Dams surrounding the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have become de facto storage facilities for high concentrations of radioactive cesium as the element continues to accumulate.
With no effective countermeasures in sight, the government insists that water from the dams is safe, but to local residents, the government’s stance comes across as the shelving of a crucial problem.
“It’s best to leave it as it is,” an official from the Ministry of the Environment says, with the knowledge that in 10 dams in Fukushima Prefecture, there is soil containing concentrations of cesium over the limit set for designated waste — or over 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.
According to monitoring procedures carried out by the ministry, the levels of radioactive cesium detected in the dams’ waters, at 1 to 2 becquerels per liter, are well below the maximum amount permitted in drinking water, which is 10 becquerels per liter. The air radiation doses in the dams’ surrounding areas are at a maximum 2 microsieverts per hour, which the ministry says “does not immediately affect humans, if they avoid going near the dams.” This information is the main basis behind the central government’s wait-and-see stance. For the time being, the cesium appears to have attached itself to soil and is collected at the bottom of the dams, with the water above it blocking radiation from reaching and affecting the surrounding areas.
Continue reading at Anxiety soars as cesium builds up in Fukushima dams