The communities around Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant are still waiting for their lives to return to some kind of normality – 1,000 days after the world’s worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
By the end of October, only 28.5 percent of houses, 33.2 percent of roads and 12.3 percent of forests had been cleaned, according to the Fukushima Department of Environment.
The Japanese government has extended the time-frame the clean-up of the exclusion zone around the plant, initially due to be completed by next March, until 2017.
Officials have cited several difficulties as reasons for pushing back the timetable, including finding space to store contaminated waste.
Endo Kouzou, Supervisor for Decontamination Operations at the Fukushima Department of Environment said: “It is very hard to earn support from locals in terms of where to put the contaminated materials. This is the biggest problem. Another thing is that, despite various decontamination operations, radiation cannot be eliminated once for all.”
Tens of thousands of people have been unable to return to their homes. Many residents, in temporary accommodation for more than three years, are frustrated at the slow place of the clean-up.
One displaced woman said: “I feel down because we can’t get back the life we had. We are a very happy family, being forced to live separately. Nothing can be done to return things to how they were.”
“I have children. I hope they can remove the pollution faster, so I can get my life back,” complained another man.
The full process of recovery at Fukushima, including decommissioning the ruined reactors, is expected to take decades.