Fukushima air quality study confirms high levels of radiation
An unmanned aerial vehicle reports 19 microsieverts per hour.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency ( JAEA ) has completed the first detailed study of air pollution near the Fukushima nuclear plant and confirmed high levels of radiation, the Asahi newspaper reported. .
The public body responsible for promoting research and nuclear energy, managed to make a measurement of the area closest to the center of Fukushima, in a radius of three kilometers around the plant, through the use of a remote control helicopter.
Before this test, no one had analyzed air quality in this sector because it was adjacent to the reactors damaged by the tsunami on March 11, 2011, but the first test conducted more than two years later, confirmed that radiation is still very high in the areas that surround the nuclear plant.
Thanks to the unmanned helicopter, which carried out the measurements at the end of last year, the JAEA detected more than 19 microsieverts per hour, at one meter above the ground in the areas immediately south and west of the plant, according to the latest data.
While readings were lower ( 9.5 to 19 microsieverts per hour) to the northwest, the institution noted that there are also levels that remain relatively high in parts of that area.
The JAEA also published the results of measurements published in December 2012 in 10,000 different places within an area of ??80 kilometers around the plant , located about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.
The result shows that the volume in that area dropped by 36 percent compared to the data obtained for the first time by the institution in June 2011, three months after the nuclear accident. As many experts have confirmed, most of the radiation that was emitted by the nuclear plant after its collapse, moved east accross the pacific towards the west coast of the United States.
The agency explained that this decrease is mainly due to the sharp decrease in the levels of cesium -134, an isotope that has a half life of two years and which has been “swept” by successive rains. So the cesium left Fukushima only to become part of ocean and local sources of water after being washed by rain for the past two years.
In most of the areas around the nuclear plant, tests detected levels of at least 1 millisievert per year, which is the maximum amount recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
Despite cleaning efforts announced by Japanese authorities, the volume of houses, buildings and roads located near forest areas, where radioactive materials tend to accumulate, is still considerable, if taking into account that there are really no safe levels of radiation. Measurements show that contamination has decreased by only about a third is most areas.
The disaster at the Fukushima maintains some 52,000 people displaced. Those people used to live around the nuclear plant. The explosion at the reactor continues to cause damage in fisheries, agriculture and local livestock, which are continuously exposed to radiation being emitted by the melting reactor.