Home > Man-Made Disasters > Japan: The Mounting Human Costs of Japan’s Nuclear Disaster as Wind Spreads Radioactive Particles Over Wide Areas

Japan: The Mounting Human Costs of Japan’s Nuclear Disaster as Wind Spreads Radioactive Particles Over Wide Areas


“CREST the hill into the village of Iitate, and the reading on a radiation dosimeter surges eightfold—even with the car windows shut. ‘Don’t worry, I’ve been coming here for months and I’m still alive,’ chuckles Chohei Sato, chief of the village council, as he rolls down the window and inhales cheerfully. He pulls off the road, gets out of the car and buries the dosimeter in the grass. The reading doubles again.

Iitate is located 45km (28 miles) from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami on March 11th this year. In the mountains above the town, the forests are turning the colour of autumn. But their beauty is deceptive. Every time a gust of wind blows, Mr Sato says it shakes invisible particles of radioactive caesium off the trees and showers them over the village. Radiation levels in the hills are so high that villagers dare not go near them. Mr Sato cannot bury his father’s bones, which he keeps in an urn in his abandoned farmhouse, because of the dangers of going up the hill to the graveyard.

Iitate had the misfortune to be caught by a wind that carried radioactive particles (including plutonium) much farther than anybody initially expected after the nuclear disaster. Almost all the 6,000 residents have been evacuated, albeit belatedly, because it took the government months to decide that some villages outside a 30km radius of the plant warranted special attention. Now it offers an extreme example of how difficult it will be to recover from the disaster.

That is mainly because of the enormous spread of radiation. Recently the government said it needed to clear about 2,419 square kilometres of contaminated soil—an area larger than greater Tokyo—that received an annual radiation dose of at least five millisieverts, or over 0.5 microsieverts an hour. That covered an area far beyond the official 30km restriction zone (see map). Besides pressure- hosing urban areas, this would involve removing about 5cm of topsoil from local farms as well as all the dead leaves in caesium-laden forests.” Read more.

Actual Fukushima worker warns to get out of Japan before Spring comes – “Children have already started to have thyroid problems ‘even though they evacuated’. It was assumed to take 5 years but the symptoms are showing up much faster than we ever thought. Now it’s known that most part of the plume is stuck to the trees or soil in the mountains, where you can hardly decontaminate. Last night, the actual Fukushima worker Happy20790 tweeted these below: ‘Speaking of the pine, the pollen next year is very ‘serious’ … radiation will spread around again even though they decontaminate.'” Read more.

Categories: Man-Made Disasters
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