Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees promised 2017 return but ‘ineffective’ clear-up may take 200 years


Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees promised 2017 return but ‘ineffective’ clear-up may take 200 years

In an abandoned village where 15,839 people used to live, an unnerving silence prevails.

The families have gone, their cars have been left to rust, and house roof tiles lie shattered on the pavement.

Something terrible has taken place.

Even though the power lines are still down above the deserted streets, a newly installed LED screen over the main road flashes up numbers: 3.741, 3.688, 3.551.

They are radioactivity readings measured in microsieverts per hour, taken from Geiger counters in the ground below.

The normal safe level of background radiation in the air for humans to live in is 0.2 microsieverts. Here in Tomioka, in the shadow of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, radiation is 19 times that.

Recent photographs purporting to show mutant daisies near the plant went viral on Twitter. No wonder people are not coming back.

In March 2011, the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl left the world fearing the extent of the fallout.

Japan’s 43 other reactors were shut down after the meltdown and remained dormant until earlier this month, when Japan restarted its nuclear power programme by turning on a reactor at its Sendai plant in northwest Japan.

But just last week, London-based radioactivity expert Dr Ian Fairlie claimed that while 2,000 people have already died from the effects of evacuation and suicide, another 5,000 could develop cancer after exposure to radiation.

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