Japan Radiation Map

Friday, February 14, 2014

The latest news from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is not good.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has announced high levels of radioactive cesium have been recorded in the groundwater underneath Japan’s crippled Fukushima power plant. Contaminated groundwater samples were taken from a well outside. Tests have shown that the levels of cesium there are several thousand times higher than normal. Cesium-137 levels in the well water were at 54,000 becquerels per liter, while cesium-134 measured 22,000 becquerels, 220 times the permitted norm. The situation at the devastated nuclear power plant continues to deteriorate. According to TEPCO, the recent levels have soared to a record high. Experts are still trying to contain radioactive water that has been leaking. It has been discovered that the previous estimates were doctored to underplay the threat, with the plant operator shifting the blame on technical faults. Almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi station, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) still lacks basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said on Wednesday. The utility has been widely criticized for an inept response to the March 2011 disaster. Yet another Fukushima-related scandal has broken out as Japan's nuclear regulator criticized Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco)for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site. Tepco said last week that groundwater drawn from a monitoring well last July contained 5 million Becquerel per liter of strontium-90, five times the reading of 900,000 Becquerel per liter recorded earlier in the well. Tepco said there was a calibration mistake with one machine measuring strontium levels of well water at the plant, and it had also found an error with devices that measure radiation. "Something like this cannot happen ... The data is what becomes the basis of various decisions, so they must do their utmost to avoid mistakes in measuring radiation," Tanaka told reporters, though he added the mistake did not pose a serious safety risk at the plant. A Tepco spokesman said the utility will re-check all radiation readings of groundwater in light of the record strontium levels. To put that number in perspective, the legal limit for releasing strontium 90 into the sea is 30 Becquerel per liter. Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years. Its can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia. Strontium-90 is probably the most dangerous component of the radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon. The latest news from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has sparked fresh concerns over uncontrolled radioactive pollution. A spike of beta radiation was detected near an ocean-facing well of Fukushima's No. 2 reactor from 2.4 million Becquerel per liter on Monday to 2.7 million Becquerel per liter on Thursday, the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), announced on Friday. The radioactive materials were in a water sample taken from the observation well five meters from the coast, TEPCO said. The legal limit for strontium emissions is 30 Becquerel per liter. Half of the plant's reactors have experienced at least a partial meltdown since it was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The water used to cool the reactors has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water. Some of the radioactive water has been escaping into the Pacific Ocean. Last year, radiation leaks, power outages and other mishaps sparked international concern and prompted Japan's government to step in with more funds and support. As part of a turnaround plan approved by the government last month, Tepco hopes to re-start its biggest nuclear station, Kashiwazaki Kariwa, this summer. Tepco in November began the hazardous process of removing hundreds of brittle spent fuel rods from the damaged No. 4 reactor building at Fukushima. It said last week it had removed about 9 percent of more than 1,500 unused and spent fuel assemblies in the reactor's storage pool.