Not sure if you guys have heard, but Japan is a wreck. Massive earthquake, tsunamis are now hitting Hawaii, on their way to northern California, Oregon, Washington, and BC. So far 16 aftershocks at 6.0 or higher. Death toll started in the hundreds, but they can’t get to massive portions of the country.
Google has a site to find people http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/?lang=en
If you’ve got west coast coastal contacts, might want to make sure they got the evacuation messages. 8-11 foot waves predicted to hit all day.
Thought I’d mention it here as psa – we’re Japan owned, so my office is very concerned (not to mention the plants we have there).
I was thinking about you and Westinghouse earlier. Nuke plants and earthquakes always make for interesting headlines, as well as a heckuvalot of computer processing time.
On CNN International they commented that the bicycle shops in Japan are sold-out since the transit systems are down and it’s the only way for some to get home. Thought & Prayers.
yeah, this is disasterous on so many levels. Not just operating plants, but we also have manufacturing over there.
Personally, I’m finding it horrid that I can’t call my coworkers that we’ve been assured are ok by corporate, but are out of contact. Coworkers make this job worth it, I’m quite partial to them.
First waves to hit West Coast hit Tofino, 3 foot swells only. Hopefully the trend continues.
edited – many levels included the hundreds of people dead. not equating manufacturing losses with human lives. just saying that aside from the human toll, the professional toll is huge. on re-read, I realized I came off as wicked callous and numb. I’m not. Just bad with words.
Nuke plants and earthquakes …
Emergency Declared at Japanese Nuclear Plant
The Japanese government declared an “atomic power emergency” and evacuated thousands of residents living close to a nuclear plant in northern Japan after a major earthquake, but officials said there had been no radiation leak from the facility and that problems with its cooling system were not critical.
more at link
@ejwme I came off as wicked callous and numb.
Pew! We all know you’re a softie.
from what I’ve been able to figure out, three plants have had severe damage due to earth quake, two operating (Any previously operating plant would have been triggered to auto shutdown under those seismic conditions – the problems happen AFTER shutdown). One was a fire on the turbine (secondary) side, now out, one was a primary cooling system failure. The cooling pumps failed to engage after shutdown, so it’s continued to heat up. It was a BWR (Fukushima 1) so they need to get it some coolant rather soon – this may be the plant the US Airforce has lifted coolant to (or that could be another). It’s not our plant or design, so I can’t really speak to that much. But until they get the coolant system engaged, they’re going to have to keep new coolant coming in to maintain any kind of structural integrity of the fuel (key to controlling the reaction). These plants are all very close to huge bodies of water, so while it’s scary and requires serious amounts of resources and effort, it’s controllable and repairable if adequate action is taken.
(BWR = Boiling Water Reactor. Don’t want that water to boil off.)
also, not to nitpick, but while that NYTimes article may be accurate, many of its statements that are stated as generalities are actually specific to this particular design, even that particular plant. And the TMI reference is just a scare tactic – this situation is remarkably different.
It is possible to passively cool a plant using a gravity and convection based system in a closed loop. Just not this plant, or any plant in Japan. Different design. I hate when reporters present existing or specific knowledge as universal and immutable. It’s misleading at best, pandering at worst.
Tohoku is where one of the plants is down, and the end of a major train line that we always take. I can’t imagine trying to find a bicycle to purchase to try and get home to find out if your family is ok. Train commutes can be an hour or more of high speed travel – miles and miles. Phones (land and cell) are all still overloaded/down.
Westinghouse uses a PWR (pressurized water reactor), two-loop design. Your really hot nuclear pile heats up pressurized water, which circulates thru a set of tubes, called the primary. That heat is transferred to a secondary set of tubes. The steam from the secondary turns the turbines that generate the power. Thus, the radioactivity is contained to the primary side.
tx for that stu, I sometimes forget key bits of info or take for granted.
We have BWR designs too, just not the ones there. Apparently the plant in question is a GE design, and it’s a matter of time until they release radioactive steam. Long term effects to humans and environment should be none to few if they do the evac and release correctly.
Anybody know any seismologists? I just doodled up the locations of the major earthquakes at the perimeter of the Pacific tectonic plate since the Sumatra earthquake of September, 2009. Where the plate has not recently shifted is where the next movement is likely to be. So, where on the map have there not been any recent major quakes?
ej, maybe don’t move to Tofino just yet.
@edmunds So, where on the map have there not been any recent major quakes?
What with aftershoock and preliminary shocks, this is not as straightforward as that. Sure a “major” eqrthquake might be a relief of tension in the region – or it might a preliminary of bigger things to come.
Kinda like a fight with a significant other.
This event genuinely made me sad. I stopped at right by nature tonight and while I was sitting in the cafe, they had on CNN, and they said that the death toll may be well over 1000.
@ejwme: watching it on CNN is one thing, reading your comments brings it to another level. Makes me feel like under different circumstances, I could know someone there. I hope your friends and colleagues weather this. Although I’m not a religion person, I’ll give a nod, for there, but for the grace of god…
What I’m not sure many realize is that Tuesday night, this same part of Japan got a 7.2 quake, then got 34 more quakes before the big one this morning, and three of those were in the 6.0-6.5 range. Since this morning, at this writing (8:30pm EDT), they’ve had 130 more, not counting the couple on the other side of Honshu. All of these are 4.0 or greater, 20 of them 6.0 or greater.
While we’re on this, I’ll throw in this little goodie, a map depicting tsunami wave strength.
“The Richter magnitude scale, also known as the local magnitude (ML) scale, assigns a single number to quantify the amount of seismic energy released by an earthquake. It is a base-10 logarithmic scale obtained by calculating the logarithm of the combined horizontal amplitude (shaking amplitude) of the largest displacement from zero on a particular type of seismometer (Wood–Anderson torsion). So, for example, an earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger than one that measures 4.0.”
Almost all of you out there are way smarter than me, but what I get from that description is if a 5 is ten times the magnitude of a 4, an 8.9 is something like 17 times the magnitude of a 7.2…
So the difference between a 6 and an 8.9 is almost 1000 times as violent? Can someone help me with the math?
8.9 is actually 50 times 7.2. You take the difference (1.7) and raise 10 to that power. (type 10^1.7 into google)
So, it is 800x (10^2.9) more than a 6.0
I’ve heard death toll of 5k as conservative. They lost four coastal commuter trains – they can’t contact them or find them (not train cars, trains). There are at least two entire towns that I know of that are gone, one burned down (77k population), one entirely razed by floods (33k). They can’t get everywhere yet to figure out what’s what.
Last I heard there were some new quakes since the 8.9 one on the west side of the island that were over 6.6, so it’s not over. Infrastructure damaged by the 8.9 won’t hold up to much more of this.
The worst part is that the 4 million buildings in Tokyo and suburbs alone (more everywhere else) that are without power are highrises. Apartments. That’s a lot of people with elevator only access and electronic locks that can’t get indoors out of the cold (it’s winter there too). A substantial amount of farmland was flooded. Surviving the quake and tsunami is less than half the battle.
ALMKLM – think of it like this. difference between 7.2 and 8.9 is the difference between 10^6 (1 million) and 10^8.9 (794 million). your math’s pretty good. it’s 794 times as violent. That’s why it’s exponential, hard to wrap the head around. Like most of this.
Here’s some Tsunami video.
I think the footage between 1:24 and 1:60 really shows how awful it is.
Holy shit. This reminds me how small my problems are. How sad. Inconceivable.
For perspective, compare the catastrophe resulting from the largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima, the Halifax Harbor disaster of 1917 (link). That was a single-point explosion, with tsunami, in a heavily populated area and city-wide fires, followed by an intense winter storm. The death toll from that was only (?) about 2,000, about 6,000 homeless, a portion of the area leveled. Horrible, yes, but in comparison to what Mother Nature can do, puny.
In the midst of the horror, look what still functions;
from the AP/Koji Sasahara
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