A. The answer is no longer a straight yes. Please consider recent developments before planning a visit. Kyoto is one of the most magnificent places to visit for the traveller, family or businessperson, however, Osaka City has started burning radioactive, contaminated and toxic materials very close. The contaminated ash is being released into the air, and buried as landfill on a man made island in Osaka Bay.
Q. Is it safe to live in Kyoto?
A. I can't answer this, because it depends on many individual circumstantial and external factors.
Please read the following to understand why I have this view and formulate your own.
Kyoto is 530 km (335 miles) from the 3 melted-down(through) reactors and damaged nuclear fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Currently, the external ionising radiation(breathing the air) is at a reasonably safe level in Kyoto and is not harmful if you are only visiting for a short time. But there are still dangers for visitors.
The main dangers for visitors to Kyoto or anywhere in Western Japan are:
-what you eat and drink (internal exposure)
-an serious accident or "event" happening at Fukushima Daiichi NPP. Currently, accident-prone TEPCO is attempting to remove around 1331 fuel canisters each containing about 70-80 fuel rods.
-contaminated disaster debris burnt and dumped in Osaka
-a possible and predictable disaster caused by an earthquake, tsunami or human error at nuclear power stations located near Kyoto. These include Mihama, Oi, Monju, Tsuruga and Takahama. The reactors in Tsuruga are situated next to the Urazoko Fault, with many active fault lines running right under it.
After initial test-burning, and despite opposition from local residents, Osaka, under the leadership of Hashimoto, will burn and dump 36000 tonnes of contaminated disaster debris from Iwate. 100 tonnes a day will be burnt and released into the atmosphere in a city of millions of children.[3,4]
Why is this dangerous to visitors? Previously, the danger for visitors to Kyoto was mostly from internal exposure from consuming products originating from Eastern Japan. Unless you consume products like fish from the sea stretching from Hokaido to Ibaraki, Tohoku meat products or certain kinds of radiation bio-concentraters(like mushrooms) in great amounts, a short visit would not prove dangerous.
The human body can tolerate a certain amount of the gamma-emmiting nuclide Cesium. However, there is a high probability that the radiactive materials that Osaka City is forcing on it's citizens will contain alpha and beta emitters like Strontium, Plutonium, Silver, Tritium and others. Simply put, inhaling an alpha-emitter is like eating a hot coal, once it is inside, for over 22000 years(in the case of Plutonium), it will destroy you from the inside.
It is surprising that government officials declear this vague form of genocide as safe. How do they "legally" do such a ludicrous thing? Well, first they don't do a comprehensive test of all toxins, just Cesium. Secondly, they "water down" the test samples. This perfetic lie, doesn't actually change the amount of cesium being transported to Kansai and released, just fools the sample test.
Thirdly, they use inadequate testing methods, like analysing in an amateur manner with Geiger counters or dosemeter.
This disaster debris will be transported right accross Japan, leaving a trail accross the country as trucks pass through Kyoto. Once burnt, the wind will carry toxic clouds over Kyoto, or rain and snow will dump it. The highly contaminated ash will be dumped into landfill, possibily in Yumejima, in Osaka's populous bay. It will then be up to typhoons, heavy rain, natural dispersal, earthquakes, heavy seas, poor management and storage and a multitude of other factors to release this fatal cocktail into the human environment. Fishing boats can be seen around Yumejima, and this danger will last past 3 decades.
Another massive threat(not only to Kyoto, but to all of Japan), would be a further disastrous event at the Fukushima Daiichi Number 4 fuel pools. Powerful earthquakes continue almost everyday, so some experts predict it is only a matter of time...
Contrary to the official Japanese government rhetoric, the nuclear disaster has NOT finished and is ongoing and unpredictable. This means things could change, so check the news regularly!
I personally wouldn't spend too much time in Tokyo. The risk of a massive earthquake, further explosions at Fukushima Daiichi NPP, Fukushima Daini, contaminated food, contaminated pollen, radiation hotspots and the mysterious appearance of a highly radioactive black substance(cyanobacteria) should be taken into consideration.
LIVING IN KYOTO
I believe it is possible at this present time to live in the Kyoto area, if you carefully source food and drink. This situation is under threat by the Noda governments efforts, led by Goshi Hosono(Environment Minister)to "process disaster debris" in Kyoto prefecture, and the very real possibility that another
This would include transporting radioactive materials across Japan, the burning process which would release radionuclides into residential areas, and final disposal of highly concentrated nuclear waste. Much of this debris is known to contain highly dangerous radionuclides(including Plutonium), which as well as being released into the air we breath, will be dumped into landfill or buried in temporary storage. Inadequate measurements of only Iodine 131(not Iodine 129) and Cesium 134/137 are planned by the government as part of its propaganda push. Safety standards for burial sites are also questionable. This will most probably reach the food chain, endangering the safety of fish, shellfish and sea vegetables(both fresh water fish and seawater fish), rice, game, as well as the special vegetables that Kyoto kaiseki cuisine is famous for.
Incinerator sites near residential areas in historic Kyoto, Uji(famous for uncontaminated Japanese tea), as well as Ine and Mizaru, which are one of the last safe havens for unaffected seafood.
THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER
Since the disaster on March 11th, 2011, at least 40,000 trillion becquerels of ionising radiation(including Iodine, Cesium, Plutonium and Strontium amount the estimated 39 radionuclides) were released according to some experts.
This release is still continuing despite the Noda government's declaration of a "cold shutdown" condition. Large parts of the sea are contaminated, and the initial radioactive release was blown across the Pacific Ocean in the direction of the west coast of America and Canada, and reports of contaminated ocean currents reaching The Philippines.
As the disaster is ongoing, extremely harmful radiation, both gamma and "hot particles" like Strontium and Plutonium are still being released both into the environment and the sea. Rain and snow, as well as strong winds that can carry radioactive pollen, are a continuing danger. Melting contaminated snow transfers radionuclides to rivers that flow to the sea, affecting river life and human water supplies, before threatening the contamination of the Japan Sea as well.
A catalogue of failures, mistakes and continuing earthquakes has seen TEPCO continue to poison the sea and air.
Decontamination is largely a myth. Top Japanese companies seek the half billion dollar decontamination contracts, even though the have no experience, or relevant technology. Disposal of highly radioactive decontamination materials, with radioactive half-lives ranging from decades to thousands of years, is undecided. This requires massive amounts of money and resources to prevent recontamination. Final burial site locations that are outside the already contaminated areas of Fukushima run a real risk of poisoning many generations to come all over Japan if managed incorrectly for hundreds of years.
Japan is susceptible to 90% of the worlds earthquakes. Tsunamis are common. At any moment, any other of Japan's nuclear power stations could become a new Fukushima.
FACTORS AND DANGERS TO CONSIDER
CURRENT FEARS OVER THE STATE OF FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
1. In reactors 1, 2 and 3, complete core meltdowns have occurred. Japanese authorities have admitted the possibility that the fuel may have melted through the bottom of the reactor core vessels. It is speculated that this might lead to unintended criticality (resumption of the chain reaction) or a powerful steam explosion – either event could lead to major new releases of radioactivity into the environment.
2. Reactors 1 and 3 are sites of particularly intense penetrating radiation, making those areas unapproachable. As a result, reinforcement repairs have not yet been done since the Fukushima accident. The ability of these structures to withstand a strong aftershock earthquake is uncertain.
3. The temporary cooling pipes installed in each of the crippled reactors pass through rubble and debris. They are unprotected and highly vulnerable to damage. This could lead to a failure of some cooling systems, causing overheating of the fuel, further fuel damage with radioactive releases, additional hydrogen gas explosions, possibly even a zirconium fire and fuel melting within the spent fuel pools.
4. Reactor No. 4 building and its frame are serious damaged. The spent fuel pool in Unit 4, with a total weight of 1,670 tons, is suspended 100 feet (30 meters) above ground, beside a wall which is bulging outward. If this pool collapses or drains, the resulting blast of penetrating radiation will shut down the entire area. At the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, the spent fuel pools alone contain an amount of cesium-137 that is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl.
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