Japan Nuclear Disaster – Implications for Jamaica and the Consumer Electronics World

The Nuclear disaster that was the result of the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, 270km (170miles) North East of Tokyo which is run by Tokyo Power Electric Co has implications not only for Japan, but for the entire world. If you have read my previous article entitled “Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown is the Asian Tiger Chernobyl”, it would be as obvious as the nose on your face.


Chernobyl on June 2nd 1986, when Reactor No. 4 blew her top and irradiated thousands of square miles, making it unlivable, does not even begin to compare to this disaster. Dear reader, bear witness to the Dangers of Nuclear Power and those whose wealth on which it is built, as it has implications for even us as Jamaicans.

The Death Toll from the 9.0 Earthquake has already claimed ten thousand (10,000) lives and the evacuation zone around Okuma, where Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant is located has an evacuation zone widened to 12.5 km, affecting some twenty one thousand (210,000) residents

The word of Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan on Sunday March 13th 2011, expresses the gravity of the situation: “The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War II. We’re under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis”.

Already the Radiation Cloud from the explosion is on its way towards the America. It may reach the Caribbean within a week in the form of Radioactive Rain. At least the Internet is going strong, allowing Japanese and their relatives to communicate.

With these ominous statements, one would be tempted to say “That’s because Japan is a major supplier of electronic gadgets!”. This is only partially true. Japan is not only a manufacturer of Electronics devices, with companies such as Sony and Hitachi being headquartered in Japan near Tokyo City. They are also one of the largest component suppliers in all of Asia!

You may recall, dear reader, that in a previous article of mine entitled, Chinese Crisis in Rare Earth Metals – Afghanistan is Silicon Valley’s Saviour, I pointed out the fact that the People’s Republic of China is the major supplier of Rare Earth Metals with 97% of world reserves being within their territorial borders. Japan at the time was experiencing a crunch in the supply of Rare Earths.

Thus, they began looking towards Vietnam for supplies of their most needed raw material after China halted supplies for them to become a powerhouse in the manufacturing of All-Electric Vehicles, now in high demand in the United States. Good to point out at this point that the processing of any metal, be it Aluminum to Zirconium requires vast amount of cheap energy.

As Japan is not a known Net Importer of Oil, being as the Japanese Archapelago exploits Oil and Gas Deposits in the Ring of Fire Japan and has magnetic levitation trains and heavy industries as evidenced above. Logically, if not from a purely anecdotal point of view, they must clearly be using a very cheap source of power.

It is this cheap source of power that is the driving force behind the feudal Japan’s economic success, aside from its recovery from WWII. Much as the People’s Republic of China is currently doing by tapping into sources of Energy, be it Coal, Natural Gas, whether on Land or under the Sea.

Nuclear Power, despite all its history with names such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945) and the famous example of Nuclear Power Plant accidents at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), was still trusted by the Government of Japan.

This despite well-known, documented bureaucratic bungling, corruption and cover-ups between Government Inspectors and the Tokyo Power Electric Company. Even the lack of Robots to access sections of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant seems glaring strange in a land that prides itself on its cutting-edge research into Robotics.

For the record, the accidents at Three Mile Island, which occurred in the year I was born, leaked 17 curies of Radioactive Material into the atmosphere. Chernobyl, the same Year as Hurricane Glibert, did one better, releasing 50 megacuries (50,000,000) of Radioactive Material into the surroundings.

Like Chernobyl, Tokyo Power Electric Co Engineers may soon have to start resorting to using Lead to shield the vault and absorb radiation and Boron Carbide to absorb stray Neutrons from the still active Nuclear Fuel Rods.

Additionally Dolomite will have to be dumped onto the now burnt-out reactor to reduce Carbon Dioxide levels elevated due to the burning Nuclear Fuel Rods, which contain powdered Graphite and so double as the Graphite Control Rods.

Further bombardments of Sand and Clay will then have to be placed atop to smother anything still burning by cutting off oxygen and reduce the emission of Radioactive Nucleotides.

A permanent tomb of Concrete will then be poured over the structure to seal it in. Hopefully, the reaction will stop and not continue to a full meltdown, eating through the steel and concrete Containment Vessel below and into the environment.

This after they have FULLY succeeded cooling the now exposed Nuclear Reactor with Seawater and Boron Carbide, avoiding Total Nuclear Meltdown and possibly a Nuclear Explosion. It is yet to be fully known how much Radioactive Material, be it Heavy Water, Contaminated Seawater or Contaminants in the Air has leaked into the surrounding air.

This despite numerous accidents at various Nuclear Plants across Japan and a lack of Robotics to be used to access areas of the plant in case of Radiation Leaks in a country reputed to be King of Robotics.

The loss of cheap electricity, however, is affecting Japan’s ability to meet supply demands for components, specifically LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays) and Notebook Batteries components manufactured by Sony and Hitachi in Japan for Laptop, Notebook and Tablet assembly in The People’s Republic of China.

Flash Memory, another component necessary for the making of MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, smartphones the Apple iPad and other Tablets in general, will definitely be in short supply come this Summer of 2011, when demand in the US of A is expected to peak.

This as 40% of the World’s supply of NAND (NOT And Logic) Flash chips and 15% of the World’s DRAM Memory components are manufactured in Japan according to analyst Objective Analysis. Both SanDisk and Toshiba are located in Japan.

SanDisk put out a statement on Friday March 11th 2011, reprinted here out of interest, quote: “The epicenter of the powerful earthquake was approximately 500 miles from Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, Japan, the location of the two Toshiba-SanDisk joint-venture semiconductor manufacturing plants, Fab 3 and Fab 4. Both fabs were down for a short period of time due to the earthquake and were back up and operational as of Friday morning, Pacific Time.”

SanDisk, as you may remember from a previous article of mine on the Apple Macbook Air, is a major manufacturer of NAND Flash SSD (Solid State Harddrive). But Samsung, who are headquartered in South Korea, is a component supplier to Apple Inc for the Apple iPad to the tune of US$7.8 billion. Thus Apple’ Supply Cart of components, fortunately, was not affected!!

Tech and gadget lovers, stop panicking then! The Apple iPad 2 supplies are safe and the Apple iPhone 5 is coming on schedule in June 2010 – assuming no earthquake hits South Korea! By then the Plants will be back up again to meet the coming demand.

Jamaica, however, would do best to heed the words of Local Government Minister of the PNP, Senator Dean Peart who spoke in 2007 with regards to the construct the Tsunami Early Warning System.

Believe it or not a basic early warning can be built base on animals! Thought not scientific, it is a well documented fact that the People’s Republic of China predicted a major earthquake back in 1974 based on the strange behaviour of animals.

The Government of the People’s Republic of China was able to save the lives of one million (1,000,000) people in the city of Haiching by evacuating them four (4) days before a major earthquake of 7.4 on the Richter Scale on February 4th 1974.

They had sent out pamphlets warning people to leave and seek higher ground, based on observations of pandas doing curious dances, snakes freezing above ground instead of hiding in burrows, pigs breaking out of their pens and chickens flying up in trees!

Inspired by these events, Dr. Barry Raleigh of the US Geological Survey (USGS) commented that “there appears little doubt that animal behaviour strongly influenced their prediction”. Since then numerous experiments have been conducted to prove that animal behaviors is somehow being influence by the Earth’s changing Magnetic field sometimes weeks before an Earthquake!

From studies on cockroaches, catfish to wild animals from Africa kept in captivity in zoos, there is an established, albeit not thoroughly scientific, link between animal behaviors and Earthquakes.

Thus, Jamaica could take advantage of these pseudo-scientific findings and do like the Russians did in Uzbekistan: establish Early Warning Centers for Earthquakes using animals as an indicator of the likelihood of a coming Earthquake. Improved Seismology units across the island would also work in tandem with the offshore Tsunami Early Warning System.

Like Japan, Jamaica sits on the edge of a very large Subduction zone Tectonic Plate, the famous Caribbean Plate, site of numerous Earthquakes such as the one that sank Port Royal three hundred and nineteen (319) years ago at 11:43 am on June 7, 1962. We are SERIOUSLY overdue for another major ‘quake so a Tsunami Early Warning System is a MUST!!

Otherwise, we may be the next target for Mother Nature in a Earthquake-Tsunami one-two knockout punch that is sure to wipe out Milk River, (where yours truly lives!!) which is a mere 5 miles (8.3 km) from Farquhar Beach on the South Coast of Clarendon.

Not to mention the rest of Jamaica and the Caribbean, especially Bahamas and most of the Leeward Islands!

Government of Jamaica, What say ye on the issue of Tsunami Early Warning System?

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.