“Nuclear energy” is one of the greatest discoveries in human history. With the continuous consumption of various resources on the earth, nuclear energy has increasingly become the most promising future energy source and is widely used in various fields such as military, aerospace, and industry. .
But at the same time, nuclear energy is a double-edged sword. Counting from the completion of the world’s first nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union in 1954, the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant, mankind has used nuclear energy for more than 60 years. However, to this day, there is a series of nuclear waste and various nuclear accidents. The handling of the crisis is still a thorny issue. And this time Japan’s plan to discharge nuclear sewage into the ocean once again inspired the pain points of human nuclear energy utilization: how should the global crisis brought about by nuclear waste be dealt with?
The origin of the problem: where does nuclear waste water come from?
As we all know, Japan is a country with frequent geological disasters. First of all, because Japan is located at the junction of the Pacific and Asia-Europe plates, geological activities are quite frequent; according to worldwide statistics, 1/5 of earthquakes with a Richter scale of 6.0 or more occurred in this area, which only accounts for 0.25% of the earth’s surface area. Island country. Secondly, strong earthquakes can easily induce tsunamis. For Japan, which faces the sea on all sides, it often causes more damage than the former.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean in the eastern part of Honshu Island, Japan. This earthquake ranks fifth in intensity in current human records. The earthquake triggered a super-tsunami in the Northwest Pacific. Waves as high as 23 meters swept across the east coast of Japan 130 kilometers away, causing devastating damage to places such as Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima.
Even more frightening is that the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture also suffered a serious nuclear leak due to the earthquake and tsunami. According to subsequent investigations, the reason was that one of the nuclear reactors of the nuclear power plant failed out of control. Under extreme high temperatures, the core was melted and nuclear steam began to leak out continuously; in addition, the nuclear power plant also experienced a series of subsequent small-scale explosions. And fire.
In order to prevent the situation from getting out of control, the Japanese government urgently mobilized ships and equipment, pumped a large amount of sea water for irrigation, and urgently cooled the nuclear reactor. Although the effect has been achieved, once the seawater comes into contact with radioactive materials, it will immediately become nuclear waste water, which will also be highly radioactive.
So, where did all the nuclear waste water go? In fact, since the Fukushima nuclear power plant leak in 2011, the Japanese government has specially produced a large number of barrel-shaped water storage facilities and sealed these nuclear waste water in these “large water tanks.” Up to now, the nuclear waste water that has been put on the Fukushima nuclear pollution isolation zone has exceeded 1.23 million tons. Due to the limited production materials and storage space of the “large water tank”, it is expected that in 2022, its storage capacity will reach the upper limit of the set value.
It is not difficult to see that for a huge amount of nuclear waste water, this method of water tank sealing cannot solve the fundamental problem. Because nuclear pollution is different from ordinary pollution, the large amount of radioactive elements it carries is extremely difficult to deal with, it will cause huge pollution to the natural environment, and it will cause irreversible damage to the body functions of humans and animals. If the human body is exposed to excessive nuclear radiation, it can cause headaches and nausea at the slightest level, and cause leukemia, muscle necrosis, and even death. Moreover, the duration of nuclear pollution is too long, and the half-lives of many elements are measured on time scales of years, centuries, or even longer.
So it has dragged on to this day. The pollution of nuclear waste water is still strong, and the “relief plan” is about to expire. Knowing that the situation is urgent, the Japanese government has never found an effective solution to make a shock to the world. Decided.
Controversy aroused: What harm will nuclear wastewater bring?
In October 2020, just as the world was struck by the epidemic, the Japanese government suddenly announced that they planned to discharge “purified” nuclear waste water into the Pacific in batches.
The news was like a heavy bomb that shocked everyone. Governments and media from various countries have expressed their views and condemned the extremely irresponsible behavior of the Japanese government. Public opinion in Japan also tends to oppose it. my country points out that the dumping of radioactive materials from the Japanese nuclear power plant accident into the sea will have a profound impact on the marine environment, food safety, and human health. Fishermen living in the relevant waters expressed their hope that the Japanese government would stop this selfish behavior: “This is cutting off our livelihood.”
Although many Japanese politicians and some pro-government media claim that they will do their utmost to purify the nuclear waste water to minimize or even disappear, the research conclusions of many research institutions show that the facts may not be that simple. In their research results, if the Japanese government really discharges nuclear waste water into the Pacific Ocean, then nuclear pollution will spread with ocean currents and eventually spread to the world.
The first thing that is affected is the ecological environment of Fukushima and nearby sea areas. The invasion of nuclear waste will significantly increase the dose of nuclear radiation in a large area, causing the area to suffer secondary damage after the 2011 nuclear accident. The study pointed out that after the radioactive material leaked from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, the health and life expectancy of local animals and humans had dropped significantly, and even a variety of animal mutations occurred. Compared with terrestrial animals, marine organisms are often more sensitive to the living environment. It is impossible to imagine how the local marine biomes will be affected after such a huge amount of nuclear waste water enters the sea.