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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Decontamination makes little progress

May 17, 2013


Little progress in Fukushima radiation cleanup



An NHK survey has found that little progress is being made to clean up radioactive material in areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Work is underway in 47 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture. The national government is in charge of restricted areas near the plant. Municipalities take charge of outer areas.

The government has carried out cleanup in around 4 percent of the land in the restricted areas.

Municipalities have cleaned up nearly 5 percent of houses that need to be decontaminated.

NHK also analyzed data for 21 municipalities and found that the cleanup does not necessarily lower radiation levels.

The data shows that radiation levels have not fallen to the government-set standard of one millisievert per year on 77 percent of the land.

Junko Nakanishi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology is calling for a review of the cleanup operations.

Nakanishi says the current method can cut radiation levels only in a small percentage of the areas. She urges authorities to tell residents of the limits of the work and provide support for relocation.

The government plans to analyze data on decontamination in the coming months and study ways to proceed.



Reasons for slow progress of decontamination




Local authorities say the work by hand takes a lot of time and workers often have to suspend their activities due to weather, like heavy snow in winter.

Sometimes the authorities cannot contact owners of houses that have been evacuated.

Local governments have difficulty in finding temporary storage sites for soil they have removed, and other contaminated materials.

Officials and experts say radioactive material gets into extremely small gaps in asphalt or roofs, making it difficult to completely remove it by washing or wiping.

They also say radioactive material remains in forests, farmland or vacant lots that have not been decontaminated, or are outside the target areas, and this is another reason radiation levels remain relatively high.


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