Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan may have reached Oxford\’s dreaming spires, according to recent findings.
The Fukushima plant, which manages six boiling water reactors, was hit by a 14-metre high tsunami generated by the Tohoku earthquake on Friday 11th March, knocking out the emergency generators which sparked the ongoing nuclear crisis.
The news came shortly after The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) announced that an air sampler in Glasgow recorded traces of the radioactive isotope iodine roughly 6,000 miles from the site of the Fukushima disaster.
Shortly afterwards a statement from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that \”measurements taken at HPA\’s monitoring station in Oxfordshire… found trace levels of iodine-131 in the air.\”
Despite fears that the Fukushima nuclear disaster could have ramifications in Oxford, Professor Paul Ewart, Head of Atomic and Laser Physics at Oxford University\’s Clarendon Laboratory, says that in Britain \”there is absolutely nothing for anyone to worry about\”.
According to Ewart, \”there is far more radiation around us from natural sources than that from this particular source.\”
\”The fact that it has been detected tells us just how sensitive is the apparatus that has been developed to measure radiation.
\”There are roughly 20 million million million atoms in a cube of air about the size of your finer tip. At the radiation level detected here in Oxford (300 microBecquerels) you would have to wait over 100 years for one of these (iodine) atoms to decay.\”
Ewart added, \”anyone who flies in an airplane will get vastly more radiation from cosmic rays in the atmosphere than from the radiation from Fukushima.\”
Wade Allison, MA DPhil and Senior College Lecturer in Physics at Oxford University, told Cherwell that \”radiation safety is about 1000 times too cautious.\”
\”There have been no radiation fatalities in Japan. A few workers have received intermediate doses but it is very unlikely that they will suffer any long term effects at all.\”
In response to comparisons being drawn between Fukushima and Chernobyl, Allison added that \”no worker at Chernobyl who received such a dose is known to have had any lasting health problems.\”
Although experts have emphasized a tendency to overreact when faced with the threat of a nuclear disaster, the death toll in Japan caused by the recent catastrophe continues to rise.
The Japanese National Police Agency has officially confirmed 11,362 deaths, 2,872 injured, and 16,290 people missing across eighteen prefectures, as well as over 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.
A source in Japan told Cherwell, \”my family is living in Tokyo and because they are in a TEPCO service area, they are directly hit by a power shortage\”.
TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) own the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini powerplants and have had to introduce rolling blackouts due to power shortages after the initial failures at the Daiichi plant.
Our source commented that \”people are in a sense panicking but still in order and their spirit is still very high\”.
In a recent press release, Oxford University Japan Society (OUJC) described their fundraising campaign for the British Red Cross\’s Japan Tsunami Appeal.
\”Our fundraising effort, which started on Tuesday the 15th of March, was conducted at the Carfax Crossroads in Oxford City Centre, just outside of the HSBC Bank.
\”Around 20 people helped with the fundraising which lasted for a week, and we were able to raise a sum of Â£13,582.32\”.
Ronan Sato, president of OUJC said \”fortunately we have not received any notices of members being personally affected but should there be anyone OUSU have told us that they are prepared to give such individuals all the necessary support.\”