Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Over 1 Million Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium from the Mysterious Black Dust in Minami Soma City

Minami Soma City assemblyman Koichi Ooyama discloses the result of the test of the mysterious black dust found in locations in Minami Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture.

A blogger whom I featured before, "Night that never ends", has been measuring radiation on the strange, black dust he finds in many locations in Minami Soma City, mostly on the road surface. His geiger counter (Inspector) measures all alpha, beta, gamma radiations and x-ray, and his measurement on the surface of this black dust was 295 microsieverts/hour.

Assemblyman Ooyama apparently sent the sample to Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University. Professor Yamauchi did the test, and here's the result, from Assemblyman Ooyama's blog:

Cs-134: 485,252 Bq/kg
Cs-137: 604,360 Bq/kg

TOTAL: 1,089,612 Bq/Kg

Converting the total number to Bq/square meter,

1,089,612 × 65 = 70,824,780 Bq/m2

"Night that never ends" says in his blog this substance is very light-weight and blows off easily. He is finding it all over Minami Soma. He has asked the construction workers if it is from asphalt used in roads. The workers say no. To see the image of this black dust, go here.

"Night that never ends" says he has alerted the City Hall, and Mr. Ooyama indicates there will be a meeting with the city officials on this finding.

41 comments:

farfromhome said...

Wow.

So if this is a fine dust and is easily blown around, and contains such high levels of cesium, this is really frightening. It would seem that it could easily be breathed in....
Forget about the radioactive pollen due to hit at the end of the month, this is even better.

Wonder how this will be explained away.

I am counting the days till I get to take my kids leave here...

Chibaguy said...

@farfromhome, we are in the same boat. Which prefecture are you in?

farfromhome said...

@Chibaguy We are in Kanagawa, Yokosuka-shi. So not too bad off, and I realize that, and am thankful. But I am not confident that if something else happens we will be safe. beyond that by the end of March they will be burning and storing debris here. Thing is that I live about 1.5 KM from an incinerator and I do not trust that they will not burn debris there.

My heart is so burdened, and I don't mean just for my family. We fell in love with Japan, even were considering retiring here until 3/11 happened and our eyes were so opened. Don't get me wrong the US has tons of issues too, but at least I feel like I have more rights and choices there. :)

farfromhome said...

The smiley was supposed to be a frowny as I am so not happy about any of this. Sorry.

TC said...

If it is that radioactive, it should be properly analysed for other radioisotopes, particularly plutonium and uranium.

Yosaku said...

farfromhome,

Excellent point. You can keep an eye on the most recent dust-sampling measurements here: http://radioactivity.mext.go.jp/en/monitoring_around_FukushimaNPP_dust_sampling/2012/02/30180/index.html.

To help put these in perspective, the average Radon concentration in a home in Japan is about 20 Bq/m^3 and the equivalent in the US is more than double, or in excess of 40 Bq/m^3. The comparison is not exact, obviously, as they are different elements/isotopes, but this should give you some context.

Anonymous said...

The dust seems to be very localized and not spread evenly all over the floor, so I don't think multiplying by 65 makes much sense in this case. Not that it matters much either.

Anonymous said...

Wait, scratch that. Sure it makes no sense to multiply by 65 in this case. That would mean assuming there are 65 kilos of that substance per square meter, which is utterly retarded

Anonymous said...

As far as I know Cs-137 is only a beta emitter while Cs-134 emits both beta and gamma; so what is the source of the Alpha and X-ray?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon at 1:09AM, it is just how they convert Bq/kg into Bq/m2 at the Ministry of Education and NISA. Ministry of Agriculture uses a bigger multiplier.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know, but that's for soil samples 5 or 15 cm deep. What you need in this case (small amount of dust spread over asphalt or concrete) is to know the total weight of the black dust you can collect from one square meter.

Multiplying by 65 in this case is like saying that you can collect 65 kilos of dust in each square meter.

Who made that conversion? Surely it wasn't Yamauchi-sensei.

Anyway, I don't want to downplay because the concentration of cesium is very high, but let's try to understand what the conversion rules mean before applying them.

Chibaguy said...

@farfromhome,

On ex skf's previous blog I listed my email address if you would like to exchange ideas. I am like you, stuck in the middle of wondering while actually knowing. My son's school buried the radioactive waste at the school. My city (Inzai) is fighting tooth and nail to not accept more debris from Kashiwa while Abiko seems more than happy to accept it. Even Japanese citizens do not have a voice here. Yes, I am planning to leave here but if the same thing happened in the US I would expect the same reaction but there is more room to move and the housing laws are not as crazy. Here you are just stuck.

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farfromhome said...

@Yosaku -
Thanks for the link and feedback. There are an awfuil lot of ND's on taht list. Truly it does not appear to be anywhere near me personally, I just am concerned for the others...

@Chibaguy,
I cannot even imagine what you and your wife must be going through. I have a Japanese neighbor who is having a tough time, she and her husband have a 10 year old son and they feel very trapped as well. She is fluent in English, he is not. He has a good job with NTT and is only about 12-15 years from retiring... They just bought their condo last year, life looked so good.

Yes, we would move from this type of situation in the states as well. Of course the land mass in general gives you more options. If there is anyway we can help you guys out, we will.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, again, for this blog.

I'm french and french population is more interested in buying cars or televisions than radiation effects... sad.

Go away if you can, far far away. I am with you.

Anonymous said...

Incinerated ash not caught in the filters?

Chibaguy, best hope that a clear path opens for you on this long road out.

Nancy said...

Hey, we have a thought on possible source for the mystery black stuff. One of our research team said they use something like that to spread on icy roads in Germany. After some looking we found that ground up lava rock is used as a road spread similar to how some places toss rock salt on roads to aid traction and melt ice. Since this has been found mainly scattered on roads and Japan obviously has sources of lava rock it might be the source. Being that lava rock is highly porous and absorbs things if it was left out like the gravel in Namie it could have absorbed LOTS of fallout. This is the document talking about using crushed lava rock as a road treatment etc. http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Publications/Bulletins/96/06_uses.html It is sometimes referred to as "tuff" and a picture for reference http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a2/Moai_Rano_raraku.jpg/220px-Moai_Rano_raraku.jpg

I am not sure how to contact anyone in Minamisoma to see if that may be being used on the roads there. If it is whatever trucks are spreading it are likely pretty contaminated now too. Can someone with bilingual ability check into this?

Atomfritz said...

This is so mad.

Black dust of unidentified origin on the roads that radiates 0.3 millisieverts/h.

This will be spread all over by wind, and be breathed in and incorporated by people over a wide area outside of the zone. Gauze masks won't help much against such microscopic particles.

This is a very dangerous situation and the Japanese authorities just close their eyes.

In the Soviet Union after the Chernobyl accident the roads in a wide area of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were regularly sprayed with water so that the dust could not be blown away by wind but settle in the road embankments and become immobilized.

Never saw reports or even pictures of roads being sprayed in Japan.
Maybe this wasn't done in Japan to not worry citizens about the radioactivity?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is originating from Feb7:
http://youtu.be/ilK2Qr3oS-Y?t=1m18s
http://youtu.be/Sms_-n87OFc

Anonymous said...

Hello Chibaguy,

what are the differences in the housin laws between the US and Japan?

Bruno

Bruno said...

What do you all think of trying to decontaminate the systematically planting and harvesting cesium-absorbing mushrooms?

The harvested mushrooms could be mashed and put into a safe place deep down in the earth (safe for, say, at least 400 years). The harvesting would have to be done on special agricultural machines driven by people wearing protection suits.

Wouldn't this reduce the contamination by orders of magnitude after several harvests? Has this approach ever been seriously considered?

Bruno

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the voice in your head said...

The planting/harvesting of mushrooms is not so easy and most varieties cannot be cultivated and only grow in the wild. The ones that can be cultivated--indoor and outdoor types--need to be coddled and fed for a good harvest. Wild mushrooms propagate from spores or underground mycelium(tiny rootlike network), fruit only when conditions are just right, and most thrive symbiotically with other plants.

Easier to plant sunflower and hemp :-)

Anonymous said...

Enter your comment...This is from wikipedia Corium Corium (and also highly irradiated uranium fuel) has an interesting property: spontaneous dust generation, or spontaneous self-sputtering of the surface. The alpha decay of isotopes inside the glassy structure causes Coulomb explosions, degrading the material and releasing submicron particles from its surface.[42] However the level of radioactivity is such that during one hundred years the self irradiation of the lava (2 × 1016 α decays per gram and 2 to 5 × 105 Gy of β or γ) will fall short of the level of self irradiation which is required to greatly change the properties of glass (1018 α decays per gram and 108 to 109 Gy of β or γ). Also the rate of dissolution of the lava in water is very low (10−7 g·cm−2 day−1) suggesting that the lava is unlikely to dissolve in water.[43]

Bruno said...

@the voice in your head

Thank you for your answer. Do sunflowers or hemp absorb cesium as well as mushrooms? Maybe a plant maximizing cesium intake could be bred or genetically engineered, best with easy harvesting methods? What do you think?

Of course there is also much contamination in the Japanese mountains and harvesting there could be difficult. The forests would have to be chopped down as well...

CaptD said...

Here is where I think the Black dust is coming from:


EQ's + Corium(s) + Ground water = fissioning => radioactive steam releases => Black Dust

the voice in your head said...

Hi Bruno,

Quite frankly the Soviets looked at all decontamination possibilities after Chernobyl and except for implementing some very basic ones, they came to the quick conclusion that decontamination would be a daunting job. They just declared a "no go" zone. Granted the Soviet Union had no lack of arable land so this was relatively easy doing.

Sunflowers and hemp my not be as effective as mushrooms at concentrating caesium and other radionuclides but they can do the job. The advantage is that they are cheap, very easy to grow and very easy to harvest. Same goes for hemp.

Yes, it would be possible to breed or genetically engineer a plant with the properties you state. All it would take is someone wanting to do it. Proper decontamination or even avoidance of radioactive elements does not seem to be on Japan's priority list though. That is the real problem.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

As I wrote in the previous post, a farmer in Iitate-mura did find the sunflower ROOTS to concentrate way more cesium than the other parts of the plant.

the voice in your head said...

Link about hemp and radioactive waste decontamination.

http://www.hemp.net/news/9901/06/hemp_eats_chernobyl_waste.html

the voice in your head said...

Someone needs to start a breeding program for a sunflower plant with big roots and short stalks! Bury(you have to dissipate) them very deep in the ground somewhere remote after harvest.

Bruno said...

Thanks for the interesting discussion.

Is there any way to present a petition to the Japanese diet or to a Member of Parliament in Japan? Maybe this way such a breeding program could be enabled.

I'm not Japanese, but let's cooperate to put together a well-founded petition. Maybe we could get help from Japanese (agricultural) scientists.

Bruno

the voice in your head said...

Bruno, you are making the mistake of assuming that people in the higher echelons of Japanese government do not have this information, which has already been gleened from all manner of extensive studies done post Chernobyl disaster, readily available to them. They do! Information on phytoremediation IS readily available. The real problem is that the Japanese government and the nuclear industry are trying to down play, deny and bury the consequences of the Fukushima nuke disaster because of fear of economic collapse and panic, and the nuke industry is just looking after its interests as usual and wants desperately to maintain its fictitious facade of NPPs being safe.

I would bet 1) hardly any average Japanese citizen would want to sign a petition 2) petition would be ignored once in the hands of a government official.

Anonymous said...

Could be from reactor 3 (plutonium?):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvPGCYk6taQ

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 6:32PM, probably not. This black thing was found sometime in January.

Bruno said...

@the voice in your head

Sorry, I don't want to be annoying, but we could at least try, perhaps with help from Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama and others. What do you think?

Bruno

Anonymous said...

Bruno, have you read any more articles on this blog? If you have then you cannot fail to understand how difficult it is to implement any sane solution to a problem the government denies exists and the majority of Japanese citizens are all to willing to do the same. That's what you are up against.

You are welcome to contact Professor Kodama, nobody is stopping you. Just don't expect all the anonymous posters here along with the blog owner to set our names and coordinates on a petition that will, if we are lucky only end up in the trash. We are anonymous for a reason. People here want to drop TEPCO execs into the reactors head first if they get the chance and you want TEPCO to get a hold of our names.

Bruno said...

I respect your privacy and I acknowledge that the petition might have been a bad idea.

On the other hand, I strongly believe in democracy. (We Germans tried out the alternatives on the right and on the left in our history and, believe me, we're absolutely fed up with them.) One shouldn't underestimate the people. Maybe the next Japanese election will change things (hopefully also the burning of radioactive debris). Moreover, almost all nuclear reactors have been shut down in Japan. So they got at least that one decision right.

What do you suggest to improve the situation? What could I contribute from Germany? I donated 100$ to the author of this blog several weeks ago for of the wealth of information and the cultural insight I received here. Thanks again to all of you and especially arevamirpal::laprimavera!

Bruno

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Anonymous said...

So, how does it feel to live in a country that has radiation everywhere? I can't imagine living with radioactive, air, water, food, housing, cars, pets, clothing, gardens, kids, grass....everything being contaminated!

Oh yeah, and the politicians are radioactive, too! Thank God they will be shortening their lives.

All who are caught in this money pit called nuclear power, are constantly being lied to! Clean, cheap, safe energy as the ads said.... not a single benefit has EVER happened!

Except GE has made billions on the dangerous nuclear technology, they can't engineer correctly!

G-Greedy
E-Energy Maggots

Anonymous said...

Bruno, the most effective thing you can do, and this includes everyone, is to continue to oppose the nuke industry in your own country.

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