UPDATE: An English-langauge article on it is up now at Joongang Daily.
ORIGINAL POST: Okay, so… don’t panic. (Yet.)
But yeah, they’re detecting the first traces of radioactive xenon from Fukushima in Korea. (Source article, in Korean.) It’s been detected in the Eastern province of Kangwon, which is to the west of Seoul and over some mountains — that is, on the coast facing Japan. One claim is that the radiation circulated down into Korea after passing over Siberia/Kamchatka, which sets up a disturbing (to me) bit of evidence that, hope as we might, not everything is blowing eastward and into the Pacific.
The good news: currently, dosage is small, providing a dose of 0.000650 nanosieverts/hour or something like that… (I’m working from a Korean newspaper article, so clarifications are very welcome.)
The take-home message is that it is not a massive addition to the natural background radiation we’re all surrounded with; the xenon is notable mostly because we can be pretty sure its origin is Fukushima… because when you have xenon, you have fission reactions. This means at least some of what’s coming south on the wind is coming from Fukushima. Which is hardly surprising: that’s how wind and particulate matter works: it’s to some degree stochastic.
Of course, given the dispute between Greenpeace and the Japanese government over the “safety” of levels of radiation outside the evacuation zone, I think it’s wise for people to reserve some of their trust from the “authorities.” But I don’t think it’s time to panic… yet.
Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder what the realistic scenarios for resolving the Fukushima situation itself really are. There’s lots of talk of how this is going to take weeks to solve, but it seems like every few days a new, massive setback is being uncovered. How many of those massive setbacks can happen before something simply explodes is something about which I can’t seem to find a straightforward article… everything seems to be tinged with optimism that we haven’t really yet earned, or seen a lot of reason to honestly feel, given the conditions of work going on in the plant as described by someone who was working there.
But right now, even with conditions that are unlikely to help, even with the Japanese government being accused of neglecting to protect its citizens, the only option there seems available to anyone is to wait and see what happens.