Monday, March 28, 2011 it safe or not?

Well, the storm of excrement that is the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues.

Today massive amounts of radiation were reported in water around reactor number 2.  This seems to be coming from both the pool containing spent fuel rods and the reactor itself.  Although the risk of meltdown seems to have been averted, as all reactors are now being flushed with fresh or sea water, this new radioactivity is dominating the news.  Nobody seems quite sure where it is coming from or how to deal with it.  Personally, I'm not that surprised that a damaged nuclear reactor is leaking radioactive water: I mean, what else would it do?  But it's becoming a regular shitstorm for the media, especially as yesterday there were conflicting and terrifying radiation reports (one report indicated radiation levels were 10,000,000 times normal) about the water.  Eventually Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) admitted it had screwed up about yesterday's reading, but serious damage was done to its reputation and this has only fed the media feeding frenzy.

Even the pro-nuclear sources on the web are indignant with Tepco, for screwing up radiation levels, exposing their workers to radiation, and not releasing information.  The information vacuum is especially damaging, as it is likely to be filled by the dire imaginings of the press.

Slowly it seems people seem to be trickling back into the Tokyo area.  It's a difficult thing to decide it is safe to return.  On the one hand, it is likely to be some time before the situation in Fukushima is totally resolved.  On the other hand, an objective review of the situation suggests there was little need to leave in the first place.  In that sense, it is not safer or more dangerous in Tokyo than it was ... two weeks ago.

The death toll for the tsunami itself is still rising.  There are 11,000 confirmed dead, and over 15,000 still missing.  26,000 people is a huge blow, a massive disaster.  It's difficult to see how this will impact on Japan in the long term, but impact it certainly will.

The three workers who received high doses of radiation have been released from hospital, according to tonight's news.  As yet, they have shown no symptoms of radiation poisoning, but may experience burns on their legs 'similar to sunburn'.

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