March 19 Update

I’m doing a media blackout today- I just can’t stand it anymore. I’ve got my email open for US Embassy alerts but I’m staying off the news. It looks like they’ve reconnected some electricity to the nuclear facility, but no one knows if the machinery is even functional. No two sources say the same thing.

I have no plans to leave Tokyo as of today. I’m not staying to be a tough guy, or because I want to start glowing.  I’m staying because every reliable source, including the US Embassy, says there is low risk to folks outside the 50-mile exclusion zone and the radiation levels in Tokyo are well below risk limits. (I’ve stopped listening to all for-profit news sources. The Japanese are underplaying to avoid panic, which would kill people in and of itself, and the foreign media are overplaying for ratings). I’m staying because I want life to get back to normal. I’m staying because I don’t know if I’ll be able to return if I leave the country, due to visa issues, etc. I’m staying because it looks like the Japanese are finally accepting US help to get things under control and they’ve reconnected power to the plant. There will be no quick and easy resolution to this, and no moment when everyone says, “Ah, it’s all over.” It will be ongoing, but it looks like things are taking a turn for the better.  The Japanese countermeasures are downright cartoonish- dropping water from a helicopter? crowd control cannons? but they seem to be staving off disaster.  The electric is partially restored but no news yet on if the systems it will power are functional. But at least there’s more good news than bad news.

There are still commercial flights from Narita and Haneda. But if I leave, it will probably be to Okinawa or Fukuoka in the far south of Japan. The US had a voluntary evacuation to Taipei, which I thought was an odd choice.  I guess they were just planning on everyone getting an outward flight out. The US evacuation flight had less than 100 people on it, so I think a lot of Americans are staying.

We all understand the biggest risk is if the spent fuel pool in Reactor #3 has a melt down. That one has plutonium in it, which is extra nasty if released into the air. That’s what we’re watching out for. If it goes critical, there will probably be a huge panic, even amongst the stoic Japanese. Nobody can count on evacuation if 36 million people are panicking. Everyone’s playing the odds on this one- if it goes, it’s going to be very bad. But it’s still holding for now.

These decisions to stay or go are not made lightly. I realize I could “wait and see” myself into personal disaster. But if I leave for parts unknown for a week, how do I know things will be safe when I return? What if I leave for a week and the stupid thing goes into meltdown the day I return? If I evacuate, it will probably be permanent. I won’t be able to return to Japan.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the Japanese news reported that the government, briefed by those overly optimistic idiots at TEPCO (Tokyo Electric), refused American help in the early stages and only accepted it when things got really out of control. The US and Japan are arguing about the width of the exclusion zone  (Japan says 12 miles, US says 50).  The US flew unmanned drones over the area yesterday to try and get a better look at the situation, as well as bringing in their own radiation testing equipment. There’s a US nuclear team in Fukushima right now but I doubt they’re at the plant itself. Still, given TEPCO’s track record of coverups and total bungling of the situation, I’m glad there’s some other folks at the scene.  TEPCO probably would have fallen back on their standard crisis plan and attempted a cover-up if international news hadn’t been reporting. “Oh, those weren’t explosions at the reactors. We were just making popcorn.”

I think we’ll know more in the next couple of days. If they’re still doing crazy Hail Mary stuff to cool the reactors by the end of the weekend, then I’m going to take that beach vacation to Thailand a little bit early.

Oh, and the timing of the Illumasqua Toxic Nature collection was perfect, in kind of a grim way. I think I’ll buy the green polish from it at least. 😉

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About nevertoomuchglitter

Nail artist. Wanderer. I'm a color-holic, in fact, it was my love of color that brought me to the nail art world. Well, that, and the fact I was too cheap to pay crazy Japanese prices for nail polish while living in Tokyo, so I had to start mixing my own. That's how NTMG began.
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14 Responses to March 19 Update

  1. Neon says:

    The news here (US) is getting downright stupid about the whole thing. I hope everything works out for the best… I keep watching your blog for updates.

    • nevertoomuchglitter says:

      Yeah, the news in the US must have been awful because it frothed my family up into a near-panic. Nuclear doom in Japan pulls a lot of viewers in, but it’s really rotten to exaggerate so much!

  2. E says:

    This is why I love reading you blog, you’re hilarious! Not only are you hilarious, you’re intelligent. Thanks for your quality blog (totally OT, I know) and thanks for keeping us updated.

  3. Minta says:

    I’m glad to know that you’re still hangin in there and with such a positive outlook too. I do have to agree that the US news definitely dramatizes everything. We’ve actually had a couple local articles here telling people to quit buying out all the anti-radiation pills since they’re all panicking and there’s absolutely no reason anyone stateside needs them. I find it rather sad that the media over here blows things way out of proportion and that the masses just go with it. Anyway, stay as safe as you can and thank you for the constant updates.

    • nevertoomuchglitter says:

      Thanks Minta. I can’t believe that people in the US are buying iodine pills. They’re not exactly safe or healthful to take- it’s better than radiation but they are not without side effects. Maybe those folks have an end-of-the-world fantasy.

  4. aunt lizzie says:

    stay safe and keep us posted

  5. Lucy says:

    I’m glad you have this blog as an outlet. Thank God the US is helping Japan. I should imagine any country want to try their own methods first. I’m glad things don’t seem as grim. It will take such a long time to rebuild things. I don’t know how any country can get everything back to normal. Bad enough with an earthquake but that tsunami really made things more horrific. I pray it all gets sorted out to the good. You deserve a nice, safe holiday. (((hugs)))

    • nevertoomuchglitter says:

      Thanks Lucy! It’s been a great outlet and a good central place to get out news and updates. I’m hoping to get back to just talking about nail polish pretty soon!

      I think the plant operator didn’t know how dangerous the situation was getting, and then didn’t want to destroy their reactors by using seawater. The few details that are coming out are not flattering at all to TEPCO, the nuclear plant operator. They have a long history of cover-ups and I hope they are punished severely. I don’t think they can avoid it this time- let’s hope.

      And as soon as I can sit on the beach in Thailand, drink fruit juice and lay on a hammock, I’m going to be there!

  6. Zara says:

    As always, it’s good to know that you’re still doing well. I think your decision to stay off the news is very smart – I’m very tired of the American news coverage making it sound like the whole world is going to blow up in ten seconds or less. :/

    • nevertoomuchglitter says:

      That’s a good way to put it- I just couldn’t take the news anymore. It’s really disturbing to see how journalists will manipulate photos, quotes and “facts” to paint the scariest, bleakest picture possible.

  7. Michael says:

    I find it really strange that my toilet tank can fill itself with water, but a nuclear power plants spent core-rod pool can’t do the same.

    • nevertoomuchglitter says:

      Yeah, you’d think they would have been more aware of the fact that their cooling tanks started BOILING. Ignorance, greed and the instinct to cover up are just part of the nuclear industry here.

      During one of the more infamous “nuclear events” at Tokaimura in 1999, the local firefighters didn’t even have dosimeter badges, despite the fact that they were protecting a town with a nuclear plant and fuel reprocessing plant with a breeder reactor. It was just not something they thought they needed to have on hand.

      I think the shockingly lax attitude is partly because the Japanese are rather fatalistic, and partly because they think their systems can’t fail. I hope this was such a call that people will wake up, but Japanese society is very resistant to change. We’ll see.

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