Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Archive for October, 2011

Kashiwa hot spot linked to Fukushima

Kyodo, Staff report

CHIBA — The science ministry said Sunday that the high radiation detected on city-owned land in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, is emanating from cesium that was probably ejected by the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, contradicting the city’s earlier claims.

When the Kashiwa Municipal Government first got wind of an airborne radiation reading of 57.7 microsieverts per hour at the site, it said the radiation was unlikely to be related to the Fukushima disaster as it was in such a tiny area.

On Sunday, the ministry and city workers found a side ditch near the spot during a joint survey and said it is highly likely that rainwater tainted by fallout from the Fukushima plant flowed into nearby soil.

“The possibility is high that cesium carried in rain water condensed and accumulated in the soil,” said Takao Nakaya, heads of the science and education ministry’s radiation regulation office.

Part of the ditch, which is about 30 cm deep, was broken and the water seems to have leaked from there, ministry officials said.

“We’d like to take (the finding)s back to the office and start decontamination work as soon as possible,” Nakaya said.

Local residents said that they were deeply concerned.

“This was a place where children always played around. I’m worried about whether the radiation had any effects on the children,” said Shigeru Ono, 74.

Earlier surveyors who dug deeper into the hot spot soil recorded stronger radiation, leading some experts to speculate the tainted soil came from elsewhere and was deliberately buried.

But the ministry confirmed the same day that rainwater is leaching from the ditch and into the soil at the hot spot.

Up to 276,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil was detected 30 cm below the surface there Friday after abnormally high airborne radiation was detected earlier in the week, the city said.

“If fallout from the Fukushima plant naturally falls onto the ground, it’d be unthinkable that the radiation level would be higher deep in the soil than on the surface,” said Masako Sawai, researcher at Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based antinuclear activist group, before the ministry press conference Sunday.

Earlier this month, residents in Setagaya Ward were alarmed after a similarly small hot spot was found at the fence of a house. The source of the radiation, however, turned out to be bottles of radium left under the house decades ago.

Waiting patiently for their turn

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At the vet. 動物病院で。

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Hao falls asleep on my hand

Yes, it’s time to trim his nails. doug

BBC E-mail: Radiation ‘no link to Fukushima’

Well, imagine everybody’s relief to find out the unusually high radiation levels found in Yokohama weren’t from Fukushima, but were instead radioactive materials being stored in the basement. Could happen to anyone. Sigh.

** Radiation ‘no link to Fukushima’ **
Elevated levels of radiation detected in Japan’s capital Tokyo are almost certainly not linked to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, say officials.

Mon in her nest

Mon has started taking snippets of paper into her nest. She is down to just 5 eggs now though. She accidentally tossed one out and it fell down and cracked. doug

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Yokohama finds high strontium-90 levels

YOKOHAMA — Radioactive strontium exceeding normal levels has been detected in sediment from atop an apartment building in Yokohama, some 250 km from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, city officials said Wednesday.

While the discovery of 195 becquerels of strontium-90 in the rooftop sediment fueled concerns that leaked radiation may have spread farther than the central government expected, the officials said the city is carefully examining where the isotope came from.

If the substance is from the Fukushima plant, it will be the first time strontium at a concentration of more than 100 becquerels per kilogram has been found beyond 100 km from the troubled plant.

The strontium-90 was detected by a private agency that conducted the test at the request of a resident.

“Radioactive substances tend to accumulate in sediment and so we still don’t know whether the substance found in this test came from the nuclear accident,” said an official of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Strontium-90, with a half-life of 29 years, had been detected at concentrations roughly between 10 and 20 becquerels at various places across Japan prior to the nuclear crisis.

After learning about the findings, the Yokohama Municipal Government started investigating soil samples collected from areas near the building, the officials said. Meanwhile, the science ministry said it is still uncertain whether the strontium came from Fukushima No. 1.

The ministry has detected radioactive strontium at various locations in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures within 100 km from the crippled plant in earlier investigations following the accident.

If inhaled or ingested, strontium tends to accumulate in bones just like calcium. It is believed to cause bone cancer and leukemia.

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