Print 39 comment(s) - last by nafhan.. on Aug 9 at 12:48 PM

The government is now stepping in to help clean up

Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been spilling more toxic water than previously thought, and the situation has gotten to the point where the government needs to step in. 

According to Yushi Yoneyama, an official with the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Fukushima is leaking about 300 tonnes of toxic water into the Pacific Ocean per day. It's not clear how long the contaminated water has been spilling out at this rate, but it's believed that the water has been leaking for the last two years since the earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant. 

In response to the news of 300 tonnes leaking per day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to take part in the cleanup. 

"To ensure safety, I would also like the head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority to do his best to find out the cause and come up with effective measures as a regulator," said Abe. 

The plan is to freeze nearly a mile perimeter around the four reactors by drilling shafts into the ground and sending coolant through them. This will make a wall of frozen soil that will prevent the flow of groundwater into the plant.

The main problem with this is that maintaining the ground temperatures for months or even years would be very expensive. The cleanup is already expected to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) is already trying to build a bypass to stop the flow of groundwater from reaching the plant as well.

The latest admission of the amount of leaking water further damages Tepco's credibility. Not only did the company fail to properly prepare for the earthquake/tsunami, but it's response to the disaster and time it took to reveal exactly how much toxic water is leaking has also hurt the faith in Tepco. 

That's why the government is stepping in. The ministry has already requested a budget allocation to help with the toxic water problem. 

Earlier this month, Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono confirmed at a regular monthly news conference that Tepco was aware of the leakage of radioactive water into the sea and groundwater. This was the first time the company had admitted this. Tepco had previously denied that any radioactive waste had reached the ocean, but it was eventually forced to start telling the truth in May after a coastal well sample showed abnormal levels of dangerously radioactive Caesium-137, which is a radioisotope with a half-life of 30 years.

Back in March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake shook Japan and crippled the reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It caused quite a bit of havoc with the release of radioactive watercontamination of crops and of course, the thousands of lives lost.

Source: Reuters

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300 tons/day
By max_payne on 8/7/2013 10:32:43 AM , Rating: 3
Hold your horses, they are talking about 300 tons/day, not 3000 even if it's not comforting in any way.

RE: 300 tons/day
By bug77 on 8/7/2013 10:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
300 tons/day? Where does all that water come from, was the plant built over a bunch of springs?

RE: 300 tons/day
By arazok on 8/7/2013 10:51:07 AM , Rating: 1
It’s on the coast beside the ocean. Wild guess here, but I’d suspect all that water is coming from…..the ocean.

RE: 300 tons/day
By Fidget on 8/7/2013 10:57:13 AM , Rating: 3
The word "spilling" is confusing as it implies somehow that the water is originating out of the reactor. Apparently tho the water is just lapping up through huge cracks and being pulled back with the material. There must be some big ass cracks

RE: 300 tons/day
By bug77 on 8/7/2013 11:03:58 AM , Rating: 2
Cracks in what? It's not like the plant's walls were built at sea. Is it leaking into the groundwater? Has the sea found a way into the reactor? With all the sensationalism, nobody cares to report on facts anymore. Just throw out "Fukushima", "spill" and a large number and call it news :(

RE: 300 tons/day
By TSS on 8/7/2013 11:55:39 AM , Rating: 5
Japan has mountains, and as we all (hopefully) know, water flows from the mountains down into the ocean.

Along the way it seems to pick up radioactive water that's still in the "basement" of the nuclear reactor. Basically, the protective concrete shell (AKA the building) has cracked and lets radioactive reactor water be carried out by the melted mountain water out to the ocean.

Atleast that's what i gathered from dutch news websites (certainly not off this one). Tepco's already tried to put a "shield" around the reactor to try and prevent radioactive water leaking out to the ocean but obviously, they've failed.

Why this hasn't been reported sooner? In my oppinion, a very simple reason: because japan like most countries in the world today has lost their way. It used to be that Failure ment Dishonor. Thus, one had a incentive not to fail as one would be personally dishonored usually ending in suicide.

Today, it's the Admittance of failure that causes dishonor, not the actual failure. This turns the incentive to not fail, around to not let anybody know you've failed. Causing problems to fester and get worse.

Don't kid yourself thinking it would be any different in western countries. If companies/the government can cover something up, they will try their hardest to do so. Not that it really matters since there never seems to be any consequence for the wrongdoings politicians do.

Yknow, unless they stick their penis into another man's behind. That seems to be the only thing to cause enough public embarrasment to have somebody step down these days.

RE: 300 tons/day
By puter_geek_01 on 8/7/2013 12:41:10 PM , Rating: 1
It used to be that Failure ment Dishonor.

Stepping down from a position of power is a disgrace(dishonor).

The president of the Japanese utility behind the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl said on Friday he was stepping down in disgrace after reporting the biggest losses in company history.

Although he was not asked to take his life, he is disgraced nonetheless

RE: 300 tons/day
By Schrag4 on 8/7/2013 1:56:27 PM , Rating: 2
Since the water is originating outside the plant, isn't it essentially "rinsing" all the radioactive material out? The amount of water leaking might not decrease but the level of radioactivity would be decreasing with each passing day, right?

RE: 300 tons/day
By Motoman on 8/7/2013 12:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
I saw a movie once in college by that name.

RE: 300 tons/day
By Jaybus on 8/7/2013 12:10:13 PM , Rating: 5
Probably coming from the cleanup efforts, most of which involve soaking contaminated soil, debris, etc. in heated water.

300 tons may be less than you think. Water is heavy. That is about 75,000 US gal per day. A standard backyard above ground kiddie pool, (12 ft in diameter with 4 foot walls), holds more than 12 tons. At 300 tons per day it would take a week to fill an Olympic pool.

RE: 300 tons/day
By Denigrate on 8/7/2013 12:53:34 PM , Rating: 5
If you inject facts like that, you'll remove the FUD factor. Can't go giving facts in a manner that goes against the article bias.

RE: 300 tons/day
By bodar on 8/7/2013 5:29:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're correct on the source. The Reuters article linked at the bottom of this one has more comprehensive info and does a better job of explaining the situation.

RE: 300 tons/day
By chromal on 8/7/2013 1:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
So, that's about 72000 gallons a day. Where does it come from? It's the cooling water that they have been injecting into the primary containment vessels to keep the nuclear fuel relatively cool. Unfortunately, after some combination of the earthquakes and hydrogen explosions, the primary containment vessels are leaking, probably through secondary pipes that were damaged. The water carry a witch's brew of fission byproducts no longer contained by the fuel's cladding (as it has already melted down). Unfortunately, it is the lesser of two evils.

Mainstream journalism has generally failed hard at covering nuclear accidents, Fukushima is no exception. Thank goodness for Internets tubes, though.

RE: 300 tons/day
By nafhan on 8/7/2013 11:26:38 AM , Rating: 3
Also, regarding radiation levels: there's nothing. We've got the word "abnormal" in this article. I'd feel comfortable defining abnormal as: detectable and different than normal, but beyond that there's really no info.

The lack of real info generally indicates scare-mongering rather than an actual problem, but I'd be interested in seeing some better sources if someone has them.

RE: 300 tons/day
By drycrust3 on 8/7/2013 1:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
Also, regarding radiation levels: there's nothing. We've got the word "abnormal" in this article. I'd feel comfortable defining abnormal as: detectable and different than normal, but beyond that there's really no info.

From the way they spoke about this, it could well be the amount of water flowing through the reactor depends on the weather, and under that senario the actual amount of toxic material varies depending upon the precipitation outside of the reactor, thus in dry weather there is more and in the wet weather there is less.
Really, this is quite a serious situation because so much depends on why there is water flowing out and where it has been. For example, say you have a water level sensor (e.g. a ball cock) that is incorrectly set on some tank containing some nuclear waste, then the tank is overflowing at a constant rate, but the toxics that are being spilt will deplete over time.
Another senario is there is a crack in the bottom of the nuclear core chamber, and that water is being pumped in to try and keep some semblance of pressure there. Under this senario the ground under the chamber is eroding away and the amount of water needed will increase, and that as it increases the possibility of the core getting hot again increases, which means the amount of toxics that one can expect will also increase.

RE: 300 tons/day
By nafhan on 8/7/2013 2:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
From the way they spoke about this
From the way they spoke about this, just about anything could be going on! Anyway, the amount of water flowing through doesn't mean much if you don't know what the radiation level of the water is after leaving. If x*y=z. Knowing that "y" is a huge number doesn't tell you what "z" is unless you also know "x".

Further, I'm not arguing that this isn't a serious problem. I'm saying the authors of the article here - and it's sources - are trying really hard to make it sound serious without giving the reader any information on how they came to this conclusion.

More BS
By Concore on 8/7/2013 11:54:03 AM , Rating: 3
and of course, the thousands of lives lost.
What a BS line...

How many died due to radiation exposure? Answer - ZERO

RE: More BS
By ClownPuncher on 8/7/2013 12:08:57 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, but that's not what the sentence says. It clearly states the earthquake and tsunami caused those deaths.

RE: More BS
By Concore on 8/7/2013 12:55:19 PM , Rating: 2
It clearly states the earthquake and tsunami caused those deaths.

Clearly it does not... the statement does not even mention the tsunami. It clearly implies that "thousands" have died as a result of the release.

RE: More BS
By flyingpants1 on 8/7/2013 1:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
No, you just can't read good. It says the the earthquake caused thousands of lives to be lost, among other things. It's plain English. It's also obvious.

RE: More BS
By Newspapercrane on 8/7/2013 2:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
You mean he can't read "well".

RE: More BS
By Reclaimer77 on 8/7/2013 2:11:58 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe he went to the Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too?

RE: More BS
By ClownPuncher on 8/7/2013 2:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
Not if we are speaking English. In English, we see that the article says the earthquake caused the nuclear problems as well as the deaths. The majority of the deaths directly attributed to the tsunami, which was caused by the earthquake.

RE: More BS
By ClownPuncher on 8/7/2013 2:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
"It" being the earthquake, of course.

RE: More BS
By Dug on 8/7/2013 12:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't happen right away. First it will be cancer and then death.
Expected death toll due to cancer from radiation exposure is about 1000.

RE: More BS
By nafhan on 8/7/2013 2:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
Not that wiki is infallible or anything, but the wiki article and all it's sources cite much lower numbers.

RE: More BS
By poi2 on 8/7/2013 1:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
RE: More BS
By Concore on 8/8/2013 11:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
Did you read the article?

Freeze the perimeter?
By Gunbuster on 8/7/2013 12:34:04 PM , Rating: 2
"plan is to freeze nearly a mile perimeter around the four reactors by drilling shafts into the ground and sending coolant through them."

Have they been watching too much anime? Why don't they just build some prototype Gundams to clean this up.

I'm not sure how to calculate the energy you would need to perma freeze a wall of ground, but I think it would be around the output of a reactor. Better get started building neo-fukushima. Not to mention where are they going to pump all that heat?

RE: Freeze the perimeter?
By chromal on 8/7/2013 1:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
It's actually an established technique for dealing with subterranian water flows-- they used it at CERN to sink shafts for the LHC through some underground rivers. A mile-long circumference around the plant seems a bit far-fetched.

Technically, Fukushima Daiichi reactor plants 5 and 6 are intact, if they wanted to fire up some locally-generated power.

RE: Freeze the perimeter?
By FaaR on 8/7/2013 8:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking just pouring a heck of a lot of concrete into the basement of the plant ought to stop water leaking out. Also, possibly, dig/drill out all around and under the plant, pouring a second, outer foundation like a capstone. You'd build inspection/drainage tunnels and whatnot of course to prevent any new cracks from causing new leaks. Surely this would be less complicated and costly than freezing huge areals for 40 friggin years...

RE: Freeze the perimeter?
By marvdmartian on 8/8/2013 7:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
Well, lucky for them, they have a nuclear power plant nearby, that could be started up and supply the energy! [/sneaky]

Its a Joke!
By Belard on 8/7/2013 12:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
The cleanup is already expected to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion.

Good thing that nuclear power is cheap clean energy.

RE: Its a Joke!
By nafhan on 8/7/2013 2:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
It is!

Running poorly managed and poorly designed plants for decades past their designed end of life has been shown to be somewhat expensive and dangerous, though. Like many things: nuclear power is dangerous when you're stupid with it.

RE: Its a Joke!
By roykahn on 8/7/2013 5:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't call it stupid, it's more likely a case of profit maximization, which is supposed to be a good thing, right? If you disregard some safety, then you can save money on the cost of operations. Whether it's the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, or the many other oil spills, people will find a way to make an extra buck by cutting corners and then cover up the impact.

The trick is to get a balance between safety and cost, which is easier said than done. If you implement high safety standards, then there's a greater chance of operators ignoring those standards because they could be perceived to be tedious and unnecessary.

RE: Its a Joke!
By nafhan on 8/9/2013 12:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
In this specific case, I think they were stupid. Being motivated by profit doesn't make it less stupid.

Pacific Rim ?
By max_payne on 8/7/2013 11:18:32 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone saw that movie ? Better start building those robots NOW ...

By MZperX on 8/8/2013 11:52:43 AM , Rating: 2
...this article is lacking them. "Toxic water"? What are the radiation levels? What isotopes and in what PPM concentration are in the water? I know the article mentions Caesium-137 but without quantifying the released amounts it is not informative at all as to the severity of the situation or the real danger posed to humans.

By okashira on 8/8/2013 11:57:48 AM , Rating: 2
The plan is to freeze nearly a mile perimeter around the four reactors by drilling shafts into the ground and sending coolant through them. This will make a wall of frozen soil that will prevent the flow of groundwater into the plant.

Leave it to the Japanese to come up with a crackpot plan like that.

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