It’s the last 25 minutes of September for 2011, and the only thing on my mind is radiation in Japan. The last week on the newly opened Google+ has been amazing. On it I’ve come across people who’ve posted bilingually articles about the on-going radiation crisis happening in Tohoku (special thanks to sai, ありがとう). Here in central Japan the nuclear accident feels like a distant memory, something that happened far, far away, and whilst concerning, isn’t going to drive us nuts. The opposite should be true. Articles posted by people on Google+ suggest that the Japanese government is doing everything possible to avoid hysteria in Tokyo and other places (ABC). The British nuclear expert, Professor Christopher Busby, describes the Fukushima situation as, “…probably the greatest catastrophe in the whole of human history” (ZDF). Within weeks of the crisis beginning, mustard spinach grown in Tokyo was found to have been contaminated with radiation (Apr 2011). There are areas outside of the 30km exclusion zone that have been contaminated with plutonium (NHK 29 Sep 2011). Apparently, after Chernobyl, the north sea saw a radiation contamination peak at 1,000 Becquerels, but off Fukushima was over 100,000 (NYTimes). In addition to this, at the height of the crisis, a lot of people were ready and waiting to be told to take iodine pills to protect us against radiated iodine exposure. These pills saturate the thyroid so that any ingestion of radioactive iodine cannot accumulate and is immediately flushed out of the body. However, despite the advice, the national government never ordered the administration of these (Wall Street Journal), which also would have triggered embassies in Tokyo to distribute them to their nationals, too. Furthermore, local governments did not have the nous to act in the absence of direction. The oceans have been massively contaminated (ScienceBlogs.Com), affecting fish, a staple of Japanese diet.
Finally, still in Tokyo, there were elevated levels of radiation in Tokyo itself as late as July. The map below comes from SafeCast.Org. Also see the government map dated 29th Sept, 2011 (METI). The government announced the thirty kilometre exclusion zone, and declared everywhere else safe. The map plainly shows that this is not the case. Foreign governments have advised their residents within 80kms to move away, and this seems to be why. The final morbid fact I’ll pass on is that there are residents who believe they can return to their homes within a year or so, and there are politicians who say they are working towards that goal. The reality is that even after 30 years, there are no plans to re-populate the Chernobyl township.
Fukushima and Tokyo affected by the nuclear crisis.