Remember that nuclear plant in Japan?
Natural disasters cause a variety of issues for nations around the globe, while some will devastate vast regions and populations annually. One of the more widely discussed events in recent years was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that occurred following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011.
While many have been led to believe that this event is now a thing of the past, the battle rages on to find and publicize the facts associated with the fallout. If you haven't heard much about the Fukushima nuclear plant in a little while, just remember that this was the first event to measure as a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
If you need any sort of indication of what a level 7 event means, think about how Chernobyl is just now beginning to reopen for visitors. Whether it is safe to live there yet has yet to be determined, but this event occurred almost three decades ago. Fukushima, which is right on the ocean rather than being tucked away in a rural area, happened just two years ago.
Oh, it's been leaking
The New York Times recently reported that the Fukushima nuclear power plant has likely been leaking contaminated water into the ocean throughout the years following the fallout. Japan's chief nuclear regulator, Shunichi Tanaka, came out and publicly explained the status of the plant, stating that his staff was not sure where the leaks were coming from, how severe they are and what might be the best ways to correct the issue.
According to the news provider, groundwater near the Fukushima nuclear plant have tested positive for high rates of cesium and strontium, two radioactive compounds that are known to increase the risk of cancer among humans.
"We've seen for a fact that levels of radioactivity in the seawater remain high, and contamination continues – I don't think anyone can deny that," Tanaka stated, the source noted. "We must take action as soon as possible. That said, considering the state of the plant, it's difficult to find a solution today or tomorrow. That's probably not satisfactory to many of you. But that's the reality we face after an accident like this."
While Tanaka's modesty, as well as that of the energy company responsible for the plant, are welcomed today, this is a significant shift in the handling of the event and the leak. The New York Times added that this is one of the first times that either party has acknowledged the environmental devastation that has occurred – and continues to occur – following the fallout.
The news provider cited one of the more harrowing comments made by Tanaka at the press conference last week.
"We don't truly know whether that will work," Tanaka said. "Of course, we'd hope to eliminate all leaks, but in this situation, all we can hope for is to minimize the impact on the environment. If you have any better ideas, we'd like to know."
Not the only time
It's not like this was the first time that a nuclear fallout, or other devastating environmental event caused by the either poor, fraudulent or uneducated actions of a major corporation has happened behind the public purview. One of the first events to come to mind is the fight between consumer advocate Erin Brockovich and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
This real life event (not just a movie) involved a variety of citizens in a small community getting cancer because of harmful actions taken by the company that essentially poisoned the groundwater. So, the big question is, how many more times will those responsible be able to destroy the environment while denying it to no end, and why aren't regulators being more active in making the information public?