Here in the United States, we have little if anything to worry about in regards to Fukushima’s fallout, but in Japan it’s an entirely different story. The catastrophe happened on their soil and the Japanese people are feeling it. They have questions not being answered, death tolls that are steadily rising, a cleanup that is lagging far behind, and pressure to reopen the other nuclear plants of Japan.
The exact radioactivity surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is disputed. Weeks after the disaster, it was estimated that 10,000 times as much radioactive cesium 137 was contaminating the immediate area of the Pacific Ocean than was produced during the Chernobyl meltdown. But it is hard to come by any solid, peer-reviewed, and publicly accessible data, as most of Japan’s scientist skitter away from “bad tasting” outcomes and fall to pressure to put this debacle under pretty lights. Overall, the toll Fukushima has taken on Japan’s environment is mostly unknown.
The toll on its people however has been relatively high. To date, approximately 2,969 people in both the Fukushima Prefecture and surrounding areas have died as indirect results of the meltdown—usually due to a stress related illness cause by their displacement due to Fukushima. And that’s on top of the 1,607 people who passed in direct relation to the meltdown. Added to that is a small percentage rise in children’s cancer rates.
Cleanup isn’t helping either. Although the government has proposed a plan to dump quantities of treated contaminated water into the Pacific—a global common practice that honestly won’t hurt anything—to reduce the overload Fukushima is seeing, there are other hampering problems. These problems lie in the unskilled and untrained cleanup crews. In a desperate need for workers, Tepco—the owners of the Fukushima nuclear powerplant—have hired people who have never worked with such sensitive material and are being sent out without the needed training.Most of the Japanese are pretty clear on one thing: they don’t want nuclear power back. Only 10% of the villages that host nuclear plants are willing to reopen their hearts to the cause, and the majority of them want reforms in precautions beforehand.