Japanese Tsunami. What was the worst outcome? Nuclear or Civil?

The fairly recent Japanese Tsunami had massive loss of life and destruction.

It also had the shutdown/meltdown of the Fukishima Nuclear complex.

In overall terms, what was worse? The civilian and infrastructure damage? Or the associated nuclear event.

Fell free to use whatever scale you care to argue.

How many people died as a direct result of the tsunami? 15,884

How many people died as a direct result of the destruction of the nuclear facilities? 0

There may have been zero fatalities as a direct result, but according to Wikipedia, “1,600 deaths were related to the evacuation or its consequences (such as living in temporary housing and hospital closures).” these deaths may not have been a direct result of the nuclear disaster, but they certainly would not have happened if Fukushima had not melted down. 1600 deaths is pretty bad, but of course in terms of fatalities that means the tsunami itself was ten times worse than the nuclear disaster.

There is now a “20-km exclusion zone” around the nuclear facility. I assume that’s a semi-circle, so we’re talking about 63 square kilometers of land that will be off limits for a Very Long Time. I’m not sure how to compare this to the 1000+ square kilometers of land that were wiped clean by the tsunami (but can be rebuilt whenever Japan is able to devote the resources to it).

Also compare to the area contaminated by the refinery disasters, or to the area wiped out by the dam burst, that were also results of the tsunami.

Consider the exclusion zone to be a future nature preserve. Seriously. In 20, 30 years time, it’s going to revert to approximately what Japan would be like without humans. It probably will have many endangered plants and animals living in it.

The area around Chernobyl has pretty much gotten to that point, although since the radiation levels there were much higher than at Fukushima, there are some negative effects to some of the plants and animals. How much varies depending on the susceptibility of the various species. They even coined a name for it: a Radiological Reserve.

Another such reserve is the Hanford Reach National Monument, which is made up of the buffer area around the Hanford Reservation where the reactors for the Manhattan Project were built. That area hasn’t seen any development or agriculture since 1943.

No, to reach that conclusion we need to know how many people died due to being evacuated or its consequences (such as living in temporary housing and hospital closures) because of the other effects of the tsunami.

The tsunami displaced tens of millions of people and required the closure of thousands of medical facilities. It is impossible that the indirect deaths attributed to the nuclear facility even comes within 5 orders of magnitude of the indirect deaths related to the tsunami.

ETA. Just checked the reference for the Wikipedia article. It says nothing even remotely like “1,600 deaths were related to the evacuation or its consequences” of the nuclear accident. It says that there were 1,612 deaths in the Fukushima prefecture “off the Pacific Ocean Earthquake”. If you look at other sources this is quite clearly just the total death toll from the disaster. The source makes no attempt to split those into deaths caused by drowning, building collapse etc. and deaths related to the nuclear accident.

Wikipedia does it again. :rolleyes: