Friday, August 30, 2013

Really, it has gone on long enough

Fukushima, that is. The damaged nuclear power plants in Japan that are contaminating the Pacific Ocean still to this day. 

The plant(s) suffered major damage on March 11, 2011. More than 2 years ago.

The operators  screwed up by the numbers after the quake and tsunami caused the (SCRAM) shutdown of the plant. Failure to provide for clean cooling water caused them to eventually have to use salt water to cool the spent fuel and the (now damaged) reactor core, damaging them further due to corrosion from the salt. Failure to set the emergency backup generators above the level of a potential tsunami when the pants were built caused the operators to have to scramble for other means to pump cooling water to the fuel and reactor core. Then they ran the fire truck they were using as a pump out of fuel. By the time they got fuel to the truck and found other methods of pumping cooling water, it was too late. They had a meltdown both in the spent fuel pools and in the reactor vessel, damaging the fuel rods and the reactor core and containment.

All of this happened more than 2 years ago.

Since that incident, a significant portion of that cooling water, now radioactive, has flowed into the sea. 24/7, the leaks have continued.

Now I was all for giving the Japanese time to fix their mess. The ocean is a big thing, and it can dilute a significant amount of that contaminated and highly radioactive water down to nearly nothing. After all, there are billions and billions and billions of gallons of Pacific Ocean to dilute that. Lots of water to absorb the mess...

But 75,000 gallons per day (by some reports) of radioactive water are flowing into the ocean..... Contaminating the sea for the 880+ days.

Isn't it time they did something to stop this? This isn't like Chernobyl, where the Russian government did have a release of radioactive material but then immediately took heroic steps to contain it and stop further contamination. Isn't it time the Japanese government took whatever steps are necessary to contain this continued outflow of contaminated water? I realize that this is a hazardous environment for people. But soon the sea will be as well.

880+ days. Thousands of gallons and many curies of radioactive materials into an environment we all share. An ocean which feeds millions of people. Like Pacific Salmon? Tuna? They will eventually become unsafe to eat. Not yet, but not too long in the future. King and Snow crab? Same thing.

Yeah, I know I sound like a refugee from the Green party in the late 1970's. Trust me, I'm not that kind of person. But really....How long will we let this go on? They are polluting the ocean with 30+ Three Mile Islands every week of radioactive water and substances (low estimates, who really knows? TEPCO ain't saying for sure...others say 10 times that). It's not the first few weeks that make me worry, it is the continuing weeks and years that become an issue.

The cleanup is being handled by the plant owner. TEPCO  They are obviously not "sparing no expense" to keep the contaminated water from spilling into the ocean. Yes, I know that this isn't something you clean up overnight. I got that. But there is nothing being done to stop the pollution. Nothing being done to fix the issue. In the first few weeks they used large tanks to contain the water, but have apparently abandoned that idea (too costly? cheaper to let it flow into the ocean....) They have apparently chosen to give up on containing the water, which is both radioactive and contaminated with radioactive materials....These are not only dangerous due to their radioactivity but are also chemically poisonous. A portion of our food supplies live and grow in that ocean that is being polluted.

I think it is time that we begin to put pressure on our federal government to force the Japanese government and TEPCO to change the situation. To CONTAIN this issue. To stop polluting. Stop taking the cheap and easy way out. Stop letting their mess flow into the ocean.

Seriously. Call or write your senators and congressmen. Ask them to do something.You can find your senators and congressmen by clicking the "contacting the congress" link at the top of the left side.

Enough is enough. This can be fixed soon (and could have been already), if someone cared and was willing to spend enough money on containment. At a certain point the cost to contain this mess becomes meaningless compared to the damage they are doing.


PioneerPreppy said...

This is the problem with nuclear energy and why I am against it. There is no way to control the waste that doesn't in the end require continued resource input for centuries.

In this case it is the water but the truth is that any given nuke plant can suffer a natural disaster with the same type of problem resulting. The plants themselves may have redundancy to hell and back but nature can make all of that moot.

og said...

All the information I see seems to show the radiation levels being way over reported. Japan is the size of Montana. You can hardly get a couple hundred miles away from anything in Japan, and if the levels they report were actually being generated, everyone on the island would already be dead.

Most Japanese are in more danger from radiation from eating bananas. This is overblown hype to convince people who are bad at math that "Nukes are dangerous, man!"

Nuclear power is the cleanest and safest thing going, period. ALL energy on this planet except geothermal originates from nuclear processes, and we all managed to make it this far.

B said...

Not true, Og. They are using the ocean as a dilutent. No real significant radiation at the area outside of the paant. But curies and curies added top the ocean every day.

Not overblown, really. Even TEPCO notes that it is significant.

And they aren't doing anything to stop it.

If they don't, the contamination will become significant in another year or two. The radiation down current is very measurable (like 20 X background). Not so much on land, but in the water.

og said...

OK. Keep on believing that.

I'm with you that they need to clean it up, but the actual facts are still overblown. I spend a lot of time working with the japanese. They have a history of dealing with radiation like nobody else in the world, and I expect that they know what they're doing. While we were handling isotopes in labs with remote manipulators they were excavating at ground zero in Hioroshima and Nagasaki.

The russians did not contain Chernopbyl, they have not gotten it contained yet. They poured hudreds of lives and god knows how much money into trying to encapsulate it and the sarcophagus is still falling apart. An earthquake in that region could unleash a shit storm, and combined with the right weather pattern could dump that shit all over the world.

Fukushima is bad, no question. It needs to be cleaned up properly, no question. And I'm sure that what can be done is being done- I have heard not one person giving any intelligent commentary on how to fix this. All I hear is envirowhackos whining about "I don't trust nuclear power". I trust nuclear power more than I trust envirowhackos. When Godzilla rises from the Sea of Japan and he's carrying a 200 foot Halliburton briefcase full of mutated four eyed fish, then I'll say, yeah, this is a problem. Five miles away from the plant the smoke alarms are emitting more radiation. The sea, being loaded with iodine, is the perfect place for the radiation to go, be absorbed, dissipated, and become a non issue.