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Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster Essay

1967 words - 8 pages

Nuclear disasters set precedence for one of the most difficult disasters people may deal with. The duration of these disasters have lasting effects for generations and present an astronomical cost to man and the environment. Significant damage will persist from the nuclear disaster which occurred at the Nuclear Power Plant Fukushima Daiichi. With the nuclear revolution only in its infancy, our ability to cope with these incidents is limited to our experiences of the Three Mile Island reactor meltdown and the events in Chernobyl Ukraine. With so few instances of major nuclear disasters taking place, the Fukushima disaster presents many significant and exceptional challenges for Japan and the rest of the world. Several aspects unique to, but not limited to nuclear disasters are damage assessment, debris removal and media interaction with authorities throughout the emergency management process.
On 11 March 2011 the Tohuku earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the coast of Japan causing one of the most expensive disasters in human history. The earthquake is often referred to as the “Great East Japan Earthquake,” which measured 9.0-magnitude (Zhang 1). The tsunami, created by the earthquake sent powerful waves into the land mass of Japan, devastating many coastal areas. Recognized as one of the most powerful earthquakes to have been recorded in modern times, The Tohoku earthquake and related effects resulted in an estimated $235 billion in damages (Zhang 1). Located along the North-East coast of Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, managed by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was one of the most distinct pieces of infrastructure damaged in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.
Initially after detection of the earth quake the reactors were shut down. The process of shutting the nuclear reaction within a reactor is the process in which control rods are inserted into the core ceasing fission reaction between the uranium oxide rods within the core. Although the fission reaction occurring within the core of the reactor had ceased, between the uranium oxide rods, byproducts/decay of the nuclear reaction continued to react and heat the reactor. Fukushima Nuclear Power plant stood directly in the path of the tsunami created by the earthquake.
The facility was struck by a 15 meter tsunami which damaged the power supplies to the cooling units for Reactor Units One, Two and Three (Extraction 1). Control rods indeed ceased fission reactions within reactors 1-3; however, resonating heat produced by the byproducts within the chambers contributed to a meltdown and subsequent explosions caused by excess hydrogen from super-heated steam (Biello 1).Explosions within the facilities resulted in the reactors exposure to the outside emitting contaminants into the atmosphere. Flooding within the reactors has also contributed to groundwater contaminants. This reaction and meltdown is recognized as the same cause for the Three Mile Island incident...

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