Friday, March 2, 2018
Fukushima Daiichi’s Ongoing Assault Against the Ocean
The Asahi Shimbun has a very interesting article today about Fukushima Daiichi’s very expensive ice wall that was designed as a barrier preventing contaminated ground water from flowing into the sea:
Masanobu Higashiyama and Yusuke Ogawa (2018, March 2). TEPCO defends Fukushima ‘ice wall,’ but it is still too porous. THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803020042.html
This is a very interesting article worth reading carefully.
What it says is that the ice wall reduced the amount of contaminated water reaching the ocean by approximately 95 tons a day.
That is a significant amount but raises the question of how many tons of contaminated water continue to penetrate the ice wall. This is what the article reports:
“Contaminated groundwater was cut in half due to the wall,” a TEPCO official said.
TEPCO estimated that the volume of polluted groundwater would have amounted to about 189 tons if the ice wall had not been in place during that period.
The utility also said the amount of polluted groundwater was reduced by about 400 tons a day now due to combined measures, such as the wall and wells pumping up water, compared with before such measures were taken.http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803020042.html
This is getting confusing. TEPCO reduced the ground water by 400 tons a day, using wells and pumping, and is able to filter out 95 tons of what would be 189 tons a day of radioactive water.
But it gets more confusing because the 189 tons of radioactive water produced daily aren’t actually representative of the tons of radioactive water produced when it rains hard, as reported in the article:
The water volume rose to 1,000 tons or so a day in late October when two typhoons struck the area.
So, when it rains hard, which it often does in Fukushima I’ve noted in my nearly daily webcam checks for 7 years, up to a thousand tons of radioactive water can be produced, with the ice wall filtering out approximately 95 tons a day.
That is a lot of very contaminated water that is flowing into the ocean.
The problems with the ice wall were well anticipated, as this article in the Mainichi reported in August 2017 when the wall neared completion:
High-priced Fukushima ice wall nears completion, but effectiveness doubtful August 16, 2017, https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170816/p2a/00m/0na/016000c
But while 34.5 billion yen from government coffers has already been invested in the wall, doubts remain about its effectiveness. Meanwhile, the issue of water contamination looms over decommissioning work….. during screening by the NRA, which had approved the project, experts raised doubts about how effective the ice wall would be in blocking groundwater. The ironic reason for approving its full-scale operation, in the words of NRA acting head Toyoshi Fuketa, was that, “It has not been effective in blocking water, so we can go ahead with freezing with peace of mind” — without worrying that the level of groundwater surrounding the reactor buildings will decrease, causing the contaminated water inside to flow out.
At that time, TEPCO reports success in reducing the volume of contaminated water produced everyday from 400 tons to approximately 130 tons.
All these numbers don’t seem to add up cleanly. The one thing clearly concluded is that quite a lot of contaminated water is flowing from the plant directly into the ocean.
This is water contaminated from direct contract with melted nuclear reactor fuel.
What impact will this have on the Pacific Ocean?
I’ve posted on this subject but the truth is that no one really knows what this unprecedented radiological assault will do to an eco-system already imperiled by human degradation.
Recently a friend – Douglas – sent me a link describing decimation of California’s kelp forests.
If you Google these disappearing forests off California’s northern coast, you will see articles that blame the sea lions for the disappearing kelp (e.g., https://www.newsdeeply.com/oceans/articles/2017/10/10/sea-urchins-are-laying-waste-to-kelp-forests-and-an-entire-ecosystem), while other articles place the blame on warmer water produced by climate change (e.g., https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-oceans-warm-the-worlds-giant-kelp-forests-begin-to-disappear).
I’m sure that both these factors may play a role but what is completely marginalized from conversation is the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
There were plenty of research studies that projected and detected empirically radiological contamination off of North America’s coast as marine currents bring Fukushima Daiichi’s contaminated water across the Pacific and back again, forever adding new contaminants.
We must find a way to prevent the death of life in our oceans or we will soon follow.