Expanded Fukushima radiation monitoring team back in the field
by Andrew Davies
April 4, 2011
Two Greenpeace radiation monitoring teams are now hard at work outside the Fukushima evacuation zone: one investigating health threats and testing food and milk, while the other is looking at surface contamination.
Still no evacuation for Iitate
Following our first monitoring team’s radiation findings, we called on the Japanese government to evacuate the contaminated areas outside the official zone, after confirming the authorities radiation data for the town of Iitate, which is 40km from the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant and 20km outside the official evacuation zone. Staying in Iitate for just a few days could mean exposure to the annual allowable dose of radiation.
On Sunday March 27th, our first team measured radiation of between 7 and 10 microsievert per hour in the town of Iitate, which is high enough to require evacuation – the maximum allowable accumulated annual dose for members of the public is 1000 microsieverts. The levels detected refer to external radiation, and do not take into account the further risks such of ingestion or inhalation.
Our team’s findings confirmed those by the Fukushima Prefectural Government for Iitate, and those of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The government has yet to call for an evacuation.
A need for independent monitoring
Recent reports that Japan’s government withheld information about radiation risks outside the evacuation zone add to the urgency our field team faces to supply accurate, independent information to local communities.
It has been learned that the Japanese government withheld the release of computer projections indicating high levels of radioactivity in areas more than 30 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The estimates showed that the radiation would exceed 100 millisieverts in some areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant if people remained outdoors for 24 hours between March 12th and 24th.
That is 100 times higher than the 1 millisievert-per-year long-term reference level for humans as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
Photo: Diasuke Miyachi of the Greenpeace radiation monitoring team in Fukushima. © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace