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Japan's nuclear crisis, in hot water

(2011-03-31 17:21:52)






分类: politics

                        In hot water


Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water


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FRUSTRATION is mounting once again about the dangers emerging from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. This is partly due to new evidence: that there may have been a partial melting of nuclear fuel within the reactors’ protective structures and that radiation, including small doses of plutonium, has since leaked into the surrounding area. But fanning this anxiety is a grave new worry: that it may take months, rather than days or weeks, to bring this poisonous situation under control.



In the simplest terms, the latest bad news is that traces of plutonium have been found in soil samples near the stricken reactors. If fears of radioactive iodine-131, which loses half its potency every eight days, are bad, imagine how people may feel about plutonium-239, which has a “half-life” of 24,000 years. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the private monopoly that owns Fukushima, cannot say where the plutonium comes from: it may be from reactors No. 1 or 2, as a by-product of spent uranium, or from reactor No. 3, which has plutonium in its mixed-oxide fuel. That is the first indication of just how little the authorities know for certain about the situation


简单点说,最新的坏消息就是,在受损的反应堆附近的土壤样本中,发现了鈈元素的痕迹。 如果说担心放射性的碘131,这种碘的半衰期是8天, 就够让人害怕的,但是,想象一下,人们如果知道鈈239的半衰期是24000年,会是什么感觉,私营垄断企业,东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力公司是福岛核电站的东家,他们现在也说清楚鈈是从哪里来的,可能是从1号或2号反应堆的副产品废铀中来的,或者是来自3号反应堆的混氧燃料里。这种情况头一次表明,政府对目前现状所知甚少,他们并不了解具体情况。

It is a similar story with the pools of radioactive water that have been found sloshing around turbines near the reactors; it is not clear where these came from either. The worst case, near reactor No. 2, is 100,000 times more radioactive than water at a nuclear power plant is supposed to be. Wherever the excess radiation came from, and that is not clear, it has hampered ongoing efforts to hook up power supplies to the plant. Electricity is needed for cooling and monitoring systems, so that TEPCO can keep the nuclear fuel rods from overheating. By keeping work crews at bay, the radiation also stymies TEPCO’s ability to tell how badly pipes, pressure vessels and fuel rods have been damaged since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, which in turn makes it impossible to know how much more radiation can be expected to leak out. Then there are the pools for spent fuel rods, near the reactors. TEPCO cannot see whether these have been the site of any sort of meltdown, because there is too much debris piled on top.


同样,对于涡轮机附近,业已发现的到处流淌的放射性的积水的了解也是不甚了了,茫然不解。目前还不知道这些辐射积水来自何处。最糟糕的情况是,2号反应堆近旁水里的辐射值比一座核电站正常的辐射值高出10万倍以上,到底这些过量的辐射来自哪里,尚不得而知。这种情况妨碍了目前正在努力为电站连接电源的工作,冷却系统和检测系统都需要电源。一旦有电了,那么东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力公司就可以防止核燃料棒出现过热,高辐射让工作人员陷入困境,而且也严重影响东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力判断管道,压力舱和燃料棒,在3月11号的地震,海啸袭击后的受损程度,继而,无法掌握究竟还有多少辐射继续泄漏出来,然后再推测乏燃料池的情况,由于上面堆满了过多的瓦砾残骸,所以东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力无法看明白,现场到底是不是发生了部分熔毁。

For now, the authorities are partially reassured by the fact that what TEPCO can measure—heat and pressure within the reactors—has, by and large, remained stable, indicating there has been no meltdown of the potentially catastrophic sort. But the temperature in the first reactor rose to 323 degrees centigrade on Tuesday March 29th, which was not a good sign. Workers are having to balance the need to keep water flowing over the fuel rods, to prevent their overheating, against the risk of radioactive spillage into the sub-soil—and potentially the sea beyond. Making their work more complicated still, when a pool of water is suddenly found with potentially lethal doses of radiation, the other measurements are thrown into doubt


目前,鉴于此种情况,政府方面在一定程度上再次保证,东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力能够控制住反应堆内的温度和压力, 总的来说,反应堆保持稳定状态。官方指出,不可能发生堆芯熔毁这样的大灾难。但是3月29日,星期二,一号机组的温度上升到了323摄氏度,这不是一个好兆头,工人们正在努力,一方面,要把流动水浇在燃料棒上,防止其发生过热,另一方面还要防止这些带辐射的液体溢出,流入地下的土壤中,以及远处的海水里。这种两难的处境让他们的工作更加复杂,一旦发现水池中可能携带有毒的辐射物,他们就立刻把测量仪器投入水中测量。

To be fair to TEPCO, which has been getting all the bad press lately, it at least appears to be aware of how serious the threats are. When asked when the cooling systems might be brought under control, a spokesman says: “We just don’t know how long it will take.” That sounds like an honest assessment


毫不夸张的水,东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力最近发布的所有消息都是坏消息,最起码表明,他们意识到了核泄漏到底有多严重,有人问,冷却系统什么时候可以修复,一个发言人说;“ 我们不知道需要话多长时间”。 这样的回答,听起来是一个实事求是的估计。

But candour at this stage will only get TEPCO so far. Its relationship with the government, which is directing disaster efforts from within the utility’s darkened headquarters in Tokyo, is about as tainted as Fukushima’s turbine water. On Tuesday Koichiri Gemba, the minister for national strategy, left open the possibility of nationalising TEPCO (or at least its nuclear arm). Presumably, that is partly to reassure potential claimaints from the vicinity of Fukushima, who may have lost everything as a result of radiation. TEPCO is already now under intense scrutiny to see whether it cut corners on safety prior to the disaster. Its president, Masataka Shimizu, is being lambasted for falling ill (some say going AWOL) during the emergency; the company has yet to explain his absence. And its emergency staff (some of them poorly paid outside contractors) are suffering miserable conditions on-site to carry out some of the most dangerous work on the planet; not only do they have insufficient food, they have to sleep on the floor under a single blanket.


可到目前为止,现阶段的坦率,只能让东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力作茧自缚。 他们跟政府的关系,就跟福岛涡轮机里受污染的水一样,不再那么融洽了。东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力在东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water总部黑漆漆的多功能办公室里,指导救灾工作。星期二, 国家战略大臣 Koichiri Gemba公开表示,有可能把东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力公司收归国有(或者至少是核电站部分业务。这中表态可能在某种程度上,让住在福岛周围,失去一切靠救济生活的灾民得到一些安慰。东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力正面临着严格审查,看他们是否在灾难发生前,隐瞒安全隐患。东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力总裁清水正孝因当时生病不在场而备受指责(有些人说他是擅离职守,东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力公司还需对此做出解释。而且救援人员(有些人是编外人员,工资很低正在恶劣的环境下,在现场从事一些地球上最危险的工作,他们不仅缺少食品,还不得不睡在地板上,身上仅裹着一条毯子过夜。

With all these problems, it is no wonder TEPCO’s shares fell to a 47-year low on Tuesday. But the problem is not just TEPCO’s; it is Japan’s. The longer this crisis drags on and the more radiation spews out, the more the area around the plant may be irretrievably damaged and the higher the costs will mount—in psychic and physical terms. That bodes ill for the government. According to a Kyodo opinion poll this week, 58.2% of those surveyed do not approve of the government’s handling of the nuclear disaster. Naoto Kan’s administration has taken the reins from TEPCO to assert its authority over the disaster. It may have to raise its crisis response to a new level—probably involving international experts—to get ahead of the relentless cycle of bad news


由于问题重重,所以也难怪,星期二,东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力的股票跌到了47年来的最低谷,但这个问题不仅仅存在于东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力升上,日本政府也不例外,也是问题缠身。这场危机拖得时间越长,喷发出的辐射物就越多,核电站四周被永久损害的地方就越多,付出的代价就越大,这种代价不仅是心理上的,还有外在的。这对政府来说是个危险的兆头,根据日本共同社的一份报道,本周的民意测验表明,参与调查的58.2%的人对政府在处理核危机方面的做法,并不满意。 菅直人内阁已经从东京Japan's <wbr>nuclear <wbr>crisis, <wbr>in <wbr>hot <wbr>water电力手中接过了,指导灾难救援的指挥棒。这么做也许会把危机应对措施提高到一个新的水平上,可能会接纳一些国际专家,以便取得更大进展,避免陷入不停发布坏消息的泥潭,而无法自拔。



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