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On Third Anniversary of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Radiation Continues to Threaten Pacific Ocean

March 11th marked the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s coastline, killing more than 15,000 people and leaving 300,000 homeless. The earthquake also triggered the triple meltdown and four explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power complex located near the epicenter of the tremor. Since the tsunami destroyed the nuclear reactor’s back up cooling systems there have been continuing leaks of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contaminated water is being stored in 1,200 tanks located on the Fukushima site, but they are prone to leaks. While the Tokyo Electric Company and Japanese government are expecting a 30- to 40-year timeframe to decommission the failed reactors, they say their urgent mission is to dispose of the contaminated water, the most likely option being a release of the stored radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, scientists say as many as 20 trillion becquerels of cesium 137, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium 90 and 40 trillion becquerels of tritium were released into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists further predict that radiation from the Fukushima reactors will reach the waters off the U.S. West Coast sometime in April.

On the eve of the third anniversary of the earthquake and nuclear disaster thousands of Japanese citizens protested Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to reopen some of the nation’s 48 nuclear plants that were closed down in 2011. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with author and environmental activist Harvey Wasserman, who examines the continuing danger of the radiation leaks at Fukushima and the threat to human health and the ecosystem posed by the global nuclear power industry.
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