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Tepco’s Claim Radiation Leaks Confined to Coast Called ‘Silly’
[snip] Mainstream on Fukushima
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (9501) claim that radioactive water leaking into the sea from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant is confined to the coast doesn’t make scientific sense, according to a U.S. researcher who surveyed waters off the site last month.
Japan’s government has supported the utility’s statement that the irradiated groundwater flowing into the Pacific Ocean at a rate of some 400 tons a day remains in an area of 0.3 square kilometers (0.12 square miles) within the bay fronting the atomic station.
“These statements like a 0.3 square-kilometer zone are silly,” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler said in an interview. “It’s not true to the science,” said Buesseler, who was on a Japanese research vessel 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) off Fukushima from Sept. 8 to Sept. 14.
The growing stockpile of radioactive water stored in tanks at the plant and leaks from the tanks into the sea is an increasing threat to ocean ecosystems, said Buesseler, who holds a joint Ph.D in marine chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole. Founded in 1930, Woods Hole is the world’s largest private non-profit oceanographic research institution, according to its website.
The Fukushima atomic station has more than 1,000 tanks holding more than 380,000 tons of water irradiated from contact with melted reactor fuel. Three hundred tanks are of a bolted variety, at least one of which leaked about 300 tons of water. Additional contaminated groundwater has been seeping into the Pacific Ocean and one of the tanks overflowed last week.
Each tank contains about 10 terabequerels, or 270 curies, of strontium-90, a radioactive element linked to leukemia that can enter the food chain by depositing into the bones of fish, Buesseler said. That is 100 times the amount of radioactivity dumped by Russia into the Sea of Japan in a 1993 incident that prompted international rules against ocean disposal.
“If only 10 of those tanks leaked it would equal all the strontium released in 2011” after the earthquake and tsunami, Buesseler said. “Once strontium gets into fish, it stays in them for months and years and it’s going to be an additional reason why they won’t be able to open up their fisheries.”
“One hundred kilometers away I can measure isotopes of cesium that are coming from the reactor” in Fukushima, Buesseler said. “They’re not at dangerous levels. The scientific question is are they at levels high enough to accumulate in the food chain and a cause for some of the fish to be above the legal limit.”