Fukushima soil recycling debates: Safe or not?

The Fukushimia Daiichi Nuclear Disaster is an ill-fated disaster that happened after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale. It is important to note that the nuclear reactors automatically self-shutdown to prevent damage.

 

But it proved futile because the ensuing tsunami caused the emergency power generators that provided control for the cooling pumps to fail, the reactors eventually overheated and exploded, causing much radioactive damage to the area.

 

To this day in 2019, it is still off-limits to civilians. It is considered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

 

Photo credit to: https://www.greenpeace.org

However, farmers in the region are trying to push for their products which calls for reusing and recycling the contaminated soil. This is alarming to Japanese authorities because not only will it cause health problems for the people eating them but also the people who handle it (plant, cultivate, deliver).

 

Some analysts say that the soil must not be used and placed elsewhere to prevent such a contamination from happening. These same analysts say that 14 million cubic meters of soil must be moved to make way for clean soil underneath the contaminated soil.

 

Also, officials are having trouble finding a place to relocate all the contaminated soil. The soil relocation program started back in early 2015 but they’ve only moved 2.3 million cubic meters. At this rate, 2 million meters every 4 years, it’ll take them about 24 years to move everything.

 

Environmentalists are also worried that the site where the contaminated soil is relocated might also be contaminated, thus adding damage. However, there are facilities to prevent environmental damage. So, overall, the contamination in the new site will be relatively light.

 

The public health ministry and the environmental ministry are also concerned that if the contaminated soil is used, and even if the levels have gone low enough for safe use, will there be any harmful side effects?

 

Reference: Fierce opposition to recycling radioactive soil from Fukushima

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