Two years ago today, Japan was hit with a devastating earthquake, which generated a tsunami, which swept away nearly 30,000 people and took out the nuclear power plant.
Countless lives were destroyed, and the debris that didn’t wash up onshore was swept out to sea. The triple disasters of temblor, tsunami and near-nuclear meltdown got people all over the world thinking about various vulnerabilities.
Tribes on the Canadian and U.S. west coast, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, have been watching trash wash up on their coastlines for months, and the worst of it is not even expected to peak until 2014. From abandoned fishing vessels, to docks encrusted with foreign marine life, and even a motorcycle are some of the larger items that have appeared offshore or on the beaches of Haida Gwaii and other Pacific communities. Wildlife has been affected too, with mutations showing up in butterflies, and limited, nonlethal, amounts of radiation in some fish and seaweed, though still in low enough concentrations as to be deemed not dangerous to eat.
The nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi experienced meltdowns, as the Washington Post recounted today, contaminating 700 square miles with radiation and forcing 150,000 from their homes. Most of those people have never returned.
“The accident sparked a global debate about nuclear power, but it was especially fierce in Japan, where all 50 operable reactors were taken offline and work was halted on three new plants where building had been underway,” the Post noted.
Since then, though, the nuclear industry seems to have bounced back. Reactors were reopened last year, amid protests, and Japan is even building a new one, the Post reported.
Meanwhile, in southern Japan, a 5.3 earthquake struck the southern region of Kyushu, Japan, on March 11, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.