Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Japan to Tennessee

McCollum Terrific article at Bloomberg that takes a first try at crafting a minute by minute account of what happened at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11. Full of interesting details I did not know, including this bit about the number of workers at the plant that day:

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi station had 6,415 people on site that day. More than 5,500, like Matsumoto and Imamura, were subcontractors who reported to their clusters of offices in the plant for a head count.

It’s a big plant, but that’s a gigantic number. Then, this, following the earthquake:

After the head counts, thousands of subcontractors left to check if families were safe…

Before the tsunami struck.

Almost 1,500 town residents were killed or are listed as missing, out of a national toll exceeding 26,000.

After the tsunami.

I doubt Tepco knows for sure how many of its contractors were caught by the tsunami and the story doesn’t hazard a guess. Let’s hope all made it away safely.

It’s a long, detailed story and worth reading complete. Since so much of it is told by workers and others who went through the ordeal, verifiable truth takes second seat to impressions of the day. But it’s true enough – an emotional truth. A full accounting of that day and its impact on Japan Fukushima Prefecture will wait.

I’m not sure why, but Bloomberg does not credit a writer or team of writers. Hopefully, it will rectify that.

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After the events at Fukushima Daiichi, TVA felt the heat from (one of) its local newspapers, The Nashville Tennesseean. So Bill McCollum, TVA’s COO, took a shot at responding:

Upon hearing about damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the Tennessee Valley Authority assembled a team of nuclear experts to assess the situation and begin evaluating how lessons learned from Japan could help make TVA plants safer and more reliable.

And the result?

Our initial review indicates TVA's plants can withstand earthquakes, tornadoes and floods that are far more severe than any recorded in our area. Our plants also have redundant backup power and emergency systems — beyond those the Fukushima plant is believed to have — to keep our reactors, fuel pools and other facilities secure if something were to go wrong.

But he is the COO of TVA. Cynics will doubt:

Based on what we learn from Japan, the U.S. probably will develop modifications to provide nuclear plants in this country with even greater margins of safety. But looking for ways to make nuclear plants safer and more reliable is nothing new. It's part of our daily business at TVA and at nuclear plants across America.

You can read the whole thing for more. McCollum does a great job with keeping his statements clear and direct and he tries to forestall cynicism by noting that you don’t really have to trust him. Others have open eyes, too.

TVA’s Bill McCollum

1 comment:

Joffan said...

Bloomberg's attributions for the story are at the end:
To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Clenfield in Tokyo at jclenfield@bloomberg.net Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at thyuga@bloomberg.net Yuji Okada at yokada6@bloomberg.net Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at palpeyev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Langan at plangan@bloomberg.net