Sunday, December 4, 2011

DIY Decontaminate Your Fukushima House

Seriously, if your home in the US is ever covered fallout from an American nuclear plant meltdown, keep these instructions handy!

Practical guide or don't panic propoganda? You decide.


Scrub homes, denude trees to wash cesium fears away

Staff writer
Worried about radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant? Don't wait for the government to help.
News photo
Experts advise people who live in and near Fukushima Prefecture where they face cumulative annual radiation exposure exceeding 1 millisievert [Ummm, that's everywhere on the map to the right, including the bright white area] ] — the legal limit for the general public — to quickly take the initiative in removing irradiated soil and other material where fallout might accumulate in their vicinity, instead of waiting for the government to carry out decontamination work.
But you don't have to worry about  this inTokyo: 
...In Tokyo, only the Okutama forest area has had similar fallout.
In many cases, significant decontamination can be achieved by a few simple procedures. Following are tips for do-it-yourself home decontamination:
What's the first basic step?
The Japanese Society of Radiation Safety Management's decontamination manual advises people to clean off surface areas where radioactive cesium may have landed.
Large amounts of the isotope attach to soil, roofs, walls, leaves and surfaces of other foliage.
If people have a general awareness of where cesium is likely to accumulate and take proper safety measures, they can reduce the radiation levels where they live, experts say.... 

[see article for all the helpful tips].
What should be done after completing the work?
Gargle, shower or bathe to rinse off all dirt, the prefectural guideline recommends.
Disposable garments should be placed in garbage bags and clothing not to be discarded should be washed like usual laundry, it says.
Where will tainted water used in decontamination work eventually end up?
Much of it will probably be routed through sewage treatment plants, [which can't handle the contaminated sludge either, but at least it's not your problem anymore, see next paragraph ] and some will flow to the ocean, Higaki said.
Cesium in the tainted water may accumulate as highly polluted sludge, as is often found at sewage plants. Many plants are temporarily storing such sludge because they have yet to find a safe place for final disposal.
By following all the recommended steps, will radiation levels decline to the pre-March 11 state?
No. Experts note just cleaning up one's own property will only achieve limited results.
[It will not decline to pre-disaster levels in anybody's lifetime, but if you want to move back, you'll have to do a well as you can]
Higaki said when residents of Koriyama decontaminated their homes, radiation levels declined by about 60 percent, from 3 microsieverts per hour to 0.5 microsievert per hour [That's actually pretty darned good]. To lower the level further, decontamination of surrounding areas is needed.
"Gamma rays from cesium have a reach of about 80 meters.[Well at least distance helps] So to ensure a greater decontamination, cleanup efforts must extend to wider areas," Higaki of the University of Tokyo said.
Do Tokyoites also need to decontaminate their property?
[Actually some schools have spots hot enough that the answer is already yes]]
This has so far not been advised, as atmospheric radiation levels in most of the metropolis are now at normal levels, Higaki said.
Having said that, he advised the removal of surface soil and moss, dirt and leaves if a small hot spot is found, such as the case at an elementary school in Adachi Ward where the radiation reading near the end of a gymnasium downspout hit 3.99 microsieverts per hour in October.
Radioactive fallout from the Fukushima plant tends to accumulate at the same locations even after decontamination work. So Higaki advises that potential hot spots be monitored once every few months. If the radiation rises again, decontaminate again. Such ad hoc steps can help reduce the radiation in areas of low contamination, he said.

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