Thursday, March 24, 2011

Legitimate Scare Part 2

A Japanese physicist and excellent writer, Terada Torahiko wrote,

“It’s easy to be overly scared or not scared at all, but it’s difficult to be scared legitimately.

It is so true. With that note, I have translated the following article from Asahi newspaper of March 23, 2011. This is not full, but a partial translation, but I think I captured the main body of the article. The following article appeared on page 5.

Yoichi Kato, a member of the editorial team flew on an American rescue team’s helicopter to a disaster stricken area on 22nd and 23rd. On the first flight, there were dozens boxes of water plastic bottles, dozens of plastic bags full of used clothes, and three workers dressed in a dark special uniform sat among those used clothes as though they were half buried in them.

The first stop they made was the Shizugawa Middle School. Members of the Japanese defense force and local people came over. The American team members on the helicopter did not speak Japanese. On behalf of the team, Kato asked the people there,

“What do you need the most?”

“Nothing particular,” a local government worker said.

Kato was surprised with the reply. “

Many goods have been gathering here from all over Japan, and we haven’t been able to distribute them all,” the worker said.

But they needed water and clothing after all, so the American team downloaded their supplies. Kato flew back with the American team to the carrier (Ronald Regan), but there were no more goods available. Again, they flew the empty helicopter to search for survivors.

Before the beginning of the first flight, the team was briefed with emphasis that their mission was to search and rescue. The pilot was giving his order to the team members, “When you see a survivor in the ocean, you go,” or “If you see a survivor on the ground, you’ll go.” The members on the helicopter stared below looking for survivors or a sign of SOS.

The second flight the team took, they landed in the spacious field among a housing complex of the same town as the first flight. A local person said the minimum needed goods have been supplied at a middle school nearby, but they needed gasoline. They said they have been pushing a cart on foot for a 6-km roundtrip daily in order to transport their needed supply. They said they needed insulin for diabetes, clothes detergent, cotton work gloves, candles, and shampoo. An American team member wrote it down, and told the locals, “I’ll bring them over tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

The Japanese rescue member in charge on the Ronald Regan carrier said, “The rescue effort has entered a new phase. We are now required to provide more detailed and considerate efforts according to the survivors’ needs.”

For the issue of radiation contamination, the Americans were surprisingly extremely cautious. When the reporter got on the helicopter originally at the Atugi airport (Kanagawa, the same prefecture as Yokohama where I reside), he was asked to wear a white protective uniform and a pair of rubber boots. He was also asked to keep wearing a radiation scale. Then, a worker raised his radiation measuring device and checked the reporter’s body all over from top of his head to the bottom of the boots. Afterward, he took off the uniform and the boots, and he was permitted to enter the carrier.

When the reporter asked the location of the carrier, the answer was,

“231.5 km away from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and 37 km to 55.6 km from the coast.” The reporter inquired further and was told that the American Navy was ordered not to go closer than 231 km from the Fukushima No.1 Power Plant. Even within the radius of 93 km from the site, airplanes are not allowed to fly over.

The reporter was also asked to sign a paper titled “Prevention of Potassium Iodine” and also asked to take an iodine tablet. The town they had visited was Minamisanriku town in Miyagi which was within 185 km radius. When they returned to the aircraft carrier, the result of the radiation measurement gave a no-problem result.

When the helicopter flew initially from Atugi airport (it is in the same prefecture as Yokohama) and landed on the carrier, not only the crew and reporter, but also the body of the helicopter and all the goods were checked for radiation one by one. A member of the crew there said that he has been inside the carrier almost the whole time as though he were in the submarine. But another member said, “This is nothing compared to the training for Nuclear wars.”

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