Ten years ago, in 2011, the worst earthquake happened in the northeastern part of Japan. The official name of this earthquake is the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Japan 2011 earthquake magnitude was 9.0. Earthquakes of such a magnitude, according to scientists, occur in this country not more often than once every 600 years. This natural disaster happened on the morning of March 11 and its epicenter was located 373 kilometers away from Tokyo, its source was at the depth of 24 kilometers. After the main tremor of the earthquake in Japan, there were several dozens of weaker ones with magnitudes from 4 to 7. In Tokyo, buildings were damaged and subway and commuter trains were stopped. The earthquake caused a huge wave to hit the Japanese coast (answering the question «What caused the tsunami in Japan 2011?»).
The earthquake generated the largest tsunami, which covered a total area of 561 square kilometers, equivalent to 90 percent of the area of the 23 special districts that make up the core of Tokyo. Where did the tsunami hit in Japan 2011? The most affected region was the Miyagi prefecture. It accounted for more than half of the flooded area, which was more than 327 square kilometers. The second region affected by the tsunami was Iwate prefecture. The tsunami wave of the height of about 40.5 meters struck the city of Miyako. The wave that struck the village of Noda in the same Iwate Prefecture was 37.8 meters, and the tsunami that destroyed the town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture was 34.7 meters high. As a result, 62 towns and villages in six prefectures were affected by the gigantic tsunami. Tens of meters high waves destroyed and damaged hundreds of thousands of buildings. The official Japan tsunami 2011 death toll estimates more than 18,000 deaths. Nearly half a million Japanese lost their roofs over their heads.
The height of the wave and the area underwater surpassed all scientific calculations and the so-called computer simulations that should have predicted the development of the tsunami. Now you can imagine how big was the tsunami in Japan 2011, that even Japanese scientists, having all modern and professional equipment, could not predict the outcome of this earthquake.
The natural disaster caused a severe disaster at Fukushima. This nuclear disaster is considered to be one of the worst, continue reading our blog to find more information! Under the conditions of the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami 2011, Japan lost its external power supply. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had no protection against the tsunami impact on the plant. As a result, the huge wave has flooded the diesel generators in NPP. The generators were located at each of the power units of the plant below, in the flooded part. The diesel generators were designed to operate the plant’s cooling system in the event of an external power outage. After the tsunami, only one diesel generator was left in operation at Fukushima Daiichi to provide cooling for two spent fuel pools and two reactors in the absence of external power. Therefore, no severe accident occurred at units 5 and 6 of the plant. At the other power units, after the diesel generators failed, the cores overheated and melted, and a zirconium-vapor reaction began, resulting in the release of hydrogen. The accumulation of hydrogen in the rooms where the reactors were located led to a series of explosions. These explosions led to the destruction of the buildings of the NPP.
The consequence was a release of radioactivity into the external environment, after which radioactive substances were found in food, water, and other products. Within six months of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, elevated levels of radionuclides were detected in food not only in the Fukushima area itself but also in areas far away from it. As many as 146,000 residents within a radius of more than 40 kilometers from the NPP were evacuated.
As a result of the earthquake, one of the Japanese islands changed its location! The east coast of Honshu island was shifted 2.5 meters to the east. The number of dead and missing exceeded 20 thousand people. About 93% of the dead were victims of the giant wave.
The damage caused by the huge Japan tsunami to the country’s economy, transportation, and infrastructure, not counting the costs associated with the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, was 17 trillion yen, which is about 215 billion dollars. 26,000 buildings were fully or partially destroyed, 260,000 were partially damaged. The area of land to be decontaminated is 3% of Japan’s territory.
According to rough estimates of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, the areas affected by the tsunami should have been cleaned from more than 23 million tons of debris – the debris of houses, mixed with household items and furniture in a single mass. Only 4.9 million tons of debris could be disposed of per year, with the problem of possible contamination of this debris with radioactive substances after radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. At the end of December 2011, the government of Japan approved a 30-year plan by Japanese experts to eliminate the consequences of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP.
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