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  (Source: nationalgeographic.com)
It's a seven-point scale

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan has had issues with toxic water leaving the site of its damaged reactor, and now, Japan's nuclear agency is upping the toxicity level of this water. 

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority is looking to raise the alert level of a leak at the plant from a one to a three on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). INES is a seven-point scale. 

The move still has to be approved by the United Nations' nuclear agency.

The reason behind this increase in severity is the fact that 300 tonnes of radioactive water is leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the plant daily, which contains radioactive particles of cesium, tritium and strontium. To make matters worse, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said that one puddle of the toxic water emits 100 millisieverts an hour of radiation. 

"One hundred millisieverts per hour is equivalent to the limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers; so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour," said Masayuki Ono, general manager of Tepco.

Officials are already working to try and prevent more toxic water from leaving storage tanks, such as the leak that may receive a three on the scale. For instance, sandbags are being used to surround the tank and absorb water. 

Just last week, it was announced that Japan was looking into creating an ice wall, which would turn soil into a permafrost-type condition through the use of refrigerated coolant. This would build an underground containment wall made of ice to hold the water and stop it from going into the Pacific. 

However, the government doesn't have a cost estimate for the project yet. Kajima Corp. -- the construction company that largely built the nuclear plant -- has until March 31, 2014 to create a feasibility study of the ice wall.

The government would like the project to be completed by July 2015. 

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: BBC News



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Damn, this is disturbing!
By blueboy09 on 8/21/2013 11:10:41 AM , Rating: 3
When five years of radiation for a worker is concentrated into one hour of leaked radiation on a daily basis, this cause for concern. The government of Japan tried to downplay the event saying it was safe to be at a certain distance, but the evidence shows for itself. Just wait until cancers start occurring on residents even at a distance from the plant. They're going to be sorry that something wasn't done sooner. At 60 years approaching for those nuclear stations, they should've been updated a Long time ago. In the end they will pay dearly, believe me..




RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By amanojaku on 8/21/2013 11:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
Fukushima is only 42 years old, not 60, having completed construction of Dai-ichi (number one) in 1971. The Dai-ni through Dai-roku (2-6) plants completed construction between 1974-1979. And the plants weren't supposed to be updated; the original recommendations were 30-40 years until decommission. Ironically, regulators extended the lifetime by 10 years just one month before the disaster. Updates probably wouldn't have helped, as no one planned for a tsunami of that magnitude. And TEPCO had been falsifying safety inspection reports since 1978, so who knows what upgrades would have been done. It was a generation I plant, after all, and generation III+ is current. The overhaul would have required shutting down the whole plant.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By Samus on 8/21/2013 4:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
It wasn't even updates they needed. These General Electric reactors are very safe. We use the same exact reactors 40 miles North-East of Chicago in Michigan City, IN.

What they needed were waterproof backup generators. These GenII reactors would have likely run safely another 40 years. (There are plants in service that have been rescheduled for 80 year service that use these same reactors)

I think a lot of people need to understand these old-style reactors don't just turn off instantly. Sometimes it can take weeks to shut down a reactor. The purpose of the backup generators is to continue cycling water through the reactor cooling channels to prevent them going critical. This process was executed properly in every other nuclear plant in Japan after the earth quake and Tsunami.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By pattycake0147 on 8/22/2013 8:50:04 AM , Rating: 2
I believe you are misinformed. First, Michigan City is southeast of Chicago not northeast. Secondly, you lead people to believe that the plant is nuclear when it is in fact a coal-fired plant.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By SPOOFE on 8/22/2013 5:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm confused on the geography now. Glancing at "Chicago" and "Michigan City" on the Wikipoo seems to suggest that the latter is directly east of the former. They're both right on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By chromal on 8/21/2013 9:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with a lot of that, although technically this was solidly a Gen-II plant design. Reactor no. 3 had a plutonium/uranium fuel mixture and was a slightly updated JDM build. No. 1 is pretty much an old-school GE BWR, construction design first submitted to Japanese authorities in 1966. What has always been controversial about this Gen-II design is its containment setup.

This is a cool comparison:
Gen I (Shippingport, PA)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shippingport_LOC...

Gen II: GE BWR (like Fukushima) (Brown Ferry)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36...


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By tng on 8/21/2013 2:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just wait until cancers start occurring on residents...
Well it has started happening to people who were nearby when this happened.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushim...


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By tng on 8/21/2013 2:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well it has started happening to people who were nearby when this happened.
OK... It really hasn't yet, but this is the kind of thing that they are looking for and someone sent me the link saying that the sky was falling based on the headline.

The headline of this article leads one to think that they are starting to have issues when in fact they are not. Guess the press is the same everywhere.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By Samus on 8/21/2013 4:49:36 PM , Rating: 4
What's disturbing is the ocean can only dilute this radiation for so long. Nearby wild life, especially fish, are going to be affected before humans.

They are breaking the golden rule: Don't fuck with your food supply.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By maugrimtr on 8/22/2013 10:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
Worse, the food chain will concentrate the radiation. Any creature which consumes food will have radiation from the bottom of the food chain building up in their bodies (and those of their predators in turn) until it reaches a Human's plate.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By drycrust3 on 8/21/2013 5:26:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
OK... It really hasn't yet, but this is the kind of thing that they are looking for and someone sent me the link saying that the sky was falling based on the headline.

Did you read the article? Here is the start of that article:
quote:
Six young people in Fukushima Prefecture, who were aged 18 or under when the nuclear crisis began to unfold there in March 2011, have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since June, prefectural authorities said Aug. 20.
In addition, 10 children are believed to have developed the same form of cancer.

Notice anything unusual? 6 people who one wouldn't expect to get thyroid cancer have now got it, and they got it sooner than one would expect. It may well be this is within the statistical norm for a population of that size, but you haven't said that is the case, and no one else has said that, so I'm guessing it is well outside the statistical norm. Would you be happy if this plant was leaking a mile down the road from your house? Would you be saying things like "It really hasn't yet" to your neighbours when their children get strange lumps on their bodies and can't run and play like they used to?
The most obvious conclusions one can make about this report are either the leaking was happening prior to the earthquake, or the levels of radiation have been under-reported, or that both of these have happened.
The real big problem here is that right from the start there was too much "saving face" going on in the face of a potentially really serious situation.
Whether shutting down the whole plant as soon as the tsunami struck would have saved the situation is a big unknown, but to me it would have been the best option in a situation where you don't know if your plant is fully functional.
Even now this whole area should not be used for habitation, agriculture or fishing, but no, the "oh no, we must save face" brigade will turn up and people will be getting cancers and nothing will be done about it above the doctor - patient level.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By nafhan on 8/21/2013 3:08:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When five years of radiation for a worker is concentrated into one hour of leaked radiation on a daily basis, this cause for concern.
Except that this hasn't happened. Measuring radiation and having someone exposed to it are two completely different things.

There is still cause for concern, of course. Just pointing out that the reality of the situation does not include anyone being regularly exposed to high levels of radiation.


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By V-Money on 8/21/2013 6:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When five years of radiation for a worker is concentrated into one hour of leaked radiation on a daily basis, this cause for concern. The government of Japan tried to downplay the event saying it was safe to be at a certain distance, but the evidence shows for itself. Just wait until cancers start occurring on residents even at a distance from the plant.


It's still not nearly as bad as you are trying to make it out to be. First off the "limits" for radiation worker (I was one for six years) are very, very conservative, so five times the amount over a 5 year period won't realistically do much.

Second, this amount of radiation is being measured at the highest source...meaning that unless you stand right next to the source for an hour straight you won't receive nearly that much (and if you are you deserve to get cancer for being so stupid).

Third, and this is the important part, there are many things that will cut down that radiation. For instance, 2" of lead, 4" of steel, and 24" of water will cut down that radiation by 90% (10th thickness...look it up if you don't believe me), so if there is at least 2 feet of water between you and the source it is already only 10% what they claimed (assuming you are right next to the source, the farther away from it that you are the less it is). If there is 4 feet of water between you and the source it cuts gamma radiation down by another 90%, or to 1% of the original amount. This also assumes worst case of being next to the one puddle that is that high, or the "hot spot".

Now I am in no way saying that this is a good thing, radiation is a bad thing that you want to avoid, but the levels that we are realistically exposed to are no worse than any of the other crap we introduce our bodies to (such as highly processed fast foods or the high level of stress that we cause by worrying too much about things we don't understand, not to mention pollutants caused by other power plants such as coal). I guarantee though that now when anyone in the general area gets cancer it will be blamed on this.

All I'm asking from you anti-nuclear types that don't even pretend to understand anything about nuclear power yet talk about it as if you are all experts is to realize that radiation is not guaranteed to cause damage (at these levels, it would take a lot more radiation to guarantee damage) but it increases the risks. This is like how you increase the risk of dying in an accident by simply driving. There are risks, and radiation exposure can increase your chances of getting cancer, but not by the levels that you think.


By marvdmartian on 8/22/2013 11:23:14 AM , Rating: 2
Being old school, I had to look up the conversion rate to millirem (what I learned). 100 millisievert/hr, times 1 millisieverts per 100 millirem, comes out to 10,000 millirem per hour, or 10 Rem/hr.

While I wouldn't want to stand next to that source for any appreciable amount of time, this does show that the Japanese limit is ~2 Rem/year. Substantially higher than the US Navy dose limit of 0.5 Rem/year, but about equivalent to what US companies running nuclear reactors have for their maximum yearly dose.

It should be noted, however, that it would take nearly half a day's exposure, at this dose rate, in order to absorb a sufficient dose to experience even the first symptoms of radiation poisoning (usually experienced, in healthy adults, at 100 Rem exposure), which would include nausea, vomiting, and a slight fever. Like I said, not something I'd want to spend any significant time around!

However, you made this point, which was confusing:
quote:
The government of Japan tried to downplay the event saying it was safe to be at a certain distance, but the evidence shows for itself.

Perhaps your understanding of radiation dose rate is lacking?

Dose rate from a radiation source is determined by 3 aspects, time, distance and shielding. The more time you spend around it, the higher the dose (like I just talked about). The more shielding you have between you and the source, the lower the dose (lead jock strap, anyone?). And the more distance between you and the source, the lower the dose.....so the Japanese government's saying that it's safe at a certain distance would be entirely correct.

I'm not downplaying this, by any means, just trying to get people to understand the reality of the situation. Maybe then, we won't have people freaking out about thousands of gallons of contaminated water flowing into trillions of gallons of ocean??


RE: Damn, this is disturbing!
By laulie on 8/22/2013 4:56:06 PM , Rating: 1
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