Nakoso beach on July 16, the day it re-opened. (Screen grab from the video below. )
Before the Fukushima catastrophe, the area’s 17 beaches were very popular with tourists, in particular surfers. Now, a year after the nuclear disaster, the authorities have decided to re-open one of these beaches to the public. Our Observer, who serves as a volunteer cleaning up Fukushima’s beaches, says the next challenge is to convince vacationers to come back.
The newly re-opened beach
is located in the town of Ikawi, 65 kilometres south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was badly damaged by an earthquake in March 2011. The authorities have declared that the water in this area is now safe, as it contains less than one Becquerel of radioactive matter per litre. This convinced over a thousand people to get in the water on the beach’s re-opening day, July 16. And for those who still need a bit more reassuring, the beach’s radioactivity levels are measured twice daily.
Nakoso beach seen from above.
A study carried out by France’s Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute in March 2012 also concludes that radiation levels have drastically fallen over the past year, yet warns that it still poses some risks. The study explains that nuclear radiation, even at low doses, can become dangerous if it builds up over time; for example, the radiation could contaminate certain foods including fruits, milk, mushrooms, wild game, and fish.
The Fukushima disaster, which was set off by an earthquake that registered 9 on the Richter scale, was the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. The damaged nuclear plant let out large amounts of radioactive particles into the region’s air, water and soil, forcing tens of thousands of people living within a 20-kilometre radius to evacuate.