Monday, April 4, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: France's IRSN Assessment on Impact on Marine Environment

Now that Japan is openly dumping contaminated water and their government telling everyone who still listens that everything is safe, let's hear what the French experts have to say about the impact on marine life.

France's Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (IRSN) issued a paper on April 1 on impact of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident on the marine environment.

It doesn't seem that safe to me. The summary below (google-translated as my French is very rusty) says that while some of radioactive materials will be dispersed wide and over long distance, others will set on the particles suspended in water and will sink to the ocean floor, causing sediment contamination.

Oh great. The ocean floor will be contaminated with the likes of cesium-137 or worse. But not to worry. The Japanese government recommends you eat all the fish and seaweed you want, every single day for 365 days, and you still get only a quarter of the safe radiation dosage per year. What a bargain.

The paper is not yet translated into English/Japanese yet, but the Institute has started to do that for their March papers.

Here's Google translation (looks decent enough):

Measurements made over several days in sea water near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan show a high contamination of the marine environment by various radionuclides released during the accident at the plant.

In general, radioactive pollution at sea comes from:

  • partly from the direct discharge of contaminated water from the plant;
  • partly transferred by the rivers of radioactive pollutants deposited in soil following air emissions, then leached by rain;
  • benefits for part finally in the ocean part of the plume of radionuclides atmospheric air currents that led to the sea for much of the accident sequence.

Some of these radionuclides are soluble, they will be transported by ocean currents and disperse in oceanic water masses over significant distances.

Others tend to set more or less easily on the solid particles suspended in water, causing sediment contamination after deposition on the ocean floor. Radioactive elements of short half-life, such as iodine 131 (131I), will be detectable for a few months (the radioactivity of iodine-131 is divided by 1000 all ten half-lives, or every 80 days). Others, such as ruthenium 106 (106Ru) and Cesium 134 (134Cs) persist in the marine environment for many years. Cesium 137 (137Cs) has a half long (30 years) it may be justified to ensure close monitoring of long duration, in the coastal areas of Japan where he is likely to be present in sediment. It might be true of plutonium if it was in discards, which is not established yet.

Depending on the persistence of these radionuclides and their concentrations more or less important, some plant and animal species could be contaminated to significant levels, justifying the establishment of a radiological monitoring program of seafood from areas Coastal Japan's most impacted.

Download the information note of the IRSN: " Impact on the marine environment of radioactive releases resulting from the nuclear accident in Fukushima-Daiichi "(pdf)

Half life of:
  • Ruthenium-106: 373 days
  • Cesium-134: 2 years
  • Plutonium: 24,200 years (Pu-239)


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this isn't the first time super clean green nuclear power has left a mess in the ocean. Back in the very early days of nuclear power we dumped high level waste in steel drums in both the Atlantic and Pacific . That was the accepted way of dealing with the waste until the experts realize some forms of radioactive material are readily bio-accumulated up the food chain to dangerous levels.

Dounreay is a good example of what can be found at many reprocessing facilities.

"The first Dounreay Hot Particle was identified and recovered from the Dounreay foreshore in
1983 and a single Particle was recovered from Sandside the following year. It was not until
1996, however, that significant numbers of Particles were recovered. Since that time an
extensive research and development programme has been undertaken to identify the source of
Particles, their movement and lifetimes in the marine environment and their effects on human
and environmental health. Particles were released to the North Atlantic Ocean in the mid to late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There is no evidence of an on-going source of Particles from the Dounreay site. The source of Particles recovered from the Dounreay foreshore and from local beaches is the cache currently residing in marine sediments adjacent to Dounreay.
Sediment modelling studies indicate that the Dounreay Particles are generally transported subparallel to the coast in a north easterly direction. Studies to define contact frequencies and risks to human health suggest that the health risks associated with Particles are insignificant. There is, however, a significant perception of risk. UKAEA hopes to define a long term Particle management programme via the development of a best practical environmental option (BPEO) facilitated through consultation with all

"The Dounreay nuclear complex, situated on a remote part of the north coast of Scotland, was once home to a variety of experimental nuclear facilities including two prototype fast breeder reactors, a reprocessing plant and a materials test reactor. Nearly all of these are now closed, but the legacy of their waste, pollution and accidents lives on. One of the main areas of concern is the radioactive particles found near the complex. The latest radioactive fragment found on Sandside beach is one of the hottest yet detected."

Anonymous said...

Here's some other oceans of nuclear wastes for thought. See the link for a more detailed information of other nuc-waste sources

The most significant authorized releases of radionuclides to the sea are from nuclear fuel-cycle installations, particularly spent fuel reprocessing plants located at Sellafield (UK), La Hague and Marcoule – now closed – (France), Trombay (India), and Toki-Mura (Japan) (UNEP/GPE 2006). So long as they are well operated and regulated (not always the case) their routine emissions are thought to present relatively minor risks to human health on a regional or global scale (GESAMP 2001).

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Wait till they run out of storage space for dirty water they use to cool the reactor cores... 10 liters of dirty water from the pit by the ocean equals 10,000 tons of water that they are releasing now.

Anonymous said...

I didn't want to mention that but you could be right I don't think most nuclear sites have the ability to adequately treat such massive quantities of highly contaminated nuclear tea. A reprocessing facility would probably have the capacity to treat the waste water effectively but It would still take time. I don't think the Fukushima wastewater treatment facility is going to be working for awhile. I don't think "operation extension cord" is capable of providing the power needed to operate much more than sensors and lights at the facility.

As a side note there is a process known in early military nuclear reprocessing circles as a "Green run". This is when they reprocess fuel that was 16 days out of the reactor. Green runs would release massive clouds of I-131 among other waste a few times the US government bypassed all filtering to maximize the release as an experiment. They wanted to know what the plume signature would look like from Europe this gave them an idea of what to expect to see if the USSR were rushing their bomb production. The book in the link was published before these reason for the tests were declassified.

I know every commercial facility has a wastewater treatment plant but they aren't designed to process such huge volumes of highly contaminated water. They generally handle low level contamination caused by the occasional faulty fuel pin or two not a melted core. The lower level stuff they are dumping is probably the highest concentration they could effectively treat. The stuff they are trying to find a place to store will probably need to be massively diluted before treatment so people can get near the treatment equipment but then again maybe it won't matter if they can automate it somehow (Remember: dilution is the solution). Maybe our French friend might know if AREVA has any portable waste treatment technology that can make the situation tenable I hear they are sending water treatment stuff to Japan.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

You're right.. It didn't occurred to me. It's not just about volume of water but the radiation level. The facility they have at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuke Plant may not be capable of processing such a highly radiated water. I think the original plan was to bring the water in a super tanker over to Kashiwazaki Plant in Japan Sea side, and have the water treated there. But that idea seems to have disappeared...

M. Simon said...

Also keep in mind that the 1/4 dose is based on releases so far. Let us be generous and say a month. If things go at the same rate for 4 months you are up to a whole dose. Six months is a dose and a half. If it goes on a year 3X.

Of course things could get better and releases will slow down. Or they could get worse....

BTW I'm the Classical Values guy (Links To This Post). Former Naval Nuke (US). And I believe this is way more serious that most people imagine. Love your site. Which is why I link. I found you on Zero Hedge.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@M.Simon, that 1/4 dose does not even include the highly radiated water that was spewing from underneath the pit directly into the ocean for god knows how long, until it finally stopped yesterday. It could have been all these times. It looked to be a very vigorous flow, and no one even estimated how many liters per minute.

10 liters of that pit water is equivalent of 10,000 tons of water that they are now releasing.

And they say it's safe. Thanks for reading and commenting (more welcome). I was starting to think I was nuts for thinking this was so much worse than what they're saying or thinking.

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