Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High or Low

natural radiation map  April 3rd

Thank goodness the leakage of high radiation water at last stopped. On high or low, I’ve learned that radiation rates depend on variables, but that leak from the pit near the Reactor two was way too high.

At Fukushima Daiichi, operators have been dumping their accumulated low radiation water into the ocean since yesterday. They call it low because apparently France and Britain have been dumping their processed radiation water of similar rate. I didn’t know that. Nobody has given us the comparison data. I read it in Nikkei newspaper yesterday. It was not on the first page. I’d like to know the rate from each country such as Japan and the U.S. We all must be dumping the processed water tainted with radiation.

By reading the New York Times, I haven’t seen much explanation about high or low on radiation. Their articles tend to report on high, higher, and highest on radiation in Fukushima. An article on the NY Times on April 1st still stresses on expanding the danger zone to 80 km radius. The article focuses on one higher radiation spot. I wondered if the article was a reprint for a moment.

Daily, Japanese newspapers report on radiation rates by region. They are low. See the photos. Again, Japanese announcers do not compare much with foreign countries. They would say, “It has gone up slightly,” or “it went down to normal rate.” The rates of natural radiation in Japan are very small compared with the rates in foreign countries. I watched one Japanese program in which a Japanese expert showed the average radiation of the world as 0.5. I think the unit is micro sievert. That’s ten times higher than the Japan’s average. I couldn’t believe it. In another television program, I saw the average of the U.S. natural radiation was 0.4. In Yokohama, it’s about 0.04. 0.04 is the Japan’s average.

Right now, Tokyo’s average is double the Yokohama rate, but no need to be alarmed when we compare it with the world average. That’s why people say, “it’s high or higher than normal, but it won’t affect on our health, it’s minimal.” According to the numbers on the photo, that’s true. Government officials and announcers are telling own citizens, not to the citizens of other country.

About the food contaminated with radiation, one Japanese expert said that if we ate, although we will never do that on purpose, such spinach and drink such water and milk for one year, the amount of radiation we take in will be similar amount as we might receive if we simply live in a foreign country with the average radiation. You can imagine why they say that. But I assure you that the opinion was directed to calm the Japanese public. The expert did not speak in an arrogant way, and no one would like to compare with foreign countries and say we are better in any way, especially at the time of spilling HIGH radiation water into the ocean.

I can see why Japanese government officials don’t talk much comparing with foreign countries although they are doing it now in a very slow and delicate way. They don’t want to create more harm than they already have. They don’t want to boast the good thing Japan has enjoyed all these years in face of this gigantic nuclear radiation problem.

I don’t know the reason why the natural radiation Japan receives is so low compared to the average in the world. I guess it is just the way it is. It is interesting though that China is very close to Japan, but their average is 0.54.

Further, even in Japan, our natural radiation rates vary by region. I heard that Kansai area is double the Kanto area. Osaka and Kyoto are in Kansai. Tokyo and Yokohama are in Kanto. Separately, also Ibaragi is in Kanto, not the northeast. One of the reports I read in Huffington, Ibaragi was the part of the northeast.

But how the radioactive materials are spreading if they are? I don’t understand their spread with the relationship to the natural radiation map with numbers. Asahi newspaper listed the following site but it said it isn’t detail. It also said the machine broke after giving an output once. IAEA also is collecting data for making global forecasts. I wonder if the system was used before and how accurate it has been. I see many sites, but I just need one easy map to see and the info. to be correct. That is my concern.

About the design of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear reactors, it was confirmed that it was old. No surprise there. Toshiba and Hitachi tried to imitate GE’s design to learn how to build reactors. The emergency generators that failed should have been housed in more secure place. The CEO of GE made his visit to Japan after three weeks from the accident. I haven’t heard much about whose responsibility the design is, but I sense a little bit what’s going on. The language barrier must be great. That’s my hunch. I think imitating is a good way to learn as junior engineers, but to build nuclear reactors, imitating alone is enough. We have to know what we are doing from core and include all the error routines and seek expert opinions in each category and synchronize all the knowledge. I saw a photo of spaghetti wiring plus tube looking things overhead that a former nuclear reactor engineer has shown. I used to watch customer engineers work under the floor of mainframe computers, but it is much worse. It looked like a giant mess.


ashok said...

Yes the fact that one major leak has stopped is really good news.

I do not see any danger in the area you live Keiko but persons closer to the plant even upto forty kilometers may suffer some radiation harm if they continue to get exposed over a prolonged period of time to even relatively low levels of radiations, or others if they continue to consume a particular food for long time.

If I was in Japan now as regards food I would keep changing variety, type and source of food and buy things like rice and noodles in small quantities so that it is from different places.

keiko amano said...


Those vegetables and more were all destroyed, and the buyers are not purchasing from those prefectures. Therefore, they don't try to sell either. If they do, they will lose the trust of people and that's the end of their business. Probably, most of these are results of over reaction, but the time like this, it cannot help.

ZACL said...

When I lived in London, U.K. I was given a small grant of money to encourage me to 'tank' my very old house cellar to reduce the affects of naturally occurring radon. That means I had the cellar floor lined with a thick plastic type membrane which was secured up to a height of about 1 metre, then it was overlaid from the floor up with a certain thickness of concrete. I do not know how many people did the same thing.

Any new houses from that time, had to have a membrane under a concrete base. There are other areas of the country where there is lots of naturally occurring radon.

Most cities have levels of asbestos in their air, more so than rural areas.

Some of the information you have read of nuclear matter in waters around our coastline is well out of date. I cannot speak for other countries. I ask why your newspapers deem it useful to publish stuff that is no longer current.

Nowadays, hospitals do not show notices describing where their nuclear medicine departments are, there are signs instead, for X-rays and body scans

At least 15,000 people are dead or missing in your disaster, it was mainly a tsunami and an earthquake that were the causes.

It is sensible that precautions are being taken and people are being advised of their best interests. I sincerely hope the displaced people of your North Islands finds some respite soon.

I am so sorry to hear of the new earthquake today. I am glad it did not affect the good work of your brave people at fukishima.

keiko amano said...


Thank you for the info. on radon in your country. About the info on other countries, I know close to zero. Anyway, I thought you have many stones that give natural radiation. So, wine cellars cause it. It is very interesting.

About my outdated info., which one is it? They all came either from Asahi or Nikkei newspapers. But if the low radiaiton processed water dumping, I think maybe "low" needed to be explained. Obviously, I'm naive about all these data, and also that "low" is not affecting our lives, otherwise Japan wouldn't buy fish from Norway or Spain. We eat alot from near Europe, and I love fish and chips in Englland, and fried fish in Denmark.

Talking about fish, many people are fishermen and working on related businesses. It's big business in Fukushima. It breaks my heart to see those people without boats and everything. I'll write about them later on. Much work needs to be done, and the 7.1 the other day made further damage and Onagawa plant lost a emergency power.

ZACL said...

Hi Keiko,

Not all cellars are wine cellars. I lived in a house that had a big under house space that I could walk around in, store boxes in, make into a workshop, or do anything else I liked with it. however it was not lined as it was an old house. To stop or reduce Radon seeping through the bare ground, I had to line it with a membrane on top of which was laid concrete. It is known that naturally occurring radiation it higher is some areas than in others, and where I lived, was considered a 'higher radon' area.

The house I live in now was built with a cellar, (an under house space) and to fulfill building regulations, it was lined with a membrane which was covered in concrete.

I queried the suggestion you say was made in your newspapers about nuclear matter currently going to go into UK waters.

We did receive some nuclear outfall from Fukushima, which was transported on the wind, no doubt. I'm still alive to tell the tale!


keiko amano said...


The many tons of water (not highly toxic one that was just stopped a few days ago) that was thrown out to the ocean was low in radiation. That dumping was because of this accident, not scheduled, so technically it isn't the same as France's or Britain's dumping of processed water. But the newspaper reported and compared the level of radiation to give some idea how low it was. Not to put down any country or anyone. I was surprised at how low. I wish they should say it on the television, and in the newspapers, those info. is in part of an article. Probably such detail will escape from most people's eyes. I was surprised to read that sentence. I understand this is very sensitive subject, and that's why Japanese news do not compare much with foreign countries. Some people jump into conclusion. In Japan, because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the media are careful. Many of those people were discriminated just because they were there when it happened. It is ugly part of our history.

About natural radon in England, it is interesting. I wish you can use it for good use like heating or something. On the contrary, Okinawa is only 0.02, half of Yokohama. I wondered if that was the reason why Okinawans live longest. But there is no such evidence. They just have very healthy habit of eating, I think.

Another thing, I read in today about Japan Earthquake. In the article, a journalist interviewed the mayor of Minamiso city or somo city. He said that Tepco never gave any disaster recovery drills ever! Please read it if you have time. Do you remember we talked about it a while ago? Isn't that amazing?

keiko amano said...


Minamisoma city or soma city. My fingers slipped.

ZACL said...

There is a difference between talking about disaster recovery and emergency drills.

Much of what happened to Fukushima is unknown territory and the whole nuclear world will be learning from what the Japanese scientists are doing at the moment. Just now, it looks like they have been successful with a novel technique for stemming the flow from the reactor.

There are emergency drills most of which would deal with leaks and terrorism.

As for disasters, how can you plan for the after-effects of an earthquake together with a one in a hundred years tsunami? There were back-up generators,(earthquakes were planned for) it was the tsunami that overwhelmed the generators.

If you remember, I mentioned that earthquakes were designed into the building plans for the reactors, but who could have foreseen a 1:100 years tsunami event as well.

There is a lot of silly, stupid and political posturing in the particular statements you mention about disaster drills, they are not transparent or very honest, in my opinion. These pronouncements do nothing to support the wonderful work that your people and many other agencies are currently involved in.

Yes, the history of Nagasaki and Hiroshima will make people anxious, understandably so. It must be remembered, that nuclear fall out came from bombs dropped on those cities, it did not arise because of an earthquake or/and a tsunami.

keiko amano said...


Oh, yes, I meant emergency drills. I forgot.

About 1:100 chance of large tsunami, I used to think like you in the beginning of this 3/11 event. But not anymore. I've learned that we have records of tsunami such as 869 AD and 1896 and more, and also stone posts. Our ancestors left their wisdoms and the number such as 38 meters tsunami in the documents. They even built stone posts to remind us, "Do not build your houses below this point." Some experts and local people knew that. Many experts had warned Tepco and the government officials repeatedly. Many engineers and scholars came forward to tell such stories. One of my neighbor told me that the father of her friend was an earthquake expert. He voiced his opinion against nuclear plants, and he was let go of his high position. Later, his two son went to work for nuclear plants related business. More I think about 1:1000 or 1:300 or 1:100 earthquakes, the indications were there. And we've been warned of possible 8.0 in recent years increasingly, and we saw Sumatra 9.1 and their horrible tsunami.

You're lucky you don't have earthquakes or tsunami in your area.

ZACL said...

I am very sorry indeed that you have had yet another earthquake. It must be truly awful for those people living in the area of the quakes. Is your city on a fault line?

Working in the nuclear industry can be safer than working in oil related industries and chemical industries etc. They don't have to comply to the same exacting safety standards as the international nuclear industry, yet there are major dangers because their chemical products are toxic and contaminating. In many ways, as I said, it can be safer to work in the nuclear industry.

Japan has other reactors, also in the North that were built later which are on higher ground, they seem to have, so far, survived all the traumas. Have you any idea, Keiko, who designed and built those?

About three weeks ago, I had a x-ray, I also had one today. While I sat and let the x-ray machine do its work, I thought about radiation. I did not come to any major conclusions, other than to be glad that the technique exists, so that if I, or anyone else had problems that x-rays can reveal, the problems could be treated. I know have received doses of radiation. I can accept that. I do wish people would be enlightened to the benefits of nuclear medicine. The view seems to be, it is better for the public not to know that it is nuclear technology that has provided the examination.

I am much more comfortable thinking about nuclear technology in its various humane forms, than with the possibility of being exposed to the toxicity of burning oil and gas refineries and other chemical industries. I cannot understand why this has not been taken in hand, though, I can understand why the issue has not been publicised.

We do have earthquakes in the UK but not of the magnitude of those you have experienced, and are still sadly, experiencing, in Japan. Our earthquakes make U.K. news but not global news. I am really very sad about everything your people are experiencing.

I'm having some minor problems sending comments to you Keiko. I won't detail it, but I am having to copy what I write in case it does not transmit.

keiko amano said...


Somehow, your comment had gone to Spam, so I clicked not spam. I don't know why.

I've read a good article on Guardian about safety on nuclear power versus other options. The author pointed out that every option has its risk and so on. It made sense, but, I think we need to go back and reevaluate the technology from scratch before expanding more reactors. In Japan, all the reactors were built facing the ocean, and possibility of more earthquakes and tsunami are high.

Actually, other reactors north of Fukushima Daiichi have had some problems after 7.1 aftershock. Tohoku Electric is working on it. I don't know the detail who built it, but I see Hitachi and Toshiba often reading newspapers. I'm unsure, but I read NY Times that GE's good profit comes from plants or reactors in Japan. The article wasn't related to the disaster, but GE's bookkeeping. The article said that they are good at not paying taxes. The company spokesman counter argued on the opinion section.

About Xrays, I agree. We are lucky to have scan when we have problems. I'm all for using such technology in humane form.
All these issues need to be discussed from scratch and publicised all the arguments. We and younger generation need to be educated on all these issues. I didn't know anything about it until March 11.

I didn't know UK has small earthquakes.

About faults and plates, I wrote a new blog. You probably find better explanation somewhere, but I couldn't find any. Maybe, I didn't look enough. If you find a good site for this, please let me know.

ZACL said...

What has happened, has happened. The doom-sayers will take advantage and those who are knowledgeable will be overshadowed by what suits the media to make a story about. and by what people choose to believe. Doom-sayers often play on scientific ignorance.

I totally

lost trust in single issue politics when Green Peace admitted to lying about various films they took and the figures they produced for affect on various issues.

Nothing is 100% safe. Giving birth has many serious dangers, but we do it.

Fluoride, hailed as the tooth decay fighter of the century, may be the cause of other dental problems now coming to light.

keiko amano said...


Indeed, there are so many dangerous things all around us. How we ever survive and keep on living is amazing. Asbesto, x-ray, fluoride and everything. More I read about the event, more and more facts I didn't know come up. I've been so ignorant about many issues in the past. Now I'm finding out what happened to some past accidents which are not even related to the current event.

keiko amano said...

Following up, currently the radiaiton rate of Yokohama has been 0.029 for a month or so. Kamakura is south of Yokohama, but their rate is 0.11. I just found that out a few days ago. 0.11 is low enough for the world standard, but it's higher than the Japan standard. I think this kind of thing will affect the psychology of citizens and the reputation and price of their houses and community.