Six Years On, Fukushima's Cleanup Looks Harder Than Ever


The result is that some residents who fled the area in March 2011 are now facing a nearly impossible choice - return to their homes near Fukushima or remain in their new homes, but with their housing subsidies withdrawn and compensation payments withdrawn a year later.

Japan on Saturday marked the sixth anniversary of the deadly quake and tsunami that claimed over 18,000 lives, besides provoking a serious nuclear accident. Many residents of Fukushima prefecture cleared out of their towns, especially in the Futuba district near the plant.

Still, most former residents have expressed that they will not return to their homes due to fear of radiation. Currently, three out of 45 commercial nuclear reactors in Japan are active and more than 10 reactors have met the supposedly more stringent post-Fukushima government safety requirements.

The national government is preparing to lift the evacuation order on the village of Iitate, which was in the direct path of the radiation plume six years ago - a move Ulrich thinks unwise as the town still has "hot-spots" where radiation exceeds established norms.

A wild boar caught in a trap.

Officials also must figure out what to do with the radioactive boar bodies.

"After people left, their ecosystem changed", said local hunter Shoichi Sakamoto.

It is causing concern for any chances of re-population of the town, around 4km from the destroyed nuclear plant, which has been partially cleared to inhabit by the end of the month.

"If we don't get rid of them and turn this into a human-led town, the situation will get even wilder and uninhabitable", Baba told Reuters.

She is one of the so-called "volunteer evacuees" from the nuclear disaster, so called because they were not ordered out of their homes by the national government and forced to find other accommodations considerably farther away from the plant.

Wild boar meat is a delicacy in northern Japan, but animals slaughtered since the disaster are too contaminated to eat. They will become internally displaced people. These meat of these feral pigs are considered a delicacy in Northern Japan, but because of the risky levels of contamination, they are unsafe to eat as cesium-137 can cause radiation sickness and increase cancer risk.