March 28, 2011
My tuition helps pay for this poor comedy.
March 26, 2011
March 17, 2011
Currently the following Navy assets are participating from the DON Press Release.
Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group:
o USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)
o USS Chancellorsville (CG 62)
o USS Preble (DDG 88 )
o USS Cowpens (CG 63)
o USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10)
ï‚§ March 17 (JST): Helicopters from the USS Ronald Reagan strike group and Carrier Air Wing
Five (CVW 5) in Atsugi conducted 10 helicopter sorties today, delivering 10 tons of food and
water to relief sites ashore. A total of 40 tons of aid has been delivered to date. Aircraft and
surface ships also continued to conduct coastal search and rescue operations at sea and along
the Miyagi and Iwate coasts.
o USS Tortuga (LSD 46)
ï‚§ March 17 (JST): USS Tortuga (LSD 46) anchored early this morning in Ominato in northern
Honshu, delivering 93 vehicles and 273 Japan Ground Self Defense Force ashore via Landing
Craft Unit (LCU) transfer. The ship transported the soldiers and their vehicles from
Tomakomai, Hokkaido, to assist with the disaster recovery efforts. The ship will also
transport 5,000 bottles of water and 5,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) to Misawa for further
distribution to people in need.
o USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49)
o USS Germantown (LSD 42)
o USS Essex (LHD 2)
ï‚§ March 17 (JST): USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Germantown
(LSD 42) with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are in the Sea of Japan and will
arrive off the coast of Akita prefecture tomorrow morning to await further tasking. Marines
of the 31st MEU have established a Forward Control Element (FCE) in Yamagata. The west
coast of Honshu affords greater access to undamaged ports and roads, fewer navigational
hazards, and prevailing winds that are upwind of the Fukushima power plant.
o USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19)
ï‚§ March 17: Conducted personnel and supply transfers in the vicinity of Okinawa this morning
and is continuing north.
Ships Forward Deployed in Yokosuka, Japan:
o USS McCampbell (DDG 85)
o USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54)
o USS McCain (DDG-56)
o USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62)
o USS Mustin (DDG 89)
ï‚§ Continuing to assist Japanese authorities with providing at-sea search and rescue and
o Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Seventh Fleet (CTF-72)
ï‚§ March 17: Two P-3 Orion aircraft conducted aerial survey missions today in northern
Honshu. CTF-72 completed a relocation today of these two aircraft and four aircrews from
Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to Misawa Air Base.
o Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5)
ï‚§ March 17: In addition to helping with the Ronald Reagan strike groupâ€™s relief efforts, CVW 5
began the relocation of more than 50 tactical fixed-wing aircraft normally assigned to USS
George Washington from Naval Air Faculty (NAF) Atsugi to bases in Okinawa and Guam in
order to free up more ramp space at Atsugi that might be need to support ongoing
There is coverage here, here and here and there are a ton of pictures here.
The Australian is now reporting that the Japanese Government is asking for US military assistance with the worrisome situation at Fukushima. Also there are reports that US military personnel were involved in putting out one of the reactor fires.
There is an overview of radiation readings from around Japan here.
On top of everything else, the snow is a most unwelcome addition.
Operation Tomodachi logo via Chizumatic.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, although things are indeed bad and the damage is horrific, there is progress being made.
Japanese civil engineers FTW!
Three days, 23 1/2 hours later and they've already got the median hedge planted!
March 13, 2011
I found it via the comments section of this post over at Scott Lowthers place.
This one is fascinating for a number of reasons, not the least because it was filmed so close to the thing. It gives a good idea of the scale and power involved. Note the crane for reference on the water depth and that the "smoke" is actually dust from buildings being pulverized.
March 12, 2011
The ongoing situation is fluid and being widely covered. However, there is a bit more to this situation than current events, there is also the history of the facility.
Something about this plant rang a bell when I first heard it. Now I remember why. This plant has had a very chequred record.
In 1978 this plant had what Market Watch describes as an
accident at its Fukushima nuclear power plant resulted in an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction for more than seven hours that the company failed to report to the government.
The article goes on to say that there were close calls in '79 and '80 also involving control rods but no actual nuclear event occurred. (wrong geometry?) The article dates from 2007 and in that year there was, apparently, another problem with Fukushima involving procedures, but the I'm unclear on the details.
1978 was 33 years ago so I was curious how old the plant was. According to this site the reactor started up in 1970 or 1973. It was to be decommissioned some time this year.
It seems that TEPCO, the company that runs the plant has had a lot of issues with their older plants and actually lost their license to run 2 hydro-electric dams in 2007.
They were under intense scrutiny around that time and the Fukushima facility in particular seems to have been quite intensely audited, to the extent that two additional reactors being built there were delayed by at least a year for safety re-assessment. The two new reactors aren't going to be online before 2013, but that estimate was before the Sendai quake. Note that Wikipedia says that Unit 1 was to be deactivated later this month because of its age.
So there is a history of non-trivial operational screw ups with the company and this facility in particular but there Google and Bing yield no info on anything after 2008.
Some will no doubt charge that this may mean the change in government reduced oversight, but it might also mean that they had gotten there act well in order. Do note that the language barrier removes a lot of pertinent info from a search.
Of course being virtually at ground zero during an 8.9 9.0 is an extreme engineering challenge for anything. From what I have heard the plant suffered a full on, balls out enforcement of Murphys Law. The quake destroyed their primary coolant system and that horrific flaming tsunami destroyed all their backups. Everything was broken up by the quake and it appears that many of the plant workers were injured before the reactor issues even began.Especially given the age and utter obsolescence of the reactor the performance thus far is actually kind of impressive.The staff of the facility is certainly attempting to remedy the situation at great personal peril.
I have some questions about the design. I'm a layman in these matters so bear with me gentle reader, and if you note an error or have some answers, please avail yourself of the comments.
I wonder about the containment building. Most Japanese, French and American reactors have big containment buildings around the containment vessels shaped like pressure vessels, either big tank looking structures or art deco versions of Devils Tower. This plant SEEMS to have had a less robust containment structure than is the norm in newer reactors. This comment is based on nothing other than the reactor buildings boxy external appearance, which , if it represents the actual containment structure, is, all things being equal, less able to resist internal pressures than the spheres or cylinders that one sees in boilers for instance.
Jerry Pournelle has thoughts:
I am told that some areas around the threatened nuclear power plants are being evacuated. Given the chaotic conditions and limited resources in Japan -- there is no electricity in most of the devastated areas -- this is probably significant, but what it means isn't clear. For the record, I would never have been in favor of licensing nuclear power plants without more sturdy containment structures than appear to have been built at this plant -- but once again, I don't have an accurate picture of what containment structures they had. US regulations require that reactors be housed in very strong containments.
I understand that this reactor is a BWR (Boiling Water Reactor).
The US and France use mainly pressurized water reactors which add a second heat exchange stage that greatly increases complexity but increase the separation between radioactivity and the world.
I find it significant that even in naval nuclear subs where space is at a premium, the US, UK and France are said to use the more complex and bulkier pressurized water reactors. This may mean something.
Brian Wang has posts on this here here and here.
I find this passage of particular note:
The radiation is less than 1 per day. It takes 600 REM to kill
BP oil spill had deaths and more damage.
Which jives with a comment over at Bubbleheads blog where there is an extensive discussion by actual Navy Nukes.
"Something tells me to read "radiation levels" as "radioactivity levels"--big difference. I hope I'm not wrong about that.
3/11/2011 8:56 PM"
You're not wrong. This is simply a matter of the media not doing a follow up or any kind of research before sending out their latest press release. I could almost laugh at some of the misinformed sensational journalism I've seen today.
Allahpundit has a running post on this.
Japanese coverage is here, here and here.
UPDATE 2: One of the stranger comments on this catastrophe from our executive branch was SecState Clinton's announcement that the US Military had delivered "coolant" to this reactor. This was almost universally derided as the coolant for a BWR is water, and Japan is an bunch of islands. The running theory was that the US had delivered pumps. Now via RS McCain comes this interesting article by a member of the 3Mile Island investigative committee.
...so it seems our SecState was pretty close actually...certainly close enough for government work.
...Thatâ€™s why the experts didnâ€™t expect it because they are still thinking of how the plant can be saved, but it canâ€™t be.
Though the boiling water reactor has already been turned off by inserting neutron-absorbing control rods all the way into the core, adding boric acid or, more likely, sodium polyborate would turn the reactor off-er â€” more off than off â€” which could come in really handy in the event of a subsequent coolant loss, which reportedly has already happened. But thatâ€™s a $1 billion kill switch that most experts wouldnâ€™t think to pull.
Iâ€™m guessing the US Navy delivered a load of sodium polyborate from some nuclear aircraft carrier reactor supply room in the Pacific Fleet. Its use indicates that the nuclear threat is even worse than presently being portrayed in the news. Tokyo Electric Power Company has probably given-up any hope of keeping those cooling pumps on after the batteries fail. Eventually theyâ€™ll vent the now boron-laced coolant to the atmosphere to keep containment pressures under control.
While the Navy issue flea powder is a neutron inhibitor and not actually a coolant, by inhibiting the nuclear reaction it ought to help bring the temperature down quicker. So the SecStates statement is basically correct.
So they are scuttling at least one, possibly all of the reactors at the site by using a PWR neutron inhibitor that will destroy a BWR in order to prevent a major disaster.
It may be working.
March 11, 2011
This is awful.
I'm watching footage of this tsunami rolling across a rice paddy carrying what looks like a ferry.
It was felt in Beijing.
There is more here, here and here.
UPDATE 10:00 EST :
I just got in from work and it's even worse than I feared.
Japan has been dealt a grave blow.
Magnitude wise this is worse than the Great Kanto Quake, and it's the 5th most severe in history.
I'm sick at my stomach watching this.
It looks like Sendai has been utterly smashed.
The BBC roundup is here. They report that the Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered a coolant failure and a state of emergency has been declared, but there seems to have been no radiation release. UPDATE: Yet.
Passenger trains on coastal lines are reported....missing.
Danny Choo has pictures.
More pics here.
Tokyo was NOT hit by the worst of the quake, but damage was still very severe. There appear to be major fires in the area around the big Ferris wheel and the Tokyo Big Sight.
Keep in mind that Japan is the best in the world at earthquake preparedness. They have a crackerjack civil defense system and top notch building codes.....and yet...
This hurts to look at.
There have been no reported injuries of any 7th Fleet personnel, and no reported damage to 7th Fleet assets.
Ships in port Yokosuka stationed linehandlers to made adjustments as the water level changed in Yokosuka harbor. No damage has been reported to any of the ships.
Ships in Guam have been directed to sortie if feasible. Ships unable to sortie will initiate full personnel recalls and be standing by to adjust lines during changes in sea level.
CTF-72 (Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force) headquarters in Misawa was briefly evacuated. It continues to be without power and is operating from a generator
CTF-76 (Amphibious Force) headquarters in White Beach, Okinawa, has moved its watch to higher ground at Kadena AFB, Okinawa, in anticipation of the forecasted tsunami.
We are assessing the situation and positioning forces so that they are ready to respond and provide disaster relief if directed.
USS ESSEX, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, this morning. The ship is making preparations to depart as early as this evening.
USS BLUE RIDGE, which arrived in Singapore this morning, is onloading a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HADR) kit and making preparations to depart tomorrow morning.
USS TORTUGA, currently in Sasebo, Japan, is making preparations to embark LCUs and get underway as early as this evening.
We are initiating a full muster of all 7th Fleet personnel in Japan, and accounting for the condition of their family members.
To reiterate, this is simply a posturing of forces. We currently have no direction to conduct disaster response operations. Such a direction would come only following a request from the Government of Japan
Telephone lines in Japan are overwhelmed and the internet seems twitchy.
Google has set up a friend finder.
US Forces Japan have established OPERATION TOMODACHI and are set to provide relief if they are asked.
The Japan Red Cross site is offline as I type this.
UPDATE 2: 88,000 missing thus far.
UPDATE 3: USA Today has a list of charities.
It's dark there now. Many in Japan from Chiba to Iwate have no power and the only light they have is from burning buildings. Our Japanese friends are in for a very tough time.
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