From shovels to water fukushima radiation cleanup is trial and error

English: The after the Polski: Zniszczenia na ...

By Mari Yamaguchi

FUKUSHIMA —

Workers in rubber boots chip at the frozen ground, scraping until they’ve removed the top 5 centimeters of radioactive soil from the yard of a single home. Total amount of waste gathered: roughly 60 tons.

One down, tens of thousands to go. And since wind and rain spread radiation easily, even this yard may need to be dug up again.

The work is part of a monumental task: a costly and uncertain effort by Japan to try to make radiation-contaminated communities inhabitable again. Some contractors are experimenting with chemicals; others stick with shovels and high-pressure water. One government expert says it’s mostly trial and error.

The radiation leak has slowed considerably at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, nearly one year after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sent three of its reactors into meltdown. Work continues toward a permanent shutdown, but the Japanese government declared the plant stable in December, setting the stage for the next phase: decontaminating the area so that at least some of the 100,000 evacuated residents can return.

Experts leading the government-funded project cannot guarantee success. They say there’s no prior model for what they’re trying to do. Even if they succeed, they’re creating another problem they don’t yet know how to solve: where to dump all the radioactive soil and debris they haul away.

The government has budgeted 1.15 trillion yen through March 2014 for the cleanup, which could take decades.

read more at    www.japantoday.com

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Posted on March 6, 2012, in Japan and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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