(Reuters) – On the snowy fringes of Japan’s Fukushima city, now notorious as a byword for nuclear crisis, Zen monk Koyu Abe offers prayers for the souls of thousands left dead or missing after the earthquake and tsunami nearly one year ago.
But away from the ceremonial drums and the incense swirling around the Joenji temple altar, Abe has undertaken another task, no less harrowing — to search out radioactive “hot spots” and clean them up, storing irradiated earth on temple grounds.
Abe said he and the other monks are storing the soil on a hill behind the temple as neither the government nor the nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) are helping with the clean-up.
“No-one else would take the soil. If there’s nobody to take care of it, the decontamination can’t get going because there’s nowhere to get rid of it,” Abe said.
Volunteers have gathered some 400 kg (800 pounds) of radioactive waste.
But it is likely to take years to remove all of the “invisible snow,” as Abe describes the radiation — if that is even possible.
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