear Power supporter, what I don’t’ support is profit based Nuclear power. Japan is proving that our ancient reactors, with no regulation and plenty of profit motivation equals a disaster. I’d like to see if France allows profit in their industry, I seriously doubt it.
I also don’t support our current governments ban on reprocessing of fuel, without that law we’d have solved the “waste” issue. Remember the other word for Nuclear Waste is Fuel.
@JPL Ever heard of Centralia?
@MobiusKlein: Let the executives bring coffee and doughnuts to the cleanup workers.
@evinfuilt: EDF, the monopoly operating company in France, has been a state-owned enterprise for most of its existence, and is still 85% owned by the French government. That doesn’t mean it is immune from cost-cutting pressure, face-saving cover-ups, and plain old stupidity, of course.