Fukushima – pointing the finger
Public engagement 21st March 2016
The sheer amount of media coverage of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has been nothing short of staggering. Huge initial television and newspaper coverage of the incident as it unfolded bloated into a swathe of online articles and blogs by both professional journalists and members of the public. The advent of social media meant that, unlike previous high-profile disasters like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, opinions and information were readily and rapidly disseminated so people could form their own judgement after scrutinising a range of sources. However, just like previous nuclear incidents the popular opinion of nuclear has been negatively affected as people are more likely to read a palatable editorial than the factual document provided on the World Nuclear Association’s website.
As we pass the five year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster media coverage continues unabated. The scale of environmental and human impact are still the focal points, together with the clean-up operation and the probability of a similar disaster occurring in the future. However, emphasis has started to shift on apportioning blame. The company in charge of Fukushima at the time of the disaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), has received criticism in both Japanese and worldwide media for the sluggishness of its initial response to the incident and long-term management of the site. Further to this, legal cases involving compensation for residents previously deemed to be outside the statutory evacuation zone have only started to be resolved. It’s clear to me that media coverage will continue to be polarised and the popular opinion of nuclear will continue to be damaged.