Government Reporting on Nuclear Risks: Examining the Recent Forest Fires in Fukushima No-Go Zone

The forest fires in the exclusion zone in Fukushima, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP), were extinguished on May 10 after having burnt 75 hectares in 12 days, spreading from Namie to Futaba.


The wildfires raised a number of questions about the radiation related health hazards and the ways the information was treated by the Fukushima prefectural government and the mass media.


Fukushima prefecture maintained the attitude of under-evaluating the possible impact of the fire in regard to the dispersion of radioactive substances. Major media transmitted the Fukushima government’s official comments, and an exceptional local newspaper, Kii Minpo (Wakayama prefecture), had to apologize after having received complaints and criticism for its column alerting the local population to the dispersion of radioactive substances by the fire, and saying that the government as well as the national newspapers are too dismissive of the radioactive dispersal problem.


However, when it comes to the news source, the only one on which mass media as well as social media can rely for the moment is the radiation measurement results published by Fukushima Prefecture.


Before the results of the measurements by civil groups come out, they are the only values we have. But then, these results are accompanied by comments of the Fukushima prefecture. So there are measurements, but there is also their evaluation.


We will go through both of them to shed light on the facts but also on the government’s attitude to minimize or even ignore or deny the health hazard risks related to this fire which, if recognized, would question the lifting of the evacuation order, which authorizes the return of the population in the neighboring areas. This questioning would be very inconvenient for both the central and the local governments.


The relevant data in this kind of situation is the measurement of radioactive nuclides contained in the dust in the air. This is precisely what Fukushima prefecture published right after the breakout of the fire.


Nonetheless, this information is preceded by the airborne radiation dose measurement with the comment: “there is no change in the radiation dose” (see Graph 1&2, Table 1 of the picture below). This has certainly a strong effect to ease the worry of the population, and most of the media transmit the message that “there is no change in the radiation dose.”  This comment hides the fact of significant changes in the contamination levels in the dust in the air seen in the last table, which isn’t accompanied by a graph which would more clearly show the changes.


However, in the context of environmental radio-contamination, where the internal irradiation risk has to be taken into account, looking only at the airborne radiation dose can be fatally misleading, as it is only  a measurement to decide if you need to protect yourself against external radiation.  But even TEPCO itself established its workers’ radioprotection policy based on the view that both external and internal radiation protections are necessary. On this point, please see our article “Forest fire in the exclusion zone in Fukushima: Why monitoring the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection”, and in particular the table showing 12 zones which necessitate corresponding radioprotection methods.  The 12 zones are defined by the combination of the different levels of both airborne radiation dose, in Sieverts/time, and the environmental contamination density in Becquerels (surfaces: Bq/cm2 and air: Bq/cm3).

しかし、内部被曝のリスクを伴う環境汚染がある場合には、空間線量率だけを見ていると大変な片手落ちになり、間違いに陥ります。空間線量率は外部被曝からの防護のためは有効ですが、放射線防護の観点からは、それだけでは不十分です。事実、東京電力では作業者の安全のために、まさにこの観点に立って空間線量率と環境汚染の両者をカバーする政策を取っています。この点については、このサイトの和英併記記事“Forest fire in the exclusion zone in Fukushima: Why monitoring the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection”をご参照ください。特に記事に記載してある、東電作業者の放射線防護のための管理区域の区域区分の表をご覧ください。この表にある12区分は、シーベルト/時間であらわされる空間線量率のレベルと、ベクレルで表される(表面の場合はBq/cm2、空気の場合はBq/cm3)環境汚染密度/濃度のレベルの組み合わせで定義されています。

Keeping this in mind, and also the fact that only Cesium 134 and 137 have been measured, let’s look at the change of the values (see images below of Info May 12, page 3) as well as the map of the monitoring stations in relation to the fire site (idem, page 4, the site being the big red circle).
We clearly see the increase in measurement values at 3 stations (#5, 6, 7) on May 8 and May 11.


福島県HP 5月12日山林火災データ_Page_1

福島県HP 5月12日山林火災データ_Page_2

福島県HP 5月12日山林火災データ_Page_3

However, as we have mentioned above, this table appears in page 3, after the data in the pages 1 and 2 which show the stability of the values. Of the above 4 tables and graphs only the last table shows significant increases in radioactive dust in the air.  And there is no graph for the last table.  Is that because it would clearly show great changes?  The way in which data are presented can influence how you respond to a crisis.


What are the comments of Fukushima prefecture accompanying the results? The following may be a tedious process, but please be patient so that you can judge for yourself the Fukushima government’s attitude toward secondary dispersal of radioactive elements, which is revealed through these comments.
We will start with the comments of May 5.
Bold letter format, for emphasis, was added by the translator.




Comment May 5

“According to the measurement results of the survey meters near Mount Jyuman, the scene of the fire, no change has been noted compared to the result of the day before (table 1).
As for the airborne radiation dose measurements, no change has been noted compared to the measurements of before the fire (Graph 1).
The measurement results of the dust in the air near the Mount Jyuman were between ND and 1.97mBq/m3 (table 2). The measures of the Yasuragi so (Elderly people’s home Yasuragi) in Namie and those of Ishikuma Community Center increased, but as the data are still scarce, we will continue to monitor the change as well as that of the airborne radiation dose.
As for the measurement values of the dust in the air by the monitoring posts installed by the prefecture (Translator’s note: since before the fire), no change in values has been noted in relation to those of before the fire.”

Here is the comment of May 9.



“Since May 5 portable monitoring posts have been installed at three places near Mount Jyuman, the site of the fire, and we measure those daily. Their results as well as the measurement results of the pre-existing survey meters do not show any change compared to those of the day before (Graph 1, Table 1).

The results of the measurement of the airborne radiation dose by the monitoring posts installed near the fire scene since before the fire do not show any significant change compared to values of before the fire (Graph 2).

On the other hand, the results of the measurement of Cs 137 in the dust in the air near the Mount Jyuman are between 1.35 and 7.63mBq/m3. We are not able to judge the cause for the moment, but in addition to the penetration of the fire to the sedimentary layer of fallen leaves, which is the peculiarity of this wildfire, strong winds of the west which interfered with the operation of the helicopter, was observed throughout the day, so the influence of the upheaval of the dust and the incineration ash in the vicinity of the measurement point cannot be denied.”

Finally, the comment of May 12.


“Yesterday (May 11), the measurement results of the dust in the air were between 0.80 and 15.55mBq/m3. (The maximum value before was that of May 8: 7.63mBq/m3). We are not able to judge the cause for the moment. With these data and the coming results of the survey conducted by the Forestry Agency, we will evaluate the influence to the surrounding area, taking into account experts’ opinions. As for the dust monitor installed with the pre-existing monitoring post since before the fire, no difference in the measurements is noted.

(For information)
The internal irradiation dose would be 0,0063 mSv/year if one inhales continuously the air containing 20mBq/m3 of Cs 137. This value corresponds to about 1/100 of 0,48 mSv/year* which is the internal irradiation dose due to the inhalation of radioactive substances existing in the natural environment. The value is sufficiently small.
*source: “The new edition of Daily Life Environmental Radiation (Radiation calculation of the national population) (Japan Nuclear Safety Research Association, December, 2011″

(end quote)

When we look at the wording, it is clear that the Fukushima prefecture consistently tries to deny the dispersion of radioactive materials and convey the information to minimize the risk of health damage without even mentionning the word “health”. With the quite spectacular increase to 15.55mBq/m3, no mention is made of a possible health hazard risk.
The last comment about the internal irradiation is added to reassure the population that there is minimal radiation risk due to the forest fires. Is this so ?


Let’s now look at two points to question these comments from the prefecture and the attitudes that they imply.

  1. Are the measurements significantly higher than those of before the fire ? Or is the increase insignificant?
  2. Are the radioactive substances in the ground likely to become airborne because of the fire and after the fire ?


  1. 発表された測定値は火災以前の測定値と比べて憂慮しないといけないほど高い数値なのか、それとも無視できるくらいの上昇なのか?
  2. 放射性物質は火災により舞い上がり、火災中、また火災以後、拡散する可能性があるのか?

We will refer to two sources here. For the first point, we refer to the comments of M. Yoichi Ozawa of Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project, published in his FB page of May 10. For the second we will turn to the article by Shun Kirishima published in Syu Pre News on May 14.


Yoichi Ozawa’s comments:

フクシマ原発事故前の2010年文部科学省のセシウム137全国平均値は、0.00012 mBq/m3 です。

According to the MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), the average amount of Cs137 measured throughout Japan on 2010, that is to say before the accident of the FDNPP, was 0.00012 mBq/m3.
(Translator’s note: The report of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of 2010, Collection of articles of the 53rd research and study on the environmental radioactivity, p.20) (in Japanese).

Report P19 Fallout

Report P20 dust in the air


今回の浪江町森林火災の 7.63 mBq/m3 は、63,583倍の数値です。

The value of 7.63 mBq/m3 (Translator’s Note : the maximum value of May 8. The maximum value increased thereafter) measured this time during the forest fire in Namie is 63,583 times higher in relation to the above average value of the year 2010.

もう一つ、北隣の南相馬市の「広報みなみそうま」の3月後半のデータでは、0.053 mBq/m3 が最大値で、0.021 mBq/m3が平均値とされています。この平均値でも、フクシマ原発事故前より100倍以上も高く、健康影響が心配されるレベルです。

Another piece of data we can refer to comes from Kôhô Minamisoma (Newsletters from Minamisoma) which reports the measurement values of the dust in the air of the last two weeks of March 2017. Minamisoma city is located in the north of Namie. According to these data, the maximum value is 0.053 mBq/m3, and the average value is 0.021 mBq/m3. Even this average value is 100 times higher compared to the value of before the Fukushima Daiichi accident. This is already significantly high for health hazards.



今回の浪江町森林火災の数値は、南相馬市の 10 ~ 100 倍のレベル、フクシマ原発事故前の 1,000 ~ 数万倍の汚染レベルを示しているものです。

The measurement values related to the forest fires in Namie are 10 – 100 times higher than the values of Minamisoma of March 2017, and several 10,000 times higher compared to those before the FDNPP accident.


The extinction of the fire does not mean that we are secure. When the air gets dry, the radioactive particles can become airborne and cause internal irradiation when ingested. Furthermore, the values cited above are only those of gamma rays of Cesium. We know that there are radioactive nuclides emitting alpha and beta rays. The internal irradiation of these radioactive nuclides is very dangerous.
(end quote)


Now let’s have a look of the article of Kirishima on the possibility of the scattering of the radioactive materials.


Extract :


In fact, was there no risk of radioactive material scattering with this wildfire? Professor Susumu Ogawa of the Nagasaki University Graduate School of Engineering says, “Cesium is definitely flying.”


“The fire site is such a contaminated area that people cannot live there. It seems that the leaves and soils under the trees were absorbed in large quantities of cesium. If there is a fire, since the melting point of cesium is 28°C, it becomes a gas by heat, and it is dispersed in the sky. Then, it is cooled and is blown in the wind like pollen while becoming a particle shape. How far it scatters after that depends on the wind speed and direction. If a strong west wind blows, it will fly to the Pacific Ocean, but the nearby settlements will be contaminated if the wind is weaker. “


In addition, Professor Hiroshi Okochi of the Waseda University Science and Engineering Institute points out the example of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.


“Two years ago, in 2015, a large-scale fire occurred in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and it is known that Cesium 137 was detected 10 times more than the reference value from the nearby monitoring post. Similarly, though we cannot know exactly before an investigation, there is the possibility of the scattering of radioactive materials in the forest areas in Fukushima also.”


Professor Okochi’s research group will begin an investigation near the fire site in Fukushima prefecture soon. It can be verified that radioactive scattering has occurred if the analysis of the dust taken from the air shows that it contains a particle named levoglucosan, which is generated when the plant is thermally decomposed with Cesium.


If the cesium is flying, the concern is how far it is dispersed and its effect on the human body.


According to the Fukushima prefecture, “the amount of cesium dust obtained by the measurement near the site is up to 7.63mBq/m3. This is a level that has almost no effect on health (Radiation management section)”. A milli Bq is 1/1000 of a Bq. The Prefecture’s stance is that there is no need to worry because it is a negligible amount. This implies that the Fukushima prefectural government would not take any particular action nor caution the surrounding residents.


On the other hand, Professor Ogawa points out that it is dangerous to judge only by the measurements of three monitoring emplacements.


“We cannot say definitely that ‘there is no fear of irradiation’, when we consider that a great amount of cesium can pour into a small place in a short period of time, as in the case of a hotspot. The same can be said for the evaluation saying that there is no scattering because there is no change in the values of the monitoring post. People living downwind should be careful. “


A strong wind blows often from the west to the east in Fukushima prefecture blowing over the Ohu mountain range. At five kilometers to the northeast from Mount Jyuman, there are areas in Namie where the evacuation orders were lifted, and people are living there.
(end quote)


So the measurements that are known already at this point are much higher compared to the values of the average of 34 prefectures before the nuclear accident, or those of the vicinity before the fires, and it is very probable that cesium is scattered by the fire.


The way that Fukushima prefecture presents the measurement data deliberately emphasizes the airborne radiation dose and its stability, hiding the fact that the measurements of radioactive dust in the air show strong variation. It also conveys the implicit message that if the airborne radiation dose is stable, in terms of Sieverts, there is no need to worry. However, as we have seen above, we have to take into account the environmental contamination also measured in terms of Bequerels. Since the FDNPP accident, the myth of security (that there can’t be any accident) seems to be replaced by a myth of Sieverts, which hides the risk of internal irradiation, while erasing the problems of hotspots and hot particles in the air.


Opening the area for its population to return to be exposed to such risks and furthermore without informing them about the risks and the measures to protect themselves can hardly be justified. It can be endangering many people.



Read more

Fire crews finally extinguish Fukushima blaze in no-go zone as officials battle radiation rumors, Japan Times, May 11, 2017

Taminokoe Shimbun  民の声新聞 (in Japanese), articles of May 2, 4, 8, 10, 12 and 16. The article of May 2 is published in our blog in English. (Wildfires in Namie, Fukushima 311 Voices, May 2, 2017)

Wildfires in Fukushima: reliable data or disinformation?, Fukushima 311 Voices, May 7, 2017

12日間もの長い間燃え続けた、福島県浪江町の山火事を巡る、報道と市民の態度について考えたこと (in Japanese), May 12, 2017



Forest fire in the exclusion zone in Fukushima: Why monitoring the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection

It was announced that the forest fire in Namie was reduced on May 6. Today, on May 7, we still do not have confirmation of the fire’s extinction. Meanwhile, surfing on the internet, we have noticed that many people were looking for radiation dose information, and relied on it for radioprotection.


Since we also received several questions and comments, we have decided to publish additional comments of M.Yoichi Ozawa of “Fukuichi (Fukushima Daiichi) Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, seen below.




In order to protect yourself from radiation, you must take into account both the radiation dose and the contamination. In the case of the radiation dose, you can imagine something like fixed paint. It requires radioprotection measures against external exposure. For example, in a high-dose place, you control the amount of exposure by staying a shorter period of time. The dose is expressed by units like Sv/h.


Contamination is like a floating powder, which can enter the body by breathing, eating and drinking, and cause internal irradiation. The radioprotection requires equipment such as clothes and masks. Contamination is taken into account in terms of the surface contamination density and the concentration of radioactive substances in the air.


The surface contamination density is the radioactivity per unit area, where radioactive materials are deposited or absorbed on the surface of the material. It is expressed by units such as Bq/cm2 and Bq/m2.


The concentration of radioactive material in the air is expressed by units such as Bq/cm3 or Bq/m3.

下記は2011年3月に事故を起こした東電福島第一原発で 使われている放射線防護教育用テキスト中の図ですが、放射線防護の方法をエリアによって段階的に分けています。表の行は空間線量、列は汚染(表面汚染密度と空気中の放射性物質の濃度)です。この組み合わせによって、1A区域から3D区域まで12区域に分かれていて、放射線防護対策が作業員に適応されています。

The following is a table in the radioprotection training textbook used in the crippled TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The radioprotection is staged according to the classified areas. The lines in the table show the radiation dose, whereas the columns show contamination (in terms of the surface contamination density and the concentration of radioactive substances in the air). The combination gives 12 areas from 1A to 3D areas, and the radioprotection measures for workers are adapted accordingly.
For example, in the D areas workers are provided with a full mask and an oxygen cylinder.


Capture d_écran 2017-05-08 à 00.13.56


Similarly, in the regions affected by the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, we must consider the means of radioprotection by taking into account both the radiation dose and contamination.


In the case of environmental contamination, the air contamination density changes according to conditions such as fire, wind, and rain. Therefore, to protect ourselves, we need to monitor continuously not only during but also after the fire.

また、モニタリングポストやエアーダストサンプリングで示しているのは、セシウム137 に代表されるガンマ線だけです。内部被ばくにおいてもっと有害なベータ線を出すストロンチム90やアルファ線を出すプルトニウム239 は計測していません。 分量はともかく、これらが舞い上がっているのは確かで、内部被ばくの危険性は無視できません。

Furthermore, it has to be noted that monitoring post and air dust sampling show only gamma rays represented by cesium 137. Strontium 90 and plutonium 239 which emit beta and alpha rays that are most damaging in cases of internal irradiation are not measured. Aside from the question of the amount, these are certainly floating, and the risk of internal exposure cannot be ignored.


The scandalous deficiency of the health scheme in Fukushima

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima

New data show massive radiation levels in Odaka, Minamisoma

Please refer to the contamination map of the areas where the evacuation orders were lifted from last year to this year.
In light of this map and the TEPCO manual, you can see that there are many places in the area where you can return, and where you should wear heavy equipment with a full mask if you were a worker in a nuclear power plant.

The scandalous deficiency of the health scheme in Fukushima

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima

New data show massive radiation levels in Odaka, Minamisoma


In such an environment, ordinary people without a manual, nor professional radioprotection training are allowed to return, including babies and pregnant women.



In addition, whereas the workers are protected by the radiation protection standards shown in the table, in the context of minimization of the accident, residents are exposed to highly radio-contaminated environments without equipment.

If you think about it, it just does not make sense.

Wildfires in Fukushima: reliable data or disinformation?

The forest fire in the Ide area of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, which occurred on April 29, has been going on for almost a week.


See video 消火活動動画
Video and photo sources 写真と動画の出典 : 陸上自衛隊第6師団; JGSD 6th Division

The major media reported it at the time of the outbreak, but except for some local television news, the fire has not been covered much. Furthermore, the news does not pop out immediately on web sites, and we have to make a considerable effort to find the information. Let’s keep in mind that most of the nuclear accident victims have only cellphones, and not PCs, which makes it very difficult to search for the information if it involves several clicks and the opening of PDF documents.


The danger of the secondary dispersion of the radioactive substances is not mentioned at all in the announcement of Fukushima prefecture (see the picture below).


Equally, no mention is made about the danger on its homepage.


This is the announcement from Fukushima prefecture. The danger of the secondary dispersion of radioactive substances is not given to the residents, though it’s said that there is the possibility of repression of the fire.



As for the media, about the secondary dispersion of the radioactive substances that accompanies the fire, they say that there is no change in the radioactivity measurement values at present, and that there is nothing to worry about. The local newspaper Fukushima Minyu (in Japanese) calls for attention to the hoax about radiation risk.


The information source of the risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive substances used by the media is the data of airborne radioactivity measurements by monitoring posts and the airborne dust measurement published on the Fukushima prefecture website. 


For those who have difficulties to open the PDF files, please look at the pictures below.


data dust page 1

data dust page 2

data dust page 3

Are these data reliable?


In addition, the public relations of Fukushima prefecture as well as the major media say that there is no influence on inhabitants’ life and health because there is little variation in the airborne radioactivity measurements. Do the measurement values of the individual dosimeters or of the nearby monitoring post help the residents to judge the situation?


Currently, the “Fukuichi (Fukushima Daiichi) Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project” group and “Chikurin-sha” are collecting the data of airborne dusts by setting up linen and dust samplers.


We have received comments from Mr Yoichi Ozawa of the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, that we are reporting below.


___ ___   ___  ___  ___

A. 空間線量率(Sv/h)だけを見ていてはだめ

・代表機種は、周辺の環境を除染後に設置し地表高1メートルを測定するモニタリングステーション(MP )です

A. Airborne radioactivity measures in terms of sievert are not appropriate.
“The problem is of that of the increased radio-contamination”

-The sievert is a measure of the health effect of ionizing radiation on the human body, and not a unit of measure of the environmental contamination (becquerel).
-It evaluates how much pollution has come in with the radioactive plume.
-The representative measuring device is a monitoring post (MP) that measures the radiation dose at one meter from the ground. The monitoring posts are installed after the decontamination work of the surrounding environment.
-MP measures only gamma rays, beta and alpha rays are not covered, and thus it is not suitable for environmental contamination evaluation.
-MP gives an average of 10 minutes measurements. Consequently, the result cannot reflect the passage of radio-contaminated plumes of a few seconds.
-Even if the dose is high, if there is less contamination, the fear of internal irradiation is less.

B. 福島県の大気中浮じんの発表データの信頼性


B. Reliability of the data on airborne dust published by Fukushima.

-The time period of the plume collecting in the environment is too short. The air is flowing.
In normal nuclear facilities, dust sampling takes about 20 minutes. It is because all air in the sealed room is absorbed in this time. However, it is not possible to absorb all air in the open environnent. Therefore, it takes a long time to collect the dust and to measure it. In our case, it takes us a week for sampling and from 2 to 4 days for measurement.
-The measurement time is too short. They should continue measuring until cesium 134 is detected.
-The result should be compared to the data before the accident.
-We cannot help thinking that all data are organized in such a way that they are either under the lowest limit (marked as ND – Non Detected) or they conform to the new standards.

リネンは10ヶ所、エアーダストサンプラーは2ヶ所で稼働しています。 リネンの設置は、「ふくいち周辺…」のように、火災現場を取り囲んでいます。浪江町、双葉町、大熊町、田村市、葛尾村、南相馬市のように、全体的に取り囲んでいます。

We have installed linen cloths at 10 locations and air dust samplers in 2 places. The installation of linen surrounds the fire scene, like in the case of usual measurements of “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”. They are installed in Namie Town, Futaba Town, Okuma Town, Tamura City, Katsurao village, and Minami Soma City, surrounding the scene of the forest fire (Mount Jyuman in the map).

good map jyuman Eng


It is premature to draw conclusions about the secondary dispersion of radioactive materials.


I think that the peak will come after three to four days after the extinction of the fire. But then, the contamination will continue to move with the wind and rain.

また、落ち葉の測定結果のまとめも進行中です。浪江町と葛尾村の境界、火災現場から4~5km 西のものです。大柿ダムよりは低い汚染量ですが、燃やした灰も測定しています。

In addition, a summary of the measurement results of the fallen leaves is underway. They are from the border between Namie Town and Katsurao Village, which is 4-5km west of the fire site. The contamination is lower than that of the fallen leaves collected at the Ogaki dam. We are also measuring the burnt ash.

「ふくいち周辺環境放射線モニタリング・プロジェクト」のメンバー、田村市都路地区在住の深田和秀さんと取り組んでいます。 落ち葉、5,710 Bq/kg が燃やすことで、 19,500 Bq/kg と3.4 倍濃縮しました。手を加えて燃やすと、30倍ほど濃縮しますが、自然ではこんなものだと思います。

We are working with Mr. Kazuhide Fukada, another member of “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Measuring Project”, living in Miyakoji District, Tamura city. When we burn the fallen leaves measuring 5,710 Bq/kg, we obtain the ash of 19,500 Bq/kg that is, 3.4 times more densly contaminated in terms of weight. We can concentrate the contamination up to about 30 times artificially, but I think this is about the value in the natural environment.

___  ___ ___ ___





In about two weeks, the data on airborne dust by the citizen groups will come out. We will publish the information as soon as it is known.

However, it is likely that the the environmental contamination fluctuation will become different by this fire, and we need long-term rather than short-term monitoring.
It would be most dangerous to stop monitoring and paying attention after the fire is extinguished. The current media reports seem to be leading us to that direction.

Just after the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi accident, the central government repeated many times that “there is no immediate risk on health”. The major media fled from Fukushima, and they diffused the news from Tokyo, saying that there was nothing to worry about in Fukushima.

We have not forgotten.



Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project web site (in Japanese)

Wildfires in Namie

Wildfire is raging in the highly radio-contaminated area in Namie, Fukushima prefecture. Japanese authorities are minimizing the radiation risk. It is time to provide information from civil movement point of view. We are publishing here the translation of an article by Suzuki Hiroki, a freelance journalist.




What is happening in Namie, the 74th month after the Fukushima Daiichi accident?


There is a wildfire in the forest in the “difficult-to-return zone” causing rising concerns about the secondary dispersion of radioactive substances.
“Is it safe?” Voices of rage from the townspeople towards the central and local governments that hurried the evacuation order lifting.


A forest fire broke out on 29 April in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where one month had passed since the evacuation orders were lifted from a large part of the town. Moreover, it happened in the “difficult-to-return zone” where radio-contamination is especially high even in Namie town. Strong winds and high concentrations of contamination have made it difficult to fight against the fire and the fire has not been extinguished as of the night of May 1. Although the evacuation orders have been lifted as “the environment for everyday life is sufficiently in order”, it has been made clear that Namie has a perpetual risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials in the future. The fact that there is no means to prevent internal irradiation of firefighters as well as of returning residents brought home again the “reality” of the nuclear power plant accident.

[Firefighters cannot get close to the scene]


At the Sports Center near Japan Railway Joban Line Namie station fire-fighting helicopters in Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture land in the parking lot every few minutes. Water is put in the tanks with the hose connected to the fire hydrant. In the direction where the helicopter flew, smoke was still rising from the ridge of the mountain. Only the sound of the propeller echoes in the city empty of its population. Since April 29, the day when “Namie Town Security Watch Corps” rushed to the fire station, the feared forest fire is still ongoing 2 days later. The concern of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is heightened.


The burned area has exceeded 10 hectares. Although the fire is weakening, the fire department is cautious in declaring the judgment of “repression” and “extinguishing” of fire, for the fire became strong once again after it was judged being “repressed”. On May 2, since 5:00 am, BABA Tamotsu, the mayor of Namie, and OWADA Hitoshi, head of the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department, have been busy inspecting the area from the sky by helicopter.


“Jyumanyama” (altitude 448.4 meters), where lightning caused the fire, is located in the Ide district, which is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone”. Although the evacuation orders were partially lifted on March 31 from Namie, the “difficult-to-return zone” is still severely restricted from entering. The town’s fire brigade was called up, but its members cannot go close to the scene. It takes two hours on foot from the entrance of the mountain trail to the site, according to the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department. The spot could not be specified easily. As soon as it was localized from the sky by the helicopter, firefighters climbed the steep slopes without trails while receiving the guidance of the Forestry agency and Iwaki Forest management office staff. In the meantime, smoke fueled by strong winds reduced visibility like a dense fog. But it’s not just smoke that is dangerous – there is the danger of radioactivity as well The effect of the absorption can attached to the protective mask only functions up to three hours. The exchange in the contaminated smoke is accompanied by the irradiation risk. Considering the health hazards of the members, it is not a good idea to enter the virgin forest without a discussed plan. On April 30 at noon, UCHIBORI Masao, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture requested to dispatch the 6th Division of the JGSDF (Yamagata Prefecture) for the disaster. The amount of water spray exceeds 400 tons by GSDF alone.


However, it is not possible to stop the secondary dispersion of the radioactive material even by the SDF. This is the specificity and danger of this forest fire.

photo 1
(Top) At the Namie Regional Sports Center parking lot, fire-fighting helicopters came back one after another for water supply. The extinguishing activity from air is scheduled again on May 2 in the morning.

photo 2
(Middle) From Jyumanyama mountains there was still smoke.
Secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is concerned. (Taken on May 1 around 11 a.m.)

photo 3
(Bottom) Firefighters entered the field in protective gear and masks, but ” practically, there are no means to prevent the exposure to the radiation”.


“The radiation of the firefighters is unavoidable”.


“The secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is an alarming thing, but it has been expected. Judging that ‘the living environment is generally in order’, evacuation orders have been lifted, but once the wildfire starts, this is what happens. Did the government lift the evacuation orders after presenting these risks to the townspeople? I do not have any confidence in the central government nor in the local administration. They are good at appealing that everything is going well in this country. It was the same during the war. In that sense, it is a system of ‘self-responsibility’. I have no choice but to take care of myself”, said a man in his 40s, who was evacuated from the Hiwatari-Ushiwata administrative district. No active effort to announce the secondary dispersion of radioactive materials associated with forest fires was made by the town. It was delivered at last in the Mail magazine of the town at 10:00 a.m. on May 1. The following warning sentence was diffused: “Please do not approach carelessly, for it is dangerous”. It was not known to the townspeople for more than a full day because the fire report is dated Saturday evening. “The administration is difficult to move on Saturdays and Sundays,” said the General Affairs Disaster Security Division. On May 1 at 7:00 a.m., the same content was announced to the entire neighborhood by the disaster prevention radio, and “Notice of forest fire conditions” was published on the town homepage. However, there was no call for wearing a mask related to secondary dispersion of radioactive materials.


No emergency calls have reached the town council members. A certain council member said, “It is a good thing that I happened to learn about it by the television news. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to answer when questioned by the townspeople about this. I want to request to make a contact system because the forest fire in the “difficult-to-return zone” is an emergency situation.”


This council member says, “it is only a personal opinion, but it is natural to assume that radioactive cesium will scatter with smoke and ash, and the fire extinguishing activity should be carried out while measuring how much radioactive material there is in the one square meter. However, it is not realistic, and I have to say that it is not possible to prevent internal irradiation exposure after all.” Another council member also said, “the risk was not examined when the evacuation order was lifted. The danger has been proven by the forest fire this time.” He is ready to take the matter to the Town Council.


As for the irradiation risk of the fire brigade, the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department admit that while they can make a point “not to carry out the contaminated materials from the area”, there is no means to prevent the exposure of the fire brigade member. They can only try to shorten the time of stay in the “difficult-to-return zone”, but in reality it takes time to reach the site, and it is difficult to reach it. We have to admit that the exposure is unavoidable.” I wonder if we can consider the situation as “nuclear accident is under control”?

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6


There was a warning about forest fires since even before the nuclear accident. The airborne radioactivity of Tsushima District, which is designated as “difficult-to-return zone” like Ide district, is still high. It is sad to say, but the risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials with a fire is high.


Difficulty to monitor fine particles


There is no significant fluctuation in the airborne radioactivity measured by the monitoring posts installed inside and outside the town. The local media also actively convey the point. However, Mr. Yoichi Ozawa of the citizen’s group in Minamisoma City, “Fukuichi Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, pointed out that “radioactive particulates cannot be caught by a dosimeter or monitoring post.” In response to the forest fire, the above Project and the Citizen Radioactivity Monitoring Center “Chikurin-sha” (Hinode Town, Nishitama County, Tokyo) put several linen cloths in the town of Namie. It is thought that the secondary dispersion situation can be estimated by examining the adhesion of the fine particles that cause the internal irradiation.


The central government also faces a cautious posture about the secondary dispersion of the radioactive materials by combustion. On April 20, at the meeting with the residents of Iitate village the person in charge of the Cabinet Office asked the villagers “not to burn the field until the results of experimentation and analyses about how much radioactive materials scatter and adhere to crops etc. come out.” It is a reality that even the bureaucrats of the central government who rushed the evacuation order lifting are not able to affirm that it is safe.


According to the research by Mr. Ozawa and his colleagues, radioactive cesium of 17,000 Bq/kg was found in the fallen leaves near the Ogaki dam last autumn in the “difficult-to-return zone”. “The radioactive material is concentrated by several dozen times by burning. Some experts have pointed out hundreds of times”, says Ozawa. However, neither the central government nor Fukushima prefecture nor the Namie town warn about the internal irradiation at all.


“They lifted the evacuation order saying that it is safe and secure, but it’s not at all,” says a 70 year old resident angrily. A lot of worries about the exposure risk were voiced at the residents consultation meeting just before the lifting of evacuation orders. Some say, “it is useless to worry all the time. Since the nuclear power plant accident has happened, we have to think in a constructive way now”, but unfortunately many townspeople’s worries have become real. Moreover, it’s quite possible that the forest fire was caused by lightning. Namie will have to take the same risks in the future. The fire site continues smoldering. Radioactive materials are slowly spreading.

Published in Taminokoe shimbun, May 2, 2017.

The scandalous deficiency of the health scheme in Fukushima

Taro Yamamoto of the Liberal Party, member of the House of Councilors, accused the double standard of the the public radioprotection policy during his questions at the Special Commission of Reconstruction of the House of Deputies on March 21, 2017. He compared the health examination scheme introduced by Ibaraki prefecture to its population after the JCO* criticality accident to that currently available to Fukushima residents. The result shows the utter deficiency of the latter in spite of the fact that the Fukushima accident is classified as level 7, much more severe than the JCO level 4 accident.


We are publishing here the transcription of Taro Yamamoto’s questions** as well as the soil contamination map of Kashima and Haramachi districts of Minamisoma where the evacuation order was lifted in July 2016. The map is provided by the civil measurement group called “Fukuichi*** Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”**** composed mainly of residents of Minamisoma which has been taking measurements of soil contamination in the vicinity of the members’ neighborhoods and in residential areas since 2012. Taro Yamamoto has already used their maps during another session of the Special Commission of Reconstruction. Let us note that in the map uploaded here, there are only two rectangles where the contamination density is lower than 40,000Bq/m2, and that for the rest of Kashima and Haramachi districts, the density is amazingly higher. As Taro Yamamoto indicated during his questions on November 18 last year, according to the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards a zone is called a Radiation Control Zone when the surface density is over 40,000Bq/m2. In a Radiation Control Zone, following the Ordinance, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening. The map shows that most of the two districts of Minamisoma city are in this situation. But it is not classified as Radiation Control Zone. On the contrary, people are told to go back there to live, including children.

ここで、山本太郎議員の質問の文字起こし**とともに、「ふくいち***周辺環境放射線モニタリングプロジェクト****」の作成した、南相馬市、鹿島区、原町区の土壌汚染地図をアップいたします。このグループは南相馬にお住まいの住民の方々を中心に、2012年からそれぞれの近所、生活圏の土壌汚染などの計測を続けるグループで、以前にも山本太郎議員が2016年11月18日の復興委員会での質問で当グループ作成の地図を資料として使っています。この時の質問で山本議員が指摘したように、電離放射線障害防止規則により、放射性物質の表面密度が40000Bq/m2以上の区域は放射線管理区域と呼びます放射線管理区域では 飲食は禁止、当然寝泊まりはできません。成人でも10時間以上の滞在は許されません。そこから出るときは厳格なスクリーニングを受けなければなりません。地図を見ると、40,000ベクレルよりも低く測定されたところは2箇所にすぎず、他の地域では放射線管理区域の下限をはるかに超える汚染を示しています。しかし、この区域は放射線管理区域に指定されていません。それどころか、このような区域の避難指示がすでに解除され、子供も含む住民の帰還が進められています。


Measurement devices : scintillation radiometers
Hitachi Aloka TCS172B
Dose rate of airborn radiation at 1 m, 50 cm, 1 cm from the ground. Unit : µSv/h
Hitachi Aloka TGS146B
Calculation of the rate of surface contamination, 1 cm from the ground. Unit : cpm
Procedure for measuring soil samples

Ram a tube in the ground (diam. : 80 mm, h : 50 mm), collect the soil and measure.
For TCS172B/TGS146B, wait for stabilisation, measure 5 times,then take the average value.
Insert ★ where the soil was collected.
Analysis device:

Canberra NaI Scintillation Detector (10 or 20 min)
According to the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards and Industrial Safety and Health Law, places where the effective dose reaches 1.3mSv in 3 months (approximately 0.6µSv/h of airborne radioactivity) or 40,000Bq/m2, in terms contamination density, are designated as a ‘’Radiation Control Zone’’ and public entry must be severely restricted.

測定器 :
日立アロカTCS172B (空間線量率1m,50cm, 1cm 高 単位µSv/h)
日立アロカ TGS146B (表面汚染計数率 1cm高 単位cmp)
土壌採取時の測定 :
分析器:キャンベラ社NaI分析器(10分or 20分)
「放射線障害防止法」「労働安全衛生法」などの法令によれば、実効線量で3か月1.3mSv (空間線量率で約0.6µSv/h)または、汚染密度で40,000Bq/m2以上になる恐れのある場所は「放射線管理区域」に指定し、一般人の立ち入りを厳しく制限しなくてはならない。


Transcription of the questions of Taro Yamamoto

山本太郎議員質問書き起こし Continue reading “The scandalous deficiency of the health scheme in Fukushima”

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima

The evacuation orders of the most populated areas of Namie, Fukushima were lifted on March 31st this year.

“Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” has published airborne radiation measurements map and soil surface density map. The results are simply incredible. This is far much worse than in Radiation Control Zone. Any area becomes designated as such when the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months, or when the surface density is over 40,000Bq/m2. In the Radiation Control Zone, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

Namie’s radio contamination is far over these figures! And people are told to go back to these areas.



Here is the posting of “Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” in their FB page on April 20th.




We are uploading the map of airborne radiation rate map measured by GyoroGeiger, the Android supported Geiger counter, during the 38th monitoring action between 3 and 7 April 2017. Dose rate is measured at 1m from the ground.
At 56 points over 100 measuring points, the dose rate was over 1µSv/h. These points are indicated in red. The highest measure was 3.71µSv/h. Conversion to annual dose gives 32mSv. Is it allowed to make evacuees return to such areas?

Namie airborne


Here is the soil contamination map uploaded on April 15th. They even had to introduce 7 scales, for the contamination is so high and they couldn’t deal with the scales they were using before! It is a violation of human rights to let people live in such areas.

namie(2017.04-[38])ENGPixelise web



New data show massive radiation levels in Odaka, Minamisoma



We are presenting here the most recent soil contamination map made by the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project.”





The area where measurements took place is shown by a green square in the map.
It includes two administrative units, Hanokura and Otomi of the Odaka district of Minamisoma town of Fukushima prefecture.






Here is the soil contamination map.




Taro Yamamoto of the Liberal Party, member of the House of Councilors, used another map prepared by the same group on two other administrative units of Odaka district during his questions at the Special Commission of Reconstruction of the House of Deputy on November 18th 2016.


We are quoting here some extracts of his questions *.



You are well aware of the existence of the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards. This is a rule that must be respected in order to protect workers exposed to risks related to ionizing radiation in establishments such as hospitals, research laboratories and nuclear power plants, isn’t it?


It contains the definition of the Radiation Control Zone. This is Article 3 of the Ordinance in File No. 1. It states that if the situation corresponds to the definition described in Article 3/1 or to that specified in Article 3/2, the zone shall be considered as a Radiation Control Zone and a sign must be posted there. I will read parts 1 and 2 of this article.


1: The area in which the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months! When the dose reaches 1.3mSv over a period of three months, a zone is called a Radiation Control Zone.


Part 3/2 refers to the surface density in the attached table.
Here is File No. 2. What will it be if we do the conversion of the density of the surface per m2?

○政府参考人(田中誠二) 一平方メートル当たりで計算いたしますと、四万ベクレルとなります。

○ Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)
The conversion is 40,000Bq/m2








In the town of Minamisoma in the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture, three types of evacuation zones were established after the earthquake. In July 2016, the evacuation order was lifted in the “evacuation order lifting preparation area” and in the ‘’not-permitted-to-live area’’. There is only one household with two people remaining in the “the difficult-to-return-to area”.
According to the State, 90% of the territories of Minamisoma are safe.

There is a group called “The Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project*** ” composed mainly of residents of Minamisoma. Since 2012, its members have been taking measurements of soil contamination in the vicinity of the members’ neighborhoods and in residential areas. They provided the information. Please take a look at File No. 3. You see a colored map.

This is the map of soil collected and measured in the territories where the decontamination works have been completed. The colors show the levels of contamination. The blue colored area indicates where the contamination measurements are below 40,000Bq / m2, ie below the level of a radioactivity controlled zone. There is only one, at the bottom right. Apart from this one, at all other places, the colors show measurements equivalent or higher than in a Radiation Control Zone. There is even an area colored gray where the measurements exceed 1,000,000Bq / m2. There are people living there!







The evacuation order is already lifted from Odaka district of Minamisoma town, and officially the decontamination work has finished. However, the two maps show that in wide areas highly radioactive soil is being found. Their measurements are well above the lower contamination limit of a Radiation Control Zone.

放射線管理区域では電離放射線障害防止規則により、 飲食は禁止、当然寝泊まりはできません。成人でも10時間以上の滞在は許されません。そこから出るときは厳格なスクリーニングを受けなければなりません。

In a Radiation Control Zone, following the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.


How can people live there?


The policy to make a population return and live in areas even more contaminated than most of the Radiation Control Zone, while cutting the financial and housing aid for evacuees, is a serious infringement of human rights.


* 出典 「参議院議員 山本太郎オフィシャルホームページ
* Source : Taro YAMAMOTO’s website
** Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, Ministry of Labour Ordinance No. 41 of September 30, 1972, Latest Amendments: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance No. 172 of July 16, 2001
*** Fukuichi shûhen kankyôhôshasen monitoring project
ふくいち周辺環境放射線モニタリングプロジェクト (in Japanese)

Read also…

Full English translation of Taro Yamamoto’s questions : “Taro Yamamoto defends Fukushima victims’ rights
About the activities of the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, read “Minamisoma Whistleblowers, Fukushima


Thanks to Pierre Fetet and Hervé Courtois for providing the contamination map of Kanabuchi and Kanaya of the Odaka district.