portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

energy & nuclear | environment

Fukushima Update: Highly Radioactive Water Has Reached The Sea Posing 'Threat To Life'

Two and a half years may have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but problems there are as serious now as they've ever been
The head of the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force Shinji Kinjo told Reuters on Monday that the leak was an emergency, but he was worried the plant's operator, TEPCO, had no sense of how to deal with it.

In a recent news conference, TEPCO General manager Masayuki Ono said the situation was bleak. "We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good. "


---------


Radioactive contamination 'soaring' in Fukushima groundwater — Strontium and other beta emitters up 4,500% in recent days; Cesium rises nearly 1,500% — Tepco says it doesn't know why levels spiked.

Aug. 6, 2013: on Monday, TEPCO detected high levels of radioactive substances in groundwater collected at a monitoring well close to the turbine building of the No. 2 reactor where highly radioactive water accumulated in its basement. The level of radioactive cesium was 14 times higher [960 Bq/L vs 65 Bq/L] than the reading logged last Wednesday. Strontium and other radioactive materials that emit beta rays were 46 times higher [56,000 Bq/L vs 1,200 Bq/L]. TEPCO officials say they do not know the cause for the spikes, and they will further look into how contaminated water has spread and what effects it has brought.

Asahi Shimbun, August 6, 2013: Radioactivity levels soared 47-fold over just five days in groundwater from a monitoring well on the ocean side of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the plant operator said Aug. 5. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 56,000 becquerels of radioactive substances, including strontium, were detected per liter of groundwater sampled on Aug. 5 in the "No. 1-5 " monitoring well, which is adjacent to the turbine building for the No. 1 reactor. The previous measurement for the well water was made on July 31.

Tepco Press Release, Aug. 5, 2013: the latest situation concerning the detection of high densities of Tritium and Strontium in the observation hole at the east side of the Unit 1-4 Turbine Buildings Groundwater observation hole No. 1-5 (west of the groundwater observation hole No.1-3)

Aug. 5, 2013: Cesium-134 @ 310 Bq/L; Cesium-137 @ 650 Bq/L; All-β @ 56,000 Bq/L
July 31, 2013: Cesium-134 @ 21 Bq/L; Cesium-137 @ 44 Bq/L; All-β @ 1,200 Bq/L


---------


Vice Governor: "Emergency situation " at Fukushima; Tepco has increased the risk of further leaks

Fukushima asks govt. to take steps to stop leaks The vice governor of Fukushima Prefecture has asked the government to take the lead in handling the matter and stop the leakage. Masao Uchibori told an official from the Nuclear Regulation Authority that some of Tepco's measures have increased the risk of further leaks. The measures aren't enough to deal with an emergency situation.


---------


Wall St. Journal: Fukushima leaks are "massive public health issue " — Obviously this could spread throughout Pacific and get into food supply


---------


BBC: Water crisis at Fukushima has only just begun — "Plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer " — It's rapidly being overwhelmed deep beneath ground

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, Tokyo: Engineers are now facing a new emergency. The Fukushima plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer. Deep beneath the ground, the site is rapidly being overwhelmed by water.

It's now so high, the water will soon reach the surface. Then it will start flowing over-ground into the sea.

Even if the government does step in, it's not clear what it could do. The only other solution is to pump out the contaminated groundwater and put it in storage tanks. Most of them are already filled up.

At least 400 tons of new water pours into the site every day. It's going to continue for years and years.

Fukushima's water crisis has only just begun.


---------


Wall St. Journal: Official warns Fukushima reactor buildings could "topple " — Tepco's work to change flow of groundwater can form pools below surface that soften the earth

as [Tepco] prepares this week to start work on a new set of measures that would ring off and cap the area where the most highly contaminated water has been found, some experts and regulators are saying that the battle to completely contain radioactivity to the site of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents may be a losing one.

It's preparing to extend the underground hardened-earth barrier in a ring around the most heavily contaminated section of coastline, in hopes of heading groundwater off before it can flood in. Tepco is also proposing to cap that ringed section with gravel and asphalt, so nothing gets out. The operator is hoping to get an initial ring of hardened ground done by October.

But there's a risk to changing the flow of groundwater in the ways that Tepco is considering, said Tatsuya Shinkawa, nuclear accident response director of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at a news conference last month. The water could pool dangerously underground, softening the earth and potentially toppling the reactor buildings, he said.


---------


Japan's Top Nuclear Official: Tepco will never be able to store all the radioactive water at Fukushima plant — They'll end up dumping it into ocean


Tepco's water-control measures, such as pumping out contaminated water and putting it in storage, are "merely a temporary solution, " said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a news conference last week. Eventually, "it will be necessary to discharge water " that's still contaminated into the sea, he said.

Some 400 metric tons of water a day is still being used to cool the melted fuel cores—though much of that water is now recycled. More troubling is another 400 tons a day of groundwater that flows down from hills and mountains into the compound, and toward the sea.

Now, Tepco is planning to pump out some of the water that's built up behind the [underground] barrier, and store it as well.

Mr. Tanaka, the nuclear regulatory chairman, has said that Tepco should admit it'll never be able to handle all the inflow of water, and start arranging for the release of contaminated water into the ocean, as long as it's under allowable limits for radioactivity.


---------


Lethal threat from radioactive water flowing into sea from crippled Fukushima

Japan's nuclear watchdog warned of a new emergency at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant yesterday, confirming that highly radioactive water had reached the sea and was posing a threat to life.

Shinji Kinjo, head of a special taskforce within the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority, said that contaminated groundwater had breached an underground barrier, was rising towards the surface and exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge.


---------


BBC: "Huge buildup " of radioactive groundwater at Fukushima plant — Expert concerned "contamination has spread to all sorts of places "


---------


CNN Nuclear Expert: Fukushima plant is in 'uncharted territory' — Highly radioactive water to either be boiled until it evaporates, or dumped in ocean

Highly radioactive water from the site has been seeping into groundwater and the harbor off the plant. The problem now is what to do with groundwater that's leaking into the damaged basements of the reactor buildings and passing out contaminated, said Michael Friedlander, a former nuclear plant operator and engineer.

[Tepco] is having to store the radioactive water in massive tank farms built around the site — a makeshift solution with no good permanent fix, Friedlander said. And Friedlander said that may leave TEPCO and Japan's government with two choices sure to stoke further public anger: "You can either dump it in the ocean, or you can evaporate it. "

"At the end of the day, collecting 400 tons of water every single day is not a sustainable solution, " he said. "We're in uncharted territory here. "

update 07.Aug.2013 13:33

enenews

Gov't: Radioactive iodine detected in 6 seaweed samples by South Korea — Concerns over Fukushima contamination after Tepco admits plant is leaking into ocean



South Korean fishery products are nearly free of radiation and safe to eat, the government said Friday, amid renewed public scare over possible contamination from radioactive leakage in Japan [...]

The results showed that 14 species tested were completely free of radiation with what the ministry called a "very small amount" of a radioactive material detected in tangleweed [Kombu (Laminaria japonica), a type of seaweed].

"A very small amount (3.65-5.25 becquerel/kilogram) of iodine was detected in six samples of tangleweed [...]

[...] concerns were recently renewed after the Japanese operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant admitted for the first time that radioactive water has been leaking into the surrounding waters. [...]

more 07.Aug.2013 19:05

updates

Nuclear Expert: Water now at Fukushima plant has 3 times more cesium than Chernobyl's total release — "That underscores the scale of this never-ending threat"

Experts say the government's admission shows that the crisis at the Daiichi complex is being managed, not solved. "It is an emergency - has been since 11 March 2011 and will continue to be long into the future," said Shaun Burnie, an independent nuclear consultant.

He says onsite contaminated water contains three times the caesium released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident - the world's worst nuclear disaster. "That underscores the scale of this never-ending threat."


--------


Senior Scientist: 100 times more strontium than cesium in water at Fukushima plant — "Strontium gets into your bones... it changes the equation for Japanese fisheries" — Not "too" concerned U.S. fish will be affected

National Geographic, August 7, 2013: [...] The makeup of the radioactive material being leaked by the plant has changed. [Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has analyzed thousands of samples of fish from the area] said the initial leak had a high concentration of cesium isotopes, but the water flowing from the plant into the ocean now is likely to be proportionally much higher in strontium-90, another radioactive substance that is absorbed differently by the human body and has different risks. The tanks (on the plant site) have 100 times more strontium than cesium, Buesseler said. He believes that the cesium is retained in the soil under the plant, while strontium and tritium, another radioactive substance, are continuing to escape. [...] the higher concentration of strontium-90 that is now in the outflow poses a trickier problem, because it is a bone-seeking isotope. "Cesium is like salt—it goes in and out of your body quickly," he explains. "Strontium gets into your bones." While he's still not too concerned that fish caught off the U.S. coast will be affected, "strontium changes the equation for Japanese fisheries, as to when their fish will be safe to eat." [...]

The Independent, August 7, 2013: [...] Every Thursday [fisherman Yoshio Ichida, who lives 27 miles from Fukushima Daiichi] and his colleagues learn the latest radioactive readings from the sea. "Until recently, we only detected caesium, but now we detect strontium" [...]


----------


Gundersen: No way to stop Fukushima's radioactive water going into Pacific — It will continue for at least 20-30 years


Arnold Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: [...] we are contaminating the Pacific Ocean which is extraordinarily serious.

Evgeny Sukhoi: Is there anything that can be done with that, I mean with the ocean?

Gundersen: Frankly, I don't believe so. I think we will continue to release radioactive material into the ocean for 20 or 30 years at least. They have to pump the water out of the areas surrounding the nuclear reactor. But frankly, this water is the most radioactive water I've ever experienced [...] there is an extraordinary amount of water and even if they build the wall, ground waters enter the Pacific through underwater sources. It doesn't have to run of [sic] the top of the surface into the Pacific. It can enter the underwater sources as well. [...]

Fukushima 08.Aug.2013 00:50

Is in bad shape

August 7, 2013: Japan says Fukushima leak worse than thought [...] Highly radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tonnes a day [New York Times says 400 tons/day], officials said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up. [...] Tatsuya Shinkawa, a director in METI's Nuclear Accident Response Office, told reporters the government believed water had been leaking for two years [...] Shinkawa described the water as "highly" contaminated. [...]

latest 08.Aug.2013 11:57

updates

Gundersen: Fukushima reactors "will become unstable" if new barrier causes water buildup underground — Nuclear buildings could topple during quake

Arnold Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: [...] The Japanese are proposing putting in a barrier to prevent the water from entering the ocean. That is two years too late and will be too late by the time they construct that barrier. But the barrier also causes another problem. If the water can't go anywhere into the Pacific Ocean, it is going to build up onsite, which means that the nuclear reactors themselves will become unstable. The water can pull underneath the nuclear buildings and if there is an earthquake, in fact the nuclear buildings could topple. [...]

---------

Asahi: Huge island made of "contaminated soil and rubble" proposed off Fukushima coast — Place for disposal of radioactive debris — "Measures will be taken to prevent adverse impact on ocean"

---------

'China Syndrome' at Fukushima plant? Recent dramatic spikes in contamination show something is changing — Has a containment structure given way?

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear: The crazy thing about Fukushima is we don't really know the status of Units 1, 2 and 3's core, or the reactor pressure vessels, or even the radiological containment structures [... ]
What's to account for 100-fold increases in cesium, strontium, tritium, in the groundwater, in the bay, off the coastline, just in recent months? [... ]
So something is changing, and questions start to need to be asked: What has given? Have one of these containment structures given way, allowing the flow of the radioactivity to increase dramatically?

a look at geology of the site 09.Aug.2013 01:38

Shaker


And one more 09.Aug.2013 12:27

Shaker

If one is interested, go the this page, scroll down to the comments made by the poster Element, and read 5 or 6 of the comments that follow. It's thoughtful and well written.

 link to www.zerohedge.com

Personally, I think it's a good assessment. It's pretty much, in much better terms, what I had said in the comment to this post, though I would argue and state, as I did in my comment, that because of the damage to foundations, piping, whatever, containment becomes a useless word, as water that carries the danger has ingress and egress. That the melted fuel remains in the buildings doesn't tell me that the products (radioactivity) from that fuel is contained, and the radioactivity is truly the concern, isn't it? I don't care where the fuel is, whether it's in the building or not at this point.