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At we have reported extensively on the highly radioactive black stuffbeing found around eastern Japan, as far away as Tokyo. Citizens initially found the substance, usually concentrated in gutters and low spots. Some superficial analysis had been done on the substance, again by citizens. The government has refused to acknowledge the issue or do any publicly acknowledged testing of the substance.

Marco Kalofan, an environmental engineer in the US was able to obtain a sample for detailed analysis. What was found was quite unusual. The substance isn™t a sand but an aggregate of radioactive substances, metals and rare earth materials. The materials for some reason clumped together into an aggregate rather than dispersing as tiny particles.

What the detailed analysis showed was that the material may have come from inside failed fuel assemblies from the damaged reactors. The high level of uranium daughter an indicator of amounts of unburned uranium fuel. The sample also has a mix of other substances like cesium 134 & 137 and cobalt 60 that are reactor emissions as they do not exist in nature. The specific combination of substances found and the aggregate nature of the pieces confirm it is not organic in nature. The sample also contains a number of things expected to be found in used nuclear fuel.

Nuclear reactors tend to produce both heavy (atomic weight 125 to 155) and light (atomic weight  80 to 110) byproducts. These include light radioactive isotopes of the elements yttrium and silver, plus the heavier isotopes tin, antimony, cesium, cerium, neodymium, and lanthanum. All of these were detected in this dust sample by SEM/EDS, in the form of tiny particles on the order of 10 microns in size.

These particles as they are currently, do not pose an inhalation hazard. If they were to un-clump they could then pose an inhalation hazard as some of the individual particles are small enough to be inhaled. In the current clumped size they pose more of an ingestion hazard if someone were to get them in their mouths.

This one sample from Namie, about 20km from the damaged reactors may not be completely representative of the radioactive black substances being found in other locations in eastern Japan. It does show the need to fully test more samples to determine if they are the same or differ from the one found in Namie.

In recent weeks pieces of highly radioactive debris were found in Nahara in an area the government reopened to residents to move back. The pieces included a piece of a branch and a small piece of what looks like flat metal. NaharaDebris_handouts_130708_07-j The items are suspected to have been from the explosions at Fukushima Daiichi, TEPCO would not confirm or deny this.

These findings raise many questions about how widespread in Japan these potential fuel particles may be and how much radioactive reactor debris may still be distributed around the evacuation zone.

The entire paper by Marco Kaltofan on the Namie sample can be found here

This article originally appeared at and is reproduced with permission. is a worldwide crowdsourced investigative group documenting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and other nuclear issues.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ruh roh! n/t (9+ / 0-)

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:04:34 AM PDT

  •  That's not good. (7+ / 0-)

    137Cs with a half-life of 30.1671 years and 134Cs with a half-life of 2.0652 years.
    ...isotope of cobalt with a half-life of 5.27
    And of course the uranium...
    Nukes are bad juju.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:15:44 AM PDT

  •  Crowdsource in this context very likely equals (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blukat, Nattiq, erush1345

    scientific mob rule by another version of 9-11 truthers.

    For instance, how far from the relatively weak explosions was the alleged radioactive branch found.?  It seems highly unlikely that any debris from the explosion, especially a very light and perhaps fragile piece of a tree, could have been propelled far enough to land in a zone where people are now being allowed into.

    And were there any such trees at the reactor site?

    The fact that TEPCO would not confirm or deny something may only means that they are tired of dealing with loonies.

    Too little substance, too much wishful thinking and self-promotion.

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:19:13 AM PDT

    •  I'm with ya (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nattiq, S F Hippie, wilderness voice

      All that nuclear stuff probably left over from when we dropped a couple bombs on the place and they just now found it.

      TEPCO! Yeah they're such sticklers for the truth having lied to the Japanese government....repeatedly.

      El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

      by mint julep on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:52:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  While what TEPCO did was utterly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nattiq, erush1345, Blubba

      wrong and they well know it, I agree with you in that this article needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. There was a lot of misleading and false information put out after 3/11 and crowdsourcing is not a responsible way to get scientific information.

    •  "Relatively weak" (0+ / 0-)

      compared to... what?

      •  More energetic explosions. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Or, rather, explosions which could be reasonably assumed to be able to rain debris down upon a town about twelve miles away from the reactor.  For that, you really need a much bigger boom than the hydrogen explosion that occurred at the plants.  A blast big enough to rain chunks down on someplace that far away would likely have completely annihilated the plant itself.

        •  Not talking "chunks" here, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob

          the 'black stuff' is mostly fine particulates that aggregated and then fell out of the air. Sort of like fallout, in fact. Because that's just what it is.

          Any explosion big enough to throw poundage-weight chunks of fuel/fuel rods up to two kilometers is big enough to spread fine particulate matter ("fallout") many times that distance.

          Oh, and last I checked, 4 of the plants at Fukushima Daiichi were pretty much annihilated (but not entirely vaporized). Have they found their corium flows yet?

          •  Parts of the buildings may be gone but (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Blubba, oblomov

            the majority of the insides including where the reactors are are not.

            Otherwise they would not be able to go in and inspect and be able to pump out water being used to cool the fuel.

            When you say plants you may want to clarify that it's was hydrogen explosions inside three of the functioning reactor buildings that happened.

            Also Building Four reactor did not blow up. The water in the spent fuel rod pool was most likely boiling and contributed to blowing holes in the building. The pool and other parts of the facility are still intact.

            I don't know where you are checking but these facts are easy to find.

            I am not for nuclear power in any way. I am also not for misleading statements.

            •  The corium from units 1, 2 and 3 (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob, wilderness voice

              left the buildings a couple of years ago. Groundwater is still coming into contact with them, and is still finding its way to the ocean. Robots have been doing the in-building and torus inspections, you know. Remote-controlled robots and larger equipment have also cleared the way for those inspectors. They've lost at least a couple in there.

              The only reactor building we've seen live work crews operating is unit 4, which is and has long been wide open to the elements as is everything on the floors below because the entire damned wall blew out along with the roof. Stay-times in the other reactor buildings are still too limiting to humans.

              All of the explosions at all 4 units have been attributed to hydrogen, though I suspect more was involved in unit 3's little mishap. Water boiling in an open spent fuel pool doesn't blow the roof and sides off a sturdy reactor building, any more than an uncovered pot of water boiling on your stove blows up your house. The SFPs are under zero pressure, relative to atmospheric. There is no lid. Thus steam is not what caused the area above the SFP in unit 4 to explode, and it is not what caused elements in the pool to burn. Twice, over several days. Water vapor doesn't burn.

              You might be surprised at the number of facts I know about the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. But I am not the Japanese government or TEPCO. I don't get to write the historical blurbs. I do know what to look for and quite a bit about how the lies are crafted in situations such as this, and I have misled no one about this since the beginning.

              You, on the other hand, still have some homework to do.

              •  "You might be surprised at the number of facts (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I know about the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi."

                You're right, I might be.

                Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

                by oblomov on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:05:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Why do you keep saying four units? (0+ / 0-)

                The buildings blew up. Not the reactors.

                I never said boiling water blew the roof off. The build up of steam which comes from boiling water. This reacted with the zirconium cladding of the fuel rods thus creating hydrogen. That built up to cause the explosions because it wasn't vented properly. Thus the boiling water contributed to the hydrogen explosions that happened in the buildings.

                Seriously you can find this info easily. Wiki even has it and it's pretty accurate.

                There has been a lot of work done on all of the sites at Fukushima Dai-ichi. Even TEPCO and companies working with them have released videos. Have you ever looked at any of the documents and status reports on this? Or any of documentation from the reporters who have gone in there? Or any of the accounts from the people who work there?

                I do not have any homework to do. I am well aware of what happened since I was in Tokyo at the time. Considering that it mattered greatly to my health I have researched the events and read much in regard including actual studies. I was following a lot more than most because the news that was broadcast outside of Japan was geared for scare factor and not on what was actually happening at the time. I was following real time radiation readings in Tokyo. But I am not going to waste my time listing all of the data I have reviewed since then.

                Not going to waste my time arguing with someone who's rebuttal is a personal attack. Have fun commenting in the threads to this blog post.

                •  Just cleanup in the dead thread aisle... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wilderness voice

                  Sigh. Buildings blowing up at Daiichi is just spreading the wealth (of grossly radioactive crap). Exploding buildings do not describe the extent or nature of the disaster. For that we have terms like "Total Meltdown" and "Melt-Through" and "Cladding Fire" and such. The reactors at units 1, 2 and 3 are not even close to intact, and haven't been since about 16 hours after the earthquake.

                  You are still confusing the differing scenarios for the plants that suffered meltdown and the one which had no fuel in its reactor vessel, but still managed to blow out. Technical details are difficult, I understand. Why, right up to the very moment unit 1 blew up so spectacularly that it was easily seen from ten miles away, it was one of the nuclear industry's best-kept secrets that melting reactors produce hydrogen gas and/or that zirconium burns. For supporting the long-touted industry assurances that melting reactors cannot explode. We all know better now.

                  "A lot of work" means not very much as far as correcting the serious issues at Daiichi. A couple of tents and a whole new detached defueling structure next to the missing wall of unit 4. Which is something, we all hope they will be able to remove the tonnage in the SFPs and get it transferred to shielded casks. Preferably before the suspended pools collapse.

                  Sorry to hear you were in Tokyo at the time. Must have been pretty scary. The real time readings on fallout from the plume in my corner of the world were scary enough, until the EPA was convinced to take its RadNet system off-line. What we can't see can't hurt us, right? So I dug out my trusty old Geiger-Muller and dusted it off. By the way, suggesting you have some homework to do is not a "personal attack." It's a reference to my coverage of the disaster here and at, which was fairly voluminous and includes analysis of some of the thousands of documents and emails released by the NRC in response to early FOIA requests.

                  Because I have some experience with melted reactors, and it appears that you didn't know that. Adieu.

              •  Ex Vessel Steam Explosion (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                The likely scenario is that unit 3's explosion was both a hydrogen and an ex vessel steam explosion. It explains the massive mushroom cloud not seen with unit 1's explosion.

                Of course more information is needed to know for sure but both JAEA and Sandia have been doing computer modeling on the meltdowns and seem to be in agreement about damage and source etc. of the hydrogen portions of the explosions.

                •  Thanks, SDstuck. (0+ / 0-)

                  That is what I surmised at the time, given the differing dynamics of the two big explosions. A corium mass falling into pooled water follows the scenario of the second explosion at Chernobyl, though with the containment structure shaping the explosion to go straight up.

                  Thanks for this update diary. Y'all [SimplyInfo] do good work!

            •  Sorry but no (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wilderness voice, Joieau

              Unit 4 was a hydrogen explosion. Even TEPCO admits that.

              Unit 4 didn't have "a few holes" all of the outer walls are gone and the framework is heavily failed. The west floor sections of the 5th and 4th floors are structurally failed.

              This includes all of the TEPCO source material where they document the structural failures.
              There is even more newer confirmation on TEPCO's website.

              Unit 3 has considerable structural failure making entry to certain parts of the building impossible on top of the radiation levels. The top floors of the south side of the building are collapsed.

              There is extensive photo evidence of both documented here

              Funny you mention out of the blue that you don't work in nuclear power. Nobody asked. Your information is very superficial and incorrect. Yet you try to be very asserting in your claims. Really, you don't seem to understand any of this very well and have done nothing to back up any of your claims with any sort of citation.

    •  Please look before you leap. (4+ / 0-)

      1. The branch was found and turned in to the government who told TEPCO to test it. It was encased in a clot of dirt and was substantially radioactive as was the tiny bit of metal. Nahara where it was found is about 3 miles from the plant. Unit 3's explosion was large enough to put materials into the jet stream. Google unit 3's explosion for visual proof. It was hardly weak. The video of it exists quite readily online also.

      2. Fukushima Daiichi was surrounded by trees. Images of the plant before the disaster showed trees and landscaping near the reactor buildings. TEPCO has also been removing stands of trees from the plant over the last 2 years.

      3. The scientific findings are from Worcester Polytech's environmental engineering lab. There is a link in the article to their paper on their findings. Are you calling a US university "mob rule"?

      •  Is there actual (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, Blubba

        proof the branch and piece of metal actually came from Dai-ichi?

        You have not provided actual proof. Just because something was tested by TEPCO doesn't mean it came from Dai-ichi. Just because there were trees around the plant doesn't mean there aren't trees elsewhere. There is actually metal in many places in Japan. The items may have been contaminated from fall-out. In fact more likely that happened than what you are trying to claim.

        What proof do you have that materials were actually put in the jet stream? A video is not proof that materials actually entered the jet stream or were blown three miles away. Just because an explosion was big doesn't mean it sent material up into the jet stream.

        This is the problem with your arguments. There is proof that there is black "soil" in places in Japan and that the readouts are higher than normal. They are still testing this soil. So that part may be acceptable. Yet you add on things that there is no actual proof of and expect people to take that as fact.

        You might do better to leave off the unproven items and just stick with actual facts. I think that is what the commenter was trying to point out, that facts are what is needed.

        I will qualify how I know what I know. I was there. In Tokyo. I watched and I read and I still follow information, studies and finding today. I know there were a lot of bogus reports put out and even today there are people who believe the tsunami debris is radioactive even though most of it came from north of the plant and was washed out to sea long before the explosions happened.

        •  These people had some problem in the birth canal, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          just like the 911 truthers.  It is spiritually rewarding to them that powerful entities might be trying to deceive them.

          Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

          by oblomov on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:51:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I won't go personal on them (0+ / 0-)

            but it's sad that some people want to believe everything the worst case scenario sites put out. To the point they rebuke actual facts.

            Perhaps you are right in that it's rewarding to them to believe everyone is bad and out to get them.

        •  It isn't soil (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau, wilderness voice

          Had you bothered to read instead of just trolling the actual analysis of the substance shows it isn't soil.

          Please spare me the "I was in Tokyo" crap. In fact I would bet money I even know who you are since the tactics used are the same used elsewhere.

          Being in Tokyo does not give you any sort of "special" insight into what has technically transpired at Daiichi. You have also done absolutely zero to back up anything you have said.

          The article was about the black substance. You took things off on another tangent about the plant then complained and refused to cite sources for anything you have said.

        •  The plume aloft of gas and particulates (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice

          from Daiichi reached the west coast of the U.S. within a week of the meltdowns/explosions. It was tracked across the U.S. by the EPA, and across Europe/Asia as it progressed. It is still circling the globe, more dilute now of course.

          Among the first documents released in response to FOIA requests were exchanges between the USS Ronald Reagan a few miles east of Fukushima and Op-Center NRC reporting heavy fallout of contamination and warning that it was heading toward Alaska, Hawaii and the mainland U.S. They tracked the plume 150 miles out before being ordered to redeploy to the western side of Honshu. Eight sailors who were seriously contaminated are now suing TEPCO (in case you're interested).

          At any rate, the flotsam making its way to west coast beaches did pick up contamination from fallout, though it's not high level waste levels.

        •  So do share Blukat (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice, Joieau

          WHY should anyone believe you? You said you were "in Tokyo" when the disaster hit but you live in Oregon. You claim you don't work in the nuclear industry yet you insist you have superior special insight into the Daiichi disaster.

          Exactly what is the magical power you possess that we should all believe you without any question or citation to back it up?

  •  I was researching corium the other day.... (7+ / 0-)'s the molten fuel portion of the meltdown.

    It's some really strange stuff. One thing I recall about it is that it sometimes develops a hard "skin" that sloughs off powder that is really fine particles that easily go airborne.

    From wikipedia....

    Corium (and also highly irradiated uranium fuel) has an interesting property: spontaneous dust generation, or spontaneous self-sputtering of the surface. The alpha decay of isotopes inside the glassy structure causes Coulomb explosions, degrading the material and releasing submicron particles from its surface........
    If that's where this stuff in the gutters came from, it bodes not well. It means it's on the loose and going down.

    I believe a sternly worded letter just might be in order here.

    by suspiciousmind on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:44:20 AM PDT

  •  Crowdsourced Science (4+ / 0-)

    The Japanese government, according to my sources, did not do expanded radiation monitoring after Fukushima.  It was the Tokyo Hackerspace which mobilized people around Japan and built low-cost geiger counters, the B-Geigie, to allow citizens to do it themselves.  Real scientists from Waseda and Tokyo Universities, if I remember correctly, helped collect and collate the data.  

    Joi Ito, now head of the MIT Media Lab, was one of the people behind this movement and he told me that they now have the postal service workers on their bikes monitoring radiation throughout the affected area.

    You can entertain your doubts about crowdsourced science but my knowledge of the citizens radiation monitoring network now in Japan and previously in the US convinces me that citizens can do science responsibly and effectively.

    You can also look at the river monitoring work of such groups as the RiverKeepers, Charles River Watershed Association, and many more.  Citizen science is not to be dismissed because everybody who collects the data does not have a PhD.

    •  There is good crowdsourced science (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      like Zooniverse projects. Then there is bad crowdsourced science, like people reporting every misshapen leaf and pink grasshopper around the world and attributing it to Fukushima. I won't claim to know where this falls on the spectrum. Real science gets written up in journals AND gets debated among experts in the field. If these findings get published AND are widely accepted by the scientific community it would count as good crowdsourced science. The crowd does not get a vote on whether it is good or not.

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