Fukushima: Strontium levels up to 240 times over legal limit near plantEthan A. Huff
June 21, 2011
Representing the first time the substance has been detected at the crippled plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported on Sunday that seawater and groundwater samples taken near the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan have tested positive for radioactive strontium. And according to a recent report in The Japan Times, levels of strontium detected were up to 240 times over the legal limit, indicating a serious environmental and health threat.
Radioactive strontium, which is known to accumulate in bones and eventually lead to diseases like cancer and leukemia, is one of at least three “hot particles” being continually released by the damaged plant, according to experts. The others include radioactive cesium and plutonium, both of which are implicated in causing birth defects, cancer, and death.
“We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo,” said Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president with 39 years of nuclear engineering experience, to Al Jazeera. “Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters.”
TEPCO has allegedly installed a new water decontamination system that it claims will eventually help filter dangerous radioactive isotopes from polluted water, and thus limit environmental and human exposure to the poisons. But that system has already run into several problems as flow rates have been lower than intended.
“Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” added Gundersen. “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”
Al Jazeera also reports that a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government recently explained that roughly 966 square kilometers (km), or 600 square miles, around Fukushima are now uninhabitable due to the unfolding disaster. This massive dead zone area is the equivalent size of 17 Manhattans placed next to each other.
Sources for this story include:
Nuclear Power Spent Rod Storage Worries World Wide Dilemma NO NEW NUKE PLANTS ANYTIME SOON (3 Parts)
Japan Admits 3 Nuclear Meltdowns, More Radiation Leaked into Sea; U.S. Nuclear Waste Poses Deadly Risks.
Former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. His new report is called “Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the US: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage.”
Almost three months after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan, new radiation “hot spots” may require the evacuation of more areas further from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency recently admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant’s reactors, and more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. “What they failed to mention is that they discharged an equally large amount into the ocean,” says our guest Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. “As [the radiation] goes up the food chain, it accumulates. By the time it reaches people who consume this food, the levels are higher than they originally were when they entered the environment.” Alvarez also discusses his new report on the vulnerabilities and hazards of stored spent fuel at U.S. reactors in the United States. Then we go to Tokyo to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action. She says citizens leading their own monitoring efforts are calling for additional evacuations, especially for young children and pregnant women.
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