Monday 4 April 2011

Toxic waste

Dear All
Back in my apartment and back to the old routine of a 25 minute walk to and from work. In the early morning and under cover of darkness Toshiaki and I don the 'uniform' (hood, mask and gloves) although it's impossible to keep that up during the day. One stays inside, going out quickly in the car when needed. Don't want to worry the staff. Toshiaki has bought a black North Face windbreaker to replace the red poncho.

Schools are due to go back next Monday (11th) but the prefecture is carrying out radiaton tests at 1,400 locations and it will decide whether to go ahead with the school opening ceremonies on the basis of the results. There's also a big soil contamination survey taking place. I think the prefecture has organised this but I'm not sure. Soil tests are being taken at 10 km intervals on a grid pattern over the whole prefecture. The results will be announced on Wednesday (6th). Our sales manager visited the agricultural cooperative in Aizu today. Aizu is a famous historical castle town, very conservative, known as the last stand of the shogunate in the 1860s. It's 42 km west of Koriyama, so nearly 100 kms from the reactor, and separated from Koriyama by a huge lake and high mountains. No traces of radiation so far. They are understandably very angry at being tarred with the same brush as the rest of the prefecture and they talk of  re-registering their produce as 'Aizu' and ditching the Fukushima name. But they are going to wait for the results of the survey on Wednesday.

At the company sales are down. One small agricultural cooperative halved its usual order of 20,000 cases for delivery on 28 April and has warned it may change again. The famous kamaboko (fish sausage) maker we pack for (Yuzuki) on the coast can't resume production until the water gets connected mid-April, the big Sony battery factory in town re-started at the end of last week but won't be back to normal until the end of the month. On the other hand, we have some orders from dealers who can't get their usual supplies from box makers in the Sendai area. We're trying to make forecasts but there's still so much uncertainty.

The news tonight from the reactor is shocking. Since they have run out of places to put the contaminated water they've been hosing in, they're to dump 10,000 tons of 'low radiation' water in the sea tonight from Unit 2 and 1,500 tons from Units 5 and 6. Although this water has levels 100 times normal we are assured that even if we ate fish for a year from these waters we would not be at risk. Who are they kidding! Who is going to be able to fish in these waters? At least the guy who announced this, from Tokyo Electric, was really cut up when he made the announcement, not like the smarmy spokesman from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency who's usually on the news. But coming now, just as people are beginning to think about rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, this is a heavy blow indeed.

Here's a link sent to Takeshi with a really good presentation on what happened at the Fukushima Nuclear Reactors. It's in powerpoint but if you scroll down the comments there's a link to a google.doc you can access if you don't have powerpoint:

So, goodnight from Fukushima. There's a frost warning tonight.


  1. To Big Anne from Little Anne!

    I just thought I would drop you a note to let you know we are all thinking of you. I have your blog directed to my email now, so I can print off for Mum to read (Instructions!). Thank you so much for taking the time to write the blog – it is valuable to see the everyday reality of the aftermath now the BBC is focussed on Libya and only seems to mention Japan in relations to the radiation leaks. I think you are incredibly strong and brave – continue to be so.

    (Not so) Little Anne xx

  2. Hi mum,
    Keep the blogging up! It's the only source of news on Japan I have come to rely on. Much better than the BBC!

    I read everyday, and many of my friends do too.