Saturday, February 8, 2014

Radioactive Snowstorm?

Someone at Enenews asked for my interpretation of recent events at Daiichi after the webcam was obscured today by what looked like a radioactive snowstorm:

I wish I could offer definitive interpretations of what site conditions are like.

This is what I can conclude.

Radiation levels in fresh and sea water have been rising. The main radionuclides being reported are tritium and strontium (see also here).

In December 2013 TEPCO reported  that a record of 1.8 million becquerels per liter of beta-ray source was found in an observation well: 

Record radiation levels detected in well at Fukushima nuke plant Dec 14 2013, The Asahi Shimbun,

But now in February 2014, TEPCO admits that it had detected even higher levels in July of 2013.

Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July
Kyodo/JIJI Feb 7, 2014 Tepco says a groundwater sample taken from a well at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant last July contained a record high 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90. 

Majia here: We know from the German study posted by Enenews Admin. that strontium levels will very likely rise exponentially in fresh and ocean water at the site. (see the argument here).

Atmospheric radiation levels in the US are above average. West coast EPA beta data, which are now reported only for a handful of sites, indicate periodic alert level spikes and a more general trend of tightly grouped, higher-than-usual beta spikes. Private monitoring data are up also.

See my recent discussion about rising radiation levels (see here).  Additional EPA readings are courtesy of Newsblackout:

Levels now look a lot like they did in the winter of 2011 and early 2012. Those levels did go down by the spring of 2012 and did not resume their current, uninterrupted upward trajectory until the summer of 2013. EPA data and TEPCO's water contamination results have been rising steadily since.

Good news is that crane activity has been ongoing so the site has not been entirely abandoned.


Are rising contamination levels exclusively from escalating dispersal of molten fuel located in underground river at site?

Or is there significant ongoing fission activity occurring in melted fuel, perhaps even in the spent fuel pools?

What is the status of the common spent fuel pool and what conditions are found in the pools in reactors 1 and 2? (I'm presuming that what is left in pools 3 and 4 cannot be extracted).

What is happening at units 5 and 6 and at Fukushima Daini?

We don't have the answers to these questions but my guess is that remediation activity at the site is going to be increasingly limited and we may be nearing that point.

Japan’s NRA recently ordered TEPCO the reduce the exposure level of workers at unit 4:

TOSHIO KAWADA (2014, February 6), NRA tells TEPCO to reduce radiation exposure at Fukushima plant, The Asahi Shimbun,

TEPCO must protect workers so that access to unit 4 is maintained. Unfortunately,, Units 1 through 3 are too radioactive for workers to enter at all.

When we reach abandonment, there is a real risk of major atmospheric releases. Atmospheric releases are, I believe, human's most immediate threat.

[The ocean contamination is a comparatively 'long-term' problem in terms of the immediate risks it poses for humanity.]

Are we at the point of major atmospheric emissions? I don't know. I've learned that rising radiation levels are not always sustained. Let us hope that TEPCO can get conditions under control.

I'm watching carefully.

Other people's interpretations welcomed.

Private monitoring and data sharing needed now more than ever.


Introduction to Majia's Blog and Index of Posts Here 

October 2013 Interview with James Fetzer about my book, Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk (Palgrave, 2013)

PowerPoint of data examining reports of conditions at the plant and evidence of criticalities, which can be seen here  or here


  1. I have lately been coming to the conclusion that we are being strung along by Japan/TEPCO. I am surmising that the Shoguns (oligarchs) have made a calculation that they can do a band aid job with Fukushima, get away with that and save money. I realize this may sound like an atrocious decision they are making, but otherwise I would expect to see a far more vigorous and intelligent plan with action. The Soviet response to Tchernobyl is what I would have expected. Another earthquake of a certain magnitude and the whole mess gets much worse. Nonetheless looking back at the 20th century does not inspire one with much hope as it presents a string of insane actions on the part of nations. And a great willingness for the leaders to sacrifice the people. Are we now witnessing another sacrifice? I am inclined to think so.

    1. I agree with you that they seem to very hands-off.

      How can they think a band-aid job will suffice when people are going to get very sick and die. By some accounts, that is already beginning in Fukushima Prefecture.

      I just don't get it. Are they that ignorant?

      That will be too


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