15 February 2015
Airborne radiation at homes in the Yamakiya district of Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, has been reduced to an average of 0.53 microsievert per hour after the completion of residential decontamination by the Environment Ministry, down 49 percent from 1.04 microsieverts an hour prior to cleanup work. The preliminary average air radiation reading at 1 meter above ground was released on Feb. 14 by the ministry's Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration at a meeting with local residents at the town's health center.
Decontamination under the ministry's direct jurisdiction was completed by August last year for the 350 homes and surrounding forests in the Yamakiya district, but work on some 960 hectares including farmland and roads is to be conducted from now on.
"Once we proceed with decontamination of the farmland and other areas, it is possible that the air radiation dose in residences may fall further," said a senior official at the office.
According to the office, the highest radiation reading at the Yamakiya houses reached 1.75 microsieverts per hour, while the lowest dose was 0.18 microsievert an hour.
19 February 2015
The Japanese government on Feb. 18 lifted shipment restrictions on the last four types of vegetables produced in Naraha town and Kawauchi village, both previously no-go and evacuation zones in Fukushima Prefecture following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. As a result, all vegetables grown in the two municipalities can now be shipped for sale, in accordance with the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness.
The four types are leafy vegetables not forming heads such as spinach; leafy vegetables forming heads such as cabbage; flowering Brassicaceae such as broccoli; and turnips. In accordance with inspection guidelines for lifting shipment restrictions on garden crops, compiled in 2012, the Fukushima prefectural government twice inspected samples of the four types of vegetables produced at 11 locations each in the two municipalities between October and December last year.
As the amount of radioactive cesium in all samples tested turned out to be below the upper limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram as stipulated under the Food Sanitation Law, the prefecture requested the central government on Feb. 17 to lift the restriction. This was the second time for shipment restrictions on vegetables grown in former no-go and evacuation zones to be lifted following the first in the Miyakoji district of Tamura city in March 2013.
17 February 2015
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is set to allow workers to wear half masks or dust respirators instead of full-face protective gear in more areas of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, beginning in May, in the hopes of reducing the physical burden on workers. With the exception of areas within the vicinity of the Unit 1 to 4 reactors, zones not requiring full-face masks will be expanded to about 90 percent of the site by March next year, compared with the current 65 percent.
Meanwhile, full-face masks will still be required around above-ground tanks until the disposal of contaminated water stored there is completed. TEPCO has been working to reduce radiation levels at the site, including by paving the ground with asphalt, and made the decision to relax the rules after radiation levels in more areas fell below the dosage requiring the use of full-face masks.
Each day, about 7,000 people take part in operations to decommission the
Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Workers have complained about the full-face masks being stifling and getting fogged up by temperature fluctuations, thus compromising their workability.
In light of the situation, the Fukushima prefectural government’s committee monitoring the safety of plant decommissioning urged TEPCO to expand areas in which workers do not need to wear full-face masks out of concerns over work-related injury and accidents as well as expediting work progress.