On March 11, 2011 – A 9.0 earthquake named the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami hit Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. This is only the second quake to measure a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (along with Chernobyl). The International Atomic Energy Agency (a U.N. group) devised this grading.
This event destroyed back-up generators and disabled the cooling systems for Fukushima Daiichi (Daiichi means number one) and Fukushima Daini (number two location, a little way south of Daiichi).
At Daini, the four reactors automatically shut down. Daiichi had a half-meltdown and is being worked to eventually shut down but it will be decades. A nuclear meltdown is core damage from overheating. The core of the reactor is nuclear fuel – in the form of uranium rods – which must be continually cooled to prevent meltdown. This description is very “simple.” A true understanding of nuclear fuel, energy, and its methods would need more explanation than is ideal for a blog post.
My reason for this post is that I realized that I rarely hear about this Japanese nuclear plant in the news anymore. Why? It is not under an international emergency status anymore but is still very much a leaking, nuclear emergency. Yes, it’s leaking. I hardly think a plastic lining will keep the radioactive water it leaks from making it to the surrounding areas.
In fact, radioactivity levels are blamed for hypothyroidism in newborn babies all along the west coast of America. That’s right, our own country. Radioactivity in the form of precipitation fell on the west coast – spreading the problems.
The plant has been called “stable” but is far from being safe and is still very much contaminated and dangerous. Why aren’t we hearing more about it? The Japanese government has banned the purchase/sale of foods grown in the 12-20-mile area around the nuclear plants. I hardly think a few miles is a sufficient area of safety but what do I know? I’m neither a nuclear engineer nor a chemist.
I know the quake wasn’t what we normally see. Geologists were puzzled at its behavior and size. It was definitely a mega-quake. Now we see that any subduction zone (where 2 plates meet) can produce quakes like the Tohoku one. In fact, a large quake is expected (any day) that would devastate Tokyo. Scary thought. California seismologists are thinking that haven’t kept records on quakes long enough to have ever predicted a 9.0 for Japan (plate tectonics is said to be 4 billion years old). Lesson: faults are NOT predictable.
We keep poisoning our lands and waters. We know mother nature has her own agenda. We know the dangers, yet we keep “accidentally” feeding our waters and lands with oil, radioactive chemicals, and any other “leaks” which may happen. And we say, “Oops” and try to clean up our mess – unsuccessfully.
I look outside my window and see a sunny day, greening spring grass, and I can only hope the invisible air I breathe is clean enough.