Tag Archives: nuclear reactors

Japan update 3/1/12

Today Hirono’s central government moved back to Hirono. I found out in early January from a friend of mine who works for Hirono city hall that they were planning to move back to Hirono in March, and it looks like they have done it:


Opinions seem to vary about the viability of folks moving back to Hirono. Some are hopeful and look forward to returning, while others are more pessimistic and believe that returning is not an option.

The article mentioned above states “A public Geiger counter near the town hall read 0.42 microsieverts per hour Thursday morning, a level several times higher than seen in Tokyo.”

And since I can’t keep track of microsieverts / millisieverts and what those numbers mean for radiation exposure, I thought I would try to figure it out and put it down here:

sievert = international unit of measure for an absorbed dose of radiation; measures the effect a dose of radiation will have on the cells of the body. 1 sievert (or “Sv”) = 100 rem (the measuring unit used in the U.S.). Receiving 1 Sv all at once will make you sick; receiving 6 Sv or more all at once is most likely fatal.

millisievert = 1/1000 of a Sievert (or 0.001 Sv). For example, a mammogram is 2 mSv, head CT scan 2 mSv, chest CT scan 8 mSv.

microsievert = 1/1,000,000 of a Sievert (or 0.000001 Sv). For example, an arm x-ray is 1 microsievert, a dental x-ray is 5 microsieverts, eating a banana is 0.1  microsieverts (weird, huh?), sleeping next to someone is 0.05 microsieverts.

For a point of reference, the background radiation dose we receive on a normal day is around 10 microsieverts (or 0.01 milliseiverts) The EPA yearly limit for radiation exposure to an average person (i.e. someone who doesn’t work with nuclear reactors) is 1 millisievert a year (or 1000 microsieverts).

For a chart that really provides perspective, check out http://xkcd.com/radiation/.

So if Hirono is currently reporting 0.42 microsieverts/hour, then the annual dosage would be 3.7 millisieverts. That’s equivalent to about a  head CT scan and a mammagram. Not that I would want to have both of those in a year, but that’s not too bad.

Maybe that trip to visit them in the fall will indeed happen.

Life at a Japanese evacuation center

Japan evacuees

Life in an evacuation center (you can forget privacy)

I just found these reports from a nuclear consultant who lives (well, lived) in Tomioka, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. He and his family were evacuated, and he has reported his experiences in a 3-part series in English.

[Tomioka is about 10 miles north of Hirono, the town I lived in. - Andi]

Tohiro Kitamura reports frustration with the government and the lack of consideration for the evacuees, ranging from insufficient bathrooms (1 toilet for 500 people, in one case) and rations of expired food, to discrimination with ‘optional lodgings’ (if you have the money, then you can stay at a hotel or inn with some government compensation) and unclear directions (‘voluntary evacuation’ and radiation testing with nothing to show for it).

Take a look for yourself:

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 1 (PDF)

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 2 (PDF)

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 3 (PDF)

In his reports, Kitamura mentions people crossing the “No Entry” zones to get to their home, however to do so requires a car and fuel. One man traveled alone in the evacuation zone to take photos of homes for evacuees who couldn’t make the trek themselves:


[Visiting Yonomori Park for the cherry blossoms is one of my fondest memories of living in Japan. The park is filled with cherry trees, and the city would put in lights to shine up through the branches of the cherry trees for the evenings when people would sit under the trees and have picnics with the blossoms falling like snow. -Andi]

Reports provided by JAIF. News by Mainichi Daily News.

Japan update 5/2/2011

Work continues on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They are in the process of installing air filters in the No. 1 reactor building, which should reduce the amount of radioactive materials by 95% when operated for 24 hours. Eight workers are set to enter the No.1 reactor building as early as Thursday. They will be the first to do so since a hydrogen explosion occurred one day after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Assuming that the air filters work, TEPCO will then install air filters in the No.2 and No. 3 reactor buildings.

And in other news: A group of Tohoku Electric Power Company (not the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs Fukushima Daiichi) shareholders will submit a motion calling for the closure of the company’s nuclear plants. 220 individual stockholders decided on the move ahead of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting at the end of next month. The investors are demanding that the  utility state in its agreement with shareholders that it will close its nuclear power plants and end its investment in a reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture and similar projects. The shareholders say the problems at  the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was a warning that accidents at any nuclear plant can lead to dangers that cannot be contained by any one company. They will deliver documents on the demand to the  company on Monday. The subject is expected to be discussed at this year’s shareholders’ meeting.

News courtesy NHK and JAIF 5/2/2011.