Shedding Light in the Darkness

Fukushima Disaster Continues to Worsen


Former nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen just visited Fukushima. In an interview with Fairewinds he reports, “the devastation is just awful. In front yards, you’ll see dozens of bags and each bag weighs a ton – filled with dirt. There’s 30 million bags weighing 30 million tons, of radioactive dirt and radioactive tree leaves and everything.”

It’s all over Fukushima Prefecture. All the rice paddies are loaded with plastic bags full of radioactive material. So they’re not going to be growing rice there for a long time. Then we found a parking lot at a supermarket that had a large radioactive source right in the middle of the parking lot that people were walking over and driving over. It was loaded with a black radioactive dust. It’s everywhere.

All the dust and debris that’s up in the forests is being blown by the wind or washed by the rain right into people’s front yards again. So wherever we look – one of the samples that one of my fellow scientists collected showed plutonium and significant amounts of plutonium. It was in a square meter. So that’s 3 feet by 3 feet. He was getting 19 disintegrations per second of plutonium. And that stuff hangs around for a quarter of a million years.

Q: And the plutonium is being re-deposited at locations that were unanticipated?

It’s everywhere. My Geiger counter just counts a click for radiation decay and it doesn’t tell me what the isotope is, but it is everywhere, and we’re very careful. We’re wearing gloves all the time, respirators all the time.

We went out to an incinerator. It’s under construction. And they plan to burn ten tons a day of material. Well, there’s 30 million tons of material up here. So that means they’ll have it all done in 3 million days. That’s a long, long, long, long time. A thousand years.

This incinerator is not working yet but their through-put is estimated to be ten tons a day. The scientist I was with went to the side of the road and scraped a small sample of radiation from the side of the road, from the dirty snow on the side of the road – was reading 400 counts per minute. So wherever the ground is exposed, there’s high levels of radiation in the mountains around here. It runs right into the Pacific Ocean. When this snow melts, it’s not going to be collected. It’s all going to run right off and into the Pacific Ocean.

The plutonium was found in a farmer’s field about 10 miles from the power plant. If it’s in that farmer’s field, it’s everywhere. So wherever there’s radiation, Cesium, there’s going to be plutonium. And that’s truly frightening.

It’s pretty clear that a significant amount of plutonium is scattered throughout the hillsides. And Cesium’s got a 30-year half life so in 300 years, it’s gone, but plutonium’s got a 25,000 year half life, so it’s a quarter of a million years before it’s gone. Some of the Cesium levels are so high – we had a Cesium level – scientists told me they had a Cesium level that was 25 million Becquerel per kilogram. So that means in 300 years, it’s one thousandth of that. Well, 25 million – that is still 25,000 counts per minute per pound – 2 pounds of material. So these are big numbers.

In these hills around Fukushima, there’s monkeys. We saw one today, as a matter of fact, running across the road. And one of the scientists watched the monkey poop and then collected the poop. And the monkey poop had 50,000 Becquerel per kilogram of cesium in her. So these animals that are living up there in the forest are becoming more and more and more highly radioactive.”


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