Answer to Question #9935 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Additionally, the situation has continued to improve with respect to releases of radioactivity and effects on areas closer to the site. As of around the end of September 2011, the Japanese government lifted advisories that extended to individuals within about 12 to 19 miles from the reactor site; this means that such individuals who had been requested to evacuate the area or, in some instances remain inside to the degree possible, may now return to their homes and resume more-or-less normal lives.
Monitoring of both external radiation levels and radioactive contamination of food and other media continues. Also, as of the end of September, the three affected reactors had cooled to or below 100o C (near the bottom of the reactor core vessels) and are proceeding towards a declared condition of “cold shutdown,” a condition that will be declared when the temperatures reach 90o C.If you should decide to do any touring much outside of Osaka, and you expect to be within 30 miles or so of the Fukushima reactor site, you might expect to find some locations where radiation levels and radioactive contamination are measurably above background, but not at levels that I would be especially concerned about significant exposure from routine activities. In such situations I would, however, recommend that you avoid eating locally grown foods that might be available from local farmers and that may not have passed through the government inspection process. This is a simple precaution to take account of possible food contamination so as to avoid unnecessary intakes of some radioactive products that were dispersed from the reactor site.
I hope you feel comfortable about the current situation and that you fully enjoy your trip.
George Chabot, PhD