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On the appeal by the Association to Protect Children from Radioactive Contamination / Masaki Oshikawa

On the appeal by the Association to Protect Children from Radioactive Contamination

October 27, 2011

To: Mr. Jun'ichiro Hoshino, Abiko Mayor

To: Mr. Jun Nakamura, Abiko City Superintendent of Education

From: Masaki Oshikawa

Professor, Institute for Solid State Physics, the University of Tokyo

As a person who is involved in academic research and as a local citizen, I fully endorse this appeal.

Ever since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, not a small number of "experts" or "scientists" have claimed that "the effect of this level of radioactive contamination can be ignored (and thus no measures need to be taken)", which has affected the policies taken by the national and regional governments. As I will explain below, however, these claims have no scientific or rational basis. The measures requested in the appeal by the Association are the very minimum that should be taken by local governments in the areas contaminated by radioactive materials, and are in no way excessive. I call on you to take them into account, in order to protect the health and wellbeing of residents.

- According to the standard scientific understanding of the effect of radiation on human health, there is no clear threshold below which exposure to radiation does no harm to human health. The recommendations by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) also follow this understanding.

- Based on this understanding, the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) Principle is accepted as the basic principle of protection against exposure to radiation.

- Guidelines for exposure to radiation can thus not be interpreted as setting a level below which exposure is "safe"; they can only be understood as determining a level of risk that has been deemed acceptable. The accepted level of risk should not be decided arbitrarily by scientists or experts, but should ultimately be determined by citizens, in whom sovereign power resides, and residents.

- A standard guideline is that set out by the ICRP, which states that the limit of public exposure to radiation, excluding naturally occurring background radiation and radiation from medical procedures, should be 1 mSv/year. Japanese laws and regulations also state this level as the public limit of exposure.

- Therefore, the sum of both external and internal exposure should be 1 mSv/year at the highest, and decontamination measures designed to limit external exposure to 1 mSv/year should only be understood as a starting point.

- Such claims as "we can increase the permitted level of exposure to radiation as we are in an emergency situation following the nuclear accident" are also widespread, but there is no rationale to justify a situation in which people who have no responsibility for the accident (especially infants and children) continue to be exposed to radiation and an increased risk of damage to their health.

- ICRP recommendations clearly state that the reference level in a currently existing exposure situation should be set at the lowest level possible from a range of 1 mSv to 20 mSv, and any decision including setting of the reference level should be properly justified. The judgments made by experts or scientists, such as "there is no problem because the exposure level remains at such and such mSv", go against the spirit of the ICRP recommendations. As is stated in the appeal, local government should let residents take part in discussions on policy-making regarding this issue and take measures to reduce exposure to radiation to the lowest level possible.

- It goes against the ALARA principle and also against the spirit of local governance to simply follow uncritically the guidelines and policies set by the national government after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. What is more, some of the policies adopted by the national government even violate its own laws and regulations. In this situation, I believe that the mission of local government is to take concrete measures by communicating with local residents and keep pointing out deficiencies in national policy to the national government.

Date of last update:2011-11-12 23:15:58 kyo 2thumbs up   del.icio.usに追加   はてなブックマークに追加   twitterに投稿   facebookでshare
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