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Fukushima: Rainfall brings Re-contamination via The Canadian

(Mainichi.JP) — As the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Plant drags on, worries are growing particularly among Fukushima Prefecture residents over drawn-out and in some cases apparently futile nuclear decontamination operations.

The unease is especially strong in areas in and around mountains that must be repeatedly decontaminated, as every rainfall brings a new batch of radioactive substance-contaminated leaves and soil washing down from the hills. Since some 70 percent of Fukushima Prefecture is mountainous, such instances of regular recontamination could occur over a broad area, while the same effect has also been observed in some undeveloped areas of cities.

The central government is considering paying for any decontamination operations conducted by local governments at sites with radiation emissions of 1 millisievert per year or more, but residents in places faced with regular recontamination after every major rainfall are concerned the national government may not keep the cleanup funding flowing.

The city of Fukushima decontaminated its Onami and Watari district in July and August after a surge in local radiation levels. In the week following the end of the operation, the city took fresh radiation readings at 885 points, of which seven actually registered levels exceeding those found before the decontamination. One gutter measured even showed a rise from 3.67 microsieverts per hour before the cleanup to 4.63 after the work.

“Radiation increased close to the mountains and in spots where water and soil washed down the slopes,” the Fukushima Municipal Government stated.

One 52-year-old resident of the city’s Onami district, whose home backs onto woodland slopes, told the Mainichi that soil washes into her backyard with every rainfall. Radiation emissions at her front door are 1 microsievert per hour or less, but in the backyard they’re more than 2 microsieverts per hour.

“Everywhere around here is in the same situation,” she says.

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