Tokyo launches large-scale radiation monitoring after Fukushima

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 15, 2011 3:28 AM
Tokyo launches large-scale radiation monitoring after Fukushima

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo's local government launched a large-scale radiation survey on Wednesday, sending officials out to parks, school playgrounds and other locations to reassure parents over the aftermath of leaks at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The survey will be conducted at 100 locations. Previous readings had been restricted to a single site in the city of more than 13 million.

"We were asked by mothers who are worried about the safety of their children. Also, people want to know what radiation levels are like in their own neighborhood," a Tokyo government official said.

Concerns in Tokyo, 240 km (150 miles) southwest of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, spiked after residents were warned after the March 11 quake and tsunami not to give babies tap water because of radiation leaks.

The warning was later lifted, but readings exceeding the government-set limit were recorded in farm products such as tea leaves grown in areas far more distant from Fukushima.

Wednesday's survey found 0.06 microsieverts per hour of radiation at one meter above the ground in a Tokyo park, and 0.07 microsieverts per hour at 5 cm above the ground, in line with normal radiation levels in the city, the official said.

The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami knocked out the cooling functions of the Fukushima plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co, causing radiation to leak into the atmosphere and the ocean in the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. Engineers are still struggling to bring the six-reactor plant under control.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Chisa Fujioka; Editing by Ron Popeski)