Thursday, April 7, 2011

Soil, evacuation, and fishing update

Masashi sent the following e-mail yesterday.

"Yesterday (April 6), Fukushima prefecture released the results of the soil tests. The soil samples were taken from 70 sites within the prefecture. Again, soil taken from Iitate village has shown the highest level of cesium (15,301 Bq/kg) which is 150 times higher than the safe limit. Soil samples taken from 6 other municipalities also showed higher cesium than the safe limit. Based on these results, the prefectural government asked farmers in these areas not to start farming. Farmers living in other municipalities excluding 8 municipalities around the nuclear plant can start farming now. The prefectural government continues the soil study and will take soil samples again from these municipalities.

The Japanese government (Nuclear Safety Commission) is now providing new guidelines for evacuation. The upper limit for the accumulated exposure of radiation is 20 Sv/year. Even outside of the evacuation zone (less than 20 km from the nuclear plant) or indoor stay zone (20-30 km), the exposure exceeds this 20 Sv/year limit in some areas. Based on these new guidelines, on April 6, Iitate village decided to evacuate pregnant women and babies outside the village. They will be given shelters in Fukushima city provisionally for about one month. Since it seems to take time to complete the containment measures of radioactive materials at the power plant, Iitate village and other municipalities will need to take further actions to evacuate residents outside of these areas.

The fishing industry in Fukushima and now Ibaraki prefectures is severely affected by the power plant. Fish caught in the Pacific Ocean near Ibaraki showed high levels of radioactive cesium (526 Bq/kg). After this detection, all fishing activities are suspended in Ibaraki prefecture.

One of the hot topics yesterday (April 6) was criticism against action taken by officials of the power plant who poured contaminated water into the sea without prior notice to the prefectural government and fishing companies. After a series of detections of high level radioactive iodine and cesium in the sea water near Fukushima, consumption of raw fish is gradually affected by these incidents.

Radiation in fish caught off Ibaraki hits local fishing industry (Mainichi Daily News)"

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