As the Hawai’i Islands and the Pacific Coast continue to get bombarded with Japan’s tsunami debris, it gets harder to ignore the fact that radionuclides are a part of the debris as well. Radiation has been leaking from the plant for nearly two years (millions of bq per hour) and just because it’s “invisible” (or we’re not thinking about it), doesn’t make it go away (or make it dilute/sink/evaporate into nothing). We try to ignore that fish are becoming contaminated and instead pretend it will only affect fish caught in Fukushima waters (as if migrating fish no longer migrate). One fish they tested last week had 2,500 times the legal limit – or 254,000 bq per kilo of cesium alone (so much for radiation levels going down). At least there had been some illusion that Tepco was removing and storing the radioactive water but we were warned they were running out of places to put it. Not anymore.
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Thursday it plans to dump contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean after removing radioactive substances to reduce contamination to legally permissible levels. –Kyodo News
Tepco officially announced they will be releasing millions of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. They’re simply waiting for permission. No, not from some international regulatory commission – seems Japan only need the okay from “departments” within Japan. Hello Greenpeace? EPA? Obama? (lol re: that last one – think he’s busy droning children or maybe he’s working on a new song with Beyonce). Isn’t this an issue that affects the world? Aren’t there some rules against dumping radioactive waste? Wait, there is a lil’ ole international law often referred to as the “London Convention” or “LC ’72″. And yes, Japan signed it – twice!:
The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, passed in 1972, forbids nations and companies from dumping toxic wastes into the ocean. –Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matters
Yeah, that’s a law that’s never been broken.
Fact is, the plant has been “accidentally” leaking contaminated water regularly – into the basement, the groundwater, the ocean… and that doesn’t even begin to figure in the runoff and dumping of radioactive sludge into Japan’s waterways – nor the fact that the corium has… left the building. And while TEPCO pumps huge amounts of water to cool the reactors and then filters it, the SARRY system they use mostly removes the cesium, leaving a high degree of other isotopes potentially including strontium, uranium, plutonium (no biggie). Their new Toshiba water filtration system – called ALPS – was supposed to be in effect starting last September, and the inability to get it operational is part of the problem.
ALPS: A new water purifying facility of Toshiba, is supposed to filter 62 sorts of nuclides including strontium. They expected to start the facility by this September, but because of the orders and reorganization of NISA and NRA, they can not start Alps yet. It’s not even known when they can start it. Tepco’s comment made it clear that the operation of ALPS justifies Tepco to discharge the contaminated water into the environment. –Fukushima Diary
This dumping isn’t going to solve the problem. TEPCO estimates the volume of contaminated water required to be stored on site will likely triple over the next three years. If no “first-world” country can friggin’ help Japan figure out their nuclear nightmare, can’t we at least lend them some storage containers? You know, something that can hold a few billion tons of radioactive water?
Arnie Gundersen discussed the issue in December 2011, when TEPCO had announced they were going to dump contaminated water. Protests by local fishermen got them to scrap the idea – hopefully they can do it again.
I wrote to Kauai Surfrider today to ask their stance on the issue. They told me to write to Surfrider Japan. I suppose that’s a good idea, but I do wish Surfrider Hawai’i would be on top of an issue that is going to affect the waters throughout the Pacific, not just in terms of tsunami debris.
Remember that dishwashing soap commercial, where the manicurist Madge has her client’s hand in a bowl of Palmolive? “You’re soaking in it!” (I suppose Madge stating “it’s mild” could be comparable to TEPCO or our government stating “it’s safe” in reference to any dose of radiation). Well, surfers, you’re surfing in it! And if surfers and fishermen ain’t going to complain, who will? We shouldn’t sit back or wait for some “agency” to control the situation, because it obviously ain’t happening. All we can do at this point is spread the word and yell a little louder.
Read more on the ocean situation from previous Fukushima tagged posts here at CoconutGirlWireless, as well as Majia’s Blog:
And check out NOAA’s Marine Pollution: Ocean Dumping page with links and resources regarding regulations to prevent, reduce, and control pollution of the marine environment.