Radiation levels as high as those in the evacuation zone around Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have been detected in a Tokyo suburb and are likely linked to the disaster, officials said yesterday.
The hotspot, a small area of about 1m radius, was found in a vacant lot in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture, a commuter suburb of the capital, officials said.
Radiation levels of 2 microsieverts an hour were detected 1m above the surface of the soil, equivalent to some areas in the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima plant.
City officials have also found contamination levels as high as 57.5 microsieverts an hour in the soil, sparking radiation fears in the neighborhood about 195km from the accident site.
Inspectors from the science and technology ministry believe the hotspot was created after radioactive caesium carried by rain water became concentrated in a small area because of a broken gutter.
“We covered the area with river sand and plastic sheets, which so far have lowered the radiation levels in the air,” a Kashiwa City official said.
Earlier this month, the alarm was raised in western Tokyo after a radiation hotspot was discovered, but it was later determined to have been caused by some old paint.
Variable winds, weather and topography result in an uneven spread of contamination from the nuclear plant, experts say, and radioactive elements tend to concentrate in places where dust and rain water accumulate such as drains and ditches.
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