Archive for the ‘Other Natural Disasters’ Category

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.

Status

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 :

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Typhoon Roke did hit Fukushima as in our forecast (Cf. Typhoons and Fukushima in SurvivalJapan). News all over the world repeated the Japanese official statement that no damage had occurred in the nuclear power plant, although about as much as 40 cm of rain water had flooded in some areas. Cameras which monitored the site encountered a malfunction just when the typhoon hit in so we have no image of any material that might have been expelled in case of a new hydrogen explosion. In some other news, TEPCO suddenly stated that 500,000 liters of “groundwater” leaked in the plant everyday.

Fukushima Diary blog reports that the radioactivity level has significantly risen around Futabamachi to 21 uSv/h, i.e. 1 mSv in 2 days. In their post, they also mention an article by NHK according to which the level of radioactive cesium in the sea nearby had doubled. In Utsunomiya, still according to Fukushima Diary sources, 330 millions Becquerels / square kilometer was measured from cesium 134 although oddly no cesium 137 was detected. Utsunomiya is the main city of Honda Motors where a few expats work. Finally Fukushima Diary reported some suspicious yellow powder in the rain, etc. All details, photos and references available in their post.

What to believe is a personal matter. My gut feeling tells me something did get wrong that night and that both atmospheric fall-out and ocean contamination did increase,  without any actual hydrogen explosion so far. What went wrong in my opinion is the same thing that happened on March 11. The yellow powder that Fukushima Diary blogger associated with cesium is probably made of sulfate particles coming from newly created radioactive sulphur. This article explains the process.

Meteocentrale website forecast now shows that radiation fall-out on western Japan is  restricted to the Nagoya area (whole Aichi prefecture), ironically home of the nuclear power plant manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). This heavily industrialized area is also severely hit by flooding due the typhoon Roke which could further damage the Japanese economy but this is out of the scope of this blog.

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The course of a typhoon is so erratic that nobody can tell for sure where it will pass through. Roke typhoon actually completed a full loop before it decided to head up north and should hit Maebashi near Tokyo tomorrow around 5 pm according to the Japan Meteorological Agency forecast from 1h30 ago. If it stays along this course, it will run through Fukushima around 10 pm, with a 70 percent chance. Since the corium has disappeared underneath the basement and that the nuclear power plant roof has blown up, there are high chances that it will get flooded. TEPCO had the excellent idea of blowing off the natural cliff that used to protect the site from the sea in order to gain better access – and indeed, waves can easily flow in during a typhoon, even without any tsunami. Therefore, tomorrow night, there might be a new hydrogen explosion into the atmosphere, and, if you’re really pessimistic, you could envision a chain reaction for the whole site. We will be grateful if we are still alive and mildly contaminated by Thursday morning.

In the screenshot below, Fukushima is indicated by the red spot.

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