Thursday, March 24, 2011


Remember my story about Tokyo water being unfit for infants due to radioactivity? Evidently it is giving one Westerner in Japan crazy ideas.

“It’s unfortunate, but the radiation is clearly being carried on the air from the Fukushima plant,” Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said Wednesday. “Because it’s raining, it’s possible that a lot of places will be affected. Even if people consume the water a few times, there should be no long-term ill effects.”

As authorities tried to maintain calm in Tokyo, residents were racing to buy as much bottled water as they could, clearing the shelves of the city’s stores. Mr. Edano said Thursday that officials were considering a plan to import water from overseas, to supplement the bottles they planned to begin distributing across the city.

Despite the frequent rain in recent days, it was not entirely clear why the levels of iodine were so high, said a senior Western nuclear executive, noting that the prevailing breezes seemed to be pushing radiation out to sea. “The contamination levels are well beyond what you’d expect from what is in the public domain,” said the executive, who insisted on anonymity and has broad contacts in Japan.

It was possible that the levels were an indirect indication that the problems at the plant were deeper than had been publicly acknowledged.
Compare and contrast "no long term ill effects" with "importing water" and then restudy "deeper than had been publicly acknowledged."

The US Military began evacuating Military dependents from Japan six days ago.
The exodus from Japan is intensifying as the United States announced plans to evacuate as many as 20,000 dependents of military personnel and foreign rescue teams were told the search for tsunami survivors is virtually over.

"Don't panic," Capt. Eric Gardner, the commanding officer at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, said in a video message for personnel announcing the voluntary evacuations.

Relatives and nonessential workers at Atsugi and three other US military bases were offered the opportunity to leave. They will be flown to the United States aboard US-chartered planes or via commercial flights with their fares paid by the Department of Defense, officials said.
Well I'm going to take Capt. Gardner's advice. I'm not going to panic. But I don't live in Japan.

The troubles with the reactors got a little worse today.
Steam rising from 4 reactors at Fukushima plant.

An NHK helicopter crew has confirmed what appears to be steam rising from No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 reactor buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

This is the first time that steam has been seen coming out of the No.1 reactor.
And there appears to be other troubles according to Zero Hedge.
And more bad news, this time from Reactor 5, which was previously considered safe, via the NYT:
The cooling system at Reactor No. 5, which was shut down at the time of the earthquake and has shown few problems since, also abruptly stopped working on Wednesday afternoon, said Hiro Hasegawa, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric....“When we switched from the temporary pump, it automatically switched off,” he said. “We’ll try again with a new pump in the morning.”
Lost cooling to #5. Uh. Oh. And now they have to install a new pump? Probably in a high radiation environment. Dang.

Speaking of radiation. The casualties are coming in.
Japan's nuclear safety agency said three workers had been injured when their feet came into contact with radiation-contaminated water while laying cables in the turbine area of reactor 3.

They were exposed to radiation levels of 170-180 millisieverts, he said, which is lower than the maximum level permitted for workers on the site of 250 millisieverts. Two of the workers were taken to hospital.

"Although they wore protective clothing, the contaminated water seeped in and their legs were exposed to radiation," said a spokesman.

"Direct exposure to radiation usually leads to inflammation and so that's why they were sent to the hospital to be treated."

Most people are exposed to 2 millisieverts over the average year, while 100 millisieverts is considered the lowest level at which any increase in cancer is clearly evident.
So at minimum the workers are at elevated risk for cancer. Some think certain death.
They're known as the "Fukushima 50," and they're Japan's only hope of avoiding a Chernobyl-like catastrophe.

The men, unidentified technicians and emergency workers, are desperately battling to save potentially millions of their countrymen -- knowing that even if they succeed, they'll likely die from lethal doses of radiation.

Chernobyl workers who stayed at their stations when the Ukrainian reactor exploded in 1986 died within three months of exposure.
Radiation is a slow poison most of the time. We will not get a true body count until the mess is cleaned up. And for now it can't be cleaned up because it is not under control.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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