Sunday, 15 January 2012

Indies Scientist

Hi folks,
The government has said it will clean up the 20 km zone (the rest of us have to do it ourselves together with local authorities) and today showed off their 'model case' in Minami Soma. Hoses and shovels, masks and rubber gloves and tons of toxic waste in bin bags buried in two huge pits. It's like BSE.

Meanwhile the mayor of Kawauchi in the 20-30 km zone has said he's going back and will reopen the town hall and get back to work. The government lifted the ban in September but only 5% of the inhabitants have gone back. Hardly surprising when nothing's been done. But good for him for taking the lead. He says he wants to get on with the clean up so people can go back in March, do more cleaning up and hopefully plant crops next year.

On Thursday I was driving along and heard Shinzo Kimura on NHK Radio. He's a scientist, a specialist in radiation hygiene, who studied the effects of radiation on health workers and has done studies in Ukraine. He famously quit his job at a Ministry of Health research unit when he was banned from going to Fukushima last March. Since then he's been a maverick, nicknamed the 'Indies Scientist'. He came to Fukushima, monitored and measured and drew up the first contamination map. But not such a maverick. He was featured on NHK TV last May and again in August. On the radio the other day he was passionate about scientists using their knowledge to contribute to society and help people. He said he was based in Koriyama at the moment.

I found this programme broadcast in August last year. It's a bit old but for those of you who can understand Japanese it gives a good view of how people here are reacting: the young girls who ask 'is it true our hair will fall out in 5 years time?' (The answer is no.) The extended family with the newborn who are hoping for the best but quietly anxious and not knowing what to do. Kimura decides to clean up the vicinity of the house and the results are encouraging - levels in the house cut by half. But it takes 8 men two days to do the work and produces 4 tons of waste which is stacked up some distance from the house. An ordinary film but a good flavour of what's going on here.

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