Atlantic: Is gov’t trying to contaminate every region of Japan by burning radioactive debris? “If everyone is ‘contaminated,’ then, in a relative sense, no one is”

Published: June 4th, 2012 at 2:24 pm ET


Japan’s Latest Nuclear Crisis: Getting Rid of the Radioactive Debris
The Atlantic
Michael McAteer
Jun 4 2012, 8:14 AM ET

Disposing the more than 20 million tons of rubble caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is proving to be a difficult problem for Japan, not least because much of the rubble has been irradiated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


It’s still not clear why the Japanese government has decided against a policy of containing, rather than dispersing, the radioactive debris.


Containment would also mean solidifying the already-worrisome invisible border between “contaminated” and “un-contaminated” areas, with the former unfairly stigmatized. […] Maybe that’s part of the “wide area incineration” motivation: rather than dooming an entire region to long-term “contaminated” status, it makes every region in Japan share the burden of the radiation taboo. If everyone is “contaminated,” then, in a relative sense, no one is.


While the government insists on the necessity of removing rubble from the earthquake region as quickly as possible, critics point out that the government plan calls for 80 percent of the debris to be burned locally, and say that transporting only 20 percent of the feared waste to incinerators around the country makes little sense. After all, if the goal is to remove debris from the area, why is the vast majority of it staying there?

Marketing Campaign

Part of what makes it difficult to gauge the actual necessity of “wide area incineration” is the government’s massive PR campaign to promote the idea. In what Japanese newspapers called an unusual move, the Ministry of the Environment budgeted more than $17 million to promote wide area incineration. The government’s solicitation for a campaign of billboards, newspaper ads, and TV spots explains, “Due to the challenges of promoting ‘wide area incineration,’ there is a need to gain the understanding and support of the populace concerning the necessity and urgency of ‘wide area incineration.'”

Even Some Tokyo Debris Over Limit, ~250 km from Fukushima Daiichi

Because garbage incinerators inevitably serve as collecting grounds for radiation spread across large areas, in some cases, the limit of 8000 bq/kg has been surpassed even in facilities processing local garbage in Tokyo, according to the Ministry of the Environment. Such stories have exacerbated fears that incinerating debris from areas even closer to Fukushima could produce potentially hazardous irradiated ash.

Published: June 4th, 2012 at 2:24 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Crackdown: Japanese professor’s arrest “extremely unjust” — Publicly opposed burning of radioactive debris December 14, 2012
  2. Fukushima will start burning radioactive waste — 100,000 Bq/kg to be incinerated — 1 billion pounds of debris in exclusion zone -Mainichi April 8, 2012
  3. Video: Japan burning Fukushima debris — 10 miles from Daiichi nuke plant February 1, 2013
  4. Gundersen: They are creating 100 to 1,000 times more radioactive material by burning debris than keeping it in concentrated form (AUDIO) February 13, 2012
  5. Asahi: Huge island made of “contaminated soil and rubble” proposed off Fukushima coast — Place for disposal of radioactive debris — “Measures will be taken to prevent adverse impact on ocean” August 8, 2013

40 comments to Atlantic: Is gov’t trying to contaminate every region of Japan by burning radioactive debris? “If everyone is ‘contaminated,’ then, in a relative sense, no one is”

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    "If everyone is dead, no one is dead."

    Who wrote this stupid piece of drivel? People (mostly children) are dying by the hundreds of thousands, and some moron wrote this?

    I must admit, I can't fully back up my assertion on the hundreds of thousands of kids dying, because A FEW WEEKS AFTER 3/11 ALL THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES QUIT PUBLISHING INFANT MORTALITY RATE DATA, SINCE IT WAS GOING STRAIGHT UP!!! We'll just have to take the 14,000 deaths in the report and extrapolate. Easy when we factor in ONGOING INCREASED AMOUNTS OF RADIATION EMISSION AND BIO-ACCUMULATION!–14000-us-deaths-tied-to-fukushima-reactor-disaster-fallout-135859288.html

    But I can assure you, the cremation ovens throughout Japan and the NA West Coast are very, very busy.

  • My thought early after 311, was that the officials believed that incineration would destroy the radiation, and the burn policy remained even though they were told by science it would distribute (or redistribute) the radiation.

    As for storing waste, that isn't easy, and I am not sure there IS such a thing as safe storage in the long term.

    • Time Is Short Time Is Short

      This was discussed here some time ago. They're doing it on purpose, so that it will be harder to single out harder affected population groups.

      If everyone dies equally, it becomes "harmless background radiation".

      The Japanese are going through the awareness of their government lying to them, and killing their kids, resulting in protesting just like the US did in the '60's with the Vietnam War. This is hard for them, but it's not going to stop, it's going to get worse, and wait to see what happens after a few million pissed off Japanese get done burying their children from this. The police and military are in the same boat, wink, wink.

      Eventually, honor will overcome their slavery to their paychecks.

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        Hi Time Is Short, yes, there was an article here and/or link to a video put out by Christopher Busby, Ph.D. Dr. Busby discussed the potential legal ramifications of "diluting" the radiation. He said by spreading it out over the entire population, the effect is everyone is equally contaminated. He raised the question of whether or not it is being done deliberately to make a trail of evidence harder to follow.

        Tepco owns a subsidiary company which is incinerating waste in or near Tokyo Bay. I'm not sure what other incineration operations they own or control.

        'Makes me suspicious of the motives for incinerating the waste, for sure.

        I'd have to agree if everyone is contaminated, it's hard to prove point source pollution (or point source radioactive contamination).

    • Oh, they knew what would happen from burning. That's why they're burning instead of burying. I can guarantee you that if they were to bury the contaminated material (turn the exclusion zone into a giant landfill and put up a BIG fence – it ain't ever going to be habitable again) it would pose less of a threat to life than burning it poses.

      They have always known. Guess the ancient 'tradition' of suicide in the face of shame is one the guilty nukes and their pet government flunkies plan to extend to the entire nation. I expect quite a few citizens may object to that idea. Hope they won't go quietly.

  • goathead goathead

    If anything, they should leave everything exactly where it is!! If it is not safe due to the high levels of radiation , then churning, digging and transporting it is not going to help at all!! That lesson was learnt in the aftermath of Chernobyl in the closest town to the disaster! But Japan it appears is a different kettle of culture and incompetent politics is certainly ruling the day there. Japanese politics appears to be the type of parasite that ends up killing its host though!!

  • Myme

    It IS clear why the Japanese government is doing what they are doing.

    By incenerating and disperse the radioactive debris, they are trying to eliminate clean regions and reduce the regional differences in contamination levels, so that:

    – future claims for health problms cannot be blamed on the Fukushima accident

    – no region or population that can serve as a control group will remain available to scientific research

    – no doctors and scientists will be able to claim low-level / long-term radiation exposure increases health risk because everyone has been foreced to share the exposure and they will see no difference between the residents in Fukushima and Kita Kyushu City (600 miles or 966 km from Fukushima)

    – no countries and world regions (such as US and West Coast states) will be able to single out the Fukushima radiation and Japan as the cause for increased health problems among their citizens because the incineration is going to contaminate the whole world

    – no countries will be able to impose import restrictions on Japanese foods and goods because the incineration is going to contaminate all countries equally

    – the Japanese government knows how easy it is to fool international leaders with these strategic lies, excuses, and skewed scientific data (they've been already successful in fooling Obama and Clinton)

    • Bobby1

      Right, they are intentionally contaminating the whole planet so they don't have to pay compensation.

      In other words, premeditated planetary genocide for money.

      • Myme

        You are totally right. Japan's action is premeditated genocide affecting the entire world's population, the whole planet.

        The mentality is not that different from that of the Kamikaze strategy during the WW-II. Japan knew it was going to lose, so it decided to go suicidal and spread destructions and death across both Japan and its emenies.

        This lunatic tendency of Japanese leaders is always hidden under a pretense of something noble. In the WW II, the government told the people that Kamikaze was an act of a glorious patrialism. Today, they're appealing to the people's sense of 'sharing pain' and 'show of national bond, patrialism.'

        The scarist part is that it is always the innocent and young who are pushed forward to the front line. Most Kamikaze fighters were high school age teenagers. Today it is the babies, children, young families.

        I've been thinking… what would it take to file international genocide charges, international environmental crimes, against the Japanese government officials like Environmental Minister Mr. Hosono.

        Does anyone know someone in the media who can spotlight on this issue?

    • many moons

      That is such a crazy idea it's probably true….

  • Myme

    As a Japanese, I know it is a lie when Japan says it has no storage space, etc.

    Japan has always bragged about maintaining over 60% of its land as undeveloped forests and mountains. Much of that land is inaccessable to the public anyway, so why not build a permanent storage there?

    Virtually all of the debris from the 1995 great Hanshin earthquake (the one that knocked out the entire highway system in the mid west Japan) was cleared by Kobe city. No other cities were required to take them in, the central government did not even help out.

    The amount of the Fukushima debris is said to be only 1.5 times of the Hanshin debris. The Northeast Japan, where Fukushima and tsunami hit regions are located, is far far unpopulated than Kobe City and has tons of empty land. If you travel there on a train, 75% of the scenaries is farmland, forests, and empty land. So, why transport the debris to far more populated cities, burn them in the community incenerators that only have bug filters and emit the incineration exhaust and particles across a bigger polutations?

    There is only one answer. And we in the U.S. too are screwed, because the Japanese government is essentially trying to contaminate here in order to avert future trade restrictions…

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    The nuclear industry is 'unsinkable'.

    Fukushima; Today's Titantic and Costa Concordia; via A Green Road Blog

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    As explained in the article below; if everyone is radiated, then no one can sue. By extension, everyone in the world must be radiated as well, to raise the 'background' baseline amount for all.

    Solution to the nuclear contamination problem… everyone is radiated, so no one can sue the nuclear industry anywhere in the world.

    After all, radiation is 'natural'.

    Dr. Chris Busby; Consequences of Burning Radioactive Waste In Japan; via A Green Road Blog

  • labmonkeywithagun labmonkeywithagun

    I think they wanted to bulldoze it into the ocean and the Chinese said, "I will warn you once."

    If scrubbers and filters are used…..maybe,not so bad, but since I don't think they are, and pretty sure they aren't generating power from the biomass, the real no brainer…..

  • patman

    No shit, eh, Sherlock.

  • nukedincali nukedincali


  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    I believe it was Chris Busby..explaining it very spreading the radioactive there will be no clean areas to do scientific case studies against in trying to prove Fukushima at fault.
    It's all about getting out of litigation.

    In doing so..they are increasing,expanding and EXPEDITING the exposure.

    (And lining the pockets of the private contracters at the expense of the Japanese people.)

    • I've kind of wondered whether a bunch of people sat in a room and tried to calculate the relative costs of storing radioactive waste versus burning it.

      Storing it will be very expensive.

      Burning it socializes the risk.

      I believe Japan has some level of socialized medicine so the costs will be born by government (and sick people) and they will be hidden as health costs.

      Plus, I'm sure a considerable amount of the emissions from the incinerated nuclear waste will float high because of heat and thereby be transported away from Japan by various wind systems, such as the jet stream.

      Socializing the risk in this way helps hide deteriorating health in Japan because everyone else in the northern hemisphere will be experiencing the same phenomenon, to a lesser degree depending upon their locations. (As AGreenRoad points out)

      The gamble is that no one really knows how bad the effects will be because of the historic tendency to marginalize and deny true extent of harm caused by the ingestion and inhalation of radionuclides.

      We are all part of one grand gamble made by the nuclear industry.

      Many of the people who made the gamble probably would qualify as sociopaths if we used the DSM diagnostic criteria.

    • MaidenHeaven MaidenHeaven

      Well I'll be dammmmnnnneeeddd 🙁 I was going to post the link to the Busby YouTube video titled Genocide in Japan….this is what is in its place.

      "GENOCIDE IN JAPAN! – …"
      This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement from claimants including:

      Keith Loutit
      Garden Pool, LLP

      EneNews did have a recent article from a doctor in Japan who said that he could not find an area where there was no contamination, thereby leaving him incapable of proving the Fukushima radiation was causing health issues. (that is not a direct quote) I posted this video under that link, showing that Busby had been correct months earlier about the real reason for the burning.

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    Who is making the money from burning the nuclear waste?

    One rumor is that the TEPCO is also getting big $$$ for doing this…

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      A Tepco subsidiary is doing the burning of at least some of the waste. If I'm not mistaken that info. appeared at Fukushima Diary or Enformable. It could have been here.

  • Jebus Jebus

    Anyone care to wager a bet, as to where all the rad loving bacteria came from?

    This is not new science, and I am sure the were(are) looking at ways to mitigate the radionuclides before those pitchforks come a pokin at the steps of the diety. (curious it's called that, diety)

    and I am sure that some enterprising biotechnology somewhere has offered it's services to said for a "modest" fee.

    Any takers against this possible scenario?

    I wonder what it is called. Hmm, corexit would be good. Wait, thats been taken…Darn, it would have described things very well.

    Maybe in disdain for that name already taken, they could call it BlowOut, indicating the fungus' ability to uptake the heavy metals, dry up, and blow them out to sea…

    Anyways, here is some data on this bioremediation technique, most data on this is "pay as you go" type documents. Go figure!

    Engineering radiation-resistant bacteria for environmental
    Michael J Daly

  • nedlifromvermont

    Hello everyone! We must proceed calmly. The truth will out …

    I tried out this story line on my twenty-one year old MIT superstar son, and he reacted violently, accusing me of being a conspiracy nutjob: "What, do you also believe we never landed on the moon??" This is a seriously smart boy, who loves Japanese culture … He is not ready for this much truth all at once.

    Busby clearly laid out the case last spring, and GE and Immelt are implicated …

    We must try to stay in the light and live half a life, with our family and friends, and do the simple things, mow the lawn, try not to imagine the cesium rain stinging our skin …

    Having hardware trouble posting ….

    Channel the Dalai Lama and stay light and positive.

    The truth will out and the lies will be revealed for what they are. Break it to them slowly, piece by piece.

    My friend said he saw the article about the Tuna …

    I mentioned it was fifteen fish, not one, and he was surprized. I mentioned the fish were caught last August, and he was shocked.

    So much to live for, and so much to mourn.

    Peace to all of you for Keeping the Heart. Sending out love and light. Fifty-six today. I plan on staying around for a while.

    Bonnie Raitt played a concert in Portland, Maine, and the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution received a benefit check for $9,000 thanks to her good efforts on our behalf. We will put it to good use against Entergy Liars and Thieves.

    No nukes (at all) SHUT…

  • ageezerofgiza

    Because there is no international outcry about burning radioactive debris, I assume that all the other governments approve of it. My government approves of a foreign power poisoning me. Nice.

  • Pat Kittle

    Even at this late date Malthus's warning is ignored by most self-professed "environmentalists."

    They ought to blame themselves for the inevitable results of their folly.

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      Greenpeace and other environmental organizations are at the cutting edge of this whole debacle, pushing TEPCO and the Japanese government into more disclosure and transparency. Greenpeace actually went into Japan and did radiation testing both on land and in the ocean, FORCING Japan to do the same.

      Blame the right target please; otherwise back up the charge with evidence.

  • arclight arclight

    "t’s still not clear why the Japanese government has decided against a policy of containing, rather than dispersing, the radioactive debris."

    its very costly to glasify instead of incinerate.. i believe the uk and france are following japans lead in this… just a suspicion mind…

    sellafield has recently cancelled its glacification disoposal ideas so what are they doing now?? lots of isotopes in the air in the uk and france as well as others and the eurdep radiation system is switched off to exact data..?? coincidence??

    the queens jubilee radioactive fireworks night 4 june 2012 23.00 hrs

    luv from chinon nuclear power plant! south france

    pithy headline!! :).. admin will be proud!!