Posts Tagged ‘Chernobyl’

On 2012 March 19, The Asahi Shimbun reported that the “city of Osaka, the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co., will call on the utility to abolish all of its reactors “at the earliest possible time” and today, Mainichi Daily News commented that Osaka had “stirred ripples”. Articles are reproduced below. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s suggestion to phase out of nuclear power, surely surprised KEPCO investors but also citizens for its unusual thoughtfulness.

Kansai is the western region of Japan where Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara cities lie and, depending on definition, the nuclear power plant shore-lined prefecture of Fukui, where a 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 1% of population and completely damaged 79% of buildings in 1948. Besides, prevalent winds blow from Fukui towards the huge drinking water Biwako reservoir and aforementioned Kansai cities. Under the radioactive fallout in case of such an earthquake would also be prefectures of Gifu and Aichi, an industrial heartland centered on Nagoya city, where Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toray Industries (worldwide leader in the carbon fiber industry that should make Boeing Dreamliner fly someday) are based. A new powerful earthquake in Fukui would probably relegate Japan a few ladders down the economic rankings. Kansai is already under severe economic stress – it always was but for a brief decade of national euphoria called the “bubble”.

Since about 30 years ago, poor Japanese regions exchanged time and again their votes and security against subventions and nuclear power plants. Whenever subventions would dry up, they would agree for a new reactor building. Nowadays that these are idled and that subventions have run out, poor regions cannot start a new cycle and are pushing and being pulled to ramp up their radioactive waste “management” business. In the same vote buyout scheme as for nuclear power plants, over-sized incinerator plants have been built and left unused due to their capacity threshold being over the actual amount of waste. Poor prefectures now plan to upgrade these little used, dioxin-spitting facilities so that they could operate at a wider range of waste quantities and include some kind of filtering for radiation. This scheme represents a large economic boost promise in terms of construction work, which is the main employment outside large cities – and under the control of yakuza gangs, who request some sustained business to replace the drop in their recruiting services for nuclear plant workers.

Radioactive waste are largely above what is considered as “low-level waste” worldwide and its incineration in current facilities turn their prefecture into secondary radioactive sources, the primary being Fukushima, still emitting as of 2012 March 22, a year after. Current secondary radioactive sources include 23 wards in Tokyo, Tomakomai (Hokkaido) and Shimada (Shizuoka, where Japanese green tea comes from).

Many prefectures have requested to become secondary radioactive sources, including places where the transportation hazard, time and cost had prevented the Japanese government to push for it such as Okinawa. However, Okinawa is surviving only by the presence of the US army and its underlying economy is threatened by a possible redeployment in Japan, in Guam or elsewhere. Tourism has been declining since about 5 years ago in Okinawa and will not pick up when it will effectively become a secondary radioactive source. Food in supermarkets in Okinawa come from all over Japan as it does not produce much besides beef which become labeled “Kobe” beef after spending 1 year in that heavily industrialized city. Okinawa cows are rather skinny so it must be quite a terrible feeding process that turn them into extra-fatty meat one year later in Kobe warehouses. There have been some scandals of radioactive wood used to bake pizzas in Okinawa, schools have been forced by parents to cancel radioactive snowball gifts, some vegetation like mosses from irradiated areas have been planted in Okinawa, etc. Okinawa is not a nuclear-free land anymore: this concept does not apply to any Japanese territory anymore one year after the disaster. As an advice to nuclear refugees from the no man’s land, if you cannot leave Japan, it is safer to settle down in cities where you can work to sustain a healthier lifestyle, not necessarily to the far end of the archipelago where they have no job; no sense about radio-protection; no clean food choice – and where you will be stuck when they start incinerating radioactive waste.

How does the new denuclearization scheme fit in with the irradiated waste incineration plan and is it for real? Kansai is searching for ways to revitalize its broken economy and incineration is one leg. The other leg is nuclear decommissioning, a potentially profitable business. It takes 5 years for nuclear combustible to cool down, under active controlled systems (or not so controlled systems). Then the proper decommissioning operations begin (and probably never really end). As an actual example, if we look at Sellafield in the UK, a mere 2 square mile facility, the official planning states that decommissioning and closure of the site is planned for 2120 (right: 108 years from now). After this stage, management of radioactive materials is forever. Therefore, decommissioning of the 3 reactors in Mihama, 4 in Oi and 4 in Takahama – and maybe Monju / Tsuruga – all in Fukui prefecture and globally called the Nuclear Ginza, could create a 300 years business, not including the storage and monitoring of million-year long radioactive waste. It could easily give a job to anyone and sustain the local economy. Additional benefits would come from the development of health care – did we mention that Osaka was a biotech center ?

Japanese pharmaceutical companies had trouble to compete globally because their drugs are not properly tested and have resulted in accidents and because they lack innovation. However, in the grand Osaka renewal scheme of joint radioactive waste incineration and nuclear decommissioning, there would be plenty of test subjects and Japan would have an incomparable lead in radiation-induced diseases, even though they would not be marketed as such: auto-immune diseases such as the Kawasaki syndrome, pneumonia, heart attacks, leukemia and all sorts of cancers, or any other kinds of affections described by Pr. Bandazhevsky, even in children (sic).

How is it that decommissioning would make the population sick? Nuclear reactor decommissioning is a task forecast to take over 1 century in the case of Sellafield but nuclear projects always get behind schedule (Areva EPR project in Finland as a relevant example). As a rule of thumb, you can at least double the time (in the case for Olkiluoto, Finland, Areva started in 2005, due to be completed in 4 years – now maybe in 9 years, probably 12) and since it is impossible to rule out wars, economic depressions, natural disasters and social unrest over the period of a century, it could take 4 to 500 years to carry out. The probability of the job being properly done to the end is marginal and our grandchildren, if they ever live, will most likely have to deal with no man’s lands in every place there used to be a nuclear power plant in the 20th century. Working in a nuclear power plant make people sick, they have in Japan, as well documented, not only in Fukushima. Work ethics are shoddy here and tasks are carried out by the 6th level of untrained sub-contractors aka yakuza firms. Nuclear Ginza and other locations in Japan like Tokaimura and Genkai accumulate accidents and are regularly leaking radioactive material, not surprisingly. Now let us project this over the next 500 years for a large segment of society busy cleaning a mess and adding to it at the same time: everyone would get sick, even if Hosono, Noda and Edano, the devilish Trinity as it were, were not working so hard to distribute contaminated food over all the territory – which they are. Mutations get transmitted to people who are not involved in the multi-generational task, weakening the whole society. As a side-note, it is of course impossible to decommission Fukushima nuclear plant within 40 years: it will never be really clean, no matter the official whitewash.

Recently 2 Japanese researchers apologized because they had taken some bone-marrow samples from cancer patients during surgical operations without anybody knowing: with radiation-induced diseases, all Japanese medical researchers would be able to experiment, publish their results and test new drugs on unsuspecting patients. When the Japanese war criminal in charge for human live dissection and experimentation during the war became the head of the top medical institute in Tokyo and was never bothered except for a moment by the Chinese woman who recognized him, anything can happen. Unit 731, Masaji Kitano and Green Cross all over again. Kansai, with Nuclear Ginza, you invested in a future treasure trove for your biotech and pharmaceutical industry (sic) ! Just as some people do not get black humor, let us note here that we are being sarcastic and we do not wish this nightmarish scenario to happen, quite the contrary but we are at a loss as to how prevent it. Japan has yet to come to term with its dark past and its present shows that it is never far behind – humor is a way to get some relief in the terrible situation we are now, and black humor can be offensive. Current Japanese politics are just as offensive.

So it could be for real and it would be the least damaging, as the alternative would be to wait until the next great Fukui earthquake and a fireworks over Nuclear Ginza.

Another possibility is that Hashimoto does not really intend to denuclearize Kansai, but is only trying to gain more KEPCO shares, some financial compensation or a special investor status from KEPCO for Osaka city in exchange for a time extension, a percentage increase in nuclear-produced electricity or such compromise.

Whichever, the pain only begins.

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Concerned mothers made a formal declaration and held a press conference at Osaka Prefecture Main Building (Osaka-fu-cho, in Japanese 「大阪府庁」) on Friday, December 16th at 10:00 am. A panel of three mothers read a declaration stating that the plan of Osaka Mayor, M. Hashimoto, to accept radioactive waste from Iwate prefecture for incineration, is harmful for children. The declaration was received by three prefecture representatives, one who asked genuine questions, another who seemed condescending and the third who kept quiet. The most visible news team was ABC News. The room was small and supporters, mostly standing up, numbered about 50. There were only three Western foreigners present including myself.

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Fukushima is the primary source of atmospheric radioactive material fallout. Radioiodine, which disappears rapidly, is regularly detected and shows that criticallity is still happening. Melt-through in three reactors and total lack of control and knowledge about conditions by TEPCO would make it at least three times worse as Chernobyl – yet this has still to become common sense and most people in north-eastern Japan try to reassure themselves that it is still safe until the fourth reactor blows up, which is only a matter of time. Tokyo should have been evacuated immediately and forever – after 8 months, an orderly evacuation could have been carried out and housing built but the Japanese government and mostly the population, who lives in denial, decided otherwise.

Usually SurvivalJapan leaves Tokyo out of the picture as anyone serious about their survival in Japan would have left the no man’s land area, including Tokyo, long ago. However, M. Goshi Hosono’s plan to spread radiation all over Japan is making its way, with potential effects outside the no man’s land, in what we call the monitored land, as can be read in the Japan Today article below and which was already mentioned on SurvivalJapan almost 3 months ago in Tokyo Imports 500,000,000 Kg Of Nuclear Waste.

Incinerators are less than 4 miles away from the Imperial Palace and popular places like Shibuya and Ebisu, which will all be under the radioactive fallout when winds abate.

I am told that yakuza are different from other similar organizations worldwide, as they supposedly appeared first to protect outcasts and organize work for them, and are nationalists who want to protect Japan and the Imperial Family. Mothers who occupy Hibiya Park in Tokyo (close to the Parliament, the Imperial Palace and headquarters of many large dysfunctional companies such as TEPCO and neighbor Mizuho) reported that harassment from right-wing militia somewhat relented when mothers told them that they would pack up their camping tents and leave if His Majesty would meet with them and ask them to. There are a few public enemies in the government, firms and media nowadays who are jeopardizing Imperial lives and the future of Japan – one can only wonder what yakuza associations are waiting for before saving this country if nobody else will, not that I am suggesting anything.

Winds will carry radioactive smog towards Chiba peninsula and Izu peninsula and archipelago depending on the season and weather. Winds seldom blow west but they occasionnally do, as Meteocentrale wind simulations show, and they sometimes even reach Osaka from Fukushima. The flying distance between Tokyo to Osaka (250 miles) is about the same order as between Fukushima to Tokyo (150 miles), although slightly less and Tokyo is a secundary source, not exactly like Fukushima itself.

Besides, the terrain configuration around Tokyo, i.e. the Kanto Plain, is unfortunately perfect to drive radiation fallout as we surmised from March eleven and was later proven by the presence of hotspots in Gunma, Saitama, etc. Further west, the region of Nagoya, in Aichi prefecture, will be also affected as well as the whole Nobi Plain, although less than the Kanto Plain of course. The whole coastal area between Tokyo and Nagoya, i.e. Shizuoka, etc. will be on the way on adverse days. Radioactive winds can also easily go through between Shiga and Mie prefectures, where mountains are low and several valleys let highways through to Osaka.

Japan Today – Tsunami debris from Miyagi to be incinerated in Tokyo this week

Dec. 13, 2011 –

TOKYO —

The first load of tsunami debris from Miyagi Prefecture will be test burned at a waste incineration plant in Tokyo’s Ota Ward on Tuesday and Wednesday, with further tests scheduled for Dec 20-21 at a Shinagawa Ward plant.

If the test burns go well, large-scale burning will commence next February at a rate of 150 tons per day, Tokyo metropolitan government officials said, Fuji TV reported. Under the plan, 10,000 tons of combustible debris from Onagawa will be disposed of in incineration facilities located on reclaimed land in the Tokyo Bay area.

Officials plan to burn 500,000 tons by 2013.

Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures have massive mountains of rubble, said to weigh more than 23 million tons.

The debris being sent to Tokyo is mainly wood and metal. By the end of next March, Tokyo will have received a total of 500,000 tons of debris from Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

This article may still be available from its original source.

Elections in Osaka brought a new radioactive waste incineration top supporter in the person of M. Hashimoto, in line with the previous government and closer to achieving their plan. Foreigners are leaving Japan for both economical and radioactive contamination reasons and some of the lingering companies are looking to the west to seek refugee but local politicians do not understand that they are planning to kill Osaka and reject foreign investment in their city and the whole Kansai region – and accelerate the overseas shift of major domestic manufacturers based in the area. Downsizing in foreign companies in Japan – starting with the repatriation of expats – may not be obvious in statistics yet, but the situation is incredibly tense and this kind of “atmospheric intelligence” will become supported by hard economic data next year. Therefore, the Osaka Governor should guarantee the security of international staff and take all necessary measures to ensure that radioactive waste is refused if only in order to keep foreign companies in Kansai and attract more of them.

According to the Kansai Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Kansai region accounts for approximately 20% of Japan’s economy, the equivalent to that of the Netherlands (ranking 17th in the world) – Source: 2009 Kansai Keizai Hakusho (Economic White Paper). The website of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan states that:

“Apart from Tokyo, the Kansai region in western Japan is the most important economic centre. The Kansai region groups the seven prefectures of Fukui, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama, and covers 8.3% of Japan’s surface area. Its approximately 24 million inhabitants produce 16% of Japan’s GDP. Its share of total Japanese exports to Germany is 22.6%, and of imports from Germany 17.4%.

The Kansai region boasts a gross regional product of $US770 billion, which corresponds to an economic strength on a par with Canada, or with South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore combined.”

Kansai is the only large economic region in Japan striclty outside the no man’s land and previous Prime Minister Naoto Kan once considered the possibility of moving the Japanese government to Osaka – yet Osaka Governor decided to destroy it anyway.

US and Germany represented respectively 33 and 16% of all foreign-affiliated companies in Kansai by country in 2008, according to The Foreign Investor CD-ROM 2009, by Toyo Keizai Inc. – that is a combined half of all these foreign companies. As soon as the radioactive disease comes to Osaka, these companies will shrink like their Greater Tokyo sisters. Furthermore, the latter will cancel any plan they might have had to move at least part of their staff over there.

If you are a potential expat from the US, Germany and any other English-fluent national, I strongly caution you against accepting any position in Japan at the moment, since Tokyo is actually within the real no man’s land – except that it is officially miraculously spared from Fukushima, much like Minsk is supposed to be from Chernobyl, within similar distances; Osaka is on the verge of falling into the shadow and Nagoya will surely follow its path once Osaka is taken. The Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry may well issue some reports that the situation is safe and organize special events to promote it, it will not be safe and foreigners know it. Indeed, would you accept working in Minsk or Kiev (no offense to residents and victims of these cities)?

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Nine months after the disaster, the Japanese Science Ministry finally gave birth to a report about radiation spread across Japan, as published by Asahi Shimbun newspaper (article also reproduced below). Although from the relatively small size of Japan compared to Chernobyl-stricken Belarus, it was obvious from the onset that Cesium would fall “all over Japan” (breaking news title from the Asahi Shimbun article), the issue was to assess concentrations.

Since the Japanese government policy remains to downplay the risk, after censoring radiation reports in the news and in the blogosphere, data should be taken with a grain of salt. Last week, the Japanese government has turned its back on the company it had contracted to monitor radiation in parks and school playgrounds around Fukushima, after it suddenly discovered that the accuracy of the Geiger counters it had ordered was substandard (Cf. Mainichi Shimbun news article and comment in Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert in SurvivalJapan). MEXT data for all regions but Fukushima falsely reported radiation levels close to natural background radiation for months so that I only trust citizens reports such as Safecast. On the Japanese government radiation map below, it is a safe bet to assign to each concentration the level range above each reported, i.e. for 0-10.000 Becquerel/sq.m, the real value is probably between 10.000 and 30.000 Becquerel/sq.m. As for the methodology, only one station per prefecture was used to measure data. The Japanese government and affiliated organizations reportedly used Geiger counters conveniently located to show the least radiation, as in the current case of Tokyo University, which use only their one station with lower readings and switched off the other one which measures higher levels of radioactivity. Japan is not the only country to set their radioactivity monitoring stations at their convenience, this is common practice as shown in France by CRIIRAD with Areva (ex-COGEMA) company for instance, in the context of nationwide contamination from closed uranium mines. Read for instance “Decommissioning Projects – France” on Wise-Uranium with links or directly the English report by Head of CRIIRAD Bruno Chareyron, “Radiological hazards from uranium mining”, available for download in PDF format. CRIIRAD stands for Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la RADioactivité / Commission for Independent Research and Information about RADiation and Bruno Chareyron was invited in Fukushima.

If absolute figures are probably fudged, relative concentrations of radiation in cities are likely to be trustful (although it says nothing about other cities in each prefecture). Hereafter is a ranking based on the news article, with lowest concentration rounded up to 1 Bq/sq.m for Uto, Kumamoto Prefecture, as the reported value is unrealistically small (0.378 Bq/sq.m) and for the sake of having a non-null integer multiplier. It should be noted that the apparent precision of figures is misleading and I kept the 2 most significant figures for this short ranking:

Kumamoto (Kyushu) : 1

Osaka : 20

Tokyo : 20,000

Yamagata (Fukushima and Miyagi neighbor by the Sea of Japan) : 20,000

Ibaraki (northern neighbor of Tokyo by the Ocean Pacific) : 40,000

In other words, radiation is 10 times lower in Kyushu compared to Kansai (suspiciously, in spite of the Genkai nuclear incident, Cf. Nuclear Incident in Kyushu November Update on SurvivalJapan). Kansai is itself a 1000 times less irradiated than Tokyo. This seems about right and there is of course a gradient between these regions. Indeed, before information black-out was enforced, a Japanese green tea grower in Shizuoka (further south from Mount Fuji, about 150 km / 100 miles south-west of Tokyo) reported high level of radioactivity (read for instance the New York Post article about it). In order to get 680 Bq/kg in dried tea leaves, as was reported there in Honyama area, the soil needs to be pretty contaminated and hence also the air, from which radioactive fall-out precipitates (therefore, other food products from this wider area are contaminated as well). This means that statements like the following one is untrustworthy: “Large amounts of radioactive dust fell in Tokyo, but a separate survey has detected relatively low accumulations of cesium in the soil.” Actually, it was documented in the US in the wake of a nuclear bomb test in Nevada that decontamination of roads and concrete surfaces is impossible even by using hydrochloric acid, so if the latter sounds paradoxical with regards to “large amounts of radioactive dust fell in Tokyo”, then it is another lie by the ministry official : “Tokyo has smaller soil surfaces than other prefectures, but road and concrete surfaces are less prone to fixate cesium deposits, which were probably diffused by the wind and rain”. Read “Secret Fallout” by Dr. Ernest Stainglass available for download in PDF format for more information about the myth of nuclear decontamination and more specifically chapter 1, “Thunderstorm in Troy”.

Likewise, it is just simply impossible to reconcile statements of Ibaraki prefecture being 1 million times more radioactive than 2 years ago on one hand, and the current air radiation level being 0.14 uSv/h, i.e. what I personally measured in my city in the monitored area and which is an ordinary value indeed. Again, the same article mentions that Ibaraki is more than 40,000 times radioactive than Kumamoto in Kyushu (actually 100,000 if we consider the exact values given in the article). It is a wonder that such inconsistencies can exist in an article from a mainstream newspaper without a word of critical analysis. The article leaves a great grey area between Tokyo and Osaka – as it would be interesting to get some values for Nagoya for instance, which is inside the no man’s land in my book (although the Aichi prefecture is supposedly “clean” on the map below), as one needs to draw a line somewhere and radiation reports by citizens were higher than “normal” there.

image

Note: real values probably one notch higher in the scale

Asahi Shimbun – Cesium from Fukushima plant fell all over Japan

November 26, 2011

Radioactive substances from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have now been confirmed in all prefectures, including Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, about 1,700 kilometers from the plant, according to the science ministry.

The ministry said it concluded the radioactive substances came from the stricken nuclear plant because, in all cases, they contained cesium-134, which has short half-life of two years.

Before the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, radioactive substance were barely detectable in most areas.

But the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s survey results released on Nov. 25 showed that fallout from the Fukushima plant has spread across Japan. The survey covered the cumulative densities of radioactive substances in dust that fell into receptacles during the four months from March through June.

Figures were not available for Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, where the measurement equipment was rendered inoperable by the March 11 disaster.

One measurement station was used for each of the other 45 prefectures.

The highest combined cumulative density of radioactive cesium-134 and cesium-137 was found in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, at 40,801 becquerels per square meter. That was followed by 22,570 becquerels per square meter in Yamagata, the capital of Yamagata Prefecture, and 17,354 becquerels per square meter in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

The current air radiation level in Ibaraki Prefecture is about 0.14 microsievert per hour, equivalent to an annual dose of about 1 millisievert, the safety limit for exposure under normal time international standards.

Large amounts of radioactive dust fell in Tokyo, but a separate survey has detected relatively low accumulations of cesium in the soil.

“Tokyo has smaller soil surfaces than other prefectures, but road and concrete surfaces are less prone to fixate cesium deposits, which were probably diffused by the wind and rain,” a ministry official explained.

The fallout densities were considerably lower in the Chugoku and Kyushu regions in western Japan. The smallest figure of 0.378 becquerel per square meter came from Uto, Kumamoto Prefecture. The density in Osaka was 18.9 becquerels per square meter.

The peak value in Ibaraki Prefecture was 970,000 times larger than the cumulative fallout density of 0.042 becquerel per square meter in fiscal 2009, found in an earlier nationwide survey before the Fukushima crisis started.

Before the accident, cesium-137, which has a longer half-life of 30 years, had been detected from time to time from atmospheric nuclear tests. But those densities mostly stayed below 1 becquerel per square meter, while cesium-134, with a shorter half-life, was rarely detected, the ministry officials said.

Also on Nov. 25, the science ministry released maps of aerially measured radioactive cesium from the Fukushima plant that accumulated in Aomori, Ishikawa, Fukui and Aichi prefectures.

This was the final batch of the 22 prefectures in eastern Japan where mapping was to be completed by the end of this year.

Nowhere in the four prefectures did the accumulations exceed 10,000 becquerels per square meter, the threshold for defining an area as being affected by the nuclear accident. This reconfirmed the science ministry’s view that radioactive plumes wafted only as far west as the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures and as far north as the border of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, ministry officials said.

The ministry also confirmed that radioactive plumes tended to drift just short of mountain ranges where they formed belts of high cesium concentrations due to rainfall and other factors. The mountain ranges included the Ou and Iide mountains along the border of Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures, the Echigo mountains along the border of Fukushima and Niigata prefectures, the Shimotsuke mountains along the border of Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures, and the Kanto mountains along the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures.

These patterns are shown in three-dimensional plots in an online Japanese-language document released by the science ministry (http://bit.ly/unIfH0).

The ministry also said Nov. 25 that it will conduct aerial measurements of cesium accumulations in soil in regions outside the 22 prefectures starting next year. That is because small amounts of cesium have been detected in dust deposits in Hokkaido and western Japan.

By HIROSHI ISHIZUKA / Staff Writer

Tourists are well advised to avoid altogether Tokyo and the whole north-east of Japan, although visiting Osaka – Kyoto – Nara area, i.e. Kansai, and south-east remain safe as of today, provided extreme caution is paid to food origin. This can prove tricky as tourists usually eat out and Japanese cuisine, one of the best in the world, takes a large place in the tourist experience. However, the authorities’ mismanagement of the Fukushima crisis brought down a culinary disaster with half of the country’s fresh produce turned into nuclear waste distributed nationwide, and TEPCO managed to pollute the Pacific Ocean to such an extent that anything from it, including of course sushi, should be out of anyone’s diet whose life expectancy is higher than the next five years. I highly recommend renting a place with a kitchen and making your own food with utmost care to labelling. Most of all, leave your children at home. If visiting Japan still makes sense to you and you are taking all necessary precautions, keep in mind that your return flight will serve food from Japan with “unknown” origin on board, even if you are flying with a foreign airline. I strongly advise that you take your own food on-board whenever possible and complain to your airline about putting their flying staff and passengers at risk. If you think this is an exaggeration, picture yourself leaving Minsk just seven months after Chernobyl disaster contaminated the whole Belarus and being served local food on board.

On a recent trip to Europe flying with Lufthansa, I was amazed that not only Japanese but also the German crew was totally oblivious of this severe threat. After my explanation, a crew member was nice enough to serve me some remnants from their incoming flight, i.e. two frankfurters, four bananas and two oranges and some cheese and black bread which was all I ate during the 12 hour or so flight. Luckily for me, I was the only one to raise the issue this time – or I would have had nothing but orange or tomato juice to sustain me. Back to Japan, I was  concerned while eating spinach, a radio-friendly vegetable, especially as some onigiri rice balls labelled in Japanese were available during the flight and some sushi rolls and cold soba noodles were served with some wasabi / horse-radish paste as entrees – but a crew member reassured me that everything came from Germany notwithstanding. I took his word and try to sleep on it with the help of a Warsteiner beer, which amazed me by the simplicity of its content compared to the incredible brew which is served in Japan under the name “beer” (not even mentioning the various substitutes): malt, hops, yeast and water. Here is a picture of my frugal plate below. If you believe that their high potassium-40 content makes eating 4 bananas as dangerous as Fukushima rice and Ibaraki spinach, you are mistaken and should continue to learn about radioactivity. (more…)

Most people now compare data between Chernobyl and Fukushima and try to extrapolate and make predictions and recommendations – but the situation has changed. Consider the facts:

1. Meltdown is on-going at Fukushima

2. Fukushima stores a large amount of nuclear fuel.

3. The meltdown affects some corium lost underground, without protective containment.

4. Corium slowly moves downward.

5. Hydrogen is being produced in large quantities in the meltdown process.

6. Water flows in the underground from rains and cooling efforts.

I am concerned that a supercritical mass might be achieved if some corium is moved around by water for instance. The fission reaction would take place in a cloud of hydrogen, possibly turning into a fusion reaction, i.e. an H-bomb. This is a remote possibility but it is time that we consider past the Chernobyl model. Instead of lifting the evacuation limit around Fukushima, I think that it is time to extend to the whole of Japan instead.

Read also on this topic Fukushima Diary blog post “High level of radiation is making hydrogen from H2O“.