While my sympathies are 100% with all the people mending their fractured lives all along the coast and the enormous challenges still ahead for them I cannot stop a morbid obsession with radiation and fall out news. Every morning I wake I scan every newspaper online for updates and several home pages and blogs of people whose info I've come to respect and trust.
This week has been another week of delays. Last week almost sounded hopeful but this week, my faith is again weak that we are going to see progress any time soon. It may be that things are going to get quite a bit worse in fact with rainy season due from tomorrow in Fukushima. Rain falls into open reactors so water levels rise and radioactive water overflows.
We have reactors 1, 2 and 3 that have experienced explosions; partial meltdown and partial melthrough and we have reactor 4 in seriously unstable condition as the whole containment vessel is rampant with leaks and the rods are half exposed. Any worsening of this situation including an earthquake of a high magnitude is going to topple this very fragile containment structure and then we have a situation for which man is totally unprepared and has never seen before.
This would be the point where half of Japan would need to evacuate. We need to pray that there will not be another large quake before this vessel is contained. Plans are underway to build a structure around reactor 4, a tall building that will hold it sturdy and will eventually have a roof and be completely sealed off. this would be good. Seismologists are pessimistic and say we still have not had the big 8 aftershock that a quake of this magnitude usually brings :( Moreover this was the Pacific coastal epicenter quake (200 kms offshore from Sendai) BUT the big one that has been predicted for decades is the inland huge quake for Miyagi ken...:(
As for reactors 1 through 3, all the water has to be cooled. Humidity is building up inside each vessel. On Sunday, reactor 1 was "vented" meaning a very slow release of steam (containing radiation and fall out particles). The key is to do this VERY VERY slowly, thus minimizing dangers (given the lower ratio of toxins per smaller amounts of steam=less harm factor cf. quick larger release and massive radiation levels which would travel farther) and this was done to release steam and therefore reduce humidity simply to allow workers back in for their 10 minute checks. These checks are crucial and cannot for various reasons be done as efficiently by robots.
The reactors are releasing toxins all the time. 4 of them. Depending on the wind, these fall out particles travel and clump (imagine dust..notice how dust collects in corners...dust bunnies..fall out poisons are the same and somehow fallout bunnies is not appropriate :/) and these are on a larger scale creating "hot spots" and areas that are toxin free too. Measuring for hotspots is costly and very time consuming BUT NEEDS to be done!! The fall out line with major hotspots seems to have initially been found in a T shape behind the Fukushima coast, northwest and west of the plants (and down farther south of Tokyo in Ibaraki), not concentric at all, so much for radius theory. Fall out leakage falls close to the plant unless there are winds over a certain velocity or rain. Weather matters.
There are things we can do. Zeolite is an amazing product that absorbs radioactive particles!! It needs to be used. In enormous quantities. And the govt needs to find the billions of yen ASAP to decontaminate the radioactive water that is almost overflowing and already seeping into groundwater. They have built a zeolite trench to contain some, but the trench itself is now overflowing. What this means is the water is seeping out into the soil (and sea close by) and contaminatng soil.The trench needs to be made far bigger and deeper.
Efforts to start decontaminating water got off to a bad start when a billion yen filtration system designed to extract contaminants from the water became "full" after 5 hours. The filter was supposed to last several months. This is an example of how serious the levels of toxins are and how huge a task this is to decontaminate.
Products from Fukushima prefecture have been banned for consumption- good, yet children are still being allowed to go to school in Fukushima city! This is 50km away where radiation levels have reached 2.88 microsieverts! This is an unacceptable level for health. Children are especially vulnerable due to their extremely fast T cell and other cell regeneration process so affected cells literally have the ability to transform DNA patterns. Older people's cells take longer to renew so there is time for toxins to be cleared from the body. Anyway, the dangers are for all, even for adults it is all about length of time exposed and how much exposure. Stats and effects will be evident in decades from now, not overnight.