Two years ago today, a tsunami hurtled towards Japan’s Pacific coastline following a major oceanic earthquake 60m offshore. Up to 132.5 ft in height in some places, the giant wave destroyed almost everything in its path, causing more than 18,000 deaths and $145bn damage.
By far the greatest issue raised by the tsunami was the damage inflicted to the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the East coast of Japan. It was one of the 25 biggest nuclear power plants in the world and provided seemingly sustainable energy for the Japanese people. Being an island, and a very populated island at that, Japan is always facing problems with energy provision. Nuclear energy is the main source of electricity for the population as it is cheap and efficient in producing energy for large numbers of people, whilst requiring minimal space.
After the earthquake, the nuclear reactors went into automatic shut down as a safety precaution and although costing the group that ran the power plant TEPCO millions of dollars, all seemed well. Disaster struck when the tsunami hit the power plant, flooding the reactors, causing major problems and a risk of a nuclear radiation disaster. The area was declared a “First Level Emergency” and has since been dubbed the “worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl“.
Two years on, the area surrounding the nuclear power plant is still restricted. The local towns are deserted with residents only being allowed in for short periods to minimise the risk of nuclear radiation poisoning. Although according to The Guardian, one third of women from one of the affected areas were found to have levels of the chemical Caesium in their breast milk, which is produced as waste from a nuclear fission reaction showing evidence of nuclear radiation in their bodies.
The government has been criticised for its lack of urgency in the clean up process. The following photos show everything left as it was after the disaster, including children’s bags abandoned in a school in one of the affected areas. 150, 000 people still remain displaced 24 months after the event. TEPCO apparently is providing compensation for these people, however many are yet to receive this and the health problems ensued could prove to be of much more importance in the future.