I guess in this part of Ibaraki we were relatively "lucky" in that external damage from the earthquake was mainly limited to road and roof damage (although many facilities experienced considerable interior damage) , and the radiation levels, though they were high for a while, were nowhere near as high as they were in much of Fukushima Prefecture. Even today, the city of Fukushima still has radiation levels that exceed the maximum level that was recorded here, and the people living along hundreds of miles of the eastern coast of Honshu no doubt are still jittery every time there is a major rumbling up there.
And of course I fully empathize with the folks back in the US who have had to deal with droughts, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. This has been an exceptionally bad year for disasters.
but it's really meaningless. The situation today is completely different from the situation in 1980.
They key players today are central banks, as well as nouveau riche in China, India and other countries. European central banks, which were in the gold price manipulation business in the 1980s, have agreed to limit gold sales-- one reason for the rise in the gold price since 2002, when the euro and associated agreements, including limits on gold sales, went into effect.
There was a program on TV here in Japan the other night about Asian buying of gold. Japanese film crews went to various gold shops in China, Vietnam, India, South Korea and elsewhere on the Asian continent to ask gold buyers about their reasons for buying gold. Almost all of them answered that they distrust the stock markets, the dollar, and their respective local currencies. According to the program, Asian buyers have been the driving force behind the rising gold price.
Interestingly enough, relatively speaking there is not so much interest in gold in Japan. For example, the Bank of Japan has not added to its gold reserves for 10 years (although it would certainly have done well if it had been buying gold 10 years ago, at 1000 yen per gram (it's now 4500 yen per gram). And most of the big gold buyers at Japanese coin shows seem to be non-Japanese.
March 14-- Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit #3 (which contains MOX uranium-plutonium fuel purchased from French company Areva) is engulfed in a huge explosion.
March 15-- Huge spike in radiation levels throughout the Kanto region (including Ibaraki and Tokyo prefectures), which leads to the formation of "hot spots" in Ibaraki, Chiba, and Tokyo prefectures, among other locations.
Japan issues evacuation order for 20km radius around Fukushima Dai-ichi, and recommends evacuation for an additional 10km radius beyond that.
US issues evacuation advisory. Defers to Japanese order for 20km radius, but expands recommended evacuation area for US citizens to 50-mile radius (boundary is about halfway between Fukushima Dai-ichi and my home)
France issues evacuation order for a huge radius around Fukushima Dai-ichi, which includes nearly all of the Kanto region.
March 23-- Twenty-five countries close their embassies in Tokyo. Most are small countries, and most are African, but two countries that really stand out are Germany and Switzerland, which, coincidentally, are among the few countries that use MOX nuclear fuels.
April 2-- France announces a new shipment of MOX fuel to Japan, despite opposition inside Japan.
Shipment arrives in mid-April, heads for the Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, which, incidentally, is where the tea came from. The shipment is met by a citizens' group who demand an end to the use of MOX fuels.
Early May-- The Japanese government takes the unprecedented step of asking Chubu Electric to shut down all units at the Hamaoka nuclear facility shortly after the MOX fuel arrives.
(Edited to add links)
here's your chance:
"The day marks three months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the earthquake and tsunami. The plants are still spewing radioactive materials. No one wants such dirty electricity harmful to human and nature.
Join us on June 11th with million-people action throughout the world and let our voice heard."
The city of Iwaki, outside the 30km zone, has launched a campaign to get people to buy its farm products THAT PASS RADIATION TESTS to counter the RUMOR MILLS that are saying that everything grown in the prefecture is unsafe. They had a campaign in the Shimbashi district of Tokyo, complete with geiger counters, to show the general public that their farm products were safe. Yukio Edano, the prime minister's press secretary, was there to sample Fukushima produce such as cucumbers and tomatoes. He said that he would help to spread the word about Fukushima produce that is safe.
Here's the video, in Japanese. There is a Japanese transcription of the video below that:
We've had some rockers recently, aftershocks they call them, but they are earthquakes in the truest sense. Sometimes they're just a rumble and a quiver or two, other times they have knocked stuff off my shelves and shaken the walls so much I think I have blurred vision.
For the first two or three weeks after the initial disaster, there were shortages of some foods, as well as gasoline, but the store shelves are gradually filling up, and there are no longer gas lines (although gasoline is about a dollar a gallon more expensive now than it was before the disaster).
Some roads are still in pretty bad shape, it will take a while to get them all repaired. And some rail lines are still in bad shape as well, but they seem to be making progress in getting them back in operation.
I will admit for the first couple of weeks after the initial disaster or so, I was pretty freaked out. One day there were several large earthquakes in relatively rapid succession in the vicinity of the reactors, and seeing where X marked the spot on small earthquake maps, I got a sickening feeling that they were from nuclear-induced explosions. But further investigation revealed that they had originated from a mountainous area several miles away from the reactors. Since that time, I have calmed down a bit, especially after gathering information from a wide variety of sources about radiation levels, etc. And the US Embassy has recently updated its travel advisory for Japan, removing the caution about "unnecessary" travel to my area. The 50-mile recommended evacuation zone around the reactors is still in effect, though.
Minami Sanriku is the actual site of this video
From the town's web site (updated yesterday), here are the goods the town especially needs:
Fruits & vegetables (only if sent from within Japan), bottled water, rice (short-grain, unpolished if possible),
Spices, etc. (soy sauce, miso, sugar, salt, dashi salt, vinegar, mayonnaise, sauces, dressings, etc.)
Cup ramen/instant noodles
Canned goods (that can be eaten as is)
Food in retort (=silvery plastic) pouches (curry, deli items, etc.)
Instant coffee (powdered)
Throwaway dishes, cups, cutlery, chopsticks, etc.
Plastic foodworkers’ gloves (throwaway type)
Bug spray (for toilets, etc)
Pump-type quick-drying hand disinfectant
Office goods (notebooks, memo pads, ball point pens, cloth tape, packing tape, cellophane tape, etc.)
Trousers (sweat pants, work pants, etc.)
Plastic wrap and aluminum foil
Hospital workers’ gloves (throwaway type)
Men’s and women’s underwear (especially bras)-- New items only, please
Shoes and boots
Minami Sanriku Choyakuba (Town Hall)
Shizugawa Shioire 77
Miyagi-ken 986-0792 Japan
Source: Yahoo Japan
Information in Japanese
Read more: http://emergency.yahoo.co.jp/weather/jp/ea...
Just a few minutes ago, there was a Magnitude 6.3 earthquake off the coast of Chiba Prefecture, Japan. The earthquake, which was a 5- on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in Chiba, caused buildings to sway for more than a minute in Tokyo. Those damn earthquakes just seem to keep coming. At least this one was relatively far from Fukushima and the Daiichi complex.
(Edited to include updated link)
means that it was only about 60km (35 miles) or so from the Daiichi complex
both off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture
WASHINGTON, Tuesday, March 29, 2011 — "The American Red Cross today announced that the public has generously donated $120.5 million to help the people of Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The announcement was made Tuesday at a press conference at the Japanese embassy with Japan’s Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki and American Red Cross Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.
The money will go to the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response, specifically the Japanese Red Cross, which is providing direct emergency relief, medical services and emotional counseling to affected communities. The American Red Cross committed an initial $10 million in the early days after the disaster and will provide the Japanese Red Cross with another $50 million in the next few days. The remainder of the funds will be made available as they come in.
In addition to the funds provided to support work by the Japanese Red Cross, the American Red Cross has given $500,000 to the United Nation’s World Food Programme for logistics support for the delivery and storage of relief items for survivors. The American Red Cross also has been assisting in the voluntary evacuations of military families from Japan."
All I can say is, to everyone who donated, Thank you so much.
I was just watching a program on TV Asahi a few minutes ago that was discussing some of the indirect effects of the on-going nuclear problems. One of the topics was a 64-year-old organic farmer in Sukagawa City, Fukushima (about 50 kilometers from Dai-ichi) who apparently grew despondent after the hydrogen explosion at the reactor site and subsequent restrictions on the sale and harvest of certain Fukushima farm products, including his specialty, cabbage. He had worked for 30 years to build the reputation of his farm and always had orders for his products. Just as he was preparing to harvest and ship his cabbages, the hydrogen explosion occurred at the nuclear complex. According to his son, the farmer cried "That's the end of my farm". On March 24, a day after the restrictions on some Fukushima farm products were put in place, the farmer committed suicide. The son said, "The only explanation for his suicide is the nuclear accident."
Here is an Asahi news item from yesterday (in Japanese) about the farmer's suicide:
I will be the first to admit that the nuclear situation here in Japan is VERY uncomfortable at this moment. I will also admit that it is very easy to get very worried about a situation if you are far away from it and all you hear are sensationalist media reports, or third-person anecdotes, or even outright rumors. I have seen American news reports of the situation here, and they make me skittish, and they are freaking out my family back in the States.
However, I would like to provide my own account of the situation here, as someone who is actually close to the danger zone. If you want to understand my approximate location, locate the city of Tsuchiura, Ibaraki, Japan on Google Map (or some other map reference). Now find the intersection of Route 6 and Route 125. That is our point of reference. Now zoom out until you see the city of Iwaki to the north, on the Pacific coast. 20-25 miles north of that is the Dai-ichi complex. Total distance from the complex to me-- about 100 miles.
So as you can see, I have a very immediate stake in whatever happens at Dai-ichi.
Therefore, I want my information to be as accurate as possible. Scaremongering and inaccurate reports are a particular hot-button issue with me right now.
So I would like to report on the situation here in Japan, with the information and experience I have as someone who is actually living in the area.
First of all, ambient radiation levels in Tokyo are not particularly high. I saw a geiger counter demonstration yesterday in Tokyo at the office of a geological services company. Levels were around 0.16 microsieverts per hour-- lower than many places in the US. Indoors, the geiger counter showed no measurable radiation. Ambient radiation levels in my city are a little higher, and I am keeping abreast of them by following the readings posted on the web site of a local research organization. http://rcwww.kek.jp/norm / Right now we are at 0.20 microsiverts per hour-- not bad. There are several organizations in this area that are providing such information.
Second, the State Department is not forcing Americans to evacuate Tokyo or Japan. The State Department has issued an advisory against travel to the main disaster areas (which is perfectly normal, since unless you can be part of relief efforts or have family up there, you'd probably only be getting in the way). The State Department has also issued an advisory to Americans living within 50 miles of Fukushima Dai-ichi to either evacuate, or stay indoors.
If you are in a pinch and have to leave Japan without the ability to get a regular plane ticket, it is my understanding that the US Embassy can probably set you up with some travel arrangements to leave Japan-- they have done this earlier. But you probably have to travel on their terms.
Third, Tokyo tap water is considered safe to drink now. My geological services company confirms this, local news reports confirm this, and the US Embassy confirms this http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20110325... The brief spike was likely the result of rain brought in from the direction of the Dai-ichi complex. So the readings could possibly go up again if the wind switches around from the north and it rains again.
Today in the Tsuchiura area, it is chilly and partly sunny, with winds from the south (not from the nuclear complex).
The nuclear situation is still very much a concern with me. But right now, my more immediate concern is about aftershocks, which have been quite strong and nerve-wracking at times. But they seem to be decreasing in intensity and frequency. I hope that they continue this trend. I also hope that the nuclear power plant problems can be resolved as soon as possible, and that the survivors of this tragedy can quickly get back to normal lives.
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