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Monday, August 22, 2011

Ghost towns forever

The Japanese government has been going back and forth with the truth on a constant basis since the explosions and triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant five months ago. To give just one example, they haven't been able to decide what to tell the evacuees from the danger zone 20 kilometers (about 12.4 miles) or less from the plant about when they'll be allowed to return to their homes. A few weeks after the nuclear ordeal began, the nation's chief cabinet secretary said that the evacuation was for "the long term." A few weeks later, the government denied that he had ever said that. Beginning in May, the bureaucrats have been nattering on about possibly allowing evacuees to return home by January.

Now comes word -- not the least bit surprising -- that the initial report was correct. The current evacuation zone is likely to become a permanent exclusion zone -- a nuclear no-man's land. Maybe someone will be allowed back in there some day, but we're talking a generation or more from now, exactly like Chernobyl:

The government was apparently forced to alter its plans after the survey by the Ministry of Science and Education, released over the weekend, which showed even higher than expected radiation levels within the 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant. The most heavily contaminated spot was in the town of Okuma about two miles southwest of the plant, where someone living for a year would be exposed to 508.1 millisieverts of radiation — far above the level of 20 millisieverts per year that the government considers safe.

The survey found radiation above the safe level at three dozen spots up to 12 miles from the plant. That has called into question how many residents will actually be able to return to their homes even after the plant is stabilized.

Tens of thousands of people are now officially, permanently homeless as the result of the meltdowns. It's no doubt devastating for them. They won't even be paid the value of their lost property in a lump sum; instead, the utility and the government are going to "rent" it from them.

The latest news has also got to be alarming to the folks living just outside the 20-kilometer line. Airborne radiation from a nuclear accident doesn't fall to the ground uniformly; there are hot spots further away from the reactor that are worse than locations that are closer. No one in Japan trusts the government or Tokyo Electric to tell them the truth about Fukushima any more, and sadly, their suspicions are quite justified.

Comments (1)

What no nuke cle ar industry types jumping on this with some lie or another saying nothing to worry about or the cost is really not that great.

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