Tokyo Day 8 – Stay Calm, Carry On

Was not awoken by a earth tremor this morning, which was positive (and different to the last couple of days). Mind you, a quick look at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Earthquake Site indicated that after the five hour gap between tremors last night (the longest there had been for a while), they had resumed, and been pretty frequent during the night (there were 4 of them between 5:00 and 6:00). But the good news is that the size of the aftershocks is much lower than it was yesterday.

Although the aftershocks haven’t made a lot of news internationally, they have remained a part of the problem, since a number of them have been centred on Fukushima itself – while they have been working on the dodgy reactors, they have been shaking for days.

The aftershocks have also been one of the major concerns for the whole country, as we were told over the weekend that here had been a 70% chance of another quake of a magnitude of 7 or above. Again, the good news is that this probability has been reduced, so there is less likelihood of a really serious shaking happening.

Which leaves the nuclear reactors. Some of the technical coverage has been poor, but the internet has made up for that. Yes, reactors have melted down, and the fuel rods are becoming a puddle at the bottom of the core. They’ll never generate power again, but as long as the core doesn’t breach, they can cover the whole thing in concrete for a thousand years, and there won’t be a serious risk (future earthquakes notwithstanding). Someone was apparently out with a gieger counter in Tokyo yesterday, and their readings showed no change in the background radiation since December.

The government have put out some serious warnings this morning, and extended the safety zone to 30km. People within 10km have been asked to get away – that implies that their buildings can no longer protect them, and the risk of being outside getting to safety is less than the risk of staying put. Out to 30km, they feel people are at less risk staying put than being outside heading away. That must mean that there’s something in the air, but not a long-term risk, or they would want those people out of the way too.

There is still no advice at all for the rest of the country, in terms of going in or staying out, and so life continues as normal – Marty got the train to work this morning, and we can hear the trains running outside.

Life goes on.

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