Greenpeace investigation shows Fukushima radiation risks to last into next century via Greenpeace

Tokyo, Japan –  A comprehensive survey by Greenpeace Japan in the towns of Iitate and Namie in Fukushima prefecture, including the exclusion zone, revealed radiation levels up to 100 times higher than the international limit for public exposure.[1][2] The high radiation levels in these areas pose a significant risk to returning evacuees until at least the 2050’s and well into next century.

The findings come just two weeks ahead of a critical decision at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) review on Japan’s human rights record and commitments to evacuees from the nuclear disaster.

“In all of the areas we surveyed, including where people are permitted to live, the radiation levels are such that if it was in a nuclear facility it would require strict controls. Yet this is public land. Citizens, including children and pregnant women returning to their contaminated homes, are at risk of receiving radiation doses equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is unacceptable and a clear violation of their human rights, ” said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium and leader of the survey project.

Greenpeace Japan conducted the investigations in September and October last year, measuring tens of thousands of data points around homes, forests, roads and farmland in the open areas of Namie and Iitate, as well as inside the closed Namie exclusion zone. The government plans to open up small areas of the exclusion zone, including Obori and Tsushima, for human habitation in 2023. The survey shows the decontamination program to be ineffective, combined with a region that is 70-80% mountainous forest which cannot be decontaminated.

Key finding from the Greenpeace Japan survey:

  • Even after decontamination, in four of six houses in Iitate, the average radiation levels were three times higher than the government long term target. Some areas showed an increase from the previous year, which could have come from recontamination.
  • At a house in Tsushima in the Namie exclusion zone, despite it being used as a test bed for decontamination in 2011-12, a dose of 7 mSv per year is estimated, while the international limit for public exposure in a non-accidental situation is 1 mSv/y. This reveals the ineffectiveness of decontamination work.  
  • At a school in Namie town, where the evacuation order was lifted, decontamination had failed to significantly reduce radiation risks, with levels in a nearby forest with an average dose rate of more than 10 mSv per year. Children are particularly at risk from radiation exposure.
  • In one zone in Obori, the maximum radiation measured at 1m would give the equivalent of 101 mSv per year or one hundred times the recommended maximum annual limit, assuming a person would stay there for a full year These high levels are a clear threat, in the first instance, to thousands of decontamination workers who will spend many hours in that area.

This contamination presents a long term risk, and means that the government’s long-term radiation target (1mSv/year which is equivalent to 0.23μSv/hour) are unlikely to be reached before at least the middle of the century in many areas that are currently open and into next century for the exclusion zone of Namie. In an admission of failure, the government has recently initiated a review of its radiation target levels with the aim of raising it even higher.

Continue reading at Greenpeace investigation shows Fukushima radiation risks to last into next century 

Related article: 

  • Radiation levels in Fukushima zones still above government target despite cleanup: Greenpeace Japan via The Japan Times
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