Friday, August 19, 2011

High Radiation Right Next to Children's Swimming Pool in Kawasaki City

The government authorities, whether national or municipal, say they've been measuring the radiation at parks and schools where children go, but they've been criticized for picking the least contaminated locations to measure.

Here's a case in Kawasaki City, where a citizens' group measured on their own, found a high radiation location in a park that the city said it had measured, and alerted the city about the highly radioactive dirt right next to the swimming pool that children are using since early July.

From Kanagawa Shinbun local site (8/18/2011):


Kawasaki City announced it measured 0.90 microsievert/hour at the side of the swimming pool in Hirama Park in Kamihirama, Nakahara-ku (special ward), exceeding the target level of 0.19 microsievert/hour set by the Ministry of Education and Science. According to the [Kanagawa] prefectural crisis management division, it is the highest level of air radiation measured in Kanagawa.


The city collected the dirt from the location to have it analyzed, and 12,400 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found. The city has decided to close the swimming pool temporarily, starting August 19.


The national government allows sewer sludge to be buried as long as the amount of radioactive materials is 8,000 becquerels/kg and lower. The city has put the plastic tarp over the dirt, and will decide how to dispose the radioactive dirt after consulting with the experts.


The location where the high radiation was measured is right next to the building in which the dressing rooms for the swimming pool users are located. The poolside is just beyond the fence nearby. According to the park management, the area is used to store collected leaves. After cleaning the pool on July 7 to prepare for the pool opening, the leaves and dirt were stored in the 15 square-meter area.


The citizen volunteer group "Peace and Smile Project Kawasaki" measured the near-surface radiation in this area on August 14, which measured 0.50 microsievert/hour at 5 centimeters off the ground. The group alerted the city. When the city measured the same area on August 15, it was 0.66 microsievert/hour (5 centimeters off the ground), and it was 0.90 microsievert/hour on August 18. The radiation levels at the pool entrance and the pool side were below the target level.


The park management says, "We don't know why the radiation is so high in this area".


Kawasaki City measured the radiation levels at 447 locations including parks and schools in June, but they were all below the target level [of 0.19 microsievert/hour]; the maximum level measured was 0.17 microsievert/hour.


Anonymous said...

Just an FYI a friend of mine found this radiation dispersion pattern simulation:

It is a bit unclear for which dates the simulation is for BUT it seems to get updated. I checked it last night, and this morning and the simulation was different now. I actually e-mailed the website about the dates of the simulation (ie verify if it was updated everyday) but have not gotten any response yet.

I do not know the accuracy of the data, but I'm posting it just an FYI.

Anonymous said...

off topic, here is an interview with Shunichi Yamashita in the German Spiegel Magazine:

"People Are Suffering from Radiophobia",1518,780810,00.html

Kyotoresident said...

Although 0.9 micro sieverts per hour sounds high, according to my calculations, even if children were exposed to this level of radiation 24 hours a day 365 days a year, they would receive less than 8 millisieverts which is much less than the 20 millisievert limit for kids set by the govt.

Is this level high? Is the government level really safe? I think we need advice from independent experts

Anonymous said...

>Is this level high?

Is that a trick question?

Anonymous said...

Of course you know how much is the legal safety limit? Do you remember the reason why Prof. Kosako resigned from his position with tears in his eyes?

Kyotoresident said...

I was just trying to point out that According to govt safety limit, it is not high. I wonder what levels other experts consider high.

FigNewton said...

Hi Kyotoresident.

Actually, the original safety limit for children was 1 milliseiverts per year. The Japanese government conveniently changed this after the meltdowns to 20 millisieverts; same limit as someone working at a nuclear plant.

This caused an uproar, including Kosaka-san resigning, so they changed it back to the original limit of 1 millisievert.

So yes, 8 millisieverts is high and 8 times what is currently (and originally) allowed. (Anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong on how I remember this.)

Kyotoresident said...

Thanks Fignewton
I see. The original was one millisievert.
My gut instinct is that 20 millisieverts is way too high. But I have no knowledge or evidence to back that up with.
However, I can't help feeling 1 millisievert is unrealistically low. It works out at 0.12 microsieverts per hour. Again this is my calculation. Plz correct me if I'm wrong.
Background radiation is higher than that in many parts of Japan.

Anonymous said...

Background radiation is higher than that in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

It's still set at 20mSv/yr.

Normal background in most of Japan is < 0.1µSv/h. Of course there are areas in the world where natural BG is higher, but that's not the point because "natural" and three meltdown & exploded & generally screwed reactors aren't the same thing.

I'd have higher radiation from stuff that's been around since Big Bang over lower from Fukushima fallout any day.

Anonymous said...

there is a law/rule that doesn't allow people under 18 to be at workspaces over 0,6 microsievert/h

Auto Repair Phoenix said...

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Financial Collapse said...

Love the Ultra Man Picture!

FigNewton said...

For Anon @ 6:12am.

Yeah. From what I've read, natural background radiation isn't the same as nuclear meltdown radiation.

Also, according to the NY Times on May 27th, children's radiation limit was reduced to 1 millisievert due to public anger:

'.. There had been particular anger over new government guidelines that allowed schoolchildren to be exposed to radiation doses that were more than 20 times the previously permissible levels. That dose is equal to the international standard for adult nuclear power plant workers.

The education minister, Yoshiaki Takaki, said Friday that the government would, for the time being, revert to the original limit of 1 millisievert a year.'..

Kyotoresident said...

An annual limit doesn't really help parents make decisions anyway. In the end the best way to check radiation levels is using a Geiger counter.

I agree that reactor radiation is probably different to natural occurring radiation but I don't know that they can be distinguished when using a measuring device.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Kyotoresident, the natural background radiation in Kanagawa before Fukushima accident was less than 0.04 microsievert/hour. Anything above that is artificial - i.e. thanks to Fukushima plant.

@FigNewton, no, the Ministry did no such thing. They only say they will strive to reduce the radiation level for kids to the old level of 1 millisievert/year. 

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