CHAPTER 1
Introduction
1.1 General
The Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant, also known as Fukushima Dai-
ichi (Dai-ichi means “number one”) is a disabled nuclear power plant
located on a 3.5 square km (860 acres) site in the towns of Okuma and
Futaba in the Futaba district of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan (Wikipedia
2011b; Figure 1.1). First commissioned in 1971, the plant consists of
six boiling water reactors. These light-water reactors drove electric
generators with a combined power of 4.7 GWe (4.7 billion electrical
watts), making the Fukushima facility the 15th largest nuclear power
complex in the world and the fi rst to be constructed and run entirely by
the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The plant suffered major
damage from an earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11,
2011 and is not expected to reopen. On April 20th, Japanese authorities
declared a 20-km evacuation zone around the facility which may be
entered only under government supervision (Wikipedia 2011b).
Fukushima, which means “fortunate island”, is the home of the
rst Japanese nuclear facility and was erected on the former site of a
World War II imperial air base; later, another facility was built nearby
(Osnos 2011). On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck
the east coast of Japan (Becker 2011; Christodouleas et al., 2011; Dauer
et al., 2011; Hall 2011; Kuczera 2011; Matanle 2011; Miller et al., 2011;
Mimura et al., 2011; Osnos 2011; Wikipedia 2011; Anzai et al., 2012;
Ohnishi 2012). The total number of people who died in the earthquake
and the 13 to 15-meter high tsunami that it generated was at least 14,000
2 The Fukushima 2011 Disaster
and may be as high as 25,000. Structural damage to the six reactors at
Fukushima Dai-ichi is documented with signifi cant and continuing
radiation losses to the environment. More than 200,000 inhabitants
from the vicinity of the site have been evacuated, with some estimates
ranging as high as 320,00—some never to return owing to continuing
radiation hazards. The status of the facility continues to change and
permanent control of its radioactive inventory has not been achieved.
At present, the situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility remains
uid and the long-term environmental and health impact will probably
take years—if not decades—to fully evaluate. Japanese authorities
have responded to the event through organized evacuation from the
vicinity of the site; monitoring of food and water; establishing radiation
limits on such foodstuffs; distribution of stable potassium iodide;
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Figure 1.1. Site of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor plant facility.

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