Back in March of 2011, a tsunami pummeled the coast of Japan and damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing a meltdown and the release of radioactive materials into the ocean. Since then, Fukushima has unfortunately become synonymous with horrendous disaster and radiation.
For 5-plus years following the event, tens of thousands of people have worked to decontaminate the plants and surrounding areas and reduce leakage, allowing people to slowly return to their hometowns. In the video above, the Olympic Channel highlights two local Fukushima surfers: Shigenori Suzuki, a surf instructor/truck driver, and Hideki Okumoto, a professor at Fukushima University, who talk about how the tsunami and the following events completely altered their lives both in the water and out.
Before the event, Fukushima was a popular surf zone and according to Okumoto, it likely would’ve been selected for the surfing venue of the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Towards the end of the video, Suzuki and Okumoto visit a nearby beach to test for radiation levels, which they found were actually similar to what they were before the nuclear meltdown. A bit shocking if you read reports from the Guardian and the Independent, about lethally high levels of radiation found near the reactor core last year and scientists’ estimate that it’ll take up to 40 years to clean up the nuclear mess in and around Fukushima.
“The beach was a symbol of this town,” says Okumoto in the video above. “We had no option but to leave here, we re-realized this ocean is an integral part of our soul. We’ll be fully revived once we get back this ocean of Fukushima.”