Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tales from Japan: Radioactive Waste from Fukushima

Fukushima workers try to clear rubble near the coastline around the Fukushima plant

As relative control of the Fukushima crisis has been maintained by the Japanese authorities, the big question of what to do with the millions of tons of highly radioactive waste materials and water has become a major focal point.  Recently there has been a number of days when recorded radiation levels have suddenly doubled.  This is certainly cause for alarm, especially since the public has already been exposed over a long period of time to relatively high radiation in Japanese terms.  Data on levels before the accident on March 11, 2011 showed radiation levels 10 times or less what they are at present in many areas throughout eastern Japan.

Radiation level measured in Tsukuba Ibaraki Prefecture directly south of Fukushima on Jan 23 showed a sudden spike in radiation levels.

It is quite likely that these increases could coincide with the incineration of radioactive waste from heavily affected areas.  This has been proposed by Prof. Takeda Kunihiko from Chubu University.  This re-release of radiation continues to put the public at risk concentrating levels of radioactive particles in people's bodies. Internal exposure to radiation is perhaps one of the greatest health risks involved for the millions of people in the highly populated areas.  Over time the radioactive particles store up in parts of the body; for example Strontium 90 has been shown to cause acute cases of leukemia and cesium 137 has been linked to heart problems, also iodine 131 has been shown to cause thyroid cancer.

The problem that these and many other fallout radiation particles cause is that they undoubtedly burden the body and immune system of the individual causing them to succumb to a number of diseases and if a threshold is reached, then in many cases, they cause cancers; not to mention genetic mutations and deformities in offspring which is a result that won't be fully seen for decades.

So observe the map which tells the sad story that Japan is sharing this waste amongst its many prefectures.  Fallout from Fukushima is being spread all throughout the country in the form of waste and wreckage from the March disaster.  And this will ultimately taint land, food, homes, and the entire nation and its people, if it is not contained.