Environment, man-made disasters,
pollution, waste, recycling
disasters > Japan > Fukushima 2011
Losing Hope Two Years After Nuclear Disaster
2 October 2013
Losing Hope Two Years After Nuclear Disaster
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
Evacuees are screened for radiation
at a testing center, March 15, 2011,
in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture,
Boston Globe > Big Picture
fears as the tragedy deepens
leak UK / USA
nuclear accident ratings
Boston Globe > Big Picture
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
a massive earthquake and tsunami
wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant,
resulting in a meltdown
the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years.
About 160,000 people
living near the plant were ordered to move
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
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.
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 Daiichi plant, Japan - 2011
- the world's worst atomic crisis
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
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
By MARTIN FACKLER
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
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
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,
nuclear accident ratings reform
NEW YORK | Wed Apr 13, 2011
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
"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
and Eileen O'Grady in Houston,
editing by Martin Howell)
Japan, nuclear accident ratings reform sought, R, 13.4.2011,
International nuclear event scale explained
Tue Apr 12, 2011
(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
LEVEL 7 - MAJOR ACCIDENT
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.
LEVEL 6 - SERIOUS ACCIDENT:
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.
LEVEL 5 - ACCIDENT WITH WIDER CONSEQUENCES:
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.
LEVEL 4 - ACCIDENT WITH LOCAL CONSEQUENCES:
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
* FLEURUS, Belgium, 2006 - Severe health effects for
worker at a commercial irradiation facility as a result of high doses of
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit
and Scott DiSavino in New
editing by Miral Fahmy)
International nuclear event scale explained, R, 12.4.2011,
Factbox: Japan's disaster in figures
Sun Apr 10, 2011
(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
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.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE EVACUATED
* 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.
HOUSEHOLDS WITHOUT ELECTRICITY
* 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.
HOUSEHOLDS WITHOUT WATER
* At least 210,000 households in 10 prefectures were without running water as of
early on Saturday, the Health Ministry said.
NUMBER OF BUILDINGS DAMAGED
* 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.
IMPACT ON ECONOMY
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
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.
NUMBER OF COUNTRIES OFFERING AID
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)
disaster in figures, R, 10.4.2011,
Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis
TOKYO | Thu
Apr 7, 2011
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,
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
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,
Related > Anglonautes >
countries > Japan
nuclear disasters > Chernobyl - April 26, 1986
weapons > nuclear weapons
democracy, human rights, migration, politics,
society, religion, health, climate >
international, world > regions, countries
politics > world > oligarchy, autocracy, despotism,
dictatorship, totalitarianism, fascism
violence against women worldwide
religion / faith,
abuse, violence, extremism,
weapons, arms sales,
conflicts, wars, climate, poverty
seekers, displaced people,
> Asia > Japan
> International Military Tribunal 1946-1948
Japan, Asia >
pictures > Key events
USA > Manhattan project 1942-1946
Hiroshima and Nagasaki - August 1945
War in the Pacific, Asia, India
Asia > Japan
Sex slaves / 'Comfort women'
from Korea / The Philippines
USA > Japanese-Americans internment camps
USA > Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941
photo gallery > WW2