Friday, October 16, 2020

Fukushima Daiichi's Never-Ending Assault Against the Pacific Ocean - A Protracted Tragedy


Fukushima Webcam on Units 1 and 2 and partially dismantled vent tower 10/16/2020 12:14PM AZ

Japan has decided to dump Fukushima's contaminated water into the ocean despite objections and potential violation of the London Convention:

Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant wastewater looks headed for ocean. (2020, October 16). THE ASAHI SHIMBUN. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13831640

The government is moving toward the controversial disposal method for contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of dumping it into the ocean.

Fishermen have fiercely opposed this disposal method at the plant, which experienced a triple meltdown in March 2011 following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami, over fears of resulting negative publicity hurting their industry....

...Water contaminated with radioactive materials continues to be produced at the Fukushima No. 1 plant at a daily rate of about 140 tons. Water used to cool melted spent nuclear fuel mixes in with groundwater that leaks into the reactor building.

...1.2 million tons of processed water is being stored in tanks and TEPCO has estimated that tank capacity will be reached by the summer of 2022 even under the current plan to build more tanks.


1.2 million tons of contaminated water into ocean? Who made this risk decision and why? What are the consequences?

Saturday, September 8, 2018 Making Risk Decisions at Fukushima Daiichi


Contaminated water production at Fukushima Daiichi continues unabated. Storage is limited and there are explosive risks for containment of highly contaminated water. The various water filtration systems that have been adopted have had limited success because they have only removed certain radionuclides - such as radiocesium - leaving filtered water contaminated with radioiodine and tritium. In my blog I documented that strontium wasn't filtered until 2014.

An editorial in The Asahi Shimbun urges Japan’s task force of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to communicate and consult with Fukushima residents before dumping the 900 tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

The article states that the ministry has considered 5 options for addressing the problem of contaminated water, but lists only 3 of them (not sure what happened to the other two options under consideration):
release into the Pacific Ocean after dilution
injection into deep underground strata
release into the air after vaporization
Why are there only 3 of 5 viable options described in the article? What were the other two options?
Are there options that don’t lead to significant contamination?

Tritium is challenging to extract, although there have been improvements (e.g., see here for discussion https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920379616300552).

I cannot help but wonder whether options have been unnecessarily narrowed by the value criteria deployed in this very important risk decision?

According to the article, the Ministry task force decided on dumping using the criteria of “quickest and least costly”:
EDITORIAL: All options need to be weighed for Fukushima plant tainted water
September 6, 2018 The Asahi Shimbun
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809060020.html
A task force of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has considered five options, including release into the Pacific Ocean after dilution, injection into deep underground strata and release into the air after vaporization. The group has concluded that dumping the water into the ocean would be the quickest and least costly way to get rid of it. This is seen as the best option within the government.
From the editorial cited above, it appears that the pre-eminent VALUES deployed in the ministry’s risk decision mapping were “quickest” and “least costly.”
 
While expediency can be clearly and narrowly operationalized, “cost” is a bit more ambiguous.Did the ministry’s operationalization of cost include long-term costs to communities and ecologies or did it merely address short-term direct expenditures at the Fukushima Daiichi site?

What costs are likely to accrue from the decision to dump water contaminated with significant amounts of tritium and radioiodine into the Pacific Ocean?

Tritium and radioiodine will not only bioaccumulate in aquatic life but will also enter the water cycle, spreading contamination through precipitation as well.

Were the economic, social, and ecological costs for such an assault modeled at all?

I strongly doubt that any biological impacts were attributed to tritium contamination because there is a myth that nuclearists tell themselves and that myth is that tritium is harmless. That myth is told because tritium contamination has become ubiquitous, especially in ground water near nuclear sites (see here for discussion of ubiquity). 

It is a myth because research has documented that tritium bioaccumulates in marine life. Tritium and radioiodine can also bioaccumulate in people, posing risks for cancer and reproductive/development problems.

Would other options be available if the ministry were to re-frame their risk decision making either by 
1.) incorporating long-term and full-spectrum cost-accounting or
2.) substituting different value criteria prioritizing life over financial savings?
Risk decision making that narrows options and prioritizes short term formulations of expediency and cost are predictably going to result in the most catastrophic long-term consequences.
 

BACKGROUND

Bloomberg reported in 2014 that between May 2011 and August 2013, an estimated 20 trillion becquerels of cesium and 10 trillion becquerels of strontium entered ocean via groundwater:

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 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-20/tepco-says-new-leak-of-radioactive-water-found-at-fukushima-site.html
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 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, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-20/tepco-says-new-leak-of-radioactive-water-found-at-fukushima-site.html
Water is highly contaminated because TEPCO’s filtration systems cannot remove tritium and has struggled with strontium. Storage of water with very high beta readings at the site is reaching capacity.

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

2. GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION.

Despite TEPCO's efforts at diversion, an underground river threatens the Daiichi site, coming into contact with melted fuel in breached containment vessel(s) and building up in reactor buildings.[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].

Although TEPCO has made headway in diverting this underground river, its low increases significantly after rain.


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

ADDITIONAL SOURCE of CONTAMINATION?
A NHK documentary also suggests an additional source of water contamination: Fukushima Daiichi's Hidden Crisis: http://vimeo.com/8559542

GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION LEVELS

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

LONG TERM IMPACTS


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.

Japan is NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY poisoning the ocean with radioactive waste. Look to the US, Russia, the UK and France as historic leaders in poisoning the ocean with radioactive contamination.

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 have 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. [...]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naoto-kan/japan-nuclear-energy_b_4171073.html


SOURCES
Radioactive Water Crisis http://vimeo.com/85595428 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, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2014-02-10/rest-of-world/47199927_1_fukushima-daiichi-fukushima-nuclear-plant-masayuki-ono

Tepco “There is no way to shield Bremsstrahlung from contaminated water tanks” Posted by Mochizuki on January 12th, 2014 http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/01/tepco-there-is-no-way-to-shield-bremsstrahlung-from-contaminated-water-tanks/ Press conference http://iwj.co.jp/wj/open/archives/119294

Radioactive Water Crisis http://vimeo.com/85595428 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, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/20/national/tepco-yet-to-track-groundwater-paths/#.UhQwJj_pz-J

[vi] Record strontium-90 level in Fukushima groundwater sample last July Feb 7, 2014 Kyodo/JIJI http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/07/national/record-strontium-90-level-in-fukushima-groundwater-sample-last-july/#.UvVDpoWviSo

[vii] TEPCO to review erroneous radiation data Feb. 9, 2014 - Updated 02:33 UTC http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140209_80.html

[viii] TEPCO withheld Fukushima radioactive water measurements for 6 months (2014, January 9) The Asahi Shimbun http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201401090060

[ix]For example, The Asahi Shimbun reported ‘TEPCO announced Record cesium level found in groundwater beneath Fukushima levee’ Feb 14, 2014, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402140041. 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. http://www.irpa.net/irpa8/cdrom/VOL.1/M1_97.PDF


PREVIOUS POSTS ON OCEAN CONTAMINATION

Majia's Blog: Fukushima Ocean Contamination

Will Fukushima Daiichi Kill Vast Swathes of Life in the Pacific Ocean?

Majia's Blog: Ocean Releases

Majia's Blog: Compromised Oceans Mean Compromised People

Majia's Blog: Fukushima Radiation Plumes in the Ocean Headed to ...

Majia's Blog: Humanity's End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans

Radioactive Tuna Not Safe Even at Low Levels of Contamination

Majia's Blog: The Ocean and Fukushima

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

 

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