Fruits and huge flowers, two-headed lizards, worms with irreparably damaged DNA, giant fish and birds species with reduced fertility. Nature itself tells the story of Fukushima disaster five years later. On March 11, 2015, a tsunami generated by a 9th grade earthquake 30 km deep strikes the Japanese coast, causing 15,700 deaths, 4,600 missing people, 130,000 displaced people and destroying 332,000 buildings. Yet, that is only the beginning. The wave, in fact, strikes also the two reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster in history, together with Chernobyl. But with a major difference: if the impact of the tragedy in Ukraine was at least limited after the explosion in the open, we cannot say yet that the emergency in Japan has ended. Reluctance to remediate and delays, this case is damaging the myth of transparency and efficiency of a country that had made safe atom in a credo due to the tragedies of the Second World War.
According to the report “Radiation Reloaded”, published by the Japanese offshoot of Greenpeace, the injuries caused to forests, rivers, and estuaries will last for decades, if not centuries. The long-lasting radioactive elements have been absorbed by plants and animals, then, they gathered again through food chains and were dragged into the Pacific Ocean by typhoons, floods, and by melting snow. It proves, Ulrich Kendra points out, that “the decontamination programme of the Japanese government will have almost no impact on the reduction of the ecological risk associated with the huge amount of radioactivity released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster.” A real slap in the face of nature.
“Over 9 million cubic meters of nuclear waste are already spread over at least 113,000 sites in the prefecture of Fukushima,” he continued. Not to mention that they tell the victims “that it is safe to go back, in environments where radiation levels are often too high and which are surrounded by a heavy contamination”. Analyses showed high concentrations of radioactive elements in the new leaves and, at least in the case of the cedars, even in the pollen; increased mutations in the growth process of fir trees in concomitance with the increase of radioactivity levels; heritable mutations found in “Pseudozizeria maha” butterflies. Besides, activists cite proofs of the quantitative reduction of the 57 bird species in the areas where contamination is highest; high levels of contamination due to cesium in freshwater fish important from a commercial point of view; radiological contamination of estuaries.
So far, the Japanese government has spent 135 billion euros to restore the city of Fukushima Prefecture lowering radiation levels. The government wants to speed up the process, but there are still difficulties because “the plant continues to contaminate the sea”, as the former Prime Minister Naoto Kan admitted. Futuba, the closest city to the nuclear power plant, is a ghostly place, destined to become a dumping ground for radioactive waste. Naraha has more chances. It might be repopulated starting from next month. Provided that people will be able to overcome fear of contamination. Last year, 4 years after the disaster, was registered the first case of leukemia directly attributable to radiation exposure. The victim was a young man who worked to clean the plant from October 2012 to December 2013. Moreover, 75,311 children were surveyed over the years following the catastrophe and at least one of them was affected by thyroid cancer and there were storng suspects about 7 more children. All this is happening while a few hundred kilometers away, North Korea is threatening to launch a nuclear attack. Not even Fukushima horrors have been enough to hold man back from the temptation of self-destruction.