Radioactive sediment found miles from Japan nuclear crisis zone
Residents in the nuclear crisis zone undergo radiation screening tests last month in Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture.
October 12th, 2011
02:46 PM ET

Radioactive sediment found miles from Japan nuclear crisis zone

Officials in Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, are investigating soil samples after a radioactive substance was found in sediment atop an apartment building about 155 miles (250 kilometers)  from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to news reports.

The discovery has raised concerns that leaked radiation from three Fukushima reactors that suffered meltdowns after the March earthquake and tsunami may be more widespread than thought, The Japan Times reported Wednesday.

The findings come after a travel alert issued by the U.S. government last week, warning Americans in Japan to avoid areas near the stricken reactors.

The alert recommends that U.S. citizens stay away from areas within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the nuclear facility. The State Department also admonished Americans to stay away from territory northwest of the plant in a zone that Japan calls the "Deliberate Evacuation Area." The zone includes Iitate-mura, the Yamagiya district of Kawamata-machi, Katsurao-mura, Namie-machi and parts of Minamisoma.

The radioactive isotope strontium-90 was detected on a rooftop by a private agency responding to a resident's request, The Japan Times reported.

Strontium-90 has been found in Japan at concentrations up to 20 becquerels before the nuclear crisis, The Japan Times said. The latest discovery found the strontium-90 level at 195 becquerels, according to the paper.

Since strontium-90, which has a half-life of 29 years, is widely dispersed in the environment and the food chain in trace amounts, external exposure is minimal, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. With internal exposure at high concentrations, strontium-90 can accumulate in the bones and is “one of the more hazardous constituents of nuclear wastes,” according to the EPA.

Meanwhile Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the embattled utility whose territory includes the nuclear crisis zone, held a disaster drill at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power, according to news reports.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Energy • Environment • Japan • Nuclear • World
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Idiots

    Why are you all such idiots? Is trolling worth it? If you think that ten times back ground levels is a problem, never go into your basement. (Radon) never get an x-ray, and god forbid getting on a plane. Maybe if more people understood high school chemistry, they would freak out just a little bit less. OH NO! RADIATION!

    October 13, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • JonJon

      Radioactive isotopes of all kinds have been released from fukushima. Some of them are known to be lethal is small doses, and all can effect tissues and DNA. The real idiot here needs to do his homework and understand at this stage of the crisis, most people are starting to understand the difference between external radiation dose and internal emitters and risks. The ICRP risk model which you are referring to unknowingly, has been drafted in the early 50s to promote nuclear weapons and energy. It is still in use today, even though DNA was not discovered until 1953. The ICRP risk model became the standard by which the UN, the WHO and the IAEA all base their assumption on radiation risks. It is absurd. One only needs to look at the effect of Chernobyl on women and children in the Belarus region. 30% of kids are in intensive care and 80% of women have pregnancy issues. all this data has been ignored by the UN , the WHO and the IAEA.

      October 13, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • cyclobrown

      except none of that is 24-7 exposure at 9.5 times the normal rate

      November 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jeannie

    Dear JonJon,
    THANK YOU! I am so thankful for your informed response. It is refreshing to read your response to the above. Thank you for taking the time to do this. In the years to come, when the consequences are being felt and the heart ache for families ensues, I hope we will, as a planet truly convert to alternative forms of energy. It's long overdue.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. etchuta

    Maybe "Idiot" above should put his money where his mouth is and start investing in real estate in Fukashima.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aaryam

    Just FYI all the properly peer rievewed published work done since at least 1997 shows elevated backgrounds up to around 100mSv pa to improve health and reduce cancer rates, which increase with reducing radiation below 100mSv pa and also increase from that rough level. That's 11.4 microSV/h optimum . Lots of well rievewed literature from high natural backgrounds, elevated Radon levels in building, radiaoctive appartment blocks and radiation workers, Check our Dr Bernard Cohen's early work on Radon which set out to show the improvements removng Radon from basements and found the opposite effect , a video of his presentation from back then is on You Tube.. Problem is the regulators have not caught up with the science, which produced these unexpected results which mean the whoe regulatory framework requires serious review to avoid massive human cost and inconvenience quite avoidably. (The results are not a philospohical surprise if you consider we evolved on a radioactive planet powered by an unshielded nuclear fusion device and are ourseleves noticeably radioactive as part of being human. The natural hypothesis are we evolved to work best with a certain level of radiation, too much is bad, getting it too fast is worse, much too fast lethal, and too little is bad. Just like Sunlight in fact.)The LNT hypothesis was disproved in 1997, no radiation is bad, some is good, too much is bad again. Its called Hormesis and applies to electromagnetic radiation (Sunlight), and many poisons as well. Don't function so well or at all without them. Safe radiation levels are much higher than was guessed at with some artificial nuclear weapon fear politics thrown in when no one knew. We do now.100,000 pregnacies were terminated in E Europe after Chernobyl because of ingorance of the effects of low level radiation on the foetus. Avoidably. Through ignorant advice. Such avoidable effects of irrational fear are inexcusable now we know better. Reply

    March 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
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