Tokyo play­ground closed af­ter rock­et­ing ra­di­a­tion lev­els found

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Ex­tremely high lev­els of ra­di­a­tion have been dis­cov­ered in a play­ground in Tokyo, of­fi­cials said Fri­day, fan­ning fears for the health of chil­dren in the area.

Soil un­der­neath a slide at the park in the north­west of the Ja­panese cap­i­tal showed ra­di­a­tion read­ings of up to 480 mi­crosiev­erts per hour, the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice said.

Any­one di­rectly ex­posed to this level would ab­sorb in two hours the max­i­mum dose of ra­di­a­tion Ja­pan rec­om­mends in a year.

“Many chil­dren play in the park daily, so the ward of­fice should ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion,” Ky­odo News quoted a 62- yearold lo­cal woman as say­ing.

The ra­di­a­tion level is over 2,000 times that at which the na­tional gov­ern­ment re­quires soil clean­ing in ar­eas around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nu­clear plant, where re­ac­tors melted down af­ter the March 2011 tsunami.

That stan­dard, how­ever, is for mea­sure­ments taken at 0.5 to 1.0 me­ters (20 to 40 inches) above ground, while of­fi­cials in Tokyo’s Toshima ward checked the ground it­self.

Of­fi­cials were made aware of the con­tam­i­na­tion af­ter a lo­cal res­i­dent re­ported it on Mon­day and say they do not think it is con­nected to the dis­as­ter at Fukushima.

“Be­cause the area in which we de­tect ra­dioac­tiv­ity is very limited, and read­ings in sur­round­ing parts are nor­mal, we sus­pect ra­dioac­tive ma­te­ri­als of some kind are buried there,” lo­cal mayor Yukio Takano said in a state­ment.

The park was built in 2013, two years af­ter the Fukushima nu­clear cri­sis, a lo­cal of­fi­cial told AFP, on what was pre­vi­ously a park­ing lot for Tokyo’s san­i­ta­tion depart­ment.

Top soil at the lot was re­placed be­fore the land was turned into a park, said the Toshima of­fi­cial.

The park has been sealed, and Toshima ward is dis­cussing with ex­perts how to ap­proach the prob­lem, she added.

Many fam­i­lies in eastern Ja­pan con­tinue to sur­vey the lev­els of ra­dioac­tive con­tam­i­na­tion around their houses, dis­trust­ful of gov­ern­ment as­sur­ances that most places were not af­fected by the Fukushima melt­down.

Such ef­forts have led some peo­ple to dis­cover ra­dioac­tive ma­te­ri­als that have been dumped in their neigh­bor­hoods.

Months af­ter the Fukushima cri­sis started in 2011, of­fi­cials found bot­tles of ra­dium, used for med­i­cal tools and a glow-in-the-dark paint for watches, dis­carded un­der a pri­vate house and a su­per­mar­ket in Tokyo.

The play park in­ci­dent came days af­ter a small drone show­ing traces of ra­dioac­tiv­ity was found on the roof of the prime min­is­ter’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence.

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