As the Japanese government moves to accelerate the return of Fukushima refugees to their homes, environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace warned Tuesday that radioactive contamination remains “so widespread and at such a high level” that it will be impossible for people to safely go back.
Four years after an earthquake and tsunami touched off the nuclear meltdown, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressing to lift evacuation orders by March 2017 and cut off compensation to victims of the disaster by 2018. The move would allow—and some say force—tens of thousands of refugees to go back to their homes.
The pro-nuclear prime minister says that the move, proposed in June, is aimed at speeding up Fukushima’s “reconstruction.”
Greenpeace, however, warns that such a development would be reckless and dangerous. The organization evaluated radiation contamination in Iitate, a forested 75-square-mile district in the Fukushima prefecture, and found that even after “decontamination,” the radiation level remains at 2uSv/h—or ten times the maximum deemed safe for the public.
“The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years.”
—Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace
“Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in,” said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium, in a press statement. “The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It’s impossible to decontaminate.”
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