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Absorbent yet to soak up radioactive water at Fukushima plant

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Early on, the company ran out of full radiation suits, forcing workers to create improvised versions of items such as nylon booties they were supposed to pull over their shoes.

And amazingly, this is the biggest Power Company in Asia, and one of Japans' richest corporations. Does ANYONE out there have confidence that this mob - who evidently have no training in disasters and radiation management - can rectify this unprecedented problem?

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I think this problem will continue for probably another 2 years or so. Seems like everything that they are doing does not work at all.

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If there really is only one crack, they will figure it out.

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"Early on, the company ran out of full radiation suits, forcing workers to create improvised versions of items such as nylon booties they were supposed to pull over their shoes."

Ah, good old TEPCO.

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Early on, the company ran out of full radiation suits, forcing workers to create improvised versions of items such as nylon booties they were supposed to pull over their shoes.

A legacy of good ol' nice guy, Mr. Masataka 'Cost-cutter' Shimizu, the absent CEO. And no-one thought to ask any of the other nuclear utilities in Japan for some, or ordered any urgently?

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So now we get a radioactive lump 50 X the volume of the water! WTF will they do with that?

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It's the polymer that expands up to 50X, not the water. Like those little dinosaurs you put in a glass of water and they get bigger.

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"Early on, the company ran out of full radiation suits, forcing workers to create improvised versions of items such as nylon booties they were supposed to pull over their shoes."

I don't know how many radiation suits they had. I don't know how many are normal, how easy it is to fly in or organize it and so on. So many things that I don't know that I'm not ready to jump on TEPCO for everything yet.

Been paying a lot of attention to how the media works recently though. Like the title to this piece. "Engineers fail to seal crack" It could be titled "Attempt to seal crack fails." The news is a trip, all these people all over this board talking about conspiracy within TEPCO and the Japanese government when the news is wrapping the truth to make a buck.

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According to a TEPCO worker featured in an article in Today's Japan Times, workers have been using plastic garbage bags to protect there feet when wading in radioactive water.

Today's Daily Yomiuri had a feature article that catalogues all of TEPCO's screw-up right from 11 March.

When the Yomiuri is not happy with a big business you know things are less than wonderful.

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A last stop gap action would be to use the "mud" they use for oil rigs which solidifies in saltwater. It would slow the leak, but may not stop it.

As far as the protection from radioactive water, they need to get a supplier of fishermen s' gear to get hip boots and rubber overcoats. Logistics must be a nightmare.

Too many problems may be aggravating the situation at this point.

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I remember the TEPCO 2IC on the television the other night assuring everyone how the radiation leaking into the ocean would be quickly diluted by the ocean. What a nice guy!

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Not enough suits and that must be a basic requirement when operating a N-plant. Sending in more workers without giving them equipment...come on. It has been reported that they fully expect to die, that is heartbreaking. They are National Heroes, and management are National criminals who may/should face crimes against humanity charges before this is over, in an International court, please. Maybe a fine 10% loss of wages for a month or two.

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KansaiTruth: " That is is the dumbest comment I've heard all week, and it is only Sunday!"

Hang on a second.... methinks this is simply a reactionary response to the comment I made earlier about yours being the dumbest of the week. I'm rubber, your glue... bla bla bla.

"You might be amusing yourself, but most other posters can only shake their heads at the nonsense you post."

YOU are one person, not most other posters; don't kid yourself by pretending others feel as you do. All I said, was, "Ah, good old TEPCO" and yet you have made it your mission to imply you know what was meant by it. Again, you're just angry about what I said earlier... and that's all.

"Why don't you try either donating to the cause, or taking the sarcase elsewhere - like your own closet - 'til the crisis is over?!?"

What's a sarcase? In any case I have donated, numerous times, and have volunteered to go help (was rejected as I am not a professional). I've even stood at the local train station collecting money to send to Tohoku. What have you done?

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Damn! My bad again! It wasn't this week you posted an outrageous comment about potentially irradiated Japanese products being banned in revenge for them banning US beef, it was yesterday and technically last week!

Do you still think nations outside Japan being strict on Japanese imports is the result of them banning US beef? :) Please...

The fact remains that TEPCO has made mistakes time and time again, before this, and during this crisis. Your comments about US beef don't change that, and your being embarrassed by your comments won't change it either.

Moderator: Enough of this. Please focus your comments on the story and not at other posters.

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@BurakuminDes and to you other guys:

I've read and following this disaster from the very start, and yes, you can have your opinions about how TEPCO has handle the crisis; however i think you're absolute not the right guy to judge what's best for the situation - and im also telling you other the same thing.

Not that im defending TEPCO, however, they're risking their lives, and even if the workers not dies immediately, they maybe do after 20 - 50 years - just consider that.

When seeing those "experts" writing in this comment section, and how "they would have done" just makes me more depressed than the article itself.

My heart belongs to Japan, and the people, my family down there and those workers, and i fully understand their situation. I really hope this is a little step forward a final solution to end this crisis - you have to take it step by step. I want to try to see a gleam of hope, and i believe there will be an end sooner or later. You guys should worry more for those powerfully aftershocks that can trigger tsunamis and even destroy the reactor yet more.

Thank you.

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NukeDuke: "Not that im defending TEPCO..."

Nice handle, given the situation! So, you're not defending TEPCO but you're criticizing those who do not defend them? Seems a bit odd, no? No one, not a single soul, has criticized the people on the ground, working for TEPCO -- be it for 400,000 yen a day or because they'll get fired if they don't go there. What people are criticizing is management and as such the company itself, which... hey... where is Shimizu? But, go ahead and do tell us how the people who sent in workers with inadequate equipment due to cost-cutting are heroes.

You're right in that we should all look towards hope and wish for the best, but to forgive those that created the problem in the first place would be remiss.

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When they stop the leak, what will they do with all that accumulating radioactive water?

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"But, go ahead and do tell us how the people who sent in workers with inadequate equipment due to cost-cutting are heroes. " What else would they do? Let the reactor shout down by itself? You take what you have. Right?

All im saying is that this kind of critic does not helps at all, it just building up the already depressed feeling among the victims, both in and abroad Japan.

I can sit here on my butt and complain over how unfair the worlds economy is; but what does that helps, unless im taking action in the matter?

And yes, im NOT defending TEPCO, i do have my opinion about their actions; but im pointing the discussion into an another direction, rater than focusing on everything bad; im trying to create some hope instead - that's why the Japanese people are so calm, they don't focusing on the negative all the time, even in crisis like this.

Thank you.

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I live 35 miles from Dai-ichi, I'm still here and absolutely salute the low-level workers there at the coal-face - risking their futures, like the two poor young men mentioned in another article. They deserve better.

My gripe is with the management of TEPCO, and the Japanese govt. who have clearly not taken ownership of this crisis. Not having adequate safety gear for these poor men is absolutely unforgivable. It is almost impossible to be optimistic with TEPCO management still calling the shots here, throwing men into a situation they have made more dangerous for.

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"Engineers will inject the polymeric water absorbent used for diapers into pipes leading to a pit connected with the No.2 reactor building"

That oughta do it!

thepro - When they stop the leak, they're going to hope the radioctive water will dissipate into the vast sea.

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Burakumin - You live 56 km from Daiichi? Heck, that's only 26 km farther than even the Japanese government has recommended evacuation. I hope those reactors don't completely melt down and spew the radiation past your place.

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There needs to be some kind of an international rapid response team equipped with the best tools and supplies to go into these dangerous zones. Obviously it isn't the workers fault that they are sacrificing themselves because of a lack of planning for the worst case scenario.

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Screw "the company" just nationalize it, right now. By force. State capitalism is always superior to private enterprise.

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So do we Sarge! But the big problem will be in that 20/30 km radius, and at the moment it's not looking good in terms of people moving back in there any time in the future. We are lucky compared to those folk, and the poor folk up north.

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Moral to the story - do not stack or make a column of 5-6 nuclear reactors together in an Earthquake prone country. A country that set a world record for the new magnitude of 9.5 earthquake, the worst Tsunami in the world, & thinking man can solve every natural disaster.

Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel and say sh!t happens !!!!

2 reactors are good------

I don't blame Tepco, I blame the Earthquke with no name or title.

Man made stuff (sh!t) will always lose against the powers of natural disasters.

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Burakumin -

I live 35 miles from Dai-ichi, I'm still here,

I take my hat off to you sir. Courage under fire and all that !!!!

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@NukeDuke: Hear Hear. Nothing to add to your balanced, well thought out comments, I totally agree.

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First, to salute the the brave 50...you are playing your heroic partII NukeDuke, nobody is doing PR for government or TEPCO here. Nobody is even bashing. I think people are just informing debate, throwing opinions on table and suggesting alternatives, which to me is excellent! That is what this platform is meant for!! It is evident that not enough safety measures and disaster preparedness strategies were put in place prior, given the highly potentially dangerous nuclear energy source Japan heavily relies on. I don't belong to the crop who continue to massage incompetence, negligence and lack of foresight in whatever name. All the measures now being applied are 'knee-jack' reactions, rather than preplanned contingency measures. NOW they are blocking the cracks, calling this a big find and celebrating overnight. How about if the cause of the crack was not indeed because of the Tsunami, but the pressure inside the reactor? Aren't we going to see another blast in a short time bigger than any we have seen, with even more spew of the dangerous radiations? How about if the crack is because of new earth movements beneath the ground where the nuclear reactor sits? Japan relies mostly on nuclear energy and we would like to see a better integrated nuclear energy safety management strategy than the third grade stuff we are witnessing here. Everybody knows Japan sits on a time bomb (huge earthquakes prone zone). But Japan is not a developing country and deserves better than this.

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NukeDuke: "I can sit here on my butt and complain over how unfair the worlds economy is; but what does that helps, unless im taking action in the matter?"

True enough, but I'm not talking about complaining, I'm talking about investigating the matter and finding out the facts. Sitting on your butt at home and praying the economy gets better instead of looking into how it got so bad in the first place and trying to fix it won't help much either, will it?

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Well the new plan failed. What's next calling in Doraemon or Totoro?

Burakumindes, I tip my hat to you, and so does my son! Hang in there my friend.

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BurakuminDes: "I live 35 miles from Dai-ichi, I'm still here and absolutely salute the low-level workers there at the coal-face - risking their futures, like the two poor young men mentioned in another article. They deserve better."

My thoughts are with you, brother. Hang in there.

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"go ahead and do tell us how the people who sent in workers with inadequate equipment due to cost-cutting are heroes. "

You assume it's from cost cutting. How do you know they didn't have more suits than regulations require? I think of the tao water here that was over the limit and people panicked only to read that it was still under most countries legal limits.

If TEPCO was negligent it will be delt with, not by the people on this board, or some interntational group, by Japan.

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A vivid example can help to put into context of the unpreparedness! The americans and NATO are sending missiles 3000 km off the cost of Libya to targets with pinpoint precision. Their equipment can even enable them see a fly perched in Gadafi's suit. Japan does not even seem to have equipment to see what is happening at the plant unless they send in the brave 50 or use helicopter to fly on top!!!!!!! Massive leakages of dangerous radiations have been doing the news rounds for long now and they seem to have just found it yesterday. The last time I checked, NHK was showing one of the workers looking through a magnifying gadget a la stuff used for game viewing in Africa!!! Ostensibly, he was trying to check the goings on at the 4 reactors. Give me a break! No wonder he could not find the cracks. Either Japan is ready for nuclear energy or it is not. We cannot use cutting edge energy technology but use stone age safety management strategies. Somebody has to be held accountable. Sorry!

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@SmithInJapan: Yeah, i see your point; and im absolutely understand it. However, there's not much we can do abut it anyway; it's up to the gov to make it happen, right? So why not bring some small light into this, instead of darken it yet more? That's what my friends and family up there tells me.

@Japan123: How about if mount Fuji explode? Of course we have to consider everything, i wrote two messages ago that we should worry more about the aftershocks. And the blocking of the crack is INDEED a small step forward in the progress, isn't it? Or should they just leave the crack open? Decide for yourself, but i do agree Japan could ask for more help outside the country, e.g

@Wiskeysour: The 9.5 mag. earthquake you're talking about rocked Chile back in 1965 (or 1964), and was the largest earth quake ever, since the continental fault of Chile is larger than 10000km, and magnitude are independent on the fault's length, it's very unlikely that Japan will suffer a greater earthquake than 9.3.

Thank you for discussion this.

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Cheers Smith and Mukai. Let's all just hope - and cross our fingers - things begin to get better soon, and the TEPCO management start doing the right thing and taking the correct advice. However, the government is now stating that the radiation leak may take several months to contain...

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I am Done In.... How is it Possible for a multi Billion Dollar Company to run out of full radiation suits, forcing workers to create improvised versions of items such as nylon booties they were supposed to pull over their shoes...... I can't even think right now...............People please get as far away from TEPCO as possible.............. I can't believe it............

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BurakuminDes: "However, the government is now stating that the radiation leak may take several months to contain..."

I think it would be more correct to say they are now ADMITTING, not saying. Other nations have been warning about such things for the better part of a month while the government here and TEPCO have been saying there is no threat to health. If you can, get out, my friend.

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Heard a plausible idea on another site: molten lead. It's fully liquid yet solidifies rapidly and would create a full barrier permeating even small crevices. It could be delivered by bucket-carrying helicopters. Best of all, its not diapers, sawdust and shredded newspaper.

DIAPERS, SAWDUST and SHREDDED NEWSPAPER! By the way, need some Shoe Goo with those plastic baggies?

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Utrack, now ur talking and thats is what baffles everybody. TEPCO has been long on celebrating the monopoly and short on putting into place sustainable integrated safety measures that live the test of time and strengthen its position as the best service provider in the business of a super power

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Utrack at 11:23 PM JST - 3rd April I am Done In.... How is it Possible for a multi Billion Dollar Company to run out of full radiation suits

Lack of available info. to those who don't NEED to know has resulted in comments like yours. In reality, TEPCO actually had more than enough suits available. However, some were stored in a facility close to the reactor site so they didn't bother trying to retreive them as they are working from a remote facility and won't waste time trying to decontaminate the suits (if they are even comtaminated). There were also suits stored in a couple buildings near the reactor but those buildings (which were built higher than 10m) were actually destroyed by the tsunami. Within a couple days, TEPCO had tons of new suits available on site as the US sent a whole plane load of suits and other needed gear to the area.

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'60 kilograms of sawdust and three bags of shredded newspaper' I don't know if I should laugh or cry? Get a team of men on diggers-dig a perimeter trench and line it with heavy duty plastics.Dig a channel from the plant to the trench.Release into trench and then pump the water into holding containers as necessary. And 'nylon booties?' if Japan doesn't have the necessary suit protection get it from Russian sources -Nuclear Manzai?

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Hope everybody who needs an escape route has one.....

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Societymike..... If you read this article the last sentence says: Early on, the company ran out of full radiation suits, forcing workers to create improvised versions of items such as nylon booties they were supposed to pull over their shoes......

So cut the bashing......

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Utrack: "So cut the bashing......"

So... no commenting on the many, many TEPCO flubs up to now if they were in the past?

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There is no room for measures. TEPCO always covers up everything, so they lose the trust Janan people. Why does they notice the fact?

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Smithinjapan..... I was being bashed on commenting about the TEPCO flubs

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societymike: "In reality, TEPCO actually had more than enough suits available. However, some were stored in a facility close to the reactor site so they didn't bother trying to retreive them as they are working from a remote facility...."

So... they had more than enough suits available... but they just weren't available? Nice defense, societymike.

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"The water in the pit is believed to have come from the No. 2 reactor core, where fuel rods have partially melted.""

Given, alongside the effort aimed to plug leak, it would be better off pumping out the radioactive water from the basement ASAP.

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San Francisco and Berkeley already have thousands of times the safe level of radioactive iodine in the rainwater. The Governor of Virginia is telling people not drink the rainwater. Philadephia also has high levels. Yet, the US federal government, like the Japan government is more concerned with crowd control, than getting the true data out to the people.

The toxins from these nuclear plants will affect everywhere the jetstream goes around the world, poisoning our food and water.

This is the time in history when people need to stand up, and demand the abolishment of all nuclear industry.

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This TEPCO disaster, the BP oil spill, the US financial crisis, China's housing bubble, wars in the middle east and many other man-made disasters are all the direct result of neoliberal capitalism. And when it completely fails, as it is now, then we can change the world for the better.

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puaokalani.......What....Philadelphia, Philly's got Pharmaceuticals in their water because the water treatment facilities reuse water thats been used..... Ergo when you urinate ...... If you take Pharaceuticals, some of that stuff ends up in the city water..... I know it sounds nasty but it is what it is.....I Use a faucet filter.....

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Sure is fearmongering in here

You're supposed to use a filler material with polymer absorbents or it coagulates right away - sawdust and newspaper is standard fare. And yes, it is used in diapers. What's the problem? Obviously it's not a constant flow but a pool from earlier spraying, so using the absorbent first is the right thing to do. But you know, don't let facts get in the way guys

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From the picture top left, it appears the pit is chock full of cement. I can't see that leaking much water.

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If the main point of the storage pool to have water is for cooling the fuel rods, why don't they have a few powerful refrigeration units exude very cold air in the location and insulate the cold in.

Large refrigeration units are used sometimes in training people for arctic conditions.

At the moment, a heavy downpour of rain might well flood the oceans with highly toxic water and inconvenience work. With refrigeration they can cut back on the water and have a temporary roof on. It would be safer for their workers too. We want refrigeration, yes, and Reactor Cam maybe. More pictures of Daiichi nuclear power site, please, if it is safe to do so.

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Looks like they are trying to cover up the earthquake damage at this point to protect their industry. I would like to see a picture of the damage before it was covered in concrete. They have been pumping 4000 gallons per minute per reactor for almost 3 weeks, where do you think they have been storing this water? It's has to be contained. The ocean is not the nuclear industries dumping ground.

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The crack in the pit, leading to the sea, isn't the real source of the problem: that lies somewhere inside the reactor building. By blocking the exit route to the sea the reactor building will flood, making work inside impossible. Additionally, water will eventually leak from the reactor building onto the surrounding ground and from there get into the air.

It would be better to pump all of the water into the sea, get into the reactor building and fix the source of the problem directly. The crack in the wall is the least of their problems, but seems to be attracting the most attention.

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puaokalani - not that US water has much to do with the article. However, I feel the need to correct your statement.

According to the people who did the research here's what was said. "...observe an activity of the isotope of I-131 (Iodine-131) of 4.26 Bq/l. At this level, you would need to drink 632 liters of this rain to obtain the same radiation effects you obtain on a round-trip flight between San Francisco and Washington D.C. Therefore, the increase in radiation levels in the rain water due to the events in Japan remain extremely small.' (I bolded the relevant parts)

I think it mighty difficult to drink 632 liters of rain water!

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We'll see if Kan and Edano will swim around the ocean and drink water from the reactor area.

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puaokalani:

" The toxins from these nuclear plants will affect everywhere the jetstream goes around the world, poisoning our food and water. "

Look at the numbers (the sheer sized of the ocean and the atmosphere, look up the meaning of "dilution", and save us the hype. Thanks.

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