Tokyo, Japan - "Hot spots" of nuclear radiation still contaminate parts of Fukushima Prefecture, according to findings from the latest Greenpeace radiation monitoring mission near the Daiichi nuclear power plant that experienced a melt down after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Experts from the environmental organisation also claim that authorities have consistently underestimated the amount of contamination and the health risks involved.
Greenpeace will use these results to try to persuade local governments with nuclear power plants in their districts to resist lobbying from the central government to have them reactivated. All 50 of Japan's remaining nuclear plants were shut down following the 2011 disaster.
Greenpeace began independently monitoring radiation in Fukushima within a few days of the nuclear accident, and it has conducted field trips each year since then. The latest such trip took place from October 24-27.
Heinz Smitai, a nuclear physicist, Greenpeace campaigner and participant in the radiation monitoring mission, told foreign journalists at an October 30 press conference in Tokyo that radiation hot spots exist as far as 60 kilometres from the site of the disaster.
For instance, one street in front of a hospital in Fukushima City "is quite contaminated", Smitai said, measuring 1.1 microsieverts of radiation per hour. Although this was one of the highest readings, Greenpeace found 70 other places in the city where the amount of radiation recorded exceeded the Ministry of Environment's long-term target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour.
A sievert is the standard unit for measuring the risk of radiation absorbed by the body. A millisievert is equal to one-thousandth of a sievert, while a microsievert is one-millionth of a sievert. A typical CT scan can deliver from 2 to 10 millisieverts of radiation, depending on the area being scanned.
Source: Al Jazeera