Sunday, December 23, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Sanjo City's Detection of Plutonium in the Iwate Debris and Soil Causing Excitement on Twitter

I saw several tweets (like these) today that has links to articles, posts about detection of strontium and plutonium in the fly ashes before and during the test burning of the disaster debris from Iwate Prefecture in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. The city also disclosed the strontium and plutonium measurement of wood chips and soil samples from Iwate. There are even those retweeting an English article based on the Sanjo City test result, as if that gives some legitimacy to the fact that plutonium has been found.

Yes indeed, strontium and plutonium (Pu239+240) have been found. What these articles and tweets do not mention is that the levels are well within the background; they are actually much lower than the background measured in the past.

21 months after the nuclear accident, there are still enough people who see these articles and posts and freak out, "Look, there is plutonium detected! See how bad the Fukushima accident has really been! They've been lying to us!"

I know I'm totally wasting my breath here, as people believe what they want to believe anyway. But first, the PDF file from Sanjo City:

Plutonium 239+240 in wood chips from Otsuchi, Iwate, 0.0019 Bq/kg.
Plutonium 239+240 in soil samples from Otsushi, Iwate, max 0.13 Bq/kg.

Here are tables created from the Japan Chemical Analysis Center database.

Plutonium 239+240 in soil in Iwate Prefecture, from 1999 to 2010: Highest in 2004 at 2.6 Bq/kg. 0.27 and 1.6Bq/kg in 2010.

Plutonium 239+240 in soil in Niigata Prefecture, from 1999 to 2010: Highest in 1999 at 0.45 Bq/kg. 0.15 and 0.22 Bq/kg in 2010.

Strontium 90 in soil in Iwate Prefecture, from 1987 to 2011 (grassland picked for comparison, as Pu measurement is mostly on grassland): Highest in 1987 at 20.35 Bq/kg, 6.5 and 7 Bq/kg in 2011.

Strontium 90 in soil in Niigata Prefecture, from 1963 to 2011, intermittent (grassland): Highest in 1964 at 49.284 Bq/kg. 0.46 and 0.58 Bq/kg in 2011.

If the fly ashes only measured 0.016 Bq/kg of plutonium 239+240, that's actually low, considering the incineration condenses the per-kilo radioactivity by 100 to 300 folds.

Someone else in Japan recently fabricated the story that Hawaiians are suing the Japanese government and TEPCO because uranium of Fukushima origin has been detected from the urine. That spread very quickly on Twitter among people who do not/can not read English. I found out that the original English article was about depleted uranium in the army base. This someone is one of the few in Japan who clearly get a kick out of spreading false information.

For people who do not read or understand English well, these pieces of information accumulate like scums clogging the sewer, with no means to clear it.

For people who are not that curious to ask questions like "What was the background before the Fukushima nuke accident?", I don't know what to do.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the strange willingness of people to be confounded by apparently straightforward scientific evidence or discussions:

Harper’s Magazine has put out their yearly Index and some of the numbers are… interesting. The subjects range from government numbers to Girl Scouts to, yes, climate change and demonic possession. So let’s take a little trip through numberland and see the way the wind is blowing.

Starting with the number of people who believe in climate change, we can note that Canadians are pretty on-the-ball when it comes to this: 98% of them accept the overwhelming evidence. The percentage of Americans who do is 70, while only 48% of Republicans attach any weight to the problem. On the other hand, Republicans accept demonic possession at a rate of 68%. Apparently evidence means nothing to some people.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Thanks for the clarification. I saw an article about it earlier today, only glancing at the numbers, and they looked very low.

Mike said...

It is frustrating to see people focus their attention on the wrong things. As you have chronicled on this blog, therer are abundant and enormous problems of contamination stemming from the Fukushima disaster. Misplaced concern, however genuine, over low level detections like this only reduces the credibility of opposition efforts.

All this time later, I am still reading your blog every day. Thank you for all your hard work!


Anonymous said...

Daily continued inhalation of Plutonium from wind or rain is harmful, and ultimately lethal, in any amount.

"Because it emits alpha particles, plutonium is most dangerous when inhaled. When plutonium particles are inhaled, they lodge in the lung tissue. The alpha particles can kill lung cells, which causes scarring of the lungs, leading to further lung disease and cancer. Plutonium can enter the blood stream from the lungs and travel to the kidneys, meaning that the blood and the kidneys will be exposed to alpha particles. Once plutonium circulates through the body, it concentrates in the bones, liver, and spleen, exposing these organs to alpha particles.

Anonymous said...

anon at the top, climate change used to be called global warming, and both have been the religion for Democrats. You derision for Republicans is amusing.

VyseLegendaire said...

Does plutonium exist in nature? Maybe the discovery of the plutonium should be a wake up call, even if it is unrelated to Fukushima.

However the way this article is worded, you might get the impression that Fukushima disaster is spewing nutritious multivitamins. People have a reason to be suspicious...

Unknown said...

The plutonium is from atmospheric nuclear tests.

Anonymous said...

Yes,the literature one can read online points to the hypothetical existance of naturally occuring Plutonium in minerals comprised of Uranium and Beryllium,presumably a few grams unevenly distributed throughout the mineable crust of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Does plutonium exist in nature?"

Plutonium in the environment since the mid-20th century has primarily been due to human activity. The majority of plutonium isotopes are short-lived on a geological timescale. It has been argued that some natural plutonium (the very long lived 244Pu isotope) can be found in nature. This isotope has been found in lunar soil, meteorites, and in the Oklo natural reactor. But in general it is normally considered that the bulk of all plutonium is man made. According to one paper on marine sediments for plutonium in marine sediments, bomb fall out is responsible for the majority of the 239Pu and 240Pu (66% and 59% respectively of that found in the English Channel) while nuclear reprocessing is responsible for the majority of the 238Pu and 241Pu present in the sea (bomb tests are only responsible for 6.5 and 16.5% of these isotopes respectively).

"about 66% of the plutonium from a bomb explosion is formed by the neutron capture of uranium-238; this plutonium is not converted by the bomb into a high fired oxide as it is formed more slowly. As a result this formed plutonium is more soluble and more able to cause harm when it falls to earth."

Anonymous said...

It's kind of hard to blame the public most people don't realize the Earth is still contaminated from bomb tests (and the rushed efforts to make these bombs). That doesn't include all the other accidents around the world that go under reported or not reported at all. Most people you ask wouldn't know there was a failed nuclear reactor in Antarctica (NukeyPoo)or that dozens of remote nuclear lighthouses in the former USSR were ransacked for scrap metal in many cases the power source was unwittingly stolen or exposed.

If it wasn't for the efforts of an NPO (Bellona) the IAEA wouldn't even know there was a lighthouse problem. There were 132 of these RTG powered navigational devices strewn across the Arctic but the Russians can't locate all of them. This should be front page news across the globe but TPTB don't want their nuclear apologist to be shown to be effectual fools so it stays on the back burner.

Darth 3.11 said...

Nuclear lighthouses? What the heck? Never heard of this before...

Romi Elnagar said...

While there may indeed be false reports about uranium in Hawaii and other matters (such as whether or not the massacre at Sandy Hook was a "false flag operation"), the reason that people believe such reports is because our experience of governments (both Japanese, American and many others) has been that they knowingly lie to us. If we did not know for a fact that the US government has lied to us on everything from the safety of atom bomb tests to the presence of WMD in Iraq, stories about uranium in Hawaii would get no more traction than stories of aliens on the moon. If governments really wanted us to start believing that they had our best interests at heart, they would stop leading us into unnecessary wars, experimenting on people of color, spying on their own people and would force nuclear power plant operators to insure themselves. Until that day arrives (and I do not expect it any time soon), people will continue to hold governments responsible for everything radioactive and evil, even when it turns out not to be the case.

Anonymous said...

"Nuclear lighthouses? What the heck? Never heard of this before..."

Yes, The US also experimented with a few one was sited near Baltimore Md:

"The Baltimore Lighthouse became the world’s first nuclear powered lighthouse in 1964, when a 60-watt isotopic power generator was installed. According to a local newspaper, this generator was “smaller than a 55-gallon oil drum,” and was reputed to be capable of supplying an uninterrupted ten-year flow of electricity without any maintenance or refueling. The installation of the generator is shown in the photograph to the right, but it was removed two years later as the Coast Guard was concerned with “cost and environmental considerations.” "

Then there was the SNAP 7D that powered a (N)avy (O)ceanographic (M)eteorological (A)utomatic (D)evice

SNAP-7D Navy NOMAD buoy, Gulf of Mexico (January 1964)

"As well as being used in satellites, radioisotopic power generators, called SNAP in the U.S., and RIPPLE (radio isotopic power packages for electricity) in Europe are also used in a number of industrial and maritime applications. These include offshore oil platform power sources, sonar transducers, Coast Guard buoys and light house energy sources used by U.S., European, Soviet and other government agencies. Inventories of radioactivity in U.S. SNAP units utilizing strontium in the form of SrTiO3 ranged from 30,000 to 225,000 Ci as of November 1968. Units under development at this date may contain up to a million curies. Little unclassified information is available on these radioisotopic power generators or any resulting accidents which have occurred after the development and proliferation of these technologies. source:

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