I was listening to “Broken Chords Can Sing a Little” as I read this little article on radiation clean up in Fukushima. What interests me is the strategy of shoveling earth away and dumping it to remove the threat of radioactive caesium from the environment. I am going to make a little jump here from terrestrial to ocean life just to explain why I find this an odd manner to deal with pollutants. A few months ago, I read a paper on transition metal release in ocean dredging sites. Basically, the idea was that these metals were bound in a relatively innocuous substrate. As the metals were disturbed however, they were released into the ocean and took on biologically active molecular conformations receiving another go at wrecking havoc on the environment.
Cleaning up contaminated sites is important to the health of the occupants of the land in in the long and short run. I acknowledge, benthic and terrestrial environments are naturally quite different, but the only place pinned down as a concern here is the sanding of asphalt, not the shoveling of soil. I want to know if shoveling away the soil and isolating it is really the best way to clean up the environment. What are the next steps in the remediation process? It sounds like the plan is to bury the Caesium contaminated soil out of site to degrade over it’s half life with the trust that time will cure all wounds. What other solutions are out there?