Sixty-seven thousand five hundred tons — that is the amount of radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear plant that somehow needs to be gotten rid of. As I understand it, this huge amount of radioactive water is located in the basements, hindering the engineers from getting to the generators (also located in the basements), that they would need to re-start in order to cool down the reactors. The TEPCO engineers have not been able to access the cooling systems since March 11, the day of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.
Yesterday evening the 19th of April, the Chief Executive Officer of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, came to Japan to especially announce at a press conference in Tokyo that they have come up with a solution to the crisis. They will build a machine, capable of decontaminating 50 tons of water an hour, enabling the recycling and reusing of this water to cool the reactors, and finally allowing access to the basement generators.
What seemed to me to be the light at the end of the tunnel, the break of dawn from the nightmare of hell… the hale-to-the-king moment … there was not one single word of the news conference mentioned in the major Japanese news sites (Kyodo and Japan Times). I found two posts that evening of this fantastic news, both of which were investment sites (the english-language Nikkei and the French Boursier).
So far, Japan’s solution had been to drop water into the reactors by helicopter. But what do they think this is? A forest fire? They also have had to dump radioactive water into the ocean to make way for more highly contaminated water. Now what sort of rocket science is that?
Japan should be rejoicing that a viable, practical, wonderful solution has been found. But perhaps Japan does not want to appear inadequate: 1. that it has had to have their major crisis solved by a foreigner, and 2. that that foreigner is a woman.
In a country known to relegate women to walk behind men, and in a country where the majority of the people are discreetly but intensely xenophobic, it is quite possible that the silence is a culturally induced face-saving measure.