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COMMENT: A chronicle of nuclear decay: Over half a year later, what have we learnt from Fukushima? via Bellona

MOSCOW – Eight months since the fateful March of 2011, one of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophes that enflamed Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has ceased to be the stuff of front-page frenzy. We will likely still see radioactive goods and food products popping up on the store shelves around the world, reminding us of the terrors of nuclear energy, but for many, the panic caused by the threat of contamination spreading silently in a far-off country has become yesterday’s news. But does it mean that the problems of Fukushima – and, indeed, of the global nuclear power industry – are soon to be over? Not by a long shot. Vladimir Slivyak, 22/11-2011 – Translated by Maria KaminskayaClearly, even a cursory look at the latest developments will tell us it will be a very long time before the tragedy in Japan is safely forgotten.

In mid-November, a series of large-scale rallies took place in Fukuoka Prefecture, in the south of Japan, which is now home to some of the evacuees from Fukushima. Some 15,000 people took to the streets, demanding the closure of all Japanese nuclear power plants.

And the week before that, representatives of international media outlets were invited on a tour of the stricken plant: The Japanese authorities were, apparently, hoping to demonstrate that – having come, at the height of the disaster, under a barrage of criticism for being less than one hundred percent open about the developing crisis – they could now be counted on for complete transparency in how they related with the rest of the world.

The level of radiation that the Japanese and foreign journalists were able to register while on the visit to the site was 1,000 microsieverts near the plant – a reading that exceeds normal values by 5,000 times. A story (in Russian) carried by the Russian publication Komsomolskaya Pravda, citing the news agency ITAR-TASS, said this level was what Geiger counters showed as the reporters were approaching the station from a nearby forest. Closer to the entrance to the site, the measurements came down to 300 microsieverts – still, though, much higher than the norm, which is 0.2 microsieverts, the story said.

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