Japan is Poisoning Other Countries By Burning Highly-Radioactive Debris

Fukushima will start burning radioactive debris containing up to 100,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. As Mainchi notes:

The state will start building storage facilities for debris generated by the March 2011 tsunami as early as May at two locations in a coastal area of Naraha town, Fukushima Prefecture, Environment Ministry and town officials said Saturday.

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About 25,000 tons of debris are expected to be brought into the facilities beginning in the summer, according to the officials.

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If more than 100,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium are found per kilogram of debris, the debris will be transferred to a medium-term storage facility to be built by the state. But if burnable debris contains 100,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium or less, it may be disposed of at a temporary incinerator to be built within the prefecture, according to the officials.

Within the 20-km-radius no-go zone spanning across Naraha and five other municipalities along the coast, debris caused by the magnitude 9.0 quake and the subsequent tsunami has amounted to an estimated 474,000 tons, much of remaining where it is.

How much radiation is that?

It is a lot.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen has said that much lower levels of cesium – 5,000-8,000 bq/kg (20 times lower than what will be allowed to be burned at Fukushima) – would be sent to a special facility in the United States and buried underground for thousands of year. See this and this.

It is comparable to the levels of radioactivity found within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. See this and this.

And even the Japanese – who have raised acceptable levels of radiation to absurd levels – would normally demand that material with this radioactivity be encased in cement and buried:

According to plans by the Ministry of Environment, if the radioactive cesium concentration is less than 8,000 Bq/kg, then it is possible to dispose of it by burying it. Rubble that has 8,000 ~ 100,000 Bq must be encased in cement in order to prevent contact with water before being dumped. For rubble that exceeds 100,000 Bq, it must be encased in concrete walls and stored temporarily. The disposal place must be approved of by the Prefectural Governor.

In addition, some allege that debris surpassing 100,000 bq/kg of cesium will be burned, after being mixed with less-radioactive materials.

And many of the incinerators are located smack dab in the middle of crowded cities, and are not equipped to contain radiation.

Other Parts of Japan Are Also Burning Radioactive Debris

And it’s not just Fukushima.

Tokyo and many other areas in Japan are burning radioactive debris as well. And see this.

Burning to Continue for for Years

Mainichi reports that the radioactive debris will be burned for years … through at least March 2014.

Poisoning Other Countries

Burning radioactive debris does not destroy the radioactivity. It merely spreads it.

Gundersen says that radioactivity from the burnt debris will end up not only in neighboring prefectures, but in Hawaii, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and California. Gundersen said that burning radioactive debris is basically re-creating the Fukushima disaster all over again, as it is releasing a huge amount of radioactivity which had settled on the ground back into the air.

Steven Starr – Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who has advised numerous countries on issues of nuclear non-proliferation – writes:

Burning radioactive debris will only serve to further randomly spread radiation across Japan, as well as the rest of the world. Not only will this lead to more morbidity and mortality within Japan, but it will further complicate epidemiological studies of the Fukushima disaster. Raising “acceptable” levels of radioactive fallout is a false solution to a serious problem. It is possible for the government authorities to do this because radiation is invisible to us, and at lower doses, the consequences of exposure do not manifest themselves for some time . . . thus it is a poison that is easy to hide and ignore. Sadly, the children of Japan will be those most seriously affected by this man-made environmental catastrophe.

It is bad enough that radiation from Fukushima is spreading across the Pacific to the United States through air and water, that the Japanese are underplaying the enormous threat posed by the spent fuel pools, and that the Japanese have engaged in a massive cover-up of the severity of the Fukushima crisis. But intentionally burning radioactive debris to try to cover up the problem – and spreading radiation worldwide in the process – is an entirely separate affront.

Postscript:  In addition to burning radioactive debris, Japan intends to build tents over the leaking Fukushima reactors. While this sounds like a way to contain the radiation, it would actually funnel it straight up and spread it globally:

My reaction [to the announcement that the Fukushima nuclear operator would build giant tents over the reactors] was hope that the tents would at least keep radiation from spreading worldwide through the air, even if they didn’t do anything to prevent contamination of Japan’s groundwater or the Pacific Ocean.

But nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen

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that the tents – while helping to protect workers at Fukushima – will actually increase the dispersion of radioactive gases. Specifically, Tepco will pump radiation out through stacks, which will push radiation up to a higher elevation, dispersing it even further around the world.

Category: Energy, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

23 Responses to “Fukushima to Burn Highly-Radioactive Debris”

  1. GetReal1 says:

    If Obama lets this happen without screaming bloody murder or not threaten Japan with permanent sanctions then any illnesses or deaths as the result of this will be same as if he poisoned the people themselves.

  2. Barnnie says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_fleas
    —- This is the real concern involved with hot particles from nuclear accidents. These highly charged microscopic particles can jump (due to their concentrated electrostatic charge) onto a person’s body & imbed themselves into the skin —– to be later possibly inhaled or injested.

    —- Suggest reading some of this links references……..

  3. Bob A says:

    Who sold them that 1000% fail-safe technology that resulted in that disaster anyhow?
    Musta been the Russians.

  4. Jojo says:

    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” said Nietzsche [lol]

  5. lyapunov says:

    100,000 Becquerel/kg ? This a low-level radioactivity, barely the radioactivity of coal ashes or of the Guarapari sands in Brazil. This is also what you get when you check your thyroïd. Please, don’t panic. 100,000 Becquerel is the same order of magnitude as 10 microsievert for the whole human body. This is the amount of radiation you get during a New York – Paris flight.

  6. Greg0658 says:

    Bob – 10X better than perfectly safe – really? they were GE design .. probably co-engineered on site

    BRs 1st post of many on the event:
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/03/stabilization-today

    in there my Google Realtime link is now dead .. IT happens

    how many Superfund sites does the world have .. waiting for capital to flow to labor for cleanup?

  7. Michael M says:

    Another country joins the exceptionalism club, not giving a f… about what effect its actions have on other countries. The US created the Japanese political system and they are becoming more like the US by the day (or is it the other way around?). Americans, you should be so proud. But I guess you already are.

  8. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    We have our collective head in the sand.

    “The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima”

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/the-largest-short-term-threat-to-humanity-the-fuel-pools-of-fukushima.html

    lyapunov:

    Are you saying that there is nothing to worry about here — that all this rector is spewing into the environment is the same as natural background radiation? Methinks you work for someone who doesn’t want the public to be aware of the damage, the ongoing danger, or who is responsible for this fiasco.

    If this shit ain’t deadly dangerous, why don’t you drag your self-assured ass over there and start cleaning it up?

  9. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    lyapunov:

    Just ran across this:

    lyapunov:

    “Study links dental X-rays to brain tumor risk”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-checkup/post/study-links-dental-x-rays-to-brain-tumor-risk/2012/04/09/gIQALz8k6S_blog.html?hpid=z4

    Probably less than you get when you “check your thyroid,” huh?

  10. juneau says:

    As one who missed the great bull run of 2011-2012 perhaps I am a little blue,
    but the radioactive particles in fishmeal is a problem for me and you,
    you see fishmeal is incorporated into many things these days
    from pet food to fertilizer to animal feed, oh yay!

    contamination and radiation exposure are two different threats
    radiation at low levels, meh!, contamination with uranium bad bet!
    I have given up trying to figure it out
    I am returning to worry and wonder and just to pout

    radioactive wild boars of Chernobyl inspire
    while contaminated seaweeds raise my ire
    perhaps those wild boars have something on us
    those who thrive will be one very tough bunch

  11. Greg0658 says:

    Bob – I’ll ding myself – sure you meant a measure of perfect – 99.8% perfect with another 99.8% then another another .. Nukes are built with duplicate on top of duplicate airspace containment, electrical & cooling systems .. what got this GE Mark Series# was the tsunami gunking the diesel fuel tanks killing the backup engines on top of outside world power lines snapped
    ~~
    on spent fuel fleas and radiated dust floating around the world – thats why there is duplicate airspace containments and dry storage casks that Yucca Mountain was built for .. on medical sciences aspect – out of my line

  12. theexpertisin says:

    My son is a USCG officer who will be stationed on the NW coast come early summer.

    His boat has been used primarily for drug interdiction off Mexico and maritime fishing enforcement off Alaska. The mission has changed. The crew will be spending most efforts monitoring, catagorizing and collecting Tsunami aftermath junk that is just now beginning to touch US waters and coast. Of prime concern is the radioactive level of the debris.

    This is serious stuff.

  13. Expat says:

    France and the US have large, vested interests in nuclear energy. Consequently, they refuse to comment on Fukushima or Japanese handling of nuclear energy in general. If these two nuclear powerhouses do nothing about it, then the rest of us will just have to patiently wait for our dose, our cancer, and the death of humanity.

    Mmmm, On the Beach.

  14. Low Budget Dave says:

    All those comments, and not one single Godzilla joke?

    Anyway, if you are living near a coal plant in the U.S. (or anywhere), I have some interesting news for you.

  15. 873450 says:

    Radioactive fallout traced to Fukushima has been detected in the Great Lakes and Vermont.

    America thanks GetReal1 watching out for our safety blaming Obama and holding him to account.

  16. KeithOK says:

    If I can, for a second, comment on something pretty much irrelevant to the entire point of the story, I don’ t think that when nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen refers to levels “20 times lower than what will be allowed to be burned at Fukushima” he means 20 times lower. I think he means 1/20th the amount. If A is twenty times B than B is one-twentieth of A, not twenty times less than A (and if A is twenty times more than B, than B is 1/21 of A, but I’ll use the 1/20th her because I assume they are rounding)

    People seem to hate talking fractions and look for substitutes, but if you’re talking about one amount being one-twentieth of another, 20 time less is not correct. You’re talking about .95 times less., and .95 does not equal 20. There are several ways to get the amount right. You can reverse the comparison and just say that the levels for material being burned at Fukushima are 20 times higher. You could say the levels in the material being stored in the US is 5% of that being burned at Fukushima. You could say the radiation levels for material being sent to the US are 95% lower or .95 times lower than those of the material being burned at Fukushima. But until .95= 20, twenty times lower is not correct.

  17. Greg0658 says:

    listening to msm goto guy nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen in the podcast for the 1st time on the NY station (it just stopped to log in – now it won’t play) .. that some people are conjecturing was a fracking settle’g induced earthquake (fact check) .. but he stated control rods drop in from the top NOT they push up from the bottom hense thru water seals with electric motors between the fuel pellet columns robbing the chain reaction .. he is very correct on the residual heat needing cooling in that pressure cooker where steam heat rises

  18. Iamthe50percent says:

    Buried in the United States. Great. When did we become the trash can of the world? Obama should tell them to bury it in their own Goddamned country. What are we? New Jersey?

  19. tsetsaf says:

    What is amazing about Fukushima and the aftermath is how the average American is so absolutely uninformed/ under-informed and oblivious to the entire situation. This disaster is the epitome of the intrinsic flaw with nuclear energy and no one seems to give a $*&*. Heck the Obama admin approved the first new operating agreement in over 20 years for new nuclear powerplant in the United States just a few months ago. Nuclear is good and radiation is your friend.

    The best prospective on nuclear insanity can be found at the Nuclear Testing Museum in Las Vegas NM. check it out the next time you are there.

    Just read an article yesterday discussing a recent report about the super high levels of Iodine found in kelp along the west coast of the United States following the disaster. At the time we were in Santa Cruz CA and about 10 days after the disaster we were hit with a heavy winter rainstorm. My wife thought I was nuts because I would not allow her outside in the rain and then after it stopped I literally went all bio-hazard gear with a hose and broom cleaning off our outside area; even to the point of stripping down upon completion and brushing myself clean. A little over the top? Turns out not so much. To add to the strangeness we have a friend, 28, who developed a rare form of tongue and throat cancer shortly after the disaster; last week he was given 3 months to live. Of course it was completely unrelated and you could never prove cause but, just but…

  20. alaskanriley says:

    I have Hashimoto’s. Basically my thyroid died and went to heaven and I was lucky I didn’t. The interesting thing is that my specific manifestation of the disease is endemic to left handed midwestern males born in the mid 50′s. One could directly correlate it to open air nuclear testing if one wanted to, but Eisenhower’s favorite complex might take offense. We already have excellent data on worldwide particulate transmission as a result of Krakatoa and Pinatubo. Now we will have excellent data on various aggressive radiation induced cancers. I find it interesting that this slow motion train wreck has been going on for quite a while and only now are we disturbed? There were plans to evacuate TOKYO. This is a tragedy of the commons of the first order and there is nothing we can do about it. Fait accompli.

  21. howardoark says:

    what a wuss – with a half life of 30 years all that cesium will be gone (essentially) in a couple of centuries.

  22. Taliesyn says:

    GetReal1 Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 1:40 am
    “If Obama lets this happen without screaming bloody murder or not threaten Japan with permanent sanctions then any illnesses or deaths as the result of this will be same as if he poisoned the people themselves.”

    Yeah right , threaten *permanent sanctions* with one of the few allies we have to stand up to China’s ambitions to control all those sea-lanes with its own *armed* NAVY to about 100 miles from all of China’s coastline.
    This precious little announcement was made during the Bush admin when China forced down that American reconnaissance ( spy) plane which stated that it was within the recognized limits of the 14 mile . Bush made his stern requests for the Chinese to return *our plane*. The Chinese thus declared that they do *not8 recognize the 14 mile limit , but 100 miles and is building a NAVY to enforce it.
    Oh , and China returned the plane when they were good and done with stripping it of all of its technology and sent it to Bush *in pieces*. So much for enforceable sanctions. Sure works against Iran’s *peaceful* nuke ambitions.
    So the rest of this bit of hyperbolic flotsam & jetsom from GetReal1 is childish Bush-wah . Yes, Japan has to be called to account for this latest expression of stupidity and publicly and hammered hard on the web as well. If Japanese culture knows anything it’s the concept of *shame* , something our Wall St. nor heavily subsidized (read “Our Tax dollars ) nuke industry has none of whatsoever.
    Just an independent’s opinion

  23. [...] from Barry Ritholtz article. It’s a good read with links to many reports and other articles. Fukushima will start [...]