Ten Years of Fukushima
On 11 March 2011, the most severe earthquake since records began in Japan occurred off the east coast of the Japanese main island of Honshū. The quake and especially the resulting tsunami devastated large areas of eastern Japan and caused an enormous number of casualties: Ten years after the tragedy, various official statistics count around 20,000 fatalities, and in December 2020, there were more than 2,500 people still considered missing. It is estimated that around one million buildings were destroyed or damaged.
At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site, the quake and tsunami caused an almost complete loss of power supply to four of the total of six reactor units. As a result, the most severe nuclear accident in connection with the peaceful utilisation of nuclear energy after Chernobyl occurred. Especially in the first days of the accident, considerable amounts of radioactive materials were released into the environment. These massive releases led to large-scale contamination of the surrounding area. Around 150,000 people were affected by evacuations or recommendations to leave their hometowns. The amount of radioactive materials released into the environment led to the accident being classified on the highest level of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES 7).
In the last few weeks, we have published a number of articles in our series "10 Years of Fukushima", each dealing with a different focus of the disaster and its consequences. These features are supplemented by interviews with colleagues who were already working at GRS at the time of the disaster and who have since evaluated and analysed in various projects the accident sequence, its consequences, and the work on site. The interviews are intended to provide additional background knowledge which, in our view, is helpful for understanding and classifying the events as well as the present situation.
All articles in the series "10 Years of Fukushima" and the accompanying interviews can be found under the follwoing links. An additional article giving an overview of the international situation of nuclear power will be published on the GRS website shortly.