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Page added on April 6, 2013

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Fukushima: Massive Leaks Continuing On a Daily Basis … For Years On End

Enviroment

You may have heard that Tepco – the operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plants – announced a large leak of radioactive water.

 

You may have heard that the cooling system in the spent fuel pools at Fukushima has failed for a second time in a month.

This is newsworthy stuff … but completely misses the big picture.

Japanese experts say that Fukushima is currently releasing up to 93 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium into the ocean each day.

How much radiation is this?

A quick calculation shows that it is about ten thousand times less than the amounts released by Chernobyl during the actual fire at the Russian nuclear plant.   But the Chernobyl fire only last 10 days … and the Fukushima release has been ongoing for more than 2 years so far.

Indeed, Fukushima has already spewed much more radioactive cesium and iodine than Chernobyl. The amount of radioactive cesium released by Fukushima was some 20-30 times higher than initially admitted.

Fukushima also pumped out huge amounts of radioactive iodine 129 – which has a half-life of 15.7 million years. Fukushima has also dumped up to 900 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium-90 – which is a powerful internal emitter which mimics calcium and collects in our bones – into the ocean.

And the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl … and so could keep leaking for decades, centuries or millenia.

Tepco graphics of the Fukushima plants even appear to show water directly flowing from the plant to the ocean.  And see this.

The bottom line is that the reactors have lost containment.  There are not “some leaks” at Fukushima.  “Leaks” imply that the reactor cores are safely in their containment buildings, and there is a small hole or two which need to be plugged.   But scientists don’t even know where the cores of the reactors are.   That’s not leaking. That’s even worse than a total meltdown.

So what are the consequences for people living outside of Fukushima itself?

They could be quite severe, indeed.

Washington’s Blog



6 Comments on "Fukushima: Massive Leaks Continuing On a Daily Basis … For Years On End"

  1. Kenz300 on Sat, 6th Apr 2013 9:55 pm 

    Fukushima 2 years on: ‘Nuclear fallout impact bigger than established’ – YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZpsFxeBSBw

  2. diemos on Sat, 6th Apr 2013 11:06 pm 

    I-129 is always present at about the 0.1 ppm level compared to stable iodine.

    It’s produced in cosmic ray interactions with Xenon in the upper atmosphere.

    Iodine in seawater: 50 microgm /l
    Volume of the ocean: 1.3e9 km^3 = 1.3e21 liters

    All of the iodine in the ocean: 50 microgm/l * 1.3e21 liters = 65e15 gm
    All of the naturally occurring iodine-129 in the ocean: 65e15gm*0.1e-6 = 6.5e9gm = 6.5e6 kg or 7165 tons.

    Fuel load of an average reactor: 100 tons of Uranium (4% U235). If all of the uranium-235 fissioned (it doesn’t but that’s conservative) you would produce 0.04 tons of I-129. If four reactors dumped all of their fuel load in the ocean it would add at most 0.16 tons to the 7165 tons that are already there naturally.

    Negligible, compared to what’s already there.

  3. diemos on Sat, 6th Apr 2013 11:10 pm 

    The human body has about 50 milligrams of iodine in it of which 60% is in the thyroid.

    I-129 in the thyroid: 50 mg * 0.1ppm * 60% = 3e-9 gm
    Decay rate I-129: 1.8e-4 Curie/gm = 540e-15 Curie = 20e-3 Becquerels (about one disintegration every 50 seconds.

    Energy deposition: 0.064 MeV/disintegration = 1.27e-3 MeV/s = 2.0e-16 Joules/s
    Mass of thyroid: 30 gm max
    dose: 2.0e-16 Joules/s/0.03kg = 6.6e-15 Joules/kg/s or 6.6e-15 Sv / s or 210e-6 mSV / year.

    Normal background dose to the thyroid: about 3.5 mSv/year
    Component from I-129 in the environment: 0.00021 mSv/year

    If 175,000,000 fukushima type reactors dumped all their fuel in the ocean it would increase the concentration of I-129 in the environment by a factor of 1000.

    That would increase the thyroid radiation dose to 2.1 mSv/year or roughly where you would start to be mildly concerned about the increased radiation dose.

  4. BillT on Sun, 7th Apr 2013 2:41 am 

    diemos, but there is over 200,000 TONS of spent fuel around the world and ALL of it contains that bad iodine. Not just ‘100 tons’ as you use in your math. That quantity is expected to double by 2020.

    Something tells me that you work for the nuclear industry … and don’t want to see them all shut down. I do and now!

  5. diemos on Sun, 7th Apr 2013 3:33 am 

    I don’t work for the nuclear industry.

    I’m just keenly in favor of keeping the lights on and the convenience stores full of cheeze doodles until I am safely in the grave.

    Tell me how we do that without nukes and I’ll cheerfully help you shut them down.

  6. Kenz300 on Sun, 7th Apr 2013 11:28 am 

    Wind, solar, wave energy, geothermal and second generation biofuels made from algae, cellulose and waste are the future.

    Alternative energy plants like wind and solar require NO EVACUATION ZONES.

    Nuclear energy is too costly and too dangerous and needs to be phased out. The cost of decommissioning and the storage of nuclear waste FOREVER is a price too high to pay to boil water. The world can not afford the huge environmental costs of nuclear waste.

    We need to learn lessons from the disaster at Fukishima and CHernobyl.

    Japan using Fukushima people as human Guinnea Pigs – YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr2PmjdpLqM

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