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Japan Agency To Study Radiation Fallout From Fukushima

A state-run nuclear research agency in Japan will conduct a long-term study of radioactive fallout from the tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant on the Fukushima forests to see how the contamination affects human habitats.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency plans to begin the study later this month covering forests within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant whose cooling systems were knocked out in the March, 2011 massive tsunami, triggering meltdowns and radiation leaks in the worst atomic disaster since the Chernobil accident of 1986. Tens of thousands of people fled the area, most of which has been designated as a no-entry zone.

The study will also monitor rivers that collect underground spring-water from the area. Researchers will measure the levels of radioactive cesium and other substances in soil and water for around 20 years, Japanese media reported.

The agency hopes that long-term monitoring will enable it to predict how the contaminants are carried out of the forests by water and wind, and how they affect human habitats and the sea.

Meanwhile, the Electric Power Development Company (J-Power) said on Monday that it would resume the construction of its Ohma nuclear power plant in Aomori prefecture, the first such move in Japan since the Fukushima accident.

J-Power President Masayoshi Kitamura told a special session of the Ohma town assembly that his company decided to restart the project in the light of the government's recent clarification of its stance on uncompleted nuclear plants.

Even though the assembly members welcomed the decision, residents of the Hakodate city in Hokkaido, about 20 kilometers from the plant are opposed to the project.

Hakodate Mayor Toshiki Kudo told J-Power officials that his city would never accept the decision, because the Ohma project received government approval based on criteria set before the Fukushima accident. He also threatened legal action to stop the project.

J-Power began building the plant in 2008 but stopped after the Fukushima accident. The facility is nearly 40 percent complete.

The Fukushima accident had forced the government to have a rethinking on nuclear power and evolve a new energy policy aimed at saying goodbye to nuclear power by 2030, and promote renewable energy projects. Most of Japan's 50-odd nuclear reactors are remaining idle since the Fukushima accident as the country's nuclear regulator insisted on stricter safety review.

by RTT Staff Writer

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