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Earth Japan News

Fukushima Ocean Radiation Won't Quit 210

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fish-can't-catch-a-break dept.
mdsolar writes with an update on how the oceans around Fukishima are doing. From the article: " The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere. Most of that radioactivity dispersed across the Pacific Ocean, where it became diluted to extremely low levels. But in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels, a relatively high level compared to the natural background. Similarly, levels of radioactive caesium in bottom-dwelling fish remain pretty much unchanged more than 18 months after the accident." The article suggests run-off from contaminated land and possibly a leak in the plant itself are to blame for the levels not dropping as expected.
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Fukushima Ocean Radiation Won't Quit

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  • Someone needs to check the units on this article!

    • by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:44PM (#41981947)
      A petabequerel is 10^15 bequerels. Someone didn't check when they copy-pasted the paragraph out of the article. Metric doesn't solve negligence.
      • More like somebody didn't understand exponentiation.

        • Nope - it was merely copied and pasted without fixing it properly.

          • by Minwee (522556)
            It's worse than that. Even the exponents had been corrected, the summary would state that 16.2 petabecquerels is equal to 10^15 becquerels.
      • by thesupraman (179040) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:54PM (#41985209)

        The USSR has dumped over 39PBq in to oceans intentionally .
        The UK has dumped over 35PBq in to the oceans intentionally.
        A total dumping over all countries of 85PBq is known (ignoring of course military dumping, etc)

        So I assume by 'largest' they simply mean as a single event, certainly a lot more than that has been dumped, and there are single sights with more than that also..

        While we are at it..

        Weapons testing released 2,566,087 PBq also, just for reference (a lot of it not that far from Vegas..)
        Chernobyl released 12,060 PBq

        Also for reference, 1kg of coffee, and 1kg of granite also has around 1000 becquerels, the remaining number we are supposed to consider 'relatively high'
        So here is hoping no one has granite kitchen tops, or drinks coffee regularly..

        Yawn.

    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:51PM (#41982037)

      The petabecquerel is an imaginary thing like orgone energy, homeopathy, human reason and Canada.

      Obligatory: http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120326002953/simpsons/images/8/87/Blinky_Art.png [nocookie.net]

  • mdsolar writes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:41PM (#41981897)

    mdsolar writes

    Stopped reading right there. It's the Slashdot equivalent of "An article on Fox news..."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Then you are an idiot. If you read the summary it seems interesting, and TFA backs it up.

      Dismissing information out of hand simply because of the source is dumb.

    • Re:mdsolar writes (Score:5, Informative)

      by rmstar (114746) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:18PM (#41982413)

      Stopped reading right there. It's the Slashdot equivalent of "An article on Fox news..."

      You are being ridiculous. The article in question was published in nature, which is about as reputable and prestigious as it gets.

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:43PM (#41981929)
    Godzilla now?
  • That's where Japan is hiding its forty-meter battle robots, Godzilla, and crashed alien spaceships.

  • Not unexpected (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:45PM (#41981957) Homepage

    It is expected to take the better part of this decade to even get at where the leaks are coming from, let alone stop them. The problem isn't going away any time soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:55PM (#41982095)

    I have a hard time believing the first sentence given all the nuclear weapon testing we've done in the Pacific.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Mod parent up. I want an answer to this too.

      • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:29PM (#41982557)

        Short version is that weapons are optimized to use the absolute minimum fissionable material and reactors are optimized for an engineering reasonable heat flux per sq meter.

        The cost of building an ICBM to carry something "just 500 pounds heavier" is enormous. The motivation to make weapons lighter is intense.
        On the other hand PWRs need to keep heat flux low enough to not boil at a sane flow rate, and BWRs REALLY need to stay in nucleate boiling mode. This means a reactor is insanely heavier than a weapon.

        A normal human can pick up a modern weapons physics package. Well you have to be in .mil and lift weights occasionally, not your average people of walmart. But the point is the fun stuff is pretty light. A reactor core is made out of hundreds of modules each of which requires a rather heavy crane to lift individually.

        Another way to put it is if you want to light it off, it needs well under 100 pounds of the fun stuff. But if you want to reliably extract a gigawatt or so for a couple decades, there's some thermodynamic and materials science reasons that ANYTHING that can transfer a GWt over the long term is gonna be tons. Doesn't matter if the heat came from U or Pu or coal, its gonna take tons of metal to reliably transfer that heat into water. Kinda like if you wanna fire, a match isn't all that big, but a GW class coal electrical power plant, which also uses fire, is really heavy.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Not to mention - the more of that material that is released as energy the better, from a weapons perspective. A proper warhead wouldn't spew heavy elements all over the place.

          • by Creepy (93888)

            That was going to be my point, as well - the US and Russia did above ground nuclear bomb testing for years. I believe India's initial testing was above ground as well.

    • by careysub (976506) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:30PM (#41982569)

      The lead-in sentence is certainly incorrect in its current, broad brush form. Immediately after a nuclear explosion the decay of short lived isotopes creates levels of radioactivity astronomically higher than a leaking civilian power plant. But those short lived isotopes rapidly disappear. Eventually you just have long-lived isotopes with half-lives of decades or longer.

      Nuclear power reactors burn-up an astonishing large amount of fuel. The biggest fission yield of any nuclear test was no more than 15 megatons, which is the energy equivalent of 880 gigawatt-days (thermal) of nuclear reactor operation. Fukushima Da-ichi produced 29,891 gigawatt-days of power a year, a number 35 times larger. The amount of long-lived radioactivity (i.e. what you have left after several weeks) in Fukushima far exceeded any nuclear weapon.

      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        You completely neglect the fact that *all* the radionuclides of a nuclear bomb ends up in the ocean.

        But only a small fraction (on the order of 3% give or take a factor of two) of that in Fukushima got out of the containments and of that only specific isotopes. And that's ignoring the obvious points that reactors #4 through #6 were unaffected (the spent fuel in the pool of reactor #4 is undamaged), the remainder accounts for less than half of the generation capacity and the fuel rods in the reactors had only

      • by Creepy (93888)

        Incorrect - at best, nuclear reactors burn 5% of the Uranium used, and that is best case scenario - average is more .5%. Only fast breeder reactors burn near 100% of their fuel and only a few exist and they are all considered experimental. They also require on-site fuel reprocessing, which brings up proliferation concerns (whether warranted or not).

        The US is now obsessed with building a LMFBR (liquid metal fast breeder reactor) which converts U238 (aka nuclear waste) to fissionable plutonium through a chain

  • 1000Bq per WHAT? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tp1024 (2409684) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:56PM (#41982113)

    Per kg, per cubic meter, per cubic foot?

    If the writer of an article is incapable of determining how to write meaningful data, the article isn't worth anything at all. (S)He's just a parrot of whoever wrote the original and has no understanding of what this is about.

    • by tp1024 (2409684) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:04PM (#41982225)

      Also, is it even water we're talking about or is it the ocean floor?

      Fuck everything about the "news coverage" of Fukushima.

      There is ZERO information you can gain from such rubbish that those retards keep puking out into the public even if you know what you're talking about. This isn't even propaganda, it's worse, it's just ignorant drivel designed to say something against nuclear power, by people who don't know the least what they are takling about, just what they want to be talking against.

    • The rest of the article refers to contamination levels in Bq/kg, which seems to be the standard unit for this. The level 1000 Bq/kg is not tremendously high, as it is only a few times larger than safe limits for human consumption of cesium-contaminated water (which hopefully are conservative). (And writers who don't know the difference between "rem" and "rem per hour" are even worse.)
      • by tp1024 (2409684)

        But is it "the ocean" or is the in fact the ocean floor - which would be much more plausible, as the water should have long been diluted to much lower levels.

      • 1000 Bq/kg water is save for humans? Hint: there is not such unit as Bq/kg.
        How do you know that?

        Anyway the fact that we use Bequerel in our days for measuring radioactivity is one case that everyone thinks radiation is harmless.

        Bq is based on an old unit called Curie. 1 gram radium is radiating one Curie (Ci).

        However 1 Ci is equivalent to 37 GBq ... so Bq is a very small unit, that is as if I wanted to measure the distance from London to New York in inches and then I say 1000 inches is not very much.

        However

        • by tp1024 (2409684)

          There is no such unit as 1000Bq per kg?

          You don't begin to see the extent of your ignorance, do you?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The problem is that caesium-137 bio-accumulates in plants and fish. If you then eat said plants and fish, as the Japanese like to do on occasion, it gets in your body and sits there, slowly irradiating your organs. In that context 1000Bq/Kg is rather high.

  • by kriston (7886) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:16PM (#41982399) Homepage Journal

    You might think that the Fukushima disaster "caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen," but not if you weren't already aware of the over five decades' worth of ocean dumping of atomic waste.

    Honestly.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Since is says 'largest discharge', they are talking single event, not cumulative.

      It still might not be true, but you shoudl be applying 5 decades of dumping.

    • Not to mention decades of atomic testing at Bikini and other pacific islands.
  • by Henriok (6762) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:27PM (#41982521)
    1000 bq isn't that much. It might be much compared to the background radiation but to put it in context, recommended values in Sweden after Chernobyl is to not eat meat that radiates more than 1500 bq/kg. This radiation comes from Cesium-137 that mostly rained down over us. And 10 years after we could still kill game (mostly moose) with in excess of 4000 bq/kg. Many residential houses stand on granite that contains radon, and the limits for radiation from radon was 1000 bq/m^2,until 2009 when the EU lowered the limit to 200 bq/m^2. So.. We in Sweden lived with this kind of radiation for quite some time and we don't really consider this a problem. The halflife of Cesium-137 is about 30 years so the radiation is dropping steadily but slowly.
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      This is a common issue across Fennoscandia, which sits on the world's oldest rock. We have a lot of uranium deep in the crust and radon gas that fills basements comes from its natural decay.

      It's one of the main reasons why most building permits nowadays require proper ventilation of basement levels. Radon in miniscule amounts as it seeps in is essentially harmless, but it tends to concentrate in unventilated areas.

    • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:47PM (#41983507)

      1000 bq isn't that much.

      It is if you have an anti-nuclear agenda to push. Which many people do, for whatever reason.

      • by danomac (1032160)

        I wonder what would happen if they couldn't use any modern conveniences anymore? Most people would implode.

      • by Pav (4298)
        It would also be nice if the radioactive material was uniformly distributed, which it isn't. As one of the Japanese physicists said (when speaking in a government session) fluid dynamics problems are some of the most difficult in physics. There'll be hot spots forming out there on the sea bed all the time more or less unpredictably.
    • by Creepy (93888)

      Interesting... I know granite contains radioactive thorium, but had never heard of radon (which is a gas). Guess there are some [snopes.com]. Radon gas is much more likely to come from soil or along with natural gas. Fracking tends to bring it up, as well.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      1000 bq isn't that much. It might be much compared to the background radiation but to put it in context, recommended values in Sweden after Chernobyl is to not eat meat that radiates more than 1500 bq/kg. This radiation comes from Cesium-137 that mostly rained down over us. And 10 years after we could still kill game (mostly moose) with in excess of 4000 bq/kg. Many residential houses stand on granite that contains radon, and the limits for radiation from radon was 1000 bq/m^2,until 2009 when the EU lowered the limit to 200 bq/m^2. So.. We in Sweden lived with this kind of radiation for quite some time and we don't really consider this a problem. The halflife of Cesium-137 is about 30 years so the radiation is dropping steadily but slowly.

      Yeah but radon is one of the main sources of lung cancer so it's far from harmless these levels. Some one in a foreign country that eats fish from there a couple of times a year probably wouldn't have much risk but a local eating it three to five times a week could be affected. I'd limit or avoid consumption of sea food from the area until the levels drop which is likely to be decades given the continued leaking and half life involved. This isn't anti nuke it's pro health so why take the risk if you can avo

    • by Shinobi (19308)

      You forget though, that the values are cumulative, and that alpha particles INSIDE your body can cause quite a bit more damage.

      Also, a bigger problem regarding radon is the fact that a lot of concrete was made from powdered granite. Thus you got concrete that contained radon in buildings. Concrete that was drilled in etc, and released dust containing radon, which got into lungs etc. And claiming that it's not been a big deal in Sweden is a big fucking lie. There's a reason many housing corporations perform

  • by edxwelch (600979) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:44PM (#41982745)

    It's no surpise that the sea is radiactive. Since the accedient there have been a series of leaks from the jury-rigged water purification setup:
    December 2011
    45 tons of water heavily contaminated with radioactive strontium escaped, of which 150 liters of water found its way into the ocean through a ditch connected with the beach
    26 March 2012
    80 litres radioactive water seeped into the ocean
    5 April 2012
    12.000 liters water with high levels of radioactive strontium escaped through a nearby sewer-system into the ocean

    On top of that the contaminated water lying in the basements is leaking into the ground water and out to the ocean. TEPCO are building a wall to contain that, but it won't be finished until 2014.

  • It does notmmake sense to compare background radiation with polution from a nuclear desaster.
    Background radiation is basically caused by stone and radon, bouncing of from yur clothes or skin. In case of radon you inhale it and exhale it and radiation hits the surface of your lung.
    Polution from a nuclear desaster has dozens or hundrets of isotopes that get build into your metabolizm. That means your inner organs ore more precisely your cells get radiated and destructed from the inside.
    That all has nothing to

    • by tp1024 (2409684)

      And that's why there is that concept called absorbed effective dose used to measure the biological effect of radioactivity (in sievert) - natural or otherwise. And using those, there is no question that Finland and Sweden must be evacuated in order to comply with the WHO rules setting a limit of 350mSv of absorbed effective lifetime dose, as the average there is 7mSv and 6mSv per person per year on average.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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