Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What to do with all those Cesium-fortified tea leaves

Adding insult to  injury, farmers in Kanagawa prefecture are not only stuck with acres of unsellable, hazardous tea leafage, but have been tasked to round it all up for transportation and disposal.  NHK mentions that "The prefectural government has asked farmers to place the harvested leaves as far as possible from the trees until it decides with the central government how to dispose of them". 

At 550 Bq/kg, you can bet some hefty exposures are emanating from the same amount of leaves you could rake up from a big back yard.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the new crop of tea leaves come out.  I'm sure these farmers - whose livelihoods depend on selling the leaf - are hoping that levels of Cesium will be below the danger threshold when the next crop turns up.  Water measurements per prefecture posted at didn't predict this problem, so soil sample measurements would probably not help much either.  Farmers will just have to wait and see.

I think the reason the local government has asked them to set all the leaf away from everything and wait for further instruction is because they have absolutely no experience with this kind of problem, and are clueless about how to handle it.  Cs-137, with a half-life of 30 years, makes this stuff a health hazard for a very long time.  Where should they dump it?  Or bury it?

The last thing they want to do is burn or incinerate it.  The isotope won't get destroyed, and everything goes airborne, just to travel to different locations and contaminate everything else there.


  1. Maybe they could use them to predict the future. They should be super accurate with all the extra energy they carry. I think the farmers should start a food distribution network for all the fans of the radiation hormesis I'm sure they'd do a brisk business for the first few years. Where are all the Ann Coulter's of the world when a radiation farmer needs one?

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