Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fukushima: The Nuclear Disaster That Keeps On Giving

Posted By on Sun, Feb 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM

shutterstock_152104907.jpg
  • Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

The tsunami and meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant happened way back in March, 2011, going on three years now. Old news, right? Meltdowns happen.

Actually, not such old news. Another 100 tons of radioactive water leaked last Wednesday, just one of an ongoing series of mini-disasters occurring regularly at the damaged nuclear plant which is currently being held together by duct tape, baling wire and chewing gum — or techniques similarly temporary and unreliable.

It's not the first spill, there have been many, but this water is more contaminated than usual.

[T]he water was about 3.8 million times as contaminated with strontium 90 as the maximum allowed under Japan’s safety standards for drinking water. It also showed levels much more radioactive than a worrisome groundwater reading that Tepco announced earlier this month. That reading — five million becquerels of strontium 90 per liter — which was detected at a location closer to the ocean than the latest spill, prompted criticism of Tepco because the company waited five months to report it publicly.

The reason for the spills is that groundwater keeps seeping into the reactor buildings, and the only choices available to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) are to let it run into the Pacific or store it in huge above-ground water tanks.

So far, Tepco said, about 340,000 tons of water have accumulated in the tanks, enough to fill more than 135 Olympic-size swimming pools. A ton of water is equivalent to about 240 gallons.

Fox News reported that "plant workers attached a garbage bag to contain the leakage." The "Fox News reported" attribution makes me a tad skeptical, but hey, it's not The Onion, and it's not the worst Fukushima fix I've read about.

I posted regularly about Fukushima when I was at Blog for Arizona. In 2013 alone, I wrote about cooling systems being knocked out because a rat got into the switchboard (the wire nets installed to keep the rats away caused another power outage), TEPCO finally admitting that radioactive water was leaking into the sea on a regular basis (they're planning to create an underground ice wall to contain the water — seriously), 300 tons of water leaking from a storage tank (if you stand a foot away from the leaking water for an hour, you'll receive 5 times the maximum yearly radiation dose for nuclear workers), and one of the last leaks of 2013 dousing six workers with radioactive water (because the workers took out the wrong pipe — Oops!)

The local connection to all this is, gubernatorial hopeful "Atomic Al" Melvin (more often known as Cap'n Al) wants to put nuclear plants all over bone-dry Arizona, even though those things need lots of water — more than lots when there's an accident. Al and other nuke promoters are oblivious to the dangers, so the rest of us need to keep in mind, Fukushima is an ongoing disaster still looking for a solution almost three years later, and the land in that area will never be the same.

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