Wednesday, March 14, 2012

High cesium levels detected in mud at Fukushima dam lake

Mud at the bottom of a dam lake near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is heavily contaminated with radioactive cesium, government research has shown.

Tsukuba University professor Yuichi Onda, commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to conduct the survey, released the findings at a symposium on March 13.

Onda's team detected radioactive cesium of some 3 million becquerels per square meter at the bottom of the Horai Dam lake, about 60 kilometers west-northwest of the nuclear plant, along the Abukuma River in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. The level was 10 times higher than those of nearby reservoirs, and was roughly equivalent to soil contamination levels in the 20-kilometer radius exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant.

From July to August last year, Onda took samples from the 20-centimeter-deep mud on the bottom of the dam lake, dried them and compared them with mud samples from four nearby reservoirs registering contamination in the 200,000 to 400,000 becquerels per square meter range. Cesium from the crippled power station is believed to have condensed in the mud on the bottom of the Horai Dam after flowing into the river with soil and rainwater. Read More

Allyson McConnell drowned her two young sons in a bathtub and left them in the water to "rot"

Australian mother Allyson McConnell drowned her two young sons in a bathtub and left them in the water to "rot", the boys' father has told a Canadian court.

Curtis McConnell wept on Tuesday as he recalled frantically searching the family's home in Millet, Alberta, in February 2010 after receiving a call from police that his wife had jumped off a freeway overpass in an apparent suicide bid.

Mr McConnell said he rushed to the home and searched the bedrooms for his sons, 10-month-old Jayden and two-year-old Connor, but could not find them.

He then discovered a locked bathroom, used a knife to unlock it and found the lifeless bodies in the bathtub.

"I just dropped to my knees and I reached into the water and the water was so cold ...," Mr McConnell testified, according to the Edmonton Journal. Read More

Old TV tubes converted into radiation-shielding material, Japan

Tubes from old television sets can be recycled into radiation-proof materials suitable for use at temporary storage sites for contaminated soil and waste, two Japanese companies have found.

Shimizu Corp., a general contractor in Tokyo, and R Japan Corp., a manufacturer of eco-friendly products in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, developed concrete and waterproof materials, respectively, using television tubes ground into a form that can help shield against radiation.

The method takes advantage of the fact that cathode-ray tube (CRT) glass in television sets contains lead, which can shield against radiation. It is expected to be utilized at temporary storage sites for radioactive soil and waste.

While a 50-centimeter-thick chunk of concrete can lower the doses of penetrating radiation to a hundredth of the original amount, Shimizu Corp. found that the doses can be even lowered to one two-hundredth by replacing most of the crushed stone used in the concrete with ground television tubes. The strength of the two types of concrete was almost the same. Read More
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