Friday, November 16, 2012

Investigative Journalism: Fukushima Waste Being Stored at Playgrounds, Schools With Little Oversight

Here's a new one from the Fukushima file.

While Japan's government continues to struggle to deal with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, local communities are storing radioactive dirt, sludge and debris in playgrounds and other public places, according to this excellent Christian Science Monitor report.

In one city 150 miles north of Tokyo, groups of children played in a playground where hundreds of bags of the radioactive waste were stored a few feet underground in an unmarked, unfenced corner, the reporter discloses.

While government scientists assure that the risk of the radioactive isotopes in the waste seeping into the groundwater "quickly" is "low," there is no mention of an actual risk assessment or method used to calculate that risk.

And of course, local residents are flabbergasted. One found that at least 20 other such disposal sites in parks  and public spaces exist in his city alone. It's not clear if there's any monitoring of whether radioisotopes are leeching out, and officials even refuse to put up signs.

Across Fukushima prefecture, waste was being stored at 1,027 schools and 788 parks, according to the story, which says the sites are "scantily regulated."

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