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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Japan's Environment Ministry official, Goshi Hosono, under fire for dumping radioactive soil near home - 17th Nov 2011

A Ministry of the Environment official has dumped radioactive soil on a vacant lot of land near his home in Saitama Prefecture after the soil was sent to the ministry by a Fukushima resident, it has been announced.

Environment Minister Goshi Hosono revealed during a press conference on Nov. 17 that an employee of his ministry had thrown away the soil containing radioactive materials near his home after the soil apparently collected in the city of Fukushima was sent to the ministry earlier this month. The ministry has so far received such soil twice, and the dumped soil was one of the two portions.

"It is something that should never have happened at the Environment Ministry, which is in charge of decontaminating radioactive materials. I deeply apologize to the general public," Hosono said.

According to the ministry, a cardboard box smaller than one containing A4 copy paper was sent to the ministry at around 9 a.m. on Nov. 8. Inside the box was a portion of soil wrapped in a plastic bag and a letter reading, "This soil was collected at my home in Fukushima city. I want the Environment Ministry to keep it and dispose of it," with the sender's name added. The letter also contained data on radiation dosages measured around the sender's home.

The levels of radiation emitted from the soil were 0.18 microsieverts per hour when measured 0.8 meters away and 0.6 microsieverts outside the plastic bag containing the soil. The radioactive concentration of the soil was estimated to be around 4,000 becquerels per kilogram. Read More