The Graveyard of Boats – photo essay

Richard Hering and Takako Yamaguchi have been touring with visionOntv’s Making News Roadshow in Japan, promoting video citizen journalism. As part of this they visited the area of the earthquake-damaged nuclear reactors. Richard’s first article from the Roadshow follows:

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Near Minamisoma City, just 25km from the nuclear meltdown at the power plants of Fukushima, northeastern Japan, is a shocking sight. It’s a classical painting gone wrong, where seascape and landscape have surreally combined.

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The tsunami carried these boats no less than five kilometres inland.

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The area is known locally as the “graveyard of boats”. There are some 30 hulks here.

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Compensation from the authorities and from nuclear power company TEPCO has been marred by controversy. Application forms sent out to 60,000 households on September 12th are 60 pages long with a 156-page manual. (Earlier provisional payments were praised for their simplicity). The new claim forms, with one required for each individual in a family, also only cover the period to the end of August, with a new form being required for subsequent damages. “Is this some kind of harassment?” tweeted a recipient. (1)

In any case, compensation will not restart the fishing industry on this coast any time soon. The ocean around remains irradiated, including the vital frozen storage. So this is all that is left.

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Our guide, Tomoyuki Narasaki of the Japan Volunteer Centre, informs us that the tsunami wave also took 600 lives on this coast alone. On what was once a popular public beach, most of the sand was washed away. The force of the wave ripped up some of the some of the very solid stone steps which took sunbathers to the water and carried them far inland.

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The remains of a concrete bridge. Cars and other metal items lie in shredded and rusting heaps.

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We visit a closed primary school, whose playground has a huge pit in the centre, as diggers excavate the radioactive dust from it.

Narasaki-san introduces us to a project he manages, Minamisoma Disaster Radio. This citizen radio station broadcasts three times a day, including the latest radiation levels, and facts and opinions from listeners. He was our guide for what he ironically termed “disaster tourism”. His guided tour will be published soon on globalviews.

Follow all coverage of the Making News Roadshow tour on the globalviews channel.

NOTES:

(1) http://www.majiroxnews.com/2011/09/14/tepco-blasted-over-60-page-compensation-application-forms/

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