Fukushima Incident and its Environmental Impacts
The enormous Tohoku earthquake and tsunami observed on March 11, 2011, has sourced to lead widespread environmental harm in northeastern Japan, such as harming to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power installation, which has further led to release of radiation (Buck & Upton, 2012). This incident has been observed as the largest release of radioactive materials into the oceans while raising the concerns regarding expected impacts of this released radiation on the marine environment and resources of U.S (Garthwaite, 2011).
The winds and current in both oceans are tended to carry the radiation over as well as into marine water controlled by American authority. It is expected that marine creature that are migrated through Japanese water to the water controlled by American authority may consequently be affected by radioactive in number of ways (Buck & Upton, 2012). It is observed that there is a high level of radioactive iodine along with cesium and cesium in the water affiliated with area of Fukushima Daiichi. In addition to this, the authority of EPA has found the traces of radioactive iodine and cesium after rainfall in different parts of America. This revelation has led to consider the potential effects radiation will have on the environment of U.S (Garthwaite, 2011).
It is anticipated that radiation might have diluted in the ocean very quickly with little chances to travel in the ocean, however, it cannot be ignored that radiation may travel with the wind. Taking into account, worse environmental impact is expected in marine environment and resources of U.S and other surrounding part of the Fukushima. Therefore, this paper aims to consider and analyze the environment issues caused by release of radiation of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power installation into marine areas controlled by U.S. Experienced assignment writing service is available online.
Theoretical / Conceptual Framework for Issue
The conceptual or theoretical framework of Fukushima incident and its worse environmental impact can be laid on principles of theory of environmental sustainability. The theory of environmental sustainability mainly focuses on the maintenance or sustainability of natural resources for economic and social development (Shastri et al., 2008). In this way, the sustainability of environment majorly concentrates on the human impact on the environment; therefore, the nuclear incident of Fukushima can be regarded as result of human activity, which caused the release of radioactive material into the ocean. However, the long-term impact of this nuclear incident may not be directly observed on human life, as immediately after the incident, the near localities were evacuated by the government. There have been definite effects of nuclear incident on the surrounding environment, marine life and wildlife, as they are at the threat of losing their breed. Immense effect on the marine life and wildlife of near areas can have worse effect on the sustainability of environment.
According to sustainability theory of environment, humans when fail in their effort for the sustainability of environment, this affects the healthy ecosystem on the earth (Sarkis et al., 2008). Healthy ecosystem, which provides with the imperative goods and services to humans and other organism of ecosystem, was damaged in the result of the incident of Fukushima nuclear release of radiation. If the incident of Fukushima is deemed in the light of its effects on the sustainability of environment, it can easily be noticed that the radioactive material that was released from the Fukushima containment vessels was the result of purposeful emission to decrease the gaseous pressure, purposeful emission of coolant water into the ocean, and other uncontrolled incidents.
The release of radiation from nuclear plant of Fukushima has been found with worse impact on the biodiversity of the environment. Amongst all, marine life and wild life are considerably at the stake for their survival and this impact will last for decades. Considering the long-term impact of this nuclear release incident, worse effects on the sustainability of environment has been observed (Buck & Upton, 2012), which is likely to affect the healthy ecosystem of the environment. If the impact of radiation release continues negatively affecting the ecosystem and environmental sustainability, it is more likely that humans will not be able to maintain natural resources for the next generation (Walls & Livens, 2011).
Since environmental sustainability is likely to influence the relationship between states, this relationship will be determined on the level to which economic growth will be dependent on the sustainability of environment. Considering the impact of radiation release on the marine life of U.S., it can be expected that failure or success to environmental sustainability will help in determining the relationship between both states. In addition, it can motivate to both countries and other affected countries to work together to reduce this kind of incidents in future. The major challenge, in respect of managing the environmental sustainability issue, will be faced in terms of protecting and improving the human life (Burlakova, 2006). Similarly, it will emphasize on the creation of strong sustainability, which reduces the possibility of such incidents due to human activity.
Main Drivers and their Significance in Establishing the Importance of the Environmental Issue
Production of Excessive Nuclear Energy
The main driver leading to and establishing the importance of the environmental issue in Fukushima mainly revolves around the excessive use and dependency on the production of nuclear energy (Rance, 2012). However, nuclear energy has benefited human life in many ways such as improving the industry production and developing nuclear weapon for the defense. The main driver observed in the result of excessive production of nuclear energy is the reactors plants in Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown. It is observed that there are four nuclear reactors installed in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station producing one giga-watt of electric power. This power plant had been of great significance, as this plant has been generating approximately 10% of the electricity for Ukraine (Ingram, 2005). Historically, this power plant has experienced miserable hit in 1986, when great amount of radioactive contamination was released from the nuclear power station of the Chernobyl. The causes of this hit was observed as design fault and human error, however, this hit caused the station losing the control over the reaction. Moreover, the risk association with the nuclear power plant of Chernobyl avoided and this resulted in disaster of station (Burlakova, 2006). The hit that resulted in release of huge amount of release of radioactive contamination also contaminated atmosphere of Western Europe, USSR few states of U.S (Ingram, 2005).
Figure 1 (Japan, 2012)
The figure shows the amount of radioactivity released by the plant.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster
Other driver of this environmental issue is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster while the nuclear power plant is located at Fukushima Daiichi. It has observed that Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is one of the largest and most important power plants across the world, covering 860 acres and located near to Okuma and Futaba of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan (Fukushima, 2012). The plant consists of six boiling nuclear reactors to be used for driving the electrical generators. The first damage was observed in the plant after the earthquake occurred in March 2011. The earthquake that was observed at the 9.0 rector scale followed by tsunami, hit different areas of Japan. This plant has been located as serving the Japan with the electricity and heat whereas the widespread exploitation of nuclear power plant was also observed in other part of the world (FukushimaAnalysis, 2012).
The nuclear disaster occurred in the nuclear power plant of Fukushima brought about series of failure of nuclear equipments and nuclear meltdown along with the release of radioactive elements into ocean (Rance, 2012). At the time of earthquake and tsunami, the reactor four was defueled while other reactors were carried in cold shut down for the purpose of maintenance. Moreover, other reactors were shutdown after the earthquake hit, yet tsunami damaged the reactors and made it release the radioactive into the ocean. The immediate effect of this release was the death of workers within the plant while it is anticipated that more one million population were at the stake of getting cancer (Buck & Upton, 2012). The significant response observed instantly after the hit was from the proponents of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, including World Nuclear Association and IAEA, who appeared to declare the plant as the considerable reducer of the carbon emission. On the other hand, opponents of Fukushima power plant including Greenpeace International declared the station as significant threat for human and environment (Walls & Livens, 2011).
Figure 2 (Japan, 2012)
The above figure shows the radionuclide concentration factors of marine and fresh water in relation to showing the effects of nuclear disaster on the water quality.
After evaluating the incident of Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it is observed that the major environmental issue was raised due to inefficiency of reactors to prevent the radiation leakage (Bortz, 2012). In this regard, the reactors of Fukushima have been found with three barriers, which were especially designed for preventing the radiation leakage such as metal cladding nearby nuclear fuel, reactor pressure vessel and containment vessel. On the other hand, the reactors of Chernobyl were found with lack of containment vessel (Avery, 2011). The environmental issue was arisen due to leakage of radiation into the environment while causing contaminating vast areas, where contamination levels were not linear. In addition, among other factors, wind was also the factor that influenced the affected areas by carrying the radiation into other areas. This was proved by measuring the levels of radiation at areas of 100 miles away from plant and the levels of radiation was higher than areas in 10 and 20 miles away. Since the power plant of Chernobyl was aimed at producing high amount of nuclear energy, therefore, the radiation released from the plants was very high due to intense nature of the reactor (Rance, 2012). Its effects were also noticed in the weather over an extended release period, because a graphite fire burned for 10 days. These radioactive gases and other particles were carried away by wind into high atmospheric areas over long distant areas.
The Environmental Policy Response to the Environmental Issue
Environmental Policy Response from Organizations
The environmental policy response to the environmental issue caused by Fukushima incident was observed after international reaction to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. However, this reaction has been diverse and widespread in nature it affected the environmental policy as response to environmental issue caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The significant responses received from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and World Meteorological Organization. In addition, further responses were received from Preparatory Commission for Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. The enquiry made by IAEA investigated the amount of the radiation released and its impact on environment and surrounding creature (PloicyAnalysis, 2012). The report presented by IAEA revealed the widespread impact of radiation onto human and other organism including environment. IAEA was considerably found as arguing in favor of nuclear power plant in Fukushima. On the other hand, Greenpeace International appeared arguing about the failure of human institutions in relation to preventing the risk associated with the failure to develop and implement the safety standards (Report, 2012). In this regard, significant response received from Greenpeace International is in the form of pursuing the states for implementing appropriate nuclear safety standards, which can provide ultimate protection to human life and environment (ChinaDailyNews, 2012).
In one of the report from IAEA, it is revealed that major environmental issue was arisen due to lack of nuclear disaster emergency plan from government. Moreover, it has reported that lack of evacuation plans, low importance to seismic activity and risk of tsunami, lack of diversity in system and ineffective requirements in regard of floods and lack of equipment and resources were the main reasons of widespread impact of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (CNE, 2012). Considering the critical significance of safety standards and measures, IAEA has responded by recommending the member states involved in the nuclear energy production to adopt effective safety standard.
Environmental Policy Response from State Authorities
Except organizations, government authorities of different countries also appeared as responding to nuclear disaster by changing their nuclear energy production plan (WorldNuclearAssociation, 2012). It has been observed that immediately after the nuclear disaster of Fukushima Daiichi power plant, number of countries reconsidered their nuclear power energy policies. However, these government authorities of those countries remained consistent with the policy to continue their nuclear energy power plant. The considerable change was observed in the attitude of countries towards protection or safety related to such incidents (TheInstituteofEnergyEconomics, 2011). On the other hand, other governments were found turning against the nuclear power plant, considered the viewpoint of growing prices of electricity, and increased carbon dioxide emissions because they looked for implementing alternatives solutions for this shortage of electricity. The significant response was received from countries who were considering executing their nuclear energy power plant, as those countries were found either delaying or cancelling initiating their nuclear power plant, namely Thailand, Venezuela and Italy. On the other hand, other countries responded by considering on exploring the benefits of nuclear power plant (Surles, 2012).
Environmental Policy Response from U.S
As identified in the beginning of the paper, U.S marine life was most affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster after Japanese areas, there was strong environmental policy response from U.S (Surles, 2012). Since the world has experienced number of energy disaster in past two years affecting the global environment, therefore, the Congress of U.S. appeared having strong argument against inappropriate measures taken in respect of nuclear safety (WorldNuclearAssociation, 2012). Throughout the reconsideration of legislation in Congress, it was realized that dominion of energy and environmental law has been ineffective due to framework developed for nuclear energy following the insecure nuclear energy program.
After undergoing the effects of nuclear Fukushima Daiichi on the marine life of areas controlled by U.S, it was deemed by government to reconsider the demand of nuclear energy in future. However, government has already observed that there will be high demand of energy in future, which further emphasizes on having effective nuclear safety policy, as if there is high demand energy in future, it is most likely that U.S will consider to plant more nuclear energy plant in the country (TheInstituteofEnergyEconomics, 2011). Therefore, U.S appeared lessening the energy costs and escalating domestic control of energy sources. In addition, government is found with issuing new environmental protection and safety measured related to nuclear energy production plant.
This paper aimed to analyze the environmental issue related to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and evaluated the environmental policies against the issue. In this way, paper has focused on identifying the issues and its impact on the global environment. The study established conceptual and theoretical framework based on the theory of environmental sustainability, which helped in understanding how human activity damaging the environment, ecosystem and natural resources affect the state-to-state relationship and their policies as response to environmental issue. Thus, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that occurred in the result of earthquake and tsunami allowed radioactive elements to enter into ocean. The main drivers identified related to Fukushima Daiichi were excessive production of nuclear energy in Chernobyl, which caused to have spillover of radioactive energy due to earthquake hit. In addition, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was another driver of the environment issue. The environmental policies observed as response of this environmental issue was significantly related to preventing such incidents to have environmental issue.