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Environment, man-made disasters,

pollution, waste, recycling


Nuclear disasters > Japan > Fukushima    2011




































































Fukushima 2013:

Losing Hope Two Years After Nuclear Disaster

NYT    2 October 2013





Fukushima 2013:

Losing Hope Two Years After Nuclear Disaster

Video        NYT        2 October 2013


More than two years

after the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima Prefecture,

thousands of refugees, desperate to return home,

are losing confidence

in the Japanese government's cleanup efforts.






















Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination

at a testing center, March 15, 2011,

in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan.


Photograph: Wally Santana

Associated Press


Boston Globe > Big Picture

Japan: New fears as the tragedy deepens

March 15, 2011

















leak        UK / USA










radiation leaks        UK


































fission        USA










nuclear accident ratings








Boston Globe > Big Picture

Radioactive Fukushima        March 31, 2015










Boston Globe > Big Picture

Japan's nuclear refugees        USA        March 9, 2012










Boston Globe > Big Picture

Broken lives of Fukushima        October 7, 2013


In 2011

a massive earthquake and tsunami

wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant,

resulting in a meltdown that became

the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years.


About 160,000 people

living near the plant were ordered to move out

and the government established

a 20-km compulsory evacuation zone.


The operator of the plant,

Tokyo Electric Power Co,

is struggling to contain contaminated water

at the site 240 km north of Tokyo.


There have been multiple leaks and glitches

over the last two and a half years.


Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj

returned to this abandoned area last month

and captured these haunting images.











Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown        Aired: 02/28/2012

54:40        Rating: NR


In the desperate hours and days

after the Fukushima nuclear disaster,

the fate of thousands of Japanese citizens fell

into the hands of a small corps

of engineers, firemen and soldiers

who risked their lives to prevent

the Daiichi nuclear complex

from complete meltdown.


This is their story,

with rare footage from inside the plant

and eyewitness testimony

from the people on the frontlines.











Nuclear Aftershocks        Aired: 01/17/2012

53:41        Rating: NR


FRONTLINE correspondent Miles O'Brien

travels to three continents

to explore the revived debate

about the safety of nuclear power,

the options for alternative energy sources,

and questions about whether a disaster

like the one at Fukushima

could happen in the United States.










Fukushima        USA














Fukushima Daiichi plant, Japan - 2011

- the world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl

Japan's nuclear crisis




https://apps.npr.org/fukushima/ - September 2020







































world/asia/japan-fukushima-anniversary.html - March 9, 2016










































































Japan's 2011 tsunami, then and now - in pictures        UK        2021


Ten years ago

one of the most powerful earthquakes on record

triggered a devastating tsunami in Japan,

killing more than 18,000 people

and triggering catastrophic meltdowns

at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.


Then and now photographs

show the extent of the destruction

and the enormity of the reconstruction work











Corpus of news articles


Earth > Environment, disasters,


pollution, waste, recycling




Last Reactor of 50 in Japan

Is Shut Down


May 5, 2012

The New York Times



TOKYO ó Japanís last operating reactor was taken offline Saturday, as public distrust created by last yearís nuclear disaster forced the nation to at least temporarily do without atomic power for the first time in 42 years.

The reactor, at the Tomari plant on the northern island of Hokkaido, was shut down for legally mandated maintenance, said its operator, Hokkaido Electric. As Japanís 50 functional commercial reactors have been shut down one by one for maintenance, none have been restarted because of safety concerns since last yearís Fukushima disaster.

Desperate to avert possible power shortages this summer, the government has tried to convince the public to allow some of the reactors to be restarted. It has conducted simulated stress tests to show whether reactors can withstand the sort of immense earthquake and tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

However, the public has not accepted the tests, which were conducted largely behind closed doors. A number of critics have demanded more sweeping changes, like the creation of a more independent nuclear regulatory agency.

Cozy ties between officials in the Trade Ministry, which both regulates and promotes nuclear power, and plant operators are widely seen as having left the Fukushima plant without adequate defenses against natural disaster. This distrust fed criticism that the authorities failed to protect the public after the accident, and instead tried to cover up the full dangers.

About 300 protesters gathered Saturday in front of the Trade Ministry to celebrate the temporary shutdown of the nationís nuclear program, and to call for a permanent end.

Tadao Sakuma, 81, who had joined a hunger strike in front of the ministry to oppose restarting the plants, toasted the news about the Tomari reactor. ďI want all reactors to be scrapped, and Iím going to live 10 ó no, 20 ó years to see that through,Ē he said.


Hiroko Tabuchi contributed reporting.

Last Reactor of 50 in Japan Is Shut Down,







After Japan,

nuclear accident ratings reform sought


NEW YORK | Wed Apr 13, 2011
1:51am EDT
By Scott DiSavino and Eileen O'Grady


NEW YORK (Reuters) - The declaration that the Fukushima crisis ranks at the same level as the Chernobyl disaster on the international nuclear accident scale has some experts calling for radical reform of the system.

Before Fukushima, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was the only event classified as a level 7 event on the scale. The blast at Chernobyl in Ukraine spread radioactive material over much of Europe, killing dozens in and around the plant and many more from cancer over time.

Japan's nuclear regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), on Tuesday raised the severity of the Fukushima accident from a level 5 to a 7, based on the amount of radiation pouring out of the plant.

"Fukushima was not as bad as Chernobyl. If Fukushima is a level 7 accident, maybe we need to go back and recalibrate the scale and add a level 8 or 9," said Najmedin Meshkati, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California.

NISA itself has said the amount of radiation released was only about 10 percent of that from Chernobyl and no radiation-linked deaths have yet been reported. About 21 plant workers have had minor radiation sickness.

The International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) was designed in 1989 by the International Atomic Energy Agency and others after the Chernobyl disaster to help inform the public about the severity of a nuclear accident.

Its rankings are similar to the Richter or the moment magnitude scale for earthquakes. Each level on the INES scale represents a nuclear accident about ten times more severe than the previous level. The INES scale starts at Level 1 or 'Anomaly' and rises to a Level 7 or 'Major Accident'.

The inconsistency in comparing Fukushima and Chernobyl comes from the fact that "a 7 covers a wide magnitude of sins," said James Acton, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He said both events are categorized as a level 7 on the INES scale because the amount of radiation emitted had reached a defined threshold, not because the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) stricken Fukushima plant was as serious as Chernobyl.



There can be confusion as to the actual severity of an accident because there is no one authority to rank the event. Depending on the nation concerned, the job is left up to the company that owns the plant, the government agency that regulates the plant or a scientific body.

"Clearly (Fukushima) is not as bad as it can get and not as bad as Chernobyl," said Kenneth Barish, professor of physics at University of California at Riverside.

"Even if the amount of radiation released at Fukushima is of the same order of magnitude as Chernobyl...the effect on health appears to be far lower due to the differences in the event and response to the event," Barish said.

But Fukushima did involve three reactors and seven spent fuel pools, containing thousands of highly radioactive rods. Hydrogen explosions rocked the plant in the first week after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the reactors.

Chernobyl meanwhile involved only one reactor. In fact, the last unit at Chernobyl did not shut until 2000, 14 years after the accident.

"It has been obvious all along this was a 7 ... There are three reactors that are not being cooled and four fuel pools too. Chernobyl was only one core," said Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates and a 29-year veteran of the nuclear industry who worked on reactors similar to those at Fukushima.



The experts said Japan could have done a better job of preparing its citizens and neighboring countries for the shock rise in the ranking.

"I think the Japanese government and TEPCO could have emphasized how little they knew about conditions at the reactors and spent fuel ponds when the crisis began," said IHS Energy Asia Pacific analyst Thomas Grieder.

"They could have stated that the crisis rating was based on what information they had available at the time -- with the caveat that this information was severely limited and it would take time to gather on radiation releases and there was a possibility the situation could be worse than they initially believed," Grieder said.

Bad as Fukushima is on the ranking system, experts warn that the plant is still not fully under control and a deterioration is still possible.

Another hydrogen explosion could severely damage the containment facilities, releasing large amounts of radiation, while the aftershocks that keep rocking the plant could lead to a complete core meltdown if the workers cannot keep the cooling water flowing.

"There is still hope of repairing or replacing damaged cooling systems at Fukushima rather than simply burying the entire site," Grieder said.

The damaged reactor at Chernobyl was in such a serious condition that it had to be buried in a concrete and steel sarcophagus.


(Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York

and Eileen O'Grady in Houston,

editing by Martin Howell)

    Analysis: After Japan, nuclear accident ratings reform sought, R, 13.4.2011,







International nuclear event scale explained


Tue Apr 12, 2011
8:27am EDT


(Reuters) - Japan Tuesday raised the severity level of its nuclear crisis to put it on par with the Chernobyl accident 25 years ago, the worst atomic power in history.

But what does that mean?

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- an inter-governmental organization for scientific co-operation in the nuclear field -- said it uses the scale to communicate to the public in a consistent way the safety significance of nuclear and radiological events.

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, or INES, ranges from one to seven. The most serious level is a seven, which refers to a "major accident," while a one is an "anomaly." The scale is designed so the severity of an event is about 10 times greater for each increase in level.

The following are some examples of accidents according to their INES level from the IAEA, see here


A major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.

* CHERNOBYL, Soviet Union (now Ukraine), 1986 - An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western Russia and Europe.


A significant release of radioactive material likely to require implementation of planned countermeasures.

* KYSHTYM, Soviet Union (now Russia), 1957 - Significant

release of radioactive material to the environment from

explosion of high activity waste tank.


A limited release of radioactive material likely to require implementation of some planned countermeasures and several deaths from radiation.

* THREE MILE ISLAND, USA, 1979 - Severe damage to reactor

core. This event galvanized opposition to a growing core

anti-nuclear power movement in the United States. After

this event, energy companies did not start the construction

of any new reactors in the United States for over 30 years

and stopped work on several reactors that were already under


* WINDSCALE PILE, UK, 1957 - A release of radioactive

material following a fire in a reactor core

* GOIANIA, Brazil, 1987 - Four people died and six people

received high doses of radiation.


A minor release of radioactive material unlikely to result in implementation of planned countermeasures other than local food controls and fuel melt, or damage to fuel resulting in more than 0.1 percent release of core inventory, and the release of significant quantities of radioactive material within an installation with a high probability of significant public exposure.

* TOKAIMURA, Japan, 1999 - Fatal overexposure of workers

following a criticality event at a nuclear facility.

* SAINT-LAURENT-DES-EAUX, France, 1980 - Melting of one

channel of fuel in the reactor with no release outside

the site.

* FLEURUS, Belgium, 2006 - Severe health effects for

worker at a commercial irradiation facility as a result of high doses of radiation.


(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit

and Scott DiSavino in New York, editing by Miral Fahmy)

    Factbox: International nuclear event scale explained, R, 12.4.2011,






Factbox: Japan's disaster in figures


Sun Apr 10, 2011
10:13pm EDT


(Reuters) - The following lists the impact of the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeast Japan on March 11 and the subsequent crisis at a nuclear power plant.

On April 7, a major aftershock rocked northeast Japan and a tsunami warning was briefly issued for the coast devastated by last month's massive quake and tsunami.

Asterisk indicates a new or updated entry.



* A total of 13,013 people were confirmed dead by Japan's National Police Agency as of 7 p.m. Japan time (1000 GMT) on Sunday, while 14,608 were missing.



* Around 151,000 people were in shelters around the country as of 1000 GMT on Sunday following evacuation, the National Police Agency said.

The government has set up an evacuation area around Tokyo Electric Power Co's quake-stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, with a 20-km (12-mile) radius. More than 70,000 people lived in the largely rural area within the 20 km zone. It is unclear how many of them have been evacuated, but most are believed to have left.

Another 136,000 people were within a zone extending a further 10 km in which residents are recommended to leave or stay indoors.



* As a result of the March 11 quake and tsunami, followed by a strong aftershock on April 7, a total of 158,392 households in the north were still without electricity as of 0700 GMT on Sunday, Tohoku Electric Power Co said.



* At least 210,000 households in 10 prefectures were without running water as of early on Saturday, the Health Ministry said.



* At least 48,824 buildings have been fully destroyed, washed away or burned down, the National Police Agency of Japan said as of 1000 GMT on Sunday.



The government has estimated damage from the earthquake and tsunami at 16-25 trillion yen ($190-295 billion).

The top estimate would make it the world's costliest natural disaster.

The estimate covers damage to roads, homes, factories and other infrastructure, but excludes lost economic activity from power outages and costs arising from damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant, as well as the impact of swings in financial markets and business sentiment.

The yen initially spiked to a record high against the dollar after the quake, prompting the first joint intervention by the Group of Seven rich nations in 11 years to help shield Japan's export-reliant economy.

Japan's reconstruction spending will almost certainly exceed that of the 1995 quake in Kobe, when the government needed extra budgets of more than 3 trillion yen.

Deputy Finance Minister Mitsuru Sakurai has signaled the government may need to spend more than 10 trillion yen in emergency budgets for post-quake disaster relief and reconstruction, with part of them possibly covered by new taxes.



According to the Foreign Ministry, 134 countries and 39 international organizations have offered assistance.

($1 = 84.900 Japanese Yen)


(Compiled by Tokyo Political and General News Team)

    Factbox: Japan's disaster in figures, R, 10.4.2011,






Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis


TOKYO | Thu Apr 7, 2011
11:21am EDT


TOKYO (Reuters) - Following are main developments after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan and crippled a nuclear power station, raising the risk of an uncontrolled radiation leak.

(*denotes new item)

- Engineers pump nitrogen gas into a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami to prevent an explosive buildup of hydrogen gas. Earlier efforts stopped highly radioactive water leaking into the sea at another of the facility's six reactors.

* In a sign of growing international concern over radiation fallout, some schools in neighboring South Korea close because parents are worried that rain there might be toxic. Latest data show that foreign tourists were shunning Japan during what would normally be one of the most popular seasons to visit.

* Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) says its president, Masataka Shimizu, has left hospital and is back in the office. Shimizu was admitted to hospital late last month due to overwork.

- TEPCO says a buildup of hydrogen after attempts to cool the reactors with water could produce an explosion -- as occurred early in the crisis in reactors No. 1 and 3. But the likelihood of this was "extremely low."

- After using water to cool fuel rods, engineers must still pump 11.5 million liters (11,500 tons) of contaminated water back into the ocean as they have run out of storage space.

- The head of a U.N. Scientific body says the situation at the plant is not expected to have any serious impact on people's health. Data shows much lower levels of iodine than in the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine. Radioactive iodine detected in the sea now stands at about 600 times the legal limit after being recorded at 4,800 times the limit previously.

- A top official for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the Commission does not believe the core of reactor no. 2 melted down.

- The coast guard says the quake shifted the seabed near the epicenter in northern Japan by a record 24 meters (79 feet).

- TEPCO this week began paying "condolence money" to nearby local governments to aid people evacuated because of the crisis.

- Authorities do not plan to expand the evacuation zone around the plant, a senior nuclear official said. The government created a 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone around the site after the earthquake and tsunami.

- TEPCO has said it will scrap at least four reactors once they are under control, but this could take years or even decades. The Fukushima Daiichi and nearby Fukushima Daini plants produce 4 percent of Japan's power and local politicians say reopening them will be politically difficult.

- A total of 12,554 people were confirmed dead by Japan's National Police Agency, while 15,077 are missing as of Wednesday. A total of 162,481 households were without electricity and at least 170,000without running water.

- Estimated cost of damage to top $300 billion, making it the world's costliest natural disaster. The 1995 Kobe quake cost $100 billion while Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused $81 billion in damage.


(Tokyo bureau; Compiled by World Desk Asia)

    Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis, R, 7.4.2011,






Japanís Multiple Calamities


March 14, 2011
The New York Times

Any comment on the disaster in Japan must begin with the stunning scale of human loss. Thousands dead or missing from the devastating earthquake and tsunami surge. Hundreds of thousands homeless. Whole villages wiped out. And now there is the threat of further harm from badly damaged nuclear reactors. The worst-case accident would be enormous releases of radioactivity.

The unfolding Japanese tragedy also should prompt Americans to closely study our own plans for coping with natural disasters and with potential nuclear plant accidents to make sure they are, indeed, strong enough. Weíve already seen how poor defenses left New Orleans vulnerable to Hurricane Katrina and how industrial folly and hubris led to a devastating blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is sobering that such calamities could so badly hurt Japan, a technologically advanced nation that puts great emphasis on disaster mitigation. Japanís protective seawalls proved no match for the high waves that swept over them and knocked out the safety systems that were supposed to protect nearby nuclear reactors from overheating and melting down.

It is much too early to understand the magnitude of what has happened. But, as of now, this four-day crisis in Japan already amounts to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

From early reports, it appears that the troubled reactors survived the earthquake. Control rods shut down the nuclear fission reactions that generate power. But even after shutdown, there is residual heat that needs to be drawn off by cooling water pumped through the reactor core, and thatís where the trouble came.

The nuclear plant lost its main source of electric power to drive the pumps, and the tsunami knocked out the backup diesel generators that were supposed to drive the pumps in an emergency. That left only short-term battery power that is able to provide cooling water on a small scale but canít drive the large pumps required for full-scale cooling.

Early Tuesday morning, the frightening news came that Japan was facing the full meltdown of crippled reactors at a nuclear power station ó with unknown and potentially catastrophic consequences. In a televised address to the nation at 11 a.m. local time, Prime Minister Naoto Kan pleaded for calm as he announced that radiation had spread from the reactors. He added that there was ďa very high riskĒ of further leakages.

With the United States poised to expand nuclear power after decades of stagnation, it will be important to reassess safety standards. Some 30 American reactors have designs similar to the crippled reactors in Japan. Various reactors in this country are situated near geologic faults, in coastal areas reachable by tsunamis or in areas potentially vulnerable to flooding. Regulators will need to evaluate how well operators would cope if they lost both primary power and backup diesel generators for an extended period.

This page has endorsed nuclear power as one tool to head off global warming. We suspect that, when all the evidence is in from Japan, it will remain a valuable tool. But the public needs to know that it is a safe one.

Japanís Multiple Calamities, NYT, 14.3.2011,










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