Cloud Chamber 9
Following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 which claimed more than 15,000 people, Japan was hit by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The nuclear plant was supposed to provide economic stability and wealthy life to people in Fukushima, which had been left out from the Japanese post-war economic miracle. However, it didn’t turn out to be ‘cloud number nine’ but a nightmare. It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
On 16 December 2011 Japanese authorities declared the plant to be stable, although it would take decades to decontaminate the surrounding areas and to decommission the plant altogether.
The disaster has raised many concerns. Although residents within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant have been ordered to evacuate, there are areas with high level of radiation outside the evacuation area because of the effect of wind. Since late April a designed evacuation zone has been set to advise the residents not to stay in the zone, which spreads across Iitate, Kawamata, Katsurao, Namie and Minami-soma in Fukushima prefecture and has around 10,000 residents, but some elderly residents remain staying because it cannot be forced.
As radiation is not visible and concerns over radiation increased, survey meters were sold out and even a basic science experiment like the ‘cloud chamber’, a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapour of alcohol to detect ionizing radiation, has interested the concerned public.