We should learn what lessons from Fukushima?

“Lesson #1: People died from forced evacuations, not from radiation.”
– Dr. Kelvin Kemm


“It’s hard to believe the world just marked the tenth anniversary of the tragic Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown,” says Paul Driessen. “The name ‘Fukushima’ is clearly etched in our collective memories, and we are frequently urged to learn lessons from what happened there.”

“But what did actually happen – and which lessons should we learn? In other words, how do citizens, governments and the news media avoid learning the wrong lessons?

“Africa’s foremost nuclear power expert, Kelvin Kemm is especially knowledgeable about Chernobyl and Fukushima. In this article, he lays out what actually happened in Japan a decade ago – and what lessons we would be well advised to learn from that tragedy.”

Did you realize that not one single person was either killed or injured by nuclear radiation?

You may find Dr. Kemm’s commentary very enlightening.


We should learn what lessons from Fukushima?

Lesson #1: People died from forced evacuations, not from radiation

Dr. Kelvin Kemm

A decade has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the name Fukushima is etched into history. But few people know the truth of what happened. The phrase, “the lessons learned from Fukushima,” is well-known. But how do people implement them, if they don’t know what happened, or what lessons they should actually learn?

It was after lunch on 11 March 2011 that a giant earthquake occurred 72 kilometers (45 miles) off the Oshika Peninsula in Japan. It registered 9.0 on the Richter Scale, making it the largest ’quake ever recorded in Japan. The undersea ground movement, over 30 km (18 miles) beneath the ocean’s surface, lifted up a huge volume of water, like an immense moving hill. Meanwhile, the ground shockwave travelled toward the land at high speed. It struck Japan and shook the ground for six terrifying minutes.

The shock wave travelled under 11 nuclear reactors, including two separate Fukushima complexes: Fukushima-Diani and Fukushima-Daiichi. (Diani means ‘Complex 1’ and Daiichi ‘Complex 2’.) All 11 reactors shut down, as they were designed to do, and no doubt all the reactor operators breathed a great sigh of relief. It was premature.

A towering wave as high as 40 meters (130 feet!) in places

The mound of sea water was still traveling. As the water “hill” entered shallow water, nearer the land, it was lifted up into a towering wave as high as 40 meters (130 feet!) in places.  Then, some 50 minutes after the earthquake, the tsunami struck the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station. Some kilometres away, when water struck the Fukushima-Diani nuclear power station, it was “only” 9 m (30 ft) high, which was not as devastating as at Daiichi. Diani did not make it into the news.

The water jumped the protective sea walls at Fukushima-Daiichi. The sighs of relief from a half hour before turned into concern and dread. Over at the Fukushima Diani power station, 12 km (7 mi) to the south, water also caused damage to machinery, but the reactors were not harmed. There was no risk of radiation release, so the Diani power station was of no interest to the international media. Diani was safely shut down to “cold shutdown” after two days.

As a result, over the past decade, any reference to “Fukushima” has meant only the Daiichi power station and not the other one.

Tsunami swept up to 10 km (6 mi) inland in places

The devastating tsunami swept up to 10 km (6 mi) inland in places, washing away buildings, roads, and telecommunication and power lines. Over 15,000 people were killed, mainly by drowning.

Although all the nuclear reactors had shut down to a state known as “hot shutdown,” the reactors were still very hot and needed residual cooling for many hours after the urgent fast shutdown. People instinctively know not to put their hands on the engine block of a car right after it has been switched off. Nuclear reactors are the same and need to cool down until they reach the safe state known as “cold shutdown.”

A nuclear reactor has pumps that send water through the reactor until it cools. But the Fukushima electrical pumps failed, because the tsunami had washed away the incoming electricity power lines. So the reactor system automatically switched to diesel-driven generators to keep the cooling pumps going; but the water had washed away the diesel fuel supply, meaning the diesels worked for only a short while. Then it switched to emergency batteries; but the batteries were never designed to last for days, and could supply emergency power for only about eight hours.

The result was that hot fuel could not be adequately cooled, and over the next three or four days the fuel in three reactors melted, much like a candle melts.

The world media watched, and broadcast the blow-by-blow action. Japanese authorities started to panic under the international spotlight. The un-circulating cooling water was boiling off inside the reactors resulting in a chemical reaction between hot fuel exposed to hot steam. This led to the production of hydrogen gas. As the steam pressure rose, the engineers decided to open valves to release the pressure. That worked as planned, but it released the hydrogen as well.

Hydrogen, being light, rose up to the roof, where the ventilation system was not working, because there was no electricity. After a while some stray spark ignited the hydrogen which exploded, blowing the lightweight roof off the building right in front of the world’s TV cameras.  The Fukushima news just became much more dramatic. Authorities were desperate to show the world some positive action.

Not one single person was either killed or injured by nuclear radiation

They progressively ordered the evacuation of 160,000 people living around the Fukushima neighbourhood. That was a mistake. As days and weeks passed, it materialized that not one single person was killed by nuclear radiation. Not one single person was even injured by nuclear radiation, either. Even today, a decade later, there is still no sign of any longer-term radiation harm to any person or animal. Sadly, however, people did die during the forced evacuation.

So one of the lessons learned from Fukushima is that a huge amount of nuclear power can be struck by the largest earthquake and tsunami ever recorded, and nobody gets harmed by nuclear radiation.

Another lesson learned is that an evacuation order issued too hastily did harm and kill people.

Too hasty evacuation may have killed more than 2,000 

World Nuclear Association Director-General Dr. Sama Bilbao y León said: “The rapidly implemented and protracted evacuation has resulted in well-documented significant negative social and health impacts. In total, the evacuation is thought to have been responsible for more than 2,000 premature deaths among the 160,000 who were evacuated. The rapid evacuation of the frail elderly, as well at those requiring hospital care, had a near-immediate toll.” [emphasis added]

She added: “When facing future scenarios concerning public health and safety, whatever the event, it is important that authorities take an all-hazards approach. There are risks involved in all human activities, not just nuclear power generation. Actions taken to mitigate a situation should not result in worse impacts than the original events. This is particularly important when managing the response to incidents at nuclear facilities – where fear of radiation may lead to an overly conservative assessment and a lack of perspective for relative risks.”

Nuclear power is far safer than anyone had thought

Thus, a decade later, we can contemplate the cumulative lessons learned. Above all, they are that nuclear power is far safer than anyone had thought. Even when dreaded core meltdowns occurred, and although reactors were wrecked, resulting in a financial disaster for the owners, no people were harmed by radiation.

We also learned that, for local residents, it would have been far safer to stay indoors in a house than to join the forced evacuation. We also learned that governments and authorities must listen to the nuclear professionals, and not overreact, even though the television news cameras look awfully close.

Fukushima certainly produced some valuable lessons. Governments, news media and the public need to learn the correct lessons from them.

Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and is CEO of Stratek Business Strategy Consultants, a project management company based in Pretoria. He conducts business strategy development and project planning in a wide variety of fields for diverse clients. Contact him at Stratek@pixie.co.za

26 thoughts on “We should learn what lessons from Fukushima?”

  1. No one got hurt or killed by radiation?

    Fine ,lets have nuclear wars every weekend and put that hypothesis to the test. Anyone want to give it a try?
    Israel? North Korea? Joe Biden’s America? There must be someone cuckoo enough.
    The WW2 nuclear attacks on Japan and the nuclear tests and disasters ought to have taught man kind that one ought not mess with nuclear energy. Even Adolf Hitler knew better than the clowns running the world today.

    • Come on Steven, “Grow Up”! Nuclear Energy is like most things. There is a Good Side, and there is a Bad Side. The key to all this is maturity to recoginize the difference “Betwixt the Twain”. For those akin to you, who are a “All or Nothing” type, wisdom and knowledge are best administered by those who are aware of both prospects.

    • You are conflating nuclear reactors for power generation with nuclear weapons which makes no sense because they are totally different animals. Nuclear power plants don’t kill anyone. In fact, the power that they generate is all pro life.

      • To be fair the Brits only developed commercial electricity reactors as a cover for producing weapons grade material. Their first attempt caused a fire that killed 30 of their finest technicians. (Still hushed up I think) Then some young bright-spark suggested spacing the nuclear fuel further apart and running water pipes inbetween and as a bonus they could generate some steam and therefore electricity. The boffins didn’t like the idea as it meant a very long nuclear reaction time and the Govt was pressuring them for a British warhead.
        A group of top engineers was cobbled together and they realised that water in a reactor was pretty dangerous so they opted for carbon dioxide, compressed into a liquid as a coolant. My father was called in to design a massive prestressed concrete box with 4ft thick walls to contain the high pressure, temperature and r/a of their design. Calder Hall was a brilliant piece of engineering.
        I’m guessing that most of the USA post war reactors were built with similar unstated goals.
        I’d say it is hard to separate out the two rather different businesses.

    • In a nuclear Blast, relatively few die from the radiation. It is the Heat and Pressure wave that kills.
      Then all the other issues associated with a war on the civilian population.
      To quote a friend, an expert who was consulting with 3 mile island As it was happening “It was as if those idiots did every thing they could to melt it down… but failed”.

      Many die from non nuclear power generation, from the mine, or well head, to the boiler room. But nobody cares because fear and ignorance are the tools against Nuclear power.

      If you fear all things nuclear, get rid of your smoke detectors and lantern mantles.

      Federal Farmer

  2. Just like the global witch doctors were able to shut down the globe over a faked planned pysop to kill millions and then impose unecessary mask mandates that are covertly killing millions and then impose poison injection injunctions and social controls to kill millions. The non-zombies stopped believing in the coincidence theory of governmental “mistakes” over and over again… a long time ago.

    • So you do not drive your car that used gasoline because Napalm (based on gasoline) is so devastating?
      Equating a nuclear reactor with a nuclear bomb is such a profound level of ignorance it is shocking that you actually put your name on that post.

  3. Your report above says:-
    A nuclear reactor has pumps that send water through the reactor until it cools. But the Fukushima electrical pumps failed, because the tsunami had washed away the incoming electricity power lines. So the reactor system automatically switched to diesel-driven generators to keep the cooling pumps going; but the water had washed away the diesel fuel supply, meaning the diesels worked for only a short while. Then it switched to emergency batteries; but the batteries were never designed to last for days, and could supply emergency power for only about eight hours.
    Surely, there should have been a simple pre-planned solution to this beforehand…….a Plan B” , so to speak ?
    The Japanese Government KNEW that tsunamis were more than a possibility in this earthquake prone part of the world.
    Therefore, why could they not see what would happen to their coastal nuclear plants?
    This article says they had DIESEL-GENERATORS as a standby to cool the reactors in case of electrical failure and damage at sea level.


    Common sense would dictate that the overhead cabling and pylons would be destroyed in a tsunami. So with such a DANGEROUS facility if not cooled……and with extremely costly nuclear plants, one wonders why underground cabling fed from a BACK-UP PLANT ON HIGH GROUND…….did not occur to them beforehand?

    On the day of the tragic tsunami, that thought immediately occurred to me. It was commonsense to have the back-up SAFE from tsunamis.

    • thanks to usa westinghouse advisors etc who sold n set up the plants, the plan B was as good as 2 backups that both failed.

    • Funny how you did not pay a visit to the Japanese embassy and forward you observation prior to the ground breaking.

      The failure of a single break line means you have only your emergency break and down shifting.

      Count or 3 to 4 times the stopping distance.

      Knowing this, will you now install 4 independent systems on your car?


    • 20-20 hindsight is running amok here..
      I posit that the Japanese are not stupid. They have the longest kept records of earthquake and tsunami’s on the planet.. The safety measures taken at the powerplants took these records into consideration.
      In the previous three hundred years and more the Japanese records prove that no scale 9 quakes had ever occured. SO. . .squandering money based on a fear of something that has never happened is not something rational people do.
      for instance. . .a meteor about a mile in diameter plunging into the ocean would generate a wave over 1500 feet high. . .It has never happened before in recorded history. . BUT. .according to your plan the protective sea wall should be built to 2000 feet. . .just to be safe.
      The idea is preposterous ! and mind boggling expensive…not likely to happen..
      Castigating the engineer after the fact is the epitomi of ignorance.

  4. … open conspiracies that are right in our face were openly published in white papers discussed in 2010 and decades before about what is exactly happening now. The lesson learned is that cattle prefer TV psyop entertainment propaganda and soft kill eugenics even while it is all happening in real time and in light of overwhelming evidence that long term agendas are being executed in Lockstep… And they even called one of their detailed 2010 white paper planning documents “Lock Step”.

    Rockefeller Study Envisages Future Dictatorship Controlled By Elite (2010)

  5. Thanks for the info. In what way had the radiation no impact on one’s life? Is he trying to say a directly impact? The lockdowns had a direct impact too on humans, getting sick not by ‘the virus’ but by the imagination that one has gotten ill by a virus. It is known that one can have symptoms without being infected. As usual, humans behaviour can harm more people than wanted.

  6. dunno I clearly saw the blue flash on multiple clips…and thats not a good look
    quite a few mutant birds n plants found
    and the removed shitloads of soils etc pretty damned fast
    and then theres the ongoing billions of litres of water they admit IS rad contaminated seeping and leaking to seas
    thanks but I prefer coal or gas anyday

  7. I totally disagree with him. Forced evacuations or not people would have died regardless. What killed most of the people was the massive tsunami that simply wiped out everything in its path. Staying in a building would have been no use. All but the very strongest ones got flattened and washed away. What lessons should have been learned is to not under estimate the size of the tsunami and to listen to experts who had predicted that a tsunami of size that hit Fukushima would be the main killer.

  8. No-one is addressing the FACT that the nuclear plant could not be COOLED by pumping water because there was no electricity to get to the coastal plant.Pylons and overhead cables had been destroyed.
    So the cables should have been UNDERGROUND and the electricity or diesel engine source on the nearest high ground.
    I see that no-one is addressing THAT issue!
    Japan do not have their own fossil fuels, hence the nuclear plants. Dangerous in an earthquake zone !!

  9. This is not the only example where radiation alone has been shown not as dangerous as made out to be.

    When a nuclear bomb is exploded, the main killers are:
    1) the shock wave, which at short distances is powerful enough to dismember people.
    2) heat
    3) dirty—the unexploded explosives and some of the explosion’s byproducts are in and of themselves highly toxic such that the ingestion of even micrograms can be fatal. That ingestion can be either forced into and under the skin by the explosion, or taken orally.
    4) radiation—it is now known that people have been exposed to higher levels of radiation than expected absent the above three factors, and come out healthy.

    In the case of Fukashima, some toxic byproducts have escaped into the environment. But the radiation hasn’t been the killer expected.

  10. I’m 60 years old and there is no GD difference between radiation from the nuclear fuel from a reactor or a bomb and once the radio isotopes are released and come in contact with you all the neutrons and other particles will damage your DNA whether you can feel it at the time or not…
    The amount of injury and death is a question of time and magnitude of exposure.
    Now liberal PC society has a problem with me and that is that they think I am what I am not. This has been going on ever since I was born.
    That being that I am a retarded, insane idiot.
    If I am so dumb as a fence post how come I scored 15 out of 18 as a thinker on the true colors test? How come I have no debt and more gold than the Canadian government? How come I don’t believe in the BS that society believes in?
    I’ll tell you all. It is because I am smarter than you all think I am. Now go and sin no more.

  11. The author of this article wrote: “Even today, a decade later, there is still no sign of any longer-term radiation harm to any person or animal. ”

    I don’t believe or disbelieve this claim because I haven’t scrutinized the data. However, please help me understand YouTube videos I have seen that demonstrated high levels of seawater radioactivity at the California shoreline within 2-3 weeks of the Fukushima explosions. Thank you.

  12. Ironically, one can reduce r/a by more than half by combustion in Brown’s Gas which is produced by electolysis of water. We are not sure of the science of how something as predictable as r/a half-life can be accelerated in a matter of minutes.
    Yull Brown of Sydney was a clever lab technician who refused to sell his ideas to “big oil” etc because he knew they’d shelve anything that might reduce oil sales. ( Cars run more efficiently with H & O enriched air. )
    The Japanese knew all about r/a reduction but did not apply it at Fukushima.

  13. Westinghouse made several suggestions to Tepco about improving their ancient Boiling Water Reactors in Japan but nothing happened.
    From my reading, Tepco never ran formal “start-up tests” which force operators to do dummy-runs of classical problems such as coolant pump failures PRIOR TO starting up the reactor.
    The chronic British Morris Minor car, also built in the 1960s is not used to-day because it has been superceded (several times). Likewise, BWRs should not be running to-day because they lack multiple layer safety systems and I’ll cheer when Japan finally decommissioned them.

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