The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Widespread dispersal of radioactive cesium as Fukushima debris is removed

Cesium-137Study: Cesium from Fukushima debris removal likely spread 50 km July 16, 2014 By MIKI AOKI/ Staff Writer

Radioactive substances released during rubble-removal work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant last year likely spread to areas nearly 50 kilometers away, according to a research team at Kyoto University.

The agriculture ministry earlier raised the likelihood that debris-removal operations on Aug. 19, 2013, led to cesium levels exceeding the safety standard detected in rice harvested more than 20 km from the plant.

Akio Koizumi, a health and environment science professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Medicine, and four other scientists discovered that the wind likely carried the cesium more than twice that distance.

The researchers set up air sampling instruments at three points in residential areas of Fukushima Prefecture and have measured radioactive cesium concentrations every week since September 2012 to estimate residents’ exposure to radiation.

From samples collected between Aug. 15 and 22 last year, they found a reading of 1.28 millibecquerels per cubic meter at a location in Soma, 48 km northwest of the plant. That radioactivity level was more than six times higher than usual.

Radioactivity levels were 20 to 30 times higher than normal in Minami-Soma, 27 km north-northwest of the Fukushima plant. And there were almost no changes in cesium concentrations in Kawauchi, 22 km west-southwest of the plant, the researchers said.

Based on the wind’s speed and direction at the time, as well as size of the collected particles, Koizumi and his colleagues concluded that the radioactive cesium came from the Fukushima No. 1 plant as the result of the Aug. 19, 2013, clearance work at the No. 3 reactor.

The team also found that cesium levels at the measuring point in Minami-Soma surged in both May and June 2013. They attributed the increase to debris-clearing operations at the facility.

The research results indicate that future rubble removal at the nuclear plant could disperse radioactive materials over much broader areas surrounding the facility.

In March this year, the scientists presented their findings to the Environment Ministry. It has also been reported that the agriculture ministry instructed Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear plant, to take measures to prevent the release of radioactive substances in the debris-removal work at the site.

TEPCO currently plans to resume debris-removal efforts by the end of July, starting with the dismantling of a cover installed on the No. 1 reactor building, where highly contaminated rubble remains to be removed.

The utility acknowledged that the Aug. 19 operations released a maximum 4 trillion becquerels–more than 10,000 times the usual levels at the site–over four hours, and apologized to residents for “causing trouble.”

However, TEPCO argued that it is unclear whether the increase in cesium readings was related to debris-clearing work.

July 21, 2014 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2014, Japan | Leave a comment

USA soil still has radioactive material from Fukushima nuclear disaster

text-radiationFlag-USAFox: Fukushima radioactive material still being found in U.S. soil — Japan Gov’t: The disaster “posed radiation threat to human society”… In 4 days “detectable all across northern hemisphere” — Denmark: Fukushima clearly had widespread consequences, not limited to borders (VIDEOS)

Danish Emergency Management Agency’s Carsten Israelson, Nordic Nuclear Safety Research’s 2013 Fukushima seminar (at 4:15 in): The accident in Fukushima… clearly showed that there are consequences that are widespread, and is not limited to borders… Nuclear accidents do happen! Nuclear accidents will likely have widespread consequences – for all of us. >> Watch presentation hereNational Institute of Radiological Sciences (Japan), March 3, 2014: The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident led to the release of large amounts of radionuclides into the environment. [...] The released radioactive materials posed radiation threat to human society. Thus, source identification of radioactive contamination and long-term environmental behavior of released radioactive materials are important issues of study after the FDNPP accident.

Japan Atomic Energy Agency & University of Tokyo, Apr. 10, 2014: By March 15, traces from the accident in Fukushima were detectable all across the northern hemisphere. By April 13, the associated radioactivity had spread to the southern hemisphere of the Asia-Pacific region and was clearly detectable at CTBT IMS stations located in Australia, Fiji, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.

Fox 10 News — Phoenix, AZ, July 15, 2014: [Aubrey Godwin, director of Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency] says radioactive material can still be found in Arizona soil from nuclear weapons testing in the 50′s and from Fukushima’s nuclear disaster in 2011. Despite that Godwin says there is no health concern.

Watch the Fox 10 broadcast here

July 21, 2014 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2014, USA | Leave a comment

Problem of the Fukushima ice wall against radioactive leaking – it doesn’t work

ice-wall-FukushimaFukushima ‘ice wall’ can’t get cold enough to stop radioactive water flow  Dr Leonard Coldwell  Jul 09, 2014 A Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) project to freeze radioactive water to prevent it from further contaminating surrounding areas and the Pacific Ocean has hit a major snag: the water won’t freeze. ……. Not freezing, and behind schedule

Recently, TEPCO launched two related programs to contain existing contamination and limit the flow of new water into the contaminated area. Both consist of digging trenches for pipes, then filling the pipes with an aqueous solution of calcium chloride cooled to -30°C (-22°F). The goal of the first, smaller project is to freeze 11,000 metric tons of radioactive water that has pooled beneath two of the failed reactors.

This project is widely seen as a pilot project for the much larger, more ambitious plan to use pipes to actually freeze the soil and create a 1.4 km (0.9 mile) “ice wall” to prevent more groundwater from infiltrating down into the underground reactors and becoming radioactive.

But on June 17, TEPCO announced that even the smaller project was having difficulties.

“We have yet to form an ice plug because we can’t get the temperature low enough to freeze the water,” a company spokesperson said.

The company also said that fluctuating water levels were making it difficult for the water to actually freeze.

“We are behind schedule, but have already taken additional measures, including putting in more pipes, so that we can remove contaminated water from the trench starting next month,” the spokesperson said.

Cleanup plagued with gaffes and errors……….

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear plant now a radioactive swamp

Japan Nuclear Prof.: Fukushima plant now a ‘swamp of radioactive material’ — Can’t stop pumping in more water because they don’t know where melted fuel went — Build roof over entire site? — Asahi: Continued presence of water threatens construction of ice wall around reactors


Interview with Professor Hiroaki Koide, Kyoto University Reactor Research Institute, translated by Fukushima Diary, July 13, 2014: Fukushima plant is now like a swamp of radioactive material due to the contaminated water [...] Tepco should quit cooling with water since one year ago. However from Tepco’s assumption, it is impossible to shift to air cooling because they can’t identify the exact locations of molten fuel.

More from interview with Professor Koide,translated by Google: I think of that accident of Fukushima [...] the human race has been encountered for the first time [...] Rather than the cooling in the water, shouldswitch as soon as possible to the cooling method of another I think. [...] I thought the most part rain is falling on the site [...] so, I cut off the rain. In other words, it is such as paving the entire site. I think I think in some cases, that I would build a roof on the entire site [...] in the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but is in a state such as the swamp of radioactivity [...]

Asahi Shimbun, July 9, 2014: 11,000 tons of contaminated water [are in] underground trenches connected to the No. 2 and No. 3 reactor turbine buildings. [...] contaminated water began seeping into them after the onset of the March 2011 nuclear crisis. If the contaminated water is not removed from the trenches, it could eventually leak out. The Nuclear Regulation Authority instructed TEPCO to promptly remove the water, calling it the “most serious source of concern.” [...] But TEPCO officials said the ice walls failed to form because of the constant flow of a maximum 2 milliliters of water per minute around the connecting points. Toyoshi Fuketa, an NRA commissioner, has instructed TEPCO to come up with steps to resolve the matter by the end of July, arguing that the frozen walls should be able to withstand certain levels of water flow under normal circumstances. The continued presence of water threatens to prevent the creation of outer frozen soil walls encircling the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors, which are a central part of TEPCO’s plans to reduce the amount of contaminated water at the plant.

Full interview with Prof. Koide available here (Japanese only)

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s ice wall – a hazardous and dubious operation

ice-wall-FukushimaDoubts over ice wall to keep Fukushima safe from damaged nuclear reactors Frozen barrier, costing £185m, being built around Fukushima Daiichi’s four damaged reactors to contain irradiated water The Guardian, Monday 14 July 2014 “…..f all goes to plan, by next March Fukushima Daiichi’s four damaged reactors will be surrounded by an underground frozen wall that will be a barrier between highly toxic water used to cool melted fuel inside reactor basements and clean groundwater flowing in from surrounding hills.

Up to 400 tonnes of groundwater that flows into the basements each day must be pumped out, stored and treated – and on-site storage is edging closer to capacity. Decommissioning the plant will be impossible until its operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] addresses the water crisis.

Last month workers from Tepco and the construction firm Kajima Corp began inserting 1,550 pipes 33 metres vertically into the ground to form a rectangular cordon around the reactors. Coolant set at -30C will be fed into the pipes, eventually freezing the surrounding earth to create an impermeable barrier.

“We started work a month ago and have installed more than 100 pipes, so it is all going according to plan to meet our deadline,” Tadafumi Asamura, a Kajima manager who is supervising the ice wall construction, said as workers braved rain, humidity and radiation to bore holes in the ground outside reactor No 4, scene of one of three hydrogen explosions at the plant in the early days of the crisis.

But sealing off the four reactors – three of which melted down in the March 2011 disaster – is costly and not without risks. The 32bn-yen (£185m) wall will be built with technology that has never been used on such a large scale.

“I’m not convinced the freeze wall is the best option,” Dale Klein, former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a senior adviser to Tepco, recently told Kyodo News. “What I’m concerned about is unintended consequences. Where does that water go and what are the consequences of that? I think they need more testing and more analysis.”

The 1,500-metre wall will stay in use until 2020, using enough electricity every year to power 13,000 households, according to officials.
Over the next eight months, 360 workers from Tepco and Kajima will work in rotating shifts of up to four hours a day, with each shift beginning in the early evening to combat heat exhaustion. Each worker is wrapped in hazardous materials suits and full-face masks, along with tungsten-lined rubber torso bibs for added protection against radiation.Tepco’s record of mishaps in the three years since Fukushima Daiichi suffered a triple meltdown suggests the wall project will not be trouble free. The firm has had problems freezing irradiated water – using the same method being used to build the underground wall – that has accumulated in underground trenches, raising concerns that the ice technology is flawed…….

July 14, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, technology | Leave a comment

Fukushima radioactive releases – Cesium 137 onto the Pacific Ocean

Pacific-Ocean-drainTV: Fukushima radioactive releases into ocean can continue thousands of more years, says nuclear expert — Japan gov’t concerned with tracking radioactive waste in Pacific as it returns to Fukushima from U.S. West Coast after several decades (VIDEO

American Chemical Society — Environmental Science & Technology (pdf),Apr. 29, 2014 (emphasis added): 135Cs/137Cs Isotopic Ratio as a New Tracer of Radiocesium Released from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident [...] many important issues with respect to its atmospheric transport, deposition processes, and distributions in terrestrial and marine environments remain to be investigated. It has been estimated that ∼80% of the atmospherically released 137Cs was deposited in the western North Pacific Ocean, in addition to [...] 137Cs directly discharged into the ocean [...] continuous input of 137Cs into the ocean due to river runoff of the 137Cs deposited in heavily contaminated Fukushima forest soil can be expected. Recent studies have revealed the start of the transport of the Fukushima accident-sourced 137Cs into the ocean interior [...] it is predicted that in 30 years the Fukushima accident-derived 137Cs will come back to the ocean surface in the western North Pacific Ocean off the Fukushima coast through its transport by the Kuroshio current. Thus, to understand the environmental behavior and the fate of Fukushima accident-sourced radionuclides in the environment, a powerful Cs tracer is strongly required, because the currently widely used 134Cs/137Cs activity ratio tracer will become unavailable in several years because of the rapid decay of 134Cs [...] 135Cs has a half-life of 2 × 10^6 [2.3 million] years; therefore, we are confident that the 135Cs/137Cs isotopic ratio can be considered as a new powerful tracer for long-term source identification and environmental behavior studies. [...] This study was supported [...] partially by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan [7 of study's 8 authors are from Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences]

Nuclear analyst John Large, July 9, 2014: The cores remain active for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, so there’s a commitment to keep either the ice wall technology in place or to replace it with an alternate technology by some future generation. […] Water is coming off the escarpment above the three reactors, it’s then percolating through the ground — there’s hydrostatic pressures pushing the water up toward the sea level — it’s then collecting the fission products and radioactive products from the melted-down cores and taken out to sea. […] What I think they should now have a plan to tackle the root cause… How do you control, manage and eventually remove the reactor cores? […] If the reactor cores remain in there, it’s going to be a constant leachate (water that percolates through a solid and leaches out some of the constituents) of radioactivity.

Watch the interview with Large here

July 14, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

Radiation causing mysterious disease in cows in Fukushima prefecture

Japanese cows develop skin spots, mysterious disease; farmers fear radiation affecting humans, too  Monday, July 07, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer  (NaturalNews) Livestock with strange white spots covering their skin were put on display at a recent protest in front of Tokyo’s agriculture ministry, according to the Associated Press (AP). Two Japanese farmers, disturbed by the unusual markings, are calling on government officials to conduct a real investigation into what they believe is radiation poisoning from the shuttered Fukushima nuclear plant.

The damage is affecting hundreds of animals on farms near the plant, barring the sale of milk and meat due to safety concerns. And the Japanese government, say the farmers, has glossed over the problem by failing to properly investigate it and come up with an explanation, all the while pretending as though nothing is wrong.

“Our cows cannot be shipped as meat,” lamented Masami Yoshizawa, one of the farm’s organizers, before media and the public in Tokyo. “They are evidence of lives affected by radiation.”

Yoshizawa and fellow farmer Naoto Matsumara trucked it down to Tokyo together, bringing with them a black bull bearing the white spots. When they arrived in front of the ministry office, local police attempted to block the duo from bringing it onto the street so everyone could see it, claiming that the animal might be dangerous. But the farmers were ultimately successful in gaining the public’s attention, expressing vocal outrage over the loss of their farms, produce, and ultimately their livelihoods. In the aftermath of Fukushima, the Japanese government has taken a largely hands-off approach, siding with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in minimizing the damage caused by a large earthquake and tsunami that struck the facility back in 2011.
“What if this started happening to people?” asked Matsumara, expressing concerns about the human impacts of Fukushima radiation. “We have to examine the cause of this and let people know what happened to these animals.”

Japanese government needs to take Fukushima radiation more seriously

According to the AP, Matsumara and Yoshizawa want the government to be more proactive in determining the cause of the white spots. They are also calling for an end to the culling of abandoned livestock, as well as the burning of radiation-contaminated vegetation that farmers need in order to keep feeding the suffering animals.

“The ministry told us they don’t know what is causing the spots,” added Yoshizawa. “Well, they need to do more research and figure it out. They can’t just run away, saying they don’t know.”

Despite making calls through a megaphone for Yoshimasa Hayashi, Tokyo’s farm minister, to come down in person to see the animal, Yoshizawa was unsuccessful in convincing anyone from the agency to make an appearance. The two farmers were, however, given access to the ministry’s reception desk, where they presented a written appeal for action.

In the interim, feral animals continue to run wild in the evacuation zone surrounding Fukushima. And the more than 100,000 “nuclear evacuees” who escaped the area after the disaster have largely resettled elsewhere, leaving nearby towns virtually abandoned.

“Discarded towns, discarded evacuees,” rattled an unsettled Yoshizawa. “The cattle and people are still living. We cannot remain silent.”

July 12, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

The Yoshida Testimony – report on Fukushima nuclear accident as told by former plant manager

Fukushima-molten-coreshighly-recommendedThe Yoshida Testimony. The Fukushima Nuclear accident as told by plant manager Masao Yoshida   12 July 14


The Asahi Shimbun has recently obtained a copy of the transcripts of testimony given before a government investigation panel by Masao Yoshida, who served as general manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant when it succumbed to a Level 7 disaster, the highest on the International Nuclear Events Scale, following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

The document remains the only available official transcript of the testimony by Yoshida, the on-site commander of efforts to bring the situation under control, who died in July 2013 without having disclosed much to media organizations about the accident at the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The transcript, not to be released publicly at Yoshida’s request, was gathering dust in government offices.

28 hours, 400 pages

The Yoshida testimony report comprises seven parts and contains about 500,000 characters in total. It is printed on more than 400 pages of A4-size paper.

Eleven of the 13 interview sessions with Yoshida were conducted at a Japan Football Association Academy meeting room at the J-Village soccer training facility, 20 kilometers south of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The remaining two sessions took place in a quake-proof control center building, Yoshida’s workplace, at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Co. interviewed 772 individuals over a total of 1,479 hours. The Yoshida testimony was compiled during that process.

While an interviewee was only questioned for slightly less than two hours on average, Yoshida was interviewed for more than 28 hours, and was asked to respond on how he acted and what he thought at decisive moments. Yotaro Hatamura, chairman of the investigation panel, called the Yoshida testimony “invaluable historic material” because it is Yoshida’s only available official transcript.

Anger, Angst, Sense

In the Yoshida testimony, he is not only telling his side of the story………..

Multiple disaster of unprecedented scale

The Fukushima nuclear disaster, which involved more than one reactor stricken simultaneously, was a multiple disaster that humankind had never experienced……..

Were lessons learned?

Unfortunately, the government investigation panel’s final report failed to discuss and review the actions and judgments made by individuals who were leading concerned organizations at the time–the prime minister, industry minister, director-general of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, chairman of the NSC, president of TEPCO and general manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, although it is up to people to stop nuclear plants from running amok and up to people to save residents from nuclear damage.

Although the panel interviewed as many as 772 individuals involved, it failed to dig deep into essential aspects of the disaster because it made it a stated policy that it would not pursue the responsibility of individuals.

It is not too much to say that the government and power utilities are eagerly working toward preparing for restarts of nuclear reactors by adding height to seawalls, installing filter vents and reinforcing other facility components because the government investigation panel limited its analysis and reviews only to phenomenal aspects of the tragedy.

Voices of those who fought the unprecedented nuclear disaster should be engraved in history. History is humankind’s common property.

“I would like you to attend our hearing in the understanding that what you are going to tell us could be published almost in their original form,” a member of the government investigation panel told Yoshida during the first interview session. The Asahi Shimbun notes that Yoshida replied promptly, “That is OK.”

The government later released a written request by Yoshida that his interviews not be publicly disclosed.

Reports in nine installments

This is an English translation of serial feature stories on the Yoshida testimony report that began running online on The Asahi Shimbun Digital on May 20.

The series focuses on the part of human action and judgments, which the government investigation panel questioned Yoshida about but seldom mentioned in its report, and addresses three issues: who is there to halt nuclear reactors; if residents can be evacuated; and if humans can stop a crisis.

In analyzing and reviewing the Yoshida testimony report, The Asahi Shimbun perused TEPCO’s teleconference records, a time-series table of events and TEPCO’s other in-house documents obtained from sources. The newspaper’s reporters also interviewed concerned parties.

July 12, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | 1 Comment

Freezing ducts very slowly built for Fukushima’s ice wall 90 built. 1460 more to go

TEPCO: 90 out of 1,550 freezing ducts built so far The Yomiuri Shimbun 10 July 14  Tokyo Electric Power Co. unveiled on Tuesday the construction site of the ice wall at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant for the first time since work began last month.

As a measure to halt the increase of contaminated water, the ice walls are aimed at freezing the ground around the Nos. 1 to 4 reactor buildings of the plant to block groundwater from flowing into reactor buildings and becoming contaminated.

Contaminated water at the nuclear plant currently amounts to about 500,000 tons. The government and TEPCO have been working on the construction in the hope of completing it early next fiscal year.

On Tuesday evening, about 30 workers drilled small holes about 30 meters deep around the No. 4 reactor building. Ducts to freeze underground soil are to be installed in the holes.

A total of 1,550 freezing ducts must be installed to surround the Nos. 1 to 4 reactor building area, measuring about 1.5 kilometers. However, TEPCO said only about 90 freezing ducts have been installed so far.


Due to heat exhaustion concerns during summer, workers at the construction site wear vests containing blue ice.

Meanwhile, the task of freezing tunnels filled with contaminated water using the same method involving the construction of an ice wall has been facing difficulties. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has therefore been calling on TEPCO to fundamentally revise construction plans.

Akira Ono, the chief of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, said: “We’ve already confirmed the effectiveness of ice walls through an on-site experiment. We will push ahead with the construction work forward as fast as we can.”

July 10, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

A critical problem: no cooling system now working at Fukushima No.5 fuel pool

spent-fuel-rodsFox News: “Leak at Fukushima nuclear plant threatens dangerous meltdown… Trouble is looming” — Officials: “No idea when it can resume cooling system for spent fuel pool” (PHOTOS)

, Jul. 7, 2014: No prospect to resume cooling No.5 fuel pool — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has no idea when it can resume the cooling system for one of the spent fuel pools. [TEPCO] halted the cooling system at the No.5 reactor on Sunday after workers found seawater leaking from a pipe. Seawater is used to lower the temperature of coolant water [...] they are still considering how to repair the pipe. [...] TEPCO says the temperature will reach the company’s safety limit of 65 degrees in a little over a week. The operator plans to channel seawater into the pool to curb the rise in temperature.

Fox News, Jul. 7, 2014: Leak at Fukushima nuclear plant threatens dangerous meltdown — Trouble is looming at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, as a leak has forced the shutdown of a cooling system that could cause temperatures to exceed dangerous levels. [...] If the system is not repaired within the next nine days, temperatures are expected to soar [...] Sunday, the temperature in the pool that holds the rods was about 73 degrees Fahrenheit but started increasing by 0.193 degrees per hour, TEPCO says. If no new cold water is pumped in at this rate, it will reach the dangerous threshold of 149 degrees (F) in roughly the next week. Such temperatures would increase the possibility of dangerous reactions and more radiation leaks in the plant.

See photos of the leak here

July 9, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

The enormous and intractable problem of Fukushima’s radioactive soil

text-radiationflag-japanFukushima’s radioactive soil sparks fights, exposes the enormity and hopelessness of clean-up taskStraight, by MARTIN DUNPHY on JUL 4, 2014 “…….Soil would fill how many B.C. Places?In the months after the 2011 earthquake-and-tsunami catastrophe, environment ministry experts estimated that the amount of radioactive topsoil from parts of four surrounding prefectures that would have to be “decontaminated” and stored could be as high as 29 million cubic metres.

That would be about enough dirt to fill the 59,000-capacity B.C. Place Stadium 23 times.

However, Yuichi Moriguchi, a University of Tokyo environmental-engineering professor, pegged the amount at closer to 100 million cubic metres, enough to fill 80 B.C. Places.

Minister Ishihara had told reporters in Tokyo on June 16 that the dragged-out and often acrimonious soil-storage negotiations between Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party–led administration and local and state governments in Fukushima would be solved once the issue of “monetary value” was settled.

Fukushima residents, evacuees, the governor, and the mayors of Futaba and Okuma—the two towns adjacent to Daiichi that have been tentatively earmarked for storage facilities—were outraged by the comment.

They called it insensitive and said it failed to take into account their dislocation, fears, and sense of helplessness. They said it made them seem to be concerned only with compensation.

Minister underestimated reaction

The environment minister quickly backtracked, saying he was misconstrued, but he refused to retract his statement. After opposition pressure, however, he apologized during a June 19 parliamentary session and retracted his remark………

Many of the sites are already at or near capacity.

Costs could be wildly inaccurate

In December 2013, Tokyo announced that it would spend almost $1 billion to store 132,738 tonnes of radioactive soil already removed from near the crippled power plant. No towns came forward to offer to sell the approximately three to five square kilometres of land estimated to be needed to build the supposedly “interim” facility to house the waste, currently stored temporarily in different locations around Japan.

(That plan covers less than 150,000 tons of soil. Greenpeace International has claimed that as of February 2013, more than fourmillion tons of radioactive waste had been produced.)

The $1-billion cost of this plan might be severely underestimated, however. A disposal centre in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, for low-level radioactive waste from the country’s nuclear plants (including metal parts and work clothing) cost $2 billion to build.

And it holds only 200,000 cubic metres of material.

The true cost for the planned “interim” facility could be in the tens of billions of dollars—or much higher.

Waste needs to be stored for 30 years

Prefecture officials and residents expressed skepticism about the unclear future location of “permanent” storage sites, noting that the material would have to be stored away for a minimum of 30 years and voicing fears that their towns would become the preferred perpetual spots…….

There are many areas outside this district that are contaminated as well, to varying degrees, including isolated “hot spots”. Some of these were found in Tokyo, more than 200 kilometres away from Daiichi. On the other hand, that original clean-up area consists of up to 70 percent woodlands, hills, and mountains, much of which (if not most) will probably never be touched by decontamination efforts.

Some areas may be deserted forever

And if more than five centimetres of topsoil needs to be scraped off to remove radioactive cesium­, after years of rain and groundwater movement, the volume of material needing to be stored will rise accordingly. Prof. Tomoko M. Nakanishi, from the University of Tokyo’s graduate school of agriculture, conducted soil research in Fukushima post-disaster and had this to say about how readily radioactive cesium was absorbed by the soil: “It was like pollen with superglue.”

Friends of the Earth, an international network of environmental groups, reported in 2012 that a test soil-decontamination program for only three houses in Fukushima generated 35 tons of soil waste.

In the end, it will probably be areas around parks, residences, schools, hospitals, and other public buildings that will see the most attention from decontamination efforts.

Some parts of the surrounding prefectures may never see a return to levels of human activity to compare with pre-Fukushima. And some areas may remain deserted forever.

Oh, yeah, then there’s the ocean

This is without even mentioning the incalculable amount of radioactive groundwater and cooling water that has flowed into the Pacific Ocean nonstop since the first day of the disaster almost three-and-a-half years ago. Woods Hole Oceanographic Society scientists labelled this “the largest accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history”.

According to Greenpeace International, one month after the meltdowns, cesium-137 levels in the sea near Daiichi were 50 million times higher than pre-disaster measurements. (Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years; cesium-134′s is a bit more than two years.)

And Asahi—using data provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the Daiichi plant operator—says that 462TBq (a terabecquerel equals one trillion Becquerels) of radioactive strontium have been dumped into the Pacific. Strontium is potentially far more dangerous to human life than either cesium-134 or cesium-137.

There have been conflicting reports about the amounts of even deadlier plutonium that might have been released into the soil, air, or water……

July 7, 2014 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2014, Japan | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s molten nuclear fuel cores – no technology exists to fix them

Top U.S. Official: “The reality is, no technology exists anywhere to solve problem” of Fukushima’s Fukushima-molten-coresmelted fuel — TV: Molten mass “will scorch into the earth” if not cooled, a ‘China Syndrome’; Geysers of radioactive steam shooting up for miles around (VIDEOS)

  • NHK: Experts say that one of the most difficult challenges of decommissioning the plant is removing fuel debris… And Magwood says that there is no magic wand to wipeout this problem.
  • William Magwood, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: I think people have to be realistic how difficult this is, how long it’s going to take. During my visit to Japan this week, people have asked me from time to time, “Are there technologies in the US that can help solve this problem?” The reality is there is no technology that exists anywhere to solve this problem.
  • Watch the NHK broadcast here

Modern Marvels, History Channel (at 11:30 in):

  • Narrator: With the [water] pumps off, the core is being uncovered and its temperature is over 2,000 degrees and rising. When the core reaches 5,000 degrees it will melt, becoming a molten mass — metallic lava that will burn through the 8 inch steel containment vessel. Once out of the plant it will scorch into the earth itself. What happens next could become an unrivaled technological disaster.
  • Wilborn Hampton, New York Times reporter: They reach the water table, it will immediately turn to steam, boiling steam. There will be geysers of radioactivity steam shooting up in parking lots and driveways and streets and houses for miles around.
  • Narrator: The nightmare scenario is known as the ‘China Syndrome’. Land surrounding the plant will become uninhabitable. A study some years earlier has suggested upwards of 40,000 people could die if the ‘China Syndrome’ becomes reality.
  • Watch the History Channel broadcast here

July 5, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Plutonium flows to the Pacific from Fukushima’s ruptured nuclear reactor containments

PuGov’t Expert: Plutonium is certainly being discharged into Pacific Ocean from Fukushima plant; Flowing out of ruptured containments — TV: Reactor water turns into ‘yellowish, fizzing liquid’ from damaged fuel rods… “It actually vibrates” (PHOTO & VIDEO)

P. Bossew, German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, PLUTONIUM EMISSION FROM THE FUKUSHIMA ACCIDENT
 (pdf), 2013 (emphasis added): While much has since been published on environmental contamination and exposure to radio-iodine and radio-caesium, little is known about releases of plutonium […] The inability to cool the fuel led to melting of parts of the reactor cores (which parts exactly, is not yet well known) […] [Causes of the containment] ruptures and leaks […] are not entirely clarified […] explosion seems to have produced further structural damage in the containments, at the one hand, and on the other hand released large amounts of radionuclides into the environment. […] the fraction of Pu released into the environment can be expected to be higher [than] atmospheric releases only. Certainly some Pu has been released with liquid effluents and discharged into the ocean. […] The liquid discharges certainly also contained Pu. […]

Modern Marvels History Channel (at 19:45 in): It is now 28 hours since the accident at Three Mile Island began. The men in the control room have no way of looking into the reactor…. it now seems clear some of the 36,000 slendertubes holding the uranium fuel have cracked, this is allowing radioactivity to escape into the reactor coolant water. It is imperative operators know how much radioactivity is now in the coolant. Too much, and the nuclear chain reaction could restart… Foreman Ed Hauser agrees to risk his life to take the readings. This is allowing radioactivity to enter the coolant water. He is in for an even greater scare when he draws the coolant water sample. The water from the reactor should be clear; instead he stares at a yellowish, fizzing liquid… It actually vibrates in his hand.

See also: Study: Water helps dissolve Fukushima’s melted nuclear cores, accelerates corrosion — Plutonium concentrates on outer edge of fuel — Poses “a much longer environmental threat” than initial releases — Transport of nuclear material into environment to continue for many years if not isolated

Watch the History Channel’s program here

July 5, 2014 Posted by | - plutonium, Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

120 Quadrillion becquerels of radioactive cesium into North Pacific Ocean from Fukushima

Cesium-137Japan Gov’t-funded Study: Fukushima has released up to 120 Quadrillion becquerels of radioactive cesium into North Pacific Ocean — Does not include amounts that fell on land — Exceeds Chernobyl total, which accounts for releases deposited on land AND ocean (MAP) 1 July 14,

Scientific Reports (, Mar. 4 2014: The total amount of decay-corrected 134Cs in the [subtropical] mode water was an estimated about 6 PBq [petabecquerels, i.e. 6 quadrillion becquerels] corresponding to 10–60% of the total inventory of Fukushima-derived 134Cs in the North Pacific Ocean. […] The decay corrected ratio of 134Cs/137Cs in soils has been calculated to be 1.0, which suggests that the total amounts of 134Cs and 137Cs released from FNPP1 were equivalent. […] the total amount of Fukushima-derived radiocesium in the North Pacific remains uncertain, because it has been difficult to obtain sufficient samples of water, especially from subsurface and deep waters, in the vast North Pacific Ocean […] Estimates of the total 134Cs released to the North Pacific Ocean ranged from 10 PBq (direct discharge of 4 PBq + atmospheric deposition 6 PBq) to 46 PBq (16 + 30 PBq). Thus, the 6 PBq inventory accounts for 10–60% of the total release. However, the total inventory in the subtropical region derived from the activity in STMW [Subtropical Mode Water] may be underestimated, because CMW probably carried the radiocesium into the subtropical region, too […] The estimated inventory in the subtropical region (6 PBq or 10– 60% of the total inventory) is probably a lower limit of estimation because contribution of CMW [Central Mode Water]  was not counted. [...]

Funding: “This work was partially supported by a Grant-in-Aid… from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan

Note: The study states that up to 46 PBq of 134Cs is estimated to have been released into the North Pacific Ocean from Fukushima Daiichi. Yet, it also states that the 6 PBq in the study area represents between 10-60% of the  total 134Cs released into the North Pacific Ocean. If the 10% figure is used, the total release into the N. Pacific would equal 60 PBq of 134Cs. The study also states the releases of 134Cs and 137Cs were equivalent, resulting in a total of 120 PBq into the N. Pacific. This total does not include releases deposited on land or in other bodies of water.

Chernobyl Comparison: A report by the Nuclear Enrgy Agency states that when more detailed deposition data eventually became available, the United Nations estimated the total Chernobyl release of 137Cs at 70 PBq. 134Cs is estimated to have been 53.7% of the 137Cs — approximately 38 PBq of 134Cs — resulting in a total of 108 PBq. Unlike the Fukushima total reported above, this does include all 134Cs and 137Cs releases from Chernobyl — not just what was deposited in the ocean.

See also: California Gov’t Report: Fukushima released up to 181 Quadrillion Bq of cesium, Chernobyl was 105 Quadrillion — Radioactive material to flow from Japan “for years to come”

And: Marine Chemist in Jan. 2014: Latest numbers I have are Fukushima has released 80 Quadrillion Bq of cesium-137 (Chernobyl estimated at 70 Quadrillion) — “The radioactive plume itself has actually arrived… it’s already here” on west coast of N. America (AUDIO)

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan, oceans | 2 Comments

Plutonium in the playground – Fukushima

Puflag-japanStudy: Fukushima plutonium in playground 60 km from nuclear plant — “Proves that indeed Plutonium has been emitted by the accident” — Some “in the form of fuel fragments”? — Up to 14 Billion Bq of Pu-239 and-240 released (MAP)

P. Bossew, German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, PLUTONIUM EMISSION FROM THE FUKUSHIMA ACCIDENT
 (pdf), 2013 (emphasis added): [...] Apparently no explosive fuel fragmentation occurred, so that little, if any of the release happened in the form of fuel fragments. […] Only scattered data are available from the farther surroundings. It can be assumed that continuous and frequent monitoring of environmental media for Pu from locations more distant than a few km was deemed unnecessary […] Given two different sources (global and Fukushima fallout) with different, but known 238Pu : 239+240Pu ratios, the contributions of the both in a sample which is a mixture of both can be calculated […] we estimated a median 2.28 (95% conf. interval 1.98 –2.58), [15] and 2.19 ± 0.48 (1 ), [14], for Fukushima emissions. […] The background Pu ratio in global fallout has been reported 0.035 ± 0.008 […] a map of the 238Pu : 239+240Pu ratio in the region around the NPP […] The “trace” towards NW from the NPP, in which the Pu ratio deviates strongly from the background […] This proves that indeed Pu has been emitted by the accident […] For 238Pu, the Fukushima contribution is much higher than the global one in many places (as detectable at all) because the Pu ratio is much higher in Fukushima (~2.19) than in global fallout (~0.035). […] Keeping with [the total 137Cs release of] 15 PBq given by NISA […] we find an atmospheric emission of 239+240Pu equal 4.2 GBq. Using the upper estimate of released 137Cs, 50 PBq, a release of 14 GBq is found. [NISA 239+240Pu estimate = 6.4 GBq; Zheng et al. 239+240Pu estimate = 1.0 to 2.4 GBq] […] It should be stressed that the evidence of Pu from Fukushima does not pose any radiological concern [...]

P. Bossew, German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Hirosaki University, Anthropogenic Radionuclides in Environmental Samples from Fukushima Prefecture (pdf), 2013: Three samples [all taken approx. 60 km from FDNPP, 1 from a parking area in Koriyama city and 2 from a playground in Fukushima city] were measured twice [...] Sample 4 was too small for a meaningful analysis. […] The result found in this study is consistent with a Pu/ Cs ratio reported by Imanaka et al. (2012) for a highly contaminated place in the Fukushima zone as below 1 E-6 [...] Zheng et al. 2011 found 239+240 Pu/137Cs in soil, close to the NPP, as (3.6 ± 1.1) E-7 (only samples with 241Pu>0 considered, and Fukushima contribution 87% to the sample J-village, surface soil , as suggested by the authors), which is in good agreement with the results of this study.

See also: Scientists: Plutonium released from Fukushima “is of radiological concern”; Reactor must be source, not spent fuel pool — Study: Plutonium found 120 km from plant; “Pu and non-natural uranium certainly increased in environment”

June 30, 2014 Posted by | - plutonium, Fukushima 2014, Japan | Leave a comment


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