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Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

IAEA team: limit decontamination


Staff writer

A research team from the International Atomic Energy Agency submitted a report to the government Friday that commends Japan's decontamination efforts but suggests that attempting to remove radiation from every affected area would be counterproductive.

In short, they said trying to gather overly radioactive debris, soil and foliage from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis will only result in a highly toxic accumulation in need of disposal.

Japan was praised for its swift efforts to gauge the contamination with priority on children's health, with parents, volunteers and municipal authorities joining to remove contaminated soil in schools and monitoring cleanup work.

Yet the team, which came on Oct. 7 and was to leave Saturday, advised against being overly cautious in the future decontamination process, as this will impose unnecessary costs.

Their report points out that people should focus less on contamination levels and more on the amount of exposure.

"This investment of time and effort in removing contamination beyond certain (so-called optimized levels) from everywhere, such as all forest areas and areas where the additional exposure is relatively low, does not automatically lead to reduction of doses for the public. It also involves a risk of generating unnecessarily huge amounts of residual material," the report said.



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