The 9.0- magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 left nearly 26,000 lifeless or missing and crippled a nuclear power plant in the north-eastern regions, which has been releasing radioactive materials into the environment. The nuclear mishap and natural disaster have compelled the evacuation of more than 1,50,000 people from their homes.

Effects of Fukushima RadiationLeak

Facts on radiation release at Fukushima:

•On 12th March, the day after the earthquake, high levels of iodine-131 and caesium-137 were spotted near Unit 1 on the plant site. The next day, venting to release pressure started at quite a few reactors resulting in the discharge of radioactive material.

•Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano soon declared that radiation rates had been confirmed to be near 30 mSv/h on the site of the plant between units 2 & 3, approximately 400 mSv/h between unit 3 and 4, and 100 mSv/h near unit 4.

•Some locations around 30 km from the Fukushima plant, the quantity rates had elevated drastically in the preceding 24 hrs.

•On 19 March The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare broadcasted that radiation levels more than legal limits had been noticed in milk produced in the Fukushima area and in some vegetables in Ibaraki.

•On 25 March the German Ministry of the Environment announced that rare amounts of radioactive iodine had been noticed in three places within the German air.

•Radiation fluctuated extensively on the location after the tsunami and often concurrent to fires and explosions on site. Radiation dose rates at one location between reactor units 3 and 4 was calculated 400 mSv/h, causing experts to insist on speedy rotation of urgent situation crews as a means of limiting disclosure to radiation.

Further Effects of Fukushima radiation leak:

Exposure of workers: Before the accident, the utmost tolerable dose for Japanese nuclear employees was 100 mSv a year, but on March 15, the Japanese Health and Labour Ministry increased that annual limit to 250 mSv, for emergency situations. The World Health Organization below the 500 mSv/year considers this level acceptable for emergency work.

Release to seawater and contaminated sea life: About 100m south of the discharge channel of units 1-4 showed eminent levels of Cs-137, Cs-134 and I-131. A sample of seawater taken on 22 March, 330m south of the discharge channel had elevated levels of I-131 and Cs-137. Further, north of the plant showed elevated levels of these ions on 22 March although the levels were lesser.

It further cautioned that rebuilding expenses could pass $600 billion. The summit end of the government’s approximation of direct damage from the earthquake and the tsunami is about $300 billion.