Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#Radiation in Japan: This Is How Japan's Ministry of the Environment Presents "Radiation-Free" Looking Tohoku and Kanto

in order to push for the wide-area processing of tsunami debris contaminated with radioactive fallout from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures which involves shipping the debris as far away as the island of Kyushu, burn it, and bury or recycle the ashes and slags.

Take a look at this clean-looking map created by the Ministry of the Environment in its effort to persuade the municipalities to accept the debris, burn it and bury it, vis a vis the map created by the Ministry of Education and Science from the aerial survey of the air radiation levels. The Ministry of the Environment says it created the map based on the data from the Ministry of Education and Science:

Notice the difference, other than the slightly different color scheme?

The difference is the legends. In the map created by the Ministry of the Environment, everywhere with less than 0.23 microsievert/hour air radiation is painted white. In the Ministry of Education's map, the lowest is less than 0.1 microsievert/hour air radiation, which is painted deep blue.

Whereas the Ministry of Education map further differentiates the areas with between 0.1 and 0.2 microsievert/hour air radiation, in the Ministry of Environment map these areas are still "white".

The Ministry of the Environment puts up this map in its newly created website to aid in persuading the populace into accepting the disaster debris. The map is also in the brochure for the masses, as if the air radiation levels are the same as the density of radioactive materials in soil, water, or the disaster debris.

In the Ministry of the Environment map, there are hardly any areas of contamination in Miyagi, Chiba, Ibaraki. Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa are "white". "Oh, the contamination is only in Fukushima Prefecture. Why are we making fuss about the debris being radioactive elsewhere?"

The slightly elevated air radiation level near Onagawa-machi, Miyagi Prefecture whose debris Tokyo has been burning is shown in the Ministry of Education's map but not at all in the Ministry of the Environment map. For the air radiation levels along the coast of northern Miyagi and southern Iwate (near Rikuzen Takata City for example), all you get to see in the Ministry of the Environment map is that they are less than 0.23 microsievert/hour.

(Good job, Goshi Hosono. I'm sure you will be the next prime minister of Japan...)


kuma shutsubotsu chuui said...

I hate those lying bastards. :-(

Anonymous said...

What is more depressing, deliberately killing children all over Japan , or your comment about Hosono? At least That lessens the chances of Maehara...

Chibaguy said...

The most accurate map I have seen up to date is professor Hayakawa's map. MEXT's map is more general and conservative but this latest map by Hosono's (destruction is production) environment team is an outright lie. In Chiba there is a fight worth noting between Inzai and Abiko re accepting debris from Kashiwa. Why is this area white?

I wish these bastards did not get to travel around in the dark taxis that they use in Kasumigaseki. I know he has kids but I reserve the right to drag him to a hotspot and shovel dirt down his throat.

Anyway, it would be nice to see if professor Hayakawa has a new map including contamination from the burning of debris.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Chibaguy, don't hold your breath. Prof. Hayakawa is all for burning the debris. Quite inexplicable, probably coming from lack of knowledge about the reality of waste management in Japan.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 12:15AM, I can give you even worse choice, Mayor of Osaka backed by Ichiro Ozawa.

Yosaku said...


Tokyo has been incinerating radioactive waste for some time now. My Japanese-language sources are rather limited, but have you seen any evidence of increased air contamination or fallout readings resulting from the incineration? That would make for a handy rebuttal against Hosono.


Anonymous said...

If you have a moment, could you translate this video from the Min. of the Environment link you posted?

Very interested in what the children are being taught.
Thank you

Sebaschan said...

To be honest, I would have done likewise. The old map even showed normal background radiation. So even if everything is normal the map would have been completely blue suggesting that radiation has been found. The new map is fine apart from the fact that they have chosen 0,23 mcSv/h instead of 0,2 can be considered as tuning the outcome :)

no6ody said...

This reminds me of US 'employment' stats. Whatever it is that they are measuring, it is irrelevant. Who cares what the radiation levels are in high up in the air? People don't live there. People live on the ground, and they breathe air may or may not have radioactive particles in it. More citizen measurements, more air filters checked for 'hot' particles--that's what is needed. Not this song-and-dance, which is merely a distraction.

Anonymous said...

Have the Ministers who are pushing .23 uSv/h as radiation-free..MOVE THEIR CHILDREN to the areas close to Fukushima. However, I think you will find the chlidren are already OUT of Japan an in Sinapore or other safe haven. Have them tell everyone where THEIR FAMILIES LIVE RIGHT NOW!

Dr. Bob said...

I like how the blue map shows the contamination stopping right at certain borders, Shiga-ken and the Reinan area of Fukui-ken, for example. Dog help us here in Wonderland.

Anonymous said...

Another great reporting by ex-skf. Thank you!

Sad and pathetic that major Japanese media failed here again. The same info was available to them. They only needed to use an ounce of brain... well, that's too much to ask of them, as we learned since 3/11.

Perhaps we should find out where and how many of the kids and families of top JP government officials and TEPCO executives have moved out of Japan since 3/11 for one reason or another. With the Internet, perhpas people in Singapore, India, and other countries can tell us about such Japanese families when they see or hear about them locally. That would be a good eye-opening news to ordinary Japanese citizens who've been lied about their safety for so long.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Yosaku, citizens' measurements show elevated radiation levels, "official" numbers are supposed to show no change, except they measured the radiation on a different time and/or different day than when they were burning.

@Sebaschan, background in eastern Japan was not 0.2 microsievert/hr before the accident. It was between 0.03 to 0.06 microsievert/hr.

@Dr.Bob, the Ministry of Ed hasn't done the aerial radiation survey of prefectures in western Japan yet, thus the blank map.

Tohoku debris is contaminated with toxic chemicals, arsenic, petroleum, etc., and was soaked with seawater. Good luck burning those off.

Anonymous said...

And the government measures were taken at 18m above ground.
So how can they say the ground is not contaminated? They should measure the ground contamination at ground level in order to know where land is contaminated, not at 18m (or even 30m) above it!!!

Anonymous said...

The government is measuring at ground level.
Knock yourself out:

Anonymous said...

Deliberately killing the children? Oh my.

farfromhome said...

In Yokosuka-city, in Kanagawa-ken it was announced that they will begin receiving and burning debris from Tohoku by the end of March. The US base here is completely silent even though one of the incinerators will be very close to a military housing area. It will be interesting to see of our levels go up further, they are still elevated since 3/11.

When posting on other sites about this I get ZERO response. No one will touch it.

Somehow I guess Americans in Japan will be immune to any of the aftereffects. Fortunately for my family we will leave Japan the first week of April.

Funny thing is the ongoing negativity from Japanese that a US nuclear powered carrier be docked here, but when it comes to spreading contaminated ash and storing it - no problem.

Yosaku said...


Thanks for the info. Do you know what kind of elevated readings these citizens are seeing? Is there anyone assembling this data?


The US military, unfortunately, is well aware of issues with Japan's incinerators. In fact, I met with the Navy JAG who helped bring the first lawsuit against an incinerator in Japan (near Atsugi NAF). Although the suit never came to judgment, it was successful in that it forced the Japanese gov't to buy the incinerator and close it.

Historically, Japan had some of the highest levels of dioxin in the industrialized world thanks to lax standards on their incinerators. Over the past 10 to 15 years, however, they have overhauled their incinerators to bring them up to international standards and the results appear to be good.

farfromhome said...

You may be correct about the improved technology, but I would rather not wait to find out. And yes, the military is 'aware' but they are not educating incoming(or current) members and dependents, instead they too are preaching the safe Japan.

Ever see the movie Napoleon Dynamite? When Summer gives her speech and ends with "Vote for Summer". Every time I see 'Support Tohoku' in terms of such actions as spreading the contamination around, I think "Vote for Summer", just mindless.
I have lived many places, desert included, and Japan has been by far the worst for air pollution in my home. Since our current place does not have central AC/heating we purchased air cleaning machines for each room, and I am not talking cheap ones - IQAir. They work pretty darn good, but I still can literally dust every day! If I turn one off, I can immediately see a difference in the dust build up. So, my point is, this is before they start incinerating on overtime.

Also, what about all of the problems that we see coming out of areas like Kashiwa? The incinerators get overloaded and quit, and then they have so much waste built up that they do not know what to do with it.

It is daunting what Japan is facing, but what I see is the same kind of corruption that put Fukushima in the disrepute state it is being the same kind of thinking in spreading around the debris.

Yosaku said...


Totally dig the Napoleon Dynamite reference. Very apt. Trust me, the government's handling of this whole affair drives me nuts.

I agree with you that the air quality in or near Tokyo is not very good (though definitely better than that in HK!), but I don't think this is due to the incinerators. In Kashiwa, for instance, it was precisely the fact that the flue gas decontamination systems were so effective that the facility had to be temporarily shut down.

Certainly, Japan has to figure out what to do with the contaminated ash (in the US, we would just put it in a RCRA Subtitle C landfill), but in the meantime we can be thankful that it's not going in our lungs.

farfromhome said...

Yes, I am thankful it is not in my lungs. I agree, in the US, we have very different options. I just pray that little children will not end up breathing in more contaminants along with ingesting through food. :(

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Japan is all bad. And certainly the US is no bed of roses, there are many things I am not looking forward to dealing with there once I return. Guess what it really boils down to me is that that I have now seen behind the curtain in Japan and Oz is actually a pathetic, greedy corrupt, mindless creep! And before all of this we were seriously considering extending and possibly retiring in Japan.

Remember, "Vote for Summer" It will be summer all year long...

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Yosaku, I am reading (or trying to read is more likely) a togetter thread on waste management in Japan. The picture is plain ugly. One cannot trust any number the officials tell you. There are reports of people living near incineration plants getting sick, before the nuclear accident. I hope to digest the thread and write about it here, but it's so full of first-hand information from experts in the industry.

@farfromhome, we were seriously considering moving to a place where we would farm and grow own foods and live a worry-free country life, like Iitate-mura in Fukushima. Then the quake/tsunami/nuke accident happened.

Yosaku said...


Thanks. I would be keen to read your thoughts on their discussions. I have no doubt that the government's results on incinerators should be viewed with the utmost skepticism. According to the aforementioned JAG, in the past the ministry only tested incinerators a few times and year and always gave the operator's a few weeks' notice. The operators did exactly what you'd think they would do: they saved up "clean" trash to burn during the inspection. That being said, it is undeniable that the incinerators are doing much better and that their emission levels (e.g., dioxin) have decreased greatly. It should also be relatively easy for us to demonstrate that the incinerators are emitting radiation to the air if that is indeed the case. This would evidence itself in fallout and ambient radiation readings which should be measurable.

Also, I'm sorry to hear that you were hoping to retire to Iitate. My wife and I have often thought about doing the same somewhere in rural Japan, but, needless to say, we are now having our doubts.


I hear you.

farfromhome said...

I think those of us who are so upset by this whole chain of events are those who love(d) Japan, before all of the ugly truth came out following 3/11. Iitate, Fukushima, beautiful places, if you stay far enough from the coast for dwelling purposes. But now ...

We would love the same thing, live off the land if you will. Now we are headed back to the US and reviewing our options there - with a keen eye on NPP's, chemical factories and the like. But we don't stop praying for the people of Japan!

Yosaku said...


I don't know if it helps, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone who leaves Japan, but my wife and I try to keep the following two data points in mind to help us keep things in perspective:

1. Radon
According to the EPA, the average American is exposed to around 2 mSv per year of Radon, although this varies widely based on location. The equivalent in Japan is somewhere around 0.5 mSv. This is due to the differing geology of the two countries, and those of us who call(ed) the Midwest home are more than likely exposed to more than 2 mSv per year. Net-net, my radiation exposure (internal and external) in Tokyo even post Fukushima is most likely less than what I would see in the US.

2. Traffic Deaths
Most experts agree that cumulative added exposure of 100 mSv results in an increased likelihood of death from cancer of 0.5 percentage points. Below that, we get into the world of LNT theory on which reasonable people have different views. (I tend to think LNT is appropriate.)

Where I'm going with this is that your lifetime odds of dying in a traffic accident in the US are about 1.5%; the Japanese equivalent is roughly 0.5%. Now compare that to the increased risk of death with 100 mSv of exposure, and ask yourself how much you worry about the increased driving risk when you go home. Personally, I know I'm much more worried about radiation here than I am about driving at home even though the relative risks are obvious.

Again, I'm not trying to persuade you here (and I should add that stress is a very valid consideration), but we live in a world swimming in risk, and it is extremely difficult to keep these various risks in perspective. I know I struggle with it everyday, and I was trained as an environmental engineer where our focus is things that can kill you.

farfromhome said...

Yosaku - thank you for the thoughtful reply. :)

I agree completely with you about varying risks no matter where you live, it is a gamble that we struggle with. Ultimately, my husband is active duty military so we are now holding orders to go back to the US. We could have tried to extend, but chose otherwise as we had the the choice.

The most difficult thing was actually our children are excelling in the Japanese language and after almost two years of intense study. But I do wonder where things are going here, and nutritionally speaking I am sick of not feeling certain about my food source(let alone water and air). At least in the US I have more options, and we do not eat a typical American diet - very whole foods and organic oriented.

But alas, my heart is sad for Japan.

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