#mothernature

Storing the Fukushima nuclear waste

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Scattered throughout Fukushima prefecture are some 5.5mn black bags containing soil contaminated by the crippled reactors. This picture is on the outskirts of the exclusion zone. To put it in perspective this is what it looks like from the air. They now have huge black tarpaulins draping over them to keep it dry.

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Most of the ‘unusable land’ has been converted into waste dumps like this or solar parks. Cars with flashing blue lights waft slowly around the neighborhoods to prevent theft and looting from deserted homes.

Even driving into Sendai some 100km+ north the highways have radiation level information alongside speed limit signs. A reminder of that terrible event 6 years ago which was highly preventable had the money been spent on relatively low cost sensible placement of the back up generators (in the $10s of millions) on high ground. It was forgone because the plant was scheduled for closure 6 months after the quake. The idea was that the risks of a tsunami or quake were so negligible that penny-pinching was the right thing to do. Of course PM Kan refused to give the order to release the presssure inside the reactors against the advice of nuclear experts. The clean up is in the 100s of billions. Go figure.

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Fukushima City feels dead. It is a long way from the reactor but unsurprisingly infamous for one thing now. As I mentioned a few weeks ago I’m guessing the government will turn up investment projects to revitalize it.

For a good video on the reactor check ABC’s Mark Willacy on Foreign Correspondent

The power of the 2011 tsunami – a short preview in pictures

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As we go about our daily lives we tend to forget how lucky we are. How easy it is to lose our cool over trivial things. 6 years ago a devastating earthquake caused massive horror but it was the tsunami that followed that did the real damage. A wall of water 20  metres high washed boats kilometres inland and wiped out street upon street of homes leaving nothing but the concrete bases. The tsunami claimed over 16,000 lives, often the forgotten part of the story when the media hyperventilated over the Fukushima melt down. Perhaps the most eerie of all the photos I took was near a school in Minamisanriku. Minnie Mouse was just lying there against the foundations of someone’s home, half a kilometre from the shore.  Missing an eye and covered in a depressing grey silt with her arms splayed out as if to question how Mother Nature could unleash such fury? One is left to ponder did the girl who hugged Minnie at night survive the ordeal? It still haunts me every time I see the picture.

While still in Minamisanriku, I noted how high the waves reached by the salt that had ruined the leaves of the trees. My bike can be seen to give an idea of the scale.

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Everything was washed away. The foundations of so many houses remained but barely any house could withstand the force of a wall of water coming it at huge velocity and at such height.

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Once car had been washed on the third floor of an apartment complex. It looked like a prank for the condition it was in.

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Waste was strewn everywhere. It took over three years just to clean it away. Here is a picture of a fishing trawler washed onto the second story of a hospital.

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In Kesennuma a large boat was washed around 1km inland. The sheer idea that such a massive vessel could be ragdolled like this was mind-boggling.

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In Rikuzentakata one tree managed to survive the ordeal. It also had an eerie sadness to it. A stark reminder of the power of that wave.

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There are thousands more photos to add but this is to give a quick snapshot of what was and in coming days I will upload the before and after of each town and marvel at the recovery.

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