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SOS Ocean from nuclear leak - European Committee on radiation risk: "nuclear explosion" "situation at Fukushima out of control"


By WcP.Watchful.Eye - Posted on 26 May 2011

Professor Christopher Busby (video): "As a matter of fact, right from the beginning, real situation is far worse. Lots of indicators: there have been nuclear explosions.. we now know from the data.. serious matter.. massive radiation coming out. It is still going on - by no means it is over…"
Greenpeace: Japan nuclear plant radiation accumulating in marine life
Japan declares nuclear emergency - fire broke out..11 nuclear reactors shut down... nuclear crisis since March 11: nuclear reactors react to 9.0 earthquake. Repeated human errors - 1979: Three Mile Island, 1986: Chernobyl (video "25 years later: Food for Thought"), 2011: Fukushima (nuclear fallout map and video from Japanese journalist, the first to enter the radiation evacuation zone)

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May 26, 2011 - Greenpeace: High radiation levels detected in Japanese seafood: Tokyo - High levels of radioactive substances were found in seaweed and other seafood products near a damaged nuclear power station in north-eastern Japan, environmentalists.

Greenpeace Japan said it found radioactive substances above the legal limits for consumption in 14 of 21 samples of products that included seaweed, shellfish and fish caught 22 to 60 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Since the plant was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, it has leaked radioactive substances into the environment. In early April, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co started to dump low-level radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean to make room for even more contaminated water that had been leaking into the sea.

Greenpeace found 127,000 becquerels of iodine-131, more than 60 times the legal limit, per kilogram of seaweed near Ena port, 50 kilometres south of the plant, and 20,000 becquerels of iodine-131 per kilogram in seaweed in Nakoso port, about 60 kilometres south of the plant.

The group detected 608 becquerels of caesium-134 and 611 becquerels of caesium-137 in whitebait caught off Nakoso port. The legal limit is 500 becquerels. It also found 646 becquerels of caesium-134 and 639 becquerels of caesium-137 in sea cucumber in Hisanohama port, about 30 kilometres south of Fukushima Daiichi.

Jan van de Putte, a Greenpeace radioactivity safety expert, said he was worried about the 'very high concentrations of iodine' found in seaweed. He urged the government to release information on the amount of radioactivity and kind of radioactivity released into the ocean from the plant, located 250 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, and the migration mechanism of radioactivity into the sea.

May 19, 2011 - After Japan nuclear power plant disaster: How much radioactivity is in the oceans? "The impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl." A result of the loss of electricity, overheating at the power plant led to significant releases of iodine, cesium and other radioisotopes to the environment. Japanese officials have raised the severity of the nuclear power plant incident to level 7, the highest level on the international scale and comparable only to the Chernobyl incident 25 years ago, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "When it comes to the oceans, however," says Buesseler, "the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl." Radionuclides in seawater have been reported from the Fukushima plant's discharge canals, from coastal waters five to ten kilometers south of the plant, and from 30 kilometers offshore.

"Levels of some radionuclides are at least an order of magnitude higher than the highest levels in 1986 in the Baltic and Black Seas, the two ocean water bodies closest to Chernobyl," says Buesseler.

April 3, 2011 - Japan Nuclear Leak: Radioactive Water Continues Pouring Into The Sea Just how much is leaking? According to the New York Times: "Experts estimate that about 7 tons an hour of radioactive water is escaping the pit. Safety officials have said that the water, which appears to be coming from the damaged No. 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, contains one million Becquerels per liter of iodine 131, or about 10,000 times levels normally found in water at a nuclear facility."

May 26th, 2011: Greenpeace: Japan nuclear plant radiation accumulating in marine life - Radiation from Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is accumulating in marine life off Japan's coast above legal limits for food contamination, Greenpeace said Thursday, May 26th. The environmental group said its findings run counter to Japanese government reports that radiation from the Fukushima plant, damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is being diluted as time passes.

“Despite what the authorities are claiming, radioactive hazards are not decreasing through dilution or dispersion of materials, but the radioactivity is instead accumulating in marine life," Greenpeace radiation expert Jan Vande Putte said in a press release.

Greenpeace said its teams collected samples of marine life along the Fukushima coast and in international waters outside Japan's 12-mile territorial limit. The samples were tested by nuclear research laboratories in France and Belgium, and high levels of radioactive iodine and cesium were found, it said. Fish, shellfish and seaweed all showed significant levels of radioactive contamination, according to Greenpeace. All are widely consumed in Japan.

Besides consumers, fishermen are at risk from the elevated radiation levels, Greenpeace said. “Ongoing contamination from the Fukushima crisis means fishermen could be at additional risk from handling fishing nets that have come in contact with radioactive sediment, hemp materials such as rope, which absorb radioactive materials, and as our research shows, radioactivity in fish and seaweed collected along Fukushima’s coast,” Wakao Hanaoka, Greenpeace's Japan oceans campaigner, said in the statement. The Japanese government has evacuated nearly 80,000 people from areas within 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of the plant to reduce their radiation exposure. Tens of thousands more may be moved if an exclusion zone is widened to reduce long-term radiation exposure.

May 4, 2011 - Radioactive readings jump in Japan's seabed: Levels of radioactive iodine and cesium are up to 1,000 times the normal figures, Fukushima nuclear operator TEPCO reveals. Seabed samples collected near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, crippled by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March, contained radioactive iodine and cesium, Japan’s Kyodo news reported. The normal readings for the materials can be up to several becquerels, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said. But these readings were between 98 to 190 becquerels of iodine per kilogram and 1,200 to 1,400 becquerels of cesium.

Highly radioactive water leaked into Pacific Ocean. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said on May 11 that it had discovered highly radioactive water was flowing into the ocean near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant..
May 12, 2011 Japan: New radioactive leak into ocean TEPCO announced earlier in April that it would manage to reduce radiation leaks from the quake-hit Fukushima plant within three months and also to cool the reactors, and control the radiation within six to nine months.

May 28, 2011 - Japan slammed as new leak found at stricken nuke plant: The disclosure raises the stakes in a race to complete by next month a system to decontaminate a massive pool of radioactive water at the site that critics see as a growing risk to both the Pacific and groundwater. Earlier, the utility dumped about 10,000 tons of radioactive water into the ocean, prompting criticism from China and South Korea.

May 26, 2011 - New readings show levels of radioisotopes found up to 30 kilometers offshore from the on-going crisis at Fukushima are ten times higher than those measured in the Baltic and Black Seas during Chernobyl. "When it comes to the oceans, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceonographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, "the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl." Virtually all of Japan's 55 reactors sit on or near earthquake faults. A 2007 earthquake forced seven reactors to shut at Kashiwazaki. Japan has ordered shut at least two more at Hamaoka because of their seismic vulnerability. The news comes amidst a tsunami of devastating revelations about the Fukushima disaster and the crumbling future of atomic power, along with a critical Senate funding vote today:

Fukushima's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has confirmed that fuel at Unit One melted BEFORE the arrival of the March 11 tsunami…

Virtually all of Japan's 55 reactors sit on or near earthquake faults. A 2007 earthquake forced seven reactors to shut at Kashiwazaki. Japan has ordered shut at least two more at Hamaoka because of their seismic vulnerability.

Numerous reactors in the United States sit on or near major earthquake faults. Two each at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, California, are within three miles of major fault lines. So is Indian Point, less than 40 miles from Manhattan. Millions of people live within 50 miles of both San Onofre and Indian Point.

On January 31, 1986, the Perry reactor, 35 miles east of Cleveland on Lake Erie, was damaged by an earthquake rated between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter Scale---orders of magnitude weaker than the one that struck Fukushima, and that could hit the sites in California, New York and elsewhere around the globe.

TEPCO has confirmed that at least three of the Fukushima reactors---Units One, Two and Three---have suffered at least partial fuel melts. In at least one case, the fuel has melted through part of the inner containment system, with molten radioactive metal melting through to the reactor floor. A wide range of sources confirm the likelihood that fission may still be proceeding in at least one Fukushima core. The danger level is disputed. But it clearly requires still more commitment to some kind of cooling regime that will send vast quantities of water into ocean.

At least one spent fuel pool---in Unit Four---may have been entirely exposed to air and caught fire. Reactor fuel cladding is made with a zirconium alloy that ignites when uncovered, emitting very large quantities of radiation. The high level radioactive waste pool in Unit Four may no longer be burning, though it may still be general. Some Fukushima fuel pools (like many in the United States) are perched high in the air, making their vulnerability remains a serious concern. But a new report by Robert Alvarez indicates the problem in the US may be more serious that generally believed.

Unit Four is tilting and may be sinking, with potentially devastating consequences. At least three explosions at the site have weakened critical structures there. Massive leakages may have softened the earth and undermined some of the buildings' foundations. Further explosions or aftershocks---or a fresh earthquake---could bring on structural collapses with catastrophic fallout.

TEPCO has now confirmed that there are numerous holes in the containment covering Unit Two, and at least one at Unit One. The global nuclear industry has long argued that containments are virtually impenetrable. The domes at Fukushima are of very similar design and strength as many in the US.

The health impacts on workers at Fukushima are certain to be devastating.

After Chernobyl, the Soviet government sent more than 800,000 draftees through the seething wreckage. Many stayed a matter of 90 seconds or less, running in to perform a menial task and then running out as quickly as possible.

Despite their brief exposure, these "liquidators" have suffered an epidemic of health effects, with an escalating death toll. Angry and embittered, they played a significant role in bringing down the Soviet Union that doomed them.

At Fukushima, a core of several hundred workers essentially sacrificed themselves in the early stages of the disaster. They courageously entered highly contaminated areas to perform tasks that almost certainly prevented an even worse catastrophe.

David Brenner, the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, said of the workers: "Those are pretty brave people. There are going to be some martyrs among them'."

"I don't know of any other way to say it, but this is like suicide fighters in a war," said University of Tokyo radiology professor Keiichi Nakaga. Unfortunately, the toll among Fukushima's workers is certain to escalate. Even at that, Japanese officials have raised the allowable dosages for nuclear workers from 100 millisieverts to 250, five times what's allowed for US workers, and 125 times what reactor workers typically receive in a year.

A "dead zone" around Fukushima similar to the one surrounding Chernobyl is likely in the making. But for all the focus on land-based contamination, the continuing flood of radioactive materials into the ocean at Fukushima could have the most problematic long-term impacts.

Tokyo Electric has now admitted that on May 10-11, at least 250 tons of radioactive liquid leaked into the sea from a pit near the intake at Unit 3, whose fuel was spiked with plutonium. According to the Japanese government, the leak contained about 100 times the annual allowable contamination.

About 500 tons leaked from Unit 2 from April 1 to April 6. Other leaks have been steady and virtually impossible to trace. "After Chernobyl, fallout was measured," says Buesseler, "from as far afield as the north Pacific Ocean."

A quarter-century later the international community is still trying to install a massive, hugely expensive containment structure to suppress further radiation releases in the wake of Chernobyl's explosion.

Such a containment would be extremely difficult to sustain at seaside Fukushima, which is still vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. To be of any real use, all six reactors and all seven spent fuel pools would have to be covered.

But avenues to the sea would also have to be contained. Fukushima is much closer to the ocean than Chernobyl, so more intense contamination might be expected. But the high radiation levels being measured indicate Fukushima's most important impacts may be on marine life.

The US has ceased measuring contamination in Pacific seafood. But for centuries to come, at least some radioactive materials dumped into the sea at Fukushima will find their way into the creatures of the sea and the humans that depend on them.

*Update May 28, 2012*

Japan Nuclear Disaster: Farmers Pray For Radiation-Free Rice
FUKUSHIMA, Japan -- Last year's crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat, but Toraaki Ogata is back at his rice paddies, driving his tractor trailing neat rows of seedlings. He's living up to his family's proud, six-generation history of rice farming, and praying that this time his harvest will not have too much radiation to sell.

That conflict is shared by several thousand farmers in more than 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres) of Fukushima, where some of last year's harvest exceeded government safety standards because of radiation released when the March 2011 tsunami set off the world's second-worst nuclear accident.

For their rice to be sold, it will have to be tested - every grain of it. "All I can do is pray there will be no radiation," Ogata, 58, said last week, wiping his sweat during a break in his 1.5-hectare paddy 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. "It's not our fault at all, but the land of our ancestors has been defiled."

Following orders from the government, they have sprinkled zeolite, a pebble-like material that traps radioactive cesium, and added fertilizer with potassium to help block radiation absorption. That work is part of the 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) Tokyo has allocated for decontamination efforts this year.

There had been no time for that last year. Tens of thousands of bags of rice from that harvest were too radiated to be sold. The government bought those crops, which sit in giant mounds in storage.

Rice planting has been banned in the most contaminated areas, but the government allowed it at some farms in areas that produced contaminated rice last year, including Ogata's. After the October harvest, their rice will be run through special machines that can detect the tiniest speck of radiation.

*Update Jun 15, 2012*

TOKYO - Japan moved closer to restarting nuclear reactors for the first time since last year's earthquake and tsunami led to a nationwide shutdown after a mayor gave his support Thursday to bringing two of them back online.

All 50 of Japan's workable reactors are offline because of safety concerns or for maintenance since the March 11, 2011, disaster caused radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Public opposition to nuclear power remains high, even though the government has been pressing for the restart of reactors because it says nuclear energy is crucial to Japan's economy. Power companies have warned of looming shortages, as demand reaches its summer peak.

Work to restart two reactors in the western town of Ohi, which are the first ready to resume generating power, could begin as soon as this weekend now that the mayor signed off on the plan. Once the work begins, it takes about three weeks to get a reactor operating at full capacity.

Last year's massive earthquake and tsunami caused explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima plant. Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated because of the radiation leaks. Although the plant's operator says it has restored some stability, it could take years to decontaminate the area and decades to safely close down Fukushima's reactors.

Some nuclear experts are warning that spent fuel rods at a damaged plant in Japan could trigger a major catastrophe despite the government’s declaration in December that the emergency phase of the nation’s worst nuclear disaster was over.

Fifteen months after a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi plant and led to meltdowns, fears about reactor 4 have grown as its building holds a storage pool filled with 1,535 nuclear fuel rod assemblies.

The pool, which is 30 metres above ground, has been left uncovered since a hydrogen blast last year blew off the upper part of the outer wall of the containment building.

Most of the assemblies are spent fuel rods with a total amount of radioactive caesium equal to 5,000 atomic bombs of the kind that destroyed Hiroshima, said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.

The government estimated the amount of caesium—137 already released by the Fukushima disaster were equal to that of 168 Hiroshima bombs.

If a large quake or other event were to cause the pool to crack and drain, it could lead to a new catastrophe, Koide said.

“We just all have to pray that an earthquake does not happen before that fuel is removed,” Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer of US-based Fairewinds Energy Education, said on his website.

The plant suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors. But each of the three units holds fewer assemblies than reactor 4.

Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland, also sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki—moon in late March, saying, “It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on the No 4 reactor.” US Senator Ron Wyden, who visited the complex in April, expressed concern in a letter to the Japanese ambassador to the United States.

“The precarious status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear units and the risk presented by the enormous inventory of radioactive materials and spent fuel in the event of further earthquake threats should be of concern to all and a focus of greater international support and assistance.” “The true earthquake risk for the site was seriously underestimated and remains unresolved,” Wyden added.

Gundersen argued that the top priority of the operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) and the government “should be to move the fuel out of that pool just as quickly as possible.” The operator and the government also “need to strengthen that pool to make sure that it can withstand an earthquake” in the meantime, Gundersen said. “It is a serious concern.” He said he does not believe TEPCO and the government are taking it seriously enough.

Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of the nuclear disaster who inspected the complex in May, said the floor of the reactor building and supporting structure under the pool appeared to be intact.

But cranes that were supposed to carry spent fuel rods to a safer place collapsed during the disaster last year. TEPCO would need to erect a new building to support cranes.

The operator said it would start to remove the fuel in December 2013. The cleanup of the complex is expected to take decades.

Koide said he thinks TEPCO has been working on it with a sense of crisis, but that the government is eager to restart idled reactors and appears to lack that sense.

Critics say the government and major media are focusing too much on issues of the restart and an increase in the sales tax.

When he took office in September, Prime Mnister Yoshihiko Noda stressed that the rebirth of Fukushima was his government’s top priority.

“There is no rebirth of Japan without the rebirth of Fukushima,” he said.

In December, Noda declared a cold shutdown had been achieved at the Fukushima plant.

A “major fear factor” had been eliminated with the cold shutdown, the premier said then.

*Update July 1, 2012*
Japan Restarts Nuclear Reactor Amid Protests
The operator of the Ohi Power Plant in western Japan restarted one of its reactors late Sunday night, ending Japan’s temporary freeze on nuclear power for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear disaster 15 months ago, despite widespread protests.

Kansai Electric Power Company, also known as KEPCO, began removing control rods from reactor no. 3 at 9 p.m. local time, and hoped to achieve criticality, a sustained nuclear fission chain reaction, by early Monday morning. The reactor is expected to begin transmitting power Wednesday, and could be operating at capacity in a week.

The country has been without nuclear power since May when the last of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors was taken offline for scheduled maintenance.

The restart today came despite widespread opposition to nuclear power, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns at 3 reactors. Radiation fallout from the accident forced more than 80,000 from their homes.

Saturday night, hundreds of protesters began gathering outside the gates of the Ohi Power plant in a last ditch effort to try and stop the reactor from going back online. Demonstrators blocked a road leading to the entrance to prevent workers from getting in, holding banners that read “Stop the restart.” They remained late Sunday night, even as word came that KEPCO had turned the switch back on.

In Tokyo, tens of thousands gathered outside the Prime Minister’s residence Friday night, in the biggest anti-nuclear protest to date. Prime Minister Noda has aggressively pushed to restart idle reactors, saying that Japan faces a serious power shortage without them. While he favors reducing the country’s reliance on nuclear power over time, he has said eliminating them altogether would hurt the economy.

Yet, critics have questioned whether the government is acting too quickly, and ignoring the lessons of Fukushima. Earlier this week, 2 prominent seismologists said the government failed to take into account active fault lines near the Oi reactors, before giving the green light to bring them back online. KEPCO, which provides power to Kansai, Japan’s second biggest urban region, plans to reactivate its No. 4 reactor at Ohi on July 14.

*Update Oct 25, 2012*
Fukushima Watch: Where to Draw the Evacuation Line? Oct 24, 2012 - One of the many issues to emerge from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis was the evacuation question: Where should the line be drawn? Existing guidelines for an evacuation area of 10-kilometers around an accident site seemed inadequate, and while the eventual area in last year’s accident was expanded to about twice the size, it still fell short of international recommendations.

Oct 24, 2012 - Severe accidents at 4 of the 16 nuclear power stations - Japan To Extend Nuke Plant Evacuation Zone To 30 KmThe country's Nuclear Regulation Authority says severe accidents at four of the 16 nuclear power stations examined could result in widespread contamination beyond a 30-kilometer radius of the plants, and exceeding an international benchmark for evacuation. It proposed raising the extent of the evacuation zone around the country's nuclear plants from a 10-kilometer radius to 30 kilometers, Japanese media reported.

*Update Oct 26, 2012*
Oct 26, 2012 - Japan quake-hit nuclear plant "may still be leaking radiation" into sea A massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered fuelrod meltdowns at the plant, causing radiation leakage, contamination of food and water and mass evacuations, although the government declared in December that the disaster was under control. Ken Buesseler, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of the United States, said in his article on the Science website that little change in radioactive caesium levels found in Fukushima fish suggested a continued leak. "The fact that many fish are just as contaminated today with caesium 134 and caesium 137 as they were more than one year ago implies that caesium is still being released to the food chain"

Oct 25, 2012 - Fish Caught in Fukushima as Tainted as a Year Ago, Study Says Fish caught in waters off the coast of northern Japan, where an earthquake triggered a radiation leak at the Fukushima power plant, are still as contaminated today as a year ago, a study found. Contamination levels were particularly high among species dwelling at the bottom of the ocean, as sinking radioactive materials tainted the seafood, the research showed. The findings, published today in the journal Science, suggest there is a continued source of radiation from the seafloor that will have a lasting impact, said Ken Buesseler, the study’s author.

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Photos courtesy of AFP, Getty and AP

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  • "Love the images on this blog..there are some interesting articles about health I noticed...we tend to run a 50/50 risk of a heart attack...I noticed when in the USA recently everyone seemed huge..they ate massive meals...I reckon that is one cause of heart failure...just my opinion..but yeah these articles can be worrying to some folk so just heed the advice...I know I will." - Mick (The Sunshine Coast, Australia; Aug 29, 2009)
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  • "Very informative site by prose and picture..." - Jeff (Michigan, USA)

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