People across Japan observed a moment of silence at 2:46pm (local time) on March 11 to mark the seventh anniversary of Tsunami that devastated the Asia-Pacific nation in 2011. A series of tidal waves and a mega-quake claimed around 18,000 lives, apart from triggering the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the ‘Chernobyl disaster’ (which took place on April 26, 1986 in Ukraine).
On the anniversary of the calamity, the Japanese government stated that nearly 73,000 people from the disaster-hit areas were yet to return to their hometowns mainly because of the radioactive contamination caused by the three reactor core meltdowns at the Fukushima No 1 power station. About 34,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture have no option, but to stay outside the prefecture. The government stated that more than 53,000 people were living in government-funded temporary housing, while around 20,000 were staying with their relatives.
Interestingly, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown not only has an impact on Japan, but also on the world. According to researchers, the leak out from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster has contaminated around one-third of the globe. They further claimed that more than 80% of the radioactivity from the damaged reactors in Fukushima came to a halt in the Pacific Ocean. While a small fraction of radioactive materials is still on the seafloor, the Kuroshio Current has swept up the rest and carried out to sea where it mixed with the North Pacific water. So, the impact of Fukushima disaster is much bigger than the Chernobyl accident.
Awareness Act – a US-based think tank – has expressed serious concern over the impact of Fukushima disaster on the nature, saying in a report that the radioactive materials – basically two isotopes of cesium – have recently been discovered in the Eastern Pacific. The organisation also said that it had detected signs of radioactive contamination from Fukushima along the coast near British Columbia and California in 2015. Awareness Act urged the global community not to underestimate the danger of radioactive material in any amount, as the possible exposure of cesium will be devastating.
According to the think tank, Fukushima is not under control at all (on the contrary to the claim made by Japan) as levels of radioactivity in the ocean show that the leaks are still there. The plant officials are using irradiated waters – stored in more than 1,000 tanks – to keep Fukushima’s ruined reactors cool.
Moreover, TEPCO – the owner of the plant – has installed a filtration device, which strips dangerous isotopes of strontium and cesium from the flow. As a result, the water – stored in the tanks – contains tritium and isotope of hydrogen with two neutrons. It has become increasingly difficult to remove tritium – a major by-product of nuclear reactions – from the water.
Recently, the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan has launched a campaign in order to convince the global community that dumping up to 800,000 tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean will create no trouble. However, the campaign has failed to convince International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has asked the Authority to re-consider the impact of contaminated water on the environment. The IAEA opines that such a move could affect the entire livelihoods and the health of the global community in the long-run.
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