On March 11, 2011, a major earthquake in Japan and the tsunami that followed disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, causing a nuclear accident.
The disaster – commonly known as ” Fukushima” – was the most significant nuclear incident since the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the second disaster to be given the Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale.
According to Our World in Data, 40-50 people experienced physical injury or radiation burns at the nuclear facility, with no direct deaths. But, mortality from radiation exposure was not the only threat to human health: it’s estimated that around 1,600 people died as a result of evacuation procedures and stress-induced factors:
This figure ranges between 1,000-1,600 deaths from evacuation (the evacuation of populations affected by the earthquake and tsunami at the time can make sole attribution to the nuclear disaster challenging). Stress-induced deaths affected mostly older people; more than 90 percent of mortality occurred in individuals over the age of 66.
How many people are projected to suffer in the long-term from low-level radiation exposure?
According to Our World in Data:
In its Health Risk Assessment of the nuclear disaster, the World Health Organization (WHO) note exposure levels too low to affect human health for the national population, with exception to a few communities in closest proximity. In these localities, it is those who were infants at the time of exposure who are at greatest risk of cancer—at the two closest sites, the incidence of cancer in this demographic is projected to be between 4-7 percent higher than baseline cancer rates for both males and females (with the exception of thyroid cancer in females, which is 70 percent higher). The WHO project the number of deaths from low-level exposure to be close to zero, and up to 400 in upper estimates.'
Read more: Radioactive Particles From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Found In California Wine