Thursday, November 24, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Tokyo Will Burn Miyagi's Disaster (and Radioactive) Debris in Incineration Plants in 23 Special Wards

The Tokyo Metropolitan government simply announced on November 24, 2011 that it will be accepting the disaster debris from Onagawa-machi in Miyagi Prefecture starting early December and lasting till March 2013, and the debris (which is radioactive, by the way) will be burned in the waste incineration plants operated by the 23 Special Wards and by municipalities in Tama District (western Tokyo). The agreement has already been signed.

In my November 15 post, I wrote about this deal. But I apparently forgot to write about my speculation at that time (I did in my Japanese blog) that the only reason I could think of as to why the Assembly of the Special Ward Mayors was being consulted in accepting the Miyagi debris was that the debris would be burned in the regular incineration plants in the 23 Wards. I was exactly right, and I don't enjoy having been right on this.

From NHK Kabun tweet:


Debris from Onagawa-machi, Miyagi Prefecture will be brought to Tokyo by the Tokyo 23 Special Wards and municipalities in Tama District of Tokyo starting early next month till March of 2013. 100,000 tonnes of debris will be processed. It will be burned in the waste incineration plants operated by the municipalities, and the ashes will be buried in the landfill on the Tokyo Bay. (November 24)

All over.

They are confident that bag filters will reduce or eliminate the radioactive materials on the debris, which will be flammable wood debris, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Environment.

How radioactive it can be? The Bureau of Environment's announcement has a link to the test result of burning the debris and measuring the radiation in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture. The number is 2300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the ashes. Since it is so far below the 8000 becquerels/kg safety standard set by the Ministry of the Environment, there is no problem burning and burying, in the minds of the Tokyo Metropolitan governor and politicians and bureaucrats (and their celebrity supporters...).

By the way, the document from Onagawa-machi makes it clear that the debris may be burned in the private incineration plants in addition to the municipal incineration plants, and that the ashes may be used in "eco-cement".

Again, the only private incineration plant that would meet the spec (more than 100 tonnes per day capacity) is that TEPCO subsidiary, Tokyo Rinkai Recycle Power.


Mauibrad said...

This radioactive incineration is a problem for the whole Northern Hemisphere, and quite likely an international crime of pollution. There has to be a better way of dealing with this radioactive debris. Regardless, one or more of the affected nations needs to assert their legal rights on this soon.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Dead silence from the US government, US environmentalists. I guess they are OK with whatever Japan does or doesn't do.

Mauibrad said...

You are right, American environmentalists like Jim Hansen and the major environmental lobby organizations are totally 'invested' into the false hope that nuclear is somehow "cleaner" than coal or oil. It is not. I was referring more to possible countries like Russia, China, maybe Canada, or some of the odd European countries to file charges in international court or at the UN over the atrocity of further irresponsible radioactive incineration and dispersion into the hemispheric atmosphere. I know at least Russia could do it.

Yosaku said...


The US government probably doesn't complain because incineration is one of the main ways that we deal with radioactive waste in the US. The DOE's incinerator at Oak Ridge, TN, for instance, burned over 33 million tons of radioactive waste during its operating lifetime.

For an excellent, though dated, summary of the incineration of low level and mixed radioactive waste in the US, google "epa 'waste handling and operational issues'"--should be the first document that pops up. Here's an IAEA doc on incineration:

Now whether these particular Japanese incinerators are up to the task of removing radioactive contamination is another question, and deserves some additional research (which I will try to do!). There is no denying that Japanese incinerators used to be awful, with one result being that Japan had some of the highest dioxin emissions in the world. However, the country worked hard to upgrade their incinerators through the late 90s and 00s, and should be world class now (I hope!).

Anyway, I'll try to do some more research on this and get back to you.

Anonymous said...

The Tokyo government's environmental section until very recently had a webpage through which people could leave comments and questions. I can't find it now, but I did find this address and phone number through which people might express opinions on this issue. If you have an opinion, by all means contact them.
e-mail :

Anonymous said...

One difference, by the way, between Japan's policy and that of the U.S. is that Japan is bringing additional contaminated waste (additional because there is already plenty of radioactive contaminated waste in Tokyo's municipal garbage and wastewater sludge) into the biggest city in the nation, one of the biggest in the world, whereas the U.S. is burning radioactive waste in Oak Ridge, TN.

Anonymous said...

arevamirpal::laprimavera thank you, for your quote above about USA

Anonymous said...

The U.S. trucks nuclear waste to Oak Ridge, TN. Germany also sends it there. Japan sends some to France. France processes it and sends it back to Japan. Germany choo-choos it to France. France choo-choos it back....

Nuclear waste was stored in Barnwell, SC, but they stopped accepting it and now it's stored at nuclear power plants.

Uranium is mined in Namibia, Australia, Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Niger, Uzbekistan and the U.S. (Note: cancer epidemic now in Namibia!)

Uranium is processed in Richland, Washington and formerly at Lynchburg, Virginia; Germany, France, India, Iraq, Japan, N. Korea, Pakistan, the U.S., Russia, the Netherlands, the UK, Brazil, China.

Australia may be sending uranium to India, and Australia is working on enriching uranium through a LASER process a la General Electric.

BILLIONS of dollars are being spent on a MOX Plutonium processing plant built in South Carolina. Another one is being built in China.

This is just a small example of how ENTRENCHED this world is with this stuff.

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

↑ Except for potassium (bananas!) and xrays and cosmic rays, apparently, judging from how often people make fun of these things.

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