Tepco now admits radioactive water entering the sea at Fukushima No. 1
Fisheries exec shocked by utility’s flip-flop on groundwater’s flow
Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tepco on Monday admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater is flowing into the sea, fueling fears that marine life is being poisoned. The admission came a day after voters handed the largely pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and ally New Komeito — a handsome majority in the Upper House. Earlier this month, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said groundwater samples taken at the battered plant showed that levels of cesium-134 had shot up more than 110 times in a few days. Although unable to explain the increased readings, Tepco had nevertheless maintained the toxic groundwater was likely being contained, largely by concrete foundations and steel sheets. “But now we believe that contaminated water has flowed out to the sea,” a Tepco spokesman said Monday. However, the spokesman insisted the impact of the radioactive water on the ocean would be limited. “Seawater data have shown no abnormal rise in the levels of radioactivity.” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, voiced deep concern. “It was quite shocking,” he told NHK. “(Tepco’s) explanation is totally different from the one in the past.” Fishing around the Fukushima plant was halted shortly after the crisis, and production of beef, milk, mushrooms and vegetables was banned in surrounding areas, crippling the prefecture’s thriving fishing and agriculture industries. Tepco, which is surviving thanks to a massive infusion of public funds, said it would step up efforts to reduce underground water by consolidating soil near its harbor. Radioactive substances released by the reactor core meltdowns at the aging plant following the huge quake and tsunami of March 2011 have been leaking from damaged buildings and mingling with the ground water, which usually flows out to sea. Environmental experts warn that the festering radioactive sore could contaminate the food chain by tainting marine life and ultimately, the humans who eat it. Tepco said earlier this year that a fish found with radiation more than 2,500 times the legal limit had been caught in a port on Fukushima No. 1′s premises. It also said last week that around 2,000 people who worked at the plant now face a heightened risk of thyroid cancer. This is 10 times more than Tepco’s previous estimate for potential thyroid cancer victims and came after the beleaguered utility was told its figures were too conservative.
Keiji Nokitowa 轩 樋 启示 Kosokudoro There’s such a release of 137Cs (1st Gen) around Daiichi we can reasonably assume that the corium is in contact with the sea
Cesium soars in water under No. 1 plant Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday reported a surge in radioactive cesium levels in groundwater in an observation well at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This signals radioactive contamination is spreading under the disaster-stricken facility. Water sampled from the well Monday contained 9,000 becquerels of cesium-134 per liter and 18,000 becquerels of cesium-137, both about 90 times the levels found Friday, Tepco said. The well is near the turbine building for reactor 2 and about 25 meters from the plant’s harbor. “We still don’t know why the level of radiation surged, but we are continuing efforts to avert further expansion of contamination,” a Tepco spokesman stated. Government guidelines permit cesium-134 at 60 becquerels per liter and -137 at 90 becquerels. Once ingested, the substances accumulate in muscle and bone and are believed to cause cancers. The water collected Monday also contained 890,000 becquerels of substances that include strontium, which emits beta radiation, compared with 900,000 becquerels found in groundwater sampled from the well Friday. Groundwater cesium levels in the well and other observation wells had remained low until recently. Readings were often below the minimum detectable levels. Explaining the reason for the low contamination in groundwater, Tepco had said cesium can be easily absorbed by soil. Following the latest findings, however, Tepco officials now say they do not know why the cesium levels have surged. “Mud that has absorbed radioactive cesium may have got mixed with the water. We will measure the (contamination of the) water again,” a Tepco official told reporters at the Fukushima Prefectural Government office. The official also said Tepco will determine if radioactive substances are seeping into the sea after studying its seawater survey. The company also said groundwater collected Monday from a well located near the reactor 3 turbine building and about 23 meters from the port was found to have contained 1,700 becquerels of beta radiation-emitting substances per liter. The reading was about 20 times the level detected Thursday and the highest for such substances in the well. The new readings came two days after Tepco said tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen used in glow-in-the-dark watches, was present at levels 10 times the permitted rate. Tepco said in late June it had detected the highly toxic strontium-90, a byproduct of nuclear fission that can cause bone cancer if ingested, at levels 30 times the permitted rate. The substances, which were released by the meltdowns of reactors at the plant in the aftermath of the huge tsunami of March 2011, were not absorbed by soil and have made their way into groundwater. Subsoil water usually flows out to sea, meaning these two substances could normally make their way into the ocean, possibly affecting marine life and ultimately impacting humans who eat sea creatures.
On Wednesday, TEPCO released estimates of the amount of Cesium leaked from Fukushimathat are 24 times higher than previously thought and equal to 4,023 Hiroshimabombs.
Last August the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) estimated 15,000 tera becquerels of cesium radiationhad leaked from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. One tera becquerel equals 1 trillion becquerels. At that time, the estimated cesium release was ‘equal 168 Hiroshima bombs’ as the atomic bomb atomic bomb dropped on Japan during World War II had only released 89 tera becquerels of cesium. On Wednesday, TEPCO releasedrevised estimates of the amount of radiation leaked from Fukushima. The new estimated calculated the level of cesium released to be 360,000 tera becquerels. That is 24 times higher than last August’s estimate and represents a cesium leak equal to 4,023 Hiroshima bombs. The estimate is also more than 4 times Chernobylwhich is estimated to have released 85,000 tera becquerels of cesium radiation into atmosphere. TEPCO’s newly revised estimates of the Fukushima leak are also not all-inclusive and do not cover the entire date range from the start of the disaster. The estimate of the total atmosphere release is based on data collected from between March 12 to 31, 2011, TEPCO states the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere in April and during the following months is likely to be only 1% of the amount released in March. That amount is considered to be ‘insignificant’ and is not included in the new estimate. The estimated amount of radiation leaked into Pacific Ocean was extrapolated from data collected from March 26 to September 30, 2011. TEPCO warned this data was collected from a ‘small amount of data acquired in a limited area’ and further warned ‘further data still needs to be collected to review the validity’ of their estimates. The new estimate also did not provide figures for the amount of radiation leaked into the water pits that run beneath the Fukushima’s nuclear reactors or for radiation leaked into contaminated water that TEPCO has collected into storage tanks. Last June, TEPCO estimatedthe amount of radiation leaked into the underground water pits to be up to nearly to two times higher than the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere.