Greenpeace has said it detected radiation hotspots near the starting point of the upcoming Olympic torch relay in Fukushima, Japan.
Japan’s environment ministry said the area was generally safe but it was in talks with local communities to survey the region before the 2020 Games, which open on 24 July.
The Japanese government is keen to use the Olympics to showcase Fukushima’s recovery from the 2011 tsunami. It intends to use J-Village, a sports complex located about 19km (12 miles) from the nuclear plant that was damaged in the disaster, as the starting point for the Japan leg of the torch relay taking place in March.
Originally designed as a training centre for athletes, J-Village functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the defunct reactors.
After a cleanup process, the sports centre became fully operational again in April this year, shortly after the torch relay decision.
Greenpeace urged fresh radiation monitoring and continued cleanup efforts, saying it had detected some spots with radiation levels as high as 1.7 microsieverts per hour when measured one metre above the surface.
This compared with the national safety standard of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, and a normal reading in Tokyo of around 0.04 microsieverts per hour. The hotspots showed a reading of 71 microsieverts per hour at the surface level, Greenpeace said.
However, J-Village’s website said the radiation reading at its main entrance was 0.111 microsieverts per hour on Wednesday, while one of its fields showed a reading of 0.085 microsieverts per hour.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the Fukushima plant, said it cleaned the spots on Tuesday after the environment ministry told the firm about them.
Greenpeace said it relayed its findings to the Japanese government as well as local and international Olympic organisers.
The group will publish a report of its findings in the region next year.