Boo-hoo-hoo Fukushima Diary, Part 5

Residents want to know if city is safe or not

The silent residents of Fukushima are still very interested in how to regard the current state of radiation contamination that resulted from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant. Is Fukushima safe or dangerous? People would turn out for a lecture titled “Fukushima Is Safe” as well as one titled “Fukushima Is Dangerous.”

One day, my elder brother, who until then had shown no interest in radiation contamination, came over and asked to borrow my dosimeter. Then he measured at waist level the radiation only in the areas he walks through on a regular basis. He came back relieved after finding that the levels were low. This was completely unlike what I do. I’m always walking around looking for spots with high levels of radiation.

Radioactive materials become concentrated in certain areas as a result of rain, etc., so levels vary greatly depending on where the radiation is measured. People who want to know about risks, look for dangerous areas. People who want to be reassured, look for safe areas.

How should we regard the disaster? In fact, it’s very complicated. But publicly the City of Fukushima asserts that the city is safe. The city has returned to normal, as if nothing ever happened. I sense great danger in that fact.

(Originally published on May 8, 2012)