Forest areas fit for logging in 3 Fukushima municipalities hit by nuke fallout top 50%

2 May 2016

An analysis of midair radiation data over selected forest locations in three municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture hit by radioactive fallout from the 2011 nuclear accident has found more than half of them to be less contaminated than the maximum limit of 0.50 microsievert per hour set by the prefectural government as a standard for forests fit for logging. The analysis, undertaken by the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Lumber Cooperative Associations on the basis of official radiation data, covered nearly 5,700 forest sites in Tamura city, Naraha town and Kawauchi village, where evacuation zones have been removed entirely or partially.

The number of forest locations less polluted than the limit increased by more than 1,000 points to reach 57.6% of the total covered, which was surveyed for a period of nearly two months from September to November in 2015. The federation, which estimated forest areas fit for logging on the basis of the analysis, is poised to seek national and prefectural assistance for the resumption of deforestation, which will require reduction in workers’ exposure to radiation and nurturing of human resources.

Challenge: How to reduce loggers’ radiation exposure

The federation analyzed airborne radiation data collected by Nuclear Regulation Authority-commissioned aircraft that measured radioactive levels in midair zones, each separated by an equal space. The analysis, which excluded street zones, covered a total of 5,694 forest locations -- 1,619 in Tamura’s Miyakoji district, 1,269 in Naraha and 2,806 in Kawauchi. These areas were surveyed from Sept. 12 to Nov. 4 last year.

The federation compared the 2015 data with similar radiation readings collected from the same locations between Sept. 1 and Nov. 7, 2014. It found that radiation dosages were below the prefectural limit at 3,278 locations in 2015, up 1,106 from the previous year. These forest zones, judged to be fit for logging and raw wood shipment, were 1.5 times the number for 2014, which was 2,172, or 38.1%, of the total.

(Translated by Kyodo News)