– Japan: New Government Maps Show Wide Dispersion of Plutonium and Strontium
– Pregnant Mothers Going Back to Minami Soma City to Give Birth (EX-SKF, September 6, 2011):
I just don’t know what to say.
NHK’s program “Close-up Gendai” aired the episode on August 31 (which you can view at the program’s site here) about a 72-year-old obstetrician and over 50 pregnant mothers coming back to Minami Soma City to give birth.
The reason for coming back to their homes in Minami Soma City, even if the radiation level remains elevated, is that they were totally stressed out in the evacuation centers. When asked why she came back to the city, one young mother coming to see the obstetrician says, “Well, it was very cold sleeping on the hard floor of the gymnasium, and we thought our home would be better.”
While the national government created the evacuation-ready zone in Minami Soma City and advised small children and pregnant women to stay out of the zone, there was no actual support as to where they, particularly pregnant women, can stay comfortably outside the zone.
– Highly toxic plutonium detected in soil 45 km away from Fukushima nuclear complex (Mainichi, Oct. 1, 2011):
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced on Sept. 30 that it had detected highly-toxic plutonium apparently from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power plant in soil at six locations including Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture.
It is the first discovery of the highly-toxic radioactive substance outside the nuclear plant since the outbreak of the disaster in mid-March. The ministry also said radioactive strontium was detected in a wide swath of Fukushima Prefecture within a radius of 80 kilometers from the troubled nuclear power plant, underscoring the fact that the nuclear crisis has been affecting wide areas.
The ministry conducted inspections on soil at 100 locations within a radius of 80 kilometers from the crippled nuclear power plant in June and July. Plutonium-238, believed to have come from the crippled nuclear plant, was detected in six locations including Iitate, Futaba and Namie. Plutonium-239 and -240 were also detected in many locations, but the ministry said it was not clear whether they were directly linked to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
According to the ministry, the levels of radiation in the plutonium detected fall below the levels of radiation in plutonium believed to have come from atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the past. But because very little plutonium-238 had been detected before the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, the ministry concluded that it had come from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Namie registered the highest density of plutonium-238 with 4 becquerels per one square meter of soil. The combined density of 15 becquerels of plutonium-239 and -240 was detected in one square meter of soil in Minamisoma, while 0.82 becquerels of plutonium-238 was detected in one square meter of soil in Iitate. The ministry said, “The radiation levels of the plutonium are not high enough to affect human bodies.” The half life of plutonium-238 is 88 years. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had previously explained that plutonium is heavier than radioactive cesium and therefore it is difficult for the radioactive substance to travel to distant places.
Meanwhile, the ministry said it had detected radioactive strontium-89 in nearly half of the locations inspected, including Shirakawa, about 79 kilometers from the nuclear plant. Because the half life of strontium-89 is only about 50 days, the ministry concluded that all the findings of the radioactive substance were linked to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Namie registered the highest level of radiation, with 22,000 becquerels per one square meter of soil. Noting differences in distribution between the plutonium and radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the ministry plans to carry out more inspections because strontium can easily builds up in bones.