Radioactive Gravel from Japanese Nuke Disaster Used in Buildings

A glaring gap in oversight by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (MITI) has left Japanese citizens with a new worry about the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Stockpiled gravel located in the nearby community of Namie, as reported by the Mainichi Daily News, has been shipped to over 200 construction firms throughout Japan. The gravel is contaminated with radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

MITI, was reportedly told that the facility was shut down when they checked last May. No follow up seems to have been conducted. About 5,200 metric tons of radioactive gravel has been shipped from the facility. AFP reports that a newly constructed apartment building in Nihonmatsu is radioactive. Built in July, the 12 families in the building have been exposed to radiation levels half of level that establishes the mandatory evacuation zone around Fukushima.

A Japanese government committee investigating the Fukushima disaster released a report just after Christmas that was sharply critical of the power plant’s owner, TEPCO, and the various governmental agencies involved with the site. Poor pre-planning, poor communication during the crisis and an inability to manage a complex disaster are among the criticisms the committee announced. The issues discovered involved everyone from the technicians at the Fukushima plant itself all the way to the top management of TEPCO and the Japanese Cabinet.

The Wall Street Journal is quoting Japanese sources about continued nuclear power plant shutdowns in that nation. Only five of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are currently in operation. By the end of January, that number will be three. The loss of electrical generation capacity has resulted in increased use of oil and coal by electrical plants that produce using fossil fuels. Combined with the complex nature of the Japanese electrical grid, power shortages continue to exist in various parts of the nation.

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