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Radiation monitors: An expensive mismanagement

May 20, 2018



Fukushima Prefecture radiation monitoring posts installed after 3/11 hit by glitches






Some 3,000 radiation monitoring devices installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster have been hit by glitches and other problems nearly 4,000 times, sources familiar with the matter said Sunday.


The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which operates the devices called monitoring posts, is planning to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and steadied.


But the move can also be seen as an attempt to cut costs as the government is expected to terminate by the same year a special budget account for rebuilding the Tohoku region affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis.

Some local governments and residents have opposed the planned removal of monitoring posts, expressing concerns about their health.


Around 3,000 monitoring posts were installed in locations such as kindergartens and schools to measure radiation levels in the air, according to the NRA.


But during the five years since fully starting the operation of the devices in fiscal 2013, the monitoring system has been hit by a variety of problems, such as showing inaccurate readings and failing to transmit data, 3,955 times.


The makers of the device and security system companies were called each time to fix the problems. Managing the monitoring posts has cost the central government about ¥500 million a year.


In March, the NRA decided to remove some 2,400 monitoring devices set in areas other than 12 municipalities near the crippled No. 1 plant and reuse some of them in the 12 municipalities.


Local citizens’ groups have requested the authority not to remove the monitoring posts until the decommissioning work is completed at the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.


Terumi Kataoka, a housewife who lives in the city of Aizuwakamatsu, said she formed a group of mothers and submitted a petition to the authority in April to keep the monitoring devices, but the authority did not change the plan.


She also requested information disclosure about plans to reuse the devices, but she only received an answer that no official documents regarding such plans have been drafted.

“It’s all about the budget in the end. They can’t reuse the devices and there seems to be no concrete plans,” she said.

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