Levels of radioactivity from Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex may be above government limits for infants in some areas outside the plant's 20-kilometer evacuation zone, according to the latest estimate to fuel an international debate over how close civilians should be allowed to the plant.
The new estimate, by a state-funded monitoring body, came as fears over Tokyo's tap water eased. Tests Thursday also showed radioactive material in a major plant supplying water to the capital has fallen to below the level the government says could pose long-term health risks to infants. Elevated levels in samples from the plant Tuesday and Wednesday sparked official warnings and bottled-water sales.
But the model showed that areas where cumulative exposure over 12 days reached 100 millisieverts—the government's maximum for infants—extended beyond the evacuation zone. A map based on data from the center showed areas that received a cumulative 100 millisieverts extended as far as about 40 kilometers northeast and south from the plant.
Government officials said the center's estimate doesn't require a larger evacuation, under even the most conservative standards. They said a person would have to have been in the area, and outdoors for the entire time since the March 11 earthquake, to receive that full dose.
This is an example of a long hard slog getting the plant under control is going to be.Still, the test results demonstrate the uncertainty surrounding the measuring of radioactive emissions from the power plant.