Saturday, February 22, 2014

Contaminated Water at Fukushima Daiichi Threatens World's Oceans

Here is a link to an interview I did with Voice of Russia Thursday.

The interview was supposed to be aired live, but we had so many connection problems that they made a rough transcript, which is the article (with a somewhat misleading title 

Voice of Russia is still connected to the government so I find it interesting that the Russians are pushing for international cooperation around Fukushima. I think they are most concerned about the contaminated water.


Can you comment on TEPCO statement about 100 tons of radioactive water leaking this week from the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s tank? Does it show Japanese authorities’ inability to contain the Fukushima crisis?

There was large scale water contamination in March of 2011 and subsequent ‘spills’:

Tepco says up to 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 40 trillion becquerels of tritium entered the ocean via groundwater, Between May 2011 and August 2013

I DON’T TRUST Tepco’s figures but research estimates of total ocean contamination vary widely. Here is one study’s conclusions:

Comparison between modelling and measurement of marine dispersion, environmental half-time and 137Cs inventories after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. P. Bailly du Bois, P. Garreau, P. Laguionie, I. Korsakissok,  Conclusion from study

Contamination of the marine environment following the accident at the FDNPP represents the most important direct liquid release of artificial radioactivity into the sea ever known: 27 PBq for direct releases (Bailly du Bois et al. 2012b) and around 3 PBq for atmospheric deposition (this study).

SOURCES OF OCEAN CONTAMINATION: leakage from storage tanks and contaminated ground water seeping, or perhaps gushing, into ocean:

1. STORAGE TANKS: Water is leaking from 1000 or so water storage tanks at the site [1].

Beta radiation readings of 230 million becquerels per liter were taken in a water sample collected today near the H6 tank area this week:

Beta radiation readings of 230 million becquerels per liter were taken in a sample collected from a gutter on top of the leaked tank at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, according to a statement from the Tokyo-based utility. Japan’s safety limit for radioactive materials in drinking water is 10 becquerels per liter, according to the health ministry. tepco Finds New Leak of Radioactive Water at Fukushima Site By Masumi Suga, Yuji Okada and Jacob Adelman 2014-02-20,

Water is highly contaminated because TEPCO’s filtration systems cannot remove tritium and strontium. Storage of water with very high beta readings at the site is reaching capacity at over 360,000 tons in storage as of February of 2014. [ii]

TEPCO announced at a January 2014 press conference that contaminated water in storage tanks is now producing Bremsstrahlung radiation, which contributes to rising atmospheric radiation levels at the Daiichi site [iii].

2. GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION. Additional sources:

Underground river saturates site, coming into contact with melted fuel in breached containment vessel and building up in reactor building.[iv] The river runs at about 1000 tons daily, with TEPCO announcing that approximately 400 tons of it penetrates reactor buildings 1 – 4. The ground water saturation is contributing to ground liquefaction, which poses direct risks to the reactor buildings and common spent fuel pool [v].

Workers also continue to inject approximately 400 tons daily into reactors to keep melted fuel cool

ADDITIONAL SOURCE of CONTAMINATION? NHK documentary also suggests an additional source of water contamination: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis:


Ground water contamination is extraordinarily high, with the well between the ocean and unit 1 measuring a record 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90 alone in July 2013 [vi]. TEPCO stated the total bequerels per liter is likely 10 million when all beta ray sources are included [vii].

TEPCO had originally interpreted the July 2013 beta tests as indicating 700,000 becquerel per liter of strontium, but revised the figure upwards to 5 million in February of 2014. The revised figure of 5 million is 170,000 times the permissible level. TEPCO was accused of deliberately withholding extraordinarily high contamination levels [viii].

Trends have been sharply upwards in strontium, tritium and cesium contamination levels from July through February of 2014 [ix].

TEPCO officials said that they do not believe that contaminated water reached the nearby Pacific Ocean. Should we believe them? Will they just try to avoid sparking a wide public outcry over the matter? 

Should not believe.


How long will the Fukushima crisis persist? What efforts are needed to effectively resolve it? 

The spiking strontium levels in ground and ocean water samples fit the projections of German study

A German study, ‘Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure After Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,’ predicted that strontium contamination levels would rise exponentially years after a full melt-through located adjacent to a river:

The highest radionuclide concentration of approx. 10^10 Bq/m3 is reached by Sr-90 after 5000 days. The effective equivalent dose for an adult is above 10 the second power Sv/a. After a prolonged period of about 10,0000 days, Cs-137 reaches a maximum of about 10 to the eight power Bq/m3. The effective equivalent dose for this radioncuclide is approximately 1 sv/a. [x]

We can expect years of spiking radiation levels in ocean water, especially of strontium, if the German scenario is predictive for Fukushima Daiichi.

Additional atmospheric radiation is also guaranteed. The radioactive water stored at the site is emitting x-rays, and beta and gamma radiation.

As far as breakdowns at the NPPs are concerned, do you think that moving away from nuclear energy and shutting down all nuclear plants could be a decision to resolve these breakdowns in a separate country?

The world’s energy problems are real but nuclear is not a sustainable way forward. First, nuclear power is extraordinarily costly and government subsidies required to finance and insure nuclear are market distorting. We see that in the US decision to offer $8.3 billion in subsidies to Southern Co. Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, despite cost-overruns and delays.

The problems of spent fuel storage and nuclear waste more generally has not been resolved and already we see that the contamination caused by 20th century nuclear disasters - from war, atmospheric testing, and nuclear plant accidents – remains unmitigated, causing incalculable costs to the environmental resources and human health.

Our genome itself is at risk by nuclear. Nuclear is the ultimate betrayer, promising godhood while destroying the fabric of life itself, our somatic, genetic being

Former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan, Oct. 28, 2013: The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the most severe accident in the history of mankind. [...] I had pushed the policy of utilizing nuclear power [...] my view is now changed 180 degrees. [...] there are no other events except for wars that would require the evacuation of tens of millions of people. [...] it is technically impossible to eliminate accidents, especially if human factors such as terrorism are taken into account [...] to eliminate nuclear power plant accidents. All we need to do is to eliminate nuclear power plants themselves. [...] we are leaving the huge problem of nuclear waste for future generations to care for. There is no other way but to go down in the path toward achieving zero nuclear power, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. It is possible for mankind to get enough energy without relying on nuclear power — by using natural energy such as solar, wind, and biomass. To help curb global warming, we need to stop the use of not only nuclear power but also fossil fuels. [...]


Radioactive Water Crisis NHK Radioactive Water: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis (reactor 1 Nov 2013)

Subodh Varma (2014, February 10) Fukushima radiation data is wildly wrong, management apologizes, TNN,

Tepco “There is no way to shield Bremsstrahlung from contaminated water tanks” Posted by Mochizuki on January 12th, 2014 Press conference

Radioactive Water Crisis NHK Radioactive Water: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis (reactor 1 Nov 2013)

[v] Kazuaki Nagata Aug 20, 2013 Tepco yet to track groundwater paths. Liquefaction threat adds to Fukushima ills. The Japan Times,

 [vi] Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July Feb 7, 2014 Kyodo/JIJI

[vii] TEPCO to review erroneous radiation data Feb. 9, 2014 - Updated 02:33 UTC

 [viii] TEPCO withheld Fukushima radioactive water measurements for 6 months (2014, January 9) The Asahi Shimbun

 [ix]For example, The Asahi Shimbun reported ‘TEPCO announced Record cesium level found in groundwater beneath Fukushima levee’ Feb 14, 2014, The article said that cesium found in groundwater under a coastal levee near unit 1 spiked from 76,000 becquerels per liter on February 12, 2014 to 130,000 becquerels per liter on February 13, reaching the highest level of cesium ever detected at that location.

[x] A. Bayer, W. Tromm, & I. Al-Omari. Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure After Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt.


Tepco's Plan to Divert Ground Water By Dumping Into Ocean


  1. "230 million becquerels per liter" versus 1 inch of rain or winds up to 30 miles per hour. . . The first figure is extremely difficult to translate into practical everyday terms whereas the latter two are easily done. This is a problem. ENEnews presents many items in terms that elude practical calculation. So technical indeed that only years of experience can make real sense of them. Who among us can say what the difference is between 230 million and say 320 million becquerels/liter? In the end this may represent a significant barrier to most people getting the idea. The experts? can talk about low levels and spit out some fairly arcane terminology and who but a few will know what the difference is? I am not sure what the solution is. Personally I have looked at various charts without exactly picking up the lingo. Or what it really might mean to people I know. So a lot of this becomes an insuperable barrier. Just as I was getting used to mSv and Sv, I encountered Rads. And Roentgens. I actually took a one year calculus physics course at Stanford years ago and did okay. But that part of me was already in decline from high school enthusiasm, Lately it has been the becquerels. I know you have to use them. It is the only way to talk about this stuff. But getting a good practical translation is hard.
    Personally I think many gov officials and scientists believe they are telling pious frauds and not serious lies. A nice touch of religion in the matter. The truth would panic people and cause a collapse of Japanese economy and society. But then I remember pictures of haggard skinny women carrying babies somewhere in Africa, thousands of people walking slowly through a dust filled air . . . the panic and alarm were gone.

    1. I understand your frustration. I read this recently and it helps provide perspective:

      The IAEA defines contamination at 40 kiloBecquerels (kBq unit of radioactivity) per meter squared, which is 40,000 Becquerels.

      source: Christoudias, T. & Lelieveld, J. (2012) Modelling the global atmospheric transport and deposition of radionuclides from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics Discussions 12: 24531-24555.

      ADDITIONALLY In a 2003 video titled Nuclear Controversies by Vladimir Tchertkoff, Professor Yury Bandazhevsky (former director of the Medical Institute in Gomel), states that based on his research on children exposed to radiocesium from Chernobyl, ‘Over 50 Bq/kg of body weight lead to irreversible lesions in vital organs.’ In a short summary of his work published in 2003, Bandazhevsky described high levels of Cesium-137 bioaccumulation in Chernobyl children’s heart and endocrine glands, particularly the thyroid gland, the adrenals, and the pancreas. He also found high levels in the thymus and the spleen. He concluded that higher levels of bio-accumulation were found in children than adults.

      W. Tchertkoff (2008) Nuclear Controversies,, date accessed 9 August 2011.

      Y. I. Bandazhevsky (2003) ‘Chronic Cs-137 Incorporation in Children’s Organs’, Swiss Medical Weekly, 133, 488–490,

  2. Quote of Majia: "I DON’T TRUST Tepco’s figures"...

    Quote from Fukushima Diary: "Tepco’s spokesman “I have distrust in Tepco itself for not announcing the wrong analysis for this long”"
    quoted from:

    Thank you, Majia. I love your interviews, though hate the facts.

  3. Water contamination has always been a major threat of the world. When a crude oil ship leaks oil in the ocean the whole world comes into danger situation of losing all fishes and eventually the natural source of cleaning the water.