Monday, October 15, 2012

Decontamination (part 1 of 5)

I am filming all this week in Fukushima Prefecture, and today I began in the city of Date, which lies about 50 kilometers to the west of the damaged nuclear power plant.  After the meltdown, the wind blew the radiation westward, and so the contamination spread far beyond the 20 kilometer evacuation zone initially established by the government.

At the Sugano family home in the city of Date, the decontamination has only just began, although it has already been a year and a half since the meltdown.

Decontamination begins at the Sugano Family home.

After the meltdown, the family sensed they were in danger so they packed all their bags and prepared to leave at a moment's notice.  But the government never evacuated the city of Date.  

Eventually, two months after the meltdown, the entire village of Iitate, which lies next to Date, was evacuated when the government finally admitted that the radiation had spread further than initially announced.

(My documentary about the evacuation of the entire village of Iitate, which lies next to the city of Date, is here:)

In the city of Date, the Sugano family and their three children, aged 9, 5 and 4, remained in their home for three months waiting to be evacuated.  When their property was finally tested, one of the hotspots was found to be 70 microsieverts (!), seen on the map below at line 14 marked HS 3:

Hotspot #3 on line 14 is 70 microsieverts

The city of Date tested the homes of all its residents.  When hotspots were found, it was decided not to evacuate the entire city of Date, but rather to make a decision on a house by house basis.  In other words, a family would only receive assistance to evacuate if their house was deemed a hotspot.  Neighborhoods were torn apart, with some families being evacuated and some homes deemed "safe".  Anyone unlucky enough to have a home deemed "safe" was now faced with having to live literally next door to an evacuated home deemed a hotspot.

Even before being evacuated, the Sugano children were not allowed to play outside.

The Sugano children were eventually evacuated in June of last year,  after living for more than three months in their contaminated home.  But in order to receive support from the city of Date, they were required to remain living within the city of Date.  Therefore, the children have been evacuated to a place just 10 kilometers from where their contaminated home lies.  And everyday the city of Date transports the children from where they have been evacuated to, back to the school they had been attending.  Although the school itself has been decontaminated, it is in an area that contains radiation hotspots, and so the children still must wear face masks and radiation monitors everyday on their way to school.

The Sugano family's 9 year old son wears a face mask and radiation monitor to school.

No comments: