In Japan, Nuclear Cleanup May Be Mission: Impossible

BY News Desk  March 12, 2012 at 4:25 PM EST

In the second installment of a three-part series on Japan’s recovery, Miles O’Brien reports on Japanese residents who are struggling to clean up contaminated farms, roads and school yards after the massive earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster struck Japan one year ago. Here’s an advanced look at the piece, which will air tonight.

He accompanies one couple as they visit the rice farm they were forced to abandon after 600 years and 30 generations of growing rice on that land. The farm is five miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Their home is covered in dust and overgrown weeds.

At each turn, volunteers are met with challenges. They scrape and bag contaminated soil, but the government has designated no dumping spot for the hot dirt. And even if they had, winds carry contaminated pine needles, pollen and dust from a nearby cedar forest back into town.

In his first piece, which aired Friday, O’Brien explored ongoing questions and confusion on what constitutes acceptable radiation levels as safety standards fluctuate.