TEPCO detects toxic water leaking into ocean at Fukushima nuclear site

TEPCO reported on Sunday that highly toxic levels of radioactive tritium and cesium are leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima no. 1 power plant. Amid rising concerns about radiation leaks at the site, and a declaration of Emergency by Japans Nuclear Regulatory Agency, TEPCO drilled a new groundwater test well through which they measured the new data.

The announcement gave radiation measurements over the last few days at the newly installed groundwater observation hole no. 0-1 (east of Unit 1 Turbine Building):

  • Aug 10: Cesium-134 0.66Bq/L, Cesium-137 1.2Bq/L, All-β 290Bq/L, Tritium 34,000Bq/L
  • Aug 8: Cesium-134 0.61Bq/L, Cesium-137 1.6Bq/L, All-β 210Bq/L, Tritium 23,000Bq/L

On Aug 9, TEPCO described these measurements as “high compared to the densities (several hundred Bq/L) in the groundwater observation holes No.2-1 and No.3-1 measured in the past.”

At another observation hole (no. 1-5) TEPCO reported these recent tritium densities: August 6: Tritium 45,000Bq/L; August 5: Tritium 56,000Bq/L; July 31: Tritium 28,000Bq/L.

To keep nuclear cores at the damaged nuclear reactor site from overheating, TEPCO is pumping hundreds of tons of water per day into basements of the damaged reactor buildings. That water is leaking into the groundwater, and is also leaking over and through containment walls built by TEPCO.

These measurements are part of a larger effort to contain radioactive water, and preventing leakage into the ocean.

Tritium is a mildly radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs both naturally and during the operation of nuclear power plants. It readily forms water when exposed to oxygen, meaning these tritium releases from Fukushima are forming radioactive water. While Tritium occurs naturally, these levels are over 50 times higher than the U.S. considers to be safe in drinking water.

At this level of contamination reported by TEPCO, the groundwater is extremely toxic to human life. That they are recording Cesium in the groundwater, as well, makes this far more dangerous.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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