Fukushima desolation worst since Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

on . Posted in Articles of Interest

TOKYO, Japan - October 7, 2011 - Beyond the police roadblocks that mark the no-go zone around the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 7-foot-tall weeds invade rice paddies and vines gone wild strangle road signs along empty streets.

Takako Harada, 80, returned to an evacuated area of Iitate, a village in Fukushima Prefecture, to retrieve her car. Beside her house is an empty cattle pen, the 100 cows slaughtered on government orders after radiation from the March 11 atomic disaster saturated the area, forcing 160,000 people to move away and leaving some places uninhabitable for two decades or more.

"Older folks want to return, but the young worry about radiation," said Harada, whose family ran the farm for 40 years. "I want to farm, but will we be able to sell anything?"

What is emerging six months since the nuclear meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant is a radioactive zone bigger than that left by the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

While nature reclaims the 20-km no-go zone, Fukushima's 240 billion yen a year farm industry is being devastated and tourists that hiked the prefecture's mountains and surfed off its beaches have all but vanished.

The March earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear crisis and left almost 20,000 people dead or missing may cost 17 trillion yen, hindering any possibility of an economic recovery from two decades of stagnation.

A government panel investigating Tepco's finances estimated the cost of compensation to people affected by the nuclear disaster will exceed 4 trillion yen.

The bulk of radioactive contamination cuts a 5-10 km-wide swath of land running as far as 30 km northwest of the nuclear plant, surveys of radiation hot spots by the science ministry show. The government extended evacuations beyond the 20-km zone in April to cover this corridor, which includes parts of Iitate.

No formal evacuation zone was set up in Hiroshima after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945, though as the city rebuilt, relatively few people lived within 1 km of the hypocenter, according to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. Food shortages forced a partial evacuation of the city in the summer of 1946.

On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl reactor hurled 180 metric tons of nuclear fuel into the atmosphere, creating the world's first exclusion zone of 30 km around a nuclear plant. A quarter of a century later, the zone is still classed as uninhabitable. About 300 residents have returned despite government restrictions.

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