My risk analysis for Japan remains unchanged for October, please refer to Japan Livability Map September 2011 in SurvivalJapan for my definitions of “no man’s land”, “monitored land” and “nuclear-free land”. I only report on events which affect the latter two – and there has been no news lately. After a summary of the current status to the best of our knowledge, I take the opportunity of the news black hole to offer a more editorial piece with further recommendations for those who choose to stay in Japan, out of the no man’s land.
The reason for the dysfunctional steam condenser which prompted the emergency shutdown of a reactor at the Genkai nuclear plant in Kyushu island ten days ago has still not been disclosed. Genkai encountered issues in the past as most Japanese nuclear plants and is the object of much political controversy and scandal so the reason may never be known by the general public. Officially no radiation was leaked and citizen seem to not make any measurements anymore in Kyushu. The monitored land on the whole is not properly monitored.
The government announced that they will handle the spread and disposal of nuclear waste themselves without disclosing any detail, which is open to any interpretation.
The free circulation of contaminated food is now in full gear, with for instance Fukushima rice declared safe and available in supermarkets all over the country.
Mainstream media now occasionally publish information that used to be available only on blogs and alternative media, the latter focus on the no man’s land.
Editorial and Further Recommendations
1. Improved environment radiation monitoring
The general lack of information and action is a temporary psychological relief but it is also dangerous. Besides previous recommendations about food made in SurvivalJapan (cf. tag “food”), we should monitor radiation on following sites in every prefecture of the monitored land and nuclear-free land:
- near each incineration plants
- on sites in the mountains where citizens and businesses alike illegally dump their garbage (old TV sets, stolen bikes, etc. – where all the great Japanese electronics companies products usually end up their life)
- near sites where construction-related companies and so-called “gumi” (associations) park their trucks in the mountains, usually hidden behind corrugated sheet metal walls like entrenched forts, with or without dogs (careful with these people)
- at each garbage disposal sites
- near cement companies (careful again with construction-related workers…)
- near companies that specialize in construction material recycling (same remark as construction sector)
Lakes and ponds were also always favored to dispose of hazardous material (Lake Geneva in Switzerland is filled with all kinds of weapons, nerve agents, etc., the Baltic Sea is littered with Russian nuclear waste and Biwako lake in Japan is heavily polluted too as a few examples). Streams should also be monitored. As it is difficult to measure radiation in liquids, fresh water fish, shells and algae like aonori should be monitored as to give an indication.
2. Example of unsuspected and widespread food contamination : irradiated seaweed extracts
Besides this constant environmental monitoring which is completely lacking in these regions, radioactivity ingestion risks exists in forms that are not well-known to the general public and which are difficult to avoid (in order to grasp the extent of the issue, read for instance Exa-Becquerel Now In Pacific Ocean ? on SurvivalJapan and related posts). For example, seaweed yields :
- alginic acid (slimming aids, appetite suppressants, etc.),
- agar (many Western and Asian desserts alike including delicious Japanese yokan – but also used in dentistry, modelling clay for kids, etc.),
- carrageenan (desserts, ice cream, cream, milkshakes, sweetened condensed milks, sauces, beer, pâtés and processed meats like ham, etc. fatty foods without fat, toothpaste, fruit gushers, as a excipient in pills / tablets, in soy milk, diet sodas, but also fire fighting foam, shampoo and cosmetic creams, air freshener gels, fabric marbling, shoe polish, pet food, personal lubricants and sexual lubricants, etc.).
Ocean radiation spill has further increased the risk of eating processed food, but also of using cosmetics, etc.
Here is a link to hydrocolloids producers worldwide, among which a few Japanese companies of course, for example :
- Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma subsidiary named DSP Gokyo Food & Chemicals,
- Fuji Chemical Industry Co Ltd
- Kimica Corporation
- Kirin Kyowa Foods Inc. (the Japanese products page is much more detailed… – and yes, a sister company of Kirin Breweries – cheers to a “healthy” beer!)
- Shimizu Chemical Corporation
- Etc. etc. (food processing is an endless topic and a worldwide industry, Cf. the movie The Informant! for a fun introduction and bon appétit! if you like prawns)
A positive side of the Japanese nuclear crisis in Japan is that it may have raised the awareness of the multiple dangers of the nuclear industry of course, but also of industrial food, etc.
Although it is of course impossible to avoid every risk, we should remain on our guard and probably purchase and use a Geiger counter anywhere in the world now, as some industrial countries soils are as irradiated as in Japan “monitored land” from wild dumps of uranium extraction waste, nuclear bomb testings, nuclear plant spills and wild waste dumps – including from medical and research facilities, etc. Leaving Japan is not necessarily the solution as it might be worse in your home country without you never having realized it for lack of any large-scale disaster happening yet. Education, positive action and life choices, citizen monitoring are part of the solution to a multi-dimensional problem which is bigger than just a nuclear issue.