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Is Fukushima Daiichi’s Continuous Stream of Contaminated Radioactive Water in the Kuroshio Current Causing Strange Disjuncture Between Warming Water and Land Temperatures in Alaska and Bering Sea

I came across this article from Majia Nadesan on Majia’s Blog, which I find interesting and which I would like to share with you here.
Majia Nadesan is the author of “Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk”, an excellent book about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. https://www.palgrave.com/br/book/9781137343116
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Strange Disjuncture Between Warming Water and Land Temperatures in Alaska and Bering Sea
Friday, December 28, 2018
I couldn’t help but think of the effect of Fukushima Daiichi’s continuous stream of contaminated radioactive water in the Kuroshio Current when I read this article about a disjuncture between warming seas and cooler land temperatures in the Arctic region:
 
Robert Lee Hotz (2018, December 22-23 Weekend edition). Warming seas send waves through U.S. fishing. The Wall Street Journal, A1, A10.
Fishermen and marine scientists who study Alaska fisheries are used to natural variations in ocean circulation patterns. But starting in 2000, warm and cool spells lasted longer, federal weather records show. Temperatures rose to records and plnuged to bitter lows.
In 2016, St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea registered its warmest year on record, 4.9 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Last year, spring and summer temperatures across the Arctic generally were cooler, but the annual average surface temperature was the second highest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Arctic Report and the Alaska Climate Research Center at the University of Alaska. 
“That was highly unusual and was not something we had ever seen in the Bering Sea before,” says Janet Duffy-Anderson who helps monitor the commercial fishery for the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle…. 
This year, the winter ice that normally coves the northern Bering Sea never formed…
 
 
I recall describing my concerns about the Kuroshio current in 2015 (here) in response to this article in the New York Times:
The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron, The New York Times, By JOHN SCHWARTZ NOV. 2, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/science/global-warming-pacific-ocean-el-nino-blob.html?emc=edit_th_20151103&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=32962000 ….
There has been considerable debate whether radioactive elements in sea water from Fukushima are sufficient in concentration to raise the sea temperature, particularly in comparison to previous nuclear assaults from atmospheric testing and dumping.
 
I don’t know the answer to this question but the ongoing flood of contaminated water and the worsening environmental conditions and animal mortality events since 3-11 have made me wonder….
 
 
 
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
 
Here is an excerpt from my book Crisis Communication, Liberal Democracy and Ecological Sustainability published in 2016 by Lexington Press on Fukushima’s radioactive water problem: 
 
 
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Problem 
Fukushima’s radioactive water problem is unprecedented. TEPCO requires an endless stream of workers to manage contaminated water, which presents significant long-term challenges in addition to those posed by removing melted fuel from damaged reactors and spent fuel pools: 
 
The situation, however, remains very complex, with the increasing amount of contaminated water posing a short-term challenge that must be resolved in a sustainable manner. The need to remove highly radioactive spent fuel, including damaged fuel and fuel debris, from the reactors that suffered meltdowns poses a huge long-term challenge.[i] 
 
Contaminated water production at the Daiichi site poses long-term risks to the Pacific eco-system. 
 
Damage by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and explosions problematized delivery of cooling water to melted fuel in reactors and spent fuel pools.
 
The plant manager resorted to using ocean water to cool melted fuel, a course of action that TEPCO officials had decided against, but was deployed as a desperate measure to halt uncontained nuclear fission in reactors and spent fuel pools.
 
Water used to cool fuel could not be recaptured, resulting in highly radioactive water contaminating the aquifer and Pacific Ocean.
 
Fukushima’s plant manager, Masao Yoshida, estimated that the level of radioactivity in the water flowing directly into the sea during the early days of the disaster exceeded 1,000 millisieverts.[ii]
 
Kyodo news reported on March 26, 2011 that “Levels of radioactive materials soaring in sea near nuke plant” citing data provided by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that found radioactive Iodine-131 in seawater sampled 300 meters south of plant, at a concentration 1,250.8 times the legal limit.[iii]
 
Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts measured levels of radioactive cesium in the ocean off of Fukushima at 100,000 Becquerels per cubic meter in early April of 2011.[iv] Buesseler reported in a 2013 presentation at MIT that prior to Fukushima, the Pacific Ocean measured ½ to 2 Becquerels per liter of cesium.[v] 
 
The French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) declared Fukushima as the world’s worst nuclear contamination event ever for the ocean, reporting that from 21 March to 27 July, 27.1 petaBecquerels of Cesium-137 contaminated the ocean.[vi] Remember that one petaBecquerel is equivalent to a million billion Becquerels, or 10^15.[vii]
 
Cesium, among other radionuclides, is water-soluble and was likely transported across the Pacific Ocean by the Kuroshio Current,[viii] a fast moving current that every second carries approximately 50 million tons of sea water past Japan’s southeast coast.[ix] Relatively few figures are available for radioisotope contamination other than cesium.
 
A study of Iodine-129 levels in samples collected in June 2011 from the Western Pacific Ocean measured almost three orders of magnitude higher than pre-Fukushima background levels.[x]
 
A separate study published in Environmental Science Technology in 2012 reported that radiostrontium levels in surface seawater persisted through 2011 and were in some areas comparable, to or even higher, than those measured for Cesium-137 in December of 2011.[xi] 
 
TEPCO has tried a variety of approaches to containing the contaminated water. During the summer of 2011, TEPCO installed concrete panels designed to seal water intakes of units 1 through 4 in order to prevent contaminated water from reaching the ocean.
 
In October 2011, TEPCO installed a steel water shield wall between the units and the ocean. TEPCO subsequently created a groundwater bypass system to reroute fresh water from flowing into the site and restored and improved its drainage system.
 
TEPCO has also worked on creating an ice wall that would prevent highly contaminated water in the basement of the wrecked reactors from flowing into the sea.[xii] All of these efforts have failed to prevent ongoing contamination of the Pacific Ocean. 
 
In 2013, Prime Minister Abe promised the government would take “firm measures” to address water contamination at Fukushima Daiichi.[xiii] Yet, two years later in 2015, TEPCO still injects hundreds of tons of water into demolished reactor buildings 1-4 to cool uncontained melted fuel.[xiv]
 
TEPCO simultaneously pumps hundreds of tons of contaminated water out from the ruined reactor buildings, but its efforts to keep up with water saturation have been stymied by the sheer volume of ground water inundating the site, largely from an underground river running at about 1,000 tons daily, with TEPCO announcing that approximately 400 tons of that penetrates reactor buildings 1 – 4. [xv]
 
Water saturation from the underground river and TEPCO’s injections contribute to ground liquefaction, which poses direct risks to the reactor buildings and common spent fuel pool. Contaminated ground water is also flowing into the ocean.[xvi] 
 
In February of 2015, TEPCO admitted that radioactive water from unit 2 had been flowing unfiltered into the ocean since May 2014.[xvii] Local fisherman who had given consent for TEPCO to dump uncontaminated ground water were outraged, but Yuji Moriyama, a TEPCO spokesman stated “the utility did not disclose the information because there is no evidence of environmental impact.”
 
The water contained 29,400 Becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter and an additional 52,000 Becquerels of beta-emitting radionuclides, such as Strontium-90. 
 
Strontium levels in sea and ground water may actually rise over time, if the conditions modeled in two German risk studies apply to Fukushima. 
 
The “German Risk Study, Phase B” found that a core meltdown accident could result in complete failures of all structural containment, causing melted fuel to exit the reactor foundation within five days and that ground water leaching would occur even in the absence of a full melt-through situation.[xviii]
 
A second German risk analysis, “Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure after Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,” found that even in the event of an intact building foundation, passing groundwater would be in direct contact with fuel, causing leaching of fission products. [xix]
 
The study predicted concentrations of Strontium-90 in river water would spike relatively suddenly, but maintain extraordinarily high levels of contamination for years, with “the highest radionuclide concentration of approx. 1010 Bq/m3 is reached by Sr-90 after some 5000 days.”
 
The study’s experimental conditions are roughly similar to Daiichi’s site conditions, including groundwater emptying into an adjacent river, whereas Daiichi is physically situated above an underground river emptying into the sea. 
 
Ground water contamination has also been rising steadily at the Daiichi site, especially since the summer of 2013.[xx] TEPCO reported that samples from the well between the ocean and unit 1 measuring a record 5 million Becquerels per liter of radioactive Strontium-90 alone in July 2013.[xxi]
 
In January 27, 2015, TEPCO measured 31,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 in boring well nearest unit 2, a level which was more than 10 percent more than reported in December of 2014.[xxii] By February of 2015, TEPCO was reporting even higher levels of Strontium-90 in the same location, with the highest sample measured at 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90.[xxiii]
 
The spiking strontium levels are consistent with the predictions of the German melt-through scenario. 
 
TEPCO has also detected increased radionuclide contamination in the Fukushima port. On June 19, 2015 TEPCO’s reported that it had detected Strontium-90 measuring 1,000,000 Bq/m3 in two locations in Fukushima Daiichi’s port located near the water intake for reactors 3 and 4, exceeding the previous reported high of 700,000 Bq/m3.[xxiv]
 
The highest Strontium level measured in Fukushima’s port jumped still more in data reported in July 17, 2015 to 1,500,000 Bq/m3.[xxv] 
 
TEPCO is also facing severe problems filtering and storing the contaminated water it does pump out from the ground and ruined buildings. 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. [xxvi]
 
There was considerable resistance from local fisherman because TEPCO lacked the capacity to remove Strontium-90 from captured water and even the filtered water was quite contaminated. At that time in 2013, filtered water measured 710 million Becquerels per liter while unfiltered water was reported as twice as radioactive, from tritium and strontium. TEPCO was not able to eliminate Strontium until the fall of 2014.[xxvii]
 
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.[xxviii]
 
TEPCO has attempted to store as much water as possible but press releases and news coverage addressing water storage at the plant suggest that official announcements of dumped water are the tip of a larger deluge….
 
 
 
[i] IAEA Team Completed Third Review of Japan’s Plans to Decommission Fukushima Daiichi,” IAEA (February 17, 2015), https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-team-completed-third-review-japans-plans-decommission-fukushima. 
 
[ii] T. Sugimoto and H. Kimura (1 December 2012) ‘TEPCO Failed to Respond to Dire Warning of Radioactive Water Leaks at Fukushima’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201212010037, date accessed 2 December 2012. 
 
[iii] “Levels of radioactive materials soaring in sea near nuke plant” Kyodo (March 26, 2011). http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/81163.html 
 
[iv] Cited in H. Tabuchi (25 June 2012) ‘Fears Accompany Fishermen in Japanese Disaster Region’, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/world/asia/fears-accompany-fishermen-in-japanese-disaster-region.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120626, date accessed 26 June 2012. 
 
[v] Buesseler, K. (2013, October 24). Japan’s continuing nuclear nightmare: Experts discuss Fukushima and its aftereffects. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies. Available http://techtv.mit.edu/collections/mit-cis/videos/26614-japan-s-continuing-nuclear-nightmare. 
 
[vi] ‘Fukushima Nuclear Pollution in Sea was World’s Worst: French Institute’ (28 October 2011), Japan Today, http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-nuclear-pollution-in-sea-was-worlds-worst-french-institute, date accessed 29 October 2011. 
 
[vii] ‘Fukushima Disaster Produces World’s Worst Nuclear Sea Pollution’, (28 October 2011), The Maritime Executive, http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/fukushima-disaster-produces-world-s-worst-nuclear-sea-pollution, date accessed 29 October 2011. 
 
[viii] Pascal Bailly Du Bois, Pierre Garreau, Philippe Laguionie, Irene Korsakissok (2014) Comparison between modelling and measurement of marine dispersion, environmental half-time and 137Cs inventories after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Ocean Dynamics, 64(3), 361. 
 
[ix] R. A. Barkley, The Kuroshio Current,” Science Journal (March 1970), 54-60, http://swfsc.noaa.gov/publications/CR/1973/7302.PDF. 
 
[x] S. Tumey, T. Guilderson, T. Brown, T. Broek, K. Buesseler, “Input of Iodine-129 into the western pacific ocean resulting from the Fukushima Nuclear Event,” Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 296 (2013): 957–962. 10.1007/s10967-012-2217-9 
 
[xi] P. Povinec, K. Hirose, and M. Aoyama (18 September 2012) ‘Radiostrontium in the Western North Pacific: Characteristics, Behavior, and the Fukushima Impact’, Environmental Science & Technology, 46.18, 10356–10363. 
 
[xii] Nuclear Energy Institute. What is the status of radioactive water treatment at the site? (no date) http://www.nei.org/Issues-Policy/Safety-Security/Fukushima-Recovery/Radioactive-Water. 
 
[xiii] Mari Yamaguchi AP “Japanese government to help halt nuke leak,” The Spokesman (August 8, 2013). Retrieved 4 May 2014: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/aug/08/japanese-government-to-help-halt-nuke-leak/. 
 
[xiv] R. Yoshida (21 May 2013) ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head above Tainted Water’, Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/21/reference/fukushima-no-1-cant-keep-its-head-above-tainted-water/#.UZpke8oQNX9, date accessed 21 May 2013. 
 
[xv] Nagata, K. (2013, August 20). TEPCO yet to track groundwater paths. Liquefaction threat adds to Fukushima ills. The Japan Times. Available http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/20/national/tepco-yet-to-track-groundwater-paths/#.U2XHpF7K3yi 
 
[xvi] Nagata, K. (2014, March 6). Solving Fukushima water problem a long, hard slog. The Japan Times. Available http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/06/national/solving-fukushima-water-problem-a-long-hard-slog/#.U2XIE17K3yh 
 
[xvii] Fisheries ‘shocked’ at silence over water leak at wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant,” Japan times (February 25, 2015) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/25/national/tepco-admits-failed-disclose-cesium-tainted-water-leaks-since-april/#.VPOfiOHWyDl 
 
[xviii] Gesellschaft fur Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) Deutsche Risikikostudie Kernkraftwerke, Phase B Report GRS-89 cited in Bayer, A., Al-Omari, I., & Tromm, W. (1989). Dispersion of radionuclides and radiation exposure after leaching by groundwater of a solidified core-concrete (No. KFK-4512). Available http://www.irpa.net/irpa8/cdrom/VOL.1/M1_97.PDF. 
 
[xix] Bayer, A., Al-Omari, I., & Tromm, W. (1989). Dispersion of radionuclides and radiation exposure after leaching by groundwater of a solidified core-concrete (No. KFK-4512). Available http://www.irpa.net/irpa8/cdrom/VOL.1/M1_97.PDF 
 
[xx] “TEPCO Announced Record Cesium Level Found in Groundwater Beneath Fukushima Levee” The Asahi Shimbun (February 14, 2014): http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402140041). The article said that cesium found in groundwater under a coastal levee near unit 1 spiked from 76,000 Becquerels per liter on February 12, 2014 to 130,000 Becquerels per liter on February 13, reaching the highest level of cesium ever detected at that location. 
 
[xxi] Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July. (2014, February 7). The Japan Times. Available http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/07/national/record-strontium-90-level-in-fukushima-groundwater-sample-last-july/#.U2XIw17K3yh. 
 
[xxii] Iori Mochizuki, “31,000,000 Bqm3 Strontium 90 Measured Nearest Boring Well Reactor 2,” Fukushima Diary (January 2015) http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/01/31000000-bqm3-strontium-90-measured-nearest-boring-well-reactor-2). TEPCO document available: http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15012701-j.pdf 
 
[xxiii] Iori Mochizuki (Fukushima Diary 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 measured from groundwater of Reactor 2 seaside). 
 
[xxiv] Lori Mochizuki, “1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Sr-90 detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / Highest in recorded history,” Fukushima Diary (June 20, 2015) http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/06/1000000-bqm3-of-sr-90-detected-in-seawater-of-fukushima-plant-port-highest-in-recorded-history/ and TEPCO document http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15061901-j.pdf. 
 
[xxv] Iori Mochizuki, “Highest Strontium-90 density detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / 1,500,000 Bq/m3,” Fukushima Dairy (July 18, 2015). http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/07/highest-strontium-90-density-detected-in-seawater-of-fukushima-plant-port-1500000-bqm3/ TEPCO document available here: http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15071701-j.pdf 
 
[xxvi] 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. 
 
[xxvii] Yoshida ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head Above Tainted Water’. 
 
[xxviii] NRA signs off on TEPCO plan to release decontaminated groundwater into sea January 22, 2015 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501220054). 
 
Source: Majia’s Blog
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January 7, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korean activists demand Japan not dump Fukushima’s radioactive water into the sea

October 8, 2018
SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) — South Korean environmental groups on Monday urged Japan to reverse its recent decision to release radioactive water that has accumulated in the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea after treatment.
Korea Radioactive Watch, the Korean Federation For Environmental Movement and other civic groups held a joint news conference in Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul, denouncing the decision by the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to discharge Fukushima’s contaminated water into the ocean as “unacceptable.”
 
   “A release of Fukushima’s radioactive, contaminated water will threaten the safety of the waters of South Korea and other neighboring nations that share the Pacific Ocean, as well as the waters in the vicinity of Fukushima,” the activist groups said.
 
AEN20181008006000315_01_i.jpg
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.
 
In March 2011, a major earthquake and a subsequent tsunami triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The South Korean groups went on to argue that cost reduction appears to be the main reason for Japan’s push to discharge Fukushima’s radioactive water into the sea without checking its contamination condition.
“The Japanese government should disclose all information related to Fukushima’s radioactive water and listen to the opinions of its neighboring countries about how to dispose of the contaminated water. The South Korean government should sternly protest to Japan and take aggressive countermeasures,” the groups said.
They also insisted that water contaminated by high concentrations of radioactive materials collected around the Fukushima plant buildings after the 2011 accident and that the amount is estimated to reach about 940,000 tons.

October 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen fight release of tainted water as tritium standoff continues

fukushimawatertanks.jpg

 

On Feb. 25, against a clear sky, fishing boats bearing colorful banners used to signal a rich haul returned to their home port of Ukedo in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. Cheers erupted as the boats, which had taken refuge in Minamisoma in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear crisis, made their way home for the first time in six years.

The Soma-Futaba fishing cooperative will soon resume fishing for konago (young lancefish), after the heads of fishing co-ops in the prefecture approved the start of experimental fishing operations 10 to 20 km from the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

Despite the steady recovery moves, however, local fishermen are not optimistic because their industry still faces “concern” that radioactive fish could tarnish their reputation.

Fukushima No. 1 currently has 950,000 tons of radioactive water in storage that has been desalinated and filtered to remove some of the radioactive elements, but the volume is increasing at a pace of 150,000 tons a year.

Of the 950,000 tons, 750,000 were further treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System, to remove most of the remaining isotopes. But even ALPS cannot remove tritium, and this has the fishing industry concerned that water tainted with tritium could ultimately be released into the ocean.

The debate over what to do about the tainted water has turned into a standoff. The central government set up a committee in September to discuss disposal and studied five options, including ocean release, underground burial and air release. But the committee could not agree on any of them because all had the potential to damage the reputation of Fukushima’s seafood.

Hiroshige Seko, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has jurisdiction over the issue but appears reluctant to bring the debate to a rapid conclusion.

We have not decided on the schedule, including when to conclude (the debate),” he said in a recent interview with the Fukushima Minpo.

Tritium is a common byproduct of normal nuclear power plant operations. Its release into the ocean is permitted worldwide as long as the concentration doesn’t exceed certain levels. In Japan, the legal threshold for tritium release is 60,000 becquerels per 1 liter.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has said “there is no solution than ocean release” for the tritium generated at Fukushima No. 1, noting that if the concentration is within legal limits, the government should go ahead with the release. Officials at related international institutions have expressed similar views.

But the prefectural association of fishing cooperatives remains opposed, worried that an ocean release could further damage the image of Fukushima’s fish and seafood.

A fisherman from Onahama in the city of Iwaki said, “The move could lead to a loss of trust in the prefecture’s seafood, which the fishermen have worked hard to build.”

On the other hand, if the disposal debate goes unresolved, the amount of tainted water at Fukushima No. 1 will continue to rise and delay the decommissioning of the plant.

Tepco has said it “will decide (on the fate of the water) in a responsible manner by watching the government debate and weighing the opinions of local residents.”

The fishery industry is watching how the central government balances the two jobs of revitalizing the industry and handling tritium-tainted water — and how it can thoroughly explain the decision in ways people both in Japan and abroad can understand, without leaving it entirely up to Tepco.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/fukushima-fishermen-fight-release-tainted-water-tritium-standoff-continues/#.WM7nfKKmnIU

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March 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Untreated Bypass Groundwater Dumped into the sea

Oct 2016 Drainage water dumped.jpg

Up to October 14, 2016, Tepco has discarded 137 times Fukushima Daiichi untreated groundwater from the bypass into the sea, all totalling now 222,816 tons (58,861,760 gallons).

That not including the 300+ tons a day of untreated groundwater flowing through the plant and into the ocean 24/7 for 5.6 years now.
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/info/baypassold-j.html

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

How Can Japan Settle The Issue Of Fukushima Daiichi Tritium? Drink It.

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Water tanks crowding the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant site

Here’s the problem in a nutshell—or rather a thimbleful—facing the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

There are over 1,100 large steel tanks brimming with filtered water—except for a low contaminant called tritium—clogging both the plant and an expanding area outside the site.

The water is a mix of tons of groundwater flowing into the plant’s basements and tons of contaminated water that have become radiated after draining down there through the three damaged reactors the water was injected into to keep the melted uranium cores cool. This lethal liquid mix is pumped out the basements and decontaminated before it overflows and seeps into the sea; some of it is recycled back as coolant into the reactors while the rest is pumped into the storage tanks.

This process continues hour after hour, day after day, year after year: a cunningly worthy punishment of the gods for the latter-day Sisyphus, TEPCO. Consequently, every week or two a new tank-full of treated water is added to the forest of steel now covering the area like giant alien mushrooms. The total amount of stored water exceeds 800,000 cubic tons and is inexorably heading for one million tons and more without an end in site.

The cost is enormous, and picking up the tab is the Japanese taxpayer—not TEPCO, which is undergoing a ten-year reconstruction since a government bail out saved it from bankruptcy.

So the million-ton-plus dilemma for the government has boiled down to three options: keep on with the endless and expensive tank building and filling; find a way to remove the tritium from the water; or have TEPCO discharge (dump) the water into the ocean.

The latter option is by far the easiest and least expensive method, except that the water is tritiated: that is the water has become radioactive.

Without context, that’s a scary word, until you remember that sunbathing and eating bananas are pleasant radioactive pastimes. The point being that the energy tritium gives off is so low as to be unmeasurable with a dosimeter. And the particles (not rays) tritium expels can be stopped by plastic wrap—as Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority, told the press recently.

That’s a fact, but it’s not the point, say environmentalist foes of the dumping method. Ingesting tritium is a concern for health they argue. And they have experts to back up such concerns, though they are mostly theoretical. Meanwhile, there are experts on the other side of the debate pooh-poohing such worries and asking to see some solid proof to back up the theory.

Conclusion: Those supportive of nuclear power tend to minimize the health risks of tritium, while those opposing the use of nuclear power tend to exaggerate its risks.

What is not debatable is the negative psychological impact releasing the water into the sea will have on Japan’s nervous neighbors, the suffering people of the northeast, the region’s fishing industry and the Japanese electorate.

Given such concerns and uncertainties, organizations like Greenpeace urge the government to err on the side of caution. The best option, says Greenpeace, is to continue storing the water while exploring all technical options for tritium separation.

On the face of it, that seems reasonable. But then experts opposing this stance, like Lake Barrett, a nuclear industry consultant advising TEPCO, point out that while it may be possible to create a method of separating the tritium, it hasn’t been found yet, despite much effort; and it would likely cost a couple of billion dollars to develop and perfect in any case. It’s no surprise that TEPCO and the government have reached the same conclusion.

“All that money could be better spent on schools, hospitals,” Barrett told me. “And you can’t go on building tanks forever.”

Besides, he adds, “The very low levels of tritium in the stored water are not a meaningful health risk. After verification that the radioactivity levels are within conservative Japanese health risks, I would not hesitate to drink it, bathe in it, or eat fish or shellfish harvested from it.”

Now there’s an idea. If the government is to discharge the tritiated water into the ocean without turning a large portion of the electorate against it, it needs to persuade a majority of citizens that it is safe within reason to do so. This will require a number of carefully thought out steps.

The government will have to clearly explain the pros and cons of its action and the reason for its decision; it must establish a mechanism to compensate the fisherman for the shortfall they will undergo following the release; an international panel of independent, knowledgeable people, including environmentalists of the non-hysterical variety, is required to verify the tritiated water does indeed fall well below internationally accepted standards for release; and the panel members must be granted access to monitor the process at any time they wish.

Then for the coup de grâce, Prime Minister Abe, his cabinet members along with TEPCO executives should visit Fukushima Daiichi, and while standing in front of one the giant tanks each drink a glass of the tritiated water. This won’t sway everyone, of course, but it would give the government the minimum moral authority required to make such a contentious decision.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jboyd/2016/05/01/how-can-japan-can-settle-the-fukushima-daiichi-tritium-issue-drink-it/#250de9662739

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi drainage system enters operation

The flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings and port area of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan should be significantly reduced with the start of use of a new system to pump, treat, test and discharge the water.

Fukushima Daiichi subdrain system -sept 3 2015

The subdrain system is a group of 41 wells installed in the vicinity of the reactor and turbine buildings. Pumped up by the subdrain, the amount of groundwater flowing into the buildings is expected to be significantly reduced. The groundwater flowing into the port area is held back by the coastal impermeable wall and pumped up by another group of wells, the groundwater drain system, installed in the bank protection area.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) announced the first pumping up of groundwater by 20 of the wells in the subdrain system had begun at 10.00am today.

The collected groundwater will be temporarily stored to check its quality and then discharged into the port area, with thorough treatment processes.

Tepco said it expects the water pumped up by the subdrain and groundwater drain to be slightly more contaminated than water from the existing groundwater bypass (which intercepts water on the land side of the reactor buildings). However, it said the water will be treated to meet the more stringent quality standards for the subdrain and groundwater drain than for the groundwater bypass. The company noted the water would also be monitored more frequently to verify its quality for discharge.

Once the subdrain and groundwater drain systems are found to be operating stably, the opening that was left in the seaside impermeable wall will be closed to prevent groundwater flowing into the port area, Tepco said. The subdrain and groundwater drain will then work to keep groundwater from accumulating behind the impermeable wall.

Tepco estimates the subdrain will reduce the flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings to 150 cubic meters per day from the current 300 cubic meters. In the longer term, the company said the pumping systems and seaside wall are expected to be joined with the land side impermeable wall (frozen soil wall) currently under construction, “creating a wall around the reactor buildings and further reducing the intrusion of groundwater”.

Tepco sought the approval of prefectural and national fishermen’s associations for use of the system.

Tepco’s chief decommissioning officer Naohiro Masuda said, “The activation of the subdrain system is a major milestone in redirecting fresh water from contaminated area. It also enables the seaside impermeable wall to be closed to further prevent any leakage of contaminated water.”

Source: World Nuclear News

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Fukushima-Daiichi-drainage-system-enters-operation-0309155.html

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO pumps up groundwater for release into sea

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has begun pumping up groundwater from around reactor buildings with the aim of releasing it into the sea.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, hopes the move will slow the accumulation of radioactive wastewater in the buildings, which is building up at a rate of 300 tons a day due to the inflow of groundwater.

The utility will target groundwater from wells dug around the No.1 through No.4 reactor buildings. It plans to filter out much of the radioactive material before releasing the water into the ocean.

Workers on Thursday began pumping up groundwater from 20 wells. They plan to remove 200 tons through the afternoon and store it in special tanks.

TEPCO has yet to reach an agreement with local authorities and fishermen about when to release the decontaminated water, but it will likely be later this month.

The utility claims the drainage will cut the amount of wastewater in the reactor buildings by about half.

But local authorities and fishermen worry about what could happen to the environment if something goes wrong.
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150903_17.html

September 4, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment