Locals have been finding a crushed black substance scattered mostly on roads in Minamisoma. It has very high radiation levels. The radiation level in one of these spots was 295 uSv/h. This translates to 2.8 Sv/year of exposure. This is high enough to cause acute radiation sickness symptoms after 6 months of consistent exposure.
Exactly what this high radiation “stuff” being found on the roads is the big question. How it got there and what it is plays a big part in eradicating the risk. These images show the black substance on the road and a comparison photo of black volcanic rock. The two substances show a great resemblance. The user that posted the image of the black stuff has taken it down as of 3.22.2012
The lava rock material itself referred to as “tuff” is slightly radioactive. The same material is used as a carrier for chemicals like insecticide and as a filtration material. So it has a very high ability to absorb things. It is also frequently used as a road traction substance. If the local government has been using “tuff” as a road traction substance on the roads since it is winter in the area right now it could potentially be the source. That would mean that somewhere is a storage pile of this crushed lava rock that absorbed huge amounts of fallout. We already know outdoor piles of rock are at risk after gravel from Namie showed up highly radioactive. If this is lava rock being spread on the roads, not something else it does pose a significant risk to anyone handling it. Since this black substance has over 1 million bq/kg it has the potential to expose people to considerable amounts of radiation.
Finding out if “tuff” is being used at all in the region would be a very good idea right now.
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