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Impact of the Fukushima disaster is still felt today


It is more than 15 months since the meltdown of four nuclear reactors in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

Yet the impact of the disaster is still being felt across the globe.

The meltdown followed the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011.

It could be more than 20 years until some of the surrounding areas are again fit for human habitation.

And contamination from the disaster continues to show up further and further away from Japan.

Just last month bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California were found to have radioactive contamination from Fukushima.

Meanwhile wind, rain and ocean currents have carried radioactive particles as far as Scotland and Australia.

Radioactive material could also be among the wave of tsunami debris that is slowly making its way towards the Canadian coast.

Spent fuel from the reactors is still emitting radiation.

Some of it is covered only by plastic.

Died

And thousands of tons of water used to cool the reactors continues to pour into the Pacific Ocean.

Six workers have so far died in the clean-up of the plant.

US nuclear scientist Frank von Nippel estimates that around 1,000 people will die of cancer as a result of the disaster.

He says that 573 “disaster-related” deaths have already been logged around Fukushima.

The disaster led to a wave of revulsion against nuclear power around the world.

The German government has abandoned its nuclear programme amid mass protests.

Italian voters have firmly rejected nuclear power in referendums and France could soon follow.

In Japan itself more than 20,000 people marked the anniversary of the tsunami new anti-nuclear protests.

The last of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors shut down last month.

But the government—which, along with the Tepco electricity company, has been blamed for the disaster—hopes to bring them back online.

And industry officials say they want to start producing more plutonium-based fuel for a new generation of reactors.


Article information

Background Check
Tue 5 Jun 2012, 17:15 BST
Issue No. 2306
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