Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anger spreads as radioactive gravel traced to schools, public road

NIHONMATSU, Fukushima -- Anger and anxiety are spreading here after highly radioactive gravel from inside the Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuation zone was traced on Jan. 17 to several construction projects in the city, including at local schools.

The contaminated gravel, quarried in the town of Namie, was first discovered in the concrete at a new apartment block. Since then the material has been traced to repairs to a new school route road, a public pool in a neighboring town and a golf course in the prefecture, among other locations. According to the Nihonmatsu Municipal Board of Education, the stone was used in earthquake-proofing projects at the city's elementary and junior high schools.

Staff at Asahi Elementary School taking radiation readings along the school route detected emissions of 0.36-0.60 microsieverts per hour -- or about the same level as the surrounding area -- and the school held a meeting for parents and guardians on the evening of Jan. 17 to explain how the contaminated gravel had wound up in the new road. Read More