Japan Nuclear: Exclusion zone dogs
12 Months later…
On the first anniversary of the March 11 Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone dogs are dying on the streets of Fukushima’s ghost towns from starvation and hypothermia. Fighting to stay alive in freezing sub-zero temperatures 20-30 pets are now dying on a daily basis. They huddle in ravaged remains of abandoned homes, burying themselves in anything they can find, battling to keep the cold at bay.
Gaunt and starving some are now too weak to move, and can only wait helplessly in desperate hope that rescuers will find them in time.
The fallout from the stricken reactors has turned the 20-kilometre (12-mile) exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant into a dangerously radio-active no-man’s wasteland, the new “Land Of Wolves”.
The eerie silence is absolute when you stand in the centre of the exclusion zone, chillingly reminiscent of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, of ghost towns such as Pripyat…Come -Walk with Me in the Land of Wolves… There should be people but there are no-one, there should be life and activity but instead there is only a strange silence and the occasional sighting of gaunt livestock roaming the empty streets. Thriving towns that only one year ago were home to 80,000 people are now ghost towns, frozen in time.
One year on, animal carcasses lie spoiling in the exclusion zone. Cows and pigs have starved to death, and there is no-one left to attend to their bones still lying in the pens. Cats and dogs have died from disease their bones bleaching on the empty streets where cows and ostriches roam, and frogs and snakes supply the occasional meal to the lucky few cats who venture between the eerily flashing traffic lights, on the deserted streets of Japan’s nuclear ghost towns.
Bicycles lie where they have fallen seeming simply forgotten by careless owners. Nearby bus stops stand silent and empty waiting for the next busload of people that will never come. In a deserted shopping centre, rows of cars waiting soundlessly for the return of heavily laden food shoppers…but there is no-one there. Everyone is gone. There is only the mournful whispering of the wind eddying through a small local store its shelf stock scattered across the floor, the consequence of the March 11 earthquake.
Local Japanese groups have been very keen to be involved in helping to rescue the animals but with so much confusion surrounding the issue re the safety aspect of handling animals in the radiation hot spots, and the unanswered question of how they should be tested for radio-activity, this has not been an easy task.
With the appropriate cleaning and quarantine period, they should be safe to handle and adopt, according to Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, who has conducted extensive studies on animals exposed to radiation in the Chernobyl region.
Tragically, in the meantime the lost animals of the new Japan exclusion zone are “Dying in the Land of Wolves… “
In Futaba town centre; a sign marking the entrance to the main shopping district. It read, "Nuclear power – the bright future of energy."