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Inside Fukushima Evacuation Zone

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Beitrag  Andy Do Apr 07, 2011 10:09 pm

Inside Fukushima Evacuation Zone

Von: krikkosnack | Erstellt: 07.04.2011

The 20 kilometers of land that circles the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has become a mysterious place ever since the government drew a border ringing the plant soon after the March 11 disaster, marking it as a must-leave, no-go exclusion zone nearly a month ago. Japanese police, Self-Defense Force troops and U.S. military started searching for bodies with the 10 km radius for the first time Thursday.

A brief segment aired on state-owned broadcaster NHK last week showed members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces knocking on doors of the few residents who decided to stay behind in emptied towns. An anonymous user recently generated buzz on an online message board when he said he hadn't left his house which sits about 10 kilometers from the plant. It was posted on April Fool's Day.

But now a visible document of what lies within the 20 kilometer zone, shot by a pair of Japanese online TV journalists, has been uploaded on YouTube (see above).

Tetsuo Jimbo, founder of Video News Network, a TV broadcasting website, and a colleague ventured into the area on Sunday. Before setting out, Mr. Jimbo consulted a radiation expert, who advised he spend a maximum of two hours in the zone. The 49-year-old journalist stayed for two and a half. A face mask -- the kind worn to fend off hay fever -- was his only protective gear. He admits he and his colleague got "kind of scared" when a host of large dump trucks drove by and the drivers were covered in what looked like "full radiation-proof suits" and gas masks.

Geiger counters mounted on the car's front panel beep loudly and incessantly during much of the 12-minute video. Mostly it's shot from inside the car -- but not all of it. Scenes vary from the tranquil, with cows absent-mindely grazing, to the disturbing, with roads ripped up by the force of the earthquake, and the downright eerie, with villages mostly untouched by the devastation but devoid of signs of recent human life as darkness begins to fall.

"It was strange," said Mr. Jimbo, expressing surprise at just how deserted the area was. A handful of stray dogs, mostly apparently in good health and curious about the visitors, were the only signs of life apart from slightly startled-looking cows. Mr. Jimbo encountered just three or four passenger cars. The power was out, leaving traffic lights and store signs dark.
Despite the government order to evacuate the zone, he said entering the area was relatively easy. The journalists' car approached the area from the south. There was one police checkpoint at the 30 km mark, but no other security further in. Mr. Jimbo said the journalists only knew they were approaching the 20 km line because of the car's navigation system.

The pair pressed on toward the plant. One of the few times Mr. Jimbo got out of the car was when he walked to the shore, where a police car was submerged and the guard fence was in a tangle. The Geiger counters ticked upward, hitting a level of 112 microSieverts per hour when he was within 1.5 km, or just under a mile, of the plant, the closest point. Mr. Jimbo said he stayed there for only about 15 minutes, not a full hour. Exposure to 50 milliSieverts -- equal to 50,000 microSieverts — is the annual limit for a nuclear-plant worker, Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday.

"The Geiger counters were going crazy and that made me a little nervous," he said. "I would rather stay away from radiation for a while so my cells can recover."

Mr. Jimbo, who has also been reporting from other towns with elevated radiation levels, said he has been taking potassium-iodide pills for the past five days as a precautionary measure.

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Anmeldedatum : 03.04.11

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