Fleeing from Fukushima


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The grandson, mother, father, and grandmother all made headsets that share their objects and experiences from this new reality.

Filmed in and around the uninhabited radioactive area, the video presents an intimate experience of the inaccessible zone, the confidential venues for the exhibition Don't Follow the Wind , and the power plant itself. The invisible exhibition is dated 11 March — ongoing, commencing on the fourth anniversary of the disastrous Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

It will open to the public when the exclusion zone is lifted. Fri 19 May - Sat 15 July As they pick their way past rice paddies and wooded villages left empty by fleeing families, they also collect samples of insects, wildflowers, and other plants. At each stop they measure the radiation level with a handheld device called a dosimeter.

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They completed an initial survey last summer and a second in February and are now comparing those findings with what they might have expected under normal conditions. Amid the horrific loss of life and property, the researchers are buoyed by the hope that understanding how radioactive exposure affects various species over time will help scientists and policy makers assess the risks to ecosystems and humans, says Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at University of South Carolina.

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Four months after the Daiichi meltdown, Mousseau began studying local ecosystems with a team that includes Danish researcher Anders Pape Moller and scientists from Nagasaki, Tokyo, and Fukushima universities. Using sampling points in the forested areas west of the mile exclusion zone around the power plant, they recorded the number of individual birds they saw or heard during five-minute counts. Birds are the ideal sentinels for studying potential impacts of radiation to humans because they share many basic biological processes and are easy to observe, Mousseau says.

For more than a decade he and Moller have been analyzing avian species in another irradiated area, the 77, square miles contaminated by the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. Among their findings there: reduced numbers and longevity of birds; diminished fertility in male birds; smaller brains in some birds; and mutations in swallows and other species that indicate significant genetic damage.

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Barn swallows and wood warblers, among other species, are locally extinct. At Fukushima the scientists are using the protocols established in Chernobyl to study house martins, great reed warblers, white wagtails, Eurasian wrens, and 10 other common species found in both places. Mousseau and his team will repeat their bird survey this coming summer, eventually evaluating the life history of 10 generations of birds in the Fukushima contaminated area. They also plan to examine rates of photosynthesis in trees to see how varying contamination levels affect them.

They came to Japan after a stint at a refugee camp in Malaysia. But as of July 19, the service had been used just 10 times.

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Though Okabe can offer them safety for a time, the root of the problem remains. Many trainees want to continue working in Japan, but the internship program does not let them switch workplaces of their own will. They also cannot work part-time jobs, unlike students from foreign countries. So far, he has managed to help two people move.

Fukushima Residents Return Despite Radiation - Scientific American

At least 10 are still waiting. But most cannot apply for a number of reasons, such as their former workplaces failing to issue necessary documents. Some trainees end up fleeing their jobs after coming to Japan without a full grasp of the working conditions. More than a few ex-trainees were found to have worked illegally after vanishing from their internship posts.

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