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17 March 2011 @ 08:28 am
Perspective, Please?  
Reading about the US decision to evacuate people out of Japan makes me roll my eyes. I can maybe see where people in Tokyo -- a mere 200 miles away from the problem may think that's a little too close for comfort. But Nagoya? It's 400 miles away from the Fukushima plant. That's like saying there's a problem in San Francisco, so let's evacuate everything between here and LA. Or actually, a more appropriate analogy would be that someone conducts nuclear tests in the Nevada desert, so let's evacuate Oakland. Seriously. It's a long distance, the winds don't blow that way, and there's a whole lot of mountain ranges in between.

As with any crisis, there is a lot of confusing and conflicting information. Don't take everything you read as a sign that the world is ending.
 
 
 
Steffan Thomasrhylar on March 17th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
did some research on this.

http://www.bousai.ne.jp/eng/

is a map with actual radiation levels (although not for fukushima prefecture itself). Units are "nano-grays per hour" which are convertible (I think) into sieverts. (hope I did the math right)

In Ibaraki Prefecture, radiation levels are 850 nGy/h, which is about 3.7x normal background radiation. In the US, that would be equivalent to 10 times the level that industries are allowed to expose the public to, but less than the amount they are allowed to expose their own workers to.

Assuming I'm doing the micromort calculation correctly, being in the most heavily impacted portion of Ibaraki, the radiation danger is presenting the same chance of death as:

drinking 1 bottle of wine/week (liver damage)
smoking 2 cigarettes/week (cancer & heart disease)
driving 15K miles/year (accident)

So, if you live in Ibaraki, with good public transit, and you evacuate to Los Angeles, where you commute to work by car, you trade death-by-cancer for death-by-car-accident, and possibly also get death-by-smog in the bargain.
Sandpanthersandpanther on March 18th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
I gotta admit, previous to this week I'd never heard of a sievert before. Still not sure I totally understand it either, alas.

Thank you for the link (and the math!) It's awesome to get some concrete numbers to stave off all the hypochondriac headlines.
Sandpanthersandpanther on March 18th, 2011 04:45 am (UTC)
It looks like the monitoring station in Ibaraki is actually about 60 miles away from the Fukushima nuclear plants. The site currently isn't listing any levels for Fukushima itself.

I'm still a little baffled by the large discrepancy between what's okay to expose the public to, and what's okay to expose workers to. I'm guessing they want to make absolutely certain the general public will not have any opportunity to sue.
Steffan Thomasrhylar on March 18th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
theoretically, workers in a radiation industry have chosen the field, and are getting compensated in some way for the additional chance of death. Also, children & pregnant women (the carried fetus) are much more susceptible to radiation damage.

There are special rules for women who work in radiation industries, but I forget what they are right now.
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Sandpanthersandpanther on March 18th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC)
The news seems to have missed that the death toll is still rising, since the Tohoku region is being hit with blizzards.

On the up side, it sounds like as of yesterday they had the major expressway from Tokyo to the top of Honshu cleared for traffic, as well as having at least the main roads open into all the affected areas. Two harbors in the region (one just south of the nuclear plant and one at the northern edge of the damaged area) have been re-opened. Cleanup is underway at Sendai airport, and it's been restored enough that military helicopters and cargo planes can land. It'll probably be a few more days before supply lines are fully restored, but at least they've now got ways open to start getting necessities in to the affected regions. Power's coming back on even in some of the worst-hit parts, and with luck in a few hours power will be restored to the nuclear plant. Progress is happening.
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Sandpanthersandpanther on March 18th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
Point. Radiation's much safer! :)