disaster area, evacuation, fukushima, health, journal, nuclear radiation

health hazards impact on relief and recovery

fears of radiation and/or potential nuclear accidents are preventing help from reaching people near the fukushima power plant.

last week, the evacuation zone around the dai-ichi (number 1) plant was established at 20 km radius, and the people living between 20-30 kilometers away were told to stay indoors.

(the u.s. government suggested staying 50 km away from the plant).

i’ve seen several segments on NHK about people in the evacuation zone. some have not left, and can’t or don’t want to leave their houses. for the people living in the 20-30 km zone, there are no stores, etc., and it’s impossible to continue your life without ever going outside. NHK interviewed a doctor who reopened his clinic within the 20-30 km zone, and is treating patients. he said ‘it is the last work of my life.’ now, the government has issued a voluntary evacuation for this zone, because of the difficulty of people to live there.

i’m reminded of new orleans after hurricane katrina, when there was toxic water and other health hazards afoot. the water system had been compromised, although perhaps it hadn’t been that safe to begin with (even before the storm, people who could afford to not drink it didn’t), soil was also contaminated. for people working in relief and especially house gutting, there were dangers of inhaling fine particles, chemicals, and poisonous substances that were in the air while homes were being cleaned up. safe practices and wearing a good mask should protect you, but many people got what was known as the ‘katrina cough.’

after the kobe earthquake, there was a considerable amount of asbestos in the air from damaged buildings. and fires kept rescue workers out of the most damaged areas immediately after the quake.


About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.


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