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: Researchers find changes in agriculture increase high river flow rates

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

Pacific summit to urge action on climate change

3 hours ago

Pacific island leaders will renew calls for meaningful action on climate change at a regional summit opening in Palau on Tuesday, amid fears rising seas will swamp their low-lying nations.

US plans widespread seismic testing of sea floor

Jul 26, 2014

(AP)—The U.S. government is planning to use sound blasting to conduct research on the ocean floor along most of the East Coast, using technology similar to that which led to a court battle by environmentalists in New Jersey.

User comments : 0