The severity of the Fukushima nuclear accident is rated 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. This scale runs from 0, indicating an abnormal situation with no safety consequences, to 7, indicating an accident causing widespread contamination with serious health and environmental effects. Prior to Fukushima, the Chernobyl disaster was the only level 7 accident on record.
A nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square km near the power station is now likely uninhabitable. Measurements taken by the Japanese science ministry and education ministry in areas of northern Japan 30–50 km from the plant showed radioactive caesium levels high enough to cause concern. Food grown in the area was banned from sale.
The National Police Agency has confirmed 15,641 deaths, 5,699 injured and 5,007 people missing across eighteen prefectures. Most of the casualties were caused by the tsunami. Towns were affected the worst and look like a piles of rubble, with almost no parts of any structures left standing. The tsunami resulted in over 300,000 refugees in the Tōhoku region.
Shortages of food, water, shelter, medicine and fuel for survivors became a high priority for the Japanese government. In response the government mobilized the Self-Defence Forces, whilst many countries sent search and rescue teams to help search for survivors. Aid organizations both in Japan and worldwide also responded, with the Japanese Red Cross reporting $1 billion in donations.
International debate on nuclear energy
In reaction to the Fukushima catastrophe, Switzerland and Germany are phasing out all of its nuclear reactors over the next decade. In a referendum 95% of Italians voted in favor of blocking a nuclear power revival in their country. A recent newspaper poll in Japan shows nearly three-quarters of respondents favor a phase-out of nuclear power in Japan. The World Bank estimated the cost of the nuclear crisis at $235bn, making it one of the world's most expensive disasters.
China suspended approval for new nuclear power plants in the wake of Fukushima disaster. The country completed a nationwide safety inspection of nuclear powerplants in operation and additionaly surveyed those under construction. In India the government requested new test reports from the French nuclear authority on safety issues before finalizing orders for nuclear reactors from atomic energy giant Areva.
The operators of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, announced record losses of 1.25 trillion yen. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently scaled back the forecasts for the use of nuclear power, saying market share of nuclear power in the world's total electricity output may halve to just over 6 percent by 2050 despite growth in the number of reactors in use. Japan will certainly overcome this enormous environmental disaster in the near future. Only our prayers remain for the people of Japan and a hope that the entire world learned a important lesson about the nuclear energy.