Chernobyl of the Future


Photo: Pedro Moura Pinheiro on Flickr

Because this year is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the accident or for some other reasons, in Japan documentaries about Chernobyl are repeatedly broadcasted and many are watching them on TV and online.

We are not remembering Chernobyl accident. Nor are we heartbroken by the misery. We are seeing the future of Japan in these scenes. The aftermath of Chernobyl is the state we are in at present, while the current state of Chernobyl is our future. Watching these scenes, we all are certain that our future memory is etched onto them.

We superimpose an unpublicized image of Fukushima plant from just a few months ago over the footages from Chernobyl in which nuclear workers walk around the reactors that have just exploded, leaving clear stains of radiation in the surroundings. We see the future of Fukushima in the deserted woods of Chernobyl, and I see myself in the people lying in the hospital bed. Meanwhile we witness several elderlies still living in a small village that was long thought to be deserted, as if nothing had happened. Chernobyl by no means is a world consisting of statistical data, but of actual flesh and blood, where living-beings are breathing.

Our view towards Chernobyl, however, is not limited to this. We simultaneously look at the place with practical observations into the details of everyday life, in comparison to our current situation.

Twenty-five years after the accident, a crate of milk was delivered to a family in a village in Belarus. A mother suspected safety of drinking the milk, and took it to a nearby school. To our surprise, the school had its own radiation monitor, set up for public use. The mother was able to measure the radiation level of the milk. The result showed a slight amount of cesium but below the safety limit. Seeing this segment we become envious of the Belarusian community that is equipped with their own monitors, and we are angry at our own government that does not even take safety measures of this level. Also we are relieved to see the minuteness of radiation in the milk, but shocked by seeing the remnants of the contamination even twenty-five years later, and sigh deeply by realizing that children are drinking the milk.

The films from Chernobyl taught us: what types of places tend to attract radioactive materials, how effective (or ineffective) the spraying water onto the reactor can be, and under what millisievert people should consider evacuation. We also learn how many years it takes for human bodies to show symptoms, and what people would do when they do.

But all these leave me thinking about this one thing: I would very much like to have one of those radiation-monitoring machines – how much would they cost anyway?

PDF (English)













PDF (日本語)


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