Japan groups alarmed by radioactive soil

Soil radiation in a city 60 kilometres from Japan`s stricken nuclear plant is above levels, citizens` groups said on Tuesday.

Tokyo: Soil radiation in a city 60 kilometres
(40 miles) from Japan`s stricken nuclear plant is above levels
that prompted resettlement after the Chernobyl disaster,
citizens` groups said on Tuesday.

The survey of four locations in Fukushima city, outside
the nuclear evacuation zone, showed that all soil samples
contained caesium exceeding Japan`s legal limit of 10,000
becquerels per kilogramme (4,500 per pound), they said.

The highest level was 46,540 becquerels per kilogramme,
and the three other readings were between 16,290 and 19,220
becquerels per kilogramme, they said.

The citizens` groups -- the Fukushima Network for Saving
Children from Radiation and five other non-governmental
organisations -- have called for the evacuation of pregnant
women and children from the town.

The highest reading in the city of 290,000 people far
exceeded the level that triggered compulsory resettlement
ordered by Soviet authorities following the 1986 Chernobyl
nuclear disaster in Ukraine, they said.

Kobe University radiation expert professor Tomoya
Yamauchi conducted the survey on June 26 following a request
from the groups.

"Soil contamination is spreading in the city," Yamauchi
said in a statement. "Children are playing with the soil,
meaning they are playing with high levels of radioactive
substances. Evacuation must be conducted as soon as possible."

The coastal Fukushima Daiichi plant has been spewing
radiation since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked
out its cooling systems.


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