What’s the Deal with Fukushima?

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 2.13.29 AM
Satellite view of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor Complex captured from Google Earth.


The Opening Kick:  Contaminated Water Discovered mid July near the Inner Harbour

  • 11 July: TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) reports a potential radiation leak from Unit 3.  Elevated levels of radioactive caesium, strontium and tritium are discovered in a groundwater testing well approximately 30 metres (100′) from the shoreline to the Fukushima inner Harbour, of approximately 10-20,000 Bq/L, 100x the expected amount of 100-200 Bq/L, where 1 Bq = one radioactive disintegration per second.
  • For comparison, you have a constant internal activity of 5000 Bq and an average of about 42 L of total body water, for about 120 Bq/L.

What is the Contaminated Water Source?

Is Contaminated Water Leaking into the Inner Harbour?

  • 18 July:  TEPCO reports to NRA increased tritium detected in the inner quay but no Strontium or Caesium.
  • 22 July:  TEPCO announces to the press, delaying the announcement until after the general election, swept by the pro-nuclear Liberal Democrats.  Foreign consultants are not amused, and TEPCO president announces pay-cuts over the delay, including to himself, states intention to fully disclose henceforth.

Mitigation Efforts Commence for Rising Groundwater Near Shoreline

  • 7 Aug: Government official estimates 300 tonnes of ground water reaching “the sea.” No clear discrimination in press reports between inner harbour and open ocean.  Levels of Cesium and Strontium essentially unchanged in outer harbour since April ’13.
  • TEPCO begins pumping groundwater away from shoreline
  • 12 Aug: Japan’s Industry Minister says statement of contaminated water flowing to sea is an assumption.
  • 15 Aug: TEPCO releases details of groundwater pumping system. Overall plan is to filter cesium/strontium out of ground water and store in above ground tanks
  • 16 Aug: Hanford Engineer Works, which purified the plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb, is approached by TEPCO for assistance in contaminated water handling
  • 20 Aug: Cesium stripped water storage tank leaks 300 tonnes of tritium and strontium contaminated water
  • 27 Aug: The leak is stopped and defective tank contents are pumped into other tanks

Did Contamination Leak into the Outer Harbour?

  • The Fukushima inner harbour is separated from the outer harbour by a large break wall and silt dam which extends to the sea floor and has been closed for over a year, to prevent water mixing.
  • 1 Aug:  Measurements comparing inner and outer harbour water indicate no contamination is reaching the outer harbour.

Did it Leak Into the Pacific?

Is it in the Food Chain?

Is there Human Contamination?

What happens now?

Much of the information in this site has been compiled at the excellent Hiroshima Syndrome, and I am grateful for Leslie Corrice’s ongoing efforts rationally documenting the unfolding saga.  My errors are mine alone.

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