Don’t Reopen Radioactive Schools!

New Japan PM must delay school start for Fukushima kids

Feature story - August 29, 2011
Today we are calling on Japan’s incoming Prime Minister to delay the September 1st opening of schools in Fukushima City, after our radiation monitoring team found dose rates exceeding international safety standards.

Radiation Measurements at Preschool, Fukushima.

Greenpeace radiation expert Iryna Labunska checks radiation levels at the Minami Fukushima kindergarten. The kindergarten has been decontaminated by the authorities, community groups and NGOs, and while it exhibited significantly decreased dose rates overall, a few spots with elevated contamination persist. Many areas surrounding the school have not been decontaminated, so the risk of re-contamination is also high. © Noriko Hayashi / Greenpeace

On August 17, 18 and 19, a Greenpeace radiation monitoring team surveyed a high school, preschool, and childcare facility, as well as several public areas in Fukushima City.

The team found dose rates of up to 1.5 µSv/h 1m from the ground at one school despite having been decontaminated by the authorities, and up to 2 µSv/h at 1m at a park in the city centre, showing that official clean-up efforts have not been sufficient to protect children’s health.

“No parent should have to choose between radiation exposure and education for their child”, said Kazue Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan nuclear campaigner. “The long overdue clean up plan will deliver too little, too late -- Japan’s new Prime Minister must delay the start of school, immediately relocate those in high-risk areas, and mobilise the thousands of workers that are needed to get radiation dose rates as far below 1mSv/y as possible”.

A young girl washes her hands at the Minami Fukushima kindergarten school, where children without parental permission to use the playground must remain indoors to minimise possible exposure to radioactive contamination. © Noriko Hayashi / Greenpeace

Our team found that while average dose rates remain above the international maximum allowed dose of 1 mSv/y in many places already decontaminated by the authorities, decreased levels of radiation were recorded in locations where local communities had carried out further clean up activities.

“We found a notable decrease in radiation at one Kindergarten in Fukushima City, but this was thanks to decontamination efforts by community groups and NGOs,” said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International radiation expert.

South Africa's Nuclear Threat

in the context of the ongoing nuclear disaster, we ask Energy Minister Dipuo Peters to reconsider the role of nuclear energy in SA. Peters should note the long-lasting impacts of the nuclear disaster, as Japanese pupils continue to face risk of radiation exposure - months after the Fukushima incident.

“South Africa must put a moratorium on any new nuclear reactors at least until the safety implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have been fully evaluated,” says Rianne Teule.

“Nuclear energy is a dangerous distraction from the clean energy development needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. Nuclear power simply delivers too little, too late, and at too high a price for people and the environment.”

Greenpeace urges the government to become Africa’s renewable energy leader, exploiting the country’s abundance of renewable energy resources and securing the brighter future South Africans deserve. A future that is free of the threats posed by nuclear energy.

DOWNLOAD: Our latest report on the true costs of nuclear power in South Africa.