《经济学人》:日本灾难,钚与米奇鼠
日期:2011-04-11 10:42

(单词翻译:单击)

Disaster in Japan日本灾难,钚与米奇鼠

Plutonium and Mickey Mouse钚与米奇鼠

Japan’s nuclear crisis drags on, exposing profound failures both at the company and in national energy policy
日本核危机悬而未决,暴露出公司和国家能源政策的深刻失败

IT IS daylight, but the darkness inside the headquarters of the world’s biggest privately owned electricity company is sepulchral. Officials, heads bowed, apologise in whispers for the trouble Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has caused. Their 66-year-old boss, Masataka Shimizu, went into hospital on March 30th, suffering from hypertension; he has been absent for much of the past three weeks. In the gloom TEPCO’s logo on the walls of the building resembles a mutant Mickey Mouse.

外面晴空万里,世界上最大的私有电力公司总部里却是阴云密布。管理人员低着头小声为东京电力公司(TEPCO)造成的事故而道歉。东京电力公司66岁的总裁清水正孝由于高血压于3月30日入院,过去的三个多星期里他一直不在公司。而挂在大楼墙上阴沉的东京电力公司商标就像是一只发生突变了的米奇鼠。

About 250km away, at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear-power plant, hundreds of TEPCO employees and some subcontractors are trying to prevent further leaks of radioactive material from three damaged nuclear reactors and various sources of spent fuel. Their conditions are close to intolerable. At times, they have been exposed to more radiation in a few hours than they are supposed to endure in a year. Their rations are biscuits and canned food. They have a blanket each, and sleep on the floor. Some have lost homes and families to the tsunami that left 27,690 dead or missing. TEPCO sees them as soldiers. “We don’t think they are heroes. They are doing what they should,” an official says.

250公里之外的福岛第一核电站,成百上千的东京电力公司雇员和一些转包商正试图阻止由三个损坏的核反应堆和各种来源的废燃料产生的放射性物质的进一步泄露。他们的工作环境非常的糟糕。有时,他们在暴露的几小时内所承受的辐射量就超过了他们理应一年承受的量,配给的食物是饼干和罐装食品,人手一张毯子,睡觉就打地铺。部分工作人员已经在造成了27,690人死亡或失踪的海啸中失去了房屋和家庭。东京电力公司把他们视作战士:一位高层说:“我们不认为他们是英雄,他们正在做自己该做的事。”

TEPCO is getting most of the blame for Japan’s nuclear disaster. For much of the past three weeks, the authorities have held out hopes that they could regain control by reconnecting cooling systems damaged by the tsunami. These are supposed to prevent fuel from melting and rupturing the protective steel case of the reactor vessels.

东京电力公司受到了源于日本核灾难的大多数指责。在过去的三个多星期里,当局提出希望通过重新连接在海啸中损坏的冷却系统来重新控制局势。他们要阻止燃料融化和破坏反应堆容器的保护性外铁壳。

This week the discovery of large pools of highly radioactive water and raised levels of radiation in seawater near the plant has shown how far the authorities really are from regaining control. Previous releases of radioactive iodine and caesium had shown that material from the core of at least one reactor has been released. The new findings suggest that the systems designed to contain such releases may have been badly compromised. The tanks into which contaminated water is being pumped will eventually fill up. And conditions for workers are getting more dangerous, which means that fixing up the cooling systems and hooking up vital measuring instruments takes longer.

本周发现的大量高放射性水以及核电站附近水域中升高的辐射水平都显示了:对于重新控制局势当局还有很长的路要走。过去泄露的放射性碘量和铯量已经说明至少有一个反应堆核心有放射性物质泄露。最新的发现证明被设计用于盛放这些泄露物的容器已经严重损坏。抽出的污染水最终将填满这些贮水池。作业环境对于工人来说正在变得越来越危险,这意味着修复冷却系统以及挂接重要的测量仪器将花费更长的时间。

The plant is so woefully damaged that TEPCO officials cannot say when the crisis will be over. Levels of radiation have mostly been subsiding, though unevenly spread. But reports on March 31st revealed that radiation in a village 40km away exceeded criteria for evacuation and the UN’s nuclear watchdog suggested the government might widen the 20km evacuation zone. All this has compounded worries that the area round the plant may remain unsafe for years.

核电站被破坏的非常严重,东京电力公司当局不能说明危机什么时候能结束。尽管辐射在不均衡扩散,大多辐射水平还是稳定了下来。但是3月31日的报告显示:40公里外的辐射量超过了疏散标准,联合国的国际原子能机构建议日本政府应当将疏散区扩大20公里。这些都加剧了核电站附近区域可能在接下来的数年内都不会安全的忧虑。

There is plenty of blame to go around. TEPCO wrongly measured radiated waters in one of the turbine halls at 10m times normal level, rather than the still-alarming 100,000 times. Subcontractors working for TEPCO reportedly complained about the safety of their workers on site. Three electricians accidentally stepped into a dangerous puddle on March 24th. In one sign of unpreparedness, the gauge that measured the radioactivity of water afterwards could not go higher than 1,000 millisieverts an hour, about the level at which radiation becomes an immediate threat to health.

对于东京电力公司的指责不绝于耳。东京电力公司错误地测量了其中一个汽机房中的放射性水的辐射水平是正常水平的10,000,000倍,而不是仍在警戒的100,000倍。根据传闻,为东京电力公司工作的转包商抱怨他们在工地的工作人员的安全问题。3月24日,三名电工误入了一个危险的水坑。在准备不足的一个迹象中,测量完水中的放射性之后的测量器无法显示比1,000毫西弗特更高的数值,而在这一水平下辐射会直接影响到人的健康。

Tensions between TEPCO and the government of Naoto Kan have risen since the prime minister installed crisis managers inside the utility’s head office. Privately, officials have suggested TEPCO may have been slow to use seawater to cool the reactors because it wanted to save its plant—though the company denies this. Publicly, Mr Kan has lambasted the company’s tsunami-preparedness. Koichiro Gemba, a cabinet minister, has left open the possibility that TEPCO would be nationalised, though this was perhaps to reassure voters in his Fukushima district that they would be adequately compensated. Other officials were non-committal about state intervention, but TEPCO shares have fallen by over 75% since March 11th.

东京电力公司和菅直人政府的紧张关系自从首相安插危机管理小队进入电力公司总部就不断升级。东京电力公司出于拯救设备的想法——尽管公司不会承认这一点——而使用海水来冷却反应堆,危机管理组官员私下里建议东京电力公司放缓这种做法。而公开的,菅直人谴责电力公司在预防海啸方面做的不完善。内阁阁员玄叶光一郎保留了东京电力公司国有化的可能性,这也可能是他通过保证给福岛地区选民充分的补偿来安抚选民的做法。其他的官员没有对国家是否会干预发表意见,但是东京电力公司的股价从3月11日起已经下跌了75%.

Outside experts say that repeated flaws in the company’s nuclear operations have denuded its board of specialists in atomic power. Mr Shimizu is the third successive president to have been hit by a nuclear accident. “This company is really rotten to the core,” says Kenichi Ohmae, a management consultant and former nuclear engineer. He blames TEPCO for storing too much spent fuel on the site; for placing too many reactors in the same place (there are six in the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and seven in a nuclear complex on an earthquake fault-line in Niigata); and for not having enough varied sources of power.

外界专家认为:东京电力公司在核作业方面一而再再而三的错误已经剥夺了他们在原子能方面的专家外衣。清水正孝连续三届成功当选总裁已经被这场核事故终止。管理顾问及前核工程师大前研一认为:“这家公司真是烂到家了。” 他责怪东京电力公司在工地上储存了太多的废燃料;同一地点架设了太多反应堆(福岛第一核电站有六个反应堆,处于地震断层线的新鸿的一个核设施里有七个核反应堆);以及它没有足够多样化的发电方法。

But the problems run deeper than TEPCO. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) oversees the regulator and is responsible for safety issues. But it also promotes the nuclear industry. Reportedly, Mr Kan is considering altering this. Nuclear scientists, says Mr Ohmae, are mostly sponsored by utilities, compromising their independence. He describes them as “Christmas-tree decorations” on government safety commissions.

但是东京电力公司的问题远不止这些。日本经济产业省(MEIT)监督管理者并对安全问题负责。但是这也推动了核工业的发展。菅直人公开表示要改变这一机制。大前研一先生说,核科学家大多受到电力公司的赞助,这会损害他们的独立性。在政府安委员会里,大前研一先生把核科学家们描述成“圣诞树上的装饰品”

The problems compound one another. Taro Kono, of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), says there is an “unholy triangle” between METI, its affiliated regulator and the nuclear industry. His office notes that Toru Ishida, a former METI energy official, moved straight into a job as senior adviser to TEPCO. Mr Kono also accuses the media of being in the nuclear industry’s pocket, because of lashings of advertising.

问题是一环套一环。日本反对党自由民主党(LDP)成员河野太郎认为,日本经济产业省、其附属机构和核工业之间存在一个“邪恶三角”。 他的团队注意到前日本经济产业省能源官员石田亨直接作为高层顾问进入东京电力公司任职。河野太郎也指出:为了大量的广告收入,媒体也受到了核工业的操纵。

Paul Scalise, a TEPCO expert at Temple University’s Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies in Japan, responds that the demonising happens, in part, so that politicians, bureaucrats and the electorate can avoid blame themselves. He points out that Japan’s embrace of nuclear technology was a national decision, taken after the 1973 oil shock (Japan imports 99% of its oil). But after accidents at Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl, local people began to take a not-in-my-back-yard attitude. Utilities and the government responded by offering tax incentives, subsidies and other blandishments. The result was some of the highest electricity tariffs in the rich world.

日本坦普尔大学当代亚洲研究学院的东京电力公司方面专家——保罗??斯卡里塞回应道:某种意义上妖魔化东京电力公司的事情发生了,这样政治家、官僚和选民就可以避免责怪自己。他指出自从1973年石油冲击(日本进口了99%的原油)之后,日本接受核能技术是一项国家的决定。但是在三里岛核事故和切诺贝利核事故之后,当地居民采取了反对核设施的态度。电力公司和政府对此提出税收优惠、津贴以及其他的利好行为作为补偿。这个结果只是发达国家最高电力税的一部分而已。

Yet companies like TEPCO have still struggled to build new plants in the teeth of local opposition, Mr Scalise says. That helps explain why so many of its reactors are on single sites. The company stores spent fuel rods on its premises because there is no consensus on where else to put them. Meanwhile, the shortage of capacity means that its margin of excess power has been shrinking for 20 years.

斯卡里塞说:即便在当地反对派的公然反对下,像东京电力公司一样的公司仍然竭力建设新核电站。这能解释为什么如此多的反应堆建造在同一个地方。公司在工厂里储存废弃的燃料棒,这是因为公司在其他地方安放废弃燃料棒上没有达成共识。同时,容量不足意味着电力公司的电力边际产量将会持续减少20年。

Following the earthquake and tsunami, about 28% of TEPCO’s installed capacity, nuclear and non-nuclear, remains shut down. On March 30th, the government acknowledged the obvious—that it is likely to decommission the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant permanently—and possibly have to cover it to stop radiation leaking out. That would knock out about 1.8% of Japan’s energy capacity. In a model of bad planning, the country’s power-distribution systems in the east and west of the country operate on different frequencies, so it is hard to share electricity between them. Unless damaged thermal-electric capacity is brought back soon and more small gas-fired plants are quickly built, months—perhaps years—of energy shortages loom, with crippling effects on the economy.

在地震和海啸之后,包括核设备和非核设备在内,28%东京电力公司已安装的机器停止了工作。3月30日,政府承认:福岛第一核电站有可能会永久的关闭,而且为了阻止核辐射有可能采取掩埋措施。这可能降低日本1.8%的产能能力。在整个规划不佳的模型中,国家东部和西部的配电系统运行采取不同的频率,所以在东部和西部之间分配电力是困难的。除非在短时间内恢复被损坏的火电发电能力或者是建造更多小型燃气发电厂,否则日本将面临数月或者数年的电力缺乏,这会对经济发展产生破坏性的影响。

All this will be a reason to judge TEPCO severely. But the crisis is exposing the failure of the nation’s energy policy as a whole. Prices are exorbitantly high. Power generation produces more greenhouse gases than the government wants. The country has not achieved its goal of nuclear self-sufficiency by reprocessing spent fuel. And now it has a nuclear disaster on its hands. That is not only TEPCO’s fault. It is Japan’s. If the country wants a more reliable energy strategy, it will have to start by acknowledging its collective failings.

这一切都将作为严厉审判东京电力公司的原因。但是这个危机暴露出了国家在能源政策上的整体失误。电价过分的高。发电厂产生的造成温室效应的气体量超过政府所希望的标准。国家通过对于废燃料的再加工并没有实现其核能自足的目标。现在又发生了核灾难。这不仅是东京电力公司的错,而且是日本的错。如果国家想要一种更稳定的能源政策,那么就应该从承认国家做错了事开始。

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重点单词
  • containvt. 包含,容纳,克制,抑制 vi. 自制
  • blanketn. 毛毯,覆盖物,排字版 vt. 用毯子裹,扑灭,挡风
  • puddlen. 水坑,地上积水,胶泥, v. 搅浊,在泥污中打滚,
  • adequatelyadv. 足够地,充分地,适当地
  • greenhousen. 温室,暖房
  • profoundadj. 深奥的,深邃的,意义深远的
  • permanentlyadv. 永久地
  • previousadj. 在 ... 之前,先,前,以前的
  • collectiveadj. 集体的,共同的 n. 集体
  • hypertensionn. 高血压,过度紧张