Jason Beaubien - As Japan continues to grapple with the effects of the March 11 earthquake, the prefecture of Fukushima faces some of the biggest challenges.
Fukushima's roads were damaged in the earthquake, its coast was battered by the tsunami, and now leaking radiation around the crippled Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has made parts of the prefecture unlivable.
The tsunami pushed seawater more than 2 miles inland in some places. Rail lines in Fukushima — Japan's third-largest prefecture — were destroyed along the coast; train traffic still hasn't resumed through the prefecture. Radiation from the leaking nuclear complex has forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes. The sale of many vegetables from Fukushima has been banned.
Akio Nagato, the director general of the Fukushima governor's office, says the tsunami and earthquake mainly affected the coast but the radiation is affecting the entire prefecture, which spans more than 5,000 square miles.
Even outside the 12-mile mandatory evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear plant, Nagato says, businesses are packing up and moving. He says the cleanup along the coast has barely started because vehicles can't travel through the nuclear exclusion zone.
"We are not just talking about rebuilding houses," Nagato says, speaking of the Fukushima coast. "We are talking about places of work, ports, railroads all being unusable. We are talking about the big picture here. We are talking about putting everything back together."
The nuclear disaster is now also a disaster for Fukushima's farmers. The government has banned the sale of milk, spinach and other leafy vegetables, not just from here but also from neighboring prefectures.
The Japanese Health Ministry found that the radiation level in these foods exceeds legal limits for human consumption. This has left farmers such as Shinichi Asaka with goods they can't sell.
"We are going to have throw it out," he says through an interpreter, regarding rows and rows of green spinach. "Get a big tractor, load it up and throw it out. There's nothing else to do." ...
via For Farmers In Fukushima, Japan, Growing Uncertainty : NPR.