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FUKUSHIMA – An Unstopable Slow Motion Disaster

The image below is the most recent Fukushima radioactivity distribution map of the Pacific ocean. It speaks for itself of the scale of this disaster. Why isn’t this more in the news?  What is our government doing for us?

FukushimPacific Map 2013

TEPCO, the operators of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, can’t stop radiation from leaking into the Pacific Ocean. They are keeping the melted cores cool by pumping in fresh water, then storing the radioactive hot water in storage tanks. There are about a thousand tanks holding this radioactive cooling water on site, and they just keep adding more tanks.  Meanwhile, there appear to be things happening to these tanks. Radiation levels in some tanks are rising.  TEPCO had eight workers assigned to inspect and manage the tanks. That means, if they each took 15 minutes to inspect a tank, it would take over a week to inspect all the tanks. Now, as a result of the radiation levels being 18 times higher than they thought it was, they have hired 50 more people to look after these storage tanks. (See article below)

In addition to the storage tank problems and the unending addition of more tanks to capture the radioactive cooling water being pumped in and out of the reactor cores, there are cracks in the floor of the containment buildings leaking radioactive material directly into the Pacific. There are no viable plans to stop these leaks.  There is also the impending disaster of the elevated spent fuel rod storage tanks that are at risk of collapsing.

ADDENDUM: One day after this post a new BBC news story [ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23940214 ] reported Japan will spend $470 million on a plan to freeze the ground between the reactor and the Pacific Ocean. It is hoped this frozen wall will contain the radio active water leaking from the reactor containment tanks. Well holes would be drilled into the ground at certain intervals and cooling pipes connected to a massive refrgeration plant would be inserted into the holes to freeze the ground along the shore.  If the heated water leaking from the reactors doesn’t defeat the cooling system, it seems to me that the wall would actually function more like a damn and would only work if the geology under the plant is just perfect for this containment method. Being a seismically active area, this seems unlikely, but we shall see.

Fukushima radiation levels 18 times higher than previously thought

Operator of Japanese nuclear power plant claims there has been no leak but has yet to discover cause of radiation spike

theguardian.com, Sunday 1 September 2013 05.22 EDT

water tanks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant leak

A Tepco employee in protective clothing works around water tanks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in June. Photograph: Noboru Hashimoto/EPA

Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing fresh concern about the safety of the wrecked facility.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said radiation near the bottom of the tank measured 1,800 millisieverts an hour – high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours. Tepco said water levels inside the tank had not changed, indicating there had not been a leak. But the company said it had yet to discover the cause of the radiation spike.

Last month Tepco said another storage tank – of the same design as the container causing concern at the weekend – had leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water, possibly into the sea.

Japan‘s nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an “anomaly”, to level 3, a “serious incident”, on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases.

Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports that a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day.

Experts said those leaks, which are separate from the most recent incidents, may have started soon after the plant was struck by a powerful tsunami on 11 March 2011.

The tsunami smashed into the plant after Japan’s north-east coast was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. The waves killed almost 19,000 people, while the resulting triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi forced 160,000 people to abandon their homes.

The high radiation levels announced on Sunday highlighted the dangers facing thousands of workers as they attempt to contain, treat and store water safely, while preventing fuel assemblies damaged in the accident from going back into meltdown.

Japan’s nuclear workers are allowed an annual accumulative radiation exposure of 50 millisieverts. Tepco said radiation of 230 millisieverts an hour had been measured at another tank, up from 70 millisieverts last month. A third storage tank was emitting 70 millisieverts an hour, Tepco said. Radiation near a pipe connecting two other tanks had been measured at 230 millisieverts.

Tepco admitted recently that only two workers had initially been assigned to check more than 1,000 storage tanks on the site. Neither of the workers carried dosimeters to measure their exposure to radiation, and some inspections had not been properly recorded.

The firm responded to growing criticism of its handling of the water problem by increasing the number of workers patrolling the tanks from the current total of eight to 50.

The firm’s inability to safely store contaminated water and prevent more damage to the environment has prompted doubts about its ability to lead the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup. Decommissioning the plant is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars and last around 40 years.

Tepco recently set up a committee to focus on the water leaks and said it would seek advice from foreign decommissioning experts. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has said the government will play a bigger role in preventing water contamination.

The chairman of the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, Shunichi Tanaka, said: “We cannot fully stop contaminated water leaks right away. That’s the reality. The water is still leaking in to the sea, and we should better assess its environmental impact.”

Tepco’s handling of the leaks has drawn an angry response from local fishermen, who had to abandon plans to conduct a trial catch at the end of August. Fishermen south of Fukushima Daiichi have not been able to fish commercially since the disaster, while those north of the plant can catch only octopus and whelks.

“We think that contaminated water management by your company has completely fallen apart,” Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the Japan Fisheries Co-operative, told Tepco’s president, Naomi Hirose, during a meeting in Tokyo last week.

“This has dealt an immeasurable blow to the future of Japan’s fishing industry, and we are extremely concerned.”

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Fukushima, A Crisis Still Unfolding

What follows is a report on Fukushima that is chilling.  Wm Boardman published this over at OpEdNews.  A portion of it is posted here for those following this blog and those trying to find follow-up news on what is happening at Fukushima.

Fukushima Spiking All of a Sudden

opednews.com

By William Boardman

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back toReader Supported News.

Bad as the situation is at Fukushima, it’s gotten worse.

Perhaps you’ve heard that radiation levels of the water leaving the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power plane and flowing into the Pacific Ocean have risen by roughly 9,000 per cent. Turns out, that’s probably putting a good face on it.

By official measurement, the water coming out of Fukushima is currently 90,000 times more radioactive than officially “safe” drinking water.

These are the highest radiation levels measured at Fukusmima since March 2011, when an earthquake-triggered tsunami destroyed the plant’s four nuclear reactors, three of which melted down.

As with all nuclear reporting, precise and reliable details are hard to come by, but the current picture as of July 10 seems to be something like this:

”   On July 5, radiation levels at Fukushima were what passes for “normal,” which means elevated and dangerous, but stable, according to measurements by the owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

”   On July 8, radiation levels had jumped about 90 times higher, as typically reported.  TEPCO had no explanation for the increase.

”   On July 9, radiation levels were up again from the previous day, but at a slower rate, about 22 per cent.  TEPCO still had no explanation.

”   On July 10, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) issued a statement saying that the NRA strongly suspects the radioactive water is coming from Fukushima’s Reactor #1 and is going into the Pacific.

We Must Do Something About This Thing With No Impact

“We must find the cause of the contamination . . . and put the highest priority on implementing countermeasures,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told an NRA meeting, according to Japan Times.

As for TEPCO, the paper reported, “The utility has claimed it has detected “no significant impact’ on the environment.”

“in the SNAFU sense of “Normal'”

Neither the NRA nor TEPCO has determined why the level of radioactivity has been increasing. Both characterize the increase as a “spike,” but so far this is a “spike” that has not yet started to come down.

Here’s another perspective on the same situation:

”   10 becquerels per liter — The officially “safe” level for radioactivity in drinking water, as set by the NRA.

A becquerel is a standard scientific measure of radioactivity, similar in some ways to a rad or a rem or a roentgen or a sievert or a curie, but not equivalent to any of them.  But you don’t have to understand the nuances of nuclear physics to get a reasonable idea of what’s going on in Fukushima.  Just keep the measure of that safe drinking water in mind, that liter of water, less than a quart, with 10 becquerels of radioactivity.

”  60 becquerels per liter — For nuclear power plants, the safety limit for drinking water is 60 becquerels, as set by the NRA, with less concern for nuclear plant workers than ordinary civilians.

”   60-90 becquerels per liter — For waste water at nuclear power plants, the NRA sets a maximum standard of 90 becquerels per liter for Cesium-137 and 60 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134.

At some of Fukushima’s monitoring wells, radiation levels were in fractions of a becquerel on July 8 and 9. At the well (or wells) that are proving problematical, TEPCO has provided no baseline readings.

”  9,000 becquerels per liter — On July 8, according to TEPCO, the company measured radioactive Cesium-134 at 9,000 becquerels per liter.  Since TEPCO characterized this as 90 times higher than on July 5, the implication is that the earlier reading (about 100) was less than twice as toxic as the allowable limit and only 10 times more toxic than drinking water for civilians.

”   11,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of Cesium-134 on July 9.    

”    18,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO measurement of  Cesium-137 on July 8.

”    22,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of Cesium-137 on July 9.

”    900,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of the total radioactivity in the water leaking from Reactor #1.  This radiation load includes both Cesium isotopes, as well as Tritium, Strontium and other beta emitters.  There are more that 60 radioactive substances that have been identified at the Fukushima site.

A becquerel is a measure of the radioactivity a substance is emitting, a measure of thepotential danger. There is no real danger from radiation unless you get too close to it — or it gets too close to you, especially from inhalation or ingestion.

Nobody Knows If It Will Get Worse, Get Better, or Just Stay Bad

The water flow through the Fukushima accident site is substantial and constant, both from groundwater and from water pumped into the reactors and fuel pools to prevent further meltdowns.

In an effort to prevent the water from reaching the ocean, TEPCO is building what amounts to a huge, underground dike — “a deeply sunken coastal containment wall.”  The NRA is calling on TEPCO to finish the project before its scheduled 2015 completion date.

Meanwhile, radiation levels remain high and no one knows for sure how to bring them down, or even if they can be brought down by any means other than waiting however long it takes.

Cancers Today From Radiation Releases by US Gov’t in 1950’s?

The following is a partial repost of an article to be found in Robert Parry’s Consortiumnews.com web site.  This is an excellent site to read investigative jouralism.  The article was written by John LaForge who works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin.  He also edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Reaping the Seeds of Nuke Tests

March 28, 2013

The warnings about fallout from nuclear tests six decades ago often noted that cancers from the radiation would probably not begin appearing in large numbers for many years. But that time is now – and medical experts are wondering whether the surge in some cancers is a result, writes John LaForge.

By John LaForge

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission doused the entire United States with thyroid cancer-causing iodine-131 — and 300 other radioisotopes — by exploding atomic and hydrogen bombs above ground. To protect the dirty, secretive, militarized bomb-building industry, the government chose to warn the photographic film industry about the radioactive fallout patterns, but not the general public.

In 1951, the Eastman Kodak Company had threatened a federal lawsuit over the nuclear fallout that was fogging its bulk film shipments. Film was not packed in bubble wrap then, but in corn stalks that were sometimes being fallout-contaminated.

During nuclear bomb drills in the 1950s, school children were ordered to hide under their desks.

By agreeing to warn Kodak, etc., the AEC and the bomb program avoided the public uproar — and the bomb testing program’s possible cancellation — that a lawsuit would have precipitated. The settlement kept the deadliness of the fallout hidden from farmers and the public, even though the government well knew that fallout endangered all the people it was supposed to be defending.

This staggering revelation was heralded on Sept. 30, 1997, in the New York Times headline, “U.S. Warned Film Plants, Not Public, About Nuclear Fallout.” The article began, “[W]hile the Government reassured the public that there was no health threat from atmospheric nuclear tests…” The fallout’s radioactive iodine-131 delivered thyroid doses to virtually all 160 million people in the U.S. at the time.  Continue reading here: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/28/reaping-the-seeds-of-nuke-tests/

Media Silent on Fukushima Radiation Impact in US

Sometimes the big news stories can only be seen by the shadows they cast. You would think that it would be easy to find detailed updates on the Fukushima disaster’s impact on the fishing industry, milk production, global radiation distribution patterns, etc.  You would be mistaken. The massive media coverage the initial disaster has fallen nearly silent.  Some frustrated environmental advocates have suggested that there may be a media blackout.  Maybe not, but media follow-up stories are few and far between these days.

In July of last year there were major stories about Fukushima and the  plum of radiation reaching across the Pacific Ocean towards North America.  On July 16, 2012, Deborah Dupre of the Examiner reported the following:

“As hair falls out of a Fukushima victim’s head, a new German study reports that North America’s West Coast will be the area most contaminated by Fukushima cesium of all regions in Pacific in 10 years, an “order-of-magnitude higher” than waters off Japan, according to a new German study followed by a former New York Times journalist going inside the no-entry zone and reporting radiation levels over 10 times higher than Tepco’s data.”

The article was accompanied by this scary graphic:

Radioactive Seawater Impact Map

http://www.examiner.com/article/fukushima-west-coast-cesium-slam-ahead-hair-falling-out-tepco-data-flaw?cid=PROD-redesign-right-next

The article went on to say: “”After 10 years, the concentrations become nearly homogeneous over the whole Pacific, with higher values in the east, extending along the North American coast with a maximum (~1 × 10−4) off Baja California,” a new research report states.”

Then, on August 22, 2012, NHK News reported that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it has detected radiation 380 times the government safety limit in a fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture.

http://www.forbiddenknowledgetv.com/videos/radiation-poisoning/record-radiation-detected-in-fish-off-fukushima.html

Since then not much else has been reported on the spread of radiation to North America.  It has been reported that tons of debris from the tsunami continues to wash up on the Pacific coast, but very little, especially in the main stream press, about how we are being effected.  http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2012/12/fukushima-debris-to-keep-hitting-the-pacific-coast-this-winter/

Perhaps my internet search skill are not the best, but the fact that I have to search for follow-up information is a warning sign.  Journalists and the media should paying more attention to to this topic. The one recent article related to radiation fallout from Fukushima I found was a  scientific study published in November, 2012.  It focuses primarily on how tracing  the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.

I think we all deserve to know more about what the US, Canadian and Mexican governments are doing to monitor radiation levels, track distribution rates and study how it may be impacting our food supply.

Below is a reference to the recently published study.

Science of The Total Environment Volume 438,

1 November 2012, Pages 80–85

Tracking the complete revolution of surface westerlies over Northern Hemisphere using radionuclides emitted from Fukushima

 M.A. Hernández-Ceballosa, G.H. Hongb, R.L. LozanoaY.I. KimcH.M. Leeb, S.H. Kimb,S.-W. YehdJ.P. Bolívara, ,M. Baskarane

ABSTRACT:

Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere. Based on surface air radioactivity measurements around the globe and the air mass backward trajectory analysis of the Fukushima radioactive plume at various places in the Northern Hemisphere by employing the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model, we show for the first time, that the uninterrupted complete revolution of the mid-latitude Surface Westerlies took place in less than 21 days, with an average zonal velocity of > 60 km/h. The position and circulation time scale of Surface Westerlies are of wide interest to a large number of global researchers including meteorologists, atmospheric researchers and global climate modellers.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969712010959

Where is News of Fukushima Radiation Impact?

DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT: Sometimes the big news stories can only be seen by the shadows that they cast.  You would think that it would be easy to find copious updates on the radiation impact Fukushima is having on the fishing industry, US food production, global radiation distribution, etc. You would be mistaken. The relatively large amount of media coverage the Fukushima disaster initially generated has diminished to the point of near silence.  Maybe my own internet search skills are to blame, but even having to run a search on Fukushima’s radioactive legacy for North America is an warning sign to which journalists and the media should be paying attention. There was this month (November, 2012) a scientific study published regarding the release of radiation from Japan, but its focus is primarily on how tracing  the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.

I would be interested in learning more about what the US and Canadian governments are doing to monitor radiation levels, track distribution rates and study how it may or may not be impacting our food supply. If any of you reading this comes across such information, please post links here to the comments section below.  If you search but can’t find information, that is news worth also, so please comment about your efforts also.  Thank you.

Science of The Total Environment

Volume 438, 1 November 2012, Pages 80–85
Cover image

Tracking the complete revolution of surface westerlies over Northern Hemisphere using radionuclides emitted from Fukushima

  • a Department of Applied Physics, University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain
  • b Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Ansan 426–744, South Korea
  • c Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Uljin 767–813, South Korea
  • d Department of Environmental Marine Science, Hanyang University, Ansan, 426–791, South Korea
  • e Department of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

View full text


Abstract

Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere. Based on surface air radioactivity measurements around the globe and the air mass backward trajectory analysis of the Fukushima radioactive plume at various places in the Northern Hemisphere by employing the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model, we show for the first time, that the uninterrupted complete revolution of the mid-latitude Surface Westerlies took place in less than 21 days, with an average zonal velocity of > 60 km/h. The position and circulation time scale of Surface Westerlies are of wide interest to a large number of global researchers including meteorologists, atmospheric researchers and global climate modellers.

Highlights

► Evidence of the South Korea contamination with released radiocesium from Fukushima. ► Field samples and air mass analysis were utilized to elucidate the transport of those radionuclides. ► Characterization of the air mass movements at different sites at the Earth’s surface. ► Verification of the uninterrupted complete revolution of the artificial radionuclides released in Fukushima. ► Quantification of the velocity of the artificial radionuclides released in Fukushima.