DECONTAMINATION OF RESIDENTIAL AREAS
Beginning in August 2011, Date's administration began performing radiation monitoring every four months throughout the city.
For maximum effectiveness, the decontamination was carried out based on dose rates measured over a 1-km grid. This provided a precise image of the contamination and was used to divide the city into three areas (A, B, and C) according to level of radioactivity. The initial goal of the decontamination operations was to reduce individual exposure to below 5 mSv per year.
The two maps below show the results obtained between the first radiation monitoring campaign in August 2011 and the ninth campaign in March 2014.
Dosimetric mapping of the city of Date
First campaign, August 19-21, 2011
Ninth campaign, March 11-15, 2014
DISCUSSING PROJECTS WITH THE PEOPLE
How does one discuss this type of project with the people and get them involved? To help residents in Date quickly and easily understand the risks associated with radioactivity and the benefits of decontamination, Takahiro Hanzawa, a close associate of the mayor, came up with the idea of creating educational materials depicting the challenges and goals of decontamination.
For example, in one presentation, radioactive elements were compared to wild animals circling homes, ready to attack, decontamination was compared to an operation to capture these animals, and storage of contaminated soil was compared to their placement in an enclosure separating them from the population.
This original initiative illustrates the approach adopted by the city administration: involving residents in decision-making and implementation, based on constant dialogue and using innovative communication methods.
Ongoing support for clear improvements
In the spirit of ICRP publication 111, which states that “maintaining long-term restrictions on the production and consumption of foodstuffs may affect the sustainable development of the contaminated areas, and therefore call for appropriate implementation of the optimisation principle. Reconciling the interests of local farmers, producers, and the local population with those of consumers and the food distribution sector from outside the contaminated territory has to be considered carefully,” Mayor Nishida provided his support to farmers who decided to continue their agricultural activities with the final goal of offering safe products - peaches, apples, strawberries, grapes, persimmons, and other fruits - not only accepted throughout Japan, but also prized for their outstanding flavor.
Thanks to its proactive policy, the city of Date managed to keep most of its residents, with only 1,200 deciding to leave, and 800 of those later returning. The mayor’s ability to improve the living conditions of his residents rested on the intelligent coordination between his teams and NGOs, and on their capacity to draw on the experience of those, in Belarus and Norway, who developed actions to protect themselves.
Another factor was the willingness of the mayor to host meetings of the Fukushima Dialogue Initiative in Date city hall and to actively participate in it. This contributed significantly to the understanding of the human aspects of the situation and the particular importance of preserving the dignity of people living in the areas under rehabilitation, as well as reinforcement of local, national, and international solidarity.