What happened ?
On March 11, 2011, on the Japan west coast, took place an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale. It was the biggest earthquake never registered in Japan since the beginning that measures are taken. This earthquake was followed by a devastating tsunami with a wave going until 13 meters high by place. Whole cities were destroyed, people die because of these two natural disasters.
On the Honshu Island, existed two nuclear power stations : Fukushima Daiichi and Fukuchima Daini (distant one of the other one of a dozen km). They are both exploited by the TEPCO (the electricity company of Tokyo). These two nuclear power stations rather resisted well the earthquake, and were stopped automatically. But the tsunami which followed, seriously damaged cooling systems as well as the backup systems, supposed to take over in case of major breakdown. This impossibility to cool correctly reactors is the starting point of the major nuclear accident.
In fact, radioactive vapors escaped with highly pure hydrogen gases. It is this hydrogen, in touch with some ambient oxygen which is responsible of the Fukushima Daiichi explosions.
More than 19 000 people die, 340 000 inhabitants of the zone are moved, 1 800 km2 of the grounds are contaminated and millions of cubic meters of ocean are polluted.
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station before and after the explosion
The earthquake provoked a tsunami. The water destroyed everything on its way. The place is now a ghost town as every building was damaged. Citizens can’t go back there is nothing left, even if sometimes they can still find some of their belonging. Families have lost their home. Furthermore some people were trapped and drowned or died by getting stuck below ruins. The population is shocked and don’t want to talk about the event because the loss of their home and beloved people traumatized them.
The explosion freed radioactive gas that can contaminate people. There is two possible way of contamination. When they breathe or eat the particles, or with the particles moved by the cloud of particles that can be dropped on the roofs, the clothes and on the people.
Theses particles can make possible the mutation of the irradiated cells. If enough cells are contaminated is can trigger cancer especially thyroid gland one. In fact the thyroid gland absorb iodine even the bad one contained in the radioactive particles.
After the disaster the number of thyroid cancer has risen.
People can get poisoned even years later if they eat contaminated products, that’s why the government build up restrictions.
Evacuation of the population
In a radius of 30 km, the area is contaminated by the radioactive particles that were carried by the wind and fell on the ground with the rain. And because of that the soils are now contaminated, so is the subsoil. Which means the water supplies are full of particles of Caesium 137, which has a lifespan of 30 years that means the contamination will still be present for years. With the ground, the plants and the animals eating the grass are contaminated.
The animals contaminated can mutate, for example butterflies were captured when they were still caterpillar two month after the explosion. They show some anomalies like a malformation of the eyes and their wings sire reduced.
Furthermore, the ocean received the majority of the radioactive particles because of the winds. Which it’s toxic for the marine species. Some species such as mussel, oyster or seaweed are particularly infected. The fish are also infected and cannot be eaten by Human to avoid the contamination.
In a 2016 report Greenpeace report the result of a study on the nature:
-High radiation concentrations in new leaves, and at least in the case of cedar, in pollen
-Apparent increases in growth mutations of fir trees with rising radiation levels
-Heritable mutations in pale blue grass butterfly populations and DNA-damaged worms in highly contaminated areas, as well as apparent reduced fertility in barn swallows
-Decreases in the abundance of 57 bird species with higher radiation levels over a four year study
-High levels of caesium contamination in commercially important freshwater fish; and radiological contamination of one of the most important ecosystems – coastal estuaries.
The Tepco society (which owns the site and exploited it) said it will give 180 000€ to every local government and 8 000€ to each household. But also to the farmer, fisher, and society that were harmed by the event.
The rebuilding will cost a huge amount and will take a lot of time. Plus the population couldn’t go back to their town, the government had to provide them a shelter.
The export of Japanese product had been reduced as the countries were asked to control the radioactivity. The fear of the contaminated product gained the rest of the world and the Japanese economy suffered from it.
In order to re build and help the population the government dig even more the public account deficit.
Japanes people and governement reactions
For many Japanese and especially those living in the Fukushima region the government reaction was judged to be less than adequate. Decontamination equipment was slow to be made available and then slow to be utilized.
The Prime minister Naoto Kan took an anti-nuclear measure and froze that was made to build new reactors. In July 2011 he said that “Japan should reduce and eventually eliminate its dependence on nuclear energy ... saying that the Fukushima accident had demonstrated the dangers of the technology"
There have been many anti-nuclear protests in Japan during 2011 to make the government-abandoned nuclear power. Almost every month, thousand of Japanese marched in the streets to make the government give up; they were shouting “sayonara nuclear power”. The people doen't want the disaster to happen again in some other central.
In August 2011, the Japanese Government passed a bill to subsidize electricity from renewable energy sources.
An energy white paper, approved by the Japanese Cabinet in October 2011, says, "public confidence in safety of nuclear power was greatly damaged" by the Fukushima disaster, and calls for a reduction in the nation’s reliance on nuclear power.
The Prime minister Naoto Kan
"Sayonara nuclear power" prostest