A thorough campus sweep for more traces of the dangerous chemical is underway.

Nuclear radiation does strange things to living things, irreversibly mutating them in a way that will affect future generations. Many people believe that such harmful radioactive materials are confined in nuclear reactors, isolated from ordinary people’s reach.

So imagine Niigata University student @touketu_eternal’s surprise when he received a notice from the resident assistant, declaring an ongoing investigation into possible traces of radioactive substances.

▼ Time to get out of there.
(Translation below)

The warning reads:

“Dear dormitory residents,

I am the community assistant Kobayashi, and thank you for the continuous support.

As radioactive material has been found in the university, management has decided to inspect all buildings on campus. This message is to inform you that student accommodations will be inspected at once. Please be aware that resident advisors will be entering every room of each building. Thank you for your cooperation.”

It was not long before Niigata University’s official website shed light on what had transpired. On 19 April, 370 grams (13 ounces) of unregistered uranyl nitrate was discovered in a stack of other chemicals to be disposed of at the Faculty of Engineering.

While that does not sound dangerous at first glance, uranyl nitrate is actually a tightly regulated radioactive chemical, used in qualitative analyses and to detect viruses in scientific experiments. It can, however, be used as a precursor for a more deadly and purified form: enriched uranium.

Since there were no records of who used it for what purpose, the university approached Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on April 23, which then instructed the institution to carry out a thorough sweep of the facility.

▼ Another small batch of uranyl nitrate (11.7 grams)
was discovered and isolated the next day.

Japanese netizens were puzzled how something like this could happen in a university:

“This is too scary.”
“Someone wanted to bring it home.”
“Are they creating Godzilla?”
“They should suspend school for a month.”
“How can this be? You mean someone just grabbed it and walked into Niigata University?”

The good news is that the chemical in question is weakly radioactive, so much so that it is generally carried unshielded as its radioactive waves are stopped by the container walls in which the substance is transported. Nevertheless, that does not mean that it is perfectly safe for people to sit on grass dusted with fine uranyl nitrate, which could very well happen here. Not to mention that uranyl nitrate can react violently when exposed to heat.

And as the Fukushima incident has proven, even low-dose nuclear radiation can have adverse effects on wildlife, so let us hope Niigata University sweeps its entire campus with an extremely fine-tooth comb.

Source: Twitter/@touketu_eternal, Niigata University, PubChem via My Game News Flash
Top image: GAHAG
Insert image: Pakutaso

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