Sunday, January 27, 2008

Old Video: Sodium Leak At A Nuclear Reactor (WikiLeaks)

The video below shows the immediate after effects of a sodium leak at a fast breeder nuclear reactor in Monju, Japan back in 1995. The video is interesting for several reasons. First, it is instructional in that it shows what a sodium leak looks like (no, thats not snow in the video...) and the kind of protective measures necessary to work in that environment.

Second, the video is apparently associated with a bit of a cover-up in Japan (the operators of the plant allegedly suppressed the video and claimed that the damage and risk presented by the accident were much smaller than this video implies).

The most interesting thing for me, however, is the source of the original video, Wikileaks (the video below is obviously the DotSub version of the WikiLeaks video). I have been following WikiLeaks since it came online and it is developing into an interesting site. Wikileak's stated purpose is clear: " Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis. Our primary interests are in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we expect to be of assistance to peoples of all countries who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations." Exposing corrupt regimes and unethical corporations sounds admirable in principle. It is hard, however, not to notice that there is currently one article on Iran, 15 on China and over 1000 on the US in the database. It was, for example, WikiLeaks that leaked the classified NGIC document on Fallujah.

I strongly suspect that this excessive focus on the US is largely a function of WikiLeak's relative youth. The site has only been around since last July and it will take more time before it establishes itself. Right now, the "low-hanging fruit" is likely in countries, like the US, UK and Canada, with good internet connectivity, lots of "secrets" (at many levels) and that may jail you but are unlikely to kill you for leaking them. As the site gains notoriety and trust, hopefully it will begin to more completely fulfill its stated mission. There is some evidence that this is happening with the current crisis in Kenya.

Regardless of your perspective on WikiLeak's utility or propriety, it is likely to be around for a good bit and is worth, at least, knowing about.

1 comment:

Hurst08 said...

The submissions page at WikiLeaks gives all sorts of useful information to the prospective leaker. I'm not convinced that any stealthy means of digital contact can effectively protect the leaker's identity in a serious national security matter of interest to one of the major world powers.