Fukushima, Japan – J-Village is the starting point of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay, and radioactive contamination still remains in the parking lot and the nearby forests at this sports complex in Fukushima prefecture, according to Greenpeace Japan’s most recent survey. On 12 December, the Japanese Ministry of Environment confirmed that the high-level radioactive hotspot identified by Greenpeace in October and a newly-identified hotspot had been removed by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Despite this, on 13-14 December, Greenpeace measured public areas in and around J-Village again and still detected radioactive contamination.
Remarkably, after removing just two hotspots, the standard procedures of decontamination were not followed by TEPCO. The standard practice for Fukushima decontamination is to decontaminate up to 20 metres from the public road. In this case, only the specific hotspots were removed over an area of about 1 square metre, despite the fact that the wider surroundings of the hotspots also showed high levels of radiation.
“We welcome the action of the government and TEPCO to remove the hotspots near J-Village. However, radioactive contamination at J-Village is not under control and remains complex, with high levels of radiation in the area that can spread and re-concentrate with heavy rainfall,” said Heinz Smital, nuclear physicist and radiation specialist at Greenpeace Germany who is currently in Fukushima.
The original location of the highest radiation hotspot identified by Greenpeace on 26 October was 71 microSieverts per hour (µSv/h) close to the surface and 32µSv/h at 10cm. On 13 December, Greenpeace’s radiation survey team found the radiation levels of the same location to be lower than 1 µSv/h at 10cm during the re-test.
However, on the same day just to the north of this hotspot, Greenpeace identified a patch of ground adjacent to the parking lot, where levels were up to 2.2 µSv/h at 10cm. Near the entrance of this same parking lot, Greenpeace measured 2.6 µSv/h at 10cm and 1 µSv/h at 1 meter. Additionally, at the edge of a forest north of the car park, radiation hotspots of 2.6 µSv/h at 10cm were identified. A second forest 300 meters north showed consistent levels of 0.6 μSv/h at 10cm, and 0.4 µSv/h at 1 meter, which is almost double the government’s decontamination target.
“Many questions and uncertainties remain: how were such high levels of radiation (71 µSv/h at close to surface) not detected during the earlier decontamination by TEPCO? Why were only the most alarming hotspots removed and not the wider areas following the standard decontamination procedures? Given these apparent failures, the ability of the authorities to accurately and consistently identify radiation hotspots appears to be seriously in doubt. We call on the authorities to act swiftly and effectively to provide a comprehensive decontamination action plan that can reassure the public,” said Smital.
Greenpeace video and stills of its latest survey are available on request.
Heinz Smital, Radiation Specialist, Greenpeace Germany, [email protected], +49 171 8780803
Mitsuhisa Kawase, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, [email protected], +81 (0)70 31954165