Fukushima’s Lingering Water Issue

October 23, 2019

The accident is still ongoing.

Media takeaway is generally about the “Should they release the water with minor Tritium contamination” story.

Real story is the economics of continued need to isolate and process water that keeps the still hot fuel from melting.  This is a long term commitment – remains t be seen if existing corporations or institutions are up to the task of such a long haul.

Cleanup will take decades, if not centuries.


7 Responses to “Fukushima’s Lingering Water Issue”

  1. stephengn1 Says:

    And cost billions, if not hundreds of billions

  2. jfon Says:

    It’s pretty rich for the Japanese fishing industry to be claiming to be protectors of the environment – trawling wrecks the sea floor indiscriminately, and blue fin tuna are only one of the species they seem intent on exterminating. I stopped eating fish a few years ago – besides the carbon footprint of fishing, it’s a threat to the survival of critically endangered Hector’s dolphins and threatened yellow-eyed penguins off the coast here in New Zealand. Yet you can often sea the lights of Asian fishing fleets just off the coast, hoovering up squid and whatever else is around. A good radiation scare would maybe give the sea some breathing space.
    It certainly wouldn’t threaten the fish. Tritium emits beta radiation – an electron – at an energy of .018 million electron volts. This is nearly thirty times lower than the beta given off by Cesium 137 – which is also not detectable in the ocean off Fukushima any more (cesium also causes a gamma ray of about the same energy again, a minute or so later, from its daughter product barium.) For comparison, Polonium 210, the radioisotope used to kill former Russian spy Alexei Litvinienko, gives off an alpha particle at 5.3 MeV, eight thousand times more massive and three hundred times more energetic than tritium’s beta. The Pacific is a huge ocean, tritium’s biological half-life in mammals is only a week or so, in fish about two days, and the radioactive half life is twelve years.
    If the Japanese fishing industry cared as much about their customers’ health as they do about their own bottom line, they wouldn’t have moved to exempt fish like tuna from any restrictions on mercury levels. Mercury levels have been rising, because it is a contaminant of coal smoke, and coal use soared after the Japanese nuclear electricity production was cut from 30% of their power, before the Tohoku earthquake, to about 3 %.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      Shall highlight the extra crap from the extra coal burned. Anybody think that it is a positive?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        The mercury is especially concerning—how many are old enough to remember the Dancing Cats of Minimata? I eat a lot less fish than I used to.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          PS As jfon points out, the tritium is hardly worth worrying about. If that’s all that’s in the stored eater, release it.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Burning coal puts otherwise stored radioactive elements in a convenient, easy-to-breathe format.

  3. grindupbaker Says:

    An instance of the underlying issue that you all know, attempts to be 100% safe (and live for ever) will inexorably damage the ecosphere and make the health of species worse. It’s a specific form of entropy. Social-science trumps physical science (or perhaps it Trumps it ?).

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