The World Needs Better Mechanism to Manage Nuclear Disaster

Japan's nuclear disaster didn't invite much criticism from the world community especially from the US and IAEA. Had the same mistake been committed by Iran, North Korea or a Pakistan, the world would have seen new forms of sanctions!


Had Iran, North Korea or Pakistan been the source of a nuclear disaster, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and most definitely the world savior, the United States of America would have led a mass campaign to issue global sanctions against the nation. But when Japan – a nation which criminally failed to safe nuclear plant and continued to lie to the global communities with regards to the amount of radiation leakage from Fukushima – is not even being charged for its grave mistakes.

Years ago, a war was suddenly ended, and yet a grave crime was committed on humanity with the twin atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What made it worse was the nuclear race it initiated among nations, putting the entire mankind under serious threat. Not surprisingly, Japan, the first (and hopefully the only one forever) victim of a nuclear attack; stayed away from nuclear weapons, while it continued to judiciously use nuclear energy for peaceful ends. However, the country perhaps did not realise the perils of using nuclear reactors not insulated against the laws of nature. March 11, 2011 proved to be a day of mourning for Japan when it was hit by an earthquake followed by a tsunami; events that subsequently exacerbated the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plants.

Yes, the lives lost are mourned. But what cannot be forgiven is Japan’s deliberate and criminal behaviour towards two critical issues: Firstly, it is unfathomable that a nation can claim that a tidal wave ensured that its nuclear reactors went out of control. Given the infinitely exponential danger levels of nuclear radiation, wasn’t it Japan’s primary responsibility to operate only fail-safe reactors that automatically shut off at the first instant of a natural disaster? Or is Japan, which experiences some of the maximum frequencies of earthquakes, peddling to us the theory that it didn’t know what a natural disaster was? Secondly, what Japan did by deliberately lying to the world about the nuclear radiation leakage levels from its four damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima is not just a crime against humanity, but should immediately invite global sanctions by both the IAEA and the Western world. This irresponsible doublespeak from Japan is unpardonable – especially when the world is going to suffer hugely due to Japan’s intransigence, which includes its act of releasing radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean that killed millions of sea animals in a matter of one week.

The Fukushima incident is considered now to be the second-most severe nuclear plant disaster after the Chernobyl incident 25 years ago on April 26, 1986. But what was really surprising was that, despite knowing the extent of havoc that nuclear radiations can cause, Japan deliberately manipulated the information about radiation levels since the beginning of the incident. While the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) is the regulator of Japan’s nuclear industry, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station was operated by The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Immediately after the disaster on April 12, 2011, NISA’s radiation estimate was 370,000 terabecquerels. Global agencies accepted NISA’s estimate as being true and honest.

How wrong they were? Firstly, all climactic data on radiation levels was going against NISA’s fraudulent estimations – regions as far as Canada and United States were detecting radiation due to the Japan disaster. Secondly, while Japan had evacuated people in an area of 20 km around the plant, all radiation surveys showed high radiation exposure to people even 60 km away from the plant. On June 15, Japanese government shamelessly accepted this fact and issued new evacuation advisories for people living in the 60 km radius. More pathetically, NISA, in a report to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), accepted that their initial estimates were completely off the mark and increased the radiation leakage estimate to 770,000 terabecquerels. In the report, Japan admits that “it was unprepared for a severe nuclear accident.”

As per the World Nuclear Association, 100 millisieverts nuclear radiation a year is the limit that one can be exposed to, and exposure above this limit leads to a serious risk of cancer. As per present reports, radiation levels went as high as 400 millisieverts per hour, which could have been as lethal as a nuclear bomb! More surprisingly, Japan rated this terrible nuclear crisis at five out of seven on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) initially. France’s nuclear safety authority ASN warned that the minimum should have been rating the disaster at level-six. Later, under extreme pressure, Japan raised the score to 7, indicating a ‘major nuclear incident.’

Clearly, the radiation impact on the environment and on humanity will remain much longer and worsen too. There are over 100,000 tons of highly radioactive water inside the buildings. Its decontamination is very lengthy, expensive and exhausting work. Radioactive particles are spreading through the air, which will also impact other nations. Three months since the incident, the nuclear plant is still leaking radioactive material.

Yet, if you go by the Japanese government’s claims, no direct death has occurred due to nuclear radiation; over 10,000 people have died in the earthquake so far and it cost around $250 billion to the Japanese economy. Over 180,000 people were evacuated from within a 20-30 km. radius of the accident. So far, only 160 people, as per the Japanese government, have been found exposed to radiation.

The report clearly indicates Japan’s reluctance in terms of releasing data and failure to control the crisis has been too severe to brush aside. Surprisingly, IAEA also has not castigated Japan for releasing false figures earlier. The international community also looks largely silent. One wonders whether the same magnanimous yogic response would have been present from international communities if Iran had been the perpetrator of this large a nuclear disaster. The facts cannot be ignored. Japan should be sued for criminal damage to environment, humanity, and various animal species. Immediate sanctions must be drawn against Japan to ensure that in the future, countries desist from such criminal negligence!