Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Japan's Latest Nuclear Crisis: Getting Rid of Radioactive Debris

Source: The Atlantic

The government insists that its radiation limits ensure that the program will pose no health risks to surrounding residents. Those limits, however, have been significantly relaxed since the disaster at Fukushima. Radioactivity is measured by becquerel per kilogram, or bq/kg. Previously, Japanese regulations required nuclear waste with 100 or more bq/kg of Cesium to be monitored and disposed of in specialized containers. But the new limit for debris in the "wide area incineration" program is 240 to 480 bq/kg. Because radioactive particles accumulate and concentrate in the ash of burned rubble, the material headed for local landfills could be significantly more radioactive. The new government limit for material headed for landfills is 8000 bq/kg, 80 times the pre-Fukushima limit.

Because garbage incinerators inevitably serve as collecting grounds for radiation spread across large areas, in some cases, the limit of 8000 bq/kg has been surpassed even in facilities processing local garbage in Tokyo, according to the Ministry of the Environment. Such stories have exacerbated fears that incinerating debris from areas even closer to Fukushima could produce potentially hazardous irradiated ash.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Atlantic