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TEPCO discloses extent of radioactive tritium leak into ocean

37 Comments

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has given its first public estimate of the size of the leakage of radioactive tritium into the Pacific Ocean since the disaster.

Between 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of the substance is estimated to have leaked into the sea since May 2011, said Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

It was the first such figure TEPCO has released since a massive tsunami led to the accident in March 2011, a spokesman said Sunday.

The disaster sent reactors into meltdown and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

It was only last month that the embattled operator confirmed long-held suspicions of ocean contamination from the shattered reactors, as Japan's nuclear watchdog cast doubt on the utility's earlier claims that the toxic water was contained in the facility.

But TEPCO said the scale of the radioactive tritium leak, from May 2011 to July 2013, was around the level which had been allowed under safety regulations before the accident -- 22 trillion becquerels annually at the six-reactor plant.

The utility said it would also estimate the amount of cancer-causing strontium which may have leaked over the years.

The operator has also said the levels of underground water have risen as workers built shields to prevent groundwater seeping out into the ocean.

The company -- which faces huge clean-up and compensation costs -- has struggled with a massive amount of radioactive water accumulating as a result of continuing water injections to cool reactors.

A series of problems at the reactor site, including TEPCO's secretiveness, has drawn blunt criticism at home and abroad.

Foreign nuclear experts late last month blasted TEPCO's lack of transparency over radioactive leaks.

"These actions indicate that you (TEPCO) don't know what you are doing... you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people," Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told a panel in Tokyo.

© (C) 2013. AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Tepco is starting to remind me of that Orange Hair dude that runs around in kicks people in the jewels ....they expect you to laugh and brush it off after its done. You would think that after two years they'd have put in a system where they could keep/contain recirculating the water they are using instead watching it leak away ( we'll all see the actual numbers lost change ) here come the two headed fish !

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sickening what happens to our oceans. Sad too that it seems the only ones willing to speak truth to power are people that are no longer on the industry payroll.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This article belongs in the Crime section.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Kudos to Mr. Klein.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And still not a single charge for anyone, when this company and country start demanding that people take some actual responsibility?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

20 to 40 trillion Becquerels? I would have laughed this figure off as exaggerated, but seeing that it's Tepco we are talking about, I'd actually double the numbers.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Ok... any reason we could still believe to Tepco. Hiding facts is their speciality.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I get the impression that they are releasing information like this in dribs and drabs, as a way of desensitizing the general public to all the bad news.

And I am disgusted by the lukewarm or downright apathetic response of the Japanese people. Do they really not care at all?

12 ( +13 / -1 )

But TEPCO said the scale of the radioactive tritium leak, from May 2011 to July 2013, was around the level which had been allowed under safety regulations before the accident—22 trillion becquerels annually at the six-reactor plant.

Is this true? Safety regulations allow for 22 trillion becquerels annually to be dumped into the environment?

This seems like an absurdly high number.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I hate their defiant attitude. They only reveal matters ear pleasing to the public.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The utility said it would also estimate the amount of cancer-causing strontium which may have leaked over the years.

They already know the figures, I do not believe 1 second that only tritium leaked, remember how they focused on reporting cesium only, now tritium, how can somebody think they are estimating 1 isotope at a time..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Between 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of the substance is estimated to have leaked into the sea since May 2011, said Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

The keyword is estimated, meaning TEPCO has no idea and could be double or triple the amount. Lets ask some real researchers please

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Let's hear about the Strontium, which is a lot more dangerous and for much longer, I believe.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The real figure is probably triple this as we know tepco usualy under estimate or under state things.

I gave up eating fish from around japan ages ago as you cannot trust the labelling of where it came from either, shame as I did enjoy fish atleast once a week.

Go tepco you have single handidly destroyed the coastal fishery and you are rapidly destroying japan's credibilty with your continued cover ups and BS.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Tessa, well said on both accounts.

The world would scream if TEPCO actually came out with all the info at once and demand something be done. A little at a time ensures that the Japanese public and news doesn't really care and the world doesn't really get the impact of what TEPCO and the Japanese government are up against, and up to. It is disgusting. Though not surprising.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

So, when are the real (ie. INDEPENDENT) experts going to take over and charges be laid?

Oh, that's right - NEVER.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

You can NOT be surprised by this. Wait til the whole truth leaks out. Then, well, you truly will be sickened.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is a useful reference tool on radiation exposure levels:

http://xkcd.com/radiation/

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pure ass clowns, they dont know what they are doing and now the government is helping to cover it. This is the worst example of trying to save face.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“These actions indicate that you (TEPCO) don’t know what you are doing… you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people,”

I think we all know this to be true, but the only people that seem to be concerned are the foreign and international communities. As hard as I try I cannot get Japanese people to comment on this. Many of them have no idea what is going in Fukushima and others just have an apathetic comment like, "They are doing their best". They are not doing their best! They are doing it as cheaply as possible with untrained and unskilled workers and using the cheapest materials and 'quick-fixes' they can. This is not a milk spill in a supermarket! It's a double meltdown of nuclear reactors that pumping radioactive water into the sea and the local environment that will stay poisonous for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Japan is 'supposed to be' one of the highest technically advanced countries in the world, yet there is this SNAFU going on with nobody being held accountable. Does TEPCO actually have a plan or are they just making it up as they go?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Do you really believe what TEPCO is telling you? If the leak was within ' safety ' standards why didn't they confess this earlier???? It tells you one thing and that is TEPCO doesn't know what to do and what they are doing. They have no clue to solving the problem. Having said this do you want all the other nuclear plants that have been shut down to be re-started and, especially after the earthquake yesterday????

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And I am disgusted by the lukewarm or downright apathetic response of the Japanese people. Do they really not care at all?

They are brought up this way. It is ingrained in them. It's part of that unusual culture we all went to Japan to experience in the first place. Don't blame them for it. They don't think like we do. I can't believe so many non-Japanese who know/live in Japan keep asking this same question.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

They don't think like we do. I can't believe so many non-Japanese who know/live in Japan keep asking this same question.

So we should all treat them like the idiots you claim they are? While I think there are indeed issues here, your comments are belittling and condescending.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

TEPCO should be taken over by a group of responsible people and they should then be tried in world court for what they have done! **

6 ( +6 / -0 )

TEPCO should be taken over by a group of responsible people and they should then be tried in world court for what they have done! **

Crimminal charges should be brought to bare on all those involved in the planning building approving and running of this giant cluster f... of a problem called fukushima nuclear plant. From the architect all the way up to the prime ministers at the time of building.

Then who was ever in charge of safety in govt office during the whole time this place was running, the people of japan and the rest of the world should not have to perserve through the disaster of this lot's negilgence and corruption.

H E A D S SHOULD R O L L

It is baffling how this has not happened already.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Francis, I see where you getting from, but a lot of Japanese are aware that it's not going ok. There were demonstrations, there are politicians speaking against it.

And here's the thing, I can't be as optimistic about the West as most of you guys. I think the same apathy would happen in the West, or if there were protests, they would be suffocated quickly, see Occupy Wallstreet, protest against the invasion of Irak, the indignados protest movement in Spain, Gezi park in Istanbul (though not strictly in the West), etc

The only difference would be probably that industry heads would roll, and concrete actions taken would be probably quicker. Some countries would be still hiding things (France for instance lied to the French about Chernobyl).

But yes a overall, worrying status - irrational maybe but if I had children I would be extremely careful with food and letting them swim the sea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why is no one in jail?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Between 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of the substance is estimated to have leaked into the sea since May 2011, said Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

Given TEPCO's history and future of lies, feel free to double or tripple the estimate figure given ......

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Congratulations Japan you now have the largest nuclear disaster in the world!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"They don't think like we do."

If "we" is referring to commenters on this site, you may have a point. Perhaps people are not protesting because they are busy trying to find out whether 40 trillion becquerels is something to be worried about. And in so doing, they might be scratching their heads when they discover that scrap steel from gas plants may be recycled if it has less than 500,000 Bq/kg. Or that oil and gas production in the North Sea between Scotland and Norway adds 10 TBq/yr of Ra-226, Ra-228 & Pb-210 to the sea and no one bats an eyelid. Or working out how many becquerels are added to their food from the fertilizers that are spread on fields around the world.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

albaleo: "And in so doing, they might be scratching their heads when they discover that scrap steel from gas plants may be recycled if it has less than 500,000 Bq/kg. Or that oil and gas production in the North Sea between Scotland and Norway adds 10 TBq/yr of Ra-226, Ra-228 & Pb-210 to the sea and no one bats an eyelid."

So you're suggesting all the corrupt corporations in the world team up and do their worst because you can't hold one accountable when another gets away with it and we should do nothing? Hope you don't have kids. I especially hope you don't have kids who have eaten fish from the regions where today's admittance of yesterday's problems you are 'not a problem'.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@smithinjapan

"So you're suggesting all the corrupt corporations in the world team up and do their worst...."

No, I'm not suggesting that. But the fact that you come to that conclusion bears out my original point that commenters on this site often display little intelligence when discussing these matters. TEPCO may be corrupt or not. But the rantings on this site make me no wiser about the matter. Thank you for the concern for my kids. Should I be concerned that they have eaten fish over the last 10 years from an area of sea that apparently has had more radiation pumped into it than that leaked from Fukushima?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, the releases are estimated and the facts, like the constant radiation just keep building up and up! Nobody knows where and just what tonnes of melted radioactive fuel does when it has burst its steel containment and is eating its way through the earth.Many people feel lost and powerless to act and for those of us in Japan it is an ongoing trauma. One way I feel less anxious is to have a plan to leave Japan.If events become more severe then leaving is an option. At the moment, whilst in Japan a great deal of my food is sourced from farmers directly.I also, look for mass produced food from western Japan-it can be found. Department stores stock a varied amount of regional foods. Events held on the higher floors are good chances to build contacts with regional producers or online is useful for sourcing. For those with children,English or another language should be compulsory-your children will have ability to transition to another culture much more easily. There are a myriad of steps we can all take to ensure we continue our lives....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well said Dale Klein!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Granted, other companies as well as other countries in the world have done many wrong things in the past, or in the future for that matter, That should not grant TEPCO a hall-pass to commit such incomprehensible wrongdoing in such large scales for two and a half years.

Moreover, the incompetence of the TEPCO combined with inaction of Japanese government seems to be the root causes to allow such tragedy to unfold further.

Question: should a country prioritize its resources to send its rackets to space and beef up budgetary spending to "defend" itself , or defuse a potential environmental time bomb that could seriously endangered its people's well-bing in near future and deploy remedies to contain the radioactive run-off without delay? take your pick.

Interesting enough, today NRA come out of the woodwork, declaring that radioactive water at Fukushima is creating an "emergency".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever the Japanese Govt says, x 100.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you look, bet you that 60% all nuclear plants in Japan are leaking this substance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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