Showing posts with label Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Show all posts

Friday, 29 November 2013

Fukushima Now?

*The following post is my own thoughts and opinions, I am not a nuclear physicist - far from it!

I don't like to blog too much about the Fukushima Dai Ichi Power Station. It is depressing, to put it mildly. I have had some readers asking me about the safety of the area now so I thought it about time to rise to the challenge.

The other day my husband showed me a website which actually cheered me up a bit. Safecast Radiation Maps show you data about radiation that has been collected by volunteers. I wondered how accurate the information was so I looked up my own house. It shows that a someone measured the road in front of my house a few months ago as being 0.18 millisieverts per hour (mSv/h). That is 0.1 more than before the accident and fairly similar to what my own hand held geiger counter says. My house is on a big hill. That was something I was so thankful for when the tsunami occurred in 2011. But we do have slightly more radiation here than down in town.

What was also interesting was that on this map, it shows Munich, where DH goes on business sometimes has readings from between 0.08 to 0.18 that were taken a year ago. Then I went and had a look at the USA. Denver had some readings of 0.2 supposedly caused by it's elevation, other places have naturally occurring uranium in the ground that causes higher levels too.

My own country, New Zealand does not have any results on the map, but I have to wonder what fallout there was from the Pacific nuclear tests and the back ground radiation there. Whilst searching I found this old article from 2010 which said: "Levels of radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests have been falling since 1965, and were now lower than the levels from air travel". Well I should certainly hope they are! Especially since those tests were back in 1965!

Anyway. What I am trying to say is that it's interesting to see that radiation is all around us. In NZ there is a gaping hole in the ozone letting in more UV rays than other parts of the world. Going on an overseas holiday exposes you to far more than being here in my city in Fukushima. Is it safe here now? Well Prime Minister Abe told the IOC and the whole world on TV that it's under control up there. Basically we all need to keep our fingers crossed and try not it to let it get to you. Right now we have a lot of people in Fukushima battling depression and addictions to alcohol and gambling after being displaced from their homes and communities.
So as we say here Gambappe Fukushima: Keep at it Fukushima.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Tsukimi: Moon viewing

Moon viewing is coming up. 

People view the full moon and make an "dango" which you can see in the picture on wikipedia. We never do this, but this year we might make an effort for Amelia. She is really into anything ceemonial.

McDs usually has a Tsukimi burger at this time of year. It has an egg in it since that kind of looks like the moon, and an egg always makes a burger taste better anyway I think.

One of my good friends is a member of this group. They have made really cute wrapping paper and cards, with profits going to evacuees from the Fukushima Power plant disaster. Recently they have started co-operating with Benesse and now are part of this. They are the cutest little handmade wood figures. The current ones are Tsukimi themed with two little rabbits pounding the rice to make the dango. I have a christmas themed one that they sold last year (4th one down with the reindeer) and it is so well made, cute and fun to take apart and put together. For every one purchased, 100 yen goes to support a group for people with autism who have evacuated from Okuma town, near the power plant. A very worthy cause.

Have a look at the page, you will at least be impressed with the workmanship of this wood worker and his volunteer activities. 

Friday, 26 July 2013

Back on Air

Well I finally came to the conclusion that I should get back to this blogging business. It's been over a year since my last post, and when I logged in the other day, I found that this blog has been ticking away by itself, lots of people have been reading it without me even knowing! Fancy that!

So why not get things rolling again with a bit of an update post and an introduction for any new readers.

We are still here in Fukushima, living a very ordinary life these days after all that kerfuffle, 2 and a bit years ago, what with The Great East Japan Earthquake, followed by the meltdown at Fukushima Dai Ichi Power station. Even when I think back to about a year ago, I feel so much more calmer about daily life than I used to. I can go to the supermarket and do my shopping without worrying too much about earthquakes these days as they are not so common anymore. 

Amelia is 2 years old now. Sebastian or Basti (our miniature schnauzer) is nearly 3 and a very kind and mostly patient older brother, who keeps me fit! Thanks to him - well having to walk him every day, whilst pushing a 12 kilo child in a push chair -  I am 10 kilos lighter than I was before I got pregnant with Amelia (apparently its all down hill for your body after you have a baby - not so in my case!) .
I still teach English part time along with my full time mothering position, which I find is mostly a very fun way to turn off the mummy switch for a few hours. 

Unfortunately, I haven't been back to Ikebana since the disaster. My wonderful teacher also gave up teaching, so that kind of made me put off getting back to it. I still do the odd creation, with flowers from my own garden! Believe it or not, I am quite the gardener these days. One day I might even let you see what it looks like...maybe. It's very much a "beginners garden". 

So what is Fukushima like these days?
Well here in Iwaki city, it seems like many of the people who have had to leave their homes in the evacuation zone want to live here. There is a serious shortage of housing here, houses sell in a week, no free apartments etc. Traffic jams everywhere. I refuse to go into town on the weekend anymore, there are just too many people around! Admittedly apart from being in Fukushima it is pretty darn nice here: best weather in Japan, golf courses, hot springs, ski fields not far away, you can get to Tokyo and back in a day. Ok, so its a bit lacking on the consumerism side - no Costco or giant shopping malls here, but I find that is better for the wallet in the long run! 

So that's us! I apologise for my absence from the blogosphere and I do hope to see a few familiar readers again soon. Lot's more fun tales of Amelia and Basti, flower arrangement, English teaching and just generally being a foreigner in Japan. 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

1 year on

Well I thought I had better get around to writing something and why not on the eve of the first anniversary of the Tohoku triple disaster. 

So one year ago, I was 6-7 months pregnant when the giant quake hit Miyagi, which we felt here in Fukushima as a 6 on the Japanese scale. Just recalling that day gives me heart palpitations, even now. My house was not affected by the tsunami nor was there any damage from that earthquake which is still completely unbelievable to me. We lost the water supply for a month to our house but the power was always connected, lucky for us in our all electric house! All I can say is that we were so lucky to have built a home that did withstand it. Even more lucky for us was the fact that the wind was blowing the radiation from the Fukushima power plant away from us in the days after the explosions happened. That means that we are able to still live here, when other cities such as Fukushima City and Koriyama are dealing with much higher levels of radiation and other towns are now uninhabitable. 

It took a long time for things to get back to some kind of normality for us - if you could call it that. We have been back in Fukushima for over 6 months now. Geiger counters are a part of daily life. So is checking where the food in the supermarket comes from. However, I expect there are people all over Kanto and Tohoku doing this, not just in Fukushima. I have a constant supply of rice, fresh vegetables and fruit from DH's family in Tottori which is so helpful as I never have to worry about that. 

All around our neighbourhood there are mini communities of people from the evacuation zone. Our neighbourhood still had a lot of undeveloped land which was quickly utilised by the city as a place for prefabricated houses for the people who fled the power plant. Our city is so popular at the moment there is somewhat of a boom going on here. Houses are being built around us, empty land is being snapped up, all the apartments in town are full, help wanted signs everywhere, hospitals overcrowded and I can't get an appointment at the dentist till May... people are on waiting lists to move here from other parts of Fukushima. It is a very bizzarre situation for us here indeed as it certainly was not such a popular place to come to before the disaster that's for sure!

As the anniversary of the disaster approaches the Japanese media has been working itself into a frenzy of rehashing the whole thing. Being here in Tohoku and seeing the devastation on a daily basis, seeing the people living in the prefab housing every day, I think we kind of need a break from it. I would be nice to turn it all off for a few days - not possible I know, but boy do we all need a holiday from it! 

A couple of reporters from Canada here in Fukushima at the moment. I was asking them if they were sent here by their employer or if they came at their own expense. They said they were here off their own bat, as their agency was reluctant to send reporters to Fukushima because the Canadian government doesn't recommend people come here...All I can say is thank you for coming and seeing what it's like here and letting people know what's going on as the situation is certainly not all fixed and many people are still seriously affected by what happened at the Fukushima Dai Ichi Nuclear Power Plant.