The Japanese city was chosen as the starting point for the torch relay for the 2020 Games after the country’s environment ministry deemed it safe, following the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
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Japan’s government has been vocal about shining a spotlight on Fukushima’s recovery from the incident. Its sports complex, J-Village, which is about 20 kilometres away from the power plant, is set to be used as the starting point.
However, Greenpeace has since said there are still active radiation hot spots in the area.
According to a press release published by the organization on Wednesday, radiation levels in the area were as high as 71 microsieverts per hour, which is 1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour reading prior to the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.
The national safety standard is 0.23 microsieverts per hour, and Tokyo has a normal reading of around 0.04 microsieverts per hour.
Greenpeace Japan sent a letter to Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi that demanded immediate action be taken to protect the public during the Olympic and Paralympic events.
“While general radiation levels were low at the J-Village, these radiation hot spots are of significant public health concern,” Kazue Suzuki, energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement.
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“These radiation hot spots highlight both the scale of contamination caused by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and the failure of decontamination efforts. We have called on the Ministry of Environment to act urgently and to initiate immediate decontamination.”
J-Village’s website reports that its main entrance radiation reading was only at 0.111 microsieverts per hour on Wednesday.
The Tokyo Electric Company, which runs Daiichi, said it cleaned the mentioned spots on Tuesday following recommendations from the environment ministry.
People are exposed to natural radiation of 2,000-3,000 microsieverts a year, so anyone staying in the vicinity of J-Village for two or more days could be exposed to more than that.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, located about 220 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.
More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air.
Worries that local food could be contaminated by the nuclear disaster has prompted plans by South Korea’s Olympic committee to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games.
–With files from Reuters.
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