6 years on, Fukushima radiation still a worry

Radioactive boars in Fukushima thwart residents' plans to return home

6 years on, Fukushima radiation still a worry

The national government is preparing to lift the evacuation order on the village of Iitate, which was in the direct path of the radiation plume six years ago - a move Ulrich thinks unwise as the town still has "hot-spots" where radiation exceeds established norms. The fishing and farming town is situated about four kilometres away from the power plant, which was severely damaged by 15-metre waves when the tsunami struck on March 11, 2011.

Hunters have been called in to kill radioactive wild boars that have taken over towns evacuated during the Fukushima nuclear disaster before their residents return.

Families who had to flee their homes after the Fukushima nuclear disaster are now being pressured to return despite high radiation levels in a "looming human rights crisis", a charity has warned.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant was massively damaged in 2011, when three of the six nuclear reactors suffered meltdown after being struck by a 9.0-magnitude quake and associated tsunami waves.

But there is concern over a risk posed by new residents, hundreds of wild boars, who can attack people or cause potentially fatal vehicle crashes.

One of them, Shoichiro Sakamoto, now hunts the rampant beasts encroaching on residential areas in nearby Tomioka. According to Baba, the need to eliminate the boars is urgent: "If we don't get rid of them and turn this into a human-led town, the situation will get even wilder and uninhabitable".

Since last April, the hunters have disposed of 300 wild boars, but the work continues.

A survey conducted previous year by the government found that over half of Fukushima's former residents said they wouldn't return, with fears of radiation among the main reasons cited.

"I'm sure officials at all levels are giving some thought to this", said Hidezo Sato, a former seed merchant in Namie. "There was plenty of food and no one to come after them". Now, some of these towns like Naime are almost ready to welcome citizens back - but the wild boars who now seem to run the town make it a challenge to repopulate the region.

These evacuees are forced to live "uncomfortable" lives in places such as temporary housing facilities and hospitals, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted in a speech delivered during an annual memorial ceremony organized by the government in Tokyo.

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