Japan to Open Hotlines to Allay Public Concerns Over Radiation

Japan’s government will issue guidelines on testing for radiation and open call centers for the public after more so-called hotspots were found in Tokyo and other areas far from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

The guidelines will provide advice on using dosimeters to improve the consistency of surveys, Hirotaka Oku, an official handling the response to the Fukushima disaster at the science ministry said by phone. The guidelines will be issued as early as Oct. 22, he said.

Two more locations with radiation levels exceeding safety limits were found this week in Tokyo, which is about 220 kilometers (137 miles) from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station that was wrecked in the March earthquake and tsunami. Local and central government bodies are expanding testing to alleviate public concern over the discoveries.

The science ministry may increase monitoring by aircraft to western Japan, Oku said. Since April, the ministry has been carrying out surveys in 22 prefectures in eastern Japan including Tokyo. The number of prefectures hasn’t been decided. Oku said. Japan has 47 prefectures.

In Higashimurayama in western Tokyo, officials removed soil at an elementary school yesterday following a radiation reading of 2.153 microsieverts per hour, according to Takehito Toma, an official of the local education board.

The reading is equal to a dose of 11.32 millisieverts per year, or more than 11 times the internationally recommended safety level for the general public, according to a science ministry formula.

Checking Parks

The local council in Higashimurayama, which surveyed 22 schools this week, plans to check parks and other public areas, Toma said.

In Adachi ward in northeastern Tokyo, officials on Oct. 17 said a survey found an elementary school had readings as high as 3.99 microsieverts per hour.

On Oct. 14, the science ministry said radioactive radium-226 was the source of a high radiation reading in Tokyo’s Setagaya district, ruling out the possibility it may have come from the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

Officials in Yokohama south of Tokyo said on the same day they found radioactive strontium and cesium in two samples of sediment.

In Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, 111 brands of tea leaves tested for cesium were found to contain more than the government safety standard of 500 becquerels per kilogram, the local government said it a statement yesterday. One brand was found to have 2,150 becquerels per kilogram.

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