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42 Comments

  1. Rod, it seems that you have missed the twit yesterday of Jeremy Gordon from WNA who gives the explanation about why that puddle had such a high level of radiation :
    https://twitter.com/JeremyGordonWNA/status/373129032738406400
    “Seems many people have used radioactivity of evaporation-concentrated ‘puddle’ to estimate scale of leak. Water in tank 400x less! #nuclear”

    As a result the stories about the leak have been updated to take that into account :
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Fukushima_leak_cleaned_up_2708131.html
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Leak_from_Fukushima_tank_2008131.html
    “CORRECTION: 5.58pm, 29 August: Faulty tank contained water with 200,000 Bq/L. Previous figure of 80 million Bq/L was measurement of leaked water accumulated within the dam”

    1. @jmdesp

      You’re right. I had missed that update. I have added the information to the post. Thank you for pointing it out; we all need a little help from our friends.

  2. Like in many fields, to get a scary scenario to reach your goal, you need cherry picking of the data. Taking the higher doses in a small area and extrapolating it, will do a very good job at that.

    It’s like Chernobyl, you can still find small highly radioactive particle around the area with very high counts(see bionerd23 video reports on youtube) but the average level, could allow people to live there safely and benefit from radiation hormesis!

    A while back, I made a calculation on the leaky water, this may help also:
    http://radio-activity-studies.blogspot.ca/

    Keep up the good job

  3. I would advise caution until the source of WNN’s figures is revealed.

    TEPCO has a general update on all it’s plants which is like a rolling news release – recent events get included until they fall off the radar. The water in the tank is being reported as “All β: 2.0×105Bq/cm3”. It has been the same since the report Of August 27th. The water was sampled on August 23rd.

    Ref: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu-news/2013/1230165_5484.html

    Earlier reports, from August 20th and 21st give the water leak as “All β: 8.0×104Bq/cm3”.

    Ref: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu-news/2013/1229957_5484.html

    So it looks like the leak is less concentrated than the tank water – which doesn’t jibe with the “concentration” explanation. We’ve also had a wet summer in Tohoku, which could account for the order of 10 dilution: http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/FUKUSHIMA/07-2013/475950.htm

    I’ve also checked the latest Japanese version of the TEPCO general update. It gives the tank water as “全ベータ:2.0×105Bq/cm3”, so the WNN statement is not being reflected by the latest reports in Japanese or English.

    Ref: http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu-news/2013/1230152_5304.html

    1. Agree Eamon. The confused and sketchy reports coming from TEPCO make it very difficult to draw any conclusions.

    2. WNN used this other documents, which actually gives the same numbers but says they are per liter, and not per cm3, in other word a thousand time less :
      http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/south_discharge_130826-1e.pdf
      I don’t know which one gives the correct number, but Tepco never detected any rise of radiation near the sea, and the later reports say the ground wasn’t contaminated below 50 cm.

      Another confusing thing is that the daily report says the sampling of the water of tank n°5 was done on the 23, but also that the transfer of it’s water in tank n°10 had already been completed on the 21, and mixed with the water from the puddle. The other doc also says the sampling was done on the 23.

      1. I pointed out that disparity on the previous Fukushima Water post. I think the default position has to be that the native language publications get precidence when there is a disparity: the translation procedure from Japanese to English just adds another process where things can go wrong.

        Also, TEPCO would have updated the figure if the readings were actually in Bq/l, as it improves the situation in the public’s eye.

        The takeaway point is we cannot take the WNN figure seriously at present.

        As for the sampling – it’s possible that they are reporting that the conclusion of the sampling, i.e. the analysis, was done on the 23rd.

  4. Is this in suspension, particulate matter or “dissolved”? Was that sample sediment from the bottom of a tank? No one is doing their homework and working backwards from mass media is difficult.

  5. What is missing in all the news articles is risk.

    There is talk of “massive” amounts of “radiation”. About “huge” spills.

    There is no mention of the fact that there is negligible risk to people living a mile away from the plant (even if they were allowed to return to the area as they should).

    There is no mention of the fact that even the risk to workers is highly limited.

    There is no mention of the fact that a single fishing ship is much more devastating to marine life than all the leaks of Fukushima. And we don’t see news articles about evil, evil fishing ships.

    If one were to drink from a puddle of water you find on the street, you are likely to get very sick or even die from the bacteria in that pool. It is really not a good idea to drink from puddles of water on the street. But we don’t see news articles about the massive dangers and great evil of puddles of water on the street.

    This is typical media hyperbole. Use a lot of big words like staggering, huge, massive, etc. and repeat, at some point your article sounds important, as long as you don’t discuss the actual risk, the golden rule of TV level media.

  6. absolutely ridiculous article, John. Schneider is like Gundersen. Long time shill for the fossil fuel industry (joke, smile). He invents a full scale spent fuel pool fire, which I’m guessing is not close to possible even with total loss of coolant due to low temperature of the fuel rods.

    in his book “what is radiation,” robert gale (who hems and haws and accepts LNT as a default position) nevertheless has some interesting numbers for us in our efforts to gain perspective on the largely manufactured character of the latest scare story. Gale notes that the amount of radioactivity in the sea is about 14 Zeta Becquerels, or 1 trillion billion bqs (i.e. one billion trillion).

    so: the 20 to 40 trillion bqs put in ocean from Fukushima (if this is true) is about .0000003 of the natural radiation to be found in the ocean, except the fukushima bqs will decay whereas the other stuff is continually, more or less, replenished.

  7. We now have a new story.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23918882

    “Radiation levels around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant are 18 times higher than previously thought, Japanese authorities have warned.

    Last week the plant’s operator reported radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank into the ground.

    It now says readings taken near the leaking tank on Saturday showed radiation was high enough to prove lethal within four hours of exposure.”

    They don’t seem to be claiming that anyone has actually died.

    1. The WSJ has some more info:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324886704579048362546754326.html

      “As for the sharp rise in the radioactivity at one of the hot spots, Tepco said that while workers measured 1,800 mSv/h at a spot that was around five centimeters from the tank’s base, the reading dropped sharply to 15 mSv/h when moving 50 centimeters away from the base, a level considered much less dangerous.”

      Does this suggest that it is, again, beta radiation rather than gamma?

      I would guess (and this is nothing but my own hypothesis) they are checking closely around the tanks and have found a few places whether there are slow leaks; the water evaporates, concentrating the residue into a hot spot.

      1. More from Tepco:

        http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2013/1230191_5502.html

        “Some articles reported that “if a person is exposed this much radiation amount for four hours continuously, that would lead to death” comparing with the radiation level that would result in death (7,000 mSv), or “it takes only one minute to reach the annual radiation exposure limit for workers” comparing with the annual radiation exposure limit for workers (50 mSv). However, we believe that simply comparing the 1,800 mSv with those standard levels is not proper, since the standard levels are accumulation of effective dose (not equivalent dose) that express effects for whole body.”

      2. Sediment.

        The headlines should be radiation found around radiation clean up site and related to tanks containing radiation. But thats not as interesting I guess.

  8. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) had originally said the radiation emitted by the leaking water was around 100 millisieverts an hour.

    However, the company said the equipment used to make that recording could only read measurements of up to 100 millisieverts.

    The new recording, using a more sensitive device, showed a level of 1,800 millisieverts an hour.

    The new reading will have direct implications for radiation doses received by workers who spent several days trying to stop the leak last week …

    In addition, Tepco says it has discovered a leak on another pipe emitting radiation levels of 230 millisieverts an hour.

    The plant has seen a series of water leaks and power failures.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23918882

    Lets see, if I want to check the pressure in my 80 psi truck tires I should not use a gauge that only measures 5 psi maximum.

    1. @jaagu

      The BBC report is worth following up, but it is still talking about a hot spot reading where most of the measured dose is coming fom beta. The initial report was that a probe 50 cm above a puddle read 100 mSv / hr, but only 1.5 mSv gamma. It’s unlikely that the gamma component was inaccurate due to an over-ranged measuring device.

  9. The best thing that you can do is go to the reactor site, and do your own direct research instead of depending on all of this hearsay evidence.
    After all, it’s safe. Right?

    1. Yes, it’s safe. I’d love to go and am working towards that, but I have a full time job and insufficient vacation left this year.

      Maybe early next year.

  10. What kind of filters are they using at the site? Perhaps it is possible to filter out as much, much, much, much radioactivity as possible and place it into the “harbor” that is in front?

    Also, would it be possible to use something like HTH Super Shock and Swim and make the material “floculate” to the bottom of the tanks, which would concentrate the radiation but “release” the water above?

    Someone also proposed using a supertanker, filling it with the water, taking the ship out to the middle of the ocean and filter and treat the water as the ship is emptied. I would also do the treatment with HTH SSandSwim in the ship, then cover the residue with concrete and leave the ship anchored in the ocean, away from people. Then figure out what to do with the ship later.

    If Tepco uses like a pool filter to treat the water sometime the filter has to be “backwashed” and where does the backwash water go? Is that what is giving off so much radiation? Or do they use cartridge filters like the pools from Wal Mart do?

    If you go over there next year, don’t forget your Speedo!

    1. I don’t know exactly what they’re doing with the contaminated water but based on my experience what they are probably doing is running the water through a filter of 25 microns to remove larger particles, then through an ion exchanger charged with a resin which will absorb specific contaminants, then through a finer filter and pumped into a sampling tank. Normally at this point the water is sampled and if the analysis shows it to be within acceptable limits it is discharged. It appears that for political reasons they are not being allowed to discharge the water no matter the activity level.
      As far as the filters and ion exchanger resins, they are usually dewatered and packed in containers for disposal.

  11. I am not clear exactly where the radioactive isotopes are coming from.

    Is there some kind of ongoing leak from the reactor, or is this the last remnants of a short-lived leak at the time of the tsunami ?

    Can anyone explain ?

  12. The fuel in the reactors is damaged and at least partially melted and re-frozen.  The soluble elements leach into the water keeping it cool.  This water leaks into the reactor building basements through the damaged control-rod drive passages.  From there it is pumped out and eventually treated.  Most of the water is recirculated as coolant, but the excess (coming from leakage into the buildings) is stored.

    If there is substantial radioactivity in this water, it is probably leaking from tanks which hold water which has not yet been treated.

  13. Thanks.

    “Damaged control rod drive passages” makes it clear, and suggests that this problem will persist indefinitely.

    So I suppose we will get a never-ending stream of scare stories.

    1. If the fuel was removed, the problem would go away.

      If I was charged with designing machinery to remove it, I’d start with an air chisel centered in an air-lift tube positioned at the end of a robotic arm.  Just chisel the fuel and metal into pieces small enough to vacuum up with the air lift, which deposits them in a settling tank.  The settling system can go in the spent fuel pool once that’s emptied.  It would probably be good to keep the SFP water separate from the reactor vessel water, so that workers could stand around the SFP without extra shielding.  I suspect that dissolved Cs-137 and hot particles would otherwise make that difficult.

      Heck, I could probably do some mechanical sketches off the top of my head.

  14. @Ron
    From your article above you say
    “Note the use of nonstandard units like “counts per minute”… ”

    The units I used in my comment were Bq/cm and Bq/l, and counts per minute, and I used these because:

    The numbers from the Tepco press release were reported in Bq/cm3. A cm3 is a small amount (about the size of a thimble), and so I convert this number to Bq/l. The conversion is 1000 cm3 in one litre. Bq/l is the unit of measure that was reported by the media, so I thought it was important to know where this number came from. References used:

    a. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part020/full-text.html#part020- 1004
    “For the purposes of this part, activity is expressed in the special unit of curies (Ci) or in the SI unit of becquerels (Bq), or their multiples, or disintegrations (transformations) per unit of time. (a) One becquerel=1 disintegration per second (s-1).”

    b. http://www.unitconversion.org/volume/liters-to-cubic-centimeters-conversion.html

    c. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/1993/in93030.html. From the link:

    “II. Count Rate Survey Instruments

    Count rate survey instruments (those with a counts per minute (cpm) scale)
    using pancake probes are routinely used to detect and measure surface
    contamination. Pancake probes are thin window Geiger-Mueller probes which
    typically have an active face area of about 15 square centimeters.
    Pancake probes are most efficient for detecting and measuring energetic
    beta radiation from radioactively contaminated surfaces. The measured
    activity is commonly expressed in units of disintegrations per minute
    (dpm).”; and

    d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bequerels.

    I could have used the term disintegrations per minute vice counts per minute, but they are the same, so I chose CPM, which most people understand, and also this is the unit of measure the EPA uses on Radnet at the site http://epa.gov/radnet/radnet-data/index.html.

    The units I used in my comment are common standard units of measure for reporting radiation by the both the NRC and the EPA. These are the standard.

    And secondly from your quote “…and the purposeful selection of numbers that sound as scary as possible to go along with the selection of “staggering” as an adjective.”

    The purposeful selection of numbers were quoted directly from the link from the actual Tepco press release. They were the measurements from water around the H4 tank that were reported to have leaked. You had questions about the source data in the tables on the slides, so I researched and provided a link. The link is a Tepco press release dated Aug 20 2013, that explained the situation and states the analysed measured data from the water around the leaking tank. I selected only this group of numbers and included them in my comment, because this group of numbers was for the analysis of the water around the tank and because this was relevant to the discussion and was the relevant information that the media was talking about.

    The discussion I commented on was about the water from one tank. I provided a link to the source document for that one event. The additional links above, aided in the understanding of the data.

  15. Im starting to feel that the absence of numbers associated with these stories and the abundance of reported extremes ( minus the average water readings center tank, pacific readings, etc… ) may mean some kid of clean up scam is going on.

    What happened to the filtering systems on site that were announced over a year ago?

    Then there are these site freeze plans(?):

    Japan to spend $470 million in effort to deal with toxic water at Fukushima plant ( http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/02/world/asia/japan-fukushima-crisis/index.html?hpt=hp_bn2 )

    I hate to be the conspiracy theorist but the whole water emergency thing seems kinda farmed to illicit a ready made solution. Perhaps I just dont understand it very well.

    1. And while im on the topic of conspiracies the role the Russian media has taken in this has been unusual. The RT ones most have seen; my personal favorite ( and probably naughty of me to even mention it the Pravda one from the eighth of August. The winner of all such stories to me:

      Fukushima: Pacific Ocean poisoned, millions at risk?

      Quite how polluted the Pacific Ocean is and how far the contamination has spread is still a mystery. When people start dropping dead in California and Australia, we may find out. ( http://english.pravda.ru/science/earth/08-08-2013/125328-pacific_poisoned-0/ )

      lol. They must have forgotten Russia was closer; or perhaps more accurately it was not the intended target of this propaganda. What is also notable about Russia is the vast and HUGE investments they are making in energy delivery infrastructure in the far east. They expect the region soon to surpass Europe in generating revenue from Russian gas. (not to mention oil infrastructure expansions)

      Gazprom eyes Japanese expansion

      Among the joint gas projects between Russia and Japan are Vladivostok LNG and Sakhalin–2, an oil and gas joint venture between Gazprom, Shell and Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi. ( http://rt.com/business/gazprom-japan-lng-terminal-602/ )

  16. “This handout gave me pause and made me wonder if I had made a serious error in trying to calm people down. If the numbers from that handout are correct and representative, they show there is something to worry about, at least in the local area.”

    I gotta say that 1.8 siverts/hour sounds rather hot to me, considering this is 2.5 years after the “accident” (is it a clusterfuku?). 2 minutes puts you over the annual limit (oh wait TEPCO raised the limit so workers can hang out by that location a full eight? minutes…no sweat).
    Sucks to be one of the two guys who has been tasked with measuring the water storage tanks the past two years…or one of the 50 currently with that dubious honor.

    1. @disdaniel

      The 1.8 sieverts/hour reading was nearly 100% BETA particles measured at a distance from the source of about 50-60 cm. A piece of paper would drop the reading down to the 1.5 mSv gamma. So would about 2 meters worth of dry air.

      The ONLY way that material would be hazardous to humans is if they ingested the concentrated radioactive material. If they just ingested a tiny portion of the material because it was diluted with a large quantity of water, there would be no negative health effects.

  17. The numbers for “leaked water” in TEPCO’s August 19, 2013 document are consistent with the numbers for the water stored in these tanks.

    These tanks store waste water after the reverse osmosis treatment (desalination). The treated water goes back into the reactors for cooling, and the waste water is stored in these tanks. Since the water also goes through cesium absorption treatment (by SARRY) before it goes through reverse osmosis, it is low in cesium and other gamma nuclides.

    The beta radiation from this water is about 2,000 mSv/hr at 70 micrometer dose equivalent.

    The “leaked water” in August 19 document is this waste water itself. Measurements in August 23 documents are about water in the drains nearby, diluted with running water there.

    For your info, the most recent nuclide analysis by TEPCO of water at various stages of treatment. The concentrated, post-RO waste water inside these tanks are No.8:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/water_130809-e.pdf

    That this water is somehow leaking is a fact, but to say that this water is uncontrollably leaking into the Pacific Ocean is, as you say, worst fear-mongering. There is no evidence so far that this water is even reaching the ocean.

    What is worse is this global frenzy on “1,800 (or 2,200) mSv/hr radiation that kill people in 4 hours” detected at Fukushima. It is not just people like Chris Busby but all mainstream media (including NYTimes, BBC, etc) and many alternative media who thrive on wrong information and fear repeat this completely erroneous information.

    From the beginning, TEPCO has said this is dose equivalent at 70 micrometer to show the effect on skin and eye lens – i.e. beta radiation, not gamma. It is completely consistent with the radiation measurement of this waste water, whose leaks happened before (no one paid any attention to those). But the media, through amazing ignorance after more than 2 years or willful ignorance to get eyeballs, has glossed over this important detail.

    Japanese people who fear radiation are shell-shocked, and people outside Japan who do not have access to the primary information (in this case, information provided by TEPCO in Japanese) fear (some cheer) the end of the world or something catastrophic as such. I am thoroughly disgusted with this, and frankly I don’t know what to do to educate people. I’m at the point of giving up.

    1. @No name no country

      Don’t give up. Get mad and engage your questioning attitude. Do you really believe that “the media” makes much money by inflating this particular story to attract eyeballs as opposed to any one of dozens of other ways to get the attention of viewers and readers. Heck, we are at the edge of a new war; surely people would tune in for more updates on that topic.

      If the media does not have a very strong direct motive in terms of gaining viewer/reader attention for spreading this particular story, it is time to look for people, organizations and perhaps even countries with stronger motives.

      As John Tucker pointed out in an earlier comment (https://atomicinsights.com/update-fukushima-water-leaks-unrepresentative-sample-used-support-fear-mongering/#comment-61989) RT — aka Russia Today — has been particularly creative in making up additional fear mongering stories and inviting people like Chris Busby to spin tales that increase the shell-shocked attitude of the Japanese people. Russia has been hugely dependent on exporting oil and gas for a major portion of its national income for many years; it is making billions more every year that Japan keeps its functional nuclear plants shut down.

      There are plenty of other actors with influence in the media that are engaged in the business of finding, extracting, processing, financing, and transporting oil and natural gas that are also benefiting hugely from the fear that people have about harmless “leaks” of “radioactive” water at Fukushima.

      Aside: I used quotes around radioactive not because I believe it is NOT radioactive, but because fear stories never put the word into any context or tell anyone any useful information about how radioactive the water is. Without any quantification, it would not be a lie to say that ALL sea water is “radioactive”. End Aside.

      Teaching the public to fear “leaks” of water containing minuscule quantities of radioactive material (measured in grams) also distracts them from the enormous DUMPS called smokestacks that push many billions of tons of combustion waste products — some of which are carcinogenic or toxic in concentrated form — into our shared atmosphere.

      Some worry that we are doomed to fail when I point out that the real opposition to the vastly increased use of nuclear energy instead of fossil fuel wherever it makes sense is the global fossil fuel industry and its courtiers. It is an extremely wealthy, savvy and politically powerful foe. However, I like to remind people that there are far more energy consumers in the world than energy producers; many of them are also rich and powerful. Few fossil fuel consumers bear any love for Big Oil. Its booms and busts have had a large negative effect on their ability to prosper and live secure, comfortable lives.

      I came of age during the 1970s. Because I like to use gasoline powered machines (cars, boats, planes, etc) Big Oil became one of my lifelong foes during the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. I turned 14 during the period when my dad had to get up at “oh dark thirty” in order to get in line to fill up his gas tank so he could commute to his job 40 miles from our suburban home.

      I hated the thought that I would get my driver’s license at a time when everyone was worried that the price of oil and its availability would continue to be a major issue. It is hard to explain how depressing that thought was to a guy who had dearly loved the experience of being able to freely travel a great country like the United States in large, comfortable station wagons and campers.

      As a career officer in the US Navy who attended the Navy War College’s course of for national strategy and policy, I spent a lot of time learning the vital nature of reliable petroleum supplies and the way that single group of products has influenced our history as a nation — including numerous wars and lesser conflicts, some of which resulted in millions of casualties.

      When I announced to my colleagues that I was resigning my commission in the US Navy in 1993 to found Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. to design and build small, simple, economical nuclear heated gas turbines, one colleague make a prescient comment. He said, “Good luck Rod, but the oil companies will never let you succeed.”

      I’ve spent the last 20 years figuring out how to make a liar out of him. It has been quite a struggle, but I think I am getting closer to a successful strategy.

  18. Do not entertain with water reading numbers. Demand clear view data of the coriums. In fact they hope coriums melt like the ring in Morduck.

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