Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi: on the skyline

Best of luck, fellas. We're all pulling for you.
Photo credit: Tokyo Electric Power/AP/cbc.ca
From David Danielo's "Blood Stripes: The Grunt's View of the War In Iraq":
A problem unit is "on the skyline." This expression comes from the way Marines are trained to climb over an obstacle. They are taught to keep a low profile: being on the skyline, absent cover and concealment, is wrong and could get a person killed.

No unit wants to be on the skyline. Their commanders closely scrutinize them to decipher the exact reason behind their flawed performance...

Every Marine spends at least some time as a boot. Every unit -- from squads to regiments -- spends at least a few days on the skyline. The test of the individual Marine and unit leader comes when they are the boots or outcasts or their units are on the skyline. Can they bounce back? Can they fix themselves? Nobody asks these questions unless the unit or Marine is skylined.
This blog is more about the scientist than about the science. So it probably comes as no surprise that I find myself in extreme sympathy with the people trying to stop whatever incident may be occurring at these plants. Of course, the engineers and operators at Fukushima Daiichi are skylined through no fault of their own; they were the men and women who happened to be there (or happened to work there) when this very awful double natural disaster hit.

But the fact of the matter is that a small group of people (less than 150?) are trying desperately to stop some very dangerous things from happening. Within this group of people, there undoubtedly must be some people who have gone without sleep for days, who are on the verge of breaking but have summoned all their strength and self-discipline to carry on. Outside of this group is a small cottage industry of people who are kibitizing, Monday-morning quarterbacking and doomsaying. 'Twas always thus; if it happens to you and your group (whatever it might be), you just have to work the problem, ignore everything else and suck it up.

All I can say is: fellas, best of wishes. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.


  1. Those folks stewarding the reactor sites through these issues are truly amazing people. I told my class yesterday how heroic I found them.

  2. Those workers are the heroes, not the people who can dunk a basketball. They are risking their lives to save others.

  3. This is from the NYT:

    "Engineers at the plant, working at tremendous personal risk, on Tuesday continued efforts to cool down the most heavily damaged unit, reactor No. 2, by pumping in seawater. According to government statements, most of the 800 workers at the plant had been withdrawn, leaving 50 or so in a desperate effort to keep the cores of three stricken reactors cooled with seawater pumped by firefighting equipment. Crews battled to put out the fire at the No. 4 reactor, which they said they had done just after noon on Tuesday."

    Simply amazing what these people are doing for their neighbors. This IS NOT being talked about enough!

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20