Home > Environment, Nuclear Energy > Japan Fukushima Update: Unit 4 Not So Good; High Levels of Cesium 134/137

Japan Fukushima Update: Unit 4 Not So Good; High Levels of Cesium 134/137

April 14, 2011

I was watching a Bloomberg report this morning and a financial analysts was saying there are no protests in Japan due to the Fukushima crisis. I almost fell out of my chair. I actually had to go to The Voice of Russia to get this:

Some 15,000 Tokyo residents have taken to the streets to protest against the use of nuclear power. The rally chanted “No to nuclear bombs! No more Fukushima!” to the sounds of rock music and reggae, according to the Kiodo news agency.

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan on March 11th, disabling the cooling systems at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. Several ensuing radioactive leaks forced the authorities to evacuate people from the 20-kilometer zone around the station.

Later, radioactive elements were found in the air, sea and drinking water, as well as food products in a number of Japanese regions.


UPDATE, 11:30 am, Thursday, April 14, 2011. The fuel pool at Unit 4 apparently has experienced an inadvertent criticality at some point in the past month. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has confirmed that some fuel rods in the pool are damaged. A 400 milliliter water sampling from the pool taken Tuesday found elevated levels (as much as 100,000 times above normal) of Iodine-131, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137. As nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson of Fairewind Associates points out, there should be no Iodine-131 detected at all. All of the fuel from Unit 4 had been removed from the core and placed in the pool well before the March 11 accident. With a half-life of 8 days, the likely way Iodine-131 would be detected in this water would be if there had been a criticality—which given the severe damage to the pool is more than just conjecture. Tepco, however, suggests the readings may be caused by radioactive rubble in the pool or radioactive rainwater coming into the pool.

Tepco says it so far has pumped out 700 tons of highly radioactive water from a trench to a condenser; but with 60,000 tons of this water across three reactors, that’s a proverbial drop in the bucket.

The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum reports that the nitrogen injection into the containment of Unit 1, intended to reduce the possibility of another hydrogen explosion, appears not to be working. Pressure is not rising in the containment, indicating that the nitrogen is leaking back out.

Samples taken by ARCO, an independent French radiation laboratory, of soil and water in several communities outside the official evacuation zone, show very high levels of radioactive Iodine and Cesium as far away as Fukushima itself (about 60 km, or 36 miles, away).

Note to readers in Hawaii: U.S. EPA measurements from Hilo show elevated levels of Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 in milk samples taken earlier this week (19 picocuries/liter of Cesium-137 and 18 picocuries/liter of Iodine-131 vs “acceptable” level of 3 picocuries/liter). This is of concern for people who may drink local milk, or eat local cheeses and meat from local livestock.

Source: NIRS go there now, click here


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