Japan: Japanese researchers geared up to create a detailed map of radioactive contamination around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. About 300 experts from Osaka University, Hiroshima University, the University of Tokyo and other academic and research institutions will start collecting soil samples in May at up to 10,000 locations in 1,500 designated areas, mainly in Fukushima Prefecture, to create a soil-pollution map.
The map will be designed primarily to help designate evacuation areas. The science ministry intends to use the map as a picture of the situation concerning radioactive pollution in areas around the crippled plant
The project was formed on the initiative of three scientists: Mamoru Fujiwara, associate professor, Osaka University Research Center for Nuclear Physics; Masaharu Hoshi, professor, Hiroshima University Research Institute for Nuclear Medicine and Biology; and Takaharu Otsuka, professor, University of Tokyo Center for Nuclear Study.
The group will also receive support from a Russian research institute of radiation medicine, which carried out environmental surveys in areas contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
Around mid-May, the team will start its work by dividing the area around the stricken nuclear power plant spanning 100 kilometers north-south and 60 kilometers east-west into 1,500 2-kilometer square zones. The researchers will collect soil samples at five to seven points in each zone to measure levels of such radioactive isotopes as iodine-131, cesium-137 and strontium-90. The level of radiation in each zone will be shown on the pollution map.
The science ministry is also developing its own soil pollution map, but it is currently measuring radiation levels at only 53 locations.