No, Virginia. It's Not Over Yet...
The Tokyo Electric and Power Company, a.k.a. TEPCO, has announced that they estimate some 1.1 trillion becquerels of radioactive contamination were released during a 4-hour period on August 19, 2013 during debris cleanup at the #3 reactor plant. Now, we who pay attention to all things Fuku have known for a long time that TEPCO is not particularly trustworthy in its "estimations" of either contamination levels or releases, so take that for what you will.
#3 is the reactor burning MOX plutonium fuel, which blew up so spectacularly on March 14, 2011, three days after the earthquake caused a power outage in the northeastern Japan region. TEPCO left it pretty much alone for two and a half years, as the levels of contamination in the wreckage were - and still are - too high for humans. Debris removal was begun at unit 3 in August of last year (2013), using primarily robots and remote control heavy equipment.
Cesium contamination of areas well outside the no-go zone has led to a new NRA inquiry, and the 1.1 trillion bq. figure was given by TEPCO in that inquiry. Their estimate for a total 4 hour release on August 19, 2013. TEPCO further admits that over the next 12.5 years, the facility will continue to release an estimated (again by TEPCO) 10 million bequerels per hour. Which is less when all totalled than this "extra" contamination from the unit 3 debris removal. Which is continuing. One may wonder when TEPCO and the Japanese government will put all this together to finally set to rest the idiotic notion that Fukushima's three meltdowns, 2 spent fuel pool fires and 4 exploded reactor buildings were somehow LESS of a nuclear disaster than Chernobyl.
Let me put those numbers into context for readers who aren't that familiar with exponentials. There are 8,736 hours in a year [24 times 7 times 52], 109,200 hours in a period of 12.5 years. Not messing with leap/non-leap years and/or tweaks here and there. Times 10 million. Or, if we drop the 9,200 and just go with the 1, that is a trillion becquerels. That's a whole heckuva lot of anything, and radiation is a definite health hazard.
This huge release was airborne, not the constant release to the Pacific Ocean from groundwater flow underneath the reactor plants. The debris removal at unit 3 (and the other destroyed reactor plants) is and will long be ongoing. Water contamination is certainly bad for organic life forms that live in the sea, but it's atmospheric contamination that presents the biggest hazard to land-dwelling human beings.
Which helps explain why Japanese doctors and epidemiologists have been calling for expanded health exams for people outside the exclusion zone and as far away as Tokyo. The Japanese government, of course, subscribes to the notion that smiling people are not harmed by radiation, so no one really needs to stress out about it.
Just an update on the ever after nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and a reminder to those following to keep their guard up - it's not over yet.