I received two e-mails today - one about Iitate from Masashi and another from Peace Winds America about the work they are doing in the region.
Masashi wrote that the March 23 newspaper reported that high levels of radioactive caesium were found from soil taken at Iitate village on March 20th. It is 163,000 Bq per 1 kg of soil, which is four times higher than the permitted level within the designated radioactive control area. Caesium is very slow to degrade, so it is a great concern for farmers.
Today the Japanese government has suspended the sale of several additional types of vegetables and raw milk produced in the four prefectures, i.e., Fukushima (Iitate is part of this prefecture), Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki. This is also a significant blow to farmers in these areas. The growing season of many crops is approaching so many people are concerned with this situation.
Tap water in other areas is also affected, Today, 210 Bq of radioactive material (iodine) was found in tap water in northern Tokyo. This level exceeds the 100 Bq which is the maximum level for drinking water for babies. The Tokyo metropolitan government decided to distribute bottled water to families with baby less than
12 month old. Wind and rain seem to contribute to the expansion of the affected area.
Because of the news regarding radioactive materials in drinking water, mineral water is sold out in many shops in Tokyo (see picture).
The earthquakes have not ended. We had 3 large aftershocks today.
Since the Tokyo area is still under such a disrupted condition, 26 embassies of foreign countries in Tokyo have already closed and gone to their home countries or moved out to other cities of Japan, such as Osaka and Hiroshima.
Mao wrote to tell me that she is off to the field tomorrow - with officials from Mercy Corps. She sent a message to Peace Winds America about the tax deduction issue, and I received the following information from them regarding their work and registration.
"I wanted to let you know that if Peace Winds America receives donations for the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, 100% is passed to Peace Winds Japan, our sister organization. Donations are tax-deductible but that may not be of use in Canada unless someone is also filing US taxes. Not sure of the Canadian tax rules.
Ms. Sato and the other Peace Winds Japan staff are working 24/7 helping to respond to the disaster. We have focused our efforts on four cities--two in Miyagi prefecture (Kesennuma and Minamisanriku) and two in Iwate prefecture (Ofunata and Rikuzen Takada)--all terribly devastated. Food, clothing, heaters/cookers and kerosene, medical assistance,--immediate relief. Later will come recovery/rehabilitation.
The office works without being consumed by the various news/misnews of the nuclear reactors and potential radiation."