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Radioactive crushed stone may have been used in over 80 buildings, METI says

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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Monday that radioactive crushed stone may have been used in the construction of up to 80 buildings in Fukushima Prefecture.

The announcement comes after radioactive cesium was detected last week in a 3-story reinforced concrete condominium built in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima, last July. Officials say the cesium was detected in concrete made of stones that were left outside at a facility in Namie town within the 20-kilometer evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The level of radioactive cesium was 1.24 microsieverts per hour in the wall of the first-floor apartment. The radiation level was lower on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

The ministry said another building using materials from the same quarry agent association was found to be giving off 0.3 - 0.4 microsieverts an hour.

On Sunday, an association of quarry agents in Fukushima Prefecture asked its members to check the radiation levels of their crushed stone and other building materials to ease public concerns over radioactive contamination, Fuji TV reported.

The company that operates the crushed stone facility said that after the March 11 disaster, it shipped crushed stones to 20 construction firms in Fukushima Prefecture last April and May.

METI said it is possible that the same rock was used in the construction of over 80 other buildings in Fukushima and Nihonmatsu.

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39 Comments
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Hatsoff, thanks for the post.

Obviously I am no expert. I wrote because I saw a lot of bad information and don't want people to perpetuate false fears.

I've already seen people move from their mansions in Tokyo to a "safer" place, in Tokyo, because of cesium readings in soil. They don't realize that their is little risks associated with cesium in soil unless they are growing their food in the soil.

Ultimately, their highest risk of exposure would remain the same no matter where they lived in Tokyo. That risk involves unknowingly buying contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

I filter my water using reverse osmosis. The EPA says RO filters can remove alpha and beta emitters. The tap water should be safe, but there were a few cases where the government and people were caught off guard and the water had contamination. I don't trust the government or businesses. They intend well (most of the time), but they are no omnipotent.

There likely is no benefit from filtering my water to 99% purity. However, it makes my wife feel more secure about our 6 year old. So, it is worth the time and effort to minimize the anxiety.

My understanding isn't completely accurate (thank you for the post and welcome clarifications), although I believe my conclusion is correct, i.e., ingestion of cesium is the real risk and cesium in concrete (probably the best place for it since it is less likely to get into the food chain and us) shouldn't raise a concern.

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@viking68 - I appreciate the information and background you've given.

I'm reading something a bit different to the information you received:

Alpha particles don't travel far but they are VERY damaging. They get stopped by a few centimeters of air or a thin sheet of paper (beta particles don't). They don't go far because they use up all their energy by ripping the air atoms to pieces as they fly past. Ingested (e.g. breathed in or swallowed due to contaminated food), they'll tear up the molecules in your cells.

Beta particles travel further than alpha particles but still don't go very far either, albeit meters rather than centimeters. But they CAN pass through paper and aluminium. However, even a thin sheet of lead will tend to stop them. Beta particles are less ionizing than alpha particles because they don't rip atoms to shreds as savagely.

Beta particles will do less harm than alpha particles as they pass through, BUT they can reach more cells and do 'a bit of harm' to each. Is that a good thing? Not really. Radiation is most harmful if a cell is badly damaged but not killed.

BUT AS YOU SAID, beta radiation is most dangerous if you breathe in or swallow a substance that emits beta radiation.

However, gamma radiation is often emitted with alpha and beta particles. Gamma radiation is a type of electro-magnetic radiation, like X-rays. Gamma radiation can pass through your body without ripping up the molecules in your cells too much (note, too much) .....

.....BUT you need to be quite a long way from the gamma source to avoid receiving too much radiation. (In the same way that we wouldn't want to receive a continuous X-ray because of the cumulative exposure over time.)

So it seems that one danger of cesium-137 is ingesting it via contaminated food, or breathing it in via dust. That will expose us to danger from beta particles. (As you said, drinking bathwater would be a problem because of the ingestion).

However, another danger is from an external source of gamma radiation, which will pass through us like an X-ray. And like X-rays, we need to regulate exposure and avoid being exposed over prolonged periods of time. So it seems that the gamma radiation that accompanies beta decay is the spanner in the works as far as the safety of these buildings go.

My source, among others: http://www.furryelephant.com/content/radioactivity/alpha-beta-gamma-radiation/

But what you said here is something I agree with 100% -

We shouldn't avoid safety issues, but we shouldn't overstate them and become disfunctional because we are overcome with anxiety.

That's why I feel it's important to ask questions and share this kind of stuff. Thanks again.

(Disclaimer: I'm absolutely no expert in this kind of stuff)

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BurakuminDesJan. 23, 2012 - 06:56PM JST

More people will die from eating contaminated food from China, die in one day from car accidents, etc. than will be impacted by radiation.

More will die from smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol too. Does not mean we have to disregard all other environmental safety issues. It is reasonable that people in Japan are very concerned.

Concern, anxiety (a negative emotional state in which the threat is not present but anticipated), fear (negative emotional state triggered by the presence of a stimulus that has the potential to cause harm). Just want to keep everyone's amygdala in check.

We shouldn't avoid safety issues, but we shouldn't overstate them and become disfunctional because we are overcome with anxiety.

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UtrackJAN. 23, 2012 - 10:13PM JST Radioactive cesium decays by beta emission right. That can go through humans like were are not even there. It stop at aluminum.

Huh!?!?, if I thought that, I would have been long gone.

A piece of paper will stop a beta particle. The air after a few feet will stop a beta particle.

The idea of radiation generates more anxiety than is deserved. No, I don't want to live near the plant. I would be more likely to get dosed from food or water living there. Or, I can rely on the government to test my water and food, NOT.

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hatsoffJAN. 23, 2012 - 10:32PM JST @viking68cesium is still only dangerous if ingested You sound confident about this, and it sounds like you know a bit about this stuff (I'm assuming " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" doesn't apply in your case). Could you therefore explain why gamma radiation from cesium is of no consequence?

Here is the EPA's website discussing beta particles: http://epa.gov/rpdweb00/understand/beta.html

I also sat through a Q&A with a panel of U.S. experts on radiation exposure last year. Their opinion was ingestion of beta particle emitters like cesium will dose you. Since cesium's half life is 30+ years, you will be getting continual doses of radiation for many years, which may or may not lead to malignancy.

However, you can take a bath in water saturated with beta particle emitters and have no health effects. Unless, you drank the bath water. The experts made a big point of this.

Therefore, living in the building for 60 years or kids licking the walls will do nothing but cause anxiety.

The U.S. experts did not mention gamma radiation in relation to cesium, but they found no reason to be concerned with non-ingested cesium. My conclusion based for their admissions was there were no gamma ray risks with iodine, cesium, or strontium.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Honest to god if people keep going on and on about how well Japan is doing after this I may scream. It was bad enough that the tsunami and earthquake killed so many people but now the government and some companies seem hell bent on creating more deaths all in the name of money and pride. Japan and the Japanese should be hanging their head in shame for allowing their government and companies to behave like this. I haven't seen anything from the public in terms of demeans from the company nor the government. Not that many media outlets would show it anyway since they're all under control. People call me a Japan basher but christ, how can people sit by and watch all this happen and not have an ounce of anger?

Since day one it has been nothing but lies from TEPCO, the government and the media.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

hats off--If you haven't meant one pro nukes who thinks like that, then you need to look a little more. MOST of the industry thinks like that. Tepco is not the exception. As Koide Hiroaki and others point out, we are facing a possible catastrophe at Genkai in Kyushu because the thing is so old, a form of metal fatigue risks another FD1. Building Hamaoka on active faults. Using people on the bottom economic rung to engage as nuclear gypsies. Covering up casualties in Chernobyl......this is not the exception; it is the norm. Listen to/read Human Error to get an inkling of who what the nuke industry is. If people outside the industry are pro nuke, it is not for lack of evidence how corrupt and irredeemable it is.

Human Error Link http://www.tokyoprogressive.org/content/human-error

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All you Pro Nukers-you should go live there if you think the stuff is harmless (even good for you) Ive heard-I bet then you would change your tune!

Personally, I'm neither strongly pro- nor anti-nuke. If there are safe, clean alternatives (and there are, of course) I think we should pursue them. But when will some people stop this polarized thinking, that if someone IS pro-nuclear power then it somehow also means they agree with lax, flagrant, criminal attitudes to adherence to proper safety (and legally required) safety procedures?

I've never met one pro-nuker who thinks like this!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"We're checking on it..."

Translation - Shouganai

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of these buildings is a hospital, apparently.

lol, just stand in front of the wall to get an x-ray, eh? Actually, I'm not sure that this is a significant amount of radiation. But the whole thing should be taken down and rebuilt. I'm sure nobody is going to want to be in those buildings now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Breath Deep the Gathering Gloom" All you Pro Nukers-you should go live there if you think the stuff is harmless (even good for you) Ive heard-I bet then you would change your tune!This crap doesnt just dissipate into nothing..you burn it it goes back into the air,water,soil and back into the loop until it becomes the new normal background radiation levels that were just raised to accommodate the Industry and this accident ! Safe radiation level to low for the area-just raise the safe levels to the needed target and call it good!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One of these buildings is a hospital, apparently.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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@viking68

cesium is still only dangerous if ingested

You sound confident about this, and it sounds like you know a bit about this stuff (I'm assuming " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" doesn't apply in your case).

Could you therefore explain why gamma radiation from cesium is of no consequence?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

nigelboy: "If any of the posters predicted this and actually posted something to this before the fact, I would agree that person can claim lack of common sense to the Japanese government."

No kidding, eh? Imagine the company bothered to check after the area they took the rubble from was deemed unsafe! But did they? no. Why should they? It's easier and cheaper to cover up -- errr... not predict -- than it would be to take people's health into consideration. It's a shame you do not.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

On Sunday, an association of quarry agents in Fukushima Prefecture asked its members to check the radiation levels of their crushed stone and other building materials to ease public concerns over radioactive contamination, Fuji TV reported.

Yup, just about defines Japan -- close the gate after the horse has left the barn. Anyone who still believes Japan's reputation for meticulous planning and being prepared to handle any emergency is simply delusional. Like so much else there, that is simply myth based on expending hours and hours on meaningless rote/process, but having no fresh thinking.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Radioactive cesium decays by beta emission right. That can go through humans like were are not even there. It stop at aluminum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JeanVal---How do you know that there isn't anything contaminated on the inside of these buildings? I don't know how many little kids you've been around, but they lick everything. I find it ridiculous that the gravel companies are supposed to report any material, they've done such a bang up job in the past.

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Hate to break it to you, folks, but Viking68 is correct on this. Don't take my word, or any bloggers' word, but rather take the time to read some scientific reports. If INJESTED it is a concern, as in foods, but unless one spends A LOT of time licking the concrete there's effectively no risk. The workers mixing and pouring the concrete, however, may have inhaled particles.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

**Hindsight is and always will be 20/20.

If any of the posters predicted this and actually posted something to this before the fact, I would agree that person can claim lack of common sense to the Japanese government. For the rest..... Hindsight is always 20/20.** Plenty iof us on here have stated time and time again that everything from that area needs to be kept in that area. We've also stated time and time again that people in the area need to be moved so no, you're comments here are wrong. Many of us predicted this very thing happening. Not shocking to anyone here who knows anything about this government and not caring nor doing what is best for the public.

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Viking ignores the fact that people living i the area have to contend with internal and external radiation, and the younger the age, the more risk. This flippant "just alarmist" dismissal is something we saw a lot of in the beginning, but as the extent of the lies, negligence, obfuscation and criminality has become known, as we learn of falsification of data for other plants, as we see how Tepco and the nuclear industry have bribed their way into our lives, how they have lied about the cause being the Tsunami rather than the earthquake, as we read whistleblower accounts of shoddy construction, as we learn about the possible biological effects from Chernobyl (decrease in # of species, for example) and that simular studies are being conducted now, as we learn that Tepco has used yakuza to employ day laborers whose lives are viewed as worthless, as we learn that the food supply is not being monitored systematically, we can only conclude that the risk is unknown, but that the more types of exposure, the worse, and that it is cumulative in many cases.

Here is a song that will teach a lot about not only the nuclear industry but how our lives are sold to the highest bidder....

HUMAN ERROR by Frying Dutchman with English lyrics http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q5p283KZGa8

5 ( +7 / -2 )

More people will die from eating contaminated food from China, die in one day from car accidents, etc. than will be impacted by radiation.

More will die from smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol too. Does not mean we have to disregard all other environmental safety issues. It is reasonable that people in Japan are very concerned.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Could be some good deals coming up on the property market very soon.

You're right there! Already there are some steals up this way - wouldn't let any kids live in these ones however.

Basic logic and commonsense would have dictated that any materials, foods,machinery - anything - within that 20km limit and elsewhere in Fukushima should have been checked several times before any shipment. The mind boggles as to what else has been shipped from the region - this is just the tip of the iceberg.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Knock down all the buildings and arrest all of those involved.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hindsight is and always will be 20/20.

If any of the posters predicted this and actually posted something to this before the fact, I would agree that person can claim lack of common sense to the Japanese government. For the rest..... Hindsight is always 20/20.

-17 ( +0 / -17 )

Are we sure the stone is from the quarry and not sidelined waste?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The government is 100% at fault....

They should have banned all exports from the affected area immediately (as a precaution) after the Fukushima disaster.. I remember a beef ban weeks after the the disaster, and still to this day I cannot understand how only beef (cows) exports were banned...(Why not everything)?

Then again, I just need to look at the very old and incompetent men who lack any common sense or the ability to think and act swiftly who are supposed to run the country (at prefecture and national levels of government) sprinkle with some corrupt and selfish businesses, then suddenly everything makes sense.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Knowing how easily the Japanese get spooked and panic I have no doubt this will effect new housing sales across the country. Could be some good deals coming up on the property market very soon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you saw the concrete base of the apartment building that was shown over and over again on TV, you were seeing a poor job of pouring cement. It had air holes all through it, which means that it would be crumbling within several years or so. I sure wouldn't want that company(ies) building a place for me.

And if you or someone near you had a new house built since March 11, perhaps the cement and other materials should be tested for radiation.

And every day going to and from work, I see smoke bellowing from the tall chimneys in those incinerators that can be seen here and there in the Tokyo area. I always wonder what they are burning. And I always wonder if there's any radiation in that smoke.

Oh well, as I said before, I've received a lot of radiation via x-rays, and I guess a little more won't hurt ...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

smithinjapanJAN. 23, 2012 - 03:20PM JST

viking68: "Who is going to be eating crushed rocks? How is cement going to enter the food chain? Where is the reason for concern?"

I guess you missed the part about how radiation is being EMITTED at an alarming rate. It's not 'if', but 'why it was allowed

ALARMING Rate? It will continue to be emitted for a long time, but cesium is still only dangerous if ingested.

I understand the questions of why being the more important one.

My "why" concern is, what is slipping by the grocers. Food irradiated by cesium will dose you. There is a question of the dose that will hurt you, as in how many tons of contaminated food do you have to eat before it becomes a minute statistical blip.

Still, at the end of the day, only a handfull of people outside of the power plant will actually have radiation affect their lives, aside from alarmist fears.

More people will die from eating contaminated food from China, die in one day from car accidents, etc. than will be impacted by radiation.

It is just more alarmist news.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

The families should be given their money back and their costs to move to a new place should be covered by the company. The company should then be fined for doing such a despicable thing. The government should clearly make laws about distributing anything from the no-go zone and enforce penalties for those who don't abide.

However, we all know that in Japan, this won't happen. A bow, perhaps a few tears and all in forgotten and the problem ignored.

Those poor people who are victims once again.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's pretty easy. All the families in that building have to go sit outside. Let them shiver and complain in front of band of reporters. Go public public public. Put the children out there. It'll be less than a couple hours before a representative from that construction company shows up in a Mercedes van and relocates them to a warm deluxe apartment in the sky.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It was also sent to Tokyo......

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Anyway, the families in such buildings, after they are relocated yet again, can just sit outside and warm up with some Nihonmatsu redwood. Oh wait, the government allowed THAT radioactive garbage out as well!

This kind of thing is going to be a daily report, by the way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

viking68: "Who is going to be eating crushed rocks? How is cement going to enter the food chain? Where is the reason for concern?"

I guess you missed the part about how radiation is being EMITTED at an alarming rate. It's not 'if', but 'why it was allowed'.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Radioactive cesium is a danger to humans . . . if consumed.

At these levels, you would probably have to eat half the building to have any statistical bump in your radiation risks.

Who is going to be eating crushed rocks? How is cement going to enter the food chain? Where is the reason for concern?

No new information here, unless you need to feed your pet, paranoia.

If there were alpha particle emissions (from uranium, plutonium, etc), then I can understand the concern because you can get irradiated by standing near the source of alpha particle sources.

Looks like there may be some cheap and safe mansions for sale soon.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Smith I think the companies should at least pay a small token fine.

Judging the Japanese way of handing out justice, I think this may be the best option the families may hope for.

But in reality, criminal charges should be brought to the construction firm, the supplier, and the government agency responsible for checking the safety standards.

Oh well ... it's just another day for you and me in paradise

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Smith I think the companies should at least pay a small token fine.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

So, aside from a collective 'shouganai, ne', what are they going to do about it? My guess is they will say the families who were duped into buying condos in such building can leave 'voluntarily' and without any compensation, while the company that knowingly shipped the radioactive rubble will get off Scot free.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

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