Japan may extend evacuation zone


Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

TOKYO (majirox news) – Japan may extend its evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was damaged by the tsunami in March, because of high radiation levels, the government said on June 6, according to NHK Radio, Mainichi and Yomiuri Newspapers.

The government might decide to evacuate the cities of Date and Minamisoma, the latter which is currently divided into two parts: one inside the evacuation zone and the other beyond it. The current zone surrounds areas beyond a 20-kilometer (12.4 mile) radius from the Fukushima Daiichi plant and includes all villages and towns within the circle. The Fukushima Daiichi plant has been spewing radiation for almost three months.

Government agencies have measured radiation levels of Date and Minamisoma at over 20 millisieverts per year, according to the Ministry of Education. The rules of the International System of Radiological Protection and the International Atomic Energy Agency states that people living in areas with levels over 20 millisieverts per year should be evacuated. The levels measured by the agencies during the last few days averaged out to be 20.1 millisieverts per year in Date and 23.8 in Minamisoma.

A total of 80 residents from both cities met with government officials at a briefing on June 4, saying they were worried about the safety of pregnant women, children and domesticated animals. They asked the government to provide uncontaminated grass for their cows and to show them what concrete measures it is taking to reduce the levels of radiation in these cities.

The local government answered by claiming to its residents that the Japanese level of 20 mSv was relatively low and safe under international standards and that the residents should not worry.

Other regions in addition to the Tohoku region are measuring radiation levels. For example, the Taito ward in Tokyo announced that it would begin taking measurements at 16 sites, including sand boxes, parks and city schools. Measurements will be published on their website. The Suginami ward in Tokyo has already begun.

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