Five years ago this week the world held its breath, crossed its fingers and learnt a new word. Fukushima went from being the name of a provincial Japanese city to becoming global shorthand for a costly and contaminating nuclear disaster.
Fukushima means “fortunate island” but the region’s luck melted down along with the reactors on March 11, 2011. The subsequent system failure, meltdown and uncontrolled release of large volumes of radiation at the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has become one of the defining events of our age.
It was a game-changer that highlighted the urgent need for the game to change. As the country that supplied the fuel that made it happen, the events at Fukushima held – and still hold – profound implications for Australia.
The March 11 Great Eastern earthquake and tsunami devastated much of Japan’s eastern seaboard. It also breached the safety and back-up systems at Tepco’s nuclear complex leading to the loss of life, mass evacuations, hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss and extensive radioactive contamination of the air, soil and ocean.
The crisis continues today. Japanese nuclear authorities have confirmed that active intervention will be required for the next forty years to stabilise the site, there are on-going radioactive releases and water and waste management issues and charges have just been laid against former senior Tepco officials for “professional negligence resulting in deaths and injury”.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/11/fukushima-five-years-on-and-the-lessons-we-failed-to-learn