Stab Magazine | Locals Are Still Surfing In Fukushima (Despite Radiation)

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Locals Are Still Surfing In Fukushima (Despite Radiation)

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

news // Oct 4, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’d be difficult to forget the devastating Fukushima disaster of 2011. March 11 saw Japan hit with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which then generated a tsunami off the coast, killing 18,500 people. The wave also hit the Daaichi nuclear power plant, causing a level-7 catastrophe equivalent to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. All in all, a brutal time for the country.

The resulting radiation contamination was… wild. Over the last five years, around 50,000 people have worked continually to decontaminate the plant and stop the leaks (they remove between five and 30cm of contaminated soil every day, placing it in plastic bags, which are then stored on the outskirts of town until they can figure out a better solution. Yeah, radiation sure is a tricky sonofabitch).

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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You don’t need to know Japanese to know that that sign says Restricted Area. Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera

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

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

I can feel that. But, radiation is savage: An employee of the nuclear plant said that he’d never swim at Tairatoyoma because the water is too contaminated – five of his friends who work at the plant now suffer from brain damage. 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.

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