The ongoing collapse of society, energy systems and the overall major parts of Japan’s civilization is worthy of greatest attention since the US is just one major geological event from a similar collapse. The financial situation of Japan is most dangerous but couple this with an energy catastrophe and you get a locked-down society. I just got an email from a reader who told me about the beginning of three hour rolling blackouts in Tokyo! One of the planet’s biggest cities. This will hammer all economic systems there. And imagine being in an elevator during one of these rolling blackouts! I lived through this in NYC when it was going bankrupt. Not pleasant at all.
So my greatest sympathies for the good people of Tokyo, Japan! In NYC, when we had these brown out/black outs, people went into the streets with flashlights at night to direct traffic, for example. Crime rapidly spun out of control. The city’s financial problems meant not fixing lights so when the last light on my own block went, the murder rate went upwards.
From a reader’s email: Rolling blackouts expected in Tokyo
- TOKYO — Residents in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area can expect rolling blackouts throughout the region starting Sunday, according to a Japanese newspaper report. Tokyo Electric might start cutting power to some home in the Kanto Plain area late Saturday, the Asahi Shimbun is reporting. Even hospitals in the area could lose power at times, the paper reported. Then, starting Sunday, homes could be without power for up to three hours at a time as rolling blackouts go into effect, the report said.
Keeping society going is a delicate business. Basically, as systems are built up and services established, they attract other parts and it is a growing, organic structure. Knock out any vital element and it can collapse rapidly into anarchy or worse. We saw this during the series of hyper-hurricanes several years ago. People were basically left stranded to fend for themselves. This is why we have to have some survivalist life skills.
As a person who has lived for many years in a tent complex we built out of discarded items and tarps while building a house (it took a decade due to my husband’s deteriorating health due to work-related accident) I know how hard life can be when there is no roof over the head. And the ability to heat a tent or get water (collecting rain!) is a life skill, but the victims of tsunamis have it very hard: the ocean destroys everything and grinds it down to a total mess and everything is polluted.
Hurricane victims have the same struggles after a tidal surge hammers them, too. But earthquake/tsunami events are particularly destructive. Where the water stops, the destruction continues. Much of northern Japan looks like Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped and parts of it look like a nuclear event because it is a nuclear event. One can quibble about what to call this event but when something nuclear has such a destructive event, it is…well, the world ‘explosive’ comes leaping out of the gyre of churning debris.
- The threat of further seismic shifts and tsunami is far from over. As rescue teams from more than 70 countries and tens of thousands of Japanese troops descended on the disaster zone, meteorological agency officials warned there was a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake striking the region in the next three days. “There will be many aftershocks in multiple locations. We have to brace ourselves for aftershocks of magnitude 5 or even magnitude 6,” an agency official said.
Already there have been nearly 300 5.0+ shakes. The entire island has shifted significantly. Some scientists are claiming this is really a 9.1 -9.0 event. One thing that comes to my mind is, when an entire island laced with many volcanoes shifts by 8 feet or more, some of these monsters who are connected to the underworld lava sources have now basically shifted sideways significantly.
This, in turn, basically, if you want to be Shinto about this, has woken up more than one Dragon. It may take some time (a geological microsecond but for us humans, a few days, weeks or months) for these sleeping destroyers to come alert and stretch out their wings. The one I am watching due to the location of a major part of these many aftershocks is Mt. Fuji. This mountain hasn’t exercised its executive powers of destruction for a very long time so it is due to erupt anytime now.
- The mountain as it appears now is the “New Fuji volcano”, which began to erupt about 10,000 years ago. Under the “New Fuji volcano” lies the “Komitake volcano”, which became active 7,000 years ago, and the “Old Fuji volcano”, which was active between 5,000 years ago and 1000 years ago. Around 100,000 years after becoming inactive, Komitake entered another period of activity. The volcano in this period is known as Old Fuji (古富士 kofuji?). Older Fuji was known as to have explosive eruptions, throwing out large quantities of scoria, volcanic ash and lava, forming a large mountain which reached a height of 3,100m.
- There has been much volcanic activity in the vicinity of Mount Fuji for several million years. 700,000 years ago, in the location occupied by the current Mount Fuji, a volcano known as Mount Komitake (小御岳火山?), literally meaning “small mountain volcano”, became active. Around this time, another volcano, Mount Ashitaka (愛鷹山?), in the area to the south-east of Mount Fuji, was also highly active. The peak of the ancient volcano, Komitake, can be seen from the north face of Mount Fuji at the fifth station, about 2300 meters above sea-level.
- The latest eruption, in 1707 (the 4th year of the Hōei era), was known as the great Hōei eruption. It followed several weeks after the Great Hōei earthquake:
- November 11, 1707 (Hōei 4, 14th day of the 10th month): The city of Osaka suffers tremendously because of a very violent earthquake. December 16, 1707 (Hōei 4, 23nd day of the 11th month): An eruption of Mt. Fuji; the cinders and ash fell like rain in Izu, Kai, Sagami, and Musashi. This eruption was remarkable in that it spread a vast amount of volcanic ash and scoria over a region as far away as Edo.
If I were going to place bets for ‘what will happen next’, this would be my choice. Geological and meteorological events often happen in close proximity to each other since they are large operations in the real world. This is why watching the earth is hyper-important. I will note a side effect of the stupidity of the Born Again Christian fatalists is to turn all of earth’s complex history and systems into childish constructs and fairy stories and now that they have some power, are cutting money for doing research and observation of this vital planet in favor of tax cuts. This is beyond stupid, it is suicidal.
Volcanoes are worse than storms and tsunamis and even earthquakes. They can blow up! Big time! They can dump mega-tons of heavy stuff on everything and bury entire civilizations into tombs for thousands of years. They can create more land or destroy land. They are extraordinarily destructive. Even human hydrogen bombs can’t beat a volcano when it comes to poisonous, super-hot gases and then dumping deep layers of debris on top of everything.
It seems that the eruption in 1707 was a ‘Plinian’ event. This refers to Mt. Vesuvius when a column of eruptive materials went all the way to the stratosphere and then spread out like a pine tree and then it suddenly collapsed downwards and roared across several Roman cities, killing everyone and covering the entire place in volcanic debris taller than the tallest houses.
This cut away diagram shows us something nasty: the top of ‘Old Fuji’ blew off exactly like Mt. Vesuvius. An even older volcano, Konitake, is displaced to the north. This means the hot spot where these volcanoes connect to the hot lava below has been steady while Japan has shifted position. With this latest shift, expect the volcano to be active again. It has been over 300 years, after all.
Two subduction troughs intersect right under Mt. Fuji. It is totally logical for these to now have increased stress on themselves, with the Sagami trough pivoting on the end of the Suruga/Nankai trough.
Mt. Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain which is another indication it may have a ‘leveling’ even where the mountain is made smaller by blowing the top literally off…again.
Now back to human-created catastrophes: Partial Meltdowns Presumed at Crippled Reactors – NYTimes.com
- Until late Sunday, the government had declared an emergency at only two nuclear plants, Daiichi and the nearby Fukushima Daini.
- Then, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Japan had added a third to the list because radiation had been detected outside the plant, which is about 60 miles from Sendai, a city of 1 million people in Japan’s northeast. The government did not immediately confirm the report from the I.A.E.A., which said it was not yet clear what caused the release of radiation.
- Soon after that announcement, Kyodo News reported that a plant about 75 miles north of Tokyo was having cooling system problems.
So, the mess is popping up here, there and everywhere. Naturally, an earthquake does special things like cracking stuff. This is a huge problem for nuclear power plants. Here is a video of an expert who seems to agree with me:
Yes, the condition of the rods may resemble the tsunami mess on the shorelines. That is, it is no longer a structure. And yes, pouring in sea water is a problem (salt, anyone?) so this has to be neutralized with boron. But will it work? No way of knowing except in the absence of an event, namely, the things don’t blow away everyone in a cloud of nuclear junk. So it might work. On the other hand, it might not work. In this case, uncertainty is a danger in itself.
Who wants to run an energy system this prone to impossible situations? That is, if all goes well, nothing bad happens. But if something bad happens, many bad things can happen and not only is this hard to stop or contain, you often can’t even know what the hell is going on! Intolerable. Volcanoes have the excuse, they are natural processes that have been ongoing for eons and we just have to learn to live with this.
- UPDATE AS OF 8:30 A.M. EDT, SUNDAY, MARCH 13:
- Tokyo Electric Power Co. continues to implement emergency cooling and pressure relief operations at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. In addition, at Fukushima Daini, three reactors remain shut down. They have electrical power available at Daini, but the suppression water pools used for reactor cooling are saturated at both sites.
- Fukushima Daiichi: There is a state of emergency declared at Fukushima Daiichi 1, 2 and 3. The company is venting containment structures at reactors 1 and 3. Reactor 3 uses mixed-oxide fuel. Electrical power is not available at any of the reactors at this site and there is not backup power available at Units 1, 2 and 3. TEPCO has been pumping seawater into reactors 1 and 3 to maintain cooling and there is some uranium fuel rod damage suspected at both reactors. Public evacuation has been ordered and executed in a 12-mile radius and there have been low levels of radiation released into the environment as a result of venting and the explosion at Unit 1 secondary containment. The maximum reported dose at the site is 128 millirem per hour, which is less than the annual average dose for commercial airline flight crews and far less than the radiation the average American is exposed to per year from all sources (see the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Web page on radiation protection). One worker at the site has received a radiation dose of 10.6 rem.
- Fukushima Daini: There is a state of emergency at Units 1, 2 and 4 and evacuation has been ordered and executed for 2.5 miles around the plant. There has been no radioactive release reported at the site. There is electric power available at all four reactors at the site, but there is limited use of cooling water pumps at Units 1, 2 and 4 due to damage from the tsunami. The suppression pools are saturated at all three reactors.
- Comments from Japanese officials:
- The company is providing seawater and boron for core cooling at Fukushima Daiichi units 1 and 3 and is venting containment at the reactors, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, said on Sunday. Officials are acting on the assumption that a meltdown could be underway at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3. “Unlike the No.1 reactor, we ventilated and injected water at an early stage,” Edano said.
- Authorities are preparing to distribute iodine to protect people from radioactive exposure.
- The blackouts are necessary because of the closure of the nuclear power plants as a result of Friday’s earthquake in northern Japan, the report said. The electric company said it simply will not be able to keep up with the demand for power, and is asking residents to turn off all necessary lights.
- The 10
B isotope is good at capturing thermal neutrons. Natural boron is about 20% 10
B. The nuclear industry enriches natural boron to nearly pure 10
B. The less-valuable by-product, depleted boron, is nearly pure 11
B (see below). Enriched boron or 10
B is used in both radiation shielding and in boron neutron capture therapy. In the latter, a compound containing 10
B is attached to a muscle near a tumor. The patient is then treated with a relatively low dose of thermal neutrons. This causes energetic and short range alpha radiation from the boron to bombard the tumor.
In nuclear reactors, 10
B is used for reactivity control and in emergency shutdown systems. It can serve either function in the form of borosilicate control rods or as boric acid. In pressurized water reactors, boric acid is added to the reactor coolant when the plant is shut down for refueling. It is then slowly filtered out over many months as fissile material is used up and the fuel becomes less reactive.
I used to take iodine pills when I was young. Same reasons, too (nuclear bomb garbage!). That is, careless humans did nasty things. Anyway, this is going to hammer Japan’s economy, big time, as Tokyo shuts down. And note the words from the nuclear power organization’s own website: there was an EXPLOSION. Yup. Bang.
And the rods melted. Yes indeed. But just wait until Mt. Fuji explodes. That will be huge.