Spare a thought for the workers

The portrait that’s emerging of working condition inside those crippled Japanese nuclear power plants is, bluntly, horrific.  This from the New York Times.

Engineers at the plant, working at tremendous personal risk, on Tuesday continued efforts to cool down the most heavily damaged unit, reactor No. 2, by pumping in seawater.

Apparently, some four dozen workers have remained behind, using simple hoses to bathe volatile radioactive fuel rods in sea water, and battling full-blown blazes.

After Chernobyl, many workers died or were permanently disabled.  These brave souls in Japan are operating in an environment that appears increasingly toxic, not to mention literally explosive.

One can only imagine the courage and mental fortitude required to keep working in the shadow of so much peril.


5 Comments on “Spare a thought for the workers”

  1. phahn50 says:

    Peak radiation levels were 0.4 Sv/ hour. It would take only 5 or 6 hours of that kind of exposure to get to the human LD/50. it would take maybe 20 hours before you had no chance of survival. Many of the Chernobyl firefighters got this kind of exposure. Im sure all the people working there are well aware of all of this. (This as I prepare my occupational exposure of radiation lecture for tomorrow). Last week I went over how you make hydrogen gas from radiation exposure to water. Hydrogen gas, of course, is highly explosive. They are truly brave.

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  2. phahn50 says:

    There’s no protective clothing you can wear. Washing off doesnt help much. Exposure is cumulative – lifetime for cancer, but for the short-term effects, in a year or so they should be almost back to normal. Hopefully they have enough people to rotate fresh ones in there continuously.

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  3. erb says:

    Very much in my mind this morning. These are truly brave people, sacrificing themselves to try to ward off disaster.

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  4. Pete Klein says:

    When you think of heroes, think of these men.

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  5. phahn50 says:

    More numbers: The Japanese nuclear regulatory commission just raised the yearly allowable exposure limits (total – cumulative) five-fold to .25 Sv. After you reach that level you are not allowed to work near radiation for a while. – thats 30 minutes exposure at the peak level of a couple of days ago. The old limit was reached in 5 minutes exposure. Most people think that, from a health perspective, the same dose over a short period of time is far worse that the same total dose spread out over a year.

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