The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident

Science Progress 03/2014; 97(Pt 1):72-86. DOI: 10.3184/003685014X13904938571454
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Available from: Christopher J Rhodes, Nov 21, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: The release of radioactivity into the atmosphere from the Fukushima Daiichi accident has been estimated by Japan’s government as about one-tenth of that from the Chernobyl accident. The area in Japan contaminated with cesium-137—at the same levels that caused evacuation around Chernobyl—is also about one-tenth as large. The estimated number of resulting cancer deaths in the Fukushima area from contamination due to more than 1 curie per square kilometer is likely to scale correspondingly—on the order of 1,000. On March 16, 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission advised Americans in the region to evacuate out to 50 miles (NRC 2011a). If the Japanese government had made the same recommendation to its citizens, it would have resulted in the early evacuation of about two million people instead of 130,000. Because contaminated milk was interdicted in Japan, the number of (mostly non-fatal) thyroid cancer cases will probably be less than 1 percent of similar cases in Chernobyl. Unless properly dealt with, however, fear of ionizing radiation could have long-term psychological effects on a large portion of the population in the contaminated areas.
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 09/2011; 67(5):27-36. DOI:10.1177/0096340211421588 · 0.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The emerging crisis at the plant was complex, and, to make matters worse, it was exacerbated by communication gaps between the government and the nuclear industry. An independent investigation panel, established by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, reviewed how the government, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), and other relevant actors responded. In this article, the panel’s program director writes about their findings and how these players were thoroughly unprepared on almost every level for the cascading nuclear disaster. This lack of preparation was caused, in part, by a public myth of “absolute safety” that nuclear power proponents had nurtured over decades and was aggravated by dysfunction within and between government agencies and Tepco, particularly in regard to political leadership and crisis management. The investigation also found that the tsunami that began the nuclear disaster could and should have been anticipated and that ambiguity about the roles of public and private institutions in such a crisis was a factor in the poor response at Fukushima.
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 03/2012; 68(2):9-21. DOI:10.1177/0096340212440359 · 0.42 Impact Factor