Monday, September 9, 2013

Reality check Japan

Japan is promising a drug-free Olympics. Hey, we don't need performance-enhancing drugs when we have radiation! 


"I would like to state clearly that there has not been, is not now and will not be any health problems whatsoever. Furthermore, the government has already decided a programme to make sure there is absolutely no problem, and we have already started. I will take responsibility and implement this. We have made promises. Now we have a responsibility to meet those expectations," said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Meanwhile, in reality land:
  1. Another revision of peak radiation levels, now up to 2,200 millisieverts, and the discovery that an underground leak is pouring 400 tons of irradiated water a day into the underground reactor chambers at Fukushima is doing nothing to reassure the public that Japan has got a handle on the disaster.
  2. The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Thursday it had found new radiation hotspots near tanks storing radioactive water, but no new leaks. Around 300 tonnes of toxic liquid is believed to have escaped from one of the tanks that hold polluted water, some of which was used to cool the broken reactors, in an episode dubbed the most serious in nearly two years.
  3. Japan is to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a frozen wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant to stop leaks of radioactive water.Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said an estimated 47bn yen ($473m, £304m) would be allocated. The leaks were getting worse and the government "felt it was essential to become involved to the greatest extent possible", Mr Suga sai. 
  4. Media outlets in Japan are reporting that TEPCO now admits it is more likely than not that radioactive water from leaking tanks mixed with groundwater.  The newest problems also may have implications for the planned ice wall, as it may not be able to contain all of the water generated cooling the melted reactor cores without pumping up groundwater. The South Korean government on Sept. 6 announced a fisheries ban on eight Japanese prefectures due to concerns over leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
  5. Why would anyone want to host the Olympics? The cost used to be fairly modest: London’s 1948 Olympics cost £732,268, or about £20m ($30m) in today’s money. Nowadays hosting the games is a different business. The 2008 Beijing games, the priciest ever, are reckoned to have cost about $40 billion
  6. In a poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun Co. and Fukushima Broadcasting Co. 73% of the local respondents were critical of the way the central government has handled the nuclear disaster so far. Only 17 percent gave the government a positive assessment. A combined 80 percent of the respondents were negative about the work to lay the groundwork for rebuilding Fukushima Prefecture. Fifty-nine percent said they believed "little groundwork" has been laid, and 21 percent said "no groundwork" has been laid.
  7. Meanwhile, Atsushi Okawada, 40, an evacuee from Namie who lives in a temporary housing unit in the city of Fukushima, bitterly criticized the decision, saying, "The Olympics won't help the disaster-hit areas." He also slammed the government's comments on contaminated water countermeasure, saying, "The government said such thing just for the Olympic bid. I want it to first support disaster-affected people and take care of the crippled nuclear plant." Fellow Kamaishi resident Keiko Okubo, 72, who lost her house to the tsunami, worries about manpower and construction materials going to the construction work for the Olympics instead of disaster recovery work. Miwa Ise, a 37-year-old teacher in the city of Morioka, said, "As Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe promised to the world that we'll show how much Japan has recovered in the Olympics, he should keep his word." Meanwhile, in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, hardware store owner Atsuo Suzuki, 53, whose house and shop were destroyed in the disaster and who now operates out of a temporary building, said, "It feels like something that's happening in another country."
Hey, did you hear about Kim Kardashian's new grill?

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