Mean radiation in southern Saitama on Tuesday 22th March, measured hourly between 0900 and 1700 at my institute: 0.25 microSv/hr. The radiation has doubled since Sunday, increasing from Monday as would be expected with both the wind veering into the north (with touches of east) and the rain we have been experiencing. For some perspective: you dose yourself with 30 – 40 microSv in cosmic radiation making one flight to the west US from Japan, even more to the eastern seaboard or to western Europe, which is about the same dose to which you would have been theoretically exposed to living in Tokyo since March 11th (the real exposure being much lower, as you are not outdoors 24 hours a day) and still less than 0.03% of the dose current medical wisdom considers to cause the onset of radiation sickness (250mSv).
Radioactivity has been detected in milk, vegetables and ground water in both Fukushima and its neighbouring prefectures, though again, whilst it sounds scary and makes quite excellent copy, cool-headed calculation and science must be used to calm the OMG-we-are-all-going-to-die brigade, not helped of course by the vulturine media (for some quite laudable exceptions, read these BBC articles). For one thing, the most deleterious radioisotope detected, 131I, has a half-life of eight days. Despite the worrying bursts of mysterious smoke or steam from two reactors, it appears progress is being made at the Fukushima site, with reactor temperatures decreasing and electricity soon to be reconnected to all six reactors. Also the IAEA has made a very positive statement about how they see things developing. As always, crowing or premature counting of chickens invites only disaster, but still the rumours of conspiracy and government cover-up persist. The presence of numerous third parties measuring radiation – not just a mission from the US, but even amateurs using devices bought from Amazon – makes this very unlikely, although I think I mentioned earlier: if things really do go badly, it will be the Devil to pay and no pitch hot for absolutely everyone in the Kanto region, including the suits in Kasumigaseki, the TEPCO board and all the other supposed conspirators, and what they are doing is as much for their own necks/backsides as it is for enlightened public-spirited leadership.
On an unrelated note, the current situation rather precludes me fishing, but does not stop me thinking about fishing, nor readying my fishing gear. I put the first ground layer of lacquer on my tanago rod:
I also bought a silk fly line, for fishing for native char (iwana) and the salmonid known here as yamame. This needs some treatment before it can be used, but with most rivers in west Tokyo closed to fishing due to power cuts, there is no rush.
Whilst writing this post we have been rocked with another aftershock, the epicentre being offshore Fukushima this time. There have been a couple today that were stronger than usual, but otherwise, smaller ones are continuous, almost every few hours, and the human body’s power of habituation is remarkable; they don’t even wake me up at night any more. Whether the next quake will be the long-promised Tokyo ‘Big One’ as certain seismologists have predicted to be induced by the recent Tohoku magnitude 9.0 beast, bears not thinking about – you would not be able to function every day.