Risking it to show nuke dangers


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 13 Jul 2016

No-go area: Police have set up barriers such as this to restrict access across much of the Fukushima exclusion zone that is believed to still have significant levels of radiation five years after the nuclear disaster.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian freelance photographer Keow Wee Loong says he sneaked into the Fukushima district in Japan last month to highlight the dangers of depending on nuclear power.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck the Tohoku region, triggering a massive tsunami which resulted in a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Reconstruction is taking place but the Fukushima exclusion zone is sealed off.

Police patrols block visitors from going in and because of fears of picking up radiation, special permission is required to enter for just five hours.

Keow said in an interview that the process of applying for and obtaining such permission would take nearly a month and as such he sneaked in through the woods around the Tamioka township at 2am on June 4.

“All the roads are guarded by cops and there are police patrols along the road in, so I kept to the woods.

“However, the towns themselves were deserted.”

Keow, who lost his credit card and most of his cash when he dropped his wallet earlier, said he could not afford a safety suit.

He had to settle for a gas mask and hoodie for protection.

Travelling with a friend, they tracked over 26km across Fuku­shima, spending only 13 hours in the red zone to minimise their exposure to radiation.

Food for thought: Keow looking at the shelves of an abandoned supermarket with grocery items strewn all over the aisles in the Fukushima district. Food for thought: Keow looking at the shelves of an abandoned supermarket with grocery items strewn all over the aisles in the Fukushima district.

Although the earthquake and tsunami caused untold damage, Keow said there were still electri­city and cellular connectivity when they went in.

As such, he said they were able to use GPS to guide themselves through the woods and small towns.

Keow has shared the photographs he took there on his Facebook page.

Responding to online criticism that the trip was a publicity stunt and that he was trespassing, Keow said he did it to highlight the dangers of depending on nuclear power.

“I didn’t loot the houses or hurt people. What I ‘stole’ were photographs ... so I can live with that,” he said.


Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 7
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Related stories:

A trek through ghost towns

Environment , fukushima

   

Across The Star Online