The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Room Y409
Date: 9th March 2013
Time: 12:00 - 18:00
Dr. David McNeill of Sophia University Tokyo
Two years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, its legacy weighs heavily on Japan. Over 160,000 people forcibly evacuated from their homes around the plant have yet to return. Tens of thousands more from Fukushima prefecture have left voluntarily, some never to go back to their contaminated towns and villages. The fight for compensation has begun and already it is steeped on controversy, with most nuclear refugees complaining of needlessly bureaucratic procedures and inadequate payments. In Tokyo, the new government has signaled it wants to restart all the nation's 50 commercial reactors, despite antinuclear opposition. That battle too will rage for years. And what about the plant itself? Workers struggle to decommission its 6 reactors, a difficult, dangerous job the government estimates will take 40 years. The buildup of radioactive water continues, stored in huge onsite tanks with nowhere to go. The risk of another large quake releasing catastrophic quantities of radiation from the plant's damaged fuel pools has not gone away. Meanwhile, in the contaminated 20 km zone around the plant, life has frozen in time. Outside the zone, the cleanup of radiation that has blanketed 8 percent of the country has slowed. Nobody knows what the future holds because the accident was unique.
Dr. David McNeill writes for The Independent, The Chronicle of Higher Ed. and The Economist magazine and teaches at Sophia University in Tokyo. He is the co-author of the just-released "Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's earthquake, Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown (Palgrave Macmillan)