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Spatial pattern of plutonium and radiocaesium contamination released during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster

November 14, 2018

Abstract
Plutonium and radiocaesium are hazardous contaminants released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP) disaster and their distribution in the environment requires careful characterisation using isotopic information. Comprehensive spatial survey of 134Cs and 137Cs has been conducted on a regular basis since the accident, but the dataset for 135Cs/137Cs atom ratios and trace isotopic analysis of Pu remains limited because of analytical challenges. We have developed a combined chemical procedure to separate Pu and Cs for isotopic analysis of environmental samples from contaminated catchments. Ultra-trace analyses reveal a FDNPP Pu signature in environmental samples, some from further afield than previously reported. For two samples, we attribute the dominant source of Pu to Reactor Unit 3. We review the mechanisms responsible for an emergent spatial pattern in 134,135Cs/137Cs in areas northwest (high 134Cs/137Cs, low 135Cs/137Cs) and southwest (low 134Cs/137Cs, high 135Cs/137Cs) of FDNPP. Several samples exhibit consistent 134,135Cs/137Cs values that are significantly different from those deposited on plant specimens collected in previous works. A complex spatial pattern of Pu and Cs isotopic signature is apparent. To confidently attribute the sources of mixed fallout material, future studies must focus on analysis of individual FDNPP-derived particles.

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3.jpgIsoscapes of 134, 135, 137Cs and 239, 240Pu for part of the Fukushima prefecture surrounding FDNPP. The green marker is used to highlight an anomalous 240Pu/239Pu atom ratio of 0.64. R1, R2 and R3 correspond to ORIGEN estimated isotope ratio values for Reactor Units 1, 2 and 3, respectively27. SW indicates the mean value for the Cs isotope ratios measured to the southwest of FDNPP by Snow et al.19. 240Pu/239Pu atom ratio for Northern Hemisphere integrated global fallout is denoted by NHF28.

Read more at:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-34302-0?fbclid=IwAR3I0oIwIHCCpSin5H3amNyt1ZZ_9kEe1hC6PrI3jLFAo20duwAGqWBL-Ck

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November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA Urges TEPCO on Fukushima Daiichi Radioactive Water Disposal

LIES: ‘Treatment of contaminated water can remove all radioactive substances except tritium, which also exists in nature. As things stand, other radioactive substances also remain because the purification process is premised on the water being stored. In the event of this water being released into the ocean, or disposed of in another way, the tritium would of course be diluted and the other substances brought to or below allowable levels by purifying the water again.’
1. Radioactive tritium does not exist in nature.
2. Other radioactive substances remain in the radioactive water because both of their radionuclides removal systems failed to do fully the job.
3. In the event of this radioactive water being released into the ocean those radionuclides would not be “diluted’ but only scattered through the ocean, affecting all marine life and contaminating our food chain.

 

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IAEA’s report sensible on Fukushima N-plant contaminated water disposal
November 18, 2018
An international organization has provided some sensible advice. The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. must act quickly to move ahead with decommissioning reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
A review team of the International Atomic Energy Agency has compiled a preliminary summary report that urges a quick decision on the disposal method for the massive volume of water being stored at the power plant. The report warns that storage tanks will reach capacity in three to four years.
Groundwater enters the damaged nuclear plant buildings, where it becomes contaminated by radioactive substances. TEPCO purifies this water and stores it in tanks that stand in vast rows on the nuclear plant’s premises. There is little space available for more tanks.
The IAEA team hit the nail on the head with its concern that getting stuck on this problem could slow down the entire decommissioning process.
The review team came to Japan at the request of the Japanese government. The team is expected to objectively evaluate the current status of the decommissioning process, and to convey information about this situation to the world. The team will soon write a report containing its findings and advice, based on information including that gleaned from a visit to the site.
Given its role is to provide advice, the team’s report did not mention in detail any specific water disposal methods. However, at a press conference, the team’s leader pointed out that releasing such water into the ocean — an option under consideration by the government — is commonly done by many nuclear power facilities.
It also has been made clear that gaining the support of the Fukushima prefectural government and others will be a major precondition for any water disposal option.
Explain clearly to public
All steps need to be taken to keep the negative effects of harmful rumors about radiation to a minimum. The government and TEPCO should painstakingly continue to hold dialogue with local communities.
The review team also recommended how information about the disposal of treated water should be provided to the public.
Treatment of contaminated water can remove all radioactive substances except tritium, which also exists in nature. As things stand, other radioactive substances also remain because the purification process is premised on the water being stored. In the event of this water being released into the ocean, or disposed of in another way, the tritium would of course be diluted and the other substances brought to or below allowable levels by purifying the water again.
Distrust of the government and TEPCO has heightened because this fact has not been well-publicized.
On its website, TEPCO has posted information about the quality of water that has been treated. The review team said TEPCO should work to provide relevant information “in an easy-to-understand manner.”
Technical information delivered without proper explanations also will not be understood among the general public. Ingenuity will be required.
The decommissioning process has shifted from the emergency response immediately after the accident to a more stable situation and a phase in which work should be steadily implemented. The review team expressed awareness of this point, but also showed concern over ongoing problems, such as difficulty in removing fuel from reactor No. 3’s storage pool.
Difficult challenges lie ahead, including removing fuel debris. This will be a long process that takes 40 years. The technology and human resources development called for by the preliminary summary report must not be neglected.
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005357348

IAEA urges quick plan on Fukushima radioactive water cleanup
November 18, 2018
TOKYO (AP) — Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency urged the operator of Japan’s tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant on Tuesday to urgently decide on a plan to dispose of massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water stored in tanks on the compound.
A 13-member IAEA team told reporters in Tokyo after a weeklong review that managing nearly 1 million tons of radioactive water is critical to the plant’s safe and sustainable decommissioning.
The IAEA team said in a preliminary report that hundreds of tanks currently used to store the water over large areas of the plant’s compound can only be a temporary solution and must be removed “urgently.”
The cores of three reactors at the plant suffered meltdowns following a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of northeastern Japan.
Radioactive water has leaked from the damaged reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater at the plant. The water is treated and stored in large tanks.
More than 7 ½ years since the accident, officials have yet to agree on what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five alternatives, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean, which nuclear experts say is the only realistic option. Fishermen and residents, however, strongly oppose the proposal.
That option faced a major setback this summer when the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., acknowledged that the water, which it said had been carefully treated, was not clean enough. It said the water contains cancer-causing cesium and other elements in excess of allowable limits for release into the environment.
The IAEA interim report said TEPCO could run out of space for tanks in a few years, and the water storage adds to safety risks and could hamper the decommissioning of the plant, which is already an unprecedented challenge.
It said the water problem has improved recently because of measures such as an underground frozen wall installed around the reactor buildings to keep the radioactive water from mixing with groundwater. It suggested that TEPCO could further reduce the amount of contaminated water by cutting back on the use of cooling water injected into the reactors because the temperature of the melted fuel has fallen significantly.
IAEA mission leader Christophe Xerri told reporters that it is uncertain whether all of the melted fuel can ever be successfully removed because too little is known about the damage to the cores of the three reactors.
TEPCO and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021. Robotic probes inside the reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel but its exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown.
“If you don’t have the information it’s very difficult to say it’s possible or not” to remove all the fuel, Xerri said.
The team’s final report from its review is expected in late January.
https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/11/18/iaea-urges-quick-plan-fukushima-radioactive-water-cleanup/2049924002/?fbclid=IwAR2YaM-t-dDeHcjfbdttTho4j1t4v-89qz5zrRwSPABOKrUmk1g-Sa-kBlo

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Local Fury and Health Concerns as Japan Plans to Dump a Million Tons of Radioactive Fukushima Water Into Ocean

One nuclear specialist argued that the Japanese government’s reported plan “cannot be considered an action without risk to the marine environment and human health”
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by Jake Johnson, staff writer on Thursday, October 18, 2018
In a move that has sparked outrage from local residents and dire health warnings from environmentalists, the Japanese government is reportedly planning to release 1.09 million tons of water from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean despite evidence that it contains “radioactive material well above legally permitted levels.”
While both the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco)—the company that runs the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant—have claimed that radioactive material in the water has been reduced to indetectable amounts and that only “safe levels of tritium” remain, documents obtained by the London-based Telegraph suggest that the cleaning system being used to decontaminate the water “has consistently failed to eliminate a cocktail of other radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt, and strontium.”
“The government is running out of space to store contaminated water that has come into contact with fuel that escaped from three nuclear reactors after the plant was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan,” the Telegraph reported. “Its plan to release the approximately 1.09 million tons of water currently stored in 900 tanks into the Pacific has triggered a fierce backlash from local residents and environmental organizations, as well as groups in South Korea and Taiwan fearful that radioactivity from the second-worst nuclear disaster in history might wash up on their shores.”
One document the Telegraph obtained from the government body charged with responding to the 2011 Fukushima disaster reportedly indicates that the Japanese government is perfectly aware that the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) is failing to eliminate radioactive materials from the water stored at the Fukushima site, despite its claims to the contrary.
Last September, the Telegraph notes, “Tepco was forced to admit that around 80 percent of the water stored at the Fukushima site still contains radioactive substances above legal levels after the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima at which local residents and fishermen protested against the plans.”
Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace, argued that even so-called “safe” levels of tritium are harmful to humans and marine life.
“Its beta particles inside the human body are more harmful than most X-rays and gamma rays,” Burnie told the Telegraph, adding that there “are major uncertainties over the long-term effects posed by radioactive tritium that is absorbed by marine life and, through the food chain, humans.”
The Japanese government’s reported plans to release the water into the Pacific despite these warnings “cannot be considered an action without risk to the marine environment and human health,” Burnie concluded.

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Estimates of highly radioactive cesium-rich microparticles released by Fukushima disaster

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August 14, 2018

Scientists have for the first time been able to estimate the amount of radioactive cesium-rich microparticles released by the disaster at the Fukushima power plant in 2011. This work, which will have significant health and environmental implications, is presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Boston.
The flooding of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) after the disastrous earthquake on March 11 2011 caused the release of significant amounts of radioactive material, including cesium (Cs) isotopes 134Cs (half-life, 2 years) and 137Cs (half-life, 30 years). Initially scientists thought that all Cs was released in soluble form. Now however, they have realized that a part of the released Cs was in the form of glassy microparticles, formed at the time of the reactor meltdown; these particles were thrown over a wide area, but until now there has been no reliable estimate of how much radioactive cesium-rich microparticles was deposited in the surrounding area, and how this material was distributed.

Now a group of international scientists, led by Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya (Associate Professor of Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan) has been able to give the first accurate estimates of the amount of the radioactive microparticles in the environment. This work describes the significance of the microparticles to current radiation levels, and provides fundamental data for a future re-evaluation of health risks from the highly radioactive microparticles which remain in the local environment.

“Most of the glassy microparticles are only a few microns in size, and were spread alongside the soluble cesium. The soluble cesium is generally bound to clay minerals after wet deposition, with the clay minerals also forming particles, so it was difficult to distinguish the cesium-rich microparticles from cesium absorbed on clay.” said Dr. Utsunomiya, “However, we realized that the cesium-rich microparticle has an extremely high radioactivity ~1011 Bq/g compared with the much lower radioactivity for cesium-sorbing clay particles, and this can be used to distinguish the two types. So we have established a novel procedure to quantify the cesium-rich microparticles by applying a quantitative autoradiography method”.

Autoradiography exposes a photographic film or detector to a radioactive source, which causes the radiation to show up on the film (medical X-rays is the most common autoradiography technique). The team determined the threshold radioactivity for Cs-rich microparticles in the sieved fraction based on the relation between photostimulated luminescence signal and radioactivity. They applied this method to soil samples from 20 affected areas.

Dr. Utsunomiya continued “In certain areas, these glassy particles are highly concentrated, so they are a major concern. We have found up to 318 of these particles in just 1 gram of soil, near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Most of these particles are still in the ambient environments, indicating the high stability.

Since the Fukushima accident we have been gradually coming to understand how the microparticles were distributed, and what this might mean to health and the environment. As you would expect, there are more radioactive particles nearer the reactor: we believe that there was a proportion of cesium released as soluble material, but we have found that the area south of the reactor contains a higher proportion of glassy particles. Our estimate is that around 78% of radioactive cesium was released as glassy particles. Many of the microparticles have been washed down from roofs and from plants, and have now gathered in radioactive hot spots.

Now that we have a better idea of the quantities involved and how the radiation has been distributed, it gives our team a better idea of how to approach the effect on health, which is obviously a major concern. This work does not imply that there is any additional radiation which has been missed—the total amount of cesium released at Fukushima remains the same. However, the glassy particles have concentrated the radiation, which means that there is still much new work to be done to understand how this concentrated radiation might affect health”

Commenting on the work, Dr. Ken Buesseler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) said:

“The idea of microparticles has not been ‘missed’ in the assessment of total cesium levels in soil after Fukushima; it has been included, although this work highlights the fraction found in cesium microparticles. So we shouldn’t think that there is additional radiation to worry about, but nevertheless in this highly concentrated form it may have different health impacts. These researchers have done a fine job of developing new tools to quantify these microparticles, and that is an important story to tell”

More information: Ryohei Ikehara et al. Novel Method of Quantifying Radioactive Cesium-Rich Microparticles (CsMPs) in the Environment from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Environmental Science & Technology (2018). DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06693

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-reliable-highly-radioactive-cesium-rich-microparticles.html#jCp

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Regulator urges release of treated Fukushima radioactive water into sea

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The chief of Japan’s nuclear regulator said Thursday water at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that contains radioactive tritium even after being treated should be released into the sea after dilution.
“We will face a new challenge if a decision (about the release) is not made within this year,” Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa told a local mayor, referring to the more than 1 million tons of coolant water and groundwater that has accumulated at the facility crippled by the 2011 disaster triggered by a devastating quake and tsunami.
As local fishermen are worried about the negative impact from the water discharge, the Japanese government and Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. have not made a final decision on the treated water, which is currently stored in tanks.
In his meeting with Yukiei Matsumoto, mayor of Naraha town near the Fukushima plant, Fuketa said, “It is scientifically clear that there will be no influence to marine products or to the environment” following the water release.
The nuclear regulator chief underlined the need for the government and Tepco to quickly make a decision, saying, “It will take two or three years to prepare for the water release into the sea.”
At the Fukushima plant, toxic water is building up partly because groundwater is seeping into the reactor buildings to mix with water made radioactive in the process of cooling the damaged reactors.
Such contaminated water is treated to remove radioactive materials but tritium, a radioactive substance considered relatively harmless to humans, remains in the filtered water as it is difficult to separate even after passing through a treatment process.
At other nuclear power plants, tritium-containing water is routinely dumped into the sea after it is diluted. The regulator has been calling for the release of the water after diluting it to a density lower than standards set by law.
With limited storage space for water tanks, observers warn tritium could start leaking from the Fukushima plant.
On March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded the power supply facilities.
Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco chairman’s remark on water release goes radioactive

Comment draws ire from Fukushima residents, fishermen and watchdog

0721N_TEPCO_article_main_imageTakashi Kawamura, a former Hitachi chairman, took up his current post just last month.

 

TOKYO — Comments by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings’ chairman about releasing nuclear wastewater into the ocean are being met with anger from fisheries groups and many others.

Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura told news outlets earlier this month that the utility “has made its decision” on the release of tritiated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the ocean. Tritiated water is a radioactive form where the usual “light” hydrogen atoms are replaced with tritium.

Kyodo News reported the following day that the company shares the view of Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, that spilling the water into the sea would not cause any problem, scientifically speaking.

Tepco immediately released a statement saying Kawamura’s comments “did not intend to announce the concluded policy of the company on the matter.”

Nonetheless, the national cooperative of fishermen has protested. And rather unexpectedly, Tanaka criticized Kawamura for using his name to promote the company’s agenda. This is a worrying development for Tepco, since increased mistrust by the NRA could affect the utility’s medium- to long-term strategies, including restarting nuclear power plants.

Tritiated water is also released from normally functioning nuclear power plants. In Japan, water meeting official standards can be dumped into the sea.

But local residents have protested the idea, out of concern that rumors and misunderstandings could damage their community. At the Industry Ministry, a special committee has been considering the matter. Kawamura’s remarks were seen as getting ahead of that process, hence the backlash.

The wastewater in question still sits inside a number of storage tanks at the Fukushima power plant, with nowhere to go. Tepco and the government want to find a solution quickly, but the latest controversy shows that skipping careful and thoughtful communication with various stakeholders could end up costing them more time.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Tepco-chairman-s-remark-on-water-release-goes-radioactive

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Potential releases of 129I, 236U and Pu isotopes from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants to the ocean during 2013 to 2015

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After the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear accident, many efforts were put into the determination of the presence of 137Cs, 134Cs, 131I and other gamma-emitting radionuclides in the ocean, but minor work was done regarding the monitoring of less volatile radionuclides, pure beta-ray emitters or simply radionuclides with very long half-lives.

In this study we document the temporal evolution of 129I, 236U and Pu isotopes (239Pu and 240Pu) in seawater sampled during four different cruises performed 2, 3 and 4 years after the accident, and compare the results to 137Cs collected at the same stations and depths.

Our results show that concentrations of 129I are systematically above the nuclear weapon test levels at stations located close to the FDNPP, with a maximum value of 790 x107 at·kg-1, that exceeds all previously reported 129I concentrations in the Pacific Ocean.

Yet, the total amount of 129I released after the accident in the time 2011-2015 was calculated from the 129I/137Cs ratio of the ongoing 137Cs releases and estimated to be about 100 g (which adds to the 1 kg released during the accident in 2011).

No clear evidence of Fukushima-derived 236U and Pu-isotopes has been found in this study, although further monitoring is encouraged to elucidate the origin of the highest 240Pu/239Pu atom ratio of 0.293±0.028 we found close to FDNPP.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.7b03057

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

New TEPCO executives tripping over their tongues

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TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura, right, receives a formal letter of complaint from an executive member of JF Zengyoren, a nation-wide federation of fishery associations, over his comment about dumping contaminated water to the sea on July 19 in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.
Hoping to restore trust in embattled Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company’s new chairman and president have instead generated unwanted criticism and hostility in their first gaffe-filled month on the job.
They have added to the problems facing the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which also is hoping to bring its idled reactors back online.
On July 19, TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura, who is also honorary chairman of Hitachi Ltd., was apologizing at the headquarters of JF Zengyoren, a nationwide federation of fishery associations, in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. He was forced to explain “the true intention” of remarks he made last week regarding the release of diluted radiation-contaminated water into the sea.
On July 12, during a collective media interview session, Kawamura said “the decision has been made” to do so.
On the Fukushima plant premises, nearly 780,000 tons of water used to cool the reactors are stored, which had been decontaminated of radioactive cesium and plutonium but not tritium. Legally, the tritium-tainted water can be released into the sea, if diluted enough so the concentration of tritium is below a set standard.
However, as the release would add further adversity to the struggling fishing industry in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, the central government has not made any clear decision on what to do with it.
Kawamura, however, also said, “I am on the same line as the opinion of chair Shunichi Tanaka (of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority) that it is scientifically safe (to discharge water into the sea).”
On July 14, disaster reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino expressed concerns that releasing the water now would “definitely affect public sentiment” over catches from Fukushima Prefecture, where full-scale fishing had been stalled.
At the July 19 meeting with the fishery federation, Kawamura retracted his comment, saying, “As a company or personally, no decision has ever been made whether to release contaminated water to the sea. The true intention of my comments were not properly understood by some media agency.” The TEPCO chairman apologized to Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the federation, and others at the meeting.
Kishi, in return, submitted a letter of protest stating that they “strongly demand not to release radiation-contaminated water to the sea” and it is “unacceptable to the fishery industry and other Japanese people.”
On the same day, Kawamura admitted to the media what he said a week earlier, explaining that he meant “it cannot be independently decided by TEPCO.”
On July 19, in another part of Tokyo, NRA Chairman Tanaka told the media at a regular news conference that he is “boiling with anger” with Kawamura for including him in his comment. He also said Kawamura’s remark symbolizes his reluctance to face Fukushima residents.
“He used me as an excuse,” said Tanaka, who has suggested releasing water before the storage of contaminated water on the site reaches full capacity. “I have told him he needs to confront Fukushima issues as the first party to resolve them even if he faces a backlash. Despite that, he is still looking for an escape.”
On July 10, Kawamura and TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa attended a meeting with NRA members, including Tanaka, in Tokyo.
There, Kawamura said, “TEPCO has a responsibility to show that it can operate a nuclear power plant,” and he was warned by an NRA member for being “overly forward-looking.” Currently, none of TEPCO’s nuclear power plants are on-line.
On June 27, Kobayakawa also landed in hot water after referring to the town of Futaba, which co-hosts the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, as “where the evacuation order is partially lifted” in a comment to a group of reporters. However, the town has been in a “difficult-to-return zone” since the accident, and no residents are allowed to return to their homes.
At a regular news conference on July 18, a disgruntled Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said, “I would like TEPCO to fulfill its responsibility as the operator that caused a severe accident.”

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco ‘s response to the article about the release of tritiated water into the ocean

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A certain article reported today, “TEPCO decided to release tritiated water into the ocean” quoting the comment of TEPCO’s chairman Mr. Kawamura about the release of tritiated water into the ocean. The comment intended to say that TEPCO shares the same recognition with Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Dr. Tanaka, et al. that in accordance with the current regulation and standard based on scientific and technical ground, there should not be an impact of releasing tritiated water into the ocean. The comment did not intend to announce the concluded policy of the company on the matter.

We need to give our full attention to the satisfaction of both peace of mind of local residents and reconstruction of Fukushima, as well as the safety requirement to meet regulation and standard for the final decision. We will carefully examine our policy on the matter with the government and local stakeholders from such a perspective.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2017/1444608_10494.html

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Tepco Dump 770,000 tons of Tritiated Water Into the Pacific Ocean???

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Massive amounts of radiation-contaminated water that has been processed and stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant are hindering decommissioning work and pose a safety risk in case another massive quake or tsunami strikes.

“TEPCO needs to release the water — which contains radioactive tritium that is not removable but considered not harmful in small amounts — into the Pacific Ocean”, declared Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s new Chairman Takashi Kawamura during an interview at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

The method is favored by experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority as the only realistic option. Earlier, TEPCO had balked at calls by NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka for controlled release of the water, now exceeding 770,000 metric tons, into the sea, fearing a public backlash.

Tepco’s intention to release more than 770,000 metric tons of triated water into the sea was relayed by many media, the Japan Times adding to the volume number of 770,000 metric tons, that it was contained in 580 tanks. The volume number is right, to be precise it concerns 777,647 metric tons of tritiated water, but the 580 tanks number is wrong.

Knowing that those tanks have a capacity of 1000 metric tons each, 777,647 metric tons can only be stored in 780 tanks and not in 580 tanks only.

Of course in that 777,647 metric tons, are not included the other 202,565 metric tons of  only partially decontaminated water, in which Cesium and Strontium are been already filtered out but the other 62 radionuclides have not been yet filtered by the Multi-nuclides Removal System (ALPS). Those 202,565 metric tons stored in some additional 202 tanks more in the Storing Tank Area.

Bringing the total of contaminated water, Cesium/Strontium partially decontaminated water plus the 62 radionuclides decontaminated water (Tritiated water) to a total of 980,212 metric tons stored in 980 tanks.

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Of course it is not question to release the partially decontaminated water (202,565 metric tons) into the sea, only the fully decontaminated water (all radionuclides removed to the exception of tritium), the tritiated water, the 777,647 metric tons.

On the Tepco Press Release on Jul 10,2017, Tepco indicates quite clearly the actual volume of the 2 types of water stored in those tanks. Knowing that all those tanks have a capacity of 1000 metric tons each, the maths are easy.

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Some media along the way, I suspect the Japan Times AGAIN, added the 580 tanks number into its article, maybe a typo from 5 to 7, then the error was copied on and on by the other media.

It is sad to see professionnal media not capable to get their numbers right.

Since that July 13, 2017 declaration from Tepco’s new chairman, Tepco is now backpedaling, saying that they have not yet reached that decision, fearing a public backlash and the ire of the local fishermen.

The radioactive half-life of Tritium is 12,3 years, its radioactive full life is 123 years to 184,5 years. Once inside the body, tritium can lead to internal exposure. Its biological half-life of 10 days, full life 100 to 150 days.

Tepco Press Release July 10, 2017 Nuclear Power Station (310th Release) Nuclear Power Station (310th Release):  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170710e0201.pdf

 

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tepco backpedals after disaster reconstruction chief knocks plan to dump tritiated water into sea

 Hey, a change in the ‘official’ strategy: why admit it & damage your image when you can keep letting it happen & say you’ve decided not to do it ?

n-tritium-a-20170716-870x580.jpgThe Fukushima No. 1 plant and hundreds of tanks containing tritiated water are viewed from the air in February

 

Tokyo Electric backed off its tritium-dumping decision Friday after disaster reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino said it would cause problems for struggling fishermen trying to recover in Fukushima Prefecture.

The remarks made Friday by the Fukushima native came shortly after the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. was quoted as saying that the decision to discharge tritium-tainted water from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant into the sea had “already been made.”

After Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura’s remarks were widely reported, the utility scrambled to make a clarification the same day.

According to Tepco’s clarification, Kawamura meant to say that there was “no problem” with the dumping plan, based on government guidelines and “scientific and technological standards.” The statement also said that no final decision had been made.

A government panel is still debating how to deal with the massive amount of tainted water stored in tanks at the atomic plant, where three reactor cores melted after a huge earthquake in March 2011 spawned tsunami that devastated the region and knocked out all power at the plant.

Tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts. It remains in filtered water as it is difficult to extract on an industrial basis. Ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations.

At a news conference, Yoshino said there would “certainly be damage due to unfounded rumors” if the tainted water were dumped into the sea. He urged those pushing for the release “not to create fresh concerns for fishermen and those running fishing operations in Fukushima Prefecture.” He also asked them to take care not to drive fishermen “further toward the edge.”

Yoshino, who is not directly involved in the decision-making process for handling the water, was alluding to local concerns about how people’s livelihoods will be affected if people think marine products from Fukushima are contaminated with radiation. He added that while he is aware that many in the scientific community say the diluted water can be safely released, he remains opposed.

As I am also a native of Fukushima Prefecture, I fully understand the sentiment of the people,” the minister said.

Water injected to perpetually cool the damaged reactors becomes tainted in the process. A high-tech filtering apparatus set up at the plant can remove 62 types of radioactive material but not tritium. As a result, tritiated water is building up continuously at the plant. As of July 6, about 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks on the premises.

On March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant, which is situated 10 meters above sea level, and crippled its power supply, causing a station-wide blackout. The failure of the cooling systems in reactors 1, 2 and 3 then led to a triple core meltdown that became the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/15/national/tepco-backpedals-disaster-reconstruction-chief-knocks-plan-dump-tritiated-water-sea/#.WWoQ3IqQzdQ

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco Says It Has Not Made Final Decision On Discharging Contaminated Water Into Sea

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17 Jul (NucNet): Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said in a statement on 14 July 2017 that it had not made a final decision on whether or not to release water containing tritium into the sea at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station.

Tepco, which owns and operates the facility, was reacting to media reports that its chairman, Takashi Kawamura, had said the decision had already been made. But Tepco said in its statement posted on its website, that while it agreed with Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) that there should be no impact from releasing tritiated water into the ocean, Tepco had not finalised its policy on the matter.

We need to give our full attention to the satisfaction of both peace of mind of local residents and the reconstruction of Fukushima prefecture, as well as meeting regulation and safety standards for a final decision,” the statement said. “We will carefully examine our policy on the matter with the government and local stakeholders from such a perspective.”

Tepco said tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts, and ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations. This is because it is a byproduct of nuclear operations but cannot be filtered out of water.

As of 6 July 2017, about 770,000 tonnes of water containing tritium were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima-Daiichi station, which is running out of storage space.

Contaminated cooling water at the station is being treated by a complex water-processing system that can remove 62 different types of radioactive materials except tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

According to the Japan Times, NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka has been urging Tepco to release the water. But fishermen who make their livelihoods near the station are opposed to the releases, the newspaper said.

http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2017/07/17/tepco-says-it-has-not-made-final-decision-on-discharging-contaminated-water-into-sea

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Minister opposes releasing treated water from Fukushima plant into sea

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister said Friday he is opposed to treated water from the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant being released into the sea, citing the possible repercussions for local fishermen.

Masayoshi Yoshino’s remarks came shortly after a top official from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said he is ready to see the tritium-containing water dumped into the sea.

A government panel is still debating how to deal with the water stored in tanks at the plant where three nuclear reactors melted down in the days after a huge earthquake and then tsunami struck the region in 2011.

Tritium is a radioactive substance considered relatively harmless to humans. It remains in the filtered water as it is difficult to separate even after passing through a treatment process. At other nuclear power plants, tritium-containing water is routinely released into the sea after it is diluted.

Yoshino expressed at a news conference his concerns over the potential ramifications of releasing the treated water into the sea, saying there would “certainly be (perception) damage due to unfounded rumors.”

The minister urged those pushing for the release of the water “not to create fresh concerns for fishermen and those running fishing operations in Fukushima Prefecture.” He also asked them “not to drive (fishermen) further towards the edge.”

He was alluding to concerns among local fishermen about the effects on their livelihood if the public perceives fish and other marine products caught off Fukushima to be contaminated.

Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tepco, said in a recent interview that the decision to discharge the treated water “has already been made.”

After Kawamura’s remarks were widely reported, the utility was forced to make a clarification through a statement on Friday. Tepco said its chairman meant to say there is “no problem (with releasing water containing tritium) according to state guidelines based on scientific and technological standpoints,” and that the decision to release is not yet final.

While the plant operator and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry want to discharge the water, the local fishermen, backed by the minister, are opposed to it.

At the Fukushima plant, water becomes toxic when it is used to cool the damaged reactors. It is treated through a process said to be capable of removing 62 different types of radioactive material, except tritium.

Yoshino said Friday that while he is aware of some scientists’ opinion that the water should be released after it is diluted to permissible levels, he is not in favor of the idea.

“As I am also a native of Fukushima Prefecture, I fully understand the sentiment of the people,” Yoshino said. However, the minister has no authority to decide how the treated water will be disposed.

An ever-increasing amount of water containing tritium is collecting in tanks at the Fukushima plant. As of July 6, approximately 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks.

On March 11, 2011, water inundated the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170715/p2g/00m/0dm/064000c

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Nuclear Waste Will Be Dumped Into the Ocean, Japanese Plant Owner Decides

Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen.

Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing over 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since. While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company has only just resolved the debate over what to do with the water that was used to cool the plant’s damaged reactors, causing it to become tainted with tritium.

“The decision has already been made,” Kawamura said, according to The Japan Times.

We could have decided much earlier, and that is TEPCO’s responsibility,” he added, according to Reuters.

rtszxvl.jpgA member of the media uses a Geiger counter at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan, February 23, 2017. The site includes hundreds of tanks containing about 777,000 tons of water laced with tritium that TEPCO has decided to dump into the nearby sea, despite opposition from local fishermen.

 

Tritium is relatively harmless to humans in small doses ( so they pretend), and Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Agency Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told The Guardian last year that the tritium in Fukushima’s tanks was “so weak in its radioactivity it won’t penetrate plastic wrapping.” Dumping tritium-contaminated water into the sea is not at all an uncommon practice at nuclear power plants, but it’s been met with opposition by local fishermen, who say their industry has suffered enough in the aftermath of the environmental crisis.

While TEPCO and Tokyo say that the low concentration of tritium would do little damage to the ecosystem and could prevent a more serious accident from occurring at the site, where around 580 tanks are stored, fishermen argue that the negative publicity would be devastating to their livelihoods. Dozens of countries and the European Union now ban certain fish imports from Japan following the disaster, and up to 33 continue to do so as of March. TEPCO’s decision also has been met with outrage by anti-nuclear activists such as Aileen Mioko-Smith of Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, a group created in 1991 that is “working to create a nuclear-power-free Japan,” according to its official website.  

“This accident happened more than six years ago, and the authorities should have been able to devise a way to remove the tritium instead of simply announcing that they are going to dump it into the ocean,” Mioko-Smith told the Telegraph.

“They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas,” she continued.

july 14 2017 evacuated zonesA map showing the status of restricted areas affected by radiation from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant as of March 6, 2017. The nuclear disaster displaced up to 150,000 people, and many are reluctant to return to the region, despite pressure from the Japanese government.

 

TEPCO’s over-budget, oft-delayed effort to recover its former plant has been the subject of controversy for a number of reasons. Due to residual nuclear fuel, parts of the plant are so radioactive that they have even destroyed the robots specifically designed to survive in the deadly environment. Last month, Japanese company Toshiba announced it would send a new robot dubbed “little sunfish” to surveil the flooded area of the plant from which no device has returned, BBC News reported. A number of TEPCO officials have also stood trial for negligence over the nuclear disaster.

As for the rest of the Fukushima prefecture, life has started to resume, albeit slowly. Of the estimated 150,000 who fled, only around 13 percent have come back. The Japanese government has increasingly pressured the rest to return by pledging greater investment in Fukushima’s infrastructure and by withdrawing subsidies provided to the refugees and their families.

http://www.newsweek.com/fukushima-nuclear-waste-dumped-ocean-japanese-protests-637108

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO Announces Will Dump Radioactive Water at Fukushima Daiichi

From Majia’s Blog

TEPCO is announcing that its going to be dumping tritiated water into the sea:

Fukushima’s tritiated water to be dumped into sea, Tepco chief says (July 14, 2017). The Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/14/national/science-health/tepco-says-decision-already-made-release-radioactive-low-toxic-tritium-sea-fishermen-irate/#.WWjs_lHdnwk 

Despite the objections of local fishermen, the tritium-tainted water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be dumped into the sea, a top official at Tokyo Electric says.

The decision has already been made,” Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., said in a recent interview with the media.

Tritium typically poses little risk to human health unless ingested in high amounts, and ocean discharges of diluted volumes of tritium-tainted water are a routine part of nuclear power plant operations. This is because it is a byproduct of nuclear operations but cannot be filtered out of water.

As of July 6, about 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima plant, which is quickly running out of space.

TEPCO has been contaminating the ocean with tritiated water since the beginning of the disaster, inadvertently and also deliberately. In 2015 TEPCO was given formal permission to dump water measuring up to 1,500 becquerels per liter of tritium.

See my blog posts here:

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/04/contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi.html

http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi.html

TEPCO cannot filter tritium from water because tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that binds with oxygen, making radioactive water. So, all the water TEPCO has filtered using the ALPS and other systems is still highly tritiated.

TEPCO’s solution to unprecedented volumes of tritiated water is to dilute the filtered water to a level deemed acceptable for dumping in the ocean.

TEPCO’s maximum storage capacities for holding radioactive water in tanks at the site was reached years ago. Here is an excerpt from my book Crisis Communications, Liberal Democracy and Ecological Sustainability addressing the problems of contaminated water at Daiichi:

In May of 2013 The Asahi Shimbun reported the TEPCO was going to begin dumping groundwater at the Daiichi site because its storage capacities for contaminated water were nearly exhausted. There was considerable resistance from local fisherman because TEPCO lacked the capacity to remove Strontium-90 from captured water.

At that time, TEPCO reported that filtered water measured 710 million Becquerels per liter while unfiltered water was reported as twice as radioactive,[i] from tritium and strontium, the latter of which could not be filtered until the fall of 2014.[ii]

In 2015 the NRA approved a plan to allow TEPCO to dump decontaminated groundwater into the sea if the water registered less than 1 becquerel per liter of cesium, less than 3 becquerels per liter of beta emitters such as Strontium-90, and 1,500 becquerels per liter of tritium (NRA signs off on TEPCO plan to release decontaminated groundwater into sea January 22, 2015 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501220054).

Despite the low limits of contamination allowed by law in 2015, it appears likely from news accounts and TEPCO press releases that contaminated water has been deliberately and accidentally released into the ocean since 2013, if not earlier, because the reported volume of water in storage declined between 2014 and 2015, despite daily production of hundreds of tons of water that exceed decontamination capacities:

· May of 2013, TEPCO reported it held approximately 280,000 tons of radioactive water in storage, while an additional 100,000 tons were believed to reside in the basements of units 1 through 4, as well as in the turbine buildings.[iii]

· August 2013 TEPCO reported that approximately 300,000 tons of contaminated water leaked from one of the storage tanks and promised to treat all the contaminated water in storage by March 2015 (http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150123_30.html).

· January 2014 TEPCO announces at press conference that contaminated water in storage tanks is producing Bremsstrahlung radiation, which contributes to rising atmospheric radiation levels at the Daiichi site (Mochuzuki, 2014). The Nuclear Regulation Authority ordered TEPCO to lower radiation levels derived from tanks storing contaminated water to below 1 millisievert by the end of March 2015. Nagano

· February 2014 TEPCO reports a high of 360,000 tons of contaminated water in storage (Varma, 2014).Water measuring 230 million Becquerels per liter was reported leaking from storage containers at Daiichi in February 2014 (“TEPCO Finds,” 2014).

· September 18 2014: TEPCO reports 365,000 tons of highly contaminated water in storage tanks as of Sep 16 2014. (TEPCO begins test runs of new ALPS system at stricken plant. September 18, 2014). The Asahi Shimbun because the system in place since March 2013 has been prone to problems “So far, the existing trouble-prone ALPS equipment has processed 138,000 tons of contaminated water.”

· November 2014 TEPCO reports 500,000 tons of radioactive water is being stored in 1,000 large tanks, which include costlier new ones less likely to leak AP. Nuclear cleanup at Fukushima plant stymied by water woes November 13, 2014 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411130092

· January 15 2015 TEPCO reported it had 280,000 tons in storage and would not be able to meet its promised 2015 deadline (“TEPCO Racing Against Time, 2015)TSUYOSHI NAGANO TEPCO racing against time to process 280,000 tons of tainted water at Fukushima plant. (January 19, 2015)The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501190050

TEPCO has struggled with its ALPS water filtration system from the beginning: the system could not beta-emitters effectively (e.g., strontium and tritium) and was prone to breakdowns.

The new filtration system adopted in the fall of 2014 was an improvement because it removed Strontium but TEPCO announced it would regard water filtered by that system decontaminated, despite its failure to reduce other radionuclides:

Nagano, Tsuyoshi.TEPCO racing against time to process 280,000 tons of tainted water at Fukushima plant January 19, 2015 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501190050

The company introduced additional ALPS systems last autumn [fall 2014] to treat up to 1,960 tons of radioactive water a day.

The maximum processing capability was still insufficient to complete procedures by the end of March 2015, so TEPCO later in autumn introduced equipment that only removes strontium, which accounts for a large portion of all radioactive substances in the water. TEPCO has since been working to meet the target date by regarding strontium-free water as being “processed,” even if other radioactive substances remain.

Water filtered for strontium alone is now being designated as “processed,” although TEPCO hopes to get both the new and the old filtering system running together sometime in the spring of 2015.

It seems clear from these news report that water contaminated with beta emitters has very likely been dumped into the Pacific since the Fukushima crisis began. How long will contaminated water continue to be dumped or flow uncontained into the Pacific Ocean? Lack of ongoing sampling on land and in fresh and ocean water may lead scientists to underestimate the long-term effects of the disaster on the environment, particularly the ocean.

REFERENCES

[i] S. Kimura (6 April 2013) ‘120 Tons of Contaminated Water Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201304060038, date accessed 7 April 2013.

[ii] Yoshida ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head Above Tainted Water’.

[iii] ‘TEPCO to Dump Groundwater to Ease Crisis at Fukushima Nuclear Plant’.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/07/tepco-announces-will-dump-radioactive.html

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment