Citizen Group Tracks Down Japan’s Radiation

Amid contradictory government statistics, a volunteer group has recorded 500,000 radiation points across the country.

The aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis has been marked by an outcry in Japan over radiation leaks, contaminated food and a government unable to put the public’s fears to rest.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the meltdown that resulted from March’s earthquake–triggered disaster, activists and citizens have said, is the uncertainty that has ensued.

In the months since the catastrophe, the Japanese government, its nuclear watchdogs and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), have provided differing, confusing, and at times contradictory, information on critical health issues.

Fed up with indefinite data, a group of 50 volunteers decided to take matters, and Geiger counters, into their own hands.

In April, an independent network of like-minded individuals in the Japan and United States banded together to form Safecast and began an ongoing crusade to record and publish accurate radiation levels around Japan.

The group handed out mobile radiation detectors and uploaded the readings to the internet to map out exposure levels.

Sean Bonner, director of Safecast, told Al Jazeera that volunteers have so far logged more than 500,000 radiation data points across Japan.

He said the group is the only organisation he knows that is tracking radiation on a local level. The findings, Bonner added, have been shocking.

“People keep asking how we are doing it, when the government isn’t,” he said.

Lack of information

Dr Yuko Yanagisawa, a 51-year-old physician at Funabashi Futawa Hospital in Chiba Prefecture, feels the government’s response to health concerns has been grossly inadequate.

In the area where Yanagisawa lives and works, approximately 200 km from Fukushima, unhealthy radiation levels have been recorded.

Read the full article at Al Jazeera English.

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