New York Times reports new threats at Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactors

The New York Times has obtained a copy of a confidential document prepared by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's oversight team of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant disaster. The nuclear hazard assessment warns of an increasingly complicated path towards restoring cooling and regaining control of the severely damaged reactor systems in four of the six units. New threats of more hydrogen gas explosions and futher damage to the reactors from water laden reactor buildings from more earthquake aftershocks may be increasing.

One of the most disturbing news story accounts taken from the NRC document states:

"The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools
above the reactors were blown “up to one mile from the units,” and that pieces of highly
radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to
protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred
during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the
extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed."


Kevin Kamps at the Darlington, Ontario hearings


Worker monitoring radiation at Fukushima plant says levels immeasurable

This from NHK: "A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.

The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant's No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.

Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility.

The monitor said he takes measurements as soon as he finds water, because he can't determine whether it's contaminated just by looking at it. He said he's very worried about the safety of workers there.

Contaminated water and efforts to remove it have been hampering much-needed work to cool the reactors.

The monitor expressed frustration, likening the situation to looking up a mountain that one has to climb, without having taken a step up."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 19:51 +0900 (JST)


Radiation debate rages inside EPA

Public Employees for Environmental Resposibility (PEER) released a media advisory about a plan at EPA to radically hike post-accident radiation in food & water. "The internal documents show that under the updated PAG a single glass of water could give a lifetime’s permissible exposure. In addition, it would allow long-term cleanup limits thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These new limits would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed." PEER News Release


Radiation leaking into Pacific Ocean now 7.5 million times legal limit


The Los Angeles Times is reporting that radioactive iodine levels in sea water off the coast of the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant have risen to 7.5 million times the legally "permitted" levels. Radioactive cesiuim levels are now recorded at 1.1 million times the so-called "permissible" limit.  It must always be noted that even "permissible" levels are not medically considered safe levels for radiation exposure as there is no "safe" exposure level without an associated increase in risk to health.

NHK Japan news service is further reporting that the much longer lived  radioactive cesium (30 year half-life) in the marine enviroment off the coast of the stricken reactor is bioaccumulating in schools of "sand lance" fish.  As a result, sand lance fishing is now being restricted. The contamination of the marine food web or chain is of increasing concern.  The sand lance are near shore schooling fish that form an important food source for marine life including salmon, whales and sea birds.

NHK quoted a Japanese fisherman to say, "If these contaminated leaks continue, it will gradually ruin the sea. We have only one hope, stop the leaks." 

As barrier after barrier has failed to contain radiation from the multi-unit reactor accident, the containment structures have become sieves for uncontrolled releases of greater and greater amounts of radioactive isotopes leaking into the ocean and the atmosphere. High radiation levels continue to hamper and defeat repair efforts. After failure to inject concrete into one known crack with a flow rate of several tons of radioactive water per hour, TEPCO is now injecting a "liquid glass" to stem the toxic flow. The company is considering putting up offshore "silt fences" in a desparate attempt to dam the radiation closer in offshore water closer to the reactor site.

Brian Ross has also blogged at the Daily Kos about the impact of such large-scale radioactivity releases on the health of the world's oceans the life forms that live there.