Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 12, 2011

Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear emergency: “We never anticipated all three happening in succession.”

Filed under: Catastrophes — by Philip J. Palin on March 12, 2011

According to NHK, at 2014 hours (local Japan Time) on March 12,”The prefectural government of Fukushima has expanded the evacuation area around Fukushima Number 1 Power Station from an earlier established 10-kilometer radius to a 20-kilometer radius. (10km = 6.21 miles)

The decision was made at the instruction of the prime minister’s office shortly before 6:30 PM, local time, at a nuclear disaster task force meeting on Saturday… It is maintaining an evacuation instruction for a 10-kilometer radius around the Number 2 Power Station.

–+–

The status of the Fukushima plant is treacherous.  This is fast breaking news.  A reasonable summary of the context and issues is available from the Daily Yomiuri online. Early Sunday morning Japan time, Nikkei is reporting, “The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said… the explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could only have been caused by a meltdown of the reactor core. Tokyo Electric Power Co, which runs the plant, began to flood the damaged reactor with seawater to cool it down, resorting to measures that could rust the reactor and force the utility to scrap it.”  At about 1330 hours Eastern The Guardian posted a comprehensive update on the nuclear emergency.

By Saturday mid-afternoon US Eastern time — very early Sunday in Japan — news reports on the status of the nuclear emergency are mixed.  Several mainstream outlets, including the The Guardian and New York Times, seem to suggest the nuclear core is being successfully cooled and the threat is likely to recede.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: Emergency operations continue at Fukushima 1 and 2 and at other Japanese nuclear power stations. Reporters with The Economist, blogging from Tokyo write, “Overnight, the cooling system at the third reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant failed, and on March 13th Kyodo news agency cited the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), as saying that three metres of a Mox nuclear-fuel rod had been left above the water level. That raises the risk of a meltdown of the core reactor, which could lead to a nuclear catastrophe.”

Late Sunday night in Japan, NHK is reporting, “Cooling system problems continue to plague two nuclear plants in earthquake-hit Fukushima Prefecture. The level of coolant water in the Number Three reactor at the Fukushima Number One power plant dropped on Sunday, leaving the fuel rods exposed by two meters. The situation continued for at least until 3pm, possibly causing a partial melting of the rods. As a result, masses of hydrogen gas have accumulated in the inside top of the reactor building. The gas may cause an explosion similar to that which occurred at the Number One reactor on Saturday.”

–+–

According to the Wall Street Journal, posting at 0750 Eastern on March 12,  “Friday’s giant earthquake and tsunami have caused hardship for many Japanese in the past few days. Those who live and work near the star-crossed Fukushima nuclear power facility have borne an even greater burden.

Many evacuees left their homes for a refugee center located in a seaside town in the shadow of the two plants, known as Fukushima No. 1 and Fukushima No. 2.

But then, as the reactor struggled to contain damage from the tsunami, the local government urged them to another facility 10 kilometers away from the plant. Later that evening, after an explosion at the plant, the central government asked them to relocate again—this time 20 kilometers away.

A contingent of about a dozen or so senior town officials stayed behind at the makeshift facility in Tomiokamachi, which had run out of food and water earlier in the day. After watching a group of mostly younger officials prepare to depart, they grimly donned bright yellow protective body suits with air intake hoods at about 3:15pm local time.

Two of these officials spoke with The Wall Street Journal, whose reporters left with the last group of evacuees, mostly lower-level municipal employees.

“What else is there to say?” said Hideo Sato, department head of general affairs for the town. “You had better leave now.”

The town had been overwhelmed by a record 8.9-magnitude earthquake, followed by a seven-meter tsunami 30 minutes later, and then evacuated due to unspecified problems at the nuclear plant.

“This was way beyond our contingency efforts,” said Shiro Tanaka, head of the town’s planning department. “We never anticipated all three happening in succession.” (MORE from the Wall Street Journal)

–+–

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), owner/operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant is releasing a fair amount  information to its website.  At least in the case of my browser (Google Chrome), you can prompt a Google translation that is not so bad.  See: http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/f1-np/press_f1/2010/2010-j.html

In addition to the problems at the Fukushima nuclear power stations, TEPCO has also taken five thermal plants off-line due to damage from the earthquake and secondary effects.  Currently over 5.7 million households are without electric power.  The period of time needed to restore power is uncertain, but TEPCO is predicting to restore about half of the lost power capacity by the middle of next week.

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6 Comments »

Comment by Dan OConnor

March 12, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

Isn’t that the definition of novelty? Being unable to anticipate is equivalent to a failure of imagination, is it not? The tightly coupled systems generating unpredictable outcomes are further combined with growing urbanization. And it could have been worse. Japan had been preparing for quite some time for the earthquake aspect.

http://tinyurl.com/6cuoa5l

http://tinyurl.com/6z3slhf

So what we must learn … must; no amount of preparation can prevent these geographical incidents. However, it is our response and capability as a population that has to continue. Being able to overcome, adapt, and recognize that there is quite a bit out of our hands, what is in our hands is the means to shift the odds a bit.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 12, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

Dan, I will agree with you and also offer: We should do what we can to mitigate vulnerability and advance resilience across the board. Because catastrophe is beyond precise prediction, it is worthwhile to make regular, incremental, individually small, but cumulatively significant investments in mitigation and resilience. This includes investments in critical infrastructure, key resources — especially the supply chain — and in our social networks (voluntary organizations, faith-based organizations, public-private partnerships, and other webs of relationship).

Comment by Dan O'Connor

March 12, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

Phil;

Amen to that!

If in my vernacular, camouflage is constant, So then is kaizen within all your previously mentioned vectors of resilience.

Comment by "Professional Gaming and the Odds We Will Fail the Inevitable"

March 13, 2011 @ 6:22 am

As Dan says, “Being able to overcome, adapt, and recognize that there is quite a bit out of our hands, what is in our hands is the means to shift the odds a bit” is very much what I must engage in each and every day in my persistence, planning, observation and employing strategy as a Professional Gaming executive or often referred to as a profesional gambler – seeking to “shift the odds a bit” –

Now ten years as a professional Foxwoods gambler consistently holding a substantial number of W2G’s year after year as my sustenance, my annual and substantial income, anticipation, much focus in commitment to discipline, observation and strategy, watching, listening and being aware are essential or one will blatantly fail as 99.5% of patrons do when arriving at the casino sitting whereever and hoping withut any preparation, in essence what makes the gaming industry such a successful business for the house and why our infrastructure will certainly fail when our – inevitable one – strikes and scientists concur, the “big one” will do so!

The Japanese quite well understand earthquakes for anyone even visiting for a brief time has most likely experienced at least a tremor. It is the way of Life. Since the 1980’s and in anticipation of the “big one” we all saw and heard the buildings swaying in Tokyo and little damage. This is as a result of the same premise utilized whether it is me as I walk into my daily office, the Rainmaker casino and visit the same “business clients” learning everything I can about the same thirty revenue producing “computers” slot machines over ten years+ or the community planners and builders working w/governing officials knowing the odds and doing their utmost to improve the winning decisions and in Tokyo w/such a large sprawling populace, observation, knowledge, commitment to diligence, the necessity of being – resilient – just as I must be in what I observe, meeting challenges which necessitate change….if not, consistency, success will not be realized and the odds are the inevitable “loss” one will sustain whether on the casino gambling floor or seeing devastation!

Bravo to the Japanese and of course our condolences as many people have perished, however, far many more would have suffered loss in Life and property if it were not for the same persistence, the reiliency, the planning, the strategy, acknowledging the challenging and as we have seen, a Japanese preparedness at least in Tokyo and less as we see in the more rural areas to the north where Life and property so devistated….

As far as the nuclear power facility, well the media here seems to be prepared to over report and make more of it without official reports by the government who was assessing the actual status. Over and over CNN and Fox News talked about the “1,000X” and draatized such figure even though “professionals” underscored and stated that it would be best to wait for the government and professionals to actually give us a real assessment and determine the danger. Even while this was going on, the Japanese in the midst of such devastation was successfully evacutaing thousands from the area…

I watched what we did in the Katrina scenario and We and our preparediness looks to me as most “gambler patrons” coome into the casino, befuddled and very unprepared even with their unjustified hope that they can be successful and they are Not just as We were not in Katrina or in Haiti.

In fact, as a professional, I am willing to bet that any such “event” on the eastern seaboard or out on the coastal communities and cities along the Pacific and buildings and the loss of Life would be disastrous! Where are our buidling codes and yes, there has been some improvement in building and structural requirements, however most here even in earthquake prone areas where scientists have given us dire warning that the “big one” will inevitably happen, even here in Boston, never mind San Franscisco, I look as I do at patrons I watch daily cming into the doors of the Rainmaker Casino and I know as well as the management executives that they will lose and my question to the US government and local government as well as city planners, builders and architects, whether on the casino floor or having to deal with the earth crust and the structual floors we are buidlding whether commercial or residential, I ask in light of dire predictions here even in South Carolina for instance, what have you done in the last 20 years to show your commitment to diligence, enlightenment to the challenges posed, the resilience required, the necessity in observation and then to apply to strategy. My reply, not enough!

My success on an annual consistent basis in a professional discipline which is most challenging requires the same or one cannot provide winning W2G’s on a consistent basis as the odds are against the patron or the populace which is so unprepared. In Haiti, where I have made every attempt to lend a hekping hand and strongly suggested a Haiti Rebuild which requiresd every structure to be “earthquake resistent and ecologically-friendly whether commercial or resieential, most urgings have fallen on deaf ears.

One must be resilient, employ whatever knowledge We can in our strategy and just as Dan says and I must in my specific “daily gaming disciplien” and planners and community builders and architects must utilize whatever knowledge, information and insist on using what dan says, “what is in our hands is the means to shift the odds a bit” and whether it is the – inevitable – “big one” to strike us or my daily and well earned and “consistent” winning results in earnings on the Rainmaker floor at Foxwoods casino, shifting the odds a bit is the difference of being successful in objective versus the 95.5+ failure rate by being unprepared and unenlightened by one’s surroundings and stringent requirements whether that of the government or the individual as we see the Japanese individual well adpated and prepared to help themselves as a nation where sme 80% — I reiterate 80% are technologically oriented, utilizing the “net” twitter, etc.

From what I can see as a “professional” who must deal with the same Rainmaker business clients – “computers” wth a fancy box around them seeking to observe and note certain patterns, etc.

We failed with Katrina, we have blantantly failed Haiti and as a businessman and successful at my very challenging gaming business, I think it is time that local, state and federal government building requirements impose far more stringent requirements immediately here in the US to lessen the present odds that will result from our lack of discipline and resilience, our general lack of preparedness and I can bet w/comnfidence that it would not take an 8.9 earthquake to shake us, but far less with consierable more damage never mind discussing the tsunami which remains for another discussion – We cannot even deal with nor’easters battering coastal cities and communities. Let’s get a grip on reality or you, too like I do daily see many losers who are hopeful based on just that, hope and no preparation or much needed discipline! For most patrons the “house” wins because it is well prepared, detailed in its diligence to the business at hand, well the same must be true of those overseeing construction, or the their house will fall and that’s a good bet!

Let me assure you that in my daily profession with consistency year after year for many years, preparedness and utilizing information and employing much observation, discipline and persistence in strategy is a winning solution, however I am utterly dismayed at the lack of such when we see Haiti and structures be built w/o strict building code!

Christopher Tingus
P O Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by john comiskey

March 13, 2011 @ 6:49 am

Palinian resilience coupled with meta-self reliance might save the day ….or week, month, or year if necessary despite much of Japan’s trifecta catastrophe being out of anyone’s hands. At a minimum it is an opportunity for meta-kaizen.

Strategists lament multifront wars. The Homeland Security Era requires a Schleiflin Plan of sorts AND many of us have pondered and planned for multiple simultaneous events.

Last May I was deployed by my Coast Guard Unit to the DWH Spill. At the time, I was employed by the NYPD who had to make do without me and hundreds (out of 36000) NYPD officers that were deployed to the Gulfs (the Persian and Mexican) and elsewhere. Homeland Security Officials are acutely aware that many first responders are also military reservists who are statutorily obligated to the military first.

Back to my 2010 Gulf (of Mexico) deployment. National and Homeland Security Officials were acutely aware that the oil spill timeline would overlap hurricane season and might impact operations and oil recovery. The Hurricanes that did happen only slightly impacted operations and recovery. In addition, the spill diverted national resources that slightly impacted national security readiness and certainly disaffected an already beleaguered economy. Finally, Deepwater Horizon reminded the intelligence community of another maritime vulnerability that would come to the attention of terrorists. Andy Borwitz of BorowitzReport.Com satirically said that Bin Laden is professionally jealous of Bp.

Chris B spoke of HLS being in a pre-paradigm stage. Perhaps the HLS paradigm is meta-resiliency.

Comment by Immediate Risk Assessment: US Nuclear Facilities

March 13, 2011 @ 8:02 am

As an individual who deals w/”odds” on a daily basis, the 46% odds scientists have given us in their respective discipline as to the possibility of the “big one” strking the west coast and what abut the new fault found just north of New York City where miliions and millions of folks reside —

The regulatory folks can release their statements, however the fact remains — this one “prfessional gambler” not willing too take the risk and demanding an immediate risk assessment of all US nuclear faciities and if the “good ‘ol beltway fellas” can ghet beyond themselves – both sidee of the aisle – maybe they can appropriate mergency funding for the immediate requirements necessary —

There are 104 nuclear facilities in 31 states and Not one of them culd withstand a seismic event of more than 7.5+ never mind 9.0! In fact, one of the facilities near NYC has been built to withstand only such catastropic event at a 6.1 hit…

This citizen and professinal gambler, unlike the regulartry folks see this as an opportunity to seize the moment and conduct yourselves in a way “entrusted” by those of us who rely on professinalism and preparedness.

As a natural born citizen of this beloved nation, I demand that the regulatory folks and the “beltway boys” and you Barry and your Goldman Sachs administration printing some $100 million fiat fed notes every month – yes, $100 million dollars too support this economy make an immediate decision to identify some of the $750 billion oof initial stimulus monies Hank et al somehow lost tract of and divert these monies into strnegthening our facilities which are very close to millions of Americans –

With respect to CNN and Fox, while I am shortly enroute to my daily sojurn to the “Rainmaker Foxwoods casino” – my office where I earn my income and sustenance based on diligence, not misconceived notions and dreams, each of our 104 nuclear facilities in these 31 states must be directed to undergo a professional risk assessment and to make these facilities “safe” as we certainly require such from those we have “entrusted” to address!

Now as I travel almost daily southbound on Rte. 95 from Bos to Ledyard, CT, I will be looking beyond to hopefully never see an explosion, but again, my gambling and professional discipline is not based on hope, but a number of factors which earn me my consistency in sustenance. If the regulatory folks do not do the same, you are no different that the regular casino patron playing the roulette where or spinning the dice, in fact, given the statistical probabilities, you will lose far much more!

Christopher Tingus
Ref: “Immediate Risk Assessment of our 104 Nuclear Facilities Against a 9.0 Earthquake!”
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645

c/o The Rainmaker Casino/Foxwoods Casinoo
Ledyard, CT – “The Wonder of It All”

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