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What’s Going on in Japan?

By Gustav Hollnagel–

Credit: NASA

Earthquake in Japan – Did you know? Due to the misery in Japan, I’d like to devote this editorial to some updates on the happenings. In my eyes, college students should be aware of global catastrophes and its implications. So this, I guess, isn’t your ordinary editorial that features wit, humor and sarcasm.

Early last week, the people of Japan were shocked, horrified and scattered among what remained of the places where the earthquake hit. The earthquake was the fifth largest since 1900 and altered the rotation of the earth, which is now 1.8 microseconds faster than before.

That might not seem much to you, but the fact that it’s noticeable and calculable should create some concern. That is, concern about how devastating this earthquake was, not the 1.8 microseconds. According to scientist Richard Gross (NASA), those changes are normal and happen all the time, just not as severe.

Most concerning is the current fear of another Chernobyl incident. To refresh your memory or inform you in the first place, the Chernobyl disaster was considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. It occurred on April 26, 1986, near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine.

Experts fear that this might come very close to the disaster of Chernobyl. Why? Because right now, Japanese officials and engineers are having trouble providing enough cooling for the power plant of Fukushima. The earthquake inhibited the water and chemical supply to the power plant. If the cooling cannot be backed up quickly enough there might be fires breaking out. Those fires could discharge the cumulative radioactivity of the past years into the environment.

Here are the main issues (source: Yahoo News):

  • WATER DUMP: Emergency workers resort to extraordinary, combat-like measures in desperate attempts to cool radioactive fuel at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex north of Tokyo. They deploy an army helicopter to dump water from the sky on one out-of-control reactor where power was knocked out Friday by an earthquake-born tsunami.
  • WATER CANNONS: At the same reactor, workers use water cannons to blast cooling water into a pool used to store spent nuclear fuel, which can also overheat and catch fire.
  • RESTORING POWER: In one encouraging development, crews were finishing laying a new cable to supply more reliable electricity for motors, valves and pumps needed to keep reactors cool.

For now, the Japanese government is trying to keep the plant running. Technicians are working around the clock to minimize the consequences of the disaster. They could, in a way, pay with their own lives, as the so far freed radioactivity may well have implications on their life time.

You see this is a horrific disaster that we should all be aware of. Japanese people living in the States are rightfully worried about their fellow nationals and weep about the victims. Be sure to include Japan in your prayers and show some compassion in your thoughts.