In 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to melt down. After radioactive material was released into the air, over 100,000 people were evacuated from an area roughly the size of Los Angeles. The area was then divided into three zones – one where people were permitted to return to, one where some areas were deemed safe to live, and one deemed uninhabitable due to the high levels of radiation. Almost ten years later, the wildlife in the area is thriving. Yes, even in the restricted areas.
What’s big, “green,” and able to provide clean power for almost a thousand people?
image via youtube screen capture
For those interested in clean renewable energy, we’re living in exciting times. Recent news that we’re adding more green energy capacity every year than that of oil, coal, and gas combined was heralded as “the beginning of the end” for fossil fuels, and every day it seems there are new advances in the field of clean, sustainable power. But, in terms of sheer scale, it’s hard to not be particularly impressed with these massive, solar energy plants unveiled this week in Japan. But it’s not just the staggering size of the solar fields that have observers so excited; It’s the fact that plants this large and this powerful are, in fact, entirely aquatic.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster shows how strong and determined people can be when faced with the loss of everything they know and love.
The people I've met in Japan in the two years since the devastating tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster have shown me once again how strong and determined people can be when faced with the loss of everything they know and love.
I am talking about the evacuees who have been forced to abandon their homes, jobs, and communities. The disaster forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee the area to escape the radiation contamination following the March 2011 earthquake.
As we approach the two year anniversary of the disaster, little has changed.
Radiation levels are still too high for most evacuees to return home and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. The few that have returned do so with the knowledge they are likely facing health risks.
This is the reality of nuclear power: a meltdown may not have an immediate radiation-related death toll, but as time progresses the true costs to physical, mental and societal health start to unfold.
Once tight-knit communities are fragmenting. Terms like 'Fukushima divorce' are creeping into the vocabulary and after two years of living in temporary housing, people are losing hope.
They cannot move on and start building new lives because they are not being properly compensated. How can you afford to begin a new life when you are still paying the mortgage for a house that is contaminated and unsafe to live in?
Hope is disappearing. But the determination to move forward and fight for what is right is growing.
Tired of waiting for the government to provide clear information, proper compensation, clean neighborhoods and safe food, the people of Fukushima are taking matters into their own hands.
They are launching class action suits and seeking damages from TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, they are working together to ensure their foods are safe and they are seeking their own news and advice instead of relying on the government’s lackluster information.
Some people have been especially outspoken about these problems.
One of them, Kenta Sato, started using social media soon after the disaster to pressure the government into releasing accurate information about his village of Litate.
Take a trip with photographer Donald Weber inside Fukushima's exclusion zone.
In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, photographer Donald Weber set out for the "exclusion zone" around the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Residents of this buffer area were forced to evacuate immediately after the tsunami struck, leaving an eerie abandoned urban landscape. Besides the military, Weber and his partner were, he believes, "the only other people to go to the exclusion zone and actually see what the reality is there."