The 21,000 residents of Namie-machi, Japan, haven't been able to return to their hometown since March 2011. The radiation there from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is still too high. But now they, and the rest of the world, can take a virtual tour through the town's streets.
Google Maps, working with Namie-machi mayor Tamotsu Baba, drove Google Street View cars through the abandoned town this month. In a blog post, Baba explained why: "Many of the displaced townspeople have asked to see the current state of their city, and there are surely many people around the world who want a better sense of how the nuclear incident affected surrounding communities."
The post is well worth a read. You can start exploring the photos here. Google also hosts a website where Fukushima Prefecture residents can share their old photos and videos and outsiders may see before and after Street View imagery of affected places.
The Japanese government is being overly cautious. The citizens of Namie-machi could safely return to their homes. Radiation levels have gone down substantially 2 years after the disaster and there is no reason to believe there is an increased of risk of cancer.
Perhaps a better view of the possible health hazards from radiation in Namie-machi can be found on the radiation dose map here:
Although it looks scary because radiation levels are well above natural background radiation in many areas near the reactor, if you examine the numbers you see that there are very few places where radiation might increase the risk of cancer. Namie-machi isn't one of them.
For example, it shows that as of December 28, 2012, radiation levels around Namie-machi range from 0.5 to 9.5 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h). Assuming the highest rate, 9.5 μSv/h, living there for an entire year without leaving would expose you to about 83,000 μSv. That's less than the lowest documented yearly exposure associated with a (moderately) higher risk of cancer, 100,000 μSv. There is no indication that doses lower than 100,000 μSv a year increase the risk of cancer.
In other words, if you lived in Namie-machi today, your lifestyle choices (smoking, poor diet) would have a more significant impact on your cancer risk than the lingering radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi reactor accident.
See here for a graphic comparison of radiation doses and effects:
in order to thank everyone, characteristic, novel style, varieties, low price and good quality, and the low sale price. Thank everyone
Ahhhhhh! Clean energy!
I mean think of the world-shatteringly horrific cataclysm that would have occurred if they'd had a combination solar concentrator/PV/WInd system meltdown!! Oh Lord Jesus it's a fire!
Then I ran out... I didn't grab no shoes or nothing Jesus, I ran for my life!!
Thx laurenra7, interesting.
This article inspired me to travel about with the google map on the city streets of Fukushima Town. The venture was rather sad.