Fukushima Still Spewing Radiation 6 Years Later
The nuclear power reactor on the east coast of Japan dubbed Fukushima Daiichi has been out of commission for six years. The reactor complex was part of the damage done by a combination of strong earthquake and destructive tsunami that slammed into the beachfront installation.
Radiation is still escaping. In February, a probe was sent into one of the wrecked reactor containers. It recorded a reading of 530 Sieverts. This is more than seven times the previous high level taken in 2012 of 73 Sieverts. An exposure to one Sievert is enough to make a person sick and 5 Sieverts is enough to kill.
A spokesperson for the clean up operation mused that the high reading might be due to a difference in the sampling technique. The person did offer that the probe observed a hole in the metal grating below the containment vessel and opined that the melted nuclear fuel may have run through it. Dark lumps observed by the probe might be remains of nuclear fuel rods.
The clean up of the destroyed electrical plant has been plagued by mistakes, allegations of corruption and cover ups by the Tokyo Electric Power Company(TEPCO) executives have all served to erode public confidence in the safe remediation of the area. TEPCO is restructuring and integrating among other power plants in order to continue to earn enough to pay for the Fukushima cleanup.
Nuclear power remains a controversial and divisive subject in Japan. A TEPCO generating plant in Takahama Prefecture has recently been given the green light to restart. The Osaka High Court overturned a lower court’s injunction to keep it closed. Japan needs to generate electricity for its people but lacks natural gas or coal reserves. The ability to harness the power of falling water is also limited.
The timetable for clean up of the wrecked Fukushima plant estimates that another 34 years will be needed to be able to declare the site safe. After six years of the complex releasing radiation into our air and oceans, it looks as if little progress has been made.
In the 21st century most people understand that pollution of the air and water does not remain with the polluters but is shared by everyone around the world.