Wednesday, March 16, 2011


According to the French government that is what the Fukushima nuclear plant troubles amount to.  They've sent an emergency relief flight to airlift all their citizens out. 

Why is it always the French who are first to retreat?

Certainly there are grounds for concern.  Today the number 3 reactor, which everybody had assumed was under control, started spewing radioactive smoke.  Not only that, but reactor number 4 had another fire, which apparently burned itself out.  The reactors seem to be taking turns daily to scare the bejesus out of the population. 

The government responded by sending in self-defense force helicopters on water-bombing missions, only to...give up a few hours later out of fear of radiation.  So much for that idea.  Then it was announced on the news tonight that attempts will be made to cool down the reactors using "water cannon cars", possibly starting tonight.  Not sure how that will go, they seem to be resorting to desperate measures now.

However it's important to remember that dangerous levels of radioactivity have been recorded nowhere except at the plant.  They haven't even been recorded in the evacuated 20km radius outside.  As for Tokyo, levels of radiation are higher than normal but way under the level deemed a health risk to humans.  Radiation is being constantly monitored by Japanese authorities.  Not only that, but the American ambassador announced tonight that the American authorities will be making independent measurements.

That hasn't stopped the local population here in Yokohama responding with anxiety approaching panic. You have to remember that the Japanese have advanced degrees in paranoia.  Even in normal times it is common to see women walking down the street with gloves up to the elbow, broad-brimmed hats, thick sunglasses and full-face visors over face masks.  This is for protection against sunlight.  How the Japanese psyche may be responding to nuclear radiation can hardly be imagined.  That's why people I know are already fleeing to the countryside, buying 300 rolls of toilet paper and preparing to eat each other.

So far not one person has been reported ill from radiation poisoning.  Meanwhile, the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami has reached 3,700 and is still climbing.

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