In October 2016 Lis participated in a study tour of Fukushima, organised by Green Cross Switzerland*. This is an exhibition of her photographs and texts, which include statements by the people she met while on the tour.
The ’20 millisieverts per year’ exhibition title refers to the maximum dose of ionising radiation originating from a nuclear power plant to which citizens of Fukushima prefecture, Japan, can now be exposed in the course of a year.
In March 2011 an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. This resulted in radioactive fallout contaminating at least 8% of the land surface of Japan and the evacuation of 164,865 people.
After six years the catastrophe continues, despite extensive remediation efforts and spiralling costs. As well as the unresolved crises at the Daiichi nuclear plant itself, urban and rural areas remain highly contaminated and severe physical, psychological, social, and economic consequences continue to unfold for many people.
In most of Japan, as in the rest of the world, the maximum permitted non-occupational dose of ionising radiation to a citizen is 1 millisievert per year. This is the standard recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).
However, following the 2011 nuclear disaster, the annual threshold was raised to 20 millisieverts per year for citizens of Fukushima. This puts enormous pressure on many of those who evacuated, compulsorily as well as voluntarily, to return to live in areas which are still contaminated, as the financial support for them to live elsewhere will be terminated in March 2017.
Many people feel betrayed by the government as well as by those in the media and scientific and medical communities who downplay the risks and support the policy of raising the radiation exposure threshold to 20 millisieverts per year. Many people, in Japan and elsewhere, consider this to be a serious breach of human rights.
The exhibition texts include statements by some of these people, who Lis met while on the tour, which reveal some of ways they are responding to the catastrophe.
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* Green Cross Switzerland is the environmental NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev: http://www.greencross.ch/en/