The 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami: Fukushima Daiichi Accident Raphael Machado- Gedeon 260746484 ATOC 185-001 Professor John Gyakum and Professor Souad Guernina
Abstract The 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing large amounts of damage. This accident affected Japan economically, environmentally as well as socially. The release of radioactive material disrupted Japans economy due to the loss of agriculture and fisheries in the region. Japan was also impacted environmentally with the exposure of radiation to the ocean and land, where the ecosystem was found to have substantial amounts of radiation. In addition, residents of the region had little choice but to move from their homes to seek safer grounds. Due to great recovery efforts, the impacts of the nuclear crisis were minimized, as affected areas were found to have decreasing levels of radiation. Introduction Japan has been known to be an area that is extremely seismically active. Due to this, on March 9, 2011, little attention was brought to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Unfortunately, the residents of Japan would have to face yet another, much more devastating earthquake only 2 days later (Špičák, Vaněk, 2011). On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake began off the shores of Japan at an underwater epicenter located 130 km east of Sendai. Initially, the earthquake caused interruption of electricity, running water and gas in various places. However, only 20 minutes later, the first tsunami waves caused by the previous earthquake reached land. Certain areas in Japan experienced tsunami run up heights of up to 40 m, along with an inland penetration of 5 km. Eventually, the tsunami ended up flooding 400 km 2 of territory, destroying everything in its path (Nollet, Komazawa, Ohto, 2016). To add to the damage, a 6.2 magnitude
aftershock hit the Nagano and Niigata area on March 12, 2011, less than a day after the initial impact. The consequences of the earthquake and tsunami came to be quite substantial. Approximately 20,000 lives were lost along with the destruction of nearly 400,000 houses and 20,000 public buildings (Ishiguro, Yano, 2015). Furthermore, the tsunami rendered 118 medical facilities unusable, causing many more fatalities as residents were forced to seek medical help from distant, unaffected areas (Nollet, Komazawa, Ohto, 2016). The disaster closed many ports along the coast, the major regional airport of Sendai as well as railroad lines and roads. This made relief efforts much more difficult. Approximately 4.4 million households lost electricity and 1.5 million lost water services. After the tsunami and earthquake had run its course the price of the damages amounted to $300 billion, which at the time, was the most expensive natural disaster on record (Kingston, 2012).
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