Slaughter in Minamisoma

On location report from Minami Soma – Strontium continues to be detected – “Too early for evacuees to be returning home.”

Nationally declared “emergency evacuation preparedness zones” have been simultaneously lifted, however excessive risks may remain. Lab results from a radioactive contamination survey commissioned by Minami Soma City Council yield shocking results.

– Desipite the lifting of the “emergency evacuation preparedness zone” designation, the perception is that contamination questions linger.

– 59,000 people lived within the 20-30km “emergency evacuation preparedness zone”, 28,000 have relocated. Citizens view the lifting of the designation as good news, but unease persists.

– From a local council perspective, the sooner evacuees return to start rebuilding the better.

– Citizens infuriated with fuzzy official statements regarding severity of contamination, particularly when they have to consider the safety of their own kids.

– Local government testing reveals strontium contamination, further complicating the situation. 17 spots around Minami Soma were tested, and four locations showed 33 – 1,113 Bq/kg of strontium contamination, including 100 Bq/kg from an area previously covered by the recently lifted evacuation advisory zone.

– Regarding the possibility of internal exposure, Strontium is much more serious than cesium. As explained by a researcher from the Japanese Atomic Energy Institute, biological half life of cesium is 100 days vs 50 years for Strontium, which mimics calcium in the body.

-It’s reasonable to expect that where there is cesium, there is also strontium, however it takes much longer to run tests for strontium and there are very few labs equipped to run the tests.

– On the same day that the evacuation advisory zone was lifted, MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) finally released results of strontium testing carried out around the plant.

– Of the samples, collected since June, Futuba (inside the 20km zone) was the highest, at 5,700 Bq/m2 (note the change in unit from kg to square meters). Of particular concern were results from within the lifted evacuation advisory zone: Minami Soma (three locations: 600, 260, 160 bq/m2), Tamura (610 Bq/m2), Kawauchi (380、130、39 Bq/m2) and Hirono (220、150、120、76、61 Bq/m2).

– Plutonium also detected for the first time outside the plant, however official attitude is to ignore the results, as ‘compared to cesium the quantities are minuscule, therefore the focus will remain on cesium’.

– Government decontamination efforts questioned by a local fish dealer, who points out that the road outside his shop, used by school students, was washed down with a high pressure hose. He says all the sand and dirt simply shifted and accumulated in the gutter, raising the radiation level there. Radioactive dirt then blows back onto the road from neighboring fields.

– Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries finally decided in October to survey contamination in the hills and forested areas – every time the wind blows it brings more contamination down from the heavily contaminated hills.

– In summary, ignoring isotopes other than cesium is not acceptable, after Chernobyl the Ukrainian govt. produced accurate contamination maps for each separate nucleotide, and Japan should do so urgently. Residents lack of faith in the government’s lifting of the zone is entirely understandable.


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