Japan Nuclear And Earthquake-Tsunami Disaster Anniversary: 2011~2013   39 comments

Japan Nuclear Disaster And Earthquake-Tsunami 2011~2013

“I bowed and begged them to stay…”

Two years ago today the Japanese people were reeling from the nightmare of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake – the most powerful one ever recorded in Japan, and the 30-foot wave tsunami that crashed as much as 6 miles inshore on March 11 2011; It was a nightmare that killed in the region of 20,000 people and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl disaster 27 years ago.

Fukushima Nuclear Plant...Remembering...

Whilst the atomic accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant did not actually claim any lives it has left tens of thousands of people driven from their homes in a mass evacuation and reduced whole towns to an uninhabitable state as a consequence of the dangerous radiation levels. A situation that will probably last for many decades to come.

                     Fukushima-radiation-could-be-ocean-risk  Japanese Evacuees  Contamination

A report compiled by America’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations highlights the heroism of workers at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the disaster’s aftermath, which saw three reactors go into full nuclear meltdown…

“The plant’s back-up generators also failed, leaving most of the facility with no power. Workers struggled to cool the overheating reactors in ‘complete darkness’ while hundreds of aftershocks rocked the area, including two of greater than 7.0 magnitude. The workers persisted in their efforts despite ‘elevated and continuously changing dose rates and contamination levels,’ the report said. Food shortages meant they were given only a biscuit for breakfast and a bowl of noodles for dinner. Many slept on the floor. Some of the workers had lost their homes and families to the tsunami, but continued to toil at the crippled nuclear plant. Some operators volunteered to perform dangerous jobs, the report notes, while many had no formal training for the tasks they were attempting. They relied on "creativity" and "unconventional or unique methods to deal with ‘conditions that were beyond the design basis for the station.’ “ ~ America’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations

Reactor Explosions and Fires

No. 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered an explosion when cooling systems in the Unit failed and pressure inside the reactor soared. Reactor Units Nos. 1 and 3 were blasted by hydrogen explosions which blew the roof off No. 1 unit and tore No 3 reactor apart, and a fire broke out in reactor No. 4 spent fuel storage pond.

                  

  No 4 reactor building Fukushima  FukDaic1 Reactor building covered by steel frame

Masao Yoshida then Fukushima Daiichi plant chief told state broadcaster NHK: "In the first week immediately after the accident I thought a few times ‘I’m going to die.”

Making reference to the explosion of hydrogen that ripped the buildings around rectors 1 and 3 to shreds, he added: "I thought it was all over.”

In a provisional report released by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Masao described how he was forced to face the fact that they had a full blown disaster on their hands “When lights flickered and went out, including those on the control panels.”

fukushima-control-reactor

"I came to realise a tsunami had hit the site as one of the workers rushed into the room, shouting ‘Sea water is gushing in!’ I felt totally at a loss after losing power sources. Other workers appeared anxious. They argued, and one asked: ‘Is there any reason for us to be here when there is nothing we can do to control (the reactors)?’ I bowed and begged them to stay.

As immobilised electrical and cooling systems at the nuclear power plant ground to a halt the largely unsung heroes – the heroic plant workers – in a terrifyingly high risk situation took life-threatening health risks in a desperate, punishing bid to prevent a worse nuclear disaster.

The beleaguered, under fire operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant released accounts from the plant workers’ themselves describing some of their most desperate moments as they struggled and fought to bring the stricken nuclear plant under control…

                No 4 reactor at Fuk Dai plant  Fukushima 11 March 2012 Credit Reuters_Kyodo 

  • Overwhelming challenges as workers endeavoured to manually open a ventilation valve in a vital effort to discharge pressure from a reactor container.

"We put on the full protection gear but couldn’t possibly let young workers do the task, as we had to go into an area where the radiation levels were high. When I got to the place to open the valve, I heard eerie, deep popping noise from the torus (a donut-shaped structure at the bottom of the reactor). When I put one of my feet on the torus to reach the valve, my black rubber boot melted and slipped (due to the heat).” one worker recalled.

  • Dire working conditions as they strove relentlessly to combat the dangerously unstable and crippled nuclear plant.

"We experienced big aftershocks, and many times we had to run up a hill in desperation (fearing a tsunami) with the full-face mask still on,” one worker said.

  • Race against time to set down power cables and reinstate the electric supply:

"We finished the work (in one section) in several hours, although it usually requires one month or two. It was an operation we had to do in puddles, fearing electrification,” the worker said.

  • Explosions and fires at the plant give a free rein to the release of critically hazardous radiation levels, compelling TEPCO to evacuate all but a handful of brave and desperately needed workers, out of a nuclear workforce of hundreds.

                   Fukushima Nuclear Plant Workers  Credit: Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO): radioactive water on the floor inside the building of a water treatment facility at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.  Fukushima No2 Reactor torus room_Credit: REUTERS

Those workers became known as the "The Fukushima Fifty”, but the final numbers of workers risking lives and health to join the battle increased by thousands who were also joined by partner company technicians, the likes of Toshiba and Hitachi.

They undertook the commission of ensuring the steady flow of cooling water streaming into the six plant reactors, three of which none-the-less were later to undergo overheating and ultimate melted down.

Cooling System Failures at Japan’s Power Plants

“Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March” ~ Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters (Japan}

“Nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis whilst fuel rods at the heart of reactor No. 1 melted almost completely in the first 16 hours after the disaster struck.”

A time to remember...2011~2013Fukushima Explosion

“We Came Close To Losing Northern Japan”

~Tokyo Electric Power Co.

39 responses to “Japan Nuclear And Earthquake-Tsunami Disaster Anniversary: 2011~2013

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  1. Oh dear, wow – have heard the plant could not withstand another hit, I hope we never ever have to find out!

    • I hope we don’t either! Because I’m quite sure it COULDN’T withstand another hit. Shame the world is burying it’s collective head in the sand and choosing largely to not think about it… they need to think…before it’s too late and we don’t exist anymore to think about anything.

  2. I recall following this minute by minute – one of the scariest disasters ever.

    In my opinion, it was worst than the Asian Tsunami of 2004. I know, that killed a quarter million or more. But that was Nature and she has a way of balancing out. The nuclear debacle, though triggered by the tsunami, was man playing with sciences they cannot fully control or even understand – there was no stopping where it could have ended. Some might disagree but this is my take.

    The Japanese people, as a whole, came through as remarkably disciplined and focussed.

    • I’m totally with you on this one Eric…It WAS “one of the scariest disasters ever.” I suspect the world in general didn’t believe that anything even close to the Chernobyl disaster could ever happen again…improved technology…etc etc…how little we know and understand in truth.

      I think the Japanese people have a lot of self discipline and I agree they are remarkably focussed, but so many from the exclusion zone are still living in temporary accomodation, displaced and with no idea what the future may hold, knowing the likelihood of returning to their homes is now virtually non-existent. Suicide is, I understand a big problem as soul-destroying depression sets in…not something widely reported is it? But it’s happening…too many people don’t understand the importance of their being able to return to the lands of their fathers and forefathers as it were…the culture being very different to ours I find many people cannot conceive of the difficulties and depression this can lead to for those still suffering in Japan today…my heart goes out to them all…

  3. They were very brave to work as they did and we have heard very little about them.

    • No we don’t Clowie…makes me angry when you think about the nightmarish scenario they were thrown into and the risks they took trying to stabilise the plant under dreadful conditions, not knowing whether they would survive at the end of the day. The consequences for all concerned in Japan, and beyond have been awful but these guys at the Fukushima nuclear plant just seem to have been forgotten despite their continuing battle to make it safe. They deserved at the very least a mention and I’m happy that I was able to do so. They deserve respect for their selfless bravery and yet they seem to be in danger of being forgotten. But this should not be so. Without them the situation at Fukushima could have been terrifyingly different…and it’s bad enough as it is. I hope the world will remember and honour them and their actions and not forget….

  4. So many brave souls who put their own safety to one side for the saving of the many.. True heroes … A lesson for all the world in the dangers of what can go wrong with Nuclear Power… I still cannot comprehend how we can still want to continue building reactors to a substance we can not control and never be safe of its waste products… I still feel that in years to come much more damage of this disaster will still be making head-lines although at the moment its mostly gone quiet because of the horrendous consequences of nuclear accidents are not doing the nuclear power industry any good. And yet still its being promoted and ‘Clean’ energy.. which makes you laugh! if it wasn’t so darn serious
    A great informative post Wolfie … Sue

    • Hi Sue, yes…they are true heroes and they deserve far more recognition for their efforts to control a nightmarish disaster under horrendous conditions, than thay ever actually get. The world is very selfish and unfair sometimes. I have tried here, to make a small contribution to righting that wrong, albeit very, very small, but it saddens my heart the way we so easily forget these brave people. Neither is it well mentioned that many Japanese pensioners volunteered to go in to work at the Fukushima N-plant to save the younger men with families/future-families-in-mind from the ravages of radiation exposure, in the hope they would have future and children, to look forward to…it grieves me deeply that such people as these are being brushed under the metaphorical rug in what seems like, the hope they will be quietly forgotten…that must never happen!! xx

  5. Excellentpost, coverage of the issue and photos….We just had an earthquake about 40 minutes ago, not big, not trivial either…cheers to you & Wolfie!

    • That IS scary! I trust you are safe and ok? I’ve just visited your latest blog post so I guess you must have survived! But what a frightening experience…I take it you have no nuclear reactors sitting on fault lines….? Stay safe and I sincerely hope you don’t have anymore earthquakes…Non-quaking Wolfie hugs to assist in the business of being safe and secure!🙂

  6. I remember watching this on the news reports, Icewolf, and recall seeing in one report a mushroom shaped cloud rise after a flash blast at the plant, and I instantly thought it had gone up. Terrifying…

    • It was terrifying Aquatom…the thought of another Chernobyl is terrifying too…fukushima may not be widely reported in the news now but it wouldn’t take a lot for a catastrophic distaster on top of the last one destroy it completely…we know not with what we play….

  7. Hallo liebe Wolfie,eine schlimme Sache die dort passiert ist,wollen wir mal hoffen das so was nicht noch mal in solch einen Ausmaß basiert.Ich wünsche dir einen schönen Tag,und gute Woche,leider ist das Frühjahr wieder gegangen der Winder ist wieder da.Grüße und Freundschaft von mir.Gislinde

    • Danke liebe Gislinde …
      Es war in der Tat eine schreckliche Sache, die hier passiert ist …
      Viele Japaner zahlen immer noch den Preis dieser Tag heute.
      Ich hoffe, dass wir vielleicht lernen, mehr Respekt für diese Energiequelle haben
      Denn wir wissen nicht, was wir spielen …
      Der Frühling ist zurück zu Winter hier auch weg.
      Schnee und wilden Winde!
      Gestern war der kälteste Tag im März in 27 Jahre!
      Wolfie Umarmungen🙂

  8. I saw an article, that said they were concerned it could not stand another earthquake or Tsuami

  9. wowey wow wow this is horrible! I had no idea this was going on! Radiation poisoning is not something to be toyed with!

    • You are a shining example of exactly how the authorities would like us all to be on this type of subject…lol…having “no idea” about it! But everyone has a right to know and even those who don’t want to know have a responsibility to know, because ultimately it impacts on every single one of us.
      Wolfie hugs!🙂

  10. Wünsche dir ein schönes glückliches weekend lieber Gruß und Freundschaft.Gislinde

  11. A most horrible incident that will never be forgetten. We can only hope that the reminder of this disaster will ultimately make this very dangerous source of power safer for all humanity.
    This presentation is packed with useful information and photos that will forever provide a source of facts and tools.

    • The reminder of this disaster is far from gone two years on… Removing current contamination is still underway and deal with further threats include A huge steel and concrete structure will eventually be built around the four reactors, similar to the one at Chernobyl, but this won’t even be started until the end of this year, and will then take another two years to complete. Contaminated debris is still be collected and bagged-up, and running 400 tons a day of ground water has to be run daily through the reactors to continue cooling them (requiring the construction of 1000-ton tanks new ones of which have to added every two or three days, to hold the contaminated water. Within two years there will be no room for additional tanks.) Power shovels are also hard at work removing layers of contaminated topsoil in the exclusion zone that will need to be stored for at least the next 40 years… Not stuff they want to advertise to the world in general….

  12. I believe it is Natures revenge on japan for their policy of killing Whales. Neptune has spoken !!!
    Yes it is awful for the survivors and the generations yet to be born. The cost in human suffering is unfathomable, You did mention the subject of the suicide rate, among the people directly effected by the catastrophic event. I hadn’t thought about that, You do well Timid one, to keep this in the public eye. Well done you 🙂 I am impressed with your growing readership, you are becoming renowned for your good work keep it up.
    Take care Susan you are a valuable asset to us all 🙂

    • Yes…”The cost in human suffering is unfathomable…” As of last month 315,196 people were still living in temporary prefab housing, public apartments, and private homes that have taken these people in. The negative psychological impact has been tremendous. Suicide is one factor, other factors include an increase in gambling, alcoholism and breakdowns/major problems in marital relationships… If I may quote Haruhiko Fukase, a resident of Yamagata City who worked as a shelter volunteer and coordinator during the evacuation effort, who said that the nuclear accident-affected people have been forgotten not just by the international community, but by many of their fellow Japanese citizens…

      “For people in Tokyo and other big cities,the evacuees don’t even register any more. Their problems have been forgotten. But for thousands of families, the Fukushima nuclear disaster will never end. The reactor is still hot; the situation is still unstable.”

      In this sense, and many others, the disaster will continue to exact a heavy toll on Japan, even as its heart-rending human and material toll grow dimmer in sight and memory.
      Timid one…”Howling in the Land of Wolves”…

  13. There were some who acted shamefully during that time, but also many who were heroes. What a very sad time.

    • It is far from over Rumpy. There are currently some 3,500 people in full body anti-radiation suits working daily at the Fukushima Daiichi plant site. Radiation is still at dangerous levels in the N-plant’s contamination zone. In reactor building No. 4, more than 1,500 spent fuel rods remain in a cooling pool outside the reactor’s steel and concrete containment vessel on the third floor. The fuel rods are still highly radioactive.

      Ground and seawater is leaking into the basements around the reactors and becoming contaminated, as a result of the foundation walls designed to keep the N-plant watertight suffering severe damage… And removing the broken and damaged fuel and to safely isolate it will take decades yet – a good 30 to 40 years at least.

  14. So unbelievable scary and what incredibly brave people, working in such dangerous conditions to help save so many. It just frightens me, what humans are doing to our beautiful planet. We may all need to move to Europa. Hope the wolves have got the place ready for us all.

    • Oh nooooo! No way! Humans are not coming to Europa!! Humans have no idea how to behave on their own territory let alone on the Icewolves territory!

      That said we will make exceptions for those affected by the Japanese N-disaster because the rest of the planet seems to have forgotten all about them and they badly need a contamination free world to rehabiliate and recover on🙂 Europa is pure and fresh…much like Wolfie lol😉 and it will be very good for them here…far from the nearest faultline and the N-reactors built on top of them🙂

  15. hello icey came to visit on a very scarey story but do we actually know anything going on in this world for instance why they going to build big consentration type buildings on salisbury plains there must be a reason and the government are trying to cover something up but i guess we wont know till it is upon us hope your well icey xxjen

    • Hey jen! Great to see you🙂 Missing you😦 Hope you’re ok🙂
      Why indeed! The Salisbury Plains are a bit close for comfort in the circumstances and whatever they’re building out there it’s unlikely to be anything good with so much secrecy surrounding them…The government aren’t very good at covering things up though…in fact come to think of it they’re not exactly great about doing anything at all are they? lol…well…apart from preparing to arm the Syrians…whilst ignoring Japan and N-disaster..lying…tax evasion…and so on and so forth😀 The next thing we’ll here is that those buildings are nuclear missile bases and they’re testing nuclear weapons out there…Oh Wolfie bison fleas!!!
      Welcoming Icy hugs for you jen🙂 xx

  16. Have a nice day my far away friend..
    Hugs Nicki

  17. Out of sight out of mind, this is not big news now in the West and we tend to forget the devastation to the ordinary people who live here. But the Japanese are very resourceful people and although you can never ‘win’ against nature there is a major effort to restore life as normal to the region,

    An interesting and thought provoking blog

    Susan

    • They’re certainly making “a major effort to restore life as normal to the region,” but it’s a shame that they do so partially by ignoring the plight of those still displaced and suffering. And terribly sad that those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant working so hard to make it possible for life to return to normal for the Japanese people, and indeed the world, in truth, are not being recognised by the people they are trying so hard to help.
      Wolfie hugs🙂

  18. what if osiris is another earth! Wouldn’t that be interesting!

    • It would be very interesting! Trouble is it’s a great big gas planet like Jupiter so I don’t think we’d fare very well on it🙂 It doesn’t have a surface like on Earth so that could be problematic for starters! But it does offer some fascinating trains of thought🙂

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