Greenpeace Calls for Further Evacuation

Greater Fukushima area should be given protective status

Feature story - April 11, 2011
Following extended monitoring of the area outside the exclusion zone, Greenpeace is calling for the greater Fukushima area to be given official protective status and for the evacuation of pregnant women and children from high risk areas in Fukushima City and Koriyama.

Greenpeace Africa supporters remember Japan

Greenpeace activists and volunteers took part in a vigil in Soweto to mark a month since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters hit Japan, destroying lives and causing mass evacuations. The vigil took place as the nuclear crisis continues with new findings of radiation contamination in Japanese milk and vegetables. © Shayne Robinson / Greenpeace

In addition Greenpeace is also calling on the Japanese government to fully evacuate several radiation hotspots, including those engulfing towns such as Iitate and Namie. This comes after analysis of data collected by the monitoring teams suggested widespread caesium contamination.

“People in the greater Fukushima area could potentially receive radiation exposure of more than 5 milliSieverts per year, which was the threshold for evacuation at Chernobyl, following the 1986 disaster”, said Greenpeace radiation expert Rianne Teule.

Greenpeace radiation monitoring teams recorded radiation levels of 4 microSieverts per hour in a playground in Fukushima City, and 2.8 microSieverts per hour at a shrine in Koriyama. As the maximum allowable accumulated annual dose for members of the public is 1000 microSieverts, a dose of 4 microSieverts per hour is high enough to expose someone to the maximum allowable dose in just over 10 days.

Soil analysis by Kyoto University indicates that more than 80 percent of the radiation in these hotspots is from caesium isotopes, which will persist in the local environment for several years.

The teams also found radiation levels above official limits in vegetables collected from gardens near Fukushima City, Koriyama, and Minamisoma, and from a supermarket in Fukushima City. At least one of the vegetable samples taken from the region could be categorised as radioactive waste.

“Our results have revealed serious issues with food contamination in the Fukushima area”, continued Teule - the authorities need to make consumers and farmers acutely aware of this, by stepping up food and soil testing and giving the greater Fukushima area a protective status.”

“With over one million people living in the greater Fukushima City and Koriyama area, it is not acceptable for the authorities to continue ignoring the seriousness of the situation”, concluded Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Junichi Sato. “The government needs to not only provide people with clear advice on how to protect themselves from the contamination threats, they need to start taking real and meaningful action by declaring the official protective status”.