Don't Drink the Water, Little Ones: Tapwater in Tokyo Exceeds Radioactive Iodine Limit for Infants

US forces are in Japan helping bring relief supplies, electricity is back to all 6 reactors but the tapwater in Tokyo exceeds the recommended limit on radioactive iodine for infants. [Don’t drink the water, little ones.]

A programmer in Japan, Chris Gaunt, has the following series of tweets that will make you understand what parents’ in Japan are feeling.

Ok now I’m worried. Been giving my son formula as well as breastfeeding… So how long has the water been like this?

Wife went to get a couple of bottles of water for baby, just in case. Saw a woman leaving with 8 crates! It was all sold out… sigh

I have a 9 week old infant. What about when we take a bath or shower? Should [we] be careful about him swallowing water?

Managed to get 2 bottles of baby water. Now all I need is a shotgun & a motorbike and I’m ready for the End Times

Other tweets from an expatriate in Japan

Why does konbini staff even allow (at times like this) people to buy up so much[water]? That needs to change!

[P]anicky old ladies trying to buy as much water as they [can] carry make me a little angry when i’ve got an 8 month old and 2 year old at home.
Gaunt’s post that made me laugh and then quickly sobered me up:

At this point I usually quit my game of Sim City and start again.

UPDATE: Closeup video of  the destroyed nuclear reactor at Fukushima

Photo of a Tokyo’s store’s water shelf taken just hours after the announcement that levels of radiation in the tap water was unsuitable for infants. (photo by Steve Herman of VOA)

UPDATE2: The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Austria has just released a report estimating that Fukushima is a nuclear disaster on the same level as Chernobyl. A survivor of Chernobyl says that the workers at Fukushima are being lied to and will suffer serious health repercussions.  She calls their work “nuclear slavery.”

UPDATE3: Radnet Monitoring station in Eureka for those who would like to keep updated on radiation levels locally.

______________

A hat tip to Voice of America Steve Herman.  He has the quickest, most informed tweets.

Photo from here.

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11 comments

  • The IAEA says most of the reactors have been connected to power but cooling systems are damaged in four of them. Workers are trying to restore internal power. The IAEA warns “Restoring external power to the power plant does not mean the reactors will immediately resume normal safety function.” The agency cautions no one knows when that will happen.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/03/23/134785562/live-blog-japan-developments-on-wednesday

    I think that the correct wording for that final phrase is “…IF that will happen,” and the likely answer is “never.” Those reactors are toast, the best we can hope for is that they are able to prevent the worst-case scenario of full-scale reactor meltdowns and overheating/fire/explosions in the spent fuel pools.

  • Meanwhile, back at the nuke:

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Radiation at the crippled Fukushima No.2 nuclear reactor was recorded at the highest level since the start of the crisis, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday.

    An agency spokesman said 500 millisieverts per hour of radiation was measured at the No.2 unit on Wednesday.

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2011/03/highest_radiation_level_so_far_at_no2_nuclear_unit.php?ref=fpb

    Again, that’s 500 millisieverts per HOUR. And just to put that in context, just 100 millisieverts in a whole YEAR is the level where excess cancers may develop, and those radiation levels right now are 5 times that amount EVERY HOUR. By the way, about 400 millisieverts can cause radiation sickness in a fairly short period of time.

    http://xkcd.com/radiation/

    That doesn’t sound like very good news for the workers. Anybody know how much is shielded by the kind of protective gear they wear? My recollection is, that it isn’t all that much protection. I hope I’m wrong about that.

  • thanks for the updates

  • The Union of Concerned Scientists website is an excellent source — not just on the current disaster in Japan, but also about global warming and nuclear power.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/

    I keep hearing that the UCS has “changed their mind” about nuclear power, due to concerns about global warming, or at least has become “agnostic” about the idea of building a new generation of nuclear power in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

    But here’s their actual postion on nuclear power, taken straight from their website (linked below). It’s definitely not an endorsement of nuclear power, and is only agnostic as to the possibility that nuclear power might become more feasible at some unspecified point in the future. Judge for yourself:


    …the Union of Concerned Scientists contends that:

    1.Prudence dictates that we develop as many options to reduce global warming emissions as possible, and begin by deploying those that achieve the largest reductions most quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.

    2.Nuclear power is not the silver bullet for “solving” the global warming problem. Many other technologies will be needed to address global warming even if a major expansion of nuclear power were to occur.

    3.A major expansion of nuclear power in the United States is not feasible in the near term. Even under an ambitious deployment scenario, new plants could not make a substantial contribution to reducing U.S. global warming emissions for at least two decades.

    4.Until long-standing problems regarding the security of nuclear plants—from accidents and acts of terrorism—are fixed, the potential of nuclear power to play a significant role in addressing global warming will be held hostage to the industry’s worst performers.

    5.An expansion of nuclear power under effective regulations and an appropriate level of oversight should be considered as a longer-term option if other climate-neutral means for producing electricity prove inadequate. Nuclear energy research and development (R&D) should therefore continue, with a focus on enhancing safety, security, and waste disposal.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/ucs-position-on-nuclear-power.html?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=link4&utm_campaign=SP-japan-nuke-link4-3-14-11

    I basically agree with all 5 points, except that I would strengthen #5 to include: Research into nuclear should be focused only on new reactor designs where it is literally impossible, under the known laws of physics, for a melt-down or other catastrophic event to occur which could result in widespread radioactive contamination. Not just “unlikey,” but truly impossible.

    If someone can come up with such a design, successfully test it, and also find some way to render the radioactive waste much less dangerous and dangerous for far fewer years, then I’ll be willing to consider that kind of nuclear power as a viable energy alternative. In the meantime, thanks but no thanks.

  • tra, thank you for all this great information. I especially liked the info from the Union of Concerned Scientists. That rung that bell of truth in me. It fit with what I believe.

  • Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money on Nuclear Power Subsidies:

    Tell your legislators that putting taxpayers on the hook for subsidies to the nuclear industry is bad business and will only delay or diminish investments in affordable clean energy alternatives.

    Get involved… [link]

    That’s from the upper right-hand corner of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ web page about the Fukushima disaster:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/safety/japan-nuclear-crisis-briefings.html?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=link2&utm_campaign=japan-nuclear-crisis-link2-3-15-11

  • Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money on Nuclear Power Subsidies:

    Tell your legislators that putting taxpayers on the hook for subsidies to the nuclear industry is bad business and will only delay or diminish investments in affordable clean energy alternatives.

    Get involved… [link]

    That’s from the upper right-hand corner of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ web page about the Fukushima disaster:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_risk/safety/japan-nuclear-crisis-briefings.html?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=link2&utm_campaign=japan-nuclear-crisis-link2-3-15-11

  • While I was a bit skeptical that the Wikipedia page on the Fukushima disaster would be a good source, it looks like some knowledgeable people are putting in a lot of effort to keep it updated, and to make sure the information is well-sourced. One section of that Wikipedia page has daily updates. Here is today’s update:

    23 March: In the late afternoon, smoke again started belching from reactor 3, this time black and grey smoke, causing another evacuation of workers from around the area. Aerial footage from the plant shows what looks like a small amount of fire at the base of the smoke plumes from within the heavily damaged reactor building. Tepco state that they are unaware of the source of the fire and smoke.

    Clearly they are not out of danger yet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents

    Unfortunately the Union of Concerned Scientists’ daily briefing for today (Wed, March 23) is not yet up. But I assume it will be at some point on Thursday. The link is in my last post.

  • Latest from the NY Times:

    The restoration of electricity at the plant, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stirred hopes that the crisis was ebbing. But nuclear engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead — and time is not necessarily on the side of the repair teams.

    Full NY Times article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/world/asia/24nuclear.html?_r=1&hp

    There are now serious concerns about salt buildup (from all the salt water that’s been pumped in to the reactors most of which has boiled off, leaving a huge volume of salt behing) coating the fuel rods and leading to more overheating.

    There is surprise and concern at the levels of radioactive idodine found in drinking water as far away as Tokyo — which until today wasn’t thought to be likely, but now has scientists concerned that more radioactive materials have been released and are being released than was previously predicted.

    And there’s still smoke and fire coming from an “unknown source” at the very-troubled reactor 3, which has both damage to the reactor containment and problems with an overheating spent-fuel pool, and also, you guessed it, happens to be the one reactor that was using the part-plutonium fuel mix.

    They are definitely not out of the woods yet.

  • Latest from the NY Times:

    The restoration of electricity at the plant, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stirred hopes that the crisis was ebbing. But nuclear engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead — and time is not necessarily on the side of the repair teams.

    Full NY Times article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/world/asia/24nuclear.html?_r=1&hp

    There are now serious concerns about salt buildup (from all the salt water that’s been pumped in to the reactors most of which has boiled off, leaving a huge volume of salt behing) coating the fuel rods and leading to more overheating.

    There is surprise and concern at the levels of radioactive idodine found in drinking water as far away as Tokyo — which until today wasn’t thought to be likely, but now has scientists concerned that more radioactive materials have been released and are being released than was previously predicted.

    And there’s still smoke and fire coming from an “unknown source” at the very-troubled reactor 3, which has both damage to the reactor containment and problems with an overheating spent-fuel pool, and also, you guessed it, happens to be the one reactor that was using the part-plutonium fuel mix.

    They are definitely not out of the woods yet.

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