Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Japan

Japan Doubles Fukushima Radiation Leak Estimate 251

Posted by timothy
from the but-hey-only-in-base-10 dept.
DrBoumBoum writes "The severity of the Fukishima disaster continues to go up, from incident level 4 to level 5 to level 7, and now to 20% of total Chernobyl radioactive spill. The story is not over yet as the plant keeps on leaking radioactive material and may still do so for a long time."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Japan Doubles Fukushima Radiation Leak Estimate

Comments Filter:
  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @05:45PM (#36368374)

    Me irradiate you long time.

  • Nuclear Hologram. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @05:46PM (#36368382)
    Fools. The lot of them. Trying to hide the real nature of this accident has undermined nuclear power technology greatly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jawnn (445279)

      Fools. The lot of them. Trying to hide the real nature of this accident has undermined nuclear power technology greatly.

      Yeah, 'cause nuclear power has always been such a good idea. Right? I mean the fucking inevitableirresponsible behavior from profit-driven plant operators has never been a significant problem. Right?

      • Re:Nuclear Hologram. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @06:43PM (#36369034)

        It's only inevitable when you cut down on regulatory authority to satisfy the whack job libertarian lobby. All forms of energy have possible downsides to them, and some of them can be catastrophic in nature, hardly seems fair to single out the nuclear energy industry when the oil industry has more or less led us to the brink of disaster and wants to keep leading into the abyss.

        • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @07:18PM (#36369304)

          All forms of energy have possible downsides to them, and some of them can be catastrophic in nature, hardly seems fair to single out the nuclear energy

          Well few other energy sources make an area completely unlivable for decades or centuries when they fail.

          Oil/coal have operational pollution issues, but they don't have catastrophic failure issues. Yes the Gulf Oil spill was a sort of catastrophic event, but even oil is eaten by microbes. The downsides are limited to a decade or so...and life continues there even during this time. Not great but not nearly on the scale of a nuclear accident.

          If humans are involved in design, construction or operation, failures will happen. With nuclear, failure is not an option. 100,000+ people in Japan are permanently homeless. At least it's a foreshadowing for when the oceans rise and 10s of millions of people need to be relocated.

          • by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @07:49PM (#36369602)

            Well few other energy sources make an area completely unlivable for decades or centuries when they fail.

            Sea level rise from global warming is expected to flood some densely populated areas. Increased temperatures will make some currently hospitable areas inhospitable, and turn land presently viable for agriculture worthless. These changes are likely to be irreversible for thousands of years at the very least, possibly indefinitely, and the problems occur globally, not just within the closest few kilometers of the power plants.

            There is very little doubt that the cost of adapting to the consequences of our greenhouse gas emissions will vastly exceed even the worst outcome of nuclear accidents. Yes, that includes Chernobyl. You can't declare the entire world an exclusion zone when it's the global climate you're messing up.

            • by symbolset (646467) *

              For the most part we don't need nuclear power. For electricity generation provided by nuclear power many places can use geothermal instead. Particularly Japan. It's cheaper, doesn't require foreign fuels or technologies, doesn't leave a mess afterward, the plants don't have to be decommissioned - and they don't have the potential for their lives to be extended long beyond their safe operating life due to political and fiscal exigencies because they don't become unsafe over time. The spent fuel doesn't

              • Re:Nuclear Hologram. (Score:4, Interesting)

                by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:29PM (#36370596)
                WTH? Do you actually know anything about Japan? This is THE most real estate scarce country. Geothermal eats tons of realestate for the numbers it generates among other problems. Japan's solution IS the fission option. They need electricity, and boatloads of it. Most of the way people even get around that country comes from the gobs of elecricity the reactors produce. Plus really, if you knew a damn thing about spent material, the issue is finding another plant to reprocess it & use it because the current gens have been around 50+ years and wern't made with that in mind. Problem is, wackjobs stop the new reactors from going online so they can munch on the fuel you moan about sitting around. Truly spent fuel has very little radioativity left and thus, less of the need for difficult storage.

                Hell, if you really wanna split hairs, the US? F-tons of weapons grade material laying around that HAS to be stored, or used, not to mention is aging. Which means the enclosures around them are going to crack eventually. Those material need to be used till the levels go down, and becomes a simpler task to store. But hey, I already know theres no changing your mind. Too much kool-aid has been drank on your part.
              • Geothermal releases a fair amount of CO2 and another contaminants with varying values depending of the quality of the steam coming from the wells. Some of that CO2 get processed and sold for industrial uses, but you can't process it at 100%.

                • by Sique (173459)

                  The geothermal CO2 would have been released anyway due to the vulcanic activity. So the CO2 balance is zero. There are other issues with geothermal energy, which are more severe for Japan: It seems to make the region more prone to earthquakes. The geothermal tests around Basel (Switzerland) have been stopped after the seismic activity increased [geoscienceworld.org].

            • Sea level rise from global warming is expected to flood some densely populated areas.

              You are correct. I still stand by my point that coal/oil this is an operational issue outcome not one of failure. Sure we didn't do anything about the problem until almost too late, but that doesn't mean the problem was because those fuel sources 'failed' like a nuclear accident.

          • 100,000+ people in Japan are permanently homeless.

            Really?

          • If humans are involved in design, construction or operation, failures will happen. With nuclear, failure is not an option.

            Indeed, failure is not an option. Close down your local hydro electric dam [wikipedia.org] today! (Better get all the other energy production means while you're at it.

          • by mcvos (645701)

            Oil/coal have operational pollution issues, but they don't have catastrophic failure issues. Yes the Gulf Oil spill was a sort of catastrophic event, but even oil is eaten by microbes. The downsides are limited to a decade or so...and life continues there even during this time. Not great but not nearly on the scale of a nuclear accident.

            I disagree. The Gulf Oil spill was at least as bad as Fukishima. Not as bad as Chernobyl perhaps, since it didn't have quite as dramatic an impact on human lives, but the damage to sea life is enormous, and it will take a long time to recover from that.

            I'm as much against fission power as the next guy, but it doesn't do anyone any good to overlook the significant dangers of the oil and coal industries. We need to get rid of them all, eventually.

            For example, the German decision to get rid of nuclear power pl

        • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @07:26PM (#36369406) Journal

          Actually no, as a Libertarian I don't think you get neuclear power at all. These things only get built with subsides and loan grantees, that we don't support. The free market does not build these.

          • by timeOday (582209)
            The free market would just build a bunch of nice cheap coal plants with nothing to scrub the pollution but the lungs of the hapless public.
        • by amiga3D (567632)

          The problem with modern libertarianism is there are no real repercussions for this kind of behavior. IF they were to take all the board members of Tokyo Electric Power Co. out to a rice patty and shoot them in their heads then maybe other power companies might think twice before getting sloppy. Really the damage they've caused warrants it.

          • If they had same this wouldn't have necessary since by their own volition they would have committed sepukko. Their short sightedness is astounding, instead of spending a few million dollars protecting a highly profitable power plant they risked everything and lost all.

  • by ravenshrike (808508) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @05:50PM (#36368434)

    To anybody with even a remote understanding of nuclear physics that number means absolutely nothing. What matters, especially for long term effect, is the form of radiation. Which the article of course doesn't mention.

    • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @05:51PM (#36368448)
      Well at Chernobyl we only got giant earth worms, nothing on the same level of the moth and lizard mutagens from the Japan incident.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      I wish there were more posts like this outside of Slashdot. I remember being in Tokyo at the time it happened and seeing CNN's "worse than Hiroshima" headline. Strangely and somewhat disappointingly I still only have one head and two eyes.

      Hopefully this will also put some of the accusations of lying to rest too. When they know something they release the info, and besides which you can't cover up radiation.

    • by publiclurker (952615) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @06:01PM (#36368558)
      To anybody with even a remote understanding of human behavior, the words of the people in charge of Fukushima mean absolutely nothing.
      • To anybody with even a remote understanding of Slashdot, posts in the forums tend to become highly repetitive.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Why would they lie when there is no way they can cover up the radiation? International scientists at the site take their own independent readings, and of course outside the plant anyone with a Geiger counter can check local radiation levels. Some of the equipment being used was loaned by other countries (robots, for example) and they sent engineers to assist with their operation, so any conspiracy would have to force them to lie too.

        On top of that other countries, particularly the US, take regular air sampl

    • What matters is the isotopes which emit the radiation. This not only determines the form of radiation, but also the energy, the lifetime, and whether and where it accumulates in the human body.

    • If it's level 7, I think they mean the bad kind.

      • by sjames (1099)

        I once had a level ten paper cut, but somehow I survived.

        In other words, these levels aren't very meaningful. Knowing what amounts of what isotopes where would actually tell us something.

    • by edxwelch (600979)

      > What matters, especially for long term effect, is the form of radiation. Which the article of course doesn't mention.
      Umm, iodine and cesium.
      They're always the main isotopes emitted in a nuclear accident. Besides they're the only ones Tepco give information on.
      There's no info about the rubble that got blown out by the explosions, but I assume that that isn't counted as part of the 770,000 figure

      • by sjames (1099)

        There's a huge gulf between iodine and cesium. If it's mostly iodine and a trace of cesium, it's gone in days. If it's mostly cesium, it's years.

    • It is in the attachment from this press release from TEPCO:

      http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11060707-e.html [tepco.co.jp]

      Improvement plan for the exact nuclide analysis at the site of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station under instruction of NISA (Continued report 4)

      The most surprising thing is that they found traces of Te-129 with an half life of 70 minutes in some samples from sea water not in the immediate vicinity of the NPS.

  • A few studios are already planning the next major release for certain hot titles.

    Fallout 4: New Japan. Welcome to the Tokyo wasteland!
    Modern Warfare 3: Assassination of the No.1 terrorist in history by US SEALs in a foreign central urban area

    • by Biff Stu (654099)

      Or better yet, combine the two...

      Osamazilla, rising from his burial in the radioactive sea to demolish Tokyo.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Now that I think of it, why don't they do a Fallout in Asia? The closest they've come to that was Operation Anchorage and that was still in the North America.

  • everytime a fukujima related escalation came up, nuclear apologists came up and fucked around with excuses, insults, assaults, rationalizations, this that. this happened how many times ? 4 up to now ?

    and yet, gee, another time the thing got escalated into an even more perilous situation.

    yes, come, fuck around with shitty excuses AGAIN. i wonder what level of peril will be the level you stop doing that.
    • by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @06:11PM (#36368672)

      What I am most angry about is that all the promises of "cheap" go right out the window with the observed accident rate and costs. None of the numerous promises about reactor safety even remotely resemble the truth. To me the whole nuclear industry is a scheme to transfer huge amounts of money into certain pockets.

      That they cause a lot of deaths and a completely unsolved long-term waste storage problem, which will increase cost even further (but for future generation and who cares about them) is just the icing on the cake.

      • by Ironchew (1069966)

        The conflation of two aspects of the NIMBY crowd, "No new nuclear reactors," and "Nothing capable of refining weapons-grade material (i.e. it's a bomb omg!)," have made the cost of operating old, inefficient reactor designs prohibitively expensive. Breeder reactors that don't melt down and process nearly all the input material several times (resulting in a much smaller amount of waste that, while highly radioactive, is naturally radioactive for a far shorter period of time, in the span of decades) are not

        • While I am for thorium reactors, I'm not deluded enough to blame the anti-nuclear crowd for the lack of upgrades that reactors are receiving. Fukushima was supposed to be shut down 10 years ago, but they keep extending the life of the reactor. Your bullshit argument only illustrates that there are nuclear nuts who make excuses for the old reactors still running, and that there are anti-nuclear nuts who ignore the newer reactors to say all nuclear is bad.

          • You forget that the biggest reason that fukushima was still running is because of NIMBY concerns in Japan not wanting new reactors built. The money was there for replacing it 10 years ago, but it was politically inconvenient and tepco couldn't get the permits. Based on a normal construction time it would have been replaced with a newer, safer design and we wouldn't be talking about this if it wasn't for the anti-nuclear nutjobs.

            • I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have designed it for a tsunami they themselves said could never happen. Saying this wouldn't have happened is cherry picking the result to suit your argument.

              Given that this event exceeded the risk standards in place even today, any new reactors would have suffered the same fate. The topside cooling water storage would have helped, but that's no guarantee of success given the magnitude.
              • Most of the new reactor designs include fail-safes that don't rely on constant cooling for months to stop the reaction. Most can stop it within 2 days. the majority are even gravity based. One in particular involves a gravity based system that if something goes wrong triggers on its own and shoves graphite rods down into the reactor, stopping the reaction. I'd call that a pretty large guarantee of success. The facility wouldn't even have to be built as well as the original.

                • Most of the new reactor designs include fail-safes that don't rely on constant cooling for months to stop the reaction.

                  I get your point and that's somewhat what I tried to say. However it's also about the same as "Trust us, it won't fail because we've got the latest safety measures in place." Which is *exactly* what they said about the original nuclear plant. Another unforeseen disaster will trump those safety features too.

                  Nothing else has these types of issues. Nothing.

            • You forget that the biggest reason that fukushima was still running is because of NIMBY concerns in Japan not wanting new reactors built. The money was there for replacing it 10 years ago, but it was politically inconvenient and tepco couldn't get the permits. Based on a normal construction time it would have been replaced with a newer, safer design and we wouldn't be talking about this if it wasn't for the anti-nuclear nutjobs.

              I suspect TEPCO's, the IAEA's and governments track record with the truth and compliance comes into the equation (imo).
              TEPCO failed to meet it's obligations regarding maintenance of pumps and their word that it will be done was accepted despite being caught falsifying records on more than one occasion. [reuters.com]
              Why did they get the green light to keep operating let alone extend the life of reactors operated by them that should have been decommissioned?
              The risk of the generators failing due to a tsunami were ide

            • by mad flyer (589291)

              UTTER BULLSHIT... there is no NIMBY in japan... Plant kept running and got a 10 years extention permit just before the Quake just because it was still good enough to make money, same goes with Hamaoka.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wiedzmin (1269816)
      It is a little known fact that the Chernobyl sarcophagus is at a danger of collapsing, requiring the international monetary fund to issue a few million dollars on its upkeep every few years. Through such simple means Ukraine is managing to consistently reduce its annual budget deficit and supply its government officials with sizable salaries. Japan just wants part of the action.
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Little known? You mean "most well known thing ever", right?

        It's been known since day one that the sarcophagus was designed to be a temporary structure - one of the corners is using the damaged reactor building as a load bearing structure, for example. And it was never designed to be hermetically sealed.

        The subsequent talk about raising money for a permanent solution has been going on since the late 80s.

    • by treeves (963993)

      What level of peril?

      Sir Lancelot: We were in the nick of time. You were in great peril.
      Sir Galahad: I don't think I was.
      Sir Lancelot: Yes, you were. You were in terrible peril.
      Sir Galahad: Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.
      Sir Lancelot: No, it's too perilous.
      Sir Galahad: Look, it's my duty as a knight to sample as much peril as I can.
      Sir Lancelot: No, we've got to find the Holy Grail. Come on.
      Sir Galahad: Oh, let me have just a little bit of peril?
      Sir Lancelot: No. It's unhealthy.
      Sir Galahad:

  • by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @06:07PM (#36368622)

    These people give engineers everywhere a bad name. Incompetent and pathological liars. Incredible.

  • by cf18 (943501) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @06:34PM (#36368936)
    It is most worrisome that there are reports of radiation level near Tokyo is increasing.

    "A group of Tokyo parents filed a request Tuesday asking the metropolitan government to change the way it determines radiation levels in the capital after their own study found relatively high levels of contamination around Koto Ward."
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110608a6.html [japantimes.co.jp]

    5.77 microsieverts per hour of radiation measured near Tokyo at ground level
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9a0Q1v93SA [youtube.com]
    • That adds up to about 50 milisieverts per year, just about the maximum you'd want to allow for a permanently inhabited area.
    • by sjames (1099)

      The 1.6 microsievert/hour level in Fukushima Prefecture is significant, but the 0.18 in Tokyo is nothing to be concerned about. It's interesting that they're concerned about 1 milisievert/year when the background level averages 2 (3 in the U.S.).

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @07:05PM (#36369210)
    There is ongoing self sustaining fission at Fukushima according to multiple sources: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/06/guest-post-are-nuclear-reactions-still-occurring-at-fukushima.html [nakedcapitalism.com]

    Today, Tetsuo Matsui at the University of Tokyo, says the limited data from Fukushima indicates that nuclear chain reactions must have reignited at Fuksuhima up to 12 days after the accident.

    As Time Magazine blogger Eben Harrell pointed out on March 30th:

    The IAEA has said that the Fukushima nuclear power plant may have achieved re-criticality. “There is no final assessment,” IAEA nuclear safety director Denis Flory said at a press conference on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg News. “This may happen locally and possibly increase the releases.”

    Arnie Gunderson says as of June 3rd:

    Unit 3 may not have melted through and that means that some of the fuel certainly is lying on the bottom, but it may not have melted through and some of the fuel may still look like fuel, although it is certainly brittle. And it’s possible that when the fuel is in that configuration that you can get a re-criticality. It’s also possible in any of the fuel pools, one, two, three, and four pools, that you could get a criticality, as well. So there’s been frequent enough high iodine indications to lead me to believe that either one of the four fuel pools or the Unit 3 reactor is in fact, every once in a while starting itself up and then it gets to a point where it gets so hot that it shuts itself down and it kind of cycles.

    Another recent post points out:

    Radiation levels in water inside the silt fence near reactor 2 are high and rising, despite large amounts of dilution. Continued very high levels of Iodine 131 with a half life of 8 days are very hard to explain for a reactor that has been “shut down”. Normally Iodine levels would drop several orders of magnitude below cesium activity levels over the sixty day period shown in the graph, but instead they continue to track each other. The level of 10,000 Bq/liter I-131 is very problematic. It is much higher than would be expected for a reactor in cold shut down for 2 1/2 months.

    The situation at Fukushima is not stable and in fact the danger is increasing. The stopgap cooling by injecting tons of water into the reactors and fuel rod storage is creating a massive burden of highly radioactive water that is a storage and disposal nightmare. There has been some limited success in providing recirculation cooling to the spent rod pool for unit 1, but that has a modest effect on the radioactive water situation.

    The plan to reduce radioactivity in existing water and recirculate it for cooling is still in process. It is not clear if the capacity of this system will be able to keep up with current cooling needs, much less deal with the backlog. If the reactors and fuel storage are generating new radioactive material, the cleanup system is even less likely to be adequate.

    If there is re-criticality the cleanup becomes that much harder. There is also the possibility of more fires/explosions because of radioactive decay heat sources. Continued earthquakes or typhoons could trigger other large release of radioactive material into the general environment.

    The plant is leaking highly radioactive water right now and this problem is being swept under the rug. There will be a permanent exclusion zone at the plant site. Even worse, the ocean region will have long lasting radiation contamination that will cripple the seafood industry for a large area of the Japanese coast. Things are a lot worse then anyone is willing to admit.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      Just to be clear, in a light water reactor, you need water between fuel rods to have fission. Neutrons have to be slowed down ("moderated") by interacting with the water molecules before they are of an energy that can effectively fission the U-235.

      A solid pool of melted LWR fuel cannot become critical.

      • by frank249 (100528)

        Just to be clear, in a light water reactor, you need water between fuel rods to have fission. Neutrons have to be slowed down ("moderated") by interacting with the water molecules before they are of an energy that can effectively fission the U-235.

        A solid pool of melted LWR fuel cannot become critical.

        While fission probability decreases as neutron energy (and speed) increases, it is not zero. Therefore it is not impossible for fast neutrons to cause fission, just much less likely. The melted fuel may be be

    • by sjames (1099)

      Sounds like it's past time to add boron to the cooling water.

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      Things are a lot worse then anyone is willing to admit.

      I think it has surpassed Chernobyl in terms of potential danger and is on a par in terms of actualised danger. The question is what the tipping point is to make Chernobyl the second worst reactor accident.

      The amount of expertise and trained personnel required to keep the reactors under control is not an endless tap. These people will eventually fatigue and continue to put there lives on the line for a management that were too incompetent to run a rea

  • According to this documentary [youtu.be], US officials wanted reactors built in such a way they could contain a full meltdown. GE and Westinghouse lobbied hard and got their way by adding more cooling backups instead.

    This means these reactors were built under the premise that a loss of cooling and therefore a full meltdown is "impossible", then Fukushima happened...

    So now we have 3 reactors with several tons of radioactive fuel melted at the bottom of their containment vessels. I believe the presence of Iodine indicat

    • by fnj (64210)

      What you want is a Pebble Bed reactor. "A pebble-bed reactor thus can have all of its supporting machinery fail, and the reactor will not crack, melt, explode or spew hazardous wastes. It simply goes up to a designed "idle" temperature, and stays there. In that state, the reactor vessel radiates heat, but the vessel and fuel spheres remain intact and undamaged. The machinery can be repaired or the fuel can be removed. These safety features were tested (and filmed) with the German AVR reactor. All the contr

      • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @08:54PM (#36370060)

        That German AVR reactor is also the most heabily beta-contaminated reactor site on the planet. And it contaminated both the soil and groundwater, and better yet in the form or radioactive dust.

        Melting down is not the only possible problem...

        • by fnj (64210)

          Hence the "other issues." But the contamination only occurs when you open up the closed system.

      • Pebble bed reactors are not as ideal as claimed, and Germany gave up on the program considering the array of problems [wikipedia.org]. Perhaps some may have solutions, but fundamentally, it is still a solid fueled reactor with the associated problems. Solid fueled reactors can not efficiently burn up the fuel due to structural damage, resulting in long-lived actinides, fission products, and unburned fuel to be disposed of, with no possibility of recycling or access to the valuable fission products. (Such as medical isot

      • by lennier (44736)

        "A pebble-bed reactor thus can have all of its supporting machinery fail, and the reactor will not crack, melt, explode or spew hazardous wastes. It simply goes up to a designed "idle" temperature, and stays there. In that state, the reactor vessel radiates heat, but the vessel and fuel spheres remain intact and undamaged.

        I dunno about that - this report [eskom.co.za] suggests that although the fuel might not melt, the fuel spheres can still be damaged by heat spikes during normal operation and should water leak in (like, from the primary steam circuit that you'd use to generate power), you might get a big oldschool Chernobyl-style graphite-steam reaction.

        Which would be kinda bad, wouldn't it? Especially since PBRs seem to be designed without gastight containment.

    • by sjames (1099)

      It is quite possible to contain a meltdown IF the floor of the containment is designed to spread and separate the molten fuel if the worst happens. That makes sure the fuel goes sub-critical. A bed of borax for the fuel to fall into wouldn't hurt either.

  • Compare and contrast:
    1. From the IAEA's preliminary report [iaea.org] (pdf):

    To date no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident.

    2. From Wikipedia's page on the 2011 tsunami [wikipedia.org]:

    The Japanese National Police Agency has confirmed 15,365 deaths, 5,363 injured, and 8,206 people missing

    Just sayin'.

    • by lennier (44736)

      Just sayin'.

      And do tsunami waves keep accumulating in crops and fish with a half-life of 30 years?

      Just sayin' too.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman

Working...