Today's humanitarian news:
The death toll has passed 11,000.
More than 17,000 are still missing. (source: Kyodo News)
Today's nuclear situation analysis attempt:
Short version: I don't know what the hell is going on with it anymore.
Longer version: It's extraordinarily confusing to try to figure out what is really happening. Every article and headline I read alternates back and forth between "things are bad but stable" and "something bad happened again".
My understanding is that the immediate plant area is fairly dangerous and the coolant water is not only radioactive to the point where it can harm people stepping in it (without proper equipment) but they also don't necessarily know where it's coming from or what to do about it. That water also may be spreading throughout the building and associated tunnels; fingers crossed that it doesn't reach the ocean. (sources: NHK World, Kyodo News)
The three workers that didn't have tall enough boots for wading in radioactive water spent a few days in the hospital but were released yesterday with a clean bill of health. (source: NHK World)
Prime Minister Kan visited the plant today, and one of the things that came out of that visit was that it's highly likely the plant will be decommissioned after they get the situation under control. (source: Kyodo News)
The sea water near the plant is much more radioactive than it should be. I'm not clear on how this will impact the marine animals or fishing industry, I'm not sure anyone can make a credible guess yet. (source: NHK World)
Last week, the drinking water in Tokyo briefly had levels of radioactive iodine that made it unsafe for infants to drink, but was still fine for everyone that is not an infant. (Boldness for emphasis because sometimes people only read the first part of a sentence bearing scary information.) That lasted for a day or two, it has since gone back down to perfectly safe levels for everyone. I'll fill some empty drink bottles with water and set them aside on the off chance I need them, and I am currently drinking some delicious apple tea for the sake of the cause. I'm hoping they just end up taking up space until the situation is resolved.
Plutonium has been found in the soil around the plant, but experts of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency say that there is no immediate threat to human health. TEPCO says the amount found is just about the same as found in most soil, but I read in another article that Plutonium doesn't occur in nature, so I'm confused. (linked sources: Kyodo News, MSNBC)
Some experts are disagreeing on what would be the best course of action, according to an MSNBC article. With the exception of one expert being kind of a jerk ("[the other expert] doesn't know as much as he says,") and the author's use of, "Ooh, snap!" it seems like a good article. The video, though...I really like Michio Kaku, I have mad respect for him, but I don't know if he's accurately assessing the problem or making good TV. Hurting his credibility on this issue is when he said that there were only 50 workers in the plant. This article from Kyodo News says there are 400 and goes on to describe their daily life.
I'm pretty dismayed that they haven't gotten this under control yet, but I'm still hoping they will soon.
Today's Examples of How Life in Tokyo is Pretty Danged Normal:
Our first grocery trip after the earthquake we were told at the checkout that we could only get one loaf of bread. Since then, I've been trying to get only one of each item because I don't know what is rationed and what isn't and I lack the language skills to ask.
Last week, toilet paper and eggs were back on the shelves. Not much bread (if any) but plenty of cake and pastry; no milk but lots of ice cream and cheese; water was sold out but there was plenty of juice, tea, soda, coffee, and alcoholic beverages to choose from.
It's sunny and very nearly spring-like today. There have been no noticeable house weebles since the 6.5 magnitude earthquake up north yesterday morning. It was in more or less the same place as the Big One, but significantly less powerful. There was a brief tsunami warning for the northeastern coast, but I don't think one ever happened. It was definitely noticeable here, but I didn't need to spring out of bed and I don't think Crooked even opened his eyes.
Our college semester has been delayed by two weeks and our class starts next Tuesday; it might be more intense because of the shortened time frame, but we'll proceed as planned.
The cherry blossoms are out, 6 days later than last year. I haven't really gone out to see them yet, but I'll try to do that soon. (source: Kyodo News)