[Emergency Statement and Demands] We urgently demand the withdrawal of the Japanese Government’s inhumane decision to force 20mSv per year 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 20mSv 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.
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.
Expert comments cited from the articles on the establishment of the 20mSv/y standard (“Fukushima-Katastrophe – Japan legt hohe Strahlengrenzwerte für 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
For further inquiries, please contact:
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
Friends of the Earth Japan
3-30-8-1F Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0014, Japan
[English translation of Japanese original: FoE Japan / Green Action]