Red Alert – Fukushima-Daiichi NPP Crisis: EXTREME Radioactive Water Leaking into Ground; Unprecedented Radioactive Contamination of Pacific Ocean.

Portland, Oregon, USA – July 31, 2013 – A massive blogpost looking into the severity of recently revealed ground water and continued ocean contamination at the troubled Japanese Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant site.  {The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/puwO9-23w}

Even Nuclear insiders are apparently beginning to lose their cool, calling the kettle black:

“This action regarding the water contamination demonstrates a lack of conservative decision-making process.  It also appears that you are not keeping the people of Japan informed.  These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people.”  

– Dale Klein, former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to TEPCO, at a TEPCO-sponsored nuclear reform monitoring panel composed of two foreign experts and four Japanese including the company’s chairman (July 2013).   Quote in context at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-nuke-experts-blast-fukushima-toxic.html#jCp

The difficulties we face at Fukushima Daiichi are on par with the difficulties we faced in the wake of World War II

–  Shunichi Tanaka, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman at a Tokyo news conference, as reported last week in the July 24, 2013 New York Times.   Chairman Shunichi Tanaka also admitted, at last, that TEPCO needs help with the cleanup.  Experts acknowledge the situation is unprecedented.

> DISCLAIMER < —  It may be happening some 4700 miles from the bed I sleep in, but…  I happen to live downwind and downstream, love seafood, love the ocean, love swimming, generally thoroughly enjoy life and would prefer to look at unmutated butterflies flapping through clean skies, but… -bummer- I read some reports of something that doesn’t seem to go away because few people give it attention. (Strange: How come that new age belief of “whatever you give attention grows”, doesn’t quite seem to apply to this widely ignored ongoing nuclear disaster…?  Hmmm…  Food for thought?).  Reported:

Extreme radioactive pollution of the ground water at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP.

The news has been building for weeks with headlines such as:

“Radioactive cesium levels in one of the observation wells at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in north-east Japan have jumped up 90 times over the past 3 days, the NHK television said Tuesday.

NHK cited a report from Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, saying that “9,000 becquerels of cesium 134 and 18,000 becquerels of cesium 137 per liter of water at a well between the No. 2 reactor building and the sea” were recorded on Monday. […]”

  • TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013 – ABC (Australia): “It’s taken about two-and-a-half years, but it seems the Japanese government is finally losing patience with the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant.  The reason: its haphazard approach to stabilising the complex.  Last week it was unexplained steam rising from the shattered remains of the building housing the melted reactor number three. This week it’s TEPCO’s admission that radioactive water from the plant has probably been leaking into the Pacific for the last three months. […]”
  • TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013 – NHK WORLD: “[…] Tokyo Electric Power Company admitted for the first time on Monday that tainted water is seeping into the sea from the plant site, based on its analysis of water levels underground and in the adjacent sea.  High levels of groundwater contamination have been identified [… Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide] Suga told reporters after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the government views this as a grave matter. […]”  [h/t ENEnews]
  • Also, (albeit not directly related to the focus of this post:) TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013 – EX-SKF:  “Hot Spots” in #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Locations Where Radiation Levels Exceed 1,000 mSv (or 1 Sv)/Hour

“[…] From plant survey map as of 6/17/2013:   SGTS (Standby Gas Treatment System) pipe for Reactors 1 and 2: (surface) over 10,000 millisieverts/hour (or 10 Sieverts/hour) […]”

Note:  7 Sv/hr is genraly considered “instant death level”.  Currently, robots still malfunction in environments of extreme radioactivity.  This is part of the challenging situation more than 2 years after the devastating quake and tsunami hit the reactors complex.

  • FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013 – TEPCO tries to explain why they’re withholding information.  Apparently they’re just “protecting the fishing industry”, not from contamination, but from the detrimental economic impact of news reports on the apparently continuing radioactive leaking (aka fear of people making informed decisions…), stating ostensibly:

“[…] great fear, within the whole company, of alarming the public of an outflow incident guided solely by guesswork, without crucial evidence, and particular anxiety and concern about damage to the fishery industry resulting from harmful rumors. We felt it best to reserve judgment until we could establish “definitive grounds”, rather than announce the associated risks immediately. […]”

Now it’s no longer “guesswork” and them pesky “harmful rumors” aren’t rumors anymore, are they?  The hard data speaks volumes:

  • SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2013 – TEPCO reveals the scope of the groundwater disaster:  “Tritium Density Result of Water Quality Survey inside the Port of Fukushima Daiichi NPS (Follow-up Information 22)

[TEPCO Press release in full, with the latest data as reported; my emphasis in red and notes in green:]

This is follow-up information on the latest situation concerning the detection of high densities of Tritium and Strontium in the observation hole at the east side of the Unit 1-4 Turbine Buildings of Fukushima Daiichi NPS.

Today (on July 28 [2013]), as we obtained a measurement result as follows for tritium in water taken on July 26 in the Unit 2 water intake power cable trench (seawater piping foundation part) where a new observation hole (B1-1) was installed for the survey currently conducted for purposes such as identification of the contamination source of high-density contaminated water inside the sea-side trench, we would like to make an announcement on the result.

This measurement result on the Unit 2 water intake power cable trench (B1-1: seawater piping foundation part) cannot be compared directly since the location is a new observation point. However, a high radioactivity density was found compared to the sample taken on July 17 [2013] from the nearby water intake power cable trench (B2).

<B1-1: Unit 2 water intake power cable trench (seawater piping foundation part)>
– Sampling on July 26 [2013]:
!!!–> Tritium  8,700,000 Bq/L (8,700Bq/cm3) (new)
Chlorine 8,000ppm (previously announced)
!!!–>  Cesium-134  750,000,000Bq/L (750,000Bq/cm3) (previously announced)
!!!–>  Cesium-137  1,600,000,000Bq/L (1,600,000Bq/cm3) (previously announced)
All-β  750,000,000Bq/L (750,000Bq/cm3) (previously announced)

  [!!! – For a clue how extreme that is, see my presentation further below in this blog post…]

<B2: Unit 2 water intake power cable trench> (previously announced)>
– Sampling on July 17 [2013]:
Tritium 120,000Bq/L (120Bq/cm3)
Chlorine 70ppm
Cesium-134 12,000,000Bq/L (12,000Bq/cm3)
Cesium-137 24,000,000Bq/L (24,000Bq/cm3)
All-β 23,000,000Bq/L (23,000Bq/cm3)

[for comparison to the situation over 2 years ago:]
<Quality of water leaked into the Unit 2 water intake screen room in April 2011>
Cesium-134 1,800,000,000Bq/L (1,800,000Bq/cm3)
Cesium-137 1,800,000,000Bq/L (1,800,000Bq/cm3)

We are continuing to tackle this problem in such manners as to intensely bring forward implementation of contamination prevention measures such as foundation improvement work to the bank protection, and comprehensively intensify the monitoring by using the results of additional boring to drill additional locations, and the analyses results on seawater at such locations as the port interior and the water outlets.

For the past sampling results, please refer to the following page on our website:
http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/index-e.html “ [end PR]

Part of this had already been announced by TEPCO the previous day, as relayed:

Fukushima trench water crisis returns: “KYODO  — Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the trench problem at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has cropped up again and is sending highly radioactive water into the sea.

The water in the underground passage, which runs under the turbine building of reactor 2, contains 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter, roughly the same as that measured right after the crisis began in spring 2011.

The latest sample, taken Friday from a trench, contained 750 million becquerels of cesium-134, 1.6 billion becquerels of cesium-137 and 750 million becquerels of other radioactive substances, the utility said.

A sample from April 2011 contained 1.8 billion becquerels of both cesium-134 and cesium-137 per liter. Cesium has a half-life of about 30 years. […]” Continue Reading.

This was also reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), ZeeNews India, Russia Today, El Pais, etc., yet strangely not reported by the vast majority of news outlets.  Maybe they’re not quite grasping its rather grave significance?  Maybe the following couple points will help…

So, how bad is that, really?  

  • 1.6 billion becquerels of cesium-137
  • 750 million becquerels of cesium-134

That adds up to 2.35 billion Bq, aka, 2.35 GBq (gigabecquerel), of Cs-134 + Cs-137 combined, PER LITER of contaminated water.   So that that translates to [-x1000]:  2350 GBq per cubic meter (aka 2.35 Tbq/m^3 (TeraBecquerel per Cubic Meter) – See my Radiation Units page for help with conversions, prefixes and units.)

Remember my fallout map comparison of Chernobyl and Fukushima in 2011?  Well, according to EX-SKF, there’s “5,000 cubic meters, or 5,000 tonnes of this water is in the trench.” (Source: EX-SKF July 26, 2013 – HERE).  So what’s the estimated total we’re looking at here then?

Well…  If the sample is representative of the average of the whole 5000 cubic meters, then (calculation:  5000 m^3 x 2.35 Tbq/m^3 =  11750 TBq = 11.75 PBq  —> PetaBecquerel; The prefix ‘Peta’ meaning ’15 zeroes’. – Again, see the table in my Radiation Units page for help with these.)… then there’s currently (end of July 2013): over 11 PBq of Cs-134 + Cs-137 in just that trench alone !   No one knows how much more is spreading in the groundwater, and how much of that is leaking into the Pacific Ocean, but what’s in the leaking trench is likely just a part, maybe even just a fraction (?), of the total ongoing leakage.

But speculation about the complete scope of this mess aside, before I continue, perhaps I can already convince you that a trench with groundwater contaminated with some 11 PBq of Cs-134+137 is reasonably cause for concern.

  • As reported by by the prestigious scientific publication, ‘Nature’ magazine (Nature, 14 November 2012), the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, based in Massachusetts (USA), estimated, based on its monitoring between the accident happened in March 2011 and summer 2012 [meaning based on data only up to a year ago, not including recent deteriorations!] that, to quote:

“16.2 petabecquerels (1015becquerels) of radioactive caesium [Cs-137, I presume] leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere”.

So, roughly 33 PBq of Cs-137 was estimated to have leaked from the plant in total (ALL that was deposited over Japan, the Pacific, North America and beyond, as well as all that had directly leaked into the waters in the first year of the disaster), and now there’s over 11 PBq, a whopping 1/3rd of that previous estimated total, in a leaking trench near the beach, with groundwater and nearby ocean contamination levels spiking…

  • Another way to picture the gravity of these numbers:  Consider that ALL Chernobyl’s released Cesium-137, spread out across Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and across much of Europe and far beyond, amounted to about 85 PBq total.   [IAEA data on Chernobyl; see also this blogpost]

I think it’s not outside the scope of possibilities that, on top of what has already been released beyond the reactor site so far, that an entire INES-level 6 or 7 disaster is shaping up underground at this moment.  Could it be that we’re looking at the slow-motion beginnings of some type of ‘China Syndrome‘ (molten corium entering the soil underneath a reactor)?

Anyhow, to stick to my intention to rather underestimate than exaggerate (because obvious exaggeration and other easily debunked nonsensical hype make for too easy ammo for pro-nuclear madmen), I’ll just go with (an almost ridiculously conservative, but also easy math:) “1 meter deep water level,” which would leave just one cubic meter of contaminated water in one square meter surface area, so we’d be looking at a contamination level of 2.35 Tbq/m^2 (2,350,000,000,000 Bq per square meter).  This brings me to the following:

How does 2,350,000,000,000 Bq/m^2 fit into the fallout maps of Chernobyl 1986 and Fukushima 2011?

Check it out:  The last maximum color for Chernobyl is “above 1,480,000 Bq/m^2 and for Fukushima the final maximum map color is between 3,000,000 and 30,000,000 Bq/m^2.   So:  the guestimated 2,350,000,000,000 Bq/m^2 is more than 50 thousand times higher than 30,000,000 Bq/m^2.  To place that level of contamination in a perhaps more graspable visual perspective:

If we wanted to add the trench to the (note: outdated already) fallout maps for Japan or Chernobyl, to be consistent with the [TEPCO’s 3-10-30-100-…] logarithmic jumps in contamination values for every new color, we’d have to add at least 4 additional colors to the map legend.  To illustrate, I added 5 color blocks to my 2011 fallout maps legend comparison chart (to explore posts related to that see the Nuclear tab above and click the sub-tab Fukushima vs. Chornobyl).  Until they make such a map, this recently skyrocketing trench contamination level is quite literally “off the charts”:

The contamination of the Fukushima Daiichi trench,  practically on the beach aside the Pacific Ocean, put in perspective. Graphic by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.

The contamination of the Fukushima Daiichi trench, practically on the beach aside the Pacific Ocean, put in perspective. Graphic by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.

The different vertical lines in the presentation above are the colors used in different radiation fallout maps, found here.

Independent Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen weighs in on these latest findings:

  • Radio Interview on Radio New Zealand: Arnie Gundersen is interviewed by Wayne Brittenden for his program “Counterpoint”, July 28, 2013LISTEN HERE  [h/t ENEnews, which posted this transcript excerpt; [w/ my emphasis]:
Wayne Brittenden, host: […] This latest revelation, the leaking of radioactive water into the sea to harm marine and ultimately human life, hasn’t just happened — the revelation came a day after Prime Minister and nuclear power devotee Shinzo Abe was re-elected.  The bad news would’ve undoubtedly affected his chances. […]
At ~12:00 in:
Arnie Gundersen, former nuclear industry executive and now chief engineer at the Fairewinds organisation: “The net effect is: the Pacific near Japan, and likely the whole Pacific, over the next 5 years will have cesium levels 5 to 10 times higher than what they were at the peak of bomb testing.  So this is the biggest release of radiation to a body of water in the history of the world, much worse than Chernobyl. So the net effect is we’ve contaminated the biggest body of water on the planet […]”

I presume his dire prediction is based on the likely inability of TEPCO to quickly halt the leaking of this extremely highly contaminated water into the Pacific.

But perhaps you wonder the same: this “5 to 10 times higher than what they were at the peak of bomb testing”, how much radiation are we really talking about here?  What was the Pacific Ocean contamination at that peak?

While some areas of the Pacific measured as high as 80 Bq/m^3 (figure below), the overall peaking of the Pacific Ocean from global fallout is roughly 30 mBq/m^3, or 0.03 Bq/m^3 (as illustrated by the figure below this one).

Long-term changes of 137Cs concentrations in surface seawater in two latitudinal belts at 25°–40° N, divided at 180° E for the western (top) and the eastern (bottom) belt of the North Pacific Ocean. Source: "Fig 1" in pdf called "Biogeosciences Discuss., 10, 6377–6416, 2013 www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/10/6377/2013/ doi:10.5194/bgd-10-6377-2013 Biogeosciences © Author(s) 2013. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Climate Climate This discussion paper is/has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). of the Past Discussions Cesium, iodine and tritium in NW Pacific of the Past Please refer to the corresponding final paper in BG if available. Earth System Dynamics Earth System Dynamics waters – a comparison of the Fukushima impact with global fallout Discussions GeoscientificGeoscientific InstrumentationInstrumentation 12314 P. P. Povinec , M. AoyamaM,eDth.oBdsidadnudlph , R. Breier , K. BuesMsetlheord,s and Data Systemsˇ ́Data Systems C. C. Chang3,5, R. Golser6, X. L. Hou7, M. Jeskovsky1, A. J. T. Jull3,5,8, J. Kaizer1, 9 10 8 8 10 6 Discussions M.Nakano ,H.Nies ,L.Palcsu ,L.Papp ,M.K.Pham ,P.Steier ,and L. Y. Zhang7" CLICK IMAGE for (mostly already outdated) PDF document.

Long-term changes of 137Cs concentrations in surface seawater in two latitudinal belts at 25°–40° N, divided at 180° E for the western (top) and the eastern (bottom) belt of the North Pacific Ocean.
Source: “Fig 1” in pdf. called “Cesium, iodine and tritium in NW Pacific Waters – a comparison of the Fukushima impact with global fallout.” – CLICK IMAGE for full title, authors, and details of this informative (albeit mostly already outdated regarding Fukushima) PDF document.

Most of the data regarding Fukushima used in this document is from July 2011 and is no longer valid, but for the older data, this pdf proved useful.

This shows both measured data, and a simulation into the future based on data that we now know was limited (the Fukushima leaking was much greater and didn't end), so not to spread misinformation, I blacked the simulation part out.  Original caption of unaltered image read: "Fig. 8.137 Fig. 8. (a) A comparison of simulated face seawater in the NW Pacific Ocean (at 38° N, 164° E, Oyashio region) with global fallout data (after Nakano and Povinec (2003a) (top). (b) A comparison of simulated and observed 137 Cs levels in surface water (0-100 m) and at 200–300 m water depth with time (bottom). The seawater samples were collected along the 144° E line offshore Fukushima (Aoyama et al., 2013). The global fallout background (1Bqm−3) has already been deducted from the experi- mental data."   CLICK THROUGH for original PDF http://www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/10/6377/2013/bgd-10-6377-2013.pdf

This shows both measured data, and a simulation into the future based on data that we now know was limited (the Fukushima leaking was much greater and didn’t end), so not to spread misinformation, I blacked the simulation part out. Original caption of unaltered image read: “Fig. 8. (a) A comparison of simulated surface seawater in the NW Pacific Ocean (at 38° N, 164° E, Oyashio region) with global fallout data (after Nakano and Povinec (2003a) (top). (b) A comparison of simulated and observed 137 Cs levels in surface water (0-100 m) and at 200–300 m water depth with time (bottom). The seawater samples were collected along the 144° E line offshore Fukushima (Aoyama et al., 2013). The global fallout background (1Bqm−3) has already been deducted from the experi- mental data.”
CLICK THROUGH for original PDF
http://www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/10/6377/2013/bgd-10-6377-2013.pdf

–> At the peak of the nuclear bomb testing, Pacific Ocean Cs-137 contamination peaked around 30 mBq/m^3, or 0.03 Bq/m^3

Wikipedia: The volume of the Pacific Ocean, representing about 50.1 percent of the world’s oceanic water, has been estimated at some 2.8 billion cubic kilometers.

So to get to a contamination level of 0.15 Bq/m^3 (5 times the global fallout ocean radioactivity contamination peak), a total release of

calculation:   2.8 billion cubic kilometres ==> [x1000x1000x1000] = 2,800,000,000,000,000,000 m^3  ;  2,800,000,000,000,000,000 m^3 x 0.15 Bq/m^3 =  Bq = 420,000,000,000,000,000 = 420 PBq

Since at least 16.2 PBq already leaked into the ocean by summer 2012 [Nature, 14 November 2012], let’s just say (pretty reasonable estimation, I’d say) that a minimum of 20 PBq leaked until the situation worsened in April 2013, leaving an impressive 400 PBq to be spilled by summer 2018 for Gunderson’s dire prediction to come through.   That would be mean about half of what’s in that trench would leak into the ocean every month (not necessarily coming directly from that trench, of course, but the overall contamination of water reaching the Pacific), for half a decade, or total volume of such contaminated water of 400 Pbq total /11.75 Pbq/5000 m^3 = 170,213 cubic meters, over 5 years, or [170,213/5/365=93.27] about 93 such badly contaminated cubic meters per day.   Seems entirely possible to me… Consider the following:  According to data mentioned in this July 11, 2013 Global Research article, TEPCO’s already storing 400 tons of contaminated water PER DAY, and that groundwater is entering the complex at a rate of at least 54,000 gallons per day, which is 204,412 liter per day (= some whopping 200 tons/day of in-pouring groundwater, on top of water being actively pumped into the reactors for cooling!).  So we’re talking about 3% [5.6/200=2.8] of (becoming radioactive as it passes by molten corium?) water not getting stored and thus making its way to the ocean…

If the water flows, water contamination and failure to stop this continue unabated, then, yes, 5 years of continued leaking would indeed leave us with an entire Pacific Ocean 5 times more contaminated than at the peak of nuclear bomb testing in the early 1960s…  Given the speed with which this disaster has gotten significantly more troubling and complex in the past few months, perhaps that’s optimistic.

Conclusion

There’s always the wonderful spiritual advice of “Don’t come to conclusions”, but…

If I were Japan, or any nuclear regulatory agency with a hint of backbone and genuine care for the wellbeing of humanity…, I would declare an all-hands-on-deck ‘Planetary Emergency’; order a swift transfer of the response efforts management from Tepco to the Japanese military, with unlimited assistance welcomed from military and private nuclear experts from the US, Russia, France, the UK, Belgium, etc.; recruit workers internationally (r/t travel, room, board & stipend paid); have political and corporate powerhouses commit whatever-it-takes unlimited resources with explicit backing by the world’s central banks (Why not, right?  Consider the alternative: a radioactive health-hazardous planet, where getting cancer in the prime of one’s life becomes the norm rather than the exception.  Maybe I’m naive, but it could be a prospect even moneyed elites might be challenged to enjoy, yes?); as well as get NGOs, anthropologists, communication facilitators, etc. involved to assist in bringing about a clear and honest prompt information flow culture and disaster response operations transparency for accurate reporting.  I suppose we may have to overhaul the global political system while we’re at it.

But I’m not.  I’m just some blogger from Belgium in Portland, Oregon…  who – after months of restraint – made the terrible mistake of drinking a large amount of strong dark coffee… Hence this nite-time blog post.  I’m so very sorry to have burdened you with this heavy troubling news.  

To help you and I transition back to an entertained, profoundly in denial relaxed sweaty hot summer mode (if you’re that lucky and in the northern hemisphere), I share these videos of:  playful bears, a sexy hot ‘scream‘, cool mirror-curious leopards, Mars squaring Uranus, a great video about Ayahuasca, and that famous flying ‘Sail’ cat… 

I hope that, if nothing else, at least the last paragraph was somehow helpful.

Thank you!  And rock on…

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5 Responses to Red Alert – Fukushima-Daiichi NPP Crisis: EXTREME Radioactive Water Leaking into Ground; Unprecedented Radioactive Contamination of Pacific Ocean.

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  2. Pingback: Additional Ponderings Re. Pacific Ocean Ecological Crisis. Wondering about Effects of a speculated Fukushima-induced Polonium-210 (Alpha-emitting) surge’s on Sea Life. Iodine-131, Cobalt-60, Cesium-134 & Neobium-95 detected in Europe (May 2015!)

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