In a recent attempt to estimate the radiation levels at Fukushima suggests it is safe for the residents to come back. In the aftermath of 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, many tenants were a force to flee their home, fearing a radiation holocaust.
The ruined land
Six years back, Fukushima was one among the prosperous lands in Japan feeding the country its energy from its Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, until the hapless day of 11th March 2011 scarred with one of the worst nuclear disasters in the history. In the ruins of Chernobyl disaster, everybody expected a radiation disaster and fled the land towards safety. But a recent study came with hopeful results suggesting a significant reduction in the radiation levels. In the study they were surprised to find the never-evacuated villagers just 60 kilometers away was not harmed by the radiation in any manner. The team also found that the natural decaying coupled with weathering from rain shall be held creditable for this significant radioactivity reduction. Some human approaches for decontaminations like removing top soil were found to be least effective too. While the evacuation order is lifted, its 52000 tenants shall return to Fukushima prefecture without any worries.
Efforts by physicists Makoto Miyazaki, at Fukushima Medical University, and Ryugo Hayano, a University of Tokyo in their study collected samples of soils and learned how radiation declined over time. A 60% radiation declination happened between 2011- 2013 timer period and extrapolated how the radiation will decline in the next 70 years. On estimating the median lifetime dose of radiation they found the nuclear disaster released 18 millisieverts in the zone A, the most contaminated part of the city. However, this value is comparably low according to International Commission on Radiological Protection by which the safe limits are between 1 ~ 20 millisieverts a year. They also evaluated the human approaches for decontamination by removing the top soil and washing rooftops. By gathering necessary data from over 425 people from zone A, they understood that no effective drop in radiation happened due to human intervention, which started since 2012. Though the population wise data seems ineffective, it may not be the case with individuals and they don’t recommend to stop decontamination activities.
Based on the study findings, declining radiation levels were prominent and which was credited to natural decay and rain washing, rather than human approaches. This result will be a solace for thousands of evacuees who fled the city, now that they have relevant scientific guarantee to return back. On lifting evacuation notice it is evident that even authorities are convinced by the data. The best part is that the study would help future nuclear holocausts to be safely handled, setting guideline and benchmark to evaluate the aftermath of nuclear contamination.