Five years later and the bad-beat goes on — via Newsweek yesterday: ‘The robots sent in to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima’s nuclear reactors have “died”…authorities still don’t how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site.’
And ‘“…no specific clear solution”‘ nowhere in sight.
(Illustration found here).
Anniversary to the day — on Friday 11 March 2011, a 9.0 earthquake offshore the city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture on the eastern cost of Honshu Island (the main part of Japan) unleashed a massive tsunami that swept in and inundated the coastal region, killing nearly 20,000 people, destroying whole villages.
Beyond the horror of the natural, the added disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (Tepco) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant nearby. The problem: ‘The reactors proved robust seismically, but vulnerable to the tsunami.’
Returning to the crazy situation with all that ‘highly radioactive fuel‘ in those storage tanks. In a question-and-answer session on Reddit last Monday, Ken Buesseler, an oceanographer who studies marine radioactivity, said it plainly.
Question: If all of the radioactive wastewater currently being stored in tanks near the reactor were suddenly released into the ocean/groundwater — how serious would the consequences be?
Answer: “We remain most concerned about the potential of new releases from the thousands of storage tanks on the site, which contain highly radioactive water awaiting processing.
In fact there was hundreds of times more strontium-90 in those tanks than ever released in 2011.
Some leaks have been reported, and one reason we continue to monitor strontium is to look for signs of these leaks.
Given that strontium concentrates in bones, this radionuclide could become a larger concern in small fish such as sardines, which are often eaten whole.
So far, however, evidence suggests that levels of strontium-90 in fish remain much lower than those of cesium-137.”
Even now, five years later, debris from the tsunami continues to arrive on the northwestern US coastline: ‘“The first (debris) signs were put up to deal with a temporary emergency,” said Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Chris Havel, “but the new ones are more permanent because this is the new normal, and we need your help to keep things clean.”‘
On the ground confusion, still — via Science magazine last week: ‘“There has been no education regarding radiation,” says Katsunobu Sakurai, the mayor of Minamisoma, where 14,000 people were evacuated after the accident. “It’s difficult for many people to make the decision to return without knowing what these radiation levels mean and what is safe,” he says.’
An expert on the situation reflected on the situation — Rodney Ewing, professor of geological sciences in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences: ‘“This is why when I refer to the tragedy at Fukushima, it was not an accident. When some speak of such an event as an ‘act of God,’ this has the effect of avoiding the responsibility for the failed safety analysis. We need to use language that doesn’t seek to place blame, but does establish cause and responsibility.”‘
The level of fuck-up at Fukushima could have been worse.
Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister at the time of the earthquake and tsunami, has revealed the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people.
Per New Zealand’s Herald this week:
He said he considered evacuating Tokyo and all other areas within 250km of the plant, and declaring martial law.
“The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” he said.
“Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.”
Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator.
He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his government’s nuclear safety adviser.
“We asked him, ‘Do you know anything about nuclear issues?’
“And he said, ‘No, I majored in economics’.”
Terasaka was sacked.
The then Tepco chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, was last week indicted on charges of criminal negligence.
Dodged a dangerous bullet…only…