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Nuclear fallout renders Fukushima, nearby towns uninhabitable for next few decades

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 Cinnamon    24,415

On this week's Danger Zone, Channel NewsAsia's Arglit Boonyai visits Fukushima and nearby towns suffering from the nuclear fallout of the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami of March 2011

FUKUSHIMA, Japan: Radiation, the invisible threat. There is something about having no control over a situation that makes it that much more scary.

In most danger zones, you can prepare yourself with training courses and strive to keep out of harm's way by avoiding potentially dangerous situations. Radiation, on the other hand, is everywhere. How do you defend yourself against that?

Of course, you can wear protective clothing and carry a Geiger counter to measure radiation levels, but you are never truly safe. Radiation is in the air, sticks to your clothes through dust and it can take years to see the affects.

That's why I wasn’t entirely surprised when my colleagues begun expressing their hesitations about filming in Fukushima - site of the world’s biggest nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl.


Arglit Boonyai measures the radiation levels with a Geiger counter. (Photo: CNA)

Bear in mind that they had already been to places like Iraq, and had even been willing to head to Liberia to cover the Ebola outbreak. It just goes to show that danger can be subtle and does not always come at the end of a gun barrel.

Fukushima left two distinct impressions: What living in a post apocalyptic ghost town would be like, and just how marvellously efficient and hard-working the Japanese are.

I have seen abandoned villages before; most times there is a sense of finality to them. It is as though the town’s time is up and the people have moved on. Fukushima is nothing like that.



Arglit Boonyai in Fukushima. Behind him, the desolation and decay are evident. (Photo: CNA)

It’s like time just stopped. I imagine it’s what it must have felt like aboard the Mary Celeste. In the town of Tomioka, where we spent some time filming, there were hints of past lives and lost memories everywhere - abandoned children’s toys and wedding albums lay strewn everywhere and we had no way of knowing if the owners were still alive.

If the tsunami had not destroyed most of the shops and houses in the area, there would be no explanation as to why the people there ever left, or why nature had slowly begun reclaiming the land covering collapsed buildings and the local train station.



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