Wednesday 29 February 2012

Monitoring Mad

Hi folks,
Monitoring posts have sprung up everywhere in schools and parks (see photos below). You can tell at a glance what the radiation is in the air at that point and you can check the measurements in 'real time' here on the Ministry of Education's website. Over 7,000 posts have been set up in the prefecture.

Then the Environment Ministry has issued maps showing results of a survey late last year in which radiation levels in the air were measured every 100 metres over the whole prefecture. They were carried out to aid the clean up but seem to have thrown up more problems. For instance, the highest level was at a point 4 km west of Fukushima Daiichi (84.9 μSv/hr - definitely bad for health), but 4 km north of the reactor, in the very same village of Futaba, levels were only 1.1 μSv/hr - what they were in Koriyama until recently. Just shows the complexity of the task ahead and the dilemma for those residents who're wondering whether to return.

Then we have food for all school lunches in Koriyama now being checked for radiation three days before it's prepared. More machines for testing food (thanks to the Red Cross). You can now go along and test your own fruit and veg and well water. Mobile 'whole body counters' touring the schools (all those under 18 to  be checked by late next year). Not to mention the glass badges children wear and have to hand in every 2 months to have 'accumulated radiation' measured.

 I suppose it's to reassure us and show that something's being done. And it is reasssuring to see the levels going down. But still no clear answers on the big question: risks to health of long term radiation.

Report just out on how the government responded to the crisis in those first five days. No information, no coordination, a mess. A few weeks ago there was a scandal when it became known that no one had had the sense to put a tape recorder on the table - there are no minutes of that time. Scandalous. Then the US capped this by publishing their minutes, over 3,000 pages, as well as tape recordings. To demonstrate that nuclear is safe in American (or European) hands?

Sorry, I'm being cynical. I'll leave you with the photos.
Still cold here and snow forecast for tomorrow.
Good night

Takase Primary School about five miles out of town where my kids went to school. Can you see the monitor outside the classroom window?  (0.166 μSv/hr)

Haga Primary School, a bit further in (0.291 μSv/hr).

The park near my apartment (0.438 μSv/hr).

And why do levels remain so high in Sakabuta Park (1.319 μSv/hr)? A lovely park in a posh part of town.


  1. Last night, 'Children of the Tsunami' on BBC2 was an excellent documentary, incisive and eloquent words from kids with realisation and frustrations about their future. Well done to all involved in its making. On iPlayer but maybe not in Japan!

  2. Thanks, Jeremy.
    Unfortunately, the programme doesn't seem to be available outside the UK. Pity.
    All the best

  3. The BBC programme 'Children of the Tsunami' is now on Youtube. Paste this link or search on Youtube.