September 20, 2011
Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukurou-no-Kai)
Friends of the Earth Japan (FoE Japan)
For the last several months, high levels of radiation have been observed in broad areas of Watari in Fukushima City. Yet, no governmental action has been taken to deal with the situation. We have therefore been demanding that the Japanese government both hold informational sessions for Watari residents and designate the entire township of Watari as a “special evacuation zone (instead of points),” to provide monetary compensations for potential evacuees, especially pregnant women and children.
In late August, the Headquarters for the Atomic Power Disaster and the prefectural government of Fukushima conducted a survey of radiation levels; however, only a part of Watari was surveyed. This may create a problematic situation where Watari residents who live outside “special evacuation points” will be unable to receive monetary compensations for their future evacuations.
To address this problem, the Fukurou-no-Kai and the FoE Japan asked Professor Tomoya Yamauchi (Radiation Science and Application Laboratory, Kobe University) to measure radiation levels in Watari. On September 14, Professor Yamauchi conducted a survey.
The survey revealed the following results.
2.7µSv/h (with a 50cm distance from the ground) was observed at Yawata Shrine near the After School Care House where many children spend their time playing. In addition, radiation levels exceeded 2.0µSv/h (with a 50cm distance from the ground) at four out of ten sampling points along the road that students use when going to Watari Elementary School. Note that this level of radiation was observed even after Fukushima City had conducted a radiation cleanup. This exceeded 2.0µSv/h (with a 50cm distance from the ground), the criterion that the government had used to designate special evacuation points for pregnant women and children in Minami Soma City. Nonetheless, this part of Watari was not included in the survey that the government had conducted to delineate special evacuation points.
Some spots in front of Yawata Shrine exceeded 10µSv/h (with a 1cm distance from the ground). Watari had many places showing this kind of extremely high level of radiation, which seemed to be caused by soil contamination across the entire township. In the case of the Chernobyl disaster, levels of soil contamination were used in designating evacuation zones; however, they have not been considered at all in the case of the Fukushima disaster.
22.6µSv/h (with a 1cm distance from the ground) was measured from a rain collector in front of a house along the road that children use to walk to Watari Elementary School. Although Fukushima City conducted a radiation cleanup of the road, it did not include rain collectors. The high level of radiation seemed to come from cesium concentrated within the surrounding soil, not from the soil inside the rain collector. This means that it would not be enough to remove the soil from the rain collector to lower the radiation level. A more fundamental measure would be needed, including removal of the surrounding soil in its entirety.
Along the road that Fukushima City had cleaned up, several ditches exhibited 5.5µSv/h (with a 1ch distance from the ground). Even though Fukushima City must have removed mud from the ditches during the cleanup on August 24, mud was still seen at the time of our survey—since Watari is surrounded by trees and hills, soil constantly flows into ditches in the town. In this type of environment, removing mud from ditches is unlikely to lower the radiation level.
Children spend a fair amount of time along the road to Watari Elementary School. When conducting a survey, we saw a teacher and a group of students passing by; however, no one was wearing a mask, or no instruction was being given to the students to avoid dangerous spots with high levels of radiation.
An aqueduct in Yakushi, as well as its adjacent houses, falls just outside the area that the government surveyed. The aqueduct is usually dried, but water flows when it rains. In fact, the aqueduct overflowed due to a heavy rain three days prior to our survey. A very high level of radiation was observed around the aqueduct: 3.87µSv/h, 5.30µSv/h, and 9.80µSv/h (with 1m, 50cm, and 1cm distances from the ground, respectively). Yet, no measure was taken to prohibit entry to the aqueduct. According to local residents, children sometimes play in the dried aqueduct.
Inside houses along the aqueduct, 4.8µSv/h and 2.7µSv/h (with 50cm and 1m distances from the ground, respectively) were observed. These levels of radiation exceeded the criteria that the government had used in designating special evacuation points for pregnant women and children in Minami Soma City (2.0µSv/h with a 50cm distance from the ground) and Date City (2.7µSv/h with a 1m distance from the ground).
In a house yard in Yakushi—on the west side of Watari Junior High School—2.02µSv/h (with a 50cm distance from the ground) was observed. This exceeded the criterion that the government had used in designating special evacuation points for pregnant women and children in Minami Soma City (2.0µSv/h with a 50cm distance from the ground).
We measured radiation levels inside the After School Care House near Watari Elementary School and houses in the suburb of Watari. The roofs and their adjacent spaces in these houses exhibited high levels of radiation. Although people had used high pressure water cleaners to clean the roofs, cesium seemed to have penetrated materials composing the roofs and continue to emit radiation from inside.
At a parking lot near houses in the suburb of Watari, 3.0µSv/h and 3.8µSv/h (with 1m and 50cm distances from the ground) were recorded. These levels qualify for designation of special evacuation points.
In light of these findings, we demand that the Japanese government and the prefectural and city governments of Fukushima take the following actions.
1.Our survey showed high levels of radiation outside the neighborhoods of Watari that the governments had surveyed in designating special evacuation points
. Thus, the governments should conduct a more detailed survey of the entire township of Watari.
2.Effects of radiation cleanup proved to be limited. Since Watari is surrounded by trees and hills, rain is unlikely to disperse radioactive materials. On the contrary, the surrounding trees and hills feed contaminated soil to Watari. Since rain does not decrease but increase radiation levels in Watari, removing mud from ditches provides only a temporary relief. Radiation cleanup cannot produce significant effects in the short run. Thus, until radiation cleanup yields a satisfactory result, the governments should evacuate residents, especially children.
3.Radiation levels can become high inside houses because of radioactive materials that penetrated roofs. A more appropriate survey of radiation levels should be conducted that includes measurement of indoor radiation.
4.Various places in Watari showed levels of radiation exceeding the criteria for designating special evacuation points for pregnant women and children in Date and Minami Soma Cities. The governments should immediately define criteria for designating special evacuation points for pregnant women and children in Watari and facilitate their evacuation
5.Watari had many places exhibiting extremely high levels of radiation (with a 1cm distance from the ground). This seemed to be caused by soil contamination within the entire township. The governments should learn from the precedent of the Chernobyl disaster and take into count 1cm radiation levels and soil contamination
when designating special evacuation zones and points.
6.The governments should consider the geographical feature of Watari—contaminated soil flows from surrounding trees and hills every time it rains—and designate the entire township as a special evacuation zone
7.Finally, the current criterion for designating special evacuation points, 20mSv per year, is too high, compared to the existing laws in Japan.
* The governments should modify the criterion
and designate more neighborhoods as eligible for monetary compensations and administrative support in evacuating residents.
* 20mSv per year is four times as high as the criterion for radiation controlled areas (5.2mSv per year) and twenty times as high as the one for the public (1mSv per year).