Thursday, November 28, 2013

True facts about Ocean Radiation and the Fukushima Disaster

This piece, on, was written by an Oceanographer, and is a debunking of fears around the radiation risks.  The bottom line is - Dilution means that by the time radioactive seawater makes it to the US West Coast, it'll be so far diluted to be barely an effect.

It claims 538,100 terabecquerels (TBq) have been emitted from Fukushima, making it worse than Three-Mile-Island, and less than Chernobyl.

The writer goes over several Maps of Doom that have been bandied around on various blog posts, two of which are completely useless.  This one was described as being a Map of Terror, but at least it shows what the colors mean:

The red shows areas where the radiation concentration is 10,000 times less than the concentration near Fukushima, and the band further out near the US West Coast is 1 million times less concentrated.

The prediction from models are that the Hawaiian Islands will see concentrations of 30 Bq / Cubic-Meter of seawater, and on the US West Coast the concentration will be 20 Bq or less.  (Bq == Becquerels)
I could write a small novel explaining why the numbers differ between the models. For those that love the details, here’s a laundry list of those differences: the amount of radiation initially injected into the ocean, the length of time it took to inject the radiation (slowly seeping or one big dump), the physics embedded in the model, the background ocean state, the number of 20-count shrimp per square mile (Just kidding!), atmospheric forcing, inter-annual and multi-decadal variability and even whether atmospheric deposition was incorporated into the model.
To put the numbers into context they provide this map, coming from the Woods Hole Oceonographic Institute (

It shows the Pacific Ocean concentration of Cs 137 in 1990 was 4 Bq / cubic meter.  That makes the new concentration, thanks to Fukushima, about 10x the 1990 concentration.  The amount measured in 1990 would have been leftover from the Atomic Bomb testing in the Pacific occurring during the 1950's.

The writer of the piece concludes that it'll be safe to eat the fish and to swim in the ocean.

As for leaking groundwater - 300 tonnes per day leaking into the ocean - is that a concern?  It means the radiation won't be a one-time release, but is being released over time.  However the bulk of the release occurred early on.  

Most of what's being released now is Tritium and Strontium.  Strontium is a concern because it collects in bones, hence the risk is from eating fish that have bones in them.  However, the Strontium risk is only for such fish caught near the Japanese coast.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Japan mulls more than $100 million new spending on Fukushima water-crisis: sources

(Reuters) - Japan is considering more than $100 million in extra government spending to handle contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, boosting the budget allocation by at least a fifth, government officials familiar with the matter said.

The additional budget allocation of between 10 billion and 15 billion yen ($98 million-$147 million) aims to accelerate work on containing leaks and decontaminating the water, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NRC documents show all nuclear material had been released from Fukushima reactors - or maybe not

A newly released document from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a transcript dated March 16, 2011 concerning phone calls between US Officials who were dealing with the Fukushima crisis.  I've uploaded a copy to my Google Drive account in case the original copy on the NRC website is mysteriously removed.  My source of knowing about this comes from Michael Ruppert, in Facebook posts that I've embedded below.

A transcript of a critical part is here: NRC Transcript – TEPCO relayed information Unit 4 SFP Dry – Walls collapsed and incapable of holding inventory – Unit 3 “everything else gone” 

My reading of the transcript sounds like the speakers were in a state of confusion and dealing with conflicting evidence.  However, it clearly says that at that moment they believed the spent fuel pools in reactors 2, 3 and 4 were completely emptied, and perhaps unit 1 as well, meaning that there was a complete release of all nuclear material from both spent fuel pools.  In each case the spent fuel pools had a huge amount of highly toxic stuff in them.

According to the transcript was one of a group of transcripts released by the NRC in February 2012.

Enformable Nuclear News has a complete list of FOIA Documents Related to Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 4

A blog post from that time period discussing the documents says 
The transcripts document two things that this blog, and others, reported months ago.  First, the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Reactor #4 was never empty of water.  Second, remote sensing platforms, both aerial and in low earth orbit, were able to establish the status of the pool and that it had water in it.

If the pool had been empty of water, the infra red heat signature of the pool would have been a white hot spot visible even in the surrounding wreckage caused by a hydrogen explosion.  The Japanese government has declined to reveal their low earth orbit remote sensing data about Fukushima citing national security reasons.
He went on to connect the transcripts with the 50 mile exclusion zone ordered for all American Citizens, prohibiting approach by Americans to the reactor site.  With the documents it's clear the NRC made this order in reaction to reports that "the spent fuel pool at reactor #4 had lost all of its water and was spewing huge amounts of radiation as a result."  It's that part of the transcript that Ruppert is focusing on.  However, it's clear later in the transcripts, according to this report, that "NRC transcripts report that an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew over the reactor persuading NRC executive Chuck Casto, who was the NRC's man in Tokyo, that there was after all some water in the pool."

A Washington Post news report from Feb 2012 agrees with that blog post:
The transcripts also include lengthy discussions justifying NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s controversial decision to urge Americans within a 50-mile radius of the Japanese nuclear plant to evacuate. They show that the decision was based in part on an assessment, now thought to be false, that one of the Fukushima Daiichi spent fuel pools was dry and that its walls had, in the words of one official, “crumbled,”
A NY Times news report on the documents also focus on the confusion apparent in them.

The issue of water in the spent fuel pond is important because "If the pool had been empty of water, the infra red heat signature of the pool would have been a white hot spot visible even in the surrounding wreckage caused by a hydrogen explosion."  Further emptied fuel ponds would indicate the nuclear material had been released into the wild.

That's ultimately what we're all concerned about - how much of the nuclear material has been released, and just how big is the problem we're all facing?

The 10 most radiation-polluted places on the planet


Hanford, CT, USA - former Uranium/Plutonium factory for atomic bomb production --- etc ... with Chernobyl and Fukushima topping out the list at #2 and #1 respectively.

The list of locations are on land and surrounding either the factories for producing atomic materials, the former nuclear bomb test sites, or sites of nuclear power plant accidents.


This source made a somewhat more alarmist view on the list from  However, this one includes a lot of useful links to resource sites.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Radiation from Japan nuclear plant arrives on Alaska coast

Radiation from the Fukushima power plant has been detected in Canada and Alaska.  The report doesn't say how much radiation has arrived.  It just gives a vague fear that we don't know what the effect on seafood and wildlife will be.

Yes, we don't know that - but if we don't know the quantity of radiation how do we know whether this is a major thing, or a minor thing?

The only statement of the severity is this - "The levels they are projecting in some of the models are in the ballpark of what they saw in the North Pacific in the 1960s," said Douglas Dasher, a researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The article does point out that there is no routine monitoring, so therefore it's not known whether radiation levels are increasing or decreasing.

The statement, "North Pacific in the 1960's," refers to the fallout from US Nuclear testing on islands in the Pacific during the 1950's and 1960's.  That testing was deemed necessary to fend off Communism.  But it obviously left a fair bit of radioactive contamination in the Ocean. 

But that level of contamination doesn't seem to have been a serious problem.  So if the radiation from Fukushima only gets to that level then the overall thing isn't a big deal?

Robot detects locations of radioactive leaks at crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

TEPCO is using a robot to traverse the Unit #1 reactor looking for leaks.  It has found its first leak, close to the lower part of the Reactor 1 containment vessel at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi on Wednesday. 

The camera spotted two leaks from the reactor into the containment building.

Radiation levels near the leaks were measured at  0.9 to 1.8 sieverts an hour - whereas a typical release of radiation is generally accepted to be 1 millisievert a year.  In other words the radiation level is off the charts compared to normal radiation releases.  However that radiation release is occurring inside the containment building.

However it's demonstrating that the containment vessel is cracked - which is to be expected.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Fukushima water storage tanks flawed, workers say

According to quotes from workers who had built the water storage tanks at the Fukushima plant - the storage tank construction was slipshod.  They hired workers who weren't construction workers - they hired people like bus drivers. 

“I must say our tank assembly was slipshod work. I’m sure that’s why tanks are leaking already,” Uechi, 48, told The Associated Press from his hometown on Okinawa. “I feel nervous every time an earthquake shakes the area.”

“We were in an emergency and just had to build as many tanks as quickly as possible, and their quality is at bare minimum,” said Teruaki Kobayashi, an official in charge of facility control for the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Leaks and other flaws found in several tanks have raised concerns about further and more damaging failures, particularly if another big earthquake, tsunami or typhoon hits. The plant suffered a triple meltdown after Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The plant has more than 1,000 tanks and other containers storing 370,000 tons of partially treated but still highly contaminated water. About one-third of the containers are easy-to-assemble steel tanks with rubber-sponge seams tightened with bolts; they were always considered a stopgap measure. The other tanks are considered sturdier.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Big quake near Fukushima would ‘decimate Japan, lead to US West Coast evacuation’

Speaking at a symposium on water ecology at the University of Alberta in Canada, prominent Japanese-Canadian scientist David Suzuki said that the Japanese government had been “lying through its teeth” about the true extent of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“Fukushima is the most terrifying situation that I can imagine,” Suzuki said, adding that another earthquake could trigger a potentially catastrophic, nuclear disaster.

“The fourth [reactor] has been so badly damaged that the fear is if there’s another earthquake of a 7 or above then that building will go and all hell breaks loose,” he said, adding that the chances of an earthquake measuring 7 or above in Japan over the next three years were over 95 percent.

“If the fourth [reactor] goes under an earthquake and those rods are exposed, then it’s bye, bye, Japan and everybody on the west coast of North America should be evacuated. And if that isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is,”
Suzuki said. 

Japan to begin removal of fuel rods from Fukushima plant

TEPCO's plan for moving fuel rods from unit #4 was approved during the week of November 7.

The removal of fuel is part of regular work at any nuclear power plant, but "conditions are different from normal because of the disaster," said company spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida.

Extraction is expected to begin mid-November.

The article contains some scary statements from Scientists and Activists.  However some of these statements come from people who have a vested interest in making it look more scary than it actually is.  While those statements could be valid, their vested interest has to make us ponder whether their statements are skewed or not.

“Handling spent fuels involves huge risks," said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. "It would be a disaster if radioactive materials come out of the metal rods during the work.”

"This is the first practical milestone for the project," said Hiroshi Miyano, a nuclear systems expert and visiting professor at Hosei University in Tokyo.

"Any trouble in this operation will considerably affect the timetable for the entire project," he said to AFP. "This is an operation TEPCO cannot afford to bungle."

Christina Consolo, the founder and host of Nuked Radio ... “The worst-case scenario is that there’s a nuclear chain reaction, a criticality in the pool during this procedure and it can’t be stopped,” she said.

Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist from the organization Beyond Nuclear, believes it is “absurd” that TEPCO is in charge of this globally significant extraction operation ...
“If something goes wrong this could be a global catastrophe that dwarfs what has happened in Fukushima Daiichi thus far,” Kamps told RT. “Tokyo Electric has shown its true colors time and time again, its incompetence, its dishonesty, so it’s very frightening that TEPCO is in charge of this.”

Arnold Gunderson, a nuclear power expert, explained to RT that what they will attempt to do at Fukushima has never been done before but it has to be done ... “There is more radioactivity in that fuel pool than in all the bombs than in all the bombs that were fired in above ground testing. So we have the equivalent of 700 nuclear bombs worth of material in that fuel pool. These [the fuel rods] are not going to pull out easily and the fear is, is that they might snap and release the radiation that’s inside them,” he told RT.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

1 million tons of Fukushima debris floating near US West Coast? -- NOT RADIOACTIVE

There's been reports that a large "island" of debris from the Fukushima Tsunami are floating in the Ocean and about to hit the US West Coast.

The word "island" is a bit of a misnomer because it's just a large cluster of debris, rather than a solid mass.

It's also clear that radiation from this debris is negligible.  On its website, the NOAA says, “Radiation experts agree that it is highly unlikely that any tsunami-generated marine debris will hold harmful levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear emergency.”

Independent groups like the 5 Gyres Institute, which tracks pollution at sea, have echoed the NOAA’s findings, saying that radiation readings have been “inconsequential.” Even the release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear reactor shouldn't be a grave concern, since scientists say it will be diluted to the point of being harmless by the time it reaches American shores in 2014.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Multi-decadal projections of surface and interior pathways of the Fukushima Cesium-137 radioactive plume


  • Cs-137 plume strongly diluted by July 2011, reaches American coast by 2014.
  • Mode water formation and persistent upwelling affect Cs-137 concentrations.
  • Cs-137 enters the deep ocean and exits the North Pacific in the next 30 years.
  • Sensitivity to uncertainties in the source function and to interannual variability.


Following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, large amounts of water contaminated with radionuclides, including Cesium-137, were released into the Pacific Ocean. With a half-life of 30.1 years, Cs-137 has the potential to travel large distances within the ocean. Using an ensemble of regional eddy-resolving simulations, this study investigates the long-term ventilation pathways of the leaked Cs-137 in the North Pacific Ocean. The simulations suggest that the contaminated plume would have been rapidly diluted below 10,000 Bq/m3 by the energetic Kuroshio Current and Kurushio Extension by July 2011. Based on our source function of 22 Bq/m3, which sits at the upper range of the published estimates, waters with Cs-137 concentrations >10 Bq/m3 are projected to reach the northwestern American coast and the Hawaiian archipelago by early 2014. Driven by quasi-zonal oceanic jets, shelf waters north of 45°N experience Cs-137 levels of 10–30 Bq/m3 between 2014 and 2020, while the Californian coast is projected to see lower concentrations (10–20 Bq/m3) slightly later (2016–2025). This late but prolonged exposure is related to subsurface pathways of mode waters, where Cs-137 is subducted toward the subtropics before being upwelled from deeper sources along the southern Californian coast. The model suggests that Fukushima-derived Cs-137 will penetrate the interior ocean and spread to other oceanic basins over the next two decades and beyond. The sensitivity of our results to uncertainties in the source function and to inter-annual to multi-decadal variability is discussed.

A Statement from U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz Regarding Fukushima

A Dept of Energy press release from -

“On Friday, I made my first visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. It is stunning that one can see firsthand the destructive force of the tsunami even more than two and a half years after the tragic events.  The words of President Obama following the incident still hold true today: ‘The Japanese people are not alone in this time of great trial and sorrow. Across the Pacific, they will find a hand of support extended from the United States as they get back on their feet.’ My colleagues from the Department of Energy and I are grateful for the cooperation and openness of our host, TEPCO President Hirose, and his dedicated staff. They face a daunting task in the cleanup and decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, one that will take decades and is being carried out under very challenging conditions. The TEPCO workforce is facing unprecedented challenges and is clearly focused on devising and implementing solutions.

“From the beginning, the United States has worked to support the Government of Japan in the immediate response efforts and in recovery, decommissioning, and cleanup activities. Within days of the accident, the Department of Energy sent a team of 34 experts and more than 17,000 pounds of equipment in support of efforts to manage the crisis. I was able to witness firsthand the continuing partnership between TEPCO and U.S. agencies and companies.

“The DOE, our national labs, and U.S. companies will continue to offer our experience and capabilities to assist the Japanese government and TEPCO, especially with regard to water contamination issues.  On Thursday, we were able to meet with Prime Minister Abe, METI Minister Motegi, and other senior members of the Japanese government. Their commitment to advancing the Convention on Supplementing Compensation of Nuclear Liability is much appreciated, since this will facilitate the further engagement of U.S. and other companies in Fukushima cleanup.

“We also witnessed the progress being made on spent fuel removal activities in parallel with the water challenges. It appears that spent nuclear fuel will begin to be removed from Unit 4 as scheduled in mid-November. This will be significant milestone for TEPCO and the Japanese Government and in the process of decommissioning the site.

“As Japan continues to chart its sovereign path forward on the cleanup at the Fukushima site and works to determine the future of their energy economy, the United States stands ready to continue assisting our partners in this daunting yet indispensable task. The United States and Japan created the Bilateral Commission to strengthen our strategic and practical engagement on civil nuclear R&D, Fukushima cleanup, emergency response, nuclear safety regulatory matters, and nuclear security and nonproliferation, and we look forward to the commission meeting next week in Washington, D.C.”