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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hiroshima Anniversary Aug. 6 Now 66 years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima

Fukushima Clouds Hiroshima Anniversary
By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO, Aug 4, 2011 (IPS) - Matashichi Oishi, 78, a radiation victim from Bikini Atoll, the site of a U.S. hydrogen bomb test in 1954, will make his annual lone visit this week to commemorate the Aug. 6 anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima 66 years ago.

This year, says the former sailor, battling lung cancer from exposure to high levels of radiation at Bikini Atoll, his message at Hiroshima will go beyond a routine call to end nuclear weapons.

"Against the backdrop of the disastrous Fukushima nuclear plant accident, I will speak of the absolute need for Japan to not only work to ban nuclear weapons but also to completely eradicate dependence on nuclear energy," he told IPS. 

Oishi’s planned speech echoes the emergence of nuclear energy as an equal threat to peace. It gains credence from the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Fukushima and the northeast coasts of Japan on Mar. 11, severely damaging the nuclear plant located there.

Hiroshima became the world’s first atom-bombed city when the United Stated dropped a uranium bomb that exploded and killed almost its entire population instantly in 1945.

The atomic bombing anniversary has long made Hiroshima and Nagasaki city, that was similarly devastated within three days, potent symbols of world peace. The cities are unrivalled leaders in the nuclear disarmament movement.

Like Oishi, the thousands of peace activists, officials and politicians who will rally at Hiroshima to declare their commitment towards a world without nuclear weapons, will also call for a ban on nuclear energy.

A press release by the Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui and his Nagasaki counterpart, Tomihisa Taue, makes the agenda clear.

Drafts of their speeches, released to the media, refer to the catastrophe faced by the people in Fukushima, and appeal to the government to promote renewable energy sources.

Matsui is quoted in the Japanese press as saying: "The central government should take responsibility to deal with the nuclear power generation issue."

Indeed, Oishi points out that a ban on nuclear power has been his lonely cry for the last six decades. He was 19 years old and sailing on a tuna boat when the U.S. carried out the bomb test that radiated his crew and forced the massive evacuation of residents from the surrounding islands.

The incident created an uproar in Japan, but given the political sensitivity at that time - the Cold War and a race to develop nuclear weapons development between the former Soviet Union and the U.S. - Oishi and his colleagues were forced to abandon the pursuit of justice.

Fourteen of the 23 Japanese crew on board the ‘Lucky Dragon’ contracted cancer, and ten died of it.

For Ayako Ooga, who lives in a temporary shelter in Aizu, 150 km from the damaged reactors in Fukushima, her former home, the upcoming Hiroshima anniversary is a time for solidarity.

"We must join hands with other victims like Oishi because we ourselves have become radiation victims," she said.

Prof. Michiji Konuma, who heads the Japan-based World Peace Appeal group, explained that the Fukushima disaster has reinforced the importance of raising public awareness about the dark side of nuclear energy.

Konuma, a physicist, has long campaigned to highlight the risks to human health posed by radiation. To him, the sobering lesson of Fukushima is that it is the fourth nuclear disaster to hit the Japanese people, counting Bikini Island, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"The human tragedy of the past disaster that included fatalities, cancer and other radiation induced diseases, as well as the widespread discrimination faced by the survivors, illustrate the hidden and lingering problems of nuclear power," he said.

"We must sustain the awareness raised by Fukushima and speak out about the dangers we face if we continue to pursue nuclear energy," he added.

Konuma represents a panel of intellectuals in Japan that issued a notice to the government in July, calling for a shift away from dependence on nuclear energy.

The group is also spearheading a public movement to bring in a long-needed debate on the safety aspects of nuclear power in Japan with the aim of creating deeper understanding at the citizen level.

"The difficult aspect of sustaining an anti-nuclear energy public mood can only be met if more stakeholders - from intellectuals to radiation victims - get together. We must not repeat the mistake of forgetting again," he said.

Oishi agrees. "My own story shows how lonely the struggle is in Japan to get the authorities to listen to victims who stay silent for fear of being discriminated against," he said. (END)

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Geiger Counters - Radiation Detection Meters - Handheld Radiation Detector

When it comes to radiation detection meters you really have a wide field of gadgets to choose from, however radiation detectors are the most common to use. First of all if you need to know what type of radiation you are looking for. There are Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation detectors. And also there is neutron emission of nuclear radiation. And all these different types of emissions have radiation detectors for a specific type of radiation that you can buy radiation detector for. Some also measure both Alpha and Beta. Others detect Alpha, Beta and Gamma. While others let you measure Beta and Gamma radiation.

What most people have use for though are Dosimeters you can buy a handheld radiation detector pretty cheap that are good addition to a survival kit. There are different kinds that you can use that will detect radiation. There are radiation badges that will tell you when radiation become high. Workers at nuclear power plants use these to inform them of how much radiation they have been exposed to. Now also children in the Fukushima prefecture have each been given a radiation badge so they know if they are exposed to radiation. Some come in the shape of a pen that you can carry in your pocket while other are made more compact so that you can attach them to your keychain. And then you have what is called a personal radiation monitor. These are also called Dosimeters and also normally called Geiger counters. Although not all use the Geiger-Muller Tube for the radiation detection some use a semiconductor instead. These and mostly the older geiger counters seen are pretty big to carry around, so they might not be best suited for a survival situation where you only need to carry the most important things. However if you have land and want to check radiation around the property and drinking water then these are the geiger counters to get because they are very well built units.

These are the once that you normally see people use. They have different units of radiation detection, because when it comes to radiation there are many standards used. some give the measurements in Rads, while other use Sieverts. Some have the maximum radiation value for the measured radioactivity quite low but they will still give you an idea of the amount of radiation in the area. With the units ranging from between background radiation 0.001 mSv/hr all the way up to 10 Sv/h. Normally a dosimeter will measure radiation in micro siverts per hour. If you were to walk into one of the reactor units at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant you probably would get an error reading from your dosimeter because the radiation levels are so high there.

Note that some places outside the exclusion zone in Fukushima that are too radioactive for people to live in have areas where the radiation levels are above 30 Sv/h. So if you are in a area that have high radiation the radiation detectors would also there go off the scale. However Geiger counters or radiation detectors are still favored as general purpose alpha/beta/gamma portable radiation detectors and radiation detection equipment, due to their low cost and robustness. Most come with an LCD Display that show you the radioactivity in the area. Nowdays you will even get alarm sound and the possibility to connect the device to a computer. Either with a Infrared, Bluetooth or USB connection.

So if you look at the radiation detectors for sale that have this, then these radiation detection meters will allow you to make maps of contaminated areas that show where the radiation is high and low. This also will help you to see which areas are becoming more contaminated over time. With several nuclear reactors in the US and around the world located near fault zones that makes it a danger if a big earthquake would hit the area there is always a good choice to have a radiation dosimeter avaliable. I'm sure many in Fukushima would have been grateful to have dosimeters avaliable at the time of the disaster and I am sure you to would be grateful to have a geiger counter handy when you need one.