TOKYO (majirox news) – Dr. Kumi Naidoo showed contaminated soil from a Fukushima City playground at a press conference on June 9 in Tokyo.
Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, an international environmental organization, criticized the Japanese government’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in northeast Japan, and its ongoing failure to protect the health and welfare of its people.
“While the Japanese government has made some efforts at decontamination, it is not nearly enough,” he said. “These are real people we are dealing with here, not statistics.”
This week Naidoo and a Greenpeace radiation monitoring team tested for contamination in central Fukushima. The group found average levels of gamma radiation contamination at around 2-3 µSv/h (microsieverts per hour) at ground level on the streets of central Fukushima, about 25-40 times above normal.
“The measurements at contaminated hotspots ranged from 9 µSv/h to as high as 45 µSv/h, particularly dose rates of 0.5 µSv/h – seven times normal background levels – could still be found at a kindergarten, despite already having been decontaminated by the authorities,” stated Greenpeace.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said radiation levels on school playgrounds near Fukushima Daiichi plant can be cut by up to 99 percent by removing contaminated soil. The ministry said that radiation levels on school playgrounds and other areas near the plant can be effectively reduced by replacing irradiated topsoil with earth from deeper down, or removing the top layer and burying it.
According to the Mainichi Daily News June 10, the radiation levels from the schoolyards of Fukushima Prefecture decreased by one-eighth due to the removal of the top soil. The ministry measured the levels of radiation from the atmosphere, and on June 9 reported its results to Japan’s Safety Nuclear Agency.
Naidoo said, “On Tuesday (June 7) I had the privilege of meeting with both teachers and school children in Fukushima. Looking at innocent faces of the children, I found it difficult to contemplate the dangerously high levels of radiation they are being exposed to on a daily basis.”
Naidoo said that it was morally imperative for Japan’s government to evacuate pregnant woman and children from high-risk areas until proper decontamination was carried out.
“While authorities admitted this week that the Fukushima crisis is far worse than previously claimed by TEPCO (owner and operator of Fukushima Daiichi plant) with several melt-throughs and a doubling of the estimated amount of radiation released, we are not seeing any escalation in their plans to protect the public,” Naidoo said.
He added that we needed greater protection from exposure to schoolchildren, and less protection and more exposure of TEPCO and the nuclear industry. “Having seen the aftereffects of Chernobyl I’m here to implore the Japanese government to protect its people and learn from 50 years of mistakes of nuclear energy.”
As previously reported, Gerry Curtis, professor of Japanese politics at Columbia University in New York and a prominent analyst of Japanese politics, said the most dangerous decision made by the government has been to allow children to go to schools and play in playgrounds where the radiation level is as high as 20 millisieverts per year (mSv). The government says this is the international standard; however the standard is meant for adults working in nuclear plants.
The government’s stance remains that it is safe for schoolchildren to use school playgrounds in the prefecture as long as the dose they are exposed to doe not exceed 20 millisieverts over a year.
“We’re talking about 5- and 6-year-old children, and no one knows what the long-term health consequences may be,” Curtis said. “For the government to neglect the health of the children is really crazy. Not only the mothers of children in Fukushima, but every mother in the country is angry and up in arms.”
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