Decade after one of world's worst nuclear disasters, what is happening in Fukushima?

Written By: Bharat Sharma

A huge earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, which was followed by a tsunami that wreaked havoc across coastal towns and triggered nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima - dubbed the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. We tell you what happened, what went wrong, and how the region is recovering after 10 years

How intense was the quake?

The Fukushima Dai-chi plant was affected by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which sent high waves crashing through the coast, killing at least 20,000 people.

(Photograph:AFP)

What really happened at the plant?

Tsunami waves affected the cooling systems of reactors, after which radiation was leaked into the air. As radiation from the plant spread, 160,000 residents were evacuated.

(Photograph:AFP)

How bad was the radiation?

After explosions in the reactors, officials found high radiation levels in local food and water supplies, after which consumption was banned.

(Photograph:AFP)

Is Fukushima safe now?

Since the disaster, the government has spent $300 billion the rebuild the region devasted by the tsunami. Even then, areas surrounding the plant continue to remain off-limits.
 

(Photograph:AFP)

What next?

Decommissioning of the plant will take decades, and require billions of dollars.

(Photograph:AFP)

How many reactors are operational now?

In the aftermath of the accident, 9 of 33 reactors in Japan have been approved for restarts. Currently, only 4 are operating, as opposed to 54 before the accident.

(Photograph:AFP)

How long till Fukushima springs back to life?

Japan is a resource-poor country, and nuclear power supplied just 6% of Japan's energy needs in the first half of 2020 compared with 23.1% for renewable sources. Even though contamination levels have decreased dramatically, some species in the exclusion zone still remain highly radioactive.

(Photograph:AFP)

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