Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nuclear Decontamination Law in Japan

The article at Mainichi is strategically vague about who is going to conduct and pay for clean-up

"The central government will be responsible for the cleanup efforts in a no-go zone around the crippled plant and other evacuation areas in the seaside prefecture also heavily hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami"

The article continues on, explaining that decontamination plans will be created by 102 municipalities in 8 impacted prefectures wherein radiation doses exceed 1 millisievert a year, over background radiation and radiation from medical treatment.

The article states that the clean up costs will be covered by the central government. 

The article states that this nuclear decontamination law was actually proposed in August.
I sincerely hope the central government is going to cover all the costs; however, based on previous coverage of this law, I am not sure that is the case. 

On October 11, I posted a link to a NHK article that explained that the prefectures were responsible for covering much of the clean up:
"The government will be responsible for the decontamination of no-entry zones and government-designated evacuation zones. Local governments will clean up the rest of the affected areas..."

Perhaps the law has been revised since October.

Another important question that arises when reading today's Mainichi article about the decontamination law concerns disposal of debris.

Today's Mainichi article states that the law stipulates that the state will dispose of radioactive ashes from incinerated waste and sludge if they are found to have "more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram."

Does that mean that the only radionuclide that will be tested and covered will be cesium? 

What about strontium and plutonium, as well as a host of other radionuclides?

Also, does the wording of the law suggest that the prefectures will each be responsible for incinerating debris before the central government will dispose of them?

And where exactly does the government plan on disposing of those radioactive ashes/sludge? 

The article states that landfills with plastic liners will be built in each prefecture except Fukushima. I cannot imagine that will go over well with citizens concerned about contamination of their water supplies.

Arnie Gunderson recently claimed radioactive debris are being dumped in Tokyo Bay.
In April, the Japanese government claimed that dumping radioactive debris in the ocean does not violate the law

And I recall Tepco claiming that the radioactive debris are not their responsibility: "TEPCO: Radioactive substances belong to landowners, not us"

Safely containing radioactive debris is not going to be an easy task.
In November, Mainichi ran an article explaining that decontamination efforts were not proceeding well

A more positive development is heralded by Japan Today:Toshiba invents device it claims can decontaminate radioactive soil 

One can only hope this last headline is true.

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