NHK: Paper towels are best way to decontaminate Japan — Outside of homes wiped down by hand (VIDEO)

Published: November 11th, 2012 at 6:00 pm ET


Watch the broadcast here

Title: Decontamination: Losing the Sheltering Trees
Source: NHK
Uploaded by: MissingSky101
Date: Nov 9, 2012

At 31:30 in

It’s now known that wiping the roof with paper towels is more effective than high pressure washing. But it takes an enormous amount of man power time and money to clean an entire roof this way. The government estimated the paper towel method cost about $19 per square meter. So Minamisoma decided to limit it to areas such as the eaves.

At 34:45 in

The city hopes to adopt the latest techniques, but the environment ministry wants them to stick to the guidelines. […]

“What I’m concerned about is […] this full-scale decontamination of the garden seems to cost twice what we estimated […] at $19 per square meter the cleanup costs become mind-boggling. It really makes us wonder.”

Published: November 11th, 2012 at 6:00 pm ET


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58 comments to NHK: Paper towels are best way to decontaminate Japan — Outside of homes wiped down by hand (VIDEO)

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    The radiation is invisible, and everyone is wallowing in it. Only solution is to outlaw nuclear reactors. As for now, the exclusion zone must be increased to hundreds of kilometers. At least.

    • dosdos dosdos

      Who lives at home and never goes anywhere? You can't just decontaminate personal property, you have to decontaminate everything, the personal property, the property of everyone else, the forests, the streams, the roads, public property, all to make a safe environment. Decontaminating one residence doesn't help the family living in it. You have to decontaminate the entire community from top to bottom. Then you need to decontaminate the land which surrounds the community.

      Decontamination is a pipe dream. The only thing that will decontaminate the majority of Japan's fallout is centuries.

      • richard richard

        i agree dosdos, this word 'decontamination' is just a fantasy.

        The radiation outgoings haven't stopped.

        and when the h*ll did a paper towel become the nemisis of radiation. Like, what were all the world war threats about and how did that russian journalist really die, if all it takes is a serviette to save the world.

        as you say, there's the whole ecosystem to decon, it's just not reality to even think it can be done.

      • Anthony Anthony

        And then there is that pesky radioactive rain problem we will face for the next several centuries.

    • omniversling

      If only everyone would get on message and SMILE, there would be no need for the myth of decontamination…what about a media campaign with a boy band licking the roofs clean…even with bus fare still much cheaper than paper towels.., and some witless American school kids to front it…

      Remind me of that popular saying…with the words gate, horse, after, bolted, close…
      …is half-life 24,400 years, or nukepuke in it?

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      Decontamination: Losing the Sheltering Trees; via A Green Road

      Total costs to decontaminate come up to 24 TRILLION… or MORE.

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      Lucky for everyone, there are now THREE great tools for clean up after a nuclear accident;

      duct tape

      baling wire


  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    How ridiculous the paper towel idea. The rubbish will be burnt and the re-circulation process continues on :O

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    @31'18 Surely, the government should have suggested the use of decon gel to clean the roof and hard surfaces which is safer than the high pressure washing. TEPCO uses it.

  • AntiNuke159

    Japan’s decontamination/cleaning policy is “funny” just like their Fuku plant safety procedures/design, which created the worst nuke disaster in the history of humanity. Japanese clean up, and then either incinerate the debris or dump the stuff into the ocean, which only means they spread it around and back onto the ground, or seafood. I believe permanent landfills would be a better solution. But again, Tepco would rather save a few dollars at the expense of public health, again.

  • Mack Mack

    TEPCO "says it will cost ¥10 trillion ($127.796 billon) to “decontaminate” the region and for compensation. This according to TEPCO includes “scrubbing residents homes.” To decontaminate them. However most of the funds according to refugees are going to contractors connected to the major political parties in Japan."

    Read about a journalist's firsthand experience in Fukushima —>

    "One Day in Fukushima" contains new insight

    (Scroll down to find the article)

  • RememberThis RememberThis

    Maybe we should just ship them a pallet of Brawny.
    Along with some 48 leaf clovers.

    What a crock os

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    Wow it's endless :O
    Today is 20 months since 311.
    Om Ma Hum…

    • omniversling

      GitD…dont be such a pessimist…the end is PU half-life 24,400 years, x10 = 244,000 years…our own end is much sooner…20 months is but a fraction of a blink…I'll put the kettle on…

      • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

        I think we'd better party like there is no tomorrow.
        We are going to diiiiie <333

        But really, with or without radiation, our life is short.
        Enjoy whenever you can while you got the good moment. Cut the cr@p and live the life you want. Who knows WW3 may be round the corner if it hasn't started already. I was speaking to an Iranian guy yesterday and we agreed how people are kept away from the information both in Iran & Japan. Only the ones outside of the country can see (well majority anyway) it.

        There is a total solar eclipse tomorrow 😉

      • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

        make some peppermint tea, please, if you don't mind ")

  • Sickputer

    Bounty or Viva? 😉 I am constantly amused by the asinine stuff the Japanese nucleocrats continue to crap out of their radiation-addled brains. Makes me wonder if the majority of the country is already walking dead zombies.

    Diapers in trenches to stop million ton leaks of super hot radioactive water, antique radium bottles planted to show there was no airborne fallout in Tokyo, lead purses for dosimeters to make the Daiichi workers guaranteed walking dead, monitoring posts 80 meters high or on top of steel plates on the ground, kid cartoon propaganda, fake thyroid exams, selling tainted seafood, rice, tea, beef, and of course who can forget Dr. Yamashita Smiles?

    Madness in Japan… Nuclear insanity reigns supreme.

    • Dogleg Dogleg

      Stand back I got this

      • Radio VicFromOregon

        I don't know what your work is Dogleg, but, you might think of writing for Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart, or even better, Stephen Colbert. Please send this in to at least Colbert along with the above article. I mean it. You have managed to do parody that shows the depth of the depravity of TEPCO's thinking without harming or denigrating the Japanese citizens. This is great!

    • eatliesndie eatliesndie

      "walking dead zombies"
      It's hard not to come to a conclusion like that. Though, put in the same situation I think most sheeple would be just the same. There are very, very few liberated minds out there.
      Very very sad.

      • Maggie123

        He eatliesndie – IMO one 'barrier' to following a 'liberated mind' is "material social/political/economic reality" – not the only barrier but part of the entanglement, an dynamic entanglement almost infinite in variables as experienced by the individual from birth onwards.

        It seems to me re "in the same situation .. most sheeple would be just the same" that underlying questions include: "Where would I/we go; what would I/we do to survive/thrive when we got there?"

        Among other 'drivers' that make these questions 'unanswerable' are, of course, monetary practices around food, housing, etc … "going numb" – if one is not already numb from life generally – becomes a holding pattern, irrational but offering some comfort. (Or so it seems to me – 'roots' to 'zombiehood' are long and run deep.)

        • eatliesndie eatliesndie

          It's hard to watch. The dynamic entanglement. the animal survival instinct is numbed by the delayed mortal effect of the radiation. Instead, the modern survival theme comes to the front, things like "material social/political/economic reality" seem more immediate.
          I am only slightly bound by modern survival instinct. Some are being strangled.

  • eatliesndie eatliesndie

    I'm sorry, I'm a little confused. Is this a parody?
    Paper towels? lets just do the eaves its much cheaper?
    um….is now the right time to just break down and cry?

    • amberlight amberlight

      "Is this a parody?" Straight out of The Onion…

      Every time I think they have reached the limit on the steaming mountain of bullsh*t, they manage to pile more on. And I don't see the U.S. or other nations acting in the best interests of humanity or the environment. We are all on death row and the appeals are running out!

      • richard richard

        yes, with each step of 'parody', and with each lack of objection or questions from the global 'community'; the incredible conspiracy of denial is made even starker.

        Yes, I tend to agree we are now walking dead. All our talk of stopping nukes and creating renewables is shuffling deck chairs
        on the titanic. she's going down, capt'n.

        tepco probably know this, that's why they aren't bothering to attempt rescue, it will only create panic if they actually appear to be attending to an emergency.

        One season to go to two years. We've been fortunate that the fuse has been taking it's time.

    • Sickputer

      ELAD typed these pixels of puzzlement:

      "I'm a little confused. Is this a parody? Paper towels?"

      SP: They are drop dead serious. Yes, absorbent materials can soak up poisons of all kinds and that is preferable to washing it down into the water table and soils. But as mentioned… Burning those contaminated towels in an incinerator is trading one devil for a flying devil and also really toxic incinerator sludge.

      Using absorbents works well for small spills of contaminants, but as noted the absorbents are expensive. I am not really sure I agree with their $19 per square meter estimate. A dozen big rolls might sell for that price in Japan. Does it take all 12 rolls to absorb 20 months of radioactive fallout on a single square meter of roof? Depends on how thick the deposits are, but I would think deposits of most airborne dust accumulate in inches per decade.

      Still, it is a fairly useless plan not because of cost but because:

      The plant's runaway melted nuclear cores are still emitting significant amounts of radioactive air and contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

      • omniversling

        SP, the $19/m2 are IAEA, NISA, NRC approved JapGov, Tepkill and Yakuza brand paper towels…they also manufacture safety certificates…and toilet paper..

        …not your everyday supermarket product..

        Time to sell the bullion and invest in paper again…

        Paper towels mean never having to say you're sorry…

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    Let's put this in perspective once more.
    Busby has said that the air radiation level in Fukushima is approximately 1000 times more than the air radiation level measured in Europe at the peak of nuclear testing back in 1963.

    I am noticing many anti-nuclear protesters are finding it difficult to convince their parents and family that situation isn't ok. This includes my family who asked me when I'd go home :O I guess, this is the spirit of community, we must die together, I can't leave you alive. 🙁

  • nedlifromvermont

    … Remember, everyone … this is the benefit of the 'friendly atom' … let's just hope the 'mean and nasty atom' stays away …

    I'm a little confused, too … is anyone alive out there??

    I'm wondering about having some corium pudding …


  • richard richard

    Pre-emptive decon – plaster you roof in post-it notes. then after the rads fall, simply peel off.

    then recycle the post-it notes and send them to tepco or your nearest nuclear facility for administration purposes.

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    Actually, richard, they might want to use this idea in Japan for real. I can see a company developing large adhesive Post-its that can withstand high winds and rain.

  • Jebus Jebus

    This is the real cost of nuclear power and you cant wipe that away with a paper towel…

    A nation destroyed by nuclear power, flushed like so many paper towels…

    Nikkei hits 4-wk low on weak Japan GDP, US fiscal woes

    Japan's economy shrank 0.9 percent in the three months to
    September, marking the first contraction in three quarters,
    adding to signs that slowing global growth and tensions with
    China are nudging the world's third-largest economy into

    Is nuclear power going to wipe out the US too?

  • jump-ball jump-ball

    "The radiation is invisible…":

    It isn't invisible now, nor was it when first detected by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Reagan 100 miles off Nukushima on 3-13-2011:

    "MALE PARTICIPANT: This sample is taken from an airborne aircraft?
    MR. TRAUTMAN: No, it was taken on the deck of the Ronald Reagan, U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
    MALE PARTICIPANT: Okay. Is it clearly above the deck?
    MR. TRAUTMAN: Yes, this from the ship.
    MALE PARTICIPANT: Okay, is not coming I mean, if — it’s definitely not in the cloud.
    MR. TRAUTMAN: The answer is it — well, I don’t know, I’m not sure what you are asking me. This is not a — we do not have deposition on the ship. This is coming from a cloud.
    MR. TRAUTMAN: We have nothing measurable on the deck.
    MS. BROCK: Nobody has been contaminated.
    MR. TRAUTMAN: Well, that’s not true. We had a –
    MS. BROCK: Oh, there’s been contamination?
    MR. TRAUTMAN: We had an individual who was on a Japanese ship that was more directly in the plume have some contamination on their feet, which we did detect as part of the process. But it was
    not from the deck on the aircraft carriers.
    MS. BROCK: Okay, I didn’t realize that. Okay."

  • Maggie123

    I don't think this advances the 'technology' of this scheme but would put in a reminder that worn out clothing used as paper toweling saves trees, manuf. costs, and other 'externalized' costs of resource use. I've not purchased p.toweling for about 30 yrs (nor al. foil; nor 'saran' wrap). 🙂

    • Radio VicFromOregon

      I have finally met my match! You have figured out reuse solutions way beyond me. One friend joked when helping me move and unpack some boxes, that i used cottons balls for packaging cuz they keep spilling out. They were actually from the herb bottles and i used them for art dabs, but…

      • Maggie123

        🙂 Amusing – Giant balls of string used to be novelty news, some rural person would have one of these in a garage. Farm environment I was raised in valued 'on hand resources', plus heard depression strategies – then lived back-to-land homestead life so lots of practice. Worst hassle sometimes = "being sensible" about tossing stuff that "seems potentially useful". Yes – cotton balls why buy them when they come along as packaging – 'q' tips when a bit is wrapped around wooden match head. Way off topic! 🙂

    • What are your substitutes for all those?

      • Maggie123

        Do you mean al.foil, 'saran' wrap, (beyond cutting up worn out clothes for rags). Al.foil – save what comes my way from people giving me stuff that is wrapped in it or commercial packaging + don't do stuff that requires it such as wrapping potatoes for baking (years growing up we never used foil to wrap potatoes, we 'oiled' them with bacon grease, veg. oil should work, or just accept dry skin of baked potato!) Film wrap – similar – lots of film plastic shows up as waste and can be used or pretend I'm living pre-plastic film wrap and imagine what I would do. (Sometimes I imagine being hunter/gatherer like this summer sun drying apricots – "modern" advice says blanch ahead, etc … since hunter/gatherers wouldn't likely do anything so bothersome I tried them 'raw' and worked great! (Old 'sheer' curtain fabric to keep flies off) Lots of ways to use all kinds of stuff in 'miscellaneous' ways – can be a 'game' to invent more! 🙂


  • WindorSolarPlease

    Next they'll say.."Wrap yourself in paper towels". Yep, that should do the trick to decontaminate.


    • Maggie123

      Which should lead to making hazmat suits available to everyone??

    • m a x l i

      While you mention it, wrapping yourself in paper towels protects you from external alpha radiation. And provided you wrapped your head properly, you don't need to see or hear what is going on anymore, which should take away all your worries. Paper towels are the way to go!

  • m a x l i


    My wife will never believe this. Some years ago we used to make fun of people who had an obsession to use paper towels at every opportunity. We used to say that any catastrophe like a big oil spill (like in the gulf), a massive car accident, an erupting volcano… can never be a problem if you have enough paper towels at hand.

    Now it's become reality, and I'm done laughing.

    • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

      Don't be too hard on yourself m a x l i.
      No matter how silly the idea may be, if you can think of it, someone somewhere has done it.

      If all fails, they still got that last staw 'smile, radiation won't touch you.' 😉

  • dodge

    The cycles of nature are sadly broken by the introduction of Nuclear Waste. Nature is often messy, be it compost, maggots, manure, the seasons of the year in nature — still these elements live in harmony with one another, and man limits his reach to controlling that environment close to ham. So we rake leaves, then add fertilizer to our lawns, clean up food spills to keep away insects etc. Tragically the long lived radioactive elements just recycle from one system to the next. The leaves to the soil, the soil to the tree, the tree to the air, the air to their homes, and children. The whole idea of decontamination seems futile — but what is the alternative. They don't know what to do with the waste they collect – short term storage is a problem, long term boggles their imagination. Sounds like the industry — short term spent fuel pools, used far longer than design, long term storage not even under discussion. It's time for real change — prevention is much more effective than remediation/decontamination.

  • blackbuddha blackbudda

    paper towels? garden hosses? duck tapes? plastic pipes? Future technology 'made in Japan'…

  • weeman

    Scott paper towel has just released a new brand of paper towels impregnated with nano technology that will be released in Japan for Xmas, they promise to magically pick up all radiation and make radiation inert.
    Now that would be a Xmas present, unfortunately like Santa clus it is a myth, but it would be nice.

  • VyseLegendaire VyseLegendaire

    Atlus was kamikaze'd.

  • davidh7426 davidh7426

    Remind me… Just when is the Japanese equivalent of 'April Fools' again ?

    My reason for asking is that I'm beginning to think that I'm 'stuck' in a remake of "WHOOPS APOCALYPSE".

  • weeman

    Let for a minute believe that paper towels are a good solution, you would think that the conglomerate that produces paper towels would be all over this and put their r and d deparment to work, to confirm if this is a myth or is their a way we can help by producing a product that is effective, that's good business and helpful, we all have to come together to solve this dilemma and stop pointing fingers, we can not return, well not for 5 billion years or so, so don't worry.

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    UN Proposal To Establish Ecocide; Prevent Damage To Environment; via A Green Road