Japanese government forced to take over Fukushima nuclear crisis

This is not the type of “crisis” or “leak” that ends quickly even with the Japanese government now taking over from TEPCO: radioactive water has been seeping into groundwater and the Pacific Ocean for two years, many of those tanks holding radioactive water, built with rubber seams only meant to last five years, are leaking, and the containment wall next to the ocean is making groundwater rise behind it, spreading into the aquifer and spilling over it into the ocean, with every tuna caught off California bearing radioactive signatures from Fukushima. The radioactive uranium cores are somewhere in or under their containment buildings, with no known way to extract them, still requiring cooling water poured over them for some unknown number of years, and continuing to be radioactive for thousands of years. Remember, the Fukushima reactors are the same GE Mark I model as Plant Hatch on the Altamaha River. Why are we building more nuclear reactors in Georgia when ten U.S. nukes have been cancelled or will never be built in the past year? Google already installed on time and on budget almost as much solar and wind as both new Plant Vogtle nukes would produce and for less than what has already been spent on them, plus solar panels and wind farms don’t leak radioactivity.

Photograph by Kyodo/Reuters

Latest Radioactive Leak at Fukushima: How Is It Different? by Patrick J. Kiger for National Geographic 21 August 2013,

The water from the leaking tank is so heavily contaminated with strontium-90, cesium-137, and other radioactive substances that a person standing less than two feet away would receive, in an hour’s time, a radiation dose equivalent to five times the acceptable exposure for nuclear workers, Reuters reported. Within ten hours, the exposed person would develop radiation sickness, with symptoms such as nausea and a drop in white blood cells.

Mari Yamaguchi wrote for AP 28 August 2013, Fukushima Leak Upgraded To Level 3 Severity,

In a meeting with agency officials and experts Tuesday night, TEPCO said radioactivity near the leaky tank and exposure levels among patrolling staff started to increase in early July. There is no sign that anyone tried to find the source of that radioactivity before the leak was discovered.

On Wednesday, regulatory officials said TEPCO has repeatedly ignored their instructions to improve their patrolling procedures to reduce the risk of overlooking leakages. They said TEPCO lacked expertise and also underestimated potential impact of the leak because underground water is shallower around the tank than the company initially told regulators.

“Their instructions, written or verbal, have never been observed,” Toyoshi Fuketa, a regulatory commissioner, said at the agency’s weekly meeting Wednesday.

Asahi Shimbun 30 August 2013 Government under fire for slow response to Fukushima leak,

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been forced to vow to take all-out efforts to contain the Fukushima nuclear crisis as his administration is roundly criticized for its tepid response to the recent leak of 300 tons of highly radioactive water.

“It should not be left entirely in the hands of Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deal with the accident,” Abe said in Qatar on Aug. 28, citing the plant’s operator. “The government should face up to the situation with a sense of urgency, including the problem of radioactive water.”

The government has come under fire from overseas media organizations, ruling party politicians and fishermen worried about radioactive water contaminating the ocean.

In a meeting at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headquarters on Aug. 29, party lawmaker Yasuhisa Shiozaki lashed out at the Abe administration’s “lack of a sense of crisis,” singling out Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

“The issue of radioactive water is increasingly seen as an international problem, and lawsuits may be filed overseas,” said Shiozaki, acting chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council and a former chief Cabinet secretary.

Shiozaki’s anger can be seen as the first explicit criticism of the government from the ruling party since the LDP returned to power in December.

Later in the day, Suga received a visit from Hiroshi Kishi, head of the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, and Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, at the prime minister’s office.

“We must say that TEPCO’s system of handling radioactive water has broken down,” Kishi said. “We want the government to take the initiative in dealing with the situation immediately.”

South Koreans are also worried about the contamination of seawater.

In a statement released on Aug. 26, an environmental protection group based in Seoul called for an outright ban on seafood imports from Japan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA proposes to raise acceptable radiation limits. The comment period is still open on that until 16 September 2013.