Nuclear Crisis in Japan

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Following the blasts in four nuclear reactors of the TEPCO's dai-ichi plant in Fukushima, there is widespread concerns and fear among residents all the way to Tokyo and Kanagawa.  The confusing and sometime not-so-accutate information given by the company officials are aiding to the speculations and fears. 

Here are the facts that we should consider before getting nervous or jittery on this issue. In Chernobyl accident, most people who suffered injuries and died are the firefighters who were in the immediate vicinity of the reactor. The reactor was fully operational at the time of accident. So, the nuclear chain reaction was still active. In the Fukushima problem, three reactors were automatically shutdown following the earthquake and one was not operational at the time when this incident happened. However, we should not forget the fact that here we are dealing with 4 reactors as compared to a single reactor in Chernobyl accident. Added together and if not well-managed these 4 reactors might pose some risk to the immediate vicinity. 

Even if the reactors were shutdown the water level that keeps the nuclear rods under water were not maintained. The back-up generators were either washed away or non-operational. So, coolant waters were not circulated in the reactors and the water-level fell apparently because of evaporation from the internal heat. This later caused the hydrogen blasts. Do we have to worry about the consequences?

I suggest you to read this article first:

How bad is the situation in Fukushima?  An expert assessment.

Ok, what happens when we have radiation in the atmosphere. Will it be a health hazard?

Well, on any long flights we usually get more radiation that we can expect from the safety zone that is in place now. One way travel from Tokyo to New York will probably give a dose of 50 microSv which is not recorded even closer to the Fukushima.

Levels are much less as we move south.

In Tokyo as observed by the U. of Tokyo.

And in other prefectures:

Also the other observations released by MEXT.

Please check the second page of the following pdf file for further details about the harmful levels of the radiation exposures:

And here is what Dr. Ohtsuka of KEK says in a lecture held at Ninomiya House in Tsukuba.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

So, it is not alarming outside of the safety zone. Please have a deep breath, you are safe. If you have any concern at all for the possible exposure, stay inside homes and take a bath after returning home. Here are some more suggestions useful for people who are very close to the Fukushima nuclear plant:

For Tokyo, here is the suggestion of British Chief Scientific Officer John Beddington

And here is a discussion group in the Facebook most of whom are experts and scientists from Tsukuba.!/home.php?sk=group_104707536277287&ap=1

Japan radiation localized:WHO

What should one do in case of a nuclear emergency?