It has finally occurred to the elite bureaucrats at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that maybe, just maybe, all the building materials that were stored outdoors since the March 11 Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident may have been contaminated with radioactive fallout from the broken reactors, and not just the crushed stone from the stone pit in Namie-machi, Fukushima Prefecture.
Good, now you're thinking. The problem is that their approach is just the same as their counterparts in the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health: pick areas of what they (say they) think may have more contamination than others, and go ask the companies, and test if possible.
The similar method used radioactive beef, radioactive rice hay, radioactive rice has served the country well, having practically destroyed the credibility of the government of any form .
If beef, rice hay, leaf compost are any indication, the contaminated building materials may have spread far and wide already, outside Fukushima Prefecture. And what about the building materials stored outside in places like Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Gunma Prefectures? Or southern Miyagi where the high level of radioactive cesium was detected from the rice hay, and where radioactive cesium in raw milk has seen a spike recently?
For now, those are none of the concerns for the Ministry for now.
From Fukushima Minpo (1/18/2012):
Regarding the concrete used for the apartment in Nihonmatsu with the crushed stone suspected of having been contaminated with radioactive materials, the Fukushima prefectural government and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided on January 17 to investigate the building and construction materials such as gravel and sawing lumber that were stored outside when the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident happened. They will target the civil engineering and construction companies in and around the planned evacuation zone and the special evacuation recommendation spots (aka hot spots) to find out where the construction materials have been sold. As for the crushed stones, the Ministry has decided to investigate 16 companies in Hamadori (coastal 1/3 of Fukushima Prefecture) and the northern Fukushima, and will try to identify the buyers.
The prefectural government and the Ministry of Economy will conduct investigation on building materials like gravel, sand, and sawing lumber that were kept outside, just like the crushed stones that may have been contaminated with radioactive materials.
They will interview the construction companies, lumber yards, etc around the planned evacuation zone and special evacuation recommendation spots in northern Hamadori (coastal Fukushima) and the northern part of Fukushima Prefecture [where Fukushima City is located]. If they find the materials that were stored outside without the roof, they will identify the buyers and measure radiation levels.
However, due to the sheer number of subjects, the investigation may take a long time. There may be companies that didn't keep records, and some point out that it may be difficult to accurately track the distribution channels.
As to the distribution channels for the crushed stone, they will target 16 companies in the areas with relatively high radiation. They will identify the buyers, measure the radiation levels in order to assess the effect on the environment.
The senior officials in the prefectural government say, "We need to apply the problem of the crushed stone to the other building materials and investigate as soon as possible."
Whoever says that the Japanese people are smart should know they are smart at test-taking skills so that they can go to good schools to become a good worker in peacetime, not the real-life problem-solving skills in a crisis.