1 dead, 22 injured in chemical plant blasts in Yamaguchi

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  • 4

    southsakai

    22-years old too young. Tragic to have life cut so short this way. Hope he was not married. RIP

  • 2

    some14some

    midnight terror, NHK news coverage showed it was more horrible than bomb blasts in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • -4

    ExportExpert

    "negligence" - in japan, what, no, never, could never happen surely not.

  • 0

    tmarie

    Nine other company employees and workers for subcontract companies

    So were these "subcontract" employees actually qualified for whatever it was they were doing? Why are such workers allowed to be hired for such a company?

    I would like to know about safety inspections and standards. Willing to bet they were lacking.

  • 3

    SpeakJaplish

    There is some news that some sort of uranium is stored at or near that site of the explosion. Reported on the FUKUSHIMA DIARY site. The quote is below

    About the factory explosion of Iwakuni, @hanayuu and other people are concerned about the possible depleted uranium, so I called the prefectural government to confirm. They said, depleted uranium is stocked in the site, but it's not affected by the accident.

  • 6

    SpeakJaplish

    Officials say that nothing has been released...??? Mitsui Chemical's complex in Yamaguchi According to the MEXT data from 2009, the complex has 3,379 containers of nuclear waste. Hopefully the containers have not been in danger of having their contents released into the environment.

  • 4

    tmarie

    They said, depleted uranium is stocked in the site, but it's not affected by the accident. Like they would admit it if it was!

    I was watching the news and watching the people standing outside filming. Um, hello! Chemical fire people! Not exactly the stuff you should be breathing in.

  • -2

    WilliB

    tmarie:

    " They said, depleted uranium "

    Depleted uranium, is, as the name indicates, depleted. It is not radioactive, there is nothing to be "released". It is simply U238, which in fact can be used as shielding against radiation.

    Unless it is mislabelled, the scare-mongering is ill-informed.

  • 4

    wanderlust

    @williB: Depleted uranium is just uranium with a lower concentration of U235. It is weakly radioactive and remains so because of its long radioactive half-life (4.468 billion years for uranium-238, 700 million years for uranium-235). The biological half-life (the average time it takes for the human body to eliminate half the amount in the body) for uranium is about 15 days.

  • 0

    tmarie

    Will, my "released" comments weren't about the uranium. It is a chemical plant. What else you think they've got in there? Cotton candy?

  • -2

    WilliB

    wanderlust:

    " 4.468 billion years for uranium-238 "

    Yes. In practical terms that means it is not radioactive. Let the figure sink in: 4.4 TRILLION years. If you call that radioactive, then everything is radioactive, even gold, which decays at a similarly astronomically slow rate to lead.

    Can we stop the scaremongering and distortion already?

  • 1

    tmarie

    Where is this scaremongering you're going on about? I see people concerned about what was in the plant, why people were outside filming and what this could do to the area around it. Concern isn't scaremongering at all.

  • 6

    zichi

    The blast and fire at a heavy chemical plant isn't much of a surprise, but the storage of uranium is. By containers, I'm assuming oil drum size, so that's a lot of containers. No connection with glue manufacture and uranium? Nuclear waste, even depleted uranium should be kept at a nuclear waste storage.

  • 2

    moomoochoo

    At 2:16am I felt what I thought was an earthquake. It turned out it was the explosion in Yamaguchi. I'm still finding it hard to believe that the explosion was the cause of the shaking.

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    I can just see Edano readying his, "Sure, we stored uranium there, but this blast is not harmful to human health" speech.

  • 4

    timeon

    The factory was making resorcinol glues for tires. They had some problems with a steam unit, and they were working to stop that unit, when the tank for an oxidation reaction presumably exploded. It seems that the peroxide starting materials overreacted, but the reasons are not clear yet. The used uranium as a catalyst, but the drums were not affected and increased radiation levels were not observed.

  • -2

    ThreeDogsF

    Cue the fear mongers... I come home from a Carps game to find my facebook lite up like Christmas tree with all my friends fearing for me and my families safety... whoever reported 'Petrochemical Complex Containing Nuclear Fuel On Fire After Explosion' needs to flogged... Hospitals store radioactive material just because they catch fire doesn't mean nuclear material is being released into the atmosphere. I live not far from there less than 10km and actually worked at the ENOS Refinery right next to Mitsui several years ago... It's nothing more than a tragedy and a chemical fire that isn't good for the residents living right next to the factory but not a threat to anything beyond the smoke.....People please let's not throw reason out the window. .

  • 3

    zichi

    ThreeDogsF

    mostly agree, but hospitals don't store 3,000+ containers of depleted uranium?

  • 1

    SquidBert

    Just for the sake of completeness.

    Depleted uranium, while mostly U-238, usually also contains small amounts of 'lighter' uranium isotopes which may cause radiation harm. (Not saying it is likely in this case).

    Further on Depleted Uranium is also toxic, as most heavy metals, slightly less so than e.g. mercury but still cause for concern.

    Depleted uranium is often stored as Uranyl Hexaflouride (not sure if this is the case here) which can develop all sorts of nasties when oxidized (think fire and water).

    And as ThreeDogsF, brought up hospitals;

    I'd say yes, you are correct, but as Zichi mentions the amount of material is on a different scale. Still the very small amount found in a medical source, cause what the IAEA called "one of the world's worst radiological incidents" , the Goiania accident in Brazil.

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident

    It [the source] was subsequently handled by many people, resulting in four deaths. About 112,000 people were examined for radioactive contamination and 249 were found to have significant levels of radioactive material in or on their body.[1][2] In the cleanup operation, topsoil had to be removed from several sites, and several houses were demolished. All the objects from within those houses were removed and examined

  • 1

    SquidBert

    And btw, willB,

    then everything is radioactive, even gold, which decays at a similarly astronomically slow rate to lead. Can we stop the scaremongering and distortion already?

    (emphasis mine)

    So correct some distortion:

    Gold (197 AU, the only naturally occurring isotope) is stable. It does not spontaneously decay at all.

    And the unstable gold isotopes (synthetically produced) decays rather quickly with half lifes in the range of 186days to 30 micro seconds.

    And these decaying isotopes does not decay into lead, but rather platinum, Iridium and mercury.

  • -1

    ThreeDogsF

    Nor do hospitals have a need to but petrochemical refineries do.... believe it or not depleted uranium is commonly used in gas/petrol refineries... which is actually being done right next door. It's not like this uranium was being stored there improperly or without reason. Maybe after the investigation we'll find out that things weren't being done right; but having personally worked in this industry right next door: safety is an issue they take more seriously than most of do for even the most innocuous of tasks. Just because one group of coddled old codgers lost the public trust for mismanaging a horrific disaster doesn't mean every industry suffers the same fate.... I haven't read over all the supposed documents documenting that there was 3000+ 55 gallon drums of depleted uranium, I don't doubt that there were despite it coming from a dubious source Fukushima Diaries. But me thinks that the uranium that is being scaremongered about here on this forum is the ENEOS' refinery's uranium and not Mitsui's but don't quote me on that. Truth is at any advanced petrochemical plant you are going to find a whole plethora of nasty things that no one wants released into the environment, depleted uranium is the least of our worries.... And like all things run by humans, mistakes are bound to be made unfortunately in industries and environments like this they are fatal and costly. Watch the price of gas/petrol take a 5 to 8 yen leap this week as I am certain as a matter of standard protocol the neighboring refinery was taken off line...

  • 3

    zichi

    I spent half my life working at heavy chemical plants. Nasty dangerous places with too many senseless deaths. Not all, but many companies, just like TEPCO in Fukushima, cutting safety corners for the sake of profits.

    All dangerous chemicals should be stored in fire proof concrete buildings.

  • 0

    SquidBert

    I am also wondering, but I don't know enough about the industry at hand. Why the site need to store 3000 drums of a catalyst. A catalyst per definition is not used up in the process so why the large amounts?

    This indicates to me (again without enough knowledge of the industry) that the catalyst is somehow "used up" which then makes me wonder where does all this Depleted uranium go?

  • 0

    ThreeDogsF

    @SquidBert Fair enough this has been tame to what I was first reading on facebook... maybe tainted my perspective... BUT honestly what would you call reposting and reporting unsubstantiated reports that depleted uranium is stocked at the site that just had a huge explosion? News meant to inform that what is being told is lie and you shouldn't trust the official news report?

    Sure there are people who have right to be concerned and would like to know what is going on but those people are the people who live around the plant, for the rest of the peanut gallery its of little concern of yours other than any other tragedy that we might read here in JT. Crying foul or worse before the referee has even made his call in my book is just spreading unnecessary fear among an audience that has little understanding of what goes on in heavy industries... people should be more fearful when they get into a car.

    @Zichi I agree chemical companies are nasty places (but not as many senseless deaths as say a convenience store clerk in the US, or the multitudes of active members of the military serving in a war zone) many companies do cut corners to make more money that is the nature of the beast. Hopefully within the company there enough competent and caring individuals that make sure they don't cut too many corners that it risks the lives of everyone. But again let's let the professional inspectors make their ruling before we go off half cocked with crazy conspiracy theories that it shouldn't have been there. I agree dangerous materials should be stored in 'fireproof' buildings but any firefighter will tell you there is no such thing as building that is fireproof especially ones storing hazardous waste.

  • -1

    ThreeDogsF

    Good question SquidBert I'm not sure of the answer. I do know the Refinery next door turned a lot of left over refinery product into cake for steel smelting and that the Uranium was used in this process but as to whether the referral of what is being stored there is actually ENEOS' or Mitsui's or calculation of both is unclear and whether that amount is normal I don't know...

  • 2

    zichi

    ThreDogsF

    Over my 20 plus years in the UK heavy chemical industry there were more than 50 deaths. Not only do companies cut safety corners but also health and safety and environmental causes, like pouring neat poisons into rivers or down drains because the eventual fine will cost less than dealing with the problem.

    Was the original post edited?

  • 2

    timeon

    Bert, there are basically two types of catalysts, homogenous and heterogenous. The homogenous ones are more efficient, but they are difficult to recycle, and therefore the heterogenous ones are used in industry. They are typically mounted on a support and are active for some time, but they do degrade in time, usually irreversibly. of course, this is a very broad and superficial image comprising thousands of catalytic systems

  • 0

    SquidBert

    Thanks timeon, both your posts are highly informative.

  • 1

    SquidBert

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120423a1.html

    The JapanTimes article on the matter also put the whole thing in a slightly more understandable context.

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