Miles O’Brien Interview: Gov’t should apologize and evacuate citizens right away — Mayor: Decontamination is impossible, but should be done anyway (VIDEO)

Published: March 12th, 2012 at 9:57 pm ET


Title: After 500 Years in Family, Rice Farmers Forced Off Land by Fukushima
Source: PBS NewsHour
Date: March 12, 2012

MILES O’BRIEN: […] And back at the home [in Minamisoma], while the soil may now be safe for kids to play, the driveway is still dangerously contaminated with cesium. The only solution, grind off the top layer of concrete. Kunihiro Yushida believes this neighborhood should be officially evacuated so that residents can be compensated. 

“The government is just delaying the inevitable, in my eyes,” he said. “Instead, the government should honestly acknowledge that decontamination is unrealistic, apologize and evacuate citizens as soon as possible.”


The mayor of Minamisoma, Katsunobu Sakurai, is conflicted on this issue.

Is it possible that this cleanup can’t be done?

“It’s impossible,” he said. “Only a few parts of the area may be decontaminated. It is better than doing nothing, so it should be done anyway.”

In the city of Onami, about 40 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, they are embracing that philosophy, putting a lot of time, effort and money to clean up some once-fertile rice farms now heavily contaminated with cesium fallout.


Worker Yuichi Ito told me what happens after the cleanup.

YUICHI ITO, cleanup worker: A few days later, the radiation — it’s cesium. Cesium — cesium is very familiar to the soil, so the dust in the soil will fly from the mountain and come here.

MILES O’BRIEN: It comes right back down.

YUICHI ITO: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Read the report here

Watch In Japan, Nuclear Clean-up May Be Mission: Impossible on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Published: March 12th, 2012 at 9:57 pm ET


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25 comments to Miles O’Brien Interview: Gov’t should apologize and evacuate citizens right away — Mayor: Decontamination is impossible, but should be done anyway (VIDEO)

  • charlie3

    This is madness.
    Even if decontamination is really possible, what is the point of decontaminaton now when radiation deposits from fukushima and from burning fukushima-contaminated waste are ongoing and continuous?
    I suspect it is because the decontamination contracts are lucrative and will not be questioned by the public.

  • Brutus_Lincoln_Paine Brutus_Lincoln_Paine

    "grind off the top layer of concrete"?

    • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

      So where does the radioactive concrete dust go?

      Duhhhhhh…. into the air, to contaminate all of the surrounding area.

      Same idiots that came up with this idea, probably also came up with the idea of burning radioactive waste material..

      Duhhhhh… where does the radiation go after it is burned?

      Into the air to contaminate all of the surrounding areas..


  • dharmasyd dharmasyd

    A cross between Noh Drama and Kabuki Theatre. All this contamination, decontamination, recontamination, decontamination, and so on…all takes a very long time and repeats itself over and over; but it does keep people busy, And you know what they say about an idle mind. LOL!

  • Yeah just what I was thinking, grind off the top layer of concrete/ashphalt and watch the resulting contaminated dust land on the garden you just stripped the contaminated soil off of. A pointless exercise

  • This is the ALARA principal in action. Japan is a tiny island compared to Russia. Cheaper in Russia just to relocate. In Japan cheaper to lie to the people and pretend there is a modern science of de-contamination. De-contamination= power washing, grinding and pick and shovelling contaminated material. Basically just moving the contamination around. No modern science here.

    • Exactly… just moving it around. The radioactive waste doesn't go away… they just try to gather and consolidate the radioactive matter from large areas into concentrated piles, only to burn it and redistribute it over the wide area again. All through the process the cleaners and the bystanders worldwide are exposed and re-exposed to the dangers. Insane.

      • many moons

        But the workers LOOK like they are doing something that has a positive effect.
        Since radioactivity is invisible it's easy to forget it's in our presence. We would rather believe it wasn't around.
        Seeing is a big player in this absurdity…soon we will see more of the effects of radiation and so feel it's presence.
        It's unfortunate that these visual clues come so much later, when the radiation has already caused the worse to happen.
        If radiation were a color (like the blue in the water) people would be more demanding about closing the plants down.

  • maaa

    We need Tom Cruise. Mission Impossible 6

  • dosdos dosdos

    Decontamination is a pipe dream to keep the government in power, nothing more.

    • Arrgghh…

      My dad and 2 aunts were over. Educated, NPR listening, card-carrying Sierra Club types.

      They heard on "the news" that anything less than 100 millisieverts is fine.


      Does anyone have the source for this bunch of crap?

      It seems to me that this 100 millisieverts "science" has only been released during the last year and originates from some research at UC Berkeley.

      I would like to track it down..

    • truthseek truthseek

      – – ding – – dosdos

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Not just Fukushima problem, as we're finding out. Stay tuned.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    I do believe total decontamination is impossible..Should it still be done?

    I think they should decontamination and clean up as best they can. Who knows, maybe that's just one more speck that won't be inhaled.

    This disaster should not be left and forgotten. Without people working on this, it will be out of sight, out of mind. If the work stops on this, maybe people will think it must be ok, when it's not.

    They are still working on Chernobyl, they should also keep working on this disaster in every way they can.

    What would they be apologizing for? For lying, for not putting the children, pregnant ladies, the public first? There is a long list here to apologize for.

    Evacuating citizens right away, does that include Tokyo, and North America? The citizens that are closest to the disaster are already contaminated. I'm not a doctor, maybe evacuating would still help the them?


  • maaa

    The best help would be to help them end the Nuclear Industry which "killed" them.

  • James2

    The government isn't relocating any more folks – because there is no money for relocation.

    Japan is broke.

    They will put people to work cleaning radiation, because people need jobs. It's just busy work.

    Cleaning up now is like going to the car wash in the middle of a snowstorm. Your car is going to look bad again in five minutes.

    But here's the kicker – they have place to put the radiation. – so it's not really goin anywhere at all. The guy in the video took the bags of contaminated dirt and threw them behind and apartment building – Those bags will break in 5 years and the contamination will roll back through town

    The only logical thing to do is leave Japan. It's natural for people to want their lives back – but they will never get them back. Not in the north, not in Tokyo, not in the south.

    The economy of Japan in permanently destroyed. The wealthy and the smart people are gone. They will never come back.

    The great Japanese companies – gone – all of them.

    The world is not the same after 3-11, and never will be.

  • Buffalojam

    James2 – Just some depressing, frustrating thoughts while contemplating whether the only logical thing for the Japanese to do is leave Japan. There are still 10s of millions of people still living in what probably are very contaminated zones there. It is almost certain to get much worse. Has any country in the world officially opened it's arms to receive those who wish to evacuate? How many millions would they take? Has any country, corporation, or charitable group offered to bare the expense of moving these people? Is there anywhere on the planet that would offer enough safety from radiation contamination to make such a relocation worth while? Do you offer evacuation to everyone or do you place limitations on those with age, health, financial, and other issues from moving? Who decides? If you are a potential evacuee, how much trust do you place in those directing you where to go and how to get there? Who stays and administers nuclear plant shutdown and waste handling amongst a myriad of other necessities for those staying. Do you force people to stay who don't want to? Is anyone thinking of these things before suggesting a great evacuation is needed? We need help!

    • James2

      These are good questions and I'll try to answer them – be forwarned that all these answers are simply my opinion, and you're not going to like them:

      1. Has any country "opened their arms" – no, and they aren't going to. In fact it will eventually be impossible to travel – your body will contain enough radiation that it will transfer the radiation elsewhere when you go, plus the health care costs of those from Japan will be high.

      2. Noone will pay to move them – like all refugee situations you are on your own.

      3. Anywhere on the planet that's worthwhile to relocate to: There is no location that is safe from radiation. However the radiation is not disbursed evenly. The southern hemisphere has not been subjected to as much recent radiation. If I were relocating, I'd go to South America – which is exactly where many of the wealthy Japanese have gone.

      4. Who should go: That's a personal question. Due to the active coverup of the facts, virtually everything we know is speculation. The speculated seriousness is high – so I would leave my home, if possible, if I lived in the more highly contaminated areas (northern half of Honshu). But even leaving is not a guaranteed solution. If you do not leave, and you live in a hotspot, you most likely – but not definitely – will reduce your lifespan. If you do leave – you may or may not be increasing your lifespan, but you certainly will be adding to the discomfort or your remaining days.

      The other factor to consider is the Japanese economy – which is declining rapidly and may continue to spiral down to nothing, as the radiation problem spreads. The trajectory would indicate that social systems are going to break down at some point. This is the biggest reason to leave. Right when you need it most, health care may be limited, jobs may be hard to find, inflation may be rampant – it may be a large struggle to survive in post Fukushima Japan.

    • James2

      5. Who will stay? Almost everyone will stay if no one pays for an evacuation. There will be plenty of folks to do the cleanup work – in fact those may be the only jobs available. However they are very dirty jobs, that most certainly will affect your health.

      6. Who decides? As I said above you are on your own. The children are at the mercy of their parents decisions. No one will tell you what to do, and those who are telling you may not have your best interests in mind – rather theirs. In a disaster, humans have a survival instinct that allows them to survive even at the expense of others.

      7. Is anyone thinking about it? Most likely they are, however they cannot do anything. The government is out of money and as soon as they tell people to evacuate they have less money. The government is dependent on a stable population to operate. A transient population is a liability rather than an asset to a nation.

      Japan is a wonderful country, and has given so many wonderful things to the world – this is a tragedy on a massive scale. However Japan changed forever on 3-11. I wish everyone there good luck in dealing with this to the best of their ability.

      • Buffalojam

        Many thanks for your thoughts J2. Evacuation is the topic I think about the most when it comes to Fukushima. It also saddens me the most.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Maaa: Just checked my iPad glass. No radioactivity.
    Denial is a very potent response to disaster. People don't just run away. They stay, and try to put their lives back together. Terribly tragic story.