10 Toxic Towns You Still Can’t Live In
Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
Located downwind from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Namie was evacuated and declared a no-go zone after a devastating earthquake and tsunami ravaged the surrounding region on 11 March 2011, causing three catastrophic meltdowns at the plant. The town is pictured here in 2010.
Before the disaster, Namie had a population of over 20,000. Located within the 12-mile exclusion zone, the town remained completely out of bounds and eerily silent until April 2012, when the authorities divided it into three zones based on their levels of radioactive contamination.
Former residents were allowed to visit Zone A, located closest to the coast, but weren’t permitted to stay overnight.
They could visit Zone B for very brief periods, but Zone C, the most contaminated of the lot, remained closed off, with access strictly forbidden.
As clean-up operations have progressed, Zones A and B were declared safe in April 2017 and former residents were allowed to return, but many have chosen to stay away. Access to Zone C, on the other hand, is still completely prohibited and is expected to stay that way until at least 2023.