It has been eight years now since the meltdowns, and the water just off the Dai-ichi plant still contains contamination that washed there from the plant. But, a little further away, Kitai-izumi Beach is now open again. It is a popular spot for surfers as it gets some of the best waves in Japan, as you can see in the photo.
A major problem at Fukushima Dai-ichi is the flow of groundwater through the plant from the surrounding hills. This water flows into the irradiated debris in the basements of the destroyed reactors and then from there into the sea.
Six years after the Fukushima meltdowns engineers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have succeeded in guiding a small robot to the heart of the heavily damaged Reactor 3 reactor and located the fuel which melted onto the floor of the reactor building. Earlier robots had failed, getting caught on debris or suffering circuit malfunctions from excess radiation (see previous blog about this).
Areas of Fukushima previously abandoned in March 2011 have been declared safe to return to. At the end of March, Japan lifted evacuation orders for residential areas, including abandoned towns, just 2.5 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But there is concern over a risk posed by new ‘residents’, hundreds of wild boars, who can attack people or cause potentially fatal car crashes.
A new report out from TEPCO reports that 15 workers at the plant have developed cancer (as of Mar 2017). These cancers are considered sufficiently linked to their work at the plant during the initial disaster and during the subsequent effort to regain control of the site. So far TEPCO has only acknowledged one such worker as having gotten cancer as a result of working at the site.
Its been six years since the meltdowns occured. There is now no radioactivity in the air. A little bit is seeping, via groundwater, into the ocean but that only affects the immediate Pacific off the Fukushima coast.
The first half of my book deals with nuclear energy, first as related to the Fukushima crisis, then with nuclear energy in general. The book then looks at renewables and renewable energy in the context of current and future global warming and climate change.
The radiation levels in Fukushima’s unit two reactor building are so high they could kill a human in two minutes, according to data collected by a robot.
Tokyo Electric Power, the company which operates the nuclear plant in Fukushima, carried out a robotic survey of the area around the core that melted six years ago, following the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear accident.
The image above is me on the top of Mount Fuji shortly after the sunrise. Note the gloves and hat – even in early September, when it’s hot and humid at ground level, its cold with a nasty wind chill factor on the top of Fuji-san, even after sunrise. It didn’t stop me getting sunburned on the way down though! You can see more photos of that trek here on my other site Tokyo Tales 365.