Animals, the (Almost) Forgotten Victims of Nuclear Energy

by Antonio Pasolini on October 22, 2012

Last year’s tsunami in Japan triggered off the worst nuclear accident in recent history. The nuclear reactor at Fukushima was damaged by the March 11 natural disaster and people living within 20km (12.4 miles) of the power plant were forced to leave the area, which shows the extent of the danger of nuclear power.

Those people were not allowed to take with them their personal belongings. But to add to their pain, their beloved animal companions had to stay behind as well. When the hydrogen explosion took place on March 14, people who lived in the affected zone could no longer return home, not for a long time.

At the end of March 2011, a group of volunteers entered the ‘No go’ area at their own risk to take food and water to their animals. Amongst them was photographer Yasusuke Ota, who set about to take pictures of the animals left behind in the area around Fukushima.

What the volunteers found in the area was a vision of hell: cows on their knees bellowing for lack of food and water, or stuck in bogs and ditches; emaciated horses and pigs amidst corpses of their kind; corpses of pets who had died waiting for their owners to return or for being left chained to their kennel or trapped indoors. Some animals survived by eating whatever they could find and were still waiting for the return of their human carers.

Ota took pictures during a year, between March 2011 and March 2012, to call attention to this terrible story. “This tragedy was for some reason not reported by the Japanese media at first, and the truth is that there has been no proper help given to these animals even after one and a half years. I felt I needed to inform the world and leave evidence of what really happened. So I started to take photos of this while going inside the zone on rescue,’ she said.

Her photos have become a book and were recently shown at Huis Marseille gallery in Amsterdam as part of an attempt to raise awareness of the plight of those animals, which was not caused by earthquake or tsunami but by a nuclear power plant and official neglect.

For those wondering what an ostrich is doing in Fukushima, apparently they were introduced to the region as mascots for the very nuclear plants that forced them into such a terrible fate. But why ostriches? Because they grow on a small amounts of food; nuclear power is generated on a small amount of uranium. A very flimsy explanation, for sure, but not flimsier than any justification to pursue nuclear power as a source of energy.

(Via Huis Marseille)

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