Posts Tagged ‘Earthquake’

Japan’s Nuclear Heroes

Amidst the uncertainty and potential of a nuclear catastrophe the world has never seen on such a scale, there are selfless heroes working at great personal risk at this hour to contain the specter of unspeakable disaster. Someday the story will emerge of the heroic fight that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It is a horrendous irony that the only people to have suffered the brunt of a nuclear attack during World War II, should be the ones having to cope with the nuclear dangers that have been unleashed in the wake of Friday’s 9.0 earthquake. And among the brave and suffering Japanese people right now are an estimated 50 safety workers toiling at great personal risk to contain and prevent a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima reactor #2.

The story is changing by the hour but what Monday night looked like the sure unfolding of a calamity has now stabilized somewhat as spiking radiation levels near the plant have come down considerably. These Japanese safety workers look for all the world like the first responders of 9/11. They are almost certainly sacrificing their lives, through either further explosions (and there have already been three at the plant including one at reactor #2) or acute radiation poisoning.

Their continued presence offers hope. The implications, if they should have to leave, are bleak. From the New York Times:

If all workers do in fact leave the plant, the nuclear fuel in all three reactors is likely to melt down, which would lead to wholesale releases of radioactive material — by far the largest accident of its kind since Chernobyl.

Tokyo, with a population near 13 million, and one of the largest cities on the planet Earth, is just 170 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Though radiation readings there have recently abated, the city government reported Monday that they had occasionally exceeded normal levels by 20 times.

For the Japanese people, many lives are depending on the success of those 50 brave souls working at great peril for the greater good at the Fukushima plant. Besides them, only the fickle direction of the wind may determine who eventually gets sick, who dies and who lives.

No Words

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

It is times like these when the things that matter- and don’t matter- are put in stark relief. We will probably never know how many men, women and children perished in Tuesday’s horrific earthquake in Haiti. One hundred thousand, five hundred thousand. Whatever the number, it is beyond comprehension.

The images are haunting and frightening. Hell unleashed upon the earth. The bodies of dead children lined up under blankets next to their shattered schools. The woman, pictured above, perhaps the iconic still-photo of this terrible disaster, dazed and covered with dust after she has just been rescued. The flattened Presidential Palace. The video on CBS News of the earth shaking as if highways and buildings had been placed in a dice tumbler. That is the horror of an earthquake-it is the land beneath your feet no longer being dependable. Nowhere to run.

Here’s what seemed important or interesting recently and no longer matters in the slightest:

– Jay Leno’s ego
– Sarah Palin’s book sales
– Harry Reid on Obama
– Mark McGwire on steroids
– Fat Cat Bankers (send your bonuses to Haiti)

Life and silliness will resume soon enough. For now, the misery of a small, decimated nation with grief and terror heaped upon poverty and hopelessness, fills the screen and obscures all else.

Categories: Haiti Tags: , , ,

Earthquake in Haiti: How to Help

January 13, 2010 1 comment

It is a scene of utter devastation. It was afternoon in Haiti when the earthquake hit and many kids were in school buildings that collapsed. Bodies are being piled up on the streets. From shacks that were home to the poorest of the poor to the Presidential Palace to the Headquarters of UN Peacekeepers, the capital city of Port-Au-Prince has been destroyed.

Here’s a site that referred in October of 2008 to an article in a Haitian newspaper that quoted a geologist as saying an earthquake in Port-Au-Prince was a distinct possibility and describes how devastating it would be:

A recent article in Haiti’s Le Matin newspaper has quoted 65 year old geologist and former professor at the Geological Institute of Havana, Patrick Charles, as stating that “conditions are ripe for major seismic activity in Port-au-Prince. The inhabitants of the Haitian capital need to prepare themselves for an event which will inevitably occur…” According to him, the danger is imminent. He ads “Thank God that science has provided instruments that help predict these types of events and show how we have arrived at these conclusions.”

According to Patrick Charles, Port-au-Prince is traversed by a large fault which is part of the Enriquillo Fault Zone. The fault starts in Petionville and follows the Southern Peninsula ending at Tiburon. In 1751 and 1771, this town was completely destroyed by an earthquake. As proof to his claims, he referred to recent tremors that have occurred in Petionville, Delmas, Croix des Bouquets, and La Plaine. Minor tremors such as these usually signal a larger earthquake to come

It is a humanitarian disaster of the first order.

These are reputable organizations that need donations to get relief to these people.

CARE, World Vision, American Jewish World Service

ABC News lists links and contacts to these additional organizations:

American Red Cross
Mercy Corps
Food for the Hungry
Doctors Without Borders
Partners in Health
World Food Programme