Fukushima: Thousands of Tonnes of Radioactive water pour into the Pacific Daily
by blogger via radium - Washington's Blog Friday, Jun 1 2012, 11:48pm
While the World fiddles the Pacific burns!
Japan has given up attempting to contain the billions of litres of radioactive water used to cool stricken Daiichi reactors at Fukushima; with international approval the highly polluted water has been allowed to flow directly into the Pacific Ocean since the time the initial disaster struck. Consider the amount already leaked, then consider the amount yet to be dumped into the Pacific, as there is no easy method available to stabilise these stricken reactors. Fukushima is an international disaster in progress.
Fukushima Likely to Produce “Pockets” and “Streams” of Highly-Concentrated Radiation
The operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has been dumping something like a thousand tons per day of radioactive water into the Pacific ocean.
Remember, the reactors are “riddled with meltdown holes”, building 4 – with more radiation than all nuclear bombs ever dropped or tested – is missing entire walls, and building 3 is a pile of rubble.
The whole complex is leaking like a sieve, and the rivers of water pumped into the reactors every day are just pouring into the ocean (with only a slight delay).
Most people assume that the ocean will dilute the radiation from Fukushima enough that any radiation reaching the West Coast of the U.S. will be low.
For example, the Congressional Research Service wrote in April:
Scientists have stated that radiation in the ocean very quickly becomes diluted and would not be a problem beyond the coast of Japan.
U.S. fisheries are unlikely to be affected because radioactive material that enters the marine environment would be greatly diluted before reaching U.S. fishing grounds.
And a Woods Hole oceanographer said:
“The Kuroshio current is considered like the Gulf Stream of the Pacific, a very large current that can rapidly carry the radioactivity into the interior” of the ocean, Buesseler said.
“But it also dilutes along the way, causing a lot of mixing and decreasing radioactivity as it moves offshore.”
But – just as we noted 2 days after the earthquake hit that the jet stream might carry radiation to the U.S. by wind – we are now warning that ocean currents might carry more radiation to the at least some portions of the West Coast of North America than is assumed.
Specifically, we noted more than a year ago:
The ocean currents head from Japan to the West Coast of the U.S.
As AP notes:
The floating debris will likely be carried by currents off of Japan toward Washington, Oregon and California before turning toward Hawaii and back again toward Asia, circulating in what is known as the North Pacific gyre, said Curt Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who has spent decades tracking flotsam.
“All this debris will find a way to reach the West coast or stop in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a swirling mass of concentrated marine litter in the Pacific Ocean, said Luca Centurioni, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.
CNN said that “the Hawaiian islands may get a new and unwelcome addition in coming months — a giant new island of debris floating in from Japan.” It relied in part on work done by the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center, which predicts that:
“In three years, the [debris] plume will reach the U.S. West Coast, dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California. The debris will then drift into the famous North Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will wander around and break into smaller and smaller pieces. In five years, Hawaii shores can expect to see another barrage of debris that is stronger and longer lastingthan the first one. Much of the debris leaving the North Pacific Garbage Patch ends up on Hawaii’s reefs and beaches.”
Indeed, CNN notes:
The debris mass, which appears as an island from the air, contains cars, trucks, tractors, boats and entire houses floating in the current heading toward the U.S. and Canada, according to ABC News.
The bulk of the debris will likely not be radioactive, as it was presumably washed out to sea during the initial tsunami – before much radioactivity had leaked. But this shows the power of the currents from Japan to the West Coast.
Indeed, an island of Japanese debris the size of California is hitting the West Coast of North America … and some of it is radioactive.
In addition to radioactive debris, MIT says that seawater which is itself radioactive may begin hitting the West Coast within 5 years. Given that the debris is hitting faster than predicted, it is possible that the radioactive seawater will as well.
And the Congressional Research Service admitted:
However, there remains the slight potential for a relatively narrow corridor of highly contaminated water leading away from Japan …
Transport by ocean currents is much slower, and additional radiation from this source might eventually also be detected in North Pacific waters under U.S. jurisdiction, even months after its release. Regardless of slow ocean transport, the long half-life of radioactive cesium isotopes means that radioactive contaminants could remain a valid concern for
Indeed, nuclear expert Robert Alvarez – senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999 – wrote yesterday:
According to a previously secret 1955 memo from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission regarding concerns of the British government over contaminated tuna, “dissipation of radioactive fall-out in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but that in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific. We can speculate that tuna which now show radioactivity from ingested materials [this is in 1955, not today] have been living, in or have passed through, such pockets; or have been feeding on plant and animal life which has been exposed in those areas.”
Because of the huge amounts of radioactive water Tepco is dumping into the Pacific Ocean, and the fact that the current pushes water from Japan to the West Coast of North America, at least some of these radioactive “streams” or “hot spots” will likely end up impacting the West Coast.
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Public Outrage as Japan Officials Push Nuclear Restart
by staff report via stele - CommonDreams Saturday, Jun 2 2012, 12:10am
On Thursday, despite popular opposition, Japanese leaders approved a nuclear power restart for two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in the Fukui Prefecture. Critics blame an intense corporate lobbying campaign and a strong push from the central government for the move.
Governors across several Japanese prefectures agreed to a "limited" restart of the reactors in Kansai -- causing alarm and outrage for many across the country.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda must now approve the step, but has said he thinks the restart is 'necessary'.
However, Noda faces opposition within his own party. A petition circulated through Japanese parliament read: "It's clear, through a variety of public opinion surveys, that Japanese people say they will persevere this summer through electricity conservation measures. The current situation regarding the restart is one of insufficient understanding among Japanese as a whole and insufficient agreement within our party."
Up to 1,000 Japanese anti-nuclear protesters gathered outside the prime minister's office on Friday, beating drums and chanting slogans against the likely restart.
* * *
Japan Times: Kansai chiefs accept 'limited' reactor restart
Kansai leaders, including vocal critic Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, reversed weeks of opposition Thursday to restarting two of the reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, caving to intense corporate lobbying and central government pressure and removing one of the last major political obstacles to bringing the units back online.
The agreement of the Union of Kansai Governments, which includes seven prefectures and two mayors, to a "limited" restart of the reactors created confusion and concern across the region.
Critics and Hashimoto allies noted the definition of limited was left undefined and could mean the reactors will be kept running for weeks, months or years. [...]
Asked whether the central government was thinking of shutting down the Oi reactors after the summer peak period, in line with the Kansai leaders' demands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura dodged the question Thursday, saying environment and nuclear minister Goshi Hosono would answer it. [...]
The decision by the Union of Kansai Governments to allow a restart came after weeks of intense pressure by Kepco and the Kansai Economic Federation, whose head, Shosuke Mori, is also chairman of the utility.
Public opinion polls in early May showed most Kansai residents opposed the restart, and businesses surveys indicated service firms and small and medium-size companies could save sufficient amounts of electricity.
But after a conclusion in mid-May by Kepco and the central government that the region faced an electricity shortage of 15 percent during the peak summer period, major manufacturers warned of economic damage to the region and the government discussed rolling blackouts during the peak demand period. [...]
As the public backlash against the decision grew louder Thursday afternoon, some Kansai leaders began shifting their positions.
* * *
Reuters: Japanese protest over planned restart of nuclear reactors
Hundreds of Japanese anti-nuclear protesters gathered outside the prime minister's office on Friday, beating drums and chanting slogans against the planned restart of reactors a year after the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.
"We oppose restarts," the crowd of about 1,000, which stretched for around 200 meters down the block, shouted in the peaceful demonstration.
Public mistrust of nuclear power has grown since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year triggered the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
All of Japan's nuclear power plants, which once supplied about 30 percent of the country's energy needs, have been taken off line, leaving Japan vulnerable to power outages during the summer.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Wednesday said that it is necessary to restart idled reactors whose safety has been confirmed and that the central government is winning the understanding of local authorities.
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