Fukushima, Three Years Later

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 12 2014 @ 8:42pm

Japan Commemorates 3rd Anniversary Of Great East Japan Earthquake

Josh Keating takes in the effects of the March 2011 meltdown:

About 100,000 people are still living in temporary housing, and Japan has so far built only 3.5 percent of the new houses promised to people in heavily affected prefectures. CBS reports that in Koriyama, a town about 40 miles from the nuclear plant, many parents are still afraid to let their children play outside. There’s also an ongoing debate about whether higher-than-normal rates of thyroid cancer in children are connected to nuclear radiation or simply more rigorous testing.

Then there’s the psychological impact. A Brigham Young University study released last week found that a year after disaster, more than half of the citizens of Hirono, a heavily affected town near the plant, showed “clinically concerning” symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Two-thirds showed symptoms of depression.

Ken Silverstein explains why Japan seems ready to jump back on the nuclear horse while, 35 years after Three Mile Island, the US still won’t:

One factor that’s helped Japan is a new nuclear watchdog. Created in September 2012, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has eliminated the cozy relationships that allowed utility employees to become nuclear regulators and it has stood up to political pressure to turn a blind eye to operational shortcuts. The agency has shown its willingness to exert its influence: It routinely gives updates on the disabled Fukushima nuclear facility, cautioning that it has been leaking contaminated, or radiated, water into the Pacific Ocean. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which had operated the Fukushima facility, is now fully cooperating.

Then there are the economic costs.  In May 2012, Japan turned off the last of its 54 nuclear reactors. Altogether, Japan has increased its reliance on imported liquefied natural gas to meet much of its electricity needs at a cost of more than $65 billion, says Deloitte Touch Tohmatsu. And the price of importing fossil fuels is getting even more expensive because of a weak yen.

Dish coverage of Fukushima and related topics here.

(Photo: A woman touches a memorial engraved with the names of the victims at Okawa Elementary School on the three year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, Japan on March 11, 2014. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami claimed more than 18,000 lives and triggered the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. By Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)