This photo of the radium bottle found at a Setagaya grocery store was released today. Officials claim that the area went from 40 mSv to 25 mSv after the soil and bottle was removed. Officials so far have not found any specifically identifying markings on the bottle.
The public is of course very skeptical about the convenient excuse of all hot spots being old bottles of radium as was seen in an earlier hot spot in Setagaya. A much more transparent process along with more media and citizen oversight is needed if public confidence is desired.
A recent incident in Tokyo where officials claimed radioactive debris in a container from Iwate was emitting no radiation illustrates why the public is distrustful of what officials are telling the public. A citizen found more than 35 mSv coming from the container officials said was emitting zero. Tokyo metro government officials also prohibited the media from checking the container themselves during the event. They also inexplicably put some of the radioactive waste into a lead box to “prove” to the public the waste processing is safe. This waste will not be buried in lead boxes, it will be put into the landfill in Tokyo bay.
People clearly have reason to be skeptical.
The Japan Radioisotope Association explains that there wasn’t a law on disposal of radioactive substances such as radium for many years. Even when one was instituted in 1958 it wasn’t deeply enforced. Left overs from science labs, old consumer radium devices and paints and medical waste from before the law are frequently discarded as normal trash and ended up wherever trash went. In the US finding old bottles buried in a residential yard is common place. Pre WWII glass bottles were frequently buried rather than being put with trash to be burnt at a time before trash service was the norm.
The true story in Setagaya remains to be seen, the distrust and lack of transparency may end up being as much of a problem as the hot spots.
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