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Forgotten radioactive materials cropping up in wake of Fukushima nuclear crisis via The Mainichi Daily News

Residents wary about radiation in the wake of the ongoing the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant have been uncovering abandoned radioactive substances, with repeated discoveries of radium-266 in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward.

Radioactive materials were used widely in the past, including in medical products and luminous paints. After World War II, a law requiring people to obtain the government’s permission when using such materials was put into effect, but the law was not always strictly abided by. Now, with many residents armed with dosimeters in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, it is possible that more radioactive materials may be uncovered.

“There are a lot of old substances, such as those that university professors purchased overseas and left behind when they retired without others realizing,” said Takao Nakaya, head of the Radiation Regulation Office of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The government now requires reports to be filed every year to prevent other cases of materials being left undetected.

Since gamma rays are easily released from radium, residents with dosimeters could find more abandoned radium. But Nakamura says people shouldn’t overreact.

“If such substances are found, people shouldn’t overreact. That could lead to the people who discover radioactive substances finding it more difficult to speak out about their discoveries,” he said.

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