Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tokyo soil so contaminated with radiation it would be considered nuclear waste in US

Radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster continues to show up at dangerously high levels in the city of Tokyo, which is located roughly 200 miles from the actual disaster site. According to an analysis of five random soil samples recently taken by nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, the soil around Tokyo is so contaminated with Fukushima radiation that it would be considered nuclear waste here in the U.S.

During a recent trip to Tokyo, Gundersen collected soil samples from a sidewalk, a children's playground, a rooftop, a patch of moss by the side of a road, and the lawn of a judicial building. After sending those samples in for testing, it was revealed that each one had high levels of radioactive cesium-134 (CS134) and cesium-137 (CS137), while three of the samples contained high levels of cobalt-60 (CO60). One of the samples also tested positive for uranium-235 (U235).

"[When I was in Tokyo, I took some samples [...] and sent them to the lab," said Gundersen in a recent video report. "And the lab determined that all of them would be qualified as radioactive waste here in the United States and would have to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of."

You can view the complete report here:

Despite the fact that radioactive plumes from Fukushima have largely drifted seaward based on wind patterns, a considerable amount of this radiation traveled southward towards Tokyo and elsewhere. The findings also confirm the reality that Fukushima radiation has likely had significant global spread as well, which confirms earlier reports of samples taken on the U.S. West Coast (

If Reactor 4 fuel explodes, the world is done for

According to Gundersen's estimate, the spent fuel rods in Fukushima's Reactor 4, which are currently in the process of cooling and have been for over a year, should be fine if nothing further occurs at the site. But during a recent interview, he explained how a seismic event or other unexpected disaster would likely crack the cooling pool and expose these fuel rods, which number in the thousands, to open air.

The significance of this is that the spent fuel rods in Reactor 4 are almost sure to explode as a result of this exposure, which would cause the largest and most significant release of radiation to date. If radiation levels are already dangerously high roughly 200 miles away in Japan's largest city, in other words, imagine what they will be in the event that Reactor 4 suffers further damage (

Gundersen, like most scientists and experts that are closely observing the situation, has called on the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Japanese government to work quickly to contain Reactor 4's fuel rods, and not wait until 2013 or 2014 to fully remove them as has been indicated. The Fukushima region is a highly seismic area, which means another serious seismic event will likely occur in the region before the fuel rods in Reactor 4 are fully contained.

Sources for this article include: