Fukushima - 5 Years Later


Five years ago a powerful earthquake and a following tsunami struck Japan's northeastern coast, killing 19000 people. The disaster led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

5 years later, cleanup work at the reactor site is still underwayAlthough many contaminated buildings have been cleared and radiation is low it will take decades to restore the area completely.

Residents have been able to return to nearby villages but about 100 000 former citizens of Fukushima cannot come back yet. Thousands are still living in temporary housing provided by the government.

One of the problems that Tepco,the energy company that operates Fukushima, faces is water. Groundwater from the nearby mountains continues to flow through the contaminated site. Filters must clean the water and remove radiation. At the moment , workers are building a wall around the nuclear complex to prevent  rain and ground water from getting into the basement of surrounding houses. Environmentalists are worried that radioactive water may flow into the ocean and affect fish population.

Another problem is the nuclear fuel which melted down.The fuel rods inside the reactor are still in place, however, authorities do not want to build a concrete containmentsimilar to the one that was built in Chernobyl 30 years ago.

Everyday life in and around the nuclear site is still dangerous. Radiation levels are constantly monitored and when workers are exposed to too much radiation they have to stop working. Robots are sent into the reactor core to research the area and make videos.



The worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl hit Japan's economy severely. It has cost the country over $200 billion to compensate its loss of nuclear energy through fossil fuels. The total cost of cleanup work is expected to run to an additional $200 billion.

Japan's energy authorities do  not seem to want to give up nuclear energy completely. After all of the country's reactors had been shut down after the disaster, three have been started again.



Related Topics



  • additional = extra costs
  • affect = have an influence on
  • although = while
  • authorities = group of people who are responsible for a certain field
  • basement = part of a building with rooms underground
  • billion = a thousand million
  • citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • compensate = make up for something you have lost
  • completely = totally
  • complex = system of buildings
  • concrete containment = here: strong building made out of cement that keeps radioactivity from getting out
  • constantly = always
  • contaminated = here: still radioactive
  • core = central  part
  • decade = ten years
  • disaster = very bad event that can kill many people and destroy buildings and other objects
  • earthquake = sudden movement of the earth's crust ; it can cause great damage and kill thousands of people
  • economy = the system of trade and industry in a country
  • environmentalist = person who cares about nature and the world around us
  • expose = to put someone in a dangerous situation where they are not protected
  • face = deal with
  • filter = object that is used to make water clean
  • flow = move
  • former = in the past
  • fossil fuel = energy from dead plants and animals that died millions of years ago
  • fuel = material that is burned to produce energy
  • government = people who rule the country
  • groundwater = water that collects below the surface of the earth
  • housing = place for people to live in
  • in place = where they were before the disaster
  • meltdown = very dangerous situation in a nuclear power station in which the fuel becomes very hot, melts through the container and escapes into the atmosphere
  • monitor = watch closely
  • level = amount
  • loss = you no longer have something
  • operate = run, own
  • prevent = stop
  • radiation = form of energy that comes from a nuclear reactor and can be very dangerous to your health
  • remove = get rid of
  • research = find out more about something, collect information
  • resident = a person who live sin a place
  • restore = to return something to its original state
  • rod = long, metal pole
  • run = be
  • severely = very badly
  • shut down = close
  • similar = like
  • strike - struck = hit
  • surrounding = around something
  • temporary = only for a short time
  • tsunami =  very large wave caused by movement of the earth's crust under the sea
  • underway = going on, to continue
  • village = small town