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Amid high radiation, Fukushima residents urged to return home

Staff Writer |
Japan has urged residents of Fukushima to return to the nuclear disaster site despite “unacceptable radiation risk.”

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This is according to the Japanese arm of the non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace.

The Japanese government will lift the evacuation order for the 6,000 residents of Iitate village on March 31 — six years after a tsunami triggered the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

According to Greenpeace, the radiation levels in nearby forests are similar to those in the nearly 19 mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl — the site of the worst nuclear accident in the history of humankind.

The radiation levels in Iitate are still above government targets and are likely to pose long-term health risk to those who decide to live in the area.

Greenpeace Japan calculated the average annual radiation exposure rate by taking measurements of houses around the area, collecting soil samples and recovering personal dose badges that were installed in two houses last February.

The team found average radiation exposure in Iitate to be between 39 millisieverts (mSv) and 183mSv over the course of 70 years, starting March 2017.

The numbers exceed yearly guidelines set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, which says a maximum recommended annual radiation exposure for public is 1mSv.

Despite the high levels, the Japanese government declared that the decontamination program had been completed, and that it would stop monetary compensation to Iitate residents next year.

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