Japan Officials: Radioactive Iodine in Tokyo Water


A little girl is screened for radiation exposure at Koriyama, northeastern Japan, Saturday, March 19, 2011 following last week’s massive earthquake and resulting tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

TOKYO – The government said Saturday that small but safe amounts of radioactive iodine turned up in tap water in Tokyo and five other areas, amid concerns about radiation leaking from a damaged nuclear power plant.

The trace amounts were found in Tokyo and the other prefectures on Friday, the first day since the government ordered nationwide daily sampling due to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said.

A ministry statement said the amounts found did not exceed government safety limits. But tests on water, which for decades were only done once a year, usually show no iodine.

The highest reading was less than a third of the allowable limit. A ministry official, who could not be quoted by name as is customary, said the government deems the small amounts safe and was awaiting further expert analysis.

Read moreJapan Officials: Radioactive Iodine in Tokyo Water

Tokyo Passengers Set Off O’Hare Airport Radiation Alarms

Tokyo Passengers Set Off O’Hare Radiation Detectors (ZeroHedge):

No seriously, it is all under control. And furthermore, the radiation detectors only go off on less than dangerous doses. And if that fails, GE can simply raise the sensitivity threshold on its scanners so no more vile, malicious false alarms such as this are set off in the future. “Mayor Richard Daley acknowledged today passengers on a flight from Tokyo had set off radiation detectors at O’Hare International Airport, but he offered no details and said federal officials will be handling the situation.”

From Chicago Breaking News:

“Of course the protection of the person coming off the plane is very important in regards to any radiation, especially within their families and anything else,” Daley said at a downtown news conference to discuss his trip to China this week.

City Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino would only say, “We are aware that occurred yesterday. We are working with Customs and Border Protection on this issue.” She referred reporters to the Department of Homeland Security.

And the follow up from Chicago Positive Spin News:

Federal officials found traces of radiation on a United Airlines jet that arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from Tokyo Wednesday but determined that the plane’s cargo and passengers were safe.

Airline and government officials are reluctant to address their efforts to detect radiation contamination on U.S. aircraft at a time when some members of the public are jittery about possible fallout from Japan’s stricken nuclear plants.

It is unclear if those who set off the alarms will be arrested for smuggling illegal radiation from Japan, where gamma waves are being scared into hiding if one is brave enough to believe the domestic government.

Japan radiation sets off O’Hare airport alarms (CBS NEWS):

Trace amounts of radiation from Japan have been detected in Chicago, CBS News station WBBM-TV reports.

Travelers coming in from Japan on Wednesday triggered radiation detectors at O’Hare International Airport as they passed through customs. Only very small amounts of radiation were detected.

“We are aware of the radiation,” said Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride. “We are adding screenings and precautionary measures.”

In one instance, radiation was detected in a plane’s air filtration system. Radiation was also found in luggage and on passengers on flights from Japan.

Read moreTokyo Passengers Set Off O’Hare Airport Radiation Alarms

Japan: Panic Buying, Evacuations In Tokyo, Power Supply Shortages To Continue For Months

Panic Buying Adds To Shortages After Japan Quake (NPR):

Canned goods, batteries, bread and bottled water have vanished from store shelves and long lines of cars circle gas stations, as Japan grapples with a new risk set off by last week’s earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis: panic-buying.

Far outside the disaster zone, stores are running out of necessities, raising government fears that hoarding may hurt the delivery of emergency food aid to those who really need it.

“The situation is hysterical,” said Tomonao Matsuo, spokesman for instant noodle maker Nissin Foods, which donated a million items including its “Cup Noodles” for disaster relief. “People feel safer just by buying Cup Noodles.”

Japan power gap could sap recovery (Reuters):

“We think power supply shortages and rations are likely to continue in TEPCO’s supply area for months rather than weeks,” the analysts wrote in a note to clients.

Radiation fears spark panic buying, evacuations in Tokyo (Reuters):

TOKYO (Reuters) – Panic swept Tokyo on Tuesday after a rise in radioactive levels around an earthquake-hit nuclear power plant north of the city, causing some to leave the capital or stock up on food and supplies.

Embassies advised staff to leave affected areas, tourists cut short vacations and some multinational companies told staff to move from Tokyo out after low levels of radiation were detected in one of the world’s biggest and most densely populated cities.

In one sign of the panic, Don Quixote, a multistory, 24-hour general store in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, was sold out of radios, flashlights, candles, fuel cans and sleeping bags on Tuesday as a Reuters reported visited the shop.

Read moreJapan: Panic Buying, Evacuations In Tokyo, Power Supply Shortages To Continue For Months

Japan PM Naoto Kan to Tokyo Electric Power Company: ‘What the hell’s going on?’ (Kyodo – Reuters)

Japan PM to nuclear power firm: “What the hell’s going on?” -Kyodo (Reuters):

(Reuters) – Japan’s prime minister was furious with the power firm at the centre of the nuclear crisis for taking so long to inform his office about a blast at a stricken reactor plant, demanding “What the hell is going on?”.

Kyodo news agency reported that Naoto Kan also ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co on Tuesday not to pull employees out of the Fukushima plant north of Tokyo, which was badly damaged by last week’s earthquake and has been leaking radiation.

“The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the the premier’s office for about an hour,” a Kyodo reporter quoted Kan telling power company executives.

Japan Aftershock Map – 405 Aftershocks So Far – Aftershocks Will Likely Include At Least One Measuring 8 And 10 Of Magnitude 7, Says JPL Geophysicist Andrea Donnellan

For Japan, it’s nowhere near over, at least if the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory (creator of such brainiac things as the Mars rovers) is correct.

While Japan has experienced numerous magnitude 5 and 6 aftershocks (405 in total to be precise), the big ones are still to come: “Japan’s largest quake on record, which hurled a 7-meter (23-foot) wave landward after one plate slid beneath another off the coast of Sendai, had an 8.9 magnitude.

The aftershocks will likely include at least one measuring 8 and 10 of magnitude 7, JPL geophysicist Andrea Donnellan said.

All are many times larger than the 6.3-level New Zealand quake in February that leveled the Christchurch business district and killed 160.”

Should we get more 8+ earthquakes, the likelihood of further tsunamis unfortunately jumps exponentially. And while scientists have long been expecting “the Big One” to hit Los Angeles so far without success, unfortunately carrying over that logic to Japan is more than naive.

(Click on image to go to the USGS aftershock map.)

More from BusinessWeek on predicting earthquakes:

Pressure levels changed on the undersea plates extending 500 kilometers to the east and west of the epicenter, likely provoking aftershocks “for a long time,” said Eric Fielding, a principal scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Pasadena, California, research group is using data from Japan to help scientists forecast follow-on shifts in crustal plates.

Read moreJapan Aftershock Map – 405 Aftershocks So Far – Aftershocks Will Likely Include At Least One Measuring 8 And 10 Of Magnitude 7, Says JPL Geophysicist Andrea Donnellan

Japan: When Home Is a Tiny Plastic Bunk Barely Bigger Than A Coffin

Atsushi Nakanishi has condensed his possessions to two suitcases, which he stores in lockers at the capsule hotel where he lives.

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Atsushi Nakanishi is among the jobless living in a capsule hotel, renting a bunk with no door.

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The capsules have no doors, only screens that pull down. Every bump of the shoulder on the plastic walls, every muffled cough, echoes loudly through the rows.

OKYO — For Atsushi Nakanishi, jobless since Christmas, home is a cubicle barely bigger than a coffin — one of dozens of berths stacked two units high in one of central Tokyo’s decrepit “capsule” hotels.

“It’s just a place to crawl into and sleep,” he said, rolling his neck and stroking his black suit — one of just two he owns after discarding the rest of his wardrobe for lack of space. “You get used to it.”

When Capsule Hotel Shinjuku 510 opened nearly two decades ago, Japan was just beginning to pull back from its bubble economy, and the hotel’s tiny plastic cubicles offered a night’s refuge to salarymen who had missed the last train home.

Now, Hotel Shinjuku 510’s capsules, no larger than 6 1/2 feet long by 5 feet wide, and not tall enough to stand up in, have become an affordable option for some people with nowhere else to go as Japan endures its worst recession since World War II.

Once-booming exporters laid off workers en masse in 2009 as the global economic crisis pushed down demand. Many of the newly unemployed, forced from their company-sponsored housing or unable to make rent, have become homeless.

The country’s woes have led the government to open emergency shelters over the New Year holiday in a nationwide drive to help the homeless. The Democratic Party, which swept to power in September, wants to avoid the fate of the previous pro-business government, which was caught off-guard when unemployed workers pitched tents near public offices last year to call attention to their plight.

“In this bitter-cold New Year’s season, the government intends to do all it can to help those who face hardship,” Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in a video posted Dec. 26 on YouTube. “You are not alone.”

On Friday, he visited a Tokyo shelter housing 700 homeless people, telling reporters that “help can’t wait.”

Read moreJapan: When Home Is a Tiny Plastic Bunk Barely Bigger Than A Coffin

Dollar’s nosedive stirs joint intervention jitters

TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar’s sharp slide to 13-year lows against the yen and fresh all-time lows versus the euro on Monday is stoking jitters about the possibility of joint central bank intervention to prop up the dollar.”The speed of the slide in the dollar/yen is so rapid that U.S. action alone can no longer stop the dollar’s downward trend,” said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investment.

“The time is ripe for coordinated intervention by U.S., European and Japanese authorities.”

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