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Fukushima Soil Contamination Probed 95

Posted by timothy
from the unless-you-want-giant-beans dept.
AmiMoJo writes "New research has found that radioactive material in parts of north-eastern Japan exceeds levels considered safe for farming. The findings provide the first comprehensive estimates of contamination across Japan following the nuclear accident in 2011. An international team of researchers took measurements of the radioactive element caesium-137 in soil and grass from all but one of Japan's 47 regions. The researchers estimate that caesium-137 levels close to the nuclear plant were eight times the safety limit, while neighbouring regions were just under this limit."
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Fukushima Soil Contamination Probed

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  • The only thing that surprises me is that someone seriously came out with a study prior to this one saying the soil was A-OK after what happened.
    You'd have to be pretty dense to believe that.
    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:03PM (#38060540)

      The only thing that surprises me is that someone seriously came out with a study prior to this one saying the soil was A-OK after what happened.

      Of course, if you read TFA, you find that the legal limits are only exceeded in the area immediately around the plant, and that everywhere else it's fine.

      In other words, we have this exclusion zone. And we shouldn't be farming there....

      • As is assumed, I was merely commenting that TFA mentioned a prior article that goes against these findings.
      • MUST SEE VIDEO!!:
        Japanese officials confronted with question wether people in Fukushima has the same rights as other people to protect themselves against radiation, and their surprising answer:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rVuGwc9dlhQ [youtube.com]

        VIDEO: Fukushima children forced to drink radioactive milk at school:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Aq4JG9ULVNE [youtube.com]

        Fukushima-get up to date on repressed news:

        http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/much-of-northern-japan-un [endoftheam...ndream.com]

        • by Steeltoe (98226)

          I hate it when establishment-defenders mods a perfectly good post down (referring to moderators).

          Exactly why I de-bookmarked /. years ago. Too many closed minded elitists who seek to mute those opinions that disagree with their own world-view. Good luck believing this latest propaganda-piece which is not based on any real measurements, but on theoretical models.

          Can't be bothered reading facts of course. Feelings of cognitive dissonance with the establishment would hurt too much.

          This is not even worth my ti

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by DrBoumBoum (926687)

      I have to quote each time this topic pops up those two idiots [slashdot.org] on slashdot on March 16. 2011:

      AnonGCB (1398517) says:

      It's funny because what is happening in Japan is exactly why Nuclear Power is SAFE! An earthquake 7 times more powerful than the biggest it was built for hit, and all that happened to the reactors that didn't shut down cleanly was a small amount of radioactive noble gases, which decay within minutes. Even if the cores DO melt, they're safely contained in ... wait for it... containment chambers!

      Containment chambers indeed! On which kannibal_klown (531544) answers:

      Hey, I know it. But Joe Sixpack is gonna say "But look at their problems now, I don't want that here." Bla bla bla

      Beavis and Butthead anyone?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No. based on the evidence at the time, it was a reasonable conclusion.

      Don't allow confirmation bias to cloud your hindsight. And it's not nearly as bad as the headline makes it look.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      It sounds to me like you just read the summary and stopped there. Or maybe I am just pretty dense. Why do you accept think this study disagrees with the other one? And if it did, why would you favor this study over the other one? If you read the articles, they are actually talking about two different things.

      The original study is [nature.com] you scoff at is based on nearby measurements, while this new one is based on mathematical modeling. The original study measured plants at "around 9 becquerels per kilogram, muc

  • Mostly estimates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:01PM (#38060494)

    The study seems to be based on few actual measurements, it is mostly a modeling of how the material spread. Additional measurements are needed in the areas where the model predicted high dosage.

    • by mcguiver (898268) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:46PM (#38061030)
      The exciting(?) thing about this study though is how small of an area is contaminated beyond the legal limit. Since Cs is the major radionuclide that was released then these mappings should also be closely correlated to background doses. Given the conservative estimates that are used for setting regulations I am even more convinced that the general Japanese public is in essentially no danger from the radiation. I would like to see a more detailed analysis of the area right around the plant but given the picture in the article it gives me hope.

      Many in the anti-nuclear crowd like to spout off and say that Fukushima has rendered vast amounts of land unusable for generations [helium.com]. This news actually bodes well for the Japanese people that in a couple of years all the land that was previously not part of the power generating stations might be returned to original state.
      • Re:Mostly estimates (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:47PM (#38062890) Homepage

        I am even more convinced that the general Japanese public is in essentially no danger from the radiation.

        I agree, and to put my money where my mouth is I will be back in Tokyo and Chiba next month. I was there when the accident happened too and at the time I calculated that I probably received more radiation from a few years of flights than I did on the ground.

        Still, the scale of the economic problems this is causing cannot be ignored. I'm not just talking about the contamination, the delay in getting other nuclear power plants back on line has to be considered too. Unfortunately due to the nature of nuclear power it does take longer to check, repair and re-start reactors compared to other forms of energy. Japan has few natural resources in terms of oil, gas or coal so the government put a lot of money into nuclear. Over-reliance on a single source is generally a bad idea, but at least now there are viable alternatives that didn't exist 10 years ago like solar thermal and wind.

        • by borrrden (2014802)
          I've been in Japan the entire time :). The offline power is quite a problem, and we may have to go through the rolling blackouts against this winter. That and the tourism hit is becoming really bad for Japan economically.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:04PM (#38060548) Journal
    If memory serves, protocol for maximizing survival after a nuclear 'event' requires feeding the most contaminated food materials to elderly people, or people without useful skills, as the former are likely to die of natural causes before radiation-induced cancers get them and the latter do not enhance group survival chances.
    • by edxwelch (600979)

      > feeding the most contaminated food materials to people without useful skills
      You mean give to the marketing and advertising people? Good idea

      • by PIBM (588930)

        You forgot lawyers!

        • by idontgno (624372)

          No need. They'll prey on the marketing and advertising people. Well, they'll try to prey on everyone, but because M&A has been weakened by low-level chronic radiation sickness, they're the ones naturally selected.

          Or, to not coin a phrase, "I don't have to outrun the lawyer; I just have to outrun you."

      • by Pope (17780)

        Sure, and the rest will die off from an infectious disease contracted from an unsanitized telephone.

      • And for maximum poetic justice, get them to market the contaminated food to each other, precisely on the basis that it will only kill people who have outlived their usefulness!

        Wonder what clever ad campaign they'll come up with to dupe each other into death...

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:09PM (#38060610) Journal
    Although the land won't be suitable for farming for many years, botanists already know how to accelerate the cleanup by using plants that soak up radiation and contamination like sponges (phytoremediation.) Such contamination studies have been done at several major universities (including my own local one, which cleaned up an area that had been contaminated with non radioactive mercury within one year.) The question is whether Japan will swallow its pride and have its farmland turned into short term radioactive gardens. [mhhe.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not only that, the mad botanists can use all that delicious radiation to make our food taste even better, and grow an army of monster plants so that nobody dare mess with them in class!

    • by squizzar (1031726)

      What happened to 'the solution to pollution is dilution'. Depending on the foodstuff, why not just ensure that the contaminated stuff is mixed with a suitable quantity of the good stuff. Works fine for ergot (and mouse urine/faeces) in wheat, and no doubt there are lots of other contaminants in food at 'acceptable' levels that people simply aren't aware of.

      • The Japanese are already diluting contaminated food with good food! I read not long ago about them mixing in bad rice with good rice to dilute the radiation exposure; making more 'bad' food as a result. I realize this sort of thinking is just fine for all our food, like how rats and mice are in our grain products and are spread out or how much shit their is in McDonalds low grade meat (look it up, its all real.)

        Eating a little shit is NOT the same as a little nuclear waste. I don't want some particle in me

        • I'd rather get cancer than the hantavirus.

        • by borrrden (2014802)
          What you are referring to is the "effective half life" which is calculated using the radioactive half life (the one everyone is familiar with) and the biological half life (how long it takes your body to excrete half of the material). Let's take cesium-137 for example, its radioactive half life is 30 years and 29 days. The biological half life is 70 days. In this case, the half lives are so different that the radioactive half life doesn't come into play at all and the effective half life is 70 days.

          Io
  • by slb (72208) * on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @12:39PM (#38060944) Homepage
    So this is a computation using a statistical model to give estimates of the soil contamination, and it becomes facts and measured quantities in the ground. But worse, look at the original scale provided by the authors [pnas.org] of the paper: it clearly shows the areas under 2500Bq/kg, but the journalist conveniently merged it with the upper-bound area and also avoided the use of the green/blue colors usually associated with safe values in any mapping. Maybe the original map had not enough red and orange area for effective scare-mongering ? BBC I am disappointed...
    • by tp1024 (2409684)
      What the BBC does say, however, is that "Some neighbouring prefectures... are partially close to the limit under our upper bound estimate and, therefore, local-scale exceedance is likely given the strong spatial variability of [caesium-137] deposition," the researchers explained in PNAS.

      Note a) the abundance of weasel words and other verbal subterfuge [urbandictionary.com] to imply that things are really bad and b) the map shows the upper bound estimate of the average (or so I presume, given the reference to local scale exceed
  • Food safety will be a major problem in Japan. Supermarket chains usually do not want to release any information about the origin of the food they sell. Addresses provided on the wrapping may indicate just an intermadiary company, e.g. a distributor, a subsidiary, or the packaging company.

    Sooner or later consumer confidence will be destroyed because of radiation risks. It will be difficult for the food consumers to develop any trust in the food they can buy and eat. Chances are high that any domestic produ

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