Locals Are Still Surfing in Fukushima, Despite The Presence of Radiation in The Water and Sand

It’d be difficult to forget the devastating Fukushima disaster of 2011. When March 11 Japan was hit with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which then generated a tsunami off the coast. The casualties of the disaster included 18,500 dead, 90 percent of whom drowned in the tsunami wave. The bodies of 2,561 people were never recovered.

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Tairatoyama beach was among popular areas with Japanese surfers before the accident. Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera

The tsunami hit the Daaichi nuclear power plant as well, a level-7 catastrophe that was the equivalent of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown disaster.

Over the course of five years, nearly 50,000 people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks according to government press releases. They remove between 5 and 30 cm of contaminated soil every day and place them in plastic bags, which are stored on the outskirts of town, pending a better solution, quoted from Aljazeera.

The surfer cannot ignore the risks. There are hundreds of bags of contaminated sand piled up on the beach. “The goverment keeps telling us that things are back to normal in region. But we can see that few people have come back. There are elderly people. Chlidren are kept away,” said one surfer.

Despite of all this, surfers still paddle out daily at Tairatoyama beach, a prefecture of Fukushima 50 clicks from the nuclear plant, even though radiation is still present in the water and sand, and hundreds of bags of contaminated sand are piled on the beach.

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The sign next him in Japanese indicates that the are is restricted area. Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera

Surprisingly, despite the presence of radiation in the sand and water, some dedicated surfers continue to come here to catch some waves. They are aware of the risks, and the hundreds of bags of contaminated sand piled up on the beach serve as a constant reminder of the health risks to them.

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation,” said one surfer.

“I come to Tairatoyoma beach and surf several times a week. It’s my passion. I can’t stop surfing.” says another local.

Though, that’s done nothing to change the mentality of the local surf populous: “We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now,” believes one local.

Watch more photos of locals surfing in Tairatoyama beach, here

Source: aljazeera.com / Author: Eric Lafforgue

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