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TEPCO estimates tritium volume for disposal from Fukushima plant

Tritium, radioactive hydrogen, is clinically recognized as causing cancer, birth defects and genetic mutation. That should be plastered on the side of nuclear power plants.
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Storage tanks containing processed but still contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
November 18, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Holdings Co. on Nov. 18 released for the first time an estimate of the annual disposal amount of radioactive tritium from its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The volume will vary from 27 trillion to 106 trillion becquerel, depending on the commencement date and ending time of the disposal process, according to a report the utility presented to a subcommittee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
In comparison, a domestic nuclear power plant in operation usually dumps liquid radioactive waste that contains tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, from several hundred billion up to 100 trillion becquerel annually into the ocean, according to the ministry.
In line with the comparison, there will be no health-related problem by being exposed to radiation of the tritium disposed of from the Fukushima plant, the ministry said.
TEPCO made its preliminary calculation in substantiating the impact of the long-term storage of contaminated water.
The estimate set the total amount of tritium contained in the radioactive water stored in the tanks to be 860 trillion becquerel as of January 2020. Four starting dates of the disposal process were set as the beginning of 2020, 2025, 2030 and 2035.
The estimate assumed two ending times for the disposal at the end of 2041 and 2051, based on the progress schedule set by the government and the utility, which predicted the reactor decommissioning to be completed in 30 to 40 years.
The amount of tritium is expected to decay naturally over time. Still, the estimate revealed that the later the starting date is, the more the annual disposal amount will be.
Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant in Fukushima Prefecture, TEPCO has processed and stored a large amount of radiation-contaminated water in tanks on the grounds of the plant.
Even after being treated with a filtering system, the polluted water still contains tritium, which will be released when the water is dumped into the ocean or is disposed of in another manner.
The volume of contaminated water has continued to accumulate from the cooling of melted nuclear fuel debris and underground water pouring in.
TEPCO said that it cannot keep installing more storage tanks for the contaminated water due to space limitations of the site and that all the tanks will be full by around the summer of 2022.
If the disposal process hasn’t begun by then, TEPCO will have to build more storage tanks, exceeding the limit, which will lead to a delay in the construction of other facilities that are necessary for the decommissioning work of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s METI says it’s ‘safe’ to dump radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear disaster into ocean

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Tanks storing radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February
Nov 18, 2019
Japan’s industry ministry said Monday it would be safe to release water contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the ocean, stressing that the amount of radiation measured would be very small compared to what humans are naturally exposed to annually.
Discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean over the course of a year would amount to between just one-1,600th and one-40,000th of the radiation that humans are naturally exposed to, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry told a government subcommittee on the issue.
Water used to cool the melted-down cores and groundwater near the disabled plant contains some radioactive materials, and is currently being collected and stored in tanks on the plant grounds.
But space is running out fast, and the government is exploring ways to deal with the water — already more than 100 tons and increasing every day.
According to the ministry, annual radiation levels near the release point is estimated at between 0.052 and 0.62 microsievert at sea and 1.3 microsieverts in the atmosphere, compared with the 2,100 microsieverts that humans are naturally exposed to annually.
While government officials stress the safety of releasing the water, opposition lawmakers as well as neighboring South Korea have expressed concern. Local fishermen are also opposed to the release of the water into the sea, fearing the potential impact on fish stocks.
The water is being treated using an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, though the system does not remove the relatively nontoxic tritium and has been found to leave small amounts of other radioactive materials.
The tanks storing the water are expected to become full by the summer of 2022, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The plant was disabled by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.
A nuclear expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency said in 2018 that a controlled discharge of such contaminated water “is something which is applied in many nuclear facilities, so it is not something that is new.”

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Korea brings up Fukushima’s radioactive water disposal issue at WHO

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October 15, 2019
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that it conveyed the Korean government’s concerns over radioactive water disposal at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, during the 70th World Health Organization’s West Pacific Regional Conference.
Kang Dae-tae, assistant minister for the Planning and Coordination Office at the ministry and chief representative of the regional meeting, expressed concern about the handling of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant and urged the Japanese government and international agencies to respond with care.
“Disposing of radioactive water into the sea is not just a problem for Japan but an international issue that can have a significant impact on the marine environment of the Western Pacific region and the health of its people,” Kang said. “The WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, along with relevant international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has to minimize the impact on the health of the residents of the region.”
Kang urged the international bodies to disclose relevant information transparently so that there is no unnecessary anxiety when Japan decides on how to dispose of the contaminated water.
In response to Korea’s concerns, the Japanese health ministry officials said that they have made efforts to share information and clean up contaminated water, but have not currently decided on how to deal with Fukushima’s contaminated water.
The Japanese officials also noted that the decision to discharge the radioactive waters would be made under international standards such as the International Radiation Protection Committee.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is now sitting on a million-ton of water contaminated with radioactive elements while the amount grows around 150 tons a day.
While the Japanese government has claimed that it has removed most of the radioactive isotopes using an elaborate filtration process, it could not eliminate one isotope, tritium, so it has been storing the water in large tanks, which will fill up by 2022.
Some scientists have claimed that tritium causes harm to humans except in very high concentrations, and the IAEA also argues that properly filtered Fukushima water could be diluted with seawater and then safely released into the ocean without causing environmental problems.
However, other experts have claimed that even the diluted version of tritium can affect cell structures in plants, animals, or humans. The consensus of dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean also faces fierce backlash from both the Japanese fisherman groups and the Korean government, they said.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea Brings Fukushima Radioactive Water Sea Dumping Issue at International London Convention and Protocol of Marine Pollution

S. Korea raises issue of Fukushima’s contaminated water dump to international convention

Japan says it will keep international community updated on progress

157077756772_20191012Song Myeong-dal, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries ocean environment policy officer, represents South Korea during a consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and London Protocol on Oct. 7.

Oct.11,2019

The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) raised the danger of Japan’s ocean dump of contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant as an international issue at a meeting in London concerning an international convention. Japan responded by saying it would keep the international community informed of the progress on an ongoing basis. The developments suggest South Korea was successful in raising international interest in and concern about Japan’s irresponsible approach to the disposal of contaminated water from Fukushima.

On Oct. 10, the MOF reported that the day before, representatives had attended a consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and Protocol on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter – which opened in London on Oct. 7 – to express concerns to Japan concerning the handling of the contaminated water from Fukushima and request ongoing interest in the issue at the consultative meeting level. The meeting was attended by representatives of 47 contracted parties, as well as international organizations such as the OECD and NGOs including Greenpeace.

The Japanese government has recently talked several times about the ‘unavoidability’ of an ocean dump as a way of dealing with contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant,” Song Myeong-dal, MOF ocean environment policy officer and senior South Korean representative at the meeting, said on Oct. 9.

If [Japan] does release contaminated water from the plant into the ocean, this could have an impact on the global oceanic environment and be in violation of the aims of the London Protocol,” Song warned. Article 2 of the London Convention and Protocol states that contracting parties “shall individually and collectively protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution and take effective measures [. . . ] to prevent, reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by dumping or incineration at sea of wastes or other matter.”

Song stressed that the Japanese government “needs to be transparent about its means of handling contaminated nuclear power plant water, adequately communicating and discussing important matters such as its handling methods and schedule with neighboring countries and the international community in the future and deciding on a safe and rational approach.”

In order to find a method of contaminated nuclear power plant water handling that the international community can be confident is safe, I think this matter should be discussed on an ongoing basis by the consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and Protocol ,” he suggested.

157077756799_20191012A consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and London Protocol on Oct. 7.

 

In response, a representative of the Japanese government reiterated the position that the matter was “not something to be discussed by the consultative meeting,” adding that there had been “no decision within the Japanese government on how to handle the contaminated nuclear power plant water” and that the international community would be “kept informed about the process.” The representative also presented information on the water’s handling that was previously shared in September with locally stationed diplomats in Japan.

Greenpeace expresses similar concern about ocean dump

The issue of contaminated water had not previously been discussed within the context of the London Protocol at past consultative meetings since the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In addition to South Korea, representatives from China and Chile also expressed concerns at the latest meeting over the possibility of Japan dumping the contaminated water into the sea and suggested that the issue would be the focus of ongoing discussions at the meeting.

The NGO Greenpeace similarly shared concerns about the possibility of an ocean dump in a document at the meeting containing “concerns and questions about the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant contaminated water release plan.” Contending that the Japanese system for handling contaminated nuclear power plant water is “inefficient,” it proposed that the international community work together on finding a solution.

During a Compliance Group meeting held ahead of the consultative meeting on Oct. 3–4, the South Korean representative strongly emphasized the need to review the ocean release of radioactive waste matter within the context of the London Protocol, insisting that Japan should not be allowed to make a unilateral decision on whether to proceed with the dumping of contaminated nuclear power plant water into the ocean. The Compliance Group meeting was established to discuss whether contracted parties to the protocol are complying with their obligations.

In bilateral meetings with major countries and through issues raised in the Compliance Group setting, the South Korean government rallied support for the position that this matter should be addressed at the consultative meeting,” said Song Myeong-dal.

We will continue to make such requests at this meeting and other international meetings going forward so that the Japanese government can find an approach that we can be confident is safe,” he pledged.

http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/912889.html

 

South Korea Brings Fukushima Wastewater Issue to London Convention Meeting

October 11, 2019

The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) raised the danger of Japan’s contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant as an international issue at a meeting to the London Convention. 

 

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) deemed the danger of Japan’s contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant as an international issue at a meeting to the London Convention. 

The London Convention controls pollution of the seas and oceans by dumping and covers the deliberate disposal of wastes and other matter into the world’s waters, according to the U.S. EPA. The discharged water will have a direct influence on the marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people in Korea, according to the Korea Times.

As of Aug. 22, approximately 1.1 million tons of contaminated water is being stored in 977 tanks at the decommissioned power plant in Fukushima, which was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami

The Japanese government said recently it will only build more facilities through 2020, which will bring the total stored volume to 1.37 million tons, according to Science Page News. The storage facilities are projected to be filled by August 2020, which suggests that there will be no more tanks to hold the 170 tons of radiation-contaminated water created daily.

If [Japan] does release contaminated water from the plant into the ocean, this could have an impact on the global oceanic environment and be in violation of the aims of the London Protocol,” said Song Myeong-dal, MOF ocean environment policy officer and senior South Korean representative. “In order to find a method of contaminated nuclear power plant water handling that the international community can be confident is safe, I think this matter should be discussed on an ongoing basis by the consultative meeting of contracted parties to the London Convention and Protocol.”

In response, a representative of the Japanese government said that the matter was not something to be discussed by the consultative meeting and that the international community would be kept informed about the process, reported the Hankyoreh.

“There is another option to deal with radioactive water. Japan can keep it in the tanks until the radiation level becomes low enough. But this takes time and money. It will take about 300 years until it is okay to discharge the water,” said Kim Ik-jung, a former medical professor and member of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to the Korea Times.

South Korea plans to continue to raise the wastewater issue to the international community until Japan comes up with a safe and acceptable solution, according to the Hankyoreh.

https://www.wwdmag.com/waste-treatment-disposal-services/south-korea-brings-fukushima-wastewater-issue-london-convention

 

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea raises worries over Fukushima waste water at global maritime conference

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October 10, 2019
South Korea raised the issue of Japan’s reported plan to release radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean …at a global conference of the International Maritime Organization in London this week.
During a meeting to discuss the London Convention and Protocol… Seoul’s fishery ministry demanded that Tokyo transparently disclose information over its handling of the contaminated water and called for continuous discussion of the issue.
The London Protocol is aimed at preventing marine pollution and bans the export of waste or other matter to other countries for dumping or incineration at sea.
However, the direct dumping of wastewater from land to sea has been absent from the discussion.
 
With the management of radioactive waste on the agenda for this year’s meeting, …representatives from China and Chile also expressed their concern and called for more discussions over the matter.
Ghana’s representative to the IMO, who is the chair of the meeting, also noted that the issue can be brought up for discussion and that Japan should provide information.
For the first time, Japan’s representative said it will continue to provide transparent information concerning the contaminated water at Fukushima.
 
This is the latest effort by the Korean government to deter Tokyo from discharging an estimated one.one million tons of contaminated water stored at its Fukushima plant.
Last month, Seoul raised the issue at the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
At the gathering, Japan dismissed criticisms, claiming they were not based on scientific evidence.
Park Se-young, Arirang News.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Report Confirms Hazardous Radioactive Materials Contained in Contaminated Fukushima Water

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South Korean environmental activists hold a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 8, 2018, to protest against Japan’s decision to release the Fukushima nuclear plant’s radioactive, contaminated water into the sea.
October 4, 2019
SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — As Japan seeks to release contaminated water from its disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean media revealed that the tainted water contains hazardous radioactive materials.
KBS News reported on Thursday that a report submitted by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry early this week confirmed the presence of the hazardous radioactive materials, such as cesium and strontium, in the contaminated water.
The report said that cesium, strontium, and iodine 129 exceeded standard levels in 82 percent of all contaminated water kept in Fukushima as of October of last year.
It was also revealed that 17 percent of the tainted water emitted radiation that was ten times stronger than the annual limit on radiation exposure (1 mSv/Y), while 7 percent of the water contained radioactive materials that were 100 times stronger.
In an interview with KBS News, a TEPCO official said that “problems with the filters and several systems in the water treatment facility prevented it from being run at full capacity for a certain period.”
TEPCO said it can no longer accommodate the contaminated water that is being produced every day since the East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and has proposed a plan to release it to the atmosphere or the sea.
Roughly 170 tons of contaminated water is being produced at the Fukushima Power Plant every day. As of last July, the total amount of tainted water had reached 1.15 million tons.
The Japanese government, in contrast, has been claiming that the water now only contains tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope known to exist in the natural environment.
Neighboring states, including South Korea, are strongly opposing the idea of releasing the water, since it may cause secondary damage.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency understands the issues and concerns that we face. They are also keeping a close watch on the matter,” said Uhm Jae-sik, head of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Seoul-Tokyo feud deepens over radioactive water

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Rep. Choi Jae-sung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), third from left, speaks during a meeting for the party’s special committee to counter Japan’s “retaliatory” trade restrictions on South Korea in this July 11 file photo, at the party’s meeting room at the National Assembly in Seoul.
October 3, 2019
The Japanese government’s continued reluctance to openly support dumping radioactive wastewater for fear of creating a fresh controversy over the destroyed Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima is adding concern to the already deteriorated Seoul-Tokyo relations.
 
Currently, more than 1 million tons of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at the plant, according to government data. However, the site administrators have warned that they will run out of space by the summer of 2022.
 
A proposed plan to release the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean is angering South Korea. The government, which has yet to officially lift an import ban on fishery and agricultural products from Fukushima introduced in 2013, has recently claimed that discharging the water will pose a “grave threat” to the marine environment. But Japan has rejected this charge.
 
The Japanese Embassy in Seoul has been posting atmospheric radiation levels monitored in Seoul and Fukushima Prefecture since Sept. 24, updating them on a daily basis. The embassy said the levels in Fukushima were similar to other major cities worldwide including Seoul.
 
In response, a committee launched by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) published a map centered on the devastated nuclear plant that shows radiation-contaminated areas. The map marks stadiums for the 2020 Olympics ― including Miyagi, Fukushima Azuma, Ibaraki Kashima, Tokyo, and the Saitama Super Arena ― as contaminated by radiation from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
 
The DPK said the map was based on public data released by the Minnano Data Site, a Japanese civic organization, that lists radioactive measurements of food and soil.
 
“We made the map to show measures we can take to protect our people’s lives and safety,” said Rep. Choi Jae-sung, chairman of the committee. “Japan’s plan to release contaminated water is controversial, as marine products from many regions in Japan could be contaminated, and this could influence decisions by visitors for the Tokyo Olympics as well as participating athletes.”
 
Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono tweeted that he ordered the posting of radiation levels on the website of the embassy in Seoul in response to growing concerns over the issue here.
 
But critics are urging Japan to “do something more” as they say releasing the contaminated water will further raise concerns among South Korean and Japanese people.
 
They say Tokyo’s plan to use an advanced liquid-processing system to remove highly radioactive substances such as cesium from the water doesn’t completely filter out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen commonly found in cooling water released into the ocean by coastal nuclear power plants.
Nuclear specialists said tritium has the potential to in concentrated doses to damage cell structures in plants, animals and people, claiming “dilution” wasn’t the best option to avoid this. They said Tokyo should continue to store the water in areas outside the plant site despite opposition from local residents who were evacuated.
 
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry summoned Tomofumi Nishinaga, a minister for economic affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to complain about the plan to release the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
 

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea inspects ships traveling from Fukushima for radiation

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A South Korean politician said Wednesday seawater near Fukushima Prefecture (pictured) was being brought in and being discharged into Korean waters.
Oct. 2 (UPI) — South Korea is stepping up surveys of ships originating from areas near Fukushima, Japan.
Seoul’s ministry of maritime affairs and fisheries said Wednesday it will work with South Korea’s nuclear safety committee to assess radiation levels in ballast water originating from ships traveling from Fukushima, Yonhap reported.
Japan said in September the country has “no choice” but to discharge radioactive water into the ocean, a statement that drew concern from neighbors like South Korea.
South Korea is surveying 32 coastal areas and another 32 offshore zones near the peninsula on a quarterly basis to assess radiation, according to the report.
The South Korean decision comes after local lawmaker Kim Jong-hoe, a member of the National Assembly’s Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock and Fisheries Committee, said that it was “confirmed” seawater near Fukushima Prefecture was being brought in and being discharged into Korean waters.
South Korea upholds a ban on Japanese seafood originating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster zone.
According to Kim on Wednesday, ships originating from areas near Fukushima, including Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures discharged about 128 million tons of ballast water from September 2017 to July of this year. The water was discharged at South Korean ports, Kim said.
The 2011 nuclear crisis that occurred following the Tohoku earthquake was a tragedy that forced farmers in the area to leave behind livestock.
The Asahi Shimbun reported this week the area is also home to feral ostriches following the quake.
The ostriches are descendants of birds kept at a ostrich park that opened in the area in 2001, according to the report.
Fukushima remains off-limits to people due to high radiation.
 

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese citizens nationwide opposed to Pacific Ocean discharge of Fukushima radioactive water support storage and processing – new opinion poll

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October 1, 2019, Tokyo… Nearly four times as many Japanese citizens oppose the discharge of highly contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean than support it, according to a Greenpeace commissioned poll

.(1) The polling of 3000 citizens in Fukushima and Niigata prefecture, as well as wider Japan, showed most expressed their support for storage of over 1 million tons of water rather than release to the Pacific Ocean. Only a small percentage approve of Government plans for discharge. Greenpeace commissioned Rakuten Insight, a pioneer in Japanese online market research to conduct the poll which was conducted between 19-24 September 2019.

 

The results show some slight variation in opinion between those in Fukushima and those in Niigata and wider Japan. Averaging of the poll revealed that 48.6% oppose marine discharge and 12.9% approve. In Fukushima, 15.9% approve of discharge, while 43.3% oppose. Of those who oppose discharge, nationwide 51% stated that their principal concerns were that discharging will have a negative impact, not just in Fukushima and wider Japan, but also internationally. In Fukushima, 52.9% think it will have a negative effect on Fukushima fisheries.

 

We deliberately set out to try and understand the level of understanding Japanese citizens have, what they were thinking and why. They show only a small percentage approve of discharging to the Pacific ocean, and by a wider margin, most oppose. The strongest opposition comes from Niigata citizens and wider Japan. One clear message they send to the Abe government is that the opposition to discharge is not limited to Fukushima fisheries (2) and Fukushima prefecture but is nationwide. Most of those polled who are opposed to discharge show both a concern for the international impacts in the Asia/Pacific region any discharge would have and also the impact it would have on Fukushima fisheries,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany (Tokyo).

 

A Greenpeace report (3) in January 2019 showed that METI in 2016 deliberately excluded the option to store and process the contaminated water to remove radioactive tritium, despite receiving technical submissions from U.S. nuclear companies, and the U.S. Department of Energy. The myth promoted by the Government and TEPCO ever since is that tritium removal is not possible. The Greenpeace report also provided analysis on the failure of the ALPS processing systems, which means that over 800,000 tons of contaminated water contains dangerous radionuclides such as Strontium-90, tens to thousands of times above regulatory limits. TEPCO has committed to processing this water – but doubts remain as to how effective this will be.

 

As the Fukushima nuclear disaster has shown, ocean currents will disperse any future radioactive materials released not only into the Pacific,  but also the East China Sea, Sea of Japan/East Sea.(4) In recent weeks, the Japanese government plans for discharge have been challenged by the South Korean government at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while Greenpeace addressed the issue to diplomats attending the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva given Japan’s obligation to prevent citizens from exposure to harmful radioactivity. The issue will also be debated at the International Maritime Organization meeting of parties to the London Convention and London Protocol which opens on 7th October in London.

 

The people of Japan are sending a message to the government that they will not accept deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment. As the polling shows, the Japanese people are concerned about the international impact of any discharge. This was never just a domestic issue. The international focus on TEPCO’s water crisis is only going to escalate in the coming months – and the Abe government has the means to end this by making the only justifiable decision – commit to no discharge and instead decide on long term storage and processing,” said Burnie.

 

Greenpeace commissioned the poll to include the views of 1000 Niigata citizens as they are under direct threat, including from marine contamination, from any restart of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant. TEPCO is seeking the restart of reactors 6&7, despite the existence of major seismic fault lines both adjacent and through the site. The nuclear plant is TEPCO’s last hope of remaining a nuclear plant operator.

 

Notes:

1 – Greenpeace commissioned Rakuten Insight is a member of the JMRA (Japan Marketing Research AssociationJapan Marketing Research Association) and the ESOMAR (Europe Society Opinion and Market Research Association); poll results (in Japanese) – https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-japan-stateless/2019/09/b3d20ee4-%E6%B1%9A%E6%9F%93%E6%B0%B4%E6%84%8F%E8%AD%98%E8%AA%BF%E6%9F%BB%E7%B5%90%E6%9E%9C.pdf

2 – Fukushima fishermen concerned for future over release of radioactive water, Justin McCurry  The Guardian, 16 September 2019, see https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/fukushima-fisherman-fear-for-future-over-release-of-radioactive-water

3 – Greenpeace Germany, “TEPCO Water Crisis”, 22 January 2019, Shaun Burnie, see https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-japan-stateless/2019/06/eef0f147-tepco_water_crisis.pdf

4 – Transport of FNPP1-derived radiocaesium from subtropical mode water in the western North Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan https://www.ocean-sci.net/14/813/2018/

https://www.greenpeace.org/japan/nature/press-release/2019/10/01/10504/?fbclid=IwAR0mMtlCoCjD7tLB_hy1vy8utwxJw3lWW6xj7_HJLu_uas9RCFCY_c8I848

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan warns Japan over radioactive water release

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The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2016. Over the years since, tens of thousands of people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks. But what to do about the leftover waste water?
September 25, 2019
Some in Taiwan also fear a repeat of Japan’s disaster as a nuclear plant sits close to fault lines on the island
Taiwan has warned Japan not to dump radioactive water from the burned-out reactor cores at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima into the nearby ocean, fearing prevailing currents may eventually push the polluted water to its own shores.
In March 2011, a devastating tsunami triggered by an undersea tremor buffeted the major nuclear base supplying power to Tokyo, and the apocalyptic disaster made a large swathe of the neighboring areas uninhabitable as well as a spillover of polluted dust into the capital city.
Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council (AEC) fears that currents could carry polluted water across the Pacific Ocean to the coastline as far as North America, which may flow back to Taiwan in three to six years.
The AEC said on Tuesday it would file a complaint with the Japanese government if it decided to discharge the radioactive water into the sea, but it also stressed that Japanese officials and scientists had not yet reached a consensus on what to do with the staggering amount of contaminated water.
Japan’s environmental protection ministry and Tokyo Electric Power Co which owns the mangled nuclear reactors in Fukushima say the one-million-tonne storage of radioactive water used to cool the reactors to prevent further meltdown would be filled to the brim within three years.
Japan is mulling a plan to release part of the less radioactive waste water – reportedly 10,000 tonnes – into the sea, an idea that instantly stoked fears in neighboring countries, including Taiwan and South Korea.
If the water from the reactors enters the Pacific Ocean, it would first be carried by currents to North America from Alaska, Canada’s British Columbia all the way down to California, before moving southward and reaching Taiwan in three to six years, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Germany-based Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research.
That said, it is believed that by the time the radioactive water returned to Asia and reached Taiwan, the pollutants would have been attenuated to a concentration of nearly one in 10,000, far less harmful after the dilution process in the vast Pacific Ocean.
The island’s nuclear energy watchdog says that water and fishery products in nine ports across Taiwan are regularly sampled to test for radioactivity, without having any abnormal findings so far.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

‘It will take 300 years before contaminated water is safe to discharge into sea’

Not only 300 years, more than 300 years….
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Experts warn there is no safe threshold for radioactive exposure
September 18, 2019
By Kim Jae-heun
Nuclear experts from around the world are condemning the Japanese government’s possible move to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The plan is raising concerns especially in Korea, Japan’s closest neighbor, as the discharged water will have a direct influence on the marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people themselves.
As of Aug. 22, about 1.1 million tons of contaminated water are being stored in 977 tanks at the power plant in Fukushima, which was destroyed by an earthquake and resultant tsunami in 2011. The Japanese government has said it will only build more facilities through 2020 and this will bring the total stored to 1.37 million tons.
By August 2020, all the storage facilities are projected to be filled and there will be no more tanks to hold the 170 tons of radiation contaminated water created every day.
Tokyo has remained quit on how it will cope with the radioactive water, not giving any clear answers to the international community. The possibility of discharging it into the sea was raised recently after Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at the German branch of the environmental group Greenpeace, warned in August that Japan could dump over 1 million tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific.
Since then, Japanese government officials began to discuss the issue. They say almost all the radioactivity has been removed from the water except for tritium, claiming this metal is relatively nonhazardous ― something experts disagree with, noting it can cause cancer and fetal deformities.
Former Japanese Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada said in a recent interview that there was no other option but to dilute the contaminated water by pumping it into in the sea in order to dispose of it; although Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Harada’s remarks were only his personal opinion and the government had not made any decision.
Burnie, however, says this was only the “cheapest” option.
“This is the principal reason. They do not want to pay the full costs of storing and processing the contaminated water, including removal of radioactive tritium,” Burnie said during an email interview with The Korea Times. “For these reasons, in 2016, the Ministry of Economy Task Force on water turned down the options offered by various companies to develop tritium removal technology.”
Kim Ik-jung, a former medical professor at Dongguk University who served as a member of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission here, agreed that discharging the contaminated water into the sea was the cheapest and fastest way to get rid of it, but at the same time it was also the most dangerous.
“There is another option to deal with radioactive water. Japan can keep it in the tanks until the radiation level becomes low enough. But this takes time and money. It will take about 300 years until it is okay to discharge the water,” Kim said.
Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University in Japan, said he thinks the Japanese government will go ahead and discharge the radiation-contaminated water into the sea in the near future, and this must be stopped at all cost.
“Being exposed to radiation, even if it is a very small amount, is still dangerous. Nobody should discharge radiation into the environment including the ocean,” Koide said.
According to a Greenpeace report released earlier this year, the Japanese government has reviewed five options to deal with the accumulating radioactive waste, and discharging it into the Pacific Ocean was considered the most reasonable as it would only cost 37.7 billion won, based on 2016 calculations by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The ministry also concluded that other options also entailed various risks.
Greenpeace Korea believes that if the Japanese government decides to discard the contaminated water, it will only do so after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It argues that the Shinzo Abe administration will not court controversy while it has the world’s full attention during the Games scheduled between July 24 and Aug. 9.
“The Japanese government cannot just discard radioactive waste at its own discretion. It is watching how other countries are reacting to its hints that it could discharge the contaminated water into the ocean. That’s why the former Japanese environment minister made such remarks on the day he retired,” a Greenpeace Korea official said.
Concerns over Tokyo Olympics amid radiation issue
The Japanese government’s plan to dump contaminated wastewater is not the only issue related to Fukushima.
In less than a year, Japan will hold one of the world’s biggest sporting events, and nuclear experts around the world have expressed concerns that participating athletes could be exposed to radiation.
Koide says Olympic committees from all over the world should decide to boycott the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Last year, the scholar sent a document to Olympic committee members worldwide, warning of the radiation danger athletes and visitors will face.
In the letter, Koide questioned Japan’s suitability as the host of a worldwide event like the Olympics, and the country’s capability to take strict safety measures necessary to protect athletes and other visitors.
The professor further explained that the resultant radioactive materials leak from the explosion at the Fukushima plant in 2011 is still affecting “an area whose vastness has not been precisely determined yet.”
“Seven years have passed and the situation has not improved at all. As an honorable and honest citizen of Japan, I am asking you to reconsider your country’s participation in the Olympic Games that will take place in Tokyo in 2020,” he wrote in a letter sent in October 2018.
Burnie sided with Koide by saying that the Japanese government was being dishonest in the way it was using the Olympics to communicate with the world and its citizen that there has been a full recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and there are no radiation risks.
“The reality of Fukushima Prefecture is highly complex with many citizens living in areas with low radiation risks ― at the same time there are areas in Fukushima, such as Namie and Iitate, where radiation risks are high, and tens of thousands of citizens remain displaced as evacuees,” Burnie said.
The Japanese government also announced that it would host baseball games and softball games in Fukushima, while providing food made from ingredients grown in the region.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe ate a rice ball made with crops grown there to demonstrate that the food was safe, but many criticized that this was a dangerous act.
“I don’t know if Abe ate it because he really thought it was safe or just for show. But it was a really dangerous act. Whatever is affected by radiation is dangerous without question,” Kim said.
“According to textbooks, if a person is exposed to radiation, be it internal or external, he or she is highly likely to develop cancer or hereditary disorders. Heart disease is also a common result.”
Korean government’s response
The Korean government is alarmed by the possible discharge of contaminated water, but is unable to strongly request the Japanese government not to do so, because the latter keeps saying it has yet to make a decision about how it will dispose of the water.
In mid-August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Japanese government to state its official stance on the issue. Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae said on social media Sunday, “We’ve asked the Japanese government to share material about how it is coping with the contaminated water from Fukushima, but it has avoided giving answers. It should take responsibility as a member of the international community by sharing information with its neighboring countries and holding sufficient talks with them.”
The government also called on international society at a general meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, Monday, to take collective action against the possibility of Japan discharging the water into the ocean.
Mun Mi-ock, the first vice minister of science and ICT, said in a keynote speech that Japan has failed to find an answer to the disposal of the radioactive waste since the meltdown at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.
“It is an important international issue that can affect the marine environment of the whole world, so the IAEA and its members need to take joint action,” Moon said.
The IAEA has no right to regulate a particular country, but the government believes public opinion formed against Japan could prevent it from dumping the radioactive water into the ocean as it counts 171 countries as members.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Osaka mayor Ichiro Matsui offers to take in tainted Fukushima water and dump it into Osaka Bay

2019-09-11T092608Z_1848372426_RC1A73D0EDC0_RTRMADP_3_JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-REINVESTIGATION-870x579.jpg
Workers stand in front of storage tanks for radioactive water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February.
Sep 17, 2019
OSAKA – Ichiro Matsui, the mayor of Osaka and head of Nippon Ishin no Kai, said Tuesday that water tainted by radioactive tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant could — if proven environmentally safe — be sent to Osaka and dumped into Osaka Bay.
“It’s necessary for all of Japan to dispose of that which creates absolutely no environmental damage. If (the radioactive water) is brought to us, it can be released,” Matsui said.
 
He added that he first would want a team of scientific experts to study the matter, and that the team would need to show that the level of radioactivity in any Fukushima water was at or below normal levels of radiation.
Matsui’s offer comes as the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. continue to discuss what to do with the more than 1 million tons of contaminated water collected since the Fukushima plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The water is being stored in tanks at the site, but Tepco has said it will run out of storage space in about three years.
Former Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada angered Fukushima residents and the local fishing industry earlier this month when he said that the water might have to be dumped into the ocean. The government has said that dumping the water contaminated with tritium would not pose any health risks to humans.
“The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Harada told a news conference.
Newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi met with Fukushima officials after assuming the post last week, but he did not clearly indicate how he wanted to deal with disposal of the radioactive water.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen concerned for future over release of radioactive water

Eight years after the triple disaster, Japan’s local industry faces fresh crisis – the dumping of radioactive water from the power plant

 

4500Last year’s catch was just 16% of pre-crisis levels, partly because of the Japanese public’s reluctance to eat fish caught off Fukushima due to the radioactive water.

September 16, 2019

On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, Tetsu Nozaki watched helplessly as a wall of water crashed into his boats in Onahama, a small fishing port on Japan’s Pacific coast.

Nozaki lost three of his seven vessels in one of the worst tsunami disasters in Japan’s history, part of a triple disaster in which 18,000 people died. But the torment for Nozaki and his fellow fishermen didn’t end there. The resulting triple meltdown at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people and sent a plume of radiation into the air and sea.

It also came close to crippling the region’s fishing industry.

Having spent the past eight years rebuilding, the Fukushima fishing fleet is now confronting yet another menace – the increasing likelihood that the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), will dump huge quantities of radioactive water into the ocean.

We strongly oppose any plans to discharge the water into the sea,” Nozaki, head of Fukushima prefecture’s federation of fisheries cooperatives, told the Guardian.

Nozaki said local fishermen had “walked through brick walls” to rebuild their industry and confront what they say are harmful rumours about the safety of their seafood. Last year’s catch was just 16% of pre-crisis levels, partly because of the public’s reluctance to eat fish caught off Fukushima.

Currently, just over one million tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at Fukushima Daiichi, but the utility has warned that it will run out of space by the summer of 2022.

Tepco has struggled to deal with the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting. Although the utility has drastically reduced the amount of wastewater, about 100 tonnes a day still flows into the reactor buildings.

Releasing it into the sea would also anger South Korea, adding to pressure on diplomatic ties already shaken by a trade dispute linked to the countries’ bitter wartime history.

Seoul, which has yet to lift an import ban on Fukushima seafood introduced in 2013, claimed last week that discharging the water would pose a “grave threat” to the marine environment – a charge rejected by Japan.

Fukushima fisheries officials point out that they operate a stringent testing regime that bans the sale of any seafood found to contain more than 50 becquerels of radioactive material per kilogram – a much lower threshold than the standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram observed in the rest of Japan.

At Onahama’s testing centre, just metres from where the catch is unloaded, eight employees conduct tests that last between five and 30 minutes depending on the size of the sample. “Tepco has said that the water can be diluted and safely discharged, but the biggest problem facing us is the spread of harmful rumours,” Hisashi Maeda, a senior Fukushima fisheries official, said as he showed the Guardian around the facility.

Confirming Maeda’s fears, almost a third of consumers outside Fukushima prefecture indicated in a survey that dumping the contaminated water into the sea would make them think twice about buying seafood from the region, compared with 20% who currently avoid the produce.

Tepco’s Advanced Liquid Processing System removes highly radioactive substances, such as strontium and caesium, from the water but the technology does not exist to filer out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that coastal nuclear plants commonly dump along with water into the ocean. Tepco admitted last year, however, that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants beside tritium.

Supporters of the discharge option have pointed out that water containing high levels of tritium, which occurs in minute amounts in nature, would not be released until it has been diluted to meet safety standards.

But Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany who regularly visits Fukushima, said a proportion of radioactive tritium had the potential to deliver a concentrated dose to cell structures in plants, animals or humans. “Dilution does not avoid this problem,” he said.

Burnie believes the solution is to continue storing the water, possibly in areas outside the power plant site – a move that is likely to encounter opposition from nuclear evacuees whose abandoned villages already host millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil.

There is no short-term solution to the water problem at Fukushima Daiichi, as groundwater will continue to enter the site and become contaminated,” Burnie said. “A major step would be for the government to start being honest with the Japanese people and admit that the scale of the challenges at the site mean their entire schedule for decommissioning is a fantasy.”

No other option’

Government officials say they won’t make a decision until they have received a report from an expert panel, but there are strong indications that dumping is preferred over other options such a vaporising, burying or storing the water indefinitely.

Shinjiro Koizumi, the new environment minister, has not indicated if he shares his predecessor’s belief, voiced last week, that there is “no other option” but to discharge the water into the sea.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has recommended that Japan release the treated water, while Toyoshi Fuketa, the chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, said a decision on its future must be made soon.

We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable,” Fuketa said, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Putting off a decision could delay work to locate and remove melted fuel from the damaged reactors – a process that is already expected to take four decades.

Critics say the government is reluctant to openly support the dumping option for fear of creating a fresh controversy over Fukushima during the Rugby World Cup, which starts this week, and the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Nozaki said he and other fishermen throughout Fukushima would continue the fight to keep the water out of the ocean. “Releasing the water would send us back to square one,” he said. “It would mean the past eight years have amounted to nothing.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/fukushima-fisherman-fear-for-future-over-release-of-radioactive-water?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR1y0u_NJy4_EgeM-AVZqMI0i26J-FzhCC-_jUWLWOsMQQijrRJkB1mazfI

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive water at Fukushima should be stored not dumped

fuku-ocean-test-slider-pexels.png

 

Murky politics pollute the Pacific

September 15, 2019
By Linda Pentz Gunter
 
Last week, Japan’s then environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, made news with a pronouncement that wasn’t news. The storage tanks at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site, filled with radioactive water, were reaching capacity. By 2022 there would be no room for more tanks on the present site. Japan would then have to dump the radioactive water stored in the tanks into the Pacific Ocean, he said.
 
Although likely unrelated to those remarks, a day later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dispatched 19 of his cabinet ministers, including Harada. Harada was replaced as environment minister by rising star, Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former primer minister, Junichiro Koizumi. Both father and son are opposed to nuclear energy, and on his first day in office, the younger Koizumi told reporters that he believed Japan should end its use of nuclear energy and close its nuclear power plants.
 
“I would like to study how we scrap them, not how to retain them,” Reuters reported him saying. This is a surprising position from someone inside the fervently pro-nuclear Abe government and it remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to translate his position into policy.
 
Dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s accumulated radioactive water has long been the plan proposed by Tepco, the site owner. Fukushima fishermen, along with some scientists and a number of NGOs from around the world, continue to object.

 

 

Cooling water is needed at the Fukushima site because, when Units 1, 2 and 3 lost power, they also lost the flow of reactor coolant, causing their cores to overheat. The fuel rods then melted, and molten fuel dripped down and burned through the pressure vessels, pooling in the primary containment vessels. Units 1, 3 and 4 also suffered hydrogen explosions. Each day, about 200 metric tons of cooling water is used to keep the three melted cores cool, lest they once more go critical. Eventually the water becomes too radioactive and thermally hot to be re-used, and must be discarded and stored in the tanks.

As Greenpeace International (GPI) explained in remarks and questions submitted during a consultative meeting held by the International Maritime Organization in August 2019:

“Since 2011, in order to cool the molten cores in the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1-3, water is continuously pumped through the damaged Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) and circulated through reactor buildings, turbine buildings, the Process Main Building and the “High Temperature Incinerator Building”  and water treatment systems.

“As a result, the past eight years has seen a relentless increase in the volume of radioactive contaminated water accumulating on site. As of 4 July 2019, the total amount of contaminated water held in 939 storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant (units 1-4) was 1,145,694 m3 (tonnes). The majority of this, 1,041,710 m3, is contaminated processed water. In the year to April 2019, approximately 180 m3/day of water was being circulated into the RPVs of units 1-3.”

In addition to the cooling water, the tanks also house water that has run down from the nearby mountains, at a rate of about 100 tons each day. This water flows onto the site and seeps into the reactor buildings. There, it becomes radioactively contaminated and also must be collected and stored, to prevent it from flowing on down into the sea.

The water tank crisis is just one of multiple and complex problems at the Fukushima Daiichi site, including the eventual need to extract the molten fuel debris from inside the stricken reactors. Decommissioning cannot begin until the water storage tanks are removed.

Tepco has tried to mitigate the radioactive water problem in a number of ways. The infamous $320 million ice wall was an attempt to freeze and block inflow, but has had mixed results and has worked only intermittently. Wells were dug to try to divert the runoff water so it does not pick up contamination. The ice wall has reportedly reduced the flow of groundwater somewhat, but only down from 500 tons a day to about 100 tons.

In anticipation of dumping the tank water into the Pacific Ocean, Tepco has deployed an Advanced Liquid Processing System that the company claims can remove 62 isotopes from the water — all except tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and therefore cannot be filtered out of water. (Tritium is routinely discharged by operating commercial nuclear power plants).

 

tepco-ice-wall.jpgTepco’s “Land-side Impermeable Wall” (Frozen soil wall). (Image: Tepco)

 

But, like the ice wall, the filtration system has also been plagued by malfunctions. According to GPI, Tepco admitted only last year that the system had “failed to reduce radioactivity to levels below the regulatory limit permissible for ocean disposal” in at least 80% of the tanks’ inventory. Indeed, said GPI, “the levels of Strontium-90 are more than 100 times the regulatory standard according to TEPCO, with levels at 20,000 times above regulations in some tanks.”

The plan to dump the water has raised the ire of South Korea, whose fish stocks would likely also be contaminated. And it has introduced the question of whether such a move is a violation of The Conventions of the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as was raised in a joint written statement by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and Greenpeace International, before the UN Human Rights Council currently in session.

So what else could or should Tepco do, if not dump the water offshore and into the ocean? A wide consensus amongst scientific, environmental and human rights groups is that on-site storage for the indefinite future is the only acceptable option, while research must continue into possible ways to extract all of the radioactive content, including tritium.

Meanwhile, a panel of experts says it will examine a number of additional but equally problematic choices, broadly condensed into four options (each with some variations — to  dilute or not to dilute etc):

  • Ground (geosphere) injection (which could bring the isotopes in contact with groundwater);
  • Vapor release (which could infiltrate weather patterns and return as fallout);
  • Releasing it as hydrogen (it would still contain tritium gas); and
  • Solidification followed by underground burial (for which no safe, permanent storage environment has yet been found, least of all in earthquake-prone Japan).

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds, recommends a chemical injection processes (drilling mud) — also used by the oil industry — to stop the flow of water onto the site entirely. But he says Japan has never considered this option. GPI contends that Japan has never seriously researched any of the alternatives, sticking to the ocean dumping plan, the cheapest and fastest “fix.”

All of this mess is of course an inevitable outcome of the choice to use nuclear power in the first place. Even without an accident, no safe, permanent storage solution has been found for the high-level radioactive waste produced through daily operation of commercial nuclear power plants, never mind as the result of an accident.

According to Dr. M.V. Ramana, by far the best solution is to continue to store the radioactive water, even if that means moving some of the storage tanks to other locations to make more room for new ones at the nuclear site. The decision to dump the water, Ramana says, is in line with Abe’s attempts to whitewash the scene before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and claim, as he has publicly in the past, that everything at Fukushima is “under control.” (Baseball and softball games will be played in Fukushima Prefecture and the torch relay will start there, all in an effort to pretend there are no dangerous nuclear after-effects remaining in the area.)

“The reason that they keep saying they need to release it is because they might have to move some of this offsite and that goes against the Abe government’s interest in creating the perception that Fukushima is a closed chapter,” Ramana wrote in an email. “So it is a political decision rather than a technical one.”

As with all things nuclear, there are diverging views on the likely impact to the marine environment and to human health, from dumping Fukushima’s radioactive water into the ocean. These run the gamut from “a little tritium won’t hurt you” to “the Pacific Ocean is dead thanks to Fukushima” — both of which are wildly untrue. (Tritium can bind organically inside the body, irradiating that person or animal from within. The many problems in the Pacific began long before Fukushima and are likely caused by numerous compounding factors, including warming and pollution, with Fukushima adding to the existing woes.)

 

animal-aquatic-close-up-1298683.jpgThe effect on deep sea creatures of radioactive ocean dumping could be long-lasting.

 

What is fact, however, is that scientists have found not only the presence of isotopes such as cesium in fish they tested, but also in ocean floor sediment. This latter has the potential to serve as a more long-term source of contamination up the food chain.

But it is also important to remember that if this radioactive water is dumped, it is not an isolated event. Radioactive contamination in our oceans is already widespread, a result of years of atmospheric atomic tests. As was reported earlier this year, scientists studying deep-sea amphipods, retrieved from some of the deepest trenches in the ocean — including the Mariana Trench which reaches 36,000 feet below sea-level and is deeper than Mount Everest is high — detected elevated levels of carbon-14 in these creatures.

“The levels closely matched abundances found near the surface of the ocean, where the amount of carbon-14 is higher than usual thanks to nuclear bomb tests conducted more than half a century ago,” reported Smithsonian Magazine.

Weidong Sun, co-author of the resulting study, told Smithsonian Magazine that “Biologically, [ocean] trenches are taken to be the most pristine habitats on Earth”.

How chilling, then, to realize that our radioactive irresponsibility has reached the lowest depths, affecting creatures far removed from our rash behaviors.

Consequently, the decision by the Japanese government to release yet more radioactive contamination into our oceans must be viewed not as a one-off act of desperation, but as a contribution to cumulative contamination. This, added to the twin tragedies of climate crisis-induced ocean warming and plastics and chemicals pollution, renders it one more crime committed on the oceans, ourselves and all living things. And it reinforces the imperative to neither continue nor increase our reckless use of nuclear power as an electricity source.

For an in-depth look at this issue, read the January 2019 Greenpeace Germany briefing, TEPCO Water Crisis (in English.)

Murky politics pollute the Pacific

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September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Plan to Release Radioactive Fukushima Wastewater Into Pacific Ocean Panned by Critics

“Another reason to not build nuclear power plants.”

 

greenpeace_2.jpgGreenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailing past the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the plant’s accident.

 

September 10, 2019
The far-reaching dangers of nuclear power were on full display Tuesday as Japan’s environmental minister recommended releasing more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the Pacific Ocean nearly a decade after a tsunami caused a meltdown at the coastal facility.
“There are no other options” other than dumping the water into the ocean and diluting it, Yoshiaki Harada said at a news conference in Tokyo.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga disputed Harada’s claim, saying the government has not settled on a method of disposing of the wastewater. Other options include vaporizing the water and storing it on land.
But critics on social media said the suggestion of pouring contaminated water into the Pacific is more than enough evidence that the risks associated with nuclear power are too great to continue running plants like Fukushima.
The wastewater has been stored in tanks at Fukushima since the 2011 tsunami, when a meltdown at the plant forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
For years since the disaster, the plant has pumped tens of thousands of tons of water to help cool its damaged reactor cores and keep them from melting. After the water is used and contaminated with radionuclides and radioactive isotopes, it is stored in the tanks, but the plant expects to run out of room in 2022. 
The Atomic Energy Society of Japan said recently that it could take 17 years for water to meet safety standards after it is diluted.
Greenpeace, which has long called on the Japanese government to invest in technology to remove radioactivity from the water, said the environmental minister’s proposal is unacceptable.
“The government must commit to the only environmentally acceptable option for managing this water crisis which is long-term storage and processing to remove radioactivity, including tritium,” Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist the group’s German office, told France 24.
The government of neighboring South Korea expressed grave concerns over the potential plan to dump the water into the Pacific, saying it planned to work closely with Japan to come up with an alternative.
“The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation,” the government said.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment