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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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:39PM (#43381467)

    This did not happen. Nothing to see here.

    There are no problems with nuclear power. It is good and glorious.

    No one will ever be harmed by nuclear power. You can trust it. It is good.

    Sincerely, the Slashdot nuclear re-education committee

    • by IRWolfie- ( 1148617 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:50PM (#43381509)
      Despite your post, noone has died at Fukushima from radiation. Compare that to coal.
      • The deaths from Fukushima happened before the fuel even showed up at the plant [cdc.gov].
        • by beckett ( 27524 )
          And coal comes from a dust-free dispenser next to the tree of gumdrops on lollipop lane. oh wait it's also mined [sciencedirect.com].
          • If we agree that nuclear and coal both kill people and should be avoided, let us agree to pursue sources of energy that don't, like geothermal.
        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Not all of them. But that's not what you're talking about, is it.

          ALL sources of energy, and ALL construction leads to deaths. So does driving cars. The question is, what's a reasonable balance.

          It isn't clear to me that fission power is a net benefit. It may be, but all the governments cook the books and subsidize various energy provision methods in such varying degrees that I find it impossible to be sure. It *is* clear that the companies won't build and operate the plants without governments idemnifyi

      • Thank you for proving that you are a complete knuckledragger.
        Nuclear already triggered at least 2 non survivable contaminated zone onearth. And the mass casualties will only be seen in 10 to 20 years. (or at least mass thyroid cancer patients).

        Plus you are totally ignoring the several workers death by cardiac arrest of cleanup workers or the untraceable illness of the unproperly declared/registered/followed cleanup temp workers.

        • Sorry, but why would I be counting someone having a heart attack? Are you seriously contending that radiation causes heart attacks?
        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          You clearly don't mean what you say, or shouldn't, as cockroaches have been found eating the insulation inside working nuclear plants. And, IIRC, radiodurans has been found within the core of working reactors. (Not, of course, where the temperature was above the boiling point of water.)

          If you mean places that are officially too dangerous for people to reside there, yes, there are many. Within the reactors, e.g. If you mean the official exclusion zones, people have lived there for years. I don't know ho

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Sunday April 07, 2013 @05:27AM (#43383161) Homepage Journal

        Coal must be the most often used straw man ever. Coal is not the only other way of generating electricity. Japan in particular has vast geothermal resources, for example.

        Japan wanted nuclear because it made them look modern and technologically advances (everyone was at it in the 60s, which is also when they developed the world's first high speed train and launched their first satellite). They also wanted it because it means they could build a nuclear weapon in a few months if necessary, but don't actually need to become a nuclear sate with all the antagonism that would generate.

        Every nuclear plant in Japan went offline at once, and they coped. No blackouts during the summer. No collapse of the economy or return to an agrarian society. If anything is spurred demand for more efficient products as people wanted to do their bit to help. The US seems to assume that more watts = better life, where as Japan, like most places, assumes that less watts and less pollution through efficiency = better life. They have a lot of cool tech now like whole-house battery packs - wouldn't you love you have a whole house UPS powered by free energy from the sun?

        So despite pressure on politicians from energy companies and certain parts of industry to restart reactors it is unlikely that the majority will ever come back online due to public opposition and the rapid rise of renewable energy and more efficient devices. People also look at what has happened to the people who used to live near Fukushima and the farmers and fishermen who live in the wider area, and they don't want it to happen again in a country that has regular large earthquakes and occasional tsunami.

        • "wouldn't you love you have a whole house UPS powered by free energy from the sun?"

          I could have that now, and save thousands by fabbing some of it and installing all of it myself.

          It's not cost-effective for what I want, which is to be able to run my heat pump, appiances, power tools, welders and air compressors.

          If you want one and your needs are less, there are plenty of resources online. Have at it.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

            I don't think you understand the concept for a UPS. The idea is to keep essential stuff like your fridge running when the power goes out, so all your food isn't ruined. Maybe run the TV to watch the news, get some idea of when power will be back on too, or charge up your mobile phone.

        • Except that

          - they had to restart one nuclear power plant in the south because they had not enough electricity to keep factories running
          - east of japan is running every one of their old coal and their current LPG plants at maximum and imports billions yen worth of fossile fules every month

          Of course Japan didn't fall back to a pre-industrial civilization, but if there is nothing done, it will no longer be a big industrial nation because it is just not economical feasable to run industry in a country where the

    • Coal power disasters make for more interesting entertainment [wikipedia.org], anyways.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

      • by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @08:14PM (#43381597)
        Because its an easy target? Probably also because the relative panic over nuclear power rubs geeks the wrong way: "Those peasants are being anti science again. WHY won't they look at the math?!". If we want nuclear power to succeed, and it should, we need to look at the real problem - lack of regulation. The companies that run plants too often get away with cutting corners. The lack of trust with nuclear power stems directly from this lack of trust mixed with the potential severity of a mistake. If we work hard to solve both problems, to implement solutions that already exist, and publicize those success stories, we should see progress.
        • If we want nuclear power to succeed, and it should, we need to look at the real problem - lack of regulation.

          Bull shit. Fukushima Daiichi failed for two reasons. One, because it was built where it should not have been built (at the insistence of General Electric, and forced upon Japan by the US Gov't.) Two, being built where it should not have been built, it was then built without taking into account existing historical records concerning flooding and taking adequate measures to protect the system from flooding (e.g. a great wall-esque seawall, offsite backup power or at least elevated generators, et cetera.) Both

          • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @04:57AM (#43383073) Homepage Journal

            No amount of regulation would fix the problems with Fukushima Daiichi

            No, but it would've stopped it being built there in the first place without the proper protections against tsunamis.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

              There is actually some serious doubt over whether you can build a nuclear plant that could survive a magnitude 9 quake and tsunami if it happened near by. By the time the quake reached Fukushima it had dissipated much of its energy, but it still damaged the plant's cooling system and quite possibly caused this leaking as well.

              Nuclear plants in Japan are designed to survive a magnitude 7.5 quake, based on the assumption that most of the force will be lateral. Since the scale is logarithmic the difference bet

            • by HiThere ( 15173 )

              I think his poiint was that regulation CAUSED it to be built where and how it was. Regulation can't solve the problem when the regulators ARE the problem.

              That said, the US has many such plants that weren't imposed on it by regulators, but which are kept running despite regulations because the operating entities have more political pull than do the regulators (or at least the technologists of the regulatory agency). So again, regulations aren't the answer, though if they were properly enforced they would b

          • Your cit the very reasons regulation would help. There should have been a law making sure nuclear reactors are never built in dangerous locations, and a law requiring that they take at least adequate measures (if not exceptional) to ensure the system is protected from a variety of threats. Those two laws would have done a lot of good. Just because a given government takes the wrong action, doesn't mean all government is evil. That is a fallacy.
        • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          Because its an easy target? Probably also because the relative panic over nuclear power rubs geeks the wrong way: "Those peasants are being anti science again. WHY won't they look at the math?!".

          I don't think that is very fair. I'm a geek and I've been explaining the dangers of Nuclear power from an engineering and science perspective for many years now.

          I understand the dogmatic type of person you are talking about but I think it has more to do with social proof and the beliefs a person holds about Nuclear Power than being a geek. It's pretty easy to get lulled into complacency by the nuclear industries propaganda and the long term nature of the industry.

          There are a lot of aspects to the issues

      • I'll pretend that's not a rhetorical question.

        Because a typical coal plant causes more dollars in health problems, and puts more radioactive material into the environment, than a typical nuclear plant. And then there's the carbon dioxide.

      • 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 an

  • 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.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      The UK has similar problems with radioactive waste and contaminated water stored in open pools where the birds can get at them and leaking into the ground. It seems like once all the profit has been made the power companies running nuclear sites suddenly lose interest and aren't even willing to spend money building reliable storage.

      Fukushima's leak is unforgivable since such forces should have been accounted for in the design (which was only rated for magnitude 7.5 quakes). There have been questions ask abo

    • Such is our bane for helping stop the japs.

      Nah, such is our bane for divorcing science from policy. There are people who want to buy up that 'waste' that endangers you and your family and 'burn' it as fuel in more advanced reactors, eliminating 97% of the waste and converting that highly-radioactive 300,000 year waste into minimally-radioactive 600-year waste in the process.

      Their efforts have been (and are being) thwarted by the same people who want to tax and regulate the carbon economy.

  • And so what? Before we can evaluate how bad this is, we need to know how bad the radioactivity is. Are we talking "enough to kill everybody" or "enough to detect"? Given that this is water that has already been cleaned, I suspect the latter. The only radionuclide they couldn't get out is tritium, and that at a relatively low concentration. Until there are actual numbers, I won't get excited.
    And when you read "highly contaminated water", remember that bananas [forbes.com] are too radioactive to meet Japanese food
  • Cost cutting, and imperfect solutions.As well as other things that happen in The Real World to fallible human beings.

    Why everyone on slashdot defends to death nuclear power is beyond my understanding. The waste lasts for tens to HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of years. You cannot possibly ensure anythings containment on that time scale.

    We have a molten planet full of heat, a source a few tens of km away from every person. We have a fusion reactor wirelessly sending power to the planet. People need to figure out that

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Why everyone on slashdot defends to death nuclear power is beyond my understanding. The waste lasts for tens to HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of years.

      Who cares?

      I mean, seriously: you're worried that someone might get cancer hundreds of thousands of years in the future?

      You really think that's something worth worrying about?

      In even a single thousand years, our descendants will be living in space or in caves, depending on whether or not we listen to the doomsayers. Worrying about nuclear waste thousands of years in the future is just insane.

      • by Omestes ( 471991 )

        Yeah, not worrying about the future has brought us all sorts of good things historically...

        Or not.

    • by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas&dsminc-corp,com> on Saturday April 06, 2013 @10:35PM (#43382153) Homepage

      The issue is that were treating stuff as ubber scary that's far less dangerous that what goes up coal plants smoke stacks. Things less radioactive than coal get treated as major problems that we have to contain forever we might as well just throw the stuff into the furnace.

      Spent fuel rods are the major highly radioactive bit and those should be reprocessed to make more fuel rods. We don't because that reprocessing is also a good way to get weapon grade bits. Pretty much anything that's radioactive enough to need to be contained over huge periods is radioactive enough to run a reactor. Other bits are non issues.

    • The waste lasts for tens to HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of years.

      A pretty standard "nuclear is scary" misleading and incorrect piece of truthiness. Most of the activity is gone after just a century. Its still not all that good for you in the same way lead is not good for you. But its not in the same league it was at the start.

      Guess how long you have to wait for DDT or asbestos to become safe? Its over a few HUNDREDS of TRILLIONS of years. Along with many other very toxic and very poisons chemicals that we do in fact spill and contaminate local areas with all too frequ

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @10:32PM (#43382139)
    A recently caught fish (April 7th) was found with very high levels of radiation.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2265732/Mike-Murasoi-fish-contaminated-radiation-Fukushima-nuclear-disaster-2-500-times-legal-limit.html [dailymail.co.uk]

    It was confirmed by Tepco to have amounts of radioactive cesium equal to 254,000 becquerels per kilogram, or 2540 times the limit of 100 becquerels/kg set for seafood by the government.


    On 21 August last year, Tepco announced that rockfish caught in the Pacific Ocean within the circular area of 20 km around the plant, which is closed to all human activity, had a level of 25,800 becquerels of cesium per kilogram .

    It's painfully obvious that this is caused by ongoing leakage of radioactive water from the plant. In contrast, there has be a reduction in radiatons levels on land http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201303120107 [asahi.com]. It's unlikely that biological concentration in the food chain is the primary cause after two years of radiation decay and sea water dilution.

    If you don't trust the Japanese government, this would explain why they are prohibiting non-government organizations from sampling the ocean near the plant location. They say it's still too dangerous.

    The motivation for a coverup is that ongoing radioactive ocean contamination would be a huge international incident. China, Korea, Taiwan, Viet Nam, Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines would all protest. There would be reputational repercussions, diplomatic turmoil and possibly economic sanctions. There is still a lot of hostility in the region from WW2, and this would be just the issue to reopen those wounds. Not to mention current rivalry over ocean areas that have China, Tiawan and Japan sending naval vessels to tiny islands with disputed ownership.

  • by ivi ( 126837 ) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @01:36AM (#43382683)

    Whenever I see a new article on the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster,
    I am reminded of the ADVANTAGES (better cost, safety, waste, political
    implications, etc.) of Liquid Fluoride THORIUM Reactors (a.k.a. LFTR's,
    already being developed around the world (in various phases of R&D, eg,
    in China, India, Taiwan, & [privately] USA).

    More people need to know about the opportunities of this -safer- green-
    energy source, so they can decide for themselves whether it's time to
    -push- for regulatory changes, that will -ease- the transition to Thorium,
    in our time.

    Introduction: Kirk Sorensen's recent TED-talk

    More details: (search YouTube.com for
                                                "Thorium remix"
                                            and take your pick)

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday April 07, 2013 @05:10AM (#43383111)

      Whenever I see a new article on the aftermath of a 40 year old plant disaster, I am reminded of the ADVANTAGES of pretty much every modern reactor design.

      This is much the same as when I look at cars which didn't have seatbelts, crumple zones. Imagine if we outright banned them rather than investing serious research into making it safe. LFTR is one solution. I like the idea of the design and using thorium for fuel in general, but it is far from the only safe solution. There are several passively safe reactor designs out there from the Westinghouse AP1000 (which is basically old school with passive safety systems added) to molten sold reactors which basically are like your LFTR expect without the thorium.

      Thorium is just a fuel. Sure it's a safer one, but the principles of passive and inherent safety can be designed onto many other systems too, and a modern reactor doesn't generate anywhere near the waste of their ancient brethren.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Cars are actually a pretty good comparison to make. We do everything we reasonably can but mistakes and outright stupidity still cause accidents. There are alternatives that are much safer (mass transport) but funding is an issue, not least because auto manufacturers have a powerful lobbying arm.

        In the long run we are trying to get away from humans driving at all, to the much safer alternative of self driving cars. Turns out no matter how good the technology human beings will always be the weak link. Public

      • citations?
        If Thorium is so great, where are these "flying car" power plants?

        • Sorry what? How did you get from thorium to flying cars, and if you want citations just type any of the above model reactors into wikipedia and follow the citation trail, or just google passive nuclear safety and pick any link on the first page.

          This isn't secret classified stuff.

    • When solar was more expensive than nuclear there was a reason you would go for nuclear, but now solar has an advantage in most latitudes. Yes, it requires a large area for production, but it can just go over existing structures etc.

      Offtopic but: why complain about the Chinese subsidies that make non-Chinese panels uncompetitive? Just BUY those cheap Chinese panels and have cheap power!

      • Renewable energies of this sort also require expensive energy storage like pumped storage hydroelectricity
        • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

          I'm not sure why you would say this. It is true that you could not have a power network with ONLY solar power without any sort of energy storage, however the big advantage of solar power is that the production is high when it is required - i.e. during the day. So power companies can take advantage of that and increase their output during peak hours using solar PV energy.

    • The problem is that all the research reactors have had major issues and are still tens of billions of dollars away from being commercially viable. Even then people will want to see one running for at least a decade before investing heavily in new thorium plants because they will worry about unforeseen costs. In the mean time everyone will just take the safe bet and build the same old stuff they have been building for decades.

      Things do not move quickly in the nuclear industry, especially when huge amounts of risk are involved. Remember that they will have to convince the government to subsidize and insure the plant as well, adding years to the process.

      In the mean time renewables will rocket ahead, and now we have the somewhat risky (from an investment point of view, not safety) but still orders of magnitude better than nuclear shale gas. Even coal is cleaning up, unfortunately. Honestly, I think we will see commercial fusion before we see widescale deployment of thorium reactors.

    • There is this false belief that LFTR is some magical totally safe fixes all things wrong with nuclear.

      This is quite false.

      Lets start with the basics. 232Th is fertile and is not a fuel. It absorbs a neutron to become 233Pa which, appart from being a neutron poison, decays after about 26 days into 233U which is the fuel in a Thorium fuel cycle. So now if we compare with a U fuel cycle we can only do so with a reprocessing fuel cycle, not as is often done with a once through cycle which Th can't even d
  • Maybe it's crazy, but would it be possible to inject something into the water to turn it into a solid or pseudo solid? Whether jello-like, plastic, or glue, something that keeps the water from leaving the containers and/or getting into the groundwater.

    First thoughts that come to mind would be substances that solidify with time after having a chance to permeate or a combination of substances, one which permeates and the other which acts as a catalyst for solidifying.

    Sure, you might need a lot of it, but it'

  • I assume the weight issue makes using water or similar liquids impractical for a radiation suit? If 7cm of water cuts radiation by half, it seems to me, you could make a pretty effective radiation suit that way? Sure, it would be harder to move around, but better than taking a higher dose? Or I suppose they would rather people just work fast and get in and out quickly?

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry