How Close Do I Live to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant?

By Donnie | Articles

I wanted to make a quick video to express my gratitude to my family, friends, colleagues, students, even people I don’t know. Thank you so much for being so supportive during a tough time. I have gotten emails, Skype calls, Facebook posts, blog comments, YouTube messages, and more. People have even been calling my parents to check on me. I am so lucky to have people like you around me.

I also wanted to let you know that I am doing okay today. I’m still keeping a close eye on the situation with the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan. There are people out there putting their heart and soul into getting this situation under control. It’s a serious problem and it has the potential to become even more serious.

My concern stems from my proximity to the plant. Tsukuba is outside of the 20-30 kilometer range that Prime Minister Kahn advised to remain indoors, but many people in Tsukuba (including me) are doing that as a precaution. This video will give you an idea of just where I am in Japan, and why my prefecture is just close enough to the reactor to make me nervous:

I’m not going to panic, because it’s too late for that. But I have my things ready and will probably go to Yokohama today for some “sightseeing.” It just so happens that Yokohama is 200.98 kilometers or 124.89 miles from the Power Plant…that works for me.

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  • Nice post, and very useful for the folks back home. Very thoughtful of you. You had me all the way to the very end when you through the comment about the Mushroom cloud! Eeeeee! LOL Meltdown doesn’t equal mushroom cloud, but I’m sure you know that. Anyway, good luck to you and keep up the updates. Good stuff!

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Loco. Yeah, you’re right, I know about the mushroom cloud thing. I shouldn’t make jokes like that, it’ll only make people worry even more. How are you doing where you are? Is everything cool? Honestly I may be headed your way pretty soon.

  • I think you are worrying way more than you need to and it would be too bad if you spent limited cash on getting away.
    This was not ever going to be another Chernobyl. And certainly not another Hiroshima. That was an atomic BOMB, and a nuclear reactor won’t ever explode like an atomic bomb. An atomic bomb is designed to have a violent chain reaction. A nuclear reactor isn’t.
    Chernobyl was a really ugly situation where a bunch of coal miners tried an experiment with a nuclear reactor that didn’t have a containment (no steel-reinforced concrete shell several feet thick around it) and the reactor core exploded and shot radioactive material high into the atmosphere. The reactor burned for days.
    With Fukushima the reactor is already shut down. At Chernobyl it was powered up with it exploded. So things at Fukushima are much less violent. There might be another fire or an explosion, but it won’t blast material nearly as high into the atmosphere as at Chernobyl, so it won’t travel as far. Japan already evacuated people who were living within 20 km of the reactor, so I think that is as far as they expect it to be dangerously radioactive even in the worst-case scenario.
    Chernobyl caused about 4000 deaths long-term, according to the World Health Organization. A lot of these were cancers caused by people eating contaminated vegetables and milk, because the government was busy covering it up and didn’t tell people not to drink milk from the cows grazing around there. The Japanese government seems far more responsible about keeping the food supply safe.
    So basically if you trust the authorities and stay put, you would save yourself a lot of aggravation. You would be doing a lot more for your health by not smoking, not eating a lot of saturated fat, etc.
    I’ve been following the Japan earthquake on, they have a liveblog about it. People post all sorts of references there to news sources. Also I kind of like the MIT Nuclear Sciences and Engineering blog at
    Greetings from upstate New York!

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks Laura. Sorry for the late reply. Things have been a bit busier than normal. WOW! Awesome comment. Initially I was worried that the nuclear reactor could end up being another Chernobyl, but I think things are starting to stabilize. But it’s still kind of a touchy situation. We hear good news, then bad news, then good news… Over the past few days, there have been infant drinking restrictions in some areas. I my case when I hear that, I think “Well, I don’t want to drink it either! If it’s gonna hurt a small child, then the water’s not safe!” But the radioactive measurements have declined since then. Let’s hope I’m just worrying for no reason. Thanks for the link 😉

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