Shortly after the March 2011 tsunami, the
Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan turned into an
MCA (“maximum credible accident”), an event that
was largely due to the fact that the emergency
electricity generators (which were flooded) had
been erected in the wrong place. At the time many
rumors made the rounds indicating that Japan’s
government as well as plant operator TEPCO were
deliberately downplaying the severity of the
situation. It seems now that they have indeed not
been as forthright about the dangers than they
should have been. The problem with nuclear
material is that it just keeps radiating and
depending on what material exactly is involved, its
so-called half-life (the point in time when half of
its radiation is spent) can be quite long.
Recently it has turned out that the Fukushima
accident is in fact still ongoing. Initially the plant
was flooded with water in order to cool the
reactors down and thereby slow down the chain
reaction process so as to avert an even bigger
disaster. Unfortunately that meant that the water
used for the purpose became radio-active as well.
Now the contaminated water is becoming a huge
According to the WSJ:
“Japan’s nuclear watchdog will play a more direct
role in the cleanup at the stricken Fukushima
... and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 cut off the ability to keep the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant cool. Three of ... Testing of plant, animal and water sources showed the presence of radioactive iodine and caesium. The dangerous products of the nuclear meltdown were ... as it flows through the natural life cycle that involves water, soil, and animal life. For this reasons the immediate ban ...
Daiichi nuclear-power plant after doubts were
raised about the ability of the plant’s operator to
cope with continuing problems. The Nuclear
Regulation Authority, created in September to give
teeth to the country’s nuclear oversight, said
Monday it would for the first time be involved in
measuring radiation levels at the site of the world’s
second-worst nuclear-plant disaster. This comes
after a number of revelations in recent weeks of
sudden leaps in radiation levels, as well as signs
that some contaminated water may be reaching
the ocean waters that border the plant.
NRA officials said highly contaminated water may
be leaking into the soil from a number of trenches,
allowing the water to seep into the site’s
groundwater and eventually into the ocean. The
site has numerous trenches that hold electrical
cables and pipes.
In the latest revelation, Tepco said Saturday it
found extremely high concentrations of radiation
in water samples from a trench near the No. 2
reactor. It said that the sample had 750 million
becquerels of cesium-134 and 1.6 billion
becquerels of cesium-137 per liter.
Both radioactive substances are considered
harmful to health. An NRA official said Monday
that the very high levels were likely to be even
higher than those within the reactor units
The levels are millions of times higher than the
government’s limit of 60 becquerels per liter of
water for cesium-134, and 90 becquerels for
cesium-137. The elevated concentrations would
pose a serious threat if large amounts of water
were to leak from the trenches.
It was by far the highest concentration of
radioactivity detected since soon after Japan’s
March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, after which
the cores of three reactors melted down,
producing dangerous levels of radioactivity.
While the trenches have long been known to hold
water with dangerously high levels of
contamination, Tepco said last week that
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radioactivity was also rising in groundwater at the
site. It said test wells it dug to monitor radiation
showed contamination at about 9,000 to 18,000
becquerels a liter. It added that some of this water
was believed to be leaking into the ocean, an
admission that came only after the nuclear
authority said the water was “strongly suspected”
to be seeping into the ground of the plant site and
then into the ocean.
The NRA’s action comes just five days after the
authority’s chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, questioned
Tepco’s ability to manage the decommissioning of
the plant. “It is simply too big for one company to
handle,” Mr. Tanaka said Wednesday, and
suggested the government’s intervention. Mr.
Tanaka had previously questioned the accuracy of
Tepco’s data on contamination at the site and said
at the time that having independent testing would
be one possibility.
In the early days of frantic efforts to bring the
dangerously overheating reactors under control,
Tepco flooded the cores of the three active units
with large amounts of water to prevent a larger-
scale nuclear disaster. At the time, it placed
shields at various spots in the trenches to prevent
the water from flowing into the sea.”