Thursday, 17 March 2011

Day Seven

Dear Friends

It's cold. Woke up to snow which didn't settle much but the day remained cold and very windy.
I went to the flat and picked up a few more things. I went for two things in particular:  some gold coins I had stashed away and toilet paper! Just about sums up life here. Right from the start I've always carried a rucksack with the absolute essentials: money, passport, toothbrush, some favourite pieces of jewellery. And I like to know I have a supply of food, water, and yes, toilet paper (currently unavailable in the shops), 
Another busy day at the coalface, 100,000 cases made for the noodle manufacturer. Straight from the line to the waiting trucks (supplied by the buyer), 10 trucks, big ones. One presenter on televison was extolling the virtues of cardboard cases for people in the evacuation centres: you can wrap yourself in them, use them as a mat for extra warmth or prop them up to make partitions to give some privacy, Makes yer feel reet proud!  Our time has come!
Toshiaki (my nephew) came back from Tokyo. He came into Fukushima airport (thronged with people trying to go the other way). We all opposed him coming back but he wouldn't listen. He's determined to get the sale through. So it looks as if it's going to be a working weekend. 
The word went round in the morning that there was kerosene for sale, But there was a long queue and the police got there, rationed the fuel, issued tickets and sent the rest away. Then I spotted another queue of cars in the road outside the office leading  to an Eneos garage. I was told that people had seen an Eneos tank lorry and followed it! Fuel is our main problem, I have three strips on my fuel guage and I'm watching it like a hawk. Saw on the televison that hundreds of tanker lorries are heading this way but I think they're going to the disaster areas and might not stop here.
The factory is closed tomorrow (Friday) and on Tuesday the sales people and a few skeleten staff are to come in to get in touch with customers and sort out the orders for production on Wednesday. We have oil for one and a half days production. We are getting deliveries of paper tomorrow and Tuesday. After oil, the main problem is petrol for the staff.
But the day has been dominated by the attempts to cool the reactors. Helicopter drops, water canons. Heard on the evening news that some water had got in so that is encouraging after a day when nothing seemed to be going right. One tries to be calm - in spite of the French ordering their citizens to leave and the Americans proclaiming a 50 km radius, (My son tells me this refers to the area for contaminated food and water, I have a store of vegetables bought before the quake, Alas the spinach is gone but I still have half a cabbage.) The reading for Koriyama this evening was 2.9 micro Sv/h down from 3.18 yesterday. In Cornwall it's 0.9 and on a flight from Narita to Heathrow every hour you'd get 6 micro Sv/h, One tries to be rational and not panic. We take precautions. Everyone is wearing masks, gloves and hats. Toshiaki has appeared in an amazing red waterproof poncho with big hood. In any other situation he would look ridiculous but it's just the job. I wear my ski clothes outside then put them into a plastic bag when I get inside.  
The aftershocks continue. On TV they said there had been 240 shocks over 5 magnitude since the big one. Still some strong ones but I think less frequent. Was it 2 days ago? I realised I didn't have sealegs anymore. You know when you get off a boat and you still feel as if you're at sea. Well, it was like that for many days at first, the ground seemed to sway all the time even when there wasn't an earthquake. But better now.
We pray that efforts to cool the reactors and contain the radiation are successful.
Thanks for all your good wishes and support. 

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