Sunday, September 11, 2011

Radiation and Fall Leaves

While watching "Tetsuwan Dash," one of my favorite programs on Japanese TV, I found out something I didn't know about radiation hot spots.
The show has a segment called "DASH-Mura" where the members of the "band" TOKIO go off to the Japanese countryside and farm. they have been doing it for many years now, and it was immensely popular. They keep bees, grow rice and vegetables, make pottery, restore old houses, and thatch roofs. It was a wonderful show. However, it is in Namie Town, Fukushima. About 25Km to the NW of Fukushima I Nuclear power plant. And the NW was the most contaminated fallout zone.
In tonight's show, they went back, in full radiation gear to measure levels and plant sunflowers. The first visit was on July 11. The strange thing was- it all looked so normal... That is one of the worst things about radiation fallout- you can't tell by looking at the area. You could hear the cicada, frogs, and birds. Bees were making new hives in the abandoned buildings- it all looked like a normal homestead that had been recently abandoned. Until they put the Geiger counter readings up. 10-18 microsieverts per hour. The average hourly dose is 0.34 microsieverts for Americans... 35 times.
They also measured the dose on a drift of fallen leaves. 35 microsieverts per hour! 100 times the US average!!! The drifts of course show you prevailing wind patterns. Where the leaves stop, so does a lot of cesium. So presumably, you could use drifts to identify potential hotspots to facilitate decontamination.  Of course, you still couldn't live there for another 120 years or so...

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