Mean radiation in southern Saitama on Sunday 20th March, measured hourly between 0000 and 1200 at my institute: 0.11 microSv/hr.
NHK has stated that the fire service, using a form of remotely operated truck, have continuously poured water onto Reactor No.3 for 13 hours throughout the night, in total nearly twice the volume of the spent fuel rod pool. How much of this actually got into the pool is another matter of course, but recent measurements taken from the air indicate the surface of the reactor housing at least is no more than 100°C. However, slightly more disturbing is the news that pressure, most likely steam, inside the reactor is building up and must be released. Usually this is done by passing it first through or over the so-called suppression pool, a reserve of water that chills the steam and dilutes the quantity of radioactive isotopes. This seems to be only possible if power is restored and the pool is functional, otherwise the reactor will be vented directly. The amount of radiation that would be released is not known. Unfortunately the glass is falling as I write this and both rain and northerly winds are forecast for the next 36 hours; this is not a good combination. The powers that be have stated that no further evacuation beyond the current 30km radius is needed and the Kanto region need not be duly worried. However, tomorrow is a national holiday and I imagine I will spend much of it indoors. I have cleaned up much of the mess in my room and my rod making is sadly lagging behind.
Sorry for the lack of update yesterday but I went out to my local izakaya bar and potent native distilled rice spirits do not form a solid basis for cogent or tranquil reflection. Indeed, it was nice to see the place was full and to see the familiar faces safe and well, punishing the food and drinks with great gusto. The tales of panic and abandoned streets in Tokyo you read about are wide of the mark. In fact, in the early evening we were rocked with a hefty aftershock in the bar but were forewarned by the excellent earthquake early warning system, and after dowsing the gas fires and opening the front door, the owners and patrons took it in remarkably high spirits, and conversation was interrupted for only a moment.
In other news, it appears that medicines are finally making their way to the stricken north, and now fixed-wing aircraft are landing at Sendai airport – the one which was almost totally levelled by the tsunami – helping the relief effort greatly. Gasoline and fuel still remain in a state of critical shortage though. Here in east Tokyo the passion for food-hoarding seems to have subsided a little, with my local Lawson 24-hour store stocking both sandwiches and onigiri, and yesterday I found eggs, rice, instant noodles, meat and fresh produce on sale at the supermarket. No milk or bread yet though. On Friday my local Indian restaurant was a beacon of constancy, and had no problems turning out for me saag gosht, chicken tikka and naan bread, so things are not that bad really.