Bitterness in Japan

From Reuters:

Soaring Radioactivity at Japanese Plant

(Reuters) - Workers were withdrawn from a reactor building at Japan's earthquake-wrecked nuclear plant on Sunday after potentially lethal levels of radiation were detected in water there, a major setback for the effort to avert a catastrophic meltdown.

The operator of the facility said radiation in the water of the No. 2 reactor was measured at more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour, the highest reading so far in a crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

That compares with a national safety standard of 250 millisieverts over a year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says a single dose of 1,000 millisieverts is enough to cause hemorrhaging.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. later said the extremely high radioactivity readings might have been wrong, adding the levels were being re-checked.

"The situation is serious. They have to pump away this water on the floor, get rid of it to lower the radiation," said Robert Finck, radiation protection specialist at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, speaking before the operator expressed doubt about the high reading.

"It's virtually impossible to work, you can only be there for a few minutes. It's impossible to say how long it will take before they can gradually take control."

At Chernobyl in Ukraine a quarter of a century ago, the worst nuclear accident in the world, it took weeks to stabilize what remained of the reactor that exploded and months to clean up radioactive materials and cover the site with a concrete and steel sarcophagus.

Murata's daughter, Hisae, said the government had not helped them.

"I want to go back home, but the situation is impossible," she said. "I applied to the government to get a temporary house, but we need a certificate to say the house was destroyed. Now all the temporary houses have been taken. We thought the government would come to us, but we need to go to them."


The situation in Japan continues to deteriorate. Lack of up-to-date factual information is preventing the public from assessing the full impact of the nuclear catastrophe. While government authorities have a certain responsibility to maintain law and order, there appears, to this writer, to be a deliberate suppression of information regarding the progress on cooling the reactors over the past 10 days. This is a rather chilling reminder of the Chernobyl incident, where the Soviet authorities deceived the world for weeks about the extent of the radioactive contamination. It was scientists in Sweden who measured the presence of radioactivity in the air that brought the accident into the light.

What will the full extent of the damage be to Japan beyond the human and infrastructure damage?

We see a psychological effect on much of the populace that appear to be less trusting of government reassurances.
We already have reports of the supply chain in automotive parts being disrupted as Ford is idling its assembly plant in Belgium.
We may see Japan sell US treasuries to pay for some of the rebuilding efforts.
We may see greater Quantitative Easing to stimulate the economy.

It will take years to measure it, as Chernobyl incident of 1986 demonstrated.

An interesting notation from Wikipedia - the Ukrainian word for the bitter herb Wormwood is "chernobyl"
The city is named after the Ukrainian word for mugwort or wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris), which is чорнобиль "chornobyl". The word is a combination of the words chornyi (чорний, black) and byllia (билля, grass blades or stalks), hence it literally means black grass or black stalks. That may signify burnt grass, perhaps prior to cultivation.

Another interesting note on "wormwood" is found in Revelation 8:10-11:

And the third angel sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters: And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

And a final note relating to this word is found in Exodus 15:23:

And they came into Mara, and they could not drink the waters of Mara, because they were bitter: whereupon he gave a name also agreeable to the place, calling it Mara, that is, bitterness.

As we noted above, the effects of radiation and tsunami upon the Japanese people are long lasting and devastating.

Fukushima, whose name means "Good fortune island", metaphorically is Japan's Wormwood, or Mara.

More literally it is Japan's Chernobyl.


  1. Great stuff, we are on the same page.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Great post PW.

    The word "Epic" comes to mind here/



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