Sunday, May 1, 2011

Highly #Radioactive Sewage Sludge in Koriyama City, 3,500 Tons Already Burned, 500 Tons Already Sold to Cement Company


Price to pay, I suppose, for slowly forming a "consensus" on how to deal with the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. While the political heads gather to discuss what's safe to tell the general public, the radioactive materials have been doing what they are supposed to do under the circumstance: to spread.

Mr. Ishikawa is right. This is a war against the melted cores and radiation, not a time for a political powwow.

From Jiji Press (10:12PM JST 5/1/2011):

Fukushima, May 1 (Jiji Press)--High levels of radioactive cesium have been found in sewage sludge in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, the prefectural government said Sunday.

The sludge at a treatment center in Koriyama had 26,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. Slag made by reducing the volume of sewage sludge had 334,000 becquerels per kilogram.

Massive amounts of radioactive substances released by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may have flowed into sewage when rain fell, prefectural officials said.

The treatment center produces 80 tons of sludge per day, of which 10 tons are transported to a cement company outside the prefecture for recycling. The prefecture suspended sludge recycling Sunday.

An estimated 500 tons of sludge have been provided to the cement company since the nuclear plant was stricken by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the officials said. Whether they were actually recycled remain to be seen, they said.

What's not clearly stated in the Jiji article is HOW they reduce sludge into slag. They BURN it. Talk about environmental hazard. So, not just dioxin but now the radioactive cesium may be spewed into the air.

Additional information from Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese, my summary translation; 3:01AM JST 5/2/2011):

  • Fukushima Prefectural government is said to be "investigating" whether the radioactive materials spread in the air when the sludge is burned.

  • There is no manual or guideline as to how to treat the radioactive sludge [according to Asahi, but it is hard to believe there is no guideline].

  • The cesium amount in the slag, measured on April 30, was 1,400 times as much as the amount prior to the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident.

  • There are 80 tons of sewage sludge per day, of which 70 tons are burned in the incinerator and reduced to 2 tons of slag. The remaining 10 tons of the sludge are sent to a cement company.

  • The Prefectural government will provide the workers at this plant with dosimeters, and will test the other 22 facilities in Fukushima Prefecture.

  • On May 1, the Prefectural government measured the [air] radiation level at the facility at 1.8 to 3.4 micro-sieverts/hour, which was higher than 1.6 micro-sieverts/hour measured at the Koriyama City Hall Complex 10 kilometers away.

  • Under the current law on sewage, recycling the sludge is encouraged. 80 percent of the sewage sludge is recycled as building materials [like cement], and the remaining 20 percent is buried in landfills.

From Fukushima Minpo (Japanese, my translation; 6:50PM JST 5/1/2011):

The slag, made by burning down the sewage sludge, is used as part of substrate under the road pavement, but the plant hasn't sold the slag since the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident.

Radioactive cement, here we come. And depending on whether the reprocessing center is telling the truth, radioactive roads, maybe.

(h/t Robbie001)


Anonymous said...

My concern is the burning to reduce the sludge to slag... Chernobyl is very concerned about the trees, burning the wood releases radiation, so forest fires are a major concern. Putin advised those responsible for maintaining fire breaks, that should they fail, they would be on the front lines fighting the fires... Anyone care to guess how much radiation this sludge processing is producing? For that matter, what is the health risk of not processing? The major media news blackout is keeping vital information from the public. It's going to be expensive, the public will pay, but unless they understand the situation they will wait until to late to act. Fact is, this whole nuclear waste disposal and the energy consumption of modern life are issues the world community must address. Hope some of the science guru's out there have some good ideas.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

This is another side "benefit" of nuclear waste it ends up in building supplies and this isn't the first time stuff like this has happened. The sludge kiln is probably highly contaminated and the fallout plume would follow the prevailing winds.

"SHOPPERS were today warned they may be unwittingly giving loved ones radioactive watches for Christmas. The batch of 4,500 wrist watches with straps contaminated with Cobalt 60 have been sold by Carrefour supermarkets in France, said the National Radiological Protection Board."

The guy over at falloutphilippines has figured out the radiation level of the actual sludge. I don't think he took into account the dilution factor when the hot material is added to the concrete but the numbers are still interesting. The slag phase of the waste was pretty hot the guys working with it could have gotten a pretty hefty dose over the last few weeks.

"Any wall made from this stuff would be humming with radiation - 334,000 Becquerel/kg throws off 45 microSieverts per hour at a 10cm distance, and that's just the gamma component of the calculation. From just 1 kg of this material, Beta exposure at a 1cm distance is a whopping 67 milliSieverts/hr, ensuring that anyone leaning against the wall is getting his/her butt massively irradiated."

FranSix said...

Where are the televised arguments by grizzled, retired sludge engineers working as pro-sludge consultants with the natty diagrams?

Alex Smith said...

The Fukushima coverage in this blog is excellent. I use it for intelligence for my radio show, "Radio Ecoshock".

The sewage sludge story is important from so many angles. If it's in the sewage, it's everywhere. Not to mention what may have been built with the "recycled" radioactive materials. And people have been breathing these incinerator fumes!

Keep it up.
Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

netudiant said...

Cesium is fairly volatile, so it would be mobilized during the sludge burning. Fortunately, the element forms compounds very readily and appears to have been held mostly in the slag.

While it is about 100 times the legal limit for foodstuffs, 26,000 bequerels/kg is not super bad.
Eating the dirt would poison chemically rather than kill by radioactivity.
The issue is the scale of the contamination. If this sludge is generated far outside the exclusion zone, it indicates the plant emissions have spread. The emissions will continue for the year under the current plan and will come inland more during the summer.
So the concern is the likely level of contamination that can be expected by year end. Japans government needs to address that question directly, because the answer will be clear to everyone in 8 months.
If that level is too high, Mr Ishikawas war will be inevitable.

netudiant said...

The numbers the article gives indicate the sludge is reduced to a thirty-fifth of its initial mass, increasing in activity about 13 times.
That says about two thirds of the radioactive material in the sludge escaped, either to the processing facility or the environment. That is not good.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@netudiant, Koriyama City is about 60 kilometers west of the Fukushima I Nuke Plant. It's outside the evacuation zones (forced or planned), population 339K, second largest city in Fukushima behind Iwaki City (344K) which is 49 kilometers south of the plant.

And remember, that's from only one plant.

I think the answer is getting clearer much faster than the government's liking. More and more people who used to dutifully obey whatever the government told them are finally realizing they've been had. Or that's the impression I get from my personal observation.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

The rain-out is one of the most disturbing aspects of a fallout plume. Rain can concentrate radioactive material in the surface water sediments or a simple low spot in a field. Contaminated runoff ends up in storm drain systems and creeks and rivers that eventually lead to nature's sewage treatment plant the estuaries where it will also accumulate over time.

This is also a side effect of mass "decontamination". It actually causes re-contamination of the environment in concentration points that people may never think of. Nuclear "decontamination" generally consists of power-washing contaminated surfaces with detergents and surfactants these waste waters very rarely collected and purified in an emergency so they end up in the surface water and eventually sewage. People who use surface water filtration in the areas of heavy contamination should be careful with the filter elements they will also accumulate radioactive waste to some degree. The same will happen to face mask filters they get hotter over time because they accumulate radioactive particles.

A good book on rainout and low level radiation effects is called "Secret Fallout" by Dr.Ernest Sternglass. It covers the effects of nuclear weapon tests fallout and early commercial nuclear power's "Safe" and legal emissions.

I would encourage people to read back through the entire archive of material on Fukushima found at this blog or better yet save a copy for future reference. This site has consistently outpaced the MSM in the US by leaps and bounds.

Here is a good study on the effects of radioactive material in nature done near the Mayak disaster area.

The GAP (Government Accountability Project) is a great whistleblower protection org. Here are some other reports people may find interesting.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

NHK was reporting very high winds in the area around the plant this makes me wonder about the future of "Operation Pup Tent". I bet the wind is a fickle mistress right on the edge of the Pacific.

Here's another story about nuclear scrap that few of us ever hear about. I wonder what happen to the 10% they don't decontaminate and I wonder why they don't clean it? Is it "clean enough" to recycle or is it too dirty to clean?

"The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) group and marine pollution experts say that they are "deeply alarmed" at plans to transport 16 bus-sized radioactive steam generators by sea from Canada to be cleaned up at the Studsvik recycling plant in Sweden. Studsvik will decontaminate around 90 per cent of the materials and sell the resultant scrap metal on the open market."

Hélios said...

Tepco xould have decided to built a dick against future tsunamis.
Is it confirmed ?

I translate your post, thank you.

Hélios said...

An other question about Ex-rad. Do you know this ?

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@ Alex Smith

I listened to your program "Fukushima Facts and Fantasy" I like how you dispel over the top net rumors that detract from the real Fukushima problems. You have a good radio presence you remind me of and NPR styled news program.

It is cool that EcoShock gets play on terrestrial radio too I hope your station list expands.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:


This drug is still in the early testing phase I remember reading somewhere it wouldn't be ready for use in the military for 5 years or more.

Here is the company who is testing this "wonder" drug. I still want to see safety data whenever they finish testing it. For all we know this stuff may not be something you could give to the general population because of unintended consequences. How many drugs have been recalled in recent years because they turned out to be dangerous?

Sewage sludge used in cement said...

If the concrete has been used for building construction it give 'sick building syndrome' a whole new meaning.

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