An Analysis of the Fukushima Disaster 5 Years Later

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Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant | F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems

Fukushima, Japan -- Five years after the Fukushima disaster that caused radioactive material to be distributed across the region, University of Chicago adjunct Professor Kennette Benedict analyzed what went wrong.

Despite decontamination efforts, the increase in thyroid cancer shows that the health of children has been compromised.  Food supplies from the agricultural region have been compromised as well as wildlife, fisheries, and ground water has been compromised.

Public trust has also been compromised because the communities are not fully believing the stories coming from the government, corporate leadership, or medical experts.

The process for Japan to get past this disaster is extremely slow.  The plant has not even started decommissioning because the damaged core has not been reached yet.  The radiation is much too high for workers to enter the damaged reactor housing.  Robots that have been created to enter the space have broken down because of the high radiation.  Currently, it is estimated that it will take 50 to 75 years and $250 billion to decommission the plant and clean up the area.

What are the three myths that Kennette Benedict found?

1.  Nuclear power is absolutely safe:  Because of the myth that nuclear power is safe, it led to a culture of "good enough."  Even though evidence showed that if there was a tsunami, the power plant would be in danger, the plant officials ignored it. 

2.  Human operators and complex technology are the best combination:  When humans and complex technology combine, no matter how safe the design, human error can complicate the system.

3.   The probability of a nuclear disaster is low:  While this is true, the consequences of a nuclear disaster are high.  It effects health, families, communities, energy supply, economies, and society for a very long time.

Read the full story here. 

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