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Fukushima’s surfers riding on radioactive waves

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation,” said one surfer. “We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now.”

Fukushima, Japan – On 11 March 2011, at 2:46 pm, Japan was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake which generated a tsunami along the coast. The casualties of the disaster included 18,500 dead, 90 percent of whom drowned in the tsunami wave. The bodies of 2,561 people were never recovered.

The tsunami hit the Daaichi nuclear power plant as well, a level-7 catastrophe that was the equivalent of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown disaster.

Over the course of five years, nearly 50,000 people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks according to government press releases. They remove between 5 and 30 cm of contaminated soil every day and place them in plastic bags, which are stored on the outskirts of town, pending a better solution.

In Tairatoyoma beach, a prefecture of Fukushima and some 50km from the nuclear plant, was among the most popular areas for Japanese surfers prior to the nuclear accident.

Surprisingly, despite the presence of radiation in the sand and water, some dedicated surfers continue to come here to catch some waves. They are aware of the risks, and the hundreds of bags of contaminated sand piled up on the beach serve as a constant reminder of the health risks to them. 

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation,” said one surfer. “We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now.”

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Tairatoyoma beach, in the prefecture of Fukushima, 50km from the nuclear plant, was among the most popular areas with Japanese surfers before the accident.

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“I come to Tairatoyoma beach and surf several times a week. it is my passion, I can’t stop surfinhg”, says this surfer. The sign next to him in Japanese indicates that the area is restricted area.

Japanese surfer in the contaminated area after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tairatoyoma beach, Japan

Some surfers were on the beach when the tsunami struck. ‘The earth shook, we came back on Tairatoyoma beach, and a few minutes later, the tsunami wave arrived,’ recalls one surfer. ‘None of the surfers who were on the beach died, as we had time to escape. Those who were in their homes were taken by the waves by surprise and they died.’

 

Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant five years after the tsunami, Fukushima prefecture, Futaba, Japan

Over the course of five years, nearly 50,000 people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks. Nearly 500,000 people were evacuated because of the tsunami and the nuclear accident.

A radiation dosimeter placed inthe difficult-to-return zone after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

A radiation dosimeter placed in the difficult-to-return zone after the Daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Radiation sensors indicate the level of radioactivity. But no one is present to read the sensors in the red zones, classified as ‘difficult to return to zones’ by the government.

Roadblock in the difficult-to-return zone after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Roadblock in the difficult-to-return zone after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Residents receive compensation from Tepco company based on the degree of contamination of their homes. In the red zone they receive 1,000$ a month per person. That has created tensions in the population because those who live on the other side of the barrier, like here in Tomioka, do not receive as much.

 

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In the ‘orange zone’, residents have the right to visit their home if they wish to take care of it. In the town of Naraha. This man has come to weed his garden. His wife refuses to come back, and he will not bring his children. He never sleeps in his contaminated home. He knows the dangers well as he has worked at the nuclear plant.

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Abandoned car after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami five years after in the difficult-to-return zone, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Cities distant from the sea, like Tomioka, were only affected by the earthquake and the radiation, not by the tsunami. They have now turned into ghost towns.

 

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Thirty million tonnes of contaminated soil are stocked in open-air sites.

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The Tairatoyoma beach was popular for its sand, but the tsunami washed this sand away. Now, a concrete wall offers protection against the waves. A few rare foreigners venture here to surf according to the Japanese surfers.

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The surfers cannot ignore the riskS. There are hundreds of bags of contaminated sand piled up on the beach. ‘The government keeps telling us that things are back to normal in the region. But we can see that few people have come back. There are only elderly people. Children are kept away,’ said one surfer.

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Despite knowing the risks, surfers are undeterred and willing to take the risk to surf in these waters. ‘I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation. We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now,’said one surfer.

 

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The people from the Fukushima prefecture had supported the construction of the nuclear power plants in the region because this brought jobs and prosperity to this rural area.

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An employee of the nuclear plant said that he would never swim there as the water is too contaminated. Five of his friends who worked at the plant have now brain damage.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2016/08/fukushima-surfers-riding-radioactive-waves-160826095748798.html

 

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August 28, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] ~Fukushima’s surfers riding on radioactive waves […]

    Pingback by FUKUSHIMA RADIATION FOR 100,000 YEARS: SARCOPHAGUS COVER POINTLESS | Hemlock Tea Room | October 11, 2016 | Reply


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