Monday, March 5, 2012

Fukushima village comes together for radioactive cleanup and recovery project

IITATE, Fukushima -- The people of this village are all gone, ordered to leave last year due to radioactive contamination. The citizens of Iitate, however, are working for the day they might return, as dump trucks rumble through the abandoned center loaded with soil and other materials for disposal -- part of a government model decontamination operation.

The villagers were told in April 2011 that they would have to evacuate Iitate by June the same year after a plume of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant washed over the community. A 320-billion-yen cleanup operation is now under way under the slogan, "Let's everyone go home together," while the village's recovery plan -- finalized on Dec. 16 last year -- calls for reducing contamination to the point that voluntary returns can begin in five years.

The village's decontamination plan, however, does not entirely jibe with the central government's. Announced at the end of January, the village work schedule calls for decontamination to start with areas at high elevations -- at odds with the central government's orders that the worst-contaminated sites be given priority. The village administration made the decision based on experiments that showed rain water was washing radioactive materials from the high ground into low-lying areas. Read More