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Elite squad of technicians face fire, radiation and exhaustion in cramped and potentially lethal conditions to cool reactors.
The men and women struggling to avert disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are becoming the faceless heroes of the worst nuclear industry crisis in Japan’s history.
The 70 or so technicians and engineers, known as the Fukushima 50, have been working under the constant threat of radiation sickness, fires and explosions since they became the sole occupants of an area that has become a no-go zone for tens of thousands of petrified residents.
With more than 700 of their colleagues pulled out to safety, the workers are fighting a lonely battle on several fronts in the war against nuclear meltdown. Their workload is heavy, but the weight of expectation, in Japan and around the world, is greater still.
For all their bravery, little is known about the workers themselves. Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] has released few details of its elite team, other than those pertaining to the task ahead: to cool overheating reactors and storage pools, and avert disaster.
They are working in hot, cramped conditions, clad in white, full-body jumpsuits and working in shifts to prevent contamination and exhaustion. They are equipped with respirators and torches, and when radiation doses rise tohazardous levels, as they did on Wednesday morning, they must be ready to take refuge in safer areas of the complex. The operation has already taken its toll. Eleven people, including members of the Japan Self-Defence Forces, were injured in a hydrogen explosion at its No 3 reactor.
Other nuclear power employees, as well as the wider population, can only look on in admiration. “The people working at these plants are fighting without running away,” Michiko Otsuki, an employee at the nearby Fukushima Daini plant, wrote on the Japanese social networking site Mixi. “Please don’t forget that there are people who are working to protect everyone’s lives in exchange for their own.”
The prime minister, Naoto Kan, who has reportedly criticised Tepco executives for their handling of the crisis, has only praise for their employees. They are “doing their utmost”, Kan said, “even at this moment, without even thinking twice about the dangers”.
For as long as the workers remain inside the plant they will mitigate the substantial risks to their health by “dose sharing” – or splitting their time between areas of high and low levels of radioactivity – according to Dr Ian Haslam, head of radiation protection at the University of Leeds. But abandoning the operation could spell disaster, he said. “They need to be at the plant to take the measures to keep it under control.
“If you let it go, it will get hotter and hotter, there’s a risk of fire, and you’re changing from this present rate of release, which is worrying but at a relatively low risk, to something that becomes a higher risk both now and in the future.”
Andriy Chudinov, one of the first workers to enter the Chernobyl power plant in 1986, said his Japanese counterparts were, if anything, even more courageous. “These are good guys,” he said. “After all, they have had it even worse than we did. They had a tsunami first and now there are several reactors with problems. That’s a nightmare for any atomic worker.”
David Brenner, the director of radiological research at Columbia Service, pointed to the significant risks the workers are taking with their health.
“In many ways they are already heroes,” he told the BBC World Service. “[They] are going to be suffering very high radiation exposures.”
Meanwhile, 500 bone marrow transplant centres across 27 European countries have been put on alert to treat nuclear power station workers whose lives may be threatened in the battle to avoid a meltdown. The European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation offered to treat 200 to 300 patients if necessary.
“After a person has been radiated, you have three to four days before they’re on the cusp of severe complications,” said Ray Powles, chair of its nuclear accident committee. “At that point, they could be put on a flight to Europe if Japanese facilities are overwhelmed.”
images are from various sources from the internet
My homegrown beansprout
Like many others who live in the city, we only have a small garden. Actually, it never did cross my mind of how small our garden is, until we decided to plant our own organic vegetables three years ago. Is there any herb or vegetable that can be grown without taking too much space for the city folk?
Last week, Mom soaked a bowl of green beans overnight for her ‘bubur kacang’. Anyway she was so busy the next day that she forgot all about them after straining the beans into a colander. The next day she found that her bowlful of green beans had grown tiny roots. So, instead of cooking them, she gave me the beans for my “experiments’.
And I decided to grow beansprout. I found out that growing green beans into beansprouts is certainly very easy. All I did was running tap water over the colanders (with the beans) every 4-6 hours or so. Don’t try to move the beans/seedlings around with your hands (you may feel tempted to do so, but you may pull out their roots). Put a plate under the colander to collect the water dripping from the colander.
In a few days, the roots will be long enough to reach out of the colander into the plate of water below it. Even at this stage, I still ‘water’ the sprouts but I suppose you could leave it on its own. Another thing to remember is not to put too much beans in one colander. When that happens, the beans on the top couldn’t get enough water while the beans at the bottom may rot.
Another good point in growing beansprouts is that you can plan when to start growing them so that the beansprout will be really fresh when needed. Soak the beans overnight about 5 days ahead and they should be ready to be harvested on time. And trust me, fresh home grown beansprouts are so tasty, crunchy and without that ‘commercial beansprout smell’ that even I who never like beansprouts before ate loads of them.
Fresh, homegrown, organic beansprout in mum’s delicious fried noodle.
So with the price of vegetables rising up and the concern of the high level of chemical contamination in our vegetables, it will be a very good idea to grow our own vegetables. And if space is a problem, try growing beansprouts; you can even grow them in your apartment balcony, kitchen or even in your dining room! It is really cheap and easy while the result is absolutely wonderful. Maybe I should start a business selling tasty, fresh, home-grown, organic beansprouts … after all fresh, organic vegetables can fetch a good price in today’s market!
Apakah perlu kita berkejar pergi isi minyak penuh-penuh setiap kali pengumuman (atau khabar) bahawa harganya akan naik? [RON97 – Naik Lagi Untuk 4 Bulan Berturut]
Itulah yang kita lihat setiap kali ianya berlaku. Apabila tersebar khabaran kenaikan harga minyak maka kita akan lihat deretan kereta beratur untuk isi minyak di stesen-stesen minyak.
Apakah ianya suatu yang perlu dilakukan? Saya adalah salah seorang yang tidak akan “perecung” (sengaja) keluar rumah semata-mata untuk isi minyak kerana harga minyak akan naik dalam beberapa jam lagi.
Untuk pergi dan balik ke stesen minyak yang terdekat dengan rumah saya, jaraknya ialah hampir 3 km. Saya terpaksa melalui 3 persimpangan lampu isyarat sehala dan beberapa persimpangan yang perlu saya memberhenti dan/atau memperlahankan kenderaan.
Di stesen minyak mungkin sudah ada satu dua kenderaan yang menunggu di depan. Dengan engin yang masih hidup saya terpaksa menunggu giliran yang mungkin juga memakan masa 5 – 10 minit.
Untuk ke stesen minyak, jaraknya 1.5km = 3km untuk pergi dan balik. Dengan terpaksa berhenti di beberapa lampu isyarat serta memperlahankan kenderaan untuk beberapa persimpangan dan menunggu giliran di stesen minyak mungkin akan membakar sekitar 2-4 liter minyak.
Kalau harga minyak RM2.40/liter, 2 liter = RM4.80 atau 4 liter = RM9.60. Penjimatan saya hanyalah RM7.50. Apakah ianya berbaloi?
Itu apabila tangki minyak saya yang besar, 75 liter. Bagi kebanyakan kenderaan kita, isipadu tangkinya adalah sekitar 40 – 55 liter sahaja (e.g. Saga 40 liter, Waja/Gen2/Persona 50 liter, Exora 55 liter). Maka penjimatan dengan harga lama ialah sekitar RM4.00 – RM5.50 sahaja. Kirakan pula dengan pembakaran minyak yang perlu untuk pergi, beratur dan balik.
Jika rumah kita hanya sebelah stesen minyak, maka mungkin ianya berbaloi, jika kita dapat lihat stesen itu tidak sibuk dan tidak perlu beratur.
ATAU, sememangnya kita hendak ke sesuatu tempat atau balik dari mana-mana, maka wajarlah untuk kita lencong untuk berhenti memanfaatkan harga yang masih rendah itu.
Kalau betul-betul kita seorang yang peka dengan penjimatan wang, maka banyak lagi caranya untuk kita bertindak dan waspada.
Bagi mereka yang merokok – tidak perlulah saya sebutkan di sini berapa banyak wang yang dihanguskan – tertakluk kepada berapa batang/kotak satu hari.
Selamat menjadi pengguna yang berhemah.
p.s – bayangkan banyak mana pembakaran yang membazir dan mencemarkan alam sekitar semata-mata kerana mahu dijimatkan seringgit dua …
[gambar-gambar diambil dari carian google images - tidak dapat dipastikan samada deretan kenderaan beratur kerana kenaikan harga minyak atau tidak]
Posting berkaitan: RON97 – Naik Lagi Untuk 4 Bulan Berturut
May these video clips be a lesson to all of us …
It is time to change our lifestyle …
These are the selected video documentaries out of hundreds that you may find from youtube:
You may also read more about it here:
1. at Wikipedia
Here is MJ’s contribution:
UN’s Ban calls Aral Sea ‘shocking disaster’
NUKUS, Uzbekistan – The drying up of the Aral Sea is one of the planet’s most shocking environmental disasters, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday as he urged Central Asian leaders to step up efforts to solve the problem.
Once the world’s fourth-largest lake, the sea has shrunk by 90 percent since the rivers that feed it were largely diverted in a Soviet project to boost cotton production in the arid region.
The shrunken sea has ruined the once-robust fishing economy and left fishing trawlers stranded in sandy wastelands, leaning over as if they dropped from the air. The sea’s evaporation has left layers of highly salted sand, which winds can carry as far away as Scandinavia and Japan, and which plague local people with health troubles.
Ban toured the sea by helicopter as part of a visit to the five countries of former Soviet Central Asia. His trip included a touchdown in Muynak, Uzbekistan, a town once on the shore where a pier stretches eerily over gray desert and camels stand near the hulks of stranded ships.
“It is clearly one of the worst disasters, environmental disasters of the world. I was so shocked,” he said.
The Aral Sea catastrophe is one of Ban’s top concerns on his six-day trip through the region and he is calling on the countries’ leaders to set aside rivalries to cooperate on repairing some of the damage.
However, cooperation is hampered by disagreements over who has rights to scarce water and how it should be used.
In a presentation to Ban before his flyover, Uzbek officials complained that dam projects in Tajikistan will severely reduce the amount of water flowing into Uzbekistan. Impoverished Tajikistan sees the hydroelectric projects as potential key revenue earners.
Competition for water could become increasingly heated as global warming and rising populations further reduce the amount of water available per capita.
Water problems also could brew further dissatisfaction among civilians already troubled by poverty and repressive governments; some observers fear that could feed growing Islamist sentiment in the region.
That is likely to be an especially tense issue when he meets Monday with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who has led the country since the 1991 Soviet collapse and imposed severe pressure on opposition and civil rights activists.
The meeting comes less than two weeks after the U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a report criticizing Uzbekistan, including calling for fuller investigation of the brutal suppression of a 2005 uprising in the city of Andijan. Opposition and rights groups claim that hundreds were killed, but authorities insist the reports are exaggerated and angrily reject any criticism.