Sunshine today after all the snow and I wish I could have gone skiing. But too much to do. There's been a lot of snow this past week. Fifty centimeters in Kitakata yesterday, waist high in total. Over three meters deep in Niigata and Nagano and over 50 people dead in snow related accidents, mainly old people clearing the snow off the rooves of their houses.
Had some feedback on my comments in the last blog on the Fukushima Mothers. The leader of the movement is certainly an interesting person, a photo journalist who has covered Minamata pollution and Three Mile Island: Aileen Mioko Smith . Also introduced to http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/ a blog which introduces wordwide media coverage of Fukushima with translations of items in the Japanese press including a series that's been in Asahi Shimbun entitled 'Trap of Prometheus' that caused a lot of interest here. Worth a look.
Radiation levels in Koriyama have dipped slightly to 0.6 mSv/hour but it's only because of the snow. The levels in the air reflect the contamination in the soil and the snow is blocking that.
In November last year the governor proclaimed that all rice in the prefecture was safe only to be embarassed by the later discovery of rice over the limit. The local authorities acted swiftly and even our local MP, one of Ozawa's babes who hasn't been conspicuously active on the part of her consitituency, was seen on televison accompanying the mayor of Nihonmatsu on a visit to Minister Edano. A new 'emergency' survey of last year's harvest was commissioned and the results have just come out. The 'safety standard' which was 500 bq/kg is to be lowered to 100 bq/kg from April. So tests have been made on 23,000 farms all of which tested positive in previous surveys. I'm glad to say that Sakuragaoka, where I used to live, and Hirata-mura where I get my rice from do not feature in the survey. All bags of rice in the Onami area of Fukushima City have been tested and one bag per farm for the rest. 38 farms had rice over 500 bq/kg (highest was 1,540 bq/kg) and the ban on these farms will continue. Over 500 farmers, mainly in the area north of Fukushima City, have rice falling in the 100-500 bq/kg range and the plan is that their rice will be compulsorily purchased with the purchaser claiming compensation from Tepco. Farmers are arguing that they want all the rice in an affected area purchased as if one farm has high levels those in the same area won't be able to sell their rice (fuhyo higai 風評被害）. Why all the rice in the prefecture wasn't purchased in the first place, then released as it was tested, I don't know. Financial constraints, I suppose.
The city has started lending out geiger counters for individuals to measure radiation levels around their houses. Residents' associations (chonaikai 町内会）and PTAs can get grants up to 500,000 yen for clean up work, and Koriyama City's homepage advises individuals to claim compensation from Tepco. The local freebie has a full page ad on the front page for gutter and ditch cleaning work: from 200,000 yen. There's money to be made here ... http://www.the-weekly.jp/images/pdf/2012/new.pdf
The cold seems to be worldwide. Take care.