Fukushima starts health checks

Kyodo

The Fukushima Prefectural Government on Monday started conducting health checkups on its roughly 2 million residents in light of the radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The prefecture has launched an unprecedented effort to continuously monitor the health of its residents for several decades. The data is expected help doctors around the world understand how low but long-term radiation exposure affects the human body.

The first people to be examined, a group of 10 from the town of Namie, visited the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the city of Chiba to find out how much internal contamination they have through urine tests and whole-body counter exams.

A group of around 110 people from the municipalities of Namie, Iitate and Kawamata will follow in about 10 days, prefectural officials said. Their areas are in the primary and secondary hot zones designated around the nuclear plant.

Full-scale exams for all who were residing in Fukushima when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sent the Fukushima plant into crisis will begin in August, following priority checks for about 2,800 residents from the three municipalities, they said.

The central government plans to establish a ¥100 billion fund for the long-term study, which will last around 30 years.