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Friday, January 20, 2012

High levels of cesium found in ash in wood stoves of homes in Fukushima

NIHONMATSU, Fukushima -- The Ministry of the Environment announced on Jan. 19 that high levels of radioactive cesium were detected in ash found in the wood stoves of private homes in this town.

The findings resulted from a joint survey conducted by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) at the request of the Nihonmatsu Municipal Government in November last year.

Results show that pre-burned firewood was tainted with 1,157 to 4,395 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram -- radiation levels exceeding standards set by the government by some 29 to 110 times -- while contamination detected in ash after the wood was burned in stoves stood at 28,660 to 43,780 becquerels per kilogram.

Based on the fact that the firewood used in the survey had been stored outdoors before March 11, officials believe that the high contamination is a direct consequence of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant.

As a result of the findings, the Ministry of the Environment instructed municipal governments in all eight prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto areas that are subject to decontamination after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, not to scatter firewood ash in outdoor gardens and agricultural fields. Instead, the ash should be collected and processed as regular garbage. Read More