Gundersen’s Latest: Think about ramifications for Tokyo… How would you like kneeling in radioactive waste to pick flowers? Cobalt-60 in majority of samples, up to 1,481 Bq/kg (VIDEO & CHART)

Published: March 26th, 2012 at 6:23 am ET


Title: Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US
Source: Fairewinds Associates
Date: March 25, 2012

Transcript Excerpts with Emphasis Added

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Chief Nuclear Engineer: […] Couple of weeks ago though, I was in Tokyo and when I was in Tokyo, I took some samples. Now, I did not look for the highest radiation spot. I just went around with five plastic bags and when I found an area, I just scooped up some dirt and put it in a bag. One of those samples was from a crack in the sidewalk. Another one of those samples was from a children’s playground that had been previously decontaminated. Another sample had come from some moss on the side of the road. Another sample came from the roof of an office building that I was at. And the last sample was right across the street from the main judicial center in downtown Tokyo. I brought those samples back, declared them through Customs, and sent them to the lab. And the lab determined that ALL of them would be qualified as radioactive waste here in the United States and would have to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of.

Now think about the ramifications for the nation’s capital, whether it is Tokyo or the United States. How would you like it if you went to pick your flowers and were kneeling in radioactive waste? That is what is happening in Tokyo now.


Tokyo soil in some places, the ones I just happened to find, would qualify as radioactive waste here in the United States.

How would we feel if our nation’s capital were contaminated to that degree? So I agree with Chairman Jaczko, new nukes and old nukes that are being re-licensed should include as a cost in their analysis what we have learned to be happening in Tokyo and in Japan.

Thank you very much and I will keep you informed.

Watch the report here

Note that samples are tested wet. Drying out the samples would most likely result in higher radioactivity readings on a per kilogram basis.

Cobalt-60 @ 40 pCi/g = 40,000 pCi/kg = 1481.48 Bq/kg

Published: March 26th, 2012 at 6:23 am ET


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29 comments to Gundersen’s Latest: Think about ramifications for Tokyo… How would you like kneeling in radioactive waste to pick flowers? Cobalt-60 in majority of samples, up to 1,481 Bq/kg (VIDEO & CHART)

  • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

    Thanks again Mr Gundersen for all your efforts.
    Please stay safe.
    I wonder if anybody "official" anywhere in Japan will finally show some reaction to these findings?

    • InfoPest InfoPest

      There will never be any "official" radiation victims from Fukushima;

      Under IAEA's criteria:

      If a radiation-caused cancer is not fatal, it is not counted in the IAEA's figures.

      If a cancer is initiated by another carcenogen, but accelerated or promoted by exposure to radiation, it is not counted.

      If an auto-immune disease or any non-cancer is caused by radiation, it is not counted.

      Radiation-damaged embryos or foetuses which result in miscarriage or stillbirth do not count.

      A congenitally blind, deaf or malformed child whose illnesses are are radiation-related are not included in the figures because this is not genetic damage, but rather is teratogenic, and will not be passed on later to the child's offspring.

      Causing the genetic predisposition to breast cancer or heart disease does not count since it is not a "serious genetic disease" in the Mendelian sense.

      Even if radiation causes a fatal cancer or serious genetic disease in a live born infant, it is discounted if the estimated radiation dose is below 100 mSv [mSv= millisievert, a measurement of radiation exposure. One hundred millsievert is the equivalent in radiation of about 100 X-Rays].

      Even if radiation causes a lung cancer, it does not count if the person smokes — in fact whenever there is a possibility of another cause, radiation cannot be blamed.

      If all else fails, it is possible to claim that radiation below some designated dose does not cause cancer, and then average over the whole body the radiation dose which has actually been received by one part of the body or even organ, as for instance when radio-iodine concentrates in the thyroid. This arbitrary dilution of the dose will ensure that the 100 mSv cut-off point is nowhere near reached. It is a technique used to dismiss the sickness of Gulf War veterans who inhaled small particles of ceramic uranium irradiating and damaging cells in a particular part of the body.


    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      Tokyo; is it safe to live in or visit? via A Green Road

      30 Ways The Nuclear Industry Deceives Everyone; via A Green Road

  • Sam Sam

    Without soil sampling here on the West Coast we too could be kneeling in radioactive
    waste that is contaminated and we would not even know it. hot spots are here and there
    and everywhere from different deposition patterns. don't want to be alarmist. Maybe
    Gundersen can offer some advice on how to set up small scale radiological testing
    labs. Could we send him samples of dirt from our farms here in California, Oregon and
    Washington state?
    As a farmer there are some things to do to bind cesium in the soil though on large scale
    not too practical and very expensive. Charcoal, biochar absorbs and binds cesium. Spread
    some on top of planting beds and dig in a few inches. Also add extra potassium to your
    plots. Also grow sunflowers in one plot, remove them and pile up in one spot and never
    recycle the composted matter. Sunflower roots absorb and lock in cesium so it is a way to
    clean soil. Other than that there is not too much we can do other than perhaps grow
    food in a greenhouse that prevents contamination from rain but not from the air.
    I would not get too frightened as the anxiety and stress is harmful. . After reading the report of
    what is now being referred to as Chernobly AIDs —progressive weakening of the immune
    system from low dose ionized radiation I am finding ways to keep the
    immune system healthy.

    • Would hemp work the same way as the sunflower roots? For years I have read about the benefit of sing hemp to clean up toxic soil.

      • Bobby1

        Hemp is much better than sunflowers in absorbing radioactive materials from the soil.

        A two-edged sword of course, you wouldn't want to consume the hemp afterwards.

      • Sickputer

        Hemp is very good at removing cesium from the soil. The mature plants must be removed roots and all and stored in nuclear waste dumpgrounds. Burning the dried plants is not a good policy.

        Sam sez…"Other than that there is not too much we can do other than perhaps grow food in a greenhouse that prevents contamination from rain but not from the air."

        SP: Bingo! A handful of Japanese farmers are doing this as we speak. Actually the air can be filtered with HEPA filters and make the resulting crops very low in radiation. They would probably pick up more on the surface in transit to stores than during growing. Very expensive food though for small operations. A government or huge corporation might do it large scale and produce food only twice as expensive as outside crops. Coca-Cola perhaps? Where there is misery there is profit.

        • Years ago I waned to start an indoor greenhouse (all organic) in an old ten story building in lower Manhattan. After 9/11, property was so cheap. I thought about taking an old building and turning the middle floors into growing operations (hydroponics and some raised beds), the bottom floor would have been mercados/farmers markets/small eateries and the top floor would have been be an indoor tropical garden, complete with butterflies and hummingbirds! I think that indoor growing in cities is essential. A few years later, Whole Foods opened in NYC with a crowd of 20,000 the first day. I had the right idea, but I not the expertise to lead the project.

          I think that this type of model will become popular once people finally accept the truth about Fukushima.

  • Siouxx Siouxx

    The brilliance of Arnie Gundersen is in his understated subtlety. If you factor in the costs to humanity and the environment, plus professions i.e. farmers, fishermen into the cost of a nuclear plant new-build or continuance then there is no way economically the plant can exist. This would mean the end for nuclear power and that is why it has never been considered, or when it has been at such a ludicrously low level viz 5% damage to one reactor. The reality of the disaster at Fukushima showed us 100% damage to at least four. It doesn't matter at what level you are in this argument, whether the Chairman of the Board of an operating plant or the ex-farmer of an organic farm in Japan, at 5 am in the morning, we all know the truth of this. In farming we have a saying "muck or nettles" it means you act now or you court certain disaster – we are already living on borrowed time.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    "So I agree with Chairman Jaczko, new nukes and old nukes that are being re-licensed should include as a cost in their analysis what we have learned to be happening in Tokyo and in Japan"
    Jaczko never said the NRC has considered Toyko in the lessons learned from Fukushima.
    Gundersen agrees with Jaczko concerning…. licensing new and renewing licenses for old reactors is appropriate.
    I'm not going to spend all day debating Gundersen…I just don't and will never agree.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Other real costs of nukes in the US would have to include:
    1. Cost of public subsidy for construction.
    2. Cost of NRC to license and regulate.
    3. Cost of public backstop of $10 billion nuke accident liability limit.
    4. Cost to study and build nuke waste repository.

    Add to this the real risk from nuke accidents, which was so horrendous that the Japanese government couldn't even tell the people of Tokyo what had happened to them, let alone do the right thing and evacuate the area immediately. Now the people are left to live on in a "Tokyo nuke waste dump", and are urged to "Support By Eating" contaminated food from Central Japan. So sad. Put a cost on this, Chairman Jaczko. If you did, you would not build even one new nuke, nor relicense even one old nuke. Decommission all nukes!

    • gottagetoffthegrid

      Phil, you missed a big one:

      the cost of decommissioning a plant — even if it operated flawlessly during its lifetime.

      this is a massive cost and is partly why they keep trying to extend the licenses on the old ones like Vermont Yankee. the cost of decommissioning VY would just about bankrupt Entergy.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Cost in real terms is not even debatable..Fukushima is ongoing.
    This is one of the essential lessons.
    Restarting or building new facilities is not a rational option.

  • Bobby1

    Also vacuum cleaner bags and shoes from Tokyo were tested, cobalt-60 and uranium-235 and -238 were found:

    From the vacuum cleaner indoors use, cesium, cobalt-60, uranium had been detected. We received a report from a friend living in Tokyo, and were asked to measure the pack of vacuum cleaner dust and shoes to the scientists of the U.S. East Coast.

    Cesium (9.250Bq) 0.25 nano Curie: what was attached to the surface of the sneakers I was wearing in Tokyo until (2011 each) around the end April certainly – night 3/21 and, until the evening 3/11 to 15 in Fukushima Prefecture s shoes in the nano-Curie is so average was 1.42 (52.540Bq). Children's shoes in the United States on average was less than 0.01 nano-Curie is so (0.370Bq). : What was in the dust bag of vacuum cleaner I was using last summer to about 0.14 nano uranium 235 and uranium 238 Curie a small amount of nano-Curie and 0.02 (0.740Bq), (5.180Bq), cesium cobalt 60 ( !) (Japanese)

  • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

    Did I say today I love this site?

    I love this site.

  • Sickputer

    Arnie is to be commended. It is impossible for the average Joe Citizen to go to Japan and bring back soil samples (customs officers on both ends of the trip would negate any of our efforts I am sure). But Arnie is respected or at the very least feared because of what he MIGHT actually say in interviews so they leave him alone. At least for now, but I hope he travels with a sizable entourage and never ventures out without some family bodyguards.

    I know of the Texas waste dumpground of which he speaks. The radioactive waste will be traveling 5 miles away on the freeway from my house in a never ending cavalacade of unmarked trucks as they bring waste through my city from 36 US states on the way to the Andrews waste facility in far west Texas. Actually I am not opposed to this step despite the million dollar financial favors the billionaire waste disposal owner bestowed on Governor Rick Perry to get his license approved.

    The waste has to start being consolidated and the burning must stop. We burn in incinerators across America more waste than you can imagine. The untold death toll of nuclear particles will not escape the verdict of history.

    At some point in the future the purveyors of this deadly industry and other toxic industries as well will be stopped and the healing can begin.

    Many millions will die first, perhaps billions. Do the best you can to save your own family because there is no easy or quick solution. Move away from nuclear plants nearby if you are able. Watch what you buy…West Coast crops and foodstuffs of all types are now taboo in my purchase plans.

    As much as possible avoid rain, snow, and strong eastern flowing wind currents. There is invisible death in the air and any human sheep who wants to label me a fear monger…go ahead. Take my place in the rain.

    • Anthony Anthony

      Agreed, well said.

    • dharmasyd dharmasyd

      Sickputer…You just reminded me of something Helen Caldicott said frequently a while back. Because she had information that radioactive weapons and waste were being trucked around the USA in unexpected vehicles, Caldicott said, "Never trust a Winnebago!"

    • americancommntr

      "Move away"
      I discounted and did not apply for two government jobs, each of which was within 50 to 75 miles of a nuclear power plant.

      Also, in the book of Revelation mention is made of God judging those who destroy the earth. That may not be long from now.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Customs on both sides allowed Mr. Gundersen to bring radioactive soil samples…
    Further on … agree with Jaczko….
    "So I agree with Chairman Jaczko"
    A bit telling in my world.
    Just saying.

    • Bobby1

      Gundersen has boundaries due to politics, intimidation, what have you. He can't talk about underground coriums or re-criticality even though anyone can clearly see steam and smoke coming up from the ground on the webcams. He is what he is. Don't expect too much. He actually is pretty forthright within the boundaries of the narrow circumscribed view of the catastrophe that he inhabits.

    • gottagetoffthegrid

      the radioactivity status of the samples when he imported them was not known. Officially, in Japan, the samples could NOT have been radioactive — just ask any public official. So why would Arnie declare anything different? it was just dirt until it was tested.

      Anyone can take soil samples into the US. You just claim them as "geological samples" or "geotechnical samples" and when asked what you are going to do with them "mineralogical testing" is the corrrect answer.

      another interesting point is that declaring the samples proves a chain of custody, he has some proof where the samples came from.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    No..'s just an observation of the approved opposition.
    Expectations are for the naive.

  • Bleifrei Bleifrei

    A.G. need say no more.
    It is true enough as it is out
    slowly and insidiously.
    and yet every day is worse than a year are
    the investors to flee from the Nuke Ind.
    Let the dead not be hidden ..the four Horseman are in work

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Gundersen is a hero.

    While our governments stay awkwardly quiet through this nuclear nightmare, Arnie is gathering samples, testing, and reporting. And so much more. I am grateful, to say the least.

  • I agree.

    I do however thank him for releasing the results.

    They clearly state that uranium was found in multiple locations, in Tokyo…

    A good indication that plutonium is riddled though out most if not all of Japan.