Japan nuclear crisis: IAEA, Greenpeace report high contamination outside evacuation zone


Consequences of the nuclear crisis in Japan continue to expand. The March 11 quake and tsunami left 28,000 people dead or missing, and triggered a series of increasingly grave problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Separately, both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Greenpeace have measured radioactivity levels outside the exclusion zone that exceed the limits established by the government of Japan.

From the IAEA’s update, which includes details on the data readings and locations:

The highest values were found in a relatively small area in the Northwest from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. First assessment indicates that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village. We advised the counterpart to carefully access the situation. They indicated that they are already assessing.

These findings may add to pressure for the government of Japan to widen the exclusion zone beyond 20 kilometers (12 miles) around the Fukushima power plant.

In related news, earlier today smoke was seen rising from electrical equipment in the turbine building at the No.1 reactor of the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant.

PHOTO—CLICK FOR LARGE: A medical staff screens a boy for signs of radioactivity contamination at an evacuation center in Fukushima, northern Japan, on March 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

UPDATE: a clarification for BB, from Dave Walsh at Greenpeace:

Our measurements were comparable to that of the Japanese authorities – where we differed was on the action that should be taken. Our criticism is that the 20km evacuation zone is too arbitrary, and doesn’t take into account pockets of high radioactivity elsewhere. The high levels of radioactivity in places like Iitate are high enough that anyone spending time there would get the maximum allowable annual dose in just few days. So, although our measurements are in line with the authorities, we’re advocating evacuation of places that they are not.