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Wednesday, 28th August 2013
In General Japan News,

Chernobyl and Fukushima to be monitored from space

The governments of Japan and Ukraine have today (August 28th ) announced a joint surveillance project that will see the sites of the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters monitored from space by satellite.

According to Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida, the venture was proposed following his visit to Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe that sent radioactive fallout all the way from the Soviet Union across to Europe.

"We have agreed on cooperation in the space sector to monitor the regions surrounding Chernobyl and Fukushima," Mr Kishida told reporters.

"Yesterday at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, I was impressed with the fact that even after 27 years since the accident Ukraine still continues to struggle with the consequences of the disaster."

In 2011, Japan faced a similar crisis after a tsunami disabled the safety measures at the Fukushima power plant. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and the cleanup is expected to take around four decades.

Both events were categorised as level seven on the United Nations’ seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale, a factor that inspired the venture between the two countries.

The joint project will see eight small satellites sent into orbit by 2014. These will gather information on the effects of radiation on the areas closest to Fukushima and Chernobyl by taking images every two hours of the affected locations from an altitude of 600 kilometres.

It is hoped that the devices will also receive information from sensors installed on the ground designed to collect information about radiation levels.

Tokyo University and the Ukrainian state space agency will run the project, with the Japanese-developed satellites launched into space by Ukrainian carrier rockets.

News of the joint project comes as the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) rushes to contain a radioactive leak at the Fukushima site.

Written by Mark Smith

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Government ban on Fukushima food widened (23rd March 2011)
Japan marks 5 years since tsunami (11th March 2016)