Friday, February 3, 2012

Fukushima Farmers to Flip the Soil, Sprinkle Zeolites and Potassium to Lower Radioactivity

And call it "decontamination".

Why do they keep disturbing the contaminated soil? Why do they insist on growing anything?

First from Mainichi Shinbun Fukushima local version on flipping the soil (2/3/2012):


On February 2, there was a demonstration of "flipping the soil" on the rice paddy in Oohisa-machi in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. Flipping the soil is one of the measures considered for decontaminating the farmland.


By flipping the soil so that the top soil and the subsoil get exchanged, the absorption of radioactive materials by the crops will be prohibited. In the demonstration, 30 centimeters of the top soil was dug up, and replaced with the subsoil using 4 large farm machines.


According to the official of the prefectural government, the air radiation level at this rice paddy on February 1 was between 0.3 to 0.42 microsievert/hour. After flipping the soil, it dropped to 0.23 to 0.3 microsievert/hour, which the official called it "a success".


150 farmers living nearby participated, watching the demonstration. They voiced concerns, saying "It will require expensive farm machines", "How are we supposed to do it when the city's plan for farmland decontamination is not there?"

Air radiation dropping from 0.3 to 0.42 microsievert/hour to 0.23 to 0.3 microsievert/hour is a success? 28% reduction for all the trouble, and radioactive materials will simply flow in from the surrounding mountains.

How are they supposed to do this "decontamination"? Well, farmers will do it with what small machines they have, and will not turn soil that deep if a council set up by Fukushima City has its way. Farmers will till the land like they always do every year, radioactivity or no, about 15 centimeter deep, as they sprinkle potassium and zeolites. And call it "decontamination".

Also from Mainichi Shinbun Fukushima local version (2/2/2012):


A council met on February 1 in Fukushima City to discuss how to decontaminate farmland in Fukushima City and Kawamata-machi, and confirmed that they would decontaminate all the farmland in both municipalities starting February 2012 and ending by the end of March next year. The national government's policy is to subsidize the decontamination methods of "flipping the soil" or "deep tilling" that use large equipment to replace 30 centimeter of top soil with the subsoil. However, the council dismissed these methods as "impractical", and instead would use the farm machines that the farmers already have and plow.


The two municipalities decided to cooperate in decontaminating the farmland last fall, and set up a council made up of officials from both municipalities, Fukushima Prefecture, and JA Shin Fukushima.


Decontamination will be done on all 2727 hectares of rice paddies and 1533 hectares of fields excluding the planned evacuation zone in Kawamata-machi (whose decontamination will be done by the national government). Farmers are to sprinkle zeolites and potassium, and plow the land with their farm equipment. Priority will be given to the areas with high air radiation levels and whose crops have been found with high level of radioactivity.


On February 1, there were opinions voicing doubts over the decontamination methods shown by the national government. Not enough large equipment was one concern. Others said if the soil was flipped, then the poor soil would be on top, which would not be productive for years. As to the cost, the council would ask the prefectural government and the national government for the subsidy.

So, in Fukushima, almost everyone will effectively become radiation workers, like it or not, either by becoming decon workers to be preferentially hired by large general construction companies who will exclusively do the decon jobs in Fukushima, or by being farmers growing crops in Fukushima. As for the children of these parents who will "decontaminate" the land, Dr. Yamashita will be there to collect their data.


no6ody said...

It seems that they are putting in potassium so the plants are less likely to pick up cesium. The zeolite adsorbs various ions, but throwing it in the dirt is not likely to do much other than enrich zeolite producers--Japan produces lots of zeolite. Besides, plant roots may be able to pull ions away from zeolite, given time.

Is this just a show? (Duh.) Personally, I like the phytoremediation idea, even if it didn't work so well before. If we're going to get a show, might as well get some flowers out of it, rather than 'hot' crops.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

They should grow mushrooms to pull radioactive materials and other toxic materials out from the soil.

Chibaguy said...

On 3/12/2011 they should have put a stop to all of this until they could figure out the ramifications. By allowing them to plant in the first place they started a cycle that cannot be stopped. From a long term prespective this may seem as an experiment (meaning decades) but from a short term perspective in years this will just contribute to Japan's demise. Most people tell me that the Japanese will just grin and bear it but unlike most things, this will not work and Japan will become a second tier country once the world finds out how many people have been diagnosed of cancer. Japan will surpass Chernobyl as to places one does not want to visit.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to admit defeat. Various such things were tried after Chernobyl. It took almost two years before the contaminated areas were finally left alone.

Post a Comment