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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima: Pouring over 710 billion Becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere

Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima:  
Pouring over 710 billion Becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere


by J. D. Heyes

water The tsunami-caused nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan is the disaster that never ends, as new reports indicate that a wealth of new radioactive materials have been spewed into the atmosphere.

According to Singapore-based news outlet AsiaOne, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the multi-nuclear reactor power station at Fukushima, announced April 6 that some 120 tons of water that had been contaminated with radioactive substances had leaked from an underground storage facility at the No. 1 atomic power plant site.

Running out of storage room?

TEPCO officials announced the leak late in the day April 5, a Friday, "but said measures to address the problem had not been taken for two days because the cause had not been identified," AsiaOne reported. The company "assumed the water was still leaking."

According to company officials TEPCO estimates that the leaked water contains about 710 billion becquerels of radioactive substances, making it the largest leak of radioactive materials ever at the plant. Discovery of the leak led the company to transfer about 13,000 tons of polluted, radioactive water in the questionable storage area to a neighboring underground storage unit.

That storage unit, TEPCO said, is 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and six meters deep. It is pool-like in structure and has a three-layer waterproof sheet with a concrete cover.

According to the company, water that has leaked from damaged nuclear reactors is run through filters and additional devices in order to remove radioactive elements. The water is then stored in facilities for low-level contaminated water.

TEPCO began using the storage facility Feb. 1. As of April 5, 13,000 tons of radioactive water was being stored there - very close to the 14,000-ton limit.



More leaking contamination


AsiaOne reported that water samples taken by TEPCO from soil surrounding the damaged facility a few days later showed 35 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive substances, which is abnormal. "Safe" levels of becquerels is 300 per kilogram of water, according to New Scientist.

However, TEPCO officials did not publicly announce their findings right away after not finding any other unusual changes in water quality data, such as chloride concentration.

On April 5, the report said, two days after the problem was first noticed, water with 6,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive substances was located between the first and second layers of the waterproof sheet, which alerted TEPCO engineers and plant officials that a leak had occurred.

Per AsiaOne:

As the sheet's layers were joined when the facility was constructed, TEPCO assumed that the sheet may have been damaged, or that a mistake had been made during construction. An average of about 400 tons a day of groundwater seeped into buildings housing nuclear reactors and turbines, increasing the quantity of polluted water.

The latest problem will create a storage shortage; TEPCO officials said storage of polluted water at the facility will be reduced from 53,000 tons to 40,000 - a significant reduction. That will make it necessary for the power company to go over procedures for handling polluted water, which will include increasing the number of storage units.


The disaster that keeps on giving


TEPCO said earlier this month it expected the water transfer would take about five days to complete.

"As the height of the water storage facility is relatively low, we think it's unlikely that the polluted water mixed into underground water and reached the sea 800 meters away," said Masayuki Ono, the acting chief of TEPCO's nuclear facilities department, at a press conference April 6.

The plant was damaged by a huge earthquake-caused tsunami March 11, 2011. At the time of the incident, three of the plant's atomic reactors were shut down: No. 4 had been de-fueled and Nos. 5 and 6 were in cold shut-down for maintenance.

The remaining three automatically shut down at the time of the accident and emergency generators came on to keep coolant systems operating.

radiation5Obama Approves Raising Permissible Levels of Nuclear Radiation in Drinking Water. Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket

Rollback in Nuclear Radiation Cleanup



Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents

by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:

In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;

·         In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and

·         Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.

·         Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”

“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”

Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.

Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.


For more information about the Fukushima disaster see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/Fukushima  
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