Greenpeace demands children be evacuated from Fukushima, Koriyama

08/29/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) — Greenpeace demanded Aug. 29 that the government evacuate children and pregnant women from the cities of Fukushima and Koriyama until decontamination is completed and verified due to high levels of radiation.

The international environmental organization also sought residents, particularly children and pregnant women, of the Fukushima prefecture cities be given the “right to relocate,” which would pay relocation expenses, or provide housing and assistance with finding work.

The demands came after Greenpeace tests in Fukushima earlier this month showed that radiation levels could still reach 8 millisieverts (mSv) yearly, eight times the acceptable safe level for adults, according to Greenpeace.

Greenpeace representatives said decontamination had reduced levels of radiation following the meltdowns at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but said they remain dangerously high.

“Decontamination alone cannot protect our children. Decontamination cannot be an alternative for evacuation. Decontamination and evacuation have to come as a set or we cannot protect our children,”

Kazue Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan anti-nuclear project head, told a news conference in Tokyo on Monday that “Children should be evacuated until decontamination is completed and it is verified that radiation is at a safe level.”

Suzuki urged outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s replacement to delay the Sept. 1 opening of schools in the city of Fukushima until it was confirmed they were safe. Last week, as part of its basic decontamination plan, the government confirmed the return of its safe level of annual exposure of children to radiation to the pre-March 11 disaster level of 1 mSv/year, having raised it to 20 mSv/year in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis, and dropping it again in May. Suzuki, however, said the plan was “deplorably late and inadequate.”

Suzuki said schools may have been declared safe, but surrounding areas have not been checked and pose a risk to children’s health. She added that internal radiation exposure levels did not include calculation of radiation in school lunches.

“Greenpeace is calling for total control of management of exposure for children regardless of the area they are in,” Suzuki said.

Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace international radiation expert, said Greenpeace searched for hotspots to identify the highest risks in school playgrounds, then took average measurements of radiations at schools. Vande Putte said this posed a number of serious problems.

“It’s clear that, first, there is a serious risk of regular recontamination,” he said. “A second conclusion is that the surrounding contamination — the buildings, the paths — are of serious concern and zooming in on school territory itself is not sufficient. A third point is that there is an urgency of risk management, as those schools were forced to burn decontaminated materials on school grounds or disposed of in municipal waste, which poses a serious risk of recontamination.”

robert@majiroxnews.com

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