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    Earth, wind, fire, and water

    This week’s corner-cutting scandal involves elevators:

    Leading elevator manufacturer Fujitec Co. used substandard steel in more than 12,000 elevators, 560 of which could fall short of mandatory strength standards, the infrastructure ministry says.

    Some Fujitec elevators have only 66 percent of the legally required strength.

    When operating under normal conditions, such elevators pose no problem, the ministry said. That is because the Building Standards Law requires elevators to be built to withstand up to three times the load they carry.

    But problems could arise if an elevator were to stop between floors in the event of an earthquake with an intensity of upper 6 or stronger on the Japanese scale of 7. Ministry officials said railings that support the cage could become distorted in such instances, making it impossible for the elevator to restart itself.

    That, in turn, could cause problems for workers rescuing passengers and trying to restore the elevator’s functions.

    One heartening thing, of course, is that the problem has now been discovered, and there’s an excellent probability that reinforcement can be done before the next major earthquake turns potential problems into real disasters. The Nikkei story and others I’ve seen have made it sound as if the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Infrastructure called for fixes and further investigations after being apprised of the problem by Fujitec itself. (The investigation may have been one required by federal safety regulations–I’m not exactly an elevator expert, and the news reports have generally focused on the nature of the problem itself.)

    Of course, sometimes lessons do end up having to be learned through tragedy. Spas and hot spring resorts have been in the spotlight since the methane explosion at a day spa in Shibuya that killed three employees:

    According to the survey, 479 onsen facilities, such as ryokan inns and public baths, draw hot-spring water using an indoor system. Only 22, or 5 percent, have gas detectors.

    The survey showed that 156 facilities, or 33 percent, had checked whether natural gas was present in hot-spring water, and 57 ascertained that it was.

    But 323 facilities, or 67 percent, had never bothered to check.

    Even if natural gas is present, there is no danger of an explosion if the facility is properly ventilated. But only 219 facilities, or 46 percent, were found to have ventilation systems.

    As many as 108 facilities, or 23 percent, are operating in airtight conditions without even natural ventilation.

    I wonder how many of the managers of those facilities were warned, as those at Shiespa were, that ventilation and detection systems were inadequate and haven’t done anything about it.

    5 Responses to “Earth, wind, fire, and water”

    1. Alan says:

      An upper 6 or stronger out of 7?

    2. In other words, a strong 6 or a 7, right?

    3. Robohobo says:

      Um, I had not checked in for a while. Summer here is quite sticky isn’t it? But, it makes sense, cover this mountain plateau valley with 6″ of water in the rice paddies and it is going to be this way. And today typhoon (not tropical storm) Man-Yi is making indoor pursuits required.

      So, Sean, I was going thru some past posts and have to comment here on them.

      Having the a-bomb dropped on you in WWII was viewed as being kinder than killing upwards of 2 million people in an invasion. That was the guess they made at the time. And fire bombing more of the Japanese cities. Rest assured we would have done just that. And war fighting doctrine is about subjugating your enemy, not making him feel bad. That is the mistake that the US has made in the current comflict, we have not defeated the enemy. Read Ralph Peters to understand what I talking about. The Japanese were an honorable enemy, in their eyes, but they insisted on fighting to the death and gave no quarter nor expected any.

      At least the minister got to resign. There was a minister of something in China recently who was invloved in the food scandals – he was executed. Nice bunch, that. Trustworthy too, I hear. /snark off

      My experience with Sony is just the same. It does not last. I have owned VCRs, a Walkman and other audio components. I have not had the same negative experience with other Japanese made electronics – JVC and Kenwood come to mind.

    4. Yeah, Robohobo, I’ve noticed that a lot of people forget–assuming their history teachers taught them properly in the first place–that the United States wasn’t a confident, proven geopolitical power until World War I. People in positions of power in the 1940s had grown up while America was still going from rural to industrial. But the attitude from people now frequently seems to be that if we hadn’t used the Bomb, we would’ve…oh, I don’t know, figured something out, because we’re the U.S.A. and we’re big and rich and badass. It’s hard to reach people who think that way with arguments like yours that, by the end of a half-decade of war, it was considered better to get a quick, unconditional surrender with a high immediate bodycount than to meet the enemy on its own territory and rain fire on it for months or years more.

    5. Alan says:

      I know, it was supposed to be joke. 

      re above: I find most discussions about the A-bomb to be ultimately based on which party gets to claim moral superiority over the other. I actually felt bad for Kyuma. I kept thinking I just I didn’t understand what the news was saying. Were he entered into a “most disproportionate response” contest, he would probably win.

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