One Year Later: Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Fukushima Dai-Ni, Japan - March 12, 2011 - photo by DigitalGlobe

The recent license approvals by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have some, including myself, reflecting on the nuclear disaster in Japan. It was almost a year ago (March 11, 2011) that an earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeast coast of Japan. The following weeks and months saw a struggle to contain a building nuclear disaster. There was a partial meltdown, several hydrogen explosions (that destroyed containment buildings) and radioactive material seepage that continues to this day.

Gregg Levine (of Capitoilette) wrote an article that appears on Truthout titled, New Fukushima Report: “Devil’s Chain Reaction” Could Wipe Out Tokyo. In it he writes, “A new independent report on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster reveals that Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan feared events following the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami would require the evacuation of Tokyo.” Levine recounts details in the report that shows the conflicts between the Japanese government and the owner and operator of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). “Masataka Shimizu, president of TEPCO, is said to have ordered all of Fukushima Daiichi’s employees to evacuate the facility in the days after March 11, but Daiichi’s plant manager, Massao Yoshida, argued that he could get the damaged reactors under control if he and nuclear workers remained.”, Levine reports. The greatest fear during the first hours and days was that the disaster could not be contained and the result would be the relocation of 13 million citizens that call Tokyo home. It should be noted that Tokyo is 150 miles away from Fukushima.

Japan’s nuclear disaster changed my mind when it comes to nuclear power. I once considered it necessary if we are to stop burning fossil fuels, but now I believe we need a more intense focus on clean and renewable energy including wind, solar, geothermal and hydro. But if we are going to move forward with nuclear, I sure hope the NRC and the U.S. power companies are learning from this disaster.

I suggest checking out Levine’s full article along with the many links he provides for further reading.

dks

photo by DigitalGlobe via Flickr

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