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In addition to tragic loss of life, infrastructure, and crops, the impact of the subsequent disasters still persist with Japan’s oil refineries and nuclear power plants. This paper will examine the impacts of the Great East Japan Earthquake on the country’s nuclear plants with regard to the nation’s nuclear power policies and political environment. Impacts on nuclear plants As a result of the high magnitude earthquake, Japan’s nuclear power plants including Fukushima I, Fukushima II, Tokai nuclear power stations, and Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant containing eleven reactors were automatically shut down. The diesel backup power systems of the Fukushima I and II nuclear power plants were destroyed when the Tsunami waves overtopped seawalls (Lijaz). It led to other severe issues including radioactive leakage and three large explosions at Fukushima I. In order to save people from dreadful effects, the government evacuated more than 200,000 people from the region. The April 7 aftershock greatly added to the crises as it hampered the external power supply to Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant and Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (Lijaz). Three of four external power lines to Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant were destroyed and it led to the damage of cooling function for 80 minutes. In addition, a couple liters of radioactive water leaked at Onagawa. Gunther Oettinger, the Europe’s energy commissioner stated that the nuclear disaster was an ‘apocalypse’. Nuclear experts unanimously opine that Fukushima I is the ever worst and complicated nuclear disaster. As Lijaz reports in Jago News, the disaster damaged the cooling system at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant; hence the radiation level inside the plant rose up to 1,000 time normal levels. In addition, scientists stated that the radiation level outside the plant was up to 8 times normal levels (Jago News). The condition of Fukushima II was also not satisfactory; hence, the disaster produced 6 problematic reactors in the country. Scientists detected radioactive iodine in the tap water in Fukushima, Toshigi, Chiba, Tokyo, Saitama, and Niigata whereas radioactive cesium was detected in the tap water in Fukushima, Tochigi, and Gunma; it was one of the most dreadful implications of the Great East Japan Earthquake. As per reports, the disaster caused failure in electricity supply and hence 4.4 million people were left without electricity in northeastern Japan. The severity of the catastrophe stopped operation of several nuclear and conventional power plants which in turn reduced TEPCO’s total capacity by 21 GW. As a result, the country was forced to declare rolling blackouts on 14th March. The Tokyo Electric Power Company announced that it could not provide more than 30 GW; it normally used to supply 40 GW of electricity. Presently, the TEP cannot supply additional power to the Kanto region since the power plants of the TEP were also damaged in the earthquake. In order to alleviate the electricity shortage in the country, most of the industrial concerns have trimmed down their power usage. Followed by the Tsunami and major earthquake, hydrogen explosions occurred at some of the reactors and that increased the dreadfulness of the situation. The high power of the explosion damaged a number of buildings around the reactor. The nuclear scientists identified that the zirconium from disintegrating fuel rods reacted with steam in the absence of cooling water and this process resulted in the emission of hydrogen. As a result of vehement efforts taken by engineers and other workers, the reactors could be
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