It`s not over yet

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#2
Never again

Thanks Sikochi, important read.

Over 6 months have passed since the disastrous quake and tsunami, followed by the slight issue at the nuclear power plant Daiichi. It is going to take time for the scars to heal - as we all know we are speaking long-lasting effects, mainly regionally.

Japan did a grand job to fix things to the extent possible post the quake and tsunami but it has been pretty painful to watch how the radiation issue has been dealt with.

While foreign media did sensationalist pieces on that Daiichi radiation was really really scary ,Japanese national media (with the exception of some weekly mags), key bureaucrats and politicians tried to have us believe that the situation wasnt really really an issue.

Much can be said about foreign media blowing things out of proportion at times. However, the nuclear issue became worse with the vast majority of people here buying into what was - at best - an official and corporate attempt to keep people calm. Because it took months for the general public to truly realize what was happening up north, much needed pressure on the powers that be did not happen initially. What could have been decisive action from day one was seriously delayed.

As a part of my job I have been up to Fukushima countless times since late March to ensure independent testing and scrutiny of authority action and lack thereof. Meeting people of coastal towns like Minami-Soma or big cities like Koriyama - there really is no way to describe their pain is it: Fishermen who cannot sell their fish and not getting compensated; parents who have to remove the top layer of the soil from the kindergardens by themselves;, radiation levels far higher than those inside the exclusion zone in numerous pockets outside but often no possibility to go elsewhere. The challenges are endless and much remains to be done. I know some of you have similar experiences with friends or family or via volunteer work.

Nobody is saying that the authorities or TEPCO had an easy job with what was effectively a triple disaster with the quake, the tsunami and then nuclear issue.Things are improving steadily.

However, the initial lack of transparancy, accountability and questioning was - and to some extent still is - a big problem. The "too little too late or maybe a bit of both" approach with regards to required action reminds me a lot of another of the world's biggest environmental disasters, the Minamata Chisso scandal. The company in question was effectively able to weasel their way out of their responsibilities. Not for months or years but for decades.

Here is to hoping that a nuclear disaster will never happen again, that people will continue to support the folks up north and that society will learn from it.

Oh and below a good and balanced read on foreign and Japanese media (independently of ones opinion on the shitty idea of having nuclear plants on an earth quake prone and densely populated island nation like Japan)

http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/tell-me-about-it/david-mcneill-whos-telling-truth-fukushima-448215

/Frode





Not wanting to stir up topics we would rather forget about, and not bicycle related either, but there was an interesting article on the Fukushima situation recently in the Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/09/fukushima-japan-nuclear-disaster-aftermath?INTCMP=SRCH
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,149
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68
Kochi
#3
Thanks Frode. I would probably second Takashi Uesugi`s comments. There was also this report a while ago in the Independent about what precisely happened (well, presumed to happen of course) at the reactor due to the earthquake. I don`t think I`ve read such an article elsewhere, as everywhere else has the damage as purely being tsunami inflicted - easy to see why the government wants to maintain this stance. I presume this is the real reason why so many reactors are still currently offline.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-explosive-truth-behind-fukushimas-meltdown-2338819.html

edit: I just realised that it`s co-written by the same journalist as your piece. After all that work on averages, I can`t put 2 and 2 together!!

I didn`t know about the Minamata Chisso scandal. Obviously, being from the UK the only such foreign stories we tend to hear about are those from America, featuring a crusading lawyer, and which Hollywood then deems capable of being turned into a saleable movie cf. Erin Brokovich.
 

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#5
Kanto radioactive hotspots - Geiger counter available

Just keeping this thread updated.

Many of you will have seen the story that broke yesterday night about the small Setagaya radiation hotspot, some concerned parents found levels that in a year far would exceed what would constitute evacuation had it been in Chernobyl (at least on paper).

This comes on top of the news a good week ago about hotspots found in Chiba and Saitama, following helicopter surveys in the prefectures some six months after March 11th. No, dont ask me why they did it half a year after the little issue at Fukushima Daiichi (and havent completed it for Kanagawa and Tokyo yet).

My point is not really about the Setagaya hotspot, it is a tiny one. But it shows that while the extremely widespread and serious contamination is in Fukushima, it is not limited to up there - a lot of the shite hit Kanto back in the days also and can be found in hotspots

I can guarantee you that there are plenty of these small hotspots we dont know about,. And most likely never will know about, it is impossible logistically to check every sqm in a huge area for random hotspots. Besides initiatives for extensive surveys will not come from the oyajis in TODEN or authorities. Shoganai I guess.

What I will say though is that if you have kids like myself I highly recommend that you do a reading with a Geiger counter over sand soil, vegetation and water around and near your house, garden and playgrounds. I have one if interested.

Plenty in domestic media naturally, here a WSJ piece:

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20111012-706234.html
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
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Yokohama
#6
I've been doing this in the areas wheremy children play and also at thier schools.

Average readings are 0.15 usv/h which from whatI understand is the normal average here in Yokohama.
 

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
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Ota-ku
#7
I've been doing this in the areas wheremy children play and also at thier schools.

Average readings are 0.15 usv/h which from whatI understand is the normal average here in Yokohama.
Yep, that would be around normal background radiation. Glad that you have done this and at the right places James, impossible to know where the hotspots are before measured.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
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www.roadfixie.com
#8
My kid plays on the roof of the Kyakusho school which is shielded by a retracting lead visor. And we only eat vegetables that are certified 'organic and radiation free. I hope there is a raised awareness, overall, of the general extent of contamination due not only this event - but the hundreds that have occured over the last 50yrs. My fear is really that at some point we'll pull the straw that breaks the camel's back.
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#9
Tim, how do they define "radiation free"?

The president of a vegetable delivery company told me they are proud to be checking every piece individually - and will only deliver what is below the legal limits. Which is a very different definition than "radiation free"...
 

trad

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Dec 4, 2006
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Tokyo
#10
good idea. where did you guys get the geiger counters at? be a hoot if wiggle is carrying them for their Japanese customers.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
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tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#11
Sorry Ludwig, I'm just being facetious. All kidding aside - I take a peek at the SafeNet map now and then and that's about it. I find it abhorrent that private citizens need to become trained nuclear engineers in order to provide safe environment for their families. But, so be it. The government has really failed and we should all deduct from our taxes any expenditures related to covering our own asses - including purchase of monitoring devices, consulting hours spent on research, food sorting and procurement, etc.

Could you imagine going on a flight and having to do your own pre-flight inspection, maintenance and take-off prep? And then while you are en-route manage the navigation, weather and surrounding traffic? And, at the same time happily pay the airlines full fare for basically doing their job?

This sort of bureaucratically induced incompetence must stop. The government is rotten from the top down and simply the running dog lackey to the corporate interests that drive it. It doesn't take a genius to understand that nuclear power plants should never, ever, ever be built in seismic and natural disaster prone areas - yet this is EXACTLY what was done - and continues to be done - in spite of MANY thousands of constituents protests and contrary advice by numerous experts.

Tim, how do they define "radiation free"?

The president of a vegetable delivery company told me they are proud to be checking every piece individually - and will only deliver what is below the legal limits. Which is a very different definition than "radiation free"...
 

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#12
good idea. where did you guys get the geiger counters at? be a hoot if wiggle is carrying them for their Japanese customers.
Trad, I have borrowed a very simple device, a portable Radex from work (Greenpeace). This is no good for anything extensive though, it takes 30 seconds to do one reading and thus covering a bit of an area requires time. The devil lays in the detail regarding the small hotspots we find this far south of Fukushima, think square meters (ie not what we get from the few official and stationary measurement stations).

Should you have any indication that parts of your hoods might have serious issues, you ideally need the high tech stuff we are using when up north with locals. I would say anything above normal background X 5 = around 0.5 microsievert per hour requires attention with pro equipment, in particular if pregnant or kids are in the picture. Ridiculously expensive of course but available via authorities, some citizens group and a few individuals.

To give you an illustration that the devil indeed is in the detail, check out these links from my ward, Ota.

http://www.city.ota.tokyo.jp/shinsai/kunai/houshasen/sokutei/index.html

http://www.city.ota.tokyo.jp/shinsai/kunai/houshasen/gakkohosyasen/index.html

The first one shows normal background levels. Quite soothing. But then some readings from spots vulnerable to radiation at schools - over 1 microsievert per hour as max. The reading done for a school in my neighborhood features a range up to 0,8 microsievert per hour. What people hear about is usually the normal background levels, not what you get if you get down to and at places where kids hang around.

The Ota survery is seriously insufficient, there are hundreds of points that could/should be measured in between these schools. But as for most places in Kanto - beyond the occasional measurement station - the main survey done has been via this helicopter going around over half a year after hit the fan.

Finally,I do want to stress that most places in Kanto probably are completely safe. Background levels are often lower than those of many places abroad. The real nightmare is up north and will be for decades. But it is good to make sure even here, the authorities will not do it for you. Yes, Tim, you do have a point.

Frode
 
May 22, 2007
3,595
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#13
This appears to have nothing to do with 3/11 and Fukushima.

Notice how quickly virtually everyone pinned the blame on TEPCO? And then once anything remotely like facts come to light they're all :eek: :eek: :eek: hmm... well...

Broken nuclear reactors are not the only source of ionising radiation.
 

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#14
This appears to have nothing to do with 3/11 and Fukushima.

Notice how quickly virtually everyone pinned the blame on TEPCO? And then once anything remotely like facts come to light they're all :eek: :eek: :eek: hmm... well...

Broken nuclear reactors are not the only source of ionising radiation.
True, the Setagaya hotspot turned out to be one from the past. A bottle I believe. Good thing it was found.

However, this does not change anything about the fact that there are post Fukushima hotspots in the Kanto area and more will be found.

Here results from the helicopter touring Chiba and Saitama:
http://japan.resiliencesystem.org/cesium-fallout-map-illustrates-kanto-levels

Again, this is from a freaking chopper. An aerial study will miss more than a few hotspots.

What is disturbing with the Setagaya spot is that it had to be located by locals and - as soon as it was found - official tape was all over the place. Quite contrary to the response people in Fukushima witness, most of whom live with these levels on a daily basis.

One more thing re Setagaya - good thing that the gut reaction was blaming TEPCO and not "harmful rumor". It is only right: For too long that company got away with their bullshit re having control of situation at Daiichi and that unfortunately made matters worse.
 

Malte

Maximum Pace
Sep 26, 2011
496
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48
Tokyo
#15
This sort of bureaucratically induced incompetence must stop. The government is rotten from the top down and simply the running dog lackey to the corporate interests that drive it. It doesn't take a genius to understand that nuclear power plants should never, ever, ever be built in seismic and natural disaster prone areas - yet this is EXACTLY what was done - and continues to be done - in spite of MANY thousands of constituents protests and contrary advice by numerous experts.
While we can not change the past, the expert judgment about the current policies seems to be rather positive. There has just been a "Town-hall" Meeting in the German Embassy where they invited radiation and agriculture experts from Germany (who also consult the Embassy) for an in-dept Q&A Session. Their viewpoint was that the current measures are pretty much the best of what is possible under given constrains. You can find the slides here (in German language) and there were some interesting points:

  • Cesium in the food-chain has half live of 1.2 years in Germany, it will be shorter in Japan because of the more frequent harvesting (p18)
  • Cesium in the Body has half-live of 105 days (mainly in muscles; for kids is less because of their higher metabolic activity), so you need to eat it continuously to keep up a high level (p18)
  • Cesium level in food in Japan is continuously decreasing (p25)
  • They calculated if you eat all the tested food from e.g. Ibaraki (including the one sorted out of over 250bql) you would still have only accumulated very low levels of cesium (I forgot the number that they mentioned). (p22-p24)
  • The Cesium levels in human body (in Germany) during atomic test phase in 60s were much higher than after Chernobyl. So all our parents were much more exposed to Cesium (and Plutonium) in the food chain than we are. (p18)
 
Oct 15, 2010
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#16
Good information. I feel slightly relieved after reading it, yet that last line about our parents being exposed to high levels probably as something to do with the cancer epidemic that has been plaguing western countries. Seems everyone back home gets cancer, but I don't hear about it occurring nearly as often in Japan. It could be that the annual health check system here catches such matters before it is too late, but I can't help but think there is some other anomaly.
 

Malte

Maximum Pace
Sep 26, 2011
496
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Tokyo
#17
Good information. I feel slightly relieved after reading it, yet that last line about our parents being exposed to high levels probably as something to do with the cancer epidemic that has been plaguing western countries. Seems everyone back home gets cancer, but I don't hear about it occurring nearly as often in Japan. It could be that the annual health check system here catches such matters before it is too late, but I can't help but think there is some other anomaly.
I guess, there might be many causes of cancer (especially in the western hemisphere) and the more frequent ones might be tobacco, red meat, particulates,...
Robert Gale (US Doctor and Expert on Chernobyl and Cancer) said in the light of Fukushima: "Thus, the number of cancer cases that can be attributed to Fukushima should be less than one per 10,000 -- or well below our level of detection in epidemiological studies. Raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by 10-20 percent would result in a much greater reduction in cancer risk." (here)

Cancer also seems to be a particular problem of societies with longer life expectancies. For example I read that Ukraine (Chernobyl) has much lower cancer rates than the US, the sad trues is that people die there early (average man 63 years) because of more profound reasons (alcoholism being a big one).
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#18
In most countries, age-adjusted cancer rates are decreasing not increasing. Cancer is now also the No. 1 killer in Japan, but that's simply because people live longer so the chance of getting cancer over a lifetime is going up. But it is also true that overall incidence in Japan is low by international standards (and so one of the reasons Japanese get to live longer).
 

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#19
While we can not change the past, the expert judgment about the current policies seems to be rather positive.
What can I say, that would be great.

But were they talking about Germans in areas in Japan with normal background or people in Fukushima/other areas far exceeding maximum allowable limits? Have they actually been doing in depth research in Fukushima themselves, working in affected communities with locals? Desktop research by smart people is necessary but insufficient in a complex situation.
For instance, food is just one of many issues and in cases with high background it can be a minor one.

[QUOTE [*]The Cesium levels in human body (in Germany) during atomic test phase in 60s were much higher than after Chernobyl. So all our parents were much more exposed to Cesium (and Plutonium) in the food chain than we are. (p18) QUOTE]

Luckily science and awareness of environmental factors have increased somewhat since the sixties.
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#20
Frode, the focus was on whether people in Tokyo and further away need to worry. They did not try to address the question of whether you are safe being in Fukushima.

Anyhow, because this is so political, the presenter only showed a array of scientific facts and refused to present any conclusions. This was for the audience to conclude themselves. Malte described very nicely what you had to conclude based on the facts presented.