FUKUSHIMA — Massive levels of radioactive cesium have been detected from gravel at a quarry near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, after high radiation was detected at buildings using gravel from the same quarry, prefectural officials said.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government examined samples of the gravel from the quarry in the town of Namie after inspecting the site on Jan. 20.
Tests detected up to 214,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of gravel, far above the levels at other quarries operating in the evacuation zones around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. About 60,000-210,000 becquerels of cesium was found in most of the gravel that had been kept outdoors at the quarry since the disaster.
High radiation levels have been detected at apartment blocks and other construction projects built with gravel from the Namie quarry, and the findings lend further backing to the theory that this gravel was seriously contaminated with large amounts of cesium.
Among 25 quarries in the evacuation zones, up to 122,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium was found at one that has been closed since the nuclear crisis broke out on March 11, 2011. A high of 5,170 becquerels was found at one of 14 operational quarries within the evacuation zones.
The national and prefectural governments have done spot inspections of about 150 of some 1,100 construction sites where gravel from the Namie quarry is believed to have been used.
Higher levels of radiation than surrounding areas were detected at 27 locations in five towns and cities, including Nihonmatsu and the city of Fukushima. Of these, 22 were residences. The central and prefectural authorities are expected to finish their inspections by the end of March.
In a related development, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry held an expert panel meeting to consider standards for shipping gravel from quarries in the prefecture.
Noting that extraordinarily high levels of radiation were detected from only the Namie quarry, the experts said they recommended that the ministry only set standards for areas in Fukushima Prefecture where radiation levels remain high.
The ministry will work out the standards in March.
The Mainichi Daily News today.