Terrible Catastrophe in Japan
Terrible Catastrophe in Japan
  • Reporter Chung Sung-joon
  • 승인 2013.11.06 14:36
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“This time no one dropped a bomb on us… We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives” - Haruki Murakami
It has been two and a half years since the Fukushima Nuclear Fallout in Japan and it seems most people across the world have already forgotten about it, with little awareness of its aftermath. One may merely consider this as an insignificant event on the other side of the globe and believe it will have no consequences. However, the horrible truth is that the event is still ongoing and no one is safe.
A spark of fire ignited when an earthquake of magnitude 9 redundant scale struck off Japan’s north-east coast on March 11, 2011. This eventually led to an onset of tsunami waves which hit the nuclear power plants despite having a 5 meter-tall sea barrier built solely to withstand tsunamis. Just like any other power plants, those in Fukushima are also well-equipped with sets of defensive systems designed to ensure that nuclear waste and nuclear fuel in reactor cores are cooled down in case of unseen events. However, the devastating impact of the tsunami caused the entire system to malfunction, causing a meltdown. As a result, countless radioactive substances with long half-lives (such as plutonium, caesium, and strontium) were released into the atmosphere and ocean.
The disaster continued to worsen due to Japan’s inactive clean-up procedures - plant number 1, 2, 3 and 4 broke down consecutively after the fallout and 300 tons of contaminated water has since been spilling into the Pacific Ocean daily. Japan recently announced to take actions by building frozen walls beneath the nuclear power plants to minimize further damage but it is still unanswered if it would contribute much in stopping future adiation leaks.
Unfortunately, the two-and-a-half-year exposure to radiation has caused damage beyond repair. Radioactive substances in the water have already spread to major neighboring countries via water currents. For instance, Korea, China and Russia are questioning whether it is safe to consume sea foods. According to research teams in Korea and Japan, the Kuroshio Current that flows into the Pacific Ocean drives the contaminated water away from Korea, and the fact that fishes caught in Korea have different nidus from that of Japan makes it unlikely for marine life near the Korean peninsula to be exposed.
Within a 60-kilometer radius from Fukushima, abnormal flora and fauna have been noticed since the disaster, including rabbits without ears, palm-sized snails and finger-resembling eggplants, as a result of random genetic mutation due to radiation exposure. How then, would it affect human beings? Scientists in general, warn that even a small dose of radioactive substances in food can mutate and damage our DNA, which could lead to metastasis in lungs, thyroid glands and lymphocytes. The only difference is that small doses retard the whole process- this is one reason that there is no proper ‘danger’ limit regarding the quantity of radiation in food. The only way to avoid cancer is to avoid exposure to radiation.
Since the Fukushima nuclear plants still have the potential to cause 10 to 25 times more damage than Chernobyl fallout, one should reflect and be conscious of the dangers of radiation exposure.