Energy Environment

Fukushima Radiation Leaking into Pacific Ocean

When I first spotted this story, I thought it was old. I had long ago assumed that radiation was pouring into the ocean.

Japan’s nuclear regulator says radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima power plant is probably leaking into the Pacific Ocean, a problem long suspected by experts but denied by the plant’s operator.

Officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority said a leak is “strongly suspected” and urged plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to determine where the water may be leaking from and assess the environmental and other risks, including the impact on the food chain. The watchdog said Wednesday it would form a panel of experts to look into ways to contain the problem.

I suppose we’ll need a Geiger Counter to check our seafood. Thanks, nuclear energy!

  • BlueTrooth

    We already have the most awesome nuclear reactor creating enough energy to power the entire globe…the Sun. If it ain’t broke, use it.

  • gescove

    Yet despite all the horrendous pitfalls of nuclear power – uranium mining, processing, transport, leaks, meltdowns, explosions, spent fuel storage – there are plenty of people claiming it’s THE solution to global warming. By all means, let’s die of radiation poisoning instead. Good plan!

    • Clancy

      I am fairly certain that very few proponents of nuclear energy insist that it is the perfect solution to sustaining energy consumption. Most instead focus on the totality of consumption of natural resources that are present in other systems (coal, natural gas, oil, hydroelectric dams, etc.) that are basically also destructive to nature and harmful to human health. While nuclear accidents are scary, they are responsible for far fewer deaths and illnesses than fossil fuel burning. What is more, scientifically, we are much more likely to develop sustainable energy production from potential future developments in nuclear than in the other primary generators of electricity.

      That being said, I would much rather we focus our efforts at developing efficient solar, wind, or ocean current-based energy production. While none of these are perfect (or currently that effective), their failings are far less disastrous and/or harmful to the health and welfare of people and the environment.

    • KPSilver

      Actually, nuclear is much safer than most other forms of energy. The cost (in money and health) of coal in particular is astronomical compared the relatively few incidents related to nuclear power. Unfortunately, nuclear power tends to be an emotional issue and gets all the headlines, kind of like how there are far fewer deaths in airplane crashes than cars, but people are irrationally scared of flying.

      Fossil fuels are hazardous to our health and in limited supply. Wind and solar are not (yet) a viable means to support our energy needs. The only rational solution is nuclear. It is clean and affordable, and the waste can be re-used several times to the point that the “problem” over spent fuel storage is grossly overstated by critics. All you need to do is look to France to see that it is not an issue.

      Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that our country will head in this direction. Since most American nuclear plants were built in the 70’s and early 80’s, they are showing expected signs of wear, and every report of a leak (no matter how minor it is) makes a nuclear future less and less likely.

      Fukushima was built in an area with a high rate of earthquakes, next to the ocean. If we just avoid these two things, we’d be in good shape. And on top of that, the new passive reactor designs use gravity to circulate emergency cooling water so that cooling is not lost during a power outage.

      It’s too bad that emotion outweighs education on this issue. We’re all suffering for it.

      • gescove

        The problem of spent fuel at Fukushima was hardly negligible. Nuclear is “clean” only through the lens (important as it is) of carbon emissions. Ask neighbors of uranium mining operations how clean the mine tailings are or if their groundwater is at risk. I think it is also far easier to directly ascribe deaths due to carbon pollution than it is to draw conclusions about radiation-induced cancers. You raise a good point about our aging reactors — there are huge financial and environmental impacts that will be borne when those reactors are finally decommissioned. I’m with @clancy… focus on developing alternatives.

        • KPSilver

          The Fukushima plant was built in 1971, and the NRC and Japan’s NISA were warning that the plant’s emergency safety features were dangerously outdated as far back as 1990 (some critics were trying to ring the alarm immediately, in 1971). Inspectors also warned that the height of the seawall left it susceptible to tsunami damage, but nothing was done.

          In general, keeping power plants of any kind in service well past their designed life span is asking for trouble. Most of our nations nuclear plants are 30 years old with outdated designs. Many of our coal plants are over 50 years old. This is like driving around in a Model T in 2013, and complaining about the lack of an airbag.

          The lack of investment in our country’s infrastructure is mind-boggling. As our nations power grid, highways, bridges, sewers, mass transit, etc is crumbling, I have no idea why we’re not doing massive public works projects. Immediate jobs boom, and with interest rates at nearly zero, money is practically free right now.

        • mrbrink

          It’s funny, whenever Bob posts anything nearing disparaging remarks about the long term viability of nuclear meltdown energy, there always seems to be some mystery commentary that chimes in with pro-nuclear power angles.

          Nuclear power isn’t cheap, clean, or safe– it’s heavily subsidized and it is currently POISONING THE PACIFIC OCEAN!

          In a world where the Republican party exists, nuclear energy is not a very good idea, unless we can store the GOP safely in Yucca mountain, but they are some seriously radioactive motherfuckers.

          • KPSilver

            Sorry for the “mystery commenter” suspicion. I’m a long time reader, but first time commenter. This issue just happens to rile me up.

            I will concede the point that with the existence (and baffling influence) of the current de-regulation obsessed Republican party, nuclear energy is quite scary. But then again, so is everything else about the current Republican party.

          • mrbrink

            I apologize if you were offended by the remark. You made some really great points all in all.

  • blackdaug

    Finally, Godzilla in real 3-D!

  • Bubble Genius

    Yeah, I thought the same thing when I saw the article – I’m sure I saw a piece on this over a year ago. There was also a short article a couple of days on the ex-manager dying of cancer – they say that it was too soon after the cleanup when he was diagnosed for it to have been caused by the meltdown, but I’m not sure if a radiation expert weighed in on that.

    And don’t ask me why, but I can only think of an HR Giger counter now and how awesome that would be, whatever it was.

    • Aaron Litz

      Whatever it was, it would be horrifying. And sexy. Horrifically sexy.