Japan: contamination reaches Chernobyl level

Radiation exposure in the 58 kilometer radius high, no health risk in Germany

Smoke over the Fukushima NPP © Tepco
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In Japan, radioactive contamination in the environment up to 58 kilometers around the reactor now equals the values ​​of the restricted zones after the Chernobyl accident. In Germany too, traces of radioactive substances from Japan can be measured in the air over the next few days, depending on the weather. However, the experts exclude any health effects for the population, since the readings remain well below the concentration values ​​that are of concern to the health.

In Japan, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Japanese authorities are constantly taking measurements up to 200 kilometers away from Fukushima I, measuring gamma dose rates and beta-gamma contamination. While the gamma radiation consists of high-energy electromagnetic radiation - comparable to a particularly short-wave X-ray radiation - radionuclides emit electrons during beta radiation.

Radiation values ​​correspond to Chernobyl exclusion zone

The results of the gamma dose rate are currently between two and 160 microsieverts per hour (μSv / h) and are therefore significantly higher than the natural background of around 0.1 μSv / h. In Berlin, the natural background radiation is 0.07 μSv / h. The IAEA also states that high levels of beta-gamma contamination between 16 and 58 kilometers away from the nuclear power plant have been found. The values ​​are between 200, 000 and 900, 000 becquerels (Bq) per square meter. The IAEA can not rule out that such high values ​​occur even at greater distances.

"We are dealing with the super-Gau now, " commented Sebastian Pflugbeil, President of the Society for Radiation Protection, these results. "The comparisons with Chernobyl become serious. Further evacuation is urgently needed. "After the Chernobyl disaster. At that time, the Russian authorities defined hotspots of locally limited contamination of more than 555, 000 becquerels per square meter. "That is the magnitude measured by the IAEA between 16 and 58 km in Japan, " says Pflugbeil. "The extent of this zone in Japan is comparable to the exclusion zone west of Chernobyl." Pflugbeil also warns against further minimizing the contamination of the sea.

Nevertheless, clear differences to Chernobyl

The president of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), Wolfram König, however, sees clear differences between the situation in Chernobyl and in Fukushima: "In Chernobyl, there was a fire of the reactor. This reactor was graphite moderated, that is, there was combustible material directly in the reactor core. This fire has caused the substances, the radioactive particles, to be released very high into the atmosphere. Such a fire is not possible in Japanese boiling-water reactors, "said K nig in an interview with dpa. display

Furthermore, in Japan we have previously had a weather situation which, in the case of an explosive release of the reactor material, does not favor a rise of the radioactive substances to great heights. However, of course, in a longer period of time it can be expected that these particles will also be very dilute in the atmosphere. If necessary, this could be analyzed in the measuring system Schauinsland. "

Radiation measurement map Germany: No values ​​as yet increased BfS

Lowest traces of radionuclides possible over Germany

What does the release of radioactivity in Fukushima mean for Europe and Germany? The weather observations of the disaster area show that the wind has transported the radioactivity that has leaked in Japan mainly to the open sea. Despite the great attenuation of the radioactive cloud on its way around the globe, the ultra-sensitive measuring devices in use in Germany can detect radioactive substances even in the slightest traces in the air. According to media reports, radioactive substances in the air originating from the nuclear power plant accident in Japan have already been detected in Iceland.

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) operates an integrated measurement and information system (IMIS) for the comprehensive monitoring of radioactivity in the environment in Germany. Therefor are

comprehensive coverage of about 1, 800 measuring stations in constant use. So there is always a detailed picture of the radiological situation in Germany.

Specific data from the respective regions are posted on the BfS website. Further measurements are published by the German Weather Service and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt. In addition, the activity concentrations in the air are measured at 50 measuring stations of the German Weather Service. In addition, samples from food and feed, plants and soil as well as drinking water and bodies of water are analyzed in more than 60 federal and state laboratories.

More on this subject in our Dossier Out of Control and in the Special Nuclear Accident in Japan

(BMU, BfS, 24.03.2011 - NPO)