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Say no to increase in 'safe' levels of radiation for children

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 26, 2011 11:05 AM
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Join Friends of the Earth Japan and other civil society organisations in calling on the Japanese government to reverse a decision to increase the level of 'safe' radiation exposure to children.

On April 19, the Japanese government announced that it would be increasing the level of radiation deemed safe for children to 20 mSv/y. This is comparable to the maximum dose allowed for nuclear power plant workers in Germany.

 
 
We urgently demand the withdrawal of the Japanese Government's inhumane decision to force 20millisieverts per year (mSv/y) radiation exposure onto children
 
On April 19th, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) notified the Board of Education and related institutions in Fukushima Prefecture the level of 20 millisieverts per
year (mSv/y) as a Radiation Safety Standard for schools in Fukushima Prefecture. This is the standard to be used for school grounds and buildings. The Government has indicated that 20mSv/y is equivalent to
3.8 microSv per hour measured outdoors.
 
3.8 microSv/h is roughly 6 times [the 0.6 microSv/h] of "Radiation Controlled Areas" (0.6 microSv/h or more). The Labour Standards Act prohibits those under the age of 18 from working under these conditions.
Forcing children to be exposed to such radiation doses is an exceedingly inhumane decision. Therefore, we condemn this in the strongest terms.
 
20 mSv/y is comparable to the [legally] recognized dose for inducing leukemia in nuclear power plant workers. It is also comparable to the maximum dose allowed for nuclear power plant workers in Germany.
 
In addition, this 20mSv standard [for Japanese children] does not take into account the fact children have higher sensitivity to radiation than adults, nor does it take into account any internal radiation exposure.
 
Currently, according to the radiation monitoring conducted at elementary and middle schools within Fukushima Prefecture, more than 75% of these schools have contamination levels comparable to "Radiation Controlled Areas" (0.6 microSv/h or more). Further, roughly 20% of the schools fall within "Individual Exposure Controlled Areas" (2.3 microSv/h or more) and are in an extremely dangerous situation.
 
The level set by the Japanese Government at this time amounts to coercion of this dangerous situation upon children, and, can interfere with voluntary measures by schools to minimize exposure.
 
MEXT states that 20mSv/y is based on the recommendation Pub.109 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) as well as on the reference levels in the band of 1 to 20 mSv/y as "Post Emergency Situation" Standards from the ICRP statement released on March 21st. The latter means MEXT has adopted the maximum level.
 
As of April 21st, there has been no substantive information disclosure by the Japanese Government on the decision-making process for establishing these standards. Moreover, no explanation has been given
concerning why the Government has neither taken the sensitivity of children into consideration nor internal radiation exposure into account. The contents of the consultation held between MEXT and the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) are not disclosed, and the situation remains extremely opaque. 
 
 
We demand the following of the Japanese Government:
 
-Retraction of the "20mSv/y" standard for children.
-Disclosure of the names of experts, who deemed "20mSv/y" for children to be safe.
 

Note

At the governmental negotiation held on April 21st, it became evident that the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) concluded the 20mSv/y standard for children as "Permissible" without undertaking any formal consultation. Moreover, on April 22nd, the Commission reported to the office of Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, member of the Japanese Diet, House of Councillors that no minutes (records) exist of the 5 Nuclear Safety Commission members’ deliberation leading to the 20mSv/year standard.  
 

References

Expert comments cited from the articles on the establishment of the 20mSv/y standard ("Fukushima-Katastrophe - Japan legt hohe Strahlengrenzwerte fur Kinder fest" or “Japan's MEXT sets High Exposure
Limits for Children”), Der Spiegel, April 21st, 2011.
(See comparison to German workers.)
http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,758410,00.html
 
Edmund Lengfelder (Otto Hug Radiation Institute), "The cancer risk will visibly rise in the future. By setting these standards, the government will steer clear of any liability legally, however not morally."
 
This petition is being organized by: Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai), Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Oi, and Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (Mihama-no-Kai), Friends of the Earth Japan
 

further information  

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
Tel: +81-75-701-7223  
info@greenaction-japan.org
 
Friends of the Earth Japan
3-30-8-1F Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0014, Japan
TEL: +81-3-6907-7217
finance@foejapan.org
 
English translation of Japanese original: FoE Japan / Green Action
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