Monday, April 30, 2012

Ministry of the Environment's Logic on Disaster Debris: Radiation Exposure Would Still Be Less Than World Average


For reasons known only to themselves at this point, the Ministry of the Environment continues to push for the wide-area disposal of the disaster debris in Miyagi and Iwate which also happens to be radioactive. A ministry official, Mr. Hiroshi Nakamura, manager of the waste disposal and recycle section at the local Kyushu branch of the Ministry of the Environment, held a meeting in Kumamoto City in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, one of the furthest prefectures from Fukushima I Nuke Plant in Japan mainland.

Questions and (non-)answers from the meeting, and additional Q&A between Asahi and the Ministry after the meeting, as reported by Asahi Shinbun Kumamoto local version (4/27/2012; emphasis is mine, my comment in blue):

(In the meeting)

Q: がれきの焼却灰が埋め立て後、地下水に影響を与えることはないか After the ashes from burning the debris are buried, will there be any effect on the groundwater?

A: (Mr. Nakamura): 計算上は安全 According to our calculation, it is safe.

Q: がれきの運搬費用はいくらか How much does it cost to transport the debris to Kumamoto?

A: 資料がない We don't have any information.

To the 20 questions that the Kumamoto prefectural government had prepared for the meeting,

A: 被災地は早期のがれき処理を望んでいる。詳しくはホームページを見て The disaster-affected areas want quick disposal of disaster debris. For details, please visit the website of the Ministry of the Environment.

(Asahi (Kumamoto) questions to the Ministry of the Environment after the meeting; absolutely brilliant non-answer after another)

Q 国はがれきの処理を3年間で終わらせる計画。期間を延長すれば、被災地で全量を処理できるのでは? The national government plan is to dispose the debris in 3 years. If you extend the time-frame, wouldn't it be possible to process all the debris in the disaster area?

A 被災地では仮設焼却炉を約30カ所に整備しているが、処理が追いつかない。処理が長期間に及べば、企業誘致などの経済活動にも支障をきたし、復興の妨げにもなる。 There are 30 temporary incinerators being built in the disaster area, but still not enough capacity to process. If the debris processing takes longer, the economic activities such as inviting businesses to the disaster areas will be hampered, which will delay the recovery.

Q 被災地から遠く離れた九州で処理する必要があるのか? Why is it necessary to dispose the debris in Kyushu, far away from the disaster area?

A 岩手、宮城両県は計約400万トンについて広域処理を希望している。一方、受け入れのめどが立っているのは約100万トン。地元では仮設の焼却炉で対応しているうえ、隣県での受け入れにも限界がある。焼却炉の増設よりも既存施設を使わせてもらったほうがコストも安い。 Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures want 4 million tonnes to be disposed in wide-area disposal. Of that, only 1 million tonnes may be accepted. In the disaster areas they are building temporary incinerators, and there are limits to how much the neighboring prefectures can take. It will save money if the existing facilities are used, instead of building new incinerators. [Existing facilities are not made to handle low-level radioactive waste; they are made for burning household garbage.]

Q 熊本までがれきを運搬する費用は? How much does it cost to transport the debris to Kumamoto?

A 受け入れ量や距離、交通手段によって異なるので即答できない。 I cannot answer right away because it depends on the amount of the debris, distance, and method of transportation.

Q 焼却灰の放射線濃度は1キロあたり8千ベクレル以下であれば安全と言うが、受け入れ総量が多ければ放射線量が多くなるはず。総量の基準は? You say it is safe if the radioactivity density of the ashes is less than 8,000 becquerels/kg. But if the total amount of debris is larger, the total radioactivity will be higher. Is there any standard for the total amount of radioactive materials?

A そのような声はあるが、基準はない。日本人が日常生活で大気や宇宙から浴びる年間の放射線量は世界平均の2.4ミリシーベルトに対し、1.48ミリシーベルト。仮に最終処分場の作業員が1日8時間の労働時間のうち、半分を8千ベクレルの焼却灰のそばで作業したとしても被曝(ひ・ばく)線量は最高で年間0.78ミリシーベルトだ。これを足しても世界の自然放射線量の平均より低い。灰を50センチ以上の土で埋めれば放射線をほぼ100%遮蔽(しゃ・へい)でき、住民への影響もない。 People ask us that, but there is no standard. The annual radiation exposure in Japan in daily life from the environment and from cosmic rays is 1.48 millisievert, compared to the world average of 2.4 millisieverts. [No. These numbers include internal radiation.] If a worker in the final disposal site spent half of his 8 work-hours per day near the ashes with 8,000 becquerels/kg, the maximum annual radiation exposure would be 0.78 millisievert. If you add that [to the national average of 1.48 millisievert], the radiation exposure would be still lower than the world average. [And therefore it is OK?] If you cover the ashes with 50 centimeters or more of dirt, the radiation would be almost 100 percent blocked, and there would be no effect on the residents nearby.

Q 熊本は地下水が豊富。焼却灰が地下水などに漏れだすおそれは?Kumamoto has a lot of groundwater. Any possibility of the ashes contaminating the groundwater?

A 基準以下の焼却灰は通常の埋め立て処理ができる。処分場は汚染水が土中にしみ出さない構造だが、焼却灰が水と接触しないような埋め方をしてもらい、付近のモニタリングを徹底していけば問題はない。 If [the radioactivity of] the ashes is less than the safety standard, you can bury as normal waste. [That's what the Ministry has arbitrarily decided, with no scientific basis.] The disposal site is built so as to not allow the contaminated water to leak into the soil. As long as the ashes are buried to avoid contact with water, and monitoring is done properly, there will be no problem. [And what if they aren't, and it isn't?]

Q 仮に実害が出たら国はどう責任をとるのか? If a real damage occurs, how will the national government take responsibility?

A 広域処理をお願いするがれきの放射線量は微量か不検出。被害はないと説明している。当然、風評被害などを招かないように情報発信には力を入れたい。
The radiation of the debris for wide-area disposal is minute or not detected. We've been telling people there is no damage. Of course, we will do our best to inform people so that there is no baseless rumor. [Meaning the government won't take any responsibility other than disseminating information to prevent baseless rumors.]

Such trust-inspiring answers. Kumamoto is hardly contaminated from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident at all. And the government wants to bring the debris whose burned ashes may contain 8,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive ashes.

So what is the true purpose of this exercise?


Anonymous said...

They were telling people there'd be no damage from having nuclear reactors in the first place and not maintenancing them properly, too.

The crystal ball predicting the future they are so confident in is obviously failing to provide accurate information.

Anonymous said...

Companies buy contaminated crops and produce biofuels

Ethonol from Chernobyl contaminated land.

Anonymous said...

We've been buying our vegies and some other goods from Kumamoto-ken's antenna shop here in Tokyo. Now that I've read this, no longer.

Anonymous said...

Biofuels made from the contaminated crops from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Chernobyl crops turned into Ethanol.

Anonymous said...

It's a race among the nuclear nations - they competing to find out which nation can raise the world average radiation level the most.

According to the international scientists who authored the New York Academy of Science document titled Chernobyl
Consequences of the Catastrophe
for People and the Environment

"Some have estimated that “the fallout from
Chernobyl adds only about2% to the global
radioactive background. ”This “only” 2% mis-
takenly looks trivial: for many populations in
the Northern Hemisphere the Chernobyl doses
could be many times higher compared with the
natural background, where as for others (mostly
in the Southern Hemisphere) it can be close to
zero. Averaging Chernobyl doses globally is like
averaging the temperature of hospital patients."

Anonymous said...

#1. they have no credibility. they have proven themselves to be incompetent. they have proven themselves to be deceptive. I don't believe any claims of safety.

#2. the absence of proof of danger is not proof of safety. when human life is at stake, extreme care is needed.

#3. there is absolutely no need for transporting this garbage. I don't believe it is preventing Tohoku redevelopment. in fact, the economic statistics I hear indicate Sendai has become something of a boom town.

#4. if the garbage does need to be moved, it could easily be stored in (a) the tsunami zone where NO buildings should be reconstructed now that we know the damage possibilities - whole towns in Iwate fit this category. or (b) the no-man's-land near the Fukushima power plant which - for much longer than they are now admitting - will not be of any other use to the Japanese people. use it to store the garbage.

#5. Noda and his cabinet have a 26% approval rating. Kumamoto and the rest of Japan should ignore their requests and prevent them from despoiling their environment.

#6. Nuclear power is evil. If Noda wants to give his buddies in industry some handouts, have them start decommissioning nuclear plants instead.

Keep fighting Japan. The enemy is scared. We can defeat it if we keep pushing.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Many in Japan are surprised that 1 in 4 still supports the Noda admin.

FallOutMan said...

Professor Chris Busby commented on the burning of nuclear contaminated waste in uncontaminated areas of Japan. The only possible reason he could see for burning contaminated waste in uncontaminated areas (and thereby contaminating all of Japan) was to "eliminate the control group".

It would be very embarrassing to the nuclear industry if people could easily compare the health status of those living in say Tokyo with people living in the extreme north or south of Japan. By contaminating the whole country , disease and death rates will be evened out. Thus eliminating the control group and protecting the Nuclear industry from both reputitional damage and further financial damage from angry victims looking for compensation.

With no uncontaminated control group left, it makes it very much harder for people to quantify the damage that was done to their health.

Contaminating the whole of Japan in this manner is a simple financial decision for the Nuclear industry.

Anonymous said...

after 16 glorious years I am leaving Japan tomorrow with my 2 year old girl and moving back to Australia.There are just too many powerful people telling lies and avoiding the truth in Japan now.My trust in Japan has diminished,and as much as it pains me and has cost me a good job and a happy lifestyle, I cannot risk my infant's health.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the widespread disposal of debris and the low dose radiation that accompanies it will cause harm, and that it should not be allowed.

However I don't believe that "eliminate the control group" is the goal of this government decision. With all that is going on near the plant, there should be a huge difference in cancer rates between Fukushima and places like Kyushu, even with the debris burn. The difference may be reduced by the spreading policies and by the poor controls on the food supply, but there will be enough noticable death and disease in the area around the plant that it will be impossible to deny it.

No I think there is something else behind the debris spreading program. Most likely money for the people who will transport, burn and dispose of it.

Or maybe it's just a standard government planning template for large disaster recovery - spread the garbage around to speed recovery - a plan that they thought they will need when Tokyo or Nagoya gets destroyed in a big earthquake, but which seemed applicable to the Tohoku disaster also. And since it would be forbidden to say that the low level radiation in the debris is harmful, the planners had to proceed with executing the plan regardless of what common sense would tell a normal person. Then, once announced, they could not lose face by turning back.

Well, we've called you on this one. Spreading the debris is a bad idea. Don't do it.

It is time for this government to step down. It has failed the people of Japan. Debris spreading and pushing contaminated food onto the market are unforgivable mistakes. They should quit now. The longer they wait, the greater their risk of a future criminal tribunal finding them guilty of crimes against humanity.

As for Iwate and Miyagi, their governments and peoples should be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to send this waste outside their prefectures. Many people outside of Miyagi and Iwate - including their CHILDREN who long ago moved away from Miyagi and Iwate for jobs - don't want to process their garbage. They should not force the waste on the people of the other prefectures, even if the federal government will allow it. I have been to Miyagi and Iwate several times and enjoyed it greatly. However, I will not be going back so long as they choose to proceed with this program. They also should act to prevent this rape of Japan's environment from moving forward.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 12:04: It will be a difficult adjustment I'm sure, but you are doing the right thing. Please pray for us.

To Anon at 11:51: I don't believe the "eliminate the control group" hypothesis. The most they could hope for at this point would be to reduce the difference a bit; besides it would be easier for them to simply cover up the statistics on paper.

No, I suspect what happened here is that they had a template disaster recovery plan that would have been used for a big disaster in tokyo or nagoya. that plan involved spreading waste to speed rebuilding. they saw a use for the plan with the large tohoku tsunami event and decided to use it. however those responsible did not dare take into consideration the fact that the debris would have harmful levels of radiation because the government's propaganda campaign has from the start been to minimize fear about radiation from Fukushima. the only thing they could do was ignore it, as if the material was not dangerous. I suspect they were afraid to even THINK about radiation concerns, let alone raise issues about it in planning discussions. Can you imagine how quickly the first guy to raise this question would have been shut down by the pro-nuclear cronies in the government? I think nobody dared mention it, so the plan got announced without due consideration. then once announced, it was impossible to take back.

just one possibility. there is also the possibility that it's a handout to the waste disposal and transportation companies. or that it's being done to win favor among voters in miyagi and iwate.

in any case, I don't think they planned to eliminate the control group.

to ALL: Please understand that we also need to hold the government and people of iwate and miyagi accountable for their role in debris spreading. they should be doing more to find ways to avoid imposing this waste - which is much worse than routine tsunami debris - on the rest of the country. there are a lot of people outside miyagi and iwate who do not want this waste burned in less contaminated places like kyushu, okinawa and hokkaido. Even if the federal government allows it, miyagi and iwate should not be sending it.

I have had nice visits to miyagi and iwate myself on several occassions. I even had plans once to move to sendai. however I will not be going back so long as they choose to impose this debris on others. it is unforgivable.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

Anon @9:45 Thank you! This is what I have been saying for a long time. Maybe now everyone will understand. Just like Ethonol from Chernobyl contaminated land is usable. So, will alcohol from sake made from contaminated rice be usable to further decomtaminate land.

Chibaguy said...

@KSB, you are confusing two talking points. Also, decontamination is a myth. Try it for yourself and you will see why. Furthermore, it is not okay to contaminate anything with radionuclides.

Anonymous said...

I'm not at all an expert on any of this, but the groundwater contamination would probably worry me the most. Bury the ashes and make sure it doesn't come in contact with groundwater? How on earth can that be done? It does rain over there, no? If I'm not mistaken, keeping water away from anything radioactively contaminated has proven a challenge all over the world, even in nuclear storage facilities specifically designed for that purpose.

Apart from spreading this stuff around being wrong, the groundwater issue worries me the most.

Anonymous said...

Eliminating the control group is just one part of it. I thought it was already established that they're paying each other to burn the debris. It's a money thing.

The other major factor is denial. I get the impression that Japanese people have a very strong attachment to their lands (reasonably so). Even if there was an undeniably devastating and fatal disaster that encompassed Japan in its entirety, I can't imagine most of them leaving their country unless they had absolutely no other choice.

Older people are probably the most stubborn ones. They know the effects of radiation won't affect them as much and they won't be around to see the future, so they don't care. Their priority is to pleasure themselves at everyone else's expense for as long as they can.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

Anyone who has a dosimeter of their in Japan please try this. Find something that is contanimated and then clean it with some sake and take a new reading. You will find a good difference.

Anonymous said...

TONS of speculation on this topic and no real investigative journalism. So, what is the published data on the "stack tests" and how much radiation is released from incineration from the stacks? According to Ex SKF lots of "ordinary people " know the answer to this, and it is only in Japanese, but no one has published the data to the English speaking audience. Several days have passed and the MoE has not responded to my email asking just such a question, at their site and according to their English email format.

According to Dr. Koide in theory radiation could be captured using a bag or ceramic filter, but he was not certain about this either. Mostly what we get from Ex SKF is hand wriinging in the form of scaremongering. Well, of course it is very stupid to spread the stuff around the country but this is hardly the biggest issue that faces Japan, considering the danger of no. 4 collapsing, but hardly any stories on that from Ex SKF.

Kinda weird.

But even if the ash issue is such a concern, how about some actual research about how it is treated? Some articles have documented it being dumped in Tokyo Bay or in Gumna and it is alleged to be treated as normal waste and not as nuclear waste (as it would be in the US). But the more data and reporting the better.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

Personally, if it were up to me the best treament I can think of off the top of my head at the moment would be to build a wetland in an area that is already contanimated. Once the acidic concentration of the wetland is established which you will know from the smell of sulfur or rotten egg like smell. Then slowly add a solution made from the ash into the wetland. This is not an instant cure. The acid will over time work on reduction of anything in the ash and just as importantly keep this soil wet which will prevent it from becoming air born.

Chibaguy said...

@KSB, look up what a dosimeter is for before making such an uneducated comment.

@anon 2:57, I trust you do not live here. Spreading of debris will happen no matter what. Speculation re # 4 is fear mongering. Even professor Takeda is not concerned about this due to the explosion and short lived isotopes. Focus on what will be sent into the jet stream.

As for my opinion, this is a shell game and they are doing this on purpose to either cover up the origin of cancer or to stop people from buying food just from the south. Anyhoo, corporations win.

Anonymous said...

The strategy of the government to eliminate the control group is to declare all food in the market as save. This way, people in the south will eat contaminated meat, milk and fruits. Internal radiation is so much more efficient to increase cancer rates in your 'control' group.

The spreading of the debris has three reasons.
1. Money for the transportation business and wast handling businesses.
2. Stop the 'baseless rumours'. After burning it is ensured that no place in Japan can advertise that there is no Cs or other radionuclide from Fukushima NukePlant in their products. Might be little, especially compared with Tohoku made stuff, but that is not important for the government. Everywhere it will be.
3. Distract people's attention by doing obviously stupid stuff to push more worrisome things through. As an example: I am still wondering how much fertilizer, like cow-shit and rotten leaves from last year are currently spread all over Japan. That stuff is much more potent to contaminate the currently more cleaner agricultural areas in southern and northern Japan.

Anonymous said...

KSB... Your wetland suggestion is probably the worst reclamation idea I have heard to date. Perhaps you should stick to washing your dosimeter with sake instead of drinking so much rice wine. Go blog for Obammie or Mutt... They could use your expertise.

Sorry, but I call them as I see them. You seem sincere albeit a bit confused.

Face it folks in Japan... Your teamsters Mafia are the equal if not superior to any waste management crooks in America.


Anonymous said...

The national government in japan hasnt got a fucking clue, even the local TV news here in Kumamoto ran this story and even they were at a loss as to what the fuck this wanker from the government was talking about as he couldnt answer the questions..... total incompetence as usual by the powers that be.

Anonymous said...

@anon at 2:57am, whatever your personal vendetta with the blogger, you won't get information by insulting him. Your accusation of him "fear-mongering" is simply ridiculous. For that, why don't you ask your favorite expert like Gundersen who has been saying since last year that burning the debris will contaminate the entire world all over again? He must have some solid data to back his claim, don't you think? Or is he allowed to say that without any data?

@KSB, shut up, and stop single-handedly lower the quality of comment section even more. It's bad enough already.

howardtlewisiiiffy said...

I have heard and seen in print the statement that several hundred Japanese elected officials have been assassinated by underworld figures. The reasons for many of these murders did not affect the organized crime syndicates but rather imported business interests. Indeed, if the illogical genocidal procedure of the Japanese government is because of fear of Bush41 and his reported direction, this problem should be communicated worldwide and locally and cooler heads allowed to work more efficiently for containment.
Commissioning, siting and licensing of this Fukushima facility in the center of the most active tsunami zone on earth on the beach was Bush41, Rockfellers' and Pres. Nixon's push.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

LOL, I did post dosimeter didn't I. =) Well, come on you all know I meant gieger counter. Hopefully, everyone understands too that I meant low level radiation for the test. Do not go into a high level area to test this.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

By the way, I do apologize for my error. I am stretched a little thin these days.

Still, it will help. Overtime once the sulfur base in a wetland is established it will also generate nitrogen. It's a slow and natural method but it is better than leaving areas dry where wind spreads the problem.

Anonymous said...

Take a container of talcum powder out into your local park and spread it around everywhere there is a surface. Wait for a week or at least until it rains.
Then go outside and try to pick up every bit of talcum powder that you spread.

It's impossible even on a small scale.

Japan will NEVER be able to clean these areas. As CHERNOBYL is FOREVER so is FUKUSHIMA.

And the next, and the....

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

Ahh but if you go into your local park and spray alcohol everywhere there is a surface, you may lower low level radiation. If you dig up the soil that is high level radiation and soak it in nitric acid you again make progress.

Anonymous said...

To the KSB Bashers:

Suggest you consider the video at

before being too harsh on Karen. She's been through a lot herself.

Anonymous said...

The rain has already washed some of the substance into the soil so your alcohol wouldn't even reach it. And then the soil would dry and hold the substance until it was picked up by the wind and then deposited miles away from where you had scattered it.

CHERNOBYL has 1,000 square kilometres of useless land FOREVER.

It would be safer not to let humans scatter it in the first place. Humans cannot be trusted with nuclear power.

You may be optimistic after Chernobyl but you would be stupid after Fukushima.

Anonymous said...

KSB, why are you even in this forum? Buzz off please.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with KSB on everything either, and I certainly think she's wrong about nuclear power being necessary to meet the world's energy needs, but I think her heart is in the right place and that she might come to understand the absurdity of the nuclear energy case given enough time and study.

She's also a victim. She has worked in the nuclear industry and may not have been treated so well by them. News story at

I think you might decide to give KSB a break, and a little more courtesy. I think we can help her understand our side.

Anonymous said...

KSB - I assume you are the same Karen Brackett desribed in the newscast linked above, and the same Karen Sherry Bracket that ran for Tennessee congress in the 1st district. If this is a different person, please do let us know.

Anonymous said...

"..Radiation exposure would still be less..."

some people never listen and never learn!
Because it is more profitable to lie to the public in order to make profits with their connections.
Many time more more dangerous than the exposure is the radionuclide particles intake in people bodie. By inhaling hot particles, ingesting them or absorbing them with our skin -scalp - eyes and also drinking them. These are, by far, what Japanese should be mainly avoiding. And burning contaminated debries will increase these dangers strongly. I would never want to live in a country that does this.

Anonymous said...

Karen Sherry Brackett worked for Nuclear Fuel Services in Tennessee as a nuke fuel operator for under a year before the canned her nutty ass. Then she went into politics and lost. Now she is trying again.

Google her and find out how truly nutty she is. She's got a Facebook page too.

Anonymous said...

KSB can dump her problems to her psychiatrist, not here. It's getting bad enough with other nuts.

Anonymous said...

OT, and at the risk of being chastised again by some anonymous commenter or another, once again a plea for civility and some food for thought:
What a person says about others says more about this person him-/herself than what it says about those others!

Anonymous said...

mscharisma - spot on. thanks for reminding everyone

Anonymous said...

Yes, argue the point not the person.

All the reports from past nuclear disasters ALWAYS stress the containment of particles. Do NOT spread them. Deal with it in situ.

The money or favors the prefectures get from cooperation with the government will not protect their constituents from particles and resulting cancers.

Anonymous said...

Some things are worth arguing about, preferably civilly, but crap deserves crap.

Anonymous said...

Ms Charisma, mind your own posts will you. No one needs your pleas for for what civility you personally think is lacking or what people's posts say about them.

Anonymous said...

@anon at 3:44: Yes, I'm sure people who come here for information, thoughts, ideas etc. need insults and negativity much more than pleas for civility. (sarcasm off)

Anonymous said...

Exactly, people come here for information, thoughts, ideas...not stupid crap coming out of a former nuke fuel operator who is encouraging the idea of Tennessee having the resources to build enough reactors to "power the nation". Or that dropping a couple of atomic bombs on Fukushima would do the trick.

Kiss the crap coming out of Karen's ass if you must but spare giving the rest of us your pompous lectures on civility.

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