Radioactivity research facility to be established at Fukushima University in fiscal 2013

To be jointly administered by Hiroshima University and others

by Yuki Kuwata, Staff Writer

On March 6 Fukushima University announced that an Environmental Radioactivity Research Institute will be established in fiscal year 2013 in cooperation with Hiroshima University and other institutions. The institute will investigate the effects of radioactive materials released as a result of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant and use its findings to come up with effective methods of decontamination and ways to reduce the amount of radiation in foods.

The plan calls for the institute to be located on the campus of Fukushima University and to be jointly administered by six universities and research organizations including Hiroshima University and Nagasaki University. France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) and Belarusian State University will also cooperate with the new institute.

The institute will employ about 30 researchers. Recruitment from universities in both Japan and overseas will begin in April. The institute will receive a subsidy of approximately 1.2 billion yen from the central government and set up devices to measure radiation and other equipment.

The institute will measure the amount of radiation in plants and in the soil in various locations around Fukushima Prefecture and investigate the spread of radioactive materials. Researchers will also measure the amount of radiation in soil on the ocean floor and at the bottom of lakes and determine the amount of radioactive materials being carried along in rivers. The findings will be provided to Fukushima Prefecture and other agencies.

An exploratory committee has been drawing up plans for the institute since last summer. Among the members of the committee is Kenji Kamiya, director of Hiroshima University’s Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine and vice president of Fukushima Medical University. He said the institute will use amphibians and moss, which are highly susceptible to the effects of radioactive materials, to investigate the effects of exposure to low levels of radiation over a long period.

Takayuki Takahashi, vice president of Fukushima University, who has played a leading role in the establishment of the new institute, said, “We will investigate the effects of radioactive materials over the long term. I would like to put the data that Hiroshima University has accumulated to use in Fukushima.”

(Originally published on March 7, 2013)