April 12, 2011

20th Interview with My Dad, a Nuclear Engineer, about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Japan

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

You can listen to all the interviews on the new vimeo channel Brandon and I created. You can also listen to most of the interviews on Brad Go’s YouTube channel.

Here’s the vimeo channel:

Brad Go’s YouTube channel: 

This evening my dad and I recorded our 20th interview on the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Please see the rest of the blog (sidebar) for previous interviews. If you would like to send a message to me or my father about this or any of the previous interviews, you can do so in a comment below or by sending an email to georneysblog (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also follow me on twitter @GeoEvelyn.

We thought that we were done with the Fukushima interviews, but because of a number of requests by email and in comments, we decided to conduct an interview tonight to comment on the upgrade of Fukushima from a 5 to a 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).  My dad highly recommends checking out this IAEA slideshow presentation to better understand this scale and the reason for the upgrade:

My dad also recommends checking out this Associated Press article comparing and contrasting the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters:

As a geologist, I also wanted to comment on the recent magnitude 6.6 earthquake that prompted an evacuation and cut off power at Fukushima for the better part of an hour. Any event– such as an earthquake– that could lead to an extended loss of power is potentially quite serious for the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and spent fuel pools at Units 1-4, which remain “static but not stable.”  Fortunately, the recent earthquake only caused a temporary evacuation and loss of power. There is the potential for more aftershocks in coming days, and an unfortunately located aftershock could potentially lead to another power loss.

However, I am a geochemist, not a geophysicist or an earthquake expert, so I am not qualified to speak in too much detail about earthquakes and aftershocks. Fortunately, two of my geophysicist friends came through with some more detailed information and analysis than I can provide. First, I want to direct you to a blog post about the recent Fukushima area earthquakes by geoblogger Chris Rowan.  Second, I want to direct you to a guest post (following this one) on my blog that has some figures and text written by Jean-Arthur Olive, a good friend of mine and a fellow PhD student in the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Thanks so much, Chris and Arthur! If any other geophysicists would like to add anything else, just let me know. I can post more information on my blog and/or post a link to another website. Here are links to the two posts I mentioned above:

In today’s interview:
1. My dad gives an update about Fukushima

2. My dad discusses the upgrade on the INES scale and comments again on the evacuation zone.

Hope to have an audio link soon. Here is the interview on vimeo:

Please see the announcement page for more information about these interviews:

If you have time and interest, please transcribe this interview or volunteer to transcribe Interviews 17, 18, and 19. At this time, we have no plans for future interviews.