Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Lefties...Again

As if we haven't seen this enough....

  • Jill apparently believes it's ok for senior citizen taxpayers to be (metaphorically, of course) gang-raped by public sector and teacher unions, but don't touch that Seniorcare.  I  wonder if she considered they may be better able to afford healthcare if they weren't taxed to death?
  • The attempts to bring government spending under control is met with cries of "extremism".  Harry Ried claims the TEA Party owns Congressional Republicans (we should be so lucky).  But for some reason, they think it's ok to be bought and paid for by unions, environmental extremists, anti-war extremists, anarchists, Socialists and CPUSA.
  • Bush was bad for going after Saddam in Iraq.  It was a "War for Oil".  The evil Bush-Cheney-Rove-Halliburton-Big Oil conspiracy.  An "Illegal War".  But Obama violates the War Powers Act and enters into combat with Libya and the Left is silent.
  • A Conservative judge overturning a law violating the 2nd Amendment is "an activist judge" to the Left, but a Leftist judge who makes s#it up like a right to an abortion?  Not so much.
  • TEA Party Activists are branded as racist with no evidence, but the nearly all white union protests in Madison get no such branding.
  • Union thuggery and extortion against small business in Wisconsin gets almost no play in the press.
I shouldn't be amazed.

What Will It Be?

Here in Wisconsin, on Tuesday, April 5th, we have the option of voting for Liberty and responsible government or union-owned hack partisanship.  Kloppenburg is a former DNR prosecutor.  She will vote against anything the thugs unions tell her to.  She is bought and paid for the WEAC, AFSCME and the SEIU.  She is Obama's preferred candidate.  She will make Judge Sumi look positively Conservative.

Prosser, while imperfect, has a track record of ruling based on the Law, not on his partisan beliefs.

We elected a slate of candidates in November whom we expected would act in the best interest of responsible government and the taxpayers.  They have done so.  It is not extreme, it's not "going too far".  It is controlling the cost and size of government on all levels.  To vote Kloppenburg to SCOWI will change the balance and undermine everything the Walker administration plans.  We will be subjected to more taxes, more regulation and more thuggery.

So, what will it be?  Liberty?  Or were you just playing at that whole,"we want responsible government" thing?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Real "Illegal War"

Since Truman, presidents, both Democrat and Republican have been engaging the US in unconstitutional wars.  The Constitution is very clear about declaration of war; only Congress can do so.  But I have trouble calling that,"illegal".  Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq I, Kosovo, Iraq II were all unconstitutional, but each time, Congress was consulted.  Not so for Libya.

The War Powers Act allows the President to commit combat troops for 60 days without consulting Congress in the event of "imminent hostilities" against the US.  No such conditions exist.  The argument can be made that the case existed for each of the previous wars listed, but the President has made clear that it does not exist for Libya.

Grounds for impeachment.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama = Bush?

President Bush went to war in Iraq because:

  • Saddam was working on WMD's
  • Saddam was slaughtering his own people
  • Saddam continued to violate UN resolutions over a period of several years.
President Bush developed a coalition of dozens of countries before going into Iraq.
President Bush publicly went to Congress, presented his case and obtained authorization (said authorization is unconstitutional, but not illegal).

President Obama went to war in Libya because:

  • Ghadafi was killing his own people.
President Obama did not go to Congress
President Obama's coalition is substantially smaller than Bush's.

President Obama has justified Bush's Iraq invasion.

In Case You Wondered

The Conservative Girl has some info on the Koch Brothers.

Like I said, Koch is easier for Lefties to spell than Halliburton.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hmmm...Sounds Like It's Not Just a Good Idea...

Esenberg seems to indicate It's The Law.

Aparrently Sumi and Ozanne are not as smart as they think they are.

And Oscar Is Always A Fun Read

The Beer:  A California Common (think "Anchor Steam").  I now have two bottled, two in kegs and two fermenting plus one mead that I'll be worrying about in 6 months.

The Bicycle:  Just tired of being cold.  I am hoping before the end of the week.  First ride with the kids in the neighborhood is supposed to be next Sunday.

The VRWC:  Oscar nearly gives me as much material as Derrick Jackson...and Oscar's local!

Here's the world according to Oscar:

Waukesha County and its cities, towns and villages are overwhelmingly white - on purpose.

I know what you're thinking.  Of course it's true.  All those illiterate racists out there in Oconomowoc, Elm Grove, Sussex, Okauchee....Teabaggers, no doubt.  Those big meanies won't build "affordable housing".

The formula is breathtakingly simple. If you don't give low-income people a place to live, they won't move in next door, in the same census tract or even in the same town.

Another flawed premise by our friend Oscar.  No one has a "right" to live in a particular location.  Everyone has a right to live in a place they can afford.  No one has any obligation to  build a home someone else can afford.  Hey...I want to live in Beverly Hills.  Hook that one up, Oscar.  Whaddaya say.  Let's get some affordable housing in Beverly.  Swimmin' pools, movie stars.

No, it's not about uncontrollable residential patterns. It's about very controlled residential patterns, controlled in recognition that, if someone builds it - low-income, multifamily housing - poor folks will come. But if you do build it, make it housing for the non-hip-hop listening elderly.

Oscar....I don't care, bubba.  I have a number of orthodox Jews in my neighborhood.  Don't they qualify as a minority?  There's a Black family just up the street and others within a short distance.  If we are a bunch of racist thugs here in Ozaukee County, why are they here?  Let's think about this Oscar...oh...they can AFFORD to live here.

This complaint describes a county - Waukesha - that disburses federal funds to its municipalities without the required good faith effort to ascertain whether the recipients of that money are making housing accessible and affordable.

Problem found.  Taking federal money.  Came with strings, did it?  The smart money is on giving up the Federal money.  Then we can see how many non-whites we get out there, eh Oscar?

"On purpose" can involve action and inaction, a mindless continuation of a status quo seemingly built into suburban government DNA.

You are wrong here, Oscar.  "On purpose" by definition requires action.

None of it sounds racist on the surface. But the effects either betray the intent or render it moot.
We've all known this for years, the names the complaint names coming as no surprise at all: New Berlin, Brookfield, the Village of Menomonee Falls, even the City of Waukesha. HUD will investigate and try to bring the parties together.
I wish it luck. That's because when it comes to how we live, "together" is the last word that comes to mind for metro Milwaukee.


Saw that coming from a mile away.

Oscar, you are nothing but a two-bit race-baiter.  People who can afford the 'burbs live in the 'burbs.  And the 'burbs have a right to keep Gabrini Green out of their midst.

I Love Derrick Jackson

He gives me no shortage of material.

But there is little conclusive data on the direct relationship between taxation and entrepreneurship, and plenty of examples where nations with high taxes have robust small businesses.

Jackson's argument here is irrelevant.

The "tax" question is another place where we need to frame the debate differently.

“If you are open to a larger government, and the underlying objectives are to support education and the general welfare of the people, that can work. Entrepreneurs need qualified workers and they need customers who have good income,’’ Bosma (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) said.

Bosma hits on the crux of the matter.  The "Larger Government" issue is what matters here.  His statement regarding the needs of entreprenuers is correct but, at least in the US, is the issue not of income, but income vs. price.  As the government beast swallows more personal income through the bureaucracy to support unsustainable and/or worthless programs, less is available for people to spend and prices increase as people demand more in pay.  I may be oversimplifiying here, but you should be able  to do the math.

But the second issue here is the loss of liberty that goes hand-in-hand with a government supplied "general welfare".  As governments get bigger, they impose more restrictions on their citizens.  It becomes a soft tyranny where you must comply with the government to receive you daily bread.

Letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for all Americans, he (Zoltan Acs - George Mason University) said, would solve “80 percent’’ of our current fiscal problems, but instead, the tax cuts have been extended, leaving politicians to “to balance the budget on social programs that might help produce more educated workers and economic growth.’’

Acs also misses the bigger picture of government.  Rescinding the Bush-era tax cuts will not fix any budgetary problems.  Government has shown time and again that they have no ability to stop spending more  than they take in.  Throwing more money at the beast will only make it more hungry.

But it still gets back to larger choices. “If all the taxes go to war and not education, that’s not conducive, either,’’ Acs said. The United States may never be a crown jewel of socialism. But we could at least learn from other nations on taxes before we have no entrepreneurs to tax.

So now we have ascertained Acs' point of view.  He is a typical Lefty who is nothing more  than appeaser and a Socialist. The argument that we need to spend less on defense and more on people is absurd in light of the Constitution.  "Common Defense" is specifically called out in the Constitution as a responsibility of  the Federal Government.  Social Justice is not.

Jackson needs to study more.

Regaining Liberty

I have another blog and linked up a post that you should read here.

Rambling Rant

You can see what generated this rambling rant at Jill's place.

They are not REALLY separate issues. First, there are few (evil) corporations out there able to take on the enormous task of rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq. Halliburton is one, Bechtel is another.

Who pays for transportation of Union members and assorted "volunteers" to protest in Madison? The involvement of Trumka and his AFL/CIO thugs as well as OFA are well documented and one only needed to stop at their websites to see proof. BTW, I paid for my own transportation and my own water, food, etc. at every event I have attended. So has everyone else I know. That doesn't mean there isn't Koch funding. I don't have a problem with it and frankly, have no problem with the union funding of protests. But let's be consistent here, eh?

I'm going to go miles off-topic here, but electrons cost next-to-nothing.

The point is that the Left is so obvious in their designation of "Bogieman of the Month". It's almost always an oil company and it is always someone who donates to Conservative causes. They are, by definition, evil. OTOH, GE, feeding at the public trough along with unions and the likes of bailed-out Wall-Streeters don't seem to get as much as a boo. Fannie and Freddie - corrupt as hell and really at the center of the housing debacle should have SCORES of Lefties out there screaming bloody murder, but instead, the bile is spewn at the likes of Koch. And where are the folks screaming,"NO BLOOD FOR OIL!" and busting up Starbucks storefronts and burning cars? Where are the calls for impeachment over an "illegal war" (actually, in y'all's eye, three of them). Since Obama became president, I no longer see "Give Peace a Chance" banners in front of homes. GITMO remains open and no one seems to be complaining. We've got one guy trying to get government spending under control and you guys bitch about Koch? Really?

To be a Leftist is to be a hypocrite on a very large scale. You can point to hypocrisy on the Right; I stipulate to that. But it takes a Lefty to fail to recognize the log in their own eye while crying about the mote in anothers.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How The Left Thinks

I have often wondered how the Left can not revel in the success of another.  Why is it that "Big Corporations" are by definition, evil?  Why are rich capitalists evil as well, while "trust fund babies" seem to be good?  A comment here by a guy named Mike Lorrey sums up the thinking exactly:

It is a long standing tradition in english speaking culture, going back to the Salem witch trials and beyond, where there is an inherent refusal to accept the idea that the world is capricious, random, and that nature is simply *natural* without persona. Nature, the untamed wilderness, is metaphorically a representation of the wild subconcious Id of the human psyche, what puritans saw as our Original Sin. It was the fault of man that Earth was not a Paradise, but instead was a barren wilderness that required man to labor to tame it in order to eke a living from the earth.
Any wilderness that was not tamed but was dark and bountiful with life was the den of the serpent, satan, which sought to tempt man’s baser desires to sin through pride, gluttony, sloth, lust, etc. When Earth failed to remain tamed, it was seen to be the fault of satanic influences, usually brought about by whoever seemed to be benefitting in spite of calamity. When blight, or frost, or flood, or storm destroyed crops, those who did not lose crops were seen as using witchcraft to benefit themselves at others expense.
The modern AGW movement is thus inherently influenced by these puritanical christian archetypes. Warming has to be happening because western capitalism is evil (even though it has complied with environmental regulations in the West and our environment is the cleanest it has been since the era of colonization) and the fat cats make a profit when the rest of the world is going to heck, so clearly they have to be doing evil to someone in order to earn that profit.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Framing The Debate

I am not happy with the way the Budget Repair Bill debate has been framed by Republicans.  It goes something like this:

  • Public employees are too highly compensated.
  • Public employees make more than you
  • Public employees should not make more than you.
  • We should take away their ability to bargain so they can't make more than you.
Properly framed, the debate should look like this:

  • The state is in fiscal trouble. 
  • We value our state employees
  • Collective bargaining for anything other than pay will put us back into the mess we are currently in, regardless of the give-backs currently obtained.
Call me crazy.

Oscar Shows His Stripes

This is some very tortured logic and amazing cognitive dissonance.

What the Republican majority perpetrated in Madison was a flimflam, tantamount to malfeasance. What the absconding Senate Democrats did was their job - yes, by not doing it.
What the Republicans did - in both the Senate and the Assembly - was to subvert democracy, even if every court before which legal challenges come rule otherwise.

If what Oscar says is true (it's not), why wasn't he screaming for the heads of Democrats as they gutted the Patient Reimbursement Fund?  How about midnight budget deals to (once again) screw the taxpayer?

But what Republicans did far outweigh this sin of disrupted process. They insisted that a bill was a fiscal issue requiring a quorum of senators; stripped out some appropriations, leaving in items totaling millions; and then said it didn't require a quorum, something they could have done all along. And when the Democratic senators finally returned, leadership initially attempted to prevent them from voting because they were "in contempt."

How is this different from  "politics as usual"? This stuff happens all the time.  I don't particularly like it, but this is not some kind of sin which has never happened before.

And there is nothing good about a government that goes to court to deny access to a building where the democratic process is practiced.

The intimidation used by the Left is plenty to call for closing of the Capitol.  The thuggish bullying and death threats (which Oscar is unwilling to address) is well documented and there is reason to believe protest may well have spilled over into violence.

Recalls are planned for 16 senators, eight Republicans and eight Democrats. I'm not making a case here for how any of these should turn out. I'll leave it to you to discern how much, if at all, your targeted senator is culpable. I'm arguing that there is enough smoke here to yell the political equivalent of fire and then to call out the bucket brigade - recall.

So the exercise of representative democracy in the face of threats of violence and death is cause for recall?  

Oscar is hypocritical here in defending the Democrats and calling out the Republicans.  Had the Democrats stayed and voted, exercising the courage of their convictions and making their arguments, none of this would have come up. Oscar has also never called out a Democrat for bad behavior.  He never called out Doyle, he never called out Obama and  the administration.

There is no reason for recall of Republicans.  "Elections have consequences"; "we  won".  Democrats running from their obligations is another reason entirely.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tim Cullen - Hypocritical Douchebag

Maybe you should have defied your union masters, Tim.

I believe I must do everything I can to fight for what I believe in yet always ensure that the institution of the state Senate remains strong and intact.
I found it impossible to honor both of these obligations during the past month.
I went to Illinois to slow down a bill that took away workers' rights. I make no apology for that action, as controversial as it was to the people I represent.

You slowed it down, Tim.  But even then you didn't come back.  You claim to protect "workers' rights", yet you disenfranchised every voter in the state.

I am hopeful that the bright shining light of public scrutiny and media scrutiny on the actions of the majority members will cause them to slow down legislative proceedings to a pace that gives citizens a reasonable opportunity to understand legislation and a reasonable opportunity to express their views.

Your colleagues were given over 60 hours to express their views and you union masters were given weeks to express theirs.  Yet, you still did not return.

Senator Cullen:  Your motives are strictly political.  You expect to regain the Senate and do not want this same thuggery pulled on you.  Write what you want.  Claim how "sorry" you are.

You are a sorry excuse for a legislator.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another Thing To Make You Say "Wha?"

The Beer:  A mead was brewed last night and Liberty and Saison were brewed today.  One Left for tomorrow.

The Bicycle:  Some in the group want to ride tomorrow.  Weather permitting, I'll be one of them.

The VRWC:  That the author is faculty at Sarah Lawrence College is probably the best explanation for why he thinks this way.

It always seems to be, "it's just a little bit more".

Why an additional $100 to $200, which is the tax figure being discussed these days, would matter is hard to explain. Some residents may say they would prefer that teachers and other city employees pay more for their pensions, which have skyrocketed in the past few years.

Mills is talking about people who already pay $43,000 in property taxes annually (his info, not mine).  He also tells us that 40% of the residents of Bronxville make over $200,000 annually.  Let's just take the typical property owner making the aformentioned $200,000 per year.  That person pays an absurd 21.5% of their income in property taxes alone.

In an address to Congress, Roosevelt quoted industrialist Andrew Carnegie's observation: "Where wealth accrues honorably, the people are always silent partners." Roosevelt interpreted Carnegie's statement to mean that in a country like America, nobody got rich on his own. The wealthy prospered not only because of their own efforts, but because they were protected by the government and the legal system and could draw on an educated workforce.

This is true, but it is not license for government employees to use the private sector as their piggy bank. 

He goes on to use FDR's argument for "progressive taxation" of income to pay for WWII.  There is a significant difference here.  National defense is a federal Constitutional responsibility.  This is not about the Feds or about paying for a war.  This is about local issues where taxpayers are being bled dry by an unsustainable local and state bureaucracy.  

Roosevelt never tried to win over his diehard opponents. Instead, he reached beyond them, repeatedly making the case to the electorate that even if the issue were taxes, acting with "the warm courage of national unity" in mind meant more than just looking out for No. 1.

Roosevelt was trying to keep the world from falling into the hands of the Tokyo/Berlin Axis.  Arming Britain and later arming the Soviets and bringing the US into the war required sacrifice to save hundreds of millions of human beings.

How much is enough?  What tax rate is enough?  At what level is one considered "rich"?  Why shouldn't everyone pay something?  The Leftists like Mills can never answer those questions.  "It's only a little more".

What Happened Menfolk?

The feminization of America may be complete.

There is very little I agree with here outside of the premise.  Yes, it's true that many 20-something and even thirty-something men fit this profile.  But I am more inclined to look at this through the socially engineered roles men and women have been placed in over the last 50 years.

For 10,000 years of civilization, women have arguably been the civilizing influence.  In order for men to have their physical needs and wants met (i.e. sex), it was necessary to live in some type of civil society, where the role of women was determined to be the nurturer and keeper of the home (they had the babies - seems like a no-brainer) and men became the provider and protector.  Beginning in the 1960's those roles were artificially turned upside-down.  "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle".  There were no consequences to casual relationships; no need to get married.  Women were able to have whatever job they wished - many times whether they were qualified or not.  A child out of wedlock was no longer a "bastard child", but in a large part of society now both a trophy and a meal ticket.  Men were largely left to have "hook-ups" and go off to "boast and brag with the boys" (see Madeline Khan in Young Frankenstein).  There is no need for men to be responsible.  Couple this with our permissive society and what you are left with is a bunch of knuckle-dragging neanderthals who can get the "milk for free" and are then left free to roam because society no longer expects something from them.

And I didn't even get paid for that analysis.  Guys:  Grow a pair and become men.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How I Know There Will Be Civil War

The thuggery and lawlessness of the Left has been well documented since the 1930's.  Back in those days, it was unions.  In the 60's it was unions and the anti-war movement.  Then came the anarchists and the eco-nazis.  Now, it's those who have ridden the gravy train.  Truly responsible Wisconsin government is attempting to rein in the cost of government by addressing the highest cost of government - labor.  The response has been enlightening.  Intimidation, violence threats, death threats, boycotts and recall.  This is only the beginning.  When Prosser is elected in April and Republicans maintain their seats in the recalls, the Left will only become more violent.  Next, government will begin to address entitlements.  This is when the takers begin their literal war on the producers.  They will gladly kill the goose that lays the proverbial golden egg before they allow these cuts.  You see, these are people to whom money comes so easily they have no respect for its' value nor for those who earn it.  Taking the wealth of another is merely a means to an end.  They do not realize there is a limit.

Journal Of The Nuclear Mess In Japan

My ex-wife is Melinda Otte, a Nuclear Engineer currently working in the business.  She was kind enough to permit me to repost this from her Facebook page.  I will add that she is, well, brilliant.  Thanks to my daughter for obtaining said permission .  You can see that it covers several days.

NOTE:  Newer stuff is at the bottom.
I was at the offices of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) in Washington, D.C. on Friday.  It was kind of strange being there, because the NEI folks were getting updates about every 15-30 minutes.

Monday morning about 7:35

The explosions the news has talked about are hydrogen explosions, NOT nuclear explosions.  There have been two (at Fukushima Daiichi plant, units 1 and 3).  Unit 2 has lost its cooling capacity, and they are working on removing hydrogen from the Unit 2 reactor building (to avoid a similar explosion there).

The explosions are in the secondary (outer) containment buildings, but the primary containment and the reactors themselves are safe (at this point)

All the reactors are “shut down,” but in a nuclear reactor, you need to continue to cool the fuel even when the reactors are “turned off.”  There were some issues with providing cooling water to some of the reactors (as a result of the 8.9 earthquake and a huge tsunami), and they are using sea water at some of the plants to ensure enough cooling water is available.

There was some mention of radiation exposures on the news.  Actual radiation levels at that time were 155 millirem per hour on site.  Millirem and rem are just units of radiation exposure.  To put this amount into perspective, federal regulations in the US limit radiation exposure to the general public from a nuclear plant to 100 millirem per year, but they allow nuclear workers to receive 5000 millirem (or 5 rem) per year.  If it was 155 millirem on site, it would have been MUCH lower outside the plant, because radiation dose decreases significantly as you increase the distance.  (Example—if you’re 1 foot away from the source of radiation and you’re getting 155 millirem per hour, at 10 feet away you’re only getting 1.55 millirem per hour of exposure.)  We have areas in our plant that are well above 155 millirem per hour, and people go in and perform work in those areas.

An additional reference point—you get and average of about 300 millirem per year from natural radiation (from rocks, bricks, the sun, natural radioactive gases in the air, etc.) every year, depending on where you live.  Medical procedures (like a CAT scan), range from about 150 millirem (for a Barium swallow procedure) up to about 5700 millirem for a full blown angioplasty (heart study).  

The plants in Japan were designed to withstand the force of powerful seismic events, and the containment structures did an awesome job of withstanding the earthquake (even this “mother of all earthquakes”).  At this time, the primary containments are all intact.  They were also designed to withstand tsunamis, but this one exceeded the design basis.  The force of Thursday’s tsunami flooded the diesel generators and their fuel.  Lack of emergency power is what is challenging the reactor cooling systems.  [No power to pump the water.]  They expect there has been some damage to the fuel in reactors 1 and 3, but with if the primary containments are intact, this does not pose a threat to the public.  (The steel and concrete containment vessels, with walls from 40 to 80 inches thick, are designed to contain the radioactive materials.)

Bottom line:  Japan is facing what literally can be considered a “worst case” disaster and, thus far, even the most seriously damaged of its 54 reactors has not released radiation at levels that would harm the public.

Some additional info: Nuclear power plant operators in the U.S. are trained to ensure that their plants will achieve and maintain safe shutdown during a station blackout scenario (loss of offsite power AND loss of onsite emergency AC power). They have operating procedures that guide them on actions to be taken in responding to this condition, and they practice this frequently in the plant simulator.

Monday evening at 7:50

Update on Japan. There has been a "blast" heard at the Fukushima Daiichi 2 plant, and they are concerned there there is a defect in the containment, possibly impacting the torus within containment.
The torus, or suppression pool, contains water and is used to remove excessive heat if steam is released (by condensing the steam). This is where my knowledge breaks down because I don't know much about Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs). I know about Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs).  If it were a PWR with a crack in the coolant piping, we could [simplified] keep putting water in and letting it run out through the crack, carrying some of the heat with it.  I really don’t know what they can or can’t do with a BWR.  I know this is serious and they are working on continuing cooling.  Fuel most likely is damaged with some melting, but that is not the horrendous event that many fear mongers make it out to be.  There was some significant melting at Three Mile Island, and there was very little impact on the general public.
They are a far cry from being out of the woods.  Things will get more serious if something happens to the containment for the reactor with plutonium.  But even then, if they can keep cooling water to the reactors, that is more than half the battle.
I'm pretty impressed with the fact that they are keeping up with things in the face of the chaos in the aftermath of a major earthquake and that tsunami. Just getting around is challenging and they are having to deal with THIS? God bless them!! I'm praying for their continued fortitude and wisdom to make the right decisions, and to keep themselves safe as well as the public.

Tuesday, around noon

Ready for another Japan update?  I have seen some updated numbers released for radiation dose rates.  As of this morning (9:15 EDT), the radiation levels at the site boundary of Fukushima Daiichi were reported to be 821 millirem per hour.  This is much higher than they like—remember from earlier posts that regulations limit exposure to the public to 100 millirem per year.  They have evacuated the general public to a 12 mile radius around the plant.  If the radiation stayed at the plant, the public outside the 12 mile radius would be receiving essentially no dose.  But, it looks like the wind is blosing to the south, and has carried the radioactive “plume” along with it.  As it moves, it will disperse and be diluted.  They were seeing about 0.4 millirem about 200 km south of the plant (about 124 miles).

So, the measurement was 40 rem/hr (40,000 millirem) near the Unit 3 reactor, 821 millirem at the site boundary, and 0.4 millirem at 124 miles.  [NOTE:  without knowing what the wind is doing or the plume, we can’t make too many judgments about what is happening in the 124 miles between the plant and the measurement point.  If the radiation was released in a “puff”, it could be mostly contained in the “cloud” that is passing over the measurement point.  Or, it could be a plume that is stretching from the plant to 124 miles away. Without more information, I just don’t know.

So—what does this level of radiation mean?  The biggest impact, of course, is on the (about) 50 workers remaining in the plant.  (Again, God bless these folks—they are putting themselves out there to get this under control.)  You can work in a 40 rem/hour field for about half an hour with no detectable effects.  (You wouldn’t see anything on medical tests, etc.)  If the workers have to go into a 40 rem/hour field to take action, they will most likely “tag team” it, so no one person would be in the field too long.

If radiation is released in a “cloud” and a person is standing there when it passes, they get radiation exposure and they can become contaminated.  (This means that some of the radioactive dust can stick to them.)  About 150 people near the Fukushima Daiichi site were checked for contamination and 23 people had to be decontaminated.  [There were no contamination levels provided, so I can’t talk about how serious this was.]  This probably means that they got to take a shower and change clothes [and shoes].  Contamination is physically like any other dirt.  You wash it off.  (No wire brushes allowed—for you Silkwood fans!)

A major concern when a radioactive plume is passing through, is breathing in contamination.  (Once it’s inside of you, you can’t wash it off.  You have to wait for your “biological processes” to get rid of it.  They typically advise the public to “shelter,” i.e., go into a house or building until the plume passes, so it can’t deposit contamination on them and the won’t breath it in.  [Also, the exposure received is less because of the extra distance between you and the plume.]

One of the concerns about the plume is the radioactive iodine it contains.  Iodine collects in your thyroid.  This is why the Japanese officials were passing out potassium iodide tablets for people to take.  [Fill the thyroid up with “good” iodine, and if you breathe in radioactive iodine, no more will “fit,” so the body just gets rid of it.]

There was a question about the 400 millisieverts reported on the news.  This is the same as 40,000 millirem, or the 40 rem discussed above.  Just a different unit of measurement (like miles and kilometers).

Tuesday afternoon about 1:50

The fire reported on unit 4 was caused by an oil leak, and was NOT in the spent (used) fuel pool as reported by the media.  In addition, this unit was in a maintenance outage, and there is no fuel in the reactor at that unit.  (For those who have heard me talk about refueling outages and notice that I “disappear” for several weeks at a time, this should sound familiar to you!)

Question asked by friend:  I read a story about the workers who are still there.  It said they are wearing protective gear and taking turns to try to limit their exposure.  How effective is the protective gear? 

Answer:  The protective gear they are talking about is most likely to protect them from contamination. They are probably also wearing safety glasses which does protect their eyes from beta radiation. They may or may not be wearing respirators. (There is a tradeoff between the protection provided by respirators and the extra time it may take you to do the job because the respirators are kind of cumbersome.)

Question:  I have some friends in Canada who think that the radiation “cloud” could be moving their way and are worried that they are at risk for contamination. 

Answer:  There will most likely be very low levels of radiation detectable in some other countries, but I would not expect it to be a significant amount at this time.  Right now they are seeing about 0.4 millirem 124 miles south of the Japanese plants.  I don’t know if they only have those numbers because the winds are blowing in that direction, or if it’s because Japan is kind of long an narrow, and they can’t get that far away to measure in an east/west direction.  If your friend lives in western Canada, it might be detectable, but unless things get significantly worse, I doubt it.  [NOTE:  I don’t know weather conditions, etc., so it’s hard to even guess without more information.]  But, if the current “cloud” made it all the way to Canada, intact, and they actually measure 0.4 millirem per hour all the way over there, and it stayed there for an entire year, intact and at that same exposure level, then everybody would STILL get less than the annual limit allowed for radiation workers.  The workers that we stuff up inside steam generators to do some work get that much radiation all the time.  Year after year.  [NOTE:  the cloud that contains 0.4 millirem per hour in Japan will have dispersed and been diluted by the time it makes it to Canada, so it wouldn’t be anywhere close to 0.4 millirem when it got there.  And the radioactive material would decay throughout the year, so even if it ALL got there, it wouldn’t stay at that “strength.”  It would continue to disperse and decay.]

Radioactive iodine poses a threat to young children, because it collects in their thyroids, and young children are growing faster than the rest of us, which makes them more sensitive to radiation.  But, Iodine-131 has about an 8 hour half life.  (This means that in 8 hours, about half of it has undergone radioactive decay and is gone.  So after 16 hours, you would only have a fourth of the original, and after 24 hours, there would only be an eighth of it….)  They are probably giving potassium iodide to all the children around the Japanese reactors to protect their thyroids.  With an 8-hour half life, the amount of iodine-131 that reaches Canada would be minimal. 

Pregnant women are of concern (because the cells in the unborn child are reproducing at a tremendous rate, which again, makes them more sensitive to radiation).  But we have pregnant women working at nuclear plants.  The National Council on Radiation Protection recommends they be limited to 500 millirem for the entire term of pregnancy.  So again, barring significant changes, I wouldn’t expect enough radiation to make it as far as Canada to even begin to challenge that.

Tuesday evening, 7:50

I would recommend against wasting your time buying iodine tablets [if you are in the US/Canada].  See explanation on iodine in response to question directly before this.

It's a serious situation and certainly worthy of being nervous about, especially if you live in Japan. Impact on the US should be minimal for current conditions.

Thursday Morning about 11 am

There is concern about the condition of the spent (used) fuel pools at a couple of the reactors.  (One source says that in one, the fuel is completely uncovered.  Another source says it is not yet completely uncovered.)  Also, the radiation levels are high enough to prevent people from working in the immediate area.

They have begun using helicopters to drop water on reactors to provide cooling.  Each helicopter can drop about 7.5 tons of water.  (wow!)

Reports are that radiation levels at the plants are continuing to drop at the plant.  I did see a report that they measured 33 millirem per hour at about 12 miles from the plant.  (This would be the edge of the evacuation zone.)  This is probably why the US government is encouraging an US citizens to increase their distance to the 50 mile radius.  (And why they are being encouraged to just leave.)  But, you can stay in that field for about 151 hours and still be below the limits that US regulations allow workers to receive, and for more than 600 hours before any noticeable effects. 

Radiation Protection Primer, or Radiation Protection 101:

This can be summed up in three words:  Time, Distance and Shielding.

Time:  Reduce the time you're in a radiation area (OR, WAIT until the radiation levels have decreased).  This is why the workers are "tag teaming" different activities, so that no one individual is in the high radiation fields too long.  Also, why some activities are being resumed because radiation levels at the plant have decreased.

Distance:  Put more distance between yourself and the source of radiation.  This is why the general public is being evacuated from the areas immediately surrounding the plant (and out to 12 miles).  And why the US is telling its folks in Japan, "yeah, you might want to evacuate out to 50 miles, or better yet, just come home."

Shielding:  Put additional shielding between you and the source of radiation.  Inside the plants, we often use concrete or lead to provide shielding from the higher radiation areas.  This is another reason the water being lost from the spent fuel pools is not good.  In addition to cooling, it also provides a shield from the radiation.  Typically, spent fuel pools are open, meaning they are not a covered tank.  They are inside a building, but it sounds like the roof has been torn off by one or more of them at the Japanese reactors.  They keep enough water in them to provide enough sheilding that you can walk around the edge of the pool and look in.  (We even take some tours in to look at our spent fuel pool.)  But when you lose that layer of water, you lose both cooling and shielding.

I know NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute) plans their updates JUST to ensure that they priovide one AFTER I have updated my notes.... But here's another one.

Some information behind the decision to suggest that US citizens increase the evacuation distance to 50 miles vs. the 12 being recommended by the Japanese government:  According to NEI, this was more because of the lack of a lot of information concerning the dose rates in the area.  I know in the US, our emergency response organization includes Offsite Monitoring Teams that provide actual information on rad levels in the area around the plant.  Japan probably does the same thing, but remember, they've had an 8.9 level earthquake, and they probably can't just easily hop in the truck and zoom over to a spot 5 miles away to check the rad levels there.   Also, in part, the recommendation for non-Japanese citizens to leave is based on limited services, rather than concern on radiation releases.

Some info on radiation levels in neighboring countries following Chernobyl
I am NOT trying to imply that we have another Chernobyl here, but I've had questions about what some other countries (espcially the US and Canada) can expect to see from the current situation in Japan.  Not enough information is available right now for me to give a good answer to that.  But I CAN share what happened after Chernobyl:

Radiation levels in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident were 1 millirem per year in the United States and in Canada. By comparison, each person receives the same radiation dose from watching television over a year’s time. Among countries neighboring the site of the Chernobyl accident, Bulgaria received the highest radiation dose at 76 millirem per year, followed by Austria at 68 millirem per year, Greece at 59 millirem per year, and Finland at 45.

If you've read the earlier information in this note, you'll know that all these values were considerably less than what you receive from natural background radiation (which averages about 300 millirem per year, depending on where you live).  So, even after Chernobyl (and we're nowhere near that level of concern at this point!) the radiation levels at the countries "right next door" were not that bad.

Reported status of Japanese plants as of 11:35 this morning:

The reactors at Fukushima Daiichi are in stable condition and being cooled by seawater.  They are still trying to provide additional cooling water to spent fuel pools at units 3 and 4.

Reactor 1:  Reactor in stable condition, primary containment intact.  Cooling with seawater.
Reactor 2:  Reactor in stable condition, cooling with seawater.  They are think now that the primary containment may still be intact (contrary to what was reported earlier).  They are still trying to get some offsite power restored to this site.
Reactor 3:  stable and being cooled by seawater.  Primary containment believed to be intact.  On one side of the spent fuel pool, the concrete structure has collapsed, but the stainless steel liner is still in place, based on aerial photos, and there is still some cooling water.  Helicopters are dropping additional cooling water here.
Reactors 5 and 6 were both shutdown and containments (both primary and secondary) are intact here. 
(Note:  Reactor 4 contains no fuel, as it had been offloaded for a maintenance outage.  Only concern here is for the spent fuel pool.)

Fukushima DainiAll four reactors at the Fukushima Daini plant have reached cold shutdown conditions with normal cooling being maintained using residual heat removal systems. 
Information on Spent Fuel Pools and why everyone is concerned about THEM.
Spent Fuel Pools store used nuclear fuel.  There are 7 of these at the Fukushima Daiichi plant—one for each reactor and a shared pool.  About 60% of the used fuel on site is in the shared pool that is in a building separate from the reactor building.  The rest is split between the 6 reactor storage pools and some dry storage containers.  The 6 reactor storage pools are located on top of the buildings.

The pools are designed to ensure enough water to provide cooling and radiation shielding.  Pools are designed so water cannot drain down because of breaks in the coolant piping.  (I.e., cooling water comes in at the top of the pool, so the pool can’t be drained through that piping.)  The only way to rapidly drain a spent fuel pool is to have structural damage to the walls and the floor.  (Note:  there was damage to the concrete structure on the walls of the unit 4 pool, but the stainless steel liner appears to be intact.) 

Spent fuel pool cooling is important because the used fuel continues to produce heat even after it has been removed from the reactor.  But, the rate that heat is produced is less and less the longer it has been out of the reactor.  If cooling to the pool is lost, you would expect a slow temperature increase, so the water would evaporate a little faster, and loss of cooling for extended periods could result in mild boiling.   This is slow, and would lower the pool level by only a few percent per day.  Plants typically keep AT LEAST 16 feet of water over the spent fuel for shielding purposes, so you should have a few weeks to find another way to add water to the pools (like using a fire hose or dropping it in from above) before the fuel is uncovered.

If the fuel does become uncovered, it’s not as serious as if the fuel in the reactors is uncovered, because, remember, this fuel is producing heat at a slower and slower rate the longer it’s been out of the reactor.  So it’s much less likely to melt.  There will probably still be some clad damage (clad is the metallic covering surrounding the fuel) and some reaction between the (now very hot clad) with the air to produce some hydrogen.  (Remember, hydrogen buildup was what caused the explosions earlier.)  Because the fuel in the spent fuel pools is producing less and less heat, the hydrogen production would be a lot less than that from fuel in the reactors. 

As the water level in the spent fuel pools decreases, the radiation levels in the area will increase because the water also provides a shield from the radiation.  This would be detected by radiation monitors in the area.

Current radiation levels update (Thursday at about 1:30 pm)

Radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi site boundary today were measured to be about 2 to 3 millirem per hour.  Is the situation over?  No, definitely not.  There is still the potential for the conditions to escalate.  I (personally) would be surprised, but very pleased, if there were not other releases of radiation still to come.  They are still working on ensuring a continued cooling supply to reactors and fuel pools and restoring electricity.