Fukushima unrecognized threat of radioactive microparticles


Fukushima Microparticles, An Unrecognized Threat

In the years since the initial disaster there have been disparities between the official radiation exposure estimates and the subsequent health problems in Japan. In some cases the estimates were based on faulty or limited early data. Where a better understanding of the exposure levels is known there still remained an anomaly in some of the health problems vs. the exposure dose. Rapid onset cancers also caused concern. The missing piece of the puzzle may be insoluble microparticles from the damaged reactors.
What are microparticles ?
These microscopic bits of fuel and other materials from the reactor meltdowns have been found around Japan since soon after the disaster. Citizens with hand held radiation meters first discovered them as highly radioactive fine black sands on roadsides and gutters. These substances eventually caught the attention of researchers who determined they are tiny fused particles of vaporized reactor fuel, meltdown byproducts, structural components of the reactors and sometimes concrete from the reactor containments. The Fukushima microparticles are similar to “fuel fleas” or “hot particles“. Hot particles or fuel fleas have been found at operating nuclear reactors that had damaged fuel assemblies. These fused particles found around Japan are different in that they are a byproduct of the reactor meltdowns.
The small size of these microparticles, smaller than 114 μm makes them an inhalation risk. Other studies have also confirmed the size is small enough to inhale. These microparticles have been found near Fukushima Daiichi, in the evacuation zone, outside of the evacuation zone and as far away as Tokyo.
How microparticles were created at Fukushima Daiichi
The heat of the meltdown processes reached temperatures high enough to cause the nuclear fuel and other materials to break down into small particles. The uranium in the fuel further oxidized and then volatilized once temperatures reached 1900K. As these materials broke down into nanoparticle sized components of the fuel melt process, this set up the conditions for them to condense.  As these materials cooled the fused microparticles were created. Newer studies call these microparticles “CsMPs” (Cesium bearing micro particles).  A 2018 study of how these microparticles were created gives a plain language explanation of the process. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.est.7b06309
“From these data, part of the process that the FDNPP fuels experienced during the meltdown can be summarized as the follows: Cooling waters vaporized, and the steam reacted with Zr and Fe forming their oxides after the loss of power to the cooling system. UO2, which is the main composition of fuels, partially oxidized and volatilized at greater than ∼1900 K. (9,10) The fuel assemblies melted unevenly with relatively less irradiated fuels being heated to a higher temperature as compared with the high burnup fuels and volatilized as evidenced by the 235U/238U isotopic ratio.(9) The fuel assembly collapsed and moved to the bottom of RPV. The temperature increased locally to at least greater than 2400 K based on the liquidus temperature of U−Zr oxides. Locally formed oxides melted to a heterogeneous composition, including a small amount of Fe oxides,(27) which then became a source of Fe−U single crystals and U−Zr-oxide eutectic phases. Specifically, euhedral magnetite nanocrystals encapsulated euhedral uraninite nanocrystals, which would have crystallized slowly at this stage. Liquid U−Zr-oxide nanodroplets were rapidly cooled and solidified to a cubic structure. When the molten fuels hit the concrete pedestal of the PCV, SiO gas was generated at the interfaces between the melted core and concrete and instantly condensed to form CsMPs.(5) The U−Zr-oxide nanoparticles or the magnetite nanocrystals subsequently formed aggregates with CsMPs. Finally, the reactor debris fragments were released to the environment along with CsMPs.”
The microparticles may have left the reactors through multiple processes including containment leaks,  containment venting operations, hydrogen explosions and the later reduction and addition of water in an attempt to control the molten fuel.
New study looks at how to quantify these substances
A new study found a useful way to quantify how much of the contamination in an area is due to microparticles (hot particles). By using autoradiography they were able to confirm the number of microparticles in a sample. Soil samples near Fukushima Daiichi ranged from 48–318 microparticles per gram.  The microparticles had high concentrations of radioactive cesiums, in the range of ∼1011 Bq/g. The study stresses the health concern that these microparticles pose due to cellular damage from the highly concentrated radiation level. The authors also mention the risk re-suspension of microparticles in the air poses to the public.
Not just cesiums
A separate study found strontium-90 in the Fukushima microparticles at a ratio similar to what has been found in contaminated soil samples. This study included the amount of hot particles (aka: microparticles) found in soil samples taken in the fallout zone in Fukushima north-west of the plant. They ranged from 0-18 microparticles per square meter of soil. This information confirms that strontium-90 is part of some of these fused microparticles. https://academic.oup.com/jrr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jrr/rry063/5074550
An ongoing research project and paper by Marco Kaltofen documents these hot particles further. In the 2017 paper they found more than 300 such hot particles from Fukushima Daiichi in Japanese samples.  A hot particle was found in a vacuum cleaner bag from Nagoya, over 300 km from the disaster site. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969717317953?via%3Dihub
“300 individual radioactively-hot particles were identified in samples from Japan; composed of 1% or more of the elements cesium, americium, radium, polonium, thorium, tellurium, or strontium. Some particles reached specific activities in the MBq μg− 1 level and higher.”
The study found americium 241 in two house dust samples from Tokyo and in one from Sendai, 100 km north of the disaster site.  The sample set collected in 2016 showed a similar instance of highly radioactive hot particles compared to the 2011 samples. This appears to show that the threat from these reactor ejected hot particles has not gone away. A majority of the collected samples were from locations declared decontaminated by the national government.
The above graph is from the 2017 Kaltofen paper. These represent the highest readings for cesium found in their microparticle samples. The highest in the graph is Namie black sand. These black sand substances found around Fukushima prefecture and as far south as Tokyo were discovered to be largely made up of ejected reactor materials based on multiple studies.
The 2018 study we cited earlier in this report to explain the microparticle creation process also confirms some of these microparticles also contain radioactive isotopes of uranium. This further confirms the creation of some of these microparticles from the fuel itself. Uranium poses a particular concern due to the extremely long half lives involved.
How these act differently in the environment
In the case of the microparticles that contained Strontium 90, the isotope would normally move with water in the environment. Due to the insolubility of the microparticles, the strontium 90 stays in the top soils. Studies on microparticles predominantly carrying radioactive cesiums showed that the radioactive substances did not migrate through the environment as expected.
Microparticles were found in road gutters, sediment that collected in parking lots, below downspouts and similar places where sediments could concentrate. These initial discoveries hint at how the microparticles could migrate through the environment. The findings of the 2017 Kaltofen study indicate that microparticles can persist years later, even in places that were decontaminated. This may be due to the natural processes that have caused many areas to recontaminate after being cleaned up. There has been no effort to clean up forest areas in Japan. Doing so was found to be extremely difficult. The forest runoff may be one method of recontamination.
The risk to humans and animals
The subject of hot particles and the risk that they might pose to human or animal health has been controversial in recent years. Some studies found increased risks, others claimed a lesser risk from these substances. One study we reviewed may have discovered the nuances of when these substances are more damaging.
Most studies on hot particles aimed to determine if they were more damaging than that of a uniform radiation exposure to the same body part. A 1988 study by Hoffman et. al. found that hot particle damage varied by the radiation level of the particle, distance to nearby cells and the movement of the particle within the tissue. A high radiation particle might kill all the nearby cells but cause transformation in cells further away. Those dead cells near the hot particle would stimulate the transformed cells to reproduce faster to replace the dead cells. https://academic.oup.com/rpd/article-abstract/22/3/149/161256
A hot particle of moderate radiation would cause more transformations than cell death of nearby cells. High radiation hot particles that moved around in the organ, in this case the lung, would cause the most transformations. These acted like multiple moderate radiation hot particles transforming cells as they moved around. Those transformations are what can turn into cancers. This study’s findings appear to explain the results found in other studies where fewer cancers were found than they expected in certain groups.
A veteran who was exposed during US atomic testing had experience over 300 basal cell carcinomas. The study concluded that the skin cancers in atomic veterans could be induced by their radiation exposure. Continued exposure to ultraviolet radiation then promoted those cancers.
Other studies found damage in animal models. A study of hot particles on pig skin showed roughly half of the exposures caused small skin lesions. Two in the higher exposure group caused infections, one of these resulted in a systemic infection. https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/28/061/28061202.pdf
A mouse study where hot particles were implanted into the skin found increased cancers of the skin. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09553009314550501
Workers at Fukushima Daiichi in the group with some of the highest radiation exposures were discovered to have these insoluble microparticles lodged in their lungs. When the workers radiation levels didn’t decrease as expected, further tests were done. Scans found the bulk of the worker’s body contamination was in their lungs. The lung contamination persisted on subsequent scans. The looming concern is that these microparticles in the lungs can not be ejected by the body.
Risks have been known for decades 
The US NRC issued an information notice related to a series of hot particle exposures at nuclear plants where workers were exposed beyond legal limits. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/1987/in87039.html
Damaged fuel was the source in all cases. Even improperly laundered protective clothing was found to be a risk factor. Contaminated clothing from one facility could make it through the laundry process with a hot particle undetected on bulk scans of finished laundry. This would then result in an exposure to a different worker at a different plant who donned the contaminated gear. The hot particles when in contact with skin can give a high dose rate. Plants with even small fuel assembly leaks saw significant increases in worker exposure levels.
“In addition to any increased risk of cancer, large doses to the skin from hot particles also may produce observable effects such as reddening, hardening, peeling, or ulceration of the skin immediately around the particle. “
These problems are thought to only occur in high dose exposures from hot particles. One worker in the review had an estimated 512 rem radiation exposure from a hot particle.  Workers at US nuclear power plants are subjected to strict screening programs when they exit or return to work. This increases the chance of detecting and removing a hot particle before it can do more damage. This also lessens the potential for one to leave the plant site. The general public exposed to a nuclear plant disaster does not receive this level of scrutiny.
How this risk may have played out in Fukushima
Soon after the reactor explosions ripped through Fukushima Daiichi, people in the region began complaining of nosebleeds and flu like symptoms. These eventually began being reported as far south as Chiba and Tokyo.  https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/08/201181665921711896.html
The government responded that these complaints were “hysteria” or people trying to scare others. These problems were so widespread and coming from diverse people it had seemed to be a significant sign in the events that unfolded.
On March 21, 2011 there was rain in Tokyo that may have washed out contamination still being ejected at the plant. Events at Daiichi between March 17-21 caused increased radiation releases.
In 2013 there was an unusual uptick in complaints about severe nosebleeds. This happened at the time typhoon Man-yi made landfall in Tokyo. The bulk of the people who responded to a survey by a foreign policy expert working in the office of a member of Japan’s Diet were from the Kanto region (Tokyo) where the typhoon made landfall.
Children in the Fukushima region that were found to have thyroid problems also complained of frequent nosebleeds and skin rashes.  People have described unusual ongoing health problems such as this woman in Minami Soma near Fukushima Daiichi who had odd rashes, a rapid loss of teeth etc.  Cattle housed 14 km from the disaster site have shown with white spots all over their hides, something previously seen after US nuclear tests. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/evaggelos-vallianatos/the-nuclear-meltdown-at-f_b_4209766.html
The USS Reagan was offshore of Fukushima Daiichi March 11 to 14th. Plume maps for iodine 131 (a gaseous release from the meltdowns) blew in the wind north and at times east out to sea during those dates. These same winds could have carried microparticles out to sea. A number of sailors on the Reagan and those working with the rescue helicopters have fallen ill. Eight have died since the disaster. This newer account of the events on the Reagan raise even more concerns about what happened to those trying to save people after the tsunami.
Namie Mayor, Tamotsu Baba resigned his office in June 2018 after a year of off and on hospitalization. He had been undergoing treatment for gastric cancer. He died a few weeks after resigning. His cancer may have predated the disaster, but in the last year his health drastically declined. Namie is in the area of some of the highest fallout from the disaster.
Fukushima plant manager Masao Yoshida died of esophageal cancer in 2013. TEPCO insisted his cancer was not related to the disaster due to the rapid onset. This is a common claim around cancers that could be tied to Fukushima, yet the number of cancers soon after the disaster has been hard to ignore.
As we neared completion of this report the labor ministry announced that the lung cancer death of a Fukushima Daiichi worker was tied to his work during the disaster. The worker was at the plant during the early months of the disaster and worked there until 2015. TEPCO didn’t give specifics of his work role, only mentioning he took radiation levels. TEPCO mentioned that the worker wore a “full face mask respirator” during his work. All of the workers at Daiichi wore the same after ordered to do so after meltdowns were underway. The worker was not among the highest exposure bracket so he may not have been receiving detailed health monitoring. Radiation exposure monitoring during the early months of the disaster was inconsistent and sometimes missed exposures. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180905/p2a/00m/0na/004000c
What microparticles change about the disaster
Highly radioactive microparticles were released to the environment during the meltdowns, explosions and subsequent processes in units 1-3 at Fukushima Daiichi.
Microparticles have been found near the disaster site, in the evacuation zone, far outside of the evacuation zone and south into the Tokyo region. These substances persist in the environment and have been found in areas previously decontaminated.
These microparticles significantly change the exposure estimates for the general public. Individual exposures can not be accurately estimated by the use of generic environmental radiation levels as this does not account for the individual’s exposure to microparticles.
Microparticle exposure has multiple variables that create a unique level of risk to the exposed human or animal. They can in the right circumstances cause significant damage to nearby tissues, persist in the body, cause damage, initiate or promote a cancer.
Microparticle exposures may be the missing puzzle piece that explains a number of odd problems tied to the Fukushima disaster. Health problems that showed up soon after the disaster. Exposed populations with aggressive or sudden cancers and other serious health problems that can be created or exacerbated by radiation exposure.
Microparticles continue to pose a public health risk in some parts of Japan that experienced fallout and increased radiation levels due to the disaster.

Returnee Fukushima farmers offer taste of rice cultivation in hopes of revitalization

Sustaining the hope of recovery despite the radioactive contamination risk
10 june 2018 namie.jpg
University students covered in mud plant rice saplings in a drained paddy in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 19, 2018.
June 10, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — University students and others from around Japan are coming to the farming villages of Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders from the 2011 nuclear disaster have been lifted, experiencing rice planting and interacting with local residents who are facing a difficult recovery and population decline.
Organized by local municipal governments and residents, the visits by people from outside the region affected by the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster are providing inspiration to farmers, who have seen less than 20 percent of the pre-disaster farmland planted, and few inheritors to carry on the region’s farming industry.
The laughter echoed over the idle farmland of the Sakata district in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, as university students and other participants planted rice by hand in a drained paddy on May 19.
“Everyone looks like they’re having fun,” said Namie resident and farmer Kiyoto Matsumoto, 79, with a smile. “Watching them is pretty enjoyable.”
Students started coming to Namie to experience rice planting two years ago. The idea of the event was to have them learn about the current conditions in areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, and to link the awareness with the revitalization of the region. On that day, roughly 60 students worked up a sweat in the mud of the rice paddies. The students can also take part in the harvest of the crops and sell the rice at a local festival held in the town in November.
“I really got a feel for how hard farmers work, and I also learned about the lack of successors to take over the farms and other issues,” said an 18-year-old first-timer, a student at Waseda University in Tokyo. Matsumoto hopes that “the young people (who participate) will be able to feel something through experiencing agricultural work.”
In areas where the 2011 evacuation order has been lifted, rice production has once again become possible. The Fukushima Prefectural Government has been testing all rice produced within the prefecture, and there have been no cases where the rice exceeded the standard limit of the radioactive material cesium from 2015-2017. Still, even after the evacuation order was lifted, residents have not been returning to their pre-disaster homes, and with the added influence of an aging population and a lack of successors, there are few farmers who have taken up rice cultivation again. Of the farmland across the five villages and towns of Tomioka, Namie, Iitate, Katsurao and Naraha, the Odaka Ward of the city of Minamisoma and the Yamakiya district of the town of Kawamata, for which evacuation orders were lifted between 2015 and 2017, only between less than 1 percent to 14 percent of the pre-disaster farmland was in use this spring.
In the village of Iitate, 73-year-old farmer Masao Aita also held a rice-planting event on May 19 for adults and students alike that attracted 32 participants. Aita and his wife just returned to the village the month before. The couple had given up on cultivating rice out of concern that they would not be able to sell what they had produced, and planned to plant the fields with tulips and other flowers. However, they were approached by a volunteer group. The group recommended the rice cultivation event.
Aita plans to send the harvested rice to each of the participants and have them give it a taste. “If people from the outside come visit the village, then it is bound to spark something eventually,” he said.
(Japanese original by Shuji Ozaki, Fukushima Bureau)

Fukushima-Daiichi radioactive particle release was significant says new research

24 May 2018
Fukushima-Daiichi radioactive particle release was significant says new research
Scientists say there was a significant release of radioactive particles during the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident.
The researchers identified the contamination using a new method and say if the particles are inhaled they could pose long-term health risks to humans.
The new method allows scientists to quickly count the number of caesium-rich micro-particles in Fukushima soils and quantify the amount of radioactivity associated with these particles.
The research, which was carried out by scientists from Kyushu University, Japan, and The University of Manchester, UK, was published in Environmental Science and Technology.
In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, it was thought that only volatile, gaseous radionuclides, such as caesium and iodine, were released from the damaged reactors. However, in recent years it has become apparent that small radioactive particles, termed caesium-rich micro-particles, were also released. Scientists have shown that these particles are mainly made of glass, and that they contain significant amounts of radioactive caesium, as well as smaller amounts of other radioisotopes, such as uranium and technetium.
The abundance of these micro-particles in Japanese soils and sediments, and their environmental impact is poorly understood. But the particles are very small and do not dissolve easily, meaning they could pose long-term health risks to humans if inhaled.
Therefore, scientists need to understand how many of the micro-particles are present in Fukushima soils and how much of the soil radioactivity can be attributed to the particles. Until recently, these measurements have proven challenging.
The new method makes use of a technique that is readily available in most Radiochemistry Laboratories called Autoradiography. In the method, an imaging plate is placed over contaminated soil samples covered with a plastic wrap, and the radioactive decay from the soil is recorded as an image on the plate. The image from plate is then read onto a computer.
“We now need to push forward and better understand if caesium micro-particles are abundant throughout not only the exclusion zone, but also elsewhere in the Fukushima prefecture; then we can start to gauge their impact”. 
Dr Gareth Law
The scientists say radioactive decay from the caesium-rich micro particles can be differentiated from other forms of caesium contamination in the soil.
The scientists tested the new method on rice paddy soil samples retrieved from different locations within the Fukushima prefecture. The samples were taken close to (4 km) and far away (40 km) from the damaged nuclear reactors. The new method found caesium-rich micro-particles in all of the samples and showed that the amount of caesium associated with the micro-particles in the soil was much larger than expected.
Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University, Japan, and the lead author of the study says “when we first started to find caesium-rich micro-particles in Fukushima soil samples, we thought they would turn out to be relatively rare. Now, using this method, we find there are lots of caesium-rich microparticles in exclusion zone soils and also in the soils collected from outside of the exclusion zone”.
Dr Gareth Law, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester and an author on the paper, adds: “Our research indicates that significant amounts of caesium were released from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in particle form.
“This particle form of caesium behaves differently to the other, more soluble forms of caesium in the environment. We now need to push forward and better understand if caesium micro-particles are abundant throughout not only the exclusion zone, but also elsewhere in the Fukushima prefecture; then we can start to gauge their impact”.
The new method can be easily used by other research teams investigating the environmental impact of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Dr Utsunomiya adds: “we hope that our method will allow scientists to quickly measure the abundance of caesium-rich micro-particles at other locations and estimate the amount of caesium radioactivity associated with the particles. This information can then inform cost effective, safe management and clean-up of soils contaminated by the nuclear accident”.
The paper, ‘Novel Method of Quantifying Radioactive Cesium-Rich Microparticles (CsMPs) in the Environment from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’ has been published in the journal of Environmental Science – DOI:10.1021/acs.est.7b06693
Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons – examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

Total Denial of the Existing Fukushima Radioactive Contamination for Reconstruction’s Sake

 Fukushima tops national sake competition for record-setting sixth year
Officials and brewers from Fukushima Prefecture, including Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori (second from right), hold bottles of sake during a photo session Thursday at the prefectural government building in Fukushima City. Fukushima sake brands won the largest number of prizes at the Annual Japan Sake Awards
FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Prefecture is home to the largest number of award-winning sake brands for the sixth year in a row, marking a record in an annual competition, the National Research Institute of Brewing said Thursday.
Nineteen brands from the prefecture won the Gold Prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards, matching Hyogo Prefecture for the year’s top spot. Judges, including technical officers from the National Tax Agency and master brewers, chose 232 brands as Gold Prize winners out of 850 brands submitted from across the country.
“We achieved the sixth straight year of victory despite a severe situation due to rumors (about radiation contamination),” Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told a ceremony held in the prefectural government’s head office in the city of Fukushima, referring to the fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“I hope to promote the excellent sake produced in Fukushima both in and outside Japan,” he added.
Among Fukushima breweries, Kokken Brewery Co.’s Kokken won the top prize for the 11th year in a row. Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative’s Okunomatsu and Nagurayama Sake Brewery Co.’s Nagurayama won for the 10th year.
Aspiring brewer taps Fukushima town’s hops in bid to boost sagging farming industry
Hop Japan Inc. President Makoto Honma (right) gives advice to a hop producer on how to plant a seedling in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture.
“I can’t wait to drink delicious beer made from homegrown hops,” Makoto Honma, the president of Hop Japan Inc., told farmers with a smile in April when he visited them in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture.
While his company was originally intended to focus on the production and sale of homegrown hops, Honma is now planning to build a craft beer brewery in the city amid the recent surge in popularity of locally produced beer and unique brewing methods.
Currently, most domestic hops are grown based on contracts with major breweries, but the production outlook is dim due to a dwindling number of farmers in Japan and falling consumption of big brand beers.
The 52-year-old also believes the realization of his dream would help solve problems related to the abandonment of local farms and revitalize rural tourism.
His brewery dream originates from his experience in the United States a decade ago.
While working as a spokesman for Tohoku Electric Power Co. in 2008, the Yamagata Prefecture native decided to take a two-year leave to study English in Seattle. During his stay, Honma developed a fascination with local craft beer and the brewery business.
In 2014, one of his friends asked him to help in negotiations with producers of Tohoku-grown hops, further piquing his interest in the industry.
Honma said the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis, had a major impact on his life.
“I want to make hop production sustainable in Tohoku. I would do whatever I can do as we can only live once,” he said, recalling his new outlook on life.
Honma decided to quit his job and launched Hop Japan in Sendai in 2015.
He later learned that Fukushima Bank offers financial aid for startups, leading him to move his company to the city of Fukushima in order to receive the funding.
Honma was later tapped by the Reconstruction Agency to grow hops in Tamura, where farmers sought alternative crops because of the falling production of tobacco leaves.
Tamura officials later asked him to build a brewery in addition to farming hops.
Prompted by the local passion, Honma decided to follow through with the plan, and is set to move to the city by the end of the year, taking further steps toward fulfilling his dream. “By promoting the brewery business, I’d like to realize a society where economic activities from producing and processing to selling, work together in unison,” he said.
This section features topics and issues from Fukushima covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in the prefecture. The original article was published on May 1.

Fukushima Disaster Released Uranium, Unexpected Particles

gate of difficult to return zone march 11 2014.pngThe gate of “Difficult-to-return zone” in Fukushima on March 11, 2014

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was believed to have only resulted in the release of gases. But seven years after one of history’s few radioactive disasters, scientists have found that uranium and other solid microparticles were also released into the surrounding parts of Japan.

The particles are a fraction of the width of a human hair – which means they could be inhaled, according to the study in the journal Environmental Science Technology.

Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone,” said Gareth Law, one of the authors, of the University of Manchester.

The debris, which included uranium, caesium and technetium, was discovered in the nuclear exclusion zone, several kilometers from the epicenter of the disaster at the Fukushima plant.

Two locations were paddy oils, and an abandoned aquaculture center.

Uranium itself has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

The previously acknowledged radioactive materials were cesium and iodine, both taking the form of volatile gases. Other gases were released, as well.

But the new information about particles potentially means a longer, bigger cleanup, according to the latest study, led by Satoshi Utsunomiya of Kyushu University.

Having better knowledge of the released microparticles is also vitally important as it provides much needed data on the status of the melted nuclear fuels in the damaged reactors,” said Utsunomiya. “This will provide extremely useful information for (The Tokyo Electric Power Company’s) decommissioning strategy.”

The March 2011 Fukushima disaster was triggered by a massive 9.0-scale earthquake, then a 15-foot tsunami. The Daiichi plant lost power, which prevented normal cooling operations – and caused the meltdown of all three cores at the plant within a few days. The removal of the melted fuel – which could take decades – is not going to begin until 2022.

Eighteen thousand people were killed throughout the whole incident, and 100,000 were displaced. The disaster has widely been considered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

Initial reports indicated that much of the contamination was contained in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster. But coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the meltdown, a report indicated that 10,000 additional cancer cases would be expected in the region of Japan that is most affected. Also in 2015, an American scientist contended that the Fukushima site was uncontrolled, and was leaking radioactive cesium and strontium in the Pacific Ocean. Last year, in advance of the sixth anniversary, the utilities charged with the cleanup announced that decommission of some of the fuel at one of the three damaged reactors had to be delayed, due to increased radiation.


Radiation levels in Fukushima zones higher in 2017 than 2016, and still above government target despite cleanup: Greenpeace Japan

Look how the Japanese media are routinely censoring the news about the Fukushima situation.
In the first article  about the Greenpeace recent report, a short article published in Australia, are clearly stated:
1. Fukushima still has radiation 100 times higher than normal.
2. Greenpeace warned all areas surveyed, including those where people have been allowed to return, had levels of radiation similar to an active nuclear facility “requiring strict controls”, despite the fact that residents had lifted restrictions on access after years of decontamination efforts.
3. “This is public land. Citizens, including children and pregnant women returning to their contaminated homes, are at risk of receiving radiation doses equivalent to one chest X-ray every week.
4. This is unacceptable and a clear violation of their human rights,” Jan Vande Putte with Greenpeace Belgium, and leader of the survey, said.
In the second article about the Greenpeace recent report, a longer article published by the Japan Times in Japan, all those clearly stated 4 points have now disappeared, vanished, having been censored and left out, or spinned down, reduced, minimized such as:
1. “radiation 100 times higher than normal” becomes ” radiation levels higher than the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, ranging from 0.2 to 0.8 microsieverts per hour” , meaning 4 times higher than the Japanese government-set target.
This is a typical example that shows you how the Japanese media, unfree from the Japanese government heavy censorship, have been for the past 7 years lying, hiding the true facts of the ongoing yet unsettled nuclear disaster in Fukushima, to the majority of the Japanese population.
A member of Greenpeace checks radiation levels in the village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture last October. | GREENPEACE / VIA KYODO
March 1, 2018
Fukushima radiation still high: Greenpeace
A new report by Greenpeace says Fukushima, the sight of 2011’s nuclear accident after an earthquake, still has radiation 100 times higher than normal.
Greenpeace says towns in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, close to the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, are exposed to excessive levels of radiation.
In a report published on Thursday, Greenpeace warned all areas surveyed, including those where people have been allowed to return, had levels of radiation similar to an active nuclear facility “requiring strict controls”, despite the fact that residents had lifted restrictions on access after years of decontamination efforts.
“This is public land. Citizens, including children and pregnant women returning to their contaminated homes, are at risk of receiving radiation doses equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is unacceptable and a clear violation of their human rights,” Jan Vande Putte with Greenpeace Belgium, and leader of the survey, said.
Japanese authorities have said these areas are progressively returning to normality after the massive 9.1-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami which struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
The survey said that in the towns of Namie and Iitate, located between 10 and 40 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi plant and where evacuation orders were partially lifted in March 2017, radiation levels continue to be “up to 100 times higher than the international limit for public exposure”.
Greenpeace also noted the “ineffectiveness of decontamination work” in these areas, saying there remained a “significant risk to health and safety for any returning evacuee”, adding that Tokyo’s policy of “effectively forcing people to return by ending housing and other financial support is not working”.
The Japanese government had said radiation levels in the reopened zones posed no risk to human health, noting that its data was corroborated by the country’s medical experts and organisations such as the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.
Considered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the accident at Fukushima displaced tens of thousands of people, caused serious damage to the local economy.
Radiation levels in Fukushima zones higher in 2017 than 2016, and still above government target despite cleanup: Greenpeace Japan
Following the 2011 nuclear crisis, radiation levels at houses and areas nearby in a Fukushima village remain around three times higher than the government target despite cleanup work having been performed, an environmental group has said.
In some areas of the village of Iitate and the town of Namie, levels of radioactivity detected at some points among tens of thousands checked in surveys last September and October were higher than they had been the previous year, Greenpeace Japan said in a report released Thursday.
Most of the six houses surveyed in Iitate, located around 40 kilometers northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 complex, logged radiation levels higher than the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, ranging from 0.2 to 0.8 microsieverts per hour.
Some areas in the village had seen radiation levels rise from 2016, Greenpeace said. “There is a possibility (the environment) was contaminated again as radioactive materials that had accumulated in nearby forests may have moved around,” it said.
One house, located near a municipal office with slightly wooded areas nearby, marked lower radiation levels compared with the previous 2016 survey but levels at another five houses — which are near forests that have yet to be cleaned up — have remained almost the same.
The points surveyed covered areas in Iitate and Namie where evacuation orders have been lifted as well as some parts of Namie that remain designated as “difficult to return” zones following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by the massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The survey also showed that the effects of cleanup work conducted in 2011 and 2012 in the Tsushima district of Namie, located 40 km northwest of the Fukushima plant, had been limited, with one house there logging radiation levels of 5.8 microsieverts per hour at the highest readings and 1.3 microsieverts per hour on average.
The district is among areas designated as special reconstruction zones by the government. The state plans to carry out cleanup work and promote infrastructure development intensively at its expense to make such areas livable again.

New evidence of nuclear fuel releases found at Fukushima

February 28, 2018
Uranium and other radioactive materials, such as caesium and technetium, have been found in tiny particles released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.
“Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone,” said Dr Gareth Law.
Uranium and other radioactive materials, such as caesium and technetium, have been found in tiny particles released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.
This could mean the environmental impact from the fallout may last much longer than previously expected according to a new study by a team of international researchers, including scientists from The University of Manchester.
The team says that, for the first time, the fallout of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor fuel debris into the surrounding environment has been “explicitly revealed” by the study.
The scientists have been looking at extremely small pieces of debris, known as micro-particles, which were released into the environment during the initial disaster in 2011. The researchers discovered uranium from nuclear fuel embedded in or associated with caesium-rich micro particles that were emitted from the plant’s reactors during the meltdowns. The particles found measure just five micrometres or less; approximately 20 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The size of the particles means humans could inhale them.
The reactor debris fragments were found inside the nuclear exclusion zone, in paddy soils and at an abandoned aquaculture centre, located several kilometres from the nuclear plant.
It was previously thought that only volatile, gaseous radionuclides such as caesium and iodine were released from the damaged reactors. Now it is becoming clear that small, solid particles were also emitted, and that some of these particles contain very long-lived radionuclides; for example, uranium has a half-life of billions of years.
Dr Gareth Law, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester and an author on the paper, says: “Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone. Whilst it is extremely difficult to get samples from such an inhospitable environment, further work will enhance our understanding of the long-term behaviour of the fuel debris nano-particles and their impact.”
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is currently responsible for the clean-up and decommissioning process at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in the surrounding exclusion zone. Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University (Japan) led the study.
He added: “Having better knowledge of the released microparticles is also vitally important as it provides much needed data on the status of the melted nuclear fuels in the damaged reactors. This will provide extremely useful information for TEPCO’s decommissioning strategy.”
At present, chemical data on the fuel debris located within the damaged nuclear reactors is impossible to get due to the high levels of radiation. The microparticles found by the international team of researchers will provide vital clues on the decommissioning challenges that lie ahead.
Story Source:
Materials provided by Manchester University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Journal Reference:
1. Asumi Ochiai, Junpei Imoto, Mizuki Suetake, Tatsuki Komiya, Genki Furuki, Ryohei Ikehara, Shinya Yamasaki, Gareth T. W. Law, Toshihiko Ohnuki, Bernd Grambow, Rodney C. Ewing, Satoshi Utsunomiya. Uranium Dioxides and Debris Fragments Released to the Environment with Cesium-Rich Microparticles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Environmental Science & Technology, 2018; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06309