Saturday, March 12, 2011

Disaster du Jour

This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. and unfortunately checked my Facebook page and emails.  Today's disaster is the explosion at a nuclear plant in Japan that released an unknown quantity of radiation. One of my FB friends, who is in the PR biz, said that he heard the fallout would reach Los Angeles in 10 days.  There is a map circulating on the internet showing such a dispersion but others are calling it BS because the amount of radiation released is not known yet (so such a projection cannot be done), the logo on the map appears to have been taken from a business that has nothing to do with fallout projection and the measurement unit on the map is apparently wrong.  At 4 a.m., however, I did not know that it was heavily disputed so my anxiety level skyrocketed.  I started to think about packing up the family, getting in the car and driving east to the other side of the Rockies to see if we could avoid the fallout.  "Dear school,  Please excuse my grandson from kindergarten for the next 2 weeks. He needs to get away from  the nuclear fallout. "

Map of disputed reliability projecting fallout from Fukushima Daiichi

On the good news front, just about everyone I know in Japan has checked in and is safe, although one friend's relative is stuck on a train with no estimate of when they will be able to move again.  Colleagues at my company are trapped in their office building.[Postscript --This made the main stream news] Reportedly there is a rush on markets to stock up on food and drink.  That happens here on Super Bowl Sunday which reminds me of the competing "disaster" du jour which qualified as breaking news- the real possibility of no NFL football in 2011.  I told you this paragraph was the good news front!

As for the dead fish nearby, the tsunami slowed down cleanup efforts but not the ongoing CSI type investigation (as the LA Times describes it) of the cause of the fishicide.  One of my favorite theories is the wrong turn theory that the fish made a wrong turn and bunched up on each other.  A new theory today suggests that a toxin caused brain damage that led to the wrong turn.  Hopefully the people dealing with the dead fish that planned to use them for fertilizer are not themselves brain damaged so that they take this theory and the presence of the neurotoxin into account before recycling the dead fish into our food system. Then again, it might be better than some of the processed foods we already eat!  After all, it is fish and a source of healthy omega 3s!

On the tsunami front, not much ever happened here.  The news hyped that Santa Cruz was hit hard, but I understand that was an overstatement.  However, I do have a new appreciation for the signs in Culver City about it being a tsunami evacuation zone.  I understand that the tsunami in Japan went as far as six miles inland which, if here, could reach Culver City.  I guess I should stop making fun of the signs.

And this just in, the nuclear "accident" at Fukushima Daiichi  is not as serious as thought or as other recent major accidents.  The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that on a seven point scale, this accident is a 4 while Three Mile Island was a 5 and Chernobyl a 7.   Of course, there are two plants that are having problems cooling off so we will keep our fingers crossed that nothing worse happens.  Somehow you have to think that the iodine they are distributing to those in the area of the plant is not much of an offset for radiation poisoning.  Images of Hiroshima return to my head.

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