Monday, March 4, 2013

#Radioactive Japan: Google Japan Is Recording "Street View" in Namie-machi, One of the Most Contaminated Fukushima Towns

Mayor Baba of Namie-machi asked Google to film his town, so that the town's residents can see their neighborhoods and people in Japan and the world remember the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The entire town of Namie-machi (population 21,000) has been evacuated. Part of town is inside the 20-kilometer radius no entry zone, and the rest is inside the planned evacuation zone. Unlike Iitate-mura which is designated as planned evacuation zone but thanks to the enterprising mayor (I don't necessarily mean in a good way) has kept several factories operational ever since the accident despite the high radiation levels, I don't believe there is any business still operating in Namie-machi. (For early days after the March 11, 2011 disaster, read "Trap of Prometeus" series by Asahi Shinbun - see the right column of the blog for the link to my translation.)

The town looks just like as it was abandoned in the days after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

From Google Japan's blog, posted by Keiichi Kawai, group product manager (3/4/2013):

Google では、本日より、福島県双葉郡浪江町内のストリートビューの撮影を開始しました。

Today, Google will start capturing the Street View inside Namie-machi in Futaba-gun [district or county], Fukushima Prefecture.

浪江町は、現在、その半分が福島第一原子力発電所から20 キロ圏内にあたる「警戒区域」と、残り半分が「計画的避難区域」に指定されています。この度、浪江町のご依頼をいただき、Google マップのストリートビューで両区域内を撮影します。撮影は数週間程度を予定しており、数カ月後の公開を目指します。

Currently, half of Namie-machi is in the "no entry zone" inside the 20 kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and the other half is designated as "planned evacuation zone". This time, we received the request from Namie-machi, and we will capture both zones inside Namie-machi for Google Map Street View. It will take several weeks to capture, and we are aiming at making it public in several months.

Google Street View car in Namie-machi (Click to enlarge):

More views in the video (by Google), with Mayor Baba's message:

I wonder if Google is going to measure radiation levels as they drive through Namie and capture images. I hope they do. Without that information, as one can't see radiation, Namie-machi's devastation is indistinguishable from other towns in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate that were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. Mayor Baba wants people to remember the nuclear accident and what it has done to his town and townsfolk.

On March 12, 2011 morning, several hours before TEPCO did the vent on Reactor 1, the Fukushima prefectural government was sending personnel to measure radiation levels in Futaba-gun. I think it is total BS that the governor of Fukushima insisted he and his government weren't informed of any trouble at the nuclear plants (Fukushima I and II). They were measuring from 8AM that day in the areas surrounding both plants.

They came to Namie-machi also. At 8:39AM in Nishihara in Takase Section of Namie-machi, it was 0.04 microsievert/hour. At 8:50AM, in the same place, the radiation jumped 200-fold, to 8 microsieverts/hour. (Details are in my Japanese blog, 7/12/2012.)

Unlike Okuma-machi and Futaba-machi, Namie-machi was not told immediately to evacuate. Namie was not on the TEPCO's list to fax nuclear emergency information (the list only contained the municipalities where the plants were located - Okuma, Futaba, and Tomioka). People took time, without knowing the radiation that was already spreading. Some were taking shelters in a location they thought was safe, but it turned out that they were living in a place with 330 microsieverts/hour radiation (Akougi District in Namie-machi, according to Ministry of Education). They didn't know it, until the NHK TV crew with Shinzo Kimura came and told them about the high radiation level (Kimura measured 80 microsieverts/hour just outside the house) on March 28, 2011.

Just outside the house, Kimura measured the soil. Radioactive cesium (134+137) was 4 million becquerels/kg, iodine-131 was 23.2 million becquerels/kg.

Mayor Baba remains bitter, and we can't blame him.


VyseLegendaire said...

Don't worry, if Google can capture enough irrelevant info on video, we are contributing to the SIngularity which will enrapture as all and thusly solve all of our woes at once.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they'll do the world a solid and also post radiation data.

Anonymous said...

They'll probably go "see, it looks just like every other town so it must be perfectly safe!"

Anonymous said...

Well, it does not look like the other towns... it is not razed like the other cities, yet you do not see anyone around. Futaba machi pictures are the same. These images are indeed heart wrenching.

A tsunami is hard to avoid but why on earth did these folks had to lose their towns? because LDP wanted to do business with the american nuke industry and Tepco wanted to save a few pennies?


kintaman said...

I take it the driver is not a Google employee who will be getting proper health benefits after completing this tour. This car will become contaminated and spread the contamination around Japan.

Anonymous said...

Well, burning debris and other radioactive waste or leaking water into the ocean is a much more efficient way to dilute Fukushima contamination than using a car....

Anonymous said...

>This car will become contaminated and spread the contamination around Japan.

People should learn that radiation is not a contagious disease.

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