March 15, 2011 You Must Read This Posted by Lew Rockwell on March 15, 2011 05:46 PM Writes Jay Roberts: Although I’m in the U.S. at the moment, my family remains in Osaka. FWIW, as a submarine officer, I went to the U.S. Navy’s nuclear power training and then operated naval reactors. Following this, I worked in the commercial nuclear power industry for a couple of years and then moved on to software development. While my motivations would require a long explanation, let’s just say I’m neither a booster nor an opponent of the technology but I do have a pretty clear eyed view of reactor operations and what people do in crises. I was pretty comfortable with the Fukushima situation for the first few days. If anything, the fact that they still maintained their integrity after an epic quake and tsunami is a testament to the design margins built into western reactors. However, two recent bits of news really gave me pause. The first was the fire caused by low water levels in the spent fuel pool in Unit 4, which was shut down and defueled for maintenance. Normally, there would be all sorts of alarms about this, but with electricity gone, one would send people around to check on things. And with a plant defueled like Unit 4, the first thing one would want to check would be the spent fuel pool. This is not to suggest malfeasance though — rather, that the people on site are completely overwhelmed by events to the extent that they can’t even spare somebody to go take a look at the fuel pool in Unit 4. One wonders what else may be going unnoticed. The second item was that the staffing on site was down to 50 people. Even under normal operations, this is a small fraction, but in an emergency, where all power and indications (gauges/alarms) are lost, it is in effect throwing one’s hands up in the air. This was about 24 hours ago when I read this stuff at which point I told my wife she should tell her sister-in-law to take her kids, get out of Tokyo as a precaution. It is an excellent time to visit grandma.