In Japan, a grisly consequence of radiation | Jay Bookman

Boy, hadn’t thought about this aspect of the tragedy in Japan … from the Japan Times:

Radiation is preventing the retrieval of hundreds of bodies from inside the 20-km evacuation zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, police sources said Thursday.

Based on initial reports after the March 11 catastrophe, the number of bodies is estimated at between a few hundred and 1,000, one of the sources said, adding that high radiation is now hampering full-scale searches.

That view was supported by the Sunday find of high radiation levels on a body found in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, 5 km from the plant.

The rescuers are now in a bind. Even if they retrieve the bodies, anyone who comes into contact with them risks being irradiated, too, whether they’re in the evacuation zone or not.

And if the bodies are cremated, the smoke could spread radioactive materials as well, the sources said. Even burial poses a problem. When the bodies decompose, they might contaminate the soil with radioactive materials.

Other news looks equally grim:

(The International Atomic Energy Agency) said Wednesday in Geneva it detected about 2 million becquerels of radioactive substances per sq. meter, or double the threshold at which the IAEA itself would order an evacuation, in soil samples from the village of Iitate about 40 km northwest of the nuclear power plant.

With the data, the IAEA effectively urged Japan to expand the current no-go zone of 20 km around the plant. Residents in areas 20 km to 30 km of the plant have been advised to stay indoors.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano only said the government may consider expanding the mandatory evacuation zone if the higher levels of radiation continue…..

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Thursday the level of radioactive iodine-131 in seawater near the plant was 4,385 times the maximum tolerable amount, the highest reading since the crisis began March 11.

Other highly radioactive materials were also detected, including cesium-134 at 783.7 times the maximum amount permitted, and cesium-137 at 527.4 times the legal limit.

The half-life of cesium-137, or the time its radioactivity dissipates by half, is 30 years compared with eight days for iodine-131 and two years for cesium-134.”

And as Fox reports:

Workers at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan say they expect to die from radiation sickness as a result of their efforts to bring the reactors under control, the mother of one of the men tells Fox News….

Speaking tearfully through an interpreter by phone, the mother of a 32-year-old worker said: “My son and his colleagues have discussed it at length and they have committed themselves to die if necessary to save the nation.

“He told me they have accepted they will all probably die from radiation sickness in the short term or cancer in the long-term.”

The woman spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity because, she said, plant workers had been asked by management not to communicate with the media or share details with family members in order to minimize public panic.

She could not confirm if her son or other workers were already suffering from radiation sickness. But she added: “They have concluded between themselves that it is inevitable some of them may die within weeks or months. They know it is impossible for them not to have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation.”

– Jay Bookman

In Japan, a grisly consequence of radiation | Jay Bookman.

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