11 Mars 2017
March 11, 2017
Japan marks 6 years since 3/11 disaster
Saturday marks 6 years since the massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, triggering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
Reconstruction efforts in disaster-hit areas have been delayed, and over 120,000 people are still living in temporary and other housing as evacuees.
The magnitude-9.0 quake struck in the Pacific off the coast of northeastern Japan at around 2:46 PM on March 11th, 2011. It generated a tsunami more than 10 meters high. Areas around the quake's focal zone still experience tremors more frequently than before the disaster.
The National Police Agency says that, as of Friday, the number of deaths stands at 15,893 in 12 prefectures. It says 2,553 remain missing in 6 prefectures.
The Reconstruction Agency says at least 3,523 people died in 10 prefectures due to health problems and other reasons related to their lives as evacuees.
The agency adds that as of February 13th, more than 123,000 people were living in temporary, rental, or other housing as evacuees.
The agency says 23,393 housing units for disaster survivors who cannot afford to rebuild their homes had been completed by the end of January. That's 78 percent of over 30,000 such units the authorities plan to build.
The Japanese government will lift evacuation orders for many areas in Fukushima Prefecture by early April, except for no-entry zones with high radiation levels. But many residents say they won't return home due to concern over radiation and delays in rebuilding infrastructure.
NHK has learned, based on a national census, that the population in 14 coastal municipalities in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima decreased by more than 10 percent over the period between March 1, 2011, and February 1 of this year.
3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered meltdowns following the earthquake and tsunami.
The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is trying to figure out a way to remove fuel debris, a mixture of molten fuel and reactor parts. The removal work is regarded as the toughest task in the process of decommissioning the reactors.
But high radiation levels make it difficult to determine the exact location of the debris.
In February, the utility sent a robot into the containment vessel of the plant's No.2 reactor and detected an extremely high radiation level of 210 sieverts per hour.
The robot could not reach a central area under the reactor's core, failing to confirm facts about the fuel debris.
TEPCO plans to conduct a robotic survey inside the No.1 reactor, starting on March 14th.
The utility is also tackling the problem of radioactive water at the plant.
The utility has finished 98 percent of the work to freeze soil around the No.1 to No.4 reactor buildings to block the inflow of groundwater.
Nearly 940,000 tons of contaminated water are stored in about 900 tanks at the plant. No substantive plans have been made to dispose of the water.