Radioactive Fukushima

Radioactive Fukushima
Decontamination workers remove radiated soil and leaves from a forest in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture.

In March 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami tore through Tomioka and other coastal towns in northern Japan, leaving behind destruction and deep wounds.

Today, four years after the disaster, residents are torn over government's plan to build a radioactive waste storage site in the shadow of the wrecked nuclear plant, reported Reuters.

Norio Kimura, 49, who lost his father, wife and daughter in the tsunami, walks to where his house used to stand before it was washed away by massive waves.

Kimura knows the brokers are circling, ready to offer a deal for his land to build the waste storage facility.

He has vowed not take it.

"I can't believe they're going to dump their trash here after all we've been put through," he told Reuters.

Japan has allocated more than US$15 billion (S$20.7 billion) to an unprecedented project to lower radiation in towns around Fukushima. Every day teams of workers blast roads with water, scrub down houses, cut branches and scrape contaminated soil off farmland.

That irradiated trash now sits in blue and black plastic sacks across Fukushima, piled up in abandoned rice paddies, parking lots and even residents' backyards.

Tokyo plans to build a more permanent storage facility over the coming years in now-abandoned towns close to the Fukushima nuclear plant - but like Kimura, many locals are angry that the government is set to park 30 million tons of radioactive debris on their former doorstep.

According to Reuters, some 2,300 residents who own plots of land in Futaba and Okuma which the government needs for the waste plant face what many describe as an impossible choice. The storage site will be built if the government can lease or buy enough land - whatever concerns the last hold-outs may have.

Months after the he earthquake and tsunami disaster, Kimura found the bodies of his wife and father, but it haunts him that Yuna's body was never recovered.

Four years later, Kimura still returns to his hometown and combs the deserted beach for his daughter's body - in 5-hour stints, the maximum allowed under radiation health guidelines.

A school jersey is one of the few items that Kimura has left of his daughter Yuna.

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