On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the northeast coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people. The tsunami destroyed more than 120 thousand buildings and forced more than 450 thousand people to live in temporary shelters. Damage to homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure reached an estimated $ 210 billion, making it the most costly natural disaster ever. The damage inflicted by the destructive power of the waves caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate and transform the surrounding areas into ghost towns. In Japan, where earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant hit together, Fukushima continues to heal its wounds rapidly as the traces of disasters diminish day by day on its ruined shores in the 10th year of the triple disaster. Here are the traces left by the triple disaster in Fukushima ..
Ten years ago, the 9-magnitude earthquake that hit the northeast coast of Japan today killed 18,000 people. Tsunami, which occurred due to the earthquake, destroyed dozens of neighborhoods, destroyed more than 120 thousand buildings and caused more than 450 thousand people to live in temporary shelters.
The tsunami also hit the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, causing three of the nuclear reactors to melt and look like a bombed factory. Japan emergency workers risked their lives trying to prevent one of history’s worst nuclear crises from spiraling out of control.
The 9-magnitude earthquake, which took place on March 11, 2011 at 14:46, was recorded as one of the largest earthquakes in history. Within half an hour after the earthquake in the open sea, tsunami waves hit the 400-kilometer-long beach. While waves of 19 meters high were recorded in the town of Miyako in the city of Iwate, in the Miyagi area, the tsunami hit up to 6 kilometers inland.
The National Police Service of Japan announced that 18,426 people died in the earthquake, most of them in the tsunami. While no traces of 2 thousand 527 of those who lost their lives are still found, authorities in Fukushima are still conducting searches at sea and along the coast to find the bodies of those who died.
As tsunami waves damaged the Daiichi nuclear power plant, 9 villages around the plant were evacuated immediately. Nearly half a million people in the northeastern region of Japan were forced to leave their homes due to both the tsunami and the nuclear threat. While 42 thousand 565 people, 35 thousand 725 of whom were in Fukushima, still cannot return home, although 10 years have passed since the disaster, many residents of the region are reluctant to return due to unemployment and ongoing radiation concerns.
In the 10 years since the disaster, the government of Japan announced that 32 trillion yen ($ 295 billion) was paid for the construction of walls, roads, houses by the sea, and support for affected people. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the destroyed nuclear power plant, says the total costs of decommissioning, evacuating and decontaminating radioactive materials outside the plant will total 21.5 trillion yen ($ 200 billion), analysts say it could be much more.
Much of the northeast coastline hit by the tsunami in Japan was reinforced by massive concrete sea walls 15 meters high. All the walls have been completed, except for the east coast sections of Fukushima. Regarding the walls, which will be 432 kilometers in total when completed, some people warned that the walls look like giant castles and obstruct the sea view, however, if the walls are broken by a future tsunami, there is the possibility of preventing the water from flowing back into the sea.
After the earthquake, the 17-meter-high tsunami waves hit the facility of the Daiichi nuclear power plant, destroying the power supply and cooling systems of the plant. It caused melts in reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the plant. A fourth reactor that was not damaged by the waves at the plant, along with two of the three molten reactors, underwent hydrogen explosions, emitted massive radiation and caused long-term contamination in the area. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said the tsunami was unpredictable, while the government and independent investigation companies described the disaster at the facility as a result of human security neglect, lax surveillance, as a result of the reports.
About 900 tonnes of molten nuclear fuel remain in the three damaged reactors, and its removal is a daunting task, officials say it will take 30-40 years. Critics say this period is overly optimistic. The melted fuels in reactors 1, 2 and 3 often went down to the bottom of the containment containers, mixing into the concrete foundation and making it difficult to remove. Plant chief Akira Ono says the inability to clearly see what’s going on inside the reactors means that the details about the melting fuel are still largely unknown.
About 4,000 workers work at the facility every day to help decommission the damaged nuclear power plant, according to one of the target critics being overly optimistic. Every day, workers treat the radioactive cooling water leaking from the reactors and clean up highly contaminated debris.
Since the disaster, cooling water has leaked from the damaged reactor containment vessels into the basements of the reactor buildings, where it is mixed with groundwater. Most of the water is treated and stored in the thousand giant tanks that are currently filling the factory. Operator TEPCO announced that the tanks currently contain 1.24 million tons of water and will be fully filled by the autumn of 2022. He says water and tanks should be removed to make room for facilities needed during the decommissioning process.