Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New "Decon" Experiment in Iitate-Mura: Burn Radioactive Soil

The Japanese government has just started a new experiment in the very highly contaminated Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture where the soil contamination exceeds 50,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, with a host of other nuclides including strontium and neptunium which has since decayed into plutonium.

What's the experiment? To burn the radioactive soil to reduce the bulk for disposal.

What's this Japanese obsession with "decontamination" and with "incineration"? Do they think they can somehow "purify" the radioactive fallout by burning? (Hint: this is a rhetorical question. Answer is yes of course.)

The nuclear researchers at the government's JAEA seem to think burning the soil will revive the soil.

It will kill the soil.

From Kyodo News Japanese (10/26/2011):


On October 26, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (located in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture) showed off its new experiment to see if radioactive cesium could be effectively removed by burning the farm soil in Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture. The experiment is aimed at reviving the farm fields contaminated by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


It is part of the soil remediation technology development as assigned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. JAEA and National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (in Tsukuba City, Fukushima Prefecture) are jointly conducting the research. The result of the experiment will be known in 2 to 3 weeks.


According to the Ministry of Agriculture, if all the farm soil with 5000 becquerels/kg and higher [of radioactive cesium] is removed in Fukushima Prefecture, it would fill 2 to 3 Tokyo Domes, or about 3 million tonnes. How to dispose the removed soil is a big issue.

Let's assume the lowest number, 5,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the Fukushima farm soil. 1 tonne is 1000 kilograms. So,

  • 1 tonnes contains: 5 million becquerels of radioactive cesium

  • 3 million tonnes contains: 1.5 x 10^13, or 15 terabecquerels, or 15,000,000,000,000 becquerels.

If the national government's much-publicized past experiments (like planting sunflowers to absorb radioactive materials in soil) in Iitate-mura are any indication, this one may also fail.

Besides, by strongly encouraging farmers outside the no-entry evacuation zone and the planned evacuation zone (like Iitate-mura) in Fukushima to grow crops as usual, the soil was probably turned deep, mixing radioactive materials with deeper, clean soil. So, removing the top 5 centimeters are likely to do hardly anything other than making people feel good that they have done the "decontamination".

There are areas and spots with high radiation outside Fukushima Prefecture, but those are none of the concern for the national government, although it has said it may consider the national-level decontamination for the areas with expected annual radiation exposure (external only) of more than 1 millisievert.


Anonymous said...

Silly...Doesn't that just put all those tasteee isotopes and such back in the air for further ingestion?

Anonymous said...

Technically, if it is true Brown's Gas flame can neutralize radioactivity, then 'burning' anything with radioactivity will reduce the radioactivity to background levels. Soil thus treated would no longer be radioactive, but would still have elements of pollution which would be harmful, like uranium or plutonium. If Brown's Gas works, then there is the possibility of neutralize corium. Imagine robotic equipment climbing through the reactor debris, flaming everything with a Brown's Gas flamethrower.

kintaman said...

There is nothing that can be done about this. The damage is done and humans are simply making it worse. The affected areas must be EVACUATED and QUARANTINED. The Japanese government must accept the costs and the fact that they have now lost a great part of the already small island. It is a done deal but there actions will only make the situation worse. It is hard to sit by and watch these moronic actions take place. It simply shows how incompetent they truly are.

Anonymous said...

Japanes gouvernement ares fucking crazy now it's not only Japan you contaminated by burning your shit it's all over the world and specialy Canada your ruinning again and again....i have decided to buy no more from Japan and i realy hope that more people will do the same stay in your shit and eat it and live in it this is crime against the world Kadafi was killed for less then what you are doing right now hope someone wil wake up and kill those fuckers

Anonymous said...

you cant burn away radioactivity. If it were that easy they would of restored Pripyat.

Anonymous said...

Please, how far is Iwaki City from Itate-Mura?

Anonymous said...

Any Japanese citizen adversely affected by the radiation, either healthwise or through loss of property and job CAN AND SHOULD SUE.


ceruleandaze said...

Iwaki City <--> Iitate-mura looks like 104 to 113 km driving, depending on the route, or about 70-80 km as the radiated crow flies.

Anonymous said...

Radiation apartment in Taiwan (Japanese)

It looks like even if you melt the radioactive metal to make steel, the radiation follows the steel (i.e. does not get burned away).

netudiant said...

In fairness to the authorities, what is being proposed is to heat the soil enough to vaporize the cesium and concentrate the cesium in the filter.
There are lots of issues with this, notably that the 800 degree temperature suggested is sure to carbonize any organics in the soil as well, so the filters get overwhelmed and the soil is left sterile. Plus it is not clear that the cesium, bound tightly in salt form, will not resist mobilization by this treatment.
It may be possible to grow clean crops even on contaminated soil by flooding the fields with non radioactive cesium to minimize the radioactive material uptake by the plants, but the soil is beyond cleaning. It will be a scar on Japan for several centuries.

Anonymous said...

oh, for fuck's sake!

it is not possible to clean the soil. and while Fukushima keeps spewing radioactive shit, decontamination is a waste of effort!

the irradiated zones are a complete and utter loss -- and anyone who stays in this area will suffer... the ability to procreate is increasingly damaged as long as one chooses to stay in unhealthy zones. which apparently is all of northern Japan.

burning contamination spreads contamination around, so in a short period of time, all of Japan will be as fuk d as Fukushima! I mean SERIOUSLY!

If it were possible to clean, a company would be cleaning nuclear waste worldwide, making millions and Chernobyl region would be clean as a whistle and the former Ukrainian 'bread basket' would be in the news, big celebrations all around! --- but it is not possible -- it is a DREAM. EVACUATE!

netudiant said...

These 'we're all doomed, evacuate now!' comments are not useful.
Japan cannot evacuate its heartland, so once again, as before, Japan must bear the unbearable.
That means multiple ongoing efforts at mitigation, many of which will be useless or wasteful or both.
It will probably take a generation to get this mess adequately cleaned up.
The one ray of light is that the reactors have pretty much stopped spewing. The decay heat is low enough at this point (about 10 megawatts) and the water injection high enough that the heat is not thrown off as steam any more.

Post a Comment