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Japan Power News

Safety Measures Fail To Stop Fukushima Plant Leaks 157

AmiMoJo writes "The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been developing countermeasures to deal with repeated leaks from tanks of contaminated water. But despite the measures, 100 tons of radioactive water leaked on Wednesday and Thursday. 'The leaked water was among the most severely contaminated that Tepco has reported in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, when damage caused by an earthquake and a tsunami led to meltdowns in three of the plant’s reactors. Each liter of the water contained, on average, 230 million becquerels of particles giving off beta radiation, the company said. About half of the particles were likely to be strontium 90, which is readily taken up by the human body in the same way that calcium is, and can cause bone cancer and leukemia.' The estimated volume of the leaked radioactive materials caused Japan's nuclear regulator to rank the leak a level-3 serious accident. The international scale of nuclear and radiological events ranges from zero to 7."
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Safety Measures Fail To Stop Fukushima Plant Leaks

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  • Color me Shocked! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:06PM (#46305325)

    It's not like everyone hasn't been saying this for 3 years now. If you'd been paying attention, you would already know this was the case. But I remember when people were saying this in 2011, 2012, even into 2013, they were nay-sayed and called coal shills and alarmists. Now what?

  • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:10PM (#46305361) Homepage

    Once the melted core hit the water table (considerably shallower than 1000' down considering the proximity to the ocean), you would get a huge radioactive steam geyser throwing the fission products into the atmosphere.

  • by chmod a+x mojo ( 965286 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:34PM (#46305517)

    Ummm, Physics would happen? Unless you had a convenient hole to pool the melt in it will just spread out and solidify ( that what the "core catcher" dishes under the reactors are designed to do ) and stop "reacting" so you would not get the melt actually burning a hole in the ground, you just have a spread out highly radioactive glassy metallic mess sitting at hot temps because of the residual decay heat.

    That and ground water, if the melt would burn down it's going to heat up water in the ground, resulting in radio-steam blasting from the hole, probable widening of the fractures the water is flowing through leading to ground instabilities, and irradiating of your groundwater supply.

    As others have stated as well, anything the hot melt would burn would also be irradiated and sent to the atmosphere, as well as radio-decay gasses.

    In other words, it would be a much more horrible headache than trying to control the decay heat until the fuel can be decanted and put into a longer term storage.

  • by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:57PM (#46305685)
    Love that comic. Bloom County was amazing and I miss it daily. Seen that particular one many times and had no interest in copying it from that website (I already own at least one book that includes it) until I tried to run my cursor over it. I just wanted to read it and kind of use my mouse cursor sometimes like a person would their fingertip to follow the text. The moment I did that the big red image replaced what I was trying to read and it became my mission in life to copy the damned picture. Out comes my screenshot utility and moments later I'm sending that out to several people just because I can.
  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:02PM (#46305711)

    Google Cherynobyl?

    To this very day it is so radioactive you can't get within 50 to 100 miles of it?

    Unless you take a guided tour [].

    However, this demonstrates nicely the factual level anti-nuclear lobby operates at.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:38PM (#46306011) Homepage Journal

    Strontium 90 has a half-life of 29 years. Obviously the process of decay will go on indefinitely, so it's pretty much meaningless to say that the leaking isotopes will decay "in decades".

    What we need to know is how long will it take the concentrations of harmful isotopes to drop to acceptable levels. Thata of course depends on how many times greater the concentration is than acceptable levels.

    If the initial concentration of S90 is acceptable, the answer is "instantaneously". If the concentration is 4x acceptable, the answer is "116 years". So it's not inconceivable that an S90 contamination problem could persist for centuries, although we have yet to determine whether we have such a problem.

  • Re:Solution: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:53PM (#46306153) Homepage Journal

    I didn't think you were trying to be an apologist. I agree this situation is not an issue for global, regional, or even local panic.

    There's a lot of ground between "not a serious problem at all" and "everybody run for the hills", and this situation falls into that territory.

  • by un4given ( 114183 ) <bvoltz@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:23PM (#46306441)

    I don't dispute your claim that coal puts a lot of radioactive material into the air, and I'm not anti-nuclear. However, with a coal power plant, it is a gradual and controlled release of radiation and if the coal-fired plant malfunctions or gets damaged, the release of that radioactivity stops. Contrast this with nuclear power, where a failure releases huge amounts of radioactivity at one time, in a concentrated area and continues to release radiation as additional systems fail (e.g. hydrogen explosions due to lack of cooling). The problem becomes compounded when you can't fix it, because the site is too radioactive to sustain human life.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Saturday February 22, 2014 @05:44AM (#46309975) Homepage Journal

    False dichotomy, coal is not the only other option. You are also selecting one statistic (deaths) that favours nuclear, ignoring the many others that suggest we should be reducing our reliance on it (cost, affect on people's lives, loss of land, contamination of the environment, waste).

    Your assertion that modern designs are fail-safe in "every sense of the word" doesn't even make sense, but I assume you mean that there is absolutely no way they could fail and release radioactive material. I'm afraid that simply isn't true. They are better, but not infallible. For example many rely on gravity to work, meaning that they can cope with external power loss. However, that does nothing to prevent the mechanism jamming when the plant is hit by an extremely large earthquake. Just like the last generation the current designers have tried to account for everything they think is a likely failure mode, but apparently didn't think Tohoku size earthquakes were very probable.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!