Monday 31 October 2011


A while back a reader suggested I did an overview of the general situation here but for a long time things were unclear and we seemed to be in limbo. There's still not a lot of action on the part of the government but there have been some major announcements. So here's an update on the situation here in Fukushima.

Let's start at the centre, at the nuclear plant at Fukushima Daiichi. All three reactors and the four spent fuel pools have been cooled to under 100'C and stable cold shutdown will be achieved in December, a few weeks earlier than planned. Reactor No. 1 has a smart new cover although Reactors 3 and 4 won't get theirs until next summer. The next stage is to remove the fuel from the spent fuel pools, work which is expected to start within three years. Work to remove the reactor fuel is planned to start within ten years. Note these dates are for work to start. It will take ten years just to make the preparations. According to yesterday's Nikkei, the situation is much worse than at Three Mile Island - there's a lot of debris, contamination to be cleaned up, robots to be developed. Then it's going to take 30 years to close the plant for good (normally it takes 15 years). By the way, the plant is said to be emitting 100 million becquerels/hour of radiation (that was before the cover went on) which sounds a lot but apparently is one millionth the levels in March. (Incidentally, these figures didn't start to be announced until July. We were kept in the dark for a long time.)

No news for the poor people evacuated from the 20 km No-Go zone. It's unlikely that people from the two villages of Futaba and Okuma where the reactor is situated will ever be able to return home but nothing's been said. Someone told me that people from there just want to know one way or the other so they can get on with their lives.

The evacuation ban in the 20 to 30 km zone was lifted a month ago but only 500 people, a mere 1%, have returned. Hardly surprising since nothing's been done to reassure them that they are safe. The local authorities are now working to decontaminate the area, get schools and hospitals up and running, and attract businesses with a view to getting residents to return by next March. Old people may go back but they're going to have a tough job attracting the young people.

Here in Koriyama outdoor radiation levels stick stubbornly at 0.8 μSv/hr. Life goes on as normal but no one goes into the parks and the kids don't play outside.

The whole country has gone radiation mad. It seems like everyone has a geiger counter and is out finding 'hot spots' and 'micro spots' in Tokyo and beyond, sometimes with odd results such as discovering rubbish dumped decades ago, nothing to do with the accident.

The big issue is the Clean Up and where to put the contaminated soil. The government just yesterday announced that in 3 years time it will have an Interim Storage Facility up and running (in the prefecture) and has asked that local authorities store the waste locally until then. That's supposed to reassure all those people who're objecting to having dumps in their backyard. The Facility is planned to have a 30 year life after which the stuff will be moved elsewhere (we're told). The soil will be packed into concrete boxes underground and will cover an area of 3 to 5 sq kms.

Compensation continues apace. An organisation financed half by the government and half by the electric companies is in charge. The bill is estimated at 1 trillion 119 billion yen (To put that in context, total government expenditure this year is expected to be a record 106 trillion yen.) Families who've been evacuated will get about 4.5 m yen in total, then there's compensation to farmers for ban on sales or price falls, and for businesses who've suffered because of the accident. Tokyo Electric has promised to be more customer friendly in dealing with claims after criticism of its previous high handed manner.

All this is going to cost a helluva lot of money and the 3rd Supplementary Budget is still not passed. This will provide money not just for us in Fukushima but for the tsunami disaster areas and is crucial to the recovery.  Sales tax (VAT) is a mere 5%  and is to be raised to 10% over the next few years but that had already been earmarked for social security so the bill has to be paid through higher taxation. The prime minister gave a speech to the Diet on Friday outlining the plan. He had been saying that this generation should finance the recovery so there was to be a 10 year recovery plan and higher taxes for 10 years but he's had to concede to a 15 year redemption date for bonds to finance the recovery. There was talk of putting the tax up on cigarettes. I was all for that. A packet of 20 is only 440 yen. But that got shelved due to opposition from tobacco farmers (... and the PM himself is a heavy smoker). But he has pledged to cut his own salary by 30%.

We continue to worry about the effect of radiation on health. Last week a government committee opined that a lifetime level of 100 mSv from food alone posed no risk to health and will revise (downwards) the current 'provisional' safe levels for food. But in July the same committee had said that the 100 mSv lifetime figure  included external exposure too. But no one is giving us a figure now for that. Each government department studies its own area. There's a word for it in Japanese, tatewari (縦割り), split vertically. It seems to us that no one's adding up the figures, and giving us the practical information we need. And our constant gripe, no separate levels for pregnant women and children.

This has got very long but I hope it's given you an idea of the huge scale of what is happening here both in terms of the amount of money it's going to cost to fix and the long timescale. Even in Japan neither Fukushima nor the disaster areas are top news any more. Floods in Thailand, snow in New York and Eurozone crises grab the headlines. We battle on nonetheless.
Love to you all

Monday 24 October 2011


Hi folks
My close friends and family will know of Endo-san, an old family friend who has a field of persimmon trees near where I used to live in Sakuragaoka. Persimmon come in two kinds: the ones you can eat straight off the tree and the ones that have a terrible taste (shibui 渋いin Japanese), that make your mouth pucker and you have to spit out. But if they're treated, either by wiping in alcohol (shochu 焼酎) and keeping wrapped up in a box for a couple of weeks, or by drying, they are food for the gods. Endo-san and his wife spend many weeks every autumn peeling the fruit and hanging them up in strings to dry.

But bad news this year for dried persimmons. Samples in Date (pronounced Dattey) north of Fukushima which is famous for its Anpo-gaki, luscious semi-dried fruit, have shown high concentrations of caesium. One sample, for example, showed 40 bq/kg for the raw fruit, but 122 for Anpo-gaki, and 213 for regular dried fruit. Some were higher than the permitted level of 500bq/kg and shipment has been stopped in three areas. Bad news for the boxmakers there too.

Endo-san and his wife peeling persimmons three years ago

I was worried about Endo-san and his wife but didn't want to say anything. I saw him yesterday. He said that one of the varieties he grows (Mishirazu, a seedless variety) has been tested locally and is clear. But his son has been nagging him not to dry the fruit so he says he'll not do it this year. I asked him what he would do with all the fruit and he said he'd leave it on the trees for the birds. What a waste. And it's a good crop too.

One of our salesmen went to Minami Soma today and drove through the 'planned evacuation area' . He said it was like a ghost town. No one around. No cars. Silent. No crops in the fields. There were weeds but only a foot or so high. Eventually he met a woman walking a dog but it turned out that she was just visiting to take care of the dog and doesn't live there. He said the houses didn't look bad as people are visiting to take care of things. He was stopped from going (accidentally) near the no go zone and put in on the right track by a policeman from Osaka.

And finally, here's a new word for those of you who like to keep up with the language. Do you know what a Sumaho is? スマホ It's a contraction of スマートフオン or Smartphone!

Bye for now

Sunday 23 October 2011

Live and Learn

A while back, in the midst of the confusion and anxiety over our exposure to radiation, Fukushima prefecture pledged to check the health of its two million citizens and my questionnaire arrived in the post a few days ago. For every day and night from 11 to 26 March you have to show where you were at what times and whether you were a) inside  b) in transit  c) outside. To help jog your memory there's a 'calendar' of the main events during that period. A catalogue of explosions, suspicious wisps of smoke from the reactors, and the dates when milk, spinach and greens were banned. It makes sobering reading. It's taken me well over an hour to fill in the form even though I have this blog as a record. Next, for the period from 26 March to 11 July you have to give any variations on your general movements (in my case, the five days I spent in England over Golden Week). If you ate home grown fruit and vegetables or drank home produced milk you should give details of what you ate and how much.  There are questions on what water you drank during the month of March (that's worrying), whether you took iodine tablets, whether you were screened and whether you were a radiation worker. The questionnaire is to be returned to the Medical Department of Fukushima University and in due course I'll be sent an estimate of how much radiation I've been exposed to. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation myself a month or so ago so it'll be interesting to see how the results compare.

Is it my imagination or are we getting more relaxed about radiation? Certainly we're more savvy. We've come a long way, even compared to a month ago. We're getting more information. And at last more food is being measured rather than random sampling. The new season's rice is coming on the market. After the scare a couple of weeks ago when brown rice from Nihonmatsu showed 500 bq/kg, polished rice from there is clear. Koriyama JA (Agricultural Coop) tested 1,000 places (the whole prefecture only tested 68 places) and all the rice is clear, no caesium at all.

Last week a morning show on NHK took the meals for one week for 7 families across the country and tested them for radioactive substances. I didn't see it myself but there's a link below to the website.  The results for the  family in Sapporo were 5.7 bq/kg,  Osaka 3.4, Hiroshima 0, Edogawa (Tokyo) 4, the family in Koriyama that ate Fukushima veg 0, the farming family in Sukagawa (just south of Koriyama) who grow their own veg and had never had it tested 3.7 and the big surprise the family in Meguro in Tokyo the highest level of 9 bq/kg. All levels well under the 'safe' amounts of 500 bq/kg so reassuring but there was some debate on our Fukushima Info Facebook site with some people saying the sample was too small to be valid.

We live and learn.  We're certainly learning and we're getting more information these days to make informed choices. We're also learning to live with radiation. After all, the majority of us don't have much choice.
Good night from a wet and chilly Koriyama

Cleaning up one of the parks in Koriyama

This part cleaned.  An addition to the 'Poop Scoop' sign reads '14 October, 1.37 μSv/hr'

The fountains drained and stones washed clean.

My health questionnaire

The page for an hour by hour breakdown of my movements from 11 to 26 March

Sunday 16 October 2011

People Power

Dear Friends,
With the experts unable to agree on what levels of radiation are safe and with the government dithering between levels of 1 mSv, 5 mSv and 20 mSv per year, people are taking things into their own hands. Seems like everyone has a radiation detector (except me). People in Tokyo are getting particularly nervous and measuring everything they can (resulting in the fiasco a few days ago of the 1950s radioactive rubbish!). But people are finding high levels in the usual places, drains and where rainwater collects. There's a new word for these places: microspots.

There's widespread distrust of the government along with a thirst for information so people are getting organised. There's a 'National Parents Network to Protect Children from Radiation' (子供たちを放射能から守る全国ネットワーク), a self help group which at the weekend invited a Russian expert to Tokyo to tell parents what was done in Chernobyl and give practical advice.

Most of the schools and school routes in Koriyama have been cleaned now and elementary schoolchildren can play outside in the school yard for one hour a day but that's as far as it goes. After the recent success of an indoor play facility in Koriyama (3,500 visitors in 3 days), a group of paediatricians here has got sponsorship for a permanent faciltiy which will provide areas for kids to run around and let off steam as well as rooms for counselling worried parents.

No one goes to the park (and we have some lovely parks) and cleaning up ordinary homes and gardens has been conspicously absent from official plans. People are measuring levels in their own gardens and removing the soil. It seems to be effective. But the contaminated soil is just shovelled into plastic sacks and put in a corner. It's illegal to move it. And there's still no place you can take the stuff to though I've heard on the grapevine that Koriyama has a site which it will be opening soon.

Or you can get people in to clean your house. Cost between 100,000 and 200,000 yen (750 - 1,500 GBP). Saw on TV one company that will spray the outside walls of your house with a blue gel that gets peeled off along with the radioactive particles.

Similarly, in the face of massive opposition, Tokyo Electric has done a U-turn on the way compensation is to be handled. It's brought out a simplified explanation (the original was 150 pages long!), said it will visit old people to help them fill out the forms, and has removed the disclaimer that people had been asked to sign. It's also going to reconsider the basis for compensaton to the tourist industry. Originally it had arbitrarily decided that it would compensate for only 80% worth of last years sales. Tokyo Electric (Tepco) has a monopoly and there had been much criticism of it lording it over the people (tono-sama shobai 殿様商売)but they got their comeuppance.

Thank you for all your comments, particularly on Radiation 5. I've made one correction. I quoted a method of measuring the effect of radiation which should have read Linear No Threshold Model. This is a link to a Wikipedia page which makes interesting reading. Even the experts can't agree on what levels are safe. No wonder we're all confused!
Bye for now

Saturday 15 October 2011

A Funny Thing Happened

Dear Friends,
Traces of Plutonium found recently in six places in Fukushima (outside the plant), Strontium discovered on a roof in Yokohama, and yesterday mystery radioactivity in Tokyo! The country's gone mad. Mothers from the 'Protect our Children from Radiation Society' who walk Tokyo streets with dosimeters found high levels in Tsurumaki in Setagaya. (Nice area, quiet, low rise, lots of temples.) The police got to work with power hoses but no change in the levels. Then it became apparent that it wasn't Caesium but  Radium, so nothing to do with Fukushima. The authorities moved in and removed old bottles dumped in the garden,  probably fluorescent paint that had been there since the 1950s!  Quite funny really. Just goes to show how nervous everyone's got. People are over-reacting, especially in Tokyo.  

Tom made a good comment on a recent post, that at Chernobyl the stress was more damaging than the radiation. That could well be the case here too, what with families living apart, or living with the unknown. Still no guidelines as to what are safe levels. Is it 1 mSv/year or is 20 mSv/year alright? We just want some sound guidance.

A start was made today with the publication of educational materials to be used in schools nationwide. Basic knowledge about radiation is to be on the curriculum for children of all ages. The move seems to be welcomed by teachers. Seminars are also being held to train teachers on counselling or 'care of the soul' (kokoro no kea 心のケア). Definitely needed as children face big upheaval: latest figures show 17,000 children have moved school, 11,000 of these moving outside the prefecture.
Here's the link to the text for primary school kids on the Ministry of Education's website. It's 20 pages long and informative (did you know that radiation is used to reinforce rubber tyres?). It  explains the sievert measurements very well and tells kids how to protect themselves in an emergency. The only information about safe levels is that cancer has been found to increase after a single dose of 100 mSv with the rider that cancer has other causes too. On the whole it's a pretty grown up text.

Or maybe we should loosen up and measure radiation in bananas. Not so whacky as it sounds. My brother-in-law sent me this from the BBC which suggests that we measure radiation not in microsieverts or rems but in bananas - which contain Potassium 40 and have been known to trigger sensors for nuclear materials at ports. Living here for two weeks in March, the article claims, is the equivalent of eating 1,000 bananas. It's a refreshing take on this subject which is getting us all down. The comments at the end make interesting reading.

Here at home, work is to start soon on repairing this apartment block. It will take six months. I'll get a new front door and door frame. And all the hideous cracks will be filled. Since the building was rated 'half-destroyed' there will be insurance money but the bulk of the funds will be met from accumulated service charges (the residents' association here is well off). I won't have to pay anything as I rent.  
Weather here pleasantly warm in the daytime but much cooler at night. How much longer can I put off going into winter clothes?

Monday 10 October 2011

Seven Months On

Dear Friends
Seven months since the disaster and at last things seem to be moving.

All 360,000 children and young people in Fukushima prefecture under the age of 18, are to have their thyroids tested (ultrasound, takes five minutes). It'll take a couple of years to get round them all but they're going to be tested every two years until they're 20 and every five years for the rest of their lives. It takes a while to get things moving in this country but once they start they certainly do things thoroughly.

The other progress is in the Clean Up. The government had said that only areas over 5 mSv/yr would be  cleaned but the resulting outcry made them change their mind and now areas over 1 mSv are to be cleaned. The government are to clean up the 20 km no-go zone and Iitate (the 'planned evacuation area') but local authorities are in charge of the rest. An IAEA mission is here at the moment visiting various areas and will give advice.

The best way to clean farmland seems to be scrape off the top 4 cm, grass and all (97% effective). Other methods such as spreading solidifer over then scraping, spraying with water and sucking up the mud, or deep ploughing are less effective. Sadly, sunflowers came out badly in the tests so not worth promoting as a decontaminant.

But the big unresolved issue is where to dump the stuff. If you hose down your house, the waste water is treated and the resultant sludge (odei) is being stored in bags at the waterworks. School playgrounds have been scraped but the soil sits in a heap in a corner. If you're unfortunate enough to have any on your land, it's illegal to move it so you have to leave it there. Every time a location for a 'temporary site' is mooted the locals object. You can imagine the scene. I hear Fukushima City is dumping it at an unknown location.

Today was a holiday 'Physical Education Day'. It was a lovely day so I headed off to Ura Bandai and took the lift at Gran Deko ski resort for some glorious views. The maples not turned yet - need another couple of weeks. The walkers - with bear bells - were out in force for the walks from the top. Come to think of it, bears are back in the news so things must be quietening down. In sleepy Fukushima not much happened before the accident and bears were big news. In early March a bear stepped on the automatic doors and walked into village offices somewhere near Aizu. Now bears have been spotted in central Sapporo in Hokkaido. Yeah, things are getting back to normal.

First stop, Nakanosawa Onsen for some sasa-dango (bamboo cakes). Sticky rice flavoured with yomogi (Artmesia indicus var.) with aduki bean filling cleverly wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Fragrant and delicious.
From Ura Bandai took a twisty road along Lake Onogawa.
To Gran Deko ski resort
The lacquer tree brilliantly red right now. But don't touch. You'll get a nasty rash.

Mount Bandai always seem to be in the mist!

Saturday 8 October 2011

The Clean Up starts

Hi folks
Thanks for all the comments on my last post, Radiation 5. Difficult I know. According to the TV news yesterday, even the experts wouldn't come up with any definite new standards, just said 20 mSv/yr is OK for now but needs to be brought down in stages (as the Clean Up progresses) back to 1 mSv/year.

Last Friday, 30 September, the ban on the Evacuation Readiness Zone (hinan junbi kuiki  避難準備区域)the 20 - 30 km band around Fukushima Daiichi, was lifted. But most residents seem puzzled by the decision and are not rushing back. It's not as if radiation levels had dropped or the area's been cleaned up. Some sceptics say it's to cut compensation costs. Maybe it's because all three reactors are now down to 100 degrees C so in theory we have cold shutdown. Residents in Minami Soma seem to acting with enthusiasm cleaning up the schools but residents from other areas want more monitoring and proper cleaning before they move back, next March at least. The governor has persuaded the government to invest in medical facilities since the social infrastructure is no longer there.

And then there are the cows. Hundreds of wild cows are roaming free in the 20 mile no-go zone, some wandering into the 20-30 km zone, terrorising the locals.

The Clean Up (josen 除染)is the main focus here. Minister Hosono said at first that the government would only pay to clean areas over 5 μSv/hr. The rest we would have to do ourselves. The governor put him straight and he agreed that the government would foot the total bill. But in the first draft of the 3rd Supplementary Budget passed by the Cabinet today only 20 billion yen (at 130 yen/GBP, that's 153 million GBP) has been allocated to the Clean Up which doesn't seem much for such a large area. The TV is full of pictures of workers hosing down roofs and walls of houses. One does wonder where all the water goes.  And then there's the still unresolved problem of where to put the contaminated mud and soil. It's illegal to move it so the soil removed from school playgrounds sits in heaps in a corner of the school yard covered with blue sheet, and sewage facilities have ever increasing areas filled with bags of radioactive sludge.

As for me, I now have two jobs, Chairman of Tohoku Kogyo, the box factory (an honorary position) and CEO of four other small companies. So I spend my day going backwards and forwards between two offices. Tohoku Kogyo is now settled into Rengo's old Koriyama factory with nice offices and a spacious factory. The other companies have been based in one room of the old offices. It's been an odd few weeks running the other companies from one room in an empty building and dealing with the salvage people. Now everything has been removed from the factory. The huge pile of rubbish has gone. All that is left is the shell of the building. Next step demolition. We're moving to a temporary office next Tuesday so the weekend (it's a long weekend, Physical Education Day on Monday!) will be spent packing boxes.
And it's such nice weather .... If I do well with the packing maybe I can take a trip out of town on Monday to see some autumn colour.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Radiation 5

I've been busy recently and not able to stay up late writing this blog but the series I started on Radiation needs finishing. Where was I? I'd worked out that my possible exposure to radiation up until March next year might total 5.725 mSv per year. That's 2.1 mSv from external radiation, 2.13 mSv from medical (this includes 2 mSv from a planned mammogram), 0.285 mSv from air travel and 0.21 mSv internal radiation from breathing in the air. I should add more for food but frankly I have no idea how much I've taken in from food and water. I've been careful but food is not labelled so I just don't know. So, how much is too much? What levels are safe?

There are three kinds of exposure: 1) external, through the skin   2)  internal from breathing in radon gas and, in our case, radioactive particles in the air and, 3) internal radiation from food. Up until now the world operated on a limit of 1 millisievert per year for 1) and 2). There were no separate recommendations for food.

The 1 mSv/yr is an ICRP (International Commission for Radiological Protection) recommendation. (The ICRP is not a regulatory organisation. It advises and makes recommendations.) 1 mSv/yr was the world standard, a generous allowance that would cover infants, the aged and infirm. It was also recommended that radiation be avoided as far as possible. The world operated on this standard which is why people travel the world in safety and why dentists leave the room when they give an X-ray. 

Other pre-Fukushima recommended limits include: 5.2 mSv/yr  for people whose health is being properly monitored (for example, aeroplane and hospital staff); 20 mSv/yr for adult males working in the nuclear industry; 50 mSv/yr when children should be given iodine pills to prevent  thyroid cancer; 100 mSv/yr when there is a noticeable increase (0.05%) in the risk of cancer (there is wide concensus on this based on extensive long term research on Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims). Several hundred mSv will make your hair fall out (radiotherapy) and a single dose of several thousand mSv will kill you.

So what happened after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi? First, people were evacuated from a concentric zone 20 km around the plant where levels could reach over 50 mSv, and people in the 20 to 30 km zone (10 to 50 mSv) were ordered to stay indoors. It was all very confusing. Some experts were saying that levels of  100 mSv/yr were OK and  the government announced that there was 'no immediate risk to health'. Then when it became apparent that the danger was radioactive particles from the hydrogen explosions carried by the wind and dropped by the rain over a wide and disparate area, a new 'emergency' level of 20 mSv/yr was set (in consultation with ICRP). These so-called 'hot spots' continue to be discovered and households with children are given the option to evacuate. So suddenly 20 mSv/yr, the level that previously was safe for adult males wearing protective clothing being properly monitored and working of their own volition in a dangerous industry, was applied to everyone, including pregnant women and infants. One academic resigned from a government committee in tears saying 20 mSv/yr was too high for children. After that the government said that people should try and keep their exposure to 5 mSv/yr. Another idea that was floated was that 100 mSv over a lifetime is safe.

Then there's the question of food. Up to now there were no standards. The government introduced new 'provisonal' limits for different foodstuffs. The limits for caesium are 200 bq/kg for water, milk and dairy products and 500 bq/kg for meat, fish and vegetables. If everything you ate or drank from five categories was up to the limit, you'd take in 5 mSv/yr from food - which is deemed safe. Obviously most of the food you eat is hopefully free of contamination but the standards are controversial. Is it safe for children to take 5 mSv a year from food? That's equivalent to 100 X rays so to the layperson it doesn't seem safe.

Wade Allison in his book Radiation and Safety argues that the ICRP level of 1 mSv/yr is far too low, and furthermore that this low level in itself creates fear. He accuses the ICRP of ignoring scientific evidence that shows that people can take a lot more radiation without showing ill effects. In particular he accuses the ICRP of using a linear method for their calculations. For example, if a 100 mSv dose increases the risk of cancer by 0.05%, then a 1 mSv dose will give one hundredth of this risk - a straight 45 degree rising line on a graph (if scale starts at 0 mSv, zero risk). He says this is not the case. Research on Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims and on rats show that people can take a lot of radiation with no increased risk at all. Only a high dose increases the risk when the line on the graph will suddenly jump up - an S-shape. He calls it the Non Linear Threshold. (Correction: Linear No Threshold. See Wikipedia for good explanation  Linear No Threshold Model) He also says the body is able to repair itself (that's why radiotherapy is given in small doses over time - one day being the repair time before the next dose).

He says that in 1951 a limit set by ICRP was 3 mSv per WEEK. In 1957 this was tightened to 5 mSv per YEAR for the public and 50 mSv for radiation workers. In 1990 these annual limits were reduced to the ones we have now, 1 mSv and 20 mSv respectively.  He also quotes bone cancer data from the luminous dial painters which show a whole-of-life threshold of 10,000 mSv. So he thinks 5,000 mSv per lifetime would be safe.

His conclusion is that climate change will wipe us ALL out so a relaxation in the limits for radiation and more nuclear power is on balance in everyone's interests. That was in 2009. I wonder what he thinks now?

This has got very long, I'm sorry. So what do I think? I think we're probably fine. But we've been on an emotional rollercoaster these last six months not helped by conflicting opinions, delays in revealing information (the SPEEDI map in particular), and the mantra after every disclosure that 'it poses no danger to health'. You could say we've been victims of Allison's 'culture of fear'. We also know that this is a new situation with no data so the experts are not going to be dogmatic. They'll have the results and the answers in 20 years time but that's not much comfort to us now. We are particularly concerned about effects on children and the fact that no separate limits are given for children.

People here are getting used to living with radiation. Levels are down. Today 0.8 μSv/hr in Koriyama (less than Cornwall). And we're learning to cope. The stress is probably worse than the radiation itself.