Fukushima leak located; no answers in sightBy Graham Land Aug 21, 2013 1:03AM UTC
Radioactive water leaking from Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant has been described by officials as a level 1 nuclear incident according to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (Ines). Though 1 is the lowest level event and the leak is some 100 meters from the coastline, any efforts to downplay the situation will likely be taken with a grain of salt.
TEPCO’s reluctance to come clean about the seriousness of the situation at Fukushima following the tsunami of 2011 has damaged its credibility with the Japanese public concerning both transparency and ability to deal with a crisis. Government officials believe radioactive water has been leaking more or less continually since the tsunami struck the nuclear power plant.
An estimated 300 tons of contaminated water has leaked from a damaged storage tank into the ground in the past week. As of Tuesday only four tons had been recovered. This is not the sort of stuff you want leaking anywhere, much less close to the sea. This comes after announcements that 300 tons of contaminated water have been leaking every day.
From the Independent:
The radiation level of the water, which continues to leak from the tank, about 100 millisieverts, is so contaminated that somebody standing 50cm away would, within an hour, receive five times the annual exposure limit for plant workers.
The water that leaked from the tank had been partially treated, with cesium and salt removed, before being stored.
And don’t even think about drinking it. The water has been measured to have 80 million becquerels per liter, around eight million times more than the legal limit for drinking water in Japan.
The tank is one of hundreds built after the tsunami in order to store water coming from three reactors that suffered meltdowns. This is the fifth tank that has been found leaking over the past year.
So… what the heck are they going to do in order to stop this major situation fubar?
According to Tepco the water that is leaking from the tank and into the ground is escaping sandbags that were added to a large concrete underground barrier surrounding the tank. Not really working then, is it?
What’s more is that this comes after announcements that 300 tons of contaminated water have been leaking every day. So what about the rest?
One plan proposed by the Japanese government is to make an underground wall of ice to contain the leakage.
From National Geographic:
According to experts in ground-freezing technology, several large refrigerator units — the sort used to cool hockey arenas — would chill coolant that would circulate through the pipes, gradually lowering the temperature of the wet soil around them to subzero temperatures. In about two months, the soil would solidify and form a frozen barrier that would block water from flowing into the plant, and prevent already contaminated water inside it from reaching the ocean.
Go for it I guess?
One worrying point about nuclear power plants is that if you can’t contain leaks for years after they begin (and they will sometimes happen), should we really be building any?