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What can be learned from the Japanese Crisis?

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Westfalia, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. Westfalia

    Westfalia The North Member

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    A few days ago one of the most powerful earthquakes in modern time struck outside the eastern shores of Japan. The Earthquake resulted in a massive Tsunami that resulted in a massive loss of lives and massive damage to the infrastructure leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Japan is most likely the most well prepared country on earth to cope with this type of events and had early warning systems in place the loss of life has been great.

    This natural disaster would also result in another disaster: damage to the nuclear power plant in the country. The information about surrounding the event has been field with contradicting information, uncertainty and rumors have been circulating. This event has resulted in a combination of a Manmade Disaster and a Natural Disasters. And will most likely become a textbook example of a worst case scenario.

    So what can be learned?
    Only after a few days the shelves in stores are empty and many of the survivors have a hard time getting access to food and water. A relatively small storage of food lasting only a few weeks and a basic storage of water could have made a great difference for many. Some are also homeless and have hard time shielding themselves from the elements as they search for lost friends and family members.

    Another thing that can be learned is that everything can be lost without a moment’s notice. If anyone living next to the shores had made preparations in their homes they may have lost them if it was hit by the tsunami. Having a comprehensive Every Day Carry or a Get Home Bag may be the only tools that you have available after such a scenario.

    The development with the nuclear power plants is yet another example that even systems that are believed to be safe can collapse. There were multiple backup systems in the plants but they have all failed. Of course one can focus on the design of the plants and lay blame on individual persons or the company owning the plants. And this will take place after the crisis over.

    Our modern societies are dependent on a number of complex systems that makes our modern lives possible. Electricity, Telecommunications and The Internet is only a few examples. This event is an example of what can happen when just one of these systems collapse for a short time.

    Many also blame the media and people in charge for not providing accurate information and misleading the public. It is possible that all information has not been provided but one should most importantly reflect over the Dynamic of a Crisis Situation. A crisis is always a situation when the information about the situation is incomplete. Even with the access to modern communications, video and the internet it is impossible to take in and find all information that is available. This may become clear after a crisis but is never completely clear during a crisis. Decision must be based on incomplete information. The situation affected by an enormous time pressure. There are great values at stake; lives, homes, infrastructure, people’s health, economic values and prestige.

    Not even the expert on this subject make the same assessment on the situation, we have seen different assessments made by different government agencies from different countries. The recommendations that have gone out by the Japanese have recommended an evacuation zone of 20 km surrounding the Fukushima power plants, but other countries have recommended their citizens to evacuate to a distance of minimum 80km.

    What to do if you feel worried?
    • Stay informed. But understand the information is incomplete, contradictory and will continue to be so for a long period of time. Also remember that the assessments made by experts are based upon incomplete informatin.
    • Read up on the subject and learn more about radiation and previous events.
    • Learn what agencies in your country / region that measure radiation and where you can find this information.
    • Create routines for closing ventilation, securing windows etc.
    • If you live in Japan, increase the distance between yourself and the plants if possible until the situation is under control.

    How would a situation of this type be handled in the US? There are extensive plans for handling this type of events in the US and a system for triage and mass casualty events have been developed. You can find the “The RTR Medical Response System for Nuclear and Radiological Mass-Casualty Incidents” here.

    What will happen?
    It is impossible to say how this crisis that is still ongoing will end. If there is a complete meltdown radioactive fallout may affect only the local area. During the Chernobyl meltdown the explosion was very powerful and fire that followed in the graphite would result in severe fallout far away from the plant. The circumstances in these plants see to be very different and the reactor design different from the case of Chernobyl. But there is still no telling with certainty what will follow. The cooling may be restored or the development may continue. What the long term and short term effects will be is impossible say right now. But the problem is Dual. Both the damage from the earthquake and the following tsunami plus the situations in the Japanese Power plants must be handled in what has become of the most complex crisis of our time.

    During this crisis we have also seen other reactions like people stocking up on Iodide tablets. Iodide can prevent the body from taking up radioactive Iodide if inhaling or digesting radioactive particles. But it does not offer a complete protection from radiation. Do not TAKE iodide tablets unless this has been ordered by a government agency. Also make sure to follow the instructions if you do, taking too many tablets can result in severe consequences. People with allergies to iodide, taking certain medication and people with certain types of disease should not take Iodide. There are also special considerations for pregnant women, children and other groups. Talk to your doctor if you have bought this type of tablets. This form of tablets are now selling for very high prices on sites like E-Bay, a similar reaction could be seen during the Swine Flu pandemic with Tamiflu. This seems like an overreaction to me, especially for those how live far away from the plants, like people living the US.

    By the time I write this some or all of this information may have been proven wrong or incomplete but this is my take on the situation right now.

    Information is the most critical aspect during any CBRN event – stay informed.

    We have seen a lot of reactions here on the boards as well from people how recommend that one moves topsoil into the garage, stock upon iodide tablets and people how are planning to evacuate from the west coast in the US. These actions seems like clear overreactions to me at this point.

    So what do you believe can be learned from the crisis in Japan?

    The Free Online Survival Guide
     
  2. MA Duce

    MA Duce Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    1.) Build emergency gen sets at the power plants. I heard that each plant had an 8 hr. back up battery bank, but no mention of gen set to run the control boards and pumps for cooling. The Japanese were counting on the grid to supply backup power, when that went down they were screwed. Gen sets are required in the US. 2.) You can plan all you want, but some things are just too big to cope with. The combined effect of the quake and the tsunami overwhelmed the best seismic event prepared country on the planet. 3.) #2 notwithstanding, you are a fool if you don't prepare as much as possible.
     
  3. elsie

    elsie Way over there on the left Well-Known Member

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    A quick check with Google shows that they plant had 3 or 4 backup diesel generators which were disabled by the tsunami. I have seen different stories that they were operating when the wave hit and other stories that said the generators were disabled before they came on line. Either way, they had them but they were not operational.


    elsie
     
  4. MA Duce

    MA Duce Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that....I had heard they had none and thought it very strange.....
     
  5. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    I just read that the backup generators were able to provide proper cooling for the facility until about one hour after the quake. At that time, the 7m high surge overflowed the 6.5m high seawall that protected the pumps.

    Keith
     
  6. Westfalia

    Westfalia The North Member

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    I am not sure exactly of the number, but have seen sources that there were 13 generators and that they all failed, possibly as a result of the tsunami. I think we will see quite detailed documentaries explaining the details after the crisis is over.

    Japan's nuclear concerns explained
     
  7. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    I read the CNN review you linked and it is quite accurate in its technical description.

    ---

    The source I cited earlier said that the harbor wave destroyed the oil drums that supplied the fuel to the generators, then penetrated to the underground electrical rooms and flooded the switchboards. Of interest, the linked CNN article above says that the coolant pumps continued to operate for 8 additional hours on battery power before the batteries became exhausted.

    Right now, the generator for plant 6 is reportedly running and supplying power for the cooling pumps of plants 5 and 6.
    Keith
     
  8. Just Jim

    Just Jim Well-Known Member

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    Why didn't someone send generators to the japanese? We have huge portable diesel generators here in the USA that can run entire plants but none were sent over, why?



    jj
     
  9. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    Well, its been just one week since the disaster. I would cite logistics...? Getting a trailer-mounted generator on site might be impossible due to the road conditions. Airports and port terminals nearby have been wiped out.

    Keith
     
  10. Just Jim

    Just Jim Well-Known Member

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    They could have easily moved a portable gen with a big helicopter to exactly where they needed it.

    jj
     
  11. The Cheese

    The Cheese somewhere special Member

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    I thought I read that they had trailered in some portable generators, but they would work with what ever they were to plug into at the plant. One place said they had the wrong plugs. I think that was BS as you could just re-wire that mess and make it work. But regardless they wouldn't interface properly with the systems there, or at least thats what I gathered. Now back to the OP's topic at hand....


    Really, you have to have a plan or preps set up in layers. Back ups for you back ups, and such. And I think Organization of your materials is probably one of the most key things anyone can do (and something I am trying and failing at for the time being). It saves time in an emergency if you know where your stuff is and can get to it quickly. Also having simple knowledge of things like how to turn off your water and gas in your house, how to run a chainsaw, how to administer basic 1st aid, etc are all little things that can help in a disaster. And have a plan for as much as you can think of.
     
  12. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    Let's remember, the plant's main as well as backup and backup-backup systems (diesel generators and battery bank) continued to operate as designed, despite weathering an earthquake approximately 60 times more powerful than they was designed for. Only the impact of a giant harbor wave destroyed the generator capacity, and quite honestly I'm surprised that the batteries lasted 8 hours. Here in the US, most building codes require at best a maximum of 1.5 hours of UPS battery backup for life safety systems. I submit that there is no public or private infrastructure anywhere in the world that could withstand a disaster of equal magnitude or meet the following logistical nightmare any better than the Japanese are currently doing.

    Keith
     
  13. lonegunman

    lonegunman Eastern Washington Active Member

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    1. Don't live in Japan.

    2. If you live within a mile of the coast, you better buy a truck and keep your crap loaded in it.

    3. If you live in the low lying areas around the Puget Sound, that could easily be you.

    4. If you live in the mud flow areas of any western volcano, that could be you.

    5. Unlike Japan, the "entitled" people in our country will start robbing, raping and looting five minutes after the shaking stops. Without power and with limited access, the police will abandon you to your own defense and support. Once people see you have food, shelter and electricity they will start demanding assistance and offer to help divide up what is yours. If you refuse, they may very well kill you for it.



    Japan is the "best case" for a disaster. They have a civil society that respects the law, they have a decent infrastructure and very good command and control and they really are trying to make the best of a bad thing. Chile had a massive earthquake and the news did not mention it, because they did not destroy the country demanding aid from other nations.


    If it happens here, it will be like Katrina on steriods.
     
  14. powersbj

    powersbj Seattle Area Active Member

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    Dont be a sheep, dont listen to the .gov, if they down play a situation its time to run, if they play it up look some where else for the real problem.
     
  15. billdeserthills

    billdeserthills Cave Creek, Arizony Well-Known Member

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    I wanna say the loud funny words too:
    Not build all of your reactors in the same area.
     
  16. mattg521

    mattg521 portland.,or Member

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    Now Stimpy, control yourself.
     
  17. chemist

    chemist Beaverton OR Well-Known Member

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    We can't be self-sufficient (and it probably wouldn't be a very desirable life if we could be) but we can sure learn to be a lot more self-reliant in our daily lives than we've become accustomed to. 'Making do' doesn't require massive hardware investment and training so much as a can-do attitude that allows you to stay cool and prioritize. How do you eat an elephant? One spoonful at a time. Take small but psychologically meaningful steps each day to deal with the situation and continually make it a little more livable - it's a better strategy than focusing on the big picture of devastation and loss. Denial is a coping mechanism that works - that's why it evolved in the first place. If I were to lose my soulmate, I'd be thinking about something else for the duration of the crisis.
     
  18. Scrammer

    Scrammer SW Washington Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Don't forget what little thing like an EMP burst would do to generators and circuit boards in a nuke pant.
     
  19. One-Eyed Ross

    One-Eyed Ross Winlock, WA Well-Known Member

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    well, since a lot of us live in the Cascade subduction zone, the lessons learned from the quake in Japan should stay with us, I hope.

    Stay away from the ocean when a quake hits - dem buggers can kill you. When it happens here, I'm just hoping that I am not in Hoquiam or Aberdeen....or Ocean Shores.
     
  20. A.I.P.

    A.I.P. UpperUS Active Member

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    Anonymous Fukushima Employee: Workers were dropping like flies in the heat while clearing debris and watering reactors


    Published: February 20th, 2012 at 11:24 pm ET


    Title: Heroic risks of struggle to clean up Fukushima
    Source: The Irish Times
    Author: DAVID McNEILL in Fukushima
    Date: Feb 21, 2012
    [...] Thousands of men worked through last year’s summer heat of over 30 degrees in this protective gear, struggling to clear debris from the quake and tsunami and bring water to the reactors. “They were dropping like flies in the heat,” said one worker who spoke anonymously. “But they just had to keep going. They had no choice because no one else could do it.”


    “The worst time was when the radiation was 250 Milisieverts (per year – the maximum, temporary government limit) and we couldn’t find people to do the work,” explains Kazuhiro Sakamoto, an onsite subcontractor. “We could only work in two-minute busts, when we were extracting cesium from contaminated water.” [...]

    Read the report here
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