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NEWS ITEMS


Fukushima Schools Unsafe After Clean-Up
Detail: According to Greenpeace schools and surrounding areas located 60 km (38 miles) from Japan's tsunami-hit nuclear power plant were unsafe for children, showing radiation readings as much as 70 times internationally accepted levels. This is based on samples taken between August 17-19 at and near three schools in Fukushima city, well outside the 20 km exclusion zone from Tokyo Electric Power's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan's northeast.

"No parent should have to choose between radiation exposure and education for their child," said Kazue Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan's anti-nuclear project head.

The government had already taken steps to decontaminate schools in Fukushima prefecture, where the crippled plant has been leaking radiation since it was hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Calling the measures "deplorably late and inadequate," Greenpeace said it had found average dose rates above the maximum allowed under international standards, of 1 millisievert per year, or 0.11 microsievert per hour.

Greenpeace urged the government to delay reopening the schools as planned on September 1 after the summer break and relocate children in the most affected cities until decontamination was complete.

Fukushima city dismissed Greenpeace's calls, saying the schools were safe under the government's norms. "We're finished decontaminating the schools, and they no longer have high radiation levels," city official Yoshimasa Kanno said. He added that postponing the opening of more than 100 schools in the city based on Greenpeace's findings of "only three" would be unreasonable.

Despite the government's reassurances, parents have removed thousands of children from schools in Fukushima since the disasters, fearing damage to their health.

Underscoring such concerns, the government said this month that 45 percent of children living outside the evacuation zone in Fukushima were exposed to low levels of radiation though it was within safety levels.

Jan van de Putte, Greenpeace’s radiation expert, noted that cleaning up in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, about 100 km from Chernobyl, required hundreds of thousands of workers toiling over several months.
Source: Based on a story by Natalia Konstantinovskaya, editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Chris Gallagher, published on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 by Reuters
Date: September 14 2011