Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fukushima: Cattle on Abandoned Ranch Starve to Death, No Sign of Owner’s Return

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. This is the first in a series of articles where we will report our findings from our time on the ground in Fukushima.

The location for our first story is a ranch in Namie, a town located 10 kilometers from the nuclear plant. Here, instead of the lively sounds of farmers going about their daily work, the air is filled with the desperate cries of abandoned cattle. Going to the barn to investigate, we found that over half the cattle in every pen were dead, and the rest were letting out heartbreaking cries for help as they stood among the corpses.

As of April 11th this ranch falls within the 20 kilometer evacuation zone enacted by the Japanese government, and is considered to be at risk of reaching radioactive levels significantly higher than those of other areas. As a result, the owner and staff of the ranch have all taken refuge elsewhere, leaving no one to provide the cattle food and water.

We can therefore presume that the cattle are dying of thirst and starvation, though the precise cause of the deaths has yet to be determined.

Normally, the cattle are able to use their nose to push a pedal that releases water at a drinking hole in the barn. However, no water came out when we tried for ourselves, suggesting that the water supply has been stopped. (read more)