Monday, November 7, 2016

Japan: A Radioactive Nation on an Increasingly Radioactive Planet


Japan's car wash septic tanks are emerging as concentrated zones of radioactivity:
Car wash septic tanks emerge as radiation threat in Fukushima. The Japan Times, November 6, 2016, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/06/national/car-wash-septic-tanks-emerge-radiation-threat-fukushima/#.WCCaycmYLHo

Highly radioactive sludge is turning up in septic tanks at car washes in Fukushima Prefecture, and the readings are as much as seven times higher than the government’s limit, auto industry officials say.

While the government-set limit is 8,000 becquerels per kilogram, some of the sludge is giving off 57,400 becquerels per kg, a document obtained by Kyodo News says.

The source of the radioactivity is believed to be ash and soot that stuck to vehicles shortly after the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the officials said Saturday.
I do not find this story surprising at all since Japan's reservoirs have also become highly contaminated in the Fukushima region.

Water and soil have become dangerously radioactive in Japan. In March of 2014, The Asahi Shimbun reported that soil samples taken from 1,939 reservoirs in Fukushima Prefecture contained high levels of cesium, exceeding 100,000 Becquerels per kilogram in 14 reservoirs, and exceeding 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram in 576 reservoirs:
Fujiwara, S. (2014, February 25). Health risk or not? Cesium levels high in hundreds of Fukushima reservoirs. The Asahi Shimbun (February 25, 2014): http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402250071
In June of 2012, reports of highly radioactive black soil began appearing in Japan. On 14 June The Asahi Shimbun ran a story addressing the soil:
S. Nomura (14 June 2012) ‘Radioactive ‘Black Soil’ Patches’, The Asahi Shimbun Weekly Area, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201206140067, date accessed 16 June 2012.
The highest level of radioactivity detected--about 5.57 million becquerels per kilogram--came from black soil collected in the Kanaya neighborhood of the Odaka district of southern Minami-Soma. In 36 out of 41 locations in Fukushima Prefecture where black soil was collected, the radioactivity level exceeded 100,000 becquerels per kilogram. If that level was found in incinerator ash, it would have to be handled very carefully and buried in a facility that had a concrete exterior separating it from its surroundings.

Citizens concerned about the highly radioactive soil brought samples to Tomoya Yamauchi, an academic specializing in radiation measurement. Yamauchi found that the soil contained radioactive cesium at levels of 1.08 million Bq/kg. Other samples of soil brought in from Minami-Soma contained plutonium and strontium. Tokyo also yielded samples of highly radioactive soil. Despite the high levels of radiation, the article reported action was not being taken to remove the soil.

 ‘Because it normally is found on the ground, we believe it is not something that will have immediate effects on human health,’ a Minami-Soma municipal government official said.

Former senior policy advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Robert Alvarez, argued that fully 600 square kilometers were “technically uninhabitable” because of Cesium-137 contamination:

‘Japan Admits 3 Nuclear Meltdowns, More Radiation Leaked into Sea’ (3 June 2011), Democracy Now, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/10/as_japan_nuclear_crisis_worsens_citizen, date accessed 29 June 2011.
No ‘immediate effects on human health’ has become an often chanted mantra.

It is worthwhile to note that radioactivity levels are no doubt highly elevated in concentrated zones in North America as well. It is simply that we have had less testing.

Fukushima 11/8/2016 00:08