The Fukushima Disaster Of 2011: Uncovering The Causes And Studying How To Prevent Another Tragedy
On 11 March 2011, a monster earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that caused tremendous damage across Japan.
One such place was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a disastrous meltdown and claimed thousands of lives.
It begs the question: how did the backup and emergency systems fail so completely?
Discover what went wrong in the Fukushima disaster, and why it could happen again.
In these sections you will learn about the inspector who found a crack at the Fukushima plant was silenced; why the meltdown was like a crime scene; and why American inspectors aren’t sufficiently protecting their citizens.
It’s important to understand these lessons to prevent another similar situation from occurring.
The best way to do stay safe is by looking back into this tragedy and analyzing what led up to this event—and what we can do differently next time around.
No one wants another disaster of this magnitude ever again—we need to be proactive and make sure that our leaders are taking steps towards preventing it.
The 2011 Earthquake And Tsunami In Japan: The Unprecedented Tragedy
The 2011 earthquake off the coast of Japan was one of the greatest disasters to ever hit the country.
It measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, which is 45 times more than initial estimates and makes it one of the biggest earthquakes in history.
The immense energy that was released by this quake caused a massive tsunami with waves so powerful they even reached as far as the Antarctic.
It caused an unimaginable amount of destruction, claiming over 18,000 lives in total.
This earthquake has served as a reminder to never underestimate mother nature and its potential to cause destruction.
Fortunately, we have advanced warning systems in place today that can better measure and detect similar events, allowing us to better prepare for them.
In The Face Of Disaster: The Flaws In Fukushima’S Contingency Plan
When the huge tsunami struck Japan, no one could have predicted the immense destruction it caused.
But when the waters surged into Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and cut off its power source, authorities soon realized they had an even bigger crisis to handle.
All of a sudden, they were without the electricity needed to cool the plant’s nuclear reactors, a crucial step in preventing them from entering meltdown mode in just 30 minutes time.
What proved even more disastrous was that not only did the flooding take out their emergency power generator and all of their instruments in the control room, but also their contingency plan was left lacking.
With no means to manually vent their reactor and send out notifications in case of emergency as dictated by their emergency plan, as well as having no way to communicate with relevant authorities, it became clear just how ill-equipped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was for such an enormous disaster – severely escalating what already had been a grave situation.
The Japanese Government’s Lack Of Transparency And Inaction Hindered Accurate Information Flow After The Fukushima Tsunami Disaster
In the days following the Fukushima disaster, the public found themselves struggling to get reliable information.
SPEEDI, a prediction system designed to measure the severity of radioactivity emerging from a plant and where this would head next, was not working due to lack of power at Fukushima Daiichi.
The Japanese government and traditional media outlets were also undermining accurate information by cozying up to the nuclear industry.
This created a clear conflict of interest for reporters, who if too harsh risk losing out on exclusive access.
Adding insult to injury, reports indicated that crucial information may have been deliberately withheld due to lack of verification from the government’s side.
To avoid panic, the term “meltdown” wasn’t even used when that is exactly what happened; instead opting for more vague terms like “fuel pellet melt”.
All in all, these issues made it increasingly difficult for folks outside of Japan to get hold of reliable information on what actually happened during those chaotic days following the disaster.
Nuclear Power In Japan: Oversights, Misinformation, And A Systemic Lack Of Accountability
Japan is one of the world’s leading producers of nuclear energy.
In fact, it has the greatest number of nuclear plants in the world, far surpassing any other country.
Unfortunately, despite having so many plants, Japan also tends to lack adequate oversight and regulation when it comes to nuclear safety and power.
This was highlighted in a 2012 report by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.
It revealed that 22 members on the government’s Nuclear Safety Commission had all received donations from the nuclear industry totaling $1.1 million over a five-year period.
Furthermore, regulators often know that when they retire there is a good chance they’ll find a job in the nuclear industry themselves – thus giving them little incentive to be strict with their oversight.
Additionally, accurate information about the dangers of nuclear power are often understated or hidden away, both by news media and by government officials itself.
Take for example how after Chernobyl, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) told people that similar accidents couldn’t happen in Japan as opposed to properly addressing potential hazards and taking appropriate steps to prevent them which ultimately led directly to Fukushima Daichi incident.
The Aftermath Of Fukushima Daiichi: Economic And Social Effects Reveal A Trail Of Destruction
The Fukushima disaster was incredibly destructive, not only in terms of human life but also economically.
TEPCO estimated they’d need a $25 billion loan from Japanese banks to finance repairs just two weeks after the accident and with longer-term rebuilding costs estimated at around $317 billion, it’s clear that the disaster had a massive impact on the economy.
The situation was made worse by issues within the food industry – for example, milk from cows in the Fukushima area was deemed unsafe for consumption.
The fishing industry was also badly crippled as radioactive contaminants leaked out into the sea.
Public frustration reached its peak when thousands hit the streets for major anti-nuclear protests whilst Yoshihiko Noda assumed office as prime minister in September 2011.
People demanded that every nuclear reactor in Japan be shut down immediately, yet instead Noda chose to restart two reactors without much public support.
It’s clear to see that while this disaster had a horrific human cost, it also devastated many economic aspects throughout Japan and further galvanized public responses against nuclear power.
Can A Fukushima Disaster Happen In The United States? Yes — And We Need To Take More Responsible Actions To Prevent It
US authorities have long tried to reassure the American people that an accident like the Fukushima disaster can’t happen in the United States by insisting that conditions are too different.
However, such assurances remain unconvincing.
After all, there are several American reactors located downstream from large dams – conditions very similar to Fukushima’s circumstances.
Furthermore, despite knowing about this risk for many years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been inexplicably reluctant to take any action.
A closer look at the NRC reveals why this might be the case.
Its decision-making process is based on flawed logic and its standards are vague – just enough to allow them to deny responsibility should anything go wrong.
What’s more, their mission statement was changed from “provide adequate protection of public health and safety” to “reasonable assurance of adequate safety” – absolving themselves from liability in case of a disaster.
Overall, these tactics make it difficult for us to trust that nothing similar will ever happen in America and highlights our need for increased safety measures when dealing with nuclear energy.
The Final Summary of the Fukushima disaster is that it could not have been predicted, but it could have been avoided or at least mitigated if not for the corruption, short-sightedness and willful neglect that surrounded it.
Sadly, lessons from the Fukushima disaster have yet to be learned as both Japan and the United States are still at risk due to their continued use of nuclear reactors.
It is important for us all to take these lessons seriously before tragedy strikes again.