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Meet the 'Mothers' of Fukushima Who Monitor Radiation Levels After Disaster Ten Years Ago

Japan marks 10th anniversary of Fukushima disaster. Image for representation.

Japan marks 10th anniversary of Fukushima disaster. Image for representation.

They now gauge levels with the aid of five machines that include cesium 134, cesium 137, tritium and strontium 90.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant mishap was a 2011 nuclear accident that had caused widespread radiation contamination. This happened after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused meltdowns at the nuclear power plant in the Japanese northeastern prefecture ten years ago.

It was the most severe nuclear accident the world witnessed since the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 and the only other accident classified as Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

While the recovery continues, just months after nuclear meltdown, a donation-based NGO set up by a group of more than 10 mothers who live about an hour’s drive away from the Fukushima power plant started a citizen-led laboratory to monitor radiation levels in and around Fukushima communities.

Since November 13, 2011, the laboratory known as Tarachine, or the Mothers’ Radiation Lab Fukushima, was founded. The group has been recording and disclosing radiation data in food, soil and water samples collected or brought by residents from different parts of the prefecture. The samples also include seawater collected off the Fukushima nuclear plant.

According to Kyodo News website, the lab has close to 18 staff members, many of them mothers who mostly had no experience in measuring radiation but have perceived and trained themselves with support from scientists and experts from the field. They now gauge levels with the aid of five machines that include cesium 134, cesium 137, tritium and strontium 90.

They lab has occasionally detected radiation above safety levels, and their reports are released every month on their website, which includes the machine used and other details for each reading to make their activities as transparent as possible.

One of the founding members of Mothers’ Radiation Lab Fukushima, Kaori Suzuki in a recent interview said, “If the risks of nuclear power had been thoroughly verified by the previous generations, I think the disaster would not have happened.”