The Economist, Oct. 8, 2011
Radiation in Japan: Hot spots and blind spots
The mounting human costs of Japan’s nuclear disaster

The article discusses extremely high radiation levels (including Plutonium fall-out) in Iitate (28 miles from Fukushima) and its effects on the people there. According to government, an area larger than greater Tokyo received an annual radiation dose of at least five millisieverts, or over 0.5 microsieverts an hour and will need to be de-contaminated. The task his daunting. Radiation hotspots in parks (grass, soil, trees) and schools pose health risks for children.

[…] Every time a gust of wind blows, Mr Sato says it shakes invisible particles of radioactive caesium off the trees and showers them over the village. Radiation levels in the hills are so high that villagers dare not go near them. Mr Sato cannot bury his father’s bones, which he keeps in an urn in his abandoned farmhouse, because of the dangers of going up the hill to the graveyard.

Iitate had the misfortune to be caught by a wind that carried radioactive particles (including plutonium) much farther than anybody initially expected after the nuclear disaster. Almost all the 6,000 residents have been evacuated, albeit belatedly, because it took the government months to decide that some villages outside a 30km radius of the plant warranted special attention. Now it offers an extreme example of how difficult it will be to recover from the disaster.[…]

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