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Hot concern Japan risks another crisis over decontamination via the Economist

Aug 13th 2011 | TOKYO | from the print edition

SINCE April, Kiki Tanaka and hundreds of other ordinary citizens have been uploading radiation measurements to Safecast.org, a non-profit group. On a fine summer day she drives to Nihonmatsu, 56km (35 miles) from the ruined nuclear plant at Fukushima, and notes her Geiger counter ticking higher: another step in the DIY defence against radioactivity.

This grass-roots monitoring reflects a loss of trust in the authorities. Until June the government in Tokyo took radiation measurements at just one site, as if that were enough to survey the city’s 2,200 square kilometres and 13m people. In fact levels are known to vary widely within even small areas, depending on weather patterns and building materials.

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