Radiation Levels Skyrocket at Fukushima

Painting by Jonathan Raddatz

The Accident Is NOT Contained

Record high levels of radioactive tritium have been observed in the harbor at Fukushima.

Japan Times notes:

The density of radioactive tritium in samples of seawater from near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant doubled over 10 days to hit a record 1,100 becquerels per liter, possibly indicating contaminated groundwater is seeping into the Pacific, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.


Tepco said late Monday it was still analyzing the water for strontium-90, which would pose a greater danger than tritium to human health if absorbed via the food chain. The level of cesium did not show any significant change between the two sample dates, according to the embattled utility.

On June 19, Tepco revealed that a groundwater sample taken from a nearby monitoring well was contaminated with both tritium and strontium-90.


During a news conference Monday in Tokyo, Masayuki Ono, a Tepco executive and spokesman, this time did not deny the possibility of leakage into the sea, while he said Tepco is still trying to determine the cause of the spike.

Kyoto reports:

A sample collected Friday contained around 1,100 becquerels of tritium per liter, the highest level detected in seawater since the nuclear crisis at the plant started in March 2011, the utility said Monday.


The latest announcement was made after Tepco detected high levels of radioactive tritium and strontium in groundwater from an observation well at the plant.

Indeed, the amount of radioactive strontium has skyrocketed over the last couple of months at Fukushima.

The New York Times writes:

Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima, said Wednesday that it had detected high levels of radioactive strontium in groundwater at the plant, raising concerns that its storage tanks are leaking contaminated water, possibly into the ocean.


The company has struggled to store growing amounts of contaminated runoff at the plant, but had previously denied that the site’s groundwater was highly toxic….

Xinhua reports:

Very high radioactivity levels were detected in groundwater from an observation well at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Wednesday.


The observation well was set up on the Pacific side of the plant’s No. 2 reactor turbine building last December to find out the reasons why radioactivity levels in seawater near the plant remained high. The company said the sampled water could be from the contaminated water that seeped into the ground.

Reuters points out:

Testing of groundwater showed the reading for strontium-90 increased from 8.6 becquerels to 1,000 becquerels per litre between Dec. 8, 2012 and May 24.

BBC notes:

High levels of a toxic radioactive isotope have been found in groundwater at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator says.


Strontium-90 is formed as a by-product of nuclear fission. Tests showed that levels of strontium in groundwater at the Fukushima plant had increased 100-fold since the end of last year, Toshihiko Fukuda, a Tepco official, told media.

Other types of radioactive materials will continue to pose a hazard for decades.  As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen explains:

The radiation exposures are going up. What you’re seeing is a lot of this stuff is getting revolitalized. It’s in the first couple of inches of dust, and when the wind blows it moves into areas that have been previously cleaned.


This will go on for decades, as the cesium goes down in to the soil, the roots bring it back up and into the plant structures and the leaves fall on the ground and the cycle continues.

(Some portion of this radiation will hit the West Coast of North America … which may end up with even higher radioactive cesium levels than Japan.)

The bigger picture is that the Fukushima reactors are wholly uncontained … and radiation will continue to spew for decades … or centuries.

Japan Times reports:

A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission the Fukushima power plant and urged Tepco to improve stability at the facility.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the nuclear plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last.

“As for the duration of the decommissioning project, this is something that you can define in your plans. But in my view, it will be nearly impossible to ensure the time for decommissioning such a complex facility in less than 30 to 40 years as it is currently established in the road map,” Lentijo said.

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. have predicted the cleanup would take up to 40 years. They still have to develop technology and equipment that can operate under fatally high radiation levels to locate and remove melted fuel. The reactors must be kept cool and the plant must stay safe and stable, and those efforts to ensure safety could slow the process down.

The plant still runs on makeshift equipment and frequently suffers glitches.


The problems have raised concerns about whether the plant …  can stay intact throughout a decommissioning process. The problems have prompted officials to compile risk-reduction measures and review decommissioning plans.


“It is expectable in such a complex site, additional incidents will occur as it happened in the nuclear plants under normal operations,” Lentijo said.


The IAEA team urged the utility to “improve the reliability of essential systems to assess the structural integrity of site facilities, and to enhance protection against external hazards” and promptly replace temporary equipment with a reliable, permanent system.

Indeed, the locations and condition of melted Fukushima fuel is still totally unknown.  Shimbun reports:

The workers have yet to gain a grasp of the locations and condition of the fuel debris. They have yet to develop extraction equipment and determine removal methods.

Mainichi notes:

Uncertainty over the location of melted fuel inside the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues to cast a shadow over plans to remove the fuel at an early date…. Reactor Nos. 1-3 at the plant contained a total of 1,496 rods of nuclear fuel in their cores….  Each fuel rod weighs about 300 kilograms, and a high level of technical expertise would be required when undertaking a remote control operation to cut up and retrieve clumps of scattered radioactive materials weighing a combined 450 tons or thereabouts…. the cores of reactors at the Fukushima plant have holes, and the task at hand is finding which parts have been damaged.

Indeed, the technology doesn’t yet exist to contain – let alone clean up – Fukushima.

Mainichi notes:

In a news conference on June 10, a representative of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said that bringing forward the plans would be dependent on developing technology, and suggested that the plans might even end up being delayed.

Scientists are considering freezing the ground around the Fukushima reactors.  Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports:

The Japanese government has ordered the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to freeze the soil around its crippled reactor buildings to stop groundwater seeping in and becoming contaminated…. According to a report compiled by a government panel on Thursday, there are no previous examples of using walls created from frozen soil to isolate groundwater being used for longer than a few years. This means the project at the Fukushima plant poses “an unprecedented challenge in the world”.

Japan Times reports:

The panel’s draft report said the government and Tepco hope to create the frozen-soil walls between April and September 2015…. A rough estimate suggests that groundwater seepage into the basements would be reduced from 400 tons [every day] to 100 tons once the frozen-soil walls are built.

Another high-tech solution being proposed: injecting cement into the Fukushima reactors.

And then there are the spent fuel pools, which continue to be one of the main threats to Japan, the United States … and all of humanity.

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  • gozounlimited
  • Tonto

    One should keep in mind as this -On the Beach- event continues to unfold and to be retold more truthfully as the repercussions sink in deeper, this scientific nuclear energy solution was developed and implemented to solve the energy problems that arose out of the failure of previous scientific energy solutions. Nuclear energy was sold to the Japanese as the perfect scientific solution for a country with no energy reserves, -the perfect solution-!

    One would have to be a damned fool to encourage scientists to come up with another scientific energy solution to address the problems associated with this scientific nightmare. Why? Because this nightmare clearly proves that all scientists are immoral devils who should be chased and hunted, stoned and clubbed, and eradicated from the planet. Who the hell do they think they are to proclaim their genius with scientific shit like this destroying the world?

    Fukushima is not any sort of singular scientific catastrophe. This same sort of thing is going on all over the planet thanks to the “genius” of scientists. These scientists need a fist in the face, before they a flayed, and permanently hung up on a pike as an example to anyone else who aspires to be a scientific god that might destroy the world.

    For those of you who do not know what -On the Beach- is, read about it on Wikipedia.


    • John Cook

      Wrong again Tonto – nuclear power plants were not developed to generate power – that’s just the cover story. They were created to manufacture large amounts of plutonium to make bombs. The PTB have had clean energy sources for decades.

  • fred blogs

    Lets just remember here the entire catastrophe was not caused by a reactor failure per se, but because some moron put the backup coolant pump generator at ground level, where it got swamped by sea water, causing a failure of the reactor coolant systems, rather than putting it in the more sensible location of on top of the reactor building, where it would have been safe, untouched by the tsunami, and no accident would have occurred.

    • Tonto

      Your education is wanting. You underestimate the infinite complexity of reality. To say “no accident would have occurred,” is a blatant lie. You are a scheming propagandist.

      Other accidents have occurred. And you have ABSOLUTELY no way to judge the infinite complexity of reality -as it will be affected- by the complexity and dangerousness of nuclear power generation under the stresses that occurred during this quake and tsunami.

      You would have better stated your case, to say, that the reactor should not have been built where it was, in Japan. But even this statement is a lie. These reactors should never have been built in the first place. The technology that supports these reactors, in fact, should never have been developed.

      This is a classic, slam-dunk-case for an argument against academic freedom.

      After all is said and done, we need merely ask, is the world better-off because it has nuclear power generation?

      Let me answer the question, for you. —>>>No.

      There is an infinitely wide spectrum of scientific knowledge that mankind simply cannot live with. Nuclear power is merely one variety. And all over the planet scientists are every day exploring more knowledge that it will turn out, is fatal to human existence.

      And flaky apologists like you who think the world is just a staging platform for Star Trek like excursions out into the universe, apologists for these fame-seeking scientists, want to give them the “genius” license to destroy the world.

      Fuck off. —->>>I live here too.

      • John Cook

        I share your feelings about this but I have to say that you both lack certain information. I will give it to you here but don’t start demanding I “Proove” it to you. You have to do the basic google searches yourself and come to your own conclusions.

        Search for Fukushima Stuxnet – that’s the name of the computer malware that destroyed the pumps making them irreparable.

        Search for pictures or video of the Tsunami wave actually swamping buildings – now try to find any disruption, any collapsed buildings, any sign that the area just suffered a HUGE (9.0) earthquake. Those buildings should have been flattened. Before the wave hits there virtually zero discernible damage.

        The next search requires bravery – search for Stuxnet Fukushima Israeli security Iran Sabotage

        Scary shit hey.

        • Person A. Management

          What is the sound of a sockpuppet socking itself?

    • oregonstu

      Actually, workers at the plant reported massive breaches in the huge pipes carrying cooling water to the reactors after the earthquake but BEFORE the tsunami arrived, and the government finally conceded that there was evidence that this was the actual first cause of the loss of coolant incident. In any case, regardless of what caused the loss of coolant incident which led to three full scale melt downs, the overall nuclear plant is an integrated whole in which a failure of any number of components will lead to disaster. Just like the radiator, water pump, and hoses in a internal combustion engine are components in an integrated system essential for its functioning, if the cooling system fails you are guaranteed to have a serious problem if the motor keeps running, regardless of whether it is a broken fan belt or a burst radiator hose. At Fukushima, it appears that they had both a burst radiator hose (caused by the earthquake itself) and a broken fuel pump (caused by the tsunami). Either was a guarantee of a melt down by itself.

  • John Cook

    This is scary – something is changing, and it’s not good. The rate of leaking is dramatically rising, it’s not likely to heal itself. How bad can it get? how fast? Is this really going to go exponential and kill the great and mighty Pacific Ocean we all love?
    Then the cooling pool will collapse and Japan will be fuked.

  • Save our world

    Stop it Japan. Save our world. The whole world is deceived by Japan.

    The Japanese army made fake video in case of the FUKUSHIMA accident.

    Please analyze the fake video.

    The hole which does not exist is photographed.

    There was no hole in the center of each UNIT1-4 before explosion. Exclude only UNIT2 after UNIT1 explosion. [UNIT1 explosion 3:36 p.m. on March 12, 2011]

    [Fake video which the Japanese army made. It was forged as the hole opened in the FUKUSHIMA nuclear power plant. [March 11, 2011]]

    [It was recorded on the TEPCO teleconference. UNIT1 explosion [3:36 p.m. on March 12, 2011] removed the blowout panel of UNIT2]

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  • Low probability events always eventually happen….it’s just a matter of when..


  • stevenearlsalmony

    The event occurred many months ago. This is only one of a number of wicked problems we are called upon to acknowledge and address. If Japan cannot handle it alone, then an international team needs to be assembled to confront this disaster. Ignoring a big problem like this nuclear disaster only results in a bigger, ever more wicked problem to overcome. My generation is simply not stepping up to the challenges before us. The consequences of our failures appear incalculable and profound with regard to the prospects for future human well being and environmental health. The very last thing a responsible person is to do in such circumstances is consciously and deliberately choose to remain silent, I believe. Are we not participants in and witnesses to yet another colossal failure of nerve? When are the leaders going to speak out in an intellectually honest way and act with a sense of moral courage? How terrible are things going to have to become on Earth before TPTB begin to talk about and do the right things, according to the lights and best available knowledge they possess?

    Steven Earl Salmony