NY Times, Mar 11, 2017 (emphasis added): Some say the radioactive material may prove impossible to remove safely and have suggested leaving it and entombing Fukushima under a concrete and steel sarcophagus like the one used at Chernobyl.
Xinhua, Mar 12, 2017: There have also been concerns that the melted nuclear fuel residue is eroding the concrete bottom of the safety shell of the reactors, having already penetrated the reactor pressure vessel.
Xinhua, Mar 11, 2017: “It is very important to provide the public with information, including information about the concealment of the melted core,” [Naohiro Masuda, head of the TEPCO’s decommissioning unit] said… Masuda said that the residue of melted nuclear fuel is now “mostly immersed in water” and kept at a relatively low temperature, and that there is “no need to worry” about the melted nuclear fuel residue eroding through the concrete bottom of the safety shell.
DW, Mar 11, 2017: Even Shunji Uchida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager, couldn’t hide his skepticism from the visiting journalists. “Robots and cameras have already provided us with valuable pictures,” says Uchida, adding: “But it is still unclear what is really going on inside.”
Dr. Helen Caldicott on Nuclear Hotseat, Feb 22, 2017 (at 29:00 in): “There’s a huge amount of water that pours down the mountains everyday beneath the reactors which was all well and good when the reactors were intact – now they are not. Now there are three cores of corium – molten cores – that probably have buried their way, or dug their way, into the earth beneath the reactors. Even if they haven’t the reactor buildings have been shattered where the cores are so the water pours in and over the reactor cores continuously. And so that water becomes highly radioactive and then it pours into the ocean from the beneath the reactors and so everyday 300 to 400 tons – tons – of very radioactive water has poured into the pacific every day since the accident of March 11, 2011 and continues to do so and will do so I think for the rest of time.”
NHK, Jan 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Japan’s nuclear regulator has approved a plan by Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, to drain filtered wastewater from the firm’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant into the sea.
TEPCO officials plan to pump up contaminated groundwater through wells built around structures housing the plant’s damaged reactors. The firm also plans to reduce the level of radioactive material in the water before releasing it into the nearby Pacific.
On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved TEPCO’s plan to install drainpipes and a pumping system and to reduce the level of radioactive cesium-137 to less than one becquerel per liter. It also agreed with the firm’s policy of starting the drainage system gradually.
The regulator asked the utility to ensure that no wastewater leaks and to fully disclose measurements for radioactive material.
Tokyo Electric said it will not drain filtered wastewater until local residents agree to the plan.
The timing of such agreement is unclear, as local fishermen are worried that rumors of tainted seawater would affect their business.
NHK Transcript, Jan 21, 2015: Japanese regulators have approved a controversial plan by [TEPCO]. They say TEPCO officials can flush filtered waste water into the ocean… Fisherman: “We can’t trust Tepco… If they proceed with their plan the situation will surely go back to how it was before. I’m worried the government and Tepco will act to suit themselves.”
Wall St Journal, Jan 21, 2015: Japan’s nuclear regulator has officially called on [Tepco] to work toward discharging low-level contaminated water… just two days after a worker fell into [a tank] used to store contaminated water… Tepco is using a processing system [that] is unable to take out the tritium [and] is reluctant to release it into the ocean to avoid… criticism from neighboring countries and some nations with a Pacific Ocean coastline… there is no detailed study about tritium’s long-time effect on animal genes. Mamoru Takata, a Kyoto University professor and expert on radiation’s long-term effects, said monitoring would be necessary to detect any worrisome signals.
Japan’s nuclear regulator has officially called on Tokyo Electric Power Co.9501.TO +0.42% to work toward discharging low-level contaminated water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The call on Wednesday comes just two days after a worker fell into one of the hundreds of tanks used to store contaminated water at the plant during an inspection, a fatal accident that has refocused attention on the need for improved safety measures and a longer term solution for the huge amounts of water in storage.
“Tokyo Electric Power must consider whether it (storing the water) is really necessary,” said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a regular board meeting Wednesday. “It is surely harmful if it leads to the death of workers.”
The regulator discussed Wednesday a draft timetable for action by Tepco to address risks at the plant that sets out a 2017 start for discharging the water. The draft is likely to be approved next week.
The International Atomic Energy Agency already recommended more than a year ago that Tepco consider releasing water with low level tritium contamination in a controlled way so that it could focus on other issues.
A Tepco spokesman, speaking after Mr. Tanaka’s remarks, said the company wasn’t currently considering releasing the water into the ocean.
Contaminated water has been a constant headache for the operator of the plant since the triple meltdowns in March 2011. A large amount of groundwater is flowing into the site, adding 300 to 400 tons to the amount of highly contaminated water at the plant on a daily basis.
Tepco is using a processing system to remove radioactive material from the highly contaminated water, but the system is unable to take out the tritium. Tepco has been storing the tritium-contaminated water in about 1,000 tanks, but is reluctant to release it into the ocean to avoid adding to tension with local communities and criticism from neighboring countries and some nations with a Pacific Ocean coastline.
But the power company is close to running out of space to build new tanks at the plant and workers are increasingly under pressure to juggle their other duties with the ever-increasing workload of tank management, prompting the IAEA call in late 2013.
Tritium is considered one of the least harmful radioactive materials at nuclear plants. Water contaminated with tritium is discharged from plants elsewhere in the world after dilution.
However, there is no detailed study about tritium’s long-time effect on animal genes. Mamoru Takata, a Kyoto University professor and expert on radiation’s long-term effects, said monitoring would be necessary to detect any worrisome signals.
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TEPCO: [ALPS] is designed to remove most remaining radioactive contaminants
TEPCO (pdf): (ALPS) — Removal capacity: Reduce 62 nuclides below the density limit
Asahi Shimbun in Jan. 2012: “To prevent a further contamination of the sea [Tepco] plans to remove about 1,000 kinds of radioactive materials from water”
Japan Atomic Energy Agency (pdf), Feb 2014: TOPICS Fukushima — [W]e carried out detailed calculations… for 1,200 radionuclides, and the results were incorporated into a database.
Dr. Gordon Edwards, court-certified nuclear expert, Aug 8, 2014 (50:00 in): It can’t be dumped into the ocean, because it’s completely unsafe because of these fission products. They have built over 1,000 large tanks, huge tanks… that contain this very, very radioactively contaminated water. At the moment they’re trying to filter out these fission products… It’s impossible for them to remove all those hundreds of radioactive materials. They know how to remove about 62 of them, but there’s other ones that they cannot.
Head Scientist: “I used to think I knew” why mystery epidemic is decimating millions of West Coast starfish, “but now I don’t” — Toxic pollution now suspected — Fukushima ‘not dismissed’ as cause — California Professor: Significant levels of fallout got into our coastal food web… marine life exposed… It’s not good
NOAA, Sept 5, 2014: Disease is destroying sea stars along entire Pacific coast of N. America
Skagit Valley Herald, Sept. 7, 2014: “It certainly is shocking… from 51 sea stars with none of them affected to all of them affected, and then gone.”
The Straight (Vancouver), Aug 20, 2014: [Sea] stars that normally crammed into every rock gully along the beach were missing. Not one starfish… empty black crevices… devoid of life. This scene is repeated up and down the West Coast… Divers report piles of white goo and pieces of starfish arms on the ocean floor… [T]o suddenly disappear is more than disconcerting: it is truly shocking. The speed… is mystifying. Yet the great die-off has not attracted that much media coverage… what else might follow tomorrow?
Portland Monthly, August 2014: In the spring, [Oregon State Prof. Bruce Menge] says, the tide pools were lined with thousands of healthy sea stars… The sickly few that remain hang limply
Laguna Beach Independent, Sept. 4, 2014: Scientists [say] pollution is surfacing as a suspected cause… [UC Santa Cruz biology professor] Pete Raimondi… attended a sea star “mortality event” conference… and left confused… Water pollution, scientists agree, is usually localized and doesn’t affect an entire coastline or an entire species. Usually… Scientists are debating [if] a secondary infection took over because the sea stars were weak due to environmental pollutants… Raimondi reported that pollution is being considered because no pathogens were detected in the animals until a secondary infection took over… [The] findings raised a question, Raimondi relayed… if the bacteria is always present… why would it lead to an epidemic now?
Prof. Raimondi: “I used to think I knew, but now I don’t… AIDS would be a good example for a human analogy… what kills you off is usually a secondary infection… I left [the conference] much more uncertain than when I walked into the room.”
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Sept. 1, 2014: “It’s been very mysterious in a lot of ways,” said Raimondi, as he discounted, but did not dismiss, possible causes. Unlike previous wasting events, this one occurs in warm and cold water, near and far from pollutant discharge… Ocean acidification and de-oxygenation are possible factors, yet sea stars are exposed to natural variations in acidity and oxygenation and they have never before been observed to exhibit this extent of wasting. To date, no one has found Fukushima radiation where the syndrome is observed.
Prof. Steven Manley, Cal State Univ: “We measured significant… levels of radioactive iodine… it may have affected certain fish… the big question was, is another major isotope that came over in the cloud, cesium 137, present in the kelp, too? It has a half-life of 30 years [and may still be there]… Most of this fallout comes from the atmosphere primarily in rain… Radioactivity is taken up by the kelp and anything that feeds on the kelp will be exposed… [it] got into the environment… In fact, the values that we reported for iodine probably [are an] underestimate [and] could be two to three times more… it enters the coastal food web and gets dispersed over a variety of organisms… It’s not a good thing, but whether it actually has a measurable detrimental effect is beyond my expertise.”
The catastrophe at Fukushima was not an accident. It’s unfolding again in California.
The next west coast quake could easily shake the two reactors at Diablo Canyon to rubble.
They are riddled with defects, can’t withstand potential seismic shocks from five major nearby fault lines, violate state water quality laws and are vulnerable to tsunamis and fire.
Diablo’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), is in deep legal and financial crisis.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has just proposed that PG&E be fined $1.4 billion for a 2010 gas explosion and fire that killed eight people and obliterated a neighborhood in San Bruno. The federal government has announced 28 indictments, meaning the CPUC fine may just be the tip of a very expensive iceberg for PG&E. The San Bruno disaster was caused by pipeline defects about which PG&E had been warned for years, but failed to correct. The fines cover 3,798 separate violations of laws and regulations, both state and federal. PG&E was previously fined $38 million for a 2008 pipeline explosion in Rancho Cordova.
Similar defects remain uncorrected at Diablo Canyon, whose radioactive cloud could span the continental U.S. in four days. Mass citizen action recently shut two coastal reactors at San Onofre. It must do the same at Diablo before the next quake hits.
Ironically, as America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows Diablo to operate, all 54 reactors in Japan remain shut. Its Nuclear Regulatory Authority has just ordered the Tsuruga reactor to be scrapped because of its vulnerability to earthquakes. Two more elderly reactors at Mihama may also be terminated before year’s end.
Tepco has begun paying compensation to local suicide victims, including the widower of a woman who doused herself with kerosene before burning herself alive.
All of it predictable.
For decades Japanese citizens warned Tepco not to build reactors in an earthquake/tsunami zone. The company repeatedly ignored safety warnings and tolerated known defects that worsened the disaster.
Diablo Canyon’s twin reactors sit eight miles west of San Luis Obispo, between Los Angeles and San Francisco, surrounded by earthquake faults.
The Hosgri, three miles offshore, was found as the reactors were being built. Design specifications were never fully altered to account for it. Nor have they been upgraded for the newly-found Los Osos, San Luis Bay and Shoreline faults. The Shoreline lies just 650 yard from Diablo’s cores.
The massive San Andreas fault is just 45 miles away, about half as far as was the March 11, 2011, Richter-9.0 epicenter from Fukushima.
A shock that size from any of the fault lines near Diablo could reduce it to a seething pile of radioactive hell, far deadlier than Fukushima. Prevailing winds could blanket virtually all of North America with its deadly fallout.
The nuclear industry would immediately deny all health impacts. It would blame “unpredictable” God and nature.
Peck has a doctorate in nuclear engineering and was Diablo’s chief on-site inspector for five years. He’s now a senior instructor at the NRC’s Technical Training Center in Tennessee. His status as a current NRC employee makes such a critical report highly unusual—and alarming.
Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has warned about sea-level intake pipes like those at Diablo. When the tsunami struck Fukushima, he writes, “The cooling equipment along the shoreline was turned into a scrap yard of twisted metal.”
Then there is fire.
Diablo Canyon, writes David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “has never, ever complied with fire safety regulations, not even for a second by mistake.”
“The one-two punch of earthquake/tsunami caused Fukushima,” Lochbaum wrote in an email to me.
“A one-two punch of earthquake/fire could cause Diablo Canyon.”
But, says Lochbaum, “It can’t be an accident. Not when the company and its alleged regulator both know that the plant does not met earthquake and fire safety regulations.
More than 10,000 people were arrested trying to stop Diablo in the 1970s and ‘80s. During the delays they caused, PG&E found major errors in reading key blueprints involving some of Diablo’s most critical equipment.
Damage is still being tallied from California’s Aug. 25 Napa Valley quake. The 1994 Northridge quake killed 57 people, injured roughly 5,000. The Loma Prieta quake during the 1989 World Series killed 63 people, injured more than 3,700. The infamous 1906 San Francisco quake leveled the city and killed thousands.
New shocks at Diablo Canyon could dwarf all those numbers—and Fukushima’s.
Tens of millions of Americans would be irradiated. Our continent’s eco-systems would be poisoned. Our nation’s economy would be gutted.
Accident situation: During debris removal operation from spent fuel pool, to rise the console of the fuel handling machine, the crane tried to grasp the console with its fork, but the console dropped around the middle of east side of the pool… It dropped between debris in the pool and curing material on the upper part of fuel rack… there were 2 fuels under dropped debris.
Time… 12:45p: Failed to grasp the console of fuel handling machine and dropped it; 2:37p: Resumed coolingthe spent fuel pool…
Confirmed situation and future schedule– After console dropped, parameters concerned were confirmed to be normal. (1) monitoring post : no significant change; (2) atmosphere dose of operation floor of reactor building: no significant change (3.2mSv/h); (3) water level of spent fuel pool : no significant change; (4) water level of skimmer surge tank : no significant change (confirmed after restart of cooling spent fuel pool); (5) dust monitor of operation floor of reactor building: below the detection limit (1.0×10-5Bq/cm3)
TEPCO will continue monitoring regularly ((1) to (4) above) until it is confirmed that the fuel rack etc. are not damaged.
Schedule – August 29: analyzing concentration of radioactive materials of spent fuel pool; August 30:Using underwater camera, TEPCO will confirm that fuel rack and two fuels are not damaged.
Officials: Radioactive material released into air from Fukushima plant, areas far away being contaminated — Gov’t tracking plumes using emergency prediction system — “Large amount” of radioactive substances will soon be released (PHOTOS & VIDEO)
Kyodo News, July 14, 2014: Debris cleanup at Fukushima reactor may have contaminated rice crops [in] areas located more than 20 km from the crippled nuclear plant. Farm ministry officials said they could not deny the possibility […] A Tepco spokesman said the company does not deny the possibility that its cleanup work is to blame but added it isn’t clear whether that was the direct cause of the contamination.
NHK, July 14, 2014: Rice paddies located about 20 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant were found contaminated with radioactive cesium blown by the wind. The Fukushima Prefectural government revealed that last year’s harvested ricefrom 14 locations in the city of Minami Soma contained more than 100 becquerels of cesium per kilogram. This is beyond the government’s safety limit. […] [TEPCO] said it will increase monitoring of the spreading dust. Neither the ministry nor the utility told Minami Soma City officials the work at the plant may have contaminated the crop. City officials say they were greatly startled. They said the ministry should have explained the matter to local authorities much earlier. […] TEPCO is scheduled to conduct a large-scale debris removal work at Number One reactor. For this, it plans to disassemble covers which had been put to prevent the radioactive materials from spreading.
The Asahi Shimbun, July 14, 2014: [There’s] strong indications that earlier removal work contaminated rice paddies far from the stricken facility […] Although the utility has since suspended its clearing operations at the plant, the company plans to soon dismantle a cover installed on the No. 1 reactor building, where highly contaminated debris remains to be removed. TEPCO has not told the public about the ministry’s findings. […] the ministry concluded that the radioactive substances had been newly released […] The ministry is pointing to Aug. 19, when […] dose rates increased at five measuring points 2.8 to 8.3 km north-northwest […] the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) estimated that the released particles would reach the city within three hours. […] the utility said it has yet to learn how far the released particles spread. The company said its plans to dismantle the cover on the No. 1 reactor building will be the fastest way to remove wreckage from the site. TEPCO […] acknowledged that the procedure will still lead to the release of a large amount of radioactive substances, and the spread of the substances will depend on the weather and the wind direction.
PHOTO CAPTION: “The black spots on rice harvested in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, show radioactive substances.”
TV: Massive M8.2 quake in Eastern Pacific triggers tsunami — NHK: Fukushima plant cancels work, cooling pumps and emergency generators moved to higher ground — Agency warns high waves could reach Japan early tomorrow (VIDEO)
Arirang News, Apr. 2, 2014: Massive 8.2 earthquake off Chilean coast triggers tsunami — A magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile Tuesday evening local time, causing landslides and prompting authorities to issue a tsunami warning that forced those in coastal areas to evacuate. […] Asia may also feel the effects, Japan’s Meteorological Agency warned that high waves triggered by the quake in Chile could reach Japan by early tomorrow morning. […] the Japanese agency doesn’t yet know how big the waves will be.
Jiji Press, Apr. 2, 2014: Up to 1-meter tsunami could reach Japan […] Tsunami of between 20 cm and 1 meter could reach Pacific coastal areas in Japan on Thursday morning, a day after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile’s northern coast, the Meteorological Agency said. If necessary, the agency will issue a tsunami advisory at around 3 a.m. Thursday, or a tsunami warning much earlier. Tsunami are forecast to reach the Pacific coast of Hokkaido around 5 a.m., coastal areas of the Kanto eastern region around 6 a.m. […]
NHK WORLD, Apr. 2, 2014:Fukushima Daiichi wary of Chile tsunami — The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has cancelled work at the seaside planned for Wednesday night through Thursday morning. The possibility of tsunami caused by the huge earthquake off Chile forced it to call off the work. [TEPCO] made the decision after Japan’s Meteorological Agency said that advisory-level tsunamis up to one meter high could reach the country. […] TEPCO has also moved pumps for cooling the reactors and emergency generators to higher ground.