Archive for Tsunami

When Disaster Strikes – Haiti Versus Japan

Posted in Britain, Environment, Europe, Haiti, Oceans, Pacific, UK, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , , , , , on 17/04/2011 by floroy1942

Whenever disaster strikes, a media frenzy ensues followed by countries scurrying to offer the most money for reconstruction and humanitarian aid.

It has almost gotten to the stage where it has become a game among the richest nations to see who can ‘pledge’ the most. The offers are well intended, but the country that is suffering rarely gets to see all the money that is initially promised. It is worthy to note that some South American states and Arab nations made no effort whatsoever to donate or assist in the disaster while even tiny countries like Andorra managed to raise funds.

This Guardian report shows the amount of donations by country:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jan/14/haiti-quake-aid-pledges-country-donations

A Haitian Victim

This scenario was nowhere more evident than the earthquake that hit Haiti, where pledges were in excess of $14 billion for immediate aid on the ground, and cash donations to help in the recovery. Much of the money has still to materialise, and probably never will.

Many nations considered the cancelling of debts owed to them by the Haitian government to be a sufficient donation to rebuild the country, which sadly was of no use to the Haitian people at that time when thousands were dead, and with their capitol razed to the ground.

Haiti Earthquake:

Emergency Aid Team – Haiti

The response of individuals, charity organizations, and rescue teams was immediate and their contribution gratefully received, but alas, the flow of money from countries making huge pledges for clearing the rubble and rebuilding left much to be desired.

Now, some 20 months after the disaster, Haitians are not much better off than they were a year ago. Less than 5% of the rubble has been cleared, and tens of thousands still live in makeshift emergency camps.

Haiti – One Year On:

And now we have another world catastrophe on our hands in the form of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Once again a country needs the assistance and monetary help of others to overcome a disaster, although to a much lessor degree than Haiti.

Japan Tsunami:

Japan Earthquake Aftermath

Naturally, Haiti and Japan are poles apart when it comes to wealth, and I might add, importance. Haiti is an impoverished island in the Caribbean, while Japan is a major player on the world stage with an economy Haitians can only dream about. As always, a huge effort was made on the part of individuals, organizations, and in some cases governments, from across the world after the initial impact. Much was done to rescue people from the rubble left by the huge  wave that hit the coast.

Japan Relief Effort:

The United States military among others were mobilised to bring initial aid to the survivors in a coordinated effort with the Japanese. Most of the aid money pledged to the Japan disaster relief effort appears at the moment to be coming from private sources with celeb’s and sports stars etc. making donations.

It is true that as Japan is among the world’s most successful economies, there is no requirement for massive donations of cash to aid the recovery. For the most part, I think the nation has received what it needed most, and that was experts on the ground to help with the immediate aftermath.

Aid Teams In Japan

Like Haiti, Japan now has many thousands of its citizens living in emergency accommodation and like Haiti, a huge area of devastation must be cleared before new houses, shops and other businesses can be built. The one big question that comes to mind is , how will Japan cope in comparison to Haiti?

It’s my bet that all signs of this latest disaster will have long disappeared in Japan while the citizens of Haiti are still trying to clear the rubble of their country’s capitol. Personally, I doubt if they will be over their troubles in five years time, such is the shortness of memory of world governments as they move on to the next catastrophe.

It is clear that Japan’s infrastructure is far better able to cope with such an event than that of Haiti, but also, on the world scene Japan is of much more importance than poor impoverished Haiti, and this will be reflected in how quickly the two countries get back to normal.

All nations who have economic ties with Japan will certainly want to see the country back on it’s feet quickly so that business can get back to normal. As for Haiti, well that’s something else isn’t it?

Roy.

Related post:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/haiti-what-happened-to-all-the-money/

Fukushima – A Disaster Waiting In The Wings?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Nuclear, Oceans, Radioactive Waste, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , , , , on 13/04/2011 by floroy1942

Should we be concerned at the latest news of a hike in the severity level at the Fukushima nuclear generating plant to 7, bringing it on a par with Chernobyl?

Chernobyl Reactor Building

We can all remember what happened at the Russian plant, but the experts tell us there is no danger of a repeat. Now that is reassuring news, certainly to the Japanese, and probably for the rest of us too.

The whole episode however leaves me with some questions, most important of which is, why was a nuclear plant built on the coast in an earthquake/tsunami zone? Reactor One was opened in July 1967, and since then another five have been built on the same site.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Noqk78bjE-Q

The Cause Of A Tsunami

It is safe to assume that we did not know as much in 1967 as we do now about earthquakes and the effects, but even so, it seems to me the Japanese were taking a big chance in building such a facility right on the sea shore.

I can well imagine their desire to have a ready supply of water for cooling the reactor, but then surely, better precautions should have been taken to protect the installation against the possibility of a tsunami.

The Tsunami Strikes

History has shown us on many occasions that earthquakes under the sea cause tsunami’s, so it should be obvious, even in 1967, that the site would be prone to just such an event.

I freely admit, I am no nuclear scientist or structural engineer, but it seems to me that building such a plant on the coast at Fukushima, knowing the possibilities, should have received more attention.

The main difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima is that in the former accident the reactor vessel ruptured, releasing large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere, whereas in the latter, this did not happen and the reactor vessel remained intact. Contrary to popular opinion, there is never a chance of a nuclear explosion at a nuclear power plant, even if meltdown does occur.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Z69rtx3YlE0

Fukushima Reactor

Each reactor at the Fukushima plant has a secondary containment vessel which is designed to prevent the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere even in the event of a reactor containment vessel breach. This was not the case at Chernobyl and indeed, very few Russian plants had such a safety facility (lessons learned).

Furthermore, The Chernobyl reactor was ‘fired up’ at the time of the accident while experiments were carried out on the power generators for the emergency cooling system. At Fukushima the reactor shut-down automatically when the earthquake was detected.

Typical Reactor Cooling System Generator

It would seem that the problems began at Fukushima when the various backup cooling pumps, that supply the core with water to keep it from overheating, lost power when the tsunami destroyed the generators supplying the pumps. It would appear that perhaps more protection should have been given to these vital components.

Fukushima Damage

The disaster at Fukushima, though of natural causes, does indicate that more attention must be given to the siting of nuclear power plants, especially in earthquake prone countries around the famous ‘Ring of Fire’ bordering the Pacific. It indicates that all nuclear plants should be inspected to see what improvements can be made to the operating systems when a natural disaster strikes, and most specifcally, protection of the cooling apparatus.

Anyone wishing for a simple straight-forward explanation of the events at Fukushima should visit the following site:

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

Its all well and good for armchair ‘experts’ to give their opinions, and as we all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should hope that some valuable lessons have been learned from this disaster and steps are taken to see such an event is never repeated.

Fukushima Heros

In the meantime, we should not forget the brave men and women who have been working tirelessly to prevent a major disaster at Fukushima at the risk of their own well-being. I salute you!

One thing is sure, we are a long way from doing away with our nuclear power plants despite all the hype that has been generated, for until the scientists come up with something better we are stuck with it. At this moment in time we have no other way of keeping up with the ever increasing demands for power.

Roy. 

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