As the situation unfolds - wild mountain fern scrolls

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Farmer holding fern scrolls

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jpg

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Creative Commons Licence

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Created date

February 24, 2020

Critical Commentary

In March 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami off the East Coast of Japan contributed to what would become the most significant nuclear incident since Chernobyl.  The radioactive isotopes released in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident led the government to evacuate over 165,000 people, some of whom are still not able to return. Some villages have reopened and their residents are slowly returning, navigating a new somewhat precarious way of living. A farmer from a formerly evacuated village shows me fern scrolls we collected from the mountains near his reopened farm. They are precarious because it is not possible to determine how contaminated they are without monitoring them.  The local authorities discourage residents from foraging in the mountains and forests  because they remain to the greater extent, un-decontaminated.  Despite this, the farmer and I, plus around 30 scientists and their families, go hunting for local delicacies in the mountains on their weekend off.  Later-on that day, the vegetables are taken to be monitored in a local food monitoring station to confirm if they are above the allowed limit - 100 Becquerels per kilogram.  Vegetables within the limit are made into tasty tempura.  The rest go to ‘science’.

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Author's own photo.