Four years ago an earthquake hit Japan that destroyed not only human life, but nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Three reactors at Fukushima were damaged, leading many to call the meltdown the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986. While some experts maintain that there is little danger left to be taken care of, other reports say that the world is far from out of the danger zone. Much of the public has taken to heart that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) did not disclose that for the past year the damaged nuclear reactors have been spewing contaminated water into the ocean.
Over 100 cities and towns surrounding the Fukushima power plant are a part of Japan’s decontamination efforts. As of December of 2014, over 120,000 local residents were still not allowed to return to their homes. Several news stories call the decontamination efforts daunting, but more skeptical opinions wonder if it is possible at all. Japan’s Environment Ministry hopes to be mostly wrapped up with their cleanup efforts by 2017. The ongoing and as yet unsolved problem they are faced with is what to do with all of the irradiated material that has been cleaned up to date. Outside the Fukushima plant a special landfill has been being developed to permanently house the contaminated bags of debris. By the time the landfill is completed it will be large enough to fill roughly 15 baseball stadiums full of the bagged debris. A rough estimate of Fukushima’s waste calculation is all there is at this point.
This seems like a temporary answer to an ongoing problem. When nuclear disasters such as the one that occurred in 2011 at Fukushima happen, aside from simply putting collected waste into a landfill, what are the authorities able to do with it? While the facility being built is promised to be as safe as possible, with such a volatile substance as nuclear waste being housed who can say how safe is too safe? Currently there are no methods of permanently disposing nuclear waste from Fukushima or elsewhere. This leads some to believe that this is yet another problem that modern scientists are putting into the hands of future generations to solve.
While local farmers are still not able to sell their crops despite proving there is little to no radiation in their stock, the fishing industry has been hit harder the world around. Being that more nuclear waste from Fukushima has been leaking into the ocean over the past year that was never reported, one wonders how much fish has already been consumed that should not have been. Reports throughout the world have shown the spread of nuclear waste in the Pacific from the Fukushima disaster, and with Japan spending so much time and money simply trying to contain the tons of waste product from newly entering the ocean, one wonders when and/or if the problem will ever be solved. Who wants to eat possibly radiated fish?
Japan has recently disclosed that it has learned the lessons from the Fukushima disaster, and plans to reintegrate nuclear power plants into running again are not far off. Since the earthquake that caused the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, Japan’s 48 nuclear power plants have remained offline, but that is soon to change. The plant at the Sendai location is soon to be turned back online. This shows Japan’s disregard for what happened to cause Fukushima’s disaster, as well as potential future natural weather disasters, since the Sendai plant is located near an active volcano.
Since the Fukushima disaster, public outcry in Japan has shown that the majority of the country does not see the need for nuclear power. Fukushima scared Japan’s people and the world as to the dangers that lay in nuclear power.
Aileen Mioko-Smith, an activist with Green Action Japan says, “They are pushing ahead with reopening nuclear plants despite the opinion polls consistently showing that a solid 70 percent of the Japanese public want nuclear energy to be phased out.” In this age of information the world has found out about the harmful effects of GMO crops, various government’s corruption, and the spread of nuclear waste through our waterways caused by the Fukushima plant. Discouragingly, this has not stopped the company Monsanto. The corruption continues in all areas of the world, and time after time the public is made aware of continuing damage to the Earth’s ecosystem by nuclear runoff. When will these corporations and the countries they operate in pay attention to what the public is demanding?
By Benjamin Johnson
Photo by Bousure – Flickr License