Rebuilding Tohoku’s disaster areas: 1st session of 15-member Rebuilding Council

Rebuilding Tohoku

After the Kobe/Hanshin earth quake rebuilding took about 18 months

Rebuilding Tohoku: After the Kobe/Hanshin earth quake rebuilding took about 18 months – maybe this is a good measure to estimate how long rebuilding will take in Tohoku. In Tohoku communities will certainly be rebuilt in locations which are much better protected against giant Tsunamis. The 15-member Disaster Rebuilding Council had the first constituting session yesterday, Thursday April 14, and includes the President of Keio University Atsushi Seike, architect Tadao Ando, playwright Makiko Uchidate, SONY-VP Ryoji Chubachi, and is chaired by Makoto Iokibe, President of the National Defence Academy. Japan’s resilience in face of almost unbelievable natural disasters is also an expression of Japan’s “Galapagos effect”.

Japan’s civilisation and society has developed over a very long time in sync with natural disasters of almost unbelievable proportions. People outside the immediate disaster zone continued to work with usual very high intensity, and inside the disaster zone immediately started with reconstruction work. A large part of the high-speed Tohoku Shinkansen train line from Tokyo to Aomori reopened, and is expected to run the full 710km length again from beginning of May. This 710km long high-speed train line rund right through the disaster area and was damaged in 1200 locations according to JR-East.

Sendai Airport which was struck by the earth quake and the Tsunami has been repaired with the help of US-Forces initially to bring in relief goods, and has now also been reopened for commercial air-traffic. All Japanese commercial airports are open for service again.

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Fukushima disaster impact on Tokyo [5]: Radiation risk situation for Tokyo, Business risk impact

Fukushima disaster impact on Tokyo : Radiation risk and earth quake and after quake situation for Tokyo, Business risk impact. 5th update of 12 April 2011

5th update on the crisis in Tokyo, focusing on radiation and business impact

Fukushima nuclear accident impact on Tokyo, 12 April 2011

This is our 5th update on the crisis in Tokyo, focusing mainly on the radiation and impact on business in Japan.

The continuing quakes (as shown below) do present risk. To my knowledge, earth quakes are “chaotic” (mathematically speaking), and there is considerable scientific argument that earth quakes cannot be reliably predicted. More in a future newsletter.

The Japanese Government has classified the Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident as a level 7 accident in the INES Scale. The official Japanese Government documents announcing this INES Scale classification can be found here in Japanese and here in English. Note however, that we are dealing here with nature, and human reactions. Nature does not care how we classify such accidents.

Damaged Fukushima reactors are “static” but not yet stable

Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 11, 2011 reported to the US Senate, that the condition of the damaged reactors is ” ‘static’, but with improvised cooling efforts, they are not ‘stable’ “.

Rebuilding is progressing at amazing speed. The Tohoku Shinkansen high-speed train was re-opened Tokyo-Fukushima yesterday, with relay train connections on regular track to Sendai. The full Tokyo-Shin-Aomori line is scheduled to open beginning of May. ANA has started to fly to the repaired Sendai airport.

Radiation measurement results for Tokyo are shown below. Measured radiation levels in Tokyo are now comparable to Austria, and there are many places on earth which have far higher levels than are reported for Tokyo now.

Quakes and after-quakes

The figures show that more than 300 earthquakes of magnitude 5 or larger occurred since the major quake on March 11, 2011 at 14:46. The epicenters of quakes lie mostly where the Pacific Plate moves under the North American Plate on which Tohoku lies.

According to our knowledge earth quakes are mathematically speaking a “chaotic” phenomenon, and scientific arguments are, that it is difficult if not impossible to predict earth quakes with precision. (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)

Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)
Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)
Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) on logarithmic magnitude scale (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)
Earth quakes of magnitude 5 and greater in Japan (March-April 2011) on logarithmic magnitude scale (Figure: Wolfram Alpha LLC)

Analyzing radiation levels in Tokyo/Shinjuku

Radiation in Tokyo/Shinjuku (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria
Radiation in Tokyo/Shinjuku (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria

Radiation levels in Tokyo (Shinjuku and Shibuya) and Tsukuba:

Radiation in Tsukuba (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria
Radiation in Tsukuba (until April 13, 2011) compared to Austria

The blue curve above shows the radiation levels in Tokyo/Shinjuku as measured and published by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Public Health here:

  • each hour for the last 24 hours
  • daily starting March 1

The red curves show maximum and minimum data as measured by TEPCO in Tokyo-Shibuya, and published here: TEPCO radiation data

The green curves show radiation data measured by Japan’s highly respected AIST Laboratory in Tsukuba (Ibaraki-ken, about 60 km north of Tokyo in direction of Fukushima) and published here: AIST radiation data.

Radiation levels in Tsukuba

The green curves show radiation data measured by AIST Laboratory in Tsukuba (Ibaraki-ken, about 60 km north of Tokyo in direction of Fukushima) and published here: AIST radiation data.

The radiation measurement results in Tsukuba are considerably higher than found in Tokyo, but have in the last few days decreased close to the top levels found naturally in Austria and in many other countries.

The differences in the data between Tokyo and Tsukuba could be because Tsukuba is 60km closer to Fukushima, could be cause by weather conditions, but they could also be caused by differences in the measurement equipment or a combination of these factors.

Drinking water (tap water) in Tokyo:

Contamination of Tokyo tap water with I-131 (until April 13, 2011)
Contamination of Tokyo tap water with I-131 (until April 13, 2011)

Analysis of tap water in Tokyo can be found here for each day starting with March 18. This analysis shows that Tokyo tap water currently contains some radioactive Iodine (I-131), and some Cesium (CS-134 and Cs-137) radioactive isotopes.

Interesting in this context is that according to a WHO report on Japan of March 22 (pdf-file), Japanese health limits for radioactive Iodine are about 10 times lower than global standards, ie if Japanese health limits are exceeded, the levels are still at 10% of global limits (we don’t intend to underestimate this problem however).

We conclude that currently radioactive Iodine (I-131) concentrations are about 0.2% of Japan’s limits set by Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission, and about 0.02% of international health limits, and are currently on a downward trend.

Contamination of tap water with Cesium Cs-134 and CS-137 isotopes (until April 13, 2011)
Contamination of tap water with Cesium Cs-134 and CS-137 isotopes (until April 13, 2011)

Radioactive contamination of drinking water (Cesium)

Cesium contamination with radioactive Cs-134 (1/2-life = 2.1 years) and Cs-137 (1/2-life = 30 years) isotopes is currently on the order of 0.1% of the limits set by Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission and are on a downward trend.

The relatively long 1/2-life of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 means that these radioactive isotopes will stay with us for many years. To understand this situation it is necessary to compare these levels with natural levels, and with other sources of radioactivity, and how Cesium interacts with our bodies.

Where to find radiation measurement results (updated March 28, 2011):

Japan’s Government AIST laboratory:
http://www.aist.go.jp/taisaku/ja/measurement/index.html

Japan’s Science and Education Ministry MEXT publishes regional radiation data:
http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/saigaijohou/index.htm
http://www.mext.go.jp/english/radioactivity_level/
These data are graphically shown here:
Radiation: http://atmc.jp/
Drinking water: http://atmc.jp/water/
Rain water: http://atmc.jp/ame/

Radiation data for Tokyo/Shinjuku are published here:
each hour for the last 24 hours
for each day starting March 1

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