800 terabecquerels of Cesium by 2016

800 terabecquerels of Cesium- 137 by 2016.

800 terabecquerels of Cesium- 137 by 2016.

A professor from Japan’s Fukushima University Institute of Environmental Radioactivity (Michio Aoyama) told Kyodo in April that the West Coast of North America will be hit with around 800 terabecquerels of Cesium- 137 by 2016.

EneNews notes that this is 80% of the cesium-137 deposited in Japan by Fukushima, according to the company which runs Fukushima, Tepco:

(a petabequeral or “PBq” equals 1,000 terabecquerels.)

This is not news for those who have been paying attention.  For example, we noted 2 days after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that the West Coast of North America could be slammed with radiation from Fukushima.

We pointed out the next year that a previously-secret 1955 U.S. government report concluded that the ocean may not adequately dilute radiation from nuclear accidents, and there could be “pockets” and “streams” of highly-concentrated radiation.

The same year, we noted that 15 out of 15 bluefin tuna tested in California waters were contaminated with Fukushima radiation.

In 2013, we warned that the West Coast of North America would be hit hard by Fukushima radiation.

And we’ve noted for years that there is no real testing of Fukushima radiation by any government agency.

Indeed, scientists say that the amount of the West Coast of North America could end up exceeding that off the Japanese coast.

What’s the worst case scenario? That the mass die-off of sealife off the West Coast of North America – which may have started only a couple of months after the Fukushima melt-down – is being caused by radiation from Fukushima.

 

Source:  Globalresearch.ca

TEPCO might freeze the exploded nuclear reactor

TEPCO estimated that between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second) of radioactive tritium have since leaked into the ocean:

 

In lieu of the Japanese government doing the right thing and finally coming clean about the epic environmental catastrophe that is Fukushima, which it hopes to simply dig under the rug even as the inconvenient reality gets worse and thousands of tons of radioactive water make their way into the ocean, one is forced to rely on third-party sources for information on this tragedy. We present a useful primer from Scientific American on Fukushima “water retention” problem and “what you need to know about the radioactive water leaking from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.”

Radioactive Water Leaks from Fukushima: What We Know

Scientists on both sides of the Pacific have measured changing levels of radioactivity in fish and other ocean life since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. On Aug. 2, 2013, when Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) gave its first estimate of how much radioactive water from the nuclear plant has flowed into the ocean since the disaster, the company was finally facing up to what scientists have recognized for years.

“As an oceanographer looking at the reactor, we’ve known this since 2011,” said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Mass. “The news is TEPCO is finally admitting this.”

TEPCO estimated that between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second) of radioactive tritium have leaked into the ocean since the disaster, according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The Fukushima plant is still leaking about 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day, according to Japanese government officials. [Infographic: Inside Japan’s Nuclear Reactors]

Japan is haunted by two lingering questions from this aftermath of the disaster: First, how the radioactivity might seriously contaminate ocean life that represents a source of seafood for humans; second, whether it can stop the leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant.

Radioactivity is not created equal

The Fukushima plant is leaking much less contaminated water today compared with the immediate aftermath of the nuclear meltdown in June 2011 — a period when scientists measured 5,000 to 15,000 trillion becquerels of radioactive substances reaching the ocean. Even if radioactivity levels in the groundwater have spiked recently, as reported by Japanese news sources, Buesseler expects the overall amount to remain lower than during the June 2011 period.

“The amount of increase is still much smaller today than it was in 2011,” Buesseler told LiveScience. “I’m not as concerned about the immediate health threat of human exposure, but I am worried about contamination of marine life in the long run.”

The biggest threat in the contaminated water that flowed directly from Fukushima’s reactors into the sea in June 2011 was huge quantities of the radionuclide called cesium. But the danger has changed over time as groundwater became the main source for leaks into the ocean. Soil can naturally absorb the cesium in groundwater, but other radionuclides, such as strontium and tritium, flow more freely through the soil into the ocean. (TEPCO is still coming up with estimates for how much strontium has reached the ocean.)

Tritium represents the lowest radioactive threat to ocean life and humans compared with cesium and strontium. Cesium’s radioactive energy is greater than tritium, but both it and tritium flow in and out of human and fish bodies relatively quickly. By comparison, strontium poses a greater danger because it replaces the calcium in bones and stays for much longer in the body.

Not fishing for trouble
A number of fish species caught off the coast of the Fukushima Prefecture in 2011 and 2012 had levels of cesium contamination greater than Japan’s regulatory limit for seafood (100 becquerels per kilogram), but both U.S. and Japanese scientists have also reported a significant drop in overall cesium contamination of ocean life since the fall of 2011. The biggest contamination risks came from bottom-dwelling fish near the Fukushima site.

The radioactive groundwater leaks could still become worse in the future if TEPCO does not contain the problem, U.S. scientists say. But they cautioned against drawing firm conclusions about the latest impacts on ocean life until new peer-reviewed studies come out.

“For fish that are harvested 100 miles [160 kilometers] out to sea, I doubt it’d be a problem,” said Nicholas Fisher, a marine biologist at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. “But in the region, yes, it’s possible there could be sufficient contamination of local seafood so it’d be unwise to eat that seafood.”

The overall contamination of ocean life by the Fukushima meltdown still remains very low compared with the effects of naturally occurring radioactivity and leftover contamination from U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. Fisher said he’d be “shocked” if the ongoing leaks of contaminated water had a significant impact on the ocean ecosystems.

Source of radioactive water

TEPCO is facing two huge issues in stopping the radioactive water leaks. First, groundwater from nearby mountains is becoming contaminated as it flows through the flooded basements of the Fukushima plant’s reactor buildings. The water empties into the nuclear plant’s man-made harbor at a rate of about 400 tons per day — and TEPCO has struggled to keep the water from leaking beyond existing barriers into the ocean.

“This water issue is going to be their biggest challenge for a long time,” said Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “It was a challenge for the U.S. during Three Mile Island [a partial nuclear meltdown in Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979], and this one is much more challenging.”

Second, TEPCO must also deal with contaminated water from underground tunnels and pits that hold cables and pipes for the Fukushima nuclear plant’s emergency systems. The underground areas became flooded with highly radioactive water during the initial meltdown of the Fukushima plant’s reactors, and have since leaked water into the ocean despite TEPCO’s efforts to seal off the tunnels and pits.

TEPCO has also been racing to deal with the problem of storing hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, said Hiroaki Koide, a nuclear engineer at Kyoto University in Japan. The Japanese utility is testing a water decontamination system called ALPS that can remove almost all radioactive substances except for tritium, but has put much of the contaminated water in storage tanks in the meantime.

“The tanks are an emergency solution that is not suitable for long-time storage,” Koide said. “Water will leak from any tank, and if that happens, it will merge with the groundwater.”

What must be done

So what solutions exist beyond building more storage tanks? Klein reviewed a number of possible solutions with TEPCO when he was picked to head an independent advisory committee investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident.

One possible solution involves using refrigerants to freeze the ground around the Fukushima plant and create a barrier that stops the inflow of groundwater from the mountains. TEPCO is also considering a plan to inject a gel-like material into the ground that hardens into an artificial barrier similar to concrete, so that it can stop the contaminated groundwater from flowing into the ocean.

Such barriers could help hold the line while TEPCO pumped out the water, treated it with purification systems such as ALPS, and then figured out how to finally dispose of the decontaminated water.

“My priority would be stop the leak from the tunnel immediately,” Klein said. “Number two would be to come up with a plan to stop the inflow and infiltration of groundwater. Number three is to come up with an integrated systematic water treatment plan.”

Meanwhile, both Japanese and U.S. scientists continue to gather fresh scientific data on how the radioactivity impacts ocean life. Despite low contamination levels overall, studies have shown great differences in certain species depending on where they live and feed in the ocean.

“The most straightforward thing the Japanese can do now is measure the radionuclides in fish tissue, both at the bottom of the ocean and up in the water column at different distances from the release of contaminated groundwater,” Fisher said.

Fukushima fuel rods melted through concrete floor

Fukushima fuel rods may have completely melted:

Fukushima fuel rods may have completely melted

Fukushima fuel rods may have completely melted

Fuel rods inside one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have completely melted and bored most of the way through a concrete floor, the reactor’s last line of defence before its steel outer casing, the plant’s operator said.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said in a report that fuel inside reactor No 1 appeared to have dropped through its inner pressure vessel and into the outer containment vessel, indicating that the accident was more severe than first thought.

The revelation that the plant may have narrowly averted a disastrous “China syndrome” scenario comes days after reports that the company had dismissed a 2008 warning that the plant was inadequately prepared to resist a tsunami.

Tepco revised its view of the damage inside the No 1 reactor – one of three that suffered meltdown soon after the 11 March disaster – after running a new simulation of the accident.

It would not comment on the exact position of the molten fuel, or on how much of it is exposed to water being pumped in to cool the reactor. More than nine months into the crisis, workers are still unable to gauge the damage directly because of dangerously high levels of radiation inside the reactor building.

“Uncertainty involved in the analysis is significant, due to the uncertain nature of the original conditions and data used,” Tepco said in a report. It said the concrete “could have been penetrated”, but added that the fuel remained inside the reactor’s outer casing.

Previously, the firm had said that only some of the fuel had burned through its inner pressure vessel and dropped into the containment vessel.

“Almost no fuel remains at its original position,” Tepco said. The simulation shows that the fuel may have penetrated the concrete floor by up to 65cm, just 37cm from the reactor’s outer steel wall.

Tepco said that about 60% of the fuel in the two other reactors that experienced meltdown had dropped onto the concrete base, but had caused less damage.

After the tsunami, workers at the site stopped injecting reactor No 1 with water for about 14 hours, resulting in more serious damage than sustained by the two other reactors.

The company added, however, that fuel in all three reactors was being kept stable by cooling water, adding that the erosion had stopped.

It said the findings would not affect plans to bring the reactors to a safe state, known as cold shutdown, possibly by the middle of the month.

Japanese authorities may announce cold shutdown on 16 December, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Friday. That stage is reached when water used to cool the fuel rods remains below boiling point, thereby preventing the fuel from heating up again.

Stabilising the reactors is just the first stage of the operation to resolve the crisis. Tepco has said it won’t be able to begin removing the fuel for another 10 years. Decommissioning the plant could take at least 30 years.

Fukushima leaks Radioactive Cesium for years on end

Fukushima: Massive Leaks Continuing On a Daily Basis … For Years On End:

Graphic shows ‘direct discharge’ going from Fukushima Daiichi reactors into Pacific

Graphic shows ‘direct discharge’ going from Fukushima Daiichi reactors into Pacific

Tepco – the operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plants, announced a large leak of radioactive water. The cooling system in the spent fuel pools at Fukushima has failed for a second time in a month. Experts say that Fukushima is currently releasing up to 93 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium into the ocean each day. How much radiation is this? A quick calculation shows that it is about ten thousand times less than the amounts released by Chernobyl during the actual fire at the Russian nuclear plant.   But the Chernobyl fire only last 10 days, and the Fukushima release has been ongoing for more than 2 years so far. Indeed, Fukushima has already spewed much more radioactive cesium and iodine than Chernobyl. The amount of radioactive cesium released by Fukushima was some 20-30 times higher than initially admitted. Fukushima also pumped out huge amounts of radioactive iodine 129, which has a half-life of 15.7 million years. Fukushima has also dumped up to 900 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium-90, which is a powerful internal emitter which mimics calcium and collects in our bones, into the ocean. And the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl and could keep leaking for decades, centuries or millennia. Tepco graphics of the Fukushima plants even appear to show water directly flowing from the plant to the ocean.  And see this. The bottom line is that the reactors have lost containment.  There are not “some leaks” at Fukushima.  “Leaks” imply that the reactor cores are safely in their containment buildings, and there is a small hole or two which need to be plugged.   But scientists don’t even know where the cores of the reactors are.  That’s not leaking. That’s even worse than a total meltdown.

Graphic shows ‘direct discharge’ going from Fukushima Daiichi reactors into Pacific

Graphic shows ‘direct discharge’ going from Fukushima Daiichi reactors into Pacific

Fukushima tsunami threat data withheld from Tepco chairman

Tepco knew in 2006 of Fukushima tsunami threat:

 Tepco knew in 2006 of Fukushima tsunami threat


Tepco knew in 2006 of Fukushima tsunami threat

The Nuclear and Industrial Security Agency and Tokyo Electrical Power Co. had been mindful at least by 2006 that the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was at threat of having its power knocked out by enormous tsunami, NISA officials mentioned Tuesday. According to the officials, the awareness was shared at a study session attended by a number of utilities that was held in response to the 2004 Sumatra quake and tsunami in Indonesia. A paper compiled in August 2006 indicated the participants acknowledged that “there is a chance that power gear could lose their functions if 14-meter tsunami hit the Fukushima plant, with seawater flowing inside the (reactor) turbine buildings.” The agency, nonetheless, did not confirm no matter whether the utilities disseminated this details internally, the officials said. Countermeasures against massive tsunami were not taken and the plant on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture lost most of its power sources and hence the capacity to keep its reactors and spent fuel pools cooled after enormous tsunami overwhelmed the complex minutes after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake. Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was the utility’s president in 2006, testified Monday just before a Diet plan-appointed panel investigating the crisis that he had not been presented the tsunami-threat data.