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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fukushima Anniversary, Mar. 11, 2012


It has been a year that the fuel cores of three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station on the northeast coast of Japan melted down in the wake of the the great Tōhoku-Chihou-Taiheiyou-Oki Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011.

The scale of this accident is rivaled only by those at Chernobyl, 1986, and at Three Mile Island, 1979. The precise amounts of the radioactive material released into air, land, and sea seem to rank second only to the releases at Chernobyl. Roughly 80,000 residents who used to live in the vicinity of the power station still can only return home for a few hours on occasion. The power station operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. constructed new cooling water loops for the damaged reactors, barely maintaining the water temperature below boiling. Clean-up operations are ongoing. The company estimates that the decommissioning of the obliterated reactors may take 30 years or more (press release entitled "Mid-and-long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Units 1-4, TEPCO" Dec. 21, 2011).

Over the past twelve months, I have published ten essays on the accident in an attempt to illuminate the social, medical, and technical implications of this disaster. On the occasion of its first anniversary, I compiled a small Kindle book with a collection of the ten extensively annotated, re-edited, and revised essays. New references, preface, prologue and epilogue were added.

The book with the title "Fukushima Ten Essays" is available through amazon.com. As a whole, the collection provides a more comprehensive view of the first year of the reactor crisis with the hope that the reader will glimpse the severity of its consequences.

The tragedy of the March 11 quake and tsunami resulted in the most horrific loss of life afflicting post-war Japan. Roughly 20,000 people perished, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Watch "Japan's year of struggle, in 60 seconds" by Reuters, Mar. 9, 2012.

The reactor meltdowns have reportedly caused no casualties to date. Despite, the widespread contamination of land and sea with long-lived radioisotopes emanating from the stricken reactors will impact life in Japan for decades to come.
One year ago this view looked different! Things Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station seems peaceful.
We must be grateful to the men who have been toiling at the nuclear power station exposed to no small levels of ionizing radiation, wearing filter masks and protective suits in summer heat and winter cold. They risk their lives every day in the effort of curbing this disaster and cleaning up the consequences.
A few minutes before 14:46 on March 11, 2012, Mount Fuji shrouded his head (view from Oshino Hakkai, courtesy fujigokoTV).

Furthermore, I extend my heart-felt sympathies to the people of Fukushima who must muster the courage every day to confront a future of crushing uncertainty. I wish them the best.

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