480,000 Discarded Radiation Suits Pile Up At Fukushima

The effects of a nuclear accident go beyond the dangers posed by the radiation itself – and nuclear waste takes many different forms, some of them connected to cleanup after the incident.
Australia’s ABC reports TEPCO, the company that operates the Fukushima nuclear power plant, has released a photo of 480,000 used body suits piled up due to the lack of government policy on disposal procedures (I wasn’t able to locate the image). The body suits are designed to protect workers engaged in the cleanup against the worst of the radiation. 
Even if they were able to dispose of these things, the volume of waste itself is incredible; taking up an estimated 4,000 cubic metres of space.
What these suits are exactly made of I’m not sure, but details I’ve found around the web seem to indicate they are are constructed of PVC, which isn’t a particularly environmentally friendly material in itself and added to this is the problem of the radioactive contamination of the protective clothing.
I’m certainly not suggesting the workers venture forth into the disaster zone using anything but the best protection, but the story is just another reminder that the knock-on effects of nuclear accidents to humans and the environment generally are far-reaching and ongoing, long after accident is no longer headline news.
Body suits aren’t the only radioactive waste that is accumulating. 400 tones of radioactive ash has piled up at an incineration plant that will run out of protected storage space in two weeks. The ash problem isn’t confined to a single plant either. Ash containing more than the accepted limit of radioactive caesium had been found in 42 waste disposal facilities; including in Tokyo says The Japan Times.
The effects of Fukushima, like Chernobyl before it, have also been felt far beyond Japan’s shores.
At the center of the disaster, the Fukushima exclusion zone has a radius of 20 kilometers (about 13 miles) – it will likely remain uninhabited for decades.
According to the USA’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of an operating nuclear power plant. An article on MSNBC states one in three Americans live within a 50 mile radius of a nuclear powered electricity generation facility. MSNBC says 50 miles is the distance that officials in the U.S. recommended to be an evacuation zone for Americans caught up in the initial stages of the Fukushima crisis.
Nuclear power and the environment
Thorium vs. uranium