December 7, 2011
The woes of Fukushima are far from over as the plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), announced recently that a purification mechanism has leaked at least 45 tons of highly radioactive water, some of which ended up flowing directly into the ocean. TEPCO officials are reportedly in the process of investigating the situation to determine the extent of the damage caused.
Throughout the past year, government authorities have been working with TEPCO to bring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility into a complete, cold shutdown by the end of the year. This means that instead of exceeding its boiling point and reheating nuclear fuel as has been the case since the devastating March 11 disaster, nuclear cooling water is effectively maintained below its boiling point in order to prevent any further leakage and damage (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011…).
But according to information posted on TEPCO’s website, a decontamination device that had been purifying radioactive cooling water sprung a leak, which sent at least 45 tons of highly radioactive water outside the containment facility. Cracked concrete also allowed some of that water to leak into a gutter that drains directly into nearby ocean waters (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/cor…).
Samples taken of the water surrounding the purification device revealed shockingly high levels of radiation, with reports indicating 16,000 becquerels per liter (Bq/l) of cesium-134 and 29,000 Bq/l of cesium-137. This amount of radiation is 270 times and 322 times higher, respectively, than the government’s maximum safety thresholds, according to the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo.
ABusinessWeekreport explains that the water also contained 1.8 millisieverts per hour of gamma radiation and 110 millisieverts of beta radiation, both of which are damaging forms of ionizing radiation emitted from nuclear waste that can cause cell damage, leukemia, cancer and various other severe health problems.
“The source of the beta radiation in the water is likely to include strontium 90, which if absorbed in the body through eating tainted seaweed or fish, accumulates in bone and can cause cancer,” said Tetsuo Ito, head of Kinki University’s Atomic Energy Research Institute, concerning the situation. Data gathered found that strontium levels in the water are has high as one million times the government’s maximum safety threshold.
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This article was posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 4:14 am