Mar 30, 2017 I Brett Tingley

Residents Are Returning to Japan’s Nuclear Ghost Towns

On March 11, 2011, residents of the many towns surrounding the critically-injured Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had to evacuate their homes and businesses with little to no warning due to the danger of radiation spewing from the meltdown of the plant’s crippled reactors. Some of those individuals might now be coming back to the radioactive wasteland that they know as home sweet home. On April 1st, the Japanese government will lift the quarantine placed on one town, Namie, which lies just three miles (5 kilometers) from the doomed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Most of the town was flattened by the 2011 tsunami which caused the nuclear meltdown, and the majority of its 20,000 thousand inhabitants have been in temporary housing ever since.

Despite the severity of the accident, only two deaths have been attributed to the meltdown.

Namie was situated just inside the “Red Zone,” the area of worst radioactive contamination surrounding the plant and tsunami flood zone. While radiation levels continue to spike and pose a deadly threat to some of the areas closest to the failed reactors (not to mention the danger posed by those pesky radioactive boars), officials assure Namie citizens that their city is ready to be reclaimed from the radiation left by the meltdown.

Regulatory officials had been warned of the threat of tsunamis in the past.

Despite those reassurances, many Namie natives refuse to go back to the areas around Fukushima. A government poll last year showed that fifty-three percent of Fukushima residents have chosen to never return to their homes. Ken Nollett, director of radiation medicine at Fukushima Medical University, told New Scientist that this is because many of them are skeptical about trusting the government's science and assurances:

It’s very difficult to convince the public that it is safe to return. They don’t accept the scientists’ view, because they see us as nuclear allies.

Nevertheless, many others have chosen to move back into their ruined homes and pick up the pieces of their lives exactly where they left them six years ago. Some Fukushima locals told the SBS in Australia that they have even refused to wear protective gear in an attempt to regain a sense of normalcy to their lives. Whether or not the radioactive ghosts of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster will come back to haunt them will surely be seen in the coming years.

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Nah, it's fine. I'm sure the previous owner doesn't need them any longer.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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