Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Level Up! But Just a Revision

If you haven't heard, Japan as recently raised the level of this nuclear disaster to level 7. However, this does not mean that the situation is escalating out of control, it's more like they've revised the ranking of this disaster based on further data. Still, that technically puts it on the same scale as Chernobyl, which I'm sure sensationalist news stations will have a heyday with if they haven't already.

For those who haven't been paying to close of attention though, Fukushima is definitely not Chernobyl. Tremendous amounts of radiation emerged from Chernobyl over a short period, directly from the exposed reactor, whereas Fukushima's 4 reactors have been slowly leaking over the last month. Furthermore, there are no reported health dangers from the current levels of radiation, much less deaths, but given the total overall amount released over the 1 month period, this supposedly qualifies for a level 7.

How does this affect me? I'm approximately 300 km (186 mi) from Fukushima, and although I'm sure limited amounts of radiation have reached this way, it's still well beneath anything that would even become potentially dangerous. There have been scares over the water and food, as well as radioactivity beyond the legal limit (which is probably extremely low anyways) found in some fish off the coast of Ibaragi, just south of Fukushima. None of this poses a threat to my immediate health, and I don't have any plans for leaving any time soon either.

That said, I'd be lying if I said I didn't check the packaging to find out where things I'm buying are coming from. That still hasn't really prevented me from buying anything though, as I'm assuming a certain level of testing is being performed on to ensure the safety of products. They did put at least a temporary ban on I believe it was spinach and milk and a few other products from Ibaragi and Fukushima awhile back. I feel so bad for the people in Fukushima and the surrounding area, as this has practically enacted an economic freeze on the area where no one wants to go there or wants anything from the area either. At the same time I understand consumers' concerns, as I'm one of them, so I have a strange conflicting opinion on the whole thing.

For instance water is an interesting story. Awhile ago there was a scare after it had rained and they found radiation in the tap water for Tokyo. The government announced it was safe to drink, but recommended that infants not drink the water, as they are much more susceptible to radiation effects. Naturally this lead to all stores completely selling out on water, and just recently they've started to regain most of their stock. I believe what they're saying about the tap water, and that its completely safe, but for some reason I can't quite bring myself to drink from it. It's kind of embarrassing, but it reminds me of the time a huge gnarly looking centipede crawled across the ceiling in front of me when I used to sleep on a top bunk. For the next week I couldn't even set foot in my room, and I never slept on the top bunk again. So even at a time like this, Psychology is working at its best (or worst I guess). Also there's the fact that purchasing 2 liter bottles of water/tea/sports drink for $1-2 dollars isn't exactly going to throw me into any financial troubles (at least nothing compared to my student loans!), so I'm not really forced to drink the tap if I don't want to, even if there wasn't an ongoing nuclear crisis 300 km away.

Anyways, we've still been facing more and more aftershocks. We had a lot yesterday, and a few this morning, but none yet this evening (knocks on wood). Thanks to the recent slight increase in quakes, or at least quakes nearer by, my Jishin Yoi (earthquake sickness) is back, and I'm starting to second guess if it's actually shaking or just my imagination. At the same time, these quakes have become a sort of strange part of everyday life. Although they naturally worry me a bit, they're certainly not impeding on my everyday routine anymore. I'm also getting better at predicting the level of intensity too, hah.

And finally, a little bit of good news! Supposedly they're making progress, albeit little, but progress none the same! Also, Sendai Airport has partially resumed domestic flights to the area! Little by little things are getting back on track.


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