Saturday, April 2, 2011
The difference between a nuclear plant IN YOUR STATE and a coal plant IN YOU STATE: The speed at which they kill and how long they keep killing
Up to 1,000 bodies left untouched near troubled nuke plant
TOKYO, March 31, Kyodo
Radiation fears have prevented authorities from collecting as many as 1,000 bodies of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami from within the 20-kilometer-radius evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, police sources said Thursday.
One of the sources said bodies had been ''exposed to high levels of radiation after death.'' The view was supported by the detection Sunday of elevated levels of radiation on a body found in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 5 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
The authorities are now considering how to collect the bodies, given fears that police officers, doctors and bereaved families may be exposed to radiation in retrieving the radiation-exposed bodies or at morgues, according to the sources.
They initially planned to inspect the bodies after transporting them outside the evacuation zone, but the plan is being reconsidered due to the concerns over exposure.
Local residents have been forced to leave the zone since the current nuclear crisis began unfolding at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant, which is leaking radioactive materials as its cooling systems for its reactors and nuclear spent-fuel pools have been knocked out by the disaster.
Even after the bodies are handed over to the victims' families, cremating them could spread plumes containing radioactive materials, while burying the victims could contaminate the soil around them, according to the sources.
The authorities are considering decontaminating and inspecting the bodies where they are found. But the sources said that cleansing decomposing bodies could damage them further.
Victims can be identified through DNA analysis of nail samples, but even then considerable time and effort must be taken to decontaminate the samples, according to experts.
Elevated levels of radiation detected on the victim in the town of Okuma last Sunday forced local police to give up on retrieving the body.
''Measures that can be taken vary depending on the level of radiation, so there need to be professionals who can control radiation,'' said an expert on treating people exposed to radiation. ''One option is to take decontamination vehicles there and decontaminate the bodies one by one.''