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Fukushima’s 83,000 nuclear refugees will never go home?

text ionisingJapan’s Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck in Limbo Near Fukushima, a Human Crisis Quietly Unfolds: The 83,000 refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas flag-japanaround the nuclear power plant are still unable to go home, two and a half years after the disaster. NYT, By  October 1, 2013  NAMIE, Japan — Every month, Hiroko Watabe, 74, returns for a few hours to her abandoned house near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to engage in her own small act of defiance against fate. She dons a surgical mask, hangs two radiation-measuring devices around her neck and crouches down to pull weeds……

“In my heart, I know we can never live here again,” said Ms. Watabe, who drove here with her husband from Koriyama, the city an hour away where they have lived since the disaster. “But doing this gives us a purpose. We are saying that this is still our home.”

While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home. Some have moved on, reluctantly, but tens of thousands remain in a legal and emotional limbo while the government holds out hope that they can one day return.

As they wait, many are growing bitter. Most have supported the official goal of decontaminating the towns so that people can return to homes that some families inhabited for generations. Now they suspect the government knows that the unprecedented cleanup will take years, if not decades longer than promised, as a growing chorus of independent experts have warned, but will not admit it for fear of dooming plans to restart Japan’s other nuclear plants.

That has left the people of Namie and many of the 10 other evacuated towns with few good choices. They can continue to live in cramped temporary housing and collect relatively meager monthly compensation from the government. Or they can try to build a new life elsewhere, a near impossibility for many unless the government admits defeat and fully compensates them for their lost homes and livelihoods……..

For Namie’s residents, government obfuscation is nothing new. On the day they fled, bureaucrats in Tokyo knew the direction they were taking could be dangerous, based on computer modeling, but did not say so for fear of causing panic. The townspeople headed north, straight into an invisible, radioactive plume…….

the cleanup hopelessly behind schedule in 8 of the 11 towns, which they originally promised would be cleaned by next March. Even in the places where cleanup has begun, other troubles have surfaced. Scouring the soil had only limited success in bringing down radiation levels, partly because rain carries more contaminants down from nearby mountains.

The Environmental Ministry now says the completion of the cleanup in the eight towns, including Namie, has been postponed and no new date has been set…….


October 4, 2013 - Posted by | Japan, social effects

1 Comment »

  1. […] Fukushima’s 83,000 nuclear refugees will never go home? […]

    Pingback by NHK Fukushima Documentary:”Yearning for Home; Fukushima Evacuees Face Difficult Choices” | Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News | October 6, 2013 | Reply

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