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Fukushima radiation levels underestimated by five times – TEPCO

RT | February 8, 2014

TEPCO has revised the readings on the radioactivity levels at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant well to 5 million becquerels of strontium per liter – both a record, and nearly five times higher than the original reading of 900,000 becquerels per liter.

Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years. The legal standard for strontium emissions is 30 becquerels per liter. Exposure to strontium-90 can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. originally said that the said 900,000 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, including strontium – were measured in the water sampled on July 5 last year.

However, the company noted on Friday that the previous radioactivity levels had been wrong, meaning that it was also likely readings taken from the other wells at the disaster-struck plant prior to September were also likely to have been inaccurate, the Asahi Shimbum newspaper reported.

The Japanese company has already apologized for the failures, which they said were a result of the malfunctioning of measuring equipment.

TEPCO did not mention the radioactivity levels of other samples of both groundwater and seawater taken from between June and November last year – which totaled some 140.

However, the erroneous readings only pertain to the radiation levels measured in water – readings taken to measure the radiation levels in air or soil are likely to have been accurate.

In the basement of the station, the drainage system and special tanks have accumulated more than 360,000 tons of radioactive water. The leakage of radioactive water has been an ongoing problem in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO also said on Thursday that 600 liters of contaminated water – which had 2,800 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter in it, leaked from piping leading to a tank at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A record high level of beta rays released from radioactive strontium-90 was detected at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant beneath the No. 2 reactor’s well facing the ocean, according to the facility’s operator who released news of the measurements mid-January.

TEPCO measured the amount of beta ray-emitting radioactivity at more than 2.7 million becquerels per liter, Fukushima’s operator said as reported in the Japanese media.

In March 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s coast, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The catastrophe caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the facility, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The water used to cool the reactors has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water ever since. Some of the radioactive water has been escaping into the Pacific Ocean.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima open air fission? Radiation surge can’t be blamed just on random leaks

RT | September 2, 2013

The latest surge in radiation at Fukushima nuclear plant may suggest not only additional water leaks at the site, but could also mean fission is occurring outside the crippled reactor, explains Chris Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risk.

The increase in radiation reading is too significant to be blamed on random water leaks, believes Busby.

RT:
Just how serious is the situation now in Japan?

Chris Busby:
I think this is an indication that it has actually deteriorated significantly, very suddenly in the last week. What they are not saying and what is the missing piece of evidence here is that radiation suddenly cannot increase unless something happens and that something cannot be leakage from a tank, because gamma radiation goes straight through a tank. The tank has got very thin metal walls. These walls will only attenuate gamma radiation by 5 per cent, even when it is 1 cm thick.

Although they may think this is a leak from the tank, and there may well be leaks from the tank, this sudden increase of 1.8 Sieverts per hour is an enormously big dose that can probably kill somebody in 2 to 4 hours.

Today there was another leak found at 1.7 Sieverts per hour in more or less the same place. This huge radiation increase, in my mind means something going on outside the tanks, some radioactive fission is occurring, like an open air reactor, if you like, under the ground.

RT: What impact will this have on the clean-up operation and those who are involved in that operation?

CB: First of all it is clearly out of control and secondly no one can go anywhere near it. Nobody can go in to measure where these leaks are or do anything about them, because anybody who is to approach that sort of area would be dead quite quickly. They would be seriously harmed.

RT: Then presumably, someone who was there earlier, not knowing that the radiation levels were so high, are at risk now?

CB: I think many people are going to die as a result of this just like liquidators died after Chernobyl. They were dying over the next ten years or so.

RT:
Why has TEPCO failed to contain the radiation?

CB: I think no one has actually realized how bad this is, because the international nuclear industries have tried to play it down so much, that they sort of came to the idea that somehow it can be controlled. Whereas all along, it could never be controlled.

I’ve seen a photograph taken from the air recently, in which the water in the Pacific Ocean is actually appearing to boil. Well, it is not boiling. You can see that it’s hot. Steam is coming off the surface. There is a fog condensing over the area of the ocean close to the reactors, which means that hot water is getting into the Pacific that means something is fissioning very close to the Pacific and it is not inside the reactors, it must be outside the reactors in my opinion.

RT: Surely the international nuclear industry should have come to TEPCO’s help before this?

CB: Yes. They should have done that. This is not a local affair. This is an international affair. I could not say why it has not. I think they are all hoping that nothing will happen, hoping that this will all go away and keeping their fingers crossed. But from the beginning it was quite clear that it was very serious and that there is no way in which this is not going to go very bad.

And now it seems to have suddenly got very bad. If that photograph I’ve seen is true, they should start evacuating people up to a 100 kilometer zone.

RT: So not only those that live in the vicinity but also those that live within 100 km could be at risk?

CB: I say that this might be a faked dubbed photograph, but if that is real and these levels of 1.8 Sieverts per hour are real, than something very serious has happened and I think people should start to get away.

RT: Since the radiation is leaking into the ocean, will it not have a major ecological impact elsewhere?

CB: Of course. What happens there is that it moves all the radioactivity up and down the coast right down to Tokyo. I’ve seen a statement made by Tokyo’s mayor saying this will not affect the application of Tokyo to be considered for the Olympic Games. I actually thought they ought to consider evacuating Tokyo. It is very, very serious.

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive water overruns Fukushima barrier – TEPCO

RT | August 10, 2013

Contaminated groundwater accumulating under the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has risen 60cm above the protective barrier, and is now freely leaking into the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator TEPCO has admitted.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which is responsible for decommissioning the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, on Saturday said the protective barriers that were installed to prevent the flow of toxic water into the ocean are no longer coping with the groundwater levels, Itar-Tass reports.

The contaminated groundwater, which mixes with radioactive leaks seeping out of the plant, has already risen to 60cm above the barriers – the fact which TEPCO calls a major cause of the massive daily leak of toxic substances.

Earlier on Friday, the company announced it started pumping out contaminated groundwater from under Fukushima, and managed to pump out 13 tons of water in six hours on Friday. TEPCO also said it plans to boost the pumped-out amount to some 100 tons a day with the help of a special system, which will be completed by mid-August. This will be enough to seal off most of the ongoing ocean contamination, according to TEPCO’s estimates.

However, Japan’s Ministry of Industry has recently estimated that some 300 tons of contaminated groundwater have been flowing into the ocean daily ever since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster.

TEPCO also promised it will urgently reinforce the protective shields to keep radioactive leaks at bay. The company has repeatedly complained it is running out of space and has had to resort to pumping water into hastily-built tanks of questionable reliability, as more than 20,000 tons of water with high levels of radioactive substances has accumulated in the plant’s drainage system.

Water samples recently taken at an underground passage below the Fukushima nuclear plant showed extreme levels of radiation comparable to those taken immediately after the March 2011 catastrophe. The tested water, which had been mixing with ground water and flowing into the ocean, contained 2.35 billion Becquerels of cesium per liter – some 16 million times above the limit.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pump and pray: Tepco might have to pour water on Fukushima wreckage forever

By Christopher Busby | RT | August 7, 2013

Fukushima is a nightmare disaster area, and no one has the slightest idea what to do. The game is to prevent the crippled nuclear plant from turning into an “open-air super reactor spectacular” which would result in a hazardous, melted catastrophe.

On April 25, 2011 – one month after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the anniversary of Chernobyl – I was interviewed by RT and asked to compare Chernobyl and Fukushima. The clip, which you can find on YouTube, was entitled, “Can’t seal Fukushima like Chernobyl – it all goes into the sea.” Since then, huge amounts of radioactivity have flowed from the wrecked reactors directly into the Pacific Ocean. Attempts to stop the flow of contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea were always unlikely to succeed. It is like trying to push water uphill. Now they all seem to have woken up to the issue and have begun to panic.

The problem is this: the fission process in a reactor creates huge amounts of heat. Of course, that is the whole point of the machine – the heat makes steam which runs turbines. Water is pumped through channels between the fuel rods and this cools them and heats the water. If there is no water, or the channels are blocked, the heat actually melts the fuel into a big blob which falls to the bottom of the steel vessel in which all this occurs – the pressure vessel – and then melts its way through the steel, into the ground, and down in the direction of China. Well, not China in this case, but actually Buenos Aires, Argentina (I figured out).

I have been keeping an eye on developments, and it is quite clear that the reactors are no longer containing the molten fuel – some proportion of which is now in the ground underneath them. Both this material and the remaining material in what was the containment are very hot and are fissioning. Tepco is quite aware – and so is everyone else in the know – that the only hope of preventing what could become an open-air super reactor spectacular is to cool the fuel, the lumps of fuel distributed throughout the system, mainly in the holed pressure vessels, and also in the spent fuel tanks and in the ground under the reactors. That all this is fissioning away merrily (though at a low level) is clear from the occasional reports of short half life nuclides like the radioXenons. The game is to prevent it all turning into the open air super reactor located somewhere under the ground.  To do this, they have to pump vast amounts of water into the reactors, the fuel pond and generally all over the area where they think the stuff is or might be. This means seawater since luckily they are near the sea. But they are also unluckily near the sea – since you cannot pump the sea onto the land without it wanting to flow back into the sea.

Now a good proportion of the radioactive elements, the radionuclides, are soluble in water. The Caesiums 137 and 134, Strontiums 89 and 90, Barium 140, Radium 226, Lead 210, Rutheniums and Rhodiums, Silvers and Mercuries, Carbons and Tritiums, Iodines and noble gases Kryptons and Xenons merrily dissolve in the hot seawater. There is also a likelihood that the normally insoluble Uraniums, Plutoniums and Neptuniums will dissolve in seawater to some extent, because of the chloride ions. And if they don’t, the micron and nano-particles of these materials will disperse in the water as colloidal suspensions. So a lot of this stuff gets into the sea. Of course, most of the fuss is being made by the Americans who are on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. How unfair that the USA should suffer from the Japanese affair, they think. And also feel a level of fear, underneath all this. As perhaps they should since it is their crappy reactors that blew up.

We hear that 400 tons of highly radioactive water is now escaping the barriers that Tepco erected and is reaching the sea. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said on August 7 that “stabilizing Fukushima is our challenge.” Tepco said, “This is extremely serious — we are unable to control radioactive water seeping out of the Fukushima plant.” CNN quoted “industry experts” saying that “Tepco has failed to address the problem…[the experts] question Tepco’s ability to safely decommission the plant.

There are some things I want to say about all this. First is the inevitable discourse manipulation – something that we have seen in the media ever since this disaster occurred.  “Decommission the plant” suggests some calm and ordered scientific process akin to shutting down and defueling an old reactor which has reached the end of its design life. It sparks images of a wise nuclear engineer in a lab coat consulting a document, discussing some issue with a worker in brilliant white overalls with a Tepco logo, wearing a white hard-hat.  The reality is that this is a nightmare disaster area where no one has the slightest idea what to do and which has always been out of control.  All that they can do is continue to pump in the seawater to hope that the various lumps of molten fuel will not increase their rate of fissioning. And pray. The water will then pick up the radionuclides and flow downhill back to the sea. Of course, they can put up a barrier; surround the plant with a wall. But eventually the water will fill up the pond and flow over the wall. All that water will create a soggy marsh and destabilize the foundations of the reactor buildings which will then collapse and prevent further cooling. Then the Spectacular. All this is predictable enough.

Let us look at some numbers. Four hundred tons of seawater a day are flowing into the sea. That is 400 cubic meters. In one year, that is 146,000 cubic meters. That is a pond 10 meters deep and 120 meters square. This will have to go on forever, a new pond every year, unless they can get the radioactive material out. But here is the other problem. They can’t get close enough because the radiation levels are too high.  The water itself is lethally radioactive. Gamma radiation levels tens of meters from the water are enormously high. No one can approach without being fried.

‘Anyone living within 1km of the coast near Fukushima should get out’

But I want to make two other points. The first is that the Pacific Ocean is big enough for this level of release not to represent the global catastrophe that some are predicting.  Let’s get some scoping perspective on this. The volume of the North Pacific is 300 million cubic kilometers. The total inventory of the four Fukushima Daiichi reactors, including their spent fuel pools, is 732 tons of Uranium and Plutonium fuel which is largely insoluble in sea water. The inventory in terms of the medium half-life nuclides of radiological significance Cs-137, Cs-134 and Strontium-90, is 3 x 1018 becquerels (Bq) each. Adding these up gives about 1019 Bq. If we dissolve that entire amount into the Pacific, we get a mean concentration of 33 Bq per cubic meter – not great, but not lethal. Of course this is ridiculous since the catastrophe released less than 1017 Bq of these combined nuclides and even if all of this ends up in the sea (which it may do), the overall dilution will result in a concentration of 1 Bq per cubic meter. So the people in California can relax. In fact, the contamination of California and indeed the rest of the planet from the global weapons test fallout of 1959-1962 was far worse, and resulted in the cancer epidemic which began in 1980. The atmospheric megaton explosions drove the radioactivity into the stratosphere and the rain brought it back to earth to get into the milk, the food, the air, and our children’s bones. Kennedy and Kruschev called a halt in 1963, saving millions.

What we have here in Fukushima is more local, but still very deadly and certainly worse than Chernobyl since the populations are so large. And this brings me to my second point, and a warning to the Japanese people. The contamination of the sea results in adsorption of the radionuclides by the sand and silt on the coast and river estuaries. The east coast of Japan, the sediment and sand on the shores, will now be horribly radioactive. This material is re-suspended into the air through a process called sea-to-land transfer. The coastal air they inhale is laden with radioactive particles. I know about this since I was asked in 1998 by the Irish State to carry out a two-year study of the cancer effects of releases into the Irish Sea by the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield. We looked at small area data leaked to us by the Welsh Cancer Registry covering the period of 1974-1989, when Sellafield was releasing significant amounts of radio-Caesium, radio-Strontium, and Plutonium. Results showed a remarkable and sharp 30 per cent increase in cancer rates in those living within 1km of the coast. The effect was very local and dropped away sharply at 2km. In trying to discover the cause, we came across measurements made by the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment. Using special cloth filters, they had measured Plutonium in the air by distance from the contaminated coast. The trend was the same as the cancer trend, increasing sharply in the 1km strip near the coast. We later examined cancer rates in a higher resolution questionnaire study in Carlingford, Ireland. This clearly showed the effect increasing inside the 1km radius in the same way. The results were never published in scientific literature but were presented to the UK CERRIE committee and eventually made it into a book which I wrote in 2007 entitled, “Wolves of Water.” Make no mistake, this is a deadly effect. By 2003, we had found 20-fold excess risk of leukemia and brain tumours in the population of children on the north Wales coast. The children were denied of course by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence Unit that supplanted the old Welsh Cancer Registry – which had been shut down immediately after the data was released to us. We did publish this in scientific literature.

Nevertheless, the sea-to-land effect is real. And anyone living within 1km of the coast to at least 200km north or south of Fukushima should get out. They should evacuate inland. It is not eating the fish and shellfish that gets you – it’s breathing.

And what about the future? The future is bleak. I see no way of resolving the catastrophe. They will either have to pour water on the wreckage forever, and thus continue to contaminate the local sea, or find some more drastic immediate solution. I was told that US experts had the idea at the beginning of bombing the reactors into the harbour. Not so stupid in my opinion. That at least may enable them to get sufficiently close to the pieces to pick them up, and should also solve the cooling problem. Apparently (my contact said) the French argued them out of it because of the negative effect on nuclear energy (and Uranium shares).

Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks for RT.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima leaking radioactive water for ‘2 years, 300 tons flowing into Pacific daily’

RT | August 7, 2013

The rate at which contaminated water has been pouring into the Pacific Ocean from the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant is worse than thought before, an Industry Ministry official said as PM Shinzo Abe pledged to step up efforts to halt the crisis.

“We think that the volume of water is about 300 tons a day,” said Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

Abe put the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in charge of the situation, while demanding that the plant’s operator, TEPCO take the necessary steps to deal with the cleanup, which is anticipated to take more than 40 years at a cost of US$11 billion.

On Wednesday TEPCO confirmed the leak but refused to confirm the quantity being emitted from the plant.

“We are not currently able to say clearly how much groundwater is actually flowing into the ocean,” Tokyo Electric Power spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi told Reuters when asked for an estimate.

Japanese authorities are working in crisis mode, attempting to assure the public both at home and abroad that the situation will not further deteriorate into a widespread environmental catastrophe.

Yoneyama said the government plans to reduce the leakage amount to 60 tons per day by as early as December, but given the Japanese government’s progress in the cleanup to date that goal may be difficult to achieve. Removing 300 tonnes of groundwater, however, would not necessarily halt leakage into the sea, he said.

The nuclear plant was severely damaged in an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. About 90,000 people within a 20km radius of the plant were forced to evacuate their homes due to the possibility of a full-scale nuclear meltdown.
Nearing boiling point?

Earlier, TEPCO said it detected 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter in water that is now leaking into the groundwater through cracks in the plant’s drainage system. This radiation level is roughly the same as that measured in April 2011.

The normal level is 150 becquerels of cesium per liter of water.

For the past two years, TEPCO has claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially-constructed storage tanks. However, the company was forced to admit late last month that radioactive water was still escaping into the Pacific Ocean. These consistent failures are testing the patience of Japanese authorities.

“You can’t just leave it [disposing of radioactive waste at the plant] up to TEPCO,” Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) told Reuters. “Right now, we have an emergency.”

Earlier this month, TEPCO was forced to go on the defensive after a scathing first-page article appeared in The Asahi Shimbun daily criticizing the company’s cleanup efforts.

“TEPCO did nothing for more than two years despite having pledged to seal a leaking hole between a turbine building [the leakage source] and an underground pit [a trench] in April 2011 when water contaminated with radioactive materials…was found to have leaked into the ocean; and the company only began preparing for shielding tests this summer after contaminated water was found to be leaking into the sea this time,” the newspaper stated on August 1, 2013.

TEPCO fired back with its own version of events, saying that despite “technical difficulties and a severe work environment” the company has been working to implement a plan “in order to further reduce the risk of having outflow of contaminated water beyond the trench.”

Although TEPCO engineers have constructed a barrier between the destroyed facility and the ocean, it only extends 1.8 meters below the ground, thus water continues to accumulate inside the plant vaults.

“If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean,” Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer who has worked at several TEPCO plants, told Reuters. “So now, the question is how long do we have?”

TEPCO has pledged to begin pumping enough radioactive seepage to stop the water level from rising. But the company faces limitations, as its storage tanks are 85 percent full.

“New measures are needed to stop the water from flowing into the sea,” emphasized Kinjo, who accused TEPCO of failing to implement long-term solutions for a crisis that has been continuing for more than two years.

Not only is TEPCO running up against technical problems associated with the cleanup efforts, it must also deal with the unpredictable force of nature, specifically in the form of earthquakes.

On Sunday, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Miyagi prefecture, the same northeastern region of the island country that was devastated by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, which resulted in 15,000 people killed and more than 3,200 missing.

No damage or injuries were reported in the latest earthquake, but some roads and railways were temporarily closed for safety inspections.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima radioactive groundwater leak an ‘emergency’ – Japan’s nuclear watchdog

RT | August 5, 2013

Embattled Fukushima operator Tepco has been accused of a “weak sense of crisis”, as its failing battle to prevent radioactive water from seeping into the seawater near the plant has become an “emergency”, according to the country’s nuclear watchdog.

“You can’t just leave it [disposing of radioactive waste at the plant] up to Tepco,” Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) told Reuters. “Right now, we have an emergency.”

Daily, 400 tons of groundwater percolates into the basements of the plant, which was decimated by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The seepage mixes with water used to cool down the damaged reactors, before accumulating, and escaping out into the Pacific Ocean.

For the past two years, Tepco claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially built storage tanks, but late last month admitted that toxic water was not contained.

The energy company, which is under financial pressure after being handed an $11 billion clean-up bill for Fukushima, has simultaneously hardened the earth around the plant with a special chemical, creating an impenetrable barrier on the side of the plant adjacent to the ocean.

But the shell is not complete: the technique only works 1.8 meters below the ground and further down.

So, water continues to build up inside the plant vaults, and will eventually reach the unprotected subsoil and topsoil, as more water goes in each day than is pumped out.

“If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean,” Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer who has worked at several Tepco plants, told Reuters. “So now, the question is how long do we have?”

Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that the toxic water could begin spilling over within three weeks.

Kinjo refused to speculate about the exact timing, but said that any radioactive water that escapes that way “will flow extremely fast”.

Tepco is constructing a bypass that should decrease the groundwater inflows into the plant.

It has also promised to begin pumping enough radioactive seepage by the end of the week to stop the water level from rising. But the company faces limitations, as its radioactive liquid storage tanks are 85 percent full, and it has no clear plans to construct more, or to turn the current makeshift facilities into permanent ones.

“New measures are needed to stop the water from flowing into the sea,” emphasized Kinjo, who accused the energy giant of failing to implement long-term solutions for a crisis that has been going on for more than two years.

The impact of the radioactive water that has and will be released into the Pacific is hard to estimate, as Tepco has been slow to conduct studies and reluctant to release results to the public.

Last week, the company announced that it tested the release of radioactive isotope tritium, and said that it was within the legal limit. It now plans to test the sea water for cesium and strontium, which are considered much more dangerous for humans and the environment.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fish carrying 258 times the ‘safe’ level of radiation

RT | August 21, 2012

A pair of fish captured near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have shown to be carrying record levels of radiation. The pair of greenlings are contaminated with 258 times the level government deems safe for consumption.

­The fish, which were captured just 12 miles from the nuclear plant, registered 25,800 becquerels of caesium per kilo, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

TEPCO says the high levels may be due to the fish feeding in radioactive hotspots. The company plans on capturing and testing more of the fish, as well as their feed, and the seabed soil to determine the exact cause of the high radiation.

The findings were surprising for officials, who had previously seen much lower levels of radiation in contaminated fish.

Fishermen been allowed to cast their reels in the nearby waters on an experimental basis since June – but only in areas more than 31 miles from the plant.

Previously, the highest recorded radiation seen in the captured wildlife was 18,700 becquerels per kilo in cherry salmons, according to the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

The radiation was caused by a meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant after it was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The disaster was so intense that contaminated fish were caught all the way across the Pacific Ocean, on the California coast.

But it’s not only aquatic life that is suffering from side effects of the leaked radiation.

According to researchers, the radiation has caused mutations in some butterflies, giving them dented eyes, malformed legs and antennae, and stunted wings.

The results show the butterflies were deteriorating both physically and genetically.

But the harmful risks don’t stop with butterflies. The radioactivity which seeped into the region’s air and water has left humans facing potentially life threatening health issues.

Over a third of Fukushima children are at risk of developing cancer, according to the Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey.

­The report shows that nearly 36 per cent of children in the Fukushima Prefecture have abnormal thyroid growths which pose a risk of becoming cancerous.

The World Health Organization warns that young people are particularly prone to radiation poisoning in the thyroid gland. Infants are most at risk because their cells divide at a higher rate.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Fukushima fish carrying 258 times the ‘safe’ level of radiation

Radioactive Seawater Impact Map (update: March 2012)

Radioactive Sea Water Particle Tracing from Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Assuming that a part of the passive biomass could have been contaminated in the area, we are trying to track where the radionuclides are spreading as it will eventually climb up the food chain. The computer simulation presented here is obtained by continuously releasing particles at the site during the 2 months folllowing the earthquake and then by tracing the path of these particles. The dispersal model is ASR’s Pol3DD. The model is forced by hydrodynamic data from the HYCOM/NCODA system which provides on a weekly basis, daily oceanic current in the world ocean. The resolution in this part of the Pacific Ocean is around 8km x 8km cells. We are treating only the sea surface currents. The dispersal model keeps a trace of their visits in the model cells. The results here are expressed in number of visit per surface area of material which has been in contact at least once with the highly concentrated radioactive water. – More info at source

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fukushima Roulette

One Year and Counting

By JOHN LaFORGE | CounterPunch | March 14, 2012

It’s been a year since the reactor meltdowns and catastrophic radiation releases from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor complex, and news of their far-reaching consequences still makes headlines the world over. Radioactive hot spots are still being discovered far beyond the official 13-mile “exclusion” and 18-mile “cautionary” zones surrounding the 6-reactor compound.

Recalculated estimates of massive radiation releases are repeatedly doubled, tripled or quadrupled. The National Science Foundation has said, “The release of radioactivity from Fukushima — both as atmospheric fallout and direct discharges to the ocean — represents the largest accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history.”

The list of radioactively contaminated foods, waters, soils, vegetation and export goods continues to grow longer, and government-established allowable contamination rates appear wildly arbitrary. For example, Japan intends in April to lower its permissible level of cesium in milk to 50 becquerels per kilogram from the 200 Bq/Kg that is permitted now. Evidently, an amount of contamination deemed permissible for both robust and vulnerable populations for the past year, will become four times too dangerous to consume — on April Fool’s Day.

Unprecedented and seemingly chaotic efforts to limit the spread of radiation are announced every few days. Contaminated topsoil and detritus from the forest are to be placed in metal boxes which may be stored “temporarily” in wooded areas. A plasticized wind barrier may be placed like a giant tent over the entire Fukushima Daiichi complex to retard further release of radiation to the air. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) began in March pouring tons of concrete from ships onto the seabed outside the destroyed reactors in an attempt to slow the spread of radionuclides that were dumped into the sea in the panicky early days of the crisis.

Broadly accepted but faulty government explanations for the meltdowns leave 400 reactors operating worldwide vulnerable to similar failures of emergency generators. Tepco is still dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water on the three uncontrolled reactors, and the waste fuel pool of reactor 4, all with extremely hot and ferociously radioactive fuel wreckage at the bottom of what used to be called “containments.” The unprecedented earthquake turned them into cracked and leaking sieves that are still vulnerable to Japan’s daily earthquakes.

A selective review of the news is all that space allows:

July 12-18: Beef contaminated, consumed, banned

Beef contaminated with cesium was sold at markets before a ban and recall was issued. Tests on straw at a farm in Koriyama city in Fukushima Prefecture showed cesium levels as high as 378 times the legal limit. Tokyo’s metropolitan government said high levels of cesium, nearly five times what’s permitted, were detected in meat from a cow shipped to a packing plant in Tokyo from a farm in Koriyama. 

Sept. 9: Japan triples its radiation release estimate

Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency reported that radioactive cesium-137 and iodine-131 released into the Pacific Ocean by Fukushima’s operators between March 21 and April 30 amounted to 15,000 trillion becquerels, or “terabecquerels” — more than triple the amount (4,720 terabecquerels) earlier estimated by the Tepco. (See chart at end)

Oct. 2: Plutonium fell far beyond evacuation zone

Plutonium, was been detected 24 miles from Fukushima according to government researchers. The official exclusion zone is only 12.4 miles wide.

Oct. 15: Hot spots in Tokyo

Independent groups found 20 radioactive “hot spots” inside Tokyo, 150 miles from the disaster zone, that were contaminated with cesium as heavily as parts of the exclusion zone around Chernobyl, in Ukraine, site of a similar radiation disaster in 1986. Kiyoshi Toda, a radiation expert and medical doctor at Nagasaki University told the New York Times, “Radioactive substances are entering people’s bodies from the air, from the food. It’s everywhere.”

Oct. 27: Worst oceanic contamination ever recorded

France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety reported that the amount of cesium-137 dispersed to the Pacific Ocean was the greatest single radioactive contamination of the sea “ever observed.” The institute estimated that 27 “petabecquerels” (27 million billion becquerels) of cesium-137 poured into the sea. This is equal to a staggering 729,000 curies.

Nov. 17: Sale of contaminated rice banned

The sale of rice from 154 farms in Fukushima Prefecture was banned after it was found contaminated with cesium exceeding

government limits. The same week, the journal of the National Academy of Sciences said that levels of cesium in the region’s soil would “severely impair” food production in all of eastern Fukushima and even neighboring areas.

Nov. 26: Cesium in fallout fell all over Japan

Radioactive cesium dispersed by Fukushima fell over the entire territory of Honshu, Japan’s largest and most heavily populated island, the major daily Asahi Shimbun reported.

Dec. 6: Cesium in baby food on shelves 7 months

The giant food company Neji Holdings announced the recall of 400,000 cans of its powdered baby milk formula after it was found poisoned with cesium-137 and cesium-134. Packaged in April, toward the end of Fukushima’s worst radiation releases, the baby food was distributed mostly in May and could have been repeatedly consumed by infants for seven months.

Dec. 12: Tokyo schoolyard’s 9-month cesium hazard

The concentration of cesium found in a Tokyo schoolyard, 150 miles from Fukushima was over 10 times the government-established level requiring disposal. From April to December, highly contaminated tarps were evidently left in a heap beside the school’s gym. The Environment Ministry gave official permission to incinerate the covers, but tons of radioactively contaminated incinerator ash has caused broad public protest because of objections to its being disposed of in forested areas.

Dec. 12: Sea contamination 50 million times normal

A study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Society published in Environmental Science & Technology found that concentrations of cesium-137 at Fukushima’s discharge points to the sea peaked at more than 50 million times expected levels. Concentrations 18 miles offshore were higher than those measured in the ocean after Chernobyl. Lead author and Woods Hole senior scientist Ken Buesseler told Forbes, “We don’t know how this might affect benthic [bottom dwelling and subsurface] marine life, and with a half-life of 30 years, any cesium-137 accumulating in sediments or groundwater could be a concern for decades to come.”

Dec. 19: Up to 14,000 U.S. deaths linked to fallout

The peer reviewed International Journal of Health Services reported that as many as 14,000 excess deaths in the United States appear linked to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. The rise in reported deaths after March 17 was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks. The study by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention’s weekly reports, was the first on Fukushima health hazards to be published in a scientific journal.

Feb. 11: Scouring fallout from 8,000 square miles

The New York Times reported in its business section that Japan intends to “rehabilitate” contaminated areas that total over 8,000 square miles — an area nearly as big as New Jersey.

Feb. 26: One-quarter of U.S. reactors can’t survive likely quakes

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that 27 of 104 operating reactors in the United States face current earthquake magnitude predictions more powerful than the reactors were designed and built to withstand.

Feb. 28: Cesium limits for rice will not be enforced

The government said farmers would be allowed to plant rice on land with cesium contamination above the new 100 becquerels-per-kilogram limit for crop land. The new limit takes effect in April, long after Japan arbitrarily set a contamination limit of 500-Bq/Kg following last year’s massive radiation releases.

2011: Emergency backup generators ‘not designed to work’

The official explanation for Fukushima’s loss-of-coolant and radiation releases is that back-up diesel generators were wrecked by the March 11 tsunami. In his Nov. 2011 book Vulture’s Picnic (Dutton), Greg Palast smashes this theory — and highlights reactor vulnerability everywhere — writing that the diesels may have destroyed themselves just by being turned on. Since aerial photos now show that the buildings housing the diesels were not wrecked, Palast recounts that 30 years ago he and diesel expert R. D. Jacobs suspected problems with the diesels proposed for U.S. nukes. They forced the builder of New York’s Shoreham reactor to test its three generators under emergency conditions. One after another, all three failed when their crankshafts snapped, just ad Jacobs predicted. Shoreham never went online.

Interviewing another diesel engineer, Palast found that the diesels were “designed or even taken from, cruise ship engine rooms or old locomotives.” They need 30 minutes to warm up and time to build crankshaft speed, before adding the “load” of the generator. In a nuclear emergency, the diesels have to go from stationary to taking a full load in less than ten seconds, Palast reports. They’re not made for a “crash start.” He asked the expert, “You’re saying emergency diesels can’t work in an emergency?” His answer was, “Actually, they’re just not designed for it.”

— New resources: “Lessons from Fukushima,” Feb. 2012, by Greenpeace; and “Fukushima in review: A complex disaster, a disastrous response,” March 2012, by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Radiation amounts FYI:

1 becquerel = 1 atomic disintegration per second

37 billion becquerels = 1 curie

1 trillion becquerels (1 terabecquerel) = 27 curies

1 million billion becquerels (1 petabecquerel) = 27,000 curies

An area far beyond the official 18-mile restriction zone around Fukushima has been declared in need of decontamination. Besides power washing urban areas, this will involve removing about 2 inches of topsoil from local farms as well as dead leaves and other debris from radiation-laden forest floors. The government has announced it intends to clear about 934 square miles of soil — an area larger than greater Tokyo (above). “So far, nobody has any idea where any contaminated soil will be dumped,” reported The Economist, in “Hot spots and blind spots: the mounting human costs of Japan’s nuclear disaster,” Oct. 8, 2011.

John LaForge is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and anti-war group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Fukushima Roulette

Missing Heat Hides From Climate Scientists

By Doug L. Hoffman on 04/18/2010

Climate scientists have decided that as much as half of the heat energy, believed to have built up on Earth in recent years, is hiding somewhere it can’t be found.

By measuring the radiative energy input at the top of Earth’s atmosphere, scientists have a pretty good idea of how much energy is entering the planetary environment—the problem is figuring out where it goes. The most likely place is in the deep ocean, whose waters form a huge potential storage place for heat. Because energy is exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean, this heat can resurface at a later time to affect weather and climate on a global scale. It has been suggested that last year’s rapidly occurring El Niño may be one way the “missing” solar energy has reappeared—the implication being more sudden El Niño events may be on the way.

Oceans contain around 80% of the climate system’s total energy, so ocean heat is a good measure of what is happening with Earth’s climate. According to a Perspectives article in the April 16, 2010, issue of Science, “Tracking Earth’s Energy,” science has been unable to properly track energy within Earth’s environmental system. Kevin E. Trenberth and John T. Fasullo , both scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), warn in the new study that satellite sensors, ocean floats, and other instruments are inadequate to track this “missing” heat. They fear that it may be building up in the deep oceans or elsewhere in the climate system. “The heat will come back to haunt us sooner or later,” says Trenberth, the lead author. “The reprieve we’ve had from warming temperatures in the last few years will not continue. It is critical to track the build-up of energy in our climate system so we can understand what is happening and predict our future climate.”

As noted on the NCAR site, a Science Perspectives piece is not formally peer-reviewed, but is reviewed by editors of the journal. Science reportedly invited Trenberth to submit the article after an editor heard him discuss the research at a scientific conference. Trenberth and his co-author, Fasullo, focused on what they call a central mystery of climate change. Why, since 2003, have scientists been unable to determine where much heat energy Earth receives from the Sun is going. According to the NCAR site:

Satellite measurements indicate that the amount of greenhouse-trapped solar energy has risen over recent years while the increase in heat measured in the top 3,000 feet of the ocean has stalled. Although it is difficult to quantify the amount of solar energy with precision, Trenberth and Fasullo estimate that, based on satellite data, the amount of energy build-up appears to be about 1.0 watts per square meter or higher, while ocean instruments indicate a build-up of about 0.5 watts per square meter. That means about half the total amount of heat is unaccounted for.

Either the satellite observations are incorrect, says Trenberth, or large amounts of heat are penetrating to regions on Earth that are not adequately measured. One such place is the deepest parts of the oceans. Compounding the problem, Earth’s surface temperatures have largely leveled off in recent years. This inability to properly track energy has implications for understanding the way climate works and most definitely on predicting future climate. Obviously, if scientists are at a loss to identify the hiding place of the missing heat climate modelers are unable to include its possible future effects in their programs. With as much as half of the suspected heat energy buildup gone missing, it must be asked how well science understands Earth’s climate.


Where does the energy go?

El Niño, periodic events in which the upper ocean waters across much of the tropical Pacific Ocean become significantly warmer, are seen by many as a mechanism for dumping heat, stored in the ocean, back into space. Trenberth and Fasullo explain the relationship between the ENSO, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, and delayed release of ocean stored energy this way:

To understand how energy is taken up and later released by the climate system, consider the natural variability from El Niño Southern Oscillation. The cold sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific present in normal or La Niña conditions create conditions favorable for fewer clouds and more sunshine and a build-up of heat in the ocean as a precursor of El Niño. The spread of warm waters across the Pacific, together with changing winds, in turn promotes evaporative cooling of the ocean, moistening the atmosphere and fueling tropical storms and convection over and around the anomalously warm waters. The changed atmospheric heating alters the jet streams and storm tracks and controls weather patterns for the duration of the El Niño event. The loss of heat can in turn lead to La Niña.

A strong La Niña event in 2007–2008 extended into the 2008–2009 northern winter, causing cooler than normal weather across much of the Northern Hemisphere. By June 2009, the situation had reversed as the next, comparatively moderate El Niño emerged. Multiple storms barreled into Southern California in January 2010, consistent with expectations from the El Niño. These storms also caused significant snowfall and precipitation across the American Southwest, South and up the Eastern Seaboard.

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding ocean temperatures these days. Recently, new estimates of the past temperatures have been published. On in particular, that shows a sudden jump in the 2002-2003 time, prompted Real Climate to post a plot of ocean heat content. This is a contradiction of a 2009 paper by Craig Loehle in Energy & Environment that found global ocean cooling since 2003. The linear component of the model used showed a trend of -0.35 (±0.2) x 1022 Joules per year, shown in the plot below.


The Loehle study showed an unambiguous cooling trend.

“The model, fit to the smoothed data, gave an excellent fit (r = 0.922, R2 = 0.85) and showed clearly that there is an annual periodicity in the data, probably due to the north-south asymmetry in ocean area and the effect of orbital variations over the year,” the study states. The Loehle study was based on ocean heat content anomaly (OHCA) data compiled by Josh Willis et al. Indeed, it was the 2008 paper “Assessing the Globally Averaged Sea Level Budget on Seasonal and Interannual Time Scales,” by Willis, Chambers and Nerem, that prompted this comment by Roger Pielke Sr.:

Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004. It is impossible to know if this lack of warming will continue but these observations are inconsistent with the predictions of long-term global climate predictions, such as reported in the 2007 IPCC report.

Since then, the debate over ocean heat and ocean levels has raged. Claims and counter claims, studies finding warming and studies finding cooling. Now it looks like the warming proponents are throwing in the towel on surface temperature increase (this is the temperature trend, not normal, cyclic variability). In a reply to questions from Dr. Pielke, Dr. Willis said:

There is still a good deal of uncertainty in observational estimates of ocean heat content during the 1990s and into the early part of the 2000s. This is because of known biases in the XBT data set, which are the dominant source of ocean temperature data up until 2003 or 2004. Numerous authors have attempted to correct these biases, but substantial difference remain in the “corrected” data. As a result, the period from 1993 to 2003 still has uncertainties that are probably larger than the natural or anthropogenic signals in ocean heat content that happen over a period of 1 to 3 years. However, the decadal trend of 10 to 15 years seems to be large enough to see despite the uncertainties.

So, despite the confusion caused by changing from XBT (Expendable Bathythermograph) measurements to measurements by the Argos satellite-based location and data collection system, it still looks like the upper portions of the ocean are cooling. Such data discontinuities when changing sensor types or measurement methods is not new, the same type of flap erupted over radiosonde data a decade ago. Even so, the debate about the missing ocean heat is far from over.

The new claim is the missing heat, that climate change supporters so desperately want to find, has gone deep. Dr Pielke has exchanged a series of comments with Dr. Trenberth over his recent paper on the Climate Science website:

Trenberth’s [and co-author, NCAR scientist John Fasullo], however, are grasping for an explanation other than the actual real world implication of the absence of this heat.

  • First, if the heat was being sequestered deeper in the ocean (lower than about 700m), than we would have seen it transit through the upper ocean where the data coverage has been good since at least 2005. The other reservoirs where heat could be stored are closely monitored as well (e.g. continental ice) as well as being relatively small in comparison with the ocean.
  • Second, the melting of glaciers and continental ice can be only a very small component of the heat change (e.g. see Table 1 in Levitus et al 2001 “Anthropogenic warming of Earth’s climate system”. Science).

Thus, a large amount heat (measured as Joules) does not appear to be stored anywhere; it just is not there.

“I do not agree with your comments. We are well aware that there are well over a dozen estimates of ocean heat content and they are all different yet based on the same data,” said Dr. Trenberth in reply. “There are clearly problems in the analysis phase and I don’t believe any are correct.” Clear admission that climate scientists are groping in the dark here.

“I do not see how such large amounts of heat could have transited to depths below 700m since 2005 without being detected.,” responded Pielke, adding in a conciliatory way: “I am very supportive, however, of your recognition that it is heat in Joules that we should be monitoring as a primary metric to monitor global warming. Our research has shown significant biases in the use of the global average surface temperature for this purpose.”

Research done over the last several years has found that the return currents of the meridional overturning current (MOC) do not behave as previously thought (see “Conveyor Belt Model Broken”). More recently, it has been shown that the great ocean conveyor belt varies in ways unpredicted and previously unsuspected (see “Ocean Conveyor Belt Confounds Climate Science”). During the first 1-year period since new deep sea sensors became operational (measurements from March 2004 through March 2005) the strength of the MOC varied by more than a factor of 8. It still remains unclear how much the meridional overturning circulation varies from year to year, but the old model was clearly wrong.


New sensors reveal unsuspected behavior. Source CSIRO.

Now, the ocean is suspected of harboring hidden heat that scientists claim has gone missing. Some claim the heat is not there, while others, like Trenberth and Fasullo, fear that the missing heat will “come back to haunt us.” One thing is certain—those old claims of “settled science” and a “consensus among the world’s scientists” seem to have come back to haunt their originators. The overstatements made by the IPCC and its supporters in the past stand revealed for the empty lies they always were.

Trenberth and Fasullo state that it is imperative to get better measurements of the energy flowing through Earth’s climate system. Improved analysis of energy in the atmosphere and oceans might help researchers better understand and possibly even predict unusual weather patterns, such as the unexpectedly cold weather across much of the United States, Europe, and Asia over the past winter. But for now, no scientist can claim that we truly understand what is going on in Earth’s oceans—and that means climate science cannot claim to understand what is going to happen to Earth’s climate.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 10 Comments