Thursday, July 11, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Seems to Say Cesium-Contaminated Dirt Contaminated Groundwater

No one knows from where, or how, but ever since the higher levels of radioactive cesium started to get detected from the groundwater samples in the observation holes along the seawall at the plant 3 days ago (July 8), particularly in the hole No.1-2, TEPCO's explanation up to that point became, obviously, invalid.

TEPCO had said that the high levels of tritium and all-beta in the groundwater samples were from the extremely highly contaminated water that leaked from a crack near the Reactor 2 water intake in early April of 2011, and that the soil had absorbed radioactive cesium and that was why the water samples were showing very low levels of radioactive cesium.

That explanation went out the door when 9,000 Bq/liter of cesium-134 and 18,000 Bq/liter of cesium-137 were detected from the hole No.1-2.

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority finally ran out of patience, and took up the subject in their regular press conference on July 10. Chairman Tanaka said it was now possible that the plant had been leaking contaminated water into the ocean for the past two years and 4 months. The same day, TEPCO's PR tried its best not to commit to anything by avoiding explanation. (Here's an article by NY Times' Hiroko Tabuchi, an admirable effort to make sense of extremely confusing press conferences by both NRA and TEPCO.)

But now, TEPCO has come up with the new explanation: It is the dirt particles in the water that are highly radioactive with cesium, not the water itself.

To prove it, TEPCO filtered the water using 0.45μm filter, and measured the radioactivity. Lo and behold! The numbers for cesium went down, to 1/100 of the numbers before filtration! Sigh of relief at TEPCO, no doubt.

That still doesn't explain the high levels of tritium and all-beta.

TEPCO's handout for the press (English) (7/10/2013):

(Click to enlarge)

The plan is still on, by the way, to release groundwater that is being pumped into tanks upstream to the ocean. TEPCO/government is still trying to obtain consent from the fishery association of Fukushima Prefecture. Some of local fishermen are saying, according to Tokyo Shinbun, that it doesn't matter anyway, as no one will buy fish caught off the coast of Fukushima anyway.

Once Abe and his minister in charge of countering baseless rumors (aka radioactive materials) have their way after the Upper House election, the fishermen will get to sell their catch, I'm sure.


Anonymous said...

Strontium is much more mobile in water and are more dangerous than cesium.

Anonymous said...

I'm quite sure that the fish from the coat of Fukushima will go very well with the rice from Fukushima.
To promote this Fukushima sushi, Abe will serve this to everybody who is visiting him, and the left overs he will eat. He will glow of pride that he is so healty, after all that sushi.
The unique selling point of this special sushi; you can eat it even when it's dark. It will have a beautiful glow at night.

Expect something like this in the near future, and you know what, the Japanese (kids) will love it! And eat it off course.

If you think I'm exaggerating, well let's see in a few months. Unbelievable things like this happened already before in the last 2 years in Japan...

Vyse Legendaire said...

Pork-cutlet Fukushima rice Abe is going to have to change his signature dish to Fuku-Saury cutlet w/ Fuku-rice, deluxe set w/ extra rice free.

Anonymous said...

Don't kid politician in Japan eats food from any part of Fukushima. That's reserved for the patriotic peasants and unsuspecting Third World suckers.

Anonymous said...

laprimavera, do you know why the fishermen oppose the bypass? Isn't it supposed to divert groundwater coming from the mountain side before it reaches the perimeter of the plant?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

They simply do not trust TEPCO. The wells and pumps to draw groundwater before the water reaches reactor buildings are located uncomfortably close to the reactor buildings, and despite TEPCO's word that the water wasn't contaminated, it turned out to be contaminated (albeit very, very slightly).

If they pump out too much groundwater, the levels of highly contaminated water in the basements of the reactor buildings would get higher than the water table, and that's not good at all.

The process of bypass requires the water to be stored in storage tanks first, before it is released to the ocean. I sure hope TEPCO won't accidentally release from the wrong tanks...

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Groundwater bypass info from TEPCO (Japanese only, PDF).

Page 2 has an aerial photo of the system.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I understand the attitude towards TEPCO, but I thought it was unfortunate in this case, since the bypass might have helped prevent leaks with higher levels of contamination.

Looking at the projected location of the bypass, though, it looks suspiciously well located if TEPCO ever needs to discharge water from the temporary tanks.

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