Miyagi Prefecture, whose governor has simultaneously insisted that there was no radiation contamination in his prefecture and that his prefecture needs support (aka money) from the national government to deal with radiation contamination, has been found with firewood very much contaminated with radioactive cesium, the only radionuclide that the government cares to measure.
The Ministry of the Environment survey found the firewood from southern Miyagi tested high in radioactive cesium, with the maximum of 730 becquerels/kg in one town. If you burn this wood, the resulting ashes would contain 132,860 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.
From Yomiuri Shinbun (2/10/2012):
The Ministry of the Environment announced on February 10 that radioactive cesium 18 times the national safety limit [40 becquerels/kg] was detected in the firewood from southern Miyagi. The ministry had been conducting the test of firewood and the ashes from burning the firewood in southern Miyagi for radioactive materials.
Radioactive cesium 7 times the national safety limit [8000 becquerels/kg] was detected from the ashes.
According to the ministry, the test was conducted in 9 municipalities in southern Miyagi on January 26 and 27. In 6 municipalities, the densities of radioactive cesium exceeded the national safety limit (40 becquerels/kg): 730 Bq/kg in Murata-machi, 670 Bq/kg in Shiraishi City, 460 Bq/kg in Marumori-machi. In 4 municipalities, the ashes exceeded the national safety limit (8000 Bq/kg) for safe disposal as regular waste: 59,000 Bq/kg in Marumori-machi, 28,000 Bq/kg in Shiraishi City.
On receiving the results, the Miyagi prefectural government is calling the residents not to use firewood for baths and stoves, and to keep the ashes in bags and store them.
The news probably came too late for many people in Miyagi. But after 11 months, isn't it time people started to think for themselves? Or am I asking too much?
The Ministry of the Environment has a press release of the result, here.
And contrary to popular belief in Japan, a researcher at Tokyo University of Agriculture says that radioactive cesium has penetrated deep inside the wood. So, even if the bark is stripped off the firewood, radioactive cesium is still there in the wood.