8 years after the second greatest nuclear disaster recorded in world history went down at Fukushima, the effects are still being felt and sadly enough, powerful global voices have turned a deaf ear to the deadly situation.

In March 2011, Fukushima, a Japanese city, experienced a massive earthquake that generated powerful tsunamis from the Pacific Ocean [1]. Three out of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were damaged and shut down by the force of the water. The heat from within the reactor cores caused the installed rods to melt down partially, which led to the release of harmful radioactive energy.

The twin natural disasters and radioactive fallout killed 16,000 people in within the city [2]. 165,000 people were forced to flee their homes. The government initially began by evacuating people living within a 30km radius of the plant to protect them from radiation poisoning. The radius was progressively increased when neighboring areas were getting contaminated as well. In July 2013, residents of some of the outer areas were permitted to return to their homes.

Fukushima is still largely uninhabitable. The towns directly bordering the nuclear plant are still undergoing decontamination, a containment process which is estimated to last for another 30-40 years.

Radiation-laced water leaking into the Pacific in heavy tons

The current situation at the Fukushima placed is a perfect disaster waiting to happen. Water percolating into the reactors from underground is getting flushed out constantly, leaking at least 200 tons of radiation-laced water daily into the Pacific Ocean [3].

Currently, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, is working hard to contain the situation by collecting the toxic sludge in sealed canisters around the site. This is a measure to prevent the waste from leaking into the Pacific or onto the surrounding land. They’ve already collected about one million tons of water laced with radioactive substances, especially tritium, whereby they claim cesium and strontium are being coveted by an ion exchange process into sodium [4]. Tritium is much harder to separate from water than the other substances, and despite being less harmful to human health, it’s still abundant in the filtered water.

The issue remains that underground water is still mixing with the radioactive substances from the plant, even after a $320 million ice wall was installed by the company to block out the underground water [3]. Despite the fact that the wall is doing a measure of good service, it’s still not enough to protect the ocean totally from radiation leak. Rainfall is causing sections of the wall to break and leak back into the water. Latest figures released by the company suggest that the ice wall is reducing the amount of water seeping in from underground to about 95 tons daily [5].

On average, the plant accumulates 500 tons daily, out of which 300 are purified and stored in tanks. What then happens to the remaining 200 tons? Seeps right back into the ocean. The water collected in the tanks is just sitting right there, waiting for another disaster to occur and douse the entire prefecture all over again. No one knows what to do with the tanks yet, and they just keep on piling up in the plant.

Deaf ears, blind eyes, and turned heads

World governments have decided to ignore the impending danger that could cause a major global catastrophe in a matter of time [6]. Obviously, the situation is too great for TEPCO alone to handle if a $320 million project couldn’t contain the situation effectively. It’s difficult to believe that political measures are being taken to keep the Fukushima deadly situation out of the media, with powerful politicians ignoring the cries of the locals who are in close contact with the impending danger. The United States has chosen not to get involved in the scene, with the FDA claiming that seafood supply into America is not at risk of contamination from the Pacific.

Independent research conducted by Fairwinds Energy Education reveals that the occurrence of thyroid cancer in the regions around Fukushima is 230 times higher since the unfortunate accident in 2011 [7].

“I believe, as do many of my colleagues, that there will be at least 100,000 and as many as one million more cancers in Japan’s future as a result of this meltdown…,” said Arnie Gundersen, Chief engineer at FEE. “[T]he second report received from Japan proves that the incidence of thyroid cancer is approximately 230 times higher than normal in Fukushima Prefecture… So what’s the bottom line? The cancers already occurring in Japan are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sorry to say that the worst is yet to come.

In 2012, in order to give the public a figure to keep in mind, TEPCO estimated that while they are working without any historical guidelines, they are expecting to totally clean up the radioactive contamination in 30-40 years [8].

“No one has ever done what we’re doing, but 30 to 40 years is a target that we can work towards. There are so many people involved that it would be wrong to alter that deadline on a whim. We’ve established a goal and need to show ingenuity to reach it, not take the easy way out.”

7 years down the line, they are still struggling to get a tighter and more effective grip on the situation, and the rest of the world is acting as though this isn’t a serious global issue. Japan is an earthquake-prone country and all it would take is one earthquake to destroy the radiation-filled tanks. Deadly substances would be massively released into the oceans, seas, air, and lands, and it’s impossible to imagine how decontamination would be affected in this scenario.

A call to face the Fukushima situation head-on

Following the unfortunate incident a Fukushima, the FDA of the United States banned food imports from about 14 prefectures in Japan. As of recent times, research has shown that radiation levels In Japanese food have reduced greatly to a point where they no longer poses serious health risks to humans, but you can never be too careful [9].

The solution doesn’t lie in cutting off trade ties with Japan. The United States has been known to offer foreign aids and relief to distressed countries in times of war and disaster. Surprisingly, for the past few years, the country has been consumed with preparations for the upcoming elections and no one is weighing in on the horror going on at Fukushima.

Perhaps, due to Japan’s pace-setting advancement in technology and scientific research, it’s been generally assumed that they can single-handedly contain the problem. Also, the Japanese government may be attempting to cover up the extent of danger lurking around the plant in a bid to foster international relations.

World leaders urgently need to come together to tackle this massive problem that could plunge Japan and a great part of the globe into severe ecological and commercial upheaval.

No matter how the details may be presented, Japan is in trouble.

References:

  1. Fukushima accident“, Britannica.
  2. Eight years after Fukushima’s meltdown, the land is recovering, but public trust is not“, The Washington Post. February, 2019.
  3. A $320 Million Ice Wall Still Can’t Contain Radioactive Water Near Fukushima,” Futurism. March, 2018.
  4. Fukushima’s Other Big Problem: A Million Tons of Radioactive Water“, Wired. April, 2018.
  5. Experts: Fukushima must do more to reduce radioactive water“, phys.org. March, 2018.
  6. Fukushima- The Untouchable Eco-Apocalypse No One is Talking About“, Healthy Holistic Living. February, 2019.
  7. Million cancer deaths from fukushima expected in Japan. New report reveals,” Waking Times. November, 2015.
  8. “Has the 40 year plan to stop the leakage at Fukushima already failed?”, Waking Times. June, 2017.
  9. Radiation levels in food predicted“, MedicalXpress. June, 2017.
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