March 7th, 2017
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan suffered a triple meltdown in 2011, people around the world were understandably in a panic about the environmental and health impact of the crisis. Throughout the following year, consistent reports of the disaster spread across newswires, shocking the public with the extent of the damage and ongoing radioactive contamination.
Even so, the situation gradually began to fade into the background as years passed and other news took center stage. But the problem of Fukushima hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s become much more serious. In early February of this year, extremely high radiation levels recorded within the plant have brought us face-to-face with the reality that Fukushima continues to be a radioactive nightmare that threatens our environment, ecology and health for generations to come.
On March 11, 2011, a huge tsunami slammed into Japan’s northeast coast, which left more than 20,000 people dead or missing and caused the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima plant. It was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
Last December, Japan’s government announced the total estimated cost of the disaster will reach 21.5 trillion yen ($190 billion) — including compensation, decommissioning and decontamination of the surrounding area, as well as storing radioactive waste. The work of dismantling the plant is slated to begin in 2021 and is expected to be take four decades to complete, in the year 2061 — half a century after the initial meltdown.
With the latest radiation reading of 530 sieverts an hour, described by experts as “unimaginable” and far higher than the previous record in 2012 of 73 sieverts an hour, the extraordinary task of decommissioning the plant, and the obstacles confronting thousands of workers, is staggering in its scope.
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