FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

119chap.IIIStruggle Against RadioactivityFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Line2. Posting Real-Time Radiation Monitoring Results on the InternetOn Thursday, March 17, Professor Wada of the Department of Cell Science suggested that the labor of 24-hour radiation monitoring could be reduced if the measured data were broadcasted via a web camera. After conducting a verification test, the idea proved to be feasible and was put into practice from March 18. The new device put into operation was a Geiger counter-style radiation survey meter owned by Professor Wada. It was placed on the window side of the courtyard of the Academic Information Center. Chief Examiner Sato, in charge of Information Systems, and Chief Examiner Sakuma handled the set up of the image transmission system. Although initially there was trouble with the server going offline at times, improvements were made, and therefore, stable image transmission was achieved on March 24. It was suggested to the University Disaster Response Headquarters that the measurement images should be widely transmitted over the Internet. This suggestion was approved and broadcasting commenced on March 25. The website included a map showing the locations of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor and Fukushima Medical University as well as a graph showing changes in the radiation levels in Fukushima City (see the figure to the upper right). Explanatory information was provided in English and Japanese. Professor Sekine (who was a non-tenured lecturer at that time) in the Department of Immunology was responsible for the English text. At that time, there were a few sources of radiation level data provided in real time. Consequently, after going live, access to the website increased dramatically, with daily unique access counts rising over 10,000. The broadcasts continue to this day. As of August 3, 2012, site visitors (by access count) totaled over 30 million (see the chart below). http://www.fmu.ac.jp/home/lib/radiation/3. Radiation Surveillance Inside the Hospital and Contamination Surveillance of Incoming Hospital PotientsAs the water supply resumed, the hospital was reopened to incoming patients after the three-day weekend ending Tuesday, March 22. Consequently, the Radiology Department technicians were required to return to their regular duties while the tasks of radiation surveillance inside the hospital and monitoring the radiation contamination for incoming patients was assigned to the faculty of Life Sciences and Social Medicine. In precise terms, contamination surveillance of incoming hospital patients meant separating, at the entrance of the hospital, those people who had come from within a 20 km range of the nuclear power plant (the separating was handled by the staff of the Nursing School), and measuring their radiation level with a Geiger–Müller counter. The measurements were handled by a team of Japan Self-Defense Forces members (from the Chemical Weapons Response Division, dispatched to the hospital after the official Nuclear Emergency Situation declaration), faculty members from the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department, and student volunteers. The measurements took place from 7:00 am, when the hospital entrance opened, to 8:00 pm (later changed to 6:00 pm), with faculty of Life Sciences and Social Medicine arranging the work schedule. Visitor surveillance was conducted from Tuesday, March 22, to Friday, March 25.Monitoring was also conducted within the hospital to assess the degree to which admitted patients had been exposed to radiation. A NaI scintillation counter was used