JAEA invited the media to watch their decontamination efforts at Okuma, 4km from Fukushima Daiichi. The crew pictured is “decontaminating” the roof of an office in Okuma using a power sprayer and a floor scrubber. The top of the building had a 16 mSv radiation level 1cm above the surface. After 10 minutes of power spraying and scrubbing they lowered the radiation level to 10 mSv. Longer scrubbing times didn’t radically improve the result, at 20 minutes they only reduced the level to 8.92 mSv.
At least for this test in Okuma they made the effort to gather the water runoff with the intent of trying to decontaminate the water. Most decontamination efforts just move the radioactive substances to another area or into the water system that feeds into rivers and eventually the sea.
EX-SKF mentions the strange attempt to decontaminate fruit trees in Fukushima. This involved power spraying the trees and sometimes putting a tarp down under the tree. Either way the runoff will go into the soil where the trees actually take up their water. A couple of readers mentioned how much damage this will do to the trees themselves. The power washing will damage fruit buds. The bark stripping and power washing that is being done as part of the decontamination makes trees susceptible to fungus. If they decide to go back later and remove the soil they now rinsed contamination into it could be the last blow to already stressed trees.
In some places citizens were enlisted to work for free attempting to decontaminate an area in Date City wearing mostly gardening attire. They were given a dust mask and a dosimeter yet did the work in normal clothing without any protective gear.
Experts have pointed out how all of these decontamination efforts may be a large waste of resources. Most decontamination efforts only result in a 10-20% reduction. The government’s reduction goals conveniently coincide with the half life reduction rate of cesium 134, leading many to believe the government knows this is all for show.
“I really doubt their seriousness (about decontamination),” said radiation expert Tomoya Yamauchi, a professor at the Graduate School of Maritime Sciences at Kobe University.
“A 10 percent reduction doesn’t really mean anything. I mean, 40 percent of the radiation would be reduced just by natural causes, so I think the government is almost saying it is just going to wait for the radioactive materials to decrease naturally,” said Shunichi Tanaka, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan.
At least the Forestry Service is doing research to see if forest decontamination will even work before investing considerable resources into the effort.
We mentioned in September of the total enormity of decontamination and if it did work there is still the hurdle of what to do with all the contaminated materials. But among all of this, don’t worry, for $13,000 you can have someone come power wash your house. Hopefully some of the researchers attempting new techniques beyond more power washing will hit on something new that works
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