5 June 2012

Fukushima - Abandoned by Disaster

On the 11th of March 2011 an earthquake struck Japan. This was followed by a tsunami and the resulting damage caused a leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant. While the 3 working reactors went offline following the earthquake, the emergency generators used to cool them were disconnected as a result of the damage and the reactors began to overheat. An exclusion zone 20 km wide was set up and people were evacuated. Many of the towns surrounding the plant remain abandoned. Reports indicate that the nuclear material released was a tenth of that which made it into the atmosphere following the Chernobyl disaster. Both events have many similarities and of course Prypiat, where the Chernobyl disaster happened, is probably the world’s most famous ghost town. The video below is a BBC report from 6 months after the disaster.

Also, if you’re interested in some really in-depth reading about the disaster, Anne Kaneko has a very interesting blog about it. Well worth a read http://annekaneko.blogspot.com -

My internet is working at last so I can reply. I am alright but it has been a scary day.

I was just leaving a conference when it happened. The building roared and the cars were bouncing around in the carpark. I crouched on the ground. It went on for a very long time. Very scary. And it was snowing hard and windy too. I drove like mad back to work (about 15 mins), along the way car showrooms with the glass windows smashed, walls collapsed. Everyone was out in the yard. No one hurt, thank god. We stopped production and sent everyone home. The main machine not working. Needs welding tomorrow - if we can get someone to do it. Had to wait till we could account for all the salesmen. Three out in Iwaki, two had to abandon their cars and head for higher ground. They saw the tsunami. They're back now though safe and sound.

I walked home. The stone lanterns at the shrine smashed to the ground, a parked car hit by debris. The pavement ominously cracked and raised as I approached my apartment. Our ancient office building had stood up quite welll and I really wasn't prepared for the damage in my upmarket apartment. The residents had organised a 'welcoming party' and a young man went with me up the the stairs to the 7th floor. Debris everywhere. My door opened but won't shut. I grabbed my valuables and went down to join some of the other residents to watch telly in the caretaker's office but eventually decided to come back up to the apartment. I have electricity, TV, heating and I've cleaned up the worst of the mess. Half my crockery is smashed. So I'm OK. But the shocks continue and I won't be sleeping tonight. The scariest thing was the lack of information and phone communication. I still can't use my mobile. I was getting calls from England but none from Japan and unable to make any. I still don't know how things are in our Sendai office.

Also, the TV is full of reporters telling us what's happening but there's a distinct lack of experts telling us what to do. I guess they're busy.The news is horrific, hundreds dead in the tsunami, Kasen-numa (where we holidayed once when Takeshi was small) ablaze.

The economic toll will be huge. For starters, how are we going to get the 120 doors in this apartment alone fixed? And what do I do until it is fixed?

Watch this space.

Thanks for your concern

Anne

Location: Fukushima, Japan

Category: Ghost Town

Abandoned: 2011

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