This week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe delivered a statement to reassure his people: “Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you the situation is under control.”
Unfortunately, that’s patently untrue. It’s been two and a half years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but the destruction continues. Here are four recent troubling stories that show the ongoing damage from the nuclear fallout:
1. Radioactive Water is Still Leaking into the Pacific Ocean
Despite efforts to keep hazardous materials from escaping the area, a couple of significant “accidents” have occurred as of late. In August, 400 tons of radioactive water leaked from one of the containment tanks. Although officials said the mistake was addressed, this past week, a “worker error” led to 430 more liters leaking out from the tank. Alarmingly, this escaped water is 6,700 times more radioactive than the legal limit.
TEPCO, the organization tasked with keeping things safe around Fukushima, has received a lot of criticism for its apparent mismanagement. “We cannot deny the possibility of [the leak] having reached the ocean,” conceded a TEPCO spokesperson.
2. It’s Mayhem for Pigs
With humans unwilling to come within 20 miles of the ruined nuclear plant, wild boars have pounced on the area and made it their new home. Unobstructed, the pigs have been breeding rapidly and the government estimates a 30% population increase in the past couple of years.
Fukushima may seem like a fun play place for the pigs, but their new home is highly dangerous. The extreme levels of radioactivity are likely to render these boars unhealthy over the long term. Moreover, as their population grows, the boars continue to expand outside of the contaminated area in a search for food, resulting in these sickly pigs being shot by farmers.
3. A Fast Food Company Will Grow Its Food Very Close to the Plant
While eating these pigs would be out of the question, apparently eating vegetables planted not much further is perfectly acceptable. Yoshinoya Holdings, a fast food chain in Japan, has decided to grow food for its restaurants just 60 miles from the site of Fukushima.
Though the area was once known for farming, many Japanese people have purposely avoided the rice and produce grown in proximity to the nuclear disaster. However, the corporation promises all food will be tested for safety before being sold and hopes that by restarting business in the area, the city might be on the path to returning to normal.
4. Contaminated Seafood
How unsafe are the fish caught in the Pacific after being exposed to radioactivity? Well, that depends who you ask. Some argue that the fish caught so far contain not much more radioactivity than “natural occurring levels” so it might not be worth much concern. Others predict that based on current figures, 800 people will develop cancer due to radiation present in fish. However, the general consensus seems to be that much more research needs to be done on the subject before declaring it safe or unsafe.
Still, the non-answer is frightening for seafood eaters, particularly pescatarians who rely on fish for protein. For many, having a potentially damaged food supply is as good as having a definitively damaged food supply in that they feel obligated to avoid it.