Minamisoma City holds a Marathon at Radiation Contaminated Course

The 25th marathon called “the Dedication to the Revival of Sports in Minamisoma” was held December 2, 2012, in Minamisoma City, Fukushima. This event was cancelled last year due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The executive chairman of the event was Mayor Sakurai. Sponsors were Minamisoma city, Minamisoma Board of Education, Fukushima Minyu Newspaper, the local Track and Field Association. Special cosponsors were Nippon Electric Company, Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Systems, Ltd, and commercial associations.

 

Minamisoma is located 10 km to 30 km north of Fukushima Daiichi. Although about a third of the city was originally designated as an evacuation zone (within a 20 km radius around the plant), the designation was lifted, except for a segment of the zone, in August 2012 due to 20 millisieverts per year (mSv/y), the standard that Japanese government set as a temporary maximum radiation limit. The executive committee decided to hold the marathon, saying the radiation at the marathon course was monitored and the course was cleaned up. However, according to the radiation monitoring map on the home page of Minamisoma City, the maximum dose was 0.71 µSv/h (6.2 mSv/year) and the minimum dose was 0.2 µSv/h (1.8 mSv/year), well exceeding 1 mSv/year. Moreover, based on a measurement by citizens, a high dose of 1.55 µSv/h (14 mSv/year) was detected near the town hall along the marathon course.

In order to encourage participation, the committee made participation free of charge for elementary and junior high school students, gave discounts to parent-child participants, and called for participants from other municipalities, and athletes who were originally from Minamisoma. The number of participants totaled 2,367: 2,004 runners (in races ranging from a 1.5 km to half marathon) and 363 walkers. About 860 of them were elementary and junior high school students. About 100 elementary and junior high schoolers from nine other municipalities in and out of Fukushima Prefecture attended. The marathon had six races, including 3 km, 5 km, 10 km and half marathon, and consisted of 32 sections based on age groups and gender.

A group of experts, the “Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures (ACSIR)”, claimed that this event was highly dangerous as it allowed children and adolescents to breathe hard from running in a highly irradiated area, and requested immediate cancellation in its written protest. The Association is also protesting that the committee should be brought up on criminal charges as it decided to hold the event under the condition of a large radiation exposure to children and youth, with its associated health hazards.

 

Minamisoma City is planning to hold this marathon event again next December.

 

Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures (ACSIR)

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