The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains shut down as its owner continues to clean up the nuclear and non-nuclear damage to the six reactors and their supporting buildings and infrastructure at the site. The facility, on Japan's east coast, continues to be shutdown and radiation continues to be a concern.
Damage at the facility includes the partial or total meltdown of at least three of the six reactors, damage to electrical controls, damage to cooling system piping and controls, damage to reactor buildings and containment chambers and widespread scattering of debris ranging from non-radioactive to highly radioactive. The use of massive amounts of water in an effort to cool the various reactors and storage tanks also resulted in radioactive water accumulating in various buildings and in puddles outside of the buildings.
Several pockets of high radiation levels have been found in recent days, in or near the ventilation system that exhausts between two of the reactor buildings. While these readings are high for the Fukushima incident they do not approach the extreme amounts of radiation seen after the Chernobyl fire and explosion in 1986. This incident does remain the most serious nuclear accident since that time.
All six reactors are shut down and are reported to be at subcritical temperatures, meaning the cooling process has reduced the fission reaction in the nuclear material below self-sustaining levels. The reactors and the storage pools for spent fuel rods are actively monitored for temperature and radioactivity. Cooling operations have largely returned to normal but repairs to controls and to piping continues.
There have been regular releases of water into the ocean with lower levels of radioactivity to make room in storage tanks for water that is more radioactive. The evacuation zone remains in place. The Japanese government is monitoring agricultural products in the entire region and several instances of radioactive contamination have been found and those items removed from sale.
Japan's Diet or parliament has created a body to disburse funds to compensate victims of the Fukushima disaster. The government is providing about $26 billion and it is expected that the site's owner, TEPCO, will also pay into the fund though its liability has not been determined. TEPCO continues its recovery work at Fukushima.