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Contaminated soil found outside Fukushima no-go zone

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There have been many articles in the press about removing the top soil in Fukushima contaminated with radiation. There are an estimated 2,000-8,000 sq km of contaminated top soil. If it was possible to remove the top 10 cms of that soil, that would between 250 million to one billion tons of soil.

The debris from the earthquake and tsunami from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima is about 25 million tons, enough to fill Tokyo Dome 25 times.

The removal of contaminated top soil would be enough to fill 250 to 1,000 Tokyo Domes.

I don't think it's possible or realistic to even think that much top soil could be removed especially when 70% of the area is some kind of mountains.

Removing that amount of top soil could also create a major imbalance in the nature because the insect life would be removed too. Removing soil from mountains could create landslides.

And where would they be able to put such a massive amount of soil, except into the ocean? How much actual radiation would that much soil contain?

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The NGO FoE Japan (Friends of Earth Japan) did its own survey of radiation contamination in Watari District in Fukushima City with the help from Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University. and discovered high radiation levels throughout the district. The national government has so far refused to designate anywhere in the district as "evacuation recommended" area, because it would have to pay the relocation cost.

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I am getting SO sick of this. Why isnt this being beamed around the world and becoming an international scandal? Why arent people protesting in the streets about it? Why is absolutely FA being done?

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It is an absolute crime that the government is telling people it is ok to live in these areas

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Some 307,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil was detected in an independent survey conducted on Sept 14 by a radiological engineering expert and citizens’ groups.

By an independent survey, that has no stake in the outcome. People who are not on TEPCO's payroll. Nicky it's because we are sitting here at our computers blogging when we should be out there with rock and stone.

Every country in the world has had riots of some sort. Protests and even wars to remove those that would gladly take money to destroy your iife.

Nicky, I feel your pain. I'm with you. I think a lot of people who blog here are. Deep down, you know what it takes for freedom, your rights. Smoke in the city, blood, toil, tears and sweat. TEPCO and J-Govt politicians are like ticks on a dog, they ain't going anywhere unless WE become aggressive in removing those who are killing us as we speak.

My worst fear is that even JT has been told to remove and delete posts that down Japan's government and information about the radiation levels. They are on pins and needles that at any moment this could galvanize into something that would remove them from power.

Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order. It might be chaos but such friction is necessary to bring about IMMEDIATE action and change.

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I think people are getting too tired of actually saying or doing something because they are afraid it doesnt help. ESPECIALLY people that dont live in Fukushima. But yeah the government the people you expect to do something have been sitting on their hands since 11 march saying "shouganai". Dump the nuclear waste in their backyard and I promise you things will change.

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Could the soil be sent to other countries along with the rice as aid?

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Some 307,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil was detected in an independent survey conducted on Sept 14 by a radiological engineering expert and citizens’ groups.

Here's hoping the right thing is going to get done. I can't carry a stick with a sign saying Do The Right Thing in Front of Tokyo's Municipal Offices but I'm with you guys in Spirit.

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@ tananegi

Sorry, but the Bq's are tooo high. (^p^)

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Why does the soil not follow the rules!

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The highest reading discovered by Friends of the Earth Japan was 300,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium-137.

This is one discovered area but without doubt there will be others too.

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I posted the link to the original article yesterday..this English translation conveniently omits one bit.

同教授は「時間がたってセシウムの濃縮が進み、汚染が進行している地域もある」と指摘。「泥を除いたり、水で洗い流したりするだけでは線量が下がらない場所もある。子どもと妊婦を避難させた上で、アスファルトやコンクリートの除去なども考える必要がある」と訴えた。 

"the professor says that as time passes, Cesium begins to become concentrated.There are areas where there is ongoing contamination.There are places where merely removing mud (sludge) and washing with water will not be enough to lower the radioactive isotope levels. It is important that we remove pregnant women and children from these areas and properly decontaminate the concrete and asphalt."

recently there are some big discrepancies in what is reported in the English and Japanese media...or should I say, what is omitted.

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and further, let's call a spade a spade..Fukushima city makes more sense to readers than the capital of Fukushima prefecture. What the professor also said was that an area with over 150,000 bq of cesium was found very close to a daycare centre, and that the levels they found were FIVE times higher than three months ago.

If Cesium does accumulate and become concentrated then this would explain the rather garish figures coming in around Kanto at the moment. If not, then it means that quite a lot of very nasty isotopes are still pouring out of Dai Ichi. (which they are, as evidenced by the Iodine spike a month or so back)

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In one of my classes last week, we discussed this situation. I couldn't believe the number of students who were droning out the 'We all must suffer' or 'Shouganai' or 'Well, worst stuff is happening in other countries' mentality. We can go on and on spouting statistics about other countries but how does that condone what is happening here....now, this very minute as I type. Whenever I have got on my soapbox to voice concerns or show disagreement, I have been treated with indifference or like 'oh, she's the panicking gaijin'. I know there are Japanese out there who are protesting and being proactive but the numbers need to swell and voices need to be a lot more louder, tenacious and insistent to get something changed around here. I am totally at a loss as how to try to help the poor people who are directly being hurt or put at risk with this farce. Japan had a triple disaster. There has been much debate over whether nature or man caused the damage. 6-7 months on it is man not nature who is turning this whole situation into a farce.

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I read somewhere about Chernobyl that there are ghost towns which are hundreds of km from the nuclear mishap. Hence a no -go zone of just 20 or 30 km is questionable or am I overestimating things. Or some people haven't come across the pictures of Chernobyl and its populace and animals after the accident? Even I'm here in Aichi I don't feel safe too with the food and water I take everyday not even if I ever decide to go back to Manila. Where do you think the by product of cooling down the reactors would go? Why do you think some big factories are situated near rivers or oceans? Very scary indeed!

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And those people in power are belittling and fighting over name and money matters. How could they ever be hard hearted when this will go on for even hundred years? Fighting for self interest and greed when even their descendants' descendants will feel the pang of their misdeeds!

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So it's only 30 times higher than the allowable limit... let's make evacuation mandatory, and meanwhile announce that people who live between 20 - 30 km outside the plant go back home!

Enough's enough already: get them all out of there.

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Darren, do you mean the English was less than the Japanese? Interesting, because in general I find that most people who read the Japanese news are less informed than those (Japanese and non Japanese) who are involved in the anti nuke movement already. Only Tokyo Shimbun seems to be decent as far as the MSM goes.

It is a crime that they are only talking about voluntary radiation. As Hiroaki Koide of Kyodai says, for the people in the affected area, this is WORSE than being in a war zone, and yet, ironically, only a few hundred kilos away, and even IN Fukushima shi, life goes on almost as normal. This is from a new short documentary file by a well know director and actress: http://iwaiff.com/201110/en/friends/friends_koide.html

The above is the English introduction. The film, so far in Japanese, can be viewed here: http://iwaiff.com/201110/jp/friends/friends_after_311_movie_koide.html

To the people who ask why people aren't out in the streets, some of us, and I hope you are too. The reason why more aren't is obvious: trust in the media or a willingness to avoid looking at the truth, not an affliction limited to Japan.

It is important not only to decry the lack of concern but also to take whatever actions, however small, to make people aware of the lies and the dangers. And to speak out. Unfortunately, things do not change in the timeframe we like. The late historian and activist Howard Zinn noted this in reference to social change in the US, but it applies here to, that historial change does not occur within a single lifetime, and we must keep that in mind and not give up hope. We may not be successful in fully subverting the forces of death (TEPCO and METI in this case) but what we do today can make a difference, if it only means getting one family to make the decision to evacuate, and that is hard as Koide admits, since people cannot just walk away when they are still tied in so many ways to the places they live.

In short, let's do whatever we can to spread the word, educate those who think it is safe, publicize the dangers, help people in the area, and et out on the streets and protest.

For our part we will be bringing kids to organic farms in Kyushu for a short respite in the near future, one to take away a little stress, two to lessen the accumulated radiation (internal and external). Will announce this later when the program is set up. But there are groups doing all sorts of things, and we should look for opportunities to participate.

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Shocking to say the least but expected.

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The last comment by 'JapanGal' sums it all up about most Japanese attitude to the soil contamination problem. It's like saying 'Some of us know this is serious, but I'll be arsed if I have to do anything about it. Let the polititcians and administrators do something. They always seems to do it. I'll just go to Shibuya/Harajuku to hang out'.

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Radiation is the invisible enemy but the effects of it will be less invisible in about 20+ years.

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I agree with Nicky Washida's comment. It's getting very tiring and factual information needs to be getting out, not the dangerous propaganda the public constantly hears. The spin and attempts at covering up the problems at Fukushima seems to be even worse than that of the Soviet Union, if that's possible.

The following TV reports by 3 Japanese scientists insisting that plutonium is not so dangerous is a good example. What they say is criminal IMO. The first guy compares it with table salt and says that the bacteria which causes food poisoning is "much more dangerous."

He says "Half of adult males will die if they ingest 200 grams of salt" but an "oral lethal dose of plutonium-239 is 32 grams." He admits that if you inhale it into your lungs (which may be more likely in the current situation) then the fatal dose would be lower at 10mg.

But adds: "So unless you turn plutonium into powder and swallow it into your lungs…"

Then the host interrupts: "No one would do that"

The other 2 guys are just as bad. The second expert, a radiology professor at Tokyo Uni Hospital says that when he was born the amount of plutonium was 1000 times higher than now because of the fallout from the atomic bomb testing. He says, confusingly, even if it has increased somewhat it's still much less than before … so people don't have to worry. But he then contradicts himself by agreeing that the half life of plutonium is 24,000 years. But says there will be no affect on the public.

To see real propaganda in action that would make the Soviets blush in timidity… (click on cc button for subtitles) ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RTNKFHQexSI

On a more positive note I see that the people who fled Fukushima after the accident will now be compensated. The government says that "to flee in a panic is rational" and so it's right that they should be compensated. (Mainichi Shinbun.) The irony of this decision is that it was the same government and 'experts' who downplayed the problem directly after the accident which led to many people deciding not to leave, or not evacuating far enough, many of whom will now suffer health consequences judging by the high levels of contaminated soil now being found.

@m6bob

You're right. But then again there's a lot of dumbing down and brainwashing going on.

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Every household in this country should be issued with a no nonsense booklet from the government explaining what radiation is, the types of radiations, what's happening with foods, what happening with the power plant, etc etc......

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There needs to be some very careful and considerate decisions made about how the reconstruction will take place.

A recent study found that the population of the coast areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima would have dropped by 46% by 2040, mostly due to aging.

Following the 3/11 disaster, this is likely to be accelerated. In 2005, the population within 1 km of the coast in the three locations was about 223,000 and would have fallen to about 121,000 by 2040. The 3/11 disaster will decrease the size of the population even further.

Naoki Hayashi, a visiting researcher at the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry. Hayashi is calling for more realistic planning of the reconstruction projects — including building more compact towns — to accommodate an aging society likely to contain fewer people.

The government has drafted a bill to enhance measures to deal with tsunami following 3/11.

The bill, which the government plans to submit to an extraordinary Diet session starting later this month, will empower governors to designate "special warning zones" particularly vulnerable to tsunami damage and to recommend that buildings in such zones be relocated.

Anyone building a facility for elderly people or children in such a zone, or any unauthorized structure erected on a site for dikes or seawalls to protect against tsunami, will be punished with imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to ¥500,000.

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You should really check out http://www.safecast.org if you want some radiation readings. I've been following their data analysis quite a bit.

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Well those twelve iaea guys wont have to try hard to find something to do

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I think it would be much simpler to report about safe places in japan where the soil, air, food chain is not contaminated.

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'oh, she's the panicking gaijin'

1) I am a man so you can change this a bit.

2) I get this from my wife!!

3) My in-laws do the shougani stuff as well..... cant get anything across about this situation without getting the stop panicking or looks of what ever!

So what can I do when I have a whole family that doesnt care at all?

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What is worrying me now is the comments saying that radiation can accumulate over time. Is that true??! So basically, the readings taken in my local area back in May/June, that revealed very low levels of radiation and nothing to worry about should now be disregarded and it could be that I am now living in a hotbed of radioactive isotopes and no idea about it?

Could this be the reason that in the last few weeks an unusual number of kids at the local kindergarten, elementary school and my sons daycare are reporting nosebleeds? When some Mums told me it was "because of the radiation" I initially laughed at the idea and said the levels around here were no way high enough to cause nosebleeds.

@netninja: I would love to shout from the rooftops about all of this but they have me pinned down - if I start getting vocal firstly I am not taken seriously because like Samantha said I am just a "panicky gaijin", if I act with other mums we are just "over-reacting hormonal women" and if push really comes to shove - bye bye permanent residency and bye bye to my children. What can I do?

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@Nicky. Hiya! Really? Kids in your area are getting nosebleeds. If the powers that be here had been totally upfront and transparent from the get go, I'd be a lot more inclined to believing any reassurances that it was just some kind of virus or bug going round. I am going dizzy trying to keep up with conflicting information and assurances that are more changeable than the good ole British weather. What's going to get me first? The stress from trying to gauge what IS going on or the radiation? But seriously, if this were a movie I'd laugh. Tragically, we are talking about real lives here.

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Some 307,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil was detected in an independent survey conducted on Sept 14 by a radiological engineering expert and citizens’ groups.

And who is the expert? They are not mentioned in the article.

NetNinjaOct. 06, 2011 - 08:27AM JST

By an independent survey, that has no stake in the outcome. People who are not on TEPCO's payroll. Nicky it's because we are sitting here at our computers blogging when we should be out there with rock and stone.

Just because they say they are independent does not mean they are - we have been given no information on the groups.

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Nicky - you are right about the reaction you would get: 'panicky gaijin.' But I don't think you need to worry about your permanent residency status. That is something not easily lost -- and certainly not for protesting.

My concern would be your emotional health. The other mothers are more likely be secure in their social foundation, but we non-Japanese are standing on shaky ground when it comes to family and neighborhood history.

Also, those protesting would probably have to align themselves with a local political opposition party to get their voices heard. And I've always found those to be a little too passionate for me. Borderline cult-like. Please take care.

My wife and I considered protesting, but quickly realized we would be the first to get attacked and ostracized as we are fringe. We don't have the social footing to withstand that kind of attack and therefore chose to discuss box-lunches for our daughter quietly. Fortunately, the school agreed.

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One Day in Fukushima City by Phil Lee — last modified Apr 14, 2011 03:33

Excerpt: Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

On April 11, I visited Fukushima City with two activists from Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai). We met four members from Fukushima Citizen’s Conference for Reconstruction from Nuclear Disaster, a citizen’s group established immediately after the events of March 3.

Friends of the Earth International

http://www.foei.org/en/blog/one-day-in-fukushima-city

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The development comes days after Japan lifted evacuation advisories for five areas between 20-30 kilometers from the nuclear plant and as it looks to convince tens of thousands of people that it is safe to return home

Another BIG OOOPS. Lost track of how many of these there have been.

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This was already a given. We need to know the degree to which neighboring bread basket, Ibaragi, the tea fields of Sayama or the rice fields of Chiba have been contaminated and how to keep anything suspect from being served to our children.

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For those of us that live in Japan it is not easy. There are many conflicting opinions about the situation.Do we stay or leave?

Having had the time to keep on top of the story from day 1, I had little doubt that the subsequent explosions at the plants were of a nuclear nature-we were told at the time that they were not,of course. However, I have watched enough Tepco briefings online since then to understand that the information we are being given is a.not true b. not given at all. c.true but given so long after that it is already out of date.

None of the above are acceptable to me.

Thus, I have a plan to depart Japan in hand.

It is not acceptable to be a deer caught in the headlights!

I will beat an orderly retreat but it will have to be a retreat..........

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safe journey kurisupisu.

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Not much to add to any of the above statements, except I agree. Too many "hows" and "whys" since this disaster happened. Relocation should have been the plan from the outset. Reconstruction needs to be seriously reevaluated. Just sad.

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No doubt the contamination extends much further too. It is also disappointing that they know how dangerous this is to children and expectant mothers, but have only made it a voluntary evacuation order, thus giving them no grounds for compensation. Donkey's butts!

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star viking> Professor Yamauchi of Kobe University.

Nicky, I don't know if you read my reply to your other post but you can buy NZ yoghurt called Ezi yo online at rakuten.Just mix it with water.Also check out the okfood blog.I can't remember if you said you live in Chiba, but a guy has started renting out a survey meter to test soil and food at JR Kashiwa stn.Check out mainichi online.

bleeding from the nose..I would definitely look into getting tests done.Can never be too safe.Chiba actually has 3 WBC machines..there are only 32 in Japan.

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Regarding the extent of soil contamination across Japan, please watch "Soil Contamination at Kansai School" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpPy2Vovsyo.

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@ Kurisupisu. All the best for the future! May the fates shine down kindly on you and yours.

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It won't be for a while yet though-I am working like a fiend to set up other work overseas at the moment...phew!

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Back on topic please.

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@Nicky Washida,

Re. the Nosebleeds. I'm sorry to hear about that. A couple of links that might help.

Christopher Busby recommends large amounts of calcium and magnesium supplements. He says they bind to the DNA and therefore keep the radioactive particles off the DNA. See notes under youtube video. He has set up a Foundation in Japan to "… provide regular independent scientific expertise, to advise parents, to independently assess contamination and to give children access to radionuclide blocking supplements. His expert advice is firstly to evacuate the children to uncontaminated areas."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iutbbfduAQ

From around the 7 min. mark for info on the calcium.

His web site is: http://www.cbfcf.org/ (Japanese)

I've also heard that Zeolite powder (or liquid) also works as metals including mercury and radioactive particles bind to it. The Zeolite passes safely through the body and does not enter the blood stream.

http://www.NRGZeolite.com/

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kurispisu: godspeed in your next step in life. you're taking a step few are lucid enough to take.

i think zichi offers some very good information. for those still in japan, i'd listen to him.

honestly, i can't offer any further thoughts. i've been saying from day one that staying in the eastern part of honshu is betting with your and your loved ones lives. heck, i know how inconvenient it must be to change even the little things like where you bank much less where you live. hope you all make the best decision for you. that's all.

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The government intends to solve the problem of high contamination by revising its "safe" standard upward.

Panel to suggest provisionally hiking annual radiation exposure limit http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20111006a7.html

Since they can't obey the rules, instead of allowing people to move to a safe area, they will change the rules. So it doesn't matter how much contamination there is. If they can't fix it, they will define it as safe. They are going to do the same with food, by the way.

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@weedkila and Nicky Washida:

Zeolites (especially EDTA, which is part of common washing powder, at least in Europe) actually bind metal ions in water, so that they are washed out instead of settling on the laundry. Since Japan doesn't have such mineral rich water, I suspect that they don't have it in the detergents. Zeolites are used to remove toxic metals from a human intestines, if they had been ingested accidentally. I know that it works with plutonium in lab tests. However, that doesn't save anyone from lung cancer.

The nosebleeds could have plenty of reasons. Since it definitely got quite a bit colder in Kanto since Roke passed through (I'd say it was an average temperature drop between 5 and 10 degrees) the cases of simple cold are on the rise. Cold leads to stuffed-up noses and blowing that too much and too often (sometimes) leads to nosebleed - at least in my case. I think this reason is more probable than radiation in most places of Kanto.

Radioisotopes can be displaced and accumulate in new locations. However, this doesn't happen spontaneously. The typhoons, which brought lots of rain and high water levels might have washed away sludge containing plenty of radioisotopes to a smaller number of (now) more heavily contaminated places.

For the panicking gaijin matter - I don't think that temporary expats like me, who don't stay in Japan for too long, should take public action. This might actually discourage (some average) Japanese people who would otherwise take action, because they could perceive it as an intrusion into their Japanese life/culture/independence/superitority/whatever. I keep pointing out that I am worried and that I avoid certain foods due to radiation, but even most of the university students with a scientific background don't care and seem to believe to be immune to daily radiation.

@kurispisu:

Have a safe trip and all the best. I myself decided not to extend my stay in Japan. For me, it will be definitely over next year in April. Having a clear way out and a fixed schedule makes you feel less endangered because You can predict the total dose (due to Fukushima) that You will get.

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warnerbro; cheers mate! What is it with these idiots? They were told to hand out potassium iodide to people in Fukushima, but instead of doing so, raised the allowable rad dosage levels and handed out wet tissues to wipe down clothes...then they raised the exposure limits for nuclear plant staff, (another Tepco worker died suddenly today) and then they raise the amount of bequerels permitted to be buried from 8,000 to 10,000 and now they are considering this?? the nerve.

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I just have to say first of all that I appreciate each and every one of you posting advice/tips/scientific data/links or even just sympathy!

Darren - yes I did see your yoghurt message and thank you. Kurisupisu bon voyage and dont blame you in the slightest for leaving. Samantha - hi and yes, there seem to have been a spate of nosebleeds recently in the local area which I put down to a virus/cold/allergies causing stuffy noses etc etc - until I read that radiation levels can concentrate over time rendering the numbers I trusted from back in April/May meaningless.

But then along comes Johannes Weber again with sensible advice (PLEASE dont leave JT even if you leave Japan!!!). I am not an expert but I believe that the radiation levels have to be pretty high to induce nosebleeds, and this is not an area where sludge could accumulate. I guess radiation could have been blown in here, but certainly not to the levels that would cause nosebleeds I would think. I would be REALLY interested to know what local paediatricians are thinking and if they are seeing an increased number of cases - but they would never release that info to me!

I spoke to a Mother friend of mine quite recently about elementary school lunches. She speaks fluent English and lived overseas a few years, so I figured maybe she would have some strong opinions on this. But she said she feels that everything is fine, she trusts the school and none of the other Mums are worried about it as far as she knows - which basically leaves me as the lone renegade foreign mum causing trouble (again!)!

I am having a little drinky with a few local male gaijin buddies tonight (I KNOW! The horror! And me a married woman and all! What will the neighbours say??!). It will be interesting to get their opinions on it, as Fathers themselves.

But like Samantha and a lot of others I am really getting sick of living like this. Just when you think you have a handle on things, new things get thrown up, and I just feel like the government has hung a whole bunch of people out to dry and gotten away with it - the same government I am supposed to depend on for mine and my familys future?! Eddie Landsberg is right - the stress will kill you before the radiation!

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@ Nicky. Go out and try to chill with a few beers tonight! You floozy you! I might join you...in spirit only! Sorry bad pun intended! As a mother to young kids, I totally get where you are coming from. The goalposts keep moving and when we comment the referee fobs us off! I jest but believe me, I am having many a sleepless night with worry.

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Some 307,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil was detected

Perhaps we should all visit, and take a little pot of cesium-laden soil back home with us so that we can share the experience? That DOES seem to be the message we keep getting....

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Operation "Sweep It Under the Rug" is in full swing.

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@Nicky Washida:

I think I will not end reading and posting on JT for a long time after returning home. The events of 3/11 and thereafter have changed me and my perceptions - and I guess I am not alone with that. The bad gut feeling - wondering how all of this will end - has become a nearly constant companion. It is incredibly disturbing that even though some of my Japanese friends are unhappy with nuclear power and somehow worried, they do not draw any personal conclusions or consequences from it.

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I am getting SO sick of this. Why isnt this being beamed around the world and becoming an international scandal? Why arent people protesting in the streets about it? Why is absolutely FA being done?

Exactly!! This is bloody ridiculous and totally appalling!! Anyone could have predicted that the contaminated area and no-go area needed to be much larger than 20 kms!!

Every household in this country should be issued with a no nonsense booklet from the government explaining what radiation is, the types of radiations, what's happening with foods, what happening with the power plant, etc etc......

YUP!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ Johannes Weber. I want to thank you for all your input and advice. For being a voice who has spoken rationally and calmly when things have been somewhat different. I think we all...if folks don't mind me saying...have been changed indelibly by March the 11th.

So many affected. So many trying to do the right thing by their families. At least we still have our families and the chance to protect them as we see best. I can't say that I know anyone on JT personally but I'd like to express my appreciation for everyone's comments whether I agree or not isn't important. It's nice to be able to express opinions and receive feedback.

Take care everyone!

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Frank E. Daulton

I watched the video link and I would say a reading of 0.3 microsieverts/h is safe.

But also we don't know if there's any radiation from Fukushima in Shiga Prefecture, which is also very close to Fukui Prefecture, the location of several nuke power plants, and the Monju fast breeder reactor.

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To be quite honest the whole country was pasted to some degree. If you have a geiger counter you will likely find higher readings under tree canopies and near roots and drains. Johannes is spot on as usual. The big spike in cesium in kanto happened after the last typhoon. Don't let your kids play on fallen leaves this yr. If I can ask a question Johannes.. I am assuming that the inevitable snow up north will pull the isotopes down and kinda clean the air a bit in terms of no nasties being picked up in the wind as dust.. Yet when the snow melts we will likely see concentrated areas of cesium from the melt and the runoff.. Would that be heading down the right track? I am assuming that the weight of snow could force even more cesium out of organic matter in the mountains.

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@Zichi too! Might not have agreed with you at times but with this issue, I reckon you too are spot on!

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A problem with very low radiation readings, like less than 1 microsievert per hour, we don't actually know what the readings were prior to the 3/11 disaster? All locations near to any nuclear plant will likely have readings a little higher than normal background levels. Average background level is another 0.25 microsieverts per hour. Even in America there are background reading, 10x at level.

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@ Darren Brannan

Exactly, the contamination is going to accumulate and disperse as nature does it's thing with the seasonal weather. Firstly the dried topsoil of summer can get blown around with the wind then wind and rain of the typhoon season can accumulate and spread the area of contamination. Areas of contamination are going to grow and levels are going to accumulate. This reminds me that YongYang said this months ago.

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@ Darren and Utrack:

I agree with You on this. You start out with a fine powder of radioactive dust, which can travel through wind, but mostly travels in wet environment in small water droplets. Since we have a high humidity here in Japan, this means that these particles should never come to rest.

Even if You have highly contaminated sludge, the amount of radioactive atoms is still nothing but a tiny fraction of the non-radioactive ones. Thus, it will be dispersed if and only if there is either a fire burning the sludge or there is lots of water washing through the sludge such that it goes into solution. If we put snow on our radioactive soil, there isn't too much going on, actually. Because the soil is hard frozen while it's cold. But when the snow melts, then the freshly melted snow will contain high amounts of radioisotopes, which will wash down along the rivers. I don't think the local contamination will change so much at the places where the snow melts,because it affects normally only the uppermost layer of topsoil.

Zichi is right about the 0.3 muSv/h. That is not very much. That would be 8 muSv per day or about 3 mSv per year. That is something You can get without a nuclear accident in many places easily, if the minerals in the ground contain the right natural radioisotopes.

Actually, I had been for a week in Shiga in August and I measured more or less the same daily dose there (高島) as I measure here in Tsukuba. I have an idea on this, which is probably not too far from the truth.

The ryokan where I staid added radium to the onsen's water. Because they claim that the radon, which is a decay product from has positive effects for human health. This is of course crap, but there are people in other countries who believe this nonsense as well.

However, no one starts adding radioactive materials to an onsen, if he doesn't have any traditional reason to do so.Thus, they probably have more radioactive minerals in the mountainous regions of Shiga prefecture. This would perfectly explain the heightened levels that the girls could measure.

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Let's also remember coal fired power plants also release small amounts of radiation.

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@Johannes

I'm worried that possibly the risks of internal radiation are not addressed enough.

The radiation dose rate you mentioned -0.3 muSv/h- may be safe, but reflects only the external gamma radiation reaching the body from its environment.

Cesium is a strong beta emitter. It is present as microscopic dust in the environment,and perhaps dissolved in rainwater.

Beta particle radiation travels only a few inches in air, and as most contamination is on the ground, it is underrepresented by the dose rates obtained from typical measurements taken 1 meter above the ground. That's if the detector is even sensitive to beta radiation.

Is there not a strong possibility that people will inhale cesium dust or ingest cesium in some form, whether in rice or mushrooms or from eating a sandwich with contaminated hands? Does Cesium leave the body quickly or does some of it become part of body tissues? And once in the body, does Cesium not bombard the tissues around it with beta radiation? Is that radiation not a risk? In addition to the external gamma radiation?

I agree the ambient gamma radiation level in Tsukuba is relatively low, except perhaps in some hot spots. Going North from Koriyama the ambient level increases rapidly, in areas where people still live their daily lives.

I watched kids walking to school as I drove by, my car raising a cloud of dust as I listened to my GM counter making more noise than I had ever heard from it (other than testing using a known source). And I worried about that. Perhaps I was overreacting?

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We can't just assume that all the radiation is just coming from the Fukushima power plant although that remains the most serious of concerns.

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The government CAN'T designate Fukushima an evacuation area. That's over a million people. Were would they go to?

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Thanks Johannes! Yes pretty much from Gifu up to Tottori there is a lot of radon and uranium in the granite. I had a great radon bath outside by the river in Mikasa.Tottori. Funny you should mention radon, as there was an interesting article about some research that indicates that from June last year until December there was a steady increase in Radon gas in the atmosphere and then it plummeted until March..where it leveled out but on the low end of the scale. Apparently the same phenomena was observed before the Hanshin earthquake and scientists in Japan believe this could be a new way to predict massive quakes. http://sankei.jp.msn.com/west/west_life/news/111005/wlf11100507000001-n1.htm

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@Darren Brannan Oct. 06, 2011 - 01:59PM JST

star viking> Professor Yamauchi of Kobe University.

Cheers! Looks like he's at least basically competent to comment on the matter, according to Google Scholar. However, the JT article and what has been attributed to Prof Yamauchi in the media are quite different. He talks about radioactivity being concentrated in the drains (a no-brainer) the JT article just suggests that it is everywhere.

I take issue with his reported suggestion that whole areas will need to be torn down due to Cesium isotopes being absorbed into concrete drains, asphalt and roofs - a more professional examination is needed, and for the drains and roofs at least an impermeable barrier can be added to absorb the beta radiation from the Cesium isotopes.

Also, I read that "the Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation" was one of the groups involved in the survey so I'm definitely waiting for more information from other independent parties before coming to any conclusion on this.

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