Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yokohama's Solution of Ever-Increasing Radioactive Ashes from Sewer Sludge: Dump In the Ocean as Landfill

It's not that I'm picking on Yokohama City but I am just so amazed, more than anything else.

As I said before, my image of Yokohama City has been cosmopolitan, international, modern (i.e. what tourists think). In the nuclear crisis like Japan has had since March 11, I would have assumed the city like this would act in a conservative, responsible way that would never harm any of the residents or the visitors.

In addition to its poor judgment in using radioactive beef for lunches at kindergartens and elementary schools and not admitting it for a long time, and just recently spending a large amount of money to create a PR pamphlet to tell Yokohama residents that radiation is nothing to worry about, the city is going to dump radioactive ashes from the sewer sludge into the ocean as landfill material, starting mid September.

Newspapers reported on September 10 that Yokohama City would start burying the ashes from sewer sludge in its final processing facility in Naka-ku (special ward). According to the city, the ashes measure less than the national safety standard of 8,000 becquerels/kg and therefore they can be disposed in a normal manner. The ashes have so far tested the maximum 6,468 becquerels/kg.

What the report didn't show the readers is this: Photograph of this final processing facility, "Minami Honmoku Waste Final Processing Facility" (from Yokohama City website), which turns out to be a landfill site on the Tokyo Bay:

Below the photograph, the text explains how the ashes are to be brought in:

"Ashes from the incineration plants are to be moistened with enough water, and fly ashes are to be mixed with cement and solidified. They are then to be loaded on a truck and go straight to the processing facility."

A city's assemblywoman's site has a picture of how the disposal is done: go straight into the ocean.

The protection? The walls that separates the wider bay and the area designated for landfill (see the picture above).

She also says there is a fishing park nearby where the city residents come to enjoy recreational fishing. Also, Minami Honmoku Pier, where this final processing facility is located, is a major container port, with cargo handling volume in 2009 well over 12 million tonnes. There are still many fishermen who do commercial fishing in Tokyo Bay.

Yokohama City's plan is to fill this area with radioactive ashes and other industrial wastes, and build a site for offices and businesses. The plan basically says what ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary and soon-to-be Minister of Economy has said all along, that it is safe enough and there is no immediate effect on health.

The plan freely admits that some minute amount of radioactive materials (they only talk about cesium, of course) will leak into the environment - in this case the ocean, marine life, beach sand, and fishing nets of the fishermen. But in conclusion, it declares that the safety of dumping radioactive materials in the landfill is proven "scientifically" because the estimated amount of radiation leaked into the environment is within the level deemed safe by the experts with whom the City consulted.

Well, this is the city whose mayor has said any food item is considered safe if it is sold in the marketplace. At least she asked the experts this time.

But I don't think even the Ministry of the Environment was thinking of the radioactive ashes being dumped into the ocean when they came up with the 8,000 becquerels/kg cesium "safety" limit.

And this mayor of Yokohama City, what did she say she wants to accomplish? Attract more foreign tourists with lively art scene.


Anonymous said...

"Attract tourists…"

Many commenters are amazed that the Japanese don't take to the streets and riot against what it put onto them. Yesterday an old friend visited and talking on the subject of services in Japan etc. he said "Japanese do not complain when they get bad service or product. They will just stop buying and go elsewhere." This is an important trait.

Whenever I speak to neighbors, friends etc. in the area, everyone tells me how they know of other people who are moving away, selling their house (with a loss of course, the housing market knows that the area is a hot spot) and simply go. The change is just very quiet and perhaps a minority, but it is happening. In a Japanese way.

"I want to run away to Tokyo, but there is no work. I could never understand why people in Chernobyl didn't flee, but now I'm in the same situation."

Anonymous said...

Koto-Ku and Chiba are doing the same thing, dumping in to the Arakawa.

Anonymous said...

Minamata all over again.

Anonymous said...

In Japan right now there are riots every two weeks in shibuya, tokyo, however for every 3 protesters there is 1 policeman, this last 9.11 DEMO or Riot people said that the pressure of police over the demonstrators was quite strong, cutting the riots into parts to make it look smaller and not loudest as much as possible.

Hopefully they are smart as they are characterize to be.

They suggested asking for the International community media to help to uncover all this whole conspiracy against their people from Tepco and the Government, stopping the nuclear plants as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Philippe here,
fair enough, your last line.
Slums in your city, with 100% colored / poor / adicted people? Use the artists.
Open facilities for artists, build them studios etc..
Only artists would take it.
Then some bobos also move in. Bobos are bourgeois-bohemiens.
Prices of the real estate recover slowly, and later steadily.
The unvanted population moves away little by little, and then steadily. It's a proof strategy.

Now what about, say... an internationnal sculpture symposiums in Ibaraki? I bet you'd get the funding quite easily.

Anonymous said...

What is the international legal position on this?

Is Japan dumping in its national waters? What about the effects on international waters?

Is nuclear dumping such as this allowed under international legal conventions?

Is is not covered say by one of the treaties or conventions listed here?

Anonymous said...

All of these asinine actions only go to show why nuclear should never be in the hands of humans.

Anonymous said...

"Is nuclear dumping such as this allowed under international legal conventions?"

Lol, yea. In their own territorial waters? Anything goes. It's called being a sovereign nation.

Anonymous said...

Internation community is also keeping the Fukushima issue under a press blackout. In fact a lot of nuclear issues are not in the press. On international concerns, RUSSIA has actually done aomething quite interesting. They were reported to have dome a "fly"over or around Japan, with the flight path following perfectly the shoreline of Japan. High in the air but with a definate and unusual path. Wonder if they were collecting AIR samples? Or AIR and photographs? or able from the altitute to map radioactivity on the ground? They did learn a lot from Chernobol. Will the flyover data be provided to others? Unknown at this time. But does show concern....

Anonymous said...

Nuclear plant explosion in France, check the news.

Anonymous said...

It was at a reprocessing facility not a nuclear plant.. there are no reactors at that facility. Grow a brain before you comment.

Anonymous said...

3 Eyed fish soon to be at Yokohama Market.

Anonymous said...

I find your comment offensive. You could correct the poster without insulting him/her.

Anonymous said...

If this is such a safe way to get rid of nuclear waste then why didn't the Japanese practice this method of waste disposal before 3/11? What other countries use radioactive waste for building material? Back in the early days of nuclear power in the US many people were poisoned by using uranium mine tailings for foundations and concrete filler. At first it was considered "safe" but after a few decades people realized the radon levels in their homes and commercial buildings were through the roof. The Japanese waste isn't just cesium it has other ignored isotopes that will create daughter products as it decays.

@Anon 5:57

My google search of "France nuclear plant explosion" came back with 18 million hits.
I've got news for you not all nuclear plants produce power some produce fuel and others store waste they are still called by the generic term nuclear plant.

Apolline said...

Smoking gun about Fukushima :

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger,

I have a question about the handling of radioactive ashes. A post in Sunday, 14th August, in your JP version of EX-SKF, titled "震災被災地のがれき焼却処分に手を上げた全国の自治体名"

The places shown in the bottom of the post, are they trying to say that radioactive debris or waste dump from Fukushima had been transferred throughout Japan to be burned into ashes and buried?

Sorry to ask about an old post here.


Anonymous said...

@ Anon 3:23

"What is the international legal position on this?"

The UN has a tendancy to look the other way when it comes to dumping nuclear waste into the sea. most nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities around the world pump "safe" levels of contamination into the ocean at various places around the world.

You can search the OSPAR publications for the following documents and more.

"Liquid discharges from nuclear installations in 2009"

"Discharges of radioactive substances from the non-nuclear sectors in 2009"

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Article 1 (Definitions), 7., of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, (the London Dumping Convention) states:

“Sea” means all marine waters other than the internal waters of States, as well as the seabed and the subsoil thereof; it does not include sub-seabed repositories accessed only from land.”

Anonymous said...

There are no nuclear reactors at that french site. Producing fuel and having a sustained nuclear reaction in a nuclear reactor are two separate things.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if Rense actually provided some references for his post. Otherwise its all just talk.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon 9:24AM, it is the list of municipalities that have said they have facilities to accept disaster debris (possibly radioactive) if asked to do so.

Re: Rense article... Can anyone tell me how a boiling water reactor can enrich uranium? What is this person talking about?

Apolline said...

About Rense article, there was a secret laboratory inside the reactor...

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 4.15pm:

Annex 2 of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972 (http://www.
1996.html) does not permit the dumping of radioactive sewage sludge in international waters.

Under what domestic law is such dumping permitted in Japan's internal waters?

And if radioactive sludge is dumped in Japan's own internal waters, doesn't that mean that whatever is dumped has to stay there?

Since the word "sludge" suggests something less than solid - possibly soluble, even - how does Japan's government propose corralling these radioactive sludges in order to prevent them migrating from its own internal waters to international ones?

Other signatories to the 1996 Protocol would have a case against the Japanese government once such wastes do begin to migrate.

China, South Korea, and the Philippines among others are signatories to the original 1972 London Dumping Convention, to which the 1996 Protocol attaches.

Anonymous said...

The sludge is turned into cement before being dumped. The article mentions this.

There are not riots in Shibuya every two weeks. There are not riots in Shibuya, ever. There are sporadic, and peaceful anti-nuclear protests around Tokyo from time to time. There has not been any rioting going on in Japan.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon 3:38PM, the last the assemblywoman asked the city officials, sludge ashes will be moistened with water and dumped. Only the fly ashes will be cemented.

Johntaro said...

Thanks for the 411. It seems like folks in Yokohama have been kept largely in the dark about this (outside of minor coverage of the city's announcement in the local section of a couple of papers). Yesterday a group of seven people (let's call them the Magnificent Seven)who just learned about the dumping got together to pen a petition to the mayor of Yokohama. Today they held a press conference (that could viewed on Ustream) at the city office. Actor and anti-nuke activist, Taro Yamamoto, was also there but no one from the city showed up. At least the word is out and just in time for the Dextro Energy Triathlon to be held in Yokohama (a third of which will of course take place in the water) this weekend.

Anonymous said...


This is a fascinating story, but there are a few questions that spring to mind. I hope someone can help me clear them up (hopefully no flaming! I'm on your side!)

1. I want to know where the dumped ashes are coming from. Is this waste from Fukushima? If so, is it being dumped across the country?
2. If it's above the "safety standards", wouldn't it just be diluted by the ocean anyway?
3. What is the medical view on this? Have any doctors commented on this?


FigNewton said...

Good information, Johntaro. From the Triathlon website:

"14/09/11 - The Yokohama Triathlon Organising Committee (LOC) has confirmed that the city of Yokohama is NOT importing any radioactive wastes until the races (Sept. 18-19) are over. (!!!!!!) The city announced last week that the low-level radioactive waste ash would be installed in a landfill area in Minami-Honmoku, Yokohama after the authority confirmed its safety to local public..."

This triathlon would seem like a good place for a protest; plenty of cameras, media, and local politicians acting nice. (idea).. :D

Anonymous said...

"Yokohama after the authority confirmed its safety to local public…"

She was on TV today saying it was safe, but the public doesn't seem to understand, so she will work on making them understand.

Anonymous said...


"There are no nuclear reactors at that french site. Producing fuel and having a sustained nuclear reaction in a nuclear reactor are two separate things."
September 12, 2011 11:34 AM

Thanks for telling us everything you DON'T know.

Marcoule operates the Célestin PWR to create Tritium in addition the Pheneix reactor that was just shut down in 2010 along with shuttered reactors G1,G2,G3.

Anonymous said...

Oh great, the radioactive sewage sludge is encased in concrete.

Because sea water never degrades concrete, does it?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is just a rare natural phenomenom and only happening at three beaches I visit in Kansai (Suma,Maiko=kobe) and Okura (Akashi)
but I have NOT seen ONE jellyfish this year.
In other years the Jellyfish are out in their thousands after about August 15th every year and sometimes before.
We have had 3 big typhoons too.

No Jellyfish.Not one.
I wonder how the rest of Japan's beaches fared?

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