Interesting report is out today from the IEEE Spectrum about the first 24 hours at Fukushima. While TEPCO has been rather quiet about the goings on, the authors and nuclear engineers have tried to ‘reverse engineer’ what happened by putting together public statements and other data.
One of the more interesting tidbits came a few hours into the disaster, when the control room couldn’t even get power to turn on the lights, let alone look at the monitors that were reporting how data from sensors within the reactor. The crew scrambled for an emergency solution, to the point they ran out to the parking lot and grabbed car batteries from various vehicles and hot-wired some form of power to get the machines back online.
As the operators surveyed the damage, they quickly realized that the diesel generators couldn’t be salvaged and that external power wouldn’t be restored anytime soon. In the plant’s parking lots, workers raised car hoods, grabbed the batteries, and lugged them back to the control rooms. They found cables in storage rooms and studied diagrams. If they could connect the batteries to the instrument panels, they could at least determine the water levels in the pressure vessels.
TEPCO did have a backup for the emergency generators: power supply trucks outfitted with high-voltage dynamos. That afternoon, emergency managers at TEPCO’s Tokyo headquarters sent 11 power supply trucks racing toward Fukushima Dai-ichi, 250 km away. They promptly got stuck in traffic. The roads that hadn’t been damaged by the earthquake or tsunami were clogged with residents fleeing the disaster sites.
A tad technical at times but definitely worth reading.
squall lines and hail, the lightning and the smell, yeah, the smell of a storm coming through is something that you just don’t forget.
So as I read about the horrible tragedy unfolding in the US and take a look at the pictures of small town middle America, I’m often saying to myself “I know what that town is like”. I see the one water tower and grain elevator next to a railroad track that connects that town on to the next one, with the city being but an island in fields of corn and soybeans. And as I sit here in my luxury high-rise in Hong Kong I watch and sort of think back to those simpler times when staying in the ‘safe room’ of the house was something ‘normal’.
Yea, it is pretty weird. But anyway–watch these two videos. The first is the audio feed from a guy trapped in a gas station as the Joplin tornado comes into town. You can’t see much but the audio is frightening. The second is the day after–he goes back to the store where he was during the storm and you see how bad it really was. Pretty amazing survival story.