Chris Martenson Exclusive: New Photos Of Fukushima Reactors

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Chris Martenson

Exclusive: new photos of Fukushima reactors

Noting that the press has largely turned its resources off of the Fukushima complex, and needing up-to-date information on the status of the damage control efforts there, we secured the most up-to-date satellite photo from DigitalGlobe (dated March 31st), which we analyze below. This is the first photo of the damaged reactor site at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility made available to the public in over a week. That means you, our readers, are the first public eyes anywhere to see this photo.

Drawing upon the expertise of our resident nuclear engineer and Ann Stringer, imaging expert, we conclude that the situation at Fukushima is not stabilized: things are not yet at a place of steady progress in the containment and clean-up efforts. It's still a dance, forwards and backwards, with the workers making gains here and there and the situation forcing them to react defensively.

In this report, we will tell you what we know for sure, what we are nearly certain of, and what we remain forced to speculate about.

Here is a portion of a much larger image (covering 25 square kilometers in total) showing the reactor complex as of March 31, at roughly mid-day:

Photo Credit, 2011, DigitalGlobe

What We Can See

Here's what we can directly observe in the larger satellite image:

  • Steam is still rising from reactors #2, #3 (circled in green) and #4.
  • Of the four reactor buildings, three are nearly or totally destroyed, while the outside (at least) of the fourth is in relatively better shape.
  • We can count 7 fire trucks 'on site' with another 7 just to the north, all with water lines strung out across the ground.
  • There is only one ship/vessel to be seen, located inside of the breakwater and nearly as far to the north as it can go inside that boundary.
  • A significant number of the vehicles that can be seen at the core of the site have not moved since the first released photos on March 12.  
  • There is a parking lot slightly to the north and west with approximately 250 passenger vehicles in it and a side lot with 30 large green tanks neatly arranged in rows.
  • The rest of the area is one, two, and four lane roads (no traffic at all), worked farmland, residential and commercial areas, mostly empty parking lots, and two baseball diamonds.

Here's what we don't see

  • Nowhere in the 25 km area in the main photo can we find anything that looks like a staging area with a large collection of assets such as tanker trucks, pumpers, cement trucks, piles of pre-staged materials, ambulances, and fire trucks.
  • The cement pumper truck seen a week ago has been apparently replaced by the boom at reactor #4.
  • There's no obvious barge delivering fresh water for the rector cooling efforts as recently reported (it may have come and gone?).
  • Any obvious changes to the roofs of any of the reactors.
  • Any people outside the plants working.

Things we can logically conclude

The steam that is venting is a mixed blessing. It implies that cooling water is getting to some hot material, which is a good thing, but it also means that something is hot enough to vaporize water and the continued release of radioactivity into the surrounding environment.

This means that the lack of steam coming from reactor #1 is either a very good sign, or a very bad sign. Good because it could mean that the containment vessels are intact and cooling water is circulating. Bad because it could imply that no water is getting to it and it is a very hot mass right now. According to TEPCO, reactor #1 has had seawater, and now freshwater, circulating through the reactor vessel - and since both containment vessels are intact, we'll conclude the lack of steam is a good sign.

The situation at Fukushima is going to drag on for years. First there's the matter of stabilizing the situation which has not yet been fully achieved. Recent surprises in terms of the amounts and locations of radioactivity are one sign that the situation is not fully stabilized. Still, nothing has blown up in quite a while, the steam venting appears consistent, and the major surprises seem to be over for now. While the TEPCO workers are still reacting to things as they arise, these are smaller things than last week, which is another hopeful sign.

The detected presence of neutron beams, I-134, and radioactive chlorine are all strongly supportive of the idea that criticality has resumed. Our best guess is that these are localized pockets, probably of short duration, and do not involve the entire core mass of any particular reactor conflagrating in some gigantic, greenish blob of uncontrolled fission. The geometries of the fuel in relation to neutron moderators requires precise conditions to support sustained fission and so it is rather unlikely to be occurring in anything other than localized pockets. If the entire reactor in its fully operational state was capable of supporting what we might scale to 100% fission, the amount of fission happening after a partial (or complete) meltdown will be a far lesser percentage. Still, any amount of fission is unwelcome at this point because it is adding to the heat and radiation removal difficulties.

The constantly rising levels of radioactivity found in the seawater are a further unwelcome development, but without a proper isotope analysis we cannot conclude anything about the potential resumption of fission from their gross amounts alone. It's always possible that the leftover fission products are now being washed in larger amounts into the sea for some reason.

Additional Drone Photos

These are the most detailed photos yet to emerge into the public space (released yesterday, March 31, as far as I know), and they are purported to come from a drone flyover on March 20 and 24th.  They are really quite good, and worth viewing in their entirety here.

Beginning with reactor 3, one thing we can say is, this thing is a right proper mess:

(Source for all that follow) 

There's a significant hole to the left of center that goes deep into the sub-structure (with a strange greenish cast that we've not been able to resolve after much conjecture) and it's clear that this building alone will take a long time to resolve.

Interestingly, we get our clearest image yet of the hole in turbine building #3 that was created by something ejected into the air during the reactor #3 explosion.

Looking like one of those cartoon cutouts that happens when the coyote hits the ground, we get the impression that whatever it was happened to be quite heavy and possibly shaped like an Apollo capsule. It has been my suspicion, which contradicts the official story, that the concrete containment vessel was what actually blew up in reactor #3 and I have been looking for evidence of in the form of large, heavy chunks of concrete (especially the refueling plug) lying about. I don't know what made this hole in the roof of the turbine building, but it was heavy.

Reactor #4 provides us with proof that serious damage can result from the effects of an overheated spent fuel storage pool:

Here the watering boom can be clearly seen. A camera was recently attached to the boom and it took some interior shots which were suggestive of the idea that the spent fuel pool is damaged and largely drained of water. Spraying water into this pool, then, is probably a balancing act with the desire to spray enough water on the rods to keep them cool being offset by the risk of having radioactive water drain away for parts unknown.

Almost certainly this same balancing act defines the efforts for reactors #2 and #3 as well.


The efforts at Fukushima are probably weeks away from even basic stabilization and we are years away from any sort of a final resolution. This crisis is going to be with all of us for a very long time. Radiation will continue to escape from the complex into the environment for weeks at best, months or years at worst.

The chief concern here is that things might still take a turn for the worse whereby radiation spikes to levels that prevent humans from getting close enough to perform meaningful operations and work on the site. If the radiation spikes high enough it will force an evacuation from the vicinity complicating every part of what has to happen next from monitoring to remediation.

The general lack of staged materials anywhere in the vicinity indicates that authorities have not yet decided on a plan of action, feeding our assessment that they are still in 'react mode' and that we are weeks away from nominal stabilization.

On Thursday we learned from the Wall Street Journal that TEPCO only had one stretcher, a satellite phone, 50 protective suits, and only enough dosimeters to give a single one to each worker group. Given this woeful level of preparation it is not surprising to see that regular fire trucks, cement trucks, and a lack of staged materials comprise much of the current damage control mix.

We don't yet know enough to conclude how much fission has spontaneously re-occurred, but we have strong suspicions that the number is higher than zero. Here we make our call for the release of more complete and timely radiation readouts and sampling results by TEPCO and Japan so that we can assess what the true risks are. The situation remains fluid and quite a lot depends now on chance and which way the wind blows. 

And as I detailed in the Alert report I issued soonafter the tragic events of the Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 10th, the impact of Japan's tribulations on the global economy will be large and vast. World markets are simply unpreapared for the third-largest economy to suddenly and violently downshift. The persisting crisis at Fukushima simply worsens the picture.

As always, we'll continue montioring developments closely and reporting our findings and conclusions on this site.



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espirit's picture

I hope someone will take the time to read wiki's take on the Chernobyl disaster, especially the releases of radioisotopes. Iodine-131 is punk stuff with a halflife of 8 days, Caesium-137 (also a gamma emiter) with a HL of 28 years, and Strontium-90 ????

Cs-137 most likely accompanied I-131 in aerosol form to parts of the globe where supposedly only I-131 has been detected.

Beware the govt sponsored half truths and continued daily accumulation.

d_senti's picture

Here's a map I made using teh intersphere. I superimposed the Chernobyl fallout pattern onto Japan to scale. Obviously won't be accurate, but gives you an idea of what we're dealing with. I also made a circle around the 100km radius from the plant, since TD and others believe the evac zone will eventually be extended that far. Here you go:

AnonymousAnarchist's picture

If Greenpeace knows how to use radiation detector, then radiation is higher outside the evacuation zone than what has been published.

Ivan's picture

The Essence of American Power

Free market fascism is the only sustainable free market system. Free markets are inherently unstable. That's not a bad thing, but economic cycles produce unemployment which can lead to revolution, or destruction of capital by the government to create demand for excess human supply (e.g. The Great Depression). If being poor and unemployed was a crime then revolutions/destruction of capital wouldn't happen. The first country to adopt free market fascism will experience huge economic growth because the bourgeoisie will be able to accumulate capital exponentially, and replace obsolete human workers with machines without any government intervention to protect the proletariat. In the end, such an economy will attain 90-95% of the world GDP. Everyone else will become mere natural resource exporters because keynesian/socialist/marxist economies won't be able to compete with free market fascism.

Free market fascism comprises 3 social classes:
The 1st (ruling) class consists of people who guard and regulate the system, and protect the capitalists from jealous proletarians (the artificially created middle class in the USA). If there are elections within this system, then only members of this class can vote. Though consulting the capitalist class is still possible. 1 to 10 million people are needed for this class. Tax revenue (approximately 10% of the GDP) from exploitation of capitalists is distributed more or less equally among members of the ruling class. They are the shareholders.
2nd class: capitalists, entrepreneurs, investors, speculators, lenders, rentiers, etc. Up to 1 million people.
3rd class: proletarians, including highly skilled workers, scientists and intellectuals. They are needed in the beginning, but most of them will eventually be replaced with machines and AI. Up to 100 million people.
Japan and Germany have huge economies, yet relatively small territories (less than 400,000 km2). In free market fascism a large population won't be needed either. A territory of similar size can be created (sea platform/artificial island), or the population of a country that nobody cares about can be displaced (Somalia, Colombia, Uganda, etc.)

Selah's picture



I'm a second class citizen!


i-dog's picture

Errrr ... breaking concrete. Literally. :) (though not surprising given that the concrete is 40 years old and permeated with salt water eating at the steel reo bars, which expand as they rust).

What the fuck are they trying to fool the sheeple with now?

1,000mSv/hr? Isn't that the reported upper limit of their on-site dosimeters? It could just as easily be 21,560mSv/hr!

Small crack in a drainage channel? How about they explain that the highly radioactive water must have first come from a crack/hole in the reactor core, or from fission reactions in the spent fuel tubs! (I hesitate to call them "pools", since there appears to be no water in them).

Meanwhile, in other amusing TEPCO news of the day: TEPCO submitted a report to the prefecture government 2 days ago (on March 31st) with plans for expansion of the Fukushima Daiichi facility!!!

They just continue to look more and more competent by the minute.

espirit's picture

According to wiki on the Chernobly disaster at the link I mentioned previously, there were only 6 tons of fuel rods (spent or otherwise), compared to NuKuFuKu which has...??? - alot more than that.

All detectable radiation forms from Japan come from a (or many) fission reaction(s).

robins's picture

I recommend trying to buy Facebook fans. They have been recommended by a lot of bloggers and they can both be trusted. They can actually add fans to your Facebook page without facebook fans logging into your Facebook profile. So I guess they send out thousands of suggestions to people in their network. This will really help you and gets more traffic for your site.

Oh regional Indian's picture

The perception management game is being played in full force, so that the "public" will not know, as usual, till it's too late. The stories out of GOM have to be read/heard/seen to be believed. 

What makes men who play these games do so, is beyond the pale of our common understanding of decency and goodness (basic tenets). it plays well with the false Darwinian dogma of the rule of the jungle (in itself mis-represented), the survival of the fittest.

Fittest for what?


XPolemic's picture

Sounds like Ted Kaczynski.

snowball777's picture

Laughably stupid.

a) free markets and fascism are diametrically opposed concepts

b) any system without class mobility would lead to revolution anyway (10M proles will not idly sit by when 'guarded' by 1)

c) you can't replace 100M people with machines and AI

JeffB's picture

Nah. The instability and boom/bust cycles we've experienced are not an inherent part of free markets. They are a result of jumps and drops in the money supply distorting things.  That can happen via fractional reserve banking, but our problems have been primarily the result of central banks - in our case, the FED - trying to push the economy beyond its sustainable limits. That works for awhile, but when we've stretched the rubber band too far for too long it snaps back, sometimes with a vengengce.

See the nice power point presentation by Roger W. Garrison, Auburn Professor of Economics on the causes of the topic compliments of YouTube:

goldfish1's picture
More sickening news:

Source Of Toxic Leaks Found At Japan Nuclear Plant

TOKYO (Dow Jones)--A source of highly radioactive water escaping into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was identified Saturday, but authorities weren't able to say if the discovery will stop the ongoing contamination that has already spread 40 kilometers (25 miles) into the open seas.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501), the operator of the plant, said it has found a 20-centimeter crack in a two-meter-deep chamber holding cables for the No. 2 reactor, which is believed to be leaking highly toxic water from its nuclear core.

more at link...

goldfish1's picture

TEPCO is considering using a large artificial floating island, a so-called ”megafloat,” to store the tainted water, the agency said,

Here's more:

Stuck on Zero's picture

What a joke.  There must be 100s of oil tankers and liquid transport barges available for the job.

snowball777's picture

Or a Godzilla-class Maxi-pad...

goldfish1's picture

A giant radioactive diaper...I LIKE it.

espirit's picture

Good start. However the prevailing wind was from the west/northwest, and probably north from indicated readings in Tokyo.  A previous article in ZH had/has realtime geiger readings, and flow maps showing atmospheric dispersal of radioisotope, which ebb and flow in all directions. Now where is that link???

The importance of Chernobyl to remember is that it was much worse than initially reported.

espirit's picture

Jim in MN has some real good info on the second half of the second page of posts, but don't forget to read all (well most).

Be afraid, very afraid.

Bazooka's picture

Many are scratching their heads wondering how can the market not tank with an earthqauke shattering, tsunami catastrophe and nuclear meltdown augmented by MENA riots and deaths.

For those who linearly extrapolate, it's a truly WTF moment.

Sentiment is still very uber optimistice (analysts are uber bullish on BTFD, Gold, Silver, nothing can kill this market, all on the same side of bullish ledger).

When sentiment turns, many will ironically scatch their heads as to how the market can plunge or collapse when unemployment is decreasing as well as other positive economic indicators.

I await that turn in sentiment. I am incrementally increasing my shorts (though at a net loss for the year, i admit)....however, when sentiment turns negative, it'll be a spectacular show for the exits.

Monkey Craig's picture

Money printing very positive for asset prices. Plus, wars are inflationary. Thing about the Roman Empire or the American Confederacy. Both were ravaged by inflation during their wars.

cossack55's picture

and you know what happens at the exits when the herd is stampeded.

kaiserhoff's picture

Working only with farm boy engineering so consider the source, but these nice, circular exclusion zones are crappola cubed.

For the benefit of flat-landers (I was one for 22 years) surface winds around mountains and coasts have little to do with winds aloft.  It is a little scary the first time you see clouds going due east and surface winds at a ninety degree angle, but common.  Mountains create a natural wind break and often wind sheer.  Large bodies of water create odd temperature variances that greatly affect air flow.  A meteorologist would give a more elegant description, but here's the bottom line.

Surface winds will often follow the valleys, where highways, train tracks, streams, and cities lie, regardless of what winds aloft appear to be doing. 

Cities exhibit a heat island effect.  Excess heat produced in the cities rises, and pulls in cold air from the surrounding country-side.  Not good news for Tokyo.  The radiated areas from Chernobyl are NOT circular or regular.  Sabe dios.

Oh regional Indian's picture

kaiser, thanks for that brief but en-lightening take on patterns to pay attention to.

Farm-boy engineering works best.


old naughty's picture


back to simple farm-communities, eh?

Our continuing non-believing may require a new planet to re-build that on tho.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Old N, back indeed is the way forward now. More than ever.

And I have some plans for terra (firma or otherwise, we shall see).

The place to plant the seed is not too clear....yet! ;-)


Pchelar's picture

I think it was GK Chesterton who once quipped that if one is on the wrong path, than the only way to correct the matter is to go back to where one started.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Wise words Pc. Especially if the fork on the road is a long way back, eh?


old naughty's picture

Pc. Back to [live] the future, literally. But the deed is in, consciousness speaking.

Some would see bury in the sea is solution and I asked for whose benefits, see my earlier post below.

The Horseman's arrow would just keep hitting until we follow the fork back to simple [and live from the heart] life or wonders if china syndrome could in-deed happen, splitting Earth?

Spalding_Smailes's picture

Wow ....... 

Goldman Sachs Almost Doubles Blankfein Pay Package to $19 Million for 2010

....... Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) awarded Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein $19 million in compensation for 2010, almost double the prior year, and granted him the first cash bonus in three years. " .........................



Straykitty's picture

Here in Central Texas, we plan small farming by the winds, which are almost constant.  The weather map isobars, in patterns past, placed us in the dead zone between the northwestern flow from the Pacific coast and the south winds ffrom the Gulf of Mexico.  Recent upheavals have distorted these patterns.  For instance, this week we had a 40-degree temperature variance with 20-mile-an-hour winds and a humidity factor of 32 percent.  That, in anyone's book, is a killing situation.

It's hands-on, loving care, for anything planted in the ground.  What with natural gas frackking putting saline in the ground water and the rain containing residue from Core Exit, you require a farm-boy engineering degree just to grow a tomato.  Our environment, alas, will seem like Paradise for poor Japan.

tip e. canoe's picture

kitty,  u may want to consider exploring EM (effective microorganisms) for your soil:

ironically enough, the EM product was developed in Japan.   it helps soils that suffer from high salinity and toxicity.  the stuff is not cheap, but a little goes an extremely long way and if you get really good at it, you can learn how to make it yourself.  

it's magic stuff and your plants will love you for it.  i've been using as a foliar spray on a little winter garden project in an environment much like what you described but colder and i had greens galore.

goldfish1's picture

It's hands-on, loving care, for anything planted in the ground.

Ain't it the truth. even then a bout of too much water can kill the best of efforts.

Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for and mindful of the years of plenty.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Core Exit indeed Straykitty. 

We need to dig deep for original wisdom. What is happening now has hapened before and the species came through. Who though? And how?

Wonder which mindless moron junked your insightful comment.


old naughty's picture


The discipline to never harm earth (soil) must be adhered to by all living here. Perhaps ZH2 can be started to inform/advise on farming matters?

I am afraid massive removal will likely take place soon if Japanese would like to see/feel/enjoy paradise. Hell is revealing itself soon. :-(((((((((((


Stormdancer's picture

Not to mention the role of rainfall.  A rainstorm can result in much higher levels of contamination in pockets much further from the reactors than closer spots that didn't get rained on while the radioactive cloud was passing over.


You're so right about the folly of these neatly traced circles....thanks for the post.

moneymutt's picture

I really don't understand the circle thing, on Fachel Maddow show that has done some decent intermittent coverage on this and who actually lets her expert guests talk a bit, they put a really rough map together that pretty much explained the high readings in the one town just outside mandatory exclusion zone...there was a line of problems pointing right in the direction of that town which may likely be due to prevailing winds, topography etc. I know Japan has a lot on their plate but you couldn't get radiation experts from even a smallish country to do the task of figure out a "contour" map of contamination around the plant once a week? I likely the edges of the contours look like a many pointed star, or maybe a lot like the topo contours are the area.

This is a hugely important issue, there are some areas that may have valuable businesses, factories, that are in the circle that maybe are not all that bad to go to to do some recovery for, they have bodies lying around...and then there are other areas that should be evacuated now that are not.

Circle, really? This is all you got along a mountainous coast line, circles?

goldfish1's picture

Many are scratching their heads wondering how can the market not tank

Jim Willie:


"Call it the EMERGENCY G-7 YEN SELLING PACT or coordinated Japanese support, no matter. It will become the biggest, most grandiose coordinated monetary initiative in modern history...

They can rescue the Yen, but not the USDollar, the new toilet paper with green embroidery.

Tremendous emergency funds have been appropriated and set aside by the Japanese Govt for financial market rescue & support. More funds have been devoted for relief efforts, worker crews, earthquake & tsunami cleanup, body retrieval & searches, and reconstruction. The price will be even larger than reconstruction & relief efforts. A total national meltdown is being averted, or delayed."

moneymutt's picture

Japan has their own currency to do with what they wish because they have their own central bank and their debt is internal, no bond vigilantes, no spikes in interest, whole country bears burden in interest paid/interest rec'd, there can be generations that relatively win/lose but burden is spead and no foreigner like Soros will get rich off their misery, which means such money will be retained in their country. 

Have you noticed that even tho Japan has lower per person GDP than U.S.their population was much better off, had much higher standard of living than general U.S. worker, even with our higher GDP. All those cars and house in videos of tsunami were very nice. No pockets of extreme poverty like in Katrina videos. Older people retire and living in nice, decent houses with nice clothes etc. So they make good wages, have good social safety net AND their businesses are doing well, competing all over the world, exporting big time.

And Japan also had more debt per GDP than Portugal and Greece before this happened  and still their country has not collapsed. To me it is a sign of monetary/financial system that works for the good of the people, in general, and does not leave their banking and money printing capabilites overly in the hands of elites or to the wolves of foreign rich monied interests.

And that supposed lost decade, not so lost for Japanese worker, stock prices and real estate values are not the only measure of fact when real estate dropped, cost of living in Japan got much more affordable. 

This will no doubt be very very hard on Japan, but given their more patriotic and nationally loyal monetary and finanical set up, they weather immensely better than many other, even very rich, countries would.

Think about it, if you are a worker, your wages are high, unemployement is steady a less than 4 percent, you have good benefits, everyone can retire nicely at a decent age, there are few poor/destiture people in your country, your govt provides excellent infrastructure and services you domestic businessses are doing well and exporting, but national real estate prices and stock prices have gone down, how do you feel about life? They had a HORRILBE bubble burst, at one point there real estate values in Tokyo were 350 times higher than Manhattan. Think of how bad off U.S. would be right now if real estate and stocks had dropped 70-80 percent, rather than what has occured, and yet you have not seen tent cities and mass destitution in Japan, Japanese worker not even a bad off as current Ireland after after their real estate bubble etc. If you are a rich investor in assets, how do you feel? The lost decade(s) in Japan were lost investments in due to an aging country with little population, but even tho they young Japanese warkers are supporting their elders very well, the workers did just fine.

Its not that all has been rosy in Japan, that they don't have corruption issues, a mafia, and maladaptive use of resources and that there are not some very poor people, but relatively speaking, they have done much better by their people with their wealth than many countries.

Some food for thought on Japans economics

" Between 1990-2007, GDP per working age adult increased by 31.8% in the United States, by 29.6% in EU.15 and by 31.0% in Japan. The figures are nearly identical! Japan has simply not been growing slower than other advanced countries once we adjust for demographic change. That's pretty interesting. Is Japan's "Lost Decade" (more like two decades now) just a statistical artifact caused by an aging workforce? ....Japan's productivity per hour worked, it's worth noting, is well below U.S. and European levels no matter how you measure it."



snowball777's picture

You think the 95% of public debt owned internally will remain so when millions have to flee their poisoned island?

AnAnonymous's picture

The contamination is there for sure. No exodus by millions. The contaminated environment will be shipped away, dropped on other populations, japanese people will bite the bullets and accept their life is going to be shortened by days, months or years.

moneymutt's picture

I can't predict the result of this disaster, likely not going to be that bad, likely to really pollute much of Japan and nearby ocean to some degree and pollute many other places, likely to cause all sorts of trouble in food supply etc...


My point is a seperate one, if you are surprised Japan is not collapsing as much as other countries I think there are financial/monetary reasons and we should pay attention, because our central bank is not so interested in our common wealth and our debt is owned by many foreigners that do not even have to worry about the pitchforks and torches like doemstic politicians do...

MGA_1's picture

I think we are watching the graceful trasition of the US from the service economy into the printing economy...

Id fight Gandhi's picture

I am one of thm scratching his head.

In addition we have:

Oil soaring, which up until 2 weeks ago took the market down on every blip up, thats gone

Worsening house data, that never matter anyway

More MENA fights without end

Eurozone collapsing while nobody cares