Five years after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Dahr Jamail reports that TEPCO officials in charge of the plant continue to release large quantities of radioactive waster water into the Pacific Ocean. Arnold Gunderson, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, stated that Fukushima is “the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of humankind.” The problem today is that TEPCO has not figured out a way to cool down the plant’s radioactive materials.
A recent Woods Hole study shows a fifty percent increase in radiation levels 1,600 miles west of San Francisco. The first radioactive plume released by Fukushima will likely hit the US’s west coast in 2017, with levels peaking in 2018, according to a 2013 report by the Nanes Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway.
Gunderson also told TruthOut that he has seen data revealing that the radioactive hot spots are located farther from Fukushima than were the hot spots from Chernobyl. The Chernobyl nuclear explosion occurred over 30 years ago and the affected area there remains uninhabitable.
There is no simple solution to this problem and it will most likely take decades to reverse the effects that the accident has had on the environment and people. More precautionary measures must be taken by nuclear power plants and companies to prevent catastrophes like Fukushima and Chernobyl. The repercussions for these accidents are extremely difficult to contain and more precautionary and safety measures would reduce the chances of future accidents.
Jamail notes, “In Japan, US citizens living there who were located within a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima plant were required to evacuate. Within the United States, more than 120 million people live within a 50-mile evacuation zone of a nuclear plant.”
Source: Dahr Jamail, “Radioactive Water From Fukushima Is Leaking Into the Pacific,” Truthout, January 27, 2016, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34565-radioactive-water-from-fukushima-is-leaking-into-the-pacific
Student Researcher: Harrison Hartman (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)