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Japan Increases Limits on Radiation Exposure Before Nuke Reactors Restart

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Amid preparations to restart nuclear reactors shut down following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown, the Japanese government plans to set a new standard for the permissible upper limit of radiation exposure for those in charge of anti-disaster operations.

The list of those affected by the change in standards includes local government officials, police and fire department officials, as well as bus drivers, who would be charged with securing the steady evacuation of local residents in case of a nuclear accident.

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Currently, the maximum permissible radiation dose is 1 millisievert per year for ordinary residents, 50 millisieverts per year for decontamination workers, and 100 millisieverts per year for nuclear plant workers; the upper limit for police and fire department officials as well as national public servants and other relevant personnel, previously subject to the same standard as that for ordinary local residents, will be raised to 100 millisieverts per year in emergency situations.

During the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, a considerable number of necessary people, such as government staff, were not secured for the local task force near the damaged nuclear power complex, which rendered evacuations and the transport of necessary emergency supplies difficult. The new standard is aimed at preventing similar obstacles in future, The Mainichi reported.

"As it is possible that local officials and bus drivers will carry out their duty where radiation levels are relatively high, we need a new standard in order to provide effective evacuation guidance as well," a Cabinet Office official said.

Discussion of the new standard by a working group within the Cabinet Office is scheduled for next month.

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