Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
3/11/13
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (福島第一原
子力発電所事故 Fukushima Dai­ichi ( pronunciation)
genshiryoku hatsudensho jiko) was a series of equipment
failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive
materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant,
following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11
March 2011.[5][6] It is the largest nuclear disaster since the
Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and only the second disaster
(along with Chernobyl) to measure Level 7 on the
International Nuclear Event Scale.[7]
The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors
originally designed by General Electric (GE), and
maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company
(TEPCO). At the time of the quake, Reactor 4 had been
de­fueled while 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for
planned maintenance.[8] Immediately after the earthquake,
the remaining reactors 1­3 shut down automatically, and
emergency generators came online to power electronics
and coolant systems. However the tsunami following the
earthquake quickly flooded the low­lying rooms in which
the emergency generators were housed. The flooded
generators failed, cutting power to the critical pumps that
must continuously circulate coolant water through a
nuclear reactor for several days in order to keep it from
melting down after being shut down. As the pumps
stopped, the reactors overheated due to the normal high
radioactive decay heat produced in the first few days after
nuclear reactor shutdown (smaller amounts of this heat
normally continue to be released for years, but are not
enough to cause fuel melting).
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Image on 16 March 2011 of the four damaged
reactor buildings
Date
11 March 2011
Location
Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan
Coordinates 37°25′17″N 141°1′57″E
Outcome
INES Level 7 (ratings by Japanese
authorities as of 11 April)[1][2]
Injuries
37 with physical injuries, [3]
2 workers taken to hospital with
radiation burns[4]
At this point, only prompt flooding of the reactors with
seawater could have cooled the reactors quickly enough to
prevent meltdown. Salt water flooding was delayed
because it would ruin the costly reactors permanently.
Flooding with seawater was finally commenced only after
the government ordered that seawater be used, and at this
point it was already too late to prevent meltdown.[9]
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As the water boiled away in the reactors and the water
levels in the fuel rod pools dropped, the reactor fuel rods
began to overheat severely, and to melt down. In the hours
and days that followed, Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced
full meltdown.[10][11]
In the intense heat and pressure of the melting reactors, a
reaction between the nuclear fuel metal cladding and the
remaining water surrounding them produced explosive
hydrogen gas. As workers struggled to cool and shut down the
reactors, several hydrogen­air chemical explosions
occurred.[12][13]
External video
24 hours live camera for Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear disaster
(http://www.youtube.com/user/fuku1live) on
YouTube, certified by Tokyo Electric Power
Co. Inc.
Concerns about the repeated small explosions, the atmospheric
venting of radioactive gasses, and the possibility of larger explosions led to a 20 km (12 mi)­radius evacuation
around the plant. During the early days of the accident workers were temporarily evacuated at various times
for radiation safety reasons. At the same time, sea water that had been exposed to the melting rods was
returned to the sea[citation needed] heated and radioactive in large volumes[citation needed] for several months
until recirculating units could be put in place to repeatedly cool and re­use a limited quantity of water for
cooling. The earthquake damage and flooding in the wake of the tsunami hindered external assistance.
Electrical power was slowly restored for some of the reactors, allowing for automated cooling.[14]
Japanese officials initially assessed the accident as Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES)
despite the views of other international agencies that it should be higher. The level was later raised to 5 and
eventually to 7, the maximum scale value.[15][16] The Japanese government and TEPCO have been criticized
in the foreign press for poor communication with the public and improvised cleanup efforts.[17][18][19] On 20
March, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that the plant would be decommissioned once
the crisis was over.
The Japanese government estimates the total amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere was
approximately one­tenth as much as was released during the Chernobyl disaster.[20] Significant amounts of
radioactive material have also been released into ground and ocean waters.[citation needed] Measurements
taken by the Japanese government 30–50 km from the plant showed caesium­137 levels high enough to cause
concern,[21] leading the government to ban the sale of food grown in the area. Tokyo officials temporarily
recommended that tap water should not be used to prepare food for infants.[22][23] In May 2012, TEPCO
reported that at least 900 PBq had been released "into the atmosphere in March last year [2011]" putting the
radiation release from all the reactors taken together as equivalent to a "sixth"(17%) that of Chernobyl.[24][25]
A few of the plant's workers were severely injured or killed by the disaster conditions (drowning, falling
equipment damage etc.) resulting from the earthquake.[citation needed] There were no immediate deaths due to
direct radiation exposures, but at least six workers have exceeded lifetime legal limits for radiation and more
than 300 have received significant radiation doses.[citation needed] Predicted future cancer deaths due to
accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima have ranged from none[26] to
100.[27] On 16 December 2011, Japanese authorities declared the plant to be stable, although it would take
decades to decontaminate the surrounding areas and to decommission the plant altogether.[28] On 5 July 2012,
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the Japanese National Diet appointed The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation
Commission (NAIIC) submitted its inquiry report to the Japanese Diet,[29] while the government appointed
Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power
Company submitted its final report to the Japanese government on 23 July 2012.[30] Tepco admitted for the
first time on October 12, 2012 that it had failed to take stronger measures to prevent disasters for fear of
inviting lawsuits or protests against its nuclear plants.[31][32][33][34]
In 2013, two years after the incident, the World Health Organization indicated that the residents of the area
were exposed to so little radiation that it probably won't be detectable. They indicated that a Japanese baby's
cancer lifetime risk would increase by about 1%.[35]
Contents
1 Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
1.1 Cooling requirements
1.2 Safety history
1.3 After the tsunami
2 Unit 1 Reactor
3 Unit 2 reactor
4 Unit 3 Reactor
5 Units 4, 5 and 6
6 Central fuel storage areas
7 Cascade of failures
7.1 Poor communication and delays
7.2 Regulation
7.3 Accident rating
7.4 Casualties
7.5 Plight of evacuees
7.6 Investigations
7.7 Insurance
8 Radioactivity releases
9 Community reaction
9.1 Reaction in Japan and evacuation measures
9.2 International reaction
10 Reactor stabilization and cleanup operations
11 Energy policy implications
12 Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission
13 Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo
Electric Power Company
14 Criminal investigations
15 See also
16 Notes
17 References
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17 References
18 External links
Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
Main article: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant consists of six light water,
boiling water reactors (BWR) designed by General Electric driving
electrical generators with a combined power of 4.7 gigawatts, making
Fukushima I one of the 25 largest nuclear power stations in the world.
Fukushima I was the first GE designed nuclear plant to be
constructed and run entirely by the Tokyo Electric Power Company
(TEPCO).
Unit 1 is a 439 MWe type (BWR3) reactor constructed in July 1967.
It commenced commercial electrical production on 26 March
1971.[36] It was designed for a peak ground acceleration of 0.18 g
(1.74 m/s2) and a response spectrum based on the 1952 Kern County
earthquake.[37] Units 2 and 3 are both 784 MWe type BWR­4
reactors, Unit 2 commenced operating in July 1974 and Unit 3 in
March 1976. The earthquake design basis for all units ranged from
0.42 g (4.12 m/s2) to 0.46 g (4.52 m/s2).[38][39] All units were
inspected after the 1978 Miyagi earthquake when the ground
acceleration was 0.125 g (1.22 m/s2) for 30 seconds, but no damage
to the critical parts of the reactor was discovered.[37]
Units 1–5 have a Mark 1 type (light bulb torus) containment structure,
Unit 6 has Mark 2 type (over/under) containment structure.[37] From
September 2010, Unit 3 has been partially fuelled by mixed­oxide
(MOX) fuel.[40]
Simplified cross­section sketch of a
typical BWR Mark I containment, as
used in Units 1 to 5. Key: DW, dry
well enclosing reactor pressure vessel;
WW, Torus­shaped all around the
base enclosing steam suppression
pool. Excess steam from the dry well
enters the wetwell water pool via
downcomer pipes; SFP, spent fuel
pool area; RPV, Reactor Pressure
Vessel; SCSW, Secondary Concrete
Shield Wall.
At the time of the accident, the units and central storage facility contained the following numbers of fuel
assemblies:[41]
Location
Unit 1 Unit 2
Reactor Fuel Assemblies 400
Unit 3
Unit 4 Unit 5 Unit 6 Central Storage
548
548
0
548
764
0
514
Spent Fuel Assemblies
292
587
1331
946
876
6375
Fuel
UOx
UOx UO2/MOX UOx
UOx
UOx
UO2/MOX
New Fuel Assemblies[42]
100
48
64
N/A
28
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Cooling requirements
See also: Decay heat – Power reactors in shutdown and Nuclear
reactor safety systems
Power reactors work by splitting atoms, typically uranium, in a chain
reaction. The reactor continues to generate heat after the chain reaction is
stopped because of the radioactive decay of unstable isotopes, fission
products, created by this process. This decay of unstable isotopes, and the
decay heat that results, cannot be stopped.[43][44] Immediately after
shutdown, this decay heat amounts to approximately 6% of full thermal heat
production of the reactor.[43] The decay heat in the reactor core decreases
over several days before reaching cold shutdown levels.[45] Nuclear fuel rods
that have reached cold shutdown temperatures typically require another
several years of water cooling in a spent fuel pool before decay heat
production reduces to the point that they can be safely transferred to dry
storage casks.[46]
To safely remove this decay heat, reactor operators must continue to circulate
Diagrammatic representation
cooling water over fuel rods in the reactor core and spent fuel pond.[43][47] In
of the cooling systems of a
the reactor core, circulation is accomplished by use of high pressure systems
BWR.
that pump water through the reactor pressure vessel and into heat exchangers.
These systems transfer heat to a secondary heat exchanger via the essential
service water system, taking away the heat which is pumped out to the sea or site cooling towers.[48]
To circulate cooling water when the reactor is shut down and not producing electricity, cooling pumps can be
powered by other units on­site, by other units off­site through the grid, or by diesel generators.[47][49] In
addition, boiling water reactors have steam­turbine driven emergency core cooling systems that can be directly
operated by steam still being produced after a reactor shutdown, which can inject water directly into the
reactor.[50] Steam turbines results in less dependence on emergency generators, but steam turbines only
operate so long as the reactor is producing steam. Some electrical power, provided by batteries, is needed to
operate the valves and monitoring systems.
If the water in the Unit 4 spent fuel pool had been heated to boiling temperature, the decay heat has the
capacity to boil off about 70 tonnes of water per day (12 gallons per minute), which puts the requirement for
cooling water in context.[51] On 16 April 2011, TEPCO declared that Reactors 1–4's cooling systems were
beyond repair and would have to be replaced.[52]
The reason that cooling is so essential for a nuclear reactor, is that many of the internal components and fuel
assembly cladding is made from zircaloy. At normal operating temperatures (of approximately 300 degrees
Celsius), zircaloy is inert. However, when heated to above 500 degrees celsius in the presence of steam,[53]
zircaloy undergoes an exothermic reaction where the zircaloy oxidises, and produces free hydrogen gas. The
reaction between the zirconium cladding and the fuel can also lower the melting point of the fuel and thus
speed up a core melt.[54]
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The reactor's emergency diesel generators and DC batteries, crucial components in powering the reactors'
cooling systems in the event of a power loss, were located in the basements of the reactor turbine buildings.
The reactor design plans provided by General Electric specified placing the generators and batteries in that
location, but mid­level engineers working on the construction of the plant were concerned that this made the
back­up power systems vulnerable to flooding. TEPCO elected to strictly follow General Electric's design in
the construction of the reactors.[55]
Safety history
Main article: Safety history of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
After the tsunami
Further information: Timeline of the Fukushima I nuclear accidents and 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and
tsunami
The 9.0 MW Tōhoku earthquake occurred at 14:46 JST on Friday, 11
March 2011 with epicenter near the island of Honshu.[56] It resulted
in maximum ground accelerations of 0.56, 0.52, 0.56 g (5.50, 5.07
and 5.48 m/s2) at Units 2, 3 and 5 respectively, above their designed
tolerances of 0.45, 0.45 and 0.46 g (4.38, 4.41 and 4.52 m/s2), but
values within the design tolerances at Units 1, 4 and 6.[39] The
Fukushima I facility had not initially been designed for a tsunami of
the size that struck the plant,[57][58] nor had the reactors been
modified when later concerns were raised in Japan and by the
IAEA.[59] When the earthquake occurred, the reactors on Units 1, 2,
and 3 were operating, but those on Units 4, 5, and 6 had already been
shut down for periodic inspection.[38][60] Units 1, 2 and 3 underwent
an automatic shutdown (called SCRAM) when the earthquake
struck.[61][62]
Map of Japan's electricity distribution
network, showing incompatible
systems between regions.
When the reactors shut down, the plant stopped generating electricity,
stopping the normal source of power for the plant.[63] TEPCO reported that one of the two connections to off­
site power for Reactors 1–3 also failed[63] so 13 on­site emergency diesel generators began powering the
plant's cooling and control systems.[64] There are two emergency diesel generators for each of the Units 1–5
and three for Unit 6.[65]
The earthquake was followed by a 13–15 m (43–49 ft) maximum height tsunami arriving approximately 50
minutes later which topped the plant's 5.7 m (19 ft) seawall,[66][67][68] flooding the basement of the Turbine
Buildings and disabling the emergency diesel generators[69][70] located there[65] at approximately
15:41.[63][71] At this point, TEPCO notified authorities, as required by law, of a "First level emergency".[61]
The Fukushima II plant, which was also struck by the tsunami, incorporated design changes which improved
its resistance to flooding and it sustained less damage. Generators and related electrical distribution equipment
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were located in the watertight reactor building, so that power from the grid was being used by midnight.[72]
Seawater pumps for cooling were given protection from flooding, and although 3 of 4 failed in the tsunami,
they were able to be restored to operation.[73]
In the late 1990s, three additional backup generators for reactors Nos. 2 and 4 were placed in new buildings
located higher on the hillside, to comply with new regulatory requirements. All six reactors were given access
to these generators, but the switching stations that sent power from these backup generators to the reactors'
cooling systems for Units 1 through 5 were still in the poorly protected turbine buildings. All three of the
generators added in the late 1990s were operational after the tsunami. If the switching stations had been
moved to inside the reactor buildings or to other flood­proof locations, power would have been provided by
these generators to the reactors' cooling systems.[74]
After the diesel generators located in the turbine buildings failed, emergency power for control systems was
supplied by batteries that were designed to last about eight hours.[75] Further batteries and mobile generators
were dispatched to the site, delayed by poor road conditions with the first not arriving until 21:00 JST 11
March,[64][76] almost six hours after the tsunami struck.
Attempts to connect portable generating equipment to power water pumps were eventually discontinued after
numerous attempts, as the connection point in the Turbine Hall basement was flooded and because of
difficulties finding suitable cables.[69] TEPCO switched its efforts to installing new lines from the grid to the
cooling systems.[77] One plant generator at Unit 6 was restored to operation on 17 March, and external power
returned to Units 5 and 6, on 20 March, allowing cooling equipment to be restarted.[78]
Unit 1 Reactor
Main article: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (Unit 1 Reactor)
Unit 2 reactor
Main article: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (Unit 2 Reactor)
Unit 3 Reactor
Main article: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (Unit 3 Reactor)
Units 4, 5 and 6
Main article: Fukushima Daiichi units 4, 5 and 6
When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster began on 11 March 2011, reactor unit 4 was shut down and all
fuel rods had been transferred to the spent fuel pool on an upper floor of the reactor building. On 15 March,
an explosion damaged the fourth floor rooftop area of the unit 4 reactor. Japan's nuclear safety agency NISA
reported two large holes in a wall of the outer building of unit 4 after the explosion. It was reported that water
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in the spent fuel pool might be boiling. Radiation inside the unit 4 control room prevented workers from
staying there permanently. Visual inspection of the spent fuel pool of reactor 4 on 30 April showed that there
was no significant visible damage to the fuel rods in the pool. A radiochemical examination of the water from
the pond confirms that little of the fuel in the pond has been damaged.[79]
Reactors 5 and 6 were also not operating when the earthquake struck although, unlike reactor 4, they were
still fueled. The reactors have been closely monitored, as cooling processes were not functioning
well.[citation needed]
In October 2012, the former Japanese Ambassador to both Switzerland and Senegal Mitsuhei Murata said that
ground under Fukushima Unit 4 is sinking, and the structure may collapse.[80][81]
Central fuel storage areas
Used fuel assemblies taken from reactors are initially stored for at least 18 months in the pools adjacent to their
reactors. They can then be transferred to the central fuel storage pond.[3] This contains 6375 fuel assemblies
and was reported "secured" with a temperature of 55 °C. After further cooling, fuel can be transferred to dry
cask storage, which has shown no signs of abnormalities.[82] On 21 March, temperatures in the fuel pond had
risen slightly, to 61 °C and water was sprayed over the pool.[3] Power was restored to cooling systems on 24
March and by 28 March temperatures were reported down to 35 °C.[83]
Cascade of failures
Government agencies and Tepco were thoroughly unprepared for the "cascading nuclear disaster".[84] The
tsunami that "began the nuclear disaster could and should have been anticipated and that ambiguity about the
roles of public and private institutions in such a crisis was a factor in the poor response at Fukushima".[84] In
March 2012, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that the government shared the blame for the Fukushima
disaster, saying that officials had been blinded by a false belief in the country's "technological infallibility",
and were taken in by a "safety myth". Noda said "Everybody must share the pain of responsibility".[85]
According to Naoto Kan, Japan's former prime minister, the country was totally unprepared for the
Fukushima disaster, and the crippled Fukushima plant should not have been built so close to the ocean on a
tsunami­prone coast.[86] Kan has acknowledged flaws in authorities' handling of the crisis, including poor
communication and coordination between nuclear regulators, utility officials and the government. He said the
disaster "laid bare a host of an even bigger man­made vulnerabilities in Japan's nuclear industry and
regulation, from inadequate safety guidelines to crisis management, all of which he said need to be
overhauled".[86]
A national program to develop robots for use in nuclear emergencies was terminated in midstream because it
"smacked too much of underlying danger". Japan, supposedly a leader in robotics, had none to send in to
Fukushima when the crisis began. Similarly, Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission said in its safety guidelines
for light­water nuclear facilities that "the potential for extended loss of power need not be considered." But
just such an extended loss of power contributed to the Fukushima meltdowns.[87]
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Physicist and environmentalist Amory Lovins has said: Japan’s "rigid bureaucratic structures, reluctance to
send bad news upwards, need to save face, weak development of policy alternatives, eagerness to preserve
nuclear power’s public acceptance, and politically fragile government, along with TEPCO’s very hierarchical
management culture, also contributed to the way the accident unfolded. Moreover, the information Japanese
people receive about nuclear energy and its alternatives has long been tightly controlled by both TEPCO and
the government".[88]
At a rally promoting the abandonment of Japan's nuclear program, led by Nobel­winning novelist Kenzburo
Oe, pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto, and visual artist Yoshitomo Nara, protesters express their anger over a report
that blames the disaster on Japan's culture of "reflexive obedience" leaving no individual responsible.[89]
Poor communication and delays
The Japanese government has admitted it did not keep records of key meetings during the Fukushima nuclear
crisis, even though such detailed notes are considered a key component of disaster management.[90] Data
from SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) were sent by email to
the Fukushima prefecture government, but not shared with others. Data from five crucial days, from 12 March
2011 11:54 p.m. to 16 March 9 a.m – holding vital information for evacuation and health advisories – were in
emails from NISA to Fukushima that stayed unread and were deleted afterwards. All was revealed more than
a year later, on 21 March 2012. The data were not used, because the disaster countermeasure office regarded
the data as "useless because the predicted amount of released radiation is unrealistic." [91]
Japan's response to the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi was flawed by "poor communication and delays in
releasing data on dangerous radiation leaks at the facility", a government­appointed investigative panel has
found. The Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo
Electric Power Company was led by University of Tokyo Professor Yotaro Hatamura. The panel's report
attaches blame to Japan's central government as well as Tokyo Electric Power Co., "depicting a scene of
harried officials incapable of making decisions to stem radiation leaks as the situation at the coastal plant
worsened in the days and weeks following the disaster".[92] The 507­page interim report, which resulted from
hundreds of interviews with utility workers and government officials, said poor planning also worsened the
disaster response, noting that authorities had "grossly underestimated tsunami risks" that followed the
magnitude 9.0 earthquake. The 40­foot­high tsunami that struck the plant was twice as tall as the highest wave
predicted by officials, and the erroneous assumption that the plant's cooling system continued to work after the
tsunami struck worsened the disaster. "Plant workers had no clear instructions on how to respond to such a
disaster, causing miscommunication, especially when the disaster destroyed backup generators. Ultimately,
the series of failures led to the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl".[92]
In February 2012, an independent investigation into the accident by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation
described how Japan's response was hindered at times by a loss of trust between the major actors: Prime
Minister Naoto Kan, the Tokyo headquarters of TEPCO, and the manager at the stricken plant. The report
said that these conflicts "produced confused flows of sometimes contradictory information in the early days of
the crisis".[93][94] According to the report, Kan delayed the cooling of the reactors by questioning the use of
seawater instead of fresh water. Kan further hindered the response to the crisis by micromanaging disaster
management efforts and appointing his own nominees to a small, closed, decision­making staff. The report
stated that the Japanese government was also slow to accept assistance from U.S. nuclear experts.[95]
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A 2012 report in The Economist said: "The reactors at Fukushima were of an old design. The risks they faced
had not been well analysed. The operating company was poorly regulated and did not know what was going
on. The operators made mistakes. The representatives of the safety inspectorate fled. Some of the equipment
failed. The establishment repeatedly played down the risks and suppressed information about the movement
of the radioactive plume, so some people were evacuated from more lightly to more heavily contaminated
places".[96]
From 17 to 19 March 2011, US military aircraft, on behalf of the US Department of Energy, measured the
radiation within a 45­km radius of the reactors. The data recorded 125 microsieverts per hour of radiation as
far as 25 km (15.5 mi) northwest of the plant. The US provided the data, illustrated on detailed maps, to the
Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) on 18 March and to the Ministry of Education,
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) two days later. Japanese government officials did not act
on the information provided by the maps.[97]
The data were not forwarded to the prime minister's office or the Nuclear Safety Commission, and
subsequently not used to direct the evacuation of the people living around the plant. Because a substantial
portion of radioactive materials released from the plant went northwest and fell to the ground, and some
residents were "evacuated" into this direction, these people could have avoided unnecessary exposure to
radiation if the data had been published directly. According to Tetsuya Yamamoto, chief nuclear safety officer
of the Nuclear Safety Agency, "It was very regrettable that we didn't share and utilize the information." But
an official of the Science and Technology Policy Bureau of the technology ministry, Itaru Watanabe, said it
was not Japan, but more appropriate for the United States to release the data.[98]
After the Americans published their map on 23 March, Japan felt itself forced to publish, and the fallout maps
– compiled from ground measurements and SPEEDI computer simulation/predictions – were released the
same day. On 19 June 2012 science minister Hirofumi Hirano defended the decision not to publish, with the
remark, that his "job was only to measure radiation levels on land", and that the government would study
whether disclosure of the maps could have helped in the evacuation efforts.[99]
Regulation
Regulatory capture may have contributed to the cascade of failures which were revealed after the tsunami
receded. Regulatory capture may have also contributed to the current situation. Critics argue that the
government shares blame with regulatory agency for not heeding warnings, for not ensuring the independence
of the nuclear industry's oversight while encouraging the expansion of nuclear energy domestically and
internationally.[100] World media have argued that the Japanese nuclear regulatory system tends to side with
and promote the nuclear industry because of amakudari (roughly translated as descent from heaven), in which
senior regulators accept high paying jobs at the companies they once oversaw. To protect their potential future
position in the industry, regulators seek to avoid taking positions that upset or embarrass the utilities they
regulate. TEPCO's position as the largest electrical utility in Japan led it to be the most desirable position for
retiring regulators, typically the "most senior officials went to work at Tepco, while those of lower ranks
ended up at smaller utilities" according to the New York Times.[101]
In August 2011, several top energy officials were fired by the Japanese government; affected positions
included the Vice­minister for Economy, Trade and Industry; the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety
Agency, and the head of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.[102]
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Accident rating
Main article: Accident rating of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
The severity of the nuclear accident is provisionally[103] rated 7 on
the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). This scale runs from 0,
indicating an abnormal situation with no safety consequences, to 7,
indicating an accident causing widespread contamination with serious
health and environmental effects. Prior to Fukushima, the Chernobyl
disaster was the only level 7 accident on record, while the Three Mile
Island accident was a level 5 accident.
Comparison of radiation levels for
different nuclear events.
The 2012 analysis of the amount of intermediate and long lived
radioactivity released from all the Fukushima Daiichi reactors taken together, is about 10­20% of that released
from the Chernobyl disaster, when comparing the two disasters together.[104][105] The total release from the
entire Fukushima disaster, in terms of Cesium­137(which along with strontium­90 are the two primary
substances preventing Chernobyl being inhabited,[106]) is approximately 1.5 × 1016 becquerels (Bq) of
Cesium­137 released,[107] in contrast the amount released from Chernobyl, which was approximately 8.5 ×
1016 Bq of Cesium­137.[108] This is the activity that would be produced by 24 kilograms of Cesium­137.[106]
Another notable difference between the two accidents is that, unlike Chernobyl, all the Japanese reactors were
situated within concrete containment vessels, which contributed to the Japanese accident releasing vastly less
strontium­90, americium­241 and plutonium, which were amongst the radioisotopes released at
Chernobyl.[104][108]
In terms of the most biologically hazardous short lived radioisotope iodine­131, 5 × 1017 Bq of Iodine 131
were released from the Fukushima disaster.[107] In comparison to the release at Chernobyl, where
approximately 17.6 × 1017 Bq of iodine­131 was released.[108] As this substances decays away to become a
stable nuclei rapidly, due to its short half life of 8.02 days. There is only a short time available for human
exposure to occur, after ten half lifes ­ 80.2 days for Iodine­131 ­ 99.9% of it has decayed to a stable
state.[109]
Casualties
Main article: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster casualties
There were no casualties caused by radiation exposure, approximately 25,000 died due to the earthquake and
tsunami, with an analysis of the quantity of radiation released, and the number of people exposed, the range is
0 to a hundred cancer deaths in the coming decades.[110]
Plight of evacuees
A survey by the Iitate, Fukushima local government obtained responses from approximately 1,743 people
who have evacuated from the village, which lies within the emergency evacuation zone around the crippled
Fukushima Daiichi Plant. It shows that many residents are experiencing growing frustration and instability
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due to the nuclear crisis and an inability to return to the lives they were living before the disaster. Sixty percent
of respondents stated that their health and the health of their families had deteriorated after evacuating, while
39.9% reported feeling more irritated compared to before the disaster.[111]
Summarizing all responses to questions related to evacuees' current family status, one­third of all
surveyed families live apart from their children, while 50.1% live away from other family
members (including elderly parents) with whom they lived before the disaster. The survey also
showed that 34.7% of the evacuees have suffered salary cuts of 50% or more since the outbreak
of the nuclear disaster. A total of 36.8% reported a lack of sleep, while 17.9% reported smoking
or drinking more than before they evacuated.[111]
Experts on the ground in Japan agree that Mental health challenges are the most significant issue. Stress, such
as that caused by dislocation, uncertainty and concern about unseen toxicants, often manifests in physical
ailments, such as heart disease. So even if radiation risks are low, people are still concerned and worried.
Behavioral changes can follow, including poor dietary choices, lack of exercise and sleep deprivation, all of
which can have long­term negative health consequences. People who lost their homes, villages and family
members, and even just those who survived the quake, will likely continue to face mental health challenges
and the physical ailments that come with stress. Much of the damage was really the psychological stress of not
knowing and of being relocated, according to U.C. Berkeley's McKone.[112]
Investigations
Main article: Investigations into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
On 7 June 2011 a government­appointed committee of 10 people
convened to investigate the accident. The panel was headed by
Yotaro Hatamura, professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, and
included Yukio Takasu, Michio Furukawa, the mayor of Kawamata,
Fukushima, and author Kunio Yanagida, considered an expert on
crisis management.[113][114]
Insurance
According to Munich Re, a major reinsurer, the private insurance
industry will not be significantly affected by the accidents at the
Fukushima nuclear power plant.[115] Swiss Re similarly states
"Coverage for nuclear facilities in Japan excludes earthquake shock,
fire following earthquake and tsunami, for both physical damage and
liability. Swiss Re believes that the incident at the Fukushima nuclear
power plant is unlikely to result in a significant direct loss for the
property & casualty insurance industry."[116]
Radioactivity releases
Position of Japanese nuclear power
plants in relation to the epicenter of
the megathrust earthquake and the
spreading tsunami. Onagawa Nuclear
Power Plant and Fukushima II both
shut down safely, while the further
afield Fukushima I power plant's sea
wall was overcome by the tsunami
which precipitated the disaster.
Main article: Radiation effects from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
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disaster
Radioactive material has been released from the Fukushima
containment vessels as the result of deliberate venting to reduce
gaseous pressure, deliberate discharge of coolant water into the sea,
and accidental or uncontrolled events. Concerns about the possibility
of a large scale release of radioactivity resulted in 20 km exclusion
zone being set up around the power plant and people within the 20–
30 km zone being advised to stay indoors. Later, the UK, France and
some other countries told their nationals to consider leaving Tokyo, in
response to fears of spreading radioactive contamination.[117] The
Fukushima accident has led to trace amounts of radiation, including
iodine­131, caesium­134 and caesium­137, being observed around
the world (New York State, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California,
Montreal, and Austria).[118][119][120] Large amounts of radioactive
isotopes have also been released into the Pacific Ocean.
A monitoring system designed to detect nuclear explosions, operated
by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear­Test­
Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), tracked the dispersion of
radioactivity from the crippled nuclear reactor on a global scale.
Radioactive isotopes originating from Fukushima were picked up by
over 40 CTBTO radionuclide monitoring stations. The CTBTO
makes its monitoring data and analysis results available to all its 183
Member States. Around 1,200 scientific and academic institutions in
120 countries currently make use of this offer.[121]
Map of contaminated areas around
the plant (22 March – 3 April).
Fukushima dose rate comparison to
other incidents and standards, with
graph of recorded radiation levels and
specific accident events from 11 to
30 March.
On 12 March, radioactive releases first reached a CTBTO monitoring station in Takasaki, Japan, around
200 km away from the troubled power plant. The dispersion of the radioactive isotopes could then be
followed to eastern Russia on 14 March and to the west coast of the United States two days later. By day 15,
traces of radioactivity were detectable all across the northern hemisphere. Within one month, radioactive
particles were also picked up by CTBTO stations in the southern hemisphere, located for example in
Australia, Fiji, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.[122][123]
According to one expert, the release of radioactivity is about one­tenth that from the Chernobyl disaster and
the contaminated area is also about one­tenth that of Chernobyl.[20] A March 2012 report by the Ministry of
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology agreed that radioactive debris from the damaged reactors
had dispersed about one­eighth to one­tenth of the distance as those in the Chernobyl disaster.[124][125] But
according to a study conducted by Norwegian Institute for Air Research, the release of caesium­137 was
about 40 percent of the total from Chernobyl.[126][127][128]
In March 2011, Japanese officials announced that "radioactive iodine­131 exceeding safety limits for infants
had been detected at 18 water­purification plants in Tokyo and five other prefectures".[129] As of July 2011,
the Japanese government has been unable to control the spread of radioactive material into the nation's food.
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Radioactive material has been detected in a range of produce, including spinach, tea leaves, milk, fish and
beef, up to 200 miles from the nuclear plant. Inside the 12­mile evacuation zone around the plant, all farming
has been abandoned.[130][131]
As of August 2011, the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking low levels of radiation and areas
surrounding it could remain uninhabitable for decades due to high radiation. It could take "more than 20 years
before residents could safely return to areas with current radiation readings of 200 millisieverts per year, and a
decade for areas at 100 millisieverts per year".[132]
On 24 August 2011, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) of Japan published the results of the recalculation
of the total amount of radioactive materials released into the air during the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear Power Station. The total amounts released between 11 March and 5 April were revised downwards
to 1.3 × 1017 Bq for iodine­131 and 1.1 × 1016 Bq for caesium­137, which is about 11% of Chernobyl
emissions. Earlier estimations were 1.5 × 1017 Bq and 1.2 × 1016 Bq.[133][134]
On 8 September 2011 a group of Japanese scientists working for the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the
Kyoto University and other institutes, published the results of a recalculation of the total amount of radioactive
material released into the ocean: between late March through April they found a total of 15,000 TBq for the
combined amount of iodine­131 and caesium­137. This was more than triple the figure of 4,720 TBq
estimated by the plant­owner. TEPCO made only a calculation about the releases from the plant in April and
May into the sea. The new calculations were needed because a large portion of the airborne radioactive
substances would enter the seawater when it came down as rain.[135]
In the first half of September 2011 the amount of radioactive substances released from the plant was about
200 million becquerels per hour, according to TEPCO, this was approximately one four­millionth of the level
of the initial stages of the accident in March.[136] Traces of iodine­131 are still detected in several Japanese
prefectures in the months of November[137] and December 2011.[138]
According to a report published in October 2011 by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and
Nuclear Safety, between 21 March and mid­July around 2.7 × 1016 Bq of caesium­137 entered the ocean,
about 82 percent having flowed into the sea before 8 April. This emission of radioactivity into the sea
represents the most important individual emissions of artificial radioactivity into the sea ever observed. The
Fukushima coast has one of the world's strongest currents and this transported the contaminated waters far
into the Pacific Ocean, causing a high dispersion of the radioactive elements. The results of measurements of
both the seawater and the coastal sediments lead to suppose that the consequences of the accident, for what
concerns radioactivity, will be minor for marine life as of late 2011 (weak concentration of radioactivity in the
water and limited accumulation in sediments). On the other hand, significant pollution of sea water along the
coast near the nuclear plant might persist, because of the continuing arrival of radioactive material transported
towards the sea by surface water running over contaminated soil. Further, some coastal areas might have less
favorable dilution or sedimentation characteristics than those observed so far. Finally, the possible presence of
other persistent radioactive substances, such as strontium­90 or plutonium, has not been sufficiently studied.
Recent measurements show persistent contamination of some marine species (mostly fish) caught along the
coast of Fukushima district. Organisms that filter water and fish at the top of the food chain are, over time, the
most sensitive to caesium pollution. It is thus justified to maintain surveillance of marine life that is fished in
the coastal waters off Fukushima.[139]
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As of March 2012, there had been no reported cases of Fukushima residents suffering ailments related to
radiation exposure. Experts cautioned that insufficient data was available so far to make conclusions on the
impact on residents' health. Nevertheless, Michiaki Kai, professor of radiation protection at Oita University of
Nursing and Health Sciences, stated, "If the current radiation dose estimates are correct, (cancer­related
deaths) likely won't increase."[140]
On 24 May 2012, TEPCO released their estimate of radiation releases due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear
Disaster. An estimated 538,100 terabecquerels (TBq) of iodine­131, caesium­134 and caesium­137 was
released. 520,000 TBq was released into the atmosphere between 12–31 March 2011 and 18,100 TBq into
the ocean from 26 March – 30 September 2011. A total of 511,000 TBq of iodine­131 was released into both
the atmosphere and the ocean, 13,500 TBq of caesium­134 and 13,600 TBq of caesium­137.[141]
In May 2012, TEPCO reported that at least 900 PBq had been released "into the atmosphere in March last
year [2011] alone".[25][24] In August 2012, researchers found that 10,000 people living near the plant at the
time of the accident had been exposed to well less than 1 millisievert of radiation, far less than Chernobyl
residents.[142]
In October 2012 an article in Science­magazine concluded, that at that time radiation was still leaking from the
reactor­site into the ocean. Fishing in the waters around the site was still prohibited, and the levels of
radioactive 134Cs and 137Cs in the fish caught were not lower compared with the levels found after the
disaster. [143] On 26 October 2012 TEPCO admitted that it could not exclude radiation emissions into the
ocean, although the radiation levels were stabilised. Undetected leaks into the ocean from the reactors, could
not be ruled out, because their basements remain flooded with cooling water, and the 2,400­foot­long steel
and concrete wall between the site’s reactors and the ocean, that should reach 100 feet underground, was still
under construction, and would not be finished before mid­2014. Around August 2012 two greenling were
caught close to the Fukushima shore, they contained more than 25,000 becquerels of cesium­137 per kilogram
of fish, the highest cesium levels found in fish since the disaster and 250 times the government’s safety
limit.[144][145]
A report by the World Health Organization(WHO) published in February 2013 anticipated that there would
be no noticeable increases in cancer rates for the overall population, but somewhat elevated rates for particular
sub­groups. For example infants of Namie Town and Iitate Village were estimated to have a 6% relative
increase in female breast cancer risk and a 7% relative increase in male leukemia risk. A third of emergency
workers involved in the accident would have increased cancer risks.[146]
However the WHO expressly stated that the values stated in its report were expressed as relative increases,
and not representative of the absolute increase in developing cancer:[147]
These percentages represent estimated relative increases over the baseline rates and are not
absolute risks for developing such cancers. Due to the low baseline rates of thyroid cancer, even
a large relative increase represents a small absolute increase in risks. For example, the baseline
lifetime risk of thyroid cancer for females is just (0.75%)three­quarters of one percent and the
additional lifetime risk estimated in this assessment for a female infant exposed in the most
affected location is (0.5%)one­half of one percent.
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In 2013, two years after the incident, the World Health Organization indicated that the residents of the area
were exposed to so little radiation that it probably won't be detectable. They indicated that a Japanese baby's
cancer lifetime risk would increase by about 1%.[148]
Community reaction
Reaction in Japan and evacuation measures
Main article: Japanese reaction to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
A nuclear emergency was declared by the government of Japan on 11
March 2011. The Japanese government initially set in place a 4 step
evacuation process; a prohibited access area out to 3 km from the
plant, an on alert area 3–20 km from the plant, and an evacuation
prepared area 20–30 km from the plant. These evacuation areas were
based on radioactivity levels above 20 mSv. On day one of the
disaster nearly 134,000 people who lived between 3–20 km from the
plant were evacuated. 4 days later an additional 354,000 who lived
between 20–30 km from the plant were evacuated. Later Prime
Minister Naoto Kan issued instructions that people within a 20 km
(12 mi) zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant must leave,
and urged that those living between 20 km and 30 km from the site to
stay indoors.[149][150] The latter groups were also urged to evacuate
on 25 March.[151]
Japan towns, villages, and cities in
and around the Daiichi nuclear plant
exclusion zone. The 20 km and
30 km areas had evacuation and
sheltering orders, and additional
administrative districts that had an
evacuation order are highlighted.
Japanese authorities have admitted that lax standards and poor
oversight contributed to the nuclear disaster.[152] They have come
under fire for their handling of the emergency, and have engaged in a
pattern of withholding damaging information and denying facts of the
accident.[152][153][154][155] Authorities apparently wanted to "limit
the size of costly and disruptive evacuations in land­scarce Japan and
to avoid public questioning of the politically powerful nuclear
industry". There has been public anger about an "official campaign to play down the scope of the accident
and the potential health risks".[154][155] The accident is the second biggest nuclear accident after the
Chernobyl disaster, but more complex as all reactors are involved.[156]
The second largest nuclear accident in the history of the world has and will continue to have an impact on the
people of Japan. In many cases, the Japanese government's reaction has been judged to be less than adequate
by many in Japan, especially those directly affected who were living in the region surrounding the Fukushima
plant. New decontamination equipment was slow to be made available and then slow to be utilized. As late as
June 2011, even rain fall continue to cause fear and uncertainty fear among the populace of eastern Japan
because of its possibility of bringing more radiation down to the ground level that had collected in the
atmosphere. "Rain raises fear of more contamination at Fukushima"
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(http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/06/03/japan.nuclear.water/index.html?iref=allsearch) . 3
November 2012. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/06/03/japan.nuclear.water/index.html?
iref=allsearch.
To assuage fears, the government enacted an order to decontaminate over a hundred areas with a level
contamination greater than or equivalent to one millisievert of radiation, which is the recommended level of
radiation for which decontamination is needed. The government also sought address the lack education on the
effects of radiation and the extent to which the average person was exposed.[157]
Once a proponent of building more reactors, Prime Minister Naoto Kan took an increasingly anti­nuclear
stance in the months following the Fukushima disaster. In May, he ordered the aging Hamaoka Nuclear
Power Plant be closed over earthquake and tsunami fears, and said he would freeze plans to build new
reactors. In July 2011, Mr. Kan 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".[158]
On 22 August 2011 a spokesman of the Japanese Government mentioned the possibility, that some areas of
the evacuation zone around the nuclear plant for "could stay for some decades a forbidden zone". According
to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun the Japanese government was planning to buy some properties
from civilians to store radioactive waste and materials that had become radioactive after the
accidents.[159][160] Chiaki Takahashi, Japan's foreign minister, criticized foreign medias reports over
accidents in Fukushima Daichii as overdone and excessive. But Takahashi added that "he can understand the
concerns of foreign countries over recent developments at the nuclear plant, including the radioactive
contamination of seawater".[161]
Due to frustration with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government "providing
differing, confusing, and at times contradictory, information on critical health issues"[162] a citizen's group
called "Safecast" has been recording detailed radiation level data in Japan.[163] The Japanese government
"does not consider non­government readings to be authentic". The group uses off­the­shelf Geiger counter
equipment. It is important to note that a simple Geiger counter is a contamination meter and not a dose rate
meter, as the response differs so much between different radioisotopes it is not possible to use a simple GM
tube for dose rate measurements when more than one radioisotope is present. A thin metal shield is needed
around a GM tube to provide energy compensation to enable it to be used for dose rate measurements. For
measurements of dose rates due to gamma emitters either an ionization chamber, a gamma spectrometer or an
energy compensated GM tube should be used. Members of the Air Monitoring station facility at the
Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Berkeley, California have been doing extensive tests
of environmental samples in Northern California.[164]
International reaction
Main article: International reaction to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
The international reaction to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has been diverse and widespread.
Many inter­governmental agencies are responding to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, often on an ad
hoc basis. Responders include International Atomic Energy Agency, World Meteorological Organization and
the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which has
radiation detection equipment deployed around the world.[165]
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Many countries have advised their nationals to leave Tokyo, citing the risk associated with the nuclear plants'
ongoing accident. International experts have said that a workforce in the hundreds or even thousands would
take years or decades to clean up the area.[166] Stock prices of many energy companies reliant on nuclear
sources have dropped.
There has been a significant re­evaluation of existing nuclear power programs in many countries. One poll
found that what had been growing acceptance of nuclear power in the United States was eroded sharply
following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, with 43% approving and 50% disapproving of building new
plants.[167] Worldwide, a study by UBS, reported on 12 April 2011, suggests that around 30 nuclear plants
may be closed as a result of Fukushima, with those located in seismic zones or close to national boundaries
being the most likely to shut. Events at Fukushima "cast doubt on the idea that even an advanced economy
can master nuclear safety".[168] Increased anti­nuclear sentiment has been evident in India, Italy, Germany,
Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United States.
Much of the help and decontamination work could be done by AREVA France with boron acid, shutting
down one reactor, protection suits, measurement equipment, generators, filters; by more than 1000 men with
own first­hand help and information offered.[169]
Decontaminated water[170]
Week from Tons
Plant­
capacity utilisation
29 June
6380
76%
6 July
6130
73%
13 July
4510
54%
20 July
4870
58%
27 July
6190
74%
3 August
6720
80%
10 August 7420
88%
Reactor stabilization and cleanup operations
Main article: Fukushima disaster cleanup
The multiple nuclear reactor units involved in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster were close to one
another and this proximity triggered the parallel, chain­reaction accidents that led to hydrogen explosions
blowing the roofs off reactor buildings and water draining from open­air spent fuel pools.[84] This situation
was potentially more dangerous than the loss of reactor cooling itself. Because of the proximity of the
reactors, plant workers were put in the position of trying to cope simultaneously with core meltdowns at three
reactors and exposed fuel pools at three units.[84]
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On 21 December 2011, the Japanese government released a roadmap for the cleanup activities, which
predicted that the full cleanup will take 40 years.[171] On 10 April 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Company
(TEPCO) began using remote­controlled, unmanned heavy equipment to remove debris from around nuclear
reactors 1–4. TEPCO announced on 17 April that it expected to have the automated cooling systems restored
in the damaged reactors in about three months and have the reactors put into cold shutdown status in six
months. TEPCO planned to largely empty the basements of the turbine and reactor buildings of units 1–3 of
contaminated water by the end of 2011 to allow workers access to the crucial basement areas of both the
turbine and reactor buildings.[172]
When the monsoon season began in June 2011, a light fabric cover was used to protect the damaged reactor
buildings from storms and heavy rainfall. On 1 August 2011, TEPCO said that very high radiation levels
were found outside the building of reactor 1 and 2 from an exhaust­pipe. On 16 August, TEPCO announced
the installation of devices in the spent fuel pools of reactor 2, 3 and 4, which used special membranes and
electricity to desalinate the water. These pools were cooled with seawater for some time, and TEPCO feared
the salt would corrode stainless steel pipes and the pool walls. Burying the reactors in sand and concrete is
considered to be a last resort.
In October 2011, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government will spend at least 1 trillion
yen ($13 billion) to clean up vast areas contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan
"faces the prospect of removing and disposing 29 million cubic meters of soil from a sprawling area in
Fukushima, located 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, and four nearby prefectures".[173]
Energy policy implications
See also: Nuclear power debate and Renewable energy
commercialization
By March 2012, one year after the disaster, all but two of Japan's
nuclear reactors had been shut down; some were damaged by the
quake and tsunami. Authority to restart the others after scheduled
maintenance throughout the year was given to local governments, and
in all cases local opposition prevented restarting. The loss of 30% of
the country's generating capacity has led to much greater reliance on
liquified natural gas and coal.[174] Unusual conservation measures
have also been necessary. In the immediate aftermath, nine
prefectures served by TEPCO suffered power rationing.[175] The
government asked major companies to reduce power consumption by
15%, and some shifted their weekends to weekdays to even out
power demand.[176]
Anti­nuclear power plant rally on 19
September 2011 at the Meiji Shrine
complex in Tokyo.
If Japan were to convert to a gas and oil energy economy, going completely nuclear­free, the repercussions
would cost the people and government tens of billions of dollars in annual fees. Oil and gas would only
suffice as a temporary fix to help with the summer months, and could not be the long term answer. At this
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time the cost of oil and gas has increased exponentially with the war in Iraq still in its peak moments and the
US Government asking to stop trade with the Middle East, which would thrust Japan into an economic bind if
they implemented this energy policy.[177]
According to The Japan Times, the Fukushima nuclear disaster changed the national debate over energy
policy almost overnight. "By shattering the government's long­pitched safety myth about nuclear power, the
crisis dramatically raised public awareness about energy use and sparked strong anti­nuclear sentiment". A
June 2011 Asahi Shimbun poll of 1,980 respondents found that 74% answered "yes" to whether Japan should
gradually decommission all 54 reactors and become nuclear free.[178]
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. It also omits a section on nuclear power expansion that was in last year's policy
review.[179]
According to Reuters, due to the fact that the closest nuclear power plant to the epicenter of the earthquake
and tsunami­Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, successfully withstood the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and
tsunami, it may now serve as a "trump card" for the nuclear lobby, providing evidence that it is possible for a
correctly designed nuclear facility to withstand one of most powerful of megathrust earthquakes and tsunamis
ever recorded and to shut down safely, as designed, without incident.[180]
Environmental activists at a 2011 United Nations meeting in Bangkok used the Fukushima disaster as an
example to promote accelerated use of renewable energy.[181]
Environmentalists for nuclear energy however do not agree, including NASA Climate scientist James Hansen
who has described the idea of a modern world run on 100% renewable energy as equivalent to: believing in
the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.[182]
Many long term anti­nuclear advocates following the accident have begun calling for a phase out of nuclear
power in Japan, including Amory Lovins who has said: "Japan is poor in fuels, but is the richest of all major
industrial countries in renewable energy that can meet the entire long­term energy needs of an energy­efficient
Japan, at lower cost and risk than current plans. Japanese industry can do it faster than anyone — if Japanese
policymakers acknowledge and allow it".[88] Another anti­nuclear advocate, Benjamin K. Sovacool has said
that, with the benefit of hindsight, the Fukushima disaster was entirely avoidable in that Japan could have
chosen to exploit the country's extensive renewable energy base. Japan has a total of "324 GW of achievable
potential in the form of onshore and offshore wind turbines (222 GW), geothermal power plants (70 GW),
additional hydroelectric capacity (26.5 GW), solar energy (4.8 GW) and agricultural residue (1.1 GW)."[183]
However many energy analysts do not agree, Vaclav Smil a renewable energy analyst has said that that
depending on Wind and Solar has major drawbacks. As the energy they provide is intermittent, there is
insufficient storage capacity, it is still too costly, and it takes too long to scale up to become a meaningful
substitute for coal. He went on to note that there is also a growing community opposition to the industrialized
footprint of solar installations and wind farms.[182][184]
It has been estimated that if Japan had never adopted nuclear power, accidents and pollution from coal or gas
plants would have caused more lost years of life.[185]
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One result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster could be renewed public support for the
commercialization of renewable energy technologies.[186] In August 2011, the Japanese Government passed
a bill to subsidize electricity from renewable energy sources. The legislation will become effective on 1 July
2012, and require utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable sources including solar power, wind
power and geothermal energy at above­market rates.[187]
In September 2011, Mycle Schneider said that the Fukushima disaster can be understood as a unique chance
"to get it right" on energy policy. "Germany – with its nuclear phase­out decision based on a highly
successful renewable energy program – and Japan – having suffered a painful shock but possessing unique
technical capacities and societal discipline – can be at the forefront of an authentic paradigm shift toward a
truly sustainable, low­carbon and nuclear­free energy policy".[188] However Renewable energy in Germany
is not without its critics, as according to German state newspaper Der Spiegel, Renewable energy has served
to increase energy bills to customers, increased the frequency of black outs, and has resulted in the loss of
many heavy industry jobs.[189][190] Moreover the phase out of nuclear energy in Germany has been heavily
criticized by many in the environmental movement in Germany, as it has increased the nations use and
reliance on Fossil fuels.[191]
As of September 2011, Japan plans to build a pilot floating wind farm, with six 2­megawatt turbines, off the
Fukushima coast.[192] After the evaluation phase is complete in 2016, "Japan plans to build as many as 80
floating wind turbines off Fukushima by 2020."[192]
In 2012, Naoto Kan said the Fukushima disaster made it clear to him that "Japan needs to dramatically reduce
its dependence on nuclear power, which supplied 30% of its electricity before the crisis, and has turned him
into a believer of renewable energy".[86]
Sales of solar cells in Japan rose 30.7% to 1,296 megawatts in 2011, helped by a government scheme to
promote renewable energy. Canadian Solar plans to build a factory in Japan and is currently in negotiations
with local governments in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. The facility is expected to have a capacity of
150 megawatts of solar panels a year, could go online as soon as 2013.[193]
As of September 2012, most Japanese people support the zero option on nuclear power according to an LA
times blog,[194] and Prime Minister Noda and the Japanese government announced a dramatic change of
direction in energy policy, promising to make the country nuclear­free by the 2030s. There will be no new
construction of nuclear power plants, a 40­year lifetime limit on existing nuclear plants, and any further
nuclear plant restarts will need to meet tough safety standards of the new independent regulatory authority.
The new approach to meeting energy needs will also involve investing $500 billion over 20 years to
commercialize the use of renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power.[195] In July, a
Commission presented a 450­page report about Fukushima that strongly critisized TEPCO and the former
government. It described the NISA ("Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency") as a toothless tiger. The NISA
was subordinated to the Japanese Ministry of Economy (METI). 19 September, the NISA was replaced by an
organization called Genshiryoku Kisei Iinkai.
On 16 December, there was a general election in Japan. Voters gave the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a
landslide victory. Shinzō Abe (LDP) was elected prime minister of Japan. The LDP has governed Japan
almost uninterrupted for half a century. Abe said he wanted more nuclear power.[196] A survey of local
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mayors by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in January 2013 found that most of them from cities hosting
nuclear plants would agree to the reactors being restarted, provided the government could guarantee the safety
of the facilities.[197]
Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation
Commission
Main article: National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation
Commission
The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) is the first independent
investigation commission by the National Diet in the 66­year history of Japan’s constitutional government.
NAICC was established on 8 December 2011 with the mission to investigate the direct and indirect causes of
the Fukushima nuclear incident. NAICC submitted its report to both houses on 5 July 2012.[a][29] The 10­
member commission compiled its report based on more than 1,167 interviews and 900 hours of
hearings.[198][199]
It was a six­month independent investigation, the first of its kind with wide­ranging subpoena powers in
Japan's constitutional history, which held public hearings with former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Tokyo
Electric Power Co's former president Masataka Shimizu, who gave conflicting accounts of the disaster
response.[200] The commission chairman, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, declared with respect to the Fukushima nuclear
incident: "It was a profoundly man­made disaster — that could and should have been foreseen and
prevented."[201][202] "Across the board, the commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for
anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power," the NAIIC report said.[203] The report outlines
errors and willful negligence at the plant before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011
and a flawed response in the hours, days and weeks that followed. It also offers recommendations and
encourages Japan's Diet to "thoroughly debate and deliberate" the suggestions.[204]
Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear
Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company
Main article: Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of
Tokyo Electric Power Company
The determination of the causes of the accident that occurred at Fukushima Daiichi and Daini Nuclear Power
Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and those of the damages generated by the accident,
and thereby making policy proposals designed to prevent the expansion of the damages and the recurrence of
similar accidents in the future was the purpose of the Investigation Committee on the Accident at the
Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations (ICANPS).[205] The 10 member,[206] government­appointed panel
included scholars, journalists, lawyers and engineers,[207] was supported by public prosecutors and
government experts[208] and released its final, 448­pages[209] investigation report on 23 July 2012.[30][210]
The panel interviewed 772 people,[209] including plant workers, government officials and evacuees,[211] for a
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The panel interviewed 772 people,[209] including plant workers, government officials and evacuees,[211] for a
total of nearly 1,479 hearing hours.[209] Its report was the fourth investigation into the crisis after the earlier
release of a Diet study, a private report by journalists and academics as well as an investigation by
TEPCO.[212] The panel said the government and TEPCO failed to prevent the disaster not because a large
tsunami was unanticipated, but because they were reluctant to invest time, effort and money in protecting
against a natural disaster considered unlikely.[211] "The utility and regulatory bodies were overly confident
that events beyond the scope of their assumptions would not occur . . . and were not aware that measures to
avoid the worst situation were actually full of holes," the government panel said in its final report.[213] The
panel's report faulted an inadequate legal system for nuclear crisis management, a crisis­command disarray
caused by the government and Tepco, and possible excess meddling on the part of the prime minister's office
in the early stage of the crisis.[214] The panel concluded that a culture of complacency about nuclear safety
and poor crisis management led to the nuclear disaster.[206]
Criminal investigations
Japanese prosecutors as a sequel to criminal complaints, including accusations that TEPCO executives and
government officials committed 'acts of professional negligence’ have reportedly begun a criminal
investigation into the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant accident.[215]
See also
List of civilian nuclear accidents
Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents
Timeline of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Comparison of Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear accidents
Notes
a. ^ The startpage of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission internetsite
(http://naiic.go.jp/en/) stated on 10 July 2012 the following information which was used as the basis for the
previous sentences: "NAIIC (The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation
Commission) is the first independent investigation commission by the National Diet in the 66­year history of
Japan’s constitutional government. NAICC was established on 8 December 2011 with the mission to investigate the
direct and indirect causes of the Fukushima nuclear incident. NAICC submitted its report to both houses on 5 July
2012."
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(http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120724a1.html) . The Japan Times.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120724a1.html. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
^ "Japan begins criminal probe into Fukushima nuke disaster" (http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/japan­begins­
criminal­probe­into­fukushima­nuke­disaster_791397.html) . 3 August 2012.
http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/japan­begins­criminal­probe­into­fukushima­nuke­disaster_791397.html.
External links
The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Report website in English
(http://naiic.go.jp/en/)
Executive summary of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Report
(http://www.slideshare.net/jikocho/naiic­report­hires)
Fukushima report: Key points in nuclear disaster report (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world­asia­
18718486) ­ An outline of key quotes, findings and recommendations from the 88­page executive
summary of the Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission's report, as provided by the
BBC, 5 July 2012
Webcam Fukushima nuclear power plant I, Unit 1 through Unit 4 (http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/f1­
np/camera/index­j.html)
Investigation Committee on the accidents at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric
Power Company (http://icanps.go.jp/eng/)
Schematic drawing of Unit 1 reactor building (http://www.houseoffoust.com/fukushima/blueprint.html)
TEPCO News Releases (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp­com/release/index­e.html) , Tokyo
Electric Power Company
NISA Information update (http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/) , Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency,
the nuclear safety authority of Japan
JAIF Information update, Japan Atomic International Forum (http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/)
JAEA Information update (http://www.jaea.go.jp/english/) , Japan Atomic Energy Agency
IAEA Update on Japan Earthquake (http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html) ,
International Atomic Energy Agency
Nature Journal – Specials: Japan earthquake and nuclear crisis
(http://www.nature.com/news/specials/japanquake/index.html)
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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
TerraFly Timeline Aerial Imagery of Fukushima Nuclear Reactor after 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake
(http://cake.fiu.edu/Fukushima/)
Documentary photographs: residential damage within "No Go" Zone
(http://www.lensculture.com/mittica­fukushima.html?thisPic=100)
In graphics: Fukushima nuclear alert (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world­asia­pacific­12726591) , as
provided by the BBC, 9 July 2012
PreventionWeb Japan: 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
(http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/news/tags/index.php/pw:jpnnuclear2011/Japan:%2
0Fukushima%20Daiichi%20nuclear%20disaster%202011/)
"What should we learn from the severe accident at the Fukushima Dai­ichi Nuclear Power Plant?"
(http://pr.bbt757.com/eng/) by Kenichi Ohmae, Team H2O Project. 28 October 2011
"Reassessment of Fukushima Nuclear Accident and Outline of Nuclear Safety Reform Plan(Interim
Report)" (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp­com/release/betu12_e/images/121214e0201.pdf) by
TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.14 December 2012
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?
title=Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster&oldid=543476567"
Categories: 2011 in the environment 2011 industrial disasters
2011 Japanese nuclear incidents and accidents Civilian nuclear power accidents Fukushima Prefecture
Nuclear accidents and incidents
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