Monday, March 25, 2013

#Radioactive Japan: 50 Millisieverts Radiation Exposure Per Year Is "Low" Enough to Bring Residents and Businesses Back to Tomioka-Machi in Fukushima


That's where Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant is located, but the town was heavily contaminated when the radioactive plume released from Fukushima I (Daiichi) Nuclear Power Plant (mostly from vent, from explosions to a lesser degree) hit south. The entire town has been designated as "no-entry (exclusion) zone".

But now, one year after similar measures were taken in other outlying cities and towns like Minami Soma City, Tomioka-machi and Namie-machi, another very contaminated town north of Fukushima I Nuke Plant, are being reorganized into new zones that signifies "hope" (at least for the government if not for the residents). No more forbidding "no-entry zone".

The areas which are expected to have cumulative radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts or less per year will be called the "zone in preparation for having the evacuation order lifted" (避難指示解除準備区域) where people are free to go back and live (or I should say strongly encouraged to go back and live) after the national government thoroughly decontaminate the areas.

The areas with the expected cumulative radiation exposure of 20 to 50 millisieverts per year will be called the "zone with restricted entry" (居住制限区域) which only means cannot cannot stay there overnight but no problem if they want to commute to work there.

Only if the cumulative radiation exposure per year in the areas exceed 50 millisieverts, the areas are designated as "zone where it is difficult for people to return" (帰還困難区域), and people cannot go back at all until 5 years after the accident, meaning only three more years. After three more years, the cumulative radiation levels per year are magically expected to drop below 50 millisieverts. (Good luck with that, with cesium-137 whose half-life is 30 years.)

Who measures the radiation levels? The national government under the pork-cutlet-over-rice prime minister (baseless rumors say he won't last long, as his stomach ailment has returned) of course. They will continue token "decontamination" - practically smearing the area with water and bagging the top soil (if that, these days), cutting branches of trees (and dumping in the rivers nearby) - mostly to profit general contractors, greatly save on compensation money, and claim "See, we're not Chernobyl! We're returning people in two years!".

Here's from Mainichi English, talking hopefully about cherry blossom viewing event in the most contaminated area inside Tomioka-machi (3/25/2013; emphasis is mine):

Nuke disaster exclusion zone change has Fukushima town ready for cherry blossom season

TOMIOKA, Fukushima -- The cherry blossoms in this town are on the edge of blooming, and as of March 25 local residents can see the buds in person for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began more than two years ago.

Tomioka had been locked inside the nuclear disaster exclusion zone since the town was evacuated in March 2011. However, the national government has determined that radiation doses in about 70 percent of the town have fallen to 50 millisieverts per year or less -- still high, but low enough to re-designate these areas as open to temporary visits.

The rezoning happens to cover a good portion of Yonomori Park, known for its some 1,500 cherry trees lining an L-shaped road and forming a pink tunnel when in full bloom.

"The buds look ready to pop open," said Kiyoshi Horikawa, the 72-year-old chairman of a local cherry blossom viewing group as he looked on the trees on March 25.

The day also marked the beginning of decontamination work on the trees. Unfortunately, the east-west part of the route generally remains in the exclusion zone and generally out-of-bounds even for quick visits. Many of the trees in that section are more than a century old.

Nevertheless, the town government is planning a cherry blossom-viewing bus trip for residents in late April, and includes the section still inside the exclusion zone.


So the national government has simply decided the radiation levels have dropped below 50 millisieverts per year in 70% of the town. Why didn't Russians think of this wonderful gimmick?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken workers at Fukushima have a whole life limit of 100 mSv, beyond that they can't work at the plant any more. If you stay 12 hours a day in a 50 mSv/yr area you get to 100 mSv in four years and you do it for free (workers at F1 are compensated for the risk they take).
Needless to say, this rezoning maneuvre seems to be more targeted towards cutting compensation claims paid by Tepco than to protect citizen's health.
What happened to the 1 mSv/yr limit for the general population? What happened to the mandatory health screenings for people working close to radioactive sources like hospital doctors (5 mSv/yr exposure limit)?
Beppe

Maju said...

It's crimes against Humankind (and more specifically against the Japanese People - not only but especially so) in the face.

A few hands control all resorts of power: government, large companies, media and even universities. The rest of us can blog and expected not to be taken too seriously. They call it "democracy" but it could well be called "1984", especially in regard to this last Ingsoc slogan:

"Ignorance is strength".

They also grafittied everywhere: "Don't think!"

Anonymous said...

@Arevamirpal: Is the way the yearly dose is calculated documented somewhere? What are the assumptions (% hours in the open, % at work, % at home, building attenuation factors, etc.) being made?

netudiant said...

This does smack of large scale human experimentation.
It is true that there are substantial inhabited areas in China, India, Iran and Brazil where ambient radioactivity is in the 20-50 mS/yr range, but the areas in Japan were much less radioactive previously, in the 1-5 mS/yr range. So the people returning are going home to a damaged environment, with possible long term genetic consequences. Is there any compensation for this or are they in fact at risk of losing compensation because 'they have been returned to their homes'?

Anonymous said...

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) continued to recommend in 2007 in their Publication 103:
For occupational exposure, 20 msv/yr exposure limit average, not to exceed 100 msv/yr in 5 years or 50 msv/yr in any one year.
For the general public, 1 msv/yr average; short-term higher exposure in special situations is permitted as long as the average over 5 years does not exceed 1 msv.
Of course, both of these are for PLANNED exposure.

I can't access the English version; here the link to the German version.
http://www.icrp.org/docs/P103_German.pdf

In the IAEA's 2011 version of "International Basic Safety Standards" (formerly known as BSS - no kidding), this is adapted and on page 90 (106 of the pdf version), one finds "Dose Limits for Planned Exposure Situation":
http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/p1531interim_web.pdf
III-1. For occupational exposure of workers over the age of 18 years, the dose limits are:
(a) An effective dose of 20 mSv per year averaged over five consecutive years (100 mSv in 5 years), and of 50 mSv in any single year ...,

[With this, one has to remember that these levels are for a highly controlled and individually monitored exposure.]
III-3. For public exposure, the dose limits are:
(a) An effective dose of 1 mSv in a year;
(b) In special circumstances, a higher value of effective dose in a single year could apply, provided
that the average effective dose over five consecutive years does not exceed 1 mSv per year ...
"

The IAEA also states on page 62/63 (document page number, page 78/79 in the pdf vesion) in regard to exposure limits for the public in an "existing exposure situation":
"All reasonable steps shall be taken to prevent doses remaining above the reference levels. Reference levels shall typically be expressed as an annual effective dose to the representative person in the range 1–20 mSv or other equivalent quantity..."

Of course, it is subject to interpretation if the latter is merely an explanation of how to publish the exposure level or if the numbers indicate the expectations of the IAEA re. maximum dose level.

In any case, how the Japanese government can possibly justify basically uncontrolled access to the contaminated areas, i.e., without monitoring of who goes/lives there and for how long, is beyond me.
*mscharisma*

Anonymous said...

Yeah the IAEA has all these guidelines for public safety BUT they are happy to give the Japanese a glowing assessment of their performance anyway. This goes to show just how useless the IAEA is and how meaningless a Nobel prize actually is in the face of cold hard facts. If the IAEA was actually worth a damn this would cause resounding condemnation.

Anonymous said...

Evil rules. So far, we have lost.
And it is not because good is not standing up.
We were fooled to think that if good could only stands up, then evil will loose.
That is not the case.
We need to fight evil to win, and not just stand up against it.
We are not organized, we are disparate, often not even trusted, while evil backpockets our taxes in huge "construction" or "energy" labeled profits at the expense of many who will lost their life and their health. They even use our money on PR and adds to promote their credibility.
A war is going on from casulty point of view and the means that evil is using to repress good.
The thruth is we lost. We are the guerilla, hoping. I even have to hide, because I know evil could see or hear me and strike, and strike it will.

Anonymous said...

Please, provide a source for the re-zoning initiative... this is crazy if it's true.

Anonymous said...

Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a reduced language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit free thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, peace, etc. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thoughtcrime,” “crimethink,” or “doublethink.”

*cumulative radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts or less per year will be called the "zone in preparation for having the evacuation order lifted*

*where people are free to go back and live (or I should say strongly encouraged to go back and live)*

*The areas with the expected cumulative radiation exposure of 20 to 50 millisieverts per year will be called the "zone with restricted entry" (居住制限区域) which only means cannot cannot stay there overnight but no problem if they want to commute to work there.*

*Only if the cumulative radiation exposure per year in the areas exceed 50 millisieverts, the areas are designated as "zone where it is difficult for people to return" (帰還困難区域), and people cannot go back at all until 5 years after the accident, meaning only three more years.*

*Baseless rumours* *Baseless rumours* Baseless rumours*

Anonymous said...


Duckspeak is a Newspeak term meaning literally to quack like a duck or to speak without thinking. Duckspeak can be good or "ungood" (bad) depending on who is speaking, and whether what they are saying aligns with the ideals of Big Brother. To speak rubbish and lies may be ungood, but to speak rubbish and lies for the good of The Party may be good. In the appendix to 1984, Orwell explains: “ Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all.

Anonymous said...

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever."[

Denys Vlasenko said...

> What happened to the 1 mSv/yr limit for the general population?

LOL, what?

Please be informed that *natural* background radiation level on the planet Earth in most places is between 2 and 5 mSv/yr.

Anonymous said...

Denys,

nothing to laugh really... Japanese law prescribes that the additional exposure (on top of background, medical etc) originating from civilian sources (npp, scrapped x-rays machines etc.) for the general population should be below 1mSv/yr, including both internal and external exposure.

Incidentally, background in most of Japan used to be well below 2mSv.

Beppe

Anonymous said...

The ICRP limit of 1 mSv/year is for non-accident situations (meaning, people living around research facilities or nuclear power plants working as planned.)

After a nuclear accident, the same organization recommends using 100-20 mSv/year, to avoid massive evacuations which in the end would kill more people, and faster at that, than the radiation itself (just imagine the conditions at the refugee camps if the have to evacuate millions out of Fukushima or Tochigi prefectures, specially considering that a quarter of the population in Japan is over 65 years old.)

Anonymous said...

>After a nuclear accident, the same organization recommends using 100-20 mSv/year

That's not entirely correct. That's for period immediately after the accident, not two or more years after the accident.

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