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5.85 TBq Strontium leaked over weekend at Fukushima

The Japan Times, the Wall Street Journal the New York Times [and Bloomberg, and Asahi] reported yesterday on a press release from TEPCO press release about a new leak from the water desalination/decontamination system at Fukushima Daiichi. The water is coming through a crack in the wall of a concrete machinery building, which workers have attempted to contain with sandbags. Asahi reported 130,000 Bq per cubic centimeter of strontium in the 45 metric tons of water, 1 million times the limit for this notorious beta-emitter most famous for causing bone cancers during the bad old days of atmospheric bomb testing.

The water filtration system installed by TEPCO and brought on line in July of this year does not remove strontium. It is designed to remove much of the cesium 134 and 137 in the grossly contaminated cooling water that has accumulated through attempts to cool three reactor cores melted through their reactor vessels following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety in France estimates that between March and mid-July at least 27.1 petabecquerels of cesium-137 had been released to the Pacific Ocean from the facility, making Daiichi's catastrophe the greatest ocean contamination event ever. A petabecquerel is a million billion becquerels. A host of other radioactive isotopes (like strontium, iodine, uranium, plutonium and other daughter products of nuclear fission and fuel) were also released to the ocean during those months, and to the atmosphere from explosions in March and constant steam production from the reactor containments and unshielded spent fuel pools.

TEPCO officials are of course still insisting the ocean will dilute away any possible dangers from this and all other isotopes, as they have insisted all along that whatever gets dumped into the ocean from their mass meltdowns cannot possibly be a problem for humanity. Experts all over the world have vehemently disagreed with the nuclear industry's insistence that "dilution is the solution to pollution," as radioactive isotopes from the ongoing catastrophe concentrate and work their way into and up through the ocean food chain. Even as airborne releases have spread widely over northern Japan to contaminate the food and fresh water supplies for humans and livestock.

Japan Times:

The water is believed to have high concentrations of strontium, which can cause bone cancer if ingested.


The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says about 45 tons of strontium-laced water may have leaked out of a water treatment device, with a portion of it spilling out of the facility.


The level of radioactive cesium had been reduced to 45 becquerels per cubic centimeter after the treatment. But the water is believed to have contained 130,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive strontium.


The water may have contained one million times as much strontium as the government limit, the Asahi newspaper reported today. Matsumoto said Tepco may take three weeks to analyze the strontium level in the water.

That last blockquote's last sentence is complete and utter bullshit, of course. As we all know by now, they have fine equipment on site or at Daiini that can assay water and/or air samples for isotopes and levels. But at least they mentioned strontium as the most abundant dangerous element in the treated water. Which is more than I can say for CNN in their short article,
Contaminated water found leaking at Japanese nuclear plant:

…The company said the sea water around the drain had a slightly higher level of a radioactive substance -- cesium 137 -- than usual. TEPCO said it is still working to see how much contaminated water may have reached the ocean.

Nowhere in any of the 6 paragraphs (one of those consisting of a single sentence) of CNN's coverage of this event is the word strontium found. Everybody's used to cesium by now, and were burnt out on iodine long before it decayed away to minimal during those "weeks" the country was "on edge" about the nuclear catastrophe. Thereby casting said catastrophe entirely in the past tense while at the same time lying about this leak by not even mentioning the dangerous isotope that is the reason it was reported at all.

Do read the comments, they're better than the article. CNN knows its audience almost as well as FauxNews does. Probably for the same reason. Every time someone mentions what's wrong with the story and alludes to the "melt-through" news we've all known about for weeks, one or more CNN groupies weigh in with "that can't be true because it wasn't reported." As in, if CNN doesn't report it, it didn't happen.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

P.S. You don't find out if strontium-90 is leaking into the ocean from this 'puddle' by testing the water for cesium (which is greatly diminished by the treatment process). You test for strontium. That means you open the beta shield on the probe - it's not difficult to do, and doesn't take weeks to accomplish.


Originally posted to Joieau on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 03:02 PM PST.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK.

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