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Post by voguy » 08-25-2013 08:06 AM

Radioactive Groundwater at Fukushima Nears Pacific
TOKYO August 25, 2013 (AP) via: ABC News
By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press


Deep beneath Fukushima's crippled nuclear power station, a massive underground reservoir of contaminated water that began spilling from the plant's reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has been creeping slowly toward the Pacific.

Now, 2 1/2 years later, experts fear it is about to reach the ocean and greatly worsen what is fast becoming a new crisis at Fukushima: the inability to contain vast quantities of radioactive water.

The looming crisis is potentially far greater than the discovery earlier this week of a leak from a tank that stores contaminated water used to cool the reactor cores. That 300-ton (80,000-gallon) leak is the fifth and most serious from a tank since the March 2011 disaster, when three of the plant's reactors melted down after a huge earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant's power and cooling functions.

But experts believe the underground seepage from the reactor and turbine building area is much bigger and possibly more radioactive, confronting the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., with an invisible, chronic problem and few viable solutions. Many also believe it is another example of how TEPCO has repeatedly failed to acknowledge problems that it could almost certainly have foreseen, and taken action to mitigate before they got out of control.

It remains unclear what the impact of the contamination on the environment will be because the radioactivity will be diluted as it spreads farther into the sea. Most fishing in the area is already banned, but fishermen in nearby Iwaki City had been hoping to resume test catches next month following favorable sampling results. Those plans have been scrapped after news of the latest tank leak.

"Nobody knows when this is going to end," said Masakazu Yabuki, a veteran fisherman in Iwaki, just south of the plant, where scientists say contaminants are carried by the current. "We've suspected (leaks into the ocean) from the beginning. ... TEPCO is making it very difficult for us to trust them."

To keep the melted nuclear fuel from overheating, TEPCO has rigged a makeshift system of pipes and hoses to funnel water into the broken reactors. The radioactive water is then treated and stored in the aboveground tanks that have now developed leaks. But far more leaks into the reactor basements during the cooling process — then through cracks into the surrounding earth and groundwater.

About 1,000 tons of underground water from the mountains flows into the plant compound each day, of which 400 tons seep into the reactor and turbine basements and get contaminated. The remaining 600 avoids that area, but at least half of it is believed to eventually come in contact with contamination elsewhere before entering the sea, according to an estimate by Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

Scientists, pointing to stubbornly high radioactive cesium levels in bottom-dwelling fish since the disaster, had for some time suspected the plant was leaking radioactive water into the ocean. TEPCO repeatedly denied that until last month, when it acknowledged contaminated water has been leaking into the ocean from early in the crisis. Even so, the company insists the seepage is coming from part of a network of maintenance tunnels, called trenches, near the coast, rather than underground water coming out of the reactor and turbine area.
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Post by voguy » 08-25-2013 08:08 AM

The Natural Geographic offers a very interesting take on how these situations differ.

Patrick J. Kiger, National Geographic
Published August 21, 2013

In the latest crisis to strike the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has discovered that 300 tons (nearly 72,000 gallons) of highly radioactive water has leaked from a holding tank into the ground over the past month.

The development comes on top of TEPCO's admission last month that an estimated 300 tons of radioactive groundwater, which picks up small amounts of contamination when it flows through the damaged reactor buildings, has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean every day. (See related story: "Fukushima's Radioactive Water Leak: What You Should Know.")

The new storage tank leak presents a different and potentially more serious problem than the ongoing groundwater flow leaks. The water from the leaking tank is so heavily contaminated with strontium-90, cesium-137, and other radioactive substances that a person standing less than two feet away would receive, in an hour's time, a radiation dose equivalent to five times the acceptable exposure for nuclear workers, Reuters reported. Within ten hours, the exposed person would develop radiation sickness, with symptoms such as nausea and a drop in white blood cells.

A More Hazardous Leak

The latest leak comes from one of the massive array of 1,000 above-ground storage tanks built inside the plant by TEPCO, which store water that deliberately has been pumped into the damaged reactors in an effort to cool the nuclear fuel inside and prevent a meltdown. Such water is heavily contaminated and dangerous compared with the larger radioactive groundwater flow problem, which scientists say does not pose an immediate health hazard to humans (though it has made some types of fish from the area unsafe for consumption).

The Japanese government's Nuclear Regulation Authority is calling the leak a "serious accident" and wants to raise the official threat level from 1 to 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale—the highest level since the level 7 rating given when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the facility. (See related "Pictures: The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima.")

While about two-thirds of Fukushima's storage tanks are welded steel vessels, the leaking tank is one of about 350 improvised temporary tanks that TEPCO has employed to augment its capacity. The temporary tanks are made of steel plates bolted together with plastic packing materials to seal the seams, and apparently are more vulnerable to leaks. A TEPCO official told The Japan Times, an English-language daily, that there have been four previous leaks in the temporary tanks. Unlike the previous ones, this leak somehow went undetected by plant workers for as long as a month. During that time, it leaked an estimated ten tons (about 2,400 gallons) of highly radioactive water per day. (See related photos: "A Rare Look Inside Fukushima Daiichi.")

TEPCO hasn't yet found the precise leakage spot or spots on the faulty tank, which according to Reuters is located just 550 yards from the ocean. But the company said that workers have pumped all of the water from inside a small concrete containment area where the leaking tank is located. In the event of rain, they plan to continue running the pump, which they say is powerful enough to keep rainwater from flowing out of the containment.

"We apologize again for creating anxiety among the public," TEPCO executive Masayuki Ono told reporters on Tuesday.

TEPCO said on Wednesday that tests of seawater from a ditch near the leaking tank didn't show any significant increase in the amount of cesium-137 and other radioactive materials, suggesting that the highly radioactive water isn't directly reaching the ocean. However, the possibility remains that the contaminated water might be mixing into groundwater that flows through the plant site into the ocean. In mid-July, levels of radioactive cesium-137 and cesium-134 from monitoring wells inside the plant unexpectedly surged nearly 15-fold, a phenomenon that scientists have been unable to explain. (See related story: "One Year After Fukushima, Japan Faces Shortages of Energy, Trust.")

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who has studied radiation leakage from the Fukushima plant, said he is concerned about the lack of data on levels of strontium-90 in the waters off Fukushima. He said that the groundwater now leaking into the Pacific—including, possibly, some contamination from leaking tanks—might now have much higher levels of that particular substance. Strontium-90 has potentially greater health risks than cesium isotopes because it becomes concentrated in the bones of fish and humans, he said.

'No Time to Waste'

The new problem further escalates the dilemma faced by TEPCO, which already has been struggling to find a way to deal with massive amounts of water contaminated with various radioactive substances at the site. When the company belatedly revealed last month the daily leakage of radioactive groundwater into the Pacific Ocean, a problem that outside scientists have long suspected, public confidence in TEPCO's ability to manage the cleanup threatened to erode further.

The development prompted Japanese government officials to step in and take a more direct role: The government announced last week that it is considering spending 50 billion yen ($410 million) to finance construction of a frozen soil barrier—also known as an ice wall—in an effort to block the groundwater from the plant from reaching the ocean. (See related story: "Can an Ice Wall Stop Radioactive Water Leaks From Fukushima?") That technology has long been used in the mining and construction fields, and reportedly performed well in containing radioactive water in a U.S. government test project in the early 1990s, but has never been used on a large scale at a nuclear power plant.

"This leak is very serious," said Dr. Janette Sherman, an Alexandria, Virginia-based physician who specializes in radioactive and toxic exposure. Dr. Sherman, who edited an in-depth study of health effects on cleanup workers in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union, said she is concerned that the cleanup crew at Fukushima Daiichi may face long-term health risks. She also raised the prospect of the radiation's as-yet unknown effects on fish and other marine life in the Pacific.

Buesseler said he was concerned that the high level of radiation from the leaking tank might just be a harbinger of what is to come if more of the other temporary tanks begin to fail. But he's even more worried by revelations of leaks and other problems at the plant, which lately have been coming with dismaying frequency. "There is still a lot of contamination at Fukushima—in the land, in the buildings, and now from these tanks," Buesseler said. "Every bit of news that we've been getting is that the [radioactivity] numbers are going up."

"I'm becoming less confident that [TEPCO] can contain the problem," he said.

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority shares Buesseler's concern, warning that the latest leakage problem might be beyond TEPCO's ability to cope. "We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more," watchdog chairman Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference, BBC News reported. "We are in a situation where there is no time to waste."
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

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Post by voguy » 08-25-2013 12:14 PM

Another update....


Radioactive Bluefin Tuna Caught Off California Coast
Link to story

Every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has shown to be contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. Every single one.

Over a year ago, in May of 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported on a Stanford University study. Daniel Madigan, a marine ecologist who led the study, was quoted as saying, “The tuna packaged it up (the radiation) and brought it across the world’s largest ocean. We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured.”

Another member of the study group, Marine biologist Nicholas Fisher at Stony Brook University in New York State reported, “We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium 134 and cesium 137.”

That was over a year ago. The fish that were tested had relatively little exposure to the radioactive waste being dumped into the ocean following the nuclear melt-through that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March of 2011. Since that time, the flow of radioactive contaminants dumping into the ocean has continued unabated. Fish arriving at this juncture have been swimming in contaminants for all of their lives.

Radioactive cesium doesn’t sink to the sea floor, so fish swim through it and ingest it through their gills or by eating organisms that have already ingested it. It is a compound that does occur naturally in nature, however, the levels of cesium found in the tuna in 2012 had levels 3 percent higher than is usual. Measurements for this year haven’t been made available, or at least none that I have been able to find. I went looking for the effects of ingesting cesium. This is what I found :

When contact with radioactive cesium occurs, which is highly unlikely, a person can experience cell damage due to radiation of the cesium particles. Due to this, effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding may occur. When the exposure lasts a long time, people may even lose consciousness. Coma or even death may then follow. How serious the effects are depends upon the resistance of individual persons and the duration of exposure and the concentration a person is exposed to.

The half life of cesium 134 is 2.0652 years. For cesium 137, the half life is 30.17 years.

The Fukushima disaster is an ongoing battle with no signs that humans are gaining the upper hand. The only good news to come out of Japan has later been proven to be false and was nothing more than attempts by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to mislead the public and lull them into a sense of security while the company searched vainly for ways to contain the accident. This incident makes Three Mile Island and Chernobyl pale in comparison. Those were nuclear meltdowns. A nuclear melt-through poses a much more serious problem and is one that modern technology doesn’t have the tools to address. Two and a half years later and the contaminants are still flowing into the ocean and will continue to for the foreseeable future.

The FDA assures us that our food supply is safe, that the levels of radiation found in fish samples are within safe limits for consumption. But one has to question if this is true and, if it is true now, will it remain true? Is this, like the statements issued from TEPCO, another attempt to quell a public backlash in the face of an unprecedented event that, as yet, has no solution and no end in sight?

As for me, fish is off the menu.

Ann Werner is a blogger and the author of CRAZY and Dreams and Nightmares.
You can view her work at ARK Stories.
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

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Post by Doka » 08-25-2013 12:28 PM

In the end, my intuition tells me that I am going to die from being sooo stressed over from reading about what I am going to die from!

:huh:
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Post by voguy » 08-25-2013 03:10 PM

Japanese news weighs in ....

Tepco’s tank leaks blamed on seals

The huge radioactive water leak discovered at a storage tank last week at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was likely caused by deteriorating rubber seams and distortions that emerged after the tank was reassembled, Tokyo Electric Power Co. says.

Tepco said Saturday that the temporary tank, which held water used to cool the melted fuel in three of the plant’s shattered reactors, was moved and reassembled after it began sinking two years ago amid subsidence at the site.

On Aug. 19, Tepco revealed that 300 tons of the tainted water had vanished from the tank, marking the fifth and worst leak there since the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami triggered the man-made disaster.

All five of the temporary tanks involved in the leaks were collapsible and held together by rubber seals, meaning they were less durable than those with welded seams.

Tepco spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi said the tank passed a water-tightness test and other safety requirements after it was reassembled, but that the leak might have started when the seals began deteriorating, leading to contortions in the tank.

Tepco has not pinpointed the source of the leak but is concerned that moving and rebuilding it contributed to the incident, rated Level 3 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

In all, three of the temporary tanks have had to be dismantled and moved because of sunken foundations, the beleaguered utility said. The tanks were relocated in September 2011.

The water in the other two, which are also at risk of leaking, was put in other tanks Sunday.

Nuclear regulators have raised concerns about the flaws of rubber-seam tanks and are urging Tepco to switch to welded-seam tanks, which take longer to assemble and are more expensive.

Tepco said it believes the water went directly into the ground, but that some might have flowed into the Pacific via a rain gutter.

About one-third of the plant’s nearly 1,000 storage tanks are of the rubber-seal type.

Nuclear regulators who toured the crippled plant after the leak was reported declared Friday that the handling of water storage at the site was “sloppy.”

More than two years since the crisis began, Tepco is stumbling badly on the cleanup while the water threatens to spark another environmental disaster.

Calls are growing for outside experts to step in and take control of the operation.

LINK
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Post by Dude111 » 08-25-2013 03:32 PM

Doka wrote: In the end, my intuition tells me that I am going to die from being sooo stressed over from reading about what I am going to die from!
It should make you MORE WORRIED about the idiots who still say NUCLEAR IS SAFE!!

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Post by SquidInk » 09-22-2013 12:20 AM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-p ... ir=Science
Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.
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Post by voguy » 09-22-2013 09:30 AM

It surprises me that they have not leaned on the automotive and robotic companies in their nation to come up with a way to pull one rod at a time. I don't see much on their efforts to contain the water or prohibit further decay.

I also can't help but feel that using ocean (salt) water is helping matters.
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Post by Fan » 09-24-2013 09:16 AM

voguy wrote: It surprises me that they have not leaned on the automotive and robotic companies in their nation to come up with a way to pull one rod at a time. I don't see much on their efforts to contain the water or prohibit further decay.

I also can't help but feel that using ocean (salt) water is helping matters.
No robots have worked that they tried. They cannot even measure temperatures or radiation levels in most areas since the measurement tools don't go that high or you cannot get them close enough.

Robots are nowhere near adequate for the job of fuel removal, this has to be done by humans and it has to be done incredibly quickly and carefully. It basically cannot be done, but we have to.

We should be moving spent fuel away from every reactor still in use NOW since we have learned this is a ludicrous way to do it.
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Post by kbot » 09-24-2013 11:07 AM

Fan wrote: We should be moving spent fuel away from every reactor still in use NOW since we have learned this is a ludicrous way to do it.


Except that you know that the utilities will complain about "the costs"......

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Post by Fan » 09-24-2013 12:45 PM

kbot wrote: Except that you know that the utilities will complain about "the costs"......
This is a cost of nuclear energy. We always knew storage of waste products was going to be the major problem, but then we just went "oh well, chuck it up on top of the reactor". Laws need to be passed and inspections need to be made. If it doubles the cost of your electricity, then too bad, maybe your state or country picked the wrong energy to use, and maybe it is time to look at alternatives.
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Post by SquidInk » 09-24-2013 01:09 PM

C'mon, man!

We can't have off shore wind energy, wave energy, solar energy, kickin' electric cars, and all that rubbish.

Because, socialism.

http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article ... s-meltdown

http://www.cato.org/publications/commen ... lear-power (from 2003)

http://tinyurl.com/35m5lj6 (wikipedia)
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Post by voguy » 09-24-2013 05:27 PM

Kicking this around at work today, one person mused that it might be in our best interest if aliens came down and took everything nuclear away from us. Sort of like how mom takes a toy away from a kid. Everyone was sort of in agreement.

But then I started to think about things not energy, bomb, or weaponry, such as medical applications.

It also occurs to me that many things thought to be good for us are actually bad. How long ago did doctors give people mercury to cure Syphilis?

Our problem is in our quest to make money and advance technology we crap on our own dinner plate and wonder why we're sick.
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

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Post by SquidInk » 09-25-2013 11:27 AM

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... f-ice.html
At first glance Japan’s plan to surround the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant with a mile-long subterranean wall of ice seems like a crazy, last-ditch gambit by a Tepco employee turning to Game of Thrones for inspiration. But the technique isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. Engineers have been building underground ice walls for over a century, and using one to contain radioactive waste makes a lot of sense, though building it won’t be easy.
An ice wall? A mile long, 30 meters deep, and who knows how wide? Stop. You're killing me.

So, years from now, when the next tsunami hits and knocks out power to the ice wall, we'll have a reverse tsunami of thawed out radioactive hell-slop sloshing into the sea? Sounds good. It gives Tepco time to disperse golden parachutes, and wrap up it's affairs cleanly.

Who's having seafood for dinner?
Last edited by SquidInk on 09-25-2013 11:31 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Fan » 09-25-2013 11:30 AM

SquidInk wrote: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... f-ice.html An ice wall? A mile long, 30 meters deep, and who knows how wide? Stop. You're killing me.
It is like a joke they are playing. They can't admit that they are completely screwed. How is ice supposed to not melt? WTF?
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