Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Archive for March, 2011

Today’s mostly bad news from Japan

I know the rest of the world is probably moving on to other things, but this is a feeling for what the daily news is like here today.

Level of iodine-131 in seawater off chart
The level of radioactive iodine detected in seawater near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is 1,250 times above the maximum level allowable, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says, suggesting contamination from the ruined reactors is spreading.
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Iwate evacuees apply for housing
Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture, one of the hardest hit cities on the Pacific coast by the March 11 catastrophe, becomes the first municipality in the quake zone to take applications for temporary housing.
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Signs of disaster were there to see
Warnings by seismology experts about the risks of operating nuclear power plants in earthquake-prone Japan have gone largely unheeded by power companies and successive governments.
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Nuclear workers can quit; few do

Plan for exposure victims readied

Global migration body helps quake-stranded foreigners exit Japan

One items of good news!
Tokyo water iodine levels normal

Gas stations on way to quake zone

Radioactive water stymies crews

Ocean’s eddies, dilution absorb nuke risk

News updates from Japan

The headlines from the Japan Times pretty much sums things up at the moment:

Injuries point to fuel rod damage in No. 3
The fuel rods in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 3 reactor, including MOX, may be damaged, based on the highly radioactive water that injured two workers and exposed a third, the nuclear safety agency says.
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‘Voluntary’ evacuation set for 20 to 30 km
Residents living between 20 and 30 km from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant are being urged to “voluntarily evacuate” amid difficulties in obtaining daily necessities and the possibility of further radiation leaks, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says.
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Death toll tops 10,000 but nuke crisis hampers search
The official death toll from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami tops 10,000, while around 240,000 people are continuing to seek shelter in some 1,900 evacuation centers.
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AP: Plant reactor core may be breached

AP TOKYO – Japanese nuclear safety officials say they suspect that the reactor core at one unit of the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant may have breached. That raises the possibility of more severe radioactive contamination to the environment.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency, said Friday that “something at the reactor may have been damaged” in Unit 3 of the six-unit plant.

He said “our data suggest the reactor retains certain containment functions,” an implication that the damage may have occurred in the reactor’s core, but that it was limited.

Officials say the damage could instead have happened in other equipment, including piping or the spent fuel pool.

The plant was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information

Bottled water shortage continues in Tokyo

The bottled water shortage continues in Tokyo.

I swung by the supermarket to see if there was any water.

They had a few 500 ml bottles of Crystal Geyser sparkling lemon, but only let me buy one.

Still, I have enough water supplies for a while.


There’s definitely a bottled water shortage in Tokyo now

Bottled water is definitely in short supply in Tokyo.

Yesterday I couldn’t get any. This morning I went out earlier and after an hour of checking 7 stores in a big loop around my neighborhood I did happen to luck out arriving at one store at the exact time a shipment of exactly one case of water was being delivered, and I was able to get the store limit of one 1.5L bottle of water.

Green tea is going quickly too.


Three days of increasing earthquakes

It’s probably within statistical error, but the number of earthquakes each day this week has actually gone up:

Monday: 27 quakes
Tuesday: 33 quakes
Wednesday: 35 quakes

It’s half past midnight on Thursday morning now and no quakes so far, so I’m going to sleep!


Full blown water buying panic in Tokyo

I’m afraid I’m seeing a full blown buying panic here in Tokyo. After the Tokyo government said the radiation level in Tokyo water exceeded safe limits for infants, water just evaporated from the shelves.

I went out before looking for some just in case this goes on and tried Life Supermarket, the small store near my house, Attack (a middle size supermarket), Maruetsu (supermarket), 7/11, Universal Drug and AM/PM – plus all the vending machines along the way and water is completely sold out.

With my delivery of Crystal Geyser (sparkling water) the other day and 8 x 2L bottles of regular mineral water I’m ok for a while. But this better resolve itself quickly. I was not able to find any mineral water for sale at the big online Rakuten shop either. It’s all sold out.

There is some green tea still to be found, so I might get some of that just in case I run out of water.

AP: Tokyo tap water not safe for infants

This new development is quickly making the rounds here:

TOKYO – Tap water in Tokyo tested two times above the limit for radioactive iodine considered safe for infants, officials said Wednesday amid burgeoning concerns about the safety of food and drink as a nuclear plant in the northeast continued to leak radiation.
Levels of radioactive iodine in tap water at a water treatment center in downtown Tokyo measured 210 becquerels per liter of iodine-131 — more than twice the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter for infants, officials from the Tokyo Water Bureau said at a news conference.
Infants are extremely vulnerable to radioactive iodine, which can cause thyroid cancer, experts say. The level found in Tokyo tap water does not pose an immediate health risk to adults, officials said.
“We advise against using the tap water for drinking and for making infant formula for babies under 1 year old,” said Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo’s governor.
The unsettling new development affecting Japan’s largest city, home to some 13 million in the city center and 39 million residents in the great Tokyo area, comes as nuclear officials struggle to stabilize the damaged power plant in Fukushima to the northeast.

Produce in area of plant has radiation “drastically exceeding legal limits”

While things are ok in Tokyo today, there is a growing problem with produce from the regions around the Fukushima nuclear power plant. This is from CNN today”

Tokyo (CNN) — Japan’s Health Ministry reported Tuesday finding radioactive materials at levels “drastically exceeding legal limits” in 11 types of vegetable grown in Fukushima Prefecture, including broccoli and cabbage, according to Kyodo News Agency.
None of the vegetables has been shipped since Monday, it said.
The news agency, citing the ministry, said, “If a person eats 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of the vegetable with the largest detected amount of radioactive materials for about 10 days, it would be equal to ingesting half the amount of radiation a person typically receives from the natural environment in a year.
“If a person keeps eating the vegetable at the same pace, the amount of radiation intake could exceed the amount deemed safe.”

4 earthquakes felt in the last 40 minutes

I thought I might sleep a bit later today because I was up way past 3:00 am. But we seem to have non-stop earthquakes this morning – the last was a 5 on the Japanese scale of 7 in Ibaraki. Magnitudes ranged from about 4.9 – 6.0.

So far there have been more than 710 earthquakes since 3/11 and at least 20 so far today, and it’s just 8:00 am. Yesterday there were a total of 31 for the whole day.

No tsunami warnings though.


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