Probing Fukushima’s Invisible Legacy, Misa Yasumiishi, UBNow

Image of a locked gate restricts access to highly contaminated areas.

A locked gate restricts access to highly contaminated areas. Photo: Misa Yasumiishi

It was the summer of 2016 — five years after an earthquake and tsunami had caused three nuclear reactors to melt down at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant in Japan.

Yasumiishi — a UB PhD student — had returned to the country to investigate the accident’s lingering effects. With a team from the University of Tokyo, she collected more than 400 soil samples from lands that were once a family farm. Her goal: to analyze how much radioactive material remained in the ground to quantify an invisible threat.

“Unlike a flood or a fire, a nuclear disaster has a very unique or peculiar side to it,” Yasumiishi says. “You cannot see radiation. It may be there or it may not be there — you cannot know this unless you measure it. It’s an invisible threat. It creates a feeling of distress and anxiety."

Published February 6, 2017


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