Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Where Did the Strontium Go at Fukushima Daiichi?

TEPCO and the Japanese Government are struggling to decide how to handle the (recently reported) 970,000 tons of contaminated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi plant:
IAEA urges Japan to reach decision soon on handling of radioactive water at crippled Fukushima nuke plant (2018, November 14). Kyodo/Japan Times,

A team of nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency urged Japan this week to reach a decision quickly on what to do with treated water that contains low toxicity radioactive tritium, which is accumulating at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.... As of last Thursday around 970,000 tons of tritium-containing water was stored on the premises of the plant, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
This water is contaminated with tritium and also with strontium, as the Japanese news media have reported repeatedly over the last 7 years, as illustrated in this article below from August of this year:
Residents blast water-discharge method at Fukushima plant THE ASAHI SHIMBUN August 31, 2018 at 17:55

The volume of water stored in those tanks has reached 920,000 tons in the seven-and-a-half years since the triple meltdown. About 900 tanks, including those for unpurified water, now stand at the plant… But at the public hearing, the participants learned that traces of strontium also remained in the purified water. “(The ministry and TEPCO) have misled the public,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, an Iwaki city assemblyman. “They made a serious mistake in the fair disclosure of a wide range of information.”

"Traces of strontium" remain in water purified by the ALPS equipment.

Yet, recent reporting - such as the article cited at the top of this post- have neglected to mention that the tritium-laced water also contains detectable traces of strontium, a radioactive element that bio-accumulates in bones and brains, in describing the water as "treated water that contains low toxicity radioactive tritium...."


As illustrated here, the news media are helping build a narrative that the water at Fukushima Daiichi is "low-risk" but in reality it is not given it is more radioactive than advertised and given that it is part of a deluge of contaminated water that began in 2011 and has not stopped since (e.g., consider for example failure of the "ice wall" to stop migration of contaminated ground water to the ocean).

In February of 2015, TEPCO admitted that radioactive water from unit 2 had been flowing unfiltered into the ocean since May 2014.[i] 

Local fisherman who had given consent for TEPCO to dump uncontaminated ground water were outraged, but Yuji Moriyama, a TEPCO spokesman stated “the utility did not disclose the information because there is no evidence of environmental impact.” 

The water contained 29,400 Becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter and an additional 52,000 Becquerels of beta-emitting radionuclides, such as Strontium-90 according to news reporting (i).

Strontium levels in sea and ground water may actually rise over time, if the conditions modeled in two German risk studies apply to Fukushima. The “German Risk Study, Phase B” found that a core meltdown accident could result in complete failures of all structural containment, causing melted fuel to exit the reactor foundation within five days and that ground water leaching would occur even in the absence of a full melt-through situation.[ii] 

A second German risk analysis, “Dispersion of Radionuclides and Radiation Exposure after Leaching by Groundwater of a Solidified Core-Concrete Melt,” found that even in the event of an intact building foundation, passing groundwater would be in direct contact with fuel, causing leaching of fission products. [iii] 

The study predicted concentrations of Strontium-90 in river water would spike relatively suddenly, but maintain extraordinarily high levels of contamination for years, with “the highest radionuclide concentration of approx. 1010 Bq/m3 is reached by Sr-90 after some 5000 days.” The study’s experimental conditions are roughly similar to Daiichi’s site conditions, including groundwater emptying into an adjacent river, whereas Daiichi is physically situated above an underground river emptying into the sea.

Ground water contamination has also been rising steadily at the Daiichi site, especially since the summer of 2013.[iv] TEPCO reported that samples from the well between the ocean and unit 1 measuring a record 5 million Becquerels per liter of radioactive Strontium-90 alone in July 2013.[v] 

In January 27, 2015, TEPCO measured 31,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 in boring well nearest unit 2, a level which was more than 10 percent more than reported in December of 2014.[vi] By February of 2015, TEPCO was reporting even higher levels of Strontium-90 in the same location, with the highest sample measured at 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90.[vii] The spiking strontium levels are consistent with the predictions of the German melt-through scenario.

TEPCO has also detected increased radionuclide contamination in the Fukushima port. On June 19, 2015 TEPCO’s reported that it had detected Strontium-90 measuring 1,000,000 Bq/m3 in two locations in Fukushima Daiichi’s port located near the water intake for reactors 3 and 4, exceeding the previous reported high of 700,000 Bq/m3.[viii] 

The highest Strontium level measured in Fukushima’s port jumped still more in data reported in July 17, 2015 to 1,500,000 Bq/m3.[ix]



[i] Fisheries ‘shocked’ at silence over water leak at wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant,” Japan times (February 25, 2015)

[ii] Gesellschaft fur Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) Deutsche Risikikostudie Kernkraftwerke, Phase B Report GRS-89 cited in Bayer, A., Al-Omari, I., & Tromm, W. (1989). Dispersion of radionuclides and radiation exposure after leaching by groundwater of a solidified core-concrete (No. KFK-4512). Available

[iii] Bayer, A., Al-Omari, I., & Tromm, W. (1989). Dispersion of radionuclides and radiation exposure after leaching by groundwater of a solidified core-concrete (No. KFK-4512). Available

[iv] “TEPCO Announced Record Cesium Level Found in Groundwater Beneath Fukushima Levee” The Asahi Shimbun (February 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.

[v] Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July. (2014, February 7). The Japan Times. Available

[vi] Lori Mochizuki, “31,000,000 Bqm3 Strontium 90 Measured Nearest Boring Well Reactor 2,” Fukushima Diary (January 2015) TEPCO document available:

[vii] Lori Mochizuki (Fukushima Diary 590,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 measured from groundwater of Reactor 2 seaside).

[viii] Lori Mochizuki, “1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Sr-90 detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / Highest in recorded history,” Fukushima Diary (June 20, 2015) and TEPCO document

[ix] Lori Mochizuki, “Highest Strontium-90 density detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / 1,500,000 Bq/m3,” Fukushima Dairy (July 18, 2015). TEPCO document available here:




    "When asked about the possibility of discarding the fuel — the location and volume of which remaining within the reactors is yet to be grasped due to high levels of radiation — Xerri said, “We don’t have enough information to tell you yes or no.”

    IAEA urges Japan to reach decision soon on handling of radioactive water at crippled Fukushima nuke plant (2018, November 14). Kyodo/Japan Times,

  2. War coming soon to provide smokescreen by creating even more expedient ways to die than being irradiated.

  3. Excerpted: "IAEA mission leader Christophe Xerri told reporters that it is uncertain whether all of the melted fuel can ever be successfully removed because too little is known about the damage to the cores of the three reactors.

    TEPCO and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021. Robotic probes inside the reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel but its exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown.

    "If you don't have the information it's very difficult to say it's possible or not" to remove all the fuel, Xerri said.

    IAEA urges quick plan to clean up Fukushima radioactive water (2018, November 14). THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/ The Asahi Shimbun,

  4. (my previous comment got swallowed. Here is second try)
    I suggest that a water tight containment wall be erected around the whole site with walls deep into the earth and a lid to keep the rain away. This would be the Fukushima-Daiichi Tomb that would remind the world of the hubris of the nuclear solution. Japan and the rest of the world should pay for this because as things stand now the world is being polluted with radioactive particles and that is now know to cause problems for the health of the whole echosystem.


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