Japan: radioactive Fukushima gravel used in construction materials

Japanese industry minister Yukio Edano on Jan. 20 promised the mayor of a city where gravel apparently contaminated in the Fukushima nuclear disaster was used for building material that he will instruct Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay compensation for related damage. Radioactive gravel is believed to be responsible for high radiation readings in a new apartment complex in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima prefecture. The contamination was first discovered when dosimeter readings of children in the city revealed that a high school student had been exposed to 1.62 millisieverts in a span of three months—well above the government’s annual 1 millisievert safety limit. Investigations traced the radiation back to the student’s three-story apartment building, where officials detected radioactive cesium inside the concrete. The gravel used in the cement came from a quarry in Namie, a town within the 12-mile evacuation zone instated in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant last March. Investigators found that some 5,200 metric tons of gravel from Namie was likely shipped to over 200 companies, making its way into apartment buildings, schools, bridges, and possibly temporary homes for Fukushima evacuees. A dozen families live in the tainted Nihonmatsu apartment complex, which was built six months ago. (Kyodo, Jan. 20; ABC News, Jan. 16; Mainichi Daily News Jan. 6)

See our last posts on Japan and the nuclear threat.

  1. Giving new meaning to the term “hot house”…
    File under “The more things stay the same, the more they stink.” The Free Press of Grand Junction, Colo., reported on Dec. 4, 2009 that local property values are still affected by a contamination scandal from more than 40 years ago, and recalled:

    Grand Junction once had the dubious distinction of being known as the “most radioactive town in America.” During the 1950s and 1960s, local contractors and homeowners would load trucks of the sandy-like tailings left over from the former Climax uranium mill site near the Colorado River and use it for back fill and for mixing cement. At the time it wasn’t widely known, locally anyway, that the waste product was highly radioactive.

    You know what? All you hubristic techno-geeks can take your “clean nuclear power” and shove it.

    No, really. We mean that.