Japan on Wednesday said it would in the near future announce plans for potentially removing residents from additional locations with high radioactivity following the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, June 14).
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power has battled to prevent radioactive contaminants from escaping the six-reactor Fukushima facility following a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing in Japan. Radiation releases on a level not seen since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster have already forced the evacuation of about 80,000 residents from a 12-mile ring around the facility.
Japan's forthcoming plans could affect isolated areas beyond the exclusion zone where high concentrations of radioactive contaminants have accumulated, threatening to expose inhabitants to radiation levels exceeding the legal annual threshold of 20 millisieverts.
"We will come to a certain conclusion in the not-too-distant future," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters. The country is engaging local governments on the radiation "hot spots" while also continuing surveillance activities, the official said (Kyodo News I/Mainichi Daily News, June 15).
Japan's capital on Wednesday started gathering radiation measurements at 100 points throughout the city's interior, Reuters reported (Takenaka/Fujioka, Reuters I, June 15).
A complex, electronic system for predicting radioactive material dispersal patterns has been of little help to the Japanese government, according to Reuters. The nation's Education Ministry has pledged to finish by October a thorough assessment of contaminant distribution within the exclusion zone.
The radiation discharge from Fukushima is believed to be 15 percent of the level emitted by Chernobyl, Reuters reported.
The region northwest of Fukushima now appears the hardest hit by radioactive materials, which analysts suggested had been transferred by air currents in March and returned to the earth through precipitation (Krolicki/Takenaka, Reuters II, June 15).
Meanwhile, Tokyo Electric Power announced plans to on June 27 begin constructing a massive structure around the Fukushima plant's No. 1 reactor site in a bid to contain radioactive contaminants, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday (Xinhua News Agency, June 15).
Elsewhere, the seafood industry and local governments in Japan's Tohoku region have rallied against the company's proposal to dump radiation-tainted water from the neighboring Fukushima Daini plant, the Asahi Shimbun reported (Asahi Shimbun, June 15).