Tag Archive for radiation

Radiation in Japanese rice

Radioactive rice may enter the food chain later this year

According to NHK the government announced that for Tohoku-region farmers unable to grow rice last year many rice fields contaminated with radiation can plant rice this year. The government reports that 2% of rice harvested last year contained between 100-500 bequerels of radiation, whilst 0.2% had more than 500bq which is not fit for consumption. The decision was made because of concern for farmers’ livelihoods and maintenance of good quality rice fields. Criticisms included no measures for stringent oversight preventing contaminated rice of more than 500bq to slip into the national rice supplies; no means of disposal of contaminated rice; nor financial incentive for farmers and local officials to be honest. Further, it appears to be a commercial decision in sympathy with farmers, and with less regard for consumers.

Previously there were reports in 2010 of expired rice meant for industrial uses, including glue production, was bought from government stocks and commercially resold to pre-schools and schools for childrens’ lunches in the period between about 2005 and 2010.

More pictures of Japanese rice can be found at my gallery:

Rice – Images by Andrew Blyth

Dosimeter radiation detection device, please

I’ve been wanting a device like this for a long time. The cost is currently quite high (higher than pre-quake), but a necessity for many. However, I’m in central Japan and there aren’t many devices here. Perhaps people a bit complacent, or we are pretty well protected. In any case, our food is constantly a matter of discussion (see this about children eating beef to “prove” it’s not contaminated).

If you can get a device like this http://medcom.com/products/crm-100 or it’s bigger brother http://medcom.com/products/inspector-alert I’d be most appreciative, especially so I can check food we get. I’ll also give you access to photos on my PhotoShelter portfolio to the equivalent value (and may be a little more).

Propaganda Land

Even if this is true, it’s either too much of a coincidence or they’re too optimistic.

Last night on NHK it was announced that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the owners and operators of the troubled Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plants, had on 7th March 2011 submitted their first ever revisions to tsunami estimates to the appropriate government office. The same office that has been publicly accused of failing to fulfil their oversight safety duties of nuclear power plants. TEPCO admits that the Fukushima plants were designed to withstand a 5.7m wave (tidal, storm surge, or tsunami), but last year a revision to this estimate suggested that they should prepare for a 10 meter wave, so they claim to have submitted this revision four days before the Tohuku earthquake and tsunami struck. Thus, it is possible that both the government and TEPCO had not neglected their duties, just unfortunate timing… very suspicious to me.

Secondly, a German documentary was aired in Japan, which was about how a German contractor is dismantling the Russian unwanted nuclear powered submarines leftover from the cold war. Interestingly, the company had no immediate plans on dismantling the some 300 nuclear reactors, instead pulling apart the submarines, cleaning off any radioactive material, and selling the metal to scrap. The reactors are being stored in a sarcophagus (their own hulls with some extra lining added), and will be left for 100 years to when it is hoped that the next generation of nuclear-reactor disposal experts will know what to do. The reactor cores will still be dangerous, but less dangerous. In contrast, the Japanese government and TEPCO seem confident that they can solve the Fukushima problem in only a few decades. It should also be pointed out that the reactors are far bigger than a submarine reactor core. They seem very optimistic.

Radioactive food in Japan

Radioactive food is becoming a real and hidden concern. The discussion of this is veiled and brief on NHK TV news, the national broadcaster. One might assume that NHK is avoiding promoting a food panic. Already prices for Hokkaido dairy products are increasing. Previously in this blog, radioactive mustard spinach, a very popular part of the Japanese menu, was discovered growing in Tokyo weeks after the 15th March explosion, and in mustard spinach imported to Singapore from Shizuoka (south of Tokyo). Now some people are concerned that rice being grown in the north may be mixed with uncontaminated rice grown in the south. According to NHK, already, rice stocks are low, as many people are stocking up ahead of the harvest season beginning now. A friend of mine went shopping in Nagoya city with a dosimeter (a radiation measuring device) and found that cucumbers in his supermarket had high levels of radiation. I wish I could get a dosimeter, they are so hard to get.

Rice and mustard spinach are pictured below.
Rice shortly before harvest

More rice pictures here, and rice harvest pictures here.

Mustard Spinach

More mustard spinach pictures here.

Testing food for radiation

NHK the national news and TV broadcaster announced that 19 prefectures in Japan are going to or are considering testing food, especially rice for radioactive caesium contamination (Cited on Alert Net from Reuters, NHK). Within weeks of the first Fukushima hydrogen explosion, it was found that green leafy vegetables, especially spinach (pictured below), was heavily contaminated with radioactive iodine, even spinach grown in Tokyo, far south of Fukushima. There has also been much concern regarding the contaminated feed given to cattle and the consumption of contaminated beef. Now rice is to be tested, as it is such an important part of the Japanese diet and economy.

Me personally, I really want to get a radiation measurement device to check both the food that I have in the fridge and cupboards now, and the local area where I live. If you can organise for one to be send to me, I’d be most appreciative, and would give you a month of free access to any one of my PhotoShelter image galleries.

Fukushima residents have no rights?

I just saw the most shocking video on YouTube. Safecast recently posted on Twitter a link to a video uploaded by Perjorativeglut on YouTube. Essentially, bureaucrats attended a meeting with local residents and seemed to have made a promise that they weren’t willing to keep. The video starts with the most important question, “…people in Fukushima have the right to avoid radiation exposure and live a healthy life, too. Don’t you think so?” The bureaucrat refused to answer. This is in stark contrast to the messages that NHK the national news broadcaster has been saying. Apparently all the Fukushima residents want nothing more than to return home. I think I smell propaganda.

Please get the word out and share this YouTube video.

Nuclear and other updates

Just some updates. It has been reported on NHK that Singapore has found unacceptably high levels of radiation on mustard spinach (shown below) imported from Shizuoka prefecture. Shizuoka is more than 250km south of the Fukushima power plantĀ  well beyond the 80km Australian, UK, and US recommended exclusion zones, and far south of Tokyo. This report came within one week of two Japanese nationals from Tokyo (240km sth of Fukushima) and had not been associated with the nuclear catastrophe. Chinese officials detected ‘high radiation levels’ of radiation on the holidaying couple and immediately taken to hospital for medical treatment (BBC).

Radiation in Tokyo

Sometimes I can be a… a… drama queen. But this time I might be justified. Let me explain a number of facts.

1. Tokyo’s city and regional population is about 20 million.

2. The national government has a 20km exclusion zone around Fukushima nuclear power stations (owned and operated by TEPCO), which forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. Disrupting business, manufacturing, farming, schooling, families, friends, etc, whilst costing countless huge sums of money in expenses and lost productivity.

3. The US and Australian governments have established a non-enforceable and voluntary evacuation zone of 80kms of their citizens (image from BBC). The Australian, British, and US embassies have called for their citizens to evacuate Tokyo (BBC), whilst the French sent two chartered Air France flights to evacuate their citizens completely from Japan (all of Japan is excluded by the French). Furthermore, many countries have allowed their embassy staff families to evacuate from Tokyo. In reality, last week and earlier this week all those who left looked foolish for leaving because of the small incident that Fukushima seemed to be.

4. Someone connected to Chubu Electric (a central Japanese power company) has privately admitted to people I know that the Fukushima crisis is far worse than the government and TEPCO has publicly admitted.

5. Tokyo water supply was found to have radiation levels (NHK) in it unfit for children under 12 months to consume (and see BBC news story).

6. Now, a vegetable grown in Tokyo was found to have high levels of radiation in it (NHK). [image of Japanese grown spinach]

It seems that even the 80km exclusion zone announced by other countries was not sufficient, and there was indeed good reason to leave Tokyo. Why hasn’t the national government been more honest? Well, data readings of radiation detectors hasn’t suggested a major problem (I’ve been keeping an eye on this website: rdtn.org). Also, can you imagine evacuating 20 million people? Where do they go? It would simply destroy the Japanese economy. Japan would drop out of the G20 like a lead balloon, and I may be out of work, and out of a PhD before the summer (I’m just about to start the data collection phase this year).

Eat all your greens…