U.S. Military: Baby wipes, tape were main weapons for battling Fukushima contamination — Soldiers didn’t wear protective gear because “we don’t want to alarm public”
January 23rd, 2014
Initial Impressions Report: Operation Tomodachi (pdf), Center for Army Lessons Learned:
One platoon used duct tape and paper towels to decontaminate vehicles and aircraft. Another platoon used hot water and paper towels to decontaminate vehicles and aircraft [...]
The TTP [tactics, techniques, and procedures] for decontamination, as well as the level of personal protective equipment (PPE), was based upon an effort not to alarm the civilian population. Another example of an attempt to not alarm local civilians occurred on the airfield where Soldiers were monitoring aircraft for radiation exposure. On one occasion, a pilot asked, “If we’re supposedly contaminated with radiation, why are you guys out here with just a pair of latex gloves?” One of the Airmen working with the Soldiers replied, “You guys have civilians on the aircraft with you also, and we don’t want to alarm the civilians.”
Insights and Lessons Learned:
Decontamination of aircraft and personnel without alarming the general population created new challenges during Operation Tomodachi.
A true decontamination operations standard for “clearance” was not set. This could have resulted in the potential spread of radiological contamination to military personnel and the local populace.
The use of duct tape and baby wipes was effective in the removal of radioactive particles. [...]
When a unit does not know exactly what its mission is before deployment, the unit should bring all of its equipment and be ready to conduct any mission within its capabilities.
To execute “dry decon,” the 71st Chemical Company used baby wipes and duct tape to wipe areas by applying moderate pressure. The used wipes and duct tape were then placed into 55-gallons drums. Once filled, the drums were sealed and processed for storage to be disposed of later.