Published on September 6th, 2013 | by James Ayre


Radiation Level Spikes At Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster Site

September 6th, 2013 by  

The slow death-march of the Fukushima nuclear disaster continues onwards — new reports have revealed that radiation levels over eighteen times higher than any previously reported at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant were recently registered at one of the plant’s water storage tanks. The extremely high radiation levels have once again brought the Fukushima disaster to the public’s attention, but as you can no doubt guess, regardless of whether the disaster is in the news or not, the situation is not improving, and the prospect of getting the disaster under control anytime soon is looking more and more impossible.

The nuclear power plant’s operator — Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) — reported that radiation levels were so high near the bottom of the tank — measured at 1,800 millisieverts an hour — that if a human was exposed to them that they would be dead within four hours. And it should go without saying that shorter exposure times, while perhaps not fatal, would certainly have their consequences.

Image Credit: Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant via Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant via Wikimedia Commons

According to TEPCO (this should be taken with a grain of salt), water levels inside the tank haven’t changed, and, as far as they can tell, there is no leak. But if there’s no leak, then why is there a spot of extremely high radioactivity right outside of the tank that’s filled with highly radioactive water…

Business Green has more:

Last month Tepco said another storage tank – of the same design as the container causing concern at the weekend – had leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water, possibly into the sea. Japan’s nuclear watchdog confirmed last week it had raised the severity of that leak from level 1, an “anomaly”, to level 3, a “serious incident”, on an eight-point scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency for radiological releases.

Earlier, the utility belatedly confirmed reports that a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day. Experts said those leaks, which are separate from the most recent incidents, may have started soon after the plant was struck by a powerful tsunami on 11 March 2011.

For some context on just how much radiation 1,800 millisieverts an hour is — nuclear workers in Japan are currently only allowed an annual accumulative radiation exposure of 50 millisieverts. With such high radiation levels, how is any work expected to get done at the site? Perhaps just by sacrificing worker’s lives (as was done to contain the Chernobyl disaster)? The real issue, though, is that there really doesn’t seem to be much getting done at all, and the situation is certainly worsening. As an example, with regard to one of the containment tanks, Business Green reports: “Tepco said radiation of 230 millisieverts an hour had been measured at another tank, up from 70 millisieverts last month.” Quite an increase for only one month.

For a bit more information on the level of professionalism that’s accompanying this disaster, read to this:

Tepco admitted recently that only two workers had initially been assigned to check more than 1,000 storage tanks on the site. Neither of the workers carried dosimeters to measure their exposure to radiation, and some inspections had not been properly recorded.

That really inspires confidence in the company’s ability to manage a full-scale nuclear disaster doesn’t it?

As it currently stands, the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant is expected to last at least 40 years, and cost, at the very least, tens of billions of dollars.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this quote from the chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority: “We cannot fully stop contaminated water leaks right away. That’s the reality. The water is still leaking in to the sea, and we should better assess its environmental impact.”

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Ryouichi Kawaguchi

    In ” the areas of 0.3 square kilometers” that Prime Minister Abe insisted when performing the presentation of the Olympics bidding,half seawater in the harbor goes in and out.

    But that’s a blessed lie.It is a downright lie.That was a bold face lie.An outright lie.A blazing lie.A downright lie.An out-and-out lie.A barefaced lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    First point, an intercept wall against water is still under construction.Completely blocked???????????????????

    An underwater curtain called “SILT FENCE” is installed at the gate of the East breakwater in order to prevent expansion of the radioactivity in the gulf.

    But there is no “SILT FENCE” between the North breakwater and South breakwater .

    At least,Japan should build a new “SILT FENCE” between the North breakwater and South breakwater quickly.

    I think that scientists of all over the world will begin to criticize lies and bluffs of Prime Minister Abe soon.

    Prime Minister Abe spends public funds and is going to install an ice wall under the ground , but every scientist insists that an ice wall does not last for a long time.

    Even if they hope to let the ground freeze all the time, the ice wall will collapse if a cooling machine breaks down.

    There aren’t any scientists insisting that contaminated water is turned off by the method of an ice wall under the ground,old humbug Abe .

    Please spread this information in order to perform “the Shelter Implementation Plan which were covered with special material like Chernobyl for preventing the radioactivity diffusion and an outflow of the contaminated water” for Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

    I want to protect Japan .

  • Ronald Brakels

    Be the first at your nuclear disaster area to purchase TEPCO Joo Janta 200 Peril Sensitive Dosimeters! Specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude towards nuclear contamination. At the first hint of radiation they completely disappear taking with them both responsibility and liability! Get yours today!

  • Adam Grant

    Hopefully these cleanup efforts will spur the development of more-capable robots and/or remotely-operated vehicles and equipment. The main task appears to be moving large numbers of spent fuel rods from their damaged temporary storage ponds to a safer long-term storage facility, ideally some distance from the high-risk Fukushima site.

  • agelbert

    I see a lot of shortened life spans.

    Here’s some info the pro-nuclear folks, when they aren’t vociferously denying how dangerous these poison factories called nuclear power plants are, always fail to mention.

    “A big 1,250 megawatt nuclear plant produces the equivalent of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year during its life.”

    ” At least 450 former uranium miners have already died of lung cancer, five times the national average.” Nuclear power is a dead end.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Why would a nuclear plant produce CO2?

      • agelbert

        Well, if you want some real punch, you can always quote this free e-book called The Code Killers.

        You will learn about gamed epidemiological studies near nuclear power plants that have revealed (before they were gamed) a consistent pattern of cancer clustering around nuclear power plants. And they are mostly childhood cancers, by the way.

        You will learn how radioisotopes (at allegedly benign levels according to our government) destroy the ability of DNA to self repair and increase cancerous cells by switching off the apoptosis (programmed natural cell death after a normal life span) in cells.

        The Code Killers:

        Why DNA and ionizing radiation are a dangerous mix

        An expose of the nuclear industry

        by Ace Hoffman

        First Published: Fall 2008

      • Mining the ore and refining it to uranium uses carbon fuels.
        Enriching the uranium uses carbon fuels.
        Milling the uranium into pellets and producing the metal to construct the fuel rods uses carbon fuels.
        All the concrete and steel in the nuclear power plant uses a lot of carbon fuels. The construction takes place over 10-20 years.

        Constructing the dry casks uses carbon fuels.
        Decommissioning the power plant takes a lot of carbon fuels – this takes about as long to do as the productive lifespan of the power plant – about 40 years!
        Long term nuclear waste storage has to remain secure and safe and not leak for THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF YEARS!

        The numbers I have seen are that a nuclear power plant produces about 2/3’s as much carbon as coal. We can argue about the exact number, but the fact remains that nuclear is *not* a carbon free energy source.

        And the fact remains that nuclear power is an incredibly dangerous and very costly way TO BOIL WATER.

        C’mon folks – can you think of a better way to boil water?


        • Bill_Woods

          “The numbers I have seen are that a nuclear power plant produces about 2/3’s as much carbon as coal.”

          Wildly off the mark. Nuclear, wind, and solar are all about the same for carbon intensity: 10s of grams per kilowatt-hour versus 100s for fossil fuels.

          • Bill, I find that very hard to believe. A nuclear power plant is built from a gawd-awfully huge amount of concrete and steel, and getting the uranium from ore to finished fuel rods is also a several year long process. Decommissioning is also very large in terms of carbon – and the many *millenniums* of keeping the nuclear waste safe and secure is hard to comprehend.

            Renewable energy can be used to build the next generation of renewable systems; while nuclear plants only last 40-60 years and they cannot be used to build the next generation.

            And there is the tiny problem of radioactivity and highly poisonous plutonium…


          • Bob_Wallace

            These are lifetime carbon footprints from a NREL study…

            Coal median 1,001 grams

            Nuclear median 12 grams (4 to 110 gram range)

            Wind energy median 11 grams (3 to 45 gram range)

            Amorphous silicon solar 20 grams

            Cadmium-telluride solar 14 grams

            Copper indium gallium diselenide solar 26 grams

            CSP trough solar 26 grams

            CSP tower solar 38 grams

            11 grams is 1.1% of coal’s carbon footprint

            38 grams is 3.8% of coal’s carbon footprint

            110 grams is 11% of coal’s carbon footprint


          • Bob_Wallace

            Oops, forgot to attach the graph….

          • Right – I’m guessing that what they are leaving out of the nuclear total is long term storage, or even the decommissioning of the plants. For Vermont Yankee and Yankee Rowe they are talking about this process taking decades; maybe even 40+ years. And obviously, the long term storage of the nuclear waste will be with us for many MILLENNIUMS…

            Since the US government has promised to “take care” of the waste, they have conveniently left it out of the energy overhead calculations.


          • Bob_Wallace

            Decommissioning is supposed to be covered by a fund that reactors pay into. Whether all the money needed will be available is not guaranteed. Just a short time back the value of the fund was less than what was needed because the stock market was down.

            Long term waste storage is on the taxpayer. As it most of the liability in the event of a significant meltdown.

            Storage is never calculated into the cost of nuclear. Neither is the extra capacity needed in the event of reactors going off line.

          • Carbon costs are different than money, as you know, I’m sure. People used to think that nuclear was carbon free, which is obviously wrong.

            Nuclear is finite, as well – there is a fixed amount of uranium in the ground. So, it is unsustainable at at least three levels.

            Solar heat is a *far* better way to boil water. Much lower carbon, no fuel at all, and virtually no waste.


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