13 Juillet 2017
Disaster-struck beach to reopen in Miyagi after 6 summers closed
By YUSUKE YAMADA/ Staff Writer
MINAMI-SANRIKU, Miyagi Prefecture--A beach here will reopen to swimmers and bathers for the first time since it was closed after the nuclear disaster triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
“Local children have drifted away from the sea after the disaster,” said an official of the Minami-Sanriku-Cho Tourism Association, which manages the Sun Ole Sodehama beach. “I want to revitalize the region as the town of the ocean.”
Sun Ole Sodehama will be the sixth swimming area open in Miyagi Prefecture this summer, being added to those in Kesennuma, Ishinomaki, Higashi-Matsushima, Shiogama and Shichigahama.
The results of a water quality survey that covers bathing beaches and were released by the prefectural government showed readings for radioactive cesium are below detectable levels, and the water is clean enough for swimming in all the six municipalities.
The Environment Ministry also evaluates water quality based on transparency levels and other criteria.
While the beaches in Ishinomaki and Higashi-Matsushima are recognized as being “very good,” or “AA” quality, those in Kesennuma and Minami-Sanriku are ranked at “A,” which means the water quality is “good.”
The swimming areas in Shiogama and Shichigahama are ranked “B.”
Sun Ole Sodehama, opening for the first time in more than six years, boasts a 300-meter artificially made sandy beach and was flooded with families from in and outside the town before the disaster.
According to the town government, an average 37,000 people visited the beach annually over the five years until the earthquake.
The disaster caused the swimming area to suffer land subsidence and most parts of the sandy beach were swept away by the tsunami.
The prefectural government in May last year started efforts to reconstruct the beach, such as transporting 6,000 truckloads of sand, or 30,000 cubic meters, to the area.
The rebuilding work was completed in late June and the beach is expected to open July 15.
According to tourism association officials, three seaside restaurants as well as shops will be open this summer.