Two years after the triple calamities of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster ravaged Japan’s northeastern Pacific coast, forests that cover 70 percent of the Fukushima Prefecture have been found to contain high concentrations of radioactive cesium.
With traces revealed not only in the fallen leaves and soil, but in the trees themselves, the findings suggest that radiation has permanently found its way into the ecosystem.
The government is already spending billions of dollars decontaminating various towns in Fukushima, but the forests continue to emit radioactivity, putting the residents at risk.
Scientists suggest cutting down the trees as soon as possible because the cesium will gradually be transferred to the earth itself.
Many residents are now suing TEPCO, the nuclear plant’s operator, for the impact the disaster has had on surrounding communities.
It is estimated the power company will pay some about $400bn in cleanup costs and compensation.
Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reports from Fukushima.