34 Fukushima Soil Spots Top Chernobyl Forced Evacuation

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
By Paul Martin

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Soil at 34 spots in six Fukushima Prefecture municipalities has been contaminated with levels of radioactive cesium higher than the standard used for forcible evacuations after the Chernobyl disaster, it has been learned.

According to a soil contamination map submitted at a study meeting of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, six municipalities recorded more than 1.48 million becquerels of cesium 137 per square meter–the standard used for forced resettlement after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

The 34 spots are in no-entry and expanded evacuation zones around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The data reinforces comments outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan made Saturday. “There’s a possibility that residents of some areas will be unable to [return and] live there for a long period of time,” he said.

According to the survey, the six municipalities were Okumamachi, Futabamachi, Namiemachi, Tomiokamachi, Iitatemura and Minami-Soma.

The ministry checked soil contamination levels in about 2,200 locations around the nuclear plant.

The spot with the highest concentration of cesium 137 as of June 14–about 15.45 million becquerels per square meter–was in Okumamachi, a town in the heart of the no-entry zone. When levels of cesium 134 were added to the measurement, the level of the two radioactive isotopes reached about 29.46 million becquerels at that location.

More than 3 million becquerels of cesium 137 were detected in 16 locations in Okumamachi, Futabamachi, Namiemachi and Tomiokamachi.

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