-JAPAN-RADIATION-EVACUATIONvia DW / July 21st, 2015 / In a bid seen by critics as aiming to speed up reconstruction, the Japanese government is preparing to declare sections of the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant a safe place to live. The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to revoke many evacuation orders by March 2017, if decontamination progresses as hoped, meaning that up to 55,000 evacuees could return to the homes they abandoned more than four years ago.

Moreover, Tokyo recently announced that the 7,000 residents of Nahara, a town in one of the seven Fukushima municipalities completely evacuated following the nuclear crisis, will be able to return home permanently from September 5. How many residents of the settlement, which lies just 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the plant, will return, however, remains unclear as many still have mixed feelings, according to a recent poll.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, causing massive devastation and ultimately sending three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into meltdown. It was the worst atomic accident in a generation. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee amid fears of rising radiation, with more than 72,500 people – who used to live within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant – still living in temporary housing units.

Massive clean-up operation

In the meantime, government-run decontamination efforts are underway in 11 cities, with at least 20,000 people involved in the clean-up, according to the environment ministry. In the mammoth task, workers try to remove tons of contaminated surface soil, plants and leaves, placing them in bags or in one of the nearly 800 temporary outdoor storage facilities that have been set up across the disaster zone.

The operation also includes parts of the district of Iitate, which covers more than 200 square kilometers, and was one of the most contaminated areas following the March 2011 disaster. Since 2014, tens of thousands of workers have been attempting to reduce radiation levels in some parts of Fukushima prefecture, including in Iitate.

Mounting concerns

But while organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) say such efforts have contributed to reducing radiation levels, many problems remain, especially when one considers the disposal of contaminated water in the plant and the fact that anyone living in the surrounding areas would be exposed to radiation levels of more than 20 millisieverts (mSv) a year.

The globally-accepted limit for radiation absorption is 1mSv per year, although the IAEA says anything up to 20mSv per year poses no immediate danger to human health. However, various studies have shown health impacts from exposure to lower levels. Moreover, critics argue that only residential areas are being cleaned in the short-term, and the worst-hit parts of the countryside are being omitted or are impossible to be decontaminated, like dense forests and mountains.

This development has raised concerns among environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace, who fear that radioactive contamination in Iitate district is so widespread and at such a high level that it will be “impossible for people to safely return to their homes.”


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By Broc West| 14 Comments | Featured, News


  1. If anyone was paying attention, this is the truth. 1. The Japanese are still lying to everyone. 2. The plants were not designed by engineers who really believed that something could actually go wrong. 3. All levels of radiation have consequences

    • Richard,
      in this case it is Greenpeace who does the lying. The supposed dose limit of 1 mSv/year for return areas is a baseless and frivolous fabrication. The ICRP has explicitly said that limits for return areas can be set as high a 20mSv/year. The ICRP is the internationally accepted authority on the issue. And the Japanese gov is working with them.

      This is a human rights abuse by Greenpeace.

      With a dose limit of 1mSv/year huge populations of the world would have to get evacuated, may be you yourself lives in such an area.

      But read it for yourself, from about page 530 onwards

  2. Why is this very important topic covered so quietly by supposedly “our media” ?

    The world must learn from these events.

    Thank you

  3. SO 20mSv per year poses no immediate danger to human health. Any amount of radiation will have effects on the cells of the human body. The key word used in the article is immediate, but fact remains that once the people return to their homes that they will not be of good health and overtime will develop further health concerns as radiation continues to be asorbed. No amount is safe and it is sad that families would be told this. Would Government officials move themselves and their families to such a radioactive area? I do feel the task of such a massive clean-up would require much more research about decontamination before considering moving people back. So many concerns come to mind. I would like to see more advancements made in science to handle such contamination, as even nuclear waste itself poses huge risk to the population and yet to have a solution. Just one nuclear accident can cause massive change in which humans and all other living things are just not yet able to adapt to. It is a huge undertaking and I do commend the idea of the people to be able to go back to the place they call home, but they should be able to go back to a safe place, free of radiation. I wish the best for the people that have suffered through such a tragedy and hope more advancements will be made in science to handle this new atomic world.

    • Stephanie, it seems like you are well read on the topic and know lots about it, however I have a question for you.What is the dose of radiation you receive while flying? Being that you are so well informed you must know that you are bombarded with radiation when you fly….. where from you ask? Well, I’ll let you figure that out. Please research all avenues on the topic if you proclaim to know all the facts and answers.

  4. The banks are behind this rush to false normalcy. They are owed 100 billion dollars by plant operators and also want all nukes restarted. There is no plan to contain leakage of incredibly dangerous water from flowing underground and out to sea.
    Between 100k and 1 million cancers vi

  5. I’m glad the people near Fukushima, their progress and their concerns are still being shared in the news. My thoughts are with them.

  6. This is a perfect opportunity for the TEPCO corporation to build self-sustaining homes for those displaced people, as a fair compensation for the pain, and suffering caused by the negligent, greedy corporation. These homes can be built elsewhere, and the contaminated area can be used to move the management of TEOCO, along with those who certify that the area in question is safe.

  7. Old Folks can live there cheap & free from taxes. Say 70 or older? What’ll get you first, old age or the Cesium?

  8. The dense forests, hills, fields, mountains are contaminated in the region and will be for about one million years. It does not go away. They should not move back to their homes in the contaminated area, it is unsafe. ALL the radiation cannot be removed. Nuclear power plants are so wrong on so many levels. There are better sources of energy that can accommodate the populations, such as solar energy, wind energy, natural gas, water, geothermal. Nuclear energy is a mess and very UNCLEAN. The radioactive waste alone will be leaking into underground water tables, and some ionizing radiation is already in lakes, rivers, and streams – drinking water for humans and wildlife – as reactors and fuel rods are cooled with said water, consistently. It is NOT cheaper – just look how much Japan is paying for it, as is the world, as it has made the ocean toxic surrounding Japan and beyond. The cost of building and maintaining a nuclear power plant far exceeds the cost of building any other energy facility. It costs $billions. Shipping the high level waste for depositing in international repositories is costly. Nuclear power DOES emit greenhouse gases…perhaps not to the same levels as fossil fuels, but it does nonetheless. Radioactive waste is taking up land space, and this generation will leave the legacy of ruining the planet, making it less and less habitable for thousands of generations to come, if nuclear power continues. Mining for uranium ore for fuel at the power plants is destroying landscapes, wildlife, and waterways, and the radon dust from mining is killing miners and compromising the health of families in neighborhoods nearby. No more ignoring the deadly facts about nuclear power. No more denial, lying about how it is “clean energy”. What a racket! It seems clean on the outside to the onlooker admiring the white (radioactive) steam drifting above the tall cooling towers, but it’s a nightmare under the facade. Nuclear is exceedingly unclean, the least clean and safe of all energy available today. It needs to be completely phased out, ended, and replaced with CLEAN energy – solar, wind, water, natural gas, and other safe and clean innovations. May the hundreds of thousands of people who were forced to evacuate their homes, towns, and happy lives in Japan (because of the deadly toxic nuclear power industry) find peace again, eventually (after losing beloved family members to the meltdown along with the tsunami), and stay healthy, somehow, elsewhere. Having their lives suddenly completely uprooted was devastating for many, exhausting for most. The world must see Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and other accidents as a lesson, a big reminder to phase out nuclear, and start up friendlier, safer and far less toxic (less destructive) energy sources.

  9. Un ha sure, like it getting worce ,like the water going over the bulkheads of the Titanic, its accumulating. When dried it is airborn and becomes global issued

  10. Don’t think I’ll be eating West Coast seafood anytime soon

  11. Greenpeace fabricates false dose limits

    Your article from DW falls for the false radiation dose limit Greenpeace has fabricated for its latest callous and inhumane campaign to frighten evacuees from returning to their home place for no reason.
    “The globally-accepted limit for radiation absorption is 1mSv per year” is a fabrication.
    The ICRP sets the limits. It is the accepted authority for radiological protection – totally independent of the nuclear industry.
    And the supposed 1 mSv/year limit is taken from the ICRP rules, but deliberately falsely. The ICRP is absolutely clear on this issue:”There is no question that the exposure of current residents in an area with elevated residual radioactivity due to the accident belongs to an existing exposure situation, and hence the concept of dose limit [of 1 mSv/year] does not apply.”

    The ICRP says that dose limits can, without danger to health, be set at up to 20mSv/year for return areas; which are explicitly defined as “existing situations”.

    The ICRP spends several pages in this document to make that point absolutely clear, from around page 530 onwards: “Radiological protection issues arising during and after the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident” http://iopscience.iop.org/0952-4746/33/3/497/pdf/0952-4746_33_3_497.pdf

    Not the tainted – and therefore used by the Greenpeace campaign – IAEA, but the ICRP further explains: “There was a particular misunderstanding about the appropriate use and application of the dose value of 1 mSv year−1. The public tended to regard a dose above this value as dangerous, which created challenges in coping with the aftermath of the accident. The fact that there is little convincing evidence for human health effects below 100 mSv year−1 (or 100 times the dose limit) appeared to hold little sway over the level of concern.”

    Now I’ll wait with baited breath about an article investigating how Greenpeace arrived at this fabrication (I know it is not a misunderstanding, because I informed the relevant persons in Greenpeace about the ICRP stance, timely before the campaign start), what such a campaign does to evacuees and why this is real human rights abuse – for reasons of zealotry or for the simple reason of donation optimisation is the question.

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