Mini hot spot emerges in Kashiwa (Japan Times, Oct 23)

CHIBA — A high level of radiation measuring 57.5 microsieverts per hour was detected in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, but municipal officials said the Fukushima No. 1 plant is probably not the source.

The radiation level was detected in an area with a radius of less than 1 meter, on land owned by the city. Readings at locations 10 meters or more from the site detected levels of only 0.3 microsievert per hour, the officials said.

Chiba Pref. city finds major radioactive hot spot on public land (Mainichi, Oct 22)

KASHIWA, Chiba — Officials here announced Oct. 21 the city government has discovered a hot spot emitting extremely high radiation of 57.5 microsieverts per hour on a plot of public land in a residential district.

The new hot spot was found within a radius of just one meter. Radiation levels in Kashiwa and its vicinity are relatively high because of the effects of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis, but the latest discovery of such an intense hot spot in the city’s Nedokoyadai district came as a surprise. City radiation task force chief Seiichi Someya speculates, “It’s hard to imagine that it is due to effects” of the Fukushima crisis.

The city purchased land in the district from the Finance Ministry in around 1957 and built 30 houses, before gradually demolishing them and clearing the land. At one time, the local community borrowed it and used it as a public square.

A resident strolling in the area carrying a dosimeter found the hot spot and notified the city on Oct. 18. City officials checked it with a Geiger counter capable of measuring up to only 10 microsieverts. Chiba Prefecture’s environment foundation took its own measurements and recorded the startling 57.5 microsieverts per hour.

Related news: Radiation hotspot found in residential Chiba (JapanToday)

According to Kashiwa city info:

試料測定日:平成23年10月22日(土)              単位[Bq/kg]






































The October 22 Kashiwa City announcement of the results of the analysis of three dirt samples from the location at different depth (one on the surface, two at 30 centimeter deep) is as follows:

Sample A (at surface level) Radioactive iodine: ND/Cesium-134: 70,200 /Cesium-137: 85,100 / Total cesium: 155,300

Sample B1 (30 centimeters deep): Radioactive iodine: ND / Cesium-134: 87,000 / Cesium-137: 105,000 / Total cesium: 192,000

Sample B2 (30 centimeters deep): Radioactive iodine: ND / Cesium-134: 124,000 / Cesium-137: 152,000 / Total cesium: 276,000

3 tons of radioactive water leaks at Fukushima facility(Mainichi, Oct 20)

Three tons of radioactive water leaked from an absorption unit within a treatment facility that purifies highly radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, said Oct. 18.

The radioactive water remained within the treatment facility and did not leak outside, the utility said.

This is the second-largest amount of radioactive water to leak at the purifying plant since a leakage of 6 tons in June.

TEPCO said the water leakage was found in the radioactive cesium absorption unit manufactured by Kurion Inc. of the United States. The location and cause of the leak are under investigation.

The radioactive water had a cesium-137 concentration of 290,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter. The radioactive water that leaked has already been recovered and restored to the central waste treatment facility where it was originally located, the utility said.

Radioactive cesium detected in Tokyo tea leaves (NHK, October 19, 2011)

Radioactive cesium in levels above the government standard has been detected in tea leaves produced in Tokyo and Saitama, north of the capital. The contamination is believed to have been caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government says 3 brands of tea leaves grown in northwestern Tokyo have been found to contain 550 to 690 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. The government limit is 500 becquerels.

The Saitama prefectural government says it found 504 to 2,063 becquerels per kilogram in locally-grown leaves of 97 brands.

The samples tested by the prefecture were not early-picked leaves, which are said to be more likely to contain radioactive material. The prefecture had already found that such leaves of 14 brands contained radioactive cesium above the limit.

The authorities have asked the producers to dispose of their tea leaf stocks.

Stringent tests planned to map radiation spread after hotspot found in Setagaya (AFP, Oct 13)

TOKYO — Researchers said Thursday they will carry out stringent tests to map how far contamination has spread from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after a radiation hotspot was detected Wednesday in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward.

Setagaya’s mayor said concerned parents monitoring for radiation asked them to conduct further tests on a roadside spot near a kindergarten in Tsurumaki. Researchers found radiation levels of 3.35 microsieverts per hour along the street—much higher than previously reported levels. Setagaya is 220 kilometers from Fukushima.

According to calculations based on the the science ministry’s criteria, the equivalent annual dose in the hotspot would be 17.6 millisieverts, just below the 20 millisieverts per year threshold that requires evacuation.

The reading is also higher than levels measured recently at Iitate, an area in Fukushima Prefecture that has been evacuated.

The reading in Setagaya was taken one meter above the ground near a hedge, national broadcaster NHK said, while other parts of the same sidewalk showed lower readings.

The reading came after ward authorities said Wednesday that levels of 2.7 microsieverts per hour had been detected on Oct 6, higher than levels of less than 0.1 microsieverts in other parts of Setagaya, according to official data.

The higher readings come as more tests illustrate how far fall-out from the Fukushima disaster have spread, with elevated levels of radioactive cesium recently found as far away as Yokohama, more than 240 kilometers from the plant.

Radiation fears are a daily fact of life in many parts of Japan following the earthquake and tsunami-sparked meltdowns at the plant, with reported cases of contaminated water, beef, vegetables, tea and seafood.

Variable winds, weather and topography result in an uneven spread of contamination, experts say, and radioactive elements tend to concentrate in places where dust and rain water accumulate such as drains and ditches.

A spokeswoman for Setagaya Ward did not immediately confirm Thursday’s reading. “We don’t know the cause (of the high radiation levels) yet. We are asking experts to find it urgently and decontaminate the area,” she said.

She added that the high readings have been shown only in a two-meter long area and below 1.5 meters from the ground.

“We also plan to check sand in the ward’s 258 parks over one month from late October,” she said.

Radiation levels in the area have not fallen since the ward’s efforts to decontaminate it on Oct 6, and authorities are instructing children to avoid the walkway as they go to school.

Setagaya Mayor Nobuto Hosaka told TBS: “I thought the reading must be a mistake when I first heard. We will push ahead with decontamination after confirming levels are high.”

Ward officials said that an estimated annual exposure at the spot wouldn’t pose a health danger. They said the area has been closed off and city officials will also survey nearly 260 parks.

Fukushima power plant video shows progress  (NHK, October 23, 2011)

Tokyo Electric Power Company has released new footage of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It reveals the progress made over the 7 months since the March 11th disaster.

The video taken on October 12th by TEPCO workers shows roads that have been cleared of debris and a makeshift levee constructed along the coast.

On the west side of the compound, holding tanks have been set up to store salt water left over from the process of treating highly radioactive wastewater in the reactors. Each tank can hold 100 thousand liters.

However, in areas around the No. 3 and 4 reactors, buildings are still left with collapsed walls and broken windows.

TEPCO explained that there were not many workers seen in the footage because it was taken during lunch break. The operator says that on weekdays 3,000 workers are employed at the facility.

Earlier news: Hot spot decontaminated at Tokyo primary school

Japan’s radioactive seafood problem (Greenpeace, Oct 21)

Since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Greenpeace has been working on the ground in Fukushima prefecture, providing independent information on contamination levels.  More recently, we’ve been testing fish and shellfish (details in Japanese) from five supermarket chains in seven Japanese cities, and what we found gives cause for concern.

We found radioactive contamination in just over half the samples (details in Japanese), highlighting problems with the official government monitoring of Japan’s seafood, and again underscoring its inadequate efforts to protect the health and safety of its people. Up to 88 becquerel per kg of caesium was found in 34 of the 60 samples – that’s well below Japan’s official limits of 500 becquerel per kg, but not so far from the 150 becquerel limit set in Ukraine following Chernobyl.

Despite being below these limits, the contaminated seafood still represents a health risk, particularly for pregnant women and children, and it is putting those far beyond Fukushima at risk as the seafood is shipped to supermarkets far and wide.

Protecting public health and safety during a crisis such as this requires absolute transparency and clear advice. As Japan’s seafood is not being labeled, consumers have no idea if it has been screened, and they are unable to make informed decisions about their seafood purchases. It’s little wonder why the Japanese people are so worried about what they eat.

One supermarket has implemented its own monitoring, but unfortunately, this is no replacement for comprehensive, consistent government screening and labeling. An official, national system is essential to protecting public health, restoring confidence in the food system, and helping the fishing industry recover. This should already be in place given it has been over seven months since this crisis began.

Greenpeace has submitted formal requests to the Consumer Affairs
 Agency, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, and the Japan Chain Stores Association asking that
 seafood product screening and labeling be significantly improved (letters in Japanese).

Protecting people means protecting their health and their livelihoods – Japan’s government must start conducting proper, effective screening and  labelling of seafood, as part of the ongoing recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.