Statement from Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo at Tokyo Press Conference
Greenpeace Press release – June 9, 2011
Greenpeace International Executive Director Dr Kumi Naidoo unveiled a sample of contaminated soil (1) from a Fukushima playground at a Tokyo press conference, criticising the Japanese government’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis, and its ongoing failure to protect the health and welfare of its people.
“On Tuesday I had the privilege of meeting with both teachers and school children in Fukushima. Looking at innocent faces of the children, I found it difficult to contemplate the dangerously high levels of radiation they are being exposed to on a daily basis (2)“, said Dr Naidoo. “While the Japanese government has made some efforts at decontamination, it is not nearly enough. These are real people we are dealing with here, not statistics.”
“We plan on taking this contaminated soil to Japan’s government, to demand commitment to realistic protection of those most vulnerable to radiation. The pregnant woman and children of Fukushima are the future of this country. They are innocent victims of Japan’s insistence on using nuclear energy and there is a moral imperative for them to be evacuated from high-risk areas until proper decontamination is carried out”.
“While authorities have admitted this week that the Fukushima crisis is far worse than previously claimed by TEPCO, with several melt-throughs and a doubling of the estimated amount of radiation released, we are not seeing any escalation in their plans to protect the public. What we need here is greater protection from exposure to schoolchildren, and far less protection and more exposure of TEPCO and the rest of nuclear industry”.
“Nuclear energy is never safe, never cheap, and the Fukushima disaster will leave Japan with an infamous legacy – the way people used to talk about Chernobyl they will today talk about Fukushima. Having seen the after affects of Chernobyl I am here to implore the Japanese government to protect its people and learn from 50 years of mistakes of nuclear energy.”
“Japan has begun to look away from nuclear and towards renewable technology, what is needed now is strong commitment and investment in this vision, to protect the future for all our children, and leave them a world in which they can meet their energy needs without resorting to nuclear power. ”
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, Reactor 4. Photo source: ©Greenpeace
1) Dr Naidoo accompanied a Greenpeace radiation monitoring team this week as it undertook further contamination testing on the streets of central Fukushima city. The team found average levels of gamma radiation contamination at around 2-3 µSv/h (microSievert per hour) at ground level, about 25-40 times above normal. Dr Naidoo was alarmed to learn that measurements at contaminated hotspots ranged from 9 µSv/h to as high as 45 µSv/h, particularly dose rates of 0.5 µSv/h – seven times normal background levels – could still be found at a kindergarten, despite having been already being decontaminated by the authorities.
The sample is two kilograms of soil collected at a city playground:
– at contact, the small amount of soil gives dose rate around 3 µSv/h
– at contact of the outside of the suitcase, the dose rate is 1.1 µSv/h
– at 1 metre distance from the suitcase, the doserate is 0.07 µSv/h, ie back to normal
The soil is properly packaged, sealed in several layers, and carried in a robust suitcase to avoid any contamination or danger. Greenpeace has a detailed radiation safety protocol for transportation and manipulation with this sample, which includes emergency preparedness. It is at all times guarded by a trained radiation specialist.
The monitoring log from Greenpeace radiation team visit of Fukushima city on June 7 can be found here: http://bit.ly/inGeoR
2) In the kindergarten, a radiation dose rate of 3 µSv/h was recorded in a garden, and 0.5 µSv/h in places where top soil was removed during decontamination. A reduced rate of 0.5 µSv/h could still expose one to a dose of 5 mSv per year – five times the internationally recommended maximum annual dose and a level that triggered evacuations after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
Values around 9 µSv/h were recorded at some public places, including playgrounds, and 20 and 45 µSv/h hotspots were discovered on a road outside a school, and at a high school respectively. The readings were found near the building at places where the rainwater accumulates and flows from the roofs.
Map of Radiation Measurements by Greenpeace team. Results of Greenpeace Radiation team independent monitoring of air, soil, and food in the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear plant. Image source: Greenpeace.
Radiation Survey: Greenpeace Team of Experts
A Greenpeace team of radiation experts is monitoring locations around the evacuation area that surrounds the crisis-stricken Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear plant. They’re there to independently assess the true extent of radiation risks that the local population may be facing.