In Japan, City Radiation Inspectors Told NOT to Inspect Highest Potential Radiation Areas

DATE, Japan—This sprawling city, 35 miles away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactors, is leading the next phase of Japan’s struggles with radiation: deciding how to handle populations in contaminated communities where the level isn’t high enough to justify evacuation.

Five months after a nuclear accident blew radioactive particles across the countryside, contamination in Date (pronounced DAH-tay) is deemed low enough to be manageable—as long as residents don’t spend too long outside, and avoid spots such as parks and forests, where radioactive elements tend to gather.

Radioactive cesium has a tendency to bind to earth, and flow along with silt in water.

“At each house the inspectors measured two spots—in the yard and at the front door—at heights of about 20 inches and one yard (one meter). In choosing the spots, the inspectors were warned to stay away from areas such as drains, shrubbery and rainspouts, where radioactive elements tend to gather, potentially skewing results.”

 

Editorial Comment: The inspectors were warned to stay away from where the contamination is? Well, that will certainly result in lower readings. It is ridiculous to survey an area in that manner.

It’s like saying, “Well, yes, there is radioactive contamination in your home, but it’s only in a few places that you’re not as likely to be at, so don’t worry about it. Just stay away from your shrubs, drains and rainspouts.”

Of course, officials don’t want residents to think of the potential contamination these areas, as radioactive substances near rainspouts would spread into lawns, and might find its way into house if not properly monitored.

This is also not considering the amount of radioactive substances local plants would uptake.

What is required is to survey the entire residence, identify the “hot spots” and then create a decontamination plan.

 

Lumber-company owner Morio Onami says his house didn’t qualify for evacuation, even though his son’s, just a few steps away, did.

“At first I thought it was a mistake,” says Mr. Onami, 69 years old.

Mr. Onami’s son, who lived with his wife and two children in a big, new house on the family plot, had received a notice saying the house’s radiation levels were high enough to qualify them for evacuation. But no notice conferring hot-spot status had come to Mr. Onami and his wife, Sato, who lived in the family’s original dwelling, steps away.

The two houses got different readings—3.2 microsieverts per hour in the yard at Mr. Onami’s son’s house, versus 2.4 microsieverts at Mr. Onami’s house. But the two households functioned as one, with everyone using the same bathtub, Japanese-style.

As neighbors compared notes, they found levels and notices were “all over the place,” Mr. Onami says. Mr. Onami says he’ll stay behind, while the rest of his family—including his wife—evacuates.

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