“The alarm is ringing. That means danger,” says Keiko Sanpei, above, with a nervous laugh as she looks at a meter which shows radiation levels, at her dairy farm, more than five times the health limit. “I was afraid when I first returned. But being with the cows, that fear goes away.”
Sanpei’s home is in Namie, a radiation hotspot 17 miles downwind of the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant. It is just outside the government’s mandatory exclusion zone, but the ground here was so contaminated during the crisis residents are now exposed to almost as much radiation as someone standing outside the plant’s west gate.
Namie has become a ghost town. The fields, normally a hive of activity in this season, are deserted. Roads are almost empty, apart from emergency vehicles and a police van that blocks the route into the 16 mile-radius exclusion zone.
Almost all of the 2,000 residents followed government advice to evacuate after the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on 15 March, but Sanpei and her husband were among a few dozen farmers who returned, more concerned for their cattle than their personal safety.
“I could hear the cows in my ears mooing. I couldn’t sleep. I was so worried,” says Sanpei as one of the herd licks her arm. “We came back after a week. Even though the radiation was frightening, when we saw the cows again we had peace of mind.”
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii businesses are receiving federal money to help increase renewable energy production.
Hawaii Director for Rural Development Chris Kanazawa said the grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help create jobs and reduce energy use for rural communities.
Lalamilo Farm Partners in Kamuela will receive nearly $170,000 to help buy and install a 95 kilowatt photovoltaic system.
O Guest Ranch Maui in Kula will get $70,000 for a 43 kilowatt photovoltaic system on a dairy farm.