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Fukushima and the dangers of going to Japan

by MGZ07
Tags: fukushima, japan, radiation
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MGZ07
#1
Mar16-12, 05:07 PM
P: 4
So I admittedly am not hugely knowledgeable about Nuclear energy and radiation which is why I decided to post on here. I am planning on moving to Japan at the end of September as I thought the area I'm going to was not threatened by radiation enough to be a problem based on information I found. Recently however somebody introduced me to two sources that not only say otherwise but one of them is saying that Japan as a whole is doomed and needs to be evacuated completely as the Fukushima reactors are impossible to stop. Sounds a little exaggerated but I cannot say for sure. the sources were fukushimadiary.com and enenews.com, I am unsure of the reliability of these sources and am hoping somebody here can tell me.


My questions are is there any validity to the claim that the entire country needs to be evacuated due to radiation? I plan on going to Yokohama which is about 245 km from Fukushima, what is the risk of going there and should I reconsider? Lastly what do you find to be the most reliable sources on this?
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clancy688
#2
Mar16-12, 05:17 PM
P: 546
Here's an official, interactive radiation map provided by MEXT:

http://ramap.jaea.go.jp/map/map.html

And here's an official realtime radiation map:

http://radiomap.mext.go.jp/ja/


Yokohama is effectively unaffected. There shouldn't be any dangers involved in relocating to Yokohama. While contamination is a serious issue in Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Chiba and Gunma prefectures, its impact on the rest of Japan is largely overrated. But there are spots with considerable contamination in the northwest of Tokyo, as can be seen on this map (or the interactive map if you play with the settings):

http://radioactivity.mext.go.jp/ja/1...910_092714.pdf
Astronuc
#3
Mar16-12, 05:25 PM
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SW of Tokyo will be fine.

I'd like to visit and spend time at Fukushima.

Here's a map that indicates the areas of concern, but may not necessarily be that reliable.
http://www.japanprobe.com/wp-content...fukushima1.jpg

Here's another map, but source quality cannot be verified.
http://eq.wide.ad.jp/files_en/110424map_1800rev2_en.pdf

Here is a more reliable source.
http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News...ews111010.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/argonne/6231181862/

Borek
#4
Mar16-12, 05:35 PM
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Fukushima and the dangers of going to Japan

Quote Quote by MGZ07 View Post
Japan as a whole is doomed and needs to be evacuated completely as the Fukushima reactors are impossible to stop
Complete idiocy.
clancy688
#5
Mar16-12, 05:35 PM
P: 546
To make matters easier for you, here are two images taken from the official radiation map and showing the Tokyo region:

http://i.minus.com/jIxjE0tqw4xyM.JPG Contamination measured in thousand Becquerel per square metre.

http://i.minus.com/jbuPF0sFkl0rfZ.JPG Radiation measured in Microsievert per hour. Everything below 0.1 should be considered normal.
etudiant
#6
Mar16-12, 06:18 PM
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Of the two sites you mention, I'm only familiar with ENE News, which has a habit of apocalyptic forecasts. There is also a loyal claque of doomsters that provide a chorus in the associated comments section. The 'Japan is doomed' comment is silly, there just is not enough radioactivity for anything like that kind of damage. But radioactivity does generate very visceral reactions, so it is perhaps to be expected.
I think it is clear that much of Honshu, the central island, has been polluted with radioactive residue from this accident. The degree of pollution is measurable and is well above historic background, but also well below ambient natural radioactivity in places such as parts of India, China, Brazil and Iran. At Yokahama, your exposure is probably comparable to that at some relatively high level US site such as Denver. Do note that the deposition of contamination is very patchy, driven as it was by winds and turbulence, selectively deposited with rain and snow, concentrated in runoff.
If you stay out of gutters, you should have no problems anywhere.
Astronuc
#7
Mar16-12, 08:04 PM
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I've probably been exposed to more radiation than most of the general population. I'm still around and doing fine.

Folks who fly a lot, particularly pilots and airline crews get exposed to a lot more radiation than the general public who spend most of their lives near sea level or less than 2000ft above sea level. One will have less exposure.

http://www2.ans.org/pubs/magazines/nn/pdfs/2000-1-3.pdf

http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate...alflights.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11780613

It does help to be informed and put risk in perspective.
seeyouaunty
#8
Mar17-12, 01:40 AM
P: 13
Quote Quote by Borek View Post
Complete idiocy.
What happens if Unit 4's fuel pool collapses? How far would the pollution spread with no containment? This is the scenario that i've read a few times in regards to Japan suffering widespread contamination. That along with the potential chain-reaction of nearby Nuclear plants being abandoned. Is this a completely unlikely scenario?
Borek
#9
Mar17-12, 04:48 AM
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There is still some non zero risk of further problems, as there are still unknowns. But building a large scale doomsday scenarios around them is a pure fear mongering.
MGZ07
#10
Mar17-12, 05:21 AM
P: 4
Thank you everyone for the information, it was extremely useful and helped me to understand the problem better than I did and I appreciate it. This move is a big deal to me and so I'm glad to hear that there isn't any need for me to cancel it. One other thing that I have heard a lot of but not sure how much of an issue it is is the release of Plutonium and the release of MOX. Has there been a significant release of Plutonium? From what I remember people were talking about the explosions early on in the crisis shooting MOX fuel into the atmosphere which would cause wide spread radiation, or something to that effect. Is this true or is it just speculation at this point and how significant is that to the rest of Japan?
Rive
#11
Mar17-12, 06:25 AM
P: 355
Quote Quote by MGZ07 View Post
One other thing that I have heard a lot of but not sure how much of an issue it is is the release of Plutonium and the release of MOX. Has there been a significant release of Plutonium?
There was some release of Plutonium, but it was not 'significant'. It's barely detectable.
jim hardy
#12
Mar17-12, 09:08 AM
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We "Baby Boomers" all lived through the years of atmospheric testing by Western powers . And more recent Chinese atmospheric tests. The latter showed up well on our monitors in the nuke plant.

If it worries you, take a few rolls of photographic film and have one developed every week until you get feeling comfortable.

After TMI they got the film from local drugstore shelves and developed it to assess whather there'd been exposure to the town. The film was not fogged and it had sensitivity of about 5 mr, which is a very low amount.

That's something easily within your power to do and it might make you feel less apprehensive .

Hmmm no Kodachrome anymore - i guess you'll have to use Fuji.
Antiphon
#13
Mar17-12, 10:14 AM
P: 1,781
Film is going the way of the dodo. Assuming it becomes largely unavailable in the near future what's the next best way of doing this?
seeyouaunty
#14
Mar17-12, 11:22 AM
P: 13
Quote Quote by Borek View Post
There is still some non zero risk of further problems, as there are still unknowns. But building a large scale doomsday scenarios around them is a pure fear mongering.
I'm curious for someone to answer the question as to what happens if Unit 4's fuel pool fails before they remove the fuel rods, how bad will the contamination be? Could it wipe out Tokyo?

I think it's a reasonable question to ask if someone is thinking of moving to Japan. Its not like any of us would be surprised if another big quake hit and took out the fuel pool, it's in fairly bad shape.
NUCENG
#15
Mar17-12, 11:44 AM
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P: 916
Quote Quote by MGZ07 View Post
So I admittedly am not hugely knowledgeable about Nuclear energy and radiation which is why I decided to post on here. I am planning on moving to Japan at the end of September as I thought the area I'm going to was not threatened by radiation enough to be a problem based on information I found. Recently however somebody introduced me to two sources that not only say otherwise but one of them is saying that Japan as a whole is doomed and needs to be evacuated completely as the Fukushima reactors are impossible to stop. Sounds a little exaggerated but I cannot say for sure. the sources were fukushimadiary.com and enenews.com, I am unsure of the reliability of these sources and am hoping somebody here can tell me.


My questions are is there any validity to the claim that the entire country needs to be evacuated due to radiation? I plan on going to Yokohama which is about 245 km from Fukushima, what is the risk of going there and should I reconsider? Lastly what do you find to be the most reliable sources on this?
Did the risk of future earthquakes in Japan disappear? I assume you won't want to fly to Japan as that would expose you to radiation enroute. There is also a non-zero risk the plane would crash. Then there is the risk of driving to the airport or taking a taxi in Japan - a truly life threatening experience. Perhaps it is best to hug a radon detector and hide in the basement.But even there would still be at risk from nuclear weapons and asteroids.

My point is not to belittle your fear of radiation, it is to try to remind you that you can't get away from risk unless you are already dead.
Astronuc
#16
Mar17-12, 12:31 PM
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Quote Quote by seeyouaunty View Post
I'm curious for someone to answer the question as to what happens if Unit 4's fuel pool fails before they remove the fuel rods, how bad will the contamination be? Could it wipe out Tokyo?
I'm sure TEPCO is working diligently to prevent further degradation of the pool and fuel. The pool seems to be intact, and the plan is to cover it with special shielding in order to allow personnel to examine and move the fuel while minimizing exposure.

If the pool failed, there could be additional contamination locally. With time, the fission gas decay, so rod internal pressure should decrease, along with a reduction in decay heat.

I think it's a reasonable question to ask if someone is thinking of moving to Japan. Its not like any of us would be surprised if another big quake hit and took out the fuel pool, it's in fairly bad shape.
The incidence of large quakes is few and far between, but such large quakes are, of course, unpredictable. More likely, they will experience Mag 5-7 quakes in that area, which have already occurred, and the pool is still intact.
MGZ07
#17
Mar17-12, 01:51 PM
P: 4
Quote Quote by NUCENG View Post
Did the risk of future earthquakes in Japan disappear? I assume you won't want to fly to Japan as that would expose you to radiation enroute. There is also a non-zero risk the plane would crash. Then there is the risk of driving to the airport or taking a taxi in Japan - a truly life threatening experience. Perhaps it is best to hug a radon detector and hide in the basement.But even there would still be at risk from nuclear weapons and asteroids.

My point is not to belittle your fear of radiation, it is to try to remind you that you can't get away from risk unless you are already dead.

I see your point, and I wouldn't say I have a fear of radiation so much as I want to ensure I'm informed about the realities of the situation and how these things truly work so I don't find myself giving any sort of credibility again to the claims that brought me to make this thread and ask these questions in the first place.
Gary7
#18
Mar17-12, 08:14 PM
P: 75
With all due respect, I would advise you to read a more wide variety of sources of information. Fukushimadiary was a blog started by a young man in Japan (Yokohama, I believe) who was convinced that Japan is irredeemably contaminated, and was convinced that his own health problems were a result of Fukushima. His blog started to get some attention from outside of Japan, from people who were prone to believe conspiracy theories, and so there formed a symbiotic relationship of the supremely paranoid. That blog embraced every wild rumor and prediction that he became aware of, and in turn he began to attract more and more hysterical submissions and posters. Enenews was a site that similarly embraced wild speculation and lurid headlines. Actually enenews is just a news aggregator, and the news it chooses to focus on is news with eye-catching, apocalyptic headlines.

The problem is, these sites early on were leading people to believe Fukushima was magnitudes worse than Chernobyl, and when that scenario failed to materialize, they needed to come up with deeper conspiracy theories and stories of cover-ups to justify their extreme positions.

The story of unit 4 is a great example. The foreign press gave voice to some who suggested the spent fuel pool of number 4 was obliterated, and bits of spent fuel were dispersed around the surrounding countryside. This story persisted for several months, despite Tepco showing video footage of intact fuel bundles in #4. Then, a rumor started to spread that the entire building of # 4 was leaning, and was in danger of collapse, and this rumor was of course embraced by the conspiracy theorists. And yet, #4 still stands.

I'm not saying that these sites didn't have any value. However, if they are your exclusive source of information you will be as misinformed as you would be should you choose to listen to Tepco exclusively.


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