Environmental activist group Greenpeace reported Tuesday that government monitoring of radiation near the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is unreliable, and that some heavily populated areas are exposed to 13 times the legal limit of radiation.
Three Greenpeace radiation-monitoring teams traveled last week to Fukushima City to record and assess contamination threats, the organization reports.
A check of 40 monitoring posts between Oct. 16 and 19 showed that 75 percent of the radiation readings close to the posts were lower than readings for their immediate surroundings.
Contamination levels within 25 meters of the posts were up to six times higher than at the posts.
"Greenpeace found that in some parks and school facilities in Fukushima city, home to 285,000 people, radiation levels were above three microsieverts per hour," Agence France-Press reported. "Japan's recommended radiation limit is 0.23 microsieverts per hour."
Clean-up efforts have been "misguided," Greenpeace's Japan nuclear campaigner Kazue Suzuki said, according to AFP.
"One home or office may be cleaned up, but it is very unlikely that the whole area will be freed of radiation risks within the next few years," given the mountainous and heavily forested nature of the region, she said. "The government continues to downplay radiation risks and give false hope (of returning home) to victims of this nuclear disaster."
Concerns about the radiation are not new, and in March, Greenpeace found a newly installed radiation monitoring post that showed a "relatively low level of contamination," the organization reports. But the station was "placed smack in the middle of a small area that had been clearly decontaminated." Stepping asway from that immediate area, contamination levels "rose sharply."
Earlier this month, The Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned About Internal Radiation Exposures expressed concern that Japan's science ministry "manipulated its measurement of radiation levels in Fukushima Prefecture to show figures lower than they really were."
Greenpeace reports that during last week's trip, residents of the area spoke of a "distinct distrust" of information coming from the government, and little confidence in the government's ability to clean up the radiation.
Governent officials also told Greenpeace that they were "hamstrung" by a lack of workers, funding and "a lack of direction and engagement from the national government."
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