A radio documentary about the ongoing human and environmental impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Fukushima is a name known around the world since the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex was shattered and radiation scattered following the  earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

The world held its breath as images of emergency workers in radiation suits, bewildered and fearful locals sleeping at schools and grainy aerial footage of an increasingly vulnerable reactor filled our screens and press.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. People in Fukushima are still trying to pick up the pieces.

While the headlines might have faded, the radiation, dislocation and complexity has not. Fukushima remains a costly, complex and continuing nuclear crisis today.

Fukushima means ‘fortunate island’ but the region’s luck melted down alongside the reactor. Tens of thousands of people cannot return to their homes. The United Nations has detailed some of the massive impact: “hundreds of billions of dollars of property damage”, “serious radioactive contamination of water, agriculture, fisheries”, “grave stress and mental trauma”.

Lives have been utterly disrupted and altered.

The Fukushima nuclear accident was and remains a profound environmental and social tragedy.

Fukushima’s fallout started life as Australian uranium. In October 2011 it was formally confirmed that Australian uranium was fuelling the reactors when they failed.

This documentary, written and narrated by ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney and produced by Jessie Boylan, is compiled from recordings and interviews Dave collected on a visit to the affected region in August 2012. It was first aired on national public radio in March 2013.

In the years since, little has changed. The human and environmental impacts of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl continue, as does the need for a shared energy future that is renewable, not radioactive. 

Dave Sweeney

Nuclear free campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation.