James Whitlow Delano
"FUKUSHIMA: TAKING BACK A NUCLEAR NO-MAN'S LAND"
“21,000 people used to live in Namie. I believe only one in ten people will ever return”, says dairy farm, Masami Yoshizawa. “The people (of Namie) have been sent to 27 different evacuation centers. This disaster has cut the ties that held this community together.” Most residents believe it was a single explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, driven northwest by an unusual onshore wind on a clear day, that delivered the radioactive fallout that changed their lives forever. There remains a vast network of nuclear ghost towns in the shadow cast by the fallout, outside the no-entry zone, where residents are trying to reclaim an irradiated no-man’s land even though they cannot permanently return to their homes. In the core zone, a generation may pass before anyone can live there but even some of these core highly radioactive areas are also open to temporary public access. I went to back these places to have another look. In these “open” areas, despite Mr. Yoshizawa’s pessimism, the Herculean effort of taking back a vast nuclear no-man’s land has begun. Still, he is justified in posing the question, how many residents will want to return? How can they ever be convinced that the environment will be safe to raise children?
Farmer, wearing a hazmat suit to protect against high rates of radiation, cuts weeds that have taken over his field so that he can then plough under the radiation-contaminated topsoil or even remove the topsoil altogether so that radiation levels in future crops can meet Japanese national standards one day in the future. The mountains northwest of crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant were highly contaminated by fall-out from explosions at the plant. Iitate-Mura, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.