No polish right now, but maybe I’ll post some Plutonium Green later. Actually, plutonium is a dull-silver gray, but in my mind I’ve always imagined it was neon green. Perhaps from reading too many comic books?
Plutonium was found in the soil at everyone’s favorite runaway nuclear power plant. Of course, TEPCO pulled out their favorite phrase, “We believe the level is not serious enough to harm human health.” They blamed part of the presence on historical nuclear weapons testing. The president of TEPCO is hiding out and has not been seen in quite some time in public. He ought to be at his ruined power plant, doing some cleanup. Perhaps he could do it without the proper protective gear, just like the workers TEPCO hired for the cleanup.
Yes, two workers laying cables were standing in a puddle of highly radioactive water and reportedly got exposed to 2-6 sieverts of radiation while doing repairs. 4 sieverts is the LD50, or the dose that will kill 50% of people exposed. The radioactive water got into their boots and burned their skin. But no one’s giving the names of the affected workers, at least not for now, so I guess we’ll never really know what happened. Things change every second, reports get retracted (always in TEPCO’s favor) and everything is so muddy that no one knows what is going on.
But plutonium leaks are a whole new ballgame. I did a little research on it and while exposure to it doesn’t mean instant death, it is not something I want in my body. It’s not quite as toxic as I imagined, but it’s still nasty stuff. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the lifetime cancer risk is raised 1% for inhaling 5,000 plutonium particles.
So while life looks pretty normal in Tokyo, I think everyone is still unsettled. It’s gone from outright fight-or-flight panic we experienced in the first days, when one or two reactors per day blew up, to a more mundane kind of terror that perpetually lurks just below the surface. We’re sort of all just waiting for a resolution. The overheating reactors are mostly under control, at least. But I don’t think I’ll really rest easy for a while.