TEPCO's STRONTIUM FEAR - Fukushima's Groundwater Situation and the Hidden Strontium-90 Threat to the Pacific (updated 12/9/13)
UPDATE: 7.5 million bq/m3 of strontium-90 in groundwater adjacent to Unit 1 - holy cow, that's more than six times the previous value, a new record too- source. This value might be 5-10% lower than the actual value due to 'new analyzing' methods for strontium
Recent disclosures by TECPO of severely contaminated groundwater at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex have been raising eyebrows in activist communities and beyond. TEPCO has recently been finding in boreholes drilled just meters from the ocean stratospheric quantities of radioactivity, including cesium-134, cesium-137, strontium-90 and tritium. At first, TEPCO said this radiation - near the shoreline, but below the surface - originated 'from initial leaks that have remained since earlier in the crisis' and that stayed near the plant inside the bay. BUT THEY WERE WRONG! This was from leaks. This was radiation that was bleeding from the reactors or the coriums and contaminated the groundwater, which has been flowing to sea all along.
TEPCo can't hide the truth about the groundwater leaks, so they are now trying to conceal the growing levels of certain radionuclides. Since the earliest days of the disaster TEPCo has been disinclined to disclose to the public the levels of strontium-89 and strontium-90, even after their own workers were hurt by the stuff in radiation exposure incidents. Dr. Genn Saji, a former Secretariat of Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission, commented on a blog he maintained during the early part of the nuclear disaster that: "It is very strange that the radiation concentration data by TEPCO continue to ignore presence of Sr-89 and Sr-90 in spite of the...injuries..." Dr. Saji was referencing the news that three TEPCO workers' feet were burned by a radiation source in standing water. He postulated that the burns were due to the radiostrontiums; he wrote, "Considering the beta-ray burn incident of the three electricians irradiated in the skin of their feet, it is obvious that these radioactive species should be included in the contaminated water. It is likely the radiation injury was though [sic] Sr-89, considering its high concentrations."
TEPCo is STILL ignoring the presence of strontium-90, like it did with strontium-89 (which has since mostly decayed away; it has a relatively short half-life). Yet levels of strontium-90, which is a radioactive isotope that hazardously sticks around in the environment for over 300 years, keep increasing in groundwater concentrations at Fukushima - see chart in light blue color.
Why is TEPCo doing this? Probably because since DAY 1 they knew that strontium-90 was going to be the biggest toxicological problem related to Fukushima in the PACIFIC OCEAN. Here's why...First, one billion people rely on Pacific Ocean wild-caught food for 100% of their protein needs. Two, strontium-90 (and even more so than cesium) is very WATER SOLUBLE. It travels in the soil and roots of plants up, up, up the food chain into 'top feeders,' like cow, whales and humans and so forth. The situation is no different in the ocean food chain. The strontium-90 released via historic AND future groundwater leaks and dumping at Fukushima will travel up the marine food chain and accumulate in the bones and teeth of at least a billion human beings over the next few decades. Three, low levels of strontium-90 are very dangerous. The critical worry about atmospheric nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s was strontium-90 in childrens' teeth. That was a chief reason why John F. Kennedy signed the 1963 treaty banning open air nuclear explosions. So, we're going to see a strontium-90 build-up in the skeletons of living humans again thanks to the containment failures at Fukushima and the failure of public health entities to quarantine contaminated wild-caught Pacific sea-products. No one sees this health epidemic coming. But it is coming. Health authorities think that low levels of strontium-90 are safe. THEY ARE NOT. The daily global intake in the 1960s of foods tainted with just 1-5 becquerels per kilogram of strontium-90, which was sustained for years and years half a century ago, created a grave health (and cancer) epidemic globally. Hundreds of thousands of infants perished in hospitals and, later, tens of millions of cancer deaths resulted from this mass biological insult to life. (Free book chapter about this claim)
TEPCo and its advisors know this, the history and the physics and the rest of it. So, that's why TEPCo announced in mid July 2013 that it was (a) reducing the frequency of analysis of Sr90 in sea samples and (b) was planning to cease reporting measurements (of Sr90) in becquerels, and instead in (erroneous) units of dose or other parameters - likely meant to confuse and mislead. By late 2013, it has become evident that TEPCo has become so fearful of public reaction to increasing levels of strontium-90 that it had to stop making any mention of it. They've become so serious about this that since August 2013 they have stopped disclosing the levels of strontium-90 found in groundwater and seawater. In lieu of reporting strontium-90 levels, TEPCo began instead reporting only gross measurements (in groundwater and seawater samples) in the 'beta radiation' category, which comprises isotopes of strontium, cesium, tritium and other chemicals. This is a tactic aimed at misleading the public. Beta radiation includes such radionuclide groups as cesium, strontium, tritium, and dozens of other isotopes of chemical elements formed by nuclear fission (look at a trilinear chart; the betas are in broken-lined boxes).
What people need to know is that strontium-90 poses a greater danger, unit for unit, than tritium or cesium to human health and the environment, and strontium-90 will be entering the environment via groundwater flows in amounts many, many times that released by air during the meltdowns in 2011. STRONTIUM-90 is not usually a tremendous issue in reactor meltdown volatilization but it will be a tremendous problem in groundwater contamination from a 'meltthrough'. It is very water soluble and WORSE THAN CESIUM-134 OR CESIUM 137 OR TRITIUM to human health.
The real worrisome part is, as the coriums become fully immersed in the Earth's hydrosphere, we could soon be seeing radioactive measurements of strontium, cesium, tritium, and soon perhaps even plutonium, reaching record high levels as TEPCO admits the truth or throws up its hands and says it has no way or plan of dealing with UNCONTROLLED groundwater FLOWS containing RECORD LEVELS OF RADIATION for years or decades!
Scientists are more or less in consensus - though this is a conservative estimate in my view - that Fukushima in 2011 released into the marine environment 1,000 TRILLION becquerels of strontium-90 (into the Pacific). In 2012, 2013 and beyond, the quantity of strontium-90 released through groundwater leaks will surpass this, easily. Why? A) These coriums contain MILLIONS OF TRILLIONS of becquerels of strontium-90. B) The corium's whereabouts are unknown. C) Groundwater contamination is getting worse; on July 12, 2013, a TEPCO worker said 450 tons of groundwater flow into the Pacific everyday. D) Groundwater is flowing out to sea near the surface and also going down a fault (line) that runs under the nuclear complex hundreds of feet into an aquifer leading to the sea. Bottom line: the flow of huge strontium-90 quantities present in water CANNOT be plugged. (Japanese Mayor Effortlessly Sums Up Impossibility of Stopping Radioactive Groundwater-Sea Contamination Crisis) TEPCO knows this. TEPCO is not only turning a blind eye to strontium-90, they are taking a page from the Hanford playbook and refusing to test for deep contamination. (Follow the preceding links, esp. the one about Hanford to understand how the U.S. government fools Americans about groundwater contamination issues at its nuclear disaster sites).
Barriers may be built by TEPCO around its reactors, but this is window-dressing; barriers will simply back up the groundwater and result in the following: increase drainage into the fault, overflow scenarios (and faster flows of tainted water), thwarting or overwhelming of pumping AND STORAGE capability, and an increased potential that reactor structures will be crushed from the water pressure! If the entire REACTOR SITE becomes a type of 'soup' - if it is all turned into the quote unquote saturated zone - the reactors could lose their stability and move, or sink. In an earthquake, the moist ground could experience liquefaction: it could behave as water even though it (the soil) is a solid. This would be very bad.
Don't look at what TEPCO is telling you. Look at what they're not telling you. Look at what they're afraid of. During World War II, the Allies floated the idea of dropping strontium-90 on the German population. The idea was rejected because the dropping off of the victims would take too long. Well, TEPCo doesn't have that problem. They have the reverse problem. They need people to begin dying of radiation in so distant of a future that the death-giving wounds from their radiological 'stabbing of life' won't be linked to them. That's the gift that the natural laws of radiation biology provides to our masters. It usually takes so long for cancers to develop that cause and effect is not easily established. However, that doesn't mean that liability can't be established and that no judicial remedy for radiation victims is possible. Stay tuned right here for more about that topic in the future.
UPDATE 12/3/13: What is the point of keeping up to date on radiation levels in groundwater and the nearby sea at Fukushima? We're just the first of tens of hundreds or perhaps thousands of generations who will 'man' the environmental radiation recording shift. The workshifts - the reporting, analysis and flipping out - will go on and on for many millenia. The reason is simple: JAPAN WON'T SPEND THE MONEY TO CONTAIN THIS MELTDOWN/MELTTHRU. So, what do we do? Do we take the worst case scenario and pretend it IS going to happen and that no one will stop it? That's pretty depressing, isn't it? This is (or should be) a serious concern and quandry, especially for those who dedicate their time and energy to nuclear reporting. Think of Fukushima as a nuclear volcano that won't be dormant until a thousand years from now...and which poses a grave threat every day of those thousand years... what's the role of activist-reporters if we only live during a small fraction of the total activity??
UPDATE2: Of the 1,100 (or so) storage tanks at the nuclear complex holding EXTREMELY radioactive liquid waste, MANY are leaking. Even taken out of context of the ongoing 'level 7' Fukushima nuclear disaster, these disastrous spills are considered BAD. As it turns out, the leak crisis has received a distinct crisis categorization, classed 'a level 3' on an eight point international scale (INES).
UPDATE1: Onsite contaminated water at Fukushima contains 3x the cesium released by Chernobyl (and Mighty Oak) -- SOURCE
What TEPCO, marine mammal scientists, and the U.S. FDA are NOT TELLING YOU about radiation dangers to you and your family
The seals and polar bears who suffered external maladies in 2011 were likely BURNED by radiation
Commentor 'greens-5677457' noted on an April 8, 2012 article titled 'Fur loss, open sores seen in polar bears' on MSNBC.com that:
'Despite what article states, these are OBVIOUS signs of Radiation Burn from the Fukushima meltdown. That is why they occur the same in similar species- Friends of mine in Hawaii have lost pets to the radiation within 2-3 months of the Tsunami (lymphoma, other cancers), don't believe this media blackout- these symptoms will start occurring in humans soon.'
Since the summer of 2011, U.S. scientists have observed several dozen living and dead Pacific Ocean marine mammals with a strangely similar condition of skin sores and hair loss. These animals may be suffering from 'beta burns,' which are caused by significant external exposure to 'beta emitters' such as radiostrontiums, which were released in copious quantities to the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011.
TEPCO workers too were burned
In early April 2011 three TEPCO workers received severe injuries from contaminated water, the suspected culprit: strontium-89. Although this was never acknowledged in the news media, we wrote as a daily post (link removed for now) on April 7, 2011: "Dr. Genn Saji, the former Secretariat of Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission, who was daily commenting on the developments of the Fukushima crisis, believed that the beta-burn radiation injuries of the three TEPCO workers was the result of high concentrations of strontium-89 in water." The TEPCO workers sustained radiation injuries to their feet while in standing water. Shamefully, TEPCO ignored the obvious culprit of these 'beta burns,' which were strontium-89 and/or strontium-90, both 'beta-emitters' commonly found in nuclear spent fuel.
Radiation burns externally and does worse internally
These beta-emitters have been released in staggering quantities into the Pacific and, upon contact with a victim, can cause external injuries including hair loss, sores and lesions. These are the symptoms of the struggling and dead seals and polar bears in the Arctic. Worse for us, strontiums and other radioactive isotopes throughout the Pacific Ocean are available for internal contamination because humans eat sea plants and animals. Consider that Alaska-caught fish and marine mammals in the late 1950s tested by scientists were found to be an order of magnitude more radioactive in strontium-90 content than most land-grown foods. (Source: 'Radiological Health Data,' January 1961, U.S. Public Health Service, p. 21 ('Strontium-90 Concentrations in Food Samples Taken in State of Alaska')) (In the 1950s, which was time when a similar nuke event to a 'Fukushima' occurred, these animals were swimming and feeding in radioactive water that originated from sources thousands of miles away.) This means that food from the ocean on our dinner plates in North America is going to be the most radioactive part of our diet. In 2012 and beyond, migratory fish will bring the radiation with them, and non-migratory fish, like halibut in Alaska, are becoming radioactive because air and water currents have brought radiation towards them. Our concern is that fish harvested over the next 20 years along North America's Pacific coastline may be contaminated with unsafe levels of radioactivity.
Further reading about beta emitters still being leaked at Fuku in spring 2012
Wikipedia says about radiation burns: 'Third and fourth degree beta burns result in deeper, wet ulcerated lesions...After the Trinity test, the fallout caused localized burns on the backs of cattle in the area downwind. The fallout had the appearance of small flaky dust particles. The cattle showed temporary burns, bleeding, and loss of hair'