Fukushima Two Years Later

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This Monday, March 11, 2013 commemorated the 2nd year of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

How can a country with hyper-industrialized and modern infrastructure have suffered such a tragedy ? Authorities and scientists are still pondering on this natural disaster, its direct impact on nuclear and other events that have caused thousands of casualties and any people are still missing.

Japan is not the only country to have a fleet of reactors at the edge of an ocean; a Spanish study showed that 74 civilian nuclear reactors are located on a hill at risk.

The study entitled, « Civil nuclear power at risk of tsunamis » was conducted by José Manuel Rodríguez-Llanes, Joaquin Rodriguez-Vidal and Debarati Guha-Sapir and was published in « Natural Hazards » journal, (Sept 2012). The researchers determined the world's geographic zones which are at greater risk. Twenty-three atomic power plants with 74 reactors are located in areas of the world that are at high risk of biggest tsunamis.

To understand what happened in Japan, it is necessary to evaluate the key factors aggravating this human disaster. The earthquake reached magnitude 8.9 which is one of the most powerful known. The epicenter of the quake was at a depth of 10,000 meters in the open Pacific Ocean 134 km from the island, at the same time producing a shock wave.

The unthinkable becomes reality of square kilometers of ocean have raised a few centimeters to the epicenter, to transform into a giant wave over 15 meters close to 800 kilometers of Japanese coast, submerging everything in its path and destroying everything which was exposed along beach.

The vast majorities of 19,000 victims have nothing to do with the Fukushima nuclear accident, but suffered the devastating tsunami. Fusion reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, due to the failure of the cooling system have also resulted in the death or removal of more than 150,000 inhabitants of this territory and leaving them permanently contaminated.

However, we are in a hyper-industrialized country, with modern infrastructure with nuclear reactors following the anti-seismic standards. They are designed to withstand a magnitude 7, but certainly not a hyper-tsunami.

A magnitude 7 earthquake releases alone as much energy as thirty magnitude 6 earthquake, the earthquake reached magnitude 9 on the Richter scale. Still one has to wonder that why this choice of location?

The engineers who know they suffer the violence of The Far tsunamis, installed nuclear plants near the coast, while the mountainous country builds well above sea level. It uses seawater to cool the boiling water reactor plants in Japan, and it would have been difficult and less profitable to pump water from a hill.

Speaking today of the danger in the establishment of plants located in coastal areas, or the need for modification of buildings for plants to withstand an earthquake of Magnitude 9.

Many imbalances in the world highlight the need to review certain safety standards, given the growth and intensity of natural disasters that await us. Till then we don’t have to wait for the next earthquake and must try to find a better solution, to minimize the carnage of all the natural disasters. If no measures are adapted then there will be more destruction and many lives will be lost.

A Japanese parliamentary panel has delivered a verdict after investigating the accident at the Fukushima nuclear. Here are findings and recommendations from the 84-page executive summary of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission's report (PDF files).


[1] Image Credit : Jun Temaroto After Tsunami (CC-By SA 2.0)
[2] CRED (Centre de recherche sur l'épidémiologie des désastres)

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