The Fukushima Power Plant on Japan’s Northeast Shore experienced a melt down after a huge earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011. Tepco, Japan’s power company revealed that the incident was a greater disaster than previously estimated. Fukushima is growing more dangerous today after Typhoon Vongfong passed over the island.
Immediately after the melt down occurred, officials from Tepco believed that about 63 percent of the fuel rods had melted into the bottom of the reactor, and that the cooling system had prevented the remainder from doing so while the reactor was fully shut down. They have now revealed that 100 percent of the rods melted.
After the passing of Vongfong, the radiation levels in the water surrounding Fukushima have risen to an all-time high. Specifically cesium and tritium levels have continued to rise. The cesium levels are three times greater than those at any other recorded measurement; it is very soluble, spreads easily, and is a cancer-causing agent. Strontium 90, an agent which causes bone cancer, is also on the rise.
Tepco has not initiated new measures to control the increased radiation; they admit that they are unsure of how deep the water contamination extends.
The 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami claimed 20,000 lives. Fukushima, which is approximately 150 miles northeast of Tokyo was devastated by the natural disaster. 80,000 residents in the surrounding area were evacuated; the area remains uninhabitable, and may remain that way for centuries.
There was only one nuclear reaction disaster greater than Fukushima. In 1986, a reactor which was flawed by design experienced a meltdown within the Chernobyl Plant. 30 plant workers died in the first few days; more followed, as radiation poisoning took their lives.
More than 220,000 surrounding residents were relocated. The governments of Ukraine and Russia have never revealed the number of people who died from cancers related to the disaster.
Previous to Chernobyl was the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in the United States. A malfunction in the cooling system caused the core temperature to rise. There was immediate reaction by the crew, but when a relief valve failed to close, and instrumentation failed to reveal that fact, much of the coolant drained away from the core causing severe damage. There were no serious injuries or deaths. The steam released by the reactor during the accident was lower in levels of radiation than those occurring naturally in the area of the reactor.
Fukushima poses a greater threat to other nations. Increased radioactivity released into the Pacific Ocean can contaminate sea life and pose a serious threat to the fishing industry. Some debris caused by the tsunami has already reached the West Coast of the United States.
Nuclear Power experts have little faith that Tepco has the expertise and ability to control the radiation inside Fukushima. There are even some who fear an additional melt down inside of reactors one and two.
Radioactive water continues to leak from reactor number three; and it is filtering directly into the Pacific Ocean as Fukushima is growing more dangerous.
By James Turnage