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Certainly, action was much more co-ordinated, determined, and thorough. That is facilitated by an authoritarian state and a command economy, of course.

On a technical level, it seems like they did everything possibe as quickly as possible, unlike the Fukushima clusterfuc. A couple of provisos :

  • Not having to respect human rights makes things a lot easier, in particular you can expose your workers to much higher levels of radiation (then abandon them. Though, to be fair, it was largely the post-Soviet regime that abandoned them.)
  • Not being subject to close scrutiny by the media of the entire world makes it easier to come out looking relatively good.

Would Japan have reacted more effectively to such a crisis if it had happened in the 1980s? That doesn't seem obvious to me. I think there are cultural issues about crisis management involved.

On balance, if I had to live through a major nuclear crisis, I would prefer to do so in the USA or France. Not only because they know the tech best, but because I have a feeling they are generically better at crisis management.

[duck and cover]

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:43:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
March 25
Because of the Soviet lack of transparency it was possible for them to send in firefighters without telling them what they were working on. It was also possible for the authorities to start evacuating Pripyat within 48 hours, before Forsmark in Sweden raised the alert due to the radiation levels. It was also possible for the Soviets to deploy thousands of "liquidators" to do the cleanup after the fire was out.

Here we have a situation where safety of emergency workers is taken seriously and information flows relatively openly, which probably results in slower crisis response and contamination over longer times.

Compare the incident of the Japanese workers wading ankle-deep in radioactive water with the Chernobyl firefighters.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
if I had to live through a major nuclear crisis, I would prefer to do so in the USA or France. Not only because they know the tech best, but because I have a feeling they are generically better at crisis management
I don't know about France, but the Katrina disaster in New Orleans completely dispelled any notion that the US can do crisis management.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about France, but the USA!? At crisis management!?

in particular you can expose your workers

Most of the active-duty victims were the more than two hundred thousand liquidators, who were hired volunteers and "volunteers":

(then abandon them. Though, to be fair, it was largely the post-Soviet regime that abandoned them.)

The diseases would have come whether they are abandoned or not. It is a myth spun by the nuclear industry that diseases among liquidators and evacuees could be down to the general drop of healthcare after the collapse of the Soviet union, whereas multiple control group studies showed that disease rates are way above that in the general populations.

I think if I had to choose between Japanese and Soviet disaster management, I would have chosen the Japanese: rather be safely evacuated while meltdown containment is unwinding than stave off a technically greater disaster at the price of much greater human disaster.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:56:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, despite the criticism, I would say the Japanese have been more transparent than the Soviets and maybe that the Americans at TMI.

Though that may be a function of not being able to hide the fact that a nuclear plant had been affected by the tsunami and was on battery power on the first day.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 10:13:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do get a sense that much of the outcry against hiding information in Japan is due to failure to find or correctly interpret relevant information. This morning I watched a news channel where an 'expert' admonished the Japanese government for not setting up monitoring stations in the 100 km zone around the plant and publish the results regularly – not knowing they do so for two weeks already, on multiple sites.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 10:31:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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