Radiation levels in some localities around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have dropped to well under the government standard of 20 millisieverts per year, according to the latest survey findings, which are consistent with the Abe administration’s intention to lift evacuation orders at the earliest possible dates.
However, the final report on the government survey, released April 18, shows that Fukushima evacuees will be exposed to radiation levels exceeding the government’s long-term target of 1 millisievert per year after they return to their homes.
In particular, individual radiation doses for returnees to Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, where the evacuation order could be lifted as early as July, are estimated to be 3 millisieverts a year.
While an evacuation order for the Miyakoji district in the prefecture’s Tamura city was lifted earlier this month, those working in the forest industry in the district are calculated to be exposed to 2.3 millisieverts of radiation per year, according to the survey results. The report also estimates that farmers and teachers in the district will annually receive radiation doses of 0.9 to 1.2 millisieverts and 0.7 millisievert, respectively.
The government’s decontamination work is aimed at bringing radiation levels in contaminated areas to within 20 millisieverts a year before it gives the go-ahead for residents to return, and eventually to 1 millisievert or less.
Still, some Fukushima evacuees have called for readings to be brought down to 1 millisievert or less as early as possible, and fear exposure to annual radiation levels higher than 1 millisievert.
The Cabinet Office’s working team in charge of assisting the lives of nuclear disaster victims asked the National Institute of Radiological Sciences and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to measure air dose rates and estimate individual radiation doses in Fukushima Prefecture’s three municipalities of Tamura, Kawauchi and Iitate.
The two agencies conducted a survey in the municipalities’ farmland, mountains, forests, private residences and schools between August and September 2013, and calculated individual radiation exposure by occupation and other categories. The two government-affiliated bodies compiled a midterm report in October last year.
But the government had initially withheld the findings because the midterm report just contains “basic data obtained in the process of investigation,” according to the Cabinet Office.
As The Asahi Shimbun and other parties made inquiries about the findings, the governmental working team released the midterm report on the website of the industry ministry earlier this month.