Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hope for the best, expect the worst

Star Trek DS9 was by far my favorite Star Trek and mostly due to one character in particular, Garak. He had some of the best one-liners in the series. Garak says in response to be called a pessimist that he is in fact an optimist.
"I always hope for the best. Experience, unfortunately, has taught me to expect the worst."
This is an important distinction. I personally really hope that the world pulls it's head out of it's ass but experience in this regard has taught me to expect the worst. The trends set now are utterly destructive to a point I don't think many are yet willing to admit.

The mass extinction events all around the world are absolutely depressing to observe. It is mind-blowingly insane how much marine life is dying now. It's frightening how quickly the bees are going extinct. Can you imagine losing almost your entire livestock? The pain that must inflict? My heart feels heavier and heavier every day but we must pay homage. We must remember the beauty that was our world. We must remember. I am absolutely dying inside as I witness what may as well be described as the 6th mass extinction event in the history of our planet.

Want to see where we're at? read this. Still not enough? then try this too. And it's only getting worse.
"There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other," Gundersen said.

He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn't designed to absorb.

"The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can't stop it. There are no control rods to control it," Gundersen said. "The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction."

The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said.

The fuel assemblies are situated in a 10 meter by 12 meter concrete pool, the base of which is 18 meters above ground level. The fuel rods are covered by 7 meters of water, Nagai said.

The pool was exposed to the air after an explosion a few days after the quake and tsunami blew off the roof. The cranes and equipment normally used to extract used fuel from the reactor's core were also destroyed.

Tepco has shored up the building, which may have tilted and was bulging after the explosion, a source of global concern that has been raised in the U.S. Congress.

The utility says the building can withstand shaking similar to the quake in 2011 and carries out regular structural checks, but the company has a credibility problem. Last month, it admitted that contaminated water was leaking into the Pacific Ocean after months of denial.

The fuel assemblies have to be first pulled from the racks they are stored in, then inserted into a heavy steel chamber. This operation takes place under water before the chamber, which shields the radiation pulsating from the rods, can be removed from the pool and lowered to ground level.

The chamber is then transported to the plant's common storage pool in an undamaged building where the assemblies will be stored.

Tepco confirmed the Reactor No. 4 fuel pool contains debris during an investigation into the chamber earlier this month.

Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers, according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years.

"Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don't have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods," Kimura said.

Under normal circumstances, the operation to remove all the fuel would take about 100 days. Tepco initially planned to take two years before reducing the schedule to one year in recognition of the urgency. But that may be an optimistic estimate.

"I think it'll probably be longer than they think and they're probably going to run into some issues," said Murray Jennex, an associate professor at San Diego State University who is an expert on nuclear containment and worked at the San Onofre nuclear plant in California.

"I don't know if anyone has looked into the experience of Chernobyl, building a concrete sarcophagus, but they don't seem to last well with all that contamination."

Corrosion from the salt water will have also weakened the building and equipment, he said.

And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.

When asked what was the worst possible scenario, Tepco is planning for, Nagai said: "We are now considering risks and countermeasures."
Is it any wonder governments are concerned about "eco-terrorists". Eco-terrorists are simply going to be people fighting for their lives. All of our lives are in danger and the government certainly isn't going to be telling you about it. They are going to be protecting what's left of the "status-quo".
Those who do not accept services at the 240-bed shelter face being jailed on public nuisance charges such as loitering, public urination and other offenses, Runyan said. That’s the tough love part of his brash plan.

The shelter also would become a central location for serving meals and for transporting homeless people to services they need such as job placement, doctor appointments or treatment for mental health or substance abuse problems. People released from the county jail or state prisons also might be dropped at the shelter instead of in the city center.

The shelter is a stop-gap effort toward a longer-term solution. Leaders will be looking for a site outside of downtown to house those services.

Read more here:
Here's my favorite part.
Council voted unanimously early Wednesday morning to endorse a plan driven by complaints from businesses and residents that homeless adults increasingly are upsetting homeowners, office workers, shoppers and tourists. That’s bad for commerce as well as neighborhood tranquility, they said.
The pesky homeless, getting in the way of commerce. A blight on the city and on the brand name of recovery. This is just the beginning, with the mass extinction under way "hunger" is surely going to become a much more prominent part of North American and world culture (though much of the world is already there).

This situation is becoming unbearable to observe, but we must observe it. We must remember it all in vivid detail so that we can pass the stories down thru history and if possible stop the next stable civilization from following in our footsteps.

Take time every day to appreciate and respect all we have. Clean(ish) air, clean(ish) water, beautiful green trees and luscious fruits. Bees and marine life interacting in a wonderfully complex ecosystem that we have so carelessly destroyed. Live every day like it's your last and hope for the best, but expect the worst. Accept the worst, because the worst is yet to come.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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