Air radiation in Fukushima returns to almost pre-disaster levels

Studies have shown that radiation has reduced significantly in most places, putting them on par with many major cities in the world

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2014 file photo, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) official wearing a radioactive protective gear stands in front of Advanced Liquid Processing Systems during a press tour at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.  Japan’s government approved a revised roadmap Tuesday, Sept.26, 2017,  to clean up the radioactive mess left at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after it was damaged beyond repair by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Decommissioning the damaged reactors is an uncertain process that is expected to take 30 to 40 years. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, Pool, File)

Air radiation levels across the Fukushima prefecture have significantly decreased since the accident took place in 2011.

Six months ago, 36 municipalities completed environmental remediation measures implemented by the national government. Prior to the disaster, radiation levels in Fukushima City were recorded as 0.04 millisievert – the amount of dose produced by exposure to the same number in milligray of radiation. In April 2011, that number peaked at 2.74 before dropping to 0.15 today.

In Aizuwakamatsu, in the east of the prefecture, levels went from 0.04 before the accident to 0.24 straight after and 0.05 today. On the coast in Iwaki City, figures recorded before the tragedy were at 0.05, followed by 0.66 after the incident and 0.06 today.

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Fukushima: a place still trying to move on from nuclear disaster six years ago

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“Fukushima City had the highest dose of radiation in the area,” said Seiichi Suzuki, president of the Fukushima Electric Power Company. “If you take a plane, you get a tenth of that radiation per hour. But both the government and power companies insisted and claimed they would control radiation safely.”

According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, radiation levels in Berlin stand at 0.07 this year, 0.04 in Paris, 0.10 in Singapore, 0.04 in New York, 0.12 in Seoul and 0.07 in Beijing.

Fukushima organisations are still in the process of carrying out decontamination measures. “We take out the whole soil and change it from another location, removing plants and substituting them,” he said. “Contaminated soil is now being moved into a facility built near the nuclear power plant and a thorough decontamination process is now under way, which is decreasing radiation levels.”

Residents are gradually moving back to areas where decontamination is complete.

“The speed in which they are coming back is slow,” said Masaru Nakaiwa, director-general of the Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute in Koriyama. “To speed this up, they have to find a good enough reason to gather people. Local residents are now more interested in renewables because of this.”