Sunday, September 18, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Another Reason Not to Trust Your Goverment - Inferior Survey Meter

Change the survey machine, then the radiation levels may double, as they did in Misato City in Saitama.

A sort of "Shadenfreude" for citizens and particularly parents whose own radiation measurements were ridiculed and discredited by the authorities as "amateurish", "prone to mistakes", "using cheap and inaccurate Chinese-made survey meters", etc., etc..

Misato City in Saitama Prefecture is in the "corridor" of the radioactive plume that reached from the north and continued on to eastern part of Tokyo and western part of Chiba.

(From the radiation contour map (ver.4) by Professor Yukio Hayakawa of Gunma University; I marked the location of Misato City.)

After concerned parents finally persuaded them to measure the radiation levels in schools within the city, the city government started to measure, using Hitachi Aloka TCS-161 which wasn't working too well. Then the city government upgraded the survey machine to Hitachi Aloka TCS-172B on September 6.

Lo and behold! The radiation levels in school yards jumped; at several schools they more than doubled.

According to Misato City website, here's the survey on August 29 on the left, measuring radiation in the middle of the school yards using the old machine. At these schools, school yards are dirt. The survey on September 12, using the new machine is on the right. The numbers are in microsievert/hour:

The explanation by the city is simply "there is a change in numbers because we upgraded the survey machine."

One interesting thing about the new survey is that the radiation at 50 centimeters off the ground is the same as or higher than 5 centimeters off the ground, across the board, and there is not much drop-off at 1 meter off the ground.

At 0.31 microsievert/hour, if you stand in the middle of the school yard for 24 hours a day for one year, you would get 2.7 millisieverts of external radiation exposure. Of course you don't stand in the middle of the school yard 24/7, but if anything, the middle of a school yard may have lower radiation level than bushes, side drains, roads, and homes.


Anonymous said...

its funnier when you call "Shadenfreude" "Shutterbug[William Shatner]"

Viola said...

I suppose, people there would rather have appreciated to be proven wrong instead of being verified... Their "Schadenfreude" will be small compared to their troubles. Poor people!

Sorry for that, ultraman, I still like your sense of dark humor but "funny" in that context would not be my preferable choice.

Atomfritz said...

I really am amazed.

Look at Hitachi's product information page:

They do not even offer a data sheet with specifications for that counter. So you do not know any detail about important characteristics of that item.

Not offering exact specifications is typical of "cheap Chinese junk".
Remember, exact specifications are necessary to know such basic things like metering range, precision etc.

I really doubt that this gunk is used anywhere outside Japan.

Remember, the USA already in the early 1950's started to map their territory's nuclear test fallout contamination with ultra-sensitive airborne counters.
Germany mapped its territory the same way after Chernobyl.
(That the results are classified up to today, is a different topic.)

Japan of 2011 seems to be technologically behind the USA of 1953.

It is hard to believe, but it seems to be true.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Atomfritz, then the US has gone the long way down since. EPA office in California relies on citizen volunteers to collect the air filters every once in a while and has them mail the filters to a testing lab somewhere in Georgia, because it fits their lifestyle. A good portion of monitoring stations are broken. When they were criticized for not being fast enough with radioactive fallout information, the head of the office was indignant. "They didn't give a boo about it before Fukushima..." he said.

Atomfritz said...

Yes, the US stopped its detailed and intensive metering after the Shippingport disaster.

The Shippingport reactor was the American's "Nukes for peace" program "masterpiece"; it was claimed as the safest and cleanest reactor for long times.
But in early 1970's Dr. Sternglass found out very disturbing facts about fetal deaths, children cancers etc. peaking in the vicinity of the plant.
Maybe the reason for this was due to the gas decay tanks valves rusting and heavy leaking, as reported by an engineer working there that time (please note that this never "officially" had been confirmed, of course).
Sternglass describes this in detail in his book "Secret Fallout". You can read it online here: - see chapter 15 "Fallout at Shippingport".
After these devastating disclosures the nuclear contamination measuring and mapping was cut of funding.

BTW, many thanks for finding this map!
All other maps I saw before only show the immediate vicinity in Fukushima, Ibaraki and Miyagi.

I'd love to see a complete map of Japan's contamination.
There might be hotspots even south of Tokyo, depending on rainfall etc.
At least we can tell from this map, there would be a much bigger area where agriculture should be banned than the Japanese government suggests.

Maybe Japan is very lucky that it doesn't depend so much on agricultural exports like France.

And, I have absolutely no "Schadenfreude".
What happens to our old friends and allies there, it is so sad :(
It also could have happened here in Germany. Our oldest still-running reactor is 37 years old and working in load-following mode it never was designed for. This is calling for mayhem :(

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