Reminder, how it happened
For those who already forgot, in March 2011, the nuclear plant of Fukushima was hit by an enormous tsunami and a series of dramatic earthquakes. The damage caused equipment failures, and three nuclear meltdowns leading to releases of radioactive materials. Sure, we all heard about it a lot when it happened, but what about today ?
Rumours of Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) falsifying official radiation figures have been confirmed for a while, and the Japanese government is still trying to maintain a sense of security, even though the situation is so dire.
To make matters worse, most media have stopped covering the events, as the initial buzz has passed.
Fukushima current state
Utilizing “cosmic ray muon radiography with nuclear emulsion”, researchers looked inside the reactors at Fukushima. They found out that the fuel in one of the reactors was missing : “The researchers say further analyses are needed to determine whether molten fuel penetrated the reactor and fell down”. In short, researchers do not yet know if the molten fuel has penetrated the base beyond the containment vessel, going below the ground.
High-level nuclear waste is incredibly poisonous. If leaked and not contained, it could spread and make large areas uninhabitable for over a century.
Probably the biggest issue of Fukushima is the water flowing through the nuclear infected zone. As shown in this graph, after all these years, they still cannot contain this much water. This has been leading to extreme pollution of the ocean near Fukushima, and currents have been spreading this water all over the pacific ocean.
Present impact on environment
While direct impact on most human food has not been observed, researchers have found that species in a 1000 km area consume irradiated food. “Wildlife has probably been damaged even at relatively low doses of radiation, and our research showed that sensitivity varies among individuals within a species,” says Professor Joji Otaki, one of the researchers.
According to research, butterflies are the most affected by the newly radioactive plants.
All in all, human food is safe for consumption for now, but as the leaks continue, the effect on wildlife may become bad enough to impact humans.
Though the effect of radiation has been greatly dispersed due to the strong currents in the pacific, fish with traces of radiation poisoning have been observed recently. For now, it seems that the poisoning is minor but some species have shown unusual mutations. The rate the water is leaking from the powerplant is a growing concern, and with the Japanese government in denial, ocean life in the Pacific is extremely at risk.
Future impact on society
Experts believe we will see a rise in cancer development all over Japan in the coming years, but the reality is that we really don’t know. Low radiation exposure hasn’t been observed enough to predict precisely what’ll happen. But if the Japanese government continues to refuse help and denies the danger of the situation, the consequences could be irreversible.