Japan's radiation monitoring unreliable: Greenpeace

Oct 23, 2012 by Kyoko Hasegawa

Government radiation monitoring in areas near Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is unreliable, Greenpeace charged on Tuesday, with heavily populated areas exposed to 13 times the legal limit.

The environmental group said authorities were wasting time cleaning up evacuated areas and should prioritise decontamination efforts in places where people live, work and play.

found that in some parks and school facilities in Fukushima city, home to 285,000 people, were above three microsieverts per hour. 's recommended limit is 0.23 microsieverts per hour.

"We also found that official monitoring posts placed by the government systematically underestimate the radiation levels," said Rianne Teule, Greenpeace's radiation expert, adding that some machines are shielded from radiation by surrounding metal and concrete structures.

"Official monitoring stations are placed in areas the authorities have decontaminated. However, our monitoring shows that just a few steps away the radiation levels rise significantly," she said.

"Decontamination efforts are seriously delayed and many hot spots that were repeatedly identified by Greenpeace are still there," Teule said.

"It is especially disturbing to see that there are many hot spots around playground equipment, exposing children who are most vulnerable to radiation risks," she said.

In tests carried out over four days last week, Greenpeace also found that radiation levels in Iitate village, where the government is hoping to soon return evacuated residents, are still many times over the limit, with decontamination efforts patchy.

Greenpeace's Japan nuclear campaigner Kazue Suzuki said attempts to clean up were "misguided".

"One home or office may be cleaned up, but it is very unlikely that the whole area will be freed of radiation risks within the next few years," given the mountainous and heavily forested nature of the region, she said.

"The government continues to downplay and give false hope (of returning home) to victims of this nuclear disaster," said Suzuki.

A huge tsunami, sparked by a massive undersea quake, swamped the Fukushima Daiichi in March last year.

Reactors went into meltdown, spewing radiation over a large swathe of Japan's agriculture-heavy northeast, in the planet's worst atomic disaster for a generation.

The natural disaster left around 19,000 people dead or missing.

However, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the nuclear catastrophe, but thousands of people have been displaced and many livelihoods wrecked.

Scientists caution it could be decades before the plant is fully decommissioned and the areas around it are safe to live in again.

Explore further: Australia's dirty secret: who's breathing toxic air?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tokyo 'not doing enough' for Fukushima: Greenpeace

Dec 07, 2011

Fukushima's residents are being left to their fate and not enough is being done to protect them against radiation nine months after Japan's tsunami, environment group Greenpeace said Wednesday.

Greenpeace criticises Japan radiation screening

Oct 20, 2011

Greenpeace called on Tokyo to toughen radiation screening and food labelling rules on Thursday after it said low levels of radiation had been detected in seafood sold at Japanese stores.

Greenpeace warns of radioactive sea life off Japan

May 26, 2011

Environmental group Greenpeace warned Thursday that marine life it tested more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) off Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant showed radiation far above legal limits.

Japan firm unveils radiation-gauging smartphone

May 29, 2012

Mobile phone operator Softbank on Tuesday unveiled a smartphone that can measure radiation as consumers in Japan clamour for reassurance following last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Recommended for you

Australia's dirty secret: who's breathing toxic air?

just added

Australians living in poorer communities, with lower employment and education levels, as well as communities with a high proportion of Indigenous people, are significantly more likely to be exposed to high ...

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

17 hours ago

New Zealand's pastoral landscapes are some of the loveliest in the world, but they also contain a hidden threat. Many of the country's pasture soils have become enriched in cadmium. Grasses take up this toxic heavy metal, ...

Oil drilling possible 'trigger' for deadly Italy quakes

21 hours ago

Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Tuesday suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a "trigger" in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in ...

Snow is largely a no-show for Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

21 hours ago

On March 1, 65 mushers and their teams of dogs left Anchorage, Alaska, on a quest to win the Iditarod—a race covering 1,000 miles of mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, tundra and coastline. According ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

22 hours ago

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Making 'bucky-balls' in spin-out's sights

(Phys.org) —A new Oxford spin-out firm is targeting the difficult challenge of manufacturing fullerenes, known as 'bucky-balls' because of their spherical shape, a type of carbon nanomaterial which, like ...