Monday, September 12, 2011

Nikkan SPA Magazine: Researcher Says Large Amount of Neptunium-239 Also in Date City, Fukushima

It's the same researcher who said several thousand becquerels/kg of neptunium-239 was found in the soil in Iitate-mura, about 35 km northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. It seems it's not just Iitate-mura that got doused with neptunium, which decays into plutonium. Date City, about 25 km northwest from Iitate-mura and 60 km from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, also got a large amount of neptunium.

To recap, uranium-239, whose half life is about 24 minutes, decays into neptunium-239 with a half life of about 2.5 days, which then decays into plutonium-239 whose half life is 24,200 years.

Again, the reason for withholding the information is explained in the article below as "the research paper being peer-reviewed by a foreign scientific journal" - a make-or-break event, apparently, for a young researcher at a prestigious university in Japan - and as precaution against the possible Japanese government action to squash the information. The article was written by the same husband & wife comedian couple who first wrote about neptunium in Iitate-mura on their blog magazine in early August.

I'm sure the nuclear experts who have appeared on TV to soothe the populace ever since the March 11 nuclear accident has the good explanation for neptunium-239 in these locations. They've kept saying "No way plutonium will be found outside the compound, because it is heavy and it doesn't fly". Oh I get it. It's plutonium they were talking about, not neptunium which decays into plutonium. My bad.

From Nikkan SPA September 13 issue (part on Date City only):


The email began thus:

「放射線測定を専門とする大学研究者に直接聞いたのですが、プルトニウムが核変する前のネプツニウムという核種が、少なくとも飯舘村や伊達市まで大量に飛んでいたそうです。今のγ線メインの測定方法ではどんなに頑張ってもセシウムしか検出できないため、本来の危険性が見逃されてしまう。α 線核種を無視した今のやり方を続けていたら、飯舘村はまた“見殺し”にされかねない……」

"I heard it directly from a university researcher whose specialty is radiation measurement. Neptunium, the nuclide that decays into plutonium, flew at least to Iitate-mura and Date City in large quantity. The current survey method focuses only on gamma ray, and all it detects is radioactive cesium. The real danger is alpha-nuclides, which continues to be ignored. Iitate-mura may be being betrayed again..."

The article by the comedian cum independent journalist couple continues and says this person attended a lecture given by this researcher.

It still doesn't make sense to me that the information already freely given at a public lecture has to be withheld because of the peer-review process, but oh well.

Date City by the way has been selected by the national government to conduct "decontamination" experiments. So is Iitate-mura. They are using high-pressure spray washers to blast roofs, sidings and roads, and digging up the soil. Plutonium? What plutonium?

Unlike Iitate-mura, though, almost all residents in Date City still live within the city. Even those who are ordered to move because of high radiation level in their homes have moved to temporary housing that the city has provided, within the city.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the many unreported/under reported daughter isotopes that will probably end up uncounted in all the various concentrated wastes found throughout the region. I wonder how much Np-239 is concentrated in the sewage sludge festering under tarps across the country?

Anonymous said...


Quake exceeds design at North Anna nuclear plant, NRC says:

"preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests the tremor produced a peak acceleration — the shaking force earthquakes have on buildings — of 0.26 g. A “g” is a unit of measurement for the force of gravity.

North Anna was built to endure 0.12 g for parts that sit on rock and 0.18 g for parts on soil, commission spokesman Scott Burnell said.",0,1896372.story

But don't worry

"Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Scott Burnell says last month's quake will factor into the design for a third reactor being proposed at the same location."

pat said...

60 KM and Plutonium preceders are found in high doses

maybe the US NRC suggestion for a 100 KM evacuation zone was a good idea.

The japanese said they couldn't afford to evacuate that many people. I wonder how they will afford now to not evacuate them.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

NRC's recommendation of 80km was the right one. I told my relatives in Japan about it at that time, and they laughed.

Evacuate? One village in Fukushima part in no-entry evacuation zone and part in evacuation-ready zone just submitted the "recovery" plan of getting all villagers back in the village by March next year. Lunacy.

Anonymous said...

So, the real question is, when did they found neptunium-239 in the soil? The article suggests that uranium-239 was released, decaying into neptunium-239. With a half life of 24min the uranium should be gone after less than a day, even the neptunium should be reduced to 1/1000 of source term after around 15 days. Is this old information just released now or do we have an even greater problem?

Anonymous said...

Not my day, should be 25 days of course, not 15.

Kyotoresident said...

Very scary if true.
But the fact that only this researcher is getting these results plus the flimsy reason for the lack of a proper source is a little suspicious.
Why isn't anyone replicating these findings?

Anonymous said...

Are there Loess forming in Japan

Anonymous said...

"Why isn't anyone replicating these findings?"
Read the news report.."precaution against the possible Japanese government action to squash the information" --media black out efforts are happening. This is not a mistake, as many YouTube subscribers whose video has disappeard have discovered. Until there is transparency in regards to radiation contamination, people will not be kept informed.

Fallout man said...

Neptunium 239 according to the article has a very short half life as does the uranium before it. (Does anything come before that in the chain?) Given Neptunium would break down through decay almost completely into plutonium after about 25 days (10 times its half life), this means that a month ago Fukushima was still spewing out something into the air that would eventually turn into Neptunium.
In other words, if the report is correct, then there are still appalling emissions coming out of Fukushima.

Kyotoresident said...

That is the reason given for withholding the information in this case. Plenty of other scientists are doing independent research that contradicts govt statements. There is no evidence that the govt has "squashed" any of that information.

I'm not going to release information because if i release it the govt may squash it. A pretty weak excuse.

Anonymous said...

As we all know, contaminated areas in Japan have not been evacuated due to lack of money. This is a strong argument to use world wide when protesting the building of new nuclear facilities or the renewal of licensing for existing nuclear plants.

If TPTB insist upon operating nuclear plants, then they should set up trust funds that would go into effect in the event of an accident. The trust would buy out all real estate owners and businesses within a certain radius of the plants. It would also pay for all of the people within that area to be relocated.

Due to the prohibitive cost of said trust, TPTB will say they cannot afford to fund such a trust. The protesters response should then be that TBTP cannot afford nuclear energy.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 6.44am

Absolutely with you on the trust fund.
They should also have a fund set up to pay for the decommissioning of the plant at the end of its life.
There is no way that they should be able to use the NPP and not have a funds for the decommission of the plant.

Anonymous said...

Info and Decay chain of Neptunium 239:

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Read my first post on the subject (linked in the post above, near the top) as to when neptunium-239 might have been discovered in Iitate-mura. And for some of you who said this is suspicious info, it is not. I've seen the actual charts that the researcher used to have on his website. (They're no longer there.)

Atomfritz said...

Thank you, EX-SKF and commenters.
Indeed, there is something very very wrong with this Np-239 thing.

It is not because Np-239 decays into the infamous Pu-239. You need about 4 million becquerels of Np-239 to produce one becquerel of plutonium, so this is negligible, as the average Pu contamination of the topsoil in the northern hemisphere industrial countries is around 100 Bq/m2.

It is very important due the high beta dose it caused in the first weeks after release.
So it is VERY important to watch Np contamination from the beginning after accidents.

As beta is way more difficult to measure than gamma, most measurements with cheap instruments regard gamma only. So we have relatively few measurements of Strontium contamination, for example.

But, radioactive Strontium is no less dangerous than Cesium or Iodine.

The bad thing about Np just is, there is no thing like Iodine pills for keeping out internal contamination.

Lesson learnt (at least for me):
Ignoring Np-239 dose would be as stupid like ignoring I-131.
In the first accident days the Np-239 might easily have done lots of millisieverts beta damage to millions of people's lungs.

So neither nuclear industry nor authorities want people to look at Np-239, of course.

Anonymous said...

I think the contamination problem is exacerbated by the Jap intransigence over the evacuation out of country issue.
I would like to see some Dango in the provision of metering equipment for every household who requests it.
These meters could come with electronic calibration docking station so the homeowners can calirate for different nuclides.
Could have an uplink and gps inbuilt into the handset.
The calibration compliance van could periodically visit neighbourhoods like a mobile lending library but with an ice-cream van jingle.

Like the PAT testers required by law for businesses.

Why not?

Anonymous said...

This is only the beginning where we talk about other elements.

Official list of materials and quantities released. Page two shows Hiroshima bomb in comparison.

Anonymous said...

Well you know,people are your best asset,no use looking at meaningless guesstimates subject to political manipulation without any real indication of current wherabouts.

I would like to see radiological surveys of the house and yard before purchasing a property at the very least.

This stuff isnt going anywhere at any great speed once it's knocking about your neighbourood.

Detractors may wonder what the householder could possibly do with the information and what would he do with a tonne of topsoil and the hot roof mosses washed into his guttering,wouldn't it be better to be ignorant?

Maybe some would rather be ignorant but others have a responsibility to elect leaders who do not want Japan to be ignorant.

Anonymous said...

"As we all know, contaminated areas in Japan have not been evacuated due to lack of money."

I disagree. They've not been, nor will they ever be evacuated, precisely because of money. Ya see, on this wretched orb (we can all hope it's different elsewhere else in the universe, I know that thought slightly comforts me from time to time), money trumps human life. Moreover, as if that weren't dismal enough, there's the very real and palpable problem of Power seeking control freaks.

In summary, money and Power virtually always trump human life. Isn't humanity grand? What a wonderful world. Welcome to, I mean, Earth. Smiles!

Atomfritz said...

anon 3:04pm

Thank you for this link!

For example, I find interesting that "official" Pu-241 release is several 100 times more "active" by means of decays. Official published measurements of Pu in soil etc just mentioned Pu-239 and not the short-lived and so very dangerous Pu-241. Hmmm...

Other interesting stuff like Technetium, Kr-85 and I-129 are completely omitted. Hmmm...

Regarding Kr-85: the release could amount to the releases of several years of Sellafield and La Hague full load operation. Even if Kr-85 is a noble gas, it is very important to not to overlook, because it is a substantial contributor to stratosphere ozone shield destruction.

Regarding I-129: I really don't understand why it was omitted, as it is the long-term thyroid irradiator.

BTW, I was incorrect stating that the average fallout from nuclear bomb testing is average 100Bq/m2 Pu, ranging from 50 to 150 - this is valid for Germany only. Other countries/areas of the world can have more or less than this depending of their upwind/downwind location from the nuclear test sites.
Some areas like US East are more contaminated, for example. In the Chernobyl forbidden zone the usual value is several tens of thousands of Bq.

Anyway, I recommend reading "Secret Fallout" by Ernest Sternglass. If he is right, there will be considerable increase of infant death and reduction of birth weight in Japan.
And, he shows that doctoring of release measurements is an old tradition in the nuclear industry, long before the Tepco scandals.

You can read the book online here:

Kyotoresident said...

Thanks for the knowledgeable input. I know very little about radiation and appreciate any help.

It seems that the risks were highest in the early days, so it is scandalous that this researcher, who is obviously aware of the ramifications, refuses to publicize the information in favor of getting a publication. By the time he has his publication, any damage will have been done.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Kyotoresident, the researcher is by no means alone. Look at all these government researchers coming out with information that would have been of great value, just because their papers are now accepted.

Besides, the very person who in the early days kept saying there was nothing to worry about, everything under control has become the Minister of Economy and Trade. Lies, and withholding info get rewarded, though not just in Japan.

And the researchers like Hayakawa of Gunma University who created the radiation contour map and published on the web for anyone to see has been ridiculed.

Anonymous said...

@kyotoguy You obviously never published anything, publicly or within an organization, otherwise you'd know that dumping a paper or anything with your great idea without consultation/peer review etc. is not going to get you anywhere.

Kyotoresident said...

This is not a great idea. It is a measurement. He needs a lot more than that to produce an academic paper. Unless of course the method of measurement itself is a new one which might need validation by peer review.
Not making such vital information available that could save lives is a terrible decision.

@ex- skf Sorry I was not aware of other researchers coming out with info after papers being accepted. I think that is unacceptable too.

Anonymous said...

real safety would imply
openness and transparency ...
i'm going to disregarding all the talk about improving nuclear safety in future applications .. so ...
srsly, hiding info is like shooting urself in the foot. we're all stuck on the same rock?

TriEnza said...

Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Americium apparently also found in Tokyo.

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