Japan Offspring Fund(JOF) is a consumer group and environmental NGO established in 1984. We have researched issues involving the safety of daily life, including chemical residues, endocrine disruptors, and genetically engineered food.

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Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
August 2005, No.196

* Survival: how to manage when a big earthquake hits the Hamaoka nuclear plants

When the Hamaoka nuclear reactors in Shizuoka prefecture collapse due to the Tokai megaseism, there will be a catastrophe. How can you prepare to protect lives and avoid the terrible effects of nuclear radiation?

* Kaiten Sushi: how to have fun and eat safely in “sushi bars” (part 3)

We continue our investigation of “sushi bars” to help consumers enjoy this typical Japanese food. In this issue we take a look at cheap maguro (tuna) which turns out to be full of a lot of fat and toxins.

* Codex comes to Japan : Live Internet Radio broadcast

We are pleased to announce that we have gotten permission to do a live broadcast of the Codex Task Force meetings about biotechnology over the Internet. This will be a unique opportunity to listen to the important negotiations.

* Survival: how to manage when a big earthquake hits the Hamaoka nuclear plants

Japan Offspring Fund continues the investigation of nuclear safety. Experts consider that a so-called Tokai megaseism occurs once in 150 years. The last big Tokai earthquake in the Shizuoka region occurred 151 years ago. Thus, a major disaster is already overdue. When the Hamaoka nuclear reactors collapse due to the Tokai megaseism, there will be a catastrophe. How can you prepare to protect lives and avoid the terrible effects of nuclear radiation?

The five Hamaoka nuclear reactors were built in Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan , near Omaezaki, a coastal town on the Izu peninsula. Uranium is used as fuel. The amount of uranium at this location is the equivalent of 5000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In an earthquake, large amounts of radioactive particles will be released into the air. Even if only one reactor should collapse, the effect would be catastrophic. Should several or all five Hamaoka reactors be destroyed, the disaster could be much worse than Chernobyl .

Radioactive clouds

The Chubu Electric Power Co., Ltd insists that their Hamaoka reactors are 100% safe. In our opinion, the effects of an earthquake can never be predicted, so their assessment cannot be trusted. The Tokai megaseism could be up to 60 times as powerful as the 2004 Niigata earthquake. It is almost impossible to estimate where radioactive dust and debris, containing uranium, would fall as it depends on wind currents and wind speeds, as well as climate conditions. As radioactivity can stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time, it can fall anywhere and seriously pollute any spot on our rotating planet.

The key to avoiding the radioactivity is to not get it on your skin or into your body. Living cells will be attacked by the cancer-causing radioactivity. Therefore, Japan Offspring Fund recommends wearing a face mask to avoid breathing the radioactive air. In addition, it is crucial to stay out of rain in the aftermath of a Hamaoka nuclear disaster.

Lack of news

When a large earthquake strikes the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, there is no assurance that the public will find out what has happened. Media is usually quick to report about visible effects, such as delayed trains or shaking buildings. But the image of burning nuclear reactors may perhaps not immediately be shown on TV, as it would cause panic. The telephone communication with the region could also be broken, so there would be no way of knowing what has happened.

Transportation would be paralyzed due to the Tokai megaseism, making it virtually impossible to escape. Getting stuck in the middle of a traffic jam is also a scenario that everyone should consider. This is not the same as just an ordinary earthquake, or, for that matter, just an ordinary nuclear reactor accident. In JOF's newsletter 127 we discussed the difficulties related to a big earthquake affecting the Hamaoka reactors, and especially the risks to people living in Tokyo . We warned that since the Kanto region, including Tokyo , may very well be downwind from the Shizuoka region, a large number of people will all want to escape at once. However, people living in Shizuoka are particularly at risk. In addition to the difficulties of escaping by road, it should also be considered that electricity and water services may be interrupted.

Use a mask

An ordinary cotton face mask is not sufficient to prevent radioactive particles to enter the lungs. Soaking such masks in water makes them a lot more effective, but not to the extent that they would be 100% safe. The best ordinary masks have passed a DS2 level in the national official approval rating system. Such masks cut out more than 95% of dust particles the size of 0.1 microns. For the people living in Shizuoka this would still not be sufficient, so we recommend masks that have passed a DS3 level, cutting out 99.99% of dust particles the size of 0.1 microns. Thinking ahead is important. Make sure to have such masks ready, at home and in your office, as they will be very difficult to buy once the disaster has happened.

Using DS3 level face masks, almost no radioactivity can enter the lungs. There are no DS3 level masks available for children, so we recommend using a DS2 level mask with additional gauze inside. Take care in advance to make sure that your child is breathing comfortably while wearing such mask. DS3 level masks are more expensive, but last considerably longer than DS2 level masks. Also, make sure you stay indoors. Sealing off the doors and windows of the house with duct tape as much as possible is also a good idea. Cleaning and wiping inside the house is also an important way to avoid radioactivity. Use a disposable dust cloth or a towel. Put the cloth in a plastic bag after cleaning, and throw away outside of the house.

Spread the word

Most people do not know about the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, and have not understood the risks associated with a Tokai megaseism. You should consider yourself a leader in your community, with the responsibility of explaining to others how they can protect themselves. Buying masks for yourself and your family should be a priority. Make sure your dearest ones understand how to use the mask. Discuss this issue with neighbours and colleagues as well. In this way, more people will also become aware of the problem of the nuclear reactors in Hamaoka. Even if you do not consider yourself an “activist”, buying face masks shows that you are serious about this problem and others will also start to demand that these five nuclear reactors are shut down. We recommend the 3M mask.

Emergency goods for earthquake and nuclear safety

The following items should be stocked as emergency goods:

Seaweed (tororo kelp): decreases the intake of radioactive iodine which causes thyroid cancer – eat large quantities
Duct tape and aluminum foil: use to seal windows and doors to avoid radioactive particles to enter

Face masks (One DS3 mask will last 24 hours. DS2 masks last 12 hours or less)
Shoe covers
Polyester gloves
Head protection (including hair cover)
Band aid
Plastic bags
Garbage bags

General emergency goods

Water and food
Emergency medical supplies
Sport shoes
Bank cards
Postal savings book

* Kaiten Sushi: how to have fun and eat safely in “sushi bars” (part 3)

Natural tuna: a luxury

Maguro (tuna) is very popular in Japan . It is often cheap at sushi bars. However, there is a reason why the price can be so low. Actually, tuna is so high in fat. This is due to a special feeding practice, where tuna kept in captivity are fed large amounts of sardines, squid and so on. Over-fishing in the oceans for such feed has become a major environmental problem. Such cheap tuna is not for the connoisseur and should be avoided. According to the Marine Products Agency, imported tuna often contain dioxins and mercury. Such toxins accumulate in the fat. This is another reason why consumers should avoid fattened tuna from fish farms.

For pregnant women, there is still confusion in Japan about what levels are unsafe. The Food Safety Commission has recently decided to take a second look at the recommendations to pregnant women, and stricter guidelines are expected. Until then, everyone should consider eating less tuna, and enjoy the luxury of eating a little bit of natural tuna rather than a lot of cheap stuff.

* Codex comes to Japan : Live Internet Radio broadcast

Now we are busy preparing for the Codex Task Force meeting starting Monday, Sept. 19, 2005 in Makuhari , Japan . Since the topic is biotechnology, many people all over the world are very interested in this meeting. We are pleased to announce that we have gotten permission to do a live broadcast over the Internet. This will be a unique opportunity to listen to the important negotiations. Over the next few weeks please check the IACFO blog for updates: http://iacfo.blogs.com/codex/

This is the link to the official agenda (PDF): http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/report/653/bt05_01e.pdf

The first meeting will likely deal with what items to discuss. Some topics that have been suggested include genetically modified fish and “nutritionally enhanced” GMO crops. Japan Offspring will participate as part of IACFO, the International Association of Consumer Food Organization, which has observer status at Codex.



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