The powerful earthquake which hit Japan on 11th March 2011 caused a tsunami which added to the destruction of millions of people’s homes and livelihoods.  A consequence of this terrible natural disaster was a man-made disaster - a nuclear power plant which supplies electricity to thousands of homes was damaged.

Fukushima Daiichi, Nuclear Power Plant, Japan

The powerful earthquake which hit Japan on 11th March 2011 caused a tsunami which added to the destruction of millions of people’s homes and livelihoods.  A consequence of this terrible natural disaster was a man-made disaster - a nuclear power plant which supplies electricity to thousands of homes was damaged.

Not long after the disaster it was announced that radiation had been found in water in Japan’s capital city Tokyo and that it was unsafe for babies to drink.  Tokyo is 220km (136 miles) away from the radiation leak.

Scales such as the Richter scale which measures earthquakes, or Celsius which measures temperature, provide us with more information to help us understand what is going on.  The same applies to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) which measures how bad a nuclear event is.

The event was considered a Level 7 ‘Major Accident’ and can be compared to the worlds largest nuclear disaster which took place in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986.  

Although both accidents have been classified level 7, the emissions from the Chernobyl disaster far outweigh those from Fukushima.  But we are warned that the radioactivity released in Japan might eventually go beyond that emitted in Chernobyl.  At the time of the incident over 85,000 people were evacuated from their homes around the power plant.

The shutting down and halting of emissions and nuclear leaks from the plant may take as long as a decade.  There are concerns over leaking contaminated water which has leaked into the Pacific Ocean.  Radiation for the Fukushima accident was still being released into the atmosphere at the end of 2014, and it is expected that the fallout will reach its peak by the end of 2015.

Let’s take a look at what radiation is, what it means to life on earth, and why we have nuclear power stations...

Read More: What is Radiation

Related Resources