The current estimated cost is around $100 billion, posing a threat to the wider economy and insurance companies. The social and environmental cost is more difficult to measure, the death toll will be measured, but this is not a true measure of social imapct, much of this is immeasurable, the impact on survivors, family and friends of those affected cannot be given a value. The pollution, debris and contamination of the ground water can be calculated but will be significant largely because of the risk posed by the nuclear issues that the country is currently struggling to get under control.
So in terms of points you can make for geography, the current repercussions of the nuclear fire have caused ripples in the global nuclear market. Is this justified? No one can design a building to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 9 or above, sturctures just cannot withstand that much shake. Yet not all countries investing in nuclear, such as us, sit on tectonic boundaries. This hazard just doesnt not apply to our current nuclear plans.
In terms of the severity of the disaster, the current reports suggest that it is coming under control, the fuel rods can be cooled, and the likelihood of a Chernobyl style melt down are very low. This situation is still developing, and there are now fires and explosions at three of the reactors.
This diagram is from the Daily Mail, hence is slightly more dramatic but explains the basis of the problem:
In case you have not seen the images, here is a before and after shot of the power station labelled to show the location of the reactors:
And who is directing our response? None other than local Politician Jeremy Browne, who was quoted on Sky News on Sunday - I am not in a position to make a definitive statement about the number of British nationals caught up in it but clearly it is a huge devastating disaster and there almost certainly will be foreign nationals involved." For anyone concerned about friends or relatives in the region:
The Foreign Office helpline number is 020 7008 0000
Dramatic new footage
This one shows the second and third waves racing towards the coast and the crests catching up to each other, The break point can be seen in the deepwater, indicating the start of draw back for the second wave and that the wave has to break as the ration reaches 1:7:
This image shows the near total destruction of the coastal towns close to the epicentre:
This image shows the strength of the wave as it moved fishing boats and overturned them in the middle of the town:
This one shows how the wave can create some rather unusual scenes:
In possibly the clearest image of the first wave, here is the black wall of water breaking over the retaining wall and surging into the town: