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Leak Found In Fukushima Tank Holding Radioactive Water 189

The fallout from tsunami damage at Japan's Fukushima plant isn't over yet. New submitter OldJuke writes "Tokyo Electric power Co. said about 120 tons of the water are believed to have breached [a water storage tank's] inner linings, some of it possibly leaking into the soil. TEPCO is moving the water to a nearby tank at the Fukushima Dai-chi plant — a process that could take several days ...More than 270,000 tons of highly radioactive water is already stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks and another underground tank. They are visible even at the plant's entrance and built around the compound, taking up more than 80 percent of its storage capacity. TEPCO expects the amount to double over three years and plans to build hundreds of more tanks by mid-2015 to meet the demand."
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Leak Found In Fukushima Tank Holding Radioactive Water

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  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:31PM (#43381435) Journal

    It sounds nice but what tends to happen is it settle to floor, get picked up by pants and tiny creatures concentrating it again, the eaten by fewer bigger creatures concentrating it more, and finally poisioning us we we go to eat fish.

    Yes if you had some way to spread it over a very very large area of sea it would be fine probably, but you'd likely need to move it out to deep water with container ships, and then you'd have to do something with the contaminated ships. I suppose you might just scuttle them. Anyway just dump it in the ocean sounds simple but doing right ( if there is a right way ) is risky and expensive.

  • Bah! Little league. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @08:05PM (#43381569) Homepage Journal

    Hanford Washington USA
    April 02, 2013

    "A nuclear safety board has warned a key U.S. senator that underground tanks holding radioactive
    waste at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site pose a possible risk of explosion."
    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/04/nuclear_safety_board_warns_of.html [oregonlive.com]

    I as everybody else in this area are "down winders". A tank blows we will certainly know about it.
    These tanks have some of the most radioactive materials "contained"; the left overs of
    30 some years of Plutonium production.

    A lot of work has been done to the tanks to stop the leaks that have "flowed" for many years.
    The leaks are now... well one can't say as everyday it's different; tomorrow they may well be gone.

    I'm sure if they could, they would have by now so not sweating it myself.

    Such is our bane for helping stop the japs.

  • Re:Distillation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday April 06, 2013 @09:00PM (#43381783) Journal

    You're talking about Hanford [wikipedia.org]. Approximately one third of Hanford's waste storage tanks are known to have been or be leaking into the groundwater, having contaminated approximately 270 billion gallons or one billion cubic meters of aquifers. This contaminated groundwater is expected to reach the Columbia river in 7 to 45 years, and start contaminating everything along the river from Eastern Washington to Portland and the Pacific ocean shortly thereafter. The loss of real estate values along that river is a very real concern. Waterfront property is normally very valuable. Waterfront property on a radioactive river, less so.

    Currently there is no practical plan to deal with this situation nor adequate budget to even stop it from getting worse. It is likely impossible to prevent this radioactive waste from reaching the Pacific. The Columbia river [wikipedia.org] is quite a considerable river, 4th largest in the US by volume and the largest draining into the Pacific. Though Hanford is the most highly contaminated nuclear site in the US - containing approximately 2/3rds of all US high-level waste, it still retains an operating nuclear power generating station [wikipedia.org] to this day. It uses a newer version of the type of reactor used at Fukushima, a General Electric Type 5 Boiling Water Reactor.

    Over $30 billions (pdf) [oregon.gov] have been spent cleaning up Hanford already. 20 years into the initial 30 year plan only minor progress has been made. The vitrification plant, for example, is not expected to complete vitrification operations for another 34 years from now - and that may be optimistic, meaning we are further from the end now than when the work was begun. The estimate for the cost of the remaining cleanup is $112 billion [tri-cityherald.com] and is, given the nature of such things, likely to be at least three times even that.

    Although the so-far estimated cost of $145 billion is very high it is important to remember than Hanford was a critical part of the Manhattan Project, essential for developing the technology and materials that made the US the first nuclear weapon capable global power at a critical cusp of international relations. The cost of not doing that might have been much higher than cleaning up or living with this mess will be.

    Cleaning up Fukushima will cost far more than cleaning up Hanford. Cleaning up Chernobyl [wikipedia.org] will also be more costly, to the extent cleanup is possible at all. If you add up the cleanup costs of all three and the off-book costs of getting rid of the current stock of spent nuclear fuels you could probably outfit the entire world with alternative electrical energy solutions like geothermal, wind and solar for less. On this scale a manned Mars colony would be a trivial side project. Of more concern might be that cleaning up these messes entirely is quite simply not possible, even given the full weight of the national economies involved. It cannot be done. We have developed the power to create problems we cannot cure no matter how hard we try.

  • Re:Distillation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday April 06, 2013 @09:43PM (#43381961) Journal

    This is completely off-topic and I expect it to be moderated that way and that's OK.

    The costs of combating the ideas of Fascism, Global communism (or what was presented as such), Japanese imperialism, militarized Islam and other such notions offensive to personal liberty so *far* outweigh the costs in lives and treasure of these accidental excursions into nuclear physics as to be on an entirely different scale. It seems the pen is still mightier than the sword even when the sword is a MIRV [wikipedia.org].

    What strange fools these mortals be.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday April 06, 2013 @10:23PM (#43382105) Journal

    Why, whenever anyone says anything the slightest bit negative about nuclear power here on Slashdot, does someone come and start whining about coal?

    Coal is traditional and cheap. Coal-fired plants have the least startup cost and the quickest time to operation. Nuclear proponents need to sell their advantages over coal. They have a point - to a point - but like all admen they are blinded by the money.

    If the entire US converted to nuclear power electricity generation (beyond the huge share we get from hydroelectric) that would not slow down US coal mining, natural gas or oil production a whit. The coal would be shipped overland by trains, the gas and oil through pipelines to ports where they would be shipped overseas to be used to power developing economies and contribute even more to greenhouse gas production in places where emission standards are more lax. The net result would be even more growth of greenhouse gas emissions than present. The carcinogens would still come into the air - even more so than they are now. We would still breathe the air contaminated by these plants. Our coal miners would still die in scary numbers. But the source of these problems would be overseas, and beyond the reach of domestic policy. It's a NIMBY thing.

    If US nuclear power advances to the point where it can drive more efficient extraction of fossil fuels it will be used to do so, stripping the land of them even more quickly than at present - because these resources have value and the companies that do this have obligations to their shareholders.

    Think about bunker fuel [wikipedia.org]. This is the sulfur-rich tar left over from converting oil to gasoline so viscous it must be heated before it is used. Instead of being used in US power plants it powers the ships that move stuff over the oceans just outside the reach of US regulation. Just because US regulations don't allow it to be burned here doesn't mean that it doesn't get burned, and the waste gasses waft over our shores. It has energy in it. Do you think anybody is just going to throw that away? By exporting the problem beyond our international boundaries we can absolve ourselves of guilt for it without actually contributing to a solution to the problem.

    There is no fission solution to this problem. You're not going to get fission-powered superfreighters any time soon, and if you did they would be used to carry our local fossil fuels more efficiently to places they could be burned less and less optimally.

  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n k.net> on Sunday April 07, 2013 @03:27PM (#43385487)

    That's not totally clear. A strong immune system can often kill off a cancer before it becomes a problem. Usually before it's detected. (Admittedly, not always. Sometimes it's a cance of the immune system. Or of an area that the immune system can't reach.)

    So, yes, some of it's chance. Some of it's your genetic history (epigenetic as well as inherent). Some of it's diet. Perhaps some of it's exercise...though I'm not clear whether exercise creates or prevents it, or perhaps both.

    Note that the dose of radiation that gives one person cancer will leave another unaffected. This is a combination of lottery and everything else. It's not pure lottery. But it's also not pure everything else.

    What you CAN say is that if you expose a population to a certain level of radiation, then number of cancers will increase by a certain amount. There are large error bars except at the extreme ends, and possibly there, but it's still a reasonably defensible statement. (N.B.: *I* couldn't make that statement, as I can't quantify any of this. But I assert that there are those who reasonably can make that statement, though they *ought* to be more explicit about the error bars than I ever hear them being.)

panic: kernel trap (ignored)