Please allow me to take a Simpleton’s exploration: It’s all about damage control and a sort of triage of information made available to the people that essentially, like triage in the field, will define who is saved.
Lots of people may very well die in Japan, no matter what choices are made by the major players. The initial disasterS are one thing, but the preservation of those who survived (throughout the remainder of the country) is going to involve a lot of very tough choices. If things get worse, a whole lot of people will need to get moved. Who and when?
The triage question of the day, and very much having to do with scene safety is do they move them now, or wait until things get worse?
Because it is highly likely a hell of a lot of people are going to need to be moved (and FAST!) and the ones left to turn out the lights on the way out may very well die if the timing is wrong.
But under these circumstances how could any choice made by public officials be deemed wrong? Yet, it’s going to be hard to find winners in this mess.
Sure, I’m presenting a worst-case scenario. It’s dreamed up by someone completely unqualified by your standards, I’d guess, but I wonder if perhaps you can see what I see?
I see a natural disaster with, literally, a number of fatal beachheads; the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear crisis. Right now, from Ground Zero south to Tokyo uncertainty reigns.
Or does it? Perhaps the populace is not perceiving the threat as I am.
I’m hard pressed to find decent reports that contrast what information we are gathering against what the people in Tokyo are hearing. The general Japanese populace probably understands as much about true nuclear radiation threat as ours does. And that’s even considering they have been far more intimate with its effects than ourselves. Unfortunately, it’s not much.
For some reason, if they know about the danger of one or more of the nuclear complexes melting down, they have been convinced it’s under control and they are not to worry; otherwise they’d be bailing, don’t you think?
But it’s not under control. Not from my vantage point. This is all completely new territory for EVERYONE. Our understanding of nuclear energy has reached its limit. But Boy, are we gonna learn!
We’ve witnessed one big meltdown, Chernobyl, but that was Chernobyl. The circumstances here are completely different. Things got out of hand with Chernobyl and it just kinda blew! And they were able to bury the reactor.
Not so easy in this case because the mitigating circumstances of long-term corrosion due to employing sea water to reduce the temperature means this, too, will be at best a temporary measure.
What’s worse is if it does get worse, we don’t have a clue as to what worse would be. By the grace of God and the Curse of Beelzebub, Japan is on the edge of radioactively poisoning its people, yet, they are sticking to this story, as weak as it is: they may be able to hold it at bay.
But who are we (humanity) kidding? At our best right now we have only guesswork to rely on.
And if reactor #1 goes then how does that affect the rest? Well, for one thing, as one melts down you’re not going to get many people working on its neighbor are you? Let’s get real; this is a juggling act and one of five objects in the air is a running chain saw. Lose that delicate balance and everything gets cut!
Where am I headed?
I lived in Santa Barbara, California. About 150 miles south of me was San Onofre Power Plant, a nuclear facility. That’s as far as the Fukushima plant is from Tokyo. Diablo Canyon was north of me, only about 90 miles. If I knew about a situation looming like exists in Japan today, I would be well out of there, as far away as I could possibly get.
Not so much because of the radiation threat in the moment, but based on the mere possibility that something big COULD happen; well, Sayonara! Why? Because when the 30 + million people in Southern California decided to get moving, I would not want to get trampled. Oddly enough, that’s about Tokyo’s population as well!
Why would I choose to stay somewhere that the water and food cannot be trusted and I must stay inside?
Should the reactor(s) blow, an educated public would be faced with choosing between staying and possibly dying or leaving and having to struggle to survive. The problem is, once a city that size starts to make up its mind, whatever semblance of order is left will be sure to dissolve.
At what point do the Japanese people come to realize that they are waiting for the results of guesswork and many of their lives are literally being held in the balance? Would I want to be the one to say; “We really DON’T know what we’re doing, so maybe Tokyo ought to start packing its bags.”
So the Officials will do nothing to rush anybody. How could I criticize that? I don’t know there’s a whole lot of choice than to wait, see…