via Washington’s Blog / April 6, 2013 /

Is Fukushima Leaking … Or Are the the Reactors Wholly Uncontained?

You may have heard that TEPCO – the operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plants – announced a large leak of radioactive water. You may have heard that the cooling system in the spent fuel pools at Fukushima has failed for a second time in a month.

This is newsworthy stuff … but completely misses the big picture. Japanese experts say that Fukushima is currently releasing up to 93 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium into the ocean each day. How much radiation is this?

A quick calculation shows that it is about ten thousand times less than the amounts released by Chernobyl during the actual fire at the Russian nuclear plant.   But the Chernobyl fire only last 10 days … and the Fukushima release has been ongoing for more than 2 years so far.

Indeed, Fukushima has already spewed much more radioactive cesium and iodine than Chernobyl. The amount of radioactive cesium released by Fukushima was some 20-30 times higher than initially admitted.

Fukushima also pumped out huge amounts of radioactive iodine 129 – which has a half-life of 15.7 million years. Fukushima has also dumped up to 900 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium-90 – which is a powerful internal emitter which mimics calcium and collects in our bones – into the ocean. And the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl … and so could keep leaking for decades, centuries or millenia.

TEPCO graphics of the Fukushima plants even appear to show water directly flowing from the plant to the ocean.  See this and this.

The bottom line is that the reactors have lost containment.  There are not “some leaks” at Fukushima.  “Leaks” imply that the reactor cores are safely in their containment buildings, and there is a small hole or two which need to be plugged.   But scientists don’t even know where the cores of the reactors are. That’s not leaking. That’s even worse than a total meltdown.

So what are the consequences for people living outside of Fukushima itself?

h/t APperspective.net

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By Corbett| 34 Comments | Featured, News

34 comments

  1. Hello,
    I was wondering: how could the amount of radioactive elements released be more important in Fukushima than in Chernobyl ?
    If Xc is the amount of radioactive elements released, per day, in Chernobyl, and Xf the amount of radioactive elements released, per day, in Fukushima.
    Xf= 1/(10 000) * Xc.
    If Tc is the total amount of radioactive elements released, in Chernobyl and Tf the total amount of radioactive elements released, in Fukushima.
    Tc= 10*Xc :The emissions lasted for 10 days. For the moment, Tf= 365*2* Xf = 730*Xf (we are approximately 2 years after the accident).
    Hence, Tf= 730 * 1/(10 000) * Xc. But Tc= 10* Xc, therefore, Tf= 73 * 1/(10 000) * 10 * Xc.
    Tf= 73 * 1/(10 000) * Tc.
    The emissions of radioactive elements in Fukushima are, for the moment, 0.0073 times the amount of radioactive elements emitted in Chernobyl. Am I correct ?
    Thank you for your answer.

    • Not even remotely correct…

      Go back and read the article – what you have done is isolate one element, cesium, and assume that the statement made about that element applies to all the radiation being released.

      Sort of like reporting on a baseball game and reporting all the runs for one team (Chernobyl) and only the runs for a single inning for the other, and declaring the Chernobyl team to be a better team.

      Here are some relevant sections that contradict your assumptions:

      “Indeed, Fukushima has already spewed much more radioactive cesium and iodine than Chernobyl. The amount of radioactive cesium released by Fukushima was some 20-30 times higher than initially admitted.”

      “Fukushima also pumped out huge amounts of radioactive iodine 129 – which has a half-life of 15.7 million years. Fukushima has also dumped up to 900 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium-90 – which is a powerful internal emitter which mimics calcium and collects in our bones – into the ocean. And the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl … and so could keep leaking for decades, centuries or millenia.”

  2. @reader Why be factual if instead you can play on emotions?

  3. BURY IT! It has gotten out of hand!

  4. Hello,

    I live in California, and I am greatly concerned about the impact of FUKUSHIMA radiation to my state. The picture of radiation spreading throughout the Pacific ocean just upsets me! What is Japan doing to minimize/remedy the radiation impact to all the countries along the Pacific coast? All those countries affected should sue TEPCO and the government of Japan in the world court. I am so mad at TEPCO and Japanese government for handling the situation!!!

    • A lawquit would only further hinder the government’s ability to clean this up. It requires MASSIVE amounts of funding and engineering and time. The damage is so great that not much can be done at this time. Unfortunately this is the nature of nuclear fuel. It will take a long time to decommission this plant, something like 40 years.

  5. Hey Reader,
    True with respect to calculations, but the uncertainty regarding how bad the damage really is (it was called “worst case scenario” in one of the links, so it is unprecedented) begs the question of if/when this will ever be cleaned up and/or shielded. And since the total amount released has been a point of debate and lies, nobody even knows how much radiation is really out there. Join us in the fight for a healthy future, people!

  6. As a matter of urgency, the Fukushima site should be temporarily annexed to the UN and a coalition of countries formed to go in and bring this rapidly growing monster under some sort of control. This is far greater than just a species wide disaster. We are ruining the immediate environment for every plant and animal within the earths atmosphere.
    I’m tired of reading reports from short sighted fools who are mildly surprised that radiation levels are rising all over the northern hemisphere, instead of dropping.
    Radiation doesn’t dilute, it doesn’t dissipate, it doesn’t fade away. Some have a half life of sixteen million years. Go back and read that again. You breathe in or ingest one millionth of a gram of it in sixteen million years, you have the same chance of a nasty cancer as if you absorbed that same particle today.
    You’re living in a fools paradise if you have written off the nuclear accident at Fukushima as something that happened two years ago and everything is ok now. We are two years into the accident and counting. In the precious time that has passed, not much has been done. Weekly leaks and failures, rusting infrastructure and faulty equipment have all set the clock ticking towards a point where the window of opportunity to attempt a repair is fading.
    Frugal design work of the reactors, lax government regulations and ignored warnings have all come together to let the nuclear cat out of the bag. I don’t know how we are going to get it back in, do you?

  7. The photo attached to this email is the rise in the ocean as a result of the tsunami (measured in CM), not of the radiation spread (which is undoubtably horrible).

  8. people don’t care . It’s not that there stupid . They just don’t care inless they are forced to care. So to speak. This whole situation is going to ride itself out to a very bad ending and when the powers that be find out how far behind the 8 ball they are , they will do their damdest to cover it up . Think bengazi times 10.

  9. Only 5 comments since April 6? Wow… wake up people.

    • People I talk to just seem numb to this event. History will take one of its sharpest turns in the next three to four decades. We are undone by our arrogance.

      • Hi there I Live in Ireland how bad is that affected by now do yo know? Is there anything you can do to lower radioactivity in body? I mean can you consume something for years and that would help? Just concerned ab my family and little son :(

        • Hi Denisa,

          You can google and find lots of good natural foods to protect your family. Charcoal, spirulina, anti-oxidants etc. Or you could move to the Southern Hemisphere which for the most part, is protected by the equatorial winds blowing up from the South and keeping the radiation away. Come on down to clean, green New Zealand.

    • There are only 5 comments because this is not reported anywhere. The U.S. government has not said anything about this. It is never in the news. No one is offering any ideas to the Japanese gov. The one person that used to update us every week was John P. Wells on coast to coast but, he no longer works there for some odd reason. Maybe because he was letting america know what is going on over there. Where are all these environmentalist that whine about everything? I can tell you that you don’t want to be a salmon eater. Those fish swim all the way across the pacific until they come back to spawn. Why is it that our government does not see fit to inform the people of America of the problem. This can affect all aspects of our life. Rain comes from the water that is evaporated into the atmosphere. Soon we will have radioactive rain and there go the crops, cattle and all our food sources. But, yet the government and the lame stream media choose not to get this information to the people. This is beyond me.

      • I could not agree more. The media have downplayed this event by making Kim Kardashian’s selfies and Jennifer Anniston’s hair washing tips more important to the people with their head in the sand. Recently CNN did a report on the Fukushima disaster and the comments were unbelievable, a bunch of ill informed fools that believe the disaster is under control. Further I posted (or tried to) a comment in an attempt to direct people to Fukushimaupdate.com so they could better inform themselves and CNN deleted the comment before it could be posted. Talk about trying to keep the truth hidden!!!

        • PETER, you are so right… (sadly) the bigger Kim Kardashian’s arse implants get does seem to equate to the reduction of the general populaces brain cells. (… puts a whole new spin on “having your head up your arse”…. in this case “weirdo” Kim’s). As for your comments being deleted: CNN will never allow any real news/truth; it’s owned by the same conglomerate of corporate pigs that built Fukushima in the first place. (Follow the money.)

          All we can do is keep trying. Thank you for trying :)

  10. Could this plant be simply demolished and encased in concrete rather than fire fighting day in day out. This method, if it can be done, would also give a sense of closure to the poor japanese who are suffering.

    Seems madness to manage it like this on daily basis.

    • IF the nuclear core fuel was still in the containment building.. they could encase it like Chernobyl.. BUT.. They don’t know where it is.. most likely burrowing into the earth, to potentially kill the planet….. so basically… put your head between your knees, and kiss your ass goodbye !!… Well, at least I made it to 50 yrs old….

  11. The picture used in this article is actually a plot of maximum wave height following the earthquake. I would have expected a plot of radioactive cesium-137 in April 2013. Admittedly, those are hard to come by. The best thing I could find is the movie at http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/3/034004/

    Also, Kanda’s estimate (in review at Biogeosciences Discussions) is actually 93 billion becquerels of cesium-137 per day in summer 2011 and 8 billion becquerels per day in summer 2012. So it has decreased; but when will it stop?

    On May 9th there will be a live webcast of a conference at
    http://www.whoi.edu/main/morss/fukushima
    in case you’re interested. 6:30 p.m. EST. Best to you all!

  12. Hi guys. First thing to be said is that the units used in this new are incorrect, because it uses in a wrong way the Becquerels, which means decays per second, instead of the sieverts. Sieverts are the unit to count the dose absorved by someone..you can check this in wikipesdia.
    Please before written about nuclear try to inform yourself a bit because that make to anyone that really knows about nuclear realize that you do not know what you are trying to write.So just for make u an idea, any americiu231 source used in some smoke detectors have an activity of millions of bequerels AMD do nit provide any hazard because the do se absorved is 0.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Non-Power-Nuclear-check it here Applications/Radioisotopes/Smoke-Detectors-and-Americium/#.UYPtJ1kaH6Q

    • @ inform_u_before
      You seem to misunderstand what is being reported here. They are reporting radiological ‘output’, not dose absorbed.

  13. Is possible that radioactive elements reach europe?

    • They’re already there. Keep measuring for airborne fallout & watch those food imports.

  14. The map you have posted is from the tsunami, it’s in cm, not radiation. It’s misleading and it made me look like a dick for not being more discerning, which makes it more difficult to raise awareness of this real threat.

  15. The photo you are using should be removed straight away. It is completely unrelated to the spread of radiation. It is the max wave height of the initial tsunami from the earthquake event.

    Unfortunately, this photo has been widely incorrectly distributed as the rapid spread of radiation.
    Please notice the measurement key in the lower right hand corner is in centimeters.

    Please remove the photo immediately.
    You’re entire website is instantly discredited due to this type of thing.

  16. The map you have posted at the top of the page is misleading. It is not the radioactivity in the ocean, but the projected height of waves from the initial quake…..You and many others like you are using false information and need to correct or remove it.

  17. Thank you for the feedback. The map has been removed.

  18. could someone in the mountains take a geiger counter to the snowline and see if the snowpack is building with radioactive seawater falling as snow. This should be solid proof.

  19. I am mystified as to why it’s being said that this is a ‘level 3′ and not nearly as serious as the ‘level 7′ incident at Chernobyl. This incident looks about as serious as it could be, considering duration, levels of radiatio and the fact it is not anywhere near under control after two years of radioactive water leaks.

    When the Fukushima damage happened in 2011 I thought that there should be an international team of experts acting as a think tank to advise those trying to control the incident. It seemed it was almost being underplayed even though it was evidently a disaster. And so much is now in the ocean, I know there was a lot of talk at the time about how it ‘dilutes’; I am nowhere near having expert nuclear knowledge but it doesn’t dilute quite like that. And how many tests are being done in the Pacific for radiation levels now, what is the damage to marine life and given the huge quantities going into the ocean, exactly how far is it likely ultimately to travel.

  20. People will speculate and guesstimate based on arbitrary assumptions on top of more assumptions to gauge the severity for months and years to come.

    The real question for everyone on the west coast and those who consume Pacific Ocean seafood and products is what is the probability that the radiation will manifest in the food supply and ocean waters that we enjoy as part of the west coast way of life.

    I for one believe that it is highly probable that media and governments will downplay and not release the real data to protect the integrity of the economy. The EPA already raised acceptable radiation in food by 3000% this year and that story went unreported, because this information about the severity of the leak was not released or related in conjunction with that story.

    The reality is that the rates of cancer in Southern California and Cabo San Lucas/Baja will rise over the next 10 years. But no one will say this definitively now because there is no material or definitive “proof” that can be scientifically shown.

    However we can extrapolate the relative risk based on the statements and assumptions publicly made, because these statements most likely will be less than the actual damage. And when you do that extrapolation over a three year period, and factor in the 1.5M tons of new garbage going into the Pacific Ocean Gyre and rolling over to the Southern California coastline, my personal risk assessment tells me to move my family before everyone catches on and the mad rush begins.

  21. okay, i haven’t heard this idea to help the situation. it seems to me that the huge threat to the pacific ocean might be ameliorated at least a little by digging in above the site and redirecting the ground water so as to not flow through the plant area. if the estimate of 300 tons a day contaminated water into the pacific is anywhere near correct, it would seem intelligent to redirect the ground water so as to dry the site up and keep some semblance of containment. i understand that the site is built not only in an earthquake fault and tsunami zone, but is also built atop an underground aquifer. amazing, isn’t it? just redirect the water around the plant and then take the necessary time to dry up and de-commission. of course, maybe they don’t care to much about the pacific ocean. cheers from maui

  22. why is no one using the Roy Process a process to transmute nuclear waste into harmless isotopes?

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