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Japan

Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.

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Sunday
Oct132013

Former NRC Chair Jaczko urges Japan to solve radioactive water leakage disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, and to seek non-nuclear sources of electricity

Former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko's NRC file photo during his 2009-2012 tenure.In an article comprised of interview extracts entitled "FUKUSHIMA WATER CRISIS: Water recycling systems urgently needed, ex-chairman of U.S. nuclear watchdog says," the Asahi Shimbun reports that former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman, Greg Jaczko (photo, left), advises that TEPCO and the Japanese national government needs to fix the radioactive water leaks at Fukushima Daiichi, in order to preserve its international credibility. He also urges the electric utilities of Japan to look to more "efficient and effective" sources of electricity generation, rather than nuclear power, obviously -- in light of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe -- at risk of catastrophic failure.

Before becoming NRC's Chairman under President Obama in 2009, Jaczko had served as an NRC Commissioner from 2005 to 2009.

Sunday
Oct132013

Record levels of radioactive cesium in seawater and tritium in groundwater measured at Fukushima Daiichi

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, record levels of hazardous radioactive substances have been measured in both the ocean just offshore, as well as in the groundwater beneath, the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeast Japan.

"[A] combined 10 becquerels [270 picocuries] of cesium-134 and cesium-137 per liter" was measured by nuclear utility Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) at the mouth of the bay which leads into the Pacific Ocean (see aerial photo, left). TEPCO measured 2.7 becquerels [73 picocuries] of cesium-134, and 7.3 becquerels [197 picocuries] of cesium-137, per liter of seawater at the port mouth. This is a dramatic increase over previous measurements.

The Asahi Shimbun also reports that "[o]n Oct. 8, the company also detected 1.4 becquerels [37.8 picocuries, presumably per liter] of cesium-137 from seawater sampled 1 kilometer off the mouth of the port," indicating that the radioactive contamination hemmoraging from the Fukushima Daiichi site is, in fact, flowing out to sea.

The Asahi Shimbun concluded:

"Meanwhile, TEPCO measured 320,000 becquerels [8.65 million picocuries] of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, per liter from water sampled from an observation well on Oct. 10 located near a storage tank, from which the leakage of 300 tons [about 72,000 gallons] of highly contaminated water was discovered in August...

It marked the first time that water containing 300,000 or more becquerels [8.1 million picocuries] of tritium per liter was detected from groundwater sampled from the compound of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

It is more than five times the [Japanese] legally allowed maximum level of tritium contamination--60,000 becquerels [1.6 million] per liter--that could be released into the ocean."

It is remarkable that the unchecked flow of radioactive water -- stemming from groundwater flow through radioactively contaminated sub-levels of the devastated Fukushima Daiichi reactor units, as well as major leaks from highly radioactive water storage tanks -- is only five times the Japanese legally allowed maximum contaminant levels of tritium in water. In other words, ordinary or routine operations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, or other Japanese atomic reactors, for that matter, were allowed, under law and regulation, to release to the groundwater and even ocean, levels of tritium at some 20% of what has resulted from the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

As shown in Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet "Routine Radioactive Releases from U.S. Nuclear Power Plants," as well as its report "Leak First, Fix Later," there have been and still are an epidemic of "planned" and "unplanned" tritium releases into the environment in this country, even without so-called "accidents."

Remarkably, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) considers 1 million picocuries per liter of tritium in groundwater "acceptable" or "permissible," not to confused with "safe." Acceptably or permissibly risky would be more honest phrases.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, allows on 20,000 picocures per liter in drinking water.

As reported by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), "this corresponds to a lifetime fatal cancer risk of about one in 25,000 for a person drinking two liters a day for a lifetime. This is far less protective than a one-in-a-million risk level, the most stringent standard for cleanup for a single pollutant at Superfund sites containing radioactive waste."

40 times less protective, to be exact.

Tritium limits are even stronger elsewhere. As reported by IEER:

"California’s public health goal is 400 picocuries per liter (1 in 1 million lifetime fatal cancer risk). Colorado’s surface water tritium standard for Rocky Flats clean up, made in agreement with the Federal government is 500 picocuries per liter."

Even the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Board has recommended a tritium in drinking water limit of 450 picocuries per liter. However, Canadian regulations allow a whopping 7,000 picocures per liter, apparently to accommodate the operations of 20 CANDU reactors in Ontario alone -- infamous generators of large amounts of tritium.

Tritium is a clinically-proven cause of cancer, birth defects, and genetic damage.

As reported on Oct. 11th by the Asahi Shimbun, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has agreed to work with TEPCO and the Japan national government's Nuclear Regulation Authority to bolster the credibility of its radioactivity monitoring around Fukushima Daiichi. Unmentioned, however, is the fact that IAEA has a crisis in credibility all its own -- as its charter requires it to promote nuclear power, in addition to regulating its safety.

Saturday
Oct122013

UNSCEAR cites major flaws in Fukushima Daiichi worker radiation exposure records, studies

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has identified major flaws in the record-keeping and analyses regarding Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant workers exposed to significant amounts of hazardous radioactivity during the initial days, week, and months of the catastrophe. Overall radiation doses could have been underestimated by 20%, especially so for workers' thyroid glands exposed to viciously radioactive forms of radioactive iodine, due to poor record-keeping by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and more than 80 contractors, in violation of Japanese legal and regulatory requirements. Workers exposed to certain levels of radioactive exposure have been offered free health exams by their employers.

Friday
Oct112013

Japanese nuclear establishment resumes emergency preparedness exercises

Sendai nuclear power plant, southwestern JapanNational, prefectural, and local municipal officials numbering in the thousands took part in the first nuclear emergency preparedness training exercises since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began on March 11, 2011, as reported by the Asahi Shimbun.

The training exercises centered on the Sendai nuclear power plant (photo, left), located in Kagoshima Prefecture on Japan's southern island.

The exercises supposedly improved on weaknesses identified in the the Japanese Diet's report, by the independent Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, which found that "The training exercise cannot be said to have been effective," due to an inappropriate faith in the industry-nurtured "nuclear safety myth," which held that "critical accidents would never occur at Japanese nuclear plants."

Thursday
Oct102013

Radioactivity levels increase to two-year high at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2

As reported by Reuters, a Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman has admitted that efforts to chemically harden the ground at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site have pushed contaminated soil out into the bay, connected to the Pacific Ocean.

As Reuters reports:

"TEPCO said combined Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 readings just outside the damaged No. 2 reactor spiked to 1,200 becquerels [32,400 picocuries] per liter on Oct. 9, more than 13 times the level on Oct. 8.

Cesium-134 readings were 370 becquerels [10,000 picocuries] per liter while Cesium-137 was 830/liter [22,400 picocuries] within a silt fence right outside the reactor building. Regulatory limits for Cesium, which emits a strong gamma radiation and is harmful to the human body, is 90 becquerels [2,400 picocuries]/liter for Cesium-137 and 60 becquerels [1,600 picocuries]/liter for Cesium-134."

How silt fences magically protect the Pacific Ocean against water soluble hazardous radioactive substances remains unexplained by the national government of Japan. It appears they are relying on the false premise of "dilution is the solution to radioactive pollution," more of a delusion, since it does not address the build up of hazardous artificial radioactivity in the environment, and its bio-accumulation and bio-concentration in the food chain, atop which humans sit.