Tokyo will receive 500,000,000 kg trainloads of nuclear waste with residual radioactivity of 133 Becquerels/kg after incineration (cesium only, other radionucleides unknown) from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, spread on 2.5 years starting from October 2011. Waste will be incinerated or buried in reprocessing centers in Tokyo port area. In other words, Tokyo global dose will increase by 2.2 billions Becquerels each month for 2.5 years by this policy alone (Cf. Japanese article below and Google translation).

Nuclear Spread Official Kick-Off in SurvivalJapan already reported that nuclear waste incineration had already informally started and led to radioactive sewage sludge accumulation at facilities in Tokyo, but also in Kanagawa, Saitama and other prefectures. We know that radioactive ash also turns up legally in cement and will go on in a country where the construction sector is historically controlled by the Japanese mafia, which is itself closely associated with politicians who grant public work projects in exchange for votes.

SurvivalJapan positively declared Greater Tokyo as part of the no man’s land last week (Cf. Japan Livability Map September 2011) after monitoring the build-up of radiation and the progress of the Japanese government policies. Since the purpose of this blog is to find ways to survive in Japan, I had stated that SurvivalJapan would focus solely on areas out of the no man’s land. I am making a slight internal policy breach here due to the seriousness of the matter, the number of expats still in Tokyo area and the fact that Tokyo is only a beginning: all prefectures will receive their share.

The Mainichi Shimbun article is reproduced hereafter :

Rubble from quake- and tsunami-hit areas to be disposed in Tokyo

Rubble piles up at a temporary disposal site in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. (Mainichi)

Rubble piles up at a temporary disposal site in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. (Mainichi)

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is set to dispose in the capital rubble from earthquake- and tsunami-hit areas in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, officials said.

There is far more rubble in areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant than local bodies can dispose of. Moreover, due to radiation fears, little progress has been made in efforts to dispose of such waste.

Tokyo decided to process rubble from disaster-hit areas after detecting only 133 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of ash generated after rubble was incinerated, far below the upper limit of 8,000 becquerels set by the national government. The central government will foot the expenses of disposing of disaster-generated rubble.

Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso, who will sign an agreement with Tokyo on rubble disposal on Sept. 30, hailed the move.

“It’ll be a major step toward the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas,” he said. “I hope Tokyo’s efforts will encourage other local bodies to accept waste from disaster areas.”

The metropolitan government intends to transport approximately 500,000 metric tons of rubble to facilities in the capital and dispose of them over a 2 1/2-year period from this coming October to March 2014.

To start with, it will accept about 1,000 tons of rubble stored at a temporary storage site in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. The waste will be transported by freight train to Tokyo from October.

Cars destroyed by the March 11 tsunami are stacked near a pile of debris in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Cars destroyed by the March 11 tsunami are stacked near a pile of debris in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

The waste will be separate into burnable and unburnable items. Burnable waste will be incinerated while unburnable waste will be buried in a garbage landfill area in the Tokyo Bay area.

To ensure safety, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will regularly measure the amount of radiation in the incinerated ash and atmosphere around the disposable facilities where the rubble is processed.

In line with national government guidelines that call for the disposal of rubble from disaster-hit areas by the end of March 2014, the Iwate Prefectural Government had worked out a detailed plan to dispose of waste generated as a result of the disaster.

Such waste generated in coastal areas alone amounts to some 4.35 million metric tons. But the capacity at disposal facilities in the prefecture is about 800 tons short per day to meet the central government’s deadline. To make up for the shortage, the prefectural government asked local governments outside Iwate via the Environment Ministry to accept rubble generated by the quake and tsunami.

The ministry responded to Iwate Prefecture that non-industrial waste disposal facilities in 41 prefectures can handle such waste.

The prefectural government began in late June to measure the levels of radioactive substances in such waste at coastal areas. Tokyo also dispatched officials to Iwate Prefecture to hold talks on the disposal of the rubble.

Tokyo will also similarly dispose of rubble from Miyagi Prefecture. However, an official with the Miyagi Prefectural Government said on Sept. 28 that it is still holding talks with a number of local governments over the disposal of disaster-generated waste.

The prefectural government is set to begin sample surveys on rubble for radiation as early as next month.

Click here for the original Japanese story

(Mainichi Japan) September 29, 2011

    • Mark Foreman says:

      If the waste has only 133 Bq per kilo then it is below the UK lower limit for low level radioactive waste, if my memory serves me correctly waste in the UK with less than 400 Bq per kilo is not regarded as radioactive waste in the UK

      • Dr. Foreman, unfortunately I don’t have the time to check this as a fact and since you are a chemistry specialist of serious nuclear accidents at the famous Chalmers University, I would be inclined to trust your memory. However, even if this was the case, it doesn’t mean that UK regulations are safe. Every country with an economic interest in nuclear industry should be doubted on their standards after Fukushima – and UK is of course a major player. In fact, many nuclear incidents that did not catch my attention in the past outside of Japan are now in my radar and I have reached the conclusion that many European countries may not be safer than say, Kyushu island in Japan. I am not talking about potential threats but about actual nuclear waste, spills, incidents, etc. I know from direct professional experience that the risk of exposure to low level radiation sources is commonly downplayed by professionals, as the long term effects are not well established and it is difficult to make a distinction between a nuclear plant-induced cancer and other factors (such as irradiation from a poorly calibered medical instrument or other causes including natural radiation). As a conclusion, UK, US, France, etc. may have a serious issue with these regulations.

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  2. Mark Foreman says:

    I have double checked and 0.4 Bq of man made activity per gram (400 Bq per kilo) is the level at which the UK state that waste starts to be regulated with regard to the radioactivity which it contains.

    Before anyone gets nervous or upset about this 400 Bq per kilo limit I think we should consider the fact that normal soil contains natural radioactivity such as uranium and potassium-40.

    For the UK rules an overview can be seen at

    • Thank you for taking the time to double check. Low level widespread natural radioactivity is a fact. So is the high tolerance standards in laws of countries with nuclear industry.

      The import of nuclear waste into Tokyo is officially suspended due to numerous claims. It will probably resume either officially or under the cover. One of the person who called to protest against the arrival of nuclear waste in Tokyo was met with a surprised representative who answered that they did not see where the problem was, since radioactivity in Tokyo was higher than 133 Bq / kg.

      • Mark Foreman says:

        You should pay attention to the fact that if the waste is combustable, then the ash is likely to have a lot more than 133 Bq per kilo. The increase in the activity of the ash compared with the fuel will depend on a lot of things but it is well worth thinking about.

      • Mainichi Shimbun finally released the article in English so I updated the post (much better than Google translation).

        “Tokyo decided to process rubble from disaster-hit areas after detecting only 133 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of ash generated after rubble was incinerated, far below the upper limit of 8,000 becquerels set by the national government.”

        What would be the most realistic or typical level of residual radioactivity in ashes according to your experience ?

  3. Mark Foreman says:

    Well if the ash only has 133 Bq of Cs-137 per kilo then the activity is very low. What I thought you were thinking of a combustable waste with 133 Bq per kilo, such a waste when burnt will tend to give an ash with more than 133 Bq per kilo.

    The problem with how much activity is a hard one. If I ignore waste from the clean up of the reactor site then I expect that clean up waste and building site rubble in Japan will range from waste with next to no cesium-137 through to waste which is very radioactive. I imagine that waste from just outside the fence of the reactor site will be very active while soil from many miles away will be much less active.

    If I was to tell you what the exact amounts of waste with each activity range was then I would be just making up the data, I think that it is important for experts and people in authority to be ready to admit when they do not have an answer for the general public.

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