The Tokohuma earthquake in Japan occurred in 2011 on March. It occurred in the Pacific Ocean where it caused a huge tsunami that was very devastating. The earthquake was the largest ever recorded in Japan and the fourth largest in the world. It produced a tsunami of sixteen metres high. What’s more is that the tsunami hit Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan that caused an explosion which produced radioactive contamination which spread over Japan and the surrounding areas affecting the air, soil as well as the water. This disastrous event had adverse effects on Japan as a country as well as the surrounding areas, economically, politically and health wise.
Black swan and black elephant
Nuclear energy is clean and efficient energy. However it uses nuclear materials that require high expertise and technology that sometimes becomes very difficult to safeguard and handle. These nuclear materials were released after the impact and spread. This has been considered bigger than the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. It has been called a black swan which is a situation characterised by its high impact, unpredictable in nature and without any sort of expectations. The earthquake was the largest ever recorded in Japan with a tsunami causing waves as high as sixteen metres high. One thing about this incident is that engineers and seismologists had warned of impacts of natural disasters on the nuclear power plants in the country. However, no action was taken, and the warnings disregarded. This has been depicted as the black elephant whereby the problem was visible, but no action taken (Moller and Wikman-Svahn 2011).
Women breast milk samples showing traces of radioactive contaminants indicating level of spread
The disastrous event had adverse effects on the environment. It caused contamination to the air, water and soil. It produced radioactive plume that spread to great distances in the country as well as beyond. Most of the contaminants get absorbed through biological systems. Humans get them through egesting during eating, drinking and also breathing from the air. One example of a contaminant is radioactive iodine that has been found in breast milk of women. These contaminants are very harmful and cause cancer. Furthermore, the milk is given to young children as food, therefore, contaminating more and more people. Research on contamination through testing breast milk samples showed that contamination through the air was very widespread in the country (Unno et al 2012).
Wild Japanese monkeys having been contaminated through feeding on tree barks
Another evidence that shows the extent of the effect of the Fukushima accident is the level of radioactive materials in their systems. Scientists have measured concentration of radioactive radio-caesium from muscle cells of Japanese wild monkeys. Results throughout time show changes in the concentrations of these contaminants. They have also done the same with concentration of these contaminants in the soils. They then tried to show comparison between the two and draw out the relationship that they form. It showed that the concentration between the muscle cells of the monkeys and the soils has been directly proportional and has been increasing throughout time since the disastrous event. It explains that the monkeys get contaminated through feeding on tree barks in the forests. The trees were contaminated through contaminated water and soils (Hayama et al 2013).
Impact of the disaster on rural organic farmers in Japan
The Fukushima nuclear plant event had adverse effects on organic farming in Japan especially the north-eastern parts of the country considered as its breadbasket and which is mostly rural. It affected food availability as a result of the nuclear disaster. This is mostly because of their methods of farming which is mostly organic rather than synthetic as far as nutrient management is concerned. Organic farming has an effect of intensifying the contamination through accumulation and also exposes more radiation. The effect it had on the rural areas was coupled with different interpretations of the situations that led to differences in the society mostly gender differences. These differences were caused by the different gender roles assigned to men and women in the society. Men were more associated with the farmlands. They were, therefore, susceptible to radioactive contamination compared to women for which, cases were fewer. The women were healthier and had higher mortality than men. However, these conclusions were inappropriate and highly politically misleading and, therefore, there was a great need for more examination and development of further conclusions that mediate between the femininity and masculinity in the society (Kimura and Katano2013).
The 2011 incident was a big disaster. The radiation plume spread rapidly and contaminated the soil, water and air causing massive pollution that was posing lots of threats to the local people. The Japanese took care of the situation by first evacuating the most affected people and putting them somewhere else safer and less affected. The state of pollution in Japan become bad and was like back in the days in the 1960s when Japan was considered the worst polluted place on earth. Because of this, people started to protest for more changes to done such as far as pollution control is concerned. For this reasons the government tightened its control measures about safeguarding the peoples health’s and reduce the risk of a melt down by use of more advanced technologies that would counter and help control the effects of catastrophic events even more severe than that which took place in 2011. They also had to tighten their policies with regard to handling nuclear energy productions in the country. They also had to close the nuclear blind spot in the Japanese activism through more research as well as more scrutiny through developing special committees and other groups mandated to come up with strategies that provide preventive ways in case such a disastrous event happens (Avenell 2012).
Measures by the government to re3duce contamination mainly cleaning the soil
Immediate action was necessary in order to control the situation. The government of Japan began measures to decontaminate the area using several methods. One positive thing is that the clay in the soil was very significant in controlling pollution. Clay has property of absorbing the radioactive caesium. After absorption, these contaminants are held and cannot be absorbed by plants. For this reason, contamination is very limited. However, not all parts of the soil are covered with clay and also the clay has to be removed. The government did this by removing the soil in the parts greatly affected and washing with water to remove the contaminants, for example schools in Fukushima and other areas (Ishii et al 2012).
The resettlement of people back to the areas affected after short term radioactive risks have been removed
After the accident, evacuations took place to reduce effects of short term health problems to the people such as tumours and other malignant growths. After a while, decontamination took place, and the short term threats removed. This provided the government with an opportunity to resettle people again back to where they were since now only long term effects that were only mild and did not pose threats to the people. The couple this with control measures such as food control as well as regular testing (Tsubokura 2013).
Decontamination process is a very complex and expensive process
Despite efforts by the government to decontaminate the areas, there had been reports of contamination leaks into the water and soil in the Fukushima area with no evidence of how it is happening and why. This was a very big set back after what the country was going through, with its major efforts to decontaminate the area. The levels of leaks had been considered high and could cause lots of harm. This was reported to have been taking place two years after the accident in 2011. It put the country back to the process of more research and application of technologies to find more effective ways to reduce this contamination. This is a very expensive venture, and it has been estimated that the whole process of decontamination cost the Japanese economy fifty billion US dollars, for a thorough clean up. This would have great implications on the economy, health sector as well as its political sector (Fukushima could have been leaking for two years 2013).
Recommendations that involve combining various aspects such as nature, technology and politics
Various technologies have been used throughout history by Japan for safeguarding the risks associated with nuclear energy production, with time resulting to advancing in the types and methods of technologies used. However, there were shortcomings during the event of the 2011 earthquake whereby there was inadequate technology to hold the reactors firmly in good, position to prevent a meltdown. Various suggestions after the event include the use of frameworks such as the normal accidents by Charles Perrow and technological systems by Thomas Parke Hughes. These frameworks blend in the aspect of ecological and technological systems which combine technology, nature as well as politics into the process of safeguarding nuclear energy productions in the country (Pritchard 2012).
The disastrous event at Fukushima in 2011 cause by an earthquake leading to a tsunami was a very catastrophic event for Japan as well as its surrounding. It was a very high impact that was unpredictable and beyond anyone’s control. However, there were various warnings about probable earthquakes and their effects on the nuclear power plants but were disregarded, a situation called the black elephant. For this reason the impact was devastating with implications affecting major sectors of the country mainly, health sector, economic sector and political sector. The contamination spread throughout the country and several evidences to show this include presence of the contaminants in breast milk which showed how far it had spread. Also, traces of contaminants were found in the muscle cells of monkeys which showed that they got it from feeding on tree barks which had absorbed the contaminants from the soil.
However, the government took measures to decontaminate the areas such as evacuation of people from affected areas, regular testing for constant monitoring, decontaminating the soil by removing it and washing with water. Another measure involved politics where the government had to put in place strict measures to help safeguard nuclear energy production in terms of safety, maintenance as well as strength, durability and susceptibility of the nuclear reactors to such situations if they ever happen again, which is very probable since Japan is found in a very seismic prone area of the world. One recommendation of the whole problematic situation is the integration of ecological as well as technological systems in the management of nuclear energy production that would see incorporation of aspects such as nature, advanced technologies as well as good policies and laws governing the energy production.
This research explains the shortcomings that come with exploiting nuclear energy for production. Nuclear energy is clean and efficient form of energy that is highly recommended throughout the world as an alternative energy source that is environmental friendly, as opposed to use of fossil fuels which cause a lot of pollution to the environment. However nuclear energy production involves the use of radioactive materials which are very big pollutants with adverse effects in case of contamination. With the fact that Japan is seismic prone region, it is hard to understand why nuclear plants are established there anyway. With devastating outcomes such as that in 2011, establishment of alternative forms of energy is crucial. Safer, cleaner and cheaper forms of energy are mandatory. They include geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind and tidal energy. These are far safer methods of energy exploitation that are cleaner and very environmental friend and could easily be alternatives to nuclear energy production. It would very much helpful to reduce effects such as those in Fukushima after the earthquake and tsunami.
This research will very much try to explain and describe the viability of use of alternative forms of energy in Japan such as wind, solar, tidal waves, geothermal and hydroelectric energy production, evaluating the costs together with the benefits they have and their impacts on the environment, economy as well as politics of Japan. The main methods to use during the research would be the use of interviews, questionnaires to gather information from government officials and technical people about energy production in Japan. Another method is through analysis of records and published information about energy production that would shed some light on the viability of use of the alternative forms, their possible impacts, as well as sustainability.
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Fukushima could have been leaking for two years. (2013). TCE: The Chemical Engineer, (866), 12.
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