Environmental organization Greenpeace went to Japan to measure the radiation levels outside the stricken Fukushima plant, and the report they published is rather disturbing. Nine months after the disaster, local residents just outside the evacuation zone are still subject to dangerous levels of radiation, and apparently no one is doing anything to fix it.
Radiation Levels Are How High, Again?
Greenpeace took measurements in two locations in Fukushima’s neighboring regions – Watari and Onami – and found that the background radiation measures up to 37 micro Sieverts per hour. Just for comparison’s sake, radiation levels in, say, Germany are about 1,000 micro Sieverts per year. Greenpeace spokesman Niklas Schinerl was horrified at the results:
“The radiation level for people in the area surrounding Fukushima is high enough that the maximum legal yearly dosage is reached in a matter of days. In some extreme cases, the limit can be reached within 27 hours.”
The current radiation level just outside the evacuation zone — 37 miles from the damaged reactors — is comparable to the level inside the zone, according to Greenpeace’s measurements, but the zone has not been expanded. In addition, the decontamination measures carried out by local authorities have officially been reduced. Shinerl commented further:
“The government has systematically mishandled the evacuation and decontamination work for months. They’ve put their people – particularly children and pregnant women – in considerable danger.”
Progress is Slow or Nonexistent
Despite official clean-up work, only 35 of Onami’s 370 houses have been fully decontaminated, and the clean-up process has not yet begun in Watari. Only 1,038 of 6700 local residences have even been officially measured. If the official decontamination process continues at the current pace – one house every three days – the displaced populace will have to wait a long time indeed before they can go home again.
A major part of the problem is shifting the responsibility; initially, the federal government was to be responsible for the decontamination process. However, that responsibility is now in the hands of local authorities, who have neither the experience nor the technical knowledge to effectively handle the situation.
Greenpeace finishes its report by pointing out that it’s been asking for progress for months (since August, specifically), and says that the organization presented Prime Minister Yoshihiro Noda with a detailed list of necessary technical requirements. The list has been ignored and the situation for many evacuees has not improved.
Your move, Japan. Do something.
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