The government kept a report about a study of individual radiation doses around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant — including an area recently released from an evacuation order — under wraps for six months.
The study, which covered the city of Tamura and the villages of Kawauchi and Iitate, showed that the radiation in many areas is still over 1 millisievert per year — a level the government is looking to achieve in the long term.
The government lifted an evacuation order on the Miyakoji district in Tamura on April 1, but the content of the interim report, compiled in October, was not conveyed to its citizens or local governments before the action was taken.
Skepticism about the government’s disclosure habits concerning radiation levels from the Fukushima crisis has been growing, and the latest incident is likely to amplify public health concerns.
The government explained the content to local governments later, and the report was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Monday. It also plans to release a final report on Friday.
A government team tasked with supporting people affected by the crisis said it did not initially plan to release the interim report but decided to make it public because of the “high attention among residents.”
The team decided to conduct the radiation level study at 43 points in Tamura, Kawauchi and Iitate last July, hoping to address the concerns of evacuees seeking to return to their homes.
The study showed that the radiation measured by individual dosimeters tends to be about 70 percent that of levels estimated from air doses. Twenty-seven points were also found to be above 1 millisievert per year.
The outcome has raised concerns among residents that have already returned.
“It was premature to lift the evacuation order. We’ve been deceived,” said a 65-year-old man living in Miyakoji.
Areas within, and some beyond, 20 km of the Fukushima plant have been subject to evacuation since the nuclear crisis that began in March 2011.
The Miyakoji district became the first area excluded from the 20-km zone following decontamination and infrastructure restoration efforts.