Fukushima Nuclear News Roundup (Aug. 2014): Some progress amidst worsening groundwater contamination.

Crestone, COlorado, 8000 ft, as seen from a little higher up.  Photo by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2014

Tiny Crestone, Colorado, 8000 ft, in the majestic San Luis Valley, as seen from a little higher up.  Photo by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2014.

Reporting from the Crestonian enclave on the slopes of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range of Southern Colorado, 8000 ft altitude. August 28, 2014.  Information enclosed may become outdated quickly; check Nuclear News (links) for latest.

Skip ahead to the ‘Conclusion’ for the summary if in a rush.

!-> DISCLAIMER <-!  

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“Do not build your homes below this point!”, a warning from the ancestors ignored by the disturbingly arrogant nuclear industry...  Photo by Ko Sasaki.  (Click image for Apr. 19, 2011 NY Times article, "Tsunami Warnings, Written in Stone"

“Do not build your homes below this point!”, a north-eastern Japan coastal warning from the ancestors of locals, was, like so many other common sense basics, shamefully ignored by the arrogant nuclear industry.   Photo by © Ko Sasaki. (Click image for Apr. 19, 2011 NY Times article, “Tsunami Warnings, Written in Stone”.

In this blogpost:   A latest news roundup about the situation and cleanup efforts of the ongoing Red Alert situation at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster Site:

  • (Important Side-note: do your personal inner work.)
  • Spent Fuel Pool 4 fuel removal progress:  over 75% done;
  •  The proposed ‘water bypass‘ and ‘ice wall‘ looks like they’re not working (yet?).  A brief look at that situation;
  • Serious contamination of groundwater and the Pacific Ocean continues…  A look at the latest measurements;
  • Conclusion

Important side-note:

I feel I need to reiterate, especially given this blogpost about the physical-scientific realities of Fukushima-Dai-ichi NPP), that the provided information does NOT help in any way (that I know of) to see deeper and clearer into the myriad aspects of this issue, including it also holding the option to be perceived as a powerful mirror to our collective/individual disconnect(s), and as such play a part in our healing and/or collective evolution.

People sometimes wonder what they can do to help turn all these various disasters around.  Well, in the vein of the above-mentioned: do your inner work and work on the most challenging parts first.

You could go do ayahuasca ceremonies, and you can go do long group meditation retreats.  But just hanging out and reading disaster news is just not going to cut it.   Yes, there is a very literal physical dimension to this, and the engineering challenges are part of this,  but there’s energy dynamics at play here that if left unaddressed, the physical attempts to deal with the larger global issue STAND NO CHANCE. (That’s my view, uttered before.)

!–>  For additional ways to energetically contribute in positive ways yourself (through prayer, envisioning, ceremony or otherwise), check the links added to my ‘Prayers for Fukushima’ painting post.

 Spent Fuel Pool 4 fuel removal progress:  77% done

Some good news.

Since November, 21, 2013, the day the first spent fuel cask was removed (which was – unrelated – just a week after I visited a beach north of Iwaki, Fukushima on Nov. 13, 2013,  <15 miles south of the reactors, for part of a series of shamanic attempts to help shift the troubling momentum of (shamanic-journey-tracked when I visited the Hanford Nuclear Site) of the underlying archetypal dynamics at work within the nuclear era), huge progress has been made towards preventing a SPF4 worst case scenario, also dubbed “The Largest Short-Term Threat to Humanity” (which I touched upon in April 2012 here and here).

Quake dangers.

Back then in 2012, some scientist(s) reportedly claimed that there was a 70% chance (Source: Audio – Arnold Gundersenof a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima in 2012, and a 98% chance that this could occur “within 3 years” (before summer 2015)…

Aside from the October 25, 2013 quake, which shook 328 km from Namie (close to where F1 is) with a 7.1 magnitude, (See “Oct 25, 2013: Japan 7.1M Quake 200 miles off Fukushima Coast … A quick look at Wind Directions & Radiation Monitors“), no major quakes have actually hit Fukushima itself in recent years.  Let’s hope that will remain so for many coming years, while TEPCO and international experts continue with the difficult task of decommissioning this leaking mess.

Progress made.

Major progress has been made, and if things continue to go well, this relatively small (but precarious and extremely important) aspect of the decommissioning process might be finished before 2015.

The status as of mid-July (2014) is:

– Already removed from the ‘Spent Fuel Pool #4’ atop the structurally unsafe reactor 4 building:  1188 assemblies (of which 1166 SPENT fuel; and 22 NEW units (non-irradiated fission material).  = 77% done

– Remains to be removed:  345 assembles (of which 165 spent fuel units and 180 new ones). 

The removal process is scheduled to resume in the first half of September 2014.

Now, as great as this sounds, even when 100% has been transferred to a safer cooling pool, we’re not out of the woods yet.  (With ‘we’ I mean carbon-based life forms that can suffer DNA damage and various afflictions due to exposure to the ionizing radiation from ingesting or inhaling radioactive contaminants, potentially for many generations to come.)   Not for a millenium or a hundred millenia.  Every nuclear power plant and waste storage site is likely to remain a ticking time bomb for a very long while.  See also Why I Oppose Nuclear Energy.  (I give just five reasons, the NIRS gives 11 reasons to oppose nukes.)

This is one of the insanities of nuclear energy (and weapons) production:  much of the nuclear waste needs to be safely stored for many centuries: for the relatively “short-lived” waste (less than a millenium, such as common manmade radioCesiums-134/137,  Strontium-89/90, Americium-241, etc.), and, if no scientific breakthroughs presents themselves soon, then the waste’s long-lived radioisotopes (such as Plutonium-239, with its half-life of some 24,000 years, implying it needs safeguarding for 240,000 years (at least 10 half life cycles) – Greenpeace) will likely remain problematic for what amounts to ‘eternity’ in human-society terms, requiring the waste to be securely stored in geologically stable locations (where extreme weather, massive climate changes (including major ice age glaciations and interglacial peaks), meteor impacts, as well as economic and civilization collapse won’t affect their storage safety.  I remain highly skeptical of meeting all these highly-unlikely-but-not-impossible scenario requirements. (The nuclear industry, however, spins a rosy public relations picture, of course…).

Anyhow, it’s good to see meaningful progress being made on SFP4.

Underground Water-Flow-Shielding ‘Ice Wall’ facing Issues.

Some mixed news

At least 400 tons of groundwater flows into the stricken reactor buildings EACH DAY where it comes into contact with extremely contaminated melted nuclear reactor core materials, and then leaves the building, highly contaminated,

In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 AP photo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, third right, wearing a red helmet, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono, fourth right, during his inspection tour to the tsunami-crippled plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, following a series of radioactive water leak from the tanks. A government panel proposed additional measures to lessen the contaminated water crisis at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant, saying Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 that current plans are not enough to prevent the risk of a disaster.  Source: AP (Click to access)

In this  Sept. 19, 2013 AP photo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, third right, wearing a red helmet, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono, fourth right, during his inspection tour to the tsunami-crippled plant near Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, following a series of radioactive water leaks from the tanks.  A government panel proposed additional measures to lessen the contaminated water crisis at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant, saying Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 that current plans are not enough to prevent the risk of a disaster.  Source image: AP (Click to access full article)

through cracks and leaking tunnels into the ground, continuing to mix with ground water and eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean.

On the front of battling water contamination various efforts have been in the works this year.  Among them, the building of an underground frozen wall to keep groundwater from pouring into the cracked basements (where some of the molten fuel is speculated to be), is not going smoothly, yet continues, albeit slowly through trial and error.

Image: Kyodo News, via Associated Press, via New York Times' article (Apr. 29, 2013), "Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant" (Click to read)

Image: Kyodo News, via Associated Press, via New York Times’ article (Apr. 29, 2013), “Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant” (Click to read)

A portion of the contaminated water gets pumped out and thus does not end up in the ocean.  This part of the contaminated water ends up in an ever-growing field of giant storage tanks (meant to be very temporary and as such not they were not designed to withstand massive earthquakes, and are already leaking…).   The tank farm (part shown right) suffers small and large leaks on a regular basis.  Some of the worst ones include a 300-ton (300,000-liter, 80,000-gallon) leak, which probably began nearly a month and a half before it was discovered Aug. 19, 2013 (Which was so severe it was given its own designation on the INES nuclear disaster scale, as a ‘Level 3’ incident);

Over 2.5 Chernobyl-total-fallout-equivalents are stored in these water tanks alone [by now that is likely over 3x the Chernobyl-total-radioCesium], as was reported by CNN end of August 2013 via Mycle Schneider, an independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy based in Paris and  lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report:  

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/30/why-fukushima-is-worse-than-you-think/

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/30/why-fukushima-is-worse-than-you-think/  The amount of Strontium is said to be 30 to 100 higher…

The ‘bypass’ isn’t working yet…

TEPCO announced that it was going to built a groundwater bypass that would reduce the amount of groundwater by up to 100 tons per day and began pumping operations in May 2014 in hopes of extracting groundwater before it entered reactor buildings and redirecting it into the Pacific Ocean.  Sadly, they have yet to see any real effect from the operation on water levels in the reactor buildings.

See NHK World: TEPCO: Groundwater bypass showing limited effects.

SOURCE: PHYS.ORG June 2, 2014, "Japan to start building underground ice wall at Fukushima"

SOURCE: PHYS.ORG June 2, 2014, “Japan to start building underground ice wall at Fukushima”

Ice wall isn’t fully working yet…

As mentioned already above, TEPCO also plans to build an ‘ice wall’ to seal the reactor buildings off from the remaining flow of ground water.  (For details on the ideas behind the plan, see The Conversation‘s (July 2014) ‘Why are Fukushima engineers creating walls of ice under a contaminated nuclear plant?‘)    

In June 2014, TEPCO was, also sadly, forced to admit that its ‘ice wall’ operation was not yet successful (Jun. 17, 2014, The Guardian (UK), “Fukushima operator struggles to build ice wall to contain radioactive water”; and now comes the most recent admission of failure:  The Telegraph (UK), Aug 20, 2014Fukushima radioactive water ‘ice plug’ plan fails” because… :

“…the temperature inside the section did not fall low enough despite the use of large amounts of coolants, officials said at a meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, acknowledging that the strategy did not work. …” – See The Japan Times, Aug 20, 2014,  Tepco unable to create ice wall to contain radioactive water at Fukushima No. 1

!–> Sources checked re. the ice wall fiasco also included these snippets from Ex-SKF Enformable, & ENEnews.

!–>  It does look, however, that it isn’t a complete failure, and further experiments are in the works:   The Asahi Shimbun, Aug 20, 2014, in “TEPCO plans to add sealant to ice walls to halt flow of radioactive water” reports:

“[…] Ninety percent of the radioactive water at the connecting points was successfully frozen, but the remaining 10 percent continued to flow into the trenches. TEPCO concluded that the ice walls are insufficient.  The utility said it will test the effectiveness of concrete, adhesive sodium silicate glass, iron sand and various absorption agents as an additional barrier to halt the remaining flow.  TEPCO will decide by mid-September on which materials are most effective.

During the Aug. 19 NRA meeting, Shigeaki Tsunoyama, former president of the University of Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture, asked TEPCO to consider measures other than the ice walls. […]”  Read more.

!–> More about the proposed attempts to tackle this major problem, see SimplyInfo’s “TEPCO To Try Two New Tactics To Stem Radioactive Tide At Fukushima Daiichi” (Aug 20, 2014).

And thus… for the time being… the reality sadly remains that much of this terribly contaminated groundwater is on its way to and/or entering the Pacific Ocean…  As The Yomiuri Shimbun (which the Japan Times calls a “pro-nuclear” newspaper – (h/t ENEnews) ), put it on Aug. 20, 2014:

  “The seriousness of the current situation at Fukushima can’t be understated” 

!–> A pre-Fukushima 2008 flashback to the ocean situation after the era of ‘Nuclear War against the Earth herself’ (aka “the nuclear testing era”) and post-Sellafield and post-Chernobyl, to put 76,000,000 Bq/m^3 radioCesium (in F1 groundwater 50 meters from Pacific Ocean shore – see data below) in perspective:  http://ourradioactiveocean.org/

Bqbecquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second);  /m^3 = per cubic meter, which is per 1,000 liters.   See my Radiation Units and Conversions page for more.

From 'How radioactive is Our Ocean', by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who captioned this image with:  The background level of radiation in oceans and seas varies around the globe. Measured in atomic disintegrations per second (Becquerels) of cesium-137 in a cubic meter of water, this variation becomes readily apparent. The primary source of cesium-137 has been nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean, but some regions have experienced additional inputs. The Irish Sea in 2008 showed elevated levels compared to large ocean basins as a result of radioactive releases from the Sellafield reprocessing facility at Seacastle, U.K. Levels in the Baltic and Black Seas are elevated due to fallout from the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. By comparison, EPA drinking water standard for cesium-137 is 7,400 Bq/m3. (Data courtesy of MARiS/IAEA and CMER; Illustration by Jack Cook, courtesy Coastal Ocean Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) - See more at: http://ourradioactiveocean.org/#sthash.U6kegOz3.dpuf  SOURCE: http://ourradioactiveocean.org/

From ‘How radioactive is Our Ocean’, by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who captioned this image with:  The background level of radiation in oceans and seas varies around the globe. Measured in atomic disintegrations per second (Becquerels) of cesium-137 in a cubic meter of water, this variation becomes readily apparent. The primary source of cesium-137 has been nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean, but some regions have experienced additional inputs. The Irish Sea in 2008 showed elevated levels compared to large ocean basins as a result of radioactive releases from the Sellafield reprocessing facility at Seacastle, U.K. Levels in the Baltic and Black Seas are elevated due to fallout from the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. By comparison, EPA drinking water standard for cesium-137 is 7,400 Bq/m3. (Data courtesy of MARiS/IAEA and CMER; Illustration by Jack Cook, courtesy Coastal Ocean Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) – See more at: http://ourradioactiveocean.org/#sthash.U6kegOz3.dpuf SOURCE: http://ourradioactiveocean.org/

(Sad to have to point out:  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) unfortunately somewhat undermines their own scientific credibility by belittling the dangers of manmade fallout radioisotopes by comparing (cumulative-over-time when ingested!) momentary in-air (or shielded-in-water) doses with external effective doses such as from one-time dental X-rays, and thus parroting the nuclear establishment’s disgusting dose- and other deceptions, even continuing to spread the fallacy that fission-made Cs-137 and natural K-40 are comparable as such.  (Examples can be found in most their press releases and interviews.)  Anyhow…)

Radioactive Contamination of Groundwater and Pacific Ocean Continues…

First a look at the on-site groundwater situation (and a word about Fukushima’s ‘hot particles’):

More than two years after the March 11, 2011 9.0M quake & subsequent tsunami wrecked 3 nuclear reactors and a jam-packed spent fuel pool at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, its operator TEPCO finally admitted what they had known for years: they had been lying through their teeth about the situation being “under control”.   They had known all along that massive amounts, an estimated 400 tons of groundwater, had been entering the basements of the containment buildings, were much of the still-very-hot melted nuclear fission cores are believed to remain simmering on (and in, and maybe below) the concrete floor.

80% by weight of this particle found in Nagoya was made up of pure reactor core materials.  SOURCE:  http://nsnbc.me/2014/05/08/hot-particle-fukushima-reactor-core-found-nagoya-460-kilometers-fukushima-daiichi-power-plant/

80% by weight of this particle found in Nagoya was made up of pure reactor core materials. SOURCE: http://nsnbc.me/2014/05/08/hot-particle-fukushima-reactor-core-found-nagoya-460-kilometers-fukushima-daiichi-power-plant/

Questions about the precise location and condition of the molten cores remain unanswered.  (See Aug 20, 2014 NHK World – Nuclear Watch Report about the newest attempts to find out where-oh-where the molten messes might be…).   Only now are technologies in the works that could potentially help locate where the molten chunks of reactor cores are, those that were not blown out of the containment building as ‘black dust’ or ‘hot particles’, that is…

ZeroHedge (April 25, 2014) summerizes that  aspect:

They’ve Found the Missing Fukushima Nuclear Cores … Scattered All Over Japan. […] Indeed, “hot particles” with extremely high levels of radiation – 7 billion,  40 billion , and even 40 billion billion Bq/kg – have been found all over the Fukushima region, and hundreds of miles away […]  How did material from the cores get dispersed so far? Remember, there was a huge explosion at reactor number 1 , and an even bigger explosion at reactor number 3.”  

Similar reactor core substances were also found in in Nagoya, in Tokyoand even in Norway’s Arctic, meaning that without a doubt part of the pulverized reactor cores’ new and spent fuel was literally blown into the atmosphere as dust, something TEPCO has yet to officially admit even happened.

(Sidenote:  A “hot particle” is a tiny radioactive fragment often measuring much less than 1 millimeter in size and can cause extremely high exposures to localized areas in a short amount of time.  It is produced by the shattering of materials that are either naturally radioactive or have become radioactive by exposure to neutron radiation.  As such, hot particles are almost always associated with nuclear weapon detonations.  Their dispersion as part of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is part of what makes this catastrophe unprecedented and far worse than Chernobyl) – See also Hot Particles & The Cold War, IAEA 1998

Regarding ‘neutron radiation’ having occurred at the Fukushima Nuclear disaster site, a flashback to March 2011:

SOURCE:  http://science.time.com/2011/03/30/has-fukushimas-reactor-no-1-gone-critical/

Bits and pieces of troubling news about all this continue to be reported by various outlets listed on my Nuclear News (links) page, where reporters and commenters continue piecing together the omissions and exposing the distortions.

All in all, from what I can tell checking those sources at a glance, the extremely serious contamination of local groundwater continues, essentially unabated, not only with very little progress being made to stop that, compared to a year ago, but it’s actually still getting worse… ;-(  (See below for some latest data).  The contamination of the Pacific Ocean also continues with enormous amounts of Cesium-137, Strontium-90, and Tritium making into the Pacific port and shore waters, from where they dilute outward.  But the relatively good news is, that the amount that makes it into the Ocean might be on the decline as a result of the efforts to contain the groundwater contamination.  Details below.

For a rough idea of how extremely serious that radioactive water situation remains, see my spring 2014 blogpost, “INES-8? Leaking Fukushima Trench Water Still Extremely Contaminated, and especially this July 31, 2013 blogpost:   !–>  “Red Alert – Fukushima-Daiichi NPP Crisis: EXTREME Radioactive Water Leaking into Ground; Unprecedented Radioactive Contamination of Pacific Ocean,“  from which this (below) infographic I made last summer, that intends to put the level of contamination in the trench in perspective by comparing it to Fukushima and Chernobyl’s worst fallout deposition.  Keep in mind the trench situation and, worse, spreading of this extreme groundwater contamination has worsened:

The contamination of the Fukushima Daiichi trench, practically on the beach aside the Pacific Ocean, put in perspective. Graphic by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013. SOURCE:  https://allegedlyapparent.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/alert-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-crisis-radioactive-water-pacific-ocean/

The contamination of the Fukushima Daiichi trench, practically on the beach aside the Pacific Ocean, put in perspective: OFF THE SCALE compared to regional max contamination of Fukushima or Chernobyl.    Graphic by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.
More details about this presentation at the SOURCE: https://allegedlyapparent.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/alert-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-crisis-radioactive-water-pacific-ocean/  (& Read my DISCLAIMER if you want to quote me!)

Here’s a short selection of additional NEW (2014) radiation groundwater and ocean measurements that indicate, all efforts notwithstanding, the water contamination on-site is STILL GETTING WORSE:

“[…] The water was drawn from the lower permeable layer 20-meter deep […] from an observation hole newly dug in preparation for monitoring the frozen soil impermeable wall that is to surround the reactor/turbine buildings of Reactors 1-4.  Cesium and all-beta (that includes strontium) are below detection levels, but tritium in 4-digit Bq per liter is apparently not what TEPCO has expected (or so they claim).  TEPCO’s handout for the press on 6/24/2014 is about the observation hole No.H25J7 between the Reactor 3 turbine building and the Reactor 4 turbine building, whose water sample taken on June 10 was found with 140 Bq/L of tritium:    However, […] The water sample drawn from the frozen soil wall observation hole Fz-5 between the Reactor 1 turbine building and the Reactor 2 turbine building on June 4 [2014] was found with 4,700 Bq/L of tritium […]”  read full Ex-SKF report;

  • JIJI PRESS reported on June 18, 2014:  New Groundwater Concern:

(h/t ENERGY News, June 25 2014  “Radioactive contamination of groundwater at [Fukushima Daiichi] is far from being under control […] the source of contamination remains unclear and new record levels of radioactive substances have been detected in groundwater […], according to TEPCO.  At the most polluted well, located east of the No. 2 reactor [there’s] 860,000 becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances such as strontium-90.[…]” [ENEnews’ links did not work, so this is quoted from ENEnews.]

(Previous records were reported in ‘Bq Per Liter‘, so I assume this means 860,000 Bq/L of Beta-only, which would be 860,000,000 Bq/m^3 Beta-only (likely mostly Sr-90).   (Have a look at the above graphic for Cesium and remember that Sr-90, as a leukemia-causing ‘bone-seeker’, is even more worrisome than Cs-137…   No word in that newscast about how much radioCesiums and other radionuclides are also in that same water, though…)

“[…] The biggest risk is the trench water. Until that matter is addressed, it will be difficult to proceed with other decommissioning work,“ Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said on Wednesday at his weekly news conference. “It appears that they are getting off track,” he told reporters.  Tepco has been trying to remove some 11,000 metric tons of water that contains dangerous radioactive materials such as uranium and plutonium from a trench that runs from the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s No.2 reactor building.  […]”  Read in full.

SOURCE:  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14021301-e.pdf

Location: F1, underground water observation hole No.1-13, on Feb 12, 2014 @ 12:10p JST.  Measurements:  

Cesium-134: 22,000 Bq/liter   = 22,000,000 Bq/m^3

Cesium-137: 54,000 Bq/liter   = 54,000,000 Bq/m^3

-> This is an indicator of the spread of the highly contaminated trench water through the local/on-site upper aquifer:  The radioCesiums 134+137 combo for that on-site “well-water” (in February 2014) was 76,000,000 Bq/m^3, and as NHK-World notes, this is just 50 meters from the ocean shore.

It is understood -as far as I figure- that this expanding underground radioactive water cloud is continuing to slowly making its way to the Pacific Ocean…  For now, it may still just be “slowing seeping” into the Pacific (at rather extreme levels, shown at the end), but if not stopped it would turn into a disaster of a whole other magnitude.  Even the Nuclear Regulation Authority is  increasingly alarmed.  They all know it is only a matter of time before this disaster sweeps its venomous tale into the fisheries (in far more dramatic ways than it already has) which so much of the world depends on for seafood…  Unless, of course, they pull of containment somehow.  

A look at measurement data of ocean contamination:

First a look closest to the plant, data as of August 19, 2014:  The leaking leaves up to 12,000 Bq/m^3 of Cs-137 in the shore waters.   Details about the most recent measurements of these Japanese coastal waters north and south within a mile from the reactors: http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2014/f1issues190814.pdf

These August 2014 measurements are below the ‘new record’ of spring 2014, when a new record was set at 30,700 Bq/m^3 of Cs-134+137 combined, see ENEnews, April 14, 2014, “Radioactive Spike in Ocean off Fukushima: Highest Cs-137 levels at location since 2011 — 22,000 Bq/m³ [Cs-137] in Pacific outside port — Japan notifies IAEA of ‘elevated’ readings.

The full record shows, however, that the releases are not steady, with many days showing ND (non detected = below detectable levels): http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/seawater-newest01-e.csv 

As terrible as this ocean shore water & ocean contamination is, it is not even close to the severity of contamination very nearby in the ground, discussed above.   On many days that radioCesium is detected, US EPA employees wouldn’t even mind drinking it, if it weren’t so salty (and if they ignored all other contamination, such as Sr-90):  The US EPA’s Cs-137 drinking water standard is 7.41 Bq/liter or 7,410 Bq/m^3.  Japan and the World Health Organization allow 10 Bq/L or 10,000 Bq/m^3. (See SAFECAST’s Fukushima Across the Pacific, Jan 11, 2014).

All that means, as I understand this, is that if you were to drink (or swim in) such radioactive water, your added risk is só low, that if you were to develop cancer or other diseases (assumed from this radiotoxic exposure) that the certainty with which this can be linked to that specific exposure is extrémely low.   That’s all that means.  It doesn’t mean it won’t contribute to illness or difficulties in the near or very distant future.  

On a side-note, while most Thyroid cancer doesn’t show up until at least 5 years after exposure to radioIodines (like I-131, I-129,…), though when well-monitored it can be found even shortly after, and it has also been documented to take decades in many cases.

Same goes for other manmade radioisotopes and their effects: most are cumulative and take time to manifest, with various other factors making risk assessment challenging. (This is also touched upon in my Radiation Exposure Health Effects page.)  

Thus, almost everything US, EU and Japanese health officials say about the “safety” of these manmade radioactive contaminants, banana comparisons and all, is unscientific (though sometimes scientific-sounding) criminal propaganda.   

 Inside the F1 port, the situation is similar:

  • The Asahi Shimbun reported, Oct 13, 2013, “Cesium contamination increasing in water at port of Fukushima plant“, noting [w/ my emphasis], Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced Oct. 12 that it has detected a rising level of radioactive cesium in seawater sampled from the mouth of the harbor of the devastated Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, measuring a combined 10 becquerels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 per liter.”

= 10,000 Bq/m^3 Cs-134+137 combo (the WHO maximum norm for drinking water)

  • NuclearNews.net, May 19, 2014, in “Radiation levels in sea off Fukushima at record high,” relayed:  “Record high radiation in seawater off Fukushima plant, Japan Times, May 17, 2014 Radiation has spiked to all-time highs at five monitoring points in waters adjacent to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power station, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday.  The measurements follow similar highs detected in groundwater at the plant. Officials of Tepco, as the utility is known, said the cause of the seawater spike is unknown.  Three of the monitoring sites are inside the wrecked plant’s adjacent port […]

At one sampling point in the port, between the water intakes for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, 1,900 becquerels per liter of tritium was detected Monday, up from a previous high of 1,400 becquerels measured on April 14, Tepco said.  Nearby, also within the port, tritium levels were found to have spiked to 1,400 becquerels, from a previous high of 1,200 becquerels.   And at a point between the water intakes for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, seawater sampled Thursday was found to contain 840 becquerels of strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, and other beta ray-emitting isotopes, up from a previous record of 540 becquerels. […]”

1,900 Bq/L Tritium = 1,900,000  Bq/m^3 Tritium

840 Bq/L BETA (mostly Strontium-90) =  840,000 Bq/m^3 BETA (mostly Sr-90) in the port’s seawater, which mixes with the ocean water (!!!).

!–> As SimplyInfo relayed Aug 26, 2014: “TEPCO Drops Bombshell About Sea Releases; 8 Billion Bq Per Day (lightly edited by me, with my emphasis):

TEPCO made the startling admission today at a press conference that the plant is leaking 8 billion bequerels per day. (8 gigabequerels)

Entering the Pacific Ocean (August 2014):

5 billion Bq of Sr-90 / day
2 billion Bq of Cs-137 / day
150 billion Bq of Tritium / day

This is the ongoing daily release to the Pacific.  These release numbers are also within the realm of what some oceanographers have been warning about since last year, that there was an ongoing and considerable leak to the sea.   According to journalist Ryuichi Kino TEPCO said this may be due to failings of some sort within the “glass” wall at the sea front. This is an underground wall made in the soil by injecting a solidifying agent to block water flow.  […]

Chart showing the relative success in reducing the amount of Sr-90, Cs-137 and Tritium gushing into the F1 port (Harbor), comparing 2013 and 2014:

The chart that can be seen here, shows the releases until 2014 were considerably higher.  Releases dropped in 2014, likely due to work underway to try to block the leaking contaminated water.

See more details and latest updates at SimplyInfo.  (H/T to Fukushima-Diary who broke the initial story.)

Conclusion

– Major progress is being made on emptying Spent Fuel Pool #4 (77% done); the remainder of the year is critical;

– The on-site (local) ground water contamination is worsening still; Most troubling are significantly rising Strontium-90 levels.

– New records for Pacific Ocean contamination in the port and in the nearby ocean shore water were set in 2014;  Massive amounts of dangerous radionuclides (Cs-137, Sr-90, etc.) continue to enter the Pacific Ocean, dampening the raltively good news that the yearly amounts are on the decline at last (2014 compared to 2013).  The additional amounts of Sr-90 being added to the Pacific has luckily begun a decrease too, also compared to 2013, but as-is, the cumulatively releases are thus still increasing.  Thus, the likely eventual cumulative impact (of all these releases combined) is bound to affect many species and lead to more cancers in humans in the coming decades.  Widespread testing remains extremely limited.  For very health-hazardous but rarely-talked about radioisotopes such as Cobalt-60, almost no data can be found.

– The year-to-year contamination of the Pacific may be seeing some more significant improvements in the coming year due to the various ongoing attempts to keep the contamination on-site.  

I am confident that the goodwill, strength, ingenuity and perseverance of the Japanese and world community will ultimately prevail and harmonize this heart-wrenching ecological disturbance.  My heart goes out to all affected.

!-> DISCLAIMER <-! 

Hope this was helpful.

(I’ll likely have a look into the US/Canada coastal situation later this year.]

—- —- —- —- —-

[Last edited: Sept 1, 2014]

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