14/7 Tass 42
TOKYO, July 14 (Itar-Tass) — The authorities of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture intend to decontaminate the entire territory of the town with the same name, which is the administrative centre of the prefecture, Japanese media reported on Thursday.
The town of Fukushima with a population of 300 thousand people is located about 50 kilometres northwest of the Fukushima-1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant. After the accident at the plant radioactive contamination affected mainly the 20-kilometre zone around the NPP, but there is an increased radiation background also in the town of Fukushima. The average radiation level here is 1.18 microsieverts per hour, and the permissible rate for an average person is 0.05 – 0.2 microsieverts per hour. Checking of the soil in different parts of the city has also revealed a high content of radioactive cesium.
Within the framework of the programme for decontamination of the whole Fukushima territory, which is currently being prepared by the city government, it is planned to clean the top layer of contaminated soil and clean buildings with the use of powerful water cannons. Local residents will also be given advice on cleaning their own homes from radioactive substances.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). This accident is the largest of the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents arising from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and experts consider it to be the largest nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster, but more complex as multiple reactors are involved. Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear power industry executive who served as an expert witness in the investigation of the Three Mile Island accident, said that “Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind.”
Japanese officials initially assessed the accident as Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) despite the views of other international agencies that it should be higher. The level was successively raised to 5 and eventually to 7, the maximum scale value. The Japanese government and TEPCO have been criticized for poor communication with the public and improvised cleanup efforts. Experts have said that a workforce in the hundreds or even thousands would take years or decades to clean up the area. On 20 March, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that the plant would be decommissioned once the crisis was over.