Tuesday, 22 March 2011


“Interesting” times up here in Tokyo. Power cables have now been connected to all six reactors and Libya is been pushed up to lead-story status on BBC-World. even so though, the radiation levels are still a concern. I have friends who have left and friends who have stayed, but it seems pointless to divide them into two camps like this article tries to do, even if most of his article and particulalry his last paragraph is spot on. Depsite recent rants on the hype put out by the overseas-press, the local press can appear to go the other way and give the devil an easy ride. There’s always going to be a few hear-no-evil types who would stay and go down with the ship, but I hope staying doesn’t become a matter of pride.

For some people, I fully understand that leaving is a no-brainer. Having kids for one thing would certainly change your outlook and everyone has to do what they feel is best for their own and their family’s circumstances. Who was right or wrong to leave or stay is a pointless discussion.

I’ve now got a few websites bookmarked that give information on radiation levels close to where I live, as well as info on the water supply. I never ate much spinach anyway.

If I did want to get out, I’d be heading down to Sydney where we’re lucky enough to have a place to stay. I might lose some of you here but I’ve learned more about microSieverts per hour lately than I ever really wanted to. Anyway, a 10-hour flight to Sydney from here would rack up about 60 microSieverts at what seems to be a universally accepted 6 microSieverts/hour. No-one told me about this amount of exposure to radiation while flying till now though, I wonder if the flight attendants are clearly told about it? I’ve never met one who seemed too concerned.

According to this pdf in Japanese from the NIRS (National Institute of Radiological Sciences) at the bottom of the page  , the average annual exposure worldwide per year is 2,400 microSieverts/year. In Brazil and India, it gets up to 10,000/yr.

Currently the nearest measuring point to me for environmental radiation is in Kawasaki. For water monitoring it’s in Shinjuku but both are close enough.

In Kanagawa the current real-time monitoring reading (bottom #5 above) at 21:30 on March 22 is 0.149uSv/hr and has been rising from 0.1244 earlier today but still below average. I expect it’ll keep rising for a while. At this level I’d get the same radiation fix after 16 days here as I would on the flight to Sydney.

The Iodine I-131 in the Shinjuku water supply is currently reading 5.3 becquerels/kg when the limit is 300. This is the stuff with the half-life of 8 days. The Cesium-137 is nastier as it has a half-life of 30 years but it’s at 0.22 becquerels/kg today when the limit is 200.

Also got the above cross-reference for radiation readings and water readings in Shinjuku from MEXT here (The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

 With all these sites bookmarked, after getting up and checking that Libya is still the lead story on BBC, it looks like checking these sites will be the new routine for a while.

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