The silence surrounding the Fukushima disaster recently has been deafening, it is one year in fact since any reliable information has been released from Tokyo Electric Power Co, the owners of the stricken plant.
Last year, Tokyo Electric Power Co said a system meant to purify contaminated water had failed to remove dangerous radioactive contaminants.
A report from Reuters today, claims most of that water - stored in 1,000 tanks around the plant - will need to be reprocessed before it is released into the ocean, the most likely scenario for disposal.
Reprocessing could take nearly two years and divert personnel and energy from dismantling the tsunami-wrecked reactors, a project that will take up to 40 years, (which is only an estimate as Tepco still haven't invented the technology to fix the problem, they could still be trying to fix the problem in 2060.)
It is unclear how much that would delay decommissioning. But any delay could be pricey; the government estimated in 2016 that the total cost of plant dismantling, decontamination of affected areas, and compensation, would amount to 21.5 trillion yen ($192.5 billion), roughly 20 per cent of the country’s annual budget.
Tepco is already running out of space to store treated water. And should another big quake strike, (which is a question of when and NOT if), experts say tanks could crack, unleashing tainted liquid and washing highly radioactive debris into the ocean.
Exactly one year ago today, The Big Wobble released an article, claiming during the summer of 2017, 50,000 trillion Becquerel’s of radiation leaked into the Pacific, however, Tepco continue to claim tritium poses little risk to human health and is quickly diluted by the ocean.
300 tons of radioactive water is leaking daily into the Pacific and there is no known technology to fix it.
In one of the world's worst nuclear disasters, the Nos. 1 to 3 units experienced fuel meltdowns while the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 units were also severely damaged by hydrogen explosions following a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
To prevent leakage of tainted water, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) had installed a costly “ice wall” to keep groundwater from seeping into the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, however, data from the operator shows, it had failed.
The aim was to freeze the soil into a solid mass that blocks groundwater flowing from the hills west of the plant to the coast.
However, the continuing seepage has created vast amounts of toxic water that Tepco must pump out, decontaminate and store in tanks at Fukushima that now number 1,000, holding 1 million tonnes, which will at some time be dumped into the Pacific.
Last July TEPCO released around 770,000 tons of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
A study by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have revealed almost 50% of fish consumed on the islands of Hawai’i were contaminated with caesium 134 the radioactive finger-print of Fukushima.
The report also showed that migrating organisms can transport the Fukushima-signature (caesium 134) over significant distances as they showed detectable 134Cs (6.3±1.5 Bq/kg) in Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the California coast only a year after the incident.
Another study found caesium 134 in longfin tuna (Albacore) along the western coast of the US just one year after the Fukushima disaster.
It's another blow for the stricken nuclear plant with TEPCO claiming the clean-up of the site will take at least 40 years.
Last year The Big Wobble received an email from Bill Laughing Bear, our friend in Alaska who is monitoring the radiation in fish along the Alaskan coast.
The up-to-date and timely information your website delivers just brought a new topic to my mind: Fukushima. On your March 8, 2018, posting about another million tons of toxic waste to be dumped into the Pacific, the thought occurred to me ‘how much more radiation would I be reading in this coming year’s fish harvest than when the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011, changed our world forever?’
As a musher in Alaska, I have often been blessed from collecting numerous people’s previous year’s salmon catch as they cleaned out their freezers, making room for the current year’s catch. I fed it to my dog team and I ate endless pounds of it myself. I also have enjoyed standing on the banks of some of our first class rivers while fishing for salmon with a pole which I no longer do.
When the Fukushima fiasco occurred, it was obvious to me that with the currents that come up the coast of Alaska from Japan, we were in trouble. I believed our fishing resources would become radioactive and because I love my dogs as most would love their family members, I knew I had to verify this food supply was safe.
Talking to anyone I could who was supposedly in the “know,” I was assured there would be no problem. That did not ease my mind. I decided to invest in a radiation monitor of my own. Being a disabled veteran with a limited income, I set out to buy a meter of the best value I could with my minimal resources. I was told that the most common monitor being used in Japan that people living near the Fukushima area use is the Radex RD 1503. This meter is made in Moscow, Russia, by Quarta-Rad Limited.
The Russian people who had to deal with the monster, Chernobyl, manufactured a quality radiation monitor and I decided to order one. The meter cost me approximately $160.00 U.S. Funds. This monitor was designed for detection and evaluation of the level of ionizing radiation and for the evaluation of contamination levels of materials and products. Although a good monitor, it cannot be used for official conclusions about radiation, environment and fouling factors. The meter estimates the radiation environment in the magnitude of the ambient equivalent power of gamma radiation dose taking into account the pollution of objects by beta sources. The meter reads two ways: microSievert per hour or microRoentgen per hour.
Once obtaining the meter, I started taking readings of people’s salmon. By the second year after the Fukushima incident, all salmon I scanned read radioactive. I have seen a steady increase in radiation levels of salmon through last year with not one salmon failing to register some contamination.
Last year I checked my first halibut which came from local waters. It, too, registered radiation. Since halibut are bottom feeders, I thought this might explain why, on my walks along the beach and seeing at various times dead crab, the occasional sea otter, and a couple of times more jellyfish than I could count, not to mention numerous birds.
In my attempts to find what constitutes safe levels of radiation, official agencies do not seem to be able to agree on just what those safety levels are. I will say that I have found an increase of over 27% of radiation levels since around 2012. So whether the data I have observed is minimal or should be alarming, it is definitely building every year.
Last year, a woman I know, who had just been released from the hospital after receiving numerous doses of radiation had me scan her body. It read lower than the salmon taken out of her freezer.
Three days ago I talked with a commercial fisherman whom I respect and I asked him what he had heard about radiation levels and salmon. He told me they have been told there is no radiation problem in salmon and they are healthy. I told him that I was finding constant radiation and I would come over and scan his salmon in his freezer if he wanted me to. He was visually shaken.
Many of us have chosen to no longer consume for ourselves or our dogs any seafood off the Pacific Coast. From what I understand, radiation can build up in one’s system.
I have also been warned by my friends and numerous others whose fish I have scanned to be quiet about this because it might not go well with me. But ethically I feel I have a moral obligation to my fellow man and I am issuing a strong alert about the condition I have personally found with the salmon and halibut in Alaskan waters. I do not want anyone to suffer a “slow burn” with their health and life.
That’s it from Alaska for now.