On biological effects potentially caused by this disaster

On March 11th 2011, a major earthquake with a
recorded magnitude of 9.0 caused a giant tsunami to crash into Fukushima
Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant which caused significant damage including causing many
nuclear reactors to meltdown. When the earthquake hit, the nuclear reactors all
automatically shutdown, however the external power supply of the nuclear
reactor was destroyed by the earthquake. There were emergency generators in
place to provide the needed electricity that was lost, but then the tsunami
flooded these generators and caused them to fail as well as damaging the
seawater pumps for both the main condenser circuits and the auxiliary cooling
circuits, such as the Residual Heat Removal cooling system. After this, the
reactor operators switched to emergency battery power. The batteries were
designed as a backup system to provide power for cooling the core for 8 hours- after
8 hours, the batteries ran out, and the residual heat could no longer be
carried away. In order to keep the core cool and relieve pressure levels,
operators had to start venting out steam and gases. Some of the gases were
radioactive fission products, but they existed in small amounts. Although some
of these gases are radioactive, they did not pose a substantial risk to public
safety- even to the workers on site- and were a better option than the risk of
nuclear meltdown. A Nuclear Emergency was declared, and the Fukushima
Prefecture issued an evacuation order for people within 2 km of the plant and on
March 12th the Prime Minister extended the evacuation zone to 20 km.

Despite the efforts of the operators, all
three cores significantly melted in the first three days after the disaster.
The nuclear
accident achieved a rating of 7 on the International Nuclear Disaster Scale (INDS)
resulting from high radioactive releases between the fourth and sixth days
following the event. 7 is the highest rating on the scale which puts this major
accident on the same scale as Chernobyl. Over 100,000 people were evacuated
from their homes and there have been no reported deaths or cases of radiation
sickness from the meltdown. The biological effects potentially caused by this
disaster and the release of radioactive materials are vastly unknown, however,
some studies have revealed the impacts of ionizing radiation from the Fukushima
Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. One such study, on the pale grass blue butterfly, found
reduction in size, slowed growth, morphological abnormality, and high death
rate both at the contaminated site and among butterflies that were bred in a
laboratory with parents collected from the site. 

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