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【福島3年惡夢】畏懼輻射 郡山孩子足不出戶

立報/本報訊 2014.03.12 00:00
策劃、編譯■劉耘

福島311核災本週屆滿3年,

安倍政府卻彷彿甚麼也沒發生過般,打算重啟核電廠。

核災從未隨著時間消散,不僅對輻射的無形恐懼讓孩童足不出戶,

災區因心理壓力死亡的人數也不斷增加,

日本社會如何在重建的漫漫長路上前行?

在距離福島核電廠僅一小段路程的郡山市,有些年紀最小的孩子幾乎不知道外出玩耍的感覺;在他們短短的生命經驗裡,有大部分時間都因恐懼輻射而待在家中。

(上圖)福島縣磐城市一位男孩行經311燭光紀念活動,圖攝於2014年3月9日。(圖文/路透)

儘管福島第一核電廠2011年的爐心熔毀核災發生至今,對戶外活動的嚴格安全限制如今已下修許多,家長的擔憂及長久累積的習慣,讓許多孩子仍只能待在室內。

當地官員及教育者表示,負面影響如今已慢慢顯現:孩子們的體力下滑、肢體協調不佳,有些孩子甚至不能騎腳踏車,也出現易怒等情緒問題。

「有些孩童非常害怕,吃任何東西前都會詢問:『這裡面有輻射嗎?』我們必須告訴他們這可以吃。」位於福島核電廠以西55公里的郡山百貨幼稚園主任平栗光弘說道。

「但有些孩子真的非常、非常想出去玩。他們想去沙坑玩耍、堆泥巴。我們必須告訴他們很抱歉,不行,你們只能在室內沙坑裡玩。」他說。

戶外活動 1天不到1小時

2011年發生地震及海嘯後,一連串爆炸及反應爐核心熔毀造成這場世界25年來最嚴重的核災,噴出的輻射籠罩著福島一片向來以稻米、牛肉及桃子聞名的農作區。

第一核電廠方圓30公里被列為禁區,迫使16萬多人離開世世代代居住的家園。

在其他輻污沒那麼嚴重的地方,民眾則採取別種措施,例如替換公園及學校遊樂場的泥土、在人行道等公共空間展開除污作業,以及限制孩童在外玩耍時間。

「明天,災區有些孩子將年滿3歲。」日本首相安倍晉三10日說道。

他在一場全國電視記者會中表示,將邀請這些孩子參加2020年奧運,人數越多越好,以作為「重建的象徵」。那時他們將就讀4年級。

不過,任何重建工作看來都還有漫漫長路要走。

郡山市政府在核災發生後不久就建議,2歲以下兒童每天不得在戶外待超過15分鐘,3到5歲孩童的戶外活動時間則限制在30分鐘內。

政府已於去年10月上修這項標準,但許多幼稚園及育幼院仍繼續遵行這項限制,以符合憂心家長的期望。

郡山一座室內遊樂場裡,記者偶然聽見一位母親告訴她孩子:「試著避免接觸戶外的空氣。」

即使是3歲小孩也知道「輻射」這個字。

儘管1986年的車諾比核能事故造成許多孩童罹患甲狀腺癌,聯合國去年5月表示,他們預計福島核災後的罹癌率不會上升。

平栗光弘說,郡山百貨幼稚園周遭的輻射量,已從震後當時的每小時3.1到3.7微西弗,下降到現在的約每小時0.12到0.14微西弗。

雖然這低於日本當局設定的安全值每年1千微西弗,但各地輻射量差異極大且不規律,讓許多家長對於讓孩子在外玩耍緊張不已。

「我試著不要出門或開窗。」育有3子的34歲母親金田步說:「我購買遠離福島的地區生產的食物。這已成為我們生活的常態。」

對身心造成負面影響

然而,缺乏戶外活動已對郡山市的孩童造成負面影響,不論身心皆然。

「與災前相比,你可以明顯看到孩童在體適能測驗結果中表現下降,例如握力、跑步及丟球。」郡山市政府官員矢部壽明表示。

福島縣教育委員會的年度調查發現,福島地區幾乎各年齡層的孩童體重都高出全國平均許多。

5歲兒童體重比平均值高約0.5公斤,6歲男童的體重差異則增加為1公斤,11歲男童體重更超出平均近3公斤。

平栗光弘說,在孩童間逐漸增加的打架、爭吵,甚至是突然流鼻血的情況中,可看到孩童的心理壓力逐漸浮現,以及其他更隱蔽的影響。

「許多孩子對事物的反應不那麼警覺。他們提不起勁做任何事。」他說。

郡山市已移除多處公共場所的輻污泥土,有些更換超過一次,而更換所有公共公園遊樂設施的作業也即將完工。

身為郡山市議員的矢部壽明表示,家長對輻射風險的態度可能慢慢轉變。

「如今,比起聽到家長說他們擔心輻射,我們更常聽到他們擔心孩童足不出戶。」他說。

但平栗光弘表示,事態仍相當艱困。

「有時,我確實會懷疑,把這些孩子留在福島是否恰當。但這裡有些人是沒有能力離開的,而我強烈的覺得自己該為他們盡我所能做的一切。」他說。(路透)

▲郡山市一位男子正在遊樂場中進行除污作業,當時測得輻射值為每小時0.207微西弗,圖攝於2014年2月27日。(圖文/路透)

▲郡山百貨幼稚園的孩童在室內沙坑中玩耍,圖攝於2014年2月28日。(圖文/路透)

▲郡山百貨幼稚園一名女孩行經校園附近的輻射偵測器,當時測得輻射值為每小時0.122微西弗,圖攝於2014年2月28日。(圖文/路透)

▲福島縣二本松市一位5歲女孩正進行甲狀腺檢查,圖攝於2014年2月27日。(圖文/路透)

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Some of the smallest children in Koriyama, a short drive from the Fukushima nuclear plant, barely know what it's like to play outside -- fear of radiation has kept them in doors for much of their short lives.

Though the strict safety limits for outdoor activity set after multiple meltdowns(1) at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011 have now been eased, parental worries and ingrained(2) habit mean many children still stay inside.

And the impact is now starting to show, with children experiencing falling strength, lack of coordination, some can not even ride a bicycle, and emotional issues like shorter tempers, officials and educators say.

"There are children who are very fearful. They ask before they eat anything, 'does this have radiation in it?' and we have to tell them it's okay to eat," said Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, director of the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama, some 55 km west of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

"But some really, really want to play outside. They say they want to play in the sandbox and make mud pies. We have to tell them no, I'm sorry. Play in the sandbox inside instead."

Following the 2011 quake and tsunami, a series of explosions and meltdowns caused the world's worst nuclear accident for 25 years, spewing radiation over a swathe of Fukushima, an agricultural area long known for its rice, beef and peaches.

A 30 km radius around the plant was declared a no-go zone, forcing some 160,000 people from homes where some had lived for generations.

Other areas, where the radiation was not so critically high, took steps such as replacing the earth in parks and school playgrounds, decontaminating public spaces like sidewalks, and limiting children's outdoor play time.

"There are children in the disaster-stricken areas who are going to turn three tomorrow," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday.

He told a nationally televised news conference he wanted to invite as many of them as possible to the 2020 Olympics, when they will be fourth-graders, as a "symbol of reconstruction."

Any such revival looks a long way off.

In Koriyama, the city recommended shortly after the disaster that children up to two years old not spend more than 15 minutes outside each day. Those aged 3 to 5 should limit their outdoor time to 30 minutes or less.

These limits were lifted last October, but many kindergartens and nursery schools continue to adhere to the limits, in line with the wishes of worried parents.

One mother at an indoor Koriyama playground was overheard telling her child: "Try to avoid touching the outside air".

Even three-year-olds know the word "radiation".

Though thyroid(3) cancer in children was linked to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the United Nations said last May that cancer rates were not expected to rise after Fukushima.

Radiation levels around the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama were now down around 0.12-0.14 microsieverts per hour, from 3.1 to 3.7 right after the quake, said Hiraguri.

This works out to be lower than Japan's safety level of 1,000 microsieverts a year, but levels can vary widely and at random, keeping many parents nervous about any outdoor play.

"I try to keep from going out and from opening the window," said 34-year-old Ayumi Kaneta, who has three sons. "I buy food from areas away from Fukushima. This is our normal life now."

But this lack of outdoor play is having a detrimental(4) affect on Koriyama's children, both physical and mentally.

"Compared to before the disaster, you can certainly see a fall in the results of physical strength and ability tests - things like grip strength, running and throwing balls," said Toshiaki Yabe, an official with the Koriyama city government.

An annual survey by the Fukushima prefecture Board of Education found that children in Fukushima weighed more than the national average in virtually every age group.

Five year olds were roughly 500 gms heavier, while the weight difference grew to 1 kg for six-year-old boys. Boys of 11 were nearly 3 kg heavier.

Hiraguri said that stress was showing up in an increase of scuffles, arguments and even sudden nosebleeds among the children, as well as more subtle effects.

"There's a lot more children who aren't all that alert in their response to things. They aren't motivated to do anything," he said.

Koriyama has removed decontaminated(5) earth in public places, sometimes more than once, and work to replace all playground equipment in public parks should finish soon.

Yabe, at Koriyama city hall, said parental attitudes towards the risk of radiation may be slowly shifting.

"These days, instead of hearing from parents that they're worried about radiation, we're hearing that they're more worried because their kids don't get outside," he said.

But Hiraguri said things are still hard.

"I do sometimes wonder if it's really all right to keep children in Fukushima. But there are those who can't leave, and I feel strongly that I must do all I can for them."(Reuters)

關鍵字詞

1.meltdown (n.)核反應爐爐心熔毀

2.ingrained(a.)根深蒂固的

3.thyroid(a.)甲狀腺的

4.detrimental(a)有害的

5.decontaminate(v.)除污

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